Archive for the 'fine kosher wines' Category

28
Oct
10

Kosherfest: Day 2


We went back to Kosherfest yesterday and once again it did not disappoint. Interesting products were abundant, a lot of the old classics were improved and there quite a few new ideas as well.

One delicious variation on an old classic was this frozen pizza by Mor Fun Foods

Tastes fresh, not frozen!

Next we passed by Toobro, a distributor of the Golan brand of cheeses, Morning Select, Spreads Instead, Emes, etc., etc., We will, be’ezras Hashem, do a more in-depth review of their products over the next few weeks.

Toobro's portfolio of brands...

Products we got to taste within Toobro‘s lines included a delicious Roaster Garlic and Herbs by Spread Instead. Spread Instead products are succulent blends of gourmet cream cheese, herbs, etc.  Frankly, we couldn’t enough of it… Superb, excellent, delicious… none of these words do actual justice to the taste

Deeeelishious!

Next we visited Lily Bloom’s Kitchen. The owner, Larry Shiller, took his mother’s recipe for delicious macaroons (I’ve never been a fan of macaroons, but these were good!!!), in various flavors: Chocolate, White Chocolate and Raspberry, Chocolate/Almond, Chocolate/Walnut, Chocolate/Peanut Butter, Chocolate/Cinnamon, Chocolate/Cherry, and Chocolate/Orange.

Winner of Kosherfest 2010 Best New Product

Next we passed by the Kedem Marketplace pavillion…

Partial views of Royal Wine Corporations huge selection of wines and liquors

Being an unabashed, uncompromising cheese lover, I was truly excited to see Israel’s Seyman company bringing its huge selection of European made cheeses from such famous names as La Cremerie, Coeur de Lion, St. Maure, Bresse Bleu, etc. I can’t wait for them to find an American distributor…

I can't wait for the moment I walk in to kosher supermarket and pick up a Manchego!

Organic Traditions, had some very interesting items:

Cacao Nibs, Vanilla Poda, Goji Berries, dried Apricots and so much more

Finally I was ready for the talk of show, the pièce de résistance, something quite a few celebrities kept on going back to time and again (don’t worry I won’t name you, you know who you are!)… Jack’s Gourmet Sausages.

Dr. Bronner - Jack's Gourmet's co-owner and some of those incredible sausages or what was left of them...

Frankly, there were quite a few more items we loved and we’ll review some of them in-depth over the next few weeks. All in all, we were excited by what we saw and tasted. Kosher is no longer just gefilte, kasha, or brisket, kosher wine is far beyond Extra Sweet Malaga or Extra Sweet Concord… we now have world class selections!

CS

10
Mar
10

Glatt a La Carte


So, I’ve got to admit, I showed up to Glatt A La Carte (5123 18th Avenue; Brooklyn, NY 11204; Telephone: 718.438.6675) in Boro Park bearing preconceived notions of uber chulent-fresser waiters in bowties serving upscale Jewish chic, featuring ptcha in arbes parsley pesto and liver pâté in matzo taco shells, with huge mains of brisket and mashed potatoes in a pomegranate reduction sauce.

Nothing could be further from the truth! This restaurant was understated chic and welcoming. There were inconspicuous screen separators between some of the tables giving a sense of privacy and intimacy and tall lean white winter branches warmly lit from below against the back wall.  The waiters, detail oriented and attentive, gave an exemplary dinner service.  Chef Mark Green, a 10 year veteran of Glatt A La Carte, personally brought us the courses that unequivocally proved his superb talents and artistry of taste. It all further demonstrated, the coordinated organic time-lapse frame of a restaurant which, through the patient masterful guidance of owner Binem Naiman and Chef Mark combined,  has grown from the ordinary to the extraordinary, incorporating the traditional with  the contemporary.

I started the meal with a Butternut Squash Ravioli, the sauce consisted of roasted butternut squash, apple sauce, onions and winter sage. The ravioli were freshly made, the combination of spices gave an out of the ordinary perfect taste, rich in flavor and pleasing to the eyes.

Butternut Squash Ravioli

CS had a Spicy Tuna Tartar with a special avocado wrap.

