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Wine and the Environment - plus an event in Maine

With Earth Day just barely behind us, a flurry of writing in the wine world as it pertains to issues like global warming and the use of natural cork hit the web-waves. We've narrowed the reading field to just two articles since they are a bit lengthy (and you likely have to get some work done today, too!). But before we get into all that, check out this link to get more info about a wine and food festival fundraiser for the York Education Foundation up in Maine this Saturday, May 8th.

Ok, now it's time to settle in to the "meaty" stuff....

Here Slate presents a piece on global warming and the world and the world of wine. Something to bear in mind as you read it: there is NO replacement for a place's unique terroir. I'll say it again, European nations (and specifically their respective wine areas) in particular offer a distinct terroir that is unquestionably irreplicable.

Next, go here to take in this Wall Street Journal article on cork closures. It's a well written piece that captures BOTH sides of the cork debate. Which side do you land on? Are you pro-cork or pro-synthetic?



Wine Apps

With ‘App Fever’ catching on seemingly as quickly as swine flu, those of us in the wine world can’t help but wonder if the tools out there are really revolutionizing the wine tracking and selecting worlds. There are myriad apps to choose from, of course. Some are designed to help you better organize your notes and/or your wine cellar. (Who doesn’t love a little organization?) Others are designed to help you figure out which wine might pair with your meal when out to eat, or help expand your wine horizons by guiding you to something familiar – but different. Some do both. Some do more. But is there a simpler way that embraces what wine does by nature, aka socialization?



Wine news for all to contemplate

Image care of: week there's a little something for everyone  by way of wine news, regardless of your specific interest in the science behind wine. Some way, somehow, these headlines are sure to hit close to home. Let's jump right in! I'm a visual, tactile person so I usually embrace every opportunity to better engage my senses to remember something. In the wine world, that usually means taking my time to engage ALL of my senses as I evaluate a wine. But can aromas be visualized? Do we need them to be?  For better or worse, the folks at Aromicon are taking this idea for a test drive. Check out this article at Springwise to get the scoop!

I couldn't find my related post about pests in the vineyards (sometime last year, I believe), but there's a shocking bit of news coming out of UC Davis regarding work to mitigate - or eliminate - the nematode problem perplexing California vineyard managers and winemakers. Apparently the Dept. of Nematology at Davis is being shut down, despite the fact that the problem has yet to be resolved. Wines & Vines didn't report on the politics or economics or whathave you happening behind the scenes there. But here's an update on the situation plaguing Northern California in particular. If you know a bit more on this, please weigh in below!

In other news, somehow I missed last year that Boisset decided to ship Beaujolais Nouveau in plastic bottles - to reduce costs of shipping the historic, annual November wine. (I wonder why they chose plastic over bag-in-box...). And, it seems this year Japan is taking things one step further by selling the wine as such - without re-bottling it in glass first. Did you see or hear any further news on this plastic-ization of BN last year - or more recently?



Friday wine news: Health, Religion, Technology & Travel

Cow Teeth - Thanks to: few headlines crossing myriad academics, if you will, caught my attention this week. Here's what rose to the top of my reading list: Wine & Health - While this may be a "duh" moment for some readers, I thought it was worth bringing this article from WebMD to your attention: white wine can also be responsible for teeth staining. Grape tannin (or shmutz) leaves its mark on your teeth, whether you are drinking wine made from white or red grapes. Of course, red wine's impact is more direct or immediate. But white can leave a mark too. Click on the link above to discover why! Is this news to you?

Wine & Religion - With Passover coming up, this is the time to be buying your Kosher wines. Gaiter & Brecher break down a few of their favorite Kosher Riesling offerings, a terrific varietal to enjoy with an important meal.  Remember, these wines get a bad rep for being sweet, when more often it is the ripe fruit and florals that require a little mind over matter to appreciate the actual dryness of the wine. Which Kosher wines do you enjoy each year?

