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WINE FAQs - Frequently Asked Questions about Wines

These are the most frequently asked questions about wines and wine accessories. Below is the index with the questions. Under that are the answers. Just click on one of the questions and see the answers.

What is wine?

Wine is fermented grape juice. Wine can be made from all sorts of foods. Fruits, herbs and flowers can be used to make wine. Most wine, and certainly all sold by Wine Surprise is made from grapes. And no matter what the wine is made from, there must be fermentation. That is the process that turns sugar into alcohol. If the amount of alcohol is relatively low, the result is wine. If it is high, the result is a distilled liquor. Examples are gin and vodka. Fermentation cannot increase alcohol content past about 16%, for at that level the yeast dies and ends fermentation. Higher alcohol levels are archived through distillation. Distillation is where a lower alcohol beverage is heated and as the alcohol evaporates first, it is collected and the vapor is re-condensed. There are red wines, pink wines (also known as rose or blush) and white wines. Since the inside of a grape is white, red grapes can make white wine. The color comes from letting the juice mix with the skins during the early wine-making process. Red grapes can make white wine but white grapes can't make red wine. Wines might be fortified, sparkling, or table wines. In fortified wines, brandy is added to make the alcohol content higher (around 16 to 23 percent). Sparkling wines are the ones with bubbles, like Champagne. Table wine (which can also be called still wine) are the most "natural." Both table and sparkling wines tend to have alcohol contents between 7 and 15 percent.

How long do I age wine?

Most people assume that the longer that you keep a wine, the better it will get. It is a misconception that you must age wine. The fact is, throughout the world most wine is drunk young (within 12 to 18 months after it is produced). While some wines will mature and become better over time, others will not and should be drunk within a few years after it is made. If aged too long all wine will pass its peak and eventually spoil. Even the wines meant to be aged for many years should be drunk before its too late. Wines which are expected to be matured in the bottle before drinking can spoil faster if not properly stored. A famous name on the label is no guarantee that the wine will age well. The more tannins that the wine has, regardless of the brand or label, the better it will age. An average for ageable white wines is between 5 to 7 years. On the other hand, reds can easily be kept for 30 years and longer.

What is Tannin?

Tannin is a substance that comes from the seeds, stems and skins of grapes. Additional tannin can come from the wood during barrel aging in the winery. It is an acidic preservative and is important to the long term maturing of wine. Through time, tannin will precipitate out of the wine, becoming sediment in the bottle. As this happens the complexity of the wine's flavor from fruit, acid and all the other substances that make up the wine's character will come into greater balance. Generally, it is red wines that are the ones that can be produced with a fair amount of tannin, and therefore the best ones for long term storing and maturation. You shouldn't drink wine with lots of tannin if it is too young because it may have harsh taste. But after a number of years, what you get is a prized, complex and balanced wine. Remember that red wines get their color from the stems and skins of the grape. This gives the wine tannin and aging capacity. White wines may have no contact with the stems and skins and will have little tannin, though some will have it if barrel aged. Therefore most white wines don't age well. Even the ones which do get better through time will not last nearly as long as the red wines.

Are there any rules about aging wine?

Not really but generally the size of the bottle matters. A half bottle ages faster than larger bottles. The red Beaujolais Nouveau is meant to be drunk within days. Its a light, fruity wine. White wine is the next least aged wine. But here there is a range from light wines, such as a Sauvignon Blanc or a light Chardonnay, to more ageable complex Chardonnays of good white Burgundies. As a rule drink the the light whites within a few years. The more complex whites can be aged from 3 to 5 years. Dessert wines, on the other hand, should be aged. Most red wines will benefit by aging and some will benefit from long term aging. The ones that you drink now with a harsh taste may very well be fantastic in 5, 10 or 20 years. Some Bordeaux and Cabernet Sauvignon wines can be aged for 30 years. A rule of thumb for reds:
Aging Popular Red Wines
Cabernet 10 - 15 Years
Merlot 4 - 7 Years
Pinot Noir 5 Years

What is the best way to store wines?

