The Perfect Chinese Restaurant "BYOB" Wine

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QUESTION: We're going to a BYOB ("bring your own bottle") Chinese restaurant for dinner next week, and we like spicy dishes. Could you recommend a good bottle of wine for us to take along?

ANSWER: Check out yesterday's "Wine FAQ" post. A wine such as the Kendall-Jackson Riesling described therein would be good.

Another solid choice: Gewurztraminer.

Can Riesling Be "Enhanced"?

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QUESTION: Do winemakers ever blend other grape varieties with Riesling?

ANSWER: It's rare--especially in Germany and the Alsace region of France, where some of the world's best Rieslings are made--but it does happen.

We haven't checked out more recent vintages, but the 2005 California Riesling from Kendall-Jackson was just barely a Riesling by legal definition.

Don't Hate Me for Being Beautiful

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QUESTION: Is it true that eye-catching labels are more about marketing than wine?

ANSWER: Sometimes.

A colleague has opined that any bottle with a picture or drawing of "a cute animal" on it should be avoided like the plague.

We wouldn't go that far, because a quality-minded winery that also invests in attention-getting artwork for its label should not automatically be plopped into the "cheap plonk" category.

Frankly, We'd Like More Cab Franc

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QUESTION: Why don't more wineries make Cabernet Franc?

ANSWER: That's what we'd like to know!

Cabernet Franc makes a lovely varietal wine with a sweet floral aroma. But most of it...

In Search of "California Chianti"

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QUESTION: Do any American wineries make Chianti? That's our favorite wine to have with lasagna.

ANSWER: Just as the only "real" Champagne comes from the Champagne region of France, the only "real" Chianti comes from Italy. But that didn't stop a number of California wineries from calling their generic red wines "Chianti," particularly prior to the 1970s.

Those "jug wines" not only weren't real Chianti, they weren't anything like real Chianti.

Grape Harvesting by the Light of the Moon

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QUESTION: I've heard that some wineries pick their grapes at night. Why?

ANSWER: It's called the "fall" harvest season, but a good deal of winegrape picking takes place late in the summer, when it can still be very hot in wine country.

Typically, the just-picked grapes are placed in large bins...

What Makes Wine "Legs" Nice?

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QUESTION: My wife and I were at a tasting room recently, when I heard one of the other customers say, "Nice legs!" After I figured out that the guy wasn't making a move on my wife, I asked the woman behind the bar what that meant.

She said, "'legs' refer to the little droplets of wine that run down the inside of a glass after the wine has been swirled." I guess my next question is, "What makes those 'legs' nice?"

What the Nose Knows

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QUESTION: In the tasting notes that accompany our wine shipments from the Elevant Society, I've seen three different terms used to describe what a wine smells like: bouquet, aroma and nose. Are these terms interchangeable, or does each have its own nuanced meaning?

ANSWER: Good question! Truth be told, we tend to use those terms interchangeably - but they do have slightly different definitions. Let's break them down...

The World's Top Wine-Producing Countries

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QUESTION: Given the way the California wine scene has exploded, and the fact that wine is now produced in all 50 states, I'm guessing that the United States produces more wine than any country on Earth. My wife disagrees; she says it's France. Who's right?

ANSWER: This is one marital spat we are happy to say has no winner... and no loser. You're both wrong...

The Many Guises of 'Going Green'

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QUESTION: What are the differences among sustainable, organic and Biodynamic farming?

ANSWER: Sustainable farming is a widely used term but has no legal definition - so it can mean just about anything. It's typically used by wineries that are just beginning to embrace concepts that protect and perpetuate the land, rather than stripping it...

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