These are the questions that are most frequently asked us. If you can't find the answer to the subject you are interested in, click on the "ask the winemaker" button and we'll help you out.
What kind of wine goes well with chocolate?
Traditionally, red wine is not considered to be the ideal partner for chocolate; in fact, it's one of those pairings that is reviled by sommeliers and experts, who recommend accompanying chocolate with a sweet wine.
However, the tannins in red wine, which had alarmed so many as they intensified the chocolate's bitterness, are no longer an obstacle to enjoying both products together. The public at large can now enjoy chocolates that are increasingly diversified and finer, while red wines with powerful palates and long ageing are getting smoother and can now accompany products hitherto considered to be their "enemy".
It's also curious to see how chocolate producers are using more and more terminology related to the world of wine to classify their different products (% of cocoa in the composition of the chocolate, origin of the plant, tasting notes, etc.).
Both they and we believe that pairing a good chocolate with wine can be delightful.
To accompany a Gran Sangre de Toro, we recommend a very aromatic dark chocolate that's not too bitter, a Caribbean type (notes of toast, hazelnuts...). However, the Gran Sangre de Toro will have to be one of the later vintages (2005-2006) as, once it ages (more than 7 years), it goes better with meat dishes in gravy.
What is the correct way to taste and prepare a glass of Torres 20 or Jaime I brandy?
The rules for tasting spirits differ quite extensively from those used in wine tastings.
Compared with the alcohol content of 11, 14, 16 and even 18 degrees of the different kinds of wine, the alcohol content of young spirits that have just come out of the still sometimes exceeds 70º, while aged and/or reduced alcohol spirits have between 40-45º, although there are some exceptions with a higher alcohol content.
A drink with an alcohol content of 60-70º makes the lips swell and deadens the palate.
The alcohol content is the main component that means that spirits cannot be drunk/tasted in the same way as wines.
Torres 20 is a brandy made with the varieties of Parellada and Ugni Blanc in Catalonia. Torres 20 is more similar to a French cognac and can be compared, in a tasting, with a Cognac X.O. or vieille réserve, etc. In 1997 and in 2006 our Torres 20 brandy beat the best cognacs and brandies in the world at the famous International Wine and Spirit Competition.
How to drink brandy
- In a transparent, fine glass.
- Use a normal size tulip or "snifter" glass.
- Serve the right amount so that, when the glass is raised to the nose, no brandy is spilt.
- The drink can be warmed up slowly with the hand to release its aromas. It's not advisable to warm the drink artificially.
Each of our brandies has specific characteristics that make them very different and incomparable with the rest. However, Torres 20 and Jaume I do share the fact that they are brandies to be enjoyed unhurriedly and calmly after a good meal. They're very noble brandies with a beautiful colour and fine aromas.
Is wine fattening?
May is the prime month for diets. The threat of summer is on the horizon and, to a greater or lesser extent, we all start to worry about how we'll look in a swimsuit. So we'll throw in our own tuppenceworth and give you some good news about your diet this year. Please continue reading.
Almost everyone knows that wine is made by fermenting grape juice but you can be sure a lot of people don't know what's in it. Its main component is water (approximately 85%), followed by ethanol alcohol (between 11% and 14%) and other elements such as acids (for example tartaric and malic), polyphenols, proteins and vitamins (don't forget that it comes from fruit, so it has Vitamin C and B2, for example). Notice that we haven't even mentioned fat. But, unfortunately, that doesn't mean it won't add on weight. As doctors keep telling us, the only thing that doesn't make you fat is what you leave on the plate!
Wine is not a low calorie drink, it's not a "light" product but one or two glasses of wine can form part of a healthy diet. In fact, it's one of the basic elements in our famous Mediterranean Diet. Even the Spanish Society of Community Nutrition recommends wine as part of a healthy diet. The calories in wine mainly come from its alcohol content, in other words the ethanol alcohol. Give or take a calorie, we can reckon that one glass of wine will contain between 80 and 100 calories (a little more if it's a sweet wine). The problem comes when we don't burn off these calories. And to avoid this, the best recipe is always to avoid a sedentary lifestyle and do some sport.
What wines are the most appropriate for smoked products?
Smoked products usually go well with wines that have been noticeably aged in wood.
