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Aaron Munn
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#1 Post by Aaron Munn » December 7th, 2016, 9:26 pm

Hi. I'm about 40 and I live in Florida. I haven't been a regular wine drinker until recently My parents drank wine growing up and I guess that made it not all that cool. I've mostly been a champagne at new years type drinker (in other words, infrequently). When I was younger I'd have an occasional glass of chianti with Italian food, or a beer with pizza. In fact I was probably more a beer drinker, or even sake (I went through a quasi-macrobiotic stage). I went through a phase in my early 30's where I started drinking liquor (I liked ouzo, pastis, anything anise flavored), but I reached a point where I was drinking three or four ounces a day and feeling like crap the next day so I just quit.

Then I got sick in my mid 30's. Fibromyalgia, irritable bowel, and finally, I became gluten and casein intolerant. So of course, I didn't drink anything for years, too sick to even think about alcohol, and quite content to live without it. So I've found now my alcohol tolerance is a lot lower than it was. Especially certain red wines. I drink a half a glass of wine or cider with lunch or dinner, no more than about 5 ounces a day, and I seem to feel fine the next day.

I occasionally drink an American pilsner beer. There seems to be too little gluten in this style of beer to really bother me. I've also tried some beer made from sorghum and it's acceptable. My favorite alcoholic beer is probably Corona. But I really don't see myself as drinking beer as much as wine.

I like buying small quantities of wine, when I can, single servings or tetra-packs. I have some bottles of wine unopened stored in a closet, but here in Florida it is quite warm so I wonder about long term storage (It's about 77F in the house). I don't think the wines are very ageworthy (Two Buck Chuck type wines). I'm also interested in bag-in-box wine, as I've heard that it doesn't spoil as fast as an open bottle and that would be useful since my S.O. is a non-drinker, and I drink so little anyways.

I'm particularly interested in red wine, esp. for the health benefits. But many I have tried haven't tasted very good, esp. the pricier glasses I've tried in restaurants. I tried a French Pinot Noir recently I picked up at Wal-Mart in one of those plastic, ready to drink foil tops and I really liked it, I could see myself drinking more of that. But Pinot Noir is not so common at the price points or storage (?) I am looking for.

It's hard to pair wine with food. I eat mostly Asian food I make myself, or I order Chinese takeout. I've branched out a little into eating rice with Italian style tomato sauces. Or we will get something from the local Hispanic deli (usually chicken and rice). I don't eat a lot of traditional American or European type foods, and restaurants I often go to don't have wine. I haven't found as many red wines that go with Asian food without overwhelming the meal. I tend to think the Chardonnay I've tried works the best for Chinese food - I tried Moscato and sometimes it is just too sweet, and the red's I've tried so far are just overpowering and too dry even with beef or pork (I haven't tried Pinot Noir yet, though).

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#2 Post by Todd F r e n c h » December 8th, 2016, 7:50 am

Aaron, to your last paragraph, Riesling Riesling Riesling!!!! There is a VERY broad array of sweetness, and you'll find that a broad array works incredibly well with Chinese food. Moscato IS too sweet, and doesn't have the acid that you need for food pairings. Have you tried Riesling?
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#3 Post by Glenn L e v i n e » December 8th, 2016, 7:58 am

You have to get to a real bottle retailer and recount your efforts to date in that store. They can begin to steer you from boxes and foil to glass bottles.

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#4 Post by Todd F r e n c h » December 8th, 2016, 8:07 am

Also look for half bottles, but to my former comment on Riesling (since you eat a lot of Chinese take-out), they are typically MUCH lower alcohol than other wines, so you might quickly find yourself enjoying the entire bottle without the aftereffects you experience from other wines. Some are down in the 7-8% abv range, making them HALF what many wines are
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#5 Post by Aaron Munn » December 8th, 2016, 11:30 am

I've never tried Riesling. My mom recommended Liebfraumilch.

My dad gave me a bottle of California Riesling but I suspect at 12 percent alcohol it will be on the extremely dry side.

I really do like lower-alcohol wines, especially for lunch (I seem to metabolize alcohol much better in the evening). Today I tired Franzia Chillable Red, and while it tastes cheap, it's quite acceptable with hot dogs, crackers, and sauerkraut. It tastes like Pinot Noir mixed with a little White Zinfandel (a similar kind of spicy/sour berry flavor). I have no idea how they get it down to 9 percent alcohol, perhaps through some kind of chemical wizardry. But the low alcohol makes it refreshing. A slightly higher quality wine in this style might be worth checking out.

I asked my parents for Christmas for a bottle of Lakeridge Southern Red, which is grown and bottled locally here in Orlando. I don't mind foxy grape flavors, and it looks to be a lower alcohol wine.

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#6 Post by Todd F r e n c h » December 8th, 2016, 12:08 pm

Aaron M wrote:I've never tried Riesling. My mom recommended Liebfraumilch.

