Anne-Marie, Lindsay and I had fun chatting about their most pressing wine questions last week on CTV’s Your Morning, the network’s national breakfast show.
Have you ever wondered what to look for on a wine label or if you can cook with a wine? Here to answer your most pressing wine questions is Natalie MacLean, editor of Canada’s largest wine review site at nataliemaclean.com.
Q1. Wine Faults
- Sometimes I taste a wine and I think, ugh, that’s awful. How do I know if the wine is bad or I just don’t like it?
- What do I do if the wine is bad in a restaurant?
Note: Faulted Wine Poured in 1 glass (this is not the Henry of Pelham wine)
Henry of Pelhman Old Vines Baco – not faulted, open and poured into 2 glasses (this is the wine the women taste to heal their palates ;)
Q2. Wine Labels
- Are there certain things I should look for on a wine label to know if the wine is any good?
- Is there anything that will tell me how the wine will taste?
Chapoutier Belleruche Blanc Grenache Blanc 2013
Cotes-Du-Rhone A.O.C., France
Big Bill Sauvignon Blanc 2017
Western Cape, South Africa
Taittinger Nocturne Champagne
Champagne A.C., France
Taittinger Brut Reserve Champagne
Champagne A.O.C., France
Q3. Storing and Aging Wine
- Do I need a wine cellar or fridge to age wine?
- How do I know how long to age wine?
Ruffino Ducale Oro Gran Selezione Riserva Chianti Classico 2012
Tuscany D.O.C.G., Italy
Beringer Luminus Chardonnay 2014
Oak Knoll District, Napa Valley, California, United States
Reif Estate Winery Riesling Icewine 2009
V.Q.A., Niagara River, Ontario, Canada
Q4. Cooking with Wine
- Can I use that bad wine back there for cooking?
- Can I use any wine for cooking as long as it’s not bad?
Woodbridge Winery Sauvignon Blanc 2013
California, United States
Lindemans Bin 50 Shiraz 2015
South East Australia, Australia
Anne Marie: Alright, have you ever wondered what to look for on a wine bottle label? What about which wine to choose? What do you use when you’re cooking?
Lindsey: So many questions, Anne Marie.
Anne Marie: Yes.
Lindsey: It can be pretty intimidating, but to break it down for us and answer our most pressing wine questions, Natalie Mac Lane The editor of Canada’s largest wine review site is here to simply share her knowledge about everything. We’ve got so many questions.
Natalie: Oh good.
Anne Marie: And I use your site…
Natalie: Oh excellent.
Anne Marie: So great to meet you here in person.
Anne Marie: My first questions is, how do I know if my wine has gone bad, or if it’s just me?
Natalie: Right, well more often than you think, it’s the wine it’s not you, and I call it, “When bad wine happens to good people”. So I’ve got a stinky, little, nasty wine here. I just want you to smell it, don’t taste it. Let’s just give that a little swirl, both of you.
Lindsey: Can you tell right away?
Anne Marie: No.
Natalie: Okay, try swirling it.
Anne Marie: The color looks off to me.
Natalie: It does. It’s brickish, so it is off.
Lindsey: Oh yeah.
Natalie: And what happens is the two largest wine faults with wine, you can try healing your palette now with these good wines.
Anne Marie: Alright there we go.
Natalie: What happens with a wine faults is that they can become corked. Corked, they start smelling like an old attic and wet cardboard. So you get that smell, and you wonder, “Is it me?”. No, it’s the wine. And the other most common wine fault is oxidized, so when the wine is left open too long, it eventually evolves to vinegar, so it’ll taste tired and oxidized, but you can get both of those situations in a restaurant.
Lindsey: And that’s my question, because I don’t know about you at home, but I have been in this situation where I’ve been at a table and we’ve had the wine
Lindsey: And I think there’s something off about it, but I’m way too stressed out
Lindsey: To send it back, what’s protocol?
Natalie: Well protocol, first of all let me reassure you, they say about 510% of wines are faulted in some way. There’s 12 different faults. These are the two biggies, but less than 1% of bottles are sent back in restaurants. So we’re drinking a lot of bad wine.
Anne Marie: And we’re paying a lot of money for it.
Natalie: And we are. We’re just swallowing it, literally. So what I do in a restaurant, because I even get a little hung up about this, is I’ll smell it and then I’ll think, “Hmm”, and then with my server or sommelier, regardless, I’ll just say “This seems a little off to me. Could you try it?”
Anne Marie: Oh.
Natalie: So I kind of deflect a little bit.
Anne Marie: Good tip.
Natalie: And if the server or sommelier is worth their salt, even if they don’t think it’s off, they should take it back and offer you something else. If they don’t I’ll be a little more insistent. I’ll say, “You know what I think this is a little off, “could we try something else?”
