Drinking wine could protect your eyes

•November 23, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Researchers have found that a substance found in grapes and other fruits could protect blood vessels in the eye being damaged by old age.
It is effective because the compound, known as resveratrol, stops the blood vessels from being damaged.

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The substance, which has been linked to anti-ageing and cancer protection in the past, is believed to work because it protects against abnormal angiogenesis – the formation of damaged or mutated blood vessels.
This condition is linked to cancer, heart disease and eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration.
Dr Rajendra Apte, who carried out the research at Washington University School of Medicine, St Louis, said the study should have a “substantial impact” on our understanding of how resveratrol works.
He said it was able to “demonstrate that resveratrol, a naturally occurring compound, can directly inhibit the development of abnormal blood vessels both within and outside the eye”.
This he said could lead to new treatments.
Resveratrol is a natural compound that is produced in a variety of plants to prevent bacterial and fungal infections.
It is found in particularly high levels in grape skin (and consequently red wine), and at lower levels in blueberries, peanuts, and other plants.
Various studies have shown that resveratrol can decrease the effects of ageing and act as an anti-cancer agent.
Red wine has also received a lot of attention lately for its purported health benefits.
Along with reducing stroke, moderate wine consumption has been linked to a lowered incidence of cardiovascular disease — the so-called French paradox.
Despite diets high in butter, cheese and other saturated fats, the French have a relatively low incidence of cardiovascular disease, which some have attributed to the regular drinking of red wine.
This study published in The American Journal of Pathology shows why this works.


Letting a Red Wine Breathe

•June 29, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Duck Decanter Letting a wine breathe means that you deliberately expose the wine to the air, to help start the exchange of wine molecules with air molecules. This both has an effect on the wine’s flavor as well as making the wine easier to smell.

Decanting is all about removing sediment from a wine, and allowing the wine to breathe. These are things that older, red wines do – young wines and white wines do not usually have to be decanted.

Remember that your tongue can only taste four types of tastes (or five, if you believe in umami). To see how your tongue is divided up, visit my Wine Basics Page. All of the other sensations you get – including things you think of as “flavors” – come from your nose. Therefore, you want that wine to be giving off aromas! If it’s not releasing flavors into the air, it’s going to taste like strange water.

Just taking a cork out of a bottle does very little. The tiny amount of surface area touching the air in the bottle neck will cause no real change in the wine over even a few hours. If you’re going to actually create a positive effect on the wine, you have to create a large surface area for the wine and air to react across.

Pomerol Decanter This is where decanting comes into play. Decanters are deliberately designed to expose large amounts of the wine to the air, to help the wine and air work with each other. This helps the older red wines “wake up” and start to have a full aroma again, after years of being cooped up in the bottle.

Courtesy of wineintro.com

How Do You Keep a Wine at the Right Temperature?

•June 27, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Let’s say that you have a bottle of sauvignon blanc, and know that it tastes wonderfully at 54F. Your fridge is at 35F-38F – i.e. not freezing temperature, but still cold enough to keep bacteria from growing in it. So you patiently wait the half hour for your sauvignon blanc to warm up to 54F, and pour out a glass to enjoy. That first glass is perfect! But how do you now keep the rest of the bottle cool so that you can continue to enjoy it throughout the meal?

First, if you’re a slow sipper and your only real concern is keeping your one glass cold through the dinner, I highly recommend plastic ice cubes. Plunk a new one in each time the wine begins to taste warmer. I have a bunch of blue and pink fish shapes in my freezer. The ice cubes will keep your wine cool without changing its flavor at all.

Next, if you’re a two glass with dinner person, and your worry is about that second glass that is warming up to an alcohol-laden too warm temperature, there are many “ice sleeves” on the market. This is a plastic cylinder (sort of like a neck warmer in shape) that you slide over the bottle. You keep it in the freezer until you need it. The thought is that it helps to keep the wine cool – but since it doesn’t encase the entire bottle, it doesn’t bring the bottle down to freezing temperature. Between the untouched parts of the bottle warming up, and the encased parts cooling down, you strike a balance that is hopefully in the temperature range you require.

If you have spare cash to spend, there are actually devices that you set a specific temperature – say 54F – and stick the bottle into them. They then cool or stop cooling based on the wine’s temperature. So if the wine starts to warm up, they start cooling – and once the wine reaches the correct temperature, they stop cooling so natural room temperature starts warming it up again. Since most rooms aren’t actually “wine temperature” (thank goodness) they don’t worry about having to heat up the wine :). When they said red wine should be served at room temperature, this was back in the renaissance where rooms in France *were* in the 50s and 60s much of the time.

