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Fined & Filtered
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Fall 2010
 Features at Wine & Spirits

Striking a Balance
Even within one particular region or style, there are great wines with markedly different levels of finesse and power.
      That's what we found out, at least, when we mined our data from the last 12 months of tastings. We looked at varieties by the regions in which they excel, determined the median alcohol level for each, and highlighted the wines that scored highest at each step along the alcohol curve. We interviewed winemakers to get some insight as to how they came to strike such impressive balance, and to investigate why one wine might find balance at 12% when another made from the same variety in the same region might find balance at 14.5.

The complete article is available in the print edition of Wine & Spirits.

Balance at Both Ends
You hear it all the time: Wine critics always go for the high-alcohol wines, as they are the more obvious ones in a blind tasting. And then, at the same time: Wine geeks always go for the low-alcohol wines, those that require a more discerning palate. Well, we're wine critics, and we're wine geeks, and we're not abashed to say that we like balanced wines from 8.5% to 20. Here, our critics highlight some of their favorites at both ends of the spectrum.

The complete article is available in the print edition of Wine & Spirits.

On the Level
A German tourist recently came into the village wine outlet I manage in the town of Castiglione Falletto, Italy, looking for a light, simple red wine for an alfresco lunch. "Nicht problema," I said. "Dolcetto d'Alba." But as I started pulling down bottles, I realized many of these simple "little" wines are now packing 14 percent alcohol, enough to blow the picnic—and perhaps the picnickers—out of the water.

The complete article is available in the print edition of Wine & Spirits.

Alcohol & Flavor in Wine
A common call from wine commentators is that wines these days are just too alcoholic—that an obsession with ripe, sweet fruit has launched a raft of monster wines lacking in finesse, with too much of everything. But does this reflect the overdeveloped sensibilities of journalists and sommeliers more than actual consumer preferences? Certainly, there is no shortage of purchasers for big wines with high alcohol levels. So just what is it that we should be concerned about when alcohol levels start to creep past 14 and even 15%?

The complete article is available in the print edition of Wine & Spirits.

The New Cocktail: Less is More
My first meaningful glimpse of the hyperarticulate cocktail world in which we now live occurred a few years ago, when a chef friend took me to a place called Alembic, on Haight Street in San Francisco. They were hosting a Savoy Cocktail Book night, during which guests could pick up one of the 20 or so copies of the classic tome scattered about the bar and choose any drink to have made for them. I watched the bartenders, many of whom cultivated that 19th century Gangs of New York look, and I quickly realized that behind the affectation was a serious devotion to craft. They used jiggers for precise measurements. They looked at their watches to count out appropriate stir times. It was precious, but I appreciated it.

The complete article is available in the print edition of Wine & Spirits.