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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.


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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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!



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!  


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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5 Reasons You Should Use a Decanter - Everyday!

Have you ever thought about the phrase "all bottled up" and considered what actually being all bottled up would feel like? No air. No space. No ability to express yourself, to evolve... It's no way to be!


Like us, wine just wants to be free. Fortunately, every time you uncork a bottle you issue a ticket to freedom; pouring the wine into a glass offers additional love - granting your wine an upgrade from Coach to Business Class where there's substantially more legroom.

But even in Business Class the plane still smells a little funky, right?

What if you could let your wine take big BIG breaths, not just stretch its legs but run around, dance even to its destination? What if we told you - YOU CAN - EASILY!

By using a decanter.

A decanter is not only the most comfortable, spacious way for wine (of all colors!) to travel, but a time machine that delivers the adventure of a lifetime - and YOU get to go, too!

Here are 5 Reasons why you should be using a decanter every single time you uncork (or de-cap!) a bottle of wine:

1. A decanter lets wines breathe - aiding your sensory experience.

After all that time pent up in the bottle, wine needs a hot minute to collect itself, find its voice, and sing. A decanter provides additional surface area for a wine to do so, allowing it to interact with oxygen and open up more quickly. You'll notice a difference first on the nose: a) oxygen allows a wine's bouquet to emerge, and b) any 'pent up' gasses or funk can blow off well before you get a whiff - ESPECIALLY key when you're dealing with a wine with an uber-tight, screw cap closure and the natural, but no less off-putting rotten smell of mercaptans have had no chance of escape. (It never hurts to crack 'n decant all wines with screw caps!) Meanwhile, more structured, or tannic wines appreciate the massage oxygen imparts, softening the wine's edges to deliver a smoother, more silky palate experience.

2. A decanter helps get wine to appropriate serving temperature - whether it is too warm OR too cold to start.

The key to getting wine to the right temperature is to separate the wine itself from the 'insulating' bottle. If a wine is too warm, you can chill your decanter by sticking it in the fridge empty, or giving it a quick ice bath (carefully, to avoid any water getting inside the decanter). Once you pour the wine into the chilled decanter the wine will cool down. If your wine is too cold, pour it into the room temperature decanter; it'll warm up faster!

3. A decanter is a great tool to separate sediment from the wine - and you don't need to be fussy about it.

Sediment won't harm you - it's like the wine's marinade, so finding it in the bottom of the bottle is never a bad thing. But finding it in the bottom of your glass isn't so great. Sediment tends to be a bit bitter tasting and the chunks are off-putting in their own right. You don't need to go overboard on the pomp and circumstance to separate (or decant) the wine from the sediment either. If you stored the wine laying down, stand the wine up for a bit so the sediment can collect at the bottom of the bottle before you open it. When you are ready to open the wine, pull the cork and then use a cloth to clean out any sediment that may have collected along the neck of the bottle. Next, pour 5/6ths of the wine slowly into the decanter. Refrain from pouring the last 1/6th of wine into the decanter so none of the sediment gets transferred into your clean decanter. Mission accomplished!

4. A decanter benefits young and INexpensive wines the most - allowing them a worthwhile trip into the future.

While older wines may throw sediment thereby requiring decanting, the truth is that younger wines actually need the air the most. Aged wines have already enjoyed very slow exposure to air, via the cork, over time. Younger, fresh wines need the help to evolve or mature. Give these 'kids' half a chance to grow up and make you proud - put them in your time machine!

5. A decanter is color blind - white and red grapes are still grapes!

All of the reasons to decant above apply to wines of all colors - red, white, orange and rose. All wine styles are oxygen-loving, deserving of the ideal temperature to best strut their stuff, and ready for separation from their longtime bottle-neighbor Mr. Sediment. So issue them their deserved travel Visas and set them free!

Not inclined to open and finish an entire bottle every night? No worries. You can still decant what you DO plan to consume and then store the open bottle as usual. The next day you can give your decanter the night off and just enjoy the spoils!

PRO TIP.  To clean a decanter you just need very hot water. Rebecca typically soaks her decanter over-night so the residual wine doesn't have a chance to collect and dry on the bottom; the next morning she dumps the water out, dries it with a micro-fiber cloth (so finger prints get whisked away) and drops in this awesome gadget to soak up the residual water; it takes her about 1 minute before bed and 2 minutes the next morning. #worthit

Don't own a decanter but curious and eager to get started? Try a glass water carafe or even a mason jar!

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The Sound of Wine: Your 'Gateway Sense' & Meghan Trainor


Sound could very well be your 'Gateway Sense' to higher level wine enjoyment. There. Someone said it. Sure, smell and taste are pretty dang important when it comes to wine enjoyment and taking your experience to another level. (So important, in fact, we promise to circle back to these in another post.) But sound has two critical things on its fellow senses, Smell and Taste:

1.sound cues how we feel2.sound is something that, for 95% of the population, is easily accessible

And when it comes to wine there's a lot to be heard.

With the audacious pop!of a cork, the squeak, squeak, squeak, tap-pull-pop!of a still wine being uncorked or the clink! of glasses joining forces, a certain ambiance is being created, and your mood is impacted as a result. Perhaps there is also a low murmur humming around the restaurant - things feel additionally romantic. If the sound of activity in the kitchen is playing out, there's an air of anticipation. If friends are laughing and carrying on, a festive note rings true. You know we're right: ambiance matters and sound plays a large role in creating it.

Ok - you've got the basics. Let's dial things up a notch!

Recently we were listening to a Pandora-curated music flight in the office. Mostly we were working along seamlessly without thinking about what was playing. But when Meghan Trainor carried out over the air waves with her brand new "Close Your Eyes" hit, we looked up from our work. She may not be legally old enough to be enjoying a glass of wine (in the USA anyway), but Meghan Trainor had just burst into the office with a perspective all her own.

Behind her catchy modern pop style, her back-up is bringing the thunder of old school sounds; her music could also rock it in a 1950's malt shop. Trainor's blend of old and new, new and old, has an historic sensibility, yet is lively and fresh. 

Maybe we're just a big bunch of wine nerds, but from our perspective, Meghan Trainor's pouring some fun stuff! We recommend tuning the dial to Trainor - because here's what she inspired us to uncork when we did:

"everybody is born to be different"Ever tried a white wine from the Jura (France)? There the local white grape Savagnin is one to behold - wild, captivating, funky, nutty and familiar all at once. You can make analogies, but like Trainor's blended style, the real Jura stands alone.

"I got that boom boom that all the boys chase and all the right junk in all the right places"   Ever tried Chilean Carmenere? How about one from a select vineyard site, where the attention to detail is mind-bottling? Whow-sah. When done well, these wines have a refined earthy complexity more reminiscent of fine Bordeaux than flashy, fruit-forward, New World wines playing dress up. Such a wine experience is - boom! - spot on.

Maybe Trainor's not your thing, that's cool. But next time you are thinking about engaging in a little squeak, squeak, squeak, tap-pull-pop! throw on some tunes first. See what strikes your fancy. Your glass will be 1/2 full in no time! And then you'll be in the right mood to let your mind wander as you sniff and taste what's in your glass - but more on that in due course!