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.
Continue reading

Review: Octavin – Monthaven Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet

Octavin Package with Monthaven WineWould you drink from a plastic bag? What if a piece of cardboard with pretty lettering was wrapped around it? Most people would answer no, but guess what? If you have ever purchased a fountain soda, you’ve done just that. That syrup concoction that gets mixed with carbonation just before being pumped out of a pretty plastic dispenser is a cheap and efficient way to hide the original packaging and deliver a product people pay for. Now what about in the wine world? Continue reading

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.

Wine Wipes – The Answer to Wine Stained Teeth?

wine_wipesStained teeth are unattractive, embarrassing, and now a thing of the past thanks to Wine Wipes, a product for cleaning up your crimson smile. A disposable pad is removed from the compact and the mirror affixed to the lid guides you as you rub off the stain. The package contains 20 wipes, a mirror, and retails for $6.95.

Sounds great! The only problem is… the taste. The company who makes them, Borracha LLC, claims they have a “gentle orange blossom flavor” that “freshens breath and cleans palate without interfering with wine tasting.” I found the flavor more of a hydrogen peroxide with baking soda and lemon juice. The ingredient’s reveal what’s going on:

“Water, citric acid, sodium bicarbonate, citrus medica limonum (lemon) juice, orange blossom natural flavor, sorbitol, sodium cloride, hydrogen peroxide, sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate, phosphoric acid”

It’s a great idea and I applaud the effort of it’s inventor, Kimberly Walker, but until version 2, I’ll put up with the look of stained teeth while allowing the flavor of wine to linger on my palate. How about a Sauvignon Blanc flavored option?

Website: www.winewipes.com
[rating:3.5]

Full disclosure: I received this product as a press sample.

Review: Four – The Premium Wine Tube

four_wine_tube_full1You’ve heard it all of your life, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” And most likely, as you’ve applied that principal throughout your life, you’ve realized it really is good advice. That Pad Kee Mao you wouldn’t have touched a few years ago? It’s now become something you crave ever since you tried the Thai place on the corner and took the suggestion of the waiter.

But that principal can’t possibly apply to wine, especially not the boxed wine variety, can it? After all, we’ve all been to those BBQ’s that feature “wine spritzers.” You know how it goes, fill your glass with ice, pour in some 7-Up and top with boxed wines finest white Zinfandel. With that image etched into one’s memory, how can a person possibly not judge a wine by it’s container?

Puring from Four Wine TubeWell, times are changing and so is the world of wine. Twist-offs are increasingly gaining popularity, albiet with resistance from some, so why can’t a good wine be packaged in something other than a glass bottle? Perhaps changing our preception of what a “good wine” should be bottled in might change the way we purchase wine in the future. That is the hope of at least one company who has decided to think outside the box, and package their wine in a tube.

The brainchild of parent company Creative International, Four provides a 3 liter container of red wine for $39 USD. We were able to get our hands on one since it’s official launch in October of 2008, and here is what we thought.

Full disclosure: This tube was sent as a press sample.

Four Wine Tube Package NozzleWine: Four – Cabernet Sauvignon
Appellation: California
Vintage: 2006
Varietal(s): 92% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Petite Sirah
ABV: 14.8%
Price: $39
Production: 4,000 Cases (they did the math)
Notes: This inky purple wine has a lovely aroma of blackberry, cassis, anise, and a touch of mocha, with a medium bodied mouth feel with chewy tannins that linger and coat the palate. You won’t find this type of complexity in most competing wines under $10 a bottle. A very good effort that is drinking good now, and will for the next 3 to 5 years.
Score: 88 pts (B+)

Website: www.fourwinetube.com

Wine Tips During Tough Economic Times

In news that surprised analysts, beer sales were down in many countries around the world in the fourth quater of 2008.  Dr.Vino weighed in on the wine side of the matter with a poll that showed most of his readers are buying less expensive wines at the same or higher volume.  Data on wine auctions has also been released that shows a sharp decline from the 2007 highs.  So what’s a wine lover to do?  Here are a few tips that I have already put into practice that will hopefully help you.

Tap Your Cellar

If you have been collecting wine, now is a great time to start enjoying all those bottles you’ve saved, especially since some of them will soon be going south.  Most wines made these days are made to be enjoyed within the first 5 – 10 years, so tap into your collection and enjoy.

