July 5, 2016
Life Long Learning #1
Part of the fun involved with learning about wine is the industry changes and evolves all the time. That means avid collectors and wine lovers have to do the same. My early wine education came from sitting in on tastings at Malaspina College in Nanaimo. Later on it was endless reading of a now extinct BC Wine Newsletter called The Wine Consumer. Then I started collecting wine books. The following list represents my earliest and most useful additions to my collection.
The Wild Bunch (Great Wines from Small Producers) Patrick Matthews 1997
Virgile’s Vineyard (A Year in the Languedoc Wine Country)Patrick Moon 2003
A Wine and Food Guide to the Loire Jacqueline Friedrich 1996
Love by The Glass(Tasting Notes from a Marriage)Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher 2002
Wine & War (The French,The Nazis & The Battle for France’s Greatest Treasure) Don & Petie Kladstrup 2001
Languedoc Rouissillon(The Wines and Winemakers) Paul Strang 2002
The New France (A Complete Guide to Contemporary French Wine)Andrew Jefford 2002
Adventures on The Wine Route(A Wine Buyers Tour of France) Kermit Lynch 1988
The Wine Regions of Australia John Beeston 2000 Very serious with historical context
American Vintage (The Rise of American Wine) Paul Lukacs 2000
A Short History of Wine Rod Phillips 2000
Wine and The Vine(An Historical Geography of Viticulture and the Wine Trade)Tim Unwin 1991 Scholarly
Red Wine with Fish(The New Art of Matching Wine With Food)David Rosengarten and Joshua Wesson 1989
The Taste of Wine(The Art and Science of Wine Appreciation)Emile Peynaud English Translation1987
A Century of Wine( The Story of a Wine Revolution) General Editor Stephen Brook 2000
Vines Grapes and Wines Jancis Robinson 1986
Vintage The Story of Wine Hugh Johnson 1989
The World Atlas of Wine (5th Edition) Hugh Johnson & Jancis Robinson 2013
Then along came the internet and access to tons of really great information. Unfortunately a lot of dreadful stuff is out there as well.
There are a few really well done newsletters /writers that are worth following. I’m going to start with two free sources.
In 2012 I heard about a newsletter called Loam Baby . http://vinous.com/products/loambaby
There are three PDF examples of this letter that focus on Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz and Napa. They are 4 years old but the information is still valid and worth adding to your Kindle for those longer flights.
My other source of free fantastic wine writing is Terry Thiese http://www.skurnik.com/terry-theise/
Terry is an import partner for Michael Skurnik Wines based in New York City. His area of expertise is Austria, Germany and Champagne. The PDF versions of his catalogue read like a novel. The wines a beautifully described and the producer profiles add a great deal of insight to your wine drinking enjoyment. If you are an aspiring importer or student of wine these are a must read.
June 15, 2016
Storage and temperature for your wine cellar is often a topic of debate around the dinner table of wine collectors. There are some basic rules of thumb regarding storage but there also some temperature issues that some wine drinkers fail to consider. I would like to write about both.
When you buy your new wine cooler from Wine Cellar Depot or have a cellar built they will recommend a storage temperature of 12-13C and a relative humidity between 50-70%. A new fully loaded cellar will probably run constantly for quite some time when you first fill it up as all those bottles represent a giant thermal mass. Once the wine storage achieves the desired temperature it will take quite some time to warm up (in the event of a power outage etc) for the same reason it takes a long time to cool down, thermal mass. Quickly opening and closing the door will dump some cold air out but will not change the temperature of the bottles in any significant way.
It is wise to consider the temperature of the retailer that you buy your wine from. If the store is uncomfortably warm in the summer it’s likely your wine has been compromised. You might store your wine properly but if the merchant doesn’t then it’s a moot point. In my opinion the question should be asked of fine wine merchants. How do they warehouse wine before it’s sold and under what conditions will the wine be delivered/shipped? IE, if I was having wine shipped from the Lower Mainland to Oliver BC it would not be my first choice to Fed EX or mail it between May and August as the wine might be exposed to high temperatures during the delivery process.
Another thing to consider is wine tourism. It’s a fabulous experience to visit wineries in the Okanagan Valley, Walla Walla, Napa etc. You can often buy older library wines or specialty products that are not available through your local retailer. Have you wondered what happens to the wine in the trunk of your car? I put a maximum/minimum thermometer in the trunk of my car in Vancouver during a warmish summer many years ago. I checked it a month later and found the maximum temperature had reached 41 C. This would be far too warm for a case of wine for an afternoon, let alone a few days of a weekend vacation. I encourage you to minimize the exposure of your winery purchases by returning your wine to an air conditioned hotel as soon as possible and have your wines in the back seat of the car with the AC on rather than the trunk.
Now we get to the best part of wine… drinking it. It has been my experience over the years that most reds are served too warm and most whites are served too cold. It has become standard practice to suggest serving reds at room temperature; however in North America we tend to keep our homes a bit warmer. My suggestion would be 17C for reds and 10C for whites. Champagne and sparkling wines might be served as low as 10C. So put a room temp red in the fridge for 15 minutes or so and take the white out and pour it 10-15 minutes before and you will enjoy your wine a LOT more.