Thursday, November 30, 2006

What Wine Goes With Turkey?

Happened to see this article at the Batesville Herald Tribute which is written by Brenda L. Holmes. Found it very interesting, so I would like put it down here to share with my friends.

What wine goes with turkey?
By Brenda L. Holmes
Hendricks County Flyer (Avon, Ind.)

Winemaker Dr. Charles Thomas said the holidays are a perfect time to appreciate the attributes of wine with food.

“The best news of all is that almost any wine goes with turkey,” Thomas said.

Thomas is proprietor of Chateau Thomas Winery in Plainfield. The winery was founded in 1984 and moved to Plainfield in ‘97.

“When my family gets together for holiday dinner, we normally have anywhere from 20 to 25 people,” Thomas said. “With all those people we will usually have eight or nine bottles of wine open to go with all that turkey.”

Thomas said turkey comes with a multitude of flavors that can compliment several different wines.

“It doesn’t matter what kind of wine you like,” he said. “You will find one you like during a holiday meal.”

But he does have a few suggestions for varieties of wine that go especially well with holiday birds, depending on how they are prepared.

“You basically have three ways to prepare a turkey — you can roast it, smoke it, or deep fry it,” Thomas said.

He suggests white wines like Riesling, Chardonnay, or Sauvignon Blanc to go with a roasted bird.

“I would say even a nice Pinot Grigio would go nicely with a traditional style turkey,” he said.

Thomas said a smoked turkey offers herbal flavors to the pallet. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Fraunc, and Sauvignon Blanc all offer a good flavor to the dinner, he said.

“A deep fried turkey offers a lot of buttery flavors,” Thomas said. “For that reason, I suggest Chardonnay or even give into the fruity reds.”

He said Zinfandel or a nice late harvest Port goes well with the deep fried variety of turkey.

Thomas cautioned serving any sweet wine during a meal.

“Sweet wines make you not want to eat,” he said. “And with all that food during the holidays, you want to eat.”

He said the sweet wines should be reserved for after the meal or during dessert.

“I’d save the sweet wines to go with pumpkin pie,” he said. “You want to start the meal with a dry wine. I know this can frighten people who have tasted the reds and found them bitter. Drinking the wine with food makes all the difference in the world.”

Thomas said what makes the wine bitter are called tannins.

“The tannins in the dry red wines go so well with food,” he said. “I promise.”

For those new to drinking wine, he said there is a festive French alternative called Beaujolais Nouveau.

“The grapes for this wine are harvested in September and bottled in November,” Thomas said. “People who do not have much experience with wine just love it because it tastes like bubble gum.”

He said the fruity fresh flavor will only stay around for the holidays and it should be thrown out after about six months.

“It’s good for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner,” he said. “But it is very tasty and not very expensive for those who don’t have much experience with wine.”

This type of wine becomes available Nov. 21, but Thomas said his winery does not carry it.

— Brenda L. Holmes writes for the Hendricks County Flyer in Avon, Ind.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Tips for Enjoying Wine While Dining Out

Ever feel like a daunting task when selecting and enjoying wine in a restaurant. Nope, it doesn't have to be.

Here are 10 tips for enjoying wine when dining out:

1. Don’t be afraid to ask the sommelier or server for advice. Let him know what kind of wine you and your dining companions prefer.

2. Look beyond the bottle. Many restaurants now offer other options for wine lovers such as wines served by the glass, wines served in half-bottles as well as wine flights (2-3 ounce pours of several wines, served at the same time). These are great when you are dining out and everyone wants to eat and drink something different.

3. Visit the Southern Hemisphere for white wines. New Zealand and South African Sauvignon Blancs are terrific food wines because of their herby, citrusy quality and great acidity. They work with so many foods for the same reason that squirting a lemon wedge on your dish does - it “wakes up” your taste buds, makes your mouth water and compels you to go back and take another bite of your food.

4. If everyone wishes to drink the same kind of wine, but each guest is ordering something different from the menu, then select a Pinot Noir from California, Oregon or Washington. Pinots are typically light to medium bodied, with light tannins. They can hold their own next to
any dish and they go exceptionally well with duck, salmon and chicken.

