Archive for the ‘*The W(h)ine-o’ Category

Choosing a Cheaper Wine

June 12, 2007

The W(h)ine-o is back with a few more tips — this time on choosing a cheaper wine:

• Choose wine with labels that are less specific in origin. If the label says “Napa Valley,” it will cost more than one that says “California.”

• If you want a white wine, choose one that does not sit in (expensive) oak barrels, such as Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, and Pinot Grigio.

• Choose an unfamiliar or lesser-known grape. If less people know about it, they won’t ask for it, and the price will go down. (Of course it might be harder to find too). Ever heard of Torrontés, the Argentinean white grape? Me neither, so you won’t spend much for it.

• Choose wines from areas where labor costs are lower, such as Argentina or Chile. If it costs less to make, it will cost less to buy.

Speaking of cheap wines, I had the pleasure of trying the Red Bicyclette Syrah 2004 a while back.

Loved it. The palate is complex, yet well balanced, with lots of berry flavors and just the right amount of spice. It has a peppery aroma and medium weight, and the finish was especially long and pleasant. Plus, it has a very cute label.

$8.99 at Park East Wine & Spirits, 1657 York Ave at 87th St, 212-534-2093.

Enrique Foster Mendoza Malbec Ique 2006

May 11, 2007

First of all, I meant to get a 2004. . . Actually I asked for a 2004, and did not notice that I was given a 2006. This is not to say the employees at Sherry-Lehmann are negligent. In fact they are quite helpful and knowledgeable. Nevertheless, the fact is: I got the wrong wine.

AND the photo is a 2003 bottle, but just disregard that because the rest of the label remains the same in 2004 and 2006.

Anyway, Enrique Foster Mendoza Malbec Ique 2006 is nothing exciting, but it is an smooth well-balanced (and priced) wine with a beautiful ruby-red color that I recommend. The aroma is fresh and light and the body is medium-to-full. The palate has pleasant hints of licorice, pepper, and berries that develop into a lingering, satisfying finish. I enjoyed it with my soba noodles (the only thing in my fridge at the moment), so it should go very well with pasta, and probably a variety of cheeses.

$8.95 at Sherry-Lehmann, 679 Madison Ave at 61st Street, 212-838-7500,

E. Guigal Côtes du Rhône 2003

April 18, 2007

What a find!

This elegant wine has a deep, dark red colour with a spicy aroma, well-balanced tannins and fruit, and a smooth texture.

The palate is wonderfully complex: it is initially fresh and fruity followed by an unexpected, slight acidity and a long and pleasant finish.

I think this would compliment most foods very well, as it not overwhelming. It went very well with my pasta, and I would pair it with meat, fish, or cheese too.

Definitely give this one a try!

$12.99 at Beacon Wine & Spirits (2120 Broadway at 74th Street, 212-877-0028)


March 15, 2007

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.