Category Archives for "Uncategorized"

Apr 23

Vouvray – 2008 Philippe Foreau, Clos Naudin (Sec)

By Jeremy | Uncategorized

Quick review of this very good vouvray we just opened yesterday. 

Photo Apr 22, 10 35 10 PMIntro: Clos Naudin is one of the better-known estates in Vouvray.  Like most wines from Vouvray, this wine is made from the Chenin Blanc grape.  Wines from this region tend to be medium-bodied, medium sweetness, high acidity, and tend to display a range of fruit aromas along with a bit of minerality and "herbaceousness." 

My Tasting:  Unlike most Vouvrays, this Clos Naudin is "Sec", or dry, and has almost no residual sugar.  It’s still medium-bodied and at least medium-plus (if not high) acidity.  My mouth is still watering right now.  The surprising point for me is that I get more stone fruit (apple and pear) on the nose than I would otherwise expect.  I also get hints of minerality, a bit of citrus, and a small bit of apricot.  Palate is similar to the nose and not disappointing.  Length is medium.

Impression:  Very good wine.  There is a lot of complexity on the nose and palate, and I feel like the acidity, although fairly high, is not overpowering.  There is no sugar to balance the acidity, so I think I’d like this wine even more with a food that would balance it out, perhaps something with a fair amount of oil or butter in it, or even a creamy pasta dish (pesto maybe?).

This wine can be found many places for $25-30, so it’s not on the low end of the scale, but for the quality and typicity (of a good, dry Vouvray), I think it’s an excellent value.

Jan 28

Fourteen Hands Merlot, Washington State

By Louise | Uncategorized

14 Hands MerlotWho knew JFK airport would offer wines from so many different regions.  First, I had the white zin from California, and then I had this merlot from Washington State ($11 for a 6oz glass).

It’s probably difficult to tell from that photo, but the wine has quite a dark red color to it.  The smell reminded me of a variety of things; there were hints of dark chocolate, leather, berries, and oak.  The taste didn’t produce quite so diverse a range of flavors, but it was pretty smooth with medium tannin levels and a good fruity flavor.  And it also had a nice aftertaste of bitter sweet berries, which I enjoyed. 

If you’re interested, this wine contains 82% merlot grapes, 9% cabernet sauvignon, 4% syrah, and 5% other red varieties.  The alcohol content is 13.5%.  This wine sells for $12 from 14hands.com but is closer to $10 at various other stores.

Jan 27

Canyon Road White Zinfandel, California, NV

By Louise | Uncategorized

Canyon Road White Zinfandel NV

What can I say?  I selected a glass of a no-vintage (i.e., they use a blend of grapes from different years) while zinfandel (which are pink) at an airport restaurant for $8.  It couldn’t possibly be all that great!  Well, different people like different wines.  I definitely know some people that enjoy their white zins!  In fact, I rather enjoyed the sweetness of the wine – it was much more preferable to a bitter or sour glass of wine! 

The wine smells like strawberries – it was a bit faint, but you could smell it enough to be pleasant.  The taste…well, it was like sugar water with a splash of alcohol – it’s the sort of wine that’s more juice than alcohol.  If you’ve ever had any cheap white zinfandels, then you’ll know exactly how this one tastes!

Jan 12

Can Wines be Vegan?

By Louise | Uncategorized

wine storeI recently saw a wine labeled as vegan, which seriously confused me because I was positive that grapes did not come from animals!  Well, biology hasn’t gone crazy – it’s not the grapes that are from animals but some of the substances that wines are often filtered through (often to remove certain flavors, sediment and dead yeast cells left over from the fermentation process).  These filtering agents (often known as “fining agents”) typically consist of non-vegan items e.g., blood, bone marrow, fish oil, gelatin, egg albumen (from egg whites), casein (from milk).  Yeah, reading that list makes me want to only drink vegan wines!  If only vegan wines were more readily available and had a larger selection of great-tasting ones!

So, how are vegan wines made?  Some vegan wines are made by skipping this filtering process altogether.  Others use vegan fining agents such as carbon, limestone, silica gel, kaolin clay, and plant casein.  Vegan wines are not always clearly labeled, unlike organic wines, which are getting much more popular.  However, they can be very delicious wines.  I enjoyed a lovely Columbia Valley Riesling that was both organic and vegan.  If you want to make sure that you’re drinking a vegan wine, then check out these websites, which have very comprehensive listings of wines that are and aren’t vegan friendly:  http://www.barnivore.com/wine# and http://www.vegans.frommars.org/wine/

Let me know if you try any good vegan wines!

Dec 25

Mulled Wine and Christmas Pudding – The British Christmas

By Louise | Recipes , Red Wine , Sweet , Uncategorized , Wines I Like

ingredientsformulledwineLast year I reviewed some Gluhwein, which is a traditional spiced red wine drunk all over Europe and known by that name in Germany.  In other countries, it is called various other names.  In England, where I grew up, it’s known as mulled wine, and this Holiday season, I’m putting up a recipe for making your own delicious mulled wine (the British name for Gluhwein).  This is best enjoyed warm…imagine yourself next to a log fire with snow falling outside.  It’s the perfect winter drink!

Luckily, the recipe for this delicious alcoholic drink is simple to make and will spread the scent of Christmas spices throughout your home!

