Archive for June, 2011

Little Wine, Who Rated Thee?

June 29th, 2011 No comments

Whether or not we like to admit it, wine tasting is a subjective experience.  We all have different palates when it comes to food, music, movies, and entertainment, and we’re certainly not built alike when it comes to enjoying wine.  Confessing you dislike a 92 point wine is no crime, and it does not label you a philistine. 

It’s important to remember that wine ratings come from people.  Ratings are not the result of extensive scientific testing!  A wine’s rating is one person’s (sometimes a panel’s) subjective response to a given experience of that wine.  (Often, because of diversity within panels, wines come out with ratings lower than if they were tasted and rated independently!) 

This is where following a specific taster with similar preferences comes in handy.  Once you find a high-rated wine you really like, discover who did the rating and see if this individual’s other high marks give you similar satisfaction.  If so, follow this taster for wines you’re more likely to enjoy.  This is similar to keeping up with the releases of your favorite bands or artists; chances are good that you’ll like them or, at the least, find them worthy of some merit.  Equally important, learn who gave great ratings to wines you particularly dislike.  If you come across highly-ranked bottles by these individuals, you may think twice about taking a chance on them. 

Remember, you cannot reduce wine to a number.  The multifaceted, multivariable experience of wine tasting can never be adequately expressed by a double digit.  Remember our previous post, Fooled by Numbers: Wine Ratings and You?  Don’t let a wine’s rating impact your tasting enjoyment.  Follow the pathways paved by raters with similar tastes, but in the end let your tongue be the ultimate leader.  Cheers!

Visit Vintage Cellars’ Wine Storage Education Center!

June 27th, 2011 No comments

Wine Cellar

Have a question about how wine cooling systems work?  Wondering about the similarities and differences between various wine racks and wine racking kits?  Need help choosing the right wine cabinet for your needs and living space?  Perhaps you simply want to learn more about how wine preservation systems work to keep your open bottles as fresh as possible?  Now is the time to take advantage of Vintage Cellars’ own Wine Storage Education Center.  Packed with information about these topics, plus additional information pertaining to various wines, opening and serving wine, wine cellars, humidity control, thermoelectric and vapor compression cooling, the science of aging wine, wine glasses, decanters, and much more, the Wine Storage Education Center is your source for information concerning all things wine-related.  With technical, historical, and even scientific articles,  you’re bound to come away learning something new about the wine you love.  And perhaps you’ll be inspired to try some of the tips you read at home?

  • An example of a versatile article that covers much ground is Stephanie Warren’s The Science of Wine Aging.  In this engaging composition, Stephanie succinctly provides a brief history of wine aging, delves into the chemistry of wine aging discussing compounds like esters and tannins, explains how oxidation impacts wine, and reveals the ideal conditions in which wines age the best.  That’s quite a bit!
  • Wine Opener: A step-by-step article on how to properly present and open a bottle of wine at the table.
  • In Decanters & Decanting, decanting procedures are discussed in detail along with how decanting varies for wines of various ages, how quickly to serve wines after decanting, etc.

The Wine Storage Education Center is designed to be a valuable resource to enhance your wine enjoyment.  Visit often to learn about the latest developments in wine technology, as well as wine basics!

Wine Rack Options for Small Spaces

June 22nd, 2011 No comments

Howard Miller Butler Console Portable Wine Station

While having your own wine cellar is ideal for storing and managing large wine collections, there may be times when it’s preferable to have select bottles close at hand.  Say, for instance, you use a lot of wine in the kitchen and want some of your wine stored in an easy-to-access location.  Or, perhaps you want to have some nice bottles on display for when guests arrive.  Perhaps you’d simply like a small selection of wine at your disposal when coming home from a long day at work.  For situations like these, perusing a vast wine cellar can often lead to indecision that can even delay the serving of a meal.  This is where smaller wine racks suitable for use in the kitchen, or in entertaining areas, come in handy.

