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Wine Cellar Management: Why It’s Not Worth It

Vinted on December 15, 2008 under commentary
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HiYa! If you're new here, you may want to Sign Up to get all the latest wine coolness delivered to your virtual doorstep. I've also got short, easily-digestible mini wine reviews and some educational, entertaining wine vids. If you're looking to up your wine tasting IQ, check out my book How to Taste Like a Wine Geek: A practical guide to tasting, enjoying, and learning about the world's greatest beverage. Cheers!

Well, not worth it to me, anyway.

But before we get into the concept of wine cellar management and its possible relative worth to you, we need to talk about the related but different topics of Wine Storage and Tasting Notes.

These are not the same things as managing your wine cellar.

Wine Storage: K.I.S.S. (Keep is Simple, Suckah!)

Most of us aren’t planning on aging classified growth Bordeaux for 15 to 20 years. We’ve got wine that we plan on drinking in the next week, month, or year or two. This doesn’t require a long, drawn-out treatise and list of rules for storing all of those new bottles of vino you’ll hopefully be getting as holiday gifts.

Just follow a few simple tenants and you (and your wine) should be golden:

  • Minimize exposure to light, heat, and vibration (get the wine off the top of the fridge, STAT!), and don’t store the wine in direct sunlight.
  • Try to find the place in your home that has the least year-round temperature variation (you want the temperature to increase/decrease gradually, not spike up or down).
  • Avoid areas that are too cold (under 50 degrees F) or too hot (over 70 F).
  • Go for an area that allows you to store the wine on its side to keep the cork moist.

Tasting Notes: You need to take then. Yes, even you.

  • If you want to up your Wine IQ, you have to take tasting notes. Tasting notes are essential to help you understand what you like (and, just as importantly, what you don’t like) in wine.
  • You can make this as complex or as simple as you like, but I’d advise starting easy – easy as in Pen & Paper version 1.0. A small and portable notebook and a trusty pen are all you really need for this to get started.

As your budding wine collection grows, you will be tempted by all manner of progressively more sophisticated and complex offerings for both your wine storage and your tasting notes. Now we get into the strange and expensive world of Wine Cellar Management…

I don’t manage my wine cellar. In fact, it could be argued that my cellar manages me sometimes. OK, most of the time. Anyway, here are the reasons why I don’t actively manage my wine cellar:

  1. I’m cheap.

    Hey, the economy is in the crapper – who’s got massive spare change set aside for an annexed basement room with mahogany wine racks, custom humidity controls, and designer lighting? Not me, baby. Custom wine cellars are massively expensive, and you probably don’t need one anyway.

    My cellar has cheap IKEA wine racks to hold the bottles that aren’t still in their shipping boxes. In fact, one of my racks is leaning precariously ever more to the right, and I’ve yet to fix it. Wine cellar management solutions are also getting more and more expensive, especially the software versions – this is in part because in order for these to be useful, they need to pull from large databases of wine entries.

    The point here is to ask yourself this: Do you spend any real quality time in the area where you store your wine? I don’t – so I’d much rather put my money into the wine itself, not into its storage or management.

  2. Many collectors and experts don’t manage their cellars, either.

    I offer by way of example RUSH front man Geddy Lee, who not only plays kick-ass bass and is still writing rocking tunes well into his 50s, but also has a massive underground cellar (he’s partial to Burgundy and cru Beaujolais), housing thousands of wine bottles in his Toronto home. What method does Geddy, as an avid collector, use to track his wine?

    His brain.

If you feel compelled to track your wine purchases and tasting notes using some sort of managed system, I recommend going for one of the free solutions available on the web. This approach has the benefit of keeping a history of you wine adventures, and allows you to interact with dozens or even hundreds of other wine lovers who might be trying some of the same wines as you.

  • If you get your wine from many sources, then it’s hard to beat CellarTracker.com- it’s free, and has over 65 thousand users who have logged nearly 11 million bottles of wine.

  • If you source your wine primarily from one of the many great on-line wine clubs (check out the sidebar on the right for links to a few of these), then I’d recommend using their websites to track your tastings and stored wine bottles. Most of the on-line wine club websites have this option, along with social-networking features to let you share your tasting notes and comments with other club members.

I wish you many hassle-free hours of not really managing your cellar, but better managing and increasing your enjoyment of wine. And, of course, many more KISS and RUSH references!

Cheers!
(images: epicurious.blogs.com, kissonline.com, musicintheabstract.org)


Twitter Taste Live: The 89 Project – TONIGHT 8PM ET!

Vinted on December 13, 2008 under 1WD LIVE, twitter, twitter taste live, wine review


Another Twitter Taste Live event is upon us. Tune in right here at 8PM ET TONIGHT to catch the action LIVE.

