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Subject: Wine (the beverage) FAQ, part7 of 10 [LONG]

This article was archived around: 30 Sep 2000 17:19:47 GMT

All FAQs in Directory: drink/wine-faq
All FAQs posted in: rec.food.drink, alt.food.wine
Source: Usenet Version


Archive-name: drink/wine-faq/part7 Posting-Frequency: monthly Copyright: (c) 1995-2000 Bradford S. Brown (Notices/Disclaimers in pt. 10) Last-modified: 2000/06/01 U.S. WWW (HTML) Mirror: http://www.sbwines.com/usenet_winefaq [newest] U.K. WWW (HTML) Mirror: http://www.bath.ac.uk/~su3ws/wine-faq/wine-faq.html
IX. FOOD AND WINE ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This subject is enormous. Perhaps as time goes by I'll develop a listing, but we'll start with some basics: *"Drink red wines with meat, white wines with fish."* _Wrong!_ Drink whatever wine you like that _you_ think goes with whatever you are eating. There aren't any rules. The fact that there are some combinations that "many" people think best complement food and wine is a good guide, but if _you_ don't like it, or you like something else, do it! And red wine goes very well with a lot of fish, thank you. From a chemical standpoint, what you do when drinking wine can have an enormous impact on what you drink (or whether you should drink at all). Try an experiment. Dissolve 1/8th teaspoon salt in a gallon of water. Do the same with sugar and another gallon of water. Take a sip of one then taste a wine. Try it with the other. You may be very surprised. Since your taste buds are extremely sensitive, eating food radically changes the way a wine can taste. This is why tasting wine without eating the food you intend to eat it with may steer you wrong when it comes to what you really like. _FOOD COMBINATIONS PEOPLE HAVE LIKED _ I don't necessarily agree with or have tried the food and wine combinations that are related in this section. In fact, it is such an overwhelming area, I don't even know if it is a good idea to start. But since a FAQ should answer Frequently Asked Questions, here are some of the ones that have come up a lot. Wine and Chocolate_ Some will say this isn't possible. I think they're wrong. You'll find chocolate notes in Cabernet and this can make it a decent match. Also try Merlot or Zinfandel. A correspondent tells me that there is a chocolatier near the Musee D'Orsay in Paris that has a whole sheet of suggestions for wine with chocolate. Some of the best ideas are, he thinks: Vin Jaune, an "incredible, almost sherried wine" from the Jura; Chateau Chalon; fine solera Malaga; or an assertive young white port. _Wine and Duck_ Peking Duck (with sweet sauce): White Hermitage, Pinot Gris, Sancerre or Pouilly Fume Plain Roast Duck: Bordeaux, Cabernet, Australian Chardonnay, California Pinot Noir, Madiran, Cotes de Buzet Misc.: Spanish Rioja, preferably and Reserva or Gran Reserva X. LEARNING ABOUT WINE --------------------------------------------------------------------------- Starting Out --------------------------------------------------------------------------- In college what we drank was jug wine, Sangria, sloe gin fizzes, and the occasional 100% grain alcohol that the pre-med guy would get from the lab. Taste wasn't exactly the idea. For many years, we didn't exactly drink much in the way of any wine at all. Then we were introduced to "good" wine. This wasn't something that you just drank, it was another facet of the meal, food to be enjoyed just like the entree or dessert. About this time a local "fancy" market started doing "winemaker dinners." This being California, there was no lack of some of the best people in the state showing up. The market was trying to get business, so it was inexpensive and the 5-course meals were great. And so was a lot of the wine. While it was interesting to listen to the stories the winemakers, cellarmasters and producers would tell (and try to decipher some of the questions that the knowledgeable folk asked), the most important part was that this was a way to be introduced to a lot of different wines, alone, and with food. Dri, who has the memory between us, could remember what was good, or what she or I liked, and still can to this day. I'm a lot slower and my test (I thought I'd invented it, but then saw it in a magazine--later) was the "GDE" test. Did it "go down easy?" Matching wines was Dri's job and I knew I liked what I drank. I also started to know what I didn't like. Dri and I don't always agree. Neither will you. We bought a few books and started to visit wineries, mostly in California, some in Washington and Oregon. We went on the tours, some of which were big and crowded. As we gathered up our nerve about us, we found that we could make appointments at little wineries which would show just the two of us around (often it would be the owner/winemaker doing the tour), talk to us for hours about their operation and about wine, and let us taste some of the "good stuff." (Word of mouth