Saturday, May 21, 2011

Are You Man Enough To Drink Wine??

I don’t know why, but in this back-woods, northwestern part of America there is some unwritten code of masculinity or femininity that surrounds whether you drink beer as a guy, or wine as a girl. I’m here to call all you woosies out!

I’ve been drinking for more than half of my natural life. Many of those years have been spent at various tasting events. It never fails when I go to a tasting event where beer and wine are both offered, that the women all congregate around the wine bar, and the guys all congregate around the beer samples. What is up with that?

Now, I do need to admit that there is some biological evidence to suggest that the flavors of beer are more attractive to men than to women, but I know plenty of men who don’t like beer, and plenty of women who do. There are also very manly men who drink wine and very feminine women who drink beer.

The thing that gets me is that all healthy human adults have the same sets of receptors and neurons that allow us to taste and smell. In Europe and South America there are very manly men who drink wine every day. I dare you to call them sissies. There are also aboriginal people who make alcohol by vomiting up pieces of fruit and letting it sit in the sun for weeks on end. I dare you to drink that stuff. However, those folks think that the stuff tastes like heaven in a gourd.

This leads me to the hypothesis that there is some sociological reason why men in this part of the world have got it into their heads that they don’t want to drink wine. It isn’t that the wine tastes bad. Well, most of it at least. And, truly if they could think beyond the lizard portion brain, they would realize that wine has double the alcohol per ounce than most domestic beers, and a heck of a lot more punch than Keystone light or Busch Light. (Even if you shake the can and poke a hole in the bottom.)

Beyond the whole alcohol percentage thing there is more to think about. I’m not personally available for the meat market. As a matter of fact I’m happily married for 24 years to my beautiful bride this weekend. But, that being said, what are you morons doing over at the beer table when I’m hanging out with your mothers, wives, and lovers. You’re lucky it’s me and not some guy who is trickier with his wine stem.

The truth is chicks dig a guy who is into wine. I’ve seen many a woman swoon over a good looking winemaker like he’s a rock star. Even an ugly tasting room attendant gets more winks than should be allowed by law. While you guys are over there swilling your suds, the smart guys are at the wine table cleaning up.

Lastly, there is a direct correlation to those who drink wine and income level. There have been multiple studies done economically, sociologically, and in the marketing research realm to prove my point on this. Most men want to be upwardly mobile in their professions and careers. Men who drink wine have a high correlation with increased economic status.

So, the next time I’m at a tasting event with you, I hope to see you other guys at the wine bar. Don’t worry. We can still tell fart jokes and scratch ourselves if it makes you feel more comfortable.


Phone Apps Put Wine At Your Fingertips

Sometimes I really have to admit that I’m a simpleton when it comes to this whole wine writing thing. Sure, I’m better than the occasional binge drinker who has an attitude about everything and chooses to spout it on the internet.

On the other hand, not a week goes by that I realize that my talents as a wine writer are miniscule compared to some of my friends out there who are legitimate journalists with years of wine writing experience. This is one of those weeks where I know that I’m still writing on cave walls with a dirty stick compared to one of my wine journalist friends.

This week I received an email from Natalie MacLean, a long-time wine journalist and certified Sommelier. Her book “Red, White, and Drunk All Over” is a fantastic read, and she is a regular contributor to her own blog, as well as several other well known wine journals as a freelance writer.

Natalie has released her own smart phone application, which offers you the ability to search over 150,000 reviews of wines, find the right wine while you are standing in the isle of the store, and to know what the best pairings would be for the wine you are about to purchase.

As I’ve shared in the past, one of the things that is forming the wine industry right now is social media. The power of Facebook and Twitter in the world of wine is reaching new heights every day. Natalie’s phone application allows you to share back and forth with friends your own tasting notes on the wines you find.

The application also has a shopping list function as well as a personal wine cellar tracker. This is extremely attractive to someone like myself, who has no idea what I’ve got in my cellar at any time and only knows when I go digging through the wine boxes that are stacked up down there.

I also appreciate the application’s ability to teach me a little more about wine. Being a “know it all” on the subject, I’m not one to ask questions for the sake of looking stupid. However, if a subject comes up and I don’t know what a particular method or piece of equipment is I can rely on the application’s glossary function to bail me out.

MacLean, who paired up with a company called Fluid Trends, built the application some time ago, and has been quickly filling it with content that is fun and informative. Quite impressive to me, the application is available through iTunes as well as through Blackberry Ap World.

The only down side is that there isn’t an official application for Droid yet. However, you can run it on the Droid platform through her mobile website at .

To become friends with Natalie on her facebook go to In order to follow her tweets on Twitter you can get to her by going to Or, if you just want to check out and subscribe to her newsletter I suggest going to


Monday, May 9, 2011

L’Ecole Label Re-design and Upcoming Regional Tasting Events

Yes. The scuttlebutt is true. The world famous schoolhouse label that has graced the front of every bottle produced by the L’Ecole No. 41 winery since the 1980s is going away.

After much soul searching, and a complete redesign, owners Marty and Megan Clubb, made the change in the label in March of this year. The new design is a much more elegant and upscale drawing of the famous schoolhouse.

