Wine Word of the Week: “Fining”!

This week’s Wine Word of the Week is “fining” and was suggested to us by our fabulous Facebook fan, Joan Axthelm – thanks for the suggestion, Joan!

Fining is a winemaking technique which removes microscopic particles and chemicals from a wine which can adversely affect its color, aroma and/or flavor. Fining agents such as bentonite, egg whites and gelatin are added to wine and act like a magnet, bonding with the undesirable components, which can include excessive tannins, microscopic particulate matter and/or other pesky chemicals. Once bonded, they precipitate out of solution and are removed, leaving the wine more chemically stable and less likely to spoil over time.

Fining is often used in the same sentence as “filtration,” as the two often go hand in hand. Whereas fining binds to particles or chemicals in order to remove them, filtration involves passing the wine through a physical filter, filtering out anything larger than the pores of the barrier. Filtration removes harmful compounds including yeast (i.e Brettanomyces) and/or bacteria (i.e. malolactic bacteria) through filtration mediums including cellulose fiber pads, diatomaceous earth, and perlite.

It is important to note that while there are many advantages of using these techniques, not the least of which is making a wine more suitable for the aging process, one of the disadvantages of fining and filtration is that they can strip a wine of desirable flavor and/or aroma compounds. For this reason, many winemakers who bottle their wines “unfiltered and unfined,” promote them as being superior to those that are. Unfortunately this factor alone does not guarantee a wine’s quality – what good is a wine with more nuanced aromas and flavors if it has been spoiled by the ravages of Brettanomyces? The fact is, there are quality wines in both categories so it’s best to let your palate be the final determiner of a wine’s quality.

Thanks again for your suggestion, Joan and if you’d like to suggest a word for our Wine Word of the Week segment please leave it in the comment section below or on The Glamorous Gourmet & Wine Atelier Facebook Fan Page which you can access by clicking here. If we use your word, your name will be entered into our monthly drawing to win one month of The Wine Atelier’s “Explorateur” Wine Club but remember, you have to play to win!


5 New Year’s Wine Resolutions for 2014!

With your New Year’s Eve hangover in the rear view mirror and the long, winding road of 2014 laid out before you, here are 5 wine-related resolutions to help you embrace and explore the world of wine in the New Year.

1.) Mix It Up: Because the world of wine is so vast and often confusing it’s easy to just stick with the same wine, day in and day out. To break out of your wine rut, why not vow to sample a different wine every week or learn more about a specific wine making region? Find a reputable retailer who can guide you towards selections you might like or subscribe to a publication and/or website where you can learn more about a variety of wine regions around the world. Here on the blog we plan on offering an array of wine coverage in the New Year and our Explorateur Wine Club is a wonderful way to explore a different wine region every month!

2.) Start a Wine Collection: If you’ve been drinking wine long enough to have a favorite wine region and/or producer it’s probably a good time to start collecting. Collecting wine does not mean you have to commission a custom built 15,000 bottle capacity cellar – far from it! All it takes to start a collection is a small wine fridge and a few age-worthy bottles to put in it (for some age-worthy wine recs, please click here). The wine fridge is an important piece of equipment for the beginning collector. Please don’t forgo this purchase and make the mistake of storing your wines in a spare closet or on the kitchen counter. The varying temperatures and humidity levels in any home (kitchens are the worst!) are the arch-enemies of wine so be sure to protect your investment with this useful piece of equipment. Also, wine lovers invariably have a way of outgrowing wine storage units so, if your budget allows, purchase a fridge with a little room to grow.

3.) Drink more white wines that are NOT Pinot Grigio: Much like Rodney Dangerfield, white wine often “gets no respect”. I conduct many tastings where people want to skip right over the white wine and go straight to the red. Sometimes it’s personal preference but, more often than not, I think people are under the impression that red wines are somehow superior to whites, which couldn’t be farther from the truth! People are also under the mistaken impression that all white wine tastes like the bland, mass-produced Pinot Grigios we often encounter which doesn’t help white wine’s reputation. It’s rewarding to see someone’s face light up after taking a sip of White Burgundy or Alsatian Gewürztraminer and marvel at their flavor and complexity. So whether it’s Gewürztraminer, Viognier, Arneis or Chenin Blanc embrace the world of white wine but, whatever you do, stay away from the Pinot Grigio! For a selection of delicious whites from The Wine Atelier, please click here.

