Uncorked Ventures Blog

Staff Writer
October 28, 2014 | Staff Writer

Surprising Ways to Open a Bottle of Wine Without an Opener

You’ve got your snacks, your sense of adventure, the incredible view you drove up a windy road for an hour to achieve, and your bottle of wine (Editor's note: presumably from your most recent wine club shipment) . But oops….no wine opener!

That’s okay: here are some surprising ways you can open a bottle of wine without an opener.

With a wire coat hanger

If you have a wire coat hanger, straighten and bend the hook of it so that it looks like a fishhook—so it will have a much smaller round at the top of the hook. Then, push the hook into the cork until it gets to the bottom of it, with the bottom of the hook escaping the bottom of the cork, hooking it. Pull the hook out and the cork should come with it.

With a shoe and a wall

You almost definitely have the two things required for this trick (unless you were trying to connect with nature and carried your picnic barefoot out into a field.) Remove the protective seal from your bottle, and stick the bottle (with the bottom of it in the soul of the shoe) into either a men’s dress shoe or a sneaker. Firmly begin banging the bottom of the shoe, while holding the bottle securely in it, against a wall. The pressure against the bottom of the bottle will begin to pop out the cork at the top.

With a phone book

Many of the same physics of the shoe trick will work with a book. Take a very thick book like a phone book, and pound the bottom of the wine bottle onto the top of the book, as you pound the book onto the wall. Hopefully you don’t do it on the wall you share with a neighbor. The cork should begin to pop out.

With a screw and a hammer

Just as you would put a screw part way into a wall to hang a poster string from, and then later remove that screw with the back of a hammer so your landlord doesn’t get mad you broke the “no nailing things into the wall” rule, you can remove a wine cork. Just twist a screw about two thirds of the way into the cork, leaving about half an inch out, and then with the back of a hammer, pull out the screw. The cork will come with it.

With three nails and a hammer

If you don’t have a screw, you can take three or four nails and jam them into the top of the cork, with about half an inch of the nails exposed. Then slide the back of a hammer over the nails, yank them all out at once and the cork will come with them.

With a knife

Take a knife and insert it into the top of the cork, at about a 45-degree angle. So you want the knife to be going in the direction of the inner wall of the bottleneck, opposite of its entrance point. Once you have it as far in as it can go, begin to twist the knife handle around, and you’ll see the cork begin to twist out as well. Push in the cork If you plan on drinking the entire bottle today, you don’t need to salvage the cork. In that case, you can just use a knife, or even the bottom of a blunt, long object to push the cork into the bottle, rather than trying to get it out.

With a shoe string

Tie a thick knot in a shoe string. Next, bore a hole down the center of the cork—with maybe a screw or nail. Shove the knotted string down the hole in the cork, so the knot sort of anchors itself underneath the cork in the bottle. Pull out the string with all your might and the cork will come along.

Staff Writer
October 22, 2014 | Staff Writer

An Introduction to Solminer Wines

Wine lovers jump at the opportunity to enjoy something new. Solminer wines provide the perfect solution to the curiosity found within every wine enthusiast. This type of wine provides both something unknown and something rewarding.

Maybe you've been on the hunt for months and you've had to search through a number of less than enjoyable bottles of wine to find the next gem. Not every bottle you uncork will provide the thrill of amazing flavors perfectly blended into a unique glass of wine. However, you keep searching because you know that gem is out there and the anticipation is worth it.

Solminer Wines

The anticipation could be over, as soon as you choose one of the highly acclaimed Solminer wines. This is a relatively new winery, which was started by Anna and David DeLaski in 2012. Their goal was to create a well-balanced California wine from an organic vineyard. The combination of their love for Austrian varietals and for each other shows through in every glass.

Not only do Solminer wines provide something different and delicious, but they also live by the motto, "Go Green or Go Home." This is evident in the way the Solminer vineyard handles everything. They only use the most organic and sustainable solutions and ingredients for their wine.

The wines produced by Anna and David actually provide an Austrian grape called the Gruner Veltliner and another called the Blaufrankisch. Along with these two grapes from Austria, they also use a California Syrah grape in their amazing wines.

