Thursday, December 31, 2009

My Own How To Saber Champagne Video

After watching the MSN version of how to do this I thought I better do one as well. The MSN method was only done half right. They forgot to move the basket rather than re-moving the basket which will get you hurt if done wrong! I had some issues with the's only easy when nobody is looking! Happy New Year!!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Serve Bubbly Like An Expert This New Years

Happy New Years! I hope that 2009 ends well for you, and that 2010 is more prosperous and fun than any you’ve ever had. And with that thought in mind, I’d like to propose a toast…What? You say you need someone to open the bottle of bubbly first? Well…How about I teach you.

The first thing to keep in mind is contrary to what you see on Nascar, you don’t shake the bottle up until the cork flies off hitting a blonde supermodel in the head. Actually, shaking Champagne while opening the bottle is quite dangerous. It also makes the wine go flat quickly because you are allowing all of the gasses to escape right out the top of the bottle. What I actually propose is that you open your bubbly in the proper manner, which will really impress your guests both with your style and the wine’s flavor.

The best way to open a bottle of Sparkling wine, or Champagne is to hold the bottle in a cloth napkin or towel. First cut and then remove the foil wrapper from around the cork area. I propose actually removing all of the foil possible because it makes it easier to do the next processes in opening the bottle.

Once you’ve removed the foil, hold the bottle around the neck with your thumb over the top of the cork. With the other hand remove untwist the cage. Carefully, with the cork away from yours or anyone else’s body remove the cage and place your thumb back over the end of the cork.

With your free hand, wrap the end of the bottle in the napkin or towel. Once covered, gently twist the cork in a counter-clockwise motion. The cork will naturally push itself from the bottle with very little work. The colder the wine inside, the more you might have to pull a little as you twist.

As the cork pops free from the bottle be sure to keep a firm grip on both the cork and the bottle. The cork will come out with a deep and reassuring “pop”. Serve and enjoy!!

Now…for those who really want to try something special, and don’t mind cutting parts of their body off and having to make a trip to the emergency room on New Years Eve. I have a special treat for you. A quick lesson in Sabering!

Sabering Champagne is extremely romantic, manly, and downright impressive. (If it is done right.) Do it wrong though, and you’ll likely be missing a thumb!

Once again, remove the foil from the bottle. This time, instead of removing the cage completely, untwist it, and retighten it on the lip closest to the top of the bottle.

Now, for the tricky part. Along the length of all bottles there is a bead of raised glass from the molding process. Find that edge and make sure that it is free of labels and foil. Point your bottle with that edge side up, away from yourself, other people, and all important objects such as plasma televisions.

Grasp a large dull knife such as a chef’s knife firmly in the other hand. In three smooth even strokes run the knife blade along the edge until your knife hits the bottom lip on the bottle. On the third stroke add a little extra pressure and follow through with the knife. The bottle will break at the seam, removing the cork and top of the bottle. All glass chards are also removed with the spewing wine.

Enjoy, and Happy New Years!!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The 2009 Holiday Wine Lover’s Gift Guide

Last year, one of the favorite articles that I wrote was my holiday gift guide. You know, those little stocking stuffers that good little wine drinking boys and girls would enjoy. I’ve decided that Santa just needs help in this area once in a while.

That said, I know a few items that your wine drinking loved ones should appreciate this year. Put any of these under the tree and you are sure to get some appreciation under the mistletoe. These gifts range from $5 and up, so you can fit something into your budget.

First on my list is a really good corkscrew. There are many types out there. I personally appreciate a well made waiter’s corkscrew. The better ones have Teflon coating on the screw, making it easier to turn into the cork, and a two stage lift, making it easy to ratchet the cork out.

Many people expound on the love that they have for their “rabbit” style corkscrews. These gadgets have a clamp that grips the bottle, and with two swift movements the cork is extracted using a lever. If you want to go all the way, there are very fancy corkscrews that bolt onto the counter and are made of etched brass and hardwood.

Another type of corkscrew that is growing in popularity, especially at winery tasting rooms is the compressed gas style. This type has a needle that is forced into the cork. You press down and “pop” the cork is out.

Lastly, you can always buy a good pair of loafers. Yes…shoes. A widely distributed YouTube video has proven that you can open a bottle with your shoe. Just place the bottom of the bottle in the shoe. Cut the foil from the top, and smack the shoe and bottle against a wall. The force from the sloshing wine pushes the cork out in just a few strokes.

Last year I suggested buying people decanters, which may have been stashed in a cupboard in the best cases, and used as urinals in the worst. This year, there is a device out there called an aerator. It does basically the same thing as a decanter, but more efficiently. There are several brands out there that run from $20 to $70. You pour the wine from the bottle into the device and it forces air into the wine as it filters through to your glass.

For the wine lover who wants to own a piece of the action, I suggest buying into a wine club at one of the local wineries. Most wineries lay out the red carpet to their members. With the economy the way it is right now, there are several who are offering fantastic deals on their wines to club members.

What I really want from Santa is a shopping spree at a Graybeal Distributing, or at a local wine shop such as Great Pacific in Pendleton, or Bellingers in Hermiston. You can purchase a gift certificate from these places and let your favorite wino do their own shopping.

Lastly, for your favorite Santa’s helper, there is always the opportunity to spend the day with someone like…me. I make myself available for special guided wine tours and wine dinners throughout the region in the winter and spring months. If you’re interested you can reach me through my blog at

Merry Christmas, and Cheers!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Gordon Brothers Wines Now Available Locally

Last week I started to share about Tri-Cities vintners, Gordon Brothers Winery. As a late note I found out that the wines are now being distributed locally, and will showcased at a public tasting Friday night the 18th of December at Great Pacific in downtown Pendleton.

