According to the New York Times, women purchase 77 percent of the wine in the United States and drink 60 percent of it. Other publications in my research have shown the percentages are closer to 55 percent and 60 percent. While these numbers are formidable, I just find that men and women shop differently for wine.
It has been very apparent in the past couple of weeks, particularly since Wine Spectator has released the almighty Top 100 Wines for 2013. Many men shop for wine much like they would shop for a car. They want to know what is under the engine, so to speak — how much it costs, is it allocated and how it is rated by all of the “experts” in the wine field. While it isn’t wrong for men to think that points and prestige are good reasons to enjoy wine, women just use different tools to select wines.
With many women, it is much more about the emotional connection. What might matter most is the story behind the wine or winemaker and how the wine can enhance their lives. They are interested in what is immediately in the bottle, and they tend to drink wine for their own pleasure, without worrying about whether a vintage is less than desirable.
To them, wine is all about passion, desire, romance, history and beauty.
Alpana Singh, at the age of 27, became the youngest woman ever to be inducted into the Court of Master Sommeliers. Her book, “Alpana Pours,” is a unique lifestyle book with wine and women as the focus. She spent five years at a four-star restaurant where she closely observed the sometimes humorous, sometimes absurd social interactions between men and women in all stages of their relationships.
Women are sensual creatures, Singh says. That gives us an advantage in understanding wine because the language of wine is often gender suggestive. Wine can be soft, velvety and smooth or regal, bold and sophisticated. But what if the bottle doesn’t have a description other than “A serious wine for intelligent people?” (I’m not kidding — his description really exists. What the heck does it mean?)
Here is where the little rating cards attached to wine shelves at your local wine shop can help. Someone has obviously “looked under the hood” on the wine and determined that it deserved a rating that is shelf tag worthy.
The 2012 Kung Foo Girl Riesling and Chateau Ste Michelle Horse Heaven Hills Sauvignon Blanc, both from Washington made Spectator’s Top 100 this year and are on store shelves right now. The 2011 A to Z Pinot Noir, 2010 Spring Valley Uriah Red Blend, 2011 Greywacke Pinot Noir and the 2010 Shafer Relentless Syrah are also available. Many more wines just missed in front of or behind the vintage date rated on the Top 100 list. For instance, the Honig 2010 cabernet sauvignon was No. 54 on the list, but we are already selling the 2011. It is the same with the 2011 La Macchiole Bolgheri. We are on the 2010 and waiting for the 2011. A good reason to try the past and new vintages, don’t you think?
My first rule when it comes to wine is to just let wine happen. Whether it is the romance or the rating, don’t overthink it and don’t be afraid of it. After all, it is only fermented juice in a bottle.
According to the New York Times, women purchase 77 percent of the wine in the United States and drink 60 percent of it. Other publications in my research have shown the percentages are closer to 55 percent and 60 percent. While these numbers are formidable, I just find that men and women shop differently for wine.
(Editor’s note: This column originally ran on Nov. 28)
It’s Turkey Time!
Thanksgiving is a day of beautiful overindulgence for our family. I brine two turkeys in massive coolers for 24 hours to get them ready for their trip into the ovens. Yes, we have two turkeys every Thanksgiving because most of us want dark meat, and the leftovers are perhaps just as important as the meal itself. When the gathering was larger, we used to roast ducks and geese as well.
As a wine shop owner, I am never worried about the food (although every year, my mother calls me very early in the morning to make sure the turkeys are in the oven), but rather what wine would go with all of those different flavors. In our family, the Thanksgiving meal is the same as it has been since I was a kid. Salty appetizers, cheese and relish trays, sweet potatoes and cranberry sauces, starchy mashed potatoes with butter and garlic, white and dark turkey meat, the obligatory green bean casserole, homemade buns and pies — lots of pies.
As I tell all of the clients who come to my wine shop, it isn’t about the turkey on Thanksgiving when it comes to choosing great wine pairings — that is more the structure or backbone of the meal. It is the plethora of sides that creates the difficulty in choosing wine for the meal.
I have several rules for Thanksgiving wine that have given me great success throughout the year. Stick with wines that have alcohol content under 14 percent, enough acidity to balance the food, low tannins and very little oak.
