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Wine Mixed Drinks We Secretly Love

September 21st, 2014 No comments

We wine lovers can be a bit, well, snobbish! Or perhaps a politer way of describing us is, discerning. Not for us the $4.99 jug of alcoholic grape juice stacked up at the end of the supermarket aisle. No, we have refined palettes, educated tastes and we wouldn’t dream of sullying our favorite indulgence.

Actually, that’s not true, is it? ‘Fess up, we all have a secret passion for mixed drinks made with wine. And there is absolutely nothing at all wrong with that; the fact that we enjoy a wine based cocktail is not in conflict with our appreciation of wine in its pure form.

Here are some of our favorite wine based mixed drinks. If you haven’t tried these, go ahead, indulge!

Wine Mixed Drinks

The Spritzer

A spritzer is a mixture of white wine and something sparkling – generally soda water. The trick is to find an inexpensive white wine, preferably one with plenty of fruit, and to serve the whole thing very cold. Half and half is the right proportion, and top off with a slice of lemon or lime. Spritzers are perfect for very hot weather or for parties. They are thirst quenching, have a summery feel, and yet allow the flavor of the wine to be enjoyed. Alternatives to soda water are ginger ale and lemonade, but, most wine lovers feel this is a flavor too far.


The Bellini

This classic cocktail was invented in Harry’s Bar in Venice, a favorite haunt of Ernest Hemingway. It combines champagne and peach, and is just a perfectly delicious concoction.

You take a third of a glass of peach purée or juice, preferably fresh made from perfectly ripe Italian peaches, and two thirds of a glass of champagne. Add the champagne to the peach, and stir with a swizzle stick. Garnish with a slice of peach on the edge of the glass.

They can also be made with raspberries or apricots, but be sure the fruit you choose is fresh and full of flavor.

Bellinis are rather decadent, and are an excellent choice for a wedding where some of the guests are non-drinkers. Everyone gets to drink something lovely to toast the bride and groom, the virgin version uses sparkling apple juice instead of champagne.

Mulled Wine

This time our wine is red, and served warm. One of my most cherished memories is of the annual carol services at a thousand plus year old church in rural England. Unheated and candlelit, the entire village packed into the ancient church, where they read and sung the traditional nine lessons and carols. All the while, at the back of the church, the wine was being mulled and the mince pies were being warmed. The perfume of wine and spice and pastry was indescribably tantalizing, and at the end of the service, all gathered to make merry and drink the delicious brew.

Here is an English recipe:

  • 2 bottles of robust red wine – not your finest, but something good – a meaty Cabernet Sauvignon perhaps.
  • 2 large oranges sliced
  • 2 large lemons sliced
  • 1 large orange stuck with about 20 whole cloves
  •  (Tip – wash the citrus fruit in hot water before using to get rid of the wax coating – or buy organic)
  • 6 tablespoons honey
  • tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 3 tablespoons of cherry brandy or other fruity liqueur

Put all the ingredients into a non-reactive saucepan, bring to just below boiling and simmer for at least 20 minutes. Don’t let it boil, as this will evaporate the alcohol. Serve in glass mugs or heavy wine glasses, with Christmas cake, mince pies or gingerbread. It’s Christmas in a glass!

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The Importance of the Correct Serving Temperature for Wine

September 13th, 2014 No comments

There is a tendency among those who know no better to serve every kind of drink at as close to sub-zero temperatures as possible. What do you say to your dear friend who, when you arrive at their house for dinner, takes your proffered bottle of fine claret and declares, “Don”t worry, we’ll put that straight in the fridge, it’ll be nice and cold by dinner time!”

Temperature for WineHeathens!

Yes, there are many heathens among us. We just have to remember, that when it’s red wine, you can at least allow it to stand in the glass until it has reached an acceptable temperature. And very few people don’t realize that white wine should be served cold.

So, Why All the Fuss?

When we taste, we taste four main elements – sweet, salty, sour and acid. (Eastern cultures add one more, savory.) To enjoy all the subtleties of flavor, we need our olfactory organ, in other words our nose. Wine doesn’t release its full array of flavor unless it is served at the temperature at which it releases those fragrances and aromas best; it’s that simple.

