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3 Reasons Why We Drink White Wine – in Winter

Few think of white wines as a winning choice any time of year, let alone now in the heart of winter here in New England. Red wine somehow seems the natural way to soothe the impact of the cold, dark days we experience.

In fact, once we shed our own similar inclinations, we discovered a surprisingly wonderful coping mechanism.

Here’s why adding white wine to your repertoire right now will help assuage your winter woes:
 

1.   Dry Air Begs for a Palate Pick-Me-Up

If you’re like us, you’re heading for the water cooler on the regular. Nothing seems to quench your thirst. Guess what? Many white wines can. Add a little zip to your regularly scheduled wine-down and you can refresh your taste buds (and your spirits) with the natural burst of mouthwatering acidity whites are best known.

 

2.    Hearty Fare Hearts Robust Wines

The importance of texture should not be underestimated either. Just as you reach for that soft, cozy blanket to wrap yourself up in, many white wine styles offer the same satisfaction. Here we're talking about wines that have a touch of heft, and can be deemed oily, or fleshy.

Why?

Robust whites complement the weight of heartier fare. Think Chowder or thicker soups like pumpkin, cauliflower, butternut squash, etc. Gratin potatoes. A tangy, goat-cheese quiche. Monkfish or Swordfish. Chicken casserole. Even an old-school (or re-imagined, newer school) Mac & Cheese.

You get the idea. Just be sure the weightier wine you select also has that essential acidity we talked about above, too. You’ll need that element to cut through the fat of such bold dishes.

 

3.   Winter Helps Ensure Whites are Enjoyed at the Right Temp

One guest at an event we hosted said oh-so-sagely, he feels “whites have to work harder to woo” him. When he tasted the white wine flight we had curated, he mused at how much more depth the wines had – he could taste their nuance.

So often whites are served way too cold. Whites show more layers of aromas and flavors when they are served at the ideal 50ish degrees Fahrenheit. And in New England many of us are blessed with enclosed vestibules or unfinished cellars that naturally ensure wines are stored, and then easily served, at the right temp. You don’t have to fuss with the fridge. Nature works to your logistical advantage. Meanwhile you’re able to discover what so many whites really have to offer.

 

Certainly white wine is a huge category, just as red wine is. The winter simply proves an unsuspecting time to explore the possibilities.

Satiate your cravings for comfort food, resuscitate your senses and otherwise bring life back to your body and soul by giving whites the chance they deserve this winter!

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No-Brainer Holiday Wine Ideas: from What to Pour, to Boss & Co-Worker Gifts

Wine is both an entirely festive way to celebrate the holiday season and a winning approach for gift-giving. The trouble is knowing what to pour - when - and what to gift - to whom. Are we right?

This holiday season we're giving the gift that keeps on giving - easy answers. Below, you'll find wine solutions for your party planning conundrums as well as ideas for gift giving - from stemware to great reads.

Remember, there's naturally some overlap - often wine itself is a wonderful solution in and of itself. So take these ideas and run with them. You're sure to hit the nail on the head with a touch of your own personalization.

Sparkling Wines

From hosting to gifting, sparkling wine is a foolproof way to bring a natural, festive flare to bear. If you don't know your recipient (or his/her tastes) well, they are also a great answer to The Personalization Problem. No matter what, they add levity - and New Year's is a built-in opportunity to open and enjoy.

Here is our own Guide for Selecting the Right Sparkling Wine for the Occasion.



Need specific ideas?  Some of our favorite sparkling wines this year can be found below, beginning with the most affordable styles (e.g. Prosecco + Cava) to the most baller (Champagne). (Note: These specific wines are available to those of us shopping in the Greater Boston area. You can ask your local retailer to order any wine they don't stock.)
 

Marsuret Prosecco  |  Veneto, Italy (Valdobbiane)
Deliciously quaffable and festive, Prosecco wines have taken the world by storm. Here the Marsura family stays true to their 80-year tradition to produce a particularly winning option: zesty, delicately pear-nuanced with a touch more pizzazz than its counterparts.

When/For Whom? Cost-effective, basic bubbly that delivers a festive element/gesture. Ideal for any and everyday - from a holiday brunch to topping-off a "champagne" cocktail.


Dibon Cava  |  Penedes, Spain
Cava drinkers have gotten the memo for a footloose and fancy free sparkling beverage that’s closer to proper Champagne for its toasty notes and fleshier texture – at a fraction of the price. Frothy and fruit forward, Dibon delivers memorable peach and orange notes, backed by hazelnuts and citrus zest.

When/For Whom? Casually festive and versatile, but with a bit more to it. Appropriate to serve during cocktail hour, offer for a festive toast, or even segway into the first course. An affordable way to thank/appreciate colleagues, or supply a casual host/ess gift.


