Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why do I get a headache when I drink wine?

    Sigh, that pounding pain in the head after a night of over-indulgence that makes us promise never to repeat. Possible culprits have been pointed to sulphite, tannin and histamine. But only a very small percentage of population is allergic to those substances. In truth, it’s mostly the effect of dehydration. So, remember to hydrate, hydrate and hydrate while enjoying wine in moderation.

  • What is a corked wine?

    A cork that’s tainted by TCA (short for 2,4,6-trichloranisole) can impart a musty wet-cardboard like smell to a wine. And when a wine is tainted by such a cork, it’s called a corked wine. TCA can be caused by phenolic wood preservatives and hypochlorite sterilants used to treat natural cork. A corked wine is an annoyance because the natural aromas and flavors are masked by the musty smell but the wine is completely harmless to drink!

  • Does the age of the vine affect the quality of the wine?

    The benefit of older vines is that their bigger root systems have penetrated more deeply into the sub-soil and are able to pick up minerals and nutrients deep inside the ground. But quality also depends on the amount of fruits produced on each vine. When the number of bunches is limited, flavors and nutrients are more concentrated. Fruit production on vines tend to go down as they age, thus, producing grapes that are concentrated with flavors captured deep within the soil.

  • What’s the best glass?

    Wine glasses come in all shapes and sizes these days. For tasting, the best glass is one that is clear so you can observe the wine visually. On the nose, it must be free of any residual detergent or scent. And finally, it should be big enough so that you may swirl the wine around easily to release its aromas.

  • How do I remove labels?

    There are many different methods and it seems the safest way that yields the best success rate is by soaking the bottle in hot water. Let the bottle sit in hot water for a few hours and continue to check for the glue’s adhesiveness. Once the label is sufficiently loosened by the water bath, start to slowly peel the label off. Sometimes a straight edged razor blade could help to get the peeling started.

  • Should I decant?

    The purpose of decanting varies. Decanting an old wine helps to separate sediments at the bottom of the bottle from being stirred up during pouring motion. Decanting a younger wine will give it more exposure to oxygen, so more aromatics can be released. And of course, decanting bigger bottles can make it easier to serve at the dinner table. So for old wines, we’d say yes to decant. For young wines, it is optional but could be beneficial sometimes especially for full-bodied red’s.

  • Do I have to store my wine in a temperature-controlled cellar?

    It’s important to store wines at a constant 55˚F for long term cellaring. High heat and extreme cold can both cause damage to a wine. But for most of us who like to uncork the bottles pretty soon after purchase, there’s not too much concern for a dedicated temperature-controlled cellar. Just keep the wines away from direct heat source (such as oven or heater) and out of the way of direct sunlight. Just enjoy and replenish frequently.

  • What is the correct cellar temperature?

    The ideal temperature for cellaring is around 14°C.  But do bear in mind that besides temperature, humidity, movement and light also play critical roles.  Humidity level of about 55-75% can maintain balanced moisture for the cork.  For healthy long term cellaring, try to keep wines in a dark, constant temperature and humidity controlled environment and most of all, avoid moving them around frequently.  Let the wines sleep, quietly and undisturbed.

  • Wines in Europe don’t have sulfites, right?

    That’s incorrect.  Sulphur dioxide is important to winemaking because it is an antiseptic, an antioxidant and a preservative.  It is a common chemical used in cleaning winery equipment and is added to juice to control fermentation. A small trace of natural sulphites produced by yeasts is also left in the wine after fermentation typically.  A winemaker may also choose to add more at time of bottling for its antioxidative quality and as a preservative.  The total sulphur dioxide in a wine is regulated by EU law.  But good winemakers always use sulphur dioxide sparingly.

  • Is it Syrah or Shiraz?

    Syrah/Shiraz’s most famous homeland is the Northern Rhone Valley in France where it’s known as Syrah.  It is the basis of notable wines such as Hermitage and Cote Rotie.  Syrah was brought to Australia possibly in the 1830’s from Montpellier by James Busby (the so-called father of Australian viticulture).  Planting of this small-berried black skinned grape has since thrived in Australia where it’s known as Shiraz.  Australia, using Shiraz, has produced a modern style of full bodied deeply coloured wine with lots of black fruits characters and is easy to drink when young.  Nowadays, plantings of Syrah/Shiraz can be found in almost all major wine regions.  Producers these days have often elected to call it Syrah when it is the traditional Rhone style that they are modelling their wines after or name it Shiraz when it’s the fruity easy to drink modern style.

  • What’s the difference between New World and Old World wines?

    Old World is a generalized term used to describe European and Mediterranean countries that were historically under vines and producing wines: France, Italy, Spain, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Hungary, Portugal, Greece, for example.  New World is a term used in contrast to Old World when speaking about regions that have been progressively producing wines since the 1960’s and 70’s.  United States, Chile, Argentina, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand are prime examples.  It also represents a much more technologically minded viticulture and vinification approach as well as a modern style of soft but full bodied wine.

  • How do I read a label?  And how can I tell if it’s a good wine from the label?

    Information on a wine label is legislated by strict regulations.  Name of producer, origin of the wine, vintage, variety, alcohol level are the basics to be shown.  Additional information that could signify quality includes specificity of where the grapes are grown (i.e. vineyard name), or higher quality bottling (i.e. reserve), and information about where the wine is bottled (i.e. estate-bottled).  For the terroir-minded, generally, the more specific or delimited the origin is, the higher quality the wine is.

  • How long will the wine keep after it is opened?

    Wine is perishable and is prone to oxidation.  We usually recommend finishing a bottle within 2-3 days for the best experience.  Any longer, you will start to detect oxidized aromas and disappearance of fruitiness; then the lovely wine in your hand will slowly begin its path turning into vinegar.

