Reviews in Category: Wine Basics (Clear Filter)

Chilling Out: Wine Serving Temperatures

Date August 3, 2011 | Chuck | Editorials & Wine Basics

Regardless of the wine you're serving, the temperature should be warm enough to allow the natural flavours and aromas to shine, yet cold enough to be refreshing and subdue some overly eager tannins and perceived heat from a wine with a higher alcohol content. Read on to find out the ideal serving temperature for your favourite wine.

Fact: Most people drink their reds too warm and their whites too cold. We've said this before: "drink what you like". I'll add to it and say "drink what you like, and how you like it". If you've been drinking your whites straight out of the freezer in a chilled glass for years, there's probably a good reason for it: that's how you like it. To that I'll say: Freeze on!


If your Red is Too Warm:

  • It may taste unbalanced
  • You'll feel more heat from the alcohol
  • Tannins could overpower the fruit

If your White is too Cold:

  • Fruit flavours will be muted
  • Acids may be sharper
  • Bitterness may be emphasized

If your Sparkling is too Warm:

  • It will erupt from the bottle on opening and you'll lose a good portion
  • The above point is sad enough


Average Fridge Temperature: 3°C (38°F)

Average Room Temperature: 20°C to 25°C (68°F to 77°F)


Here's our table of suggested serving temperatures

Wine Style Celsius Fahrenheit
Sparkling & Dessert Champagne, Prosecco, Ice Wine 5-8 40-45
Light-Medium Bodied Whites Sauvignon Blanc, Soave, Viognier Pinot Grigio 10-13 50-55
Rosé White Zinfandel 10-13 50-55
Light Bodied Reds Pinot Noir, Beaujolais, Gamay 14-16 57-60
Full Bodied Whites Chardonnay, Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Grigio 14-16 57-60
Medium-Full Bodied Reds Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Zinfandel, Malbec, Chianti 16-20 60-68


Tip: a bottle sitting in an ice bucket for 20 minutes will drop about 10°C (20°F)

Bottle Language - Français, Deutsch, Italiano, Español

Date May 21, 2008 | Chuck | Editorials & Wine Basics

Here's a quick translation table for a few common words you'll undoubtedly see while cruising the international wine racks at your local bodega :)

English French Italian
red rouge rosso
white blanc bianco
blush rosé rosato
dry dec secco
sweet doux dolce
sparkling pétillant spumante
English German Spanish
red rot tinto
white weiss bianco
blush bleichert rosado
dry trocken seco
sweet süss dulce
sparkling spritzig espumoso

The Basics of Organic Wine

Date March 21, 2008 | Chuck | Editorials & Wine Basics

From reading industry magazines and trolling the wine shelves, one will notice a few bottles with a new designation, "Organic Wine" or "Made from Organic Grapes". What does this really mean? Is the wine better for it? Is 'regular' wine unhealthy? Read on... There aren't any global standards for making organic wine. Sometimes not even country-wide standards. Therefore it's usually the growers who take it upon themselves to adhere to a standard set of rules created by a local independent regulatory body to certify their grapes and practices as organic.


Question: What are the main steps a winemaker would follow to certify his or her wine as organic? Answer(s):
  • Do not use synthetic pesticides, fertilizers or herbicides.
  • Limit or eliminate the use of copper sulphite and prefer a canopy rig to promote airflow over and between vines.
  • Limit or eliminate the use of sulphur dioxide to prevent oxidation.
  • Plant grass in the vine rows to battle weeds and prevent earth erosion.
  • Use natural products to clean all equipment.
  • Use wild or ambient yeast.
  • Keep filtration to a minimum, or not do it at all.
  • Keep your vineyard organic for 3 years before labeling wine as organic.


Question: Is the wine better for it? Answer(s): It's truly hard to tell since many old-world wineries have been growing organic for many years but don't go through all the extra trouble (and red tape) of having their wines reviewed and certified.


Question: Is ‘regular' wine unhealthy compared to organic wine? Answer(s): Absolutely not. Wine (of all kinds) has been touted for years as having health benefits. In terms of pesticide use, the agents used are regulated by health authorities and have no discernable affect to humans. Some people are more sensitive to chemicals than others and should take precautions as necessary, but that's nothing specific to wine.


Question: If the differences in taste are negligible, why should I choose organic wine? Answer(s): The main reason to buy organic wine (or anything organic for that matter) is that it's more environmentally responsible.


Question: How much of the world's wine today is certified as organic? Answer(s): 1% or less, but as the market demand grows (which it is) we will soon start seeing more and more wines going through certification.


Question: Does organic wine still have sulphites? I think that's what gives me headaches. Answer(s): Some people do believe that wine (specifically red wine) gives them headaches due to the sulphite levels, and I don't debate that fact one bit. All wines contain sulphites as it's a naturally occurring substance while in fermentation. Organic wines do however contain LESS sulphites (not none completely) and therefore may not trigger a headache in some.

What's in that Bottle. What’s on the Label.

Date March 6, 2008 | Sean | Editorials & Wine Basics

The big guys are very protective of their brands and the big dollars they command for a bottle that come along with it. That's in its self isn't really news, just ask anyone at BMW, Prada or Armani. But here is a little gem about the wine industry big boys. It's not unusual for them to press too much juice, or press a second lot of juice. There could be any number of reasons why they decide not to use the juice. But some have speculated they don't want to flood the market with too much premium product so not to devalue their brand. We don't know about this for sure, but here is what we do know. The excess juice is sometimes sold to another winery in secret or wine is made by the winery and marketed under a different label. Here's where it gets interesting. These wines are often nearly identical to their much more premium relatives, but can cost up to half the price. It's hard to know when this will happen, or where grapes come from. But sometimes the rumors are just so strong that word gets out, and sometimes the writing is on the wall. And we found one (kinda)! In the case of Tangley Oaks and Rutherford Hill it's not a big secret that they are owned by the same company. The Tangley Oaks Merlot from 2003 is exceptionally good stuff. It shares a lot of characteristics from it's big brother Rutherford Hill 2003 Merlot which is $10 more a bottle. This is likely a second pressing from the same vineyard, or a blend. But who cares! At $17.95 a bottle this is simply too good to pass bye. See the Tangley Oaks Review. Rutherford Hill Label

Back of the Door Wine

Date February 18, 2008 | Sean | Editorials & Wine Basics

So you have a couple of special bottles you've been hiding for that perfect dinner. Dinner is served and you break out this gem you've been so patiently waiting for. The wine was great, but went really fast. People are enjoying the food, conversation and the wine. Next your guests shout "Grab another bottle, that first one was great!". This is a critical moment for your little collection you've been selectively building for the last couple of months. Go ahead and grab something good, but not your best. After having a meal and the first bottle of wine most people can't differentiate between good and great wine. Every collection, no matter the size should have Back of the Door bottles. These are the bottles that are the 3rd and 4th soldiers in line after the first great bottle of wine. You don't want to wake up the next morning and realize your 4 bottles down and $80 went with it. In the end, no one really remembered the great subsequent bottles. Just make sure the first one really counts.

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