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The Wino Club In Entrepreneur Magazine

We've been busy here at The Wino Club... see us in the November issue of Entrepreneur Magazine. There's a great picture of us in the print article so check it out but we've included it here just so those readers who are more digitally inclined can enjoy the whole experience - it is a darn good picture and we wouldn't want anyone to miss it.

read the article on line, click here: The Wino Club in Entrepreneur Magazine.

In the next couple of weeks we will be posting a TV interview we did on KZSW as well. Told you we've been busy!

Wine Tasting: Grenache Grows Up

We're taking a detour in our wine tasting at The Wino Club in November from talking about Rhone wines to jumping into Grenache. Now the departure is not a great one, since all Rhone wines contain some Grenache, sometimes up to 80%. However, Rhone wines tend to look at this grape as a blender, used to either compliment other varietals or if alone as a nice dry rose.

We have another opinion. Grenache is bold and strong without overpowering the palette. It has enough to sink your teeth into without hitting you over the head. Grenache is so much more than a blending wine and is our new favorite stand-alone varietal - sorry Red Zinfandel.

It all happened by lucky accident and a bargain shopping find. Our personal Wino Club was doing a special tasting of wines of Australia with specific instructions to avoid the traditional Shiraz. I was searching for my pick when I came across a store that was closing and everything inside was half off, including the wine. You don't have to tell me twice! I had a shopping cart filled up in no time. There was one bottle I picked up just because it made me laugh and it was inexpensive enough to buy as a joke ($5 on sale). It is a wine called Bi@#h (I'm not spelling it out because it's not a nice word). It had a pretty pink label and looked novelty for sure. It also happened to hail from Australia and incidentally was 100% Grenache.

Well this little wine went up against 13 bottles worth $17 and up and won. And not just won but was the first wine ever to be voted for nearly unanimously by all 15 women in attendance, all of whom have very different palettes. We were onto something.

Grenache happens to be the most widely planted grape varietal in the world. It is low in tannins and pale in color with a nice soft pinkish-purple hue. If picked early it is used to make rose wines. If allowed to ripen slowly in a hot and dry terrain then it turns into a soft yet spicy wine with a relatively high alcohol content of around 15% competing against Red Zinfandel. Yet unlike Zinfandel, found only in California where oak prevails, Grenache originated in Spain and then moved to be a major grape in France, Australia and yes, California as well.

As a stand alone wine it is full bodied, juicy and earthy. It has a beautiful berry jam start with nice heat and earthiness on the back end. As a blending wine, it offers a backbone to harsher varietals, lending low acid and low tannis for balance.

Wine Tasting: Grenache Tasting Tips

Look for the following flavors or scents when tasting Grenache:

Spice Black Currant Dried Fruit Pepper
Earth Warm Flesh Dried Apricot Vanilla Sweet Wood
Blackberry Smoke Toast Tobacco Cherry Raisin
Menthol Blueberry Boysenberry Plum


Wine Tasting: Super Tuscan or Chianti?

I admit it. Chianti brings to mind straw covered bottles with dripping wax candles glowing in them on a table covered with a red checkered cloth. Right? It is not a quality wine that comes to mind. That's not to say that there aren't some fine Chiantis now, but is there a difference between a Chianti and a Super Tuscan?

Chianti has a very interesting history, moving from the bastardized blend of red and white grapes in the 1970's into a wine made almost entirely from Sangiovese, changing the laws requiring white grapes to be used in the Chianti formula. The new laws provide a 15% blend of red grapes outside of Sangiovese. It is still a struggle by wine makers to decide whether to label their blend wines as a Super Tuscan or a Chianti.

Super Tuscans really do try to appeal to a more International palette. They tend to be big, bold and have a new oak flavor. These wines are not 'drink with spaghetti' style wines. They are not even what I would peg as an old world flavor due to their lack of subtlety. However a good Super Tuscan can be a great blend that I personally love sipping on when the evenings just start to turn crisp.

A traditional Chianti is meant for eating. True to the Italian lifestyle, this wine lends itself to food, thus it's drinkability and reputation as a spaghetti wine. It is high in acid, balancing out the tomato sauce, and low on tannins. It is actually compared more with a Pinot Noir than a Cabernet Sauvignon.

The blends are about the same for both wines so I guess your preference really comes down to what you need your wine to function as. If you're sitting around drinking with friends, reach for the Super Tuscan. If it's a family dinner with wine, pull out a Chianti. Either way, I don't think you'll be disappointed. Some of the Chianti's even come in the straw bottles if you're so inclined.

Wine Tasting for A Cause

It's October and that Means Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Buy The Wino Club Party Kit today and a portion of the proceeds will go directly to Michelle's Place, a breast cancer resource center supporting women under 40 so often ignored in the fight against breast cancer.

Go to The Wino Club for your kit today and help save a life!

Sangiovese Wine Tasting Tips

Sangiovese wine is all about tasting the rustic and savory flavors of earth. Look for the following flavors or scents when tasting Sangiovese:

Fresh Cherry Sun Baked Earth Spice Clove

Licorice Thyme Wood Toast Dried Orange Peel

Leather Chocolate Dried Cherry Sour Cherry


Buy Wine Now

I was reading the local paper and there was an article in the finance section entitled "Autumn Bargains". I love shopping. I can spend all day looking through stores so the name of the article was the first thing to entice me. What intrigued me further though was that the author, Marshall Loeb, took the art of shopping to a new level.

Shopping is a cyclical sport. For instance, in Southern California, buyers send us fall clothes in August when it is 100 degrees outside - like a nice wool sweater looks even remotely tempting. However, all of the cute summer clothes go on clearance and we can still wear them for several months. Makes sense right? That's the premise of the article.

In a nut shell, September is a great time to buy cars, holiday airfare and, yes WINE. The reasoning for the wine went :

"Last year's harvest begins arriving in stores in September. Because of the surplus of vino, winemakers face heavy competition and bottles tend to be priced to sell"
Intrigued, I found that BevMo has started their 5 cent sale and my local wine shops also seem to have some bargains. I don't know if I will remember the cycle next year, but I am excited that October is a great month to buy jeans and November to buy sneakers and wedding gowns.

It was an odd little article but it comes down to this - look around at your favorite wine stores right now and it's possible that you might find some bargains. I wonder if there's a tequila or beer season too?


Wine Tasting: Wine Fights Kidney Cancer

Wine tasters everywhere rejoice when reports come out about the fabulous health benefits of drinking wine. I am no exception. Darcy and I are both very involved in the fight against cancer and spend a good deal of time volunteering for various cancer organizations. In fact, part of the proceeds from the sale of The Wino Clubtm Wine Tasting Party Kit go directly to Michelle's Place, a breast cancer resource center helping women under 40 who are otherwise ignored in the fight against breast cancer.

That said, we are especially aware of any reports we find correlating the benefits of wine in relation to cancer. We've determined in our most non-scientific way that wine is cancer fighting gold and you should consume as much as possible of it.

According to the British Journal of Cancer:

STOCKHOLM, Sweden, Aug. 25 Drinking wine or beer may reduce the risk of kidney cancer, a Swedish study found.

Researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm surveyed 855 kidney cancer patients and a control group of 1,204 people, The Local reported. The study found that people who drink 22 ounces of alcohol a week are 40 percent less likely to develop kidney cancer.

Professor Alicja Wolk said consuming at least two glasses of red wine each week -- or the equivalent of white wine or beer -- appears to have a beneficial effect.
So go ahead. Drink up. O.K., 22 oz a week isn't a full weekend of debauchery, but it's a good start! We figure that if at 22oz a week our odds are 60%, then if we drink more the odds of getting cancer, at least of the kidney variety, go down proportionally. Makes perfect sense to us.


