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     What Constitutes a Great Wine?    
    excerpetd from Parker's Wine Buyer's Guide 6th Edition: The Complete, Easy-to-Use Reference on Recent Vintages, Prices, and Ratings for More Than 8,000 Wines from All the Major Wine Regions 
    Copyright © 1995, 1999, 2002 by Robert M. Parker, Jr.

    What Constitutes a Great Wine?

    What is a great wine? One of the most controversial subjects of the vinous world, isn't greatness in wine, much like a profound expression of art or music, something very personal and subjective? Much as I agree that the appreciation and enjoyment of art, music, or wine is indeed personal, high quality in wine, as in art and music, does tend to be subject to widespread agreement. Except for the occasional contrarian, greatness in art, music, or wine, if difficult to define precisely, enjoys a broad consensus.

    Many of the most legendary wines of this century -- 1945 Mouton-Rothschild, 1945 Haut-Brion, 1947 Cheval Blanc, 1947 Pétrus, 1961 Latour, 1982 Mouton-Rothschild, 1982 Le Pin, 1982 Léoville-Las Cases, 1989 Haut-Brion, 1990 Château Margaux, and 1990 Pétrus, to name some of the most renowned red Bordeaux -- are profound and riveting wines, even though an occasional discordant view about them may surface. Tasting is indeed subjective, but like most of the finest things in life, though there is considerable agreement as to what represents high quality, no one should feel forced to feign fondness for a work of Picasso or Beethoven, much less a bottle of 1961 Latour.

    One issue about the world's finest wines that is subject to little controversy relates to how such wines originate. Frankly, there are no secrets to the origin and production of the world's finest wines. Great wines emanate from well-placed vineyards with microclimates favorable to the specific types of grapes grown. Profound wines, whether from France, Italy, Spain, California, or Australia, are also the product of conservative viticultural practices that emphasize low yields and physiologically rather than analytically ripe fruit. After 19 years spent tasting over 200,000 wines, I have never tasted a superb wine made from underripe fruit. Does anyone enjoy the flavors present when biting into an underripe orange, peach, apricot, or cherry? Low yields and ripe fruit are essential for the production of extraordinary wines, yet it is amazing how many wineries never seem to understand this fundamental principle.

    In addition to the commonsense approach of harvesting mature (ripe) fruit, and discouraging, in a viticultural sense, the vine from overproducing, the philosophy employed by a winery in making wine is of paramount importance. Exceptional wines (whether red, white, or sparkling) emerge from a similar philosophy, which includes the following: 1) permit the vineyard's terroir (soil, microclimate, distinctiveness) to express itself; 2) allow the purity and characteristics of the grape varietal or blend of varietals to be represented faithfully in the wine; 3) follow an uncompromising, noninterventionalistic winemaking philosophy that eschews the food-processing, industrial mind-set of high-tech winemaking -- in short, give the wine a chance to make itself naturally without the human element attempting to sculpture or alter the wine's intrinsic character, so that what is placed in the bottle represents as natural an expression of the vineyard, varietal, and vintage as is possible. In keeping with this overall philosophy, wine-makers who attempt to reduce traumatic clarification procedures such as fining and filtration, while also lowering sulfur levels (which can dry out a wine's fruit, bleach color from a wine, and exacerbate the tannin's sharpness) produce wines with far more aromatics and flavors, as well as more enthralling textures. These are wines that offer consumers their most compelling and rewarding drinking experiences.

    Assuming there is a relatively broad consensus as to how the world's finest wines originate, what follows is my working definition of an exceptional wine. In short, what are the characteristics of a great wine?

    The Ability to Please Both the Palate and the Intellect

    Great wines offer satisfaction on a hedonistic level and also challenge and satiate the intellect. The world offers many delicious wines that appeal to the senses but are not complex. The ability to satisfy the intellect is a more subjective issue. Wines that experts call "complex" are those that offer multiple dimensions in both their aromatic and flavor profiles, and have more going for them than simply ripe fruit and a satisfying, pleasurable, yet one-dimensional quality.

