Poor cook, looking to get into wine

Discussion in 'Pairing Food and Wine' started by atatax, Dec 10, 2015.

  1. galley swiller

    galley swiller

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    Besides the choices of wine, there's also the choices of glasses and decanters.

    Many on this web site have chosen Riedel (rhymes with "needle") as the "go-to" glassware.  However, Riedel is expensive (the least expensive I have seen is $7.50 per glass, in remaindered sets of four glasses), relatively fragile and breakage-prone (many Riedels are not dishwasher safe) and varietal-specific.

    Personally, I would recommend Spiegelau for someone starting out in wine drinking.  Much cheaper than Riedel, dishwasher-friendlier and with the appropriately thin rim.

    The rims are appropriately thin (I have measured the rim thickness on both Riedel's and Spiegelau's - both are very close to 1 mm thick).  And Spiegelau's have been specifically made to be dishwasher-certified.

    And just this month, I have been finding Spiegelau's being sold in TJX stores (TJ Maxx, Marshall's and HomeGoods) for prices running in the $3 to $4 per glass price range, in all sizes and types for non-decorated glasses.  Most of the Spiegelau stemware has been sold in two-glass cartons (white and red colors), though there have been 6-pack cartons and single glasses sold as well.  Check all areas to find what any individual store might have.

    I would suggest getting the following types/sizes:

    White wines:  12 oz to 14 oz "tulip" bowl.  This is a large enough glass to pour 6 oz into the part of the bowl below the widest part of the bowl, and then have room for swirling the wine around to allow for aroma release.  This is the basic glass.  It can also do double duty for general reds.

    For more full-bodied reds, a tulip-shaped bowl with about 18 oz total capacity, but with about 6 oz below the widest part of the bowl.

    For really full bodied reds, such as Pinot Noirs, Burgundies and Bordeaux's, a 24-oz or larger bowl would be appropriate.  Here, I would suggest going online and seeking out the Spiegelau Hybrid Bordeaux or Spiegelau Hybrid Burgundy glasses (I haven't seen them at any TJX stores).  These glasses are very close in shape to the Zalto Denk'Art stemware, but about 10% of the cost.  Riedel doesn't make anything comparable.  They are running about $6 per stem in 6-packs or 12-packs, though you will also have to factor in shipping.

    For champagne (and other sparkling wines), you probably will want flutes.  Look for flutes with a rounded bottom and sides that taper inwards when rising to the rim.  That way, you will get the maximum amound of sparkling wine volume with a minimum of surface area.  I've seen (and bought) the Spiegelau's I've come across at $2 to $3 per stem.  I've also comparatively measured them with Riedels and the IKEA "Ivrig" flutes.  All have 1 mm rim thickness, and have the appropriate shape to maximize volume and minimize surface area.

    Decanters are also part of the game.  You don't have to spend much on them.  What you want is to use them to aerate your wines, especially young reds.  Pouring the wine from the bottle to the decanter adds quite a bit of air to the wine, and having a broad base also aids in aeration/oxidation of a young red.  You should also look at how well the wine pours from the decanter.

    Decanter brands aren't at all critical.  Going to a thrift store will work fine.  Using a clear glass, broad bottomed, narrow neck vase will work fine.  What you should also look for is how well you can clean what you are using for a decanter.

    If you want something especially made for decanting, look at the shape of the Riedel Merlot.  It's simple, easily cleaned and specifically made so the contents of a 750 ml bottle will reach a specific point in the decanter.  I've been seeing (and buying) a Spiegelau water decanter that's been selling at TJX stores for $10.  Virtually identical in size and shape to the  Spiegelau "Casual" decanter (and extremely similar in shape to the Riedel Merlot decanter), but less than 1/3rd the cost of the Spiegelau Casual and 1/4th the cost of the Riedel Merlot.  I've also bought Riedel "Swirl" decanters for [email protected]  All that in the past month at TJX stores.

