Categories
Articles

18 of The Best Wine Quotes

“Wine is sunlight held together by water.” – Galileo

“What I like most is wine that belongs to others.” – Diogenes

“We are born at a given moment, in a given place and, like vintage years of wine, we have the qualities of the year and of the season of which we are born. Astrology does not lay claim to anything more.” – Carl Jung

“In Europe we thought of wine as something as healthy and normal as food and also a great giver of happiness and well being and delight. Drinking wine was not a snobbism nor a sign of sophistication nor a cult; it was as natural as eating and to me as necessary.” — Ernest Hemingway

“Language is wine upon the lips.” – Virginia Woolf

“Wine is bottled poetry.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

“A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.” — Hannibal Lecter, The Silence of the Lambs

“In victory, you deserve Champagne. In defeat you need it.” ― Napoleon Bonaparte

“Music is the wine which inspires one to new generative processes, and I am Bacchus who presses out this glorious wine for mankind and makes them spiritually drunken.” – Ludwig van Beethoven

“What though youth gave love and roses, Age still leaves us friends and wine.” – Thomas Moore

“Life is too short, and I’m Italian. I’d much rather eat pasta and drink wine than be a size 0.” – Sophia Bush

“Music is the wine that fills the cup of silence.” –Robert Fripp

“I love everything that’s old – old friends, old time, old manners, old books, old wine.” – Oliver Goldsmith

“If you go back to the Greeks and Romans, they talk about all three – wine, food and art – as a way of enhancing life.” – Robert Mondavi

“Give me books, French wine, fruit, fine weather and a little music played out of doors by somebody I do not know.” ― John Keats

“I like to drink wine more than I used to.”—Don Vito Corleone, The Godfather

“I regard those as wise who employ old wine freely and study old stories.” — Plautus (Titus Maccius Plautus), Roman playwright, 254-184 B.C

“Chi ha pane e vino, sta meglio del suo vicino.”(“Who has bread and wine is better off than his neighbor.”) – Italian proverb

Categories
Articles

7 Easy Wine Hacks To Make You Look Like a Wine Pro

#1 Reinserting the stained side of the wine cork

Here’s an easy one to get started. When you are reinserting a cork back into the bottle for storage, you should always insert the stained side towards the wine. Essentially putting it back in the same way it came out.

Granted, it will be a little easier to insert the smaller side upside down, but resist that urge and squeeze it back down the way it came out. The reason? Because that stained side of the cork has already come into contact with the wine. Anything that might be on the clean side of the cork would have the potential of exposing the wine to new external elements.

#2 Decant More Than One Bottle of Wine With Only One Wine Decanter

This is a common problem around our house, and one that I finally found a great solution for. The situation is this: you’re hosting a party or having your wine friends over, but you only have one or two wine decanters. You have three bottles to decant in the hours leading up to the party. What do you do?

First of all, understand that simply opening the wine and pulling the cork out does very little to decant the wine. Sure, you are unlocking the wine from its preserved state, but very little surface area of the wine is making contact with air. It will take forever to decant a wine like this.

Instead, buy a small funnel for $2 next time you’re at the supermarket. Don’t get the tiniest one you can find because you don’t want any wine to spill out of the top.

Just make the sure the spout will fit in the neck of a bottle of wine and the cup you’re pouring into is large enough to provide spills. Then decant the first wine for an hour or so, pour it back in its original bottle, and move on to the next one. And so on.

By the time your guests arrive you can have all your wines decanted, sitting in the original bottle ready to go which is fun to pour anyway, plus you now have an empty decanter ready for any bottles that your guests bring.

#3 Create An Easy Foil Cork Display

This is a simple little pro move that I like. When you open a bottle, give the top of the bottle a nice clean, circular cut. Using a foil cutter helps.

This will create a circle disc shaped piece of foil which you can turn upside down and then gently lay the cork on and press to shape the foil around it.  Place the cork display in front of the bottle when serving.

