Random wine facts to calm timorous tipplers and furnish factoids to help you impress friends.
• Ever worry when a wine review recommends “drink now” and the review was written five years ago? What does that mean? Throw out the wine?
No. Standard meaning of “drink now” is the wine is not likely to improve with age—now is as good as wine will get. Wine is not milk. The wine may not improve with age, it might lose some fruitiness and freshness, but it will not send you to the ER. Almost all wine you buy is made to drink immediately. Stored correctly, it also will safely last years past its “drink now” date.
• Few wine makers today use barefoot stompers to crush grapes, but vestiges remain.
An ideal grape stomper had large feet and weighed 120 pounds. Weight was the most important, and winery parents urged sons to pick brides using that parameter. If you weigh less than 120, you don’t extract all the juice from the berries. If you weigh significantly more, you get the juice but you also crack seeds, making for bitter wine. Today’s mechanical presses are set for 120 pounds.
• Table grapes and wine grapes are different. Table grapes are bigger, crunchier, have thin skins and little or no seeds—they also are sturdy enough to survive trip to your table. Table grapes are crisp and refreshing, but are not ripe enough and do not have skin-seed-pulp ratio required for good wine.
Wine grapes are more fragile, sweeter, juicier, and usually much smaller than table grapes. Wine grapes taste good when picked, but thicker skins, tannins, and bigger seeds make them less fun to munch.
• McPherson Tre Colore 2014: Interesting blend of Rhone red grapes in Texas-made wine; bright, light body, fruity, easy drinking. $14
• King Estate Oregon Pinot Gris 2013: Zingy, tasty, tart, fruit-forward; honeysuckle, lots of lime, lemon, orange, pinch of pear; food friendly from consistent Oregon maker. $15
• Michael and David The Seven Deadly Zins 2012: M&D’s Lodi operation pours out values year after year, and they’ve done it again. Opulent, smooth, deliciously juicy. $16
Last round: My open-door policy: you show up with wine, I open the door.
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