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Jun 12

Wine Calories Killing My Diet!

By Louise | Info about Wines , Uncategorized

Why are wine calories not posted on the back of wine bottles like other foods? I recently switched to a low carb diet for health reasons (not just because I drank too much wine, although that may have contributed!). Since being on the diet, I’ve become more and more conscious of what I intake. Wine is unfortunately, one of the things that is discouraged on a low carb diet. It’s no surprise to anyone that alcohol must contains calories and carbs since people can gain weight from drinking it (just think of the beer belly), but exactly how many calories and carbs are there in your wines and spirits? What should you drink if you want to be are watching your calorie intake or your carb intake?

The US Department of Agriculture has compiled a not all that user-friendly search engine with wine calories and other nutritional data for various other alcohols. Here are the basics that I gleaned from their data.

  1. There is no noticeable wine calorie difference between red and white wine. A glass of around 5oz (see picture for how much that is) is around 125 calories and contains around 3-4g of carbs. This is probably the amount you’ll get at a restaurant (unless they’re super generous with their pour). Another way to visualize this is that you can pour 5 glasses of this portion size from a standard bottle of wine (75cl or 750ml).
  2. The lower the alcohol content of the wine, the fewer the wine calories.
  3. Champagne and other sparkling wines like brut or prosecco have around 98 calories and 1.5g of carbs for a 5oz serving, which makes this the best wines to drink if you’re watching calories or carbs!
  4. Obviously, dessert wines have way more wine calories and carbs. For example, a late harvest Riesling will have around 175 calories and 20g of carbs for a 5oz serving. Similarly, something like port will have more calories and carbs than a glass of wine.
  5. Let’s compare the wines to beer: There’s usually around 12oz for a bottle of beer. In a bottle of Bud Light, there’s 110 calories and 6.58g of carbs. For a regular Bud, there’s 146 calories and 10.6g of carbs.
  6. And compared with some hard liquor: For a shot of gin, rum, whiskey or vodka (1.5oz, 80 proof or 40% alcohol), there’s 97 calories and 0 carbs. For a shot of sake (1.5oz, around 30 proof or 15% alcohol), there is 59 calories and around 2g of carbs.
  7. And for a pina colada: just drink it, coz you don’t really want to know its nutritional values!

Conclusion? Drink champagne (or one of its cheaper cousins like brut of prosecco) if you want fewer wine calories and carbs. If you’re out for some serious drinking, just down shots of any hard liquor!

Dec 27

V. Sattui Moscato Frizzante 2009 from Napa, California

By Louise | 2009 , California , Moscato , Napa , White Wine , Wines I Like

This Napa wine is great with melon and prosciutto! That was how I first tried the wine, and that was also what I served with the wine during Christmas dinner. The first thing you notice about the wine is its delicate floral smell. You’ll also notice some small bubbles in your glass because the wine is slightly fizzy. It has a slightly sweet taste (but definitely not syrupy) with fruity flavors ranging from grapefruit to lychees. You can drink the wine by itself, but it tastes way better with the prosciutto and melon.

To taste wine with food, you put a little bit of the food (in this case, melon and prosciutto) into your mouth and then chew. While the food is still in your mouth, take a small sip of the wine. Chew some more with the wine in your mouth. Swallow the food and wine, then take another sip of the wine. This procedure allows you to taste the food by itself, taste the food with the wine, and taste the wine by itself. When I did this with the melon and prosciutto, the wine brought out the slightly salty flavor to the prosciutto and the sweet flavor of the melon. Everything was enhanced.

I’m sure you’re eager to try this pairing yourself, but sadly, I can’t find the wine anywhere. I bought it a few months ago when I visited Napa and tried the wine at the V. Sattui winery. It is sadly sold out (I called to double check!). The winery said that they will be bottling the 2010 vintage early next year. All of their wines are sold on their website so check for this wine sometime next year! If you’re lucky enough to spot this wine in a store, I suggest buying one to try since it’s a pretty cheap wine considering how delicious it is – around $25 per bottle.

