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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Use Wine Refrigerators To Keep Your Beverages In Prime Condition

It does not matter whether you have a large collection of wine or only a few bottles for the party. They can be kept under prime conditions with wine refrigerators. Nowadays they come with different varieties. Their capacities range from six to over 120 bottles. Wine coolers can can fit under a cabinet or on top of one another and with many choices in between.

Dual zone wine refrigerators

You have a new variety in wine coolers called "Dual zone wine refrigerators". They can be used to keep different bottles at different temperatures for storage or for drinking.

The great advantage of dual zone wine refrigerators is the ability to store different types of wines within the same unit. It is recommended that white wines be stored between 46 and 54 degrees and red wines at 54 to 64 degrees and in addition to offering optimum temperature control, wine refrigerators also maintain the proper humidity for wine storage.

What if you do not have space to create a wine cellar for storage?

Don't worry the solution for people like you is wine refrigerators. Most people in this situation can choose the small countertop units to keep their wines chilled and ready for drinking and even those brands that are best served at room temperature may require chilled storage to protect the integrity of the wine.

How to Protect Bottles From Shaking

Wine lovers care for their wine! Most wine lovers will treat their wines with respect. They are reluctant to shake them or allow vibrations to possibly change the taste of the wine. Most wine refrigerators brag about being vibration free with only a cooling fan moving the air to provide any motion.

Low Voltage Bulbs Vs LED's

(LED means Light Emitting Diode. Google for LED if you want to know more about it.) One more feature of some better wine refrigerators is the use of internal LED lighting to prevent uneven heating inside the unit. Even low wattage bulbs can change the temperature in a small enclosed space such as wine refrigerators, and the use of LED lights that do not emit any appreciable heat fluctuations help create a more stable environment in which to store even the most expensive vintage wines. It is however, recommended to minimize the number of times the cooler is opened to protect its valuable contents.

Wood Racks can allow better distribution of the cool air

Most wine refrigerators have wood racks on which the bottles can sit tilted slightly towards the opening end of the bottle that can allow better distribution of the cool air. Irrespective of the space available for wine refrigerators most of the tall and slender units that can hold up to a dozen bottles or larger commercial units with 120-bottle capacity can protect the wines from environmental hazards that can alter their taste and overall appeal. If you plan to buy a wine cooler take time and research in the internet or check with the customer service representative in your wine shop and buy a decent one. It should work properly even when it becomes old.

By Mark Robert

Check Out the Related Article : Italian Wine - The Long History of Italian Wine

Thursday, November 27, 2008

I'm not a wine connoisseur. I don't even own a decanter. (Some of my married friends own several.)

But I like wine, especially trying different kinds. There are tons of resources out there to help you learn about wine. But I don't have time to read them. Instead, I choose to learn by doing, or . . . by drinking. My only problem is knowing which bottle to pick.

If you put me in a wine store with over a thousand bottles, I either need a sommelier or a psychiatrist.

I usually start by studying the notes that hang by the bottles. The ones with names attached to them like Wine Spectator or Robert Parker or Bill, the stocker. I contemplate the pictures and colors of the label. I analyze the pricing structure and weigh costs and benefits. Then after an hour or so, when I'm completely frustrated, I make a completely arbitrary decision.

So I've come to this conclusion. I need help. And, since my shrink has his limits, I need to find a wine store with people who can help me through the process of buying a good bottle.

All wine stores are not created equal. Here are some of the factors to think about when choosing a wine store:

1) Selection

Don't be fooled. Having thousands of bottles is not the same as having a good selection. Many large liquor stores stockpile wine with labels that are heavily advertised and sold with the largest discount. You may walk into a store and think you've got thousands of choices, but all you really have is same bottles repeated over and over.

What makes a good selection? Look for a store: (1) with a knowledgeable wine buyer and (2) with a variety of tastes, regions, and prices. A good selection will offer both wines that are familiar and unique. Why is selection important? Think of it as playing the odds. You're much better off choosing from a few hundred wines tasted by a knowledgeable buyer than from several thousand that were trucked en masse.

2) Storage

If you walk into a store and start to sweat, turn around. Wine should not be stored at temperatures over 80 degrees, or it will lose its flavor. That's why wine is usually made and stored underground. Avoid large warehouses where the temperature may be hard to control. Seek out a wine store where the workers are happy wearing sweaters in the summer. It's likely that the wine will be well-cooled and happy too.

3) Information

A good wine store is a good source of information. Don't be afraid to ask a lot of questions and seek out staff recommendations. Many stores in Kansas City offer wine tastings, which are a great opportunity to try before you buy.

4) Price

Of course, wine prices vary widely, and I've never found one store that's consistently cheaper. Even the big discount shops are not always money savers. After you've found a store that you like based on the other three factors, you can save money by subscribing to that store's newsletters or joining its tasting club. Often, stores send out special deals and offerings to these customers first.

