Friday, July 31, 2009

About a boy...

I think that, on Fridays, I will write less about wine, and more about my life experiences. Some of the people reading this know me very well, others just a bit. That being said, here is the "reader's digest" version of my life-

I was born on April 9, 1977 in Great Bend, Kansas. As a kid, my parents moved around a lot, so I lived in Kansas City, Topeka, Denver, Junction City (Kansas), and Lenexa (Kansas). I went to high school at Shawnee Mission West in Overland Park, KS where I graduated in 1995. I was in sort of the student/athlete/leader type crowd, and pretty involved with Young Life and FCA. I played football, wrestled, threw shotput and discus, and was also in the choir. I also worked as a host at TGI Fridays, and later as a waiter at Houlihan's. You would have known it was me, tearing around in my 1987 Mitsubishi Mighty Max pick-up (which had a 90 hp engine....our boat had more power), with the license plate that read "Monster".

After HS, I went to Baylor University, where I studied the bottom of various beverage glasses more than I did my books. Playing rugby and bartending at Buzzard Billy's Armadillo Bar and Grillo didn't help the old GPA either. I packed up my steadily declining studies and expanding waistline to move to Kansas State, where I did much better. I graduated in 1999 with a degree in Recreation Park Administration. Don't laugh, I had to study for a test and everything. During the summers, I had been working as a wilderness instructor at Summit Adventure in Bass Lake, CA. I moved out there to work full time after graduation. I also quickly learned about things like insurance payments, school loans, and other things I couldn't afford. This lead to a move to Arkansas, where I was going to start my own guide service (I didn't), and then to Denton, TX where I studied under Tommy Nelson, pastor of Denton Bible Church for a year. During that year, I met a girl. After that year, I dated and eventually married her. We got hitched in 2003, where I had come off stints at Chick-fil-A, Wildwood Inn (where I fell in love with wine) and a Human Resources gig, and was working as a waiter at Smith and Wollensky.

The restaurant promoted me to management, and moved us to Boston. The long hours, and small paychecks of the restaurant industry finally convinced me that I would be better off selling wine. I got a job with Ruby wines, and loved it. This eventually led us back to the midwest, where I got a job at Premier Cru Wine Co, who still signs my checks today.

A couple of random factoids about me:

I love honeydew, but hate cantaloupe

I once benchpressed 320 pounds

I have had grey hairs since I was 16

My first kiss was under the stairs at Pawnee Elementary School, with Allison Hood

I snore.

Enough about me. Today's wine suggestion comes from a funny pairing last night. We drank the 2007 Pfeffingen Gewurtztraminer Spatlese with takeout chinese food, and it was magnificent. This slightly sweet wine comes from a family owned producer that has been making wine since 1622, and has a really cool spiciness (like allspice), along with notes of lychee, peach, and lemon zest. I know that 33 wine bar has some, and Niche used to. I would imagine a retailer would charge about $30 for it.


Thursday, July 30, 2009

Terms of Endearment

If you don't speak French (like me- just Spanish), then looking at a bottle of champagne can be intimidating, with all the terms on the label. I want to demistify some of them, so you can approach Champagne with a little more confidence.

First of all, let's talk sweetness. I'm going to assume that, if you are reading a wine blog, you know that "dry" is the opposite of "sweet". There are legal terms that signify how sweet or dry a Champagne is. Going from driest to sweetest these are: Extra Brut, Brut, Extra Dry, Sec, Demi-Sec, and Doux. This gets confusing because an "extra dry" Champagne is actually a little bit sweet.

Now that you are slightly confused, let's look at the term NV. This means Non-Vintage. This is a blend of different years of grapes that a Champagne house will make. They do this in order to have a "house style" that is consistent year after year. For example, if you try an NV Champagne from Gosset today, it should taste the same as when you try it again in 10 years. Many experts say that it is actually harder to make a quality NV Champagne than it is to make a Vintage (from a specific year) champagne.

