Archive for the ‘Wine STUFF’ Category

Wine Wand – WOW!

Monday, November 5th, 2012

Yet again, it has been a while since my last post…can’t say it has been writers block anymore.  I have so much to say…

My infatuation with tasting wine hasn’t waned and I was recently in touch with a new friend, Jeff over at Vini Wine Bar in Davis, CA.  He is one of the great ones in this business, making wine accesible to all & encouraging people to taste wine whenever possible, in his case by utilizing wine dispensing machines to enable small tastes of wine for people before they go ahead and purchase bottles.  Great work Jeff…keep it up!

Though I’m primarily writing today as relates to wine aeration devices.  I’ve previously spoken highly of one such gadget I really like, the Vinturi.  I think it does a great job of helping young wines open up quickly, eliminating the need to wait for a wine to open up.  But I was recently introduced to a very cool device known as the Wine Wand.  While not inexpensive, this is a device like no other.  Rather than force the wine through a device that introduces extra oxygen to the wine to speed up the aeration process the Wine Wand is a Philip Stein product.  Philip Stein is best known for their watches and devices that work with “Frequency Technology”.   Frequency technology is based on the idea “that natural frequencies (have) the power to improve one’s overall wellbeing”.  The frequency technology in their watches “provide information to the biofield that makes the person more resilient and adaptable to stress”.

Getting back to the wine wand, I tried it last night for the first time and I was impressed.  It seemed to accomplish what it set out to accomplish, specifically help a wine to open up and become more aromatic and soft within 2-3 minutes.

How does it work you ask??…from the Philip Stein website: “The Wine Wand has been created to accelerate the aerating process of wine by replicating the natural frequencies of air and oxygen, and infusing them into the wine.  This process allows your favorite wine to be perfected and ready to drink in only 2 or 3 minutes. ”

Well, I must sadly admit that all this natural frequency stuff is way over my head.  But I can tell you that the wine opened up nicely and showed REAL WELL when I used the wine wand.

So if you are in Davis, CA go visit Jeff at Vinibar and if you are looking for an elegant and unique wine “open-upper” (hey, its not an aerator) for the wine lover who seemingly has everything check out Philip Stein’s new Wine Wand.

Happy Wine Tasting!

WTG

 

“Uncorked” & Oregon Pinot at City Winery

Friday, March 30th, 2012

I’m a big believer in the importance of tasting wine.  It is the best way to learn about your wine “likes & dislikes” and whenever possible you should taste a wine before committing to the bottle.

Given the significance I place on tasting I was psyched to learn about and visit a GREAT new wine shop in the West Village called “Uncorked”, serving 40 wines (small but FREE tastes) from wine dispensing machines.  The space is real intimate with about 250 offerings (all you really need) and the founder/owner runs it himself.  A former finance guy, Paul invested his savings into building this store to pursue what had become a passion – wine.  In my opinion he did and is doing a great job.  Real Enthusiastic, official policy says he’ll give you up to 3 tastings gratis, but having met him I’d bet if you show him that you are serious about buying he’ll give ya more than that.  So if you are looking to pick up a bottle and have a few minutes to try some wine head on down to Christopher street and check him out.

Speaking of tasting wine, friends at City Winery are hosting Oregon’s Willamette Valley Wine Association who are pouring their wines on April 16th.   The “Sideways” effect brought Pinot Noir more notoriety, but what style Pinot do you like? As a Burgundy lover I tend to enjoy the somewhat earthy characteristic in some Oregon’s Pinots rather than California’s brighter & fruitier Pinot Noirs.  Check out the tasting to see which you prefer.  In addition to Pinot Noir, they are sure to be serving some great Pinot Gris as well as other varietals.  $75 isn’t cheap, but it’s a great deal for the opportunity to taste wine from 50 Oregon wineries.

’nuff said…Happy Wine Tasting!

