Riebeek Pinotage

If you guys are feeling adventurous and up for trying something different, see if you can track down a Pinotage. This South African cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault (also called Hermitage) is the main player in “Cape Blends”, but here in the States is more frequently found as a single varietal wine.

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How to Store Wine

With all of our discussion of wine service temperatures during these hot summer months, it also seems that wine storage is on many people’s minds.

So, what’s the right way to store wine?

Now, I’m sure we’d all love to have one of these:


And, if you are lucky enough to have the means to put in a cellar or live in a house that has one already, by all means, store your wine there. That’s amazing and fantastic and I’m insanely jealous.

But in the real world we’re not all millionaires and, more importantly, we’re not all hard core wine collectors.

So, let’s take a look at some real world guidelines for your real world wine. 

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Hot Summer Reds

Summer is officially here and with it lots of sunshine and heat. Even here in the gorgeous temperate Bay Area, we’re already seeing record temperatures. We huddle inside with the air conditioner (if you’re lucky), venturing out only once the sun goes down and there is relief.

The heat changes a lot about our behavior, especially in terms of what we eat and drink. You couldn’t pay me enough to turn on the oven these days. Even standing over the stove isn’t that appealing. So it’s all about the grill or “heatless” meals for me. And even beyond cooking methods, the style of food we want to eat when it’s hot also changes. A lasagna (even if I don’t have to turn the oven on to cook it) just isn’t appetizing when it’s a sweltering, humid 90+ outside. We turn to lighter fare: salads, cold pastas, light seafoods, cold tapas/charcuterie. Even our red meat dishes go lighter in the summer, changing from braises to burgers.

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Live: Alternative Format Discussion

As we discussed in our last post, there are several alternative formats and closures that your wine can come in. You’re probably personally familiar with most of them: synthetic corks, screw caps, cans, boxes…

You probably also have your opinions and assumptions about what these formats say about a wine. I know I do!

But what is the truth?

With the help of some of my favorite wine guinea pigs, we sat down to try some of these wines and have an honest conversation about what we thought about them.

Did our assumptions and preconceptions stand?

Join us and let me know your thoughts!

Corks, Caps and Cans

So much about wine is simple perception. We all have our own ideas about wines we perceive to be good/cheap/bad/snooty. One thing that has a big impact on these perceptions is the type of container a wine comes in.

The traditional wine format is a bottle with a natural cork. But you can also get wines in bottles with synthetic corks, screw cap bottles, boxes with bladders and even aluminum cans. Just reading about these different formats, I bet you’ve formed some opinions on the wine that comes in them.

But how much do we really know about these different formats? Why do they exist and what are their pros and cons? More importantly, are our assumptions and biases about them correct?

Let’s look into it:

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You may have noticed that I mention BALANCE pretty much in every post. That’s because balance is one of (if not THE) most important aspects of wine evaluation.

If you think back to our discussion on bad wine, you’ll understand the struggle of trying to quantify and assess a product that is so subjective.

I mean, you can’t control someone’s opinion on something. No matter how much I love a crisp, acidic, minerally Albariño, I’m never going to convert my spicy, bold, jammy Zinfandel loving friend. Not a fault of the wines. Not a fault of either of our tastes. It’s simply opinion.

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Wine Compounds: Sugar

The next compound I want to talk about is sugar. (And not just because I am majorly jonesing for any and all sweet desserts.)

Sugar is essential to making any type of alcoholic/fermented beverage, but it is also a key characteristic in choosing grapes to make wine.

Technically you can make wine from any type of fruit, but one of the reasons grapes are the most successful choice is due to the exceptionally high sugar content of their juice. Understanding how this sugar develops in a grape and then how it is used in wine making can help you quite a bit when figuring out what a wine will be like.

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