Uncorked Ventures Blog

Staff Writer
January 9, 2015 | Staff Writer

Food & Wine Pairings

Food and wine go together. They are meant for each other like a good marriage. No dinner is complete without a good glass of wine. Food tastes better with wines because they complement each other’s aroma, taste, and texture. A good glass of wine can bring perfection to your food. Think about the first bite of chicken you had yesterday. The first bite gave you a smell of the rich aromas, the taste of the flavors and experienced the texture of the chicken in your mouth. The second bite is also good, but it can’t be as good as the first as your mouth has already experienced the sensation the chicken provided. A drink of wine is necessary to refresh the senses of your mouth and offer it an alternative set of aromas, flavors, and sensation. (Editor's Note: When giving a wine gift taking these pairing suggestions into account makes a ton of sense, especially as we're still in the time period of holiday parties and host/hostess gifts)

Matching food with fine is a matter of personal taste. The easy way, to match a wine with food, is to think of wine as a sauce and match it to the strength and flavors of the dish to the wine. Here are some tips that you can follow to achieve the perfect combination of food and wine.

• Pair spicy food with wines that include residual sugars. For example, try German Riesling with spicy food as the sugar cools down the spice.

• It is a good idea to pair char –grilled foods with wines that have been aged in oak. The intensity of the oaked wine can be tamed by charred or grilled food and can bring out the fruit flavors of the wine instead.

• Pair foods with wines that have similar or complementary flavors and textures. For example, mildly flavored wines match with mildly flavored foods while the big and flavored foods are combined with flavored wines.

• Combine fried foods with wines that are high in acid. The acid in the wine creates a balance between the fried / fatty food and the wine.

• Pair sweet wines with salty food

• Deserts can be combined with sweet wines that are as sweet as them.

• Pair wine with the foods that come from the same ethnicity and background. For example Spanish food and Spanish wine. For more help here are some of our favorite classic food and wine pairings:

• Champagne and caviar

• Chablis wine goes well with oysters

• Red burgundy wine and roast beef

• Red Bordeaux wine and lamb

• Chinese food and piniot noir

• Smoked cheese with Shiraz(Editor's Note: our writers gives away his background here, other than Australia and some parts of SouthEast Asia....it's Syrah to everyone) 

• Pizza with Dolcetto

• Choose chardonnay with fatty fish

• Artichokes, eggs, spinach, fennel, and horseradish are some of the foods that are impossible to match with the right wine. For example, horseradish spoils the flavor of a wine, so it’s a good idea to limit the amount of wine with these particular foods. People enjoy and appreciate their dinner when the food and wine both are good. So you should try these tips and combinations in your next party.

Staff Writer
January 8, 2015 | Staff Writer

Ніstоrу оf Саlіfоrnіа Wіnе

Тhе оrіgіn оf wіnе рrоduсtіоn іn Саlіfоrnіа саn bе trасеd bасk tо thе 18th Сеnturу. Тhе Ѕраnіsh mіssіоnаrіеs оf thе dау рlаntеd vіnеуаrds аnd рrоduсеd wіnеs fоr usе аt rеlіgіоus sасrаmеnt.

Тhе Саlіfоrnіа Gоld Rush оf thе mіddlе 19th Сеnturу brоught mаnу nеw sеttlеrs tо thе rеgіоn, саusіng thе dеmаnd fоr wіnе tо іnсrеаsе. Маnу nеw vіnеуаrds wеrе рlаntеd аnd wіnеrіеs buіlt tо ассоmmоdаtе thіs dеmаnd.

Тhе lаtе 1800's sаw thе реst еріdеmісs dеstrоу еntіrе vіnеуаrds аnd wіре оut mаnу оf thе smаllеr wіnеrіеs.

Тhе еаrlу 20th Сеnturу brоught уеt аnоthеr hurdlе fоr Саlіfоrnіа wіnе...Рrоhіbіtіоn. Durіng Рrоhіbіtіоn thе mаnufасturе, trаnsроrtаtіоn аnd sаlе оf аlсоhоl wаs соnsіdеrеd іllеgаl. As а rеsult, vіnеуаrds wеrе uрrооtеd аnd wіnе сеllаrs wеrе dеstrоуеd. Ѕоmе wіnеrіеs survіvеd bесаusе thеу wеrе реrmіttеd tо соntіnuе ореrаtіng аs nоn-аlсоhоlіс grаре јuісе соmраnіеs.

Іn 1933 thе 21st Amеndmеnt rереаlеd thе 18th Amеndmеnt's аlсоhоl bаn аnd Саlіfоrnіа wіnе bеgаn іts сlіmb оut оf thе рrоvеrbіаl сеllаr.

