Archive for November, 2014

The Reason for Rose

November 12th, 2014 No comments

The first question one might ask is, “Why does anybody need a reason for wine?” Wine, whatever variety you prefer, is a reason unto itself. Having said this, there are those who might feel some wines need justification, namely roseʹ. This wasn’t always the case, and it’s certainly not the case in southern France, now or at any time. Roseʹ became the pink stepchild of the wine world in the 1970s, when white Zinfandel came on to the scene. Zinfandel, a too-sweet white wine, did its best to replace roseʹ as the summertime drink of choice.

The Reason for Rose’Just what is a Roseʹ Wine?

Contrary to popular belief, roseʹ is not a mixture of red and white wines; it is its own genre. Roseʹ is made from many of the same grapes used to produce red and white wines, but the processing is different. The juice of all grapes is clear, or ‘white’; the skins of the grape contain the color. Red wines are produced by leaving the juice in contact with the skins for long periods of time; whites are produced by removing the skins from the juice immediately, and rosesʹ are produced by leaving the juice in contact with the skins for short periods; the longer the contact, the darker the roseʹ. Rosesʹ range in color from pale pink up to copper, but never as dark as a red. Rosesʹ can be dry, and those coming from Europe usually are, but they can also be semi-sweet; rosesʹ produced outside of Europe may fall into this category.

Why Would You Want a Roseʹ?

Roseʹ is usually touted as a summer drink; its lighter flavor pairs well with heat and summertime foods, which are not as heavy as meals in the dead of winter. Roseʹ is equally at home at your backyard barbecue or the elegant summer dinner party you throw for the boss. However, this is not to say you pack your roseʹ away with the flip-flops and bathing suits; there are fall, winter and spring meals where roseʹ fits right in. Most meals in the colder seasons call for the force of a prime red wine, or a white, if the entree is not a red meat, but you can serve a lighter fare where a wine that complements, rather than overwhelms, is preferred.

Age Matters

Unlike red wines and women, roseʹ doesn’t age well. A roseʹ three years old is most likely past its prime, so don’t look at it as an investment wine, or one you can enjoy drinking down the road. It’s actually difficult to find rosesʹ over three, for this very reason: fresh roseʹ is the best one to drink. A too-old roseʹ loses the acidity and freshness of its flavors and becomes bland.

Price Matters, Too

Perhaps because of its undeserved reputation, or the inveterate snobbishness in the wine community, roseʹ is a good buy. You can find rosesʹ from southern France for $16 to $25 a bottle, and that’s a darn good price for an import. You can find quality rosesʹ for $15 a bottle or less on the domestic market, and for a neophyte wine drinker, it’s a good way to get started without breaking the budget.
Are there lousy rosesʹ out there? Of course. Are there lousy reds and whites? You betcha. The genre of the wine is not a guaranty of good or great quality, nor is it a guaranty of bad quality either. Ask for help when you visit a wine shop; they’re usually quite happy to assist you any way they can, and asking for a good roseʹ for around $15.00 won’t get you thrown out of the shop. It will, however, get you a good wine.

How to Decide on Wine Storage

November 7th, 2014 No comments

If you’re like most Americans, you don’t know squat about wine. You know you like it, but you tend to just buy it when you’re ready to drink it. Storing wine, whether for the short or long term, never enters your thought processes. You may, however, find yourself getting more interested in keeping wine on hand. It beats running out to the package store or the grocery every time the urge for a glass hits you. You may also be thinking about wine as an investment strategy, and this means holding wine in storage, sometimes for years.


Wine StorageHow Should You Store Wine?

Unless you’re fortunate enough to own a house built in the 1800s or early 1900s, with its attendant basement or wine cellar already there, you’re going to have to build your own storage environment to house your wine collection. Where did our ancestors store wine? In deep, dark caves or in deep, dark wine cellars. There are good reasons for this: wine hates light, heat, and motion. While storing wine on top of your refrigerator is convenient, it’s the absolute worst thing you can do to a poor, innocent bottle of wine. The mantra for wine storage is cool, dark, still, and sideways. The reasoning behind this is as follows:


Wine hates heat; anything above 70° Fahrenheit wreaks havoc on the wine. 55° Fahrenheit is the ideal temperature, but don’t freak out if it varies a degree or two either way. Humidity is also important; the proper humidity keeps the cork from drying out and letting oxygen seep into the bottle. Oxygen will oxidize a wine, the same way it will a peeled apple. A brown apple is unattractive, but edible; an oxidized wine is not drinkable. It won’t hurt you, unless it’s truly spoiled, but it won’t taste good at all.