Although it was fun, the old, childlike drawing of the schoolhouse didn’t really lead the consumer to understand the quality and depth of the product in the bottle. This was definitely a problem as the winery has consistently produced high scoring wines that have attracted them to the world market.

L’Ecole produces wines from some of the best vineyards in the United States. With juice being sourced from Walla Walla’s Pepperbridge and 7-hills, and the Columbia Valley’s finest vineyards, the look on the outside of the bottle needed to match the exquisite quality and craftsmanship on the inside. This new label really brings the look and quality together.

The new label is being released currently, with this year’s spring released wines. You can view the new labels, which will be coming to stores and establishments in the area soon, or by going to the winery. For a special tasting and viewing opportunity in the Hermiston area, the winery will be a special guest at Farmer’s Kitchen on June 2nd from 5p.m. to 8p.m.. It would be great to see you there!

Speaking of tasting events, there are a number of events going on in the region over the next few weeks. Here is a short list of events soon to come:

If you’re “jonesing” for a great glass of wine, and you happen to be in the area, I suggest touring Baker city with Jones winery. They will be at Bella’s from 3 p.m. until 4:45, and at Earth and Vine from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. on the 12th of May.

Great Pacific in downtown Pendleton will be hosting my friends from Saviah Cellars on May 13th. If you haven’t had any of Rich Funk’s “Jack” lineup, I’m sure you’ll be in for a treat. Everywhere I go I’m finding this label as the hip new glass-pour wine in the Northwest. Hopefully he’ll also be showing off his other labels as well.

Something I definitely do not want you to miss is the opening of Graybeal Distributing’s new expansion. On May 19th, my friends and past employers, Maryl and Barry Featherstone, and the whole Graybeal clan will open the warehouse for tours and tastings. The staff of Ste. Michelle wine estates will be on hand pouring vintages from their extensive lineup, as well as my old buddy Lloyd from Full Sail Brewing who always has a new brew to taste or story to tell. Starting at 5:30 p.m. and running until 7 p.m., I highly suggest attending this event.
Just in case you are one of those people who enjoys beer a little more than wine, I want to invite you to Bellinger Farms on June 2nd, or to Great Pacific on June 3rd for their Laguintas Brewery tastings.

As with every time I tell you about tasting events in the region, I ask you to be safe, find a designated driver, or plan to stick around before driving home. I want to be able to see you at the next event!


Not all Port Is Sweet

A few weeks ago I received a couple of bottles of wine from my friends at Calhoun and Company, a marketing and communications firm that represents some of the world’s finest vintners.

When I opened the box I read the labels, which said that the wines were from Portugal. I have to admit I kind of set the box aside, thinking that I wasn’t really in the mood to drink or write about “Port” wines. Little did I know the treasure that I laid down beside my desk.

Finally, this week, I pulled the bottles out of the box and took a good long look at them. The vintages were a 2008 Vale do Bomfim, and a 2008 Prazo de Roriz, also from Northern Portugal.

Still, not taking a close enough look, I pulled the cork and proceeded to taste the Bomfim just to get myself in the mood. Wow! I suddenly realized that I wasn’t dealing with a bottle of fortified wine from Portugal. I was dealing with a rich and complex wines made from Portuguese varietals.

Vineyards that supply the famous wines that we know and love here in the states as “Port” also produce table wines that are enjoyed by the locals and their favored guests. As for the Vale do Bomfim, the Symington Family’s Douro Valley Vineyards produce the grapes for Dow’s Port wines.

For many years they have held back a portion to blend for themselves and enjoy with their meals. Recently, the family made a decision to make this non-fortified blend available to the world market. I am happy to be one of the first in this region to taste this fantastic wine.

Vale do Bomfim is made from a blend of Tinta Barroca, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Nacional, and Touriga Franca. The grapes are all picked by hand, fermented in steel, and aged in American Oak for 9 months. The color is very dark purple, with a nose of herbs and spice. This wine fills the mouth with dark wild berries, herbs, and spice. A very exotic blend of wine, with soft tannins on the finish.

I found this bottle to be better on the second day, and even better on the third as it had the opportunity to open up and get some air. I suggest decanting this wine, and serving it with chorizo or your favorite barbeque. The recipe that I received with my kit was for blue cheese burgers, which sounds like an awesome pairing.

The Prazo de Roriz comes from one of the oldest estates in the Douro (Northern) region. Dating back to the early 1700s, this estate is known for its single vintage Ports.

Much like the Bomfim, the Roriz pours into the glass a very dark, rich purple. Its blend of Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Franca, and Tinta Francisca shows up in the glass with a nose of black cherry and dark plums. This wine shows a gentle supple quality that allows the fruit to show through beautifully. Soft tannins finish this wine with a velvety texture.

The pairing suggestion for this wine was a Grilled Chicken with hot sauce marinade. I think it would go nicely with this or with lamb chops, or even a nice T-bone steak.

These wines are soon to come to this region, priced at $12 for the Bomfim, and $17 for the Roriz, I would definitely suggest them on your table this summer.