    CLASSIC EXAMPLES

    1990 Dom Perignon Champagne

    1994 Philip Togni Cabernet Sauvignon Napa

    1999 Guigal Côte Rôtie La Mouline

    1995 Müller-Catoir Mussbacher Eselhart Rieslaner

    1999 Turley Cellars Zinfandel Hayne Vineyard

    2001 Clarendon Hills Old Vine Grenache Blewitt Vineyard

    The Ability to Hold the Taster's Interest

    I have often remarked that the greatest wines I've ever tasted could easily be recognized by bouquet alone. These profound wines could never be called monochromatic or simple. They hold the taster's interest, not only providing the initial tantalizing tease but possessing a magnetic attraction in their aromatic intensity and nuanced layers of flavors.

    CLASSIC EXAMPLES

    1999 Chapoutier Hermitage Pavillon

    1998 l'Evangile (Pomerol)

    1995 Soldera Brunello di Montalcino

    1999 Peter Michael Chardonnay Point Rouge

    1997 Baumard Savennières Cuvée Spéciale

    1997 Bryant Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Napa

    The Ability to Offer Intense Aromas and Flavors Without Heaviness

    An analogy can be made to eating in the finest restaurants. Extraordinary cooking is characterized by purity, intensity, balance, texture, and compelling aromas and flavors. What separates exceptional cuisine from merely good cooking, and great wines from good wines, is their ability to deliver extraordinary intensity of flavor without heaviness. It has been easy in the New World (especially in Australia and California) to produce wines that are oversized, bold, big, rich, but heavy. Europe's finest wineries, with many centuries more experience, have mastered the ability to obtain intense flavors without heaviness. However, New World viticultural areas (particularly in California) are quickly catching up, as evidenced by the succession of remarkable wines produced in Napa, Sonoma, and elsewhere in the Golden State during the 1990s. Many of California's greatest wines of the 1990s have sacrificed none of their power and richness, but no longer possess the rustic tannin and oafish feel on the palate that characterized so many of their predecessors of 10 and 20 years ago.

    CLASSIC EXAMPLES

    1995 Coche-Dury Corton Charlemagne

    1997 Claude Dugat Griottes-Chambertin

    1990 Bruno Giacosa Barbaresco Santo Stefano

    2001 Yves Cuilleron Condrieu Vieilles Vignes

    1995 Leflaive Chevalier-Montrachet

    2000 Paul Cotat Sancerre Les Monts Damnes

    The Ability of a Wine to Taste Better with Each Sip

    Most of the finest wines I have ever drunk were better with the last sip than the first, revealing more nuances and more complex aromas and flavors as the wine unfolded in the glass. Do readers ever wonder why the most interesting and satisfying glass of wine is often the last one in the bottle?

    CLASSIC EXAMPLES

    1996 Marcassin Chardonnay Marcassin Vineyard

    1996 Mouton-Rothschild (Pauillac)

    1994 Fonseca Vintage Port

    1996 Léoville-Las Cases (St.-Julien)

    1994 Taylor Vintage Port

    1999 Montiano Umbria

    1998 l'Eglise-Clinet (Pomerol)

    1994 Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon Napa

    The Ability of a Wine to Improve with Age

    This is, for better or worse, an indisputable characteristic of great wines. One of the unhealthy legacies of the European wine writers (who dominated wine writing until the last decade) is the belief that in order for a wine to be exceptional when mature, it had to be nasty when young. My experience has revealed just the opposite -- wines that are acidic, astringent, and generally fruitless and charmless when young become even nastier and less drinkable when old. That being said, it is true that new vintages of top wines are often unformed and in need of 10-12 years of cellaring (in the case of top California Cabernets, Bordeaux, and Rhône wines), but those wines should always possess a certain accessibility so that even inexperienced wine tasters can tell the wine is -- at the minimum -- made from very ripe fruit. If a wine does not exhibit ripeness and richness of fruit when young, it will not develop nuances with aging. Great wines unquestionably improve with age. I define "improvement" as the ability of a wine to become significantly more enjoyable and interesting in the bottle, offering more pleasure old than when it was young. Many wineries (especially in the New World) produce wines they claim "will age," but this is nothing more than a public relations ploy. What they should really say is that they "will survive." They can endure 10-20 years of bottle age, but they were more enjoyable in their exuberant youthfulness.

