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Where Our Passion for Wine & Accessories Is Shared
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About Winston's Wisdoms
Winston, the endearingly drawn gent you see raising his glass, has been the Wine Enthusiast logo for nearly 30 years—and the symbol of unsurpassed expertise in wine accessories and storage.

Winston's Wisdoms Blog is the place where our experts share their knowledge and answer some of the most commonly asked wine-related questions. It's the place where you can ask questions and share insights from your own wine experience. We welcome your feedback and invite you to offer your wisdoms to wine lovers everywhere!

Wine Wisdoms #44: The History of Hermitage

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009 at 3:45:56 PM
by Erika S., Wine Enthusiast Companies


Many wine lovers are familiar with Hermitage, the world-renowned wine from France’s Rhone Valley. But the origin of its name is an interesting story.

Throughout the 12th and 13th centuries, as battle raged in the Holy Land, legend has it that one Crusader, returning home to the Northern Rhone territory, threw down his armament and declared his days of battle behind him. Bearing Syrah vines, the man became a hermit and built a chapel on a hill, vowing that his vineyard would be his hermitage, and thus the venerable Hermitage wine region was founded. With just 331 acres of vineyards on the east side of the Rhone, the hilly Hermitage area towers over the riverfront town of Tain-l’Hermitage, and yields are low, making the wines very rare. Reds are made mainly from Syrah, but also Marsanne and Roussanne, and are renowned for their deep color, complex aromas and long cellaring life. Whites are harder to come by (account for about a quarter of production) and are made from Marsanne and Roussanne. They are known for being full-bodied and, likewise, have long aging potential.

As featured in the October issue of Wine Enthusiast Magazine. For more articles from the October issue visit

Wine Enthusiast Wine Cellar Design: A Transformed Basement with Designer Kit Racking

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009 at 8:21:19 AM
by Erika S., Wine Enthusiast Companies

Continuing with our Wine Enthusiast Wine Cellar Design Series, in which we feature real photos of our custom cellars, we travel to a transformed basement in Newton Square, PA.

Our customer, Neal, took advantage of our Designer Series Kits, giving his cellar a personal touch with the efficiency of kit racking.

Wine Enthusiast Wine Cellar Design

Neal had this to say about his new cellar:

“My basement has changed since installing the wine cellar.  It has gone from a place of storage to an oasis of tranquility you enter to get away from the crap stored in a basement.  The terra cotta colors matching the tiles of the floor give a clean yet rustic look.  the racking makes it fun to work on filling it with frequent runs to the wine store or vineyards.  Organizing it is a joy also,  with its various compartments for cases or single slots for more individual bottle purchases.”

If you are interested in building a cellar like this or of a different style, simply call us at 800.377.3330 and one of our wine storage consultants will be happy to help!

Handy Tips for the Vinturi Wine Aerator

Thursday, September 17th, 2009 at 4:31:35 PM
by Erika S., Wine Enthusiast Companies

The Vinturi Wine Aerator is an invaluable asset for softening and enhancing the flavors of wine. Mixing just the right amount of air with your wine at the precise moments, this see-through aerator allows your reds to breathe instantly. If you own one yourself, you’re already aware of its value! Based on customer comments that we have received regarding the Vinturi Aerator, we’ve expanded our product offering with a deluxe gift set, perfect for the holiday season.

The deluxe set includes:

  • A Vinturi Red Wine Aerator
  • A Beautiful stand to hold the Vinturi above your glass
  • A drip catcher screen
  • A travel pouch

Here is how it works:YouTube Preview Image

Vinturi Red Wine Aerator Brush

Beyond the gift set we also offer a cleaning brush, designed just for the Vinturi red wine aerator. It slides easily into the Vinturi to scrub at the hard-to-reach areas, leaving a spotless aerator for the next use.

We’ve also received inquiries about using the Vinturi with an old wine that throws a sediment. A great solution to this is our aerating funnel with removable screen. Place the funnel over the Vinturi as your pour your wine. The screen in the funnel will catch all of the sediment, and you’ll have clear, perfectly aerated wine in your glass. The funnel also controls the flow of wine into the Vinturi, so you won’t have problems with overflow.

Of course, the Vinturi Red Wine Aerator works perfectly on its own, these helpful tips and tools only complement it, to make it even better!

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.

How Not to Stock your Wine Cellar: A Collection of Lessons Learned in 20 Short Years

Monday, August 17th, 2009 at 12:08:49 PM
by Joe C., Wine Enthusiast Companies

As featured in the September 2009 issue of Wine Enthusiast MagazineJoe Czerwinski

Collecting wine doesn’t sound difficult, but I’ve made plenty of boneheaded decisions over the past 20-plus years. Just when I think I’ve started to figure it out, I realize my cellar is so far from where I want it to be that I want to give up and send it all off to auction. Here are some of the seemingly contradictory things I’ve learned along the way.
Good storage conditions are vital. When I first started collecting wine, I lived in a garden apartment with basement storage. Then I lived in a first-floor apartment and kept my wine in an interior closet or my parents’ basement. I have only a few bottles left from those early days, but when I open one up, it is invariably disappointing. In retrospect, I wasted several hundred dollars on Bordeaux, not to mention all of the costs I’ve incurred holding it since then. If you can’t provide proper storage, don’t buy the wine.

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

Tune in to Our Wine & Music Pairing Contest (Just Launched)

Thursday, July 30th, 2009 at 4:39:48 PM
by Erika S., Wine Enthusiast Companies

Wine and Music Pairing Contest

Enjoying a glass of wine while listening to a great tune can be a match made in heaven. The flavors and sounds harmonize together and enhance one another in a lovely way. Music and wine is simply a natural combination. As such, we’re proud to announce an exciting new contest at our Wine & Music Pairing Contest!

Here’s how it works:
Each week, we select a song from the Sony Music catalog. Tell us what type of wine you would pair with the song, and why.

Three winners will be selected each week by a voting panel of Wine Enthusiast employees
based upon originality and expressiveness.

Grand Prize: Sony Music CD prize pack, including all 10 albums featured throughout this contest and $100 Wine Enthusiast Merchandise Certificate

Honorable Mention: Sony Music CD prize pack including the current week’s featured album and $25 Wine Enthusiast Merchandise Certificate (2 Winners)

We have already been amazed by some of the fantastic entries we’ve received for this week’s selection: “America” from West Side Story, here is a little flavor for the competition:
Wine Pairing: Albariño
Wine Pairing Explanation: This is a Latin themed song so a Spanish wine
seems appropriate. The tone of the song reminds me of a block party on a
hot summer night with lots of dancing, and albariño is refreshing and has
enough fruit to be enjoyed on its own in a social setting. — Sam D.

Wine Pairing: 2005 Talbott Diamond T Estate Chardonnay
Wine Pairing Explanation: What’s best to transport you to the island of
Puerto Rico than a wine that can evoke lemon, pineapple and guava. This
tropical medley would make you side with Anita and long for the island.– Cesar M.
View this week’s song selection here, and enter for your chance to win! The contest is 10 weeks long so if this week’s selection doesn’t inspire you, simply visit the page next week. If you’re a Twitter user, be sure to use #WineMusicContest to Tweet about your entry. Let the symphony begin, best of luck!