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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:

Cool

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.

Dark

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.

Still

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.

Sideways

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.

Best Wines for Fall Gifts

October 28th, 2014 No comments

September is almost over, and fall has arrived. The leaves are turning, the days are getting shorter, and the temperatures are beginning to cool down. Soon, the holidays will be here; have you thought about what gifts you’ll be giving this season? It’s always a problem, albeit a fun one, to choose gifts for friends and family they’ll appreciate and enjoy. Then there are those gifts for people you don’t know all that well, but feel obligated to give a gift – your husband’s boss, a healthcare professional or caregiver, or a teacher. Have you considered giving these folks a bottle of wine?

Best WineA Little Wine History

Wine is a venerable beverage. One of the earliest known traces of wine was found in modern-day Georgia (the country, not the state) around 6000 BC. This is two thousand years before the wheel was invented in Mesopotamia, and five thousand years before the Trojan War. The earliest wines were made from wild grapes and berries; grapes weren’t domesticated until the time of the first dynasty in Egypt – around 3200 BC. Wine has been prized for pretty much its entire history; in ancient Persia, wine was considered a divine gift. Wine grew up with the world; by the Middle Ages, wine was served at every meal, both red and white. Granted, it was watered down a good bit – after all, one couldn’t spend every day drunk as a skunk. It was also not aged during this period, as consumption threatened to outstrip production. Aging of wine began at a later period. Wine’s history continues to the present day, where it is a global industry now, not just a French one. The major wines of the world still originate mostly in France, but wines from the New World are gaining in acceptance.

Giving Wine as a Gift

Before giving wine as a gift, you need to know if the recipient likes the idea. Giving a bottle of Dom Perignon to a teetotaler is not the best idea in the world. Gourmet cheese or chocolates would be better suggestions in this case. If your intended recipient does drink wine, knowing their level of expertise in the subject is useful; if you give a gift of rare vintage to a newbie, it’s not going to be appreciated as much as it would be to a genuine oenophile. Conversely, giving the oenophile a bottle picked up at the grocery store will fly like the proverbial lead balloon. So, first know if the intended recipient drinks wine, and then learning about their level of expertise is a good start. Finding a good wine shop with an expert sommelier on staff will help prevent gaffes.

Know Your Price Range

Before choosing a bottle as a gift, you need to know how much you can afford to spend. A gift for a true oenophile can cost a bundle, so let the person helping you choose at the wine shop know your range before he starts making suggestions. A hostess gift can be purchased at the grocery store – some stores have really good wine sections – or at a package store. A gift for ̀someone you want to impress, you should look at a store dedicated to wine.

What Type of Wine to Choose

The genre of wine you select depends on the recipient, you, the time of year, do you intend for them to use it immediately, or did you buy it for their cellar. Reds are investment wines; they get better with age, and better translate to more valuable. Reds can be bought for the recipient’s cellar, if they have one; any good Bordeaux works here. Whites are also good for long-term storage; be sure to know if your recipient likes whites, and if they store them. Roses are not intended for aging; your recipient may like one anyway, but if you’re looking for a cellar item, skip these wines. Where your recipient lives is also a factor; in some large wine producing countries, such as Argentina, wine is considered too common for a gift. However, other wine-producing countries, such as South Africa and Portugal, consider their wines as superior, and would not appreciate a gift of French wine, for example.
Wine is always a good gift idea, but you need to know a few things about your intended recipient before purchase. Wrap it in pretty paper, or put it in a gift basket with other wine-associated items, such as cheese, crackers, and chocolate. You can find a wine to suit both your pocketbook and your intended recipient, and this, as Martha would say, is a good thing.

Discover the Dry Rose Wines of Provence this Summer

May 23rd, 2014 No comments

Discover the Dry Rose Wines of Provence this Summer

The dry, floral, refreshing roses that hail from Provence have about as much in common with those California wines as a Cabernet has with a glass of icewine.

About the roses of Provence

The Romans brought wine-making to Provence before the birth of Christ, and the region has been carrying on this tradition for more than 2,500 years. Today, Provence crafts more than 1,000 different wines, with rose wines accounting for more than half of the region’s production. In fact, Provence is the world’s leading producer of dry, rose wines.