Cave de Saumur Crémant de Loire "49M"   |  Loire, France
Crémant wines come from elite regions of France - outside of Champagne - and are goldmines for exceptional sparklers. This hidden gem from one of our favorite CO-Ops is both charming and dry - and bursting with familiar fruit nuance. You can't go wrong with 49 Million, tiny, crowd-pleasing bubbles!

When/For Whom? Crémant wines are our Go-Tos because they are perfect for dialing things up a notch, without anyone knowing how much you spent. You'll be winning with a ~$20 budget.

 

Taittinger 2008 Brut Champagne  |  Champagne, France
This is the real deal, and then some. Featuring the 2008 vintage alone, this blend of all 3 legally-permitted Champagne grapes delivers tell-tale orchard fruits, a hint of stone fruits and mouthwatering citrus. Better still, its decadent brioche side makes you wonder if you just stepped into a Parisian bakery. . .

When/For Whom? To make an impression - this is brilliant, baller bubbly! Gift to your boss or open with really, really good friends.


Westport Rivers "RJR" Brut Sparkling Wine   |  Westport, Massachusetts
Massachusetts' own Westport Rivers Winery kills it when it comes to sparkling wine. And the RJR is their flagship - separating itself with a frothy, creamy mousse and giving you flashbacks to an autumnal New England picnic. (Bonus - this wine has been on the White House's go-to list!)

When/For Whom? Whenever you need a secret weapon or a local treat to gift/serve. Typically c. $37/bottle, we saw it recently for just c. $20!


choosing wines: Gifting + Celebrating

1.    Looking to make a BIG splash? Whether throwing a party or looking to impress your gift-recipient, this trick never fails.
 

2.    You can also boost your party vibe with a creative approach to wine selection that mitigates fussiness for you - and ensures guests stay engaged in the fun otherwise. Here's How.
 


beyond the bottle: the Essentials


STEMWARE.   There's no need to geek-out on this one. Simply give a great glass that works perfectly well for wines of ALL colors. Our pick is the Vinum Riedel Extreme Series. We use the (white) Sauvignon Blanc option for ALL of the wines we taste/evaluate - red, white or pink. We love the sleekness of the glass as much as its versatility. (If you specifically know your recipient is a red wine fan, you could opt for their Bordeaux/Cabernet/Merlot glass instead. Don't overthink it beyond that!)
 

DECANTER.   Did you know, there are 5 Good Reasons to Use a Decanter Everyday? And this essential tool isn't in everyone's at-home wine supplies repertoire - yet. You can use the holidays to change that with a lovely gift.

Here's one suggestion - a half bottle size. It won't break the bank - and offers a sweet alternative to decanting an entire bottle (not to mention delivering a user-friendly nudge toward that ideal everyday use).
 

GREAT READS, BY INTEREST. 

for Fans of History, Villains + Heroes, or Fiction/Non-Fiction Crossover Reads:  American Wine: A Coming of Age Story

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Champagne or Sparkling Wine? How to Select the Right Bubbles for the Occasion

If you’re confused about Champagne and Sparkling Wine you’re in good company. Questions come up at nearly every event we host, regardless if sparkling wine is even one of the wines we’re sharing.
 

  •    Can you call this Champagne?
  •    What is Cava?
  •    What about Prosecco?


Today we take things sip by sip, exploring Champagne, Cava, Prosecco, Sekt, and Crèmant sparkling wines in turn – so you will not only know the differences between them, but also which style is best suited for the occasion at hand. Let's dive in!
 

Champagne | Champagne, France
 

ONLY sparkling wine from Champagne, France is Champagne, and can be called (or labeled) as such. The northern most region in France, this incredibly temperamental, cool-climate locale with its chalky soils ensures grapes with very high acidity – exactly what you’re after when it comes to producing exceptional bubbly.

There are also only 3 legally permitted grape types that can be grown and included in a Champagne wine: Chardonnay (white), Pinot Noir (red) and Pinot Meunier (red). These can be blended (most often) or fly solo.

In addition to the tricky, cool climate (i.e. while you want ripping, fresh acidity, you also need grapes to ripen enough to give the wine some balancing fruit-mojo), the technique employed in making Champagne (méthode champenoise) is incredibly labor and time intensive. Winemakers must induce a second fermentation inside the bottle which, suffice to say, takes many, many steps over an extended time including, at the end, freezing the neck of the bottle to later disgorge unwanted sediment (key for flavor development, but not desired in the final product). The result is a bright, complex, layered and toastier/creamier style of wine.

Often Champagne is Non-Vintage (NV). Winemakers prefer to blend fruit from different harvests to achieve the “House Style” for which they are known. Only in exceptional vintages will wine be dedicated to a vintage year bottling.

INSIDER TIP.   While most of the Champagne we drink is dry (Brut), there are sweeter styles available. Extra Dry is actually slightly sweeter than Brut, followed by demi-sec and then, rarely, doux.
 

