Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Helpful Wine Tips

“Cabernet Sauvignon is like a Black Labrador - it comes up and licks you.  Pinot Noir is more cerebral-it’s like a cat.”   -Attributed to Scott Rich, Moraga Vineyards -

Many Trader Joe's customers ask very good questions while visiting the wine section at our store.  This posting will address some of the more often asks along with my clever, witty replies.  Hope you enjoy.

                                                            Helpful Wine Tips

Storing an opened bottle.  People often ask me how to store an unfinished bottle of wine.  Having never experienced an unfinished bottle of wine, I had to do some research on this predicament so that I could pretend that such an occurrence had happened at least once and that I knew what to do.

White wine is easy.....just stick the cork or screw top back in (or on) the bottle and put it in the refrigerator.  It should last 4-5 days.  The wine air pumps have become popular but I find them unnecessary.  The wine tastes the same to me with either method, at least up to 4-5 days.  Longer than that, a pump may be an advantage.

Red wine has two options; if the wine will be consumed the next day, put the cork or cap back and leave it on your counter overnight.  Not only should it be drinkable the next day, but often, red wine actually improves because of “breathing” due to contact with air and the wine may soften overnight.  If the wine will not be consumed the next day, then put it in the refrigerator.  It will not soften as much as the previous option but it will last 2-3 days, usually.  After that length of time, the wine will slowly oxidize to a point that it becomes undesirable.

Removing a wine label:  Literally, this is a very HOT TIP.  Ever want to remove a label either because it is attractive or because it will help you remember a wine that you really enjoyed?  You don’t need to soak it for hours in the sink before trying to pull or scrape it off which often results in a cute little pile of label confetti.  First, fill the empty bottle with hot tap water and let it sit for two minutes. Next, empty the tap water and refill the bottle with boiling water and let it stand for 3-4 minutes.   Grab a corner of the label and gently pull. The label should easily peel off in one piece for your wine scrapbook.

Wine Serving Temperatures:  The proper temperature for serving wine will show off the particular characteristics of the varietal.  If served too cold, the flavors are hidden.  It’s like eating a frozen pizza while it’s still frozen.  If served too warm, the taste of the alcohol can be overbearing.  When serving red wines, “room temperature” really means “cellar temperature,” which is 55-60 degrees.

Red wines should be served between 60-64 degrees.
Ports - 55-58 degrees.
Rose’ - 55 degrees.
Viognier - 52 degrees.
Chardonnay - 48-50 degrees.
Riesling - 45-48 degrees.
Champagne - 45 degrees.

Okay, okay, how do you distinguish between 52 and 55 degrees without a wine thermometer?  I can’t.   Just chill your reds in the fridge for half an hour or so before serving and chill your whites in the fridge overnight (then let them warm in the glass) or put them in the freezer for an hour before serving.  Don’t over-chill chardonnay, though, as the aroma and taste is really dampened if too cold.  Maybe a wine thermometer is the way to go...

Needless to say, I also get numerous questions about food/wine pairings but I won't get into that as it's complicated and often personal to the wine consumer.

"Tom da Wine Guy"

“An alcoholic is someone you don’t like who drinks as much as you do.” -Anonymous-

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Trader Joe's Hot Tip on Two French Wines

Trader Joe's has two French wines that I just love.

(1)  Laurent Reverly 2010 Sancerre from the Loire Valley.  It's 100% Sauvignon Blanc and it's superb.  Lots of citrus but not as grapefruity as the New Zealand versions.  Personally, and this is just my humble opinion, but I think that Sancerre is the benchmark for Sauv Blancs.  At $12.99 a bottle, this is a lot less costly than my wife and I were paying on our last visit to France in October (wow, over two months ago).

(2)  G. Chevalier 2009 Sauternes.  This incredible dessert wine is rich with guava and apricot.  This 375ml bottle is $12.99 and worth every penny!  As soon as it came into our store I bought a bottle to take home and taste.  My wife and I finished the entire bottle before the night was over.  That means it was very good.  Again, it's very difficult to find a decent Sauternes for a mere $12.99.  Yes, I said "mere."

This Sauterne is from the Bordeaux region so the grape blend, while unspecified, will consist of Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, and probably a little Muscadelle.

For those of you who like the Hillgate Zinfandel from Lake County, it has returned to TJ's.  This 2010 vintage is not quite as good as the 2009 but still good enough at $6.99 a bottle for a case purchase...that means I like it.

Hope all of you have a great year in 2012 despite the Mayan Calendar!

Tom da Wine Guy