Lindsey: You’re like, “Do you know what I do?”
Anne Marie: Do you know who I am?
Natalie: Take it back, and take the next one back too, just for spite.
Anne Marie: I’m going to hang on to this because you’ve approved it.
Lindsey: I’ve got to do some tasting here.
Anne Marie: When it comes to selecting a wine, I mean I’m guilty of this, sometimes I just go by the label by how it looks, not even reading it. Just how it appeals to me visually.
Lindsey: Can I ask you, can I ask everybody something?
Lindsey: So when you look at these labels, these two, which one would you pick of these two?
Anne Marie: Honestly, this one looks the most elegant so I would probably pick that.
Natalie: You’re right.
Anne Marie: And I was saying I pick them almost like a book cover. If it’s to loud or cartoony I don’t think the content is going to be good.
Anne Marie: But if it looks a bit elegant, or even a bit old maybe, then I think there might be something I’d like.
Lindsey: Is there truth in that?
Natalie: There is a lot of truth. In fact the majority of us pick by label. Because wine is one of those product categories where we can’t open it, at least legally, in the store to try it. You can flip through a book, and look at the first chapter. You can try on a dress, but these are kind of, all you have to go on is the white label, or the plain label. A fluffy squirrel or a castle, a mill in the distance, you know, we often go for that.
Lindsey: I definitely fall for the castle, I do.
Natalie: Yes. More white space, it’s been shown, we perceive as more expensive. No wonder you’re going for that label with the white space, the elegance to it. But there’s a lot more that a label can tell us. If you look for little tips like, the more specific the region often, the better the wine. If you consider a wine that just says, “California”, it could be a good wine, but if you get one that says, “Martha’s Vineyard, Sonoma County, California”, it’s very specific to the subregion and the vineyards, often you’re going to get a better wine.
Lindsey: That’s a good tip.
Anne Marie: Yeah.
Lindsey: What else does it tell us in terms of content and taste?
Natalie: You can look for a couple things. The alcohol level is often on the back label. If you’ve got a wine that’s clocking in at about 1415% alcohol, you know that’s a heavy hitter, a full body wine. Versus your Champagnes often are light, they’re 12% alcohol very refreshing. And then, if you turn the label around to the back and you see words like, lemon, and grapefruit, and zesty, you know there’s going to be lots of racy acidity. If you like that, or not, it’s a good thing in wine.
Lindsey: I find that this bottle has just so much information, I don’t have time.
Natalie: It does. You’re not the target market.
Lindsey: No, probably not.
Lindsey: There you go.
Natalie: There you go.
Let’s move on to these three, what can you tell us about this?
Natalie: Sure. Here we’re looking at which types of wines age well and do we have to a gargantuan cellar to age wines?
Natalie: No you don’t. Most of us don’t.
Lindsey: And you can’t age all wine, right?
Natalie: No you can’t. In fact they say that the average time for consumption, for most wines that are purchased, are 17 minutes after purchase or the average drive time to get them home. Just Kidding.
I’ve been doing it very wrong.
Lindsey: 17 minutes. That’s kind of what I do. Get home and let’s go.
Natalie: Let’s have it. But actually more than 95% of wines are made to be consumed when they’re bought. They really, people know, or the makers, the wineries know that we’re drinking these.
Lindsey: Like table wines.
Natalie: Exactly. Very few wines are meant for aging, but you can age them. And you don’t have to have an 18th century cellar. You can age them in a closet in an apartment, as long as it’s dark…
Natalie: And the temperature doesn’t go up and down to dramatically. It can go up and down but just gently.
Lindsey: Do you have to store them on an angle, or something?
Natalie: If they have corks it’s good to keep the cork wet. But for any of the screw caps, it doesn’t matter.
Lindsey: I want to ask you really quickly. Can I use any wine for cooking, or is there?
Natalie: Yeah, not that one over there, that bad one. That nasty little thing.
Lindsey: Don’t do that one, OK.
Natalie: You cannot burry it in your chicken dish.
And this one’s too good to cook with.
Natalie: Yes, that’s right. But the myth is, you don’t have to an expensive wine, of course, but you can have an affordable one. I always say, “Flavour in, flavour out”. Don’t have a nasty wine that you wouldn’t drink. Don’t have a faulted wine, but you can have a, these are very affordable wines here, the two we have here are each about 1314$. They make for wonderful wines. Don’t put a red wine in a fish dish or a chicken dish or you’re going to get a purple/blue chicken.
Lindsey: So true.
Natalie: Just keep that in mind.
Lindsey: Keep that in mind for tonight everybody. Cheers, Thanks so much for being here.
Cheers, Let’s all get in.
Lindsey: Alright, happy Friday.
Natalie: Happy Friday.
Lindsey: We’ll be right back.