Due Regazze Vineyards (JPB's Vines in Cameron Park, CA)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Dear Winologist.....

Last month’s Thanksgiving write up brought the most reader response to date. Much of the feedback included additional questions and comments for celebrations occurring in December. Below I share my responses and while some may not include a wine recommendation, the information will be useful to anyone who follows this blog site. Enjoy and Happy Holidays!

Dear Winologist: At least once during the holiday season I wake up after a party and realize I opened a special bottle of wine that I shouldn’t have. It usually happens late into the night when my better judgment has been impaired. How can I break the cycle of this unfortunate holiday tradition? Signed, “Too Buzzed in Boston”

Dear “Too Buzzed”: The Winologist feels your pain as I have made this mistake more than once. I remember a few years ago at a Christmas party we were hosting cracking open a 1999 Joseph Phelps Insignia at 2:00am for my guests thinking, “I was going to save this for a special occasion; maybe this party is it!” I could have cracked open a bottle of gasoline and nobody would have cared. This form of stupidity is actually a disease called RBP syndrome (Regrettable Bottle Pouring Syndrome) and it usually but not always effects people of Irish decent. It can be treated but not cured. The best idea I’ve heard to combat RBP comes from my friend Brady. Brady says to take red, yellow, and green rubber bands and attach them to the tops of your wine bottles. Green rubber bands can be pulled from the cellar at all times. Yellow rubber bands must be closely scrutinized and probably require the good sense of someone sober to say it should be opened. Wines that have red rubber bands are never to be touched after dinner. It sounds so simple but the Winologist thinks the idea is pure genius!

Dear Winologist: Can you recommend a nice bottle of Champagne that won’t give me a horrible headache and is affordable? Signed, “Loving the Bubbly”

Dear” Bubbly”: If you are looking for a sparkling wine from the Champagne region of France (which is technically the only place a sparkling wine can be labeled Champagne) then I would suggest a non vintage choice like Tattinger Brut Champagne La Francaise. This wine is usually available and for $40 a bottle, it’s an affordable product from that region. I have to admit, I’m not a frequent drinker of Champagne and I tend to favor sparkling wines from Napa or Sonoma only because of its accessibility and affordability. If you are looking for a solid sparkling wine for guests to either serve before dinner or toast in the New Year, I would go with the Mumm Napa Brut Prestige(about $17 dollars a bottle) or the Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Brut which is at a similar price point. Both wineries carry a stellar reputation for putting out quality products and if you minimize your consumption, the headache won’t ruin your morning after.

Dear Winologist: This year’s holiday season has left my finances in shambles. Can you recommend something I can drink guilt free while I pay down the Visa? Signed, “Careless With Credit”

Dear “Careless”: The obvious choice would be to stop drinking wine. However, given all of the recent studies done on the health benefits of drinking wine, I’d hate to see you put your health at risk. It also appears that wine merchants are taking advantage of all of the Black Friday/Cyber Monday hype and offering specials of their own. Right now, my favorite holiday value drinking wine is Chateau St. Michelle Indian Wells Merlot. My Uncle Jack turned me on to this and I picked up a case at Beverages and More for under $13 bucks a bottle. As noted in the latest issue of Wine Spectator, Washington State Wines offer incredible value and this wine was given a 90 point rating and picked as one of their “Smart Buys”. My other find while perusing the isles of BevMo was a 2007 Lake County Cabernet called Vigilance. Lake County is an up and coming region adjacent to Napa and the Vigilance has incredible depth and is surprisingly robust for a wine at that price. For an affordable white wine, I like the recent release of the Cameron Hughes Lot 215 Willamette Valley Chardonnay. Priced at $11.00(the sight is offering deals on shipping as well), it’s an incredible bargain for a wine from this Oregon region.

Dear Winologist: We have banned alcohol from our Festivus celebrations because it has become a catalyst for excessive violence. Can you suggest some alternative gifts that would be appreciated by a wine drinker? Signed, Making it Happen in Manhattan

Dear Making it: The Winologist always appreciates a good Seinfeld reference even though it shows his age! Right now my favorite oenophile gift is the Vinturi red wine aerator or as my buddy Crusty Old Mick calls it, “The Wizzinator” (yes it actually sounds like someone left the bathroom door open!). This simple contraption actually shoots air into the wine as you pour it into your glass. While some may consider this snobbish, I’m here to tell you it really makes wine taste better. Another idea that I think might be helpful is the Waterfall rotating wine chiller. I don’t own one(hint to Mrs. Winologist!) but I’ve always thought it would be nice to have for guests who pop in and want to have a chilled glass of white wine (I never have any cold because I just mostly drink red). Both gifts are not overly expensive and have a high probability of not being re-gifted.

Happy Holidays!


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  2. I so enjoyed your words of wisdom this week. Maybe you can pass them on to JTC and I can stop getting yelled at by my 14 year old that I have opened the forbidden treasure chest of wine. In defense of myself, I do try to google before opening.