Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Stress Free Wine Tip #4: Wine in a Restaurant -- Part 1

Wine Tip #4:  Restaurant Wine -- Part 1

Ordering wine in a restaurant can be a very different thing from buying it in a store. Not only is it a lot more expensive, you're expected to evaluate it when the server opens it up. What is all that about anyway?  Many people have--understandably--gotten the impression that that taste they give you is to see if you like the wine.

It Doesn't Have to Be Like This, You Know.

In fact (not to add more pressure) you are expected to either ask advice from the server, or know the choice on your own. Giving you a taste of the wine for approval is to make sure that the CONDITION of the wine is acceptable to the person who ordered the wine. The word "condition" refers to the presence or absence of flaws in the wine, not to whether you like the wine's style (flavors, body, intensity, etc...) or not. Once you have agreed that the bottle is in fact the one you intended to order, you are taking responsibility for that bottle... ...UNLESS it is actually flawed somehow. In that case, the restaurant will get you a new bottle or something different.

So this shine a light on the fact that learning to spot flaws can be a pretty important thing if you plan to eat out in restaurants a lot. We'll cover some of these flaws in future articles.

 -- Marc Soucy, FWS CSW
Marc Wine Blog

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Stress Free Wine Tip #3: Keep Some Wine On Hand

Wine Tip #3:  Keeping Wine on Hand

This time of year, people are starting to plan to be outdoors: maybe that first backyard barbecue of the season, maybe just a get together with friends. The weather can get quite warm one day, and still a bit frigid on others. Are you going to grill some tuna or a steak? Burgers or salads...or both?  Let's be honest, maybe you just want to stay in and keep warm. You still want wine though right?

We can get into the art of pairing wine with food at a later date. It's a fairly complex process, however fun and satisfying. For now let's assume you want a good variety of wines to suit any situation and to satisfy the tastes of friends and guests. And what do you bring to someone's home when you don't know what they'll have to eat?

Generally speaking, consider keeping a few bottles of various types of wine in your home. You'll save on time and travel, plus have something to grab anytime. Just keep them in the coolest part of your home, and away from sunlight. Chill whites and rosés a couple of hours ahead of time instead of keeping them in the fridge indefinitely. Cheers!

 -- Marc Soucy, FWS CSW
Marc Wine Blog

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Stress Free Wine Tip #2: Rosé Season

Wine Tip #2:  What's "Up" With Rosé Anyway?

Rosé: that strangely feminine looking wine is growing in popularity by leaps and bounds in the United States, even among men. Preconceptions and prejudices are gradually falling by the wayside as more and more wine drinkers discover the truth: Rosé is one of the most versatile and refreshing forms of wine. On those 90 degree days, Rosé can be the antidote. They go with burgers, salads, grilled seafood...and of course alone as a cocktail.


Wine makers in southern France have been making Rosé wines for nearly a thousand years. It is in short, a white wine made from red grapes. It is NOT a blend of red and white wines. Today, every wine producing country turns out some Rosé. They are typically quite dry (though fruity), and range in flavor from light and airy to near fruit juice like intensity. Though the flavors seem subtle, this is part of the truly refreshing nature of Rosé wines.  

Be sure to use my search engine for several articles about Rosé wines.

-- Marc Soucy, FWS CSW
Marc Wine Blog

Monday, June 15, 2015

Stress Free Wine Tip #1: Sauvignon Blanc

Wine Tip:  Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc is America's second favorite white grape. Many lovers of this wine don't know how many forms it actually comes in, and how broad your options are. France (Loire Valley & Bordeaux), California, New Zealand, and Chile are major producers. They vary a lot in style and flavor, with zesty citrus being the one constant. 


To explore this summer-perfect wine, try these unique selections: a white Bordeaux, a Sancerre, a Marlborough New Zealand Sauv Blanc, or compare the various styles that come out of northern California. We love Sauvignon Blanc! Just ask us for our favorite picks next time you come in!

 -- Marc Soucy, FWS CSW
Marc Wine Blog

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Marc Wine Blog -- Upcoming Entries Will Be Basic Learn About Wine Posts

Information about wine can come in many ways, and represent many levels of experience.

This blog has always been about getting you more comfortable with a variety of wine concepts.

Time is precious. 

So many of the upcoming entries will be about basic concepts and ideas about the world of wine.

More advanced posts are upcoming also. 

Things just take time. 

I hope you'll hang in there with me, and keep visiting.


 -- Marc Soucy, FWS CSW

Marc Wine Blog

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Marc Soucy's MarcWine.com Blog continues...

Marc Soucy's Ongoing Wine Mini Series will Continue Soon!

"Ordering Wine in A Restaurant"

"European Wine Regulations"

"Learn Wine Tasting"

"Serious Wine for Beginners"

"Wine Grape Varieties"

new excerpts from Marc's "Stress Free Wine" 

and ongoing wine reviews with tasting notes

as well as individual posts about wine related topics

As always, stay tuned!

