Thursday, December 17, 2009

Wine Events - Reinvented

Even after having participated in or been at the helm of planning and executing over 40 wine events and seminars in the last 5 years of my career with the likes of Women for WineSense, Divas Uncorked and the erstwhile Vintage New York, as well as in my own entrepreneurial shoes with Illchef Productions and now wineLIFE, I find that the notion continuously evolves. I mean, one can just open some wine and invite some friends over, then you have a what - wine tasting? wine party? wine event? Or you can put the bottles in paper bags for blind tasting, or open up games like Wine Smarts to get the mental juices flowing. While it is true that it depends on who is attending, the main idea is that fun is had by all, barring the unforseen (spills of red wine on gorgeous white clothing - yes, I’ve been the perpetrator of such a snafu!)

At wineLIFE, we have, in the short time we have been doing events, evolved as well. At first we resisted calling them wine classes, even though the neighborhood asked us for wine classes every day at Van Duzer Summer Streets! Nay, these were “Wine Tasting Sessions” - with handouts and pencils and seats and spit cups - that reaks of class, not in a good way! Now, our handouts have become note papers to be used at your whim, there are not seats at a table, and you make your own tasting experience unique in the context of the theme we set up. This past Tuesday was wine for food for YOU Part Two, and I think the new format was fantastic! I have honed the branding - no longer is it the wineLIFE Discover Wine Series, it is now wineLIFE taste! - and used that branding to make cute hand written signs to identify the food and wines laid out. We did sort of a swap half way through, moving bottles around so that they weren’t next to the same foods all the time. We wanted our guests to discover what pairings they liked and what they didn’t like, to take whatever notes they wanted or none at all, to taste what they wished and bypass anything that didn’t intrigue.

Our philosophy: in wine, the rules are, there are no rules. You know what you like! Also, we don’t think you should have to take a class to learn about wine. Tasting on as many occasions as possible, bringing wine home to drink and enjoy at your leisure, visiting wine venues, wineries, etc on your travels, that’s what builds a connoisseur and thus a wine lifestyle!

All things considered, I like what we have created, and the evolution continues. See you Sunday!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Consultants - Who needs 'em?

Once upon a time I asked myself this very question. I couldn’t understand paying someone for some abstract service of “consulting”, like giving advice. I get free advice all day, every day, even if I don’t want it! To be honest, I’ve long avoided using certain words to describe myself, consultant being one of them. The other was expert. I’ve gotten over that one.

Truth be told, if a person has a high level of knowledge and experience in a field, they should not shy away from referring to themselves as an expert. You worked hard, you devoted yourself, and now, you have a breadth and depth of knowledge in your discipline that surpasses most and rivals the top people in your field. You are an expert. That being said, it doesn’t mean that you know everything, that your opinion should be taken as the final word on a subject. Rather, you are a good source for an educated opinion or guess when a question is asked, you are a good person to learn from about that topic. So yes, I am a wine expert.

And now, I am a wine consultant. Same concept as being an expert, except now you get paid to share your opinions, advice, guidance. So who needs a wine consultant? Well, the truth is many of the things I can do for you, you can do for yourself. For example, I have a client who wants a complete overhaul of his wine list at his restaurant. Could he select and purchase wine, write it up on a piece of paper and hand it to a customer to peruse without my help. Absolutely! Now here are the questions to be asked:

What wines are you buying for the new list? Why these wines? What does your product mix look like as compared to that of your closest competitors and the market at large?

What kind of pricing strategy are you implementing? Are you making the most money you can on your list?

Is your staff equipped to sell the wines (after all, a wine list is a sales tool, you still need the human element)? Do they know what to say and how to say it, how to serve it? Can they explain the offering to your guests?

How is your wine stored and where? How much storage space is available? How will that affect your purchasing strategy?

I could go on. The point is you as a restauranteur could

A: Spend a few years taking wine courses to bring your knowledge base up so that you can create, implement and administer a wine program well.

B: Make all the determinations of storage, purchasing, market positioning etc. on your own.

C: Conduct ongoing wine training for your staff or hire more wine savvy servers and bartenders (who then expect more financially)

D: Hire a full time sommelier and pay payroll taxes and worker’s comp insurance for them.

E: All of the above.

Consultants - who needs ‘em? People who want to do something positive for themselves, their asset portfolio, their business and their lives, but don’t have the expertise or time to do what they would like to get done. As Robert Kiyosaki says in his iconic book Rich Dad, Poor Dad, the rich are wise enough to hire and pay people who are smarter than them to get things done for them. Wine Consultants, unite! We are important and needed, so let’s get crackin’!

Friday, October 9, 2009

A Million Wine Stories in the Naked City

One of my favorite things about wine is that there are so many amazing stories behind each and every label, even the ones you think are huge, heartless corporations are still small business when considered in the realm of corporations around the world. Today, at a tasting of one of the largest wine portfolios in the New York, I heard a few stories that I felt compelled to share with you.

Its a sad thing that too many of the people who sell wine feel obligated to talk stats - grape composition of blends, use of oak and malolactic fermentation, reviewer scores, yadda, yadda, yadda! Just when I was getting to the tipping point, I met Hugh Hamilton, the owner and winemaker of Hugh Hamilton Wines in McLaren Vale, Australia. He was friendly, a refreshing face in a room full of sellers and buyers, a refreshing personality from a place so far removed from our venue, Budda Bar, in the bowels of the meat packing district. I arrived at his table specifically interested in tasting Jim Jim Unoaked Chardonnay 2007 and Jim Jim Shiraz 2007. Who is Jim Jim, you ask? “He’s our dog,” said Hugh, as he handed me a postcard with a picture of the Labrador/Kelpie mix enjoying a sunny day in his home vineyard. “He’s a clever dog,” Hugh said proudly. The postcard was apparently one in a series of Wine Dogs - the dogs of Australian wineries. You’ll find this kind of canine-wine love in the books Winery Dogs of Sonoma and Winery Dogs of Napa (Winery Dogs Publishing, $36.00 & $38.00 respectively). The wines were really good, as well! The Chardonnay, crisp and refreshing with lovely balance, the Shiraz showing the depth and complexity of a pricier wine than itself - two winning selections!

From right here in New York, a relatively new wine called Imagine Moore, owned by Tim and Diane Moore, comes in a bottle whose label is silkscreened right onto the glass. The winery is the first one to be established in the Naples Valley, a Finger Lakes outpost, in 100 years. Each bottling features a picture of the Moore children. I tasted Imagine Moore Peace Pinot Gris 2007 which was rather good, with an edgy herbal, eucalyptus, sage vibe that reminds me of versions of Pinot Gris from Alsace, France. Their other wines dare you to imagine in many ways - Imagine Moore Joy Riesling, Imagine Moore Grace Dry Rosé.

