How to Refine Your Wine-Tasting Skills

Standard

Photo Credit: southwest-wine-guide.com

It’s never easy learning how to taste wine but it’s only because we don’t try hard enough to learn it because it intimidates us. The first time I tried to learn wine-tasting,  I thought that maybe this is really just for the snobby elite whose palates are used to everything rich and fine.

But really, wine-tasting is the best part of actually enjoying the wine. The thing is, developing an experienced taste for wine also labels you as some kind of snob, which is quite common among wine enthusiasts and those immersed in the wine culture in general. However, nothing can be further from the truth.

First of all, start with a clean mouth and make sure that you’re well hydrated. Don’t brush your teeth immediately before tasting wine as it will be harder to taste and it will actually increase your teeth’s chances of being stained. It all actually boils down to four steps: smell, taste, swallow/spit and think. What you smell should be what you taste and what you taste shouldn’t be the booze but the flavor profile of the wine, which could be fruity, acidic, sweet or dry.

As for the spitting part, you only need to learn this if you have to attend about 20 wine tastings and have to drive yourself to the wineries and back home. The last thing you want is to get drunk from all the sips you’re going to take.

If you want to learn more about tasting wine properly, check out this video:

How To Taste Wine (Sans Snobbery) (youtube.com)

Red Wine Recipes With Five Ingredients Or Less

Standard

Like I mentioned in my post the other day, I have for you some recipes that incorporate the use of red wine. I went over to Pinterest and compiled these three easy meal ideas you can try. By the end of this post, you will surely be craving for some wine!

recipe1Chicken with red wine and prunes

Slow cook chicken with herbs and spices, prunes and 1 cup of red wine. When chicken is tender, remove. Sprinkle flour to juices in the pan and cook until thick. Pour juices over chicken and serve. Super easy! Check out the complete recipe over at Huffington Post by Sandy Gluck.

recipe2Red Wine Marinade

This can be used for beef, chicken, pork or shrimp. Mix orange juice, soy, and red wine. Marinate according to required hours (this depends on your meat) and grill. That’s it! Complete recipe at That Skinny Chick.
.

recipe 3

Red Wine Poached Pears

This one came from williams-sonoma.com. Place pears in a pan, add red wine, sugar, and water. Bring to a boil over medium heat until pears are soft. Remove pears and boil remaining liquid until reduced by half and then pour over pears.

Feel free to experiment with food and wine!

—–
Top photo credit: Ross Reitzammer (flickr.com)

Your Guide To Cooking Delicious Meals With Red Wine

red wine
Standard

Have some leftover red wine that you don’t know what to do with? Then why not cook with it! Wine when exposed to air is not going to store well, so if you’ve got half empty bottles lying around, you better use them up fast so you won’t create waste. And there’s no better way to do that than to incorporate red wine in your meals.

Now you might be wondering why the heck you would do that. Well for two reasons. One, wine is healthy—healthy enough to take every day in moderation. It is rich in antioxidants, which is always a plus, and it’s fermented; it will help promote a healthy digestive system.  Second reason, it will enhance the flavor and aroma of your meals. And who doesn’t enjoy a hearty meal every now and then?

So you’ve seen chefs and other people cooking with wine but you’ve got no clue where to start. Not to fret, I’ve got just the thing for you. Here are the basics in cooking delicious and flavorful meals with red wine:

  • If you can drink it, you can cook with it. What I’m trying to say here is that if you cannot drink it, then best not to cook it. Watch out for wines that are faulty. Immediately return wine bottles that smell funky. The most common you will encounter is cork taint where the wine will smell moldy and musty.
  • Stay away from specialty cooking wines. Other than being costly, they have high salt content and if you’re not that skilled in the kitchen, your dish could end up a salty disaster.
  • Use wine when there’s plenty of cooking time. It’s not advisable to add the wine at the later part of cooking because its taste will stand out and not blend with the rest of the flavors. It should at least cook for 4 minutes into the dish. Also, the longer you cook the wine, the lesser the alcohol content.
  • Basic wine flavors are fruity, spicy, acidic, sweet, earthy and oaky. Use the subtle flavors of your wine to complement the food you’re cooking. If you want a sweet dish, go with sweet wine, so on and so forth. As a rule, red wine goes best with dark-colored meats and highly seasoned dishes.
red wine

Photo by: Food Thinkers (Flickr.com)

  • There’s a fun saying that goes “If it grows together, it goes together”. If your ingredients are locally grown, it is better use local wines, too.
  • Use red wines in marinades, sauces and in simmering. This will keep your meat moist as it cooks. For sauces, let the wine cook down until the red fades. Simmering with wine is another great way to instantly add both flavor and moisture.

That’s it for the most important things to remember when you’re adding wine into your meals. I will post some great sample recipes that use red wine real soon. Do watch out for that!

Related Articles Around The Web:

6 Secrets Of Cooking With Wine (webmd.com)
Does Cooking Strip Red Wine’s Benefits? (nytimes.com)

—–

Top photo credit: Great British Chefs Team (Flickr.com)

The Sydney Royal Wine Experience

Standard

Wine tasting rarely has a competitive nature to it. It also rarely gathers multiple award-winning wines available for tickling countless people’s taste buds. If you want to sample almost a thousand of the best wines in Australia, then you will want to be in Sydney on March 1st.

