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Mother's Day Gift Ideas for the Wine Connoisseur

Mar 30, 2010

 

 

Does your mom appreciate the finer things in life like enjoying a perfect glass of wine and curling up with a good book? If your mom knows the difference between a moelleux and a Merlot, we’ve got great gift ideas for her! Depending on your age, you might not be able to buy her a bottle of her favorite vintage for Mother’s Day, but there are lots of other wine gifts and accessories that she’ll love. 

 

Gifts up to $20

  • Wine charms - If your mom loves hosting parties, wine charms are a great way for her guests to tell which glass is theirs. Look for charms that complement her design style or relate to her hobbies. Most wine charms clip around the stem of the glass, but some are built with tiny suction cups to hold them to the glass.
  • Bottle opener - Say goodbye to boring, hard-to-use corkscrews. Check department stores and other gift shops for ergonomically designed bottle openers that lift out corks with a flick of the wrist. Techie Moms will love some of the battery operated designs too!

Gifts up to $50

  • Decanter - Wine decanters are a great Mother’s Day gift idea for women who like to dress their tables elegantly for formal dinners. Pouring wine into a decanter before serving it can improve the flavor of the wine and will allow sediment to settle.
  • Stemware - There’s a good chance your mom is still using her first set of stemware. No matter how careful we are, everyone loses one or two glasses to clumsy elbows or uneven tables. Give your mom a new set of stemware in a contemporary design to update her collection. Fashionista Moms love fancy stemware too.
  • Wine tasting kit - These clever kits let your mom throw a fabulous party for all her wine-loving friends. Kits usually come with a black bag to disguise the wine bottle and scoring pads so each guest can guess where the wine is from and what kind it is. Give your mom gift certificates that she can use to buy bottles for the party.

 Gifts up to $100

  • Wine chiller - A table top wine chiller guarantees your mom’s favorite vintages are served at the ideal temperature every time. Just set the bottle in the chiller and in a matter of minutes, it’s ready to serve. Wine chillers are great Mother's Day gift ideas for foodie Moms who love gourmet cooking.
  • Wine rack - Choose a sophisticated design that matches your mom’s decorating tastes. A wine rack that can be displayed in the dining room or that offers refrigeration is a fantastic Mother’s Day gift idea.

Gifts up to $200

  • Winery tour - Most winery tours are actually free or are available at a very small cost. But if you’re going to do it, do it right. Get Mom a voucher for a bed and breakfast close to the winery or a gift certificate for the winery’s restaurant. Different tourist companies also offer creative ways for Mom to tour multiple wineries. Check for different tour companies that offer bicycle or bus tours of multiple wineries.
  • Bottle her own wine - On Premise Winemaking is going strong. Mom can make her very own wine at a Just Fine Wine and enjoy bottling and labeling it herself - or better yet, with your help! You’ll be surprised how many bottles she’ll get for a reasonable price. Just Fine Wine has gift certificates available for any denomination!

If you know your mom’s favorite type of wine, pick up a bottle for dinner or ask someone to pick it up on your behalf. Don’t forget a well-worded toast to thank your mom for being such a lovely person.

(Article from Mothers Day and More. Photo Credit: Sparkling Direct.com)

 

Italian Brunello is Here!

Mar 30, 2010

April may bring showers but it also brings us the final Limited Edition of the year!

April may bring showers but it also brings us the final Limited Edition of the year!

 

 

Pacific Quartet

April: Italian Brunello

(Originally offered in April 2007)

The Wine: Italian Brunello is a large-berried variety of the Sangiovese grape, most famous in Brunello di Montalcino. The flavour profile of Sangiovese is fruity, with strong natural acidity, a firm and elegant assertiveness and a robust finish that can extend surprisingly long. The aroma is generally subtle, with cherry, strawberry, blueberry, and violet notes. Medium-bodied but boldly tannic and intense, this gripping wine will begin to open up after six months, but the richer flavours will take at least 18 months to show, with cherry and spice dominating the long, fruity finish.

The Food: Brunello shines in the company of assertively flavoured foods. Hard cheeses such as Asiago and Parmigiano Reggiano are splendid accompaniments and the wines backbone of acids and tannins make it work well with rich and spicy foods like Italian sausages or lasagna.

Sweetness Code: 0

Fashionable Wines for Spring

Mar 28, 2010

Spring has sprung and that means it's time to lighten up. The days are longer, the flowers are blooming and the weather finally permits patio lounging time and there is no better way to enjoy that time than with a nice cool glass of wine.

Spring has sprung and that means it's time to lighten up. The days are longer, the flowers are blooming and the weather finally permits patio lounging time and there is no better way to enjoy that time than with a nice cool glass of wine.