Spicy Tuna Tartar

I followed with a Beef Brisket Spring Roll, served with red cabbage confetti slaw (red cabbage, finely sliced orange and yellow pepper and red onion) in a hickory BBQ sauce. It was the best brisket spring roll I ever tasted. I liked the hickory/honey sauce was on the side as it the well seasoned brisket stand alone on flavor. The bright colored confetti slaw was festive and tangy, a perfect partner to the brisket!

CS opted for the Grilled Veal Sweetbreads, served with rustic chimichurri sauce and parsley with home made garlic bread sticks and olive oil. The presentation was enticing, the flavor all conquering.

Next I had a Reserve Steak.

Reserve Steak

It was a rib eye steak, served with grilled onion and a tarragon béarnaise sauce. It was what every rib eye I ever consumed should have been, exploding with flavor, an exquisitely traditional ta’am.

CS had a Bone-in-Roast Prime Rib with the Columbian Rub (blend of fresh ground coffee and spices), served with Bourbon Aju and topped with crispy seasoned fried onions. It was super tender, juicy and flavorful. The coffee rub, brought out some unusual flavors (my mouth is watering as I write). It cut like butter. I don’t think I can rave enough about either of the steaks!

For dessert CS ordered a Plum Carpaccio.

Plum Carpaccio

This dessert came topped with mango and raspberry sorbet, it was served with molasses and honey… colorful and delicious!

But… I had the best of all. I ordered the homemade Angel Food Pinwheel, it was topped – in front of us – with a luscious, warm blueberry sauce. The cake came filled with whipped creme, decadently succulent! Perfect ending to a perfect dinner…

During the meal we enjoyed a very nice 2005 Segal’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. We accompanied our desserts with a glass each of 2008 Baron Herzog Late Harvest Chenin Blanc. Excellent choices both!

SYR

Glatt a la Carte on Urbanspoon

22
Feb
10

A Private Wine Tasting


I recently had a private wine tasting with Costas Mouzouras, the Wine Director at Gotham Wines & Liquors (2517 Broadway; New York, NY 10025; Telephone: 212.932.0990). Costas, who’s been in the business for 22 years, selected four outstanding wines for me to try. To keep everything strictly kosher, I opened and poured the bottles for both of us.

The choices were: 2007 Lambouri Ya’in Kafrisin, 2006 Shiloh Secret Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, 2007 Dalton Reserve Wild Yeast Fermentation Viognier and a 2007 Yatir Sauvignon Blanc.

We started with the 2007 Lambouri Ya’in Kafrisin. This wine comes from Limassol, Cyprus. It’s made from a mixture of Cabernet Sauvignon, Mavro and Grenache Noir grapes. These grapes are grown in Europe’s highest vineyards. The color is a dark garnet with orange and purple reflections. The Mavro grape is indigenous to Cyprus, and unlike any grape grown in the rest of Europe, it is still grown on ancient rootstock. Most mainland Europe’s vineyards have been attacked by the Philoxera Epidemic during the 19th century, as a result most European vineyards were devastated and their grapes had to be grafted on American rootstock. You can, therefore, surmise that while most European grapes may have, however subtly, changed their taste, the Mavro grape remains untainted and has tasted the same (with fair consistency) for thousands of years.  One will detect a nice fruitiness, with emphasis on blackcurrant, blackberry, purple plum fruits and notes of bitter orange peel, those on a background of white pepper and oriental spices, with the tannins and fruits rising on the finish. It leaves the drinker with an unusual but delightful after taste. Goes superbly well with juicy meats. Definitely one of my new favorites!

We followed it with the 2006 Shiloh Secret Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. This is a very good Israeli wine, grown in the Judean Hills. Aged aged in French oak casks, it is very fruity with blackcurrant and plum undercurrents and vanilla (due to the French oak casks). It goes well with drier meats.

We then went on to the whites. 2007 Dalton Reserve Wild Yeast Fermentation Viognier was our next selection. It started with a certain smokiness, showing intense, vibrant and complex spicy, floral, fig and melon aromas and flavors. Deep and rich with a long, broad finish. This wine was, by far, much better than its price range would suggest!

We ended the tasting with a 2007 Yatir Sauvignon Blanc. Crisp and lively, with elegance and subtlety. It is light golden in color with orange and green reflections, showing citrus, passion fruit, green apple and grapefruit aromas and flavors on a grassy and stony-mineral background.

