Q: Can you tell me which is better – a $15 bottle of wine which is rated a 92, or a $40 bottle which is rated a 90?
– Ronald Sklar
A: The $15 bottle certainly is a better value, and those are the types of wines we seek out for the wine clubs of Vinesse. But that doesn’t mean you should turn your back on a $40 bottle with a somewhat lower rating. Any wine that’s rated 90 or higher is among the best made in the world; some wines simply command higher prices as part of the free-market system and the law of supply-and-demand.
Q: I have what may be a dumb question: My wife and I enjoy a glass of good wine every now and again, but often times, we can’t finish the whole bottle. Is there a rule of thumb on how long a bottle of wine will stay “good”?
– Bob Stansberry
A: First of all, Bob, there are no dumb questions in wine. Well, okay, there are… but yours isn’t one of them.
Wine can remain “good” for several days after a bottle is opened, but it will lose a little bit of its “punch” with each succeeding day. In some cases, a wine will actually taste “better” on the second day. (This typically involves a big, bold red, which may need extra time to “open up” and reveal all of its aromas and flavors.) In other cases, a wine can be lifeless by the third day.
It’s perfectly okay to put your bottle in the refrigerator overnight, resealed. If it’s a white wine, take it out about two hours before you intend to drink it again. If it’s a red, allow three to four hours for the wine to return to something close to room temperature.
Remember, coldness dulls both the aromas and flavors of wine.
Q: I’ve heard that the Niebaum-Coppola winery in Napa Valley has closed. Is this true?
A: Not true. Francis Ford Coppola has simply changed the name to Rubicon Estate, and is moving his movie memorabilia to a separate facility. Lots of people visited the winery just to see the memorabilia; now, Coppola hopes, they’ll come for the wine.
Q: I just received my first shipment of wine. The information was great and appreciated. I would like to pass on an idea that I used with my information and tasting notes for each wine. I cut out both of the notes together, folded down the center, and then cut out for the bottle neck on both. Now I have the information about the wine and the tasting notes on the bottle. I would forget the tasting notes long before I’d use the wine.
– Rip Wilkinson
Dear Rip: Thanks for sharing your idea with your fellow club members. Another option for those who’d like to reference all of the information contained in our wine stories and associated notes is to save the full pages in a binder.
Q: Why do so many of the wines I receive from the club have the identical rating of 90 points?
A: The wine clubs of Vinesse use a 100-point grading scale because it’s easy to understand.
When selecting the wines to feature in our various clubs, the Vinesse tasting panel considers only bottlings that receive a minimum composite score of 86 points. However, the goal is to feature as many wines as possible that garner 90 points or more.
Featured selections with slightly lower scores are still exceptional wines, and are chosen for their unusual or unique qualities.
Q: It seems like any time we go to a new restaurant and want to
bring along a bottle of wine from our club “stash,” we get a different
answer about the policy from the restaurant. What are the rules
regarding bringing your own wine to a restaurant?
A: When it comes to taking your own bottle of wine to a
restaurant, the rule of thumb is: There are no universal rules. So,
it’s not surprising that you get a lot of different answers when you
Let’s take it step by step. Some restaurant/wine rules are more
than rules – they’re laws, imposed by a state, a county or a city. If
some governmental body feels strongly enough about something to pass a
law about it, you can bet that law will be more restrictive than
permissive. No restaurant owner in his right mind would break a law,
even in the name of customer service.
In restaurants where no laws may apply, you still may encounter
some restrictions, based on the owner’s policy. Some restaurants do not
allow wine to be brought in from the outside (because they don’t want
to sacrifice the extremely high profit margin they enjoy on wine
sales), most will allow wine to be brought in for a fee (known as
“corkage”), and some encourage the practice by imposing no fee.
We strongly urge you to support restaurants that do allow wine to
be brought in, even if corkage is charged. As a matter of courtesy, you
should not bring in a bottle that is available on the restaurant’s wine
list. Inquire about this when making your reservation.
In restaurants that allow wine to be brought in without imposing a fee,
we suggest upping your usual tip amount by 5 or 10 percent as a way of
saying “thanks” for the wine-friendly policy.