Leading government-controlled wine place names (AOC) in Provence include Cotes de Provences, Coteauxd’Aix-en-Provence and Bandol. Traditionally, rose wines from these regions have been made by blending Grenache, Mourvedre, Cinsault and Carignan grapes, although more modern winemakers have begun to use Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah grapes in the mix. Roses from Provence are virtually made from blending the juice of several grapes and are easily recognized by their bowling pin-shaped bottles.

Unlike rose wines from other parts of the world, Provencal roses are very dry, with slight hints of strawberries, red currants, lavender and thyme. Provencal roses may be vintage or non-vintage wines.

Pairing Provence roses with food

Rose wines from Provence are a perfect accompaniment to many summer favorites. These wines go well with shrimp and other seafood, cold pasta salads, and garlic-based dishes, such as the “aioli” that’s a hallmark of Provencal cuisine. The acidity in Provencal roses also make such wines a good choice for drinking with notoriously difficult to pair ethnic foods, such as Thai, Indian, Lebanese and Chinese.

When you go to the wine store

Many roses of Provence are exported to North America, most commonly the wines from the Bandol region. Depending on the tax situation in your state, expect to pay between $15 and $25 for a bottle of good Provencal rose. Look for the following highly-rated labels:

  •  Miraval Rose — Rated a 91/100 by “Decanter” magazine, Miraval rose is produced by Provence’s Miraval Winery, a joint venture between the French Perrin wine family and Hollywood A-listers including Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.
  • Chateau d’Esclans Rose Whispering Angel — This Cotes de Provence rose earned a 90/100 rating from “Wine Spectator” magazine.

For more information on the wines of Provence, visit vins de provence.com, the official website (in English) of the the Provencal wine producing regions.

Decorate Your Wine Bottle

February 14th, 2012 No comments
A fiasco similar to those traditionally used for Chianti

Photo by Giulio Nepi (from Wikipedia)

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!

Giving your Sweetie Pie a bottle of wine on Valentine’s Day?  In addition to presenting it with a fancy bow or ribbon attached, there are lots of fun, inexpensive decorations the two of you can make from it the same evening (once you both finish it!)  A bottle works great as a vase, so if you have a few pretty flowers, now you know where to put them.  You don’t need many, and just a couple can look quite lovely.  If you have several empty bottles waiting to be tossed, consider lining them up on the mantle with a rose or two in each for a Valentine’s surprise.  For a fun, romantic Italian atmosphere at home, place a lit candle in an empty bottle of Chianti while you dine.  Consider printing out a love poem and gluing it tastefully over the bottle, too!

  • You can paint and decorate your wine bottles, and even frost them with glitter spray to create delicate centerpieces.
  • Fill some empty bottles with water and place them around a short candle so the soft light twinkles through.  If your bottles are clear, add some food coloring to the water!  Have fun!
  • Consider filling empty bottles with bath salts, then wrapping them up as gifts, or even filling an empty bottle with liquid soap to make your tub area look a bit more elegant.  (Be sure to substitute a soap hand pump for the cork, for convenience!)

With a little creative thought, there’s quite a bit you can do inexpensively with an empty bottle.  Why not make a fun, intimate craft project out of your bottle together this Valentine’s Day?

 

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!

Great Glassware from Riedel

January 20th, 2011 1 comment

Riedel wine glasses are some of the most popular gifts for wine lovers out there.  And for good reason: Riedel glasses are among the best out there.  They’re handmade and perfectly crafted to get the most taste out of your favorite wines.  They’re also beautiful.

But Riedel doesn’t only make glasses.  They also make gorgeous decanters.  Decanting wine is an oft-ignored but very valuable technique.  It can really help you get the most out of that special bottle you’ve been aging, and it makes for a gorgeous presentation at your next dinner party (or the next time you’re relaxing on the couch at home).  Here are some of our favorite decanters from Riedel.
decanter

The Riedel Cabernet decanter is a classic, elegant shape.  It would look gorgeous on your bar or dining room table.  And of course, it will help you bring out the most in your wines.

tyrol

The Riedel Tyrol decanter is just as elegant, but it takes an unusual, eye-catching shape.  When not in use, it rests gracefully on its side to aerate the wine.

martini pitcher

Ok, ok, this isn’t a decanter.  It’s a martini pitcher!  A martini pitcher is a must-have for parties, and this one, with its classic-yet-edgy shape, will never go out of style.