Two reds that rarely work with this type of Thanksgiving fare are cabernet sauvignon and merlot. The alcohol content is too high in most cases, it will taste “hot” and the tannins will take on unpleasant bitter notes. Unless prime rib is on your menu, I would avoid these varietals completely. I would also recommend staying away from big, creamy, oaky chardonnays, as they have a tendency to cling to your palate and obliterate the delicateness of the turkey, as well as tasting terrible with most of the sides.
I love to begin our gathering with a sparkling wine. Whether it is French, Italian or domestic, it is up to you and your budget. The bubbles cleanse the palate, put you in a festive mood and go with just about everything.
The white wines I love to put on a Thanksgiving table include unoaked chardonnays, preferably French, with bright acidity and a crisp lively finish. Pinot blanc, Viognier, dry rieslings and pinot gris are also wonderful options.
My go-to reds include lighter style pinot noir and beaujolais. Both of these reds have a pleasant acidity as well as bright fruit flavors that are beautiful for Thanksgiving.
A refreshing and light rosé made from syrah or pinot noir grapes is also fantastic as a bridge between white and red. If you want something a little bigger but not too over the top, a syrah or even zinfandel would fit the bill. Let me be clear — red zinfandel, not white.
Desserts like pumpkin and apple pie scream for high acid, sweet dessert wine such as a late harvest riesling or sauvignon blanc. A very simple moscato would also work well.
Raise your glass, celebrate with your loved ones, eat until you can’t eat anymore, watch a little football and worry about washing the dishes later.
Have a happy Thanksgiving!
Please give me a quarter for every time I have heard someone say, “I buy wine because of the label.” In most cases it’s meant apologetically, but studies have shown that up to 90 percent of wine purchasing decisions are made at the shelf. Most people, in fact, buy the label, not the wine.
I believe all of us are influenced by labels in our purchasing decisions. When you go shopping for wine, it might be a little like what I would imagine speed dating to be. Much like the person across the table from you, this bottle only has minutes to attract you into looking deeper at what might be inside the bottle. A leisure suit and bad comb-over probably isn’t going to rate a second glace, but a great three piece suite and nice shoes might. The same goes for wine labels.
The trend several years ago was to have bright garish labels that popped off the shelf. Usually having some kind of cute animal on the label helped capture attention and racy names provided giggles and blushes. These days we are seeing more austere labels in pleasant shades of cream and white or even completely black labels with reverse type that says “I’m a great wine, take me seriously!”
Once you’ve zeroed in on a label you find attractive, it’s time to find out a little bit about what is in the bottle. A wine label can be considered a wine’s resume of qualities that will give you the basic information about what is inside. And unlike a first date, this information is pre-approved by the U.S. Department of the Treasury Alcohol and Tobacco Tax Trade Bureau (TTB), so there are standard requirements for all domestic wine labels.
U.S. wine labels are pretty straight forward but there are some interesting rules. The varietal designation on a U.S label gives us the dominant grape used in the wine such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Chardonnay. A varietal designation on the labels means that at least 75 percent of the grapes used to make that wine are of that variety. It is very possible that your favorite Cabernet Sauvignon might have Merlot or Petite Sirah or any other grape variety blended into it to make up the remaining 25 percent of the wine!
The TTB also requires that the entire 75 percent of the grapes used to make the wine were grown in the labels appellation. An appellation is the place in which the grapes were grown such as a country (United States), State (California) or country (Sonoma). If an American Viticultural Area (AVA) is included on the label such as Napa Valley or Russian River Valley it requires that 85 percent or more of the wine was produced from grapes grown in the named area. Dizzy yet?
Let’s throw the vintage date in there as well. The vintage date on the bottle indicates the year in which the grapes were harvested. If a vintage date is shown on the label then an appellation of origin smaller than a country must also be shown. Then 85 percent of the grapes must be from that year. If an AVA such as Napa Valley is used, then the 95 percent of the grapes must come from that harvest year.
So what if you decide to buy a bottle wine because it feels good when you pick it up, it sparks your curiosity or the label is appealing? Maybe your favorite Pinot Noir has some Syrah hidden in the blend to add color and complexity? Regardless of the color of the label or what percentage of grapes come from where, it all boils down to one thing: It may look good, but will I take it on a second date?
