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Archive for May, 2012

How to Swirl and Sniff Wine Like a Pro

May 29th, 2012 1 comment

At tastings, many newcomers to the world of wine are unsure about the proper etiquette surrounding swirling and sniffing wine.  Is there a right way to do it?  Or is it a little like the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup slogan: there’s no wrong way to eat a Reese’s?

wines lined up and ready to taste in proper wine glasses

Wines lined up and ready to taste! (Image from Wikipedia)

Since wine’s scent and taste are both key elements of any tasting, swirling and sniffing are encouraged in order to get the best overall sense of a wine.  While most newcomers think taking a single long, drawn out sniff from their glass completes the process, that’s only a beginning part!  Before even smelling your wine, you should be swirling it.  Swirling aerates wine, opening it up so that its inherent scents and flavors are brought to the fore.  You can swirl your glass while it is on the table, or you can hold your glass by the base or stem to swirl it.  What matters most is that you actually do swirl your wine!

Once your wine is swirled a bit, put your nose into the glass as far as it will go. (Don’t submerge your nose in the wine!)  Inhale deeply for a couple of seconds.  Use your diaphragm (your “belly”) to take in a full whiff of the wine’s aroma.  Swirl your glass a little more, then inhale again, smelling the wine a second time.  Swirl, sniff, swirl, sniff, etc.  See if you can identify the scents you are smelling.  Do you smell the wine’s fruitiness?  Do you smell berries, cherries, or figs?  Do you smell lemon, grapefruit, peach, or mango?  Observe how swirling and aerating your wine helps bring out a variety of curious scents hidden, before, in your wine.

While there are several quality wine glasses to choose from, wine glasses made specifically for the types of wine you’re tasting often allow you to perceive that wine’s aromas to the fullest.  For red wine tasting, consider using Riedel “O” stemless glasses, available as a mixed set, designed to enhance the main red varietals.  For white wines, consider a glass designed for your specific varietal, like a Riedel Vinum Classic Sauvignon Blanc wine glass for tasting Blanc fumé, Fumé blanc, Rotgipfler, Sancerre, Sauvignon blanc, Sémillon, Spätrot-Rotgipfler, and Zierfandler.  Breathe in, and enjoy the experience!  Cheers!

 

New WhisperKOOL SC Series Wine Cellar Cooling Systems

May 22nd, 2012 No comments

whisperkool sc seriesVintage Cellars is proud to now offer WhisperKOOL SC Series Cooling Systems. The SC Series, which replaces WhisperKOOL’s popular XLT Series, offers wine collectors the latest in wine cooling technology, providing both quality and value in durable wine cellar cooling units.

Having incorporated feedback from WhisperKOOL customers and installers, this new line of wine cellar coolers includes an updated housing design and the latest system technologies. The new SC Series comes in five models: SC 2000i, SC 3000i, SC 4000i, SC 6000i, and SC 8000i.

Contained within the compact structure of the WhisperKOOL SC Series is highly powerful and sophisticated wine cooling technology. The SC Series offers vibration-free cooling for up 2,000 cubic feet of storage space while maintaining a 30°F temperature differential. Furthermore, the SC Series’ advanced digital controller and liquid temperature probe ensures that a stable temperature is maintained for the bottle contents rather than the air in the room.

One of the most outstanding features of this new line of wine cellar coolers is its convenient installation. The SC Series compact structure fits perfectly between standard wall studs, reducing installation time and costs.

To learn more about the WhisperKOOL SC Series wine cooling system, check out our brand new SC Series page. If you’d like assistance in selecting the best unit for your needs, please call us at 1-800-876-8789.

Introducing Viognier

May 15th, 2012 No comments

While the Viognier grape may be new to most wine drinkers, it’s been grown in France’s northern Rhône region for centuries.  Because its acreage in France is relatively small, so is the French production of Viognier.  Interestingly enough, decent Viognier vineyards have appeared in California since the late 1980s, and Australia is also producing the grape.

Viognier grapes ripening on a vine in Amador county, California.

