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Questions for The Wine Diva

Do you have a question for Christine, not related to any of the current discussion topics? Reply to this message to start the conversation!
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ChefJon
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Re: Questions for The Wine Diva

Hi Christine, Welcome! These questions for the author threads usually prove to be the most popular. What a great resource that we can not only discuss your book but discuss it with you!

I really enjoyed reading your book (I actually have a bit to finish this week), and found it really refreshing and also full of practical, helpful information.

I love the wine world, because like the food world, it's impossible to be expert in everything. Even if you've got a good handle on a region or producer, there's always the new vintage and the evolution of those already bottled to be keeping an eye on.

Here's my question:
I work a lot with culinary and hospitality students who claim not to like wine or who only like sweet wines. It's important professionally for them to at least appreciate, if not love to taste, wine. But if I see one more wrenched face over a perfectly benign table wine I don't know what I'll do. How do you get someone who claims to not like wine to be able to taste and appreciate? What are some wines that are accessible to those who claim not to like it?
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ChocolateFiend
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Re: Questions for The Wine Diva

Hi Christine!

I, too, am enjoying your book! After taking the Morrell wine class earlier with BNU, I decided that I really wanted to have fun with wine. I live about 100 miles north of Duluth in a small town (after growing up in Chicago) and there is now, finally, a wine store about 50 miles away. But I discovered "Wine Creations" in Duluth. They sell "wine kits" of various wines. You then mix it, they do the heavy work and monitor the frementation process and after x number of weeks, you go back to bottle it. In fact I was there today, bottled a French Chardonnay. They have wine kits of varying quality but so far, I have not been disappointed. Is it my inexperience or are these decent wines?

njk
Chocolate Fiend
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The_Wine_Diva
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Re: Questions for The Wine Diva

It's no wonder kids today like sweet-ish wines because they grow up drinking sweet-tasting soft drinks and sweet snack foods. So as they move to expand their taste and try more "sophisticated" alternatives, like wine, they find wines too "dry".

So the answer is two fold:
1. The big-time California wine producer, Mondavi, hit it on the head when he tries to encourage young people to start off drinking wine WITH food, not as a drink by itself. Young people grow up, however, ingrained with the other way of drinking....having a soft drink or bottle of beer by itself. So that's usually holw they start off drinking wine. So I also encourage new users to save wine for the table. Don't start off drinking it as an "apertif" by itself. And don't "drink" it the way you would swallow big sips of soda or a beer, but SIP wine. That's the proper way. A few sips of wine and then a bite of food. Wine enhances the flavors of the food and the alcohol in the wine actually relaxes you a bit which helps you digest your meal better!

2. New users should start off with "fruitier" tasting white and red wines. Just as fruits like strawberries, raspberries, kiwis and bananas taste somewhat sweet when you enjoy then raw, certain varieties of grapes can have a more sweet-ish taste after they are fermented into wine. So when just starting out, don't test drive a Cabernet because it's not a fruit-forward red wine. Ignore Sauvignon Blanc for the same reason.

Here are some slightly sweet-ish wines to start with:
WHITES: Chardonnay's rich buttery, caramel aromas and flavors some fans describe as "buttered poppcorn" or a "butterscotch sundae". And add to that Pinot Gris fromm Oregon with its lush tropical fruit flavors. Wow, yummy.

REDS: Pinot Noir is a fruit-forward, soft, lush wine, and Merlot also has jammy flavors.

For those people who find it hard to "get into" wine. They should remember that before they stopped by Starbucks and were able order a double moccachino with cinammon, they probably started off with plain 'ol black coffe, and then moved along trying other styles of coffee.

It's the same with wine. The only way to learn about wine is to KEEP PULLING CORKS AND TRY AS MANY DIFFERENT STYLES OF WINE AS POSSIBLE. And just because you're not partial to one wine producer's Pinot Gris doesn't mean you won't like a Pinot Gris from another winemaker.....jsut as you may not like a particular dish at one restaurant and yet when you order it elsewhere it's great.

But I explain to people that just like they probably start with drinking black coffee and then move on to
A meal without wine is called breakfast!

The Wine Diva
Author & Wine Educator

www.thewinediva.com
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Re: Questions for The Wine Diva

Chocolate Fiend --
IT'S SIMPLY FANTASTIC THAT YOU DECIDED TO MAKE YOUR OWN WINE AFTER TAKING JUST ONE WINE COURSE.

The wine you are making IS good wine. You have the expertise of an "oenologist" (wine maker consultant) monitoring the fermentation process of your wine, or as it's called in French, "cuvee," and the firm sponsoring this is using modern technology, so you are the lucky one to be able to blend a wine to suit your own taste.

