N U

ne De Wi
a

fied! mysti

T! I K R O C
CONFUSED to CONNOISSEUR in JUST ONE DAY!
go from

WINE GUIDE for EVERYONE

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved. 120210-1.

So, you truly enjoyed that glass of red wine the waiter recommended for you at dinner last night. You don’t know much about wine, but you would like to know more so you can make a good choice like the waiter’s on your own. You can’t say you really care where Willamette Valley is, you just want to enjoy a great Pinot Noir at a decent price. Personally, you prefer Cabs over Merlots, but what wine should you bring to your dinner party? Maybe you’re fearful about being able to choose what wine and where, so could you use some help finding great prices on wine when shopping online? And once you buy that case at a discount, how can you keep the wine at its best? Clearly, what you really want to know are the basics - how to select, shop for, savor and store your wines. You’re looking for an expert to help you learn just what you need, rather than wanting to become an expert yourself. The staff at 100 Best Wines is pleased to provide you with our guide to knowing and enjoying wine. This collection of writings has been consolidated from the many years we have had the opportunity to help wine lovers, from novice to connoisseur, discover the wonders of wine. Please enjoy this collection. But if you want to continue exploring the world of wine, browse our always updated list of the 100 best wines available today, discover the latest and greatest wines and wine accessories, and find the best prices on the best wines at the best places, make it a habit to check out www.100BestWines.com every day.

Michael Zanatta

Table of Contents
The Wonder of Wine ........................................................................................................................... 5 The Mayonnaise Jar and the Two Glasses of Wine ................................................................................. 6 Wine and Your Health.......................................................................................................................... 7-8 Wine: The Basics ................................................................................................................................. 9 The Classic Grape Varieties ..............................................................................................................10-16 Wine Rating Systems Explained .......................................................................................................17-18 What is the Correct Temperature to Serve Wine? ...........................................................................19-20 Opening wine bottles – the “proper” technique .............................................................................21-22 Why Does Wine Need to Breathe? ..................................................................................................23-24 How to Taste Wine...........................................................................................................................25-26 How to Know When a Wine is Peaking ............................................................................................27-28 Knowing When a Wine Has Gone Bad .............................................................................................29-30 Improving Wine’s Taste in Three Easy Steps ....................................................................................31-32 The Essential Wines – Seven Bottles Cover All Occasions .................................................................... 33 Top Ten Reasons to Buy Wine Online ..............................................................................................34-35 Pairing Wine with Food ..................................................................................................................... 36 Why Pair Wine with Food? ..............................................................................................................37-38 Wine Pairing Suggestions ................................................................................................................39-41 A Lesson in Pairing French and Italian Wines ..................................................................................42-44 Entertaining with Wine ..................................................................................................................... 45 How to Host a Wine Tasting Party ...................................................................................................46-47 Kick It Up a Notch with Blind Wine Tasting......................................................................................48-49 Choosing a Wine for Your Party Host...............................................................................................50-51 Valentine’s Day Essentials ................................................................................................................52-53 Brined Maple Turkey with Cream Gravy ..........................................................................................54-56 Our Twelve Wines of Christmas.......................................................................................................57-59 Wine Glasses and Accessories ........................................................................................................... 60 How to Choose the Right Wine Glass ..............................................................................................61-62

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

3

Table of Contents
Why Select a Certain Glass for a Particular Wine? ..........................................................................63-64 Serve the Finest Wine in Finest Crystal ................................................................................................ 65 Washing Stemware and Wine Glasses .............................................................................................66-67 Choosing a Corkscrew – So Many Choices, So Many Prices, So Much Hype ...................................68-69 Why Decant Wine and How To Do It ...............................................................................................70-71 Vinturi Essential Wine Aerator Unlocks the Complexities of Your Wine.........................................72-73 Don’t Waste an Open Bottle - Use Wine Vacuum Storage ..............................................................74-75 Storing Wine ..................................................................................................................................... 76 The Proper Way to Store Wine ........................................................................................................77-78 Key Components to a Wine Cellar ...................................................................................................79-80 What Are the Different Kinds of Wine Racks? .................................................................................81-82 Tips for Buying the Perfect Wine Rack.............................................................................................83-84 How to Design and Assemble Your Wine Rack System ....................................................................85-86 Why Use a Wine Cooler? ...................................................................................................................... 87 How Big Should Your Wine Cooler Be? ............................................................................................88-89 Personalizing Wine ............................................................................................................................ 90 Personalized Wines - The Ultimate, Unique Expression of Caring and Connection.............................. 91 Personalized Wines for Our Big Day Or “How Our Guests Never Forgot Our Wedding” ...................... 92 Wine Clubs ........................................................................................................................................ 93 Wine Clubs - A Convenient Way to Know Wine ...............................................................................94-95 Gifts of Wine ..................................................................................................................................... 96 Order Wine as a Gift ........................................................................................................................97-98 Creating the Perfect Wine Gift Basket ...........................................................................................99-100 Wine Baskets Make Great Gifts for Any Occasion .......................................................................101-102 Appendices ..................................................................................................................................... 103 Our 100 Best Wines .....................................................................................................................104-105 20 Best Buys Under $20...................................................................................................................... 106 Online Wine Retailers ..................................................................................................................107-111

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

4

1
The Wonder of Wine

The Mayonnaise Jar and the Two Glasses of Wine
When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and the 2 glasses of wine... A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly, he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was. The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was. The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous yes. The professor then produced two glasses of wine from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed. Now, said the professor, as the laughter subsided, I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things; your family, your children, your health, your friends, and your favorite passions; things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house, and your car. The sand is everything else; the small stuff. If you put the sand into the jar first, he continued, there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you. Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. • Play with your children. • Take time to get medical checkups. • Take your partner out to dinner. • Play another 18. • There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal. • Take care of the golf balls first; the things that really matter. • Set your priorities. The rest is just sand. One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the wine represented. The professor smiled. I’m glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of glasses of wine with a friend.
www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

6

Wine and Your Health
We’ve all heard the claims, moderate wine consumption, for instance a glass of red wine once a day, is good for your health. Just look at the French, they do nothing but eat fatty foods and drink wine with each meal, yet they manage to suffer from lower levels of heart disease than other nationalities. So, can it really be true, are there health benefits to red wine? Of course, the first thing to keep in mind is moderation. Enjoying a bottle or two everyday will most certainly hinder your health rather than improve it. However, moderate consumption of red wine has been scientifically shown to be beneficial to your overall health. Men should drink no more than two glasses and women no more than one glass per day to receive the health benefits of wine. Consuming more than that will tip the scales towards unhealthy, so more is not necessarily better when it comes to drinking wine for better health. Red wine grapes have naturally occurring anti-oxidants in them which are thought to prevent cells from becoming damaged and may result in a healthier body and longer life. Red wine grapes also contain chemical compounds that have been shown to strengthen your immune system, prevent cancer, and protect against heart disease. It’s also been found that the alcohol in wine helps to lower your bad cholesterol (LDL) and raise your good cholesterol (HDL). Recent scientific studies are also analyzing the health benefits of red wine on our brain functions, including preventing Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. As far as the nutritional benefits are concerned, most wines have little or no nutrients that our bodies can absorb. They have few vitamins and minerals that could nutritionally benefit our bodies, so you won’t want to replace a glass of wine for your daily fruit serving. However, all wines are fat-free, cholesterol-free, low in sodium, and have few calories per individual serving. Unfortunately, white wines don’t seem to hold the same health benefits that red wines do. This is largely due to the fact that most of the health-promoting compounds exist in the skins and seeds of the grape. Since red wines are fermented with these skins and seeds intact and white wines are fermented without them, white wine just doesn’t seem to hold up health wise next to the red wine varieties. As with most things, not all people will benefit from a daily dose of red wine. People with digestive or urinary tract problems, liver or kidney disease, ulcers, epilepsy, alcoholism, or women with a history of breast cancer should not drink wine. Ask your doctor for advice before drinking wine for its healthy benefits. If wine effects to your health are important to you, continue to research and understand by further investigating and reading about wine.
continued

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

7

Wine and Your Health While drinking wine for your health may in fact help you to live a longer, healthier life, perhaps one of the most important health benefits of wine is simply the sheer joy you can experience while drinking a good, clean, flavorful glass of wine. What could be better for your health than the smile you’ll wear on your face as a fine wine passes through your lips? Here’s to your health! Check out our guide to buying wine online and join our mailing list to receive our free wine and food-pairing tips.

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

8

2
Wine: The Basics

The Classic Grape Varieties
Each type of wine, or varietal, takes the name of the grape variety from which they were produced. Wines must be made up of at least 75 percent of a particular grape variety to carry the varietals name.

CABERNET SAUVIGNON: A “noble” grape famous as one of the main varietals, along with Merlot, Cabernet Franc and others, (many of which are distantly related), used to create the magnificent french Bordeaux region blended red wines. Helps make wines of classic breed, intensity and complexity that often need to bottle-age for at least 5-10 years in order to reach peak flavor condition. The most successful plantings in North America are mainly on Long Island (N.Y.) and the cooler regions of northern California. In the warmer regions of California, grapes made into a single varietal wine will often produce higher than optimum levels of alcohol and, conversely, lower than optimum acid levels in most years and so may tend to age less successfully than the blended french versions. Aromas and flavors include: Black-currant, blackberry, mint (etc). In the last decades of the twentieth century many other countries have seen their regions develop into prime producers - (e.g: Australia, Argentina, Chile, Italy and New Zealand). CHARDONNAY: This grape is the best-known white wine grape grown in France and is more correctly known as the same Pinot Chardonnay grape widely grown in the Champagne region. The Chardonnay is also widely planted in the Burgundy and Chablis regions. There, as in the cooler regions of North America and California, the wine made from it is often aged in small oak barrels to produce strong flavors and aromas. Possessing a fruity character - (e.g: Apple, lemon, citrus), subsequent barrelinfluenced flavors include “oak”, “vanilla”, and malo-lactic fermentation imparted “creamy- buttery” components. Australia and New Zealand have succeeded in producing world-class wines from this grape in recent years by using cold fermentation methods that result in a desired “flinty” taste in the dry versions. CHENIN BLANC: A widely grown white-wine grape variety, known as Steen in South Africa, and Pineau de la Loire in the Loire region of France. Often made in a variety of styles with or without some residual sugar. It is the favored grape of the Anjou region of France and, although naturally a hard acidic
continued

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

10

The Classic Grape Varieties grape slow to mature, is made into fine sweet wines that age well for a least ten years in the bottle. In the U.S. the grape all too often ends up in the generic jug wines of bulk producers as acidity enhancer for otherwise flabby high sugar/alcohol blends. GEWURZTRAMINER (“geh-verts-tram-in-er”): A clone of the parent Traminer varietal. Widely grown, and one of the mainstay grapes for which the Alsace is famous, the popular Gewurztraminer produces white wines with a strong floral aroma and lychee nut like flavor. It is often regarded as somewhat similar in style to the Johannisberg Riesling - (below) - when vinified as slightly sweet yet tart. Occasionally it is made into a “botrytized” late harvest dessert style wine. Does well in the cooler coastal regions of Western U.S., Australia and New Zealand. JOHANNISBERG RIESLING (aka Riesling in Germany and Rheinriesling in Austria): A white-wine variety widely grown along the Rhine river and tributaries - (e.g: Rheingau, Rheinhessen, Mosel, Nahe regions etc.) - in Germany and also in other temperate regions of Europe. It is also grown in N. America, where it can produce a flowery, fruity dry wine with high acid and low alcohol not unlike the german “Kabinett” version or a semi-dry style with some residual sugar similar to the german “Spatlese” version. If infected with appropriate amounts of “botrytis”, it can make outstanding late-harvest wines - (e.g: comparable to the german “Auslese” series). The Finger Lakes region of New York state in the U.S. produces excellent versions in the Mosel style and the North-West coast of N. America seems to have the right conditions for creating the richer, earthier Rheinhessen taste, as do the cooler regions of California. Australia now produces excellent versions of the dry, crisp Alsation-style, as well as fruitier semi-sweet Mosel-type wines, as has New Zealand in recent years. MERLOT: Classic grape widely grown in the Bordeaux region of France and elsewhere. The red wine bears a resemblance to Cabernet Sauvignon wine, with which it is sometimes blended, but is usually not so intense, with softer tannins. Matures earlier than Cabernet Sauvignon. In California it is a popular varietal on its own and also as a percentage constituent of the red wine blend resembling Bordeaux claret called “Meritage”. It does extremely well in the state of Washington and shows great promise on Long Island, N.Y. Other countries such as Chile, Argentina and New Zealand also seem to have the right climate for this variety.

continued

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

11

The Classic Grape Varieties MUSCAT: Another “cepage” family of clone varieties, making both red and white wines. Most are of the muscat type, having the unique aromatic character commonly associated with muscat wines. These include the Muscat Blanc, (aka Moscato di Canelli and Muscat Frontignon). Mostly these grapes are made into medium-sweet and dessert style table or fortified wines. Producers of sparkling wines often use the Muscat grape to create wines in the style of Italian Spumante. NEBBIOLO (aka Spanna grape): Grape responsible for the long-lived, fine red wines of the Piedmont region of Italy. The role of honor includes “Barolo”, “Gattinara”, “Barbaresco” and “Ghemme”; all huge, tannic wines that at their best can take decades to mature when vinified in the traditional manner. PINOT NOIR (see Gamay): The premier grape “cepage” of the Burgundy region of France. It produces a red wine that is lighter in color than the Bordeaux reds (such as Cabernet and Merlot). In the attempt to produce the best wines from cooler regions, it has proved to be a capriciously acting and difficult grape for N. American west coast wineries. Cherished aromas and flavors often detected are cherry, mint, raspberry, truffles, and the ubiquitous gamey odor in new wines often referred to as “animale’” by the french winemaker. RIESLING: Premier white wine grape of Germany, known as Rheinriesling in Austria. (See Johannisberg Riesling above). SAUVIGNON BLANC: Classic white-wine variety commonly planted in the Bordeaux and eastern Loire regions of France. Still a widely grown varietal in the U.S., its production has declined in favor of the popular Chardonnay. It shows a tendency towards a grassy, herbaceous flavor in the wine when the grapes are grown in temperate regions. In warmer regions, the flavors and aromas tend to be more citruslike, (e.g. grapefruit or pear), plus the characteristic “earthy” taste. New Zealand has had much success with the grape in recent years. SEMILLON: Semi-classic grape widely grown in the Bordeaux region of France and also elsewhere. This grape variety has a distinct fig-like character. In France, Australia and increasingly in California it is often blended with Sauvignon Blanc to cut some of the strong “gooseberry” flavor of the latter grape and create better balance. Wineries in many countries also use the grape to create dry singlevarietal white wines. When infected by the “noble rot” fungi, (Botrytis cineria), it can be used to produce first-class sweet white wines such as those of the french Sauternes. SHIRAZ: Alternate name for the french Syrah clone grape grown in Australia and responsible for very big red wines that are not quite as intense in flavor as the french Rhone versions.
continued

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

12

The Classic Grape Varieties SYRAH: A grape variety associated with the Rhone Valley region of France, famous for creating “Hermitage” red wine. In the cooler regions of Australia a similar grape is grown successfully and called the Shiraz. The parent grape is thought to have originated in ancient Persia. In the state of California, depending on location, vintage or fermentation technique, it is used to either produce a spicy, complex wine or a simple wine. The Petite Sirah, which produces a very dark red, tannic wine judged simple in comparison to the true Rhone Syrah, has no relationship other than the name. ZINFANDEL: While the origins are not clear it has been tentatively identified as the Primitivo (di Gioia), a grape species common to southern Italy. An important grape variety grown in California that is used to produce robust red wine as well as very popular “blush wines” called “white Zinfandel”. Zinfandel is noted for its peppery, fruit-laden, berry-like aroma and taste characteristics in its red version and pleasant strawberry reminders when made into a “blush” wine.

EUROPEAN WINE GRAPE VARIETIES
ALEATICO: Minor red grape commonly grown in central and southern Italy. Related to the Muscat variety, with strong aroma of that grape, it is grown extensively in the Abbruzzo and Apulia regions. Some plantings are also found in the warmer regions of California, U.S.A. BARBERA: Semi-classic grape commonly grown in the Piedmont region and most of northern Italy. Now thought by some to be identical with the Perricone , or Pignatello, grape of Sardinia. Was probably imported into the U.S.A. late in the 19th century. Usually produces an intense red wine with deep color, low tannins and high acid and is used in California to provide “backbone” for so-called “jug” wines. Century-old vines still exist in many regional vineyards and allow production of long-aging, robust red wines with intense fruit and enhanced tannic content. Plantings in North America are mostly confined to the warm western coastal regions. CABERNET FRANC: Semi-classic grape similar in many ways to Cabernet Sauvignon. Now strongly suspected of being a mutation particularly suited to cooler, damper climatic conditions. Widely grown in the Loire region where it is known as the Breton and in large areas of southwest France where it is sometimes known as Bouchy or Bouchet. In NE. Italy it is known as the Bordo grape. Bordeaux
continued

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

13

The Classic Grape Varieties wines commonly contain a blend of both wines, a practice increasingly being followed in California. Wine from these grapes has a deep purple color, when young, with a fragrant aroma. Just like Cabernet Sauvignon, North American growth is mainly confined to the coastal regions; Long Island (N.Y.) and the Pacific Northwest showing signs of being very hospitable. New Zealand has also proved to be a potential good home. CARMENERE: Very limited plantings of this red wine grape are now found in the Medoc region of Bordeaux, France where it is used to produce deep red wines occasionally used for blending purposes in the same manner as Petit Verdot. DOLCETTO: Well-known grape widely grown in Piedmont region of Italy. Usually made into fast maturing, fruity and robust dark red wine with faintly bitter flavor. May be identical with the Douce Noir grape of the Savoie region of France and the varietal known as Charbono in California. GAMAY: At least three different vitis vinifera grape species are permitted to use the term “Gamay” as their lable-specified variety in the U.S.. The Gamay Noir, Gamay Beaujolais and Napa Gamay. At one time or another, each one were thought to be the true Pinot Noir of Burgundy, before it was discovered that many cepage clones existed. GAMAY BEAUJOLAIS: The Gamay Beaujolais grape is a widely grown, early-ripening clone of Pinot Noir that can do well in the temperate climates of the northwest U.S. and if picked promptly will produce a good red wine. GRENACHE: A grape variety found widely grown in Spain, (where it is known under the name Garnacha), the south of France and also in California. It is the main grape used in the red wine blend known as Chateauneuf-du-Pape, and, along with the Mourvedre, Cinsaut and some others, makes good wine blends under the appellation “Cotes du Rhone Villages”. In the warmer regions of California the Grenache grape tends to produce red wines that are often “hot” due to high alcohol content and with a distinctive orange colored tint. Also used to make some of the better rose’ wines of Provence in southern France. MALBEC: Semi-classic grape grown in the Bordeaux region of France and in other areas under the name Cot and in the Alsace has the local name Auxerrois. Also grown in the cooler regions of Califorcontinued

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

14

The Classic Grape Varieties nia. In Argentina the grape known as the Fer is now thought to be a clone of this varietal. Alone it creates a rather inky red, intense wine, so it is mainly used in blends, such as with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon to create the world renowned red Bordeaux “claret” blend. In California and other areas it is increasingly being used for the same blending purpose. MONTEPULCIANO: Minor grape mostly found growing in central and southern Italy. Generally made into a blend with Sangiovese in order to produce a fruity, round, yet balanced red wine with attractive aroma. MOURVEDRE: Robust mediterranean grape variety widely grown in the southern Rhone region of France and mainly used to introduce color and body to the red wine blends. Select limited plantings in California, where the grape is often called the Mataro, produce a wine that sometimes develops the “green tea-like” herbal character that Rhone region french growers refer to as “animale”. Also widely grown in Spain where it has the name Monastrell. PETITE SIRAH: Widely grown grape variety in California. Still thought by some to be the same stock as the minor french Durif grape, but recent DNA analysis has shown otherwise. Produces an dark red, tannic wine in the warm regions of California, used mainly as backbone for Central Valley “jug” wines. In the cooler northern regions can be made into a robust, balanced red wine of some popularity. PETIT VERDOT: Grape grown in limited amounts. Found mainly in the temperate Bordeaux region St-Emilion subdistrict and used to make red wine later blended with Cabernet Sauvignon and other wines. PINOT BLANC: Mutation of the Pinot Gris vine. Grape is generally used to make dry, crisp, rather intense white wines in the Alsace, parts of Burgundy and in Austria. In the latter country it is known as the Weissburgunder. In California, a similarly named grape is used to make a fruity, rather subtle wine similar to the simpler versions of Chardonnay. Used in many of the better champagne style sparkling wines of California because of its acid content and clean flavor. However, recent research speculates that some plantings of this California grown grape varietal are actually the Melon de Bourgogne, (aka Muscadet de Bourgogne), a grape grown widely in the western reaches of the Loire region of France, and famous for producing the “Muscadet” tart white wines that match so well with shellfish meals. PINOT GRIS: Clone of Pinot Noir grown in western coastal regions of the U.S.. Also called the Malvoisie or Pinot Beurot in the Loire, and the former name in the Languedoc, regions of France. In Germany and Austria it is known as the Rulander or Grauer Burgunder where it is used to make pleasant,
continued

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

15

The Classic Grape Varieties young, white wines in the southern regions. Versions named Auxerrois Gris and Tokay d’Alsace are also grown in the Alsace where the latter variety is used to make a golden-yellow wine with aromatic, fruity flavors that improves with a couple of years in the bottle - (but not to be confused with the Hungarian Furmint grape used to make the famous “Tokaji” sweet wines). PROSECCO: Minor grape grown in Veneto region of northern Italy and generally used to make both crisp, dry whites and also sparkling sweet wines often having a uniquely perfumed aroma. SANGIOVESE: Semi-classic grape grown in the Tuscany region of Italy. Used to produce the Chianti and other Tuscan red wines. Has many clonal versions, two of which seem to predominate. The Sangiovese Grosso clone Brunello variety is used for the dark red, traditionally powerful and slow-maturing “Brunello di Montalcino” wine. The other is the Sangiovese Piccolo, used for lesser Tuscan wines. Recent efforts in California with clones of this variety are very promising, producing mediumbodied reds with rich cherry or plumlike flavors and aromas. SANGIOVESE GROSSO: (see Sangiovese above). Also known as the Prugnolo Gentile grape. Blended with Canaiolo (Nero) grape wine, it is the basic format used for all contemporary Chianti wines. TREBBIANO: Alternate name for Ugni Blanc grape - see below. UGNI BLANC: (aka Trebbiano). Widely grown in Italy and Southern France. There it produces a fruity, acidic white wine, best drunk when young and chilled. In the Cognac region of France it is known as the Saint-Emilion grape. VIOGNIER: Semi-classic grape varietal grown in the northern Rhone region of France. Has full, spicy flavors somewhat reminiscent of the Muscat grape and violets. New plantings in California have created much anticipation among that States wine community. Viognier can vary from almost Rieslinglike character to almost Chardonnay character, depending on production method.

