All posts by Gwendolyn

Tips & Tricks on Preserving Wine

It’s a common question – if how long can I keep a bottle of wine after opening it? While some are confused by the question (they’re in what we call the “clean bottle club”), it’s still good to know what happens to a bottle of wine after opening. Air is a wine’s best friend and its worst enemy. After opening a wine, air brings out and enhances the aromas  and flavors of the wine. That’s the purpose of swirling your glass or using a decanter. But too much oxygen leads a wine down the path to becoming vinegar. That’s why many wines go “bad” a few days after opening. So here are some tips on how to preserve that bottle.

  • Put it in the fridge – even the red wines. Refrigeration slows down the aging process of perishable items, and once open, wine is perishable. When ready to finish the bottle, take reds out about 30 minutes early or dunk in a bucket of lukewarm water until it comes back to drinking temperature.
  • Use a vacuum closure. For still wines, you can use the vacu-vin closure, Vacuvinwhich sucks the air out of the bottle. Some feel it also sucks some of the flavor out of the wine, so give it a try and judge for yourself. For sparkling wines, find a Champagne Stopper, which helps keep the bubbles in tack. Both of these help prolong a wine’s shelf (or fridge) life for a few days.
  • Gas it! Private Preserve is a safe, inert, non-flammable, tastelessz-bloggy gas (harmless Nitrogen, carbon dioxide and argon), found naturally in the air that we breathe. When sprayed into the bottle, it blankets the wine, keeping oxygen from causing deterioration.
  • Transfer to a smaller bottle. Pour the wine into a small water bottle with a cap closure. This limits the surface area of air to wine and has been found to be a quite effective method.

All wines are different, and some, particularly higher quality, young wines, are able to last a bit longer when open and some even improve after being open a couple of days! So enjoy learning about the wine ageing process as you experiment with different methods. Cheers!

3 Under-the-Radar Whites for Summer Sipping

While Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio are sure to make an appearance at any summer picnic, party or happy hour, there are a few other summer whites that are sure to beat the heat and will let you venture out beyond your traditionally summer sippers.

Here are our top 3:

Muscadet: Simple, yet terribly refreshing and full of “minerality,” meaning it’s crisp and light and reminiscent of a stone walkway after a hard rain… Affordable, and a perfect match for any seafood, especially oysters!

Vinho Verde: Lunch wine! Slightly effervescent and low in alcohol, this dry, refreshing wine is perfect in a plastic cup, as a big, cold glass on a hot day, or even as the base for a good white Sangria! Pick up a bottle of this affordable, quench-busting wine. Added bonus? it comes in rose form :)

 Chenin Blanc: Loire, yes. South Africa, big YES! Chenin Blanc from South Africa might be one of my favorite Sauvignon Blanc/Chardonnay look-alikes. At times it reminds you of a value Macon-Villages or entry-level white Burgundy, while other times, I think I may have a complex Sauvignon Blanc. It’s often under $15, sometimes under $10. The acidity and balance are unbeatable in the heat!

For summer, ideal whites have high acidity, so there are a number of choices for summer sipping, but give these 3 a try. Cheers!

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#DrinkPink! Rose season is here

Rose, rosado, rosato, vin gris, blush… whatever you choose to call it, it’s the season for drinking pink.  Like seeing the world through rose-colored glasses, we enjoy seeing the summer through a rose-colored wine glass.

drinkpinksingleWhile rose is delightful year round, it is especially popular during the summer months. Perhaps the image of sipping Provence rose on the Mediterranean beaches comes into play, but most likely it’s because rose is refreshing, unique and an ideal wine for aperitifs, picnics, BBQs and just about everything else going on in the summer.

Rose is most often (and almost always looking at the rose sold by Wine.com) made using red grape varietals. These grapes most often correlate to a wine’s region. Southern France focuses on Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre and Cinsault. Rosado from Spain is often Tempranillo or Grenache. Sangiovese-based Rosato from Italy, and then the California rose, which can be made from Pinot Noir, Rhone varieties and just about anything else.

Rose finds its pink color by utilizing brief contact with the red grape skins – much less contact than red wines. The length of time the wine spends with the skins, as well as the grape variety, determine the color of the rose. Longer time of course leads to a darker color, while shorter time results in a lighter-hued pink.  Rose presents a range of colors, from orange-salmon to deep-almost-purple . After skin contact, the juice is separated and fermented like a white wine.

With that in mind, rose is served cold, like white wines. Due to the short time they spend with the grape skins, These wines lack tannins, but maintain a lovely structure.  Pink wines offer bright acidity, red fruit flavors and excellent texture – flavors and structure of course vary by region and variety, but the wonderful variety offer up something for every one and every summer occasion. So stock up and drink pink!

Hurray for #Chardonnay Day!

