Frequently Asked Questions

Styles of Wine

The combination of soil type, climate, degree of slope and exposure to the sun.  The darker shade of wine (the deepest, blackest reds and most golden whites) usually come from warmer climates and are rich and ripe.  Lighter colors usually whites, come from cooler climates and are lighter and less lush.

Category: Styles of Wine

A fortified wine is a wine to which a distilled beverage (usually grape brandy) has been added.  Fortified wine is distinguished from spirits made from wine in that spirts are produced by distillation, while fortified wine is wine that has had a spirit added to it.  There are several styles of fortified wines that have been develpoed such as, port, sherry, maderia, marsala and vermouth.

Maderia Wine – a fortified wine made in the Maderia Islands.  Produced in a variety of styles ranging from dry wines that can be consumed on their own as an aperitif, to sweet wines usually consumed with dessert.

Marsala Wine – a strong wine named after the island’s port in Sicily, available both fortified and unforitified.  First produced in 1772 as an inexpensive substitute for sherry and port, by John Woodhouse, an English merchant.  The fortified version is blended with brandy to make two styles, a younger, slightly weaker Fine aged for at least four months, and the Superiore, aged for at least two years.  The unfortified wine is aged in wooden casks for five years or more.

Port – a fortified wine from the Douro Valley in the northern provinces of Portugal.  Fortified halfway through fermentation, which stops the process so not all the sugar is turned into alcohol.  Typically a port is a sweet red wine, but also comes dry, semi-dry and white.

Sherry – a fortified wine made from white grapes grown near the town of Jerez, Spain.  Most sherries are initially dry, with any sweetness being added later due to the fortification taking place after fermentation.  Sherry is produced in a variety of styles from dry, light versions such as finos to much darker and sweeter versions known as olorosos.

Vermouth – a fortified wine flavoured with aromatic herbs and spices using closley guarded recipes.  Some vermouth is sweetened.  Unsweetened, or dry vermouth tends to be bitter.  The name vermouth comes from a concoction made by Antonio Bnedetto Carpano which was inspired by a German wine flavoured with wormwood, a herb most famously used in distilling absinthe.

Category: Styles of Wine

Wine produced in accordance to Judaism’s religious law, specifically, the Jewish dietary laws regarding wine.  Kosher wine must have the hechsher (“seal of approval”) when it is produced, marketed and sold commercially to Orthodox Jews.

Category: Styles of Wine

It is a wine from grapes grown in accordance with the principles of organic farming, generally excluding the use of artificial chemical fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides and herbicides.

Organic wines are not necessarily sulfite-free.  Many vintners favor their use in small quantities for stabilization of wine, while others frown on them.  In the U.S., wines certified “organic” under the National Organic Program cannot contain added sulfites.  The wines that have added sulfites, but are otherwise organic, are labeled “wine made from organic grapes.”

Category: Styles of Wine

A wine with significant levels of carbon dioxide in it making it fizzy.  The carbon dioxide may result from natural fermentation, either in a bottle, as with the methode champenoise, in a large tank designed to withstand the pressures involved (as in the Charmat process), or as a result of carbon dioxide injection.  In some parts of the world, the words “champagne” or “spumante” are used as a synonym for sparkling wine, although laws in Europe and other countries reserve the word Champagne for a specific type from the Champagne region of France.

Category: Styles of Wine

A sparkling wine produced by inducing the in-bottle secondary fermentation of the wine to effect carbonation.  It is produced exclusively within the Champagne region of France, from which it takes its name.  The primary grapes used in the production of Champagne are Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier.

Category: Styles of Wine

Dessert wine that has been produced with grapes that have been frozen while still on the vine.  The sugars and other dissolved solids do not freeze, but the water does, allowing a more concentrated grape must to be pressed from the frozen grapes, resulting in a smaller amount of more concentrated very sweet wine.  With ice wines, the freezing happens before the fermentation, not afterwords.  Due to the labour-intense and risky production process resulting in relatively small amounts of wine, ice wines are generally quite expensive.

