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Glass half-full of reader feedback

Let the Georgians be heard

Mark writes: "...In response to a question about wines from the Republic of Georgia in your Jan. 22 column, you [said] that 'those wacky Ruskies have a long, time-honored swilling tradition ...' Lest your readers become either confused or offended, you should know that Georgian language and culture are quite distinct from Russian ... the Georgian people would consider being called a Russian a grave insult. In any case, I would encourage you to look at wines from Moldova. Queen Elizabeth supposedly orders many cases of Moldova's best red wine each year."

My apologies to those I might have offended with my comments. Yes, the Republic of Georgia is coming along in the wine world, but certainly not there yet. I can't imagine what Moldovan reds Queen Liz is sipping, most of what I've tasted I wouldn't feed my cat.

Oh Sherry

Jim asks: "As I sit here sipping my Amontillado [sherry], I wish that you would devote a column to sherries. They are terribly underappreciated. People think of sherry as the wine for old ladies."

Jim, I wholeheartedly agree that people should be yanked out of stereotypes. Sherry, a delicious, misunderstood, fortified sipping wine, is a specialty of Southwestern Spain, but also an experimental darling of other parts. For more info, check out the May 15, 2002, column online at atlanta.creative

Sulfites, schmulfites

Rebecca opines: "I wonder if you could help me with something. I am looking for a Merlot with little or no sulfites. ... I am allergic and while I enjoy wine, the sulfites leave me an incredible headache."

Again, loads of bullshit surround the topic of sulfites. Sulfur, a natural bacteria-fighter, frequently gets blamed for causing everything from chronic fatigue syndrome to headaches. The FDA estimates that only 3 percent of people exhibit a true sensitivity to sulfites. And headaches don't equal "allergic" to sulfites. Those who are really "sulfite sensitive" experience difficulty breathing and break out in hives when exposed.

Sulfur is a natural by-product of grapes, and the majority of wineries worldwide (outside the U.S., it's not listed on the label) add additional sulfites during the fermentation process to inhibit bacteria growth. White wine contains almost twice the amount of sulfites than red, so if you're getting headaches with only red wine, you're probably sensitive to the higher histamines or tannins instead.

To avoid headaches, try taking an antihistamine or an aspirin before you indulge. To avoid the drug route, seek organic Merlots from California or French Merlots. Organics are not legally allowed to add additional sulfur to the winemaking process.

Beer blunder

Wayne Wambles from Buckhead Brewery & Grill in Atlanta remarks: "It was very nice to see a beer article in place of the normal wine spot. But [there were] ...a few slight mistakes.

First of all, Guinness is best served at 55 degrees, as are all ales. Lagers (Coors, Budweiser and Miller) are best served at 45 degrees. Also, there is no nitrogen in Guinness Draught, nor is there a nitrogen 'capsule.' [There] is merely a plate that has tiny holes on one side. When the product is packaged, it is topped with liquid nitrogen. This creates excessive pressure within the can or bottle and forces the beer into the widget. When the can or bottle is opened, the beer forced into the widget rushes out violently, creating a shearing effect. The [nitrogen creates a] fine head and the cascading effect. The overall product is more drinkable because it contains only 20 percent-25 percent carbon dioxide and is less gassy.

Thanks for the clarification, Wayne. Good to know attentive people keep me on my toes.

The Mail Bag lets your voice be heard above the roar of my wine rantings. Keep 'em coming. If you have comments or questions, please send them to or

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