All posts by Gwendolyn

Tartrates in Wine

The definition of a tartrate (according to dictionary.com) is, “a salt or ester of tartaric acid.” But in the wine world, we know tartrates as “those little pieces at the bottom of your bottle that look like glass shards.”

tartrates2For those not familiar with tartrate crystals, seeing them at the bottom of your wine bottle or wine glass could cause alarm. But not to fret, tartrate crystals are a natural occurring substance in some wines and are totally harmless.

How do tartrate crystals form?
When tartaric acid and potassium combine under very cold temperatures, they create a compound known as potassium bitartrate, which is basically a salt. Typically this happens during fermentation and the crystals attach themselves to the fermentation vessel walls, not in the wine.  But in some wines, more complex ones, the crystals may form at a later state, such as in the wine bottle.

Do all wines have tartrates?
Nope. There is a method called “cold stabilization” that can separates the tartrates from the wine and then the wine is filtered to remove them. Actually, higher end wines are more likely to have tartrates since many are not fined or filtered in order to preserve the nuances and complexity of the wine. Though they are found in both red and white wines, they are typically more noticeable  in white wines.

So what do I do with them? 
Most tartrates settle to the bottom of the bottle, so unless you have the last glass, you’re unlikely to get any. But you can certainly pour the wine through a fine mesh sieve to remove them should they be nuisance. Otherwise, put them to good use as salt on your meal :)

 

Gérard Bertrand: Story behind the Wine

Gerard Bertrand@Wine.com_5100_BlogIt’s always exciting to meet the actual human who bears the name of a winery, particularly one that has become a household name. In this case, it was Gérard Bertrand. This may not be a household name in every house, but it is in mine. Our affinity for Rhone wines certainly extends to the rest of Southern France, where there is a unique style and value to be found. Gérard Bertrand wines combine just that: style & value.

The Story
Bertrand is tall, so tall that it has earned him the nickname, le Grand. Now nearing 50, Bertrand’s father got him started in the winery and cellar at age 10, allowing him to claim nearly 4 decades of experience. And that experience has gotten him far! The line of Gérard Bertrand wines includes dry and sweet; sparkling and still; red, white and rose… It includes values and collectibles and just about everything in between. He speaks passionately about his wine, and even more so about where his wine comes from: the South of France. Though that particular region needs little help to sell its virtues, Bertrand’s goal is not to sell people on the south of France, but rather to show people that the South of France is unique and distinct in it’s terroir, it’s wines and it’s culture. His wine is meant to represent the lifestyle and soul of the region.

Map Courtesy of: Gérard Bertrand
Map Courtesy of: Gérard Bertrand

 

The Wines
I’ve drunk the wines plenty of times before, but I’ve never had a chance to have them side-by-side as we did with Monsieur Bertrand. I admit that I would typically clump together Fitou, Minervois and Corbieres under $20 when describing a style. But a delightful surprise came in tasting the wines and seeing a distinct difference. One offers lots of ripe berry fruit, another is all about dried cherries and dark chocolate. Not to mention they have a sparkling wine that is a Thomas Jefferson Cuvee (hello UVa alums! this is for you!), and a rose called “Sauvageonne,” which translates to “wild woman.” Seriously, that’s a rose. In addition, Bertrand has just launched the first vintage of Clos d’Ora, what he terms the first “grand cru” of the South of France. We had a chance to taste this wine and I can attest, it’s a damn good wine.  Better than any other I’ve had from the Languedoc/Roussillon.

Biodynamic
For 25 years Bertrand has been following and working towards biodynamic estate wines. Many are, many are on their way, but be assured that his wines are doing their part in reflecting the earth and terroir from which they come.

The Winery
Visit this place. It’s gorgeous! And they have a jazz fest every summer.

Photo Courtesy of: Gérard Bertrand
Photo Courtesy of: Gérard Bertrand

 

Whether you prefer fruit bombs, a load of earth & spice, or easy-drinking picnic wine, you will find a wine from the Gérard Bertrand assortment. You can’t be in the south of France, but that does not mean you cannot drink like you are! Cheers!

