Monday, January 27, 2014

Wineducation: Age it or Drink it?


It couldn't hurt. (amazon.com)

One of the perks of my love of wine is that people gift me bottles for most any occasion, dinner parties, birthdays, and the Christmas holidays have all added a nice selection to my wine rack (if only there could be more reasons).  With all these beautiful bottles of wine comes the lingering question if whether some of the higher end bottles we should drink right away, as in, “Thank you for this…now let’s pop the cork of this bad boy,” or be saved as in, “Thank you, we will save this lovely bottle for a special occasion.”

So before I reach the bottom of my wine rack and have delightfully devoured every single bottle, I thought it was high time I figured out how to tell the difference between a bottle meant to be enjoyed “young” (meaning: it was vinted with the intention to be poured right away) or when to cellar a bottle (meaning: allow that bottle to shine by giving it time).

My “age it or drink it” quest was not a lengthy process, thanks to the abundance of wine blogs and news sources available by dancing our fingers across the keyboard these days, I found a site that answered my questions (and that I will be revisiting for future wine inquiries as well), Wine Folly dot com.

In the article, Is it Worth Cellaring, by Justin Hammack, the mystery of whether a wine is destined to age well is easily explained. Hammack let’s his readers know right out of the gate that 99% of wines are NOT created to be aged, thanks to a handy-dandy infographic he shares which varieties are meant to be aged and for how long, as well as, he offers up the plain truth that a lofty price tag is usually attached to a bottle of wine worth aging, priced at $30 or more (Hammack, Winefolly.com). Seems easy enough, right?

If you find yourself in the same quandary as I was, pondering over aging or drinking that higher-end bottle of vino that Aunt Gertrude brought to your house warming, you need to read Hammacks’ article, Is it Worth Cellaring (here). Once you have solved the “age it or drink it” mystery of the gift bottle filled wine rack, you can finally get to drinking those alluring bottles that have been calling to you ever since they ended up in your wine-loving hands.

Reference:
“Is it Worth Cellaring?” Winefolly.com. 20 June 2012. Web. 26 January 2014

I wish this lived in my house! (amazon.com)

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Wine 17: Found Object Malbec


After a lovely dinner at Maria's Italian Kitchen, that was accompanied by a delicious Robert Mondavi California Pinot Noir, the Hubs and I decided to pop in to Trader Joe's and pick up a bottle of wine to complete the evening.  The Hubs is a lover of "real booze" as I call it, you know sipping bourbon or an aged whiskey, so the decision making involved picking a wine that would offer a slow burn.

As in typical Middle-Class Mama fashion, my eye immediately dropped to the bottom shelf, searching out any prices under ten dollars, and I zeroed in on a bottle of Found Object Argentinian Malbec priced at $3.99. A Malbec is a wine that typically brings forward a more robust flavor that I thought would fulfill the Hubs likes and considering some of the wines I've drank in my day, I knew I would be fine with almost anything.

I am a sucker for a cute label and the Found Object does not disappoint, with a drawing of a bell being rung by a disembodied hand and a quick quip on the reverse about the versatility of something that is taken for granted and the re-purposing of it to work in a new way, which is a thoughtful introduction to the wine (as well as, if the winery put some thought into the label, maybe they did the same with the wine).

I cut the foil, with my new nifty foil cutter, and twisted out the synthetic cork to pour the very deep purple wine into our waiting wine glasses. Robust is a very good description of The Found Object Malbec, the strength of the dark grape creates a flavor that is smokey and full of burn, but not past the point of pleasant.  Both the Hubs and I enjoyed the wine, it only lasted a glass or two before the bottle hit the recycle bin, which is usually a sign of a more than decent bottle of wine in our house.