5. Seek out value areas on the wine list. Wines from South America, South Africa and the Languedoc region of France are delicious choices that won’t break the bank. You may end up finding a new favorite wine and impress your friends with your stellar wine knowledge!

6. Select Champagne or other sparkling wines. Usually relegated to Valentine’s Day, anniversaries or other celebrations, sparkling wines are often overlooked when dining out. But they are great wines to enjoy with food - the bubbles and acidity cleanse and refresh the palate.

7. Remember a few pairings. Pinot noir is just made for salmon. Chianti and Pinot Grigio go perfectly with anything tomato-based (i.e. a lot of Italian cuisine). Cotes du Rhone pair beautifully with lamb and stews. Off-dry Rieslings and Gewurztraminers work with Thai, Indian and Vietnamese foods.

8. Make sure the wines are served at the right temperature. Often, red wines in restaurants are served too warm. “Cellar temperature” for reds is about 60 degrees Fahrenheit. If full-bodied reds like Shiraz or Zinfandel are served much higher than that, you may feel a hot alcohol sensation in the back of your throat. If this happens, ask the server for a bucket of ice water, and submerge the bottle for a few minutes. Likewise, whites served too cold, while refreshing on a hot day, will numb the fruit flavors. If a white is served ice cold, just use your hands to cup the glass for a few minutes to bring it up to a temperature where you will be able to enjoy its nuances.

9. If the wine smells or tastes musty or moldy, send it back! Let your server or sommelier know if you are one of the unlucky ones who gets a bottle or a glass of contaminated wine. They should have no problem replacing it.

10. Wine isn’t what you expected? If you and your companions just don’t like the wine, you can certainly send it back and get another bottle, but do not expect the restaurant to foot the bill. But don’t let it ruin your dining experience. Wine is very subjective, and figuring out what you like to drink is an ongoing process. Next time, test something else on the menu!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Is Smelling The Wine Cork A Myth?

Ha ha ha, what a interesting myth...

When a waiter presents you with your wine selection, it is often thought that it is a good time to smell the cork. Well, it is not wrong to do so as you can smell a few things on the cork such as a stale cork.

Hmmm, I would suggest that you feel the cork and notice if it is warm or cool, wet or dry, hard or soft. By feeling the cork can tell you whether the wine has been properly stored or at least hint a few clues to you.

The cork should be flexible, elastic, soft enough to be compressible and hard enough to hold together. Older wines will show some age on the cork. The “fill” line on the wine should be pretty close to the bottom of the cork. Hopefully the wine bottle has been kept in good storage to reduce evaporation.

If all these factors look good, just smell the wine and seek fresh aromas. If it is an older wine, the aromas may be more aged. However, we should never accept a wine that has any off aromas or stale characters. While some older wines may need a moment to wake up and really show their true selves, they should never smell dead, dried or stale. Stay alert for wet cardboard, wet
cork and musty-dusty aromas as this wine may be “corked”.

If this happens, the restaurant should replace the wine for a fresh bottle. You are encouraged to ask for a new one although this may not the fault of the restaurant, the winery or anyone specific. It may just be the cork and small little bacteria that made it through endless controls designed to eliminate bacteria which is a hard task.

New Found Website On Wine

Hey, you guess what?

I found a website that talks anything about wine and it has multi-language translation. In the website, there is a blog, videos on wines, wine news as well as articles for wine. One of the article that caught my attention is Preserving Wine With Gas. Besides wine articles, I find the newly created blog very cool and the posts are pretty interesting.

After browsing through my new found website, I have decided to add a link of its blog to mine so that I can always revisit the site in future.

Well, I am so happy with what I have found today. Cheers...

Monday, November 27, 2006

How To Store Leftover Wine

For some wine drinkers, very often they encounter situations whereby they could not finish the whole bottle of wine and needs to store it until the next consumption.

Well, do you know that the moment you pull the cork out of the bottle, wine comes in contact with air and once that happens, oxidation process begins. If you are not planning to consume all the wine in one sitting, then you need to know how to store the remaining wine so it won’t go bad.

Oxidation is the chemical reaction that occurs when oxygen comes in contact with wine. At first, oxidation is a good thing; it helps “open up” the wine, revealing different facets of its bouquet and aroma. However, after a couple of hours, further oxidation is a bad thing. It starts to damage the wine and will eventually ruin it.

