3 Wine Myths Dispelled

screw cap wine

Last month, I talked about screw cap wines and how they’re perceived as being lower quality compared to wines sealed with a cork. Today, I want to dispel a few more myths.

Food pairing with red or white wine

Myth: White wines pair well with white meats and red wines with red meat.

Truth: Although the above can be true, it’s not always. When pairing food and wine, you have to consider other ingredients like spices, sauce, richness. Let’s take fish for example. If the sauce described on the menu is strong, you may want to consider a red that will match the flavour intensity.

Quality of inexpensive wine

Myth: If the wine (750 mL) is under $15, it must be not-so-great or at the very most, just drinkable.

Truth: Here in Canada, we pay a lot for decent wine compared to our neighbours down south and certainly compared to the rest of world. But that doesn’t mean we can’t get a good bottle at an affordable price (under $20). In fact, a wine that I bring to dinner parties where I know people don’t share the same appreciation for wine retails for around $12 here. A very good Malbec is about $12 here, too.

malbec

FYI – it’s a screw cap as well!

Aged wine

Myth: Wine gets better with age.

Truth: Most wines are meant to be consumed within a couple of years of bottling. Unless you have the right temperature control, and you’re aware of what an age-worthy wine is like, you’re better off opening that bottle you just got. In fact, it’s an educated guessing game for wine experts. Sometimes keeping it too long ruins the wine, sometimes it’s perfect, and sometimes after tasting the wine, you conclude that it could’ve seen some more time in the cellar.

I’m sure there are a more myths I can address. What have I missed? Is there anything you’re uncertain about? Please leave me a comment below.

At What Temperature to Serve Your Wine

Summer, please stay until at least late September! My favourite season in Vancouver just came and now it’s already the last few days of August. Wahhh!

The gradual change in temperature got me thinking about a topic my friend Jackie brought up (visit her site if you’re looking for beautiful gift baskets!). She enjoys a glass every now and then, but wouldn’t consider herself a wino. She’s unsure at what temperature to serve her wines. You too? Good thing you dropped by then.

summer and wine

The general rule is white, rosé, and sparkling wine are served chilled. Reds at room temperature. But here’s the problem. How cold is chilled? And room temperature varies by season and person! Also, you may not have known either that the recommended temperature even varies by wine type.

Ultimately, the best wines are enjoyed with the company of awesome friends, so whatevs if you’re off by a few or several degrees.

Without further ado, here’s what the wine experts recommend.

Red Wine Serving Temperature

Even though red wine is generally served at room temperature, there are some that benefit from being chilled slightly. In fact, if you’re just starting out and want to numb the boldness of reds a bit, put your bottle in the fridge and you’ll notice it’s easier to drink.

Light body reds like Valpolicella and Beaujoulais should be served at 13ºC (55ºF). For my new world bias friends, Gamay is a varietal you’d serve at around this temperature. Lightly chilled.

Medium/full bodied reds like Australian Shiraz, Red Burgundy, Bordeaux, and Cabernet Sauvignon are best served between 15 to 18ºC (59 to 56ºF). Room temperature.

Sparkling Wine Serving Temperature

Try to serve your bubbly well chilled between 6 to 10ºC (43 to 50ºF).

Sweet Wine Serving Temperature

Sweet as in late harvest or ice wines are best served well chilled, just slightly cooler than sparkling wine anywhere between 6 to 8ºC (43 to 45ºF).

White Wine Serving Temperature

Medium/full body, oaked whites like oaked Chardonnays and White Burgundy are great best served at not that much cooler than light body reds. Try to serve it between 10 to 13ºC (50 to 55ºF). Lightly chilled.

Light/medium body whites like Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand and Pinot Grigio should be served chilled at 7 to 10ºC (45 to 50ºF).

If you deviate from the above, don’t fret. They’re just guidelines to give you a better understanding of what works well. It’s not like we all carry thermometers around. Like I said before, to guarantee the wine is tasty, regardless of temperature, make sure you enjoy it in the company of great friends. I also find that it’s very tasty after a long day at work. Salud!

