30 Second Wine Advisor
Announcing the Wine Advisor's new Premium Edition!
With grateful thanks to the more than 500 of you who responded to my call for suggestions and advice last week, I'm delighted to announce the coming launch of our new 30 Second Wine Advisor Premium Edition. This new biweekly subscription-only E-letter will offer trustworthy, consumer-oriented wine-buying advice to help you shop with confidence for selected wines for special occasions. Read the details below, or click here to subscribe now,
www.wineloverspage.com/
wineadvisor/premium.phtml


Today's sponsor
California Wine Club
Collector or Connoisseur? The California Wine Club's Signature Series is worth taking a look at! The Signature Series includes a two-bottle shipment of California's most coveted and highly rated luxury and library reserve wines. Members receive access to wines that are impossible to find, a benefit that comes from 14 years of strong winery ties built by Club owners, Bruce and Pam Boring.
(Click to "California Wine Club" below)

In This Issue
 To warm a winter night
 Wisdom & Warter non-vintage Extra Amontillado Sherry ($9.49)
 California Wine Club
 Announcing the Wine Advisor's new Premium Edition!
 Support WineLoversPage.Com and the 30 Second Wine Advisor
 This week on WineLoversPage.com
Last Week's Wine Advisor Index
Administrivia

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To warm a winter night

It's Groundhog Day, the Super Bowl is behind us, and as the world slouches into February, I'm just about ready to start looking for the first signs of spring. I'm not much of a winter enthusiast anyway, and an ice storm last week followed by this region's first sub-zero reading in eight years has just about given me my fill of the season for another year.

But winter has its saving graces, and one of them is Sherry.

Not that there's anything wrong with enjoying a taste of Sherry at any time of year, but there's something about a brisk, blustery winter night that makes a glass of this warming Spanish fortified wine seem just right.

A lot of wine lovers are dubious about Sherry, in part because of its reputation as a sweet, insipid drink served in tiny glasses to be sipped with pinky extended (actually, many Sherries are "dry," and the real thing is rarely insipid); and in part because it is so distinctly different from most table wines and traditional dessert wines that it almost seems like a different beverage entirely.

Sherries can range from dry (the relatively light style called "Fino") to rich and dry (today's featured Sherry, "Amontillado" and the fuller-bodied "Oloroso") to sugary ("Cream" Sherry, which is sweetened Oloroso, or the toothache-sweet "Pedro Ximenez" and "Moscatel," which are named after specific grape varieties).

Whatever their sweetness, all share the characteristics that make Sherry unique among wines: They're naturally oxidized, fermented in open vessels under a white, fuzzy blanket of an odd natural yeast called "flor," yielding distinctive nutlike aromas and flavors and a brownish color that ranges from pale gold through caramel to mahogany. And all but Fino are "fortified" with the addition of brandy, which stops fermentation, stabilizes the wine and provides a warming strength.

Another process that separates Sherry from all other wines is the "solera," a system in which wines of many vintages are mixed together in a stack of barrels, older wines being used to top up newer barrels down through the years until the wines drawn off for bottling contain an amazing blend of vintages that may extend back a century or more. (Today's wine is the result of a solera that began in 1918, an impressive age, although it should be noted that solera is not equivalent to vintage - at most there will be only a few drops of 1918 wine in any one bottle.)

Readers frequently ask if Sherry should be served chilled or at room temperature. As with other fortified and dessert wines, never serve it cold, which will make the wine seem light-bodied and tart. Room temperature is fine, although if you want to experiment, try bringing your bottle down to a cool but not icy "cellar temperature" by sticking it in the refrigerator for no more than a half-hour before serving.

Sherry is fine for sipping on its own, after dinner or - especially with Fino - as a whet-the-appetite aperitif. But don't underestimate it as a food wine, serving it as the Spaniards do with a wide variety of bite-size tapas, particularly seafood. I like it with onion soup, with blue cheese (try a Spanish Cabrales for a nice ethnic match), or playing up to the wine's natural flavors, freshly cracked walnuts, hazelnuts and pecans.

Finally, here's one of the best things about Sherry: Largely because it is widely misunderstood and not wildly popular in the marketplace, it's rarely expensive. Today's wine, a delicious, balanced and complex drink of substantial character, bore a price tag of just $9.49.