The Temperature for Reds

In general terms, we talk about reds being served at room temperature. But which room? A Scottish croft heated by a dim peat fire on a snowy February night? Or a veranda on a summer’s day in tropical South America, where at twelve noon, the natives swoon, and no further work is done?

It’s not worth being obsessive, although when you are enjoying fine wine in private, a little obsession is acceptable. When serving red wine in company, or drinking it in a restaurant or bar, the wine should be served just a few degrees lower than 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Allow it to warm very slightly in the glass, enjoy the aromas that develop, and then start to sip when it has warmed up a couple of degrees. Sweeter red can be a little warmer, sparkling reds a little cooler, roses a little cooler still.

The Temperature for Whites

Warm white wine tastes flat and dull, quite horrible. Whites are nicest served at around 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Much colder, and they will have no discernible bouquet, and you may as well drink water or fruit juice. So, keep white wines in the refrigerator for several hours before you plan to serve them, and if they have got too cold, allow the temperature to rise a little by taking them out before you intend to serve them.

Ice in Wine

If you live in a hot climate, and are enjoying some of fresco wine drinking, then it is by no means foolish to lob a few ice cubes into your wine to keep it at a drinkable temperature. We are of course talking about quaffing wines here, not fine wines. Plastic ice cubes can be used if you are concerned about diluting your wine, but, as you are likely to be drinking at a fairly steady pace when it’s warm, you might actually appreciate a little water in your wine, as is traditional in all wine producing countries on informal and family occasions.

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The History of American Wine Making

September 4th, 2014 No comments

The history of American wine making goes back to the very first settlers, who arrived to find that there were wild grapes growing which could make wine of a sort. In fact, it’s possible that indigenous people were making wine long before this, but unfortunately we don’t have any reliable records to prove that.

The wine that was made from wild grapes was not pleasant to European taste, and experiments began to grow the more familiar vitis vinifera, the first plants of which were established as early as 1629 near San Antonio, New Mexico.

American Wine Making

Until the 19th century wine production continued at a low level, but then came the discovery of a native grape, Catawba, which made a very decent hock like wine. Vineyards of Catawba were established in Ohio, and a wine was produced which was said to rival Champagne. Unfortunately, these vineyards were wiped out by a fungus, but wine making continued in other areas, particular around Lake Erie and in New York State.

One of the driving forces of wine making was the need for communion wine, but the influx of Europeans from wine drinking countries meant that there was also a ready market for good home produced wine for the table.

The Californian industry was established in the mid eighteenth century, the need for communion wine being again the driving force. The local wild grapes made poor wine, so root stock was imported from South America, the Criolla grape. This made acceptable but relatively moderate quality wine.

An immigrant from Bordeaux, France, Jean-Louis Vignes, decided to try and improve the quality of wine produced, and imported vine stock from his home country. By the mid nineteenth century his vineyards were producing a thousand barrels of decent wine a year.

Because of its more suitable climate and soil, Californian production moved to Sonoma Valley, where General Mariano Vallejo became an important producer. The real boost to quality wine production in California came when Agoston Haraszthy, considered to be the father of modern wine making in California, purchased dry sloping land and advocated a no irrigation technique which produced grapes with excellent flavor and concentrated sugars. Eventually he was tasked by the US government to bring quality vine root stock from Europe to develop the American wine product, and so began the rise in quality of American wines that we so enjoy today.

California became the center of the wine industry by the late nineteenth century, but due to natural disasters such as insect plagues, the San Francisco earthquake (which on its own destroyed thirty million gallons of wine) the Great Depression and of course, prohibition, the industry fell on seriously hard times. It survived by producing communion wine, which was not prohibited, and producing wine in small “home-made” quantities, which was also legal during Prohibition.

When the wine making industry was re-established after Prohibition, American tastes had coarsened, and the demand was for sweet “dago” wines. It wasn’t until the 1970′s that the entire industry took a turn for the better, with the establishment of American Viticultural Areas. With the encouragement of the University of California, Davis, the Californian wine industry in particular began to improve its vineyards, introduce better varieties, and work on producing the world beating wines which we enjoy today.

