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Corkscrew - Scaring up some Halloween wines

Witchy brews from Bull's Blood to Vampire Merlot

For my last Halloween party, I made the ghoulish mistake of serving a "witches' brew" punch instead of wine. Sure, it looked cool in the plastic cauldron with the dry ice and all, but this unholy concoction of Jagermeister, sloe gin and lime Kool-Aid gave us all hellish headaches before we could finish one glass.

Luckily for this year's guests, I've since discovered plenty of tasty wines that fit the Halloween theme. How's about a little Vampire Wine with that stake?

For a Halloween bash that's all treats and no tricks, uncork some of these spooky sippers (with suggested Halloween candy pairings):

Vampire Merlot 2000 ($7.99) Image Image 1/2 for the wine; Image Image Image Image Image for the label: Straight from the fang-tastic vineyards of Transylvania (aka Romania) this wine's rich, blood-like color promises a succulent sipping experience. It starts out with a peppery bang, but loses some of its gusto after the initial bite. Slightly tannic, with a hint of freshly dug grave. Tasty with mini Snickers bars. (Not available in Georgia).

Cardinal Zin Beastly Old Vines 2000 ($20) Image Image Image Image Image : The label on this Bonny Doon Vineyard Zinfandel features a sinister-looking cardinal (the religious kind, not the bird), decked out in devilish red, who seems to be spurting blood in all directions. The Ohio Division of Liquor Control deemed the image so distastefully disturbing that Cardinal Zin was banned in the Buckeye State. Too bad for Ohioans, cuz this wine is zin-fully good. Amazing raspberry aromas with balanced, fruity flavors to match. Intense and delicious. Not bad with Milky Way bars.

Egri Bikaver 1998 Bull's Blood of Eger ($5.99). Image Image Image : This famous Hungarian wine is a bloody good value. Nice garnet color and fruity aromas. Pleasant raspberry flavors, with a slightly metallic finish. Not what I'd call intense, but a nice wine all the same. Pair with Swedish Fish (the red ones) or Red Vines licorice twists.

Toad Hollow 2000 Eye of the Toad Dry Pinot Noir Rose ($9.99) Image Image Image 1/2: The label of this dry, pink wine sports a wine-swilling toad with a glowing pink eye. Happily, the wine smells like strawberries, rather than toads, and it tastes of berries and watermelon. Dry, fruity and refreshing. Just add wing of bat and tail of salamander for a potent Halloween potion. Perfect with watermelon Jolly Ranchers.

Rotari Arte Italiana Brut NV ($9.99) Image Image Image Image : Here's a bubbly to give Veuve Cliquot, with its orange label and annual Halloween bash, some holiday competition. The Rotari bottle features a bright, pumpkinesque label that's sure to stand out in the darkest graveyard. With a slightly yeasty aroma, the wine inside the bottle is refreshingly dry with tasty green apple flavors. At only 10 bucks a bottle, you'll get lots more bubble than toil and trouble. Try it with popcorn balls (check for razor blades first!) or caramel apples.

Editor's Note: These wines will more than likely be found at wine shops and liquor stores, rather than grocery stores. If they are not on the shelves, most wine merchants are happy to place a special order.

Tina Caputo is a San Francisco-based wino who supports her nasty habit by writing for several wine publications. Comments? Questions? Great wine experience to share? Talk to us! We'll feature your comments in our Mailbag. E-mail corkscrew@creativeloafing.com, mail to Corkscrew, 1310 E. Ninth Ave., Tampa, FL 33605 or call 1-800-341-LOAF.??





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  string(3677) "If you've ever heard wine-swilling folks refer to "second-label wines," you may have wondered just what the hell they were talking about. Were they referring to bottles that sport two labels instead of just one? OK, I know you don't think that, but the term could use some clarifying all the same. Let's say Winery X has lots of extra Chardonnay grapes that aren't quite good enough to go into its $30-a-bottle wine. Rather than sell those lesser grapes off to another producer, Winery X creates a  secondary (or second-label) brand called "Y" that sells for only $10. This allows the winery's primary brand to maintain its quality standards, while providing an affordable alternative to Winery X fans who can't/won't pony up for the $30 bottle.

Second-label wines aren't always made from the winery's own grapes, but the idea is the same. While quality and rarity may be the buzzwords for a winery's top-tier brand, availability and value are the selling points of second-label wines.

There are some who say second-label vinos aren't worth drinking, but I say  those chumps are missing out. Just because a wine isn't as good as Opus One, that  doesn't make it Mad Dog 20/20. Some excellent wineries are producing delicious second-label wines — and they're crafted  by the same winemakers who make the hoity-toity stuff.

Not everyone can afford to fork over $120 for a bottle of Joseph Phelps Insignia (myself included), but we can still experience the winemaker's considerable talents by picking up a bottle of Pastiche for 12 bucks. And those who love Stag's Leap Cabernets can get a taste of the winery's fame by handing over just $10.99 for the its Hawk Crest brand. Some other quality second-label brands include Napa Ridge (Beringer), Avila (Laetitia), Reds (Laurel Glen), Amberhill (Raymond) and Bel Arbor (Fetzer).

Just check out the following selections and you'll see that second label wines deserve  a second look.

Recommended


vila 2000 Pinot Noir ($11) : ?It's tough to find a drinkable Pinot in the $10 range, but this one from Laetitia ?more than qualifies. Made in a light-bodied style, the wine has spicy berry ?aromas and fruity raspberry flavors. Just right with grilled salmon.

Pastiche 2000 Red Table Wine ($11.99) : ?Also from Joseph Phelps Vineyards, this spicy Rhone-style red has light raspberry ?aromas and berry/cherry flavors. Light-bodied, fruity and yummy.

Pastiche 2000 White Table Wine ($11.99) : ?This Rhone-style white from Joseph Phelps Vineyards has floral, tropical aromas ?and rich-but-refreshing flavors. A tasty match for spicy Chinese or Thai food.

Avila 2000 Chardonnay ($11) : ?Made by the folks at Laetitia in California's Central Coast region, this Chard ?is made only from the winery's estate-grown grapes. (That means they didn't ?buy any lower-grade grapes from other growers.) It smells like tropical fruit ?and tastes like green apple, with a touch of oak. Refreshing and balanced.

REDS 2000 Red Table Wine ($8.99) : ?Made by Laurel Glen winery, Reds is an easy-drinkin' blend of Zinfandel, Mourvedre, ?Carignan, Syrah and Petite Syrah. Soft and smooth with lots of fruit, this juicy ?wine is one of my favorite bargain reds.

