Final Thoughts

This will be my final post, so it’s a doozy. Scroll all the way down the page to see each portion.

Touring Bronco Wine Co.

I got the chance to see where Charles Shaw is bottled and shipped from in Napa. Here are the highlights:

Fred Franzia is a simple man. He drives from his home in the Central Valley to Napa in an old truck with a ton of miles. He calls his workers a “hell of an asset”. He has delivered more than 500 million CASES of two buck chuck through one distribution channel, Trader Joe’s.
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Winexpression to Close

I must fly away to another flowerAfter almost 8 years, I have decided that my Wine Blogging journey has come to an end. Thanks to all the readers, PR staff, and fellow wine bloggers that supported me through this journey. I have a few posts to finish up and will explain a bit more, but basically this forum has run it’s course in my life and I am ready to move on. I have valued the feedback I have received and thank you all for your support. Stay tuned for a few more posts with the most valuable wine lessons I’ve learned, tips for wine bloggers, and some final reviews and notes from recent tastings I have attended.

Best,

Jathan.

Top 10 Wine Myths Debunked

Copyright Winexpression

Urban legends and myths continue to dupe us. Until the Paris tasting in 1976, the myth that France was the only Country that could produce high quality wine lived on in oenophiles minds. Even though you may laugh at the myths below some people are still fooled by them. Let’s try to set the record straight.

10. Fruit used to describe wine went into making it.

cherriesFalse. Unless you are buying a wine made from a fruit other than grapes, it is made from the grape varietal on the label, and not from fruit used to describe it (e.g., black cherry, strawberry, kiwi). It’s comparable to artificial flavors, i.e. they taste similar to whatever is being copied but do not contain the actual ingredient. So when you see, “hints of raspberry, cherry, and vanilla” on the label, the producer is simply describing how the wine tastes similar to these components, they weren’t actually used in the production of the wine.

9. You need a different wine glass for different types of wines.

wine_glassesFalse. Again, this is a myth that was debunked a long time ago. You do need a tulip shaped glass or a glass that tappers towards the top to concentrate the aroma toward your nose, but, different shapes to place wine on your tongue in different areas or to aerate the wine faster aren’t necessary. Get yourself a nice set of stemware (Riedel Ouverture Red Wine, Zinfandel or these Riedel O Stemless) and save the space in your cupboard. If you need to let a young wine breathe quickly, try one of these aerators or get a Decanter.

8.You can’t age wines sealed with an alternative closure

twist_off_capFalse. In fact, the data shows that screw caps, or twist-offs as they are sometimes called, are more consistent at sealing wine than cork. One study, cited in the March 31, 2005 issue of Wine Spectator on pages 59-60, found that screw caps allowed .001 cc’s of oxygen per day on average, versus corks that allowed anywhere from to .1 to .001 cc’s of air to enter a wine bottle. In fact, 7 of the 35 bottles sealed with cork allowed .1 cc’s! That means twist-offs are more consistent and let in less oxygen over time, which would result in longer bottle aging. The cork industry would like to have you believe otherwise, but don’t buy it, screw caps are here to stay and you won’t have a problem letting these wines age.

7. Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Sherry, and Port are grape varieties.

chateau_margauxFalse. Thanks to a confusing labeling system from the old world this is a common mistake wine consumers make. Cities in France, Spain, Italy, and Portugal, among others, restrict production of grape varieties in their area. For a winery to receive legal approval and label their wine, it must be made in the manner mandated by the organization that oversees production there. That means Champagne is not a variety of wine, but the place where some sparkling wine is made. Want to make a non-sparkling wine in the Champagne region from say, Cabernet Sauvignon, and write that on the label? You can’t. Same with Bordeaux, which is a blend of different red varietal grapes, Burgundy, which is primarily made from Pinot Noir, and Port, which is made from various red and white grape varieties. More information can be found here [Wikipedia].