All in all, these four selection running in price range from $15.99 to $37.99 were excellent! Costas Mouzouras started working at Gotham Wines & Liquors in 1988, where he soon became the kosher wine buyer, at a time when most of the few available kosher wines were of the extra sweet variety. In his 22 years at Gotham he has seen an explosion of kosher wines with award winning selections from all over the globe including many dry wines (which would have been unthinkable to our older generation), as well as semi dry, semi sweet, and sweet ones.

I liked the wines enough that I had to bring each one home, this is their aftermath...

Currently, they are offering 10% off on any bottles and 15% off on solid cases. (solid meaning a case of the same product.)

On Sunday, March 7th, Gotham Wines & Liquors will present its 7th annual Wine Tasting. It will take place in the afternoon at the Lincoln Square Synagogue (200 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY; between 69th and 70th). They will present over 300 bottles from all over the world, starting at 2:00pm and going until 5:00pm. Pay $30 per person at the entrance or $25 on line at Gotham Wines & Liquors‘ own site. At 1:15 going on until 2:00 there will be a guided VIP tasting for $45 which is only available at the door.

CS

17
Feb
10

Enjoying your Wines – Part 4 – Grape Varieties


There are literally thousands of grape varieties in existence. Most wine grapes are made from the European species, which is considered to be superior to the American vine species. The reason for the numerous varieties is that grape vines have a tendency to mutate and cross breed with ease. Advances in genetic technology have allowed scientists to determine the origins of many well-known grape varieties. The following will give you an introduction to the world of most common grape varieties.

Red Varieties

Cabernet Sauvignon
Cabernet Sauvignon requires care and attention in the vineyard, with fruit exposure and yield directly related to fruit quality. However its thick skin makes it incredibly resilient to adverse climatic conditions. In the winery, winemakers often age Cabernet Sauvignon in a mixture of French and American oak.

Climate has a significant impact on the sensory characteristics of the variety. In cooler climates, minty and leafy characters are intermingled with blackcurrant and red berries. In warmer climates, chocolate and tobacco characters express themselves.

Cabernet Franc
Cabernet Franc
is a component of Bordeaux blends and Loire Valley reds. It has leafy red-berry characters.

Malbec
Malbec is a successful varietal in Argentina. Also used in Bordeaux blends.

Merlot
For Merlot to be good, it must be picked at optimum ripeness, to avoid the presence of herbal characters. Flavors of plums, red currant, mint, pimento, game, earth and leather can be found. Its tannins are invariably soft, making Merlot a good early drinking style, but this does limit its aging potential.

Merlot is most famous in its homeland of Bordeaux in France, where it is used to make some of the world’s greatest and most expensive wines. Over the last ten years, plantings have rapidly expanded across the globe, most notably into California, South America, Italy, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia.

Petit Verdot
Petit Verdot is a red grape variety that is traditionally used in Cabernet Sauvignon based blends. It is known for its intense color, vibrant flavors and firm tannin structure making it a good choice for true red wine drinkers.

Petit Verdot has an interesting flavor profile. It can be incredibly perfumed, having aromas of blueberry and violet. Sometimes it has an attractive herbaceous and spice element, giving the variety complexity. The acidity is often prominent and due to the thick skins of the grape, the color is very dense and the tannins are firm. Structural wines with intense flavors can age well in the mid term. Due to its strength of character, Petit Verdot can have a significant impact on a blend, even when used in small proportions.

Pinot Noir
Pinot Noir originated in the French region of Burgundy, where it is most renowned and revered. The true character of Pinot Noir is expressed when it is grown in a cool climate. In fact, its early ripening nature makes it able to withstand some of the cooler areas.

Wines made from Pinot Noir are typically lightly colored, with cherry-to-plum red hues. The aroma, which is often highly fragrant, can be composed of cherries, red berries, violets and spice when young, transforming into gamey, leathery, mushroomy characters with age. The palate is light-to-medium bodied with fine silky tannins.