This time, the topic is near and dear to my heart, as it involves The 89 Project, of which I am a contributing member. We will be tasting, live, selections of wines that have been rated “89 points” – blind. Things should get very interesting during this TTL!

Anyway, the action will be available live right here at this post (a recap. will also be available here after the event)…

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Hope to see you on twitter!

Cheers! (image: twittertastelive.com)

Holiday Hangover Cures: What Works… and What Doesn’t!

Vinted on December 12, 2008 under best of, commentary, holidays
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Save a Prayer for The Morning After on 12seconds.tv
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It’s that time of year again.

The time of year when websites far & wide gather together in solidarity to take part in the time-honored tradition of posting Holiday Hangover cures.

And not a moment too soon.

If you’re like me, the stress of the holidays, combined with the outpouring of good emotion when getting together with loved ones and friends during the season, invariably leads to some drinking.

Rather than contribute to the cornucopia of hangover advice that will inundate your throbbing skulls this holiday season, I thought that I’d run through some examples of the sage advice and let you know what works – and what doesn’t work – for the Dude’s hangovers. This is based solely on my own experience, and is not intended as a warranty of any kind, expressed or implied. Your mileage, as they say, my vary…

Let us take a list from the self-help site Lifehackery.com, from their post 9 Ways to Deal With a Hangover. For the purpose of making my post more humorous, I’ve combined and condensed the list into 7 methods, and added my own two to start. So we’re back to nine hangover-related items, just not the same nine as on Lifehackery.com though all nine from Lifehackery.com are actually included. Got it? No? Crap. Oh well, let’s get started anyway.

9 Methods for Dealing with a Hangover – What Works, and What FAILS

  1. Abstinence

    I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there is really and truly only one surefire way to prevent a hangover, and that is to Abstain from drinking alcohol, or at least to drink in moderation. If you’re like me, this may start out as a well-intentioned option during the holidays, but the road to Hangover Hell is paved with the puke of the well-intentioned holiday party-goer…

    Dude’s experience: RECOMMENDED (but unlikely).

  2. Hydration

    Most hangover symptoms are caused by dehydration. So, logically, drinking oodles of water to hydrate yourself when drinking alcohol will, in theory, help to prevent your hangover. This is really only effective when combined with a) relatively moderate consumption (of the booze, not the water) and b) maintaining adequate mental capacity to remember to drink oodles of water while you’re drinking your oodles of wine. Whoops!

    Dude’s experience: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

  3. Sports Drinks & Fruit

    Fast-forward to the dreaded morning after your revelry. The theory behind these suggestions is that they a) help to hydrate you more quickly than water alone, and b) contain Vitamin C, both of which may help to decrease the length and amplitude of your hangover pain curve.

    The problem is that they also typically contain a relatively high acidic content – good luck keeping that down when you’re nursing a fragile hangover stomach.

    Dude’s experience: NOT RECOMMENDED

  4. Sleep/Puke

    Sure, sleep will help, and it has the added benefit of delaying a possible awkward meetup with the person that hooked up with the previous evening. You’re just not likely to get enough of it. Personally, I find it very, very difficult to sleep once the alcohol starts to leave my system (note: additional alcohol intake to promote further sleep is NOT recommended here).

    You might feel better when you yak, but when I toss the cookies, it lays me out and I’m useless for the next 30 hours or so. Not everyone feels better when they puke – some people actually feel worse.

    Dude’s experience: USE CAUTION

  5. Swim / Cold Shower Hmm… uhmmm…. riiiiight. I suppose that hypothermic shock would make you forget about your hangover for awhile. This so-called advice feels more like the prank of sick and twisted miscreant. Bottom line is that if someone recommended this “remedy” to me, and I was insane enough to actually try it, once I recovered I would hunt that person down and kick the living crap out of them.

    Dude’s experience: NFW. EPIC, EPIC FAIL!

  6. Sweat / Urinate

    People, this works. First, you need to ensure that you get water into your lame hungover self pronto after waking up. More water will help you flush out the nasty stuff in your system (like ethanol!) that is fueling your hangover. Additionally, moderate exercise (don’t overdo it there, Hercules!) can help get you moving, get your blood flowing, and get your sweat carrying off some of that nasty stuff as well. Just don’t forget the water!

    Dude’s experience: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

  7. Hot & Spicy Food

    You need to be careful with this one, but I’ve found that it does, indeed, help to mitigate the effects of a hangover. Hot food – in terms of temperature and spice, will promote sweating, which will help to flush out your system. Go for a hot & spicy soup for bonus points, since that combo will also help to rehydrate you.

    Dude’s experience: RECOMMENDED (just not first thing the monring!)

  8. Baking Soda

    Apparently, mixing Baking Soda with water and drinking it is purported to help ease a hangover. I’ve got no idea if the science behind this is sound – or even if there is any science behind it. I just know that baking soda seems like something I would NOT want to be tasting when I’m nauseous.

