Uncorked Ventures Blog

Julia Austin
 
October 29, 2014 | Julia Austin

Decoding the Wine Aisle at the Grocery Store

The wine aisle of a grocery store can be an overwhelming place, and there isn’t a sommelier on site to help you decode it. But, you go because that’s where you have a club card and you get amazing savings. You can walk away with as good of a bottle as you would’ve gotten at a boutique wine shop, if you know how to read the aisles.

Write off big wines

If it comes in a box or a giant jug or bottle write it off. These tend to be mass-produced. That’s not to say all big or boxed wines are bad, but just know that almost all fine wine labels never put their wine in boxes or big bottles. So why take the risk? How to choose a year Supermarkets will often have bright tags on certain bottles, to indicate it’s a particularly good year. Sometimes that’s true, sometimes the store needs to unload that wine because it’s actually about to turn bad.

So know these tips:

When picking domestic light white wines and rosé, pick the most recent year of release.

Heavy white wines like Chardonnay are best within the first three years of their release. After that, they might lose the acidity that gives them their particular flavor.

Whites from cold regions contain an acidity that keep them good for many years, so it’s safe to buy these from most years. The scores and awards Supermarkets will usually put tickets in front of bottles that have won some sort of award in that year. The jury is still out on whether or not the 100 points scale is useful, (Editor's note, we only ship wines that have either been rated at 90 points or above, or that we consider of equivalent quality since wine ratings are generally only available to wines with larger distribution than what we ship) but what is useful is knowing the reviewer who gave the award. If you have your phone on you at the store, and are interested in a bottle, look up the reviewer who gave it the award and read a bit about what types of wines they like. If their palate sounds similar to yours, you’ll probably like the wine they gave an award to.

Go out of your comfort zone

Stores know they can up the price on wines people are very familiar with, so if you want to save money, be willing to try wines you’ve never heard of before. Beaujolais and Pinot Noirs are your savior. These are very versatile wines that pair will with most foods, and even the inexpensive ones can have a great, concentrated flavor.

Find the wine buyer If you can, track down the wine purchaser for that grocery store. Almost all stores have someone who is in charge of all the wine purchases—they’ll be the most helpful to you out of all the staff.

Julia Austin
 
October 28, 2014 | Julia Austin

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.

Benjamin Ehinger
 
October 22, 2014 | Benjamin Ehinger

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.



 

Benjamin Ehinger
 
October 21, 2014 | Benjamin Ehinger

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.