Wine hates sunlight like a vampire, and pretty much for the same reason: light, particularly UV light, prematurely ages wine. Whites are more susceptible than reds, but reds fall victim to UV light as well. Ever wonder why wine is sold in colored bottles? The colored glass acts like sunglasses, and filters the UV light out.


Why would wine care if you shook the bottle? Two reasons: too much shaking can prematurely age it, and not in a good way, and if the wine is a red, sediment gets disturbed from the bottom and distributed around the bottle. The result is a glass of grit instead of a glass of wine. So don’t store your wine where vibrations, good or bad, abound.


There are two good reasons for storing wine on its side: first, storing the bottle this way keeps the cork in contact with the wine and this keeps the cork from drying out and shrinking. A dry cork allows oxygen in, and this is not a good thing. Second, storing wine horizontally saves space, letting you keep more bottles in a smaller space.

Given that most of us don’t have a wine cellar already built into our house, where should you store your wine? If you have a basement, and dampness is not an issue, putting wine racks in a cool, dark corner fits the bill nicely. If a basement is not an option, use a cool, dark closet. If the closet is too hot, you can get a cooling unit designed for wine to cool things off.

What Kind of Storage Do You Need?

The type of storage you need is determined by how much wine you’re storing, and for how long you’re planning on holding it. If you’re only planning on keeping it for a few months, a wine cooler or a wine rack in your basement is fine. If you’re planning on keeping it for years, you’ve moved into the professional storage arena, and you need to do some research. You will need the conditions described above, and they will need to be consistent over the long haul. You will need undisturbed space for storage racks, proper lighting, and climate control.  We at Vintage Cellars are wine cellar specialists, and will be happy to walk you through step-by-step, how to build a wine cellar and choose a proper cooling unit.  We build wine cellars from start to finish, from functional to elaborate, so let us know what your needs are and we’ll be happy to assist you!  Also note that if you’re looking for one, one of the best cooling units on the market today is the Wine Guardian.

Buying Wine for Investment

November 2nd, 2014 No comments

Wine InvestmentWhen you think of investing, wine is not the first thought that comes to mind. Most of us think of investments as stocks and bonds and not much else. There are alternative investments to the ones we typically put our money in; these are precious metals (gold, silver, copper), fine art (paintings, sculptures), and rare coins. Wine falls into the alternate investment category, and if you do it right and don’t need an immediate return on your money, can be a good way to hedge your bets in uncertain economic times, such as the ones we’re having today.

How Do You Invest in Wine?

There are two ways to invest in wine: purchase and resell the wine yourself, or participate in a wine investment fund. The fund pools the money from its members and handles the purchase, storage, and resale of the wine for the investors. The investors receive returns based on the amount of money they invest in the fund.

If you have the time, money, and storage space, being your own investor is not a bad idea; you choose the wines you want to invest in, and you decide when to sell. You will be the sole recipient of the return. You will also be the sole bearer of the costs – insurance and storage – while you hold the wine, waiting for it to mature and the price to rise. If you can afford it, and you’re a budding oenophile, it may be a really good way to invest your time and money.

If you have limited funds, but like the idea of investing in wine, participating in a wine investment fund is the way to go. Someone else makes the decisions and handles the issues, and you take the returns. As long as you do your due diligence and choose a sound fund, this is the way for you to invest in the wine market.

What are Investment Grade Wines?

There are most likely tens of thousands of vintners producing wine globally today. Only 250 of these vintners produce investment grade wine, and ninety percent of the investment grade premium wines come from the Bordeaux region of France. More vintners are making it into the investment grade globally these days, but the numbers still work out with France holding ninety percent of the premium wines, and the other ten percent is vintage port. While wine has been around for centuries, the buying and selling of wine as an investment really came into being in the 1970s. It is still difficult to be a personal wine investor in the United States today, as most states have strict regulations on the buying and selling of wine, but there are ways to legally sell wine in a private sale, even in those states with the strictest laws. This is one area where a wine investment fund shines over being your own wine investor: the fund knows how to make sales legally.

Is wine a good investment? Over the long haul, the numbers bear it out as a good way to invest money in an alternative way. Even if the bottom fell out of the market, if you were your own investor you could at least drink the wine; if the bottom falls out of Wall Street, all you have left are bad memories.