WTG

Guest post: The Differences Between Wine Glasses

Sunday, July 31st, 2011
Given the busy schedule (and wine-writer’s block) I figured I’d post this guest piece passed along by reader Andy.  I’m not sure that I agree 100% percent with all the content, but it is informative and provides some good guidelines.  Enjoy…
WTG
The Differences Between Wine Glasses
Wines are notoriously varied and to suit your pallet effectively not only is it necessary to accompany a meal with correct wine, it is also equally important to ensure you drink the wine out of the correct type of glass.
The glass you choose to drink out of is not usually one of the first considerations but the difference between the glasses are carefully measured and created to suit the aroma or taste of the type of grape you are drinking.
Red wine glasses are created to enhance the aroma and the thick taste of the wine whilst allowing it to breathe and sit comfortably at room temperature. Of course different red wines have different characteristics and the different types of glasses can suit these perfectly.
Should you be a fan of the thick bodied reds in the vain of the Merlot and Cabernet, the glass of choice is the Bordeaux glass as it has the specifications to suit thick bodied red wine perfectly. A Bordeaux glass tends to have a tall and wide bowl that is intended to allow aeration and direct the wine towards the back of the mouth. Whereas the Burgundy glass tends to have a much larger bowl suited to more delicate wines such as Pinot Noir. The Burgundy glass is designed to contain the aromas much more effectively and direct the wine to the tip of the tongue. Both types of glasses are intended to help the wine remain at an even temperature even after being exposed to the body temperature of the hand holding the glass.
White wine glasses are slimmer and the difference between the large glass and the small glass tend to be negligible. Both are designed to reduce the heating effect of the hand, especially when you consider that Rieslings are best served at around 7 degrees Celsius and full bodied or high quality wines tend to be served at around 10 degrees Celsius to keep the temperature right you either have to drink it fast or ensure the quality of the glass.
As any connoisseur will tell you, the smaller the serving, the better the taste, so now we won’t be forced to drink 175ml as the smallest measure, we can start to enjoy a selection of different wines of an evening without feeling them the following morning. Full information of the amendment to the Licensing Act can be found in this “Wine Shots” article.
The differences between the wine glasses may seem negligible, but once you have been to a wine tasting event and understand the chemistry behind the aeration and flow of fluid you will recognise the reasoning behind these subtle differences between wine glasses. All in all these different glasses have been created as a way for us to enjoy our favourite tipple that little bit more.
Andy is a novice wine connoisseur that has done a lot of research on the subject. Follow his Twitter and why not ask about his current favourite wines on the high street @andym23

$110,000 bottle of Champagne!

Sunday, June 19th, 2011

I’m going through another of my writing slumps.  But as an NBA fan, when I read about the bottle of Champagne Mark Cuban bought to celebrate the Mavericks NBA title I found something to share ;-)

From the Wine Enthusiast Blog

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban spent a whopping $110,000 while celebrating at the trendy nightclub Liv at Miami’s Fontainebleau after winning the NBA Championship against the Heat on Sunday night. Cuban spent $90,000 on an oversized bottle of Armand de Brignac Champagne for teammates Dirk Nowitzki, Brian Cardinal, Jason Terry and Shawn Marion in celebration of their victory, which they finished in a mere four hours. But that’s not all. When the bill arrived, Cuban left an additional $20,000 tip for the wait staff. According to Forbes, he’s ranked 459th on the “World’s Richest People” list and has a net worth of $2.5 billion.

We should all be faced with such wine purchasing decisions…

Congrats Mavs!

Happy $5,000 a sip Champagne tasting!

WTG

Toast of the Town & am I becoming a wine snob?

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

Once again I had the good fortune of attending the Wine Enthusiast Toast of the town.  This was my 4th year, but this was the first time I attended as a vendor as opposed to as a journalist (OK, blogger).

In a new location (Avery Fisher Hall instead of Koch Theater) within NYC’s glorious Lincoln Theater, Wine Enthusiast put on its annual Toast of the Town event this past Thursday May 5th.

It was bigger than its ever been before with a ton of wine and lots of great restaurants.  This year there were also spirits and beers being poured.

