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Practical Wine Talk: A Physician-Winemaker Examines Wine

Practical Wine Talk: A Physician-Winemaker Examines Wine

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Practical Wine Talk: A Physician-Winemaker Examines Wine

394 pagine
5 ore
May 31, 2013


The author approaches the subject of wine from the standpoint of its Medical, Scientific, Historical, Sensory, Cultural, and Health viewpoints. He tells you the Why, as well as the What. The book is a well-organized collage of essays written on the numerous subjects in the world of wine, food, and health. The book starts from the basics, through the components and what influences them, Wine defects, how and why you taste and why you like what you like, the various wines, various wine tools, and then moves to pairing with food, wine service, and finally the health benefits and risks of wine consumption. One chapter is guest-written by Tim Hanni, MW, a Master of Wine from California.
May 31, 2013

Informazioni sull'autore

The author is a retired Physician who has been a Winemaker since 1971. He has owned, managed a winery, and created wine for the last 29 years. He received his formal training in Napa, California and has travelled extensively all over the world studying wine and winemaking. He has lectured on the subject of “The Health Benefits of Wine” and is a member of several Wine and Food organizations all over the world.

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Practical Wine Talk - Charles R. Thomas


Table of Contents



Vetting the Author

Part 1 Start with the Basics

Chapter 1


Chapter 2

Wine Types

Chapter 3

Wine Styles

Chapter 4

Wine Styles: Soil

Chapter 5

Wine Styles: Grape

Chapter 6

Wine Styles: Climate

Chapter 7

Wine Styles: The Winemaker

Chapter 8

Wine Styles: Weather—Good or Bad?

Chapter 9

Wine Styles: Winemaking Influence

Part 2 Wine Tasting

Chapter 10

Wine Styles: The Components

Chapter 11

Wine Styles: Aroma

Chapter 12

Wine Styles: Bouquet

Chapter 13

Wine Styles: What is Wine?

Chapter 14

Wine Styles: Tasting Protocol

Chapter 15


Chapter 16

Big Bottles

Chapter 17

Bottle Shape

Chapter 18


Chapter 19

Synthetic Corks

Chapter 20

Screw Caps

Chapter 21


Chapter 22

Organic Wines

Part 3 Wine Defects to Avoid

Chapter 23

Wine Defects

Chapter 24

Wine Defects: Sulfites

Chapter 25

Wine Defects: Sulfites - Part 2

Chapter 26

Wine Defects: Sulfites - Part 3

Chapter 27

Wine Defects: Sulfites - Part 4

Chapter 28

Wine Defects: Mercaptans

Chapter 29

Wine Defects: High Alcohol

Chapter 30

Wine Defects: Cork Taint

Part 4 Varietal Wines

Chapter 31


Chapter 32


Chapter 33

Sauvignon Blanc

Chapter 34


Chapter 35

Grüner Veltliner

Chapter 36

Sparkling Wine

Chapter 37

Tiny Bubbles

Chapter 38

Irving Smith Kogan

Chapter 39


Chapter 40

Pinot Noir

Chapter 41


Chapter 42

Cabernet Franc & Friends

Chapter 43


Chapter 44

Cabernet Sauvignon

Chapter 45

Other Varietals

Chapter 46

Dessert Wines

Chapter 47

Ice Wine

Chapter 48

Oddball Wines

Chapter 49


Chapter 50

A New Wine - Slender

Chapter 51


Part 5 Tools of the Trade

Chapter 52

Gadgets: Corkscrew

Chapter 53

Gadgets: The Foil

Chapter 54

Gadgets: The Foil Cutter

Chapter 55

Gadgets: Decanting

Chapter 56

Gadgets: The Wine Funnel

Chapter 57

Gadgets: The Non-Drip Pourer

Chapter 58

Gadgets: The Aerator

Chapter 59

Gadgets: Herbert Allen Remembered

Chapter 60

Gadgets: The Champagne Key

Chapter 61

Gadgets: The Champagne Stopper

Part 6 Buying and Keeping

Chapter 62

Wine Aging

Chapter 63

Wine Storage

Part 7 Your order, Sir?

