Showing posts with label wine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label wine. Show all posts

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Destination: Portugal - Wine Tastings & Mysterious Tales

Destination:  Portugal - Explore Port Wine

Spring is the most pleasant time of the year. Days start to get longer and warmer, and spending time outside suddenly feels very inviting. The green gets greener, the blue sky turns brighter and flowers blooming everywhere it all seems magical. Well, and it is, at least here in Portugal!
Porto is Portugal's second largest city and was elected Best European Destination 2017 and awarded as European Leading Destination 2018. Every year the city attracts thousands of tourists eager to discover the ancient downtown, the typical riverside with colorfully painted houses, to get lost in century old streets, to enjoy the Portuguese cuisine and, of course, to taste wine.
It´s great to be outdoors during the spring months. To take a walk along the lavish green Douro's landscape taking your time to relax or to sail the Douro River and breathe for a while. Moreover, if you are thinking that the perfect setting would include a Port Wine tasting and maybe some delicious food as well, we are going to make that happen.
Here is a list of the Top 4 Experiences you just can't skip this Spring.

Picnic in the Vineyards
Picnics are a fun thing to do. But when do you have the opportunity to do it right in middle of secular vineyards sightseeing the snake like Douro river in the background?
Some wine estates in Portugal are able to provide that unique experience perfect for everyone. Enjoy it with your family, friends or even in a romantic getaway. Some wineries sell the tour and picnic is included, so be ready to choose your spot in the vineyard and unveil what is inside your basket to celebrate the moment. Everything you are about to taste was carefully selected and the wine will be the perfect pairing. Only the best regional wine and delicacies (or in Portuguese: Petiscos) combined with some charming and distinctive details selected for you will be inside your basket. Immerse yourself in the magnificent scenery and enjoy each flavor and each minute.
Explore Portugal with a picnic in the vineyards

The must go Port Wine Cellars Tour
  You don't need to go a specific winery or vineyard in the Douro Valley to taste the best Portuguese wines (though we strongly recommend you do!). If you're in Porto and haven't planned a trip to the Douro but find yourself in the mood for a Port wine tasting, there are plenty of choices, mainly on the other side of the Douro River, in Gaia.
In the cellars, you will learn more about the history of Port wine and the Douro region and discover its most iconic figures. Powerful women that controlled a so-called men world back in the 1800’s, piracy tales and Barons that had a doomed faith to drown in the Douro River and never to be seen again.
Each visit is different, featuring a tasting room, artesanal cheese or chocolate pairings, on-site sommeliers and much more. To become a real Port Wine connoisseur keep reading and download the free Guide to the Best Port Wine Cellars and book your tour in Portugal.

Cruising 2019 in Portugal  
Wine cruises can be relaxing, fun, romantic, you set the tone we provide all you need on board for the smoothest sailing either for a short escape of one or two hours or to spend the night on board.
The view is stunning and the wine, by the moment you already know how it is, unique and produced in the man-made slopes along the Douro river as far as the eyes can see.  A truly delight for those who need a moment out of the real world, a moment of indescribable beauty.
To set sail in Douro River you will be able to go on board of modern sailing boats or boats with a vintage feel to it accordingly to your preference. 
In addition, if you are visiting Algarve in the south of Portugal a Yacht cruise will take you along the immense bright blue of the Atlantic Ocean and you will be able to spot secret beaches hidden between the rocks.
Wine Tourism in Portugal has cruises that are able to suit your particular taste. Everything for the perfect spring day!
A wine cruise in Portugal is an incredible experience

Cultural Tours - The Locals Choices
Yes, cultural tours can be exhausting, if the only thing you do is to walk around a town and visit platitudinous churches or museums. But what if this tour takes you only to the most beautiful European historic sites and shows you the true cultural heritage? A cultural richness that adds up some top quality wines and delicious petiscos. Yes, your cultural tour magically turns into a once in a lifetime experience. What about now? A Wine Tour in Porto with a River Cruise and Tour to The Port Wine Cellars, or a  Full-day Wine Tour in Alentejo?  Maybe you are more into a city feel, and if that is so: Wine and History Tour in Lisbon will be the most appropriate choice.

