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tips & suggestions on purchasing wine Print

cellars in the city

Storing and Aging Wine

wine_cellarAging a good wine is like investing in a low-risk savings bond: the return on that investment is roughly proportional to the length of time you put it away.  Though just as so few of us actually put away money that way, scarcely anyone (in this country, at least) stores wine for the long haul.  But if you're willing to pay a few extra bucks on a good bottle now, why not do the same on a few additional bottles for later?  After all, a quality wine will only get better, and in many cases the improvement is substantial.  Cellaring wine can range anywhere from the simple approach of stashing a few bottles at the bottom of a cool, dark closet to the extravagant approach of placing them among the slots of a custom-built walk-in that's controlled for temperature and humidity.  It all depends on your budget and the extent of your enthusiasm.

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ubiquitous gimmicks

The Scam of Wine Vacuum Pumps

If you're even just an occasional wine drinker, you might have noticed a type of product being sold in just about every shop that sells wine accessories: the handheld wine vacuum pump. A number of different manufacturers make it (VacuVin's Wine Saver being the most common), and though they each have a slightly different design, they're all essentially the same. The purpose of a vacuum wine pump, when used in conjunction with one of the specially-designed rubber stoppers included in the kit, is to "remove the air from opened bottles of wine and prevent the oxidizing effect of air from spoiling the unfinished wine." This ostensibly allows you to open a bottle of wine, drink a portion of it, and then preserve the rest in a 'vacuum,' thereby allowing you to finish it at some later time.  Well guess what? It's a bunch of B.S.

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boxed in

This isn't Your Mother's Boxed Wine

Boxed Wine.  There, I said it… er, wrote it.  That wasn't so bad, right?  Okay, wine snobs: stay with me, it's not what you think.  Wine dummies: pay attention, this could be the start of an enduring love affair.  First of all, let's be honest: good wine is expensive.  And while the definitions of 'good' and 'expensive' are completely relative, the reality is that wine is not necessary for sustenance, and so anything you spend on it is purely disposable income, like music, art, or a great pair of shoes.  But unlike those other things, a bottle of wine, once consumed, can never be experienced again.  If you're an enthusiastic wine consumer, you know how easy it is to spend a great deal on wine.  But it doesn't have to be that way.  Enter, the Boxed Wine.

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label mabel

The Pitfall of Tracking Down Wines

One thing I'd noticed quite frequently during my stint in wine retail, and continue to overhear as a customer in wine shops, is the very specific request for a particular wine: "Do you have the so-and-so wine by the so-and-so producer?"  Oftentimes, a consumer experiences a wine as a patron in a restaurant or as a guest in someone's home, and soon thereafter embarks on a mission to find that very same wine.  Have you ever done that?  Have you ever had a really great wine somewhere, committed the label name to memory, and then decided you absolutely had to find it the next time you happened upon a wineshop?  Well, stop it. You're wasting your time and energy.

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plugged & twisted

Screwcaps and Synthetic Corks

More and more, we're seeing wine bottles sealed with closures other than the natural cork we've come to associate with them. There are several reasons for this, depending primarily on the type of closure and style of wine.  One type of cork alternative is known as the synthetic "cork" — a piece of rubbery plastic that stoppers a bottle much in the way that a traditional cork does, and must also be removed using a corkscrew.  This type of closure is usually used in lower-priced wines meant to be drunk soon, since over a long period of time the synthetic material fails to ward off oxidation nearly as long as natural cork and can actually impart off-flavors to a wine.  The main reason for using synthetic corks for cheaper wines is that they're a lot less expensive than natural cork; producers of such wines are wanting to cut productions costs as much as possible.  The wine inside a bottle with this sort of closure isn't necessarily low quality, but simply one that's meant to be drunk soon after release (such as most whites and lighter reds).

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