Follow these simple rules for
wine tasting. Hold the glass by the stem, not the bowl so you don't
heat up the wine. Start with dry wines and/or white wines first and move
on to the reds and sweeter wines. Stick your nose inside the wine
glass and take take several small sniffs (not one big one). Then take a
10 second break, swirl the wine in the glass and repeat the last step.
Check out the wine color in the light, and make sure the wine is clear
and not cloudy. Then take a small sip and swirl it around in your mouth,
and swallow (don't gulp). If you are tasting a large number of wines,
pour the rest out rather than swallowing it. Make sure you write down
the name of the wine and any comments or evaluations after each sample,
otherwise you will forget them!
Be Kind To Your Wine!
Please make sure to store your wine so that it
maintains it quality and taste. NEVER put ANY WINE in a hot trunk for
extended periods of time. If you plan to transport, buy or drink wine
when traveling, bring a cooler. Some of the newer coolers that can be
plugged into your car's electrical system work really well. Also, when
at home NEVER store your wine in a room that goes above 72 degrees F,
or in any room that is extremely dry. In these types of environment,
the cork can either dry out or is likely to "push" and your wine may
leak out altogether. Keep the wines away from sunlight and heat
exposure; store them in cool cellars, a wine fridge, and/or
temperature controlled rooms. Wide fluctuation in temperature will
damage the wine and the cork. Whenever possible, try to store white
wines at 45 to 55 degrees F and reds between 50 and 55 degrees F. Also,
since wine bottle leaks are sometimes unavoidable, never store your
wine in an area that may stain your carpets, rugs, furniture or other
If you have a case
of the "frizzies" don't despair! Sometimes you may open a bottle of
wine and notice that it fizzles like soda or a sparkling wine. This
often occurs in late spring or summer. If the bottle is already opened,
try to re-cork, put in the fridge for about 24 hours and then drink
it. If you don't have this option (e.g., if you need to drink it right
away), try to decant it into another container and let it "breath" for
about 10 minutes. This will often solve the problem. Some of the
largely available wine aerators work really well for this purpose,
especially for red wines. Likewise, If you notice that a bottle of
your favorite stored wine is starting to "push" the cork, simply try to
push the cork back in if you can. Then put the bottle in a cooler
environment like a temper controlled wine cooler, or the basement. As a
LAST resort to avoid losing the wine altogether, a normal refrigerator
will work. HOWEVER, if you put it in a normal fridge, you will need to
drink the wine as soon as possible. In this case, take it out about
an hour before you plan to drink it, and decant it as described above.
Serving our wines
a general rule, all of our wines are made to be drunk soon after
leaving our tasting room, or at least within six months after purchase.
Most of our red wines have already been aged for two years or more, and
our whites have been aged for about a year, so they are ready for
immediate use. There are a few exceptions to this rule. Wines
that are high in tannins often taste better with aging. We have found
that our Cab Franc, Cab Sauvignon, SR#3, Merlot, and Spectacullari will
improve with further aging if stored under the right conditions.
Even with these wines, I would suggest drinking them within a year of
purchase. If you do store our corked wines for more than a few months,
make sure to use a wine rack or at least keep them on their sides so
that the cork does not dry out. Although we do not currently use screw
caps, these types of closures DO NOT need to be stored on their sides.
As you may know, we are currently experimenting with the new ZORK
closures for some of our wines. We are currently using them for our
Coco Nostra, Pomegranate Splash, and Tutti Frutti. These wines DO NOT
need to be stored on their sides. In fact, they are BETTER STORED
UPRIGHT to prevent any possibility of leakage. Although our fruit wines
may last for several months without degrading, they are meant to be
drunk soon after purchase and there is no advantage to aging them. WE
SUGGEST THAT YOU PUT OUR FRUIT WINES IN A WINE COOLER AFTER PURCHASE, or in a room that is cool (below 65 degrees F), and away from sunlight. Please
note that any wine stored in temperatures above 70 degrees Fahrenheit,
or temperatures that fluctuate widely are at risk of spoiling. If you
are serious about aging your wines consider buying a wine cooling unit.
They are actually fairly inexpensive, and they will keep your wines at a
constant temperature. Also, most of them are very energy efficient.