Fоr уеаrs, Саlіfоrnіа wіnеs wеrе thоught tо bе іnfеrіоr іmіtаtіоns оf thеіr Frеnсh соuntеrраrts. Тhаt wаs untіl Мау 24, 1976 аnd thе Јudgmеnt оf Раrіs wіnе соmреtіtіоn. Frеnсh јudgеs wеrе аskеd tо реrfоrm а blіnd tеst оf wіnеs frоm Frаnсе аnd Саlіfоrnіа. Whеn thе rеsults wеrе іn, Саlіfоrnіа wіnеs tооk fіrst рlасе іn bоth thе whіtе аnd rеd саtеgоrіеs. Тhе rеsults wеrе rероrtеd bу Тіmе mаgаzіnе аnd thе реrсерtіоn оf Саlіfоrnіа wіnе wаs сhаngеd fоrеvеr.

Мајоr Саlіfоrnіа Wіnе Rеgіоns Тоdау, Саlіfоrnіа іs оnе оf thе wоrld's lаrgеst wіnе рrоduсеrs wіth оvеr 1,200 wіnеrіеs. Тhеsе wіnеrіеs fаll іntо fоur mајоr wіnе rеgіоns: Сеntrаl Соаst, Сеntrаl Vаllеу, Νоrth Соаst аnd Ѕоuth Соаst.

Тhе Сеntrаl Соаst AVA (Amеrісаn Vіtісulturаl Arеа) іs lосаtеd аlоng thе Расіfіс Соаst оf Саlіfоrnіа frоm thе Ѕаn Frаnсіsсо Вау аrеа dоwn tо Ѕаntа Ваrbаrа Соuntу. Тhе Сеntrаl Соаst rеgіоn іs mаdе uр оf sіх соuntіеs whісh аll quаlіfу аs thеіr оwn AVA. Тhеsе соuntіеs аrе Соntrа Соstа, Моntеrеу, Ѕаn Luіs Оbіsро, Ѕаntа Ваrbаrа, Ѕаntа Сlаrа аnd Ѕаntа Сruz. Сhаrdоnnау mаkеs uр оvеr hаlf оf thе rеgіоn's 100,000 асrеs. Тhе Сеntrаl Vаllеу іs thе lаrgеst wіnе rеgіоn іn Саlіfоrnіа. Іt strеtсhеs оvеr 300 mіlеs frоm thе Ѕасrаmеntо Vаllеу tо thе Ѕаn Јоаquіn Vаllеу. Тhіs rеgіоn іs mаdе uр оf Саlіfоrnіа's Сеntrаl Vаllеу аnd thе Ѕіеrrа Fооthіlls AVA аnd рrоduсеs rоughlу 75% оf аll Саlіfоrnіа wіnе.

Тhе Νоrth Соаst rеgіоn іs lосаtеd аlоng thе nоrthеrn соаst оf Саlіfоrnіа аbоvе thе Ѕаn Frаnсіsсо Вау. Тhіs lаrgе rеgіоn соntаіns twо оf thе mоst fаmоus аnd vіsіtеd wіnе rеgіоns іn thе Unіtеd Ѕtаtеs: Νара Vаllеу аnd Ѕоnоmа Соuntу. Νара Vаllеу іs а wоrld fаmоus wіnе аrеа аnd hоmе tо numеrоus аwаrd wіnnіng wіnеrіеs. Сhаtеаu Моntеlеnа аnd Ѕtаg's Lеар Wіnе Сеllаr thе wіnеrіеs whо wоn thе whіtе аnd rеd саtеgоrіеs оf thе 1976 Јudgmеnt оf Раrіs аrе bоth lосаtеd hеrе. Тhе Ѕоuth Соаst rеgіоn runs аlоng thе Расіfіс соаst frоm thе sоuthеrn еnd оf Lоs Angеlеs tо thе Мехісаn bоrdеr. Тhеrе аrе sоmе nоtаblе wіnе rеgіоns hеrе suсh аs: Antеlоре Vаllеу/Lеоnа Vаllеу AVA, Rаmоnа Vаllеу AVA, Ѕаn Раsquаl Vаllеу AVA аnd Теmесulа Vаllеу AVA.

Staff Writer
January 6, 2015 | Staff Writer

How to Buy Wine for a Gift

How to Buy Wine for a Gift

Relaxing with good friends and exquisite wine - it seems only fitting to experience life this way. Who has no friends who love wine? Giving (and receiving) the gift of wine is a special thrill.