The last terms we will look at are Blanc de Noir, and Blanc de Blancs. These just indicate what kind of grapes were used. Blanc de Blancs literally translates to "white of whites". Thus, in Champagne, it will be made of Chardonnay grapes. Blanc de Noir, "white of blacks", is made from Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Easy enough.

Tonight, go out and get yourself a bottle of Nicolas Feuillatte Champagne (the one with the blue label). It should cost you roughly $30, and is a great example of a quality NV Champagne.

That's all for now....I'm a bit beat from watching 15 innings of baseball last night.

Cheers, and remember- if your nose is running and your feet smell, you are built upside down.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Those of you who read yesterday's post now know everything there is to know about the production of Champagne. Well, at least you know where the bubbles come from. Today, I just wanted to cover a couple of sparkling wines from other areas of the world.

This is a sparkling wine from Spain, and is also the name of the DO (which is the governmentally regulated appellation that it comes from). The Cava DO is a bit confusing, because it is broken up, and has small patches all over Spain. The vast majority of the wine comes from an area called the Penedes in the NE section of the company, near Barcelona. They are made from Parellada, Xarel-lo, and Macabeo grapes. Most Cavas have a slightly bready taste, and should be drunk young- they don't tend to age very well. You will know it is a true Cava, as it will have a 5-pointed star printed on the bottom of the cork. Try the wines from Codorniu, or Avinyo- they are delicious, and should cost less than $15.

Break out the Bellinis! This is a (usually) dry, appley tasting wine from the Veneto in Northern Italy. It is made from the Prosecco grape, and can be made either lightly sparkling (frizzante), or fully sparkling (spumante). If you are looking for quality, look for either "Conegliano" or "Valdobbiadene" on the label (this has to do with the DOC, the appellation, that it comes from). Sometime this summer, you must buy a bottle of Prosecco (try Le Bellerive) and put some peach nectar in it. You then sip your Bellini poolside, and wonder what the poor people are doing!

The United states has several producers of quality sparkling wine. The best ones are making them from Chardonnay or Pinot Noir grapes, but some stray off that path. Just look for "method champenoise" on the label, and go for it. I have already recommended Gruet. You can also try ones from Iron Horse, Soter, Gloria Ferrer, and Scharffenberger for some quality good times.

This is a sparkling wine from Germany. They are typically made from Riesling, and fruity/sweet in style. I have only tried one, and it was okay. I would rather spend the energy finding a quality Champagne. If any of you all have recommendations on a Sekt you have tried, let me know.

Tomorrow, a brief lesson on the terms on a champagne bottle.

My wife was giving me a small hard time about talking about Champagne, but then not recommending one. I really like to drink "Grower's Champagne"- these are very small production Champagnes made by individuals in France. They just have more soul to them than the big houses. If you can find it, try the A. Margaine Demi-Sec. It is wonderfully off-dry, and refreshing. It should also set you back less than $50 (which is pretty good for "true" Champagne!)


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Methode Champenoise

Today, I will answer the question "How does Champagne get its bubbles?" by going over Methode Champenoise. This is the method by which traditional Champagne is made in France. The winemakers essentially start out making regular white or rose wine in barrels. In Champagne, the three grapes they use are Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier. Once the "regular" wine is made in a style that is high-acid and low-sugar, the fun begins. The winemaker will then put the wine in bottles, and a dosage (also known as the liquer d'tirage) in the wine. This is a syrup of yeast, sugar, and some nutrients. After it is added, the bottle is capped off with the same type of caps you see on a bottle of beer. The yeast in the dosage starts to consume the sugar, giving off carbon dioxide. This, my friends, is where the bubbles in Champagne come from. While this is going on, the bottles are inverted and as the yeasts die off, there is a sediment that forms in the wine. Through the process of remuage (or riddling), the bottles are turned so that the sediment all falls into the neck of the inverted bottle. Riddling is done either mechanically or by hand. Once the sediment has all precipitated out of the wine, the necks of the bottles are frozen in a salt water solution. The "beer cap" is then removed, and through a very fun process called disgorging, the pressure in the bottle shoots the frozen plug of sediment out of the bottle. Often a small amount of the champagne is lost in the process too. The next step is where the style of Champagne is produced. In order to replace the lost liquid, a small amount of Champagne, as well as sugar, is added back to the bottle. This is called the Liqueur d'expedition, and determines how sweet or dry the Champagne will be. The wine is then corked, and in many cases aged in the bottle for a number of years.

