Can Drinking Old Wine Make You Sick?

It is said that wine can still taste OK 3-5 days after opening the bottle if kept refrigerated. But is it bad for your health? Can drinking old wine make you sick?

Well, you aren’t the only one asking this.

It’s one of the first questions that come from people who don’t really know the finer aspects of wine making, the storage of wine, and preservation. It is very often that people come across an opened bottle of wine that has not been consumed in some days and the natural question arises: is it safe to consume old wine?

The straight answer is yes, it is considerably safe to consume wine that has been unused. The first logic behind this answer is that wine is a preservative itself and some wines like port taste better as they age. However, there are a few pointers you can keep in mind to check before consuming old wine.

can drinking old wine make you sick




How to check if old wine is still OK to drink

It is really easy to check if the old wine you’ve been slow to finish is actually OK for drinking. Here is what you can do.

Firstly, check the smell of the wine. If an old wine has gone bad and is no longer fit for consumption, it will have a peculiar, funny smell to it. This rancid odor, akin to what you would expect to come off a wet cardboard, is easily detectable and if you do not smell any of the odd smells from your wine, you are good to go and the wine is really fine.

Another pointer to check before consuming old wine is to anylize the wine in a clear glass. An uncharacteristic coloring of the wine indicates that it has been exposed to too much air for too much time and as such, you should refrain from consuming it. In particular, red wine will turn more of a brownish color.

Additionally, check for bubbles in the wine. If the wine is not meant to be a bubbly wine, the presence of bubbles as you pour out the wine is a cause for concern and you should not consume that wine.

Consuming old wine does not necessarily make you sick. Oxidized wine might taste off and have too much of a sour character, but it shouldn’t actually make you sick unless it’s very old. Still, you’ll want to test your wine on these pointers before consuming old wine.




Why You Shouldn’t Store Wine in a Regular Refrigerator

Is there anything wrong with storing wine in your refrigerator next to your milk, eggs, the rest of your food? This is one question most people will always ask, both new and experienced drinkers. So should you keep your wine in your regular refrigerator? The simple answer is no. Although it only sounds logical to have your bottles stored in a refrigerator, as you might with beer or coke, it is important to understand that a typical fridge at home doesn’t offer the optimum condition that are best for storing wine. Here is all you need to know.

What’s Wrong With a Regular Refrigerator for Storing Wine?

You need to understand that a fridge will maintain a chilly 35 to 38 F temperature. This is just a tiny bit above freezing, and is great for preserving most food without damaging it. But this is far too cool to store wine for any length of time.

What also makes it unsuitable is because it only maintains relatively low level of humidity, mostly in a range of 30%.




don't store wine in a regular refrigerator

What are Ideal Wine Storage Conditions?

Your wine should always be stored under temperatures that range from 45 to 60 F, with 55 F said to be the most ideal for long-term storage and aging of wine. The ideal humidity to improve your wine is around 70 to 90%. This is much more humid than your regular fridge in the kitchen.

Other than just humidity, it is also advisable to always keep your wines free from excessive vibration. Understand that the cooling apparatus in your fridge consists of moving parts and runs around the clock. This normally causes constant micro vibrations and this will affect your wine. Tiny solid particles won’t be allowed to settle to the bottom. Instead, they will continue mixing freely with the liquid portion of wine and upset it’s delicate flavor balance.

Can You Ever Keep Wine in the Fridge?

There are really only 2 cases where you want to use a regular kitchen refrigerator for keeping your wine. First, you might want to put a bottle in the fridge for a brief period before serving. Mostly this will be the case when you have white wine stored at 55 F and you want to cool it down to a more ideal 45 F or so before serving. For this purpose, it’s fine to put the bottle in your fridge for about 1 hour before serving.

The second case is on those rare occasions when you’ve opened a bottle but aren’t able to finish it in one evening. When this happens, you should re-cork the bottle to minimize oxygen exposure and then store it in your fridge so that the cool temperature will help slow down the wine’s degradation. It is best to finish a bottle stored this way in 2-3 days.

