Category Archives: Wine Education

WINE (noun): the alcoholic fermented juice of fresh grapes used as a beverage

Source: Merriam-Webster

Top Underrated Wine Regions

There are a plethora of underrated wine regions and grapes in the world. That is to say that the wine geeks know and love them, but the general wine public do not. Could be because they are hard to pronounce, or the labels are confusing, or they are not as hyped up or available in stores. Whatever the reason, the wine geeks will continually try to push these underrated wines onto the everyday wine drinkers until they become popular, and then we will move onto something else. So, in the effort to educate, here are my top picks for underrated regions in the wine world:

Alsace: Hands down, one of the best regions for white wine ever. Pinot Blanc is refreshing trimbachin its simplicity, Pinot Gris is rich and round, blends are unique and complex, and the Cremants (sparkling) from Alsace are devine. Not to mention affordable. In all, a region producing an array of whites – from sparkling to dry to sweet – that are ideal for food and easy on the wallet.

Loire: Wait, did I say Alsace was hands down best for whites. Hmmm… I take it back. Because there is also the Loire. Another French region so often overlooked, the Loire produces food-friendly whites, reds, rose, sparkling and sweet wines, with a huge range of flavors, from refreshing Muscadet to steely Sancerre to off-dry Vouvray to light and fresh Chinon (a red wine).  And it’s all so damn good, with one underlying aspect: acidity! These wines are all crisp and perfect with food. So if you love acid, buy a bottle (of anything!) from the Loire. Your palate will thank you.

Western Australia: Australia gets lots of love, but Baroassa Shiraz, Clare Valley Rieslings and Yarra Valley Pinot are diverse and all, but you have to try Margaret River wines to leeuwin vineyardstruly understand the depth of Australian wine. All the way across the country, Margaret River is a region with a climate similar to Bordeaux, which results in incredible Cabernet and Cabernet blends. For whites, they make some of the best Chardonnay I’ve had, definitely the best in Australia. Just give Leeuwin Artist Series or Cullen a try. You’ll be in heaven.

Austria: I’m hesitant to even put this on here because Austria is gaining some ground in hype and availability of its wines. Gruner Veltliner is obviously the top white to try (one of the best to pair with those vegetables that never pair well with foods), and then you have a whole line up of hard-to-pronounce reds like Zweigelt and Blaufrankish. They won’t be your typical Cab/Merlot/Pinot flavor profile, but they are interesting and.. you guessed it. Food friendly (do you see my theme here?).

So give some of these wines a try – for the ones you can find – and broaden that palate. You’ll be well on your way to wine geekdom.

Preserving a wine after opening…

If you don’t happen to be a member of the empty bottle club, there may be times you are faced with leftover wine and the daunting task of trying to preserve it. Without a helpful “gadget,” some basic options include re-corking the wine and sticking it in the fridge. Even it it is a read wine. Putting it in the fridge slows the oxidation process of a wine so make sure you cool it down in there. If it is a red wine, taking it out an hour or so before you plan to drink the next day will help. Have an extra water bottle around? Because another method to prevent too much oxygen from hitting the wine is to transfer the wine to a smaller container with a tight closer, like a water bottle, and keep the wine in the fridge that way. This cuts down on surface area, though plastic is not as inert as glass, so you would not want to use this method for too many days in fridge.

And we’ve got gadgets to help, too! Two gadgets that help preserve wine are the VacuVin Wine Saver and the Private Preserve. The first is a suction device with a special stopper that pulls the air out of the wine. The second is an inert gas spray that blankets the wine. Both work well, are safe and have the primary goal of preventing oxygen to affect the wine. If you don’t have a device, you can also transfer your wine into a smaller container, such as a water bottle, which will allow less surface area of the wine to reach oxygen. Or you can just re-cork or put the screw cap back on as tight as possible. Whatever method you use, make sure to put the wine in the fridge!

Check out our video on closures to learn more.

What are “legs” in a wine?

I often get the question at wine tastings, “What do legs in a wine mean?” Very valid question as some will stare intently at them as they swirl a wine, while others wonder, what are they looking for exactly? So what are legs? “Legs” in a wine glass are the tears that stream down the side of the glass after you swirl it. Some take special notice of these legs – are they fast or slow? Thick or thin? Whatever speed and shape they take, what does it even mean? Well, we can tell you what it DOESN’T mean – the legs of a wine show RiedelGlasswareyou nothing of the wine’s quality, and studies have shown they don’t really show much about a wine’s viscosity, either. Legs are created in a glass by a number of different relationships between the liquid and the glass surface and between the water and alcohol components of the wine. The way the legs fall usually has to do with the level of alcohol in the wine and the speed at which it evaporates, which means, in easier terms, that  thicker and slower legs can indicate a higher alcohol level. That said, sugar in wine can also lead to slower legs, so a sweet wine may showcases legs that slide down the glass more slowly. So, in short, watching the legs flow down a glass may be pretty, but won’t give you much insight into the wine. You can, however, guesstimate that heaver and thicker legs may equate to higher alcohol and/or a touch more sugar in your wine. Legs are fun to look at, but don’t give you all that much information about a wine.

Delicious, non-age-worthy Bordeaux

So many wine drinkers shy away from Bordeaux because of the assumption that a good Bordeaux must be old and expensive. But the majority of Bordeaux is quite the opposite. Most wine from this esteemed region is meant to be drunk early, and is definitely affordable. You just don’t read about those wines as often as the first growths fetching $2,000 per bottle in a good vintage.

Since the majority of wines from Bordeaux are meant to be early drinking and affordable AND the fact that Bordeaux is the largest wine-producing region in France, that means there is a LOT of wine in that category – how does one determine the GOOD affordable Bordeaux?

Well, we are featuring a selection today and to help you find the right wine for you,  here are some helpful tips.

1. Go with a good vintage. Bordeaux has had a string of fairly strong vintages, with 2008, 2009 and 2010 shining with top ratings. Even 2006 and 2007, which may not have run away with top ratings, still deliver some solid wines worth trying.

2. Go with a Merlot-based wine. There are some killer Cab-based affordable Bordeaux out there, but Merlot in general is more approachable when young, so choose a wine from a right-bank region like Cotes-de-Castillon, Fronsac or St. Emilion.

3. Go with a trusted producer. Many of the “big” names (think Rothschild) in Bordeaux make “smaller” wines. If you see a producers second wine or a wine they invest in, it’s a good bet if you like their top wine (or think you might), then you’ll enjoy their second wine.

Those are my three tips. They are not guarantees, but may help you navigate the selection of affordable Bordeaux out there. Remember, Bordeaux is meant to be a food wine, not a huge fruit bomb. So these are not wines to compare to your favorite California or Australian red, but rather wines that will show a bit more restraint and structure and really shine when paired with a meal. So stock up and enjoy Bordeaux!

International Tempranillo Day

November 8th marks the second annual celebration of #TempranilloDay. And what a perfect day to celebrate a grape that produces wine so reminicent of fall.

So what do you know about Tempranillo? Here are a few facts.

– It’s the 4th most planted grape in the world
– Spain has ove 60 different regional names for this grape
– It’s the base for the majority of Rioja wines
– Flavor profiles include plum, strawberry, leather, spice and tobacco or tea leaves
– The variety takes well to oak and can produce long-lasting wines
– Medium-bodied, medium-acidity, medium-tannins and medium-alcohol – a nice all-around medium wine!
– Favorite food pairings include: tapas, paella, plate of spanish cheese & meat, ham bocadillos

So grab a bottle of Tempranillo today. At Wine.com, we have 1-cent shipping on Rioja Tempranillo for today only, so stock up on your favorites!