FAQs

Commonly asked Questions and General Information

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Advice1

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STORING OPEN WINE

QUESTION: What is the best way to store an open bottle of wine?

ANSWER: The best way to store an open bottle of wine is to use a vacuum type cork system. Vacu-Vin is most widely available and includes a pump and rubber corks.

 

QUESTION: What is the best way to store an open bottle of sparkling wine?

ANSWER: Use a champagne stopper, but realize bubbles will fade with each day.  Best advice is to only store bottles that are at least half full and drink the remainder the following day.

 

QUESTION: How many times should I “pump” the Vacu-Vin?

ANSWER: Very good question!  This is an ideal case where more is not better! The Vacu-Vin pump should only be pumped until there is slight resistance.  Pumping beyond slight resistance creates a pressurized environment and results in an opposite effect of preserving the wine.  In reality over-pumping ages the wine by forcing out the oxygen resulting in “artificial” aging. A good rule of thumb is about 4 pumps for a half bottle, and the more wine, the less pumps.

 

QUESTION: How do I clean the Vacu-Vin

ANSWER: “Cleaning the Pump” – Rinse the pump regularly with ONLY water, especially after pumping red wine. Use a napkin or cloth to wipe the inside.

“Cleaning the Rubber Stoppers” – Rinse with running water.

NOTE: DO not use soap on the rubber corks as the soap adheres to the rubber and will impart a soapy flavor to the wine.

 

QUESTION: How long can I store an open bottle of wine with a Vacuum system?

ANSWER: The standard answer is a couple of days, but it varies greatly on the wine and how much is left in the bottle.  If a bottle is at least half full, a white wine will ordinarily last a day or two while a red wine could last up to a week.

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SERVING WINE

QUESTION:  Stemware & Glasses, do they really make a difference?

ANSWER: ABSOLUTELY!  Stemware makes an incredible difference and I have found Riedel to be a consistent performer.

 

QUESTION:  Stemware & Glasses, how many different types of glasses do I need?

ANSWER: To start off, I recommend an all purpose glass, usually a “magnum” size.  The best budget glass is Riedel Ouverture Magnum and is lead free.  The glass is designed for red but works well for white.

When budget permits, the well equipped wine drinker will have at least three types of glasses, Red, white, and sparkling.  Again, the Riedel Ouverture line is by far the best performer for the price.  There are also glasses that are designed for specific varietals, for example Pinot Noir, and these glasses do make a difference, but more glasses equates to more money.  But again, most folks can make do with the 3 basics red, white and sparkling.

 

QUESTION:  What temperature is ideal for serving wine?

ANSWER: Wine serving temperature is a matter of preference, but there are some general recommendations.  White wine is recommended to be served “chilled” around 48 degrees Fahrenheit and red wine is recommended served at room temperature, approximately 68 degrees Fahrenheit.

 

QUESTION:  What is the reason for serving wine at a specific temperature?

ANSWER: At different temperatures, different flavors become more prominent or are masked.  Chilling a wine will mask the oak and tannins, while warm wine will increase the prominence of oak and tannins and mask the fruit.  It is a good experiment to taste the same wine at different temperatures to learn the effect and to identify your own personal temperature preferences.

 

QUESTION:  Decanter?  When and Why should I use a decanter?

ANSWER: Decanting has two purposes.  Primarily, decanting is a common practice when serving young red wine and is used to allow the wine to “breathe” and “open”.  Decanting is also used as a technique to isolate sediment.  If poured carefully, most sediment will remain in the bottle and what sediment makes its way into the decanter can be easily identified and retained in the decanter when pouring.

 

QUESTION:  What are the rules for pairing wine with food?

ANSWER:  There are numerous opinions, rules/guidelines and exceptions to wine and food pairing.  The bottom line is that wine and food pairing is a personal preference. What is most important to understand, is how wine attributes (flavor, acid, sugar and tannins), interact with food and ultimately impact your palate.  Take a moment to think about how your palate feels if you drink milk while eating an orange or how it would feel if you ate a donut while sipping a glass of beer.  While you might like donuts, oranges, beer and milk, the aforementioned combinations just don’t work.  So while thinking of drinking orange juice while eating an Oreo might make you pucker, take that same Oreo and dip it in a glass of cold milk, or snack on some salty pretzels with that beer and your palate is dancing with delight!

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SERVING WINE

Effective pairing involves complimenting and contrasting the flavors between the wine and the food.  A heavy tannin wine needs tannin-like flavors to offset the harshness of the tannins, like a fire charred steak. Likewise, a sweet dessert requires a “sweeter” wine or the wine will appear simple and perhaps tasteless.  So effective pairing, with practice, can enable a person to make almost any wine taste good by serving a food that either masks the undesirable characteristics or enhances the preferred flavors.

 

Some of my favorite “no-brainer” food/wine pairings include Viognier and Crab, Sauvignon Blanc and Goat cheese, Steak (grilled) and Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Roasted Duck, Chardonnay and butter-dipped Lobster!

 

Still, there are exceptions and it’s always a personal preference.  There are also dozens of charts available, and I can argue for and against each of them.  Nonetheless, charts are valuable in the learning process, and while I could create a chart (or six!) myself, in the process I would include so many disclaimers and exceptions that readers would think I was schizophrenic.  So rather than reinvent the wheel, I’ve provided a few links to some websites that have handy charts.  Keep in mind this is not an endorsement, but merely a reference and more opinions!

http://www.chef-menus.com/food-and-wine.html

http://www.robertgoodmanwines.com/wine_food_chart.html

http://www.virginiawine.org/learn/wine-varieties

http://www.newjerseywines.com/winefood.html

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WINE BUYING STRATEGY

“How valuable is a wine rating… if you can’t find the wine?”

 

Fundamentally, there are two types of wine buying circumstances, “Pre-Meditated” and “Spontaneous”.  Pre-Meditated is easy because you go to the store well equipped with ratings in hand, or you called the store and asked them to order your favorite wine.  Also you might have gone on-line and viewed the wine list at a local restaurant, before making your reservation.

 

Spontaneous, on the other hand can get quite squirrelly!  You might be on vacation and stop in a local liquor store, or business brings you to an unfamiliar restaurant where in both cases the wine selection might be plentiful, but the familiarity is minimal.  In both these cases, your best bet is to be humble and hope that there is competent and honest staff.  If you have reasonable confidence that the you can trust the wine sales guy or the sommelier, then it is best to strike up a conversation, share your preferences (with specific examples… feel free to drop wine names!), but be sure to demonstratively support the ego of the person whose help you so desperately need.

 

In the unfortunate circumstance where you feel like the sales person is pointing you toward the Copper Metallic Ford Pinto, gracefully decline and resort to your knowledge and familiarity of producers and regions.

 

So, you ask, how does one gain such knowledge?  Like anything, it’s practice, but certainly easy enough to become competent to handle most circumstances. The easiest method is to identify a list of producers where year after year the wines, while perhaps being different, are never bad and perhaps always good or better.  For example, Mulderbosch and Ferari Carano consistently make great Sauvignon Blanc, so regardless of year, they are always a reasonably safe bet for that varietal.

 

Another method, not quite as easy nor as certain, is to learn the regions where you tend to like certain wines.  For example, almost every wine that comes from Howell Mountain is yummy, Russian River has a decent track record for Chardonnay and Alsace is consistently stellar for a variety of white wines.

 

While the latter method is a bit more involved and requires paying attention to what your drinking (and remembering what you like), the former method of “producer recognition” is more straight forward.  Of course, you can always ask The Wine Snob!

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