    CLASSIC EXAMPLES

    1982 Latour (Pauillac)

    1971 G. Conterno Barolo Monfortino

    1989 Haut-Brion (Graves)

    1998 Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape

    1985 Sassicaia (Tuscany)

    1990 Climens (Barsac/Sauternes)

    1994 Laville-Haut-Brion (Graves)

    The Ability of a Wine to Offer a Singular Personality

    Their singular personalities set the greatest wines produced apart from all others. It is the same with the greatest vintages. The abused usage of a description such as "classic vintage" has become nothing more than a reference to what a viticultural region does in a typical (normal) year. Exceptional wines from exceptional vintages stand far above the norm, and they can always be defined by their singular qualities -- both aromatically and in their flavors and textures. The opulent, sumptuous qualities of the 1982 and 1990 red Bordeaux; the rugged tannin and immense ageability of the 1986 red Bordeaux; the seamless, perfectly balanced 1994 Napa and Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignons and proprietary blends; and the plush, sweet fruit, high alcohol, and glycerin of the 1990 Barolos and Barbarescos are all examples of vintage individuality.

    Bodum Set of 2 So Long Stemless Red Wine Glasses
    Bodum Set of 2 So Long Stemless Red Wine Glasses A new style of glass for enjoying your favorite red wine. From Bodum, this wine glass is entitled "So Long". From now on, it's "good-bye" to the formal stem and "hello" to a new style of glass for casually sipping your red wine. The set includes two glasses, each one with an 17-oz. capacity. Dishwasher-safe.

    Bodum Set of 2 So Long Stemless White Wine Glasses
    Bodum Set of 2 So Long Stemless White Wine Glasses w from Bodum, it's the wine glass entitled "So Long". From now on, it's "good-bye" to the formal stem and "hello" to a new style of glass for casually sipping your white wine. The set includes two glasses, each one with an 8-oz. capacity. Dishwasher-safe.

    Screwless  Cork Pops Wine Opener
    Screwless Cork Pops Wine Opener Opening a bottle of wine can sometimes be a chore what with all the screwing and tugging involved just to remove the cork. From here on out, opening your wine will be simple when you use this Cork Pops Wine Opener. It's so easy and quick: just insert the needle all the way into the cork and depress the button on top. In less than a second, the cork will pop out and along with it, the outer foil covering. The pressurized cartridge will open anywhere from 80 -100 bottles of wine. When the pressure is gone, carefully remove the needle and place it on another cartridge. A protective needle cover is included.

    Eva Solo 6-bottle Wine Rack, Black and Stainless Steel
    Eva Solo 6-bottle Wine Rack, Black and Stainless Steel This Wine Rack can hold up to six wine bottles and is adjustable. It is comprised of 7 plastic components and 24 metal wires for the mounting of a strong and stable wine rack, which can easily be enlarged or shrunken in size. Multiple kits of this wine rack can also be combined to form tall, horizontal, or cubic wine racks according to your imagination. An excellent way to display your finest wines in front of company or just a fun way to store the bottles at home.

    Bormioli 55-oz. Nadia Riserva Wine Decanter
    Bormioli 55-oz. Nadia Riserva Wine Decanter This beautiful, classic Wine Decanter is designed to complement the Riserva stemware collection. 55-oz. Hand-washing recommended. Imported from Italy.

    Riedel 34.5-oz. Merlot Wine Decanter
    Riedel 34.5-oz. Merlot Wine Decanter Experts agree, decanting wine is the best way to ensure clarity in old wines and give young wines a chance to bloom. Made especially for Merlots, this decanter from Riedel combines functionality with form. Measures 9.5-in. tall and holds up to 34.5-oz. Made in Germany.

    Picnic at Ascot Barware Collection Connoisseur Wine Set, Mahogany
    Picnic at Ascot Barware Collection Connoisseur Wine Set, Mahogany It comes in a sleek mahogany case and has all the essential tools that a wine-lover needs. It includes an ergonomically designed corkscrew that will allow you to remove corks like a professional. Additional accessories include a foil cutter, two bottle stoppers, wine pourer, replacement worm, wine thermometer and drip ring. Picnic at Ascot has facilitated easy and stylish transport of delicious food to both casual and special occasions after bringing the tradition of an elegant English country picnic to the United States in 1992. Award-winning designs and expert craftsmanship seplus lifetime warrantee.

    Metrokane Metrokane Retro Ice Crusher White, White
    Metrokane Metrokane Retro Ice Crusher White, White Metrokane brings back the original 50's ice crusher. This blast from the past crushes up to a quart of ice in 2 minutes and is ideal for frozen margaritas and daiquiris and to serve food on a bed of ice.