Now all of your guests can take a gander at the condition of the cork for the bottle you opened. I don’t know about you, but I’m always interested to look at the corks on different wines of different ages.

This simple display is a little better than just tossing the cork on the table, or even worse, throwing it away.

#4 Properly Pour Bubbly Wine

All type of sparkling wine will fizz like crazy when you pour them into an empty glass. You don’t want to look like the guy who pours his beer into a glass only to get flustered as the foam reaches the top and starts billowing over the side, making you wonder how many beers this person’s poured in their life.

The goal is not to get the wine (or beer) from the bottle to the glass as fast as possible. By taking just another few precious seconds, you can make a good clean pour, in a manner that is much more social anyway.

First pour a small splash of the sparkling wine in each person’s glass. Then go back to the first person’s glass and fill them up the rest of the way. This is a classy move that you see few people actually do, but you should.

#5 Open Wine Bottles With a Key

If you’re ever in a serious bind trying to get a cork out without an opener, you can always push the cork down inside the wine, which is easier said than done. Another solution to try first is the key trick.

Take any key that has a sharp jagged edge. Push it into the top of the cork diagonally as far as it will go. Then wrap a shirt or a towel around the end of the key for leverage, and while holding the bottle tight, begin to twist the key and the cork in a circular motion. As you twist, gently pull up on the cork, until it rises out the rest of the way.

#6 Quickly Chill a Warm White Wine

You have undoubtedly encountered the situation of having a warm bottle of white wine that you want to drink and serve right away. Solution #1: put an ice cube in the glass. Solution #2: throw it in the freezer. Both bad ideas.

Here’s what to do. Realize the fastest way to cool liquid is to surround it with other cooler liquid. Fill a bowl or a serving bucket (or even a plastic pitcher) with a “half cold water,” “half ice” mix and put the bottle in.

Using all ice is much slower than a cold ice water bath. From room temperature to proper drinking temperature, you’re looking at 10 minutes, give or take. While you wait, put the serving glasses in the refrigerator.

#7 Set Up A Wine Chilling Station in a Hotel Room

I have a few problems with chilling wine in hotel rooms. The first one is that the ice bucket is almost always too small and even if it’s not, it can only hold one bottle. My second issue is that ice access can be a long way from your room, maybe even on another floor.

Now one good solution is to call ahead and ask the hotel to remove all the items from the mini bar, which many will do. And you can use that. When I have multiple bottles to keep chilled though I actually prefer to use the sink in the bathroom combined with a lot of ice. Here’s why and how to best do it.

Use one of the laundry bags from the hotel room closet to get your ice. This way you can move a lot more ice on one trip than you could with the wimpy clear bags that they put in the wine buckets.

Put the stopper in the sink, fill it with a little water, throw the bottles and the ice in, and you’re good to go. When it melts, all you do is pull the stopper and everything disappears down the drain. Piece of cake.

Categories
Articles

7 Lesser Known Wine Regions That Deliver Exceptional Quality and Value Right Now

Developing a complete appreciation for the world of wine frequently requires stepping out of your comfort zone.  And it’s hard to do, and rather expensive if you do it regularly.

But on every trip to the store, I try to buy one bottle that I am not familiar with, or a wine from a region I haven’t tried before. In doing that over many years, I’ve discovered a lot of wines I never knew that I would enjoy from areas I never would have expected.

Some are wines from small pockets of Rhone or tiny sub-regions in Italy that are still relatively in the mainstream. Others were varietals I didn’t know existed. Many others have been from countries few people talk about in the wine world. 

They are produced in places that few people visit. They are wines that right now, might not be showing up on restaurant wine lists, but they might soon.

And more than anything, because they are yet to be discovered by the masses, you can acquire very high quality wine at super competitive prices.  That’s what attracts me to them and the journey of discovering these wines is a never-ending game with rich rewards.

