There are no stupid questions, especially when it comes to wine! We're all constantly learning, professionals and amateurs alike. The professionals just have lots more experience – 30 years of diligent professional research in Frank's case! Feel free to fire in any question at all. We'll be delighted to share the wisdom. Below are questions that have been submitted. Most recent are listed first.

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Dear Frank,
I have a 1982 bottle of Cuvée Dom Perignon that has been stored on its side since day one. Can you please tell me if it is still drinkable?   –  Don Sergy

As long as the ambient cellar temperature has been steady and the wine has been in the dark it should still be alive, although probably slightly over the hill. That's to say more amber than gold, more like an old white Burgundy than a fresh, crisp bubbly, and starting to show its age.

However, it could be very viable and complex. I'm sure you'll enjoy giving it a go!
Best wishes, Frank

Hi Frank,
Very informative website. Question: where would I be able to purchase Yellowglen Rosé sparkling wine? I'd like to serve something different at my wedding (May 08) and am looking for something around $15. Any suggestions? Tired of the Asti stuff.   – Pina Tria, Montreal, Quebec

Hi Pina,
There's tons of this in all the Ontario LCBOs but none in Quebec. Perhaps you can head to the nearest LCBO and stock up?

Or you could try your local stores at Maisonneuve or Complexe Desjardins for Codorniu Clasico Brut Cava from Spain at $13.50. They have 26 and 36 bottles each. Check out a bottle now. It'll be fine drinking in May.

Have a great wedding! Frank

Hi Frank,
I have just began my liking for red wines this past year after trying this wine at a friend's party. My friend forgot what wine was exactly, but he told me it was a Shiraz. All I remember was that the wine was warm, smooth, and thick (I don't know what the right terminologies are, but that's the way the wine felt in my mouth).
I have been trying different Shiraz, but I still haven't come across one that's close to what I tried that time. Do you have any suggestion as what would most resemblance the wine I m looking for? Many thanks,  – Michel

More than likely Australian, from your description.
That's the thickest, richest regional style with chocolate and raspberry, even tarry character, very fruity and delicious with a big steak or BBQ.
Best, Frank

Hi Frank,
This is my first time making white wine from grapes. I followed all the instruction and I put the juice in a carboy and to my surprise the wine isn't bubbling. It is just dormant.
What do I do? Help me!     – Lindy

Move it to a warmer place! That should do it.

Who created the first wine in the world and what was the name of the wine?    – David Maseko

Probably it was from a bunch of grapes that fell into a hollow in a tree or in a boulder and then fermented into wine from the natural yeasts in the bloom on the grape skins.
That would be back in 100,000 BC and the name of this naturally occurring wine is anyone's guess!
Good question, though!
Kind regards, Frank

Dear Frank,
My daughter bought a bottle of Pinot Grigio white wine and put it in the freezer for an hour or so while she drove a friend home. She had some out of the bottle, she says, previously to leaving her house.
When she returned she thought someone had drunk some of her wine yet no one was home. Does the wine look like less when it is partially frozen or what?
We wondered if a ghost dropped by or something! All kidding aside, we were looking for the reason it seemed less after being in the freezer.
Thanks, Goldie

Dear Goldie,
Had a chuckle with this!
Alcohol, when frozen, expands less than water but wine is still almost 90 per cent water, so it would still expand in the freezer....
Therefore, either some wine leaked a little in the freezer or your daughter had a little more of a nip than she recalled!
Kind regards, Frank

PS The danger of putting bottles in the freezer is usually that you forget them. The contents expand and the bottle explodes!!! Very messy...

Dear Frank,
Just came back from Napa and Sonoma with some wines we liked and I was wondering how long we should / could cellar some of these for:
Beringer Napa Valley Cab 02; Rubicon Cask Cab 04, Coppola Directors Cut Cab Alexander Valley 05; Rubicon RC Reserve Shiraz 04; Coppola Dry Creek Shiraz 04; Berghold Lodi Shiraz 1999.
Is there a rule of thumb for Cab, Shiraz and Pinot Noir or are all wines subject to the winemaker, vintage of grape and other intangibles?
Thanks, Mark Dimitroff