Amberhill 1999 Cabernet Sauvignon ($11) : ?Made by Napa Valley's Raymond winery, the Amberhill Cabernet beat out a lot ?of super-pricey Cabs in a blind tasting at the San Francisco International Wine ?Competition a couple of years ago. It's smooth, fruity and medium-bodied, with ?spiced cherry and plum flavors. A great value. Tina Caputo is a San Francisco-based ?wino who supports her nasty habit by writing for wine publications. Comments? ?E-mail corkscrew@creativeloafing.com. ?"
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  string(5497) "__If you've ever heard __wine-swilling folks refer to "second-label wines," you may have wondered just what the hell they were talking about. Were they referring to bottles that sport two labels instead of just one? OK, I know you don't think that, but the term could use some clarifying all the same. Let's say Winery X has lots of extra Chardonnay grapes that aren't quite good enough to go into its $30-a-bottle wine. Rather than sell those lesser grapes off to another producer, Winery X creates a  secondary (or second-label) brand called "Y" that sells for only $10. This allows the winery's primary brand to maintain its quality standards, while providing an affordable alternative to Winery X fans who can't/won't pony up for the $30 bottle.

Second-label wines aren't always made from the winery's own grapes, but the idea is the same. While quality and rarity may be the buzzwords for a winery's top-tier brand, availability and value are the selling points of second-label wines.

There are some who say second-label vinos aren't worth drinking, but I say  those chumps are missing out. Just because a wine isn't as good as Opus One, that  doesn't make it Mad Dog 20/20. Some excellent wineries are producing delicious second-label wines -- and they're crafted  by the same winemakers who make the hoity-toity stuff.

Not everyone can afford to fork over $120 for a bottle of Joseph Phelps Insignia (myself included), but we can still experience the winemaker's considerable talents by picking up a bottle of Pastiche for 12 bucks. And those who love Stag's Leap Cabernets can get a taste of the winery's fame by handing over just $10.99 for the its Hawk Crest brand. Some other quality second-label brands include Napa Ridge (Beringer), Avila (Laetitia), Reds (Laurel Glen), Amberhill (Raymond) and Bel Arbor (Fetzer).

Just check out the following selections and you'll see that second label wines deserve  a second look.

__Recommended__


vila 2000 Pinot Noir ($11) {img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_full.gif"}{img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_full.gif"}{img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_full.gif"}{img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_full.gif"}{img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_empty.gif"}: ?It's tough to find a drinkable Pinot in the $10 range, but this one from Laetitia ?more than qualifies. Made in a light-bodied style, the wine has spicy berry ?aromas and fruity raspberry flavors. Just right with grilled salmon.

Pastiche 2000 Red Table Wine ($11.99) {img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_full.gif"}{img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_full.gif"}{img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_full.gif"}{img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_full.gif"}{img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_empty.gif"}: ?Also from Joseph Phelps Vineyards, this spicy Rhone-style red has light raspberry ?aromas and berry/cherry flavors. Light-bodied, fruity and yummy.

Pastiche 2000 White Table Wine ($11.99) {img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_full.gif"}{img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_full.gif"}{img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_full.gif"}{img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_empty.gif"}: ?This Rhone-style white from Joseph Phelps Vineyards has floral, tropical aromas ?and rich-but-refreshing flavors. A tasty match for spicy Chinese or Thai food.

Avila 2000 Chardonnay ($11) {img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_full.gif"}{img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_full.gif"}{img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_full.gif"}{img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_empty.gif"}: ?Made by the folks at Laetitia in California's Central Coast region, this Chard ?is made only from the winery's estate-grown grapes. (That means they didn't ?buy any lower-grade grapes from other growers.) It smells like tropical fruit ?and tastes like green apple, with a touch of oak. Refreshing and balanced.

REDS 2000 Red Table Wine ($8.99) {img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_full.gif"}{img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_full.gif"}{img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_full.gif"}{img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_empty.gif"}: ?Made by Laurel Glen winery, Reds is an easy-drinkin' blend of Zinfandel, Mourvedre, ?Carignan, Syrah and Petite Syrah. Soft and smooth with lots of fruit, this juicy ?wine is one of my favorite bargain reds.

Amberhill 1999 Cabernet Sauvignon ($11) {img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_full.gif"}{img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_full.gif"}{img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_full.gif"}{img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_empty.gif"}: ?Made by Napa Valley's Raymond winery, the Amberhill Cabernet beat out a lot ?of super-pricey Cabs in a blind tasting at the San Francisco International Wine ?Competition a couple of years ago. It's smooth, fruity and medium-bodied, with ?spiced cherry and plum flavors. A great value. ''Tina Caputo is a San Francisco-based ?wino who supports her nasty habit by writing for wine publications. Comments? ?E-mail [mailto:corkscrew@creativeloafing.com|corkscrew@creativeloafing.com]. ?''"
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  string(3903) "    Are second-label wines second rate?   2002-07-24T04:04:00+00:00 Corkscrew - Second helping   Tina Caputo 1223735 2002-07-24T04:04:00+00:00  If you've ever heard wine-swilling folks refer to "second-label wines," you may have wondered just what the hell they were talking about. Were they referring to bottles that sport two labels instead of just one? OK, I know you don't think that, but the term could use some clarifying all the same. Let's say Winery X has lots of extra Chardonnay grapes that aren't quite good enough to go into its $30-a-bottle wine. Rather than sell those lesser grapes off to another producer, Winery X creates a  secondary (or second-label) brand called "Y" that sells for only $10. This allows the winery's primary brand to maintain its quality standards, while providing an affordable alternative to Winery X fans who can't/won't pony up for the $30 bottle.

Second-label wines aren't always made from the winery's own grapes, but the idea is the same. While quality and rarity may be the buzzwords for a winery's top-tier brand, availability and value are the selling points of second-label wines.

There are some who say second-label vinos aren't worth drinking, but I say  those chumps are missing out. Just because a wine isn't as good as Opus One, that  doesn't make it Mad Dog 20/20. Some excellent wineries are producing delicious second-label wines — and they're crafted  by the same winemakers who make the hoity-toity stuff.

Not everyone can afford to fork over $120 for a bottle of Joseph Phelps Insignia (myself included), but we can still experience the winemaker's considerable talents by picking up a bottle of Pastiche for 12 bucks. And those who love Stag's Leap Cabernets can get a taste of the winery's fame by handing over just $10.99 for the its Hawk Crest brand. Some other quality second-label brands include Napa Ridge (Beringer), Avila (Laetitia), Reds (Laurel Glen), Amberhill (Raymond) and Bel Arbor (Fetzer).

Just check out the following selections and you'll see that second label wines deserve  a second look.

Recommended


vila 2000 Pinot Noir ($11) : ?It's tough to find a drinkable Pinot in the $10 range, but this one from Laetitia ?more than qualifies. Made in a light-bodied style, the wine has spicy berry ?aromas and fruity raspberry flavors. Just right with grilled salmon.

Pastiche 2000 Red Table Wine ($11.99) : ?Also from Joseph Phelps Vineyards, this spicy Rhone-style red has light raspberry ?aromas and berry/cherry flavors. Light-bodied, fruity and yummy.

Pastiche 2000 White Table Wine ($11.99) : ?This Rhone-style white from Joseph Phelps Vineyards has floral, tropical aromas ?and rich-but-refreshing flavors. A tasty match for spicy Chinese or Thai food.

