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Archive for the 'Wine Wisdoms' Category

Wine Wisdoms #43: The Stelvin Closure

Friday, August 28th, 2009 at 2:43:48 PM
by Erika S., Wine Enthusiast Companies

Stelvin/Screw Cap

Stelvin is just a fancy name for a screw cap. It’s a particular brand of screw cap, made of metal, that has become almost universal. The brand name is used generically, much like “Kleenex” or “Xerox”. Screw caps have become a popular cork alternative as of late, as wineries seek to prevent the damages of cork taint. Much of the reason for using cork (aside from the romance) is to allow wine to breathe over time as it ages. Thus, wines that aren’t mean to age are fine under the Stelvin closure.

Wine Wisdoms #42: Cork and Tainted Love

Thursday, August 27th, 2009 at 11:59:12 AM
by Erika S., Wine Enthusiast Companies

Cork has been used as a wine bottle closure for centuries.Corks and Screwcaps Many people would say they love the romance of pulling the cork from a bottle of wine, and no other closure will suffice. However, cork comes with a problem that has caused many wineries to move to alternative solutions like synthetic corks or screw caps.

A certain type of mold called Trichloroanisole (TCA) can attack the cork and spoil the wine. This is known as “cork taint.” It’s not common (1-3% of wine is infected) but it happens enough to cause wineries and consumers a lot of grief. Imagine paying $60 for a special bottle and opening it, only to find that it smells like a dank basement or wet newspaper! And imagine the frustration of the winemaker, that his/her wine could potentially reach your lips in this spoiled state.

Wine Wisdoms #41: The Lure of En Primeur

Thursday, August 20th, 2009 at 12:53:53 PM
by Erika S., Wine Enthusiast Companies

En Primeur

En Primeur is a term used to refer to wine futures, usually referring to high-end Bordeaux. Before the wine is bottled, critics and buyers taste a sample from barrel and their perception of its quality determines the future value. Interested consumers are then allowed to purchase the wine “en primeur.” The benefit is that you can purchase the wine before the price increases. Sometimes the purpose is to turn a profit and sometimes it’s for personal consumption. Someone may purchase a wine future and not receive the wine for many years. Futures are especially popular in great vintages, like 2005 Bordeaux.

Wine Wisdoms #40: The Rhone Rangers

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009 at 4:29:45 PM
by Erika S., Wine Enthusiast Companies

Rhone Rangers

“Rhône Ranger” is a term used to describe pioneer winemakers in California in the 1980s who introduced grape varieties from France’s Rhône Valley (Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, Cinsault, Viognier and more) to the soils of the region. These grapes flourished, making some of the early “Rhône Rangers” famous for the idea. It now commands a large following with even a Rhône Rangers association of which dozens of California wineries are members.

Wine Wisdoms #39: The Smell of Garrigue

Thursday, August 6th, 2009 at 1:32:55 PM
by Erika S., Wine Enthusiast Companies


Garrigue is a tasting term used to describe herbal, earthy and/or lavender-like aromas that are often found in wines from the Mediterranean basin (including the Rhone Valley and Provence). The term originates from a type of perfumed, seaside scrub-brush composed of kermes oak, herbs and flowers such as lavender, thyme, sage and rosemary. Certain circles consider it to be the best example of terroir, in that the well-made wines from this region have an undeniable, unique earthiness that can only be ascribed to the climate and soil of the region where the grapes are grown.

As featured in the July issue of Wine Enthusiast Magazine, for more great wine information visit Wine Enthusiast Magazine Online

Wine Wisdoms #38: Petite Sirah, Syrah?

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009 at 12:45:20 PM
by Erika S., Wine Enthusiast Companies

Petite Sirah and Syrah can be confused with one another when in actuality, they are 2 entirely different grapes.

Petite Sirah (also called Durif) is a thick-skinned black grape, which was an offspring of Syrah in the late 1800′s, but now it is entirely its own varietal. It creates an incredibly dense and tannic red wine that is often used for blending but can be found on its own as well. It doesn’t appeal to everyone but its fans are passionate. It even has an advocacy group, P.S. I Love You!

Syrah is a dark-skinned grape as well which yields powerful wines too, though not as dark as Petite Sirah. Syrah was first planted in the Rhone Valley of France but has now expanded globally, most notably to Australia where it’s known as Shiraz.

We offer both Petite Sirah and Syrah at

Wine Wisdoms #37: What’s Behind a Rose

Thursday, July 16th, 2009 at 2:08:21 PM
by Erika S., Wine Enthusiast Companies

Rose Wine Contrary to popular belief, rosés are not often made by mixing red and white wines. The best method is called the saigné method which is essentially the same as the process for making a red wine, but the grape skins have a shorter period of contact with the wine (maceration). This yields a more pale-hued wine, rather than a red wine. This shorter period of skin contact means that rosés not only have a paler color, but less tannin and a different aromatic profile than red wines.

Roses can be made in a sweet or dry style and from a variety of red grapes including Zinfandel, Grenache, Merlot, Mourvedre and more.

As featured in the July issue of Wine Enthusiast Magazine, read more at

Wine Wisdoms #36: Broken Corks? Don’t Stress

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009 at 12:42:16 PM
by Erika S., Wine Enthusiast Companies

Broken Cork

Corks can break and crumble on old wines, or when a clunky corkscrew causes a problem. Unfortunately this often leads people to panic: Oh no! My wine is ruined! It’s corked!

Don’t stress. If the cork breaks in half and the remaining half is stil intact, simply give it another go and see if you can extract the rest. If the cork has completely crumbled, the best thing to do is to push the pieces into the bottle so they don’t block the neck. Most likely, the wine won’t be harmed by the cork. Pour the wine and give it a smell to look for off-aromas.  If the cork is tainted, the wine smells musty, like wet newspaper, or it has no smell. In this case, you’ll have to discard the bottle. If the wine smells fine, just ignore those pesky cork pieces and pull them out as you pour.

Having a great corkscrew and a humidity-controlled wine cellar (to keep the corks moist) are two great defendants against broken corks. We offer a wide assortment of wine openers and corkscrews, wine cellars, and wine refrigerators, so you never have to deal with broken corks!

Wine Wisdoms #35: Wine Fining

Wednesday, June 17th, 2009 at 5:11:14 PM
by Erika S., Wine Enthusiast Companies


Fining is a process that goes on in the final stages of the winemaking process, typically when the wine is in barrel. Fining is used to remove unwanted sediment from the final wine. A substance is added to the wine which pulls the heavier materials together so that they congeal and can be removed from the wine in another process called racking. Most commonly egg whites or bentonite (a powdered clay substance) are used in the fining process. Fining can reduce tannin astrigency and yield a more clear wine but it is not always needed. Some wines are totally unfined, it is a choice that the winemaker makes.

Wine Wisdoms #34: What’s in a Vintage?

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009 at 4:29:38 PM
by Erika S., Wine Enthusiast Companies

Brunello di Montalcino La Lecciaia All wine, (non-vintage excluded) has a vintage year associated with it. The vintage year is always the year that the grapes were picked, regardless of how long the wine was aged.  For example, a 2001 Brunello may not be bottled and available on store shelves until 2006, due to the time it ages in oak and bottle, but the grapes used to make that Brunello were picked in 2001. Wine can age in oak or stainless steel for months or years, before being bottled.