Frequently Asked Questions
- When was the first wine ever made?
- What's the best way to seal (cork) a bottle?
- I noticed that wines made from juice kits cost more than wines made from concentrates. What's the difference?
- How can you have a WHITE MERLOT? I thought Merlot was a red wine?
- OK! I did the ultimate dumb thing; I pushed a cork into an empty bottle. Is there any way of removing the cork so I can save the bottle?
- When on a wine tour and evaluating wine, why do people swirl wine in the glass?
- Where should I store my wine?
- I think I am allergic to sulphites. Can I make wine without sulphites?
- Does the glass you are drinking from have an impact on the taste of the wine?
- I've never made wine before. How involved is it?
When was the first wine ever made?
Some historians and archeologists believe that the first evidence of wine making was 6,500 to 8,000 years ago. To think Quality Wine Cellars has only been open 22 years!
Although no liquid wine from the period has survived (pity), scientists have now found and tested wine residues discovered on the inner surfaces of 8000-year-old ceramic storage jars. The earliest discoveries have been made in Georgia (old Soviet Republic), Iran and Greece.
What's the best way to seal (cork) a bottle?
There have been many studies evaluating the pros and cons of the different closures. The objective of finding an alternative to traditional cork is to dramatically reduce the issue of tainted wines caused by natural cork. Some studies show that as much as 7% of wines that are naturally corked are tainted.
The two main alternatives to cork are screw top and synthetic. Our industry is moving rapidly to the synthetic cork which is proving to be superior to natural cork. Due to the high cost of capping equipment, our industry will not likely move to screw top in the near future. At Quality Wine Cellars we use the best synthetic cork from Nomacorc. A producer of high quality corks.
I noticed that wines made from juice kits cost more than wines made from concentrates. What's the difference?
All wine kits contain a portion of concentrate and juice as a starting point. As you move from a kit that is 85% concentrate to a kit that contains over 85% juice, you will notice that the resulting wine will exhibit fuller, bolder flavours that will benefit from a longer aging process. Both styles of kits produce excellent wines. It’s a matter of individual preference. The cost difference between concentrate based kits and juice based is approximately $45 for 30 bottles.
How can you have a WHITE MERLOT? I thought Merlot was a red wine?
When we tell people you can make WHITE Merlot, their response is usually the same; huh? In fact it’s quite simple. All wines get their colouring from the skins. When the grapes are crushed, the wine maker will leave the skins in contact with the juice just long enough to produce a pink wine, or in this case, White Merlot. Red wines are produced by allowing the juice to ferment and stay in contact with the skins for a longer period of time.
The ever-popular White Zinfandel comes from a red grape. The skins are removed from the juice after they have imparted just the right amount of colour.
OK! I did the ultimate dumb thing; I pushed a cork into an empty bottle. Is there any way of removing the cork so I can save the bottle?
Yes! I have done this myself and it does work. Kind of fun when you demonstrate this at a party. Jump on the internet and watch the Wine Bottle Party Trick.
Have fun with this one!
When on a wine tour and evaluating wine, why do people swirl wine in the glass?
Swirling wine before sniffing it is more than just a wine-tasting ritual. In fact, swirling exposes wine to more oxygen, which releases its aromas. A vigorous swirl before smelling a wine can reveal more of its magic. If you're unpracticed at swirling, simply set your glass on the counter and move it in a circle.
We have done two wine tasting tours of wineries in the BC Interior. Next time you’re in the shop, ask us about our experiences in wine country.
Where should I store my wine?
Where you store your wine is a major contributor to the condition of the wine when you pull the cork.
There are three basic rules regarding wine storage:
- Keep wine in the dark.
- Keep it at a consistent temperature (preferably cool, 58 degrees)
- Keep away from any movement or vibrations.
Humidity used to be an issue but less of a concern today since most wine is corked , in our shop, with a premium synthetic cork.
As an alternative to some pretty sophisticated and pricey wine fridges/coolers, we recommend most crawl spaces, stairwells or spare rooms that don’t get subjected to temperature fluctuation. We strongly suggest you avoid garages or furnace rooms. Never put your wine in direct contact with concrete.
I think I am allergic to sulphites. Can I make wine without sulphites?
Yes you can, however, it is important to remember three key points.
- It is the sulphites in wine that give the wine it’s aging capability. Without it, your wine may not last much beyond several months and will never reach it’s intended taste profile.
- There is no such thing as sulphite-free wine because the fermentation process naturally produces sulphite, resulting in approximately 10 Parts Per Million of sulphites. The average sulphite reading in store-bought wine is 200 PPM.
- Only an allergist can confirm if you are allergic to sulphites. One quick and easy test for anyone is to eat an apricot. Apricots have, proportionately, 10 times the amount of sulphites than wine. If you experience no reaction, there is a chance your issue is not the sulphites, but possibly histamines or tannins.
Does the glass you are drinking from have an impact on the taste of the wine?
Yes! Obviously, you can use any "vessel" to hold the wine. But if you've gone to the trouble to select a nice wine, go a step further and use a fine crystal wine glass.
Savouring wine is an experience of the senses. You admire the colour, appreciate its aromas and indulge the flavours that linger in your mouth.
A good glass should allow plenty of aeration, a crystal clear view of the colours and allow the wine to flow into your mouth gracefully. The glass should be plain and clear to appreciate the colour, which gives clues about the wine. The bowl should be large enough to gently swirl the wine without spilling. (Only fill the glass 1/3 full - or to the widest part of the glass)
This swirling action allows the wine to breathe and to fully develop its bouquet and flavour. The narrow aperture at the top serves to concentrate the aromas toward the nose.
I've never made wine before. How involved is it?
By law, you must ‘pitch’ some yeast on the juice, pay for the product and service upfront, return to our store 5 to 8 weeks later to bottle the wine, and then take it home. We “care” for your wine through all the stages – no fuss, no mess!
Bottling takes as little as 30 minutes, and is simple to do with guidance from our friendly staff. Top it off with a shrink top and a personalized label for a professional look – your choice.
Select a wine that best matches the style of food you enjoy most. Keep in mind how the seasons might impact your preferences. Given that each wine has it’s own unique aging profile, it is important to allow sufficient lead time from when you start a batch of wine to when you expect to enjoy it – anywhere from as little as 2 or 3 months, to up to a year for a more robust wine. And finally, you may wish to consider those special unique wines that become available on a limited-time basis.
Wine making is simple and fun, especially when you can leave the clean-up to us!