By Allen Dale "Ole" Olson   |   Wednesday, January 4, 2017 at 6:25 pm   |   Leave a Comment »

On January 3 Wine Spectator’s Matt Kramer posted that people tend to stick to the wines they know. He had assumed this meant that they tended to buy Chardonnays, Cabernets, Merlots, and Pinot Noirs. From an Ohio merchant, however, he learned that while his premise is true, buyers actually seem to stay within about 25 types of wine. The merchant reported that while he tries to stock a variety of wines from a variety of places, his customers tend to buy the same ones repeatedly.

Matt uses that information to encourage us all to try at least one different wine on a regular basis. That way, we would all expand our knowledge and undoubtedly make new wine friends along the way.

I have found that as I have aged and become less adventuresome, I fall into that category of using the same wines again and again. Even though there are now more wines available from more different grapes and from more different places, I still head for the shelves where my stand-byes are located. Perhaps even in years past I wouldn’t have been adventurous because the opportunities weren’t there. When I began using wine, I used the limited variety available and on offer, and I suspect that for a neophyte that was adventure enough.

But I take comfort in an old French adage quoted by Guy Hibbard in the December/January issue of France Today. “Drink the wine you can afford and the wine you like.”

Afford, of course, is relative, but I have become cautious about investing much more than my daily budgeted amount for a bottle I just may not really like. In spirit, I am with Matt Kramer, but in the front lines, I follow the conflicting advice in that old adage.

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By Maria McKinley   |   Saturday, December 31, 2016 at 9:07 am   |   Leave a Comment »

For twelve years, Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher, husband and wife, wrote a wine column for the Wall Street Journal called “Tastings.” In 2010, after their 579th column, they announced it would be their last and both have continued on with their journalistic careers, Gaiter as Senior Editor at and Brecher, after the WSJ, at Bloomberg News and, most recently, USA Today.

As columnists at the WSJ, they started “Open That Bottle Night.” Annually, on the last Saturday in February, readers were asked to select a symbolic bottle of wine that was meaningful to them in the past and take a moment to reminisce and reflect. The event remains a tradition among their faithful readers. Super great idea!

A 2009 column summed up the most often-asked questions of the duo. Here are just a few of those questions and answers that remain pertinent today.

When asked about the best glass to use, they replied, “a large glass, 20 to 22 ounces. Look for clear, thin glass, a long stem, and a slight curve at the top.”

How do you remove wine labels? Gaiter/Brecher suggested taking a digital picture. If you want the actual label, they recommended the oven method. Heat an oven to 350 degrees. Turn off the heat and place the empty bottle inside the oven for a few minutes. Using oven mitts, remove the hot bottle and start to peel at a corner of the label with a knife. If that doesn’t work, they said to cool down the bottle and try to boil it off. I personally have not had good luck with that. The last resort, they reported, is to buy sticky strips at wine stores that are for that purpose. I’ve never seen that product but now I’m curious to find it.

Should I decant? “Generally, no.”

Readers asked the duo about wines they particularly like and then wanted their opinion. “It doesn’t matter.” They suggested you drink the wines you love and love the wines you drink and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, including columnists. Priceless! They said to take an example of what you like to drink and ask the wine store clerk if they have any suggestions about what else you might try that is similar. Gaiter/Brecher said “that’s how great wine journeys get started.”

I say “Happy Travels.”

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By Maria McKinley   |   Saturday, December 31, 2016 at 1:00 am   |   Leave a Comment »

Bloomberg L.P. is a data, analytics, and information business which began in 1981 and then quickly added a financial news division. At the end of 2016, Elin McCoy writes in about the climate of wine in 2017. McCoy says 2017 will be a time of experimentation and exploration and, while craft beers, hard ciders, and flavored whiskeys will continue to grow with consumers, McCoy predicts wine in 2017 will remain strong.

In the area of experimentation, you may see restaurant wine lists leave their thick leather-bound notebooks and exist in a format that can be ever-changing. Think artsy brochure or a graphic novel format. Wine packaging has a new look in some markets.  A London start-up company has designed a plastic wine bottle that is flattened like a flask so it will fit the shape of a U.K. letterbox (mailbox).

We’ve seen wine in bottles, stainless kegs, and boxes. Last year, sales of wine in cans grew by 125%. Wine cans are a cost savings compared to bottles. Cans are easy to carry around, chill faster, and are more friendly to the environment. Besides the convenience, you won’t need a wine opener or a glass. McCoy predicts more companies will try cans in 2017.

Popular French wine regions will be charging more for their wines due, in part, to inclement weather. Burgundy wines and Beaujolais will be less plentiful and therefore pricier. In the area of exploration, McCoy believes consumers will look toward the Loire Valley. Not to worry because there are great wines from that region. Grapes such as the cabernet franc, gamay, and chenin blanc are all winners and should be reasonably priced in 2017.

Champagne consumption grew by 10% in the U.S. last year. Even China is drinking more sparkling wines. McCoy says Spanish sparkling wines or cavas will be popular and a dry Italian lambrusco will be available.

2017 might be the year to drink outside the box. Try a can of wine, sample a chenin blanc from the Vouvray region of France. Check out a Spanish cava.

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