Have you ever seen your waiter wipe the lip of a bottle of wine before pouring you a glass? This isn’t because it’s dirty, but is actually a tradition dating back to when lead – yes, lead – was used to seal the bottle over the cork.
The mining of lead dates back to at least 6500 BCE and was one of the first metals to be smelted and used. A dense and malleable material resistant to corrosion, it has been implemented throughout history for a variety of uses including cookware, cosmetics, and decorations. Its versatility was intriguing for winemakers, who reasoned its ability to form a tight seal was ideal for forming a capsule around the lip and cork of a bottle. As the years passed and technology improved, led foil was also developed as a means for creating an air-tight seal on the bottle and was a sign that the wine inside was of high quality.
Since then, our society has become privy to the potential and dangers of lead poisoning. In a 1991 lawsuit, it was ruled that advertisements must be made, demonstrating how to appropriately wipe down the bottle to remove as much residue as possible. This is because even after the removal of the led seal, small deposits on the lip of the bottle could mix with the wine during pouring and thus ingested by the drinker. Furthermore, the settlement called for winemakers using led in their bottling process to inform consumers of its presence, warning that prolonged exposure to the metal could have devastating effects.
Still, it wasn’t until early 1996 that tin-coated lead capsules were outlawed by the Food and Drug Administration. So, why do waiters still wipe the bottle even when we know that there isn’t any lead present? Simply put, tradition. Though the action today is needless, it is a gesture indicating prestige, quality, and respect for the patron.
There is a common misconception that wines that are sealed with corks are of higher quality than those crafted with screw caps. There is something romantic about levying a cork and hearing it pop when it leaves the mouth of the bottle. A millennia-old practice, it invokes visions of class, elegance, and ceremony. It’s an experience lost on us when we simply unscrew a cap, an act that is just as easy as opening a bottle of water.
Compared to the natural cork, which has roots traceable all the way to Antiquity, screw caps are a relatively new practice. First introduced in the 1950s, they were developed to combat the quality-related struggles of the traditional cork. In using aluminum with a polyethylene or tin coating, the screw cap is able to create an extremely tight seal, which prevents unwanted oxidization. The omission of a cork also removes the potential for cork taint and makes the bottle more resistant to extreme temperatures, since the screw cap will not expand or contract with the climate. Screw caps, according to a study conducted by Hogue Cellars, are the best method for preserving the bouquet, fruitiness, and character of the wine. Furthermore, the bottles with screw caps can be stored in any position, unlike the corked bottles, which need to be laid horizontally with a slight tilt forward so that the cork is always in contact with the liquid. If corked bottles are improperly stored, the cork can become weak, leading to air seepage and ultimately, bad wine. This situation is completely avoidable with screw cap bottles, which offer a better experience for both crafters and consumers alike.
Despite the pros associated with screw caps, countries known for their wine snobbery (the United States) are resistant to making a widespread change by ditching the cork (perhaps due to the aforementioned stigma.) Only about 30% of wines in the US are closed with a screw cap, a shockingly low number.
Still, as time progresses, the perks of using a screw cap are infiltrating the wine-making industry. The ability to maintain a higher amount of control over the product is attractive to wine crafters, and an increased, quality lifespan following their purchase is a large incentive for consumers.
Here at King Frosch, we like to embrace technology that allows us to continually provide you with the best wines we are able to offer. Though we love the romance of the cork, our market research and subsequent feedback indicated that there is a desire for the ease of opening a bottle without tools. We listened and switched approximately 50% of our wines to bottles with screw tops.
So, the next time you pass judgment on a wine based on the means of its closure, remember: even a century’s old industry is able to change for the better!
Just as there seem to be an infinite number of varietals of wine, all of which have their own distinct characteristics, there too seem to be just as many types of glasses. This week, we’re answering the question, what kind of glasses should you use when serving red, white, and sparkling wine.
Red Wine: Red wines are typically served in glasses that have larger bowls. These larger glasses mean the wine has a greater amount of surface area which comes into contact with the air. As a result, the wine is able to breathe, or “open up,” which facilitates flavor development. Larger glasses also encourage the drinker to smell their wine. This is important for enjoyment, as the senses taste and smell are closely linked.
White Wine: White wine is usually served in comparatively smaller glasses, which feature U-shaped bowls. Their unique shape and smaller openings decrease the wine’s surface area, which better preserves its cooler temperature for a longer amount of time. The glass’s smaller opening, according to food.com, also channels the wine’s more subtle aromas more directly to the drinker’s nose.
Sparkling Wine: Sparkling wines are best suited for flutes with narrow, thin bowls. By minimizing the wine’s surface area and exposure to oxygen, the flute helps to preserve the fizz and channel its flavors into the mouth instead of up to the nose.