When keeping an opened bottle in the fridge remember that it will cool down to below its ideal serving temperature. Red wines should then be taken out of the fridge an hour before serving on the second night, while white wines should be taken out 15-20 minutes before serving.

For long-term storage, and for keeping a number of red wine bottles at ready serving temperature, it is highly recommended to invest in a small to medium sized wine cooler fridge.

To help you find a good wine fridge, you can read all of our reviews HERE.




Compressor vs. Thermoelectric Wine Coolers

For wine to have a good taste it needs to be stored under stable conditions. This is because wine is made of different chemicals which continuously react with each other in order to give the wine a better taste. If the wine is not stored under the correct temperature there will be an unbalanced reaction of the chemicals and this may ruin the taste of the wine. There are various ways of storing wine. However, most people are increasingly turning to wine coolers as a means of storing wine. This is because the wine cooler creates a perfect temperature which improves the taste of the wine and also the aroma. There are two types of wine coolers based on the technology used: thermoelectric wine coolers and compressor wine coolers. They both preserve wine but using different methods. As they both have their advantages and disadvantages, a common question when comparing compressor vs thermoelectric wine coolers is “which is better?”

Thermoelectric Wine Coolers

Thermoelectric wine coolers preserve wine using a peltier plate. The plate has two sides. One is hot and the other is cold, resulting in a heat transfer. The plate works in such a way that it absorbs warm air from the wine cabinets and disperses it out into the surrounding air.




Advantages of a Thermoelectric Wine Cooler

1. It is Energy Efficient – A thermoelectric wine cooler uses a peltier plate which uses little amount of electricity. The fact that it also has less moving parts also makes it use less energy. This benefits the user as well as the environment.
2. Quiet Operation – The fact that it has less moving parts makes it generate little noise when it is operating. This is convenient especially if the user is irritated by noise.
3. Vibration Free – Thermoelectric wine coolers do not vibrate at all. This helps them create a favorable environment for wine, especially if one intends to store wine for long.

Read Thermoelectric Wine Cooler Reviews HERE

Disadvantages of Thermoelectric Wine Coolers

1. Weak Cooling Levels – The peltier plate has weak levels of cooling. The peltier plate is often only able to store and chill wine at temperatures ranging from 55-65 °F and it can’t cool wine down more than 20°F below the ambient room temperature. This makes it inappropriate to use in a room which has higher temperatures because it will be overwhelmed in terms of cooling the wine.
2. Expensive Operation – Although they use less energy, thermoelectric wine coolers need to be on all the time and thus they increase the cost of operation.
3. Small Capacity – They are only convenient to use with wine refrigerators that have small capacity. This makes it expensive to use if you have a large amount of bottles that you want to cool.

Compressor vs. Thermoelectric Wine Coolers

Compressor Wine Coolers

These use a vapor compression cycle to eliminate heat from the wine cabinet. It has four parts; compressor, condenser, expansion valve, and evaporator. The compressor pressurizes gas, while the condenser releases heat into the environment. The expansion valve reduces air pressure, while the evaporator absorbs heat from the air which cools the wine.

Advantages of Compressor Wine Coolers

1. Powerful Operation – It has a powerful cooling capacity when compared to thermoelectric wine coolers. This makes it convenient to use with many built-in units. Many large capacity units also make use of compressors.
2. Handles High Capacities – The fact that they have a powerful cooling system makes it possible for them to be used with a large number of wine bottles. This is of great benefit to people who have a large collection of wine.
3. Adapt to the Environment – The compressor wine cooler is able to adapt to changing temperatures of the environment, and is able to maintain a stable internal temperature. If one intends to store their wine in the basement or in a place which isn’t  insulated, then the compressor wine cooler is the best option.

Read Compressor Wine Cooler Reviews HERE

Disadvantages of Compressor Wine Coolers

1. Small Vibrations – They have many moving parts and as a result they vibrate slightly. This necessitates one to use rubber brushing in order to absorb the movements.
2. Slight Noise Output – The moving parts of the compressor cooler result in the production of some noise. It usually produces the same noise as that of a normal refrigerator. If you live in a small studio apartment, this extra noise may be enough to make you favor a thermoelectric cooling model instead.




