An Introduction To Port Wine

Instead of writing another article about the best wine cooler or about how to decant wine, I have decided to try something different and write about port wine. Port wine is the type of wine that everyone who enjoys wine should know, whether they are a novice or a true aficionado. That’s because it is a wine that will blow guest away, especially if it is stored, chilled and served properly. Let’s take a few moments to learn about this type of wine so you can impress the guests at your next party.

Port wine is a wine fortified with aguardente that is only made in one place in the world and that one place is in the Douro Valley in Portugal. When this wine is manufactured it has to conform to a myriad of different rules and regulations as set forth by the Instituto dos Vinhos do Douro e do Porto. This means that it not only must conform to strict quality control guidelines but must also be marked by a seal that reads: Vinho do Porto Garantia. Therefore, it is pretty easy to determine if the wine you just picked up is port or not.

Port wine is generally divided into two categories. There is bottle aged port and barrel aged port. The difference between the two is generally taste, color and viscosity. Barrel aged port tends to have an oak taste, is thicker and is darker in color.

Ruby Port: The lowest quality and least expensive of the port wines is Ruby Port. This type of wine is usually pretty fragile and most be consumed fairly quickly or it will go bad. However, it is fairly inexpensive and is a good wine to serve with cheese or dessert.

Ruby Reserve Port: This is the next port up. It is blended from several different port vintages. It is aged for five years and is less fragile than Ruby Port.

Late Bottled Vintage Port: This is the next best port. It is aged for a minimum of four years and is not a blend of different ports but a port with a specific vintage. This makes it a good mid-range port.

Tawny Ridge: This type of port is one of the best varieties. It’s aged anywhere from 10 to 40 years, and it has a unique fruitiness.

Vintage Port: This is absolutely the best port wine you can buy. It’s aged for 2 years in a barrel and then its transferred to a bottle where it spends the next 20 years. This type of port is only bottled during exceptional years and as a result, it may only be bottled 2 to 3 times a decade.

That is all that you need to know about port. There is only one more thing that I want to say to you before you go out and buy a bottle. Be sure to check wine cooler reviews and pick the best cooler you can because this is a wine that deserves the best storage conditions possible.

Serving Wine At A Party

I have been asked many times what’s the proper way to serve wine at a party, so I’ve decided to go ahead and write a guide on the subject. In this guide, you will not only find out what wines you need to serve, but also what order to serve them. You’ll also find out how much wine to buy and how to select the wine varieties. So, If you are ready to get this party started, then let’s start off with the basics.

The Basics

Before you start, you’ll want to gather a few things together. One, you want to make sure that you have the best wine cooler available because wines need to be chilled down to their optimal drinking temperature before they are served. Two, you will want to make sure that you have a traditional corkscrew. Once you have those items you can decide on what will be on your wine list for the party.

White wines are usually served before white wines and dry wines are served before sweet wines. However, the real determining factor of what you will serve will really depend on the type of foods that you are serving. You want to make sure that you pair the correct wine with your meals.

You can either select your wine first and then decide which meal goes with it, or you can do it in reverse order and decide on the food and then determine what wine to serve with that food. It really all depends on your personal preference.

Sequencing Your Wines

Now that you’ve decided on the food and the wine that you are going to serve, it’s now important that you serve the wine in the proper order. Below are some suggestions that will determine the order of wine service:

  • Serve White Before Red Wines
  • Serve Dry Wines Before Sweet Ones
  • Serve Light Wines Before Heavy Wines
  • Serve Lower Quality Wines Before You Serve The Good Stuff

Determining How Much Wine To Purchase

You should purchase 1 bottle of wine for each of your guests. If you are serving 1 type of wine and have 4 guests, then you should purchase at least 4 bottles of wine. On the other hand, if you have multiple varieties of wines, then you can alter the ratio just a little bit. For example, if you have 4 guest and 3 different types of wine, then purchase 1 bottle of each kind for a total of 3 bottles. Make sure you have a cooler big enough to store the wine. If you don’t have an adequate cooler, then you can check wine cooler reviews and buy one that suits your needs.

Choosing Wine

You should select the wine according to your guest’s preferences. Some people don’t like red wines and other people are put off by white wines. However, if you don’t know your guests preferences, then be sure to stock both white and red wines, just to be safe.

Follow all of the above guidelines and you can be pretty sure that you’ll host a wine party that blows everyone away.

An Explanation Of Wine Types

The world of wine can be a confusing place. It seems like there are so many different types of wine that it would be impossible to learn about all of them. However, that doesn’t have to be the case. While there are a lot of different wines on the market today, you don’t have to know the details about them all. If you educate yourself in a select variety of wines, then that will arm you with enough information to make an educated wine purchase. Today, we are going to begin your wine education by giving you an explanation of the different wine types.

