Wine according to Garp

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While this is by no means complete and my responses in many cases are highly subjective, this should be considered a starting point for a faq's that is contributed to by the entirety of GWS. Both with questions and anwsers. If you have some knowlege to share, this would definitely be the place to do it.

Note: This article is meant to be edited constantly, feel free to contribute


Q: I have a wine that is not too good, what can I do to make it palatable?

  • magnetic posted:
    • The #1 one best way to make a marginal wine more palatable is to chill it. Serve it much colder than you normally would a wine of that type. Often putting an ice cube or two will make enough difference to bring out more acid in a flat wine, or mute excessive alcohol. With hot (very ripe high alcohol) red wine in particular, such as South African or Chilean Cabernet, adding 1:3 light white wine, will bring into balance an otherwise undrinkable wine. White wine that is excessively sour, under-ripe or acidic is perfect for mixing 1:1 with mineral or sparkling water.
  • fifteencharacters posted:
    • Be very careful where you follow this advice. In many traditional households or restaurants, tossing an ice cube into your wine would be akin to whipping your dick out and stirring your soup with it. Especially in Mediterranean countries, the above advice (mixing wines?!) is damn near heresy.



Q: What wine should I be drinking?

  • magnetic posted:
    • There are great debates about wines and their relative worth: drink the wine that tastes good which you can afford. With that in mind, there are food wines and wines which are pleasant unaccompanied. I am fond of Cabernet Sauvignon as both a food and drinking wine. Excellent quality Cabernet may consistently be purchased in nearly any price range being targeted. It is however a fairly strong tasting wine, and in many cases if not accompanying food, mixing it with water makes for excellent drinking.

Top picks in my budget: Sonoma Ca, Cabernet. Sebastiani, Kenwood California Sauvignon Blanc. Kenwood, Honig, Groth. French Chablis(Chardonnay) and Loire(Savignon blanc)



Q: I am on a budget: what varietals and regions reliably represent the best value?

  • magnetic posted:
    • For daily drinkers I budget 5-15 red and 4-12 for white. Normally going to Trader Joes and buying a mixed case of wines in those ranges will yield one or two good wines: buy a case or two when you find a good one.

Keeping your eye out for a deal is the best way to keep your budget. In specific the best quality values for my taste are: Chardonnay from Australia, and Chili; Sauvignon blanc from California and Loire, France; Pinot Grigio and Valpolacella from Italy; Cote du Rhone from such importers as Kermit Lynch; and for sparking wine, Mumm Brute Couve and Schrammsburg; Champagne Mumm Cordon Rouge and Nicolas Feuillatte; Cabernet Sauvignon from Kenwood, Knights Valley, Alexander Valley and Sonoma California



Q: What is a good overall wine type for cooking?

  • magnetic posted:
    • Unless you are making a dish like Coq au Vin that takes a large amount of wine use the wine you are drinking. If you don’t drink wine, wine in cooking makes little sense. Your cuisine will be better served with a bottle of brandy, sherry, Madeira or vermouth. If you are drinking $50 bottles of Cab, then buy a bottle of cab from the same area, or even a second label from the same winery. I find highly acidic wines become bitter when cooked more than briefly. Sauvignon blanc makes for a good poaching wine, Chardonnay for risotto or sauce. Cabernet Sauvignon (and friends), Pinot Noir, Petite Syrah are all quite good for wine sauce and meat marinating.



Q: Is a single varietal wine better than a blended wine?

  • magnetic posted:
    • Very seldom: in the larger picture of wine single varietal wines are not typically superior to well made blended wines. There are few grapes which produce a complete wine unto themselves: balancing total acidity with alcohol, fruit taste, aroma and color is precarious and can be made far less so using a few choice grapes to add critical elements. Wine making is a balancing act never look down.



Q: Aging wine: when, why, how, where and what?

