Some practical wine tips to give you instant wine savvy

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By Staff Brunswick Beacon

Research has proven that drinking a modest amount of wine can lower your bad cholesterol, increase your good cholesterol, lower your blood pressure, increase your bone density, reduce your chances of having kidney stones and increase your memory.

And that’s just to name a few of the advantages being touted by wine in general.

So with that in mind, I decided to list some practical tips that will give you instant wine savvy!

To remove a stubborn cork, put the neck of the bottle under hot water for 10 seconds, which makes the glass expand temporarily so you can easily remove the cork.

If you store opened bottles of wine in the refrigerator, remember wines start to deteriorate and lose flavor in two to three weeks.

Just as you can pop off the top of a carbonated soft drink, put what you can’t drink back in the fridge and enjoy it the next day, you can put uncorked Champagne and sparkling wines in the fridge and they will keep their bubbles for up to 24 hours.

How to avoid

red wine headaches

Histamines are naturally present on grape skins and are present in higher concentration on red grapes than white grapes. So, take an anti-histamine 30 minutes beforehand.

If histamines don’t bother you and you still get a headache, it could be the tannins (preservatives) in red wine. In that case, give up Cabernet and Merlot and drink wines with less tannin like Pinot Noir, Chianti or Beaujolais Villages.

Cooking method determines which

wine to use

When foods are browned via broiling, grilling, baking and roasting, the juices are caramelized. Connect these caramel flavors from cooking with the caramel flavors of wines like Chardonnay and Cabernet.

When foods are cooked in clear liquids-steamed, poached, lightly sauted, or braised-no extra flavors are added, so reach for clear, white wines like Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio and Muscadet; and reds like Barbera from Italy, Shiraz from Australia, Beaujolais Villages and Chinon from France and Merlot or Pinot Noir from Chile.

Let it breathe (red wine)

Before drinking a bottle of red wine, open it up for at least 20 minutes, if not up to two hours.

This gives the wine time to come to the proper serving temperature. The air will mellow out the tannins, making the wine smoother and allow the aromas and flavors to come forth over the tannins.

It is better to decant the wine into a glass pitcher or even into individual wine glasses, as there is more exposure to the air, but any air time is good.

Remember, since the point is to soften the tannins, aerating wine is best used for the big guns like Cabernets, Shiraz and the heavy-hitting Italians.

Don’t worry about the softer Burgundys or Merlots and never bother with the whites.

Cabernet does not go

well with all red meats

Cabernet can give your gums a leathery, “dried out” feeling because it contains a high level of a preservative called “tannin.”

It is great with red meats that are richly-marbled like steak, chops, lamb so that the fat in the meat coats your palate and acts like a buffer against the tannins, making the Cabernet seem softer and more pleasant to drink.

However, it is not a good food wine for lean red meats like filet mignon, tenderloin, London broil and flank steak that have little fat to coat your palate.

These lean red meats taste better with less tannic, fruity reds like Shiraz, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Zinfandel.

Quick guide to food and wine matching dishes

Clams or oysters; delicate fish, pan fired; cold cuts, pates; grilled vegetables; pasta with oil-based vegetable sauces; or fresh cheese go best with: Pinot Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and un-oaked Chardonnays or Chablis.

Crab or lobster boiled, baked salmon or mackerel; roast chicken or turkey; baked ham or roast; pasta with cream sauces or seafood; or Brie and soft cheeses go best with: Pouilly Fume, rich Sauvignon Blancs, all dry Alsace wines except Pinot Blanc, dry white Rhone Valley wines and most Australian and Californian Chardonnays that are un-oaked.

Game birds; roast chicken or turkey; veal scaloppini; pasta or risotto with meat sauces; and pizza go best with: Chianti, Pinto Noir or Merlot.

Beef stews; roast veal or pork; bean-based casseroles with hearty vegetables; roasted vegetables; Parmigiano Reggiano or hard cheeses go best with: Merlot, red Bordeaux, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Rhone Valley red wines or most Syrah-based wines.

Best wines for

Sunday brunch

The acidity of Champagne and sparkling wines cut right through egg dishes and cream sauces (like Hollandaise on Eggs Benedict).

The next best choices are high acid whites like Sauvignon Blanc or Chablis. Their acidity will scour your tongue and cleanse it of the egg yolks and Hollandaise sauce so you can really taste the next bite of food.0

Best wines for Thanksgiving, barbecues and Easter

Spicy, salty and smoky foods and ingredients cry out for wines that don’t add more heat or lots of other flavors. So pass on high alcohol wines that translate to heat in your mouth, like Chardonnay and Cabernet.

Great food wines for spicy, salty, smoky dishes have refreshing acidity that acts like a firefighter to hose down and cool your mouth.

They should have lots of fruit flavor, which translates to a touch of sweetness in your mouth, which softens those spicy, salty, smoky flavors.

Ideal white wines include Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Chablis; red wines include Pinot Noir, Shiraz, Beaujolais Villages and Chinon.

Removing red wine stains

Use a citrus-based stain remover.

Take high acid items like lemon juice or white wine vinegar, mix with water, and then dab the stain.

Use a high acid, un-oaked white wine like Sauvignon Blanc and dab stain.

Norm Harding is a cooking columnist for the Beacon. To send him recipes, e-mail him at nharding@brunswickbeacon.com.