Wine & Technology - This article actually bugs me a little because of my ying/yang reaction to new technologies available for wine making. (Of course, I really just don't want to see robots roaming the world doing everything for us.) But anyway, apparently there's a new technology available that will "tell winemakers when their wine has finished aging", reports Sophie Kevany of Decanter. Click on the link to learn more. Does this development irritate you, too?

Wine & Travel - or Wine & Laws, depending on your perspective. France hit the wine headlines multiple times this week, but this one seemed to be the most pertinent as summer vacation approaches. On July 31, 2009, France will ban outdoor consumption. I simply cannot imagine a vacation in France, sitting in their many cafes withOUT a glass of wine, a beer or a cocktail in hand. It is an oxymoron. And it outrages me.  Do you even think this move will ameliorate France's drinking "problem"?

Please comment below! Lots of interesting fodder this week....



fun with wine (news)

Cork Flash DriveI can't help but feel excited and playful what with Open That Bottle Night on tap for tomorrow night and a few very cool new projects in the queue (more on those later...). So today I bring to you a sampling of lighthearted highlights from my wine reading this week. Let's start with the most whimsical piece and go from there, shall we?

Let's face it:  most of us spend way too much time at our computers, for better or worse. Anytime someone figures out a way to help us play while we work, I'm all for it. From Arwye Wan and the folks at Yanko Designs comes not only the wine cork USB memory stick, but now also the flash drive. This is user-friendly wine love if I ever saw it. Check them out!

Next, we have Girl Scout Cookies! What? Yep. America's favorite seasonal treat (or so I think) meets wine at the hand of Doug Morris, of Old Town Bread, Co.. Girl Scouts of South Eastern Massachusetts is holding their annual fundraiser, where Chef's from some of our favorite - and finest - local restaurants will participate in the name of the cookie, or well, the Girl Scouts who sell them. With such an illustrious team in the kitchen, it's a bit surprising wine hasn't entered the picture to date. Katie Curley of The Daily News reported, "a surprise entry from Morris will be a savory cookie of smoked salmon with a red wine reduction on cinnamon-flavored Girl Scouts' Daisy Go Round Cookies." Check out Curley's article to learn more about the Who's Who in Culinary & Cookies, or click this link and go to "Cookie Creations" to support the event. (Hotel Commonwealth, March 12, 6-8pm)

Finally, in what was meant to be a more sobering article about wine and the economy, I found Inside Bay Area's recent article on marketing high-end wine in a down economy fairly positive. Here are three reasons I feel this way:

1. Guerilla marketing, if you will, among some of the more high end wine producers of California might mean good news for consumers. The folks at Honig and Cakebread, for example, plan to take more of their wares on the road, giving consumers a greater opportunity to taste and enjoy their high-end wines locally.

2. If you've been sitting on a wine club waiting list since before dirt, this may be your moment to get in on the fun. There should be more high-end juice available with sales generally lower. This means there's more to go around for folks who aren't local and want "in" via special Club-only shipments.

3. Finally, just this week Boston natives Peter and Diana Merriam opened their new Napa tasting room - but they're not giving up production of one of their best value "high end" wines, which clocks in at $35. Count on 4.5 glasses of fun for a mere $7.77 each; that's pretty great value, if you think of it. Plus, the Merriams will be offering custom crush to other folks; it'll be interesting to see what - or who - else comes out of their new digs, given how high a bar they've set for themselves.

All in all, not a bad week for wine! Let's top it off, shall we? Be sure to OPEN THAT BOTTLE!



wine column hop'n!

Disney World - care of www.babble.comEven with the Super Bowl due this weekend and beer lovers all over the US (and beyond?) gearing up for the big day of consumption, wine columnists at some of the country's top rags stayed the course, touching on topics I personally have been following. And so this Friday I bring to you a look at wine from three of my favorite writers: New York's City Winery is open. Looking for the Disney World of Wine? It seems City Winery is trying to be just that. As enthusiastic and passionate as I am about the art of fermented grape juice, I'm not sure if I'm about it.  Must we be everything to everyone? Or is it just this approach that will allow CW to find success even in a down market? Eric Asimov, author of the New York Times' "The Pour", checks out the scene and brings up some very interesting points.  I'll be in town once the ice melts to check it out for myself, but in the meantime, I'm dying to hear what my Big Apple readers think of it! Are you "a fan" of the concept? Comment below!

