Thursday, November 20, 2008

Wine Gifts $25 or less

I was reading the Wine Spectator's 2008 Top 100 list and was surprised to find so many bottles of wine for $25 or less and that EVEN includes one in the top 10. Nice!

Here's a list of the wines from the list that are $25 or less. You can get that someone special a quality bottle of wine and NOT brake the bank. Score!

The first number represents the wine ranking within the top 100 list and the second score is the Wine Spectator score using the 100 point scale.
  • #10, 93 - Seghesio Zindandel 2007 Sonoma County, $24
  • #30, 93 - Byron Chardonnay 2005 Santa Maria Valley, $25
  • #38, 92 - Bodega Colome Malbec 2004 Toro San Roman, $25
  • #40, 91 - Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc 2008 Marlborough, $19
  • #42, 92 - Amavi Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 Walla Walla, $25
  • #44, 92 - Leasingham Riesling 2007 Clare Valley Magnus, $12
  • #51, 90 - Fattoria di Felsina Chianti Classico 2006 Berardenga, $17
  • #52, 90 - Bodegas LAN Rioja Reserva 2004, $17
  • #55, 91 - Yalumba Viognier 2007 Edna Valley, $19
  • #58, 90 - Louis Latour Marsannay 2005, $20
This is a great list. Everything is $25 or less, 90 points or higher, and there is a wonderful selection of wines to choose from, both reds and whites.

Directions for use: print this out, go to nearest favorite wine retailer, find wines on list and buy =) Don't be afraid to pick up a bottle or two for yourself!


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Amazon to Free the Grapes!

The word on the street is Amazon is going back into wine sales. Their first foray was a 30 million dollar investment in back in 2005 that basically failed, in large part, due to difficult and varied interstate wine shipping laws.

Another reason was, actually would pose as a customer and have other wine sellers ship them wine illegally and then turn that seller in to the authorities. It didn't take long for many of's customers to feel betrayed and NOT buy wine from

An organization called Free the Grapes! is trying to enact legistlation that will allow consumers to purchase directly from the wineries and retailers, i.e. no middleman/wholesaler. This will remove the many convoluted shipping laws that are keeping us from getting some great wines at great prices.

So Amazon, once again, is getting into the wine business. They will be using a company called New Vine Logistics that deals in wine fulfillment and can deliver to 45 states. Wine purchases on Amazon would even qualify for its discount shipping program, Amazon Prime, in which goods are shipped free for a yearly fee of $79. Amazon Prime is SO totally worth it for wine... SCORE!

There are many things going on behind the scenes here. Naturally the Wholesalers are lobbying for all the laws to stay the same. If they don't, they will lose a lot of business. My hope is that Amazon will use its signifacant pull to further the goals of direct-to-consumer laws.

Amazon's wine sales were supposed to be up last month some time, hopefully it will be up before the Christmas season. Keep a look out for it.


Monday, October 27, 2008

CSW Exam - Certified Specialist of Wine

I am continually studying for the Certified Specialist of Wine certification. The Tasting Room has set up access to Gallo's Wine Academy for for everyone that works for them. The first person to complete the Academy gets to take their CSW exam on TTR's dime.

I finished first, but have yet to take the test. I really should have taken the test right after completing the Academy. I will need to go through the whole Academy again as a refresher and I hope to have my CSW by the end of November.

In the mean time, here's some questions you might find on an CSW exam - answers below:
  • Where is the wine region of Mendoza located?
  • Who is the man responsible for the "Balanced Vine" theory?
  • What is a synonym for Chenin Blanc in South Africa?
  • Wine is mostly comprised of what?
  • The Los Carneros AVA is best known for which varietal of wine?
  • When did prohibition end in the USA?
  • Catarratto, Grillo and Inzolia are used to produce what fortified wine?
  • What are the two primary white grapes in Bordeaux?
  • How many aromas can humans be trained to identify?
  • Humans are most sensitive to which taste?
So these are only 10 questions of about a 1000 they can give. The actual exam is 100 questions. The questions range from viticulture to viniculture to every continent that grows wine and all the major wine growing areas within those regions. This is definitely A LOT to learn, but for me well worth it.

  • Argentina
  • Richard Smart
  • Steen
  • Water
  • Pinot Noir
  • 1933
  • Marsala
  • Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon
  • ~1000
  • bitter

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Fun Wines for Halloween

Evil CabernetVampire WinePoizin ZinfandelGhost Block Cabernet

It has been a busy month and I have neglected my beloved wine blog. So let's get this month going with a post about this time of year...

