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Avoid Common Wine Myths

Jan 26, 2010

If you have ever wondered what is fact or fiction regarding all of the many preconceived notions about wine, you are not alone. There are a staggering amount of theories about wine and many of them change on a regular basis and depending on who you ask and what day it is.

If you have ever wondered what is fact or fiction regarding all of the many preconceived notions about wine, you are not alone. There are a staggering amount of theories about wine and many of them change on a regular basis and depending on who you ask and what day it is.

Better Tasting Wine decided to take a closer look at some popular myths about wine.

1. Wine goes best with cheese?

Contrary to common practice, great wines should not be accompanied by cheese. Cheese's heavy texture and taste rid the tongue of its ability to fully enjoy the richness and balance of a good wine.

2. Vintage wine means expensive wine?

Vintage wine is a wine with a "birth year". The term has been commonly misused to describe expensive wine. When in reality, most non-sparkling wines are vintage wines.

3. Slow dripping wine legs indicate a better quality wine?

The wine's legs (the "tears" that flow down on wine glass when you swirl) indicate the full-bodiness of the wine but give no indication of the wine's quality. Fuller-bodied wines generally have slower dripping legs.

4. Letting a bottle of uncorked wine sit for an hour can make the wine taste better?

Uncorking a bottle of wine and letting it sit for an hour is surely the worst way to treat yourself and your wine. Not only can you not drink the wine for an hour, the aerating method is ineffective. The narrow bottleneck simply prevents air from opening up the wine.

5. France is the country that produces the most wine?

Italy though smaller in size than France and California is the world's largest wine producing country. With ~20 wine regions stretching from its north and south end, Italy also offers the most variety of wines.

6. Cabernet Sauvignon is the most planted grape?

"Cab" might be the most well-known type of red but definitely not the most planted grape. There are more merlot grapes planted in the world than any other red or white grapes.

7. Wine tastes much better with age?

This is true for premium, high quality wines, but not true for many wines. As a general rule of thumb; Inexpensive, dry white wines should be consumed within one to three years of its production year. Inexpensive red wines should be consumed in one to two years.

8. Red wine causes more headaches than white wine because of its higher sulfites content?

Contrary to popular beliefs, sulfites (or sulfur dioxide) do not cause headaches. Our bodies produce sulfites each day. Sulfites can also be found as a preservative in many common daily foods. However, to those with asthmatic issues, sulfites can induce a reaction.

Red wines have less added sulfites than white wines as their grape skins have natural preservative ability. Cheap, low alcohol white wines require more sulfites to prevent oxidation.

9. Storing an unfinished bottle of wine in the fridge is an effective way to preserve it?

While great for white wines, putting intense red wines into the fridge will tone down its flavour and acidity. Even after warming, the wine will not taste the same.

 

Finding Your Wine Style

Jan 20, 2010

"What type of wine do you like?" This is likely the first question you'll be asked at any wine retailer but what if you're looking for something new, something different than your usual? This particular question is far too general and it may be difficult for you to communicate just what you are looking for. This Detailed Wine Search is a uselful tool to get you started but beyond that, there a few more things to consider while assessing your own tastes.

"What type of wine do you like?" This is likely the first question you'll be asked at any wine retailer but what if you're looking for something new, something different than your usual? This particular question is far too general and it may be difficult for you to communicate just what you are looking for. This Detailed Wine Search is a uselful tool to get you started but beyond that, there a few more things to consider while assessing your own tastes.

Discovering your palate is simply a matter of tasting a variety of wines and deciding what you like and don't like. There is no wine that is one-size-fits-all because every one has different tastes. Making note of your preferences will significantly improve your selection and experience of wine. As you taste wine, write down your impressions and look for patterns in your preferences. Wines have four basic components: taste, tannins, alcohol and acidity. Tastes can range from fruit, leather, spices, nutty, vanilla, or some combination of the above - what are your favorites? Do you prefer strong or subtle tannins, alcohol, and acidity? Do you like sweeter or dry wine? Answering these questions will generate a better understanding of what you like.

