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 Money Saving Tips for Ordering Wine at Restaurants

We all love to eat out, but that doesn’t mean we have to loose our shirts when it comes to the liquid refreshment part of the evening…

The next time you’re staring down the business end of a wine list, follow these 5 money saving tips and you’re sure to have a few bucks left over in your pocket for dessert.

Play your cards right and there may even be a cheese plate in your future? That’s right, I said “cheese plate” baby!

TIP # 1. Pass on glass

Typically, restaurants price their single glasses high enough to cover the entire cost of a bottle! Does $12-$14 ring a bell? Yes, it’s a business not a charity, but what’s not acceptable is being served old wine that’s been sitting around way too long (happens all the time) and to that we have 1 word: “Booh!” If the idea of buying an entire bottle is a bit daunting, go with a ½ bottle, or carafe. Do the math, it’s worth it!

TIP # 2. Say No, to the second cheapest

Hey, we all know NOT to buy the cheapest wine on the list. But, guess what? Restaurants do too, so they pick and price wines at the second cheapest level with higher profit margins for them because that’s where the money is. Think twice before automatically going for the second cheapest, it’s likely not the best value on the list.

TIP # 3. We’re not drinking $%# Chardonnay!

Chardonnay is arguably America’s favorite wine. It’s easy to drink, versatile and comfortable, like an old shoe. It is for these very reasons that Chardonnay tends to be overpriced on most wine lists. Word to the wise, think twice before ordering that Chardonnay, take a minute to step out of your comfort zone and try something new! Preferably from a country, or region you’ve never tried before.

TIP # 4. B.Y.O.B

Make sure you check with the restaurant in advance to figure out if they even allow this and do inquire about the corkage fee. In some States, this practice may even be illegal, so do your homework. If all systems are a go, it’s a great way to enjoy your favorite wine, or two at a restaurant. PS. Make sure you offer a glass to the sommelier, owner, or chef as a gesture of good will!

TIP # 5. Pay tribute to the house

In the US, house wines are typically avoided, largely due to quality perceptions (almost the opposite to the way our friends in Europe roll). In reality, house wines are normally great deals and in most cases, pretty fun and delightful. If you’re dinning at a restaurant that takes pride in their wine list, it’s likely their house wine is a good deal and a fine choice. Make sure you go for a bottle or carafe if you do!

5 Easy Tips to Help You Pair Food with Wine

Ever ate something really spicy then washed it down with a nice warm Coke?

I can still painfully remember my first childhood food and drink pairing lesson. Hmm…guess this explains why I hated Chemistry.

Flash forward…

In reality, not everything goes well together, regardless of how much you might love it!

Making an unwise food and drink pairing decision will impact the overall taste and flavor experience of your meal.

This being said, who am I to tell you which wine to pair with your meal?? Drink what you like, when you like, is probably the first lesson you’ll learn from anyone that knows anything about wine. Can’t say I disagree, but like with anything in life, a few common sense guidelines never hurt. Hey, it’s why we don’t wear our pajamas to work…right? Right?

SO HELP ME ALREADY?!

Firstly, start thinking about wine like food…

Still with me?

Enter Acids and Tannins…

What are Acids?

Acids are important components of winemaking that influence: color, balance, taste and preservation. They add sharpness to a wine’s flavor and can be described as that prickly, mouthwatering sensation you feel on your tongue whenever you drink wine. Kinda zingy and tart, like sucking on lemon, or lime.

A wine with too much acidity will taste excessively sour and sharp. A wine with too little acidity will taste flabby and flat, with less defined flavor.

What are Tannins?

In winemaking, tannins are natural chemical compounds found in grape skins, stems, seeds and even the wine barrel itself, particularly if it’s a new one. Tannins affect the color, texture, structure and preservation of a wine. How can you identify them? Think that pleasantly bitter, drying, puckering feeling that rolls down the middle of your tongue almost coating your mouth when you drink wine. Similar in sensation to what you experience when drinking tea that’s been steeped for way too long.

WHY SHOULD I CARE ABOUT TANNINS AND ACIDS IN WINE PAIRING?

Pairing Tip #1: Acids love Acid

When it comes to pairing, try the ‘Acids love acid’ theory as a first rule of thumb. If you think a squeeze of lemon, or lime would take a dish to the next level i.e. Roasted snapper – it’s very likely that dish will pair well with a wine that is more on the acidic side. Again, acids love acid.

Pairing Tip #2: Tannins love fat

As a second rule of thumb, try the ‘Tannins love fat’ theory. If a dish has some fat i.e. Rib-eye steak, it’s very likely it will pair well with a wine that is more on the tannic side. Why? Because fats help balance and soften tannins. Easy right?

So, if you’ve got fat – pair with wines that have higher tannic levels!

Want more?

Here are some other great pairing rules of thumb!

OTHER PAIRING RULES OF THUMB

Pairing Tip #3: Dominant Flavor is King

Whites with fish; reds with meat? We’ve all heard this at some point. It’s not a great tip. Why? Because we rarely just eat meat, or fish without some form of preparation: sauces, stews, stir-fries, casseroles etc…You need to factor in the overall dominant flavor of the dish as a whole, and not just it’s main meat, or vegetable component.

Pairing Tip #4: Spicy loves Sugar

For anyone that knows food and loves to cook, this one is a bit of a no-brainer. When something is spicy, we can temper and mellow those flames with sugar. Same principle would apply to wine pairing. Go for a slightly sweeter wine with those hot and spicy dishes.

Pairing Tip #5: Sweet loves Sweeter

Lastly, when it comes to deserts, which are generally sweet, go for a wine that is even sweeter. It will greatly enhance the richness and flavor of the dish and the wine!

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