Category Archives: Wine Tips

Aussie Wines Rocking My World

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What do we really know about Australia and the wines made there? Maybe less than we should! Not only is Australia a huge country (sixth largest in the world) but it’s also the source of some of the world’s most spectacular wines. If you still equate the country with large-production value Shiraz and not much else, it’s time to take a closer look.

I got a full immersion into the wide variety of Australian wines when I judged in the Sydney International Wine Competition in 2012. As one of three Americans, I was treated to an Australian wine education by the Aussies, Kiwis and Brits. I was just a bit surprised by the complex methods used at this judging. The organizers brought in a top level chef to create dishes to match the categories. We were asked to write complete thoughts as well as recordings of our findings on tape.  In addition to participating in an incredible  judging event, we enjoyed wines from the cellars of many of the participating judges.

In the last month I’ve had two exciting Australian wine encounters that rocked my world. First, Michael Twelftree – Proprietor & Managing Director of Two Hands Wines – visited the Wine.com offices. Listening to him as we tasted his wines was simply amazing. The intensity and passion he conveyed made the tasting an experience of a lifetime. I learned that Twelftree was very adamant about producing wines of integrity and elegance in order  to shed the preconception that Aussie wines are mostly big and brawny. Three weeks later, I attended a presentation by Sue Hodder – Senior Winemaker of Wynns Coonwarra Estates – and found the wines equally remarkable; they were wonderfully rich and well-balanced. Both winemakers had succeeded in convincing me that their country produces truly world class wines.

While Shiraz remains high on my charts of Australian wines, I am taking a new path and seriously looking at Cabernet Sauvignons. Two of my current favorites are the super-rich 2012 Two Hands Sexy Beast and the elegant yet persistent 2012 Wynns Coonawarra Estate Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon. Try either of these wines with a juicy steak and prepare to have your world rocked by Australia too!

Happy Bastille Day: Classic Bordeaux

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People often have the wrong idea of Bordeaux. While the names of Latour, Margaux and Pétrus dance so gracefully off of our collective tongues, these are not the wines that “regular” folks drink. Those of us who are more value drinkers are more in tuned with Bordeaux AOC, Bordeaux Superiore and Bordeaux Rosé (pink has risen up to the top of consumer awareness and is now being sought out).

In a recent trip to Bordeaux, those are the wines that I drank; never did one glass of the “big” name classifieds crossed my lips. Not that I would not have enjoyed a glass of Lafite, instead I ended up drinking what most everyone enjoys on a day-to-day basis and guess what? There was no less enjoyment to be found; the everyday Bordeaux took care of my needs quite nicely.

So what should we be drinking in everyday Bordeaux? Château Bonnet Blanc has been one of Bordeaux’s top white wines for more than a decade. Vintage after vintage, the wine shows pure fruit and crisp acidity as it finishes with a food pairing bite. The Château Bonnet Rosé is another winner, showing a shading of salmon and pink in its color; crisp and bright, the wine asks for a lightly grilled salmon. On the red side, I recommend the 2011 Domaines Baron Rothschild Reserve Speciale Rouge. The wine is straight-forward and delightfully balanced; perfect with grilled hamburgers.

Let us celebrate Bastille Day and liberate Bordeaux from the shackles of its high priced profile. Yes, the classifieds (1st to 5th growth) are wonderful, but mainstream Bordeaux values provide an everyday enjoyment that we can afford.

A serious pink that is a lot of fun!

11_09_13 Billecart-Salmon@Aleander's_640_BlogIn the world of pink (wines) no one can deny that Billecart-Salmon Champagne Rose is one of the kings of the wine world. Elegant, stylish and more fun, this serious wine is one of the world’s most renowned Champagnes. Made from Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir, the winery actually positions this as a red wine. So don’t call it pink to their face, you may be the one who ends up blushing. An incredible food-pairing wine, I have often chosen this one with sashimi (yellow tail, red tuna, tuna belly…way yum).

The house of Billecart-Salmon goes back seven generations and is situated in the charming village of Mareuil-sur-Ay. Currently represented by the 6th generation, Francois and Antoine Roland-Billecart, this independent house seems to be in excellent hands. Chief winemaker, Francois Domi has been at the helm for nearly 30 years; the man has a great track record. Denis Blee, Director of the vineyard, has 20 years under his belt. With such a great production team, the vines cared for and respected. #champage #champagnerose #Billecartsalmon

Preparing Wine for Big Holiday Gatherings

Following up from our post from Omaha Steaks blog post share, we wanted to share some of our own wine tips for your holiday gatherings!