As complexity is a vital attribute of good Pinot Noir, the winemaking process is very detailed. Some winemakers choose to include whole berries in the fermentation to increase the fragrance of the wine. Others allow crushed grapes to macerate prior to fermentation to increase the depth of color and flavor. Some choose to do this after fermentation. Oak is used as an important element in both the sensory and structural aspects of the wine, however due to the delicacy of the variety, care must be taken to ensure that it doesn’t dominate the wine. It is not unusual for a single batch of grapes to be processed in different ways to give a range of blending options for the final wine.

Syrah
The beauty of Syrah is that it can flourish in a range of climates. Syrah can be made into a range of styles, defined by the terroir of the region and the winemakers’ artistry. With its soft ripe tannins, black cherry, pepper and spice characters, it can be crafted into wines suitable for immediate consumption.

Zinfandel
Substantial plantings in both California as well as Italy. In Italy it is known as Primitivo. It produces full-bodied and richly flavored wines.

White Varieties

Chardonnay
The popularity of Chardonnay quickly rose, due to its generous flavors and its ease to grow and make into wine. In fact, it is often called a viticulturalist’s dream, as it is early ripening, naturally vigorous and is relatively resistant to disease. Most importantly, it can be grown in a wide range of climatic conditions, leading to a vast array of styles.

The base flavor of Chardonnay is generous, but relatively neutral thus the winemakers’ individuality can be expressed through the winemaking techniques used. Oak usage, yeast lees contact and malolactic fermentation are just some of the ways a winemaker can influence the style of Chardonnay.

Chenin Blanc
Chenin Blanc is a classic French variety. The basis of some of the world’s greatest and long-living sweet wines.

Gewurztraminer
Gewurztraminer is a spicy, aromatic variety. Its style ranges from the flavorsome and fruity, to fine and delicate.

Pinot Gris
There are many synonyms for Pinot Gris. In Alsace, it is known at Tokay Pinot Gris. In Italy, it is commonly referred to as Pinot Grigio and in Germany it is known as Ruländer or Grauburgunder.

Gris, meaning grey in French, refers to the color of the Pinot Gris grapes. As a result, wines made from Pinot Gris often have a slight coppery hue. They have a delicately perfumed aroma with flavors stretching from fresh pear through to tropical fruits. Pinot Gris is similar to Chardonnay in that it has good palate weight and flavor.

Riesling
Riesling is an aromatic variety that produces intensely fragrant and flavored wines of exceptional character. Notes of citrus, honeysuckle, blossoms, green apple and mineral are commonly seen. With concurrent high acidity and comparable low alcohol, the wines retain an enviable freshness which many other varieties lack. Oak is not used and the wines are very pure and clean.

Riesling is a variety that is much loved by winemakers and wine connoisseurs due to its intense flavors and its defined palate structure. Riesling is delightful when it is consumed young and fresh. However it is one of the few white wines that has the ability to age.

Sauvignon Blanc
Sauvignon Blanc
is a variety with increasing popularity in Australia. Although its plantings are quite small, they are expected to significantly increase over the next ten years. Sauvignon Blanc is used to make fresh, vibrant wine styles with none of the heaviness of Chardonnay or the floral tones of Riesling. Its flavor profile is in harmony with Semillon and consequently these varieties are often blended together.

The flavor spectrum of Sauvignon Blanc is quite diverse. Upon a backbone of herbaceousness lie tropical fruit, passion fruit and gooseberry. Look a little closer and you may see tomato leaf, spice and flint. The stronger styles have elements of asparagus, capsicum and gun smoke. And winemaking can add tones of oak, butter and yeast. They are a feast for the senses, especially during the heat of summer where their defined acidity adds freshness to the palate.

Semillon
Semillon is a unique minerally, lemony style, which is crisp and lean when young and is made without the influence of oak or malolactic fermentation. However the wine undergoes a transformation with age, evolving into a complex, nutty, honeyed wine of great depth and complexity.

Semillon is often seen blended with Chardonnay, particularly in mass-market wine styles. The freshness of Semillon provides a necessary balance to the often overly rich Chardonnay. It is a blend that has been very successful.

Viognier
The most distinctive attribute of Viognier is its stone fruit character, most notably that of apricot. It can also show considerable floral and spice tones. In cooler climates you can see citrus whilst in warmer areas there is more honeysuckle. It has good viscosity due to generous alcohol levels and is similar to Chardonnay in that it has a weighty mid-palate and generous flavour, making it a good alternative to this ubiquitous variety.