is always good advertising.) It also turned out that some "big" wineries will do the same, just for the asking. After a while one tour looks like another, but we just like being in the usually cool winery and drinking in the scents of grape and wine and wood that jump out at you--and learning about the winemaker/owners. Even when there is no tour, many small wineries will, on appointment, let you taste. (Please, don't be pushy with them. They're doing you a favor, too. They have a business to run and lives to live. We always ask if they have time and when is best for them!) We didn't try to hit every place in Napa, we slowly picked a few places that we thought had good wine, and went and spent time. And bought some to keep. So now we drink more wine and we're still learning. We found, as most will tell you, that the best way to learn about wine is to drink it. So true. Lectures, books, magazines, this guide, other people, etc., will help you and maybe get you started along the right track. But what they have to say are just clues to the easily solved puzzle of what _you_ will like. Two interesting learning tools: restaurants that serve fine wines by the glass or have multi-course fixed price meals serving different wines for each course and wine tastings (often of verticals that will let you see just how a wine ages and when it is young, ready, or too old all at one sitting). Many restaurants have wine tastings as do wine clubs and associations. You can also do your own wine tastings (everybody brings a bottle of something, perhaps all reds, or all one varietal, etc.). Perhaps you host and have the guests chip in on the costs. This way you avoid duplication of bottles. Read Kevin Zraly's "Windows on the World Wine Course", a very easy to read book with lots of graphics. Take a wine appreciation class. These can usually be found through university extension, junior/community colleges or even large wine shops. These will introduce you to terminology, basic wine types, how to evaluate wines, etc. Find a tasting group, or a good wine shop that puts on tastings, preferably both. It is prohibitively expensive to taste a lot of wines if you have to buy a full bottle for each wine. Typically, a good wine shop should be able to point you to a few good tasting groups. There's used to be a "Les Amis Du Vin" chapter in most major cities, but I'm told the national organization has disappeared. A new organization called "Wine Lovers International" is trying to incorporate as many of the old Les Amis chapters as it can. Get copies of wine tasting newsletters, and try several wines recommended by each of them to see which ones most closely match your palate, then subscribe to the most appropriate ones. There's a listing of these resources elsewhere in this document. If all else fails, get some friends together (who at least enjoy wines--and maybe even if they don't) for wine tastings. It's also not a bad idea to make friends with people who have cellars full of wine (!). An important thing to do for any person who wants to start drinking better wine, is to find one or two wine merchants that you like, and to become recognized as a loyal customer, even if you don't initially spend a great deal. See which shops have tastings open to their customers. Tell the proprietor about your interests, taste, and budget. Many wine shop owners are enthusiasts who love to help (and talk) about wine. Try the offered wines then decide whether the wine is as the proprietor described it? Is it about what you asked for? If so, go back for more. A good merchant will repay your loyalty (and you'll repay theirs, and so on . . . ) X. LEARNING ABOUT WINE --------------------------------------------------------------------------- Cyberbia --------------------------------------------------------------------------- _ The extraordinary fast growth of the Internet and proliferation of multimedia personal computers makes it close to impossible to keep up with the changes available in electronic media. Here we'll offer some tips and perhaps a few definitions for people new to the electronic arena. Have a glass of wine while sifting through this one! _THE "INTERNET" _The "Internet" isn't exactly a thing. "Newbies" (people new to the Internet, generally considered to be unknowing of the conventions which have grown up to try to "civilize" its nature), often conceptualize the Internet like some giant America On Line or Prodigy or Microsoft Network. It isn't. The Internet is a system where a lot of people got together and agreed on rules by which lots of computers networks (and sometimes merely individual computers) could transfer information amongst themselves. When a computer or computer network "links" into the Internet, information is passed around using those rules. With a few semi-exceptions not worth explaining in a Wine FAQ, the Internet is really just one vast e-mail system where information ("data") can and may pass between