If you are going to drink a wine within a year or so, you probably don't have to keep it in any special place. It should be kept relatively cool and out of the light. For wines that should be aged, keep them at the proper temperature. Make sure that they do not have rapid temperature fluctuations. 55 degrees Fahrenheit is a good temperature, but within 50 to 57 degrees Fahrenheit is acceptable. Wide swings in temperature will harm the wine. Higher temperatures will age the wine faster so it won't get as complex as it might have. Having too low a temperature will slow the wine's maturation

About 60 percent relative humidity is the perfect level. This helps keep the cork moist. The wine will oxidize if the air gets to it. If the cork drys out it can shrink and let air in. This is another reason to keep the bottles on their sides. The wine itself will help keep the cork moist. If you are thinking about the refrigerator, wines prefer humidity and refrigerators are designed not to be humid.

Light and vibrations are not considered a good thing for long term storage. Keep your wines in their box if you do not have a wine cabinet or cellar. Make sure that whereever you keep the, they are not affected by the vibrations that can be caused by electrical appliances or consistent opening and closing of doors.

Can the wine bottle tell me if the wine is good?

You can tell a lot about the wine without opening the bottle. Besides a moldy cork, the bottle fill level can tell about the wine. If the bottle fill level was low to begin with, common in Italian wines, you don't have to worry about it. But there are other causes to low fill levels. If the wine was subjected to high heat, the wine can expand and liquid may have been forced out through the cork. Since heat isn't good for wine, this can be an indicator of poorly kept wine. Other bottle leakage causes are damaged corks or storage in a very low humidity environment that dried out the cork.

Are there different types of corks?

Most corks are made from cork. Cork is expensive and has its positives and negatives. Perfect because it expands and grasps glass during the expansion process, it also deteriorates and develops mold. Some wineries are experimenting with corks that are from plastic and other synthetic materials. Since the idea of the cork is to keep wine inside the bottle and keep what's outside the bottle outside, it doesn't matter what the cork is made from as long as it does its job.

What can I do if the cork is discolored?

When you open an aged bottle, the cork can be discolored or have mold growing on the top. As long as the mold or growth hasn't gotten into the wine, wipe the cork off with a damp rag and towel dry it before you remove it. After you remove the cork, wipe off the top of the bottle as well. You may see something that looks like glass crystals on the bottom of the cork. This is probably the result of tartaric acid in the form of potassium bitartrate. This is tasteless and harmless.

What are the best types of corkscrews?

There are many different types of corkscrews and devices that remove a cork from a wine bottle. Some are easier to use than others. The well known and commonly used waiter corkscrew is actually one of the harder types of corkscrews to use. It is used by most restaurants because of the low price, in case it is lost by the waiter, and it gives a more professional look as it is what is expected by the customers. They are useful when pulling a cork from a bottle of wine that is sitting in a cradle. For those that do not want to put a hole in their cork there is the cork puller opener. Ithas two metal prongs which wriggle back and forth so that the prongs move down the side of the cork. When you hit bottom of the cork the tension lets you pull the cork back up. They have a great "cool" factor but are not very effective. Another great corkscrew is the lever pull type. There are many lever pull corkscrews available and some can even be bolted to a wall or the countertop. What works best? Any corkscrew that lets you get the cork out easily and smoothly. Find something that doesn't break the cork off in mid-pull.

What are the sediments in the bottle?

As wines mature, "crud" will come out of the wine. These sediments are tannic and are not to be consumed. While they are harmless, they do not taste good and affect the taste of the wine. If the wine is laying on its side, the sediment will be visible along the lower edge of the bottle. The best thing to do with sediments is to stand the bottle upright a day or two before you plan to drink it. Then the sediment can fall to the bottom of the bottle. Handle the bottle very carefully and do not shake it. You don't want to mix the sediment back through the bottle. When you pour the wine, stop before any sediment comes out. If you haven't placed the bottle upright in advance, you can serve the wine from a cradle that will incline the wine at about a 45 degree angle. If you carefully open and pour, the sediment will stay along the bottom edge of the bottle and out of your glass.

Should I smell the cork after opening the bottle?

It is useful to smell the wet end of the cork before drinking the wine. Sometimes the cork will give you advance notice that there is something off about the wine. Even if there is no visible discoloration or growth along the top of the cork, it does not mean that the cork did not harm the wine, or that there isn't some other problem with the wine. A bitter or vinegar like smell means the wine is of poor quality.

