Uncorked Ventures Blog

Staff Writer
February 23, 2015 | Staff Writer

Sweet Pairings

When planning a dinner party everyone takes their main course into consideration when choosing what wine they will serve along with it. Whether is chicken, beef or fish there is a wine that it can be perfectly paired with.

We should take this same thought process into consideration when we make desserts. While sometimes it’s easier to serve cookies with a glass of milk or perhaps serving a slice of pie with a glass of water, to cleanse the palette of the sweet sugars each bite leave behind. We neglect the fact that dessert wines are made to be served alongside a wonderful dessert entrée.

Some people may think that pairing a dessert and a dessert wine together may have too much sugar for some of their guests. Dessert wine portions are much smaller than a regular wine of glass, so the amount that you serve will be a fraction of the amount that you would serve with any other wine. If you still have some reservations, feel free to serve the sweet wine as the dessert.

An easy way to pair a sweet wine with a dessert is to look at the wines label. Read the words that are used to describe the flavors in the wine and pair it with similar desserts. By paring these similar characteristics with a dessert, it will help to draw out the like characteristics in the wine. A general rule for dessert wine pairings is that you should match the sweetness of the dessert with the wine. The wine should still have a high enough acidity that it balances out the dessert.

There are three basic components that should be taken into consideration when paring a dessert with a sweet wine. You should look for acidity, intensity and sweetness in any dessert wine that you are interested in serving. The acidic nature of a dessert wine should be enough to give the dessert balance. The intensity of the wine should be at least equal to the intensity of the dessert. You want the wine and the dessert to complement each other rather than trying to overpower one another. Generally speaking the wine should be sweeter if not just about as sweet as the dessert. Sweet wines tend to go well with desserts that are similar in color. For example a cheesecake will pair nicely with a sweet sparkling wine. Cheesecakes are usually light in color and will match the lightness of a white sparkling wine. Lightly sweet wines pair great with fruit and vanilla desserts.

There is no right or wrong pairing with dessert wines. As long as you match the intensity of the wine to the intensity to the dish you can come up with the perfect combination. For instance, you may like the paring of apple pie with a late harvest red Zinfandel while your spouse may like the apple pie paired with a late harvest Riesling. Dessert wine parings are just like any other paring, they work based on individual preferences.

Editor: We don't do a lot of sweet wines, heck we've only shipped one in the entire lifespan of Uncorked Ventures that had any significant level of sweetness, since most of our wine of the month club members aren't interested in these wines, however I believe that there are some serious Riesling's being produced in a slightly sweet style that would fit our wine club nicely.

Staff Writer
February 22, 2015 | Staff Writer

Gifting Wine

There is always a time to celebrate. Whether it’s a holiday such as Valentine’s Day or somebody’s birthday, you can’t show up empty handed. Not that everyone expects a physical gift, sometime just the act of showing up in support is a gift enough, but let’s all be honest. It sure does feel nice when someone greets you and brings you a present.

For most occasions it’s easy to decide what to get your spouse for a gift. The hardest gift giving decisions are for those events that you get invited too, but don’t the host too well. You could always opt for a nice card and include a gift card. That’s the easy way out, but then they see exactly how much you think they are worth. Why not take an easier route?

Giving wine as a gift will always make your buying process run smoothly. The main benefit of giving a wine gift is that it’s not gender specific. Therefore it doesn’t matter if you’re going to a retirement party for a man or if you’re going to a housewarming for a woman, the option to gift wine will never fail you.

You may think that wine is a hard gift to give because you don’t know what a person’s personal preferences are. That is the farthest thing from the truth. Actually, it doesn’t matter if you know them well or not. While it does make it easier to choose a wine if you know that someone prefers red wines over whites, not knowing is still just as easy.

If you know the person well, match the wine to their tastes. Depending on the type of wines they like, whether it’s a sweet wine, red or white, choose a wine to suite their preference. If you are unsure as to what someone’s personal preference choose a white wine or a sweet wine. These wines tend to be easier to handle and have more subtle flavors than red wines.

You could also create a wine gift basket. Gift baskets are a great choice because you can include more than one wine in them, giving the receiver multiple options. They can include a red and a white wine or perhaps two different types of red or white wine. They may like one over the other, but you gave them the option to try. (Editor's Note: Our Gourmet Gift Basket tends to make almost everyone happy because of its high end packaging, as well as the included products)

If you are buying a wine for someone that you know very well and it’s for a special occasion, look for a specific vintage. Look for a wine that has the vintage year of their birthday, anniversary or any year with significance to them.