My dad gave me a bottle of California Riesling but I suspect at 12 percent alcohol it will be on the extremely dry side.

I really do like lower-alcohol wines, especially for lunch (I seem to metabolize alcohol much better in the evening). Today I tired Franzia Chillable Red, and while it tastes cheap, it's quite acceptable with hot dogs, crackers, and sauerkraut. It tastes like Pinot Noir mixed with a little White Zinfandel (a similar kind of spicy/sour berry flavor). I have no idea how they get it down to 9 percent alcohol, perhaps through some kind of chemical wizardry. But the low alcohol makes it refreshing. A slightly higher quality wine in this style might be worth checking out.

I asked my parents for Christmas for a bottle of Lakeridge Southern Red, which is grown and bottled locally here in Orlando. I don't mind foxy grape flavors, and it looks to be a lower alcohol wine.
Liebfraumilch is WAY too sweet - it's German Moscato
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#7 Post by AJ Thornton » December 8th, 2016, 3:16 pm

Like Todd said, a nice chilled reisling sounds like what you're looking for. Try German reislings (personal favorote). Fairly low alcohol, wide range of sweetness and fairly affordable. Start with a maybe kabinett (kab is the sweetness level) and go up or down in sweetness from there.

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#8 Post by Aaron Munn » December 8th, 2016, 7:44 pm

How does Pinot Grigio compare with Riesling? I'm asking because Pinot Grigio seems a lot more common than Riesling where I live.

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#9 Post by Drew Goin » December 9th, 2016, 3:33 am

I believe that a basic Touraine Chenin Blanc, a low-tannin Italian red from the Lake Garda area, or even a friendly California blend might be a good place to start.

As for grocery store wines, I always received positive feedback from customers on the Beringer or Sutter Home Chenin Blanc. The price is low, so it won't break the bank, either.

A step up would be the Chenin Blanc or Semillon from L'Ecole 41, the various Riesling wines from Château St Michelle - both wineries are from Washington state.

For red wine, the Morellino di Scansano region of Tuscany's Sangiovese wines are usually pretty gentle and offer fresh fruit flavors. Lower acidity reds could include the various inexpensive Monastrell grape wines from the Eastern coast of Spain (like Wrongo Dingo). Château Mont-Redon Côtes du Rhône (very soft, probably neutral oak or stainless steel) and Louis Jadot Pinot Noir or Beaujolais from France could be nice suggestions.

Please try to serve the reds slightly cooler than room temperature, and the whites a good deal warmer than refrigerator temperature! Happy hunting! :)

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#10 Post by Brian Tuite » December 9th, 2016, 6:25 am

Aaron Munn wrote: Today I tired Franzia Chillable Red, and while it tastes cheap, it's quite acceptable with hot dogs, crackers, and sauerkraut. It tastes like Pinot Noir mixed with a little White Zinfandel (a similar kind of spicy/sour berry flavor). I have no idea how they get it down to 9 percent alcohol, perhaps through some kind of chemical wizardry.
By adding water.
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#11 Post by Brian Tuite » December 9th, 2016, 6:29 am

Aaron Munn wrote:How does Pinot Grigio compare with Riesling? I'm asking because Pinot Grigio seems a lot more common than Riesling where I live.
Pinot Grigio is about a benign a white wine as one can buy. Not much of anything going on. This, and its low price tag, make it very popular with non-wine drinkers or new wine drinkers. Riesling varies but generally has high residual sugar making it sweet but also with supporting acidity to make it more balanced and enjoyable.
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#12 Post by Ian Sutton » December 9th, 2016, 11:22 am

Brian Tuite wrote:
Aaron Munn wrote: Today I tired Franzia Chillable Red, and while it tastes cheap, it's quite acceptable with hot dogs, crackers, and sauerkraut. It tastes like Pinot Noir mixed with a little White Zinfandel (a similar kind of spicy/sour berry flavor). I have no idea how they get it down to 9 percent alcohol, perhaps through some kind of chemical wizardry.
By adding water.
There are other techniques e.g. reverse osmosis (used in other situations to increase alcohol / concentration), but 'the black snake' is the easiest, albeit it's use is illegal in most wine appellations.
Normal for Norfolk

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#13 Post by Aaron Munn » December 9th, 2016, 6:08 pm

I have read there are low-alcohol red grapes that can be used (I believe Gamay is one?). I just haven't heard of them being used in mass-market box wine.

The box of Franzia says it is "wine with flavorings". It's my understanding that most low-end wines have various chemical flavorings added routinely. I'm indifferent, as long as it tastes good.

It's strange that it's illegal to add water to wine, especially in the US, where the alcohol content must be on the label.

