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.
Today, I am going to explain to you what dessert wines are and the types that are available. Once you read this guide you will have all the information you need to not only purchase one of these wines but also to enjoy it. Dessert wines have always been a special pleasure for me and I know that once you try them out, they will be for you as well.
Before I begin this guide however, I want to give you one tip. Make sure that you have a good wine cooler before you purchase a dessert wine. That’s because these wines need to be served at their ideal temperature to taste their best. If you don’t own a really good cooler, then be sure to check out wine cooler reviews and select one that will suit your purpose. Now that’s been said, it’s time to get on with our guide.
Dessert wines can be broken down into 5 categories which include: Sparkling, Fortified, Sweet Red, Lightly Sweet and Richly Sweet. Each of these have their own unique characteristics. Let’s examine each wine individually.
Sparkling Dessert Wine
This is a very sweet wine but you might not be able to tell because its bubbles and high acidic content seems to cut the sweet taste. Just how sweet or acidic it is can be determined by the label. The less sweet versions (also called dry) have the words Demi-Sec or Semi Secco on the label. Sweet versions have the words Amabile, Doux, Dolce or Moelleux on the label. Of these sweet varieties, Amabile is the least sweet one.
Fortified Dessert Wine
Fortified wine is basically when a grape brandy is added to a wine. These types of wines can be either sweet or dry. Fortified wines have about 20% alcohol content by volume. Port, Sherry and Madeira are some of the wines in this category.
Sweet Red Wine
Finding a good sweet red wine is difficult these days because so many manufacturers are only making this wine in the cheaper varieties. However, there are still a few good ones left out there. These include Lambrusco, Brachetto d’Acqui, Freisa and Recioto della Valpolicella.
Lightly Sweet Wine
Lightly sweet wines are the ultimate dessert wine for fruit-based desserts or vanilla flavored desserts. That’s because they have a sweet, fruity or flowery taste to them. The best wines in this category usually come from Germany, although there are plenty of good American and French brands out there. Some of the lightly sweet wines on the market today include Gewürztraminer, Riesling, Müller-Thurgau and Chenin Blanc. These wines are usually best served cold, so be sure you have them in your best wine cooler at least 24 hours before being served.
Richly Sweet Dessert Wine
This type of wine usually uses the best grapes, aged over 50 years and is unfortified. As the name suggests, this wine is very rich and sweet. Some of the more common brands on the market include Sauternes, Tokaji, Vin Santo and Strohwein.
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.
In my article, “How To Serve Wine – The Basics”, I gave you the first few stages of serving wine. I told you how to check wine cooler reviews to pick the best cooler, the optimal temperature to serve various types of wine and even told you how to choose glass ware. All of the things that I consider to be the basics of wine serving. Today, I am going to give you the second part of this series and give you the advanced techniques you need to know to serve wine. Follow these steps and you will not only notice that your wines have that special “pop” but that you and your guests are happier with the wines served.
Pop The Cork
There are a variety of different ways for uncorking a bottle of wine. For some of the more advanced techniques of uncorking please refer to my guide on How To Open A Bottle Of Wine for a full explanation.
The simplest technique for uncorking is to remove the foil from your bottle with a Sommelier Knife and then removing the cork with a standard bottle corkscrew. While you are uncorking the bottle you should be careful not to break the cork into pieces and remove it as one whole piece.
Decant The Wine
Almost every red wine out there tastes better when it is decanted. The time-tested method is to pour the wine into a decanter and allow it exposure to oxygen for about 30 minutes. Some people choose to use an aerator because it is quicker. Which ever method you choose however, you should be careful not to let the wine sit too long. For an advanced lesson on proper decanting, please see my article How To Decant Wine.
Pour The Wine
Proper wine pouring can take some practice, but once you have got the hang of it, then it becomes fairly easy. Since most bottles of wine typically contain about 25 ounces of wine, some people like to pour 5 ounce glasses. That way, you get 5 glasses of evenly poured wine from the bottle. I on the other hand like to pour 3 ounces of wine into a glass at a time. The method that you choose doesn’t really matter, just be sure to be consistent and for goodness sake don’t spill any of the wine.
And that is all there is to serving a perfect bottle of wine. Before I go however, I would like to make one more addition to this article. I want to remind you that a wine served cold will get warmer in the glass, while a wine served warm will only get warmer in the glass. Therefore, it is important to not only buy the best wine cooler, but to chill the wine a little below target temperature. That way, when the wine warms it will reach the ideal serving temperature for the wine.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
In the first part of our guide How To Buy A Wine Cooler, I showed you some of the basic features you need to consider before purchasing a cooler. The things which were covered include temperature range and bottle capacity. That article also covered the need to compare units on wine cooler reviews, so if you haven’t read that first part, then you should definitely check it out.