In the next couple of days, I will go over sparkling wines from different areas of the world. It is important to have the foundation of knowing how this glorious liquid is produced in order to realize what a wonderful thing an inexpensive yet delicious bottle of sparkling wine can be!

Today's recommendation has nothing to do with bubbles. The Snowden family is a 3rd generation winemaking family out of Rutherford in Napa. Their 2006 "Ranch" cabernet is dark, inky, and bold with notes of cassis, plum, vanilla, and as my co-worker/sommelier friend Keith pointed out this morning- potato skin. It scored 92 points in Spectator, and should cost you around $40 or $45. On a personal note, I actually talked my dad out of buying some Caymus Napa Cab, and buying this one instead. Not that there's anything wrong with the Caymus, I just think the Snowden is a better value.

Cheers, and enjoy your day!

Monday, July 27, 2009

It's hot in the Big D!

We successfully returned from my cousin's wedding in Dallas. Having lived there for 4 years earlier in my adulthood, one would think that I would remember all the things that make Dallas what it is. Here are a couple of things that I was reminded:

Taco Cabana at 12:15 am is a wonderfully unhealthy thing...and delicious

Texans really do everything bigger- The highway system is insane

The Range in Dallas is one of the greatest radio stations ever

Rick Moore (proprietor of the Pourhouse in Denton) does a fantastic job setting up restaurants, and makes a heck of a cuban sandwich

The Blue Goose must use rocket fuel in their Meltdown Margarita. Wow.

In other sports news, this week I will be posting a lot about Sparkling wine- including how it is made, and what some of the terms on the label mean. Today's lesson is pretty easy. Champagne legally refers only to sparkling wines from a specific region in France. However, this is a word that has taken on a much broader meaning in today's English- much in the same way that the words Xerox, Kleenex, and Scotch Tape refer to an entire category of products, not just a particular brand. Many people, when talking about the category of Sparkling wine call it Champagne.
For the purposes of this blog, and for the sake of keeping my thoughts organized, when I say Champagne, I am referring to the sparkling wine from France. I will also be talking about Cava (from Spain), Prosecco (from Italy), Sekt (from Germany), and be throwing the term Method Champenoise (Sparkling wine made in the Champagne method). Tomorrow will be a rather lengthy explanation of how bubbly wine is made. I'm sure you will be riveted to your seat.

Today's wine selection comes from Brazil. The Miolo family is one of the largest families in Brazilian winemaking. Their 2007 Miolo Reserva Pinot Noir is really an interesting wine. Most people, when thinking of pinot noir, immediately think of France, California, New Zealand, or Oregon- each having their own characteristics. This little pinot from Brazil has a bit of the fruity, fleshiness of California, some of the acid structure of Oregon, and just a touch of burgundian earth. It is by no means a perfect wine, but at around $12 retail, it's not much of a stretch for most people to experiment. Grab a bottle, grill some steaks, and enjoy!

Cheers, and remember- before you disagree with someone, walk a mile in their shoes. Then, if you still are in disagreement, you will be a mile away, and have their shoes! (quote adapted both from Jack Handey, and from the wine list at 33)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Gettin' all Geeky up in here

