Archive for November, 2010

Wine Review: 2008 Saddlebred Cellars Chardonnay

November 30th, 2010 No comments

I’m always on the hunt for a great Chardonnay.  And I have to admit that I’m especially drawn to creamy, buttery Chards.  You can’t drink Cabernet Sauvignon all winter, and sometimes the smooth decadence of a good Chardonnay hits the spot perfectly.  And as always, when I drink a nice wine, the first thing I want to do is share it with you.

Tonight, that’s the 2008 Saddlebred Cellars Chardonnay.  If you’re partial to rich, buttery Chardonnays, this one’s for you.  It’s easy-drinking, great for those times when you’re craving something other than red wine in the wintertime, but it also has a richness that would make it pair well with the stews and creamy pasta dishes that we crave this time of year.

The 2008 Saddlebred Cellars Chardonnay is rich with the aromas of vanilla and butter, but it’s well-balanced by oak and tangerine flavors.  Give it a chance–it just might become your go-to Chardonnay grab.  And at about $15 a bottle, it’s totally reasonable.  Cheers!

Categories: Wine Reviews Tags: ,

How to Gift Wrap a Wine Bottle

November 28th, 2010 No comments

With the holiday season comes dinner party invitations.  And with dinner party invitations come gifts for the host.  There’s no more traditional dinner party offering than a bottle of wine–and why not?  Wine is a crowd-pleaser: with it, you really don’t have to worry that your hosts are smiling on the outside, but thinking on the inside, “Now what are we going to do with this?

But if you’re going to go to the trouble of picking out and purchasing a bottle of wine for your hosts, you don’t just want to plunk it down, unadorned, in the center of the table.  Gift wrapping a bottle of wine adds an appropriately festive touch.  But how to do it?  Wine isn’t box-shaped, after all (Well, some is.  But you really shouldn’t be giving that kind as a gift).

The simplest method for gift wrapping wine is this: set the bottle in the middle of a large square of tissue paper or colored cellophane.  Gather the edges up at the top of the bottle, and tie with a pretty ribbon (you can also hang a nice tag from the ribbon identifying yourself as the awesome gift-giver).  This method is pretty, and totally simple (sorry men, you can’t get out of wrapping this present).

You can also wrap a bottle this way in brown paper or even newspaper.  It looks artsy-chic, and it’s eco-friendly.  Just make sure to use a nice ribbon so it won’t look like you dug your wrapping paper out of the recycling bin (even if you did).  For another cool way to wrap wine in newspaper, check out the video below:

Another method is to just wrap the label.  This makes for an elegant presentation.  It also allows you guests to easily identify the gift, while still being surprised by the kind of wine in the bottle.  To do this, use ribbon edged with wire, wrap several times around the label, and secure the end with a small-stick on bow in the complementary color.

Do you have any great bottle-wrapping techniques?  We’d love to hear your ideas!

3 More Wine Apps for iPhone

November 26th, 2010 2 comments

Since we got such a great response to our original 3 iPhone Apps for Wine Lovers post, we thought we’d give you iPhone-wielding wine lovers three new reasons to shop for apps.  Here’s what’s new and cool: Wine Info: If you’re feature-happy, this is the app for you.  It allows you to scan the barcode available on most bottles, then searches its wine database–which is nearly a million strong, by the way–to track down the bottle you’re considering.  You can read reviews, make notes, and even compare similar bottles side-by-side. has got choosing a bottle of wine down to a science.  Price: $3.99

Fromage: Fromage is to vinophiles like, well, cheese is to wine.  Cheese is probably the world’s most popular snack to accompany your favorite beverage, but pairing wines and cheeses is notoriously difficult.  Enter Fromage.  This simple app has a database of over 650 cheeses, and for each, it gives a flavor profile and offers wine pairing suggestions.  Your cheese platter choices just got easy.  Price: $2.99

Wine Wherever: This is the perfect app for the traveling wine lover.  With a tap of your iPhone screen, you can get a complete listing of all the wineries in your area.  So next time you’re in Oregon, California, New York, or even Texas, check out Wine Wherever and imbibe of the best local beverages.  Price: $2.99 per regional map.

Know of a great wine app (for any platform–see our previous posts for Android and Blackberry) that we haven’t covered yet? Tell us about it in the comments!

Wine Review: 2010 Mulderbosch Rosé

November 23rd, 2010 No comments

Who says Rosés are just for summertime?  They’re actually also great for those winter nights when you’d like to sip on something a little lighter.  Rosés are especially great with those spicy foods we crave to warm us up when the thermometer drops, so think about cracking one open next time you order Chinese or make a spicy cold-weather soup.

Tonight, I’m pairing some chicken curry with a wonderful 2010 Mulderbosch Rosé from South Africa.  It’s dry and smooth, but its fruit flavors come through pleasantly.  In my case, it’s a welcome break from the rich, hearty Cabernet Sauvignons I’ve been drinking lately.  It’s really not a traditional winter wine, as the fruits that come through are delicate summer berry flavors–predominantly strawberry, with a touch of mineral acidity for balance.  But it reminds me of the tastes and smells of summer, and is the perfect complement to my spicy, creamy curry.