    Kuhn Rikon 7-in. Swiss Corkscrew with Foil Cutter, White
    Kuhn Rikon 7-in. Swiss Corkscrew with Foil Cutter, White This ingenious tool combines the ease of a table corkscrew with the convenience of a foil cutter that stows away directly in the turn handle. The nonstick-coated worm glides effortlessly into (and out of) corks, and works with all bottle necks. Lifetime warranty.

     

     

    CLASSIC EXAMPLES

    1990 Tertre-Rôteboeuf (St.-Emilion)

    1990 Sandrone Barolo Boschis

    1989 Clinet (Pomerol)

    1991 Dominus Proprietary Red Wine Napa

    1994 Colgin Cabernet Sauvignon Napa

    1992 Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon Private Reserve Napa

    1982 Mouton-Rothschild (Pauillac)

    1986 Château Margaux (Margaux)

    1996 Lafite-Rothschild (Pauillac)

    MAKING SENSE OF TERROIR

    "Knowing in part may make a fine tale, but wisdom comes from seeing the whole." -- An Asian proverb

    And so it is with the concept of "terroir," that hazy, intellectually appealing notion that a plot of soil plays the determining factor in a wine's character. The French are the world's most obsessed people regarding the issue of terroir. And why not? Many of that country's most renowned vineyards are part of an elaborate hierarchy of quality based on their soil and exposition. And the French would have everyone believe that no one on planet Earth can equal the quality of their Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet, Syrah, etc., because their privileged terroir is unequaled. One of France's most celebrated wine regions, Burgundy, is often cited as the best place to search for the fullest expression of terroir. Proponents of terroir (the terroirists) argue that a particular piece of ground and its contribution to what is grown there give its product a character distinctive and apart from that same product grown on different soils and slopes. Burgundy, with its classifications of grand cru and premier cru vineyards, village vineyards, and generic viticultural areas, is the terroirists' "raison d'être."

    Lamentably, terroir has become such a politically correct buzzword that in some circles it is an egregious error not to utter some profound comments about finding "a sense of somewhereness" when tasting a Vosne-Romanée Les Malconsorts or a Latricières-Chambertin. Leading terroirists such as wine producer Lalou Bize-Leroy, Burgundy wine broker Becky Wasserman, and author Matt Kramer make a persuasive and often eloquent case about the necessity of finding, as Kramer puts it, "the true voice of the land" in order for a wine to be legitimized.

    Yet like so many things about wine, especially tasting it, there is no scientific basis for anything Bize, Wasserman, or Kramer propose. What they argue is what most Burgundians and owners of France's finest vineyards give lip service to -- that for a wine to be authentic and noble it must speak of its terroir.

    On the other side of this issue are the "realists," or should I call them modernists. They suggest that terroir is merely one of many factors that influence the style of a wine. The realists argue that a multitude of factors determine a wine's style, quality, and character. Soil, exposition, and microclimate (terroir) most certainly impart an influence, but so do the following:

    1. Rootstock -- Is it designed to produce prolific or small crop levels?

    2. Yeasts -- Does the wine-maker use the vineyard's wild yeasts or are commercial yeasts employed? Every yeast, wild or commercial, will give a wine a different set of aromatics, flavor, and texture.

    3. Yields and vine age -- High yields from perennial overcroppers result in diluted wine. Low yields, usually less than two tons per acre or 35-40 hectoliters per hectare, result in wines with much more concentration and personality. Additionally, young vines have a tendency to overproduce, whereas old vines produce small berries and less wine. Crop thinning is often employed with younger vineyards to increase the level of concentration.

    4. Harvest philosophy -- Is the fruit picked underripe to preserve more acidity, or fully ripe to emphasize the lushness and opulence of a given varietal?

    5. Vinification techniques and equipment -- There are an amazing number of techniques that can change the wine's aromas and flavors. Moreover, equipment choice (different presses, destemmers, etc.) can have a profound influence on the final wine.

    6. élevage (or the wine's upbringing) -- Is the wine brought up in oak barrels, concrete vats, stainless steel, or large oak vats (which the French call foudres)? What is the percentage of new oak? What is the type of oak (French, Russian, American, etc.)? All of these elements exert a strong influence on the wine's character. Additionally, transferring wine (racking) from one container to another has an immense impact on a wine's bouquet and flavor. Is the wine allowed to remain in long contact with its lees (believed to give the wine more aromatic complexity and fullness)? Or is it racked frequently for fear of picking up an undesirable lees smell?