The Sydney Royal Wine Experience will be held at Sydney Showground. The doors open at 2pm and lasts until 6pm. The venue will have up to one thousand wines to choose from. You can enjoy these with friends or with your significant others. You can even go alone so you’ll be more familiar with the best wines and know which ones to keep an eye on for future potential purchases.

This is not your usual wine-tasting event. The Royal Agricultural Society of New South Wales, which also holds other agricultural events such as the Fine Food and Cheese Show, will have you partake in various gourmet products that will be served by friendly chefs.

The food will not be your usual food either. You will be served award-winning products as well, which will go hand in hand with award-winning wines you will be sampling. Book your tickets and you’ll also be educated on how the glass you use can alter your perception to the taste of the wine in it.

An Easy-to-Understand Newbie Guide to Wines

Standard

Wines are sophisticated enough to warrant schools devoted to teaching people how to distinguish one wine from another. The really skilled ones not only can recognize the brand of the wine, but can also accurately state the ingredients of the said wine. Apparently, going to these schools also seems to develop one’s English skills as the wine taster often recites poetry after tasting the wine. Beer has the same effect sometimes, although the words are slurred a little more. Unlike beer, however, wine can look like rocket science to outsiders, so here are a few basics on understanding wine.

Where Wine Comes From

If you’ve seen a cartoon where the primary character stomps on some grapes and pours the liquefied result into a glass, then you’re probably too old. Kidding aside, wine is the result of grape fermentation. Sometimes something else besides or in addition to grapes is used. For instance, fermenting rice makes rice wine, or sake. The fermentation process dictates the wine color and sweetness.

Wine Colors

Wines come in different colors. These colors signify the different methods of producing the wine. For instance, the most common wines are red and white. White wines are produced by using green grapes while red wines are produced by using black ones. Sparkling wines, such as champagne, are produced with any grape type, but they undergo another fermentation process which causes the signature bubbles to form.

Other wine types include rosé and fortified wine. Rosé wine is the not-red-enough wine. Fortified wine is wine that’s backed up with spirits, making it a little stronger. In short, red wine equals red, white wine equals golden, sparkling wine equals bubbles, rosé wine equals pink, and fortified wine equals dark purplish colors. It’s important to note that a particular brand of wine doesn’t tie itself solely to a wine type. For instance, a Barossa Valley Shiraz is typically a red wine, but the same grape variety can be found in rosé and fortified wines.

Basic Wine Taste

Distinguishing flavors are best left for pros. Newbies should start with the basic taste – that is how sweet the wine is. Typically, the sweeter the wine tastes, the less alcohol it contains as some sugars weren’t converted into alcohol during the fermentation process. When someone refers to the wine as “dry” it means the wine isn’t sweet.

Wine Producers

The biggest wine producer is France, which adds to the stereotypical picture of a mustached Frenchman holding a baguette on one hand and a wine bottle in the other. At any rate, when buying wines, take note of the top wine-producing countries. For instance, Australia produces excellent Shiraz wines.

That’s basically it. When consuming wine, just remember to drink in moderate amounts. Wine has its benefits, but even the best medicine can be poison when taken in huge amounts.

You might also like:

Chocolate, Tea And Wine Could Guard Against Diabetes (huffingtonpost.co.uk)

Wine varietals: A glossary (edition.cnn.com)

Experience Australia: the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival

Standard

The end of February and the first two weeks of March heralds one of Australia’s biggest events: the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival. The festival kicks off at February 28th and will last until March 16th.

Whether you are visiting the country for the first time or are just not from Melbourne, you will want to be in the area during those times.

The food festival will feature over 200 events that will run over the course of a little over two weeks, so there will be plenty of attractions for anyone who loves food, music, a little bit of drinking, and just want to have some fun. For a full Australian experience, this festival is not one to be missed.

Each event will have its own price tag, so be sure to check the event calendar. You’ll want to know what events will happen and when they will happen and then purchase the tickets in advance. If you’re on a tight budget, you’ll want to know which ones you will want to participate in. Here’s a little preview:

Even better, you can participate in the various free events. While these won’t need ticket purchases, make sure you book in advance as some free events can only hold so many people and can still technically sell out.

Domaine Chandon’s Secret Garden Party

Standard

Image courtesy of store.chandon.com.au

For wine lovers and wine enthusiasts in Australia, a fun-filled, chic wine event is once again coming your way this February.

 After a successful run in 2013, Domaine Chandon’s Secret Garden Party returns to bedazzle your taste buds this year. Delicious food and a fine selection of four top-quality Chandon wines await you in the vineyards of Yarra Valley.

 Mark your calendars, the Secret Garden Party will be held on February 8, 2014 in Domaine Chandon winery, 727 Maroondah Highway, Coldstream, Victoria. Tickets are available for $75 per person. Remember, this party is for 18-year-olds and above only.