How do you know what temperature your wine is? There are many items on the market to help out. There are stick-on plastic strip thermometers, sort of like the ones you stick on a fish tank or your forehead. These easily and immediately tell you your wine’s temperature. There are also super cool infrared thermometers where you point it at the bottle, press a button and voila, it tells you the temperature without even having to touch it. I have one and it is a *ton* of fun to play with 🙂 However you have to sit there pressing the button each time you want to know what the reading is. For actual sitting-at-dinner it makes more sense to stick a strip on the bottle so you can see at a glance if it needs cooling or not.

Courtesy of wineintro.com

How Quickly Does a Wine Warm Up?

•June 23, 2011 • Leave a Comment

A wine’s flavor depends greatly on its temperature. If you drink a wine ice cold, you get no aroma, no flavor. It just tastes like cold water. If you drink a wine steaming hot, all of the alcohol vapors are released, and the wine tastes very alcoholy. It’s somewhere in the middle that the true nuances of a wine’s flavor can be enjoyed.

Looking at the temperature chart, a wine should never be served as cold as fridge temperature – and never as warm as room temperature (unless you keep your house at 62F). Therefore many people keep their wine in the fridge and then let it warm up to drink it – that seems infinitely preferable to keeping the wine at room temperature and then trying to quick-freeze it in the freezer before drinking!

So how long does it take a wine to warm up from fridge temperature to drinkable temperature? I love doing experiments, and this was an easy one! You simply take a bottle of wine, a stick-on thermometer, and a clock. I’ve done many runs on many different days. There are slight variations if your home is a bit warmer or colder, but this is the average change.

Time (H:MM) Temp (F) Wine Target
0:00 fridge
0:10 46 Chablis / Riesling
0:20 46
0:30 54 Sauvignon Blanc
0:40 54
0:50 56 Chardonnay
1:00 58 Zinfandel / Chianti
1:10 58
1:20 58
1:30 58
1:40 58
1:50 62 Pinot Noir
2:00 62
2:10 62
2:20 62
2:30 64 Cabernet
2:40 66
2:50 66

This means that even white wines should be taken out for a little while before serving – and you need to plan ahead with your reds!

Courtesy of wineintro.com

Wine Temperature Chart : Temps for Serving / Storing Wine

•June 21, 2011 • Leave a Comment

What’s the big deal about storing a wine at a certain temperature? Simply put, wine is a perishable good. Storing a fine wine at 100° will cause it to lose its flavor, while storing it at 0° will cause as much damage.

The trick with wine is to store it at a stable, ideal temperature, and then to serve it at a temperature which best shows off its personal characteristics. If you serve a wine too cool, the flavors will all be hidden. It’s like eating a frozen pizza while it’s still frozen. If you serve a wine too hot, all you can taste is the alcohol.

Wine Serving Temperature Guidelines

Temp F Temp C Notes

Warm Bath



Vintage Port

Bordeaux, Shiraz

Red Burgundy, Cabernet

Rioja, Pinot Noir

Chianti, Zinfandel

Tawny/NV Port, Madeira

Ideal storage for all wines

Beaujolais, rose

Viognier, Sauternes






Ice Wines

Asti Spumanti



Fridge Temperature


water freezes

Freezer Temperature

Most of the enjoyment that comes from drinking wine involves its aroma. Taste only has four aspects – sweet, sour, salty, acid. The nose does the rest. Vapors are created as wine warms up, so the wine needs to be a few degrees below its ideal drinking temperature for this to work. Room Temperature is rarely ‘wine drinking temperature’ – if you’re in the Indian Ocean on a yacht, you hardly want 100° Chardonnay! How about Houston in July? Warmth makes white wines taste dull. Few homes are regulated to match wine-drinking temperatures.

So throw out the old “refrigerate all whites, drink all reds at current room temperature” adage. Here is a chart to indicate in general best temperatures for drinking wine at. Remember, though, that you also want to keep in mind the temperature of the room relative to this ‘idea temperature’. If your room is 60°F and you are serving a fine Burgundy, perhaps chill the Burgundy to 58°F to allow it a little warming up in the glass. Fridges do well for cooling a wine when necessary, but for warming I prefer to warm it with my hands, glass by glass.

Bottle If you run into someone hooked on Room Temperature, have them imagine drinking a fine ice wine in Barrow, Alaska in February. At that temperature, even a wine meant to be chilled will still taste like … strange water.

If you’re more interested in what to do with that extra half bottle you have left over at the end of a day, read up on our comparison of half-bottles left over after 3 days! This experiment pitted the various wine storage systems against each other, and sees which truly helps save a wine for drinking later on.

