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Readers ask about aerators, pinot gris and pinot grigio
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WINE OF THE MONTH

The wine: Tempra Tantrum 2009

The grapes: 60% tempranillo, 40% cabernet sauvignon The source: Tierra de Castilla, Spain

The verdict: As much as I dislike cutesy, trendy names for wines, I chuckled over this one. The name, of course, is a play on the tempranillo grape, one of Spain's great red wine grapes. This is a non-traditional blend, which the producers can get away with because where the grapes are grown and the wine made is not in an established "denominacion de origin," or legally defined and controlled production area. I sampled this wine in mid-October and, while I thought it needed a few more months of bottle aging, it showed well. It's a medium-bodied red with dark fruit flavors and soft tannins. There's a twin brother to this wine, made from a blend of tempranillo and shiraz - also called Tempra Tantrum. I prefer the one with the cabernet. Both should be showing up on store shelves any time now.

The price: About $12.

 

It’s that time again; time to answer some of the questions I’ve received from readers of this column (I heard from all three recently) and from students in my wine appreciation classes.

As I’ve said before, there are no stupid questions ... except the ones you do not ask.

Question:

Answer:

There’s a conundrum at work here. Exposure to air is what begins the death cycle of a wine. Think of that bottle you did not finish with the meal three days ago and corked to finish tonight. That wine has acquired different flavors over those three days because of air in the bottle. Eventually oxygenation becomes oxidation, causing the wine to fall apart; the fruit flavors will drop out, and it will not be pleasant.

But a touch of extra air actually does good things for a fresh wine. If, for example, you’re pouring an elderly (10 years or older) red wine, traditionally you would either decant it or pour the servings into glasses 20-30 minutes before serving. Both accomplish the same goal: Oxygenating the wine the bring out the flavors and aromas.

While the aerators do seem to work, I’m not going to buy any. I’m of Scottish descent and too cheap to spend money on something I don’t need. I’ll continue to decant.

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Randall Murray is a Gainesville-area resident. He can be contacted at murrwine@aol.com.

 

 

There were summer nights when we lived in South Florida when a glass of white zin was the perfect refresher during a spell in the Jacuzzi. I won’t make fun of white zin because if I do, I make fun of folks who really enjoy it. There are vast quality variations in white zinfandels. Some are borderline sweet with not much fruit structure – Kool Aid with a kick. Others are borderline dry, with some characteristics of good dry rose wines. I would not serve any of them with a meal, but with sliced fruit and light cheeses, white zin can be quite tasty.
A few weeks ago a wine-loving friend shocked me by offering me a glass of white zinfandel. I’ve always thought of white zin as fruit juice with some alcohol; not a serious wine. What do you think of white zinfandel?
Not a whole lot. Those are the names of the grapes making this country’s most popular white wines, and they basically are the same grape — the gray pinot. "Gris" is the French word for "gray" and "grigio" is the Italian equivalent. While there are different clones of the pinot gris/grigio grape, where and how these wines are made, not the name, dictate the style of the wine. This grape, I believe, makes better wine when grown in cooler climes, such as northeast Italy or along the northern Pacific coast. Gris/grigio should be dry, crisp, and a tad acidic with hints of light fruitiness. Those characteristics shot this wine up the pop charts, dethroning chardonnay as king of the whites several years ago.
What’s the difference between pinot gris and pinot grigio?
In a word ... mostly. Although I don’t use them, I have tried a couple of these doohickeys in the past several months and have found they do enhance flavors and, to some degree, aromas in a just-poured wine. Most aerators are plugged into the neck of an open bottle and the structure of the aerator "tumbles" the wine as it is poured. That exposes the wine to more oxygen, making the wine taste different from the same wine poured in a straight stream into a glass.
I’ve been reading about devices called wine aerators that theoretically make wine taste better by exposing the wine to more air when it’s poured from the bottle. Do they really work?

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