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Wine, Wine Everywhere!

by Lisa Graziano Csw,cse

And, so many drops to drink! There are a total of 14 different wine regions in Portugal. 12 on the mainland, and two more on the islands, Madeira and the Azores. My current pipe dream is to visit each one and to write a book about them. I am planning my next trip to the Minho now. It is the northernmost wine region in Portugal. I might as well start at the top. The Minho comprises the better part of northern Portugal. It starts at the Spanish border and goes south until the Douro region. Alvarinho is one of the predominant grapes in the area. It is known as Albarino in Spain. Same grape, different country, and spelling. Vinho Verde is the best-known type of wine in this area. Meaning green wine, green, in this case, refers to young wine. The most common grapes in Vinho Verd...

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Pro Tips: Hosting Your Own Zoom Tasting

by Lee Romano Sequeira

Even though we’re enjoying wine more than ever, I know many of us are missing the camaraderie of in-person tastings with friends and family. You probably know we have plenty of virtual tastings for you to check out, but how about hosting your own ZOOM tasting? Of course I’d love for you to attend some of the events we have listed on the site, which help support the people who post with us (many are small businesses), but I also wanted to give you some tips to host your own virtual tasting with your favorite people. First, make your guest list. 3 to 10 guests make for a good ZOOM crowd...just keep in mind the more you drink, the more rowdy it'll get (and the more fun you'll all have!) Then, select your theme. Will it be red, white, bubbly, etc.? For example, California Cabs ...

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Everything You Want To Know About Port

by Mary Ann Purtell

Port is a luscious, sweet, powerfully fortified wine. The base for Port is made like any other wine. Grapes are pressed and fermented with yeast, converting the wine’s natural sugars into alcohol. However, before all the sugar has been converted to alcohol, a distilled grape spirit, usually brandy, is added to the wine base to stop fermentation. This process is known as fortification. The resulting wine will have an alcohol content ranging from 18-20%. True port is made in Portugal’s Douro Valley, almost always from a blend of indigenous Portuguese grapes. The five leading grapes include Touriga Nacional (intense color, flavor, and aroma); Touriga Franca (adds floral aromas); Tinta Roriz (body, flavor, and aroma and in Spain it’s known as Tempranillo); Tinta Barroca (adds alcohol...

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Heart Of Darkness: Pairing Wine With Chocolate

by Natalie Maclean

We love chocolate not just for its taste, but also for its sensual texture. It melts close to body temperature, so sliding a piece into your mouth and feeling it seep out to coat your tongue can (almost) be orgasmic. But what about pairing different types of chocolate with wine?  Many of us don’t even try to combine wine and chocolate, feeling that the rich sweetness of chocolate is too much for any wine. But I usually buck conventional wisdom (and I like to layer my vices), so I’m determined to find some good pairings, especially for Valentine's Day.  In matching wine with any dessert the overarching principle is that the wine must be the sweeter of the two—otherwise it’ll taste bitter or dull. That’s why chocolate, with its concentrated and creamy flavors, usually goe...

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In Search Of A Teinturier Wine

by Linda Foxworth, Csw, Wset 3

Teinturier grapes are grapes that produce red juice. Most grapes have white flesh and white juice. But the red flesh and juice of the Teinturier grapes is what makes them stand out. Used to add red color to wines, Teinturier translates to 'dyer,' which is exactly their purpose, to dye or color the wine. Because of this purpose, they are found mostly in blends. Of the few that exist the most well-known Teinturier grape is Alicanté Bouschet. Developed in the lab in 1866 by Henri Bouschet, it is a cross between Petit Bouschet and Grenache. Petit Bouschet is also a hybrid developed by Henri's father, Louis Bouschet in 1828. It is a cross between Teinturier du Cher and Aramon. Both grapes are native to France. Here's where it gets complicated. In Tuscany and Sicily, Granache, kno...

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There Is More To Argentina Than Malbec

by Linda Foxworth, Csw, Wset 3

When one thinks of Argentine wine, the most common thought to come up is Malbec. It fills our Argentine sections of US wine shops, the favorite at the barbeque, so juicy and spicy. It also happens to make up close to 40% of red grape plantings in Argentina. But when Malbec first arrived in Argentina from France in the middle of the 19th century, she came with her Bordeaux sisters; Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. While neither of these grapes comes close to matching the percentage of planting that Malbec enjoys, (Cabernet Sauvignon is the closest at just over 12% of total red grapes compared to Malbec's 40%), they do have a place and each can be expressed beautifully when grown in the various Argentine climates. Cabernet Sauvignon is planted at high altitudes in the continental clim...

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Lip Smacking Wines From Australia To Try This 2020

by Sophie Mellor

For all the sommeliers and wine buyers working on their wine sourcing lists this year, here are the top 7 wines from Australia to try in 2020. Apart from its natural wonders & wide open spaces - its beaches, deserts, "the bush", and "the Outback,” Australia is also famous for its Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, and more. Here are 7 Lip Smacking Wines From Australia To Try This 2020. 2017 The Dead Arm This 2017 The Dead Arm Shiraz Magnum d'Arenberg is totally brooding & alluring. It contains plum, blackberry, liquorice, and spice entwined with a raft of dark, earthy notes. You might think where did this 2017 Shiraz Magnum get its name from. Dead Arm. So, Dead Arm is a vine disease caused by the fungus Eutypa Lata that randomly affects vineyards all over the wo...

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For The Love Of (ruby) Port...

by Claire L. Torbeck, Certified Sommelier

During these damp and chilly winter months, Port is a good beverage to enjoy while sitting in front of a roaring fire or to pair with a course of Stilton Cheese and almonds after dinner or ‘just because.’ It is one of my favorite fortified wines and crafted in varying styles and quality. The grapes are grown in steep vineyards that wind along the Douro River in Northern Portugal all the way East toward the Spanish border. The soils are stony shist that split vertically (rather than the typical horizontal orientation) which enable the roots to reach deep in search of water (irrigation is only allowed in exceptional circumstances). The slopes are incredibly steep (more than 30 per cent), which makes vineyard layout challenging, and are further limited by granite bedrock which is...

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Dry January- Is It For You?

by Alison Phillips

After a rather long, difficult and somewhat anti-social year, 2020 came to an end. To get through this annus horribilus, where we were discouraged from getting together with friends, couldn’t go to restaurants and bars because they were closed, somehow, we found ways to connect with others. From Zoom calls to social distanced driveway and garage get togethers, we arranged a time and place, grabbed our favourite beverages from the liquor store and socialized 2020 style. Everyone was talking about day drinking, or to heck with it’s 5 o’clock somewhere, it’s 2020 everywhere, and alcoholic consumption and snacking, ordering take out and picking up food became the norm. Now, here we are. January 2021. We survived the chaos, but at what cost? Are we lazier now that we don’t...

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What Sweet, Fortified Wine Are You Serving With Christmas Dessert?

by Claire L. Torbeck, Certified Sommelier

By Claire L. Torbeck, Certified Sommelier As I am a first generation American with Hungarian heritage, I generally serve the highly sought after Tokaji wine, famous for its sweet, fruity, and acidic character. It is such an interesting grape! It is thick skinned but, as it ripens, the skins stretch and thin allowing the sunlight to penetrate, increasing the concentration of sugar. The sweetness level can vary depending upon how much residual sugar the winemaker decides to leave in the wine, how botrytized the grapes become and how the wine is ultimately blended. The sweetness is measured in ‘Puttonyos’ on a scale from 1 to 6 which is noted on the label. The most common is 5 Puttonyos. Now, when I say ‘sweet’, I do not want you to think of sweet as in cloying, grocery ...

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