You decided to make a French style ("Old World") Chardonnay instead of a California ("New World)style Chardonnay. I also prefer the Old World style of Chardonnay because it is so food friendly. This is because unlike it's California cousin, these wines have more moderate alcohol levels, less pronounced oaky, vanilla flavors which can overpower the fruity flavors, and have a more refreshing quality (which is due to the level of acidity in the wine as it goes through fermentatiion).

So BRAVO. You are certainly a WINE DIVA in my way of thinking!
A meal without wine is called breakfast!

The Wine Diva
Author & Wine Educator

www.thewinediva.com
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ChefJon
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Re: Questions for The Wine Diva

Thanks, Christine, for your detailed responses and great advice. It's great to have you join the club this month! I'm sure the readers will keep you busy with their wine questions.

In the mean time, we had a question from a reader, Marilyn, a few months ago in our general Cooking, Food and Drink forum that I hope you'll tackle. How about some recommendations for wine to bring to a dinner party when you don't know the menu? I've been to some dinner parties where a gift of wine is quietly set aside and the hosts serve what they want. But I've been to others where whatever I bring is immediately uncorked and set on the table, regardless of how it works with the menu. Help, Wine Diva!
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Re: Questions for The Wine Diva



ChocolateFiend wrote:
Hi Christine!

I, too, am enjoying your book! After taking the Morrell wine class earlier with BNU, I decided that I really wanted to have fun with wine. I live about 100 miles north of Duluth in a small town (after growing up in Chicago) and there is now, finally, a wine store about 50 miles away. But I discovered "Wine Creations" in Duluth. They sell "wine kits" of various wines. You then mix it, they do the heavy work and monitor the frementation process and after x number of weeks, you go back to bottle it. In fact I was there today, bottled a French Chardonnay. They have wine kits of varying quality but so far, I have not been disappointed. Is it my inexperience or are these decent wines?

njk


Chocolate Fiend, this is really cool! Can you tell us more about it? I did something similar with beer at a place called Deja Brew. The beer was pretty good but the main attraction was the fun of making it and tasting what everyone else was bottling!
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cutetheta
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Re: Questions for The Wine Diva

Today while at B&N I happened to be in the magazine section and Food and Wine caught my eye because they had an article on 25 Pinot Noir recommendation. This got me thinking...


What wine related magazines would you recommend?
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The_Wine_Diva
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Re: Questions for The Wine Diva

I love DECANTER magazine published in England and The Quarterly Review of Wines written here in the US.
A meal without wine is called breakfast!

The Wine Diva
Author & Wine Educator

www.thewinediva.com
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The_Wine_Diva
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Re: Questions for The Wine Diva

I tell people not to expect the wine they bring to be served unless they have called ahead and gotten the OK from the host. Just as you wouldn't bring a dessert and expect it to be served unless you had called first.

Wine is really another food choice, not just a beverage, and when someone is cooking they have all the ingredients pre-planned. And have also thought out which wine would make their dishes shine.

If the host says by all means bring a bottle, then ask what is being served and bring a bottle that would be a good dinner partner. My food and wine pairing chapter gives foolproof tips on how to pair wine with foods based on ingredients and the cooking method used to prepare the dish. (Yes, the cooking method can point to the style of wine to pair with the dish! See pages 63-64 in my book.

Here are some of my suggestions for wines to bring to a dinner party or brunch:

PROM QUEEN
When in doubt bring Champagne or sparkling wine. A dinner turns into a dinner party with bubbly. And if you don't want to spring for pricey French Champagne, then look for these types of bubbly at about $10 a bottle that are fantastic alternatives: Cava from Spain, Prosecco from Italy and Cremant from France.

BLIND DATES
When you don't know what is being served and still hope your gift bottle will be served you need to bring what I call a "bridge" wine. A medium-bodied, easy drinking wine that can span the gap between light and heavy dishes. A white wine would be a Pinot Gris from Oregon and for a red you'll never go wrong with Pinot Noir or an Australian Shiraz.

SHOW OFFS
If your hosts are open to trying new things, or are wine lovers, then they will appreciate something other than Pinot Noir, Cabernet and Chardonnay. Here are some distinctive white and red wines to bring:
Whites: Albarino from Spain, Gruner Veltliner from Austria, Fallanghina from Italy
Reds: Tempranillo or Garnacha from Spain, Taurasi from Italy

SWEET INNOCENTS
Desssert wines finesse the question of trying to find a wine to go with the host's menu, and are out of the ordinary. Wines under $20 would be Oloroso Sherry from Spain, 10 year Tawny Port from Portugal and a host of other choices which you can find on page 159 in my book.
A meal without wine is called breakfast!

