Virginia Wine Time

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Category: Wine Items

How To Taste Wine

Bingler & Brown

During our most recent visit to King Family Vineyards we chatted with one of our favorite tasting room managers, Matt Brown. He has transitioned out of his role as Tasting Room Manager at King Family Vineyards and has begun a new adventure in the wine industry. Along with his business partner, Melissa Bingler, he is starting a wine management, consulting, and education firm in Charlottesville called Bingler & Brown.

binglerbrown

There are essentially three components to their business:

(1) They provide storage and management of private wine collections in their climate controlled warehouse. These collections can range from 1 case to 100 cases. Each case in their care is cataloged and clients will have access to their staff to discuss the ins and outs of their various bottles (value, when to drink, how to serve, what else they may like to try, etc..)

(2) They consult with local wine shops, restaurants, cafes, and bars about purchase decisions, wine lists, and proper wine service. They can provide training not only for owners but also for front line staff on how to present their wine programs in the best light.

(3) Knowledge is power! They will be offering numerous casual level classes for consumers who want to have a stronger understanding of what wine is all about. In addition, they will also be leading professional level classes for those who want to start a wine career or for people in the industry who want to take their careers to the next level. Initially this will start by offering a prep course for the Certified Specialist of Wine designation through the Society of Wine Educators. In the Spring, in conjunction with some other people, they will begin leading some of the Level I and Level II courses that are a part of the Wine & Spirit Education Trust curriculum.

Matt grew up in a family owned business, then graduated college to work for another family owned business, and is now starting his own small business. He is very excited about this new venture! Check out their website and see what they can do for your wine collection. And when you do, tell Matt and Melissa that Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Wine Storage

Swirl, Sip, Snark and Cellarblog have posted pictures of their wine racks. I’m very impressed with their wine storage. Frank from Drink What You Like also kicked in his photo on Twitter. They have issued a challenge for all Virginia wine blogs to post about their wine storage. Wanting to be part of the in crowd and participate I decided to show how I store my wine. I have two separate areas for my wine. I store them both in my dining room. I have one rack just for white wines and then on the other side of the room I have two racks for all my red wines. Both racks are organized by winery. My wine collection is almost exclusively Virginia wine so I can store them on the racks by winery. This works out well when I’m looking for a specific wine from a specific winery. So here are the pictures of my wine racks. How do you store your wine?

White wine rack…I also have several bottles chilling in the refrigerator.

Red wine racks.

Not to leave out Warren, I will say that he stores his wine in several places around his house. He has most of them in a closet that keeps a pretty constant temperature and lots of darkness.

Unicorn Winery

Last weekend we went to Unicorn Winery. It was time to check in and see what was new and chat with Sandy LePage, one of the owners of Unicorn Winery.

The white wines we tasted were the 2008 Pinot Gris, the 2008 Chardonnay, the Table Rock White, and the 2008 Traminette. We also tasted the Slightly Embarrassed, the blush wine. Warren and I both agreed the gold star for the whites went to the 2008 Traminette. Its a light white wine with hints of pear and melon. We thought this one would be a good summer sipper on a warm day.

During our tasting we were able to sample the different flavored pita chips, sauces, and olive oil they now sell at Unicorn. Warren even left with a bottle of the olive oil. The olive oil is from Greece and can be purchased in 250 ml or 500 ml bottles.

On to the reds. We tasted the 2005 Merlot, the 2005 Chambourcin, the 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon, the 2005 Cabernet Franc, and the 2005 Crimson Sunset. While they were all nice wines, Warren and I agreed again the gold star should go to the 2005 Merlot. Its medium bodied with black cherry notes and an easy finish. We thought this one would go well with pizza.

To finish our tasting we tried the Frappe Vino. Its like a wine slushy. They serve it in two flavors; pinot gris and merlot. I really enjoyed the pinot gris version. It was refreshing considering how warm it was that day. Its always fun to catch up with Sandy at Unicorn Winery. If you stop by, tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!

Enotria Guide

Are you looking for an iPhone app that helps you pronounce the wines of the world? The Enotria Guide is for you. With this app you can find the wine word you’re looking for and have the app pronounce it for you. We received a copy to test out. I have an iPad and while it’s written for the iPhone, it does work on the iPad. An iPad specific version is in the works. We tested it out and found that it had lots of layers to go through to find the words but the words are pronounced clearly and with the correct accent. If you are in the industry and already know how to pronounce the wines of the world, you’ll find this app useless. However, if you are new to wine this app might help you pronounce the words correctly. Have fun!

McHenry Cellars

Happy New Year!
Click on the picture below to see a short video.

Drink This!

coverWine, of course! Actually, I’m referring to Drink This: Wine Made Simple by Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl. Grumdahl’s purpose for writing Drink This is to bring the potentially bewildering (and pretentious) experience of wine tasting to a very basic level. Written for both the novice oenophile and the experienced sommelier and everyone else in between, Drink This offers wine tasting and pairing tips, debunks myths and mistakes about wine, and presents easy-to-understand facts about wine regions and varietals. Wondering what kind of wine to bring to a dinner party? Want to splurge on bubbly for a special event but your wallet has the recession flu? Drink This offers practical advice for these circumstances and many others. Grumdahl’s wise words for the budget weary allow the consumer to buy quality wines at value prices; at the same time, she offers savvy selections that present creative alternatives to California Chardonnay or French Champagnes.