Why do I get a headache when I drink wine?

Sigh, that pounding pain in the head after a night of over-indulgence that makes us promise never to repeat. Possible culprits have been pointed to sulphite, tannin and histamine. But only a very small percentage of population is allergic to those substances. In truth, it’s mostly the effect of dehydration. So, remember to hydrate, hydrate and hydrate while enjoying wine in moderation.

What is a corked wine?

A cork that’s tainted by TCA (short for 2,4,6-trichloranisole) can impart a musty wet-cardboard like smell to a wine. And when a wine is tainted by such a cork, it’s called a corked wine. TCA can be caused by phenolic wood preservatives and hypochlorite sterilants used to treat natural cork. A corked wine is an annoyance because the natural aromas and flavors are masked by the musty smell but the wine is completely harmless to drink!

Does the age of the vine affect the quality of the wine?

The benefit of older vines is that their bigger root systems have penetrated more deeply into the sub-soil and are able to pick up minerals and nutrients deep inside the ground. But quality also depends on the amount of fruits produced on each vine. When the number of bunches is limited, flavors and nutrients are more concentrated. Fruit production on vines tend to go down as they age, thus, producing grapes that are concentrated with flavors captured deep within the soil.

What’s the best glass?

Wine glasses come in all shapes and sizes these days. For tasting, the best glass is one that is clear so you can observe the wine visually. On the nose, it must be free of any residual detergent or scent. And finally, it should be big enough so that you may swirl the wine around easily to release its aromas.

How do I remove labels?

There are many different methods and it seems the safest way that yields the best success rate is by soaking the bottle in hot water. Let the bottle sit in hot water for a few hours and continue to check for the glue’s adhesiveness. Once the label is sufficiently loosened by the water bath, start to slowly peel the label off. Sometimes a straight edged razor blade could help to get the peeling started.

Should I decant?

The purpose of decanting varies. Decanting an old wine helps to separate sediments at the bottom of the bottle from being stirred up during pouring motion. Decanting a younger wine will give it more exposure to oxygen, so more aromatics can be released. And of course, decanting bigger bottles can make it easier to serve at the dinner table. So for old wines, we’d say yes to decant. For young wines, it is optional but could be beneficial sometimes especially for full-bodied red’s.

Do I have to store my wine in a temperature-controlled cellar?

It’s important to store wines at a constant 55˚F for long term cellaring. High heat and extreme cold can both cause damage to a wine. But for most of us who like to uncork the bottles pretty soon after purchase, there’s not too much concern for a dedicated temperature-controlled cellar. Just keep the wines away from direct heat source (such as oven or heater) and out of the way of direct sunlight. Just enjoy and replenish frequently.

What is the correct cellar temperature?

The ideal temperature for cellaring is around 14°C.  But do bear in mind that besides temperature, humidity, movement and light also play critical roles.  Humidity level of about 55-75% can maintain balanced moisture for the cork.  For healthy long term cellaring, try to keep wines in a dark, constant temperature and humidity controlled environment and most of all, avoid moving them around frequently.  Let the wines sleep, quietly and undisturbed.

Wines in Europe don’t have sulfites, right?

That’s incorrect.  Sulphur dioxide is important to winemaking because it is an antiseptic, an antioxidant and a preservative.  It is a common chemical used in cleaning winery equipment and is added to juice to control fermentation. A small trace of natural sulphites produced by yeasts is also left in the wine after fermentation typically.  A winemaker may also choose to add more at time of bottling for its antioxidative quality and as a preservative.  The total sulphur dioxide in a wine is regulated by EU law.  But good winemakers always use sulphur dioxide sparingly.

Is it Syrah or Shiraz?

Syrah/Shiraz’s most famous homeland is the Northern Rhone Valley in France where it’s known as Syrah.  It is the basis of notable wines such as Hermitage and Cote Rotie.  Syrah was brought to Australia possibly in the 1830’s from Montpellier by James Busby (the so-called father of Australian viticulture).  Planting of this small-berried black skinned grape has since thrived in Australia where it’s known as Shiraz.  Australia, using Shiraz, has produced a modern style of full bodied deeply coloured wine with lots of black fruits characters and is easy to drink when young.  Nowadays, plantings of Syrah/Shiraz can be found in almost all major wine regions.  Producers these days have often elected to call it Syrah when it is the traditional Rhone style that they are modelling their wines after or name it Shiraz when it’s the fruity easy to drink modern style.

What’s the difference between New World and Old World wines?

Old World is a generalized term used to describe European and Mediterranean countries that were historically under vines and producing wines: France, Italy, Spain, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Hungary, Portugal, Greece, for example.  New World is a term used in contrast to Old World when speaking about regions that have been progressively producing wines since the 1960’s and 70’s.  United States, Chile, Argentina, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand are prime examples.  It also represents a much more technologically minded viticulture and vinification approach as well as a modern style of soft but full bodied wine.

How do I read a label?  And how can I tell if it’s a good wine from the label?

Information on a wine label is legislated by strict regulations.  Name of producer, origin of the wine, vintage, variety, alcohol level are the basics to be shown.  Additional information that could signify quality includes specificity of where the grapes are grown (i.e. vineyard name), or higher quality bottling (i.e. reserve), and information about where the wine is bottled (i.e. estate-bottled).  For the terroir-minded, generally, the more specific or delimited the origin is, the higher quality the wine is.

How long will the wine keep after it is opened?

Wine is perishable and is prone to oxidation.  We usually recommend finishing a bottle within 2-3 days for the best experience.  Any longer, you will start to detect oxidized aromas and disappearance of fruitiness; then the lovely wine in your hand will slowly begin its path turning into vinegar.

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