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Wine 101

Rosslyn Liquor Store in Edmonton, AB wants its customers to be well-educated on the different aspects of wine. Satisfy your curiosity by sending us any questions you may have.

Have a Question? Let Us Know!

Is Wine Fattening? 

The calories in a four-ounce glass of wine range from 80 to 100. Remember a glass of juice is always over 100. Lighter wines tend to have fewer calories than heavier ones.

Also, some wines are higher in carbohydrates than others because of their residual sugars. A dry Sauvignon Blanc may have 2 grams of carbohydrate while a sweeter dessert wine may have up to 12 grams. Next time we will explore other health benefits of wine, consumed in moderation!

Why Screw Tops Instead of Cork? 

Screw tops are quickly replacing natural cork in many wine bottles. Natural corks are irregular, so some produce great seals while others not so much. This results in different bottles of the same wine having different characteristics as they age. Natural corks are prone to becoming “corked”, a chemical reaction that imparts wines with TCA.

Screw tops, or stelvins as they are called in the industry, are uniform and provide the perfect seal for your wine; thus, avoiding the issues that could arise using cork. Stelvins are the way of the future, and many high-end wines are starting to use them.

Do I Have to Store My Wine in a Temperature-Controlled Cellar?

Sparkling wine is a kind of wine with significant levels of carbon dioxide, which makes it fizzy. This can be the result of natural fermentation or can be injected in. Sparkling wine is usually white or rose, but there can be reds such as Shiraz from Australia.

Different countries have different terms for sparkling wine. Cava in Spain, Spumante in Italy, Sekt in Germany, and the classic example is Champagne. This is exclusively produced in the Champagne region of France.

Winemaking practices of making sparkling wine are similar to still wine production, but the grapes are harvested early while they have high acid levels. Fermentation begins like with other wine, though they may choose to use specialty yeasts.

Bubbly wines usually undergo a second fermentation where care is taken to keep the carbon dioxide in the wine. There are different methods used to carry out the second fermentation. The “Champagne” or traditional method the second fermentation takes place in the bottle the wine will be sold in.

The Charmat method this takes place in stainless steel tanks. The injection method, similar to soda pop, does not involve a second fermentation but injects the gas directly into the wine. This produces large bubbles that dissipate quickly and is generally used in cheaper sparkling wines.

So there is a wide variety of sparkling, bubbly wines but Champagne can only come from France.

At What Temperatures Should You Serve Red and White Wines? 

It depends, if you want to keep just a mixed case of wines around the house for a short period of time, try to find a place that is dark with a fairly moderate and constant temperature. You might try the bottom of a closet for example.

If you have a more expensive fine wine, I would suggest you invest in a wine cooler (fridge). They are more readily available, space-efficient, and affordable than ever. They will store your wine at a constant temperature and are worth it.

At What Temperatures Should You Serve Red and White Wines? 

As a rule of thumb, whites are often served too cold and reds too warm. Not many of us bother measuring the temperature with a thermometer. Many whites, like serious white Burgundies, should be slightly chilled, yet some reds can taste better if chilled in the refrigerator for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Sparkling wines should always be served well-chilled. A good guideline is white still wines are best around 7 to 9 degrees Celsius and red wines around 17 to 19 Celsius.

Why Do I Get Headaches From Red Wine? 

Red wines contain sulphites, a naturally organic compound found in grapes and many other fruits and vegetables. But, sulphur dioxide is also added to wine as an antioxidant and antibacterial agent to protect the wine from going off.

The levels are extremely low, and some winemakers are trying to avoid adding extra, though this does run the risk of the wines spoiling more quickly. Some people have a higher sensitivity to sulphur in wine and other histamines, which can be particularly found in red wines. Also higher alcohol wines (and the amount drank) could be the source of this problem!!!

What’s the Difference Between the Different Tequilas in the Market? 

Tequila is made from the Agave plant. The sugar content of tequila can come from 51% to 100% from the Agave plant. Mixtos tequilas only get 51% of their sugar from Agave, and the remaining 49% can come from many different sources.

These can be bottled outside of Mexico and can only be labeled Tequila or Mixto Tequila. These are used mainly for cocktails. Pure Agave tequilas get 100% of their sugars from the Agave plant and are usually made with only mature plants to ensure the bounty of natural sugar is incorporated into the tequila.

These have to be bottled in Mexico. Generally, these are higher-quality tequilas. The best way to enjoy them is to sip them straight.

I’d Like to Know More About Pink Wines 

Not all pink wines are created equal. There are different styles made for a variety of people’s palates.

Blush: These are the familiar pink wines produced in North America, where in the early 1970s white wine demand exceeded availability. Producers made blush wines from red grapes by allowing minimal contact with the skins.

By accident at Sutter Home, the White Zinfandel experienced a “stuck fermentation”, a problem where the yeast dies off before the sugar is turned to alcohol creating a sweet pink wine.

Rosé: This is also known as Rosado in Portugal and Spanish-speaking countries. When Rosé is the primary product, it is produced in the skin contact method where the skins are allowed to remain in contact with the juice for a short time, usually 1 to 3 days.

The longer the skins are in contact with the juice, the more intense the color. These tend to be drier in style.

I Always Buy the Same Wine Because I’m Afraid to Venture Into Something New. There Are So Many Choices 

Alberta has the most choices for wine anywhere in the country, which can make picking wine very daunting. However, there are a lot of options in Alberta for trying products before you buy.

There are several industry trade (or tasting) shows. There is the Rocky Mountain Food and Wine Show, Co-op’s Grape Escape, and the California Wine Show, to name a few. These are events where several different agencies bring their products for public sampling.

We also have several local “wine clubs” where you can join and try different wines every month. The Rosslyn meets the 3rd Thursday of each month.

Still, probably the best way to introduce yourself to new wines is to get to know your local wine store. We can help you pick new products to try based on what you already like, or what you are going to be enjoying your wine with.

The important point is to let us know your thoughts on our recommendations, so we will be better able to advise you in the future. Let us help keep your wine education enjoyable and start off this beautiful friendship!

Learn more about the interesting world of wine. Visit our liquor store today or call us at 780-456-4872 to speak with our expert sommeliers.