Monday, August 31, 2009

WHY WINE: CORKSCREWS: part two: 'types'

The basic corkscrew has a pointed metal helix, called a worm, and a crossbar used for pulling the cork out of the neck of the wine bottle. This is accomplished by screwing the worm into the cork and pulling the cork up and out of the wine bottle. The only fault with this kind of corkscrew is that it take a lot of strength to pull the cork out, while holding the bottle down.

An improvement on this design was to have something on the bottle to hold the bottle down while you pull up. There are two popular versions of this improvement:

1) The wing corkscrew (also referred to as the butterfly or angel corkscrew) is most common in households. It has 2 levers on either side of the worm, which goes through a metal ring (or collar) that sits on top of the bottle neck. As you screw the worm into the cork, the force between the worm, ring, bottle and cork, makes the cork loosen and begin to rise out of the bottle. (If you need to know more detail - please see a physics teacher). This also causes the levers to rise. When the levers are up, you push the down and the cork will rise further. Continue to do this until you can pull the cork completely out of the wine bottle. Another feature of this type of wine bottle opener is that usually a bottle opener is fashioned on the top of the worm shaft.

2) The sommelier knife (also referred to as the waiter's friend), is a bottle wine opener most commonly used in restaurants by waiters and waitresses. It folds up like a pocket knife. The crossbar for gripping has a hinged worm, a bracing arm to hook onto the neck of the wine bottle to assist in the lifting out of the cork, and a small knife used to remove the foil cap.

In modern times, the wine bottle openers are just variations of these designs. With the introduction of gas driven worms and electricity, you no longer need to expend any energy to remove the cork. They have become very fast, efficient and automatic, but not as romantic as opening a bottle of wine over a candle light dinner.

Why Wine: The Corkscrew pt. 1

This is a re-post from November, 2008. This is part 1 of 2.
Will post part 2 tomorrow (corkscrew types)


Wine bottle openers or corkscrews are gadgets used to remove corks from the neck of wine bottles. Gun manufacturers in 17th century England, sold an accessory with their muskets and pistols called a bullet removing "worm". It was a long spiraled piece of metal that could remove unspent charges from the barrel of their weapon.

Corks in that century, were used to seal barrels of beer and cider. The corks were long enough to grasp with their fingers. This allowed the user to open and reseal the cask as needed. In the 18th century, wineries discovered that by using bottles and putting the entire cork into the neck of the wine bottle to prevent air from entering the bottle, wine could be kept for longer periods of time. This lead to the ability to "age wine" and transport the wine long distances.

The bullet removing worm was used to remove the cork and became known as a corkscrew. Not only did this give the gun manufactures a sideline which became very profitable, but it allowed the wine industry to increase dramatically. The aging of the wine created much better tasting wines. This lead to a higher demand for these wines, which lead to more production of wine and higher prices for the "aged wine".

Today, wine bottle openers come in all shapes and sizes from the basic corkscrew to the complicated carbon dioxide driven openers. Simple wine bottle openers cost about $2.00. The professional wine bottle openers that restaurants, bars and wineries use, can cost $2,500 or more.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Why Wine: Joeshico Wine Review; White Springs Gewurztraminer 2007

Well it's time to try a new wine, at least new to me. Before now I have never tasted Gewurztraminer. Please, no comments on that issue. It took me over 30 years to appreciate any white wine, and now that I do, I am trying them all.
Because this is a first, I purchased two Gewurztrminers from two different NY wine regions to compare differences, if any.
The first was OK and will be nice at a evening get-together, but not one I would bring to the party.
Green apple, honeysuckle, floral aromas and a bit citrusy, more like flat grapefruit in the mouth and a bit acidic or tart on the finish.
The second is more what I was expecting in a Gewurztraminer. Nice light, not overpowering, tropical fruit aromas. Mango and guava and a little peach with a hint of mineral. This was a Finger Lakes Gewurztraminer from White Springs Farm Estate Winery in Geneva, NY.
White Springs was the first booth I visited at a recent Winefest and the last one I visited that day to pick up what I believed were the best whites at the festival.
What is really nice about this wine is that every aroma was evident on the tongue. All the fruits, the mango, the guava, peach and passion fruit, like a delicious fruit salad just lingered with a hint of sweetness, but dry, on a long enjoyable finish.
I have mentioned my son's lounge and restaurant before (will link to him when he gets a website). His menu has an indonesian flair with a lot of curry and spices. He allows me, for a modest corkage fee, to bring in my own wines. Next dinner out I will bring the Gewurztraminer from White Springs. After all at only $15

