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Readers speak out on boxed wine, cooking wine and more

This quarterly column lets you talk back. And talk you have. Your letters are getting feistier and funnier. Keep it up, my fanatical wino friends. E-mail corkscrew@creativeloafing.com.

Lane from Charlotte writes: "You said in this week's column [July 14, 2005] that if a bottle of wine has been in your cabinet for over two weeks, it's shit, etc. Maybe this is obvious, but did you mean two weeks after it has been opened? Would it make a difference if it had been refrigerated?"

Also, you indicated that you do drink some boxed wine. Can you recommend some? And does boxed wine retain its freshness longer than opened bottle wine?

Yes, I meant two weeks after it has been opened, and refrigerating opened wine makes a tiny bit of difference, but not much. Boxed wines I would recommend are Wine Block's Merlot and Hardy's Shiraz. Boxed wine stays fresh up to three months after being opened.

Krisleitel@aol.com asked: "I received a bottle of Louis Jadot Beaujolais-Villages 2000 a couple years ago as a gift. Not knowing a lot about wine, I thought it would be a good wine to save for a special occasion. Was I right in my assumption or should I drink it on the next rainy night?"

Beaujolais and Beaujolais Villages are meant to be consumed within about two years after bottling. They won't taste bad after that, just not as fresh. But pop that cork soon, even on a sunny day.

Gina Cook of Atlanta wrote: "Regarding your previous article on cooking with wine [July 14, 2005]: well done and long overdue! I caution my clients [at Sherlock's Wine Merchants in Brookhaven] to NEVER buy the stuff labeled 'cooking wine,' as it's so chock-full of sodium and, often, preservatives, plus, they run close to $5 for a tiny bottle -- you can get a Chilean Sauvignon Blanc for that. Overall, if using white, I almost always use Sauvignon Blanc or, if I have a decent Pinot Grigio, that's a compromise. ... And I really dig using Zinfandel for cooking reds, even in my tomato sauce (the matriarchs of my Italian family would perish the thought of using anything but Chianti). Like Sangiovese, Zinfandel has the superb capability of cutting through acidic tomatoes. Weird but true."

Jay Pontrelli advises: "Try the 2003 Camelot Pinot Noir -- A killer $6 bottle of simple but true varietal Pinot. And there's even a pleasant trace of that old Pinot funk. One of the best deals I have come across in a while."

Maria Coppola affirms: "You are right that Merlot is a favorite, especially for wine drinkers like me who mostly drink Chardonnay [Aug. 11, 2005]. I think people should stop taking wine advice from movies. ... I especially loathe publications like our local magazine, [which] has jumped on the 'bash Merlot' bandwagon. (They wrote a review of a wine bar recently with a snide comment saying something like 'A great place to get a glass of wine, as long as it's not Merlot -- GASP.') Gimme a break. Cabs are not for everyone!"

cindu89@hotmail.com of Jacksonville asks: "About a month ago, you critiqued Hope Estates Verdehlo Hunter Valley [July 7, 2005]. The wine sounds wonderful; unfortunately, the wine shops in Jacksonville have never heard of it. Do you know where I could purchase the wine? Thanks for any suggestions."

The wines I review are all available in the markets where Corkscrew publishes, but specific retailers are not my forte. You can, however, order them directly from the distributor through any friendly wine shop.

corkscrew@creativeloafing.com

Recommended Wine

Columbia Valley 2004 Gewurztraminer Columbia Valley (Washington). SW = 4. $9. Smooth, sweet and perfumey, with apricots and nectarines. Very easy to drink and slightly fizzy on the tongue. 3 stars.

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