Lessons From The Vine

JathanJust a few things I’ve learned about wine.

1. Wine doesn’t have to be expensive to be good.
I don’t know if this is a lesson you learn after you open a few expensive bottles that disappoint, or when you realize your savings account is dwindling, whatever it is, it’s a lesson that benefits everyone.

2. Closures are irrelevant
Screw caps are no longer exclusively associated with plonk, and anyone who tells you corks make a difference doesn’t know what they’re talking about. Embrace the change and experience the benefits that come with all types of closures.

3. Try as many different varietals from around the world as you can
It may be a grape varietal you’ve never heard of before, or a region you didn’t know was even producing wine, stay open minded and taste as many wines as you can. You may just find a new favorite.

4. Stemware is more important that you think
Sorry, the sales people are right, the glass does make a difference. Suck it up and purchase the right stemware for your wine. A good all around glass is nothing to quaff about, they work great. My recommendation is the Riedel Vinum Zinfandel or Riedel Ouverture Red Wine, you can pretty much throw anything in those including Single Malt Scotch.

5. Diversify your collection
Take a look at your wine collection and ask yourself: Do I have a nice collection for every season? Do I have special occasion bottles? Do I have enough tweaners for those pizza or burger nights? Am I aging the right wine made by those producers who focus on ageability? How is my dessert/fortified wine selection? Even if you don’t like a certain style of wine, it’s nice to be prepared if a guest has different taste buds than you.

Something to add? Feel free to comment below.

NV Maui Blanc – Hawaiian Pineapple Wine

Maui Blanc Made from the juice of pineapples, this white wine comes from Tedeschi Vineyards on Maui, Hawaii. Described as “a soft, dry, fruity wine with an unmistakable pineapple bouquet,” the winemakers hit the nail on the head when they printed the labels for this one. Unfortunately, some of it’s golden color comes from caramel additives. However, for pineapple upside down cake fans, your joy can now be had in liquid form. The aroma is bursting with caramelized pineapple and greets a dry palate with a subtle flavor that is just fine on it’s own.

Score: 84 pts JAT
11.5 % Alcohol
Price: $7

Wine Site Watch: Cork’d

Cork'd WebsiteIf you haven’t uploaded your wine cellar to an online tracking system yet, now is a great time to make the leap, thanks to a new free site: Cork’d. Created by a couple web gurus, this site is built on the latest Web 2.0 technology, and offers some great features. Adding your cellar inventory is as easy as searching the database to find wines that have already been added by other users and adding them to your own collection. The rating system relies on a simple five star system. The site has already attracted over 4000 users, and 3.2 million page views, probably thanks to the celebrity status in the design world of Dan Cederholm from SimpleBits and Dan Benjamin of Hivelogic, the programmers responsible.

(Tip: When you sign up, add me as a drinking buddy, just do a search for my name.)

Visit Cork’d here.

Woot Wine: One Week, One Wine

What the heck is wine.woot.com? Think Overstock.com meets Wine.com meets group buying, but without selection. Once a week a new wine will be offered at a discounted price on Woot Wine. The site has partnered with Wine Country Connect, a go between for wineries and distribution chains, to offer lower prices for wine lovers.

The deal this week?

Storybook Mountain Mayacamas Range Zinfandel 2003
$126.99 for 6 bottles or $21.16 a bottle.

A good deal? I found this company selling the same bottle for $24.99 by going to wine-searcher. So a savings of $3.83 a bottle, or $22.98 for 6.
Buy 5 get 1 free? Not bad. It will be interesting to see how a site like this does in the highly competitive retail wine business.


Tip: Thanks Pep.

The Professional World of Wine Course, CIA St. Helena July 18-21,2006

Coming up in July, California wine enthusiasts can take their wine education a little bit further. Hands on courses are great, and the Culinary Institute of America’s Greystone campus in St. Helena, CA is offering a 4 day crash course from July 18-21 for only $650 USD. What will be covered? From the website:

* Study how wine is made and how winemakers craft a style.
* Taste and evaluate wines as professionals do.
* Examine the definitions behind key tasting terms.
* Explore Napa Valley vineyards, talk with growers, and learn how viticultural techniques shape a wine’s flavor.
* Visit a Napa Valley winery to taste and discuss current winemaking techniques.
* Analyze the philosophies behind successful wine and food pairing and participate in strategic tastings to illustrate such pairings.
* Discover how the business of wine works, including wholesale and retail price structuring, basic media and promotional concepts, and the path wine takes from vineyard to the dining room table.
* Understand proper wine service and etiquette.

Looks pretty sweet. You can sign up here.

Aubert Ritchie Vineyard Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 2004

Aubert Chardonnay

I’m usually not one to spend a lot of money on a Chardonnay, as I strongly feel, for around $30 or so you can have a fantastic bottle that fires on all cylinders. However, I do find myself splurging ever so often. Whether it’s a good review or a hard to find bottle that I happen upon, sometimes I spend around $80. Yes, I know, that is a lot to spend, and my wife would agree with you, but sometimes you just do it.

Mark Aubert, the renowned winemaker who worked for the Peter Michael Winery and has been at Colgin Cellars since 1999, has his own project, Aubert, which continues to receive good reviews from the experts. I purchased two different Chardonnay’s off of their mailing list, mainly because Mr. Parker was generous with his scores. I opened this Sonoma Coast Chardonnay, from the Ritchie Vineyard, and although I enjoyed it, I didn’t as much as RP, who rated it 94-96 pts. For the money, I was a little disappointed, which has left me with a new motto: just drink wine that’s good, and inexpensive.
Wine: 2004 Aubert Ritchie Vineyard Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
Notes: A very nice wine, straw colored and cloudy with a fresh nose of lemon grass and apple, bright acidity with flavors of vanilla and apple, and a touch of oak. A very nice mouthfeel and finish. This bottle seems like it would age nicely, and perhaps isn’t showing full potential right now.
Score: 92 JAT