Whenever you store wine, it is important that it be kept on its side; the cork, kept moist by contact with the wine, keeps the wine fresh.  Small, portable wine racks are designed to do just this, like their larger cellar cousins.  There’s no excuse for keeping a selection of wine by your coffee table, bottles standing upright!  Portable wine racks come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and styles.  Many popular racks, made from wood or metal, range from small, space-saving modern displays that can fit on kitchen counters or end tables, to racks suitable for use in between (or even inside) kitchen cupboards.  Most wooden racks can even be purchased or stained to match your cabinets, or a given room’s furniture, and many metal racks come in sleek black or chrome to match today’s modern kitchens.

If you’d a prefer a small-yet-ornate cabinet solution for your entertaining area, an elegant Howard Miller Console is worth consideration.  Many consoles double as tables/pouring stations, too, creating a defined “wine” space in any room.  The very portable, compact Howard Miller Butler, for example, has a top that is removable, doubling as a serving tray.  Up to thirteen wine bottles can be stored neatly inside, and the interior also has room for additional spirits, plus wine glass storage.  The unit is also on wheels, making relocation a snap!  If this is too fancy, perhaps a charming and affordable Rustic Pine scallop wine rack, a wine collector’s classic, will be more to your liking? This unfinished rack can be used as-is, providing a “rustic” look, or it can be stained to match your furnishings.  The rack is durable and holds 18 bottles very neatly.  If your “display” wine collection should grow, there’s even the ability to expand; these wine racks are designed to be stacked, so adding a second or third rack is simple.  Many people give these small racks as gifts (along with a few bottles of wine!)

For a taller racking option, the VintageView Freestanding Displays assemble in minutes and offer visibility and modern presentation.  Unlike other racks, your guests can easily see the labels on each bottle of wine, making this rack ideal for wine tasting parties (and for showing off your best vintages!)  Because it’s freestanding, it’s also a good rack to have in the kitchen to minimize unused space, like between your fridge and a countertop.  VintageView also manufactures wall mounted metal wine racks.  Made from cold rolled steel and available in black or nickel finishes, these racks hold between 9 and 18 bottles per section, depending on design.  Because they are mounted, affixing them to the sides of cupboards, walls, closet interiors, or near  entryways are all options.  These racks keep your bottles safely within reach, while being conversation pieces, too.

Don’t see what you’re looking for here? Browse our wine racks or call 1-800-876-8789 to speak to a knowledgeable wine storage expert who can help you make the right selection.

Vintage View 18 Bottle Wall Mount Wine Rack

Decant, and Taste the Difference!

June 20th, 2011 No comments

In a previous post, Dine With Open Wine, we discussed some of the benefits of decanting wine.  While it’s one thing to read about what decanting does to a wine, experiencing it is another matter.  And what better way to experience the dramatic impact decanting has than to conduct your own comparison of decanted and non-decanted wine at home, or with a group of adventurous guests?  You’ll obviously need a good bottle of wine–try this with one of your favorites to really appreciate the effect–and a decanter such as the Riedel Cabernet Wine Decanter or, if you really want to impress, the Riedel Ultra Magnum Decanter.  Next, make sure the glasses you’re using match the wine you’re serving.  (For instance, don’t use white wine glasses if you’re pouring Merlot, etc.)  Wondering about the variety of wine glasses available? Check out our article on types of wine glasses in the Education Center. Ready to shop? We have a full line of Riedel glassware.

After you have selected your wine, open it and fill a set of glasses with it directly from the bottle.  Next, gingerly pour the remaining wine into the decanter of your choice.  (N.B. Most decanted wines begin to open in minutes, so it’s best to serve them shortly after decanting.)  Have your guests smell and taste their wine which came directly from the bottle.  Now, pour the decanted wine into a second set of glasses, and let your guests compare the boutique, taste, and finished of the decanted wine with that which was not decanted.  It’s a guarantee you’ll see many wide, pleasantly-surprised eyes!   While decanting will not make a “bad” wine into an instant winner, it will certainly enhance the appeal of average wines, and substantially augment the pleasure of exceptional wines.  Still not convinced?  Try hosting a decanting party and taste for yourself!  The reward is worth it!  For more detailed information about decanting, or other wine-related topics visit our Wine Storage Education Center online.  Happy decanting!