Cava | Penedès, Spain
 

Cava is the Spanish term for their own style of sparkling wine, and named after the cave cellars where the wine was aged.

It came into being in 1872 when Don José Raventos found himself tromping through Champagne, France and encountered their specialty. He was rightfully fascinated. Soon enough he had decided to employ the traditional French méthode champenoise technique at home, but wanted to put a uniquely Spanish spin on it.

First up, he used local, indigenous varietals: Macabeu (the dominant grape), Parellada and Xarel·lo – all white grapes – contribute their own unique characteristics to the blend and create a uniquely Spanish sparkler. (Producers today are also permitted to use Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Garnacha and Monastrell in the blend.)

Next was his approach to aging: Cava is aged for only 9 months on the lees (this technique helps give Champagne its famous toasty character).

The differences go on, but the important thing is the result: Cava is a cheery, slightly less robust, citrusy/fruity, sometimes slightly nutty alternative to Champagne.

INSIDER TIP.   Wander off the ubiquitous Cristalino or Friexenet paths and you’ll often find even more value, while supporting smaller producers.
 

Prosecco | Veneto, Italy
 

Venetians, for their part, turn to Prosecco – aka Italian sparkling wine – daily. And whether you know Prosecco yet or not, you’ve probably noticed it is certainly an affordable bubbly option.

What makes it different than its counterparts? This wine is named for the largest proportion of grapes used to produce it, Prosecco. It is widely considered more straightforward, lemon-limey and leaner than traditional Champagne.

Why? It’s snappy flavor and texture result because it is made using a different approach than its French and Spanish cousins. The Charmat method ensures the secondary fermentation (necessary to “trap” the CO2 and create the bubbles) occurs in large, pressurized tanks rather than in the bottle. This means the wine is oxygenated and bottled “on demand,” without a long aging regiment. And, since the wine is made in batches if you will, rather than bottle by bottle, this helps keep the price low.

INSIDER TIP:    Gravitate toward Prosecco if a sparkling cocktail is on the menu, too. It’s perfect for both sipping solo and for adding a little unobtrusive sparkle to your cocktail recipe.
 

Sekt | Germany & Austria
 

Fun Fact:   Germans drink more Sparkling Wine per capita than any other country. They also produce the most variety of options, all under the larger umbrella term “Sekt”.

Their bubbly can be made with any method described already herein. Naturally, pricier selections are made in the traditional méthode champenoise while cheaper offerings are bottled with the Charmat method. Stylistically you will taste the characteristics that each of these respective approaches imparts – leaner for the latter and toastier and richer for the former.

They can also be made from a wide selection of grapes, with the grape-type used also helping to dictate the flavor experience in the final product. E.g. Riesling Sekt tend to be more zippy with trademark high acidity; Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris deliver a fuller-bodied, rounder experience; and Pinot Noir rosé styles deliver more tang and berry fruit, with pretty aromatics.

While less widely known/imported, a German (and Austrian) sparkling wine experience is quite diverse – and certainly worthy of your interest.

INSIDER TIP:   Use your wallet as your guide. Spend more than $15 to avoid the plonk.
 

Crèmant de [Fill-In-The-Blank] | Non-Champagne Regions, France
 

You didn’t think France was having all of the sparkling wine fun in just one of its wine growing regions, did you?

Truth be told, French Crèmant is perhaps our favorite alternative to Champagne. Most often made in the same traditional method, each region in France has go-to varietals. These same grapes are pressed into service for their sparkling wines. For example, the Loire Valley is known for their Chenin Blanc. So Crèmant de Loire tends to be made from Chenin. In Burgundy they are world-famous for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, so that’s what you should expect in bubbly forms.

INSIDER TIP:   Artisanal or small production winegrowers that decide to produce sparkling wine make a BIG commitment. They need the resources – economic and otherwise – to do so. If they are going down this path, they are doing it for a reason. In our experience, passion pays. Crèmant wines are an uber-affordable alternative to Champagne, with many exceptional selections falling in the $16-$22 range.

 

What’s the moral of the story?
No matter which country floats your boat, sparklers are not just for toasting and gifting; with the variety of styles available worldwide they can be for every day. And perhaps they should be! With their essential, naturally high acidity, sparkling wine pairs superbly with any cuisine. Plus, they’re just F-U-N.

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What the Classic PB&J Reveals about Your Wine Preferences

Lately we’ve been on a Peanut Butter kick. We go through phases and admit this one has lasted longer than a single jar.

While enjoying the latest fix, we were also deep in prep for a few upcoming wine workshops. It was only a matter of time before our brains connected the two: Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches and wine have a few key things in common. As a result, how you take your PB&J can reveal a bunch about your wine preferences – and lead you to new discoveries!
 

Check it out:

Wine has three main components. We like to think of them as the “DNA” of wine (or TAF, if we're feeling cute): Tannin, Acidity + Fruit.
 

