2300 Lineville Rd. Suite 101  |  Suamico, WI 54313  |  920-661-WINE(9463)

Good wine is not just in the taste of it.

Robert Parker Jr , the famed wine critic, has a list of 8 things that make great wines great. One line on that list states that the wine should be interesting not only to the palate but also to the intellect. I wholeheartedly agree with this statement. If a wine not only tastes great ,but has an  intriguing  way it is made or how it came to be, that really adds to the experience and mystique. Look at the Lanzarote wines. The terroir for this wine is unique world wide.lanzarote-vineyard MG_7264_1-1920  This region has winds that constantly come from the same direction, a lava landscape that makes it look like something from another planet and wines that are subtly refined and crisp with fantastic finesse on the lips. Understanding the conditions that the grapes must be harvested from and the quality of wines produced brings the experience and enjoyment of what is in the glass to another level. So when you drink your wine, try to find out more about how it came to be. It is amazing what you can learn and how it will elevate your wine tasting experience.

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Justin Rutchik- Owner of The Bottle Room

Making wine more approachable

 

 

Grüner Veltliner

Schloss Gobelsburg – A winery noted for its Grüner Veltliner and Rieslings.

This particular Grüner Veltliner is amazing for the price. Clean crisp stone fruits supported by a fantastic fuller mouthfeel that coats and last for an extended time. I love this wine on the patio while talking with friends. Pair it with a fruit salad and now you have quite the experience. Who new such a value was coming out of Austria. Enjoy!  -Justin Rutchik – Making wine more approachable-

[caption id="attachment_148" align="aligncenter" width="150"]Find this gem right here at The Bottle Room Find this gem right here at The Bottle Room[/caption]

SATA, assessing wine my way

When I assess a wine there are many different elements that come into play. Yes, what fruit components, earthy herb or other aromas waft into my sense of smell. The weight of the wine in my mouth, or the finish after the wine has left. These all add to what I call the CORE of a wines balance which is SATA or Sugar, Acid, Tannin and Alcohol.

Sugar or sweetness is sensed at the tip of the tongue. It can be scientifically measured, but I prefer the old fashioned way of just tasting. If overpowering it can make a wine seem like syrup.

Acid, is the element that gives lift or crispness to a wine and is felt on the sides of the tongue. If there is not enough acid in a wine it is considered flabby. Too much and you will be puckered like a fish.  As a note, acid and sugar compete in a wine and help to define balance.

Tannin is the phenolic compound that comes from the skins of a grape and the wood of a wine barrel. This is a gritty sensation that can be very aggressive in younger wines or wines that use thick skinned grapes. As a wine ages it becomes less gritty and more silky. When sipping some wine allow the wine to sit between your upper lip and gums. This will help you feel the structure of the tannins.

Alcohol is measured as a  percent by volume. This usually stays a constant in a wine unless there is minor evaporation but does add to the experience. It should blend in according to the style of wine so as not to be the focal point.

If any one of these four parts of a wine are overpowering we determine that, at this time ,the wine is out of balance or clumsy. A wine that has a harmonious display of all of these parts is considered in balance. Add in the assessment of the previous mentioned elements at the beginning of this article and you have that overall pleasureable “experience in a glass” called wine.

Have a sip.

Justin Rutchik -Owner of The Bottle Room – Making wine more approachable…

[caption id="attachment_139" align="alignleft" width="150"]Enjoying some cab in NAPA Enjoying some cab in NAPA[/caption]

Washington Wonders- Gems to be found

Washington Wines

I recently had the pleasure to sit in on a Masterclass Series with Master Sommelier Matt Stamp. He just recently visited Washington State and was eager to show what gems there are to be discovered in this frontier of wine. Although dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, the trend is leaning on experimenting with a host of varieties. These of which include Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, Viognier and much more. It will be a delight to see what develops in the future as the best wines of Washington State.

