How To: Select-A-Wine

Vinted on November 25, 2007 binned in wine how to

Executive summary: Leave me a comment on this post with your special event / dinner / what-have-you, and I will respond back with a wine suggestion to match, no strings attached. If you like it, spread the word…

“Will this red really go with Aunt Martha’s roast chicken and cloves…?”

Have you ever been in a pinch for selecting the right bottle of wine for a given occasion? Or just been frustrated by walking the isles in a supermarket or wine store, staring at the seemingly endless rows of bottles and wondering “what the hell is all of this stuff… I just want to know what goes with [insert dinner menu here]??!?

I certainly have – in fact, it’s moments like those that sent me on the path to ‘wine geekdom’. One day long ago, while staring down the intimidating rows of French and CA wines, I made a pact with myself – I was determined that I would “lick this wine thing” and turn it into something that I enjoyed, instead of something that made me feel like running timidly out of the liquor store door.

There are hundreds of tools and articles to help match food & wine, but these can only take you so far, and rarely (if ever) describe the exact situation you may have when you’re facing a a tough food & wine match, or one of those hot-date-night-gotta-get-right scenarios.

So… I’ve been thinking that it would be fun to help others on their quest for the right wine pairings for their given situation, and to use my newfound wine powers for the purpose of good, justice league style (just without the cape & tights).

So – I invite any of who stumble onto this blog to drop me a comment describing your situation/event/meal plan/etc., and I will respond back my recommendations on the style of wine (and, if possible, specific wines that have served me well in similar situations in the past).

Who knows – together we might build an impressive mini-library of real-world wine pairing experiences! And the worst-case scenario is that you get to try something new while tapping into my wine experience and knowledge (at no expense to you, and without having to take all of those damn certifications!).

Cheers, and happy pairing!



Wheel of Misfortune OR "Screw it & pass the Bubbly!"

Vinted on November 24, 2007 binned in Uncategorized

I’ve posted previously about my take on the “main” (aka internationally-recognized) streams of wine certification. If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to take one of the certification exams, you should check out the World Wine Challenge game that I stumbled upon recently.

It’s a simple flash game – a) spin the wheel, b) answer the question, and c) unless you’ve done some hard-core wine studying, prepare to become the wheel’s b*tch. The questions are reasonably tough – more difficult than most of the questions in the WSET Intermediate certification exam, and almost consistently as tricky as those in the Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) exam.

How did I do? Not as well as I should have considering how recently I passed the WSET Advanced and CSW exams. So… I said screw it and decided to drink some wine instead (back to the old-fashioned wine study method!).

For those times that you say “Screw it! Let’s have a drink…” this holiday season, I advise you not to forget the Bubbly (aka sparkling wine). Here in the Northeast, when the weather gets cooler we start to gravitate towards the heavy, alcoholic, and very red wine styles to give our insides that warm-and-fuzzy feeling. So we tend to forget how awesome it is having a bottle of bubbly around for the holidays.

My buddy Jason has recently penned a list of his holiday fizz favorites for Main Line magazine. A snippet from his picks are below (click to enlarge). If you’re in the mood to splurge, I highly suggest “La Grande Dame” (if you’re also in the Philly area, I also highly suggest that you e-mail me when you open it!).




Give us free! – Part II

Vinted on November 23, 2007 binned in pennsylvania

Some of you out there may recall my previous posting on efforts in the wine world to provide more equitable wine sales to consumers throughout the U.S. For the uninitiated, or those that are clever and/or fortunate enough to live in States that do not restrict wine sales: I live in PA, which houses one of the largest and most anachronistic 3-tier wine sales systems in the country; the end result being that to obtain a wine I really want, I either

  1. have to buy it from a state-run liquor store (assuming the carry it, since they limit choice to what they can buy most cheaply) or
  2. if not available directly in the store, special-order it so that it is shipped to the store (and not to me), paying an upcharge to the PLCB for the “privilege” or
  3. drive to DE and buy from their more-competitively-priced, larger, and all-around supieror selection (technically this is a crime, and is also my preferred method).

In fairness, I should point out that it’s not in all cases that the PLCB has the highest prices for wines. It’s only in most cases, due mostly to the added taxes. And, as fellow PA blogger David McWherter pointed out when he did some comparison shopping on PLCB v. non-PLCB wine prices, price is not the only obstacle to PA wine-lovers created by the PLCB:

  • Only in one case did the PLCB have the best price available. In about half the wines, the PLCB was competitive — within 10% of the best price available, but the other half, the prices were significantly higher. If you have to buy your wine, buy it when you’re not in Pennsylvania. You’ll get a better selection and (if you look for it) a better price. Of course, almost NONE of the wines listed above could actually be purchased at a PLCB store near me, even though I could buy those wines online if I lived in Ohio.
    Full article here.

I’ve recently been checking out another gem of a web resource in the fight against all of this monopolistic madness – the Wine Without Borders Blog. Check it out – and, if you suffer in a state with Communist practices like mine, consider donating to their cause!




Vinted on November 18, 2007 binned in wine tips

If you’ve not been living like a monastic hermit, and have been listening to any form of news lately, you’ve likely come across any number of news stories related to Resveratrol, a substance found in wine (mostly red).

Resveratrol, depending on which story you’re reading at the time, is claimed to have antioxidant, anti-cancer, and / or anti-aging properties, and a number of supplements containing various amounts of the substance have hit the marketplace.

Besides the substance itself as yet being totally unregulated, most of the hype about Resveratrol stems from studies that have been conducted on mice. Mice, to the best of my knowledge, are not avid wine drinkers (or I suppose it’s possible a mouse drinks some in a Robert Burns poem somewhere… or maybe in a Jethro Tull song inspired by Burns…). So – if you pop Resveratrol pills, chances are you won’t know how much of the stuff you’re getting, but that doesn’t matter anyway since no one knows for sure at what amounts Resveratrol provides benefits to humans (I’m assuming no mice are reading this blog – if they are, then we’ve got deeper problems than imbibing unregulated amounts of red wine substances…).

I have actually heard of people who have tried to add red wine to their diets specifically to increase their intake of Resveratrol. There is a problem with this strategy – Resveratrol amounts are measured in μg (aka, micrograms). A microgram is 1/1,000,000th of a gram. I’m not sure exactly how much that is, but I am sure that it’s not exactly ultra-concentrated amounts of the stuff. So by any measure, you’d need to drink a sh*tload of red wine to match the similar amounts of Resveratrol that have been injected into these poor mice.

Now, considering the detriments of pounding back more than 3 drinks a day, you should probably forget about going with the increased red wine route just to try to get any health benefits out of the modicum of the resulting Resveratrol increase. My penchant for hefty red wines (as well as my inclination to suck back as much of the really good stuff as possibly when attending industry tastings) not withstanding, I’d humbly offer that moderation is the key – you’ll enjoy *some* health benefits, and will probably live longer than if you’d pounded back the heavy Resveratrol wine amounts anyway!




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