Photo by Geoff Parsons

Decanters may seem like superfluous (not to mention pricey) wine accessories that are more about pomp and ceremony than actual utility, but decanters do, in fact, serve a technical purpose that can alter a wine considerably and make your wine drinking experience more enjoyable.

Besides their ability to instantly dress up your table, decanters are useful when you’re popping the cork on a wine that is very young and tannic, or alternatively, a wine from an older vintage that has a good amount of age on it and has deposited a lot of sediment. Decanting also oxygenates a wine, letting it bloom, so to speak, and allowing its aromas and flavors to emerge and develop to their fullest expression. (more…)

Posted by on May 24th, 2012

Editor’s Note: Why is stemware shaped differently? How does a glass affect the way a wine tastes? Can your wine glass improve your drinking experience? Menuism’s Wine Expert Etty Lewensztain introduces you to the various types of stemware, when each should be used, and why. (more…)

Posted by on April 5th, 2012

Photo by Michael Rymer

Madeline Puckette is the host of winefolly.com, a wine learning website serving up wine courses, videos and articles to inspire wine drinkers everywhere. A certified sommelier through Court of Masters, Madeline Puckette offers an alternative approach to loving wine: learn by drinking. Follow Madeline @Winefolly as she finds the most passionate people behind the wine.

Inclement weather gives way to bursts of sun during the month of March, inspiring us to look forward to the coming of summer. March also happens to be Pinot Noir Month. So, how does a single variety of grape deserve a whole month of appreciation? Perhaps it’s because pinot noir is the perfect complement to spring. (more…)

Posted by on March 12th, 2012

Wine Tasting Etiquette

Photo by AndyRoberts

Wine etiquette has come a long way. In the first installment of wine etiquette FAQs, I wrote about the dos and don’ts of drinking wine in restaurants, covering everything from sniffing corks and sending wine back when it’s spoiled, to bringing your own bottle and letting the sommelier pre-screen your wine for flaws.

This second edition of in the Wine Etiquette FAQ series is all about the rules of the game when sipping vino at wine tasting events. Read on to learn about when to spit or swallow, how to control your alcohol intake at large wine tastings, and which wine tasting faux pas you should avoid at all costs. (more…)

Posted by on December 13th, 2011

Photo by chispita_666

Editor’s Note: Etty Lewensztain first made her mark on The Menuism Blog last fall with the debut of her monthly column, featuring practical tips to help wine lovers enhance their wine drinking experiences. Now we’d like to welcome you to the first installment of Etty’s new monthly video series, which is–you guessed it!–all about vino. (more…)

Posted by on March 18th, 2011

When it comes to food or drink, it’s always fun to educate yourself and pick up some culinary knowledge when you can.  Although not much of a wine drinker, I recently went to a Wine 101 Class and picked up some information from a knowledgeable presenter that I’d love to share with you.

Tasting Techniques

When it comes to sampling your wines, it’s a two part process:

  • Swirl and Sniff:  The swirling of the wine in the glass causes evaporation and concentrates the aroma so that you can really get a sense of what the wine smells like.
  • Take a Slurp: Slurping involves  taking a sip and holding the wine on your tongue and breathing in. By breathing in, it agitates, aerates and accelerates the evaporation which allows you to better appraise the acidity, alcohol, sweetness and texture of the wine.

Evaluating the Wines

  • Sight: Hold the wine glass against a white background and make sure the wine is clear and brilliant and not dull, hazy or murky.
  • Smell: Use your nose to check on the aroma of the grape and to ensure that what you smell is actually intrinsic to the grape itself. Does the wine smell fresh and properly fermented? You’re also sniffing for depth and complexity. Can you smell hints of cherry or chocolate?
  • Taste: Does the wine feel smooth, velvety or round on your tongue? What’s the level of astringency coming from the tannins? When it comes to your palate, sweet is detected at the tip of your tongue, acidity on the sides of your tongue, saltiness at the upper front of your tongue and bitterness towards the back of your tongue.

Info About the Grapes

  • There are some 24,000 names for varieites of wine grapes
  • There are 5,000 truly different varieities
  • Only 150 are planted in commercially significant amounts
  • There are only 9 grapes that are considered to be classic.

Those 9 grapes are follows: White Grapes (Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon) and Red Grapes (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Syrah). Other grapes that are also gaining importance include White Grapes like Gewurztraminer, Muscat and Pinot Blanc and Red Grapes like Cabernet Franc, Grenache, Petite Sirah and Tempranillo.

Fermentation of the Wine

Simply, it’s a natural process where yeasts convert natural sugars to alcohol (which stays in the wine) and carbon dioxide (which dissipates).

  • With white wines, the juice is separated from the skin and seeds after crushing
  • With red wines, the entire grape is used because the skin adds both color and tannins.
  • With  rose and blush wines, the skins are used for a short time to add color and then removed. After fermentation, the wine is put in either wood barrels or steel barrels to age.

To read about the whole process, click this Wikipedia link.

To end, here are the final take aways I got:

  • Dry wines have no sugar
  • Wines that are aged in oak barrels will pick up flavors from the barrel itself
  • The oak for the barrels come from trees between 100 to 150 years old
  • Right now, the running cost of a French oak barrel is around $1000 while an American one is around $300
  • Wines that are aged in steel barrels will have the flavors intrinsic to the grape itself
  • Barrels are used up to 2 to 3 vintages (up to 10 years depending on the wine)
  • Whites are usually aged for 8 to 10 months while Red are aged from 10 months to 2 years or longer.
  • White wines should be stored in 40-50 degree temperature.
  • Red wines should be stored in 60-65 degree temperatures. If it’s too cold, it’ll taste bitter.

Overall, it was a fun and informative class and if there happens to be a Wine Class or any other kind of class about food, you should check it and who knows what wonderful tid bits of information you could learn for yourself.

Posted by on February 7th, 2010

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