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Q:I am an avid fan of wine and food pairings, non professional, but still I have fallen in love with the intricacies of wines and how they do their part to maximize a meal's pleasure quotient. My downfall comes from the headaches I often get from drinking wines. I have learned that this comes from the nitrites/nitrates that are often found.

My question is: "What wine do you recommend that are free of these pesky chemicals?"

Your help would be greatly appreciated.

Douglas H. Clayton
Apison, TN

Douglas H. Clayton,
A:Good question. To the best of my knowledge, there is not one particular compound in wine (both white and red) which causes headaches. Some people suggest it is the agrochemicals used in treating vines, which consequently places blame on the wineries. Others believe the grapes have a naturally occurring chemical, which is released during fermentation, causes the problem.

In my opinion, I think the major factor of headaches are caused from the effect alcohol has on the body. It is, in essence, a poison. When consumed, alcohol dehydrates the body and curtails the amount of oxygen flowing to the brain. Dehydration, combined with a limited supply of oxygen, deprives our brains which in turn causes a headache. A headache is the body's signal it is in need of nutrients. Generally one will take an aspirin to thin the blood and drink plenty of water for hydration. However, a headache from wine is often stronger and last longer due to several compounds. These compounds, which provide a feeling of pleasure during consumption, make it harder for our body to metabolize the alcohol causing it to remain in our system longer and the headache stronger.

A good rule of thumb, and not when just drinking wine, is for each glass of wine you should drink one glass of water. The heavier, more tannic red wine will certainly increase the chances of a headache. White wine is generally a safe bet since it is not treated with skin contact and excessive oak.

It would be great if there were wines not soaked in chemicals, but the reality is that all wine is to a certain extent. I would suggest seeking producers which practice more sustainable agriculture techniques (i.e. organic or biodynamic viticulture). I suggest: Polaner Selections, Louis Dressner, Terry Thiese or
David Bowler.

Always ask you retail sales person or sommelier to help find these wines.

--by William Rhodes
--The Carlyle

Q:What foods/dishes would you suggest for the following: a young, an old Hunter Valley Semillion, an South African Semillion, and a white Bordeaux blend?

Felicity ,
A:Young and Old Hunter Valley Semillon
Due to these wines having an off, dry profile, the obvious direction is Foie Gras. I would pair the younger, more assertive Semillon with a saut?ed Foie Gras and the older Semillon with the Torchon or Pate of Foie Gras. A nice alternative is a cheese course, like aged sheep's milk or aged goat such as Old Chatham Sheepherding Company Hudson Valley Camembert or Crottin de Chavignol.

South African Semillon
These are unusual wines. They are less reminiscent of the Bordeaux blended styles from Entre deux Mer, but are not as oily and rich as Semillons from Australia and California. Avoid cheese, dessert and savory dishes due to the dry nature of the wine. These wines work best with a delicate white fish, served in a broth with fresh herbs. My suggestion: Black Sea Bass with artichoke, fennel, fingerling potatoes and bouillabaise jus

Bordeaux Blanc
Bordeaux Blanc has two very styles. The first is ?Pessac Leognan? features a rich texture and oaked style. The other, ?Entre Deux Mer?, offers a light and crisp style. My suggestion for ?Pessac Leognan?: Porkloin.with maitakee mushrooms, pancetta, pearl onions and tarragon jus. My suggestion for ?Entre Deux Mer?: Roasted Diver Scallops celeriac remoulade and shaved summer truffle

--by William Rhodes
--The Carlyle

Q:Is the Chateau Rieussec's Chateau de Cosse the same as Clos Labere (Sauternes)? They are often listed one after the other with a slash in between.

Barbara Zeidman,
Corte Madera CA
A:Chateau de Cosse, Clos Labere and Mayne des Carmes are all labels you may see which are in fact second labels, in other words declassified Rieussec. They also make a dry wine called R de Chateau Rieussec. Similar Idea to the Yquem, and Chateau Y-grec?

--by William Rhodes
--The Carlyle

Q:Some dear friends of mine are getting married shortly, and I'd love to get them three bottles of wine; one good now, one best aged 10 years, and another best aged 25 years, for anniversary purposes. For a total under $100, are there any wines you'd suggest?

Jessi Bathgate,
A:I would suggest?
After 5 years: Chateau L'Evangile, Pomerol 1970 ? An underrated vintage for these wines.

After 10 years: Livio Sassetti, ?Pertimali?, Brunello di Montalcino 2001 ? A classic vintage which will be ready to drink at the couple's tenth anniversary.

After 25 years: Ridge, "Monte Bello," Santa Cruz Mountains 1999 ? In my opinion, this is one of the best Californian meritage producers. I have some of my favorite 20 year-old California wine from this producer.

--by William Rhodes
--The Carlyle

Q:We have a 2003 Goisot for St. Bris, France on our list. I thought that all whites from Burgundy were Chardonnay, but this has Sauvignon written on the lable. Is this a Sauvignon or a Chardonnay -- can you explain?

