Uncorked Ventures Blog

Staff Writer
November 5, 2014 | Staff Writer

8 Things Someone Pretending to Know About Wine Will Say

Does your date actually know about wine or did he just peruse one wine magazine and stash some key words in his memory, to try to impress you? Hey—it’s okay if he knows nothing about wine! (Well, sort of) It’s not okay if he’s a liar! Here are things someone who is only pretending to know about wine will say.

If it has a screw cap, screw it

If your date wants to show off his arm muscles by dramatically twisting a corkscrew, fine. But don’t let him tell you that wines with a screw cap are cheap. Some very good labels now make screw cap bottles, and not to mention machines that screw on screw caps are pricey. The older the wine, the better The same person who tells you screw cap wines are cheap probably believes the older the wine, the better. Which is also incorrect. Some types of wines taste best within the year they’re bottled, some taste best within the first three years and some only get better with age. But it really depends on specifics like the type of wine, and the region it came from. (Editor's note: My take on corks vs screw caps can be summed up by saying, there's plenty of room for both)

Longer legs means better wine

Anyone who has ever watched the Food Network for two seconds has heard somebody talk about the legs on the wine. Essentially, these are the lines of wine that stick to the sides of the glass after swirling it, and trickle down. The amateur will tell you that longer legs means a better wine, but what the long legs actually mean is a higher alcohol content. And someone who actually knows about wine knows that there is really no correlation between how good a wine is and how much alcohol is in it. So unless of course your date is just trying to get you drunk (in which case, a long-legged wine is good for their purposes!) they’re incorrect about this.

White wine should be chilled

Actually, there’s a reason some white wines are served in stemless glasses—so that your hands will warm it and bring out the flavors. Some white wines lose their flavor when chilled, or become too acidic in flavor.

You can only drink red wine with steak

Oh look—they know how to match their colors (Editor's note: Julia seems like a tough date). But red meat doesn’t only call for red wine. While you’ll often pair steak with red wine, a Riesling actually goes great with a steak. So long as the steak isn’t covered in a heavy sauce, the lightness of the wine combined with the intense flavor pairs with a heavy piece of meat very well.

Wine should be served at room temperature

A) There are different temperatures for every type of wine but B) Does the individual even know what room temperature means? What if the room has been blasted with air conditioning all day? Or it’s a hot day, the AC is broken, and the room is basically a sauna? Leaving a bottle out of the fridge or cabinet does not guarantee it gets to “room temperature.” You should aerate the wine as long as possible Actually leaving wine out to breathe for too long can give it a vinegary aroma and flavor. You should only expose wine to the air for 25 to 30 minutes to get the positive effects of aeration.

Champagne doesn’t age

If that is true, then how come some bottles of champagne that are discovered to be hundreds of years old are being sold for thousands of dollars? (Editor's Note: While aged wine like this does make a great and unique wine gift, these are mostly ego purchases for collectors who have no intention to ever drink the wine itself. Reminds me a bit of the winery which keeps a bottle from their first vintage for people to see in the tasting room like Red Car in Sonoma)

Mark Aselstine
November 4, 2014 | Mark Aselstine

500 Wineries for Sale in America?

The sale of wineries is more of a real estate transcation than it is a sale of a business (that's one spot where my wine of the month club and the wineries I speak with every day tend to differ dramatically).  It's interesting because it's one of the few spots where the average consumer can get some idea about why the price of wine, is as high as it happens to be.

Hi, guys. Mark Aselstine with Uncorked Ventures.

Wines & Vines had a interesting article today that 10% of all the winery owners that they've surveyed over the last few months - about 5,000 in total which is a huge number in the United States, at least two-thirds of all active commercial wineries were surveyed - 10% of those guys said that they would consider selling their winery in the next five years.

As you might expect, it's a huge number. We'd expect about 1 to 2% to sell over the same term. The one thing that I did want to caution everybody because this is going to be something that gets a little bit of play in the mainstream press, most winery sales aren't sales of a winery asset or brand asset. They're actually sales of real estate, so you can look at it as far as real estate prices. A good example is real estate in Napa Valley. A vineyard in Napa Valley will run you about $500,000 per acre because there's a few things going on. First, the Ag Preserve says that you have to have ten acres to be able to build a working winery on site so anything under ten is worth not nothing but approaching nothing in comparison. Over ten there's a limited number of spots available. Anyway, you'll see that in the press. I think CNN's starting to cover some of this kind of stuff. The business of wine, it's an trying one, but when you see that 10% of all wineries are for sale, the short answer is kind of, not really. It's also something to remember the next time we all complain about why the wine gift we wanted to give from Napa, costs so darn much.

Mark Aselstine
November 3, 2014 | Mark Aselstine

Veteran’s Spirit Gallant Few Proprietary Red Blend

Veterans' Proprietary Red WineI don’t like to have to talk about how stuff like this shows up in my email every so often, but a few weeks back I was approached by the folks behind Veteran’s Spirit to help with distribution of their new Proprietary Red Blend. Usually these wines suck, no matter how good the attached story.

The story here is that the company gives $1 per bottle sold back to veteran’s groups that help service members when they return home. Having grown up in San Diego, perhaps the quintessential military town, it didn’t come as a surprise that Marines get a 6 week boot camp and then any additional number of training units before deploying even in the worst of circumstances, but receive only a week of part time help to get acclimated to civilian life.