Another great option is to give the receiver a new wine to try, or even a wine club membership.

Giving wine as a gift is the easiest option. If someone has the same clever idea as you and buys the same bottle of wine, don’t feel ashamed or embarrassed. Unlike other gifts, where getting doubles can be a little unsettling, wine is the one gift that will always be welcomed for doubles, triples and so on.

Staff Writer
February 21, 2015 | Staff Writer

Wines Versatility

When we purchase a bottle of wine, we buy it with the intentions of drinking it. If not for any other reason than we just enjoy the taste of a good wine.

There are some great benefits that come along with drinking a nice glass of red wine. Drinking a glass of red wine may provide you with a few health benefits. While the best way to enjoy a bottle of wine is to drink it, there are other options that wines are good for. Red wines are full of antioxidants, which is why they are said to be the healthier wines and can provide its consumer with a few healthy advantages.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that wines can also be healthy when used on your skin (Editor: Note, Amare Stoudemire and his red wine bath put this into the news a few months ago). Most people cleanse their face using a face wash and may apply a face lotion. Although there are some that may go a little further by taking a cotton ball and using an astringent to further clean their pores. Astringent is a milder form of alcohol. Wine is filled with alcohol and will make a great astringent. The next time you cleanse your face, try substituting your regular astringent with a little wine. You would use the wine in the same manner that you would use your everyday astringent. You will be amazed at how much brighter your skin will appear. People have been doing wine facials for a long time, why spend the money on getting a facial done when you can get the same results by using a little wine and getting the same results. You could also use wine while taking a bath. Pour a little into your bath water, about a half cup to a cup, and soak in it. Don’t pour it all in. You may want to enjoy a glass while you soak. You will be surprised at how much different your skin will feel after just one wine soak. Your skin will feel baby soft.

If you have a wine that you didn’t really enjoy drinking (Editor: definitely not from one of our wine clubs) but don’t want to waste it, put it to another use. Grab some of the wine and use it to clean your food or vegetables. The acid in the wine will kill any bacteria that it comes in contact with. It can also be used to clean your kitchen because the alcohol will kill the germs.

White wine can also be used as a stain remover. If you have a stubborn stain that you haven’t been able to get rid of, try using a little white wine on it. Wine can also be frozen into ice by using an ice cube tray. Use the cubes individually when cooking or you can use them to liven up any drink.

By knowing the versatility of wine, you should never have a bottle of wine that goes to waste. Whether you drink it, soak in it or use it to clean a few good bottles of wine should always be stocked in your house.

Editor: We hope you've enjoyed the article, as always.  Please consider one of our monthly wine clubs!

Staff Writer
February 20, 2015 | Staff Writer

California Grape Regions

Grapes are what give each wine their distinct flavors.

Depending on the type of grape and where it is grown can influence the way that the wine will taste. California has over 60 types of grapes that are grown and are used for making wine. The California climate varies depending upon the region that you are in. as a result Californian wine makers have learned which type of grape varietals work for them and that will grow the best with their soil and climate.

California can be divided into at least six different regions. Each of these regions produces a different wine because of the grapes that grow best in their region based upon many factors. These regions include the North Coast, Central Coast, South Coast, San Joaquin Valley, Sacramento Valley, and the Sierra Foothills.

Counties in the North Coast of California have a rainy climate. This type of weather makes it easy to grow grape varietals such as Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon. Each county within this region is known for producing certain types of wines or specialize in a specific wines production. Pinot Noir, for instance, is grown the most in Sonoma County than in any other county in the state of California. (Editor's Note: This is also technically where Napa Valley resides....believe it or not and no, it's not as cold in the North Coast as one might expect, much of the wine is from grapes grown close to 15 miles inland)

Central Coast counties in California have climate that reflects a cool summer breeze. These counties have a cool and breezy climate. Theses counties are great for producing Chardonnay, and Rhone varietals. (Editor: Santa Barbara County is an interesting example because for every one mile you move inland, you lose one degree in temperature because largely, of the way that the on shore breeze comes in.  Additionally, for each hour of the day, you lose an additional degree of temperature.  That's one reason why Santa Barbara makes a wide ranging number of wines and quite frankly, before Sideways, had a hard time marketing themselves.  That does make SB County one great place to find a unique wine gift though)

