Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Size Matters

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

Back from the holyland, hence the UN-holy title.  Fear not, Wine Tasting Guy’s mind is not in the gutter.  I’m speaking of wine glasses.

wine glass sizs

While tasting wine at several wineries (and in some people’s homes) in Israel I noticed people serving wines in small glasses.  Size is relative, but I’m a believer (though not all would agree) that bigger is better.  More room to swirl, more room for the aromas to linger and easier to tilt the wine so that you can observe and appreciate the color.

In addition to size, good wine should be drunk out of out quality glasses.  There are tons of quality glasses out there nowadays.  No, they don’t have to be hand blown glass.  No, they don’t have to cost $50/glass.  But they should be thin glass bowls (I prefer tulip shaped) and they should not have a rounded lip.  The lip of the glass should be straight so that the wine runs directly down into your mouth.

Although the power of suggestion is one I fervently try to avoid I have heard MANY people say that wine simply tastes BETTER out of better glasses.  And you know what… I agree.

SO, you can imagine my disappointment when I tasted wines at some of the Israel wineries out of cheapo glasses.  If an artist was to display their art don’t you think they would use the best frames, light & background possible?  Then why wouldn’t the wineries want their wines shown in the best glasses.

I know, good glasses can be expensive.   And the good glasses break VERY EASILY.  And there were many wineries that DID serve their wines in good glasses.  But given how strongly I feel about Israeli wines I would like to see ALL wineries pouring their wines out of the best (and most cost effective) glasses.

Happy quality wine glass wine tasting!


A night of firsts & lasts at Yankee Stadium

Monday, September 15th, 2008

This post is just barely wine related, but I’ll squeeze in some quick wine references.  You see, tonight was a night of many firsts and at least one last.

My night began at an event at the Israeli Consul General residence.  The Consul general hosted an event for a new organization called Toda (Hebrew for “Thanks”).  The goals of Toda as I understand them are to encourage Israeli geared charitable organizations to collaborate with one another.  My role at this event was to talk about the Israeli wines at the event for those who were curious and in general to play Wine Tasting Guy.  It was a very nice event, I met the Consul General for the first time, and I even left with a small bottle of wine I was determined to sneak into Yankee Stadium.

I left the Consul General’s residence on the Upper EAST Side and took the 4 train up to the Stadium.  My first time in Yankee Stadium was about 25 years ago and for the last 12 years I have been going to about 20 games a year with my good buddy Mike.  Tonight was the FIRST time I ever took the 4 train from the Upper East Side to Yankee Stadium.

Coming from the event I was dressed in a suit.  I was already late and there was no time to change.  So I went to the game in my suit.  First time I EVER wore a suit to Yankee Stadium.


I arrived at the Stadium a little late following the Toda event but I was SUCCESFUL in sneaking in my bottle of wine.  I wonder the last time someone drank a bottle of wine in Yankee Stadium…let along an Israeli wine.  Tonight was my first time getting (or trying for that matter) a bottle of wine into Yankee Stadium.

The game went well.  The Yankees won.  Xavier Nady hit a home run (he did the last time I blogged about a Yankee game as well).  Joba pitched the 8th & Mariano pitched the 9th.  There are now officially only 6 games left to be played at Yankee Stadium.  And for the Wine Tasting Guy…all indications are that it was my last time in the house that Ruth built.  I was very sentimental when I left.  I actually did NOT want to leave.  I stuck around for about a half an hour after the game.  After all these years of going to games I usually have a routine whereby I watch the last pitch and dash out the gate.  And I’m home within half an hour.  Tonight I was amongst the last to leave and I did not get home until about an hour and a half after the game ended.

Tonight was my LAST time in the ORIGINAL Yankee Stadium.

Happy sentimental wine tasting!