Tannin is the dry feeling a wine can leave on your tongue, sometimes lingering after you swallow. Some people call it the “furry” feeling. Others describe it as the bitter/dry element you can get from black tea – it kind of sticks to your tongue and leaves you a little thirsty or looking for a bite of food to cut the sensation. In your PB & J sandwich…yep, it’s the Peanut Butter.

Acidity is the mouthwatering element in a wine. It’s the brightening, mouth-puckering or thirst-quenching element, like a squeeze of lemon to your favorite salad, veggies or fish.

Fruit is, well, the fruit! Grapes, specifically, but flavor-wise can be a whole spectrum of diverse possibilities depending on the grapes that make up the wine itself. Some grapes may have more tropical fruit flavors, others more tree fruits, and still more can emulate stone fruits, or berries, or cherries…you get the drift.

With Peanut Butter the equivalent to Tannin… you are correct: Jelly does double-duty, delivering both Acidity and Fruit to balance the wine.
 

So how does this help you find new wines to try? Let’s look at a few examples:

1|   The Protein Fein: “Lather up the PB with just a hint of Jelly”

Your wine persona:  You tend to like drier, more structured wines. As a general rule, red and white wines from the Old World (aka Europe) are a good leaning, with Italy and Portugal great starting points for reds and French Muscadet and Portuguese Vinho Verde safe bets for whites.


2|   The Jam:  “An extra spoonful of jelly makes the peanut butter go down…”

Your wine persona: You tend to prefer wines that are either more mouthwatering (aka higher in acidity) and/or more fruit forward.

Note: “Fruit Forward” does not necessarily mean sweet. It means wines that high-five with their fruit foot forward, like biting into a ripe, juicy plum rather than into a bland, mealy one. Do you prefer wines that are plump with fruit (fruit forward) or wines with a subtler fruit element?

One approach to finding wines that dial up the mouthwatering effect is to seek out wines from cooler climates. This could be in the Alto Adige of Italy (think Alps) or high-altitude New World locales like Argentina (think Andes).  If it’s the toothsome fruit you’re after, grapes like Zinfandel, Syrah/Shiraz, and Spanish Monastrell are a good start for reds while Torrontes, Chenin Blanc and Rhone Valley white blends are delicious white wine diversions.
 

3|   The Purist: “I’ll take my PB&J sandwich evenly applied and distributed. Not too much PB and not too much J.”

Your wine persona: You tend towards wines that offer the best of both worlds – which means there’s even more room to play as you seek out wine styles that strike a middle ground. Two main approaches will get you there. You can ask for either of these:

  • Old World wines with softer edges or bolder fruit. Red wine styles like Rioja, Cotes du Rhone rouge, and also lesser-known but equally delicious German Dornfelder, or Austrian Zweigelt will get you there.
     
  •  New World wines with a bit more earthy nuance. Here ask for red wines like Cabernet Franc from the Finger Lakes or Chile, older/aged Australian Shiraz blends, South African Cabernet Sauvignon, or Willamette Valley Pinot Noir.
     

Hold up.   Do you prefer your PB&J separately like some other folks we know? The same principles apply. For PB soloists, see above for “The Protein Fein” recommendations. Digging the J on its own? See “The Jam”.
 

The PB&J analogy is a great go-to barometer that can get you started and put you in a safe position to broaden your horizons and welcome new grapes or places into your world. But bear in mind, a grape’s propensity to be more tannic (Cabernet Sauvignon, Nebbiolo), or higher in acidity (Riesling, Pinot Noir), or more fruit-forward (Zinfandel, Gewürztraminer) is due to its actual DNA, mother nature and the grower who further nurtures it along. Typically, winemakers take what nature delivers and use tools in the winery to dial things to their ultimate preference – just as you build your own PB&J to order. Ask the Sommelier on duty or the Wine Director at your favorite shop for help using the PB&J preference analogy.

 Insider Tip:  The common wine descriptor words bolded + italicized above will help you further describe what you’re after.
 

Want more ideas? Wine Folly has developed a great resource that helps gauge grapes by their “DNA”. But really, tasting is believing. Go for it!

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The Secret to Holiday Entertaining – Celebrate Magnum Style

We shouldn’t need an excuse to pull out all of the stops when it comes to entertaining, but then what would the holidays really be for anyway?

Whether you’re a wine geek or not, our secret to dialing things up a notch is to Go Big – literally. A “magnum” of wine is what you call the super-sized bottle of wine you may have started to see more often since Thanksgiving. Said bottle contains the equivalent of two “normal” bottles of wine. It is a sight to behold, and certainly makes that statement we never mind to make.

No contest, magnums make for a fantastic gift for wine lovers. But how often do you have enough of a crowd to warrant actually opening a large-format bottle? Our staff relishes the chance.

Here are ten wines available in magnums we think are perfect for celebrating. Make an impression this holiday season!
 