Here are seven countries that are a little off the beaten path, some more than others, but all of them are producing stellar wines, that bang for the buck, set a pretty high bar in terms of quality.  In a blind taste test against wines of similar cost, it’d be hard to beat many of these.

Hungary

Hungary produces excellent white, red and rosé wines.  The Tokaj (pronounced toe-kay) region is among the more famous in the country and is known for sweet white wines made from native varietals that are super difficult to pronounce.

But while Tokaj wines are becoming more widely available, I’ve found favor more with wines from Hungary’s Villany region that produces tasty rosé along with dry reds comprised of Bordeaux varietals including Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot along with the local grapes Kekfrankos and Portugieser. 

Villany benefits from a Mediterranean climate that is hot in the summer and mild in the winter, and is an area known for producing many of Hungary’s most award winning wines.  Keep an eye out for these.

Moldova

I’ve written extensively about Moldovan wine in the past, and I continue to find these wines to be very interesting across all their styles – red, white and rosé.

The local grape, Rara Neagra, is herbal on the nose, fruity, acidic, with sour cherry notes.  It produces big strong red wines that are perfect to enjoy with red meat, or hearty red sauce cuisine.  Rara Neagra is bottled on its own but can also be found with other Bordeaux varietals in red blends that are quite tasty.

Austria

In Austria, home of many awesome wines and unique varietals, a wine that is on the rise that you need to know about is Gruner Veltliner (pronounced GROO-ner Velt-leen-er), also known as Groovy or GruV.  I imagine many people pass this one up on the wine list since the pronunciation can be a little tricky, but missing out on these wines is a big mistake.

Gruner Veltliner is often very affordably priced, in restaurants and retail (frequently under $15-$20 retail) and is an absolutely delicious varietal.

Gruners are typically dry, sometimes with a slight touch of effervescence, and are tangy and acidic with bell pepper, lime, citrus fruit and dill notes.  They are food friendly and refreshing especially in warm weather.

South Africa

South African wines are also on the rise and more readily accessible at restaurants and retail shops than ever before.  The king grape of South Africa is Pinotage, which is a hybrid between Pinot Noir and Cinsault, resulting in wines that are rich, tannic, earthy and herbal with dark fruit flavor.

Pinotage is frequently blended with other popular Bordeaux varietals to create what’s become known as the “Cape Blend.”  This usually includes Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot along with Shiraz and Cinsault.

But South African Chardonnay might be where it’s at right now.  Chenin Blanc is a popular white, but more high quality Chardonnay seems to be coming from South Africa, and much of it can be scored under $25.

South African Chardonnay is often characterized by citrus fruit flavor, peach, apple, along with notes of spice and oak in a full bodied, creamy dry wine. (I interviewed the founders of South Africa’s House of Mandela Wines for HuffPost who shared their insights into the current state of wine in South Africa, as well as the leadership roles women play in the wine and spirits industries)

Greece

Greek wines aren’t super easy to find.  Even at the Total Wine near me, there’s a category header for Greece but only a handful of bottles, one of which is the superb Skouras Saint George Nemea ($16), which is made from the Agiorgitiko grape.

This wine is an excellent value and a perfect expression of the varietal, which is the most popular grape variety in the country. Agiorgitiko is spicy, dry with red fruit flavor, sometimes slightly sweet and with lower acidity than similar grapes.  It is frequently bottled on its own but can also be blended with other dry reds including Cabernet Sauvignon and it can also be used to make rosé wines.

Serbia

Serbia isn’t the first country you think of when shopping for wine, but it’s a country with a rich history of winemaking and today, it is becoming more recognized globally for producing high quality wines.

A popular indigenous grape, Prokupac, is one to put on your radar.  This is a popular grape used in Serbian rosé wines as well as dry red wines where it is frequently blended with Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot and Pinot Noir.

