Friday, June 1, 2012

New Hours, New Perspective

This week we started new hours, open til 7:00 Tuesday through Thursday. It's just one more hour three days a week. however we are hoping it will jump start our sluggish weekday business. Well the first week has been a good one. We have had multiple sales each day! The question is was this just coincidence or were the new hours in some way responsible. Only one of the sales was actually during the extended hours. I was at least able to stay busy and keep from getting bored. Next week will give a better indication if the new hours are making a difference, but certainly it will take more than a couple of weeks to prove the value.

Next week, Jan & I will be taking a road trip to Cleveland to attend a showcase of Rudi Weist German wines. This should be a great opportunity to learn more about German wine, as there will be ten producers there and they will be able to answer questions about their wines. Look for more on this adventure the end of next week.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

It's been a long time.

I have been absent from the blogespher for some time now. I am not sure if anyone noticed, but I figures that since I would have an extra hour to kill at the store tonight, I might as well be productive. So a lot has happened with the store over the last year or so. We are now in the neighborhood of two thousand different wines in the store. We have topped 135 champagnes and will probably be at 150 by the end of the year. We have changed our tasting format so that every week we have six reds and six white wines available. Most exciting, is the new preservation system we purchased last month, which will allow us to pour more wines, including sparkling wines by the glass or taste. We have plans to conduct  some intermediate priced tastings on Sunday afternoons, such as an upcoming tasting featuring verticals of Seghesio single vineyard Zinfandels. We are also planning to conduct some educational tastings. Jan and I both passed the Certified Specialist of Wine exam and introductory sommelier test this spring. This has given us some great ideas that we hope to incorporate into educational tastings in the coming months. Stay tuned I hope to be a little more regular with my posts in the future.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Blind tasting

Last night we hosted our third annual blind tasting at the store. For those of you not familiar with what a blind tasting is all about, it's where the labels are covered so that no one knows what the identity of the wine being tasted is. Each year I have tried something different and this year I went for relatively obscure grapes or producers. This type of tasting can be a humbling experience, as you are exclusively relying on your sense of taste and smell with no preconceived notions based on varietal or producer. I had at least one person who had to admit that they actually like the Merlot in the tasting the best. No one got all of the wines correctly. When possible this is actually the best way to sample wine, as you will get a truly unbiased appraisal of the wine..

Tonight, we have something totally different on tap, with our monthly dinner featuring ten Chateauneuf de Papes, including two whites. This should be a great opportunity to see what makes this classic French wine region so special. Next week I will have a report on the highlights of this tasting.

Monday, January 2, 2012

New Year, New Resolve.

It has been a while since I posted to this forum. There have been many changes to my wine appreciation over the last year and a half. Our wine store is now more than two years old and we have weathered three holiday seasons. This year has seen highs and lows for the store and has been a series of new lessons. We saw solid growth for the year, while several months sales were relatively soft. We worked hard to establish our place among the many fine wine stores in the region and I think we are slowly succeeding in providing the most comprehensive selection of champagnes and sparkling wines. Our tastings have gained acclaim as good values and great opportunities to meet fellow wine lovers.

In the coming year we hope to introduce more new wines to our customers and establish our Saturday afternoon tastings as exciting opportunities. Jan is going to continue to expand her menus for our tastings, including perhaps offering pizzas on Wednesday nights. We continue on a monthly basis to offer regional tastings from different parts of the wine world, so that regional differences can be more clearly defined. We will also feature tastings guided by our great assistants, Jay, David M. & Christine. We hope to feature several wine maker tastings or dinners this year as well.

We also are looking into expanding our building, with both more space for tastings and display. Jan & I plan to take the level one sommelier teat this summer and we are studying for the certified wine educator test. We want to serve the needs of our community and as such are happy to assist in fund raisers when possible. We are also looking forward to supporting the Mt Washington Farmers Market again this year.

My goal this year is to post to this blog on a more regular basis. If any of my handful of followers have any topics of interest or suggestions please let me know and ideas for how to serve our customers are also welcome.

Thanks for the support over the last couple of years!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Last weeks tasting

Last Friday we tasted sparkling wines and champagnes. I am gratified with the response we have had for our focus on sparklers in our store. We sold a good amount of wine from the tasting, which is not always the case. I also opened some fun bonus pours including a Beringer Bancroft Ranch Vineyard Merlot 2004. This wine was gorgeous, with silky chocolate notes and and a rich lingering finish. Best if all, though still pricey, this ready to go wines is $51.99 down from $79.99. That is 35% off. Yes still expensive and yes it is a Merlot, but this wine rivals more expensive Cabernet's and is ready to drink today for those special occasions that always pop up.
We also opened a Mumm Napa Pinot Noir 2008 that was great for summer time sipping. This light red wine has more body than your average pinot noir and there is a certain richness, that cab drinkers can appreciate. Unfortunately I missed an opportunity to by more of this great value. I do have a few bottles left however at $17.99. This wine was originally $37.99. This is a great deal for the summer. Though, I may be out of this wine soon, I am sure there are many other retailers in the greater Cincinnati area who bought more of this great Pinot.
I am looking forward to our Riesling tasting this Friday and Saturday, where we will try to debunk the idea that all Riesling is unsophisticated and sweet. We will be pairing these wines with some Thai inspired dishes, which will show how magical a good pairing can be. I will also likely open some fun reds, for those who just can not tolerate white wines. These will be available by the glass for a modest fee.
I am working on a fun idea for a tasting in August, where it will be a round table tasting. I will offer several dozen wines for tasting, where all will be limited inventory and when the wines is sold out we will move on tho another wine. This tasting will feature a wide variety of wines and price points and should have something for everyone. Since this tasting will feature more wines than our usual tastings, we will likely be charging $20 and pouring smaller amounts of wine than usual. Look for more information on our web site calendar section and
For those of you who red this blog mention it when shopping and receive a discount on you tasting!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The argument for lower alcohol levels in wine