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The Most Expensive Bottle of Wine Ever Sold

August 25th, 2014 No comments

Interestingly, arguments rage as to what was actually the most expensive bottle of wine ever sold. You need to take account of inflation. There are private sales which are just rumored, of fabulous, near mythical wines which never reach the open market. Then of course, we need to make a distinction for size, and between red and white, and perhaps, discount those wines which have interesting associations, such as having been owned by a famous person, where the association is more important than the wine.

Here then are some of the contenders:

The Penfolds Ampoule

Penfolds AmpouleThis is a limited edition of 12 handmade bottles offered by Australian store LCBO. The wine contained within the handmade bottle, which is itself contained in a meter high wooded case made from rare Australian hardwood, is a 2004 Kalimna Block 42 Cabernet Sauvignon; a delightful wine indeed, but worth $168,000? Three bottles have so far been sold, and it seems unlikely that the wine will ever be poured from these extravagantly crafted, hermetically sealed bottles, looking for all the world like a plumb bob, made from gray glass. An ordinary bottle of this vintage sells at around $1000 – look like a bargain, doesn’t it?

Chateau Lafitte 1787

A bottle of Chateau Lafitte 1787 was sold in 1985 for $156,450, which considering that the bottle life of red wine cannot be more than fifty years at most, is a lot of money to pay for vinegar.

But wait! This bottle came from the cellar of one Thomas Jefferson, a dedicated wine lover who learned about good wines whilst doing as stint as ambassador to France. And this bottle has the magic initial Th. J etched into it, giving it provenance.

Jeroboam of Chateau Mouton-Rothschild 1945

This bottle of what is considered to be one of the world’s finest clarets sold for a massive $310,700. So why isn’t it the most expensive bottle of wine ever sold? Because it’s not a bottle, it’s the much larger jeroboam, so in fact, this is pretty cheap, working out at approximately $8,630 a glass, which according to those who have had the privilege of tasting this vintage, is worth every penny.

Inglenook Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 1941

Another bargain at a mere $24, 675, this is the most expensive American made wine ever sold. Yes, wine making was alive and kicking in 1941, and this is considered one of the finest wines ever made in the US. According to Francis Ford Coppola, who now owns Inglenook, the wine had flavors of violets and rose petals; he was lucky enough, and of course, wealthy enough, to be able to actually open a bottle and drink it.

Krug 1928

At $21,200, this is the most expensive bottle of champagne ever sold. And perhaps it’s surprising that champagne doesn’t top the list of most expensive wines. We are used to thinking of champagne as a luxury wine, but, it doesn’t seem to evoke the depths of passion that the clarets and Burgundies inspire. And I think we’ve all been to clubs that seem to sell champagne at roughly that price!

For an entertaining account of the Thomas Jefferson bottle, check out
“The Billionaire’s Vinegar” by Benjamin Wallace.

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Which Wine Goes With Chocolate?

August 19th, 2014 No comments

It’s a common dilemma. Your wife has planned a special meal, and is determined to offer her famous Chocolate Truffle Surprise for desert. Or you are dining at a great restaurant, and you just have to try their renowned chocolate mousse. You want to carry on drinking wine through the desert course and on to the cheese, but, wine and chocolate fight, right?

Well, yes and no. Wine and chocolate can be an exciting and intriguing pairing, but you need to choose the right wine. A delicate flowery white is going to be crushed, as is even the most well-muscled dry red.

The Chocolate Must Be GoodWine2

Start with the chocolate. That stuff Hershey makes is a confectionery, it isn’t chocolate. Also, white “chocolate” doesn’t contain cocoa. Good white chocolate has its place, but for the purposes of this article we are just looking at milk and plain chocolate.

In your home, and at a fine restaurant, chocolate used in cooking is likely to be real chocolate, organic, and with a high percentage of cocoa; not loaded with cocoa butter, sugar, or heaven forbid corn syrup. If it contains milk, it will be good quality whole milk.

At home, you have the benefit of forward planning, so you can taste the chocolate in advance, and gauge the sweetness of the finished dish. Then select a wine which is sweeter than the final desert will be. At a restaurant, ask the commelier for his advice.

Your search will very likely send you to fortified wines, port, sherry or Madeira, and to high octane sweet red, perhaps one with some sparkle, for example, a Moscato d’ Asti, as well as to your favorite desert wines.