    7. Fining and filtration -- Even the most concentrated and profound wines that terroirists consider quintessential examples of the soil can be eviscerated and stripped of their personality and richness by excessive fining and filtering. Does the wine-maker treat the wine with kid gloves, or is the wine-maker a manufacturer/processor bent on sculpturing the wine?

    8. Bottling date -- Does the wine-maker bottle early to preserve as much fruit as possible, or does he bottle later to give the wine a more mellow, aged character? Undoubtedly, the philosophy of when to bottle can radically alter the character of a wine.

    9. Cellar temperature and sanitary conditions -- Some wine cellars are cold and others are warm. Different wines emerge from cold cellars (development is slower and the wines are less prone to oxidation) than from warm cellars (the maturation of aromas and flavors is more rapid and the wines are quicker to oxidize). Additionally, are the wine cellars clean or dirty?

    These are just a handful of factors that can have extraordinary impact on the style, quality, and personality of a wine. As the modernists claim, the choices that man himself makes, even when they are unquestionably in pursuit of the highest quality, can contribute far more to a wine's character than the vineyard's terroir.

    If one listens to Robert Kacher, a realist, or to Matt Kramer, a terroirist, it is easy to conclude that they inhabit different worlds. But the irony is that in most cases, they tend to agree as to the producers making the finest wines.

    If you are wondering where I stand on terroir, I do believe it is an important component in the production of fine wine. If one is going to argue terroir, the wine has to be made from exceptionally low yields, fermented with only the wild yeasts that inhabit the vineyard, brought up in a neutral medium such as old barrels, cement tanks, or stainless steel, given minimal cellar treatment, and bottled with little or no fining or filtration. However, I would argue that the most persuasive examples of terroir arise not from Burgundy but, rather, from Alsace or Austria.

    If I were to take up the cause of the terroirists, I would use one of Alsace's greatest domaines, that of Leonard and Olivier Humbrecht, to make a modest case for terroir. The Humbrechts do everything to emphasize the differences in their vineyard holdings. Yet, why is it so easy to identify the wines of Zind-Humbrecht in a blind tasting? Certainly their Hengst-Riesling tastes different from their Riesling from Clos St.-Urbain. The question is, is one tasting the terroir or the wine-maker's signature? Zind-Humbrecht's wines, when matched against other Alsatian wines, are more powerful, rich, and intense. Zind-Humbrecht's yields are lower and they do not filter the wine at bottling. These wines possess not only an identifiable wine-maker's signature but also a distinctive vineyard character.

    Terroir, as used by many of its proponents, is often a convenient excuse for upholding the status quo. If one accepts that terroir is everything, and is essential to legitimize a wine, how should consumers evaluate the wines from Burgundy's most famous grand cru vineyard, Chambertin? This 32-acre vineyard boasts 23 different proprietors. But only a handful of them appear committed to producing an extraordinary wine. Everyone agrees this is a hallowed piece of ground, but I can think of only a few -- Domaine Leroy, Domaine Ponsot,

    Domaine Rousseau, and Trapet -- producing wines that merit the stratospheric reputation of this vineyard. Yet the Chambertins of these producers are completely different in style. The Trapet wine is the most elegant, supple, and round, Leroy's is the most tannic, backward, concentrated, and meaty, and Rousseau's is the darkest-colored, most dominated by new oak, and most modern in style, taste, and texture. Among the other 18 or 20 producers (and I am not even thinking about the various négociant offerings), what Burgundy wine enthusiasts are likely to encounter on retailers' shelves ranges from mediocre to appallingly thin and insipid. What wine, may I ask, speaks for the soil of Chambertin? Is it the wine of Leroy, the wine of Trapet, or the wine of Rousseau? Arguments such as this can be made with virtually any significant Bordeaux or Burgundy vineyard. Which has that notion of "somewhereness" that is raised by the terroirists to validate the quality of a vineyard?

    Are terroirists kindergarten intellectuals who should be doing more tasting and less talking? Of course not. But they can be accused of naively swallowing the tallest tale in Burgundy. On the other hand, the realists should recognize that no matter how intense and concentrated a wine can be from a modest vineyard in Givry, it will never have the sheer complexity and class of a Vosne-Romanée grand cru from a conscientious producer.