There are a million wine stories in the naked city - stories of fortunes lost and won (see my first blog in this series, Wines of our Lives), families growing, pets, landscapes, history. Next time you go wine shopping, ask your fave retailer for some interesting tales among the wines you find on their shelves. If you’re lucky, you’ll walk away with more than just a bottle for the night!

The wines mentioned herein were tasted at no cost to the author of this article, but were not provided for the purposes of this article. The providers of these wines had no prior knowledge of the author’s intention to mention and endorse the wines in this blog

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The New Wine Connoisseur

The term “emerging markets” has a specifically nouveau riche intonation when people are talking about wine consumption in China and India. The story of the Beijing business man who opens up a first growth Bordeaux worth upwards of US$700.00 and adds coke to it before drinking has become a new urban legend in the wine world. At a panel discussion last night at Christie’s Rockefeller Center, Charles Curtis MW, wine consultant Judy Beardsall and Bloomberg News’ Wine and Spirits Columnist Elin McCoy could not help but bring this topic up when discussing Fine & Rare Wines in a Changing Market.

Charles, who is Vice President and Head of North American Wine Sales for Christie’s, referred to an auction in Hong Kong earlier this year where top wines were selling for well above their high estimates, in some cases 3 or 4 times as much at gavel - especially those of Chateau Lafite, one of the five first growth Bordeaux wines (newly released bottles of this wine fetch upwards of $800.00 a pop, even more in fantastic vintage years). Indeed, as consumers in Asia are finding that they now have more disposable income than ever before, they are exploring these luxury goods, and wine is finally finding new fans where it never did before.

There is even wine production taking place - in India, Sula leads the charge, with a decent, value-priced Syrah and a few other wines. When you think India, don’t make the mistake of thinking hot. Such a large country has parts that do indeed experience winter, and cooler mountain areas where vitis vinifera grape vines can flourish. The same is happening in China.

Also in China, sadly typically, is counterfeiting of higher end wines. Elin repeated a statement she said she’d heard a Canadian Liquor Control Board official make - “50% of the Canadian ice wine in China is not ice wine, and its not Canadian”. So it’s not just dvd’s and Louis Vuiton handbags in the fake market anymore! Caveat emptor! Verify the authenticity of a coveted wine you are thinking of buying and purchase from reputable sources - these are key elements of what we call provenance.

On the bright side, these new wine buyers seem to be ignoring the Wine Spectator and Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate scores that have long been polarizing driving forces behind the perception of quality in individual wines, and therefore, there pricing and their sale-ability. Instead, they are listening to what their friends and colleagues are saying, in what Charles referred to as the “rise of the consumer review”. I would be interested to follow that supply chain and see where the friends and colleagues are getting their information from - I sincerely hope it is from drinking the wines themselves, and not from one of the aforementioned magazines.

That’s the thing about wine, though. The fun is in discovering. It makes me very happy to know that there is a whole new, very large group of consumers who are discovering and developing a palate for wine. Its a wine world after all!!

Photo Credit: Jupiter Images

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Corked or Screwed?

I should preface this by saying that I’ve published this very piece of writing many a time before, and that I will keep publishing it until all my wine peeps are wise to the cork vs screwcap game. It is that serious. Enjoy this week’s blog, winebabes!


Hard to believe there is a raging debate in the wine world surrounding such a small item – a bottle closure. To the wine drinker, cork, screwcap, rubber ball bearing, whatever is sealing the bottle is just a barrier they need to get through to get to their wine. Nonetheless, to the producers, importers, distributors, restauranteurs and retailers who deal in wine, that closure can affect the way customers receive the end product in more ways than one. Between the perception the consumer might have of either closure (some still think screwcaps only go on inferior wines) or the condition of a bottle when it is opened, all the parties involved have a stake in the game.

You see, naturally this topic would be of interest to me, the New Zealand Wine Specialist, because about two thirds of New Zealand wines are bottled with screw caps instead of corks. For those of you who don't understand what the fuss is all about, here's a short explanation.

Cork is made from the bark of a tree. Don't worry, it is completely renewable - the bark is stripped from the living tree, only one stripping per tree every nine years, and the stripping doesn’t harm the tree in anyway (I guess they like to be naked – I can relate to that!). The thing is that cork is porous and can harbor fungus and pathogens that sometimes proliferate and get all the way through to the wine. Ironically, the worst cases of this issue stem from the method used to sterilize corks. So when you open a bottle of wine, and it smells like musty basement or wet cardboard, we call it "corked", and send it back to the sommelier or the bottle shop, because all parties involved knew the risks and took the chance on selling you that bottle of wine anyway.

Cork was the seal for wine amphorae in Ancient Greece and Ancient Egypt, and once glass bottles were developed in during the 17th century, it emerged as the most economic choice of stopper. Since the 1980’s, as awareness of cork taint in wines was increasing, development of alternatives closures proliferated. Now, in addition to screw caps, we have synthetic cork, the Zork (convenience of a screw cap paired with the pop of a cork) and the glass Vino-Lok (the super cool glass T stopper), among other innovations. They’re even exploring the use of a crown cap as a final closure for champagne and sparkling wine.

So I was at a symposium on syrah in the vineyards of Hawke's Bay, New Zealand two years ago, and I noticed that the issue was deftly glossed over. On the panel was a syrah producer from California, one from Australia, one from New Zealand (other local producers were present) and a Master of Wine. The question was burning my chest throughout the day. I decided to take the mic towards the end during the q & a period and open the barrel of worms.

If the choice of closure for syrah is an important consideration because of the nature of the grape (they mentioned in the notes that it is naturally reductive; that is a slowing of the aging processes in bottle, and suffers often the formation of stinky sulfur compounds), then what closure is best? It was the Aussie who dismissed me with the very abrupt answer: If the wine is "reduced" when you bottle it, it's going to stay that way, whether it's under a screw cap or cork. The panel quickly took another question.

Afterward, I was thanked by one gentleman for being brave enough to pose the question. After all, it is something that should be addressed in the company of wine professionals who are discussing marketing opportunities for wine, especially New Zealand wine. The thing is that the issue is so polarizing, especially among winemakers, and a cork producer was one of the sponsors of the event, yadda yadda yadda, no one would touch it.