Milk Chocolate

Generally an altogether milder, sweeter taste and a smoother feel in the mouth than a full on dark and bitter chocolate, milk chocolate and milk chocolate confections call for the sweetest wines, but ones with a yielding quality which matches the gentleness of the milk chocolate’s taste profile. You could experiment here with a Pinot Noir or even a Riesling.

A favorite desert in our house is fresh garden picked strawberries dipped in melted Goss milk chocolate, which we get from Belize, and which is then cooled in the fridge. The chocolate dipped strawberries are served with a glass or two of Bollinger. Sybaritic luxury.

Plain Chocolate

This is really the king of chocolate, and must contain a minimum of 35% cocoa to qualify as dark, although I prefer around 50%. The more cocoa, the less sweet and more complex, is the flavor of the chocolate. You don’t need sweet wine to drink with truly dark chocolate, but you should choose wine with a truly robust complexity of flavor and plenty of tannin if the multiple layers of flavor in the chocolate won’t simply swamp your taste buds.

Select a Californian Zinfandel with plenty of fruit, high alcohol levels and lots of spice, and just see how the wine and the chocolate sing to each other. Pinot Noir and Merlot can also come into their own here, but again, choose one with plenty of fruit and structure.

Perhaps the very best wine of all to pair with chocolate is Banyuls, from the south of France, made from the Grenache grapes. This delightful wine has hints of chocolate in its own flavor, and is possibly the ideal pairing with chocolate.

It’s fun to spend time figuring out your own favorite wine and chocolate pairings. Remember, for this exercise, you shouldn’t be eating ordinary mass produced chocolate. Instead choose brands such as Lindt, Green and Blacks, or seek out chocolate from small artisanal makers such as my favorite, Goss from Belize.

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Should You Decant Fine Wine?

July 31st, 2014 No comments

Opinions on whether you should decant fine wine run the gamut from never to always. As is typical with this kind of charged subject the answer will depend on your understanding of what decanting does for and to fine wine. Once you understand the reasoning and the process you can make intelligent decisions concerning the wines in your cellar.

Reasons For Decanting Wine

Decant Fine Wine

  • Sediment

The most common and obvious reason for decanting wine is to reduce or eliminate the sediment that develops as some vintages age. Occasionally a younger wine also exhibits sediment if the winemaker chose not to filter the wine for taste or coloration reasons.

Sediment is a problem for both flavor and mouth feel of any wine, young or more mature. The solids in the bottle will impart a bitter, astringent taste to the wine, a real distraction from what might otherwise have been a delightful or significant taste experience. It is also unpleasant to have the bits of grape or lees, which are yeast particles, in a mouthful of wine.

  • Smoothing and Mellowing the Wine

While the need to avoid or at least minimize sediment rarely encounters argument, the other reason offered for the decanting of fine wines is to add oxygen to open up the flavors of the wine. Often suggested for younger wines that are prone to tasting sour or tight in at least the first glass, some wine experts feel that allowing the wine to experience the gentle agitation of decanting results in a more nuanced, complete wine taste.

You will recognize this second rationale as the common explanation that the wine needs to breathe. Particularly with wines bottled with screw caps, including both high end and low end wines, the theory is the wine needs to mix with oxygen to remove the unpleasant smells that affect your enjoyment of the wine. The components that have these odors are called thiols, and oxygenation through decanting causes them to create different compounds humans are not usually able to detect by nose.

The Dilemma

If you are contemplating drinking a young wine, decanting will probably not have a deleterious effect, although some aficionados frown at the practice with certain wines like Beaujolais. In fact, if the decanting does allow the flavors to develop before the rim is put to the lips many would be all for the practices.

Some actually advocate decanting and holding a younger wine in the decanter for an hour or more before serving. This will obviously be a matter of taste and can be an enjoyable experiment for you as you compare the nose and taste of your younger wines as they mature in the decanter.

The situation becomes complicated when considering older, more fragile fine wines. Although these highly anticipated vintages may benefit from decanting with regard to sediment there is more than a little concern that decanting can damage the wine. A real worry is that the burst of fruit many venerable wines offers in the first sip may be completely dissipated during decanting.

Consequently if it appears that sediment will be an issue with an older vintage decanting should be done, if at all, with an immediate pour into a glass to be enjoyed. You can also use one of the suggestions below to minimize the harm decanting may do to a delicate older bottle.

