We love our moms, but they can be hard to buy for. Polls show they don’t really want fitness products, beauty products, perfume, any cleaning appliance, most cooking appliances, puppies, clothes, classes, mugs, or plants.
Damn… and I had just finished an awesome hand-crafted travel mug for her take to the gym. It doubled as a plant holder.
Well, there is hope. 52% of moms prefer wine to all other libations. So, getting mom something she’ll really love this Mother’s Day is actually quite easy.
For this Mother’s Day, Drync spoke with top sommeliers and wine educators to compile two collections of wines that would make the perfect gift. A Dozen Rosés and Box of Flowers!
All are available to purchase under “lists” in the Drync Direct app, so secure yourself as her “favorite child”… at least until next year.
Mother’s Day: A Dozen Rosés
Mother’s Day: Box of Flowers
Interesting Articles about Women and Wine
Mother’s Liquid Helper
Male and Female Wine Consumers – Are They Really That Different?
Women Wine Drinkers Overtake Men
Wine Drinking Habits of Men vs Women
It isn’t always clear what philosophy you have bought into when you purchase an organic wine. And what about sustainable and biodynamic? What do these terms mean? With all the varied regulations worldwide and different levels of “earth-friendliness,” it can be confusing to know how green your wine is. Light green? Deep, forest green?
And then there is the “does it even matter” debate. In a Drync user survey, 75% of people said they feel good when they see “organic” on the label, but don’t seek it out.
The jury is still out on whether earth-friendly practices yield better wine. It is certainly possible to make both good and bad wine with organic grapes. However, the trend towards earth-friendly wines is undeniable. Here is a quick guide to what’s what:
Sustainable wine is the pragmatic approach to being “green enough.” Wine is made in a manner that minimizes its impact on the environment, but maintains the right to use both manmade and natural treatments to control pests, as necessary.
Organic winemakers need to jump through quite a few more hoops for certification. Vineyards are managed without the use of systemic fungicides, insecticides, herbicides or synthetic fertilizers. Regulations for organic certification vary in every country, but essentially any sprays or treatments must comply with that area’s organic guidelines.
Biodynamic is intense, man. It is a holistic approach focusing on the balance between the soil, vines, plants, animals and the cosmos and requires an insane attention to detail. The only treatments allowed are the slew of required hand-made compost preparations, such as manure buried in cow horns over the winter, yarrow flowers wrapped in stag’s blatter, and animal skulls filled with oak bark.
Want more? Check out these reads:
Biodynamics – The Next Trend Ray Isle, Food and Wine Magazine
If there’s a single trend in how to grow wine grapes, it’s biodynamics—admittedly an odd development for an approach based on a series of lectures given in the 1920s by Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner.
Matt Kramer: Can Athiests Make Great Pinot Noir? Alder, Vinography: a wine blog
Re-cap of a speech by Wine Spectator writer, Matt Kramer, on biodynamic wines at 2013 New Zealand Pinot Noir Conference.
My Argument for Organic and Biodynamic Viticulture Blake Gray, The Gray Report
Here, in four words that wine businesses won’t like, is the entirety of my argument for certified biodynamic and organic viticulture: I don’t trust you.
Is Eco Better? Lettie Teague, Food and Wine Magazine
Skeptical about the “greenwashing” of the wine industry, F&W’s Lettie Teague explores the fast-growing world of natural wine to find some great bottles.
Many Wines Toast to Mother Earth David Falchek, Times Tribune
In this new era of conservation consciousness, most wineries and producers – even those with no formal certification – are working harder to do the right thing by reducing their carbon footprint or energy usage, and treading more lightly on the environment.
Or check out these videos:
Ahhh the holidays. A joyous time to eat, drink and be merry… but nothing brings merriment to a halt like poor planning in the beverage department.
So, how do you know how much and what to serve? I’ve been planning wine events for about 15 years now and have mostly kept industry secrets to myself, but ‘tis the season of giving!
Let’s begin with how much wine.
A simple calculation is 1 glass per person, per hour. You can get about 6 healthy-sized glasses out of a bottle. A quick way to estimate for large parties is 12 btls of wine per 100 people for every hour. This allows for a glass per person per hour.
For the holidays, sparkling should be above and beyond this calculation. Pour half glasses of sparkling at parties to avoid waste and loss of bubbles (folks can always get a refill!) With that, you can get about 10 half glasses per bottle. Factor in a half glass per person.