The Wine Diva
Author & Wine Educator

www.thewinediva.com
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Re: Questions for The Wine Diva

Hi Wine Diva, thanks for your advice. Very intresting.

ziki
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Re: Questions for The Wine Diva



The_Wine_Diva wrote:Wine is really another food choice, not just a beverage, and when someone is cooking they have all the ingredients pre-planned. And have also thought out which wine would make their dishes shine.




Awesome; I do not know how to make it to that level. I can say red and white and sweeter white and that is about that. How to make the leap to the next level I have no idea. The wines also keep changing.... (one advice you already gave: to drink many different wines)

...and how to choose a wine from which country, what area etc...that's a huge chapter of not-knowing for me.

ziki
very lost among bottles
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to Jon

a thought: Maybe bump the topics above the green line as we go along. I am in a threaded view and I have the cholocate topic totally mixed with the wine...

and.... I forgot to say a chocolate was good with that white wine (that I didn't know what it was, describe above)...but the chocolate was a good one and not too sweet, more bitter but no too bitter....jeeze I can't describe taste. The wine went almost better with the chocolate than the fishburger. Hmmm.. not sure what to make of it,I wish I were more aware..but at least I noticed some difference.

ziki
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ChocolateFiend
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Re: Questions for The Wine Diva

Chef Jon-

Sorry for the delay-- even thoughI retired last spring, this year's senior class manages to find me to ask for letters of recommendation for our local scholaships!

Anyway, I am sure Wine Creations is a franchise operation. One has been in Duluth MN about 3 years but just recently moved to a location where I found them after taking the Morrell Wine class with BNU. They offer a variety of wine kits, varying in price and I assume "quality" of wine. I have now mixed and bottled 6 different ones from inexpensive to one of their expensive "limited edition" type kits. If you have bottles, you can bring your own (you can reuse bottles) or they sell them. The kit includes all that is needed for the wine itself" the grape concentrate, yeast, stabilizer (?), any additions such as oak. You can also add more oak or sweetner or eliminate it (as I just did with the chardonnay). You can mix it at home or do it all there. There is a $50 site fee to use their equipment-which I do--and that includes disinfectant for bottles, labels, corks, shrink wrap around the cork, use of their bottler, corker, shrink wrap shrinker, and they do all the heavy work such as transfering the wine from carbold (sp?) to carbold or adding the additives. Depending on the kit, it is 4-8 weeks between mixing and bottling. Mixing takes about 20 minutes, bottling about 35 minutes. For most kits, you end up with 30 full bottles plus about 1/2 bottle which you get to drink that night with dinner! Although all can be enjoyed right away, they recommend letting some mellow for about 8 weeks.

So far I have made an auslese Riesling, an ice wine, raspberry white zin, a strawberry Riesling, a French Chardonnay, and an orange chocolate Port. The ice wine and the Port made only 15 full size bottles but I chose to bottle the ice wine in a traditional ice wine shaped bottle and the Port in 1/2 bottles.

I do this with a friend and we split the wine. You end up with a nice product-- I end up giving most away because I just have fun doing it!
Chocolate Fiend
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ChefJon
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Re: Questions for The Wine Diva

Wow, thanks for the detailed response, ChocolateFiend, it sounds like a fun hobby and a great business! Also a good way to gain some insight into the wines you know and love.
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krenea1
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Re: Questions for The Wine Diva

Have you ever tried Gallo - Cafe Zinfandel? I love it.
Karen Renea

Curiosity killed the cat but satisfaction brought it back
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Re: Questions for The Wine Diva

No I haven't. But I'll make it my wine tasting homework because I'm doing a corporate wine tasting event next month where I have to pick 15 wines under $12 a bottle for the group to taste. That's for your suggestion.

Christine
A meal without wine is called breakfast!

The Wine Diva
Author & Wine Educator

www.thewinediva.com
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ChefJon
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Re: Questions for The Wine Diva

What great homework! I hope you have a Vinho Verde on the list (can you recommend one?). Now that the weather is getting warmer here in NYC I'm going shopping for summer whites.
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Re: Questions for The Wine Diva

Vinho Verde is a refreshingly light spritzer style white wine for summer and it's always on my list.

For summer I also love these whites that are the $10 - $15 range:
Albarino and Rueda from Spain
Greco, Fiano, Fallanghina and Arneis from Italy
Pinot Blanc, Riesling and Pinot Gris from Alsace
Pinot Gris from Oregon
Riesling from Germany, California, South Africa and Australia
Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, California
Sauvignon Blanc from France where it's called Sancerre

and finally....Chardonnay from France called Chablis (a non oaky white that has zesty lemony acidity.
A meal without wine is called breakfast!

The Wine Diva
Author & Wine Educator

www.thewinediva.com
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ChocolateFiend
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Re: Questions for The Wine Diva

Christine-

When wine is decanted, does it matter what shape the decanter is?

Thanks!
Chocolate Fiend