5 Tips For Preserving Left Over Wine

Alright, I’ll admit, I have found myself facing this predicament once, or twice in my storied wine drinking career (shame on me!)

 

However, with the help of a few resourceful wine preservation tips, ye olde drinking pride was quickly restored and those few remaining glasses finished up in good form with head held high the following evening!

So, let’s begin at the root of the problem. What is it that turns great wine into vinegar literally overnight? Yep, you guessed it! Our good friend, Air…

Air is beneficial to most wines when first opened (see our post on Getting The Most Out Of That Next Bottle)

However it can quickly change sides in a day, or two becoming your open bottle’s worst nightmare!

But, fear not my friends because…

Just follow a few of our wine preservation tips and you’ll soon be master of your very own wine domain quicker than you can say “malolactic fermentation”…

Tip 1: Keep and reuse the original cork, or screwcap

If you haven’t invested in a wine preservation gadget, your bottle’s cork, or screwcap is probably the best ‘re-corking’ option you’ve got.

Of course, if the cork, or screwcap is destroyed when opening (Houston we have a problem!) this tip is a no-go. So, be mindful and gentle with that corkscrew or twist!

Tip 2: Decant ½ the bottle and place the remainder into the refrigerator 

Know your limits (who are we kidding?) If you know you’re not going to finish an entire bottle in one sitting, immediately pour off and decant ½ of it for now, then gently replace the cork, or screwcap on the remaining ½ (still in the bottle) and place it in the refrigerator for later.

Tip 3: Stand the bottle up in a cool, dark place

Counter tops are generally too warm, especially if you live in a city like our hometown of Miami. As mentioned in Tip 2, the fridge is ideal – just don’t freeze your wine! About 55 degrees is just right for storage. Why standing up? Because now that air has been introduced, the wine may become tainted from the cork. Also, it’s just common sense – you have an open bottle half filled with liquid – why would you store it sideways and risk it spilling out?

Tip 4: Invest in a Wine preservation device 

You want more firepower and guaranteed reusability, most definitely invest a few bucks in a wine preservation device.

Generally these devices work on 2 basic principles:

1. Removing air in the bottle to leave a vacuum

2. Putting an inert gas (usually nitrogen with a little carbon dioxide) onto the surface of the wine

I personally recommend the air removal/vacuum devices. Have used a few and always get great results. They’re quick, clean, easy to use and more cost effective than the gas options.

Tip 5: Share truly grand bottle in one sitting

If you’re lucky enough to own a truly grand, or rare bottle and the occasion is right, there is no question, the best preservation method upon opening is to have no preservation method.

Just drink that bad boy down! Highly recommend inviting a few good friends over to share! Of course, I can always be made available with advanced notice.

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5 Tips for Finding Great Wine on a Budget

The US wine market is literally overflowing with great product. A buyer’s paradise, where tremendous value can be had, especially if you know where and how to look and aren’t shy about asking for a great deal!

The following 5 tips should earn you value-hound status before you can say “Charge it!” Just make sure you have enough room in your home for all the sweet deals you’re gonna sniff out!

TIP #1 – SECOND LABELS

Most premier wine makers have what they call second labels. The idea is similar in concept to clothing designer second labels i.e. Armani / Armani Exchange.

The big difference however, is that these premier winemakers produce these second labels themselves, applying the same winemaking principles, methods and quality assurance that went into their premier first-label wines, whereas in the fashion industry second labels are likely farmed out under lesser production standards to other manufactures in favor of quantity not quality.

The upshot for us, the consumer, is an excellent wine at an affordable price. Great deals and quality wines can be had from second labels such as 90 + Cellars (buying surplus wines from anonymous premier wineries and in turn rebranding them), Allegrini Palazzo della Torre (second label for Allegrini Amarone Classico, Catena Malbec (second label for Catena Malbec Adrianna)

TIP #2 – SHOP AT WAREHOUSE CLUBS

 I love warehouse clubs, like Costco. They’re are always great deals to be had and some interesting varietals from all over the world. Granted, the individual selection may not be as vast as a large retail wine store, but the deals available certainly make up for it! Don’t have a membership? No problem, go with a friend as a guest.

TIP #3 – TAKE ADVANTAGE OF RETAIL SALES

Most large retailers designate a day per week, or month to place certain inventory on sale. Here you could grab savings of 15% per bottle if the pickings are good.

TIP #4 – SEEK OUT BIN END SELECTIONS

Bin end selections are generally bottles of wine that a retailer was not able to sell. Now this doesn’t mean that these wines are no good, it could be anything, from a damaged label, to the arrival of a new vintage. Generally, always a great find! If it’s not prominently displayed in a store – ask!

TIP #5 BUY BY THE CASE AND NOT THE BOTTLE

May sound a bit daunting if you’ve never done this, but do the math and you’ll see that it just makes sense – particularly if you’re a weekly wine drinker.

Most wine retailers will even let you mix the case (can’t beat that for variety). Generally, going by the case as opposed to the bottle will save you around 10-15%. If a retailer is not offering a discount on a case, don’t by shy – ask for it!

Top 4 Wine Myths vs. Reality

Myth 1: Older wines are always better than newer wines?

Reality Check:

Maybe when Ike was president, but not today. Most wines these days are made to be consumed and enjoyed within 1-2 years of their release date.

Myth 2: Sulfites in red wine cause headaches

Reality Check:

Survey says…Not true! Sulfites can cause allergy and asthma symptoms, but most doctors will attest that they do not cause headaches. In fact, most wines contain sulfites, particularly the sweeter ones, which actually have more sulfites than reds. By comparison, dried fruits i.e. raisins and processed foods i.e. lunchmeat, have more sulfites than red wines – so, if you can eat a hot dog without falling on the floor in agony, you’re probably not allergic to sulfites.