Take it from an amateur wine lover......Great Buy!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Why Wine: Joeshico Wine Review; Two Great Organic Rioja's

With ample experience in making and aging great wines dating back to 1964, Santiago Ijalba García left his position as general and technical manager in a historic Haro bodega to launch his own personal project. In 1998 under his newly-incorporated company Santiago Ijalba S.A., he created the VIÑA HERMOSA brand. The bodega is situated in the small town of Gimileo, close to Ollauri and a mere four kilometers from Haro, the “capital of Rioja wine” and his home town. Today, the family bodega already includes a new generation. Young Roberto Ijalba Pérez’s passion for oenological innovation and cutting-edge trends are beginning to make their mark on the bodega’s wines.
Among the innovative trends is the production of organic wines such as the Mutuo 100% Tempranillo and the Mutuo Crianza, a blend of 85% Tempranillo, 10% Mazuelo and 5% Garnacha.

In searching out organic wines, I contacted Santiago Ijalba to find where their oraganic wines can be found. Through their importer PRGrisley, I was sent a sample of both wines.

The first night I opened the Crianza. There was no vintage date on the label or bottle, or a NV notetation. Based on what I found on the net, it is probably a 2004.
The aromas of black cherry and ripe plum come at you immediately after pouring. After a few swishes, a bit of licorice and some leather, but the fruits are very distinct. The color is a dark red almost purple.
In the mouth, very smooth and velvety and refreshing.
I had this wine with stuffed cabbage. That, I would not recommend. The wine worked with the stuffing of beef and rice and also with the tomato sauce, but stay away from the cabbage.
I would like to try this with my fave dish, chicken Parmesan.

The second night I had the 100% Tempranillo. Again there was no date anywhere on the bottle, but I'm guessing it is a 2006.
The color was a dark purple. The aromas were more berry like. Blackberry with a hint of spice and vanilla. Also got some egg-nog?? That's different.
In the mouth, more full bodied than the Crianza. Fruity and complex. Well balanced with a long silky finish. A lot less oak than the Crianza, which left me favoring the Crianza. I think this will do well with your Thanksgiving Turkey with cranberries and lots of veggies.

Only found these at PA State Stores, for under $20.
You can check with their importer (PRGrisley) for locations near you.
Both these wines are organic. I am not yet convinced that organic wines are any greater than those that are not, but I have yet to find one that is even so-so or just mediocre. I guess I'll just have to keep trying, but at under $20...

Take it from an amateur wine lover....Great Buy!


A re-post from December 24, 2008

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the Italians changed the Arabic word gharrafa, (a vessel used to hold coffee), to caraffa. But the Italians not only used it to hold coffee, they also used it to hold wine. In the 1700's, the French changed caraffa to carafe. Today, a carafe is a bottle shaped container, with a wide bottom and a flaring lip, used to hold beverages for immediate consumption. Most carafes also have narrower necks than the bottom or lip. There are three types of carafes:

1) Insulated carafes can hold either cold or hot liquids. Constructed like a thermos bottle, they have a glass inner liner, a metal or plastic outer shell, with an air pocket in between and a lid. The lid aids in keeping the liquid at a constant temperature, for an hour or more. But while the thermos bottle has a screw-on lid, the carafe lid will have one of three options: 1) If the carafe has a pouring lip, the lid that rests inside the lip will not have to be lifted. 2) A flip lids allows the user to open half of the lid when pouring the liquid. and 3) A pump lid is a lid that when pushed down, releases the liquid through a spigot attached to the lid.

2) A bedside glass carafe is used to keep water by the bed. This carafe holds one or two glasses of water and has a removable drinking glass that fits upside down on top of the carafe. These are still used today in hotels, bed & breakfasts, and by private individuals.

3) The last type of carafe holds liquids at room temperature, including oil and vinegar, fruit juice and wine as an example. At a restaurant, this allow the customer to pour the amount of liquid they desire. And at a party, allows the hostess to socialize with the guests, while the guests have access to the liquid at their convenience.

Today, carafes are made out of glass and crystal, metal such as copper, chrome, silver and stainless steel, plastic, ceramic and earthenware. They can be clear glass or colored, plain designed, cut-glass in the case of crystal, theme designed, monogrammed, or have your logo etched on the side. Carafes may be purchase to hold anywhere from 8 ounces to a magnum of wine. Available at wine shops, specialty stores, department stores and restaurant supply stores, expect to pay anywhere from $5 for a plastic carafe to $400 for a cut glass crystal carafe with four matching glasses.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Why Wine: Joeshico Wine Review; Lindemans Bin 40 Merlot 2007

Looking for great buys in wine? Just look to Australia. Don't know what's going on Down Under but right now some of the best buys for wine are Australian.
The Lindeman's Merlot 2007 was recommended by a friend this past week-end. Our wine taste profiles are about 180 deg. apart, so I was a little hesitant, but he hit this one right on the nail.

