Thursday, July 9, 2009

Wine Temperatures Made Easy

Since it's summer it's time to talk about wine temperatures. I have found (and read) that most times white wines are served too cold and red wines are served too warm. And I can tell you that it really makes a difference to the taste of the wine. But isn't a lot of trouble? How do I know what the right temperature is? What IS cellar temperature anyway? Why should I care? I just want to enjoy my wine.

If I told you that is a really easy thing to fix that does not require any special equipment beyond a fridge and countertop would you agree to try drinking your wines at the right temperature?

OK ... here are some tips on getting whites and reds to the right temperature.

White wines: If you are getting ready for a party you are probably chilling down your white wines in the fridge. So, here is what you do - about 1/2 hour before serving the wine take it out and set it on the countertop. Let it get a bit sweaty and it should be good to go. I would especially do this for Chardonnay or Viognier. For crisper wines such as Sauvignon Blanc I think you should drink them fairly cold. But try it both ways and see what YOU think.

Red wines: Pretty much the opposite of white wines, except I am willing to bet your reds are residing on the countertop (hopefully not too close to any heat sources such as a stove or oven!). About 1/2 hour before serving put the wine in the fridge and let it get a bit chilled. I know, I know, you are not supposed to chill reds. I am not talking about ice cold, just chilled a bit. You can also put the wine into an ice bucket (or any bucket for that matter) filled with ice and water.

If you find that you are often chilling down wines and want an even easier way to do it, consider getting a wine chiller sleeve. They are fairly inexpensive. I always have several in my freezer.

If you want a really fun video that talks about wine temperatures, check out this video from Gary Vaynerchuk. The discussion on wine temperatures is about half way through the video.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Out, Damn Spot, Out I Say!

One of the biggest problems with wine - red wine in particular - is that sometimes it ends up where it's not supposed to be. Your new (really expensive, of course!) white shirt or an upholstered dining room chair are prime targets for wine spills. Here are some ways I have been successful in wine stain removal:
  • Clothes: Wine removal when out and about. I discovered Tide to Go in a tasting room in Paso Robles, CA. I was wearing a light colored top and dribbled some wine down the front of it. The woman behind the tasting counter whipped out a Tide to Go pen and offered it to me. A few swipes later, no more spot! I now take them wherever I go, especially wine tasting.
  • Clothes & Linens: Wine removal at home. I use a one-two punch of Wine Away and OxyClean:
  1. Treat with Wine Away. I spray a good amount on the stain and let it sit for 3-5 minutes, per the directions on the bottle. You may need to repeat this.
  2. Treat with OxyClean. If there are still stains (likely the stain will have turned blue), you may need to treat the stain with OxyClean. I like to spray it first with OxyClean spray and then soak in a sink of cold water and OxyClean powder. How long you soak will depend on the stain. I have gotten stains out with as little as a one-hour soak and as long as a weekend soak (you will need to change the water a few times if you are soaking this long).
  • Upholstery: First, resist the urge to put water, club soda, etc. on the stain. Instead, spray the stain with a good amount of Spot Shot and blot with a clean white towel. I usually do this a few times. At this point, you will still see a stain. Go away and leave it alone. Check again in a few hours or the next day and the stain will be gone.
A word on fabrics: With the exception of upholstery, the treatments I describe above are best for washable fabrics. If you get wine on something that is dry clean-only, don't put anything on it and get it to a dry cleaner as soon as you can. I had someone spill an entire glass of red wine on a light blue jacket once and I stupidly put water all over it trying to get the stain out. The water made water rings and was actually worse than the wine stain. Needless to say, the jacket was ruined.

And ... don't forget ... it's always best to take action on a stain as quickly as you can and never put something in the dryer without first checking to see if the stain is gone as the heat may set the stain.

If you have some great tricks for wine removal please let me know!