Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Storing Wine: What You Should Know


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.
Here 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.

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.

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.

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.
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

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…SALUD!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Sheldrake Point Dry Riesling 2011

Seems that whenever I start opening my Finger Lakes white wines, it gets a little difficult to stop.  I try to stick with red wines during the coldest time of the year, but lately, I've been putting my reds aside and finishing up my favorite white wines.
Tonight it was a multiple award winning Sheldrake Point dry Riesling 2011 ($16).  I reviewed the 2009 vintage about two years ago.   Also, this is one of the samples that was part of the Riesling launch celebration and virtual tasting this past September.  Loved the wine on that evening, so I picked up a few more in December at the winery.   Sheldrake Point Winery produces distinctive estate wines that showcase the quality of their Finger Lakes vineyard. Each of their estate wines is crafted to take advantage of the flavor and character of  the grapes grown on their 44-acre site overlooking Cayuga Lake.

It is being served tonight with a simple chicken stir-fry over rice.  I spice my portion up a little by adding some jalepeno slices.   I use the peppers in order to avoid the sodium rich soy sauce that was a mainstay for my stir-fry at one time.
On the nose I found lots of floral like aromas with some peach and mango.  A little lemon grass on the palate with some ripe delicious apple and a mix of passion fruit and mango.  Finish was medium with a touch of slate and lemon zest.  Pairing was nice.  I think it would have paired better with the soy sauce.  Suggested pairings would be with Asian food, chicken, salmon and tuna.  I also enjoyed later with a few light cheese bites. Very Highly Recommended.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Long Point Winery Vidal Blanc 2011

I am starting to discover a fact that when one is away from a favorite wine, for whatever reason, cravings start to set in that need to be dealt with.  The only way I know of dealing with these cravings is to grab one of those favorites and enjoy.  That is what happened this week after month of denying myself a Finger Lakes white wine.  So without even asking, "what's for dinner, Shirl?," I opened a Long Point Winery Vidal Blanc 2011($11) that I picked up at the winery in December.

Long Point Winery is located on the east side of Cayuga Lake on scenic Route 90 in Aurora, New York. The winery sits on 72 acres of land overlooking beautiful Cayuga Lake. Known for producing the finest dry red and white wines, Long Point Winery has collected numerous awards for wines such as, red Zinfandel, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Dry Riesling.
This Vidal Blanc was the gold medal winner at the 2010 New York State Fair and won gold(90 points) in the New York Wine & Food Classic.

Later I was informed by the boss that dinner would be turkey kielbasa with french fries, beans and sauerkraut.  That use to be a beer night until last year when I found it went well with Gewurztraminer.  This night I found that it was excellent with Vidal Blanc. 

Aromas were loaded with honeysuckle, white peach with a little honeydew melon and tropical fruits.  In the mouth there was tropical fruit, some lemon and a little honey like sweetness.  Long lemony finish was perfect with the kielbasa and kraut.  Finished this wine later in the evening and thoroughly enjoyed each sip.  Excellent wine, nice price. Very Highly recommended.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Hudson Chatham Empire Red Reserve 2010

About a week ago I received a nice package from the Hudson-Chatham Winery in Ghent, NY.  The Hudson-Chatham Winery is the dream of Carlo and Dominique DeVito, both publishing professionals who have long shared a love of wine. This exciting new winery, which specializes in small hand-made batches of wine, is dedicated to the richness of the Hudson River Valley, particularly its wine, agriculture, literature, art, history, and many other attractions that make it a rich and special region. The Hudson-Chatham Winery, located  between the historic towns of Hudson and Chatham, is the first winery in Columbia County.

The package contained three Hudson-Chatham wines.  A 2011 Old Vines Baco Noir, a 2011 Baco Noir Reserve and a 2010 Empire Reserve Red Table Wine.

About two years ago, I reviewed the 2009 Old Vines Baco Noir and I'm very excited about tasting Carlo's latest release, but I am going to hold my excitement until we return from Florida in early March. The Empire Red, though, is being opened before our trip with a dinner of chicken breast filets done in a sauce of cider, cinnamon, nutmeg, corn starch, bouillon and apple slices served with fresh green beans and black rice.  The Empire Red is a blend of 33% Hudson Valley Baco Noir, 33% Finger Lakes Cabernet Franc and 33% Long Island Merlot.

Very fruit forward aromas of black cherry and currant with a little earthy like herbal and hints of vanilla added on the palate. Finish was mid range, smooth with dark fruit and herbs.  A very nice wine to sip on it's own, but really showed off with dinner. Will do very well with grilled meats and Italian sauces or cheese filled manicotti.