I attended this year on behalf of Israel’s Barkan Winery.  The Barkan lineup this year was a pretty cool one.

The 2007 Barkan Superieur Pinotage is a very cool & interesting wine.  Rich chocolate, toffee & ripe fruit… A great wine that really makes you go “hmmmm”.

Speaking of going hmmmm, we also poured the 3 wines in the “Altitude” series.  The altitude represents vineyards at different heights above sea level, representing different terroirs.  The wines also come from different regions, so the altitude isn’t the only difference.  But the 3 wines (a 412, 624 & 720) are basically all made the same way – so like an experiment with the winemaking as the control.  It was lots of fun to hear the people, most of whom had different favorites amongst the 3.

I did try to hit up a few other tables while I was there and I managed to taste about 30 wines.

In no particular order, I liked the following:

Perry Moore: A 2008 Napa Cab & 2008 Beckstoffers vineyard Oakville Cab that reminded me a lot of the wines I got to work with when I lived in Napa and worked in the lab.

Don Sebastiani & Sons 2007 Aquinas “Philosepher’s Blend”  had great acidity balancing out its ripe fruit.

A Greek wine, the 2004 Oenoforos Lanos Cabernet Sauvignon had dusty fruit & a good earthiness that reminded me of an aged Israeli wine (which makes some sense as they are both Eastern Mediterranean).

The 2004 Batasiolo Vigneto Cerequio Barolo was a WOW wine with great liveliness, subtle burgundian fruit and cola flavors.

Of the whites the one standout for me was a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc (which when done well I find to be so refreshing…I can drink LOTS of NZ Sauv Blanc) the Matua Valley 2009 which had fresh pink grapefruit.

Sooooo….what do I mean by “Wine Snob”?  Sure I prefer good wine to mediocre wine, but the reality is that most wine these days (and surely almost all being poured at events such as this) is pretty good.  I guess I felt like a bit of a snob at this event more because I’m tough to impress.   I’ve come to expect most wine to be good these days.  But good isn’t good enough anymore, it needs to be interesting.  And in the end, very little of the wine that I had the opportunity to try was truly interesting.

Happy Interesting Wine Tasting

WTG

Expensive wine & upcoming TOTT & Riesling tastings

Sunday, May 1st, 2011

I had a story forwarded by a reader I thought I’d share.  Also want to give a heads up about two of my favorite tastings of the year; first the annual TOTT (Wine Enthusiast’s Toast of the Town) & next week’s Riesling (Wines of Germany) tasting.  I expect to attend both and hope to write about each shortly thereafter…

In the meantime, enjoy!

“Expensive Wine Indistinguishable from the Cheap Stuff”

The case for boxed wine just got stronger. In a blind taste test at the Edinburgh International Science Festival, 578 volunteers tasted wines ranging from 3.49 British pounds (or about $5.78 in American dollars) per bottle to £29.99 (just shy of $50). They were told that they were drinking one cheap wine, classified as being under £5 per bottle, and one expensive wine that cost £10 or more, and asked to identify which was which. Read on to see how they fared.

As reported in The Guardian, the volunteers managed to identify the more expensive wine only 53% of the time, and even less than that (47%) when the wines in question were red. Essentially, you’d have an equal chance of guessing an unborn baby’s gender or calling a flipped coin mid-air as you would of determining which wine is of higher value by taste alone. The wine with the highest accuracy rate was a pinot grigio, and that with the lowest was a claret, for which 61% of tasters thought the £3.49 bottle cost more than its £15.99 counterpart.

The moral here seems clear: If you want to drink free wine, sign up for more European science festivals. Also, if there is a costly wine you legitimately love, by all means, go ahead and splurge. But don’t venture down the wine aisle hoping to stumble on something tasty using price alone as your guideline, particularly with reds. Time to stock back up on that Two Buck Chuck.

The end of decanting?

Sunday, January 16th, 2011

There is something magical about decanting a wine, whether or not it really needs it.

Pouring from a standard bottle into a fancy oddly-shaped glass receptacle makes the drinking experience more ceremonious.

