The Wine Name

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

Maybe it is because I was always forced to title my papers in college and it often stretched my already exhausted and strained creativity, but when I make wine, I always feel it needs a name. That might not make any sense to anyone else out there, but it does to me. Heck, I want to name our house, though I have been forbidden to by Kevin and the girls (fun-suckers, I say).

So, I have been thinking very carefully about the name for this vintage (did you smell the burning?). Finally, I have arrived at a name and a label to go along with it.

I kinda like it alot.

Red Handed

And yes, I know I still have a carmenere out there unnamed. I am still thinking on that one. I told you my creativity is limited.

Well, This Was Messier

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

Well, the bubbling of the fermentation tank finally stopped. So, it is time to move the wine to the carboy for secondary fermentation and aging. Previously, we have accomplished this task in about 5 minutes. That was before we stuff floating in the mix. Now I have stuff to fish out.

Ewww. Seedy.And a question to answer. What do I do with this stuff? Toss it right away? or try to press the remaining juice out of it. And of course, how to accomplish that as I still have not invested in a fruit press.

I went with trying to get the extra juice out. I used a familiar technique. A strainer and wooden spoon, like I use when making raspberry sauce, though I vow to now strain it so ruthlessly. I want juice, not pulp. It took a while and it was messy. I wish I had a compost pile for all the skins and seeds left behind but with my luck, it would attract rats which is a no-no here in the city.Much Messier

Next up I have to let it age a bit longer, because the flavor? kinda bitey. But because I have transferred the liquids into a new clean container (called racking) it is legally now wine, bitey wine, but wine, nevertheless. Now I have to figure out how I am going to clarify this stuff. Decisions, decisions…

In Defense of Sweet Wine

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

Despite my recent diatribe about the cloyingly sweet and nasty wine from my youth (pronounced ‘yute’ in my best “My Cousin Vinny” manner) I have largely been irritated with people who sneer at any sweet wine.

Via Wikipedia by User:Smb1001

Via Wikipedia by User:Smb1001

When did sweet become bad? Our bodies are designed to find sweet appealing. Indeed, almost universally, sweetness has been associated with pleasure. Yet, when it comes to wine sweet has become synonymous with inferiority. But are sweet wines really inferior?

The answer is simple. Like everything else, it depends. Are you drinking Ripple or Canei? Or Chateau d’Yquem?

They all are sweet. Only one is quality wine. Can you guess which?

Ripple and related brands were an outgrowth of Prohibition which led to binge drinking as entertainment (just proof that so-called adults can’t resist snubbing their nose at authority any more than teenagers can). High alcohol fortified wines were produced cheaply and sold relatively (by bootlegging standards) so. Unfortunately, after Prohibition was over, they became the wine standard in the U.S. Because they were inexpensive, they became associated with the poor, the underaged and college students…  Wine for people looking for a buzz.

German and Alsatian wines were as varied as any other wine became painted with the “cheap and inferior” label due to the proliferation and marketing of low-quality mass produced wines such as Liebfraumilch (which itself was a venerable German wine produced by the vineyards of the Church of Our Lady in Worms who’s reputation was destroyed by association).

Riesling, Muller-Thurgau, Gewurtztraminer all came to be seen as varietals that produced low quality, sweet wines. Do they deserve this reputation? It depends. The German government has changed their standards that designate what a quality wine is. They measure potential alcohol which is a measure of sugar. This does NOT necessarily translate into sweetness. Wines with balanced acid contents may even be perceived of as “dry”. And these new German wines have become very popular.

Too often I have heard people who claim to love wine turn their nose at wines with any lingering sweetness. Why? I suppose because it is not currently in vogue. But this is not always been the case. As for the other sweet wines? Ports, sherries, sauternes, tokaj’s, passito.. These can all be high quality wines who’s merits shouldn’t be judged by its sweetness.

So you don’t like sweet wine? Ok. Drink what you like. You will get no complaint from me. Particularly since you are leaving more of these jewels for me. I will try not to be too smug while you regale me with tales of things that you WON’T even try. After all, you left more for me to enjoy. But don’t denigrate their quality because of your personal opinion.

Banfi CollePino

Marguerite Barrett

Contributing Writer
I mentioned a few days ago that I picked up this up solely because the label caught my eye.  
From Castello Banfi in the Tuscan region of Italy, the CollePino is a blend of Sangiovese and Merlot that is quite delicious.  And at less than $10US a bottle, a great wine to stock up on for a good everyday table red.    I paired it with a hearty risotto one evening for a wonderful “comfort food” dinner.

Wine in Hell

I have never liked going to Wal-mart. In fact, I think that is too mild of a description. I loathe going to Wal-mart.

Why? Well besides the crowded disorganized store, packed with hordes of the unwashed masses, I have always found that the place just gives me the creeps.

Unfortunately, when one is on a quest to find certain odd items, for instance, disposable stylo plumes (fountain pens) for your young girls.. you often find yourself entering stores that you would normally avoid like the plague.

That being said, I now find a way to soothe my soul on those shopping trips where you have been forsaken by all that is good and holy. There is cheap wine at Wal-mart.

Probably not my Wal-Mart, mind you, but at least one of them… and the wine, produced by Oak Leaf Vineyards is described as being pretty good. The chardonnay won gold medals at the 2008 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition and Florida State International Wine Competition. They are produced by Oak Leaf Vineyards in Ripon, California which is part of the Wine Group family of wines. And at $2.97 a bottle? Well, hopefully I can forget the whole shopping trip!

Wines produced by the vineyard include:

  • Pinot Grigio-Chardonnay blend
  • Chardonnay (winner of the Florida International Wine Competition Gold Medal)
  • Merlot
  • Cabernet Sauvignon

Will these wines make me go to Wal-Mart if I am not desperate? Probably not… but it will make the necessity of having to go there more palatable.