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What is Cabernet Sauvignon

Being hundreds of years old, Cabernet Sauvignon is a very popular wine that originated in the Bordeaux, France, in the 17th century. It is now found in nearly all major wine countries in the world. You have probably even drank it at some point in your life. It has been grown in a variety of climates, favorably hot, being that it is internationally recognized through its prominence in being a premier Bordeaux wine.

Being hundreds of years old, the grape is of relatively new variety. It is a full-bodied wine with high tannins and high acidity, but because of its amazing ageing ability, it gets better as time goes on. Starting as a French wine, it spread across Europe and eventually to the new world. Many attributes have allowed for this wine to gain significant popularity. First and foremost for its ease of cultivation, having thick skin and being naturally very low yielding, all have allowed this wine to be mass produced. Usually mixed with Merlot and Cabernet Franc to allow for richer flavor.

A wine that is able to age has the ability to get richer in taste as time goes on. Well, this wine has been known for its outstanding ability to age, giving it a powerful reputation in France as a premier wine. As it ages, there can be many new flavors and aromas that emerge. Ageing that can continue for several decades long is what makes a wine like this special and unique. California’s Napa Valley is a place that has built its reputation on this wine. Producing it with higher alcohol levels and ageing it remarkably well.

If you go to Italy though, than you will usually find this wine in something called the “Super Tuscan”, a famous blend that is found in the Italian district. Having a variety of food pairings, because of its amazing ageing ability. Cabernet Sauvignon has shown to have the best pairing with not-so-light dishes. Probably caused by its high tannin content, it has the ability to overwhelm light and delicate dishes. Red meat is usually the number 1 on the list of food pairings with the wine, with it being so famous for its ability to bring out the fruity flavor of the wine. In the end, this wine has been extremely popular for its effect on many wine makers. Many producers have become famous, because of their use of the wine. Noticeably the Bulgarian wine industry, which introduced this wine to the international wine market. Making not only Cabernet Sauvignon famous, but driving its own industry to success. Since then, it has made its way over too countless countries around the world, been changed and adjusted in different ways, and is probably the most prominent wine in the 20th century. Even though it was overtaken by merlot, in the late 20th century, it still is one of the world most prominent wines. I would still consider this wine as being one of the top 5 wines out there in the world today.

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A Gift For Your Boss

Quick, you forgot to get the boss a gift for his birthday, and the party starts in 30 minutes. You know it’s important that you were invited, and when it gets right down to it, he’s been really good to you. He deserves something special; You didn’t need that extra time off, but he was more than happy to grant it to you, with a smile and a wave. He definitely deserves a good thank you, if not for that, then for the gracious invite! It might be time to bring in the wine gifts. You may have no idea if you gift recipient enjoys a delicious bottle of wine. However, the gift of wine does so much more than just please the receiver; it allows him to also give to others. Rarely is a bottle of wine enjoyed alone. Remember, you’re not just giving the gift of wine; you’re giving the gift of shared experiences, laughter, grand stories told, and more, all from a single bottle of wine. Now, you may have never given the gift of wine before. You may even be clueless when it comes to wine! “The only differences between Reds and Whites are the colors, of course”, you think to yourself as you wander aimlessly up and down the aisles and your nearby wine retailer. You may find yourself struggling to remember what seem like endless lists of rules attached to the drinking of wines. “Do whites go with red meats? Perhaps the other way around?” It’s very easy to become overwhelmed, especially if you find yourself with a limited amount of time to research and look into the wonderful world of wine. Thankfully, the staff at many shops are more than happy to assist in making a more informed decision. To make your task even easier, you may find that they offer the possibility of creating a wine gift basket for you, as a way to avoid having to choose one particular blend or brand over another. Perhaps you want something a little more grand, something that will really ensure that people know you thought ahead, and you truly care. One of the greatest trends in wine culture is membership in a wine of the month club. In a wine of the month club, the recipient will receive a different bottle of wine each and every month for a specified version of time. This may be ideal for your gift idea, as it allows you to give the gift that keeps on giving, and some even have the option of allowing the recipient to choose what he or she wants to receive each month. These are only a few ideas for giving a wine gift to someone you know or care about. It’s important to remember to ask for help when choosing or trying to determine what a person may like. Those who work in wine shops have a passion for wine, and have endless amounts of knowledge on the subject. Use them! And remember, relax: Wine gifts are the best gifts!

