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 #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.

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.

Wine Wisdoms #19: The Point of Punts

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009 at 4:18:48 PM
by Erika S., Wine Enthusiast Companies

Wine Bottle Punt The “Punt” is the concaved base or indent at the bottom of a bottle of wine. It has many purposes, though most likely punts are just a traditional style that has been perpetuated over the years.

  1. It makes the bottle easier to hold and pour from
  2. It makes the glass bottle more break-resistant and less likely to tumble over
  3. It can be seen as a symbol of quality
  4. It holds the bottle in place on a bottling line
  5. It helps gather the sediment of older wines
  6. Historically, it was used in Champagne to help stack bottles for the riddling process

It’s unclear what the real reason is, and not all bottles are actually created with punts. Different producers may have their own individual reasons, beyond this list as well.

Why do you think wine bottles have punts?

Wine Wisdoms #18: The Foundation of Rioja’s Greatness

Friday, January 23rd, 2009 at 4:02:34 PM
by Josh F., Wine Enthusiast Companies

In the 1880′s when the Phylloxera epidemic hit vineyards in Bordeaux, hundreds of French families moved South to Rioja to continue their wine-making trade. They used the local grape varieties (primarily Tempranillo) but they brought the Bordeaux techniques of long skin maceration and oak-barrel aging. The quality of Rioja improved dramatically and today it still represents one of the great wine values in the world.

Wine Wisdoms #17: Food and Wine Pairing Basics

Monday, January 19th, 2009 at 5:27:11 PM
by Erika S., Wine Enthusiast Companies

Food and Wine Pairing CookbookFood and wine pairing can be as simple or as complex as you’d like. The goal is to focus on the flavor components of the wine and harmonize them with those of your food. Typically more heavy foods such as steak, pair well with bold wines like Cabernet Sauvignon. Lighter foods like sea bass therefore, might make a great pairing with Sauvignon Blanc. It’s not as basic as red wine with steak and white wine with fish though. Preparation also plays a big role. A heartier fish like swordfish, prepared in a rich sauce can be a nice pairing with a light red like a Pinot Noir. While swordfish in a lemon, butter sauce could be a nice match with Chardonnay. Experiment with various combinations and find what works well for you. There are no right or wrong answers.

Need a place to start? Here are some great combinations, as featured in Wine Enthusiast Magazine’s Wine & Food Pairings Cookbook. It’s over 30% off for a limited time.

Avocado, Tomato and Spinach Crepes with New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc
Bouillabaisse with a Spanish Rose
Pork Chops with Pinot Noir Demi-Glace with Oregon Pinot Noir
Wild Rice Salad with Mushrooms with Cabernet Franc
Duck Breast with Caramelized Apples and Red Burgundy

Wine Wisdoms #16: What is a Cru?

Thursday, January 15th, 2009 at 3:39:50 PM
by Erika S., Wine Enthusiast Companies

Vineyard in France

The French word for “growth”, cru is a classification term used throughout France to signify either areas of wine production or producers. For example, in Burgundy the term refers to vineyards and in Champagne, to whole villages. For most of France, the main classifications are grand cru (great growth) and premiere cru (first growth), the next best, and so on. But in Bordeaux, crus refer to chateaus and are designated under cru classé (classified growths), which was officially enacted in 1885. For the Medoc area of Bordeaux, the designations have a five-tier designation, with premiere cru classe as the highest.  The St.-Emilion region of Bordeaux was left out of the 1885 decision along with Graves and Pomerol, so they have their own naming system, which categorizes wines as either premiere or grands cru classés A or B.

As featured in the February issue of Wine Enthusiast Magazine, available now.

Wine Wisdoms #15: Learn to Detect Fruit Aromas

Tuesday, January 13th, 2009 at 10:52:16 AM
by Erika S., Wine Enthusiast Companies

Wine and Fruit Aromas

Learn to detect fruit aromas. Wine will usually have some kind of fruit aroma. Experiment with different types of wine and learn to recognize what those aromas are. Swirl your glass with gusto and put your nose deep inside of it. For red wine, the primary aromatics are categorized into black fruits or red fruits. Black fruits consist of blackberries, plums, blueberries etc. while red fruits consist of strawberries, raspberries, cherries etc. The first question to ask yourself is whether the aromas are black or red fruits and from there you can pinpoint the specific fruit. White wine fruit aromas can be anything from the simpler citrus and apple to more exotic tropical fruits like pineapple, banana, and lychee fruit. Once you learn to recognize these aromas on their own, you’ll be more apt to find them in your wine. How did you first learn to detect fruit aromas in wine?

Our wine taste and aroma kits offer great assistance in learning to detect aromas in wine.

Wine Wisdoms #14: When Oregon Pinot Shocked the World

Thursday, January 8th, 2009 at 6:13:48 PM
by Josh F., Wine Enthusiast Companies

Willamette Valley Vineyards Pinot NoirAbout twenty years ago Oregon winemakers took the bold and outrageous step of inviting famous wine experts and journalists to blind taste their 1983 Pinot Noirs along with 1983 Grand Cru Burgundies costing four and five times as much. The Oregon wines were mistaken for and rated higher than the Burgundies in almost every case. The experts were shocked by the results, and in that moment Oregon Pinot Noirs achieved their status as the world class wines which they hold today.