The Rising Tide: Alcohol in Wine Creeps Up the Glass

Continued from Part 1 of High Alcohol Wine … Otherwise, drinkers have to wait years for all of the wine’s disjointed elements to knit together. They also claim that it’s unfair to judge New World wines by Old World standards. Wines from hot climates, they point out, are being true to their locale by being riper and more alcoholic. Grapes in these regions, such as zinfandel, shiraz and grenache, only start to express themselves at 14 or 15 percent alcohol. Similarly, chardonnay from these areas at 12 percent alcohol would taste green and stemmy, and is best at 14 and […]

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Size Does Matter > Big Bottles of Wine

These are big-game bottles. Drink one and you become a character in a Hemingway story. We hunted for the bottle under the hot sun. We brought it down. The bottle was big. Drinking it felt good. We drank until the bottle was empty, and then we fell asleep. Known in the trade as large formats, big wine bottles are larger animals than the standard 750 ml. They range in size from the magnum, which equals two standard bottles (1.5 litres), to the nebuchadnezzar (neb-kd-NE-zr), which equals 20 standard bottles and weighs in at a table-warping 15 litres. According to a […]

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How to Spit Wine Without Losing Your Dignity

Spitting out your wine—it’s an acceptable part of winery tasting room etiquette. In North America, we associate spitting with crudeness and great gobs of wet tobacco. Europeans, however, are completely uninhibited about spitting wine—as they are about nude bathing and May-December sexual liaisons. The French call it recracher, and they have no qualms about doing it in the vineyard, down drains, or even on the barrel room floor. (Here are my top reviews for wines not to spit.) But don’t think it’s a mark of European sophistication to spit on a floor that’s finished in bird’s eye maple or covered […]

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How to Get the Most from Your Winery Visit: 20 Tasting Room Tips

1. Plan your visits Visit wineries clustered together, such as the ones in Niagara-on-the-Lake area. Visit no more than three to five a day: two in the morning, one for lunch and one or two in the afternoon. That leaves you time to taste and talk. (I know, I crammed in more visits, but a drink writer in wine country is like those stunt drivers in car commercials—you’re not really supposed to do those tricks in real life.) Go to both small and large places to get a sense of the range of wines produced. 2. Designate a driver If […]

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How to Cellar Wine: Temperature, Humidity, Light Conditions

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist understand the basics of wine storage: temperature, humidity and light conditions for wine cellars. Temperature The proper storage temperature of 10 to 15oC enables wine to age slowly to its full complexity. Excess heat cooks off its finer characteristics, while too much chill retards its maturation. Humidity Humidity should also be stable, at about 70 percent, so that corks don’t dry out. When dry, corks shrink slightly, allowing air into the bottles that oxidizes the wine. This is also why bottles are stored on their sides: the wine keeps the cork wet, […]

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How to Pick a Wine Class? Learn About Wine to Satisfy Your Thirst

You’ve started to learn about wine and find yourself thirsting for more knowledge. Choosing a wine course can be challenging, especially with so many options these days. Selecting the right wine class depends on your goals: 1. Is it to become more knowledgeable as a wine drinker and to increase your personal enjoyment of wine? 2. To find a new hobby that you and a friend or partner can pursue together? 3. To learn more about various wine regions in order to plan gastro-vacations? 4. To make a career change or start one in the wine industry? I’ve always felt […]

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10 Tips to Make The Best out of any Wine Fest

By Tania Thomas Have you ever found yourself standing in the middle of the tasting floor at a wine show or festival and felt confused and overwhelmed, wanting to taste as many wines as possible but did not know where to begin? Attending a wine event of any kind can certainly be a confusing and overwhelming experience that leaves you bouncing from table to table without a direction, other than circular. On the other hand, attending a wine festival is an excellent opportunity to learn, taste new varietals and have fun with just a little bit of preparation. Apart from […]

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How to Pick a House Wine: 5 Tips + Why You Need One

You’ve just finished your yoga class with your friend and the two of you agree it would be great to have a glass of wine together. Do you invite her back to your place? If so, which wine to serve? The mother of your child’s playmate arrives to pick up her child. Do you invite her in for some vino? Which one? The holidays are right around the corner, when unexpected guests will be the norm. Are you ready with your house wine? If not, here are 5 tips on choosing a great house wine: 1. Why wine? Wine is […]

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Wine Glasses: How Many Do You Really Need? Which Shapes Work Best?

Even after I started learning about wine, I’d always secretly believed that varietal-specific stemware was an unnecessary expense, fueled by snobs and glassware companies. Then one evening, a friend poured some Bordeaux for me in a large, elegant glass at a dinner party. As soon as the gorgeous aromas wafted up from the wine, I realized what I’d been missing. Good glasses are like subtle amplifiers: their shape, volume, bowl shape and size, and rim diameter enhance a wine’s inherent qualities. The glass doesn’t change the wine itself, just the way we smell and taste it. Choose a style of […]

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Is it You or the Wine? How to Identify Wine Faults

Eyes closed, you breathe deeply, searching for the exotic aromas of pinot noir in your glass. Instead, an acrid smell jabs its way up your nose.  This is not the essence of fleshy cherries rolling across on a bed of violets you were expecting.  It’s more like burnt matches.  Is it you or the wine? It’s probably the wine, but how can you be sure, especially when you’re debating whether or not to send the bottle back in a restaurant? Just as wine can absorb and exude exotic aromas, it can also pick up and give off pungent odours. The […]

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