Finding your taste for wine is an ever evolving process as our senses change from time to time. Given our uniqueness there is no right or wrong when it comes to choosing a wine that you like. In the end it's really up to your taste buds to decide.

Below is a quick quiz from Food and Wine Magazine to help further familiarize yourself with finding your wine style:

 

1. Which do you drink?

WHOLE MILK: Go for richer, more full-bodied wine—California Chardonnay, for instance.

SKIM MILK: You like lighter-style wines, such as an Italian Pinot Grigio.

2. Which do you prefer?

GRAPEFRUIT JUICE: You like things with high acidity—for whites, that means varieties like Sauvignon Blanc or Riesling.

ORANGE JUICE: You prefer sweeter, riper flavors, try an Australian Chardonnay.

3. Which would you rather have on a steak?

CRACKED BLACK PEPPER: Try spicy Old World reds, like a Montagnac Syrah.

BEARNAISE SAUCE: You want a lush, smooth California Merlot.

4. Which sounds more appealing?

BLACK TRUFFLES: You're a fan of earthy, funky umami flavors. Drink a Chilean Pinot Noir from the Old World.

BLACKBERRIES: You love fruit. New World reds are your thing: Australian Shiraz.

 

For a more detailed quiz on finding your wine personality, click here to take a 20 question quiz from Food and Wine.

(References: Food and Wine, Cellar Notes. Photo Credit: Stacy Brady)

 

Wine 101-Learning the Terms

Jan 14, 2010

Learning about wine may seem like a daunting process but it doesn't have to be. By familiarizing yourself with a few wine terms you can easily remove the mystique. Perhaps the simplest beginning for anyone looking to build their knowledge of wine is with the glossary below. This list provides a general understanding of some commonly referred to wine terms and although it's certainly not necessary to remember all of these terms, knowing just a handful is a good place to start.

Learning about wine may seem like a daunting process but it doesn't have to be. By familiarizing yourself with a few wine terms you can easily remove the mystique. Perhaps the simplest beginning for anyone looking to build their knowledge of wine is with the glossary below. This list provides a general understanding of some commonly referred to wine terms and although it's certainly not necessary to remember all of these terms, knowing just a handful is a good place to start.

Acid: An aspect of taste in a wine. Sometimes described as sour or tart. The taste buds that detect acid are on the sides of the tongue. The acidity of a wine is an important component that should be in proper balance. Proper acidity provides crispness and life to the wine.

Appellation: The specific area a wine comes from. It can refer to a region, such as Bordeaux or Burgundy in France, for example. It can refer to an even more tightly defined sub-region within, say, Bordeaux, such as The Médoc.

Balance: Harmony or "being in tune" among the various components of wine, fruit, tannins, alcohol and acidity.

Barrel Aging: The process of maturing wines in a barrel for months after fermentation.

Barrel Fermentation: Winemaking technique whereby alcoholic fermentation results in a barrel (usually oak).

Big: A wine that is powerful in flavor or tremendously harmonious in how it presents its components (see "balance") can be called big. You can also use this term if you just really really like the wine!

Body: The texture and weight of a wine. The more substantial and flavorful a wine tastes, the more body it has.

Bordeaux: The most important wine region in France. Wines from this area are called "Bordeaux". Red wines from Bordeaux are primarily blends of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. White wines from the region are usually blends of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon.

Bouquet: The array of aromas in a wine. Also known as "the nose".

Brut: Refers to dry Champagne or Sparkling Wine. The authorities in the Champagne region of France use this term to denote added sugar.

Cava: The name for Sparkling Wine (similar to Champagne) from Spain.

Chablis: White wine from the Chablis area of France. Made from Chardonnay grapes.

Champagne: An important region of France, most known for its production of the only sparkling wine that can truly be called Champagne. The méthode champenoise was invented there.

Chewy: A way of describing especially thick texture and/or tannins in red wine.

Claret (Clairet): In England, "Claret" refers to English-style Bordeaux or wines from Bordeaux. In France "Clairet" is a particular Bordeaux that is produced like red wine but the must stays in contact with the skins for the first 24 hours during its making.