Dessert Wine: Dessert wines are traditionally served in sippers or glasses characterized by their smaller, more compact shape. This helps to accentuate the aromas and flavors of the wine as well. It also reinforces the fact that these types of wines are intended to be enjoyed in smaller quantities, due to their rarity.
What about glasses with stems versus those without stems? This is primarily up to preference, though in general, though by holding the stem instead of the bowl, you can avoid transmitting your hand’s natural heat through the glass and preserve the wine’s cooler temperature.
If aeration prior to enjoyment, yet without having to wait, is something that is important to you, we also recommend looking into self-aerating glasses. Glasses with internal cells that funnel the wine into the larger bowl, or micro cuts which, during a swirl, help to agitate the wine and expose more of it to oxygen, minimize an otherwise sometimes tedious process of decanting and aeration.
At the end of the day, which glass you drink you wine in comes down to personal preference, though if you want to get the most out of your wine drinking experience we would recommend making sure that you have a larger glass to enjoy red wines, and a smaller one to enjoy white wines with.
Enjoy and let us know what you think!
Because red and white wines Lastly, if you enjoy reds and whites and want to optimize your enjoyment of both, it is recommended that you purchase two sets of glasses.
You open a bottle of wine and pour yourself a glass, enjoying the occasion for a celebration. You swirl the contents of your glass appreciatively, and- there! At the bottom of the glass, something glitters. You look at the bottom of the cork and find… diamonds. Wine diamonds.
Wine diamonds are naturally occurring and in fact, harmless. They are made from potassium acid tartrate, a potassium salt commonly found in fruits—especially grapes—and can form in your wine during cold storage.
As it turns out, wine diamonds signify quality wine. The longer grapes are left to mature on the vine (which is a precursor for crafting a quality wine,) the more acid builds and accumulates, forming the starter of the diamonds.
The presence of wine diamonds is also a suggestion of the wine’s production process. Many manufactured wines go through “cold stabilization.” This is when the wine is intentionally cooled and left at a low temperature for an extended period of time, after which inclusions are removed. The appearance of wine diamonds in your bottle means your wine’s production process did not include this stage. This is a good thing, because it means it was “crafted” with less manipulation.
Why do manufacturers do this? Years of retail business and millions of bottles distributed, manufacturers and distributors received many bottles back from retail stores and had to credit (goodwill) for those bottles, consumers brought back or refused to enjoy a bottle because of the presence of wine diamonds. Many retail store clerks not knowing what it is or unable to explain are afraid of losing a customer or the customer is always right, prematurely offering exchanges or credits, which are passed on to the distributor and they to the manufacturer. A big accounting and customer service nightmare.
We believe in transparency and education. KingFrosch fans know for years if they open a bottle and find a wine diamond, they know that this is how we roll, all natural and we are doing it right, all the time.
So, if you find wine diamonds in your next bottle, consider yourself rich in both quality and experience!
Cheese, balsamic vinegar, and wine are examples of just a few items in a human’s diet that get better with age.
We have to ask, though, what makes wine age well?
First, it’s important to note that because of the production process, all wine is aged to a certain extent. While certain red wines progress through the fermentation stage for years, white wines typically do not need as much time before they are bottled and sold.
So, how can you determine which wines will age well?
One way to determine this, according to Binwise, is to pay attention to the wine’s sugar content. The higher the sugar content, the better wine will do with time. Ports and dessert wines tend to have much higher sugar levels and can age well for up to 100 years!
Higher levels of acidity can also help a wine age better and last longer. The longer a wine ages, the more it loses its acidity and “flattens,” so starting with higher levels will help it last for the long haul.
After the wine is bottled, certain chemical reactions occur through aging and result in the formation of phenolic compounds. Tannins, the most popular for these compounds, alter the character of the wine, including mouth feel, flavor profile, color, and aroma. Wines with higher levels of tannins that are also well-balanced will smooth out over time.
In non-fortified wines, alcohol levels can cause the wine to turn vinegary at a much faster rate. In general, the lower the alcohol level (13.5% or below) in non-fortified wines will age the best, while an ABV percentage of 17-20% in fortified wines will last the longest.
If you’re looking for varietals to age in a collection, we recommend the following from King Frosch:
We would like to note, King Frosch wines age in their bottles. While our red wines mature, our whites may change in color and flavor as time passes. As a result, we recommend our white wines be enjoyed within one to two years.
We’ve all heard the old adage that we should drink red wines at room temperature, while drinking white wines chilled.
Why do we drink different wines at different temperatures?
Why is that? Chemistry! Red wines, especially those that are bigger and bolder, have tannins that provide nuance to flavor. If a red wine is chilled, the flavor may lose some of the lighter, more enjoyable nuances. Conversely, white wines have higher acidity, which, at warmer temperatures, can introduce unwanted tasting “noise.” By chilling the white wines, the flavor profile tightens, effectively muting some of that noise so that we may better enjoy the lighter, fruitier elements1 of the beverage.