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

16

Wine Rating Systems Explained
Like most rating systems, whether it’s used to determine the best hotel, Olympic ice-skater, or next pop singer, they’re highly subjective and dependent upon a variety of factors. When it comes to rating wine, things like the taster’s personal preferences, the type of wine glass used, or the wine’s serving temperature, one system’s winner may not be another’s. So, keeping that in mind, don’t simply rely on a certain wine rating system’s choice for the best tasting wine without knowing what your own likes or dislikes are. It’s like reading a glowing movie review only to find that when you actually see the movie you’re not as much of a fan of French subtitled epic dramas about turn-of-the-century mimes as the reviewer might have been.

There are a variety of published wine ratings systems that are considered respectable in the wine tasting community. You can view these ratings in many wine publications, such as Wine Spectator, The Wine Enthusiast, or Wine & Spirits Magazine. You can also pay to subscribe to the many online wine rating guides. Some of these wine guides are quite expensive, so only do so if you know your tastes are similar to the reviewer’s tastes. Most wine rating systems use either a 50-to-100 or a 1-to-20 ratings scale. The 50-to-100 wine rating scale is probably the most widely accepted and used. Many wine connoisseurs feel that this scale is more descriptive and all-encompassing than the 1-to-20 scale, but again you should decide on your own which wine rating system matches up with your own personal wine tastes when buying wine. You should never depend solely on a numeric rating for any particular wine. With each wine review and rating there will usually be a written description of the wine and how it received
continued

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

17

Wine Rating Systems Explained a particular rating number. Just because a wine got a 98 on a particular wine rating scale, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll enjoy it. Of course, many times the highest rated wines are the most expensive wines, but this doesn’t mean that everyone will enjoy those particular wines. Sometimes an affordable, respectable 79 wine rating is one that you might prefer over the higher rated ones. Don’t let the ratings system dictate what wines you should or should not like. One of the most popular, respected wine rating systems is by Robert Parker of The Wine Advocate. According to his 50-to-100 scale, wine generally falls into six scoring categories: extraordinary (96-100), outstanding (90-95), very good (80-89), average (70-79), below average (6069), and unacceptable (50-59). Parker awards each wine points based on its color, aroma, flavor, and overall quality. While this wine rating system is a good one to use to narrow down your choices of wines to taste, you should again depend on your own likes and dislikes in determining which wines rate highest on your own palate. Other professional wine raters, such as Stephen Tanzer of Food & Wine Magazine, use a similar wine rating system, but you don’t always need to rely on the experts to determine which wines to choose from. You can develop your own wine rating system as you travel down the road to understanding wine and what you like and dislike about different varieties and flavors. Things to consider when rating your own wines can be divided into four categories: sight, smell, taste, and finish. Assign your own numeric rating system based on the different aspects of wine that you would consider poor, good, or great. Don’t worry how the experts do it. As long as it’s meaningful to you, that’s all that matters.

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

18

What is the Correct Temperature to Serve Wine?
Everyone knows the general rule of thumb when it comes to wine serving temperatures; serve white wines cold and red wines warm…right? Well, the truth is that most people, including waiters, serve their white wines too cold and their red wines too warm. In fact, there are even a few red wines that taste better when chilled. Who knew? The reason most red wines aren’t chilled is due to the fact that lower temperatures can cause the tannins (the bitter tasting substance that exists in grape skins, seeds, and stems) to become sharper and harsher tasting than when it’s served warmer. White wines, however, are not usually tannic in nature and have less complex flavors. Therefore, white wines generally have a cool, crisp, refreshing taste while red wines will seem dull and bitter on the tongue when served chilled. There seems to be a general misconception of what is actually meant by warm and cold. Most red wines should be served at room temperature, but that actually refers to wine cellar room temperature, which is about 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Since most people and restaurants keep their room temperatures at around 70 degrees, that would be considered too warm to serve your red wine at. On the other hand, white wines should be chilled, not frozen. Most white wines are considered perfectly chilled at around 45-50 degrees. Anything lower will cause the wine to seem stunted and flavorless. In order to balance out these temperature variations, you can greatly improve your wine drinking experience by chilling your red wines and warming your white wines for short periods of time just before serving. Of course, keeping your wines in a wine cooler or wine refrigerator makes everything simple. But for the budding connoisseur, placing your red wines in the refrigerator for 15 minutes or in an ice bucket for 5 minutes should chill most reds to a more acceptable temperature level. This includes Cabernet Sauvignon, Bordeaux, Merlot, Shiraz, and Zinfandel. Some red wines actually taste better at even lower temperatures. Light red wines with lower tannin levels, such as Beaujolais, Barbera, Pinot Noir, Chianti, and Chinon, can be placed in the refrigerator for an hour or an ice bucket for 15 minutes to reach their temperature potentials. As for white wines, it really comes down to the quality of wine when determining serving temperatures. Simple, everyday white wines should be chilled for at least two hours in the refrigerator or 20 minutes in an ice bucket. This includes Pinot Grigio, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, and inexpensive Chardonnay. However, fine dry white wine, such as an expensive California Chardonnay, Sauterne, or Burgundy, should be served a bit warmer in order to fully enjoy the flavors and aromas. You can remove these white wines from the refrigerator or ice bucket
continued

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

19

What is the Correct Temperature to Serve Wine? for a good 15 minutes before serving to allow them to warm up a bit. As for Champagnes, sparkling wines, and most dessert wines (with the exception of port), colder is usually better. Colder temperatures tend to keep the bubbles livelier and seem to make these wines taste sharper. A chilled wine also makes the alcohol content seem less obvious. Of course, there are many wine temperature charts that you can refer to in order to determine the best overall temperature for each type of wine. While they may vary a few degrees between charts, you can follow this general guide and then decide what your own personal serving temperature tastes are. You should serve most red wines at 55-60ºF, fine white and light red wines at 50-55ºF, everyday white wines at 45-50ºF, and sparkling wines at 40-45ºF. So, no matter how you like your wine served, warm or cold, just remember to enjoy the wine and all its wonderful flavors and aromas. Cheers! Check out our guide to buying wine online and join our mailing list to receive our free wine and food-pairing tips.

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

20

Opening wine bottles – the “proper” technique
The table is set, the lights are dim, and the guests have arrived. You confidently hold the perfectly chosen wine and begin screwing down the corkscrew. As you fumble with the opener, trying to get it to screw down evenly, you start to notice those little flecks of cork as they start to drop inside the bottle. You struggle to save the cork as you gently pull, but it’s too late. The cork has broken in two and you’re standing there wondering if anyone will notice if you just push it into the bottle. Don’t let this happen to you! This seemingly simple task can sometimes challenge even the most adept wine connoisseur. There are many different types of corkscrews available on the market today. The most common, yet infamous one, is the Wing Corkscrew. This corkscrew has a spiral shaped “worm” in the center that you twist into the cork and two wings that are used to lift the cork out. The main problem with this corkscrew is that the worm is too short and thick and usually tears the cork apart rather than pulling it out smoothly. So, rather than struggling with this type of corkscrew, you might want to try one of these other kinds and save yourself some aggravation. The Waiter’s Corkscrew is what you’ll most commonly see being used in restaurants. This corkscrew looks like a pocketknife with a worm, cutter knife, and lever arm. While holding the neck of the wine bottle firmly, press the corkscrew’s worm into the center of the cork and start twisting it down, keeping the worm as vertical as possible. Twist the corkscrew until it meets the last curve of the worm. Place the corkscrew’s lever on the top lip of the bottle, holding the lever and the bottle’s neck with one hand, and pull with the other hand. The cork should slide out perfectly intact. If the cork sticks, the worm is probably not in the cork far enough. If this happens, gently twist the corkscrew farther down and try lifting it out again. The Screwpull Corkscrew has a simple design that works surprisingly well. It has a long worm, two sides that look like a clothespin, and a lever on top. Place the base of the corkscrew on the top of the wine bottle and hold both the corkscrew and the bottle with one hand. Start turning the lever in a clockwise manner and the cork will simply lift out of the wine bottle with ease. What could be simpler than that? Another complicated-looking, but fairly simple to use corkscrew is the Ah-So or Butler’s Friend. This corkscrew has two thin, uneven prongs with a handle. Rather than screwing a hole in the middle of the cork, the Ah-So corkscrew slides down in the space between the cork and the wine bottle. Insert the longer prong into the side of the cork and press down. Once the shorter prong is inserted, move the handle back and forth until the corkscrew is as far down as it can go.

continued

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

21

Opening wine bottles – the “proper” technique Then twist the cork out while pulling the corkscrew up, removing the cork in one piece with no holes or flakes. This corkscrew is most useful with tight-fitting or older corks that are falling apart, but you should never use it with loose corks because it will probably just push the cork inside the wine bottle. No matter which corkscrew you choose, make sure the first thing you do is remove the foil cap. Using the pointed tip of the corkscrew worm or cutter blade, cut the foil around the neck just below the bottom lip of the wine bottle and remove the foil. Next, place the bottle on a flat, sturdy surface at chest level. After you’ve removed the cork, make sure to wipe off any remaining pieces of foil or cork from the rim of the bottle with a clean towel and enjoy your wine!

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

22

Why Does Wine Need to Breathe?
Wine needs to breathe, or aerate, because many wines are best served after they’ve been exposed to the air for a short period of time. Some of the flavors and aromas need to move around a bit after being trapped inside the bottle. This is especially true for younger, tannic wines. Allowing the wine to breathe and move around a bit after opening the bottle will allow the wine’s flavors to mellow and the aromas to open up. Letting the wine just sit there with the cork off is not an effective way to let a wine breathe. This is because the small opening at the bottle of the neck is not wide enough to let enough air in to interact with the wine inside. A wine will aerate more effectively when the most surface area of the wine is exposed to the air. Therefore, it’s best to pour the wine out into large wine glasses or into a decanter of some sort and let it sit a short time before drinking. Exposing more of the wine to the surrounding air will let the wine breath and come to life in many ways. As a general rule of thumb, most wines will significantly improve by allowing them to breathe for just 15 minutes. Red wines, more than white wines, will benefit from a little aeration before serving. In particular, young, red, tannic wines like Cabernet Sauvignon or Bordeaux will absolutely require additional aeration. These wines will improve if you let them aerate properly for about an hour. This is due to the fact that they have higher levels of tannins in them than other red wines. Tannins are the bitter tasting particles that exist in grape skins, seeds, and stems. Red wines generally have higher tannin levels in them over white wines because they are allowed to ferment with these parts of the grapes inside. Tannins give you that somewhat bitter, sharp taste in your mouth when you drink red wine. Some white wines have higher tannin levels in them than other whites because of the oak barrels they ferment in. Oak barrels have tannins in them as well, so white Burgundy and white Bordeaux wines will benefit from some breathing time, usually about 30 minutes. Younger wines will generally require more time to aerate than older wines. Young tannic wines haven’t had time enough to mellow naturally inside the bottle, so they need the opportunity to breathe to soften that tannic bitterness. However, older wines will not require as long to breathe and can in fact begin to deteriorate in flavor if left to aerate too long. Older, more mature wines, 8-10 years, should only be aerated for a few minutes. This is because older wines have naturally mellowed their tannins and the sudden shock of the air surrounding them will tend to
continued

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

23

Why Does Wine Need to Breathe? damage the delicate wine inside. These older wines will probably require decanting, rather than just pouring them into wine glasses, in order to remove any sediment that may have accumulated inside the bottle over the years. Some exceptions to these aerating rules include very young, highly tannic Barolo and Barbaresco wines. These wines are packed full of tannins and require 3-4 hours of breathing time before serving. Some older Ports and younger Vintage Ports require lots of breathing time as well. Older Ports should aerate for 4-5 hours and younger Vintage Ports should aerate for 8 hours or more. In addition, man Ports will need to be decanted in order to remove the heavy sediment that will exist inside these bottles. Overall, most wines do not require any breathing time at all and can just be enjoyed straight out of the bottle. These include red Burgundies, Beaujolais, Pinot Noirs, inexpensive red wines, and most other white wines. So, remember these few rules when it comes to letting wine breathe and you’re sure to enjoy every breathable sip.

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

24

How to Taste Wine
When you first start getting into wine as a hobby, it can be pretty intimidating trying to figure out how to do everything the right way. It seems like everyone else knows exactly what they’re doing when it comes to choosing wine, tasting wine, and everything else that comes along with those tasty little grapes. But don’t worry, everyone has to start somewhere, and truth be told, everyone else is probably faking it to! So, when it comes to tasting wine properly, where do you begin? Wine is meant to engage the senses. How each wine looks, smells, and tastes is all a part of the wine experience. The deep colors, rich aromas, and complex tastes of each bottle of wine should be fully enjoyed by the senses. You’ll first want to make sure that you have the proper glassware for the job. Choose a thin, clear, large-bowled glass with a footed stem and no lip on the mouth. Fill the glass about one-third to one-half full and observe everything that makes the wine unique. You should first take note of the wine’s color and depth. Hold the glass up and tip it to a 45-degree angle. You might want to hold it up against a white background, like a napkin, so you can see the wine’s colors more accurately. The wine should appear clean and not cloudy. Consider the wine’s color. Is it light or dark, transparent or opaque, red or brown, yellow or golden? These observations can tell you a lot about the wine. If a red wine is more transparent, it is considered light-bodied. A red wine that is darker or more opaque is considered full-bodied. Younger red wines can look more purplish and tend to turn brown as they age. Young white wines can start out with pale yellow tones and then deepen to a darker gold color as they age. You can truly see the beauty in each wine if you understand what it is showing you in the glass. Next, swirl the wine inside the glass, being careful not to spill it on the table! Swirling the wine awakens it and causes the molecules to break apart and releases the many aromas inside. Smelling the wine is important because it enhances your ability to taste things completely. If you can’t smell the aromas of the wine, you won’t be able to fully taste the flavors. Raise the glass and stick your nose right into it and breathe deeply. Don’t be shy, everyone else will think you know what you’re doing! There are so many different aromas that you might encounter in a single glass of wine that it would be impossible to list them all here. However, you might find a mixture of fruits, woods, herbs, flowers, butters, tobaccos, spices, nuts, pencil shavings (no kidding), toffees, peppers, chocolates, or any number of other aromas. There are some things you don’t want to smell because they indicate that a wine has gone bad, such as mushrooms, dirty socks, rotten eggs, or vinegar.
continued

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

25

How to Taste Wine Now, you can finally taste the wine. Take a small sip of wine and move it around your entire mouth. You want to coat your mouth with the flavors of the wine so you can really taste them. Open your mouth slightly and breathe in to release the aromas into the back of your nasal passages. The main things you’re looking for in the wine are sweetness, acidity, fruitiness, tannin, and alcohol. Different wines will show different levels of these taste aspects and can determine if a wine is sweet, bitter, sour, tannic, light-bodied, or full-bodied. The more you understand about these flavors, the more you’ll understand about wine. Finally, you can swallow or spit out the wine. You want to pay attention to how long the flavors of the wine last in your mouth. This is called the finish or the aftertaste. Did the taste stay in your mouth for a long time or did it fade away quickly? A wine that remains in your mouth longer is usually thought to be a better wine. The final thing to consider is whether or not you liked the wine. This is probably the most important factor because you can look at, smell, and taste wines all day, but if you don’t like them in the end, why bother? While this may seem like a complicated way to get through a glass of wine, it really does teach you a lot about what wine is all about. Wine is an experience and a journey and should be studied and appreciated if you really want to learn about what makes wine so interesting. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with just enjoying a fine wine without all the scientific analysis, but at least now you know how to do so with the best of them.

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

26

How to Know When a Wine is Peaking
Today, most wines are produced for immediate consumption. Storing them for long periods of time will do nothing to improve the taste or complexity of these wines. In fact, many wines will actually deteriorate in quality and flavor over time. The old adage, nothing ages like a fine wine, is not necessarily the case for all wines. However, there are several wines that are worthy of aging, ones that evolve into new and exciting flavors with each year that passes. Many of these wines are very affordable and will well be worth the money spent once you pop open the cork. While buying wine and letting it sit for years or even decades can be an exciting experiment in taste and patience, appreciating aged wine can be a bit of a gamble and somewhat of an acquired taste. Aged wine is not for everyone, but it can be fun to see what has happened inside the bottle as time marches on. The best wines for aging are usually highly tannic or highly acidic. These qualities may be too bitter or harsh in younger wines, but with a little aging they can mellow and transform themselves into deeper, more complex flavors. It’s not that the flavors change so much as they develop into more mature versions of their original flavors. A wine that tastes like green apples in its youth will taste more like a hot apple pie in its golden years. As wines age, they may lose some of their color and opacity, aromas may become less fruity and more earthy, and their sharp, tongue-splitting harshness may mellow into a deeper, silkier smoothness. While there is no magic formula for knowing how every wine will taste after years of aging, there is a general guideline you can follow for certain varieties. When it comes to red wines, the ones that will benefit most from aging include Bordeaux, Burgundy, California Cabernet Sauvignon, Barolo, Barbaresco, Merlot, and Rhone wines, such as Hermitage and Cote-Rotie. A fine Bordeaux or Burgundy can easily sit for 10 to 20 years. Cabernet Sauvignon, Barolo, Barbaresco, and Merlot can benefit from 5 to 10 years of aging in your wine cellar. High-quality red wines from the French region of Rhone will develop into a finely aged wine after about 10 years. When it comes to these red wines, aging depends on its overall quality and tannic levels. The higher the quality of the wine and the higher the tannins that exist in the wine, the longer it needs to age. Less expensive, lesser quality wines of these types will generally only benefit from sitting for 3 to 5 years, so you’ll definitely want to do some research before you wait too long or not long enough in order to catch a wine at its prime. Most white wines are better in their youth, but there are a few that will improve with age, such as German and Austrian Rieslings, Sauternes, and fine white Burgundies, Chardonnays, and Chenin Blancs. The better Rieslings can benefit the most from additional aging, perhaps 3 to 5
continued

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

27

How to Know When a Wine is Peaking years. Sauternes probably have the longest allowable aging requirement for white wines, able to withstand 10 to 20 years of proper aging. Most other age-worthy white wines should only sit for around 3 years. Of course, there are some exceptions, but in general, white wines don’t really hold their own when challenging the tests of time in comparison to their red wine counterparts. Your best bet when it comes to filling up your wine cellar space with age-improving wines is to go with fine Champagne and Vintage Port. High quality Champagnes, both red and white can definitely improve in flavor from 10 to 20 years on the rack. Vintage Port, the poster child for older-is-better, can sit for 20 to 25 years. You don’t want to hurry a Vintage Port along, so just let it sit there knowing it will be well worth the wait in the end. No matter what you choose to buy and let age, just understand that the practice of aging wine can be like playing the lottery. Any number of things can happen over the years, from oxidation to chemical imbalance to just plain nastiness on your palate when you finally uncork to bottle, so don’t go into it expecting one hundred percent success. Life is full of both surprises and disappointments so just enjoy the experience and learn from it. Hopefully, in the end, you’ll be enjoying a fine wine that has aged to perfection and the journey will have well been worth the wait.

