SIP [Wanna]-Be

For the Wanna-Be Connousseiur

Relax. SIP on some of our wine knowledge. Become a wine connoisseur and start with SIP.

Wine is a subject often shrouded in mystery for the novice. Connoisseurs talk about body, must and tannins, while some of us are left in the dark, wondering whether to have red or white with the chicken or the fish.. Here are some wine basics to give you a nose for wine.

1 grape cluster = 1 glass
75 grapes = 1 cluster
4 clusters = 1 bottle
40 clusters = 1 vine
1 vine = 10 bottles
1200 clusters = 1 barrel
1 barrel = 60 gallons
60 gallons = 25 cases
30 vines = 1 barrel
400 vines = 1 acre
1 acre = 5 tons
5 tons = 332 cases

#10 - Positive balance in checkbook.
#9 - Boss went on vacation.
#8 - Noisy neighbor moves.
#7 - Finished income taxes
#6 - It is your day off.
#5 - Kids are at school.
#4 - Just found $10
#3 - No junk mail all day
#2 - Ran out of coffee.
#1 - Want to feel classy.

Technically speaking, a "dry" wine is one in which there is no perceptible taste of sweetness (most wine tasters begin to perceive sugar at levels of 0.5 % to 0.7 %). However, a well made wine can have sweet aromas, but still taste "dry." In a Red Wine, "dry" generally reflects the influence of tannin, which can leave one with a slight "pucker" and sensation of dryness on the tongue after tasting. Most of the "classic" or traditional Red Wines (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Bordeaux, Burgundy) are dry wines. For White Wines, "dry" is a more difficult taste to describe, but many of the most popular white wines (Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio) are dry wines - again containing no residual sugar.

Sometimes known as "off dry" or "blush" wines. Refers primarily to wines with just a touch of sweetness. Both Reds and Whites often have more of a flowery, fruity aroma, and they have a tendency to be lighter-drinking than a "dry" wine. As the name suggests, these are wines that have a level of residual sugar which gives them a sweeter or "fruity" taste, without being absolutely sweet like a Dessert wine, for example.

The term "fruity" is used to describe wines with a high sugar content. In technical terms, it refers to one of the four basic tastes detected by the sensory nerves of the human tongue. Characteristics are generally deeply concentrated flavors, sugar and acidity which together provide a good balance. There are various kinds of fruity wines. They range from some of the world's most famous "dessert" wines from Sauternes (Ch?teau d'Yquem), Germany and Tokay to the sweet "ethnic" wines that have been in common use for generations.

1. Try something new and you might be surprised. Let the staff make suggestions.
2. Take Notes especially if you are on a tour all day. This will help you later when you are purchasing wine.
3. Visit during the off season. November through May is an excellent time - the staff can offer you more time.
4. Ask Questions. Winery staff love to be engaged and help educate.
5. Eat the crackers. They help you clean your palate and absorb the alcohol.
6. Don't just stick with the big-name wineries. Check out some of the smaller ones in the area.
7. The nose, knows. Try not to use too much perfume or after-shave. The aroma is half the fun of tasting.
8. Call ahead for large parties. If you call ahead some wineries will even arrange cheese and fruit trays.
9. To test for a really good wine, swirl it around the glass. Legs or tears are what is left trickling down the glass after swirling. The stickier and longer the legs the better the quality.
10. Be patient.

1. Call ahead to check for hours of operation.
2. Visit during the off-season (June — Nov.)
3. Do not just visit the big name wineries, as the smaller tasting rooms may pleasantly surprise you.
4. Be polite, by stepping away from the tasting table if there is a sizable crowd.
5. Experiment with different wines and ask lots of questions!
6. Pour out glasses that you do not like after one taste, to save yourself for wines, you like most.
7. Consider spitting out the wine if you do not handle alcohol well.
8. Call ahead if you have a group larger than eight.
9. Take a notepad, as you will want to remember all those wines you tasted.
10. Dress appropriately, as the cellars can be chilly.
11. Drink plenty of bottled water, to prevent a hangover.
12. Do not wear any strong fragrances as these can hurt other people's enjoyment of the aromas.
13. Bring an ice cooler in your vehicle to protect you newly purchased wines.
14. Enjoy one of the local restaurants or take in the scenery with a walk and a picnic.
15. Ask if you can walk through the vineyards, it is a thrill.


1. Toasts are associated with an alcoholic beverages, but not a requirement
2. Always stand, as toasts should be delivered standing upright so everyone can see and hear.
3. Prepare ahead, practice it, be ready, get to the point quickly.
4. Smile, laugh, and be positive.
5. Clearly raise your glass at the appropriate time to alert others when to join in.
6. Everyone should touch glasses just after the spoken toast and before any sipping.
7. All should join in, even with an empty glass.


If a very simple rule of thumb needs to exist it would be better off saying
"White with Light and Red with Rich".

Avoid wines that are predominated by non-food flavors. Oak is not a taste you expect to find in food. Save oaky wines for fireside chats and other non-food events.

Never pair a wine with any food that is sweeter than itself. This makes the term Dessert Wine to be a misnomer. Most sweet wines are best enjoyed after dessert. Some swear by Chocolate and Cabernet Sauvignon, which violates this rule. Try it for yourself sometime and then try a Black Muscat..

Above all other considerations, drink wine to enjoy it and the company you are sharing it with.

Food and wine pairings are elusive and to some degree mythical. Drink wine you like with food you like, but never stop experimenting.

Feel free to e-mail us your questions...(whether they are wine-related or not!)
We may not be “experts”, but we stayed at the Holiday Inn Express lastnight. If we don’t have an answer or we can’t find one... we will make one up.


 Wine suffers from being moved, and regains its balance and character only after a period of rest, preferably in a cool, dark place.

Even the simplest bottle of wine tastes better at the right temperature. Allow time for bottles to chill - or warm up - before serving.

serve chilled (48°F to 54°F)

58°F & 65°F

Let It Breathe
Whenever possible open the bottle of wine at least one hour before serving. Uncorking a bottle and exposing it to oxygen for a period of time before pouring gives the wine a chance to aerate, enhancing subtle flavors and aromas, and making an enormous difference in the character of the wine.

Always use a clean glass! Thick glass will distort the clarity of the wine, and colored glass will alter the look as well. The preference here is to use stemware that is thin and clear. The bowl should be of a size to allow for a half-full glass to be swished without spilling.

White Wine: Use an all-purpose white wine glass with a tulip-shaped bowl and a tall, thin stem. Small to medium glasses work quite well for the whites.

Red Wine: Most red wines show best in a larger glass with a round or tulip-shaped bowl and tall, thin stem. Medium to large glasses work quite well for the reds.

Sparkling Wines: These are usually served in tulip-shaped stemware. Flutes are ideal for serving Champagnes and Sparkling Wines.

Dessert Wine: The general rule of thumb for dessert wines is to use basically small glasses, some with unique shapes which have a tendency to generate conversation and enhance the moment.