Wine is an alcoholic beverage made from the fermentation of unmodified grape juice. The natural chemical balance of grapes is such that they ferment completely without the addition of sugars, acids, enzymes or other nutrients. Although other fruits like apples and berries can also be fermented, the resultant "wines" are normally named after the fruit (for example, apple wine or elderberry wine) and are generically known as fruit or country wine. The word "wine" derives from the Proto-Germanic winam, an early borrowing from the Latin vinum, "wine" or "(grape) vine", itself derived from the Proto-Indo-European stem win-o- (cf. Ancient Greek oînos). Similar words for wine or grapes are found in the Semitic languages and in Georgian (gvino), and the term is considered an ancient wanderwort.
OPENING A WINE BOTTLE.
There are plenty of corkscrews loaded with bells and whistles out there, but don't fall for them: A simple, classic waiter's corkscrew - the type used in most restaurants - is really all you need. Here's how to use it properly.
Using the corkscrew’s knife (or a serrated knife), cut around the top of the bottle, right under the lip—turning the bottle as you go—to remove the foil.
Position the corkscrew in the center of the cork and twist in the spiral, turning it clockwise. Don’t twist it entirely into the cork—leave a bit of the spiral (the equivalent of one twist) showing. Place the corkscrew’s first bottle rest onto the lip of the bottle, and lift up the handle to pull the cork halfway out. Then place the corkscrew’s second bottle rest on the lip of the bottle, and pull again until the cork is almost—but not quite—out.
At this point, the cork should be loosened enough that you can work it out of the bottle with your fingers.
POURING A WINE BOTTLE.
Learning how to properly present and pour from a bottle of wine can help you impress your dinner guests, or, more likely, land a restaurant job waiting tables. Either way, it never hurts to have exquisite manners. First, use a clean cloth napkin to wipe the mouth of the opened bottle, cleaning it of any cork dust or debris. Cradle the bottle in one hand, and display the label to your fellow drinkers so they can see the maker, type, and year. If you are a waiter, display the bottle and label directly to the person who ordered it. Bring the mouth of the bottle just above the rim of the glass, and pour. Only fill the glass about a third of the way up. As you finish your pour, twist the bottle as you lift it away from the glass to prevent dripping and wipe the top of the bottle with the clean cloth napkin. Place unfinished white wine bottles in a wine bucket with ice to keep them cool. If you are a waiter, be sure to ask if the guests would prefer the bottle of white on the table.
READING WINE LABELS
Wine labels have a lot of information on them. Here’s a quick guide to help you know what matters, how to spot a bargain, and what to ignore.
Some Wines are Labeled by Grape Variety
When you see a wine labeled with “grape” words like Cabernet Sauvignon or Albariño, then it’s labeled by grape variety. There are hundreds (actually, thousands) of different wine varieties and it’s possible to label a wine with more than one grape.
Wine labeled by variety doesn’t guarantee that the wine is 100% of the listed variety. Each country has their own set of minimum requirements to label wine by variety (Surprisingly, the United States has the lowest!):
- 75% USA (except for Oregon which requires 90%)
- 80% Argentina
- 85% Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Portugal, New Zealand, South Africa, Australia, United Kingdom
Some Wines are Labeled by Region
(aka “vin de terroir”) Wines like Bordeaux, Chablis, Chianti, Sancerre, and Rioja are labeled by region. This style of labeling is used mostly in old worldwine countries like France, Italy, Spain and Portugal. Regional labeling likely came from a time when many different varieties grew together in the same vineyards and were blended together into wine.
Some Wines are Labeled by Name
The last common style of wine labeling includes wines using a made-up or fantasy name. More often than not, named wines are unique blends invented by the wine producer. You’ll also find named wines common in regions that do not allow the use of certain grapes in their regional wine (but still grow them). For example, Tuscan wines made with French-origin grapes including Merlot, Syrah, and Cabernet are not allowed to be labeled as an Italian regional wine. (This is how the first Super Tuscan wines came to be!) Named wines are often blends or unusual wines that don’t fit the wine laws of a particular region. In most cases, you’ll find the unique details about the wine on the winery’s website.
For more information, visit www.winefolly.com
CARDINAL RULES FOR GREAT WINE AND FOOD PAIRINGS.
Matching up wines and food, from dry rosé and cheesy dishes to malbec and sweet-spicy barbecue sauces.
- Pinot Noir: Great for dishes with earthy flavors
Recipes made with ingredients like mushrooms and truffles taste great with reds like Pinot Noir and Dolcetto, which are light-bodied but full of savory depth.
- Chardonnay: For fatty fish or fish in a rich sauce
Silky whites—for instance, Chardonnays from California, Chile or Australia—are delicious with fish like salmon or any kind of seafood in a lush sauce.