How Long Can You Store Wine After Opening a Bottle?

Wine drinkers world wide thoroughly enjoy their daily glass of wine, and not wasting a drop. But how long can a bottle of wine really last once it has been opened? There are so many different types of wine, that the question must be split up.

The types of wine that stay fresh for the least amount of time are usually sparkling wines, like champagne. Sparkling wines last an average of 2 days. This is if you have a sparkling wine stopper and have placed the bottle in a refrigerator.

White wines, such as Rosé or Moscato, will usually last an average of 6 days with a cork in it and placed in a refrigerator. A fuller bodied white wine, like Chardonnay or Riesling, will stay fresh for a shorter period of time, usually around 4 days with a cork in it and placed in a refrigerator as well.

Red wines, such as Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon, have a similar expiration date to full bodied white wines, where they usually stay fresh up until about 4 days. The difference with red wine, is that it needs to be stored in dark yet cool place, and it must have a cork in it.

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If you fancy a fortified wine, such as Sherry, your time of freshness is greatly extended, compared to other wines. You can make a fortified wine last around 28 days stored in a cool dark area with a cork in it.

Similar to fortified wines, bag-in-a-box wine can also last somewhere around 28 days. The difference in these two, is that the boxed wine needs to be stored in a refrigerator, as opposed to a cool dark place.

Wine doesn’t necessarily harm you when it has passed its expiration. It just won’t taste very good, and you’ll feel that you’ve wasted money on a fine bottle by letting it go bad before enjoying it.

What is the Best Red Wine to Drink?

New wine drinkers often feel overwhelmed by the sheer variety of wines available. There are many opinions on which is the best red wine to drink. Some swear by Cabernet Sauvignon, while others prefer Merlot, Zinfandel, or Sangiovese. Ultimately, you’ll have to try out different wines on your own to see which matches your tastes and personality the best. A popular red wine variety that you may want to put at the top of your list is Pinot Noir.

Pinot Noir has gained in popularity over the past decade largely due to the effect of a positive portrayal in the hit film ‘Sideways’. It’s not all hype, though. Pinot’s good reputation is well-deserved.




If you are looking for one of the world’s finest wines, Pinot Noir is an excellent choice. Pinot Noir is made from the Pinot Noir grapes that are grown in some parts of France, Burgundy to be precise. These vines produce somewhat delicate grapes that, however, make excellent wine. Pinot Noir grapes are also cultivated in other countries such as New Zealand, Australia and the US (particularly California and Oregon).

what is the best red wine to drinkPinot Noir can come in different colors such as cherry red to purple red. Though usually it has a brighter red color when compared to other red wine varieties such as Merlot.

The structure of Pinot Noir is fresh and delicate, with soft tannins. Pinot Noir comes with fruity aromatics such as strawberry, cherry, and plum. Pinot Noir’s red skins have polyphenolic compounds like polyphenols and flavonoids. These bind free radicals in the body to prevent oxidized lipids from being generated.

Pinot Noir is rich in resveratrol that acts as an anti-oxidant in your body. Resveratrol prevents genetic mutation due to oxidative stress, thus protecting your body from cancer. Resveratrol also protects nerve cells from oxidative damage and prevents nerve cells from dying. Drinking a glass of Pinot Noir daily, therefore, benefits your nervous system and might help you live longer.

Resveratrol also helps the blood vessels to remain flexible and unclogged. It also decreases the chances of blood clots. This prevents you from developing coronary heart disease.

So as you can see, there are plenty of health benefits to drinking Pinot Noir in moderation. The bright, fruity flavor profile of Pinot Noir wines is also exceptional. Moreover, it pairs easily with many foods.

I’d encourage you to try many styles of wine, to be adventurous, and not always stick to the same variety. But definitely give Pinot Noir a try if you haven’t had the pleasure of tasting some yet. It’s one of the best red wines you can drink.




How Long Can You Keep Red Wine Once Opened?

Red wine can be stored for a long time in bottles, and often gets better with age. But how long can you keep red wine once opened?