Good morning, class. Today we will be learning about malolactic fermentation. If you hang out in wine bars or restaurants long enough, you will eventually hear someone try a wine and ask the waiter/sommelier/bartender/person next to them "Did this go through malo?" I wanted to very briefly, and in as little of a geeky manner, explain what that means. Every wine goes through alcoholic fermentation. Basically, yeast converts the sugar in the grapes into ethanol (the alcohol that makes you feel funny) and carbon dioxide (which blows off into the air- except for sparkling wine, where it is captured). Some wines go through a second fermentation. This second fermentation, which is called malolactic fermentation and involves bacteria, does not produce alcohol. Instead, it takes the malic acid that's in the wine and converts it to lactic acid....think of the difference between the tart acid in apples (malic), and the creamier acid in milk (lactic). This process happens in almost all red wines, and some white wines, resulting in a softer, smoother, more complex wine. This is also what causes the "butteryness" in many California Chardonnays. However, this isn't always what the winemaker wants. That is why something like New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc doesn't go through it- they want to keep the tarter, crisper acids for those wines. So, the next time you try a wine that has either the buttery creaminess, or the "peaches and cream" thing going, it has probably gone through "malo". Clear as mud? Good.

Today, I have bubbly wine on my mind. This is probably because I'm headed to see my cousin get hitched in Dallas this weekend, and bubbly wine will probably be had. Therefore I propose that you go out this weekend and get a bottle of Gruet Blanc de Noirs. This wine is made in the champagne method (another geeky conversation for another day), but hails from the land of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. Yes, you read that correctly- New Mexico. It is a blend of 75% pinot noir, and 25% chardonnay grapes. Seriously, I would put this wine up against many of the Champagnes (from France) at 2 or 3x the price and most people wouldn't be able to tell the difference. Go get a bottle, which should cost you about $16, chill it down, pop the cork, and enjoy!

Cheers, and congratulations Emily!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A Heartwarming Story...

So, this first story has nothing to do about wine, but it made me smile. My brother is a veteranarian in Kansas City. On Sunday (his day off), I called him at about 6:00 at night. He had been out looking for a dog that got away from the clinic since 8 am- evidently it slipped away from the girl that takes care of the kennel dogs over the weekend. The owner of the dog was coming back the same day from vacation, and was obviously helping look for the dog as well. They did everything they could- calling all other vet clinics, the fire department, the aspca, and literally drove around town for 12 hours looking for it. By nightfall, still no dog. My brother told his 2 1/2 year old daughter that she could pray that the dog comes back. The next morning, he got to the clinic, and the dog was sitting in the owner's jeep, which had been left there over night. Needless to say, my niece was excited that her prayer for the dog to return worked!

2nd story also made me smile- While driving to the office this morning, I saw some dude riding a bike, listening to those old-school, huge radio headphones that cover your entire ear. Oh, and he also had a furry tail hanging off of the back of his shorts! What the...?

Now, on to wine. My suggestion today comes (once again) from Argentina. It's the 2005 Familia Zuccardi "Zeta". This is a blend of 66% malbec (aged in French oak for 14 months), and 34% Tempranillo (aged in oak from Missouri for 14 months), then bottle aged for another 18 months at the winery. It has the black cherry notes coming from the tempranillo, and the plum and smoky notes coming from the Malbec. This is a really cool wine, showing that quality tempranillo doesn't just come from Spain.

Locally, it is available at 33 Wine Bar, and Veritas. It scored 93 points parker, and has a suggested retail (from parker) of $50.

Until next time, Cheers!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Fish in a dorm room???

I'm writing this fresh off of what was one of the better nights of dining that my wife and I have had in a while. I was lucky enough to get us seats at the new "Dorm Room Dinner" series at 33 wine bar in Lafayette Square. For the uninformed, this is a series of dinners where guest chefs from around the city prepare a 5-course meal for 2 seatings of about 20 people each. This doesn't sound too off the wall, until you learn that they can only use cooking implements that would be allowed in a dorm room....such as a microwave, hot plates, and a toaster oven. The guest chef last night was Kevin Willmann, from Erato in Edwardsville, IL. Simply put, I was blown away by what this dude could do. Last month, it was Josh Galliano from Monarch, who also knocked it over the fence. Josh's menu was very pork-centric, while Kevin's was more seafood-driven. My favorite dish was sauteed cajun-style prawns with local sweet corn and tasso. They were ridiculous, and I look forward to going across the river to visit his restaurant. I'm sure others will wax in a much more poetic fashion at

I think what made the night so fun was that all the elements were there- great food, great wine, really interesting company at our table, and seeing a lot of the people that I like, enjoying themselves. My wife even told me that, for the first time in a while, she didn't think about her job, my job, or anything else. We just relaxed and had fun...oh, and saw a huge possum walk across the back fence of the outside patio.