Complex: In wine-speak, this is a positive term, referring to lots of different flavor and aroma components in a wine. Dry/Off

Dry: Little or no sugar = "dry", slightly sweeter = "off dry".

Fermentation: A process whereby yeast acts on the sugars in ripe grapes to produce alcohol.

Icewine: A special wine produced by leaving the grapes on the vine until they are well frozen. They are then hand-picked and immediately pressed, while still frozen. The frozen must is then fermented and aged in barrels. Icewine is thick and sweet with rich and complex flavors.

Late Harvest: Indicates grapes that are picked as late as possible in the season for maximum sugar content.

Malolactic: Often used in the making of Chardonnay; an additional fermentation that turns malic acids into lactic acids. Compare apples vs. creamy vanilla.

Oak: Wine is often aged in oak barrels to add that distinctive "oaky" flavor. The process can add a hint of vanilla and butter to whites and tobacco, coffee or simply "oak" flavor to reds.

Sediment: The pieces of debris at the bottom of a bottle aged wine that has not been filtered. One of the reasons for decanting a wine. 

Sommelier: In a fine restaurant, this is the person responsible for only the wine selection and is able to assist you with selecting a wine with dinner.

Tannin: This taste sensation comes from seeds, stems and skins of grapes, imparting a "pucker" to the taste as well as complexity and structure.

Varietal: Refers to wine made from a specific grape variety like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Chardonnay.

Vintage: The year in which the grapes were harvested.

 

Wine Glossary Adapted from: Wine and Leisure.com Photo Credit: Vermont Culinary exchange

Hosting a Cheese Fondue Party

Jan 12, 2010

The Christmas and New Years excitement has come and gone. What better way to cure the winter blahs than gathering with a few friends and family for an enjoyable get together around the fondue pot? The classic cheese fondue party is always fun, interactive and a guaranteed hit with everyone.

The Christmas and New Years excitement has come and gone. What better way to cure the winter blahs than gathering with a few friends and family for an enjoyable get together around the fondue pot? The classic cheese fondue party is always fun, interactive and a guaranteed hit with everyone.

According to the ultimate hostess, Martha Stewart, there are a few rules to follow at any fondue party: 

Rule 1: If a woman drops her bread in the fondue pot, she has to kiss every man at the table.

Rule 2: If a man drops his bread in the fondue pot, he has to give a bottle of wine for everyone at the table (that's where Just Fine Wine comes in handy!).

Rule 3: If someone drops two pieces of bread in the pot, they have to plan the next fondue party.

Martha's Tip: Make sure you invite men you want to kiss to your fondue party.

Recipe:

8 ounces Gruyere cheese, cut into 1/4-inch cubes (about 1 3/4 cups)

4 ounces aged Emmental cheese, cut into 1/4-inch cubes (about 1 cup)

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

1 1/3 cups medium-bodied white wine, such as Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc

1 tablespoon kirsch (cherry brandy)

2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Sourdough bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 8 cups), for serving

Assorted vegetables, cut into pieces, for serving

Directions:

1. Toss cheeses in a medium bowl with flour, cayenne pepper, and white pepper to coat, and set aside. Heat wine in a fondue pot over medium-low heat until it starts to bubble, about 5 minutes.

2. Stir in cheese mixture, a little at a time. Stir in kirsch. Continue to cook, stirring, until cheese has melted, up to 20 minutes. Stir in lemon juice. The mixture should be smooth and almost bubbling. Transfer pot to its stand set over a burner. Serve immediately with bread and vegetables.

Serves 6

(Recipe and Photo from Martha Stewart)

January Limited Editions Now Available!

Jan 7, 2010

The wait is over...well almost. The first two varieties of the greatest line-up of Limited Editions ever offered are now in store and ready to start. For any and all who pre-ordered the South African Shiraz or California Lake County Trio Blanca, please drop by the shop to get your batches under way. Then in a mere 8 weeks and you'll once again be sipping on two of the most popular Limited Editions of all time!

