Chilling at Home, Busting Myths
And a cheap and cheerful malbec
Hey, a couple quick hits today because it was an interesting wine week here at Wiz Manor.
Wednesday night, I Zoomed in to a presentation from Wine Access and Decanter called “Debunking Wine Myths!” The panel was led by Vanessa Conlin, a Master of Wine and the head of wine for Wine Access. Panelists included winemakers Carlo Mondavi (yes, one of those Mondavis), Jasmine Hirsch, Dan Petroski, and Brandon Sparks-Gillis, as well as Vincent Morrow, a Master Sommelier and the wine director at PRESS in St. Helena, California.
The panel tackled some of the biggest wine myths, including what if anything does “clean” wine mean. (No shock to me, it’s a meaningless marketing term.) Gluten-free is another buzzword, because guess what, all wine is gluten-free. I asked in the Q&A about organic wine, and that actually does mean something. Ms. Hirsch gave a terrific succinct and knowledgeable definition. Organic grapes must be USDA certified, just like other organic fruits and vegetables at your supermarket. Organic farming means no use of manmade chemical compounds — but non-manmade are OK — and a key aspect is preventing fungal diseases in the vines, rather than attacking them afterwards with more chemicals. Improving soil structure and biological components are also crucial.
Another myth the speakers spent a lot of time on, do the sulfites in wine cause headaches. Mr. Sparks-Gillis said that sulfur is a naturally occurring element, and historically has been the go-to for preserving wine. Sulfites are actually a very tiny element found in a bottle of wine. And while wine bottles are required to print CONTAINS SULFITES on the label, he pointed out that many food products also have added sulfites, like raisins and other dried fruits and processed foods, especially things that have previously been frozen. He wryly noted that fast food French fries have way more sulfites than wine, but no one’s saying we have to stop selling them. And good news: UC Davis is doing crowdfunded research into whether sulfites actually cause headaches! You can contribute here! In the meantime, the good news is if you have chronic headaches, you can try dropping other foods from your diet to see if those help.
It was a great talk, and after listening to Ms. Hirsch speak passionately about organic farming and drop wisdom like, “Natural wine is a spoiled berry in the forest,” I immediately went and signed up for their mailing list.
Speaking of buying wine online, I actually sat and totaled up all the wine I have pending delivery from Turley and Full Pull, and… It was a sobering experience, as it were. Yer girl is done with wine purchases for the year. Except for my required quarterly allotments from William Heritage. And my quarterly Wine Folly wine club. And maybe if something really compelling shows up on the Turley fall list… Le sigh.
Speaking of purchases that are actually going to last a while, say hello to my new little friend!
I haven’t had an official wine fridge since I moved out of my then-marital home in 2014. I’ve also got this big space in my living room that cried out for useful storage. This is the Wine Enthusiast 24-Bottle Compressor Wine Cooler with Upright Bottle Storage. It’s obviously not enough to hold my entire collection, but I wanted a small one up here in the living room to keep a few bottles handy for entertaining. I used the company’s text service to discuss some options, and the salesperson pointed out this one has space for four standing bottles. Perfect for those weeks when I have a few leftover WineWizzes to finish!
I ordered it Monday, it shipped Tuesday, and arrived Wednesday via FedEx. I let it stand for a day to allow any coolant settle back where it’s supposed to be after shipping, as the literature suggests. It’s a single zone chiller (saved a few bucks there), and I chose 58F. It’s a little warm for whites, but I can always pop them in my real fridge if I want, and it’s a decent temp for reds. A few minutes in the glass at room temp will help as well. In the summer, when I’m serving more whites, I can always turn it down.
And the first standing bottle to sit there is Antigal 2018 UNO Malbec. I was picking up some beer to watch the blissfully Tom Brady-free Super Bowl this past Sunday, and I knew my mom would want wine. I was making cheesesteaks, so didn’t want something that would clash. This was on sale by the register for $10. It’s pretty nice for the money, actually! Not oaky at all, and fresh blackberry on the palate. It’s hard to go wrong with Argentinean malbec. I’m keeping this in mind for future party wines.
That wraps up a great wine-filled week here at the Manor. I’ve got a house project next week, and after that’s wrapped up, I can turn my attention to a bigger fridge. Looking at that pending delivery wine list I made in CellarTracker, I’m going to need it. Stay chill, Constant Readers!