While I didn’t serve myself, I think we can all agree, that seems like it leaves a gaping hole for NGO’s to fill. Veteran’s Spirit works with some of the best around to do just that and it is a project that we were happy to support. Oh and I would have never included in your wine club, if I hadn’t felt that the quality was pretty incredible as well.

Here’s the back story and why I’ll continue to be involved, the Foundry is a winery and custom crush facility originally from Napa Valley and more recently relocated to Sonoma (cheaper, more industrial space etc) that’s behind this wine. I’ve been a pretty big proponent of their high end Cabernet’s, especially those from mountain growing regions, largely because winemaker Patrick Saboe (who learned the trade at venable names like Hanzell & Pezzi King) who is able to capture a mixture of fruit and acidity that pleases everyone who opens a bottle. What’s important to note here is that the guys behind the Foundry feel as strongly about this project as anyone and in essence what happened, was a collection of a bunch of extra barrels, most of which come from wine in price points significantly higher than this one. The wine was combined for a blend that’s pleasing to the palate, wallet and our better nature’s.

Staff Writer
November 3, 2014 | Staff Writer

The Best Wines to Drink with Pumpkin Treats

With Thanksgiving and Christmas within our sites, and not to mention the market shelves filled with pumpkin-flavored treats and your free will to eat said treats because you’re an adult—damnit…! Okay, we got ahead of ourselves there thinking about pastries. But as we were saying, you need a good wine to enjoy all those pumpkin goodies with this fall and winter. And here are the wines for the job.

Innocent Bystander Pink Moscato

This refreshing wine with its bright pink grapefruit and mandarin offset some of the richer flavors of pumpkin desserts, but it also has notes of cotton candy and toffee apple, which pick up some of the nuttiness of pumpkin pie.

Chateau Des Charmes Late Harvest Riesling Niagara Peninsula, Ontario

This is a nice crisp Riesling that you can drink several glasses of (which you’ll need because you want to try every dessert at the enormous dessert table—duh) without getting tired of it. The wine has notes of peach and nectarine, so it’s fruity but light and great for heavy or cream-based pumpkin desserts.

Inniskillin’s Sparkling Icewine

All you want to do is leave room for dessert after a big holiday meal, and it also happens to be one of the most challenging things to do. At least you can save a little room by sticking to this refreshing, bubbly wine. The bubbles actually aid digestion—something you could probably use a little help with at this time.

Andrew Quady Essensia, California

Let’s say what everyone is thinking right off the bat: it doesn’t hurt that this wine has 15% ABV since where there is pumpkin pie there are often insufferable in-laws, relatives and unwanted guests. But, this wine boasts much more than booze. It’s made from the orange muscat grape, so it has all the aromas you’d want of fall like orange blossom, pear, honey and apricot. It’s great if you’re having a pumpkin pie that has a lot of spices.

Pedro Ximénez Sherry

If you want a rich, full wine to eclipse your pie, this is it. Often made with raisins, this port wine is quite sweet, but the sweetness is slightly cut by the 15% to 17% alcohol content.

Château Lamothe Guignard

This sweet white wine is part of the Bordeaux family. It has strong notes of honey, as well as some ripe, sweet orange and slightly bitter marmalade—perfect for a zesty but sweet pumpkin dessert. Charles Thomas Pouilly-Fuisse This is a truly complimentary wine for pumpkin pie, with notes of baked apple and cinnamon—the flavors of fall. But because it’s a Chardonnay, it also has a crisp acidity that works well to temper a rich dessert.

Mark Aselstine
November 2, 2014 | Mark Aselstine

Kasauri Petite Sirah Napa Valley

About Kasuari: If there was ever a stealth and unknown label coming out of Napa Valley, this is it.

Kasuari is a relatively new project from winemaker Michael Peters, who spends his days helping to craft the critically acclaimed Sonoma wines of Quivira. Sourced from an area of Napa Valley called “The Terraces” this is an interesting Petite Sirah, perhaps more unique than I believe the major wine critics to believe.

I’ve run into Terraces abbreviations before and while there is a winery that uses the name as part of their nomenclature, when winemakers refer to the Terraces, they aren’t referring to a single vineyard and certainly not the entry level price point driven winery that is using the name these days. Instead, they’re referring to the hillsides on the eastern edges of Napa Valley, as wineries and vineyard sites off the Silverado Trail begin to climb into the foothills.

It’s an interesting region and one that didn’t come to the forefront of Napa Valley until the early 90’s when names like Signorello Estate & Darioush started espousing the virtues of Napa Valley grapes, grown with at least a bit of altitude. After all, not everyone was going to be able to find space on the valley floor and some of these vineyards were significantly older than what’s down there anyway, many planted in the 60’s, or even before.

For Petite Sirah when vine age is often capped at 25 years or so elsewhere in California, growers are risking yields anywhere past that point, in the old world they’ll often let a vine continue to be in ground until it goes 2 vintages without a harvest. In Napa though, other than Corison, I’ve never heard of another winery with a similar setup...especially when it comes to Petite Sirah which generally confuses consumers.

Even at our higher end wine club levels, have you ever bought a Petite Sirah at a wine store without prodding? Most of the other old Petite Sirah vineyards were long ago grafted onto Cabernet. For that reason alone, this is an interesting wine, to me at least. It’s also interesting because at 25 Brix, it’s about twice the sugar content as regular grape juice that my 3 year would enjoy drinking, alcohol content rises along with it of course.

Overall, it’s a good wine and a more complete and dense varietally specific Petite Sirah than others that I’ve run into of late.