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Corkscrew comments

This quarterly column presents the opportunity to have your wine comments and questions aired. If you have a question, comment or slam, e-mail me at corkscrew@creativeloafing.com.

How Long Can You Wait?

Kim wrote, "My boyfriend and I are purchasing our first home and we have decided to celebrate the purchase by buying a bottle of wine (bottled this year) to open 30 years from now when we pay off the house. What wine would you suggest we purchase?"

Unfortunately, the 2003 wines that will age to a delicious 30 years old still linger in barrels and tanks and won't be bottled until 2004, at the earliest. But, when the 2003 wines hit the shelves, seek out Napa or Bordeaux Cabernet Sauvignon, French Red Burgundies (aged Pinot Noir is heavenly), and rich, earthy Syrahs from Santa Barbara. To keep it palatable until the big day, store the wine in a cool, dry, dark place, like a closet. Or better yet, refinance to a 15-year loan and drink it earlier.

Angry Vegan

Colin asked, "When you get a chance, could you do an exposé on vegan wines and give some recommendations? I believe there are many of us who would prefer to drink wine without consuming ground cow/horse hooves (gelatin) or chicken abortions (eggs)."

Winemakers use egg whites or gelatin as "fining" agents (products used to remove floaty sediment created by fermentation). These natural filters work by clinging to debris, such as dead yeasts and leftover grape skins that are too light to sink, and carrying them to the tank's bottom. After that, the globs are discarded. Although not necessary for winemaking, fining provides bacterial stability and without it, the final juice can be cloudy. Unfortunately, the only non-animal fining alternative is artificial chemicals, which can strip flavor from the wine. However, some wineries don't use the fining process at all, so there's hope for vegans. Look for labels that say "Unfined." Examples are Sonoma's Sapphire Hill, Oregon's Ponzi Winery and kosher wine from wineries like Baron Herzog and Carmel.

Lovin' the Luna

An anonymous e-mailer: "I must say I disagree with your slam of the Luna di Luna brand [in the April 30 Corkscrew]. I've purchased Luna di Luna before on several occasions and never once found it to be 'ugly inside.' If you have a problem with their marketing, that's one thing ... but to flat out tell people not to purchase a brand because the bottles are colorful or trendy ... that seems a bit snobby to me."

Everyone's entitled to their opinion, right?

Brown Baggin'

Debbie wrote, "My husband and I enjoy dining out, but we are usually disappointed in the wine lists and wine prices at local restaurants. Many times we would much rather take a bottle from our wine collection, pay a reasonable corkage fee and enjoy a better wine at a reasonable price with our dinner. Our problem is we don't know who allows customers to bring in their own bottles and what their corkage fee is. Do you have any information on corkage fees to share?"

Bringing your own wine isn't something restaurants publicize because it cuts into profits. But if you call ahead to the restaurateur, chances are they'll oblige because you didn't assume it was OK. A few other rules of thumb:

• Ask up front what the corkage fee is (if it tops $20, rethink your decision).

• Don't brown bag something that's already on the wine list. If you're reaching into their pockets, don't do it obnoxiously.

• Offer a glass of your wine to your server or manager as a gesture, kind of like a gratuity.

• If you drink a second bottle, make sure you buy it from their list.

Wine Editor Taylor Eason can be reached at 813-248-8888 ext. 162 or taylor.eason@weeklyplanet.com

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