Q & A with the Winemakers



Because of the inquiries we receive regularly from you about our wines, foods, and famous South Coast Hospitality, we’ve put together a section here to answer some of them so you all can enjoy. Better still, we’ve added a special page to our web site where you can actually ask your questions and provide your feedback to our winemakers and chefs. Mark this page as a Favorite and then give us your questions when they arise. We'll write you back AND possibly put you in print. Meanwhile, here’s the selection of favorite questions we felt might best help you with your busy holiday entertaining needs.



My parents aged a bottle of wine when I was born so we could enjoy it when I turned 21.  I want to do the same for my daughter.  Do you recommend a certain wine that will age for many years? - Chris 

A:  Dear Chris:In response to your question about saving a wine for your daughter. 
This is an old custom that began centuries ago.  At that time, however, it was English aristocracy purchasing a pipe (145 gallon barrel) of Port, Marsala or Madeira for there first born sons who would in turn be able to sell this product upon their 21st year and make enough money to start a family, or business, or have one giant party.  As time went by, it became only a barrel (60 gallons) and today very few people even lay down a case of wine for their progeny.

I would think that you are going to be searching out a year---as in her birth year, and not knowing what that year is, it is hard to say what to choose because of the nature of the vintages, and how quality can be very erratic from area to area.  In my mind, Port is still the wine of choice because it can lay down for 20 to 30 years, no problem.  2007 was an outstanding vintage in Portugal. 2008 was solid as well.  The 2009 has not yet been declared a vintage, to my knowledge.  Burgundy had a record year in 2009, but I find these types of wine age spottily and if you are not investing in Grand Cru, don't bother.  Madeira is a good choice as well.

Bordeaux, California, Australian, etc. all could be choices, but these wines are not like Port which can carry age so much nicer. A wine that tastes good today will not likely be something other than nostalgia 20 odd years from now. The biggest thing to remember is to store it properly----on it's side at the proper temperature----55 to 58 degrees F.  Otherwise, you will certainly be guaranteed something you won't want to drink.
Myself, I purchased my sons each a case of Vintage Port. Unfortunately, my one son was born in a non-declared year, but he will still manage quite well.  My oldest was fortunate and born in a great year, 1992. The case of '92 Taylor-Fladgate Sesiquintennial has gone up from 330 dollars to almost 2,000 dollars.  Not a bad return.  He won't start a family on it, but maybe he can pay off some college debt. Or have a hell of a party.

Q: What pairs well with your Extra Dry Sparkling & Brut Sparkling?
Sparkling wine is always a classic with oysters and caviar, but when you are in the mood for a light aperitif
and maybe some nice hors d’ourves, sparkling wine can marry up with a number of light crudités stuffed with crab,
or sushi rolls, smoked salmon, thai spring rolls or duck confit. Simple cheeses (as in NOT strong aromatic aged stuff like bleu, stliton or strong goat) but baked brie with French baguettes or Fontina, gouda.   Think of the clean acidic feel that sparkling wine has, and what would you want to have as the pallet cleanser that follows.  Light and airy crisp and fresh.  That’s sparkling wine. The food should be same.  Even though Extra Dry is sweeter, it can do the same heavy lifting as Brut. Extra Dry can actually pair with sweeter foods like fruit (ie strawberries, raspberries etc) or even wedding cake.

Q: Do you carry a wine named Chevalier de Bayard? If so, what years do you have and at what cost? Thank you.

The wine that you are looking for is actually from the Languedoc Region of France.  Chevalier de Bayard, or the Knight of Bayard, is a wine that is named after one of the great heroic knights of France.  This Vin de Pays, or “country wine” is a red table wine comprised of several different varieties of grapes. The Herault region of the Languedoc is known for the production of this Carignane based wine.  Typically blended with Grenache, Mourvedre and Syrah, The Chevalier de Bayard is a proprietary red wine that you will have to source from a wine shop or wine retailer.  We do produce a blended red here at South Coast Winery, Group Therapy, that is very close in style to the Chevalier de Bayard. Our Group Therapy is blended with Syrah, Grenache, Carignane, Zinfandel, Mourvedre, and a touck of Petit Verdot.  Good Luck with your endeavors on locating this wine.