    In conclusion, think of terroir as you do salt, pepper, and garlic. In many dishes they can represent an invaluable component, imparting wonderful aromas and flavors, yet alone, they do not make the dish. Moreover, all the hyperventilation over terroir obscures the most important issue of all -- identifying and discovering those producers who make wines worth drinking and savoring!

     

    THE WINE WORLD'S BIGGEST LIES

    15. The reason the price is so high is because the wine is rare and great.

    14. You probably had a "corked" bottle.

    13. It is going through a dumb period.

    12. We ship and store all our wines in temperature-controlled containers.

    11. You didn't let it breathe long enough.

    10. You let it breathe too long.

    9. Sediment is a sign of a badly made wine.

    8. Boy, are you lucky -- this is my last bottle (case).

    7. Just give it a few years.

    6. We picked before the rains.

    5. The rain was highly localized; we were lucky it missed our vineyard.

    4. There's a lot more to the wine business than just moving boxes.

    3. Parker (or The Wine Spectator) is going to give it a 94 in the next issue.

    2. This is the greatest wine we have ever made and, coincidentally, it is the only wine we now have to sell.

    1. It's supposed to smell and taste like that.

    A TONGUE-IN-CHEEK GUIDE TO UNDERSTANDING THE LANGUAGE OF THE WINE-MAKER

    What They Say in the Vineyard/Winery

    What They Really Mean in Plain English

    1. This is a classic vintage for cellaring!

    The wine is excessively tannic, and it will undoubtedly lose most of its fruit long before the tannin melts away.

    2. This is a supple, fruity wine that is very commercial.

    This is a thin, diluted, watery wine made from a vineyard that was atrociously overcropped. It should have a shelf life of 1-4 years.

    3. One can sense the nobility of terroir in the aromas and taste of this wine.

    The weather during the growing season and harvest was so cold and wet that the grapes never matured, some even rotted, and the wine tastes only of acidity, tannin, wood, alcohol, and copious quantities of damp earth -- terroir triumphs again.

    4. We were fortunate enough to harvest before the rain.

    We harvested before the last deluge (and we forgot to inform you that prior to the last inundation it had rained heavily for the previous 5-10 days).

    5. This is a classic vintage in the style of the great traditional years of the region.

    Once again we did not have enough sunshine and heat to ripen the grapes, thus we produced wines that are hard, acidic, angular, compact, and tannic from underripe fruit. Only a fool would buy this.

    6. Do you want to taste my wines?

    I actually have one or two barrels of exquisite cuvée vieilles vignes made from exceptionally ripe fruit that I set aside for all my importers, clients, and those nosy, obtrusive wine writers in order to give them an impression of what I am capable of achieving.

    7. Those people who follow organic or biodynamic farming in the vineyard are phony, pseudoviticulturists.

    We use every chemical treatment known to man -- insecticides, herbicides, tons of nitrogen and other fertilizers, including Miracle-Gro, in an effort to kill everything in the vineyard, except of course, the vine!

    8. Mr. Parker knows nothing.

    We cannot influence him, nor can we bribe him. A shameful man, he doesn't even write in his publication what we tell him to. Why can't we go back to the old days when we could stuff a trunkful of samples into a wine critic's car and get the reviews we desired?

    9. This is the greatest wine I have ever made in my life.

    This is the only wine we have to sell.

    10. This wine is closed and needs time because it has just been recently bottled.

    The malady of the bottling is a myth because anybody who bottles naturally, with very low SO2 and no fining or filtering, knows perfectly well that the wine tastes just as good in the bottle as it did in the cask. However, we are modern-day industrialists or, as we say, "wine processors." We utilize large quantities of sulfur, and, in addition, we eviscerate our wines by abusive fining and filtering. Thus we use the "maladie à la mise" excuse to justify the poor performance of our wines. If the truth be known, our wines have been stripped, nuked, and denuded, and they are incapable of improvement in the future. (Amazingly, writers and buyers have been swallowing this B.S. for at least the last four decades!)

    11. Parker (or any other wine critic/writer) never tasted my wine!

    I did not get a 90-point score.

    12. Parker (or any other wine critic/writer) likes only heavily oaked, internationally styled fruit bombs.

    I did not get a 90-point score.