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Your Next Birthday Gift

If you are wondering what to give someone for the next major holiday, or for their next birthday, a membership in a wine of the month club can be a thoughtful idea. Even if you just choose a three-month or even a six-month option, instead of a full year, you will be giving this person a surprise that will show up out of the blue. For oenophiles, this can be the ideal gift. Imagine getting home from work and finding a new chardonnay, malbec, or an exciting blend that you have not tried before – but have read and heard about. This sort of gift will endear you to the person who you gave it to for months. If you don’t want to sign up a friend or relative for a club, there are other wine gifts that you can consider. Do they have a favorite chenin blanc or sparkling wine? Many varieties, such as Nicholas Feuillate, are available with a metal gift cylinder or box that makes a fabulous presentation. Instead of buying a pair of gloves or a pewter ashtray that will probably be regifted, if not outright sold at a garage sale, think back to that last party you went to with them, and think about what they were drinking. If they were raving about how much they love pinot grigio, drive out to a local vineyard and find out what they recommend for a pinot aficionado. If it’s not in the right part of the country, in terms of climate, pinot grigio may not be available, but it’s likely that the vintner will have a blend to recommend for you. Then, just get a gift box for your wine and take it along to the party. If you don’t have time to shop yourself, or still want to have the joy of a surprise delivery for your friend or relative, there is also the possibility of sending wine gift baskets as a present. This is fun, because there are so many different shapes, sizes and options that you can work with. If your friend loves red wine and chocolate, then there are many baskets that will include a pinot noir, a merlot, and several boxes of Godiva or other chocolatiers. Don’t be restricted by red wine, though – there are companies that will deliver wine baskets with just about every type of wine, and with a wide variety of snacks or other accouterments that will go along in the basket. Wrapped neatly in cellophane and festooned with bright ribbons or other décor, these baskets are a great gift idea. With wine gift baskets, you’ll want to be sure that your friend or relative lives in a state where shipping wine is legal. You’re in good shape throughout most of the country, but there are still some states where shipping alcohol across state lines is not legal. If you’re using a wine gift basket retailer, they will let you know the states you can ship to. If you’re making your own gift basket to send, though, make sure it won’t get confiscated – and your friends won’t get in trouble.

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History of Wine

Wines have a rich history which spans several millennia. Their history is rich and passionate as they are associated with joy, prosperity and fertility. The legends of the ancient Greece have numerous references to wines and their effects, and the Greek mythology has ensured that a God called Dionis is protecting the wine production. Greek Gods lost their power, but, as empires went up and down around the Mediterranean sea, the vineyards have hold their ground and further expanded helped first by the Romans, and further by many others. Gods and mortals, rich and poor, young and old all have been charmed by the taste and perfume of one wine or another. Years have passed and, in recent history, France has pushed wine production to the next level.

For the French, wine became close to an art, with dedicated exhibitions, specialized taster experts, complex wine classifications, a myriad of wine types and an uncountable number of wine collections. The role of the wine itself has also diversified, and now the wine can be an appetizer, a dessert, or it can simply go together with the main entree. As its social role has been steadily improving, wine has obtained a new identity as a social gift. Wine gifts are increasingly more common nowadays. While a single bottle of wine is often the norm, selecting such a bottle poses multiple challenges. Not only the one who buys the wine must be an expert, but one must also anticipate the preference of the wine gift receiver. To avoid disappointment, a lucrative option is to offer wine gift baskets instead. These baskets may include a variety of wines, hence they would likely include several options that match the taste of the gift receiver. In this context, it is important to observe that more and more people prefer to broaden their knowledge about wines. While this can often be done independently, through self study and experimentation, this approach completely ignores the social role of the wine. The wine is not always related to an individual taste, and it is more important to capture and process the opinion of an entire community. This gains traction with wine clubs which are centralized associations dedicated to fill this role. These clubs can provide significant benefit by selecting wines and associated information and sending it monthly. A “wine of the month club” newsletter and selected wine samples are sent to each club member. Learning about wines thus becomes easier than ever. Consequently, it is expected that the role of the wines will further increase in the next years. People tend to spend more time, attention and resources on social activities, and wines are a natural binding factor for such activities. Because social gatherings have often defined historical changes, it is thus expected that the wine, through its social role, its perfume, its color and its taste will also shape the future of humanity. An intriguing conclusion to consider: to be part of history one must not be ignorant about wines.

