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temper, temper!

Effects of Temperature on the Taste of Wine

Wine is notoriously served at the wrong temperature.  In general, white wines should be chilled.  But they're often overly so, to the point being downright frigid.  And red wines are nearly always served at room temperature when they could actually stand to be a bit cooler than that.  Now, if it were simply an issue of temperature alone, it probably wouldn't matter much.  But unlike soda or juice or plain water, temperature has a direct and profound effect on the taste and texture of wine, which can make all the difference in whether and how much you enjoy it.  So much so, in fact, that simply changing the temperature of a wine can make it go from barely tolerable to quite enjoyable… or vice versa.

spit or swallow?

Making the Most of a Wine Tasting Event

tasting_eventAlthough heavily geared towards industry professionals, wine tastings are often open to the general public. This presents an excellent opportunity for those not in the business to taste a large number of wines at one time, while learning about unfamiliar grape varietals or wine regions — often directly from the winemakers themselves.  The average Jo(e), however, doesn't necessarily attend a number of these events, and so s/he may be unprepared on how to make the most of the experience.

bowls & stems

The Importance of Wine Glasses

wine_glassesAs with every leisure pursuit in life, there are passionate enthusiasts at one extreme, and casual spectators at the other.  The two won't share the same level of dedication, interest, or attention to detail in the enjoyment of that pursuit.  And so the story goes with wine glasses: a wine enthusiast will very likely spend some energy on the type, quality, and shape of the glasses s/he chooses in which to enjoy wine, whereas a casual wine drinker will not (or at least not nearly to the same degree).  But like quality-engineered loudspeakers for music, well-crafted athletic shoes for sport, or finely-machined pruning shears for gardening, good glassware for wine allows for more a more precise experience, and therefore greater enjoyment and appreciation overall, even if you're not a full-fledged enthusiast.

lying dormant

Allowing a Wine to Breathe

pouring_wineI'm not a morning person; you will never find me voluntarily awake before 7 a.m.   Nor am I a night owl; once I finally got past my youth-crazed drive to stay up til all-hours, nowadays the nights I'm awake past midnight are few and far between.   I, for one, peak and thrive right about mid-day; it's during those hours that I'm at my absolute best.  In fact, we all have our unique biorhythms and body clocks, with low points and high points and plateaus in-between.   And you know what?… so does wine — and even during just one evening.   Think of it this way: bottled wine is dormant wine.   While plugged up in a glass bottle for months (if not years) wine is, well, asleep.   And just as we do while we sleep, a wine slowly changes; it develops, grows, and transforms during the period of time before the bottle in which it's contained is opened.  Similar to when we awake from our own sleep, a wine starts off a bit sullen and groggy, and after being uncorked, really begins to show itself, to awaken to its full glory, and express and interact to its fullest potential.

fear of heights

The Practicality of Stemless Wineglasses

riedel_o_1Alright, I'm a bit of a wine snob.  For the longest time I scoffed at the very idea of stemless glassware.  I felt it cheapened the experience, sort of like taking a work of art and slapping it on the living room wall with tape.  But then along came Riedel's O line of glassware, a cleverly named and equally clever approach to drinking wine.   Unlike the vulgar quarter-inch-thick glass-walled tumblers you might be tossed while eating in some casual restaurant that's trying to be cool & ironic by serving wines so nonchalantly, Riedel's O glasses succeed in being a pleasure to hold and drink from, while at the same time eliminating the traditional but oftentimes impractical long stem.   In keeping with Riedel's dedication to producing a wineglass for each type of wine (see Bowls & Stems), there is an O glass for pretty much every type of red and white wine.  And they're made of crystal!   Okay, now that is cool: a casual, unpretentious way to drink wine, from something made with quality and that retains a degree of finesse at the same time.   This, I think, speaks to people.