Halloween, definitely my favorite time of year. It celebrates the Autumn season with spooky fun and that brings up some interesting wines. Here's a short list of wines that come to mind:

Evil Cabernet - A full bodied fruit bomb from the irreverant Aussie's
Vampire - They make Pinot Noir, Merlot, Chardonnay and more
Poizin - From the award winning Armida winery in Sonoma
Ghost Block - "Nestled on a gently sloping knoll, Ghost Block vineyard is named in honor of Napa's pioneer winemakers who rest in a tiny 150 year old cemetery on the north edge of Yountville - the epicenter of Napa Valley"

I've personally tried the Evil Cabernet and Vampire Pinot Noir. The Evil Cab is great and the Pinot was just OK for me. Poizon and Ghost Block have gotten great reviews and I'm looking forward to trying them. I hear that getting Ghost Block is very difficult too.


Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Chenin Blanc - A Chameleon Grape

Chenin blanc is the white chameleon grape from the Loire, France, morphing and blending into its environment. In France it is known as Pineau de la Loire, in South Africa as Steen, and it is known as Pinot Blanco in Brazil, Chile, Mexico, and Argentina. Chenin's versatility stems from its high acidity. It can be used to make sweet wines, dry wines and even sparkling wines.

For an off-sweet to sweet Chenin Blanc the usual aroma and flavor profile is floral, honey suckle, honeydew or canteloupe, with a possible hint of vanilla or sweet wood.

For an off-dry to dry Chenin Blanc the usual aroma and flavor profile is apple, lime and pear with hints of vanilla and honey.

Some of the more notable places you will find Chenin Blanc are Sauternes, a desert wine usually blended with Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, Crémant de Loire sparkling wines, and Vouvray makes off-dry style of wines.

I personally knew very little about the versatility of Chenin Blanc and didn't realize how many wines it is used in. I love desert wines, so I am a fan of Sauternes. I've also tasted a Vouvray of which I also liked. If you drink whites and are looking for a new white to try, get Chenin Blanc. I think you'll enjoy it.


Monday, September 15, 2008

Ike, The Tasting Room, and Normalcy

In the aftermath of Hurricane Ike many were looking for a way to relieve stress, wanting some human interaction and above all, a sense of normalcy.

My wine bar had power and minimal damage. I thought it was crazy that my wine bar was open on Sunday for business and that my manager had asked for anyone that could work, to please come in and pick up the shift. I honestly didn't think anyone would show up, employees or Guests.

I ended up going in around 3:30 just wanting to help out if they needed it and if they didn't, I'd get online and touch base with all those not in Houston. What I saw was kind of amazing. A lot of people were there and it almost looked like any other day except for the downed trees and our broken Willow (of which all that work there, love).

I got to sling some wine, order some food and listen to what other people were going through with Ike and no power or running water. Many who were spared the worst, were hopeful and thankful. I could tell our Guests were glad to be doing something as simple as drinking a glass of wine and to just get away even if only for a half hour.

I am happy I went in to work and glad that management decided to open. It helped a lot of people to relieve a bit of stress and time to enjoy what they do have instead of dwelling on what was lost. Kudos to the The Tasting Room and all those other establishments that opened as soon as they could to help ALL of us feel a bit of Normalcy.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Two Hands Gnarly Dudes 2006

I went out with a couple of friends of mine last night. We all work at the Uptown's The Tasting Room (TTR) and when we go out, we usually drink beer so that usually means we drink at Champps.

Last night was different though, we all wanted to drink wine, but not at TTR. We chose Max's Wine Dive since we get the employee discount there (it is owned by TTR) and of course the food is goooo ooood.

We decided on the Two Hands Gnarly Dudes 2006. I've had it before and like it very much. This wine is on the more mid-range as far as price, going for about $40-50 a bottle.

It is an Australian Shiraz and is characteristic of one. It is fruit forward, good alcohol, and firm but not overpowering tannins. The fruit is dark; cherries, blueberries, with a bit of spice and hint of milk chocolate. It is supple on the tongue and has a lingering finish. A very nice bottle.


Friday, September 5, 2008

Cork or Screwcap

I want to ask you a very personal question and you don't have to answer if you don't want to. Do you prefer a natural cork, synthetic cork or a screwcap for your wine stopper?

Working at a wine bar, I have had guests that asked for a wine and when I brought it to the counter, saw that it was a screwcap, and outright refused the wine and asked for something else. I have to admit that I was anti-screwcap for awhile too.