Timeline

Washington is no stranger to wine yet it only recently seems to be in the lime light. Obtaining statehood in 1889 it’s first wine grapes were planted some 60+ years earlier by the Hudson Bay Company in 1825. Of course with all spirits, beer and wine prohibition from 1920-1933 squandered the early ripening of Washington Wines. Post prohibition the infamous “Father of Washington Wine” Dr. Walter Clore was a pioneer in proving vinifera grapes could grow in Washington. And as it seems with most wines in the U.S. the late  1960’s and early 1970’s tend to be the great beginnings.  Famous Vineyard sites like Champoux, Kiona, Ciel Du Cheval and Leonetti Estate were all planted in this time. Since then the Washington Wine Commision was established in 1987 and great wines have been finding their way to the consumer. Now there are many recognizable AVAs such as Yakima Valley, Red Mountain, Walla Walla, Horse Heaven Hills and Columbia Valley. All great regions producing some of the new gems of Washington.

CHECK OUT THE AWESOME VIDEO FROM THE GUILD ON WASHINGTON WINES

Justin Rutchik – Making Wines more approachable

It is almost summer. What to drink on the patio?

Wines have trends depending on the time of year. This is the same for beer. In the winter the hearty heavier wines and beers outpace their lighter counterparts.

So what are some fun wines to try for summer? If you are looking for the patio pounder as we say, then stick to a wine with a little less alcohol to start with. This will help you in the long run. Next, for reds try to find wines like Pinot Noir that are not as heavy in tannins. The tannins create that gritty feeling on your gums and gives the wine  structure. This is not something you want a lot of when enjoying the heat of the hot summer sun while waiting for the rack of ribs to slow cook to perfection.

A great alternative is Rosé wine. These are wines made from red grapes that have the pink hues that remind us of White Zinfandel. But unlike White Zinfandel these are dry wines that are not sweet for the most part. Why are they pink? They don’t let the skins stay in contact with the juice very long. So the wine has the great flavors of the grape but not the gritty feel of the tannins from the skin. And they pair with a vast range of foods.

 

White wines trend high in the summer. Classic Sauvignon Blanc with its grassy notes from France or Grapefruit from New Zealand. It is a refreshing clean summer wine. Chardonnay is a  tricky wine as it can present itself in a few styles. One being heavy in mouthfeel with a buttery vanilla taste. It can also be clean crisp with a green apple like taste.  I prefer the latter in the heat of summer.

Finally there are some lesser known varietals that I really enjoy. They all have there quirks and differences but I would suggest giving them a try for the summer patio. These include but are not limited to, Godello and Albarino from Spain. Fiano, Verdicchio or Soave from Italy. Marsanne, Rousanne and Viognier from France. Torrontes from the Salta region of Argentina. And Santorini from Greece. Again, these are a few odd balls if you are feeling adventurous I would recommend giving a try for something different.

If you have any types of summer wines you really like and would share, just leave a comment. We’d love to hear what they are.

If there is ever a question regarding wine, The Bottle Room is here to assist you in finding an answer.

 

Justin Rutchik –  Making wine more approachable.

Appellation or AVA? What are these?

When you go to your local wine shop, such as The Bottle Room, you may find wines with references to places like Bordeaux , Alexander Valley, Mosel, Rioja, NAPA Valley on the labels. Where are these places and why are they on the label? Well in the OLD WORLD ,or what is considered mostly Europe, wines with distinctive reputations come from areas known as appellations. These areas such as Burgundy, France or Barolo, Italy have over hundreds of years developed styles of wines from specific grapes. Because of their reputations the governments of these countries decided to protect the wine growing regions. They  created boundaries identifying the regions and then forged laws stating what kind of grapes must be used, how much of the grapes have to be in a wine, aging requirements, wine making techniques and so forth.  Wineries meeting these requirements were given approval to label the wines as stylistic representatives of the appellations.  The laws created had a tiered system which went from less strict to more strict. If you have seen things like IGT(less strict) or DOCG (more strict)on a wine label, these are the amount of requirements  that a winery had to meet in order to be considered more true to the appellations style.  In essence these laws were created to protect the regions from fraud. Which can still be an issue to this day.

