Look Inside The Bottle, Not On Top

Corks are a part of wine tradition that symbolize both experience and romanticism. But screw tops have long been associated with lower-class wines, being viewed as a “cheap” alternative to traditional corks. Its true that screw tops are cheaper than corks but they also hold some advantages and have very little impact on the quality of wine. [Read more...]

Keeping An Opened Bottle Of Wine

Once a bottle of wine is opened the process of oxidation begins. Oxidation is when oxygen in the air comes in contact with the wine and begins to eat away at the flavor and aroma of the wine. Over time, an opened bottle of wine will begin to go bad, but the process will turn a great tasting wine into a sour tasting wine with flavor notes that can at times make it unbearable to drink. [Read more...]

Sangria Recipe Can Turn Red Wine Into A Fiesta Treat

A great sangria recipe can result in a wonderful compliment to any hot or spicy food, ranging from chips and salsa at a party, or a detailed Mexican dish. A red wine sangria drink can also be a great way to serve a tasty red wine in a chilled, punch-like fashion for those outdoor fiestas.

A combination of red wine, fruit, liquors and other ingredients, sangria is an easy to make drink that could make you the party favorite. Use your favorite red wine when making this recipe but a traditional Spanish wine is often the best way to go. [Read more...]

Basic Wine Terms To Get Started

There seems to be a million terms to use when discussing wine and often times newcomers to the world of wine can become intimidated by these high-brow words.  While part of the fun in exploring wine is learning new ways to communicate to other wine enthusiasts, there are a few commonly used terms that all wine newbies should be familiar with.  Here are five wine terms that you should begin with when developing your lexicon of wine terminology.

ACIDITY: When discussing the acidity of a wine you are talking about the liveliness of the taste or the brightness it causes on your pallet.  Red wines tend to be less acidic while white wines commonly offer more of that crisp taste associated with acidity.

The best way to understand acidity is by asking yourself how much of a party is the wine having on your tongue?  The more “action” and crisp taste, the higher its acidity.

VARIETAL: Varietal addresses the grape that a wine is produced from.  Wines are named after a grape as long as it contains at least 75 percent of that particular grape.  When someone is asking about the varietal of the wine they are asking what type of grapes were used in producing the wine.  A varietal character refers to the specific taste of a particular grape.

BODY: The body of a wine is all about its consistency in your mouth and tactile impression on your tongue.  A heavy bodied wine will feel thicker and more syrup-like.  Light bodied wine is more smooth and thin in consistency.

VINTAGE: The term vintage is used to denote the year the grapes were harvested and fermented to produce the wine.  A wine’s vintage is its year.

CORKED: Sometimes people refer to a wine as corked and that doesn’t mean its been bottled.  A corked wine is one that has been tainted due to problems from a bad cork.  If someone says a wine has been corked its best to be left alone.

By using these wine terms as a foundation you will be well on your way to discussing wine like a pro.  However, never let a lack of understanding about a particular term get you down.  If someone uses a word you don’t know, ask them about it.  The better you understand the words and terms used in describing wine the better you will be at finding the wine you love.

Wine Levels Can Serve As a Warning

Wine levels can tell you a lot about the quality of a wine and are a characteristic that you should always pay attention to when buying wine.

Most young wines should come up just under the bottom of the cork when the bottle of wine is standing completely upright.  There are cases when the wine level may be more than an inch from the bottom of the cork as a handful of wineries level their wine differently, but you should find that the wine is at least a half inch from the cork.

The half inch rule is especially good for newer wines because as wines age they can commonly decline in level.  However, a drastic decline is not to be expected and most wines that are leveled off near the bottom of the neck should be inspected for defects to the bottle.  Low levels in the wine can be signs of leakage, evaporation and deterioration.

If you are looking at numerous bottle of the same wine it is a good idea to compare the levels on each to insure you purchase the one with the best quality.  At times a little bit of a low level might not be a horrible thing but if you are planning on aging your wine its especially best to avoid low leveled wines.

You will also want to inspect the bottle for noticeable cracks and leaks.  If you do find cracks, even very small ones, chose another bottle and inform the wine cashier of the crack you found.  By inspecting the level of the wine and the condition of the bottle you can help avoid picking that perfect bottle of wine only to later discover a defect that completely alters the taste.

Ordering Wine At a Restaurant Is Less Intimidating When You Know What To Look For

It can be an uncomfortable experience for a new wine drinker to order wine at a fancy restaurant but if you know what to look for and how to order it can be a fairly simple and fun experience.

Wine lists will be ordered by varietals or the growing region where the wine was produced.  Typically, the wine becomes more expensive as you go down the list.  This is because the lighter bodied wines will be at the top and the more fuller bodied wines towards the bottom.

