Tag Archives: Questions from Readers

Q&A with Followers, Sept 2016: Spain, Lodi, Lodi, & BottleShock!

8 Sep

With the Labor Day holiday, it was a very busy week on social media. Here are a couple of recent interactions from three different followers who were kind enough to let me share our conversations on this forum for JvBUnCorked: 

Q: I’m on a serious wine budget. What wines should I be buying, under $15, max $20 for a bottle?

A: That really depends on what you like to drink! You can find great value wines from all over the world- but if you aren’t drinking wines from Spain, you’re missing out on great values of delicious wines. You should be drinking Cava, Spain’s sparkling wine, and checking out wines from the regions of Rioja, Priorat, Rias Baixas, Ribera del Duero- those are just off the top of my head- and there are many more! With a couple of clicks, I quickly hit Wine.com and found 125 wines from their 90+ rated Spanish wines under $20. Many are in the $8-15 range, and I bet your local wine store carries some of them.

Pere Mata Cava





Q: What wines are you excited about right now?

A: I just got back from the 2016 Wine Blogger’s Conference in Lodi, CA where I was blown away by the viticulture and winemaking in that region. Get on the internet, go to Lodi Wine.com,  and check out the wineries- all the resources you need (including buying) will be at your fingertips. And for the person who asked Q#1 (above), there are some real steals in the $8-$18 range in Lodi wines!

Ok…Long Story Short: I tasted over one hundred wines at the conference and was really impressed- it’s NOT just zinfandel being grown in Lodi. They have ever 100 grape varietals being grown in Lodi, and the wines being made are simply STUNNING. Just to name a few winemakers, I was really impressed by the wines of Acquiesce Winery (all Rhône varietals), Bokisch Vineyards (Spanish Varietals), Fields Family Wines, Harney Lane Winery, Markus Wine Co (German varietals), McCay Cellars, Michael David Winery, and so many more! I hope you are finding these wines locally in your wine market, because you should be enjoying them! You can get them easily online, but ask your local wine store for them, too!



img_0087 img_2530


cowboy-barrels barrels img_2524

Spend five minutes on Lodigrowers.com  and you’ll gain sincere appreciation for the AVA’s own self-imposed set of laws for sustainable certification- and you can be even more impressed when you put two and two together, of the amazing flavors and quality of the wines grown and made with sustainable, certified green winegrowing. It’s arduous and endearing work that is conscious of the local environment, the earth and atmosphere, and our children. And the resulting fruit of this hard labor tastes delicious and should be in your glass. Check out my “speed tasting” notes here (white & rosé wines) and here (red wines).


Q: What are you drinking these days?

A: I’m fortunate to have been able to have guests over for wine and food several times lately. I taste more than I drink, so I have a slew of assorted open bottles right now. So last week, for example, we tasted wines from France, Italy, Germany, Spain, New Zealand, and from the USA, wines from Napa, Sonoma, and Santa Barbara. I have received a shipment from Lodi that I’m very excited about opening from Markus Wine Company and Borra Vineyards, whose wines are sourced from Mokelumne Glen in Lodi- I tasted tremendous fruit in these vineyards, and Markus (below in the blue shirt) makes delicious wines.

img_0091 img_2597img_2601



I had to check them out before putting them in the wine cooler, right? 



Last weekend with the neighbors. Tasty! 

(Follow-Up Q): Why do you say “you’re excited about opening” the wine? Why aren’t you drinking it already?

A: Bottle shock. (Yes, like the movie with Alan Rickman, but I refer to the phenomenon, NOT the film.) Wine is a living, breathing, evolving mixture that sometimes undergoes a phenomenon called wine sickness, aka “bottle shock” when it ships. (More details in this .pdf from the North Texas Winemaker’s Organization.)

Much like the way we humans might need time to catch up and get acclimated to a new environment from travel or jet lag. Likewise, wine needs time in a dark, cold place to rest after a trip to show its proper (hopefully best possible) flavor profile and nuances. Not all wines are affected, and those that are may be affected in different ways, but past experiences have proven this and made me a firm believer. So I make sure to give wine that travels the time it may need to recuperate and be the best it can be. I store wines either in my climate-controlled cellar or in a wine cooler and allow them to rest before jumping in with the corkscrew- sometimes as long as a few months, but an absolute minimum of a couple of weeks in extreme circumstances. I always a have a queue of wines I’m tasting and reviewing, so it works out pretty well. So look for those reviews on JvBUnCorked, they’ll be coming soon.

And since I mentioned the film Bottle Shock, I have to include the trailer. Alan Rickman was tremendous in this and I was lucky to meet him. Sigh… Anyway, Enjoy, and please expand your palate- make sure you try something new when you’re looking for a bottle of wine tonight!

Did you like this post? Do you want to talk wine with JvB?