Tasting notes:
Colour: A bright crimson red colour moving towards plum, with distinct pinkish edges.
Nose: The generous nose is built on a core of ripe, sweet fruits with distinctly savoury elements of leaf and spice. Subtle oak characters add depth and complexity to an otherwise fruit driven nose.
Palate: A medium bodied palate is defined by abundantly ripe plum fruit, a touch of earth and trademark Merlot spice. The wine is smooth and supple, very much in the keeping with the modern style of Merlot. Silky smooth tannins provide structure, aided by the slightest hint of oak on the finish.

My notes:
I'm not finding the same color they did. Mine is almost a dark plum purple. No pink edges, which I did not expect with a young wine.

The Aromas are sweet and spicy. The aromas were more Beaujolais like than Merlot, but the fruitiness was more subtle.

This wine won me over on the Palate. Nice plum, dry earth and yes, this is a real nice Merlot.
Very light on the Merlot spiciness and very smooth. The finish was excellent.

Pair this with chocolate, tiramisu or a heavy Italian red sauce pasta. I'm having it right now with chocolate ice cream and loving it. My friend Shelly is really going to like this, only $7, so

take it from an amateur wine lover.....Great Buy!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Why Wine: Joeshico Wine Review; Henry Estate Oregon Pinot Noir 2006

Sometimes you just get lucky when searching out a wine. I dropped into a local shop this week and during a conversation with the shop owner I had asked if he had any wines from Oregon. He did. He actually had one. It was a Pinot Noir.
I have had some really nice Pinot's from Oregon before, but they were a bit pricey. Pricey, but good. Very comparable to French Burgundy in my opinion.
I wasn't really concerned about price, I just had a desire to try another Oregon wine, so I brought home a bottle of Henry Estate Oregon Pinot Noir 2006.

Winemakers Notes:

The aromas of sweet cherry with hints of earth and mint. The flavors of cherries and black pepper mixed with light, toasty overtones from the oak aging, compliment the overall ambiance of this wine. The lingering, forward finish allows our Oregon Pinot Noir to be matched with a variety of dishes such as beef, lamb, duck and most fish, especially salmon. The fruit flavors were pronounced enough at bottling to give a true enjoyable Pinot Noir experience immediately as well.

My Notes:
It is earthy with a little mint. It reminds me alot of teaberry ice cream and teaberry gum. Teaberry is a minty berry, sort of like wintergreen, found in Northeastern United States and very popular in Pennsylvania, especially at Heisler's Dairy Bar in Tamaqua. The taste was fruity with just a tad too much black pepper. I opened the bottle to have along with a grilled American cheese sandwich. Actually went very well together. Don't think I would have with any fish, but definitely a nice wine for lamb or a nice pork roast or even a good angus beef hamburger. This is also a nice wine to have when friends stop over for socializing with a little wine, cheese, crackers etc.

I haven't tasted that many Oregon Pinot's and what I have had were a bit pricey, but great wines. The Henry Estate is priced relatively low at $16, so

Take it from an amateur wine lover....Great Buy!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

For the Girls

About a month ago I was sent samples of beauty products for the skin. The products contained grape extracts from different varieties of grapes commonly used for the production of wine. Before anybody says anything I am not a regular user of beauty products (: I don't need them :), but my wife Shirley and daughter Pam do use them.
After a couple of weeks I asked them what they thought of the product. Shirley liked them and Pam just raved about them. Pam's favorite was the Cabernet salt scrub and the Chardonnay lotion, but she also liked the Chardonnay body butter.

On the nose, the aromas of pear and honey and a hint of Chardonnay were exquisite in both the lotion and the body butter.

On the skin, the salt scrub gave a feeling of deep cleaning and the lotion was very thick and non-greasy as was the body butter.

The finish left you feeling soft and luxurious.

I was very surprised by Pam's reaction. She travels the world with her job at Syracuse University and has amassed a small collection of skin products. It seems that there is always something new and always something different. She has already reminded me that she will soon be out of two of the Wine Country Naturals and would like me to order more.

For more info and ordering this great product from Wine Country here!