Amontillado ("Ah-MOHN-tee-YAH-doe") - a name familiar to anyone who ever read Edgar Allen Poe's deliciously scary short story - means "in the style of Montilla," a wine region near Jerez (Sherry) in Southern Spain. It's essentially a Fino that has been fortified to stop fermentation, then allowed to oxidize under controlled conditions to a light, tawny richness. More full-bodied than Fino, it's warming but dry or nearly so; it makes a fine after-dinner drink, but don't mistake it for a dessert wine.

IS SHERRY FOR YOU?
Love it or hate it, share your Sherry experiences with our Wine Lovers' Discussion Group, where you're always welcome to participate in online wine conversations. To join in an interactive round-table online discussion on today's article, click to
http://www.myspeakerscorner.com/forum/index.phtml?fn=1&tid=48229&mid=406892

If you prefer to comment privately, feel free to send me E-mail at wine@wineloverspage.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.


Wisdom & Warter Wisdom & Warter non-vintage Extra Amontillado Sherry ($9.49)

This modestly priced Amontillado is a clear, light golden-brown, approaching a caramel color. Its appealing aroma is full of nutlike character that mixes walnuts with something lighter like pecans. It's all walnuts in the flavor, though; black walnuts, freshly cracked from the shell, rich and full-bodied, with a hint of a yeasty fresh-bread note and a gently sharp lemony tang to add structure and flavor interest. Neither a traditional table wine nor a dessert wine, it requires Sherry's usual paradigm reset, well worth making the effort on a cold winter night. U.S. importer: Excelsior Wine and Spirits, Old Brookville, N.Y. (Feb. 1, 2004)

FOOD MATCH: Served by itself as an after-dinner drink. For accompanying munchies, think of complementary flavors: Cracked nuts, robust cheeses (even blue cheese) and dried fruit.

VALUE: Most Sherries are underpriced, and this one is no exception. Once you've made the mental shift to Sherry, it's hard to imagine a wine this appealing for a single-digit price.

WHEN TO DRINK: In contrast with sweeter Sherries, dry Amontillado shows its delicacy best when it's reasonably fresh, but it will certainly keep in the unopened bottle for several years.

WEB LINK: Wisdom & Warter's Website is online in Spanish and English. Click the flag for the language of your choice at
http://www.wisdomwarter.es/

FIND THIS WINE ONLINE: Find prices and vendors for Wisdom & Warter Sherries on Wine-Searcher.com:
http://www.wine-searcher.com/find/Wisdom+Warter/-/-/USD/A?referring_site=WLP


California Wine Club

California Wine Club

Collector or Connoisseur? The California Wine Club's Signature Series is worth taking a look at! The Signature Series includes a two-bottle shipment of California's most coveted and highly rated luxury and library reserve wines. Members receive access to wines that are impossible to find, a benefit that comes from 14 years of strong winery ties built by Club owners, Bruce and Pam Boring.

Each two-bottle shipment includes tasting notes and winemaker comments. The price, including shipping and handling, averages between $75 and $125. Shipments can arrive monthly, bi-monthly or even quarterly. Call 1-800-777-4443 or visit
http://www.cawineclub.com
Mention The 30 Second Wine Advisor and they'll include three bottles for the price of two in your first shipment.


Announcing the Wine Advisor's new Premium Edition!

With grateful thanks to the more than 500 of you who responded to my call for suggestions and advice last week, I'm delighted to announce the coming launch of our new 30 Second Wine Advisor Premium Edition. This new biweekly subscription-only E-letter will offer trustworthy, consumer-oriented wine-buying advice to help you shop with confidence for selected wines for special occasions.

WHAT IS THE PREMIUM EDITION? Every other Tuesday, we'll report on one or two excellent wines, usually available from wine shops in the $30 to $60 range, occasionally a bit more, but always wines of exceptional value for their price, and no limited-production "cult" rarities that few wine lovers can find.

As with all my reviews, these tell-them-as-I-see-them reports will be based entirely on wines that I purchase at my own expense, to avoid any conflict of interest, and will feature in-depth information including full, plain-English tasting notes based on tasting both in isolation and with appropriate food, along with food-matching advice (including links to recipes for those who enjoy cooking as well as tasting wine), my recommendations for cellaring and peak drinkability, and other interesting information to help you enjoy the wines with your intellect as well as your senses.

