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Where Our Passion for Wine & Accessories Is Shared
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About Winston's Wisdoms
Winston, the endearingly drawn gent you see raising his glass, has been the Wine Enthusiast logo for nearly 30 years—and the symbol of unsurpassed expertise in wine accessories and storage.

Winston's Wisdoms Blog is the place where our experts share their knowledge and answer some of the most commonly asked wine-related questions. It's the place where you can ask questions and share insights from your own wine experience. We welcome your feedback and invite you to offer your wisdoms to wine lovers everywhere!

The Basics of Whisk(e)y

Monday, June 8th, 2009 at 4:00:20 PM
by Erika S., Wine Enthusiast Companies

Glencairn Whiskey Glass Scotch, Whiskey and Bourbon are all grain-based spirits that can be as complex as they are rewarding and fun to learn about. Each has its own unique style but sometimes these dark potent potables are easily mistaken for one another.

Whiskey is any spirit made from distilled grain, usually barley , wheat or rye. No matter the Whiskey type, all must go through a similar process of soaking (or malting) the grain in water, fermentation, and multiple distillation to bring the spirit to a high alcohol level. From there it is often aged in oak barrels. The process sounds basic, but there is a wealth of complex decisions that the distillery makes along the way, to yield a Whiskey of a certain character.

Scotch whisky (note the lack of ‘e’) must be from Scotland and has its own set of rules for production, as laid out in the Scotch Whisky Act of 1988. It is made from a grain (malted barley, wheat or corn), yeast and water. When Scotch is made from 1 distillery it is called a single malt otherwise it is a blended Scotch. Scotch blending is an art and some blended Scotches are regarded as highly as the finest single malts. Scotch is usually aged in barrels that were previously used in the production of Sherry or Bourbon and must be in barrel for 3+ years. Common flavors found in Scotch include vanilla, cereal, toffee and tangerine. Another distinct one is peat, which is a sharp, smoky aroma. Peat is semi-carbonized vegetation that is burnt in the process to give that special smell.

Irish Whiskey is different than Scotch Whisky in that it has to be triple-distilled and some unmalted barley is added in the process. This creates more fruity aromas in the Whiskey like peach and apricot.

Bourbon is a type of Whiskey that must be made from at least 51% corn. The other grains used are typically rye, wheat and malted barley. It must be aged in charred barrels for at least two years. All Bourbon is made in the U.S, primarily from Kentucky (Bourbon, Kentucky is where its name comes from). Because of the presence of corn in the process, Bourbon yields sweeter aromatics of coconut, honey, apricot and butter. Rye has the same regulations as Bourbon, only it uses 51% rye instead of corn.

Our complete selection of Whiskey glasses is available here.

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.

3 Towns Toasted, New York to Go

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009 at 4:26:05 PM
by Erika S., Wine Enthusiast Companies

Toast of the Town New York, our fourth stop on the Toast of the Town roster this year, is just a few weeks away (June 15th). Tickets are going fast! New York is where Toast of the Town was born so after putting on fantastic events there for a decade, we know it will be an incredible evening. Some of the exciting participating restaurants include: Alfama, Allegretti, Barbetta, Thalassa, and the Capital Grille. But let’s take a minute to discuss some of the buzz that has already been building for this year.

San Francisco Toast of the Town

We started in San Francisco, where the folks at YumSugar shared their favorite wines including a 2007 Deep Purple Zinfandel (“plummy and extremely juicy”), a 2006 Louis M. Martini Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley Reserve (“smooth and not overly tannic”), a 2007 Jackson-Triggers Proprietors’ Reserve Vidal IceWine (“a full-bodied sticky”) and some top Korbel sparkling wine. Adam Levin of, enjoyed making up his own food and wine pairings and getting hints from the people pouring. posted a full tasting report, saying “It’s the first time I’ve left a wine event completely stuffed — and perfectly satiated with a glass of Eagle Rare 10 Year Old Single Barrel Bourbon (rating: A) — a unique way to finish a wine tasting event” He also calls it a “must-attend event.” He enjoyed crab dumplings, duck salad, steak tartare, lobster thermidor, ahi tuna and more.

Toast of the Town Atlanta

Our next stop was a swimming success in Atlanta, at the Georgia Aquarium, the world’s largest aquarium and home to over 60 marine exhibits. Sharks and beluga whales created an elegant backdrop for the evening. Premier restaurants including Canoe, Atlanta Grill and Aqua Blue offered a wide spectrum of great tastes like shrimp lettuce wraps, steak sandwiches and crawfish etouffee.

