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Your Wine Questions answered
by the Irish Wine Gal


Q. I avoid ordering wine in fancy restaurants because I'm not sure what to do. What should I do when a waiter hands me a cork? When he pours a little in a glass what should I do and say?

A. When ordering in a restaurant find out what the other people like or what they are having. You may not be able to please them all, but you can hopefully find a middle ground on a wine selection.

When the server presents the bottle, make sure it is what you ordered.

When he opens it and gives you the cork, look at it. If it is moldy or smells really bad it may be an indication that the wine will not taste well or it was not properly stored.

The server should pour you a little bit to taste, then you give it a swirl and taste it.

If you like it let him know and have the bottle served to your guests.

If it does not taste good, have the server have the manager or bartender taste it. Perhaps the bottle is bad, or it is not what you thought it would be.

Q. I know to choose white wine with fish and red wine with beef, but there are so many other choices. Like what do you have with snacks? How do you decide?

A. Drink what you like!

A few weeks ago, we had red wine with fish! Your wine should work to accent the food, and not overpower it.

A Riesling will help tone down the spiciness on a curry or Asian dish, while a hearty red such as a Cabernet Sauvignon or a Meritage would hold up well with a steak.

An easy drinking red such as a Pinot Noir would work well with salmon.

Foods such as asparagus and tomatoes are hard to pair with wine because of the acidity.

Q. What is marc?

A. Marc is the residue (skin, seeds, pips, stems, etc.) left after the juice has been pressed from grapes. French eau-de-vie and Italian grappa are potent brandylike drinks that are distilled from this residue.

"The general French term both for grape Pomace and, more widely for Pomace Brandy. Pomace is the debris created from processing the grapes. Pomace Brandy is a spirit made by distilling grape Pomace." (Robinson, Jancis (ed) The Oxford Companion To Wine)

Q. What is Chardonay and with what is it best served?

A. Chardonnay (SHAR-doh-NAY) is a white wine that may be light or heavy and oaky. It is native to France, and it is what a white Burgundy is composed of.

As for pairing it with food, it goes with quite a lot of meals, but it depends on the style of the wine. In the summer enjoy it with a grilled chicken or a white fish or with a salad.

Q. What about Cabernet and with what is it best served?

A. Cabernet Sauvignon (CAB-er-NAY SO-vin-YON) is a red wine that is a more recent varietal. It is a dark grape that normally produces a medium to bold wine. You can pair it with meats and pastas.

Q. If a wine has been chilled and then served, but not finished, is it doomed to be thrown out or can it be re-corked?

And if it is re-corked, can it be re-chilled? Thank you.

A. It depends on the wine and how warm and for how long it stayed that way. You can always chill it again and try it. If it is not horrible you could use it in a sauce or enjoy it while cooking your next dinner.

Q. Do all wines age well or are some meant to be enjoyed sooner rather than later?

When buying wine, how old should I expect it to be and taste good? There seems to be a lot of wine in the stores that aren't very old at all.

A. Again it depends on the wine and the temperature conditions. HOWEVER, that is not a hard and fast rule.

Quick story-we had friends who brought a bottle of wine to a dinner party a few years ago. It was a 1957 table Rose from Italy. They had inherited it when they bought the house that they lived in for 20 years.

However, they moved to Florida (wine was on the moving truck) then they moved back to Cleveland (in the same year, again the wine was on the truck). We saved it for last thinking it would be horrible.

However, it had taken on the characteristics of a tawny port. It was quite delicious! Anyway, ideally you should store your wine in a cool dark area of the house (closet, basement, etc.).

Q. I have a very old bottle of Port. I never want to serve it in case it isn't good anymore - but I don't want to test it and waste it in case it is. How can I tell?

A. The good thing about port it is meant to be drunk aged. If you have kept it away from direct sunlight it should still be good. (If you tell me more about it we can check the vintage charts to see how it is still doing.)

Older port normally should be decanted. Depending on its age, you will get sediment. It is meant to be served in small glasses so you only have a little at a time.

Serve it with some stilton cheese and nuts as an after dinner beverage.

Q. What can I do with a bottle of wine that is opened, but not finished? Can I re-cap and save or is it ruined?

A. I recommend a product called "Private Reserve" and it may be found in better wine stores in the area.

It is a gas and you spray it in (follow directions on the can) and immediately put the cork back on. It should help your wine last for at least a week.

If you enjoy wine but don't always want to open a big bottle, a number of wineries are putting more of their wine in a half bottle (375ml size). They are a little bit more expensive, but worth it.

If you happen to find an open bottle of wine in the back of the refrigerator or in a cupboard, throw it out without opening it. To avoid having leftover wine-invite a friend or two over to enjoy it with you!

Q. Why is White Zinfandel pink and White Merlot red?

A.White Zinfandel is made from Zinfandel grapes, however, the skins are not left on, thus a lighter color.

In addition, a bit of Muscat or other white wine may be added, thus making the color lighter. White Merlot is made from Merlot grapes that have not had much time with their skins on after harvest.

Q. I like a sweet wine, but not syrupy. What moderately priced wine would you suggest?

A. A German Riesling-like a Spatlese or a Kabinett. A Viognier may be another alternative.

Q.How long does wine last - does it have to be stored with the cork down?

A. First, it depends on the wine. I do not suggest storing wines that are meant for everyday use.

When storing wine, lay it down on its side in a cool area, such as a basement, or a closet. You don't want it to be subject to frequent changes in temperature or extreme temperatures.

If the wine leaks or the cork looks like it is pushed up, it has probably gone bad.

Q. Some times even a small glass of wine will give me an intense headache, other times nothing. Is it the brand or the kind of wine or what actually makes the difference?

A. What is most likely bothering you is the histamines, which may be found primarily in red wines. Or, the sulfites may be bothering you.

The vast majority of wines contain sulfites because they help kill bacteria. When shopping, look for organically made wines.


Meet the Irish Wine Gal

The Irish Wine Gal has had over twelve years in the wine industry ranging from restaurant work to operations manger of a broker/importer.

The Irish Wine Gal


When she's not working in the wine industry she does volunteer work for Hospice of the Western Reserve and supports her parish, St. Philomena.

Her favorite grape is Pinot Noir, because it can be bubbly and sparkly or a medium body red!

The Irish Wine Gal welcomes your comments, thoughts and questions.

Have a question or comment about wine? E-mail us at question@ClevelandSeniors.Com





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