Aaron Zimmerman

[Mr Zimmerman owns and operates Liquors Galore, 1418 Avenue J (between 12th and 13th Streets); Brooklyn, NY 11230-3702; Telephone: 718.338.4166. The above post is the lastof a multi-part series we have been posting once a week on these pages]

RELATED POSTS

Enjoying your Wines – Part 3 – Storing

Enjoying your Wines – Part 2 – Tasting

Enjoying your Wines Part 1 Buying

12
Feb
10

El Gaucho Steakhouse


Walking into El Gaucho Steakhouse, (4102 18th Avenue; Brooklyn, New York 11218; Telephone: 718.438.3006) brought back many fond memories from my childhood in Montevideo, Uruguay. The authentic decor, the food, the aromas… ah…

A detail of the wall mural

The meal consisted of some favorites from my childhood and adolescent years… yeap, these dishes were just as good as I remembered them… maybe even better!

I started out with their Empanada Casera de Carne. A turnover with beef and criolla sauce and a salad. It has a crispy exterior, and a very flavorful interior.

I followed with a Chorizo Parillero.

Chorizo Parillero and the authentic ambiance at El Gaucho Steakhouse

It was juicy and very aromatic!

For the main I ordered their mock Filet Mignon.

Filet Mignon

This cut is made from the eye of the ribeye, I ordered it medium. It was served with potato puree and mushroom sauce, garnished with minced scallions and mixed vegetables.

For dessert, I ordered their cake of the day.

Chocolate Cake and Ice Cream

It consisted of a hot molten chocolate cake and vanilla ice cream with chocolate topping. A fitting crown for a meal filled with memories and tastes of yesteryear. A true delight for decadent pleasures!

I washed it all down with a very good 2006 Layla Malbec from the Mendoza region of Argentina.

El Gaucho Steakhouse has a well stacked cellar with a nice selection of Argentine, Italian, American, French, Israeli and Australian wines, all kept at the proper temperature.  Mr. David the owner got his education in a restaurant in Buenos Aires, Argentina. They have a large Argentinian parrillador (grill) on premises and the Chef himself is from Argentina.

The food was delectable, the memories came flooding amidst the decor and the aromas… I’ll be back!!

CS

09
Feb
10

Enjoying your Wines – Part 3 – Storing


What is the appropriate method for storing wine?

If wine doesn’t sit around long in your house, you don’t worry about storing it. But maybe you want to take advantage of your wine shop’s cheaper-by-the-case policy, or you’ve come into a few bottles of good wine that need aging. If so, it’s time to make some decisions about storing your wine.

First, you have to understand what you are trying to accomplish. How much and what type of wine are you going to store? Where are you going to store it? How often do you buy wine? How often do you drink wine?

Careful storage will be rewarded with a better wine when it is finally opened.

Temperature, light, humidity and vibration all affect how a bottle of wine matures. The longer a bottle is kept, the more impact those factors will have.

Temperature

Storing at too cool a temperature will retard maturing, while storing at too warm a temperature will accelerate it. Keeping the temperature consistent is also critical. Changing the temp levels will affect the wine’s aging process.

Light

Long-term exposure to light can accelerate aging and even damage the wine.

Humidity

Humidity comes into play in keeping the cork moist. Too dry an environment will dry and shrink the cork, permitting air to seep into the bottle.>

Vibration

Bottles shouldn’t be disturbed in any way as they age. Vibration interferes with the biochemical process of aging.

You should consider all four of these factors when choosing the appropriate method for storing your wine.

Start by storing wine on its side. Except for screw-cap bottles, which can be kept upright, this benefits any wine, whether you drink it soon or hold onto it for years.

Bottles should be stored or stacked on their side to keep the cork moist, thus fully swollen and airtight, avoiding oxidation

To reduce vibration and to secure bottles on their sides, even a casual wine drinker may want to invest in a wine rack. Wine racks can be small and simple or large and elaborate. The size should depend on how many bottles you intend to store, as well as where the rack will sit. Keeping bottles in a wine rack in a shadowy corner of the den or in a closet is fine for a few weeks, but bottles stored long term need temperatures that are cool and consistent.

