Saturday, June 10, 2017

Wine Infographic: Burgundy Cheat Sheet

New in the wine cheat sheet series:  Burgundy!

See the full collection of wine cheat sheets here.


To see the Cheat Sheet in full size…
…in Internet Explorer, right click on it and select “open in new tab.”
…in Chrome, right click on it and select “open link in new tab.”
…in Firefox, right click on it and select “view image.”


You may also be interested in:
French Wine Cheat Sheet
Bordeaux Cheat Sheet
Champagne Cheat Sheet
Loire Valley Cheat Sheet
Botrytis (Noble Rot) Cheat Sheet
Wine Altitude Cheat Sheet

Friday, June 9, 2017

Wine Infographic: Wine 101 Cheat Sheet

Next in the wine cheat sheet series:  Wine 101.  Everything you need for a basic understanding of wine.



To see the Cheat Sheet in full size…
…in Internet Explorer, right click on it and select “open in new tab.”
…in Chrome, right click on it and select “open link in new tab.”
…in Firefox, right click on it and select “view image.”


You may also be interested in:
Acid 101
Tannin 101
U.S. Wine Cheat Sheet

Friday, May 26, 2017

Wine Infographic: New and Improved Chianti Cheat Sheet

I've been making cheat sheets for several years now, and some of my old ones just weren't up to par. Chianti is the latest to get a facelift.

See the full collection of wine cheat sheets here.



To see the Cheat Sheet in full size…
…in Internet Explorer, right click on it and select “open in new tab.”
…in Chrome, right click on it and select “open link in new tab.”
…in Firefox, right click on it and select “view image.”


You may also be interested in:
Italian Wine Cheat Sheet
Top 4 Things to Know About Super Tuscan Wines
Wine Altitude Cheat Sheet



Friday, May 12, 2017

Wine Infographic: Wine Storage/Aging Cheat Sheet

New in the wine cheat sheet series:  storing and aging wine.  Here's your quick reference for how to store wine, which wines age well, and when to drink most wines.



To see the Cheat Sheet in full size…
…in Internet Explorer, right click on it and select “open in new tab.”
…in Chrome, right click on it and select “open link in new tab.”
…in Firefox, right click on it and select “view image.”

Friday, April 28, 2017

Wine Infographic: Wine and Food Pairing Cheat Sheet

Next in the wine cheat sheet series:  wine and food pairing.



To see the Cheat Sheet in full size…
…in Internet Explorer, right click on it and select “open in new tab.”
…in Chrome, right click on it and select “open link in new tab.”
…in Firefox, right click on it and select “view image.”

Friday, April 14, 2017

Wine Infographic: Wine Serving Cheat Sheet

New in the wine cheat sheet series:  the Wine Serving Cheat Sheet.  This covers all the basics from which glasses are best, to what temperature to serve the wine, and how to get it there.  More importantly, it explains why.



To see the Cheat Sheet in full size…
…in Internet Explorer, right click on it and select “open in new tab.”
…in Chrome, right click on it and select “open link in new tab.”
…in Firefox, right click on it and select “view image.”  


Saturday, April 1, 2017

Wine Infographic: New and Improved Australian Wine Cheat Sheet

I'm redoing some of my older wine cheat sheets with a better look and more information. Here's the new and improved Australian Wine Cheat Sheet!



To see the Cheat Sheet in full size…
…in Internet Explorer, right click on it and select “open in new tab.”
…in Chrome, right click on it and select “open link in new tab.”
…in Firefox, right click on it and select “view image.”  

You may also be interested in:
Chilean Wine Cheat Sheet
Syrah/Shiraz Cheat Sheet
South African Wine Cheat Sheet
New Zealand Wine Cheat Sheet

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Wine Infographic: New and Improved U.S. Wine Cheat Sheet

I started making wine cheat sheets back in 2013. More than 4 years and nearly 30 cheat sheets later, I've gotten a lot better at it. Now I'm revamping some of the earliest ones with a prettier face and updated information. Here's the new and improved U.S. Wine Cheat Sheet!



To see the Cheat Sheet in full size…
…in Internet Explorer, right click on it and select “open in new tab.”
…in Chrome, right click on it and select “open link in new tab.”
…in Firefox, right click on it and select “view image.”  