On the other hand, if you read the first part of our guide and are ready to learn about some of the other features you need to keep an eye out for before purchasing a cooler, then let’s get down to it. We have some invaluable tips for you today.
Another thing to look out for when purchasing a cooler is whether it has UV protection or not. Many people mistakenly think that since a wine cooler is only intended to be used as a short-term wine storage solution, that it doesn’t matter if it has UV protection. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Experts agree that most of the UV damage that may occur to wine happens in the first few hours of storage. Therefore, you should always choose a model with UV protection whenever possible.
Compressor Or Thermoelectric?
The two basic methods of refrigeration that most wine coolers use are either a compressor based system or a thermoelectric system. Each of these systems has their own advantages and disadvantages. Let’s check out some of these pros and cons.
Compressor based systems are more efficient at cooling down your wine and are better at withstanding temperature extremes than thermoelectric based systems, but they do have their drawbacks. One, these units are usually louder than the thermoelectric systems and since they have more moving parts they tend to wear out sooner. They may also produce a vibration that may be unsuitable for ideal wine storage conditions and although they cool more efficiently they often use more electricity.
Thermoelectric models have several advantages over compressor based models. They are usually silent and produce little to no vibration, they have less moving parts and therefore don’t wear out as fast, and they use very little electricity. Plus, since they don’t use CFC’s to cool down the wine they are often more environmentally friendly. The downside of these models is that they are often very sensitive to room operating conditions and often take a long time to get the wine down to temperature.
Single Zone Vs. Dual Zone
Another thing to consider is whether you need a single zone cooler or a dual zone cooler. The one you need really depends on the variety of wines you consume. If you only drink one kind of wine, then a single zone is probably the best wine cooler for you. However, if you drink different types of wine, then you will probably want to get a dual zone model because you can keep one type of wine at one temperature and another type at a different temperature.
And that is all you need to know in order to buy the best cooler unit for yourself. Follow these guidelines and you’ll most certainly find the perfect wine cooler for you.
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.
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.
A person might be the greatest wine enthusiast in the world and might not know much about sparkling wines. In fact, most people know little more about these type of wines than how to take them out of their best wine cooler and serve them. That is why I am writing this article today. Consider this article a primer that will teach you everything you need to know about sparkling wines.
What Makes Sparkling Wine So Sparkly?
Quite simply, carbon dioxide puts the sparkle into this brand of wine. This invisible gas creates the bubbles—or if you prefer, the effervescence—that makes sparkling wines sparkle. Why did vintners start making sparkling wine, you ask? Well, it’s quite simple. It was accidentally discovered as the result of a process of dual fermentation within kegs. A happy accident that has created some of the best wines in the world.
Today, vintners use two separate methods to create this secondary fermentation process. They either use the Méthode Traditionnelle, or the Traditional Method in English, or they use the more modern method called the Charmat Method. When the first batches of Champagne were being made, it was under the Traditional Method, but as time went on and Champagne became more popular, then alternative methods had to be explored that were less labor intensive and quicker.
That’s Interesting, But How Do I Serve It?
Okay, that was probably more of a history lesson than you really wanted. You probably just want to get down to the specifics of serving this great wine. That’s okay, I am going to take care of that right this second.
Sparkling wine should be served at a very cold temperature around 40 degrees. Champagne on the other hand should optimally be served at around 45 degrees. These temperatures have been gleaned from years of experience and shouldn’t be deviated from because these wines are at their peak at these temperatures.
When you are chilling down a sparkling wine or Champagne, you should never use your household freezer. This will result in your wine losing some of its effervescence. You really need to store it in a wine cooler specifically built for sparkling wines. You can find one of these models by searching through various wine cooler reviews and finding one that suits your needs.
What Food Should I Serve With My Sparkling Wine?
I’m glad you asked this question. Foods that are sweet, fried in oil or salty should be served with Champagne. That’s because these foods and Champagne complement each other so well. Blanc de Blancs tend to go well with avocado based dishes and Italian pasta served in a white sauce. It also pairs well with Chinese food, poultry and rich desserts. Extra dry or Brut wines pair very well with any type of cheese, as well as seafood. And Blanc de Noirs tend to pair well with appetizers, poultry and fruit.