Lots of intangibles, as always! The '02 Cab will be starting to drink well and good for another 5 years. Give the '04 and '05 another 2-3 years and they'll improve another five.
The '99 Shiraz is ready to go. Now to '09. The '04s will benefit from a couple more years and be good for 4-6 after that. Cabs tend to age longer, of course, but California doesn't generally make wines to lay down for your kids' 21st!
Trick is always buy three of each. Taste one now, another in 2-3 years to see how it's doing, and the third in 5-6 years, depending how they're shaping up. Pinots from California generally have a shorter life span and are ready sooner.
Happy wine drinking! Frank

Thanks for the answers. When you say 'Give the '04 and '05 another 2-3 years and they'll improve another five.' do you mean that they'll be good from 2010 to 2015? We paid what we think is a fair bit ($75) for the Rubicon Cask Cab 04 and would like to open that baby at it's peak. Thanks again ... Mark

2-3 years minimum to come into focus and then there will be a nice long peak plateau 2010-2015, tapering off slowly after that. Should be tremendous drinking!
Enjoy. Frank

Dear Frank,
I've acquired a bottle of wine vintage 1892 Oscar's fine Madeira, Portugal. It still has the beverage tax stamp on it and the bottle is in good shape. Could you give me any info on it? Thanks, Connie Kilgallon

Hi Connie,
Old vintage Madeira is magical, mystical and expensive. That's why great old bottles from this sub-tropical, volcanic island are not yet extinct!
Old Madeiras offer the most complex, long lasting thrill-ride of a finish of any wine made. And that includes Sauternes, Eiswein, Tokaji, Australian stickies and the rest!
The firm, Oscar Acciaioly (or Acciaioli) was established in the 1500s when the family emigrated from Florence. Their key market was initially Russia and later on Scandinavia, but their business has been defunct for almost a half century. When the family closed their business in the 1950s they sold their remaining stocks to Barbeito.
Their 1802 Terrantez sells for $1,650 today in the UK and in pounds sterling the 1832 Terrantez Reserve is 508.00 and the 1837 Bual Special Reserve is 465.00.
I belong to a group called the Estufarians, Madeira lovers who collect these oldies and put together great dinners to showcase them.
Thanks for your letter. Frank

What's the difference between Sauvignon Blanc and Fumé Blanc?

Same wine grape variety - different winemaking approach: SB is typically fresh, herbaceous and crisp, made in stainless steel tanks with no oak. FB is the same stuff that has additionally spent time in oak barrels to get that extra dimension of woody or "smoky" character.
In the Loire Valley, ancestral home of this noble grape, FB has always been called Blanc Fumé, pronounced Fumay, of course.
Robert Mondavi adapted this terminology to call his wines California Fumé Blanc!
Funny old world...

Hello Frank,
1) What is a good type of medium- or full-bodied, fruity (possibly a Merlot), preferably Italian red wine for ageing (as in leaving the bottle alone for the next 10 years [just to see what it tastes like that far in the future])?
2) I have no cellar though my basement is fairly cool year-round. Could I just leave it in a non-humid spot somewhere out of sunlight (or artificial light for that matter)?
Thanks for your time. Eric McDermott

Hi Eric,
Don't think an Italian Merlot's going to cut it for the long haul! I'd suggest a Chianti Riserva, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, and, of course, a Barolo or Barbaresco – all designed to improve dramatically with age.
Main thing with cellaring is steady temps, darkness, away from appliances and strong smelling household products. Horizontal goes without saying (although you'd be surprised....!) Your basement sounds fine.
Buy at least three bottles each of your choice and taste them periodically over the years to see how they evolve.
Kind regards, Frank

We left a bottle of white wine in the freezer overnight! Is it safe to drink? Thank you. Michelle et Claude

Hi M & C,
Safe to drink – no problem – but maybe not so delicate and complex as it was before. Lucky it didn't go bang in the freezer!
Kind regards, Frank

Hi Frank,
Now that I have discovered your website, you may hear from me more than you want!
I have a 2003 Clos La Coutale, Cahors Contrôlée. I've never heard of Appellation Cahors. What type of wine is it, and should it be kept longer or drunk now?
Thanks, Helene McLean

I'm being lazy here, Helene, but here's a succinct explanation of Cahors and this particular wine. The region is 30 minutes north of where we spend the month of September. It's quite rugged and beautiful.
Regards, Frank

Cahors has been a winegrowing region in southwest France since at least the 13th century. The area makes red wines exclusively, and is known for its "black wines" - because the wines are so inky in color.

All Cahors wines must contain at least 70% of the grape Auxerrois, also known as Cot or Malbec. Historically used as a blending grape in Bordeaux, Malbec is more familiar to fans of the wines of Argentina. The remaining 30% of the wine can include the grapes Tannat and/or Merlot. Tannat adds some tannins, while Merlot contributes suppleness and complexity.            