Wine should be stored between 53 and 57 degrees Fahrenheit In some areas of the country this can be achieved by storing bottles in a cool, dark basement. In Florida, though, that means refrigeration. Wines need to rest peacefully and that can’t happen in an environment that is constantly being disturbed. The best solution is a refrigerator engineered specifically for storing wine.

Aaron Zimmerman

[Mr Zimmerman owns and operates Liquors Galore, 1418 Avenue J (between 12th and 13th Streets); Brooklyn, NY 11230-3702; Telephone: 718.338.4166. The above post is part of a multi-part series we’ll be posting once a week on these pages]

RELATED POSTS

Enjoying your Wines – Part 2 – Tasting

Enjoying your Wines Part 1 Buying

03
Feb
10

Enjoying your Wines – Part 2 – Tasting


What is the “Right Way” to taste a wine?

Learning how to taste wines is a straightforward adventure that will deepen your appreciation for both wines and winemakers. Look, smell, taste – starting with your basic senses and expanding from there you will learn how to taste wines like the pros in no time! Keep in mind that you can smell thousands of unique scents, but your taste perception is limited to salty, sweet, sour and bitter. It is the combination of smell and taste that allows you to discern flavor.

Look: Check out the Color and Clarity.

Pour a glass of wine into a suitable wine glass. Then take a good look at the wine. Tilt the glass away from you and check out the “color” of the wine from the rim edges to the middle of the glass. What color is it? Look beyond red, white or blush. If it’s a red wine is the color maroon, purple, ruby, garnet, red, brick or even brownish? If it’s a white wine is it clear, pale yellow, straw-like, light green, golden, amber or brown in appearance?

Still looking? Move on to the wine’s opacity. Is the wine watery or dark, translucent or opaque, dull or brilliant, cloudy or clear? Can you see sediment? Tilt your glass a bit, give it a little swirl – look again, is there sediment, bits of cork or any other floaters? An older red wine will be more translucent than younger red wines.

Smell

Our sense of smell is critical in properly analyzing a glass of wine. To get a good impression of your wine’s aroma gently swirl your glass (this helps vaporize some of the wine’s alcohol and release more of its natural aromas) and then take a quick whiff to gain a first impression.

Still Smelling. Now stick your nose down into the glass and take a deep inhale through your nose. What are your second impressions? Do you smell oak, berry, flowers, vanilla or citrus? A wine’s aroma is an excellent indicator of its quality and unique characteristics. Gently swirl the wine and let the aromas mix and mingle, and sniff again.

Taste

Finally, take a taste. Start with a small sip and let it roll around your tongue. There are three stages of taste: the Attack phase, the Evolution phase and the Finish.

The Attack Phase, is the initial impression that the wine makes on your palate. The Attack is comprised of four pieces of the wine puzzle: alcohol content, tannin levels, acidity and residual sugar. These four puzzle pieces display initial sensations on the palate. Ideally these components will be well-balanced one piece will not be more prominent than the others. These four pieces do not display a specific flavor per se, they meld together to offer impressions in intensity and complexity, soft or firm, light or heavy, crisp or creamy, sweet or dry, but not necessarily true flavors like fruit or spice.

The Evolution Phase is next, also called the mid-palate or middle range phase, this is the wine’s actual taste on the palate. In this phase you are looking to discern the flavor profile of the wine. If it’s a red wine you may start noting fruit – berry, plum, prune or fig; perhaps some spice – pepper, clove, cinnamon, or maybe a woody flavor like oak, cedar, or a detectable smokiness. If you are in the Evolution Phase of a white wine you may taste apple, pear, tropical or citrus fruits, or the taste may be more floral in nature or consist of honey, butter, herbs or a bit of earthiness.

The Finish is appropriately labeled as the final phase. The wine’s finish is how long the flavor impression lasts after it is swallowed. This is where the wine culminates, where the aftertaste comes into play. Did it last several seconds? Was it light-bodied (like water) or full-bodied (like the consistency of milk)? Can you taste the remnant of the wine on the back of your mouth and throat? Do you want another sip or was the wine too bitter at the end? What was your last flavor impression – fruit, butter, oak? Does the taste persist or is it short-lived?