Sparkling.

Adriano Adami Bosco di Gica Valdobiadene Superiore Prosecco| Veneto, Italy
The wonderful world of sparkling wine is global – you don’t always need to travel to Champagne, France for an enticing or satisfying selection! Here Adami over-delivers for the category, producing a lively, quaffable sparkler.
 

Billecart-Samon Brut Rosé  | Champagne, France
Behold, one of our absolute favorite producers of Champagne, let alone sparkling rosé. Seeing this wine packaged in a magnum – well, we caught our breath! Here the devil is in the details: tiny beads of joy oh-so-delicately deliver tangy red fruits first to your nose, and then to your palate. Notes of chalk-board erasers are a time machine back to less-harried, wonder-rich times.
 

Ployez-Jacquemart Extra Quality Brut | Champagne, France
Where Billecart-Samon scores high in the ‘delicious-subtlety’ category, Ployez-Jacquemart does so with equal enthusiasm in the ‘delicious-decadence’ category. Generous orchard fruits are lifted by citrus and quince – and that’s just the beginning! Toasty and lush with gratifying brioche elements, we just love how this wine wraps itself around your senses….
 

Rosé.

Bodegas Muga Rosado| Rioja, Spain
Nothing says party-perfect more effortlessly than a magnum bottle of sacred (read: somewhat scarce) rosé wine! Here the historic winery Bodegas Muga blends Grenache with white Viura grapes and a splash of Tempranillo. Aging the wine briefly in large oak vats adds body and nuance, while lees aging contributes subtle milk chocolate notes. The result is supreme – a dry but lifted, round-edged, winter-ready but refreshing style that can elevate holiday meals just as easily as it can coolly welcome friends. (Grab one if you see one – Rebecca did!)
 

White.

Chateau Montelena Winery Chardonnay | Napa Valley, California
This wine packs both a delicious and historic punch: established in 1882, Chateau Montelena is one of the oldest wineries in the United States –  and the 1973 vintage of this wine won the famous Judgement of Pairs in 1978! Is it still worth its muster? In a word, YES. The fruit for this wine was selected literally grape by grape. With only 10% new oak used and a cool growing season in play, this white is as dramatic as it is crisp!
 

Weingut Josef Leitz, Rüdesheimer Magdalenenkreuz Spätlese Riesling| Rheingau, Germany
There’s just something about colder days that beg for a glass of something decadent, something you can cozy up to, something that somehow also rouses your spirits and delivers a surprise. Here one of our absolute favorite German winemakers, Josef Leitz, delivers all of that in one uncorking. Minerality creates a snappy tension with the fruity, sappy, layered flavor profile of this wine – and it is delivered in an abundant(ly), delicious package.
 

Red.

Buena Vista Winery “The Count” | Sonoma, California
A blend of Zinfandel, Syrah, Merlot, Petite Sirah and Cabernet Sauvignon, “The Count” shows its innovative roots while showcasing the bold potential the Count himself saw in California wines. Medium bodied, this wine is as packed with purple and black fruits as it is with earth-driven nuance. Burnt caramel and cedar notes give it that touch of winter-time pizazz we all crave this time of year. Easy drinking and velvety smooth, this toothsome wine is a crowd-pleaser!
 

Burgess Cellars Library Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (2002) | Napa Valley, California
Properties like Burgess are what put the Napa Valley – and Cabernet grown here – on the map. Determined to make a style of wine expressive of terroir, Tom Burgess was wise to snap up this plot of land in the Howell Mountains. Here above the fog, vines 60+ years old have become one with the mineral-rich, volcanic soil. Opulent yet still ‘pretty’, this wine is a teenager, packed with dark berry fruit, dusty earth and just a hint of mocha.
 

Chateau de Saint Cosme Rouge | Cotes du Rhone, France
For (at least) two of us on staff, our love affair with European wine began with Syrah from the Rhone Valley, France. Wines like this iconic one are the reason why: fresh, purple-floral aromatics awaken your senses first, followed by a decadent palate rich with dark fruit, hints of spice and notes of saddle leather and bacon fat (yes.. bacon!). Welcome to the club!
 

Domaine Serene Vineyards Pinot Noir | Evenstad Reserve | Willamette Valley, Oregon
Oregon's Willamette Valley is thought “the Promised Land” for producing acclaimed, Burgundian-styled reds, aka exceptional Pinot Noir. And Domaine Serene is one of the darlings of this young yet heralded wine region. We were downright gleeful to discover their award-winning, flagship wine is available in magnums. Buyer beware: the Evenstad Reserve is a super-silky, complex wine that delivers a wallop of delight!

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Screw it! Why You Can't Judge a Wine by Its Closure

Screwcaps

When I (Rebecca) worked for a boutique wine shop I remember feeling self-conscious whenever I chose to work with an awesome wine packaged with a screwcap. I personally felt like a trader to the tradition of uncorking a bottle of wine even though the wine quality was in the bottle, as it were. And whether absurd or not, I wasn’t the only one; I knew it would be a tougher “sell”.