Think outside the box, and let this nice Rosé bring a little summer to your chilly winter nights.  What’s your favorite non-traditional winter wine?

Categories: Wine Reviews Tags: ,

The Thanksgiving Leftovers Solution

November 21st, 2010 No comments

The thing about Thanksgiving is that when the dishes are done and the last stray family member has been gently coaxed out the door, there are always leftovers.  I’m talking about two kinds of leftovers, one good, one bad.  The food leftovers are the wonderful ones: almost better than Thanksgiving itself is a perfect Thanksgiving leftovers sandwich with roast turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce inside.

But the leftovers you’re sad to find in the kitchen?  The half-empty wine bottles that collected on the table and in corners.  Whether you’re opening a new wine for each course, or pleasing everyone with one white and one red, you’re bound to have a couple of strays lingering in corners, unnoticed until after the guests have left.

Throwing out this kind of Thanksgiving leftovers would be sacrilegious to any true oenophile.  But what to do?  They’ll go bad before you can finish them off.  Meet the WineKeeper, a wonderful invention for wine lovers all year round, but especially useful for the adult version of Thanksgiving leftovers.

The WineKeeper is a wine preservation system to that allows you to keep your bottles perfectly fresh for weeks.  It works by

WineKeeper's 4-bottle "Napa" model

replacing the oxygen in the top of an opened bottle (which is what speeds up the aging process–too much exposure causes the wine to spoil), with nitrogen gas, which doesn’t react with the wine.  The bottle is hooked up to a tap, so that you can easily pour yourself (or a guest) a fresh glass whenever you please.

The WineKeeper is a great product for wine lovers, because it allows you to keep open several bottles at once.  Say you and your spouse feel like drinking different wines, or you’re hosting a small dinner party in which you show off your expertise by matching the perfect wine to each course.  A wine preservation system allows you to keep several bottles open at once without ever worrying that your hard-earned investment will end up down the drain.

If there’s a wine collector in your family, you might also consider a WineKeeper for a fabulous Christmas present.  Bonus: no wine will be wasted this Christmas dinner!

Investing in Wine Can Offer Great Returns

November 19th, 2010 No comments

…and as this infographic points our, you can always drink your failed investments, a pleasure that certainly doesn’t apply to failed real estate or stocks.

The best investment wines are almost always the higher-priced wines from longstanding winemakers. Those bottles are more likely to remain in high demand than are lower-priced wines. Wine is a market of tradition–pedigree and provenance are key.

When buying wine as an investment, it’s important to buy from a trustworthy source–just a few days in bad conditions can significantly damage a wine, and you won’t be able to tell by looking at the bottle. The web has become a massive marketplace for wine (and everything else!), but buy with care. The same applies for when you sell your investments, though–if you haven’t taken perfect care of your bottles, they won’t be worth top dollar. All the more reason to build a good wine cellar!

The infographic below covers some more details on the performance of investment wines (look how it compares to the stock market over the last few years), as well as a few other “alternative” investment options…none of which are drinkable, unfortunately!


Infographic by

Categories: Purchasing Wine Tags:

Featured in Wine Spectator: The Gilliland Wine Cellar

November 17th, 2010 1 comment

Three Vintage Cellars custom wine cellar projects were recently featured in Wine Spectator magazine. You can click that link to see the original article; in this post we are focusing on the details of one of the cellars. Click the photos for larger versions.

The Gilliland wine cellar in San Diego, built in 2009, was designed to be the focal point of the dining room. This is a small wine cellar, holding only 750 bottles or so, but it has a lot of personality. To create the space for the wine cellar, a bump-out was added to the wall. You can see the framing for this addition below:

Gilliland wine cellar framing

The framing for the bump-out to to create space for the Gilliland wine cellar.

This framing allowed for about 80 square feet of wine cellar space. After constructing the addition, the entire area was sealed, vapor-barriered and insulated to maintain temperature and prevent moisture build-up (you can read more about building a wine cellar on the main site).

The Gilliland cellar was outfitted with wine racks and display shelving, including a display area on the left side that isn’t shown in Wine Spectator:
Wine racks in the Gilliland wine cellar

There is also adjustable shelving for large-format bottles in the center of the room (you can also see a Rogar Estate bottle opener in the foreground; there is a 10% off coupon for these openers available on the Vintage Cellars Facebook, Twitter and email newsletter right now!):
Gilliland adjustable wine racks for large format bottles

The cellar is outfitted with insulated glass doors framed by a stone facade and opens into the dining room.

doors to the Gilliland wine cellar.

Small wine cellars can pack a surprising amount of wine and interesting features into a minimal space. This cellar, designed to enhance the owner’s enjoyment of their collection rather than to store investment wines, is a perfect example of how a small wine cellar can be a big enhancement to a home.

