Winston's Wisdoms - A Blog
Where Our Passion for Wine & Accessories Is Shared
Subscribe to Updates:
RSS  Subscribe via RSS Feed

Archive for the 'Wine Wisdoms' Category

Wine Wisdoms #33: The 5 S’s of Wine Tasting (Taste Like the Experts)

Thursday, June 4th, 2009 at 11:53:27 AM
by Erika S., Wine Enthusiast Companies

5 S’s of Wine Tasting If you’ve ever been confused by all the swirling and sniffing that goes on at a wine tasting, the 5 S’s are a great place to start. These are the basics steps one should go through when tasting wine, in order to appreciate it to the fullest.

See- All wine tasting begins by holding the glass up to a good light and then, ideally, viewing the glass against a white surface. Your wine color should be clear and not opaque unless you have an aged wine with a ton of sediment. Take a moment to note the color. If it is a white wine is it: Yellow? Gold? Straw colored? Water white? If it is a red wine would you call it: Ruby? Purple? Garnet? Wines can range dramatically in color depending on the type of grape used to make the wine and how long the wine sat with the skins or macerated. As wines age they get lose color so a good look at the color of the wine can tell you a bit about how old it is. Also, notice the streams of water on the sides of your glass. These are called legs. Legs are a point of contention as some affirm that the more legs a wine has, the better the wine. Others claim that legs denote sugar or alcohol content. There are also those who say that legs do not mean anything!

Sniff- The next step is to give your wine a nice big sniff. Don’t be shy. Stick your nose way into the bowl of the glass and try to decipher the smells. Remember that wine tasting can be subjective and there are no right or wrong answers. Do you smell fruit? If so, what kind of fruit is it? Is it a black fruit? A tropical fruit? Does your wine smell like oak? Or, is it difficult to smell anything at all? This is certainly possible if you have yet to swirl your wine.

Swirl- After your initial sniff, hold your wine at the base and lightly swirl the wine in your glass. Get a nice momentum going with your wrist. The swirling process sends oxygen through the wine, expands the surface area and allows the aromas to open up. This is sometimes called “swirling the esters.”

Sniff- Now, smell your wine again. Do you notice a change? There should be a remarkable difference between your pre-swirl and post-swirl sniff. If not, work your wine a bit more and give it some time to open. Try your best to pinpoint the aromas and write them down if you’d like.

Sip- Finally, take a nice big sip of your wine. Let the wine spread out across your mouth, curl your tongue, and breathe in air through your tongue. This will send air through the wine once again while in your mouth and allow it to open even further. What do you taste? Sweetness? Dryness? Spice? Fruitiness? The sky is the limit! Did the taste surprise you? Was it similar on the palate to the nose? After you swallow, take a minute to notice the finish and the length of the wine. The “finish” is the after-taste and the “length” is the period of time that it lingers. A really good wine will have a pleasing finish and a very long length. A poor wine falls flat very quickly.

Now you are ready to taste with the experts!

For more help on wine tasting, check out our wine tasting tool collection.

Wine Wisdoms #32: How Sweet It Is?

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009 at 4:53:44 PM
by Erika S., Wine Enthusiast Companies

Sweet Wine

People often make the mistake of perceiving a fruity, red wine, as a sweet wine. We are used to associating flavors of plum, strawberry, and cassis present in many red wines, with the sweet fruits that they come from. This can cause confusion. Most wine, (with the exception of dessert wines like Port, ice wine, Sauternes, Tokaji and late-harvest Riesling)  are not sweet, no matter how fruity and full-bodied they are. Some may have a higher sugar content than others, but most table wines are “dry” as we perceive them. Cabernet Sauvignon is dry as is Merlot, Pinot Noir, Syrah etc. Don’t be fooled!

Wine Wisdoms #31: Get to Know Heart-Healthy Resveratrol

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009 at 4:26:08 PM
by Erika S., Wine Enthusiast Companies

Heart-Healthy Wine Resveratrol

You may already realize that red wine is healthy for your heart. But do you know why? And why doesn’t white wine have the same benefits? The difference is in the skins.

The skin of a grape has a high concentration of an anti-oxidant called resveratrol, which the grapevine produces. The thicker the skin of the grape, the darker the wine and the more resveratrol there will be. Thick-skinned grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Tannat and Nebbiolo  are therefore, the most heart-healthy.

Red wine goes through a period of skin contact that white wine does not, hence why red wine has the heart-healthy components and white wine does not.

Resveratrol is just one  of many heart-healthy substances in red wine, along with polyphenols, anthocyanins, and other anti-oxidants.

Wine Wisdoms #30: Vinifera, Vinifer-Who?