Should I decant the wine?

Decanting is where you pour the wine out of the bottle into another container, usually a wine decanter that is made for that particular purpose. Properly decanting a bottle lets you get rid of sediment. Gently pour the wine into the decanter. Use light behind the neck of the bottle to see when sediment gets to the neck. Stop pouring as soon as you see the sediment. If you do not have a wine decanter, you can decant the wine using cheesecloth, wire mesh placed in a funnel or coffee filters. Unfiltered wines generally will have sediment, but just because a wine is unfiltered doesn't necessarily mean that there will be sediment. You should decant all wine that contains sediment, regardless of it being filetered or unfiltered. There are other reasons to decant wine. Some young white wines may have a sulfurous quality which can be removed by decanting. Decanting also lets red wine breathe, giving chemical compounds in the wine a chance to evaporate.

Should I let the wine breathe?

Letting the wine breathe, or the wine breath as is often mispelled, allows wines to open up their flavor. Some young wines allow you to detect the bouquet and flavors that are, and will be in the wine. But during aging, what was there before is harder to perceive. Aging the wine causes the wine to again open up, as bitter tannin turns to sediment. If it isn't poured into the glass the bitter tannins will not be tasted, and the wine will develop complex taste. Allowing the wine to breath lets oxygen get to wine. This helps to open it up. Decanting lets the wine breathe, though not as much as aging does. Not all wines benefit from breathing. Also, you can allow a wine to breathe too much. While oxygen helps to open up the wine, it also oxidizes the wine and eventually ruin it. A wine that is over aged isn't going to get anything from breathing, as it is already passed its peak. As a general rule, breathe time is an hour for young reds, 2 to 3 hours for older fine reds, and less than an hour for complex whites. Some let a wine breathe by opening up the bottle, but not decanting it. This does not work since not much oxygen is going to get down the bottle's small neck.

Why does the wine not taste right?

Improper production, handling or storage will afffect the wine's taste. Many things can go wrong with wine, so if it does not taste right, return the wine. Don't be shy about it. If at a restaurant just let the waiter know. If from a wine store or online wine merchant, return it as most understand that mishandling of wines will affect their taste. If you ordered online, make sure that the online wine shop has a return policy.

At what temperature should I drink the wine?

Most think that the wine should be at room temperature when drunk. That is wrong and wine should never be served at room temperature. As cool wine warms, vapors rise off the wine. Since your sense of smell plays a big part of what things taste like, getting those vapors into your nose is important. As a test, try drinking a bottle of wine that has been heavily refrigerated. In some ways, it will taste a lot like water, or at least tasteless alcohol. On the other hand, if you serve a little below room temperature, you'll get the benefit of the vaporizing effect. So one rule of thumb is to serve the wine 1 or 2 degrees below the temperature of the room. But there is a limit as to how warm the wine should be. Generally, the best drinking temperature of wines are cooler temperatures. Below are the temperature ranges that will make the wine stand out.

Temperature of Wine to Drink
Best Red wines 59 to 61 degrees Fahrenheit
Red Wines 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit
Rose Wines 50 to 54 degrees Fahrenheit
Complex White Wines 50 to 54 degrees Fahrenheit
White Wines 46 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit
Sweet White Wines 43 to 48 degrees Fahrenheit
Sparkling Wines & Champagne 43 to 46 degrees Fahrenheit

If the wine is too cold, can I microwave it?

Holding the glass with your hands usually gets it warmed up pretty quickly. But if the wine is too cold, you can warm it up in the microwave. Just make sure that the bottle is open (if heating it up in the bottle) and keep a close eye as microwaves do not warm it up uniformly. This might require you to swish the wine around before drinking it.

What are terms to describe the taste of wines?