After you have taken the time to taste your wine, you might record some of your impressions. Did you like the wine overall? Was it sweet, sour or bitter? How was the wine’s acidity? Was it well balanced? Does it taste better with cheese, bread or a heavy meal? Will you buy it again? If so, jot the wine’s name, producer and vintage year down for future reference.

Why do I need to let my wine “Breathe”?

The whole concept of letting wine breathe, or aerate, is simply maximizing your wine’s exposure to the surrounding air. By allowing wine to mix and mingle with air, the wine will typically warm up and the wine’s aromas will open up, the flavor profile will soften and mellow out a bit and the overall flavor characteristics should improve.

Which Wines Need to Breathe?

Typically red wines are the ones to benefit most from breathing before serving. However, there are select whites that will also improve with a little air exposure. In general, most wines will improve with as little as 15-20 minutes of air time. However, if the wine is young with high tannin levels, it will need more time to aerate before enjoying. For example, a young cabernet Sauvignon will likely require around an hour for proper aeration and flavor softening to take place. Not that you cannot drink it as soon as it is uncorked, but to put its best foot forward give it more time to breathe. Mature wines are another story all together. These wines will benefit most from decanting and then will only have a small window of aeration opportunity before the flavor profiles begin to deteriorate.

Some erroneously believe that merely uncorking a bottle of wine and allowing it to sit for a bit is all it takes to aerate. This method is futile, as there is simply not enough room (read: surface area) at the top of the bottle to permit adequate amounts of air to make contact with the wine. So what’s a Wine Lover to do? You have two options: Decanter or Wine Glass.

Decanter – use a decanter with a wide opening at the top to pour your bottle of wine into. The increased surface area is the key to allowing more air to make contact with your wine. Keep this in mind while setting up proper “breathing” techniques for your favorite wine.

The Wine Glass – Pour your wine into wine glasses and let it aerate. This is certainly the low-maintenance method and typically works quite well. Just be sure to keep the glass away from the kitchen commotion, while it breathes in peace. A good tip for pouring wine into glasses make sure that you pour into the center of the glass with a good 6-10 inches of “fall” from bottle to glass to allow for further aeration during the actual pour.

In general, the Aeration Rule of Thumb: the more tannins a wine has the more time it will need to aerate. Lighter-bodied red wines that have lower tannin levels, will need little if any time to breathe.

How do I know if my wine is “corked”?

Fresh picked blueberries, juicy peach, toasted vanilla bean, or mold, which one does not belong? The first three flavors are great descriptors for wine; unfortunately, the last one is a pretty accurate descriptor for a corked bottle of wine. Nuances of mildew, no matter how slight, are an indication of TCA, a bleach-loving mold that infects corks and bottling facilities. As revolting as a corked bottle can taste, TCA starts out as a loss of fruitiness with no ill flavor. So that highly recommended, highly disappointing bottle may still be a great wine, just not the one you opened.

Even though it tastes like it could kill you, you can drink the wine. A faint cardboard flavor can be tolerated when the wine is still tasty enough to drink. When you encounter a bottle that is too far gone don’t dump the wine down the drain. Pour it back into the bottle, put the cork back in, and return it to the store where you purchased it. Retailers get credit for bad bottles of wine. Some experts estimate that one bottle in twelve is tainted with TCA. Just because one bottle has it, doesn’t mean that another bottle from the same case does too. TCA mold takes effect by coming in contact with the wine in the bottle. Mold on the top of the cork is usually not an indication that the bottle is corked.

Aaron Zimmerman

[Mr Zimmerman owns and operates Liquors Galore, 1418 Avenue J (between 12th and 13th Streets); Brooklyn, NY 11230-3702; Telephone: 718.338.4166. The above post is part of a multi-part series we’ll be posting once a week on these pages]

RELATED POSTS

Enjoying Your Wines – Part 1 – Buying

26
Jan
10

Enjoying Your Wines – Part 1 – Buying


One of the aisles at Liquors Galore. Photo: ©2010 The Kosher Scene

Liquors Galore-always a step ahead.  Our upgraded selection provides our customers with the highest quality, regional and international wines and whiskys available on the kosher market.  Not only does our friendly and professional staff assist you in matching your specific taste and needs, but we educate our consumers to become knowledgeable in self-selecting the perfect wine for any occasion-all in a comfortable, spacious, state-of-the-art environment.