The first thing you should do is to educate yourself on some of the terms and practices used in the wine world. You can do this by reading the articles we have on this site and by reading wine cooler reviews. Once you have done that, you can finish your education with this article right here and learn about some of the available types of wine.

Red Versus White Wine

Okay, all of us here can tell the difference between a red and white wine, so I am not going to waste your time telling you something you already know. What I am going to do however, is tell you why red wine is different from white wine, and vice versa.

Wines get their color depending on whether the vintner leaves the grape’s skin in contact with the wine as it ferments. Skins contain tannin, a bitter substance that gives wine a dry, slightly bitter taste. If the vintner leaves the skins to ferment with the wine, then it will begin to color because of the accumulation of tannins. White wines are wines where the skin never ferments with the rest of the wine. The longer the skins ferment, the more tannin that’s released and the darker the color of the wine. The wine will then change color from white to blush to pink and then finally, to red. Red, of course, has the highest tannin content of all the wine varieties.

Red wine’s tannin content is the core of the wine. It not only affects taste but it also affects texture. The general rule is the darker the red wine the bolder it’s taste is. Because of their tannin content, you really want to avoid putting your red wine in your best wine cooler and lowering its temperature too much. That’s because tannin compounds get more bitter at lower temperatures, so be sure to never serve a red wine ice cold. Popular red wines include: Cabernet Franc, Sangiovese, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon.

White wine’s tannin content is very low. It has some but not enough to change its color. That is why white wine has a slightly acidic taste to it. Popular white wines include: Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Riesling.

And that is all you really need to know about wines. Of course, this article is just a primer for newbies, so as you get more experienced you will want to further your education even more.

How To Choose A Wine

If it’s your turn to buy the next bottle of wine and don’t really know how to go about it, then don’t worry I am here to help. I am going to show you how to buy a bottle of wine that will not only invigorate your senses but will floor all of your friends at your next party. Choosing a wine may seem like a complicated endeavor but it really isn’t if you know the basics.

Before I give you the low-down on buying that perfect bottle of wine, I want to take a few moments to remind you that you need a few basics in order to properly open and serve that awesome wine you just picked up. Hopefully, you have gone through wine cooler reviews and chosen the perfect cooler, have bought a Sommelier Knife and have a good corkscrew. If you already have all of those things, then congratulations you can go through the process of buying your wine. If not, then gather all of those things together before continuing.

Wine And Food Pairings

Choosing the right wine type to go with what you are serving can get a bit complicated, but I can simplify things by giving you a few simple guidelines that will get you started on your way. I have listed some of the more common wine types and paired them with sample meals so you can get an idea of the type of wine that goes well with certain dishes.

Pinot Grigio or Arneis: These go very well with light fish dishes such as white fish.

Chardonnay: Tends to go well with fattier fish dishes. Examples include salmon or dishes with rich sauces.

 Asti Spumante and Moscato d’Asti: Goes well with fruit based desserts

Rosé Champagne: Is a very versatile wine and can go with just about any meal.

Dry Rosé: Goes with any dish where cheese is the main ingredient.

Pinot Noir: Pair earthy foods such as mushrooms and truffles with this wine.

Cabernet Sauvignon: Goes well with red meat and Italian dishes.

Read The Wine Label And Check The Bottle

Everything you need to know about the wine is right there on the bottle. If you pay close attention to it, then it will give you the information you need to decide if the wine is a good or not.

The first thing you should check is the location of where the wine was made and bottled. You want to buy a wine that was bottled where it was made. Avoid wines that are made one place and bottled someplace else.

The next thing you should look for is a cork. While I realize that a lot of wine bottles have screw-off caps, you should still avoid them. Vintage wines are corked, while cheaper wines usually aren’t. It’s one of the biggest indicators of quality you can glean from the bottle.

If quality matters to you, then you might want to buy a bottle of wine that is over $20. There simply aren’t many quality wines that are cheaper than that.

The last thing you should look for is the punt on the bottom of the bottle. This indentation is there to distribute pressure within the bottle and helps along the aging process. The better the quality of wine the bigger this indentation will be. Cheap wines generally don’t have an indentation – or if they do – they are very small.

That my friends is everything you need to know to buy a quality bottle of wine. Follow the above steps and gather together your equipment (corkscrew, knife and best wine cooler) and you can rest assured that you will be capable of giving your guest the wine experience of their life.