Category: Styles of Wine

A sweet wine typically served with dessert.  They are often appreciated alone, or with fruit or bakery sweets.  Due to the sweetness it is drunk in smaller quantities than table wine.  In the United States, the classification of dessert wine is the wines that are fortified whether they are sweet or dry.

Category: Styles of Wine

In European countries the wines are named after their geographic locations, non-European wines are named after different grape varieties.

Category: Styles of Wine

No, not all wines improve with time.  A vast majority of wines produced are ready to drink, and do not have much potential for aging.  Only a rare few will last longer than a decade.

Category: Styles of Wine

White wines are generally made with grapes that have yellow or green skins.  White wines can also be made from black-skinned grapes if the juice is separated from the grape skins early enough (before fermentation).  Red wines get their color from being fermented in contact with the skins of dark grapes.  Rose gets its pink color by a short contact time with the skins of dark-colored grapes before fermentation or by mixing finished red wine with finished white wine.

Category: Styles of Wine

The characteristics of a particular vintage are determined by the quaility of that year’s grape crop.  Vintages are more important when collecting more expensive wines, especially aged ones.

Category: Styles of Wine

Miscellaneous

– Dom Perignon did not invent champagne, it had existed for several years.  However, he did invent the mushroom shaped cork and wire cage to allow the sparkling wine to be safely bottled.

– The longest recorded champagne cork flight was 177 feet and 9 inches, 4 feet from level ground.

– According to scientist Bill Lembeck there are approximatley 49 million bubbles in a bottle of Champagne.

– The corkscrew was invented in 1860.

– Foot treading of grapes is still used in producing a small quantity of the best port wines.

– The bag in box was first developed in 1967 by Thomas Angove in Australia

– Robert Mondavi built Napa Valley’s first new winery after the repeal of prohibition.

– President Thomas Jefferson was the new U.S. nation’s first wine expert.

– The first commercial U.S. winery was established in Missouri in 1823.

– The smell of young wine is called an “aroma”, a more mature wine offers a more subltle “bouquet”.

– California, New York and Florida lead the United States in wine consumption.  California is the fourth-largest wine producer in the world, after France, Italy and Spain.

– The alcohol content of a standard drink of dinner wine or distilled spirts (either straight or in a mixed drink) are equivalent.

– Alcohol has been widly consumed since prehistoric times by people around the world.

– Gin was invented in Holland in 1650 about the same time European settlers in the West Indies began distilling sugar cane into Rum.

– Sir Winston Churchill would start each day with a whiskey before moving on to brandy and martinis later in the afternoon and evening.

– The Manhattan cocktail (whiskey and sweet vermouth) was invented by Winston Churchill’s mother.

– The body or lightness of whiskey is primarily determined by the size of the grain from which it was made; the larger the grain, the lighter the whiskey.  Whiskey made from rye, with its small grain size, is bigger or fuller-bodied than whiskey made from corn.

– Each molecule of alcohol is less than a billionth of a meter long and consists of a few atoms of oxygen, carbon and hydrogen.

– In the 1600’s thermometers were filled with brandy instead of mercury.

– It is impossible to create a beverage of over 18% alcohol by fermentation alone.

Category: Miscellaneous

Tannin’s is what makes your gums tingle.  Tannins are derived from the skins, pips, and stalks of grapes.  It is usually found only in red wine and is an excellent antioxidant.  Visually, tannis is the sediment found in the bottom of the bottle.

Category: Miscellaneous

600 grapes or 2.8lbs of grapes makes a bottle, one ton of grapes make about 60 cases of wine or 720 bottles. There are approximately 20 million acres for planted grapes worldwide with grapes being #1 among the world’s fruit crops.

Category: Miscellaneous

1. Appellation – named for the place the grapes are grown

2. Varietal – named for the predominate type of grape used

3. Generic – named for a commonly recognized style of wine

4. Proprietary – named created and owned by the brand

Category: Miscellaneous

Label information on wine that is sold in the United States is regulated within a division of the Department of Treasury (The Alcohol & Tobacco Tax & Trade Bureau – TTB).  The minimum information required for the bottles to be sold in the United States (whether foreign or domestic) includes: An identifying name brand, Identify the contents as being one of several classes, Alcohol content must be stated on any wines containing more than 14% alcohol by volume, Name and address of the bottle must appear on the label of all American wines, immediately preceded by the words “bottled by”, Metric size of the bottle.