Father’s Day Gift Ideas for Golfers & Wine Lovers (and what dad isn’t one of those?)

June 17th, 2011 No comments

Dads deserve appreciation all the time, but it’s especially important to make Father’s Day the one day that your dad will remember forever—or, at least, until next June. And today, you’re in luck: if your dad is into sports or wine, you can sit back and let Vintage Cellars take the work out of shopping for the perfect Father’s Day gift.

Sporty Dads

mulholland leather golf bag

If your Dad spends most of his weekends on the golf course, check out our line of Mulholland Leather Bags and Golf Equipment. Help Dad relax and have fun with the Endurance Sunday Bag, an all-leather bag designed for the practice range, short-yardage courses, and casual games of weekend golf with buddies and brothers. Or, if he wouldn’t part with his current bag, a Golf Ball and Tee Holder might be a good bet. This beautiful piece holds three balls and four tees, and the leather loop and buckle allow Dad to easily attach it to his favorite golf bag.

If your father isn’t into golf, the All Leather Shoe Bag or Endurance Shoe Bag can be used to carry shoes for all sports: cleats for football or baseball, running sneakers, bowling shoes, or even wrestling and volleyball shoes. And, of course, both bags work well for golf shoes, too.



Wine-Loving Dads

Rogar Opener

If your father isn’t the most athletic of men, Vintage Cellars has you covered. Help Dad create a relaxing environment with our Rogar Estate Wine Opener with Antique Bronze Finish, Hardwood Handle, & Table Stand. This magnificent showpiece adds style to any wine room, kitchen, living room, or den. If Dad liked to keep things simple, our Rogar Estate Pewter Wine Opener would make a perfect addition to his wine accessory drawer. For other ideas, our complete collection of Rogar Accessories is worth a look.
Riedel O glass
If fancy wine openers aren’t Dad’s thing, try our Riedel “O” stemless glassware. The Complete Stemless Wine Glass Collection is a set of 12, each specially designed to enhance the flavors of a separate wine varietal. If Dad doesn’t need a large set, you can get him the set of 2 “O” wine glasses that is suited for his favorite wine, such as these”O” Cabernet/Merlot Stemless Wine Glasses.

If your dad’s perfect Father’s Day gift isn’t featured here, you can always contact us with questions as you browse the rest of our online catalog.

Happy Father’s Day from Vintage Cellars!

Wine Review: “Ottone I” Piemont doc Barbera 2009

June 15th, 2011 No comments

Ottone I Bottle Image
I picked up a bottle of Cantine San Silvestro’s “Ottone I” Piemont doc Barbera 2009 the other night on a whim, not sure what to expect.  Consisting of 100% pure Barbera grapes from the Piedmont region of Northern Italy, this full red was simply bursting with big fruit flavors.  Ruby red in color with a soft-but-sound nose including black raspberry, raspberry, cherry, and hints of strawberry, my initial reaction was most positive.  With a rounded body, this delicious wine is filled with luscious cherry, berry, and even dark jam flavors.  The finish, though not too long, was crisp and pleasing.  This is a quality wine that pairs well with a variety of foods. While moderately tannic, the tannins are very well integrated and will complement saucy pasta dishes, beef, pork, and recipes that utilize robust cheeses.  For meals with these components, San Silvestro’s  “Ottone I” Piemont doc Barbera 2009 is a sure winner.  It can even be served slightly chilled with cold meat platters, and with salads rich with black olives.  Talk about versatility!  (If you choose to chill it, why not look into an affordable and stylish Wine Credenza for optimal temperature control?)  So go ahead!  Grab a few bottles, and enjoy the “Ottone I” Piemont doc Barbera 2009 wine now, or through 2012.  I know I will.