How To Open A Bottle Of Wine

You have selected the best possible wine you could find, have assembled the equipment you need and have chilled your wine in that cooler that has gotten rave wine cooler reviews. Now all that is left is to open the bottle. For some people, the mere thought of opening a bottle of wine can invoke sheer terror. All they can think about is struggling with the cork in front of guests, or even worse, breaking off the cork in the bottle. That doesn’t have to be the case, however.

Opening a wine bottle doesn’t have to induce symptoms of anxiety. All it takes is having the right equipment, knowing the proper technique and a little bit of practice. This guide will help you with these first two parts, but the practice is all up to you.

The Traditional Corkscrew

I have found that the easiest corkscrew to use is the traditional corkscrew, otherwise known as the waiter’s corkscrew. These corkscrews come with four components that make them ideal for opening a bottle of wine effortless. They contain a curved body that matches the angle of your palm, a foil cutter blade, a screw and a hinged lever that provides leverage to pull the cork out of the bottle.

To use this corkscrew to open a bottle simply follow these steps:

  1. Cut away the foil from the top of the bottle. You don’t have to remove all of the foil, only about a ½ inch or so. This prevents the wine from coming into contact with the foil as you pour, which can alter the wine’s taste profile.
  1. Insert the screw into the center of the cork and begin to slowly turn it clockwise. Be sure not to go all the way through the cork as this will introduce pieces of cork into your wine. Just enough so that the screw is securely anchored in the cork.
  1. Rest the lever’s small hook on the edge of the bottle. This will create a pivot-point and give you the leverage you need to pull out the cork.
  1. Pull out the cork and you are all done.


The Butterfly Wing Corkscrew

Another tool used for opening wine bottles is the wing corkscrew. To use this tool, first cut the foil off of your bottle using a  Sommelier Knife. After you’ve done that, push the tip of the wing corkscrew into the center of your wine’s cork. Put down the wings of the corkscrew on the neck of the bottle and begin screwing. As you do this, the wings on the opener will begin to rise. When they have reached a 90 degree angle with the rest of the bottle, then you can push them down with force. This will cause the cork to slowly pull out of the bottle. And that is all there is too it.

As you can see, opening a bottle of wine is not as complicated as it seems. In fact, with a little practice it will seem like second nature. Once you’ve mastered it, then you will no longer have those dreaded panic attacks when your remove your wine from your best wine cooler and begin to open it.

Making Your Own Wine

If you’ve always wanted to make your own wine, then you are in luck. That is because I am going to tell you how to get started making your own wine products. While this guide isn’t a comprehensive guide on the art of wine-making—after all, I really don’t have the space to write that—it will serve as a primer to get you started. Hopefully, reading this article will peak your curiosity and get you started down the road to making your own wines.

Before you start however, you are going to need a few items besides your best wine cooler, some bottles and some grapes. You are going to need things such as 2 6 gallon food grade buckets, a siphon hose, a chlorinated sanitizer, something to stir with, a rubber bung, an airlock device, sugar, yeast, a PH balancer, Sulphite, Bentonite, Potasium sorbate, Kieselsol and Chitosan. You can buy all of these things individually from your local home-brew shop or off the Internet, or you can buy them in a complete package. This guide is going to assume that you are using a kit.

Day 1: The next thing you should do is sterilize all of your equipment with your sanitizing solution and rinse it well with fresh water. Take one of your six gallon buckets and make it your primary fermenter. Add the Bentonite to the bucket and add 1 gallon of water. Dissolve completely. Now empty the contents of your juice concentrate bladder. Add 5 more gallons of water to the bucket. Make sure the temperature of the water is around 75 degrees, but no hotter. Stir the mixture well and add the yeast. Don’t stir the mixture anymore after adding the yeast, however. Cap the bucket and place it in a dark, cool location such as your closet. Don’t touch the bucket for a minimum of four days.

Day 5:  Check the mixture. It should be nice and foamy, an indicator that the yeast is doing its job. If it isn’t doing this, then you probably didn’t sterilize the equipment properly and will have to start all over. If it’s bubbly, then cap it up and place it in your closet for another 9 days.

Day 14: Sanitize your secondary bucket and siphon the wine mixture into this bucket. Now it’s time to mix in the rest of the ingredients in order and stirring after adding each component. Start off with the Sulphite and then add the  Potassium Sorbate, Kieselsol and Chitosan. Allow to sit for 5 minutes. Now sanitize the airlock and place it on your container. Place it your closet for 2 more weeks.

Day 28: Your wine is now done and ready to be bottled. After you have bottled it, place it in your wine cooler and chill it down. If you don’t have a cooler, then check wine cooler reviews and buy a good one. Congratulations on making your first batch of wine!