A special fifth category is convenience. This matters especially when you’re buying in bulk, or if you are looking for a quick pick-up on the way home from work. It's good to know where several good stores are in town, so that you'll know which one to hit whenever the feeling strikes.

Here are my picks (in no particular order) for great wine stores in Kansas City:

1. Cellar and Loft. Located in Brookside, this little shop is much more than meets the eye. The upstairs is the "Loft," a showplace of new and antique home furnishings and décor. Downstairs, you can wind your way around "Cellar," a labyrinth of sorts with a good variety of wines, beers, gourmet foods, kitchen items, and more. 112 W 63rd St, Kansas City, MO, (816) 444-2444.

2. Cellar Rat. This unique boutique in the Crossroads is the anti-superstore of wine. Cellar Rat prides itself on offering a hand-picked selection with personalized service. Cellar Rat's restored building is impressive itself. The 5,000-square-foot shop also carries artisan beers, gourmet meats, cheeses, spirits, cigars and chocolates. 1701 Baltimore Ave., Kansas City, MO (816) 221 9463.

3. Vino 100. If you are in South KC, you should check out Vino 100. Vino 100's concept is to offer over 100 bottles of wine for $25 or less. The store is well-organized and the also offers a unique selection of cigars, single-malt scotch, cognacs, port, smoking accessories and wine gifts. 13135 State Line Road, Kansas City, MO, 64145 (816) 941-VINO (8466).

4. Lukas Liquor / The Wine Bar. If size matters to you, Lukas Liquor bills itself as the midwest's largest merchant of fine wines, spirits, and malt beverages. It has recently expanded by adding the Wine Bar, which offers cooking classes, event space for corporate teambuilding or meetings, and regular wine and liquor tastings. 13657 Washington Street, Kansas City, MO 64145, (816) 942-8707.

5. Rimann Liquors. No matter where you are in Kansas City, there is likely a Rimann Liquor nearby. Stores are located in Lenexa, Prairie Village, and most recently, in Briarcliff. For three years in a row, Food & Wine Magazine named Rimann in its list of “Top Wine Shops in America” based on selection, service and advice. Briarcliff: 4155 North Mulberry, Kansas City, MO 64116, (816) 587-3399; Prairie Village: 3917 Prairie Lane, Prairie Village, KS 66208 (913) 236-5311; Lenexa: 15117 W. 87th St. Parkway Lenexa, KS 66219 (913) 492-1604.

6. Ensimnger Liquors. Ensimnger offers a variety of wine personally selected by its proprietress, Judy Ensminger. It's Judy's belief that "there are no bad wines, just different wines for different events." 11052 Quivira Road, Overland Park, KS 66210 (913) 469-9006.

By Alexandra Smith

Check Out the Related Article : Italian Wine - The Long History of Italian Wine

Monday, November 24, 2008

Bordeaux is a region in France that produces some of the world's finest and most famous red, white and dessert wines. The greatest red wines of Bordeaux come from the Medoc, Graves, Saint-Emilion and Pomerol; dry white wines mostly from Graves; and dessert wines from Sauternes, Barsac and Sainte-Croix-du- Mont.

The red Bordeaux wines are almost always blends which include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc, with sometimes small amounts of Malbec and Petit Verdot. The white and dessert Bordeaux wines consist of mostly Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. Many of the world's most spectacular and sought-after wines come from this region, including Chateaux Lafite-Rothschild, Mouton-Rothschild, Petrus, Cheval Blanc, Haut-Brion, Latour, d'Yquem, etc.

With 57 appellations, more than 9,000 wine-producing chateaux, and 13,000 wine growers in the Bordeaux region, you can find sophisticated Bordeaux wines, refreshing wines, aged wines and young wines. Though the top-quality Bordeaux merit the higher prices they command, there is virtually an endless choice of Bordeaux wines in every price category. Some of the lower prices Bordeaux wines are of an execellent quality. If you enjoy red wines, hen Bordeaux can be a great choice. The Bordeaux's produced in France are some of the best the world has to offer.

By Steve Austin

Check Out the Related Article : Italian Wine - The Long History of Italian Wine

Sunday, November 23, 2008

If you are looking for fine Italian wine and food, consider the Aosta Valley region of northern Italy. You may find a bargain, and I hope that you’ll have fun on this fact-filled wine education tour.

The Aosta Valley is a tiny corner of of northwestern Italy bordering on France and Switzerland. This valley is surrounded by high mountains, including Europe’s highest peak, Mount Blanc. This was arguably the last region of Italy to be populated, because it was covered with ice until relatively recently. Over time it was occupied by Celts, Romans, Ostrogoths, Byzantines, Lombards, and Franks. It is bilingual, Italian and French. The Aosta Valley is by far the smallest region of Italy with a population of only 120 thousand.

Agricultural is not particularly important, with the exception of cattle raising. There is substantial forestry and some industry, in particular hydroelectric power. The region is one of the wealthiest in Italy, with a highly developed tourist sector.