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

28

Knowing When a Wine Has Gone Bad
We live in a great time. With modern technology as it is today, many things that were very difficult in the past are now simple and far superior to the methods of yesteryear. This applies to winemaking as well. Because of quality ingredients, processing, manufacturing, bottling, and storing techniques, it’s very rare to actually produce what might be considered a “bad” wine. However, it’s not a perfect system and things can go wrong along the way that cause an otherwise good wine to go bad. Wines can go bad due to improper shipping or handling, poor storage or temperature conditions, or a cork simply falling apart. No matter what may have caused a wine to go bad, there are fortunately some telltale signs of what to look for that will indicate when a wine has gone bad. When you open a bottle of wine, give it a good sniff. While there are certainly a plethora of aromas to look for and savor in a wine, there are some smells that will only tell you that the wine has gone bad. Wines that smell like nail polish remover or paint thinner have a chemical imbalance problem. While there’s nothing dangerous about drinking a wine that smells this way, it probably won’t be the most enjoyable taste. These wines have definitely gone bad and should be poured down the drain. Wine that smells and tastes like vinegar are also no good. All wines, given enough time and the right conditions, can eventually turn into vinegar. Grape juices turn into wine and wine will eventually turn into vinegar. Of course, proper fermentation, bottling, and storage should keep your wine in top shape for many, many years, but sometimes things happen that can cause a wine to enter the vinegar stage much earlier than you would want it to. So, unless you really like the taste of vinegar, go ahead and toss that bottle out or pour it onto a salad. Wine that smells and tastes dull or weak is probably the victim of oxidation. Wine becomes oxidized when air has seeped into the bottle, usually through a cracked or faulty cork. Corks that are exposed to temperature fluctuations or very dry conditions can shrink or disintegrate, allowing air into a bottle of wine. Unfortunately, there’s nothing that can save this wine from itself, so it needs to be tossed. A wine that smells like a damp cardboard box or musty old sock with a flat taste is considcontinued

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

29

Knowing When a Wine Has Gone Bad ered corked. This is caused by poor corking processes and is one of the most common reasons why a wine goes bad. The problem of poor corking is one of the main reasons that many wineries are choosing to use screw off caps rather than corks. While corks have traditionally been the distinguishing factor in determining whether a wine is expensive or not, this is changing due to the fact that modern technology has come up with a better, more reliable way to seal wine inside a bottle. A wine that has suffered heat damage due to improper shipping or storage conditions will have a cooked or baked aroma because this is exactly what has happened to the grapes inside. They literally cooked inside the bottle. You might even notice that the cork is lifting out of the bottle or that wine has actually leaked out of it. Finally, the wine may have just been bad from the start. If the wine has a moldy, rotten, dusty smell and taste to it, the grapes were probably not as fresh as they could have been when they were harvested and bottled. Now, don’t confuse this with a wine that you just don’t plain like the flavor of. There’s a big difference between a wine that has gone bad and one you just find tastes bad on your palate. Hopefully, you’ll never have to encounter one of these bad wines, but if you do you’ll know how to spot it right away. Remember, life is too short to drink bad wine, so don’t!

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

30

Improving Wine’s Taste in Three Easy Steps
Wine can be a fickle friend. Sometimes it’s harsh and bitter, other times it’s light, smooth, and flavorful. Bringing out the best in a wine is often up to you to provide the right conditions in order for the wine to thrive. To do this, there are three easy steps you can follow to make your wine really sing. Start with choosing the right glass for the right wine. Many people have one set of wine glasses that they use with whatever wine they happen to open up that night. Unfortunately, this is not the ideal situation for bringing out the best in an individual wine type. There are actually very specific shapes and sizes of wine glasses that help a wine to express itself fully. Many glass producers, such as Riedel, have perfected the shape and size of a wine glass to the point that you can find a wine glass to match just about every type of wine out there. A good wine glass is one that directs the wine’s flavors to the correct spots onto the tongue as well as the wine’s aromas into the nose and the back of the throat. You could go crazy and buy a different kind of wine glass for every type of wine you like, but you can also get by with a good set of multi-purpose wine glasses that serve varietals well. As a general rule of thumb, use wine glasses with larger bowls for red wines that have strong aromas and complex flavors. Choose a smaller wine glass with a smaller rim for white wines that are more delicate in nature. Next, make sure you are serving your wines at the correct temperature. Most people remember to serve red wines warm and white wines chilled, but this isn’t necessarily the correct way to serve every wine. Each wine has a specific temperature that it can thrive by allowing it to open up and release its own unique flavors and aromas. This temperature is determined by the wine’s grape variety and the region it originates from. For instance, a strong and rich red wine like a Bordeaux is best served a couple of degrees below room temperature, whereas a light and fruity red wine like a Beaujolais will express itself better ten degrees or so below room temperature. On the other hand, white wines really shouldn’t be served ice cold. A good rule of thumb to follow is the 15 minute rule. Strong red wines should be placed in the refrigerator for 15 minutes and fine white wines should be removed from the refrigerator for 15 minutes before serving. If you want to know the best temperatures for each individual wine, you might want to refer to a wine temperature chart.
continued

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

31

Improving Wine’s Taste in Three Easy Steps Finally, let your wine breathe a bit before drinking. Letting a wine breathe or aerate is a perfect way to let many red wines balance their flavors by releasing and softening their bitter tannins. Just removing the cork and letting the bottle sit open is not enough to allow it to breathe properly. A larger surface area of the wine must be allowed to mix with the surrounding air in order for the wine to aerate effectively. To achieve this you can use a wine decanter or any glass container that has a wide opening. You can also pour the wine into a large mouthed glass and swirl it around a bit before drinking. Knowing how long to aerate a wine so it reaches its full potential is definitely the tricky part. Younger, very tannic red wines may need as many as two hours of aeration, but a full bodied, complex red wine may need only an hour. Wines older than 15 years deteriorate quickly, so these wines need only a few minutes of aeration in order to fully peak. Remember, treat your wine right and it will be good to you as well. By choosing the right glass, the right temperature, and allowing it to aerate properly, you’ll be able to enjoy each bottle of wine the way it was intended.

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

32

The Essential Wines – Seven Bottles Cover All Occasions
Like that little black Chanel ‘A – line’ dress that never goes out of style, there are a few must have wines for a small collection that should always be at the ready that will please most any discerning guest’s palate and never go out of style. Your mission, without having to stock an entire cellar, is to purchase wines that bridge the varietal palate from light and fruity white wines to robust, full-bodied red wines. Purchase varietals that most everyone will recognize and trust. If you keep on-hand Champagne or Sparkling wine, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, both U.S. and French, Pinot Noir, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon - you’re set. There are a multitude of vineyards and price ranges for each varietal that can be purchased from sites like Wine.com or WineExpress.com. Some of our favorites can be found on our site at 100BestWines. However, a little shopping at either or both sites is worth the time. Once you’ve purchased your essential varietals, it’s most important to store and care for them properly to maintain their character and balance. A small rack that holds your treasures horizontal, with minimum vibration, and placed in a location that can maintain a relatively consistent temperature between 55°F and 65°F is just fine. Too much heat will cause the wine to rapidly artificially age your wines. You don’t need a fancy cellar for just a few bottles of wine. However, a little attention to their care will ensure drinkability when called upon. Finding the ‘right’ wines is a matter of tasting and experimenting until you find those favorite labels that will begin to form the foundation of your must have wines collection and will certainly please any guest’s taste. Happy hunting!! You can purchase these essential wines by visiting our guide to online wine retailers. Also consider joining our mailing list to receive our free wine and food-pairing tips.

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

33

Top Ten Reasons to Buy Wine Online
Don’t you just love the Internet. How many things have you been able to do online that you never thought possible, or even imagined, just ten years ago? Well, there’s no segment of life that isn’t available in our new, online world, and now buying wine is on that list.

For many years, choosing and buying wine was an art and a science, requiring extensive research and much trial and error (not that trial and error isn’t a win-win when it comes to wine). The simplest approach to trying new wines was to go to your local liquor store and trust a salesman’s recommendation of a wine that just happened to be in stock. Once you were lucky enough to discover your favorites, you wouldn’t know if they were available until you returned to the store and found out. Well, times have changed. The Wide World of Wine on the World Wide Web is an entirely different story. There are only advantages to the entire wine experience online. Let me explain just a few. 1. The prices are fantastic – the Internet is the ultimate “super store”, with the competitive prices to match. 2. There’s such a broad selection – you wouldn’t be exaggerating to say that any bottle of wine can be found at an online wine store. 3. Easy to learn about wine – what could be easier than sitting on your couch and surfcontinued

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

34

Top Ten Reasons to Buy Wine Online ing the web to learn about wine varietals, ratings, food and wine pairings, and the latest in wine accessories? 4. Research the winery – it’s the next best thing to taking that wine country tour of Napa, and a lot less expensive. 5. You’ll see what others say – whether they are professional wine tasters, connoisseurs or just the common person like you and me, find out what they think about the wine you want to buy. 6. It’s shipped to your front door – save on gas, save on time and enjoy coming home to see your latest selections on the front porch – in many cases, the with free shipping. 7. There’s information on wine glasses, wine racks, wine coolers and more – don’t stop at just shopping for wine, you can learn about and shop for all sorts of wine accessories. 8. Find books to read and enjoy – so you want to do some of your research off-line, then order up one of the many books on wine – online, of course. 9. Did you know you can personalize your wine label – buy personalized wine with labels custom designed by you with your special message. 10. Sending wine as that special gift couldn’t be easier – no more troubles with gift ideas – direct ship wine gift baskets or enroll your recipient in a wine club. Perhaps the #1 reason to buy wine online is because it saves time – you don’t want to waste your time worrying about making the right choices, you want to spend your time enjoying the best wines.

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

35

3
Pairing Wine with Food

Why Pair Wine with Food?
Like Bogart and Bacall, children and puppies, or peanut butter and jelly, some things are just meant to be together. It’s no different when pairing wine with food. Wine was made to go with food, so when paired together properly, the resulting flavor combinations can really bring out the best of both the wine and the food. How wine tastes in your mouth can vary widely depending on its serving temperature, the shape of the glass it’s served in, its age, as well as the types of food you eat with it. The food you choose to serve with a particular wine can cause the wine to taste better or worse, be overpowered by the food, or add new flavor dimensions to the wine that can sing like a symphony on your palate. This is why top chefs think long and hard about what wine goes with their dishes and suggest particular varieties in order to best compliment both the food and the wine qualities together. This marrying of flavors has a certain level of science to it that can make choosing the right food for the right wine predictable to a point. Most people know that food consists of four basic tastes: sweet, sour, salt, and bitter. This is what our tongues can detect in the many foods we eat. This translates well with wine because wine falls into four flavor categories as well: sweet, acidic, alcohol, and tannic. Knowing this, we can easily combine wine with food based on their complementary or contrasting aspects and elements. Like the many colors on a color wheel, ones that are close together go best together, so wine that is close in flavor to the food it is paired with go well together. For example, sweet desserts should be served with an even sweeter dessert wine, lobster soaked in butter should be paired with a buttery tasting Chardonnay, mushroom dishes should be served with an equally earthy wine like red Burgundy, and bitter grilled eggplant goes nicely with a tannic Cabernet Sauvignon. Colors that are placed directly opposite of each other on the color wheel are considered contrasting colors, but they also go well together. Therefore, wines and foods that contrast each other can also work well together. Much like mixing sweet chocolates with salty pretzels, the contrasting tastes just work for some reason. For instance, spicy foods work well with sweet wines, like Riesling. Salty cheeses go well with sweet wines, like Sauternes. Fatty, oily foods, like smoked salmon, can be served with acidic white wines, like Muscadet. Another thing to consider is the weight of a wine in comparison to the food it is served with. Lighter wines should be paired with lighter foods and heavier wines should be paired with
continued

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

37

Why Pair Wine with Food? heavier foods. The logic behind this methodology is to not allow the wine or the food to overshadow or overwhelm the other. They should be balanced and working together, not against each other. Pinot Grigio and Riesling are considered lighter white wines, while White Bordeaux and Viognier are considered heavier. Beaujolais and Dolcetto are considered lighter red wines, while Barolo and Barbaresco are considered heavier. Lighter meals, like fish, go best with the lighter varieties of wine and heavier meals, like lamb, go better with the heavier wines. While pairing wines with food can certainly be very confusing and complicated, these simple rules will at least get you going in the right direction. Oh course, trial and error are the best ways to learn, so eat, drink, and be merry!

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

38

Wine Pairing Suggestions
You might be wondering how so many different types of wine can come from just one little tasty fruit. Well, the truth is there are many different types of grapes that come from many different parts of the world. Each type of grape has its own unique flavors and characteristics based on what type of grape it is and what part of the world it comes from. Wines are named after the kind of grape it is made from. A varietal wine is one that is made from one type of grape or is the dominant juice in the wine, depending on where it is made. Because wines have such unique flavor differences based on these varying grapes from around the globe, some wines just naturally go better with certain foods based on their flavor profiles. So, take a look at some of these basic food and wine pairings to get you started in matching the right meal with the right wine.

RED WINES
BARBERA: PAIR WITH PASTA AND TOMATO DISHES. A Barbera red will often have a rich aroma of berries, cherries, and plums while its flavor combinations will consist of vanillas, toasted nuts, or even a touch of smokiness. CABERNET SAUVIGNON: PAIR WITH ANY RED MEAT. This is a heavy, full-bodied red wine that is rich in strong tannins. The aged oak barrels give this wine a complexity of flavors that may include blackberry, cassis, and even bell pepper. Cabernet Sauvignon wines are often mixed with other grape varieties to make them easier to drink earlier. For instance, French Bordeaux is actually Cabernet Sauvignon mixed with Merlot. MERLOT: PAIR WITH POULTRY OR GRILLED MEATS. A Merlot is a dry red wine that is generally smoother than other red wines due to its lower tannins. It goes well with most meats and other foods due to its smooth nature. Its flavor combinations can include black cherry, boysenberry, herbs, and mocha tastes. PINOT NOIR: PAIR WITH DUCK, LAMB, ROAST BEEF, OR SALMON. This full-bodied red wine is best known for its smooth and velvety tastes and textures. It has a higher alcohol content than some other red wines that slide down the throat nicely. Pinot Noir is a very fruity wine that is full of flavor with just a hint of herbs and spices. Its flavors and aromas often taste and smell of black cherries and roses.
continued

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

39

Wine Pairing Suggestions SANGIOVESE: PAIR WITH ITALIAN FOODS AND PASTAS. This dry red wine is considered medium in body with a smooth texture. It has an earthy bouquet with a nice blend of berries, plums, floral, and spices. When mixed with other grape varieties, Sangiovese is used in producing Italian Chianti wines. SYRAH OR SHIRAZ: PAIR WITH DUCK, BEEF, STEAK, OR WILD GAME. This is a very flavorful, complex red wine that is often a very dark red or nearly black color. Its usually has strong flavors that can range from raspberries and plums to white pepper and smokiness. ZINFANDEL: PAIR WITH GRILLED MEANS AND STEAKS. Red Zinfandel wines come in a variety of different types and flavors depending on where they are made. Some Zinfandel wines are considered light while others are considered fuller bodied. They can be spicy or fruity with flavor combinations that can include black pepper, licorice, or raspberry jam.

WHITE WINES
CHARDONNAY: PAIR WITH CHICKEN, FISH, OR SEAFOOD. This is a dry white wine that is typically fuller bodied and more acidic than the other white wines. It has a fruity aroma with hints of grapefruit or lemon. Chardonnays are fermented in oak barrels which give them a rich, toasty, and buttery taste with flavor combinations of apple, nuts, or vanilla. French Chardonnays are generally milder in flavor than California Chardonnays. GEWURZTRAMINER: PAIR WITH PORK SAUSAGES OR SPICY ASIAN FOODS. This white wine has a spicier bouquet and can be either dry or sweet in nature. Its fruity flavor combinations can consist of apricots, peaches, tropical fruits, and lychee. PINOT GRIGIO: PAIR WITH FRESHWATER SALMON OR SEAFOOD. Sometimes called Pinot Gris, a Pinot Grigio is a light and crisp white wine with hints of almond, lemon, and vanilla. REISLING: PAIR WITH CHICKEN, PORK, FISH, OR SPICIER FOODS. Depending on what part of the world they come from, Reisling wines can either have a very dry or a very sweet flavor to them. They tend to have a floral aroma and go well with white meats. California Reisling wines are generally sweeter than those from Germany which are both sweet and acidic tasting.

continued

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

40

Wine Pairing Suggestions SAUVIGNON BLANC: PAIR WITH POULTRY, SEAFOOD, SALADS, OR CHEESES. This is one of the lighter white wines that his a crisp and acidic finish. It usually has a grassy, citric aroma to it. Sauvignon Blanc wines often taste like apples, pears, melons, limes, green teas, or even freshly mowed grass. They also often have a smoky flavor to them. California varieties are a bit grassier than ones produced in New Zealand.

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

41

A Lesson in Pairing French and Italian Wines
It can be a bit intimidating trying to choose a fine wine while dining in a fine restaurant. However, with a little bit of wine knowledge, you can easily pick a wine that will go well with just about any fine meal. While the general rule of thumb calls for full-bodied red wines to accompany rich, red meat meals and white wines with lighter, white meat meals, there are some wines that go better with certain dishes than others. Take a look at the following suggestions and feel confident in ordering the right wine to compliment any meal the next time you’re dining out.

FRENCH RED WINES
Beaujolais is a light-bodied red wine that comes from the Beaujolais region of France. It is made from the Gamay grape and is fruity and a bit acidic. It often smells of pears or bananas and can taste more like grape juice than wine. It’s a perfect wine for cheeses. Pomerol is a dark red wine that comes from the Bordeaux region of France. It mainly uses the Merlot grape to produce a full-bodied, thick, rich wine that is low in acidity, yet ripe with tannins. It can produce aromas of black cherry, leather, vanilla, and fruitcake. Pomerol pairs well with venison. Saint-Emilion wines come from the oldest wine areas of the Bordeaux region of France. It is a full-bodied red wine that this known for its robust nature and quick maturity for a heavy red wine. It has earthy aromas that pair well with lamb, spare ribs, and sauerkraut.