Many of us have had the experience of leaving an unfinished bottle out all night without the cork back on. The difference in flavor and aroma the next day is striking and unmistakable. Even if re-corked the next day, the wine will usually taste flat and unpleasant. This is the product of the oxidation process.

So how do you preserve an open bottle of wine when you don’t want to (or can’t) drink the whole thing in one sitting?

There are in fact four reliable methods of preserving the remaining wine, some more reliable
than others:

(1) First, put the cork back on and put the wine in the fridge. The oxidative process slows down dramatically in cooler temperatures. This is a very easy and a fairly reliable method when you don’t have any other choices. Certainly much better than leaving an open bottle on the kitchen counter overnight.

(2) A second option is to transfer the remaining wine to a half-bottle (375ml) and put it in the fridge. Doing this eliminates most of the air that would normally come in contact with the wine in a standard-size bottle (750ml). While more effective than method #1, this involves carefully
transferring the wine over, which is only practical to do with a funnel.

(3) A third alternative is to pump out the air in the bottle with a “wine pump.” These pumps are fairly reliable and they work best if you also stick the bottle in the refrigerator after pumping out the air (no pump can completely remove the air from the bottle). Otherwise, you’ll still notice a slight difference in taste the next day and a more pronounced difference the following day and beyond.

(4) Use a wine preserver spray. This, by far, is the most effective and dependable method of keeping wine fresh. The spray is actually a blend of harmless inert gasses (gasses that don’t react with wine), which keep the wine from spoiling. Spraying the inside the bottle displaces the oxygen already present and leaves a blanket of inert gas over the wine. The amazing thing is, the gas will preserve the wine for days, even weeks!

What about wine that’s already spoiled? Whatever you do, don’t dump it down the drain. Instead, keep it in the fridge (with a cork on) for recipes that call for a little wine. Another idea is to pour it in ice trays and freeze it. And again, when you have a recipe that calls for wine, break off a few “wine cubes” instead.

Some may argue that it’s best to use fresh wine when cooking. However, do what you’d like. In some of the household, they do it so as not to waste a drop of wine!


Saturday, November 25, 2006

Americans Prefer Cheap and Fun Wine

Few days ago, I came across an article from Chicago Tribune that talked about Americans' choice of wines. Pretty interesting.

Here it goes...

"Are American diners xenophobic and cheap? You've got to wonder, a little, looking at a recently released survey of the most-frequently ordered wines in U.S. restaurants in 2005.

The listing, issued by Restaurant Wine, a trade journal based in Napa, Calif., showed 52 of the top 60 wines ordered were American. Only two were French and six were Australian.

Four of those six Aussie wines are from the bargain Yellow Tail line and the other two on the list are pretty inexpensive too. (Not that the top 10 American wines were pricey either; think Kendall-Jackson vintner's reserve chardonnay, Beringer white zinfandel and Inglenook chablis.)

Yellow Tail's chardonnay ranked eighth, the shiraz ranked ninth, the merlot came in 20th and the cabernet placed 47th.

"It's astounding," said publisher Ronn Wiegand of Yellow Tail's rankings. His research was based on industry sources and from hundreds of interviews with restaurateurs, distributors, importers and wineries throughout the United States.

What it speaks to is the enormous popularity and brand recognition enjoyed in the U.S. by inexpensive Australian brands such as Yellow Tail.

Their success is easy to understand: The wines are fun, fruity, accessible and packaged with brio. And they're catching on.

Just ask Larry Kaplan of The Wine Cellar in Palatine, Ill. He usually doesn't sell wines available at supermarkets because supermarkets can buy more and sell it for less.

A customer came in and rattled off a "laundry list" of five inexpensive wines of which Kaplan had none.

"He said, 'You must carry Yellow Tail,' and I said, 'No sir, I don't.' And he said, 'You don't carry any good wine,'" Kaplan said with a chuckle.

Goodness is subjective, but there's no quarreling with the fact that cheap Aussie wines are generating lots and lots of money for Australian winemakers, who seem to have an inexhaustible supply of fun, boldly packaged wines to flood our shores.

The Aussies have "sort of stampeded the market" with bargain wines, Wiegand said. This has occurred even at the expense of pricier, higher-quality wines from Down Under.