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I Love Wine As A Gift

I love wine, especially if I receive it as a gift. The wine doesn’t have to be expensive but should be rated at 90 points or more. I like receiving red wines in the winter, white wines in the summer, and Rose’s any time of year. Wine gifts don’t always have to be bottles of wine but can be accessories. Wine accessories as gifts can be bottle stoppers, charms, aerators, glasses, and wine racks. I received a wine journal as a gift so I can record all the wines I taste and rate them. This becomes very helpful when shopping for wine or recording wine tastings and the people you meet at them. It is possible to order wine from just about any winery and have it shipped to ones favorite person. You can personalize wine gifts by attatching labels with the persons name and/or the occasion. The holidays are a great time to present wine as a gift to the hostess when invited to a dinner party. I always present the wine in a decorated box or bag with a note of thanks. Wine gifts are becoming more popular as more people discover wine and prefer it to hard liquors or beer. Along the same line are wine gift baskets, which can be handmade or ordered. I love making my own wine gift baskets, mainly for reasons of cost. I can make my own wine gift baskets for a fraction of ones sold in boutiques or online. Over the course of time, I purchase the baskets at thrift stores and flea markets. I use plastic, shredded grass or straw as a filler. I choose a wine I think the recipient might like or a gift certificate from a local wine shop. I like to include two wine glasses (purchased from a cheap source) which I paint or decorate with crystals. Included in the wine gift basket are gourmet crackers and cheese, gourmet chocolate, or biscotti. Sometimes I add wine accessories which I buy on sale during the year at different stores, sales, and flea markets. I wrap the entire basket in colored plastic gift wrap and tied securely with lots of curles and ribbon. I attached a gift tag or note to complete it. Wine gift baskets can be handmade or ordered online from $20 to thousands of dollars, depending on ones budget and the occasion. But my favorite wine gift to give and also receive is wine from a wine of the month club. There are advantages to subscribing to the wine of the month club. One can try many different wines that might not be available in the immediate locale. The wines usually have literature included depicting the wines origin, rating, food pairings, and other pertinent information. Also when one is a member, all the wine and information can be passed on to friends and family. It is nice to always have wine on hand for that unexpected guest. The cost for joining a club or gifting it can be from $25 a month or more, depending on the plan you choose.Most wine clubs offer free shipping and no sales tax, which is another benefit. For someone who likes wine as much as I do, it is a gift that is truly appreciated.

