Get to Know Your Wine Fast!

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

What can you tell about a wine in six minutes? More than you think. This is almost of test of skills for winery and wine blogger alike as we try to form opinions, ask questions, taste, communicate, blog and tweet. You saw my tweets and blogs in when the speed dating was happening.. Now you can see how I gathered my information.

Now we are tasting the Lot 1 Cabernet Sauvignon from Louis M. Martini (I forgot the M. in the video, mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa).

Btw, that guy you keep seeing in the background adjusting video is Michael Wangbickler of Caveman Wines… stop by and say hi to him!

Louis M. Martini
254 South St. Helena Highway
St. Helena, CA 94575

Wine Blog Speed Dating

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

Wine bloggers are an interesting lot. When we congregate together we find new and original ways to try wine. One of my favorites is the speed dating at the Wine Bloggers’ Conference. Every six minutes we are introduced to a new wine and we are supposed to taste and blog and ask questions in the six minute period. I did blog the results of these tasting from the conference, but I also filmed the experience too. This was the first of the red wines, the House Wine from the Magnificent Wine Company. A votre santé

The Magnificent Wine Company
C/O Precept Brands
3534 Bagley Ave North
Seattle, WA 98103

Whitman Cellars

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

Our next stop at the WBC’10 was to head to lunch at Whitman Cellars in Walla Walla. We listened to Gordy Vennari of Walla Walla Vintners and Stephen Lessard of Whitman Cellars.

Whitman Cellars
1015 West Pine Street
Walla Walla, WA 99362-1756
(509) 529-1142

Walla Walla Vintners
225 Vineyard Ln
Walla Walla, WA 99362-8404
(509) 525-4724

Balboa Winery, Walla Walla, Washington

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

Thanks to everyone for bearing with me as the day job continues to overwhelm me….

I am still working on producing my videos that I took at the Wine Bloggers’ Conference.

This video is of Thomas Glase of Balboa Winery as we tasted his spectacular wine, Mith. Cheers!

Bubbles in Every Color

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

For my birthday Kevin decided to try out all different kinds of sparkling wines. And I think that you will agree this one is quite unique as it is a sparkling red. I know that my first thought was, “What?! Cold duck?” Which I haven’t seen or heard of in a 1000 years… Cold duck was a blend of red wine from California with a New York State sparkling wine.

The IGT Giol Raboso Frizzante is grown in the Veneto Region of Italy near Treviso. Raboso is the local grape in the area and produces a deep ruby red wine that is low in alcohol but high in tannins. Additionally, the grapes for this wine were grown organically.

The wine was dry and tasted of black cherries and plums. The bubbles died away fairly quickly but were great to look at with their ruby hue.

I had never seen an Italian wine like this (yes, I know, I need to get out more) but enjoyed it thoroughly. I was disappointed not to learn what method the winery used to create the carbonation as in the region both the traditional French method champagnoise and the charmat (the wine is prepared in stainless steel tanks under pressure) method. But for once my curiousity will have to go unsated.

I guess that works out so long as the wine was so tasty.

You have to admit this would be a delightful alternative to Champagne for Valentine’s Day!

Nobody Puts Rebel Girl in a Bottle!

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

Yes, I know that title is some strange cross between I Dream of Jeannie and Dirty Dancing. It is hard out here for a hobo. Or at least that is what Kevin and I keep telling Aunt Maggie and whoever else out there is reading about our foray into home winemaking. Maybe someday I will have the revenuers knocking at my door. But they will never take me alive, I tell you! Yee Ha! or what ever it is that hobos say when they are bottling their wine.

Can you believe that I haven’t even had any of it today? Well tough. I didn’t.

What I did have was our clean sterile bottles and corks… we had the clean sterile tubing and the wine siphon. Oh. And we had three empty bags from boxes of Angel Juice Pinot Grigio. Yes, in true hobo form, we are bottling our wine in bags… I learned how to do it here at Instructables (contrary to their opinion not ALL bags from boxed wine are suitable for re-use. Yes, there was some experimentation involved. And you people don’t think that we suffer for our art!).

The hope is that we can serve it from a carafe like semi-civilized people… Or, if the evening is late enough we can dribble the remnants of the bag into our mouths from the spigot.

This process was pretty simple once we figured out how to clamp the spigots back onto the bags… and got Kevin to watch what he was doing as he was filling the bottles… Let’s just say that there was some spillage involved.

Next up? Corking. Easy enough for a 12 year old to accomplish…

Are All Grapes Equal?

I guess that depends on who you ask.

The most common grape types come from the genus of vitis vinifera. These are the grapes that are native to Europe, Southwestern Asia and North Africa. These grapes have spread throughout the world beginning in the 2nd century BC when their cultivation was introduced into China (although local wild grapes were used before that).

Because of their close association with wine making over the last, oh, 7,000 years or so, many believe they are the only grapes that should be used when making wine. Initially, cultivation of the vinifera varieties occurred only on the west coast beginning in New Mexico and then migrating up the coast. However, hybrids of the vinifera and local vitis species have been producing wine as well.

Can good wine be produced from these native species? Well, we are beginning to find out now.

The vitis labrusca, or fox grape, more commonly known as the Catawba, Concord, Niagara and Delaware and used in wines in the Niagara Escarpment and elsewhere. Generally known for producing sweet wines, some vinters are beginning to experiment with producing drier wines from these grapes. Freedom Run has specifically produced a dry Niagara wine that is aged in oak (Manor Manning Reserve).

Vitis riparia or the Frost grape has been used to make many of the hybrids of vinifera species that are common throughout most of the nation. The Baco Noir, Marchel Foch and Frontenac are all varietals that have mixed with v. raparia.

Vitis rotundifloria…. the Muscadine grape. This grape was different than the other vitis forms in that its fruit grows in clusters instead of clumps. These grapes were the first native grapes to be used to produce wine. Their earliest know cultivation for this purpose was in St. Augustine, Florida during the 16th century. These wines are typically seen as sweet, dessert wines but this is due to added sugar during the winemaking process. Additionally, these grapes are noted for their resistence to many of the worst grape pests. Lastly, the muscadine grape is noted for having more than eight times the anti-oxidants of other grape varieties. The wines from these grapes are produced throughout the Southern United States.

Do these grapes rate compared to the vitis vinifera? Well those grapes have been in cultivation and in production for wine a long time. But these grapes are being used more intensively now. Will they catch up to their old world cousins? Time will tell?