I was then introduced to the lovely Jenny Dobson, winemaker at Te Awa in Hawke’s Bay. She recognized me immediately as the poseur (or imposeur, as it were) of the hot question, and she happily treated me to her thoughts on the subject.

In her experience, one has to prepare the wine for the closure. One choice of closure is not necessarily better than the other. Each has its flaws, and there are issues with screw tops that "no one likes to talk about". For one thing, wine producers have a limited choice of bottles for screw tops and the neck size has to be perfect for the machine, as well as compatible with your choice of screw top, otherwise the collar doesn't sit quite right on the bottle. Although screw tops are less expensive than corks, changing your bottling line over is initially an expensive endeavor. Also, if you stack palates (a large, flat wooden platform that holds like 500 cases of wine) too high, literally two high, the pressure can break the seals of the bottles on the bottom.

She uses both closures. Her corks come directly from a producer in Spain (most of the world’s cork comes from Iberia), and they are composite corks from which the offensive microbes have been removed. Cork producers are working hard to improve the way they grow, produce and clean corks. At dinner that night, I was chatting with Amelia, winemaker at Matariki Wines, and she echoed Jenny’s sentiments, adding that her choice of closure has more to do with marketing than with the wine itself. Her less expensive, second label goes in a cute, stylish screw cap. The estate wines, made for cerebral enjoyment and old school aging, are finished with corks.

Still, people, especially people who make wine, generally have very strong opinions about which is better. From all accounts, had they taken my topic on, dudes might have had to break up a fistfight!!

Personally, I like screw tops for their easy access, and I also like being able to reclose the bottle. I've had (myself, purchased for personal use) very few corked bottles of wine, and at least once, I've had a screw top bottle I couldn't open because the collar was too loose and so I couldn't break the seal. I’ve had corks dry up and break as I try to extract them, then expand so fat that reinserting them was impossible. The latter is especially common with synthetic corks, which can also be really tough to remove from your corkscrew! Bottom line, drink wine and enjoy life. Drink it out of screwtop or cork or Zork, bottle or box or can, stemmed or stemless glass, plastic tumbler or coffee mug. Much like your last blind date, its what’s inside that counts.

Photo Credit: The Paupered Chef, March 2007,

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Tasting While Congested

If you ever wondered if you could party yourself sick, you can. I partied so hard this past weekend, I woke up Tuesday morning with a sore throat, swollen tonsils, and my nose completely clogged. That evening, I was due to taste the wines of Palmaz Vineyards, a small Napa Valley concern down by the city of Napa with just a handful of wineries nearby (most of Napa Valley’s wineries are further north near the towns of Rutherford, Yountville, Oakville, St Helena and Calistoga)

Palmaz is another intense wine story of family, money, change and fortune (see my June 4th blog on Charles Krug). The property, originally a little stone house on a hill, was founded in 1800’s by a gent who was actually distilling, rather than making wine. Henry Hagen, a German immigrant who was a Napa Valley winemaking pioneer, purchased the property in 1881, built a magnificent 4 floor mansion, and took the property from moonshine to wine under the name Cedar Knoll. Sadly, Prohibition would force him out of the business and the property, and when the bank foreclosed on his home and land, he and his family took all that they could carry and left. For 85 years, no wine was made there.

Fast forward to the 1970’s when Dr. Julio Palmaz, a surgeon from Argentina, came to the University of California at Davis to study - who knew UC Davis had a medical school? Inevitably, he met many winemakers and caught the wine bug, but he and his young wife Amalia soon moved south to Texas where he would build his medical career. Their fortunes turned when Dr. Palmaz made a discovery that would revolutionize heart surgery. He created the Heart Stent, a device that holds the artery open to improve blood flow. He sold his invention to Johnson and Johnson, and treated himself to this fantastic property back in Napa, where he and his family now live and work as winemakers.

At a table in the lobby of the swank Ace Hotel in Flatiron, Alan Greenberg, the company’s East Coast representative, told us this captivating story over olives, salami and cheese. Samantha, Betty and I, three of the five board members of Women for WineSense NYC Chapter were about to be treated to a tasting of 5 of this winery’s 6 wines, including a rare vertical of three vintages of their $100.00 Palmaz Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley. But alas, my nose could not cooperate.

I sniffed and I snuffed and I blew but I could only get a tiny bit of air through one nostril. Through that portal I took a deep whiff of the Palmaz Chardonnay Napa Valley 2007 - success! It came though! Crisp green apple, citrus and cream aromas were lovely! On the palate, the acidity was perfect - not so soft as to be flabby from the malolactic, not sharp. Fabulous. I had a lot less luck with wines that were a lot more expensive. I could smell fresh red berry, cassis and hints of cinnamon in a very youthful 2005 Cabernet, and leathery cedar and tobacco aromas in a more mature 2003, but the 2002 was kinda lost on me. I could just cry!!

The Palmaz Muscat Canelli 2007 was spectacular, though. Grapey as Muscat can be, laced with lovely floral aromas. The sweetness was delightful on the attack, but it subsided as it progressed across my palate to a clean finish, and had a nice vein of acidity to balance it out. Very impressed, as were Samantha and Betty.

The moral of the story? Well, I guess there could be several:

Don’t schedule an important wine tasting the day after a big party weekend.

Don’t skip a wine tasting just because your nose is stuffy - you may surprise yourself.

If you can’t control the scheduling of a tasting, bring along other trusted palates to help you evaluate the wines.

A beautiful dessert wine can conquer flooded sinuses!

I can’t wait to taste the wines with a clear nose!

Friday, September 4, 2009

The ABC - Alcohol Bullsh!t Control

OK, I get it. US state and city governments and law enforcement agencies were absolutely shell shocked by the end of Prohibition. I mean, after the rampant bootlegging, proliferation of speak-easies and the boom of organized crime that was the gratitude to the 18th Amendment over the skinny 13 years - a time frame that, inopportunely, also hosted the Great Depression - who could blame the recoil after repeal? So when in 1933 the federal government replaced the 18th with the 21st - which effectively gave all the states the right to make their own autonomous alcohol laws - it is no wonder that the “Great Experiment” yielded these crazy results.

