Friday, September 28, 2012

Wine And Fast Food? You Bet!

I wish this incredible idea was mine, but alas, I have to give credit to sommelier, Dini Rao (??), for pairing 9 classic fast food meals with wine. The link is provided below if you want to read the whole article, but here are a few examples:
Burger King Whopper:  Cru Beaujolais
McDonald's Filet-o-Fish and Fries:  A sweeter Riesling
KFC Fried Chicken:  Cotes du Rhone
Arby's Roast Beef: Cabernet Sauvignon
So this got me thinking. I don't really do fast food, except for White Castle maybe a couple of times a year. And I've never had wine with my WC sliders.
Let's analyze this; nondescript salty, greasy meat flavors with mushy consistency, dominated by what should be "supporting" flavors of grilled onion and dill pickle. Doesn't that sound good?
Although I've never had it, I bet dry sparkling wines or Champagnes, either white or pink, would go great with White Castle sliders - as long as you don't get them with cheese. You should NEVER get sliders, at least White Castles, with cheese. They shouldn't even offer cheese as an option. The fries are fine. I feel very strongly about this.
So, the dilemma is, do you really want to spend $20 or more for Sparkling wine with your $5 White Castle meal?
Tough call.
Beer works too.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

When Is Wine A Good Value?

It seems you can buy wine almost anywhere these days. That can make it tough sometimes on your friendly, local independent wine retailer.
Sam's, Costco, Trader Joe's, Walgreens, even Aldi's is hawking wine at dirt cheap prices. They all have  their gimmicks of sorts. Sam's and Costco sell their wines at razor thin margins so you can buy more of their other stuff. Trader Joe's draws you in with $3.00 "Two Buck Chuck" so that you will consider their other wine selections which trend higher than your average prices. And Aldi's. Well, I looked at the 5 or 6 selections at our local Aldi's and did not recognize a single label. They were all under $4 though.
We generally consider wine to be a good value if it is under $20 retail and of high quality. The high quality part is essential. We spend more time trying to find high quality value wines than anything else here at The Market. A quick physical count shows we have 105 different labels under $20, the lowest prices being a $9 Sauvignon Blanc and a $10 Cabernet. And I can guarantee you every one of those 105 wines is of high quality. Because somebody here tried them before we brought them in.
Cheers to value!


Friday, September 21, 2012

What's The Big Deal About "Cult" Wines?

The term "cult wine" has been around for several years. The wine industry uses the term "cult", whether it is legitimate or not,  to sell wine, because wine buyers want cult wines.
So what is a "legitimate" cult wine?
Let's see what Wikipedia says: "Cult wines are those for which dedicated groups of committed enthusiasts will pay large sums of money. Cult wines are often seen as trophy wines to be collected or as investment wine to be held rather than consumed."
In addition, cult wines are almost impossible to get. They are usually purchased through winery mailing lists, and those lists are closed to new buyers. Waiting lists can be as long as 10 years.
In other words, you have to wait for existing list members to either die, or drop off the list for some reason.
Pretty wild, huh?
Most of the major wine producing countries produce some cult wines, but, here are a few of the more famous ones from the good old USA:
Screaming Eagle: $1500-$2000 per bottle!
Harlan: $500-$800
Scarecrow: $300-$400
Bryant: $400-$500
You also have Sine Quo Non, Araujo, Colgin and Saxum.
Opus One, Dominus, Peter Michael, Dunn, Kistler and Caymus are also considered cult wines, but, their production is higher, and consequently, they are a little easier to find.
Buyer beware: If someone is trying to peddle you a "cult wine" - it probably isn't.


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

How People Buy Wine

A few years ago, before I was actually in the wine business, and had a little more disposable income, I would visit my favorite wine purveyor every other week or so, and stock up.
One visit would concentrate on "value" wines, usually under $20 per bottle. The next visit would be for "nicer" wines, usually $30-40 per bottle. Rarely would I spend over $50 per bottle. I would usually buy 2 or 3 bottles of the same wine at a time. If I really liked a wine and it was a good value, I might splurge for 6 bottles, or sometimes, even a full case of 12. I would always be sure to buy the latest and greatest Cabernet, and then fill in the rest of a case with Italian, French, Spanish and other wines. The white wines usually fell into the "value" category.
Now, being in the wine business, it's fun to watch other customers buying patterns.
You always get your case buyers, but I would say 3 bottle buyers are the most common. With 3 bottles you're not overly committed to a particular wine, but you can still try it over a period of time to see how it evolves.
Most common purchase quantities per my observation at The Market:
3 bottles
6 bottles
2 bottles
4 bottles
1 bottle
12 bottles
Does anyone really care about this?
Probably not.
My blog.