Chapter 63

Wine Service

Chapter 64

The Complete Tasting

Chapter 66

Serving Temperature

Chapter 67


Chapter 68

Pulling the Cork

Chapter 69

The Difficult Cork

Chapter 70

The Tasting Protocol

Part 8 What goes with this food?

Chapter 71

Wine Pairing with Food

Chapter 72

Esoteric Considerations:

Chapter 73

Setting the Table

Chapter 74

Planning your Dinner

Chapter 75

Planning Your Dinner-2

Chapter 76

Flavor Matching

Chapter 77

The Weight of Wine

Chapter 78

Cooking with Wine

Chapter 79

Low Acid Foods

Chapter 80

Sweet Food and Wine

Chapter 81

Salty Foods

Chapter 82


Chapter 83

Spicy Food Pairing

Chapter 84

Soup Pairing

Chapter 85


Chapter 86

What Do You Do with the Leftovers?

Chapter 87

Holiday Wines

Chapter 88

Holiday Wines - 2

Chapter 89

Holiday Wines - 3

Chapter 90

Global Warming and Wine

Chapter 91

Weather: Good or Bad?

Chapter 92

Blood Alcohol

Chapter 93

Blood Alcohol-2

Chapter 94

Moderate Consumption of Wine

Chapter 95

The Physician’s Conundrum

Chapter 96

Recent Health News

Chapter 97

Weight Gain with Wine-a myth?



About The Author

Dedicated to my loving, intelligent, and courageous wife

without whose support and encouragement

this book could not have been written.


I am a retired Obstetrician/Gynecologist who first became interested in wine in the early 1970s. I collected wine, read extensively about wine, attended and then taught a class on wine appreciation for 14 years at Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis (IUPUI), judged wine for 30 years and have been certified as a Professional wine judge, and belong to several wine and food societies, mostly French. I have traveled extensively in Europe, California, and down under talking with winemaker and owners to augment my knowledge. I attended and completed all the core courses in winemaking at The Napa Valley School of Cellaring in Napa, California preparatory to starting my own winery, Chateau Thomas Winery, in 1984. I was the winemaker until 2011 but, now the Director of Winemaking Operations and CEO.

I would like to explore the subject of wine from a scientific, medical, and common sense approach so that the reader becomes aware of the history, culture, science, art, technology of winemaking, and how to select and enjoy wines. I also want the reader to understand some of the medical aspects of wine and to recognize the basic reasons why he likes, or will like, a certain wine.

There are many ways to appreciate wine, whether it is in a wine club with regular meetings and tastings, attending classes on wine appreciation at a winery, a retail location, a university, regular attendance at wine tastings, or just with a few friends where you purchase a bottle or two and compare them. While wineries are a great source of help and information, so too, is your local wine shop where very knowledgeable associates can help you find the wine you need for your party or function.

Additionally, I want to assure you that this book will not be condescending or arrogant. Sometimes, I try to be funny. I suspect that the public wants to move away from the concept that you must like this particular wine because it’s rated a 91. There is no perfect wine. What I like may well be something you dislike. My plan is to offer you background, ideas, resources and schemes so that you can enjoy the world of wine your own way. No matter what you like, I will attempt to augment your experiences and expand your horizons. I will attempt to give you information that will allow you to better frame and enjoy your wine education.

As you peruse the pages of newspapers, books, and magazines on the subject of wine, most articles are written in the same general theme, that is, the author will pick a subject, usually a wine varietal (grape name) or a vintage year or a wine type, etc., then discuss it, usually too briefly, and finally lists four or more wines the author recommends the reader seek out and taste. All too often meaningless number scores are assigned to those wines as though they were chapters from the Bible. Although this can be a useful approach, I sense that many of you are not completely comfortable with the language and conclusions expressed by the tasters who do these ratings. I also feel that advertising, winery size, and notoriety of the winery has a lot to do with these ratings.