Viognier grapes ripening on a vine in Amador county, California (Image from Wikipedia)

It’s tough to grow Viognier, since the grapes are sensitive to variable climates.  The vine often requires additional attention and massive pruning, plus it ripens at an odd time.  Though Viognier wine has a high alcohol content (usually more than 14%), it contains luscious flavors of peach, apricot, honeysuckle, hints of vanilla, oak, honey, and additional citrus fruits.  It pairs very nicely with sushi, salmon, shrimp and oysters, as well as duck, chicken, and pork.  It makes a nice accompaniment to cornbread, too, and even butternut squash.  Dishes that are lightly smoked, and recipes that include either apricots or peaches make great candidates for pairing.  Though difficult to grow, rare, and often on the pricier side, it’s definitely worth giving a bottle of Viognier a try.

Natalie MacLean’s Updated iPhone App

Wine Picks & Pairings: Natalie MacLeanInstead of giving traditional (and often non-useful) gifts to your folks this Mother’s or Father’s Day, considering celebrating with the gift of a good bottle of wine that will really make them smile!  Sure ties, socks, and ceramic hippo nicknacks are the norm when you’re not really sure what your parents want or need, but a bottle of wine–a classy touch of elegance–shows just how much you appreciate them, much more than any generic gift ever can.

Because Mother’s and Father’s Day meals contain all sorts of food items, finding the right wine to accompany your parent’s chosen dish may often pose a dilemma.  Fortunately, the app Wine Picks & Pairings: Natalie MacLean features a Mother’s Day Brunch matching option under the Pairings tab.  Simply selecting this option brings up plenty of perfect pairings.  For example, here are the top five:

  • Spanish omelette with Pinot Grigio
  • Spinach and bacon quiche with Sauvignon Blanc
  • Crepes Suzanne with Icewine
  • French toast and raspberries with Champagne
  • Smoked salmon and cream cheese on bagels with Pinot Noir

Curious about what to bring to the family’s Father’s Day cookout?  Select Father’s Day Barbecue from the list!  What are some sure-fire suggestions?

  • Seared Pepper Steak with Shiraz
  • Planked Salmon with Riesling
  • Flame-Broiled Hamburgers with Zinfandel
  • Grilled Chicken with Chardonnay
  • BBQ Pork Chops with Merlot

Mmmmm…  In addition to helping you select fantastic wines for your family’s fun holidays, the app allows you to access a host of tasting notes, scores, prices, and recipes.  You can search over 150,000 wines at retailers across the U.S.,  and create a wine journal containing your own notes and photos.  Wine Picks & Pairings: Natalie MacLean is available for iPhone, iPod Touch, Android, and BlackBerry, and allows users with other mobile phones access to a mobile site.  The latest version was updated on Feb. 04, 2012.

Meatballs in Red Wine Sauce

If you like to add wine to your pasta sauce, here’s an easy recipe that’s sure to make some happy tummies!  Here’s what you’ll need:

Red Wine and Meatball Sauce

Photo by Erik Möller

  • 1 pound (or more) ground beef or turkey
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 egg, yolk separated
  • 1 1/2 cups beef stock
  • 1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • olive oil
  • parsley flakes
  • salt
  • pepper
Napa 4-bottle wine dispenser and wine preserver

Napa 4-bottle Wine Dispenser

In a large bowl, mix the egg, onion, garlic, bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, and ground beef (or turkey) by hand.  Season liberally with salt and pepper, and continue mixing.  Shape your meat mixture into 20-30 small balls, and set them in a medium-to-large frying pan coated with olive oil.  Fry your meatballs, turning them as necessary until they are brown on all sides.  Drain excess oil from the pan, if necessary, and remove the meatballs.  (Set them aside for later.)  In a separate bowl, mix together the beef stock, wine, and tomato paste.  Add parsley flakes as desired.  Carefully pour mixture into your meatball pan, stirring gently until the sauce comes to a boil.  Add your meatballs!  Cover and simmer for 25-30 min.  Pour over pasta, and enjoy!  (And don’t forget to serve the wine you used for cooking with the meal.)  If you’ve prepared this dish in advance early in the day, consider using the Napa 4- bottle wine dispenser to keep the rest of your wine fresh and ready to serve with the meal.

Do you have a favorite wine-sauce variation? Share it in the comments!