January 13, 2023 by Arden Montgomery

New Year WINEsolutions: What To Drink + What Not To Drink In 2023

Our team of sommeliers here at Argaux gathered a list of frequently asked questions from our consumers about what to drink and what not to drink this year in an effort to debunk wine myths and provide fact-based information so you can have a happy and healthy 2023, without sacrificing your daily glass of wine.

Our WINEsolution this year? Break down the barrier for you and provide you with fact-based answers to questions like, “why do I get a headache when I drink red wine?” so you can feel good about what wine you choose to drink this year, and say goodbye to the wines that make you feel crummy. Wine is a natural product of the earth and it should not cause allergic reactions, severe headaches, or taste like chemicals. It shouldn’t have to be removed from your daily ritual either!

WINESOLUTION SELECTS: Here are some of our favorite wines that truly taste like the earth they came from… We call that terroir, a sense of place…

Chablis

Sancerre

Chianti

Your Questions Answered

Q: Please tell us about the various Somm levels within the platform you use when you say someone is a level 2 or level 3 Somm. What are the requirements to reach each level and how many levels are there? What is the parent organization of your platform called?

A: There are two (main) certifiable platforms for achieving sommelier certifications: the Court of Master Sommeliers and the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET). Margaux and Alyssa both study through the WSET program and have completed the Level IV Diploma courses. 

WSET:

Communications and applied-theory oriented

CMS: 

Service industry focused

(1) Level 1 Award in Wines: 1-day class, multiple choice exam
(2) Level 2 Award in Wines: Limited class series, multiple choice exam (1) Introductory Sommelier: 2-day course with multiple choice exam
(3) Level 3 Award in Wines: 2 unit course with theory and tasting exam (2) Certified Sommelier: 1-day tasting, service and theory exam. Self-study
(4) Level 4 Diploma in Wines: (Level 3 cert or equivalent required). 6 unit course with deep learning on topics plus research paper. Many theory and blind tasting exams within courses. Given 3 years to complete.  (3) Advanced Sommelier: By invitation exam on theory, tasting and wine service. Industry experience required. 
Master in Wine through IMW: Level 4 Diploma cert required. 3 stage program with entrance exam; courses, theory, research paper, and tasting exams throughout. Must prove mastery. Can take many years to complete.)) (4) Master Sommelier: Incredibly challenging, 3-part exam, must prove mastery. Can take many years to complete.

 

Q: What exactly are sulfites and can you get good wine without?

A: Sulfites, which are a form of sulfur, are a natural by-product of fermentation that is present in all wines to a degree. They act as an antioxidant and antimicrobial to help preserve wine and slow chemical reactions, which cause a wine to go bad.

Sulfites in wine are surprisingly lower than a lot of processed foods – think french fries, potato chips, cured meats, cheese, baked goods, frozen shrimp, dried fruits (like raisins), condiments, other fermented beverages (beer), etc. To put it into perspective, the amount that can be used in the production of wine is a 3rd of what is in a single raisin. 

You can absolutely find a good wine without the use of sulfur/sulfites. However, sulfites are generally NOT the cause of your wine headache. In fact, true aversions to sulfites cause respiratory allergies, like wheezing, hay fever, and hives, not headaches or migraines.  Oftentimes symptoms like a headache are caused by simple dehydration, high-alcohol wines, high-sugar wines, and other additives used in winemaking including coloring and specific cultured yeasts. **To note: If you are certain you have a sensitivity to foods such as those listed above, you should try sulfite-free wines. Fortunately, several ‘natural’ styles of wine do not use sulfites in processing.

Domaine de La Bonne Tonne is a ZERO ZERO producer meaning no sulfites are added.

You can shop all of our natural wines here.

Q: Are there any good wines with a lower alcohol content? Why do certain wines have lower alcohol content?

A: We love a lower alcohol wine, and there are plenty of options for every palate. Alcohol content is related to a few different factors including the style of wine, grape variety, and climate where the grapes are grown. However, usually the more sugar that is present in the grape prior to fermentation will determine the final alcohol content. i.e in a warmer climate, more sugar will build inside the grape, meaning the final wine will reflect a higher alcohol content. On the flip side, in a cooler climate the grapes are less likely to become overly ripe, so they will have less sugar available to ferment and yield a lower alcohol content. Alcohol content (lower or higher) may also be a stylistic choice by the winemaker and their consumers. 

Here are some options…

Sparkling: NV Sorelle Bronca Extra Dry Prosecco 11%

Orange: 2021 Field Recordings ‘SKINS’ Orange Wine 12%

White: 2021 Cantine Carlo Mazzella Ischia Biancolella 12%

Red: 2020 COS Nero di Lupo Terre Siciliane 12.5% (Wine Club Only!)

Non-Alcoholic: NV Weingut Leitz Eins Zwei Zero Sparkling Wine (Non-Alcoholic) 0%

Q: Does white wine actually have more sugar?

A: Not always. It depends on how ‘dry’ the wine is, how far the ferment went to dryness. If the ferment completes with little to no sugar leftover, then it is dry.

Also, white wines generally have less alcohol (less sugar to ferment) and seem to show better with less alcohol than red wine. Red wines have more compounds and elements to their structure that sometimes require a higher ABV to stay balanced. However, it can be a stylistic approach from the winemaker to purposely leave residual sugar in the wine, especially in specific white winemaking styles (i.e. Sweet Rieslings or Moscato).

Q: Best wine of 2023?

A: Margaux: Cantine di Marzo Greco di Tufo…. Landing stateside soon! Wine club get amped. Alyssa: Ernest/Edaphos – picking a producer I’m super excited about this year. Their wines continue to blow my mind. 

To get access to these wines, join Club Argaux.

Q: Why is it that most wines under $20 a bottle give me a headache?

A: Although a labor of love, wine is an expensive product to make. The cheaper the wine the less viable it is from a business perspective to create a wholesome product from quality ingredients. Generally, wines at that $20 price will NOT reflect low yields (lower yields = higher quality fruit). They are more likely to be made from higher yielding fruit (higher yields = more quantity, lower quality) that is less expensive and may lead to the need for overcompensation in the winery. Insert additives, artificial flavors, coloring and preservatives  to make up for the lack of flavor and/or structure in the grapes.

Q: How can I identify those “make you feel crummy” types when reading a label?

A: I usually tell people to try and find an importer that they trust…. i.e. Amliere, Kermit Lynch, ect… look for those names on the back for bottles to know they have been vetted. Same goes for a winemaker you trust, take a second to look them up. Other than that I look for specifics (region, grape, alcohol level, detailed info). The less information provided on the label the more skeptical I get as to what is inside the bottle. Google / research on the producer.

Our team of sommeliers are always around to answer any of your pressing questions! Here’s to health, happiness, and GOOD wine in 2023!

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