and among any machine connected to the network. How you get to and/or view this electronic mail which is passed around on the Internet (sometimes called the "Network of networks") may take a number of different forms: for example, what we call "e-mail," World Wide Web pages, telnet, or Usenet. Since an ever increasing number of people are using a single tool, such as as a Web Browser to do all these things, there is a tendency to say that all these things _*are*_ the Internet. This isn't the place to argue the semantics of the 'net, but I mention these things to avoid the inevitable quibble that many of the things that I will refer to as part of the Internet are available in other ways or aren't _*technically*_ the "Internet." Fill your glass and don't worry about it. _Usenet_ A "bulletin board" system which uses the Internet to make available the public discussion of topics of interest. Where private e-mail goes (more or less) from one person to another, Usenet messages go from one person to everybody on the Internet who want to see them. There are about 15,000 "legitimate" (whatever that means) topics on Usenet as of this writing. Not all internet service providers (the method by which most individuals connect to Internet) give you access to every usenet topic. If the wine groups are not available to you, ask your site administrator to add them. There are currently two general Usenet groups that deal with wine: rec.food.drink [rec.food.drink] and alt.food.wine [alt.food.wine] . Depending on how you are reading this, your Internet connection, and your system, clicking on one of those names may take you directly to the group. For other more regionalized news groups, check out Usenet in Appendix A, The Wine Bookmark Page. Because rec.food.drink is more widely propagated (that means more sites make it available), time was when it carried most of the wine-related discussions. With the growth of the Internet it seems as if alt.food.wine has gained greater acceptance as the group of choice. Someone with time to spare might take the effort to establish a rec.food.wine. ("Rec" groups tend to be much more widely accepted than "alt" groups). If you think you would like to take these steps, more information is available on the process on Usenet in the news.answers [news.answers] group. (Many people post wine-related information to alt.bacchus. I have refrained from doing so as it is my understanding that the charter for that group is for other purposes.) Where "web pages" provide an excellent place for static information from single individuals or companies, Usenet is the place to get quick answers from the world. In fact, the FAQ is mostly an outgrowth of Usenet. After a group has seen (and maybe answered) a question for the 1000th time, it is a lot easier to tell newcomers to read the FAQ (for "Frequently Asked Questions") _before_ posing the question for the 1001th time. Usenet FAQs are usually prepared and maintained by volunteers who feel the urge to do so. _Listservs_ Where Usenet is totally public and e-mail is totally (sort of) private, a listserv falls somewhere in between. A listserv is like a private mailing list. A person sends mail to the listserv (a computer which is set up to deal with that mail). The listserv turns the mail around and sends it to every member of the list. When dealing with listservs, it is important to know that the mail address of the listserv for purposes of _*joining*_ the list as a member is invariably different than the address of the list for purposes of being part of the discussion. Usually you can get information on how to join a listserv group by sending a message to the joining listserv address with the word "help" in the subject line. For information on wine-related listservs, see the discussion on Internet Resources. _Gopher and the World Wide Web_ My how the 'net has grown. When I started this document, the Internet seemed a smaller world of private individuals using educational, corporate and military computers to connect to the world in a community minded way (I'm ignoring the true reasons that gave birth to the Internet, that's another book or twenty) Besides Usenet as a source of information, people would place informational pieces on their own computer systems which were also open to the Internet. The trick wasn't access but figuring out that they existed at all. While there were other systems that came before, one of the first really useful wide-spread methods of finding and retrieving material was by "gopher." Gopher software lets you visit a computer and view a listing (by text menu) of the documents which are being made publicly available. If you make a menu choice, the document is displayed for you. Still you had to guess what computer system had something you wanted. What if you got a computer to look at all the other computers and see what's there, keeping a list? Then you would have Veronica. The good news was that you could send a key word