Here’s a quick cheat sheet for a 4-hour party with bon vivants:
25 people 12 bottles of still wine (1 case); 3 bottles of sparkling
50 people 24 bottles of still wine (2 cases); 5-6 bottles of sparkling
100 people 48 bottles of still wine (4 cases); 10 bottles of sparkling
Now for which wines to serve.
Obviously you need white and red. If you know your crowd likes one type over another split it 60%/40% in its favor. If you aren’t sure, do ½ red and ½ white.
People tend to have more white aversions than red, but you should offer a choice within each category.
For white – Whites can be tricky, because people tend to have specific preferences regarding oak, sweetness and pungency – all which range quite a bit in white wines. At a minimum, do an oaked white (eg. Chardonnay) and a non-aromatic unoaked white (Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Muscadet, or virtually any white wine from Italy, Spain or Portugal). If you plan to serve more than two white wines, you can mix it up and introduce a white wine that is aromatic (eg. Torrontes, Sauvignon Blanc, Muscat) or slightly sweet (eg. Riesling, Chenin Blanc, Moscato).
For red – Red wine drinkers tend to fall into two categories – old world and new world. At a minimum, try to offer one of each. From the new world, try a medium to full-bodied red with some oak on it – Cabernet, Shiraz/Syrah, Zinfandel, and Malbec are good contenders in this department and can all be found at reasonable prices.
From the old world, opt for a medium-bodied wine with little oak influence. Fortunately, this is pretty easy to find, as oak is typically saved for only the more expensive wines in the old world. Italy is a great resource for elegant old world reds: Barberas, Dolcettos, Chianti Classicos, Valpolicellas are some common and affordable Italian reds. Also explore the reds from the Languedoc and Loire in France, as well as grand cru Beaujolais.
Here’s what we had at our holiday party. No one NEEDS this many wines, but they were certainly quite fun to have… Fa la la!
|Louis Bouillot Cremant de Bougogne NV||France, Burgundy|
|Renardat Fache Cerdon du Bugey Rose NV||France, Bugey|
|Segurra Viudas Cava NV
|Thelmo Rodgriguez Basa Rueda 2011||Spain, Rueda|
|Corey Creek Gewurztraminer 2010||New York, Long Island|
|Hess Select Monterey Chardonnay 2010||California, Monterey|
|Lageder Muller-Thurgau 2011||Italy, Veneto|
|Domaine de Belliviere Jasnieres Premices Chenin Blanc 2010||France, Loire|
|Elk Cove Pinot Gris 2011||Oregon, Willamette|
|Seresin MOMO Pinot Noir 2009||New Zealand, Marlborough|
|Pozzan Annabella Napa Merlot 2009||California, Napa|
|Casa Lapostolle Cuvee Alexandre Cabernet Sauvignon 2010||Chile, Colchagua Valley|
|Chateau de Lascaux Rouge 2009||France, Languedoc|
|Raffault Chinon Les Galluches 2011||France, Loire|
|Enrique Foster Malbec Reserve 2007||Argentina, Mendoz|
|Sandrone Dolcetto d’Alba 2010||Italy, Piedmonte|
The wine pool grows as US beats France and Italy in worldwide wine consumption; How to choose with so many choices?
The United States is home to an unprecedented quantity and quality of wine values and the pool continues to grow. Why?
Well, for one, wine consumption in the US is en fuego. A resurgence of wine consumption in the millennium ultimately led to the United States passing France in 2010 for the percentage of wine consumed in the world. According to a MarketResearch.com study, the U.S. wine market is expected to reach $33.5 billion in sales by 2013. In short, the US leads the WORLD in wine consumption and continues to grow, while in France, Italy and Germany (#2, #3 and #4 on the list) are in decline.
As a result, wineries want their products HERE. Producers from all over the world prioritize the US market for product launches and allocations. This makes for a large pool of wine and fierce competition, which ultimately translates into overall better quality wines at lower prices.
This is obviously great for consumers, but it can also make finding a wine you love a daunting task. Where to begin with so many choices? There is an abundance of reasonably priced, interesting, handcrafted wine in the market. Here are a few quick tips on finding cool wines and good values from around the world:
Explore funky regions and varieties.
For example, Spanish whites, although difficult to pronounce, are often floral, aromatic, with tons of minerality that wouldcommand a pretty penny if from somewhere else.There are also some amazing wines coming out of the French Languedoc. Several areas have been approved for Grand Cru status and hence have a strong incentive to make the finest wine they can, often using local grape varieties – look for wines coming from Corbières Boutenac, Minervois La Livinière, Pic Saint Loup, La Clape, and Limoux.
Give a passé region a second chance.