What about AVA? Well in the United States instead of Appellations we have distinctive wine regions known as American Viticultural Areas (AVA).  These are areas that have unique unifying wine growing characteristics. They can cross between political boundaries and can be very large or even as small as a quarter of a square mile. Unlike the appellation system in Europe there are no laws stating what grapes must be grown, winemaking techniques, aging requirements or crop yields. Instead in order to say a wine is from a specific AVA it must have a content of 85% of its grapes grown in that defined AVA. Over time these AVA’s have become known for specific grapes as winemakers figure out which grapes grow best where. Such as NAPA Cabernet Sauvignon or Carneros Chardonnay or Pinot Noir. But winemakers are not required to only grow these grapes there. They have a little more liberty to experiment.

So in a nutshell AVA and Appellations help us as the consumer pin point where a specific wine came from. What grapes may be in it, in the case of appellation, or how much of a specific grape is used. The latter would qualify for both AVA and Appellation.

Feel free to ask other questions in relation to this subject.

 

Justin Rutchik  –  Making wine more approachable

Vintage, my wine tastes different.

Vintage- it’s the date in which the grapes were picked to create the wine in your glass today. Looking at a bottle of wine that you have purchased and tasted and loved for the last year now has a new date stamped on the front. Does that even matter Justin?  Well, for some mass produced wines that have huge blending capabilities, maybe not. The flavor may stay consistent. For the smaller producers vintage could make or break a wine.

A grape growing climate may be Mediterranean, but the weather including sunlight(cloud or fog cover), temperature, wind, hail, amount of rain etc… can affect how well grapes grow. The viticulturists play a delicate game of chess with Mother Nature to create the best crop for making wine they can. Sometimes Mother Nature is not so forgiving. Cold growing seasons can lead to underripe grapes that taste green and have high acidity. A huge rain right before harvest can thin the wine with watered down grapes. Frost or hail can destroy crops and reduce yields. Lack of wind may allow certain fungus and disease to grow.  All of this can affect the final product that ends up in your Riedel stemware.

Here at The Bottle Room we have come across several wines that tasted great in one year and didn’t make the mark the next. Could it be other factors than vintage? Yes, a change in wine producers or the percentage of each  grape used in the wine or maybe the barrels used to make the wine. These can all have an affect on the wine. But all wine starts with grapes. If the grapes came from a great Vintage the chances are the wine will be of better quality compared to the same wine of a poor Vintage. So pay attention to vintage and how the wine tastes from that vintage.  There are several places you can learn about how well a particular vintage was and what types of wines to expect from that vintage. Here is an example from the NAPA Valley Vintners website on NAPA wine Vintages: http://www.napavintners.com/napa_valley/vintage_charts.asp

I hope this helps you with your wine experience

 

Justin Rutchik – making wine more approachable

Wine Wonders?

The world of wine is thousands upon thousands of years old. So it makes sense that over this time it has evolved into a seemingly complicated and mystical drink. With different grapes, styles and processes to make wine across the globe, understanding the differences can be at first glance overwhelming. Simplistically speaking wine can be deconstructed into sugary grape juice and yeast. Together these two ingredients create a process known as fermentation in which the side effect is carbon dioxide and alcohol. So why is wine such a mystery to us? I have decided to put a small list of items related to wine that may clear up some unknowns or help clarify and demystify wine.

Still wine– Wine in it’s most understood form. Fermented Grape “Must” or juice. It is not sparkling like champagne so it does not have bubbles that make it move. So it is “Still”. Served at many holiday gatherings and used as a welcoming gift among friends.