Some Compromises

If you are fearful that the subtle nuances of an older bottle will be forever lost if overly agitated, take the following steps.

  1. Stand the bottle upright for a couple days before pouring. The sediment will migrate to the bottom of the bottle.
  2. Carefully uncork to minimize debris.
  3. Place a filter, specially made for wine or even a clean tea strainer, over the rim of the glass or glasses.
  4. Gently and slowly pour the wine through the filter.

Another option is to decant a small portion of a bottle, recork the remainder, and taste the decanted wine to check for nose and flavor. If the decanting was successful, the remainder can be treated in the same way. On the other hand, if the wine seems to have suffered, the rest of the bottle can be used without decanting.

Final Words

If possible check out the process ahead of the time you will be serving the wine to family or guests. Experiment and follow your own instincts. Remember you are the final judge of how your fine wines taste best to you. You are your most important wine expert.

And remember also, that however you handle your wine when it’s time to drink it, if it hasn’t been stored correctly, it will hardly be worth the bother of trying to bring out its best by decanting.  So if you want to find out about state of the art wine storage, why not check out our Wine Guardian system on
http://www.vintagecellars.com/wine-guardian?

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Six Wines With Outstanding Investment Potential

July 25th, 2014 No comments

When is a bottle of wine more than just something you open at dinner parties? When you use it as an investment vehicle. If you’re contemplating investing in wines then you probably already know the advantages, especially the not-so-small detail that there’s no Capital Gains Tax on wines. What you’re possibly not as sure of is exactly which vintages you should choose to invest in. With a staggering array of vintages to choose from, it can seem to be an impossible choice at times. No worries. Below you’ll find six suggestions, and we’ve included something in every price range.

Investment Potential

2005 Domaine de la Romanée Conti La Tâche

Let’s start at the top of the price chart and work our way down. Recently selling for $6000 USD, this wine has nowhere to go but up, price wise. Why? Not only is it often regarded as one of the finest wines ever produced, but the fact is that there just isn’t much of it left. All told, only a few cases worth, scattered about the globe. If you can get your hands on even a single bottle, do so.

2001 Château d’Yquem

Seen recently on the market for $700 per bottle, or $8400 per case, this wine received perfect scores from both Parker and Wine Spectator. It ages beautifully, which is only going to enhance its value. Some predict that a case of this vintage could sell for more than $100,000 in 20-25 years.

2005 Château Troplong Mondot

Recently priced at $450, this is considered by many to be a steal. The vintage received a staggering 99 points from Parker, making it the second highest scoring wine in what was a truly excellent year. Oddly, you can find wines that received lesser scores selling for a higher price. Simply put, this one is under priced.

2003 Château Montrose

This vintage was recently seen selling at $350 per bottle, and like others on this list, earned a perfect score. It’s currently selling for half the price of the 1990 vintage, and savvy investors are predicting that the price could double in as little as five years.

1991 Dominus

The 80′s and 90′s were good decades for California wines, and savvy investors have been snapping up this particular vintage because it is selling at a discount as compared to many of its peers. Better hurry on this one though. It was recently priced at $300 a bottle and in my view is poised to move higher.

2007 Giuseppe Mascarello Barolo Monprivato

Hailing from the Piedmont region of Italy, this wine was recently seen priced at $120 and is expected to climb higher given the shortage of Burgundy in 2010 and a few bad years for Bordeaux. The smart money says this is one to watch.

And there you have it. A broad cross section of wines with excellent investment potential. Wine is an sound investment, but it is unconventional, and it attracts unconventional investors. If that describes you, then you came to the right place. With selections to fit every tastes and budget, you’re sure to find something here that speaks to you.  And, should the worst come to the worst, remember that you can’t drink stocks and bonds!

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The World’s Top Three Most Luxurious Wine Tours

July 21st, 2014 No comments

The world’s best wines come from France. This is indisputable, although other regions of the world are growing in popularity. However, ninety percent of the world’s investment wines come from the Bordeaux region of France. So, the three tours listed here are all in France, through the areas of Bordeaux and Burgundy. The finest vintages of these wines are grown and bottled here at estates which are centuries old. You will enjoy five-star accommodations at hotels, or at the chateaux themselves, accompanied by Michelin five-star cuisine, and experience wine tastings at the vineyards, while learning about wine from the masters. All of these tours are handled by French Wine Explorers, the top-rated tour agency, and are rated at the top of Travel & Leisure magazine’s list of great tours of the world.

