Questions about wine?

Please feel welcome to ask questions or make inquiries on wines

Published on February 13, 2008 at 4:27 am  Comments (14)  

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  1. I am frequently asked, what is a good red wine to have with fish??

  2. American Pinot Noirs with little or no oak, southern Italian red wines, or any clean, low tannin, slightly acidic red, like gamay often pair well. Sometimes it is just hard to predict what flavors will go well, so experiment. Have a group over and try several different wines side by side to see which goes best!

  3. This is a fun blog! Thanks!

  4. What does it mean when someone says that wine is “corked”?

  5. A wine is technically corked when it has been contaminated by a chemical called TCA (2,4,6 – Trichloroanisole). The ritual we all go through at a restaurant is to determine if the wine is “corked” or significantly flawed in some way. The failure in a cork’s seal can result in the wine developing hints of vinegar, or temperature changes can also cause a wine to be in poor enough condition to warrent returning in a restaurant. “Corky-ness” (a scientific term) gives wine a musty, wet-dog, stale cardboard kind of aroma. The fruit is generally diminshed on the palette, and the tannins and other acids can be more pronounced. It will not dissipate on decanting. In ancient, pre-stainless steel days, entire wood fermenters would become infected and many of us have likely consumed a cheap, rustic Italian wine that was earthy and exotic simply because it was mildly corked. Composite corks can also result in tiny, nearly imperceptable aromas of TCA. It takes time to recognize a corked wine, and confidence to return it to a waiter whom it is likely wouldn’t know a corked wine if it fell out of a tree. Even a cork tree.

  6. That’s an interesting (not to mention funny) story. Thanks!

  7. If you were stranded on a desert island, and you could find a case of any wine in the history of the world washed up on shore (all in good condition, of course) what wine would you want to find?

    This is a trick question, of course. One would expect the queried to reply with some monumental red. A ’61 Chateau Lafite, for example. Or maybe the unobtainable Chateau Petrus. The key is the clue, “desert island”, which means hot, which means fresh shellfish, which means crisp dry white. You’re on a dessert island. What possible hope do have of getting off? Gather some oysters, drink the crisp, refreshing wine before the dry ice melts, and go through some memories.

  8. Are there any good books out there about wine that you would recommend? Mostly, I’m interested in learning some history.

    There is a century of history in every bottle of wine. There are plenty of good books out there, but I would start with a Brit. Hugh Johnson’s world atlas of wine would be a good place to start.

  9. This is a bit of a tangent, but I thought I’d ask anyway. I live in Portland, Oregon and would like to try growing grapes in my backyard. Is that possible, in this climate? If so, where would you recommend that I go to buy some? Any tips?

  10. Grapes grow in many back yards in Portland, but they prefer the front. If one took a giant pencil and held it down on Portland, Oregon, and while the planet turned in orbit, one would find a line scrawled across the globe tearing up many of the great vineyards of the world. This is why I support the ban on giant, celestial orbiting pencils. Portland, Oregon is the closest major American city to a world class vineyard. In regard to buying grapevines, I recommend the way my friend John Paul obtained his vines. Go to Europe, take some cuttings from the most prominant, historical vineyards of Europe, and use them as packing materials for some cheap majolica. Ship to the U.S.A. Make great wine

  11. Thanks for the tips! Guess I’d better get to work planning my next European adventure.

  12. Let’s say I have a bottle of white wine dating back to 1976. Is it safe to say that it’s too old to be any good, and I should just pour it out?

  13. Is it possible to purchase a good cheap wine (dry red), or is that very phrase oxymoronic? We have a limited budget but enjoy drinking a glass of vino with some regularity.

    • We currently live in a wine drinkers paradise. It is harder now to find bad bottles of wine, than good. One of the best ways to find good wines is to develop a relationship with a local wine steward; this could be the owner of a local wine shop, or the “wine guy” or gal at your local grocer. Once you try something you like, they will often be able to steer you towards similar values. Many good values can be had for under $10, often imports from Spain or Italy. Look for good ratings from well known wine reviewers, like the Wine Spectator or the Wine Advocate.

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