This region has no single capital. The largest city is Aosta, with a population of about 35 thousand. It was a Roman garrison over two thousand years ago, and is the best example of Roman city planning in Italy. Among the Aosta Valley’s tourist attractions are the remains of a Roman amphitheater said to hold 20,000 spectators. Other tourist attractions include medieval fortresses and churches, the Matterhorn, and Mount Blanc.

The Aosta Valley devotes only fifteen hundred acres to grapevines, and ranks 20th among the 20 Italian regions. Its total annual wine production is about six hundred thousand gallons, also giving it a 20th place. About 90% of the wine production is red or rosé (only a bit of rosé), leaving about 10% for white. The region produces a single DOC wine, that is divided into 23 categories. DOC stands for Denominazione di Origine Controllata, which may be translated as Denomination of Controlled Origin. Almost 23% of this region’s wine carries the DOC. The Aosta Valley is home to almost three dozen major and secondary grape varieties, with somewhat more red than white varieties.

Chardonnay is the most important international white grape variety in the Aosta Valley. Muscat and Pinot Grigio (Pinot Gris) are also grown. Local white varieties include Blanc de Morgeux and Petite Arvine, also grown in Switzerland.

International red grape varieties grown in the Aosta Valley include Gamay, Grenache, Pinot Nero (Pinot Noir), and Syrah. Local red varieties include Picotendro (called Nebbiolo in neighboring Piedmont and arguably Italy’s finest red grape), Petit Rouge, and Fumin. In the unfortunate absence of any Aosta Valley wines, I am reviewing a DOCG Nebbiolo-based wine from neighboring Piedmont. If I am ever in the Aosta Valley, I promise to drink and review a few local wines.

Before reviewing the Aosta Valley-style wine and Italian cheese that I was lucky enough to purchase at a local wine store and a local Italian food store, here are a few suggestions of what to eat with indigenous wines when touring this beautiful region.
Start with Jambon de Bosses; Uncooked Ham.
As the second course try Carré D’Agnello Gratinato Alle Erbe; Grilled Loin of Lamb in a Pastry and Herb Crust.
For dessert indulge yourself with Crema alla Panna; Pannacotta from the Aosta Valley (a sort of crème caramel without eggs.)

OUR WINE REVIEW POLICY While we have communicated with well over a thousand Italian wine producers and merchants to help prepare these articles, our policy is clear. All wines that we taste and review are purchased at the full retail price.

Wine Reviewed
Travaglina Gattinara DOCG 13.5% alcohol about $28

As stated above, little if any wine from the Aosta Valley region is available in North America. We had to settle for a Piedmont wine produced only a few miles away from the Aosta Valley. For some reason I can’t get out of my mind the 1905 George M. Cohan Broadway title tune (Only) Forty-five Minutes from Broadway, think of the changes it brings. Given that this is a DOCG wine made with Italy’s best red grape, I really don’t feel that I made a sacrifice. It is perhaps a fitting way to treat the last of Italy’s regions.

Let’s start with the marketing materials. “The winery has other jewels in its crown, as the fabulous base Gattinara 2001 so eloquently proves in the best version we can remember. A pure, austere nose expresses the Gattinara territory, with licorice and crushed roses from the Nebbiolo grape and elegant streaks of eucalyptus, menthol, and even acacia blossoms. The long lingering palate is lively and tangy, slightly held back by assertive tannins.”

Let’s talk a bit about the bottle. As a DOCG red wine, there is a lavender ribbon at the top of the bottle. The bottle itself has a unique curve that fits in the palm of the hand. It was designed by a glassmaker for the 1952 vintage, and proved so popular that the producer has been using it ever since. The grapes are grown on steep slopes at 900-1300 feet in iron-rich soil with traces of Calcium and Magnesium Carbonate. The wine is aged a year in French oak barriques, 18 months in Slovenian oak casks, and then for six months in the bottle. It has been called an affordable Barolo, (one of Italy’s finest red wines that starts at about twice its price). Wine Spectator Magazine has listed a previous vintage as one of the year’s 100 best wines.

My first pairing was with a cheeseless meat lasagna. Frankly the wine was wasted on this meal. It was mouth-filling, long, and powerful, but yet delicate. I felt that the wine was great on its own. A few ounces kept my mouth satisfied for a very long time.

The next pairing was more suitable, grilled rib steak in my spicy, homemade barbeque sauce that included ketchup, sweet and sour mustard, fresh garlic, and black pepper. The meal also included potato patties, and caponata, an Italian-style eggplant and tomato salad. This marriage was made in heaven. The wine was mouthfilling and powerful. A little bit went a very long way.

The final meal was with slow-cooked, boneless beef ribs and potatoes. Once again, the wine was very powerful, tasting of leather and dark fruit. It is easily the most powerful wine of the series, and probably one of the most powerful wines that I have ever tasted. However, I did not find the tannins assertive; they blended perfectly with the fruit and other flavors.