Adventure and sustainable tours
As a wine lover you know wine goes with any activity, mostly if you are on your Spring vacations. So, why not to mix it up with some adventure and nature experiences? OK, as long as the only thing you are driving is a Bike or a Kayak! And since spring is also the last chance you have to stay fit before summer, we have some excellent suggestions for you, that goes from an unique Wine and Golf Tour to Health and Wellness stays. In fact you can mix them and do it all during you stay. What about Bicycle Tours and Bird Watching,  Kayak and Bike Tours or get the adrenaline running in the 4x4 Wine Tour?
We have so many incredible experiences waiting for you in Portugal all year long.  Did you know that Portugal is the European country with more sun hours? Yes, it is true.  So now, it is time for you to see, taste, and feel for yourself.  Create your own unforgettable memories of 2019, here in Portugal.
For more suggestions, visit Wine Tourism in Portugal website and have a look at the list of all the experiences you can book in the Douro region.

Wine Tourism in Portugal is leading the path in making Wine Lovers discover what a great wine country Portugal is.
The only hub for booking the finest and most awarded wine places and wine experiences in Portugal.
Nowadays with more than 130k visits per month from travelers all around the world, Wine Tourism in Portugal is a key company and inevitable business partner for the wine related industry.

Monday, December 31, 2018

Drink The Bottles 2018 Wine of the Year!

It's really very difficult to pick a singular wine that sums up the best of the best for an entire year.  In some ways, it just doesn't seem fair to show your cards, point and say "This.  This is the one", but scores of folks clamor each year for every wine publication, including bloggers, to tell them "what a good wine is" that they would like.   That question always hurts my head.   Let me start by echoing my own sentiment and one that I always say....

Every wine listed on Drink The Bottles is worth your attention.   They are all worth your hard-earned money and they would not be here if I did not think you and your tribe would enjoy them.  It's that easy.  I taste hundreds of wines each year.   The ones on this blog are the ones that make it.  Some don't.  And that's ok.  You might still love those and hopefully you've fallen in love with a producer or varietal that is your jam.  

Before I get to "the" wine of the year, here are some very, VERY incredible honorable mentions in no particular order:

So, the downside of listing some of my favorite wines is fact that some feelings may get hurt.  That may cause some folks to delete my email address and not take my calls anymore.  I hope not.  Again, every single wine on this blog is a keeper.......or, make that a drinker.   

When I was trying to think about the 2018 Wine of the Year, I had to ask myself, "what in the heck does that mean"?  It comes down to this.  Is the wine readily available?  Is the wine memorable?  Is the wine affordable to most people who appreciate drinking with friends?   This wine was on my radar most of the year and I had no doubt at all that this was going to be the one.

(Drum roll please...............)

The Shepherd 2014 Estate Red
Drink The Bottles 2018 Wine of the Year

This beautiful wine is only $20 and for that price you need to do yourself a favor and pick up half a least!   If you do nothing else today, check out my thoughts on this wine on the blog.

I am really looking forward to 2019 and sharing dozens of wonderful wines with all of you.  If you want to be part of the project, connect with me here on or Instagram.  Cheers!

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

2014 Stag's Leap Wine Cellars Armillary Cabernet Sauvignon

2014 Stag's Leap Wine Cellars Armillary Cabernet Sauvignon

Man, this one is BIG!   I received this bottle of 2014 Stag's Leap Wine Cellars Armillary Cabernet Sauvignon last week and let it rest a few days before tasting.   Tasted over two days, this initially tossed around aromas of plum, leather, cedar, menthol and a touch of sage again big, rich tannins and a lingering finish.  Despite the 15%+ alcohol content, this wasn't hot at all.  In fact, it was beautifully made and a real pleasure to drink.  I was lucky enough to have some of this to taste a second night with a chicken pasta dish that I make regularly and the pairing was spot on.  The wine was more Bing cherry, cocoa powder and tea leaves with saddle leather and neither the pasta or wine overpowered each other.  I absolutely adore a 100% Cabernet that is completely mouth-coating as this one and if you're looking for an amazing wine to share with friends, this is your huckleberry!

2014 Stag's Leap Wine Cellars Armillary Cabernet Sauvignon label

ABV:  15.3%

Napa Valley, California

Suggested retail price:  $125.00

Drink The Bottles score:  94/100

Monday, October 8, 2018

Find Your Wine Tribe: Why The Connection is Important

Don't Be A Wine Snob!

I recently found out that someone I used to look up to the world of wine isn't who I thought he was.  He is an up and coming wine blogger who I followed on social media sites because his posts were entertaining, colorful and inviting.  And one day I felt I owed it to myself (and him) to visit his blog and I nearly puked.  I was so put off after reading a couple of entries that I couldn't decide what to do first - punch myself in the head for thinking this guy was something that he wasn't, or just walk away. 

