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Wine FAQ

Harlingen wine store

At what temperature should I serve white wine?

Most white wine taste better at temperatures somewhat warmer than the average refrigerator (38°) or ice bucket (32°). For lighter-bodied wines such as Rieslings, Loire whites, most Sauvignon Blancs, Chenin Blancs, and real Chablis, 45° is ideal. Fuller-bodied whites such as white Burgundies, chardonnays and dessert wines show best near 55°.


Q. At what temperature should I serve red wine?

Red wines show their best between 55° and 60° with lighter-weight reds capable of handling a chill down to as cool as 48°-50°. Fuller-bodied reds such as Bordeaux, Rhone red, California Cab, Zinfandel, and Australian Shiraz are at their best around 60°.


Q: How should I chill wine?

Forty-five minutes in the refrigerator or 2-3 minutes in a bucket of ice water will cool most reds to a good serving temperature. Remove white wines from the refrigerator a bit before serving and don't keep them immersed in ice water at the table.


Q. How long will this bottle of wine keep after I've opened it?

After dinner wines such as Tawny Ports, Sherry, and Madeira will keep almost indefinitely after the bottle is opened. Because they're intentionally oxidized as part of the maturation process, exposure to a little more air won't damage them or cause any deterioration. Most other wines are not intentionally oxidized during the maturation process. When these bottles are opened, the wine is exposed to air and begins to oxidize. The oxidization that initially takes place is helpful in that it helps the wine release its aromas and flavors. After about two days the wine begins to deteriorate.


Q: What can I do to help the wine last?

If you want the wine to last longer, put it in the refrigerator; cold slows the oxidative process. This can add a day or two to the wine’s keeping ability. The goal is to reduce the amount of air in the bottle.


Q. Can you tell by looking if a bottle of wine is bad?

You can’t always tell just by looking, but there are some key points that you should review before drinking the bottle of wine. Heat is a huge factor. Heat will cause a few changes in the bottle such as: sticky residue around the capsule, a cork that looks like it is trying to push out of the bottle, or a streak of wine running from the capsule, or even corrosion around the edges of the capsule. If you are in doubt about a particular bottle, ask.

Q. What are some of the typical wine flavor profiles?



  • Chardonnay: Butter, melon, apple, pineapple, vanilla.
  • Chenin Blanc: Wet wool, beeswax, honey, apple, almond.
  • Gewürztraminer: Rose petals, lychees, spice.
  • Riesling: Citrus fruits, petrol, honey.
  • Sauvignon Blanc: Gooseberries, citrus, flinty steel, asparagus.
  • Sémillon: Honey, orange, lime.
  • Viognier: Peaches, pear, nutmeg, apricot.


  • Cabernet Franc: Tobacco, raspberry, grass.
  • Cabernet Sauvignon: Blackcurrants, chocolate, mint, tobacco.
  • Gamay: Banana, bubble-gum, red fruits.
  • Merlot: Black cherry, plums, pepper, coffee.
  • Nebbiolo: Leather, stewed prunes, chocolate, liquorice.
  • Pinot Noir: Raspberry, cherry, violets, 'farmyard' (with age).
  • Sangiovese: Herbs, black cherry, leathery, earthy.
  • Syrah: Tobacco, pepper, blackberry.
  • Tempranillo: Vanilla, strawberry, tobacco.
  • Zinfandel: Black cherry, mixed spices, mint.


Q. What about wines that are "corked?"

"Corked" wines are not heat damaged wines or wines with obviously defective or leaking corks. Instead, “corked” denotes a wine that displays a chlorine or wet-cardboard smell and lacks fruit in the mouth. Some producers are using mostly extruded plastic "corks" now to avoid the problem all together. These plastic stoppers are removed with a corkscrew just as a natural cork would be.


Q. What are the rules about serving red wine with some foods and white wines with others?

The only “rule” is that you should drink wines you like with foods you like. Unless you find the pairing offensive, an enjoyable match is a successful match. Match light wines with light foods and full bodied wines with fuller bodied foods. You want to be able to enjoy both and not let one over power the other.

Q. How long should I keep this wine before I drink it?

Most of all wine sold is should be drank as soon as it has been cooled properly. Most wines are made to drink, now. For the small percent of wines that are made to age, the answer is "it depends." It depends on whether you have a suitable place to keep wine.


For long term storage, wine wants a cool (55° is ideal) dark, vibration-free place. If you don't have such a place, only buy what you can enjoy in a year or two’s time. Lighter-weight wines often fade quickly in less than ideal conditions, but fuller bodied wines can with stand a bit of abuse.



Q. At a restaurant, what are you supposed to do when the server hands you the cork?

Don’t sniff the cork. The real proof, though, is in the smell and taste of the wine itself; let your own good taste be your guide.



Q. What does it mean when a wine is sweet or dry?

A sweet wine is one that has a level of residual sugar that gives it a sweet taste. There is no indication of sweetness in a dry wine due to its low level of residual sugar. An off-dry wine is one that is slightly sweet.



Q. Which wine should I serve with dinner tonight?

It depends. To answer this question there are so many variables one must know to provide a worthy answer. What’s your price range? What are you cooking? How is it being prepared? Are there any accompaniments? All these factors bear consideration. The following are two over generalized recommendations, but please fell free to come in and ask us. We will steer you in the right direction.

Pinot Noir (Red Burgundy) makes a versatile match; it works well with everything from grilled salmon to roast beef and is especially good with favorites such as takeout rotisserie chicken, dove and even quail. Pinot Noir can handle smoky, spicy, and salty flavors.

For the safest bet on white wines to go with a broad range of foods, look to Sauvignon Blanc. With its crisp, refreshing fruit and range of flavors, Sauvignon Blanc pairs well with everything from shellfish or pasta with clam sauce to cold fried chicken or Chinese takeout. Sauvignon Blanc is a home run for summer patio sipping.