Red wines range from delicate Pinot Noirs and Beaujolais to powerhouse Amarone and Malbecs. Regardless of the variety, red wines have a place on our dinner table and wine list. It’s amazing to share a glass of wine with your friend over dinner or during a special occasion. Don’t feel guilty; red wine is rich in the antioxidant polyphenol which is healthy for your heart and prevents memory loss associated with old age. If you have ever wondered how long you can keep your red wine after opening it, read more to find the answers you have been looking for.

Before specifying the exact time your red wine can last before spoiling, it is worth to understand that wine spoils due to oxygen and light. The ultraviolet rays from the sun degrade your wine. For that reason, most of the red wines bottles are dark in color to protect the wine from the sun. When you pull the cork of your red wine, you expose its content to the oxygen. Oxygen spoils your red wine because it turns it into vinegar due to oxidation. Oxidized red wines lack flavor and turn from bright red to brown.

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The expected time your red wine can last once opened is 3-5 days. Red wine contains tannins which stave off the process of oxygenation. With more tannins, your red wine can last for up to five days. Pinot Noir, for instance, has little tannins and sensitive to light, and can only last for at most three days. Beaujolais lasts for four days and five days for the Rhône.

Always Re-Cork Your Opened Wine Bottle

vacu-vin-wine-saverYour red wine can last less than the stated time depending on how you store it. It is advisable to re-cork your red wine after every glass pour. Keep the red wine bottle out of light. Storing your red wine in the refrigerator keeps it fresh for a longer time. If you intend to keep your red wine for a week after opening it, you may consider having a wine preserving tool like Vacu Vin Wine Saver. This tool is a little pump with a bottle stopper. After opening your wine, you can put the stopper and create a vacuum by sucking out air using Vacu Vin Wine Saver.

Wine drinking is a beautiful experience. If you and your company can finish a bottle of red wine in an evening, that’s great. But if you want to enjoy for a few days, understand how long you can keep red wine once opened, and maintain its quality, taste, and color, for even better experiences.

How Long is it Recommended to Keep Opened Red Wine?

Please note that the information given here represents the maximum amount of time that your opened wine would still be reasonably drinkable. I don’t particularly recommend allowing any opened bottle to go over 3 days. I do, however, find that an opened bottle of red wine often tastes even better on the second day. Provided that you re-corked it, kept it refrigerated, and then gave it about an hour to warm up again (still re-corked) before drinking on the second evening.

I know sometimes the wine is just too tasty and you want to finish the bottle. But other times you just want to enjoy a glass or 2, get the health benefits, and yet still be able to wake up early for work the next day. In that case, it’s perfectly fine to stretch a bottle of red wine out over a couple days.

5 Unusual Chianti Food Pairings – This Italian Wine isn’t Just For Pizza

When you hear about Chianti food pairings, it has the reputation of a standard Italian red wine that you drink casually with a meal at your favorite pizza parlor. As a medium-bodied red wine often popping with lip-smacking red fruits on your taste buds, it naturally does go great with nearly any type of Italian cuisine including ravioli, lasagne, various other pastas, smoked salmon, and of course pizza. But those aren’t the only foods that Chianti pairs well with. It’s such an easy to drink wine that it matches up excellently with a wide variety of foods.

First of all, what is Chianti exactly? One confusing aspect of many Italian and French wines for wine beginners is that they are named for the region of production, not the grape variety. In this case, Chianti is a wine-growing region located in the central area of Tuscany, Italy. By law, for any wine to be labelled “Chianti” it must not only be grown in the region but also must consist of at least 80% Sangiovese grapes.

Sangiovese is a grape with a long history. It is thought to have been cultivated during the days of the Roman Empire, and has been documented as far back as the sixteenth century. Wines made with Sangiovese tend to have medium tannins and high acidity, with a flavor profile dominated by red fruits such as cherries. Chianti and other Sangiovese-based wines are usually fruity, tart and zesty. It’s not an acquired taste for stuffy old men sipping leather-scented Bordeaux and nibbling moldy cheese. Rather, Chianti hits your tongue with an explosion of flavor from the first taste, goes down smooth, and before you know it you’ll be on your third glass.