I guess I should start by saying that as a wine blogger, you generally get one shot.  If you don't connect with a reader with your first article or wine review, they probably won't be back to read your work.  And everyone needs something different from a wine blogger.  Some people just want to know what they should drink.   These are generally the people who want to impress someone at a dinner party, because they typically show up with a half a case of Natural Light and some Boone's Farm Strawberry Hill "wine".   Don't get me wrong - we love these people.  They know very little about wine and it's great that they generally want to find something "good" or "tasty". 

But for most of the other readers, they want to be entertained.  They want to connect with a writer that thinks, talks and enjoys wine like they do.   If you're only interested in first growth Bordeaux wines, then you should find that wine writer.   If you don't want to spend more than $9 for a bottle of wine, I'm sure that wine blogger is out there too.  Find them.   Sparkling wines only?   There's a blog for that.   Wines for people that identify as gender neutral, are Vegan and are Crossfit instructors that drive a monster truck?    Ok, there may not be a blog specifically for that group, but chances are there is a blogger who matches that description.   Find them.   Connect with them.

So, let's go back to my blogging "friend" from the beginning of this article.  When I use quotes around the word friend, it's not because I don't care for the guy anymore, but we've never actually met in person.  We are in a circle of bloggers, a community of vino enthusiasts, connected by wines and vines.   Gosh, that was corny.  I digress.   So anyway, I go to this guy's blog (which will remain nameless) and read a few wine descriptions.   At first, I thought he was just screwing with his readers.  Here's a small excerpt from a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc:  " carriage rubber tires and wet diaper aromas, but not the offensive kind.  The wine is extraordinarily blue after decanting in a smoke free, deodorant and fragrant-free home for seven hours.   It's the most unusual thing I've put in my mouth since my cousin Robert kissed me when we were much younger."  

Get the hell out of here.   What?   Did I read that right?

Thinking this was surely an inside joke towards someone named Robert, I initially shrugged this off and continued reading.   I am a HUGE fan of Cabernet (aren't we all?) so frankly, I got pissed when I read this wine description from the same blogger.   In part, "......pencil shavings, black currant, red currant, barnyard scraps, licorice, vanilla, bees wax, nutmeg ice cream, coffee, leather and tobacco gently caress your face with the first whiff of Montana air."   Uh.................huh?   I don't know what the air in Montana has to do with the wine in the glass, but I'm pretty sure this guy is nuts.  I think he opened a Wine 101 book and started copying and writing descriptors for the major reds.  And these were just the FIRST aromas that he "discovered".  Shit.   How many more will there be when he actually puts the glass to his mouth?

So, long story short.   This guy has great pics and really does drink some fine wines, but his approach is all wrong.  He's a snob.   Or he wants to be a snob.  Even if you have WSET degrees and are a master sommelier at the finest New York City steakhouse, you can't talk to people like this.  Well, you can talk to people like this if they too are snobs and if misery loves company.  But the majority of the world want to engage and understand how a wine tastes and whether or not it is something they can cellar for years and years and bring out a little Johnny's Bah Mitzvah someday.

Drink What You Like and Like What You Drink

The greatest compliment a wine blogger can receive is kind words from a reader.  I recently received a couple of emails from wine industry folks, telling me that I was entertaining and they enjoyed my style of writing.  For a wine blogger, no matter how large or small, this is what it is all about.  It's about making a connection, developing a community of like-minded wine lovers.    And I've had a few people tell me how I sucked too.  There was this winemaker of a small, boutique winery in Missouri many years ago who had sent samples.   They were horrible.  All of them.   I didn't write about any of them and he attempted to lambaste me to as many people who would listen, which thankfully wasn't many.  Obviously, he and I didn't make a positive connection.

There are literally thousands of wine bloggers available to you via the internet and social media.  Each one with a different style, some with a different angle but all with the same passion.  Some will tell you about "The 1,348 wine terms you must know", some will tell you about Robert's kiss, and some will just tell you about the wine and why it is so damn good.  I personally only tell you about wines that I would serve on our back deck to friends.  If the wine sucks, you won't hear it from me. 

Find your wine tribe.  Connect with the writer.  Follow them on social media.  Become a friend.  Get to know them and it makes wine education and enjoyment so much more fun!

Fine Your Wine Tribe

Friday, September 28, 2018

2013 d'Arenberg The Custodian Grenache

2013 d'Arenberg The Custodian Grenache

Going back a bit on this one (the 2015 is currently available) with the 2013 d'Arenberg Grenache wine - The Custodian.  For between $15 - $20 you can get a ton of enjoyment with this solid wine that boasts aromas of black raspberry, plum, pepper and licorice.   It's a straight forward crowd pleaser that would really be an exception add-on to your thick, medium rare steak.  The finish is quick but memorable on this one and it would be hard for anyone to think otherwise.  I really enjoy d'Arenberg wines and this one should be on your radar.