So what do we have now? Pandemonium! A nation of 50 different alcohol fiefdoms that are adjoined by a massive interstate system (save two, of course). Wanna send your friend in Kentucky a bottle of wine in gratitude for hosting you and yours at their home last summer? No can do - Kentucky and 12 other states still consider it a crime to ship alcohol directly to its resident’s homes. Wanna open a restaurant in Pennsylvania? Sure, be our guest, but you do not have access to the wholesale tier to purchase wine for your wine list - you’ll be shopping in the same retail aisles and paying the same marked up prices as consumers, then you’ll have to build your profit in on top of that. You can buy wine in the supermarket in Hawai’i and New Jersey, but not in New York. In most states, if you want to have a mimosa with your Sunday brunch, you still have to wait until noon to order it. There are even some counties that are “dry” - yes, that means that alcohol is prohibited within the county limits. Stories of rows of liquor stores that press up against the county line in the very next, usually very wet, county abound. And yes, it is a crime to return across that county line with alcohol (legal contraband) in your possession.

What if you want to open a lovely little wine shop in a swank New York City neighborhood? You can do it, but be prepared to pay rent on an empty space until you have finished gathering all of the necessary items - questionnaires, bank statements, penal bonds, proofs of citizenship. You have to get fingerprinted by the police and in addition to the lease, your land lady has to further affirm that she is giving you a right to use this premises, but is not a shareholder in the business. And you or any of your investors can’t be employed by the NYPD. And even though the legal age for someone to work in a wine shop is 18, your investors must all be at least 21.

At least I can open a shop, though. If you are running or working in a wine shop in Pennsylvania or Utah, you are a state employee. If you’re a consumer, well, your selection is limited to only what the state alcohol-beverage-liquor-control-board-authority-guys decide they want to buy for the stores statewide. Special requests? Prepare to jump through bureaucratic hoops! But I can only open one shop - New York State law prohibits me from having more than one off premise (retail) license, so my dreams of expansion are presently deferred (until I figure out another way around it).

Yes, I get it; criminals made it big during Prohibition, the Great Experiment that went so wrong. But 76 years have elapsed since its repeal - doesn’t it seem fitting that these laws should be reviewed and brought up to date? I’m no Al Capone. I just wanna sell wine and make babies!

For more information on the various state laws regarding wine and wine shipping, visit our friend Shackles at Free the

Friday, August 28, 2009

Back to wineSchool

Last Saturday at wineLIFE, we started our mailing list. We asked for people’s names, email addresses, and we asked them to write in what their favorite wine was. Some were very vague (red), while others were very specific (merlot, montepulciano), but the overall common thread of the day was made up of many requests for wine classes.

The Back to Wine School window looks really good - complete with marble notebooks, big number 2 pencils, wine text books and a real school desk (please, don’t ask me where we got it from!). Now, it seems, the theme will continue inside as I think hard about what classes to offer and how.

My first thoughts were to offer a set of themed series - five classes covering five of the major grape varieties, a series on different wine countries or regions, perhaps a three part look at red, white and sparkling wines. One thing was clear in my mind: I’m not sure a “wine 101” is the way to go. Of course, final decisions will be steered by the results of a poll I will conduct among the people who would be my students. But based on what I’ve seen so far, no one really needs to be treated like they have to go to a vinous version of Pre K. Wine savvy comes in all forms from those who know think they “don’t know anything about wine” but know enough to know they love Pinot Grigio/Chardonnay/Merlot, to those who love Italian wines, like Burgundy. All of this would strike the average wine connoisseur as very elementary, but to me, it means that consumers have a sense for what is out there, and know what they have enjoyed in the past and/or present, so it is time to take them to the next level so they can feel more confident navigating the world of wine.

Email me, please, with your thoughts on what wineLIFE wineSchool should cover. It will help me form a curriculum that is both valuable and enjoyable to all my future students!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Here's to a Deal!

Imagine my surprise to find Gnarly Head Old Vines Zinfandel 2007 from Lodi CA for a shockingly cheap $8.00 at the Wine Library in New Jersey last week! In my retail days back in 05 and 06, the store I was working as a buyer at, a store that definitely had the ability to take large quantities in to get the best price, was retailing this wine for somewhere in the $13.00 a bottle range. Seeing old Gnarly Head selling for under $10.00 served as a vivid reminder of the state of the wine market and how it, much like the housing market, is definitely in favor of buyers now!

Wine Spectator magazine reported earlier this year that for the first time in modern history, Americans purchased more Prosecco than they did Champagne for New Year’s Eve 2008. The US and Japan have historically been the Champagne region’s top markets for the good stuff that starts around $30.00 a bottle, and goes up for Blanc de Blancs (100% Chardonnay champagnes), Vintage Champagne and Têtes de Cuvée (the top pop, such as Dom Perignon, which is Moët’s top wine and Louis Roederer’s Crystal) to well over $200.00 a bottle. It looks like we wised up, America, and our long honeymoon with Champagne and other high priced wine has come to an end as we realize that less expensive options will fit the bill with just as much festivity. Prosecco, Italy’s most jovial bubbly from Valdobbiadene in the north east, weighs in at a meager $10.00-$15.00 a bottle.

What does all this mean to you? It means that now more than ever, wine is financially accessible. The barriers of high prices are coming down quietly as retail and restaurant operators continue in their struggle to move all the stock they took on during last November and December and wholesalers are not able to clear their warehouses with new vintages coming online. There are lots of great deals around - wines that retailed 3 or 4 years ago above the $10.00 mark are coming down below $10.00, those that peaked at over $20.00 are coming closer to that $15.00 sweet spot.

My recommendation? Buy at around $15.00, but don’t be afraid to take a chance on stuff that is in the $10.00 range. Many shops will cut margins close to move an older vintage out. Reds vintage dated 2003 or later or whites from within the last 2-3 years are usually safe bets for everyday wine drinking, though the picture becomes a little more complex at the higher end. Restaurants won’t be as forgiving on price as they must maintain their caché and make their margins to cover much higher overhead. Nonetheless, I would fish in the $30.00-$50.00 a bottle pond on the wine list of a reputable place, and you will indeed find better deals on wine by the glass these days - sommeliers and bar managers seem to be pushing it below $10.00 a glass, as low as $6.00, in even the most chic neighborhoods.

Baileyanna, makers of boutique, single vineyard, sustainably grown Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah in the Edna Valley region of California, has the perfect formula for their high price points that traditionally started in the low $20.00’s and stretched close to the $50.00 mark, yet I found their 2007 Firepeak Vineyard Chardonnay at a shop in PA for a fabulous $9.99 a bottle - and it was really good!

