// Maggie's Wine Corner

Maggie Shippy has worked with wine since she was 18 years old. She started in an Italian restaurant in New Jersey where she was made fun of for being the only blonde amongst a staff of stereotypical looking Italians. She has since gone on to work for some of the top restaurants in the country as well as internationally. She achieved advanced status with honors through WSET (Wine & Spirit Education Trust) to further her status as a Sommelier. 

Maggie curated a 27 page wine list for her own wine bar called Carmella’s (named for her Grandmother) in Portland, Oregon that she ran for five years. She’s loves teaching about wine and taking the pretension away from something that is intended to be enjoyed.

Please submit your wine questions to Maggie via email

How is Ice Wine made?

Simply put, Ice Wine (also known as Eiswein in Germany) is the process of letting the grapes stay on the vine  longer, after the growing season is complete, until it is cold enough outside. The idea here is to let the grapes freeze on the outside, therefore preserving the sugars inside the grape to become extra concentrated. Sugar directly affects the ultimate alcohol level in a wine. So, while some of these wines are perceived very sweet on the palate, they are also extremely high in alcohol and acid to balance the level of sweetness so it does not fall flat on the palate. This is why at a restaurant an Ice Wine will be a smaller pour (usually an ounce and a half to two ounces). It may also seem more pricey which is due to the extended process and labor required to produce Ice Wine. When this ‘syrup’ squeezed from the grapes is fermented, the resulting flavor of the wine is intensely concentrated and a pure reflection of the grapes. 


What are the best grapes for making Pinot Noir?

The best, and only, grape for making Pinot Noir is the Pinot Noir grape variety! Pinot Noir is a very delicate and thin skinned variety of a grape that has to grow in certain climates. Pinot Noir does not fare well in warmer climates so it is preferable for it to grow in a climate that is a little cooler. And, if it's warmer during the day (from a warm front or otherwise) while the grapes are on the vine, ideally a cooler front will come in at night to cool them down. Think of it like this... if it's hot out, the sugar ripeness (otherwise known as phenolic ripeness) will concentrate and heighten the sugars in a grape, therefore directly affecting their alcohol level after fermentation.


Pinot Noir typically is not considered a high sugar/alcohol grape so high heat will throw it off balance. Whereas something like the Cabernet grape is more prosaic and can handle intense weather conditions. Sounds like a good recipe for living in the Finger Lakes region right?! Pinot Noir is adjusting nicely here and will continue to fare better as climate change continues and the vines have spent more years in the ground. Pinot Noir is also one of the three grapes used to make Champagne.  


What about Chardonnay? Isn’t it always full bodied and buttery?

Chardonnay is one of those grapes that excites me because of its adaptability to its surrounding climate. It is commonly  misunderstood that Chardonnay has to adapt to one style. It is quite the opposite. Chardonnay can adapt to almost any climate, therefore it is versatile and made all over the world. If you have had a big buttery Chardonnay you did not care for, you may have found one of the over produced and marketed ones that tends to come from the New World (ie: the Americas and Australia) and is more commonly found at the store.


The idea here was to emulate the gorgeous Burgundian style of aged, luscious and well-balanced Chardonnay from soothing French oak casks. However, those that were produced in larger quantities ended up coming off in what some would call an “off-putting” style to keep up with the demand by taking shortcuts. I have had gorgeous steel fermented Chardonnays that see no oak and are juicy, light, vibrant and crisp. Some that emulate that style come from the Chablis region of Burgundy. The reflection of these wines is so richly pure to that of the Kimmeridgian Limestone rocks and the climate it grows within that you can almost smell the dew and slate off the rocks while sipping your wine with bursts of softened lemons. Not to mention, Chardonnay is also one of the three grapes used in Champagne! And who doesn’t love a good quality Champagne?! 


How long is the shelf life of wine that is uncorked?

Ideally a wine should be consumed within the day after it has been opened. There are a lot of variances to this however. Some things that may affect this could be a big bold wine that can “breathe”. I personally have had a rustic 'tight' Italian bold red that actually tasted better the next day after it was opened. But that is when we get into styles of wine and the amount of age on them.


Additionally, refrigeration is always a good technique for preservation. Keeping wines at cellar temperature, between 12 and 14 degrees Celsius. We have also seen more technology over the years that keeps your wine fresh longer. Most of the time high service restaurants are the ones that can afford these systems because of the level of volume they do, so the investment is justified. There are some preservation systems you can buy for your home, one being the Coravin System, which starts around $100. There is also the Perlage System for sparkling wines. Both of these can keep your wine up to a week after opening. Some Sommeliers may argue that wine preservation systems can alter the intended flavor that the winemaker had in mind for the wine. Others argue it is so subtle that if you want to preserve a pricey bottle it may be worth it.

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