Here are a few tips to enhance your wine buying experience.I expect this will expand your knowledge the world of wine.

What do I look for when buying a wine?

When selecting a wine make sure to look for three points which are Price, Preference and Pairing. Keep these in mind when purchasing at our store and you will likely come away with a winning wine.

Price

The price you are willing to pay for a bottle of wine is a key determining factor in selecting a wine that is right for you. Gone are the days when you could only buy a “good” bottle of wine for over $30. In today’s market there are plenty of great wines available for around $15, some for considerably less. So rest assured that you won’t have to drop a bundle of money to experiment with various wines. In our store you’ll find a big enough selection to suit your price range.

Preference

Preferences. ……we all have them and they often change in a moments notice, but with wine preferences, consider what you will be drinking them with or who you will be sharing them with. For example, if you are hosting a get together, your preferences might lean towards “safe” reds and whites. For people that may not be accustomed to heavier-bodied, heartier wines, give them a break – buy a softer Merlot or Pinot Noir. For a white, if you are new to wines and are looking for a few suggestions – try a Riesling, Gewurtztraminer, or a Muscat dessert wine if sweeter wines suit your fancy. If you prefer a dry white wine then look for a Chardonnay, Pinot Gris or Sauvignon Blanc. As for reds, start with a Gamay, Pinot Noir, or Merlot if you do not want anything too complex or full-bodied. If you are looking to turn up the complexity meter, then go with a great California or Israeli Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, or a Zinfandel.

Pairing

If you are looking for a wine specifically to pair with dinner tonight, then take into account what the key ingredients will be. Will it be white or red meat? Will you be using fresh or dried herbs and what types? Will the dish be spicy or fruit-filled? These questions can play a key role in deciding which wines will pair well with specific entrees. In general, white wines accent lighter flavored meals really well; while, red wines often compliment heartier meals a bit better. Keep in mind that pairing foods and wines is 99% personal preference and 1% science.

Why do some wine labels list the name of the grape and some the name of the region?

Wine labels can be straight-forward or fairly tricky to decipher, depending on whose you’re trying to read and where it’s from. New World labels tend to be easier to read, with the varietal or blend clearly labeled, the producer, where the grapes were grown and the alcohol content right there in plain view. Old World wines have a reputation for being tougher to interpret. Instead of the varietal being the primary piece of information on the Old World label, it is the location – where the wine is from. Old World wines are heavily invested in their individual terroir, not necessarily the specific grape.

Does the “Vintage” from one year to another really make a difference?

Most consumers don’t pay attention to vintage reports from year to year, they know that they like “wine X” and they continue to scout for it year in and year out, they may notice that it doesn’t taste quite like the last bottle and maybe even that the year has changed on the label, but beyond those details they press on and stick with the particular wine.

When in reality, the wine could be dramatically different from year to year depending on the weather patterns hitting the vineyards, the harvest time and how a unique micro-climate was affected by both obvious and subtle nuances in the weather. Was it unusually hot this year, but last year they battled an ongoing soggy season? Were there any unusual early or late frosts this year?

Grapes varietals are affected by weather in various ways. The Riesling grape, for example, thrives under cooler growing conditions, however, if you have a particularly warm, dry growing season, the Riesling vintage could suffer that year and the same producer that offered the Riesling you fell in love with the year before, might not meet prior expectations this vintage and you could be left waiting to see what the next year’s weather will bring to a region and ultimately a vintage.

Skilled winemakers can really work their magic. If poor weather patterns prevail for a given region, an experienced winemaker can salvage the vintage by employing various interventions and techniques during the process. Whether, the vintner brings the wine around via blending, utilizing different fermentation processes or considers additives – it takes a knowledgeable winemaker to “save” a potentially sour vintage and keep reasonable consistency in a specific wine between vintages.

Aaron Zimmerman

[Mr Zimmerman owns and operates Liquors Galore, 1418 Avenue J (between 12th and 13th Streets); Brooklyn, NY 11230-3702; Telephone: 718.338.4166. The above post is part of a multi-part series we’ll be posting once a week on these pages)




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