What Wiegand expects, and Australian winemakers certainly hope, is that inexpensive wines such as Yellow Tail will be viewed as "starter" wines, meaning these brands will encourage American drinkers to eventually move up the ladder in terms of quality and price."

That's an interesting article to read, isn't it. Cheers...

Friday, November 24, 2006

How Long Can Wine Last

Two common questions that wine lovers always wanted to know are regarding to what happens after the wine bottles have been opened.

After some researching, this is what I got.

Q1: Once I have opened the wine; how long will it last?
A1: Wine is alive, like a flower. When you purchased the flower, it was a bud. A day later, the flower opens. Two days later, the flower is losing its structure and its beauty. The same applies to wine. It is hard to hold a wine together for more than a few days. By the second day after it has been opened, most wines I have tasted have shown evidence of deterioration. Some wines hold together pretty well until day three, but only occasionally.

Q2: Once a bottle is open, is there anything I can do to help my wines age well?
A2: First of all, eliminate the oxygen as much as possible. The best way to do that is to transfer any "leftovers" to a smaller container that doesn’t leave a gap in between the wine and the lid. If this is not possible, there are a few quick things you can do to the bottle you have opened.
  1. Use a nitrogen gas that is heavier than oxygen to push the air out the top of the bottle.
  2. Pump the air out of the bottle.
  3. Fill the bottle with "wine beads" to fill the depleted void remaining after the wine has been drank. "Wine beads" will not rust or mildew or influence the flavor at all.
  4. Drink the wine quickly.
  5. Cook with the wine that goes bad. You have many weeks to do this.
Well, although we can follow the above instructions once the wines are open, nevertheless, isn't it nice if a few good friends can sit around; eat, talk and fully enjoy the wines without having to keep it for another day.

Wines Need To Breath

While surfing the internet on my research on wine, I come across this interesting article on how wines need to breath.

According to the article, the best place that the wine can breathe is in the glass.

Old wines may need to be decantered (a large glass bottle that you pour the wine into). The object of a decanter may not be to let it breathe, as some wines may breathe pretty quickly and die as you sit and wait. The object of a decanter can be just to remove the wine from any sediment (solids that form in the bottle over time) from the juice.

On the other hand, young wines can improve in a decanter as they open quickly and some of the harsh green flavors can soften.

This is interesting stuff, isn't it.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

10 Tips for Buying Wine

Recently, I came across an article that talks about tips for buying good wine. Here is an abstract of what I got.

  1. Don't be afraid to ask for help when making a wine selection. There are many professionals that are eager to help.
  2. Pay attention to the wine's appellation, the area where the wine was grown. Better wines come from better vineyards. You may have to pay more, but it is worth it.
  3. Test something new. We all have favorites, but the glory of drinking wine is finding new and exciting ones to experience.
  4. Pay attention to vintage, the wine's "born on date." Most wineries are making wines that can and should be experienced fresh. Many of these are very good and inexpensive. Don't worry about storing them; drink them.
  5. Do not store wines in the refrigerator. Cold refrigeration can have a negative impact on wines. Put your white wines in an ice bucket 30 minutes prior to service.
  6. At a restaurant; smelling the cork is not necessary, unless you like the smell of cork. The cork smell will tell you nothing about how the wine will taste. The cork will either be wet or dry,which helps determine if the wine was properly stored.
  7. Do smell the wine, which should smell pleasant, fresh and not have any "off" aromas. It should smell alive, like fresh fruit, fresh flowers or fresh spice. If the wine smells stale (like wet cardboard), it is probably not suitable for drinking.
  8. Do not let a waiter pour a full glass of wine, please! Small pours of wine can be swirled, allowing the wine to breathe and open up. Also, wine should be drunk in sips and enjoyed a little at a time. Ask the waiter to let you pour your own wine.
  9. Except for Champagne, do not chill a cold wine in an ice bucket. "Cellar" temperature (about 55 F) is ideal for tasting a wine's true flavors.
  10. When you go to a restaurant, realize that you are paying for a service. In the cost of doing business, it is necessary and standard to markup wine 2 - 3 times the price you will see in a retail store, just like a steak or soft drink.

Well, the tips are pretty useful, isn't it. Cheers...

What Is True Ice Wine?

How does ice wine comes about?