Virtual Wine Communities

June 13th, 2011 No comments

There really is no substitute to being a part of a friendly group of wine tasters!  Not only do you come to know one another’s preferences, you are also exposed to numerous wines you might not try if left to your own devices.  In addition to broadening your horizons, your close group of enthusiastic wine peers can make recommendations based on what they’ve come to learn about your palate, and you can do the same for them.  What is more, and self-evident, “live” group wine tasting involves real-time contact with actual wine!  Unlike one-sided online reviews, real-time conversation is dynamic with the emphasis being on the wines at hand.

Sometimes, however, finding a wine group to join can be difficult.  Other times travel may prevent you from meeting as regularly with such a group as you’d like.  This is where a “virtual” wine group enters!  In addition to your “real life” club, internet wine communities offer valuable tips, advice, and recommendations often suited to your preferences.  It’s even possible, with various apps and sites, to virtually befriend or “follow” knowledgeable online personalities with similar tastes.  With literally hundreds of online wine communities at your fingertips, choosing which ones to join can be a daunting task.

While you can choose a group or site for its ordered content, it is also fun to visit a very informal, unstructured online group like the “Facebook Wine Club” for its random presentation of reviews, opinions, and info.  Free to Facebook users, this group boasts to “appeal to all wine drinkers, from the seasoned pro to those who just wanna know more!! You can choose to read, discuss, add and request information on wine. Let’s discover wine together…”  Featuring a random mix of wine reviews, app recommendations, info about wineries and tours, plus the “quintessential”, incidental Facebook pics and spam wall posts Facebook users have come to expect, this fun page provides good fodder for casual browsing.  Similar to a “real” wine group event, you never quite know what you’re going to find!
A more ordered, less unruly community can be found at  Here, membership is also free.  You can create your own wine log, befriend members with similar tastes (without sharing your entire life story, unlike “friending” on Facebook), get custom wine recommendations, and view a host of wine blogs.  There’s also a handy search feature, similar to those found on other quality wine community sites.

For a well-versed community with expertise on both wine and food pairing, check out a new site by certified sommelier Natalie MacLean.  (Does that name ring a bell?  We found and reviewed her handy wine app, Nat Decants, back in May.)  Not only is this app still free, but so is a large portion of Natalie’s new site.  Subscribers receive a regular newsletter packed with wine articles and tips, plus you can create your own profile page.  Doing this lets you instantly access online community reviews (many of which are from educated wine enthusiasts), create a wine wish list, catalog your wine cellar, review wines and share them with the community, as well as devise shopping lists.  Similar to, showcases “featured bloggers” and contributors.  With emphasis on food as well as wine, this community is a welcomed “holistic” resource for chefs and hosts. There is also a search feature on the site.
While hundreds of online wine communities abound, give these three different sites a glace over for starters to help you discover what it is you most want to find in a virtual wine community: surprise, order, convenience, conversation, food pairings, tips, etc…  With that knowledge, we wish you the best of luck finding a virtual community that’s a good fit and complement to your “live” club!  Cheers!

Riesling: The Chameleon Grape

June 10th, 2011 No comments

Rieslings are fantastic wines that wear many hats.  Often referred to as being a “chameleon grape”, Riesling grapes really do play many roles.  In fact, the wines they produce range from those that are completely dry to wines that are insatiably sweet!  While “Zinfandel” makes us think of California, “Riesling” instantly brings Germany to mind, though good Rieslings can be found elsewhere, too.  Dry Rieslings, Rieslings packed with fresh citrus and peach flavors, Rieslings containing honey scents and fruity notes, and spectacular dessert Rieslings utilizing the same grapes are waiting for you at your local wine store!