The classic style of Cahors wine is deeply colored, rich in flavor, and well structured with ample tannins and high alcohol (two natural preservatives that make it long-lived).            

For many palates, Cahors is harsh when young; most people prefer to drink Cahors after it has spent five to 10 years in the cellar and softened. Recently, however, winemakers have been producing Cahors that are softer and more drinkable.            

One example is Clos La Coutale Cahors, one of the better wineries in Cahors, and made from 70% Malbec, 15% Tannat and 15% Merlot.            

If you enjoy the forward, ripe styles of modern Argentinian Malbec, you may like Clos La Coutale. Offering an assortment of rich, ripe, jammy red and black fruit aromas, with licorice and black pepper mixed in. On the palate it has a velvety smooth texture, very soft in the mouth, with ripe black fruits, pepper and hints of earth. Acidity is low to medium, and tannins are soft to medium.            

Overall, an attractive, easy wine, something to drink now. The finish is not lengthy and a touch hot, but not unpleasant. If you have the patience to cellar it for a few years, you may well be rewarded with more jammy, juicy fruit flavors.            

Bottom line: An enjoyable red wine with enough seriousness to impress your date, your boss, or your in-laws. Burgers, veal Parmigiana, beef stew, meaty dishes and gamey fish are all good food matches. And easy on the wallet.

We have two bottles of wine from Concha y Toro. One is a 1985 Cabernet Sauvignon and the other is a 1987 Sauvignon Blanc. They're both still sealed and in the wooden, hinged gift-box set they came in.
It does appear that they have both leaked slightly (about the size of a half dollar). Is there any way to tell if they are still good? If so, are they worth anything?
We have god-children who were born in each of the years and are considering giving them to them to do with that they like.
Thank you, Deborah

Hi Deborah,
Sorry to tell you that these are just curiosities, although the Cabernet Sauvignon may possibly be just drinkable. The Sauvignon Blanc is also way past its best by date.
The red was made to be enjoyed within 4-5 years and the white within three years. The leakage isn't a good sign. If the liquid can get out, air can get in, and that's en route to vinegar!
Give 'em to the kids as a fun memento.
Kind regards, Frank

Dear Frank,
I just came across a 1974 bottle of Chateau d'Angludet that was tucked away in my wine cellar. Is there anything of importance you can tell me about this wine?
Best regards, Nancy Leesing

Hi Nancy,
This is a decent property in Margaux at the southern end of the Medoc. Sadly, '74 was a poor, wet year with almost all the wines lacking concentration and character. Not too many of any '74s around because they didn't keep well.
The more recent vintages have been much better, and it has always been good value. Owned for years by the late Peter Sichel, Bordeaux negociant and part owner of much more famous Chateau Palmer.
Little or no resale value but if you're very lucky it might show well, if briefly, with a simple steak or roast.
Kind regards, Frank

Dear Frank,
This is the information I got from my friend so I hope you can decipher it as I haven't actually seen it.
If its not worth much we would love to hear your advice on enjoying it.
The words I got from her are 'Bouchard Pere & Fils, Morey Saint-Denis' and it is a 1983.
Thanks in advance, Brendan Abbott

Hi Brendan,
The missing words in your friend's description are probably Clos de la Roche, the name of Bouchard's lovely property in Morey St-Denis (see below)... '83 is a 6 out of 10 vintage but this will be a delicate and delicious wine best enjoyed within minutes of uncorking. Don't decant!
Probably way too much info here, but thought it might be interesting for you. Enjoy with light, simply sauced fare, such as veal, poultry or grilled salmon.
Regards, Frank

I have a handful of decent wines that have been in my dining room for a couple of years ('01 Caymus Cab, '01 Duckhorn Cab, '99 Heitz...).
We live in New England and during the summer time when we are away, the house has been sealed up and probably reaches some pretty extreme heats. Have I damaged the quality of these wines?
Sincerely, Jim Suglia

You've probably speeded up the evolution of your wines through the high cellar temps, but they should still be OK. Just open them within the next year or two. Remember that molecular activity rises and falls with temperature and that affects how quickly wine ages.
Moisture in the cellar isn't so bad. Lots of people have humidifiers to help stop the corks drying out and having their wines spoil.
It's all a question of degree, literally! The heat's probably the most dangerous threat.
Regards, Frank

