Thursday, May 31, 2012

Quick Review: Dessert Wines at B&B Winepub

Austria, Martin Pasler, Beerenauslese
+ // Fruity // Floral // Old peaches, sweet flower // Medium

Beerenauslese is the sweetest level found in Riesling. The menu did not read "riesling," it read what you see above. But we know that beerenauslese is the production method of sweet riesling - they hand pick each grape when it's at its ripest and (and it's on the vines the longest, too) just as you would pick berries. In fact, "beerenauslese" means: "to pick like berries."

Muscato di Asti
/ // Sparkling // Floral, apple // Melon, apple, cantaloupe // Light 

Tina likes the floral notes in Muscato di Asti. The sparkling aspect is a nice way to finish a meal, too.  Muscato di Asti is always sparkling. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Did You Know?... About Muscato di Asti

Muscato di Asti is a wine from the Asti region of Piemonte region of North Italy, made of from the Muscat grape. The Muscat grape makes sweet and floral wines, but the version from Asti is unique in that it is made in the bubbly spumante style. The region also produces Asti Spumante, but the Muscato di Asti is a DOC designation, and is made from the best grapes from the best vineyards of the region, and is sweeter, less alcoholic, and more fragrant. Because of its sweet and floral characteristics, along with its almost invisible bubbles, it can often be found as a dessert wine, to be enjoyed all by itself at the end of a meal.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Quick Review: Wine at B&B Winepub

Italy, Abruzzo, Masciarelli, Montepulciano 2010
+ // Crisp, Funky, Fruity // Red apple, strawberry // Leather, cherry, candied apple // Medium

France, Loire, Chateau Fontaine-Audon, Sancerre 2010
/ // Crisp // Apple, grape // Apple, grape, grapefruit // Light

Monday, May 28, 2012

B&B Winepub Adventure

We remembered! So often, when we are wandering around NYC, we spot an interesting restaurant or bar that looks interesting, look over the menu, and say "We should remember this place." Then we wander off and forget all about it. We nearly did the same with Burger & Barrel Winepub, but after a Saturday spent in the office, the promise to check it out sprung to mind, so we ventured over to see exactly what they had on offer.

Friday, May 25, 2012

How-To: Make Your Own Wine

Making wine is a complicated, precise process. It's possible to do it at home, but sometimes it's good to have help from an expert. Some wineries, especially urban wineries, will offer up their facilities and expertise to assist you in crafting your own wine. For a flat price, the winery will help you select and process the grapes, and then monitor the process to ensure your wine is a success. Often, the winery will provide educational classes or lectures to teach you about the art of making wine. There are some things to keep in mind though.
  • It's expensive. At thousands of dollars for a barrel of wine, its not a cheap alternative to buying from the wine store. Many customers come in as larger groups in order to pool their resources to share a barrel.
  • It's a lot of wine. With a skilled winemaker helping out, you can expect a good product. But a barrel translates to more than 200 bottles of wine.
  • It's a long process. With barrel aging, a red wine may take as long as 12 months.

Wine Barrels

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Quick Review: Wilhelmus Estate Chambourcin

US, New York, Finger Lakes, Wilhelmus Estate, Chambourcin, 2008 
+ // Fruity // Plum, oak // Red plum, oak, tannin // Medium

Chambourcin is a "hybrid grape" which has only been available since the 60s. It's particularly resistant to fungal disease and works well in cool climates.  

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Do You Know? . . . About Winemaking

How does wine get made? Award-winning winemaker William Pokluda offers us a sneak peek:

As the "must" of crushed grapes begins to ferment, it needs to be stirred several times a day to mix in oxygen. A commercial winery will have huge vats which are stirred with long poles.
Siphoning the juice from the "must" into the bottle for fermentation.

Thanks to William Pokluda for sharing these fascinating videos with us!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Quick Review: Split Rock Winery Cabernet Sauvignon

US, CT, Split Rock Winery, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2010
+ // Fruity, Spicy // Petrol, Earth // Black Pepper, Strawberry, Leather // Medium

This wine needed a little more time to "open up" than we normally give our reds. Initially, the flavors weren't as balanced as we would like, but by the second glass the oxidation had mellowed it out a bit, balancing fruit and spice notes, with a bit more pepper than is found in most California Cabernet Sauvignon. We're still wildly impressed that this came from a winemaker who is a hobbyist. You would never have known.  Of course, you can't find this wine in any shop or restaurant menu, but we review it here as a glimpse into what's going on behind the scenes in this industry. People are making their own wine, and it's good!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Amateur Producer, Professional Taste

One of the benefits of getting involved in the world of wine is that it always seems to give us something to talk about with new people we meet. Tina recently discovered a coworker makes his own wine when he shared a bottle with us at the holidays. We were not expecting the high quality we found in the Cabernet Sauvignon, and were intrigued by the idea of making wine, what it entails, and the rewards and benefits. So, we reached out to William Pokluda, from Split Rock Winery, with a few questions about his process.