Wake up and smell the Shiraz, America! You loooooved Australian wines six years ago. And now, you just walk on by those cute little critter labels.
True, our mates down undah went astray there for a while, but they have been trying to win you back by doing the right thing and focusing on good wine again. You’ve just been ignoring them. And with the stellar 2010 vintage being released in a few months, it might be time to give them another looksee.A bonus tip: go for the higher end – it will still be a good deal and the juice is bound to be exponentially more impressive. Also, if you like crisp whites, take some time to explore Aussie Riesling from the Clare and Eden Valleys. It’s incredibly DRY, crisp and complex – lime, petrol, slate – and ages amazingly as well.
Think cheap and trade up.
Being known for value wine is a blessing and a curse. Everybody wants you, but your good stuff tends to get overshadowed and undervalued by your reputation for being cheap.
Case in point, wines from Argentina and Chile. Many of their vineyards were planted close to 200 years ago. Entry-level wines are often made with 50 year-old vines and because of their high altitude; they are often naturally organic and even biodynamic.
They have all of the elements to make some of the most beautiful wines in the world, and they do! However the higher-end offerings from these regions often go overlooked and don’t command the price they arguably should. As a result, $30 goes REALLY far in the South American wine section.
For lighter reds, Beaujolais is a magnificent place to trade up. Beaujolais has 10 Grand Cru regions that produce thoughtfully crafted, naturally made, elegant wines with significant complexity and even age ability. They offer some of the best quality-to-price ratios in the wine world.
Think expensive and trade down.
You like Champagne? Try a Cremant de Bourgogne – same grape blend as Champagne, regions are quite close to one another and at the end of the day not THAT dissimilar, and it is in the best interest of those producing Cremant de Bourgogne to make it as similar to Champagne as possible.
You like Brunello? Try a Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. Both are made with Sangiovese Grosso and regions are about 30 minutes away from each other in southern Tuscany. They both age well, though Vino Nobile is often more approachable in its younger years.
Buy what YOU love
The bittersweet reality of having so many wines in the market is that choosing a wine you’ll love without trying it first can be a real gamble. Recommendations are plentiful, but they are all too often based on someone else’s opinion.
That said, if you don’t like the wine, it is not an amazing value no matter what the price, rating, or recommendation. The only way to truly find a good value is to buy what YOU love.
By Daniel Rodriguez, Drync employee
When I did my wedding registry several years ago, I had the perfect opportunity to upgrade my wine glasses to something more than a haphazard array of stemware, barware and plain old juice glasses. Armed with a scan gun at Williams Sonoma, we opted for the Riedel Grape Series and, for simplicity sake, decided on a single style for white and another style for red wine. Today, I realize that I didn’t really know what I was doing.
1. The Bowl Shape Has a Purpose
Nobody questions a huge, deep bowled wine glass when served with red wine. The problem is that nobody thinks a white wine can be served in a wide-bowled glass. The Grape Series did have multiple choices, but since chardonnay is such a universal grape we figured we couldn’t go wrong with the chardonnay glass. I can’t count how many times people ask, “Is this a red wine glass?” when I pour them a glass of white wine in the chardonnay glass. But it’s like that for a reason: full-bodied, rounded white wines are best delivered on the sides of the tongue and mouth, whereas crisp, acidic wines like reisling and sauvignon blanc go well through the middle of tongue and should be used with a narrower bowl. The same rule goes for red, with big cabs tasted best straight into the mouth (meaning narrower bowl) and pinot, especially the earthy kind from Burgundy, needing a deep bowl for the aroma and wide mouth to deliver the acidic flavors to the sides of the tongue. Bottom line: if nobody knows the difference, get a white wine glass that looks like a white wine glass and a big red glass that makes people feel cool while drinking a killer red.
2. Spend What You Can Afford to Drink
This is a personal pet peeve more than anything, but I can’t stand it when nice restaurants serve you a $60 bottle of wine in a thick-rimmed glass goblet. My philosophy is that the stemware should cost approximately as much as the bottle of wine you would bring to a dinner party. The Riedel Grape Series runs for $40 for a burgundy glass– the same amount that I like to spend for a friend who likes wine. If you find yourself taking out a second mortgage because you broke a glass, you’re spending too much. But please, no goblets…
3. Lead Crystal Isn’t Just a Fancy Word
Without getting overly technical, lead in your wine glass is a good thing (unlike the leaded paint in that old apartment you just bought– lead can’t get out of the glass once it is set). When we refer to crystal, we typically are referring to lead crystal, which allows us to make the distinction from clear glass, which is also called unleaded crystal. Besides having a better weight and being better for shaping, lead crystal (24% lead makes it full lead crystal, by law) has a very cool benefit to the wine: if you looked at the surface through a microscope, it would look rough, like sandpaper, allowing tannic wines to soften in the glass and “open up”. Regular glass is smooth and, therefore, lame, so go ahead and seek out lead crystal.