Lots of people will glance at the wine menu first and often the server will ask you your drink order before they take you meal order.  However, its always best to pair wine with the meal you are having, so make sure you choose a meal before choosing a wine.  Take a look at the food menu and when you pick a dish that sounds great consult with the server on which wine would best pair with that meal.  Some restaurant menus will offer wine suggestions next to each meal on the menu.  There are many articles here on the Wine Fugitive that offer suggestions and advice for pairing wine but a simple rule of thumb is to pair heavy bodied wines with heavier foods and lighter bodied wines with lighter foods.

If you are eating with a group it can be best to order a bottle.  If you are asked to select the wine for the group you should select one white and one red wine so you can cover all the bases on your group’s tastes.

Don’t be afraid to ask your server for a suggestion, but give them clues to help you narrow down a choice.  Let them know what meal you plan to eat and ask about a specific wine so that they can see your general price range and not suggest a more expensive choice.  If you are not having a meal it can be best to let the server know what kind of body, acidity and taste you are looking for.

Once you order the wine, most servers will go through the traditional ritual of serving wine.  1) The server will bring out the unopened bottled for you to inspect the wine and insure it is what you ordered.  2) The server will next open the wine and give you the cork.  This is done so you can make sure the cork was not dried out or defected.  3) The server will then pour a small sample so that you may smell the wine followed by a simple taste-test.  4) Finally, you should give the server an approval or disapproval of the wine.

Shipping Wine Safely And Securely

Sending a bottle of wine to a friend or family member can be a great gift idea for birthdays and holidays, but what are the laws about shipping wine and whats the best method for sending that package to insure the wine arrives in ideal condition?

Wine shipping laws vary by state.  Some have outlawed it while others have complicated restrictions.  Its best to research the laws in your state and the one you seek to ship to but if you decide to ship wine in one of these outlawed states you need to understand that the responsibility lies with the sender, not the shipping agency.  In most cases, you could probably ship a bottle of wine without disclosing that information to the delivery service but if the bottle breaks while in transit you will be the one held responsible.

Some states will allow licensed wineries to ship directly to customers.  One option may be to order wine from a winery and put the gift recipient down as the mailing address.  This can also insure that the wine is properly packaged.

If you are going to ship wine yourself there are a few steps to follow to insure your wine arrives in the condition you bought it in.  Many wine retailers sell specific wine shipping boxes but if you lack access to these types of boxes here are a few tips for shipping wine safely.

It is a good idea to purchase a box with dividers if you plan to ship more than one bottle of wine.  Many packaging stores like the UPS Store and Kinko’s will sell cardboard boxes with dividers.  Wine bottles can be heavy, so make sure the bottom of the box is properly taped.  You don’t want the bottle to fall out while being carried.

Bubble rap is the best material for wrapping your wine bottles.  The best method is to wrap the bottle diagonally.  Use a healthy amount of packing tape when the bottle is completely covered with the bubble wrap and use shipping peanuts to fill in the empty spaces of the box.

You will also want to appropriately label the box as ‘fragile’ but its not a good idea to label it as containing wine.  You also want to make sure the wine is shipped in cool temperatures.  Many shipping agencies offer climate controlled shipping for an extra fee.

Lighter Reds Have a Place On The Summer Table

Photo Credit: Examiner.com

Warmer months can call for lighter wines but there are still many who prefer the body and depth of red wine when compared to white. However, there are many lighter red wines that can offer a great middle ground that will particularly pair well with many of the dishes on your summer menu.

As outdoor dinning grows in popularity and many meals are becoming harder to classify as either white or red, lighter red wines are catching on. A high level of acidity can bring meals to life and the smooth body will still give drinkers the supple mouth-feel they are after.

The region of Northern Italy and France offer a large selection of great lighter reds. Torrette, Bardolino and Petit Rouge are some of the most popular, offering a middle ground between the freshness of a white wine while providing some of the complexity of a red. [Read more...]

What To Look For When Buying Organic Wine

Going green has long been an American craze and its spilled over to the wine industry where many consumers are looking for organic wines in order to help Mother Earth.  If you are looking for organic wines, here are a few tips to consider to make sure you are being as eco-friendly as possible and not just falling for a slick marketing campaign. [Read more...]

Tips For Wine Festival Newbies

You’ve been experimenting with wine for the past few months, checking out wine blogs and learning the basics, but now your ready to take your new love on the road to a wine tasting or festival.  If you are a wine novice your first trip to such an event can be intimidating, but it doesn’t need to be.  Wine tastings should be fun social events for wine-enthusiasts of all levels, but if your a first-timer here are some tips to seem more like a pro. [Read more...]