ITALIAN RED WINES
Amarone comes from the Venitian region of Italy. It is a dry red wine that has a bold body. While some Amarone wines are bitter in taste, others are quite fruity. It has flavors of fig, licorice, and tobacco. It pairs well with beef and wild game. Barbaresco comes from the Piedmont area of Italy and is closely related to the Barolo. It is a strong red wine made from the Nebbiolo grape that has rich aromas and elegant flavor combinations. They are extremely tannic and are known for their lingering tastes. It pairs well with grilled meats and veal. Barolo is made from the Nebbiolo grape and comes from the Piedmont area of Italy. Barocontinued

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

42

A Lesson in Pairing French and Italian Wines lo is a full-bodied red wine with a deep rich color, thick texture, and complex flavor. There are a variety of different flavors that come from different areas of Piedmont that can result in floral, fruity, oak, or licorice blends. It pairs well with lamb, pork, and stew. Chianti comes from the Chianti region of Tuscany, Italy. Only wines made in this area can be labeled Chianti. It is a strong and bold red wine that pairs well with any red sauced, wellseasoned pastas and meats. Gattinara is a dark, full-bodied wine that comes from the Piedmont region of Italy. It is made from Nebbiolo grapes which produces a wine rich in the aromas of blackberry, plum, and licorice with a touch of vanilla or leather. Its flavors are a rich and intense blend of cherries, raspberries, and spices which go down smooth. It pairs well with steak, wild game, and hard cheeses. Grumello is produced in the Lombardy region of Italy. It’s a dry, red wine that is velvety and mildly tannic. It pairs well with wild game and hard cheeses. Vino Nobile di Montepulciano comes from the Tuscany region of Italy. It is often referred to as “the king of all wines.” It has a strong, fresh, fruity taste with a smooth finish. It pairs well with pheasant.

FRENCH WHITE WINES
French Chardonnay grapes are grown in the Chablis, Burgundy region of France. Chardonnay is a crisp, dry white wine that is known for its wide variety of flavors, typically those of apples, lemon, lime, tangerine, melon, and oak. It pairs well with chicken, lobster, and scallops. Muscadet comes from Nantes, France in the Loire Valley. The Melon de Bourgonge is a hardy grape that is nearly flavorless. It is left to sit out during the winter months in hopes of gaining flavor before it is bottled. Very light, tangy, and somewhat sparkling in nature, it can taste like green apples or citrus. It goes well with shellfish, oysters, and fish. Pouilly Fuisse is a good quality white wine that comes from the Macon section of Burgundy, France. It ages well and can be stored for more than 20 years in a cellar. The wine is rich and dry with a nutty aroma. It goes well with pork or shellfish. Pouilly Fume comes from the Loire Valley of France. It is a thick, dry white wine that has an unusually strong taste of musk and smoke. It pairs well with duck, veal, salmon, and chicken. Riesling grapes actually hail from Germany, but they are also grown in the Alsace region of France, as well as others. It is a complex white wine that can be bitter or sweet, depending on the quality of the wine. It ages well and can have a fruity, floral, or musky taste to it. It pairs well with Sauerbraten, Asian foods, seafood, and makes a great dessert wine. Saint-Veran is a white wine that comes from the Macon section of Burgundy, France. It is
continued

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

43

A Lesson in Pairing French and Italian Wines made from Chardonnay grapes and has a fruity, flowery aroma with crisp and refreshing flavors. It pairs well with oysters, mussels, and pate.

ITALIAN WHITE WINES
Gavi is a dry white wine that comes from the Piedmont area of Italy. It is made from the Cortese grape and is the most expensive Italian wine that is exported to the United States. It is mild in aroma and very acidic and fruity in flavor. It pairs well with fish and shellfish. Pinot Grigio is an Italian white wine. The same grape in France is called Pinot Gris. The grape is unusual because it is the white mutation of the pinot noir red grape. Italian Pinot Grigio wines are dry and light with a bit of a mineral taste to them. It goes well with ham and white sauce meals. Soave is one of the most popular white wines in Italy and comes from the Venice area. It comes in three different styles: dry/still, spumanti/sparkling, and recioto/sweet. It’s a smooth, mild wine that tastes of mild perfumes or flowers with a hint of almonds. It actually goes well with Chinese food or can be used as a before dinner drink.

FRENCH ROSE
Tavel (or French Rose) is a dry rose wine from the southern Rhone region of France. It is a very dry wine that can have a hint of sweetness, depending on grape used. It pairs well with cold meats.

FRENCH SPARKLING
Champagne can only be labeled as such if it comes from the Champagne region of France. Those that come from other areas of the world, such as California, can only be called Sparkling Wine. It pairs well with clams and oysters. Of course, we can always help you discover the very best wine at the very best price at 100 Best Wines. Check us out to quickly find exactly what you’re looking for.

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

44

4
Entertaining with Wine

How to Host a Wine Tasting Party
Whether you’re an experienced wine connoisseur or new to the world of wine, hosting a wine tasting party can be fun for you, your family, and friends. While having a wine tasting party can sound a bit pretentious, it’s actually a great way to spend some quality time with friends while learning about different wines. It’s also quite simple to prepare for as long as you understand the basic elements of what a wine tasting party consists of. While there are many ideas for wine tasting party fun, your first decision should be whether you’re going to have a “blind” or “non-blind” wine tasting party. Blind tasting parties consist of concealing a wine’s identity as tasters compare and contrast their various qualities, and make wine tasting scents very important. Non-blind tasting parties do not hide the identities of the wines being tasted. While blind wine tasting parties can be a little more complicated than non-blind wine tasting parties, both are fun and educational. (You might want to consider a complete wine tasting kit that can be found online.) Here we will only discuss the aspects of non-blind tasting parties. You’ll want to determine what varieties of wines to taste, as well as how many. You have a variety of options to choose from in determining what types of wines to pick. You can go from white to red to dessert, pick wines that come from the same grapes but originate from different parts of the world, or taste wines that only come from one region. Online wine retailers are a great place to find your wines and plan your selections. It’s completely up to you to decide which direction you want your wine tasting parties to take. How much wine you buy is going to be determined by how many people you invite. Remember, it’s a tasting party, not a gulp-fest, so each person will only need to consume about two ounces of each type of wine. A good rule of thumb is to buy one bottle for every ten people. Of course, if you’re inviting thirty people to your wine tasting, it can get expensive. So, consider asking each guest to bring a specific bottle of wine. Just make sure all the guests are actually going to make it to the party. Once you’ve decided on your varieties, determine what order you’ll taste the wines. You should generally serve your wines from white to red, light to full-bodied, sweet to dry, or young to old. A good place to start with your first wine tasting party would be to choose several white wines, several red wines, and one or two sparkling wines. This combination allows guests with varying palates a better opportunity for finding a type of wine they like. Before setting up for your wine tasting party, make sure your wine varieties will be served at the proper temperatures. Your white wines should be chilled, but not too cold and your red
continued

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

46

How to Host a Wine Tasting Party wines at cellar room temperature. A good rule of thumb to follow is to remove your whites from and place your reds in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes before the tasting begins. This will help your wines taste their best. Each guest will need to have a wine glass, preferably one with a large bowl for swirling and sniffing. Glasses used for wine tasting are very important, so spend some time selecting good stemware. Provide everyone with a disposable cup to use if they choose not to swallow their wine. Also provide one larger container for guests to pour their unused wine between varieties. You should also provide a pitcher of water for guests to rinse out their glasses between wines. You’ll need to prepare ahead of time wine tasting score cards that list each wine, a short description of the wines, as well as a list of characteristics to rate each wine with. This tasting card can be made into a grid with each wine listed on the left side and columns representing the color, aroma, flavor, finishing, and overall assessment. Finally, you’ll want to have bread, salt-free crackers, and water available for cleansing the palate between wines. Once your guests arrive, place the wines out in the order they’ll be tasted and pour two to three ounces into each glass. Ask your guests to hold the wine up and discuss the color and depth of each wine. Discussions throughout the tasting will make for a more complete and fulfilling experience for all. Next, swirl the wine in the glass to release the aromas, bring the glass to your nose, breathe deeply, and describe the strengths and varieties of smells. Now you can taste the wine, but hold it in your mouth and try to feel the flavors. Is it acidic or sweet; are the tannins high or low; is it light or full-bodied; can you taste the alcohol? Swallow the wine and think about its finish, or aftertaste. Does the flavor stay in your mouth or is gone in an instant? Finally, everyone can discuss how they felt about the wine overall. Did they like it or hate it? After all the wines have been tasted and the tasting cards tallied, you can reveal the final results. Which wines were the most and least popular? After it’s all said and done, your guests can enjoy more of their favorites wines (if there are any leftover) and everyone will have learned something new and interesting while having a lot of fun too. The final step will probably result in choosing who will host the next wine tasting event!

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

47

Kick It Up a Notch with Blind Wine Tasting
Throwing a wine tasting party can be both entertaining and educational for you and your guests, no matter what your level of wine understanding might be. However, throwing a “blind” wine tasting can kick your party up a notch by making it more of a challenge or game for your guests, and making wine tasting scents even more important. At a “non-blind” wine tasting party, guests know which wines they’re going to taste beforehand. At blind wine tasting parties, guests have no idea what wine varieties, brands, flavors, or even what price range they’re going to sample. This can be a lot of fun because some people might have a preconceived notion or even a bit of prejudice about certain kinds of wines, so having a blind wine tasting eliminates this sort of bias. The proof is truly in the pudding when all the wines are on a level playing field of anonymity. There are many ideas for wine tasting party fun, but when preparing for blind tasting, you should decide on a general theme. You can buy wines that are from different countries, regions, or grape varieties. (There are even wine tasting party kits you can buy.) Provide your guests a written description of each wine’s characteristics, such as flavors, aromas, or tannic qualities to look for when tasting. Many of these descriptions can come right from the wine’s label. You can also choose wines of varying price ranges, from cheap table wines to more expensive quality wines. Your guests must try to determine which wines are the cheapest and the most expensive. No matter what your wine theme is, each guest should be given a score card with different categories to evaluate each wine’s qualities and whether or not they like them. Before your guests arrive, you need to conceal the identity of each bottle of wine. Purchase some tall brown paper bags, the kind they make for bottles, and put each bottle of wine inside one. You’ll want to put either rubber bands or tape around the bags at the necks to prevent them from falling off while pouring. You might want to remove any foil caps from the wine’s necks as well, to conceal any telltale markings. Write a letter (A, B, C, etc.) on each bag so you know which wine to serve next and for your guests to know which wine they’re evaluating on their scorecards. Like non-blind wine tasting parties, you’ll want to serve your wines from white to red, light to full-bodied, sweet to dry, or young to old. The glasses used for wine tasting are important - each guest will need a large-bowled wine glass in order to properly swirl and sniff each wine. Using plastic cups will not allow your guests to fully enjoy and analyze the wine, so stick with real glasses. Each guest also needs a disposable cup to discard any wine they don’t swallow, as well as the all important wine tasting score cards and pencil. The table should have a large container for

continued

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

48

Kick It Up a Notch with Blind Wine Tasting pouring out any unused wine guests want to discard and a pitcher of water to be used for cleaning out glasses between wines. In addition, you’ll want to have something available to cleanse the palate, such as bread, plain crackers, and water. Once the wine tasting is complete, each guest should turn in their scorecards and the results tallied. Remove the bags from the wines to reveal the identities of each wine. Prizes can be awarded to those who guessed the most correctly, preferably a bottle of their favorite wine. In the end, you and your guests will have had a wonderful time learning about different wines and what makes them so delicious!

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

49

Choosing a Wine for Your Party Host
Choosing the perfect wine as a gift for a party host is an old, venerated, and perfectly acceptable ‘thank you’ for your invitation to the party and a sign that you care about and acknowledge the hard work of the person hosting the party. Begin by determining a price point that doesn’t break the bank and work from there to find a delicious, complex wine that your host will enjoy.

SIMPLE TASKS
STEP 1: Look through wine magazines such as Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast. Take a few moments to go on-line to such websites as Wine.com, MyWinesDirect.com, or TheWineMessenger.com to browse and familiarize yourself with the spectrum of current offerings. Specialized publications and websites typically rate wines in a variety of price ranges to help you get the best value for your money. Or check out our guide to buying wine online and join our mailing list to receive our free wine and food-pairing tips. STEP 2: Decide on a white, red, blend, or sparkling wine to narrow your search. As a general rule, white wines are preferable in the middle of summer, red wines for winter and sparkling wines for any special occasion. Importantly, there are no hard and fast rules that must be followed. Perhaps a wine that should be ‘layed down’ or cellared for maximum enjoyment maybe preferable. Enjoying a memory of a party and its guests long ago can be a treasure, STEP 3: Visit a wine or beverage store and ask the resident sommelier to show you a variety of wines in your price range. Choose one based on expected taste attributes, vineyard location (i.e., appellation), varietal (i.e., the type of grape) and aesthetic appeal of the bottle and label. Make no mistake, the label can nearly be art when the bottle is displayed appropriately, STEP 4: Purchase a wine bag in which to present the bottle to your host. These festive bags are long and slim, and fit a typical bottle of wine perfectly. They come in an almost endless array of fabrics, colors, and designs, STEP 5: Wrap the wine in colorful gift wrap, tissue paper or colored cellophane paper. Tie a color-coordinated bow around the neck to secure the paper around the bottle and add the finishing visual touch, and

continued

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

50

Choosing a Wine for Your Party Host STEP 6: Always enclose a gift card. It’s frustrating for your host to acknowledge your thoughtfulness if he/she doesn’t know from whom it came.

TIPS & WARNINGS
Remember, the host is NEVER obligated to serve a bottle of wine that has been brought by a guest. Choosing a wine because YOU want to enjoy it is out of line. Present the wine as what it is: a gift to be used at the host’s discretion. Wine given as a gift should never be chilled. In the event that the host does choose to serve a white or sparkling wine during the party, suggest placing the bottle in the refrigerator for approximately 30 minutes, or in the freezer for approximately 10 minutes.

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

51

Valentine’s Day Essentials
Your mission should be to make this special day as personal as possible and, hopefully, last well beyond the actual Valentine’s Day. The best part is that you can make all the plans right from your PC and purchase every item online. Couldn’t be easier! The options are nearly endless, but here are a few ideas that we have tried and KNOW will work for you. One of the most obvious and often overlooked gifts are personalized gift baskets of flowers or living plants. Flowers, the variety, number, and color, show you know what message you want to convey to your Valentine. Some of the rose colors and their meanings are: • Red; passionate and lasting love, • Pink; admiration and appreciation, • White; purity, friendship, • Purple; love forever, • Yellow; I care or I’m sorry. Some additional varieties and their meanings are: • Baby’s Breath; innocence or purity of heart, • Carnations; respect, motherly love, • Daisies; friendship, sympathy, • Orchid; success • Sunflower; fascination, magic The number can be important too: • Single; simple: You are the one! • Six; I love you! • Dozen; I love you with all my heart! • 12 plus; I love you with all my heart and I’ve got the money! Gift baskets can also include items you might not have thought about before, but are special and say you care. Consider including: • The special bottle of wine you may have shared before to evoke lasting memories, • Champagne & Chocolates make a decadent gift basket and pair together very well,
continued

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

52

Valentine’s Day Essentials • Bath & Body baskets where you select the items to create a luxurious spa at home, • A complete dinner delivered to your door such as a complete lobster feast (don’t forget the champagne or wine), • Individually wrapped Tower of Boxes gift sets is unique and adds suspense as each is opened. Valentine’s Day gifts that keep giving throughout the years say that you care, not just for the day, but for every day after. Some of our favorites include: • Enrolling your special Valentine in a Wine Club that will provide remarkable selections sent to them periodically throughout the year. • Create a personalized bottle of wine for your Valentine. You select the wine, choose a label design, and create YOUR personalized message for the label. You can even include special pictures and graphics! • Don’t forget the glasses!!! They can be personalized as well and lets your Valentine know that you have planned every detail. Our partner wine retailers will help you through the process of purchasing a Valentine’s Day gift that is personal, special, and, most importantly, maybe just keep you out of trouble this year!!

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

53

Brined Maple Turkey with Cream Gravy
Pairing a wine with a recipe can be a daunting, if not frustrating exercise, that can be less complimentary with and potentially detracting from the dining experience. We have chosen a somewhat unique recipe for the Thanksgiving Holiday that is sure to please the guests and a few wine suggestions that will marry the flavors of the dish, not conflict with your traditional side dishes, and certainly please the palate. Our selection is a brine-soaked, maple-glazed roasted turkey paired with a selection of fruity, light Zinfandels.

BRINE
8 3/4 3/4 3 8 1 quarts water cup kosher salt cup maple syrup tablespoons black peppercorns garlic cloves lemon, thinly sliced (12 lb) fresh whole turkey (or thawed frozen) cup cola cup maple syrup tablespoons minced fresh thyme tablespoon dried rubbed sage tablespoon poultry seasoning teaspoon black pepper garlic cloves, chopped onions, quartered cooking spray ounces homemade chicken broth or 1 (14 1/2 ounce) can fat-free low-sodium chicken broth cup whole milk tablespoons cornstarch teaspoon salt teaspoon black pepper

TURKEY
1 1 1/2 2 1 1 1/2 4 2

GRAVY
14 1/2 1 2 1/4 1/4

1.

Brining makes for a juicier bird and the subtle flavors of the brine soak into the turkey. Kosher salt works well for the brine because it dissolves more easily than table salt. If you have the time and refrigerator space, the brining procedure is worthwhile. If not, the turkey will still be quite good. continued

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

54

Brined Maple Turkey with Cream Gravy 2. 3. To prepare brine, combine first 6 ingredients in a large stockpot, stirring until salt dissolves. To prepare turkey, remove and reserve giblets and neck from turkey. Rinse turkey with cold water; pat dry. Trim excess fat. Add turkey to pot, turning to coat. Cover and refrigerate 24 hours, turning occasionally. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bring cola and 1/2 cup syrup to a boil in a small saucepan; cook 1 minute. Combine thyme, sage, seasoning, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Remove turkey from brine; pat dry. Starting at neck cavity, loosen skin from breast and drumsticks by inserting fingers, gently pushing between skin and meat. Rub thyme mixture under loosened skin; sprinkle inside body cavity. Place 4 garlic cloves and onions in body cavity. Tie ends of legs together with twine. Lift wing tips up and over back; tuck under turkey. Place turkey on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Insert a meat thermometer into meaty part of a thigh, making sure not to touch bone. Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes. Pour cola mixture over turkey; cover with foil. Bake an additional 1 hour and 45 minutes or until thermometer registers 180 degrees. Remove turkey from pan, reserving drippings for gravy. Place turkey on a platter. Cover loosely with foil; let stand 10 minutes. Remove twine. Discard skin. To prepare gravy, while turkey bakes, combine reserved giblet and neck and the broth in a saucepan; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 45 minutes. Strain mixture through a colander into a bowl, discarding solids. Place a zip-top plastic bag inside a 2-cup glass measure. Pour pan drippings into bag; let stand 10 minutes (fat will rise to the top).

4. 5. 6.

7.

8.

9.

10. Seal bag; carefully snip off 1 bottom corner of bag. Drain drippings into broiler pan, stopping before fat layer reaches opening; discard fat. Add broth mixture. Place broiler pan on stovetop over medium heat, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Combine milk and cornstarch in a small bowl, stirring well with a whisk; add to pan. Bring to a boil; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. 11. Strain gravy through a sieve into a bowl; discard solids. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

WINE SELECTIONS
Choosing a wine to accompany this fabulously moist and delicious turkey shouldn’t be more difficult than preparing the meal. Try one of these wines that will enhance the meal and add

continued

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

55

Brined Maple Turkey with Cream Gravy to your holiday enjoyment. A California Zinfandel pairs well with the slightly sweet flavor of the turkey and can handle any of the traditional stuffings and side dishes. Dry Creek Vineyard Old Vines Zinfandel 2006 - Sonoma County, California Ravenswood Teldeschi Vineyard Zinfandel 2006 - Sonoma County, California Ridge York Creek Zinfandel 2008 - Sonoma County, California Kenwood Jack London Vineyard Zinfandel 2007 - Sonoma County, California

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

56

Our Twelve Wines of Christmas
Everyone relishes a happy and joyful holiday season, and while decorations and festivities abound, nothing is more satisfying than the warm companionship and conversation of holiday dining. When you enjoy your special traditions and recipes for that fabulous family meal, the superb banquet with friends, or the cozy dinner for two, nothing adds more to special holiday dining than just the right partnering with wine. But always remember Rule #1 of pairing wine with food– there are NO rules when it comes to matching wine with your favorite recipe. Don’t worry whether it’s red or white, dry or fruity – the ultimate match is the one that best pleases your palate. And when you discover that perfect match, make notes so you can replicate your success, and share it with others. Here at 100BestWines.com, we thought that the “Twelve Days of Christmas” tradition would be an excellent vehicle to offer some exquisite wine selections we’ve found successful for the holidays. Here are a few versatile wines that will surely enhance your dining experience.