 

It's true that wine should never be considered based on whether it's fashionable or not. After all, for many the word fashionable translates to trendy and that is certainly no way to choose your wines but there is good reason to relate wine to seasons. Spring for example embodies rejuvenation and invigoration and these characteristics call for young, light wines.

 

So what then are excellent choices for this beautiful season? Crisp Rieslings, an elegant floral Pinot Gris, a refreshing, zesty Sauvignon Blanc or a fruity German Muller-Thurgau are all supremely satisfying for Spring and otherwise. The ease in which these wines can be enjoyed are perfect choices for the refreshment that is Spring.

 

(Photo Credit: Seaside Florida)

 

The Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival

Mar 21, 2010

Mark your calenders Vancouver because the ever popular, highly regarded Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival is on its way. The festival runs from April 19-25th and this years regional themes are New Zealand and Argentina. 

Mark your calenders Vancouver because the ever popular, highly regarded Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival is on its way. The festival runs from April 19-25th and this years regional themes are New Zealand and Argentina. 

 

The festival is one of the oldest beginning in 1979 as a fundraiser by then Playhouse Board Memeber John E. Levine. Its first year featured one Vintner and attracted just 1000 people. Today the festival is one of the largest in North America and attracts aproximately 25,000 wine lovers from all over the World with 197 Wineries participating in 61 events.

 

Featuring wine tastings and food pairings, educational seminars, culinary competitions, luncheons, dinners and so much more, the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival has something for everyone, from novice to expert.

 

For more information on the festival click on the link to the official website: The Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival 

 

 

Food and Wine's 125 Reasons We Love Wine

Mar 14, 2010

The contributors over at Food and Wine.com compiled a list of their favorite things in the world of wine. The list ranges from some of their favorite wine regions, International wine country hotels, Urban Vineyards, quaint country Inn cellars and Italian villas.  The list also delves into the eccentricities of the wine world, say for example if you are in the market for a $5000 antique corkscrew, it's on the list. Looking to serve the world's most exotic raisins at your next soiree? They're on the list too.

The contributors over at Food and Wine.com compiled a list of their favorite things in the world of wine. The list ranges from some of their favorite wine regions, International wine country hotels, Urban Vineyards, quaint country Inn cellars and Italian villas.  The list also delves into the eccentricities of the wine world, say for example if you are in the market for a $5000 antique corkscrew, it's on the list. Looking to serve the world's most exotic raisins at your next soiree? They're on the list too.

 

While there are certainly a few elaborate entries, for the most part the list is a huge source of information for any wine lover.

 

Click here for the full article on Food and Wine.com.

 

(Photo Credit: Linda Paul)

 

March is Here...and so is Pacific Quartet!

Mar 2, 2010

Just how do you follow up Olympic Gold? With Pacific Quartet of course! This March Limited Edition is now in stock. If you pre-ordered this superb white wine, please drop by the shop and get yours started today.

Just how do you follow up Olympic Gold? With Pacific Quartet of course! This March Limited Edition is now in stock. If you pre-ordered this superb white wine, please drop by the shop and get yours started today.

 

Pacific Quartet

March: Pacific Quartet

(Originally offered in March 2007)

The Region:The Pacific Coast of North America has micro-climates that match those of the blazing sunshine of the Mediterranean to the crisp mountain air of the upper Rhine. With so much range and variety, there is a perfect terroir for almost any grape you can name.

The Wine:This wine showcases bright fruit, excellent structure and a long finish. Vidal from British Columbia gives spiciness and stone fruit. Chenin Blanc from California gives a wonderful melony-honeyed aroma with hints of apple. Gewürztraminer from Washington contributes lychee, rose petals and floral notes, and Muscat from Australia’s Murray- Darling Valley gives wonderful grapey notes with dried fruit and hints of orange peel.

The Food:This wine has a range of fruit character and enough acidity to stand up to a wide range of foods, particularly spicy and savoury dishes, including Thai cuisine, grilled fish, herbed roast chicken or barbecued salmon. Although delicious right on bottling day, drinking it early would prevent it from showing it’s best–after six months the Muscat and Vidal will dominate with spicy/grapey notes, after a year the Chenin Blanc’s honey and melon will come out, and at 18 months to two years the Gewürztraminer will show a perfumed floweriness and lush structure.

Sweetness Code: 1 (off dry)

Decanting: When, Why and How-To

Feb 19, 2010

Decanting wine is essentially the process of transferring wine, usually older wines or port, into a different vessel than its original bottle. It is a simple process with considerable benefits. Decanting is used to remove the sediment that may have accumulated in older wines but it is also a useful tool that allows wine to successfully breathe.  