Praise and Reviews of Solminer Wines

The choice of grape and the organic process used to create Solminer wines has garnered plenty of praise from experts within the industry. Antonio Galloni, the editor of Vinous Media and former critic for Wine Advocate said, "These first releases are hugely promising.  More importantly they are absolutely delicious and fairly priced."

Another comment came from Alder Yarrow of Vineography.com, "The wines are honest, and beautifully refreshing. I'm going to learn more about them, and soon. They are a label to watch." Plenty of others have praised these wines for many reasons. Here's a quick look at a few of the top wines offered by Solminer.

2013 Solminer "Delanda Vineyard" Gruner Veltliner, Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Barbara, California - A pale gold color with an aroma of linalool and apple, this delicious wine provides a creamy texture and flavors of white flowers, apple and lemongrass.

2013 Solminer "Linus" Rose, Santa Barbara, California - A cherry and berries aroma, along with the light ruby color provides an enjoyable rose. This wine provides flavors of cherry, berry and just a touch of citrus.

2012 Solminer "Full Moon" Syrah, Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Barbara, California - This wine provides an aroma of forest berries, floral fruit and cherries. It has a medium garnet color and provides flavors of mixed berries and a touch of sour cherry.

2012 Gruner Veltliner, John Sebastiono Vineyard - Scoring 92 points, this wine provides a flavor of apricot, hazelnut, flower and dried pears. It's an impressive choice from the Solminer collection.

These are just a few of the wines offered by Solminer. Whether you're looking for something new or you've been on the search for a delicious wine for quite some time, any of these choices may be the gem you've been waiting for.


Staff Writer
October 21, 2014 | Staff Writer

What are the Top Colorado Wines During the Fall Season?

Finding the right wine for the season isn't always easy. Sometimes the best choice comes from an unexpected place. Here's a look at a few of the top Colorado wines to try this fall.

Carlson Vineyards 

This vineyard provides a wonderful Riesling for the fall. The 2010 Laughing Cat Riesling is made with about 4% sugar and packs a punch of acidity. It's very balanced and goes very well with turkey or just about any other white meat. 

The Winery at Holy Cross Abbey

One of the wines coming from this winery is simply a must try for any wine lover. The 2012 Wild Canyon Harvest, which only comes out in early November, is an excellent rose. This light, sweet wine blends 28 grapes picked from the backyards of residents. It's perfect for one of the unexpected warm fall days.

BookCliff Vineyards

If you're in search of a Colorado Syrah for the fall, BookCliff Vineyards is the right place. They produced a 2010 Reserve Syrah, which provides notes of molasses perfect for pairing with BBQ or those looking for a tailgating wine.

Sutcliffe Vineyards

A sexy wine with flavors of natural oak comes out of the Sutcliffe Vineyards. The 2011 Viognier is perfect for the fall season and provides a similar buttery flavor to a Chardonnay. However, it's balanced with acidity and vibrant fruit flavors, which makes it perfect for pairing with many fall meals.

Jack Rabbit Hill

Those searching for a blend will enjoy the 2009 M&N. This is a blend of Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir, which makes it light enough for turkey, yet flavorful enough to pair with a steak.

Graystone Winery

An interesting port comes out of the Graystone Winery called Lippizan Pinot Gris Port. This amazing wine provides the basis for a spring cocktail, but also provides a nutty and smoky flavor perfect for fall desserts.

These are just a few of the many Colorado wines perfect for the fall season. Whether you want to enjoy wine at your next tailgate or you're looking for the perfect bottle for Thanksgiving, these choices provide something perfect for fall.

Editor's Note by Mark Aselstine: Our wine club only technically features wine from California, Oregon and the state of Washington....but we have featured international wines a few times in the past and also featured a New Mexico sparkler a couple of years back (Gruet makes some amazing stuff to be sure). I'm not someone who believes that there's something intrinsically unique about west coast vineyards, instead there's a confluence of factors that have driven the three states that we cover into the wine elite in America.  From location (for Napa and Sonoma specifically) to education (UC Davis still is the preimminent winemaker education program in the country, perhaps the world) and of course climate has something to do with it. Remove any of the three and you have a much different local wine industry.  That also menas that other states have an opportunity to gain market share as time goes by.  Colorado is one such example, especially as the industry itself seems to be interested in higher altitude wines and the affects that altitude has on what ends up in your glass.  Combine that with an influx of California residents after the real estate run up over the past decade and it's certainly possible that Colorado takes a step forward in the coming years to join the second tier of winemaking states which IMO, includes New York and Texas among others right now.

