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Archive for January, 2009

Our 1st Annual Decanter Design Contest, Win $1,000

Friday, January 30th, 2009 at 2:21:40 PM
by Erika S., Wine Enthusiast Companies

Lyra DecanterFor the first time in our 30-year history, we are calling on our customers’ creative juices to design an exciting new decanter for us. Decanters are a marriage of form and function, vessels that can open the aromatics of your wine, while displaying it artfully.

Over the years we’ve carried decanters of all shapes and sizes: horizontal, vertical, duck-shaped, antique, modern and even giraffe shaped! Now we are looking for some fresh ideas, what would YOU like to see in a decanter shape? The new decanter should be both beautiful and functional.

If you have a unique idea, submit it via JPEG to and you could win:

  • a Grand Prize of $1,000
  • a 1-Year Subscription to Wine Enthusiast Magazine 
  • Tickets to Toast of the Town in New York City, America’s Premier Wine and Restaurant Tasting Event. 
  • Have your design featured at Toast of the Town and in Wine Enthusiast Magazine, read by thousands of business professionals every day!

Calling all wine lovers with an eye for artistry, now is your chance to create a revolutionary new wine product, enter today! Or maybe you have a friend who may be interested? Pass on the link love! For more details visit our contest page, here.

Wine Wisdoms #19: The Point of Punts

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009 at 4:18:48 PM
by Erika S., Wine Enthusiast Companies

Wine Bottle Punt The “Punt” is the concaved base or indent at the bottom of a bottle of wine. It has many purposes, though most likely punts are just a traditional style that has been perpetuated over the years.

  1. It makes the bottle easier to hold and pour from
  2. It makes the glass bottle more break-resistant and less likely to tumble over
  3. It can be seen as a symbol of quality
  4. It holds the bottle in place on a bottling line
  5. It helps gather the sediment of older wines
  6. Historically, it was used in Champagne to help stack bottles for the riddling process

It’s unclear what the real reason is, and not all bottles are actually created with punts. Different producers may have their own individual reasons, beyond this list as well.

Why do you think wine bottles have punts?

Wine Wisdoms #18: The Foundation of Rioja’s Greatness

Friday, January 23rd, 2009 at 4:02:34 PM
by Josh F., Wine Enthusiast Companies

In the 1880′s when the Phylloxera epidemic hit vineyards in Bordeaux, hundreds of French families moved South to Rioja to continue their wine-making trade. They used the local grape varieties (primarily Tempranillo) but they brought the Bordeaux techniques of long skin maceration and oak-barrel aging. The quality of Rioja improved dramatically and today it still represents one of the great wine values in the world.

How to Shop for a Lever Style Corkscrew

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009 at 3:32:30 PM
by Erika S., Wine Enthusiast Companies

Based on the popularity of our recent post about how to shop for a Waiter’s style corkscrew, we thought it only fair to represent the lever style as well. Lever Style corkscrews have grown in popularity over the years because they have revolutionized the ease of uncorking a bottle of wine. The power of leverage in the handle removes the cork almost effortlessly.  And over the years, slick designs from manufacturers like Metrokane (makers of the Rabbit wine opener) and Le Creuset (makers of the Screwpull brand of corkscrews) have turned these into chic collectibles, too.


Concord Lever Style Corkscrew

Much like shopping for any style of corkscrew, the level of craftsmanship will determine a lever-style corkscrew’s ability to extract the cork…as well as its price. All lever style corkscrews function the same way, but levers made from a heavier, more durable material, will extract all corks more easily. Models made from polycarbon require a bit more force than other models and may not be strong enough for use with synthetic corks which require stronger leverage. You may want to check out Wine Enthusiast’s own value-priced Concorde Lever Style Corkscrew, recently recommended by Cook’s Illustrated.


LM 400 Personalized

The latest craze in lever-style models is the vertical or horizontal design option. Traditionally, lever style corkscrews had wings that operated perpendicular to the wine bottle. But now, these newer models have upright wings that are tucked into the sides, allowing for a more compact design and even better ease-of-use. The sleek, Screwpull LM-400 and the Vertical Rabbits are two great examples.

No matter which  model you select, a lever style corkscrew will  make uncorking a breeze. Not sure how to use a lever style corkscrew? Check out our quick video tutorial with a Rabbit corkscrew, which brings the lever style corkscrew to life!

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Wine Wisdoms #17: Food and Wine Pairing Basics

Monday, January 19th, 2009 at 5:27:11 PM
by Erika S., Wine Enthusiast Companies

Food and Wine Pairing CookbookFood and wine pairing can be as simple or as complex as you’d like. The goal is to focus on the flavor components of the wine and harmonize them with those of your food. Typically more heavy foods such as steak, pair well with bold wines like Cabernet Sauvignon. Lighter foods like sea bass therefore, might make a great pairing with Sauvignon Blanc. It’s not as basic as red wine with steak and white wine with fish though. Preparation also plays a big role. A heartier fish like swordfish, prepared in a rich sauce can be a nice pairing with a light red like a Pinot Noir. While swordfish in a lemon, butter sauce could be a nice match with Chardonnay. Experiment with various combinations and find what works well for you. There are no right or wrong answers.

Need a place to start? Here are some great combinations, as featured in Wine Enthusiast Magazine’s Wine & Food Pairings Cookbook. It’s over 30% off for a limited time.

Avocado, Tomato and Spinach Crepes with New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc
Bouillabaisse with a Spanish Rose
Pork Chops with Pinot Noir Demi-Glace with Oregon Pinot Noir
Wild Rice Salad with Mushrooms with Cabernet Franc
Duck Breast with Caramelized Apples and Red Burgundy

Wine Wisdoms #16: What is a Cru?