2013 d'Arenberg The Custodian Grenache label

ABV:  14.3%

McLaren Vale, South Australia

Suggested retail price:  $20.00

Drink The Bottles score:  90/100

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

2017 Farmhouse White

2017 Farmhouse White wine

The 2017 Farmhouse White from Cline Cellars mixes it up and stands out from most white blends because of the uniqueness of the six varietals that are the backbone of this refreshing beauty.  Medium golden with loads of honeycomb and warm tropic fruits on the nose.  Hints of wildflower appear as this wine warms to (my) proper drinking temperature (which is room temperature).  Blended with Palomino (41%), Muscat Canelli (25%), Roussanne (22%), Marsanne (6%), Viognier (5%) and Riesling (1%), this wine provides a crisp and slightly sweet flavor profile of tropical fruits, pear preserves, key lime pie and cantaloupe. The finish is solid and this wine should be taken seriously, because it is one that will bring you back over and over again.  I would recommend this with raw veggies and dill dip or bruschetta that is high in garlic content.

2017 Farmhouse White wine label

ABV:  13.5%


Suggested retail price:  $15.00

Drink The Bottles score:  87/100

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

2014 d'Arenberg The Dead Arm Shiraz

2014 d'Arenberg The Dead Arm Shiraz

I first tasted d'Arenberg wines about ten years ago and fell in love instantly.  Fast forward a decade, they have an incredible offering of wines and price points for just about every taste bud and pocket book.  The Dead Arm Shiraz is wildly popular and this 100% varietal is leaping out of the glass with spices, black fruit, coffee bean and damp earth.  This is one of those wines that get better with each sip (if that's possible) and you can't help but to be mesmerized by the deep purple color, so much that you find yourself helplessly swirling this wine throughout the drinking experience.  It's enchanting!  Ripe, dark berries with hints of farm pasture are on the flavor wheel with this one and there is a definitive, long and welcoming spicy and slightly woody finish that begs for more.  There is absolutely no doubt that this wine is going to evolve into a beautiful butterfly and despite the wonderful flavors you experience now, it will be more incredible in 10+ years.   By then, it could be considered "the" perfect wine!

2014 d'Arenberg The Dead Arm Shiraz label

ABV:  14.4%

McLaren Vale, South Australia

Suggested retail price:  $70.00

Drink The Bottles score:  95/100

Thursday, July 5, 2018

2016 Ste Chapelle Special Harvest Riesling

2016 Ste Chapelle Special Harvest Riesling

Full disclosure:  I have absolutely no experience with Idahoan wines.  Well, that's not true.  The first one I tried a few weeks ago was corked, but that happens to wines from any region so it's a loss and shouldn't be symbolic of the wines in general.   Now that we have that out of the way, let's discuss this 2016 Ste Chapelle Special Harvest Riesling from the Snake River Valley AVA of Idaho.  I actually leaped at the chance to taste these wines because I love discovering AVA's and producers that I'm not familiar with.   If this 100% Riesling is indicative of what this region can produce, they've got a real winning combination with grapes and terroir.  

If you love sweet white wines then this is your jam!  If sweet wines turn you off, find something else to drink.  I started out with this well-chilled and the honeysuckle, pear, peach and wildflower aromas were really prevalent.  As I've said dozens of times, I taste nearly all of my wines around room temperature to get a true picture of the flavor profile, but chilling this wine seemed appropriate, and it was indeed!  When you put this in the back of the throat, it is literally mouth-watering and overall, this wine is very welcoming with mellow flavors of apricot, and hints of powdered graphite and candied lemon rind.   This wine wants you needing another sip and I think it is a very agreeable with salty ham and cheese pinwheels, New York style cheesecake or even spicy Thai food.  If you're unfamiliar with wines from Idaho, I highly recommend you give this one a try.

2016 Ste Chapelle Special Harvest Riesling label

ABV:  12.0%

Snake River Valley, Idaho

Suggested retail price:  $11.99

Drink The Bottles score:  89/100

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

2015 MERF Cabernet Sauvignon

2015 MERF Cabernet Sauvignon

Here's a brand new wine label that I frankly, hadn't heard of but of course, I'm always eager to learn something new.  This 2015 MERF Cabernet Sauvignon is staight out of Columbia Valley, Washington, where many of my favorite red blends were born and raised.  A combination of Cabernet Sauvignon (81%), Merlot (17%) and Merlot (2%), this easy-to-imbibe red is a little fruity on the nose and at first sip.  Blueberry, vanilla and sweet spices predominantly fill the glass and if you like a softer, more subtle Cabernet blend, this is your jam!  In the mouth is more of the same but black raspberry and sweet tobacco round out the flavor profile with a very short finish.   My recommendation is to drink this with a bloody, salty, bone-in slab of beef or some hot Virginia ham and Swiss cheese sandwiches with spicy mustard.  It would be a match made in heaven.