My mom and I split a bottle of Liebfraumilch today over Chinese food (I did decant some, but let her go home with the rest of the bottle). It was sweet but not as bad as Moscato (mostly all I have tried is Barefoot, which is American grown, but for Thanksgiving I had some Italian Moscato: Cupcake). I really noticed the acidity compared to American-grown white wines I have tried. The bottle was two years old, which seems like old age for a white wine (?). There wasn't a lot of character to it, in fact it tasted very similar to the aforementioned boxed wine. But it seems like good food wine, particularly with spicy food (Kung Pao Chicken and General Tso's Tofu).

Next week I will try a Riesling.

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#14 Post by Travis_Hull » December 10th, 2016, 12:47 pm

I'd give a Beaujolais or an Austrian red (blaufrankirsch, st Laurent, zweigelt) with a slight chill a try. They're good with Chinese food in my experience. Domaine dupueble and Sattler are good producers.

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#15 Post by Aaron Munn » December 11th, 2016, 9:49 pm

I read about Beaujolais recently and I was definitely planning on getting some of that to try this week.

The Franzia Chillable Red doesn't seem to work too well with Chinese food (I tried that today). Heavily vegetabled Chinese food really brings out of the sweetness in a bad way. It starts really reminding me of White Zinfandel in the overt sweet fruitiness. It tastes like something that would be paired with hotdogs, hamburgers, that sort of thing (anything you could drink a coke with), which means it's not very versatile for what I eat.

The Pinot Noir is probably the best red wine I have tried so far and I could see that working with a wide variety of foods. Liberty Creek's Merlot was just OK, it has a tobacco or leather note that doesn't seem to jive well with a lot of foods I eat. Both had a heavy alcohol aroma so I ended up adding a little bit of water to both to try open it up, and it worked.

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#16 Post by Aaron Munn » December 12th, 2016, 6:59 pm

I tried some of the Pinot Grigio that came with the Pinot Noir sample. It has to be one of my least favorite wines. I honestly would prefer drinking water over this stuff. It's almost bone dry and has very little except acidity and chalkiness going on. Very little body, but somehow it masks a surprising amount of alcohol. Which lead me to being a bit loopy, hung over and having a headache (it could be sulfites as well, perhaps?). It's strange because I drank some water with it as well.

It tasted like it was something that would be considered classy or sophisticated, but I just didn't like it. It's just joyless stuff.

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#17 Post by Corey N. » December 12th, 2016, 7:12 pm

Aaron, if you are interested in wine, I strongly suggest you attend tastings at a reputable wine shop. Many have tastings for free or for a nominal fee. Take notes about what you did/did not like about a wine and you'll see patterns emerge (e.g., you like high acidity in white wines or low tannins in reds), but your tastes will almost sure change over time.

It's a fun journey, good luck.
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#18 Post by Ian Sutton » December 13th, 2016, 10:42 am

p.s. in respect of drinking wine for health benefits. I'd be wary of the claims - for and against. Lots of conflicting studies / claims, some undoubtedly with an 'agenda' driving them.

Drink it because you like it and in reasonable moderation. Maybe in 30 years time we'll have a better picture of the effects, but for now I wouldn't treat it as liquid 'superfood'.
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#19 Post by Aaron Munn » December 13th, 2016, 8:39 pm

A wine tasting should be in my near future.

I recently finished reading Mark Philip's Swallow This. It turned out to be a very informative book and clued me into some things. The acidity is probably why I like Liebfraumilch so much, something I hadn't really thought about before reading this book.

I suppose the potential positive health benefit for wine for me could be stubbornly low HDL cholesterol, even though I don't have what I'd consider a bad diet. I've never had a C-reactive protein test, and its my understanding that is much more relevant to heart disease. When my new health insurance kicks in next year I plan to visit a doctor for a physical and do some tests (assuming insurance will pay for them).

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#20 Post by Aaron Munn » December 14th, 2016, 7:24 am

I just got done decanting a bottle of Winking Owl Merlot I bought at the local Aldi's- half went into the freezer, the other half went into single-serving bottles. The last bottle of Merlot I bought, 3 Buck Chuck, I bought at Trader Joe's had a dried out cork and the wine had turned to vinegar. The Winking Owl had a synthetic cork and the wine is good to go. I like it better than the Liberty Creek Merlot in the Tetrapack, which had a leather or tobacco note.

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#21 Post by Brian Tuite » December 14th, 2016, 7:41 am

Aaron Munn wrote:
It's strange that it's illegal to add water to wine, especially in the US, where the alcohol content must be on the label.
It's not illegal in the US mainly because getting grapes ripe is not an issue here. It's illegal in France but adding sugar isn't since getting fruit ripe there isn't always possible. Conversely adding sugar in the US is a no no.
Bob Wood - 1949-2013 Berserker for eternity! RIP

"On self-reflection, I think a big part of it was me just being a PITA customer..." ~ Anonymous Berserker

"Something so subtle only I can detect it." ~ Randy Bowman

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