Friday, May 18, 2012

How-To: Pair Wine & Cheese

In many ways, wine and cheese are the easiest and most common pairing, seen at cocktail parties everywhere. There are no hard and fast rules of finding cheese and wine that go well together, but the simplest guideline is to try to pair "like with like".

Weight: Cheese is always rich and fatty, but the levels vary depending on the type of cheese. A fresh goat cheese will work much better with a light-bodied wine, while a dense aged cheddar will pair better with a heavier wine.

Flavor: There is a little more flexibility here, as sometimes contrasting flavors can add to the pairing, but usually similar flavors work best together. A sweet and funky blue cheese will work well with an aged dessert wine, while a grassy Swiss cheese works well with a crisp and mineral-y white wine.

Region: Especially with French and Italian wines, there is a long history of the parallel development of wine and cheese. The terrior of the vineyards and the grasslands that feed the cattle are similar and therefore impart similar flavors. A Chianti may work best with some Provolone, while Rioja pairs well with Asiago.

The best way to figure out the pairings you like is to experiment--and have fun! There is definitely no right and wrong in pairing, but there is "better paired" and "not as well-paired."

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Quick Review: McClean Vineyards Syrah

CA, Paso Robles, McClean Vineyards, Syrah 2004
++ // Smooth // Black Forest Cake (chocolate, cherry, some ethanol)// Cherry, Spices, Grass // Medium

The fruit and spice were an excellent compliment to flavors of Pot Roast and Cranberry Sauce.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Did You Know?... About Cotes du Rhone

Cotes du Rhone (pronounced coat doo rone) is a AOC region in the south of France, along the Rhone river. It includes such famous wine regions as Chateauneuf-du-Pape and Hermitage, and the region usually produces more wine than any other French appellation other than Bordeaux. 

Syrah is the only grape grown in Northern Rhone, and results in earthy and spicy wines, while Southern Rhone reds can include Grenache, Cinsault, Mourvedre, and Carignan (and blends of such) which add rounder, fruitier flavors to their wines. White wines are a blend of Viognier, Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, Roussanne, among other varietals. Southern Rhone is also one of the only regions to make a sweet Muscat, in a style similar to Port.

So, when you see a wine labeled "Cotes du Rhone," you will now know which grapes to expect. For red, either Syrah or Grenache blend, and whites, likely Viognier or blend of some such.

Courtesy of

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Quick Review: Wine at Abigail Wine Bar

Italy, Veneto, La Vendemmia, Sangiovese, 2009 
/ // Fruity// Cherry, floral // Cherry, cranberry, seeds // Light

France, Cotes du Rhone, Domaine des Auzieres
+ // Fruity // Stewed raspberry // Cranberry // Medium
Good snack wine, very tart. Gets the mouth watering. This is probably a blend with mostly Grenache grape.

Almost the same flavors as some NY reds enjoyed recently. The temperate climates produce tart red wines in many cases.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Afternoon Snack at Abigail Wine Bar

It had become habit: most Sundays this past winter were spent at Open Houses. Perhaps it was the hours spent hoofing it around Brooklyn, or maybe it was the enormity of the decision, but as we finished our last tour of the day, we would find ourselves asking, "a glass of wine, dear?" Being in a happy marriage means never saying "no," of course, and off we'd go.

Friday, May 11, 2012

How-To: Learn More about Wine

We’ve discussed before how elusive—and therefore daunting—wine can feel. And, while we’ve heard from many people a desire to know more and be more confident in their choices, there seems to be a disconnect between that desire and reality. We suspect that’s because the wine industry overall seems to project an “all or nothing” stance, meaning, either you become the connoisseur or you resolve yourself for a life of ignorance. Not so! As we’ve suggested, a little knowledge goes a long way, and, for the majority of us, it’s all we need in order to fully enjoy our wine experience. While I’m sure our readers agree that this blog is the be-all, end-all to wine education, we thought it prudent to discuss the various options for learning more about wine so that you can pick and choose your own path.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Quick Review: Three California Zinfandels (Part 2)

US, California, N. Sonoma, Carol Shelton Wines, Mendocino County, Zinfandel, Wild Thing Old Vine, 2008 
++ / Fruity / Berry / Cherry / Full Bodied
There was no tartness or spice in this wine. In fact, the wine was "creamy" due to the wild yeast used for production.

US, California, N. Sonoma, Pedroncelli Winery, Dry Creek Valley, Dry Rose of Zinfandel, 2010 
++ / Crisp / Berry / Strawberry, Plum / Light Bodied
 This is how white zinfandel is meant to be! This rose wine was crisp and mouthwatering, and had a bright red color to it. We’ve become fans of rose wines in the past year or so, once we realized they were all not the pink zinfandels of yesteryear. Mmmm…

US, California, N. Sonoma, BarefootCellars, Lodi, Zinfandel, NV 
+ / Fruity / Berry / Strawberry / Full Bodied
Included because Barefoot Cellars is distributed everywhere, but the Zinfandel less so. Ask for it: at less than $7/bottle, a risk-free way to get started with zinfandel. And NV means it will taste the same year over year. Enjoy!