6. Pair white wine with fish or chicken and red wine with red meat

2005_linne_calodo_nemesisFalse. Although this is the most common answer to ‘what wine should I pair with what food,’ it is incorrect. The better way to pair food and wine is by anylizing the flavors of the food and the flavors of the wine. For example, if you are grilling fish and decide to season it with a little salt, lemon, and butter, a nice Sauvignon Blanc with citrus notes or a Chardonnay with buttery flavors would work great. If, however, it’s salmon that will be smothered in a blackberry sauce, you would be better suited in choosing a fruity red wine like a Pinot Noir, Merlot, or even a Syrah. The best thing to do is read the description of the wine from the label or a review on a blog and then pair like with like. It’s also helpful to understand that wines with firm tannins work better with salty dishes, or that acidic wines need a dish with a bit of acid, or how spicy food works better with wines with some residual sugar and not a high alcohol level. Just remember there are no hard and fast rules to this. Dr.Vino has been playing with impossible pairings for some time so search out advice if you get stumped, it’s available.

5. Wine lovers are snobs

rudd_center_tastingFalse. Only people that live in Napa or Bordeaux are….no, I kid. Actually, most serious wine lovers are students of it and are quite down to earth. It’s the people that mask their ignorance with arrogance you have to watch out for. True wine lovers are passionate about continuing their wine education, and are willing to share their knowledge and a glass with anyone interested.

4. You can discern wine quality by looking at the legs.

swirling_wineFalse. You swirl your glass, set it down and notice that a thin, clear layer has stuck to the inside of the glass, and begins to drip down. Sometimes referred to as tears, this is simply a small amount of alcohol and water that adheres to the surface of the glass and as the alcohol evaporates water is left dripping it’s way back in. Why? Water is a primary component in wine, and alcohol evaporates much quicker, so when left on the glass, the alcohol evaporates and the surface tension of the water increases forming drops that gravity takes control of. This is not a measure of the viscosity or the quality of the wine so don’t worry about it. Further reading on this phenomena can be found here [kitchensavy.com] and on Wikipedia.

3. Drink Red Wine At Room Temperature, White Wine Chilled

stormhoek_chilled_white_wineFalse. Although this idea isn’t necessarily wrong, it’s interpretation almost always is. Many see this as letting a red wine sit out on the counter so it can come to the current room temperature, and opening white wine right out of the fridge. The real idea behind room temperature for red wine was getting it to around 60 degrees Fahrenheit, the typical temperature of a “room” when this saying was popularized. Many professionals agree, the best way to enjoy wine if you don’t have the luxury of a temperature controlled storage device, is to put your red wines in the fridge for about 5 – 15 minutes before consuming, white wines about 20 – 30 minutes. If you store your wine in the fridge, take the whites out for at least 15 minutes before serving, reds at least 30. Again, it isn’t an exact science, but typically you’re looking for around 60 degrees Fahrenheit on a red, a little below that for a white, and a bit colder for anything that sparkles. Some argue that nuances aren’t observed in white wines that are too cold, which is true. I find that if you chill your wines, over the course of the evening they will warm up and you can observe the development through the night. Professor Bainbridge expands on the subject a bit at the bottom of this op-ed The Red Wines of Summer.

2. All wines get better with age.

vintage_1850False. Actually, a very small number of wines have the proper structure to hold up to aging. Most wines are made with the intention that they will be opened within a few years. The small amount of trophy wines that garner the majority of the press are the ones that have been built for longer aging, and most people don’t even buy these wines. So if you’ve been saving that white Zinfandel from 10 years ago because you think it’s getting better, might want to cut your losses now. (Can you say Re-gift?)

1. Smelling the cork in a restaurant will tell you if the wine is bad.

corksFalse. Cork’s smell like….well, cork, and won’t give you an indication of the quality of the wine. It’s the wine that you want to smell, the cork is only offered to you for a quick examination. So what should you be looking for when the waiter hands you the cork? If you’re buying an expensive bottle the biggest thing you want to avoid is fraud, and if you’re at a reputable restaurant, they’re going to be buying from reputable sources, but again, this is just a precaution. Does the winery’s name, logo, or other branding information appear on the cork? Has the cork been damaged, compromised, allowed seepage in any way? If it is a more expensive bottle, does the year stamped on the cork match the vintage of the wine?

Thoughts On Visiting Napa Valley California

Note: Winexpression is pleased to welcome a guest writer to the team! This person brings a fresh prospective on the world of wine, travel, food, photography, and the Wine Country lifestyle that interests so many. I am proud to post their well written content to this site, and if we can convince them to stay around, I’m sure we’ll receive many more entry’s in the future. This journalist and photographer will remain anonymous for now, but who knows, maybe they will want some credit for their work down the road. Please enjoy!