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A Visit to Napa Valley

A visit to the Napa valley is a wonderful way to spend the day, especially if you like wine. My boyfriend and I often visit Napa valley as we both love the area and enjoy trying new types of wines. On our last visit we stopped at a local winery that we’d never seen before. We tasted several of their wines and decided to join their wine of the month club. Belonging to this club entitles you to a shipment every month of a variety of wines produced by that windery, and the choice is always determined by what the winery has released lately or considers one of their best wines. My boyfriend is very knowledgeable about wines and often gives wine gift baskets to friends on special occasions. He signed up for the club and we make a visit to the Napa valley each month to pick up his wine club selection, even though the winery will gladly ship each month’s wine to our house. We love to give wine gifts to our friends who also enjoy wine. They are very appreciative as they not only receive a delicious gift but learn about the wine at the same time, since we always include a note with the gift describing the background of the bottle of wine and what kind of “nose” it has. The “nose” of wine is how it smells and tastes, such as hints of black cherry, floral overtones, cedar and blackberry etc. Learning the nose of each wine takes a lot of practice. You have to know how to taste the wine rather than just drink it. This is why you’ll often see wine drinkers swirl their glass of wine, holding it by the stem, then tipping their nose into the glass to take a deep breath. Since smell is a big part of taste, this technique enhances the next step of the wine sampling which is to sip some of the wine. Don’t swallow it right away, but roll it around in your mouth a bit first. For beginners, helps to have a list of the tastes and smells to notice when sampling each wine. One way to get good at this is to attend a wine tasting party with friends. It’s also an excellent time to exchange wine gift baskets to learn about wine from each other. A gift basket should not only include at least one bottle of wine but can also include accessories to wine such as a decanter, a cork puller and aerator. These make the whole wine experience even more enjoyable. With heavy red wines, adding dark chocolate to the gift basket is a great idea because dark chocolate and heavy red wine compliment each other. A sip of wine, then a taste of chocolate then another sip of wine and you’ll find the wine tastes different on the second sip. This is why paring certain wines with certain foods enhances both the taste of the food but also alters the taste of the wine.

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Wine of the Month Club Organization

For wine-lovers who like to take their pass to the next level, joining a wine of the month club can be an enjoyable investment. The original website touts this organization as being established for roughly forty years, and joining online makes things easy. There have been a host of shows and magazines that have featured the wine of the month club organization, and according to the main site, there are a lot of good reasons to join. Those with a taste for wine and culture can join for just over twenty bucks a month, plus the cost of tax and shipping (which ends up being just over thirty dollars). The most expensive membership – reserved for serious wine lovers – ends up being about eighty dollars per month after the added expenses. While this might seem extravagant, wine is more than a mere interest or hobby to those kinds of members. Rather, it is a cultural treasure. Being a member has its guarantees. For example, if a member receives a wine they dislike, they can have another mailed to them without a hassle. This allows people to gain a greater appreciation for wine while still staying in the comfort zones of drinks that they actually enjoy. Wine gifts are another reason to investigate sites like this one. Rather than giving plain old cash or a check, gift certificates for wine can be purchased. Such a present shows the desire to bestow culture and sophistication on the recipient, and there are lots of things that such a certificate can be used to buy! The wines offered on the site vary in subtleties and flavors; there is a wine for every taste. Another wonderful option is to purchase a wine gift basket. While ordinary gift baskets are nice, a wine-themed basket is sophisticated and specific. These baskets are make for fantastic birthday presents, but they can be used anytime: to celebrate a wedding anniversary or engagement, a retirement, a holiday, or the ever-popular housewarming party. They can also be used as the starting point for a nice spread for having company over. On this particular website, customers can browse gift baskets by price, product name, rating, reviews, brand, best seller, etc. There are accompany pictures that show the exact contents of each basket. One of the more extravagant baskets is about a hundred dollars and the included items rest in a reddish woven basket. This wine basket has two wines, coffee candy, cookies, chips, snack mix, sausage, cookies, caramel corn, crackers, nuts, and more. A basket of this sort is impressive, but those who wish to spend a little less have lots of options, too. For just forty dollars, customers can purchase a basket containing wine, almonds, cookies, and candies. Members of the wine club can make dinners based on what kind of wine they receive that month. Certain wines go better with some types of dishes than other wines, so wine drinkers are encouraged to research the foods and recipes that the wines best compliment.

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Finding a Wine Club

If you’re interested in finding a new wine club-especially if you are looking online there are a few things you should know about.

First, not all reviews are real.  That’s pretty simple right-if you pay commissions, people will rank sites in a certain order to receive those commissions. It’s called affiliate marketing if you’re interested.  It’s not all bad, but it’s not all good either!

Anyway, while I don’t love what Google and other search engine’s do on a regular basis, I do realize that they give us a pretty good idea about what’s out there in terms of available wine club choices.  Start there and then move on to other social media and in less than an hour, you’ll reasonably know about every wine club available anywhere!

Facebook is another good to place to check, but Wine Spectator and other industry magazines also have pretty extensive lists available of the different wine club choices.