Home wine making

Sunday, September 7th, 2008

I love what I do.  Name it, if it is wine related I am working on it.  Amongst those things that I am doing are making small batches of wine with a pair of friends in one of their garages.  Whenever people hear that I am making my own wine they comment how “cool” it is.  Yes, it is cool, but it is not nearly as romantic as people expect it to be.  It is A LOT of hard work!

crusher destemmer

We started our Sunday out early, heading to a wine making shop that sells everything anyone needs to make wine.  We bought most of our equipment last year so this morning we pretty much only needed to pick up the fruit – nice ripe Cali grapes.   We tasted all the varietals they had and ultimately decided on Cabernet Sauvignon (real original, I know) and Sangiovese (the Italian varietal that makes wines such as Chianti or Brunello).  I was a little concerned that the cab might be a little underripe, and sure enough that seems to have been the case.  If I were a real pro I would have brought a refractometer (a cool little telescope looking device used to measure sugar levels) to test the sugar levels in the grapes.  But sadly I did not.  Fear not, the Sangiovese was GREAT – or so I hope.  I guess we’ll either make a super Tuscan like blend (Sangiovese together with the Cab) or come up with some other alternative.  Could be worse…

SO we got back with our newly purchased fruit and started crushing & destemming with a machine that looks like the one above.  Basically, it gently crushes the grapes and removes it from the stems, leaving what is known as “must”.  We measure out some sulfites to add to our “must” and leave it in open containers before adding the yeast.  And then we wait…

So basically, today consisted of lifting heavy crates of grapes. Getting sprayed with grape guts.  All while surrounded by bugs on a grape-sugar-high.  Oh, and a whole lot of cleaning.

The exciting part was actually bottling last years batch.  Last year we made a Zinfandel batch & a merlot batch.  Partly for simplicity sake and partly because it worked, we blended the two batches for a Zin/merlot blend.  And you know what…it is not half bad!  We bottled a whole bunch of it and even put on our fancy labels.  Now I’ve got about 5-6 cases worth of wine I’ll be drinking and giving away for a while.  Now THAT is fun…

Happy home made wine tasting!


Happy Labor Day

Friday, August 29th, 2008

WOW.  The past few weeks have been very hectic.  Selling wine, running around the greater NY area.  Working on my Israel wine project.  Exhausting.  I wish someone would “invent” a holiday to acknowledge all my hard LABOR.


I’m off for the weekend.  Happy Labor day weekend to all and I’ll be back either Monday night or Tuesday…



Monday, August 11th, 2008

I went out to a wine bar tonight.  The food portion of the menu consisted of a “cheese plate”.  That is it.  The selection of wines was not impressive.  For a place with a French name, I expected an extensive collection of French wines.  Nope.  Heavily Mediterranean though.  Lots of extracted Argentinian, Chilean & Spanish wines.  They even had two PORTS on the menu.  But no Australian.  Minimal French.  So Wine Tasting Guy…what was so “great” about this place?

Le Rendezvous

THE SERVICE!  The place was definitely intimate.  A nice decor.  Some comfortable seating.  Good stemware.  They served their wines in separate apparatus (not sure whether to call it a decanter or carafe).  A cool bar.  But what really sold me was the VERY WARM, SWEET bartender.  She was incredibly accommodating.   I know I can be a pain in the ass at wine bars and the bartender was so patient with me as I tasted wine after wine until I FINALLY found one I liked.  (I must have tasted 5-6 wines before finding one I liked.)  And she was super gracious about it too.

And then I met the owner.  WOW.  What a guy.  A former professor, this guy was REALLY WARM.  Apparently he loved teaching and I bet his students loved him.  Such a genuinely warm and nice guy.  We talked about getting together to talk about his place.  On this night the place was quiet and while I understand that it is profitable, I’d be thrilled to be able to help him transform it into a thriving business.

But the point of this post is that while there were clearly many things that needed to be worked on, this place got one very important thing right.  The service.  It was really great.  Sure it would be nice if he had more food options.  But how many people are going there for dinner.  And yes, it would have been nice if I had more luck with the wines.  But I did find something I liked in the end.  GOOD SERVICE.  They were just real people who REALLY  seemed to want to see the customers have a quality experience.

I wish them all the luck in the world!

Happy PLEASANT wine tasting!


Robot Wine Tasters

Monday, August 4th, 2008

The future is here.  Robot wine tasters have arrived…

robot drinking

Fear not wine critics, they are not after your jobs.  Rather, as reported in “Machines Like US – Science News“, these robots, developed in Barcelona , Spain have been  designed for quality control.  It is actually a handheld “electric tongue” that through the use of six sensors can help to determine the grape variety and vintage.