As some of you already know, we try to keep our sulfites levels (S02) in all of our wines down to a minimum. This is another good reason
NOT to store our wines for any long periods of time. Most of customers
say that they can drink our red wines without getting a headache. To be honest, I'm not sure whether this is due to lower levels of SO2 or not. Dried fruits contain much higher levels of S02 than any red or white wine does. If you eat these without getting headaches, then SO2 in red wine is NOT the reason you get headaches. In fact red wines USUALLY contain less S02 than white wines.
careful how you transport your wine purchase. If possible, DO NOT PUT
ANY WINE IN THE TRUNK. Put it in an air conditioned section of the
car. If you buy and transport a lot of wine, consider buying a travel
cooler that you can plug into your 12 volt outlet. DO NOT let any wines
sit in a hot car or expose it to strong sunlight for an extended period
of time. Also, as a general rule, wine does not travel
well, so you should let it rest for a day or so before serving after
it’s been on the road. The same rule holds if you are
bringing some wine as a gift for a dinner party. In fact some people
prefer to bring the wine to the guest a day or so earlier if the plan is
to serve it with the meal. A general rule I follow is to bring one or more bottles of wine for the meal and one extra for the host.
possible, try to store your wine in a cool, dark area such as your
basement where the temperature ranges between 50 to 68 degrees year
round. Note that any temperature change should always be
gradual. Sudden temperature changes can reduce the quality of the wine.
This is why a kitchen is NOT a good place to store your wine. Also, the
refrigerator is typically NOT a good place to STORE wine because the
temperature is often too cold and also because the vibrations due to
cooling may hurt your wines. The exception here is for wines that you
plan to drink soon. The room where you store room should allow air to
circulate, and should not be either too dry or too humid. Optimal
humidity levels for storing wine are between 70 and 80 percent.
wines tends to vary depending on personal tastes. As a general rule, I
like to serve white wines at about 55 degrees, rose or sparkling wines
at about 50 degrees, full bodied reds at about 65 degrees and light or
fruity reds at about 55 to 60 degrees. However, on a really hot day,
it’s best to serve reds at a slightly lower temperature, and I also
prefer my “young” wines to be a bit more chilled. Cooler
temperatures will probably be better for most cheaper whites or reds.
Some people use the two hour rule if they forget to chill their whites
or if their reds are too cold. If your white wine is warm,
put it in the refrigerator for about two hours. If your red wine has
been in a refrigerator over night, let it sit out for two hours before
serving. Generally speaking refrigerators tend to cool
wine about 2 or 3 degrees every ten minutes, so you can estimate how
long you will need to keep your wine in there for a proper temperature.
Probably the best way to chill bottle of white wine is to put it in a
bucket of ice and water for about a half an hour.
Whites and rosés do not require any "breathing" time before serving. A
good rule of thumb for most reds is to let it breath for about a half
hour before serving, but very young and tannic wines may require longer
periods (up to two hours) in some cases. Here's a tip for our Port-style
dessert wines: put them in the freezer for two hours before serving!
long can you keep wine after opening it? This again tends to very
subjective, but both red and white wines can be kept for at least a few
days without any significant loss of flavor. Once a bottle of wine is
open and you don't drink the entire bottle, feel free to cap it and put
it in a regular refrigerator, or better yet, a wine cooling unit. If
you store it on its side, make sure it doesn't leak. Actually, once a
bottle of wine is opened, there is really no reason to store it on its
side. Our dessert wines usually will last much longer than our other
wines due to their higher alcohol level. Also, sweet wines tend to last
longer than dry wines after opening. We recommend that you use a wine
vacuum when you store your wine bottles after opening them. It is a very
useful and inexpensive accessory. These can be purchased in our tasting
room. If you routinely have a lot of wine left in a bottle after
opening it, ask us for our free used .375 liter bottles. You can the
pour the wine from the larger bottles to these smaller ones so there is
less air space. When in doubt, taste the wine before throwing it away.
Even if it no longer tastes that good, you can always use it for
REMEMBER: A WINE IS A TERRIBLE THING TO WASTE!
visitors sometimes ask us why some bottles have a punt or kick up on
the bottom of the bottle and why some do not. There are actually a
number of different explanations for this. One is that it makes the
bottle stronger and less likely to break. However, nowadays, because
these bottles use more glass, some wineries are starting to eliminate
bottles with punts in order to be more environmental friendly. The punt
also makes the bottle a little more resistant to tipping over, so it can
be a wine saver at times. Perhaps the most widely held theory of the
purpose of a punt is that it is designed to capture the sediment of wine
and make it less likely to be poured and drank. Some of you may be
wondering how this works given that aged wine bottles are usually stored
on their sides. When getting a bottle of wine from your cellar, it is a
good idea to get it out a few days before you want to serve it and let
it stand upright so that any sediment that collected on the side of the
bottle falls into the punt. If the wine does have a lot of sediment, it
is a good idea to decant it before serving. To do this, light a candle
so that its light shines through the wine as your are decanting it into
another container. As soon as you see the wine getting a bit cloudy from
the sediment, stop pouring it and discard whatever is left at the
bottom of the bottle. This can be both romantic and at the same time
make the wine taste better!