  • magnetic posted:
    • Both red and white dry table wines age linearly in an exceedingly predictable fashion: that is, as the wine oxidizes fruit/flavor components diminish, roughly at the same rate as the acid/tannin components. The taste of long aged wines is markedly different from young wines, however a well made Cabernet Sauvignon will be easily identifiable as a well made cabernet sauvignon for 10+ years, that is, the qualities will remain similar.
    • Storing one bottle of “special” wine for 10-20 years, will more than likely end in disappointment. There are a few indestructible wines that, even stored under the futon in your shitty apartment, will age well for many years. Petite Syrah, Nebbiolo and Cabernet Sauvignon are such wines. For more delicate but excellent aging wines; Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Risling. A stable cool temperature with little or no light or disturbance, are the keys to proper storage. The cooler the temperature the slower the wine with oxidize with in 45-55°F range.
    • If you find a wine that you love, buy a case or two and open a bottle on special occasions. The ultimate goal of most aging is to have special wines on special occasions. The wine will soften and change, however it will retain the characteristics and balance of the original wine for many years. Wines which have received no oak aging, specifically wines like Sauvignon Blanc, despite quality or storage will not age well more than a few short years.
    • In some cases, and normally with highly prices and difficult to obtain wines, the wine with be perfectly balanced, yet so intense that aging will yield a wine of exuberant fruit with the fineness of age. These are a rare treat.
  • Conditions: Cool, constant-stable temperature, dark, and quiet remain important for all wines.
  • Special note: If you like Vintage port, cellaring is the only real option for having the best quality vintage ports. By the time they are aged properly the good ones will be either over-priced or impossible to find.



Q: Why does everything involving wine seem to be so snooty?

  • magnetic posted:
    • If you have to ask, you just aren’t going to get it. There really are levels of sophistication and snobbery, typically the English, and Americans put the emphasis on the wine rather than the party. It’s a sad product of trying to buy culture, taste, style etc.. often the whole point is completely missed. Take hard look at why you drink beer/wine/whiskey? If your answer is to impress people, might I suggest a Gucci bag, and BMW, it will save your liver a little trauma. Some people are just Elitist Jerks.



Q: Why do wine drinkers look down on beer drinkers?

  • magnetic posted:
    • Becase the beer drinkers bought better seats with all the money they saved, duh! (This is either an opera joke or a baseball joke depending on what you drink.) Seriously if you are having this problem, find a new crowd. None of the more sophisticated people I associate with would consider looking down on someone for drinking a beer, instead of a glass of wine. It is a recreation and should be enjoyed. If you do not enjoy it, it is completelypointless. If, however, you poo poo something without trying it, most people with think you are a big dumb jerk.



Q: Why are people boycotting French Wine?

  • magnetic posted:
    • I’ll guess it’s political and hope the effect is less expensive French wine. This question is not pertinent to a wine discussion, take it to D&D.
  • Toast posted:
    • This is right up there with "Freedom Fries", don't be a moron.



Q: How do I make the right wine choice at a restaurant?

  • magnetic posted:
    • Asking for suggestions is a great start, however do not be bullied, if you want a Kistler Chardonnay with your rack of lamb, order it. To get the best wines you will need to buy a bottle, otherwise simply ask for a taste of a wine buy the glass that you think might go well with your meal.


Q: Why does a waiter give you the cork when opening your wine at a restaurant?

  • magnetic posted:
    • It is customary to show the cork so that you can visually inspect the cork for seepage, soakage, or dryness. These are a good indication that the wine may have been compromised by excessive heat or temperature fluctuation. It is also a tool that you would use, that is not subjective, to send back a wine that has been, for example, corked. Corks smell like cork, if they smell like anything else you have a potential problem.



Q: What does the Jargon on a bottle of wine mean? How can I use this information to improve my chances of getting the best wine for my money, or even the kind of wine I am seeking?

  • magnetic posted:
    • The three most important factors enumerated on a wine label are:

Location, the area it was produced; Producer, the winery that made it; Vintage, the year it was born. For modern wine labels the next most important aspect is varietal e.g. Merlot, Chardonnay, “white zinfandel”

    • When you are familiar with the producers of a region, and you are familiar with the way they treat certain varietals, with a minimal knowledge of the conditions of a particular vintage, you can make a fair assessment of a wine, at least its most general qualities.



