It’s not often that a winemaker initiates a discussion on consumer perceptions of wines and winemakers. Especially rare is a winemaker who openly discusses his use of oak chips in winemaking. Insists that wine tastes better paired with music. Or asserts that sulfite free wines age forever. Yet, all this and more was tackled head on during an online media tasting with Clark Smith, winemaker for WineSmith Wines & Consulting and author of Postmodern Winemaking.
I wasn’t sure what to anticipate from the virtual event. One thing was for sure, though. When I received the sample bottles, I was excited to see wines rarely associated with California such as Saint Laurent and Petit Manseng.
Here’s the first thing Clark wanted to say:
“My wines are highly manipulated. ALL wines are highly manipulated. Those are not grapes in the glass. No wine is as manipulated as any beer, and that’s the truth. The foundation of our brand is total honesty.”
Even though businesses are gradually reopening here on the West Coast following the stay at home order you may be reluctant to venture out. The good news is, you don’t have to. Here are some of the top ways to enjoy wine at home. Although the list predominantly highlights Seattle based businesses, keep in mind that with today’s virtual world, many have a broader reach.
Auction of Washington Wines Virtual Wine Tasting Series
Be sure to take advantage of this series of 7 virtual wine experiences featuring a who’s who of Washington wine luminaries. Karen MacNeil, author of best-selling book, The Wine Bible (and one of my favorite wine pros!) hosts. There is no charge to register. Plus, wines may be pre-purchased via VinoSocial client Esquin for those who wish to taste along. Register now!
Avennia Tasting Kits
This is a delightful new offering from world class winery and VinoSocial client Avennia. Based in Woodinville, Washington, three different wine tasting kits are currently available. Each kit serves at least two people and contains 5 different Avennia wines in 5 oz. bottles. No contact pickup is an option. Alternatively, delivery in King County is included when purchased with along with 3 standard bottles. Purchase tasting kits now!
Belle & Bottle Wine Club
Bring wine to your doorstep via Belle & Bottle, recently named one of the best wine clubs in the country by Food & Wine. Owner Laura Huston recommends starting with the “30 Club” explaining, “I try to use a Washington wine and another wine, and keep mostly to small producers, most family owned. Monthly and at the $25-$35 price per bottle it lets you try wines and then order more if you like them.” Alternate options range from a “Bubbles Club” to a “Premium Club”. Shipping is available to most states. Sign up now!
The best way to avoid touching your face? Hoist an Aperol Spritz in one hand and a good book in the other. I kid! Kind of. Anyway, reading about wine is one way to enjoy it. Order a book fresh off the presses such as Washington Wine and Food by Julien Perry. Or make a special request. By the way, they offer free US Media Mail Shipping through the end of June. Shop Book Larder.
Cellar Muse, owned and operated by esteemed wine instructor Tanya Morningstar Darling, offers wine education online. With a myriad of certifications, her knowledge runs deep and subject matter is varied. Taking classes with Tanya stokes the fire that fuels a lifelong interest in learning about wine. Check the Cellar Muse Schedule.
Want to send a show of support to a friend during this strange time? With the tagline, “There’s a wine for that,” Chipmonkey offers highly customized wine gifts for EVERY occasion. Your BFF had to postpone her wedding? There’s a wine for that. Shop from the comfort of home.
It’s never been easier to shop at Pike Place Market, and this gourmet specialty shop offers online ordering – which includes wine! We took advantage of the no-contact pickup, but as of this writing there is also a same day delivery option in Seattle. Plus they ship across the country. Order from DeLaurenti
Even if you’re not ready to head out to wine country yet, time can be well spent researching that next dream vacation. The beautiful Destination Wineries site created by Stacee Edwards is a terrific resource. Find wine travel inspiration.
One of the best ways to enjoy wine at home is with dinner! When restaurants were required to suddenly shutter, many switched things up and began to provide takeout. Adult beverages are now often part of that offering – and wine is typically offered at a retail price. So, include a bottle with your next to go order – bonus points for choosing a selection from a local winery!
Pro tip: the best deal we’ve come across so far is the $15 a bottle offering from Ethan Stowell Restaurants. Selections rotate, but our favorite is the Frank the Tank red Bordeaux style blend crafted by talented Avennia winemaker Chris Peterson.
Virtual Wine Events
Virtual wine events abound! Options range from happy hours to educational experiences, often include winemakers, and cover a range of topics. Moreover, this presents an opportunity to taste with others across the country and the world. Out of a desire to easily find more engaging wine activities, wine pro and blogger Amber LeBeau created the Virtual Wine Events website. It’s free to use, so head on over and browse the options! Find a virtual wine event.
Cheers to the many ways to enjoy wine at home!
Please note that although some VinoSocial clients are mentioned, this is not a sponsored post.
Worlds are colliding! Innovation in the wine industry is taking shape in the form of virtual wine tasting. This enables consumers to learn about wineries all over the globe. In some cases it provides the opportunity to taste wines. It also gives wine lovers access to a number of industry experts from winemakers to renowned authors. Now, Seattle based non-profit Auction of Washington Wines (AWW) is bringing all of these components together in a brand-new Virtual Tasting Series.
