Thursday, October 23, 2014

So you don’t like red wine huh?

You are one of those “I hate red wine, I only drink white” kind of people?
It’s fine.  This is America you are free to be who you want to be.  But that doesn’t mean you are right.   
I would bet that the reason you don’t like red wine is because you probably have gone about it all wrong.  
You are probably used to drinking fruit wine, sweet wines (click here to find out if it is wrong to drink sweet wine), or even chardonnay.  Someone once probably served you a two year old red Napa Cabernet Sauvignon and your face puckered up like an old guy who forgot to put in his dentures, and you probably e spit it out thinking to yourself “who the heck can drink this crap”.  Starting out with a young Cabernet Sauvignon is like learning to ski on an Olympic downhill course instead of the bunny hill.  You simply started with the wrong red wine.  You went too fast too soon.  
The reason your mouth puckered up and you did not enjoy the experience is because Cabernet Sauvignon has lots of  tannins.  If you want to know what tannins are find a black tea bag and suck on it.  That sounds like it would be terrible and it is. Tannins are introduced to wine through extended contact with stems, seeds, new oak barrels, but mostly grape skins (especially grapes with thick skins) during the fermentation process.  The reason you want tannins in the wine is because the tannins allow the wine to age longer and the fact that those tannins soften over time and if you wait long enough you will have a unique, complex, and  interesting wine.  
Most white wine is processed in such a way to minimize tannins.  Many red wines are as well.  But because when you think of red wine you immediately flash back to that traumatic Cabernet Sauvignon encounter you refuse to try any red wine.      
Another reason you don’t like red wine is because you try to drink it alone, without food.  Wine, especially red wine, transforms the taste of food, and food transforms the taste of the wine.  Some red wine is just not meant to be alone.
So, with that as background, I would view it as a personal favor it you would try the following step program that will help you lose your fear of and learn to love all red wine.  
Step 1 – Try a Dry Rose
I consider Rose to be a gateway red. Wine gets its color not from its juice but from contact with grape skins during the fermentation process. Rose wine is made from red skin grapes but only has a short period of content with the skin so its color is lighter and because wine gets much of its tannins from skin contact it is not very tannic.  
When many people when they think of Rose think of White Zinfandel which is a sweet wine. That is not what I am talking about.  Most Rose is not sweet.  I would suggest you start out with a light red or salmon color Rose from the Provence region of France.  The lighter the color the closer it is to white wine.  If you like that I would then try a rose from the Tavel (my personal favorite) or Bordeaux regions of France. The color in Rose from those regions is a little darker and the flavor is a little more intense then Rose from Provence but it is still very close to a white wine.  Rose should be enjoyed young and does not require any aging.  Another reason that white wine drinkers should try a dry rose is because they are served cold, like most white wines are.  California and other parts of the world make great Rose as well but the styles vary greatly and are not as consistent as wines from these French regions are.  I like to drink dry Rose alone but I also enjoy it with salmon and other heavier seafood.  
Step 2 – Try Gamay/Beaujolais
Now that you have started to enjoy dry Rose it is time to take the next step, a real red wine!  Fear not you do not have to drink a dreaded tannic Cabernet.  There are several wines to try before you have to make that leap.  There are many wines that are made from grapes with thinner less tannic skins and are not aged in new oak barrels and in some cases are not fermented with their skins and seeds.  In many cases these wines are made from grapes that have a fruitier flavor.   
The first real red wine I would try is Gamay which is used to make Beaujolais.  It is light, not tannic at all, and unlike other red wine can be served cold, a comfort to most white wine zealots.  Gamay would be a great wine to enjoy alone or with salad or with some lighter pork dishes.  It also should be enjoyed young as it does not improve much with age.  
Step 3 – Try a light bodied red.  
After you have tried Gamey and found that not only did you not break out into hives but actually enjoyed the experience it is time to take the next step trying some fuller bodied but still lighter red. A wine like Pinot Noir, Grenache, Barbara, or Sangiovese.  These wines should not be fully chilled but, like most red wines, should be served below room temperature at around 60 degrees. Red wines that are too warm mask a lot of their character and exaggerate the impact of any tannins in the wine .  Of these the only one I would drink alone would be the Pinot Noir as the others are better with food like pasta, pizza, and pork roasts, and heavier fowl dishes like Turkey. I would make sure that these wines have aged at least two years (from the year on the bottle) before drinking.
Step 3 – Try a medium body red.    
If this is as far as your red wine journey takes you then so be it.  Many people consider those light bodied red wines, especially the Pinot Noir, to be among the finest in the world.  But if you have enjoyed the ride so far and are ready to go a bit farther then it is time to try some medium bodied reds like Sarah, Malbec, Red Zinfandel and Merlot.  These wines are more tannic than the others we have discussed and should be at least 4 years old before drinking.  Red Zinfandel would be my favorite to drink alone and they all would taste great with roasts, beef stews, and Mexican food (I think Red Zin and Mexican food is a match made in heaven.)      
Step 4 – Try a Heavyweight red.
Admit it, my advice has opened up a whole new world for you.  Hey you made it this far and have not turned back so let’s go all the way!  It’s time to learn how to enjoy the heaviest and most tannic red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon, Barolo, and Bordeaux.  First and foremost, and this will upset many red wine zealots, I would not drink any of them without food.  They are infinitely better when paired with grilled fatty red meat like steak or ribs.  They also taste incredible when paired with chocolate. Key to your enjoyment will be choose wine that is at least a minimum of 6 years old in order to give the tannins a chance to mellow out.   If stored properly these heavyweight reds can last 20 years or more.  Trying one of these wines, properly aged, and matched  with the right foods could very well make you regret all the time you spent refusing to try red wines.  But don’t feel bad you have the rest of your life ahead of you to make up for lost time.
Agree? Disagree? Have a question? Let me know by leaving a comment.  