It might have been best to try this wine with a Piedmont cheese such as Gran Padano or Gorgonzola, or with an Aosta Valley cheese such as Fontina. I had none of the above, so I settled for the ends of my Italian cheeses, coincidentally at more or less the end of this series. The Gattinara took on a pleasant acidic character to deal with a Montasio cheese from the Veneto area that was past its prime. It also went well with a Sicilian Isola. I liked it the best with an Asiago, also from the Veneto region. But once again the wine was somewhat wasted on these cheeses.

Final verdict. I don’t think that this wine should be cellared wine for a dozen years, but I would love to find out. If I had the money, I’d buy a case, drink a bottle a year, and then decide what to do. Not going to happen. This wonderful wine will have to go into my once a year category. I’m already looking forward to savoring and comparing the 2002 vintage with this wonderful 2001.

By Levi Reiss

Check Out the Related Article : Red Wine and White Wine

Friday, November 21, 2008

Merlot Wine

Merlot wine is a rich, soft wine with the flavor of blackberries, beloved because it is seldom harsh and not as acidic as a Cabernet Sauvignon with which it is often blended. Merlot wine has the added advantage of being rich and supple but only moderately tannic and, therefore, wonderfully drinkable from early on.

The Merlot grape is larger and thinner skinned than the Cabernet grape. It has an opulent texture that goes admirably with h'ordeuves or as a dinner drink. Similar to the soft Algerian wines of the Pied Noirs, Merlot wine is used to round out and add complexity to Cabernets.

in today's world, Merlot wine is a premium varietal in its own right. Merlot wine is a round sensual wine that does not need the same care in aging. So Merlot wine can be a splendidly pragmatic and commendable choice for many occasions.

Merlot wine is so popular due to the fact that it is softer, fruitier, and earlier-maturing than cabernet sauvignon, yet displays many of the same aromas and flavors – black cherry, currant, cedar, and green olive – along with mint, tobacco and tea-leaf tones.

The most critically acclaimed Merlot wines are dark, rich and strong. Aromas include scents of plums, black cherry, toffee, chocolate, violets, orange and tea.

Merlot Wine Tip:

Merlot wine is a good accompaniment to simply prepared beef and lamb dishes.

By Steve Austin

Check Out the Related Article : Red Wine and White Wine

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

We'll start this article by asking these two questions: "Why is wine so confusing?" and "Does selecting a wine intimidate you?" If your answer to the second question is yes, then you are not alone!

Most people have been to a liquor store or a restaurant and been absolutely overwhelmed and intimidated by the sheer variety and number of selections offered. The variety of choices among wine varieties, brands, labels, and prices seem almost infinite.

Herein lies the problem: There are just too many choices.

So what is the solution to too many choices?

Well, the answer in a few words is: Discover your own preference for wine taste.

Many people know when they like a wine. But the difficult part is understanding why. What do you like about it, and how do you describe what it is that you like about that wine? Is it light or full bodied? Is it tannic or not? What are tannins anyway? Is it fruity or sweet? Do fruity and sweet mean the same thing? And, if you try and like a Shiraz, does that mean you will like all Shiraz?

All these questions can be answered by tasting wines, and then tasting more wine! Yet tasting is not enough as you must pay attention to what you are tasting. In my opinion, it is a good idea to learn with comparative tastings. Take for example the Chardonnay grape. It is grown in Mornington Peninsula, Victoria and also in Margaret River, Western Australia. Tasted side-by-side, you may first think that both Chardonnay's have little in common, yet they are both made from Chardonnay grapes.

When you taste a wine of the same variety side-by-side, you can easily begin to learn the differences between a full bodied and a light bodied wine; and a low tannin wine and a high tannin wine, etc.

Tips on how to choose a wine that is right for you

Step 1: Decide if you want a white wine or red wine
Decide whether you want a white wine, red wine, sparkling wine, dessert wine or fortified wine. This will narrow down your choices and give you some direction.

Step 2: Decide on your preferences for wine taste
Have a think about your own preferences for the taste of a wine. (Tip: Use your knowledge from your comparative wine tastings to help you.)

As a minimum, decide whether you prefer a dry or sweet wine. (Dry is the term used to describe the absence of sweetness in a wine.)

If you know your preferences for other wine characteristics, then it will also be a good idea to decide on these. If you don't know your preferences then I have included a short description here to help you in your comparative wine tastings.

1. Low Tannins vs High Tannins: Tannins are a vital ingredient in wines, especially red wines. It comes from the stalks, skins and pips of grapes. Tannins in a young wine produce a bitter, puckering taste on the palate.

2. Short Palate vs Long Palate: The "length" of a wine is the amount of time the sensations of taste and aroma persist after swallowing. Usually, the longer the better.