The wines we drank:

2001 Domaine Zind Humbrecht "Rotenberg" Pinot Gris-
If you were to give this wine to a soccer mom from Maplewood, and tell her it was the same grape that is in the pinot grigio she slugs down at Olive Garden, she might spit it out on you. This is rich, extracted, minerally, and flat out delicious. DZH has been around for a long time, and create wines that are almost obnoxious in their body weight and spicyness.

2007 Heaven and Earth Pinot Noir Boheme Vineyard-
Well, James Laube sure liked it (he's a critic from Spectator), as he gave it 97 points! This was a delicious bottle of high-octane (14.5% alcohol) pinot noir. It was really interesting that, upon opening, it had a grilled meat note that gave way to cherry cola notes and fresh berries. We were fortunate to get a bottle, as there were only 292 cases made. Good choice, Jeff!

2003 Mitolo GAM Shiraz-
I like drinking older shiraz, as it shows that the wine really can age. This one was dark, brooding, with velvety tannins and a iron fist of a finish. We probably should have drank (drinken, drunk, I don't know the word to use here...) it with food, but the beautiful night called for it alone. Many appologies to the couple sitting next to us that we offended with our rather candid comments about what was evidently their favorite wine (not the wine we were drinking- our group didn't care for another wine that we were talking about, and the table next to us tried to defend it.) Oh well, can't win them all.

Until tomorrow, Cheers! and don't fry bacon in the nude.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Wine, Chocolate, and an overcooked steak

This morning, I should really be blogging about the "Javalarm" coffee I just got from Quik Trip- Kind of a wierd, bitter chocolate taste to it.

Speaking of chocolate, I tried a grill rub that had some chocolate in it over the weekend. It was from Kakao, which just opened a storefront on Jefferson, near Russel. Go by there, and grab some goodies if you are local. The fare available there is decent enough, and it's good to see an independent company trying to make it "in this economy" (a term that I have started to loathe).

I also found that the chocolate grill rub goes really well on ribeyes, and matches perfectly with my wine suggestion of the day:

2005 Yalumba "Barossa" Shiraz/viognier-

This is a step up from the "Y" series wines that Yalumba makes. It is a blend that has 5% viognier (Pronounced "Vee-own-yay") co-fermented with the shiraz. "Wait a second- isn't viognier a white grape?" one might ask. Yes it is. This is a blend that was started in the Cote Rotie (northern Rhone region of France), and has become popular out of Australia, South Africa, and America. The viognier adds a bit of a floral note, and kind of fills in the gaps where a bubble gummy, spicy shiraz may be lacking. I have also heard that there is a chemical reaction that takes place when shiraz and viognier mix, resulting in a darker-colored wine. I will have to do more research, and see if it's true.

At any rate, this powerful wine expresses notes of mocha, mint, plums, chocolate covered cherries, coffee, and raspberries. It definitely calls for food, and should zing you for about $16-18 retail.

Cheers, and maybe I'll see you at the "Dorm Room Dinner" at 33 tonight!

Friday, July 17, 2009

"You have the coolest job..."

That is something that I hear all the time. In fact, when my wife worked at Crate and Barrel, we both heard it. The truth is, I really do have a great job. I am one of a small majority of people that got to turn my hobby into my income. Seriously, what other job do you get to try some of the best wines in the world, eat at the best restaurants, and get to know some of the greatest people around? However, it ain't all roses either. I just wanted to let you all know of a couple of reasons you might not want to consider a job as a salesperson for a wine distributor.