There are many terms to describe wines and the taste of the wine. When you hear them tossed around and you don't know what they mean you can get lost in the conversation. What is interesting is that after you get into the world of wines, you'll find yourself using the terms too. Word of warning. Don't let yourself get bogged down on the terms. Drink the wine and enjoy it. Here are the most commonly used terms and what they mean:

  • Austere: The wine is kind of stiff or tight, sort of hard. Hard to tell characteristics.
  • Balance: Describing the relationship between tannin, acid and alcohol. You want to drink a "well-balanced" wine.
  • Big: A strong, perhaps alcoholic wine. It is a good wine that can get better.
  • Buttery: A sort of smooth feel and taste, like butter. Most often seen in white wines which have undergone proper fermentation.
  • Dry: When it isn't sweet and has low sugar content, its dry. The opposite of Sweet.
  • Flabby: A bland tasting wine that isn't going to get any better with time.
  • Grassy: Smells like grass. Often seen in Sauvignon Blanc.
  • Hard: A wine that has a lot of tannin and needs aging. A young red wine. The tannin keeps you from tasting the other qualities of the wine.
  • Heavy: A wine that is overpowering. The wine can be too heavy for the food.
  • Nose: The totality of what you smell.
  • Sweet: If sugar remains in the wine it is sweet. It is the opposite of Dry.
  • Thin: A watery sort of wine. Light on taste.

How do I order a bottle of wine at a restaurant?

When it comes to ordering a bottle of wine at a restaurant there are unofficial rules. It all starts with the wine list. Most restaurants have a wine list. Better restaurants have two wine lists. One wine list has the less-expensive decent wines. Another one will include the higher priced fine wines. Generally, an informative wine list will tell you the type of wine, the producer of the wine, where it was grown and the vintage year. Since there can be considerable variation in vintages, the vintage year is an important piece of information. If the wine list doesn't have all the information, ask the waiter. If he does not tell you, have the bottle brought to you. Don't be afraid to reject it if it doesn't suit your wants. It is not embarassing or improper etiquette. If they bring a much younger wine than is listed, odds are it isn't worth the price on the menu. Don't be shy and request a price reduction if the year is different then on the wine list. If they don't reduce the price, don't order the wine and send it back. Most restaurants over charge for wines and liquor. It is one of their largest profit center.

If you don't know the wines on the wine list, just ask. In a good restaurant the waiters will have knowledge of the wines on the list and can recommend them to pair with the food that you ordered. Some restaurants have a wine steward who can be invaluable in choosing a wine for you that perfectly matches the food. But be careful, as in some restaurants their job is to point out the most costly wine they think they can get you to pay for. Another thing is to always decide on what you are going to eat before you order the wine. If drinking wine first and ordering the food second, match the food to the wine you are drinking.

When your wine arrives at the table, look at it. Make sure it's the bottle and vintage that you ordered. The server will remove the wrapper on the top of the wine. The top of the cork should be wiped off as it can be moldy or have contaminants. After the waiter uncork the wine bottle, the cork is usually given to the person who ordered the wine. Take the cork and sniff it. You may note some smells. If the smell does not seem right, this can be your first indication that the wine has problems. If it does not taste good or has turned to vinegar, send it back. Take a look at the cork and make sure that it has the marking of the winery that produces the wine you ordered. This will prove that it is not re-corked wine. Also check the cork to see if it is moldy, though that is not a sign of bad wine..

The person who ordered will then be poured a small amount of the wine for tasting before drinking. If you smelled the cork, you may have a good idea if there is something wrong. Give it a small sip. If the wine is bad, there is no reason for you to drink it. Send it back. Most restaurants will accept back a bad wine gracefully. Do not send back a wine that is good just because you don't like since you ordered it. The same applies to particularly older wines that you know are past their peak. The general rule is that you shouldn't have to pay a restaurant for something that is bad for reasons beyond your control. Next you swirl the wine around in the glass. Swirling releases the smells of the wine, which are very important to enjoying the full experience of drinking it. You can swirl the wine around, stick your nose in it, even suck it through your teeth. All these things bring out the wine's taste. Remember to swirl, sniff and then sip. Make sure that the wine's temperature is acceptable and feel free to have them cool the bottle before pouring it into the glasses if it is too warm.

Why is wine so expensive at a restaurant?