Avila 2000 Chardonnay ($11) : ?Made by the folks at Laetitia in California's Central Coast region, this Chard ?is made only from the winery's estate-grown grapes. (That means they didn't ?buy any lower-grade grapes from other growers.) It smells like tropical fruit ?and tastes like green apple, with a touch of oak. Refreshing and balanced.

REDS 2000 Red Table Wine ($8.99) : ?Made by Laurel Glen winery, Reds is an easy-drinkin' blend of Zinfandel, Mourvedre, ?Carignan, Syrah and Petite Syrah. Soft and smooth with lots of fruit, this juicy ?wine is one of my favorite bargain reds.

Amberhill 1999 Cabernet Sauvignon ($11) : ?Made by Napa Valley's Raymond winery, the Amberhill Cabernet beat out a lot ?of super-pricey Cabs in a blind tasting at the San Francisco International Wine ?Competition a couple of years ago. It's smooth, fruity and medium-bodied, with ?spiced cherry and plum flavors. A great value. Tina Caputo is a San Francisco-based ?wino who supports her nasty habit by writing for wine publications. Comments? ?E-mail corkscrew@creativeloafing.com. ?             13008768 1237782                          Corkscrew - Second helping "
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Article

Wednesday July 24, 2002 12:04 am EDT
Are second-label wines second rate? | more...
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For those raised on California and French vinos, the wines of Spain can seem like a mystery. Sure, you've probably heard the word "Rioja," before, but what exactly is in those dark, expensive bottles? Nowadays, to decipher Spanish labels all you really need to know about Spain is a few regions, producers and grape varietals. Then you can dive into a world of inexpensive and yummy wines.

You're from where? 
?Regions like France, Spain frequently only lists the region on the label. There are 50-plus regions in Spain, but here are a few highlights. Wine from Rioja, a region in northern Spain, comes from red Tempranillo and Garnacha (Grenache) grapes, and can be both light-bodied and fruity as well as dark and complex. Penedes, in northeastern Spain, is famous for its sparkling wines called cava, made in the same method as French Champagne. Ribera del Duero, near the northern Portuguese border, is praised for its long-lived, tannic Tempranillo wines.

And though Spain has never been known for its white wines, an area called Galicia (specifically an area called R'as Baixas in the northwest corner) turns out some inexpensive, kick-ass whites called Albarino, similar in style to lighter and fragrant Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio.

Varietals are the spice
Tempranillo, the main grape in Rioja, is probably the most famous and most versatile native grape. It's found in simple reds, as well as those meant to age for decades. Garnacha, a blending grape, gives Rioja more body. White Riojas are made mostly with the Viura grape (alias Macabeo), and are refreshingly acidic and low in alcohol. Monastrell, the Spanish version of France's Mourvedre, is popping up more often on labels, and is light and fruity for everyday drinking (and usually a great deal). Small amounts of familiar grapes Cabernet, Merlot, Malbec and Pinot Noir are also planted, but you don't see them very often on Spanish labels.



A touch of classification
Like France, Spain is divided into districts (aka appellations), classified by the government's Demominación de Origen (D.O.) system of quality. It's like a good-better-best scale: Vino de Mesa or VdM (Table Wine); Denominación de Origen or D.O.; and Denominación de Origen Calificada or D.O.C. (mostly reserved for Rioja). Bottom line: Look for D.O. or D.O.C. on the label.



Old enough
In addition to the district classification, on each Spanish label you'll see designations like Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva. These designations refer to the amount of time the wines are aged, starting with Crianza, which means two years of aging, and ending with Gran Reservas that have a minimum of four years of age (at least two in oak).

Now that you know the basics, get to drinkin'.

Recommended Wines
Faustino de Crianza 1997, D.O.C. Rioja ($13) : A New World-style red made from Tempranillo grapes. Spicy, with a smooth balance of oak and fruit.

Condado de Haza 1999 Ribera del Duero ($18) : Earthy, big, fat red wine. The oak shines through like a beacon, but works well with fattier foods like red meat and cheeses.

Vionta Albarino 2000, D.O. Rias Baixas ($17) : An aromatic white with great aroma and nice acid. This would be great with oysters!

Aria Brut, Segura Viudas, Cava ($10)  : A tad on the sweet side, this cava sparkler is smooth and tasty. Great for the price.

Tina Caputo is a San Francisco-based wino who supports her nasty habit by writing for wine publications. Comments? E-mail corkscrew@creativeloafing.com. ??


"
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____
__For those raised on California __and French vinos, the wines of Spain can seem like a mystery. Sure, you've probably heard the word "Rioja," before, but what exactly is ''in'' those dark, expensive bottles? Nowadays, to decipher Spanish labels all you really need to know about Spain is a few regions, producers and grape varietals. Then you can dive into a world of inexpensive and yummy wines.

__You're from where? __
?Regions like France, Spain frequently only lists the region on the label. There are 50-plus regions in Spain, but here are a few highlights. Wine from __Rioja__, a region in northern Spain, comes from red Tempranillo and Garnacha (Grenache) grapes, and can be both light-bodied and fruity as well as dark and complex. __Penedes__, in northeastern Spain, is famous for its sparkling wines called cava, made in the same method as French Champagne. __Ribera del Duero__, near the northern Portuguese border, is praised for its long-lived, tannic Tempranillo wines.

And though Spain has never been known for its white wines, an area called __Galicia__ (specifically an area called R'as Baixas in the northwest corner) turns out some inexpensive, kick-ass whites called Albarino, similar in style to lighter and fragrant Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio.

__Varietals are the spice__
__Tempranillo__, the main grape in Rioja, is probably the most famous and most versatile native grape. It's found in simple reds, as well as those meant to age for decades. __Garnacha__, a blending grape, gives Rioja more body. White Riojas are made mostly with the __Viura__ grape (alias Macabeo), and are refreshingly acidic and low in alcohol. __Monastrell__, the Spanish version of France's Mourvedre, is popping up more often on labels, and is light and fruity for everyday drinking (and usually a great deal). Small amounts of familiar grapes Cabernet, Merlot, Malbec and Pinot Noir are also planted, but you don't see them very often on Spanish labels.

____
____
__A touch of classification__
Like France, Spain is divided into districts (aka appellations), classified by the government's ''Demominación de Origen ''(D.O.) system of quality. It's like a good-better-best scale: __Vino de Mesa__ or __VdM__ (Table Wine); __Denominación de Origen__ or __D.O.__; and __Denominación de Origen Calificada__ or __D.O.C.__ (mostly reserved for Rioja). Bottom line: Look for D.O. or D.O.C. on the label.

____
____
__Old enough__
In addition to the district classification, on each Spanish label you'll see designations like __Crianza__, __Reserva__ and __Gran Reserva__. These designations refer to the amount of time the wines are aged, starting with Crianza, which means two years of aging, and ending with Gran Reservas that have a minimum of four years of age (at least two in oak).

Now that you know the basics, get to drinkin'.