Also, I always recommend connecting with the folks at your local shop - find someone who steers you in a direction you like with his or her recommendations. But make them stick to your price point - they will have lots of great options that you can enjoy inside your budget. That way, you can continue to live your wineLIFE without going broke!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Epiphany in a Glass

The thing that makes wine grapes so very intriguing is the fact that the wines they become can smell and taste like so many different things in the world - flours and fruit, vegetables and minerals, spices, fur, tar, cedar - the list goes on! No other fruit can claim this talent. In my wine drinking adolescence, I remember how often I’d hear people talk about “buttery” Chardonnay. I had no idea whatsoever what they were talking about. It was a time when I started to question the validity of all these colorful descriptors, started thinking that the aromas and flavors they were talking about were implied - I mean come on, you can’t really smell butter in a glass of wine?! Or for that matter berries, smoke, citrus fruit, tea leaves... stop the nonsense! And then the day arrived when I was sitting in a wine tasting with a glass of California Chardonnay in front of me, thinking to myself “what the heck am I going to write for a tasting note?” I picked the glass up by its stem, pointed my nose downward over the rim and inhaled - “I SMELL THE BUTTER!!” Yes, everyone turned and looked at me, but they all understood my elation - as a wine aficionado, I had arrived.

As my wine education progressed, I learned more about the naturally occurring chemical compounds that create these smells, such as pyrazines that make Sauvignon Blanc smell like green bell pepper (I remember that epiphany well in a glass of Sancerre - it is those same pyrazines that make green bell peppers taste like green bell peppers!), and the lactic acid that makes Chardonnay taste like butter (the same lactic acid that makes butter taste like butter - see the pattern forming?) Not that I had to learn all of these chemicals by name - not that anyone has to learn them. Happily, my epiphanies continue even today, as I discover new things through my many wine tasting (read: drinking) experiences.

Its fun as well to revisit the things that I have discovered in the past, like last night, enjoying a glass of J. Bookwalter’s Subplot No. 22. from Columbia Valley, WA (NV) at Sweet and Lowdown in the Lower East Side and I suddenly felt something hard click against my tooth. I was tickled to find wine diamonds, those tartrate crystals that sometimes form when wine is changing temperature, clinging to one side of my empty glass. They are not common anymore, as most wineries will cold stabilize the wines before releasing (the wines are chilled down to make the tartrates form, and then filtered out and bottled), but they are a naturally occurring phenomenon in wine, and I remember the first time I spotted them myself while tasting a Pinot Gris in one of my WSET lessons. A few years later, I was working in a retail wine shop in SoHo when a woman came in looking very displeased, complaining that there was glass in her wine. The feeling of the little crystal on my tongue took me back to that memory, and although she would not believe me when I tried to explain, I felt good at least that I could offer an explanation. What can I say? I guess one woman’s epiphany is another woman’s fright.

I’m looking forward to my next epiphany, though its becoming harder, as I have discovered so much already. Time to really get my feet stained!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Real First Fruits - Southern Hemisphere Harvest Preview

Wine drinkers are often taken of guard when they find Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand on the shelves of their favorite stores vintage dated in the current year.  The simple explanation is that by April, vineyards in New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Chile and Argentina have finished their harvest.  So while Northern Hemisphere wineries rush to market in November with the first wines of the vintage - Beaujolais Nouveau from France, Novello from Italy, even the North Fork of Long Island gets in on the act with Macari's Early Wine - the kiwis are shipping their first Sauvignon Blanc to US shores.  And unlike those rushed first fruit bottlings, these wines are finished, and usually quite delicious.  

I ran a Southern Hemisphere Harvest Roundup in April 2007 while I was writing for The Nibble and I'm feeling the urge to do it again - oh boy!  

Come back next Monday for the report!  

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Toast to March - Wines for a Month of Transition

They say March comes in like a lion and out like a lamb, meaning that the weather can be really fierce and scary in the beginning, but by the time the end of the month comes around, it is calm and gentle, may be even a little warm and fuzzy.  Perhaps, in winespeak, March then comes in like a Zin and out like a Pinot Noir - depending, of course, where they are made.  Also, a full bodied, ripe red California Zinfandel is perfect comfort wine for cold and blustery weather, which we also find in the early days of this transitional month.  While Pinot Noir is not necessarily a warm weather wine, the benign late days of March are good days for venturing out and finding something new among the wonderful wines of Burgundy.  

And for my Pisces posse, we have crisp New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, delicate Muscadet de Sevre et Maine Sur Lie and lean Pinot Grigio from Alto Adige - all great wines for fish.  Venture into Austrian Zweigelt or perhaps a Long Island Cabernet Franc if you prefer salmon or tuna steak.  Aries Rams, your gamey flesh needs something more rich and rustic, like Aglianico del Vulture from Basilicata in Italy's dirty south, hand crafted Grenache-Shiraz-Mourvedre blend from McLaren Vale Australia or South African Pinotage, so try one of these after the 21st.  

So what does one drink on the ides of March?  If you are filing business taxes at the last minute, then whatever you can open quickly, preferably something with a screwtop, but if your taxes are in and you are enjoying the transition from winter to spring in relative leisure, you can get a preview of the season of new beginnings with Tempranillo, Spain's early girly, say goodbye to winter with a fairwell sip of German Eiswein, or start celebrating early with a fabulous grower champagne.  

Here's to March!  Try these: 
Gnarly Head Old Vines Zinfandel 2006 Lodi $10
Eradus Sauvignon Blanc 2008 Marlborough $19
St Michael Eppan Pinot Grigio 2007 Alto Adige $20
Lieb Cabernet Franc 2002 North Fork of Long Island $25
D'Arenberg The Cadenzia GSM 2006 McLaren Vale $25
Man Vintners Pinotage 2005 South Africa $9
Christoffel Ürziger Würzgarten Eiswein 2001 Mosel $112 half bottle
L. Aubry et Fils Brut NV Champagne $36

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Women of the Vine

So I wanted to wait to post this blog because I wanted to give you a recap of last night's Women of the Vine Cellars tasting and tell you about some of the most compelling reading I've done in the last few years.  

My friend Deborah, who is also a member of the NYC Chapter of Women for WineSense, changed her life a few years back by writing and publishing a fantastic non-fiction book called Women of the Vine.  In it, she profiled 21 women in wine, including Master Sommelier Andrea Immer Robinson, Stephanie Browne, founder of Divas Uncorked and a host of women winemakers.  In the beginning, she talks a bit about wine basics in a tone that is easy to sip and savor, and then she launches into compelling profiles of phenomenal women who have each carved themselves a niche in the male dominated wine world.  After all, we are responsible for at least 65% of all the wine purchases that take place in the US (think, who is usually responsible for shopping for the household?)
  and in my opinion, we write the most interesting wine books!  If you haven't read one already, read this one!  

