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Wine Gifts – A Practical and Pragmatic Guide, Part 3

December 12, 2014 7 comments

Happy HolidaysAnd we are on the finishing stretch! Third and the last installment of the Wine Gifts Guide. We already talked about wines and wine gadgets as two large gift categories. This post will be a bit different from the previous two. If I pressed and pressed the need to be practical and pragmatic when it comes to the wine and wine gadgets, it will be hardly applicable to this last group of potential wine gift recommendations. You will easily see why it is so, and without further ado, let’s get to it.

Here is the last of my list of potential wine-related gifts:

  1. Wine Books. Yes, wine lovers still read books. If anything, we use books as a reference. There are plenty wonderful wine books which will make any aficionado happy – the famous World Atlas of Wine, Wine Grapes Guide, Jura Wine, Food and Travel, and hundreds and hundreds of others. It is hard to go wrong with the book – the only issue might be if the recipient already has the exact same book, so I guess our principle of “practical”, knowing what the other person has, would still come handy. Nevertheless, the wine book would make a great present for the most of the wine lovers.
  2. Wine Education. Wine education is fun, it is almost priceless for the wine aficionado. You can never know it all, and even if you think you do, you will still learn a lot, given the opportunity. There are many wine classes and wine schools offered around the country and I’m sure, the world. Yes, you will need to spend some time to find the reputable wine school and wine educators. But the gift recipient will really appreciate it. For instance, a famous Windows on the World Wine School taught by Kevin Zraly – you can buy a gift certificate for a single class at $125, and the series of the 8 classes would cost $995. Yes, it is a lot of money, but hey, my job is to give you ideas, it is your job to get from the dreams to the reality.
  3. Wine Experiences. Yes, this is a broad category, and it includes a lot of possibilities – but these are the experiences we are talking about. I don’t want to sub-divide this category too much, but you definitely got options. Here are few:
    • Grand Wine Tastings. A ticket to the Boston Wine Festival Gala Dinner will cost about $250 per person. Wine Spectator Grand Tour is $225 per person. You will create memories forever by sending special people in your life to such an event.
    • Wine Master Classes/Dinners/Vertical tasting. If you can score tickets to the event of this kind, they will run about $450 – $600 per person – but hey, I’m sure you have people in your life who are well worth it. Again, guaranteed memories for life.
    • Wine Travel. Send your grown up kids on the 10 days wine tour in Tuscany – I guarantee you will change their life forever. Or – grown up kids, remember how much your parents did for you? Send your parents on the trip of the lifetime while they can still enjoy it! Remember, the best things in life are not things. Collect the experiences and help others do the same.
  4. Wine Art. Similar to the books, I’m sure most of the wine lovers will be happy to get a beautiful painting. Yes, there are lots of options, in all different price ranges. If you live in the US, you can find very nice paintings in your local Home Goods store, where it will cost you $25 – $50. Yes, it will be mass produced art, but I personally own a few of those, and they make me happy when I look at them. But you don’t have to be confined to the home decoration store selection – you can look for the actual artists who creates paintings and other forms of art, all wine related. Here are two references for you – Leanne Laine categorizes herself as “The Women in Wine Artist” – she has a lot of beautiful wine-themed paintings which are available from her website. Another artist I know of, Ryan Sorrell, creates beautiful mosaics from the wine bottle foil tops – here is the link to Ryan’s website. These are just two artists I know of, but I’m sure you will find more artists – and again, I think wine art is a great gift category on par with all others.

Well, believe it or not, but we are done! I don’t have any more wine gift recommendations for you, and this series is over. I only hope that I was able to give you at least a tiny amount of useful information, and if you got a wine lover in your life, your shopping task will be a little bit simpler. If you will find this information useful (and especially if you will not), I would love to hear from you. Happy Holidays and Cheers!

Wednesday’s Meritage – Wine Quiz Answer, Wine Crimes, #MWWC6 Last Chance, Wine Books, New World’s Most Planted Grape

January 8, 2014 4 comments

Meritage time!

First, let’s start with the answer for the wine quiz #87, how well do you know your wines.

