The Grapes of Laugh: How to Host a Wine Tasting or Start a Wine Club

There are many excellent reasons to host a wine tasting party—or even to form a wine club. For one thing, wine is a social beverage—one that’s meant to be shared with friends. And it’s more fun to drink than to buy Tupperware—unless, of course, you’re drinking from the Tupperware. The only goal is to enjoy yourself and perhaps find a new favorite bottle. Although wine does lend itself to serious technical analysis, that’s not really necessary. You don’t need a PhD to talk about it: anyone can share opinions about the wine. Most people just want to socialize over a […]

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Wine Tasting Club Checklist

Continued from How to Host a Wine Tasting Here’s a checklist for how to host a wine tasting or start a regular wine tasting club. 1. One Month Before the Tasting Decide who you want to invite Your tasting club could be for your existing friends, or a means to get to know new friends via work or other venues, or a mix. Invite six to twelve guests. These days, trying to find an unscheduled evening with six to twelve busy people is a challenge so you may need to give your group even more lead time than a month. […]

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What are Your Earliest Memories of Drinking Wine?

Continued from Part 1 of The Making of a Wine Lover When we finally got up to leave, we realized that the restaurant was empty. We said good night to the owner and he slapped Andrew on the back as if he were choking on a bread stick. That was the first of many happy evenings there and we drank that Brunello for a year. A pilot light had been ignited inside me; over time it would grow into the flames of full-blown passion. Today, I joke that I started drinking seriously when I met Andrew. However, my earliest experiences […]

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Label Gazing: How to Read a Wine Label

Admit it. You’ve probably bought a wine based on nothing more than a beautiful label. Most of us have been lured at least once by a wind-swept name like Jagged Peak scripted across a postage-size painting of a rustic hillside. Drink the wine, live the life. Not quite. After several disappointments, I started looking for austere labels as a sign of purity: since the winemakers had obviously spent no money on marketing, I reasoned, they must have invested in the fruit. But that didn’t work either: I ended up drinking bad wine in ugly bottles with unpronounceable names. Eventually, I […]

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Can You Judge a Wine by its Label?

Continued from Part 1 of Reading Wine Labels It’s 5 p.m. on Friday—the dinner party is in two hours and you’re standing in the middle of the liquor store. In front of you are thousands of bottles of wine. Should you consider only wines over $15 so your host won’t think you’re cheap? Do you grab the bottle with the small furry animals on the label or will the guests think you live inside a Disney movie? Should you go for the wine with the cheeky name for a laugh or might someone be offended? If you’re not a wine […]

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Reserve Wine Labels and Other Extra Special Meaningless Terms

Continued from Part 2 of Reading Wine Labels There’s nothing like having to buy wine at the last minute to take to a friend’s house to cause a panic attack. No other consumable is put on the table in its original package. At social gatherings, the wine label is like a blinking billboard telling your guests exactly what you think of them and of yourself. So that piece of paper affixed to the front of the bottle is all you have to go on. In the quaint old days, merchants simply wrote on the label what was in the bottle. […]

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Does Wine Make You Fat? Looking Through a Glass Thinly

My dieting heroine is Bridget Jones from the movie of the same name—not because she was that successful in losing weight, but because she never abandoned her glass of chardonnay (and still managed to snag Colin Firth). For me, dieting is unbearable if I have to give up all the sweets and my wine. (And if I stopped drinking, I’d be out of a job.) The good news is that you can drink wine without getting fat. When it comes to both calories and carbohydrates, moderate wine drinking won’t ruin your diet. Wine has no cholesterol, sodium or fat, and […]

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Can You Drink Wine on a Diet? Are Dry Wines Better Than Sweet?

Continued from Part 1 Wine Calories Alcohol contributes more calories than sugar. For example, a six ounce glass of slightly sweet German riesling, with just 7% alcohol, will still have fewer calories (about 110) than a dry, robust Australian shiraz with 15% at about 175 calories. Over the past five years, the level of alcohol in many wines has been increasing steadily. This is particularly true for wines from warm climates such as Australia, Chile and California. Grapes are being picked later in the season when they’re riper and laden with sugar, and consequently get fermented into higher-alcohol wines. The […]

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Bridget Jones Chardonnay Diet: Pairs Well With Neuroses

Continued from Part 2 Wine Diet Within two weeks of announcing their new low-carb wines, Brown-Forman received orders for more than 200,000 cases. The beer market has had similar success: since Michelob Ultra low-carb beer was launched in 2002, it has become Anheuser-Busch’s fastest-growing brand ever. Low calorie light beers comprise about 40% of the U.S. beer market. Is it even worth trying to save a couple of carbohydrates by drinking these wines? While every carb may count for some dieters, carbs from wine represent a small fraction of the total 50 to 60 carbs recommended in the Atkins Diet. […]

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Some Like It Hot: Do You Like High Alcohol in Wine?

My head pounds. My lips burn. My teeth sting. How could I have been so naïve? When the invitation arrived for “a tasting of one hundred blockbuster reds from the new vintage,” I was pleased, even a bit excited. Now I feel as though I’ve spent two hours with a drill-crazed dentist who thinks anaesthetic is for wimps. At this tasting, five local importers are showcasing their wines to a handful of writers. The room is thick with the sweet smell of alcohol. On a long table in front of me are 65 bottles of powerhouse Australian shiraz. The next […]

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