3. Low Acid vs High Acid: Acids of various types are present in wine, and are essential to the wine's longevity and also to your enjoyment. Too little can affect the wine's quality and too much can spoil the wine. A higher acidity makes the wine more tart and sour tasting; whereas a low acidity results in flat tasting wine that is more susceptible to spoilage.

Acidity is that quality that makes your mouth water and your lips pucker, and without it, wines (and anything for that matter!) taste pretty flat and one dimensional. However, when acidity is present in the right quantities, it is the element that makes all of the other flavours in the wine stand out, including the undertones of fruit, spice and herbs. The flavour in wine that you would describe as tangy, sharp, refreshing, bracing, bright, crisp or zingy is the acidity.

4. Light Bodied vs Full Bodied: To get a picture of the differences between a light-bodied wine and a full-bodied wine think about milk as an analogy. Light-bodied is analogous to skim milk and full-bodied wine analogous to full-cream milk, and the variations in the "body" of wne are like varying levels of fat-content in milk.

What makes it even easier, is that a wine’s body is directly proportional to its alcohol content. On every wine label you’ll notice a percentage of alcohol by volume. Note how it applies to body:

* 7.5% - 10.5% indicates light body

* 10.5% - 12.5% indicates medium body

* 12.5% and over indicates full body

5. No Oak vs Heavy Oak: Wines might be stored in oak barrels, usually to impart extra and more complex flavours. French, American and German oak barrels are widely used in Australia. Oaky describes the aroma or taste quality imparted to a wine by the oak barrels in which it was aged. The terms toasty, vanilla, dill, cedary and smoky indicate the desirable qualities of oak; charred, burnt, green cedar, lumber and plywood describe its unpleasant side.

Step 3: Buy wine that is well looked after, like at the cellar door
It is important to purchase wine from liquor outlets that take proper care of their wine, e.g. buying direct from the winery's cellar door is a good option. Extreme heat or cold, direct sunlight, and dramatic temperature fluctuations are not good for wine. Also, before you buy, make sure the wine is filled up to the neck of the bottle, the cork is not pushing out of the bottle, and there are no signs of leakage.

Step 4: Enjoy exploring the variety and diversity of Australian wine
There are lots of good reasons to explore all of the wines that Australia has to offer in all its diversity. Don't just stick to the well-known varieties like Chardonnay or Shiraz - experiment with other whites like Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Gewurztraminer or reds like Zinfandel, and Pinot Noir. Also, try examples of a particular variety from different wine regions to understand how regional conditions affect the wine's character. Expose yourself to every type of wine. The more you taste the more you will understand and the easier wine selection will become.

Step 5: Buy by the case
When you find a wine you really like, consider buying wine by the case (12 bottles). Most wineries will offer you a 10% or 15% wine discount when you purchase a case of wine or more.

Step 6: Only rely on your own taste buds
The ultimate goal of wine buying is to buy wines that taste good to you. Just because a merchant, friend or wine writer says a wine is good doesn't mean you'll like it. Conversely, don't shy away from a wine because someone else says that it is no good. The only judge of good taste in wine is you.

By Jodie Smith

Check Out the Related Article : Red Wine and White Wine

The Carignane grape variety is one of the most widely planted grapes in the world. It's popularity stems from the high crop yeilds that it produces as well as the characteristics that it can bring to a wine. Wine made from Carignane usually has red-fruit characteristics, deep violet and purple color, strong tannin structure and high levels of alcohol content. It is sometimes peppery like Syrah. These characteristics have made it very popular as a blending agent in the vast quantities of local table wines (jug wines) that are consumed around the world. It often provides the 'backbone' of these wines and is blended with other grape varieties that bring additonal flavor characteristics.

Carignane is thought to have originated in northern Spain and grows well in a 'Mediterranean' climate. As a result, it is widely grown in many of the countries that border the Mediterranean Sea including France, Italy, Spain, and Algeria. Carignane is the most widely planted grape in France. It has also found a home in almost every other wine producing country around the world.

Carignane Wine Tip:

The Carignane wines are generally dry and range from medium to full-bodied. They have lots of "life" to them, are recommended with fuller-bodied foods and are best served at cool room or cellar temperature. Carignane grapes produce more red wine than any other grape variety.

By Steve Austin

Check Out the Related Article : A Guide to Wine

Friday, November 14, 2008

The European lifestyle has been a fascination of mine since I started studying wine a few years ago. Through my wine studies I've not only learned about vine growing and wine making, I've learned about cultures and traditions, all of which I share in my wine lectures and through teaching others about wine. One of the major things that I have learned is that the European lifestyle is easy-going and filled with only the best of things that life has to offer, which includes great wine paired with great food paired with family and friends. I don't think that life gets much better than that. This sort of European prioritizing got me thinking about how we can incorporate that lifestyle into our everyday lives. Here are a few more things I have learned:

* Wine is not just a beverage it's an experience and an expression of a place. So the next time you have a glass of wine think of it as a mini vacation to that wine region. That wine is the full expression of the region it comes from.

