Wine trivia for the day: Corked wine

Wine CorksA corked wine is a wine that has been bottled with a cork that is contaminated with TCA – Trichloroanisole. Sometimes the contamination comes from the barrel  the wine was stored in.

In a corked bottle – wine will get worse as its exposed to the air. Cork taint is a set of very undesirable aroma and flavor characteristics that are imparted into the bottle.

You have three choices: tip it, drink it fast, or stick a zip lock bag inside the bottle. The zip lock will absorb some of the TCA; it wont fix the wine but it may be drinkable

Collector Series Top Picks

Artesa continues to fashions outstanding estate bottled Chardonnays, and the property’s 2010 Estate Reserve may be this formidable property’s best Chardonnay to date.  Consequently, our First Top Pick goes to the 2010 Artesa Estate Reserve Chardonnay.  Drink it now and enjoy it, or lay it down to garner additional complexity.  This Chardonnay will offer great drinking for five years or more.  This month’s second Top Pick is where the guilt sets in.  For present consumption, Peltier Station’s rare and superbly rendered 2006 Teraldego from a tiny 2 acre vineyard on the estate, is simply not to be missed.  Suave, sophisticated, and drinking beautifully right now, it’s earned a spot at the top.  It’s a Top Pick for sure.  However, Tremonte’s 2010 Monte Rekewa Oro de Los Coipos deserves to be mentioned as well.  Granted, this full-throttle blend of Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon begs for more time in the bottle to reveal all that it has to offer, but if what we tasted is any indication of what one can expect from this youthful giant, we’re in for one heck of a treat.  So it also deserves a spot at the top for the awesome potential it portends.  A votre santé!

Premier Series Top Picks

This month’s Premier Series Top Picks causes me a bit of consternation.  Yeah, it’s the choice thing again.  I’ve always been fond of Italy’s estate bottled white wines.  They stand in stark contrast to the oceans of commercial Soaves and Pinot Grigios that the “industrial producers,” whose names everyone can recite, turn out.  This month’s Premier Series wine, the 2010 Forchir estate bottled Pinot Grigio, is the mirror opposite of the “commercial grade” of wine that rarely excites.  Hence, this month’s first Top Pick goes to Forchir’s 2010 Villa del Borgo’s Fruili Pinot Grigio – a pure, refreshing, flavorful white wine that captures the ethereal quality of Pinot Grigio without sacrificing flavor.  It’s not buttery or complex, but it’s a perfect feature for the month of August and a great value, too.  So, it’s the red wines this month that make my job tough.  Peltier Station’s 2009 is a luscious Cabernet that rocked our tasting panel.  The wine’s texture, flavor, and seamless quality put a lot of the more expensive California Cabernets we tasted to shame, so it, too, has earned a  Top Pick for the month.  Better value in California Cabernet is hard to find.  But we have a co-recipient in Bodegas Carchelo’s 2010 Carchelo from Jumilla.  Carchelo captures the power and flavor of Monastrell (Mourvedre).  Although already drinking beautifully now, this wine will knock your socks off if given a few more months in bottle.  It stands in testimony to the quality and variety one can expect from Spain, so it, too, deserves to be a Top Pick.  A votre santé!

Vegetable Panini

  • 1 loaf round (boule) crusty bread – sliced
  • 1 zucchini -sliced
  • 1 bunch fresh basil leaves
  • 1 small eggplant – sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper – sliced
  • 1 large tomato – sliced
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper

Brush zucchini, eggplant and red pepper with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill vegetables until well cooked (even a little charred is okay). On one side of bread, drizzle olive oil, line with basil leaves, top with mozzarella, grilled vegetables and then tomato slices and top with another piece of bread. Place on a grill pan or in a panini press and cook over medium high heat for 5 minutes on each side or until cheese is melted.

Wines are a lot like kids

Wines are a lot like kids: on any given day they can make a liar out of you. One day they’re perfectly well behaved, and the next day . . . well you get the picture. Johnny is an angel in school but a devil at home. Mary is just the opposite, sweet as pie when Mom and Dad are around, and a fallen angel away from the house. What makes us think that wines are all that different from kids? Well, I realize that wines can’t think, yet I know they have minds of their own. One day a wine shows great and blows the panel and everyone else away, and the next day that same wine just might not have quite the same appeal. Why? So many factors affect how a wine tastes on any given day: storage, serving temperature, weather (particularly barometric pressure) and accompaniments to a wine all have something to do with how a wine is perceived by the majority of tasters. However, the common denominator is probably us. We humans are influenced by our companions, experiences, moods, and most acutely by the foods we consume prior to tasting a particular wine. Our palates get tired, just like the rest of our bodies. Moreover, we all know that certain foods can wreak havoc on our taste buds. Horseradish, Tabasco, raw garlic and onion are just a few of the foods most commonly cited as affecting our taste buds, but almost any food can alter one’s perception of a wine. So, tasters beware! What you had for lunch can affect how a wine shows or is perceived at dinner.