Apart from that, it depends on the kind of food we want to enjoy with the wine. The typical smoked salmon or trout would go well with Atrium Chardonnay, Milmanda, Viña Gigi from Jean Leon or a Chardonnay from the Marimar Estate.
With smoked meats, we need to look for red wines with a strong Mediterranean character, as they naturally have smoky notes. A Salmos (D.O.C Priorat), Nerola red (D.O. Catalunya) or simple a Sangre de Toro (D.O. Catalunya) depending on the type of meat we're going to eat.
Of course, we mustn't forget rosé wines, although they are not normally aged in wood. These have aromas of spices and aromatic herbs that go well with the powerful palate of smoked food. We recommend trying De Casta.
The world of cheeses is so huge and diversified that we can't give any specific recommendations for pairing smoked cheeses and wines. However, we would dare to suggest that a white would go better with "young" cheeses and long-aged reds with highly cured cheeses. But since this depends as much on the type of milk used as how the cheese is actually made, we can't make any more suggestions without the risk of getting it wrong.
Shopping for a wine: what do I look for?
When we go to buy a bottle of wine, we often have doubts regarding the best choice for its intended use, in other words, the type of food or the type of celebration that it will be accompanying. Whatever the case, below you will find some important advice to follow, regardless of the wine that you plan to buy. It is important to pay attention to certain things that will help you in making your decision.
The first thing to bear in mind is the shop's storage conditions. In this sense, there are two basic types of wine vendors: supermarkets or large chain stores, and specialised shops. Though it is true that it is best to store all wines horizontally and in places that are sheltered from any source of direct light, in general, the wines sold in supermarkets are not stored this way. That said, we must point out that the wines found in supermarkets are intended for quick consumption and a fast turn-around. In other words, the bottles are not on the shelves for very long, meaning that these two storage requirements do not affect the wine as much. Specialised stores, on the other hand, carry more delicate and special wines that need to be bottle-aged for longer periods to improve their properties, and in this latter case, it is important that they are stored horizontally and away from any direct source of light or sunlight.
When you pick up the bottle, be sure to have a look at the colour of the wine. The wine should not look oxidised. How do you know if the wine has an oxidised colour? Well, oxidised white wines have more golden, amber and brownish hues. Rosés take on an orangey or coppery tone when they are oxidised, and reds become brickish in colour. With transparent glass bottles, it is easier to check for these oxidised colours.
For example, let's say that you find a bottle of 2002 VIÑA SOL in the shop today, in 2010. Because VIÑA SOL is a young white wine that should be consumed within a year of its harvest (which is when it is pale yellow in colour and has fresh green apple and fennel aromas), you will see that the wine has "expired". In other words, it will be an intense golden colour and its aroma will have lost its freshness. In this case, we recommend finding a more recent vintage.
It is also important to look at the wine's packaging: be sure that it has a capsule to keep air from coming into the bottle, and make sure that the capsule is in good condition. The bottle should also have a label to identify the origin of the wine.
The label should include certain information that is required by law: the name or brand, the bottler's registration number, the distributor or importer, the volume, the alcohol content, the wine lot number, etc.
The label may include other information such as the type of product (dry, sweet, etc.), the vintage, the varietal, awards and the wine production method. This is additional information on the wine; however, this is not normally required by law.
Follow this advice when purchasing a bottle of wine, and you are sure to make a good choice.
What are the different shades of wine?
We begin to enjoy a wine when we pay attention to the different colours it can have when served. This is therefore an important element in wine tasting, prior to smelling and actually trying the wine.
We can infer a lot from a wine's appearance, the most important being its state of ageing and conservation, deduced by looking at the rim of the glass.
For example, if we take a young white wine such as Viña Sol, it will have steely green-yellow highlights, indicating the wine has been well conserved. This kind of white wine should never have the dark gold highlights typical of white wines aged in wood, such as Gran Viña Sol. However, both young and aged whites should coincide in being bright and vivid in appearance.
The nuances in red wines also tell us about their age. Wines such as Atrium Merlot, with a short period spent in wood, has a purplish trim that will first be garnet in hue and then turn orange over the years. Wines aged for longer in wood may immediately be garnet or russet in colour, although their colour will evolve much more slowly in the bottle.
Rosé wines are very similar to reds. The wine Santa Digna Rosé from the recent 2009 harvest has a violet tinge that will turn salmon towards the end of its life.