__Recommended Wines__
__Faustino de Crianza 1997, D.O.C. Rioja ($13) {img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_full.gif"}{img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_full.gif"}{img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_full.gif"}{img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_full.gif"}{img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_empty.gif"}: A New World-style red made from Tempranillo grapes. Spicy, with a smooth balance of oak and fruit.__
____
__Condado de Haza 1999 Ribera del Duero ($18) {img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_full.gif"}{img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_full.gif"}{img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_full.gif"}{img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_empty.gif"}{img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_empty.gif"}: Earthy, big, fat red wine. The oak shines through like a beacon, but works well with fattier foods like red meat and cheeses.__
____
__Vionta Albarino 2000, D.O. Rias Baixas ($17) {img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_full.gif"}{img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_full.gif"}{img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_full.gif"}{img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_empty.gif"}{img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_empty.gif"}: An aromatic white with great aroma and nice acid. This would be great with oysters!__
____
__Aria Brut, Segura Viudas, Cava ($10) {img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_full.gif"}{img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_full.gif"}{img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_full.gif"}{img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_empty.gif"}{img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_empty.gif"} : A tad on the sweet side, this cava sparkler is smooth and tasty. Great for the price.__

''Tina Caputo is a San Francisco-based wino who supports her nasty habit by writing for wine publications. Comments? E-mail [mailto:corkscrew@creativeloafing.com|corkscrew@creativeloafing.com]. ''??


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  string(3758) "    Learning to drink Spanish is as easy as A, B, Si   2002-07-10T04:04:00+00:00 Corkscrew - 'Splaining the wines of Spain   Tina Caputo 1223735 2002-07-10T04:04:00+00:00  

For those raised on California and French vinos, the wines of Spain can seem like a mystery. Sure, you've probably heard the word "Rioja," before, but what exactly is in those dark, expensive bottles? Nowadays, to decipher Spanish labels all you really need to know about Spain is a few regions, producers and grape varietals. Then you can dive into a world of inexpensive and yummy wines.

You're from where? 
?Regions like France, Spain frequently only lists the region on the label. There are 50-plus regions in Spain, but here are a few highlights. Wine from Rioja, a region in northern Spain, comes from red Tempranillo and Garnacha (Grenache) grapes, and can be both light-bodied and fruity as well as dark and complex. Penedes, in northeastern Spain, is famous for its sparkling wines called cava, made in the same method as French Champagne. Ribera del Duero, near the northern Portuguese border, is praised for its long-lived, tannic Tempranillo wines.

And though Spain has never been known for its white wines, an area called Galicia (specifically an area called R'as Baixas in the northwest corner) turns out some inexpensive, kick-ass whites called Albarino, similar in style to lighter and fragrant Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio.

Varietals are the spice
Tempranillo, the main grape in Rioja, is probably the most famous and most versatile native grape. It's found in simple reds, as well as those meant to age for decades. Garnacha, a blending grape, gives Rioja more body. White Riojas are made mostly with the Viura grape (alias Macabeo), and are refreshingly acidic and low in alcohol. Monastrell, the Spanish version of France's Mourvedre, is popping up more often on labels, and is light and fruity for everyday drinking (and usually a great deal). Small amounts of familiar grapes Cabernet, Merlot, Malbec and Pinot Noir are also planted, but you don't see them very often on Spanish labels.



A touch of classification
Like France, Spain is divided into districts (aka appellations), classified by the government's Demominación de Origen (D.O.) system of quality. It's like a good-better-best scale: Vino de Mesa or VdM (Table Wine); Denominación de Origen or D.O.; and Denominación de Origen Calificada or D.O.C. (mostly reserved for Rioja). Bottom line: Look for D.O. or D.O.C. on the label.



Old enough
In addition to the district classification, on each Spanish label you'll see designations like Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva. These designations refer to the amount of time the wines are aged, starting with Crianza, which means two years of aging, and ending with Gran Reservas that have a minimum of four years of age (at least two in oak).

Now that you know the basics, get to drinkin'.

Recommended Wines
Faustino de Crianza 1997, D.O.C. Rioja ($13) : A New World-style red made from Tempranillo grapes. Spicy, with a smooth balance of oak and fruit.

Condado de Haza 1999 Ribera del Duero ($18) : Earthy, big, fat red wine. The oak shines through like a beacon, but works well with fattier foods like red meat and cheeses.

Vionta Albarino 2000, D.O. Rias Baixas ($17) : An aromatic white with great aroma and nice acid. This would be great with oysters!

Aria Brut, Segura Viudas, Cava ($10)  : A tad on the sweet side, this cava sparkler is smooth and tasty. Great for the price.

Tina Caputo is a San Francisco-based wino who supports her nasty habit by writing for wine publications. Comments? E-mail corkscrew@creativeloafing.com. ??


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Article

Wednesday July 10, 2002 12:04 am EDT
Learning to drink Spanish is as easy as A, B, Si | more...
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  string(29) "Corkscrew - Wines with a bang"
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Hot sunny days inspire a primitive urge to make fire and roast up large hunks of meat for tribes of hungry carnivores. In other words: It's grilling season.

While most folks are content  to wash down their grilled fare  with gallons of cheap watery beer,  I have a better idea: Wine.

Unlike flavorless beer (not  that I'm a wine snob or anything), wine has the power to take your flame-grilled beast (or even  veggie burgers) to new heights of flavor. When choosing wines for grilled vittles, think bold and  beautiful. Cookout flavors are far from wimpy, so your wine  shouldn't be either. You need  something big and fruity, with  plenty of pepper and spice, to stand up to all that smoldering meat and smoky-sweet barbecue sauce. Overly tannic or oaky wines need not apply.

Zinfandel and Syrah/Shiraz are considered classic cookout wines because they have lots of fruit and spice, without too much oak and tannin to get in the way. Medium to full-bodied Merlots are also good matches for grilled fare — especially the red meat and sausage variety.

If you're grilling something other than beef, the story changes. The subtle smoky flavor of  barbecue chicken calls for a light and fruity red wine, like Beaujolais or Tempranillo (the Spanish  grape in Rioja). Top that same grilled chicken (or even swordfish) with a tropical fruit salsa, and you're better off with a rich,  aromatic Pinot Gris/Grigio or a spicy Riesling or Gerwurztraminer. For grilled salmon, Pinot Noir  is a match made in heaven.

Whatever you're tossing  on the grill this Fourth of July, there's a wine out there to make it taste even better.

RECOMMENDED WINES

Kenwood 1999 Sonoma County Zinfandel ($16) : This Zin has spicy black cherry/berry flavors and a nice balance between fruit and tannins. Throw some sweet Italian sausages on the grill (or portabella mushrooms, if you're the veggie type) and enjoy.

Coppola 2000 Blue Label Merlot ($17) : With a little Syrah mixed in for  complexity, this wine has plum,  raspberry and blackberry flavors. Serve it up with some grilled chicken sausages or juicy burgers.

