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Please educate me on Wine

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
I am interested in using wine to cook, and I would like to know a little more about the different flavors and MO's of different wines.

I have kinda been sampling different wines lately, trying to figure out what will go with what. Some are obvious, but some I can't tell the difference.
Merlot vs. Cab Sav(don't wanna try to spell it)?


What does all this mean? My uncle used to make wine out of anything. Mainly fruit. That doesn't classify as "wine" I know. I'm a beer drinker by trade, but I would like to know a little more about the finer wines. Especially cooking with the stuff.

Thanks, Slim
post #2 of 13
If you haven't already done so, browse through the forum postings here in the 'Pairing food and wine' section. There should be some information there to get you headed in the right direction, though a fair bit of it assumes one already has a bit of knowledge on the subject.

Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
post #3 of 13
Many, if not most, wines are made from fruit, the most common fruit probably being grapes.

post #4 of 13
Well the main difference is Cab Sav is made in Oak, so you can taste the oaky flavor, its also got more tannis(the skin from the grape) which makes it a little more bitter and dry, and its usually got a peppery taste. The merlot is not ages in oak, has less tannis and is not as full bodies as the Cab Sav.

Sherry, I dont really consider as wine, its basically a wine where some of the water has been evaporated to make it have more alcohol. You wouldn't really want to drink a glass of that with dinner.

A good way to see the difference is line up 3 glasses:
1st Glass: Pinot Noir
2nd Glass: Merlot
3rd Glass: Cab Sav
drink in order

You can view my general rules of thumb here:
post #5 of 13
This thread will get better exposure in the Food and Wine forum.
post #6 of 13
This is a very deep subject. Too deep to be answered by a post, or by a thread. I suggest going to a site dedicated to wine, poking around the forums and asking your questions there.

Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are different wine varietal species of grapes. They have different taste and aging characteristics. What the vintner does on the way to getting them into the bottle depends on the vintner. Although I hate to disagree, most good Merlots are, in fact, aged in oak.

Cabernets are known for their ability to handle long periods in oak, i.e., barrel aging. Typical wine tasting cliches (true cliches) regarding Cabs are "pepper," "eucalyptus," "raspberry," "mint," "chocolate," and "raisin." (The last from an intentional, slight over-ripening.) Cab blends well with other grapes and, indeed, is often blended with Merlot. Cab, Merlot and Franc is the basic Bordeaux blend.

Merlot usually produces a softer, fruitier and less complex wine than Cab. It's reasonable to say that pure Merlot doesn't have quite the affinity for oak that a Cab does. Most of the wine tasting cliches related to Merlot refer to its fruit notes. When Merlot is blended with other grapes, it is seldom the dominant note in the blend. Merlot is currently very trendy, over-produced and made into wines not really suitable to the grape's character -- much as happened to Chardonnay in the previous decade. I'd be careful spending too much on age. Merlot really doesn't have the legs.

Sherry is a fortified wine made in an area of Spain called Jerez de la Frontera. The word "sherry" is a corruption of "Jerez." Indeed the wine is referred to as Jerez in the non-English speaking world. Sherry is made in a special type of winery called a solera. There the young wine is mixed with a little brandy to make it stronger, then progressively aged and blended. Some varieties are sweetened. In America we usually think of sherry as sweet. But in fact, most sherries are rather dry. The three driest varieties from sweetest to driest are Amontillado, Manzanilla and Fino. Again, at risk of seeming disagreeable, these are appropriate with food. All three with appetizers and the second two with any number of foods -- if you are of a mind. FWIW, when drinking as an aperitif, the drier sherries are best with a little chill on them.

A good sherry is a wonderful thing. A great sherry is a revelation. .

post #7 of 13
I can stomach an Amontillado (can anyone say Beemster XO?) but a Fino... Gah... I really did try, but I just can't get past the boot-juice thing. Come to think of it I'd rather down a couple of ounces of good quality Jerez vinegar. :D

BDL, good insight as usual. The mint and eucalyptus thing you refer to above, it should be noted they are particularly pronounced in some Aussie Cabs. Must be all the eucalyptus-loving koalas doing you-know-what in the vinyards... I always considered the one common element in most cabs, regardless of where they are from is black current/ black berry. With age it becomes less obvious as flavours become rounder and tannins soften. The one grape that varies widely from one region to another (or even from one parcel of land to the next) is pinot. Pinot takes on terroir characteristics more that any other grape.
post #8 of 13
The drier the better says I. But the drier the colder, too.

Well, raisin - currant - same diff. "Blackberry," you're right.

Oh jeeze! You want to bring up different varietals? We barely touched on the three he raised and are already descending into bottomless subtleties.

Oh yeah -- good point about grape being a fruit. A friend of mine made some really wonderful other than grape wines from a variety of fruit. Dry, full bodied, complex... just wonderful.

post #9 of 13
If you want to study the depth of Merlot, you must study the appellation of Pomerol in Bordeaux.

Also, to understand cooking with wine, one must start to understand how different cooking methods almost dictate the wine to cook with as well as drink.

Take these cooking methods and think about an appropriate wine, and why.

1. Poaching
2. Steaming
3. Sautéing
4. Pan-frying
5. Stir- frying
6. Deep frying
7. Roasting
8. Braising
9. Broiling.
10. Baking
11. Grilling

Now apply a fillet of salmon to those methods and consider how entirely different the finished dish could be as far as flavor,aroma,texture,visual,color etc.

What wines should be used for cooking and why? What wines would better suit to method and why?
Baruch ben Rueven / Chanaבראד, ילד של ריימונד והאלאן
Baruch ben Rueven / Chanaבראד, ילד של ריימונד והאלאן
post #10 of 13
I don't drink, and cook with wine only rarely, yet CC's post was excellent for provoking thought and learning.


Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
post #11 of 13
Please post the answers.

I would have to say:
1. Poaching = Pinot Grigio
2. Steaming = Sav Blanc
3. Sautéing = Charddony
4. Pan-frying = Charddony
5. Stir- frying = Zinfandel
6. Deep frying = Charddony
7. Roasting = Merlot
8. Braising = Reisling
9. Broiling. = Merlot
10. Baking = Pinot Nior
11. Grilling = Cab Sav
post #12 of 13
Thread Starter 
Thanks. :rolleyes:
post #13 of 13
Thread Starter 
Once again, Boar D Laze, you have come through with some good info. Thanks to the rest of you too (most of you). I'm gonna have to try a few things now.


And then, of course, cook it up.

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