Ready to think about your own custom wine cellar project? Check out more Vintage Cellars custom wine cellars and call us for a free quote and design assistance.

Course-by-Course Thanksgiving Wine Guide

November 15th, 2010 No comments

This Thanksgiving turkey might be too pretty to eat!

There’s nothing wrong with picking a wine or two that will please all your guests and complement your full buffet of Thanksgiving dishes.  In fact, if that’s your style, we have two posts for you: one on great Thanksgiving wines, and one on Beaujolais Nouveau.

But if you’re more of the adventurous type when it comes to wine, you might think about another great technique: pairing a wine with each course.  This can be a great way to facilitate spirited dinner table conversation (something you might be looking for if you have guests you don’t know that well), or keep the table talk away from that family-dinner mood-killers: politics.  If you find your interest piqued, take a “pique” at our handy Thankgiving pairing guide:

Appetizers (think olives, pate, cheese and crackers, and the like): Champagne, Cava, Prosecco, and sparkling white wine.

Creamy soup (like a first course of roasted butternut squash soup, my family favorite): Full-bodied whites such as Chardonnay.

Green salad with vinaigrette (one with orange slices, bleu cheese and toasted walnuts makes a festive fall first course): High-acid wines like Sauvignon Blanc or Zinfandel.

Turkey and sides (of course): Think smooth.  Crisp and medium-bodied are words you should look for.  Try Pinot Noir, Beaujolais, Sauvignon Blanc, or Pinot Grigio.

Desserts: If you can handle a dessert wine after all that food, go for Sauternes or Vin Santo.  If the mere thought makes your sweatpants feel tight, go for more Champagne, or (yes, we said it) coffee.

Vintage Cellars Featured in Wine Spectator!

November 12th, 2010 No comments

inside a custom Vintage Cellars wine cellarVintage Cellars was delighted to be featured in Wine Spectator’s November 30th issue (on sale now). The article featured Vintage Cellars wine cellar projects in Escondido and San Diego, one of which is pictured above in high resolution. More from the article (click for larger images):

The Gilliland\'s 750-bottle wine cellar in San Diego, completed in \'09, features large-format storage.

The Gilliland’s 750-bottle wine cellar in San Diego, completed in ’09, features large-format storage.

More about the Gilliland wine cellar, including additional images.

Michael Thiemann\'s 4000-bottle San Diego wine cellar is the oldest featured--it was completed in \'03 and houses some lovely antique furniture in addition to wine.

Michael Thiemann’s 4000-bottle San Diego wine cellar is the oldest featured–it was completed in ’03 and houses some lovely antique furniture in addition to wine.


The Gerardy\'s Escondido wine cellar holds 4000 bottles and has a gorgeous slate floor.

The Gerardy’s Escondido wine cellar holds 4000 bottles and has a gorgeous slate floor.


Wine Spectator Cover

Look for this cover to pick up the issue!

You can pick up a copy at your favorite newsstand or wine shop to read more about these and other featured wine cellars. The article was split into sections on small, medium and large wine cellars, so it is worth a read for collectors of any scale.
For more photos of custom wine cellars, flip through the slideshows on our custom wine cellar design page. Thinking of building your own? We offer free design consultations and can work with you from sketches to finishing touches.

EuroCave Wine Cabinets

November 10th, 2010 No comments

Wine collectors used to have to settle for a cellar.  They had to leave the temperature and humidity up to nature, and as a result, they’d often end up with mold-covered corks and bad bottles.  But the modern wine collector doesn’t face these same challenges.  Available to him are sophisticated tools to help ensure that his wine collection ages to perfection.

One of the very best modern tools is the EuroCave wine cabinet.  EuroCave’s wine cabinets are so well-made that they can be found in over 70% of the UK’s Michelin-starred restaurants.  EuroCave has been one of the most well-respected wine cabinet makers for over 30 years.

Wine’s worst enemy is change.  Fluctuations in temperature and humidity can easily cause a bottle of wine to go bad, so a wine cabinet that provides consistency is a priceless tool to the modern wine collector.  EuroCave cabinets are constructed to withstand both low and high temperatures, so you could even keep your cabinet in a place like the garage–usually off-limits to collectors.

EuroCave cabinets also have a digital temperature readout that allow you to keep tabs on your wine’s environment with just a glance, and an alarm that lets you know if a door has been left open or the humidity has dropped too low.

EuroCave also offers customizable shelving, allowing you to fit in magnums, 3-liter bottles, Bordeaux bottles, and splits.  You can also opt for some bin storage that allows you to maximize the amount of bottles you can store.  EuroCave cabinets come in a variety of styles and finishes so that you can tailor this functional piece of furniture to you aesthetic specifications.

If you’re a serious wine collector, you need a serious wine cabinet.  EuroCave is one of the best out there….and Vintage Cellars has FREE SHIPPING on most EuroCave cabinets so it’s a great time to buy.