My personal distaste for the screwcap came about not because it may affect the taste of the wine, but because I liked the tradition of uncorking a bottle of wine. It is a ritual that has been done for years and takes practice and skill. I didn't want to give that up.

So what is my current opinion now and why?
I have leaned towards screwcaps, but after reading this article I am leaning back towards natural corks. The caveat here is the cork has to come from a major producer of cork that has taken the proper steps to insure the cork's quality. The difficulty here is how do we know where the cork came from until after uncorking?

What are the natural cork issues?
Natural corks have (had) 3 main issues. A mold called Trichloroanisol (TCA for short), also called cork taint, adversely affects the flavor of wine. Oxygen ingress, the cork allowing varying amount of oxygen into the wine, was thought to affect the wine too (this has been disproven). Lastly, synthetic corks and screwcaps were introduced providing "better" alternatives to natural cork.

Do the synthetic corks and screwcaps have issues?
Yes, through scientific testing by Amorim's onsite labratory and in conjunction with the University of Bordeaux, it has been show that synthetic corks allow oxidation from the outside air (ingress) and fail to keep their seal over time. Screwcaps do not allow any air in, but that causes 'reduction' (sulphide problems) which also adversely affects the flavor of wine.

Also, these two types of bottle closures are far less "green" and eco-friendly.

On a related note... A natural cork's structure is 90% air and it does not allow any outside air in. The oxidation that occurs is only from the oxygen that is released from the cork inside the bottle.

What is Cork doing?
The cork industry acknowledged the issues and has introduced new methods to improve the quality of their cork. They've learned how to reduce and/or eliminate cork taint, the primary reason for cork's decline. They are spreading the word about how eco-friendly natural cork is and they are letting people know that the other closures have their weaknesses too.

For a very good and detailed article please read: "Cork fights back"
For more information about how and what cork is being used for check out Cork Facts. Cork interior in the Mercedes concept car!

For me, I'm glad to know that the ritual and tradition of opening a bottle of wine will be around for many years to come.


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Beaux Frères Vineyard Pinot Noir

The Beaux Frères Vineyard Pinot Noir is easily one of the best Pinot Noir's I have ever had and certainly the best this year.

These are the tasting notes from the wine maker:
This wine is deep ruby to the rim, with sweet black cherry and cassis fruit... The Willamette Valley cuvée is an up-front wine with medium to full body, beautifully pure fruit, supple tannin, and a good vibrant acidity giving the wine a freshness to go along with its fullness and palate-pleasing style.

I agree with their tasting notes and would add some ripe strawberry and a little spice to the flavor profile for the bottle we had. For those that like a fruit forward taste, easy silky tannins, and some body to their wine, this is the wine for you. It is not cheap and will cost you around $80-$100/bottle.

Definitley a wine worth saving for a special occasion.


Thursday, August 28, 2008

White Burgundy Wine

What is the white Burgundy grape? Most of you will know it as Chardonnay, in France it is called Beaunois.

In France and much of the Old World wineries, the wines are categorized by their growing region instead of their grape varietal like we do here in the US and most of the New World. So I will be speaking about the Chardonnay varietal that is grown within Burgundy, but more specifically, the popular growing areas within Burgundy.

Each of these growing areas produce wines with distinct characteristics and flavor profiles.

Chablis is easily the most known white Burgundy. It is the in the Northern most region of Burgundy. The Chablis wine is known for its dryness and crisp acidity, a flinty/mineral note, and light nose of green apple, lemon or lime.

Corton-Charlemagne wines are considered to be some of the best whites in Burgundy and are know for their distinctive fruit, cinnamon and honey flavors. These wines age well and are some of the more expensive. A well aged Charlemagne will be full bodied and have added spice, almonds and oak.

Montrachet is considered to be the greatest white wine in the world and commands the highest prices. It has an intense floral nose, which is a typical characteristic sign of a Montrachet, a full silky mouth feel, rich fruit with honey and almond notes and finishes clean and dry.

These are just 3 of the most well known whites in Burgundy. Other notables are Mâcon Blanc (or Pinot-Chardonnay-Mâcon) and Mâcon-Village and Pouilly-Fuissé.

I have not had the privilege of trying a Charlemagne, but if I ever I get a chance, I won't waste it. I love the idea of the flavors of cinnamon, honey and almonds in my wine.


Pinot Noir

A very popular varietal and rightly so. Pinot Noirs are usually light to medium bodied reds with good complexity, balance, and low to medium tannins. This makes it one of the most drinkable wines for wine noob's and enthusiasts alike.

