Question from Bill: What do you mean when you say that the wine is food friendly?
Reply: Hi, Bill. Thanks for writing. I know I use that phrase quite a bit. First, let me say that all wines are inherently food friendly because of their basic structure. High acid beverages – tart or crisp beverages that aren’t sugary – have a cleansing effect that makes them very food friendly. And, wine is higher in acid than just about any food you can imagine unless you like to snack on fresh lemons. So the thing not to do is worry about this. Besides – preferences are personal!
White wines are generally higher in acid than reds so they’re extremely versatile – it’s really hard to go wrong. So, yes, that means that if you prefer a glass of Pinot Grigio with your short ribs, go for it. Tastes fine, right? The wine still tastes like the wine and the food still tastes the same when you put them together. But, not so satisfying? The thing is, that some foods, like slow-cooked red meats, have so much flavor that, while the crisp white wine isn’t a miss-match it, somehow, doesn’t do the trick. Many of us prefer a wine of ample body to stand up to those substantial flavors and that usually means red wine. Continue reading
Got some wine left over from the weekend’s indulgences? It’s not too late to save it from spoiling – assuming you haven’t drunk the rest by now 😉 That’s the best method of all!
If you don’t have any inert gas
or a wine vacuum pump
on hand, there’s something you can do really easily to help keep the wine until next weekend or whenever: Pour it into a smaller bottle. The head space is the thing that makes your wine go down hill once it’s open so if you move the wine into a beer bottle or a half bottle, and it’s full to the top, you’re all set until next weekend. You can use the wine cork as a stopper – you may have to shave it down a bit. If it’s going to be several days before you finish the wine go ahead and put it in the fridge – bring it back to the right temperature when you’re ready to polish it off!How easy was that? Cheers!
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Question from Alex: What’s the difference between the grapes we eat and the grapes that make wine? Can you eat wine grapes?
Reply: Hi, Alex. Thanks for writing! As your question implies, wine grapes aren’t the same as the ones we buy at the grocery store. But, you can certainly eat wine grapes. If you visit a wine-growing region during harvest tasting the grapes is a must – they’re very sweet and delicious. The grapes we purchase at the produce counter are usually between 15 and 20% sugar. Grapes for wine (except sparkling wine) are harvested at between 20 and 30% sugar, most often between 21 and 28% – very, very sweet!
All grapes fall into the genus “Vitis”. Most of our favorite table grapes, like Flame Seedless or Concord, the species is lubrusca. So, they’re classified as Vitis lubrusca. If you like Muscadine grapes or wine, or Scuppernong, they’re categorized as Vitis rotundifolia. You can make wine from table grapes – Concord wines are out there – but we, as consumers, just don’t seem to like them very much. We seem to have a taste for wine that’s made from Vitis vinifera – wine grapes in every day parlance. Continue reading
Busy little yeasty beasties
In my post a few days ago about the correct order for serving different styles of wine I wrote very briefly about what the term “dry” means. I think it’s worth taking a little more time to dig deeper because our perception of dryness can differ from what the numbers indicate.
As I said, most of the world agrees that if the wine is about .5% sugar, no one can taste it. So, that, or less, is considered dry.
As a quick review, during the fermentation
, yeast consumes the sugar in the grape juice and, as it does, the sugar’s converted to heat, carbon-dioxide gas and alcohol. To make dry wine, the winemaker just lets the yeast run amok and use up every last bit of fermentable sugar. To make sweet wine there are various ways of intervening before the wine goes dry, such as chilling the wine, adding sulfur dioxide, adding alcohol… Or, let the wine go dry and add back grape juice.
But there are other things to consider when it comes to our perception, as opposed to the lab report. Fruitiness can trick our palates into detecting sugar that isn’t there. This is especially true with intensely fruity varieties such as Muscat or Viognier. It just takes practice to be able to differentiate – that is most of the time. I think we all still get fooled from time to time – I know I do. Continue reading