But is this extravagance necessary?  More often than not it is simply unnecessary.

For practical purposes, we decant for two reasons.

  1. To aid in the breathing of a wine – generally a young wine.
  2. To remove the good wine from its sediment or the particles that begin to form & “drop out” of an aged wine.

There is some benefit to the first, but as readers of this blog know, I am an advocate of both the vinturi aerator for young wines as well as rigorous glass swirling for aid in breathing with a young wine.

And as for the second, careful pouring can prevent sediment from reaching the glass and as such makes the idea of decanting somewhat frivolous.

But it is this second reason that has the inventors of this new bottle claiming that the decanter will soon become  extinct.

It seems the shape of this new bottle cleverly enables the sediment to get trapped in the bottom “compartment” preventing the escape of sediment from the bottle to the glass.

What will they come up with next…???

Happy sediment free Wine Tasting!

WTG

Flash Pasteurization is NOT harmful (when done right)

Sunday, November 14th, 2010

Kosher wine has a ton of stigmas attached to it.  It is all sweet, thick, flabby.  It is only made from the Concord grape.  And of course, it is BOILED.

It a very brief nutshell, NO, not all kosher wine is BOILED – actually I don’t think ANY kosher wine is boiled.

So where does this mis-information come from?  It comes from the fact that SOME kosher wines are further classified as “mevushal” – FLASH PASTEURIZED.

Flash pasteurization is a process used by NON-KOSHER wines too, including Louis Latour (“The wine is passed through a heat exchanger that raises the temperature to 72°C for 2-3 seconds”) & Beaucastel (“The skins of the grapes are heated briefly to 80 °C / 176 °F and then cooled to 20 °C /6O °F”) to name two.  This pasteurization is sometimes done to bring out aromatics, and other times to remove potentially harmful bacteria & “stabilize” a wine much like fining or filtering does.

Kosher wine that has gone through flash pasteurization does so to enable all people (regardless of religion & level of observance) to handle a wine.  (According to Orthodox Jews non-”mevushal” kosher wine may only be handled by Jews to maintain its classification as “kosher”.)

I want to break another stigma.

“MEVUSHAL” (flash pasteurized) wines DO NOT AGE.

HA!

I had the good fortune of drinking a 1996 Herzog Reserve Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon wine the other day thanks to a new wine friend.

This wine was gorgeous!  At a very mature 14 years old, this mevushal wine was soft & velvety with fresh fruit & berries.  An elegant wine that has aged quite gracefully and had a long luxurious finish.

What can I say…don’t believe everything you hear or read (just because you read it on the internet… ;)…).

Yes, some mevushal wines that go through flash pasteurization prematurely age due to poor pasteurization methods.  But when done right, this process seems to have no negative effects on the wine.  On the contrary, maybe it does in fact rid wine of bad bacteria and make it MORE age worthy…???…I know the mevushal Cab from California’s Herzog Winery sure aged well!!

Happy Mevushal wine tasting!

WTG

Sweet Red wine is GREAT!

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

Yes, I said it, sweet red wine is GREAT!

I was at a food/wine trade show today and had a great conversation with a young lady.  She came by to taste some wine and said that she would like to be more into wine but doesn’t like the bitter & tannic (not her exact words) taste of most red wines she has tried.  So she reluctantly said she would take a Chardonnay.

Lucky for her, among the wines we were sampling was a semi-dry red wine.

I know, these semi-dry wines supposedly aren’t meant for serious wine drinkers.  They are not known as classy wines.  They are said to be used for sacramental purposes.  They are seemingly terrible.  WELL, actually, when made well (with the care given to table wines) they can be great.

But most important, they are a GREAT TOOL.

Most people did not grow up drinking wine, or other dry beverages.  We grew up on soft drinks…soda, fruit drinks, juice, etc.  Our palates are not used to dry drinks.

Sweet (or semi-sweet) red wines are great.  It is a gateway wine (her words) to getting into the more typical dry table wines.

Happy sweet red wine tasting!

WTG

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!

WTG