1- you spend a lot of time alone, in your car, driving around. I know one person that this was a major reason for them quitting their job as a rep.

2- you still have a boss to answer to- despite all the glitz and glamour, I still have to be accountable for my monthly numbers, and to sell some things that my boss wants me to sell.

3- you must learn to be incredibly patient. Sometimes, I wait at a retail store or restaurant for an hour or more to show them a wine that they may not buy.

4- you do try some really crappy wine. For each of the wines that we sample that are fantastic, there are three or four that are terrible.

5- you can't fear rejection. I get told "no" every day. More often than not. It's not personal- they aren't rejecting you. They just don't need that particular wine at that given moment.

6- it leads to an almost unhealthy, expensive obsession with good wine and dining. This may or may not be a deterrant, but the truth is that eating out a lot and drinking great wines is dangerous on the pocket book, and the waistline!

Enough negativity- I still love my job!

Today's recommendation: 2007 Iris Pinot Gris from Oregon

What's the difference between Pinot Gris, and Pinot Grigio? The way it's spelled on the label. These are the same grape. Typically, if it comes from Italy, it's called Pinot Grigio, and if it's from America or France, it's Pinot Gris.

This particular one is from some vineyards that just released the Iris brand out of Oregon. The vineyards sit on the other side of a ridge from the Willamette (rhymes with "dammit") Valley. Since they don't lie within the boundaries of that appellation, Iris has put "Oregon" on the label. This also probably saves you 50% on the price of the bottle!

Go and find a bottle- should be around $15 retail. You will get some wonderful Green Apple, Peach, and lemon notes out of it, along with some herbal touches. Cook up some chicken on the grill and cole slaw, and enjoy!

Cheers, and have a great weekend!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

A note about points...

Working in the wine industry, one of the first questions you get upon presenting a wine to someone is "what did it score?". To those of you new to the wine-world, let me explain. There are several publications out there that rank wines on a scale of 50-100, with 100 being a "perfect" example of that varietal. The big publications that some people pay attention to are The Wine Spectator, and Robert Parker's Wine Advocate. Of course, there are also scores from Wine Enthusiast, Wine and Spirits, Stephen Tanzer (whom I personally like), and several dozen websites.

Even though these scales are from 50-100, in reality it's a 20 point scale. Very rarely do wines get less than 80 points. I have never seen one scored less than 70, and published. Also, there is a huge jump in people's mind between 89 and 90 points, which is pretty dumb. If you want to find some of the best value wines out there, go find some at 88 or 89 points, because the wineries won't have bumped their prices once they got 90.

The way to honestly use this system, especially for beginners, is first to find a wine that you really like. Then, go find a critic that has scored that wine highly. You can then have some indication that the particular critic you found has similar likes to yours. Following that person's palate will likely lead you to other wines that you like.

Please, I beg you, do not rush out and get the newest issue of Spectator, pick out all the 90+ point wines, and go try to buy them. Remember, this is a subjective score. It just means that one person liked that wine on one particular day. Your best bet is to get to know the people at a wine shop. Let them know what you like, and what you don't like, and have them help you pick out wines.

Have confidence in what you like. If you drink a wine, and you think it's delicious, that's the point! If you then find out that some dumbass publication gave it 78 points, don't let it ruin your joy. Drink up, and enjoy. This is, of course, unless it's made by Yellow Tail or Charles Shaw. In that case, the wine sucks and you would be better off spending your money on beer.

Also- don't pick a wine simply because it has a cool, flashy shelf talker (the little piece of paper that hangs in front of the wine on the rack). These are tools that us sales-type people use to entice you to buy our product. Some of them are legit, especially if the wine shop staff writes them. Most of them are full of marketing lingo, points from who-knows-where, and very little useful information.

