Wine Varietals Tips

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How can I tell if a wine is fine?

How to Judge a Fine Wine

Fine wines are considered the highest end, rare and super-premium wines and are typically the most expensive. There are many controversial opinions and standards that apply to what is considered fine wines. By definition, a "fine wine" is a wine considered superior in kind, quality, or appearance. However, this term is debatable in the wine industry. Wine experts use terms like class, breed, authority, aristocracy and polish to better define fine wines. Rating wine is the easiest way to determine how fine it is. Below are some basic criteria you can use at home to judge the quality of your wines. These four main criteria are the defining factors used by top winemakers in the world to label their vintage bottles. Balance: A wine must be equal or greater than the sum of its parts. No one particular component should dominate the taste. For example, a wine shouldn't be too fruity or too acidic. Length: The wine experience must not be too fleeting. It should be linger in your mouth. Complexity: The wine must have a mysterious nature to it. It should not be too straightforward or simplistic. Typicity: The wine should reflect the highest achievements from within its particular region and style.

   
What is port?

About Port

Port wine is a specialty wine that is a red or white wine made with the grape varieties that grow specifically in the Douro River Valley in northern Portugal. The taste of port ranges from fruity and sweet to complex and dry. A combination of five grape varieties go into port wine: Touriga Nacional, Tinto Cao, Tinta Barroca, Tinta Roriz and Touriga Francesa. Port is usually enjoyed before or after the entree. The types of port: Ruby port: a blend from several harvests that spends a minimum of two years in very large vats before being bottled. It has a rich red color and a very fruity taste. Tawny: a blend of several harvests that spends two to seven years aging in casks. It has a deep mahogany color and a dry, nutty taste. Aged Tawny: It can have an age of 10 to more than 40 years. It has a refined subtle taste. Colheita: a Tawny port made with grapes from a single harvest. Aged at least seven years in casks. These wines are dark amber colored and exhibit a brandy–like warmth and deeply nuanced nutty flavors. White Port: made from a blend of juice from white grapes and sometimes even red. It spends two to three years in casks. White port is known for creating a refreshing drink called the port splash. A port splash is made with equal parts of white port and tonic water poured over ice, with a twist of lemon. Crusted port: a type of Ruby with a blend of wines from different years that spends three years in a cask and then is aged in a bottle. This port must be decanted because, as the name suggests, there is a sediment or "crust" in the bottle made up of grape skin, seed and stem. Vintage character: a high quality Ruby blend that ages four to six years in a cask. Vintage port is dark garnet or ruby colored and exhibits varying degrees of sweetness, that mellow and soften with age. Single quinta port: made with wine from one vineyard. After aging two years in wood they are bottled and spend from five to 50 years maturing. The label will indicate the Vintage year and bottling date. Single quinta port has a complex, and refined taste. Vintage port: comes from a single harvest of exceptional quality and is bottled after two years in wood. This is one of the most sought after wines in the world. Late-bottled vintage: made from grapes grown in a single year. Aged four to six years in wood before bottling. Like vintage ports, it needs decanting because of sediment.

   
What is brandy?

About Brandy

Brandy is a spirit made from fruit juice or fruit pulp and skin. Brandy, like rum and tequila, is an agricultural spirit. Unlike grain spirits such as whisky, vodka, and gin, which are made throughout the year from grain that can be harvested and stored, brandy is dependent on the seasons, the ripening of the base fruit, and the production of the wine from which it is made. The primary grapes used in making Cognac are Ugni Blanc, Folle Blanche, and Colombard. The wines made from these grapes are thin, tart, and low in alcohol; poor characteristics for table wines, but oddly enough, perfect for making the specialty wine brandy. Brandy is broken down into three basic groupings: Grape Brandy: brandy distilled from fermented grape juice or crushed but not pressed grape pulp and skin. Pomace brandy (Italian Grappa and French Marc are the best-known examples): brandy made from the pressed grape pulp, skins, and stems that remain after the grapes are crushed and pressed to extract most of the juice for wine. Fruit brandy: is the default term for all brandies that are made from fermenting fruit other than grapes. Cognac is the best known type of brandy in the world and is a benchmark by which most other brandies are judged.

