Tag Archives: nancy hawks miller

What is Dry Wine?

no sugar

I was checking search data on the blog, hoping to find out what it is that you really want to know. The top search over the last several months is on “Moscato.” I’ve got a post on that coming right up.

What came in second? “What is dry wine?”

Okee dokee. That’s a pretty good question because it’s not cut and dried – pun intended 😉 – dryness is relative.

While, in the rest of the world dry is the opposite of wet, in the wine world dry is the opposite of sweet. I’ve noticed that a lot of folks who want to appear sophisticated about wine make a point of saying that they don’t drink the sweet stuff. Well, let me tell you, they’re missing out on a whole lot of fun because some of the most exquisite and sought-after wines in the world are sweet wines done right! Continue reading

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Decanting Wine as Entertainment

Did you know that decanting the wine is a form of entertainment here in the Napa Valley? Given that we don’t have much to talk about around here but wine and food – and food and wine – it shouldn’t be too surprising 😉

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July 6, 2013 · 7:53 pm

Selecting Low-Acid Wine

bottles on shelf

Question from John: My wife and I enjoy wine but increasingly she is effected by high acid. Are there any specific brands that you would suggest that are low acid taste good reasonably priced? Both red and white? Thanks for your help.

Reply: Hi, John. Thanks for writing. I’m afraid that wine is acidic by nature. Virtually all of the world’s wines fall between 2.8 and 4.0 on the pH scale.

Pardon my digression, here, for those unfamiliar: On the pH scale, zero is acid (battery acid), seven is neutral (water) and 14 is alkaline (lye, Drano). W

Whites are most often between 2.8 and 3.6 and reds between 3.3 and 4.0. The higher the pH the more bacteria-friendly the environment, meaning an increased risk of spoilage, so this is simple reality for winemakers. Above 3.8 and color stability is compromised. Plus, of course, the wine tastes better when the acid is balanced.

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Whites Get Deeper, Reds Lighten Up

It’s a wine oddity. As white wine ages it deepens in color, while reds actually lighten up. Here’s a brief explanation:

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Cluster Thinning in the Vineyard

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Napa Valley came through flowering quite nicely this year, thank you very much, and the crop is looking good.

Vineyard managers should have finished up with springtime shoot thinning by now – a way of keeping the vine in balance. And, now that we have cute little baby grape clusters hanging, it’s time to take a close look.

Believe it or not, part of managing a crop destined for fine wine production (as opposed to most wine) is counting the clusters. Yes, literally.

After the lovely weather we had during flowering (rain, hail, high winds and extreme heat can cause problems) there’s a very good chance that there are bonus, unexpected clusters out there. Unfortunately, for fine wine, more isn’t better.

If there are far more than expected there’s a chance those grapes will never get ripe, but in our climate, that’s rarely the concern. It’s just that if you add a few extra clusters per vine, the flavors can become diluted. This stuff isn’t regulated but It’s really hard to get $40.00+ for a bottle of Cab that’s kind of thin and lackluster.

Or, it could be that you see a kind of short, wimpy looking shoot in there with 3 clusters on it. There’s no way there are enough leaves on that shoot to bring three clusters to maturity. Better to go with one or two clusters, depending upon just how wimpy…

So it’s quite common to see tiny little clusters scattered on the ground around the vine rows this time of year in Napa Valley.

Shoot, leaf and cluster thinning are ongoing activities that begin in April and can continue almost up to harvest time, depending upon how things shape up. Vineyard management has become almost like gardening!

Next big event: veraison – when the grapes turn color, probably late next month.

Anybody out there making plans to visit wine country and see any of this stuff up close and personal?

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Malbec is French!

At a tasting the other day, when the host referred to Malbec as a Bordeaux variety the guy sitting  next to me said “I thought Malbec is from Argentina.” And, well you might think, since Argentina has truly made this grape their own. Here’s the story in brief:

What’s your favorite Malbec? Got any great values for us to try? C’mon! Let us know!

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Grape Flowering 2013 in Napa Valley

Grapeflower_chard

Flowering’s wrapping up here in Napa Valley. See those tiny white, protrusions? They represent the potential crop yield this year for the 2013 vintage.

Perhaps you’re underwhelmed by the beauty of the grape flower. True, true – they’re not exactly roses, are they? You have to get up very close to even see or smell them. From a distance they just look kind of fuzzy.

Nevertheless, even as we speak the last of the flower petals are shedding their delicate caps to open up, liberating the pollen to fertilize the waiting ovules! Good, gracious me – I think I need a sip of wine!

And, all of that happens without the help of bees or other insects. Believe it or not, those little bitty things contain the pollen-bearing stamen and the ovaries. How convenient! All we have to worry about is the weather. Everything else is taken care of as long as the weather’s good. You could put a paper bag over those flower clusters and they’d still produce a crop! Continue reading

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Micro-Oxygenation for Wine

Have you heard of “micro-ox?” Many believe it’s a viable replacement for barrel aging the wine.

How do you feel about new innovations replacing the traditional methods?

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What is a Meritage Wine?

Dear readers,

Once again, I have to ask you to bear with me. The good new is that my husband is doing much better. Yipee!

The bad news is that I need to move this blog away from Posterous to WordPress and I’m not very good at it. Posterous was founded by my friend Sachin Agarwal. About a year ago Twitter acquired Posterous – how about that for an exciting event in one’s life??!! Way to go, Sachin!

Twitter has decided to close down Posterous and this is why I’m moving my blog. Please pardon me if it takes me awhile to make the move and get well situated on WordPress.

In the meantime, how do you say Meritage? And what is it?

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A Five Dollar Cab or a Fifty?

Steve wrote in to ask why one Cabernet Sauvignon wine sells for $5.00 and another for $50.00. What makes the difference? This is a complex quesion but here goes:

Does the $50.00 wine give you ten times more pleasure?

My husband is home! He’s still very weak but it’s great to have him home again. Thanks, again, for your patience with the spotty posts and for all the good wishes. I’ll try to get back to postinig regularly again.

Visit A Million Cooks for more brief videos from experts on the food you eat: Where it comes from, where to buy it and how to prepare it.

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