The wait is over...well almost. The first two varieties of the greatest line-up of Limited Editions ever offered are now in store and ready to start. For any and all who pre-ordered the South African Shiraz or California Lake County Trio Blanca, please drop by the shop to get your batches under way. Then in a mere 8 weeks and you'll once again be sipping on two of the most popular Limited Editions of all time!

 

 

January South African Shiraz

(Originally offered in January 2006)
The Region: Stellenbosch is South Africa’s oldest growing region, the centre for study of viticulture and oenology in Africa, and the heart of the wine industry. Famous for its stunning natural beauty, it has soaring mountains, forests, vineyards, olive groves and veldts. South Africa’s finest red wines thrive in the Cape’s moderate climate, and the Shiraz from this region is dense with jammy richness, intense fruit, and complex spiciness.
The Wine:This wine has a dense, chewy blackberry, earthiness and robust character. This medium/full bodied wine almost begs for early drinking, with spice and rich fruit, but the bold tannins and rich jamminess (typical of Shiraz) will allow it to improve with age for a further 2 years.
The Food: The pepper, plums and red fruit aromas and abundant tannins blend wonderfully with barbecue, grilled red meat and stews.
Sweetness Code: 0
  

January California Lake County Trio Blanca (Dry)

(Originally offered in January 2005)
The Region: In California’s Lake County, the vineyards nestle in steep hills in the west, while Clear Lake, directly east, moderates the blistering heat of summer, ensuring slow, even ripening and perfect grapes.
The Wine: A unique blend of three grapes, Selection Limited Edition Trio Blanca is an outstanding white wine that showcases bright fruit flavours, excellent structure, and a long finish. Pinot Blanc contributes the delicate floral character and full body while Chenin Blanc gives a wonderful melony-honeyed aroma with hints of apple. The third grape variety, Sauvignon Blanc contributes zesty acidity and aromas of gooseberry and herbs. After six months ageing, the Sauvignon Blanc will dominate with zest and crispness. After a year, the Chenin Blanc‘s honey and melon will come out, and at 18 months to two years the Pinot Blanc will show a perfumed floweriness and
lingering structure.
The Food: Enjoy by itself or serve Trio Blanca with seafood, chicken or vegetarian dishes.
Sweetness Code: 0

Mimosa-A Perfect Cocktail for any Celebration

Dec 17, 2009

The Mimosa is a popular cocktail dating back as far as the 1920's and is most commonly served at brunch but is the perfect cocktail for any celebration. A traditional mimosa consists of chilled champagne or sparkling wine and orange juice, served in a champagne flute. While the original mimosa is delicious in it's own right, modern day time has extended the mimosa to a variety of flavors that are only limited by one's imagination.

The Mimosa is a popular cocktail dating back as far as the 1920's and is most commonly served at brunch but is the perfect cocktail for any celebration. A traditional mimosa consists of chilled champagne or sparkling wine and orange juice, served in a champagne flute. While the original mimosa is delicious in it's own right, modern day time has extended the mimosa to a variety of flavors that are only limited by one's imagination.

Mimosas are wonderfully festive and even better, they are so simple to make. In lieu of orange juice, some popular alternatives are raspberry, grapefruit, pear and quite fittingly for this time of year, cranberry. Many variations also welcome a splash of Triple Sec or Grand Marnier which always add a little extra joy to any occasion. Serve mimosas at your next gathering and you can guarantee a great time will be had by all.

Mimosa Recipe:

1/2 cup juice, such as any of the above suggestions, chilled

2 cups champagne or sparkling wine, chilled

4 tablespoons Triple Sec or Grand Marnier

Directions:

1. Place 1 tablespoon of Triple Sec in each champagne flute.

2. Top with 2 tablespoons of the juice and 1/2 cup of champagne.

3. Serve garnished with a slice or berry of the juice you use.

Serves 4

 

(Photo Courtesy of The Food Network)