I’m sure I’m only scratching the surface (no pun intended) and if you have some things you have learned about your stemware, I’d love to hear it in the comment section! And for the record, I do love my Riedel glasses. Just don’t put them in the dishwasher.
By Julia van der Vink
Unlike us millenials who are into biodynamic wines fermented in clay pots until the sun strikes the tropic of Capricorn…my mother prefers to drink Bordeaux, thank you. She is also into Chianti, Brunello, White Burgundy, cool-climate Pinot, and an assortment of blends from the Northern Rhone Valley. Her preferences are sophisticated, but narrow. They were established by familiarity with region, and over time, they have become cemented by habit.
Introducing her to new styles of wine is my ongoing project. And it has required patience, elaborate behind-the-scenes manipulation, and baby steps. She’s recently begun a magnificent love affair with Riesling, (a huge win for me), but for the most part, despite the slew of “hip” and “new” wines I push at her, she rejects my advances.
Lagrein? “I don’t know, it feels too thin…”
Carignan? “I’m sorry Julia. That tastes like dirt.”
Biodynamic Garganega from Soave? Eye roll.
And then came Lambrusco.
Just when I was poised to raise the white flag of surrender, Lambrusco became my mother’s new drink of choice. I didn’t even see it coming.
Lambrusco is the best-known grape variety in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, where it produces bone-dry sparkling red, rosé, (and sometimes even white), wines that are lush, fruity, and delightfully acidic. As Lambrusco believers will point out, however, the grape lived through an unfortunate era of misunderstanding. Its serious reputation as a dry, sparkling red wine has been long-slandered by the saccharine jugs of Riunite Lambrusco that used to populate supermarket shelves in the 70’s—until White Zinfandel replaced Riunite as the mass-market swill of choice. As has always been the case, real Lambrusco can be excellent. The wines are playful enough to slurp all summer long, yet serious enough to serve with a filet mignon.
As producers go, I recommend the Lambrusco Rosso, Lambrusco Rosé and Lambrusco Bianco from Lini Oreste. Although Lambrusco Rosso is by far the grape’s most popular style, I recently enjoyed the rosé paired with my roommate’s industrial-strength beef lasagna. The nose has fresh bright notes of raspberry and red cherry. It is dry and fruit-forward on the palate with tart notes of cranberry and black plum, and a characteristic structure of frothy, fumbling bubbles that makes it feel more endearingly easy-going than most sparkling wines and Champagnes.
Lambrusco is extremely food friendly, with flushing acidity, and an overt, delectably briny finish. If possible, imagine a refreshingly tart and fruity mouthful of seawater. The rosé would also be a perfect pairing for grilled chicken or risotto. Lini’s darker Lambrusco Rosso is a touch heavier, and would pair well with a grilled steak or burger. The harder to find Lambrusco Bianco (my mom’s favorite) is lighter than the Rosé, and is an excellent pairing for any aperitif.
Lambrusco is served chilled, and is a perfect wine for summer. Fortunately the wines are fairly inexpensive (~$20). So go slug some Lambrusco, it will definitely surprise you. To quote my mother, “I drank Lambrusco, and then on the seventh day, God rested.”
By Julia van der Vink
In continuing with a systematic approach to wine tasting, the next step after evaluating the appearance (Part I), is to smell the wine. Because one’s sense of smell is more discerning than one’s sense of taste, this is perhaps the most critical part of the tasting process.
Part II: The Nose
1) Swirl the wine in your glass before sniffing deeply. Although, you will have already swirled the wine once to check for legs, the purpose of swirling again is to aerate further the wine and liberate its full spectrum of aromas. As the wine coats the side of the glass and evaporates, it releases its bouquet. *Note: Do be wary of the overzealous floor slosh. It has an uncanny tendency of occurring when one is wearing borrowed clothing.
2) Stick your nose in the glass, and inhale. This step is fairly self-explanatory. And there is no proper technique related to how many sniffs you should take, or how far you should put your nose into the glass. Do whatever works for you.