Storing Wine in your Fridge : Temps for Serving / Storing Wine

•June 17, 2011 • Leave a Comment

You know that wine should stay cool. Maybe you live somewhere without central air, and the house gets up to 90F. Is it OK to store the wine in your fridge? I have an article on proper storage of wines that explains the primary storage requirements. First: temperature of around 55F that is CONSTANT. Second: medium-high humidity. In addition, the storage should be low to no vibration.

Most wine is therefore either stored on its side in a cellar or dark closet, or in a wine fridge. Both of these guarantee that the wine you paid good money for is as tasty as possible when you open it up.

However, what if you’re a poor college student and only have an apartment, with no cellar? What if your apartment doesn’t have central heat, and even your darkest closets turn into roasting chambers? You definitely know that making a wine too hot is REALLY BAD for it and can vinegarize it almost instantly.

You can’t afford a little wine fridge. What can you do? If you REALLY and truly have nowhere cool you can keep your wine, then a fridge is a last resort. You need to understand that this cannot be for wines that you want to keep for more than a week or so before drinking. Any wines you are aging, keep them at a friend’s house with better conditions. But for wines that you bring home to drink later that night, or over the weekend, it should be OK.

Here’s the issue. First, food fridges tend to be very vibration-filled. This can shake the cork loose, letting in air, which is the enemy of all wine. It also shakes up the sediment in the wine, which is bad.

Next, food fridges have a much lower than ideal humidity. The reason you care about humidity is again that bark piece stuffed in the mouth of your bottle. As it dries out, air gets in and destroys the wine. Have I mentioned I am a big proponent of screw caps and plastic corks? The number of bottles of wine destroyed by bad corks or dried-out corks is staggering.

Finally, a fridge is simply too cold. Wine is supposed to age slowly and gently over time. The 55F is the perfect temperature for that. If you have the wine instead at 35F (the average fridge temp), it damages its aging. Not only that, but fridges are opened and closed, and the temperature fluctuates around. That is also not good for the wine.

Note that you should NEVER actually drink a wine right out of the fridge. 35F is WAY way too cold for drinking a wine!! Many people who dislike certain wines are actually simply drinking them too cold, and would love the wine at the proper temperature. Be sure to read my Wine Temperature drinking chart and let your wine warm up!

Storing Wine on your Kitchen Counter

•June 15, 2011 • Leave a Comment

About once a week, someone writes me to ask the same question. Does leaving a wine out at room temperature, or storing it at room temperature, damage the wine? How about keeping wine in the fridge for months?

First, we’re not talking about keeping a wine after it has been opened. If you want advice on that, be sure to read my Storing Wine After It’s Opened Experiment which tried a variety of ways to store the rest of a partially-consumed bottle of wine.

We’re talking about a sealed bottle, that you want to drink at some point. The cork is still intact, so no air gets in to it, which is the main destroyer of wine.

However, heat is the second major destroyer of wine. If you put a bottle of wine above the stove to store it for example, it can be toast in a few days. People do that all the time. The proper storage temperature for wine is 55F. So the question is really asking, what happens when a wine isn’t at its proper storage tempreature.

Fridges are down at 35F, so way too cold. This can harm a wine a bit, although cold temperatures for a short period of time can of ‘stop’ a wine from changing. Which is why you put an opened bottle into the fridge, because you don’t want it to worsen any more. Still, prolonged cold temperatures (say a week or more) start to damage the wine, sort of like how ice crystals form on ice cream if you let it sit in the freezer for too long.

But compared to hot, cold is pretty mild. Hot temperatures REALLY do nasty things to wine. So if you have it at 75F, when it really should be at 55F, it is baking the wine. Think of it as leaving milk out. Sure it might look milk-like if you leave it out all day and put it back into the fridge the next day, but some really nasty things have happened to it internally. Wine can turn to vinegar in a relatively short period of time if you let it bake like that.

So in addition to starting at a bad temperature (too cold), going to a bad temperature (too hot) and then returning to a bad temperature (too cold), you have another problem, which even minor fluctuations in a wine cellar can create. That is, the wine is a liquid. Like most liquids, it expands and contracts when it heats and cools. It’s in a sealed container, so as it gets “bigger and smaller”, it pushes the cork out and pulls it in. Wines have been known to pop the corks out completely if they get too hot. But even if they don’t, that cork is getting pushed out and pulled in as the temperature changes. The sliding causes the seal to be less tight, letting in air. So now we’re back to the primary destructor of wine.

So yes, what is going on there is very bad for wine, but not necessarily because the wine is changing temperatures. It’s all the other things involved in the scenario which are far worse for the wine. If you just stick the wine in a cool closet, and leave it there until you drink it, it’ll taste far better. If you’re going to spend money on wine – even an inexpensive one – you want it to taste good, and not like could-be-salad-dressing …