I am a total cork dork and will fully admit that the rock stars of my world are winemakers, growers, educators and people crazy and passionate enough about wine to devote almost all of their living and breathing moments to this noble beverage.
I’ve shared dinner and a raised a few glasses of wine with Fred Dame, President of the Guild of Sommeliers Education Foundation. Dennis Cakebread and I have shared a few words on the phone, I am privileged to know Jerry Lhor and his family and Peter Seghesio has led a wine tasting dinner for me and about 40 guests. I’ve met Lynn Penner-Ashe of Oregon wine fame and have yet to succeed in getting her wine to South Dakota, but I will continue trying! Whenever I have any Argyle wines I think about meeting Rollin Soles and thinking that he looked like a Texas cowboy with his handlebar mustache and boots, but man can he makes a beautiful sparkling wine.
Last week I had another “rock star” moment with a visit by Erik Miller, owner and winemaker for Kokomo Winery in Dry Creek Valley California. He was in town for the South Dakota launch of his 2012 Kokomo Cuvée and the grand opening of Sioux Falls’ newest entertainment venue, The District. He stopped in to our store for a few hours to sample wines, sign a few bottles and to catch up while we tried several of his new releases.
Erik is a smart man, really thoughtful about his wine, fun to chat with and completely down to earth. Considering he was raised in Kokomo, Indiana I think we can include him as a Midwesterner with the rest of us. Did I say that he makes really great wine?
We started with his 2012 Chardonnay and it was just my style. Very Burgundian (meaning in the French Style) where the true nature of the Chardonnay is allowed to shine and not obliterated with heavy oak. We haven’t seen many 2012 vintages hit our shelves yet so this wine is young, but shows a racy acidity with beautiful tropical notes and gentle vanilla flavors.
All of the reds we continued to sample were 2012 vintages. I asked Erik if he was concerned that the release was too early and he admitted that it had been a gamble but the wines were showing extremely well and ready to go. These are small production wines, most of them under 1800 cases produced. I trust that Erik would never let a wine escape his control if he wasn’t fully committed to its quality. This is his promise to the retailers who support him and our customers who buy his wine.
The 2012 Pinot Noir is the perfect example of Erik’s commitment to creating complex and beautiful wine. If you read his blog (and you really should – www.kokomowinery.com) you get the inside scoop on what he does, why he does it and how we get to reap the rewards in being able to drink the finished product. Erik “builds” his wines throughout the harvest as depicted in his blog about the 2012 Pinot Noir.
“Complexity is something that we must have to separate ourselves from the larger production wines on the market. On our Peters Vineyard Pinot Noir, we had three different picks. We picked the first round of fruit at 13.6 alcohol, which left plenty of bright, vibrant acidity. This fruit yields very food friendly flavors, with less alcohol, red fruit on the nose and a more Burgundian palate. We picked the second batch of fruit at 14.4, which provides very balanced flavors. Our last pick, at 14.9 alcohol, is the “crowd pleaser” and yielded considerably fleshier fruit with riper, juicier flavors.” writes Miller.
The 2012 Kokomo Cuvée, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Malbec, Merlot, Grenache, and Petite Sirah, is still one of my favorites. This wine is great on its own and fantastic with food. I actually had a couple of glasses the night before the tasting and decanted it for an hour before drinking the second glass which really opened the flavors and aromas in this wine. The Zinfandel has super brambly flavors of dark fruit and spice. I think some barbequed/braised short ribs are in our future with this wine as its partner!
Regardless of which Kokomo wine you decide to drink (please drink them all, you won’t be disappointed) Erik has embraced South Dakota and we’ve embraced him back. Not hard considering his wine is great and he is a great guy. It must be the Midwesterner in all of us!
I was not ready for snow. We live in South Dakota and it should be a law that all winter hats, gloves mittens, boots and scarves be found, checked for fit and ready by November 1. Do you think I could find my son’s snow boots today? Nope.
