Saturday, May 25, 2024

ADVERTISING: Advertorial — We answer your questions

by GEORGE BALLING/the dinner party
| January 18, 2023 1:00 AM

It was great seeing you all over the holidays, whether you were in the shop gathering gifts for those on your list, or attending our events that we held through December we enjoyed seeing all of you. Like all the times when you visit many of you had questions on all things wine, and while we answered them on the spot we suspect that many readers have the same questions, so here are the answers.

Many of you came in looking for a wine that one of those close to you is particularly fond of, making the question can you get this wine or that one? Here in Idaho, we are a bit “hamstrung” by the liquor laws. The way Idaho law is structured, a wine needs to be brought into the state by an Idaho licensed distributor or we are not allowed to carry and sell the wine. Having said that though, we do business with every distributor in the state from here in Coeur d'Alene down to Boise and east to Ketchum and Sun Valley and all point in between. If one of those distributors has the wine, we can get it and are happy to, and we don’t have minimum orders so even if you want just one bottle, we are happy to do it. If we are not able to get the wine because it does not come into Idaho, we will tell you that too.

Wine affects each of us differently, and many of us have allergic reactions to some wine. Unfortunately, sulfites are frequently the easy target for the wine press to claim wine consumers are reacting to. We get the question frequently, is it the sulfites that cause allergic reactions to wine? Maybe or maybe not. Sulfites naturally occur during the fermentation of grapes into wine so one of the quickest tests you can do is to pay attention if you react to both white and red wine, if you do chances are very good that it is not sulfites at all, but rather something else. There are many things in wine you could be reacting to, different yeast strains used to ferment the wine, enzymes and minerals in the soil where the grapes are grown, to the oak barrels used for ageing the wine are all possible culprits. Our best advice is to pay attention to which wines you react to and which treat you more gently. Stick to the varietals, producers and regions whose wines you react less to. Simplistic approach in many ways I know, but it really is the best advice. One more point, the “wands” you wave through the wine or filters you pour it through that claim to remove the sulfites from the wine do not work. The chemical process that could remove sulfites is not only more complex but far more time consuming than is possible from some gadget.

We get many questions regarding the proper temperature for wine, both to consume it and to store it. We’ll take the later question first and for most wine consumers who are storing wine it is far more tolerant of temperature than it gets credit for. Of course if you are storing higher end wines for an extended ageing a temperature controlled cellar or wine cooler is advised. For most of us though who are storing a few cases or so the important thing is to avoid extremes. If you can avoid temperatures above 80 and below 40 your wine will be just fine.

The common saying for temperature and wine consumption is that Americans drink their white wines too cold and their red wines too warm. There is some truth to this notwithstanding the overly broad generalization, as the temperature you consume the wine at does affect both aromatic and flavor profiles. If a wine is consumed too cold you will diminish the fruit character of the wine. If you drink it too warm the wines can taste overly ripe and the tannic structure will be diminished. Here are a couple of simple tricks to better manage the temperature for your wine.

If you keep your white wines in your kitchen refrigerator pull the wine you will be drinking out of the refrigerator and place it on the counter for 15 or 20 minutes, that will bring it to just about the right temp for drinking. Similarly if you store your red wine at room temperature place it in your kitchen refrigerator for about 15 or 20 minutes and again it will be pretty close to ideal drinking temp.

We enjoy getting your questions so send them along or stop in the shop and we are happy to answer them.

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George Balling is co-owner with his wife, Mary Lancaster, of The Dinner Party, a wine and gift shop in Coeur d’Alene by Costco. The Dinner Party has won the award for best wine shop in North Idaho twice, including for 2018.

George is also published in several other publications around the country. After working in wineries in California and judging many wine competitions, he moved to Coeur d’Alene with Mary more than 10 years ago to open the shop.

You can also follow us on Facebook at!/dinnerpartyshop or visit