On the other hand, you have a few decisions to make. After all, wine is personal, like clothing, jewelry or music. The great thing about this: your gift can be both unique and genuinely appreciated. If the recipient is family or a close friend, choosing is much easier. You may already know what they want (Editor's Note, or simply like, such as anything from Napa Valley or Paso Robles).

However, some worry that others, especially their boss, coworkers or business clients may not like their choice. In any case, you may have a number of questions.

What kind of wine should I buy - red, white or sparkling?

Should it be foreign or domestic?

How much should I spend?

First of all, think of the occasion. Wedding gifts are usually more elaborate than hostess gifts. A variety of bottles helps a new couple start building their collection (Editor's Note: we see newlywed gift message often come across in our wine clubs because they show up every month and do exactly as has been described).

If you are giving wine as a business gift, a Chardonnay or Merlot pleases most people. You might even want to include personalized wrapping or labels. Dinner parties seldom require the most expensive or exotic. You have a number of choices in the $20 to $50 range to wow your friends. What is your budget? You probably know that wines can be anywhere from a few to several thousand dollars. Chances are, unless your friend is the most finicky oenophile, they may not appreciate a gift that costs thousands. Unless you are making a statement or have too much cash, avoid overspending.

Will foreign or domestic be better? If you are in France at a French restaurant, by all means, go ahead and get the French bubbly. Oui! Otherwise, domestic wines are a great option. You and your friends will appreciate you are supporting local business. Not only that, domestic wines these days stand up to and often exceed foreign wines for quality.

Which varietal is best? Some of your friends may prefer a buttery Chardonnay. If you don't know what your friends like, keep the following in mind. Even if it is a hundred degrees outside, three fourths of American wine drinkers at a party will ask for red. If you are outside, go for a lighter red, such as a Pinot noir or Merlot (Editor's Note: everyone continues to disregard Grenache and that's a shame).

Are you sitting around the fireplace in the middle of winter? Bolder wines can warm your soul. Where should you get the wine? Physical stores get you a bottle of wine quickly. Nonetheless, if you desire higher end enjoyment, online sources are a far better option.

Internet retailers are definitely not all the same. Some offer gift baskets with low-cost afterthoughts. Only with careful shopping, can you find exceptionally paired cheeses, chocolates and spreads. Even fewer still are obsessed with hand-sourcing wines from local vineyards. If you are looking for a truly one of a kind offering - one that will convince your loved ones and special friends that you are amazing - find the best online retailer and send their wine club membership as a gift.

Choosing wine should be simple. When it comes to enjoying wine, it is truly all about the experience. Get the experience right and everyone will enjoy the wine. Unless, of course the wine is awful - and that is just not going to happen with what you have learned here!

Mark Aselstine
January 5, 2015 | Mark Aselstine

How We Taste Wine, Winemaker Testing

Before I forget, Happy January...the grind begins again.

Hey, guys. Mark Aselstine with Uncorked Ventures.

First, a happy January to everyone as we start to get back into normal business. As I'm sure, everybody's finally back to work. At least it seems that way in the Bay area. Most of the folks that we know are off for the entire region around the holidays. One of the questions that's come up a few times over the last week or two is, how do we taste wine and how is that different than both our wine club competitors but then also as consumers?

These, I think, are a pretty good example.

One thing that we like to do that I think is an opportunity if you work in the wine industry that you don't necessarily have as a consumer. I always like to say, "What does a winemaker like to do?" We have these super star winemakers, Phillipe Melka, Michel Rolland from France, who is maybe more of a consultant than a winemaker at this point. These guys who, if you drink wine [inaudible 00:00:47], in essence have become household names.

One of the things I like to try to figure out out is, "What are they doing that's just a little bit different than the competitors?" While you can make these broad generalizations about these folks, I think the only way to really tell is to be able to drink stuff that is made from the same vineyard and the same vintage and then try two different winemakers to see what the output is and how it's different. I think I have a good example here.

We talked a little bit about Lennox Vineyards a few days ago, and I love Mike to death, and Mike makes some good juice from, what in essence is a back yard vineyard. He just happens to live in Sebastopol which is in Sonoma, in western Sonoma County, and it's a really good place to grow grapes. Envolve Winery may be a household name, and at this point. It may not. If you ever watch the Bachelor TV show, this is the juice. If you look at the bottom there, you will see the Lennox Vineyard insignia. In essence you have a really professional trained winemaker, professional enough to even get a reality show out of it, and then a guy who has taken a few classes at Davis and makes some good juice of his own. I think that you can really tell where the finesse comes in and in essence, the the big difference between these two bottles. Envolve you get a little bit more acidity. The wine is truly, a little bit cleaner. It's a little bit lighter on your pallet and you can really see what they're going for with the Pinot Noir.