    WINE ON THE INTERNET

    While the Internet has not proven to be as valuable for wine consumers as I had anticipated, there are some sites with strong followings that offer important consumer feedback. The problem with these sites is that participants have to be careful of misinformation being spread by cyberterrorists who represent competing wines or have malicious hidden agendas and do not reveal their connections to the wine trade or personal bias. Nevertheless, there are numerous fine sources for wine-buying information as well as travel tips. Following is a list of the best of these.

    www.wineloverspage.com: A popular and comprehensive Internet site run by Robin Garr. It has a strong following and dynamic, active message board with good postings by an enthusiastic membership.

    www.marksquires'E-Zineonwine.com: The most civilized wine discussion board on the Internet. Lawyer Mark Squires keeps the rantings, whinings, and misinformation levels at a minimum, and thus the discussions tend to be well focused, intense, and informative. For me, this is the most serious of the wine discussion boards.

    www.winespectator.com: This popular site offers subscription-only access to the Spectator's database, along with free daily news articles that are of considerable interest. Aesthetically, it is one of the most attractive wine sites. The discussion forums have never captured much interest.

    www.decanter.com: This site should be better than it is, but it is often worth checking out for news items and that quirky British point of view.

    www.magnumvinum.fr: This French site actually sells wine but also incorporates a message board for members of The Revue du Vin de France magazine. It is in French, but for those who read this language, it is worthwhile.

    www.westcoastwine.net: Brad Harrington runs this excellent site, which, along with Mark Squires's, is one of the purist sites for wine-tasting notes and interesting thoughts from the membership. Like the Squires site, there is rarely much whining, and the tasting notes are candid, honest, and for the most part reliable. A lot of top palates inhabit this site and generously share their thoughts on the world's wines. This is one of my favorite sites to surf.

    www.communities.msn@at/bordeauxwineenthusiast/messageboard.msnw: Another terrific place to find well-reasoned tasting notes, this site leans toward the great wines of Bordeaux. Neither extreme egos nor taste bashers are tolerated, thus the name-calling and rants common on many sites are not found on this serious, highly informative site. It is available in many languages.

    www.wine-pages.com: This superb site focuses on the UK wine scene. It is an all-inclusive site with excellent postings as well as a British perspective. It is a friendly, easily navigated site with plenty of bells and whistles.

    www.jancisrobinson.com: Jancis Robinson is one of Britain's leading ladies of wine. Her Web site is basic, but she charges a subscription fee for access to her "purple pages." It seems overpriced for the material offered, but no one should ignore the musings of the chatty Jancis.

    www.wineanorak.com: This excellent site, run by Jamie Goode, is very British/Euro focused, and thus may be of less interest to North Americans. Nevertheless, it offers considerable value. The attention to wine novices is a particularly useful attraction.

    www.wine-people.com: A user-friendly site, with excellent tasting notes and commentary from one of the most reliable but underrated sources for wine information, Arthur Johnson.

    www.eRobertParker.com: This site is by subscription only (at the lofty price of $100 per year), but readers have access to over a decade's worth of Wine Advocate tasting notes, as well as never-released tasting and dining commentaries by two very serious eaters and imbibers -- Pierre Rovani and Robert Parker. In addition to the enormous amount of resource material available, it is an extremely fast site operationally.

     

    Parker's Wine Buyer's Guide 6th Edition: The Complete, Easy-to-Use Reference on Recent Vintages, Prices, and Ratings for More Than 8,000 Wines from All the Major Wine Regions
    Parker's Wine Buyer's Guide 6th Edition: The Complete, Easy-to-Use Reference on Recent Vintages, Prices, and Ratings for More Than 8,000 Wines from All the Major Wine Regions
    Thoroughly revised and updated, this sixth edition of the Parker's Wine Buyer's Guide has been eagerly awaited by seasoned collectors and occasional drinkers alike. No one wants to waste his or her precious dollars on an unenjoyable bottle, and with Parker's advice in hand, no one ever will. Employing his famous 100-point rating system, Parker rates more than 8,000 wines from all the major wine-producing regions in the world -- including newly expanded sections on the popular wines of California and Italy. Each wine producer is evaluated separately, and Parker's independence allows him to be completely honest in his opinions. In addition, the book includes other essential information, such as how to buy and store wine, how to spot a badly stored and abused bottle, and how to find the best wine values for under $10.

     

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