Valley of the Moon 1999 Syrah ($17) : This one's got a nice berry smell and a spicy mix of cherry and black pepper flavors. It's a nice match for grilled sausages, burgers and other red meats.

Ca' del Solo 1999 Sangiovese "Il Fiasco" ($15) : Light bodied and easy drinking with tasty cherry,  raspberry and blackberry flavors. Though it's too subtle for big ol' steaks, it's a good match for grilled chicken and mild sausages.

Perry Creek 2000 ZinMan Zinfandel ($12) : This balanced wine from California's Sierra Foothills has a slightly  veggie smell at first, which gives way to spicy raspberry and cherry flavors. It's tasty with barbecued red meats.

Bonny Doon Pacific Rim Riesling ($10) : Aromatic, with scents of pineapple and flowers and zippy-on-the-tongue qualities that make your mouth feel alive. Extremely quaffable and great with anything spicy.  Cheap, too.

Carmen 2001 Chardonnay ($8) : While I generally wouldn't recommend Chardonnay with barbecue fare, this one from Chile is made in a refreshing,  non-oaky style and has lots of yummy tropical fruit flavors (think pineapple). It's great match for grilled chicken sausages, especially the chicken-apple variety. And it's  a great bargain!

Tina Caputo is a San Francisco-based wino who  supports her nasty habit by  writing for wine publications. Comments? E-mail corkscrew@creativeloafing.com.??


"
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____
__Hot sunny days__ inspire a primitive urge to make fire and roast up large hunks of meat for tribes of hungry carnivores. In other words: It's grilling season.

While most folks are content  to wash down their grilled fare  with gallons of cheap watery beer,  I have a better idea: Wine.

Unlike flavorless beer (not  that I'm a wine snob or anything), wine has the power to take your flame-grilled beast (or even  veggie burgers) to new heights of flavor. When choosing wines for grilled vittles, think bold and  beautiful. Cookout flavors are far from wimpy, so your wine  shouldn't be either. You need  something big and fruity, with  plenty of pepper and spice, to stand up to all that smoldering meat and smoky-sweet barbecue sauce. Overly tannic or oaky wines need not apply.

Zinfandel and Syrah/Shiraz are considered classic cookout wines because they have lots of fruit and spice, without too much oak and tannin to get in the way. Medium to full-bodied Merlots are also good matches for grilled fare -- especially the red meat and sausage variety.

If you're grilling something other than beef, the story changes. The subtle smoky flavor of  barbecue chicken calls for a light and fruity red wine, like Beaujolais or Tempranillo (the Spanish  grape in Rioja). Top that same grilled chicken (or even swordfish) with a tropical fruit salsa, and you're better off with a rich,  aromatic Pinot Gris/Grigio or a spicy Riesling or Gerwurztraminer. For grilled salmon, Pinot Noir  is a match made in heaven.

Whatever you're tossing  on the grill this Fourth of July, there's a wine out there to make it taste even better.

__RECOMMENDED WINES__

__Kenwood 1999 Sonoma County Zinfandel ($16)__ {img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_full.gif"}{img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_full.gif"}{img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_full.gif"}{img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_empty.gif"}{img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_empty.gif"}: This Zin has spicy black cherry/berry flavors and a nice balance between fruit and tannins. Throw some sweet Italian sausages on the grill (or portabella mushrooms, if you're the veggie type) and enjoy.

__Coppola 2000 Blue Label Merlot ($17) __{img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_full.gif"}{img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_full.gif"}{img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_full.gif"}{img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_empty.gif"}{img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_empty.gif"}: With a little Syrah mixed in for  complexity, this wine has plum,  raspberry and blackberry flavors. Serve it up with some grilled chicken sausages or juicy burgers.

__Valley of the Moon 1999 Syrah ($17)__ {img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_full.gif"}{img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_full.gif"}{img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_full.gif"}{img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_empty.gif"}{img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_empty.gif"}: This one's got a nice berry smell and a spicy mix of cherry and black pepper flavors. It's a nice match for grilled sausages, burgers and other red meats.

__Ca' del Solo 1999 Sangiovese "Il Fiasco" ($15)__ {img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_full.gif"}{img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_full.gif"}{img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_full.gif"}{img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_empty.gif"}{img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_empty.gif"}: Light bodied and easy drinking with tasty cherry,  raspberry and blackberry flavors. Though it's too subtle for big ol' steaks, it's a good match for grilled chicken and mild sausages.

__Perry Creek 2000 ZinMan Zinfandel ($12) __{img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_full.gif"}{img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_full.gif"}{img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_full.gif"}{img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_empty.gif"}{img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_empty.gif"}: This balanced wine from California's Sierra Foothills has a slightly  veggie smell at first, which gives way to spicy raspberry and cherry flavors. It's tasty with barbecued red meats.

__Bonny Doon Pacific Rim Riesling __($10) {img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_full.gif"}{img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_full.gif"}{img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_full.gif"}{img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_full.gif"}{img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_empty.gif"}: Aromatic, with scents of pineapple and flowers and zippy-on-the-tongue qualities that make your mouth feel alive. Extremely quaffable and great with anything spicy.  Cheap, too.

__Carmen 2001 Chardonnay ($8) __{img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_full.gif"}{img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_full.gif"}{img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_full.gif"}{img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_full.gif"}{img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_empty.gif"}: While I generally wouldn't recommend Chardonnay with barbecue fare, this one from Chile is made in a refreshing,  non-oaky style and has lots of yummy tropical fruit flavors (think pineapple). It's great match for grilled chicken sausages, especially the chicken-apple variety. And it's  a great bargain!

''Tina Caputo is a San Francisco-based wino who  supports her nasty habit by  writing for wine publications. Comments? E-mail [mailto:corkscrew@creativeloafing.com|corkscrew@creativeloafing.com].''??


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  string(3719) "    Get fired up over Fourth of July cookout wines   2002-06-26T04:04:00+00:00 Corkscrew - Wines with a bang   Tina Caputo 1223735 2002-06-26T04:04:00+00:00  

Hot sunny days inspire a primitive urge to make fire and roast up large hunks of meat for tribes of hungry carnivores. In other words: It's grilling season.

While most folks are content  to wash down their grilled fare  with gallons of cheap watery beer,  I have a better idea: Wine.

Unlike flavorless beer (not  that I'm a wine snob or anything), wine has the power to take your flame-grilled beast (or even  veggie burgers) to new heights of flavor. When choosing wines for grilled vittles, think bold and  beautiful. Cookout flavors are far from wimpy, so your wine  shouldn't be either. You need  something big and fruity, with  plenty of pepper and spice, to stand up to all that smoldering meat and smoky-sweet barbecue sauce. Overly tannic or oaky wines need not apply.

Zinfandel and Syrah/Shiraz are considered classic cookout wines because they have lots of fruit and spice, without too much oak and tannin to get in the way. Medium to full-bodied Merlots are also good matches for grilled fare — especially the red meat and sausage variety.