Bordeaux Prestige TourMost Luxurious Wine Tours

The first tour on our list is the Bordeaux Prestige Tour. The tour is six days and five nights, staying at the Château Clément in the village of Vals-les-Bains, located in the Médoc area. Tour highlights include tasting all five First Growth chateaux wines from the Médoc, a fine Sauterne from Chateau d’Yquem, and First Growth wines from St. Emilion and Pomerol.

6-day Private Estates of Burgundy and Bordeaux

This is a new tour from French Wine Explorers, and it covers both the Burgundy and Bordeaux areas. Tour highlights include a visit to the 13th century monastery of Clos de Vougeot. This monastery is now owned by the Confrérie du Tastevin, the famous wine brotherhood of Burgundy. While touring this ancient and uncannily atmospheric place, you will learn how wine was made in the Middle Ages, and see an actual wine press from the 13th century still in action.

Enjoy Grand Cru red wines while staying at a local estate in the Côte de Nuits, and stroll the renowned vineyards of the Domaine de la Romanée Conti. Travel to the Côte de Beaune and savor legendary Montrachet wines. Journey southward, to the Graves region and experience great tours and tastings at Château Smith Haut Lafitte or Château La Louviere, then move on to the sweet dessert wine area of Sauternes where the chateaux Guiraud or Suduiraut await.

Move on to the Médoc region, and the ‘Routes des Châteaux’ through the villages of Margaux, Pauillac, and Saint Julien. In Pauillac, the best known appellation of Bordeaux, taste three of the five great First Growths: Château Lafitte, Château Latour and Château Mouton-Rothschild. A special treat awaits you on this day of the tour – a private wine tasting lunch at one of the best estates in the region. Finish off this tour in St. Emilion and Pomerol. Some of Bordeaux’s oldest vineyards are found in St. Emilion, and they produce well-structured wines made by blending three of the best known grapes.  Pomerol is considered the premier area for Merlot wines in the world. Tour the medieval village, and then head homewards with many great memories to share.

Grand Cru Tour of Burgundy

This tour concentrates on the Burgundy area, and gives you the opportunity to sample every single of of the thirty-two Grand Cru wines made in this region. Offering the best of the beautiful and dream like Côte d’Or, you will stay at the renowned Hotel le Cep in Beaune, take guided tours of Hospices de Beaune and Clos de Vougeot, and enjoy wonderful meals at Michelin-rated restaurants.

These tours offer you the opportunity to visit the vineyards where the best wines in the world are produced.   It’s as if the pictures on the labels of your favorite vintage French wines come alive, and you are walking in the midst of them.    For the wine connoisseur, these are simply dream vacations come true.  And of course, wines that you especially like can usually be shipped home for you.

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Why Different Glasses Matter for Different Wines

July 15th, 2014 No comments

Wine GlassesThe vast majority of the wine-drinking public are blissfully ignorant of the fine details of wine. Most are happy to drink wine out of any glass, regardless of the size, shape, or thickness, and don’t have a clue about why a wine glass should have a stem. There are those in this majority, however, who do have a glimmer about the details of drinking wine. For these people, explaining why different glasses enhance the experience of drinking wine is a revelation.

The best wine glasses are clear.  Colored glasses interfere with judging the color of the wine accurately. Cut crystal may also interfere with the color, as light reflects off the prismatic facets in the glass.

Leaded Crystal, Non-Leaded Crystal, or Plain Glass?

There’s no gainsaying it – wine tastes best out of fine, leaded crystal. Having said this, other factors come into play, like whether or not you have fine, leaded crystal in your china cabinet, where you will be serving the wine, and whether or not your audience will appreciate the difference the leaded crystal makes in the taste.

If you’re serving the wine at a large dinner party, leaded crystal is not a good idea. Non-leaded crystal, while still not cheap, is nowhere near the cost of the leaded product. Using a non-leaded crystal will impact the experience of drinking wine, but use it anyway if your audience isn’t likely to notice the difference. Should you be serving the wine at an event, or perhaps at a picnic, plain glassware of the appropriate shape, size, and thickness is the common sense way to go, and chances are you will not be serving your finest, carefully stored vintages from your home cellar.