Here we go, if you enjoy BIG flavor, go for The Found Object Malbec, it is priced right and it will expand your wine drinking tastes.  If you enjoy wine, but aren't looking to do the work of acquiring a taste for the wine before you can enjoy it, I would say pass on The Found Object Malbec, because it may take more than a glass or two to get past the headiness (if you find yourself in this second group of wine drinkers, stop by Costco and grab the Kirkland Cabernet Sauvignon from last weeks review).
Love the thumb grip on these!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Wineducation: Go Californian


You may follow what is trending on twitter, buy the latest “it” shoes from Nordstroms, or covet the newest must-have gadgets, but do you devote any time to what is trending in the world of wines?  

Admittedly, I am an on-again-off-again wine trend follower. I enjoy visiting Google News and typing  “wine” in the search queue to see what interesting tidbit of information pops up, but for the most part the job of mom-wife-wine drinker is a lot to handle, so the wine trends fall off my radar.
Maybe, a little light reading...



Although, inspired by the New Year, I decided to take a moment to see what is happening in the world of wines and was excited to read the prediction that California is going to be leading the trends in wine in 2014.

The San Francisco Gate posted an article, Cheers! Banner Year Forecast for California Wine, by Stacy Finz, that connects the many dots that give the impression of California’s upcoming wine winning year, such as: 

·      The grape harvest in California is expected to be the second largest in state history (3.9 million TONS).
·      The quality of the California grown grape is high, which means even better tasting wines.
·      With the large abundance of wine producing grapes comes the ability to produce MORE wine allowing for lower prices in the market.
(Finz, sfgate.com)

All this glorious California wine news makes me proud to be a budget-wine drinking SoCal Mama, as well as, it gives me a good direction to look while searching out my latest inexpensive wine finds.

Please take a moment and experience all the expected California wine glory in Stacy Finz's article at the San Francisco Gate here.


Reference: 
 “Cheers! Banner Year Forecast for California Wine,” Stacy Finz. San Francisco Gate. Web. 16 Jan. 2014.


Thursday, January 16, 2014

Wine 16: Kirkland Signature Cabernet Sauvignon


Yup, you read the title correctly, Kirkland Signature Cabernet Sauvignon, this weeks wine pick is a Costco private label product. I am sure you were aware of the fact that Costco produces Kirkland sweat socks, trail mix, and cheeses, but you may have missed their Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay wine offerings.
 
There are many reasons I chose the Kirkland Cabernet Sauvignon, one being that I trek to the Costco weekly. I know what your thinking, "Isn't the idea of buying in bulk that you don't have to go every week," and yes that is the concept, but it doesn't work that way in this milk guzzling household. Another reason for the Kirkland Cab choice is the price, yes my wine drinking amigos, the price is good: $7.99 for a 1.5 liter bottle (that's the BIG bottle ladies and gents).  After picking up the apple juice and cheese slices, I put that sizey Kirkland Cab in my ridiculously difficult to manage Costco cart and headed to the check out lanes.

I did have the concern, when picking up the Kirkland Signature Cabernet Sauvignon, that if the wine isn't necessarily my taste, I am going to be stuck with a rather large bottle of wine I am not interested in drinking (this is part of the reason I chose red over white wine, my fridge would not have been able to manage such a large addition to it's already over flowing shelves).  Then I remembered my husband is the human in-sink-erator and a bottle of red will not gather dust in our house, so I was making a safe purchase either way.

To read the label on the back of the Kirkland Cabernet is to take a trip down wine terminology lane, including such terms as: vibrant, linger, palate, and surrounded, the Kirkland writing team left no wine stone unturned.

Finally the time came to pop the Kirkland Cabernet's synthetic cork and get down to the good part of this whole tale, that is the drinking part.  My unskilled wine palate doesn't allow for first sip and "I am in" tasting, I need a second, and sometimes a third to be able to describe what's going on with the flavors of the wine.

This is how those sips went:
Sip one: "Okay, it's taste good."
Sip two: "It has a lot of spice at the end."
Sip three: "Actually, it's very smooth to start, maybe a little to smooth, it's bordering on boring."