Wine Tasting with the NRA

This is one of those ideas that just odd enough that I had to stop and re-read it several times in the Press Democrat. The National Rifle Association has launched a monthly wine club (NRA Wine Club) to help raise lobbying funds to bear arms. Their tag line is "Now you can support the 2nd amendment with every wine you buy". They are also touting that their wine club seeks out the boutique wineries in California that aren't readily available or accessible.

Now no press is bad press and I'm sure that I am helping their cause just by linking to their club here, but I'm a little concerned that we have a portion of our society purposely combining alcohol and firearms. As a marketer however, I think it's just plain, well, smart. The idea might turn me off personally but you just have to appreciate the simple genius. Martha Stewart brand wine. Single portion bottles. Wine tasting at Disney World. Wine competitions at fairs. None of these things would be automatically paired up in my brain. And yet someone thought of an idea and had the gumption to follow through.

This type of fund raising will work on a National level and will have a huge grass roots following from NRA supporters. It will also help out some of the smaller wineries here in California. Disturbingly, it's actually a win-win.


Sideways Clip for Wine Presentation

While the techniques aren't perfect here (put your nose a little further from the side of the glass so you can smell more than alcohol), it really does look a lot like our wine tasting club! Except that we're a lot cuter. See our club consists of both experienced wine drinkers and novices. We do teach each other techniques and tricks and yes, I have confiscated gum from some of them as well. This post is just for the fun of it so enjoy!

Wine Tasting: Scientific Proof That Your Nose Lies

Ok - we all do it when we taste wine properly: we stick our noses right on that glass and smell. Right? That's our introduction to the wine, the first step in learning more about it and deciding to have a romance or a spit (the horror). Well according to an article posted in the Telegraph UK, scientists have decided that wine tasters are, well, full of it.

But now there is scientific evidence to suggest that wine buffs may just be talking rubbish, or at least that they greatly overestimate their own ability to pin down a wine's particular aroma.

Today a US team publishes hard evidence that people smell the world differently because of their genes.

The findings suggest that those who claim to pick up rich aromas from fine wines may owe more to genetics than to any great expertise.

Now I admit that when our friends are tasting wines together, we suggest scents to each other and then we can smell them. But to say that wine tasting is subjective? Absurd! OK not really.

Any wine taster of merit will admit that one person's palette differs from another. Why would our noses be any different. The best part of wine is that whatever we think about a wine is correct! It adds to the experience.

Perhaps another quote from the article states it best:

The Telegraph's wine buff, Jonathan Ray, commented: "Shock horror! So there is scientific proof that wine lovers talk rubbish. Doesn't everyone after a glass or two?

"How does one describe what scrambled eggs tastes like, or smoke smells like, without comparing them to something else? So it is that we wine lovers might describe a wine as tasting of truffles, leather, game and rotting veg. Well, dammit, that's what old red burgundy often resembles. It certainly doesn't taste of grapes."

Therefore, I'm not too concerned that scientists say we're full of rubbish. That's the point isn't it?

To read the whole article, go here.


Wine Tasting: Birthday Wishes

Here is my wine tasting wish for my birthday. You see, it's my birthday today and I'm so excited. I always make a point of letting everyone know that it's my birthday well in advance so sorry for the late notice. It's a courtesy really to make sure people know how many shopping days are left but this present to me will be free.

This year I am asking for some certificates for the local wine shops so I can stock up on some great wines. Now my taste is not expensive but it is refined. I understand that you can get some beautiful wines on a budget (remember Spainish wines under $10?).

So here's what I'm asking you for: If you had a budget of let's say $100 and you wanted to get some great wines for drinking - not storing because I don't have the patience for that, what would you buy?

Post up your comments because I could use a little help here and I'll consider your contributions a perfect birthday present!

Thanks and Happy Birthday to Me!


Wine Tasting: International Awards

Can you image tasting 9,358 wines from around the world? Well that's just what the judging panels did at the world's largest blind wine tasting contest. What made this contest rather unique was that the winners were not always from the categories you usually associate with major contests. There was for the first time a sake winner, a long debated wine category. They had a special category touting three trophies dubbed IWC Planet Earth awards: champion of sustainable, one of organic and one of biodynamic. These winemakers not only produce fine wine but also put the planet at the heart of their wine making activity.

So, without much ado, the winners were:

  • Champion Red and Champion Sustainable: Bald Hills Pinot Noir 2005, Bald Hills Vineyard, New Zealand.
  • Champion White: Beaune Clos des Mouches Premier Cru 2005, Chanson Père et Fils, France.
  • Champion Sparkling (Daniel Thibault Trophy): Charles Heidsieck, Champagne Charlie 1981, Champagnes P & C Heidsieck, France.
  • Champion Sweet: Vin Santo di Capezzana 2000, Capezzana, Italy.
  • Champion Fortified: Lustau Almacenista Fino del Puerto Cuesta, Emilio Lustau, Spain.
  • Champion Sake: Tsurunosato 2005, Kikuhime & Co Ltd, Japan.
  • Champion Organic: Hans Tschida, Sämling Trockenbeerenauslese 2005, Austria.
  • Champion Biodynamic: Champagne Fleury Millésime 1996, France.
While I don't have a list of all the wines entered, I did notice that there is a lack of American wines (both North and South). And instead of pinning in in the whites, New Zealand won for both the Champion Red and the Champion Sustainable. Interesting.... That may be the one wine I look up to purchase on this list, although I am a sucker for the white champion as well. OK, maybe one of each although I would like to taste the sake. OK I need to stop now before my cellar gets over full again.

For more information on the contest results, click here.

The Wino Club: Wine Tasting Party Kit in the News

We have fantastic news. Our wine tasting party kit, The Wino Club, is going to be in 'Entrepreneur Magazine' in November (so it should be coming out sometime next month in October). We are so thrilled that a magazine of this caliber deems us worthy of even mentioning. I have to say that I have been reading this magazine faithfully for some time. Every single issue is dog-eared on almost every page with good ideas to build a business or things I personally want to check out.

So when we were contacted by them to be featured a couple of months ago, oh my gosh! Our wine tasting party kit has only been in production for a year (Happy Anniversary!). We're doing great on word of mouth sales, selling to friends and friends of friends around the country - a truly grass roots campaign. We've been picked up wholesale in several stores and wineries and have made it to Amazon.

Selling a product is just so much different than the service industry. My business partner Darcy is by day a Financial Advisor with Smith Barney and I am by day a Reverse Mortgage Specialist. Designing and making these kits was a labor of love for us. We based them on our own personal wine tasting club who has been meeting every month for several years now. We packaged up our proven formula for success for sale. Funny thing is, we made it to help our club get a little smaller because everyone started wanting to join. It was a defensive maneuver to help others make their own clubs so we wouldn't have to taste 20+ wines each month!

We had the final fact checking done yesterday by the editing department at 'Entrepreneur Magazine'. I called Darcy after I got off the phone and said, "Wow, it's really happening!".

When it comes out we'll be sure to post the links so everyone can go give it a visit and say 'I knew them when...".


Wine Tasting: Brits Gone Wild?

With all of the tasting posts going up throughout the wine blog-o-sphere about wine tasting gone wildthis summer, first about New York, then about my hometown of Temecula, I thought I'd toss this one into the mix. It seems that British teenagers, specifically girls have been hitting the sauce earlier and earlier. Girls as young as 12 are being diagnosed as alcoholics with cirrhosis of the liver.

