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New to wine!

r
rchlst Nov 22, 2010 09:19 AM

Okyy - so i'm really new to wine. I mean i drink it but know nothing about it. Can you recommend a good site I could visit that would educate me?

Also - do you have any recommendations or suggestions? I like to drink 1/2 - 1 glass with dinner but could never finish a full bottle on my own before it goes bad. What should I do?

Thanks!!!

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  1. boredough RE: rchlst Nov 22, 2010 09:59 AM

    Get a simple wine preservation kit/unit (see, for example, www.wineenthusiast.com) . There are various inventions that refill the empty space in your wine bottle with nitrogen, or similarly create a vacuum to prevent spoilage. In this way, you can keep a started bottle at room temperature (for 2 weeks? various opinions on that) so that it is ready to drink when you are. This is more important for red wine, since you can always store an open bottle of white in the fridge. Some might suggest that doing so (with white wine) makes it too cold - if you agree, just use the wine preserver, keep the wine on your countertop, and use one of those foil sleeves (probably available at a store like Sur la Table) to cool down the wine when you're ready to drink it. (Store the sleeve in your freezer.) THey work fairly quickly. Cheers!

    1 Reply
    1. re: boredough
      r
      rchlst RE: boredough Nov 22, 2010 11:24 AM

      Thanks so much!! I'll check it out.

    2. w
      winefuhrer RE: rchlst Nov 22, 2010 11:59 AM

      Welcome...I really enjoy the page Robin Garr does

      http://www.wineloverspage.com/

      It is not really obnoxious or over-the-top

      1. SteveTimko RE: rchlst Nov 22, 2010 01:39 PM

        The most important thing isn't to read about wine, it's to taste wine. Find a good wine store or wine bar that offers a variety of wines, especially from good importers and good U.S. producers, and taste wine there to see what you like.
        Keep track of what you like and don't like. The wine store people might be able to describe the styles to help you make more choices.

        4 Replies
        1. re: SteveTimko
          p
          pantani RE: SteveTimko Nov 23, 2010 09:07 PM

          I agree tastimg wine is the best way to find out what you like and don't like, buying bottles is not.
          Ignore wine ratings they mean very little, if you must then visit cellartracker.com
          Finding what you don't like is probably the most important.
          Tasting can be done at wine stores, wine bars, restaraunts, wineries.
          I store leftover wine in splits which are small bottles you can buy at most wine stores (they will be sold with wine in them). No gadgets to mess with or break.

          1. re: pantani
            r
            RicRios RE: pantani Nov 25, 2010 08:51 AM

            " Finding what you don't like is probably the most important"

            I disagree, taste changes as discovery progresses.

            1. re: RicRios
              Bill Hunt RE: RicRios Dec 2, 2010 06:41 PM

              That is a great, and often overlooked point.

              As an example, my wife was a big fan of US Chard "fruit-bombs." They have their place, but lately, I have convinced her that FR Chards are wonderful. It took a few years, just handing her some great FR Chards, but now she has changed her choices, and has upped my wine budget! [Grin]

              Keep trying as many, as you can. What might not work tonight, with one producer, might work tomorrow from another. Just because a Sauvignon Blanc from ____, produced by ____ does nothing for you, do not turn your back on that varietal, or even that producer. Keep a very open mind.

              One can never know, and experience it all. Just keep tasting, and enjoy.

              Hunt

          2. re: SteveTimko
            Bill Hunt RE: SteveTimko Dec 2, 2010 06:49 PM

            I cannot agree more. Along those lines, find a wine shop near you, and talk to a good clerk. Talk about what you like, and what you do not like. If they listen, and are competent, they should be able to make useful suggestions. Stick with them, and become a regular. You can head to Trader Joe's, or Costco later on, once you have some great ideas. A good wine shop wants you as a regular, and should be willing to spend some time, listening, then recommending.

            If you really enjoy one, talk about that, to discover the "whys." Same for the ones that do nothing for you. Maybe it was the vintage, or the producer, or maybe just a varietal that does nothing for you. There are so very many variables, that one should not rule out a country, a region, a producer or a varietal, just based on one sample.

