We’ve organized this guide by suggesting wines for different types of occasions. Here are some parties that you might be invited to and the wines you need to bring.

For each occasion, we'll suggest four wines (both red and white). A single $ connotes prices from $0 - $20 and a double $$ covers prices $20 and above.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Things to Say to Show Off Your Wine Knowledge (Part 2 of 2)

Ok, onto Part 2 - we're gonna get a little more scientific.

The ripeness of the grape determines it’s levels of acidity and alcohol.

What happens when a grape gets direct sunlight and gets access to a lot of heat? It gets ripe. When it gets ripe, its sugar content increases. If you remember in your high school chemistry class, sugars are then converted to alcohol through fermentation. The higher the sugar content, the higher the alcohol level of the subsequent wine.

Conversely, the higher the sugar content of a grape, the lower its acidity will be. The inverse is also true, so areas that don’t get a lot of sun don’t create really ripe grapes, leading to more acidic wines.

Remember, the goal of any wine is to be as balanced as possible between sweet and acid. For those regions that either don’t get enough or get too much sun, their challenge is further exacerbated by having to control the ripeness of the grapes.

The third lesson is for the health nuts that read too much about antioxidants.

Did you know tannins are found in wine as well as tea? Did you know that tannins are the ingredient that make wine and tea great agents for antioxidants?

Tannins in wine come from the skin, so you’ll find tannins mainly in red wines. If you think about it, the juice from any grape is clear – it’s the amount of contact with the skins that give wine its color. Red wine is created by macerating the grape juice with the grape skins for a few days. It is this contact that leaves the red wine with tannins.

Great red wines that can be aged for decades typically are very tannic. It is the tannins that break down over the course of the bottle’s life to mellow the wine and allow the wine to incorporate over the years.

The fourth lesson is a freebie about a topic that is critical for wines but rarely considered.

50% of all corks are made from trees in Portugal. The trees are called Cork Trees.

And here’s one last review of a pet peeve.

Champagne is only made from the northern area of France called Champagne. All other wines that have bubbles are called sparkling wine.

(Be careful that someone doesn’t punch you in the nose for being smug while stating this; I lifted my right hand to slap my face just typing the statement.)


Wine is awesome. Drinking it is fun. Drinking it with friends is more fun. Drinking it with friends in cool situations is even more fun. Just remember that when you are going to a party – wine is meant to bring people together. Use the wine to create new bonds with people and new memories with old friends. Now go out there and drink some wine!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Things to Say to Show Off Your Wine Knowledge (Part 1 of 2)

Now that you’ve established that you’re the master of your wine domain (or at least know everything that’s been written on the back label of your purchased wine), it’s fair time to wow and impress the crowd at your general wine knowledge.

NOTE: the first thing to realize when you want to make statements about things in which you don’t have depth of knowledge BUT you still want to sound knowledgeable is that your statements must be firm and definitive YET never lead to follow up questions, like, “Why?” Or find friends who passively listen and tend to nod their heads to any verbal communication directed at them.

Let me give you a quick glossary of basic terms

Terrior: the dirt the wine was grown
Vintage: year the wine was made
Varietal: type of grape
Micro-climate: micro-climate

Okay, now you’re ready to talk wine with about 99% of the population in the world. Other than the wine maker’s (sorry, one more: vintner = winemaker) style, the factors that lead to a wine’s quality and taste are, you guessed it: terrior, vintage, varietal, and micro-climate. Leading to the first statement you can make about wine:

Other than the vintner’s (Oh, you don’t know what that is? It’s the winemaker.) style, the main factors that lead to a wine’s quality and taste are terrior, vintage, varietal, and micro-climate.

I suppose this is an obvious statement, but it sounds impressive, yeah? And really, it’s so innocuous and general, no one can argue with it.

Onto the second lesson for next time: we’re going to get into a little chemistry here, so put your lab goggles on.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

How to Bring the Wine to the Party and Present It

Okay, so now you have your bottle in tow. You’re ready to bask in the glow of gratitude and awe from your hosts. But you need to give the wine deference as well and carry it with its due respect. Treat the bottle of wine like it was your baby. Would you carry your baby around by its neck? No, you would cradle your baby gently in your arm. So don’t grab and hold your wine bottles by the neck either. Show those child rearing skills and cradle that bottle of wine!

When you present the wine, do it with a flourish so the host knows that you made a serious decision in choosing this particular bottle of wine for them and this occasion. Indeed, this was not a flippant choice, so carry yourself and the wine accordingly.

Also, understand that wine is volatile. Try not to jostle it too much. Repeated and long-term jarring can affect the wine significantly. Sounds sissy but it’s true. So be gentle with the wine.

Know something about the wine that you’re buying. Basically, read the back of the label. You can get a lot of information from there to impress your friends. (And seriously, who reads the back of a wine bottle anyways?)

Things you can learn from the back of the wine bottle:

The different grapes in the wine
“Did you know that this blend is unique because it has 80% Caberet Sauvignon and 20% Syrah?”

The climate of that given year
“It was particularly cool in Napa in ’05 so they had to harvest earlier that year.”

Characteristics of the wine
“You should be able to immediately smell the strawberries and stewed plums on the nose.”

The winemaker’s history and style
“The winemaker studied in Burgundy for a few years and that affected how he makes his wines.”

You are starting to sound like you know something!

(On a side note, hold wine glasses properly. This is a pet peeve of mine, and hopefully it will anger you too when you see people hold wine glasses incorrectly. All you need to know now is that you hold the wine glass by the stem. That’s why it’s there. Don’t hold the bowl of the glass – that warms the wine. So please, if I haven’t taught you anything else here, in the very least, hold the wine glass correctly. Please.)