We'll feature a world of wines, choosing selections from all major wine regions, and - recognizing that quality artisanal wines aren't always easy to find, I'll avoid featuring small-production rarities and make every effort to feature wines that should be reasonably available in most metropolitan areas, along with as much information as I can muster to help you locate local or Internet vendors.

IS THE PREMIUM EDITION FOR YOU?
Frankly, if you never buy wine for more than $20, I think you'll find all you need in our free Wine Advisor. And if you actually like poring over the hundreds of upscale wines featured in the glossy print wine publications and making your own decisions about purchases at the special-occasion level, you may find this edition just one more in a variety of tools at your command.

But if you would really rather have a source who you've learned to trust present you with a regular, reasonable supply of "good buy" recommendations based on objective, consumer-oriented reviews, then I believe you'll find the modest $24 subscription fee an investment that will quickly pay for itself in wine pleasure, and the happy feeling of having wasted no money on overpriced bottles that you didn't enjoy.

And, of course, you'll have my special thanks, as your subscription not only makes it possible for me to purchase all the wines I review, but also helps support the wealth of free features that we offer on WineLoversPage.com.

SUBSCRIBE TODAY!
I'm planning to distribute the first edition on Tuesday, Feb. 10, just in time to recommend a very special wine or two for sharing with a loved one on Valentine's Day. To become a charter subscriber, click now to
http://www.wineloverspage.com/wineadvisor/premium.phtml
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Support WineLoversPage.com and the 30 Second Wine Advisor

In the wine business? Why pay the big bucks for print media or television when there's no quicker, better or more efficient way to deliver a wine-related message to wine lovers around the world than an advertising "sponsorship" on WineLoversPage.com.

From a quick, simple text message in The 30 Second Wine Advisor to Web "banner" advertising or even an intense, saturation campaign reaching millions of wine-savvy readers, WineLoversPage.com offers programs to meet the needs of wine businesses both large and small, with rates and effectiveness that the competition can't match.

Sponsorships range from as little as $100 a month for starter programs to saturation campaigns that can reach 1 million readers or more. For more information, write me today at wine@wineloverspage.com.


This week on WineLoversPage.com

Here are links to some of our recently published articles and features that I hope you'll enjoy:

Nat Decants - Calling the Shots; My Joe Job
Natalie MacLean didn't realize how many parallels there are between the worlds of coffee and wine (and of sommeliers and baristas) until she went through a Starbucks training program and worked in a store for a morning. It also hit home just how profoundly Starbucks has influenced ourculture. Consider this report a coffee break from the usual wine topics ....
http://www.wineloverspage.com/natdecants/coffee.phtml

Wine Lovers' Discussion Group: Favorite wine with chocolate?
It's that time of year again, as Valentine's Day approaches: What beverage goes with chocolate? Participants in our Wine Lovers' Discussion group are pondering this evergreen wine question this week, with suggestions ranging from the sweet Grenache-based red French wines Banyuls and Maury to Tawny Port and even dry Cabernets, not to mention hot coffee and cold milk. You're invited to read the discussion, and post your own opinion, in our interactive online discussion forum.
http://www.myspeakerscorner.com/forum/index.phtml?fn=1&tid=48145&mid=406177


Last Week's Wine Advisor Index

The Wine Advisor's daily edition is usually distributed on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays (and, for those who subscribe, the FoodLetter on Thursdays). Here's the index to last week's columns:

 Introducing Burgundy: Morey-Saint-Denis (Jan. 30, 2004)
http://www.wineloverspage.com/wineadvisor1/tswa040130.phtml

 Martini meets Gallo (Jan. 28, 2004)
http://www.wineloverspage.com/wineadvisor1/tswa040128.phtml

 About Viognier (Jan. 26, 2004)
http://www.wineloverspage.com/wineadvisor1/tswa040126.phtml

 Complete 30 Second Wine Advisor archive:
http://www.wineloverspage.com/wineadvisor1/thelist.shtml

 Wine Advisor FoodLetter: Burgundian pork chops (Jan. 29, 2004)
http://www.wineloverspage.com/wineadvisor1/tsfl040129.phtml

 Wine Advisor Foodletter archive:
http://www.wineloverspage.com/wineadvisor1/foodlist.phtml


Administrivia

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 wine@wineloverspage.com, 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 wine@wineloverspage.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.

Monday, Feb. 2, 2004
Copyright 2004 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

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