Thursday, October 30, 2008



To fully understand why wine develops certain characteristics, you would have to have degrees in chemistry and agriculture and worked in the vineyard for many years. This article is not about why, but about how we taste and flavors that are possible in wines. Not everyone will be able to have the same results when testing wine, but will have fun in the trying!

Humans have 5 traditional senses: sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch. Taste and smell are the two “chemical” related senses that determine what flavors you detect when drinking wine. Taste, a sensory function of the central nervous system, is sensed by the 9000 taste buds on the surface of the tongue. Scientists have discovered that taste is divided into four parts: bitter, salty, sour and sweet. Smell is determined by olfactory receptors in your nose. When taste and smell combine, the brain defines what the flavor is.


Alcohol – When the alcohol content is too high, it will produce a hot or burning sensation in the nose, back in the throat and/or on the roof of the mouth.

Cork not completely in the neck of the bottle – A sign of a wine long past its prime or a wine that has maderized (see Maderized)

Corked ­– Mold growth, caused by bacteria eating chlorine bleached corks, produces an astringent, no flavor and harsh finish in wine. Or, it could produce a paint thinner, wet basement, dirty sock or moldy taste.

Lightstruck – Long exposure to an ultraviolet light will produce a wet cardboard taste.

Maderized – When wine is stored in too hot an environment, it bakes. Instead of a good dry wine, the flavor will be similar to Maderia wine, with a taste of almonds and candied fruit.

Oxidized – When wine is exposed to too much air, it becomes flat and weak with an unappealing flavor or color. It will turn a yellowish or brownish color and taste like vinegar.

Tannin – When wine is overexposed to the skin and seeds of grapes or left in an oak barrel too long, tannin leaves a bitter astringent taste on the tongue, gums and cheeks of the drinker. Depending on how much tannin is in the wine, it could produce a fine, round, smooth, gritty, coarse or angular tasting wine. Wine with too much tannin is called “Hard Wine”.

The next two parts of this article will discuss red and white wine facts.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Grapes are mostly water and sugar. Most wine is made from grapes. But it can also be made from fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers. When yeast is added to the crushed pulp, fermentation converts the sugars into alcohol. Different amounts of water, sugar, alcohol, and 400 known compounds contribute to the flavor, aroma and color of the different types of wine.
Based on their color, wines are classified as red, rose’ or white. They range in color from straw to brown.
Each type can be either sweet or dry. Sweet wines have a high sugar content. Dry wines lack sweetness because little or no sugar is in the wine or it could have a high acidity content.
There are three types of wine:
1) Table wine – a natural or distilled red, rose’ or white wine that has an alcohol content from 7% to 15%.
2) Sparkling wine – mostly white (but sometimes red or rose’) effervescent or bubbling wine with an alcohol content of 7% to 15%.
3) Fortified wine (also known as dessert wine) – red or white wine that contains brandy with an alcohol content of 16% to 23%. Wines with additional flavoring added during the aging process are known as aromatic wines.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


It’s a beautiful sight to see one hundred or more bottles of wine being stored properly. But, it does take a few dollars and some time and effort on your part, to do it right. For most of us, a collection of 5 to 10 bottles will suffice for all our needs. There are beautiful wine bottle stands, that sit on counters or floors that can keep your bottles safe until you use them. Obviously, if you use stands, you will not be concerned with what this article is about. The only suggestion we would make is that in the summer months, move the stand to the coolest place available and enjoy a great bottle of wine…SALUTE!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


A slow change of 10 degrees per year will not adversely affect stored wine. A change of 10 degrees per day or week will cause the wine to age prematurely.
Best Solution: Keep the wine between the following temperatures:
Red Wine: 550F to 650F
White Wine: 500F to 560F
Rose Wine: 490F to 510F
Champagne: 530F to 590F
Sparkling Wine: around 400F
If using one compartment for multiple types of wine: around 600F
Part 6: Conclusion

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Wine ages by fermentation. Fermentation needs a cool, dark and damp environment. If your storage area is always lit with strong light, or windows allow sunlight to touch the wine bottles, the wine may age faster than normal. The acid, tannins and sugars that define the characteristics of the wine, will not have enough time to fully balance.
Best solution: Store in a dark room or cabinet and use only dim light when necessary to view your selection of stored wine. If using a glass door, get the glass tinted dark.
Part 5: Temperature

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Wine ages best when left undisturbed. This allows the sediment to settle to the bottom of the bottle and lets the wine develop a balanced taste. Correctly stored wine is lying horizontally, with the neck tilted slightly downward. If you need to read the label to decide which bottle you would like to open, keep the bottle horizontal as you remove it from the shelf. Read the label while the bottle is still horizontal. This way, if you don’t use that bottle, you can replace it on the shelf with very little shaking of the wine, and the sediment can continue to settle, aging the wine.
In some cabinet wine coolers, the starting and stopping of some motors used to run the lights, fans and humidifiers, can cause excessive shelf vibrations.
Best Solution: Check manufacturer’s specs and get the lowest vibration motor possible for what you need and don’t move wine bottles more than necessary.
Part 4: Lighting

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


While corks seem to be made of solid material, they are actually made up of hundreds of air pockets which allow air to pass through. If not kept moist, cork will dry out, shrink and become brittle. Cork is compressed into the neck of the wine bottle to make as tight a seal as possible against the glass, allowing little air to penetrate into the wine. Allowed to dry out, the cork will shrink, air will enter the wine and turn the wine sour or into vinegar – quite undrinkable.
Best Solutions:
1) Bottle Angle DO NOT STORE WINE BOTTLES UPRIGHT! An easy (and cheap) way to keep the cork wet is to lay the wine bottle on its side horizontally and slightly tip the bottle neck downward enough to completely cover the bottom of the cork in the wine bottle neck. This will keep the cork moist and air away from the wine.
2) Moisture Easiest done in a small enclosed environment, use a humidifier to keep the ideal humidity of 70%. If you can’t get it exactly at 70%, try to keep the humidity between 50% and 80%. This will keep corks moist and air away from the wine.

Since wet corks are full of air pockets and will absorb surrounding odors, you must be concerned about the odors in the air around the corks.
AIR QUALITY Keep the air clean and odorless to prevent the cork from absorbing any strong odors (such as fried onions or garlic from the kitchen) or musty smells (from a damp basement) and hence, tainting the wine.
Best Solution: Use a circulating fan.
Part 3: Moving Wine

Sunday, October 12, 2008



Whether you buy 10 bottles or a thousand bottles of wine, if you don’t drink the wine within 6 months, you should be aware of the proper method for storing the bottles correctly. Storing wine incorrectly can lead to spoilage or premature aging of the wine.
Correct method to store wine can be said in one sentence:
Store wine bottles tilted downward on a vibration free shelf, (so the wine is in complete contact with the cork), in a cool, dark, damp area, surrounded with odorless air at a temperature varying no more than 10 degrees between 40F to 65F, with 70% humidity.
In this series of six articles, we will discuss how your storage environment can affect the quality of the stored wine. The first and probably the most important item is the cork in the neck of the bottle and how humidity and the quality of the air can affect that cork. Proper lighting, correct temperature range, and stability of the shelving that your bottles rest on will also determine if the wine you so carefully chose will last for years or easily become very undrinkable in a very short time.
Part 2: Wet Corks