One would expect the ice wine to have a long history in winemaking, however, it does not. Well, the fact is that ice wine has only been around for about 200 years. The theory of its “birth” centers on a German winemaker who was surprised by an early frost decided to press the frozen grapes but separated them from the rest of his vintage so as to avoid ruining everything. To his surprise, the resulting wine was pure and sweet.

Ever since, ice wine has been produced in all wine producing countries of the Northern hemisphere, including Germany, Austria, Hungary, Switzerland and some other countries.

So, how different is the ice wine as compared to other dessert wines?

The key difference between ice wine and other dessert wines is that ice wines show a much clearer fruit and varietal character. This is because other sweet wines are made from botrytis (“noble rot”) affected grapes or with grapes that have been laid out and dried. As for ice wine, the grapes used are healthy at harvest, hence, a good amount of acidity remains and this gives the wine a raciness that other dessert wines generally have to a far lesser degree.

For true ice wine, the wine is made from grapes that are kept on the vine until the temperature sinks below -19.4 Fahrenheit or -7 degree Celsius. In the U.S., New Zealand and some other regions, winemakers have started producing simulated ice wine by tossing the grapes into a commercial freezer. These simulated ice wines are considered to be of lesser quality and will typically sell at half the price of ice wine made in the traditional way.

Both methods do employ the same basic idea - a grape is made up mostly of water and since only the water will freeze at these low temperatures, the sweet grape nectar can be pressed from the grapes while the frozen water remains trapped in the skins.

It is essential to harvest on the first freezing night of the year because grapes left on the vine to go through a freeze-thaw-refreeze cycle can pick up unwanted flavors. Winemakers are often nervous wrecks by harvest time as they will have spent night after night waking up repeatedly to check the temperature.

The best ice wines are clear and vibrant in their flavors and aromas. The aromatic Scheurebe grape has properties that make it a popular choice for use in crafting great ice wine. The stunning 2002 Eiswein by the famous Austrian Gsellmann and Gsellmann winery exemplifies this perfectly. Traminer is another aromatic varietal that results in great ice wines.

Finding great ice wines can be almost as difficult as making them. As the production method suggests, quantities are very limited and the amount exported out limits availability even more. Add to that the fact that every year around the holidays, most major food and wine publications will run stories about ice wines, thus ice wines found on any retailers' shelf are quickly being snapped up.

Finding a great, true ice wine is certainly worth the effort since there is nothing else quite like this spectacular dessert wine specialty.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

What Is Wine?

According to Wikipedia, wine is an alcoholic beverage produced by the fermentation of the juice of fruits, usually grapes. Although a number of other fruits such as plum, elderberry and blackcurrent may also be fermented, only grapes are naturally chemically balanced to ferment completely without requiring extra sugars, acids, enzymes or other nutrients. Non-grape wines are called fruit wine or country wine. Other products made from starch based materials, such as barley wine, rice wine (sake) are more similar to beers. Beverages made from other fermentable material such as honey (mead) or that are distilled, such as brandy, are not wines. The English wine and its equivalents in other languages are protected by law in many jurisdictions.

Little is actually known of the prehistory of wine. It is plausible that early foragers and farmers made alcoholic beverages from wild fruits, including wild grapes (Vitis silvestris). This would have become easier following the development of pottery vessels in the later Neolithic of the Near East, about 9000 years ago. However, wild grapes are small and sour, and relatively rare at archaeological sites. It is unlikely they could have been the basis of a wine industry.

Domesticated grapes were abundant in the Near East from the beginning of the Early Bronze Age, starting in 3200 BC. There is also increasingly abundant evidence for wine making in Sumer and Egypt in the third millennium BC. The ancient Chinese made wine from native wild "mountain grapes" like Vitis thunbergii for a time, until they imported domesticated grape seeds from Central Asia in the second century BC. Grapes were, of course, also an important food. There is scant evidence for earlier domestication of grape, in the form of grape pips from Chalcolithic Tell Shuna in Jordon, but this evidence remains unpublished.

Exactly where wine was first made is still unclear. It could have been anywhere in the vast region, stretching from Spain to Central Asia, where wild grapes grow. However, the first large-scale production of wine must have been in the region where grapes were first domesticated, Southern Caucasus and the Near East. Wild grapes grow in George, northern Levant, coastal and southeastern Turkey, northern Iran or Armenia. None of these areas can, as yet, be definitively singled out, despite persistent suggestions that George is the birthplace of wine.

