A useful guide
* Look for the increasingly popular screw-cap, as opposed to the cork. The problem with natural corks is that a moldy spoilage can occur in the wine (in 3-5% of natural corked bottles!) because of a reaction that sometimes occurs in the cork. Synthetic corks have attempted to solve this problem, but they are much harder to remove and cannot be used to re-seal the bottles. Old habits die hard, but more and more wineries are switching to the screw-cap.
* Certain wines are better at certain temperatures. For example, a freezing cold Chardonnay will lose much of its taste. Keep these guidelines in mind:
- Whites should be served cold between 43°F and 53°F. This can be done by chilling the bottle in ice for an hour before serving. You do not want to keep a glass of white wine in the refrigerator for long periods of time.
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.Sparkling wines and champagnes should be served cooler, around 45°F.
- Although room temperature is ok, red wines should really be served between 55°F and 65°F, or cellar temperature.
* Despite its reputation for pretension, invest in some quality stemware if you want to truly enjoy wine. The right glass will truly enhance the flavor of the wine and your appreciation of it. Wine glasses need to have a large cup or "bowl" to allow the wine to breathe, because the interaction with the air releases all the wines aromas and flavors.
Removing Red Wine Stains- Truly essential information in the enjoyment of wine.
* White wine- Ironically the best stain-fighter for red wine, white wine will neutralize the wine and make it easier to remove. Simply pour some on the stain and blot gently with a rag. Don't rub or you will force the stain deeper into the clothing or carpet fibers. After blotting up most of the wine, simply clean with your favorite carpet cleaner or stain-fighter as normal.
* Club Soda- The carbonation in club soda helps to lift the wine from the fibers.
* Salt- Salt acts as a buffer to keep the stain from setting while you look for other cleaning options.
Barberra- This deep red wine comes most successfully from the Piedmont of Italy, and is heavily planted in the Central Valley of California because of its ability to withstand high temperatures. A full body, luscious berry flavors and crispness from the high acidity characterize this wine.
Cabernet Sauvignon- These full bodied, intensely flavored red wines tend to improve with aging, often spending 15 to 30 months aging in oak barrels. Such aging gives the wine toasted vanilla and cedar tastes, while the wine also features plum, black cherry, and spice elements. Now the most widely planted grape in the world, the Cabernet Sauvignon grape actually come from a cross between two French varieties: Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc.
Merlot- A softer and much less intense red wine than cabernet that is ready to drink sooner. The dry smoothness of the wine makes it a popular choice in restaurants. Merlot is often mixed with cabernet to soften its acidity. Descriptions of the wine's tastes include many of the same as cabernet and green olive, herbs, and chocolate. The Merlot grape responds well to cooler climates making it very versatile.
Pinot Noir- Widely regarded as the most difficult grape to grow, this delicate wine is logically one of the most sought after varieties of wine, originating in the Burgundy region of France. This elegant wine can include elements of raisin, black cherry, and strawberry.