THE 1ST DAY OF CHRISTMAS WINES …
… A REFRESHING RIESLING TO KICK OFF THE HOLIDAYS Our Recommended Selections • Jacob’s Creek Reserve Riesling 2009 (Screw Cap) – Australia • Columbia Winery Cellarmaster’s Riesling 2008 – Washington State What a wonderful choice to kick off the holidays, and with several styles of Riesling for you to share and enjoy. A good dry vintage from the venerable Alsace region of France, or new vintages from Australia, California, or Washington State which tend to have heady floral aromas and fruit that hold up well due to a higher acidity. These varietals pair well with many foods, but may be best enjoyed on their own to prevent masking the full aromas and flavors. A sweeter-style, or off dry, Riesling from Germany shares many of the same characteristics as their dryer cousins, but are enhanced with a deeper, richer texture and mouth-feel. These Rieslings can stand-up to strong cheeses such as Stilton or Maytag Blue and can offset the spiciness of many Asian dishes.

continued

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

57

Our Twelve Wines of Christmas

THE 2ND DAY OF CHRISTMAS WINES …
… PAIR A PINOT NOIR WITH YOUR TURKEY Our Recommended Selections • Louis Jadot Pinot Noir 2007 – Burgundy, France • Napa Cellars Pinot Noir 2007 – Napa Valley, California • Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Pinot Noir 2007- California A classic wine for the classic holiday dinner, Pinot Noirs, responsible for the hearty wines of Burgundy, France, can exhibit complex flavors that are fruity and floral. Pinots from France tend to be warmer and more like a Merlot while Oregon produces lighter floral forward scents, and California will be fruitier. But don’t be afraid to experiment with the excellent Pinots produced in Chile, Australia, and New Zealand. While the grape may be difficult to grow the wine is exciting on the palate producing smooth berry flavors and a texture that won’t disappoint. Your turkey will definitely be enhanced by this remarkable wine.

THE 3RD DAY OF CHRISTMAS WINES …
… CHOOSE A SPECIAL MERLOT WHEN YOU COOK YOUR GOOSE Our Recommended Selections • Casa Lapostolle Cuvee Alexandre Merlot 2007 – Chile • Oberon Merlot 2006 - Napa Valley, California The richness of the goose is well accented by a full-bodied Merlot. This ever increasingly popular varietal, at home in Bordeaux, is being cultivated around the world. More supple than a Cabernet these wines want to please. Lush, ripe berry flavors are accompanied with varying intensities of spice. From Bordeaux to Napa Valley to Chile and South Africa there are so many wineries from which to choose.

THE 4TH DAY OF CHRISTMAS WINES …
… MAKE SURE TO SPARKLE WHEN YOU CELEBRATE Our Recommended Selections • Domaine Chandon Blanc de Noirs – Napa Valley, CA • Domaine Chandon Reserve Pinot Noir Brut – Napa Valley, CA We all enjoy classic French Champagne when we celebrate, but these days, a sparkling wine from California is equally pleasing. There is a wide range of styles from which to choose to
continued

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

58

Our Twelve Wines of Christmas suit you taste - from dryest to sweetest they are Extra Brut (with 1.5% residual sugar), Brut, Extra Sec, Sec, Demi-Sec, and Doux (with more than 5% sugar). Our two favorites are from Domaine Chandon, one being a “dry” or Brut selection, from one of the most beautiful wineries in Napa Valley. The only thing better than enjoying this for your holiday toast would be to enjoy it, and the view, from the Domaine Chandon winery itself.

THE 5TH DAY OF CHRISTMAS WINES …
… ADD SOME ZIP WITH JUST THE RIGHT ZIN Our Recommended Selections • Dry Creek Vineyard Heritage Zinfandel 2008 – Sonoma, CA • Estancia Zinfandel Paso Robles 2007 – Central Coast, CA • Ridge York Creek Zinfandel 2007 – Sonoma, CA The zip is no mistake in these robust wines that features good structure built upon a nose of ripe cherries and raspberries and a finish of spices and pepper. You’ll find a zinfandel to be a great accompaniment to any main course, and a wonderful wine to continue to enjoy even after the meal has ended. Don’t be alarmed - Christmas hasn’t ended after just five days - there are seven more days of Christmas, and fantastic wines for them yet to come! Take the time to discover even more great holiday wine adventures. We hope this light hearted approach to holiday wine pairing has helped you with your Yuletide planning. For even more help, check out our guide to wine selection and join our mailing list to receive our free wine and food-pairing tips.

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

59

5
Wine Glasses and Accessories

How to Choose the Right Wine Glass
The idea that different wines taste better when served in the proper glass seems a bit pretentious when you first hear about it. What could the size and shape of a glass possibly have anything to do with how a wine tastes? Beer tastes the same whether you serve it in a pilsner glass or drink it straight from the bottle, so why would wine be any different? Well, there are actually many good reasons for why wine tastes differently in different glasses. It mostly has to do with how the wine breathes and how your nose and palate receive the aromas that go along with the flavors of the wine. It sounds pretentious again I know, but once you understand how wine reacts to its environment you might better understand why the glass it is served in is very important to how it tastes. Wine is not just meant for drinking. To truly appreciate the subtle qualities of each type of wine, you need to be able to see it, smell it, feel it, taste it, and consider its aftertaste. Choosing the right wine glass to go with the right wine is an important factor in being able to fully enjoy all of these qualities in bottle of wine. From inexpensive wine glasses that you can buy at any grocery store to handcrafted works of art that can cost more than the wine itself, there are a wide range of glasses to choose from. In the end though, it doesn’t really matter how much money you spend on the glass, but choosing the right size and shape of the glass does. Overall, there are three basic types of wine glasses to choose from that you can serve just about any kind of wine in properly. Red wine glasses have a large round bowl shape, much like a fish bowl, that tapers in at the rim slightly. Good red wine glasses are usually 10-16 ounces in size. The large shaped mouth gives a red wine the opportunity to mix with the surrounding air, allowing it to breathe or mellow out a bit before drinking. Larger glasses are best for red wines so that it can be swirled around without fear of spilling it all over the place. This swirling doesn’t just make you look like you know what you’re doing, but it actually serves to release the aromas of the wine. The wide mouth also gives your nose room enough to smell the wine as you’re drinking it. This combination of taste and smell makes the wine more flavorful and satisfying. White wine glasses are usually described as tulip shaped. The rim of the glass is tapered in slightly and is usually 8-14 ounces in size. Like the red wine glass, the tapering of the rim allows the aromas of a white wine to be directed towards the nose in order to more fully experience the flavors of the wine. It’s not generally as important to swirl white wine as it is to swirl red wine because it’s usually less harsh and doesn’t need to mix with the air as much to release its full potential. Sparkling wine flutes are taller and thinner than red or white wine glasses, but it’s very

continued

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

61

How to Choose the Right Wine Glass important that the rims are tapered inwards. You may see some wine flutes that have a decorative rim that flares out, but this causes your sparkling wine to lose its carbonation more quickly because of too much exposure to the surrounding air. So, when serving champagne or sparkling wine, make sure the glass bowl is tall and thin at the top to keep the bubbles popping longer. No matter what kind of wine glasses you choose to use, you want to make sure they are clear rather than colored and don’t have any unnecessary decorative etchings on the outside of the bowls. Being able to see the colors of the wine is an important part of enjoying the overall experience of drinking wine. You also want to make sure you fill your wine glasses to the proper levels. If it’s your intention to just get drunk off your wine, then you’ll probably want to fill it to the rim, but if you truly want to enjoy your wine more fully then there are some general rules of thumb to follow. Red wine glasses should be filled no more than half way and white wine glasses no more than a third of the way. This allows the wine drinker to swirl, smell, and taste the wine properly rather than wearing it. Sparkling wines flutes should only be filled half way in order to keep the bubbles from escaping and becoming flat. Understanding how and why certain wine glasses go better with certain wines may not make you an instant wine expert, but it will make you look more like you know what you’re doing and soon you’ll be scoffing at all those other people who are still drinking wine out of kitchen glasses. It’s all part of the fun of enjoying wine!

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

62

Why Select a Certain Glass for a Particular Wine?
Just as a golfer chooses the right club, a tennis player the right racket, or a surgeon the right instrument, choosing the right glass for the right wine can improve the quality, enjoyment, and overall performance of your wine and tasting experience. However, choosing the right wine glass doesn’t need to be complicated. Knowing a few basic facts of how stemware can affect a wine’s flavor will make choosing the right glass a simple task and enhance your handling and enjoyment of wine. When choosing proper stemware for your wine, it really comes down to size, shape, thickness, and price. There are a number of online stores that specialize in wine glasses and stemware to help with your choice. While it may seem a bit snobby to have a specific glass for a specific wine, it really does make a difference in how a wine tastes and is experienced. Wine is meant to be enjoyed through sight, smell, and taste, so choosing the right stemware will allow you to see the rich colors, breathe in the deep aromas, and feel the intense flavors of the wine dance inside your mouth. Sounds romantic, huh? As they say, size really does matter when it comes to stemware, so choose ones that have a large, wide bowl. Most “still” wines, ones without bubbles, do best in large bowl type glasses. For red wines they should be at least 12 ounces and for white wines at least 10 ounces in size. This allows plenty of room for the wine to be swirled and sniffed. Moving the wine around inside a large wine glass of this type lets the aromas build to its fullest capacity. Typically, fill your wine glasses about one-third but never more than one-half of the way so you can swirl and sniff the wine inside without fear of spilling or snorting it rather than enjoying it! The shape of the glass is dictated by the type of wine you are drinking. A Bordeaux glass, the kind you probably have in your kitchen cabinet already, has an oval-shaped bowl with a narrowing mouth. This wine glass is great with most Bordeaux, Merlots, Cabernet Sauvignons, and Zinfandels. A Burgundy glass has a wide bowl with a mouth that flares out instead of in. As the name suggests, most red Burgundies, Barolos, and Pinot Noirs work well in this wine glass. A Tulip Glass is sort of a taller version of a Bordeaux glass, with a narrower mouth. This wine glass is perfect for your sparkling wines and Champagnes because the narrow mouth prevents the bubbles from escaping and keeps the bubbly, bubbly. The typical Flute glass that you’re probably most familiar with as a Champagne glass is very tall and thin, however, some flute glasses flare out at the mouth making them less than ideal for sparkling wines because they allow the bubbles to escape too easily and will flatten quickly.
continued

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

63

Why Select a Certain Glass for a Particular Wine?

The thickness of your stemware should always remain thin and without a lip at the mouth. This allows the wine to tip into your mouth easily without having to suck it in. The reason for this is if you allow the wine to fall into your mouth without effort your nose will breathe in the aromas. If there is a lip around the wine glass, it forces you to suck the wine into your mouth, forcing the air down your throat, and not letting your nose enjoy the aromas. Go ahead, impress your friends with that little fact! A thin wine glass also lets you see the rich colors of the wine you are drinking. It’s also best to use a wine glass that is clear rather than etched or colored in order to fully see the wine inside. Another important thing to note about your stemware is the stem itself. It’s best to use a wine glass that has a long enough stem that will prevent you from touching the bowl. The heat rising from your hand can actually change the taste of the wine, so it’s best to hold the wine glass near the footed base while grasping onto the stem. As far as price goes, stemware can really run the gamut. Most inexpensive wine glasses ($3-$5) that you can get at most local retailers will be fine for your general usage, just pay attention to the size, shape, and thickness as mentioned above. Of course, if you really want to impress the neighbors, you can buy very expensive, specifically designed stemware, such as those offered by Riedel Glassware, that can cost $25 or more, but that’s probably not necessary for your occasional or everyday wine use. Remember, in Italy most restaurants serve their wine in a tumbler, so even the occasional juice plastic wine glass is acceptable under certain circumstances.

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

64

Serve the Finest Wine in Finest Crystal
Serving the finest wine in the finest crystal is considered is like taking the best and making it better. Many wine experts almost consider it an insult to serve a high quality wine in anything but a high quality crystal glass. Those who know a lot about wine agree that fine crystal has a way of making a fine wine look, smell, and taste better than another other types of glass. So, if you’re interested in putting this theory to the test, you’ll want to follow these few simple tips when shopping for your fine crystal. Introduced in the late 1700s by the French, crystal wine glasses have always been considered the most prized of all the types of stemware you could own. Crystal has remained a beloved staple in most family china cabinets that has been passed down through the generations. During the 1950s, Reidel Crystal developed a series of crystal wine glass designs that were specifically created for every type of wine variant and today remains one of the most sought after wine glass makers in the business. When choosing crystal glasses for wine service, it’s best to use a plain, colorless glass. You want to be able to see the unique colors of the wine you’re tasting and having a clear view of the wine that doesn’t have tinting or etchings to distort the view is best. The aromas that are released from the wines need to be captured by the nose when tasting the wine, so choosing a crystal wine glass that has a wide bowl and tapered mouth is ideal. This shape gives you plenty of room to swirl the wine without spilling it and directs the aromas to the nose as the wine slips out of the glass and onto the tongue. Red wines are generally best served in larger bowl shaped crystal glasses and white wines in medium sized tulip shaped glasses. Sparkling wine crystal flutes should be tall and thin with a slightly tapered rim as well to prevent the bubbles from escaping too quickly. Setting your table with your fine crystal glasses will be an impressive sight for your guests, but you want to make sure you place them on the table properly. Your crystal wine glasses should be placed from right to left in the order they will be served throughout the meal. This means your white wine crystal will be place first to be served before dinner. Red wine crystal will be placed next to be served during the meal. And sparkling or aperitif crystal will be placed last to be served with dessert. Choosing the right crystal wine glass can enhance your wine drinking experience by making the wine look, smell, and taste even better than it would in a regular wine glass. So, make sure you pair the right fine wine with the right crystal glass and you’ll be sure to impress your family and friends the next time you have them over for dinner.

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

65

Washing Stemware and Wine Glasses
You’ve just finished your first successful wine tasting party and your guests have all left. As you revel in your superior party-throwing skills, you look around and see nothing but empty wine glasses with that little pool of leftover wine inside. What should you do next? First of all, it’s best to wash your wine glasses immediately after use. So, what’s the proper way to wash your precious stemware anyway? Whether you have fine, expensive crystal or inexpensive everyday stemware, you should follow a few simple steps to properly care for your wine glasses. The best thing to do is to wash your stemware by hand. Detergents and soaps can leave behind filmy residues that will affect the smell and taste of your next glass of Bordeaux. If you must use liquid dish soap, make sure it is very mild with no added scents, like lemon. Use a drop of soap in each wine glass and clean with either your fingers or a new sponge. Sponges are generally the dirtiest thing in the kitchen, so don’t use one that you just used to clean up that spilled chicken broth with. Instead of soap, you might try using baking or washing soda. These products won’t leave a nasty film inside your wine glasses. Washing soda can be found in the detergent section of your local market, but make sure they don’t have any scents either. No matter what you choose to clean your wine glasses with, make sure you rinse them thoroughly several times in hot water. Of course, if you prefer not using detergents at all to ensure that your stemware is never sullied by the presence of cleaning products, you can simply rinse your wine glasses out with plain hot water. Just make sure that you rinse them out over and over again before drying. If caked on wine has dried at the bottom of your wine glasses, simply fill them with hot water and let them sit for a while to loosen the residue, then rinse them out thoroughly. When drying your stemware you can either air dry them or dry them by hand. Some say that air drying allows impurities from the water to collect on the sides of the wine glass, whereas others say that drying them by hand can leave behind particles from the towel. If you air dry, just make sure that you turn the glasses upside-down and place them on a dry, clean towel. You might also want to dry the bottom of the stem prior to turning it upside-down so the water doesn’t pool and leave a stain. If you hand dry, make sure you use a soft, dry, clean, lint-free towel. Hold the stem of the wine glass and dry the foot first, then the outside of the bowl, and finally the inside. Be careful not to break the wine glass by forcing your hand inside the bowl. It’s not generally recommended that you use the dishwasher to clean your crystal or even your cheap wine glasses. Dishwasher detergents are very harsh and the violent agitation inside the dishwasher can chip or break your stemware as they rattle against each other. However, if you simply must use the dishwasher, try using less detergent than normal and don’t wash
continued

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

66

Washing Stemware and Wine Glasses them with your greasy pots and pans. Avoid using the heat dry option so that residual detergent doesn’t “bake” onto your wine glasses. It’s best to remove the wine glasses just after the cycle is complete and hand dry them. If you own fine crystal you must take extra care to keep them in proper condition. Crystal is more porous than your regular glassware and can absorb all sorts of tastes and odors. Whether it’s soap, detergent, chlorine, or even coffee aromas from a shared kitchen cabinet, crystal absolutely must be hand washed. If you really want to be sure your crystal stays clean and taste-free, try washing or rinsing them with distilled water rather than regular tap water. For heavy stains that might build up in your wine glasses over time from heavy red wine use, you can try using a denture cleaner tablet every once in awhile to remove those stubborn stains. Just remember to rinse them thoroughly with hot water afterwards. Taking these simple steps to clean your stemware properly will give you years of enjoyment without having to buy a new set of wine glasses every year.

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

67

Choosing a Corkscrew – So Many Choices, So Many Prices, So Much Hype
So we just selected the perfect wine, bought it on-line, and had it delivered. We sat down to enjoy it and realized the top doesn’t unscrew. It’s back to basics - what must one do to select and buy a corkscrew – and why must it be so difficult? The notion of a corkscrew is simple; remove the cork from the bottle of wine. It’s the necessary wine accessory. But with most everyday mechanical devices, you name it – can opener, cheese grater, screwdriver - someone is always trying to improve what may already be the perfect ‘mouse trap’. In this case, improvements have come in the form of technologically improved materials, sleek engineering designs, and even a trend toward nostalgia (albeit with expensive materials). Originally termed bottle-screws, corkscrews were an English invention from the mid-1600’s. Generally T-shaped, and made from nearly every conceivable material, these devices relied on two things; 1) get the screw in the middle of the cork, and 2) pull like crazy. Hopefully, the cork came out of the wine bottle in one piece – or not. The first lever-style corkscrew was invented by a German civil engineer (and apparent wine lover) in 1883 and is the basis of the waiter’s corkscrew still found today in almost every restaurant. One of the most popular corkscrew designs to buy in the modern age is the Screwpull, invented in 1979 by an oil field engineer. Most designs rely on the central helix screw to pierce the cork and provide a basis for leverage upon removal. The helix design is critical because as the needle point spirals down through the cork, the remainder of the helix follows the same path, thus minimizing damage to the cork. Another common design still in existence today is the rabbit-ear corkscrew that utilizes a solid, central shaft screw that plows through the center (hopefully) of the cork, which may actually tear apart the structure of the cork and cause bits of cork to drop into the wine bottle and potentially split and destroy the cork. Not a pretty sight. You can literally spend as little or as much as you like when you select and buy a corkscrew. You can choose exotic designs and materials, and those that are all the rage. But the purpose of the corkscrew is simple – get the cork out of the bottle as efficiently as possible and with minimal cork destruction.
continued

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

68

Choosing a Corkscrew – So Many Choices, So Many Prices, So Much Hype We have tested all of the cork removal devices that we list in this article and commented where appropriate. All of our picks work to remove the cork well. Choosing a corkscrew is based on personal preference, but of course, we’ll tell you what’s our favorite. Read on …… LAGUIOLE TORTOISE CORKSCREW A great looking waiter’s corkscrew with the look of real tortoise shell on the handle. Works well, but when you buy, you’ll see it’s at the upper range of the price scale. METROKANE RABBIT 6-PIECE CORKSCREW KIT One of the newest style of corkscrews that require a minimum of effort to operate. The Teflon helix screw glides easily into the cork and extraction is effortless. One of the drawbacks is that some bottles today have a wax/polymer seal instead of a fitted neck band. Repeated use can ‘gum up’ the Teflon coating and must be cleaned periodically. CORK JET PUMP STYLE CORKSCREW While not a screw-type device the pump-style cork extractor relies on a small pressurized canister of inert gas passing through a thin hollow needle inserted into the cork. There is inconsequential cork damage and the cork glides out of the bottle with an ear pleasing pop. It’s a good corkscrew to choose if you feel many corks are stronger than you. While it’s typical to get about 80 cork removals per canister, that also means you don’t know if you’re on bottle 75 or pushing the envelope on bottle 85 - so you’ll buy some spare canisters and keep them around. If you have children, you’ll need to secure it out their reach as it could be dangerous in little hands. (Editors note: There have been reports that bottles have been broken by this type of device when the cork is strongly embedded and there were glass impurities.) PULLTAP DOUBLE HINGED WAITER STYLE CORKSCREW We chose this simple but highly effective corkscrew as our “buy favorite”. Its price is not a budget buster and it has the features necessary to facilitate ease of use. The Teflon coated screw is needle sharp and a breeze to insert into the cork with no damage. The double hinged lever allows the cork to be extracted in manageable increments to prevent bending the cork when close to removal. Overall, this corkscrew may be ‘old school’, but great designs usually last the test of time.

