Category Archives: Wine Recommendations

Riesling love

Each country has a different way of indicating sweetness levels in wines. Because everything is strictly codified and regulated there, German wines are very easy to learn. On the label, they must have the region where the grapes are grown, the variety, the quality level, and in most cases the sweetness level.  All you need now is a Rosetta stone to crack the code. The most famous German varietal is Riesling, so here is a guide to sweetness levels with that variety in mind.

A QbA wine or Qualitätswein bestimmter Anbaugebiete (isn’t that a mouthful to say!) is the most basic of the 2 major categories of German wines. QbA wines can be grown in one of 13 different regions and the region must be stated clearly on the label. They must use grape varieties that are on an approved list. They must have a minimum alcohol content that is achieved, and they are what most people would call an “off dry” sugar level. For example, Ernst Loosen is considered to be one of the best winemakers in Germany, so his QbA wine is a lot higher quality than the average wine of that category. While the Dr. Loosen Dr. L Estate QbA 2012 is fruity, there is plenty of acidity in the wine to balance it out and make it more appropriate to serve with savory items and not dessert. I love this wine with cheese or roast chicken.

The next level up in German wines is called QmP (Qualitätswein mit Prädikat). These wines have many of the same laws about regions and varieties. In addition, the sweetness levels of the wines are also regulated and must fall within a range that is specified for each level. From driest to sweetest they are Kabinett, Spatlese, Auslese, Berenauslese, and Trockenberenauslese. In special years, grapes that achieve the Bereneauslese or sweeter level and are left to freeze on the vine create a very unique wine called an Eiswein. For the last several years, many German wineries are creating dry or “Trocken” wines. Many of these wines started life with an Auslese level of sugar, but are then fermented to dryness. A great example of a Kabinett level wine is Dr. Loosen Blue Slate Estate Kabinett 2012. It is a blend of grapes from the most famous villages in the Mosel: Graach, Bernkastel, and Wehlen. The bright apple fruit is balanced by flinty, minerally notes and a long crisp finish. I love this wine with grilled fish such as trout or salmon.

Unfortunately, in the United States, there is no special system to rate the sweetness levels in wines, so we have to rely on the winemaker’s description, a recommendation, or tasting the Riesling. Ernst Loosen also makes a high quality Riesling in Washington called Eroica. The Eroica Riesling 2012 is a very high quality wine that has more sweetness than his QbA or Kabinett wines. I love this wine with cheeses or, for an entrée, grilled pork chops with an apple and cornbread stuffing. The Eroica Gold Riesling 2012 is definitely a dessert level wine, which would be perfect with an apple or peach cobbler.

I hope you give Riesling a try. It is a noble grape variety that is very versatile where the wines can be crisp and refreshing to rich and sweet. Trying the wines from a great winemaker like Ernst Loosen is an easy way to learn about Riesling and the sweetness levels in wine. Go ahead and have an adventure tonight with a new wine!

 

Goulish wines for Halloween

Halloween is fast approaching (as in 3 days from now!). The evening is full of spooky revelry for both kids and adults. In my neighborhood, after the kiddos are in bed and the masses have subsided, the adults get together for their own version of candy – wine & cocktails! This is a fun time to choose wines for their label, and we have some spooky – and delicious – picks.

velvetdevil

The Velvet Devil Merlot - with a pitch fork and everything! From eccentric winemaker, Charles Smith, this is a supple red from Washington State.

Ghost Pines -  The winery produces Chardonnay,  Cabernet Sauvignon and a Red Blend. The wines are smooth and supple, with lots of ripe fruit.

Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo - “Cellar of the devil” – got to have these wines on hand for any Halloween festivities as they are great value and actually named for a haunted cellar!

Razor’s Edge – Choose from Shiraz or Shiraz-Grenache. The label harks back to movies with Freddy Kruger or Jason from “Halloween.” What’s inside is that ripe Aussie fruit style – easy drinking and good for watching the kiddos go door-to-door.

Perfect Wines for Trying Parenting Times

siblingsWe posted this through our friends at skinnyscoop.com and received a fantastic response! In honor of Mother’s Day, we though we’d re-post. Cheers!

 

The kids won’t. Stop. Fighting.
WINE: Leeuwin Estate Siblings Sauvignon Blanc Semillon
They may not be able to partake with you, but perhaps you can drink in sibling harmony with Leeuwin Estate’s Siblings. A delicious white that may give you strength to referee fighting in the background.

Not one child will fess up to breaking the vase in the living room
WINE: Innocent Bystander Pinot Noir
Someone had to do it, but no one wants the blame… In honor of your childrens’ ability to sidestep taking responsibility, sip on Innocent Bystander’s Pinot Noir (they also many a delicious Pinot Gris).

You have to give your kid candy to even take a bath/nap/get out the door
WINE: Decoy wines by Duckhorn
Some people call it a bribe, we call it a decoy. After all, aren’t we just distracting our child to get them to do something else? Is it really so wrong… ?

Both you and your spouse forget to pick up the kids at school
WINE: Veramonte Ritual Pinot Noir
No kids like to be forgotten at school, but it certainly happens due to miscommuncation at home! Get into a routine and ritual and sip on Veramonte’s Ritual Pinot Noir. Perhaps a few glasses of this will help you forget that you forgot.