In fact, one in five 15-year-olds in England drinks at least seven units of alcohol a week - the equivalent of almost a bottle of wine. In some parts of the country one in eight 12-year-olds is drinking this heavily.

Binge drinking is also to blame for more than 4,300 teenage pregnancies, 11,500 expulsions and suspensions from school and 5.5million lost days of schooling each year.

Drunk British girls are among the most violent in the western world. Previous studies have shown that 15 boys and girls under the age of 16 drink themselves into A&E wards every day, with some downing more than a bottle of vodka in a single session, and that drink-fueled British girls are among the most violent in the western world.

So what does this mean? It means that a few drunken wine tasters in Temecula and New York don't look so bad now. I'm not trying to make light of these are staggering statistics for underage drinking. But it does put things into perspective a little doesn't it?

I do have to applaud the statistics from the same article that stated:

More than a million men drink more than 50 units of alcohol a week. With a bottle of wine containing nine units, this is equivalent to almost six bottles or two bottles of spirits.

In 2005, Britons drank a staggering 6.5 billion litres of alcohol at an overall cost to the economy of £20 billion.

This reconfirms my desire to visit here but makes me wonder whether I will be bringing along my teenage daughter or not.

For the full story, go here.


Wine Tasting: Where Are We?

We're not out wine tasting that's where! We are still recovering from a long four day weekend where no blogs were posted, nothing was updated, and our hits fell down the ladder with equal conviction.

The temperatures here have been up to about 115* and it's too hot to go outside. My son came down with a 24 hour flu on Friday and then felt fine enough to go play football in the sweltering heat on Saturday. I came down with a sore throat yesterday and I'm still suffering, taken to odd bits of passing out from time to time. Youth bounces back so easily.

Funny thing is, I didn't feel like writing all weekend. I love to write and to read all of the postings. This morning I logged into by bloglines to see that I have successfully ignored 642 posts these past four days.

I guess I just needed a mental break.

We were not alone in the need to take a little break. One of our blogging mentors announced today that she's going into semi-retirement. She won't be writing anything for a while so she can get her life back (full story here). Now let me say that Cat is a young chick and she's fried already. What hope do I have? Again, making me feel a little old.

There were several posts I've read today with bloggers taking off the long weekend from writing. It seems to be in the air.

Never fear. Daily postings will resume tomorrow!


Wine Tasting: Rugby, Wine and Rankings

Remember the Rugby and Wine post we did a little while back for the International Wine Tasting that Ruarri at Grape Thinking is doing? (It's o.k. - click here for a refresher). Well my husband and I have been watching all of the Rugby World Cup warm-up games which have caused a little shift in the rankings.

The top 10 teams going into the Rugby World Cup 2007 will be:

#1: New Zealand
#2: Australia
#3: France
#4: South Africa

Argentina has been bumped down a notch by Ireland (ya!) but so sad for the world of wine tastings in our house... looks like we're stuck drinking from only four nations. :)

Well what about our wines from here in the States?

Listen, I dumped Argentina for being 5th. Don't even get me started on the United States and their pathetic showing in the warm ups when they lost 6-10 to Munster (yes like the cheese). They are ranking in at 15 but I'm not expecting great things this year as they show little knowledge of the basics of the game - not even looking when they pass and let's not talk about the simple kicks missed.

Therefore I pledge to not drink any American wine in the month of September despite it being California Wine Month (there Joe, feel better now about being a month early?). I will be drinking and reviewing wines from the top four until we're left with two.

Look for our reviews here and at Grape Thinking for more fantastic picks - they're going to actually be in Paris for the games. Too much.


Marketing Wine for Women

I don't normally get bothered but this has been gnawing at me for some time. Please just stick with this little rant.

Let's start with the facts. Did you know that 60% of the wine sold in the United States is to women? So if we start there, logic dictates that the wine market is already on target with its products. If women are already buying a good deal of the wine, why would marketers suddenly change their market to better accommodate them? We already like wine.

Why are the marketing companies shifting their focus? We don't want to be pandered to. We want to learn and grow into sophisticated wine drinkers. We DON'T want to buy Italian wines labeled 'Mommy's Time Out' and we don't all want lower alcohol roses. I have girlfriends who wouldn't touch a white wine or rose if their lives depended on it (unless it was going to go to waste and that's a totally different conversation). And other friends who love the heat that comes from a high alcohol Zin (yours truly included).


We're being sold special PMS chocolates (ok this one makes sense, never mind) low taste, I mean low carb, beer and femine rum (yes it exists - pink label and all). So if it's pink we'll buy it? Novelties. Do we really want our wine to be a novelty too?

I think that as women develop as wine drinkers, and we are seeing so many more women enter in to the male dominated profession of wine directors and makers, we don't want the experience cheapened. How can we be taken seriously as winos if we're interested in too sweet shallow gunk with the tasting depth of a SoCal rain storm?

So my plea is this. Leave male verses female out of wine and concentrate on making better wine.


Beer vs. Wine Tasting

Beer verses wine is a question that puzzles us here at The Wino Club most days. Honestly, Darcy and I are severely uncomplicated people. We're the type of friends who would be just as happy opening up a bottle of MGD as a bottle of the finest wine as long as we were hanging out with other cool friends.

So this event intrigues us. On September 27, El Bizchocho Restaurant at Rancho Bernardo Inn in San Diego is hosting a six-course beer versus wine dinner.

Diners will taste a sampling of wine and beer with each course, then fill out a card noting their preference. At the end of the meal, which will include, among others things, hamachi, soft shell crab and lamb dishes prepared by chef Gavin Kaysen, the results will be tallied and announced. Championing wine will be sommelier Barry Wiss, who presides over the restaurant's cellar of over 1,600 selections. On the suds side, Greg Koch, CEO of Stone Brewing Company, the folks that produce the artisanal Stone Pale Ale, Stone Smoked Porter, and Arrogant Bastard Ale. The two will select the pairings in their respective categories. To reserve a spot, contact the restaurant at: (858) 675-8550. The price is $125 per person.

For more information, click here.

We highly recommend that our friends check out this link as the date of the event falls right in between my birthday and Darcy's birthday (call us if you need us to remind you of the exact dates). Tickets might be a great way to recognize our birthdays, don't you think?


The Wino Club Expands to Facebook

We're bloggers here. I didn't know how much I would love blogging about wine though until we moved from obscurity to having so many hits each day. It's so much nicer blogging when you know you're not talking with yourself. Thank you to all of our faithful readers who check in with us daily.

It felt the same way when I discovered Facebook. I've been taking a blogging class online and one of our assignments a couple of months ago was to set up a profile there. I've met amazing people and received a camaraderie that we fellow bloggers experience together as well.

Then it hit me - I'm going to make a group there that's all about wine tasting. There are several collective applications on Facebook that are for finding and tasting wine, but no real forum where we can discuss, well, wine stuff. I put up the group around midnight last night and as of 8AM this morning we already have 18 members so I think we're doing pretty well.

If you are already a Facebooker, check us out at The Wino Club Collective. If you have not seen Facebook, setting up a profile is free and can be set up here. Beware though, it's addictive!


Pairing Raspberry with Chocolate

This has absolutely NOTHING to do with wine but yum... M&M is going to be releasing a limited edition "RaZZberry" flavor. Pairing raspberries with chocolate. Brilliant. I haven't seen them hit the stores yet but they do have a funny commercial on their site here. Don't even get me started on the new Dark Chocolate M&M's.

Now we just need to find the perfect wine to go with them... any suggestions?


