Archive for July, 2010

Wine Aerators

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

Until about 2 weeks ago I did not have strong feelings about wine aerators, or even decanting wine for that matter.  Sure, young wines seemed to me to benefit a bit from “breathing” (exposure to oxygen).  But were these “gadgets” or decanters really worth the trouble?  I felt it wasn’t, and was content to vigorously swirl the wine in the glass, figuring this exposure to oxygen would be enough.

But I’ve recently been a little disappointed.  I was supposed to be selling a wine, and the way most wines are sold is by providing tastes to the wine shop buyer.  Upon opening the wine for the buyer I would taste as well – a practice to ensure that the wine is sound and “showing” properly.  It wasn’t fun forcing a smile when the truth was that I felt the wine in question was tight, one dimensional and rather simple tasting.  This wine had to have more going on I thought, but while tasting the wine we weren’t experiencing the possible depth.

I brought an open bottle of the aforementioned wine home and without much thought opened the wine up a few days later.  I had transfered the wine to a half bottle, removing most of the oxygen, but it wasn’t completely free of oxygen & had enough exposure to effect the wine.  And effect the wine it did!  This closed, tight, one dimensional wine was gone…in its place a bright, fruit driven and delicious wine.

A few weeks later I was visiting friends (and doing business) up at the Wine Enthusiast headquarters.  While there I decided to invest in a “Vinturi” wine aerator.

I used my new aerator with friends a few days later and I fell in love.  What can I say…I’ve used it a bunch of times since and I truly believe that this device does what it claims.  It helps the aromas to come through, the otherwise hidden fruit flavors are clearly apparent and both the tannins and acid seem softer, providing for a smoother mouthfeel and finish.

I have no business affiliation with Vinturi.  I gain nothing by promoting this item.  But I gotta tell you, if you have ever experienced a wine that was young and seemed tight, boring, one dimensional or otherwise not what you expected, maybe all you need is a Vinturi to experience the wine’s true potential.

Happy Vinturi Wine Tasting!


Ying Yang Wine

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

As the US rep for Israel’s Carmel Winery I have many responsibilities…beyond increasing sales.  I am proud to be working for Carmel as Carmel the winery has followed nicely in the wine progression.  Recent years have seen the winemaking at Carmel move beyond the fruit-bomb, powerhouse wines to finesse, more elegant wines.

If you are a wine lover who enjoys big robust wines you are no alone.  The truth is, depending upon my mood, I too love these wines.  But at this stage in my wine progression I have come to appreciate the subtle elegance of wines that have not been aged in lots of new oak, that do not have 15% alcohol, whose acid is still quite apparent and that might actually be overpowered by a big rare steak (my favorite food) – something that would NEVER happen to a Cabernet Sauvignon.

I bring this up (again) as we will be unveiling a new Carmel wine here in the US in the coming weeks; Carmel 2007 Mediterranean.  The wine, as its name might indicate is a blend of (mostly) Mediterranean varietals made in a subdued style with very little new oak.  This wine is not a fruit bomb and is not robust.  While it does have a nice extraction, I worry that consumers will try it and be disappointed.  It is easy to put a big, brawny wine in one’s mouth and say WOW – this is good.  But it is much more difficult to fully appreciate a wine that doesn’t scream at the top of its lungs.  The restrained wine may possess an endless amount of brilliance, but in a world of muscle-neck wines the quiet wine could easily get lost.

There are many wine critics out there and the ones that have been most successful seem to advocate on behalf of big, robust wines.  I wonder if they truly believe that these are “better” wines, or if they have come to realize that these wines are easier for the masses to appreciate and as such would prefer to recommend this style to a style that might leave people wanting more.

Who knows.

What I do know is that the Carmel “Mediterranean” is a well made wine that will require a lot of hand selling.  But I look forward to talking wine with those who are truly “wine curious” and I hope I am able to enlighten some of these people to the benefits of a restrained and elegant wine.

Happy non-fruit-bomb wine tasting!


Sommel… YAY or NAY?

Sunday, July 11th, 2010

NY Times wine writer Eric Asimov wrote last week about Sommeliers at restaurants who take the first sip of wine to ensure that it is sound before arriving at the diner’s table.

Alder Yarrow in his wine blog Vinography, wrote “let sommeliers do their jobs“.

To get the full background you should read the Asimov piece & if interested the Vinography piece.  But in a nutshell, the issue revolves around Sommeliers tasting wine that diners order prior to the diners tasting the wine.  The taste is small and the motives of the sommelier are good –  both Asimov & Yarrow seem to be advocating for this practice.

WHAT! I’m flabbergasted!!  True I have the experience to detect many flaws that those who don’t make wine their life might not have.  And yes, I believe that providing this service to diners IS valuable.  BUT, my belief is that the sommelier should ONLY taste the wine once invited to do so by the diners…AFTER the bottle has been presented to and opened in front of the diner(s).

I DO think that many diners might be wise to ask someone with a more experienced palate to try a wine they are not familiar with.  But what of the bottle presentation?  What of the opening of the bottle in front of the customer?  What of the smelling of the cork (I save corks but don’t fancy smelling them)?

I hear the points my colleagues are making, but think they are missing the point.  Wine service in a restaurant is a time honored tradition.  Part of this is the presentation of the wine to the diner in a restaurant.  If this bottle is being presented to a sommelier to taste in a kitchen only to be brought out to diners already opened, this tradition is being broken, and much like the screw cap, the romance of wine as we know it is fading away…

Maybe I’m missing something here as I admittedly don’t typically dine in five star restaurants with sommeliers and the like.  But if I’m not missing anything, there is something very wrong here.

Happy Sommelier-less restaurant wine tasting!