So I called it out, ahead of the inevitable question “won’t my friends think that’s a cheap wine?” and worked harder to convince people to take a leap of faith. I probably had a 60/40 success rate.

...I no longer even think about the type of closure a bottle has when I curate a flight of wine for an event.

In writing this piece, I realized I no longer even think about the type of closure a bottle has when I curate a flight of wine for an event. In fact, it’s not until we pull the wines out of their boxes during set-up that we (re)discover which are screwcaps, cork, synthetic, crown (yep! – the same as beer bottles) or glass stops.

Now when we spot at least one wine has a screwcap, we sigh in relief. We know the wine won’t be impacted with cork taint. And since we will only have to open that wine with a quick twist of the wrist, we’re better able to keep guests seamlessly engaged, not having to physically work a corkscrew while geeking out about the wine. Convenience and consistency are our best friends.

Instead of being a sign a wine is cheap, mainstream or basic, closures today are simply a sign of the times. Good ones!

New technologies, systems and processes are perpetually evolving to help us do things better. And we’re thankful the wine industry is no exception. Still, we hear you – the physicality of using a corkscrew definitely taps into our nostalgia for tradition. In the publishing world this could be related to hardcover, paperback or e-reader.
 

So let’s be fair and dig into WHEN the closure could impact your opinion and experience with a wine, rather than just an added bonus of convenience:
 

FIRST.  For the great wines out there that are intended to be or are better when consumed “young,” screwcaps simply aid and abet!

SECOND.  For those occasions when a wine will benefit from aging, screwcap closures could impact that success. But not necessarily…
 

Check it out:

  • Not all screwcaps are created equal. Winemakers have control over which style of screwcap closure they wish to use. Some wines that simply benefit from a little time in the bottle (for flavors to integrate, tannins to mellow and the like – kind of like your soup being better on day 2) may also benefit from a little teeny tiny breath of fresh air via the carefully crafted foil “seal” that exists (or doesn’t) under the lid.
  • There are high end winemakers in this category who have been bottling with screwcaps for a while now (aka at least a decade) with happy results.
  • And their innovation is being rewarded with a recent study that proves (the operative word!) wines can age well with a screwcap closure. These wines not only exhibit terciary nuances that only time can impart, they also deliver greater freshness (i.e. acidity remains intact).

 

Bottom Line?   Screwcap wine closures are like driving home from work every day withOUT traffic. It’s hard to argue with convenience and consistency, right? Besides, there are still plenty of other closures out there, for the days you don’t want to do the twist and shout!

 

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How Much Wine to Buy For Your [Holiday] Party – The Formula for Success

Making a memorable impression with your event or party is no small task. But we think it's safe to say that not having enough for your guests to drink (our preference, wine!) and eat is a sure sign you won't be remembered for the right reasons. While the "rule" for ordering food is less scientific (so we'll spare you), we do have just the formula to guide your wine purchasing decisions. Here’s how it works:

While your guest are likely to drink less as your festivities progress, some people will become even more enthusiastic. The good news is: taperers always mitigate imbibers. So if you assume one drink per person per hour* you’ll have more than enough to go around.

Now, how does this translate to bottles of wine?

There are (conservatively) 5 glasses of wine in every bottle, 6 when it comes to a sparkling wine toast.

If you have 100 guests and a three hour event figure 300 total drinks.* Divide 300 by 5 to figure out how many bottles are needed (60). (To find out the total number of cases needed, divide that figure by 12 (bottles in a case) = 5cases of wine.)

Or:

Naturally you’ll want to select a few different wine options – e.g. a red, a white and a sparkling wine. You can decide how many bottles (or cases) of each of these styles of wine you’d like to have on hand based on the season in which you are celebrating and the venue set-up (e.g. hot summer day under a tent vs. cold and wintry indoors). For example, if you are celebrating the holidays around Boston, you’ll probably want more red than white, plus a splash of sparkling on hand to at least toast the occasion – or using the above example, something like 2.5 cases of red, 1.5 cases of white, and 1 case of sparkling wine.

Yep, that's it! Some parts of planning can be this simple - say, cheers!

 (*) NOTE:  This is the total number of drinks consumed, not just wine. If you are serving beer, wine and liquor, estimate the number of probable wine drinkers and go from there to gauge your actual wine purchase. Alternatively, you can adjust the number of hours people will be drinking wine based on the format or style of the event, e.g. cocktail hour (1.5 glasses) + dinner hour (1.5 glasses) + dancing (1 glass) = 4 wine drinks per person, or 400 total glasses = 80 bottles of wine = 7 cases (always round up).