Note in the above, that, while the wineries are all located in N. Sonoma County, California, the grapes were sourced from vineyards across California. This is a very European style of wine production – go where the grapes are great, produce where you have your winery.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Did you know? . . . About Zinfandel

Zinfandel is called “America’s Heritage Wine” by Zinfandel Advocates & Producers. The grape is thought to be one of the oldest varietals from which wine is still being made, and was introduced to California vineyards in 1852. Today, the grape has become synonymous with California in the world’s wine market.

When thinking of Zinfandel, many people remember the pink drink, called “White Zinfandel” that was popular in the 1980s and which has earned the grape a reputation for producing girly wines.

Not so! Zinfandel is lush, fruity, and bold.  Zinfandel wines are most often characterized by the fruit note, which leans towards cherry, strawberry, and boysenberry. Thanks to differences in the AOC regions of California, a wide range of Zinfandel options exist, from spicy to fruity to tart. The grape is sometimes blended with Petite Sirah to round out its flavors. The fruit is often very ripe when harvested, and the result is that most zinfandel wines are high in alcohol content, as high as 15% or more.

Overall, think of Zinfandel as your fruitiest of wines (not sweet, fruity!), and expect pepper and tartness as part of the deal.

Fun with labels, particularly this play off the grapes shorthand, "Zin."

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Quick Review: Three California Zinfandels

US, CA, Paso Robles, Peachy Canyon Winery, Incredible Red, 2010
++ / Fruity / Berry, Earth / Cherry , White Pepper / Medium Bodied

Very drinkable, and this Zinfandel would retail just over $10 in most stores.

US, CA, Sonoma Valley, Cline Cellars, Live Oak Zinfandel, 2010
++ / Spicy / Berry, Earth / White pepper, Eucalyptus, Fruit / Medium Bodied

US, CA, Lake County, Chacewater Wine, Sierra Foothills, Zinfandel, 2010
++ / Earthy / Berry / Cherry / Medium Bodied
Tannins from the barrels leave most zinfandel tart; here, the tannins were “smooth”, meaning, the tartness didn’t burn going down.

Notice how three zinfandel from three California AOC regions can be so different, also notice where they have similarities.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Zinfandel Trade Show

We were both very surprised to receive an email invite to a tradeshow on the Zinfandel grape. It was the first time someone had said, “come here, drink, do a story!” The event was being hosted by ZAP (Zinfandel Advocates and Producers) and was an early preview for a day’s worth of activities around this grape. Tina couldn’t help but think that some mistake had been made: why would they be invited to a trade show with other media folk? Oh, right, the blog and other published pieces. 

Denise Shumway, Brand Director of Kobrand*

Friday, May 4, 2012

Quick Review... Brooklyn Winery Rd 3

NY, Finger Lakes, Heart & Hands, Pinot Noir 2009
++ // Earthy // Cherry, Strawberry, Chocolate, Carmel Apple // Slate, Cherry // Light-Medium

A surprising find, as we haven't encountered many Pinot Noir's out of the Finger Lakes, and none that could compare to ones from the West Coast. Instead of trying to mimic an Oregon Pinot Noir, this wine embraced the terroir of the Finger Lakes, letting the slate and earth notes come through to balance with the natural fruitiness of Pinot Noir.

France, Muscadet de Sevre et Maine, Domaine de la Pepiere, Melon de Bourgonge 2010
\ \\ Fruity \\ Citrus \\ Red Grapefruit, Grapefruit \\ Light

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Quick Review: Brooklyn Winery Part 2

France, Cotes de Thongue, Les Chemins de Bassac, Roussane/Viognier 2010
+ // Crisp // Apple, Graphite // Citrus // (Very) Light

The flavor of apple just wafted across the tongue before evaporating, making a very easy to drink wine. This is a blend of Roussane and Viognier grapes.

Spain, Rioja, Vina Gravonia, R. Lopez de Heredia, Viura 2002
++ // Funky, Crisp // Leather, Old Peach, Toffee // Apricot, Peach, Graphite, Ash // Medium

A white wine, aged 4 yrs in the barrel, this was a very different wine. Almost like a tawny port, without the sweet notes, it was still an easy drinking wine for the afternoon.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Did you know?... About Urban Wineries

In the universe of wine, there are winemakers who step out of the vineyard to focus on the production of the wine. These winemakers buy their grapes from winegrowers, and it follows that they can establish production facilities almost anywhere: no farm required. So, it makes sense that in recent years a smattering of wine production facilities have popped up in cities across the U.S. Considering that breweries have been in city centers for centuries, it shouldn't surprise us when we come across an urban winery, and yet, it's difficult for us to divorce the vineyard from the wine-making, even though it's happening more and more. These "urban wineries" have several business models available to them.

Wine Press At Brooklyn Winery

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Quick Review: Brooklyn Winery Part 1

Italy, Campania, Vinosia Falanghina 2010
+ // Crisp / Floral, Fruit // Apple, Cantelope // Medium

Austria, Wagram, Wimmer-Czerny Roter Veltliner 2010
+ // Crisp // Lemon, Earth // Lemon, Honeydew Melon // Medium