            Though I am much less a fan of Pinot Gris/Grigio, I keep at that varietal, and have found some good producers.

            My original start was picking up mixed cases of wine, and tasting, tasting, tasting. I kept notes and talked to the clerks often. It did not take THAT long, before I was filling my cellar with cases of particular wines, but I am always open, and will always discuss the wines for my dinner with the sommelier, or cellar-master, as wine/food pairings are a love of mine, and those folk should know the kitchen that night, better than I can. I also love to explore new regions, and new producers, so I am always open for suggestions. I seldom order a wine that I know well, unless I am hosting, and do not have the latitude to explore.

            Enjoy,

            Hunt

          3. s
            sedimental RE: rchlst Nov 27, 2010 03:11 PM

            Over 30 years ago, I started learning "one wine at a time". I started with Bordeaux. Read alot about it, used Robert Parkers tasting notes and gave my taste buds a workout! These days, you might try that approach with local wine (like maybe Napa Cabs), check tasting notes via the internet, try to educate your taste.Later, when you find something you like (a bit more expensive), buy a bottle or two and store them properly. Try them again in a year or two. It will help you to understand how wine is alive.

            As far as not finishing a bottle. My guess is that as you explore wine more and develop more of a taste for it....that might not be a problem in the future ;) But, at least you shouldn't be buying very expensive bottles to try at first, so cork it and enjoy it the second night, learn to cook with it, invite a friend over on the bottles that cost a bit more, if all else fails....learn to make vinegar!
            Cheers.

            1 Reply
            1. re: sedimental
              loratliff RE: sedimental Dec 8, 2010 08:47 AM

              Did you go broke starting with bordeaux? ;) That's my boyriend's wine of choice, so it's what I'm "starting with" too. Luckily, he's a good teacher, and we've had some superb wines!

              Your advice for using excess wine is great too—one of my favorite uses for a bottle or so that I don't drink is to boil pasta in it. Yum!

            2. b
              budnball RE: rchlst Nov 30, 2010 07:38 PM

              As a relative newby I understand the intimidation level of wine info. Here's what I did. a couple of freinds and I had a monthly series of wine tasting parties. No fancy food needed, pizza works well, some nuts some fruit and cheese and a price limit of $15 per bottle to start. Figure 1 bottle for each 4 guests. And balance reds and whites until you find some favs. You won't get French at that price but you can get an idea of what you like. Wine today is so much better on average than 20 or 30 years ago that is hard to get a really bad bottle unless it is corked. Also if you live near them, visit wineries and take some tastings. Wine flights at restaurants can be educational also. Have fun, it is only grape juice!

              1 Reply
              1. re: budnball
                SteveTimko RE: budnball Dec 1, 2010 06:16 AM

                World class muscadet (from the Loire Valley in France) can be had for $15 a bottle.
                Looking at K&L's Web site, I can see several nice bottles of wine from the Loire, the Rhone, Savoie and the Midi that can be had for $15 or less. All would be nice for beginners to try.

              2. Bill Hunt RE: rchlst Dec 2, 2010 06:35 PM

                I did not see it mentioned, but maybe I just missed it.

                For a nice intro and education to wine, I recommend Andrea Immer's (now Robinson) Great Wines Made Simple. She covers some important bases, and along the way, assigns "homework" in tasting to amplify the prose. Though her suggestions are now a tad dated, the ideas will hold, and if you were to copy her lists (usually at 2, or 3 price-points) and head to your wine shop, any good employee can find substitutes from their current lists.

                Befriend another couple and launch into that "homework." A 0.75 bottle will yield 4 full pours. For tastings, I get between 8 (liberal) and 12 glasses. Pick up a Vac-u-vin set with a couple of stoppers, for partial bottles, and refrigerate both whites and reds for later. You should get a week of storage with that system. There are other ways to "save" leftover wines, so this is not the only one.

                Get a set of good wine glasses. Do not over-chill your whites, and do not serve your reds too warm. Let's just say that the concept of "room temp" for reds was coined in Europe/UK, where "room temp" was not too much above my cellar temp. Cold whites will obfuscate the aromas and the tastes, and is common in the restaurant industry, where many do not want the patrons to actually taste the "house wines."

