Interesting Fact

What’s a wine aerator?

I got a cute little ram aerator for Christmas. I kind of knew what aerators were supposed to do, but had never really used one before that gift.

An aerator is something you stick in the top of your wine bottle; when you pour the wine through it, air gets mixed in. The same thing happens when you let your wine sit open or swirl it around in the glass. It’s what fancy wine people call letting your wine breathe.

Air is supposed to let the flavors settle down and mingle. Ever had a wine that’s supposed to be really good, but the first time you pour it out of the glass, it’s super puckery and leaves you with an alcohol punch to the throat? Try an aerator to calm that baby down.

Using the deliciously fancy aerator gifted by the lovely @ak_scrumpy on this fine evening

A video posted by Wine For The Win (@wineforthewin) on

Not all wines need an aerator. They’re typically used on red wines, particularly young ones.

If you’re into an aerator that looks like an animal is puking wine into your glass, like I am, you can find them here. You’ll also see them at wineries all over Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, et al.

Audacia Winery Says Goodbye Sulfites, Hello Rooibos

The rooibos tea latte at Starbucks is my jam on days I am too hyped up for caffeine, so when I heard about a South African company using rooibos chips as a wine preservative, my ears perked up.

Audacia Winery has patented the technique, which reduced traditional preservatives like sulfur dioxide by using the natural one–a plus for folks like me who are technically allergic to sulfites, but drink wine anyway.

Trevor Strydom, a managing partner at Audacia, told Reuters that he, along with the company’s winemaker dropped rooibos teabags in wine to experiment with the effects. And they were pleased by the effects. While rooibos leaves are used for tea, it’s the wood chips that Audacia incorporates into its process.

Check out Strydom’s conversation with Reuters in the video, below:

Wood has long been incorporated into winemaking–think oak barrels and chips, which are thought to be more sustainable than the former–but not rooibos chips.

Rooibos has no caffeine and is low on tannins, making it a good option for winemaking. Strydom told Vice last year that the rooibos wine could cut back on headaches.

Rooibos and honeybush chips are used to make Audacia’s Merlot, which has a sulfur dioxide level of 3 mg/liter, according to wine-searcher.com. I was curious and checked my wine bottles at home, but most say “contains sulfite” and not an exact amount. But Winemaker Magazine instructs that the rule of thumb for sulfite concentration is 25 mg/l to 50 mg/l with 100 mg/l being used if you’re using moldy grapes.

$300,000-worth of stolen Napa Valley wine found in North Carolina

The majority of the $300,000-worth of wine stolen from French Laundry, a very fancy and famous restaurant in Napa Valley, on Christmas has been found…in North Carolina.

Most of the 76 bottles have been accounted for, but some are still missing, local police said. The stolen loot included Burgundies from the Domaine de la Romanee Conti–some of which sells for $10,000 a bottle– Cabernet Screaming Eagle and Dom Perignon Champagne, according to The Los Angeles Times and other news reports.

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Other bottles ranged in price from $3,250 to $7,950, according to The San Francisco Chronicle.

The wine ended up in a private cellar, according to The Associated Press. It’s unclear if authorities have a lead on who stole the wine from the Michelin 3-star eatery as none have been made public.

They throw #wineraves in LA

I see my Twitter feed this morning and noticed something weird, the hashtag #winerave.

Some folks–more specifically Max Leer and Adam Vourvoulis, wine curators from Los Angeles’ foodie scene– made some bioluminescent wine cocktails, added glow sticks, topped it off with DJs and voila, a wine rave was born. I missed this one, but I think I may just have to keep an eye out for the next one.

This is a new concept to me–and I’m an EDC and wine devotee, separately normally. But there was a so-called wine rave at a club in San Diego in 2011, so perhaps not so new? I don’t think it ever caught on as a continual event (Their twitter feed stopped tweeting in 2011). The owners of Honeycut, a club, in downtown LA, seem to want to make it so. They had a similar wine rave theme for their New Year’s Eve bash.

Wine Rave’s mission statement, according to its website: “Wine rave is a state of mind. Can you free yourself from color: its sensations as pleasure; as life. Stop swirling. Derobe. Become bioluminescent. Feel a stranger. Listen. Laugh and have fun. Wine rave.”

Now to fully understand wine rave–which charged a $20 entry fee and included a wine cocktail–you need to see it to believe it. Not quite EDC, not even close really, but the brains behind wine rave sure got heart.

A video posted by Wine Rave (@winerave) on

We gettin wavvy this Thursday Jan 8th 11pm-close @honeycutla #winerave #wineshots #2trayz #glowrave

A photo posted by Wine Rave (@winerave) on

Not your typical wine and cheese (nix the cheese) party, am I right?

Review: 2012 Paperboy Chardonnay

Remember when I told you about wine made in a paper bottles? Well, I drank it for the first time this weekend.

Verdict: meh on the wine, cool on the packaging.

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I had the 2012 Paperboy Chardonnay at a picnic on Sunday at the Hollywood Bowl, one of my fave LA summer activities. A friend who is a big fan of Chardonnay brought it along.

The wine doesn’t have much going on. It smells like grape juice and it tastes like alcoholic grape juice. It’s a tart chardonnay and absent, in my mind, was the iconic butteryness in most Chards. It reminded me of Franzia.

Now about the actual good stuff: the packaging. It’s made by a U.K company called GreenBottle and the eco-friendly company’s first U.S. partner is California-based Truett-Hurst. Much like boxed wines, paper bottles are lined with a plastic bladder to hold the liquid.

Paperboy is sold at Safeway stores.

