Before I begin my highfalutin wine reviews for Kayoko, I just want to mention that my credentials are: I love wine and I skimmed through a wine glossary to memorize some terms that seemed useful. So just bear with me if I am using them incorrectly. However, I think you’ll get the gist of my opinions. (I guess I should actually start going to wine tastings. . . Anyone interested in joining me?)

That said, I’d like to share some random wine-choosing/serving/drinking/storing tips:
If you want a strong, bold wine, choose something from the USA or Australia. If you want something subtle that compliments food and stays in the background, go for a European wine.

  • Look for a punt in the bottom of bottles, not a flat bottom. The deeper the punt, the more expensive the glass, and the higher the quality. If the price is low for a deeply punted bottle , it probably wasn’t intended to be, and thus you have found a real bargain
  • Wines with over 13% alcohol tend to be strong/bold.
  • Syrah/Shiraz: same grape, different names.
  • Red wines are served best after 20 minutes in the refrigerator. White wines generally need about an hour and a half.
  • When opening a bottle, cut an X into the top with the blade of a corkscrew, and remove ALL of the foil because sometime vintage wine foils contain lead.
  • Try not to screw all the way through the cork. This will leave bits of it in the wine.
  • Make sure the end of the cork that was inside the bottle is moist. This means it was stored well. If it’s dry, the wine has probably spoiled.
  • Fill glasses halfway to let the vapors fill the rest. This helps you smell the wine better as you drink it, giving it a better flavor.
  • You should always hold the glass by the stem, no matter what the shape or size of the glass or the type of wine.
  • When re-corking an unfinished bottle, make sure the same end of the cork goes back in the bottle (the other end has been exposed to mold and odors). If it won’t go in easily, use the blade of a corkscrew to shave a notch near the bottom on either side, or buy a reusable rubber stopper at a wine shop (for about $1).
  • To make your wine last a week, remove as much air as you can with a device like the Rabbit vacuum pump, moistening the stopper first for the tightest seal. Then refrigerate the bottle; all wines, including reds, last longer if chilled.
  • Store bottles on their sides, so the cork stays in constant contact with the wine. To maintain an airtight seal, a natural cork needs to stay moist and expanded.
  • Never store wine on top of the refrigerator. Overhead lighting and refrigerator exhaust give off a lot of heat and vibration that can ruin the taste.

And now a review:

Rio Claro 2003 Syrah Reserva, D.O. San Rafael, Chile.

Being somewhat of a novice when it comes to South American wines, I decided to go Chilean. This one was erroneously shelved in the Australian section of the shop I visited, so it caught my eye. Plus, it has a decent label. Anyway, I tend to go straight for Syrahs/Shirazes (and Gruner Veltliners, being a sucker for peppery wines), and while I intend to branch out more for the sake of these reviews, I am glad I did not stray this time. Rio Claro is a very approachable medium-bodied wine with a smooth, delicate texture. True to its label, it has an oaky aroma and a juicy plum flavor, leading to a finish that was shorter than I prefer, but still pleasant. I think this wine would go well with game, but I would just serve it alone at a small gathering of friends (or maybe a book club meeting?). It’s a well-balanced (and well-priced) wine that would leave the stimulation to the conversation.

$9.99 at 86th Street Wines & Liquors, 306 East 86 Street (between 1st and 2nd Avenues), 212-396-3535.


2 Responses to “w(h)ine-o”

  1. kayoko Says:

    kanitra, this is incredible. ALL stuff that we should know when picking a bottle of wine. THANK YOU!

    i’ve been wanting to go wine tasting in long island. let’s do it!


  2. yoko Says:

    thank you for this very helpful review. this is all stuff i can actually use and remember.

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