                Most of all, enter with an open mind, and enjoy. It is a never-ending journey, and one filled with great enjoyment.

                Hunt

                8 Replies
                1. re: Bill Hunt
                  boredough RE: Bill Hunt Dec 3, 2010 05:21 AM

                  I disagree about keeping open bottles of red in the fridge, where it is anywhere from 13-20 degrees too cold (depending on your fridge & which red wine). You can keep a Vac-u-vin bottle at room temperature (whatever that is, but hopefully not too warm), and use something like Rapid Ice (a foil & 'ice' sleeve that you keep in the freezer - Amazon sells them) to cool it down before drinking, should it need it. Rapid Ice works efficiently and more quickly than having to wait for too-cold wine to warm up. IMHO.

                  1. re: boredough
                    Bill Hunt RE: boredough Dec 6, 2010 07:58 PM

                    And, I disagree with you on the storage of red wines in the 'fridge. Of course, one would allow the wine to attain a warmer temp, but that should go, without saying.

                    Hunt

                    1. re: Bill Hunt
                      boredough RE: Bill Hunt Dec 7, 2010 05:23 AM

                      Then what's the point of a wine preservation system/device if you keep the bottle in the fridge? You could get a week's storage without it. But if you want the wine kept at room temperature, you need the wine preservation system. And might get longer storage out of it to boot.

                      1. re: boredough
                        Bill Hunt RE: boredough Dec 8, 2010 07:32 PM

                        Well, your first mistake is with "room temp." That was coined in Europe/UK, where "room temp" was about 60F, and not the 78F, in the USA.

                        If one wishes to retain wines for a longer time, they lower their cellar temp to accommodate that extra time, say 45F vs 55F.

                        You may use the storage system of your choice.

                        Good luck, and also good luck at serving your nice Bdx. at USA room temp.

                        Hunt

                        1. re: Bill Hunt
                          boredough RE: Bill Hunt Dec 9, 2010 05:33 AM

                          I understand your point, but my first message did say "room temperature, whatever that is, but hopefully not too warm" - having agreed with your statement about this issue for Europe/UK. Of course, wine should not be kept at 78ºF, but a kitchen counter is not generally near a radiator and one's judgment should be used as to where the bottle would be best kept (not by a window). My concern is that a properly calibrated refrigerator is generally too cold for red wine; a wine preservation system would not seem to add much, if any, time to a refrigerated wine's drinkability so I questioned its purpose. My conclusion was and is to use something like Rapid Ice to quickly cool down that bottle of Bordeaux. It seems to work more efficiently than waiting for my 40º wine to warm up. In the end, what matters to both you and me (& rchist) is whether the end result works & is pleasing to our individual tastes. Cheers!

                          1. re: boredough
                            Bill Hunt RE: boredough Dec 14, 2010 06:50 PM

                            In my case, I have a 'fridge, calibrated for my everyday, or left-over wine, and it's set to ~ 48F. That is where I place my left-overs, under Vac-u-vin stoppers. While I do not do control tests all that often, when I do, the reds, stored in the 'fridge under Vac-u-vin show very well, against a bottle of the same wine, at my cellar temp, 55F. Try it for yourself and please report your tests.

                            Good luck,

                            Hunt

                            1. re: Bill Hunt
                              boredough RE: Bill Hunt Dec 16, 2010 04:31 PM

                              Now I understand your position better. According to several sites, "ideal" refrigerator temperature is 35°-38° or 37º-41º (depending on the site) - with 41º being the general cut-off point for prevention of bacteria growth. My fridge hovers around 40º, which is why I prefer to keep my open bottles of red wine (Vac-u-vinned) at "room temperature", which for my kitchen counter is around 72º. (Never more than a few days, but could be for 7-10 days, if necessary.) It takes 10 minutes for my Rapid Ice to cool down this wine to drinkability. It would take much longer to warm it up, were it be be stored in my fridge. BUT, when you say "calibrated for my everyday, or left-over wine", I think you are referring to a wine storage unit, not a regular fridge used for food storage. It is unlikely - but not impossible - that rchist (OP) has already invested in a wine cooler, so advice should be with that in mind. OTOH, if you meant "everyday" to mean "everyday usage" (i.e. food storage), I'd be surprised if your milk hasn't soured. (I just mention that possibility in case I am misunderstanding your reply.) So....I would be happy to take you up on the comparison test, but I do not dispute that refrigerated Vac-u-vinned wine will be as drinkable as cellared wine. Just that it will be colder. ☺