I encourage you to not be so strict in wine-food pairing. Wine is meant to be enjoyed, and you should feel free to drink your favorite wines together with your favorite dishes, whatever they may be. If it tastes good to you nobody can say you’re wrong. That said, here are five unconventional food pairings for Chianti and other Sangiovese wines that I think you’ll enjoy.

1. Thai Food

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I’m a huge fan of Thai food, having spent a lot of time in Thailand. For the record I can tell you that most of the Thai food served at Thai restaurants overseas is nowhere near as good as the genuine article they serve up in Thailand, but nevertheless, Thai cuisine has carved out a spot as one of the most famous and recognized national cuisines globally.

Thai food is famous for liberal use of hot chili peppers. It’s a toss up between Thai and South Indian for the spiciest national cooking style. So right off the bat you’re going to want a beverage that will go down easy and quench your thirst. Chianti has a low to moderate alcohol level, usually around 12% by volume. This is important when eating really spicy food because you’ll tend to drink a little more, and Chianti lets you do that without getting overly tipsy.

Thai food is not only spicy though. Properly cooked Thai dishes have a very nice balance of spicy, sour, sweet, and salty flavors. Chianti’s fruity pop adds into this mix of tastes quite well. Try it with stir-fried pork and basil, red curry, and Pad Thai.

2. Mexican Food

mexican-food-steak-avocado-burrito

Mexican food has an overall flavor profile sitting somewhere in the middle of Italian and Thai cuisines. On the one hand, Mexican dishes contain lots of tomato, cheese, and starches just like Italian food. On the other hand, Mexicans also love their chili peppers to give food a little fire on your tongue, much like Thai cuisine.

Pop open a bottle of Chianti Classico next time you serve up sizzling grilled chicken fajitas, enchiladas, or belly-buster bean burritos.

3. Chocolate and Cherries

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Here’s a pro-tip for a quiet, romantic, late-night get-together with your sweetheart. Wine goes great with various snack foods, and it doesn’t have to be stinky European cheeses either. I enjoy drinking a bottle of red wine late in the evening along with some sort of fruit and a few chocolates.

Cherries work particularly well with Chianti because it’s a flavor that comes out in the wine itself. So the two match up like heaven. Add some chocolate for a little extra sweetness on the tongue to balance the tangy acidity of the Sangiovese grapes. Dark or milk chocolate is up to your preference. My favorites are the moderately dark chocolates with around 70% cocoa.

4. North Indian Food

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North Indian food is the style that is served most often in Indian restaurants overseas. Like some of the other cooking styles I’ve mentioned above, North Indian dishes use lots of spicy chilies and tomato-based sauces. So naturally, Chianti wine would be a good match.

Particularly good are any dishes made with paneer, which is a type of Indian cheese. It’s usually cut into cubes and mixed into a vegetarian curry in place of meat. I’d suggest a paneer masala curry if you’re new to it. Another great North Indian dish to go with Chianti wine is dal makhani, a rich bean-based curry that is cooked using lots of cream.

5. Sushi

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Yes, you can enjoy red wine with your sushi. There is no law that says you must only drink sake. Contemporary sushi matches up well because of the increased variety of flavors when ingredients like cream cheese are included. Fruity red wine also hits the spot right after setting your brain on fire from too much wasabi.

Three types of sushi that will go great with Chianti are tamago-sushi (sweet egg on a bed of rice), California rolls (with that creamy avocado goodness), and salmon sashimi (a little slice of heaven).




Last Bit of Chianti Advice

Remember to serve your Chianti wine at the proper temperature. Right around 59 degrees F (or 15 C) is ideal. Pick out a good value wine cooler to keep in your kitchen so you’ve always got your wines stored at the optimal coolness. It’s a subtle difference between a too-warm bottle of Chianti and one that is cooled down slightly, but it’s one that you’ll come to appreciate.