    Dude’s experience: UNTESTED (but NOT recommended)

  9. Magnesium

    Magnesium is a migraine treatment, and therefore consuming foods high in magnesium might help to mitigate your hangover headache (assuming you’re not too nauseous to eat, that is). Veggies, nuts, and some teas are good sources. I haven’t tried this one myself, but I like veggies, nuts, and tea so I’m going to go ahead and recommend it – at least it’s good for your diet if not your hangover!

    Dude’s experience: RECOMMENDED

Here’s wishing you a happy (and hangover free) holiday time!

Cheers!
(images: 1WineDude.com, joemonster.org, sororitysecrets.com)

5 Reasons Why Chilean Wine Kicks Ass (Wine Blogging Wednesday #52: Chillin’ with the Chilean)

Vinted on December 10, 2008 under wine blogging wednesday, wine review

Hard to believe that an entire month has passed since we hosted Wine Blogging #51 (“Baked Goods”) here on 1WineDude.com.

But passed it has, and another WBW is now upon us – this time hosted at CheapWineRatings.com, with the theme “Value Reds from Chile!”

I am stoked for this WBW. Because Chilean wines, for the most part, kick all kinds of ass.

I recently featured a Chilean stalwart, Concha y Toro’s 2007 “Casillero del Diablo” Chardonnay Reserve, as part of an article I posted at the 89 Project. Because it kicked ass (I mean that the wine kicked ass, not the article… actually you could also take that sentence to mean that the 89 Project kicks ass, which it does… ah, forget it….).

Which begs the question, of course, Why does Chilean wine kick so much gluteus maximus?

Here are 5 reasons:…

  1. Ass-Kickin’ Geography
    You’d be hard-pressed to find a better place to grow fine wine grapes than Chile. Sure, they grow plenty of the lowly Mission grape destined for cheap
    Pisco [editor's note: wrong, Jack! Mission isn't used for Pisco!]. But Chile is also starting to realize its huge potential to grow classic Bordeaux varietals. Chile’s wine regions are varied in climate and soil types, giving it a diversity in quality wine that few other countries posses. That nasty pest Phylloxera is nowhere to be found, because it faces natural borders to the north (desert), south (ice), west (the Pacific), and east (the Andes).

Cool air from the mountains, as well as the influence of the Pacific’s Humboldt current moderate the growing temperatures, while plentiful water from the Andes provides irrigation. Grapes love this place.

  • More investment smarties than Warren Buffett
    Since opening its agricultural doors to the outside world in the 1980s, Chile has seen an influx of winemaking smarties and significant fiscal investment from wine companies far and wide. This means that Chile is getting a state-of-the art crash-course in modern winemaking and viticultural techniques, which benefits the wine.
  • Set the Wayback Machine for the late 19th Century…
    When the nasty pest Phylloxera was devastating the fine wine vineyards of, well, the entire world, many a European brought winemaking know-how – and, importantly, vine clippings – to Chile.Since Chile never had Phylloxera mucking about, it never had to resort to using grafting (onto American rootstocks) for its imported vinifera vines to survive and thrive. This means that Chilean wine is a bit like a trip back in time to the mid 19th century, because (theoretically) they taste like, well, wine from ungrafted vines. Presumably, not unlike what wine would have tasted like in the pre-Phylloxera days.
  • Ass-kickin’ quality
    Chile has lots of interesting wines across the entire price spectrum (a high-end Chilean wine recently garnered Wine Spectator’s 2008 wine of the year accolade), but it’s nearly perfected the cheap, mass-market wine offering (more on that in a bit).
  • Ass-kickin’ prices
    You can get a decent everyday quaffer from Chile for under $10 USD. I will assume further comment on this point is entirely unnecessary. But I will add that the concept seems to be popular in the U.S. – according to WinesOfChile.org, Americans consumed nearly 1.9 million cases of Chilean wine in 2007, and that was just in NY, FL, and NJ alone!

 

My example of Chilean value red is Concha y Toro’s Xplorador Merlot. You can regularly find this wine for well under $10. It’s from the Central Valley (good area in Chile, not so great in CA), and I really dig the fact that it’s got 10% Carménère (which seems to reach unique excellence in Chile), and is under 14% abv.

The wine is all plum and thyme spice. Is it complex? No. Is it good? Hell yes, for $8 it’s damn good. Amazingly, Concha y Toro seems to be able to make consistently good and cheap wine year on year, which is something that SouthEastern Australia’s equivalent mass-market wine, Yellowtail, has yet to master.

Tasty, fairly well-balanced, and ultra-inexpensive. Hard to argue with that.

BUT… Chile has a LOT more to offer than just value reds - more to come on that in an upcoming post.

Cheers!
(flickr.com/bridgepix, winesofchile.org, snooth.com)

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