Myth 3: Only cheaper wines use screwtops?

Reality Check:

On the contrary, many leading wine producers have started to use screwtops on their best and most expensive vintages. Why? Because screwtops provide the most consistent and reliable seal for a wine, prior to opening, and help eliminate “corked” and oxidation problems. It’s actually not uncommon for some leading winemakers to mix-it-up and split the bottling of their top vintages between corks and screwtops.

Myth 4: Red wine must be drank at room temperature and never chilled?

Reality Check:

As we’re all well aware, room temperature is different all over the world. Hotter in some places, colder in others. How could this be true? In reality, red wines are at their best at temperatures ranging from 58 F to 65 F depending on their varietal. If you happen to live in a part of the world where room temperature is within this range, then you’re golden! Otherwise, it’s perfectly acceptable to either warm up your reds, or chill them a bit, to get them within the right temperature range to enjoy them at their best!

4 Tips To Help You Get The Most Out Of Your Next Bottle of Wine

Can’t seem to catch a break when you buy a bottle of wine? Tired of your friends and passer-by sommeliers making fun of you because you just can’t seem to pick a winner?

Maybe you’re choosing great wines, but just not serving them the right way?

Here are 4 tips to help you get the most out of that next bottle:

1. TEMPERATURE

Wines can be fussy and temperamental on a good day and need to be at the right temperature to be at their best. The temp you serve them at will affect their overall aroma, taste and perceived freshness.

Wines served too warm can taste unbalanced, flat and highly alcoholic. Wines served too cold can be considerably muted in flavor and aroma.

Quick tips:

  1. When drinking wines that need to be kept warmer, try cupping your hands around the body of the glass as your swirl
  2. When drinking wines that need to be kept cooler, always hold the glass by the stem to avoid warming them up too quickly

Below are suggested temperature ranges for wines by type:
Tart, bright white wines: 48-53 °F
Rich white wines, like an aged Chardonnay: 54-58 °F
Light red wines: 58-62 °F
Heavy red wines: 63-65 °F

2.  AIR

Wines are typically always improved with the introduction of air. It helps open up and release its flavors and aromas.

Quick tips:

Don’t just remove a cork/cap and let it sit in the bottle without pouring any of it out. You need increased surface area to properly induce air. If you want to leave it in the bottle to aerate that’s fine, just make sure you pour out about ½ of it to create some room in there for the wine to breathe

You don’t need a fancy decanter, or aeration/pouring device to add air to your wine. A simple glass container, pitcher, jar etc to pour it into will do just fine. Again the key is increased surface area to allow more air to make contact with your wine

A good general rule of thumb: the more tannins a wine has the more time it will need to aerate. Lighter-bodied reds have lower tannin levels so will need little if any time to breathe. Young wines with strong tannins will need more time to breathe. We like to let most wines sit for 10-15 minutes before drinking

3.  GLASS

We’re certainly not one’s for formality, heck, drink it straight from the bottle if that’s your style, but here’s why a great glass can make a difference:

Shape  The shape of a wine glass dictates surface area which influences the amount of air that can be introduced into a wine. Air affects the overall flavor, aroma and presentation that you experience

Rim  The shape and thickness of the rim can also play a part in your experience, directing the wine to specific parts of the tongue with different taste sensitivities

Diameter  The diameter of the glass opening can concentrate or expand the amount of aroma or bouquet that rises

 Quick tips:

  1. Go big if you can (20 ounces or more) – A large bowl gives that small pour plenty of room to breathe. Plus you want lots of room to swish and swirl
  2. Pick clear glass – You want to see the wine and excite all your senses. A thin glass is better than thick glass: you want to taste the wine not the glass and thick stemware can get heavy
  3. Long stem – Comfort is important and maximizes enjoyment
  4. Slight inward curve at the top – Helps to focus the aromas

Second Label Wines – Excellence and Value

Hey, being second ain’t so bad? The Godfather part 2, The Dark Knight, Nirvana’s Nevermind, Clay Aiken (Ok, you got me)

Most premier wine makers have what they call second labels. The idea is similar in concept to clothing designer second labels i.e. Armani / Armani Exchange.

The upshot for us, the consumer, is an excellent wine at an affordable price.

WHAT IS A SECOND LABEL WINE?

Second wine, or Second label wine (Second Vin) is a term commonly used to refer to wine made from cuvee not selected for use in the Grand Vin, or first label. An age-old practice traditionally associated with Bordeaux wines, though common all over the world today.

WHY SHOULD I CARE?

Typically only premier winemakers have second label wine offerings. In most instances, the production of a second label wine exactly mirrors the production of that estate’s Grand Vin, being made from the same vineyard, using the same blend of grapes, by the same winemaker. You can usually pick one of these gems up for around $20-$50.

SO WHAT’S THE CATCH?

Generally, second label wines are less polished and structured than the estate’s Grand Vin. Sometimes they’re from less-desirable vineyard blocks, use less-expensive or used barrels (or alternatives to barrels) and cheaper bottles, corks and labels. Most typically are made from the fruit that didn’t make the winemaker’s highest standards set for the Grand Vin.

Some premier winemaking estates may not even promote their second label wines. In some cases the parent estate is not even mentioned on the labels.

SOME NOTABLE SECOND LABELS

  1. Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi
  2. Meridian by Beringer
  3. Overture by Opus One
  4. Mouton Cadet by Chateau Mouton Rothschild
  5. Carruades de Lafite-Rothschild By Chateau Lafite-Rothschild