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Frequently Asked Questions

Browse frequently asked questions below or submit your own!

the wine counselor1. Is it ok to drink white wine with red meat?

Yes, if that’s what you prefer! While there are guidelines for pairing wine with food, drinking what you enjoy is the paramount principle!
“Drink what you like & like what you drink”. Most folks prefer drinking white wine with fish and chicken and consuming red wine with beef and lamb. Pork and veal are enhanced by white or red wine depending on the sauce.

It really depends on what you enjoy. If you like Sauvignon Blanc with your prime rib-go for it! If you prefer a spicy red Rhône with your whitefish-enjoy! As a Sommelier, these aren’t pairings I would recommend but it’s really all about what you , enjoy!

2. How long should I keep/age this wine?

It depends -seriously. Most wines, say 90% or so are made to be enjoyed when they’re bottled. The other 10% are meant to be aged in a cool, dark, humid, quiet place. Ideal storage conditions include a constant, humid, 55 degree-ish temperature, away from light, heat, temperature fluctuation and vibration. Even with all these factors addressed, there’s no guarantee that a wine will improve with age. This “other 10%” are the “best wines” and can improve over the course of 3, 5, 7, 10, 20 even 30 years.

3. I got this wine as a gift for _________________ (fill in the blank) when should I open it?

See Q2-just joking! There’s no easy way to tell if a bottle of wine will taste good—except, of course, to open and drink it. What type of wine, the size of the bottle, and, most importantly, how it has been stored, are all variables impacting whether the wine is ready to enjoy. However, I can tell you from expensive personal experience, it’s oh so much better to drink a wine that’s a bit young than one that’s over the hill. When it’s too old you’re just making a vinaigrette.

the wine counselor4. What’s the proper temperature to serve wine?

Once again-it depends!

Sparkling wines, light dry white wines, rosés, and white dessert wines are best at 40° to 50° F to preserve their freshness and fruitiness. It’s especially important to serve bubbly cold!

For fuller bodied white wines and light, fruity red wines 50° to 60° F is the optimal temperature to serve this range of wines.

Full-bodied red wines and Ports: Serve at 60° to 65° F—much much cooler than most room temperatures and substantially warmer than ideal cellaring temperatures.

Most people, including the vast majority of restaurants, serve white wines too cold and red wines way too warm.

5. Why does some wine give me a headache?

Other than the obvious reason of overindulgence, it’s usually not the usual suspect of sulfites. Sulfites cause very severe allergic reactions in a very small percentage of people, even death in extreme cases. That’s why there’s a warning on the bottle. They don’t cause headaches.

Odds are, it’s the histamines. Histamines are found mainly in the skins of wine grapes, and since red wines involve the skins, red wine is blamed for many headaches. Please don’t take antihistamines prior to enjoying your favorite wine unless you want to have your head hit the pillow sooner than later!

6. I love “Chateau Bubba Gump” ; what do you think of it?

It really doesn’t matter at all what I think of your favorite wine! Just as we all have fingerprints that are unique, our palates are unique as well. You should drink the wines you love and love the wines you drink. Don’t let anyone tell you what’s good and what isn’t. In this case, it really is all about you!

7. How will I know if a bottle of wine is bad/”corked”/off?

If it smells like a wet dog, wet cardboard, or Uncle Fester’s musty basement there’s a good chance your wine is faulty. Other funky aromas to watch out for are vinegar, nail polish remover, burnt rubber, cabbage or barnyard. Some people are extremely sensitive to corked wines and others, well, not so much. If you think the wine is off, ask a friend to sniff it as well.

the wine counselor8. What’s your favorite wine?

It really, really depends (that word again) on a variety of variables. A few of them are: what am I eating, what time of year is it, whom am I with and what kind of mood am I in? I love rosé’s in the middle of summer, big, beefy Bordeaux in the winter and Champagne just about any day ending in y.

9. How long can I keep an opened bottle?

Are you ready for this-it depends! Time frames vary depending on the specific wine but for still whites, reds, and rosés, I would say two to three days is the maximum you want to keep an opened bottle.

Champagne or other sparkling wines should be consumed immediately. However, I have stored a good quality Champagne in the refrigerator for 24 hours and it was just fine. Doesn’t happen often!

Fortified wines like Port, sherry, and Madeira last much longer due to their high alcohol and/or high sugar content. I wouldn’t keep a Port or sherry more than two weeks. The shelf life of Madeira lasts just about forever, literally years after opening if stored in the refrigerator.

10. Why does the same wine taste different at different times?

A multitude of reasons. The first is what, if anything, are you eating? What we eat or what we’ve even recently eaten, has an enormous impact on the way wines taste. If you just consumed a glass of chocolate milk, the wine is probably not going to taste as delicious as you remember!

Have you taken medication recently? Medication, particularly some prescription medication, can severely influence the way wine tastes.

The temperature of the wine makes a big difference in the way it tastes as well as the way it smells. If a wine is served too cold, you really won’t be able to enjoy either the aromas or the flavors. If it’s served too warm, it will taste flabby and alcoholic and generally rather unpleasant.

Last, and certainly not least, is your frame of mind. If you’re happy, the wine will usually taste good. If you’re not, frequently the wine reflects your state of mind.