 Want more? As a guest, you will have the chance to win this year’s special prize – a chauffeured ride with four of your friends to the vast winery. For an even more enchanting tour, a scenic helicopter flight over the stunning wine valleys to the Crown Entertainment Complex will be the prize’s finale.

Image courtesy of shutterstock

What a perfect time unwind without the teeny tots. Relax, have fun, be entertained and bask in the richness and goodness of sultry, sweet or dry wines in the world-renowned gardens of Domaine Chandon.

 Don’t wait too long to reserve your spot, this is expected to be most certainly another sold out event like last year.

Online Wine Buying Dos and Don’ts

Standard
Image

image courtesy of liveinthenow.com

Australia is one of the greats when it comes to wine making and selling, being a key industry player in the world producing and exporting a significant volume annually. Being so, you can expect a broad range of wine types you can choose from Down Under, allowing you to enjoy a solid selection of the must-have drink for practically any occasion.

Thanks to modern technology, you need not physically visit shops everywhere to buy a bottle or an entire case of wines.  Finding the best wine for you is easier this time around, as you can simply find the best wines online and even enjoy discounts and extra perks without having to leave the comfort of your couch.

As with finding any great buy, however, there are basic rules you need to know in order to make the best selection of wine for your specific need or event. Needless to say, not all wine shops are created equal, prompting you to exercise prudence when it comes to dealing with online wine sellers.

First off, explore the website and see if it sells what you need. Are the vintages exactly what you are searching for? Are the top quality brands sold at the right prices? Treat your website navigation as a window shopping of sorts. See the brands, the vintages, the prices and the services they offer – and find out which ones sell the wines you actually want.

Make sure the online wine dealer you choose adheres to laws governing wine deliveries.  Many buyers tend to ignore the fact that these laws exist in their state or county, and the rules may differ in other places. It is also important that their delivery services, shipping costs, minimum required purchase, and rates apply to your area.

Find out how what other customers say about the wine selling company or website. Be a smart buyer and take a step ahead by checking out forums and testimonials. You’ll be surprised how real customers, happy and unhappy alike, are willing to share their experiences. You can browse online for this or talk to people who know about it.

Annual food and wine events are organized in Australia and in other parts of the world. A way to see if an online wine site is legitimate and trustworthy is their participation in exhibits and expos. If your chosen online wine dealer is an active participant, you’ll know they must have an edge over the others in terms of the bottles they sell and the services they offer.

Scouring the Internet for legitimate and quality wine-selling companies does not promise to be a walk in the park. The task becomes easy, though, when you know what to look for and how to make good judgments.

Related Articles:

Buying Wine On a Dime (online.wsj.com)

Wine Buying Tips (www.winegeeks.com)

Enjoying Wine by The Glass

Standard

Photo Credit: realsimple.com

Believe it or not, to enjoy a glass of wine, you need to use the right wine glasses. It would appear that pouring wine into ordinary glasses just won’t do considering the process the liquid itself went through just to pass muster in taste, body, complexity and balance.

For those who are new to wine drinking, it can be a life-changing experience to actually take their first sip of wine from real stemware rather than plastic cups. OK, so maybe it can be quite an expense to buy wine glasses but if you’re really serious about enjoying wine, you should go through the whole nine yards. After all, nothing worth having is easy to get and that includes enjoying and savoring your favorite wines.

There are only two things to remember when it comes to getting the best wine glasses. First, choose the varietal specific glass of the varietal you enjoy most because from there you can go ahead and build your wine collection. If you love Pinot Noir, then go and buy Pinot Noir glasses. Second, you should remember is to spend approximately the same amount of money per glass as you would spend on a bottle of wine.

Enjoy!

To learn more about enjoying a glass of wine, check out this video:

How to Best Enjoy A Glass of Wine (youtube.com)

Sights, Sounds, Smells and Tastes You’ll Surely Enjoy

Standard

Photo Credit: SATC

The Taste Festivals are always something to behold. If you’re new to these festivities, you’ll enjoy being bombarded by delicious sights, sounds, smells and tastes that will make your senses run riot.

As far as I can remember, food festivals are always something I looked forward to whenever I visit a particular place that is renowned for these activities. It is for me, the best way to experience a country’s culture and traditions, as well as a chance to taste the local cuisine which more often than not, is a culinary adventure not worth missing.

Also worth seeing are the exhibitions that showcase the best of art and film in the areas where these festivals are held. To truly experience what culture is, you need to immerse yourself in the local art and get a feel of the local artists’ aesthetics and perspectives which may surprisingly match your own.

With all roads leading to the town of Naracoorte come February 7-9, 2014, all tourists old and new can look forward to experiencing the best of the region’s reputable wineries and gourmet food producers as well as the best music and entertainment. Come one, come all and enjoy a tasteful sensation like you’ve never experienced before.

Check out what you can look forward to on this three-day taste trip:

Saturday at the Taste

Posters from the Taste Festival website

Friday at the Taste

Posters from the Taste Festival website

Sunday at the Races

Posters from the Taste Festival website