Q: Why are wine glasses shaped differently? What types of wines are appropriate to serve in them?

  • magnetic posted:
    • Aside for sparking wine, I server all of my wine in Ridell Red Bordeaux crystal glasses for guests; however I am just as likely to use a small non-stem cup, or coffee cup to drink wine around the house. This is not to say there is not merit to the taste/aroma benefits to various glassware.
  • The shape of the glass definitely helps to trap aromas or focus wine onto the palate to excentuate certain elements, however a good simple general purpose crystal glass like the Ridell Red Bordeaux glasses I use, are great for everything from light whites to port wine.



Q: Discuss the pro's and con's of a Screw cap versus Cork.

  • magnetic posted:
    • Screw caps are an excellent closure for wine; they eliminate cork fungus infections, and make opening easy, while in no way negatively effecting the wine. I approve of them, while deep down I will miss the aesthetic of the cork.
  • thelizzard posted:
    • Screwcaps are very dependable, moreso than cork because it doesn't dry and allow air into the bottle. That being said, screwcaps are a recent addition to the wine world and it's unsure how they hold up for wines that are "laid down" for extended periods. I see now problem with them for wines that are drinkable now, but I'm not sure if I trust them at this point to store my collection of Burgundies for 25 years.
  • Also, some people really enjoy the spectacle that is opening a bottle of wine. I kindof like the "pop!" but whatever. The point of wine isn't the "pop!", it's the wine itself. I'm not much of a traditionalist in that sense, I suppose.



Q: What the hell are tannins?

  • magnetic posted:
    • Tannins are complex phenolic acids that play a large roll in wine texture, taste and aging. Tannins come from seeds, skins and stems, as well as largely from the oak barrels used to age and ferment wine. Tannins’ roll in aging wine is typically to consume oxygen. A portion of the sediment in a red wine will be long chains of tannic acids that have bonded. Tannin is a prime contributor to the “bite” or astringency of wine, especially young red wine. Bite into a grape seed, that taste experience will give you a definitive idea of how tannin effects taste. One myth that wine sellers propagate is that highly tannic wines that do not taste at all good, are just not mature enough. The truth is, if a wine is well made, it is always going to taste good with a balance of fruit acids, tannin, and alcohol. Poor unbalanced wines do not get better with age.



Q: Sweet Wines: how are they made and what differentiates one from another? Port, Muscat, Icewine, Sauterns, Madira, Sherry, etc…


  • magnetic posted:
    • While there are not as many styles and varieties of sweet wines as there are dry, they vary just as greatly. Juice extraction methods, harvesting times, fermenting and aging conditions; (Oak, stainless), total sugar, total acidity, presence of certain fungi, weather conditions, and the kitchen sink all contribute to the way a sweet wine will taste and smell.
    • German sweet wines such as icewine made from Riesling compares and contrasts well with Sauternes made from Semmilion and Sauvignon blanc.Riesling is typically not aged in oak, while Sauternes typically are. Both are powerfully sweet. The icewine is made by harvesting and pressing frozen grapes that have been allowed to ripen as far as possible, where Sauternes condense the sugars in their juice by encouraging a mold to grow on the skins (Botrytis) that punctures the skin releasing water but not sugar, this imparts a distinctive taste.
    • This question is far to big to address in an FAQ, simply discussing the type of port wines and how they differ would take two pages.



Q: How long will an opened bottle of wine keep? Once opened, how should a wine be kept?

  • magnetic posted:
    • Keeping a wine in the refrigerator, is in general the best way to store wine once opened, this is not necessary for fortified wines such as Port or Madera, which will stay good for at least a couple of weeks in a cool place. Gasses and vacuums can help to a lesser extent, but even if you use these, refrigeration is the largest contributor to the preservation.



Q: Does swirling a glass of wine to see the "legs" on the side of the glass actually mean anything?