Dec 24

Fonseca 2000 Vintage Port – Intro To PORT

By Louise | 2000 , Port , Portugal , Uncategorized , Wines I Like

I’ve always been a fan of dessert wines, and port is definitely one of my favorites. If you’re unfamiliar with port, it’s a sweet, red wine, usually fortified with a grape spirit (a brandy-like substance) to stop the fermentation early on. This then creates a high residual sugar content in the wine and raises the alcohol percentage. Port is generally produced in Portugal (from the Douro River Valley region), and, technically, only ports produced from Portugal may be called Port or Porto, although I don’t think this is that strictly policed. You can also find a lot of port-like wines from Australia, Argentina, and even the US. I found a lot of really amazing port-like wines in Australia, and they were dirt cheap for amazingly high quality wines. It’s a pity that they don’t import much of those to the States, but if you ever get the chance to go to Australia, I would definitely recommend trying some out there.

There are several common types of ports that you’ll see in the stores in the US:

  1. Tawny Ports are barrel-aged ports i.e., the red grapes are put into wooden barrels until they turn a golden-brown color. If there is no age labelled on the bottle, then it was probably in the barrel for around 2 years. Otherwise, they will usually label how many years they have been aged for. The characteristic taste for tawny ports is their nutty flavor (more of a hazelnut favor).
  2. Vintage Ports are made from grapes from a certain declared vintage year. In Portugal, the decision to declare a ‘vintage year’ is a decision made by each individual producer that year. Vintage years are generally declared only when the grapes produced that year are exceptional. Generally, only 3 out of 10 years are declared ‘vintage years’ by a producer. Vintage ports are often aged in the barrel for a maximum of 2.5 years and then aged in the bottle for another 10 to 30 years. They are known for their dark purple color and their fruity taste (both a result of the short barrel aging time).
  3. Late Bottled Vintage (LBV) Ports are like Vintage Ports but don’t usually require bottle aging. Most can be drunk as soon as they are released by the producer, which means you can just buy one from a store and pop it open the same day. LBVs arose from Vintage Ports that were left in the barrel for longer than planned because of low demand. This then developed into a new style of port. LBVs are generally barrel aged for 4 to 6 years as opposed to the maximum of 2.5 years that Vintage Ports undergo. Of course, some commentators don’t think they’re as good as Vintage Ports that have been properly bottle aged.
  4. Ruby Ports are bottle-aged ports and are generally the cheapest and most mass-produced type of port. To make these ports, the grapes are stored in concrete or stainless steel tanks after fermentation, which prevents it from aging too much and keeps it ruby in color.
  5. White Ports are white in color as they are made from white grapes. Be careful when buying these for dessert as they can range from very dry to very sweet.

The bottle I enjoyed last night was a Vintage Port from 2000. I probably drank it a tad early as it’s only recommended for drinking after 2011, but it’s hard for any good wines to stay unopened in my apartment. This port has a great smell – full of blackberries, cherries, and maybe a touch of licorice. The taste isn’t as sweet as I like my ports to be, but there’s a lot of fruity taste to compensate for the lack of sweetness. And you can keep tasting that delicious faint grape/raisin/raspberry taste in your mouth for ages after swallowing. I think this port is great for people who like red wines but generally don’t like dessert wines that much, because it’s not super sweet or syrupy like many dessert wines.

This bottle was rated 95+ on Wine Advocate and 94 on Wine Spectator (if you care for ratings). Good ports are unfortunately quite pricey, and this one is $94.99 for a 750ml bottle (normal wine bottle size) at Astor Wine and Spirits. If you just want to try it, you might be able to find a half bottle (375ml) in some wine stores for around $45 to $50.