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

69

Why Decant Wine and How to Do It
Many people ask me, “Why decant wine?” There are two primary reasons why it is good to decant a wine - aeration and sediment removal. Many red wines, some white wines, and Vintage Ports will benefit from aeration in order to soften the hard tannins that remain in the wine. Tannins are simply the naturally occurring chemical compounds that exist in grape skins, seeds, and stems. These compounds also exist in oak barrels and can release their tannins into the wines that are stored in them. Red wines are more tannic than white wines because red grapes have higher levels of tannins and are fermented with the skins intact. This process can leave a strong, bitter taste in some red wines. Some white wines also have a perceptible tannic taste, such as a fullbodied white Burgundy or white Bordeaux, that came from the oak barrels they fermented in. Vintage Ports, as well, have very high levels of tannin, so it is always recommended that you aerate them in order to release their harsh tannic taste. When decanting a wine, all you need is a glass container that can hold an entire bottle of wine. While there are certainly some very expensive decanters available, an inexpensive, wide-mouthed glass carafe will do. Most decanters have a wider base or neck in order to allow more air to come in contact with the surface of the wine. You can also aerate the wine by pouring it into several large wine glasses. Simply leaving it in the bottle with the cork off doesn’t allow enough air to mix with the wine because the neck of the bottle is too small. With more and more technology working itself into the wine industry, there are new alternative decanting products to make the process even easier. When decanting wine for aeration, gently pour the wine into the decanter and let it breathe in order to reveal a better, softer taste. The length of time needed to soften a wine’s tannic taste depends on what type of wine it is. Younger tannic red wines, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Bordeaux, or Italian Barolo, should aerate for about an hour. Very old wines should only aerate for about 10-15 minutes because too much air circulation will begin to deteriorate the flavors of the wine. White tannic wines only need about thirty minutes of aeration to improve their taste. Some older red wines and Vintage Ports need to be decanted in order to remove sediment from the drinkable wine. While there’s nothing wrong with drinking this sediment, it just
continued

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

70

Why Decant Wine and How to Do It looks bad sitting at the bottom of your glass and tastes chunky when on your tongue. Sediment develops as wine ages, after eight to ten years, as tannins and other materials solidify over time. When decanting wine to remove sediment, set the bottle upright for one to two days so the sediment settles at the bottom. Vintage Ports may require standing for several days before decanting due to the large amounts of sediment that exists. Place a candle or lamp under the wine bottle in order to see the sediment inside. Pour the wine slowly into the decanter until the cloudy sediment reaches the neck of the bottle and stop pouring just before it spills out. In addition to decanting for sediment removal, Vintage Ports will also need to aerate for up to eight hours in order to soften its tannic taste. Remember, most red wines don’t need decanting, such as Beaujolais, Burgundies, and Pinot Noirs. In addition, very inexpensive wines and all other ports do not require decanting. These contain lower levels of tannins and won’t really benefit from decanting.

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

71

Vinturi Essential Wine Aerator Unlocks the Complexities of Your Wine
At 100BestWines.com, we are constantly on the lookout for ways to enhance and improve the enjoyment of wine – from finding the best bottle of affordable zinfandel, to in this case, discovering a simple yet effective invention that rapidly improves the taste of wine without years of aging or hours of decanting. We recently purchased online this unique item to test through one of our retail partners Wine Enthusiast. Hailed as a means to quickly aerate any wine into either a glass or decanter, this unique tool enables wine to “open up” and reveal the bouquet, mouthfeel and taste in much less time than it would take by either just uncorking the bottle or decanting normally. When we received the Vinturi it was quickly apparent that substantial design and engineering went into the concept of this patent pending wine accessory. Simply put, because of a design that speeds up the fluid flow, as the wine moves through the Vinturi, a low pressure condition is created that allows air from two adjacent holes to be ‘sucked into’ the wine stream, all without the aid of a pump or any external device.

Who could have imagined that our old friend Bernoulli’s principle would one day affect how we drink wine. His formula laid the groundwork for the initial design, but old fashioned hard work was required to determine just the right fluid flow, air inlet size and placement. Truly unique! After marveling at the sleek and beautiful design, we put it to the test. We performed a
continued

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

72

Vinturi Essential Wine Aerator Unlocks the Complexities of Your Wine blind tasting of an un-decanted, somewhat young cabernet sauvignon from the glass and bottle, standard decanting with and without an ordinary funnel, and then aeration using the Vinturi into both a glass and a decanter. The results were as claimed. The large molecule esters were enhanced, providing a broader bouquet without the normal ‘intensity’ of alcohol vapors. The quick aeration provided a more velvety mouthfeel that lingered longer on the tongue to release more subtle flavors. And lastly, we noticed a pronounced difference in the finish with a softening of tannins and release of some of the usually present volatiles. 100BestWines highly recommends this product and every wine lover should own one! Check out our guide to buying wine accessories and join our mailing list to receive our free wine and food-pairing tips.

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

73

Don’t Waste an Open Bottle — Use Wine Vacuum Storage
Recently, I purchased a new and revolutionary wine accessory that enables you to not only decant your wine to enhance flavors and aromas, but then allows you to preserve the remaining wine for you to enjoy later. The V-1 Decanter by Metrokane is the world’s first wine vacuum storage decanter designed by Ed Kilduff of Pollen Design. I purchased the V-1 from Wine Enthusiast. The uniquely designed wine storage decanter, inspired by the shape of NASA’s Apollo Command Module, is individually hand-blown from crystalline quartz and is lead-free. The secret to this wine preservation marvel is the Vacuum Stopper that contains an analog gauge that visually shows when the proper amount of vacuum has been achieved, while using the manual pump to remove air from the decanter preventing over oxidation and ruining the remaining wine. The process is so simple: 1. Insert the Vacuum Stopper into the decanter. There’s no need to exert a lot of pressure when putting it in the decanter. (Please note: Never use the vacuum stopper in any decanter other than the V-1), 2. Place the manual vacuum pump on the stopper, 3. Remove the air from the decanter using the pump until the Vacuum Gauge reaches the “red zone”.

continued

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

74

Don’t Waste an Open Bottle — Use Wine Vacuum Storage I tested the V-1 under several conditions and found it to perform unfailingly. First, I decanted a beautiful bottle of superior Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon that I’d previously enjoyed. After tasting the decanted wine I followed the simple vacuum procedures and left the decanter in a cool, dimly lit place. Every day I checked the vacuum gauge to be certain a good seal was being maintained (it didn’t move a bit). After five days I released the vacuum seal and tasted the wine again. There was no discernable difference in the quality of the wine. The decanting had done its job of aerating to improve the wine’s character and the vacuum seal had prevented the damaging effects of over oxidation. On subsequent tests I even set the vacuum sealed decanter aside for 10 days only to find that the wine was just as wonderful as when I first uncorked it. I could not be more pleased with how this unique wine decanter performed. With this wine accessory, you don’t have to feel guilty uncorking a great bottle of wine expecting to either drink the entire bottle or allow the remaining wine to be wasted from over oxidation. Check out our guide to buying wine accessories online and join our mailing list to receive our free wine and food-pairing tips.

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

75

6
Storing Wine

The Proper Way to Store Wine
Each bottle of wine is like a delicate flower and requires extra special care if you want it to bloom properly. This is especially true when it comes to storing your wine. While many people store their wine in a pantry, cabinet, or the refrigerator, these are not generally the ideal locations for wine to grow and thrive. Since most of us aren’t lucky enough to own a wine cellar, there are other less expensive methods for storing your wine properly. The most important things to remember about storing wine are temperature, light, humidity, and movement. Keeping your wine at a constant temperature is probably the most important factor in storing your wine properly. The most ideal temperature for storing wine is 50-55ºF. Wine stored at approximately this temperature will not age as quickly as those kept at a warmer temperature. Fluctuating temperatures are even worse for wine storage, so never keep your wine near a heating vent, air conditioning unit, or oven. While most people don’t keep their homes at 50-55ºF, you can find places that are cooler and have fewer fluctuations, like an insulated basement, a cabinet under the stairs, or even an empty fireplace. If you do choose to store your wine in one of these spaces, keep them in a wooden box or even wrap them up in a blanket for insulation. You should never keep your wine in the kitchen, garage, or attic because these areas tend to have drastic temperature changes over the course of a year. One of the biggest dangers to your stored wine is light exposure. Ultraviolet light can travel through the bottle and change the chemical balance inside the wine. This is why it is absolutely essential that your wine storage area is completely free from sunlight. There are no windows in wine cellars for a reason! Even if you can’t find a room that is entirely free from sunlight, you can at least protect the bottles by placing them inside a box, drawer, or cabinet. Humidity control is often overlooked when it comes to wine storage. Humidity is your cork’s biggest enemy. Drier air will cause a cork to dry out and let air into the wine bottle. When this happens, your wine doesn’t stand a chance. Humidity levels should ideally be kept at around 60-70 percent. However, this may be difficult to achieve if you don’t have a room dedicated to wine storage. Underground basements are probably the moistest part of the house, but don’t forget that you have to be concerned with temperature fluctuations as well, so just make sure you find a place in your home that is not too dry. Wine is also very sensitive to movement and vibration. You should never, ever store your wine on top of a refrigerator or any other appliance that that moves or shakes. Even keeping a bottle of wine inside the refrigerator for more than a week can damage the wine. Not only does the vibration of the refrigerator motor disturb the wine, it is also too cold of an environment for wine to be stored long-term. Agitating the wine inside the bottle too much will kill the wine way before its time. Of course, the best choice for storing your wine is to purchase a wine rack, wine cooler, or a wine cellar. Wine bottles should always be kept lying on their sides or upside-down in order
continued

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

77

The Proper Way to Store Wine to keep their corks moist. Owning a wine rack will allow you to do this, plus it keeps your wine well-organized and more easily accessible. No matter what you ultimately choose to do with your wine collection, just try keeping it in the least harmful conditions as possible. After all, unless you’re buying very expensive or rare bottles of wine, you’ll probably want to open them within six months to a year to drink them rather than just looking at them sitting there. Remember, there’s no better time to uncork a bottle of wine than now.

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

78

Key Components to a Wine Cellar
Okay, you’ve caught the wine bug and you’re ready to actually do it…you’re going to invest in a wine cellar. We’ve all dreamt of it, rows and rows of finely aged wine that you’ve carefully hand selected, all surrounding you like a warm, comfortable blanket. Ah, nothing spells success like having your own wine cellar! So, what are the main components to building such a luxurious addition to your home? Whether you do it yourself, or buy a manufactured system, it all comes down to a few key items. ORGANIZATION Your wine cellar will need to have plenty of shelving and racking space in order to hold your wine collection. The preferred method of storing wine is on its side or upsidedown. The reason for this is because the wine inside the bottle should be touching the cork to prevent it from drying out. Wine corks that dry out tend to shrink over time and will allow air to enter the bottle, causing oxidation, which will ruin your wine very quickly. To keep your bottles perfectly organized, you can purchase color coded wine bottle tags that hang from the necks that will allow you to identify what kind of wine is inside or even which ones are ready to drink and which ones need more aging. LIGHT As you have no doubt noticed before, wine cellars are usually quite dark. This isn’t just to make them seem more romantic or mysterious, but to keep the wine protected from sunlight or other ultraviolet light sources. Even the darkest bottles will allow light inside, so you’ll want to keep your collection protected from these damaging rays. Fluorescent lights can also damage your wine, so choose only incandescent or sodium vapor type bulbs for your wine cellar. TEMPERATURE Controlling the temperature in your wine cellar is probably the single most important thing you need to be concerned with when it comes to wine storage…cellar or not. Ideally, wine should be stored at around 50-55ºF. This prevents the wine from aging too quickly or losing its flavor, character, and depth. The most important aspect of temperature control is consistency. You want to make sure your wine cellar is keeping a constant temperature throughout the day and over the years. Fluctuating temperatures can cause corks to shrink or swell and will negatively change the chemical balance of the wine inside the bottle. HUMIDITY Humidity is often overlooked when storing wine, but it is a very important element. Keeping the air humid, or moist, in your cellar keeps corks pliable and won’t let them dry out. Humidity
continued

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

79

Key Components to a Wine Cellar should be kept at around 60 to 70 percent. A hygrometer can be purchased to easily monitor the humidity levels, as well as the temperature conditions of your wine cellar. Many people don’t like the idea of keeping their cellars so humid because it can damage the labels and produce mold. One thing you can do to protect your labels is to keep the bottles inside cardboard sleeves on the racks. You can also spray the labels with hair spray or lacquer to keep them from peeling off. Other things to avoid are unnecessary vibrations and overwhelming odors. You should never store your wine on or near anything that vibrates, like a refrigerator or generator. So, keep your cellar as movement-free as possible. Another thing to consider is strong odors. Because wine corks are porous, odors can easily seep inside the bottle. Things like detergent, motor oil, paint, or coffee can damage your perfectly conditioned cellar. So, avoid the urge to store things other than your precious wine collection inside your wine cellar.

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

80

What Are the Different Kinds of Wine Racks?
When searching for the right wine rack, it seems as if there are just as many kinds of racks as there are wines themselves. You can stand them on the floor, hang them from the wall, suspend them from the ceiling, or stack them on the table. It can be a daunting task to find out what kind of wine rack is right for you. The first thing you should probably consider when choosing a wine rack is how many bottles of wine you might want to store at one time, as well as how much you want to spend on it. If you only keep a couple of bottles or wine around the house for impromptu parties, you probably don’t want to invest in a five hundred dollar wine rack system that holds two hundred bottles of wine. If you have become a connoisseur and collector, you might even want to consider designing a cellar. Regardless, there are many options in many styles to consider. A small table top wine rack that holds three to twelve bottles of wine might be a good place to start. These small, easy to carry wine racks can fit just about anywhere from the kitchen countertop to a side table in your dining room. These wine racks can be made out of everything from wood to metal to acrylic to leather. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes and are usually decorative, making your small wine collection look quite impressive. Many small wine racks also come in wall or ceiling mounted designs as well. They often include places to hang your wine glasses, corkscrews, and towels from. Hanging wine racks can be mounted just about anywhere, from under a cabinet to the corner of your living room. If you’re looking to keep more serious amounts of wine in your wine rack, say a couple of dozen or so, you probably want to consider a floor standing wine rack. Floor standing wine racks allow you to easily keep, display, and find your wine without having to dedicate an entire room to it. Most of these medium sized wine racks are made out metal or wood and can be as simple or as fancy as you want them to be. One of the more interesting looking wine racks you can get is a riddling wine board. This wooden board leans at an angle and allows you to place multiple bottles of wine neck first into the small holes that are carved into the wine board. If nothing else, it’s a conversation starter. Now, if you really want to store some massive amounts of wine, perhaps one or two hundred bottles, you’ll definitely want to invest in a wine racking system or kit. Most of these wine racking systems are made out of redwood or pine and come in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, and styles. Many of these systems come in mix and match pieces that allow you to add-on to your wine rack as your wine collection increases. Another popular choice is the diamond-shaped cube box wine racks. These wooden boxcontinued

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

81

What Are the Different Kinds of Wine Racks? es usually hold around 24 wine bottles each and are stackable. The great thing about these boxes is that you can start out with just one and add to them one box at a time as your wine obsession grows. Wine racks can range in price from twenty dollars to one thousand dollars or more, so there is literally no limit to how small or how large your wine collection can be. The only thing that really matters is that you take care of your wine so it will take care of you when you finally uncork the bottle. So, choose wisely and have fun picking the best kind of wine rack for your particular wine collecting needs.

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

82

Tips for Buying the Perfect Wine Rack
While much of a wine’s flavors and aromas are developed prior to its bottling, most fine wines are constantly changing and evolving as they mature inside the bottle over time. However, this maturation process can make a good wine even better or ultimately ruin it depending on whether it’s stored properly or not. This fine line between greatness and failure can all come down to the type of wine rack you use to store your fine wines. So, it’s essential that you consider a few important facts before choosing your wine rack. When searching for a wine rack, there are a variety of different materials that you can choose from. Wine racks can be made from wood, glass, metal, plastic, or a mixture of materials. It doesn’t really matter which material you choose, but it needs to be sturdy and well made in order to prevent it from breaking or shaking excessively because too much movement can damage the wine inside the bottles over time. You’ll probably want to choose a material that goes best with your décor, so just make sure it’s a good quality rack no matter what it’s made from. Probably the most important thing you need to consider when choosing your wine rack is where to put it. Wine does best when it is stored in an area that maintains a constant wine-friendly environment. This includes exposing the wine to a minimal amount of light, creating the proper humidity and temperature levels, as well as keeping the wine from moving as little as possible. If you can’t find a place in your home that can fulfill these requirements, you might want to consider a cabinet wine rack. These racks protect your stored wine and provide an environment that is similar in nature to a wine cellar. Maintaining the proper conditions for your wine storage is important if you want your wine collection to last. If the temperature is kept too high, your wine may age more rapidly than it should. Most wines store well at around 55-60ºF, but more importantly your wine needs to avoid drastic temperature changes throughout the entire year. If you live in a warmer climate, you want to make sure your wine is kept in an area that will not get too warm or else your wine will cook inside the bottle. This is a sure way to ruin any good bottle of wine. Humidity control is another important factor to consider when choosing the location of your wine rack system. If the humidity is not kept just right, the corks can dry out and shrink away from the sides of the neck, allowing moisture inside the bottles which will ultimately contaminate the wine inside. In order to avoid this situation, a humidity level of 50-70% is generally acceptable, depending on the types of wine you’re storing mixed with the temperature settings. Light and movement are also things to consider when storing your wine in your wine rack. Exposure to too much ultraviolet light can spoil your wine, so you should never leave your wine
continued

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

83

Tips for Buying the Perfect Wine Rack sitting out near a window or other light sources for any extended period of time. Vibration can also ruin your wine over time, so you should never keep your wine rack on or near a refrigerator or other appliances that may cause your wine to shake. While wine racks are a good way to store wine, you may want to consider purchasing a wine cooler if you can’t find an area in your home that allows your wine to mature in the proper conditions it needs to remain healthy. However, if you do find an area that can keep your wine properly chilled, humidified, and protected from light and movement, a wine rack is a perfect and affordable way to begin collecting your wine like a pro.

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

84

How to Design and Assemble Your Wine Rack System
No matter how big or how small of a wine rack system you want to build, you can easily do so with proper planning and organization. Wooden wine racking systems are easy to design and can be configured to any size or shaped room. They are simple to assemble and can be added-on to as your wine collection grows over the years. The first thing you want to decide is how many bottles you plan to store in your wine rack system. This will help in determining how many rows and columns you will need for your assembled wine rack. For instance, if you’re looking to store 36 bottles of wine, you can choose a wine rack configuration that has 12 rows and 3 columns, 9 rows and 4 columns, or 6 rows and 6 columns. Single access racks hold one bottle per rack space depth and measure approximately 10-13 inches deep, depending on which racking system you buy. So, regardless of the size and shape of the space you are designing your wine storage for, a wine racking system can easily accommodate it. Another thing you need to consider is the size of the bottles you’re planning on collecting and storing. Wine bottles come in regular 750ml size or magnum size. This can make a big difference in what type of wine racking system you choose. Many of them come in a variety of sizes and can be built to accommodate varying bottle styles. Additional diamond-shaped storage bins can also be added to your wine racking system which will easily hold an additional 100 bottles of wine in even less space than the individual racks. For larger areas, like a wine cellar, you might want to purchase a wine rack system that can sit in the middle of the room and can be accessed from both sides. These double-sided racks can hold two bottles of wine for each rack space depth. You can also purchase front loading racks that are twice as deep and allow you to hold two bottles of wine for each rack space depth, while still being able to place it against the wall.