Instead, I would like to explore the subject of wine from a more scientific, medical, and generic approach so that the reader becomes aware of the basic reasons why they like, or will like, a certain wine, be they from the way the grapes were grown, the way they were fermented, the winemaking techniques, and the aging and blending strategies involved. I plan to not be too technical, yet enough to help those who, perhaps, feel intimidated by some of the terms and language wine writers employ; and to reinforce the knowledge of those more conversant with the world of wine.

Mrs. Jill F. Thomas and Dr. Charles R. Thomas at the bar of the Plainfield, Indiana tasting room in 2008.

As we progress through these chapters, I will be using words with which you may not be familiar. For that reason, I will italicize those whenever possible so you will learn our wine slang. There is a Glossary where you will find most of the uniquely wine terms with definitions for your education.

Another important aspect of wine is that wine is a food. It should not be regarded in the same manner that you regard other alcoholic beverages. Wine is a food and should be consumed with food. This is why wine drinkers are seldom involved in drunk driving accidents or public drunkenness. One of my interests includes the matching of wine with food. Although there is quite a science involved in wine/food matching, even the novice can pair wines with food and it is fun, creative, enjoyable and educational. Since my wife, Jill, is such a creative cook, she regularly challenges me to find the right wine to serve with her nightly offering. Throughout this book, I plan to regularly include comments and tips on wine and food pairings and the reasoning involved.

In 1973, I enrolled in a class at Indiana University - Purdue University at Indianapolis (I.U.P.U.I.) called, Wine and its Uses, taught by Percy Simmons, the Honorary Consul of France for Indianapolis, who immigrated from England after WWII and had a profoundly positive influence on the wine community of his new home. Among the many experts he recruited to deliver the various lectures for the biannual class were notables like Sandy McNally (Chateau and Estates, a national distributor), Irving Smith Kogan (The Champagne Bureau of France, and Marcia Mondavi (Robert Mondavi Winery, Napa, CA). Friendships from this exposure were instrumental in forming my educational resolve that eventually led to my establishment of a commercial winery. Marci (Marcia) Mondavi was especially helpful with my introduction to California wines and grapes, helping me obtain my first Cabernet Sauvignon grapes in 1978. Another major influence was Bruce Rector, a graduate of The University of California at Davis, who was an experienced wine consultant whose school, The Napa Valley School of Cellaring, I attended in 1983 prior to opening my winery. Bruce had an incredible palate and was a master blender. He later became a partner in the Glen Ellen Winery until its sale in 1993. What I learned from Bruce was the cornerstone of my wine education. Bruce has been described by Dan Berger, a premier wine writer, as a winemaker’s winemaker. For his story, see: and .

Dr. Charles R. and Mrs. Jill F. Thomas on the stairs.

Other influences on my wine education were Richard P. Vine, Ph.D., a winemaker for several years in New York state, then a professor of enology at Mississippi State University after earning his Ph.D. there. In 1991, he established a similar program at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. We became friends thereafter and his counsel was valuable. In the last decade, he was replaced after his retirement by Christian Butzke, a German immigrant, who was educated in Berlin, but his wine education was completed at U. C. Davis where he was on the faculty. After that he took a brief stint as winemaker at Sakonnet Winery in Rhode Island, and he then replaced Dick Vine at Purdue. He is widely published in the scientific enological literature and has provided me with invaluable technical support, especially as it relates to biochemistry, enology, and food science. He has also been very helpful in my continuous quarrels with the bureaucrats at the Tax and Trade Bureau in Washington, D.C. that regulates our wine industry. Christian has been supportive of my wines called Slender, wines that are sweet, but contain no sugar (see Chapter 49). I invented this wine to satisfy the needs of diabetics, dieters, and those who don’t want or can’t have sugar.

Another friend and fellow Ob/Gyn, and fellow member of The International Wine and Food Society, also retired, and a devoted expert on wine and food is John R. Fischer, M.D., who has written an excellent book entitled Wine and Food: 101, (Authorhouse). I have valued John’s wisdom and experience and have resourced his book several times.