Friday, May 8th, 2009 at 12:10:04 PM
by Erika S., Wine Enthusiast Companies

Vitis Vinifera Grapevine

Vitis Vinifera is the species of grapevine that is used to make most of the world’s fine wine. While there are many grapevine species, most are harvested for grapes  and grapejuice alone and are not suitable for winemaking. Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Sangiovese, Syrah, Tempranillo, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Semillon, and most other grape varieties (there are thousands!) are all of the vitis vinifera species. Each variety of vitis vinifera can have many clones too, contributing even further to the wonderful complexity of wine!

Some other common grapevine species are: Vitis Labrusca and Vitis Riparia

Wine Wisdoms #29: Get Horizontal

Wednesday, April 8th, 2009 at 12:42:09 PM
by Erika S., Wine Enthusiast Companies

Modular Wine Rack

One of the most important things when selecting the proper storage for your wine collection is the position of the bottles. We recommend that you store all of your wine bottles horizontally. Why?

With horizontal storage, the cork stays moist by its contact with the wine and any sediment that develops will sit at the bottom. If your wine bottles are stored vertically, the corks are at risk for shrinking and drying out, which means they will crumble when you decide to open the wine. It’s best to store the wine horizontally and parallel to the ground, on an even plane. If the bottle is angled downward the sediment falls toward the neck and if angled upward, you will have the same cork drying issue as if the bottle were vertical! Plus, horizontal storage is the best way to keep your bottles organized!

Thanks to Robert Dwyer at Wellesley Wine Press, for asking this great question!

Wine Wisdoms #28: Terroir Preservation

Thursday, March 26th, 2009 at 2:18:02 PM
by Erika S., Wine Enthusiast Companies

Terroir Debate

Terroir is a wine term that gets tossed around a lot, but it happens to be an important one. The notion of Terroir means that a wine tastes like it comes from a specific place where the grapes were grown. The climate of every wine region in the world has its own weather, soil, and topography which affects the grapes and ultimately, the style of the wine. A Pinot Noir from Oregon tastes different than Burgundy, for example.

As wine becomes more globalized and advancements are made in winemaking technology, terroir sometimes becomes a fuzzy idea of the past. Because wine can be manipulated in so many ways to please the consumer, producers are less reliant on the natural terroir to produce a certain wine style. For many people, this is an unfortunate development. One of the most special things about tasting wine from different places is that each wine is unique. As such, terroir preservation is important for the future of wine.

Does terroir matter to you?

Find more information on terroir at

Wine Wisdoms #27: The Single Vineyard Sensation

Friday, March 20th, 2009 at 11:40:23 AM
by Erika S., Wine Enthusiast Companies

Single Vineyard

A wine can be blended from different vineyards and locations. Sometimes wines are made from grapes purchased from a variety of growers as well. But a single vineyard wine is made from one select vineyard site, where attention and care is paid to the vines for that wine specifically. Laws designate that 95% of the grapes in the wine must be from that site if the term “single vineyard” is used. So, when a wine is designated as single vineyard it says something about the quality and focus of the wine. Single vineyard wines can demonstrate terroir and place in a significant way and are often thought to be more pure than other wines.

Keep in mind though, that vineyards can be large and topography can vary in even 1 vineyard. Single vineyard is not always an indicator of top quality. Even so, single vineyard wines are often sought-out beyond others.

Find single vineyard wines like this this elite 2003 Brunello at

Wine Wisdoms #26: How-To Achieve the Perfect Pour

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009 at 10:38:09 AM
by Erika S., Wine Enthusiast Companies

As basic as it may seem, people are often confused about how high to fill a wine glass. Many customers ask us what the proper etiquette is, and the answer is very simple:

A perfect pour is a wine glass that is filled to the widest part of the bowl, no higher and no lower. If the wine is filled higher than this it will be difficult to swirl and any lower is less than a full glass. One exception is a Champagne flute which is narrow and straight, in which case the Champagne is filled until there are a few inches left from the top of the glass.

Too high:

Too High Wine Glass

Perfect Pour:

Perfect Pour Wine Glass

P.S. When you order wine by-the-glass at a restaurant, they should always give you a perfect pour!

Wine Wisdoms #25: I Don’t Mean to Drone, But This is a Clone

Wednesday, March 11th, 2009 at 5:19:00 PM
by Erika S., Wine Enthusiast Companies

Vineyard Clone

Without getting too technical, a Clone is basically a sub-species or mutation of a grapevine. There are many species of grapevine (Vitis Vinifera being the most common for wine), and each has many clones within the species. The behavior of each clone varies in everything from fruit productivity to vigor and acidity levels. Certain clones are thought to produce better grapes and are grown together to produce an even better vine. Many vineyards have place markers that designate the particular clone in each row. Clonal selection is an important part of the growing process and it’s important that the clone fit the needs of the vineyard site and the winery.

Also featured in the March issue of Wine Enthusiast Magazine, available now.

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