And to be honest, that is the best way to describe the Kirkland Cabernet Sauvignon, "smooth bordering on boring," but that's not necessarily bad.  I like a kick in my wine, food, or even music, and the Kirkland is kick-less.  Although, if you enjoy smooth (i.e. milk chocolate, satin sheets, and Issac Hayes) the Kirkland Cab is perfect for you.  That's really what it comes down to, the Kirkland Cabernet Sauvignon is a safe wine choice for mixed wine sipping company and your budget, so give it a try.


 
Side note: I received one of these PacMan
style foil cutters for X'mas...love it!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Wineducation: Vinturi Wine Aerator


I have been an aerator from way back. I received the Vinturi Wine Aerator as a Christmas gift many years ago, and was hooked on the screeching addition to my wine pour ever since. I also tout the benefits of the Vinturi Wine Aerator to my fellow wine lovers because I truly believe it smooths out the rougher aspects of the flavor of wines (especially the budget-friendly fare that I talk about here).

photo credit: amazon.com
For those of you still pouring your glass of wine straight from the bottle, the lovers of the traditional or skeptics of the NEW must have gadget, I say broaden your horizons and the flavor of your wines with an aerator.  You don’t have to take my word for it, but you may want to take this article’s word for it, “How Do Vinturi Wine Aerators Work?” by Sarah Meadows, the technical writer and editor at The Wine’d Up blog.

photo credit: amazon.com
Meadows reminds her readers that exposing a wine to oxygen has a chemical reaction with the properties of a wine, these reactions enhance, downplay, and blend the complex flavors (Meadows, thewinedup.net).  Aerating a glass of wine is a quick way to expose the body of the wine to air, as opposed to decanting and allowing the wine to breathe prior to drinking, and really…who has time for all that. 

Take a moment to read the article, How Do Vinturi WineAerators Work, to gather all the not-so-complicated reasons that the author gives that suggest purchasing a Vinturi to allow for even further enjoyment while sipping a glass of wine.  Read the How Do Vinturi Wine Aerators Work here.

Reference:
“How Do Vinturi Wine Aerators Work?” Wine’d Up.net 12 January 2014, Web.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Wine 15: Green Fin Merlot

I think I enjoy the process of looking for wines almost as much as I do drinking them (I said almost, I am not a crazy person). Well, except for when the pesky wine clerk keeps asking me if I need help, which I never do, I simply enjoy the label art, reading the descriptions, and hopefully uncovering a new bottle that will blow my Uggs off.

This week, while picking up banana chips and spiced chai tea bags at the Trader Joe's, I did my normal walk through of the wine section and decided to give a bottle of Green Fin California Merlot a whirl.

The Green Fin Merlot grabbed my attention because it's label features classic California styling, a woody wagon with a long board on top and a relaxed sketched title, it feels very Venice Beach.  The price, of course, is always a deciding factor when choosing a wine to share with you, dear readers, and the Green Fin Merlot price is just right, $3.99.

The Green Fin bottle called to me day after day while laying horizontally in my dark wooden wine rack, "Drink me Mama," and yesterday I gave in and popped the cork. The wine pours as a deep, dark red, and has a great aroma of black currant, not exceptionally sweet, but more clean and fresh. The first sip offered a sweet start, a delightful middle, and a tastefully smokey finish. The second sip was even more enjoyable and that's what concreted the deal for me, I decided this Green Fin Merlot is a fantastic wine (and it's produced from organic grapes...I am losing my wine loving mind, how much better can the Green Fin get?).