Come home to find your husband has let the kids run amok
WINE: Tait “The Ball Buster” Shriaz
Yep, sometimes you’ve got to bust some balls, especially when you come home to a house in chaos. Sip on the “Ball Buster” Shiraz while you knock some sense into your family.

Toddler has a meltdown in grocery store (or other public place)
WINE: Domaine Serene Evenstad Reserve Pinot Noir (or any of their Pinot Noir)
You leave your cart abandoned in a random aisle as you carry your kicking and screaming 2-year-old out of the store. Time to break out the good stuff. Sip on Domaine Serene Pinot Noir to help melt away the stress.

You’re called into school to discuss your child’s “behavior” issues
WINE: L’Ecole 41 wines
You may be dreading that conference at school, but pop open another schoolhouse treat from L’Ecole Winery in Washington State. Their selection is top-notch and will help you focus less on the “other” school you have to see.

A REALLY bad day of potty training
WINE: Clean Slate Riesling
You don’t want to even remember what you cleaned up that day – you just want to start over. Start a clean slate with this crisp and refreshing dry Riesling.

Club 89

Here’s a re-post of one of our favorites!

90UNDER20_worldsbest_167x110One of the most popular sections on Wine.com is our 90 under 20 list, where we feature wines that are rated 90 points or higher by one of the 10 publications we use for ratings, and priced under $20. We like to call it the list where quality meets value. However, as much as our customers love this list, we often wonder what to do to tout the value and delicious properties of wines rated 89 points, just one point under that magical 90. I mean, it is just one point, after all. But it makes all the difference. A paper that gets an 89 grade is only a B+ while one with 90 gets an A-. With just one point difference, the scoring drastically changes.

But with wine, this is not the case. In most publications, the 86 – 89 score range is described as good, very good, excellent and highly recommended. Heck, I’ll take that for a great everyday wine! Especially at a great price. In fact, I’d personally prefer a wine with multiple 88 and 89 scores than a wine with just one 90 point score. Matt Kramer agrees with me (or perhaps I agree with him, as he has a much more experienced wine history than I) in this article where he says:

“The “gimme a 90-point wine” approach offers, I freely admit, the greatest good-wine-to-least-effort ratio. But you might be surprised to learn that even the folks who hand out points know they’re only one path to wine bliss. (I’m an 88-point buyer myself, as the higher up the point scale you go, the more “drama in the glass” you’re likely to get-and I don’t always want quite so much drama with my dinner.)”

More recently, he wrote an article called “The Seven Habits of Highly Ineffective Wine People,” where he listed Habit #5 as: Never buy anything with a score lower than 90 points. He says, “Wine consumers of the world, you know you’re doing this, so ‘fess up. Really, it’s ridiculous. You can fuss about the rightness or wrongness of scoring wines, but the fetishistic fussiness of the 90-point barrier has become absurd. Effectively, it creates a 10-point scale, which doesn’t leave a lot of leeway, does it?

My own experience is that the best deals (and often the best wines for my palate) are those that get 86 to 88 points. There’s nothing magical about 90 points. If you’re one of those “90 points or nothing” sorts, let me give it to you straight: You’re missing out on some great wines and some amazing values.”

Well said Mr. Kramer, as always.

Some wines are underrated – Cabernet Franc, Chenin Blanc and 89 pointers. That’s just my opinion, but I ask you to taste for yourself. Stock up on some 89 and even 88 pointers for your everyday drinking wines and see if you don’t find some amazing winners. You’ll join Club 89 before you know it.

Celebrities & Wine

They say to make a small fortune in wine, you must start with a large one. So it makes sense that celebrities buy and own wineries.  We’ve been getting news across the board about celebrity wines, and we’ve been stocking up on a few as they become available. Most recently, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt released their Miraval rose, produced on their own property in France and crafted by the Perrin family of Beaucastel fame. Given the serious and artisan nature of their acting, one can hope that they have put the same passion behind their wine. We encourage you to try some, as well as others from your favorite celebrities!

Miraval Rose: On pre-sale for now, this beautiful bottle hails from the Provence estate recently purchased by the Jolie-Pitt clan. They’re not messing around. With help from the Rhone-based Perrin family, proprietors of Chateau Beaucastel, the Jolie-Pitts are using the best of the region to release this rose, showcasing a beautiful package and what we hope to be a delicious wine.

Barrymore Pinot Grigio: This is a wine produced by Drew Barrymore. Seems that Drew was inspired by the journey wine takes – from grape to bottle – and wanted to create a wine that reflected her taste and style – fresh, dynamic, fun. Well, we agree, wine IS all about the journey and we think Drew is definitely all those things. The wine is from the northeast corner of Italy, and the label is done by Shepard Fairey, the same artist behind the Obama “Hope” poster.

Dreaming Tree: Dave Matthews is not only a talented crooner, but also a lover of wine. His Dreaming Tree label makes three wines from the North Coast – a Chardonnay, a Cabernet and a red blend. Give them a try while listening to some mellow music…

Top Chef Quickfire: A line of wines created by the Top Chef enterprise. They produce Zinfandel,  Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Grigio.