request using Veronica and get back a listing of files that might be useful. The bad news as that there were only five or eight or so computers in the world that would let you ask. Getting your request in got to be almost impossible. Just as things were getting pretty bleak, along came the World Wide Web. Still just a variation on the e-mail theme (you are really still sending a message to another computer which asks it to do something and sends back the information), the key here was that the software incorporated two major elements: graphics and hyper-text links. Now you could have something pretty to read and could skip around a document or from document to document around the world in an instant. Big Business got interested. Web Browsers became more and more sophisticated. Search engines (much like the Veronica idea, but enormously faster and ridiculously vast) came on line. While there are predictions that the system will again choke up, it hasn't happened yet. And just think, all this happened in about 18 months. Now, when surfing the web, I'm not sure whether what I read is truly informational or a blatant act of fiction promulgated overtly or covertly by commercial interests. For that matter, why believe anything *I* say? And even if not fictional, am I getting the *whole* story when the site I visit limits their "information" only to advertisers/supporters of the site? There seems no way to stop the rush to commercialization of the World Wide Web, but I can complain about it, can't I? More sites than not are commercial, others at least appear to be private. _Once again_, _*caveat emptor,*_ "Let the buyer beware." There is no way a FAQ came keep up with the proliferation of web sites that deal with wine. All we can do is point you to some useful Internet Resources, just below. _Internet Resources_ Internet Resources break down into two major divisions: search engines that sample the entire web and index it and sites that create lists (often from submissions). The beauty of the first is that you might find everything (if you phrase you question narrowly enough), the nice thing about the latter is that they may do the sifting for you in advance and you may get information that is not directly from a web site (listservs, for example). *Dean Tudor's Wines, Beers and Spirits of the Net [http://www.ryerson.ca/~journal/wine.html] . *_One of the best places to start looking for wine-related information without being inundated with every site on the web is Dean Tudor's list. It is posted monthly to Usenet groups dealing with alcholic beverages, as well as being available at http://www.ryerson.ca/~journal/wine.html. The list includes usenet groups, electronic mailing lists (listservs), gophers, FTP sites, WWW sites, IRC ("International Relay Chat") channels, Bulletin Board networks and systems, Commerical On-Line system forums and miscellaneous other information. With Mssr. Tudor's gracious permission, this FAQ provides a _Wine Bookmark Page _which is a sub-set of his list that is, more or less, limited to wine sites. You will, however, obtain the most current information by going directly to the original list. You can try the ubiquitous _yahoo.com [http://search.yahoo.com/bin/search?p=wine] _for more in the style of compiled lists. Or go the keyword route using a search engine. A good listing of engines can be found at the _All-In-One_ Page at http://www.albany.net/allinone/. The _All-In-One whichh lists just about all the web search engines that exist is located at http://www.albany.net/allinone/all1www.html#WWW. MISCELLANEOUS ELECTRONIC STUFF I haven't seen either of these products, but they're out there! _*Microsoft Wine Guide CD-ROM*_ by Oz Clarke, whom many say a lot of good things about.. Reviewd by John Dvorak on C|NET Central as a "buy it." _*Wines of the World CD-ROM*_ on wine browsing, making wine, wine appreciation. On-line videos of wine regions, wine making processes, etc. Windows and Macintosh. _MAGAZINES AND NEWSLETTERS_ _*Best Bottles Wineletter*_. Box 21011 Stratford, Ontario Canada N5A 7V4. Written and produced by William Munnelly, who purchases and tastes all the wines reviewed. About 30 to 40 pages double-sided. The focus of the publication is wines around or under $10--the idea being you don't have to pay a fortune for a good bottle of wine. Published every other month, by subscription only. Annual subscription fee is Canadian $40 (including GST). _*The California Grapevine*_. 