If you're grilling something other than beef, the story changes. The subtle smoky flavor of  barbecue chicken calls for a light and fruity red wine, like Beaujolais or Tempranillo (the Spanish  grape in Rioja). Top that same grilled chicken (or even swordfish) with a tropical fruit salsa, and you're better off with a rich,  aromatic Pinot Gris/Grigio or a spicy Riesling or Gerwurztraminer. For grilled salmon, Pinot Noir  is a match made in heaven.

Whatever you're tossing  on the grill this Fourth of July, there's a wine out there to make it taste even better.

RECOMMENDED WINES

Kenwood 1999 Sonoma County Zinfandel ($16) : This Zin has spicy black cherry/berry flavors and a nice balance between fruit and tannins. Throw some sweet Italian sausages on the grill (or portabella mushrooms, if you're the veggie type) and enjoy.

Coppola 2000 Blue Label Merlot ($17) : With a little Syrah mixed in for  complexity, this wine has plum,  raspberry and blackberry flavors. Serve it up with some grilled chicken sausages or juicy burgers.

Valley of the Moon 1999 Syrah ($17) : This one's got a nice berry smell and a spicy mix of cherry and black pepper flavors. It's a nice match for grilled sausages, burgers and other red meats.

Ca' del Solo 1999 Sangiovese "Il Fiasco" ($15) : Light bodied and easy drinking with tasty cherry,  raspberry and blackberry flavors. Though it's too subtle for big ol' steaks, it's a good match for grilled chicken and mild sausages.

Perry Creek 2000 ZinMan Zinfandel ($12) : This balanced wine from California's Sierra Foothills has a slightly  veggie smell at first, which gives way to spicy raspberry and cherry flavors. It's tasty with barbecued red meats.

Bonny Doon Pacific Rim Riesling ($10) : Aromatic, with scents of pineapple and flowers and zippy-on-the-tongue qualities that make your mouth feel alive. Extremely quaffable and great with anything spicy.  Cheap, too.

Carmen 2001 Chardonnay ($8) : While I generally wouldn't recommend Chardonnay with barbecue fare, this one from Chile is made in a refreshing,  non-oaky style and has lots of yummy tropical fruit flavors (think pineapple). It's great match for grilled chicken sausages, especially the chicken-apple variety. And it's  a great bargain!

Tina Caputo is a San Francisco-based wino who  supports her nasty habit by  writing for wine publications. Comments? E-mail corkscrew@creativeloafing.com.??


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Article

Wednesday June 26, 2002 12:04 am EDT
Get fired up over Fourth of July cookout wines | more...
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According to many high-falutin' wine experts, storing wine in anything but a state-of-the-art, temperature-controlled cellar is nothing short of wine abuse. These misguided folks claim that wine is so very delicate that, if you so much as hiccup while holding the bottle in your hand, the wine will be forever ruined by the sudden vibration. At the other end of the spectrum are the flagrant rebels who insist you can store your wine outside in direct sunlight all summer long without causing any damage.

Well, guess what? They're both wrong. The truth about wine storage lies somewhere in-between the two extremes. While an expensive wine cellar is far from a requirement, there are some basic "do's  and don'ts" that will help keep your wine from going south before you get a chance  to drink it.

The main thing to remember is that wine has three natural enemies: excessive light, heat and movement. If a wine is exposed to extreme heat or bright sunlight, it can end up having a weird "cooked" taste. Movement can cause a wine to age too quickly and become "over the hill" before its time. Expose your poor wine to all three of these enemies and it may even start leaking through the cork in an attempt to escape its abusive environment.

I know about these negative reactions from experience. As research for a book I contributed to called The Wine Brats' Guide to Living, with Wine, I conducted an experiment to see how a bottle of wine would respond to a couple weeks of torture. With gleeful sadism, I transferred the unlucky bottle from my freezer to the refrigerator and then into the trunk of my car, where it rolled around for a week. After that, the bottle baked in a hot, sunny office for a couple days, then finished out its torture session with an hour in my gas oven. The result was a thoroughly pissed-off bottle of wine that bled from its cork like a wounded animal. And let me tell you, it didn't taste very good either.

To protect your wine from a similar fate, it's best to avoid storing it on sunny kitchen countertops, next to heat registers or inside vibrating refrigerators (or on top of them, for that matter).

In an ideal world, wine prefers a cool, stable environment with decent humidity. Because it doesn't respond well to change, wine should be stored in a place where temperatures are fairly constant (50-60 degrees Fahrenheit) and should be moved around as little as possible. A 70 percent to 75 percent humidity level helps to keep corks from drying out and letting oxygen in.

But for the rest of us, an average living area contains many appropriate resting places. For example:

 A cool closet — Just stack your bottles on their sides in an empty milk crate and shove the crate in.

 Under the bed — Dark enough to make any bottle happy.

 The basement — Cool, dark and damp: what more could a wine want? But you probably want to avoid any wet areas, because the labels will mold.

 The extra bathroom nobody ever uses — What do you think those shelves are for? Toilet paper?

The idea is to be creative. Think of the coolest, dampest place in your house or apartment and make some room for wine.

Tina Caputo is a San Francisco-based wino who supports her nasty habit by writing for wine publications. Comments? Email corkscrew@creativeloafing.com.??


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__According to __many high-falutin' wine experts, storing wine in anything but a state-of-the-art, temperature-controlled cellar is nothing short of wine abuse. These misguided folks claim that wine is so very delicate that, if you so much as hiccup while holding the bottle in your hand, the wine will be forever ruined by the sudden vibration. At the other end of the spectrum are the flagrant rebels who insist you can store your wine outside in direct sunlight all summer long without causing any damage.

Well, guess what? They're both wrong. The truth about wine storage lies somewhere in-between the two extremes. While an expensive wine cellar is far from a requirement, there are some basic "do's  and don'ts" that will help keep your wine from going south before you get a chance  to drink it.

The main thing to remember is that wine has three natural enemies: excessive light, heat and movement. If a wine is exposed to extreme heat or bright sunlight, it can end up having a weird "cooked" taste. Movement can cause a wine to age too quickly and become "over the hill" before its time. Expose your poor wine to all three of these enemies and it may even start leaking through the cork in an attempt to escape its abusive environment.

I know about these negative reactions from experience. As research for a book I contributed to called ''The Wine Brats' Guide to Living, with Wine'', I conducted an experiment to see how a bottle of wine would respond to a couple weeks of torture. With gleeful sadism, I transferred the unlucky bottle from my freezer to the refrigerator and then into the trunk of my car, where it rolled around for a week. After that, the bottle baked in a hot, sunny office for a couple days, then finished out its torture session with an hour in my gas oven. The result was a thoroughly pissed-off bottle of wine that bled from its cork like a wounded animal. And let me tell you, it didn't taste very good either.

To protect your wine from a similar fate, it's best to avoid storing it on sunny kitchen countertops, next to heat registers or inside vibrating refrigerators (or on top of them, for that matter).

