Wednesday, August 15, 2012

I'm gonna call 'em like I see 'em

It's been a while since I've made any insightful comments here (not to say I haven't made any otherwise). I thought I'd get back at it by making a list of sweeping generalizations about what I've seen lately in the wine biz. I don't have time to back-up any of this with stats, facts, personal interviews, etc. Maybe later, but right now these are a few trends I've observed over the past couple years.

1) Moscato is the new White Zinfandel, Arbor Mist, and wine cooler. I didn't say Moscato d'Asti. There may be a few new d'Asti drinkers, but most of today's d'Asti crowd discovered it years ago before there was a shelf full of domestic Moscatos under $10. While we're on the topic - somebody please explain to me how a white grape produces red and pink "Moscato". I don't have the time or desire to research this myself.

2) "Skinny" is out of control.

3) Nobody buys Australian wine anymore unless it has a freakin' Kangaroo on the label. Or sells for under $6. (or both) Told you this was a list of generalizations.

4) The people are loving the real pink wine. Rosé wine is hot whether it's French, Spanish, from California, Oregon, or Argentina. To quote my future wife, "this makes me happy".

5) They'll pay a few bucks more for a good Pinot Noir (ie, $20ish-$30+). They'll also buy the heck out of a $10-$12 one that's a nice value.

6) You can't turn around without bumping into a stack of red or white blends. Most cruise down the middle of the road - if your looking for one of these, look for the catchy names.

7) Aw Merlot, you poor thing. Bless your heart - we used to love you.

8) We now get our Merlot from France - I like what appears to be a little bump in $10-$11 red Bordeaux.

9) Spain is still rockin' it - including the whites, which seemed to follow behind a few years ago. Now rosé is in the mix as well. Still nice values coming from the Spanish.

10) How 'bout those box wines? Yes! Options and values galore! Not talking Franzia or Almaden. You can't miss the selection from Black Box, Bota, Big House, etc.

I'm sure there's more, and I'll save those for when inspiration strikes.

Look, I almost wrote two full paragraphs (if you count #1). Lists are easy, but people will read (or listen). It's worked for Letterman.


Friday, August 10, 2012

A while back is relative...

I just read the first line of my last blog post - "When I started this blog a while back...", meaning the months (or so) that had passed. I looked at the date, which was in 2010, and thought, it's been a little more than "a while" since I last blogged. Time does fly! I've been around and online, just not blogging. When I started the Tom's Winesense blog, I wasn't nearly as addicted and often sucked into the time consumption sometimes involved with Facebook, etc. Facebook is easy - blogging requires more effort. I'm hoping I can sort of make the transition to the more "demanding" of the form of social media. I have some thoughts floating around and distilling in my mind. I've also tasted and drank a lot of wine since 2010, so I'm not hurting for material. I think I've just hurt my writing skills by the limits of 140 characters or facebook posts of a line or two and a photo. So for now I'm hoping for a couple good, multi-sentence paragraphs, a Top 5 List, maybe a short wine review - and some inspiration. Help me, Ellen Drazen, you're my only hope...

Monday, October 11, 2010

It's a tough job, but somebody's got to do it

When I started this blog awhile back, I worked for a wine distributor or wholesaler, selling my book of products to retailers and restaurants. I've since made the switch back to the retail side as a wine consultant for the biggest store in Kansas City, MO. So I've switched sides of the counter - now, instead of taking wines around town to be sampled, reps bring wines to us to sample. Some wines we already sell, some are new. They goal reps share is getting these new products on our racks. I've tried from 0 to 26 in a day, usually a couple days, earlier in the week. Only once have I tried this many, but it really was 26 different wines. Our policy is to spit as we taste as to avoid the need for a nap mid-afternoon.

I had a feeling today was going to be a sampling day - and it was - 11 different wines.
Here's a quick summary:
Four wines from Dutton-Goldfield - all very good - the most expensive wines all day, but moderately priced. A chardonnay, 2 pinot noirs, and a zinfandel. All interesting and quite tasty.

Six wines from Georges Duboeuf-the well known French producer. Two of which were from his budget brand Patch Block - sauvingnon blanc and cabernet sauvignon. Both good values.

Probably the most "interesting" wine of the day was "Charles and Charles" Cabernet/ Syrah blend. A collaboration founded in 2008 between Food & Wine Magazine 2009 Winemaker of the year, Charles Smith (K Vintners, Charles Smith Wines) and Charles Bieler (Three Thieves, BIELER Pere et Fils, Sombra mezcal). I like to use "interesting" to not necessarily describe the "best" wine, but one that has a lot going for it as far as taste, packaging, price, uniqueness, etc. And, at around $10.99 retail price, perhaps this last one has a chance of landing a coveted, new shelf spot.