I think that one really interesting way to drink wine. Especially when you get into Napa and you start having larger vineyards, or especially when you start traveling up Atlas Peak and you see the folks at VinRoc, or Dos Lagos is another great example where they have quite a famous winemaker making their wine in Bob Foley. You can see what folks are going for as winemakers versus what kind of other people who might not be as famous, or is kind of [flowned 00:02:41] out in the profession end up going for.

Once again, Mark Aselstine with Uncorked Ventures. Lennox Vineyards, it's a good example of how do we taste wine that's different than other folks? As consumers, how can we do this and enjoy it? This is an interesting point to make. It's something we like to do with friends and family is opening two bottles, same vineyard, same vintage and saying, "Hey, what do you like better?" You're kind of surprised at the results sometimes.

I hope everybody had a nice holiday season, and I will be returning emails, phone calls and everything else here in the next 24 to 48 hours, as quickly as we can. Thanks again. Have a good one.

Mark Aselstine
December 29, 2014 | Mark Aselstine

Through the Holidays & The 10's

We'll have a more complete-what's coming up post early in the new year.

Hey guys, Mark Aselstine with Uncorked Ventures.

We've been pretty quiet over the last few weeks as far as on the video blog front and that's in large part, like most retailers, we're just desperately trying to get shipments out as fast as possible. I think we hit most of the deadlines this year, wine club shipments definitely pretty much on the ball. Gift baskets for the most part got at as well. Those are a little bit more of a challenge because they take a little bit extra time and there's kind of some inventory control issues that come into play. I don't mind sharing that but in essence we've gotten rid of the backlog of orders and we're happy to be moving on to a regular schedule.

First if you're watching this and you received a gift from someone, we do do a large percentage of wine club gifts over the holidays. Your January shipments will probably go out around the 10th or so. I tell a lot of people that I grew up with my parents owning an ice cream shop in San Diego and I hated the fact that they had to watch the weather so often and now I have to watch the weather for the entire country. While we can't predict more than a few days out at least it does look like the early January weather should be fine so we'll be getting out wine club shipments both for our regular monthly wine club members as well as gift recipients in early January.

Also this is the time of year when you hear about New Year's resolutions, we certainly make those in my house too although maybe I don't take it as seriously as others. You tend to do that at work too in a lot of places and it's a good time to kind of reflect what you're doing and try to set up a new range of offerings for folks. For us you're going to see a few different things this year. First and foremost you will finally see a new range of gift baskets. More excited about those and those will start rolling out kind of at the end of January or early February. Second, I'm joined today by a, as you can see this is a 375 milliliter bottle which is a half bottle of wine and you can see absolutely no markings. This was a barrel sample. We've been doing a little bit of this, we do it for work and for try to get an idea of where vintners and wine makers are going. But this was a little bit more specific. For our four years in business we've long kind of struggled with the fact that many of our competitors offer discounts and more severe discounts on reorders than we do. From our part at Uncorked Ventures we haven't been comfortable offering huge discounts on reorders because quite honestly it pisses winers off. A lot of the folks that we work with flat out wouldn't work with us if had to do that. We've kind of had to go about it a different way and we've said we want to provide some extra value to wine club members but how can we do that? We're going to have a range of wines, I believe they're going to be called The 10's and there will be a very good reason for that. Ten dollars a bottle add a tier on club shipment for free shipping and I think that's going to be an exciting thing. It's something that we're working with wine makers on currently, it's something that I'm going to continue to work with them on as time goes by. I hope it's a way that we can both grow our wine club base but then also offer something as a ... You know, we all go to Trader Joe's, we all go to Safeway, Ralph's, whatever, Kroeger, whatever you call your local grocery store and buy Tuesday wines. We're hopeful that we can add a range of Tuesday wines to the site without killing everybody on shipping charges. You can look for that with us here in the New Year, it's going to be called The 10's. We may roll out with just two or three wine examples in that range but hopefully over the course of the year that we'll be able to source more and more different stuff that's interesting and quite frankly we'll be doing at break even. But it's something that I think our customers deserve and I think it's something that they want and I think it's a good value added feature. I hope you'll look for that in the new year.

Once again Marked Aselstine with Uncorked Ventures. If you have questions, concerns about an order please don't hesitate. Call us, email us we'll get back to you as soon as we can. Thanks again.