How Much Wine Do I Need?
you planning a party or other celebration and wonder how much wine you
need? Well of course, this depends on a lot of factors such as the
number of guests, how many of them drink alcohol, whether you are
serving dinner, will there be other drinks (alcohol and non-alcohol) and
so on. As a general rule, you can expect to get 5 servings from a
typical 750 ml bottle of wine. Figure on one drink per person per hour
pre-dinner. If you are serving dinner, add two more drinks. If you plan
on a late evening, add two more drinks. So for example, if you are
having a dinner party, and are meeting early and plan to stay late, get
one bottle of wine per person. I know this sounds like a lot, but it
really isn't. And if you have some wine left, well that's even better!
What about large groups such as a wedding? If you are using wine to
make a toast, get about 20 bottles per 100 people. If you are
supplying your own wine for the dinner, get one bottle of white and one
bottle of red per table of 8-10 persons.
Want to try something different?
about mulled wine? It's delicious! Here's our recipe. Add 750 ml of
Simple Red #1, one bottle of Big Apple, two lemons (or oranges or
limes), 10 cinnamon sticks, 12 whole cloves, 1/4 tsp ginger, 1/2 tsp
nutmeg, 1/4 tsp allspice. Mix it altogether and heat it (don't let it
boil) in a slow cooker or microwave. Sweeten to taste.
Fill a chocolate dessertcup
just a few drops of Hershey Chocolate syrup; add about 1/4 to 1/2 ounce
of Coco Nostra; add a cherry and whipped cream and sprinkle with a bit of
grounded red cayenne pepper. We have a limited number of these chocolate
desert cups at our tasting room. Please call us first.
People often ask me what the difference is between wine and
Port or similar wines. In a
nutshell, port and similar wines like sherry, vermouth and Marsala were developed hundreds of years ago in
order to help preserve them during the long ship voyages to the “new
world”. Most of these wines are
fortified with a neutral tasting brandy which is why their alcohol percentage
is typically between 16% to 20%, as opposed to a normal (unfortified) wine, which may be
between 10% and 14% alcohol by volume. In Europe, by law fortified wines must have at least
17.5% alcohol. In the US, many of
these wines are referred to as dessert wines, because they are often sweet and
typically used after dinner.
Because of various trade treaties between the US and Europe
such as the Protected designation of origin (PDO), US wineries are not allowed to use the terms such as Port or Sherry,
unless they were using such names before the most recent trade agreement. Thus,
Port must come from the Douro Valley in Portugal, and Sherry must come from a
region of Spain near Jerez.
If we take Port as an example, it is usually red and sweet,
but it can also be dry or even white.
The difference between a sweet or dry fortified wine typically relates
to when the higher alcohol brandy is added to the wine. For example, if the
brandy is added before a full sugar fermentation has been completed, then the resulting wine will be sweet
because higher levels of alcohol
will kill the yeast that normally will convert sugar to alcohol. The sugar that
is left will make the wine taste sweet. Typically, yeast will die when the alcohol level
reaches 12 to 13%, which is why most everyday wines have this level of alcohol.
If the brandy is added after sugar fermentation is complete, then the resulting
wine will be dry because almost all of the sugar will have been converted.
Often, Port-style wines are also aged for many years which has a similar
increase in alcohol. For example, a wine aged in a barrel for may years
will lose a lot of its water content, and thus the remaining wine will have a
higher alcohol content. Because we can now produce yeast that is very more
resistant to alcohol than the older varieties, we can make normal wines that are much higher in alcohol
content than previous wines, as well as Port-style wines without adding spirits
such as brandy. In the this case,
additional sugar is added after the previous sugar content has been converted, and
the alcohol level is slowly raised in this manner.
Other wines that are similar to Port are Marsalla, which
comes from Sicily (Italy), and Vermouth, which also comes from Italy but is
different from the others wine discussed so far because it has herbs and spices
such as cinnamon, wormwood or other ingredients which may be trade secrets. Another wine similar to Port is called Madeira. This wine shares a
similar history as Port in that it was often shipped to the new world. On such voyages, which often exposed
the wine to very high temperatures and oxygen, the way the wine tasted often
changed dramatically. Some people decided that they liked this change, and
thus, this wine was later produced
by intentionally raising its temperature to about 140 degrees
Fahrenheit, and exposing to higher levels of Oxygen. Because of the higher sugar and or alcohol content of these
types of wines, they may be stored, even after being opened and used for many months if
not years without a significant decrease in quality.