It's therefore important to appreciate the colour of a wine, as this can quickly tell us its state of health. However, we must always remember to use a white background to avoid altering our perception and getting the wrong impression.
What wine should I choose for a romantic dinner?
February is the month for romance "par excellence". Most countries and cultures celebrate this day for lovers, Valentine's day. This typically western tradition goes back to the days of ancient Greece and Rome.
Since the 80s it has also become very popular in China and Taiwan, particularly amongst young people. A relatively new tradition as there "Qi Qiao Jie" is celebrated on day 7 of the seventh month in the lunar calendar. Valentine's day is now also celebrated in India and Pakistan.
In Japan it has been celebrated since the middle of the 20th century, popularised by the Morozoff chocolate company in 1936. The curiosity in this case is that it's the women that give chocolates to the men, whether they be family members, friends or workmates. In return the men return the favour a month later on March 14th, White Day, when gifts of white chocolate, marshmallows or anything white, even underwear, are given.
Seduction, romance and love are both words and at the same time emotions that all of us like feeling and celebrating. And wine can make a contribution. In fact, all wines are romantic but for special occasions, especially on the first date, is where we propose two white wines that send us directly on the road to passion, as their subtle sweetness and flavour gliding across the palate stimulate our most delicate senses.
Our San Valentín reminds us that any day can be Valentine's Day. It's ideal served with seafod, particularly clams and crab - aphrodisiacs that can imcrease desire and lead to love.
And if we want to seduce and be seduced at the same time, why not try Viña Esmeralda, a delicate, elegant and aromatic wine. Excelent with seafood and sublime with seafood and avocado cocktail; as well as with fish, pâtés and seafood rice dishes.
My boss has invited me to dinner. What wine should I take?
Inevitably, there comes a time in the career of all employees when the boss proposes a get-together outside office hours. Of all the possible options, the worst is being invited to dinner at your boss's home: you fret about the decor, about making conversation with the spouse, the awful children... So you should start by lightening the atmosphere and easing the tension, and what better way to break the ice than with a good wine?
There's an infallible rule that says all bosses are carnivores. What's more, their fondness for red wine is usually directly proportional to the level they reached in the firm. So, by logical deduction, and so as not to slip up, you should opt for a heady, classic red (this is no time for experiments).
Depending on your budget (and salary), you could opt for a Jean Leon Gran Reserva or a Mas la Plana, but if you really want that promotion, then don't mess around: take a Vega Sicilia or a Grans Muralles.
However, we should warn you that bosses who are true sybarites will have already prepared the perfect wines to match the dinner, and there's nothing more inopportune than forcing them to spoil the perfect fusion by opening the bottle you've brought.
A suggestion: a sweet wine for dessert. Choose one with an unusual origin and curious production technique, enough to drive any gourmet crazy. A wine of "pourriture noble" or noble rot (be it a Hungarian Tokaji, an Oremus, Sauternes, Château Lafon or a Chilean Vendimia Tardía), or a German ice wine or "Eiswein" (from the Egon Müller family, for example). Subtle and exquisite, your choice will be quite impressive.
What wine to ask for when travelling?
Good trips are the ones that start the minute you get your suitcase out of the attic and close the front door to the house, leaving you with that wonderful HOLIDAY feeling. A great trip should also give you thrilling new experiences and sensations, including the wine. But the truth is that very much depends on where you travel and when you go; to get to know and taste new wines can be a pleasure or a horror. It's a given fact that in any traditional wine-growing region you will find some excellent wines, but also some that are less so. You can of course be daring and take your chances, but here we'd like to offer some tips to help avoid unfortunate mistakes.
Firstly, it's important to make clear that not all areas can produce good wines. The vine has certain climatic demands that mean it is best cultivated between the latitudes of 30 and 50 in either hemisphere. Outside of these areas, the vine has difficulty in acclimatising, and the results, are usually (though not always) fairly mediocre.
Then there is the question of grape variety: they are infinite, but not all are created equal: some are superior to others; some do better in the cold, others in rain, still others in sunshine. Indigenous varieties that have flourished over the centuries however, and have adapted to the terroir and climate are usually original, distinctive and represent a terroir that transcends both techniques and fashion.
Finally, you must keep in mind that producers with a solid tradition, such as family winemakers, have the advantage of experience, and knowledge of the land that has been passed down generation by generation over the years. What you get as a result are wines that show a perfect expression of the land that they come from, and the spirit and philosophy of the family that created them.