2015 MERF Cabernet Sauvignon label

ABV:  14.5%

Columbia Valley, Washington

Suggested retail price:  $12.99

Drink The Bottles score:  82/100

Monday, July 2, 2018

2016 Jacuzzi Family Vineyards Sangiovese Sonoma Coast

2016 Jacuzzi Family Vineyards Sangiovese Sonoma Coast

I am really digging this 2016 Jacuzzi Family Vineyards Sangiovese and think it is drinking very well right now.  This is definitely a great Chicken Parmesan pairing now or you could hold it for 5 years to enjoy more depth and less brightness.  This wine is slightly peppery with berries and a bit of funky, wet earth on the nose.  In the mouth, this light-to-medium wine shows off some gorgeous dried cherry bits, hints of candied apples and vanilla.   There's a suggestion of cedar box towards the end and I think it would be great to taste this vintage again in 3 years to see where that goes.  This is a very flavorful wine and one that I think is best enjoyed with the aforementioned meal.  Great value!

2016 Jacuzzi Family Vineyards Sangiovese Sonoma Coast label

ABV:  15.0%

Sonoma Coast, California

Suggested retail price:  $25.00

Drink The Bottles score:  89/100

Sunday, July 1, 2018

2016 Frank Family Vineyards Carneros Chardonnay

2016 Frank Family Vineyards Carneros Chardonnay

This post is a couple of weeks overdue, but the timing is right considering the scorching heat that most of the US is experiencing right now.  Many people feel that heavier red wines are cumbersome when the heat index is hovering around triple digits and while I am not one of those people, I think some white wines (slightly chilled) are better suited for the sweltering heat.  With that, I give you the 2016 Frank Family Vineyards Carneros Chardonnay.   This is Chardonnay exactly - e x a c t l y - how I like it to taste.  Whether or not oak is your thing, this 100% varietal has just enough that isn't overpowering, but it definitely helps bring the flavors together.  This wine has a really welcoming light gold color with lemon candy and warm buttered bread dominant on the nose.  Extremely creamy on the palate (again, just how I love it), lemon cake, baked cinnamon apple and baking spices combine beautifully and create a finish that clean and extremely satisfying.  This is definitely the best Chardonnay I have tasted in recent memory and it takes me back to our first California trip 9 years ago.  Frank Family Vineyards has really knocked this wine out of the park and as a side note, they have some of the most beautiful wine labels, which really adds to the conversation.  With 25,000 cases produced there is enough for everyone, so add this to your tasting line up.

2016 Frank Family Vineyards Carneros Chardonnay label

ABV:  14.4%

Carneros, Napa Valley, California

Suggested retail price:  $38.00

Drink The Bottles score:  95/100

Thursday, June 28, 2018

The Great Wine Glass Lie: Are you being duped?

Are differing styles of wine glasses really important?

Today I want to explore the wine glass industry and whether or not different styles of wine glasses are really that important in how you smell, taste and enjoy your wine.  For many years, I purchased dozens of different styles of wine glasses, from port to Champagne, to Cabernet, to Riesling, to............well, you get the point.  Why did I do this?   While I'm still asking myself this question, at the time, as a fledgling wine writer, it made sense to me.  I mean, in literally every wine publication I read or web site I visited, including forums, were ads for beautiful, lead-free crystal wine glasses that were the "best" for enhancing my wine enjoyment experience.   Well heck, these people must know much more than I do, so I better get them all!  (Or so I thought).

So why do we buy so many styles of wine glasses?  Or maybe a better question is, why do the larger wine glass companies create and market so many styles of wine glasses to the masses?  Do you really care if you're drinking a Cabernet out of a Syrah glass or a Gewurztraminer out of a glass that is labeled ideal for Riesling?  Maybe the bigger question here would be can you even tell the difference?  My answer would be no.  No, you cannot tell a difference.  Even if you are the very top sommelier at the pinnacle of your career, I challenge that you are full of crap if you think that there is a real need to stock a dozen or more different styles of wine goblets in your cabinets because they each pair wonderfully with your 1982 Chateau Overpriced Plonk.  Let's get real.