Dec 22

Catherine et Claude Maréchal Savigny-Lès-Beaune Vieilles Vignes 2007 from Burgundy, France

By Louise | 2007 , Burgundy , France , Red Wine , Vieilles Vignes , Wines I'm Neutral About

I’m almost shocked at how many red wines I’ve consumed since I started this blog a month and a half ago. I had initially thought this blog would be dominated by sweet white wines, but I am happily surprised by my willingness to experience wines outside of my normal riesling/dessert wine range. I bought this wine at Astor Wine and Spirits and took it to a BYOB (Bring Your Own Bottle) French restaurant called La Sirene in the Village (NYC). I’ve recently started liking BYOB restaurants because it’s nice to have a good bottle of wine with dinner without breaking the bank! And what better bottle to take to a very traditional French restaurant than a French red.

The wine didn’t have a particularly strong smell, although I detected dark cherry and oak in it. The taste was a bit disappointing – it was quite bitter and had a higher tannin level than I would have liked. However, the wine did improve with food. I got the beets salad with pistachio, apple, and brie for my appetizer, and the wine paired decently well with that because the beets were fairly sweet. The wine also paired well with the goat cheese tart appetizer because that again was slightly sweet in flavor. I think the sweetness of the food calmed the bitter taste in the wine thereby enhancing the flavors of both the food and the wine. Unfortunately, the wine didn’t go too well with my main course, the baked seafood shepherd pie, but I could have guessed that. The conclusion: probably not a wine I’d drink again.

Where can you buy it? Although I had bought it at Astor for $29.96 only a few weeks ago, it does not appear to be on their website anymore, so I fear it may have sold out. However, it is sold at a few other places, e.g., Sussex Wines & Spirits (but for $44.99).

Dec 20

Domaine Roger Perrin Rouge 2008 from Châteauneuf-du-Pape, France

By Louise | 2008 , Chateauneuf-du-Pape , France , Red Wine , Wines I Like

I had this wine at DB Bistro Moderne (Daniel Boulud’s restaurant in Midtown New York) a couple of nights ago. It was a delicious red with a very strong fruity (and slightly oaky) smell that reminded me of berries. In the mouth, it was slightly oaky with a hint of spices and very little tannin. What I really enjoyed about this wine was how nothing jumped out at me. I think some people classify that as a bad thing in a wine, but I like my red wines to be smooth and easy to drink. I tend to dislike wines that are described as “big!” The other people at dinner with me also enjoyed the wine (and they generally drink a lot more reds than I do!). The wine didn’t pair so well with the hanger steak that I got as my main course, but it did go amazingly well with Olivier’s Alsatian Tarte Flambee that I got for my appetizer. I would highly recommend trying those together if you get a chance to eat there.

If you just want the wine by itself, I see it sold on many websites for around $30 per bottle. I think the label on most bottles look slightly different from the picture I have up, but it’s the same wine. If you’re in NYC, it looks like K&D Wines and Spirits on Madison Ave. has it for $28.99. If you want to buy online, I think Discount Wine Buys has it for $28.94. At DB Bistro Moderne, the bottle was $75.

Dec 18

Chateau les Tuileries 2009 from Bordeaux, France

By Louise | 2009 , Bordeaux , France , Red Wine , Wines I Like

This was another wine in my box of 12 from Barclay’s Wines. This bordeaux was light and fruity on the nose and slightly oaky and spicy on the tongue. I definitely felt some tingling on my tongue due to the spiciness. I’m generally not a big fan of red wines because they either have too much oak taste or too much tannin. This wine, however, was a good balance of both. The tannin wasn’t so high that my mouth was filled with grittiness, and the oak taste was very subtle and not overpowering. All in all, a very enjoyable bordeaux.

According to barclayswine.com, this 2009 vintage won a gold award at the Bordeaux Wine Awards (Concours de Bordeaux). I don’t generally place much stock in awards like this one (which is apparently an award recognized by the Ministry of Agriculture in France) because my tastes may vary from their judges, but I have to admit that this wine is good enough in my view to win something! Barclay’s Wine seems to agree as they call it a “classic Bordeaux done to perfection, certainly deserving of its gold medal.”