As I contemplated where I could have possibly stored all of our winter gear, my gaze kept going to the window as the first snow fall of the season began to cover the ground and I realized that it was the time of year to get truly prepared for the season: Mulled wine anyone?
I’m sure there were some groans over the breakfast table at this topic, but I really do like mulled wine as long as I have control of the ingredients and it doesn’t already come prepared in the bottle. The recipe makes all of the difference in the world.
Mulled wine dates back to Roman antiquity, but it wasn’t until the 14th century that the mix of wine, fruit and spices gained its name, from an Old English word meaning “muddled.” A large amount of credit can go to Charles Dickens for elevating mulled wine into a traditional holiday drink. While mulled wine appeared in several of the novelist’s books, it was its appearance in his popular short story, A Christmas Carol, which sealed its place in Christmas culinary history. Mulled wine was also featured in the Christmas movie classic, It’s a Wonderful Life. When Clarence the Angel visits a tavern he orders: “Mulled wine, heavy on the cinnamon and light on the cloves. Off with you, me lad, and be lively!”
We have an annual broom ball party hosted by friends in our neighborhood. It is great fun as they have an ice rink in their backyard complete with boards, goals and above all helmets for all participants. You don’t have to be a hockey player to participate as evidenced by the fact that every year I get placed on a team. I bring a very large container of mulled wine to the party because if I’m going to fall on my posterior many times in one night, I want to be warm and relaxed! Just be aware that the container will take on the smell and flavor of the mulled wine so be prepared to have it become a permanent vessel for your brew.
All mulled wine recipes begin with dry red wine. I prefer Pinot Noir or Zinfandel. Many mulled wine recipes fortify the wine with brandy or port, but I don’t want to add more alcohol to the mix since I really like to have more than one mugful. Citrus fruits are added to the wine, along with spices like cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and ginger. My recipe also calls for sugar or honey to sweeten the taste.
In a non-reactive pan add 4 cups of apple cider, one 750ml dry red wine of choice and ½ to 1 cup of honey. Also add the juice of on one orange, reserving the zest for your spice pouch. Turn up the hit to a slight simmer. You do not want to boil the wine!
Cut a large square of cheese cloth and add the following ingredients: the zest of the juiced orange, 3-4 cinnamon sticks, 4-6 cloves, 3 star anise, a one inch square piece of fresh ginger and 1 whole nutmeg. Bind the cheese cloth around the above ingredients and float in the heated wine much like a tea bag. I like this method because I do not have to strain the ingredients from the liquid prior to serving. Lightly simmer for 20-25 minutes. After about 15 minutes take a sample and see where your spice and sweetness level is and you can add more honey, cider or even wine at this point to get the flavor you want. I must admit it took a couple of tries to get it right for my personal preferences. Feel free to kick it up a notch with a little brandy or orange liqueur as well.
So whether you call it mulled wine (Great Britain/America), Glogg (Sweden), Vin Chaud (France), or Glühwein (Germany), start your own tradition and raise a glass on a cold snowy day especially if you can’t find your hats or mittens.
Bogle Vineyards in California is a generational, family owned winery. While they produce over 10 types of wine they are probably most well known for their Bogle Phantom. This is a small production reserve wine the family releases prior to Halloween every year and it is eagerly awaited by Phantom collectors everywhere.
Bogle by definition according to Scottish folklore is “a freakish spirit, who delights rather to perplex and frighten mankind than either to serve or seriously to hurt them.” If you’ve ever opened a bottle of Bogle Phantom, on the cork is also a definition of Bogle. “Bogle: (bō/gol/noun.) (Scottish origin) A friendly spirit, a phantom.” Nothing like taking your last name and creating a wine with somewhat of a cult following! It is the perfect wine to release right before Halloween.
John, a friend of mine has a 10 year vertical of Bogle Phantom. This means he has at least one bottle of every vintage beginning from 2001 to present vintage. When I spoke with him about my idea for this week’s article he let me know that over the weekend he opened a 2005, 2007 and 2008 vintage of Phantom. The proof that a wine can age beautifully (even one under $20) was demonstrated when he opened the bottle of 2005. He said it was absolutely wonderful and had aged very gracefully. The 2007 was “brooding” according to John and he felt the 2008 could have sat a little bit longer but was still very good.
