Q: What is an ice wine?
Ice wine is a specialty wine made from grapes, which have remained on the vines until after the first frost. These grapes have a more intense flavor and sweetness. Because of its intensity, ice wine is drunk as a dessert or after dinner wine in a much smaller quantity. It normally is sold in smaller bottles and tends to have a higher cost — as the harvest is generally smaller as well.

Q: What does “late harvest” mean?
Late harvest refers to when the grapes are removed from the vines. Late harvest grapes have had more time on the vine and have therefore grown sweeter with time, due to a higher concentration of sugar. A wine made from late harvest grapes, such as late harvest Riesling will be sweeter.

Q: What are French Hybrid grapes?
Pennsylvania has great terrain for French Hybrid grapes, such as Chambourcin, Seyval Blanc, Baco Noir, Vignoles, and Marechal Foch. Vinifera (vin-if-fur-ah) grapes come from the old world, primarily Europe, and produce the drier wines many connoisseurs appreciate, such as Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Pinot Noir. All of these different types of grapes grow throughout the state.

Q: How long can I store wine? 
Wine ages in the bottle. Whether it should age for a month or years is dependant on the type of wine. Light, crisp, white or sweet wines generally should be consumed while young – within a year or so. Big, bold reds and some Chardonnays benefit from age. You may want to allow them to age for years.

Q: How long will wine retain its flavor after opening?
Once a bottle of wine is opened, the air immediately starts to affect the taste and smell. If you do not drink an entire bottle, try using a “vacu-pump” device to pull out all the air. Then tightly re-cork the bottle. White wine will usually keep for two to three days after the initial opening; red will keep about three to five days. Remember, you also can use your remaining wine in many recipes! White wine is great over chicken or to stir fry vegetables, etc. Red wine adds great flavor to red sauces, chili and beef fondue.

Q: How should I store my wine?
Wine with a cork closure should be stored on its side to prevent the cork from drying out. Wine with a synthetic closure does not have to be stored on its side, but wine racks are just so handy. Wine likes dark, consistently cool storage areas. Exposure to intense light and heat can ruin a wine.

As a rule of thumb most red wines will benefit from breathing. White wines that have had 12 or more months aging may also benefit from decanting. If you don’t have a proper decanter, use any large mouth glass container. The idea is to expose the maximum surface to the air, to help open up the fruit flavors and develop the wine’s true character.

If a wine has spent up to 12 months in oak barrels allow 1 hour;
24 months allow 2 hours; 36 months, allow 3 hours.
If there is sediment use a filter to decant (a coffee filter works just fine).

Did you know?

  • 20 million acres are planted for grapes worldwide.

  • Among the world’s fruit crops, wine grapes rank#1 in number of acres planted?

  • 164 countries import California wines.

  • 30 million gallons of wine were lost in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.

  • Phylloxera was first discovered in California on 14 augus 1873

  • It take 5 years to harvest a commercial crop from newly replanted grape vines.

  • 10,000 varieties of wine grapes exist worldwide.

  • It cost 80 cents per bottle to age wine in a French oak barrel.

  • It cost 2.25$ per bottle to age wine in only new French oak barrels.

  • The first known reference to a specific wine vintage is mentioned in roman history rated 121 B.C. as a vintage “of the highest excellence.

  • A bottle of opened wine stored in the refrigerator lasts 6-16 times longer than it would if stored at room temp?

  • There are 400  oak species available

  • Only 20 are used in making oak barrels.

  • 5% of an oak tree is suitable for making high grade wine barrels.

  • 54.6% of restaurant wine sales, red wines represent

  • 2.64$ is the average cost of the grapes used to produce a $20 bottle of wine.

  • To prevent a sparkling wine from foaming out of the glass, pour an ounce, which will settle quickly. Pouring the remainder of the serving into this starter will not foam as much.
    Old wine almost never turns to vinegar. It spoils by oxidation.

  • In 1999 Merlot was the “hot” varietal, but 50 years earlier in 1949, the “darling of the California wine industry” was Muscatel.

  • A 1889 newspaper that described the Napa Valley crop as the finest of its kind grown in the U.S., was referring to hops. 

  • Wine has so many organic chemical compounds it is considered more complex than blood serum. 

  • 170 years – the average age of a French oak tree harvested for use in wine barrels.

  • Portugal has 1/3 of the world’s cork forests and supplies about 90% of the cork used in the U.S.

  • Beaujolais Nouveau cannot be legally released until the third Thursday of every November. In 2003 the date is Nov. 20th. 

