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Archive for the ‘Learn about Wine’ Category

I’m so tried of hearing “What wine should I drink with (insert food name here)?” Do you ask the guy behind the counter at McDonald’s what soda goes best with your Big Mac and fries? No you don’t, you pick what soda taste best to YOU.
The same thing goes for wine. First and foremost, no two people are going to have the same exact taste so its important to figure out what style of wine YOU like. This is fun and easy, all you have to do is try as much wine with as many different varietals and regions as possible. Then once you have a good idea of what varietal,region, and winemaking style you prefer. The question you should be asking is “What wine will have the right flavors to compliment the flavors of (insert food name) ?”.

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As disgusted in How to Pick French Wine Part 1 French wines are heavily regulated and have their own way of classifying each vineyard and wine. There classifications would not be so hard to understand if France used one classification standard , but they don’t.  The good news is that there is an endless amount of books and websites about French wines. The bad thing is that most of the books and websites have so much unimportant information for an everyday wine drinker that we close the book before getting the answers. So what I have done is removed all the unimportant  information and just broke down the sub-regions classification.

The first Sub-Region we will go over is Alsace. Alsace is somewhat an uncommon region to see on a wine list, I say that because Alsace is predominantly a white grape region.  Grapes that are known to grow in Alsace are Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Blac, Pinot Gris, and Muscat, and a little Chardonnay. The only red grape that is planted is Pinot Noir.

5 Different classifications you may see on Alsace wine label

  • Vins de Table
  • Vin de Pays
  • Reserve
  • Grand Cru
  • Late Harvest

You will rarely see  Vins de Table & Vin de Pays since they are considered lesser quality wines and generally not sold in the US.

Reserve- can be labeled with just the vineyard name or have the vineyard name plus Grand Cru (we will go over what Grand Cru means i just a second). Also you may see labels with recerve personelle or reserve excetionnelle, but neither of these have legal definitions and should not be considered when picking a wine.

Grand Cru- is the highest level of classification of AOC wines from Alsace.   A wine bottle that is labeled with Grand Cru is supposed to be the best from the best vineyards and wine makers. … a side note – there are a few vineyards that refuse to take the Grand Cru classification even though the have been awarded the classification because they are not happy with how judging is process so it is important to try all classifications.

Late Harvest – is usually the most expensive of the 5 classifications. Producers may label with Vendange Tardive or Selection de Grains Nobles.  Late harvest is usually an indication of a sweet dessert wine.

 

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Textured Wine (determining wine body)

The wines body is very important and will always be part of a wine review.  The body of  a wine refers to the fullness, weight and concentration and total mouth feel of a wine.  Wine’s body is mostly due to the alcohol percentage of  the wine.  A lower percentage wine (9% or lower) will generally be considered Light and a high percentage wine (13% or higher) would generally be considered Full.  The last wine body characteristic Medium, this can be a little different from just tasting a big full-bodied red wine or a light citrus white wine. You will often feel like saying Light to Medium or  Medium to Full.  Both of these are perfectly fine reviews of a wine and are often used. 

Here is a quick test that will help you with determining the body of a wine.

  • Step 1 – You will need 3 different wines. Each will need to be of a different body (full,medium, and light). You can use the above information to pick 3 wines or  ask for help at you favorite wine shop.
  • Step 2 – You will need water, skim milk, whole milk, and heavy cream
  • Step 3 – Place 7 empty glasses on a tabel
  • Step 4 – Pour water in glass #1, Skim milk in glass #2, Whole milk in glass #3, and Heavy cream in glass #4, “Light” wine glass #5, “Medium” wine glass #6, and “Full” wine glass #7.
  •  Step 5 – Taste glass #5, move the wine around your mouth. Try to feel the weight of the wine on your tongue. Now taste glass #2,#3,#4. After tasting each glass try to pick which milk or cream body reminds you of the wine (remember to cleanse your palate by drinking water after each glass tasted). 
  • Step 6 – Repeat step 5 with glass #6 and then 7#

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     I want to start off by saying I LOVE WINE and the “art” of wine making.  But with that said, I would like to talk about my frustration with the wine industry in whole.  I took my first sip of wine a little over 2 years ago and immediately wanted to know more about wine and how to pick the best wine for my taste.   So I began to research wine and tasting as much wine as possible .  In the past 2 years I have ran across so many different books, websites, and ” Sommelier ” that did not give me the info that I really wanted and needed. I have spent hundreds of dollars on useless books.  I even spent $300 on a wine tasting kit, you know the one with the little scent tester that supposed to help you with determining the nose on a glass a wine. That was a joke, it would have been better to just flush $300 down the toilet. So after all the classes and research I have done i still don’t have the answer to my one and only question How Do I Pick a Good Bottle of Wine?.