So last night's event was at Fred's, the restaurant on the top floor of Barney's New York on Madison and 61st in Manhattan.  This was a fabulous venue!  Marketta Formeaux, one of the winemakers Deborah wrote about, was on hand to talk to us about the line and specifically the wines she made, the Sauvignon Blanc and the Cabernet Sauvignon, in the line.  She is a lovely, friendly French woman with a fantastic story and the Midas touch - the wines were good as gold!  She explained that 25% percent of her Sauvignon Blanc is fermented in oak (not normal for this grape variety) which I thought was a nice touch and added some weight in the mouth and some delicious spicy notes to the overall flavor, which was characterized  by crisp, fresh fruit.  There is also a Tempranillo, a Zinfandel and a beautifully made Chardonnay and more in the line.  All the links I've provided here will help you find out where to buy them.  Also, keep up with my blog and you will find more opportunities to taste the wines, meet the author and winemakers  and get your copy of Women of the Vine autographed.  

Another amazing story of a woman in wine is that of Susan Sokol Blosser, of the eponymous winery in Dundee Hills appellation in Oregon's Pinot Noir wine country.  She endured a 
turbulent marriage, the birth and upbringing of three children, aging parents, political changes - she even once ran for a local polictical office - and she later on took over the winery as her husband phased himself out.  They are apart now, but Sokol Blosser is going strong, and her book, At Home in the Vineyard, chronicles all of this in an honest voice that makes her so compelling.  Last year, I met Susan, who founded Oregon's first Women for WineSense chapter years ago, at the Women for WineSense Grand Event in Napa.  She was accompanied by her lovely daughter, who was just about as pregnant as I was at the time.  

Last but not least, much closer to home for me, is the story of Louisa Hargrave.  She and her husband Alex planted Long Island's very first vineyard in 1973 amid apple and potato farms.  They really did what they did against many odds - the locals thought they were crazy, the administrators at Cornell University's viticulture reasearch program saught to sabotage them, and she too was pregnant during the planting of the vineyards.  She was out in the field nonetheless putting the vines down in unfriendly weather.  The vineyards are still there, under the stewardship of Anna Marie Borghese and her husband, though Louisa, now a journalist, has since moved on.  But here is yet another compelling story of a woman who went through the fire for her passion and created a legacy in wine.  Where there were once potatoes, a burgeoning wine country now flourishes on the North Fork of Long Island.  The Vineyard is a must read for those of you who are seeking inspiration for starting a new business of any kind.  

So what's the difference between men and women when it comes to wine?  Here are some differences that I've discovered over the years: 
1. Women are indeed from Venus when it comes to wine - we talk about it in like it-don't like it terms, and sometimes can't explain why, but can definitely tell you how it makes us feel (typical, huh?).  We are also good at accomodating other people's perceptions.  

Men talk about wine in definite terms, for them there is right and wrong in discussing the flavor profile of a wine and what makes it taste the way it tastes.  And much like in sports, they like stats. 

2. Which brings me to my next point.  Men invented the 100pt rating system of wine and for the most part, they rely on these kinds of stats to help them decide what to buy, and even what to like (men inside the industry are a bit exception to this rule).  Most wine collectors are men, who buy wine not to enjoy, but to display on racks like trophies and trade like stocks (can't hate on that, investment grade wine performs amazingly as an asset class!).  

Women buy wine to enjoy in the short term, and share with their friends.  In general, they will buy and try what their friends suggest and seek recommendations from their girls.  

3. They say women's palates are better than men's.  (They're probably right!)

4.  Women tend to be less confident about affirming what they like and don't like if they think they don't know anything about wine. 

Ladies and gents, please take my poll below.  I'd like to know more about how wine fits into your life.  Also, your comments are very welcome (again, typical :) 

Monday, March 2, 2009

What Makes a Wine?

My chapter of Women for WineSense had a great tasting with David Moore at Moore Brothers Wine Company last week in Gramercy.  One of the things that makes this shop so unique is that they specialize in wines from France, Italy and Germany, and as well, they have a wonderful event space that has a kitchen stocked with sleek stainless steel appliances - Chef Shehu, who came to pick me up, was drooling!  

Listening to David Moore speak that night brought to light another unique feature of this shop.  A main vein wine philosophy that likely directs all the wine selections in the store.  He talked at length about the places the wines came from - it seems he had not only visited them all, but was surprisingly familiar with minute details like soil and climate differences between this vineyard and the next vineyard over - and it soon came to light that he places a high level of importance on the origin of a particular wine.  

Although the reasons for this fact are arguable, it is undeniable that wine is a product of its place.  Nonetheless, I had to disagree in my own mind with the way he diminished the importance of the grape variety as a contributor to the character of the wine it becomes.  "Calling Chinon Cabernet Franc is like calling bread flour," he opined, referring to one of my favorite red wines from France's meandering Loire Valley.  

To be clear, Chinon is the name of a place in the valley, also referred to as an appellation.  The wines of Chinon are red wines made from the Cabernet Franc grape.  I agree that Cabernet Franc wines made in Chinon must taste different than Cabernet Franc made on the North Fork of Long Island, as a function of the phenomenon we call terroir.  Nonetheless, I maintain that Cabernet Franc as a grape has a distinct character and therefore is a major contributor to what makes Chinon Chinon.  If Pinot Noir were also grown and produced in Chinon, it would be an inherently distinct glass of wine.  

As well, to say that calling a wine of place by the name of the grape it is made from is akin to calling bread flour is a bit simplistic.  One of the magical things about wine is that it is the least processed of the agricultural products that undergo processing to reach a final result.  Water, sometimes sugar, eggs, seeds, grains, flavorings of various types and heat must be added to flour to create bread.  Wine, in its most essential form, is never embellished to this point.  It may be aged in oak or fermented with selected yeast strains, but it remains what it is from day: 100% grape juice.  And the juices of Cabernet Franc, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling grapes all taste distinct.  Even the addition of water can change the flavor of flour, depending on where that water comes from.  

In my crusade to help the wine consumer confidently buy and enjoy wine, I have found that grape varieties are a much more simple thing to latch on to and make sense of.  A grape can have a character like an person, and it can travel and live and grow in various places, take on new characteristics, even reinvent itself, but still be what it is.  To understand a particular location as the identity of a wine can be a bit confusing, because while all wine is a product of grapes, not all wine is an inextricable product of the place it was made.  