  • 20 million acres are planted to grapes worldwide? 

  • Worldwide wine grapes as a crop rank #1 in number of acres planted.

  • 30 million gallons of wine were lost in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. 

  • There are 10,000 varieties of wine grapes worldwide.

  • The 19th century American poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, mentions wine more than 300 times in his works.

  • The soil of the Clos de Vougeot (A vineyard in the Burgundy) is considered so precious that workers are required to scrape it from their shoes before they leave each night.

  • The largest cork tree in the world is known as ‘The Whistler Tree’. This tree is located in the Alentejo region of Portugal and averages over 1 ton of raw cork per harvest. Enough to cork 100,000 bottles.

  • The dye used to stamp the grade on meat is edible. It’s made from grape skins
    During prohibition, a product called the ‘Grape Brick’ was sold across America. Attached to the ‘brick’ of dried and pressed winegrape concentrate was a packet of yeast, and the warning, “Do not add yeast or fermentation will result.”

  • McDonald’s restaurants in some European countries serve alcohol, so parents would be more willing to take their children to them.

  • The Puritans loaded more beer than water onto the Mayflower. 

  • The word “toast,” meaning a wish of good health, started in ancient Rome, where a piece of toasted bread was dropped into wine.

  • Before thermometers were invented, brewers would dip a thumb or finger into the liquid to determine the ideal temperature for adding yeast, giving us the phrase “rule of thumb.”
    In old England, a whistle was baked into the handle of ceramic mugs. When they wanted a refill, patrons used the whistle to get service. So when people went drinking, they would “wet their whistle.”

  • The pressure in a bottle of champagne is about 90 pounds per square inch, about three times the pressure in automobile tires.

  • Junipero Serra is considered to be the “Father” of the California Wine industry, and was responsible for planting grapevines at every one of the 9 missions he established throughout the state.

  • The first fine wine grapes in California were planted in Downtown Los Angeles at the current site of the Union Train Station. Jean-Louis Vignes, a native of Bordeaux planted the vines in 1833

  • The oldest known grapevine in the world is more than 400 years old and located in Yarra, Slovenia. It is carefully pruned every year and shoots are presented as gifts to communities around the world.

    Other Facts

  • Jefferson and wine: From Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West, by Stephen E Ambrose, comes the following historical note. Jefferson took up residence in the President’s House in 1801, after his inauguration as the 3rd President of the United States.

  • “Jefferson ran the place with only eleven servants (Abigail Adams had needed 30!), brought up from Monticello. There were no more powdered wigs, much less ceremony. Washington and Adams, according to Republican critics, had kept up almost a royal court. Jefferson substituted Republican simplicity – to a point. He had a French chef, and French wines he personally selected. His salary was $25,000 per year – a princely sum, but the expenses were also great. In 1801 Jefferson spent $6500 for provisions and groceries, $2700 for servants (some of whom were liveried), $500 for Lewis’s salary, and $3,000 for wine.”

  • Dom Perignon (1638-1715), the Benedictine Abbey (at Hautvillers) cellar master who is generally credited with “inventing” the Champagne making process, was blind.
    Thomas Jefferson helped stock the wine cellars of the first five U.S. presidents and was very partial to fine Bordeaux and Madeira.

  • To prevent a sparkling wine from foaming out of the glass, pour an ounce, which will settle quickly. Pouring the remainder of the serving into this starter will not foam as much.
    Old wine almost never turns to vinegar. It spoils by oxidation.

  • U.S. 1998 sales of white and blush wines were 67% of total table wine sales. Red wines were 33% of sales. At Beekman’s, the best we can calculate (since we don’t track the color of wine sales from Chile, Australia or Spain or of jug wines) is that our sales of white and blush comprised only 45% of total wine sales. Reds accounted for 55%. That’s in dollars, not unit sales. American wines accounted for 47% of our wine sales vs. 53% for imported wines.

  • In King Tut’s Egypt (around 1300 BC), the commoners drank beer and the upper class drank wine.

  • According to local legend, the great French white Burgundy, Corton-Charlemagne, owes its existence, not to the emperor Charlemagne, but to his wife. The red wines of Corton stained his white beard so messily that she persuaded him to plant vines that would produce white wines. Charlemagne ordered white grapes to be planted. Thus: Corton-Charlemagne!