Pinot Noir is nearly synonymous to the French growing region of Burgundy. If you are drinking a red (bonus points if you can name the White Burgundy varietal) Burgundy right now, you are drinking a Pinot Noir.

As with most wines, the Old World /New World profiles differs from each other, yet the Old World wine makers are moving to the more popular styles of the New World.

Here's what to expect in the flavor profiles:

New World Pinot Noir Flavor Profile: simple to medium complexity, fruit driven - raspberries, cherries, strawberries, light, violets, lilac, silky and supple tannins

Old World Pinot Noir Flavor Profile: complex, mushrooms, forest, earth, full bodied, incense, sandalwood, spice, moderate tannins

Pinot Noir was my favorite varietal for many years but, as you know, I have recently fallen for the Priorat. However, you can almost never go wrong with a good Pinot Noir. Food is not needed to complement it's flavor as it is an excellent stand alone wine. It is also a great wine for a group of friends who want to buy a bottle but can't decide between white or a red.


Friday, August 22, 2008

Houston Wine Events

Coming soon are some really fun wine events here in Houston. These are my two favorites, so mark your calendars! If you would like to know about local wine events in your area, sign up for The Juice and get notified by email.

Houston Cellar Classic '08
When: Monday, October 13th to Sunday, October 19th
Cost: $20 to $250 - For details see the Featured Wine Events

This event is mostly hosted by Uptown Park's The Tasting Room and also inlcudes the other TTR locations and of course Max's Wine Dive (which is owned by TTR incase you didn't know). There will be many events you can attend including Sommelier Smackdown, VIP Reserve Room Wine Tasting, and Sunday Jazz Brunch Buffet.

The event that I will DEFINITELY ATTEND is the Grand Tasting Experience held on Saturday, October 18th from 1pm to 5pm with a cost of $55 (last year it was $75). This event was a total BLAST with more than 100+ wines to taste, 18+ of Houston's own restaurants, and live music.

This event sets itself apart from any other wine tasting event because of the quality of wine and the quality of all the food you will get to sample. For $55, you will definitely get your money's worth, and hopefully get to taste and learn about some new wines. Get your tickets early and I'll see you there!

Wineapalooza '08
When: Sunday, September 28th - 2pm to 8pm
Cost: $50 (Last year it was $35)
Wineapalooza is an event at The Corkscrew and has sold out every year. The space is limited so get your tickets early! It is very fun and large wine tasting that includes good food and fun live band music. There will be more than 100+ wines to taste ranging from $8 bottles to $150+ bottles of wine. A note for Champagne lovers, the sparkling wines always go first.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Shiraz or Syrah

Shiraz is what the Australians call Syrah. Australians also used to call it Hermitage, but that is a French protected name of origin. We'll just call it the "love child".

The origins of Syrah were a mystery until recently when science discovered that Syrah is the love child of Dureza, a red grape and Mondeuse Blanche, a white grape.

Shiraz and Syrah are the same varietal and are dark skinned and used to make some powerful wines. The most notable regions for this varietal are Rhône, France, Australia, and the United States of America.

Hermitage and Côte-Rôtie are some of the famous French wines that are produced from Syrah, the primary grape in the Northern Rhone.

In Australia, it was the Penfold's Grange that became world famous. It used to be labled as Penfold's Grange Hermitage, but as mentioned before, "Hermitage" is a French protected name of origin. Only wines from Hermitage can have that label.

The flavor profile for Old World vs. New World Syrah are fairly distinct.

Old World Syrah Flavor Profile: black/white pepper, lavender, rosemary, musk, game, bitter chocolate

New World Syrah/Shiraz Flavor Profile: blackberry jam, vanilla bean, baked earth, smoke, chocolate

Honestly, I don't think I have ever come across a Syrah I didn't like. The tannins are firm but not harsh which makes for easy drinking and a good foil to this usually intense wine.


Saturday, August 16, 2008

Pinot Grigio aka Pinto Gris

Pinot Grigio/Gris is one of the most popular white wines we serve and is perfect for Houston's hot Summer nights.

Pinot means "pinecone" in French and Gris means "Gray" in French. The grapes grow in a pinecone shaped cluster and they have a grayish hue to them. This grape is thought to be a mutant of the famous Pinot Noir grape.

Pinot Grigio's come from Italy and are light, crisp, and clean. It has a high acid content which allows it to pair nicely with tomato based dishes. They can be vinified dry to sweet but generally are on the dry side with some flint and steel, lemon verbana and green apple flavors.

