Himfr.com Reports Commodities wine 8 Frequently Asked Questions

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We realized we have answered thousands of questions from readers, but the same ones keep coming up. Here we offer answers to our 11 most-asked questions, in condensed form.

In each case, the answer could be far more extensive, with all sorts of to-be-sures and howevers - in fact, in every case we have written at least one entire column

on the issue over the years. But if we had to answer in about 100 words or less, this is what we'd say. They are listed from the 11th-most-asked to the most asked.

Don't peek.

You can find more comprehensive answers to many of these questions and others in other areas of this How-to Guide.

1. What's the best glass?

We prefer a large glass - around 20 to 22 ounces is good - because it feels generous in our hands and we can swirl around the small amount we pour into it. Look for

clear, thin glass; a long stem; and a slight curve inward at the top. We prefer inexpensive glasses so we don't worry about breaking them. Over the years, we have

found good glasses at a wide variety of stores, including Pier 1 and Costco (though we haven't seen our favorites at either place recently). Vino Grande Burgundy

from Spiegelau, which is owned by Riedel, is our everyday glass.

2. Where are the best values coming from these days?

This has leaped onto this list in the past year, for obvious reasons. If we had to answer in one word, it would be this: Chile. Look especially for its Cabernet

Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc. But Argentina (especially Malbec), New Zealand (especially Sauvignon Blanc) and South Africa (also Sauvignon Blanc) are good bets,


3. What wines should I serve at a party (or to any large gathering)?

For a white, Chilean or New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is a winner. For a red, we used to recommend one of the cru Beaujolais (such as Fleurie) and we still like that

advice, but Argentina's Malbec is so popular right now and so widely enjoyed that we'd recommend that instead. If you are looking for an affordable bubbly for a

group, it's hard to go wrong with Cava from Spain.

4. How do I remove labels?

We're thrilled to be asked this so often because it means people are drinking wines they want to remember. You could take a digital picture, of course. But if you

want to remove the actual label (as we do), most labels these days work with the oven method: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Turn it off. Put the empty bottle in for a

few minutes until it gets really hot. Wearing serious oven mitts, carefully remove the bottle, lift a corner of the label with a fingernail or a knife and peel

right off.

5. Should I decant?

Generally, no - at least, not at first. We enjoy tasting a wine from the first sip to the last and it will get plenty of air in those big glasses while we swirl. If

we taste a wine and it's so tight that it needs decanting, we can decant; if we decant first and then find that the wine lost some fruit to the air, there's no

going back.

6. Do I have to store my wine in a temperature-controlled cellar?

If you simply want to keep a mixed case of wine around the house for a short time - and you should - find a place in the dark with a fairly constant, moderate

temperature. The bottom of a closet is often fine. If you have fine wine you want to store for longer, get one of those wine refrigerators. They are more

affordable, available and space-efficient than ever and they're worth it. If you want to lay down a bottle in that temperature-controlled cellar for your newborn -

and this is also a question we're often asked - we'd suggest Sauternes.

6a. What is the correct cellar temperature, and do whites and reds need to be different?

Classic cellar temperature is about 55 degrees. We keep reds and whites at about 57 because we find that it's a good starting point for serving both. Most reds are

served too warm and most whites are served too cold, especially at restaurants. We might want to chill our whites a bit more or warm our reds by leaving them on the

table as we sip them, but 57 is a good starting point.

7. I want to find a bottle I had at a restaurant (or that I read about); how do I get it?

Try wine-searcher.com, wineaccess.com and winezap.com. Chances are you will find it. Even if it is not listed for sale at a local wine shop, you might be able to

have it delivered from a faraway store. If you can't do that, perhaps because of local laws, try calling a store that has it and asking the merchant to look at the

label and give you the name of the distributor, whom you can call. This is one of many reasons you should have a good local wine merchant, because he or she can

help find it.

8. I love X wine; what do you think of it?

We're surprised how often we are asked this. Our answer is: It doesn't matter. We think you should drink the wines you love and love the wines you drink. Don't let

anyone, including us, tell you what's good and what isn't. In fact, though, this does touch on a very good and much more important question, one that you should

regularly pose to that helpful wine merchant you need to find: I love X wine; what else do you have in your store that I might like at around the same price? That's

how great wine journeys get started.

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