Wino Club's Wine Journey

I was reading a post last night by a fellow blogger at Rockss and Fruit where Lyle was complaining that the big wines he used to favor and subsequently built his cellar around just don't make the grade anymore. And it got me to thinking about Darcy's and my wine journey.

There was a day when wine was just another drink. Two-buck-Chuck did the job just fine. Bunko was Drunko and the number of empty bottles at the end of the evening meant the difference of walking on the sidewalk on the way home or trying to find home. It was a beautiful place to be.

Then we started our own wine tasting club a few years ago with a bunch of friends and for a while we continued our naive tasting experience. Our palettes developed a little and we outgrew Two-buck-Chuck but weren't quite knowledgeable to venture much beyond our safe California wines. When Darcy and I started making our Wino Club Kits (shameless plug: a party in a box with instructions and materials to start your own monthly wine tasting club with friends) we started taking wine classes and certification courses in wine and the business of wine.

And our wine tasting world exploded.

Suddenly we knew what Chardonnay was meant to taste like and how the complexity of a wine was so much more important than the initial pop. And the more GOOD wine we drank, the pickier we became. And it's getting worse. I was at a party last evening and just couldn't drink any of the choices available because, well yuck. My palette doesn't crave yuck. It wants yum. So I drank beer. It seemed the better alternative (I may have to cancel my upcoming beer tasting classes though because I need some naivety in my palette).

It is horrible to go from one preference to another. We have to morn that blissful ignorant day when a glass of Two-Buck-Chuck hit the spot. And don't get us wrong, it's not that the more expensive is better. Some of our favorite wines are under $10. We don't need to reopen the debate about the State Fair again - it's not about that. It's about a subtlety of flavor that at an earlier point in our palette development just didn't matter. Now we're wine snobs. How horrible!

For me personally, I guess I will just have to serve the stuff I've outgrown for my friends who are still blissfully ignorant. I can't serve it to my Wino Club but my Drunko group will drink anything. Sorry ladies, but I can't let even bad alcohol go to waste!


About That Wine Bottle

Have you ever really looked at the shape and color of your wine bottle?

Honestly, I think most bottles are beautiful. Our friend Terry at Keyways Winery used a whole assortment of them in the small bathroom window for privacy instead of a window treatment (if you don't remember how obsessed I was about her bathrooms, please look to the archives because her facilities are brilliant!).

But it's not pure aesthetics that drive the vintner to her choice of bottle. This is an article we found posted by the Wine Lady (don't you just love that?). She gave a concise lesson on wine bottles that I'm not soon to forget and although she did leave plenty of disclaimers I think that generally she hit everything head on.

The colors of the bottles are clear, blue or couple of different shades of green and brown. White wines come in all the colors while red wines only come in a couple. Wine does not like light so dark bottles are required for them. Red wines are the ones that can stay in a cellar for years, so they need dark colored bottles to keep out the light. Whites are usually meant to be consumed young, thus the reason for clear or light green bottles. Rieslings usually are sold in blue or brown bottles. Those colors represent certain areas of Germany. For example, brown bottles represent the Rhine area and green bottles the Mosel area. But this is just tradition, and is not always true.

The shapes of the bottles can usually tell you two things. One is where the wine is from. Think about that blue bottle of Riesling, tall and narrow with no shoulders. It is from Germany and it is an off-dry, or if you prefer, a sweet wine. Again, not always true. I have a green, tall and narrow bottle. It is from Portugal and is semi-off-dry with a bit of bubbles. Now picture a bottle of Chardonnay or Pinot Noir. That style of bottle is called Burgundy. Pinot Noir is less tannic and can be fruity, as well as Chardonnay. Those are the two grapes they grow in Burgundy. The bottles with the high shoulders are called Bordeaux bottles. They have high shoulder to help hold back the sediment when decanting the wine after it has aged. The wines sold in those bottles are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Bordeaux, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Sauvignon Blanc. Again, these are the typical grapes grown in Bordeaux. They have more tannins. It is the tannins that fall out and form the sediment the shoulders hold back.

Not many people notice the bottom of the bottles. Again, the next time you are looking at a bottle of wine, pick it up and look at the bottom. A Riesling will not have a punt. An expensive Merlot or Cabernet will have a deep punt. The punt is there to collect the sediment from the tannins falling out. It is there for the same reasons the high shoulders are. Rieslings are not meant to be aged, so no need for a punt. You will also notice the difference in the depth of the punts.

We would like to thank Sara Cujak of Fond du Lac, owner of Cujak's Wine Market, 74 S. Main St. for her full article please click here.


California Wine Month Declared by Schwartzennegger


It's the middle of the harvest and California Governor Arnold Schwarzennegger has declared September to be California Wine Month for the third year in a row. On their new website, set up in honor of this great PR moment, the Wine Institute shows their enthusiasm by posting the actual proclamation that you can download. They even have California Wine Month tasting mats that you can print up for your celebratory event.

Go visit the site and see their calendar of events for a fun way to get a taste of California.


Cork, Screwtop or ZORK?

No, we are not talking about some imaginary creature from Dr. Seuss (although I think I may need to re-read "There's a Wocket in My Pocket" again just to be sure). The Zork is a new method of sealing and re-sealing your wine.

That's right: the Australians are at it again. Australians are at the cusp of every maverick wine making tool and gadget. Screw tops have long been used there for their superior seal and airtight portability that eliminates corked, or spoiled, wine. Screw tops also don't have the environmental implications of the Cork closure. What screw tops lack however was the romance of hearing that 'pop' provided by removing the cork.

Never fear, the Zork is here (yes, I saw Underdog this weekend). It has the same airtight seal of the screw top. It's easy to remove requiring nothing but you hands and unlike swollen corks, is easy to re-insert into the bottle to save your wine. And the best part? It 'pops'. And if you're worried about the environment, it's 100% recyclable.

At this point, we'll only be seeing the Zork on the mid-priced wines in the $15-$40 range although it is sure to trickle down into the lower priced wines as the production becomes more cost effective. Will you see it anytime soon on your higher prices wines? Probably not... can you see it now? You're in a fine restaurant ordering $100 bottle of something nice, being offered the Zork to sniff? Right.

For a really cool video and information go to Zork's Website here.

Happy tasting!


Wine in American Restaurants

We read a lot about wine and wine news every day (remember the post about our bloglines?). When we came across this survey result, we had to stop and re-read. Winemetrics LLC conducted a survey of 10,000 restaurants across 20 States and came up with some pretty amazing results. We personally have not been able to read the report - we don't have a copy primarily because it costs $299 which would buy a lot of wine. However our friend Alder over at Vinography was able to give us a sneak peak:

... this survey goes a little deeper, and offers up the following additional tidbits of interest:

The top 100 brands represented on American wine lists actually include 15 French wines, 7 Italian, 2 Australian, and 1 Chilean.
I never would have guessed these numbers. If you had asked me I would have thought that one or two would be French (remember Mouton Cadet?) and there would be likewise be only one or two from Spain and Italy as well. I assume the wines from Australia is Yellow Tail, and probably Rosemount or some other Penfolds brand. I don't have a good sense of what the Chilean wine would be.

Other top selling brands include Caymus, Cakebread, Sterling Vineyards, Veuve Clicquot, and Clos du Bois
This was interesting to me, mostly because several of these tend to be more expensive wines, certainly more expensive than all the wines on the top 10 brand list. The survey goes on to report that the largest number of wines consumed in restaurants cost between $25 and $39, but the article referencing the survey doesn't say what percentage of all the wines consumed is represented by this "largest number." I assume it is less than 50% as they didn't use the phrase "the majority."

