In this week's Premium Edition:|
A dessert wine of quality and value
Cheap sweet wines are rarely good, and good dessert wines are rarely cheap. The hand-picking and time-consuming wine making that goes into rare dessert wines takes most of the good ones out of the everyday budget range. We'll tell subscribers about a surprisingly reasonable goodie in the low $30s, though, along with more tips on finding dessert-wine value, in this week's Wine Advisor Premium Edition. This biweekly, subscription-only E-letter makes it easy to shop with confidence when you're considering a more pricey bottle for a special occasion ... and your subscription helps support WineLoversPage.com. Subscribe today!
Keeping your cool
It's a week past the summer solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, but we're still enjoying cool nights and balmy days more typical of early May than late June in these Border South latitudes.
But it can't last, so with steamy weather not far off for those of us who aren't already into it, today is as good a time as any for a recurring sermon on wine-serving temperature. Specifically, let's take a skeptical summer look at the conventional wisdom that red wines should always be served at room temperature and whites well chilled.
As a general guide, there's merit to this approach. Red wines - particularly full-bodied and tannic reds - generally seem out of whack if they're served ice cold. A tongue-numbing chill makes it difficult to find the wine's fruit, while emphasizing the wine's acidic tartness and tannic astringency, throwing the wine badly out of balance. Simpler-style whites (and summery pink wines), on the other hand, having little complexity to lose, may seem more refreshing if served cold enough to bead the glass on a summer day.
But with wine, as with most other things, most of us live in the broad range between the extremes. You don't want to drink any good-quality wine so cold that it stuns your taste buds and defeats the wine's complexity. I often find White Burgundies, to take one good example, show their best as warm as "cellar temperature," around 55F (13C).
And when the weather outside is frightfully hot and humid, it's time to remember that "room temperature," for wine, originally referred to the dank and chilly temperature of rooms in drafty European castles. When the thermometer on the patio rises into the 90s F (30s C) and the air conditioning has to struggle to hold your dining room under 80, "room temperature" takes on an entirely different meaning.
A lot of wine enthusiasts simply shun reds during the summer months, feeling that these fuller-flavored, hearty wines just don't seem right in hot weather. But here's a simple way to make even the most robust red a year-round wine: Don't be afraid to stash it in the refrigerator just long enough before dinner to cool down a bit.
Don't overdo it - try a 30- to 45-minute chill to take the better stuff down to 70F or so; an hour or a little more to bring light and fruity quaffers or rustic table reds like today's featured wine from Sardinia down to 60F or thereabouts. I think you'll find the wine keeps all its complexity, tastes more refreshing, and will likely seem better balanced than it does at summer heat.
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Today's wine hails from Sardinia (called "Isola dei Nuraghi" or "Island of the Nuraghi" after Sardinia's thousands of historic stone towers that are said to date back to the Carthaginians. The wine is made from the Monica grape, an indigenous variety that Jancis Robinson dismisses as "undistinguished." In this rendition, though, it makes a hearty and rustic red that can not only take a chill but probably benefits from being served cool on a hot summer day.Argiolas 2001 "Perdera" Isola dei Nuraghi ($11.99)
This wine's blackish, opaque color allows only glints of ruby to shine through. Red fruit and oaky spice blend in a berrylike aroma with interesting apple-like notes unusual in a red wine. Full and warm in flavor, plummy and peppery; sharp acidity and rather scratchy tannins are present but subsidiary to abundant if rather simple fruit. Rustic and a bit rough, but well structured and enjoyable with food. U.S. importer: Winebow Inc., NYC.; a Leonardo Locascio selection. (June 24, 2004)
FOOD MATCH: Good with any grilled meat; surprisingly well matched with fresh-made bratwurst sausage formed as patties, not links, from the charcoal grill.
VALUE: Not unfairly priced at $12, particularly for the interest of trying a wine from a relatively unusual region; but I wouldn't want to pay much more for a wine of this simple, rustic style. Shop the Web if you can, as I've seen it advertised as low as $9 for the 2001, at which point it is a much better value.
WHEN TO DRINK: It certainly has the balance and tannins to keep for several years in the cellar, although the chances are it will simply hold rather than improve with age.
PRONUNCIATIONS: After many requests (not least from that Australian buddy, you know who you are), I'm adding this segment as a regular feature in tasting reports. Pronounciations are approximate and not necessarily fluent, aimed simply at providing English speakers an easy guide to help get close enough to the original to be understood.
FIND THIS WINE ONLINE: Find vendors and compare prices for the wines of Argiolas on Wine-Searcher.com,
Fine wine doesn't last forever,
but now your fine crystal can:
Schott Zwiesel from BrentwoodWine.com
Fine wine doesn't last forever, but now your fine crystal can: The world's brightest and most durable crystal is the new titanium-based series from Schott Zwiesel.
Schott built on 130 years of innovation and excellence to develop a new patented process that uses titanium oxide in place of the lead oxide that other crystal manufacturers use. This results in a brighter crystal that is truly break resistant, practically unscratchable and virtually unstainable.
This fine mouth-blown crystal is made to enhance the characteristics of each varietal, with the finesse and fine ring you have come to expect ... and they are dishwasher safe and can often survive dropping! They are exquisitely balanced with a dramatic sense of flair that makes them incredibly elegant.
Now you can have it all from Brentwood Wine, the first authorized reseller of titanium-based Schott Zwiesel products in the United States. Dial 1-503-638-9463 for complete information, or visit Brentwood online,
Dealer inquiries are welcome, too! Call 1-503-638-9463.
Wine Lovers' Voting Booth:
Buy it, drink it, or wait?
Our previous Voting Booth topic asked your opinions about how long wine needs to be allowed to rest in order to recover from the abuse of shipping and delivery. This time, we ask a related question that may be easier for the everyday wine lover to answer: "How soon after buying a bottle of wine do you usually drink it?"
Click to the Wine Lovers' Voting Booth to cast your ballot:
2001 Prices with The California Wine Club!
It's The California Wine Club's Santa's Summer Sale and they're rolling back their prices THREE YEARS! Place your holiday gifts now, there's no billing and no shipping until December PLUS you'll save up to $65 per order! For a limited time only, The California Wine Club is giving you 2001 prices on holiday gift orders!
In addition, if you order three gifts or more The California Wine Club will send YOU a month on them. It's a $40.95 value, absolutely free.
2001 prices are available for a limited time only! Why not get your shopping done early? You'll save money, time and may even relax during the upcoming holiday season! Call 1-800-777-4443 or visit
This week on WineLoversPage.com
Here are links to some of our recently published articles that I think you'll enjoy:
Schaefer on Wine: Shock and Syrah
Bucko's Wine Reports: New Wines for Late Spring
WebWineMan: Break Out the Beach Balls!
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:
Forward, Marches! (June 25, 2004)
"Mid-Atlantic" values (June 23, 2004)
Tour de France (June 21, 2004)
Complete 30 Second Wine Advisor archive:
Wine Advisor FoodLetter: Spanish Tortilla (June 24, 2004)
Wine Advisor Foodletter archive:
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Monday, June 28, 2004