Stems, or Stemless?

Proper wine glasses are called stemware for a reason; they have long, thin stems ending in a round, flat base. The glass is meant to be held by the stem, to keep the temperature of your hand from affecting the wine in your glass. Stemless wine glasses are becoming more popular, however; they protect the wine from your hand by having a thick base at the bottom of the glass, thinning out as the glass rounds. Stemless glasses are cheaper than the stemmed version, and the stems do present unique challenges, as they tend to break while being washed by hand, and it may or prevent them from being loaded in the dishwasher.

Antique Or Modern?

There are some exceptionally beautiful modern glasses available on the market today, and it’s worth seeking these out to add to your drinking pleasure.  However, many people who have the luxury of an extensive home cellar also enjoy collecting antique stemware.  It makes an elegant display in a subtly  lighted cabinet alongside your cellar, and it’s enjoyable to drink a fine wine from a collectable glass.

If you are entertaining friends and colleagues who are appreciative of the details of wine, show them you both know and understand wine yourself, by serving them wine in glasses of appropriate size, shape, and thickness. Whether or not you use stemmed or non-stemmed glasses is a matter of personal preference and taste, as long as the glass is appropriate to the wine.

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Real Men Do Drink Champagne

July 8th, 2014 No comments

I’m going to spend the next few minutes convincing you of the truth of this article’s title, and I’m going to do it using two real life men and two fictional characters.

Carefree Couples Partying Hard

Before we start though, some men might not even know exactly what champagne is.  In a nutshell, it’s wine, but wine from one very particular part of the world – Champagne, France.  Only sparkling wine produced in this region can call itself Champagne.   There’s nothing else quite like it in the world, which is why it gets its own designation. Light and bubbly, usually pale gold or pink in color, and with deliciously complex flavors of fruits and notes of vanilla, spices and biscuit,  it is in many ways the perfect drink.   Slightly sweet or bone dry, it can go with almost any meal, including intimate breakfasts, and is known the world over its association with both celebration and seduction.

Champagne is for lovers

Let’s talk about seduction for a moment, because that’s something that real men do. Some of our most beloved manly characters in movies are archetypes for people in the real world. Sort of a pumped up version of what all men wish they were.  So my first fictional “real men” witnesses are James Bond, the devastatingly attractive secret agent 007,   and Nickie Ferrante, the lead character from the movie “An Affair To Remember,” which is widely referred to as the most romantic film of all time.

Yes, I know that many people have played James Bond, but let’s face it, there’s only ever been one real Bond (Sean Connery) and one fairly close second (Daniel Craig). Both of these men are regularly seen sipping vintage champagne, usually before and during the seduction of a beautiful woman. It’s not hard to connect those dots.

In the case of Nickie Ferrante (Cary Grant), has there ever been a man more perfectly suited to drinking champagne? And pink champagne no less.  Cary Grant, and Sean Connery provide an authoritative yes to the question of whether or not real men drink champagne.

But I hear you. Those are both fictional characters after all. Archetypes, yes, people we men maybe wish we could be, but fictional nonetheless. What about real men who have actually walked the earth and loved champagne? Are there any examples?

Macho champagne drinkers

There are actually countless, but I’ll give you two. It would be hard to describe the author of The Great Gatsby as anything other than a real man, not to mention a towering literary genius, and when F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife weren’t enjoying Gin Rickeys, they were lifting glasses of sparkling champagne in celebration.

Maybe you don’t regard Fitzgerald as manly enough though, and if so, I’ve got the nuclear bomb of manliness for you. Ernest Hemingway.  He’s at least as well known for his drinking as his writing. They don’t get manlier than Hemingway.  Do you know what his favorite drink was?  A Mojito.

You might be thinking that his favorite drink has nothing to do with champagne, but you’d be wrong. In order to punch it up a notch, he was in the habit of subbing out boring club soda with champagne.

You read that correctly, Hemingway was an ardent champagne drinker. Next time someone tells you that real men don’t drink champagne, show them this list. Then order a bottle of beautifully chilled vintage Dom Perignon, raise your glass at your beautiful companion, and just smile.

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