Food and Drink Archives

Understanding The Wine Rating System

As with any rating system, there is no such thing as a universal wine rating system. Wines are rated by different wine clubs, groups, restaurants, food critics, magazines, and wine aficionados. Just like movies may get good or bad ratings depending on the critic, the same wine may get a higher or lower rating depending on who is doing the actual rating. Most wine rating systems work the same as any other rating system, awarding a number of points to a particular wine in a variety of categories. Wine Spectator, a leading magazine about wine, uses a 100-point system when rating wines. One you understand the different categories of how a wine is critiqued, you may be better able to understand the wine rating system you’re perusing.

What is Usually Evaluated

Most who review wines evaluate it by more than just its flavor. Texture and aroma are also important. This is because these things are typically affected by the quality of the fruit that is used, the fermentation process, and the procedure used to make the wine. A poor quality aroma or lack of texture can affect anyone’s wine rating system, and quite a bit at that. To better illustrate, imagine have a cup of coffee that tastes good but smells like dishwater, or that is as thick as mud. Obviously the smell and texture of any beverage or food is important to the enjoyment of it, just as much as the actual taste.

How Evaluations Are Done

It’s important for an impartial wine rating system that wines are stored properly before they’re tasted. They are kept at room temperature of 70-72 degrees Fahrenheit. Most wines are sampled as soon as the bottle is poured, and then decanted and allowed to be set aside. They may be re-tasted in 20 minute intervals, to (Read more ...)

How To Read A Wine Label

When was the last time you went to a nice restaurant and ordered a bottle of expensive wine? When the waiter or waitress brought it over, did he or she show you the label before uncorking it? Did you understand anything on that label, or did you simply scan it and nod just for show? Many people are at a loss when it comes to reading wine labels, whether it’s at a restaurant or in a wine store; to them, it’s all just fancy numbers and letters and means no more to them than the chemicals contained in a can of Coke.

If you know a little bit about wines, you’re already well on your way to understanding the wine labels. They typically tell you, at a glance, the alcohol content, the growing region, bottle volume, name of the wine, quality and type of wine, the producer, and the variety and vintage.

The alcohol content and bottle volume may be the easiest to recognize on a wine label. The alcohol content is a percentage, usually around 12%-13%. In the U.S., the minimum alcohol for table wine is 7%, and 14% for the maximum. The bottle content is typically listed in milliliters, usually 750, or 1.5 liters. If the volume is not printed on the wine label, it will be on the bottle itself.

The growing region may be a bit difficult since American wines are classified by grape type such as shiraz or zinfandel, whereas many wines from Europe have their growing region as the name of the wine. Just look for both on the wine label and if you only see one, you know it’s the growing region on a European wine.

Becoming familiars with producers when it comes to wine may be one of the most important aspects of finding a good bottle, and when you learn some of the best producers you can quickly scan for them on a wine label. (Read more ...)

Joining a Wine Club

If you’re a wine lover and wish that you had more time to really shop around for just the right bottle or to find a new one that you’ve never tried before, you may want to seriously consider joining a wine club. Just like “book of the month” or other such clubs, wine clubs are organizations that research, select, and ship off to their members a new bottle or selection of wines once every month or so.

Wine clubs may sound like they’re best for the rich and snooty, but one of the great benefits of it them is that you don’t need to do the painstaking research about each bottle or vintage before you purchase it. The organizers of the wine club are no doubt true wine lovers themselves, and appreciate doing the legwork when it comes to reading up about different vineyards, years, and so on before selecting just the right wines for their members.

These are also great options for those who are just starting out in their love affair with wines, and may not know how to get started with selection, what makes a good vintage, and so on. Shipments of the selections that arrive from your wine club are usually going to have an information sheet included on why it was chosen, what makes it a superior bottle of wine, and so on. A novice can read through the information before sampling the wine so that he or she can really know what to look for when it comes to taste. This will also help familiarize someone with the many different terms that are used in connection with wine, so that he or she can better read a restaurant menu and make a selection.

If considering joining a wine club, there are a few things to keep in mind. Find one that doesn’t tie you into a long-term contract. Many wine clubs operate by letting you (Read more ...)

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