So then, why do we purchase different wine glasses and why are some of them ideal for different types of wine?  Red wine.   Ahhhh, let that soak in for a minute.   It's lovely and my personal favorite - Cabernet, Shiraz, Tempranillo, Petit Syrah, Merlot - I'll take it all!   And I'll drink it all from one wine glass.  For these lovelies, I use only one style (which is ironically called the One Red Wine Glass, which I purchased off of Amazon for about $12.50 each in bulk) and this glass has a 19.5 ounce capacity, a medium-to-long stem and a very well rounded bowl, great for cupping the glass and swirling.   I constantly swirl when drinking, probably to a fault, but I can't help it and I love the way the aromas waft upwards out of this glass.  If your budget only allows for one type of wine glass, get a "red" wine glass.  It's versatile enough for nearly everything you will be serving and 95% of your guests have no clue or care about varying styles.  So check off the first glass you need - RED.  

If you're going to have only one wine glass, make it a "red" one!

If you don't care what you serve your wine in to your guests or what you're drinking your Boone's Farm Strawberry wine in (other than straight from the bottle), you can stop reading now - if you even made it this far.  Game over.  You're welcome.  But, if you want a little variety and want to enjoy your Champagne (sorry America, all of ours is actually "sparking wine" made Methode Champenoise but we generally call it "Champagne" similarly to a tissue is a "Kleenex" for most), then you need to get some flutes.   No, this isn't that one time at band camp.  These are Champagne flutes.  Why?  Because they look pretty and classy?  Sure, let's face it.  That's one aspect of why we quaff from these dainty glasses.  But there is actually truth that the smaller, narrow, elongated design helps keep the bubbles in check and dancing around in the glass, which is why we drink Champagne, right?  It's the tasting experience that counts.  It's the lovely tickle in our noses and the yeasty tastes that are accentuated by the thousands of little bubbles that make this wine fun, delicious and memorable.  Truth be known, if I didn't have a flute and only had a coffee mug, well, this blogger would be partaking anyway!  But if you want the best drinking experience and have a budget for it, then check off your second wine glass here - Champagne flute.

Champagne flutes will keep the bubbles tickling your nose
You need nothing else.  No port glasses, no $200 Sommelier glass.  That's it.  But I will suggest that if you have regular wine parties, have some extra bucks that you aren't spending on one of your many wine club memberships or hell, maybe you just don't like to re-use wine glasses, then consider a white wine glass.   But don't get cute and don't get fancy.  Don't stress over Chardonnay versus Sauvignon Blanc or any other fake, commercialized, make-believe styles that are the "best" for your wine.  Just get something that has a smaller bowl than your red glass, has a good stem for gripping and for God's sake, don't get a stemless set!  More on that later.  A simple white wine glass with a stem will keep your wine the proper temperature, allow you to enjoy the flavors of your juice and if on a table setting, will remind your lovers that you have class damnit and you serve both red and white wines at your house!  The days of rinsing out red glasses for white wines and vice versa are over.  Spend a few bucks.  Get some whites.  Enjoy.  And we're done!   The third and only wine glass I would recommend is a white wine glass, and it's totally optional!

White wine glasses - optional but a good idea

I'll finish this ramble with a few pet peeves.   I guess I should start by saying that if you invite me over to your house, I'm not going to poo poo any of your drinkware and I'm confident that you and I and our band of hearty drinkers will have a hell of a good time.  But, if we can avoid a few things, I want to put those out here right now.  Stemless wine glasses.   I'm on the fence here.  I have actually used these recently with our neighbors and I admit that I really like the way they fit in my hand and there is much less of a chance that I'll knock one over and break it while sipping by the fire pit.  For that I am very thankful and they immediately generate a more relaxed atmosphere.  Ok, I have it!   Let's call these outside-only glasses, ok?  I now ban everyone from using these indoors, but have at them outdoors.  I have to add that the idea that the stemless wine glasses are "bad" because the temperature of your hands messes with the wine temperature and creates a lesser tasting experience is a bunch of shit.  There.  I said it.  Unless you are Marvel Comic's Human Torch, I don't think you'll have to worry about your "hotness" screwing with your wine.  And if you're sipping on one glass of wine all night while I'm opening my second bottle, then this will probably be the last time we drink together, so there's that.   Fingerprints on these glasses are the devil's work and the real problem with these glasses.  But if you concentrate on the friends and the wine, you can most likely get past your paw prints all over the glass.

Stemless wine glasses are on the fence - damn fingerprints!