Americans drink twice as much red wine as white, with Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir being the two top choices, trailed by Merlot in a close third. The top white wine is Chardonnay.
I guess this is not so surprising on any front, though I wish I knew what the number two white was. Any guesses? My bet is Sauvignon/Fume Blanc, with Pinot Grigio trailing with a distant third place.

To read the full story click here.


Wino Club Tasting Winners

Last night our Wino Club met and we tasted Meritage. It was an odd pick for a 90+ degree day but we went with it. Our Hostess LV Vinton picked it so who were we to complain?

Our club members brought 11 wines and we tasted a total of 9 wines because of duplicates. This was one of our smallest club gatherings ever and yet oddly enough we drank nearly all of the wine. There were definitely empties as proof that it was a well liked wine. Either that or I forgot my pour spout so the tastings got a little larger than usual (oops!).

The winner of the evening was tough to determine and we had to (emphasis on HAD to) re-taste the top two to make the final determination.

First Place, Double Gold Medal goes to Estancia 2004 Meritage out of Paso Robles. This wine was brought by Jan Duran, picked up at BevMo for just under $30.00. Why did she pick this one in particular? She's a big fan of the wines coming out of Paso plain and simple. This blend is 61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 9% Petit Verdot. The nose, as with all of the Meritage we tasted, was very dense and took us a long time to draw out. What we did get was dark fruit of black cherry and plum, tobacco and cedar. What we tasted was a perfectly balanced and well rounded wine that we worth the re-taste for sure.

Now the wine we brought was not a Meritage (rebels) and we did not win (although we were in the top 3). It was Chateau des Annereaux 2003 Bordeaux from Lalande-de-Pomerol (Girande). We picked it up for our Meritage tasting as an example of what the Meritage Association was basing it's blend on. However we also couldn't pass it up at Cost Plus for $22 especially when we read the blend. Uniquely different for a traditional Bordeaux, the mix was 70% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. The mix of the Cab Franc in there made a huge impact on the flavor and color of the wine. Even with the 70% Merlot this wine had a meatiness that I wasn't expecting. It was a great wine for the price point but I need to go on record that it did not have the flavors typical to a Bordeaux.

We were all very happy with our winner - thanks goes out to LV for hosting our wine tasting party this month and we're looking forward our next Wino Winner!

Stacy & Darcy
The Original Winos!


Wine and Cheese

Just a quick little tip today about pairing wine and cheese. There are entire books dedicated to how best to pair up this wine to that cheese. I've seen cool wheels and gadgets that make putting these items together easy and have been sorely tempted to buy them for our wine tasting parties.

I don't like to make my life more difficult than it has to be though. Most cheese are salty or acidic that make matching them, well, hard. So instead of making sure you have the right cheese with the right wine, add a 'bridge' food. Fruit and nuts help bridge the gap in the palate so you can serve the wine you want with a cheese you like.

Simple right?


Fantasy Wine

I don't have high hopes of becoming a wine investor anytime soon. It's not the output of money that puts me off, although anything over $40 is spendy on something I'm consuming. No it's the not opening the bottle that gets me. It's the waiting. Being a typical American consumer / wine drinker I think that's quite normal. I have a small wine rack that holds about 12 bottles and it's my quest to always keep it full. Consequently that means frequent replenishing because I actually drink the bottles I put in there.

But with a free budget (meaning other people's money) to buy any wine as an investment online, could I just walk away for two years to come back to check on my profit? It's wine investing without the stress of looking at your unopened bottles beckoning to you "open, open, open," like a Mervyn's commercial.

Hold tight because Decanter Magazine runs a game that lets you do this. I believe it is full for the 2007 investment (winners to be posted in 2009 if you remember to check back) but those lucky players were given 10,000 pounds to buy a portfolio of wine. There were 25 different wines and to pick and choose from until the monetary allotments were spent. In 2009 their wine portfolios will be assessed and a winner will be determined.

It's like Fantasy Football for Winos and a really, really cool idea. The downside is that I have immediate gratification issues (did you read the first part of the article?) and could never wait two years to find out if I'd won or lost. If I had that sort of patience, I would actually buy the wine itself and wait to drink it, or sell it for that matter.

To read more about the rules and to find the lists of past winners go to Decanter Magazine here.


Wine in Paris Au Naturel

Wine, Naturally
Forget brasseries. Paris is enticing epicureans with a new wave of wine bars.

Not quite as seductive as it sounds but while flying to Denver, I noticed a good many articles about wine in the Hemispheres Magazine on United. I only sit still if I'm reading and the book I brought lacked the 'must read' quality I had found in my Harry Potter book so I started flipping and came across this article:

Evidently the newest rage in tasting wine in Paris is wine that reflect only the terroir and wine making without any additives. No we're not talking just organic/ We mean to the extreme of letting the bubbles occur completely natural in the bottle. Will these wines be exported to the United States - highly doubtful. So unless our next trip on United takes us to Paris (World Cup Rugby this year would be a great gift!) I won't be trying these wines any time soon.

For the full story go to Hemispheres Magazine here.

Darcy & Stacy,
The Original Winos


Rubgy and Wine

Now we never really correlated the Rugby World Cup and Wine... we love beer too and figured that Rugby and beer were a natural pairing, right? Then we received this email and we can't wait to start tasting.

Dear Stacy,

Thanks for your comment on our site! In the spirit of internationalism and world events – Grape Thinking is hosting the World Cup of Wine in September 2007 in honour of the World Cup Rugby in France this September. Basically, countries came to play Rugby in the same way that they came to learn the craft of winemaking – and the tradition comes from a long line of cultural sharing, and the World Cup Rugby represents a celebration of shared culture and the in these troubled times, is a demonstration of the world in union: different cultures and countries all playing the same sport and celebrating unity in diversity.

The World Cup of Wine 2007 aims to show how wine merely represents a facet of internationalism – and it is things like wine, rugby, food, literature and music that bind this world together – and for this reason they should be celebrated. We wish to do this by encouraging people to try wine from the great rugby playing nations and to then submit reviews to us.

Grape Thinking opens its pages to wine bloggers and enthusiasts from the 1st of September 2007 to Sunday the 30th – and we will feature reviews, bottle shots and pictures of wines from Italy, France, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Argentina that are e-mailed to – all in all, we aim to feature in excess of 180 reviews.

Italy, France, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Argentina are not only some of the world’s great wine-producing nations: but they are also great rugby nations.

Stacy, I’d like to personally ask you if you would like to submit a few wine reviews for the event. We will have a draw at the end of the event – and all the reviewers who submit will be entered into it. At the end of the month, the winner of the draw will be in the running to wine a bottle of wine from each one the featured countries.

If the Grapethinking team can be of any help to you, please be sure to let us know.

Also, if you have any comments, requests or suggestions in regard to the event or anything else please let me know.

Stacy, thanks for taking the time to read this.



With an invitation like this, how can we not participate? We are looking forward to watching some awesome Rugby (alas only on t.v.) and drinking some great wine in the wine blogging community. Thanks go out to Grapethinking for the invite!

Passionate About Wine?


Our post today is a bit less about wine and more about, well this whole blogging thing we're doing here. There are thousands and thousands of blogs in the world right now, making it more and more possible to not only get the information you need on any topic but to make it an ongoing education that's fun.

Case in point, if you enjoy reading this blog we would like to encourage you to visit the links that we have posted along the right side of your screen. These are some of the best wine blogs we have found and we keep in touch with what's going on in the world of wine by reading them regularly.