For many years the price of wine at a restaurant is based on two to three times the retail price. But restaurants are not paying retail. The price to restaurants is often less than wholesaler and substantitally less than what it would cost you at the winery. The huge mark-ups are way way too much to pay for wine. The restaurant gets customers to pay such inflated prices because of the atmoshphere and the complementary factor to the food that you ordered. You can lower the cost of the wine by following some simple rules. Learn what the better buys are. Cabernet Sauvignon are usually in higher demand so their price tends to be higher than other red. The bargains are sometimes better. Lesser known wine brands may be just as good or better than the more expensive name brands. Some restaurants may allow you to bring your own wine. Find out and bring your own wine. One word of caution is that it is etiquette to NOT bring a wine that is on the wine list.

Should I serve wine in wine glasses?

The size and shape of a glass can contribute to the enjoyment of drinking wine. Generally speaking a glass with a long stem lets you swirl the wine easily and swirling helps bring out the smells of the wine, which is important to the tasting process. The long stem also keeps the heat from your hand away from the wine. A glass that is narrower at the top than the area below allows you to capture the wine's scents. A larger bowl area of wine in the bottom allows the bouquet of the wine to get trapped by the narrowing of the glass.

In terms of acidity, tannins, fruit flavors, aromatic componentsand the like, different types of wines have different profiles. These are sensed by different parts of the tongue, nose and throat. Wine glasses are designed to channel the wine as you sip it to different parts of the mouth where you will get the optimal tasting experience.

How do I store the wine after opening the bottle?

Wine deteriorates in the presence of oxygen. The most practical thing to do is finish the wine. When this isn't sensible you can place a wine stopper on the bottle and refrigerate it so that tyou can cook with it at a later date. Not all opened wine bottles should be used for cooking. Some young, tannic wines might actually taste better the next day. Just place the stopper and store it in the refrigerator until you are ready to drink it. There are also other methods to preserve the wine longer than a day or so.

You can preserve the quality of the wine by preventing oxygen from coming in contact with the leftover wine. This can be done by using a Vaccum Pump with specially designed seals. The VIP brand Vacuum Pump is a small pump device that comes with rubber seals that have a small hole in the middle. The idea is that you can suck a fair amount of air from the bottle, thus reducing the effect of the oxygen. This can add 2 to 5 days to the life of the wine in the bottle. Another method is filling the bottle with an inert gas. There are several different systems that do this, but they tend to be relatively expensive and hard to use. Another preservation method is to take glass marbles, clean them and then put them in the wine bottle until the liquid is to the top. This forces out much of the oxygen. You can then cork the bottle with a wine stopper. another method is to ransfer the wine to a smaller bottle so that it has less oxygen and then place the stopper tightly. Whatever method you use, refrigerating the wine should be the final step. A cooler wine will oxidize less quickly.

Can I freeze wine to preserve it?

Freezing alters the character of the wine. Cooking with leftovers is probably a better option.

What is the best way to buy wines?

The more wines that you taste, the more you will come to know what you like in a wine. Hee are some wine buying tips that will help you as you develop your preferences. Don't buy too much of a wine that you haven't tasted just because it got a good rating or is something you liked in earlier vintages. Don't over-buy a wine that you won't drink until after it goes bad. If you are drinking a wine that is meant to be drunk young, you can pretty much buy your wine at the best price you can find. When it comes to wines to cellar, more care should be exercised. You want to learn a bit about your wine merchant. Since wines can be stored improperly or may have been subjected to heat and other improper handling, you could find that after keeping an expensive red wine for ten years, what you have to drink is worthless. A respectable merchant will often be willing to take back flawed bottles. Technology has moved wine buying to levels never attainable before. You can now use the internet to get wines that were never available to the general public. Boutique wines, those that are produced by small wineries, were historically purchased by enthusiasts that would wait for the small batches to be finalized. The wine was only enjoyed by a few. Now the internet has allowed wine lovers to also enjoy them. Many of these boutique wines go on to earn high ratings and then are sold out quickly.

What is a wine worth?

Some was that the best way to learn about wine is to drink the cheapest wine you can find. If you can't find any cheap wine you like, then spend a few more dollars. And then a few more, and more, and more until you find the perfect wine for you. Generally better wine costs more, however it isn't necessarily true that wine that costs more is better. The real fact is that you shouldn't be swayed by the opinions of others. If you like it buy it, if you don't like it don't buy it. Some wines may be very good but their prices could be considered out of line with similar quality wines. Why do they cost so much? There are various factors including snob appeal, advertising and the marketing skills of the winery. Another factor that adds to a wine's price is the ratings. If a high rating has been achieved, it falls into a supply and demand issue. You may have purchased the wine for a few dollars a bottle but all of asudden the price is three times what you paid for it. What is the difference? A respected wine rater said it was good and awarded it high points. That's it.