Category: Miscellaneous

There are about 400 species of oak, but only approximately 20 are used in making oak barrels.  Out of the trees used, only 5% are suitable for making wine barrels.  The average age of a French oak tree harvested for use in wine barrels is 170 years.

Category: Miscellaneous

4-5 years.

Category: Miscellaneous

The purpose of a wine rating system is to quantify a wine’s quality separate from those factors that influence pricing.  The rating systems vary with some based on a 50-100 point scale, others are a 5 point scale.  When looking at these ratings, the evaluation of wine is subjective.  Factors that influence the rating are: bottle variability, tasting conditions, judges’ likes and dislikes.  Ratings are a helpful guideline when you become familiar with the rater’s preferred style.

Category: Miscellaneous

Liquors / Spirits

An American whiskey, a type of distilled spirit, made primarily from corn and named for Bourbon County, Kentucky.  Bourbon Whiskey is strongly associated with the Commonwealth of Kentucky, but can be made anywhere in the United States, and has been produced since the 18th century.  Bourbon Whiskey is a “distinctive product of the US”, and must meet certain requirements for production.  Almost all bourbons marketed today are made from more than 2/3 corn and have been aged for at least four years.

A distilled beverage, liquor, or spirit is a drinkable liquid containing ethanol produced by distilling, or less commonly freeze distilling, fermented grain, fruit, or vegetables.  This excludes un-distilled fermented beverages such as beer and wine.  Distilled beverages that are bottled with added sugar and added flavorings, are liqueurs.

Hard liquor is often used to distinguish distilled beverages from undistilled ones.

Spirt refers to a distilled beverage that contains no added sugar and has at least 20% ABV.

*On the rocks – spirit served and drunk over ice
*Straight up – spirt shaken or stirred with ice, but drunk by itself
*Neat – spirt served and consumed by itself
*With a simple mixer such as tonic water, cola, water, etc.

Drinking and Serving Wine

Inexpensive and sweet white or blush wines are best served between 4-8 degrees Celsius (approximatley 2 hours in refrigerator prior to serving).

Champagne & dry white wines of quaility are best served at about 8-10 degrees Celsius (approximatley 1 hour in refrigerator prior to serving).

Red wines are best served at 14-18 degrees Celsius if they are not stored in a cellar or temperature controlled cooler (approximatley 20 minutes in refrigerator prior to serving).

It is best to chill wine gently in a bucket of cold water and ice.  If attempting to warm a bottle of wine that is too cold it is best to bring it out of a cold storage area several hours in advance to avoid damaging the wine.

To help contain the aromas in the glass.  The thinner the glass and the finer the rim, the better.  A flairing, trumpet-shaped glass dissipates the aromas.

When wine and food are paired together, they have “synergy” or a third flavor beyond what either the food or drink offers alone.  Richer, heavier foods usually go well with richer, heavier wines; lighter foods demand light wines.  Red wines typically are served with red meat, while white wines are served with white meat and fish.  Sweet wines are served with desserts.  It is traditional to serve lighter wines and then move to heavier wines throughout the meal.  White wines should be served before red, younger wine before older, and dry wine before sweet.

White wine is 45-50 degrees Fahrenheit, and red wine is 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit.

In the kitchen because it is typically too warm to store it safely.  Refrigerators are not satisfactory for storing wine either, even at their warmest settings they are too cold.

To encourage the wine to release all of its powerful aromas.  Most glasses aren’t more than a third full in order to allow aromas to collect and not spill during a swirl.  When tasting wine, you should hold the wine in your mouth for a moment or two and either swallow it or spit it out.  A really good wine will have a long aftertaste, while an inferior wine will have a short aftertaste.

The suggested serving is 4 ounces which would give you approximately 6 glasses in 1 bottle.  A standard serving from a restaurant/bar is 6 ounces which would give you approximately 4-5 servings per bottle.