Friday, July 30, 2010

It's all in the GLASS

Most of my emails focus on what is IN your glass, but this one will focus on the not so obvious--the glass itself. I have long been a Riedel wine glass fan and have glassware to match many of our favorite wine varietals. If you go to Riedel's website, you will see they have hundreds of choices at many different price points. The 4 types we have are the "Wine" series (glass, machine made, avg. retail would be around $10) the "Vinum" series (lead crystal, machine made, average retail of around $20) the "O" series (stemless, glass, probably $20 or so for 2?) and finally the "Sommelier" series, which are hand-blown lead crystal and can cost over $80 each! What's the big deal? PLENTY!
As noted in the past, we have only 5 primary taste 'senses' (salty, bitter, sweet, sour and "umami", which can loosely be translated as 'protein'). While we're not as proficient as Spike the wonderdog at smelling, we humans can pick up over 10,000 nuances of smell. Again you ask, what does that matter? To truly enjoy the wine (and specific attributes of a particular varietal) a wine glass can 'make or break' a wine. Take your favorite red wine (or a white wine that's not too cold) and put it in a drinking glass, a cheap wine glass, one of those silly Waterford crystal wine glasses you got for a wedding gift (pretty, but useless) and take a sip from each. If your last glass happened to be a nice stem (Riedel is nice, but try Cost Plus World Market for some inexpensive clones) you will be blown away at the difference! If you have different shaped wine glasses, take it a step forward-a cabernet glass is usually upright and tapered, a pinot noir glass is more rounded with a big bowl. If you tried the cabernet in both glasses you may be surprised how much better it is in the true cabernet glass versus the big bowled pinot. All I can say is TRY IT and you will be amazed! Go for the proper shape and no heavy 'rim' around the glass (think of that rim as a 'speed bump' messing up the flavors).
Final shot-what is the achilles heel of this entire exercise? How clean is that glass? If you store glasses in a cabinet, top down or over a stove, you will not get the full effect of the wine. Make sure to rinse the glasses prior to drinking them as you will smell less of the wine but more of where it was stored, such as the 'wood' of the cabinet (or grease if over the stove). Try smelling the empty glass 1st or put a bit of wine in the glass--you may see what I mean. Then rinse it out and try again and you will smell the wine, not the cabinet! Too much soap residue can ruin your wine experience as well. Cheers!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Again, I'm not the only one.

This article talks about Cheap Wines and how that is becoming the new norm in wine shops. At the end of the day, there ARE a ton of 'good' wines for inexpensive prices. Stick around; I'll share what I find for ya! Cheers, Bo

Friday, July 16, 2010

Good and Cheap!

Can't come up with a better subject line than that... As you have no doubt noticed, I am not afraid to try a cheap wine. Caveat: I do tend to stay away from cutesy, hyped or 'overly marketed' wines, like "Critter" wines (wines that have a cute animal on the label to get stupid people to buy the wine based on the label alone). And have also noted that I don't always buy wines in the grocery unless I know it's a good price (typically on a wine I already know). So here's an end-cap with a Malbec blend at Kroger, marked down to $3.99 from $8.99 (got to love that Kroger Plus Card!). I think to myself, "Why not?" Well, it is actually pretty yummy! The wine label didn't look cheap and silly and it came from Mendoza in Argentina so its 'particulars' were solid, so for $3.99 it appeared to be a great deal. The wine is called Aconga and is an 80% Malbec 20% Cabernet blend. It drinks pretty well for a 2009, which I would have thought too young. If your local Kroger has this wine (at this price) I'd recommend buying several bottles--perfect BBQ or grilling wine (an easy-drinker as well). Cheers! Bo

Friday, July 2, 2010

Another tale from the darkside...

Okay, I have a confession, actually a couple of confessions. I bought an animal wine. Yep, a bottle of wine with a small animal on the label; designed to be chosen by a consumer who may or may not know about wine (but they think it's cute and buy it). The other confession? I bought wine at Wal-Mart. Yes, THE Wal-Mart. Let me explain...!

So I'm in my local Super Wal-Mart looking for a few simple items for our garage sale--Julia wanted to sell lemonade so I picked up a jar with a spigot, some ice and lemonade mix. Let me tell you, it's hard to find the *&%$ lemonade mix at our Super Wal-Mart--I even ran into a friend who was likewise looking for drink mix! Regardless, in my search for lemonade I buzzed down the wine aisle (quelle surprise?) as I'm apt to do, and found some familiar/common brands (no, I didn't expect a 'deep' selection and no, I didn't find it).

What I did find was a wine for around $5 that I figured 'what the heck' and bought. You ready for it? Lucky Duck Malbec--it didn't even have a vintage on it (guess that would have cost more?). I enjoy Malbecs from Argentina and the price was right and to be honest, I thought it was quite yummy! SO, if you're looking for an inexpensive red wine (and you're at Wal-Mart!) give it a shot! Look for the yellow duck on the label and consider yourself the lucky (and thrifty) one! Cheers, Bo

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Happy 4th! Here's the perfect wine: ZINFANDEL

Our uniquely American grape, Zinfandel is in the news; this article hits on several EXCELLENT examples of my favorite grape. My only gripe? No Ravenswood mentioned :) (for that matter, no Rosenblum either).

If you are in a 'splurge' mode, see if you can find a Neyers Zin (Tofanelli, yum!) Nalle (look for the fruit flies on the label) or Frank Biale's "Black Chicken" (kind of rare). Otherwise, head to Total Wine & More for Shenandoah Zinfandel (CA, not VA) for $8.99 (88 points Wine Enthusiast; producer is Paul Sobon--good stuff); Ravenswood's inexpensive line "Vintners Blend" for $6.27 (in contrast to $10 at the grocery!), Bogle Zin for $8 or look for Renwood Zin, which ranges from $10 for their 'value' blend to almost $50 for the 'Grandpere'.

So Happy Birthday USA, enjoy some wonderful Zinfandel with your cookout!