2010 is the current vintage and is comprised of 51% Old Vine Zinfandel, 47% Petite Sirah and 2% Mourvèdre. While these grapes are used consistently throughout all Phantom vintages, the percentages of the blend change every year. This is a very dark wine with rich concentrated flavors. Blackberry is the predominate rich fruit flavor I get with this vintage, but there are also layers of oak, tobacco and even a tiny hint of anise and there is definitely spice from the Zinfandel as well.
This wine is aged for over 2 years in American oak which intensifies the big flavors in this wine. The Bogle family takes great care with this wine and it isn’t often you see a bottle under $20 staying on oak this long and waiting two years for release into the market. While fine sipped on its own, when paired with a full-flavored and hearty meal Phantom really shines. If your kids get dark chocolate in their candy bags tonight, a few pieces with a glass of Phantom would be wonderful. Who says adults can’t have treats as well?
As my friend John realized over 10 years ago, this wine is a keeper! As the Bogles say “welcome the winery ghost into your home again with this latest vintage before it vanishes again!”
I’ve been in the wine business for more than 15 years and have made some great friends along the way. I count Fred Peterson of Peterson Winery a friend, and we are always thrilled when he makes his yearly sojourn to South Dakota to visit. Fred has been making wine for 25 years in Dry Creek Valley, which is located in Sonoma County, Calif.
Fred loves South Dakota. He has embraced our state and is a winemaker/owner who really likes to stay in touch with the people who sell his wine. He doesn’t take himself very seriously, but he makes seriously good wine. Together, with his son Jamie, they make about 24 different wines, depending on the growing season and whatever trips their trigger.
One of my favorites is the Peterson Old School Zinfandel. It is known as a field blend and includes carignane and petit sirah in the 2011 vintage. Jamie calls this wine “comfort food in a bottle.” It is full-flavored with intense blackberry flavors that are not over-the-top jammy and fruity. There is a creamy texture to this wine with nice hints of oak and a little bit of smoke. Even though it is a 2011 vintage, it is ready to drink now and goes beautifully with most food.
The Old School Zinfandel is definitely an example of Fred not taking himself very seriously. Every year, the label of this wine changes and tells a simple story. The stories are meant to entertain and amuse and encompass both the back and front label. This year’s label features an older gentleman farmer with a giant screw going through the front of his overalls. As a business owner, the story struck my fancy, and Fred gave me permission to repeat it here.
It goes like this: “The California Department of Employment, Division of Labor Standards claimed a small grape farmer was not paying proper wages to his help and sent an agent out to investigate him. Agent: I need a list of your employees and how much you pay them. Farmer: Well, there’s my hired hand. I pay him $200 a week, plus free room and board. Then there’s the clueless guy. He works about 18 hours every day and does about 90 percent of the work around here. He makes about $10 per week, pays his own room and board, and I buy him a bottle of bourbon every Saturday night so he can cope with life. He also sleeps with my wife occasionally. Agent: That’s the guy I want to talk to — the clueless one. Farmer: That would be me.”
While Fred and Jamie make a lot of red wine, they only have a few whites, and their new Peterson V3 is delicious. Fred and I share a common love of wine beginning with the letter V. Vermentino, verdejo and vernaccia are Mediterranean varietals Fred planted on one acre of land near his Bradford Mountain property. The 2012 V3 wine is the first crop harvested from these vines. These whites were blended with an equal amount of Fred’s Timber Crest Farms Sauvignon Blanc, and the resulting wine is superb.
The sauvignon blanc in the blend gives it the savory flavors and aromas of lime zest while the V varietals give it a light garden herb-type aroma with a creamy texture. The slate mineral backbone compliments the tropical fruit, and the acid gives it my favorite zing. Jamie recommends oysters, scallops, Caesar salad with anchovies and even hot artichoke dip with this wine. I love to just sip it all on its own. The Petersons only made 90 cases of this white, so supply is limited. As the vines mature, we hope they can make more in the future.