Share Mailing List Shipments

Know someone who enjoys the same wines that you do?  Are you on mailing lists that you don’t want to lose?  Ask your friends if they would like to go in on the shipments.  Deferring the cost even a little might make that credit card statement easier to swallow.

Drop Mailing List Shipments

Are you caught in a spiral of buying wines that you don’t drink just because someone rated them high?  Are there other wines you enjoy at the same price point that you can buy on an as needed basis?  Now is a great time to trim the wine club fat and keep the subscriptions you truly love.

Explore Your Local Wine Retailer

You’ll be helping the little guy.  Exploring different regions, price points, varietals, and styles of wine will help you broaden your palate and is a great education.  Even if you do buy a couple of mediocre or bad wines, just remember, experience is what we get when we didn’t get what we wanted.

Avoid Ordering Alcohol Out

This is pretty much a no-brainer.  The markup on alcohol is huge.  It’s better to cut back on your overall bill than altogether not supporting your favorite restaurants.  Not drinking alcohol out will also keep you from possibly being a liability on the road.

Share The Cost With Friends

Many hands make the load light.  If you’re having a dinner party, ask your friends to chip in. They can bring a bottle to share, or help with the cost if you’re providing all the drinks.

Drink Less

Maybe not less times a week, but less on each occasion. If you enjoy a glass with your husband or wife with your meal, put the bottle back in the fridge and save the rest for tomorrow nights meal.  Since we really appreciate the first and last sips the most, you’re doubling your enjoyment of that wine!

Hopefully a couple of these tips will help you ride the economic storm. And since you might be consolidating your wine collection, I thought a giveaway would be in order!

THE CONTEST – ***CLOSED***

I’m giving away the Wine Tube wine rack. To enter the contest just leave the name of one of your favorite budget wines in the comments section below. Or, if you have a wine tip of your own, or just want to say hi, leave a comment below and you will be automatically entered.

THE RULES

One entry per person please. Open to U.S. residents only. No entries after Sunday at 8:00 PM PST will be accepted. The winner will be announced early Monday morning, a randomly chosen post from the comments section of this post!

I hope you win!

UPDATE

The winner is announced here.

And thanks again for your support. I wouldn’t have this site without you, and even if I don’t post as often as I used to, I will always try to keep quality posts coming your way.

Signed,

A Wine Lover
Ska Dancer
Nicholas Cage Look-a-like

Product Review – The Wine Tube

The Wine Tube EmptyWine-Wall.com, an online retailer that sells wine accessories, has introduced the wine tube, a 2 foot long apparatus for storing a case of wine. We got our hands on a press sample and the following is our review.

At first glance, the tube appears to be a simple stainless steel pipe with a few holes drilled through it. During installation however, it’s obvious that some work went into designing this piece. The package comes with 2 king size screws and 2 spacers, which float the rack off the wall just enough to allow bottle clearance. Although the website sells drywall anchors, this rack should definitely be anchored directly into a stud. I mounted mine in the garage to test it first, and loaded it with empty bottles. Even though I managed to fasten it into the studs, it wobbled a bit when adding or removing a bottle. Not a huge concern, but perhaps the design would benefit from a third fastener.

The Wine Tube FullWhen filled with all 12 bottles this modest design exudes a tasteful, modern look, showcasing wine very nicely, especially imaginative labels. Of course, you wouldn’t want to mount it near a window or in the kitchen, but on an accent wall a pair of these would add a great look to any wine lovers home. Save any wax capped or over sized bottles for the cellar as this rack favors a standard bottle. Overall, this is a very nice effort and would make a great gift.

Price: $49 for 1, or $82 for 2.

Website: www.wine-wall.com

Shipping to the U.S. and Canada

[rating:3.75]

Vitivini: The Game for Wine Geeks

Viti Vini PhotoVitiVini is a newer card game that challenges the knowledge of wine geeks. A play on the Latin name for the wine grape, Vitis vinifera, Viti Vini offers a Trivial Pursuit style question and answer challenge. Players take turns answering wine related questions, while gathering cards and coins, in the hopes of amassing 7 fact cards which must be “purchased” to win.

My wife and I had a chance to play this game, sent as a press sample, and we both realized that the player with the most wine knowledge has a clear advantage. The fact cards contain a plethora of information, although we did find one card that had an answer that didn’t match up. Overall, it’s a nice game, but I would say it is best played with fellow wine geeks.

Price: $20
[rating:3.0]

Vitivini.com

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.

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.