   
How should I open a bottle of Champagne?

Deciphering Champagne Labels

Here are some tips for deciphering Champagne labels: Brut - the most popular style of Champagne. The best blends are always reserved for the brut and is the mainstay of the business. It has less than 1.5 percent residual sugar and is very dry. The brands Extra Brut, Brut Sauvage, Ultra Brut, Brut Intégral and Brut Zéro are bone dry with less than .6 percent residual sugar per liter. Extra Dry, Extra Sec — sweetened with 1.2 to 2 percent residual sugar per liter. It goes well with desserts and wedding cakes. Sec — although it means "dry" in French, it means "moderately dry" or "slightly sweet" as it pertains to Champagne. It has 1.7 to 3.5 percent residual sugar per liter. Demi-Sec — this style is distinctly sweet or medium sweet and is rarely seen in the United States. It contains between 3.3 to 5 percent residual sugar per liter. Doux — this is the sweetest style of champagne. It is very sweet and is more of a dessert-style wine. It has a minimum of 5 percent residual sugar per liter. If you encounter a Blanc de Blancs, know that the wine is made exclusively from the Chardonnay grape and is the most delicate of champagnes and pretty expensive.

   
What is sherry?

About Sherry

Sherry is a specialty wine that is fortified, which means that some extra alcohol is added to it. It is usually between 15 to 18 percent alcohol, which is higher than that of table wine but less than that of port. It is usually made of Palomino grapes. There are dry sherries that can be served chilled, and sweet sherries that are served at room temperature. Sherry can be created as a dessert wine or a cheese wine, or anything in between. The two main types of sherry are the pale, dry fino/manzanilla and the dark, full, dry oloroso sherry. Sherry should be served at 57 F in small glasses. Because it is fortified it can last quite a while. It is recommended that you drink it, however, within five to 10 years of its original date.

   
Can I make a white wine from red grapes?

White wine from red grapes?

Did you know that you can make a white wine from red grapes? It's true! Take the zinfandel grape for example. If it is fermented with the red skin, then you will get red wine. Fermenting the juice without the red skins will give you the popular white zinfandel. The same is true about champagne. Champagne is made from three differednt grapes - chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier. Only chardonnay grapes are white. Depending on whether or not the juice is fermented with the skins determines the color.

   
Are all sparkling wines Champagne?

How Champagne is Bottled and Named

We've all heard the pop of a Champagne bottle and most likely were laughing and celebrating at the time. But have you ever stopped to think about how Champagne is bottled? There are plenty of choices when choosing a size of Champagne. That's because Champagne, along with many other wines, is bottled in 10 different sizes: - Quarter bottle, which as 6.3 fluid ounces - Half bottle, which has 12.7 fluid ounces - Bottle, which has 25.4 fluid ounces - Magnum(two bottles), which has 50.8 fluid ounces - Jeroboam (four bottles), which has 101.6 fluid ounces - Rehoboam (six bottles), which has 147 fluid ounces - Methuselah (eight bottles), which has 196 fluid ounces - Salmanazar (12 bottles), which is 9 liters or 304.8 fluid ounces - Balthazar (16 bottles), which is 12 liters or 406.4 fluid ounces - Nebuchadnezzar (20 bottles), which is 15 liters or 508 fluid ounces Only the half-bottle, bottle and magnum are always released in the bottle in which they underwent the second fermentation. For this reason and because it is the largest of the three, the magnum is the preferred size. The three largest sizes are rarely made today. And remember: if a bubbly wine isn't made in Champagne, it technically should be called sparkling wine instead. Sparkling wine is an umbrella category for wine with bubbles.

   
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