A Super Tuscan

Question:

Dear Wine Master,

What makes a wine a Super Tuscan?

Answer:
Hello,

In my usual contrary way I will answer your question by relating what a Super Tuscan is NOT!!

A Super Tuscan wine is not a wine that fits into the quality designations set up under Italian wine laws. For a rather fuller description of these quality marks please look at the ‘Wine Ratings’ page at Wine Regions of Italy.

Many, but not all ”Super Tuscan” wines originate from the Chianti Classico region. The first Super Tuscan was Sassicaia, although the term was not in use at the …

About Claret

Question:

Dear Wine Master,

What exactly is Claret?

Answer:
Hello,

Needless to say the Brits are responsible for the introduction of the term ‘claret’ to the wine glossary!

In modern days, claret is used to describe generically any red wine from the Bordeaux region in France. Bordeaux’s reputation dates from the Middle Ages. From 1152 to 1453, along with much of what is now western France, Bordeaux belonged to England. The light red wine then produced was known as ‘clairet’—the origin of the word claret.

Bordeaux red wines led the world in terms of quality after their classification system was …

Avignon’s Chateauneuf du Pape

Question:

Dear Wine Master,

Where is Avignon? Also what role did it play in the area’s wine?
Reenie

Answer:
Dear Reenie,

The medieval city of Avignon is the chief city of Vaucluse and gateway to Provence in France. During the 14th century, driven by church and national politics, Pope Clement V moved the seat of the papacy from its traditional home in Rome to the village of Avignon in the southern reaches of France’s Rhone Valley. And naturally enough, one of the first things the papal court did in Avignon was to plant vineyards to make wine for the Pope’s …

Food at a Wine Tasting Party

Question:

Dear Wine Master,

We are hosting a wine tasting party in a few weeks, your site, Tasting Wine was most helpful—I am more excited about it now! The only thing I would like is a suggestion of what to serve, just cheese and crackers? Hot appetizers? Cold appetizers? I would appreciate any suggestions you may have. Thanks again for a great site.
MJ

Answer:
Hello MJ,

Believe it or not we have built a web site that will appeal to anyone who is hosting a wine tasting party . . . now there’s a coincidence!

There are no real …

Origins of Wire Netting

Question:

Dear Wine Master,

I would be most grateful if you could tell me about the history behind putting a gold neat around a bottle of wine. And why it is so popular with certain people. One story I heard is that it was used for the same reason as a wax seal on an envelope . . . way back when.
Yours sincerely,
Su

Answer:
Dear Su,

Many thanks for your enquiry about wire netting. From a traditional angle, this practise was adopted by wine makers in Rioja for their Gran Reserva quality wines. Wrapping the bottle in wire …

Wine Colour vs. Grape Colour

Question:

Dear Wine Master,

I have recently been told that the colour of wine was not necessarily the same as that of the grape. Is there any truth in that? How could you possibly turn white grape juice into a ruby liquid?

Best regards and many thanks in advance.

Answer:
Dear Correspondent,

You have spotted the obvious error in that statement! The colour of a wine is determined by the pigmentation of the grape skins, and the amount of time the juice is then kept in contact with the skins.

From this you will surmise that red/black grapes can produce …

Sweet Wines

Question:

Dear Wine Master,

I like a sweet wine. What would you recommend?

Answer:

Hello,

There are so many wonderful quality sweet wines produced around the world that it’s difficult to know where to start. Amongst my personal favourites are the Auslese wines from Germany made from grapes that have been left a little longer on the vine to ripen and increase their sugar concentration . . . but there is always that delicious acidity to balance them to perfection.

However, if sweet wines are your favourite you can’t go wrong with a Sauternes from the Bordeaux region of France. …

To Chill or Not to Chill

Question:

Dear Wine Master,

I was wondering which wines you are suppose to chill, and which wines you are not. Do you chill a merlot?

Meg

Answer:
Dear Meg,

The perceived wisdom is that red wines are enjoyed more when un-chilled. I would agree in general because the one thing that chilling a wine does is to kill the delicious flavours. Certainly I wouldn’t ever chill any of the more full bodied reds (e.g. those made from Cabernet Sauvignon or pinot noir), but I’m told that a slightly chilled Beaujolais or Valpolicella can be delicious on a warm Summer afternoon!…

Drinking Wine from an Opened Bottle

Question:

Dear Wine Master,

How long does a bottle of wine last after it is opened?

Answer:
Dear Wine Lover,

There are two ways of looking at this question: generally speaking wine will be at it’s best almost immediately after it has been uncorked; alternatively wine will continue to improve after opening until its taste is unacceptable . . . to you! In other words the answer to your question is very much a case of personal choice.

Once a bottle of wine has been uncorked it is open to attack from the air. The chemicals react, and the wine …

Wine With Food

Question:

Dear Wine Master,

My husband started a new job a few months ago and is getting along very well with his new boss. It was just a matter of time before my husband, the consummate host, invited the boss and his wife over for dinner. I understand that these people know their wines very well and I’m very nervous about selecting a good wine to accompany a trusted scallop dish I plan to serve.

As a matter of fact, I’d like your expert opinion on perhaps two or three appropriate wines so I can offer them a choice.

Please …