I know that most websites don't encourage people to visit their competition, but the Blogosphere is different. We Bloggers are like a giant community of people with similar interests, in this case wine. So surf away and support our fellow Winos! We subscribe to all of their feeds and we're hoping a few of them will interest you as well.

Our 'techy' trick to making sense of all of these blogs? We have Bloglines installed. It is a free program that enables us to subscribe to many, many blogs and then flip through the new posts within minutes without necessarily having to go to each site every day. You can use it for our blog too :) Check it out by clicking here. Then when you subscribe to any blog (like ours - there's a button on the right that you hit to subscribe) it will post the feed into your Bloglines each day so you can see who has updated their content and you can read the posts on your Bloglines screen. It's a great time saver AND a great way to learn about wine.

Have a great time... we'd love to hear about which blogs were your favorites! And if you find some you think should be added to our site, post the link in the comments area and we'll take a look.

Thanks and happy blog surfing!

Stacy & Darcy,
Original Winos at

Decanting Your Wine

Your table is elegantly set and you bring out the crystal decanter filled with a gorgeous red liquid. How fancy are you?

News flash – you may just be creating more dishes to wash.

When we're talking red wines, you should let an older wine breathe a little before serving but there are only a couple of reasons you want to actually decant:

1. You are not patient (not many of us are) and you open up a wine that’s not quite mature. What the heck does that mean? It’s probably still too tannic (and not in a good way). You’ve tasted this wine before undoubtedly – the one that made your tongue pucker? Give that youngie some air. Pour it with vigor into the decanter and swish it from time to time to help mellow it out. You’ll still have a wine high in tannin, but the extra air you just provided it should help turn it into a very drinkable wine.

2. Sludge. Yes, unfiltered wines or aged wines that have settlement should be decanted VERY SLOWLY. Don’t loose the flavor or scent, just watch to filter out the particles. It is helpful to hold up a flashlight or candle (going back to being fancy) and look for the settlement before it enters into the decanter.

There are many in the wine world who think that decanting is an essential part of enjoying fine red wine. Perhaps I don't drink enough collector-level wines. But for the most part, decanting is an extra step that delays my tasting time!


Temecula Winos Gone Wild

O.K. seriously. Here's a story brought to our attention by fellow blogger Marisa D'Vari at A Wine Story about our little wine country here in Temecula, CA. I thought the epidemic was prevalent only on the East Coasts (see Lenndevours for details on this story) but evidently I was wrong.

Here is a top news story on CBS posted a couple of days ago.

I cannot say that I have not noticed drunken tours going through town, but when you have paid for a designated driver the tasting automatically turns into more of a pub crawl. We have over 20 wineries here in town. Even if some are banning the tours many are not. Locals wishing to avoid the chaos pick the smaller wineries. Do the tours make tasting a miserable experience? Absolutely NOT. People watching is as much fun as tasting the wine. I would object more if the tours were self directed with drunk drivers on the road.

Any thoughts on how Temecula compares to other wine regions? Is Napa Valley really so sophisticated as to not hold limo tours? I personally know of a group of friends that visited 11 wineries in one day with 24 people. Chaos? You bet. It's to be expected!

Naked Chardonnay for Wine Blogging Wednesday

O.K. so we're a day behind... did you read the last post about being on vacation? Anyhow, we did taste a Naked Chardonnay for Wine Blogging Wednesday and even though it's Thursday, we can't be left behind, can we?

Stats: Novellum 2004 Chardonnay Vin de Pays des Cotes Catalanes, imported by Eric Solomon/ Europesn Cellars.

We went to France in the region of Languedoc for a country wine (Vin de Pays) and spent a whopping $5 on this $10 wine because we have a store near us closing down. SCORE! This unoaked Chardonnay was definitely higher in acid than a typical Chardonnay, even one from France. It had a distinct nose with scents of stone, banana, burnt sugar, walnut and citrus. The finish was not long but was a nice crisp white wine with a beautiful golden Chardonnay hue. Serve it up with some spicy Thai food and you've got a bargain of an afternoon wine on your hands.

By the way, did you notice the Americanized label with the varietal listed instead of the region? It took us a couple of takes to really understand how European wines are adjusting to the times eh?

Check out all the wine recaps at Lenndevours!

Wine in Colorado

Did everyone miss us? Darcy and I both went on vacation at the same time. Darcy went out to Key West, Florida to visit her brother and family and I went to Denver, Colorado to take the kids to see my mom. My mother and her husband don't really drink so I was considering myself on sabbatical. Funny thing is that I just could not take a complete wine break.

It was an odd thing to be driving away from the Georgetown Loop Railroad and run into a winery. Yep. Middle of Colorado and not a vine to be seen and on the side of the road was a charming little winery called Canyon Wind Cellars.

Turns out the vineyards are 200 miles away in Palisade, Colorado along the north bank of the Colorado River at 4,710 feet in elevation. Their mantra, from wine maker Robert Pepi is "Taste what world class winemaking does for the wonderful grapes of Western Colorado."

O.K.. Four free tasting - how can I not? They offered the usual suspects with a couple of twists I found enjoyable. Of course there was a Rose since it is so hot right now. It was more of an American Rose tending more on the sweet side of blush. Their Chardonnay was twist one. There were two Chards: one oak and one not. Twist two was the wine I bought: 2005 Petit Verdot. It was such a little seen varietal that the uniqueness of it drew me to want to pack it up in my suitcase (which may be why they searched it and then lost it for a few hours, delivering it to my home unscathed at midnight).

This wine has some weight and structure to it for sure. According to their descriptors... “…a dark, rich wine with exceptionally deep color, great weight and structure. Aromas and flavors of violets, dark berries, and black cherries abound with a hint of bacon. Enjoy with hearty game or spicy Cajun food!”

Bacon? mmmmmmmmmm. Actually I did detect a leathery smell and flavor, perhaps tanned bacon? Anyhow, I'll be letting this one sit of a couple of years to tame it down and let some of the flavors mature. It will remind me of a Colorado winter because it's not one I'm going to be drinking in the middle of summer for sure!

My mother bought the Rose, but since White Zinfandel is her favorite wine it was not shocking. Please don't get me started.

So next time you're in Colorado I would encourage to you to stop in at one of their two locations. Their web site is

Happy tasting!


Chardonnay: The Queen of Whites

When it comes to white wine, there is no white grape grown as much as Chardonnay. Therefore it is the most well sold grape varietal in the whites as well. It has a reputation for it's big yellow buttery oakey impact and can be temperamental to pair with food because of its big pow.

But guess what? Chardonnay does not have to have that big oakey flavor. You see, New World vintners make it so because the American palettes have asked for it. I guess it's a 'Bigger is Better' mentality (which applies to a lot with the exception of gift boxes right ladies out there?). In reality, Chardonnay is all about the winemaker. Many wine makers consider Chardonnay a blank slate capable of becoming anything the winemaker wants, from crisp and cool steely dryness to huge oak and butter.

So when you pull down a bottle of Chardonnay, what can you expect? Well, if it's a typical New World Chardonnay (which means everywhere but Europe), then expect that big bold flavor. It's like the Cabernet of whites. The exception would be a naked Chardonnay, meaning it was made in Steel rather than Oak. Then we're getting closer to the crisp dry wines found in Chablis, France where Chardonnay is made in steel or used oak barrels. Yum, let's talk about French Chardonnay now.

White Burgundy, not to be confused with any other label with white in it (like White Zinfandel) is not a blush wine. It is 100% Chardonnay and is worth every drop that comes from the bottle. By far Stacy's favorite white wine to drink, it can be quite a shocking taste experience for a Chardonnay drinker for it has a crisp richness instead of the heavy flavors of the oakey Chardonnays. They have a zing to them with nice toffee and honey at the end.

