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Archive for November, 2011

Music and Wine, by Dave Matthews

November 29th, 2011 No comments
Dreaming Tree Wine Bottles

Dreaming Tree: a collaboration between Dave Matthews and Steve Reeder

Dreaming Tree…  That’s a song title, right?  Actually, it’s the product of Dave Matthews’ musical mind, along with winemaker Steve Reeder’s wine talents.  When Matthews was performing at Robert Mondavi Winery, Steve Reeder was there and conversing with representatives from Constellation wine brand.  Ideas centering around the perfect union of wine, food, and music were flowing, and someone asked Reeder’s opinion about working with Dave Matthews to create wine.  After a little research, Reeder called Matthews “a true artist,” in the sense of the multi-talented artists of the Renaissance, adding that Matthews also has a small Virginia winery, as well as a farm.  In short, Reeder was delighted to initiate a collaboration.  Reeder sent Matthews some Simi wines to sip, and Matthews reported back what he liked, and why he liked it.  After some trial blends, the duo of “Dreaming Tree” has produced three new wines.  These include a Chardonnay, a Cabernet Sauvignon, and a red blend.  Sold at around $15 a bottle, the wines are “Wine Institute certified sustainable” meaning that their bottles are lightweight and eco-friendly.  Reeder commented that Dave is concerned about being socially responsible, and that this type of packaging is the “right” thing to do “for the right reasons.”  Reeder also commented that just as Dave Matthews loves music, so does he love wine!

Wine Bottle History

November 24th, 2011 No comments

When we talk about aging wine, rarely do we realize just how recent a phenomenon wine aging actually is.  As mentioned in a previous post (Fun Wine Trivia), wine was not originally stored in bottles.  And when wine was not transported in animal wineskins, it was stored in large clay containers and secured with sealants called terracotta amphorae.

ancient clay jugs

Ancient Clay Jugs (Photo by Thomas Reichart)

While these 7000+ year-old clay jugs were kept in cool places, evidence suggests the wine inside was not aged nearly as long as most bottled wine is today.  In fact, when wine was later stored in wooden barrels for the first time, it was “aged” for a possibly shorter period of time.  Depending on the barrel’s construction, sometimes a wine’s barrel life was just long enough to transport it to its final trade destination before spoiling.  It was only when glass blowing technology was re-perfected (c.a. the 18th century) that glass bottles with smaller bottlenecks allowed for airtight wine storage.  This is when it finally became possible to age wine in the tradition we follow, today. Interestingly, while the English were the first to seal wine bottles with cork, wine bottles were not the first bottles to be corked.  Medicines, beer, and bottled beauty products benefited from corks long before wine!  Since aging wine is a recent development (relatively speaking), it’s amazing that the art of wine aging has been perfected to such a fine degree so rapidly.

Climadiff Diva 265 Bottle Multi-Temperature Wine Cabinet

Climadiff Diva 265 Bottle Multi-Temperature Wine Cabinet

We now know so much about optimal temperature control, humidity levels, and harmful UV rays, that custom wine cellars can be designed to optimally age any collection of wine.  And many wine storage units, like the Climadiff Diva 265 Bottle Multi-Temperature wine cabinet, even have UV-resistant doors.  Perhaps the most exciting thing about aging wine is that, just when we think we know all there is to know about it, some new discovery or innovation makes us think again: a new way to preserve wine, a new way to seal bottles, or new scientific information that allows for even greater precision when aging wine for optimal taste.  For more fascinating information about the history of wine aging, check out Vintage Cellars’ The Science of Wine Aging.  Enjoy!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! If you’re busy cooking today, check out our post from earlier this week on red & white wine sauces to go with your turkey and choosing wine for your Thanksgiving meal, or run through the wine & turkey or holiday tags for even more ideas!

Red and White Wine Turkey Sauce

November 22nd, 2011 No comments

He prefers red wine, she prefers white, and their daughter likes some of both.  Now, they are coming over for Thanksgiving dinner.  You wanted to make a delicious wine sauce to accompany your turkey, but now you just don’t know which to make: red or white?  Never fear!  With this easy recipe, red lovers, white lovers, and those who enjoy both will all be delighted.

First of all, you’re going to make two different sauces–one with white wine, one with red.  These sauces can be served separately, or combined to form an intriguing red-white sauce!  (Excited yet?)