- Champagne: Perfect with anything salty
Most dry sparkling wines, such as brut Champagne and Spanish cava, actually have a faint touch of sweetness. That makes them extra-refreshing when served with salty foods, like crispy udon noodles with nori salt.
- Cabernet Sauvignon: Fabulous with juicy red meat
California Cabernet, Bordeaux and Bordeaux-style blends are terrific with steaks or chops—like lamb chops with frizzled herbs. The firm tannins in these wines refresh the palate after each bite of meat.
- Sauvignon Blanc: Goes with tart dressings and sauces
Tangy foods—like scallops with grapefruit-onion salad—won't overwhelm zippy wines like Sauvignon Blanc, Vinho Verde from Portugal and Verdejo from Spain.
- Dry Rosé: For rich, cheesy dishes
Some cheeses go better with white wine, some with red; yet almost all pair well with dry rosé, which has the acidity of white wine and the fruit character of red. For an indulgent cheese dish, try these Triple-Decker Baked Italian Cheese Sandwiches.
- Pinot Grigio: Pairs with light fish dishes
Light seafood dishes, like seafood tostada bites, seem to take on more flavor when matched with equally delicate white wines, such as Pinot Grigio or Arneis from Italy or Chablis from France.
- Malbec: Won't be overshadowed by sweet-spicy barbecue sauces
Malbec, Shiraz and Côtes-du-Rhône are big and bold enough to drink with foods brushed with heavily spiced barbecue sauces, like these chicken drumsticks with Asian barbecue sauce.
- Moscato d'Asti: Loves fruit desserts
Moderately sweet sparkling wines such as Moscato d'Asti, demi-sec Champagne and Asti Spumante help emphasize the fruit in the dessert, rather than the sugar. Try it with these honeyed fig crostatas.
- Syrah: Matches with highly spiced dishes
When a meat is heavily seasoned—like cumin-spiced burgers with harissa mayo—look for a red wine with lots of spicy notes. Syrah from Washington, Cabernet Franc from France and Xinomavro from Greece are all good choices.
- Zinfandel: For pates, mousses and terrines
If you can use the same adjectives to describe a wine and a dish, the pairing will often work. For instance, the words rustic and rich describe Zinfandel, Italy's Nero d'Avola and Spain's Monastrell as well as creamy chicken-liver mousse.
- Riesling: Pairs with sweet and spicy dishes
The slight sweetness of many Rieslings, Gewürztraminers and Vouvrays helps tame the heat of spicy Asian and Indian dishes, like this Thai green salad with duck cracklings.
- Rosé Sparkling Wines: Great with dinner, not just hors d'oeuvres
Rosé sparkling wines, such as rosé Champagne, cava and sparkling wine from California, have the depth of flavor and richness to go with a wide range of main courses, like beet risotto.
- Old World Wines: Intrinsically good with Old World dishes
The flavors of foods and wines that have grown up together over the centuries —Tuscan recipes and Tuscan wines, for instance — are almost always a natural fit. This pappardelle with veal ragù pairs well with a medium-bodied Chianti, for example.
for more information, visit www.foodandwine.com
THE PERFECT SERVING TEMPERATURE.
Expert advice on enjoying your bottles at their best
Seems like serving a wine should be easy enough: Just open and pour. But anyone who has ever struggled with a crumbling cork, or listened to a debate over whether the Cabernet they’re drinking needs to “breathe” more, knows that sometimes it’s not quite so simple.
Ever had a glass of wine that came highly recommended but was underwhelming to you, or been disappointed by a wine you had loved previously? Maybe the wine simply wasn’t served in a way that allowed it to shine. Temperature and glassware can significantly affect a wine’s aromas and flavors, as can the practice of decanting. Understanding how and why will help you decide what’s best for your particular wine and occasion.
Here are some guidelines on serving temperatures for different wines, as well as quick fixes for chilling down or warming up a bottle:
- Light Dry Whites, Rosés and Sparkling wines
Serve at 40° to 50° F: Preserve their freshness and fruitiness. Think crisp Pinot Grigio and Champagne. For sparklers, chilling keeps bubbles fine rather than frothy. This is also a good range for white dessert wines; sweetness is accentuated at warmer temperatures, so chilling them preserves their balance without quashing their vibrant aromas.
- Full-bodied Whites and light, fruity Reds
Serve at 50° to 60° F: Pick up more of the complexity and aromatics of a rich Chardonnay or to make a fruity Beaujolais more refreshing.
- Full-bodied Reds and Ports
Serve at 60° to 65° F: Cooler than most room temperatures and warmer than ideal cellaring temperatures—to make the tannins in powerful Cabernet or Syrah feel more supple and de-emphasize bitter components.
for more information, visit www.winespectator.com