What are the different general classes of wine?

Wines are classed according to established standards and by government laws. Here a some of the classes and their definition:

  • "Variety" is a specific type of grape.
  • "Varietal" is a wine made up of 100% of a particular variety of grape.
  • A "Varietal Wine" is named for the grape variety or varieties from which it is produced. In order to be named after that one grape, the wine must contain not less than 75% of that specific variety. If two or more grapes are named, the total for each must be printed on the label and the total must equal 100%.
  • "Propriety Wine" is a uniquely named wine whose name is the property of the producer.
  • "Semi-Generic Wine" is a wine named for and made in the style of a European geographic district.
  • "Generic Wine" might be something like Red Table Wine
  • "Appelation" of a wine says tells you where the grapes are from.
  • "Alcohol Content" is the amount of alcohol in the wine. Wines with less than 14% may be labeled Table Wine. Over 14% and they are no longer considered Table Wines and subject to a higher tax rate.
  • "Champagne" is a sparkling wine that comes from the Champagne area of France. Three grapes can be used to make Champagne: Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir. It is produced by a technique known as Methode Champenoise. In Methode Champenoise there is more than one major fermentation."
  • "Port" is a fortified wine. Brandy is added to the wine to stop fermentation before the yeasts eat all the grape sugar, thus yielding a sweeter wine and higher alcohol content. Ports get much better with age. Generally don't drink them before they've aged fifteen years.
  • "Dessert Wines" are very sweet wines, usually sold in the smaller 375ml bottles.
  • "Icewine" is a popular category of dessert wine. Eiswein, as it is officially know, is produced by leaving the grapes on the vine until they start to become raisins and until they freeze. It is an extremely sweet, intense, luscious wine.

What are the best wine and food pairings?

Wines and foods can be matched up perfectly. There is a wine that pairs up well with every meal. A wine and food match section will be availabl esoon at Wine Surprise. There are so many different combinations that it calls for an individual section. In the interim here are the most popular wine and food pairings:

Wine and Chocolate. Chocolate notes can be found in Cabernet wines and this can make it a decent match. With chocolate you can also try Merlot or Zinfandel.

Wine and Duck. White Hermitage, Pinot Gris, Sancerre or Pouilly Fume

Wine and Roasted Duck: Bordeaux, Cabernet, Australian Chardonnay, California Pinot Noir, Madiran, Cotes de Buzet and Spanish Rioja.

Can I visit wineries to learn more about wines?

Wineries are an excellent place to learn about wine when approached with the proper frame of mind. drunkeness is not a particularly good way to remember much about what you were drinking. Another very important point to remember about tasting at wineries is that you probably aren't tasting the wine the way you would at home. Besides the somewhat crowded, sometimes rushed situations you face in the winery, the bottle might have been open for hours or even days. The key to learning about wines when visitin a winery is take notes, have a good time, and use the dump bucket. Many wineries let you come in and taste their wines free of charge. If you are traveling to a location that has winerier, and we sell their wines, contact us and we will try to arrange a visit to that winery. Remember that our wines are made by smaller wineries so a visit to the winery and vineyards will be a truly unique experience.

What is the proper way to taste wines?

Spittoons and properly placed buckets are used in tastings. If you are tasting different wines, it is perfectly OK to spit out the wine after you finish tasting it. It is also OK to drink the wine when there aren't many wines being served. Just be careful not to get drunk. Friends gathering to try out a number of wines is a good way to learn about wine. Dumping the glass eventually is a good idea just to avoid getting drunk, which will prevent you from learning anything at all. The really serious can also get into blind tastings where the participants do not want to be influenced by the label and the perception of the brand. The best reason for tasting wine under blinded conditions is so that the tasters can judge the wine on its own merits, uninfluenced by any prejudices or expectations. Blind tastings often yield surprising results, such as when an obscure wine is strongly preferred by the tasters over top brand expensive wines that are also in the tasting.