I would like to encourage you to taste a New World Chardonnay, most likely a California one and then taste a Premier Cru (meaning top quality and it will be listed as such on the bottle) Burgundy, preferably from Chablis and taste the difference. Email us your results please or post your comments on our blog under Chardonnay at because we'd love to hear from you!

Happy tasting and we'll see you at!


Darcy & Stacy

P.S. to show our commitment to the cause, this post was written with a cold glass of Chablis in our hand!

Wino Food Pairing with Chardonnay

A special thanks goes out from us to our friend Leah Di Bernardo of Delyte's Fine Food Company. Check out her web site at for her fabulous food and catering services. She is also the proud owner of The Castle found at Check out both sites for some of the most delicous food in town, Slow Food to be more exact (see her site to find out what that means and it doesn't mean the crock pot). Leah is also a fellow Rotarian and a very intriguing woman with great stories. Please be sure to support her!

Cooking your fish on a cedar plank is a method of cooking and smoking salmon that has been used for many years. Make sure to use natural cedar. The salmon is Slow Cooked which produces a rich, smoky flavor.

Cedar Planked Salmon

Yields- 6 servings

PREP TIME is about 20 minutes

COOK TIME is 15 minutes- "watch your fish!!"


* 24x8x1 inch untreated cedar plank

* 6 (4 ounce) fillets salmon

* Fresh/Organic Dill

* 1/2 tablespoon black peppercorns

Quick Marinade- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil; 1 tspn dijon; 1 tspn REAL maple syrup; 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1/2 cup ale (beer), 1 chopped garlic clove (whisk or blend in cuisinart.

Pour marinade over salmon, marinating for 20 or so minutes. Add fresh dill to the top, covering the entire fish. Cover with a lid or plastic wrap) **use a Pyrex or ceramic pan.. NO METALS


1. Submerge untreated cedar plank in water. Soak approximately 12 hours, or overnight.

2. Preheat an outdoor grill for high heat. Place prepared plank on the grill, and sprinkle with coarse salt. Cover grill and heat plank 2 to 3 minutes, until dry. Adjust grill temperature for medium heat.

3. Arrange Salmon on the plank, with dill still atop fish. Top with ground black peppercorns, and a smidge of sea salt

4. Cook salmon, covered, 10 to 12 minutes, or until opaque and easily flaked with a fork.

Chardonnay Quick Tasting Tips

Chardonnay is all about the winemaker. Look for the following when tasting and smelling this varietal:





Burnt Sugar
Green Apple















Wine for the Pairing Impaired

So at the end of the day, I am working out the kinks with a nice glass of wine and my laptop and decide my brain needed a break (the wine helped in the decision making process) so I started Stumbling!

Before you start judging me (it was only 1 glass), I don' t mean tripping and falling. I mean I have an application on my computer called Stumble! ( It's a great tool for rating sites and it learns from what about my interests are and picks out random pages it thinks I might be interested in. Think of it as the automated features found in TiVo except for web pages. When I need a brain break or I'm doing research, it's fun to see where it takes me.

Long story short, the first two Stumbles brought me to great wine blogs I hadn't read before. Then on the third try I got confused so I stopped to write this. What I found is a series of wines made to perfectly pair with typical American food fares. This bottle is 'Wine That Loves Roasted Chicken' and was on a website with some very well thought out food pairing notes for each of the wines. The wines included perfect pairings for (or Wine That Loves...) Roasted Chicken, Pasta with Tomato Sauce, Pizza, Grilled Steak and Grilled Salmon.

Brilliant marketing really, beautiful bottle, great writing on the site, although I was disappointed that the varietals used in each of the wines were lacking. I'm not sure it was on purpose but I'm thinking that based on the branding they are doing, it was.

Now, I'm sure this will create some knee jerk reactions. Please share your thoughts on this one. My brain is having a wrestling match between the wine snob, the admirer of good ideas and the instant gratification American. Who do you think wins this fight?

For their site, go to

Wine and Art of Temecula

From time to time there is a local artist who captivates what it is like to live here in the Temecula Valley in Southern California. Stephen Eldred has some beautiful photos posted on his website at that I would encourage you to check out. This is one of my favorites entitled 'Peppertree and Vineyard'. Thank you Stephen for allowing us to share your image on-line!


Bad Wine

It has actually happened to me twice in one week. The first was at our Wino Club to one of the Rieslings. Tonight, I had a beautiful Premier Cru White Burgundy chilling. There is a cool summer breeze flowing outside on the patio and I'm ready to relax. I open up the beautiful foil and I see it. The cork had visible signs of foil rust, if there is such a thing. The cork had turned a beautiful shade of burnt umber. Beautiful on anything else but a cork of course. Ever hopeful, I took a chance and opened it up and unfortunately confirmed my fears: the bottle was corked.

Corked wine means that somewhere along the road the cork no longer provided the proper air seal and the wine spoils and goes bad. My beautiful Burgundy was not even fit to make a vinaigrette. When you open and pour any bottle, if it is corked you will know it. Don't blame the wine. The corked Riesling last Thursday tasted like rubber bands, an odd flavor for this particular varietal if I must say so myself. I don't always trust my nose because some wine actually does smell bad, can we talk about petrol and cat pee? But there's no tricking my eyes (yes, the bottle level had dropped by an inch as well but I kept on hoping) AND my mouth which definitely did not care for the sour flavor that ensued.

The saddest thing was that it was my last bottle of white anything. It's been so warm that I've been plowing through them until I was savoring this last bottle before my next trip to the wine store. Now I have nothing and will have to revert to my natural ways and pop open an ice cold beer!


Winning Riesling Wine

Our personal wine club tasted Riesling this month. Actually we tasted 16 Rieslings this month and I can't even tell you the sugar rush that that experience brought on. My little heart almost burst when the last wine of the evening was a Spatlese!

Needless to say, there can be only one winner at the end of all of that tasting and ours was 2006 Clos du Bois Riesling. So why do I have photos of two bottles? Keep reading and my thoughts will become clear.

2006 Clos du Bois Riesling can be referred to as a basic, not too sweet Riesling. On the nose we detected honey, ginger and tangerine. Upfront flavors of ripe fruit come rushing out at you although the citrus punch finish ends the flavors quickly leaving a high acidic ending, pithy almost. This is not a complicated wine. It is a mainstream wine hailing from the Santa Lucia Highlands in the Monterey Valley and at around $12 a bottle you can serve it to anyone on a hot day. Thanks to Lisa VanEssen-Vinton (owner for bringing it!

Winner out of the way now I can add my two cents. Wine is a completely personal experience so I can honestly say that although our club voted fair and square, I preferred the second place wine and will buy it for the fridge, thus the second photo.

It was the 2005 Dr. Weins-Prum Riesling Kabinett hailing from Wehlener Sonnenuhr in the Mosel-Sarr-Ruyer region in Germany. That was a mouthful and so was the wine. I love Kabinett and Troken Rieslings hailing from Mosel-Sarr-Ruyer in the first place with their drier fruitiness than typically found in American Rieslings. This particular Riesling had a nice full nose of peaches and apricots, jasmine, green apples, minerals, and surprisingly cinnamon. This QmP rated wine did not let me down on the palette either. It had well rounded sugars, leaving the fruit to do the talking with an elegant almost pineapple finish. Unlike the Clos du Bois which hits you all at once, it had a nice full flavor that left me asking for one more sip to figure it out. And I took multiple 'one more sips' and revisited it at the end of the evening just to see if my palette had changed after the tasting as it sometimes does. But my first impression was consistent with my last. And for around $17 it's one wine I can definitely recommend checking out.


