Q – What temperature should you serve red wine? - Jeanie from Las Vegas

A – The only thing that I actually agree with the French on is this: They say “Americans serve their white wines too cold and their red wines too warm.” I prefer to serve my red wines at 60 degrees or you can put a bottle of red in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes prior to serving it. This will make a huge improvement on the taste of the wine and will get closer to the style profile of what the winemaker intended. At restaurants, once I select a wine I ask them to place it in a cooling unit for 15 minutes, if they do not keep the wine in a climate-controlled environment.

Q – Is wine just really old grape juice?

A – Yes and No. Wine is a fermented form of grapes. Once it is picked, de-stemmed, crushed and place in a blending tank, yeast is added to turn the sugar in the fruit into alcohol. It then ferments which creates that lovely alcohol level of roughly 11-15.5%. It is then placed in a barrel or stainless for storage. White wine will come to market typically about 12 months after picking; with reds it really depends on the varietal or region. If it is 2009 you should never drink a red wine that is a 2008 vintage. Reds are typically 24 months behind your current year. So, good question - Yes, wine is older grapes but it is also so much more.

Q – I am definitely a novice wine drinker. How can I go to a business dinner, order a nice wine and appear to know what I am talking about?

A – If you want to be in charge of any table for at least the first five minutes learn about wine. When I was a novice drinker I would call the restaurant where I would be entertaining and have them fax over the wine selection. I would then talk to my wine confidant who would give me the selection and a short story about the wine. If that is not an option the waiter or sommelier is your new best friend. Ask for a recommendation from the restaurant staff while pointing to wine that is in the price that you are looking to spend. Most wait staff will understand this and will give you a great recommendation. If you do not point to a price they will do one of two things; one, ask you how much you want to spend; then, if you say nothing but PINO (price is no limit) you look like a smuck. Or two, hit you with the most expensive wine on the list. Experts love to find value wines that are also the best wines on the list, not take the approach of give me the Opus One or Silver Oak. While these are great wines, people want to know that you know something and they will love a wine a with a story or something from your personal experience. Good luck.

Q – I am a new wine drinker, what are some wines that are light, smooth and not pink?

A – When in doubt order Chardonnay for white or Merlot for red. If someone gives you a quote from the movie Sideways smack them across the head. No one ever looked foolish for ordering these two varietals. If you are really new at drinking wine I suggest a Pinot Gris or Riesling (dry) for white and I still suggest a Merlot for red, but put it in the refrigerator for about 15-20 minutes to smooth the tannins. If anyone tells you red is supposed to be served at room temperature, they actually know less than you do.

Q – White with what? Red with what? Can you clarify the mystery of food and wine matching? Which wines are most appropriate with different meals?

A – DRINK WHAT YOU LIKE! There are so many wine snobs out there today that it gets confusing, but here are the basics. Drink white with light food, a.k.a. salads, fish and chicken etc. In my book red wines are acceptable with anything, but whites are limited to the lighter foods. Drink reds when it is cold and with hearty foods. The heartier the food the bigger or spicier the red wine I recommend. With lamb and spicy foods I like Pinot Noir and Zinfandel. With other meats and typically anything else I drink red blends and Cabernet.

Q – When smelling a wine, what exactly do I smell for?

A – Smell is the most important part of wine tasting as your nose and your mouth are attached. Don’t believe me..ever had something you were drinking come out your nose? Ok now that we all are believers you smell for 2 things: One that the wine is not bad or corked, which will smell like a wet bag. Two you are enjoying the aroma of the wine that will always enhance the experience of the wine and let more of your senses experience the vino.

Q – When attending a wine tasting, am I supposed to spit the wine out?

A – Depends if you are driving and how trashed you want to get? Seriously, spitting wine is not the most delicate of actions a body is able to do and it will definitely not get you noticed in a positive manner from the opposite sex. I prefer to locate a dump bucket and dump out the excess so I can come back to the wines I really want to enjoy. There is no hero badge for finishing every drink and ending up puking on the floor or hitting on your best friends wife.

Q – Napa, Sonoma, France, Italy, Spain, Chile...What's the difference?

A – You have always heard in real estate Location, Location, Location. Well that is a key component of it based in the growing climate. If you look at the best growing areas they have at least 6 months of constant temperature with limited rain. There are also different styles and techniques driven by different cultures. The one thing I tell people is try them all and see what you like. Every year is different for quality based on the weather in each different region of the world as well.

Q – What is the difference between rosé, blush, zinfandels, cabernet, merlot? And what the heck is a meritage?

A - Zinfandel, Cab and Merlot are actual grape varietals. The rosé, and blush are ways of preparing the wine using different grape varietal and the meritage is a red blend of typically three or more red grape varietal. All wine juice is white. Yes I said all wine juice is white. In order to turn wine a color you have to let the skins of the red grapes sit on top of the wine during fermentation. For instance for a blush or rose' the red skins are only introduced for a short time to extract coloring which also introduces tannins into the wine. That is why there is white zinfandel that is typically sweet and no exposure to skins and red zinfandel that is typically really red and is very tannic.

Q – How do I keep my teeth from turning black when drinking red?

A – Drink white wine….Red wine has tannins from the skins and they will stain your teeth and the inside of your lips depending on how jammy the wine is designed. The only suggestion I have is if you are drinking a red that discolors your teeth initially is after you brush your teeth, tongue and the inside of your lips (yes I said lips) take aspirin and drink 2-3 glasses of water because the tannins in the wine are going to haunt you for the next 24 hours. Tannins attack like a sinus headache and are not fun.

Got a question? Ask the wine expert!