Wednesday, July 23, 2014

3 Basic Wine Glass Shapes for a Multitude of Wines

3 Types of Glasses
You’ve heard it before: The shape of the glass affects the wine’s taste. But is that statement really true, or just another way to get wine lovers to purchase a lot of stemware?

Varietal Glasses
Choosing the correct wine glass is a little bit science and a little bit personal opinion.  It involves knowing something about the wine itself and which glass is said to optimize that grape’s characteristics.

But if we cut to the chase, there are three basic wine glass shapes that will meet the average wine drinkers needs.

Red Wine Glasses
1) For red wines, use a glass with a larger bowl that lets the wine receive more air on the surface allowing it to “breathe.”  That means the dense aromas of a red wine have a chance to mix with air and create those wonderful aromas in the glass. It is usually suggested that red wines be served in a 12 to 16 oz glass, filling it about 1/4 full for optimal swirling and aeration.

Bordeaux Glass
For red wines consider:
Bordeaux Glass – (Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah)
This glass is large with a longer bowl and taped at the rim.  The large bowl allows for plenty of swirling, which lets air into the wine and releases the aromas.  The tapered sides pull that aroma up for a full nose and the wine is directed to the back of the mouth.
Burgundy Glass

Burgundy Glass – (Pinot Noir) This glass has a wider bowl than the Bordeaux glass to allow more air to enter the wine. The slightly angled sides help create a full bouquet and direct the wine onto the tip of the tongue.

White Wine Glasses
2) For white wines use a glass with a smaller bowl to allow less air onto the surface to the wine. The smaller bowl shape helps contain the aromas and keeps the wine cooler, longer. The narrow mouth directs the aromas directly up to your nose and delivers the wine directly to the front of the tongue for optimal tasting.  White wine glasses usually hold 10 to 12 oz. of wine.

Pinot Gris Glass

Sauvignon Blanc Glass
For white wines consider:
Sauvignon Blanc/Pinot Grigio Glass
This glass has a narrow bowl that leads the aromas straight to the nose.  It also directs the wine directly to the sides of the tongue where the full crisp taste can be enjoyed.

Champagne Glass
3) For sparkling wines or Champagne, use a flute shaped glass.  This shape helps keep those bubbles bubbling the longest since the surface of the wine isn’t exposed to the air too quickly.  It also keeps the aromas concentrated.

This glass is tall and narrow so that the bubbles keep coming.  The narrow opening helps keep the wine chilled and the fizziness enjoyable. You’ll recognize a Champagne glass when you see it.

All Purpose Glass
Water Glass
Or just opt for an all-purpose wine glass if you don’t want a glass for reds and a glass for whites. This is the glass that’s also used as a water glass with a short stem and large round bowl.

Glasses to Consider -
Riedel is an eleventh generation Austrian crystal maker that has produced lead crystal wine glasses for over 250 years. Riedel also produces glasses that are machine blown and free of lead; plus a line that is dishwasher safe.

Bottega del Vino crystal wine glasses are hand blown, yet suitable for restaurant use. As Bottega del Vino’s slogan says, “If the wine matters, so does the glass.

Ravenscroft is the world leader of lead-free crystal wine glasses.  They offer close to 30 different hand blown wine glass styles, crafted at their European factory.

Vivant wine glasses are made by Riedel for Target.  These glasses are machine-made but much easier on the pocketbook and are dishwasher safe.

Crate & Barrel wine glasses are one of the best values out there; great price, nice designs, and durable. If you’re just starting out with wine, or just want an all-purpose set of wine glasses, this would be my choice. (Check out the stemless glasses too.)

Care of wine glasses:
It is best to hand-wash most wine glasses in hot water, especially if they are delicate or expensive.  But more and more glass companies are offering quality wine glasses that can be machine-washed.  Just be sure the glasses are clean of soap and residue after washing.

Still Can’t Decide?
Do a wine tasting of your own.  Buy a couple of high quality wine glasses and compare the same wine in them and a lower quality, mass produced glass. 

Remember, wine is a subjective experience and the glass can affect how you perceive a wine.  Each glass is shaped to increase the wine’s aroma and where it hits the palate.  But it is still personal opinion if the glass affects or improves the wine’s taste.

For Reds
For Whites
If you want to experience all of the nuances of a wine – go for the glass created for it.  However, this does not mean you have to purchase a different glass for each wine you like. You can decide to buy a high quality Bordeaux glass for reds and a higher quality Pinot Gris glass for whites and be amply covered.  Just remember, the best wine glass is the one that fits well in your hand and makes the wine taste the best to you!

~ Joy

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

7 Savvy Tips for BYOB

BYOB stands for “bring your own: beer, bottle, beverage, booze … you get the idea. For this post, we’ll keep it to “bottle” for wine.

With the prices of a glass or bottle of wine at a restaurant, BYOB may be just the option you’ve been looking for, and numerous restaurants allow it, from the very swanky to moderately priced to your local mom and pop pizza joint.

But before you grab that bottle of vino and head out for dinner, there are a few rules and regs you need to know.

1) Check with the restaurant where you will be dining to see if management permits you to bring your own wine. Check the website, or call and ask for the manager or head bartender so that you get the latest restaurant policy information on BYOB.

2) Find out how many bottles you can bring. Some restaurants will have a limit but usually two will be allowed; that gives you the option of pairing a wine with the entrée and another with dessert.

