Ever Wonder? - What's that Stuff at the Bottom of Your Wine Glass?

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Have you ever taken that last sip of wine only to find a nasty surprise either at the bottom of your glass or in your mouth? Sediment! It can be a very unpleasant discovery. But, luckily, it’s nothing to be worried about.

Sediment is a natural bi-product of the wine making process.

Wines are made from the juice of grapes. And, the skins of the grapes. And the seeds. And sometimes the stems. So, there are actually a lot of solids that are involved in wine making. That’s why, in some cases, you get some ugly particles in your wine glass.

It doesn’t just happen with red wines. White wines are susceptible too.

There’s a lot of chemistry involved in for formation of various types of sediment in wine. But, keeping it simple, these solids in your glass are mostly filtered out at the winery and are just microscopic when they leave the winery in the bottle.

But, age and temperature then act upon these microscopic particles to form the stuff you see in your wine glass.

Next time, I’ll get into a bit more detail on this topic. But, for now, don’t worry. This sediment is not harmful to consume. Cheers!

Behind the Cork™ - Duckhorn Chardonnay

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2017 Duckhorn Napa Valley Chardonnay ($19)

Here’s another ‘big name’ Chardonnay that’s worth checking out.

Dan and Margaret Duckhorn founded Duckhorn Vineyards in Napa Valley in 1976, which was one of the first 40 Napa Valley wineries. Keenly focused on producing excellent red wines, it wasn’t until 2012 that they produced their first Chardonnay.

Their 100% Chardonnay sees 10 months in French Oak barrels with 40% being new, 30% second vintage and 30% neutral. Although, 10% is held back and is kept in Stainless Steel.

Interestingly, before the barrel aging, 40% of the Chardonnay goes through Malolactic conversion.

This process yields a nicely balanced Chardonnay with nice aromas of nectarine and spices. They even describe it as having aromas of pineapple upside-down cake. And, yes, with that description, I’d agree.

On the palate this Chardonnay does have subtle oak that yields hints of vanilla yet still has some bright fruit and a touch of acidity.

So, this is yet another fine example of a Behind the Cork™ wine — it’s widely available and a really nice value for a Napa Valley Chardonnay. Give it a try! Cheers!

Ever Wonder? - What is 'Priming' or 'Seasoning' a Wine Glass?

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There is a process used by some restaurant wine servers and Sommeliers that, at first might seem a bit odd or even a bit pretentious. When you order a bottle of wine, they first pour a small amount of the wine in your glass. They’ll swirl it around inside the glass. Then, they’ll dump it! And, your first reaction may be “Hey! That’s my wine you’re dumping out!” But, there’s an explanation.

As you’ve probably guessed, this process is called ‘Priming’ or ‘Seasoning’ the wine glass. And, it’s done for a couple of reasons.

First, this may be done to ensure there are no other residual undesirable “aromas” in your wine glass. These could include odors of dish washing detergent, musty cabinets, cardboard boxes or wooden cabinets. Not the kind of aromas that your server wants you to experience with your first sip.

A second reason this may be done is simply to enhance the wine’s aroma, even in a perfectly clean and odor-free glass. This process of swirling the wine and dumping it coats the entire inside of the wine glass with the wine and fills the bowl with the wine’s aroma.

Both of these reasons for priming or seasoning your wine glass ensure that you get the optimal wine experience right from the start.

So, if you experience this process being used on the bottle of wine that you’ve ordered, don’t fret. You’re going to have a great wine experience. Cheers!

Behind the Cork™ - Sonoma-Cutrer Chardonnay

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2016 Sonoma-Cutrer Sonoma Coast Chardonnay ($19)

This Sonoma-Cutrer is one that is easy to pass-by on the wine aisle. It’s from a big producer and it’s widely availability. But, this is a solid wine. Which makes it perfect for a Behind the Cork™ feature.

The Sonoma Coast is producing a lot of very good wines and Chardonnay is one of the stars. It’s a great growing climate for this grape.

Sonoma-Cuter hand sorts their grapes to ensure only best fruit get processed and the leaves, stems and damaged fruit are removed. The whole clusters are pressed avoiding any skin contact or seeds that result in bitter tannin. The fermentation takes place in a combination of French oak barrels and stainless steel tanks.

To get the creamy smoothness of this 100% Chardonnay, it undergoes Malolactic conversion and is then aged sur-lies in a mixture of new, one-year old and neutral French oak.

This results in a Chardonnay with soft flavors of pear and peach, hints of vanilla and just a touch of acidity.

It’s a really good one! Cheers!

Ever Wonder? - What is the Best Way to Store an Opened Bottle of Wine?

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Last time we looked at a rather unorthodox way of storing an open bottle of wine — in the freezer. And then thawing it in the microwave. Well, that’s not the common advice.

Here’s some of the the more typical ways to store an opened bottle of wine. Even if you follow these steps they will only keep the wine good for a few days.

Re-Seal It

First, you need to re-seal the opened wine bottle either with the cork that you pulled out of the bottle or with a stopper. A stopper is the most convenient way because if you’ve ever tried to put a cork back in the bottle, it can be difficult. Especially if you try to put the same end back in. But don’t be tempted to put the top or ‘clean’ end into the bottle. It may be easier but you really don’t know how ‘clean’ that end was to start with. So, either put the original end or the cork back into the bottle or use another stopper. And, if the bottle was a twist-off, you’ll definitely want a stopper. The best stoppers are those that allow you to pump the air out of the bottle. That will ensure your wine doesn’t have too much exposure to air which leads to the wine going down-hill even more rapidly.

Keep It Cool

Once you’ve resealed the bottle, you’ll want to keep it cool. Don’t leave it out on the counter. Room-temperature and sunlight will quickly degrade the wine. And besides, like any perishable, it needs to be refrigerated after opening. Keeping it cold will slow the process of the wine’s degradation but, again, it’ll only keep for a few days. Then, just remember to take the cold bottle out of the refrigerator well before serving. For white wine, it probably needs to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to be at proper serving temperature. For reds, give them around an hour.

Using these simple steps should ensure that your opened bottle of wine will still be good for a few days after your first open it. As for the freezer and microwave, I’m not yet convinced. Cheers!