Pinot Gris grows in many parts of the world but the standard of excellence is usually from Alsace, France. Alsace's cool climate and warm volcanic soils allow long hang times for this varietal. The long hang time produces a style of Pinot Gris that is round, supple, and light to medium bodied. This wine will also be low acid with flavors of buttered almond, yellow apple, minerals and nuts.


Thursday, August 14, 2008


Priorat is a DOCa wine region in Catalonia, Spain. Their most sought after and popular wines are the inky black reds that can be made from Garnacha (Grenache), Cabernet Sauvignon, Cariñena, Syrah and Merlot. This varietal grows in the region's unique black soils known as llicorella (slate-and-quartzite aka schiste) and steeply terraced vineyards.

The growing conditions are harsh, the yeilds are small and the result is intense, minerally reds with concentrated fruit flavors. The growing conditions have also fostered new wine making practices and many feel these are the best produced wines in Spain. These wines are definitely the most elite and expensive wines in Spain.

I had the opportunity to taste my first Priorat, from Clos Erasmus, for the first time last night. We carry this at The Tasting Room. I have to agree with everything I have learned about the wine from this region. It was the most luscious, concentrated and well balanced wine that I have had in a very long time.


Monday, August 11, 2008


Most people believe riesling is a sweet wine, but this varietal can be made from dry to sweet. It has also been know to be made effervescent.

I really like rieslings and it is my preferred white wine. This varietal comes in so many different styles and you can almost always find one to fit your mood.

Riesling's most popular profile includes a strong floral and apple like aroma with hints of minerals. You may sometimes even smell a faint petroleum or kerosene scent. It has flavors of apple, pear, apricot, flint and minerals.

Rieslings can be styled differently because it is one of the varietals that can grow in both cooler and warmer weather. Here are the style profiles for the cool climate and warm climate rieslings.

Riesling Cool Climate flavor profile: lean, reserved, light bodied, crispy, tangy, high acid, apricot, green apples, and dry to sweet

Riesling Warm Climate flavor profile: opulent, full bodied, low acid, tropical notes, lychee nuts, and dry to sweet.

Come over to the Tasting Room and try the dry riesling from Pewsey Vale and then try the Leitz which will be a much sweeter counter part.


Friday, August 8, 2008


Lambrusco is both a region and a grape varietal. The region is located in Northern Italy and the wine used to be very popular in the US. The wine was made in the amabile , meaning sweet, and frizzante, meaning semi-sparkling, style. It eventually fell out of favor as a "soda pop" wine.

There are still quality Lambruscos being made and they usually come from the Emilia-Romangna. They are frizzante but are made in a secco, meaning dry, style. This Lambrusco will have flavors of dried cherries and notes of strawberry. They come in both white and rose styles too.

These are also made in the traditional way sparkling wines are made in France called Methode Champenoise. This means they are fermented twice and the second time will be in the bottle.

I have not had a chance to try a Lambrusco, but I am definitely looking forward to it.


Thursday, August 7, 2008

Cabernet Sauvignon

The Cabernet Sauvignon grape is probably the most popular grape in the world. It is a cross between the Cabernet Franc grape and the Sauvignon Blanc grape. It is prized for its consistent structure and flavors and its ease of cultivation.

The most popular and prized Cabernets come from the Bordeaux region of France and the Stag's Leap district of California. This varietal also has flavors based on the Old World Style and the New World Style.

Cabernet Sauvignon Old World style flavor prophile: Herbs, earth, cassis, red/black currant, mocha, cedar scented, tobacco, black peppercorn, strong tannins.

Cabernet Sauvignon New World style flavor profile: Fruit driven, cherries, cassis, milk chocolate, oak scented, vanilla, eucalyptus or mint, strong tannins.

New world Cabs are produced and bottle for nearly immediate consumption. Old world Cabs are produced for bottled aging, although the wine drinkers of the world are buying wines that they can consume immediately. The old world wine producers have responded to the demand and it is now more difficult to differentiate the Old and New world Cabs.

My current favorite Cabs actually come from Washington State's Columbia Valley. They are a mix of both the New world and Old world flavors: Cassis, cedar, vanilla and medium tannins. Give the Cab from the Barnard Griffin winery a try some time.


Fetish Wines 2005 Playmates

We just recently brought this wine into our stores. It is a classic French Southern Rhone blend of Grenache, Shiraz, and Mataro but made in the Barossa Valley of Australia. Wait. What? Isn't the Southern Rhone blend Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre? You are absolutely correct!

