You can’t watch “Jeopardy” 24/7 and, besides, wine answers/questions rarely come up in “Potent Potables.”
So, every so often, we take it upon ourselves to put together a little wine quiz to test your knowledge of our favorite adult beverage.
On Tuesday, we posed five vinous questions. Today, the questions, answers and a few fun facts to go with them…
1. How much will restaurants typically mark up the cost of a bottle of wine?
Correct answer: c. Double the retail price.
Contrary to popular belief, restaurants don’t make a fortune from wine sales, even though the price charged for a bottle often exceeds the most expensive food item on the menu. Time must be invested in buying the wine, often involving an employee (such as a sommelier) focused solely on that responsibility. There is storage space to consider. And let’s not forget the price of stemware, which the restaurant must replace at its own cost when a customer is careless and breaks a glass. All of that factors into the “double retail” equation.
2. Which wine grape received a “makeover” during the 1990s, resulting in higher prices?
Correct answer: a. Zinfandel.
Zin had traditionally been used as a blending grape or one component of “field blends” prior to the California wine explosion of the 1970s. Then in 1972, Sutter Home’s Bob Trinchero “invented” White Zinfandel with grapes from his vineyard in Amador County, utilizing leftover pulp from his regular Zinfandel bottling. It took a few years for the new wine to catch on, but once the public discovered its alluring pinkish color and gently sweet flavor profile, there has been no looking back. A high percentage of California’s Zinfandel harvest was being used for White Zin, but during the 1990s a new generation of winemakers “rediscovered” Zinfandel and embraced its versatility. In addition to “blush” wines like White Zin, it can be made into dry table wines (perfect with pizza or barbecue) and even zesty, fruit-forward dessert wines (wonderful with cheesecake and blackberries).
3. If you read “Columbia Valley” on a wine bottle’s label, from what region does that wine originate?
Correct answer: a. Pacific Northwest.
Although the Columbia Valley includes part of Oregon, most of it is contained within the boundaries of Washington. While a number of grape varieties are grown there, the region is best known for Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.
4. What will be the result when a red wine is served too cold?
Correct answer: b. The tannins will become harsher, dulling the fruit flavors of the wine.
Any wine served too cold will have its aroma muted and its flavor spectrum compressed. Sometimes that can be a good thing, if the wine is a bit too assertive for most people. But it’s almost always a negative, and that’s especially true of big, bold red wines that already possess tannins that some people resist. If you ever visit a tasting room first thing in the morning and are served a cold glass of wine — especially a red — ask for a fresh bottle. It’s the only way you’ll be able to know what the wine really tastes like.
5. What is meant when a wine is described as “quaffable”?
Correct answer: c. It’s very easy to drink.
These are the types of wine we enjoy with a good book, next to the fireplace during the winter months and out on the back porch during the summertime. They aren’t overly complex; they’re just refreshing and enjoyable to drink.
Until our next quiz, try not to be too hard on Mayim Bialik or Ken Jennings. Alex Trebek is a tough act to follow.