Finishing off my pet peeves are glasses that I just don't like.  I don't care for them one bit.  They're wildly popular with the gift-giving crowd who occasionally sips the Moscato and thinks they are "big wine fans".  I'm not judging here (ok, maybe a little).   I guess I don't have a dog in this game because I'm not crafty and I won't drink from these.  I give you, the novelty wine glass...

Wine glass with a "deep" message - Pass!

Stick to the cookies and milk Santa.   Holy crap.
I will say that anyone who can create a wine glass that is unbreakable, beautiful, affordable and not full of poisonous materials will be my new best friend.  If these are your glasses, send them to me and I'll promote them until the cows come home.  That's a midwestern phrase and for those of you who don't know, that's a really, really good thing.  I've had too many accidents over the years that ruined a delicate wine glass and beautiful wine, just like the overpriced Riedel pictured below.  RIP.

Give me unbreakable and affordable wine glasses!

At the end of the day, you're going to drink wine out of whatever you want and I'm not mad at you.  But whatever you do, drink wine!   By the end of the night, we're all going to be having a grand old time and might even be following our buddy Miles and drink whatever we can get ahold of however we can get it down our throats!   Cheers!

Interesting way to drink wine!

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Wine Marketing 101: Convince me to buy your wine

Wine labels that stand out win in the liquor store

Literally every time I am in a wine shop I am completely flabbergasted and bewildered to see the hundreds or perhaps thousands of wines eagerly waiting to find a home, similar to dogs at the humane society.  But, like some of those dogs, the wines just don't make a good impression or draw you into their charming personality.  I'm not looking for a wine that humps your leg or begs and does tricks, but I am looking for a reason to try something new.  

Reality check.  Most of the time you're faced with a scene similar to the one pictured above without shelf talkers or anyone that has the time or the knowledge to help recommend a selection that they think you will enjoy.  After your eleven second interaction with the "wine clerk" and the customary "what kind of wine do you like" open-ended question, you're discouraged and disconnected.  You want to try something new.  You want a new tasting experience, so how do you decide what to try?   Wine marketing 101 should have a huge influence on your choice.  I'm going to share with you some success stories and some real wine marketing misses.

Just when I thought the garage sale style display of wines pictured above couldn't get any worse, I was proven wrong.   If you walked into this wine shop not knowing anything about the wines, which one would draw your interest?   "I'll try the one with the boring white label, please."

Boring wine labels equals boring wine shopping
I would walk in, roll my eyes, turn around and never go back.  Is this the generic wine store?

Of course, white wine labels aren't the evil here.  Creativity, or lack thereof, is what is lacking.  Don't get me wrong.  If you're Scarecrow and command $600 or more per bottle, then you don't give a crap about what anyone thinks of your label.  Cult wines could probably scribe the poop emoji on the bottle and wine fans would buy it anyway.  But cult wines (insert eye roll here) are another blog post for another time and 99% of wines on the market can't pull off this label.  Or at least, they shouldn't.

Scarecrow Wine:  Is the simple label better?
For the crazy prices that Scarecrow brings, they can put anything on the bottle that they want.

While I love for a wine label to stand out and wave at you like a crazed commuter trying to hail a New York cab, it has to be done smartly.  Don't look desperate.  Don't get too cute.  And, don't turn off half of your demographic with a stupid name because you thought you were funny, empowering or maybe just scarred after a relationship gone wrong.   I give you..........Bitch wine.  In the early 2000's, twenty-something and early thirty-something women were buying this wine up by the case, proudly displaying it in their three bottle silver wine rack on the kitchen counter and telling everyone that it was their "favorite wine" and how they "can relate to it".  After people tasted it and found out it was not good wine, the popularity quickly waned and people were trying to give away the plonk as gifts or adding it to the stew or sauce of the day.   Lesson learned?  Shock factor is good for quick sales and may even become viral (in today's terms), but it isn't sustainable.

Very popular at first, but now just a novelty.  Isn't that a bitch?

What makes a good wine label?  Flashing lights?  A bottle shaped like Kim Kardashian's butt?   No.  Let me start by saying that I personally am not a very creative person.  I recently painted a 50 year old pot with my daughter and I thought I was the DIY king of the year.  I might be exaggerating a bit, but I can't stress to you enough that I really don't have an eye for design, whether it's fancy emails, interior decorating or wine labels.   Hell, I keep changing the look of my blog because I just don't know what's cool or what is appealing to people.  I digress.  What I'm trying tos tell you here is that sometimes you need a second set of eyes - or a third.  Or a fourth.  Winemakers are some of the most talented people in the world.  They create white and red masterpieces that we adore, but that doesn't mean that they can get you to buy their wine because people may never pull it off of the shelf.