Share in the Experience

Nov 17, 2009

Whether on Facebook, Twitter, or via good old-fashioned conversation, we spend a lot of time sharing things that are important in our lives with family and friends. From the latest pictures of our children and grandchildren to tall tales of holes-in-one, we all have things we enjoy “showing off” to those around us. If we have a great meal at a new restaurant, or see an exciting new movie, we tell our friends so that they may enjoy it as well. For those of you that have been making exceptional wines with Winexpert, your knowledge and experience of winemaking is a fantastic thing to share. Your outstanding wines of quality are a fraction of the cost of premium store-bought wines. All Winexpert’s products have a 100% satisfaction guarantee, ensuring great wine, every time. Share your winemaking experience with your friends that have never made wine before and bring them to your local Winexpert Authorized Retailer to show them how fun winemaking can be. There are many ways you can enjoy winemaking with friends, such as organizing food/wine pairings and informal tastings/competitions together or trading and sharing the wines you have made. You can even make wines together and submit them to competitions such as the WineMaker International Amateur Wine Competition and win a medal for yourself. Great wines, great friends, great lifestyle – now that’s something worth sharing!

Whether on Facebook, Twitter, or via good old-fashioned conversation, we spend a lot of time sharing things that are important in our lives with family and friends. From the latest pictures of our children and grandchildren to tall tales of holes-in-one, we all have things we enjoy “showing off” to those around us. If we have a great meal at a new restaurant, or see an exciting new movie, we tell our friends so that they may enjoy it as well. For those of you that have been making exceptional wines with Winexpert, your knowledge and experience of winemaking is a fantastic thing to share. Your outstanding wines of quality are a fraction of the cost of premium store-bought wines. All Winexpert’s products have a 100% satisfaction guarantee, ensuring great wine, every time. Share your winemaking experience with your friends that have never made wine before and bring them to your local Winexpert Authorized Retailer to show them how fun winemaking can be. There are many ways you can enjoy winemaking with friends, such as organizing food/wine pairings and informal tastings/competitions together or trading and sharing the wines you have made. You can even make wines together and submit them to competitions such as the WineMaker International Amateur Wine Competition and win a medal for yourself. Great wines, great friends, great lifestyle – now that’s something worth sharing!

Celebrate 20 years of Limited Edition

Oct 1, 2009

Each year, from January to April, Winexpert releases limited quantities of five very special wine varieties of award winning quality. It’s hard to believe, but 2009 marks the 20th Anniversary of the industry leading Selection Limited Edition program. For this year’s release, to commemorate the occasion, Winexpert will be bringing back five of the most popular Selection Limited Edition varieties of all time providing winemakers with the greatest line-up of Limited Editions ever offered!

Each year, from January to April, Winexpert releases limited quantities of five very special wine varieties of award winning quality. It’s hard to believe, but 2009 marks the 20th Anniversary of the industry leading Selection Limited Edition program. For this year’s release, to commemorate the occasion, Winexpert will be bringing back five of the most popular Selection Limited Edition varieties of all time providing winemakers with the greatest line-up of Limited Editions ever offered!

Don't forget to try out our Limited Edition game and contest at www.limitededition20.com.

January South African Shiraz

(Originally offered in January 2006)
The Region: Stellenbosch is South Africa’s oldest growing region, the centre for study of viticulture and oenology in Africa, and the heart of the wine industry. Famous for its stunning natural beauty, it has soaring mountains, forests, vineyards, olive groves and veldts. South Africa’s finest red wines thrive in the Cape’s moderate climate, and the Shiraz from this region is dense with jammy richness, intense fruit, and complex spiciness.
The Wine: This wine has a dense, chewy blackberry, earthiness and robust character. This medium/full bodied wine almost begs for early drinking, with spice and rich fruit, but the bold tannins and rich jamminess (typical of Shiraz) will allow it to improve with age for a further 2 years.
The Food: The pepper, plums and red fruit aromas and abundant tannins blend wonderfully with barbecue, grilled red meat and stews.
Sweetness Code: 0
  

January California Lake County Trio Blanca (Dry)