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Further Proof of the Heath Benefits of Red Wine

Amare Stoudemire takes baths in red wine to help him with his rehab and rejuvenate his body.  Click here to read the ESPN article and to see the video.  

I wonder if a fine Bordeaux has more healing power then two buck chuck?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

** Wine Deal Alert **

Drop what you are doing and immediately go to Costco and by as many bottles of Acrobat 2012 Oregon Pinot Noir $9.99.  It compares favorably to wines costing $30.00 or more.  Don’t know if your Costco carry’s it but if it does you should buy as much as possible before they run out.  I got some at the Costco on Hayden in Scottsdale. It is spicy, smooth, has a wonderful floral aroma, and has the right balance between earthiness and fruit.  Unless you are having major surgery or giving birth you have no excuse for not taking my advice and buying some. 

Go now, try some and let me know what you think.   

Quit reading this and go already. 

What are you still doing reading this?  Go!!!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

What is the difference between a horizontal and vertical wine tasting?

Joe Cillo of Cleveland Ohio asks “what is the difference between a horizontal and a vertical wine tasting?”. 

Well Joe I know that for someone like you a horizontal tasting is the portion of a tasting after you have had too much to taste. But for others a horizontal tasting compares wines from the same year but from multiple producers. For example at a horizontal tasting you may taste nothing but 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon from Bogle, Kunde, BV, Grgich Hills, and Joel Gott.  That way, in comparing the wines, you get a better understanding of the wine style of that particular producer, and you can then decide which producers match your taste.   
A vertical tasting involves wine from the same producer but from different years.  For example a vertical tasting may consist Ravenswood Zinfandel from 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012.  That way you get a better understanding of the each vintage in order to better understand the vintage that best fits your taste.

So Joe, hope that answers your question and helps you in better understanding wines that you will enjoy most. 

If you have a question or would like more information please post a comment or send an email to

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Wine You Should Drink But Probably Don’t – Dolcetto

Dolcetto is a wine from Piedmont region of Italy that has a confusing name.  Translated into English it means “sweet little one”, an odd name for a wine that is not sweet.  Dolcetto is a dry, fruity, slightly tannic (the characteristic of wine that makes your mouth pucker) wine with low acidity (the characteristic of wine that makes your mouth water). 

It is made to drunk young so look for a vintage that is 3 years old or less. It pairs well with simple meals like Italian sausage, pasta with meat sauce, and pizza with meat toppings.  You might also enjoy it on a summer day when you are grilling steaks and it’s just too hot for a Cabernet or other big red wine. 

Like the simple food that it pairs with it commands a simple price.  You can good a good bottle of Dolcetto for around $15 or less.   

Give it a try and let me know what you think.  

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Is It a Sin to Drink Wine?

Your wine guy has always viewed wine as a major component of a meal.  Like meat, dairy, fruit and vegetables I consider wine a major food group.  The many health benefits of wine, especially red wine, have been well documented. I may on occasion feel the effects of the wine I drink but I can’t recall (and not because of a blackout) the last time I was actually drunk.   For me and most other wine people it is about the experience not the alcohol.