The truth about screw cap wines

Screw caps don’t have the greatest reputation. This past weekend, I was at a friend’s BBQ and she was drinking Shiraz. A cheap one, she told me. “What do you mean?” I asked. She said, “Oh, because of the screw cap.”

I was baffled. I should’ve asked to try the wine. At $18.99 a bottle at the BC Liquor Store (I googled it later), it certainly shouldn’t taste what a cheap $8-10 bottle tastes like.

Australian-Shiraz

Here’s the wine… Have you had it? If so, thoughts?

The bf, being a budding connoisseur himself and having tasted many good screw cap wines, including the La Stella rosé we had last week, pointed out that that doesn’t necessarily mean the wine isn’t good. He’s right. There are lots of good wine in screw cap bottles. Look at New Zealand. Wines from there are not cheap and more importantly, they’re tasty. And nearly every bottle there is sealed with a screw cap.

Screw Caps Should Get More Love

Corks are a centuries old tradition and wines that require aging before they reach their prime usually have corks. Some people believe that corks slowly allow a bit of oxygen in over time which helps the wine mature.

Screw caps, on the other hand, are impermeable. This is a good thing, though. Many of us aren’t wine collectors and screw cap wines aren’t meant for aging. In fact, the majority of wines, regardless of closure type, are best consumed young (within a year of bottling). And just because a bottle isn’t intended for aging doesn’t mean it doesn’t taste good. Simply enjoy it for what it is, a wine with lots of fresh fruit flavour.

Looking for more wine talk? Follow me on Instagram.

Blush vs Rose vs White Zinfandel

“I like White Zinfandel,” said the lady next to me, almost apologetically. I was on an Alaskan cruise and attended their wine tasting event, and she must’ve felt the need to explain herself, given they weren’t pouring any pink wines and she didn’t taste much of her wine.

Princess Cruises wine tasting event

I was on an Alaskan cruise sailing with Princess.

It was when she said that I was reminded how I asked Instagrammers a few weeks ago, “Any topics you would like to see covered for you wine lovers thirsty to learn some basics?” @superredgirl responded, “Have you done a post about blush vs rose vs white zin?” Not yet, but here it is!

The Difference

Blush and rosé wines mean the same thing. The pink colour is a result of the skin contact from black grapes (unless the wine is a blend of red and white wine, which is the cheapest way to make it). Note, White Zinfandel is a type of blush or rosé, made from the Zinfandel varietal.

Why not just call it one or the other?

Rosé originated in Provence, the south of France. When the US’ wine industry started growing in the 1970s and 80s, they made rosé with Zinfandel grapes and demand was so high, there weren’t enough grapes to meet it, so they started using other varietals. For some unknown reason, marketing it as a blush instead of rosé was more effective, so the term blush stuck. You may have noticed though, that it’s now trendy again to drink rosé.

Rose wine

This rosé from La Stella in the Okanagan is a salmon colour, made from predominately Cabernet Franc grapes. This needs to be consumed in the next few days. Just noticed the vintage date when taking this photo.

In the end…

Whether you call it blush or rosé, you can use them interchangeably. However, one can argue there could be a slight difference, kind of like Syrah and Shiraz. For Canadian and American wines, if the bottle says Syrah, it’s likely to be more earthy and reminiscent of the Old World. Whereas if you see Shiraz, it’s going to be more fruit forward, like what you’d find in Australia. Similarly, White Zins and blush labelled wines usually have a sweetness and are a paler pink. Rosés tend to be dry. Like what you’re reading? Follow me on Instagram for tidbits of wine talk and photos.

Wine Party

I put it on Facebook. Would anyone be interested in attending a wine party if I hosted? I got enough interest to have one and a couple weeks ago, 6 others and I tasted wines on a cool grey summer Vancouver afternoon at my place.