* Pair your favorite foods with your favorite wines. When thinking about the foods that you like, and the meals you're planning, think also about what wines you would have with them. Fortunately this requires a lot of wine tastings of wines from various regions. Wine and food go hand and hand.

* Make every meal with family and friends a celebration. There no time like meal time to experience closeness with your family.

* Eat your meals on beautiful tableware. Imagine having each glorious meal on beautiful plates. This only enhances your food and wine experience.

* Only eat and drink and buy what you absolutely love. You deserve only the best in your life, that includes only the best foods, the best wines, and surrounding yourself with things that, when you look at them, bring a smile to your face.

* Have passion in your heart for everything that you do. If you love what you do it shows and that resonates with every person you come in contant with.

* Work to live and not live to work.

These are just a few things that I have learned and have incorporated into my life and will continue to share though my company, The European Wine Table.

The European Wine Table motto is, "Food, wine, family & friends......what would be better?"


By Jacqueline Chambliss

Check Out the Related Article : A Guide to Wine

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Wine is to be savored and enjoyed, appreciated for its bouquet, for its flavor, and for the art and science that went into creating it. Oenophiles are those who treasure fine wines, and who, more often than not, delight in sharing their passion with family members, friends, and colleagues. If you have a wine lover on your gift list, he or she is sure to value unique wine gifts. Here are five suggestions to ensure that your next gift will be appreciated and enjoyed.

1. Wine Racks - Not every wine lover has his or her own wine cellar, and even those who do would appreciate a beautiful wine rack. Today's wine racks add to the decor of a home, and range from sleek minimalist styles to ornate wrought iron designs. Some racks are even modular and expandable, able to hold many bottles and assume a variety of shapes.

2. Corkscrews - Although it's likely that the oenophile on your gift list has more than one corkscrew, most wine lovers enjoy collecting corkscrews almost as much as they enjoy collecting wine. A wine opener set makes a wonderful gift, and can include a rabbit corkscrew, a foil cutter, and an extra worm. Some deluxe sets can include stainless steel bottle stoppers, a drip ring, a wine thermometer, and a stainless steel pourer.

3. Wine Decanters - For the person who enjoys red wine, decanting is a must. Pouring wine into a decanter serves to both separate wine from sediment and stimulate the wine to release its aroma. Plus, the beauty of decanters adds to the aesthetic enjoyment of the wine. Although traditional crystal decanters contain lead, today decanters can be hand-blown from mineral deposits that are free of impurities, and the resulting product can be lead-free.

4. Wine & Picnic Baskets - A picnic is the perfect setting to enjoy wine - and maybe even a little romance. From picnic coolers on wheels to wine and cheese coolers that look like soft-sided briefcases to wine backpacks, there are a wide variety of wine & picnic baskets that would please the most discriminating wine connoisseur on your gift list.

5. Wine Accessories - There are any number of wine accessories that would appeal to the wine lover on your gift list, including cork popper low-pressure propellants, wine savers that extract air from bottles and re-seal them, and decanting wine funnels. One whimsical wine accessory that makes the perfect gift is a set of wine glass charms. Available in a variety of themes, such as Hawaiian, new baby, golf, wedding, and travel, these "wine signs" are used to designate which glass belongs to which guest at a party.

Finding unique wine gifts isn't difficult; there are online sources that are family owned and operated, and that pride themselves on their selection, their customer service, and their commitment to giving back to causes in which they believe.

By Chris Robertson

Check Out the Related Article : A Guide to Wine

Friday, November 7, 2008

If you love wine but hate going to the wine store, you may want to consider joining a wine club. This is also great if you're a novice wine drinker, because along with the monthly (or weekly, depending on the club you join) shipments of wine you also get information about the bottles you're receiving.

There are different types of wine clubs to suit your preferences. For example, if you like Pinot noir more than Pinot grigio you can join a club that will only send you the former and never the latter. Moreover, if you prefer Italian wine to its Napa Valley counterpart you can join an Italian exclusive club.

Another advantage to joining a wine club is that in many cases the wine comes at a discount. You'll get the wine at a fraction of the price that you'd be able to buy it in stores. In some instances, the discount is as much as 20 percent. In almost every case, the discount more than makes up for the taxes and shipping costs incurred.

In addition to the price advantages, the selection that gets sent to you is a larger one than you would be able to find in most local stores. When you join a wine club, you leech off of the expertise of the people who run it. Instead of scouring snobby wine magazines for a good bottle or two, you can rely on the people who make their living off of finding good wine.

There is a disadvantage to becoming a member of a wine club, however. Some clubs will automatically renew your membership, charging your bank account for the wine even though you don't want any more. This is the only disadvantage to be found, and to be honest it's not something that every wine club does.