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Bro-sé: Why Men Drink Pink (Too)

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It’s long been true men who wear pink stand out in a crowd – they get automatic props for being “man enough” to strut their stuff in this soft-toned, physique-pleasing color. Some say they even make more money and are better educated! And yet, let’s face it, in the jargon-rich, equality-striving universe in which we live, “man enough” today is a term we guffaw, said only tongue in cheek. What we’re really getting at is that a man wearing pink is chic enough to be so bold as to be so softly adorned.

Rosé is finally getting the respect it’s due here in the U.S. of A. - with good reason.

But, if you’ve noticed, men have caught on; pink shirts and even pants are abundant, almost redundant. This former trend-setting maneuver is still wonderful to see, but unfortunately, officially, mainstream. Gasp!

And so it is time to ponder the next phase of manly chic-dom – something still operating largely under the radar, and arguably even more sexy than that first man to don pink because it is a signal he knows something more than the "average" guy….

Behold – it is the man across the room, drinking a glass of rosé!

Rosé is finally getting the respect it’s due here in the U.S. of A. - with good reason. Mouthwateringly refreshing, yet dry and incredibly food-friendly, rosé is as versatile as the many shades of pink you can conjure.

And, other than recognizing the possibility of Greatness therein, you know you can’t judge that bottle by its color, right? Some of the driest, most serious, in the bunch are so lightly hued as to be barely a shade of “salmon” pink.

With their kiss of drying tannin, thirst-quenching acidity and fruit nuances, these wines can be paired with grilled Bison sliders, dill-infused zucchini and feta roast chicken, seared tuna, tangy soft cheese, charcuterie…

Bros-in-the-know know that rosé is made from red grapes – extracted, essentially – it offers a touch of vinous muscle in a pleasing, quenching package. Are some more fruit-forward than others? Absolutely. But the fun is in tasting the rainbow, because rosé truly is the little black dress of wine – or dare we suggest, the pink shirt of it?

With their kiss of drying tannin, thirst-quenching acidity and fruit nuances, these wines can be paired with grilled Bison sliders, dill-infused zucchini and feta roast chicken, seared tuna, tangy soft cheese, charcuterie…. The list is endless! And the supply short. So the savvy gent, for his own part, knows rosé season is one to behold – for this vinous window is (too) brief, and one to capitalize on!

This summer before supplies run out (typically mid-September) saddle up to your favorite haunts or your local wine shop and get sipping!
 

Here are a few that pack a particularly muscular punch this year:
 

Heitz Cellars Grignolino Rosé.   Here the iconic California producer Heitz delivers a particularly robust style of rosé, with plenty of strawberry + black raspberry fruits. If you are an adventure-seeker by nature, Italian Grignolino is a grape to know!

Anne Amie Cuvee A Midnight Saignee Rosé.   Anne Amie takes great care with this wine… a virtual basket-full of red summer fruits, mitigated by a whisper of spice and everything nice. Grab the spicy Asian take-out – this wine is as fruit-forward as they come!

Ostatu Rosato.   Zesty Tempranillo and the fuller-figured Grenache are natural bedfellows – and after 250 years in the biz, the Saenz family knows how to deliver a measurably dry rosé buoyed by fruit and nuance. Have another bottle near!

Mulderbosch Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé.  Mulderbosch was ahead of the times when it conceived of this rosé and first released it in ‘99. Pleasing aromatics are followed by red and dark fruits, cleansing minerality and a dash of spice. Cheers to trend-setting!

Calcu Rosé.   Calcu makes the case that Chile – famous for its distinct, powerful reds – is perhaps a natural to produce rosé wines. Both elegant and restrained in its fruit presentation, this wine is equal parts refreshing and bold!

Chateau Ksara Sunset Rosé.  Ksara is no new kid on the block – and they are serious about producing seriously delicious wines. If you are up for a little sass in a glass, their tart and textural rosé is just the thing. Go on – it’s date night!

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How to Identify Why You Like the Wines You Do

A few weeks ago we received an email from a woman looking to take advantage of our ‘Off the Vine’ service in order to expand her wine horizons. She wrote sharing some of the wines she currently enjoys, but said she’s frustrated because she can’t tell me why she likes them – “I just do.” No doubt being able to identify what you like about a given wine helps you continue to explore beyond your usual repertoire; but most people have difficulty describing why they like something. Rest assured - you’re not alone!  

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So what do you do?

It’s easy! Just flip things on their head. Tap into ‘The Yuck Factor’.

Here’s a timely analogy: If you were to ask me, a Boston resident, last summer what I liked about winters here I would have said I actually enjoy getting out to shovel, seeing my neighbors and the camaraderie that crops up annually. Sounds great, right? Now with so many days – weeks – spent cooped up and shoveling it’s hard to remember how awesome the first snow was; jolly thoughts of skiing and sledding, creating snowmen and snow angles are long past. I ache from the heavy lifting and am over the snow days. I’m grumpy and contemplating a move west.