Q:  I have a bottle of South Coast Winery Black Jack Port.  Once it is opened, how long will it hold?  Should I refrigerate it once opened? 
A:  In response to your question about an open bottle of  Black Jack Port.  This wine, as well as any other Ports or port-style wines, can keep for upwards of two months once they are opened (this includes Sherries, too).  The flavors and aromas do change slightly over the days/weeks, but generally speaking, they get better, not worse.  Most people, including myself, never drink a bottle of Port upon opening, unless at a party where there are a number of people to help drink the bottle.

Refrigeration is not necessary, but it can help to keep the wine slightly longer.  If you consume this wine within 6 weeks to 2 months you should be happy with each glass you pour.  Just a note of caution however, with Port, the last glass of wine poured from the bottle generally has more sediment.  This is naturally occurring.  This sediment is usually in the form of pigments and tartrates that form over time in the wine, in the bottle.  Not to say that if you drank it faster you not have any sediments, it is just that the sediments settle to the bottom of the bottle and the last glass is generally poured in a manner that stirs all the sediments up.

Q:   I am having a party and I am not sure if I need a case of wine or just 2 bottles? What is the right amount?

A: Obviously you want your guests to have a good time, and if there are any “leftovers” you can always serve them the next day with few to no complaints. The average bottle of wine is 750 milliliters. This equates to about 25 ounces. Figure most wineglasses to hold around 6 to 8 ounces. Since most people don’t fill a wine glass to the top and then walk around the party sloshing it all over themselves, you can plan for about 5 glasses per bottle. Most people start to slow down their consumption after about 2 to three glasses. Thus by using some simple algebra and Pythagorean’s theorem, you can calculate a party of (8) X 3 glasses = 24 glasses. Divide that by the 5 glasses per bottle and that leaves you needing almost 5 bottles. Count on the “sloshage” factor (about 0.345 ounces per glass served) and your crazy uncle’s knack for sneaking a bit extra when no one’s looking, and 6 to 7 bottles should do the trick. Again, leftovers are always welcome.

Q: What’s the best temperature to serve my wine?

A: Everyone seems to have a different idea about what is best for which wine they are drinking. Many people prefer sparkling wine ice cold, which is great for keeping the bubbles in the wine, but the colder temperatures tend to deaden the nerve receptors on the palette, thus not allowing for all the flavors to be perceived. Likewise, the aromatics of a wine can be lessened and the full bouquet is then not realized either. So, rule of thumb, cellar temperature is best----which is about 52 degrees Fahrenheit, (if you have a cellar that goes about 50 feet into the ground, otherwise about 20 minutes in the fridge can get you there). This temperature will allow for white wines and red wines to show their stuff, and not come across with too much chill to swill. Many people will find the wine warm, if they are use to drinking ice cold whites, rosés or sparklings, but think of all the enjoyment they would have been missing. With red wines, this slight chill gives the palette a chance to “pass” a few of the tannins and the red wine will not seem as tannic or bitter.

Q: How do I know which wine to serve? We are having cocktail weenies in BBQ sauce, deviled eggs and smoke salmon on crackers. Guacamole and fried artichokes.

A: Well, with an eclectic menu, a few choices would be wise. Many people have favorites, ie. white, red, sweet, dry. The real secret with pairing food and wine, is that the wine should complement the food’s flavor and give some release to what the food is showing. By that I mean for instance, hot spicy salsa laden foods tend to work well with lighter wines that have a bit of residual sugar, subtle tartness and little to no tannins. This style helps to cut through the heat and spice. Foods with a bit of grease---that is something fried or has meat, work better with wines that have a bit of weight. Something like a sausage roll would pair nicely with a Syrah or Merlot, unless it is a spicy sausage roll and then an off dry Rosé would be better suited. White wines pair with cheeses very nicely, or even some types of dip. Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier are great choices here. The main thing to keep in mind is that if you have choices for the hors d' oeuvres, main course or whatever, then a selection of three or four wines would be nice as well. Remember, leftovers are not a bad thing. Unless it’s fried spam sticks with nacho cheese sauce. Not pretty, regardless of the wine.

Q: How do you deal with a day after a night of too much imbibing?

A: From time to time the question comes around about what to do when you’ve had a bit too much. Most hangover cures are not reliable, but the one thing that I have found is an ounce of prevention. Or make that several ounces. Try to drink a glass of water for every glass of wine, beer or other alcoholic concoction. The body metabolizes alcohol into aldehydic compounds which are ultimately responsible for giving you that throbbing pain in your skull the next day. Water helps to flush these compounds from the system. The other answer if you forgot to drink water along the way, is a good greasy hamburger and a cold beer the next day. Followed by a nap.

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