Sparkling wine– Those in the likes of Champagne. It is a still wine that has more sugar and yeast added to it so that it undergoes a second fermentation. Along with alcohol the production of Carbon Dioxide is trapped and contained in the wine. The most traditional method of creating this is named after champagne and known as Méthode Champenoise. In this method the second fermentation is done inside the bottle. Other names for this method are Classic or Traditional method.

Fortified wine– A fortified wine is a wine who’s base is a “still wine” and is shored up with or fortified by adding a grape spirit such as Brandy to create the final product. The most famous of these styles of wine are Port Wines. Port wines, getting their name from the seaside town of Oporto in Portugal, have grape spirit added before the initial fermentation has stopped. In essence killing the yeast and leaving behind unfermented sugar. Thus making them sweeter wines.
Other fortified wines include Sherry, Madeira and vin doux naturel.

Dry wine– A wine that is the opposite of sweet.

Dessert wine– A lusciously sweet wine with a considerable amount of residual sugar still in the wine.

Old World Wine– Wine from the countries of Europe. Where the foundation of wine began.

New World Wine– Wine from the rest of the world excluding Europe. In example: California,New Zealand, South Africa, Australia etc…

Varietal– The name of the grape used in a wine such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Moscato or Mouvedre. The way most New World wine producers label their wines so that the style can be identified.

Wine Region – An area in which a wine is produced. Bordeaux, Burgundy, Chablis, Champagne, Rioja, Barolo, Chianti, Mosel, NAPA, Marlborough, Mendoza etc… In the Old World this was how wine was identified. The old world ways are slowly changing to meet international expectations.

Cork– The cylindrical stopper placed in the neck of a wine bottle to keep the wine from leaking out of the bottle. It is made from the bark of cork oak tree. A large amount of these trees are in the country of Portugal.

Corked wine– “Cork Taint” is a chemical known as TCA or 2,4,6 Tri chloroanisole. Also, TBA or 2,4,6 tribromoanisole can develop in wineries where specific molds, plant phenols and chlorine in the wineries cleaning process combine. Sometimes the culprit is from the cork and other times it may be wine barrels or just on the walls of the winery. The wines develop a musty cardboard off putting smell with no flavor components. It is not harmful but is a legitimate reason to return a wine.

Oak barrel – The vessel that ages many red wines and some white wines. The source is typically oak trees in America known as American Oak or those from forests in France known as french oak. There are other areas that supply oak barrels but these are the most well known.

Cooper– The skilled professional that creates the wine barrels

Decanting – The Process of pouring off a bottle of wine into a a vessel known as a Decanter. This is done in order to separate wine from settled out particles in the wine that are a result from aging.

Wine Key– The screw device used to pull a cork out of a bottle of wine.

Stelvin Enclosure– “Screw Cap” The engineered top that screws onto a bottle of wine to keep it fresh. This replaces the cork.

Stemware – The glass designed to hold wine that has a stem to hold it with so as to not heat up the wine with your hand on the bowl.

 

This is just a taste of the basics in the wine world. If you have questions that have gone unanswered please feel free to stop in at The Bottle Room or respond to this post on Facebook.

Justin Rutchik

Craft Beer is buzzing

If you read news about the beer industry you find that overall beer sales are down, but craft beer sales are on a huge upswing. New small breweries are coming to life and those that have been in the game are expanding their operations. The American palate is craving flavor in the form of ever changing thought out recipes of craft beer.

[caption id="attachment_94" align="alignleft" width="150"]Historical account Historical account[/caption]

So why the buzz?  One reason is that the small production of 6 million barrels or less and owned independently by the people brewing the beer. Less than 25% of the shareholders in the company can be a member that is not a craft brewer.  Making an environment that requires creativity to stay competitive.

Since 1978 when making beer at home became legal to the early 1980’s when breweries were allowed to serve on premise with food, creating the first brewpub. Craft beer exploded. So much so there was a correction with the amount of brewpubs in 1998. After this correction the breweries had a more stable growth introducing a steady flow of new brands to market. And along came the curiosity of the beer consumer.