Today's recommendation-
Try the 2007 Sandrone Dolcetto d'alba. This is from the producer of some of the most highly regarded Barolos in the world. (Barolo is an area in Piedmont, Italy- they make incredibly wonderful, fragrant wines from the Nebbiolo grape. They are usually also really expensive.) This Dolcetto (made from the Dolcetto Grape, near the town of Alba), costs a lot less, and is a wonderful mix of bright red fruits and old world rusticity. This should cost you around $22.


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

"Wild" wine

Today's wine recommendation comes courtesy of me watching "No Reservations" the other night. In the new episode, Anthony Bourdain visits Chile, and frankly I want to go now. Instead of hopping on a plane, I decided to open a bottle of the 2007 Errazuriz "Wild Ferment" Chardonnay. This is a wonderfully rustic bottle of chard. The green apple, pear, and pineapple notes are there, as one would expect, but it just drinks a little less refined than some of the B.S. wines from California. The oak treatment on it is more of a seasoning than a flavor. I think another reason that I like the wine is that last year I spent about a day and a half working the market with the winemaker (Soledad Meneses), who is a wonderful lady, and a lot of fun.

A quick note about "Wild Ferment"- This just means that they use the natural yeasts on the grape skins to start the fermentation process. Many wineries will innoculate the grape juice with their own, scientifically developed, strains of yeast to ferment wine, allowing them more control on the final outcome of the wine. I like the wild ferment ones, they just seem more natural to me.

Oh yeah, to those that care, this wine scored 90 points from Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, and should cost you around $15 - $17 retail.

Cheers- go drink something good!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Now that my test is over...

I'm writing this as an official "Certified Sommelier" through the Court of Master Sommeliers. Basically, this is a group that gives accredidation to wine professionals. There are four levels- Intro, Certified Sommelier, Advanced Sommelier, and Master Sommelier. The Intro level is basically a two-day lecture, and a multiple choice test. The Certified level consists of a written test, a blind tasting evaluation of two wines (determining what varietal, country, and vintage they are), and a service component.

I'm glad the test is over- it was a huge amount of stress on my and on my marriage!

We celebrated by going to Pueblo Solis (I didn't realize it was possible to drop $100 there- evidently it is), and then going for cocktails at the Hideaway (fantastic jukebox, cheap drinks).

Okay, enough of that- here's today's wine tip-

Drink Rose during the summer. Lots of it. Several years ago, rose was seen as being for old people, cheap slutty chicks at bars, and bums drinking out of paper bags. No longer is this true! Some of the new types of rose are dry, elegant, and really delicious on a hot summer day. In particular, I recommend the Crios Rose of Malbec (from Argentina), or the Guigal Cotes du Rhone Rose (from France- blend of syrah and grenache).

Can "real men" drink pink wines? Yes. Especially if you look how it is made. When red wine is produced, the color in it comes from soaking the red skins of the grapes in the grape juice. This is a process called Cuvaison, or maceration. To make rose, they usually just soak the skins a little less time. You get the structure of red wine, with the ability to drink it cold. Essentially you are drinking red wine that is just a little


Friday, July 10, 2009

The First is always the Hardest

Okay, so I'm new at this blogging thing. The only time I have done anything close to it is to update my Facebook status. At any rate, a friend of mine suggested that I start Saint Louis' first true Wine Blog. So, here it goes.

First, just a little about me. I'm a salesman for a small, independently owned wine distributor with offices in Saint Louis and Kansas City. Even though I will be talking alot about the wines that I sell, that doesn't mean that I'm going to use this as a venue to hock my own items. I love a lot of different wines, and will be talking about manyof them.

I'm married, with two dogs, no kids, and a mortgage on a great home in South County.

I hold certifications from the Court of Master Sommeliers (into course- taking my Certified Sommelier exam on Monday, July 13), and the Society of Wine Educators (CSW).

I eat out a lot, and have no problem talking about the restaurants that I love. I will very rarely speak ill of a restaurant (or wine for that matter). I feel that, if I have a problem with a restaurant, my proper recourse is to speak to the proprietor, not just blast them on some random website.

I will update as often as I can. In the meantime, I need to figure out how this thing works.

Thanks, and cheers!