Prokupac is usually tannic with rich black cherry, plum and blackberry flavors and generally high sugar levels which increases the alcohol level in the wines.

Slovenia

Slovenian wine might be the most obscure on this list, but it’s a wine producing country we want to put on your radar in the event you have a chance to taste their wines.

Two important areas to note are Goriska Brda and Starjerska.

In Brda you’ll find wines made from most of the major varietals, red and white, to include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc along with the lesser known Rebula which is a popular white.

In Starjerska, just south of the Austrian border, you’ll also find popular white varietals and white blends that can include Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, resulting in wines with citrus, peach and mango flavors.

There you have it.  Hopefully a few wines areas that you can make note of and keep your eyes out for next time you visit a restaurant with an eclectic list, or a wine shop that dares to think outside the norm.

Categories
Articles

How to Ace Your Next Visit to a Wine Tasting Room

Visiting a winery, especially for the first time, can be intimidating and uncomfortable, but if you follow these tips and put yourself in the right frame of mind, visiting wineries can be one of the most rewarding, fun and educational things you do on your wine journey.

The first thing you want to do is make a plan of which wineries you want to visit, noting their location, creating an order that makes the most sense, and then be sure to call or check online to see if an appointment is necessary.  You may want to do this weeks in advance if possible to increase the likelihood that you can make the appointment.

Tip: when researching the winery websites, pay attention for special events, or special tastings they may offer.  Sometimes, these will cost a little extra but they can give invaluable access to winery staff, the grounds, and special wines, all of which will help build your knowledge about wine and winemaking.  Some tastings come with food pairings (always recommended), while others may give you a chance to blend different varietals and sample the results.

Once you have a plan, the most important thing is to be on time, if not a few minutes early.  Vineyards are beautiful places and visitors are frequently encouraged to walk around, so take advantage of being in a beautiful place and not having to rush around.

wine tasting

When you begin tasting, and wine is poured, start slow, look at the color, give it a smell.  Don’t just slam it down and look for the next glass.  Make a point to not drink faster than the majority of people joining you, or if you have a host sampling with you, consume at the same pace as he or she does.

As you’re sampling, spend most of your time listening to what the host tells you about the wine and how it was made, but don’t be afraid to ask questions or inquire further about something they say.  Hosts at wineries love their jobs as you can imagine, and will be more than happy to answer your questions or delve deeper into areas they think you and the group are more interested in.

Also, remember it is 100% ok to spit the wine out, regardless if it’s a sample of the winery’s prized estate red.  Remember the reason for you being there.  It’s a tasting, not a pre-funk before a football game.  The idea is to taste, to learn, to find elements you like, and maybe others you don’t.  If you want to party down wait until that evening, or when you get home and buy a full bottle of the wine to drink to your fancy.

Related to this, is the fact that you shouldn’t ask your host to pour you more wine.  Don’t hold your glass out looking for them to tip the bottle your way.  Sometimes, they may ask if there was a wine that you particularly enjoyed and they will pour you more.  But their goal is to let you sample the wines, develop an idea for what’s offered, and of course, they’d love to sell you a few bottles too.

Depending on the environment and what country you’re tasting in, tips are generally not necessary, unless a host goes above and beyond.  I’ve had several occasions where I was presented with higher end bottle tastings that were not on the regular menu.  In cases like this, a tip makes sense, and most of the hosts or serving staff will accept them.

Whatever you do, don’t drink too much and then show up to a winery at the end of the day half in the bag and unable to discern what you’re drinking.  That’s really seen as an insult to the tasting rooms that are trying to provide a fun, and relaxed environment for their patrons.

More than anything, relax and have fun.  Dress smart but comfortable. Don’t wear perfume or cologne.  Don’t drink too much.  Spit when you start to feel a buzz. Ask questions.  Listen.  Talk to the people around you because everyone is there for the same reason.  And enjoy some good wine because it usually tastes best when you’re standing next to where the grapes were grown.