Wines are usually named either by their grape variety or by their place of production. Generally speaking, Old World (European) wines are named for the place of production, with the grapes used often not appearing on the label. New World wines (those from everywhere except Europe) are generally named for the grape variety. More and more, however, market recognition of particular regions and wineries is leading to their increased prominence on New World wine labels. Examples of recognized locales include: Napa Valley, Russian River Valley, Willamette Valley, Sonoma, Walla Walla, Central Coast, etc. Still, though, the grape variety is almost invariably present on the label. This is not the case with most European wines because of tradition and legal restrictions. However, to consumers, the system can be confusing if not impenetrable. For example, 72% of French adults report that they have difficulty understanding wine labels. This is understandable; the many systems of geographic nomenclature with their precise meanings and implications are highly complex.

Within Europe, a major exception to the no-grape rule is with German wines, for which it is not uncommon to find this information on the front label. To accommodate market demands, an increasing number of French wine makers are labeling their bottles with the variety or varieties of grapes included, as permitted by law.

The taste of a wine depends not only on the grape species and varietal blend, but also on the ground and climate (known as terroir) where it is cultivated. Historically, wines have been known by names reflecting their origin, and sometimes style: Bordeaux, Rioja, Mosel and Chianti are all legally defined names, reflecting the traditional wines produced in the named region. These naming conventions or "appellations" (as they are known in France) dictate not only where the grapes in a wine were grown, but also which grapes went into the wine and how they were vinified. The appellation system is strongest in the European Union, but a related system, the American Viticultural Area, restricts the use of certain regional labels in America, such as Napa Valley, Santa Barbara and Willamette Valley.

While most countries restrict the use of European place names, there exists a legal definition called semi-generic in the United States that enables U.S. winemakers to use certain generic terms (Champagne, Hock, Sherry, etc.) if there appears next to the term the actual appellation of origin in order to prevent any possible confusion. Generally only the most inexpensive, mass-produced wines (or vin ordinaire) make use of these place names as semi-generic wine names; most of those now use the more popular varietal labeling.

Some blended wine names are marketing terms and the use of these names is governed by trademark or copyright law, rather than a specific wine law or a patent on the actual varietal blend or process used to achieve it. For example, Meritage is generally a Bordeaux-style blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, and may also include Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec. Use of the term Meritage is protected by licensing agreements by The Meritage Association.

Wine is a popular and important beverage that accompanies and enhances a wide range of European and Mediterranean-style cuisines, from the simple and traditional to the most sophisticated and complex. Red, white and sparkling wines are the most popular, and are also known as light wines, because they only contain approximately 10-14% alcohol. (Alcohol percentages are usually by volume.) The aperitif and dessert wines contain 14-20% alcohol, and are fortified to make them richer and sweeter than the light wines. Although there are many classes of dinner wines, they can be categorized under six specific classes as follows:
  • Apéritif (or better known as "appetizer wines"): include dry sherry, Madeira, Vermouth and other flavored wines, made to be consumed before eating a meal.
  • Red wines are usually dry and go well with such main-course dishes as read meats, spaghetti and highly-seasoned foods.
  • Rosé wines (also called "pink wines") can be served with almost any dish, but are considered best with seafood, salads, cold cuts, pork and curries.
  • White wines can be very dry to rather sweet, these wines should be served chilled, and go well with white meats, seafood and fowl.
  • Sparkling wines are frequently served at banquets, formal dinners and weddings. They can be white, pink (rosé), or red. The best known sparkling wines come from the Champagne region in France. Sparkling wines from Spain are called Cava, and in Germany they are called Sekt. Although often served throughout a meal, sparkling wines do not generally pair well with main meals, and should be served as an apéritif or with certain entrées.
  • Table wine is not bubbly, although some have a very slight carbonation, the amount of which is not enough to disqualify them as table wines. According to U.S. standards of identity, table wines may have an alcohol content that is no higher than 14%. In Europe, light wine must be within 8.5% and 14% alcohol by volume. As such, unless a wine has more than 14% alcohol, or it has bubbles, it is a table wine or a light wine. In reality, in those regions where grapes ripen fully, such as California's hot Central Valley, a large portion of New World red wines have between 14 and 15.5% alcohol, yet are still certainly 'table wines' in the practical sense.
  • Dessert wines range from medium-sweet to very sweet. These wines are classified under dessert wines only because they are sometimes served with desserts. Among these are port wine, sweet sherry, Tokaji (Tokay), Sauternes and muscatel.
  • Cooking wines typically contain a significant quantity of salt. It is a wine of such poor quality, that it is unpalatable by itself and intended for use only in cooking. (Note, however, that most cooking authorities advise against cooking with any wine one would find unacceptable to drink.)
The labels on certain bottles of wine suggest that they need to be set aside for an hour before drinking to breathe, while other wines are recommended to be drunk as soon as they are opened. "Breathing" means allowing a wine to aerate before drinking. Generally, younger wines benefit from some aeration, while older wines do not. The word, "younger", refers to the first one third of a wine’s life, which varies from wine type to wine type and from wine to wine. For most red wines, "younger" means up to one to two years, while for white wines, it could mean as little as a few months. However, with every rule, there are exceptions: for a Beaujolais Nouveau, younger is measured in months, if not weeks; for a hearty Barossa Shiraz, it could be up to ten years. "Older", as one would expect, refers to the last one third of a wine's life.