Guide to Wine Serving Temperature

Why is wine serving temperature important to get right? Over the ages, wine connoisseurs have discovered that different kinds of wine are better enjoyed at different temperatures. Just like with any other food fare, this makes complete sense. For example, you wouldn’t want to eat a cold hamburger or drink a hot beer, and the same principal holds true here as well. In fact, the temperature of the wine can have just as much effect on the taste as almost anything else, sometimes in a remarkable way.

Even though you’ll sometimes hear differing opinions on the subject, there are still some great rules of thumb when it comes to serving temperature for your favorite wine. In almost every case, you also don’t need to use your regular refrigerator to chill your wine unless you need some extra-special chilling. Instead, a wine cellar-cooler can do the trick nicely. And along with this guide, you’ll know exactly what temperature to serve your wine at. This will lead to a better and more enjoyable experience for all.




Full Bodied Red Wines – 62-64°F (17-18°C)

Cabernet Sauvignon, Bordeaux, Shiraz

Cabernet Sauvignon
As a full-bodied red, Cabernet Sauvignon should be served at about 62 degrees Fahrenheit. This helps enhance and complement its full body, but there’s a bit more to it than just that. While you may hear that serving it at room temperature is the way to go, a slight chill is perfect for this one’s acidity.

Medium Bodied Red Wines – 57-61°F (14-16°C)

Burgundy, Sangiovese, Chianti, Zinfandel, Merlot, Pinot Noir

Merlot
The ever well-known Merlot is best served at around 57 degrees Fahrenheit and you can even dabble in a little higher, say around 60 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature not only compliments that body of this one, but is best for bringing out the deep cherry flavors that make it popular.

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Light Bodied Red Wines – 50-54°F (10-12°C)

Beaujolais, Bardolino

Bardolino
This light, fruity Italian red wine benefits from a slightly cooler temperature than most reds. The acidity becomes more prominent, while the alcohol taste is slightly diminished.

Full Bodied White Wines – 50-54°F (10-12°C)

Oaked Chardonnay, White Burgundy

White Burgundy
With its rich, complex flavor White Burgundy is best served at a warmer temperature than standard white wines. You can go as high as 54 degrees F, putting it at the same temperature range as light bodied reds.

Medium Bodied White Wines – 48-52°F (9-11°C)

Chardonnay, Chablis, Semillon

Chardonnay
For this tasty white wine, a cooler setting is needed. Go for temperatures around 48 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit to capture everything about this bottle. Whether it has an oak-forward taste or more citrus notes, the dryness is well appreciated in this cooler temperature zone.

Full Bodied Dessert Wines – 46-54°F (8-12°C)

Oloroso Sherry, Madeira

Madeira
This is one of those sweet red wines that pairs best with desserts. For a young Madeira, a good serving temperature to aim for is 54 degrees F. In the case of a more mature bottle, the complex flavors could benefit from letting it warm up slightly higher even.

Light Bodied White Wines – 43-46°F (6-8°C)

Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio

Riesling
Like many other dessert-style wines, Riesling should be chilled to about 46 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature is right for enhancing the flowery notes, but also the higher acidity of the wine. This is also the right temperature area to add that degree of balance between the acidity and the sugar that make this wine famous.

Pinot Grigio
This popular white is also best served around the mid-40 degree Fahrenheit range. Aim for a steady 45 degrees Fahrenheit to really draw out its crispness, but also its clean apple notes that give it its distinct flavor. You’ll also find that a better focus on the crispness of Pinot Grigio is present in this temperature range.

Sauvignon Blanc
As a light white wine that also has many citrus notes, Sauvignon Blanc should also be chilled to 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Like with our Pinot Grigio, this temperature is better at drawing out the more citrus aspects of this wine without sacrificing any of the dryness that defines it.

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White Sparkling Wines – 43-46°F (6-8°C)

Champagne
This choice is probably the one that gets the most questions. How cold is too cold when it comes to champagne? A nice, chill 43 degrees Fahrenheit is best for really showing off the qualities of the drink in its fullness. Even though there are many varieties of champagne, this lower temperature really highlights the effervescence of any bottle.