How To Decant Wine

If you’ve ever wondered what the correct process for decanting wine is, then don’t worry because you are not alone. Not many people outside of expert wine circles know much about decanting and it can have an almost mystical quality about it. And that isn’t helped by the lack of quality guides on the subject. All over the Internet you can find wine cooler reviews, advice on selecting and serving wines and even tips on selecting glass ware. However, there isn’t a whole lot of information on the subject of properly decanting a wine. I aim to change that today.

The purpose of this guide is to demystify the decanting process and show how it can improve the quality of your wine. If you read this guide closely, then you will not only learn about the purpose of decanting but you will also learn how to properly do it.

What is Wine Decanting

Wine decanting is merely the process of transferring the wine from the bottle into another container; a container called a decanter. There are two reasons to decant a wine. First, it acts to aerate the wine. Second, it removes sediment from the wine.

Red wines tend to develop a sediment in the bottom of the bottles as they age. This sediment not only clouds the wine but it can impart tannic or bitter compounds into the wine, therefore making it less enjoyable to drink. That is why wine decanting is so important.

Prepare To Decant

The first thing you need to do before you begin the process of decanting is to locate a proper decanter. There are many different varieties available, but they can be generally broken down into two categories. The old fashioned versions that are basically just glass vessels, and the modern versions that strain the wine as you pour it through. It doesn’t matter which one you choose, either one will work.

The next thing you will want to do is to place your wine in your best wine cooler and cool it to proper temperature at least 24 hours before you open it and decant it. While you are storing it, it should be placed upright so the sediment can settle on the bottom of the bottle.

Time To Decant

Now you can begin to decant the wine. Pour it slowly into the decanter until you have emptied about half of the bottle into it. When you reach this mark, slow down your pouring even further. When the sediment reaches the neck of the bottle, then you should stop. Discard the remaining sediment laden wine from your bottle.

Wines that are 10 years or older should be decanted for about 30 minutes. Younger wines can be decanted for a longer period of time, but should never be decanted for more than an hour. You might want to try out different times to see which is best for your particular wine. Once you’ve done that you can then enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Basic Types Of Red Wine

My last article on the basics of white wine was received so enthusiastically, I’ve decided I am going to cover the basic types of  red wines. As in the previous article, please remember that this guide is intended as a primer for those of you who have little to no experience with wines and it isn’t necessarily intended for those who are well versed in wine. In this guide, I am not only going to show you the different types of red wine, but I am also going to show you what flavor profiles you can expect from each variety and what food pairs best with them.

A word of caution before we begin, however. While red wine isn’t as sensitive to temperature changes as white wines—in fact some are best served warm—it is still important to buy the best wine cooler available to store your wine. Especially if you are buying quite a few different varieties.

Shiraz: This type of wine is one that is usually crafted in Europe, but there are also some great Australian and American brands of this wine. Shiraz is a spicy full body red that has a blackcurrant overtone and may has some peppery secondary notes. It is a wine that is best served with roasted meats and wild game.

Merlot: This red wine is one that is recognized by just about everyone; both wine novices and seasoned pros. It often displays plum or black cherry notes and has less of a tannin flavor than its cousin,  Cabernet Sauvignon. Because of the versatility of this wine, it can be paired with just about any type of food and it will complement it.

Cabernet Sauvignon: This wine has a full body taste that is sort of acidic. Because of the high tannin level of this wine, it is best to keep it stored at around 52 degrees so that it’s rich flavor profile isn’t altered too much. That is why you should check wine cooler reviews to find a cooler that can operate in this temperature range. A good Cabernet Sauvignon can be served with any type of red meat.

Pinot noir: Pinot noir can be describes as the exact opposite of Cabernet Sauvignon. Instead of a rich, viscous body it has a delicate and fresh tasting body. It often has a fruity flavor that is underpinned by earthy tones. It is best served with lamb, chicken, sushi and salmon.

Sangiovese: This is a medium body wine that is produced in Italy and California. It often has berry or plum undertones. Sangiovese is best served with Mediterranean and Italian dishes.

Barbera: This red wine has much of the same characteristics as Merlot, but isn’t as popular. It has a silky texture that has a good acid level and has black cherry notes to it. Barbera is a red wine that is best served with dishes that contain a tomato-based sauce, but its versatility really allows it to be served with just about any dish.

Tasting Wine Like The Pros

You see it all the time in movies and television shows. Wine connoisseurs spending a large amount of time inspecting and fussing over their glasses of wine. It is almost a cliché and might just seem to be wine snobbery at its most grandiose. However, I assure you that there is actually a purpose to tasting wine, and it isn’t so you can make yourself look like a wine expert.