Hosted by AWW Honorary Chair, Karen MacNeil, the fascinating series features a who’s who of Washington winemakers. Explore the world of their wines through 7 virtual experiences held between June 18 and August 20. Hosted by MacNeil on the Zoom platform, wine lovers may register to attend these events online at no cost! Bonus – those who wish to taste along in any or all of the sessions may pre-purchase wines at retailer partner Esquin Wine & Spirits.
The lineup of wines and wine industry greats is phenomenal! To give you a taste, the series premieres with L’Ecole No 41’s Marty Clubb, Long Shadows Vintners’ Allen Shoup and Woodward Canyon Winery’s Rick Small. Topics range from Washington Women in Wine to Red Mountain and Bordeaux Style Wine. Let the good times flow. Continue reading “Karen MacNeil Virtual Wine Tasting Series”
It’s easy to return to the familiar wines. The wines we know we like. After all, there’s comfort in the familiar, right? However, during a time when it’s critical to exercise caution in the everyday routines of our lives, wine is one aspect where we can choose adventure. Let’s talk about the less talked about wine varieties and explore Oregon’s alternative wines.
Think about wine from Oregon, and Pinot Noir is sure to come to mind. Or maybe one of the other leading planted varieties – Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, and Riesling. Each of them fine selections in their own right. However, given the choice between those or a juicy red Zweigelt or fragrant Gewurztraminer I say back the truck up and head down the road less traveled! In fact, there are over 70 varieties beyond Pinot Noir grown in Oregon.
Did you know that Muller Thurgau is the seventh most planted variety in Oregon’s Willamette Valley? In case you’re not familiar, Muller sounds like Bueller, as in Ferris Bueller – the very one that took an infamous day off. Gewurztraminer is sixth. Pinot Blanc fifth. What makes these varieties compelling? Distinct personalities. Food friendliness. Character. Ultimately, this is the kind of juice I’m craving right now.
Six of Oregon’s Alternative Wines
While in Oregon last summer on a wine-soaked journey hosted by some of Willamette Valley’s wine industry veterans, I was exposed to a number of the ‘other varietals’. These are the wines that captivated me.
Gamay Noir Brick House Vineyards $34 SRP Don’t confuse Oregon Gamay Noir for the highly promoted Beajuololais Nouveau. Although the same red grape variety is involved, carbonic maceration is not used here. Brick House practices Biodynamic farming on its 40 acres and ferments with indigenous yeast. The result is a serious wine with notes of cherry, baking spice, and slate. I was extremely excited when I saw this wine being carried at VinoSocial client Esquin! Try this if you like: Pinot Noir. Pair with: roast chicken, Asian cuisine, sausage, and special occasions.
Minumus / Craft Wine Co. $30 SRP Prepare a picnic, pour a glass of this captivating white wine, and get lost in the moment. The name of the grape is pronounced similarly to coroner but with an e instead of o. Sure, maybe coroner isn’t the best word to use but isn’t it going to be easy to remember now? The name comes from Dr. Julius Kerner who developed this delectable cross between Riesling and Trollinger. This fascinating wine inspired me to take advantage of a recent shipping deal and order more of the Minumus alt wines, Vermentino and Muller Thurgau among them. Try this if you like: Picpoul or other refreshing white wines. Pair with: bacon wrapped goat cheese atop a salad.
Sokol Blosser $28 SRP With limited free time during a day of wine education at the property, I ventured into the tasting room for a wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am sampling and purchased this bottle as a result. Sokol Blosser is one of the founding wineries of the Willamette Valley, family owned and operated, and deeply committed to being good stewards of the land. They also happen to be the first commercial producer of Muller Thurgau in the U.S. This fragrant, pretty white wine evokes spring. Try this if you like: Torrontes, or off-dry white wines. Pair with: Thanksgiving dinner. Some sweetness on the wine also lends itself to spicy food.
Left Coast Estate $50 SRP This red grape is mostly known as a blending partner in Champagne. Here it is on its own, opulent, fruity, and delightfully gulpable. I can’t wait to get my hands on more of this wine! Try this if you like: Pinot Noir, Gamay Noir. Pair with: risotto and a drizzle of truffle oil.
Native Flora $34 SRP Scott Flora’s fascinating philosophy of farming is all about experimentation and improvability. This wine is for people with an adventurous spirit who desire a glass filled with something that gets along well with food. Try this if you like: Pinot Gris. Pairs well with: light seafood.
Now is a great time to pour something other than the usual in your wine glass. Let Oregon’s alternative wines take you to another place.
From atop an Italian hillside down to the Adriatic Sea grows a grape called Pecorino. Can you visualize rows of vineyards dancing in the sun among a backdrop of craggy mountains? A little daydreaming is sure to do us good right now. So, let’s talk about Pecorino wine.
First, let’s be clear. Yes, I’m talking about Pecorino wine, not Pecorino cheese. Not that there’s anything wrong with the robust Italian cheese! It’s flavorful, salty, and part of my adulthood rather than childhood. Thus, Pecorino cheese does share some similarities to the Pecorino grape variety. The wine, however, is a little less prevalent here in the United States. Continue reading “Let’s Talk About Pecorino Wine”