I have valued several of my editors in the nine years I have been writing this book, but none has been as valuable as my wife, Jill, who, in addition to having a working knowledge of wine, also is a great editor, a nurse, a fantastic cook and baker, a gold dancer with Arthur Murray, a wordsmith, and the love of my life. We have had eight children, one of whom, Steven L., worked as Assistant Winemaker during the first 11 years of the winery and now owns his own winery, Thomas Family Winery, 208 E. 2nd Ave., Madison IN 47250. Daughter, Linda Thomas Hastings, an amateur photographer, did all the beautiful photography for this book.

Among my professional editors, I count my faithful Katie Mosley, who spent a great deal of time editing this tome. I shall be forever grateful. Her predecessor Elaine Whitesides, and my political correctness editor Rick Myers, all from Times-Leader Publications, Indianapolis have likewise been of great help and comfort.


In writing this book, I wish to deliver to you the very latest in valid medical information, available through my survey of the current medical literature, published books, and seminars with live expert speakers. I have been an eager student of the Medical Effects/Benefits of Wine and Alcohol for more than two decades. I am a member of The Desert Heart Foundation that focuses on the Medical Benefits of Wine and Alcohol. Some of the members of this group include R. Curt Ellison, M.D., Chief of the Evans Section of Preventive Medicine and Epidemiology and Professor of Medicine at Boston University Hospital; the late Serge Renaud, M.D., both of 60 Minutes French Paradox fame; and Arthur Klatsky, M.D., researcher Cardiologist with the Kaiser Permanente Group.

Efforts to report copyrighted studies and medical articles has been a virtual nightmare due to unresponsiveness of book and periodical publishers; some of whom have even engaged private services to supply that information, which further encumbers the process and the cost thereof.

I will supply, whenever possible, the name(s) of the author(s) of the study involved and the year published. Those with an interest in obtaining more exhaustive information on the study in question may then be able to pursue it through libraries or research agents on their own. I have attempted to supply the reader with the latest and most valid information available to me through the most reputable medical sources available. New studies, information, and research are being developed almost daily, so there is no way to validate my knowledge beyond the writing of this book in February, 2013. Fortunately, much of the information I am disseminating regards facts about how the body functions and the effects that wine and alcohol have on it. Very little of that information will change or be invalidated, but, we will continue to discover more information about how these things work and why. At the end of the book, there will be a section entitled, Acknowledgements wherefrom the primary sources of my research have come.

The following book was created from a series of essays on the broad, fascinating subject of wine that I have written monthly over a nine-year period for publication in some local newspapers. It is my hope that you read this book with the understanding that it is not intended to be a complete encyclopedia on the subject, but instead, entertaining essays on various subjects from the world of wine and to provide some education to expand your knowledge and pique your interest in the perfect beverage.


I am amazed at the complexity of our individual genetic makeup and how it is reflected in our unique capabilities, preferences and personalities. Most of us don’t think or realize how much of our intricate makeup is predetermined by our ancestral experiences. Our genes determine what color hair we have, how tall we will be, our personality, what kind of foods, drinks, and all sorts of other experiences we prefer.

At our tasting room, one of our first questions of a new visitor is What would you like to taste? Quite often we are met with the answer, I don’t know what kind of wine I like. If one hasn’t had a prior tasting experience or is unfamiliar with our wines, it is a very legitimate answer. We are genetically endowed with taste buds on our tongue that react to chemicals in our mouth. Not surprisingly, some people have more taste buds than others. Those people are privileged to be able to perceive flavors and tastes that others cannot. Conversely, they also experience displeasure with some taste elements that may be present in excess. Such is the case of two very important components of wine, namely tannins (the bitterness experienced on the back of the tongue seen with sturdy red wines) and acids (the sour sensation on the sides of the tongue and in the cheek pouch, seen with white wines). Because of their gift of more sensitive tasting abilities, these two elements may become harsh or downright nasty. The third major taste component of wine is sugar or sweetness. It has the ability to cover up the unpleasantness of those other two elements. Other factors impacting sensory profile are amount of saliva, protein content of saliva, temperature of the wine, and the physical health of the taster.

An article by Liz Thach, Ph.D. and Tim Hanni, M.W., in Vineyard and Winery Management, (Jan-Feb, 2008) addresses this very common problem. These authors have devised a simple test whereby the prospective taster can administer his own test to determine what kind of taster he is so that he can choose the kind of wines he will like before he even tries them!

As I was preparing the final manuscript of this book, I wanted to speak with Tim Hanni, M.W. about his continuing work. Tim, incidentally, is only the 2nd American to achieve the certification of Master of Wine in the United States, an extremely difficult and rigorous test. He informs me that he has modified his testing some and his new self-test is detailed in his new book, "Why You Like the Wines you Like." Tim has graciously offered to write this short section for my book, outlining the most up-to-date information on this subject. It is also available at:

What is a Vinotype?

A Vinotype is defined by a combination of physiological factors that determine your general level of sensory sensitivity and psychological factors that affect your preferences over time – learning, life experiences combined with cultural, social and peer elements of fashion and propriety.

A grossly oversimplified Vinotype sensitivity self-assessment Test -

I hate oversimplifications and generalizations and find many people feel the same way about these schlock self-assessment exercises, but keep in mind that this is just the first step: Cognitive psychology plays an essential role in determining your true wine passions and preferences. This assessment focuses primarily on your sensory sensitivity quotient.

Give it a go if you care or go to to take the online version. And don’t forget, this is only the sensory sensitivity part of your Vinotype.

ADDITIONAL IMPORTANT AND REDUNDANT NOTE: Your answers will reflect both your intuitive responses combined with adaptations you may have made over time, such as how much salt you use, your attitudes about artificial sweeteners, etc. Try to answer the questions based on what you intuitively like or dislike, not what you think about in terms of philosophical, spiritual or from a health implications of the ingredients or questions.

Scoring :

1. Gender

0 Male

3 Female

2. Salted snacks such as nuts, pretzels, potato chips

0 I find most snacks too salty.

1 Yeah, I like salty snacks.

3 Yum! I am addicted to salty snacks.

3. Salt preferences (try to answer by your taste preference, not from a health standpoint)

0 I find many foods too salty.

1 Food usually tastes fine as is and/or I add a modest amount of salt when I cook.

1 I avoid salt for health reasons (but if you really want to add more, select how much!).

2 I usually add a little extra salt to my food, or would like to but don’t for health reasons.

3 People give me a hard time for adding too much salt.

4. Coffee or Tea

Describe the perfect cup of coffee or tea:

0 I like it very strong (espresso or black tea: English Breakfast tea).

1 I like it strong (Starbucks, Peet’s or Earl Grey tea).

2 I like it medium (the weak coffee served at work, green or herbal tea).

3 Coffee tastes so horrible I can’t stand it.

5. Sugar in your coffee

0 I drink coffee/tea with no sugar.

1 A touch.

2 One teaspoon or the equivalent.

3 Two or more teaspoons.

6. How do artificial sweeteners in diet sodas taste? (Try to answer by your taste preference, not from a health standpoint.)

0 No taste problem (whether or not you choose to use them).

1 Don’t know — I’ve never tried a diet soda in my life.

1 Tastes funny, but not too bad.

2 I can tell a big difference but have adapted OR some are much better than others.

3 Yuck! They taste horrible.

7. Cream/Milk

0 I drink coffee black.

1 Touch of cream or milk.

2 Moderate cream or milk.

3 Lots of cream or milk.

8. Do you enjoy coffee with steamed milk or flavoring such as almond, vanilla, Irish Cream?

0 No!

1 Cappuccino, latte, or café au lait - but not flavorings

2 Sometimes.

3 Yes.

9. Bonus question: do you an occasional drink of straight Scotch, Cognac or Armagnac?

-3 Yes!