In the Wineries

We would like to send out a BIG thank you to Terri Pebley, the only female winery owner in the Temecula Valley, for hosting Feminita Vita! this weekend. Designed to support fellow women business owners and to kick off their first wine created for women, Keyways Winery opened their newly remodeled doors to The Wino Club (she's a brave woman!). We have to tell you that the transformation of this winery is spectacular. I drank extra water just so I could hang out in the restroom and check out the beautiful pounded copper stalls.
Thanks again Terri and Keyways Winery for a fantastic weekend of music, shopping and wine. For more information on this winery, go to .


Winos Give Back

Did you know that women under 40 are ofter ignored in the fight against breast cancer? A younger woman (uninsured) who finds a lump also finds that the state will kick in with support once she is fully diagnosed. This means that she will need to pay out of pocket for all of the test procedures before hand, a proposal that most of these women can't afford. In comes Michelle's Place. Michelle's Place is a breast cancer resource center based in the Temecula Valley, California. They support this group of women who are otherwise ignored. The host of services and support they provide are inspiring and is truly a grass roots effort that continues to grow in our community.

It seemed only natural that part of the proceeds of The Wino Club kit be donated to their cause. Their Director, Kim Goodnough, is also a great friend of ours and a member of our Wino Club so we might have been coerced a little as well (in a good way).

Here we are at Kim's home after she hosted our wine tasting group presenting her with a check for $330 for Michelle's Place. Every little bit helps right? We understand that the photo is not the best but we had a lot of sugar in us at the time, having just tasted 16 Rieslings. Our results of the tasting will be posted tomorrow so stay tuned! To find out more about Michelle's Place go to


Wine Blogging Wednesday - Spain Under $10

Imagine the front of a Syrah, earthy and gamey, with the finish of a Zinfandel, black cherry spice and heat, and you’ve got the Luzon Verde 2005 from Jumilla, Spain. We’ve been reading so much about the newer trend of organic wines that when we saw this wine we killed two birds with one stone. Finca Luzon is known for putting out perfectly dependable red wines out of Spain and this one is no exception. At 100% Monastrell, or Mouvedre, it is a bit unusual. Normally a blended varietal, it stands alone here and does a bang up job.

Honestly, the smell is not so pleasant as we immediately note a dirty sock floating around in our glass. It is definitely meaty with some tart fruity undertones of gooseberry and blueberry. The color however is an absolutely beautiful dark solid purple.

The tannins, normally quite high in this varietal are tamed out nicely, perhaps because of the tank fermentation used. The best part of the tasting was the duplicity of wine. It really does start out gamey and full and then rolls seamlessly into a spicy heat with a black cherry or red licorice finish. And let’s talk about the 13.5% alcohol. If Syrah and Zin had babies, this is what it would be.

This is an unbelievable value at under $10. Wines of Spain just went up a notch in our belts this afternoon sipping this bargain.
For more information on the upcoming Wine Blogging Wednesday, tune into and a big thanks to this month's coordinator at Happy tasting!


Sauvignon Blanc Down South

We’re going far South, as far South as vineyards grow in fact, to the Beautiful coastlines of New Zealand. New Zealand is a New World wine producer, and in fact was only legally allowed to sell wine in bottles sometime the 1960’s. These two beautiful islands were formed via volcano making their soils high in minerals. Most of their production here, as opposed to Italy, is white, a full 75% in fact. They produce many wines (Chardonnay is their most planted grape varietal) but it is their Sauvignon Blanc that put them on the wine maps.

If you have ever tasted a Sauvignon Blanc you still might not recognize one coming out of New Zealand. It can only be described as having an aggressive herbal vibrancy that’s like freshly cut grass. The high minerals in the soil, the chilly climate, abundance of rain and the proximity of all the vineyards to the ocean (about 80 miles at the furthest growth) make their grapes prone to mold and can lead to under-ripe tasting wines. But it also leads to one of the crispest Sauvignon Blancs around.

Technology is the New Zealanders’ best friend. When I say that this wine growing region is New World, they take it to extreme. There are no oak barrels or deep wine caves here. The grapes are mostly picked by machines and are grown on special trellises to avoid some of the mold issues in their dense canopies. Large steel tanks give an almost sterile look to the wineries here but it is what drives the bite in their green fruit.

It is hard to avoid using the term green with this Sauvignon Blanc. Just a quick look at New Zealand and all you can see is green amongst the steep slopes. But there is also some beautiful fruit like kiwi and passion fruit that lend to the wild nature of this white.

The best part of course is that you can buy fantastic Sauvignon Blancs from New Zealand starting at about $8. I personally look for wines coming out of Marlborough on the cooler South Island although 40% of the vineyards are located on the Northern Island from Hawke’s Bay, Gisborne and Auckland.

Have a favorite Sauvignon Blanc? Post it here for us please because as summer gets going in full steam we’re going to need some good refreshment!

Happy tastings and we’ll see you at!

Stacy & Darcy

Sauvignon Blanc Quick Tasting Tips

Sauvignon Blanc is all about clarity of flavor but don't go into it thinking this is a mild mannered white wine. Look for the following when tasting and smelling this varietal:

Melon Kiwi Pear Asparagus Fig Smoke

Hay Gunflint Grass Bell Pepper Gooseberry

Green Tea Musk Herbs Lemon Cat Pee Grapefruit


Red Wine and Cancer

We know that our red wine is healthy for us. But the newest research actually had touted that it may be the cure for certain cancers as well.

The Journal of Biological Chemistry released a study in May stating that there is an antioxidant in red wine that actually killed human leukemia and lymphoma cells. How exciting is that breakthrough in the world of cancer research? Most importantly, how great do you feel to be a wino? Scientists tested the effectiveness of C-3-R (anachronysm for something you really don't want spelled out), which comes from the pigmentation chemical in the red grape skins and wine, on different types of leukemia cancer cells. The C-3-R produced peroxides that essentially killed off the cancer. Within 18 hours, all of the tested cells were dead. When they tested this on healthy cells, the cells remained undamaged. What this means is that the C-3-R kills off the bad and leaves the good, something that does not happen in radiation and chemotherapy where all cells are damaged.

I will be waiting anxiously for more news as their testing moves on from lab to animals. Hopefully this will be the huge breakthrough in cancer research that we've been waiting for.

Online Wine Tasting

The world of wine blogging is fantastic to explore. There is a veritable hoard of information out there, from wine reviews to random rantings, some written more soberly than others. Some blogs post new articles almost daily while others lie as dormant as the wine they are collecting. But there is indeed a group of avid winos out there who are prolific and enthusiastically support each other in their pursuit of great wine.

Thus we come to Wine Blogging Wednesday. This is a blog tasting. That's right. A wine assignment is posted on Wednesday and then by a certain deadline everyone blogs about the wine. It certainly is one of the most creative ways I have seen to join forces with other winos and experience wines that may be passed up. One such tasting was boxed wines (sorry I missed that one, not) and last month was on Washington Cabs. There have been 34 tastings done so far since 2005 which is amazing for an online community.

This month the assignment is wines under $10 from Spain. Interested in finding out more? Go to for the details. Make sure to check in here for our pick. I'm definitely in for $10 and since we've been requested by the coordinators to avoid Rioja it's going to be a special challenge!

Happy tasting! Please let us know if you participate in this tasting because we'd love to hear all about it.