Looking forward to hearing from you.



deet gilbert,
charlotte, n.c.

You would be surprised what grows in Burgundy. We are all lead to believe that white is Chardonnay and Red is Pinot Noir except in Beaujolais which is made from Gamay. What you have on your list is an AOC wine Called Sauvignon St Bris. It is made from Sauvignon Blanc and is specific to the area of St. Bris. This is an appellation near/in Chablis. They also make red wine which is AOC from Cesar Grapes (red wine) and Tressot (red wine)from Irancy also in and around Chablis. These wines are not labeled as chablis because it's AOC only permits white wine to be made from chardonnay in order to be called Chablis.
Not only are these grapes there (Chablis) but in Burgundy you can find AOC wine made from Aligote called Aligote de Bouzeron. The rest of Burgundy also has some Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris and Sacy growing but nothing is made at the AOC level with 100% of the mentioned varieties. Hope this helps!

All the Best

--by William Rhodes
--The Carlyle

Q:I am making a mushroom filling for Beef Wellington and it calls for Maderia or other sweet wine. Can I use Marsala? Suggestions?

arlington heights

Well not really, even though much of the product is cooked down and in some sauces barely noticeable, Madeira is one of those unique fortified wines that is actually cooked hence "Maderized" hence the name we know it as "Madeira". This cooking process creates a very unique profile for this wine, one that can never be mistaken. I suppose you could... get a way with Marsala and I might be a bit of a purist when it comes to following recipes. However, many chefs that I have worked with in there kitchens always tell me if the recipe asks for a specific wine/alcohol, there is a reason!

All the Best

--by William Rhodes
--The Carlyle


I am thinking about being a sommelier someday. Right now I have a BS in Biology and work at a lab doing cancer research. Also, as a part time job, I am an independant wine consultant for The Traveling Vineyard. To make it as a sommelier would it be best, in your opinion, for me to get a master's degree in oenology and viticulture first? If not, what would be a good game plan for me? Thank you so much for your time.
Christie Mahaffey

Christie Mahaffey,
Dallas, TX

Funny, I started off my college career in a Biology/Pre-medical program. I think that you do not need to go to school to get a degree in oenology to be sommelier. If you wanted to make wine it might be usefull. But again, these days there are more and more high quality wines being produced by individuals who have no credential/degree whatsoever. I think what would be usefull is to get a part time job at a relatively good restaurant- fine dining preffered, which has a seasoned Sommelier. That way you can live the day and the life and learn from someone who has practical experience. You will be able to see if the environment is right for you. Being a Sommelier involves a lot more then people think. Many times what you do as a Sommelier has nothing to do with wine at all, at the end of the day it is all about hospitality!

--by William Rhodes
--The Carlyle

Q:A 1979 Coulee de Serrant, should it my served cellar temperture(59F) or more towards a frigeration temperture. I lean more towards cellar temperture, but I know what makes these wines so special is their freshness and zip they maintain with age. I go back and forth, but plan on drinking it real soon with much excitement. Thanks

A:Serve the wine at cellar temperature. With older wines, white and red it is best not to shock them by bringing the temperature too low or too high. You have probably kept it for a while at the current temperature and is going to be glorious when you open it. What I would recommend doing with such a wine with high acid, particularly from that vintage is decant it.

All the Best

--by William Rhodes
--The Carlyle


A:WOW! It is so rare to find older california bottles in large format especially something like Inglenook. This Winery has such a fantastic storied past, it is along with BV, Charles Krug, Louis Martini and Mondavi one of the great Estates of California in Napa Valley. John Daniel was the owner for many years and with the help of famed enologist Andr? Tchelistcheff who really created the road map for high quality Bordeaux Style wines. Unfortunately the winery was sold and when it was the new owners focused not on high end cabernet but bulk wine, which is why you will often see it packaged in 4l jugs. The better portions of the estate were acquired by one famous name, Coppola and used in there famous Rubicon red blend. As far as the 1985, it was an attempt to re-create the magic that was once the estate. I have had many older vintages of Ingelnook and they are incredible examples of how Californian wines can evovle and last. In the open market, which I consider the Auction Market, I do not think that the wine will have enormous value. Collectors these days are avoiding older California wine in any format with the exception of some of our early cult wines from the 90's like Screaming Eagle, Harlan and Colgin. My suggestion is to have a party and pop the cork since the wine in my opinion is ready to drink. If you have any questions on how to open and work with a 6L bottle please let me know!

All the Best!

--by William Rhodes
--The Carlyle

Q:How can I have Sake sommelier certificaste in U.S?

Young Wha Kim,
A:I think sooner rather then later you will see programs springing up that will offer some creditial for those of us interested in Sake education. Currently with major organizations such as the Court of Master Sommeliers and Master of Wine Program it is discussed yet not a focus. Perhaps we should start one! There are classes that are offered and the best place to find that information is to visit Sake Guru John Gauntner's web page

All the Best

--by William Rhodes
--The Carlyle

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