Smaller wine containers 7-13-2022

You demanded wine options. Winemakers heard you and new options—some might call them marketing gimmicks—are being created as fast as they can be dreamed up. Continue reading “Smaller wine containers 7-13-2022”

Chilled red wines 7-6-2022

NEWS FLASH: We are in the “Dog Days of Summer,” or “High Summer” as it was called in the Old South. Whatever you call the scorching time between early July and mid-August, it is time to chill your wines.

That includes chilling red wines. Forget the myth that chilling reds means killing reds. Lighter, less alcoholic, less tannic, less oaky red wines do fine chilled. And, yes, you can even put an ice cube in your glass if you wish.

Some chillable reds:

• Cinsault’s delicate tannins and its strawberry and cherry flavors show well when chilled.

• Gamay, best known for its use in Beaujolais. Chill its lighter-bodied iterations.

• New World pinot noirs with lighter bodies and more fruit-forward approaches work well. Heavier pinot noirs, including lower-end, mass-produced pinots are not as suitable.

• Zweigelt, Austria’s most-planted red, brings cherries and chocolate and soft tannins to the chilled red strategy.

Zweigelt leaf and grapes. Photo by Bauer Karl.

You likely have other favored lighter reds. Experiment. If you don’t like the red chilled, leave it alone and in this season of triple-digit days, it will warm up soon enough to be enjoyed in your air-conditioned abode.

General tips:

• Chilled reds should be between 50 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

• Chill the bottle to your refrigerator’s temperature, then take it out an hour before serving.

• Conversely, put the bottle in your refrigerator 30-45 minutes before serving.

• Chill in a bucket of ice and water—ice alone is too slow. Add salt to the water speed things up even more.

If you are not willing to warm to chilled reds, you can always fall back on chilled rosés and light, bright whites. There is no reason to eschew wine just because cows are producing evaporated milk and hot water is coming out of both your taps.

Tasting notes:

• Sokol Blosser Estate Rosé of Pinot Noir, Dundee Hills, Oregon 2021: Chill out with this chilled on a hot summer’s day. $17-25 Link to my review

• Domaine de Cala Rosé, Coteaux Varois, Provence 2021: Restrained red fruits flirt with your palate rather than assault it; 60% cinsault. $19-21 Link to my review

• McCay Cellars Rosé of Cinsault, Lodi Appellation 2019: Provence-style rosé from quality Lodi producer. Follows cinsault varietal profile very closely. $35 Link to my review

Last round: It was so hot farmers fed their chickens ice so they wouldn’t lay boiled eggs. Wine time.

Mendoza Argentina 6-29-2022

If you drink Argentinean wine—who doesn’t, given its high quality and excellent QPR (quality-to-price ratio)—you likely have seen Mendoza on the label. Continue reading “Mendoza Argentina 6-29-2022”

Father’s Day 6-15-2022

When this wine column began more than 14 years ago, Father’s Day was not a topic. Men drank beer, women drank wine. That was just the way it was. Continue reading “Father’s Day 6-15-2022”

Wine and sports 6-1-2022

In the antediluvian 20th century, you likely associated beer with sporting events and athletes. Today, in the bright, shining enlightenment of the 21st century, wine can claim its spot alongside beer as a sports libation. Beer guzzlers would demure—likely with a belch—but they would be wrong. Continue reading “Wine and sports 6-1-2022”

Fruit wines 5-18-2022

Almost all the wine we drink is made from various varieties of Vitis vinifera, a grape native to the Mediterranean and Central Asia. There are more than 10,000 varieties of this genus of grape.

But Vitis vinifera is not the only fruit that produces wine.
Virtually any fruit can produce wine.

Vitis labrusca is a grape native to eastern North America. Some wines are made with Vitis labrusca, but you likely know it better as Concord grape juice and Concord grape jelly.

Concord grape jelly (Photo by Famartin)

• Strawberry wine uses strawberries, water, lemon juice, yeast, and sugar. Sugar and water are key ingredients in most fruit wines. Sugar is needed because many fruit wines do not have enough natural sugar to support fermentation, but you can go light on the added sugar to produce a dry, low-alcohol wine. Strawberry wine aroma is distinct and agreeable, and the wine delivers a parade of pleasant flavors.

• Plum wine is made from fermented plums in a way similar to how apples are used for cider. It is particularly associated with the north Cotswolds in south-central England.

• Pineapple wine is a soft, dry wine with a strong pineapple bouquet. In Mexico, it is called tepache and has an alcohol content similar to beer. Pineapple wine also is popular in Thailand and other southeast Asian countries.

• Pomegranate wine is commercially produced in Israel and marketed as Rimon. The Israeli wine is made from a special variety of pomegranates developed to deliver high levels of sugar for fermentation.

• Dandelion wine uses dandelion petals, sugar, and—often—lemon juice. Most dandelion wine is homemade, but several U.S. wineries produce it as a commercial product.

• Banana wine is made from ripe bananas that are mashed and then boiled for several hours to form a base of juice and pulp. The resulting mash is strained, sugar is added, and the juice boiled again. Fermentation lasts up to three weeks, then sterilized water is added to dilute the wine. It is particularly associated with Tanzania, the Philippines, and India.

• Cherry wine is made using tart cherries and can be the basis of fortified wines and liqueurs. Michigan is the leading cherry wine state—it is the leading cherry-producing state after all.

These are some of the most popular fruit wines. Other fruit wines are made with oranges, lychee, blackberry, blackcurrant, blueberry, cranberry, elderberry, gooseberry, raspberry, and mulberry. All you need is fruit juice, sugar, yeast, and time. Voilà! Wine.

Last round: How do you impress a female baker? Send her flours. Wine time.