4.) Drink more sparkling wines: Unfortunately sparkling wines are most often associated with special occasions and New Year’s Eve celebrations, leaving the majority of the year unbearably bubbly-free. While Champagne’s price may limit it to more of a special occasion selection, there are many sparkling wines from around the globe whose price point makes them a perfect candidate for an everyday wine. Wines like Prosecco, Cava and Crémant retail for under $20 (for some examples, please click here) making them perfect for enjoying on a Tuesday night after work or when a friend stops by to visit. As an added bonus, sparkling wines have less calories and alcohol than a glass of Chardonnay or Pinot Noir. Affordable, delicious and figure-friendly – what’s not to love about that?

5.) Wine-related Travel: Next time you’re booking a Spring or Summer getaway why not head to your favorite wine region? Nothing will give you an appreciation for what’s in your glass more than standing in the vineyard where the grapes are grown and talking to the people who make the wine. Whether you’ve collected for some time or are new to enjoying wine, traveling to different regions can be a lot of fun and facilitate your passion for the subject. Start with a region you’re interested in and plan from there. Don’t be afraid to reach out to the wineries directly, they’re usually very happy to hear from you. Of course here at The Glamorous Gourmet we’re always happy to assist you with wine and food related travel so please don’t hesitate to reach out. Here’s a link to some of our travel-related articles.

I hope these suggestions help you make it through 2014 with a renewed passion for all things vinous! If you have any other wine-related resolutions we’d love to hear about them, please tell us in the comment section below.


Three Perfect Gifts for the Wine Lover!

Still looking for the perfect holiday gift for your Mother, Father, Sister, Brother, Bestie and/or Hostess with the Mostess? Let’s face it, this time of year the list could go on and on but there is one gift that is guaranteed never to be returned, is truly one size fits all, and will always bring a smile to the face of your recipient. Yes, you guessed it – wine!

Whether the lucky recipient is just learning about wine, is a seasoned collector or you’re uncertain about their specific vinous preferences here are three gift suggestions from The Wine Atelier that are sure to please:

1.) The Gift of Bubbles: What beverage is the vinous equivalent of a celebration? Sparkling wine, of course! Whether it’s a Cremant from the Loire Valley, a sparkler from California or the real deal, a bottle of Champagne itself, sparkling wine is always well received. You don’t even have to know the vinous preferences of your recipient because at this time of year, a bottle of bubbly is always “a good thing”. In addition to being wonderfully festive, it also has mass appeal and pairs deliciously well with just about any party fare. Some favorites include the Charles Bove Brut Sparkling Wine, Loire Valley, France NV ($15), the Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs, North Coast, CA ($30), and for a real statement, how about a magnum of Taittinger Brut la Francaise, Champagne, France, NV ($129).

2.) The Explorateur Wine Club: is your lucky recipient looking to learn about and explore the vast and sometimes confusing world of wine? If so, let The Wine Atelier be their guide! With a gift subscription to The Wine Atelier’s Explorateur Wine Club they’ll get to virtually travel the globe each month when they’ll receive two bottles of wine from one of the world’s renowned wine regions. The wines are Sommelier Selected by yours truly and each shipment comes complete with detailed information on the producer, region, grape variety, as well as food and wine pairing suggestions for each wine. For more information on The Explorateur Wine Club ($45/month) please click here.

3.) Sommelier Selected Special Bottles, Duos and Trios: for the wine lover who has everything, the only thing they can always use more of is wine! Whether they’re crazy for Champagne (Holiday Champagne Duo $99) or have a passion for Pinot Noir (Passion for Pinot Noir Trio $175), our Sommelier Selected Gift Sets are sure to please! In addition to the wine, each selection includes detailed information on the producer, region, grape variety, recommended drinking window and food and wine pairing suggestions. Stylish gift wrap is also included so each selection is ready to present to the lucky recipient. For more information or to browse our Sommelier Selections, please click here!

I hope we’ve helped make your holiday shopping a little easier and remember we’re only a phone call or text away to answer any of your vinous holiday questions at 561.317.6663 ~ Happy Shopping!