During aeration, the exposure of younger wines to air often "relaxes" the flavours and makes them taste smoother and better integrated in aroma, texture, and flavor. Wines that are older generally fade (lose their character and flavor intensity) with extended aeration. Breathing, however, does not benefit all wines, and should not therefore be taken to the extreme. In general, wine should be tasted as soon as it is opened to determine how long it may be aerated, if at all. It should then be tasted every 15 minutes until the wine is, according to individual preference, ready to drink. As a general rule, younger white wines normally require no more than 15-30 minutes of aeration while younger red wines should be no more than 30-60 minutes. If in doubt, it is better to err on the side of too little aeration than too much. Note that 'aerating' a wine involves more than removal of the cork. For aeration to provide any benefit whatsoever, the wine must be decanted.

How about the health effects of wine (and alcohol in general)? Well, they are considerable ongoing studies regarding this subject.

It now seems clear that regular consumption of up to 1-2 drinks a day (1 standard drink is approximately equal to 5 oz, or 125 ml, of 13% wine) does reduce mortality, due to a 10%–40% lower risk of coronary heart disease, especially for those over the age of 35 or so. Originally, the effect was observed with red wine. Compounds, known as polyphenols, are found in larger amounts in red wine, and there is some evidence that these are especially beneficial. One particularly interesting polyphenol antioxidant found in red wine is resveratrol, to which numerous beneficial effects have been attributed. Red wine also contains a significant amount of flavonoids and red anthocyanin pigments that act as antioxidants. With excessive consumption, however, any health benefits may be offset by the increased rate of various alcohol-related diseases, primarily cancers of mouth, upper respiratory tract, and ultimately, cirrhosis of liver, especially if consumption of red wine is immoderate.

Other studies have shown that similar beneficial effects on the heart can be obtained from drinking beer, and distilled spirits. However, recent studies show that only red wine reduces the risk of contracting several types of cancer where beer and other alcoholic beverages show no change. Dr. Sinclair of Harvard University and others believe that resveratrol is the active molecule responsible for the significant difference in lowering cancer risks and that the required amounts are only found in red wine. Trace amounts of resveratrol exist in grapes, white and red wine and peanuts.

Sulfites (or sulphites) are chemicals that occur naturally in grapes and also are added to wine as a preservative. They can trigger a severe and life-threatening allergic reaction in a small percentage of consumers, primarily asthmatics. In the USA nearly all commercially produced wine, including that with no added sulfites, is required to state on the label "contains sulfites." In other countries they do not have to be declared on the label, leading to a common mistaken belief that only wine from the USA contains sulfites. Many consumers who have adverse reactions to wine, such as headaches or hangovers, blame added sulfites but are probably reacting instead to naturally-occurring biogenic amines such as histamine. The quantity of sulfites in a glass of wine is the same as in a serving of dried apricots.

Okay, that's all I have for wine at this moment in time. So, lets enjoy our wine and cheers...