Have no information on suggested price, but past vintages are in the $25 range and I would think that the 2010 will not be any different.  Highly Recommended

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Teliani Valley Mukuzani Saperavi 2006

After an enjoyable two week campaign of all California wines it's time to again get back into the tasting wines from around the world.  First up is my first wine from the Republic of Georgia. A Teliani Valley Mukuzani 2006($15) which was purchased at Total Wine & More in Virginia Beach in October.
The appellation controlled red dry wine "Mukuzani" is made from the Saperavi grape variety grown in Mukazani specific viticulture district of Kakheti.  An historical province in eastern Georgia, Kakheti is the country's most important wine region in quantitative, qualitative and even historic terms. Almost three-quarters of the country's wine grapes are grown here, on land that has been used for viticulture for thousands of years.
The Saperavi grapes are used predominately in the Republic of Georgia, but have spread to other regions of Eastern Europe more recently. Saperavi cultivars are also being grown in New World wine regions; notably in the Finger Lakes, New York area vineyards.
A dark ruby color with some mineral and spice and lots of black cherry on the nose.  Spice, pepper, cherry and blackberry filled the mouth. The finish was long and very dry with some vanilla spice and a hint of smoke or toast. A very nice and pleasing wine.  Very easy to find on-line, but may be difficult to locate in smaller cities, but worth the effort to locate.  Highly Recommended

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Take Israeli Wine Out of the Liquor Store Ghetto

Guest Post: "Take Israeli Wine Out of the Liquor Store Ghetto"

By: Juda Engelmayer

Having become somewhat of a wine enthusiast over the years, I have tasted many fine wines from all over the world, and have toured wineries in the United States and abroad in pursuit of a recreational oenophile’s whimsy.

Over the past 20 years or so, the market for kosher wines – don’t laugh – has grown, as post Baby Boomers acquired money and taste, and began seeking finer alternatives to the old style syrupy sweet Malaga and Concorde Grape selections of Kedem and Manischewitz.

My late step-mother loved to tell this story. She went to a local liquor emporium known for its kosher wines, and asked for two gallon-sized bottles of ritual (Kiddush) wine, one Malaga and one Concorde. The owner pulled her over to the side and said, in a low voice, “You know, you don’t need to drink that anymore. We have a large selection of really good kosher wines.”

“I know,” she said, with a tinge of regret. “But my husband loves this stuff.”

That was over 15 years ago, and the “large” selection is now a huge one.

In a sense, kosher wines have become ultra-westernized, and along with the fine cars, nice homes, single malt scotches, boutique distilled bourbons and golf outings, kosher baby boomers now collect fine wines.

Fine wine and kosher used to be contradictory terms, but with the rise of so many wonderful vineyards in Israel, the race to produce the best kosher wines soon expanded to Spain, Australia, France, Italy, Chile, Argentina, Australia, New York, California, and every other place non-kosher wines have been made for centuries.

Grapes, like all foods that grow in the ground, are inherently permissible foods, as is the alcohol produced during fermentation. Any wine can be “kosher,” and some kosher consumers accept that they are. A biblical prohibition prohibiting “pagan wine” ceased to be a problem in the first millennium, according to the rabbinic literature of the period, but social contact with non-Jews was an issue, so the ban on “non-kosher” wines continued. “Cooked wine,” on the other hand, was permissible, even during social contact with non-Jews. Thus, “mevushal” (cooked) wines became the standard until only recently. Why that is so is subject to debate. To get into that debate here is beyond the scope of this article. Besides, it would force me to examine why I can do tequila shots in a dark bar with my non-Jewish friends, but sitting down with them for a sedate dinner with wine is frowned upon.

Needless to say, the cooking process does sound as if it will certainly make any wine taste off as compared to typical non-mevushal wines. Yet, two important phenomena have occurred in the past two decades: flash pasteurizing, which maintains the essence of the flavor and qualities while super heating the wine; and the growth of wineries in Israel that are controlled and staffed by Orthodox Jews. These developments have allowed for an increased production of non-mevushal wines.

Now, I am good friends with Jose DeMereilles, the owner of and inspiration for the kosher New York bistro, Le Marais. He is not only a master chef, but a wine connoisseur who enjoys traveling around in search of the best. At his restaurant, he has some of the very best mevushal wines (they must be mevushal, because kosher certification agencies insist on it).

In recent years, he has come to know Israeli and Spanish wines of the kosher variety, and now buys them for his own home. He once believed that kosher meat could not taste as good as the non-kosher equivalents he served at Le Marais’ sister eatery, Les Halles, the home of chef Anthony Bourdain. Then Jose perfected the aging process for Le Marais, and his food now ranks among the best eateries in its class, kosher or non-kosher.