(Originally offered in January 2005)
The Region: In California’s Lake County, the vineyards nestle in steep hills in the west, while Clear Lake, directly east, moderates the blistering heat of summer, ensuring slow, even ripening and perfect grapes.
The Wine: A unique blend of three grapes, Selection Limited Edition Trio Blanca is an outstanding white wine that showcases bright fruit flavours, excellent structure, and a long finish. Pinot Blanc contributes the delicate floral character and full body while Chenin Blanc gives a wonderful melony-honeyed aroma with hints of apple. The third grape variety, Sauvignon Blanc contributes zesty acidity and aromas of gooseberry and herbs. After six months ageing, the Sauvignon Blanc will dominate with zest and crispness. After a year, the Chenin Blanc‘s honey and melon will come out, and at 18 months to two years the Pinot Blanc will show a perfumed floweriness and
lingering structure.
The Food: Enjoy by itself or serve Trio Blanca with seafood, chicken or vegetarian dishes.
Sweetness Code: 0

  

February Australian Petit Verdot

(Originally offered in April 2004)
The Region: South East Australia is a literal hotbed of grape growing. The abundant sunshine hours and heat allow growers to ripen varieties that have all but been abandoned by growing regions less blessed. Petit Verdot is one such variety. It makes unsurpassed red wines in Bordeaux, where it goes into their classic Cabernet-Merlot blends, yet the climate there is too cool to ripen it reliably.
The Wine: Best described as a ‘Super Cabernet’, it makes dark, rich wines, with wonderfully concentrated flavours of spice, blackberry and blackcurrant. With smooth, gripping tannins and an elegant structure leading to a magnificent boldly oaked finish, this is a wine for long term ageing and special occasions.
The Food: Excellent when paired with steak, prime rib, lamb, intense cheeses, and game.
Sweetness Code: 0
  

March Pacific Quartet (Off-dry)

(Originally offered in March 2007)
The Region: The Pacific Coast of North America has micro-climates that match those of the blazing sunshine of the Mediterranean to the crisp mountain air of the upper Rhine. With so much range and variety, there is a perfect terroir for almost any grape you can name.
The Wine: This wine showcases bright fruit, excellent structure and a long finish. Vidal from British Columbia gives spiciness and stone fruit. Chenin Blanc from California gives a wonderful melony-honeyed aroma with hints of apple. Gewürztraminer from Washington contributes lychee, rose petals and floral notes, and Muscat from Australia’s Murray- Darling Valley gives wonderful grapey notes with dried fruit and hints of orange peel.
The Food: This wine has a range of fruit character and enough acidity to stand up to a wide range of foods, particularly spicy and savoury dishes, including Thai cuisine, grilled fish, herbed roast chicken or barbecued salmon. Although delicious right on bottling day, drinking it early would prevent it from showing it’s best–after six months the Muscat and Vidal will dominate with spicy/grapey notes, after a year the Chenin Blanc’s honey and melon will come out, and at 18 months to two years the Gewürztraminer will show a perfumed floweriness and lush structure.
Sweetness Code: 1 (off dry)
  

April Italian Brunello

(Originally offered in April 2007)
The Region: Italy’s long, narrow peninsula reaches deep into the Mediterranean,
basking in the relentless sunshine and welcoming warmth. Gentle sloping hillsides, rich mineral soils, the moderating breezes off of the Mediterranean waters and unique grape varieties work to make wonderful wines.
The Wine: Brunello is a large-berried variety of the Sangiovese grape, most famous in Brunello di Montalcino. The flavour profile of Sangiovese is fruity, with strong natural acidity, a firm and elegant assertiveness and a robust finish that can extend surprisingly long. The aroma is generally subtle, with cherry, strawberry, blueberry, and violet notes. Medium-bodied but boldly tannic and intense, this gripping wine will begin to open up after six months, but the richer flavours will take at least 18 months to show, with cherry and spice dominating the long, fruity finish.
The Food: Brunello shines in the company of assertively flavoured foods. Hard cheeses such as Asiago and Parmigiano Reggiano are splendid accompaniments and the wines backbone of acids and tannins make it work well with rich and spicy foods like Italian sausages or lasagna.
Sweetness Code: 0