Pretty cool stuff, huh?!

Happy ROBOTIC wine tasting!


The 6 wine consumer segments

Wednesday, March 12th, 2008

A very interesting piece I found via Wine and Spirits Daily, written by Megan Haverkorn. 

The stat I found most interesting is that almost 1/4 of wine consumers feel overwhelmed by all the wine options out there.  While I agree that there are A LOT of options, shouldn’t the wine professionals be doing a better job of making wine & wine purchasing more approachable, fun and easy????

I don’t have much to add to the interesting report, so without further ado…



Despite growing wine consumption in the U.S., consumers are reportedly still overwhelmed by wine and/or unwilling to branch out, according to Constellation’s “Home & Habits” study, the second phase of the company’s “Project Genome” study.  With the use of Nielsen scan data and online interviews, “Home & Habits” found new insights into the six consumer segments: Enthusiasts, Image Seekers, Savvy Shoppers, Traditionalists, Satisfied Sippers and Overwhelmed.  Constellation encourages the wine industry to pay more attention to the “overwhelmed” and “traditionalist” categories especially to ultimately increase their consumption and prompt them to try new brands and varietals. 


OVERWHELMED.  23% of consumers fall in this category.  Basically, they enjoy drinking wine but are overwhelmed by the huge selection on store shelves.  They’d like to receive more help and information when shopping in the wine section at retail stores.


IMAGE SEEKERS.  Consumers that view wine as a status symbol make up about 20% of all wine purchasers.  They are generally still in the learning stages, and prefer merlot above all other varietals.  The internet is their main source of learning about wine.  As you can imagine, men and millennials make up the bulk of this category.


TRADITIONALISTS.  About 16% of consumers enjoy wines from established wineries, are not as open to trying new brands, and believe wine is most appropriately used during a formal occasion. 


SAVVY SHOPPERS.  15% of consumers are “savvy shoppers,” which means they enjoy discovering new wines and varietals on their own.  They’re keen on specials, coupons and discounts.  They are also more likely to buy a glass of the house wine when dining out to save a few bucks.


SATISFIED SIPPERS.  These consumers (14%) do not know a lot about wine and are just fine drinking what they are familiar with.  They tend to buy the same domestic brand and drink wine almost everyday.  This consumer segment is also more likely to buy a large 1.5L bottle to save themselves a trip to the store.  Wine pairings?  Forget about it.


ENTHUSIASTS.  12% of consumers consider themselves knowledgeable about wine and enjoy entertaining at home.  They tend to be in the middle to upper class and like browsing wine aisles and reading wine publications.

Wine Deal – Chateauneuf du Pape

Tuesday, March 4th, 2008

 Quick wine deal…

I’ve never had this wine before but the 2004 Chateau La Nerthe Chateauneuf du Pape apparently given a 91 by Wine Spectator & priced here at $30 seems to be a good deal for CDP lovers.  It is sold elsewhere online for between $36.50-$45.  So at $30, while I can not recommend it on the basis of having tried it, I can tell you that it is priced right…

Happy wine bargain hunting!


Rioja Tasting with the wine group

Friday, February 29th, 2008

The wine group I have previously mentioned that I get together with 2-3 times a month (on a good month) to taste wines with met last night. We tasted Rioja’s, and were treated to some older vintage wines last night. Our esteemed host was able to pick up 3 Rioja’s from the famed “Lopez de Heredia” winery and 4 others.

Of the 3 Heredia’s we had a ’99, an ’81 and a ’73 – what a fabulous year! We were all truly amazed that these older wines were still alive – which they were. How alive however became somewhat of a debate. More on that later. Before tasting the wines we were forewarned by one of the members that aged Rioja’s are soft & elegant and not the rich, big, concentrated wines we might expect from Spain. He was absolutely right as the ’99 Heredia was so soft & smooth I almost found it to be too much so. I wrote down that it was elegant, but that was partly because I wanted to write something nice (and seem sophisticated) so as not to write that I found it to be a bit boring – which I think would have been more accurate.