I love a good Chinon.  We tasted one on the night of our event in our cute shoes side by side with a Bourgeil.  They tasted different to me, one a bit more tannic and earthy than the other, but none the less I loved them both.  Two wines made from my favorite grape variety: Cabernet Franc.  

Monday, February 23, 2009

Designer Wine

One can imagine how disgusted I was to walk into a wine retailer in Gramercy to see three bottles of Ed Hardy wine lined up on his desk - a Cabernet Sauvignon, a Chardonnay and a rosé. I looked at him, he looked at me, we both sighed in disgust.  He said he bought it as a favor to one of the wine reps that services his shop, and after the guy walked out the door, he immediately regretted it.  They don the ubiquitous Ed Hardy signature and each features the now iconic tattoo-esque graphics that this designer has made popular on T-Shirts and trucker hats.  Don't get me wrong.  I love the tattoes, but on cheap wine?  Is this really a help to the brand? 

Well, I suppose in a way it is, because the bottles are just one more place for the logo and images to find exposure, and the wine is, as I said, very value priced, so more of it will find its way into the market than Diesel's Italian line of wines, released about four years ago.  These debuted in the portfolio tasting of a chic wine importer that was held at a Vespa showroom in SoHo.  Unlike the Ed Hardy wines, and much like their jeans, the Diesel bottlings were not for priced the people, with wholesale prices upwards of $500.00 for a six pack case of Chardonnay (packaged in an obviously 
expensive bottle and shipped in wood, both brandished with the Diesel logo we all know and love).  You might find them somewhere for a whopping $85.00 or more per bottle.  Serious retailers who buy at this level would think thrice before locking up that much cash in inventory that might sell to an unabashed fashionista or a loveless brand collector, but would more likely die a lonely death on the shelves.  The Ed Hardy wines look wholly unappetizing at first glance, but are likely to sell at under $20.00 a bottle on the strength of brand recognition.  
Diesel Wine in LondonWine from Diesel Farm

Wine and fashion have been wanting to get into bed for ages, but it hasn't been as easy a task as it would seem.  There are rules to fashion and rules to wine, and although those rules can often be flouted, great designers and great winemakers usually feel a natural compulsion to stay true to their respective crafts.  Partnerships have been tried - Ecco Domani, the makers of a not-that-fabulous Pinot Grigio sponsored the shows in Milan 3 years ago.  This was great exposure for the brand, which hit the shelves in New York at around $12.00 a bottle and moved brisquely through the market for the next year thereafter.  Last Spring, Vibrant Rioja, the marketing group for the northern Spanish wine region, was the official sponsor at the tents in Bryant Park.  At the time, my friend Lisa was the Program Coordinator, and she created a great campaign that splashed the Vibrant Rioja logo all over the park and the city, complete with promotions and tastings throughout the month of February.  This Spring?  I can't identify the wine sponsor.  Maybe there was none.  

Do models drink wine?  If many of them are under 21, and a handful drinking age but still under 25, then maybe not - the wine industry does a poor job of targetting young drinkers, who choose ready-to-drink products like Bacardi Mojito and beer, as well as vodka and cocktails over wine for the most part.  Do designers drink wine?  This is a lot more likely, but how large a consumer group is this?  Designers who show at events like Fashion Week can likely afford to indulge in wine at whatever level they like, but this is a small group compared to the many starving artist level designers who probably can't enjoy the best just yet.  Waiting for the breakthrough! 

What about the fashion consumer?  Now here's a group to target.  People who can buy couture, or at least designer label garments and accessories can surely afford to enjoy fine wine, can't they?  Unfortunately, the fact is, these people tend to be very label concious and, outside of the Champagne market, wine is not a label-centric item.  Two sensibilites at loggerheads.  What do you serve at your next fabulous event?  What will impress the judges?  I look for what suits the menu and theme and tastes great, but you may not recognize the names of what I'm pouring.  On the other hand, I'll probably be wearing some very fashion forward frock that I saw in latest BCBG Maxazria lookbook, and be carrying a designer handbag rented from Avelle (the new Bag Borrow or Steal).  The wine and the hostess will both be ultra fabulous! 

My wine glass poll is still open.  Go to the original blog post, or just scroll down and vote now!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Broke and Job Free? Go to a wine tasting!

If you still have your job, or you were bold enough at some point to follow your inspiration and own your own viable business, chances are you know someone who's out of work - its that bad right now.  And I know that money is tight, and many of you find it frivilous to spend money on anything other than food, rent and your next mani/pedi (gotta look good for interviews!).  Nonetheless, I say, when times are tough, go to a wine tasting. 

A wine tasting can take on various forms.  It can be an elaborate dinner of three or more courses with a winemaker flown in from Bordeaux/Napa/Barossa to talk about the most recent vintages of their latest, greatest, impossible-to-afford cult classic that you never heard of before you spent $150.00 for your ticket to this event.  You can go to a class, sit down in front of a paper placemat where six glasses sit atop six labeled circles and the guy next to you whispers sweet tasting notes in your ear the whole time (whether you want him to or not) because he knows it all.  Or you can go to your local wine retailer on a Friday or Saturday evening between 4:00 and 8:00 pm and see who's standing there with plastic cups and open bottles - these latter incarnations of the wine tasting are free.  

Now, you know I would not be your favorite wine snob if I didn't plug my own wine group, Women for WineSense, and mention the fact that they hold tastings all year long in 15 chapters nationwide (including NYC) and that most of these events cost less than $50.00 a ticket.  (The New York City chapter is charging less than $40.00 for all of its 2009 events - the next one is February 24th at Moore Brothers Wine Company)  But here's my point: for $40 you can either buy yourself 3-5 bottles of deliciously inexpensive vino to enjoy in the privacy of your own home while you wait for responses to the 50 resumes you sent out to Craigslist postings this month, or you can take that $40, and GO TO A TASTING EVENT NEAR YOU!  

Because we all know it aint what you know, its who you know, and who you know right now is not helping you find whatever opportunity you are looking for, so it might behoove you to go meet some new people.  Tastings at this price tend to be more informal events, where you mingle and chat while you sample various wines.  The other great thing about these tastings is that you will probably either 
a. taste more wine than you could have bought with the money you spent on your ticket or 
b. taste more expensive wine than you could have bought with the money you spent for your ticket 
OR (this thought makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside) BOTH!

Plus, you can spend time chatting and mingling, talking about what makes you so great and what you're looking for out of life this year, and who knows?  You might meet your next employer/investor/friend/date.  Imagine that?  Meeting someone through networking!  Who'd uh thunk it??

