Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Aussie Three of Consistency

The Aussie Three of Consistency (for not much money): Yellow Tail, Lindemans and Jacob's Creek. Look around the internet a bit and you'll find wine snobs abound criticizing these brands often as mass produced, boring, destroyers of the Australian wine industry etc. Perhaps there isn't giant amounts of individuality here but you'll find great consistency for not much money and lets face it in today economic shambles such attributes are king.

Anyone (especially business people) could admire what Yellow Tail has accomplished in a short period of time. They've enveloped a large amount of market share in the US and become the number 1 importer of wine. Ingredients: A cool friendly memorable bottle image, fruity+sweet wines, low out of pocket cost for the consumer, consistency and savvy marketing.

In the same price range don't forget other choices like Lindemans and Jacob's Creek (even if their labels aren't as cool). I find that Lindemans' Bin series to have better overall tasting qualities than Yellow Tail but many times the price point is not as good.

Jacob's Creek is my favorite of the 3 because I have the most memorable experiences with this brand. My personal pick of the 3 brands value offerings would be Jacob's Creek Grenache Shiraz with its pleasant raspberry aftertaste and medium body.

When I walk in the wine store looking for value ($11 for 14 for a magnum bottle) and consistency the Aussie Three of Consistency deserve consideration. They are a fine choice especially for the daily drink as well as for the beginning wine drinker. Bear in mind that all 3 brands offer higher scale wines as well.


Friday, April 10, 2009

A Complex Taste for not a lot of Money

Masciarelli Montepulciano d' Abruzzo (about $8 for a 750 ML bottle) is a wine I would purchase again as I found the taste to be out of the ordinary and the price tag to be wallet friendly. It comes from Italy's Abruzzo region (recently devasted by an earthquake that claimed many lives and damaged great antiquities) and is of the grape Montepulciano (wines of this grape usually have a medium to thick body). When I first smelled Masciarelli Montepulciano d' Abruzzo I thought it had an almost nutty aroma. Later I encountered a more floral smell. This wine is definitely on the dry side and interestingly the taste is of tobacco/clove. This was a bit different than some of the other Montepulciano d' Abruzzo choices (including Citra's which is a good value value as well at around $10 for a 1.5 L ). If you don't mind springing for $8 dollars and are looking for something different (not easy in the under $1o category) Mascarielli Montepulciano d' Abruzzo may serve well on the dining room table. In fact I might even purchase a bottle of it myself today.


Saturday, April 4, 2009

Store to Store

Today I went into a local wine store I visit from time to time. When I was looking around I noticed good sized priced discrepancies on what I usually pay for wines in a more frequented store. I can't say that everything was more expensive (in fact the wine I purchased: Georges Deboeuf Cabernet Sauvignon was priced a dollar less than the other store) but most wines were. Some other examples of price discrepancies were todays store's Yellow Tail varietals were 2 dollars more the frequent stores. Beringer Nights Valley was cheaper in todays store but Beringer California Collection Cabernet Sauvignon was much cheaper (we're talking almost 2 dollars on a wine that's already under $10) in the frequent store. My point is that if you have access to multiple wine stores in your area it can save you money by shopping around and taking note of the price nuances.


Friday, April 3, 2009

Wine Terminology

Getting Down to Basics with Basic Wine Terms

Author: Phillip Wainwright

There are some basic wine terms that everyone should know before choosing wine to buy or drink. Like most industries, there are certain words which are used as a matter of standard practice. It is important to understand the terms so you know exactly what the wine description is telling your or so you can describe the wine appropriately.

Speaking the Language of Wine

Every industry has its own language. The language has developed over many years and each word has a very distinct meaning. In the world of wine, only certain words can accurately describe a wine or an impression after drinking a wine.


Acidity refers to the acid taste the wine has which is in reference to the sharpness of the wine taste.


Aroma is a term used to describe how the wine smells (or ‘bouquet’). The aroma a wine has is related to the type of grape or botanical used to make the wine. For example, a wine may have a flowery aroma or an earthy aroma.


The term ‘balance’ in the world of wine alludes to how the many qualities of the wine blend together without any single quality overwhelming the others. It can also be used to define the pairing of the wine with food. Balance is another word for the harmony of the various wine elements.

Body (Weight)

The body or weight of the wine is the texture you feel on your tongue or in your mouth while drinking the wine.


When you let wine breathe, it means you are exposing the air to oxygen. For example, when you open a bottle of wine, the air mixes with the wine.