A Roast Thanksgiving Turkey

A Thanksgiving Turkey (photo by Gregory Kohs)

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1/2 cup red wine (on the drier side)
  • 1/2 cup white wine (dry or sweet)
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube
  • 4 ounces chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon chopped chives
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/8 cup unsalted butter

Put the red wine, butter, and chicken stock in a pan and simmer on low for 12-14 minutes.  Now, into another pan, put the white wine and chicken bouillon cube.  Heat over low for 6-7 minutes, then stir the heavy cream and chives into your white sauce.  Continue to heat 2-3 more minutes, stirring occasionally.  Voilà!  Once your turkey is ready, ask each guest’s preference before pouring the red or white sauce over it while serving.  And for guests looking for a real treat, pour both sauces over the bird.  Enjoy!

Time for Thanksgiving Wines

November 17th, 2011 No comments
A Wild Turkey

“Wild Turkey” photographed by MONGO

If you’re planning to host a fancy Thanksgiving, why not pull all the stops?  Instead of serving one wine with the meal, liven things up by serving several in graded succession.  For example, start with an apéritif either on its own, or with some light appetizers.  Muscat is an excellent choice, and helps prepare the palate for courses yet to come.  If your main course consists of turkey, consider serving a light white to accompany the subtle flavors of this bird.  Dry whites are especially nice, but for guests with sweeter tastes consider pairing the bird with a sweet Riesling.  To keep family and friends happy, offer them these wine options, or (better yet) let them sample each.  As a third choice, a nice bottle of Pinot Noir will always be a winner.  For dessert, pair your pie with a tasty glass of port.  For pies on the more tart side, consider a tawny port.  For sweeter pies, ruby port is a nice match.  This Thanksgiving, serving a variety of wines throughout your meal will help to make your Thanksgiving feast a classy wine adventure to remember!  In fact, this holiday may even be the perfect occasion to use your new Riedel Riesling Grand Cru wine glasses, or to pass around a set of lovely Vintage Port glasses… Just food for thought!  Happy Thanksgiving!

Vintage Cellars Sponsors San Diego BBB Mixer

November 15th, 2011 No comments

Founded in 1921, the San Diego Better Business Bureau (BBB) has been at the forefront of advancing marketplace trust.  By providing carefully-researched information to the public, the BBB helps consumers make informed purchase decisions, and informs them of businesses they can trust.  Searching for businesses that meet the high demands of BBB accreditation is easy, and you can browse through over 125,000 local businesses, charities, and organizations online.  Recently, the San Diego BBB hosted a November mixer which Vintage Cellars was proud to sponsor (Vintage Cellars has been a BBB accredited business since 2007).  Held at Dave & Buster’s, the event featured some of the finest area businesses.  Vintage Cellars was well represented, and below is a photo of our table at the event.  You can tell we were all having a great time!

Vintage Cellars at the San Diego BBB Mixer

Vintage Cellars' table at the San Diego BBB Mixer in November, 2011. From Left: Chris, Jake, and founder Gene Walder.

French & American Oaks for Aging Wine

November 10th, 2011 No comments

Aging wine in oak barrels is expensive.  A single, 55-gallon barrel can easily cost more than $1,600.  Barrels made from oak found in the forests of Allier, Nevers, Limousin, and central France are worth even more.  What makes these barrels so costly?  Are wineries paying for the quality of wood, craftsmanship, or both?  The answer is: both; wineries pay for exquisite craftsmanship plus the flavor-enriching properties of good wood.  Because every forest (Allier, Nevers, Limousin, etc.) produces wood of unique, variable density, oaks from a given forest impart a wine’s flavor and aroma with that forest’s distinct nuances.

Oak leaves and acorns

Over 600 Species of Oak Trees Exist (image from Wikipedia)

Because French oaks tend to have a tighter grain and a less watertight nature, coopers split the wood along the grain.  American oak is often serrated, allowing more of the tree to be used (thus, it’s better for eco-conscious folks).  American oak also provides quick oxidation–relatively speaking–which allows wines to soften faster.  It produces wines rich with tannins and textures that are sometimes considered to be a bit too “raw.”  French oak, on the other hand, produces wines containing more refined tannins, and with slightly sweeter fruit-like flavors.  Sometimes, however, wines from French oak can be a little too subtle.  Scents of peach and rose are often present in wine because of French oak, while stronger fragrances like vanilla are more common in wines from American oak because the wood contains up to four times the number of lactones.