I'll be writing again soon.......

 -- Marc Soucy, FWS CSW

Marc Wine Blog

Thursday, February 19, 2015

European Wine Regulations : Are They As Rigid As American's Imagine?

European Wine Regulations -- Part 1   

Some American wine drinkers seem to imagine that wine production in Europe is highly controlled in a way that would be unimaginable here. There are certainly more regulations in Europe, but the reality is not very close to what people imagine it is. I have to laugh a little inside when I hear comments along these lines, because to allow one's limited understanding of political realities cloud our opinions about something so enjoyable as wine is to limit our own potential. Life is too short. Shedding a little light on how and why Europeans regulate wine production is in order. I'll try to cover a few topics in this new mini-series. (I promise I won't forget my other miniseries that are already in progress. ;)

The Italian Version of the Two Main Tiers of Wine Characterization:
Note that the old word "Controllata" Has been replaced with "Protetta"
Protected rather than Controlled. Seems more benign, yes?

Let's take a single example to illustrate:  red Bordeaux -- France's #1 wine region by volume

What defines a wine being called "Bordeaux" is a combination of the grapes' zone of production--that is the location of the vines themselves--and the grapes that can be picked from to make the wine. Bordeaux wines are overwhelmingly blends of different grapes. The weather in Bordeaux has led winemakers there to become some of the world's greatest blenders, choosing the grapes according to ripeness and "phenolic maturity" (a fancy term for flavor intensity). These factors are very much affected by the weather throughout the growing season. One season's underripe Cabernet Sauvignon for example, might be compensated for with some exceptionally ripe Merlot that grew nearby. The grapes vary a lot in how they evolve on the vine, and good wine makers know how to make adjustments. The rules they play by?

The Epitome of French Château-ness

For Red Wines:  

Merlot  It's safe to say all Bordeaux reds have Merlot in them. Merlot is far and away the most widely grown grape in Bordeaux. (Keep in mind that Merlot grown in France does not produce the same types of wines as it does in say, California.)

Cabernet Sauvignon  Considered by Americans to be the "important" grape because of its reputation, it is often more of a very effective blending grape for the more dominant Merlot in a great many Bordeaux wines.

Cabernet Franc  This #3 grape plays a big role mainly on the right bank where it enhances their Merlot with unique characteristics. 

Petit Verdot   Fairly often used to add another dimension, though usually in very small percentages.

Malbec   Known today as an Argentinean varietal wine, its origins in Bordeaux have become obscured by history. Nearby Cahors still grows a lot, and it is still tolerated in tiny amounts in the Bordeaux blend, though rarely ever mentioned. 

The Bordeaux regulations?  You can use any amount of any of these five grapes. The grapes must be grown in the wine region that appears on the label. Any picture of a structure used on the label must be a real image of the actual house, castle, or shack that you make your wine in. The word "Chateau" is defined as a place where grapes that you use are grown in adjoining vineyards, the wine is made on the premises, and people actually live there. 

That's pretty much it. 

Regulations regarding Grand Cru status have their own rules, but most are simply based on an existing list of properties that earned this status a long time ago. If your wine is simply labeled "Bordeaux" there is an amazing amount of freedom involved in its production. It's only when you start calling your wine by another more elite name--which would command a better price--that the restrictions become more, well restrictive. And those restrictions are largely matters of where the grapes are grown, and very little else. Yields and alcohol levels are mentioned but are easily met. The entire thing is really about consumer protection and "brand" identification. 

If you see a Pauillac, you should be able to surmise approximately what kind of wine will be in that bottle. Otherwise, why would you spend the extra money on a Pauillac?

The complexity of wine regulation in France is mainly based on the fact that all of the many separate wine regions in France evolved on their own over centuries. So, each region today has its own set of regulations that often bear little resemblance to the other wine regions in France. Learning about all this involves a bewildering amount of memorization, so at first glance the whole system seems incredibly complex. If you think of each wine region as though it was a separate country, you would likely find that the wine regulations are fairly simple and straightforward. 

I hope this discussion has provided a different perspective on this topic than you usually encounter. That is always my goal. Stay tuned for more on this later. 

 -- Marc Soucy, FWS CSW
Marc Wine Blog

Marc's Wine Tasting Notes: 2008 Marchesi di Barolo Barolo Tradizione

2008 Marchesi di Barolo  Barolo Tradizione

Cantine dei Marchesi di Barolo, Barolo DOCG, Piedmont, Italy

   Grapes:  100% Nebbiolo     14.0% ABV

Marc's Tasting Notes:

Showing a garnet color with a ruby hue, aromas of hazelnuts, cocoa, vanilla, and licorice fill the nose. A taste brings additional hints of oak, spice, and tar, with the fruit components remaining center and slightly in the background. Big in structure, the oak tannins have mellowed and play an well integrated role in this very satisfying wine.

 -- Marc Soucy, FWS CSW

Marc Wine Blog
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