What are these recommended temperatures?
But what is “room temperature,” and what is “chilled”? Many wine experts share the opinion that Americans actually drink their red wine too warm, and their white wines too cold. Part of this issue stems from the fact that “room temperature” in Europe really means cellar temperature, which tends to be around 55F to 65F. Room temperature in the United States, however, is approximately 72F 2 . Furthermore, refrigerators typically chill food to 37F, but experts state that white wine should be enjoyed between 45F and 50F1. This means that red wine is typically drunk 7 to 17 degrees warmer than intended, while white wine is drunk 8 to 13 degrees colder than what is recommended.
How do we reach the recommended temperatures?
So, how should we get wine to its intended temperature? Like many things, good planning plays an important role. If you have red wine at room temperature, just place it in the fridge about 45 minutes before you plan on enjoying it. If you have white wine at room temperature, place it in the fridge about two hours before you wish to drink it. You can also keep both red and white wine in the refrigerator, and then take the red out about half an hour before you wish to enjoy it3, and take the white out approximately 15 minutes before enjoyment. As a rule of thumb, the lighter the wine, the longer it should be in the fridge, and the heavier the wine, the shorter amount of time it needs to be chilled.
As always, recommendations are purely guidelines. Wine is for your enjoyment, so feel free to experiment with temperatures and stick with your own personal preference!
Love wines, hate headaches? If you love wines but are getting tired of over-oaked Chardonnays and big reds with too much alcohol and a harsh finish, you should try King Frosch All Natural Wines. The wines you drink should make you feel good, not give you a headache or be hard to swallow. Fresh, young, fun, yet old world at the same time, the King Frosch line of All Natural wines is converting wine, cocktail and beer drinkers into wine lovers. These wines are not pretentious or snobby. They are just as likely to appeal to a “big red” wine drinker who never drinks white wine, as they are to white wine drinkers who are tired of oak, oak and more oak. Most importantly, many of our customers say they don’t get headaches when they enjoy our wines.
ALL NATURAL ESTATE WINES
King Frosch evolved from a partnership between BBG Wines and several small to medium sized family vineyards located in Rheinland Pfalz and the Rheinhessen grape growing regions of Germany. Today the King Frosch line features over 50 different wines, something for every palate. From dry and fruity Rieslings to amazing rare reds and sparkling wines, we have it all. Plus, our award-winning ice-wines shouldn’t be missed.
DISCOVER THE OTHER SIDE OF GERMAN WINE
BBG Wines owner, Klaus Bellinghausen, developed the King Frosch brand in order help more people discover the great tastes of German wines. “It’s still hard to explain to people that not all German wines are sweet! Or that we have red wines!”
MAKE THE LEAP
The King Frosch label represents the German fairy tale about the Frog King that is transformed into a prince. King Frosch wines are designed to transform your ideas about German wine. Open a bottle and discover a world of wines so clean and refreshing, you’ll wonder why it took you so long to make the leap.
CRAFTED ACCORDING TO OLD WORLD TRADITIONS
King Frosch wines are produced according to strict German wine laws and feature the lowest histamine and sulfite levels in the world. How low? Only 20 parts per million, in comparison to U.S. produced wines which can have 320 parts per million. The majority of King Frosch wines are fermented in stainless steel tanks instead of oak barrels, preventing the addition of histamines from oak.
NATURAL MEANS FEWER WINE HEADACHES
King Frosch wines deliver pure tastes, with the lowest levels for histamines and sulfites and no artificial flavors, coloring or sugars that do not naturally occur. Our repeat customers call them “the no headache wines.” King Frosch wines are clean and refreshing.
OUR CUSTOMERS SAY:
“Red wines usually give me a headache after one or two glasses, but the King Frosch Dornfelder didn’t have that effect on me. I love it!”
“I thought I couldn’t enjoy a glass of wine again without feeling bad or tired, and then I tried a King Frosch Dry Riesling and it was perfect!” We will be sharing more online testimonials and videos from our very satisfied wine lovers. If you want to add your comments or share your King Frosch experiences, please leave a comment.
PERFECT WITH FOOD
King Frosch wines, especially our Rieslings, match well with a wide variety of foods. With low alcohol levels, subtle fruit tastes balanced by acidity and tinged with minerality and terroir, our Rieslings are easy to pair with food. They are also very easy to like and thanks to King Frosch, easy to understand. Ask any wine expert which grape is considered the King of Grapes–it’s the Riesling! But don’t take the expert’s word for it, find out for yourself.
GREAT PRICE POINTS
King Frosch Wines are not over priced or underpriced, now you can get exclusive imported wines at a great value. Why guess at what might taste good when you shop for wines at the supermarket? Have King Frosch Wines delivered to your home or office and you can be sure you will have wines you and your guests will love on hand. Avoid the hit and miss at the store–get wines you like for sure.