Storing Wine Properly

bubble bottlesI just heard a story from someone who had to dump a bottle 1988 vintage Champagne because it had been stored in a regular fridge for almost two years. While that may seem like a harmless thing to do – you are supposed to keep wine cool while you store it after all – one very important component is missing – humidity! To keep food fresh, you need a dry environment. To keep wine fresh, you need a humid one. Humidity prevents the cork from drying. This is why you buy a wine fridge for your wine and a regular fridge for the food.

For the average consumer, most wines purchased will be drunk within a month, often within 24 hours. In this short amount of storage time you should not worry too much about where you put that bottle. But do if it’s going to be sitting somewhere for more than a day, keep these storage tips in mind.

– Don’t keep it over the oven or stove, in a hot car, in direct sunlight or anywhere else where it could be “cooked.” 
– Don’t keep wine in the fridge for over a week or two because of that humidity factor.
– Store wines on their side to keep the cork wet. Screw cap wines can be stored upright or on their side, but be careful that you don’t dent the cap – that could break the seal and let in air.

If you are planning to store wine longer than a month or two, you may need a more controlled storage environment. The same tips above apply, but you may try to make sure the wine hangs out in an area with regulated temperature – it’s not necessarily the temperature that can ruin a wine, but the swings in temperature, so even if it’s not perfect storage temps, staying constant is important. A dark closet in a basement would be good –no sunlight or drastic temperature changes and possibly a bit of humidity to help as well!

For super age-worth wines – invest in a fridge. There are small ones out there that will do the trick and not break the bank.

Share some of your storage tips, mishaps or questions with us!

What We’re Drinking | Kenwood Russian River Pinot Noir 2006

KenwoodWe brought two bottles of Pinot Noir to a dinner last weekend. One was a high-end Central Coast Pinot coming from Gary’s Vineyard. The other was the Kenwood Russian River Pinot 2006. The former was about $50 while the Kenwood rang in at $20. As we do at most dinner parties, you open the heavy-hitter first, then move on to the back up. Sure, everyone loved the delicious Gary’s Vineyard wine, but there seemed to be more comments on #2, the Kenwood Pinot Noir. I’d already ordered a few cases for the parents’ cellar because they had the same reaction- $20, really? This is good Pinot for $20.

This is not the only $20 Pinot Noir out there, but it has seemed to garner more interest than most. I’ll make an attempt to guess why – it’s the perfect blend of rich, ripe fruit, warm spices, alcohol & tannin. The finish is long and it’s full-bodied and smooth. Lots of people love “smooth” wines. It’s not my favorite descriptor, but it does fit some wine, and this is one of those wines. I think it has to do with those ripe fruits and that touch of glycerin the alcohol gives the wine. The resulting texture is “smooth.”

You won’t find layers of complexity or the delicate aromas and flavors of some Pinot Noir, but you will find an easy-drinking versatile food wine that will suit many a palate and for $20, that’s not too shabby.

Wrestling with Rieslings – How to Decipher their Labels

DrLoosenWSTBA-375ml_labelDoes reading a German Riesling label leave you scratching your head and running for the beer aisle? Too much information on a label can be daunting especially when the words are in German. What the heck does “Kabinett” mean anyway?  Thankfully, there is a method to the madness.   The many designations on the label are designed to be helpful so that you can select something that you will like.  Once you crack the code you can be confident in what you are buying and even (to some extent) what it will taste like.

Continue reading Wrestling with Rieslings – How to Decipher their Labels

A Tale of Two Pinots

Last night in muggy DC, I tasted two Pinots, both from Oregon. One, a delicious ripe & lively Pinot Gris from King Estate and the other, a savory yet delicate Pinot Noir from Eyrie Vineyards.