  • When Leif Ericsson landed in North America in A.D. 1001, he was so impressed by the proliferation of grapevines that he named it Vinland.
    Cork was developed as a bottle closure in the late 17th century. It was only after this that bottles were lain down for aging, and the bottle shapes slowly changed from short and bulbous to tall and slender.
    The Napa Valley crop described in 1889 newspapers as the finest of its kind grown in the U.S. was hops.

  • When Mount Vesuvius buried Pompeii in volcanic lava in A.D. 79, it also buried more than 200 wine bars.

  • The “top five” chateau of Bordeaux, according to the 1855 Classification, were actually only four: Lafite-Rothschild, Latour, Margaux and Haut-Brion. In the only change to that historic classification, Mouton-Rothschild was added in 1973.

  • Grapevines cannot reproduce reliably from seed. To cultivate a particular grape variety, grafting (a plant version of cloning) is used.

  • Wine has so many organic chemical compounds it is considered more complex than blood serum.

  • Wine grapes are subject to mold when there’s too much moisture. Tight clustered Sauvignon Blanc, Zinfandel and Pinot Noir are most susceptible to mold. The looser clusters of Cabernet Sauvignon allow for faster drying of moist grapes and thus make it less susceptible.

  • In 1945, Chateau Mouton-Rothschild began a series of artists’ labels, hiring a different artist each year to design a unique label for that vintage. The artists have included such notables as Chagall, Picasso, Miro and Warhol. The 1993 label was sufficiently controversial in this country (the stylized juvenile nude on the label offended the Political Correctness Police) that the Chateau withdrew the label and substituted a blank label instead.

  • It is the VERY slow interaction of oxygen and wine that produces the changes noticed in aging wine. It is believed that wine ages more slowly in larger bottles, since there is less oxygen per volume of wine in larger bottles. Rapid oxidation, as with a leaky cork, spoils wine.

  • Before harvest, the canopy of leaves at the top of the vine is often cut away to increase exposure to the sun and speed ripening.

  • The average age of a French oak tree harvested for use in wine barrels is 170 years!
    The lip of a red wine glass is sloped inward to capture the aromas of the wine and deliver them to your nose.

  • “Cold maceration” means putting the grapes in a refrigerated environment for several days before starting fermentation to encourage color extraction. This is being done more and more frequently with Pinot Noir since the skins of this varietal don’t have as much pigmentation as other red varietals.

  • Frenchman Georges de Latour came to America in the late 1800’s to prospect for gold. He didn’t find much gold, but he founded a truly golden winery: Beaulieu Vineyard.

  • Mycoderma bacteria convert ethyl alcohol into acetic acid, thus turning wine into vinegar. However, most incidents of spoiled wine are due to air induced oxidation of the fruit, not bacterial conversion of alcohol to vinegar.

  • The world’s most planted grape varietal is Airén. It occupies over 1 million acres in central Spain where it is made into mediocre white wine, but some quite good brandy.

  • Bettino Ricasoli, founder of Brolio, is credited with having created the original recipe for Chianti, combining two red grapes (Sangiovese and Canaiolo) with two white grapes (Malvasia and Trebbiano). Today the better Chiantis have little or no white grapes in them and may contain some Cabernet. They are thus deeper in color and flavor and more age worthy.

  • From 1970 until the late 1980s, sales and consumption of wine in the United States held a ratio of about 75% white to 25% red. At the turn of the Millennium, the ratio is closer to 50-50.

  • In the year 2000, Americans spent $20 billion on wine. 72% of that was spent on California wines.

  • In ancient Rome bits of toast were floated in goblets of wine. There is a story that a wealthy man threw a lavish party in which the public bath was filled with wine. Beautiful young women were invited to swim in it. When asked his opinion of the wine, one guest responded: “I like it very much, but I prefer the toast.” (referring, presumably, to the women)
    “Cuvée” means “vat” or “tank.” It is used to refer to a particular batch or blend.

  • Beaujolais Nouveau cannot be legally released until the third Thursday of every November. The due date this year (2001) is November 15th.
    We’re seeing more and more synthetic corks these days, but the latest technology to prevent contaminated corks is the use of microwaves.

  •  Labels were first put on wine bottles in the early 1700s, but it wasn’t until the 1860s that suitable glues were developed to hold them on the bottles.
    Top Napa Valley vineyard land sells for over $100,000/acre!
    In the year 2000, there were 847 wineries in California.

  • Wine is often called the nectar of the gods, but Sangiovese is the only grape named after a god. Sangiovese means “blood of Jove.”

  • Ninety-two percent of California wineries produce fewer than 100,000 cases per year. Sixty percent produce fewer than 25,000 cases.