                              1. re: boredough
                                Bill Hunt RE: boredough Dec 18, 2010 04:44 PM

                                Well, it is a regular 'fridge, but I keep it warmer, than the units in my kitchen. The upper 'fridge area is for wine and ales only. The freezer unit is normal, and is my overflow.

                                Hunt

                2. r
                  ReeseChiarlo RE: rchlst Dec 9, 2010 11:53 AM

                  Many wineshops, wine bars, retailers and even sometimes the chain stores offer weekly tastings, usually on a certain night of the week. Contact your local wine stores, or specialty stores and see if this is the case in your area. Its usually a nice and inexpensive way to sample several wines at one time, and meet others who are curious about wine as well.

                  As well many restaurants offer "wine flights" on their menus usually 3 tastes of different wines. This is also a great way to sample different wines. A friend of mine usually go and each get 2 different flights (usually = to about 1 glass of wine) and share them, by the time we are done between the two of us we tried 12 different wines in one seating, and only consumed 2 glasses of wine each in doing so.

                  I always use my iphone or a notebook to jot down some notes on each wines, even if I didnt care for them. The more you taste the more you understand your own pallet and what you like and dislike.

                  As well many wineries offer half bottles of wines. 350ml wich is equal to a little over 2 glasses. Not every store carries them, but a wine shop or speciatly store should be able to order them for you.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: ReeseChiarlo
                    Bill Hunt RE: ReeseChiarlo Dec 14, 2010 06:56 PM

                    Great suggestions.

                    I would also add doing chef's tasting menus, along with the "sommelier's pairings." Do not hesitate to ask the server what the elements of each wine are, that got them on that list. That alone should be worth the "price of admission."

                    I almost always go that route, and tell the server/sommelier, that there WILL be a "chalk talk," with each wine. Just did that at Restaurant Daniel last weekend, and really enjoyed the wines with each dish, plus the input from the sommelier. They even did a special list for a few deviations in the menu, and for the "additions." Great fun, and wines that might never have made my "radar screen."

                    Most of all, ENJOY!

                    Hunt

                    1. re: Bill Hunt
                      b
                      Betharu RE: Bill Hunt Dec 21, 2010 04:51 PM

                      Everyone's ideas are great - I will add a few. Keep in mind - I am in the "wine challenged" state of Pennsylvania - where the state controls the Wine and Spirits shoppes. So I am MOST envious of all of you folks that have a large selection of shops!

                      [1] Take classes - I have taken classes at a local university and a cooking school. The best way to learn about wine is to drink alot of it! Classes will help you learn what you like - and the instructors are very willing to guide you! Plus its a great way to meet people! Everyone becomes pretty friendly after a couple of pours!

                      [2] I second Andrea Immer's book - I have it and it very useful when starting out.

                      [3] Find friends who share your interest in wine. I am good friends with one couple, who are much more educated when it comes to wine than I. They are always willing to try something new on me. Its great - the wife likes whites and the hubby likes reds so I get the best of both worlds! When I first met them, I was scared to death to bring a bottle to their house - I knew so little! Now - whether I bring an Argentinian Malbec that I found on sale or the Cakebread Sauvignon Blanc that I love - I am in their league.

                      [4] Above all - PRACTICE-PRACTICE-PRACTICE! Like anything, appreciating wine is a learned skill! But the learning is ALOT of fun!

                      1. re: Betharu
                        b
                        budnball RE: Betharu Dec 22, 2010 03:13 AM

                        Wow, after 40 years in California, i had forgotten the concept of package stores and state control. Heck, we sell wine at gas stations.

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