The Southern Coast of California has a climate that fluctuates depending upon the time of day. For the most part counties in this region have warm days that are followed by cool nights. This climate makes it the perfect region to grow grape varietals. In fact, the notoriety of San Diego County goes far beyond what tourists say. Grapes have been growing in San Diego county for much longer than any of the other counties in the state of California. (Editor: Having grown up in San Diego, this is something I've heard a million times I think, that being said.....I don't buy it.  Wines I've had from SD County have been just ok and given land prices etc, they aren't any cheaper than offerings that I much prefer from Sonoma)

The San Joaquin Valley and the Sacramento Valley are sometimes pooled together and referred to as the states Inland Valleys. These regions have a Mediterranean like climate. They can easily be considered the powerhouse of the California wine regions, because almost three- quarters of the states grape varietals are produced here. (Editor's Note: Yup....lots of bulk, nameless wine.  That being said, there's a few innovative vintners trying to go for higher quality, which is something I find pretty interesting)

The Sierra Foothills has the most dramatic climate of them all. This region experiences the most versatile climate than any other region in California. The Sierra Foothills experience warm days and has breezy nights for the majority of the years. However, it also gets snow during the winter months. Even with is wavering climate, this region is home to some of the longest living grape vines. These grape vines are still working and producing grapes. (Editor's Note: If you want to talk about the real history of California wine, the Sierra Foothills deserve a mention since you can still, at times at least, find Zinfandel growing wild in the hills)

California is known as wine country because it produces wines in nearly every region possible throughout the state. It is easy to see why these vineyards are a great tourist attraction and why some of the best wines are produced here. Each region has cultivated its craft for producing exquisite wines.

As always we've hoped you've enjoyed this entry and hope you'll consider one of our award winning gift baskets which come with free shipping!

Staff Writer
February 18, 2015 | Staff Writer

When to Age a Wine

Most of us love the idea of being able to age a wine.

Knowing that we are in the midst of creating something that could be profoundly epic in our minds is worth holding onto to a bottle of wine for a decade. Being able to age a wine isn’t based solely on whether you have the correct storage unit or not. Even if you have a million dollar storage unit, if you do not have the right wine you are setting yourself up for a huge disappointment.

There are a few key factors that can help you determine any wines ability to age well. There are four characteristics that you should look for a wine. In order to determine if the wine will be able to age well you will need to examine the wines residual sugar, and the tannin structure. You should also look at the wines alcohol level and its acidity level.

In most cases a wine that has a high amount of residual sugar may not age well. There have been a few exceptions to this theory. Sherry and Riesling wines have been found to be a few of the sweet wines that will hold up to aging. More often than not, dry wines are usually aged and will have a lower amount of residual sugar.

The tannin structure is also a crucial element to wine aging. The tannin structure must be balanced within the wine in order for it to age well. Red wines with higher tannins age better than wines with low tannins. This is because the tannins act as a structural support for the wine. As these tannins break down it allows the wine to maintain a constant balance allowing all the components of the wine to blend well together. (Editor's Note, a reasonable look at the perhaps forever ongoing debate between Napa Valley and Bordeaux)

Alcohol level is also a deciding factor in wines ability to age. A high alcohol volume in a wine can prevent it from being able to age. The alcohol in wine can cause a wine to turn into vinegar over a period of time. The lower the alcohol volume the better chance the wine has at aging. (Ok, maybe we found someone who really is a Francofile. This is pretty common wisdom within the wine industry, but when people have done follow up tastings, like Robert Parker has done for the wines that competed in the original Judmgent of Paris, there's no statistical signifcance to the differences in aging between higher alcohol and lower alcohol wines)

The last factor to look for in a wine is its acidity level. Wines that age well often have a higher acidity level. Having a higher acidity level is a vital component to aging a wine because as the wine ages it loses some of its acidity. As a result of the loss of acidity the wine will often be bland and dreary. Starting out with a higher acidity level means the wine will last longer and will have a chance at maintaining its taste. These four key factors will help you to sift through wines and decided on which ones may hold up to aging. While a lot of the aging process is a matter of trial and error, it helps to have a few characteristics to look for to tip the odds in the wines favor. While these factors play a role, your storage method will also affect the aging process of a wine. (Editor: as a wine of the month club we know that about 98% of wine is consumed within 48 hours of purchase, but that being said, there are opportunities to ship some wine that people will be happy to age, at least for a while)