14_04_11 1100 Pebble Beach Food & Wine_4000_BlogOh, it’s finally here – Chardonnay Day. The day I absolutely love and adore. Yes, I am the unabashed Chardonnay lover. I was hooked after my first sip of white Burgundy. Since then I’ve been searching the world for the same sensation for a lot less dough. It’s been tough. See, I fell in love with Chardonnay just after college when I traveled to Burgundy for a wedding. It was just the carafe of table wine they were pouring in the cafe, but I vividly remember thinking, this is so. dang. good. Much different than the Kendall Jackson and Columbia Crest we so often brought to dinner parties to seem sophisticated in college. I had very little wine vocabulary at the time, so I believe I called it, “deliciousness,” but I can’t be sure.

Now I know more about Burgundy and more about why I love wine from Burgundy. The terroir there is not a myth. Something about the soil, sun, aspect, grape clones and more help to create one of the best wines in the world – creamy but crisp, with layers of complexity between fruit and oak and spice… And yet, these wines are often unattainable in price.

And so, I try Chardonnays. I try any I get my hands on, seeking that wine that has the balance, the complexity and the je ne sais quoi that I can I love in Burgundian wine, but in a bottle I can afford. It will never be just like my Burgundy favorites,  but I have found many value Chardonnay that achieve balance and a loveliness that are a decent second… here are my favorites under $50!

Iron Horse Estate Chardonnay
From the Green Valley part of the Russian River, this cool-climate gem is affordable (under $25) and absolutely delicious. No malo, and a perfect balance of fruit and very light oak.

De Wetshof Bon Vallon Chardonnay
I absolutely loved this wine! And there are not many unwooded Chardonnays I like (Iron Horse an exception), but this did a fantastic job.

Esk Valley Chardonnay
Represents what New Zealand is doing in Hawkes’ Bay, and at an affordable price.

Catena Alta Chardonnay
Argentina is known for values, and this $30+ Chardonnay acts like a $60+ from California. It’s kind of a mild splurge…

Dierberg Chardonnay
A fantastic find for me! A small boutique wine with incredible character and complexity.

Hamilton Russell Chardonnay
This coastal winery delivers a ton of depth, balance and complexity on this high quality bottle from South Africa.

Craggy Range Kidnapper’s Vineyard Chardonnay
Chablis-like in style, can’t get enough of this New Zealand wine.

In general, for my style of Chardonnay, I love exploring the wines of Oregon, New Zealand, South Africa and little pockets of California

 

What Chardonnay will you drink for #ChardonnayDay?

The future of Australia… it’s bright indeed!

Yesterday, Australia’s First Families of Wine (AFFW) gathered at the Press Club  in San Francisco, showcasing wines from twelve different firmly-established wine-making families of Australia.

AFFW logoAs a history major, I love First Families.They get things started, they blaze trails and begin an era. They create “tradition.”

And Australia has tradition. In an effort to highlight this tradition and history as it relates to Australian wine, and put to rest any idea that Australian wine might be a “fad,” Australia’s First Families of Wine are going global!

What can we say about Australian wine & tradition? Quite a bit. First, Australians are funny. They are off-the-cuff, good sense of humor funny. Of the 12 representatives from the AFFW, not one was dry and boring. Second, they are all a bunch of dudes. Seriously, 12 men standing there talking about their wines. BUT, the majority of offspring from these 12 men are females.  In fact, three of them have three daughters. As they talked about the next generation, they explained that many of their children left the “nest” to explore, but then returned to the family business with a deeper passion for it. So we expect these first families to stay family-oriented as it moves to those fourth, fifth and sixth generations. The most exiting thing I discovered at the tasting with this group on Monday, was the diversity of these wines and how well they can age! Sure, I knew Australia was diverse – I already drink a lot of Australian wine. But the ageing potential… from a 15 year old Marsanne to a 18 year old Cabernet to the most luscious “sticky” I’ve ever had, the wines here were tremendous. Both for sipping and storing in your cellar.

Despite these families being the “first” and the “traditional” Australian wines, they are not opposed to change and innovation. In fact, they embrace marrying the old and new. Over the last century, wineries, like those part of the first families, have been experimenting with varietals and pruning and sorting and winemaking. They have worked hard to find out what works best.

The future of Australian wine is certainly bright. I had a chance to sit down with Alistair Purbrick of Tahbilk Winery, Robert Hill Smith of Yalumba Winery, and Chester Osborn of d’Arenberg Winery.  AFFM2   All three believe this is a perfect time for Australian wine. The cheap Australian wine craze has died down, and it is time to re-introduce the world to Australian wine from those who do it best.

Whether you love  jammy Shiraz, bone-dry Riesling, cool-climate Pinot Noir, aged Semillon or some creamy Chardonnay, Australia’s diverse climate and wine selection can satisfy nearly any palate.

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