Categories: Wine Gifts Tags: ,

Wine Baskets Make Great Wine Gifts

December 15th, 2010 2 comments

Wine baskets are wonderful gifts that everyone loves.  As a result, they can cost hundreds of dollars at fancy food stores.  But why spend the cash when you can easily make them yourself?  They’re simple to create, and they make great, personal gifts that your friends and family will really appreciate.  You can fill your wine gift baskets with almost anything, so get creative: the possibilities are endless!

To start, you need some kind of attractive basket or box.  Visit your local craft store for wicker baskets or large tin pails.  Wooden wine cases also make great receptacles. For a unique container that’s a gift in itself, use a leather brigade bucket by Mulholland Leather.

Then pick a wine theme and get to filling!  Here are some ideas:

A chocolate-themed gift basket. Visit a chocolate store and pick out a variety: white, milk, and dark chocolates all pair well with wines.  If you know the person’s favorites, play to them.  You can even try some unusual chocolates: they may include goat cheese, herbs, or even chilies.  Next, pair some wines with the chocolates you’ve chosen.  For a dark chocolate lover, strong, rich reds like Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon are perfect.  For the milk chocolate lover, try something smooth like a Pinot Noir or something sweet like a Muscat.  White chocolate pairs well with sweet wines like Muscatos or even something darker and tannic for contrast, like a Merlot.  For our full wine and chocolate pairing guide, click here.

A summer-themed gift basket: Line a basket with a checkered picnic cloth, then fill with beautiful summer fruits, like strawberries and peaches.  Add some goats-milk cheese (it’s at its peak in the summer) and some crackers or a baguette.  Finish with summer wines like Rosé or Pinot Grigio.

A gift basket for the new wine lover: If you know someone in your life who’s just starting to appreciate the pleasures of wine, help them out!  Fill a basket with a few bottles of your favorites.  Try to think outside the box and introduce the person to some types of wine he or she might not have heard of.

A wine and cheese basket: This one’s a crowd-pleaser.  Pairing wine and cheese can be intimidating, so see our easy wine & cheese pairing guide for help.  In general, stick to white wines and pick a variety of cheeses (like brie, gruyere, and cheddar).  Include a few different types of crackers, a bunch of grapes, and you’re ready to go.

A wine game gift basket: Give everything they need to have their own wine-tasting party.  Include several types of wine, or a a few bottles of the same type at different price point.  Place bags over the bottles or cover the labels, and add paper for note-taking.  Maybe they’ll even invite you over to play!

Interested in our recommendations for wine lover gift ideas?

Gifts for Wine Lovers: Rogar Wine Openers

December 13th, 2010 No comments

Looking for a holiday gift for a special wine lover in your life?  How about a quality wine opener?  Rogar wine openers were originally designed in the late nineteenth century to meet demands from restauranteurs for a professional wine opener that could get the job done fast.  Today, Rogar wine openers remove the cork in under a second.
One of Rogar’s premiere lines is the Rogar Champion opener series.  Champion openers can both uncork and recork the bottle with speedy ease.  All Champion wine openers feature the Rogar original design: a vine-and-flowers theme that’s classically beautiful.  The base is made of die-cast zinc, and the top can be finished with nickel or pewter, and there are both wood and granite options for the stand and handle.  The Rogar Champion line has timeless elegance that any wine lover is sure to appreciate for years to come.

Rogar Estate openers are another beautiful option.  Their gorgeous designs make them timeless pieces that will never go out of style.  This particular model has an antique bronze finish and a hardwood handle.  It features an ornate design of grapes and leaves.  It can be clamped onto a bar, shelf or table for a classic barroom look, or it can be paired with one of Rogar’s stands for a beautiful, self-supported look.

If you’re looking for that perfect wine gift for the wine lover in your life, you can’t go wrong with a beautiful and functional Rogar wine opener.