If you aren't creative, hire or borrow someone that is.  Ummmm, what color is this wine?

Build a brand.  Even if it's quirky - especially if it's quirky.  Make it memorable but make it fit what you're doing.   The folks at Mad Housewife wines started off with products that scores of housewifes could relate to, but it went beyond that.   These wines were for anyone who hated doing laundry, who didn't feel the need to be perfect or have a neat-as-a-pin house or manicured nails every day.  They even took marketing to Marketing 102 by labeling everything with colorful Mad Housewife pictures and logos including tchotchkes that included, among other things, kitchen gadgets like rubber scrapers.  They were building a brand.  And then it wasn't good enough.  Maybe they tried to grow too quickly?  Maybe they lost their identity.  Whatever it was, it resulted in new labels that weren't as appealing, lost the story in the translation and now you can find the wine on Amazon of all places.  

Mad Housewife WInes:  The story of a confused brand
Housewife wines was on a roll and then they fell off of their ironing board.

All is not in vain.   There are thousands of winners and hundreds of stunners in the wine label game of life.   These are labels that are innovative, eye catching, memory-jerking, clever and just darn good marketing.   Let's pay homage to those who understand how to get you to shell out your hard earned money for their juice.  Heck, with a solid bottle and clever label, you can probably get an extra 20% for that bottle over a boring, passe label and bottle.

Mollydooker wines:  The wine and the original wine labels are created by winemaker and owner Sarah Marquis.  The labels are entertaining, animated, welcoming, tell a story....and they're all personal to her.  Marketing costs money.  But not selling your wines costs even more.  

Mollydooker WIne display: They get an A+ in marketing
Check out the Mollydooker Wine labels.  Winner winner, chicken dinner!

Wines that jog a memory from a favorite time in your life or from your childhood are sure to get a second look from you while shopping for some new juice.  I really love the Cannonball Wine label (despite the fact that I can't swim and have a fear of water that goes over my head).  You get what I'm trying to say here, right?   Maybe if this wine label was of kids playing war I'd be really into it!

Cannonball Wine label - a reminder of simpler times
This label will remind you of summer camp and you'll be telling stories around this bottle.

I like wines that are steeped in tradition and are iconic by their name, reputation, quality and look.  This is the case with Dom Perignon.  While the quality of the Champagne has varied from year to year, most would agree that overall it is still one of most recognized wine brands in the world.  A few years back, DP came out with an Andy Warhol inspired series of bottles that took the wine world by storm.  I love the idea and the look.  And I love the fact that this is the only Warhol-inspired artwork that I'll ever be able to afford.  Smart marketing!  Create an exclusive or limited edition label and sell the crap out of it, despite how it tastes.  (And I'm not saying this vintage is bad).

Dom Perignon bottles that Andy Warhol would love
Colorful.  Smart.  Limited.   Collectors are required to buy these, right?

Two of my favorite wine labels of all time are Chateau Mouton Rothschild.  Here is a beautiful (overpriced) wine that displays some of the most original and beautiful wine labels ever.  And they really understand marketing, even if it is very understated.  You have to understand that this producer could have a seventy-three cent wine marketing budget and they would still have money left at the end of the year.   This wine is a first growth Bordeaux that everyone and their brother wants, it's incredibly expensive, it has name recognition and they throw beautiful labels at you.  I'd challenge that a bottle of this never makes it to the trash.  I bet there are thousands of CMR candles throughout France and the rest of the world.

Chateau Mouton Rothschild label
A very overpriced wine, but the complete package and a marketing home run.

Opus One is a label that cleverly depicts the winery's founders, Robert Mondavi and Baron Phillipe de Rothschild in a singular portrait.   Both of these wine pioneers were easily recognized and whether it was a brilliant marketing approach or vanity that brought this label into fruition, it works.  And the label doesn't waiver to this day, despite the fact that both men have since gone to the vineyard in the sky and the winery is owned by a massive beverage conglomerate.  

Opus One WInery: Two wine pioneers
Maybe the label should change to the Constellation Brands logo ..... or a pile of cash?

Innovation.  I love it.  I embrace it.  And now, with technology, some very creative techies bring us the Living Wine Labels.  These are interactive wine labels with the free LWL app.  It's not only innovative but also entertaining.  If marketed correctly, we will be seeing more of these in the American market (the French will not embrace this) in the future.  Then, we can all be like our kids with our faces planted in our phones and we will forget how to talk to each other.  But then again, we can speak to each other through the wine.  Cheers!

19 Crimes Wine labels talk to you through the free app
The future of the wine label is interactive labels.  QR codes, say bye bye!