Mataro is what the Australian's call Mourvedre and Shiraz is what the Australian's call Syrah. This wine is classic New World with the Aussie's love of fruit with a good balance of alcohol and tannins.

A deep hued wine with nice dark berries and cherries, a hint of vanilla, and spice. It has a good mid palate, nice balance, and a lingering finish. All of this along with the wine label definitely makes this a sexy wine. Very nice!


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Old World and New World Wines

When talking about wine, what exactly does old world or new world mean?

It's simple. Nearly everything in Europe is considered Old World. This includes France, Spain, Italy, Germany etc.

New World is anything not in the Old World: USA, Chile, Australia, etc.

Yep, its that simple.

But why the distinction you ask? Well the two styles are were very different in flavor profiles. The old world embraced terroir (the local climate, soil, and environment) and their wines were meant to age in the bottle before consumption. Their wine making techniques are also very traditional and rarely changed. Because of this, their wines took on the flavors earthy flavors of terroir: minerals, flinty, leather, tobacco, earth, mushrooms, slate etc.

Currently, the majority of consumers prefer wines made in the new world style and many old world vineyards have been producing new world style type wines.

New world wines are made to be fruit forward and to consumed immediately. New world wine making is not steeped in stodgy traditions and they are usually free to try many new techniques to produce the best wine. The new world has recently begun to pay attention to terroir in their wine making process like the old world has done for decades.

I prefer new world wines myself, but I have tasted some amazing old world wines too. I especially like the flavors of cedar, leather and cigar box (humidor). The minerals and slate from some Chablis I have had are quite good too.


For my very first wine profile I chose the ubiquitous varietal, Chardonnay.
Chardonnay is rarely my first choice, but I like it. It is usually full bodied, off-dry, with notes of pineapple, apple, and vanilla. I usually drink Chardonnay from California.

Below are the typical flavor profiles for Chardonnay and I have also broken them down into Old World style and New World style.

Chardonnay New World style flavor profile: banana, pineapple, apple pie/cobbler, butterscotch, caramel, toast, burnt sugar, vanilla, ginger, nutmeg, a lot of oak, low acid

Chardonnay Old World style flavor profile: lemon, grapefruit, granny smith apple, butter, nuts, honey, minerals, flint, little wood, high acid

Here's a fun little game you can play the next time you are out for a glass of wine. Find out if you can get both an old world and new world chardonnay and don't let the server tell you which is which. See if you can identify the flavor profile and pick the old world vs the new world chardonnay based solely on smell/visual/flavor.

Feel free to check out some of the history and background of chardonnay too.


Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Bottle Shock Review

This movie is based on the true story of the 1976 battle of the wines AKA the Paris wine tasting of 1976 and AKA "Judgment of Paris". The 800 pound gorilla with their years of wine making knowledge and tradition, France versus the fledgling hick, cowboy, upstarts with their radical wine making techniques, the USA (California specifically).

The headliners for this film are Bill Pullman, Alan Rickman, Dennis Farina and Eliza Dushku. All of the actors were great and convincing. This movie is fun to watch with many comedic moments and the story will pull you in. Alan Rickman was far and away the best part of the movie and Dennis Farina was a great foil to Alan.

If you're a wine lover you'll know that this event is what put California on the map in the wine world. If you're not a wine lover, you'll still love the story. Who doesn't like an underdog? Go see Bottle Shock!


Monday, August 4, 2008

How to describe a wine

I manage part time at a wine bar here in Houston, Uptown Park's The Tasting Room. We generally sell 12-15 wines by the glass. We break the choices down into red, white, sparkling, dessert, and a usually a couple of Sommelier Picks.

When describing a wine you generally want to talk about 3 things:
  • Body - light, medium, full
  • Sweetness (or lack of) - sweet, off-sweet, off-dry, dry
  • Flavor - usually fruits but can include many other flavors too like herbs and spices too
If you know these 3 things about a wine, you can pretty much describe any wine in the world and the person you are describing it to will be able to tell if they'd like that particular wine.

Grapes, Wine and their Flavor Prophiles

As you may know, the same grape that is used to produce a wine can taste drastically different depending on how, when and even where that wine was produced. There are many factors that can determine the flavor profile of a wine:

  • Old World or New World
  • Oaked or unoaked
  • Cool climate or warm climate
  • Residual sugar or not
  • Hang time short to long
  • Fortified or not
  • Soil Type
  • Fermentation process

In the future I will be posting specific varietals (the grape) and their flavor profiles.