Malbec, mmm Malbec! Argentine Malbec is certainly a section in the store with a ridiculous number of facings given our small space. But there is enough demand to warrant so many choices! This scenario (plus my personal affection for it?) encourages our reps to continue to bring by new Malbecs for us to try. What's interesting is how many simply 'eh', down right bad, or "fakey-fake" offerings we've tasted in the last 4-5 months. Of course, this just makes us feel even happier with the wines we do carry, but it also demoralizes me a bit. I'd hate to see Malbec winemaking go down the tubes just to meet the increasing demand. While we've been experiencing this challenge here in Greater Boston, you never know for sure if your experience is being felt elsewhere.... This week Gaiter & Bretcher at the Wall Street Journal took 100 Malbecs to the mattresses and reported their findings. Check out their 411! And then tell us, what are your own recent experiences?

Fireplace magic. Since I've been on my winter warmers bender and definitely used the term "fireplace wine" at least once in recent history, I was happy to see Stephen Meuse take up the torch in January's Boston Globe "Plonk of the Month" column. Meuse usually rounds up a solid number of somewhat lesser known, reasonably priced wines, from around the world (yea!). You'll never see mass-marketed items, so it is a pleasure to check out his line-up every 4th Wednesday. And I appreciate that with "plonk" wines as his focus, he describes the wines in relation to their accessible price; it's true, we are "prepared to overlook the occasional quirk [to] be amply compensated by a level of character and interest heavily marketed brands just can't deliver". See what he recommends this month here. Are you familiar with any of these already?



your local wine... and news of new technology to keep you sipping happily

If  I was back behind a desk/computer 24-7 this week, I'd likely be following the latest about the market's ups and downs and supplementing with check-ins at to see what's being said about this weekend's football match-ups and how the baseball standings are evolving.  To add a little something different to your news feed, I can't help but share two completely unrelated, wine-related news stories that caught my attention. First, if you're local to the Greater/Boston area you may be happy (and pleasantly surprised) to learn Jewell Towne Vineyards in New Hampshire recently won accolades from Joel Stein at Time Magazine. On learning each of the fifty states produces wine, Stein apparently couldn't help himself. He set out to taste wines from each state (and clarify for the American masses whether "terroir" matters. Incidentally, he did not come to any great revelations on the terroir topic - and we all know I have my own opinion...). He learned there are some good wines out there from some unsuspecting states - and some truly horrific ones. Case in point: while Jewell Towne might have figured out a thing or two regarding their Muscat, Cape Cod Winery needs to keep at it (receiving an "undrinkable" rating for their Nobska Red).

In his tongue-in-cheek review, Stein writes  the Jewell Towne's Valvin Muscat is: sweet but balanced, with some nice mineral on the finish, like a good riesling. It's not a wine that's trying too hard or is too proud of itself. It just gets the job done right. This is one of the very few wines we drank the whole bottle of. Who knew New Hampshire was better at picking grapes than Democratic nominees?

NOTE: While I don't subscribe to rating systems per se, I DO subscribe to the idea of tasting even the most unsuspecting wines, as Stein did. Only by tasting as many different wines as possible from as many different locations around the world will you learn what you do and don't prefer. This is an important process that takes time. So have at it!

Switching gears, if you're curious about the constantly evolving wine packaging/storing world and which technologies are at play, I've found another little something for you to keep an eye out. Decanter reported an Idaho company called PakSense has developed a wine label that changes color with temperature variation. This little gizmo has been adopted by folks in WTN Services in California to prevent "cooked" wine from landing in the marketplace. I can't imagine it is a perfect system given all of the moving parts involved from wine bottling initially to actually getting the wine on shelves. But it might help.

So! Here are my questions of the day for you:

Are you from a lesser-known wine-producing state? Have you tried the local offerings?

Do you think the PakSense label is worth the extra expense?