Category Archives: Holidays

When to use a decanter

Poor decanters. Most of them sit on a lonely shelf, looking pretty, gathering dust, its owners occasionally looking at the empty container wondering, when am I supposed to use that thing, anyway? The answer? Often! You don’t need a 30-year-old wine full of sediment to use and enjoy a decanter. Even if you are drinking something as simple and youthful as Two Buck Chuck, a decanter sure does make it look nicer on the tadecanterble!

There are two main purposes of a decanter:

  1.  
    1. 1. To remove sediment from a wine
    2. 2. To aerate a wine

For the first, as a wine ages, it can throw a sediment, which collects at the bottom of the bottle. The decanter allows one to remove the wine from its sediment by slowly pouring the liquid into the decanter, keeping the sediment in the bottle.

How is this done? First, a day before you plan to drink an older bottle, gently stand it upright (it should be lying on its side in the cellar) and let it stand for a day. This way the sediment will slowly fall to the bottom of the bottle. Then, open the bottle and carefully and slowly pour the wine into the decanter. Towards the end, you will want to carefully watch and stop pouring once you get to the sediment. In formal restaurants, sommeliers use a candle under the bottle to help see the sediment. For your purposes, I’m sure any good lighting will do. Some older wines should be drunk right away while others benefit with some more cellar time.

You will most likely have many more opportunities to utilize a decanter for the second purpose – aerating a young wine. We are often eager to drink a wine right away, even when it is very young. To help it loosen up a bit, you need to let the wine breathe. Opening the wine does not qualify – that one inch diameter of wine that sees air thorough the bottle neck doesn’t do much ! Pouring the wine into a decanter allows much more of the wine’s surface area to see air, opening up a young, tight wine. The air helps the aromas and flavors open up, allowing you to enjoy more of the wine. This is the way to enjoy a young Bordeaux or California Cabernet – or any big wine for that matter.

So take the decanter off the shelf, and use it. It will enhance your wine drinking experience and always look pretty on the table.

Also, remember that a beautiful decanter makes a great gift for the wine lover – either to use, or just look pretty on the shelf.

Party Tricks You Need to Know

My rule in the kitchen? Stay ahead of the mess. It is also is a good way to go through life in general and certainly a way to keep your head above water at parties. A few tips on how to stay ahead of the chaos when it comes to holiday parties.

Bathtub ice bucket – if you have a lot of wine (bubbly, whites) to chill but no good ice bucket, use your bathtub! Throw in a few bags of ice and some water and you have a built in ice bucket. Just try to use a bathroom that is not also for the guests!

Screw cap wines or pre-open the bottles – There are three people looking for wine to pour and only empty bottles and no one can find the wine key. This is when I love screw cap wines. No wasting time looking for a corkscrew or cutting yourself on foil while you hastily open the bottle. If you do have cork-finished wines, open a good amount of them before the party so that all you have to do is pull out the cork and pour. There should never be a line for wine.

Wash your glassware in the morning – Perhaps this goes against the “stay ahead of the mess” rule, but to preserve more stems and break less bowls, wait till you have a clear head and lots of patience and room to wash those glasses. Feel free to rinse them that evening, but when it comes to the good wash, save them all for morning. I promise you less casualties.

How much wine do you need for a party?

The rule of thumb when serving wine is to have a half bottle per person. But that can certainly vary depending on a few variables.

You will want ¾ a bottle or a full bottle per person if:

- Wine is the only alcoholic beverage being served

- The party/gathering is over three hours

- Your friends are big drinkers! Don’t want to run out with a crowd like that…

You can account for less if:

- There are multiple types of alcoholic beverages being served

- You are sure of your guests’ preferences and some of them are not for wine.

The cardinal rule is not to run out, so best buy more, not less, and buy what you like so that if you are stuck with leftovers, you’ll enjoy drinking them through the holidays!

Personality Gift Guide: what style of wine are you?

grapes Welcome to December! To kick off this festive month, we’ve decided to give you a little quiz to find out what wine style of wine you are. Fresh & fruity? Earthy & spicy? Take our quiz below to find out!

When traveling, you like to

a. Plan everything in advance, with a complete itinerary in hand and each day having a specific schedule, with little wiggle room.

b. Plan most of the trip out, booking rooms and flights and car rentals, making a list of things you’d like to see and do while you are there, though no specific schedule.

c. Kind of play it all by ear. You book the flights and maybe hotels, but plan to book most things while you’re there depending on what is most popular at the time.

d. Buy a ticket or rent a car last minute to get to your destination, bring a tent as you love to camp everywhere you go and plan on staying in hostels and other cool places.