The focus of the day was varietal characteristics. Everyone emailed me what varietal they would be bringing (I requested no blends). We started off the party sniffing common aromas found in the wine we’d be tasting. I have a kit Le Nez Du Vin that has vials containing 54 of the most common scents you’d find in wines.

le nez du vin

Don’t know if you’ve ever come across blackcurrant? You can find the aroma in one of these vials.

The intention was to help guests with their descriptions when it came time to discussing smells and tastes. Most people enjoy wine, but pinpointing a wine’s characteristics and understanding what it is that makes a wine so-so or so fabulous! can be difficult. With understanding comes appreciation and with that comes even more enjoyment when you’re having a glass.

The blind tasting session was a hit!

How Guests Guessed

Fortunately, I had just enough ISO glasses for everyone to use. I got them to guess what the wine was through deduction. That’s how blind tasting works. You note the characteristics in what you see, smell and taste and you reason, well it’s this colour, so it could be this, this and this. But it can’t be this because I smell this, this, this and this, so that means it could be either this or this. I taste this, this, this and this. Eventually, through the process of elimination you come to a conclusion on what wine you think it is.

Wine Varietals Tasted

On the list of wines we tasted were: Red Burgundy (Pinot Noir from France), Zinfandel from California (we also pulled out another Zin I already had opened that was made with grapes fro a smaller to compare the two), Shiraz from Chile, Malbec from Argentina, Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile.

wine-party

After tasting our flight, we kept on talking wine, tasting and comparing.

Learning Points

Everyone had fun and took away at least one learning point that day. There were some general responses like learning about the typical characteristics of each wine and learning about which region produces the best wines for each varietal we tried. We tried a Shiraz from Chile and nobody guessed what it was. I have to admit, I never would’ve guessed it was a Shiraz either. It didn’t have the spiciness or black pepper. That’s when we started discussing what regions make what well, what they’re known for. That was the first time I tasted a Shiraz from Chile.

Some specific learning points:

  • it was neat to learn that Beaujoulais and Burgundy and Gamay and Pinot Noir are much the same grape [respectively].
  • it was fascinating that ‘old world’ wines would be earthier and ‘new world’ grapes more fruity.
  • wine really changes the taste of food (we tried wines with white cheddar, french bread, and chocolate)
  • the meaning of tannins (tannins is the coating you feel in your mouth, like when you drink black tea. It contributes to the structure of a wine)

Everyone also enjoyed that they got to taste different wines in one sitting in a relaxed environment. Hosting this was good for me. It got me talking about wine which is a good way for me to retain what I learn and I also learn more as I expose myself to more wines. So you want to learn more about wine? Have a wine party, and if you’re nearby, please invite me!

Why does this Cabernet Franc taste like a Pinot Noir?

Oh hey, how you doing? Thanks for dropping by. I know I’ve been MIA. There are several reasons aside from my day job that’s eating up a lot of my evenings lately, an injured cat who I love to bits, and I’ve been feeling sort of down and started doubting myself in this journey. I have news to share, but I’m going to wait a week or two before I do so.

It’s not Wednesday, but I feel it’s time to update the blog. Better late than never. Today, I want to talk about serving wine at the appropriate temperature.

The bf is really into Cabernet Franc lately, so he went out and bought this:

cabernet franc

The back label says: Our Cabernet Franc displays generous red fruit aromas of raspberry and blackberry. The palate is rich and full with bold fruit flavours and a smooth finish.

Inniskillin Cabernet FrancWhen I tasted this, I thought they mislabelled the bottle because the body was lighter like a Pinot Noir and it certainly had the red fruit characteristics like one. I couldn’t get past how light body it felt. But several minutes later, the wine in the glass warmed up and it started to feel more like a Cabernet Franc.

So what happened? Well, my place is an ice box right now and honestly, where we have our wine stored feels below 0 degrees Celcius most of the time. We served the wine too cold. If red wines are too cold, they taste thin and harsh as I had experienced with this.