Light Bodied Dessert Wines – 43-50°F (6-10°C)

Trockenbeerenauslese, Sauternes

Sauternes
This sweet white wine from the Bordeaux region can best be enjoyed at a serving temperature of 45 degrees F. It should be chilled, but don’t serve it directly from the refrigerator. Instead, allow about 15 minutes for it to breathe after uncorking the bottle. This gives the complex flavors time to develop.

The easiest way to serve wine at the proper temperature is to keep it stored in a dedicated wine refrigerator. While you could try popping a bottle in your regular food fridge for 20-60 minutes to try to cool it down, this isn’t really the best method. It’s always going to be a guessing game as to whether you’ve cooled your wine down to the right temp. The best wine fridge models, on the other hand, all have digital temperature settings to get the temperature precise.

If you mainly stick to one favorite type of wine, then a single zone wine cooler will be sufficient. But if you’d like to store both red and white wine at their respective serving temperatures, then you should consider a dual zone cooler with individual digitally controlled cooling areas.

As a final note, don’t be afraid to step a degree or two outside some of these temperature ranges. While the general rules hold fairly constant, every year and vintage can differ slightly. At the end of the day, trusting your palette is what makes wine drinking one of the best experiences in the world.




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Wine Tasting for Dummies – How to Understand Wine Reviews

When you’re new to wine tasting, it can sometimes feel like you’re entering a whole other world. Varietals, vintage years, viticulture. There are so many terms to learn, and that’s just a few starting with “V”! The list goes on and on and can often seem never-ending. Wine reviews also appear like they’re packed full of jargon and complex analysis. Even when you have the wine they’re reviewing already poured in front of you, it’s easy to get lost in it all. How do you manage to keep up?

Never fear, because we’re going to walk through wine tasting step-by-step. We’ll learn about understanding wine terms like those above.

Armed with this guide, you’ll be able to talk at length about what you love best (and least) of all the wines you taste.

Not only that, you’ll be able to read those wine reviews with ease.

Next time you have your favorite varietal (a wine created from one type of grape), you’ll know if it’s a vintage year (grapes mostly grown and harvested in a specific year) and the viticulture (the science of growing grapes for wine) that made it happen.




Putting Your Next Wine Tasting into Perspective

While you’ll see many reviews that have new terms and ways of looking at wine, you’ll want to keep things in perspective. Wine tasting is absolutely about a personal journey.

What this means is that every person has different perspectives and experiences. Although there’s plenty of overlap, it’s not about knowing it all. Instead, it’s about sharing the knowledge and growing in your understanding of wine.

At the same time, never be afraid to go out on a limb and try something new or look at things from a different angle. If you’re tasting something particular in a wine, speak up and let others know. You’ll find that being open minded like this leads to everyone having a better experience.

Determining a Wine’s Appearance

dark-grapes-wine-glass-bottleLet’s starting at one of the easiest places when it comes to wine: how it looks. You probably know that there’s red and white wines, but appearance goes a bit further. Even though this aspect of tasting is often overlook, it remains an important one.

After you’ve ensured that you have a crystal clear glass and proper light, pour your favorite wine and note a few things about it. For example, you’ll see wine reviews talk about the depth of the color. What is the opacity or clarity of the color?

While some tasters often won’t include color strictly in appearance, it’s perfectly fine to ask what the exact color of the wine is. You’ll also want to watch the wine’s legs, or in other terms, the way it clings to the glass when swirling it. It’s also possible to determine the wine’s age, as reds will steer more brown with years and whites will become darker in appearance.

Taking on a Wine’s Aroma

The first big term to learn when enjoying the aroma of your wine is “on the nose.” Put simply, it’s how the wine affects your sense of smell alone, separate from the tongue. Another important term is bouquet. Both of these are meant to capture the entire experience of the aroma.

Before you sip, enjoy how the wine’s aroma interacts with your senses. If necessary, let the wine breathe, which is the process of leaving the wine exposed to the open air. Many additional terms are meant to describe the complexity of the aroma. For example, a dense aroma is one that possess concentrated smells, while a subtle aroma might be more muted.

Going Beyond Mere Taste

As we move on to actually tasting your wine, there are a few more essential terms to know. While you’ll hear intuitive flavor words like cherry, currant, or tobacco, there’s more than just flavor to note when the wine is in your mouth.