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Viento Riesling Underwood Mountain Vineyard 2007

Viento Riesling Underwood Mountain Vineyard 2007

Every once in a while, something interesting comes in-that makes you smile.  In this case, an aged Riesling, from a producer that I know….from a vintage that I trust.

Before we go on, I’ll mention off the cuff that Wine Spectator scored this at 91 points.

It’s an excellent example of Riesling in Oregon. You’ll note that unlike the Finger Lakes in New York, there’s no scale on the bottle denoting if there is any residual sugar in it or not (in essence, there is no sweetness scale).

This is the way I tend to like my Riesling’s-it’s said to be “off-dry” meaning that there is some residual sweetness-but that’s partially due to the grape itself, as well as being part of the winemaker’s choice.

It also reminds me that perhaps this shows my age a bit.  Over the past few years there has been a rise of sweet wines, as well as semi sweet wines such as this. Those markets are heavily influenced by millennials, really one of the first generations that grew up with things sweeter than juice around-after all 2014 marks the 10th year of declining soda sales (http://www.wsj.com/articles/pepsi-cola-replaces-diet-coke-as-no-2-soda-1427388559)  and if you believe that some things that happen in Berkeley before the rest of the country: we have an additional tax on soda in play that has cut down on sales more significantly locally than almost anything else has done.

Anyway, it all means that millennials are more likely to order a sweet wine than were any previous generation.  The wine industry also typically finds that once drinking habits are established, they stick around.

Ok, ok….back to the wine.  The folks in Oregon are known for allowing a greater amount of earthy type flavors to be imparted into their wines, than are the rest of the winemaking world.  That means that they aren’t about to be caught dead making a completely sweet Riesling.  Maybe that’s one of the rationale for not using the scale, largely becoming standard on grapes and wines that can swing wildly in the amount of sugar left over in your wine….but I wish everyone would use it. It’s one of the few labeling tactics that would actually make it significantly easier for consumers over the short and long term.

As an industry, isn’t that something we should be working toward doing?

I’ll also take a moment and talk about Riesling.  If you’re a new member to our Explorations Wine Club and you’ve only bought wine at grocery stores and wine stores, without much help before….this might be the first version of the varietal that you’ve ever tried.

Riesling is one of the few grapes native to Germany, a country where the grape gains it’s greatest influence in the lush, cold Mosel Valley.

When we first opened Uncorked Ventures, our Explorations Wine Club was not limited solely to California, Oregon and Washington State.  Instead it was international. Given that our higher end wine clubs were both focused exclusively on Oregon, Washington and California….it made for a marketing challenge and while we weren’t the smartest guys in the room….we listen well when multiple people make the same suggestion repeatedly. From winemakers to customers, everyone simply told us to stick to the west coast, where we actually knew people-

Back in the old days, one of the first wines we shipped was a dry Riesling from the Mosel Valley and when we were talking to the winemaker, he had sent an image that really struck me (he didn’t take it, but instead showed us that this is how it’s done where he lives.  Retired and even elderly people work harvest in many parts of Germany. The vineyards are also incredibly steep and frankly, dangerous. Parts of the Mosel Valley don’t have much top soil, instead there are rather large rocks, boulders almost that will, on occasion, break off and roll down into the river.  But, where you have grapes struggling for ripeness, rocks are a good thing.  They suck in heat during the warm days and spit it back out in the cold evenings, helping to not only prevent frost, but according to the locals, help the vines reach a better and more acceptable level of ripeness.

That example of a good, affordable and yes, semi-sweet German Riesling stuck with me and I’ve been looking for something similar to this day domestically.

Oregon doesn’t have the retired harvest hands, but the struggle for ripeness that has helped to shape Riesling and Mosel together, epitomizes Oregon Riesling as well. It isn’t quite as cold, but the chances of multiple 100+ degree days in much of Oregon’s wine country, is minimal at best.

That means the Riesling here, might be a bit less mineral infused than its German counterparts, but it’s also perhaps more familiar since it isn’t so strikingly acidic.