Contact me at JvBUncorked@gmail.com, or @jvbuncorked on Twitter!

à votre santé!


Questions from Readers

21 Oct

Today’s blog post is to answer an email from a subscriber!

J.S. writes: I have a little collection going (like under 10), mix of reds and whites. Just some of my favorites and the odd gift or two. I have a wine rack, and its stored in my room (so cool and dark most of the day)…what else do I need to know about storing the wines? Do wines have expirations dates? Do I need to turn them or something?

It’s funny- I wish wines HAD an expiration date, or more specifically, a little icon that changed, broke, or turned a color when the wine spoiled and was no longer worth drinking. But that’s another story…

Physical storage: for wine storage, a dark location (no sunlight!) that is a constant 50-55˚ Farenheit with 60-70% relative humidity is ideal. Unless the wine has a screw cap or non-traditional closure, the wine should be on its side if you intend to store longer than a year. Honestly, wines that I intend to drink within three months are usually vertical on or near my dining room buffet, arranged much like in a shop- bottles are sitting in a queue, waiting to be opened and enjoyed. For bottles you’d like to store longer, make sure the bottle is either on an angle or on its side, keeping the cork wet. Once a bottle is in long-term storage, the idea is NOT to move them. This is where those little bottle neck tags come into play- you put a label on the neck so you don’t have to move the bottle, and the wine rests happily ever after… at least in theory.

In general, wines that are in the $20 and under range are intended to be drunk in the first five years after their release.  If you have wines that are older than five years (pre-2008 at time of this writing), that are NOT a first or second growth from a famed producer, then I’d suggest you open those soon, before they become something better suited to dress a salad.

Tangent Warning for Corked Wine Stories! Believe me, I’ve had my share of experiences with wine being corked from over-aging, being cooked, and swinging temperature problems. When you buy a case of great wine and it slowly decays with age, it will teach you what NOT to do pretty quickly. My first big lesson in bad wine storage was after I’d been storing about half a remaining case in the bottom of a pantry (nice, dark, usually cool) but I totally forgot about it when we departed for a summer vacation and I shut of the air conditioning. I had lots of salad dressing, let me tell you, when I could have simply put those bottles in the (gasp) refrigerator instead during that month. While it would have been a different kind of damage to the wine,  it would have been the lesser of two evils and I probably could have enjoyed them come Thanksgiving.  And at least,  I could have enjoyed them at all!  Don’t fret, as  I’ve purchased vintage wines that were corked as well… let’s just say, it’s always a risk, and a concern that is worth your consideration.

Home of one of the world’s greatest wine lists, Bern’s Steakhouse in Tampa, Florida has a wine storage facility for over a million bottles of wine. In speaking with their sommeliers,  I learned that they tend to keep the bottles on the colder side and it aids in long term storage of wines, slowing the aging process.

The wine industry (Actually, Southeby’s Wine Encyclopedia and its editor Tom Stevenson) says that most wine of purchased these days is bought with the intent of being consumed within 24 hours. Yet plenty of wine lovers have told me to buy wine from classic chateaux, lay then down for seven to ten years, then CONSIDER opening one bottle to see how its aging. This assumes you have good taste, great storage location, and disposable wealth- but I love the concept.

Here’s an interesting resource, an Aging Potential Chart  from www.thewinecurators.com:

What wines will age well?  If you have champagne, pino grigio, or sauvignon blanc in your rack, plan to drink it within a couple of years, as it won’t age well. Only vintage champagnes (ie, dated bottles, quite expensive, such as the famed ’71 or ’82  Dom or Tattinger, thank you Mister Bond!) will improve with age.

Now, some whites (Riesling & chardonnay), and many bold red wines (aglianico, cabernet, merlot, nebbiolo, pinot noir, sangiovese, syrah, zinfandel) can really improve with age. A wine with a great structure is a start, but what to look for? The trinity of a good balance is fruit, acidity, & tannin, and this is why historic Bordeaux blends, some Burgundies, and the infamous Barolo and Brunello wines gather so much praise and accompanying expense at auction.

Have I answered your question yet, JS, or is it time to open a bottle of wine?

IN SHORT: Keep ’em cool and dark, and unless they are premium first or second growths, you should probably drink them within five years of their label age. If they are premium wines, aging 10-20 years is not uncommon, and use the aging chart. I tend to use Wine Spectator’s reviews which offer a specific range of drinkability, which I put into my cellar history to remind me which wines need to be enjoyed now, which ones are coming of age, and which ones are on the end of their lifespan. Personally, I continue to find some amazing deals of lovely aged wines to share with friends from the 1980’s and 1990’s that are delicious and worth every penny… so in spite of a few bad bottles, I continue to cellar and collect!

I do hope this helps!

If you have questions or topics you’d like to engage in, please email me at jvbuncorked@gmail.com. 

à votre santé!



%d bloggers like this: