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Before purchasing wines and aperitifs, you need to keep a number of things in mind. Be sure to familiarize yourself with all terms related to the dryness or sweetness of wines and champagnes. Dry wines are bitter, a taste acquired by gourmet lovers. Sweeter wines are for those who do not love wines.
Wines, champagnes and aperitifs can also be distinguished into light and heavy. Make sure you know which you like and which you are ordering.
Some Canadian wines, notably those from the Niagara region, are underrated. The low Canadian dollar coupled with low cross-border shipping costs makes these very affordable.
In the U.S., California and New York are still revered places of origin, but many states such as Texas, Florida and Arkansas are catching up. In modern times, excellent winemaking processes are less likely to be the well-guarded secrets they were in the past.
If you can, sample the wines and champagnes before purchasing. Remember also, that the name of a wine does not mean everything. Wines can change from vintage to vintage.
Before ordering online, be sure to read a company's website closely so you are not subscribing to anything you don't want.
It's best to store wines, champagnes and vermouths in a cool, dark place, such as a wine cellar.
The trick to uncorking wine and champagne is to gently twist the bottle and not the cork. Chill the bottle well to minimize the wine's explosiveness. Try to avoid having an audience.
Any of the principal spirits (gin, whisky, rum, vodka) can be used to make a light cocktail aperitif. Have ice on hand, preferably crushed, if you are serving cocktails.
Big bottles have big names. Magnums are 3 liters. Jeroboams, Salmanazars and Methuselahs are all bigger yet.