Pheasant is king in South Dakota, and with opening pheasant season upon us, it is time to think about what wine would go best with this noble bird. Growing up in South Dakota in an avid hunting family, I think I’ve eaten pheasant just about any way you can cook it — poached, roasted, Crock-Potted, grilled and baked. I’ve had it in cream sauces, wrapped in bacon, shredded in tacos and rotisseried on the grill.
As with other types of poultry, pheasant can be paired with many wines. It just depends on the preparation and the seasoning. I’ve chosen two of my favorite preparations and probably the most common ways many of us like to cook Mr. Ringneck.
It wasn’t until I was old enough to realize I actually loved to cook that I started experimenting with ways to prepare pheasant. From the time I was a small child, we only ever ate pheasant the way my grandmother made pheasant. The simple “throw the pheasant in the Crock-Pot and add cream of mushroom soup” recipe was the go-to in our family. I’m sure many of you can relate.
I still cook pheasant this way. Now, I jazz it up with more fresh herbs, portobello mushrooms, onions and whatever else happens to look good on that particular day. This is a recipe that calls for a white wine with just enough acid to cut through the richness of the cream sauce but has enough body to stand up to the fresh herbs and pheasant.
I recently had a bottle of Incognito White from Michael David Winery that was really quite lovely with this style of preparation. It is a full-bodied wine blended with 63 percent viognier, 21 percent chardonnay, 7 percent muscat, 5 percent sauvignon blanc and 4 percent rousanne. This wine has only been fermented in stainless steel, so the pure richness of the fruit and the crisp acidity cut through the fat of the cream sauce and match well with the pheasant. I also marinated the pheasant in this same wine for about four hours before I put it in the Crock-Pot, which helped immensely in making sure the pairing was good.
Pheasant is a little bird with a lot of flavor.
Red wine is also great with pheasant if you cook it the right way. I love to grill game birds. My favorite weapon of choice is our rotisserie on our Weber grill. I like to season the bird with thyme, salt, pepper and a hint of garlic all mixed in olive oil. Take it easy on the garlic as it will really kill a wine if used too liberally. Stuff the bird with more of the same herbs, and add carrots and onion to the cavity. I’ve been known to wrap the bird in several layers of bacon as well, because heck, who doesn’t like bacon?
Red blends are fantastic with a bird prepared this way, and the H3 Les Cheveaux from Columbia Crest fits the bill. The 2010 vintage received a 90 rating from Wine Spectator and is under $15. This Washington wine is 80 percent merlot, 13 percent cabernet sauvignon and 7 percent syrah. Hints of spice play off of the aromatic spices used to season the bird, while the freshness of this young wine really compliments the pheasant itself. It has a surprising richness and long finish for a wine in this price range.
Good luck if you plan to take to the field anytime soon. Be safe and bring home some birds.
October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and is a time to raise awareness about the importance of screening and the early detection of breast cancer. While one might ask why I would open my weekly wine column with this piece of information. I have an easy answer.
More than 55% of all wines purchased in the United States are purchased by women, 1 in 8 women born in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point during her life, my Mom and Mother-In-Law have both battled breast cancer and won and I sell wines that directly donate to the fight against and support in the aftermath of breast cancer.
Jerry Lohr, the founder of J. Lohr Vineyards of Napa Valley, is from South Dakota. His passion for life is contagious and his commitment to his family strong. When he lost his wife Carol to complications related to breast cancer in 2008, the Lohr family made a vow to work to curtail the impact of breast cancer in the lives of other families.
In 2009 Lohr Vineyards began the Touching Lives program and decided to donate $2 from every bottle of J. Lohr Carol’s Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon to the National Breast Cancer Foundation to provide mammograms for women in need. To date, they have funded more than 2,500 mammograms and will soon surpass the 3,000 mark.
The Carol’s Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc is a refreshing white with tropical flavors of passion fruit and light grapefruit undertones. It has a delightful zing of acidity that is perfect with fish or chicken prepared with lemons, capers and butter. A tiny bit of creaminess actually lends richness to the texture without overwhelming the true nature of Sauvignon Blanc.
The Cabernet Sauvignon from the J. Lohr Carol’s Vineyard has spent 18 months in French oak barrels, 60% of those being new. The oak lends nuttiness to the Cabernet while the fruit flavors are big and juicy with hints of black cherry. Pork loin with a demi-glace made with this same wine would be wonderful as would a grilled steak with mushrooms.