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

85

How to Design and Assemble Your Wine Rack System Wooden wine racks can be configured in a variety of attractive, decorative ways. This can include a cascading waterfall look, a curved corner design, freestanding islands, wooden case storage, and can even accommodate wine coolers, tasting tables, and wine glass racks. You can design your rack to be as simple or ornate as you like by choosing from a variety of different hardwood styles, such as redwood, maple, or pine. Additional decorative moldings, arches, and other features can also be added. When measuring for your wine racking system, make sure you accurately determine the length and height of the area you want to use, especially if it’s a small, confined space. Also, don’t forget to consider how a door may interfere with your wine rack, particularly if it swings into the room you’ll be using. If you’re trying to fit your wine racking system into a space as tightly as possible, make sure you measure at various points along the wall and ceiling. Most walls and ceilings are not perfectly square, so you’ll want to use the lowest measurements you find so the rack will fit inside the space. If you need to add humidity or cooling devices to the area, make sure you allow for these items in the space you’re creating for your wine rack system. Finally, make note of any ceiling ducts, beams, or trim that may interfere with your wine rack assembly.

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

86

Why Use a Wine Cooler?
Because most of us are not lucky or rich enough to own a wine cellar, the next best thing is to own a wine cooler. Wine can be a temperamental friend and it requires proper care and handling if you expect it to be good to you. Therefore, storing your wine in a wine cooler is a wonderful way to keep your wine in prime condition, ready for the time you’ll choose to enjoy the next bottle. Most casual wine drinkers store their wine bottles in the refrigerator, the pantry, or a small wine rack sitting out on the kitchen counter. These are in no way the ideal places to store wine for more than a couple of days. A wine cooler can be an affordable and space saving appliance to buy in order to keep your wine well cared for. The things that can damage wine the most are temperature, humidity, light, and vibration. A wine cooler can easily prevent and control these dangers to wine. A good wine cooler will properly maintain the optimal temperature and humidity that is necessary in keeping wine healthy. Many coolers come with digital displays that can easily be adjusted. Some wine coolers are divided in order to allow you to store both white wines and red wines at their optimal settings. More expensive models even have the ability to read a wine bottle’s bar code and will automatically adjust its settings for that wine’s particular storage needs. Keeping your wine in a wine cooler can also protect it from harmful ultraviolet lights. Sunlight and fluorescent light can easily damage your wine in a short period of time, even through the darkest bottles. This can easily be remedied by storing your wine bottles in a wine cooler. While some wine coolers have glass doors for easy viewing of the wine inside, it’s actually better to have one with solid doors. If you do choose to use one that has glass doors, make sure they are coated with an ultraviolet light protector. You should never keep your wine in, near, or on top of your kitchen refrigerator, or any other vibrating appliance for that matter. The refrigerator’s motor causes too much vibration for your bottles of wine and can diminish their qualities quickly. While a wine cooler also uses a motor in order to cool the wine inside, a quality wine cooler will have either rubber coated racks to minimize these vibrations or rubber mounted compressors that completely eliminate damaging vibrations. Another thing to consider when deciding to buy a wine cooler is space. If you have 20, 50, or 100 bottles of wine in a traditional wine rack, it can take up significant space in your home and may not be as properly protected from damaging elements as it could be. Investing in a quality wine cooler takes up less space than most appliances and provides your wine the temperature, humidity, and light control that it needs to thrive. So, why choose a wine cooler? Because it’s the smart thing to do and your wine will thank you for it later.

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

87

How Big Should Your Wine Cooler Be?
When choosing a wine cooler for your growing wine collection, the size of the cooler you choose is an important factor to consider before you buy one. Wine coolers can range in size from twelve bottle capacity to a hundred bottles or more. The first thing you need to decide is how many bottles of wine you think you might be storing in the wine cooler. If you’re just an occasional wine drinker and want to keep a couple of bottles around for those special dinners and guests, you’ll probably just need to buy a small twelve bottle wine cooler. This will allow you to properly store your occasional use wines in a ready to serve state. If you want to start more of a collection of wine, you’ll want to buy a wine cooler that holds more than what you would generally use yourself. Considering a wine cooler that holds around 24-50 bottles of wine is a good place to start. Decide how many bottles you want to keep in your wine collection and double that number. So, if you’re thinking you want to keep around 25 bottles at a time you’ll want to buy a 50 bottle capacity wine cooler. This is due to the fact that your wine collection will most likely grow past your initial estimate and you’ll want to have plenty of room for them when it does. The things to look for in a good wine cooler are reliable temperature and humidity controls, quality insulation and shelving racks, ultraviolet light protection, and minimized vibration. Consistency in temperature and humidity is very important when storing wine, so being able to monitor these levels is essential. Digital controls and readouts can make this much easier for you. The interior of the wine cooler should be well insulated and made of aluminum, rather than plastic, because aluminum conducts warm and cool air more effectively. The shelving racks inside the wine cooler should ideally be made of wood, rather than wire, and should roll out for easier accessibility to the bottles of wine inside. While you may want to gaze for hours on end at your wine collection through the glass doors of your cooler, it’s actually better to have one that has solid doors. This keeps the harmful UV rays that can damage your wine far away from the bottles inside. If you simply must have glass doors, at least get ones that are coated with a UV protector. Vibration is a huge concern when it comes to purchasing a quality wine cooler. It’s not a good idea to keep your wine collection in a regular refrigerator because the vibration from the
continued

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

88

How Big Should Your Wine Cooler Be? motor can damage the wine. While wine coolers also have motors, they generally have added protection to prevent the wine from feeling the effects of the vibration. Things to look for are rubber coated racks that minimize vibrations or rubber mounted compressors that eliminate shaking altogether and keeps your wine protected. Of course, if you’re going to invest in a wine cooler that holds a hundred bottles or more, you definitely want to look for the more reputable, higher quality models that are available. Most of these larger models are smaller than your average refrigerator, so finding space for one will not be too difficult in most homes or even apartments. So, whether you’re just starting out small with a dozen bottles or want to always have a hundred bottles to choose from at any given time, your wine cooler needs can easily be met.

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

89

7
Personalizing Wine

Personalized Wines - The Ultimate, Unique Expression of Caring and Connection
Wine is always an appropriate and wonderful gift for almost any occasion, regardless of labeling. Whether it’s an informal gathering of friends, a gift for a corporate event or banquet, or a grand and memorable ball thrown for a wedding or other gala - red wine, white wine, champagne, or sparkling wine are all excellent choices. However, with just a little effort, you can create a treasured and lasting memory of the event by adding a personal touch to those wine or other gift items. Your care and thoughtfulness will be appreciated by your guests and they will surely mention it to their friends or associates. A couple of our partners will provide the kind of stress-free help you’ll need to get started. You’ll be directed through a few easy steps; selecting an appropriate wine, champagne, or sparkling wine, determining just the right kind of label, and lastly, adding the text, picture, or special graphic that will complete your personalization. In addition, our partners, including one of our private label wineries such as Personal Wine, carry a plethora of wine related accessories that can be included with your personalized wine gift. Accessories that can be personalized include corkscrews, wine bottle drip rings, etched glasses and decanters, special coasters, recipes that include the wine gift, and gift baskets. You’ll be proud to offer these often inexpensive yet sophisticated gifts for which you’ll be remembered for years to come.

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

91

Personalized Wines for Our Big Day Or “How Our Guests Never Forgot Our Wedding”
Wine, champagne, or sparkling wine bottles that have been personalized for your wedding day are an ideal solution for newlyweds hoping to create a unique, spectacular, and memorable experience - guaranteed to establish an incredibly romantic scene for the long-awaited wedding reception. Incorrectly perceived as giving the impression that you’ve gone ‘over-the-top’ for your reception, offering personalized bottles of wine to your guests can be quite reasonable and inexpensive – and require a minimum of effort to create. Your personalized expression can be utilized in many ways to establish the atmosphere for an elegant and romantic wedding reception. Tables can be adorned with the personalized bottles ready to pour for those special toasts to the new couple. Instead, you may wish to present your guests with personalized splits, or mini-bottles, enscribed with your special message of thanks to each guest. Your guests are sure to appreciate this special and lasting memory. The special day is yours! Make it so in every way by adding personalized wine, champagne, or sparkling wine to your reception. As special table items, gifts to your guests or members of the wedding party personalization is unique and says you really care. Our partners will assist you in the easy process of selecting the wine, designing a special label, and completing the personalization with the proper text, photo, or graphics.

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

92

8
Wine Clubs

Wine Clubs - A Convenient Way to Know Wine
If you want to explore the world of wine, but don’t really have the time to shop for just the right selections, or to find and investigate new wines you’ve never tried before, you should take a look at the benefits of joining a wine club. Much like a “book of the month” club, a wine club does all the hard work, selecting wines that they ship to their members, either as a single bottle or a collection of choices, once every month. The number of wine clubs, such as Cellars Wine Club, have been growing as a direct result of the increased interest in wine here in the United States. Although the idea of a wine “club” may sound like an exclusive organization for the elite, that’s not the case. The “club” part is about the great benefits you get by tapping into the club’s research involved for each bottle they offer to their members. The organizers of the wine club are experts in their field, investigating vineyards, vintages and varietals on a daily basis. They look for the wines they would enjoy themselves, at prices every one of their members can afford. While a wine club is a time saver for well heeled wine aficionados, it is an excellent option for new wine drinkers just beginning their foray into enjoying wines, but who don’t really know the best way to get started. Novice or professional alike save time by having the selections shipped directly to their home, typically including an information sheet describing the reason the wine was chosen, what makes it a good choice, why the vintage is important, what food to pair it with, etc. To the beginner, this becomes a tutorial in understanding the intricacies of wine, making them aware of what to look for and evaluate as to their particular tastes. Ultimately, this will help the next time you open the wine list at your favorite restaurant and it’s time to make your selection. Wine clubs offer varying membership programs. Find one that doesn’t tie you into a longterm contract. Most wine clubs will let you choose how long you would like to commit to, with an option to renew/extend, but allow you to discontinue at any time without penalty or cost. You will typically be billed for the wines when the latest selection(s) ship or when they arrive. A good wine club will also offer you control and options with regard to the types of wines you prefer, such as if you are partial to red wine from California, prefer to have only imported Italian wines, or favor just zinfandels. Membership structures vary from one wine club to another, so be sure to shop around for the best clubs available that meet your tastes. Many times, wine club memberships offer other perks. For instance, “premium” members may be offered the option to buy more of their wine selections at discounted prices. Some clubs will also have a “Wine of the Month” option where you can realize significant savings from being a member than if you just bought the featured wine at a local store. Of course, joining a wine club is a smart move if you are a regular wine drinker -- which many more people are becoming as a result of the reports on how wine consumption offers numerous health benefits. And
continued

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

94

Wine Clubs - A Convenient Way to Know Wine don’t overlook the fact that most wine clubs today offer a gift membership program, which you can use to help with your birthday and holiday gift giving. When it comes to price, there can be a wide variance from one club to another since there is no limit to the cost of a good bottle of wine. Traditionally, the average wine club will usually run in the $30 to $100 per month range, but could be higher depending on the quality and quantity of selections. Before you commit, be sure to understand the “fine print” so you don’t discover any unexpected conditions or expenses. This typically isn’t a problem, as most wine club members report being very satisfied with their club, finding it to be a great way to learn about wine and sample some of the best vintages every month. As you now know, there are many factors to consider when choosing a wine club. But as you can now imagine, the numerous benefits are well worth it if you choose the right wine club.

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

95

9
Gifts of Wine

Order Wine as a Gift
Wine related gifts are one of the most personal, unique and appreciated, and needn’t be limited to simply the choice of a single bottle – there are many options, some of which are wine gifts that ‘keep giving’. I’ve always found that bringing fine wines to the host or hostess of a party is a classic way to provide unique gifts for wine lovers that will be enjoyed – simple for me and appreciated by them. However, many people are shy to order wine as a gift, concerned about the “risks” of either buying a bottle of wine that the recipient may not like, or even worse, liking the wine so much themselves that it gets uncorked at home before ever making it to the party! The simple solution for the latter is to buy two bottles. As for worries that your host may not like your selection, remember to select a wine that your recipient would like, not necessarily what YOUR wine favorite would be. Also, when it comes to buying a bottle of wine, you will discover many suggestions at 100 Best Wines to help mitigate your “risk” and make your choice much easier. Here are a few “sure-fire classics” you can always rely on … • Chateau Ste. Michelle Indian Wells Vineyard Chardonnay 2007 - Columbia Valley, Washington • Penfolds Thomas Hyland 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon – Australia • Domaine Chandon Blanc de Noirs - Napa Valley, California But what if you don’t have any idea whether your recipient prefers reds or whites, French or domestic? Never fear! Consider gifting wine accessories - any and every wine drinker needs to open their wine bottle and a glass to pour it into. And for the serious gift for the serious connoisseur, consider purchasing gifts for them to store their wines - a wine rack or wine refrigerator. For the individual that already has everything, consider buying wine charms for their Riedel glassware. Try the “always needed” accessories when you’re concerned about choosing at … Wine Enthusiast and Wine.com If you have plenty of lead time before your gift needs to arrive, a wonderfully unique gift is bottles of wine with personalized labels. Here is a way for your recipient to feel special and for you to convey exactly the message you want. Presenting your sister a bottle of Zinfandel whose label reads “Happy 30th Birthday”, to giving your best friend a Cabernet with “Congratulations on your Hole-in-One” on the label or watching your niece open her holiday gift and see a wonderful Chardonnay with a label of “Blessed First Christmas” – these are moments that can’t be matched.
continued

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

97

Order Wine as a Gift Check out this vineyard’s website that will put your label ideas on great wines … Personal Wine Of course, my personal favorite for the true wine lover is perhaps the most appreciated – enrolling your spouse, friend or relative in a wine club. The novice will learn that not all wine comes in a box, while the enthusiast will find new choices that they may never have considered. For you, the giver, it’s an extremely easy way to give wine, especially with the wide variety of offerings you can now find on the internet. Enrollment is quick and easy, with prices covering the full spectrum of affordability. And of course, nothing beats opening your front door to see your latest delivery of wine as a gift waiting for you, without stressing over the selections or traveling to the liquor store. Check out these websites for Wine Clubs and Gifting to deliver the wine for you … Cellars Wine Club, Wine.com, and The Wine Messenger We hope this gets you started with your wine gifting needs. Just think, if you’re really lucky, they just might be willing to share, but don’t count on it!

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

98

Creating the Perfect Wine Gift Basket
Wine gift baskets can make a great gift for just about every occasion from birthdays to weddings to housewarming parties. Handing your gift recipient or hostess a bottle of wine inside a plain bag with a single bow on it might get the job done, but placing the bottle inside a perfectly designed gift basket will get the job done right. Your friends and family will certainly be impressed when you show up at the door with a brightly colored basket filled with all sorts of tasty treats, creatively wrapped in beautiful paper, ribbons, and bows. Of course, you can select from the many wonderful options of already made gift baskets available, or you can be personal and create your own. To assemble your own, you first need to start with choosing the right wine. Even if you know little about wine, you probably know what you like, so picking something that you personally enjoy is a good place to start. You can also consult the resident wine expert in your finer wine and spirits shops to suggest a good wine to give as a gift. You might also consider placing some wines that are bottled locally that help to support your local wineries. Consider picking one red and one white wine to please all palates. Next, you’ll want to choose some wine accessories to go along with your chosen wine. A couple of nice looking glasses, perhaps even crystal, will go nicely in your wine gift basket. Red wine glasses are usually large and round in shape and white wine glasses are shorter and slimmer. If you choose a red and a white wine for the basket, a pair of red wine glasses and a pair of white wine glasses will really make the basket look special. You can also choose to add just a couple of standard, clear wine glasses that are appropriate for most wines. Dress your wine glasses up with wine charms or jewelry. Wine charms can add sparkle and fun to your wine gift basket. You can find wine charms just about anywhere these days and they come in a wide variety of different designs, shapes, and colors. They also serve as an easy way to distinguish which wine glass belongs to which wine drinker once the bottles are open. Adding gourmet foods and snacks to your basket can complete your wine gift basket and turn it into something that will both look good and taste good. Cheese and wine go together like black and white, but since most cheeses need to be refrigerated, they might not be the best choice for your wine gift basket. Unless you’re sure the gift basket will be opened in less than an hour, you might want to leave the cheese out of the gift basket and choose some other tasty treats. Elegant crackers, gourmet popcorns, and fancy nuts are a wonderful addition to any wine gift basket. Expensive gourmet chocolates are another great choice for your basket. Wine and fine chocolates go well together and your gift recipient will certainly enjoy every delicious sip and bite. Fresh seasonal fruits are another way to add lots of color to your wine gift basket, but just
continued

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

99

Creating the Perfect Wine Gift Basket make sure to buy them the same day you are going to give the gift basket to assure freshness. Finally, you’ll want to place all of these items inside an appropriately sized basket or other type of container. Wooden boxes or other useful items such as wine buckets can also be used to hold your gift basket items together. Make sure to add some pretty papers or colorful raffia to your basket to keep your items secure inside. Wrapping it all together with cellophane and tying it together with a big, beautiful bow will complete the look. Don’t be afraid to get creative and don’t worry about making it perfect. Just knowing your wine gift basket was created lovingly by you will make your gift recipients beam with joy when you hand it to them.

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

100

Wine Baskets Make Great Gifts for Any Occasion
Wine gift baskets have become one of the most popular gifts to give for just about any occasion. Most people enjoy a glass or two of wine every once in awhile and some people wouldn’t cook without it, so just about everyone would enjoy this tasty and classy gift. Whether you fill it yourself or order one pre-made, wine baskets are the perfect gift for weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, baby showers, graduations, Christmas, Hanukkah, or that hard-tobuy-for-person who seems to have everything. When choosing or creating your wine gift basket, you’ll want to include at least one or two bottles of wine. One bottle of white and one bottle of red is a nice combination. You also might want to include a couple of wine glasses, a good corkscrew, unique coasters, decorative wine stoppers, or wine marker charms. You can then fill the basket with fine chocolates, crackers, nuts, or even fresh fruit. Make sure you place these items in a basket that is large enough to hold everything properly and decoratively. Using colorful cellophane to wrap the basket and tying it together with a big bow will complete the look. You can also purchase a shrinkwrap cellophane that shrinks and hardens to the shape of the basket when you heat it up with a blow-dryer, making it look professionally done. You might also want to choose colors and accents to make the basket reflect the fact that it was designed especially for the occasion. This can include decorating the basket with silver accessories for a special anniversary, using pink or blue for a baby shower, red and green for a Christmas gift, or all white for a wedding present. Including items inside the basket that go along with the theme is also nice, such as rattles and pacifiers for a new baby or bells and flowers for a bridal gift. Even if the person you’re giving the gift to doesn’t drink wine, you can replace the bottles with non-alcoholic choices, such as sparkling wine. New mothers may not be able to enjoy a fine bottle of wine during the first few months after her baby is born, but a celebratory glass of sparkling champagne can’t hurt. Add some gourmet chocolates, fruits, and nuts to really make the basket one to remember. Wine gift baskets are a great way to introduce the world of wine to people who are inexperienced in wine appreciation. Adding a variety of smooth and flavorful wines along with a book about wine will allow someone new to the hobby the opportunity to learn something new about wines. On the other hand, a wine gift basket for the wine connoisseur might include one bottle of a highly rated wine that they can add to their wine collection. Wine collectors will always appreciate a new addition to their collection, no matter what the occasion.
continued

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

101

Wine Baskets Make Great Gifts for Any Occasion You might also want to consider giving a wine kit as a unique and interesting gift. Just like beer lovers can brew their own beer, wine lovers can bottle their own wine. This is a great gift to give anyone who loves to build or make things with their hands. Wine kits can include personalized labels, bottles, and corks to turn any wine lover into a wine producer. Who knows, maybe they’ll end up starting their own winery! No matter what the occasion or who the recipient is, a wine gift basket is a great way to impress and please everyone on your gift giving list. With a little imagination, thought, and effort, your wine gift baskets will be remembered fondly for years to come.

