Archive for the 'reader mail' Category

What’s a go-to supermarket wine? [Reader mail]

Heading to visit a non-wine friend who graciously offered to pick something up for us. I don’t know the market in Florida and she didn’t indicate that she wanted to go to a specialty shop (that’s fine–not everyone can take our habit as seriously as we do). So what’s the best I could ask her to pick up at a supermarket?

It is generous of your friend to give you such a warm, Florida welcome. But it is really hard to know what’s at the store she is going to as the selection could range from dire to quite acceptable. Maybe try a throwing out a Champagne name since there are some good ones that may be available and, at least, it will add to the celebratory air. Or a domestic sparkler, such as Roederer Estate? Of course, it depends what you like or are in the mood for, too.

Perhaps the best idea is carefully put a nice bottle in your checked luggage. It will get a tossed around in transit, obviously, so make it still and make it young. Also, when visiting a different state, I always like to check out wine shops to see what their selection and pricing is like. Sometimes I find wines that I don’t see a lot at home. And when you’re on the ground, you might have a better idea of what your dinner plans are or what the weather is going to be to make a great selection. So put a shop on your first day’s itinerary, if you can.

Why is a wine flight called a flight? [reader mail]

Reader question: Why is a flight of wines called a “flight”?

It’s tempting to say that the other names really didn’t take off.

But, in reality, a flight is a grouping of similar objects, like a flight of stairs or a flight of geese. Thus the same term applies to cabernets, pinots, or other small pours of wine, grouped together.

Are you happy with the term?

Corked wine etiquette [reader mail]

Laurie comments:

Would love to start a conversation on Thanksgiving wine etiquette. What do you do when a guest brings a wine to dinner telling you it is special large format bottle, given by friends, saved for the occassion? Although I didn’t mind pouring the wine (quite different from what I would usually pair with the meal), the wine was corked and my husband and I seemed to be the only ones who noticed. Can I point out that it is corked and suggest that we open my wine, or do I have to grin and bear it?

This could easily descend into a lose-lose situation, as Laurie depicts: either the hosts stoically endure bad wine or the guest is possibly offended that the special wine somehow doesn’t pass muster.

However, I see two ways out. You could seize the opportunity as a “teachable moment” to talk about cork, the bark of quercus suber, and 2,4,6-trichloroanisole (TCA), the cause of cork taint. Or, more discretely, bring out another set of glasses and pour another wine for whoever was interested in making a side-by-side comparison of two wines. Then you could enjoy the untainted wine while not overtly dumping out the corked wine. This seems especially acceptable at Thanksgiving when there are presumably multiple bottles open for the big feast (but certainly can be done at other times too since few guests would object to trying more wines).

What do others think?

Champagne grapes don’t make Champagne [reader mail]

Dear Dr. Vino,

I just discovered that champagne grapes are really tasty. I bet they would pair well with champagne…

Do they make Champagne or is that a marketing thing?


It’s a marketing thing. Those sweet, pea-sized grapes that usually appear as a garnish (or in soft focus on greeting cards next to cheese and a glass of wine) are actually black Corinth grapes. When dried, they produce something confusingly called Zante currants.

Champagne almost always comes from Chardonnay and/or Pinot Noir and/or Pinot Meunier grapes. And it comes from the Champagne region, which, as far as Dr. Vino operatives have ascertained, has zero acres of black Corinth grapes.

What do to with wine flotsam and jetsam? [reader mail]

wine_floatiesReader Ben writes in:

Floaters in wine.

How do you get them out? A finger? A spoon? Spit out the first sip? You’ve had that experience, haven’t you, of seeing a host of small floating objects on the surface of a glass of wine, usually just bits of cork, but sometimes strange looking pieces of “dust”… Anyway, I thought it could be kind of a funny little thing. And I am frankly curious as to the best approach!

I just swallow them for extra fiber! Okay, not really. I usually either try to drink around any floaties or swirl/tip the glass to get the bit of cork onto the side of the glass and out of play. What do you do?

Which wine would you take as a gift overseas?

Dear Dr. Vino,

If you had to take a bottle of American wine to Bulgaria that reflects the most recent trend in American winemaking, what would that bottle be? I want to take a bottle to my key participant in my academic study (who is one of the best winemakers in Bulgaria) when I head out next month to the wild Balkans. If this is an impossible question to answer, forgive my boldness (& ignorance) and please ignore it!

Impossible–never! It’s a great question, actually. I thought about American wines recently for a piece that I contributed to on about ten independent wines from the good ole US of A. I’d probably take one of those. Many of them actually run counter to the trend in higher alcohol levels so I’d point out that they are, in fact, anti-trendy, or the beginning of a new trend, perhaps. And then maybe bring a Turley that I’m trying to get rid of just for laffs.

What about you? Which wine would you bring if you were in this reader’s shoes?

Impossible food wine pairings: breakfast for dinner!

From a reader:

So we went nuts and had breakfast for dinner. Poached eggs for the wife, fried eggs for me. Hash browns, turkey bacon. A little tomatillo salsa for me, on the eggs.

Let’s rule out champagne or mimosas. What wine do you have with breakfast, when you’re not eating it in the a.m.?

It’s an interesting question. But I find this pairing to be driven more by what’s on the plate than by the time of day. So why rule out Champagne? It might just make this…possible! Hit the comments with your thoughts!

Image: istockphoto with permission

Tonight: cute guys, not sure. Attractive wines, yes.

This just in. Any thoughts?

I’m interested in attending Dr. Vino’s holiday wine picks at the new Astor Center, this Friday, Dec. 14th. Can you tell me how many men usually attend? And are there mostly singles there? If so, what’s the age range?
Thank you,

Two tickets left for purchase. See many of you there!

Friday, Dec 14, 6:30 – 8:00 PM, 23 E. 4th Street (at Lafayette, above Astor Wine & Spirits)


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