Thursday, September 13, 2012

A Wine You Must Try Before You Die!

So, it's a slow Saturday morning, and I'm perusing Neil Beckett's 1001 Wines You Must Taste Before You Die. 
Most of the wines you would expect were there: Cult Cabernets, First Growth Bordeaux, Grand Cru Burgundies and Chablis, great Champagne and important wines from nearly every major wine producing country.
So you can imagine my surprise when on page 89 I see Mateus Rose'.
What the hey - Mateus Rose'!
I haven't thought about that wine in a long long time.
Actually though, Mateus has some sentimental significance in my life.
This was the first wine I ever drank, and I thought it was pretty good. My friends and I would pour the wine into flasks and sneak it into late night movies when we had nothing better to do. Of course we were all over 21, and the movies were of the highest repute at the time.
Mateus Rose'. A wine to taste before you die. Available at most drug stores, grocery stores and gas stations for around $4 a bottle.


Mateus Rose. Label from mid-1970's

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

It's 9/11 - No Wine Blog Today!

I can't believe it's been 11 years since the World Trade Center attack. I remember it as if it were yesterday. I'm sure any American who was at least 12 years old, and had access to the news broadcasts feels about the same.
I was in Corporate America at the time. I had a 10:30 AM flight to Minneapolis, was dressed and ready to drive to the airport when I started watching the events unfold on the Today Show. All kinds of emotions, thoughts and feelings were occurring almost simultaneously inside of me. Fear, anger, sorrow, pain and much more. I felt violated like I never had before. It was the first, and to this date the only time, I cried over something that did not involve a personal tragedy.
So it seems a little superfluous to be writing about wine, beer or other alcohol today. I'll be back at it later in the week.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to all the fallen heroes and their families.
September 11, 2001.


Thursday, September 6, 2012

California's "Up and Coming" Red Wines

Cabernet Sauvignon is king. And Pinot Noir is close behind, still benefiting from the effects of the movie Sideways. 
But, there are new reds waiting in the wings.  The quality of domestic Syrah, Grenache and blends has been exceptional, and ratings have been off the charts.
Many of the best producers are from California's Central Coast, but, you're also seeing great wines from Washington State and activity in Northern California.
Some of the top producers have already attained cult status and are commanding prices of $100+ per bottle. Sine Qua Non, Saxum and Alban are a few of the cult wineries that come to mind. Oh yeah, they're almost impossible to get. That's when you know you've hit the "big time" - every one's clamoring for your wines, and there're only a few happy campers out there who are getting them.
Here are a few favorites, in stock at The Market:
2010 Maison Bleue Grenache, $38 - 93 Points
2009 Shane The Unknown Syrah,  $39 - 94 Points
2009 Gorman Pixie Syrah, $43 - 94 Points
2007 Big Basin Odeon Syrah, $43 - 94 Points (Syrah/Cabernet blend)
2009 Wind Gap Griffin's Lair Syrah, $52 - 95 Points


Big Basin Estate vineyard

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Are there "good" reasons for collecting wine?

Why do people collect wine? There are probably dozens of reasons. Here are a few that come to mind:

  • Because they have lots of money and they can
  • People like to collect "stuff", and wine is more "stuff" to collect
  • They think it's "cool" to collect wine
  • Because they built a wine cellar and now have to fill it with wine
Some wine collectors have literally thousands of bottles in their cellars. Some of those wines have been there so long that they've probably gone bad - or at least exceeded their prime drinking windows.
Seems a little silly sometimes - and I'm in the wine business!
There are, however, two very good reasons for collecting wine if you are a wine lover. First, wines vary in quality from vintage to vintage. It makes sense to stock up on your favorite wines from the best vintages. Second, it's a great learning experience, not to mention loads of fun, to experience how a great wine evolves over a period of, say, 10 years. The changes in wines over time can really be amazing. Of course, you have to have the discipline to hold the wine over time. Sometimes that's a challenge for me.