 

Women in Wine: Joy Sterling

Joy Sterling, the beautiful mind and soul currently running Iron Horse Vineyards, is one of our favorite women in wine. Her parents, Barry and Audrey Sterling, built this amazing property and winery decades ago, and it continues to flourish under Joy’s leadership.

Name: Joy Sterling

Role/Position: Partner/CEO of Iron Horse Vineyards

How did you get into wine? Thanks to my family.

What is your favorite part about working in the wine industry?  The people! The wine world is wonderfully generous. Iron Horse is my passport. It takes me to many exciting places and is my introduction. Everyone is fascinated about wine. If you want to make friends, bring the wine. I also love that we are fundamentally farmers. That’s what keep us real.

Who is your role model?  My mother, Audrey Sterling, who co-founded Iron Horse with my father, Barry Sterling. She is so elegant, gracious, strong, bold and accomplished, warm and welcoming, fun and funny. Every day, I look in the mirror and wish that I will “grow up” to be just like her.

What is your best wine story?  One of my favorites dates back to the 1960s when my parents, my brother and I were living in Paris. My father became a Chevallier du Tastevin and at a black tie dinner at Taillevent, he shocked the French by winning the blind tasting. It was written up in The Herald Tribune. It was “news” that an American could be so knowledgeable and discerning. That was a turning point, when my parents first started thinking, “Hmm, this is something we could possibly do.”

Favorite Restaurant:  I can’t name just one. I have so many!

Favorite wine region to visit:  We are so lucky. We are so beautifully welcomed all over the world.

Favorite wine (other than yours) to drink:  I admit it. I have a cellar palate. If I had my druthers, I would only drink bubbles. I am lovingly known in my family as a bubble head. And I have to say, I think Iron Horse sits at the same table as the best in the world.

Advice for women going into the wine industry?  Dive right in. The wine world is a real meritocracy. You can start in a tasting room and become president of a winery. There is a long history of women who have succeeded in wine … especially in Champagne. Think of all those widows.

Iron Horse Vineyards

 

 

Women in Wine: Alisa Jacobson

Welcome to the Wine.com Women in Wine Series! Each week this month we will feature a woman in the wine industry and a bit more about her!

First, Alisa Jacobson, winemaker at Joel Gott Wines, shares her remarks.

LIsaJacobsonName: Alisa Jacobson

Role/Position: Winemaker, Joel Gott Wines

How did you get into wine?  I grew up in Agriculture and enjoyed the farming lifestyle

What is your favorite part about working in the wine industry?  I like how every day is different due to the seasonal aspect of the industry

Who is your role model?  Sarah and Joel Gott have been my mentors for 14 years now – I have learned a lot from both of them.

Favorite Restaurant:  Cook in St Helena

Favorite wine region to visit:  The Rhone region of France

Favorite wine (other than yours) to drink:  Sancerre in the Summer, Rosé in the spring, Grenache in the Winter and Beer during harvest!

Advice for women going into the wine industry?   Its important to share your opinion and have confidence in your abilities.

National Drink Wine Day: who’s drinking wine?

Yes, of course EVERY day is Drink Wine Day, we know this, but just like every day should be mother’s day, or father’s day, or be nice to people day, we do have that ONE day to officially celebrate drinking wine. And that date is February 18th.

Here at Wine.com, we find it slightly coincidental that National Drink Wine Day should fall on the birthday of Wine.com’s founder. Fate? Perhaps.

So how much wine are we drinking when it’s not drink wine day? How about some fun stats (courtesy of the Wine Market Council):

– In 2014, 302 million cases of wine were consumed in the U.S.

– 40%  of Americans drink wine

– 30% of them drink wine more than once a week

– That 30% drinks over 80% of the wine consumed in the US

So here’s to the 30% of the 40% who drink the 80% – I think we all deserve a toast! Cheers :)