Decanting wine is essentially the process of transferring wine, usually older wines or port, into a different vessel than its original bottle. It is a simple process with considerable benefits. Decanting is used to remove the sediment that may have accumulated in older wines but it is also a useful tool that allows wine to successfully breathe.  

 

The most common reason for decanting is to remove the sediment from an older wine, particularly red wine. The reason sediment occurs is because wine naturally has particles from the grape skins and seeds but with the aging process those particles have had the opportunity to separate from the wine and settle in the bottle. By using a decanter you can easily separate the sediment from the wine. This is a very desirable quality of decanting as the sediment is not something one would want to consume. While it is a natural result of the aging process and completely harmless, sediment is not exactly appealing to the eye or the mouth.

 

Another benefit of decanting is to let the wine breathe which simply means letting oxygen mingle with the wine, usually younger wines, to open up the the aroma and revealing the full potential of the wine by softening its young bite. Simply uncorking a bottle will not permit enough air exposure because of the small opening of the neck.

 

Finally, from a strictly vain perspective, using a decanter is a beautiful way of presenting your wine. In most cases, decanters are designed to look charming and attractive. The old saying holds true that we eat with our eyes first and the same can be said for enjoying wine. Color is an important factor in wine drinking and for that reason alone, serving wine in a decanter is fabulously alluring. 

 

When decanting to remove sediment there are a few steps to follow:

 

  • Stand the bottle upright for several hours or the day before you plan on decanting so the sediment can settle on the bottom of the bottle.
  • In addition to removing the cork you will also want to remove the foil seal surrounding the top of the bottle. This allows you to see the entire bottle and thus, when the sediment reaches the top you will know when to stop pouring. Some people choose to do the pouring process with a lit candle behind the bottle to further assist in noticing the sediment in the neck of the bottle. To do this, place the lit candle directly behind (but not touching) the neck of the bottle.
  • Gently and slowly pour the wine into the decanter trying to avoid any of the sediment sneaking in. You will notice the presence of the sediment when you see it as it is much thicker and darker than the actual wine itself. Once you see the sediment in the neck of the bottle while you are pouring this is the time to stop pouring. Place the bottle down to rest for a minute or two then carefully pour once again just to be sure.
  • After you have successfully decanted the wine you may serve it immediately.

 

In the absence of sediment if your goal is to let a younger wine breathe, simply pour the wine into the decanter and let it breathe an hour or so.

 

When choosing a decanter you'll want to look for a clear glass carafe. There are many different decanters on the market and they can range from simple glass to exquisite crystal. They come in an array of shapes, sizes, even upright or sideways versions. And while the more elegant decanters can run fairly pricey, a basic decanter will retail for an average of $20-$30 and that is all one really needs for effective decanting. These can usually be found at any gourmet kitchen shop, specialty wine stores or are widely available online.

 

Decanting is not absolutely necessary by any means but it does have its benefits and if for just a few reasons it certainly adds an extra element to partaking in a delightful bottle of wine.

 

(Photo Credit: Riedel.com)

 

Basic Proper Wine Storage

Feb 10, 2010

You've chosen your wine tastes, you know what you like but before you begin your wine collection it is important to consider proper storage for your wine. The reason storage is relevant is because there are many variables that can affect the final outcome of your wine, especially if you plan on storing it for longer than six months. Whether you are planning short term or long term storage, at a minimum, there are five basic factors:

You've chosen your wine tastes, you know what you like but before you begin your wine collection it is important to consider proper storage for your wine. The reason storage is relevant is because there are many variables that can affect the final outcome of your wine, especially if you plan on storing it for longer than six months. Whether you are planning short term or long term storage, at a minimum, there are five basic factors:

 

Temperature

Humidity

Ventilation

Light

Storage Angle

 

1. The temperature in which you store your wine is perhaps the most important factor. Especially when aging wine but even wine that is stored for just a few months can be affected by poor temperature conditions. Ideally you'll want the temperature to be between 40-65 degrees Fahrenheit or 7-18 degrees Celsius. It is also important that the temperature level rarely fluctuates more than 5 degrees F or 2-3 degrees C.

 

2. Humidity is important because a too humid environment can create mildew and potentially rot the cork. Where as if the environment is too dry, the cork can dry out and crack. An optimal humidity level is one that is between 50% and 70%.

 

3. The cork may allow air to seep into the bottle so ventilation is important because storing your wine near products that have intense odors such as cleaning products could inevitably permeate into the wine.

 

4. Although the bottles have built in filters that will protect the wine to a certain degree, they can only do so much but not all, therefore storing wine in a dark place that will not allow UV light to penetrate the glass, which causes degradation, is necessary.