Lastly, I’ll mention that even for Oregon….’07 was pretty darn cold. If you take a moment to read about the vintage online, people hate it.  Well, consumers hate it.  Wine reviewers hate it.  Hell, the wineries take time to try and defend it….basically while saying that yes, they kind of hate it as well.

Everyone’s talking about Pinot Noir though-not Riesling.  Here’s the main difference; that vintage in 07 was marred by a huge rainstorm in September that ruined a bunch of fruit and left winemakers with some impossible choices elsewhere-at least in terms of Pinot Noir.

For Riesling, the grapes had already been picked and were happily fermenting before those September rains began.

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Zerba Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon 2004

Zerba Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon 2004

So this is interesting right? I mean, how often do you find a wine aged about a decade, or longer by the winery?

Zerba’s an interesting winery.  Those who have been a wine club member for a while know that while my wine country visits during the regular year often tend to focus on California both because there are more logical targets, after all 90% of American wine is still made in California, but also because Napa and Sonoma are day trips and a bit more focused for me (and quite honestly, less night’s away is easier on the family, already dealing with some of the issues that come with a startup). The last two summers I’ve spent a week in the Willamette Valley of Oregon and then a week in Walla Walla Washington, Zerba’s been in both places.

That’s more unusual than you might expect.  After all, it’s about a 6 hour drive from the Willamette Valley (think an hour south of Portland) to get to Walla Walla which if you aren’t familiar, is in eastern Washington state. It’s like a winery having tasting rooms in both San Francisco and Los Angeles simultaneously, all the while believing that they really do belong in both spots culturally.

Additionally, as it turns out, a wrong turn when going into the eastern reaches of Walla Walla, has you end up in Milton Freewater, Oregon.  That’s where Zerba is based.

I think the Walla Walla location fits their style and before you start thinking that these are Oregon guys, playing with Washington fruit-the Columbia Valley AVA deserves a mention.

The Columbia Valley is named after the Columbia river, which creates the border of Oregon state and Washington state pretty close to the Idaho border on the eastern side of both states, however wine growing regions are not often divided quite as easily, as are states.  A river makes an outstanding state border, but a wine region might be better divided by the valley that the river has created over millennia.

Zerba’s really a Washington winery in terms of style, but quite honestly, the Oregon sides of the border are built up more so than the Washington sides of the border in the region, pretty much exactly the opposite of what you find in the western portion of both states, where Oregon has sleepy beach town’s that no one has ever heard of….while Washington has Seattle.

So more important perhaps? What’s in your glass?

There aren’t critics scores for this 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon, but the 2004 vintage in the Columbia Valley was considered quite good overall by Wine Spectator (they score it as a 89 for the vintage as a whole).  It’s partially available because the 2005 is considered a once in a decade vintage, so there’s more interest by buyers and collectors there. We’ve also pushed the envelope a bit here.  The 03’s that I tasted, are starting to lose some appeal.  The 05’s are more expensive than I would have liked for our Explorations Wine Club.  This retails, when new for about $28 and seems fair after a decade of cellaring.

I know I’ve mentioned the fact before, but 98% of wine is consumed within 48 hours of purchase and given how quickly phone calls tend to come when people receive their monthly wine club orders, I don’t doubt that fact any longer.

That being said, age and wine go together well.  I won’t go into the chemistry, that aspect might interest me, but I know that chemistry isn’t nearly anyone’s favorite class-better generally avoided I’ve been told….but let’s say there are a number of compounds inherent in well made wine that work well together over time.  The wine loses some of it’s hard edges and becomes more of a single entity instead of separate composite parts-smell, mouthfeel and finish.

I’ll continue to look for examples of wines like this-because I think it helps to show why people who age wine, do so because of the results that they receive.

Here’s the rub though: wine ages best at about 50 degrees and 70% humidity.  There have been studies showing that wine refrigerators don’t do as good of a job, as does a natural cellar-or at least one large enough to walk into.

I have my warehouse which contains a few juicy parcels set aside for the future, like my oldest son’s birth wine, but that isn’t reality for most of our customers, like it wouldn’t be for my wife and I otherwise.  So, to fill in the gaps so to speak, an aged Cabernet….which I hope you’ll enjoy!