6 issues/yr. Approximately 20 pages per issue, U.S. $30/year. P.O. Box 22152, San Diego, CA 92192, (619) 457-4818. Focus on California wines, particularly Cabernet and Chardonnay. Some coverage of classified Bordeaux. Book reviews by Bob Foster. Articles by Dan Berger. Wines are evaluated by a panel of 10 to 12 on a modified Davis Scale (20 point scale). Due to the large panel size, the wines that are recommended tend to have wide appeal. [Note: Dan Berger is the wine writer for the Los Angeles Times. This household tends to agree with his palate and writings a great deal of the time!] _*Connoisseur's Guide to California Wine*_. Monthly, no advertising. Approximately 16 pages per issue, $42/yr. P.O. Box V, Alameda, CA 94501, (510) 865-3150. Focus is strictly on California and U.S. wines. Each issue reviews two to three classes of wine, with 20-40 wines per class. Wines are evaluated by a panel of two on a 5-point scale (0-3 Puffs + Pour it down the drain). Reviewers are said to have "California palates", which means they like big, intense, chewy wines. [Opposing comments welcome!] _*Decanter*_. Glossy British wine trade publication recommended by some. U.S. $75 to $80 per year. Available at some large bookstores and magazine racks in the U.S. _*The Fine Wine Review*_. Approximately 16 pages per issue. U.S. $28.93 per year. 2449 Jackson St., San Francisco, CA 94115-1324, (415) 922-2755. International in scope, each issue tends to focus on one wine type, for instance, Northern Rhones. An individual reviewer, Claude Kolm, evaluates on a 100 point scale ("objective, no context scale"), and also A/B/C/D/F ("how good the wine is compared to other wines of the same type"). Some feel Mr. Kolm is more reliable than some of the other wine critics. _*La Revue du Vin de France*_. 9 issues per year. 70p+8p per issue, 430FF per year. 18-20 rue Guynemer, 92441 Issy les Moulineaux Cedex, France; telephone: 33 1 40 95 86 00; fax: 33 1 40 95 18 81. Mainly French wines. Two special issues per year, one devoted to the new vintage (usually in June), and the last of the year called "les 500" which featuring the 500 best wines tasted during the year. Each issue contains 8 pages of tasting notes called "le cahier de degustation." Also articles about a special regions, a chateaus. Wines are either given a note (out of 10) or evaluated using a 5 stars notation for hard to judge wine. _*New York Wine Cellar*_. Tanzer Business Communications, Inc. P.O. Box 392, Prince Station, New York, New York 10012. Interviews, ratings. Bi-monthly US $48; foreign air mail US $60. _*The Quarterly Review of Wines*_. 4 issues per year. Approximately 70 pages per issue. U.S. $13.95 per year. P.O. Box 591, Winchester, MA 01890-9988. Glossy magazine. Mostly articles, few reviews. Doesn't give ratings. _*Underground Wine Journal*_. Wine Journal Enterprises, 1654 Amberwood Drive, Suite A., South Pasadena, California 91030. (818) 441-6617. U.S. $48/year. International in scope, with good coverage of German and French wines, vertical and horizontal tastings of individual wine producers. Wines are evaluated by two or three reviewers on a modified Davis scale (20 point scale). Some say "very reliable reviews." _*The Vine*_. British newsletter by Clive Coats. _*The Wine Advocate*_. From Robert Parker, Jr., an "independent consumer's guide to fine wines" published 6 times a year. The 1993 Parker's Wine Buyer's Guide says that The Wine Advocate costs $35.00 for delivery in the continental United States, $45.00 in Canada and $65.00 by air-mail delivery anywhere in the world (I'm assuming all prices in $US). For subscriptions or a sample copy write to The Wine Advocate, P.O. Box 311, Monkton, MD 21120, or fax to 410-357-4504. Mr. Parker is said not to be afraid to take a stand on a controversial wine, but some don't agree with his conclusions (why should they, to each their own!). _*Wine Enthusiast Magazine*_. 6 issues per year. Approximately 52 pages per issue. U.S. $17.70 per year. 800-356-8466 to subscribe. Published by Wine Enthusiast Companies which consists mainly of a wine gadgets store and the magazine. Mostly articles and a few reviews. Web site [http://www.2way.com/food/wine] at http://www.2way.com/food/wine. _*The Wine News*_. 6 issues per year, approximately 40 pages per issue. U.S $18 per year. 353 Alcazar Avenue, Suite 101-B Coral Gables, Florida 33134. Includes review magazine "Inside Wine" Said to be similar to "The Wine Spectator" with large format and the same coverage. _*The Wine Spectator*_. A large, glossy format with lots of pictures. While considered by some "serious" (too serious?) types to be a lot of fluff ("the National Enquirer of wine"), it can be fun to read and is every bit as informative as a handbook at least to someone with little experience, and to the experienced as well. Lots of wine buying guides, reports from vertical tastings, and even restaurant recipes. Some have speculated about the cause and effect of advertising on ratings. 1994--Cover price: Canada $3.95; US $2.95; UK Pounds 2.50. Subscription Price US $40/year, $75/2 years. Call 1-800-752-7799 or send to P.O. Box 50463, Boulder, CO. 80321-0463. Web site [http://www.winespectator.com] at http://www.winespectator.com. _*Wine Tidings*_. 8 issues per year. Approximately 30 pages per issue. U.S. $35 per year. 5165 Sherbrooke St West, Montreal QC H4A 9Z9. Mostly articles. Some reviewers felt that it was a bit expensive for what you get. --