In an ideal world, wine prefers a cool, stable environment with decent humidity. Because it doesn't respond well to change, wine should be stored in a place where temperatures are fairly constant (50-60 degrees Fahrenheit) and should be moved around as little as possible. A 70 percent to 75 percent humidity level helps to keep corks from drying out and letting oxygen in.

But for the rest of us, an average living area contains many appropriate resting places. For example:

 __A cool closet__ -- Just stack your bottles on their sides in an empty milk crate and shove the crate in.

 __Under the bed__ -- Dark enough to make any bottle happy.

 __The basement__ -- Cool, dark and damp: what more could a wine want? But you probably want to avoid any wet areas, because the labels will mold.

 __The extra bathroom nobody ever uses__ -- What do you think those shelves are for? Toilet paper?

The idea is to be creative. Think of the coolest, dampest place in your house or apartment and make some room for wine.

''Tina Caputo is a San Francisco-based wino who supports her nasty habit by writing for wine publications. Comments? Email [mailto:corkscrew@creativeloafing.com|corkscrew@creativeloafing.com].''??


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According to many high-falutin' wine experts, storing wine in anything but a state-of-the-art, temperature-controlled cellar is nothing short of wine abuse. These misguided folks claim that wine is so very delicate that, if you so much as hiccup while holding the bottle in your hand, the wine will be forever ruined by the sudden vibration. At the other end of the spectrum are the flagrant rebels who insist you can store your wine outside in direct sunlight all summer long without causing any damage.

Well, guess what? They're both wrong. The truth about wine storage lies somewhere in-between the two extremes. While an expensive wine cellar is far from a requirement, there are some basic "do's  and don'ts" that will help keep your wine from going south before you get a chance  to drink it.

The main thing to remember is that wine has three natural enemies: excessive light, heat and movement. If a wine is exposed to extreme heat or bright sunlight, it can end up having a weird "cooked" taste. Movement can cause a wine to age too quickly and become "over the hill" before its time. Expose your poor wine to all three of these enemies and it may even start leaking through the cork in an attempt to escape its abusive environment.

I know about these negative reactions from experience. As research for a book I contributed to called The Wine Brats' Guide to Living, with Wine, I conducted an experiment to see how a bottle of wine would respond to a couple weeks of torture. With gleeful sadism, I transferred the unlucky bottle from my freezer to the refrigerator and then into the trunk of my car, where it rolled around for a week. After that, the bottle baked in a hot, sunny office for a couple days, then finished out its torture session with an hour in my gas oven. The result was a thoroughly pissed-off bottle of wine that bled from its cork like a wounded animal. And let me tell you, it didn't taste very good either.

To protect your wine from a similar fate, it's best to avoid storing it on sunny kitchen countertops, next to heat registers or inside vibrating refrigerators (or on top of them, for that matter).

In an ideal world, wine prefers a cool, stable environment with decent humidity. Because it doesn't respond well to change, wine should be stored in a place where temperatures are fairly constant (50-60 degrees Fahrenheit) and should be moved around as little as possible. A 70 percent to 75 percent humidity level helps to keep corks from drying out and letting oxygen in.

But for the rest of us, an average living area contains many appropriate resting places. For example:

 A cool closet — Just stack your bottles on their sides in an empty milk crate and shove the crate in.

 Under the bed — Dark enough to make any bottle happy.

 The basement — Cool, dark and damp: what more could a wine want? But you probably want to avoid any wet areas, because the labels will mold.

 The extra bathroom nobody ever uses — What do you think those shelves are for? Toilet paper?

The idea is to be creative. Think of the coolest, dampest place in your house or apartment and make some room for wine.

Tina Caputo is a San Francisco-based wino who supports her nasty habit by writing for wine publications. Comments? Email corkscrew@creativeloafing.com.??


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Wednesday June 5, 2002 12:04 am EDT
Do's and don'ts for wine storage | more...
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Chances are you've got a bottle of sherry stashed somewhere in your kitchen. You know the one: You bought it two years ago, used some in a recipe and left the rest to rot in the back of the cupboard. Perhaps you've been wondering what to do with it. Here's a hint: Take it out of the cupboard, pour the contents down the sink and recycle the bottle.

I'm not saying your sherry sucks, I'm saying it's too old. Sherry doesn't improve with age; it tastes best while it's fresh and young. If this surprises you, you're not alone. To most Americans, sherry is a mysterious sweet beverage sipped only by stuffy ascot-wearing Brits. If you share this tragic opinion, it's time for a sherry primer.

To put it simply, sherry is a fortified wine made from white grapes (usually Palomino Fino). The wine gets its name from the historical English pronunciation of "Jerez," the town in Southern Spain where sherry originates. The region is known for its chalky soil, scorching weather and lack of rainfall, which help give sherry its special characteristics.

There are three main styles of sherry, ranging from bone dry to super sweet. Pale fino sherry is the lightest and driest type. Amontillado sherries are more full-bodied, and may have a touch of sweetness. The richest sherries are the olorosos, which can be blended with sweet grapes to make cream sherry.

Sherries are made the same way as regular table wines, until their fermentation process is complete.

After fermentation, sherry wines are fortified with grape-based spirits such as brandy and left in casks. While they're maturing, a yeast called "flor" develops on the wines' surface, which helps prevent oxidation. The thickness of the flor determines the style of sherry each cask will produce. The thicker the flor, the drier the sherry will be.

Next the sherry is added to a solera for blending. In a traditional solera system, several rows of small oak barrels are stacked on top of each other, with the oldest wines on the bottom. When it's time to bottle, about a third of each barrel on the bottom row is removed. The winemaker then replaces the missing wine with sherry from the row immediately above it. This process continues until a complete transfer is made from top to bottom. In this way, consistent character and quality can be achieved from year to year.

Now that you know how sherry is made, it's important to know how to drink it. Here's how to get the most out of your  sherry: 
 Drink it as soon as possible after opening (within a week for finos; four to eight weeks for everything else).

 Serve finos cold. Serve amontillados and olorosos at just below room temperature.

 Sherry is OK by itself, but it's even  better with food. Fino is great with tapas, seafood and soups. Amontillado goes well with spicy foods, nuts and desserts. Serve sweet sherries with rich desserts.

 Recork the bottle immediately after serving to preserve the wine's freshness, and store it upright in the refrigerator.

To showcase sherry's style differences, I tasted three varieties from the same producer (priced $12-$15).

Sandeman Don Fino : This pale sherry has a pleasant, sweet smell but tastes bone dry. Sip it with almonds and salty cheeses like Manchego.

Sandeman Character Sherry (Amontillado) : Richer than the fino, this has a nutty smell with yummy caramel and orange accents. It's smooth, slightly sweet and refreshing.

Sandeman Armada Rich Cream Sherry  : The sweetest of the trio, like an intensified version of the Character sherry. If you like port, you'll dig this.

Tina Caputo is a San Francisco-based wino who supports her nasty habit by  writing for wine publications. Comments? E-mail corkscrew@creativeloafing.com.??


