Top 10 Most Asked Wine Questions (With Answers!)

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By Courtney Cochran

Ask.com, that fount of Internet-based info dedicated to answering every pressing question site visitors can dream up (top searches in '09 included What is Twitter?, What is the meaning of life?  and - not kidding - What is Miley Cyrus' phone number?), kindly shared with us their top ten most frequently asked wine questions.  And since we figure we know a thing or two about that topic, at least, we took a pass at answering these burning vinous questions.  

Miley's number, however, is another story. 
1. How many calories are in a glass of wine?
Size is really the issue here.  The USDA defines a standard glass of wine as around 5 fluid ounces (there are about 25 ounces in a standard sized wine bottle), and says each ounce contains about 20 calories.  So that's 100 calories a glass - not too bad, really, though if you start knocking back several at a time - or super-size your pour - you may want to start counting.  
 
2. How do I make wine?
Essentially, to make wine you take grapes, crush them to release their juices and allow either naturally airborne yeasts or cultivated yeasts to convert the grapes' sugar into alcohol. This process is called fermentation, and its result - along with a host of winemaking bells and whistles often initiated along the way - produces what we know of as wine.  If YOU making the wine is crucial, you may want to look into a custom crush facility, at-home winemaking device or harvest bootcamp "vacation."
 
3. What is port wine?
Port is a fabulously rich, sweet and highly alcoholic fortified wine made in the Douro Valley of northern Portugal.  Because winemakers add brandy to Port, its alcohol content clocks in closer to 20% than most wines' standard 13%.  The addition of spirit stops the conversion of sugar during fermentation, so the resulting wine is both higher in alcohol AND sweeter than other wines.  Try this usually red sticky with Stilton cheese, chocolate and other sweet treats.     

4. How many bottles of wine are in a case?
A standard case of wine contains 12 750mL bottles.  It weighs around 30 to 35 pounds, and is most often packaged in cardboard.  Sometimes retailers will offer "mixed case" or even non-mixed case discounts, which are essentially incentives to encourage you to buy 12 bottles in a single visit (in the case of the mixed case you can select any 12 wines to include). These offers can be worth searching out if you like to buy in bulk-just be prepared to lug the case once you've bought it.
 
5. What is marsala wine?
Marsala is both a wine and a place - the latter being a town in western Sicily, the island south of Italy that's part of the same country.  There, Marsala wine is made in a fortified style, like Port, so the wines have relatively high alcohol levels and can be produced in gold, amber or ruby versions that are alternatively dry, semi-dry or sweet, depending on the whim of the producer.  Inexpensively made versions of Marsala are often used for cooking.
 
6. What wine goes best with chicken?

Alas, there is no one-wine-fits-all answer for this question.  Because chicken is a fairly mild-tasting meat, food pundits would insist we look to the sauce for our guide on wine selection.  Citrusy sauces (think lemon-butter) will pair well with citrusy Sauvignon Blanc or neutral Pinot Blanc, while heavier cream-based sauces call for a heavier white, like oaked Chardonnay. Chicken with red sauce calls for red wine, while fried chicken - of all things - pairs best with Champagne.
 
7. Who is the god of wine?
Depending on who you ask, the god of wine is either Dionysus (so say the Greeks) or Bacchus (the name the Romans later ascribed to the same deity).  Besides being the patron ruler of winemaking, Dionysus is also known as the god of agriculture and the theater, and was said to assist men in freeing themselves from themselves - often through the consumption of wine (hence his other nickname, Eleutherios, the Liberator).  As for some modern drinkers' assertions that Randall Graham is actually the god of wine, we have no comment.       

8. How long does wine last once opened?
Wine, left open to the ills of oxygen, will spoil as early as within a day.  Happily, the spoilage rate may be slowed by the tannic makeup of the wine (reds will last longer thanks to tannins' preservative powers) and temperature (wines kept at lower temperatures will also last longer).  Re-corking and keeping a wine in the refrigerator will extend its life for up to 3 days, and removing the oxygen from the bottle first with the likes of VacuVin wine savers can preserve it for up to a week.  

9. How do I remove red wine spills from carpet?
The task of removing red wine from carpet is up there with getting an uncomfortable dental procedure - definitely not fun!  Still, if the swill's been spilled, look for soda water or salt in your cabinet - both have been known to help rid carpet of red wine - or, if you're able to plan in advance, stock up on a product like Wine Away that's tailor-made for erasing wine stains.

10. What is the best way to open a bottle of wine?
Depending on the type of closure your bottle's sporting (options include traditional corks, synthetic corks, screw cap closures and wax closures), you'll need the right tool to get the job done.  A traditional waiter's corkscrew comes with a knife for cutting through foil and wax and a "worm" and lever for removing corks, making this inexpensive multifaceted tool our pick for opening most wines.  

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3 Comments

For Courtney or Anyone Else who can respond: Where Oh Where are the heavily oaked Chardonnays of yesteryear? I'd prefer $10-$20 range responses...thanks.

when receiving a wine delivery what details must you check?

I would like to know what are the driest to sweetest white wines and same for reds, please list driest to sweetest varieties. Thanks so very much. Carole

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