    Just a few notes: 1) on measuring, I use a machined dial gauge caliper, which measures to 1/1000th  of an inch (0.001"), with 1 mm being 0.039 inch.  2)  Spiegelau is a separate company from Riedel, but Spiegelau is owned by Nachtmann and Nachtmann is owned by Riedel (Riedel bought Nachtmass - and Spiegelau - in 2004).  Spiegelau has a separate management from Riedel.  Riedel distributes its own brand and Nachtmann in the USA through Riedel USA (wholely owned by Riedel), but Spiegelau is distributed in North America by Libbey, a rival.  Go figure.

    Galley Swiller
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2016
  2. atatax

    atatax

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    wish i read this before heading into town :)

    So my last paycheck was a bit bigger than i was expecting and wine.com didn't recommend ordering unless you did expensive overnight shipping because of the weather, so i went on a little splurge on my trip in town.

    I got a bottle of 2012 burklin-wolf dry riesling as my attempt to try to get into white wines as well. Sallier De La Tour Principe Di Comporeale Nero D'Avola 2011, to try a non blended Nero D'Avola. A Langhe Nebbiolo 2013, to try a Nebbiolo, a 2012 tenuta sant'antonio valpolicella superiore ripasso, and finally a 2014 Mark West Pinot Noir, it was on sale at the local super market for $10 flat, and because i've had 1 or two pinots i liked, i think its just that they are so variable that its a risk buying them, so i need to find a cheaper one i like, then once i do that i can look for better quality pinots in that specific region and probably like those a lot and fuck it, i think i used it in a stew once a couple years ago and it wasn't bad.
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2016
  3. virgil

    virgil

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    Atatax -

    I love your enthusiasm.  I think everyone who takes an interest in wine should take a lesson from you and jump in with both feet!  :)

    One of the features about wine.com is they are concerned about weather delays in terms of shipping.  Winter is not the best time of year (lol obviously) for wine to sit on truck getting cold, especially red wine.  I neglected to mention with a wine shipping service, you should make it a practice to be aware of the weather conditions between where you live and where the wine is being shipped from.  I had to learn that lesson the hard way. 

    As for your selections, great choices!  However, you should be aware of the vintages of some of your selections, such as the Nebbiolo, make a dramatic difference.  For instance, a 2013 Nebbiolo would be typically considered very "young."  In fact, many wine producers will not release their Nebbiolo within a minimum time of four years.  So, the 2013 Nebbiolo probably has not had enough time in the bottle to be a good example of the varietal.  The dilemma this causes is that Nebbiolo wines tend to be on the more pricey side of the Italian wines.  A good bottle of Borolo, for instance, could cost over $100/bottle or more depending on its vintage.  I suppose the same could be said for just about every wine varietal.  But, the average cost for a good to very good bottle of Borolo will be around $40 - $60 per bottle, again, depending on the vintage.  

    However, there is funny little thing about wine.  Price does not always reflect quality.  Some of the best wine I have ever had was under $25/bottle and some of the worst wine I have ever had was upwards of $100/bottle.  So, its not a strict "you get what you pay for" scenario.  But, like I said previously, if you know the specific years where a wine region had a better than good production, you can gain access some excellent wines from not-so-expensive wine makers operating in the region.  For instance, 2010 was a very good year in Piedmonte, Italy, even for the little guy wine makers who sell their wine for a fraction of what the more expensive wine makers sell their wine for.  Therefore, you can locate one of these smaller, less expensive wines and get a great bottle of wine very cheap.  I found a Borolo made by one of these small guy wine makers on wine.com for a 2010 vintage who was selling the wine for $14.99 per bottle!!  $14.99 for a Borolo is unheard of, especially for such a good year!  So, I bought two cases.  The wine is superb!  Obviously, these sorts of gems are not common.  But, it is an example of what you can find if you know what to look for.  Again, please forgive me for sounding like an advertisement for wine.com, but, that's where I found this hidden gem.  

    In terms of your white wine selection, Riesling is one of my favorite whites.  However, the general rule with white wines is the "younger, the better."  I try not to buy any white wine that is more than 3 or 4 years old.  White wine typically does not last long in the bottle for various reasons like some reds.  So, a 2012 Riesling is likely on the downside of its bottle life and probably not the best representation of the varietal.  A good way to illustrate what I am talking about would be to buy an inexpensive Riesling that is no more than 2 years old and compare it the 2012 Riesling.  The differences between the two should be noticeable right off. 