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 bottle of 750ml cheap red wine (I chose a merlot, but pretty much any cheap red will do)
  • 1/4 cup of brandy (again, any cheap brandy will do)
  • 3 star anise
  • 2 cinnamon sticks (or 1 tablespoon of powdered cinnamon)
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 1/2 tablespoon of orange peel (fresh or dried)
  • 1/4 cup of honey (can be adjusted to taste – I left the honey out of the photo)

Directions:

  1. Pour the wine into a saucepan and add the brandy, star anise, cinnamon, cloves, and orange peel.  (If you have some cheesecloth, then you can put all the spices into the cheesecloth so that it’s easy to take it out of the wine once the flavors have been cooked in.  If you don’t have cheesecloth, then don’t worry, we’ll use a sieve.)
  2. Heat on medium heat so that it starts simmering but not boiling (i.e., little bubbles on side of saucepan and not violent bubbles throughout).pot
  3. Simmer for 30 minutes.  Then add the honey (you can add as much or as little as you want).  Alternatively, you can serve the wine without honey and leave it to your guests to add it themselves.
  4. Using a sieve, remove all the bits of spices from your wine.
  5. Pour into cups and serve.

cupmulledwine

For a more authentic English Christmas feel, serve the drink with some traditional English Christmas Pudding, which is a dense fruitcake-like dessert (served with brandy on top and then lit on fire) enjoyed at Christmas dinner!

ChristmaspudChristmaspud

Dec 23

Carl Graff Riesling Kabinett 2010 from Mosel, Germany

By Louise | 2010 , Germany , Riesling , Uncategorized , White Wine , Wines I Like

Graff Reisling Kabinett 2010 from Mosel

I needed to buy a bottle of wine to meet the minimum for a credit card transaction at my local wine store, and so I fell back on some German riesling.  I felt like the chances were that it’d taste ok. 

I knew that it was going to be a sweet wine (the low alcohol percentage of 8% gave it away pretty quickly), but I didn’t realize it was going to be literally sugar water with some alcoholic buzz. 

It’s definitely not a great riesling – it’s not fruity and has no real “taste” except for sweetness, but that’s actually appealing to some drinkers (I used to be one of those drinkers!).  Personally, although I like my sweet rieslings, I’ve grown to enjoy a greater variety of flavors, especially delicate fruity flavors.  But, for $12.99 from the wine store on 9th Ave between 36th and 37th in New York, it’s not bad (I couldn’t have expected too much more to be fair!).

Note:  the price is lower in many other stores ($8.45 at Empirewine.com and $10.99 at Astor Wines), which makes this a pretty cheap German riesling.

Dec 11

Why Are There White Crystals in My Wine?

By Louise | Info about Wines , Uncategorized

winecrystalsI was happily sipping my wine one evening when I choked slightly and sputtered.  There was something in my wine!  I was horrified when I spit out a small transparent crystal – did I nearly swallow a diamond?  Did the bottle shatter?  Or was this a grain of non-dissolving sea salt?  Or was someone trying to poison me???  Needless to say, I panicked!  Luckily, in this day and age, we don’t go calling up the police with fears of being poisoned – instead, we turn to good ol’ Google. 

A quick search reassured me that what I just had was “normal” or at least wasn’t any of the many horrific possibilities that had gone through my head (somehow the safe possibilities didn’t really occur to me).  In fact, one website told me that those crystals signified that the wine was of good quality (I was slightly dubious as I was pretty sure that wine had cost less than $20).

sediment in wine

So why are there crystals?

Wine contains tartaric acid, which comes from grapes.  Unfortunately, tartaric acid doesn’t completely dissolve in wine, especially when the wine is chilled.  I had kept my wine chilled in the fridge for several weeks, and so some of the tartaric acid had precipitated out and formed crystals.  Apparently, these crystals can afflict both red and white wines but are completely harmless and do not alter the flavor of your wine in anyway.

Why aren’t there crystals in all wines?

Apparently, wineries got so tired of people asking why there were crystals in their wine that they now put wines through a process that basically involves refrigerating the wines  until the tartaric acid forms crystals  and then filtering the crystals out.  So the only wines that you’ll still find crystals in are old wines and wines from boutique wineries who don’t bother going through the filtration process.  Of course, if you’re drinking one of those “special” wines, you can easily avoid drinking the crystals yourself by pouring the wine out gently or using a tea strainer for the last glass. 

So, don’t worry – it’s not glass, stones, or poisons.  It’s safe to go back to enjoying your wine now.

wineglassesclinking

Aug 06

Domaine Raymond Usseglio et Fils 2007 Rouge from Chateauneuf-du-Pape, France

By Louise | 2007 , Chateauneuf-du-Pape , France , GSM , Red Wine , Uncategorized , Wines I Like

Apologies for the shoddy picture, but it was taken in a BYOB restaurant with poor lighting (I was sat in front of a picture that was lit with alternating blue and red lights). The BYOB restaurant was a great French place called La Sirene in Soho, New York. The food was excellent, and good French cooking always pairs well with a great bottle of French wine! The French sure did a great job of making sure their wines went with food! This bottle was fairly fruity with some bright cherry notes. Chateauneuf-du-Pape is probably one of the most famous wine producing regions in the world, and I’ve often heard people talking about a bottle of Chateauneuf-du-Paper in tv dramas and movies! The wine is produced from a blend of 3 different grapes, around 75% grenache, 5% syrah, and 10% mourvedre (often referred to as a “GSM” blend). You can buy this bottle online or at Astor Wines for around $50 (it’s $47.99 at Astor).

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 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.