By Anthony Gismondi

How do I find the wine I’m looking for in BC?

The majority of wines reviewed in the Vancouver Sun can be found at your local BC Liquor store. They do tend to sell out quickly upon publication but most wines are restocked within a few days. BC ‘Signature’ Liquor Stores have the widest selection of wines and consultants to help you in-store.

Private wine stores have many of the popular wines you find in BC Liquor stores along with numerous wines exclusive to the individual store; VQA stores carry only BC wines marked with the ‘Vintner’s Quality Assurance’ designation. Most private wine stores and BC wineries will ship wine directly to your home. Check their websites for more details.

What is better: cork or screw cap?

Screw caps are back in a big way and it is not about cheap wine it is about the best closure for most wines. Screw caps are easy to twist off and just as easy to twist back on and that is making wine more accessible for many. There will always be a place for cork-finished wine, especially for those wines that need time in the bottle.

Our view is cork can alter the flavour of wine, shaving off or dampening the top five to seven percent of a wine’s most delicate nuances of fruit and flavours so unless its red and going to be cellared for years screw caps are just fine.

What are some tips for bringing your own wine to a restaurant?

Not all restaurants accept BYOW, so call ahead of your arrival to be certain. It’s polite to bring a wine that is not on the restaurant’s wine list but there is no law prohibiting it. With many restaurants posting their wine lists online, it should be easy to check.

If you are planning on bringing white wine you may want to consider chilling your wine before you arrive. Expect to pay a wide range in corkage fees so it is best to call ahead and find out so there is no confusion.

Hostess gift?

Wine makes for a highly appropriate hostess gift, but remember, it’s a gift for the host, not the people attending the party, so insist they put it away to enjoy on a future occasion. Sparkling wine was made for this, it’s both festive and celebratory and, best of all, everyone should have a bottle of bubble in the house that they can quickly chill and serve, whenever required.

If you feel compelled to drink the wine with person who gave it to you, just write their name on the back label and save if for another occasion.

What sort of wine glass should I be using?

The wine glass is the most important tool required to enjoy wine. In a nutshell, it should have a decent length or stem (to hold onto) and a generous size bowl (to swirl your wine in), say 10-14 ounces. The rim should be smaller in circumference than the mid-section of the glass (to funnel the bouquet) and the rim should be thin to allow the wine to interact with your palate quickly and efficiently.

Remember, it’s more about the shape than the manufacturer. You don’t need to spend a fortune on wine glasses but take your cue on shape from the top glasses used in restaurants.

Can you recommend a decanter?

I can’t oversell plain and useful. Those four-foot glass tube decanters look sensational in restaurants but pouring them is a real art and cleaning them is the proverbial pain in the rear end. My choice for an everyday decanter would be the Riedel Merlot. It’s $30 and is available everywhere wine is sold. It’s easy to hold or pour and it’s relatively simple to clean. If you want something a bit more unusual and you have the budget, look at the Spiegelau Loop Clear Decanter, $160.

How long should I cellar a wine?

I’m a big fan of the seven to 10 year rule.

Red wine simply tastes better given bottle age and, most bottles tend to be at their best between the ages of seven and ten years. When all the components meld together, offering a flavour that is complex and much more than just fruit or oak, your wine has moved to a new level.

Not all wines are made to improve with age. Bottles labelled rosé, aromatic and unoaked require little or no cellar time.

Price can often be a guide; few wines under $15 are designed for aging, although reds that contain large amounts of Cabernet, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Malbec and Zinfandel will all benefit from cellar time no matter what their cost.

Top wines from highly rated vintages can easily age a decade or more under perfect conditions i.e., a dark, cool (8-14C), vibration-free space with a humidity level of about 60 per cent.

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