Nuts & Bolts:

  • Winery: Paperboy
  • Type: Chardonnay
  • Origin: Hopland, Calif.
  • Vintage: 2012
  • Price: Potluck addition
  • Alcohol content: 14.5%
  • When to drink: When you’re looking to bring a novelty along to a party. Not recommended to drink over a nice dinner at home.

Interesting Read: Wine and Religion

Aeon magazine has an interesting story out about wine’s origins in religion. It touches upon Noah, who is credited with planting the first vineyard, and the famed water into wine transformation by Jesus.

The article’s point is that humans have long worshipped wine. Check out this excerpt:

You can tell our culture values wine by looking at the price we pay for it, and the dandyish glasses we drink it from: the fragile ones with the crystal pedestals. But it’s difficult to say what the first farmers made of this extraordinary substance. Early winemakers decorated their vessels, but the symbols they used have faded with the ages. There is one clue, however – a 7,000-year-old piece of pottery from Eastern Georgia with a grape cluster and stick figure etched into it. The figure appears underneath the cluster, and seems to have its arms raised in worship, suggesting that wine was considered divine from the start. Alas, the etching is too crude and worn to know for sure. What we do know is this: where we find legible symbols next to wine, on ancient vessels, or in the textual recesses of human memory, wine is almost always associated with the gods.

I highly recommend reading the essay–not just because it mentions San Clemente, my former beachside home, but because of the deep history about wine you will take away after trekking through the 6,500 words.

Best explanation of tannin

When I first started thinking about wine while a drank it, and reading lots of articles about wine, the definition of tannin escaped me for quite some time.

That was until I realized that tannins aren’t something you smell or taste, like much of the descriptors we use to describe wine–fruity, earthy, chocolatey, etc. Rather tannins cause that puckery/astringent feeling in your mouth when you drink wine. The harsher the tannins, the more you feel it in your inner cheeks.

Today I came across a wonderful break-down about tannins from the Washington Post that follows this same line. From the article:

Tannins are chemical compounds found in the skin, seeds and stems of grapes. They give red wines their structure and ability to age. We can’t smell or taste them — rather, we feel them in the wine’s texture. That’s why writers use different adjectives to describe the way tannins feel in the mouth. Supple, silky, velvety and soft describe the positive contributions tannins make to the wine. Aggressive, chewy, harsh or green tannins overpower the fruit and leave the wine astringent. Over time, tannins lengthen and precipitate out of the wine as sediment. The technical term for this is polymerization.

If someone raves about a wine’s “polymerized tannins,” just say, “My sediment exactly.”

Love the zinger at the end!

Tannins seem to be on the collective wine hive mind. Hottytoddy.com, a blog about Oxford and Ole Miss, also has an explainer out today, describing what tannins do to wine as well as their impact on other food and drink.

It is the puckery stuffer in strong tea that makes you want to put sugar or milk in it as the English do. Tannin in nuts also makes your mouth puckery if the nuts are too green. The same goes for wine.

Another fact to note: as wines age, the tannins fall away, often making the liquid softer and improving taste.

Robert Parker v. Robot

You know Robert Parker, the wine guru? He’s the one who came up with the 100-point system widely used today. He also has a way with words.

Check out some of his stand-out musings:

When I put my nose in a glass, it’s like tunnel vision. I move into another world, where everything around me is just gone, and every bit of mental energy is focused on that wine

From a wine critic’s perspective, there are far too many innocuous, over-oaked, over-acidified, or over-cropped wines emerging from California. While those sins would not be a problem if the wines sold for under $20, many are in fact $75-$150. That’s appalling.

Readers often wonder what the difference is between an 86 and an 87, both very good wines. The only answer I can give is a simple one: when tasted side by side, I thought the 87-point wine slightly better than the 86-point wine.

Now Vinepair is challenging you to distinguish between Robert Parker and a robot in a new quiz game.

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It’s pretty fun if you’re a wine dork. And you like to guess. I loveeee to guess.

Wine milkshake? Red Robin’s got one.

Red Robin, yes, the chain that brought you the a burger called “Burnin Love,” now has a wine milkshake on the menu.

Courtesy foodbeast.com

Courtesy foodbeast.com

The Mango Moscato Wine Shake includes vanilla soft serve ice cream, Skyy Vodka (Moscato flavored, I’ll have to look into that for another post), Moscato by Alice White (the cheap wine you can buy at the grocery store for $5 that has a kangaroo on the label) and mango puree. Red Robin introduced beer milkshakes in the past, including one featuring Blue Moon.

I’ve had boozy milkshakes before at the Satellite Room in Washington, D.C. which were delicious, but those included shakes mixed with Bulleit bourbon and Tanqueray dry gin. Wine and ice cream I have yet to try, but I’m going to keep an open mind on this one. You know what they say, don’t knock it until you try it.

I have to say though that I’ve been antsy to try the Guinness milkshake at Slater’s 50/50.

H/T to Chicago Tribune for spreading the news about the family dining restaurant’s newest drink concoction.

I won a 1.5L bottle of Oberon Cabernet Sauvignon

And now I have one in my possession, thanks to Oberon Wines. I entered a video contest to win a free trip to Napa through the Mondavi family label, but I didn’t win. I was told it was a close call, but they probably just tell that to everyone.

To lift my spirits though, I received a very large, tall package on my doorstep this weekend. Inside was a 1.5L bottle of a 2007 Oberon Cabernet Sauvignon autographed by winemaker Tony Coltrin and a $50 Visa gift card. Now that’s what I call a consolation prize 🙂

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I see a dinner at Fritto Misto where you can BYO in my future soon, or perhaps a dinner party in the making.