You may also be interested in:
California Wine Cheat Sheet
Washington-Oregon Wine Cheat Sheet
Texas Wine Cheat Sheet

Sunday, February 12, 2017

To Blend or Not to Blend

I’ve heard passionate wine drinkers extoll the virtues of blending grapes, as if a blend is always a better wine. Likewise, I’ve heard wine fans lament when winemakers won’t just stick to one grape. Let’s explore why some wines are blended and some not, and whether one is better than the other. I learned by experience when visiting Sonoma, California that blending wine well is HARD.

Why blend?
  • Taste:  Grape varieties are often blended to balance out the characteristics of a wine. For instance, a grape with low tannin might be blended with a high-tannin grape to create something more well-rounded.
  • Vineyard Insurance:  Blending can provide insurance in the vineyard. Different grapes are more or less susceptible to weather or pest problems. If you plant more than one grape and something goes wrong with one of them, you might avoid losing your whole harvest. Your blend may taste different from one year to the next with a different ratio of grapes, but at least you’ll have a product.
  • Business/commercial reasons:  Maybe you don’t grow enough of one grape variety to produce it as a varietal wine. You might blend it with a second (or third) grape, to have a larger production of a blended wine instead of a smaller production of two varietal wines.
Bordeaux makes the most famous blended wines in the world, but lots of wines can be blended without having to mention it on the label. The rules in most wine regions allow a producer to list a single grape on the label, even if they've added 10% or 15% of another grape into the blend.

Blended wines are made in two ways. The most common way is to ferment each grape into wine separately, and then blend the wines together. Another way is to create a "field blend," which means that the different varieties of grapes are planted mixed together in the vineyard. In this case, the grapes are all harvested together and made into wine in whatever proportion they were growing in the field.

I tried my hand at blending wine when I visited the Clos du Bois winery in Sonoma, California. Clos du Bois makes a "meritage" wine, a fancy marketing name for a Bordeaux-style blend, called Marlstone. If you visit the tasting room, you can reserve a spot in their "Marlstone Experience," where you can use the same varietal wines that Clos du Bois uses to try to imitate their Marlstone blend or create your own. Just as in Bordeaux, you choose from base wines of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot.

Left to right:  Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc, "Your blend," and Marlstone



First, I tasted all the wines and blended equal parts of my favorites. It tasted terrible. Then I tried a more typical Bordeaux-style blend: mostly Cabernet Sauvignon with a little Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Better. In the end, the best results came from letting one grape take center stage with small amounts of others playing supporting roles. After at least an hour of trying, I still hadn't created anything I really liked. Blending is hard, but this counts as one of my favorite wine experiences ever.

  

A blended wine is not necessarily good or bad. It's the result of trying to create a better wine, ensure a stable harvest, or navigate a competitive marketplace. If you're still skeptical of blended wines, just remember: 9000 years ago, Neolithic people were making alcoholic beverages out of grains, fruit, and honey mixed together, basically combining beer, wine, and mead. It makes blending together a few different grapes sound like much less of a big deal.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Wine Infographic: Merlot Cheat Sheet

Next in the wine cheat sheet series:  Merlot!

The full collection of wine cheat sheets is here.




To see the Cheat Sheet in full size…
…in Internet Explorer, right click on it and select “open in new tab.”
…in Chrome, right click on it and select “open link in new tab.”
…in Firefox, right click on it and select “view image.”  


You may also be interested in:
French Wine Cheat Sheet
Bordeaux Wine Cheat Sheet
California Wine Cheat Sheet
Washington and Oregon Wine Cheat Sheet
Chilean Wine Cheat Sheet
The Big 6 and Where They're Hiding

Monday, January 2, 2017

Bordeaux Trip - Free Info Session and Wine Tasting

Regular readers know that I'm acting as the wine educator on a river cruise through Bordeaux in October 2017.

If you're interested in learning more about the trip, join us at a free info session and wine tasting in February in Houston.

Check out the Facebook event here.

For location details or questions, RSVP to:  ClearLakeWineTasting@gmail.com

More information about the trip here.