Have you found the answer to this question?

 

 

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wine 5

A wine glass is more than a holder that prevents your favorite beverage from running through your fingers. The right glass can make all the difference when enjoying the color, aroma, and taste of your wine. So next time your pouring a glass make sure it’s the right glass.

There is a fun little test I like to do every once in a while when drinking with friends and they state they do not believe glass or cup makes any difference. So here is the test:  Grab a normal plastic cup, a coffee mug, and the proper wine glass. With all 3 in a line pour wine into each, then go through the tasting steps (Sight, Nose, Taste) starting with the plastic cup, then the coffee mug, and last the wine glass.  Now was there a difference?

 (Helpful note: When holding your glass, remember to hold either the stem or the base of the glass. This is very important because if a glass is held at the “bowl of the glass” your hand will transfer heat to the wine which can change the taste and aroma of your wine.)

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France is believed to produces some the finest wines to be tasted. Why? Although France is a not a very big country (the whole country of France can fit inside Texas state lines), it is home to some of the biggest names/regions in the wine industry. The French climate and soil seem to be perfect for growing wine. Also Frence soil varies greatly with each region/sub-region so the wine produce will have different wine characteristics depending on what area the grapes were grown in. But the biggest reason why French wines are believed to be among one of the greatest regions to produce wine is the Appellation d’Origine Controllee (AOC ) which translates into “controlled term of origin”. The AOC regulates and classifies the vineyard and the wine the vineyard produces.

French Regions: Champagne, Alsace, Loire Valley, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Cote du Rhone, Languedoc -Roussillon, and Provence

AOC Regulation for Wine: Area of Production, Variety of Grape, Yield per Hectare, Vineyard Practices, Degree of Alcohol, Winemaking Practices, Tasting and Analysis, and Varietal Labeling

There is a lot more info that we could get into on the laws and regulations for French wines but for a normal everyday wine drinker it’s really not that  important and really boring. But what you do need to know is the Basic Quality Designation. There are three major classifications Vins de Table, Vins de Pays, and AOC regulated wine.

Vins de Table– Is table wine, some would say the lowest form of wine made in France. Usually very cheaply priced

Vins de Pays- Means “country wine” and is a step above Vins de Table but not of the quality of a AOC regulated wine. Vins de Pays is generally reasonably price.

Appellation d’Origine Controllee (AOC )- AOC regulated wine are the most important to learn. Since each sub-region has its on way of classifying the wines. I will have to list by sub-regions to make it as simple as possible. This will be done on How to Pick a French Wine (Part 2)

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Wine Basics

Wine Basics- When researching wine you will often be overwhelmed with information that is not really relevant to a casual wine drinker or to someone who just wants to be able to pick a good wine when your out to dinner. So below is a list of important facts that will get you by when out for a casual glass of wine.

1. Red or White- When choosing a glass of wine you should take a moment and considered what wine would best suit your needs (Are you pairing with food or just having a glass while watching Tv)

2. Varietal (Type of wine)- Now that you know the why its time to figure out what your drinking (This is all subjective to who you are and what you would like to drink. No one can tell you what you like.) But just so we can move on lets just pick  a Tempranillo since it is generally known for its ruby-red in colour, with aromas and flavors of berries, plum, tobacco, vanilla, leather,  herb, ect…

3. Buying a bottle- Ok so we know the Why and the What all that is left is to grab and bottle and go home, but what bottle?….. This is often the time when people just walk away and decide to drink water, but picking a bottle is actually easier than it looks you just have to take a couple of steps.

  • First look for the region that you prefer (Ca, Wa, Or, Ny, Spain, South Africa, France, Italy, Ect…). This is important because each region will have different characteristics (aromas and flavors). Once you have tasted enough wine from many different regions you will figure out what you prefer the best.
  • Second you want to look for a producer that you like (this will be a little difficult at first but the more you try the easier it gets).
  • Last step would be to read the back label. Reading the back label can give you an idea of the wine characteristics. Its is imported to remember that every person is going to taste different flavors wine tasting a wine so don’t count on tasting exactly what on the bottle.   

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