Thursday, January 15th, 2009 at 3:39:50 PM
by Erika S., Wine Enthusiast Companies

Vineyard in France

The French word for “growth”, cru is a classification term used throughout France to signify either areas of wine production or producers. For example, in Burgundy the term refers to vineyards and in Champagne, to whole villages. For most of France, the main classifications are grand cru (great growth) and premiere cru (first growth), the next best, and so on. But in Bordeaux, crus refer to chateaus and are designated under cru classé (classified growths), which was officially enacted in 1885. For the Medoc area of Bordeaux, the designations have a five-tier designation, with premiere cru classe as the highest.  The St.-Emilion region of Bordeaux was left out of the 1885 decision along with Graves and Pomerol, so they have their own naming system, which categorizes wines as either premiere or grands cru classés A or B.

As featured in the February issue of Wine Enthusiast Magazine, available now.

How to Shop for a Waiter’s Style Corkscrew

Tuesday, January 13th, 2009 at 3:30:30 PM
by Erika S., Wine Enthusiast Companies

Waiter’s Style corkscrews are sold in various styles and price ranges. Since all of them lead to the same result, you may be curious how to select the one that’s best for your needs – and your budget. Ranging in price from $7-$170, depending on their material, the difference is generally found in the craftsmanship of the product which affects its ease-of-use.


Chateau Laguiole Aubrac Waiter’s Corkscrew

Higher-end wine openers, (like Laguiole Corkscrews) are crafted of stainless steel with handles made in everything from stag horn to olive wood, and more. The basic functionality is the same but a Laguiole will be more durable and stylish. More affordable waiter’s corkscrews are typically made of an ionized plastic, and cost around $10.


Capitano Waiter’s Corkscrew

Both work, but when comparing the action of the two, you will find that a more high-end corkscrew will open the wine in a smoother fashion, and feel better in your hands. Assuming you treat your wines with care, you probably want to take care in how you open them, and invest in a nice corkscrew.

After you’ve made your decision to purchase a waiter’s style corkscrew, you‘ll now need insight into how to extract that pesky cork. Watch as a member of our team, Josh Farrell, shows you in this live video:

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Wine Wisdoms #15: Learn to Detect Fruit Aromas

Tuesday, January 13th, 2009 at 10:52:16 AM
by Erika S., Wine Enthusiast Companies

Wine and Fruit Aromas

Learn to detect fruit aromas. Wine will usually have some kind of fruit aroma. Experiment with different types of wine and learn to recognize what those aromas are. Swirl your glass with gusto and put your nose deep inside of it. For red wine, the primary aromatics are categorized into black fruits or red fruits. Black fruits consist of blackberries, plums, blueberries etc. while red fruits consist of strawberries, raspberries, cherries etc. The first question to ask yourself is whether the aromas are black or red fruits and from there you can pinpoint the specific fruit. White wine fruit aromas can be anything from the simpler citrus and apple to more exotic tropical fruits like pineapple, banana, and lychee fruit. Once you learn to recognize these aromas on their own, you’ll be more apt to find them in your wine. How did you first learn to detect fruit aromas in wine?

Our wine taste and aroma kits offer great assistance in learning to detect aromas in wine.

How to Use a Decanter

Monday, January 12th, 2009 at 12:30:25 PM
by Erika S., Wine Enthusiast Companies

Personalized Wine Decanter

Decanters are essential for enhancing the flavors of a young wine or for removing sediment from an old wine. There are all kinds of shapes and styles available but you may be wondering: “What do I do with it?” There are two simple methods of decanting:

1. Decanting a young wine, to aerate it
• Take out your decanter, funnel, and wine. Open the bottle of wine.
• Affix the funnel to the top of the decanter and pour a slow stream of wine through the funnel. Watch as your wine cascades from the sides of the funnel and into the decanter.
• As the wine goes through the funnel and the surface area of your wine is spreading, the wine is aerating, changing its aromatic properties.
• Once the full bottle is poured into the decanter you can remove the funnel from the top of the decanter, and pour from the decanter into your glasses.

2. Decanting an old wine, to separate the sediment
• As tannic, red wines age, the sediment often conglomerates, forming unwanted clumps in the bottom and along the sides of the bottle. The sediment is harmless–made up mainly of grape skins–but it is usually bitter, and impedes the enjoyment of your wine.
• Old wines open up over time, as the pores in the cork allow them to breathe. Therefore, aeration with a funnel isn’t necessary for an older wine.
• Slightly angle your decanter and slowly, pour the wine into the decanter so that only the liquid pours through, leaving the sediment behind in the bottle. Discard the bottle and sediment, and pour the wine from your decanter into glasses.

Now that you understand the basics of decanting, you may need some help selecting the perfect decanter to suit your needs. In this brief video, we explain some of the different styles available, and their benefits. Enjoy!

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Do you have any special decanting techniques? Please share your story, with us!

Wine Wisdoms #14: When Oregon Pinot Shocked the World

Thursday, January 8th, 2009 at 6:13:48 PM
by Josh F., Wine Enthusiast Companies

Willamette Valley Vineyards Pinot NoirAbout twenty years ago Oregon winemakers took the bold and outrageous step of inviting famous wine experts and journalists to blind taste their 1983 Pinot Noirs along with 1983 Grand Cru Burgundies costing four and five times as much. The Oregon wines were mistaken for and rated higher than the Burgundies in almost every case. The experts were shocked by the results, and in that moment Oregon Pinot Noirs achieved their status as the world class wines which they hold today.