Probably the three biggest are the body, the mouthfeel, and whether or not a wine is long in the finish.

We’ll start with the body. For every wine, there is an impression of how full the wine is. You can think of this one exactly like you do weight, ranging from heavy, full-bodied wines to less full, lighter bodied wines.

On mouthfeel, you’ll find that it’s all about how the texture of the wine manifests on your palette. Is it soft or fat? Or perhaps it’s chewy or meaty?

Often, these sensation are influenced by either the acidity of the wine or the wine’s tannins, which are a puckering agent that comes mostly from the skin and seeds.

Finally, the length of a wine’s finish is an important way of measuring its quality. Terms like short, medium, or long are often used, but the main point is that the final finishing tastes linger in a healthy, delicious way.

For your wine tasting experience, this guide is just the start. But now, you’ll be able to understand those wine reviews that you love to read. Best of all, you’ll also have a more enhanced experience when you enjoy that next bottle of red or white.

How to Choose the Right Wine Glasses

Do you know How to choose the right wine glasses? Studies show that wine glasses do indeed affect the taste of your wine. If all you want is to get tipsy, then the type of wine glass you use might not be of great concern. However, if you want to enjoy the wine’s aroma and taste, you will have to choose your wine glasses carefully.

Different Glass Shapes for Different Wines

The base, stem, and of course the bowl, will affect the aroma and taste of the wine as you swirl and sip it.

Red Wines

merlot_bordeaux_wine_glassRed wine needs more exposure for it to release its full aroma. You will, therefore, find wines such as Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon being taken in glasses with bigger bowls. If you are drinking a lighter style of red wines such as Pinot Noir and Tempranillo, drink them from a pear shaped glasses.

White Wines

chardonnay_white_wine_glassWhite crispy wines are best if taken in glasses that are smaller and narrower. Such wines include Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay. That is because they do not require much air to release their aroma. However, if they are aged, then chemical compounds change and they may need wine glasses similar to those used for red wine.

Champagne

If you want to enjoy your champagne, experts recommend that you either use Chardonnay glasses or Pinot Noir glasses. The choice depends on the prominent variety in the champagne. However, you should feel free to take it in whatever will give you the most pleasure. That is what drinking champagne is all about.




Wine Glass Size

You may admire those small, chunky wine glasses, but they are not ideal for drinking wine. For one, you cannot swirl your wine freely, unless you want to wear it as well. The other thing is that a good wine glass is one whose bowl takes at least a third of the bottle. If it can take half, that is even better.

Stem

stemed_and_stemless_wine_glass

The stem is the part of the glass that lets you hold it comfortably. If you want your wine to maintain its temperature, you should avoid stemless glasses. If you also like swirling your wine, the stemless glass is not for you.

The stemless glass is however aesthetically pleasing sometimes. Except when you smudge its bowl with your fingerprints as you hold it. Let just say that you have to be very skilled at holding a stemless glass to enjoy drinking from it. Otherwise, you will smudge it with fingerprints.

Glass Color

It could be possible that you love colored or glasses decorated with patterns. Well, you should avoid those when drinking wine. That is because wine is best enjoyed in its full natural color. Wines do change their color over time; you should be able to see and enjoy that as well.

Glass or Crystal?

If you like your wine chilled, then you should go for crystal glasses. Their stems are thin meaning your hand will not warm the wine glass easily. Crystal glasses are however easier to break because they have been spun thinner than glass. You should also be aware that crystal glasses may contain lead.

The lead is supposed to make the wine stick to the glass as you swirl to bring out its aroma. Wine glass companies such as Riedel say that the lead is perfectly contained within the crystal structure, and their crystal glasses are perfectly safe. Still, it is better to be aware of that fact.

There are also lead-free crystal wine glasses one can find on the market.

The glass or crystal does not change the chemical composition of the wine. It simply helps you to enjoy the aroma before you taste the wine as well as preserve the wine’s characteristics while you enjoy it. You are therefore best placed to decide how you want to enjoy your wine. However, if you are serving others, it is worth considering the above factors.