The ’81 however was a treat. Very complex. The others thought I was nuts as a few of them had finished their taste of this wine before I even tried mine. But I found so much going on in the nose that I was simply not ready to move on to tasting the wine. It started off with dried/jammy fruit. Moved on to tart berries. And then evolved onto what at first seemed like milk chocolate then became more bittersweet chocolate & finally struck me as rumball like. On the palate this wine was again very soft & elegant (there is that word again). the only disappointment was a finish that I thought could have been longer, but the finish on some of these wines was better the second time around.

The ’73 Heredia was very clear orange almost brown in color, with an almost clear rim – really showing its age. The nose started out with some off smells of rubber or corkiness but blew off somewhat to reveal a tarry earthiness, some subtle berries and even a little jammyness. On the palate this wine was very much alive as it was soft and silky with a slightly acidic and tart berry flavor.

Aside from the 3 Heredia’s we had a Crianza, 2 Reserva’s & 1 Gran Reserva. We did not conduct this tasting blind but I was not really paying much attention to name/label/status etc. That said, it was the Gran Reserva, a 1998 Muga Prado Enea that I enjoyed the most of the 4. This ruby/purple colored wine had A LOT going on in the nose. And it evolved in a short time in my glass. It began with hints of fruit and earth, and then showed some of the Piny-ness I have been detecting a lot lately. From there I sensed some oak, but there was more – and it was driving me a little nuts as I had a hard time figuring out what it was. And then it hit me. COLA – it was part flat cheap Cola, part Cherry cola. Real interesting & complex. On the palate it showed cherries (Bing cherries even), some mocha and was both mouth coating & silky smooth. Again, I was somewhat disappointed by what I thought was only a medium length finish. BUT, on the 2nd tasting of this wine about an hour or so later all the fruity, floral & cola aroma’s were still there while the finish this time was NICE AND LONGGGGG……

Back to an issue I eluded to earlier. The issue of how “alive” these older wines were. I suppose that their life was less of a debate then how to treat these senior citizens. I have always learned that older wines that once possessed a strong backbone – good acidity & strong tannins – are age worthy but as they age they soften, both in structure and mouth feel.  The soft smooth mouth feel is one of the things that makes these ageable wines so desirable. But their age also has left them with little protection from the environment. Yes they can be decanted, but I learned that this was to remove any sediment buildup – not to be done vigorously to aerate (as is done with younger wines) as the aeration will hasten their imminent deterioration.

This deterioration is what I found with the ’73 & VERY SADLY with the ’81 Heredia. Now mind you, this is not a knock on the wines. These wines were both very much alive when we first had them. Just that extended decanting and then enough exposure to oxygen (to me) allowed these wines to lose whatever aroma’s they had left. On the palate they were both still OK, but I was disappointed that they really seemed to die.

It was a debate as our host and some others felt that this was simply how these older wines were, and that it did not suit my taste. Something which is a distinct possibility. Either way, overall the night was a treat as I had a chance to try the oldest wines I have ever tried. And becoming more familiar with aged wines is something I hope to be fortunate enough to continue to do.

Have a wonderful wine-weekend & Happy Spanish Rioja wine tasting!


Wine buying deals – huh??

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

Well loyal readers, I have not forgotten about those of you who have asked for insight into good wine buys. I have received my requisite 5+ daily emails offering tremendous deals on fabulous wines…BLAH BLAH BLAH. I just looked into an email I got from one such online retail wine shop. They preface their present offer with details about how while people are spending $20+ on everyday bottles these days, they still search high and low for us, their loyal customers. And as such they are offering a supposed $18 bottle of Red Rhone wine for only $15 (plus shipping of course). Now $15 for a decent Rhone Red is not terrible, depending upon the quality of the wine. As we all know I would of course recommend tasting the wine before placing any large orders, but since that is impossible in VIRTUAL WORLD we have to take a leap of faith. DON’T LEAP HERE. Said wine turns up on a search in a few other locations, beginning at $13.99.

I write this little story just to let you know of the challenges one faces when trying to find a well priced bottle of wine. But I will persevere…and find you good wine deals I will!!!

Until then, happy drinking…