    The same general rule applies to Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc etc.  But, again, these are only general rules and by no means do they strictly not apply in every case. 

    Then, there is Pinot Noir.  Ahh....Pinot Noir....the spoiled little step child of the wine world.  Like a spoiled stepchild, when Pinot Noir is good, its very good.  When its bad, it is ohhhhh so bad.  Many wine makers consciously choose not to make Pinot Noir because the grapes are incredibly temperamental and notoriously difficult to work with.  However, when the gods, the planets and the stars align just right, there is no wine on this earth than can match the flavor of a good Pinot Noir.  However, the true beauty of Pinot Noir lives in the fact that it is so difficult to make.  The level of care and skill that goes into making a good Pinot Noir is one of the reasons I like it so much.  A good Pinot Noir is truly a work of art.

    Pinot Noir is one of the few reds that follows the same general 3-4 year rule that applies to white wines that I described above.  Pinot does not last long in the bottle either.  At most, maybe 6-8 years under ideal conditions.  As such, try to look for a Pinot Noir that is no more than three years old.  A great Pinot Noir for under $20 is Shug 2013 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir. Make sure its the Sonoma Coast and not Carneros.  If you can't find the 2013 Sonoma Coast vintage, 2014 is excellent as well and is also under $20. 

    You can find a chart on line with a simple google search that shows each wine region and the ratings for each production year. 

    If you have any questions, let me know.  I would be happy to answer them.  If you run into a wine that you particularly liked, let me know as well.  I'm always on the lookout for a good wine.  :)

    Cheers!

    -V
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2016
  4. chefross

    chefross

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    I have found that Spiegelau breaks the same as Reidel and the same as Libby's.

    At work they have Spiegelau Grand Pallette at $125.00 a glass. The servers are terrified of them...
     
  5. galley swiller

    galley swiller

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    My guess is that the breakage is where the bowl and stem are joined.  If you (carefully) feel where the stem and bowl meet, there probably will be a noticeable recession.  That is a location which can concentrate local force, including torque (twisting force).  

    If the glasses are breaking when hand-washed, then check to see if the glasses are being held by the stem.  If so, then washing and drying the bowls when holding by the stem can cause sufficient torque to start a microfracture, which then continues in a cascading sequence of continuous fracturing, resulting in glass breakage.

    The solution for hand-washing glasses is to hold the glass by the bowl (with the stem simply nestled next to the base of the joint between the middle and index fingers).  That way, there is no pressure on the stem and all pressure is through the bowl, which acts as a dome and can easily transfer force throughout the bowl.

    If you want to reduce risk further, you can consider the Spiegelau Adina or Adina Prestige lines.  The bowl and stem are a single piece of crystal.  These have been among the Spiegelau's being sold this month through TJX (at $3.99 per glass).

    Galley Swiller
     
  6. atatax

    atatax

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    ok, i've consumed all of the wine i bought, plus i drank a glass of Shug 2014 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir and a bottle of 2013 Tenuta Olim Bauda Barbera D'asti

    I feel like the sentiment that i've never had a bad Italian wine still holds true. The Barbera was probably my least favorite, but was still quite good, didn't struggle finishing it. The Ripasso and the Nebbiolo were my favorite. I'm working on my first glass of the Shug Pinot and i feel like i finally get why Pinots are good, its probably my favorite non italian wine.
     
  7. virgil

    virgil

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    Excellent!  I'm glad you liked the Shug Pinot.  Another great Pinot is the 2013 Hahn SLH (Santa Lucia Highlands).  Its a few dollars more than the Shug...about $25.  If you liked the Shug, you should definitely like the SLH.

    Cheers!
     
  8. andylewis

    andylewis

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    I prefer Cabs the most.
     
  9. atatax

    atatax

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    ok, i guess wine.com has a special 1 cent shipping promo ending tonight. Going to buy a bunch of wine i think. Going to get a couple Hahn SLH 2014. Thinking about getting 1 fairly cheap nebbiolo, one fairly decent Barolo (ideally less than $60) and then a couple cheap cabs and maybe a couple whites, but i have no idea where to start with whites. If anyone has any recommendations for cheap neb, solid Barolo, or cheap cabs, or just some whites or roses they're a fan of...