By Jennifer Waite

Check Out the Related Article : 5 Iron Wine Rack Designs That Protect Your Wine Investment

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The question of what type of glass wine should be served in has become important to certain wine drinkers. It has even become a question of which specific glass, for what particular wine, as there are several crystal glass makers to choose from and each one markets a fleet of different "stems" intended to reveal the best qualities of particular wines. On the fringes of this debate there are many who don't see the point. Isn't the green colored glass goblet they've been using for years good enough? What about a simple juice glass? That's what they use in those great little Italian trattorias, right?

It really wasn't until Claus Riedel, the Austrian crystal magnate, introduced a set of glasses in the 1960's, specifically engineered to compliment wine, that anyone imagined such an idea. Today, George, the 11th generation Riedel, has taken his dad's idea to it's logical extreme with numerous glasses, some very expensive, intended to focus the aroma and flavor of specific types of wine for maximum enjoyment. To their credit they don't claim some mystical goal for their crystal glasses. It's all about sensual enjoyment. But they market glasses for chardonnay, sangiovese, Bordeaux, Pinot Noir and even a glass for water and a cup for espresso, all made from fine crystal. And Riedel isn't the only one. Schott Zwiesel is another company and, along with them, virtually every manufacturer of glassware has come out with a line of wine glasses. So, what's up?

To keep it simple, the shape of a wine glass does make a difference. The basic tulip shape, with a fat bulb and an opening that is narrower at the top, allows the aroma of wine to rise up from the liquid but be trapped within the glass. Then, you stick your nose in and take a nice whiff and you really smell the wine's aroma. From a juice glass or a wide, open-top glass much of that aroma escapes before you can smell it. The swirling that wine drinkers do - you've seen it at restaurants, it may seem pretentious - is really intended to release the wine's aroma. 90% of what we think of as taste is actually aroma so, appreciating that element of the wine is pretty important. It doesn't have to be an expensive crystal glass but that tulip shape, or a variation on that form which holds the aromatics in so you can sniff, will help you enjoy your wine more.

Wine is also beautiful from a visual standpoint I have an arts background and I have always felt the visual appeal of wine is powerful. The golden hue of a French white Burgundy makes you expect full, oak influenced tastes and the complex aromas while the dark almost opaque reds get you ready for big flavors and aggressive textures. And a tinge of deep gold in white wines or brick orange in reds, tips you that the wine may be older and more mellow or intriguing. Where would you be on color if the wine glass you were using was blue or green? So, I think it makes sense to use a clear glass that allows you to see the color accurately.

A glass that has a stem, the narrow column that supports and connects the bowl to the foot of the glass, is an advantage from a visual perspective as well. It allows you to hold the glass without obscuring the wine in the glass. Also, if you hold the glass by the stem or the foot, the heat of your hand will not affect the temperature of the wine. White wines, sparkling and most rose wines are served chilled and a rise in temperature can affect their taste and feel of the wine in your mouth. That's getting a bit fussy but, there it is. Temperature is another factor is wine appreciation.

If you want to buy some glasses for wine drinking there are many lines to choose from. They range in price from $8 per stem (that's "wine talk", a stem is a single glass) to $30 and more. Get glasses that are clear, bowl shaped with a narrow opening and stemmed. They don't have to be crystal but some enthusiasts think that fine crystal is preferable to glass. The finer the glass, the more expensive generally, the more fragile, so beware of that.

Do the experiment at home. Pour some wine into a water glass and some into a stemmed, tulip shaped bowl. Swirl, sniff and taste. Compare. There is no difference to a wine drinker who simply gulps and swallows. Noticing the differences between wines and the characteristics of individual wines isn't for everyone. But, if you slow down and pay attention I think you will notice that an actual "wine glass" will reveal more of the wine's quality than a simple straight sided glass.

If, after you've experienced the affect of a nice stemmed glass upon your favorite wines you think different shapes have an impact on different wines, I suggest that you can confine your choices to four basic shapes and be ready for most any wine. Choose a "fluted" glass for Champagne and sparkling wine. The flute shape is better than the wide "saucer" shape. Choose a medium sized tulip-bowled, stemmed glass for white wines and another that is larger with a taller bowl for your reds. And, if you like, you can have what is called a "balloon" bowled glass, its much larger and rather pear shaped with a narrow opening. The balloon shape is best for Pinot Noir and Nebbiolo based wines, so, if you're into French red Burgundy or Italian Barolo you should try that glass. The glassware debate is not exactly new but it is another aspect of wine appreciation that can add enjoyment and understanding to your drinking experience. As with all interesting life pursuits, wine is one that you can choose how deeply you want to get involved. The experiences of sensation are always better when you slow down and really take notice. A lot of effort goes into making fine wine and there certainly are differences between different grapes and the resulting wines so, I think that if you do slow down and notice the wine you will see the value of having a glass (or glasses) that will reveal the most to you.

By Warren Gregory

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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Italian wine has a long and interesting history. In fact, Greek settlers were producing it in the region way before the Romans started planting and harvesting their own vineyards in the second century before Christ. While the Greeks may have started it, the Romans perfected it, organizing large scale productions and developing their own storing techniques.