The term decant can mean one of two things. It refers to pouring the wine out of the bottle into a different container. It can also refer to pouring the wine slowly so the sediment is not disturbed. In the first case you are allowing the wine to breathe and in the second case you are preserving the clarity.


Dry wine is wine that has very little sugar in it. A dry wine may be mildly sweet or not sweet at all.


Fermentation is the process during which the crushed grapes are combined with yeast so the grape sugar turns into alcohol.


The finish of wine is the last impression the wine leaves as you swallow. You may describe a finish as smooth or harsh.

Fortified Wine

Fortified wine is wine that has had other alcoholic spirits added. It may contain brandy for example and it usually contains higher alcohol content than unfortified wine.


A full-bodied wine is one which makes the taste buds feel an intense flavor and can even feel heavy or thick.


A harsh wine is a biting wine that leaves an unpleasant taste in the mouth. It is a wine that has too much acid or too much tannin in it.


The palate actually refers to the roof of the mouth and it is where the wine first hits before inundating the taste buds on the tongue.


Sediment is the remnant of the grapes or even yeast used in the production process. In high quality wines sediment is kept to a minimum.


Tannin is a substance found naturally in the grape seeds and stems. Tannins can make a wine taste very dry or bitter unless properly managed by the winemaker. Tannins can cause the mouth to pucker. Over time, as wine ages, tannins will mellow.


A wine labeled as varietal is one made with a dominant grape variety. The name of the wine usually indicates the name of the varietal grape. This makes it easy to read a wine label and identify the varietal grape.


The vintage is the year the grape was harvested.

These are just the main terms used to describe wine. There are many others, but if you know these basic terms you can speak the language of wine.

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Monday, March 30, 2009

A Wine's Country of Origin

Should the country of origin matter when selecting wine? Recently I pondered this thought because out of the last 5 French wines only 2 were completely satisfying to me. One of those choices I mentioned in an earlier post and consider it to a good one for the daily wine drinker: Georges Deboeuf Cabernet Sauvigon. It falls into the Vins de Pays classification which allows this French wine to characterize itself as a Cabernet Sauvignon (most of the time the region of France classifies the wine). The other pleasing French wine that I would certainly drink again: Paul Joubelet Parallel "45" Cotes du Rhone 2006 vintage(Rhone is the category and is a valley in France). You can purchase this within the 8 to $11 per 750 ml bottle range. The point is just because a wine comes from California, France, Italy etc. it doesn't make the wine. Though perhaps it could serve as a general starting point before getting more specific like region, varietal, vintner, importer, budget etc.


Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Most Important Factor

If you're buying wine for yourself there is nothing more important than pleasing your own tongue. Price doesn't always equal enjoyment. Why diminish the green in your wallet more for something you don't like. If you're just starting to drink wine its a good idea not to go overboard on the price. Perhaps start with trying a few value priced varietals to get to know what's pleasant in that regards. I find that you can get something decent to start for 9 to $11 for a 1.5 liter bottle. You could try some of the varietals (Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot etc) offered by some decent brands like Yellow Tail and Barefoot. Once you know what varietals you enjoy and don't mind spending a little more go ahead. The $10-20 dollar range for 750 ML has many choices that I find to be good. Recently I had Hayman and Hill Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Reserve 2006 for $13 that I found to very enjoyable. Of course tasting will give you the best idea of what you enjoy but so will knowing which wines pair with foods. Winedin has an interesting online pairing tool. As I drink wine daily I have my daily choices that I try to keep in the 9-$14 range for a 1.5 bottle. The 2 wine brands first mentioned for me fall into that category which also includes: Lindemans, Georges Deboeuf and Jacob's Creek. Usually once a week I'll part with a little more money for a bottle. Last Sunday it was Beringer III Century Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 ($12 for 750 ML). Recently my spouse and I took a bottle of William Hill Estate Chardonnay ($18 for 750 ML) to a byob Sushi restaurant. Less frequently but at times I don't mind spending a little more crisp green paper for liquid grape artwork. That's just me and remember you're the expert of your own preferences.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Like Rare Wines and/or Collecting?

Vinfolio has quite a selection of rare wines including cult wines like Screaming Eagle. The have an advanced wine search tool that appears to be quite helpful. If you're interested in investing in wine they offer services like wine advisory that will help you make selections. Their investment services also provide value tracking. Vinfolio offers storage and personal cellar management as well.

Cabernet Napa Wine