Hi Andy,

A few wine related thoughts and comments: I have been reclaiming some used wine bottles and have found a good way to remove the old labels is to scrape them off with a sort of cutting action using a sharp “Olfa ” knife. (The type with the snap-off blade). Then the glue residue can be dealt with using regular paint thinner (“turps” substitute). It’s a lot of effort though compared with buying new ones for just $2.00 each. The bottle necks vary in diameter. 0.735 to .74 inches seems to be the most common and popular size, but the next most common is smaller at around 0.69 inches. I discarded all the bottles with screw tops because it is doubtful whether they can take a cork without breaking, and it is hard to match tops and bottles. (However I would not hesitate to purchase and use a batch of identical screw-topped bottles.) Most of my bottles were from friends soon after use, and so a couple of rinses left them clean and stain free and ready for sanitization. One had a stain in the bottom that defied rinses and brushes. A small drop of diluted bleach cleared it in no time. I love my bottle tree for draining bottles, the guismo that screws on the fawcett over the tub that rinses inverted bottles when you press down, and the little santizer pump bowl that you press inverted bottles down on a couple of times to rinse them and recollect the sanitizer. All big time-savers that work well and are a delight to use. Because wine deteriorates in a couple of days if you leave a bottle part full, I think the small plastic drink bottles are extremly useful. One can put left-over wine in them and squeeze to elimate excess air before screwing the cap on. I have found that with the white wine from my one-month Liebfraumilch kit I much prefer it if it is just slightly chilled and then it has more flavour. I found this rule on the web which seems to confirm my findings: “A good rule of thumb is the Rule of 20: place red wines in the refrigerator 20 minutes before serving, and remove whites from the refrigerator 20 minutes before serving.” It really is amazing how much difference the temperature of the wine makes to the taste. They say white wine goes well with chicken and fish based mealsL I was very surprised & pleased with how well my Liebfraumilch went with some spicy Tacos I made! A guy at work said he thought that folks tend to deceive themselves when they make their own wine. I don’t think I do. I reckon I am my own harshest critic. In fact I do not like many of the wines bought from a wine store either. I think ones enjoyment of wine depends on one’s company and mood at the time and can be enhanced tremendously if it accompanies a good meal. There was an interesting article in our local paper saying that research has shown that most folks judge a wine by its label, and many could not distinguish a good dearer wine form a cheaper lesser wine during taste tests. This means that perhaps we should take great care with our labels and the presentation of our wine. I hope my musings find you happy and well. Do you have any stories you would care to share about your wine making sessions perhaps? All the best!

Rod (in Ottawa)