2 glasses- Have enough wine! The cardinal rule is never run out of wine, so always get a bit more than you expect to use. Make sure you get something you enjoy so that you can continue to drink the leftover bottles well after the party – my parents are still drinking the awesome sparkling wine we served at my sister’s wedding last year because we over-bought. But unlike ordering too many appetizers, the wine never goes bad, and you won’t hear them complain!
– Pre-chill. Make sure those bubbles and whites are well chilled before the event. Though ice buckets can be useful and fast, they can also be messy. If everything is well chilled, the bottles can be out a bit in room temperature and not get too warm, without you having to soak them.
– Pre-open. Here’s where I love screw cap wines - they are perfect for parties. For cork closures, make sure you open a few (especially for large gatherings) so you don’t have to take time away from checking on any food cooking.
– Make sure you have enough glassware, and make sure it’s clean! pre-count, make sure you have enough, and for large gatherings, have some wine charms to get you through the evening.
– Finally, don’t indulge too much. Hosts should be relaxed, but not too much so!

What Shizuku teaches us about wine

Guest Post from Cynette Montoya:

Loosely translated, “Les Gouttes de Dieu” is French for “Drops of God.” We all know how the French and their country are known for great food and amazing wine. But interestingly enough, it’s a Japanese manga (comic) that has opened a whole new world to wine appreciation, taking inspiration from French origins. Kami no Shizuku is a New York Times Best Selling Japanese manga series revolving around wine.

Perhaps the biggest attraction of the manga is how Shizuku Kanzaki, the protagonist, describes the growth of his relationship with wine. His father was a world-famous wine critic but Shizuku is the opposite. At first, he wanted nothing to do with wine to the point of loathing it. As the series progresses, we find him opening himself up to the world of wine and wine cellars and seeing through his father’s eyes just how wonderful and enigmatic that world is.

A taste of life…

Each episode showcases Shizuku’s uncanny abilities to describe his experiences from his strong sense of taste and smell as he competes with another famed connoisseur for his father’s fortune by uncovering the “Twelve Apostles.” But what’s brilliant about this seemingly simple series is how Shizuku describes his feelings for each and every new wine he tastes as he searches for the right match for the Twelve Apostles. At one point, he muses that we never realize how special wine actually is and how so much effort is put into manufacturing wine to suit even the most complicated of situations.

Wine SwirlTaking a cue from that line, we’ve also come to realize just how significant a role wine plays in our lives, especially when we celebrate special occasions. We choose specific wines to go with even just lunch or dinner or when we engage in intimate get-togethers with friends and loved ones. Also, we try to find the most compatible pairing of wine and food to bring out the best flavors in both. In a sense, wine defines not just our activities but also our honest feelings towards life itself. That’s why there are times when Reds seem to be the best choice for our palate or moments when only Whites can really tickle our taste buds.

In emphasizing the value of wine, Shizuku’s father made mention in more than just a few episodes of wine storage and how essential it was in bringing out the finest flavors. Indeed, maintaining the ideal wine storage conditions is a critical task because wine breathes through the cork and ages in the process. But you would want your wines to age at an elegant pace and achieve the peak of taste conditions. Only then would you or anyone else be really able to appreciate and savor the “feelings” conveyed by each bottle you store.

…comes from the bottle!

FCustom Wine Cellaror this reason, the creation of wine cellars has become quite a detailed project. There are several essential aspects to consider, from the maintenance of the ideal wine cellar temperature from 55-58 degrees down to humidity levels at 55-75 degrees. Picking out the most suitable wine refrigeration system is also another consideration as well as building a wine racking system that would not just “store” your collection but keep them in secure and safety storage.

Indeed, because wine is most sensitive to environmental changes which can affect the aging process, even the littlest details matter. An example of this would be the choice of materials you pick for your wood wine racks and other wine cellar furniture. You would need to go with a wood choice that is durable enough to withstand decades of wine storage without falling prey to rot, mildew, decay, and insects and flexible enough to create the right configurations for your wine racking system.

Looking at everything from another angle, it’s quite obvious that a relationship with wine is an evolving one. Your love and appreciation for wine can only deepen as your knowledge and understanding of it also matures with time, along with the wine that matures in your wine cellars. And yes, we can grow to love wine even more, especially when we care enough to preserve its best flavors. Keep in mind that the taste of wine can be equated to one’s honest feelings. You can never hide or deny a good wine, a great wine, just as you cannot conceal a bitter one. Love wine and enjoy life’s tastes to the fullest!

Author: Cynette Montoya is a wine storage writer for Wine Cellar Innovations. She enjoys talking about style, design, and customizing wine cellars . Check out her fun and upbeat articles in the Wine Cellar Innovations Blog on wine cellar transformations.  You can follow them on Twitter and Facebook.