Is drinking wine good or bad for you?

Alcohol can damage your liver. On the other hand, there are studies that the drinking of wine is good for you. wine has proven to protect you from heart disease, perhaps by lowering cholesterol or relaxing the smooth muscles. Some point to those parts of the world where people eat high fat diets, drink lots of wine and live to a very old age. Bottom line is that in moderation, wine is good. In excesses, wine is bad.

Can I have allergic reactions to wine?

Some develop headaches from drinking wine. One of the reasons is that sulfites added by the producer, or that are naturally present in lesser amounts, cause an allergic reaction. Furthermore, it has been suggested that cheaper wines, available in supermarkets, are likely to have more sulfites as a cheap substitute for careful grape selection and winemaking. Sulfites are present in both red and white wines. Another possible allergic reaction is from the anthocyanin pigments which are what makes red grapes red. These are also present in blue cheese. If both cause you problems, you might have an allergy to the pigments. While there are wines that claim to be sulfite free, most people will tell you that this is not possible as sulfites exist in nature on the grape. However, the amount would be less if not artificially introduced. United States law requires that wine with over 10 parts per million of sulfites state on the label that the wine contains sulfites. Solutions suggested are to drink lots of water before drinking the wine. If you think that you are allergic to certain wines, don't drink wine. Wineries that make organic wines produce some wines that claim to be sulfite free. Try those and see if you really are allergic to sulfites.

How many calories are in a glass of wine?

Most of the calories in wine come from the alcohol, though some additional calories come from the fruit used to make the wine. Since some wines are more dry than sweet and they have less sugar, those wines have less calories. Also, wines vary in alcohol content, which also affects the number of calories from alcohol. A glass of wine has about 85 calories while a glass of dessert wine has 135 calories. In any event, a pretty good rule of thumb is that table wine has approximately 25 calories per ounce. When cooking with wine, you can end up boiling out the alcohol. The result is that the calorie impact from the wine is drastically reduced.

If I am pregnant can I drink wine?

Heavy alcohol use in pregnancy can lead to birth defects. Some doctors feel that the safest course is not to drink any alcohol at all during pregnancy. Others feel that light, occasional drinking of wine has not been shown to be harmful. Some even feel that very moderate wine consumption might be healthy for the mother, therefore healthy for the baby. Bottom line is to check with your doctor.

Can wine help me go to sleep?

The general consensus is that alcohol might help you fall asleep but you'll be up in the middle of the night. A warm glass of milk seems to be a better idea.

Does wine contain lead?

Some people are concerned about high levels of lead in wine. A possible reason is that the high acidity levels in wine help to cause lead to leach out of things that it touches. Lead foils at the top of the bottle have all but disappeared from new bottles of wine for this specific reason. You can wipe the top of a bottle with a damp cloth before pouring it if you have an older bottle with a lead foil. There is some reason to believe that lead can be leached out of lead crystal glasses. It is probably a good idea to not use crystal decanters to store wine for long periods of time.

Can I bring wine with me if I am travelling into the United States?

You are allowed to bring back with you into the U.S. some 2 bottles of wine duty free before you have to pay extra duty. After that, a 10% flat rate applies for the first $1000 above the $400 duty free limit allowed. You must carry the wine with you and you must be over 21 years of age. Mailing or shipping it back requires an importers license.

What is Kosher wine?

Kosher wines are made under Rabinical supervision. They are generally sweetened and some have artificial flavors. This is not to say that all kosher wines are sweetened or have artificial flavors, but most found in supermarkets do. There are some great kosher wines that are not artifically sweetened or flavored. They are made in Israel under strict rabinical supervision.

How can I make a wine cooler?

Take Two bottles of red wine, 1 container of frozen orange juice concentrate, several cinnamon sticks and several whole cloves. Mix it up, chill and serve in a punch bowl with strawberries on top. Add soda water to make it weaker and bubbly.

LEGAL NOTICE: The answers provided herein are for entertainment purposes only and does not purport to provide advice. If you require medical, legal or other professional advice, please consult the appropriate professional. Wine Surprise does not accept any liability for consequences arising from the information contained herein.

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