OK.  Let's review: 
Wine dinners are great, but probably too expensive for many.  
Classroom style tastings can vary in price, but are not generally conducive to mingling and networking. 
In store tastings are good if you happen to be in the store at the time by chance, but I wouldn't mark these on my calendar. 
Informal tastings - especially Women for WineSense ones - are just what the doctor ordered in these here times.  

Tip of the week: 
When buying inexpensive wines, I like to employ a few tactics to make sure I get the most for my dollar, because even a small amount of money spent on bad wine is wasted!
1. White wines under $20 a bottle, especially those under $10, should be from a vintage within the last two or so years - steer clear of anything in this price range that is older than 2007.  They tend to lose their acidity and fruit, and are probably that cheap because the distributor and retailer want to get rid of them to make way for a more recent (possibly more expensive) vintage.  
2. My best experiences with reds under $10 have been with wines from Southern France - (AOC Languedoc and Vins de Pays), California Cabernets and Australian and South African Shiraz.  You can find surprisingly pleasing wines under $10 in these categories, but understand that they are likely to be straightforward, possibly slightly unbalanced wines, because you are getting what you are paying for.  Still, they aren't bad in most cases. 
3. Leave that Beaujolais Nouveau alone!  At this time of year (February) it aint Nouveau anymore!  
4. Pinot Noir below $20 is average at best.  Don't do it to yourself!  

Sunday, February 8, 2009

What if wine is allowed into New York Supermarkets?

A fellow Women for WineSense member recently updated her Facebook status to "is glad she does not own a liquor store in New York State."  She directed you to to sign a petition to oppose the legalization of wine in grocery stores.   

Last Store on Main Street, a group of liquor and wine retailers, argue that jobs will be lost because liquor stores will be forced to close and that teenagers will have more access to alcohol.  

New York's industry is made up of two types of alcohol retailer - the liquor store and the wine shop (though they are all classified as liquor stores by the SLA).  A lot of these used the strategy of opening up near a supermarket, so as to create a symbiotic business relationship.  At this point, they can 
a. canibalize themselves - the supermarket can pick up wine to compete with the liquor store 
b. continue the symbiosis - The two stores can balance their product offerings to compliment eachother.   

Alternatively, there are wine shops, who carry wines from smaller producers that don't get representation in large supermarkets because they do not produce enough to supply the Costcos and Trader Joe's sized markets.  These, and the ones that are not near supermarkets, but instead have a small grocer close by.  The inherent symbiosis is that large supermarkets don't want to deal with small production wines, just as smaller grocers won't choose to tie up more money in inventory and overcoming a learning curve.  

OK, I admit it,  I relish the thought of  wine shops selling food!  The kinds of people who own wine shops can put the same attention into fine cheeses, charcurerie, chocolates preserves as we do into selecting fine wines from small producers.  That means more business for small, local cheese makers, farmers and artisan chefs and small wine companies.  We'll probably leave the produce, milk and eggs in the grocery's hands - why would we want to get into that? 

My local grocer, Charmar Superette, boasts an impressive selection of beers, fresh bread every day and a pretty decent deli case.  It's great having a market like that in the neighborhood complimented by a wine shop that has possibly a few more expensive artisan cheeses and boutique chocolates.  

And as for teenagers having more access to wine through supermarkets, thereby increasing the posibility of teen drunk driving?  Like Murray asked Bret "What's your reasoning?"  The law is clear: we card anyone who looks younger than 21.  

All I'm saying is, this could actually be a good thing for all retailers, distributors large and small, and most importantly, customers and neighborhoods.  

Where do you stand? Take my poll!  I will share this post and the results of the poll with selected elected officials.  They should know what the people think.  


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Wine for you?

This is off the cuff. Let's just start by saying that now that I've blown off some steam about the people I've encountered over the last 4 years in New York City's wine industry in my new YouTube series, also called Wine Life, I am ready to get into a glass of the good stuff with you.  

What is good?  What's really good?  It can be hard to tell, with so many wines on the market.  One cannot determine just by looking at a label, a bottle's shape, the closure (cork?  zork? screwtop?  glass t-stopper?), nor even by the price, whether it will be good - FOR YOU!  These last two words are key, my friend, because wine is very democratic that way.  There is a wine for every person, no matter what you eat or drink, or where you live, or what your income or lifestyle.  

Good wine, in my humble (read: expert) opinion, is wine that makes you feel good, not just because of the buzz, but because of the flavor and the mood.  So be good to you, try something different today - go to a tasting (Women for WineSense has chapters nationwide, and they hold tasting events all year round, as do many local retailers on Friday and Saturday evenings in many cities) or just take a chance on a bottle that a friend recommended (caveat: consider the source). 

Or try one of these.  Think you don't like wine?  I promise you, seek, and you shall find the wine that likes you, and you will likely like it back! 

Whites - When your mood is chill...
Verget du Sud Vin de Pays Blanc, France 2005 - $7.00
Man Vintners Chenin Blanc, South Africa 2008 - $8.00
d'Arenberg The Hermit Crab Marsanne Roussane, Mc Laren Vale, Australia - $11.00
Te Awa Left Field Unoaked Chardonnay, Hawke's Bay, New Zealand 2007 - $15.00
Alphose Mellot Sancerre Blanc La Moussiere - $30.00

Pinks - When you are flush with excitement...
Cantalupo il Mimo Nebbiollo Rosato 2007, Piemonte, Italy - $11.00
Segura Viudas Brut Reserva Rosado Cava, Spain - $9.00

Reds - When its official...
Trapiche Malbec 2007, Mendoza, Argentina - $10.00
St. Supéry Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, Napa Valley, California, USA - $25.00
Eric Texier Chateauneuf du Pape Vielles Vignes 2005, Rhone Valley, France- $45.00
Valli Pinot Noir Bannockburn Vineyard, Central Otago, New Zealand - $60.00

Sweet Red Bubbles - When he/she is flirtatious...
Banfi Rosa Regale Brachetto d'Acqui, Piemonte, Italy - $16.00

Swirl on...

Saturday, January 3, 2009

We Swirl On...

The way to release all the aromas of wine in a glass is to swirl it.  We wave the glass through the air in a circular motion like a magic wand, and essenses leap from its bowl, giving you myriad clues about the wine inside.  In honor of the new year, the new era of American history, the new feeling in the air, the new prosperity that lies ahead, we pour our best wine into our best glass - stem or no stem, your choice - we share it with our peoples, and all in unison, we 

Swirl On...

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