He also remembered a time when kosher wine was undrinkable and unthinkable for non-Jews, but has come to respect greatly the wines made today. That leads to his thought about wine marketing.

When you go to most, if not all, liquor stores that carry kosher wines, the kosher wine is sectioned off, and few real wine lovers will stop in the kosher section. What a grand idea it would be for Israel’s wineries — any kosher winery for that matter — to be displayed in the regional sections alongside their non-kosher peers.

This is where my public relations and marketing background comes into play, alongside my enthusiasm for wines. Kosher wineries now make a bulk of their revenues off the Jewish, and kosher in particular, consumers who enjoy good wines. That Jews are not big drinkers is a myth, but the number of Jews who drink only kosher wines is limited, and that limits market share. Consumers who want to see kosher wine sales really soar and who want to support Israel on a larger scale should work on a campaign to lessen the emphasis on kosher wines and increase the awareness of the regions where they come from.

There are few “Israel” wine sections in wine stores across the United States. There are French, Italian, Spanish, Chilean, New York, and Californian sections, as well as every other country where wine is made. Yet the Israel sections are found only among the kosher wines, and the kosher wines from every other country are relegated to that small section, as well. Take that section away, market Israel as a wine-producing nation unto itself, and place it among its fellow regions, then put the kosher wines from every other country within its own regional section. Kosher Italian with the Italians, kosher French with the French, and so on.

Kosher wineries such as Tura, Castel, Recanati, Rothschild, Elvi, Capcanes, to name a few, are perfect for the tables and cellars of both connoisseur and high-end restaurant. There is no reason they have to be put in sectioned off in ghettos in the liquor store.

Juda Engelmayer is an executive at the 5W Public Relations.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

My Super Bowl Sunday

I am doing something a little different with this post.  Something I have never tried before.  I am composing the article on Super Bowl Sunday in parts or how the day progresses.  I am spending this day like I have for the past 25 years, TV screen is cleaned, recliner in position, party food is being prepared and the wine is sitting out and ready to uncork.  Today, Shirley and Pam are preparing a Taco salad dip with a tray of hors d'oeuvres.  In the past there was always a large rye boat, pizza, wings and much more, all of which my cardiologist now frowns upon.  So, I am trying to make it a little more health wise.  Around game time the girls will leave the area and allow me to enjoy one of my favorite pro sporting events with my food and my wine. 

My pre-game starts approximately 3 to 4 minutes after I wake up.  Everything is put in place for game time and I accommodate the girls by staying out of the kitchen and turn on the TV to ESPN or the NFL Network.  By kick off, I have heard every story that has to be told about all those involved in today's game. I also line up the wines, which is not always a good idea.  It becomes one of those "should I open now, or should I wait" things.  Little buzz early in game is OK, but an overdid it type buzz kinda ruins it.  You would think that my team is playing, but their not.  I just love this game no matter who is playing.  I may take a short walk in the afternoon or just pick up the dumbbells and work out a little to keep myself occupied. 
So, here it is, "My Super Bowl Sunday:

Everything going as usual.  Late breakfast and no lunch.  I will make up for the lunch with overdoing the taco dip and the hors d'oeuvres.  Had to turn off some of the pre-game hype to watch a NCAA basketball game and did a little house cleaning.   I did remove my wine of choice from the wine fridge and will open that wine at game time.
ALERT:  Could not wait for the wine.  It's now 5 pm and 90 minutes till kick off and I opened my 2010 Sonoma Zinfandel from Seghesio Family Vineyards.  I will sit back with a small glass and now wait.   OMG it's 90 minutes of wait.  Better take out another bottle......
Move over Whitney Houston. Your performance before Super Bowl XXV has just been topped.  First with Jennifer Hudson and the Choir from Sandy Hook Elementary School with "America the Beautiful" followed by our "National Anthem" performed by Alicia Keys.  Alicia rocks!  Now let's play some football... Think I'll have another glass of wine. 

Doing really well with the wine.  Finished only 1/2 glass til now, but starting to dig into the appetizers.  Ravens are first to score, think I'll have another glass of wine.
7 - 0 Ravens.  Maybe I'll switch to chocolate wafers or something.  First and goal and you don't score a TD.  OK, field goal will do.  7 - 3 Ravens.   Starting to aggressively attack the cheese bites. The wine is holding up and pairing very nicely with the cheese and the taco dip.  Wow! Actually doing very well!