[caption id="attachment_93" align="alignleft" width="150"]Craft beer numbers soar Craft beer numbers soar[/caption]

Now we have chocolate stouts, bourbon barrel aged beers, Saisons, Doubles, Triples, and the ever so  intensely aromatic IPA.  Yes, some of these beers have been around for ages, but I believe it is the craft brew movement that is giving crafted beers like those the belgian monks made hundreds of years ago new life.

In summary, craft brewing has put a unique twist on traditional brewing to accentuate flavors in beer. Brewers of todays breweries are more like Chefs creating a gourmet beer for your tasting pleasure. Enjoy the adventure.

Justin Rutchik – The Bottle Room

Wine Temperature? Why do you chill my red wine?

I am often asked why we serve our red wines at 60 degrees Fahrenheit.  My comical response is a reference to a saying by one of our wine reps. ” A red wine should always be served at room temperature, and the temperature of the room should be 60 degrees”.

Well why is that the case? Especially when most of the eating establishments you may frequent have their red wines sitting on the back bar with a room temperature of 72 degrees F.  Wine is made up of many naturally occurring compounds. The most famous of these being alcohol. There are many others including esters, acids and polyphenolic compounds , but in the case of keeping a red wine cool, alcohol plays a large role. When a wine is served significantly above the recommended 60 degrees F,  alcohol becomes the predominant character noted in the wine. It covers other interesting aromas and overwhelms the taste. This is because alcohol is very volatile and evaporates quickly at warmer temperatures. Reduce the wine temperature and you will find that the alcohol becomes more subdued and the wonderful aromas and tastes of the wine appear.

Ok then what about the opposite end of the spectrum? Why do a lot of places store their white wines in a refrigerator and what does this do to the wine experience?  Well, most refrigerators are calibrated to a temperature of 35-38 degrees F. This gets very close to the freezing temperature of water. When water freezes the molecules are tightly packed and barely moving. Similarly this same concept is happening in your wine. I refer to it as Muting or making the wine Mute. When a wine is overly chilled the molecules become more densely packed and have less ability to vaporize. Thus muting the wine and making it hard to smell or taste it.

Another tasting component of a wine that is very perceivable in relation to its temperature is the acidity. As you chill a wine to it’s recommended temperature the acidity or crisp brightening component of the wine increases. This makes the wine more vibrant and gives a lift to the flavor components.

Below is a chart of recommended temperatures for tasting styles of  wines. This is not a hard fast rule. The beauty of wine is to “drink it how you like it”. I will often try a sip of wine at  warm room temperature of 72 degrees then put the wine in an ice/water bucket (more water than ice for best results).  After the wine has chilled past the recommended temperature  I pull it out and begin the experience. I love to see how the wine changes. What was it like at room temperature? Then what happened once I over chilled it? Where did I find it to be most pleasing in the spectrum of tasting it? There are a lot of white wines that I have discovered taste much better at warmer temperatures. So many of the fruity, flowery components pop out at a warmer temperature and make the experience more enjoyable for me.

In the end, I encourage you to experiment with the temperature of your wines and how it affects the taste.  Over time you will find out what temperature YOU like to drink a certain style of wine.  And you should not be worried if this does not fit the scale below.  You paid for it so enjoy it how you like it.

Last thought: I went to France with my lovely wife this last year and sat in a Michelin Starred Restaurant with the most amazing view and fantastic flavorful food. They brought our red wine out warm. I asked for a small amount of wine in my glass to see how it expressed itself at this temp. and told them we would need a bucket to chill it.  Why, because I prefer my reds at approximately 60 degrees F.

[caption id="attachment_90" align="alignleft" width="150"]Me sitting looking out over the Mediterranean Sea in France. Me sitting looking out over the Mediterranean Sea in France.[/caption]

Wine-Temp-Chart

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