Certainly when you are coming at something from the negative side first, the feelings imparted are so much more intense they are even more memorable, i.e. loathing (icy sidewalks, bitter cold and not being able to get around easily) makes it easier to identify what you love (long, sun-filled, warm days).

The same is true when it comes to tastes, right? It is so much easier to identify and remember something you hate than put your finger on why it is you love something – you just do!

We operate the same way when it comes to wine. If you are neutral or positive about what’s in your glass you are less likely to stop and think too much about it. But if you have a negative reaction you pull away immediately, recoiling at The Yuck Factor. Indeed, the Yuck Factor offers a critical key to discovery. What you hate helps informs what you (will) love.

No doubt there are numerous nuances in a given wine. Where it comes from on the map, the grape type(s) it is made from, and how the winemaker made the wine are just the starting points. But what our own palate (our 5 tastes) tells us offers key data points. You can then take these to a Pro for help navigating the vinous world – and find new wines that further excite your palate!
 

Here’s a quick guide to help you tune in to your tastes:
 

SWEET.  Here’s a tricky category, as (truly!) most wines are vinified dry. Our perception of sweetness comes from how much fruit we find in the wine – fruitiness as opposed to actual residual sugar. A ripe peach is way juicier than a hard one, but they both offer sweetness, right? Just different levels. If a wine with loads of fruit flavors, sometimes ‘teeth-sinkingly’ so, or even jammy in nature floats your boat, run with it! There are a lot of fruit-forward wines in the market, so ask for some recommendations accordingly. If not, seek out wines with modest fruit and/or an extra dose of drying tannin.
 

SALTY.  Wines don’t tend to be salty per se, it’s true. But there can be some saline, tongue-drying minerality elements that can turn you off in (more typically) white wines. Is that you?


BITTER. Does a wine with a lot of tannin (that tongue-drying, slightly astringent/bitter quality) offend? Even though many, many wines are vinified dry, there are levels of dryness; on the extreme side, bitterness results. Do you hate when a finish is so long and dry you are left with a bad taste in your mouth (pun intended)?


SOUR. High acid wines are certainly a category unto themselves. Do you shy away from a particularly long, mouthwatering or puckering experience?


SAVORY/UMAMI. How about wines that are a bit more rustic, or offer earthier, gamey nuances? If these wines offend, stick to wines from the New World (aka not Europe).
 

Whatever your dis/likes, don’t be ashamed of this information – embrace it! Tapping into The Yuck Factor helps you to identify components of a wine’s character, which will help you follow more dotted lines to wine experiences you will heart.

Everyone’s palate is their own, and there is a whole lot of wine out there ready to be loved. Just be sure to chart your course, so you have these data points at the ready and can work with a Pro to help you avoid what isn’t in your wheelhouse – and instead discover what is!

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Thanksgiving Wine Selection - made easy!

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Thanksgiving Day is the ONLY holiday every single American celebrates.  It is a day observed ladling up traditions at every opportunity; even if you're not doing what historically you have done, admit it - you're thinking or reminiscing about those things! But when it comes to wine selection there tends to be less tradition in play. For some that is the best part of the holiday - the vinous world is your playground! For others, what to serve or what to bring can overwhelm. We get it.

As part of our "made easy" series, we are offering up a few suggestions for going home with a winner or two.

If we can help with your specific feast or preferences, whether a consultation or shopping or both, don't hesitate to Click 2 Inquire. We relish overturning every rock (no minerality pun intended) to find stellar wines perfect for this time of year. And our holiday special is in play NOW through December 31, 2014!

Winning Whites

Noble white varietals are thought the darlings of Thanksgiving. The best hail from cooler climates, offer mesmerizing aromatics which lure you in, are lower in alcohol, a tiny bit "fleshy," yet deliver a crisp, mouthwatering brightness.

- Et Fille "Deux Vert Vineyard" Viognier ~ Willamette Valley, OR

- Szoke "Mantra" Pinot Gris ~ Hungary

Weinguut Jurgen Leiner "Handwerk" Weissburgunder (Pinot Blanc) ~ Pfalz, Germany

Gundlach Bundschu DRY Gewurtztraminer ~ Sonoma, California

Rabble-Rousing Reds

We hang our hat on discovering earthy, lightER bodied reds - with backbone. Beware of selecting a wine that's too big, which will just weigh you down given all of the food before you.

- Ravines Pinot Noir ~ Fingerlakes, NY

- Dominique Piron Coteaux Bourguignons ~ Burgundy, France

- Elena Walch Schiava ~ Alto Adige, Italy

- Ameztoi "Stimatum" Txakolina ~ Getariako Txakolina, Spain

Remember, with such a big, intense meal with so many different parts and varied traditions, there are countless wines to choose from. When it come to Food & Wine Pairing, the endgame is BALANCE!

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