I have many friends and relatives that don’t drink wine for health reasons.  I feel bad for them but obviously health comes first.  I also have friends that seem to equate drinking wine with lying, cheating and stealing and as a sure ticket on a pathway to hell.  When I am with them and I have a glass of wine they are either visibly uncomfortable or find ways to communicate their disapproval.  It may not be fair but many times I don’t bother ordering wine when I am because the stress diminishes the enjoyment I would get from the wine. 

You can probably make a case for drunkenness to be sinful.  Doing something to excess that impairs your judgment and can cause potential harm to yourself and others may not be the best way to live your life.  But you can make the same case for gluttony.   Eating too much food is also too much of a good thing.  It impacts your health and because of the burden it causes on the health system causes a financial hardship on society because everyone helps subsides the additional health costs.  But I doubt my friends that object to me having a glass of wine would think twice about me have 3 pieces of devil’s food cake a la mode at the same dinner.

My father, the most honorable and honest man I have ever met in my life made and drank wine.  I never once saw him drunk.  When he passed away I am quite confident he took the up elevator.   

What about the Wedding at Cana when Jesus turned water into wine?  Was it a test of morality or was his hope that people would enjoy the wine? There are other bible quotes that support wind drinking Ecclesiastes 9:7  states “Drink your wine with a merry heart.”Psalm 104:14-15 states that God gives wine “that makes glad the heart of men. 

Also if you look at the history of wine one of it's main purposes was to provide something to drink during meals.  The water supply was not safe to drink so people drank wine with their food instead.  Often times wines were developed to pair with the foods of the region.  Wine was considered essential to meals much like a loaf of bread.  People needed it to survive.  How can this be sinful?

So to answer the question, in my view,  it is probably sinful to try and deny others the enjoyment of wine then it is to drink wine in moderation.  Everyone has the right to decide for themselves what the right path for them is but they need to give others the same freedom.   Just because something can be abused is not a reason to punish/deny those that exercise good judgment.   

Thanks for reading I feel better now.

Agree?  Disagree?  Post a comment I’d like to hear what you think.  

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Buying wine for the Bridal Shower

Mrs. Wine Guy was throwing a bridal shower for the future daughter in law recently.  My hope was that I would get to go visit one of my buddies or head over to the sports bar and watch a game on TV, or do some other manly pursuit.  That hope was short lived when the Mrs. WG asked “would you mind being the bartender”.  Knowing that no was not an option I lied and said “I’d be happy to honey.” 

So there I was, committed to using up a perfectly good Sunday afternoon serving wine to 14 ladies.  I did not know about half of the ladies attending and I knew that at least four of them did not drink at all.  So I was selecting wine for at most 10 ladies.  Two were Mrs. Wine Guy and the bride’s mother both of which who have fairly sophisticated palates.  I have a niece that is a fan of Pinot Noir, and the bride to be that will only drink sweet wine, but the rest of them were uncharted territory. 

I had to put my wine guy skills to the test using part of what I had written about in "Choosing wine for the entire table", and "Wine toserve your cousin Guido".  I needed to serve wine that would work with the more knowledgeable attendees but at price points where I would not feel bad if the wines went unappreciated.  

I headed off to Total Wine. 

The day of the shower was going to be a hot summer day.  The meal would consist of a light lunch featuring various fruit and vegetable salads, and chicken salad. I would focus on whites but would find something light for the Red wine drinkers. I had settled on a Pinot Noir for the red and was looking for one that would not break the bank.  At the tasting bar they were pouring a Mount Warren Pinot ($7.99) from Southwest France.  It was not memorable but it was very drinkable.  I have had good luck with Pinot from France grown outside of Burgundy.  They are a good value and always drink better than their price point.  An easy way to identify them is simply finding French wines called “Pinot Noir”.  Burgundy Pinot’s have the name of the region or just be called “Burgundy”.   The wine proved very popular as nearly two bottles were consumed.

I had a selection of whites.  Making sure the bride had a sweet wine she would enjoy I selected a Mallee Point Moscato ($6.99, Australia).  The wine got 87 points from Wine Spector so how bad could it be?  Not bad at all one bottle consumed. I chose our house Chardonnay, D’Autrefois  ($11.99 Southern France) knowing that Mrs. Wine Guy would enjoy it and hoping that the mother of the bride would as well. It is light and crisp, has a hint of oak and not very buttery.  Perfect of a summer meal. One bottle consumed.  

As a special treat I bought a couple of bottles of Tesoro dell Regina Prosecco ($16.99 Italy, Veneto) but no one tried it.  Mrs. WG and I will enjoy them soon. 

Bottom line is the shower was a great success everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, the bride got lots of wonderful presents, and most importantly I received several complements on my wine selections. 

That’s it for now please post a comment if you have any thoughts or questions