I read about you on the Wine Writers' Circle of Canada website and I am really hoping you're willing to help me select some wines that will be served at an upcoming wedding in June '07 (you probably get tons of questions like this, but I could really use your help...maybe you could post it on an FAQ?!).
We are looking for wines that come in around $15 or less (preferably no more than $12 as we will be buying A LOT of wine!). We would like to know what varieties you feel offer the best value, dollar-for-dollar at the LCBO (from the Regular or General list, not Vintages as their stock changes too often).
If possible, we would like a couple recommendations for each selection of grape: Sauv Blanc, Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot, Cab Sauv, Merlot, Shiraz, etc. Feel free to add any hybrids or anything that doesn't fall nicely into one of these categories!
We are not all that concerned with region, although I have been told that Australian wines offer the best value (agree?). We are also not all that concerned about pairing our wine with the food that will be served, as we are having Food Stations with lots to choose from.
We are hosting a Wine Tasting party at the end of April to choose which wines (one white and one red) will be put on the table. We are thinking about stocking the bar with Tetra wine boxes because they are so economical. Any recommendations here?! I really appreciate any information you can provide!
Thanks in advance,
Sincerely, Raegan Harding

Dear Raegan,
Here's a selection to match your (commendably low) price point. All are LCBO regular wines. All are decently drinkable and party-hearty.
Best regards, Frank

Montana Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, $14.15. Monkey Bay Sauvignon Blanc, $14.70. Errazuriz Sauvignon Blanc, $12.20. Argento Chardonnay, $10.20. Banrock Station Unwooded Chardonnay, $11.25. Chateau des Charmes Silver Chardonnay, $10.15. Deakin Estate Chardonnay, $11.15. Cave Spring Riesling Dry VQA, $14.15. Chateau des Charmes Riesling VQA, $12.15. Henry of Pelham Riesling VQA, $13.15. Cono Sur Pinot Noir, $10.10. E & J Gallo Turning Leaf Pinot Noir, $12.15. Jackson-Triggs Proprietors Selection Pinot Noir, $12.15. Fortant de France Merlot, $11.90. Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo Merlot, $12.65. Errazuriz Merlot, $14.25. Banrock Station Cabernet Sauvignon, $12.20. Bodega Norton Cabernet Sauvignon, $10.70. Concha y Toro Casillero Cabernet Sauvignon, $12.65. Jacob's Creek Shiraz, $12.15. Hardys Nottage Hill Shiraz, $13.00. Goundrey Shiraz, $14.05.

Hello Frank,
Can I please ask, where does Shiraz originate from? Grateful if you could let me know,
Many thanks, Susie

Shiraz is the most planted grape variety in Australia. It's identically the same grape as the Syrah that grows in and originates from the Rhone Valley in SE France.
The Aussie (Shiraz) wine style is very different, more chocolate and sweet ripe red fruits and bigger alcohol. The French (Syrah) style is more restrained, elegant and peppery/spicy - very food friendly, in fact.
The French don't normally put grape names on the label, so the name Shiraz is probably more widely known, but the wines of the northern Rhone in particular are some of the world's best - and they would always say that their grape is Syrah.
Confusingly, Shiraz is also the name of an ancient Persian city where they made wine several thousand years ago...!
So, choose Shiraz for power, sweetness, and chocolatey big red fruit; choose Syrah for elegant, black pepper, redcurrant, raspberry and oriental spices - with fine cuisine.
Regards, Frank

Hi Frank,
Your website is great and we thoroughly enjoyed browsing through it, finding it really interesting.
We hope you don't mind us contacting you but wondered if you might be able to provide some more information. Red wines are our favorite, particularly the French J.P. Chenet and Australian reds.
As we are interested in drinking wine made by the traditional method and we would be most grateful if you could explain what this is. Are most commercial wines made in this method or is it something we would need to hunt around for?
Thanks once again. Looking forward to hearing from you.
Kind regards and cheers! Andrea & Tony Davies

Dear Andrea and Tony,
Thanks for your kind comments. Keep on truckin' with Chenet, Shiraz and Aussie Cabs!
In answer to your question, while tradition is always a precious element in the making of Old World wines (many generations of trial and error leading to consistency and quality, supplemented nowadays by scientific methods and technology, the term Traditional Method is the English for Methode Traditionelle, the fermentation in the bottle method of making sparking wines.
Methode Champenoise, of course, is the same but used only for wines of the Champagne region.
Best regards, Frank


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