I have been railing against the rising alcohol levels in all new world wines, over the last fifteen some odd years, for some time now. After reading an interesting post on "the gray market report", about Siduri Pinot Noirs and the perceived high alcohol levels, I felt moved to post a comment on that site. This post also has moved me to make the argument for lower alcohol levels on my own blog. So here goes!

I have been either a wine consumer or retailer for almost twenty years and have noticed alcohol levels climb from a high of 13 to 14 percent at the high end for Zinfandel to those percentages serving as the floor for most all new world wines, including whites. Some on the production end of the wine business have plead that this because the grapes must be ripe to make good wine. This may be true, although we are most likely in line for climate change from global warming, I do not think that the effect can be cited for the dramatic change over the past dozen years or so. These increases largely parallel the growing strength of the wine writer to move the market through their ratings. How does this effect alcohol in wine? Well one way of creating a high scoring wine and thus more sales is to make a big ie: high alcohol wine.

I have had some high alcohol wines which I considered to be exceptionally good, so what is my beef with high alcohol wines? Well simply put, in this day and age of greater attention to drunk driving and drinking during pregnancy, these elevated alcohol levels have reduced the enjoyment of a night out or a simple glass of wine after a hard day. I have repeatedly seen couples come to our wine tasting and one will restrict their consumption to remain sober enough to drive home. I am not saying they should drive drunk, but that an increase of 2 to 3 percent reduces the amount of wine a small person can consume without fear. The simple fact that a wine may not taste "hot", as is the argument made in the post cited above, does not let these well made wines off the hook. In many ways this is even worse because most people do not check alcohol levels on the wine they consume, so if it tastes good it becomes much easier to finish that bottle and in the process become legally impaired. If the wine tastes "hot" at least the consumer is forewarned.

What is the answer to this? I am not a wine maker and I realize that there will be years when grapes will be exceptionally ripe, whether the wine maker wants them that way or not. I recently had the opportunity to meet Dan Phillips, owner of importer Grateful Palate, and I asked him about high alcohol levels in the bulk of their wines. His response was in part surprising. He said that the grapes dictated the high alcohol levels in order to ripen. This argument is certainly more understandable than his follow up reason. To my surprise, he said somewhat defensively that people drink wine for the alcohol. I find this to be largely absurd. I have run into a few people who do drink wine for the alcohol, but by and large these people have not been wine drinkers, but were alcoholics. I have recounted this conversation with a number of my wine drinking friends and all have shared my incredulity.

I do not see anything changing anytime soon and perhaps the winemakers are correct and the grapes require the high alcohol levels. It would be interesting though, if the bulk of the wine writers started to call for lower levels of alcohol and if they started rating those few wines higher, would we then see levels decrease? Until then I will continue to advocate for more reasonable alcohol levels.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Guest Post on My wWine Education

I have made periodic guest posts for My Wine Education over he past year as I have embarked on Opening my own fine wine store in the Cincinnati suburb of Mt Washington. These post have been dubbed Wine Store Wednesday and have chronicled the progress of our store and the process involved in opening a new store. I have been somewhat remiss in my posts to this blog site, but I have been very active in the wine world sampling some wonderful wines with commercial reps., wines I have purchased and through the Internet, with samples provided for me through Twitter Taste Live.
Recently I participated in a late night event with TTL. This tasting started at 8:30 PM Pacific time, or 11:30 Eastern time. I sampled five wines from a new venture from the folks who make Cornerstone wines. These wines are called Stepping Stone and though not priced to the luxury market are still not bargain priced. That said, I felt they were well worth the $16 (Rose and Sauv Bl) to $35 (Cabernet Sauvignon) prices. I also tried a great Cab Franc and a Syrah. These were all lush, full bodied wines, that would please any proponent of fruit forward California wines.
The Sauv Blanc was unusual in that the citrus notes were muted and more light tangerine. The wine was almost creamy. I could recommend this wine as a great summer sipper for those who are not interested in a glass of grapefruit juice with alcohol. This wine is both food friend, with nice balance , and soft enough to be enjoyed on its own.
The next wine tasted was a full bodied Rose. I love Rose' because they are all different ands so food friendly. This wine did not disappoint. While I was sampling this wine my wife brought me a hot fudge sundae and to my surprise it was quite complementary. I have more than fifty Rose' in my wine store and this wine, when available in the state would easily fit into my inventory.
These two wines were followed , by an incredible Syrah, that was lush and full bodied. This wine was the winner from my perspective. I did like the Cabernet and the Franc a great deal, but the Syrah had just the right balance of easy drinking to food friendly acid. I was excited enough about these wines that I called the local distributor to try and get them into my store. However only one is currently in the state of Ohio, so we will have to wait for these great values to come available.
We are entering the season of Holiday trade events, so I am sure that I will have many new and exciting wines to share with you over the next months. Stay tuned and check out the stores web site at for information on our tastings and more store information.