3) Ask what the corkage fee is. This is a fee the restaurant charges to uncork and serve your wines. (And, yes, this is legal.)  The fee is usually around the cost of a glass or two of wine: $5 to $20, although some restaurants will waive the fee if you purchase a certain amount of food, or on designated days as a “special incentive” to visit. Be sure and ask the manager about this. (More expensive restaurants may charge a corkage fee of $50 -$85.) If you find that the corkage fee is too high, it may be because the restaurant is trying to discourage BYOB.

4) Check the restaurant’s website and peruse the menu so that you can pair the wine you will be bringing with the food available on the menu. And don’t be afraid to ask the wait staff /wine steward/sommelier for suggestions that might go with your bottle of wine. If they are unfamiliar with the wine allow them to taste in order to make a better recommendation. (Good manners: Invite them to taste, regardless.)

5) And while you’re checking the website for menu selections, make sure you’re not taking a wine the restaurant already offers. (Yes, I know it’s cheaper, but it’s just bad form.)

6) It’s up to you to have your wine ready to serve when you arrive at the restaurant. If it’s a white wine that needs chilled, keep it cool in an insulated wine bag.

7) When you’ve finished, leave the bottle on the table to be cleared with the rest of the meal’s remains. (And please, tip well!)

Some of the most BYOB-friendly cities in the U.S. include Philadelphia, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, and the state of New Jersey.

Remember, the restaurant is allowing you to bring your own bottle: It is not a right; it’s a privilege. Treat it as such, tip well, and hopefully, BYOB will become more available, not just in the larger cities, but throughout the country.

~ Joy

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

9 Festive Wines to Make Your July 4th Celebration Fine

This weekend in the U.S, we will celebrate Independence Day.  This holiday commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776 which declared our independence from Great Britain. It is a national holiday celebrated with fireworks, parades, cookouts, concerts and ceremonies across the nation.
In honor of this distinctly American holiday, I searched for a few wines to pour as you celebrate “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness …” along with those fireworks, and some red, white and blue thrown in there, too.

Ripe Life Wines is as close as we get to “Life.”  This is not a winery or vineyard but a private label founded by culinary school grad and New York City sommelier, Mary McAuley. Ripe Life started business last year and offers one wine: Clambake Chardonnay. Tailgate Red is expected to be released in the autumn of 2015.

Liberty Creek Vineyards based in Modesto, California plays off the July 4th motif with about a dozen offerings. Their web page features the liberty bell and phrases from the Declaration of Independence. Wine offerings include Cabernet, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Pinot Grigio, Pink Moscato and White Zin, along with a few Tetra Pak offerings.

Liberty School offers several wines. Started in 1990, Hope Family Wines produces reliable vinos under the Liberty School banner including Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cuvee and Chardonnay. The winery is located in Paso Robles, California.

Liberty Vineyards and Winery is a family-owned winery located in western New York state in the heart of Lake Erie's wine country.  Almost two-dozen wines make up their portfolio including an appropriately named Reds, Whites and Blues, which is a sweet blend of red, white and blue grape varieties. This wine won a gold at the 2014 Florida State Fair International Wine Competition, two Chairman’s Awards from the Riverside International Wine Competition, and a "Highly Recommended, Best Buy" from Beverage Testing Institute. (Shame they didn't have a better photo ...)

Pursuit of Happiness
Pursuit of Happiness is a dessert wine crafted from Norton grapes and blackberries. Produced by Wide River Winery of Clinton, Iowa, this wine won a gold medal at the 2012 Mid American Wine Competition.

And we also associate fireworks, firecrackers and lots of big booms with the Fourth, so here’s a few more wines to consider.

All That Bang
Fireworks Red Merlot should get your weekend off with a sparkle. Crafted by Adirondack Winery in Lake George, New York, this wine garnered silver from Florida State Fair International Wine Competition in 2011 and a bronze in the 2009 World Value Wine Challenge.

There is a Firecracker Wine out there but again this is not crafted by a winery or vineyard. Instead the parent company is listed as Intercontinental Packaging. The Firecracker Wine website offers only two wines: a Firecracker Red Blend and a Firecracker Fusion White. According to the webpage, the wines are “crafted with innovative techniques” to “create intensely flavored wines that will make your mouth say ‘WOW!’” 

No boom but there is a Boom Boom wine available, thanks to Charles Smith Crafted from Syrah grapes grown in the Columbia Valley of Washington State, this wine is called “The Bomb” by the winemaker, and was crafted to be consumed immediately. (Take that as you please ...)

Oh Say Can You See
Tassel Ridge Winery in Leighton, Iowa produces two festive wines for the Fourth. Star Spangled White is a sweet wine made from Edelweiss grapes grown in their Iowa vineyard. Red, White & Blue is a sweet red crafted from Concord grapes.

Apparently no one thought that “independence” was a good name for a winery, vineyard, or wine. As close as we get is the Texas Independence Wine Trail, which boasts 8 wineries on it. Definitely an independent way to spend your day.

When All Else Fails
If there’s no time to find a festively named wine for your holiday gathering, you can always fall back on the standard: White wine with lunch; red wine with dinner and a nice Blueberry dessert wine for the fireworks! Just pour a glass and join in the celebration!

Happy Independence Day, America!
~ Joy