Wednesday, December 24, 2008

10 Step Guide To Starting A Wine Collection

Wine is usually reserved for celebrations and special occasions by folks, to either compliment a meal, spend a romantic evening together with a significant other or commemorate an event. The idea of collecting wine is thought by many people to require becoming a connoisseur or oenophile. The trend is starting to catch on but many think it is still a very challenging task. Not so. Here are ten steps to collecting and maintaining your very own wine collection.

1. LOCATION: Locate a place to keep at least a case (twelve bottles) of wine on hand for a variety of occasions. There are wine closets and wine refrigerators available; a kitchen fridge may be a little too cold but if that is all that's available, then so be it.

2. ENVIRONMENT: The location chosen for storage should be cool and dark (no sunlight) as the temperature for keeping white wines is in the range of 45F to 60F; 50F to 60F for red wines.

3. EXPENSE: Wine is less expensive when bought in large quantity. Most stores that specialize in wine usually give a 10% discount if a case is purchased and normally allow for a mixture of wines rather than requiring you to buy just one label of wine. Variety is the spice of life you know.

4. AGE: Depending on the type of wine, some become better with years of age while others need to be consumed within a couple of months. This is a learning process and laying down wine for the long term is not a hard and fast rule. For instance, some viscous German desert wines or "Ice" wines such as a trochenbeerenauslese, are not drinkable until they are 100 to 140 years old, while the French beaujolais nouveau, always released the 3rd Thursday of November, should be consumed within six months of its bottling. A table wine is good to drink around the year its released, white ones are good for about two years, red ones for about five. Vintage wines can good from 10 to 20 years in storage.

5. STORAGE: Bottles should be stored horizontally, or "laid down" on their sides, so the wine is constantly in contact with the cork. This prevents the cork from breaking the seal by drying out and shrinking and in turn spoiling the wine.

6. REFERENCE: To prevent disturbing the bottle positions while in storage, identification tags should be put on the necks for easy reference and wines should be organized and kept together that are of the same vintage or classification.

7. USABILITY: If using a wine fridge, wines that are more often in demand should be nearer the storage door and special occasion wines, such as sparkling or champagne, should be stored deeper.

8. INVENTORY: It's a good idea to keep a listing of the wines you have currently to ensure you are ready for any social occasion, whether it be a party or a romantic evening.

9. SUPPLIER: Try to shop at the same place and get aquainted with the staff as it is a way to usually get the best wines for the lowest costs. Wine dealers are also a ready source of knowledge and will have substantial advice to offer if you make them aware that you are in earnest about learning how to collect wines.

10. FUN: As time goes by and you become more educated on the aspects of wine collecting, you will find it all that more enjoyable and intellectually stimulating learning about the various facts and history of wines in general. Here you can learn facts about grapes and grape stomping at the Grape Facts site.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Wine For The Holidays: The Top 10 + 2

Gather 'round for a glass! The expert wine buyers at Whole Foods Market made a list and checked it twice.
They wrapped up their best selection yet of Reds, Whites and Sparklers with the perfect balance of quality and value, so you can wrap your mitts around the season and celebrate with ease. Plus, they added a couple of bonus bottles for giving or special occasions. Cheers to warm hearths and happy hearts.
Some products may not be available in all stores and are subject to availability and local alcohol regulations.

Sustainable White

From America's first carbon-neutral winery, a perfect appetizer party wine, crisp as a cool day with melon citrus flavors, a dry finish and medium acidity. Loves roasted chicken, baked or breaded mild seafood or Grafton Classic Reserve Cheddar from Vermont.

Cave de Lugny
Mâcon-Villages Chardonnay

Great value! An elegant, classic white Burgundy, balancing fruit and zesty acidity. Lemon meringue and a sprinkle of nutmeg complement the season's winter spices, apples, turkey and our cranberry cheddar, as well as other poultry and creamy pasta.

Mount Rey Central Coast Chardonnay

One of our wine specialists' tasting favorites. Tropical fruit, green apple and cool central coast growing conditions lend pleasant acidity that lifts the creaminess of risotto, seafood dishes and creamy cheeses such as Rond du Cher and our exclusive holiday French brie.

Brut Cava Made from Organically Grown Grapes

Best deal in the store—buy it by the case! A fun, easy-drinking, food-friendly Sparkler for celebrating from weekend brunch to New Year's Eve. Apple, spice and a licorice tickle are nice with duck, and just the thing with fried or spicy foods, brie and Truffle Tremor goat cheese.

Nicolas Feuillatte
Brut Extrem' Champagne

Very fine bubbles from a top-3 champagne house—and a real value! Crisply fresh with true purity of fruit, delicate toasty wood, spice, citrus and floral. Elevates your celebrations on its own or with seafood, creamy, buttery foods, French brie or Truffle Tremor.

Block No. 45
Pinot Noir

A rich, comforting Pinot, full-bodied and balanced with California-grown fruit. Oaky vanilla, dried cherry and a touch of peppery spice work wonders with turkey, salmon and a variety of cheeses, including creamy Amadeus from Austria.

Vinum Cellars
Reserve Petite Sirah

Supple, generous and juicy, yet complete with round tannins. We bought it all and a portion of the vintner's profits goes to a local animal shelter. Cuddles up friendly to herbed beef, lamb and earthy, garlicky foods, plus cheeses from well-aged to creamy brie.


From the home of paella and Spanish chorizo, this full-flavored Red is herby, rich and lean. It is ideal with blue cheeses, such as Rogue Anniversary Blue or the classic Stilton; amazing with fig cake; and a wonderful dinner wine with red-sauced pasta, beef or BBQ.

M. Chapoutier Belleruche
Côtes-du-Rhône Rouge

A real value from a great wine family also committed to eco-friendly farming. Good structure, dark fruit and a dash of pepper will warm you through the season with red pasta, lamb, beef, smoked fish, earthy vegetarian foods, Stilton and Rogue Anniversary Blue.

Bush Vine Grenache

Our tasters adored this richly textured Grenache from 70-year-old vines. Soft with lovely fruit and spice, it is great on its own when you're in a Red mood. Stands up to lamb, duck, game or beef, yet is just as fabulous with creamy pasta or Truffle Tremor cheese.

Sonoma County Merlot

Here's your holiday crowd pleaser from one of the oldest U.S. Merlot makers. Velvety cherry and blackberry with hints of cocoa and clove. A food pleaser, too, with meats, stews, dark or red sauces and flavorful cheeses, from cranberry cheddar and winter blues to brie.

Lodi Cabernet Sauvignon

Fortify your winter spirits with this easy-drinking, silky food wine named for its vine clone number. Dark fruit, cedar and cola with hints of its mineral-soil roots. Nice fireside sipper or with steak, roasts, red pasta, Stilton, Rogue Anniversary Blue or French brie.