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__Chances are you've got __a bottle of sherry stashed somewhere in your kitchen. You know the one: You bought it two years ago, used some in a recipe and left the rest to rot in the back of the cupboard. Perhaps you've been wondering what to do with it. Here's a hint: Take it out of the cupboard, pour the contents down the sink and recycle the bottle.

I'm not saying your sherry sucks, I'm saying it's too old. Sherry doesn't improve with age; it tastes best while it's fresh and young. If this surprises you, you're not alone. To most Americans, sherry is a mysterious sweet beverage sipped only by stuffy ascot-wearing Brits. If you share this tragic opinion, it's time for a sherry primer.

To put it simply, sherry is a fortified wine made from white grapes (usually Palomino Fino). The wine gets its name from the historical English pronunciation of "Jerez," the town in Southern Spain where sherry originates. The region is known for its chalky soil, scorching weather and lack of rainfall, which help give sherry its special characteristics.

There are three main styles of sherry, ranging from bone dry to super sweet. Pale fino sherry is the lightest and driest type. Amontillado sherries are more full-bodied, and may have a touch of sweetness. The richest sherries are the olorosos, which can be blended with sweet grapes to make cream sherry.

Sherries are made the same way as regular table wines, until their fermentation process is complete.

After fermentation, sherry wines are fortified with grape-based spirits such as brandy and left in casks. While they're maturing, a yeast called "flor" develops on the wines' surface, which helps prevent oxidation. The thickness of the flor determines the style of sherry each cask will produce. The thicker the flor, the drier the sherry will be.

Next the sherry is added to a solera for blending. In a traditional solera system, several rows of small oak barrels are stacked on top of each other, with the oldest wines on the bottom. When it's time to bottle, about a third of each barrel on the bottom row is removed. The winemaker then replaces the missing wine with sherry from the row immediately above it. This process continues until a complete transfer is made from top to bottom. In this way, consistent character and quality can be achieved from year to year.

Now that you know how sherry is made, it's important to know how to drink it. Here's how to get the most out of your  sherry: 
 Drink it as soon as possible after opening (within a week for finos; four to eight weeks for everything else).

 Serve finos cold. Serve amontillados and olorosos at just below room temperature.

 Sherry is OK by itself, but it's even  better with food. Fino is great with tapas, seafood and soups. Amontillado goes well with spicy foods, nuts and desserts. Serve sweet sherries with rich desserts.

 Recork the bottle immediately after serving to preserve the wine's freshness, and store it upright in the refrigerator.

To showcase sherry's style differences, I tasted three varieties from the same producer (priced $12-$15).

__Sandeman Don Fino {img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_full.gif"}{img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_full.gif"}{img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_full.gif"}{img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_empty.gif"}{img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_empty.gif"}: This pale sherry has a pleasant, sweet smell but tastes bone dry. Sip it with almonds and salty cheeses like Manchego.__
____
____Sandeman Character Sherry (Amontillado) {img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_full.gif"}{img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_full.gif"}{img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_full.gif"}{img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_full.gif"}{img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_empty.gif"}: Richer than the fino, this has a nutty smell with yummy caramel and orange accents. It's smooth, slightly sweet and refreshing.

__Sandeman Armada Rich Cream Sherry {img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_full.gif"}{img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_full.gif"}{img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_full.gif"}{img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_full.gif"}{img src="http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/images/stars_empty.gif"} __: The sweetest of the trio, like an intensified version of the Character sherry. If you like port, you'll dig this.

''Tina Caputo is a San Francisco-based wino who supports her nasty habit by  writing for wine publications. Comments? E-mail [mailto:corkscrew@creativeloafing.com|corkscrew@creativeloafing.com].''??


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  string(3924) "    It's gotta be fresh and young   2002-05-15T04:04:00+00:00 Corkscrew - Oh, sherry!   Tina Caputo 1223735 2002-05-15T04:04:00+00:00  

Chances are you've got a bottle of sherry stashed somewhere in your kitchen. You know the one: You bought it two years ago, used some in a recipe and left the rest to rot in the back of the cupboard. Perhaps you've been wondering what to do with it. Here's a hint: Take it out of the cupboard, pour the contents down the sink and recycle the bottle.

I'm not saying your sherry sucks, I'm saying it's too old. Sherry doesn't improve with age; it tastes best while it's fresh and young. If this surprises you, you're not alone. To most Americans, sherry is a mysterious sweet beverage sipped only by stuffy ascot-wearing Brits. If you share this tragic opinion, it's time for a sherry primer.

To put it simply, sherry is a fortified wine made from white grapes (usually Palomino Fino). The wine gets its name from the historical English pronunciation of "Jerez," the town in Southern Spain where sherry originates. The region is known for its chalky soil, scorching weather and lack of rainfall, which help give sherry its special characteristics.

There are three main styles of sherry, ranging from bone dry to super sweet. Pale fino sherry is the lightest and driest type. Amontillado sherries are more full-bodied, and may have a touch of sweetness. The richest sherries are the olorosos, which can be blended with sweet grapes to make cream sherry.

Sherries are made the same way as regular table wines, until their fermentation process is complete.

After fermentation, sherry wines are fortified with grape-based spirits such as brandy and left in casks. While they're maturing, a yeast called "flor" develops on the wines' surface, which helps prevent oxidation. The thickness of the flor determines the style of sherry each cask will produce. The thicker the flor, the drier the sherry will be.

Next the sherry is added to a solera for blending. In a traditional solera system, several rows of small oak barrels are stacked on top of each other, with the oldest wines on the bottom. When it's time to bottle, about a third of each barrel on the bottom row is removed. The winemaker then replaces the missing wine with sherry from the row immediately above it. This process continues until a complete transfer is made from top to bottom. In this way, consistent character and quality can be achieved from year to year.

Now that you know how sherry is made, it's important to know how to drink it. Here's how to get the most out of your  sherry: 
 Drink it as soon as possible after opening (within a week for finos; four to eight weeks for everything else).

 Serve finos cold. Serve amontillados and olorosos at just below room temperature.

 Sherry is OK by itself, but it's even  better with food. Fino is great with tapas, seafood and soups. Amontillado goes well with spicy foods, nuts and desserts. Serve sweet sherries with rich desserts.

 Recork the bottle immediately after serving to preserve the wine's freshness, and store it upright in the refrigerator.

To showcase sherry's style differences, I tasted three varieties from the same producer (priced $12-$15).

Sandeman Don Fino : This pale sherry has a pleasant, sweet smell but tastes bone dry. Sip it with almonds and salty cheeses like Manchego.

Sandeman Character Sherry (Amontillado) : Richer than the fino, this has a nutty smell with yummy caramel and orange accents. It's smooth, slightly sweet and refreshing.

Sandeman Armada Rich Cream Sherry  : The sweetest of the trio, like an intensified version of the Character sherry. If you like port, you'll dig this.

Tina Caputo is a San Francisco-based wino who supports her nasty habit by  writing for wine publications. Comments? E-mail corkscrew@creativeloafing.com.??


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Wednesday May 15, 2002 12:04 am EDT
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