Are There Questions About Wine You’re Afraid to Ask?

Posted on: February 23rd, 2015 by

wine questions

In the spirit of bringing you Wine Without Worry, over on msn.com I have answered all the questions rolling around in your head you might be reticent to voice in mixed company. Speak up, I implore you! The queries below originate from enthusiastic, curious wine drinkers looking to learn the basics and beyond. And please tell me what you’d like to know about in the comments.

Questions asked:

  1. Is bringing your own bottle of wine to a restaurant really OK? Even though there’s a corkage fee?
  2. Where is the best place to keep wine in your house?
  3. When it comes to food and wine pairing, is it always white wine for fish?
  4. When a label says “hint of chocolate or raspberries“, what does that mean?
  5. When ordering wine at a restaurant, how do you look like you know what you’re doing?
  6. Is there a rule of thumb as to what temperature to serve red or white wine?
  7. Are all wines good for aging?
  8. What’s a good wine to bring to a party?
  9. How do you know if a wine is really vegetarian?
  10. The thought of going wine tasting makes me anxious. What do I need to know before I go?

THE ANSWERS

Note on the photo via Wikipedia: After the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers ended, I was at Goose & Gander in St. Helena having a cocktail. Scrolling through Facebook, I saw that Alder Yarrow of Vinography was giving a presentation about his book, “The Essence of Wine“, at the public library. I ran over there and grabbed a seat in the back. When it came time for questions, the “Twenty Questions” image came on the screen. My Google image search for “questions” just happened to pull it up as well. Two disclaimers: that kid is a minor and can ask questions about wine but is too young to drink it. And I am aware that I only have ten, not twenty, questions listed.

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12 Responses

  1. I often struggle with bringing my own bottle to a restaurant. The suggestion to make sure it isn’t already on the restaurants wine list is a good one. Also offering the Sommelier a taste is a great idea.

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  2. denise says:

    Ooh, I really like the 20 minute trick for red and white wines, right before serving. Love tips like these — easy to remember, and forever handy!! Congrats again on spreading the good word to the masses on MSN!

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  3. Kimberly Bruellisauer says:

    I’m not a wine drinker, but have found a recipe that requires wine. How do I know what kind to get or are there any substitutions I can use?

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    • Jameson Fink says:

      Kimberly,

      That’s an excellent question. Just avoid cooking wine. Which is awful wine diluted with salt. Go with something that is of decent quality and inexpensive. Get help at a wine shop; most employees there take home the best cheap wines and know them well. You can substitute any red for red or white for white. Just make sure you’re not using a sweet wine where a dry one is called for or vice-versa.

      Best,

      Jameson

      Best,

      Jameson

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  4. Trudy Bope says:

    Are ALL wines blends of different grapes, or are there some wines that are made from just one type of grape?

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    • Jameson Fink says:

      Trudy,

      Both are the case. And even wines labeled “Cabernet Sauvignon” (for example) are allowed to have a certain percentage of other grapes in the blend and still be able to be labeled with the one grape on the front label. (It’s often 75-80% minimum Cabernet.)

      Best,

      Jameson

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  5. Kate says:

    Hello! I’m trying to learn everything I can about wine so I loved reading your article on MSN. Here’s my question – is there a hard rule on letting a bottle of wine ‘breathe’ after you open it? (I never seem to have the patience).

    Thank you,
    Kate

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    • Jameson Fink says:

      Kate,

      Thanks for the kudos on my article! Most red wines, even inexpensive ones, do tend to improve after being open for 30 minutes or so. There’s no hard rule but if you have a clean glass pitcher (don’t need a fancy decanter), first open a bottle of red and taste it immediately. Then pour it into the pitcher, come back in a half hour, and see how its changed. Usually a wine will mellow out a bit; not be as aggressive. It “relaxes”.

      Best,

      Jameson

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  6. Margaret Hay says:

    I much prefer red wine to white [unless it is very dry]. But why should a Merlot give me a headache when other reds do not. It can’t be to do with quantity so what is an a Merlot that is not in others?
    Thanks
    Margaret

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    • Jameson Fink says:

      Margaret,

      Red wines have more histamines; it could be a bad reaction to those. But I’m not sure why Merlot would be more of culprit than other grapes.

      Best,

      Jameson

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