I am very happy to be able to recommend a great wine to you, after a run of contemptible wines (see: Tisdale and/or Three Winemakers), and I was ecstatic to sip a wine that is worth sharing. On your next trip to the Trader Joe's, while grabbing gluten free pretzels and hummus dip, grab a bottle of Green Fin Merlot and enjoy.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Wineducation: Screw Cap Wines


A twist off cork does not a bad wine make,  this is a stance that I have taken for some time. While others make snide comments as I am twisting the cap off a wine bottle, “Wow, your breaking out the good stuff,” I smile with an understanding that they are not in the know. I don’t waste my time trying to change the minds of these particular people, they have cork on the brain and there is no changing their air leaking dry rotted wine sealing opinion, but others, those who minds are open to change and not stuck on the pomp and circumstance of the “pop” of the cork, I divulge the benefits of the twist off cap.
photo credit: totalwine.com

While reading the Google News headlines, I happened across an article that brings the twist off wine cap into the acceptable light of wine drinking, and it offers great information to support my side of the twist off cap debate.  The article, Cork Versus Screw Cap: Don’t Judge a Wine By How It’s Sealed, by Allison Aubrey, offers great reasons to not discredit a wine with a screw cap. Aubrey offers views from the senior winemaker at the popular and delicious Cupcake Vineyards and a Washington Post wine writer that include, screw caps seal out oxygen (important for crisp wine varieties), are better for wines that are not meant to be aged, and screw caps increase the ease in opening a bottle (wine three seconds faster, yes please) (Aubrey, npr.org). Basically, the article explains how a screw cap is not a sign of a cheaply made wine anymore, there are real scientific reasons that the drinker benefits from the screw cap, so now you can unscrew the cap off your next bottle of wine with impunity.

Do yourself a favor and read, Cork Versus Screw Cap, especially if you are interested in schooling those snarky know-it-all cork loving wine drinkers (or if you and a friend are enjoying a bottle with a twist cap and you want to offer a little wine lovers info). Click here for the Cork Versus Screw Cap article.

Reference:
“Cork Versus Screw Cap: Don’t Judge a Wine By How It’s Sealed.” Npr.org. 02 Jan 2014, Web.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Wine 14: Tisdale California Cabernet Sauvignon

Happy New Year my fellow wine drinkers!

Since the official onslaught of the holidays, which according to retail stores started before the sun set on Halloween, I have been attempting to keep my normal wine tasting schedule, but with parties where I was sipping delicious family vineyard wines and gifts of wine being offered, my wine drinking was kicked up a notch (above my review parameter of only bottles under $10).  Aware of my budget wine neglect I stepped out in our fabulous weather to make a special trip to the Pavilions (our version of Von's or Safeway) just to pick out inexpensive wines in hopes to find a few more delicious budget wines.

The inexpensive wines at my Pavilions give the concept of bottom-shelf a whole new meaning, the bottles in the three to ten dollar price range are about an inch off the shiny supermarket tile floor, and half of the bottles were hidden by display boxes of cases of much more pricey bottles of wine or champagne. So risking serious back injury, I spent my time perusing bent ninety degrees at the waste, and came up with a few different brands.

The bottle I offer for you this post is Tisdale California Cabernet Sauvignon, found almost on the floor of Pavilions, for the price of $2.99. The label on the back of Tisdale Cabernet Sauvignon describes the wines' flavors as ripe blackberries and plums with an "impressive finish." That's a pretty big expectation, "impressive," so I pour that carmine colored wine into my stemless wine glass, took in the Tisdale Cab's sweet berry aroma, and took a healthy sized sip.  Unfortunately, the flavor closely matches the sweetness of the aroma, with a taste that is more prune than plum, and this combination is not for me (or fans of a more dry, robust, or multi-layered wine).  I keep an open mind with the budget wines I choose, I know it is not easy to make something great and inexpensive, but the Tisdale Cabernet Sauvignon is missing the mark on too many different levels, which means I can't recommend it as a safe budget bet.

The price of the Tisdale California Cabernet Sauvignon is great but the taste, not so much.  There are too many other fantastic bottles of budget friendly wines out there (Don't under estimate Pacific Peak) to spend your hard earned dollar on.