3) Look for faults, and determine if you should send a wine back. For all of you who have ever shared my restaurant ordering-anxiety, this is the step to pay attention to. When you assess a wine’s condition to determine if it is “clean” or “unclean” you are looking for a few tell-tale smells. Cork taint is the most common fault that can be picked up on the nose, and it affects about 5% of all wines. Cork taint smells of mustiness, wet basement, wet cardboard, or in the most severe cases, moldy gym socks. Cork taint affects wine with varying degrees of intensity. Even if only faint on the nose, it is usually more pronounced on the palate. Some more subtle faults to look out for are excessive sulfur dioxide, and oxidation. Excessive sulfur dioxide is most often found in cheap white wines and has a smell of burnt matches. Oxidized wines will have lost their vibrant fruit aromas, and smell like burnt caramel. Spark notes: avoid wet cardboard, burnt matches, and burnt caramel.
4) Determine if the wine’s state of development is consistent with its vintage. A young wine will have different aroma characteristics than an older wine that has had time to soften and harmonize. If a wine is young, you will be mostly picking up “primary aromas” (i.e. characteristics of the fruit, and specific grape variety), and sometimes a few “secondary aromas” (i.e. aromas derived from the way in which the wine was made). If you are drinking an older wine, however, expect more complexity. There will be more pronounced secondary aromas, as well as specific “tertiary” aromas that develop with bottle aging.
5) Describe the character of the aromas. Describing character is one of the most personal parts of tasting. Everyone has their own Rolodex of familiar smells and tastes. One man’s blackberry may be another man’s boysenberry, and some of us have no idea what “cassis,” and “milk thistle” smell like, and no interest in learning what “sweaty saddle” means. However, with practice, you will learn to associate certain aromas with different grape varieties and regions. Below is a list of words to describe aromas that I find useful and have extrapolated from the Wine and Spirit Educational Trust. Your own Rolodex of terms will quickly expand if you try mentally cataloging the smells in your spice cabinet, or start paying attention to the smells of different fruits, vegetables, etc. that are all around you. Think of it as a little homework assignment.
By Julia van der Vink
I have an irrational anxiety about ordering wine at restaurants. It is not selecting the wine that bothers me; it is the moment when the waiter/sommelier brings out the wine, pours a taste, and benignly waits for my approval before serving the rest of the table. There is something about this situation that obscures everything I know about wine with a 30 second spell of self-doubt. Is it corked? No, that’s earth. No it must be corked…
After systematically tasting more and more wines, I have gradually overcome parts of the performance paralysis. However, it occurs to me that I was never alone in my discomfort. I have observed a few different wine-tasting methodologies, including but not limited to: the self-conscious swirl n’ sniff, the thoughtful “mmm” and nod, the random rattle of vaguely relevant facts, and the irreverent pour-guzzle-repeat.The fact is that few people know how to taste wine, including many wine lovers and serious drinkers.
I do not mean to argue that there is only one way, or even a so-called “right way” to taste wine. As far as I’m concerned, there is certainly a time and a place for guzzling. But there is also a time to evaluate wine more deliberately. Many people don’t fully inhabit the opportunity simply because they are intimidated by the pomp and circumstance. They in fact underestimate their ability to understand the wine simply because they are unsure of what they are looking for. However, no matter how many raised eyebrows and sardonic smirks you receive, the best way to truly understand what is in your glass, is to employ a systematic approach to tasting.
Part I: You can learn a lot about a wine just from looking at it
1) Check for clarity. Does the wine look cloudy or murky? If you’re unsure, it may help to hold it up to a light. If a wine is too old, has been badly stored, or had a bad seal, poor clarity will warn you of these faults. A sound, well-made wine should always be clear. Note that some red wines produce natural sediment that settle at the bottom of the bottle; this is fine.
2) Assess color and intensity. The best way to judge color and intensity is by tilting the glass 45° against a white background. This can reveal information about the wine’s age. If you’re drinking a red wine, is the color purple, ruby, garnet or tawny? Purple is an indication of youth in red wines, and they get paler and more brown in tone as they get older. If you’re drinking white wine, is the color lemon, yellow or gold? Green is an indication of youth in white wines, and they get darker and more golden as they age.
3) Is the wine transparent or opaque? This can tell you a lot about the type of grape that was used to make the wine. Thick-skinned grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot will appear much more intensely-colored and opaque in the glass than thinner skinned grape like Pinot Noir, Tempranillo, and Sangiovese. (This is also an important tip for blind-tasting).
4) Look for legs. Swirl the wine to test its viscosity, then wait for the legs or tears to fall down the side of the glass. These normally suggest high alcohol content or residual sugar. The thicker the legs, and the more slowly their fall, the more full-bodied the wine.
Stay tuned for Part II: Aroma