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

102

10
Appendices

Our 100 Best Wines
November 5, 2010
Page 1 of 2 Winery B.R. Cohn Caymus Chateau Montelena Estate Franciscan Groth Hess Select Hess Collection Jordan Kendall-Jackson Kenwood Oberon Penfolds Penley Estate Rodney Strong Silver Oak Silver Oak Chalk Hill Chateau Ste. Michelle Chateau Ste. Michelle Ferrari-Carano Hall Bradford Mountain Estancia Gnarly Head Ravenswood Ridge Frescobaldi Nipozzano Luna John Duval Two Hands David Bruce Kendall-Jackson Marimar Torres Willamette Valley Vineyards Castle Rock Titus Finca Allende Bodegas Broquel Luca Andrew Will Anselmi Beringer Name Silver Label Cabernet Sauvignon Special Selection Cabernet Sauvignon Cabernet Sauvignon Cabernet Sauvignon Cabernet Sauvignon Cabernet Sauvignon Mount Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon Cabernet Sauvignon Vintner’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Jack London Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Cabernet Sauvignon Thomas Hyland Cabernet Sauvignon Phoenix Cabernet Sauvignon Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot Canoe Ridge Estate Vineyard Merlot Indian Wells Vineyard Merlot Merlot Napa Valley Merlot Dry Creek Zinfandel Zinfandel Paso Robles Old Vine Zinfandel Teldeschi Vineyard Zinfandel Lytton Springs Zinfandel Chianti Riserva Sangiovese Entity Shiraz Angel’s Share Shiraz Russian River Pinot Noir Vinter’s Reserve Pinot Noir Pinot Noir “Cristina” Don Miguel Vineyard Pinot Noir Lake County Reserve Petite Sirah Napa Valley Petite Sirah Rioja Barco de Piedra Malbec Malbec Champoux Vineyard Horse Heaven Hills San Vincenzo Knights Valley Alluvium Blanc Vintage 2007 2008 2005 2006 2007 2008 2006 2006 2006 2005 2007 2007 2008 2007 2006 2005 2006 2006 2008 2007 2006 2006 2007 2008 2006 2007 2006 2007 2007 2008 2006 2007 2005 2007 2007 2007 2005 2008 2007 2008 2007 2009 2007 Varietal Cabernet Sauvignon Cabernet Sauvignon Cabernet Sauvignon Cabernet Sauvignon Cabernet Sauvignon Cabernet Sauvignon Cabernet Sauvignon Cabernet Sauvignon Cabernet Sauvignon Cabernet Sauvignon Cabernet Sauvignon Cabernet Sauvignon Cabernet Sauvignon Cabernet Sauvignon Cabernet Sauvignon Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot Merlot Merlot Merlot Merlot Zinfandel Zinfandel Zinfandel Zinfandel Zinfandel Sangiovese Sangiovese Syrah/Shiraz Syrah/Shiraz Pinot Noir Pinot Noir Pinot Noir Pinot Noir Petite Sirah Petite Sirah Tempranillo Tempranillo Malbec Malbec Blend Blend Blend Category Red Red Red Red Red Red Red Red Red Red Red Red Red Red Red Red Red Red Red Red Red Red Red Red Red Red Red Red Red Red Red Red Red Red Red Red Red Red Red Red Red White White Country United States United States United States United States United States United States United States United States United States United States United States Australia Australia United States United States United States United States United States United States United States United States United States United States United States United States United States Italy United States Australia Australia United States United States United States United States United States United States Spain Spain Argentina Argentina United States Italy United States CA WA CA CA CA OR CA CA CA CA CA CA CA WA WA CA CA CA CA CA CA CA State CA CA CA CA CA CA CA CA CA CA CA Appelation North Coast Napa Valley Napa Valley Napa Valley Napa Valley North Coast Napa Valley Sonoma Valley Coastal Sonoma Valley Napa Valley Limestone Coast Coonawarra Alexander valley Alexander Valley Napa Valley Sonoma County Columbia Valley Columbia Valley Sonoma County Napa Valley Napa Valley Central Coast Lodi Sonoma County Sonoma County Rufina Napa Valley Barossa Valley McLaren Vale Russian River Monterey County Sonoma County Willamette Valley North Coast Napa Valley Rioja Castilla y Leon Mendoza Mendoza Columbia Valley Veneto Sonoma County Cost 19.49 99.99 104.99 26.99 48.99 19.29 39.99 44.99 19.49 19.99 19.99 13.99 19.99 17.99 59.99 89.99 46.99 25.99 18.49 19.99 27.99 16.99 12.29 11.99 19.99 29.99 19.99 19.99 29.99 36.99 33.99 19.49 48.99 19.99 16.99 31.99 23.99 15.99 15.99 31.99 57.79 12.49 16.29 Buy Now at wine.com BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW!

continued

Our 100 Best Wines
November 5, 2010
Page 2 of 2 Winery Conn Creek Dominus Franciscan Frescobaldi Hess Collection Luce Meerlust Zenato Beringer Chateau St. Jean Cuvaison Franciscan Martin Ray Newton Raymond Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Hugel Santa Margherita Willamette Valley Vineyards Concha y Toro Groth Mulderbosch Neil Ellis St. Supery Chateau Ste. Michelle Penfolds Moet & Chandon Perrier-Jouet Veuve Clicquot Veuve Clicquot Domaine Chandon Mumm Dow’s Fonseca Graham’s Penfolds Taylor Fladgate Blandy’s Hidalgo Inniskillin Yalumba Name Anthology Estate Magnificat Remole Toscana Rosso Block 19 Cuvee Lucente Rubicon Valpolicella Classico Superiore Ripassa Private Reserve Chardonnay Sonoma County Reserve Chardonnay Chardonnay Chardonnay Russian River Valley Chardonnay Unfiltered Chardonnay Reserve Chardonnay KARIA Chardonnay Classic Pinot Gris Pinot Grigio Pinot Gris Casillero del Diablo Sauvignon Blanc Sauvignon Blanc Sauvignon Blanc Sincerely Sauvignon Blanc Sauvignon Blanc Eroica Riesling Eden Valley Bin 51 Reserve Riesling Imperial Grand Brut La Grande Dame Brut Yellow Label Brut Classic Napa Brut Prestige Fine Ruby Vintage Port Six Grapes Reserve Port Club Port Vintage Port 15 Year Old Malmsey Madiera La Gitana Manzanilla Vidal Icewine Museum Reserve Muscat 2006 2007 2007 1998 Vintage 2005 2006 2006 2008 2006 2007 2006 2007 2008 2006 2008 2008 2009 2006 2008 2007 2006 2009 2008 2009 2009 2009 2009 2009 2008 2008 Varietal Blend Blend Blend Blend Blend Blend Blend Blend Chardonnay Chardonnay Chardonnay Chardonnay Chardonnay Chardonnay Chardonnay Chardonnay Pinot Grigio Pinot Grigio Pinot Grigio Sauvignon Blanc Sauvignon Blanc Sauvignon Blanc Sauvignon Blanc Sauvignon Blanc Riesling Riesling Champagne Champagne Champagne Champagne Sparkling Sparkling Port Port Port Port Port Madiera Sherry Icewine Muscat Category Red Red Red Red Red Red Red Red White White White White White White White White White White White White White White White White White White Sparkling Sparkling Sparkling Sparkling Sparkling Sparkling Dessert Dessert Dessert Dessert Dessert Dessert Dessert Dessert Dessert Country United States United States United States Italy United States Italy South Africa Italy United States United States United States United States United States United States United States United States France Italy United States Chile United States South Africa South Africa United States United States Australia France France France France United States United States Portugal Portugal Portugal Australia Portugal Portugal Spain Canada Australia CA CA CA WA CA Oregon CA CA CA CA CA CA CA CA CA State CA CA CA Appelation Napa Valley Napa Valley Napa Valley Tuscany Napa Valley Tuscany Meerlust Veneto Napa Valley Sonoma County Carneros Napa Valley Russian River Napa Valley Napa Valley Napa Valley Alsace Trentino-Alto Adige Willamette Valley Central Valley Napa Valley Stellenbosch Stellenbosch Napa Valley Columbia Valley Barossa Valley Champagne Champagne Champagne Champagne Napa Valley Napa Valley Duoro Valley Duoro Valley Duoro Valley South Australia Duoro Valley Madiera Sanlacar de Barrameda Niagra Penninsula Barossa Valley Cost 48.99 99.99 47.99 11.49 26.99 28.99 27.99 28.99 37.00 27.99 21.99 16.79 19.29 59.99 17.99 31.99 19.99 25.99 16.29 9.79 18.49 21.99 10.49 17.99 19.99 19.49 41.99 44.99 115.00 44.99 19.49 19.99 13.99 89.00 21.99 11.49 89.00 35.99 14.99 51.99 16.49 Buy Now at wine.com BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW!

20 Best Buys Under $20
November 5, 2010
Winery Hess Select Kenwood Penfolds Rodney Strong Chateau Ste. Michelle Ferrari-Carano Bradford Mountain Gnarly Head Frescobaldi Nipozzano Willamette Valley Vineyards Bodegas Beringer Frescobaldi Martin Ray Raymond Hugel Concha y Toro St. Supery Chateau Ste. Michelle Domaine Chandon Name Cabernet Sauvignon Jack London Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Thomas Hyland Cabernet Sauvignon Cabernet Sauvignon Indian Wells Vineyard Merlot Merlot Dry Creek Zinfandel Old Vine Zinfandel Chianti Riserva Pinot Noir Barco de Piedra Knights Valley Alluvium Blanc Remole Toscana Rosso Russian River Valley Chardonnay Reserve Chardonnay Classic Pinot Gris Casillero del Diablo Sauvignon Blanc Sauvignon Blanc Eroica Riesling Brut Classic Vintage 2008 2005 2007 2007 2008 2007 2006 2008 2006 2007 2008 2007 2008 2009 2008 2006 2009 2009 2008 Varietal Cabernet Sauvignon Cabernet Sauvignon Cabernet Sauvignon Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot Merlot Zinfandel Zinfandel Sangiovese Pinot Noir Tempranillo Blend Blend Chardonnay Chardonnay Pinot Grigio Sauvignon Blanc Sauvignon Blanc Riesling Sparkling Category Red Red Red Red Red Red Red Red Red Red Red White Red White White White White White White Sparkling Country United States United States Australia United States United States United States United States United States Italy United States Spain United States Italy United States United States France Chile United States United States United States CA WA CA CA CA CA OR CA WA CA CA CA State CA CA Appelation North Coast Sonoma Valley Limestone Coast Alexander valley Columbia Valley Sonoma County Napa Valley Lodi Rufina Willamette Valley Castilla y Leon Sonoma County Tuscany Russian River Napa Valley Alsace Central Valley Napa Valley Columbia Valley Napa Valley Cost 19.29 19.99 13.99 17.99 18.49 19.99 16.99 11.99 19.99 19.99 15.99 16.29 11.49 19.29 17.99 19.99 9.79 17.99 19.99 19.49 Buy Now at wine.com BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW!

Online Wine Retailers
We believe our job here at 100 Best Wines is to help you, our customer, find the best wines at the best prices. We’ve researched the many online wine retailers, and believe these quality vendors, our partners, represent the best the web has to offer. But our job didn’t stop when we identified our partners - it continues every day because our experts explore the latest and greatest offerings, uncovering the very best deals from our partners. You will always find our “Deals of the Day” for our partners on our home page, so don’t start shopping until you check us out first. Let us be your internet sommelier. Wine.com Wine.com’s simply stated mission is “to make it fun, easy and risk-free for you to discover great new wines from all over the world, whether shopping for yourself or sending a gift.” Their experts review thousands of wines from around the world representing all varietals and regions. They also allow their partners and buyers add their own reviews for any wine they sell (Note: 100 Best Wines often adds our reviews to their selections). Wine.com believes knowledge of wines is an important element of the purchasing experience. That’s why each of their wines includes notes from the winemaker, and links to information about the winery and the region it’s from. With an incredible volume of wines from which to choose, from all regions of the world, in all price ranges, with extensive, yet user-friendly, search criteria make choosing a wine at Wine. com really quite easy. Their “Wine Basics”, ratings, winemaker’s notes, and commentaries provide an excellent and valuable foundation to develop your wine knowledge. WineExpress WineExpress.com is the exclusive wine shop partner of The Wine Enthusiast catalog and website, which have been providing quality wine accessories and storage for over 25 years. During that time they’ve served millions of satisfied customers and built a loyal following of avid wine lovers. It’s only natural then for them to have teamed up with a great wine shop to bring their customers first quality wines at value prices. WineExpress.com brings you wines that are extremely limited and in most cases simply unavailable anywhere else. Some of their winery partners produce wines specifically for WineExpress.com to meet their standards and specifications.
continued

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

107

Online Wine Retailers Because they work directly with wineries and wine producers, their prices represent value that is well above what other wines available in the marketplace might offer. WineExpress.com’s Wine Director, Josh Farrell (former Cellar Master and Sommelier at the prestigious Windows on the World) carefully reviews and rates the unique and exclusive selections available from WineExpress.com. After assessing the wine’s taste, style, quality, value and overall experience that wine delivers, he and a select panel of wine industry professionals rate and score the wine on their 100 point scale. Wine Messenger Since 1995, The Wine Messenger has built themselves into a source you can trust for providing you with good wines – often award-winning in their home country – at reasonable prices. All the wines they offer have undergone a lengthy vetting process. Their tasting panel reviews thousands of wines each year to bring you the very best, and they offer only those wines that meet their exacting standards. Their direct import model allows them to bring you new wines from exciting regions faster than through conventional channels, and they never have distributors forcing them to sell their unpopular wines. Their wine staff thoroughly researches the wines they offer, giving each selection a detailed written description from their President, complete with production information, regional and winery information, as well as detailed tasting notes and a rating. All of their wines are backed by their 100% Satisfaction Guarantee, one of the best return policies in the business. If for any reason you are unsatisfied with the wine you have purchased, let them know within 30 days and they will pick up the wine and refund you for all unopened bottles. My Wines Direct This site was started to make the wine purchasing experience less confusing and less intimidating. Their stated mission is to “Enhance your wine enjoyment with expertly chosen, consumer-approved wines from small undiscovered vineyards. Offer you a limited, carefully selected number of wines to eliminate confusion. Provide you with outstanding wine values and make wine buying easy, reliable and convenient. Give you knowledge to experiment and the confidence to discover your own likes, dislikes and tastes.” True to their stated mission, MyWinesDirect has a limited number of wines from which to select. They have spent considerable time selecting good to
continued

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

108

Online Wine Retailers great wines from boutique vineyards that will have vast cross appeal. The search capabilities are simple, yet fully encompass their portfolio. The price offerings are extremely reasonable allowing the online wine buyer to experiment without the angst of dropping a lot of money. The individual product pages are concise with tasting notes, food pairing suggestions, other buyers’ ratings and comments, and suggestions of other wines similar to the wine you’re considering. They ship for free, which can save $25 or more on a typical order. MyWinesDirect upholds their mission statement well and, if you’re a novice wine buyer, provides a wealth of information that will have you talking, tasting, selecting, and buying like a seasoned, experienced wine connoisseur. Crown Valley Winery Here you will find a unique opportunity to buy wonderful wines directly from the winery. Crown Valley Winery is a family owned estate in Ste. Genevieve County, Missouri. Founded by Joe and Loretta Scott, with their first vine plantings in 1998, it is a new, but exciting face to midwestern wine. Gently sloping terrain and well-drained soils form the foundation of the 600-acre estate. Crown Valley Winery now has more than 165 acres of carefully tended vineyards, with expansions planned over the next five years. Currently, the estate features seven varieties of grapes including Chambourcin, Chardonel, Traminette, Vignoles, Concord, Frontenac and Norton-Crown Valley Winery now has the largest planting of Norton grapes in the United States. In order to satisfy all wine lovers, Crown Valley Winery has created distinguished California-style wines such as Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon. They purchase the highest quality California (Vinifera) grapes freshly picked from the vineyards, and start with whole clusters of grapes that are quick-picked, chilled and shipped with the greatest of care directly to the estate. The grapes are crushed and fermented, and then the wine is aged in French and American oak barrels on the premise. Cellars Wine Club A wine club package delivered each month is a great way to sample new wines. A wine club membership makes the perfect gift for any wine lover. Every month members receive two bottles of hand selected exceptional wine and more. The Cellars Ultimate Wine Club selections
continued

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

109

Online Wine Retailers are delivered each month to your door. Ultra-Premium, Allocated, Highly Rated, Cellaring Potential are just a few of the adjectives that can be used to describe the wines in these clubs. Use the club as a gift to impress and indulge a client or loved one, or just pamper your own taste buds. Take the guess work out of gift giving and let family, friends, employees, colleagues and customers choose their own perfect gift of wine! Cellars Wine Club also offers gift certificates which come in several denominations to fit your needs. Wired for Wine This site does things a little differently than the rest - they only sell one acclaimed wine, steeply discounted, until it is gone. It’s simple really and that simplicity is what allows them to pass along fantastic wine values to you. These are 3rd generation wine merchants who love finding great deals on quality wines. They will typically offer free shipping on larger order sizes (four or more bottles). Worthwhile Wine Worthwhile Wine is an importer of great South African wines that are sustainably made. The wines they import have scored 90+, been recommended or rated “best/good value,” or awarded a medal in an international competition, and meet their personal criteria for “great wine.” In a tribute to being “green,” every wine they import is sustainably made, giving consideration to the environment and stakeholders as they make world-class wine. Worthwhile Wine is committed to running a “triple bottom line” business (profits, people, planet). They are a Fairtrade certified importer, and also purchase carbon off-sets for shipment of wine to the US, and donate a portion of net proceeds to nonprofits in the US and South Africa. Wine Legacy Wine Legacy offers hand-picked selections of “Highlighted Wines,” from Sonoma County red wines to white wines from Chile, that changes up to three times per month. They also try to carry enough stock so that if you like a particular wine, they will still have it available when you check back to re-order. Additionally, they have a simple search tool to find wines in their wine inventory database contained in their online wine catalog.
continued

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

110

Online Wine Retailers As knowledgeable online wine merchants, Wine Legacy presents you with a diverse selection of quality wines from top wine regions around the world. Their team of wine connoisseurs tastes hundreds of wines from some of the best wine producing vineyards around the globe. These wines are then narrowed down to a few dozen that are selected to become the wines they present to you on their web site. Wine Legacy can also meet your gift needs by offering bottled wine in gift box sets of 2, 3, and 6-bottles. You can select your own wines to include in your gift box, choosing from a variety of fine and dessert wine gifts, or they will make the selection for you, depending on the price level you choose. WineGlobe WineGlobe is a very simple and efficient site that has a moderate coverage of wine selections, but also offers online sales of spirits and beer. They ship within the United States, but also ship to certain international locations. 4 Seasons Wine WSJ Wine Zagat Wine These sites have a selective assortment of wines, as well as collections and clubs focused on these selections. Each site is a unique partnership with one of the world’s leading direct-to-home wine merchants, Tony Laithwaite. They offer wines of quality and individuality delivered direct to your home or office. In addition, you can rely on expert advice and first-class service, all backed by their guarantee of satisfaction. You’ll find interesting wines, mostly from smaller producers, from vineyards all over the world. Wine merchant Tony Laithwaite has a fascinating history. In 1969, Tony began a ‘wine trek’ that took him to vineyards and cellars worldwide. He shared his finds and experiences – the stories that made each wine unique – with a growing band of enthusiastic customers. The business has grown to become the world’s leading direct-to-home wine merchant, still based around the principle that, to get the best deals, you must go direct to the vineyard. By working closely with top producers, quality is guaranteed and prices are kept very competitive. Today, 4SeasonsWine, ZagatWine and WSJwine bring you the opportunity to share in these latest wine discoveries.

www.100BestWines.com | Copyright © 2010 100 Best Wines, LLC All Rights Reserved

111

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful