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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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Dr. Vino's Verdict

Why You Should Ask for Boxed Wine

Ever wondered where the experts stand on the best wine practices and controversies? In this series, wine blogger, teacher and author Tyler Colman (a. k. a. Dr. Vino) delivers a final judgement.

Don’t you think we should try to shrink wine's carbon footprint? Drinking local wines helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions caused by transportation (worldwide consumption is estimated at the equivalent of 32 billion bottles yearly by one trade organization). Not everyone is fortunate enough to live next to a wine producing region of either quality or quantity, though: In the US, while 90 percent of the wine is produced in California, two-thirds of the population lives east of the Mississippi. It takes a lot of trucking to connect the two. Not to mention that most wine obsessives want variety. But an increasing number of good wines are being sold in lightweight packaging, which is a step in the right direction because it saves energy during shipping. The more consumers signal their willingness to buy quality wines in boxes, cartons and plastic bottles, the more good producers will be willing to package their wines in eco-friendlier ways.

An F&W-approved boxed wine to try: The spicy, berry-rich 2011 Domaine La Garrigon Côtes du Rhône.


Related: More from Dr. Vino
Affordable Dry Rosés
Chillable Reds

Dr. Vino's Verdict

The Greatest, Cheapest Corkscrew Ever

A fancy corkscrew.

Ever wondered where the experts stand on the best wine practices and controversies? In this series, wine blogger, teacher and author Tyler Colman (a. k. a. Dr. Vino) delivers a final judgement.

Don’t you think buying a fancy corkscrew is a waste of money? For me, the best is also the most simple: the classic waiter’s corkscrew. I’d suggest a double-hinged Pulltap’s, which is very reliable and available for less than $10. It makes more sense to devote your wine budget to wine, rather than gizmos. But if you really want to spend money, you can find a gorgeous version from Laguiole, perhaps with a wood handle carved from a 250-year-old tree from Versailles.


Related: Dr. Vino on Why You Can Toss Your Vintage Chart
Gifts for Wine Lovers
Chillable Reds

Wine Wednesday

Fruity Wine Fail: Durian

Riesling Sangria with Lychees

Consider the durian. This is a fruit that smells, depending on whom you talk to, like rotting onions, roadkill, old cat box (one of our food editors suggested that one), concentrated manure, piles of unwashed gym socks, you name it. It looks like a king-size hedgehog with no legs, weighs up to nine pounds or so, and is said to occasionally kill people by falling on them from high up in the trees where it grows. Some people love it—the fruit inside is quite sweet and tasty, they’ll tell you—but then some people love fermented shark (really: Iceland). Regardless, the durian isn’t something that one naturally associates with the phrase, “Hey—let’s make this thing into wine!”

However, that is apparently what a clever gang of scientists in Singapore have done. The end result came in at about 6 percent alcohol, and lacks the durian’s debilitating smell. Now, why someone would want to do this remains unclear to me, but hey, the quest for knowledge is eternal. Nevertheless, I do think that if you’re dead set on bringing together fruit and wine, there are a number of easier and better ways to go about it, the best of them being sangria.

Sangria sometimes gets a bad rap as being cheap, fruity hooch, good for getting you cheerfully buzzed and little else, but good sangria is delicious, and also one of the best summer drinks for a crowd. Its history is vague—grapes have been cultivated in Spain for a couple of thousand years, and citrus fruit for half that, or so—but it seems pretty clear that no one in the US knew about it till it was introduced at the 1964 World’s Fair. The traditional recipe includes red or white wine, citrus juice (usually orange), sparkling water and sliced fruit, plus a little brandy and a little sugar. But thanks to the inventiveness of mixologists and chefs these days, there are also endless variations—red sangrias, white sangrias, sake-infused sangrias, mango sangrias, watermelon sangrias, you name it. Here, to spur the imagination and potentially resolve your next cookout beverage dilemma, are 15 of F&W’s favorites.

Related: 21 Summer Fruit Cocktails
Fantastic Wine Cocktails
Terrific Pitcher Drinks

Dr. Vino's Verdict

Why You Can Toss Your Vintage Chart

Why You Can Toss Your Vintage Chart

Ever wondered where the experts stand on the best wine practices and controversies? In this series, wine blogger, teacher and author Tyler Colman (a. k. a. Dr. Vino) delivers a final judgement.

Don't you think knowing your favorite producers is better than remembering recent vintages? It used to be essential for wine lovers to memorize the top years in each region, but vintages are less an indicator of quality than they once were because of improvements in vineyard management and winemaking. In the past, off vintages often meant underripe, washed out, virtually undrinkable wines; now, even abysmal weather can be countered by technology and knowledge, and good producers tend to make good wine almost every year. Take 2012 in Champagne: Early hail was followed by rains, which reduced the crop, but still the quality was very good and several growers and blenders say that the quality is high (we will have to wait a few years to find out in the glass). But even though weather isn't the ultimate arbiter of quality anymore, it does still change the wines in any given year. Cool vintages in 2010 and 2011 in California, for instance, resulted in naturally lower-alcohol wines in many cases.

Related: Dr. Vino on the Fastest Way to Chill Wine
How to Find Your Perfect Wine
How to Find Value Wine

Dr. Vino's Verdict

A Free Trick to Save Leftover Wine

Illustration © Alex Nabaum

Ever wondered where the experts stand on the best wine practices and controversies? In this series, wine blogger, teacher and author Tyler Colman (a. k. a. Dr. Vino) delivers a final judgement.

Don’t you think an open bottle should last more than a few days? Unfortunately, while brief exposure to oxygen may help a wine open and flourish (e.g. decanting), prolonged exposure dulls its flavors and aromas, and eventually will turn it down the path toward vinegar. While you could buy special gas or gadgets to keep wine fresher longer, there's an easy and free way to reduce oxygen contact. Pour the leftover wine into a cleaned 375 ml half-bottle. Then simply shove in the used cork (wine side down for enhanced sanitary conditions) and place it in the fridge—even if it's red (cool temperatures help preserve the wine).

Related: How to Cook with Leftover Wine
Best New Wine Shops
How to Find Value Wines

Tasting Room

Affordable Summer Wines: Chillable Reds

Palacios Remondo La Vendimia

Photo courtesy of CellarTracker.com

Pair with grilled chicken, burgers, lamb and ribs.

2012 Herencia Altés Terra Alta Garnatxa Negra ($11) Importer Eric Solomon has teamed up with Spanish winemaker Nuria Altés to make this exceptional Grenache value.

2011 Palacios Remondo La Vendimia ($16) The high percentage of Grenache in the blend of this Rioja red creates a silkiness that works very well when chilled.

2012 Pierre Chermette Beaujolais ($16) Native yeasts, 
minimal filtration and little added sulfur give this basic Beaujolais astounding freshness and flavor intensity.

2009 Boroli Madonna di Como Dolcetto D’Alba ($17) Light-bodied yet full of flavor, Italy’s Dolcetto is an excellent summertime red—especially when it’s as good as this.

2010 Villa Maria Private Bin Pinot 
Noir ($20) This 
New Zealand Pinot
is so bright and juicy 
that the wine almost tastes better cold than 
at room temperature.

Related: Summer Wines
Great Grilling Wines
Summer Wine Tips from Experts
Summer Drinks

Tasting Room

Affordable Summer Wines: Dry Rosés

Vera Vinho Verde Rosé

Pair with grilled vegetables, turkey burgers, hot dogs and pasta salads.

2012 Vera Vinho Verde Rosé ($11) From a region known for its white wines, this low-alcohol Portuguese rosé (11.5 percent) 
is ultra-tangy—serve it very cold on a hot day.

2012 Barnard Griffin Rosé of Sangiovese ($12) Scarlet-hued and full of citrusy acidity, this is a Washington-state interpretation of one of Tuscany’s classic grape varieties.

2012 Librandi Cirò Rosato ($12) Italy’s Librandi has a loyal following for its Cirò red. The rosé version is 
just as appealing, with 
ripe cherry fruit and 
a touch of smokiness.

2012 Penya Rosé ($12) The local wine cooperative in the tiny French village of Cases-de-Pène, about 30 miles north of Spain, makes this watermelon-scented, lively rosé.

2012 Domaine de Malavieille Charmille ($17) Organically grown grapes (mostly Syrah) from southern France’s Pays d’Oc region produce this minerally rosé.

Related: Summer Wines
Summer Wine Tips from Experts
Grilling Wines
Summer Drinks

Sparkling Wine

Affordable Summer Wines: Inexpensive Sparklers

NV Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Brut.

Pair with salty snacks and raw shellfish.

2012 Medici Ermete Quercioli Reggiano Secco Lambrusco ($12) Excellent Lambruscos like this one offer bubbles 
plus the backbone and 
fruit of a red wine.

NV Zardetto Spumante Rosé ($17) Prosecco producer Fabio Zardetto turned to the little-known Raboso Veronese grape variety for this currant-scented bottling.

2012 Bellenda San Fermo Brut Prosecco ($19) Bright nectarine notes and an exotic spiciness make this Prosecco far more interesting than many on the market.

2011 Miguel Torres Chile Santa Digna Estelado ($20) 
The Torres family produces this crisp sparkler from grapes purchased under 
Fair Trade standards.

NV Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Brut ($22) There’s an appealing, toasty richness to this California bottling. Though it’s pale gold in hue, it’s almost entirely made from Pinot Noir.

Related: Champagne Guide
Light Summer Wines
Terrific Wine Cocktails
Summer Drinks

White Wine

Affordable Summer Wines: Light Whites

Sábrego Godello

Pair with green salads, grilled fish or shellfish and crudités.

2012 Falernia Pedro Ximenez Reserva ($10) This flinty, citrus-inflected white comes from one of Chile’s northernmost wine regions, the 
arid Elqui Valley.

2012 Sábrego Godello ($14) The steep, rocky vineyards of northwest Spain’s remote Valdeorras region provide 
the grapes for this minerally white.

2011 St Hallett Poacher’s ($14) 
A touch of Riesling 
lifts the aromas of 
this zesty Australian Sauvignon Blanc–Sémillon blend from the Barossa.

2012 Terrazas de 
los Andes Reserva Torrontés ($15) Torrontés is a tricky grape. Made poorly, 
it’s cloying; made well, as this one is, it’s elegant and aromatic.

2012 St. Urbans-Hof Estate Riesling ($17) This German Riesling from the Mosel is very lightly off-dry, but it’s 
so zippy and intense that the sweetness barely registers.

Related: Light Summer Wines
Riesling Pairings
Summer Wine Tips from Experts
Grilling Wines

Wine Intel

Top American Winemakers to Collaborate on Limited Edition Bottles from Abroad

 

Some of the country's top wine talents, including F&W Winemakers of the Year 2012 Helen Keplinger and Aaron Pott, are hoping to crowdfund a genius new project with idealistic goals. If it can secure $5,000 more in Indigogo pledges by tomorrow, Wine for the World [http://www.wine4theworld.com/] will have raised $25,000 to send its first convoy of American winemakers to collaborate with promising, yet underrepresented vintners abroad. READ MORE>

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Congratulations to Nicholas Elmi, winner of Top Chef: New Orleans, the 11th season of Bravo's Emmy-Award winning, hit reality series.

Join celebrity chefs, renowned winemakers and epicurean insiders at the culinary world’s most spectacular weekend, the FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen, June 20-22.