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Bordeaux, Burgundy and a gift for the boss

A friend sent me an email about buying a “nice bottle” of Bordeaux or Burgundy to give as a gift.  Of course vintage always matters in these regions, but without knowing what store he was shopping at and/or what was available to him, I tried to create a list as general as possible – without vintages.  Here are a few of my favorites (running about $35 to $125/bottle) – I would not be disappointed to receive a bottle from any of these producers, regardless of the vintage …
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Los Angeles Wine Classes – UCLA Extension the best place to take a wine class in L.A.

Looking for a great place to take a wine class from certified wine experts in Los Angeles?

UCLA Extension is the oldest wine education program in Los Angeles, dating back over 40 years!  The current instructors (Shelby Ledgerwood, Neil McNally, Paul Sherman, Patrick Comiskey and Giammario Villa) are certified by various international wine organizations.  Combined, they have over 125 years of experience working in the wine trade …

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Tannins & Bitterness in Wine

Tannins and bitterness are often difficult to separate and properly identify in wine.

Tannins contribute to two sensations on the palate – astringency (lack of water) and bitterness. (Please note the word: CONTRIBUTE.  There are other components in wine that also can enhance one, or both, sensations.)

Tannins are a type of polyphenol. Polyphenols are a small molecule that in wine, come primarily from the skins of the grape and/or from wood contact (wood barrels.) Tannins cause the sensation of astringency …

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Protecting red wine from oxygen during fermentation

Question:  How important is it to protect a red wine from oxygen during fermentation?

Answer:  Oxygen is a dual edged sword.  It can be both detrimental and beneficial to wine.

As long as the must is actively and aggressively fermenting, the CO2 being produced will keep the yeast in an oxygen deprived state (so it will produce alcohol) and protect the must/wine from oxygen ingress.  Typically punch downs, pump overs, delestage (if they are going to occur) occur with the highest frequency, and without too much worry, during active fermentation.  This is a key bit though …

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How to prepare for the Certified Specialist of Wine Exam (CSW)

Got questions about the Society of Wine Educators Certified Specialist of Wine Exam?  Wondering how much time it takes to prepare?

These are some general guidelines I give my students preparing for the CSW exam:

  • The CSW exam is solely based on the CSW Study Guide.  You absolutely must get a copy of this and study directly from it in order to pass the exam.
  • You should look at any exam for wine certification – as the conclusion of a wine study program.  It is a certification of the knowledge you have learned.  The knowledge should be the goal, not the exam itself.
  • Your success …

Green Corks

No, we’re not talking about green colored corks, but the fact that corks are more environmentally friendly (aka green) than alternative closures such as screwcaps and synthetics.  This makes sense when you think about where the products come from and how they are created (cork, screwcap, synthetic.)  For the details, the Price Waterhouse report is here: Cork Facts

In reading about this story I found myself on the Amorim cork website where there was (no surprise) many articles spouting the virtues of natural cork.  I readily admit, I do prefer/expect a cork finish for wines over $25 retail / to be aged 5+ years, but I also see many positive attributes in alternative closures.  It should not be a question of either/or …

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Why take tasting notes?

Robin Garr of 30 Second Wine Advisor says it so well – nothing to add:

“And just about every wine professional I know would agree that a strong tasting memory is one of the keys to training a good palate. The more you can remember about previous wines, the more effectively you can gauge each new wine you taste.”

Why Take Tasting Notes

I would like to buy a bottle of wine from a specific vintage to give many decades later as a gift. What wine should I buy?

This question usually goes like this:  “I want to buy a bottle of wine for my nephew who was just born, and give it to him when he is 21 years old.”  Or “I want to buy a bottle of wine from the year I was married and open it on my 25th anniversary.”

In both of these cases, you should be looking for a bottle of wine that will age for a substantial amount of time.  You want to look for a wine that has two of three natural preservatives in high amounts: tannin, acidity and/or residual sugar.

Bordeaux, Port and Barolo would all be excellent candidates but most importantly you should seek out something from …

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Fuissé or Fumé?

I was updating my wine list at the restaurant I manage and I’m a little confused….. is Pouilly-Fuissé mostly Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay?

Pouilly-Fuissé is a wine region in Burgundy and it is named after the two villages in the district, called Pouilly and Fuissé.  It is in the Maconnais sub-region of Burgundy, which is north of Beaujolais, and must be made from Chardonnay.

Pouilly-Fumé is a wine region in the Central Loire that is centered around the town of Pouilly-Sur-Loire.  The word fumé (think of smoke) was used when …

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Women choose wine

Review the results from this Gallup Poll to see where wine, beer and liquor consumption rates stand in the USA.

Wine hasn’t quite recovered its one time lead over beer (back in 2005 by 3 percentage points)but it still ranks highest for women in all age groups, as the alcoholic beverage of choice.  Overall, among those who consume alcohol, beer is the drink of choice at 41%, followed by wine at 32% and liquor at 21%.

Is wine the alcoholic beverage of choice for women overall?

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