Riedel Riesling wine glass

To further demonstrate the delightful versatility of this grape, we compare two different Rieslings: the C.H. Berres Urziger Wurzgarten Riesling Spatlese 1997 (produced in Germany), and the Montinore Estate Almost Dry Riesling 2009 (produced in America).  Using Riedel Sommeliers Riesling Grand Cru Wine Glasses for optimal visual comparison, we find the appearance of both wines strikingly similar.  Each has a crystal-clear, pale-to-golden yellow color, bordering on cream.  This, however, is where the similarities end.  Though the nose of each wine can be described as clean, fine, and sufficient, the Riesling Spatlese contains notes of violet, iris, honeysuckle, and a touch of berry, while the Almost Dry Riesling possesses a rich citrus fragrance of oranges and lemons, and also sports a soft peach aroma.  While both wines are smooth and delicious to taste, the Riesling Spatlese is much more round; the Almost Dry Reisling is light-bodied and lean.  The Riesling Spatlese is also quite sweet, while the Almost Dry Riesling (true to its name) is nearly void of any sugary taste.  Although both wines are harmonious, elegant Rieslings, the Riesling Spatlese can be described as being more “velvety” when compared to the “sincere” nature of the Almost Dry Riesling.  Though these two wines are delightfully similar in appearance, their distinct personalities are made apparent by comparison.

As in our previous Red and White Zinfandel blog post, it’s quite amazing how the same grape can yield two very good-but-different wines!  But, no matter how sweet or dry, Rieslings are a perfect wine to enjoy on a hot, summer day! Why not conduct your own Riesling comparison this season?

 C.H. Berres Urziger Wurzgarten Riesling Spatlese 1997Montinore Estate Almost Dry Riesling 2009

Look at Those (Wine) Legs!

June 8th, 2011 No comments

wine glass

With appropriately-matched, quality wine glasses like Riedel Sommelier Wine Glasses or Riedel Vinum Extreme Wine Glasses, it is not only easier to notice the characteristic fragrances and tastes of your selected wine, it is also easier to see the beauty of your delicate beverage.  With a clear wine glass, the clarity, color and depth of your wine are highlighted like never before, allowing you to more accurately judge your wine’s age, the types of grapes used in its making, and even the climate of the vintage.  You can even learn about your wine when swirling to open it.  When swirling, your wine will create “legs” (or, in the more poetic French, “tears”).  These are the small droplets that form in the ring above the surface of your wine while you swirl it.  It was once believed that the more legs a wine had, the better its quality.  However, this is untrue, as various atmospheric conditions (and physics!) have expunged this myth.   What is true is that the speed of falling legs can tell you about the wine’s sugar concentration and richness.  Generally, slower falling wine legs denote richer wines high in sugar content as opposed to thinner wines with less sugar.  Try examining the tears of both a sweet and a dry Riesling with Riedel Sommeliers Riesling Grand Cru Wine Glasses.  You’ll be in for an educational treat!  While aroma and taste play such an important part in wine appreciation, paying attention to appearance, too, greatly enhances the tasting experience.  In fact, visual cues can even suggest additional possibilities to your palate you may have initially filtered out!

Riedel Sommelier glasses

Wine Review: Le Grand Pinot Noir 2009

June 6th, 2011 No comments

This rich, dark red hails from the Limoux region of Southern France.  With sufficient aroma, the Le Grand Pinot Noir 2009’s nose consists of delightful red berries, cherries, raspberries, currants, and a note of fig.  The wine is rounded, and delights the taste buds with exploding flavors of red berries, cherries, and currants.  Its semi-spicy kick is nicely countered by its smooth, balanced, satisfying finish rich with tannins.  Though not an extremely complex wine, the Le Grand Pinot Noir 2009 is quite good considering its average low price of $8.99 a bottle.  In fact, I find the wine to be better than some higher-priced red Burgundies.  Pairing well with salads, various cheese platters, game birds, and fish dishes including salmon and tuna, this is a good wine to enjoy with light, summertime fare, as well as with hearty pork!  Although Le Grand Pinot Noir’s logo may contain a black sheep, this wine is certainly an inexpensive winner in my book!

Because this is a such an inexpensive, versatile wine, this would be an excellent choice to purchase by the case when throwing a party. To really impress your guests, store and serve from an elegant wine credenza, a combination wine storage cabinet and serving table!

Le Grand Pinot Noir 2009