We recommend visiting the PFV website, an association of families across the world with a common passion for making wines that reflect their origins. We guarantee, you will not be disappointed.
What do wines smell of?
Every time we enjoy a wine, there are many different aromas that stimulate our sense of smell. But can we identify where they come from?
Aromas are divided into three types: primary, secondary and tertiary, all natural and originating from some moment in the winemaking process.
Primary aromas correspond to the wine's origins and express its grape variety, the vineyard, climate, soil, etc. For example, we can find tropical fruit aromas like lychee, which we identify with the Gewürztraminer variety used in Viña Esmeralda.
Secondary aromas come about during winemaking. Have you never wondered where the smell of bread comes from in many wines, such as champagne? This aroma is produced by the yeast during the alcoholic fermentation and we relate it to bread because it's the same yeast as the raising agent used in dough.
Tertiary aromas are produced while the wine is being aged in the cask and then in the bottle. For example, in Mas La Plana we can easily find aromas of toast and spices, an expression of its having been aged for 18 months in French oak, as well as other aromas like leather, produced during its time in the bottle. These last aromas constitute the wine's definitive bouquet.
All these aromas go to make up a wine's complexity. But don't despair if, at first, you find it difficult to identify them, as it's a question of training. One tip: devote a little time to smelling everyday things and you'll soon have an aroma data bank that will help you recognise a wine's aroma.
What is an organic wine?
It's a wine whose organic roots start in the vineyard, because the soil must be fed with natural organic fertilisers, such as ground vine shoots, manure and compost.
Mineral nitrogen-based fertilisers are totally forbidden. Neither can the vine be treated with systemic pesticides and only applications of copper, sulphur, biological pest control, etc. are allowed.
At the winery, there is a maximum permitted sulphite level (a compound added during the wine production and ageing process), nor can non-native yeast be added (required for fermentation), as this must come from the same area as the grapes themselves.
How can we know if a wine is truly organic?
Everything must be certified by an authorised body, such as the Consell Català de la Producció Agrària Ecològica (CCPAE) in Catalonia. Wines are certified by means of a sticker on the bottle.
What's the advantage of organic wine?
It's not a question of better or worse quality wines and organic wines can be enjoyed in just the same way as traditional wines. Although wine has always been produced naturally, if we want to find an even more natural wine, then we can choose an organic one.
What are we doing at Torres?
We produce organic wines in Chile,launched onto the market in 2008 as Tormenta, and all the wines from Marimar Estate, have been made 100% with grapes from organic harvests since 2005.
We also produce our Nerola wines under this certification.
Where should I keep wine at home?
It's evident that the person who best knows how to store wine is the winemaker or retailer where we normally make our purchases. This is particularly true of young whites and rosés, which are wines that, due to their freshness, must be recently bottled and should be consumed as soon as possible.
For those wines that can be kept longer than just a few months (reds and some aged whites), we can think about storing them at home in the following places:
Whatever the location, there are some basic rules to ensure our wine evolves favourably in the bottle:
With regard to the length of time we can keep our wines, we should pay attention to the back label on the bottle, where the best advice can be found.
In any case, when you buy several cases of a red wine, it's advisable to try a bottle every six months.
In "My Wines” at Club Torres Online you can note down your impressions each time you taste a wine and thereby track how it ages.
It will gradually improve until reaching a point where it seems to have stopped evolving. At this point it is advisable to drink the wine within one year.
How long can a wine be kept?
Normally, rosé wines should be drunk while they're still young and fruity. It's therefore not a good idea to keep a bottle for longer than six months at most.
However, in general a white wine can be kept for a maximum of one to two years. Any longer than this and they'll have lost some of their freshness and fruitiness when you finally drink them.
A superb white wine or an exceptional red can be enjoyed perfectly at the time it is bought but, if you have a small cellar, you can also choose to lay them down for a while. You'll discover new sensations and nuances both on the nose and in the mouth.
When you buy several cases of a specific red wine, it's also a good idea to try a bottle every six months. You can even record your own tasting notes at My Wines in Club Torres Online. The wine will gradually improve until it reaches the point where it seems to have stopped evolving. Then it's advisable to drink the wine within a year. In any case, if you don't have a suitable cellar or temperature controlled storeroom, the best thing is to keep just a limited stock of wine.