2007 king estaeKing Estate Pinot Gris– showed very ripe fruit aromas and flavors, including peach, kiwi and other such tropical fruits. Bordered on being slightly off-dry, but the zippy acidity kept it crisp and lively and balanced that ripe fruit perfectly. A delightful aperitif wine or with a chicken or pasta dish. We enjoyed it with an arugula salad with cherries & procuitto. A definite keeper for the rest of the summer. King Estate is a great place to visit, too, if you ever get the chance. Really beautiful winery!

eyriaSecond wine – 2006 Eyrie Estate Pinot Noir– Always a fan of Eyrie, this wine was a huge disappointment when first opened. I poured the wine into a decanter and put a bit in my glass to taste. The odor was terrible – acid reflux is  the best way to put it, and while I thought it may be reductive, it was unlike any reduced wine I’d had before. I changed glassware and re-swirled, only to find the same odor. The palate seemed lovely, but I could not move past the acrid smell. Luckily, my husband had more patience. As I moved on to a bottle of Syrah, he continued to swirl it around in the decanter letting more and more air into the wine. About 45 minutes after my first sip, I was given another glass. Thank goodness I took it! The odor blew off and the savory, delicate aromas that replaced it delighted my senses! Cherry, red and wild berry aromas, with a touch of spice. The palate had a good acidic backbone, with bright red fruits, some spice and a touch of meatiness to it that gave the wine the “savory” character I like. Wonderful with grilled pork (or what was left of it after the Syrah). Good length and excellent structure. Good thing we’ve got a few more of this wine left as now that I know the drill, I’ll be sure to open it well in advance and decant. I also think it will get better with a few more years in bottle. I highly recommend this wine, but give it time – both in bottle, and in the glass.

The story behind the wine- Eyrie Vineyards:

David Lett had an idea. He believed the the soils and climate of the Willamette Valley of Oregon were well suited to make exceptional Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and other Pinot varieties. In the mid-1960s, he planted his first vines in an old fruit orchard just outside Portland. His theory eventually panned out and people took notice when his 1975 Eyrie Pinot Noir showed well in an international competition that included the top Burgundian Pinot Noirs of the time. Oregon was on the wine map, and Eyrie’s performance in the competition even brought Burgundian winemaker Joseph Drouhin to Oregon to check out the scene. Seeing potential in the land and the wine, Drouhin founded his own Oregon winery, Domaine Drouhin, which resides near Lett’s Eyrie Vineyards.

Eyrie Vineyards produces wines that have character and a sense of place. You will taste that in both the Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris –they truly represent the Oregon terroir.

Eyrie lost its founder in October 2008. Lett earned the nickname, “Papa Pinot,” as his pioneering spirit opened up the doors for the Oregon Wine Industry.  The winery is now run by his son, Jason.

Can Trading Down lead to Trading Up?

A recent Gallup poll noted that the recession has not stopped consumers from drinking. Numbers are even from last year, with 64% of the population saying that they drink, the other 36% claiming abstinence. There were other stats listed of course, showing consumption differences between men and women, young and old. But one thing the poll admitted it could not adequately estimate was wine sales. Sales may be flat in numbers, but it cannot attest to volume vs. price point. As Gallup put it, “the recession may give people more reasons to drink, but less money to do it with”.

This is what we’ve noticed at Wine.com as well. During this recession, instead of seeing sales drop, we’ve seen people buy at a lower price point, but with a higher number of bottles per order – an increase in volume, a decrease in average bottle price. Why is this? The news continues to report that people are choosing to eat in more and out at restaurants less. Perhaps the rise in numbers of bottles per order reflects that choice. Or maybe people are in fact drinking more. Hard to say.

The interesting point to make here is that the trend of consumers trading down in wine has created  created an opportunity for these same consumers to trade up.

Here’s how that works: The recession has hit people’s wallets. Instead of eating out at restaurants, they are eating in. If they are eating out, chances are they order a less expensive wine than they did a year ago. Restaurants, in turn, are ordering less from distributors. Wine once allocated only to restaurants now sits in the distributors’ warehouse. Needing to move product, distributors offer the wine to retailers, often at a hefty discount. This discount is passed along to the consumer and there you have it – the opportunity to trade up has arrived.

So while you may have had to go from $15 to $10 on your everyday wine, you can now snag some $100 bottles for $40 and a few $40 bottles for $15. The savings are huge.

It’s a good time to be a wine consumer.

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