Chicago Toast of the Town

Next, the fascinating Field Museum in Chicago was our third stop for Toast of the Town this year.  Under the watchful eye of Sue, the Tyrannosaurus rex fossil, attendees enjoyed spiced lamb tenderloin, seared arctic char, big eye tuna with grapefruit, and much more. As with any Toast of the Town, worldly wines flowed freely including selections from as far as Austria and as near as Niagara and Napa. Live jazz added to the festive gathering.

We hope to see you all in New York in just a few short weeks! Grab your tickets today! If you are a Twitter user, be sure to use #TOTT as you tweet from the event.

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

The Difference Between Our Red and White Vinturis

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009 at 11:06:06 AM
by Erika S., Wine Enthusiast Companies

White Vinturi Wine Aerator

We recently launched the exciting new white wine Vinturi on our site. The red Vinturis have been immensely popular, (receiving over 200 rave customer reviews) . People love the sleek design, ease-of-use and most importantly, the incredible results it can have on wine’s flavor and aroma. It seemed only natural to offer a white version. So, why do you need a different aerator for white wines?

It’s true that many white wines do not need aeration. But young, full-bodied whites like Viognier or old, luscious whites like white Burgundy, can greatly benefit. A white with exotic aromas needs a delicate touch of air that can make those aromas really sing. The white Vinturi aerator is specifically engineered with smaller, more delicate pores that are gentle on a white’s unique composition.  The wine travels through the Vinturi faster so that the wine receives just enough aeration, without being broken down. Watch our video demo, to learn how it works:
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Sneak a Taste of Chicago Toast of the Town

Monday, April 27th, 2009 at 4:25:18 PM
by Erika S., Wine Enthusiast Companies

We are only a few days away from our exciting Toast of the Town Chicago, this Thursday at the Field Museum. To whet your palates, we’ve asked some of the chefs from participating restaurants to send us recipes and photos of some of the featured dishes they will be serving. Today we have seared scallops with artichokes in 3 styles from Lockwood Restaurant and roasted vegetable, hearts of palm and carrot mousse terrine with caramelized popcorn coulis from Carlos’. Give these recipes a try at home, then taste the real thing this Thursday! Tickets are still available, $75 for a limited time.

Caring for your EuroCave: 3 Simple Steps Towards Long-Lasting Wine Protection

Monday, April 20th, 2009 at 4:25:15 PM
by David M., Wine Enthusiast Companies

EuroCave If you are the proud owner of a EuroCave wine cellar, you already know how crucial it is to protect your wine from its enemies. Temperature and humidity fluctuations can have damaging effects on your wine collection and a EuroCave is a champion of defense against these issues. To be sure that your EuroCave unit continues to function well for years to come, follow a few simple steps:

1. Change the charcoal filters annually. This filter is located on the back wall in the interior upper left of the cabinet and regulates any dust or odor from entering the cabinet.  To replace this carbon filter, simply pop it out w/ your fingers or a butter knife and insert the new filter.  If not done routinely, frost or ice build up may occur on the back walls, along with a greater fluctuation in temperature. It is crucial to replace the filters as we don’t want to interrupt the natural occurrence inside of your Eurocave.  Eurocave charcoal filters can be purchased from Wine Enthusiast.  They are individually wrapped and have an unlimited shelf life if unopened.  I recommend purchasing a 4-pack, which essentially gives you one filter for free.

2. Dust the condenser every 6 months. The condenser is the “wire racks” located on the back of the unit.

3. If needed, you also can carry out a complete cleaning of your Eurocave Cabinet.
  If you’ve neglected to do the above steps you may need to conduct a full cleaning. Simply unload your Eurocave and use water and a gentle cleaning agent.

Any questions? Call us at 800.377.3330

Cheers to San Francisco Toast of the Town 2009

Friday, April 10th, 2009 at 3:25:11 PM
by Erika S., Wine Enthusiast Companies

San Francisco Toast of the Town

Anticipation builds for our upcoming Toast of the Towns in Atlanta, Chicago and New York following a tremendous San Francisco event on March 26th. The War Memorial Opera House was filled with happy tasters who strolled its beautiful floors, eating flavor-packed bites and drinking wines from all over the world.