I also appreciate Grumdahl’s no-nonsense approach to the wine experience. Her clever style and straight-forward approach disarms the wine snob and puts the beginner at ease. So you like Merlot? So does Grumdahl! No Sideways poseurs allowed in her book; however, if Merlot is not your thing, Grumdahl has a suggestion for you. Don’t know the difference between Bordeaux, Burgundy or any other wine region? Dara is glad you asked. Structured in a concise, clearly organized yet complete fashion, your questions are answered.

With the holiday season upon us, consider giving Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl’s Drink This: Wine Made Simple as a gift for that favorite wine collector or budding aficionado on your list. Should anyone wonder where you heard of this excellent wine source, mention that you read about it on Virginia Wine Time.

Cutter & Buck American Classic Wine Set

We received a Cutter & Buck American Classic wine set from Forte Promotions and thought we’d review the products. In the set you get a classic waiter’s corkscrew, a drip ring, and a wine pourer. We chose to open a bottle of Woodland Vineyards Merlot with the set and record the opening for others to see. Other wine accessories from Forte Promotions can be found here.

All the products were of high quality steel and came in a decorative leather topped case. We started with the foil cutter part of the wine opener. The foil cutter does not have a serrated edge so be careful when cutting the foil. A serrated edge would make the foil removal easier. The corkscrew worked as expected. It opened the bottle without issue and the grip was very comfortable. The drip ring slid over the top of the bottle smoothly. The wine pourer fit snugly in the bottle but we must report that when pulling the wine pourer out, the rubber casket came off the pourer and stayed in the bottle. We had no problem getting it out of the bottle though. Overall it’s a nice product and works as expected. The packaging is very attractive and would make a nice gift.

Click on the picture below to see a short video.

1000 Best Wine Secrets

Walking into a wine shop in search of that perfect bottle of wine can be intimidating, and it is certainly easy to think that the most expensive wines must be the best wines. And then there are other misconceptions—only California can produce Chardonnays might be one of them. Serve only white wines with fish might be another. Carolyn Hammond, a wine writer and founder of the Wine Tribune, sets the record straight in her comprehensive yet easy to read wine guide, 1000 Best Wine Secrets. Written for the novice aficianado, even the more experienced connoisseurs can use Ms. Hammond’s guide to learn how to buy the right bottle of wine, how to pair food with wine, and to expand knowledge about a broader array of wine varietals. As the title suggests, there are at least 1000 wine tips to learn from this wine guide!

This guide is written in a very accessible manner. Organized into four parts and thirty chapters, topics include selecting the right wines, tasting wines, important wine regions, and trade secrets that debunk myths about wine. Have you wondered when to decant wines? Did you know that Hungary produces world class wines? Heard the word “tannin” but not sure what it means? The answers to these sorts of questions are revealed in this wine guide. Probably the most prevalent myth about wine is that only expensive wines are worth drinking; therefore, building a quality wine collection must be costly. Hammond puts this one to rest as she devotes ten pages to recommend quality wines for under $20! Newbies and pros can certainly take advantage of these valuable recommendations.

Another beneficial feature of this guide is its size. Many wine guides are dense with information and bulky to carry. How many times have you walked into a wine shop armed with the information gleaned from these sources only to realize that you have forgotten what you read? This guide can be easily held in the hand or slipped into the purse while browsing the shelves at the wine store, and since it is organized into bite-sized portions of information, facts can be researched within seconds. Reached the shelf labeled “Portugal” and want to know more? Flip to Chapter 12, and tip #636 explains that the 2001 Altano Reserva Duoro is “an excellent wine from the Douro region.” Further details reveal the varietals used and their characteristics. The 1000 Best Wine Secrets can be the next best thing to creating a personal contact at the wine store; in fact, those who already have such a relationship may still want to bring this guide along with them.

Since we devote much time to promoting Virginia wine, I must note that only one very small paragraph is devoted to Virginia wine while a lengthier section is devoted to New York wines. Of course, Virginia is a small producer in the international arena of wine production, but perhaps Ms. Hammond will continue to sample Virginia’s award-winning wines and note their progress in her next edition!

Storing Wine

How do you store your wine? There are many ways of course but there are several things to take into consideration when storing your wine. Temperature, humidity, darkness, calm, and angle of storage are just a few of the factors involved with wine storage. Paul found a great article online to help in figuring the best situation for storing your wine. To read about all the factors involved with storing wine, click here.

Recently Paul decided to change the way he was storing his wine. Believe it or not, he was storing it above the refrigerator in his kitchen. The temperature alone was not ideal. So he decided to move all his wines into a larger rack system and move the rack into the living room on the floor. This is a cooler, darker place and all the bottles of wine can sit properly at the right angle. A wine cellar would be ideal but when you live in a condo you have to make due with what you have.


How do you store your wine?

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