Jeff Gordon, owner of Gordon Brothers, will be on hand to showcase their wines beginning at 5 p.m.. As always, Ken and Carol will have their full menu, including their amazing gourmet pizzas available to compliment any wine you should decide to taste or purchase that evening. If you haven’t attended a tasting there, I suggest that you come down. I like to think of Friday evenings at Great Pacific as a community event.

Gordon Brothers winery, which is located on the north bank of the Snake River just east of Pasco, is a certified organic vineyard. The Gordons have gone to great lengths to create a beautiful micro AVA, with plenty of drainage, heat units, and adequate irrigation for producing world-class grapes. Their winemaker, Tim Henley, carefully crafts his wines using a mixture of both old-world methods, and the newest techniques available.

On a tour of the winery a few weeks ago I had the privilege of tasting through the Gordon’s portfolio, including barrel samples of upcoming vintages. Here are a few of the wines I found most notable on my visit.

2007 Sauvignon Blanc - I am thoroughly impressed with both the fruit and the treatment that Henley is using in this wine. The nose is very aromatic with lots of grapefruit, lime, and melon. The flavors are crisp and beautiful, with a very balanced combination of acidity and fruit. Pair this with creamy dishes, seafood, or on its own on a warm evening.

2008 Chardonnay – This wine, as well as the family’s reserve Chardonnay from the same vintage, shows a combination of skillful vineyard management and blending in the barrel room. Henley shows some of his best talents in these wines. A careful blend of stainless fermentation, mixed with the right amount of malolactic, as well as new and neutral oaks creates Chardonnay the way it should be. Aromas of pineapple, apple, melon, and buttery toffee fill the nose, followed by flavors of apples, baking spices, and a balanced finish make this one of my favorite Chardonnays on the market.

2007 Merlot - I firmly believe that Henley’s method of “drain and return” creates the method that allows the wide-open flavors in this wine to shine. Aromas of blackberries on the vine, cinnamon, and leather, followed by flavors of berries and stone fruit, with cocoa and baking spices on the finish.

2007 Cabernet Sauvignon – This wine is blended with 4% Syrah, and 2% Merlot to create layers of flavors and aromas. Raspberries, cherries, and currants mix with notes of coffee on the nose and palate, followed by darker fruits and cinnamon. The finish is long, with silky tannins.

2005 Syrah – Blueberries, cherries, and peppercorn fill the senses, followed by flavors of leather and cedar to create a mouth filling experience. Beautiful tannins make this wine one to enjoy with a steak or lamb, or on its own with friends.

I will only briefly mention both the 2003 Tradition and the 2008 Ice Wine. Tradition is the family’s amazing red Bordeaux blend, and the Ice wine is a true Gewurztraminer Ice wine, carefully picked in the deep of winter. Both are beautiful works of vintner art. I would suggest purchasing both if you get the opportunity.


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Gordon Brothers Celebrates History and Heritage In Their Wines

On a recent visit to Gordon Brothers Winery, on the banks of the Snake River on the Pasco-Kahlotus highway in Southeastern Washington, I had the wonderful opportunity to get to know the family, the winemaker, and the wines better than I ever imagined.

I’ve known the Gordon Brothers owners, Jeff and Vicki, and their children for many years. I sit next to them in church on Sunday mornings. See them at local events. I’ve enjoyed a bottle of Gordon Brothers wine many, many times over the years. However, I had never really gotten to know the Gordons or their wines until a few weeks ago when I was invited to come out to the vineyards for a visit.

As I pulled into the driveway of the simple, but well kept facility I realized that this is not a tasting room for the daily tourist trade, and that I was entering a private winery as a special guest. Always the snoop, I realized quickly from the no-spray signs and other organic markers that I was sitting in a truly organic vineyard, which is rare for this region.

Stepping out of my car I was met with a firm handshake by the winemaker, Tim Henley as he and his staff were washing barrels to be filled. Henley comes to the Gordon Brothers via way of a few famous Central Coast and Napa California wineries including being enologist or assistant at Byron, Zaca Mesa, Pine Ridge, Luna, and Clos Pegase.

As we tasted through barrels and bottles one thing really stood out to me in Henley’s short tenure at the winery… is his genius at pulling flavors from different oak, different blocks, and different processes to create depth and balance from the first sniff, until the last tannin leaves your palate.

Over the next few articles I want to share with you what I tasted that day in the bottles from the Gordon Brothers vineyards, and where I think the family and their skilled winemaker are taking their wines in the next few years.

First, I thought I would start with the winery’s newest baby. Their second label called Kamiak. Kamiak is a two wine labeling including a white blend and a red blend. Named after the famous Yakima chief Kamiak, the family wanted to honor the Yakimas who began the initial irrigation of the Columbia Valley. It was also to honor the Gordon’s grandfather who founded Kamiak ranch in 1907, and gave the family their Eastern Washington farming roots.

The 2008 Kamiak Windust White is a nicely balanced white blend of 90% Sauvignon Blanc mixed with 10% Chardonnay. Henley’s work with both juices is very skillful, but blended this wine fills the nose with a mixture of apricots and baking spices. The flavor is nicely balanced between bright cherries, apples, and a mint, mineral, and delicious acidic finish. I would highly recommend this wine with seafood, white sauces, and salads.

The 2007 Kamiak Rock Lake Red is a blend of 4 different grapes. 44% Cabernet Sauvignon provides the base, with 26% Merlot, 25% Syrah, and 5% Malbec to finish the depth of the palate in this blend. The nose presents with pepper and dark fruits, opening to lush cherries, blackberries, and plums on the tongue. The finish is long, with soft tannins.

Next week I will share several other wines that build the Gordon Brothers portfolio. If you want to taste these wines they will be available in the region for the first time at a new release tasting at Great Pacific in Pendleton on December 18th starting at 5:00.