  • magnetic posted:
    • It is just one more visual tool to identify a wine, and its qualities. Viscosity, age, relative alcohol; are all properties that can be assessed by examining the legs. The focal purpose of swirling wine is to get some “wine” in the air, and some “air” in the wine: so that you can smell, more keenly, the wine and to help along the oxidization process often called “Opening.”



Q: What are some general guidelines for pairing wines with foods?

  • magnetic posted:
    • There are two basic approaches: Compare or contrast. Both schools are necessary.
    • There are a many natural marriages: Sancerre with fresh goat cheese comes to mind. However most food and wine pairings are compromises like the typical successful real marriage. There are certain elements of a wine or a meal which may cause problems with certain elements of the other. For example: Asparagus or Artichokes will make many dry wines taste sweet, its beneficial to choose muted fruit, cooler, wines with these things. A hot syrah will taste like a mouth full of jam with artichokes. Some Cabernet Sauvignon will have strong vegetal elements; often like canned green beans. I find that this kind of cabernet does not pair well with green vegetables like peas green beans and spinach. While cracked crab and cold lobster salad are exquisite with a crisp Sauvignon blanc or Chablis; a big, rich, buttery Chardonnay(Montrachet, Talbot, Kistler) are a far better match for most of the hot dishes made with these.
    • One factor that can dramatically change the compatibility of wines with your food is the temperature that the wine is served.
    • Ultimately it’s subjective and you will need to taste many wines before you know what elements suite your taste with certain foods. There are no hard and fast rules per se, a pinot noir will go with a nice piece of fish as long as the rest of the elements compliment. For example Roasted sea bass with mushroom risotto and asparagus is wonderful with a good strong pinot. While a New York steak fried in butter with Rice pilaf is brilliant with a rich Chardonnay. Strong red wine with a salad… Yes. Provided there are elements in the salad that warrant it… Roasted garlic and Grilled quail, or Maytag blue cheese and grilled walnut bread.



Q: How are wines made? And do they put blackberry, greenbeens, currents and jasmine in the wine to make it taste like that?


Jeff Cox(From vines to wines) posted:

The wine making process simplified.

Day 1:

Red wine-Stem and crush grapes into a fermentation vat.

White wine- Stem crush and press juice from white or red grapes into a vat or carboys(1) two thirds full.

Both- (1) Test Total Acidity(TA), adjust if necessary--with tartaric acid or a base. (2) Test Brix(2), adjust if necessary--with cane or grape sugar. (3) Test PH

Add potatssium metabisulfite

Note- whites left on the skins are pressed after 8-16 hours, vatted then put into carboys 2/3 full.

Day 2:

Add yeast

Red wine- The skins and seed will create a raft called a cap, you punch down the cap to both maximize skin contact and to add oxygen to the juice, and release gasses. This is to be done twice DAILY, during the primary fermentation.

As the fermentation begins to slow, Malolactic(3) starter culture is added.

Days 3-12: (Brix reduced by 2/3, and fermentation slows)

Red wine- Press and transfer juice to glass carboys filled to shoulder, attach airlocks.

White wine- Transfer juice to carboys, racking(4) off the spent yeast. This should be done again after five days.

1-2 Months Later:

Secondary fermentation ends. All Bubbling ceases.

Rack into clean carboys filled within and inch of the cork. Add oak chips or rack into an oak barrel at this time.

Cold stabilize(5) between two-3 months.

2-3 Months later:

Rack the wine again. Top up.

3-4 Months Later:

Rack again. Test PH, TA, Residual sugar, and alcohol.

Bottle now, or top up barrels or carboys and bottle at leisure.


(1) Carboy: 5 gallon glass water bottle(think Sparklets)

(2) Brix: a measurement of sugar in a liquid.

(3) Malolactic: a fermentation started to convert malic(sharp) acids to lactic acid(softer)

(4) Racking: Siphoning off the wine into a clean container while leaving the dregs produced by fermentation.

(5) Cold stabilize: brining the temperature of the wine down low enough that some of the active acids precipitate.