In the quiz, you were supposed to identify 8 different wines/wineries using the pictures of the top foils of the bottles. Here are the answers:

1. White Cottage Ranch, a winery in Napa Valley (looks like it might be closed now  😦 )

2. Burgess Cellars – winery in Napa Valley, making great Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and other wines

3. St. Francis – winery in Sonoma, producing wonderful Zinfandel and other wines

4. Lopez de Heredia, one of the classic Rioja producers from Spain

5. Talullah, a boutique winery in Napa

6. No Girls, an extremely limited production of Syrah and Grenache from Walla Walla Valley

7. Jordan, great producer from Sonoma, probably best known for their Cabernet Sauvignon

Bonus: Casa Burmester, a boutique Port producer from Portugal, also making wonderful dry wines

And here are the same pictures, only now you can see what is what:

As I said many times before, this was a very tough quiz – people generally don’t pay attention to the bottle tops. In this round, Zak correctly identified 6 wines out of 8 ( including the bonus), so he is the winner of this quiz and he gets the distinguished prize of unlimited bragging rights. Well done!

Now, to the interesting stuff around the vine and the web!

As wine keeps growing in popularity, it becomes the subject of crime with much higher frequency. An excellent article from Mike Veseth at Wine Economist is talking about some of the latest wine crimes, where wine was stolen in a very sophisticated fashion. I like the “CSI Fine Wine” designation used for the article – definitely an interesting story to read.

Have you written about the wine mysteries in your life? Mystery is a theme for Monthly Wine Writing Competition #6, hosted by Jeff, a.k.a The Drunken Cyclist. The submission deadline is Monday, January 13th. You can read about all the rules in this post – but don’t delay, there are only few days left!

Do you like wine books? I personally do, but I don’t read them nearly enough – I read more blogs than the books lately. Nevertheless, here is an excellent list from W. Blake Gray, where he is talking about 9 of the latest wine books, all sounding very intriguing and worth reading, like “The Billionaire Vinegar”, which had been on my radar for a while. Did you read any of the books in the list? What do you think?

Last but not least – some wine numbers, for all of you, number junkies out there. The Drinks Business publication just published a very interesting article regarding the most planted grapes in the world. It appears that the most planted grape in the world as of now is nothing less than… (cue drum roll) … Cabernet Sauvignon! And hated/loved Merlot now is a close second – quite a change from Airen and Grenache being in the lead for a while. For more of the interesting interesting data, here is your link to the original article.

That’s all I have for you for today, folks. The glass is empty – but refill is on its way. Until the next time – cheers!

Wednesday’s Meritage – Wine Quiz Answer, Results of Book Giveaway and a Rant

January 30, 2013 24 comments

Meritage Time!

Let’s start from the answer for the Wine Quiz #45, an Easy One. In that quiz, you were supposed to answer 3 easy questions, and then simply talk about your favorite wines and wineries. All of it with an ultimate goal of leaving the comment so you can get the new wine book called “Rock and Vine” to be shipped to you. Free. And you know what – before we get to the answer and the results, let me get the rant out.

I don’t get it. So the free book (5 copies) was offered, pretty much for anyone who would care to leave a comment in the blog. According to the stats from the WordPress, the post had total of 56 views – and only 4 people left comments. Are people not reading books anymore? Did the people who wanted the book were too shy to leave a comment? Was it something I said (or didn’t say)? I’m puzzled… Honestly, I was not looking for the book giveaway as a cheap publicity shot, to attract more followers or something – I simply don’t do it. So as I said already, I’m puzzled – and if anyone want to offer a theory or explanation or simply tell me that I’m too dumb to get it – be my guest. End of the rant.

Now, let’s get to the wine quiz answers and the winners. We have two winners of the wine quiz and 3 winners of Rock and Vine book giveaway – Jeff (The Drunken Cyclist) and Oliver (The Wine Getter) are the winners of the wine quiz ( they got 3 out of 3 questions right) and both of them plus Emily (@WineMuse) are the winners of the book giveaway!

Now, if you want details, here are the first 3 questions with the answers:

1. In the famous movie “Sideways”, where (in which region) the action took place, and what were two grapes which Miles was so adamant about (one positive, one negative)?

Answers are Santa Barbara, Pinot Noir and Merlot – you can read more here.