Indeed, if it weren't for the Romans, we wouldn't have wine made in barrels or bottles of the beverage. Even though it's been more two thousand years since the Romans took over wine making, Italy remains one of the world's greatest producers of wine. In fact, Italy was responsible for around 20 percent of the world's production in 2005.

Grapes are grown in nearly every part of Italy, and there are more than 1 million vineyards being cultivated this year. While each winery produces a different wine, overall Italian wine can be characterized as acidic and dry. They have a subdued flavor and aroma, which makes them better with food than enjoyed alone.

Italian culture is centered around wine. Many Italians drink it with every meal; almost as many drink it in between meals, too. It is customary for visitors to be offered a glass of wine upon arriving to the host's house.

There are four classes of Italian wine, falling under two different categories. The first category is Table Wine, the other is Quality Wine Produced in a Specific Region (QWPSR). Under table wine, there is Vino de Tavola and Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT). The former just means that it's made in Italy, while the latter denotes wine from a specific region within the country.

In the QWPSR category, there are two subcategories. Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) and Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) refer to very specific zones in Italy. These are more specific than the aformentioned IGT wines. Who knew there was so much to Italian wine?

By Jennifer Waite

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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I have been wondering about the difference between red wines and white wines. To me, they taste quite different. Red wines are heavier and more complex than white wine, and often tend to be less sweet. Why is this? Actually red and white wines are made quite differently. The differences between red and white wines include the kinds of grapes used, the fermentation and aging process, and the character and flavor of the wine.

White wines are almost always made from white grapes, although they can be made from black grapes, since the juice in most black grapes is clear. When white wine is made, the skins of the grapes are separated from the juice when they are put into a crushing machine. Then yeast is added to the juice for fermentation, until the juice becomes white wine. After filtering etc, the wine is aged by storing it in stainless steel or occasionally oak containers and bottled after a few months. White wines, then, are made without skins or seeds and are essentially fermented grape juice. They have a light character and have crisp fruit flavors and aromas. They can be sweet or dry or somewhere in between. Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio/ Pinot Gris, Riesling, and Sauvignon Blanc are all white wines.

Red wine is usually made from red or black grapes, although all the kinds of grapes usually have a clear juice. The process of making red wine is different from the one of making white wine. After the grapes have been in the crushing machine, the red grapes with their skins and everything sit in a fermentation vat for a period of time, typically about one to two weeks. . The skins tend to rise to the surface of the mixture and form a layer on top. The winemaker frequently mixes this layer back into the fermenting juice (which is called must). After fermentation is over, the new wine is taken from the vat. A little "free run" juice is allowed to pour and the rest of the must is squeezed into "press wine". The wine is clarified and then is stored, usually in oak containers, for several months until it is ready to be bottled. The oak containers add additional wood tannins and flavors to the wine which help to intensify it and add richness to it. The result of this process is that red wines exhibit a set of rich flavors with spicy, herby, and even meaty characteristics. Beaujolais, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chianti, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Zinfandel are all red wines.

The main difference between red and white wines is the amount of tannins they have. Since tannins largely come from the grape skins, red wines have more of them than white wines. Red wine acquires it's tannins in the process of maceration (leaving juice to mix together with the skin, seeds and woody bits). It is the tannins and skins of the red grapes which are released into the wine that contribute to the deep color and flavor of red wine. Tannins have a slightly bitter taste and create a dry puckery sensation in the mouth and in the back of the throat; and often lend a wonderful complexity to red wine. They also help preserve the wine. This is why red wines are usually aged longer than white wines.

There are as many different flavor profiles among red wines as there are among white ones. Some red wines are sweet and fruity, while some whites ( such as Chardonnay) have tannins from being stored in oak containers. Some German white wines have lasted for centuries, while some red wines are made for immeadiate consumption. For wines meant for consumption right away the winemaker takes out the bitter tannins, creating a fruity, fresh, and approachable wine. So, apart from the color, there are no hard and fast rules about the differences between red and white wine.

Is it true that red wine is better for you? The research of Dr Frankel has shown that red wine contains more antioxidants than white wine, although the total amount varies according to the variety of grape, region it was grown, the climate and soil it was grown in, and whether it was stored in oak (since wines stored in oak have more antioxidants) and the filtration techniques used. However the antioxidants in white wine are apparently more effective. The research of Dr Troup shows that the antioxidant molecules in white wine are smaller and thus more effective because they can be more easily absorbed. It seems that white wine is just as healthy as red wine.

In summary, the primary difference between red and white wine is the amount of tannins they contain, although there are no hard and fast rules about the differences between them outside of the color of the wine. Usually red wines are more complex, richer, and heavier, with spicy, herby, and even meaty characteristics. White wines are usually sweeter, and lighter, and have crisp fruit flavors and aromas. Neither is significantly better for you. Which wine is best for you to drink is simply a matter of taste.

By Tracy Crowe

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