 

5. Store your wine anywhere between horizontally and a 45 degree angle to ensure the wine is always touching the cork which will further reduce any chances of air getting into the bottle through the cork.

 

Essentially what we are trying to achieve with proper storage is avoiding the allowance of air, humidity and light to come into contact with the wine being that these three factors are what will ultimately alter the quality of your wine. Humidity and temperature fluctuation can be the hardest areas to control and that's where a wine cooler, otherwise known as a wine refrigerator can be helpful. There are many brands, sizes and styles available ranging from the most basic and economical to the elaborate and extravagant. While a cooler is not critical to your wine storage it can certainly be of assistance and make the process easier.

 

For more information on wine coolers click here for a comprehensive guide from Wine Coolers Guide, complete with reviews on a variety of coolers.

 

(References: Cellar Notes, Basic Wine Knowledge, Jonathon Wilson. Photo Credit: Wine Storage.biz)

 

Successfully Serving Wine at Your Superbowl Party

Jan 31, 2010

Dare you serve wine at a Superbowl party? Oh yes, you dare. If you're confused, allow me to explain. Superbowl parties are no longer an event where only chicken wings and beer are allowed. The times are changing and believe it or not, serving wine at your Superbowl party is not only acceptable but widely welcomed. Sure, you'll also want to include beer and a few non-alcohol options but there is definitely room for wine. The key to successfully offering wine is to serve a variety of wonderful dishes that go along with it.

Dare you serve wine at a Superbowl party? Oh yes, you dare. If you're confused, allow me to explain. Superbowl parties are no longer an event where only chicken wings and beer are allowed. The times are changing and believe it or not, serving wine at your Superbowl party is not only acceptable but widely welcomed. Sure, you'll also want to include beer and a few non-alcohol options but there is definitely room for wine. The key to successfully offering wine is to serve a variety of wonderful dishes that go along with it.

Superbowl fare generally consists of chili, wings and chips and dip which are all delicious however, there's a new favorite to contend with and that is the New Orleans themed Superbowl party which thankfully, encourages serving wine. While it's famously known for its cuisine, New Orleans is equally known for throwing a good party. Put the two together and you have a surefire hit.

According to Award winning Chef John Folse, Owner of Lafitte's Landing Restaurant in New Orleans and author of The Encyclopedia of Cajun and Creole Cuisine, "Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are great examples of wines that pair perfectly with New Orleans food." Whether you are rooting for New Orleans or Indianapolis on February 7th, your guests will certainly be cheering for you and your Cajun and Creole inspired party. Unless of course they are Indianapolis fans, but you can be certain they will still enjoy the food and wine.

 

Serve any of these fantastic recipes for a tasty New Orleans Themed Superbowl Party:

 

Pork and Sausage Jambalya 

Louisiana Crab Dip

New Orleans Barbecue Shrimp

Blue Cheese Gougere

Oysters Rockefeller

Cajun Stuffed Mushrooms

Louisiana Crab Cakes with Creole Tartar Sauce

Po' Boy Sandwiches

 

(Photo Credit: Squidoo.com)

Autralian Petit Verdot Now Available!

Jan 27, 2010

Can you believe the first month of 2010 has already come and gone? The silver lining is that it's not much longer to wait for your Limited Edition South African Shiraz and California Lake County Trio Blanca. And as an added bonus, it's time to start your Australian Petit Verdot! For those who pre-ordered this fantastic wine, please drop by the shop to get yours started.

Can you believe the first month of 2010 has already come and gone? The silver lining is that it's not much longer to wait for your Limited Edition South African Shiraz and California Lake County Trio Blanca. And as an added bonus, it's time to start your Australian Petit Verdot! For those who pre-ordered this fantastic wine, please drop by the shop to get yours started.

 

February Australian Petit Verdot

(Originally offered in April 2004)
The Region: South East Australia is a literal hotbed of grape growing. The abundant sunshine hours and heat allow growers to ripen varieties that have all but been abandoned by growing regions less blessed. Petit Verdot is one such variety. It makes unsurpassed red wines in Bordeaux, where it goes into their classic Cabernet-Merlot blends, yet the climate there is too cool to ripen it reliably.

The Wine: Best described as a ‘Super Cabernet’, it makes dark, rich wines, with wonderfully concentrated flavours of spice, blackberry and blackcurrant. With smooth, gripping tannins and an elegant structure leading to a magnificent boldly oaked finish, this is a wine for long term ageing and special occasions.

The Food: Excellent when paired with steak, prime rib, lamb, intense cheeses, and game.


Sweetness Code: 0