0 Sometimes.

1 No way.

Now add up your score to get your Sensitivity Quotient score. This score will determine into which of the four taste sensitivity groups you fall. The groups, from most sensitive to least sensitive, are: Sweet, Hypersensitive, Sensitive or Tolerant. In the general population about 30 percent of people fall into the Sweet category, 25 percent into Hypersensitive, 25 percent Sensitive and 20 percent into the Tolerant group. Keep in mind that the more experienced and confident you are around wine, the more you will have already developed strong wine preferences through those personal experiences of life and learning.

Testing results -

Taste SQ score 15 to 25: Sweet – should only drink sweet wines.

Taste SQ score 15 to 25: Hypersensitive - (the main difference between you and a Sweet Vintoype is, if you prefer mostly DRY wines) - You should drink mostly sweet wines with occasional off-dry wines.

Taste SQ score 5 to 15: Sensitive – Can drink most sweets, whites, and light reds.

Taste SQ score -3 to 7: Tolerant – Can drink anything.

You can go to and read on to find out what this means for you. And don’t forget to take the answers with a grain of salt.

Once again I would like to thank Tim Hanni, MW for writing this section to help the reader evaluate his own wine preferences. His book is available through Amazon. (C. Thomas)

Vetting the Author

Charles R. Thomas, M.D. was born in Indianapolis, IN, graduated from Indiana University and also The Indiana University School of Medicine. He then specialized in Obstetrics & Gynecology, and was engaged in private practice for 32 years, retiring in 1995. During the last 12 years of his Medical career, he also owned and was winemaker at Chateau Thomas Winery owned by he and his wife, Jill.

Prior to starting the winery in 1984, Dr. Thomas attended classes in California at the Napa Valley School of Cellaring. He was also certified as a Professional Wine Judge. He has been actively involved in teaching wine education classes since 1973 and has taught numerous seminars on the subject of "The Health Benefits of Moderate Wine Consumption" including three such 5-day courses in Napa Valley for the American College of Obstetrics & Gynecology earning attendees full Continuing Medical Education (CME) credits.

He is a member of La Confrerie des Chevaliers du Tastevin (Grand Senechal); La Confrerie des Compagnons Gouste Vin de Normandie (Connetable); La Confrerie Saint- Etienne D’Alsace; The International Wine & Food Society; Les Amis du Vin; Professional du Vin of both the Confrerie de la Chaine des Rotisseurs; L ‘Ordre Mondial des Gourmets Degustaters; and Chevalier du Vin in the Renault Society. Dr. Thomas has been awarded the Key to the City of Indianapolis on two occasions, Sagamore of the Wabash (Indiana’s highest award), and Lt. Colonel in the Alabama Militia (Alabama’s highest award), the Distinguished Service Award both from Purdue University and La Confrerie des Chevaliers du Tastevin.

Dr. Thomas has traveled to France, Portugal, Spain, and later to Italy, New Zealand and Australia to evaluate, recognize, appreciate, and memorize as many wines as he could. Through the connections gleaned from the visiting lecturers in the IUPUI class, he has met many enchanting, compelling, gracious, and intelligent people— some with unbelievable talent in their ability to taste and identify wines. Their experiences were integrated into and molded around the collective wine sphere in which he lives.

Dr. Charles R. Thomas inspecting a wine for color

Dr. Thomas has appeared in several books and has written a cookbook, "The Chateau Thomas Table - Pairing to Perfection," published in 2008. He and his wife live in Greenwood, IN. They have eight children. They enjoy reading, cooking, traveling, crafting of all sorts, and music.

Part 1

Start with the Basics

Chapter 1


Aromas are present in the unfermented juice of the grape and are generally the first odors to appear in the new wine. As the wine ages, the spectrum of aromas increases. Some bouquets are present at bottling and others develop in time. Then, at some point, formation of new aromas ceases and the development of bouquet increases. You can expect those aromas to last five to seven years before declining

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