Unfortunately, I haven’t seen this wine sold anywhere other than on Barclay’s Wine’s own website (barclayswine.com), but it’s pretty cheap at $14.95 per bottle.

Dec 13

Inés de Monclús White 2009 from Andalusia, Spain

By Louise | 2009 , Spain , White Blend , White Wine , Wines I'm Neutral About

I got this interesting white wine in a box of 12 wines from Barclay’s Wine online. The managers at the store at selected the 12 wines, and so it was quite fun opening the box to discover what had come! This wine is made from 50% chardonnay and 50% old vines macabeo, a white grape varietal grown mostly in Rioja, Spain. Macabeo (also known as viura) is often the main grape in white Riojas and is also used in many other white blends. On to the wine itself….

I detected a slightly floral and fruity nose (maybe some pineapples and oranges). In the mouth, it felt rather acidic and slightly bitter, although you could detect a grapefruit acidity/bitterness aspect to it. After you swallow, a slight tingling is left on your tongue and throat. I believe this wine is supposed to be a table wine in Spain, so it should go well with food (especially seafood apparently).

To purchase this bottle of wine individually, you can find it at barclayswine.com for $12.95 a bottle (shipping is extra).

Dec 10

Charles Smith “Kung Fu Girl” Riesling 2009 from Columbia Valley, Washington State

By Louise | 2009 , Riesling , United States , Washington State , White Wine , Wines I'm Neutral About

I tried this wine a few nights ago at Casellula Cheese and Wine Café on 52nd and 9th Ave (in NYC). It was an interesting place with a decent selection of wines and cheeses (although very few wines by the glass). My eyes naturally wandered down the wine list to their one riesling.

What did I like about the wine? Hmm, the name was cool…and the bottle label made it look like a sake rather than a wine bottle. I had trouble smelling the wine, although I detected a slight metallic whiff. Then, the first taste was at fairly pleasant – slightly sweet and fruity. I was briefly reminded of grapefruits during that sip. Unfortunately, I can’t say much more in favor of the wine. A mildly bitter aftertaste developed in my mouth, and the wine became more bitter with every sip.

I was told that I didn’t like the wine because it lacked “complexity.” My understanding is that a complex wine will have a variety of different flavors with distinct aftertastes. Complex wines will keep being interesting to you every time you drink it as you discover more flavors and more smells. I would agree that this wasn’t a complex wine. Nothing new came to me as I drank it, except for it becoming more and more bitter, which wasn’t very interesting or good tasting! All in all, it was fine to drink once, but probably not a repeat buy.

Price? I found it online for $12.99 or $14.99 a bottle for the 2008 vintage and as cheap as $10 a bottle for the 2009 vintage. At Casellula Cheese and Wine Café, it was $10 for a glass.

Dec 02

Four Vines “Old Vine Cuvee” Zinfandel 2007 from California

By Louise | 2007 , California , Red Wine , Wines I Like , Zinfandel

Sorry, I have no pictures of this wine bottle. I got a glass of it at Del Frisco’s in midtown New York for around $11, and I never got to see the bottle. This wine had a very strong raspberry smell to it. If smells were visual, then I’d describe this as a vibrant bright clash of reds and yellows. Maybe I’m crazy to think about it in colors, but there you go. I would definitely give this wine the thumbs up, not only because of its great aroma but also because it was slightly sweet and fruity on the tongue with relatively little bitter tannin taste (although there was a slight red wine grittiness left in my mouth after I swallowed). In some ways, it almost felt like drinking an alcoholic berry juice, although don’t worry, it was nowhere as sweet as juice! The only downside to the wine was that it didn’t go too well with my steak. A bitter taste emerged when I tried it with my steak, and there was even a slight spicy tinge to it. Sadly, none of that bitterness or spiciness added to the my steak, which was nonetheless delicious.

Where else can you buy this? I think this is a pretty common wine that you can find a lot of places – I’ve found on BevMo’s website for $9.99.