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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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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