What is very exciting is the growing trend of blending wines aged in both American and French oak.  Is there really such a noticeable difference from blending the two oaks?  Actually, there is, and wine produced from this dual incubation is curiously impressive because of what each oak offers.  The aging and combining of wine from both barrels is an attempt to literally capture the “best of both worlds.”  Has it been successful? According to numerous tasters, it certainly has!  If you’re curious, the next time you’re out and about, keep an eye open for wine aged in both French and American oaks.  Have a sip, and see if you can taste the unique result!  Cheers!

Fun Wine Trivia

November 8th, 2011 No comments
  • Did you know that California is the 4th largest producer of wine in the world?  The three top manufacturers are France, Italy, and Spain.
  • When aged, red wines often fade, eventually turning a rusty, brick red color.  White wines, however, become more golden with age before darkening to brownish yellow.

    Hammurabi's Code: a Tablet

    The Prologue of the Code of Hammurabi. The Code outlines punishment for fraudulent wine sellers.

  • When a wine is paired with food, the food and wine have what is called “synergy.”  This is an additional flavor that the food or wine, if consumed alone, does not have.
  • Approximately 55% of wine consumed in restaurants is red wine.
  • European wines are given names based on their geographical locations, while non-European wines are named after grape varieties.
  • One of the oldest known literary works, the Epic of Gilgamesh, features wine prominently; the goddess, Siduri, is symbolic of fertility, as well as fermentation (wine).
  • Women are often better wine tasters than men; their sense of smell is often keener.
  • 1,000 lbs. of grapes will make about 60 cases of wine, or 720 bottles.  A single bottle of wine contains close to 3 pounds of grapes!
  • Hippocrates, the “father” of medicine, used wine in almost all of his remedies.  He used it to alleviate fevers, prescribed it as a diuretic, and utilized it for its antiseptic properties.
  • Hammurabi’s Code (1,800 B.C.) features a law to punish fraudulent wine merchants: drowning in a river!
  • When wineskins were used to hold wine in ancient times, the skins were cleaned, tanned, and turned so that the hairy side was on the inside, making contact with the wine.
  • Today, wine grapes take up the most acres of all fruit crops planted in the world.
  • The Vikings called America “Vinland” after finding numerous massive, native grape vines growing there around A.D. 1,000.
  • A typical glass of dry red or white wine contains 110 calories.  Sweeter wines have more.

For additional wine trivia and insights, check out the Vintage Cellars Wine Storage Education Center.  Cheers!

Creative Wine Racking 101

November 1st, 2011 No comments
Designer Series 6 Column Half Height Rack

Designer Series 6 Column Half Height Rack

If you and your significant other have talked about creating your own wine cellar, why wait?  Though Vintage Cellars’ wine racks are designed by experts, they can be assembled by novices in little time.  This means, with any of the Vintage Cellars wine racking kits, you’re destined for success!  Racks are designed to last a lifetime, and you can select just the right colors to match your decor. Don’t be afraid to get creative! Why, there’s no reason why you couldn’t create a wine labyrinth if you so chose!

Designer Series Double Waterfall Wine Rack

Designer Series Double Waterfall Wine Rack

Wine areas need not be stagnant spaces, either; you can mix and match styles of design to give a single room different atmospheres in different sections.  For instance, a formal wall containing Winemaker 2 Column Open Diamond Cubes can be contrasted by an opposing lighter, playful wall featuring black metal lattice wine racks.  An elegant diamond bin wine rack below a classic archway can be countered by a section of modern wine racking units, like the VintageView 3′ wine racks, and so on.  You can even use different designs to house different wines: dark, rustic ones for reds, and lighter ones for whites!  With so many types of wine racks to choose from, you’re limited only by your imagination.

If the above projects seem too ambitious, here’s an easy-yet-creative idea that is sure to attract attention: spell out a marriage proposal, or make an announcement with wine bottles.  If the bottles are racked, you can easily spell words and messages by placing red wines, strategically, amidst a “neutral” backdrop of whites.  You can even create simple images, similar to popular ASCII art we sometimes see on our friends’ Facebook posts.  Because this takes a little time and planning, your message will be all the more memorable (However, if your partner is one of the many wine lovers who organizes their collection obsessively, think twice before moving their collection around. And keep in mind that unnecessary movement isn’t a great thing for stored bottles–this plan might be best executed with some of the less-collectible bottles in the cellar!).

Have fun getting those creative juices flowing!