Friday, June 25, 2010

What We Learned at Wine Class Last Night

1 - The effects of oak on wine. How un-oaked chardonnay tastes different - crisp, brighter - than one that's spent time in oak - softer, creamier, vanilla hints.

2 - Where old world wines come from - Europe. Where new world wines come from - US, Australia, South America.

3 - How a pinot noir from Burgundy compares to a pinot noir from California.

4 - Cava from Spain is a great alternative to Champagne.

5 - How Sherry pairs with chocolate - to find out for yourself you'll just have to come to the next class!

Thanks Matt, Vanessa, and Trent for a fun, informative evening!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Merlot and Sweet Potato Fries? Yes!!

Here's what we learned at The Wine Bar last week at "Who Would Have Thought?" wine class with nine fun and interesting wine/food pairings -

Vinho Verde is inexpensive and rocks! An awesome warm-weather wine and excellent start-off-the-night wine.

Chateau Ste. Michelle "Indian Wells" Merlot is a great value for under $17 and really does go with sweet potato fries!

It's OK to drink a red like Pinot Noir with salmon - and when there's cream cheese involved, it's even better.

Spanish Cava (sparkling wine) works with just about anything - but is fun, light, and refreshing with apples and powdered sugar.

Zinfandel maintains it's reputation as a BBQ wine.

Strawberry Shortcake is way better with Banfi Rosa Regale! The berry flavors of this light red sparkler works with the strawberries and adds great flavors to the shortcake and cream! As Rachel Ray would say, "Yum-O!"

Nine food/wine pairings is a lot and The Wine Bar provided plenty of food! No one left hungry!

Now we're working on the sequel "No Way!" More fun, fabulous pairings for a class this fall. Any suggestions?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Try It Before You Buy It! Wine Tasting Stations Let You

Would you buy a car without taking it for a test drive? Although a much smaller investment, several retailers in Kansas City now make it possible for you to "test drive" wine. Before you pick-out a couple nice bottles for your next dinner party you can experience those wines for yourself - whether as a 1 ounce sample or a full glass serving.

In the Kansas City area, the largest number of wines available to sample is at Lukas Liquor Superstore near 135th Street and State Line Road in KC, MO, via their several banks of Enomatic wine dispensing machines. They have quite the variety with often 56 red wines and 40 chilled white wines available. The cost of a 1 ounce sample runs between $.50 to $4.75 with most falling between $.75 to $1.25. Customers purchase a debit like card to make and dispense their choices with assistance from a Lukas wine consultant. Customers can select larger sample sizes as well.

Across town in the Northland, Vino Bello in Zona Rosa has the Napa Wine Station featuring 4 reds and 4 chilled whites available in 3 different pour amounts. Users purchase a Vino Card that's inserted into the machine prior to dispensing your selection. As a bonus, first time users receive an additional free $10 value onto balance of their new card. Check-out the link to this video to see how it's done - Vino Bello Napa Wine Station.

For more of the "Wine Bar" experience, you can sit down with one of the wines available by the glass at Cellar Rat Wine Merchants in the Crossroads District of Kansas City. There's always around 6-8 moderately priced wines available, with selections changing from time-to-time. Cellar Rat also carries a wide selection of artisan cheeses, gourmet cured meats, pate, olive oils and chocolates for you to enjoy with your glass of wine or to take home.

Now you have a chance to stop wondering what that interesting looking bottle of wine really tastes like and try it for yourself. Why run the risk of buying a wine you don't like - a couple bucks spent on samples can save you more bucks in the long run.

Lukas Liquor Superstore - 13657 Washington St. Kansas City, MO (816)942-8523

Vino Bello - 7322 NW 87th Terrace (in Zona Rosa) (816)753-9463

Cellar Rat - 1701 Baltimore Ave, Kansas City, MO (816)221-9463

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Silver Birch Sauvignon Blanc Awesome Spring Wine

Despite the rainy, cool weather recently in KC, it's still time to start breaking-out some good white wines. And so we did this past weekend with a 3 litre Octavin box of the 2009 Silver Birch Sauvignon Blanc.

This tasty treat from Marlborough, New Zealand was a very pleasant surprise from the opening grassy, citrus aromas jumping out of the first glass. Nicely balanced acidity - crisp up front with a slightly rounded finish made for a white that both Sauv Blanc and Chardonnay drinkers would enjoy. Not too much grapefruit on the nose or palate.

For around $20, this is an awesome value for a Sauv Blanc out of a region that's been fast becoming one of the premier producers of this varietal. The Silver Birch Sauvignon Blanc would make for a nice white wine option at any Summertime gathering.