As promised last week, the Wine Dude is back to answer the first round of wine questions:
The reason Charles Shaw is two bucks is because the grapes come from growing areas of high yield and low quality (i.e. Fresno or King City valley floor areas). After the grapes are machine harvested and bulk wine is created in some warehouse in Soledad, Chuck buys it for pennies on the dollar, slaps his name on it and creates a cult following. Who would have thunk??! As for how bad it is...it depends on who you ask. Myself along with many of my colleagues would prefer not to drink it but I am sure there are those who enjoy it every night (with Al Green blaring in the background).
What’s the difference between a wine tasting “fruity” and a wine tasting “sweet”?
Wines that are fruity are usually the wines that are young and have less tannin (usually associated with body and mouthfeel) and acidity (adds a sharpness to the wine). Fruity wines sometimes lack acidity and are classified as less balanced. Sweet wines usually come in the form of late harvest or dessert wines. Some grape varietals can come across as sweet or dry (Riesling, Tocai) depending on the time at which the grapes are harvested and how the wine is manipulated during the winemaking process.
Let's pretend we're tasting wine at a winery. What's the best way to taste in order to look like we actually know what we're doing?
I would follow four simple steps after wine is poured into your glass:
1) Swirl - This will help open up the wine's "nose" (aka smell) and the "palate" (aka taste). By swirling, you are prepping the wine to be tasted, enjoyed, and, if you choose to do so, examined.
2) Smell - What is on the nose? if its a white perhaps apricot, pear, apple, minerals, cat pee, petrol, plutonium. If its a red, raspberry, cherry, chocolate, spices, dirt, grandmas old cabinet, soiled shirt??
3) Taste - When the wine is in your mouth, you will sense different attributes of the wine on your tongue. This tongue map can be a guide of what to look for, though some say it is BS.
4) Spit - Sometimes you can't help but swallow, but if you truly want to take wine tasting to a more professional level, it's wise to spit. Remember, being at a winery is most often a more formal experience than being at a regular bar. If you are with a bachelorette party, try to buy a bottle before you leave the winery and save the shots and the excessive alcohol intake for the limo bus.
What is the dumbest question we could ask a waiter or sommelier when we can't decide which wine to drink?
Do not worry about asking stupid questions as there really is no such thing as a bad question when it comes to wine. Wine is subjective, constantly changing and evolving so no waiter or sommelier will ever have the perfect answer to your question; they are there to help you find wines that will go well with the food you are ordering. Remember that wine was created for one reason - to drink while relaxing with friends (and laughing about silly tomfoolery).
Quick - you’ve got dinner guests coming over and you don’t have time to chill the white wine you plan to have with appetizers. What do you do?
Throw it in the freezer - it will be cold in ten minutes. Don't forget about it though, as finding wine in the freezer the next morning while you are hungover is disappointing.
Thanks, Gino! Readers - send your wine questions our way!
Comic via Conde Naste Store