Mark Aselstine
October 20, 2014 | Mark Aselstine

The Ongoing Legacy of Robert Mondavi

Robert Mondavi is a name that brings a reaction no matter who you mention it to, for good reasons, without his work at both Krug and the winery which bears his name, Napa Valley would hardly be the same. Here's another part of his ongoing legacy, the people who grew up in the marketing departments of Mondavi and how they're continuing those good practices elsewhere.

Video Transcription:

Hey guys, Mark Aselstine with Uncorked Ventures. So over the past couple weeks I've had a couple conversations with a few different people, and it's brought to mind the legacy of Robert Mondavi and kind of the Mondavi legacy, and what that means in Napa Valley and kind of throughout the wider wine industry. You know, it started with a conversation up at Canard Vineyard, where the owner (my insert here, Rich Czapleski whose name I didn't want to mispronounce) up there was telling me that the way it used to work in the valley, if they'd get a pest, as he said - and I pretty much quote here - you'd call Bob and say, "Hey, I'm having this problem, we're not really sure what it is." And later on in the afternoon the Mondavi farmers would show up and they'd - you know, in essence - figure it out, fix it, and they'd go along their way. So it was a really nice, kind of collegiate setup in the industry.

Over the past couple days I've met Stephanie Grubbs, who's at Benessere Vineyard, which is kind of at the northern reach of Saint Helena as it turns into Calistoga. They do a range of Italian varietals that's starting with Sangiovese and then these days,  a little more Cabernet. And then Tom Samuelson who met Stephanie and worked with her at Mondavi, and now Samuelson's up in the greater Pacific Northwest working with wineries to find larger distribution models for them. 

The thing that kind of strikes me is that all the folks that I continue to meet that worked in that period at Mondavi, when they went from the small family owned to growing, growing, growing, and eventually being sold into the market itself, is that there's a real kind of sense of calmness, openness, and just really, really good marketing. You can see in large part why Mondavi was as successful as it has been.

So there's a definite legacy of Robert Mondavi. You can still feel it, even me, who, you know - I'm relatively new to the industry still; this is year four for us. You feel Mondavi and his influence to this day, even well after he's gone. For me as someone without goals of selling a million cases of wine per year, there is still plenty to be interested in as the owner of a wine club.

Once again, Mark Aselstine with Uncorked Ventures. Thanks again.

Mark Aselstine
October 19, 2014 | Mark Aselstine

What Does an Early Vintage Mean for the Wine Industry?

It should be a simple enough question, what does an early vintage mean for the wine industry? The very short answer is that you're likely to see good, not memorable wine from 2014 in California.

Video Transcription:

Hey guys, Mark Aselstine with Uncorked Ventures. One question that came up over the weekend was; "What does it mean with an earlier harvest? What does that mean for grapes? What does it mean for the Vintage in 2014 in Napa, Sonoma and kind of elsewhere in California which all ran earlier this year?"

The short answer is; wine makers would generally prefer earlier harvest especially in Napa and Sonoma where we traditionally see some rain in October. An earlier harvest means that they don't have to deal with rain, that they can let the fruit kind of hang on the vine as long as they want and they don't have to worry about it. So earlier harvest, generally speaking, leads to good vintages, sometimes not necessarily great vintages. Some of the best great vintages have hung on the vines long into October and this looks like it's going to be a very good vintage, but not necessarily a memorable or one of these vintages you write home about, thirty years from now. We pay attention to this stuff because we find that wineries, great wineries even, end up having some extra juice available for wine clubs like ourselves, if it's not a memorable vintage and if there's a large enough crop.

Once again, Mark Aselstine - Uncorked Ventures.