When picking out a restaurant for the evening, you prefer one that

a. Has a menu and wine list online so that you can plan what you’ll order – and you wont’ go without a reservation

b. Has been acclaimed and written up by critics and is a style of food that you like. Hopefully they have a reservation, but if not, you will walk in for a table if they have a walk in policy.

c. Pick a place from the most recent write up in your local paper or magazine and go there.

d. The newest ethnic restaurant

If you had an extra two hours to do whatever you wished, you would

a. Clean or organize

b. Exercise or go walking

c. Read the newest book or see the newest movie

d. Wander around in a new neighborhood or park

Your favorite type of movies are:

a. Classics

b. Dramas and comedies

c. Independent Films

d. Documentaries

Your friends see you as:

a. Fastidious and meticulous in all that you do

b. You have your opinions, but are generally easy-going when it comes to most things

c. Adventurous but down-to-earth as well

d. Completely carefree

If you answered:

Mostly A – you are Light and Crisp – You like a plan and tend to have things in order. Try Sauvignon Blanc or Italian white wine.

Mostly B – you are Smooth and Supple – You like to go with the flow and enjoy life. Not everything must be perfect, but chaos is not your thing, either. Try some Australian Shiraz or red Rhone Blends.

Mostly C – you are Fresh and Fruity – you like to keep it fresh – new things, new places, a bit of adventure, but also with your feet firmly on the ground. Try some good fresh and light Barbera or Pinot Noir.

Mostly D – you are Earthy and Spicy – You like to mix it up a bit – adventurous and curious, you’re out exploring the world discovering your surroundings. Try Carmenere or Spanish reds.

Try some of these new wines from www.wine.com and use code 1CENT on check out now through midnight December 2, 2009 for free (or 1 cent) shipping on any order $99 or more!

Perfect Party Picklist

As we offer you the Cyber Monday deal of 1 cent shipping on $49 or more (enter code: CYBERMON), we thought we’d give you an idea of wines to buy with that great deal! Parties coming up this month? Gifts you need to stock up on? The list below can help.

If you’re in party mode, figuring out what wine to serve can be stressful. You could randomly pick a bunch of wines at the price point you’re looking for and hope everyone likes them, or you could choose some wines from the picklist below, where I highlight some delicious crowd pleasing wines in each price point. From the intimate dinner party to the big bash, pick and choose to make your perfect party case. Your guests will thank you!

Bubbles!

Under $20ariabrut
Segura Viudas Aria Brut – a great alternative to Cristalino, this bottle is beautiful and the wine inside is excellent. Crisp and lingering. Great party bubbly for $11.
Roederer Estate Brut- From the Champagne house of the same name, this is classic sparkling wine from Anderson Valley, California. At under $20, it tastes like a  much higher price tag.

Under $30
Jansz Premium Cuvee Rose – always need a bit of pink! This pink sparkler from Australia is a great wine under $30.

Under $40
Piper Heidsieck – my go-to NV Champagne. This is a lovely mediu m-bodied bubbly for all palates. About $40

Whites

Under $20
Perrin Cotes du Rhone Blanc – Everyone seems to love this wine (including me!). It has great balance, is food-friendly and also delicious on its own. About $11. yalumba y
Yalumba Y Series Great deals on a range of varietals, from Riesling to Viognier to Unwooded Chardonnay. They are usually between $10 and $15 and are perfect party wines.

 

cliff lede sb

Under $30
Cliff Lede Sauvignon Blanc – one of my favorite California Sauvignon Blancs, this wine is deliciously balanced and complex. A great food wine. A great all-around wine. About $22.

Under $40
Two Chardonnays that top my list – Landmark Overlook and Argyle Nuthouse – these are classy Chardonnays, the Landmark a bit more rich and creamy while the Argyle is slightly more restrained. Both have balance and complexity and length. Great with a pasta or poultry dish with a nice cream-based sauce, or for any Chardonnay lover.

Reds

Under $20
 Club Claret Rouge 2008 – great red Bordeaux wine at $12.99 a bottle. It is a perfect food wine for those dinner parties – not too heavy or dense. Uplifting on the palate. A very cool video on the wines’ detail page to tell you more!
Louis Martini ’07 Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon – $15 – this wine is the opposite of the Club Claret – rich and ripe, with sweet tannins and full-body. This is a party wine!

 

Under $30
souther right pinotageSouthern Right Pinotage – I love this wine because it’s different, but still delicious. Spicy but smooth, not lacking in fruit, but with a very cool smoky quality, typical of South African reds. Definitely serve with some food – smoky and meaty would be ideal.

Under $40
J Russian River Pinot Noir 2006 – Ripe and smooth, this is a delicious Pinot Noir to sip throughout the night – with or without food. A sure crowd-pleaser.