Wine tasting allows a person to not only inspect the general quality of the wine, but also allows them to experience the notes of the wine with all of their senses. When a person properly tastes a wine, then they are embarking on a sensual experience like no other. It is not snobbery, it is making wine drinking an all-around experience.

Your wine should be cooled to temperature in unit that has received a lot of wine cooler reviews. This is the first step to enjoying any wine. By making sure that your wine is cooled down to the precise temperature in your best wine cooler, you are assuring it will be at its peak. Once it has reached optimal temperature, then you can uncork it, and this is where the actual wine testing begins.

The first thing you are going to want to do is to inspect the cork. At this stage you’ll want to examine the cork to make sure that the wine wasn’t exposed to the elements. The cork should be fully intact and have just a little wine on the bottom. If it is cracked, moist or has wine stains on the top or the sides, then the wine may have been exposed to air. This is also true if the cork is hard and dry. At this point, you can also smell the cork. If the cork has a moldy or vinegar smell to it, then most likely the wine is no good.

The next thing you are going to want to do is to pour a small amount of wine into your glass and swirl it around a little bit. This action increases the wine’s surface area and allows it to come into contact with the air, therefore releasing its aroma. Bring the glass up to your nose and smell it. During this step, you can really get your nose down into the glass and breathe in its aroma. If it has any unpleasant scents, then this may be an indication that you won’t want to drink this particular wine.

After the wine has passed this preliminary inspection, you can then fill the glass about 1/3 full of wine. As you sip it, you can continue to enjoy not only the wine’s flavor but also its aroma. You have now tasted your first glass of wine.

Ordering Wine On A Date – Part Two

This is the second part of my series on How To Order Wine on a Date. In the first part, I told you how to prepare your wine selection during the reservation process and how to order wine depending on what your date prefers and your food choices. Now I am going to give you a few more tips on ordering wine during a date. Tips that will make you look like a seasoned wine professional.

As I said in my last article, the majority of the articles I write are wine cooler reviews. However, I do have plenty of experience order wine in a restaurant and have found the following tips to be really helpful in navigating the whole experience.

Determining What To Spend

You don’t want to look like a cheap skate ordering wine, but you certainly don’t want to break the bank ordering it either. How do you resolve this dilemma? Just spend what you are comfortable spending. Just because a wine has a high price doesn’t mean it’s the best wine. Likewise, just because a wine is priced lower doesn’t mean that it’s garbage. There are a lot of good wines that are moderately priced, trust me.

If price can’t help you choose a quality wine then what will? This is the part where you can enlist the help of the server. Once you have narrowed down your wine choices to just three selections (based on your date’s preference, your price point and your meal selection), then tell your server that you are considering these three different wines and ask them for a recommendation. Your server will then recommend the best choice of these three. Sometimes the server will even surprise you and offer you a wine you never even considered since he/she now knows your price range by the three selections you are considering.

Order By The Bottle

Most of the time you will want to order wine by the bottle. That’s because it is not only cheaper than ordering by the glass, but because a bottle contains the perfect portion of wine for a couple (usually four to five glasses, depending on how it’s poured). However, if you want to match your wine to each individual course, then you might want to order by the glass.

The Dreaded Wine Presentation

Many people don’t know what they are supposed to do when the server begins his or hers ritualistic wine presentation. That’s okay, because it is really simple. This little ritual is done to help you choose a wine that hasn’t gone bad. After all, even if the restaurant has the best wine cooler in the world, sometimes things go wrong and a wine will go bad. This will make more sense as I detail the process.

The first thing the server is going to do is show you the bottle’s label. The purpose of this is so you can make sure you are getting the actual wine you ordered. Look at the label. If it’s what you ordered, then nod and the server will continue. If it isn’t, then let the server know. Hey, servers are human too and can make mistakes like anyone else. Just don’t make a big fuss about it. Tell him or her it’s not what you ordered and they’ll correct the mistake.

The server will then uncork the bottle and hand it to your or occasionally, lay it on the table. This is so you can examine it. Pick it up and look at it. If it’s dry, crumbly, too wet or shriveled, then that’s probably a bad sign.

Next your server will pour you a small glass. Swirl it around a few seconds and smell it. If it has a bad smell to it, then it probably is a bad wine. However, you should still taste it to make sure. Take a little sip. If it’s bad, then tell your server it’s bad and he/she will bring you another bottle. If not, then tell your server it’s fine and enjoy. Now you know how to order wine on a date.