  • Egg whites, bull’s blood, and gelatin have all been used as fining agents to remove suspended particles from wine before bottling. Egg whites are still commonly used.

  • “Brix” is the term used to designate the percentage of sugar in the grapes before fermentation. For example, 23° brix will be converted by yeast to 12.5% alcohol, more or less, depending on the conversion efficiency of the strain of yeast used.
    In describing wine, the term “hot” refers to a high level of alcohol, leaving an hot, sometimes burning sensation.

  • In the production of port, the crushed grapes are fermented for about two days. Then the fermentation is halted by the addition of a neutral distilled spirit or brandy. This raises the alcohol level and retains some of the grapes’ natural sugar.

  • American wine drinkers consume more wine on Thanksgiving than any other day of the year.
    As of 2000, 554,000 acres in California were planted to grapevines.
    “Still wine” does not come from a still. The phrase refers to wine without bubbles, which includes what is also referred to as table wine.

  • Fiasco [fee-YAHS-koh]; pl. fiaschi [fee-YAHS-kee] – Italian for “flask.” The word is most often connected with the squat, round-bottomed, straw-covered bottle containing cheaper wine from the Chianti region. The straw covering not only helps the bottle sit upright, but protects the thin, fragile glass. Fiaschi are seldom seen today as the cost of hand-wrapping each flask for cheaper wines has become prohibitive, and the more expensive wines with aging potential need bottles that can be lain on their sides.
    As early as 4000 BC, the Egyptians were the first people to use corks as stoppers.
    The wine industry generates 145,000 jobs in California.
    California has 847 wineries. Napa County is the home of 232 of them.

  • Market research shows that most people buy a particular wine either because they recognize the brand name or they are attracted by the packaging. Not Beekman’s customers!
    Portugal has 1/3 of the world’s cork forests and supplies 85-90% of the cork used in the U.S.

  • There are only three legal categories of wine in the U.S.: table, dessert, and sparkling. In the early 1950s, 82% of the wine Americans drank was classified as dessert wines. These included Sherry, Port, and Madeira. I don’t have current national figures, but  Beekman’s sales of wine today are 90% table wine, 7% sparkling wine, and only 3% dessert wine!

  • Until 1970, Bordeaux produced more white wine than red. Today red wine represents about 84% of the total crop.
    California produces approximately 77% of the U.S. wine grape crop.

  • There is at least one commercial winery in every state of the United States, including Hawaii and Alaska!
    Putting ice and kosher salt in a bucket will chill white wine or Champagne faster.

  • The most popular corkscrew, the wing-type, is cheap and easy to use, but it frequently mangles corks and leaves small pieces of cork in your wine. It also tends to pull out just the middle of an old, dry cork. Far superior are the Screwpull, which is also easy to use, and the waiter’s corkscrew, which requires just a little know-how to use effectively. No matter what type you use, you should also have a two-pronged (Ah-So) device to remove problem corks.

  • Zinfandel first appeared in the United States in the 1820s when Long Island nursery owner George Gibbs imported several grape vines from the Imperial collection in Vienna. One of the vines was Zinfandel. (The current thinking is that Zinfandel originated in Croatia where it is called Plavac Mali.) In the 1850s, Zinfandel made its way to California.

  • An Italian white wine called Est! Est! Est! got its name from a medieval story. A bishop was planning to travel the Italian countryside and asked his scout to find inns that had good wines, marking the door “Est” (“It is” or “This is it”) when he found one. The scout was so excited about the local wine found in the area that he marked one inn’s door “Est! Est! Est!” Another version of this story is that a priest was on his way to minister to a congregation in the boondocks. Upon discovering the wonderful local wine, he sent the message “Est! Est! Est!” back to Rome, renounced the priesthood, and spent the rest of his life enjoying the wine.

  • The auger or curly metal part of a corkscrew is sometimes called a worm.
    Graves is thought to be the oldest wine region in Bordeaux.

  • The Puritans loaded more beer than water onto the Mayflower.

  • In terms of acreage, wine grapes rank #1 among all crops planted worldwide.
    Although “château” means castle, it may also be a mansion or a little house next to a vineyard that meets the requirements for winemaking with storage facilities on its property.

  • Château Petrus is the most expensive of the Bordeaux wines. Its price is as much due to its tiny production as to its quality. Petrus is made from at least 95% Merlot grapes.
    The Egyptians were the first to make glass containers around 1500 B.C.

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