Our Premium Edition is now available
There's not much risk involved in taking a gamble on an unknown $10 bottle of wine. But on those occasions when you're in the market for something special, it can be a little more daunting to think about dropping $30 or more without knowing for certain that the investment will please you.
Our new biweekly 30 Second Wine Advisor Premium Edition offers the same trustworthy, consumer-oriented wine-buying counsel that you've come to expect from us for wines of value, but it will cover selected wines in the "next tier," giving you the plain-talk advice you need to shop with confidence when you're spending a little more.
Is the Premium Edition right for you? For more information, or to become a charter subscriber, click
Every now and then a Wine Advisor topic generates such an unexpected amount of responses in E-mail and on our interactive forum that it demands a quick follow-up to cover all the questions and comments that came in.
Given my perception that Sherry is a niche market even among serious wine fanciers, I was pleasantly surprised by the outpouring of mail that followed Monday's brief discussion and tasting note.
So let's stick with the subject for one more day as I hit some of the high points raised in your responses.
KEEPING LEFTOVER SHERRY
I wish there was a simple answer, but the correct response is, "It depends." Exposure to air causes quick deterioration in wine, but Sherry - like its cousin Madeira - is naturally oxidized, so additional exposure to oxygen isn't as harmful to most Sherries as it is to table wines. Alcoholic fortification also helps preserve it.
So, particularly the heavier and sweeter Sherries - Olorosos and Creams, Moscatel and Pedro Ximenez - will hold up quite well if you simply put the cork back in and put them in the refrigerator. They won't keep forever. Eventually their flavors will become dull and funky. But Sherries of this style should be drinkable for a week to several weeks, depending on your taste - and may remain usable as a cooking ingredient for longer still.
Don't try this with Fino, however, or with its cousin Manzanilla. These are the lightest and most delicate Sherries, and they are fragile, deteriorate quickly once the bottle is opened. I would keep leftover Fino or Manzanilla tightly corked in the refrigerator and plan to enjoy the rest of the bottle within a couple of days.
Also, in contrast with my general advice about serving Sherry at room temperature or cool cellar temperature, Fino (and Manzanilla) is usually served cold.
SPEAKING OF MANZANILLA
The conventional wisdom expects a "salty" taste in Manzanilla (sometimes attributed to its proximity to the seacoast), although I'm not convinced that I could consistently tell a Manzanilla from a Fino in a blind tasting. If you're buying Manzanilla, follow the same rules as for Fino: Buy it fresh, don't let it age, and don't expect the leftovers to last.
ARE THERE HIGH-END SHERRIES?
However, one respected Sherry producer, Emilio Lustau, offers a fairly wide range of Sherries labeled "Almacenista," making commercial use of an old Sherry-industry term for suppliers who sell what might be described as "small-batch" Sherries from individual producers or vineyards. Lustau Almacenistas usually retail in the $20 to $40 range and can be quite interesting. For more information check the Emilio Lustau Website
WHAT'S SO GREAT ABOUT AMONTILLADO?
"Amontillado excites me not.
"Maybe it's because I always associate Amontillado with that dusty bottle of Dry Sack that's been sitting half empty on the back of the shelf for several months waiting for someone to think of it and bring it out for company. Or perhaps it reminds me of those awful 'teas' in college, especially the ones where the professor in his tweedy jacket with the leather elbow patches and the litle belt in the back would dispense the little glasses of Amontillado from those little teardrop-shaped dispensers, one of Amontillado and one of 'Port,' which we'd stand around and drink, trying not to shudder at the awfulness of it all, and wondered how in the world we could graciously beg off and get the hell out of that stuffy room with those pretentious people and go grab a beer and a pizza.
"Maybe it's the fact that most of the Amontillado out there
"I don't know. But to this day, while I can appreciate and acknowledge good Amontillados, I don't really, down deep, like them very much."
All of which demonstrates that, in the world of wine, the only taste buds that we really need to satisfy are our own.
TALK ABOUT SHERRY ONLINE
The discussion of Sherry that followed Monday's article is still online and still open for reading and replies at
If you prefer to comment privately, feel free to send me E-mail at email@example.com. I'm sorry that the overwhelming amount of mail I receive makes it tough to respond personally every time, but I do try to get back to as many as I can.
Eric Texier 2000 Chateauneuf-du-Pape Blanc ($25)
This clear, light-gold wine breathes an appetizing mixture of gently oxidative aromatics typical of white Rhones: Honey, almonds and hazelnuts dancing with white fruit and flowers. Fruit is more forward on the palate than the nose, lush tropical flavors of pineapple and kiwi and even a hint of banana oil. Lush if not quite soft, acidity is present, but the steel is cushioned by velvet. Impressive wine, "Vieilles Vignes" (old vines) and unfiltered. U.S. importer: There's no importer label on this wine from NYC's Chambers Street Wines
FOOD MATCH: Fine with a simple roast chicken, which makes an excellent foil for the wine's rich, robust flavors.
VALUE: Quality white Chateauneuf-du-Pape is not a budget wine, unfortunately, but this is an exceptionally fine wine, certainly a match for its white-wine competitors in the $25 to $35 range.
WHEN TO DRINK: White Chateauneuf-du-Pape is delicious upon release, but it can gain richness and complexity with careful bottle aging. Try holding it five years, but don't bother unless you have good cellar conditions.
WEB LINK: Vins Eric Texier has a comprehensive Website in English at
FIND THIS WINE ONLINE: Find prices and vendors for Texier's Chateauneuf-du-Pape Blanc on Wine-Searcher.com:
To subscribe or unsubscribe from The 30 Second Wine Advisor, change your E-mail address, or for any other administrative matters, please use the individualized hotlink found at the end of your E-mail edition. If this is not practical, contact me by E-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, including the exact E-mail address that you used when you subscribed, so I can find your record.
We do not use our E-mail list for any other purpose and will never give or sell your name or E-mail address to anyone. I welcome feedback, suggestions, and ideas for future columns. To contact me, please send E-mail to email@example.com
All the wine-tasting reports posted here are consumer-oriented. In order to maintain objectivity and avoid conflicts of interest, I purchase all the wines I rate at my own expense in retail stores and accept no samples, gifts or other gratuities from the wine industry.
Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2004