Medium and full bodied red wines should be served at room temperature which is 15-18 degrees Celcius (59-64 degrees Farenheit). If it’s too warm, the flavours muddle.

Has this ever happened to you? Did you figure out what happened or did you finish the bottle too fast to even realize? 😉 Leave your comment below.

Omg, pour me some Port to help me study

Ah yes, another fortified wine. This time from Portugal. The last post on Sherry was way too long, especially to scan through, so I’m going to write in short sentences here. Four full days and five evenings left to study!

From where: 

Douro DOC located in north east Portugal. Grape growing area is found along the Douro River and its tributaries. The Douro runs from Spain through Portugal and to the Atlantic. Vila Nova de Gaia and Porto are the centre of the Port trade, with many of the wharehouses in the former.

There are three regions in the Douro DOC, Baixo Corgo, Cima Corgo and Douro Superior. Three vineyard design types: socalcos, patamares, vinha ao alta.

Climate:

Dry and continental. Threat of winter frost. Wetter in Porto but gets less rain further inland (1200 mm vs 400 mm). Shallow soil over schist bedrock.

Tawny Ports

Tawny Ports with Age Indication

Grapes:

Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Cao, Tinta Barroca, Touriga Franca.

How Port is Made:

Colour and tannin need to be extracted from the grape skin within 24 to 36 hours. A must cap forms during fermentation, which needs to be mixed in with the fermenting juice. There are three ways to do this: 1) Autovinifiers which are like the pump over method, 2) piston-plungers which press down the must and 3) robotic lagars that are covered in silicone simulate what was done traditionally in the past, that is, treading the grapes.

The wine is fortified with 77% grape spirit when it reaches 6 to 9% abv. The grape spirit is called aguardente. The ratio is 1 to 4 (spirit to wine). Fortification kills the yeast.

How it’s Matured:

The wine is brought to the wharehouses located in Regua, Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia where it’ll be aged in 550 litre wood casks called pipes. These are seasoned. Ruby style wines will be aged in stainless steel tanks. Duration of ageing depends on style.

Styles:

White

White grapes. Gold colour, low acid, honey, nut, off dry to sweet. Generally sold 2 to 3 years old. Grapes are Malvasia and Sercial.

Ruby – Ruby, Reserve, Late Bottle Vintage

Ruby – aged less than 3 years, sweet, deep colour, fruity. Drink right away.

Reserve Ruby – higher quality, from one or more vintages, matured in cask for up to 5 years. Full-body, richer fruit flavour, better alcohol integration than basic Ruby. No decanting necessary.

Late Bottle Vintage – Modern LBV: 4 to 6 years aged in cask, fined and filtered. Consume right away. No decanting necessary (it’s filtered). Bottled-Matured: 4 to 6 years aged in cask and 3 years in bottle. Tannic, complex fruit similar to Vintage Port. Needs decanting.

Tawny Port – Tawny, Reserve, Age Indication, Colheita

Tawny – paler and browner in colour. Bottled ready to drink and fully matured. Come from Baixo Corgo. White grapes may be blended in.

Reserve Tawny – 7 years aged in wood, complex, soft, smooth. Russet or tawny colour. Blend of wines from different villages.

Age Indication 10, 20, 30, over 40 years – average age. State year of bottling. No decanting necessary. Walnuts, coffee, chocolate, caramel, faded berry fruit.

Colheita – rare. From a single vintage and aged in 8 years minimum in wood. Label must state vintage, aged in cask and bottling date.

Vintage Port – Vintage, Single Quinta Vintage

Vintage – Bottled between 18 months and 3 years maturation no fining or filtering. Intended to be aged in bottle for years. Made with grapes from best vineyards.

Single Quinta Vintage – Made with grapes from a single quinta. Name of quinta appears on label.

Will be focusing on Champagne and other sparkling wines tomorrow and start on France. Post topic to be determined; there may be several in one day.