2. Which grape is referred to as “The Real American Grape”?

Norton. By the way, Oliver, this is not my designation : ) – this designation is actually trademarked – here is the link.

3. What Judgement of Paris was all about and when did it t took place (provide short description)?

Judgement of Paris took place in 1976 and it was a blind tasting event where French wine critics overwhelmingly preferred California wines over similar French wines, which put California on a world-wide wine map. Here is the link for additional reading.

And the last two questions were:

4. Name three US wineries which you visited, want to visit or at least drunk the wine from

5. Thinking about your favorite wines, name one of them ( any one of them). As a bonus, provide short description and may be explain why  is it one of your favorite wines.

Let me just quote the answers:

Emily (@WineMuse):

4. Failla, Varner, Littorai most recently
5. Whatever is in my glass at the moment :) (but really, I do like all the wines mentioned above. They are extremely well-made and unique. I also really like & respect the people that make each of them)

TheWineGetter:

4. Chateau Grand Traverse, Brys Estate and Left Foot Charley – all Traverse City based wineries whose wines I have tried but never visited. This year is the year!

5. One of them would be the 2001 Poliziano Vino Nobile Asinone which I tried in their tasting room in the fall of 2005. The wine just hit me completely unexpectedly with its depth and earthiness and was so far above the regular vino nobile that Poliziano produces. It was just incredible. (I have to name a riesling, too! Sorry. One of the many was a 1990 Vereinigte Hospitien Erdener Prälat Auslese which we had at a birthday party for Nina. The wine was dark amber in color and I have never come across such a vanilla a yellow fruit bombs in a riesling again.)

TheDrunkenCyclist:

4. I have visited Clos Pepe, Littorai, and Freeman Wineries (among countless others).
5. One of my favorites wines is the Clos Pepe Pinot Noir. The wine is phenomenal, but above that, it is made by Wes Hagen, who is one of the true characters in the wine business today.

One last note – there are still 2 books I can give away. If you want them, leave a comment or otherwise send me a note over the next two days – first come, first serve…

That’s all I have for now, folks. Cheers!

 

Wednesday’s Meritage – Wine Quiz Answer, Blind Tasting Escapades, Wine Books Review and more

September 6, 2012 4 comments

Yes, it is still Wednesday somewhere! I’m actually on the west coast, so I have an excuse (okay, lame) for this post not coming out Wednesday morning, as usual. But let’s get to it.

First, the answer for the Wine Quiz #27 – This Whiskey Can’t Age Any Longer. Looks like this was an easy quiz, as most of you got it right – it is a high altitude and climate which don’t let whiskeys such as Stranahan’s to age for the long time. As Stranahan’s distillery located high in the mountains, if the cask will be left to age for 8 years, there will be nothing left in that cask (ohh, those angels…). Stranahan’s distillery is not the only one with such problem – Amrut, a very good quality whiskey from India, can’t age for longer than 3 years due to the same issue of altitude and climate. Located at 3000 ft in Himalayan Mountains in the tropical climate, Amrut whiskey rapidly disappears from the cask if kept for longer than 3 years. As a side note, even with [only] 3 years of age, it is a whiskey you don’t want to miss – if you are into the whiskey, of course.

Going into the interesting wine happenings section, W. Blake Gray had done it again – stirred the debate, I meant. Here is the post and here is  related poll (poll is closed, but you can see the results), all about blind tasting by the wine publications, or may be not so blind? Read and decide for yourself – and be sure not to miss the comment section, as it has a lot of emotions brewing.

Joe Roberts of the 1WineDude fame reviewed some of the wine books which I think worth your attention – you can read his reviews here.

It is the harvest time in the Northern hemisphere, so of course there are lots of harvest news from all over. Decanter magazine gives you a good harvest run down for Europe and US (they expect the prices of California wine to go up – this is great, I think I missed the memo about economy being in the excellent state), and here is a take on California harvest from W. Blake Gray.

Last, but [may be] not least – did you have Pizza today? You should’ve, as September 5th was a National Cheese Pizza Day. Well, yes, I missed it too.

The glass is empty – Meritage is all gone for today, however full shipment is expected to arrive in a week. Until then – cheers!

 

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