Yeast in Wine Making

Question:

Dear Wine Master,

In the making of wine, don’t the yeast spores come directly from the grape skins themselves as well as from the air? Someone is telling me that ”just squeezed” grape juice—the must, I think it is called—doesn’t contain any yeast spores. This person believes that freshly squeezed grape juice must ”sit for several days” prior to having the yeast spores develop so that only then can it begin to ferment to become wine. Could you please tell me what is correct?

Thank you,
Kire

Answer:
Dear Kire,

Thanks for taking the time to write us about …

The Gift Wine

Question:

Dear Wine Master,

I’m interesting in understanding the standard etiquette when someone comes over to your house for a dinner party—and graciously brings over a bottle of wine as a gift.

Should that bottle be opened and enjoyed then—or is it rude to open that bottle that evening?

My wife and I are on different sides on this one—is there a standard in this situation?

Answer:
Dear Duncan,

I don’t know about you, but I always like to serve wine to guests that I have ensured is in the best possible condition for that moment in time. In other …

Serving Reds

Question:

Dear Wine Master,

I am employed at a small family owned fine dining restaurant. It has become a major discussion about what exactly is the proper way to serve red wine to a customer. Is it proper to put a napkin jacket on the bottle? And if so, when is it proper to put it on the bottle, before or after the server has shown it to customer for their approval?

Answer:
Hello,

In my usual controversial way I’m going to go against what may be thought of as perceived wisdom in some well established wine serving circles! But …

To Your Health!

Question:

Dear Wine Master,

I am enjoying this site! We have about 15 bottles of wine given as gifts over the last 6 years or so! My wife says, ”Get rid of them—they are a risk!” and I have not because I will not waste them if they are drinkable!

Please command the outcome! Thanks so much!

Answer:
Dear Wine Lover,

It is highly unlikely that any of the wines you have collected will be a health risk! At the end of the day the enjoyment of wine is a very subjective choice. Some wines were made to mature into …

Wine Pouring Etiquette

Question:

Dear Wine Master,

Why do you not fill the glass of wine up? What is the right amount of wine to pour into a glass??

Answer:
Dear Wine Enthusiast,

There has always been a lot of mystery surrounding the world of wine enjoyment: which wines to serve, which glasses to serve them in, what temperatures are correct . . . ! In the end, though, all these conventions are there to be knocked down. The only rules are that you should enjoy the experience.

The convention of filling a wine glass 1/2 – 2/3 to the top is to …

Winemaking Grape Genus

Question:

Dear Wine Master,

What is the genus for grapes?

Answer:
Hello,

I am assuming that your enquiry about grape genus is for those varieties which bear fruit best suited for the production of wine.

Although not exclusively so, the vines from which all the best known wine grapes are cultivated are of the Vitis vinifera species. This is of European origin and until the late 19th century wine grapes of this genus were grown on their own roots . . . and then the dreaded Phylloxera parasite struck!!

You might like to look at History of Wine to get …

Foxy Wine

Question:

Dear Wine Master,

What is meant by ‘foxy’ taste? Is this the same as oxidized?
Maureen

Answer:
Dear Maureen,

‘Foxy’ generally describes the nose/smell of a wine rather than the flavour. Most adjectives used to describe smells and flavours in wine are evocative of the writers own experience, but he/she is hoping that we all have shared those experiences. Personally, I have not had the pleasure of smelling tom cats, sweaty saddles or foxes . . . but these are oft used terms to describe the smells of particular styles of wine.

We shouldn’t make the mistake of thinking …

Out of Balance

Question:

Dear Wine Master,

Why might a wine be described as ”out of balance”?

Answer:
Dear Wine Lover,

All kinds of visuals come to mind when talking about wine and balance! Usually, however, it isn’t anything to do with losing one’s own balance, rather an observation on the success (or otherwise) of the winemaker’s battle of wits with the climatic conditions prior to and during the grape harvest.

Winemakers, you understand, are ”driven” to produce the perfect wine! The Holy Grail of their art is to create a wine that when ready to drink displays such harmony of ripe fruit …

The Wine is Corked!

Question:

Dear Wine Master,

I served what I thought was a fine bottle of Merlot at a dinner party. Everyone sipped politely, although none were effusive in their praise. When one of our guests declared, ”This bottle is corked!” my immediate reaction was to check that cork from the stopper hadn’t fallen into the wine and ended up in his glass. What did he mean?

Blaine.

Answer:
Dear Blaine,

How awkward for you! Sometimes these unexpected moments can feel like a crisis, but forewarned is forearmed, so let me point you in the right direction:

Wine, even in the bottle, …

The Shape of Wine Bottles

Question:

Dear Wine Master,

Hi there. I have enjoyed your site Vine UK.com. Could you possibly explain to me why a wine bottle is curved inward at the base? Thank you.
Langley

Answer:
Dear Langley,

Thanks for your question. The shape at the base of the bottle is called a ”punt” in English. An obscure word, unknown even to many wine enthusiasts, its origins are lost in history. But here are a few theories:
1. In the early days of modern bottle making, glass blowers learned that a deep indentation made the bottle stronger and gave it stability.
2. Maybe …