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Archive for February, 2009

Wine Wisdoms #24: Predicting Ageability

Thursday, February 26th, 2009 at 1:55:54 PM
by Erika S., Wine Enthusiast Companies


A great majority of wine is made to be enjoyed right away and does not need to be aged. However, wines of supreme quality can evolve with time in the bottle, offering a rewarding experience to the patient cellar keeper. The two major factors that determine the ageability of wine are its tannins and its sugar content. Tannic reds and dessert wines can typically age longer than whites (though there are exceptions), because these qualities preserve the wine over time, allowing further development without spoilage.

A wine’s ageabilty can vary greatly depending on the producer, style, and quality but the following is a handy starting point:

15-20+ Years: French Cabernet-based wines and tannic Italian reds like: Bordeaux, Barolo, Barbaresco, Brunello di Montalcino
10-15+ Years: Sauternes, Late-Harvest Riesling, Tokaj, Vintage Port
5-10+ Years: New World Cabernet Sauvignon, Chianti Classico, Rhone Valley, Grenache, Rioja
3-5+ Years: Pinot Noir, Burgundy, Zinfandel, Napa Valley Merlot
1-3 + Years: Chardonnay, Dry Riesling, White Burgundy, Gewurztraminer
Will Not Age: Beaujolais, Rose, Sauvignon Blanc, Gamay, Pinot Grigio, Chenin Blanc

Wine Wisdoms #23: Some Abbreviation Clarification

Thursday, February 19th, 2009 at 1:58:44 PM
by Erika S., Wine Enthusiast Companies

Italian Wine Classification

There are many abbreviations on wine labels, especially for European wines. These abbreviations refer to the wine classification systems of  each country. They often denote the quality level of the wine and the region that the wine comes from. These abbreviations are based on laws and have governing bodies in each country to enforce the laws. Here are some of the major abbreviations you should be familiar with:

VDT- Vino de Tavola, table wine
IGT- Wine made in a specific region but with less wine making restrictions than other classifications. Some top Italian wines are IGT, like the Super Tuscans
DOC- Denominazione di Origine Controllata, Wine from a specific region and made from a particular grape variety. Toscano is a DOC, for example.
DOCG-Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita, Wines from a specific region and made from a particular grape variety that also must pass a blind taste test of quality. Brunello is a DOCG, for example.

Wine Wisdoms #22: Phylloxera, The Pest

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009 at 4:09:25 PM
by Erika S., Wine Enthusiast Companies


You may have heard the term “Phylloxera” thrown around with reference to grape growing and wondered what it is. Phylloxera is a microscopic root louse and a grapevine pest that enjoys feasting on vitis vinifera, the species of grape vine that produces most wine grapes.  Phylloxera attacks the root of the vine. When a vineyard is infested with Phylloxera it can be completely decimated, and the grower is forced to pull up the vines and replant. Phylloxera is originally from North America and was accidentally brought to Europe in the late 1800s, nearly wiping out the vineyards there as well. Because Phylloxera only likes to feed on the vitis vinifera grapevine, the remedy is to plant another species into the ground like vitis labrusca and then graft the two species together, just above ground. Chile is said to be the only country in the world that is Phylloxera-free.

Aerators and Decanters: What’s the Difference?

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009 at 1:55:52 PM
by Erika S., Wine Enthusiast Companies

Respirer Wine Aerator Allure Aerating Decanter

An aerator and a decanter both serve a similar purpose which is to expand the surface area of wine, which allows the air to mingle with it. Whether placing the wine in a larger vessel (decanter) or forcing air to be circulated throughout it (aerator), the end result is a wine with an expanded aromatic profile and/or softer tannins.  So, what’s the difference?

Wine Wisdoms #21: Legs, Do You Use’em?

Monday, February 9th, 2009 at 4:17:19 PM
by Erika S., Wine Enthusiast Companies

Wine Legs

The term “legs” refers to the streams of wine that run down the sides of a wine glass after swirling. They are also called “tears.”They can be thick or thin and the patterns that they form can vary greatly. The question is, what do you do with them? Do they matter?

It used to be said that the more legs in a wine glass, the greater the wine’s quality. This is a myth. Another idea is that the more legs in a wine glass, the greater the quantity of alcohol in the wine. This can be true sometimes, but it’s not an absolute rule. Some say that legs are related to the quantity of sugar in the wine also where a higher sugar content causes the wine to cling to the sides. For the most part though, legs don’t mean anything at all. You can observe and appreciate them, but they don’t serve any purpose. Just enjoy your wine!

Wine Wisdoms #20: Humidity, Wine’s Fickle Friend

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009 at 1:54:35 PM
by Erika S., Wine Enthusiast Companies

Wine and Humidity

When wine is being stored, a high level of humidity (70%) must be maintained, though too much can be detrimental. Humidity is a friend to wine because it keeps the cork moist which  maintains an air-tight seal between the cork and the bottle. If the cork dries out, air can enter the bottle. Humidity is not a friend at very high humidity levels in the 90% range, where wine labels can discolor or rot, and mold can even grow. Thus, for long-term cellaring, humidity must be kept at a consistent level. Our thermometers can be installed as well, so that humidity can be monitored at all times.

All wine cellars that are built by our team are either built with a cooling system that humidifies, or a system that cools slowly so that humidity is not stripped from the environment. A free-standing wine cellar like our EuroCave models, have a humidity maintenance system and a charcoal air filter to control moisture.