Are you kidding.  Baltimore scores again.  OK, that's the game plan.  The Niners have come back from early game deficits in both playoff games.  Think I'll have another glass of wine!  Glad I bought two. Now 21 - 3 Ravens.  Shirley brought out the pot-stickers.  I'm drinking one of the best CA Zins I ever had and the 49ers pass defense stayed in SF.  Touchdowns, not field goals, guys.  21 - 6 Ravens at the half.  Think I'll have another glass of wine. 

Beyonce without Destiny's Child is rocking.  Hey, hey Destiny's Child has arrived.  Great half time show.  Beyonce rocks.  Think I'll have another glass of wine.
Does anyone really believe that the commentators know why the 49ers are losing.  Gimmie more Beyonce. Pot-stickers and Zin are adding to a great half time.

Are you kidding me.  109 yard kick-off return.  Maybe I should have spent the last two weeks eating crab cakes. The longest kick off return in NFL history.  I really need another glass of wine. 28 - 6 Ravens.  Now, a power failure.  No lights.  Guess I'll have to wait a little longer for another Ravens score. Niners are starting to look an awful like my Eagles. The black out delay is going too long.  I need another glass of wine. May have to open another wine before the end of the quarter.  Finally, the Niners find the end zone.  28 - 13 Ravens.
Coaches should have worn the same color shirts and no hat.  That would have confused the commentators.  Let's celebrate the touchdown with another glass of wine.  Out of Zin.  Opened my favorite California Cab Sauv from Folie à Deux and an immediate touchdown.  The Niners are coming back.  28 - 20 Ravens.  Let's have another glass of wine.

Best commercial tonight.  Paul Harvey's, "And God made the farmer."  One field goal by the Ravens and the Niners score again.  31- 29 Ravens.  This is now a game and I need another glass of wine.  Bad play calls end this game for the Niners.  Kaepernick could have run for the TD.  Ravens win 34 - 31 after a safety. I need another bottle of wine.

Well, that was my Super Bowl Sunday.  My team did not win, but my wine did. A Seghesio Family Vineyards Sonoma Zinfandel 2010. Like most California Zins this is a versatile red wine that is perfect for the game day parties.
Aromas started with light black licorice over some cherry and plum and a little blueberry.  In the mouth the wine was very dry with lot's of blackberry, licorice and some spice leading to a remarkably long finish.  One of the best California Zinfandels I have tasted.  Suggested retail price on this wine is $25, but can be found for a little less at select shops.  This is a fantastic Zin and well worth the suggested price.  Very Highly Recommended   

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Chateau St. Jean Sonoma County Chardonnay 2010

It seems as it gets closer to game day the California wines I've been tasting are just getting better and better.  This wasn't by design as all the wines I've opened in the past two weeks have been first timers for me. For those who know me, it must be a little surprising that four of the wines were Chardonnays.  What is surprising to me is that the Chardonnays that I did open were very pleasing and more to the style that I like.  That is, lightly oaked with lots of fruit and citrus on the nose and on the palate. That is exactly what I found in the Chateau St Jean Sonoma County Chardonnay 2010 ($11)
One the nose were aroma's of pear and apple with some citrus and a little creamy, buttery, toasty vanilla.  Nice mouth feel with flavors of peach, pear and orange zest with some spicey vanilla.  The finish was medium with a little toast and some tropical fruit.
Paired very nicely with Shirley's left over chili.  Cannot go wrong with Chateau St. Jean and at $11, well worth it.  Highly Recommended.

Friday, February 1, 2013

The Crusher Petite Sirah 2011

I should have kept this wine for Super Bowl Sunday, as it is aptly named for what the San Fransisco 49ER's are going to lay on the Baltimore Ravens.  Sorry Ray and the gang, but the Smith boys will dominate.
Enough smack about the game, so here is a little about another Sebastiani wine.  This one produced by Don Sebastiani & Sons in Napa, CA with grapes from the Wilson Vineyards-Clarksburg, CA - The Crusher Peitie Sirah 2011($13) is a blend of 76% Petite Sirah, 13% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Tinta Cao, 2% Souza and 2% Touriga Nacional.
Lots of tart blackberries on the nose, a lot like a bag full of tart blackberry flavored gummie bears with some black cherry and a little vanilla.  The tart berry flavors in the mouth were joined by a little pepper and a little caramel flavored espresso.  A full bodied wine, rich in tannins and lingered for a long time on the finish.
Paired very nicely with some dark chocolate wafers I just picked up for nibbling at night. This wine will pair nicely with grilled meats, savory pastas like butternut squash raviolis with a brown butter sage sauce, or even bites of dark chocolate.  Very Highly Recommended