Cline Cellars is another winery dedicated to supporting those affected by breast cancer. They have partnered with Living Beyond Breast Cancer (LBBC) and donate $25,000 independent of wine sales directly to the organization. The mission of the LBBC is to connect people with trusted breast cancer information and a community of support during all phases of diagnosis, treatment and recovery.
The flagship wine in this partnership is Cline Cashmere. In fact, this is the first year that a mail-in rebate will be offered with Cline Cashmere giving the consumer the opportunity to donate $2 directly to LBBC for every bottle purchased. This is in addition to the money Cline Cellars is already donating.
Cashmere is a blend of 35% Mourvedre, 24% Syrah, 23% Grenache and 18% Petite Sirah. This is a wine that has a lot going on in the glass! It has lush flavors of raspberry and chocolate with hints of plum and spice. The color is almost black and aromas very concentrated. This wine goes with a lot of different foods including salmon, roasted pork, duck, and pheasant wrapped in bacon.
I think most of us have someone in our lives who has been affected by breast cancer. Perhaps we can do our part to support them and eradicate this insidious disease one toast and one bottle of wine at a time.
While conducting a wine tasting last week, I had a guest ask about the importance of aerating or decanting wine. Is it an important step to take on your way to sipping a glass of wine or two? Yes, I am a firm believer in both aeration and decanting wine.
The purpose of aeration and decanting is to get oxygen or air into the wine (breathing), which releases flavors and aromas. When wine comes directly out of the bottle it has what I call a “tight” profile. The wine is closed down and in its dormant state having just been released. When wine is allowed to breath and is introduced to air, it will begin to blossom and show off its true colors.
The trick to aeration or decanting is in the timing. How much time does a wine need to breathe before you can drink it? For young wines meant to be consumed immediately, a lighter style wine such as a Pinot Noir, sometimes pouring directly into a glass and swirling it around for a short while will be enough for the wine to begin opening up. For bigger bolder wines with a much dryer flavor and structure such as Cabernet Sauvignon, pouring into a decanter for a couple of hours before you drink it will help soften the tannins and expand the aromas.
For mature wines that have been cellared for a period of time (perhaps up to 10 years) an hour would be at least the starting point. Trying little sips and sniffing for aroma changes as the wine breaths will give you a good idea as to when the wine will be ready. Wines older than 10 to 15 years may have become very volatile and can begin to breakdown rather quickly once released from the bottle, so I have a tendency to pour these directly into my glass and pay close attention to the flavor and aroma while gently swirling the wine.
And while most of us might think to aerate or decant red wines, white wines will definitely show the benefits of breathing as well. It can really improve the “expression” of white wine revealing the fruity aromas that may exist layer upon layer in the wine. Chardonnay is a great example of a white that can benefit from this process. When you first open a bottle of Chardonnay you may get toasty, oaky aromas as it is poured into the glass, but decanted you may begin to detect beautiful stone fruit or tropical notes that were buried under the initial aromas of oak.
I have used the terms aeration and decanting almost interchangeably throughout this article, but they are really two different processes. Aerators are used to quickly get air to the wine. Most of them are hand held and you pour the wine from the bottle through the aerator which is positioned over your wine glass or a decanter. The wine gurgles through the aerator causing air to get through the wine quickly and with some force. Other aerators will fit into the neck of the wine bottle and accomplish the same task without tying up both of your hands.
A decanter is a vessel with a wide mouth that you decant or pour the wine into. While there are many wonderful decanters available, a glass water pitcher will work fine if you don’t have a decanter. A decanter is used when you have the time to let the wine sit for a period of time. It also serves a secondary purpose and that is to allow sediment to be separated from the wine so you don’t end of with it in your glass.
Many wines are unfiltered and occasionally you will get a bottle of wine with sediment in the bottom of the bottle. It is rather unpleasant to have it end up in the bottom of your glass so I have a wine funnel with a filtering screen in it which I place in the top of my decanter to catch sediment while I pour the wine from the bottle to the decanter.
Whichever method you decide to use, please give at least one of them a try. I think you will be very pleased with the results!