Update: We’ve decided on a name for The Anonymous Poster, and well, since we love acronyms, we’re going with T.A.P. :o)

Napa_mustard_and_vines

Living in the Bay Area, we are almost footsteps away from some of the most sought after wines in the world.  People from all parts of the earth come to experience what we, many times, take for granted.  What am I talking about?  The Napa Valley, of course!  It’s really quite interesting how little time we actually spend in this area.  But, in our defense, Napa can quickly become very expensive, as any of you know who have visited there before.  So we find it best to make our trips to the valley somewhat sporadic, but each time proves to be memorable.

This weekend we took an overnight trip which was just what we needed to recharge.  The weather wasn’t what most would consider ideal, it rained the entire time, but Napa is beautiful, rain or shine.

We booked a room at the Yountville Inn, a first time for us.  Our room was comfortable and very clean.  It featured open beam ceilings and a gas fireplace, which added to the warmth on a rainy weekend.  A buffet is offered each morning, serving Starbucks coffee, cereal, toasts, hard-boiled eggs, and a variety of baked goods from the Model Bakery, amongst other things.  A tasting card is also provided along with a map and a list of wineries that offer things such as complementary tastings or discounts on purchases.  This is a very nice touch for anyone visiting for the first time as it can help you to navigate through the myriads of wineries.  A word of caution, however, to those thinking of staying here, the walls are thin!  So much so that you can hear your neighbors everyday conversations as well as the toilets flushing.  Not exactly what you want to awaken to at midnight!  But, maybe if you’re a heavy sleeper it won’t matter much to you.

We visited some wineries that we’d been too before and some that were a first for us.  Our stops included Luna Vineyards, Domaine Chandon, Silverado Vineyards, Grgich Hills and Freemark Abbey.

Silverado has been a mainstay for us.  The tasting room is beautiful in that it has floor to ceiling glass doors that overlook the vineyards below.  There is a terrace with several bistro style tables outside, and when it isn’t raining, of course, they encourage you to take your tasting outside and enjoy the view.  But even if it is raining there are tables and chairs inside that allow you to relax and take in the view.  Since we are seasoned tasters at Silverado, we found ourselves sipping wine at one of the tables while leafing through cookbooks that are offered for purchase, instead of standing at the tasting counter.  The wine is sure to please and while you’re there, buy a Merlot filled chocolate ball (sold in a pack of 10 only)…a treat that will leave you wanting more!

Another winery that wasn’t new to us is Freemark Abbey.  It had been some time, though, since we’d visited, and we really like their wine so we decided to make it one of our stops.  The tasting room is warm and inviting with a large fireplace, a couch and chairs welcoming visitors.  The grounds are also well kept and beautiful.   Aside from the wines being outstanding, what really stood out to us was the high level of customer service offered.  Employees at some wineries can be very off-putting, even giving the consumer the feeling that they aren’t worthy enough to taste their wines.  But that was not the case at Freemark Abbey.  The staff was very friendly, informative and down to earth.  They even suggested that a tasting could be shared, but poured into separate glasses, for each to enjoy.   Granted, the tasting room wasn’t packed, which could lead to less individualized attention on some occasions, but when you have an employee who is genuinely interested in the consumer enjoying their wines, you feel it and it can make all the difference in the world.

Unfortunately, that was not the feeling we got at Grgich Hills.  It was our first stop on Monday, and while each employee had a couple they were pouring for, it was certainly not as busy as a winery can get.  The gentleman pouring for us had been attending to two women prior to our coming in.  While he offered pairing suggestions with each wine poured, there was sort of an air about him, if you will.  When questioned about their practice of organic and biodynamic farming, it was almost as if he spoke down to us.  Perhaps he was put off by the fact that we had a complementary tasting card, provided to us by our hotel.  Maybe he was just more interested in the woman he was pouring for rather than us.  Or maybe that is just his personality and we read him wrong.  Whatever the case, a tasting experience can really make or break a return to the winery.  And with over 300 wineries in the Napa valley alone, it’s not just your wine that should stand out above the others, it’s also your hospitality.  The competition is much too fierce to leave anything to chance.

All in all though, our trip was very enjoyable and you can be sure that it won’t be the last time we visit the Napa valley.  No matter how many times you visit you will always be drawn back to it’s beauty, the friendly wineries that you find, and of course the great wine that they pour.

Posted by T.A.P.