Friday, October 11, 2013

Know your Wine Terminology: House Wine

A winery may have a wine which they call their "house wine". This wine will often be among the winery's most popular wines. This wine is often blended by the winery. Often, the wine will not have a year vintage, as it will often be blended over several years to obtain as consistent taste as possible.

While every winery won't explicitly label their "house wines" as such, its easy to spot. In a grocery store, the house wine is often the only wine the store will carry. For Oliver winery, their "Soft" wines could be considered their house wines. For Brown County Winery, their "Vista" brand of wines could be considered their house wines. In the Midwest, the house wine is often a Semi-Sweet wine.

House wines can offer some interesting tastes, but often nothing overly complex or exotic. These make good wines to drink every day, but could also be considered for a party too due to their economy and broad appeal.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

What I'm Drinking: Brown County Winery Traminette

In mid-May this year, we took a family trip to Nashville, Indiana. Nestled in the 'Little Smokies' in the Hoosier National Forest, Nashville has been an artist colony for around 100 years. There are numerous shops in town and a number of Inns. Also in town are two tasting rooms, one for Chateau Thomas and for Brown County Winery. On our trip I stopped at the Brown County Winery's tasting room to try a glass of their Traminette. Impressed with the taste, I bought a bottle to have at home.

This is much like other Traminette's I've tried. It retains the spiciness common to Gewurztraminner.

When opening the bottle, it had a sharp taste to it, not unlike the taste salsa gets after sitting in the fridge for months. But after the wine was opened for a day or two, the taste mellowed and was like I had remembered from the wine tasting. It seems my bottle just needed some time to breath.

Overall, a decent balance for a white wine. For a $10 to $15 bottle, I'd rate this at 75 out of 100. While I think this wine was on par with Easley's Traminette, it's not quite as good as Creekbend's Traminette.
Acid: 2/5

Alcohol: 3/5

Sweet: 2/5

Tannins: 0/5

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

What I'm Drinking: Forbidden Fruit Moscato

Another bottle of wine that I brought to the Symphony on the Prairie was Forbidden Fruit Moscato from St. Julian winery. I found this bottle in a central Indiana Kroger's store. When browsing for a bottle of wine it meet my two main criteria: it was less than $10 and it had a screw cap. When you have wine at a picnic, screw cap bottles mean one less item to bring and keep track of.

This bottle exceeded my expectations and turned to be an unexpected favorite. It has a nice tropical fruit aroma with a hint of citrus. The wine was ideally suited for the setting; a cool summer evening picnic on the lawn listening to good music.

The wine was not overly sweet with a nice bite of acidity and low level of alcohol. In all, it was a nice, refreshing wine.
Overall, this was a nicely balanced wine. As a sub $10 wine, I'd rate it at 80 out of 100.
Acidity: 3/5
Alcohol: 2/5
Sweet: 2/5

Tannins: 0/5

Friday, September 27, 2013

Brookstone Wine Pump

There are a number of ways to preserve a bottle of wine for later use. The simplest is to recork the bottle, but this method only buys one a couple of days. At the other end of the spectrum are devices which insert inert gas into the bottle before sealing, By replacing the oxygen with a gas which will not react with the wine, the wine's taste is preserved.

Another option is to create a vacuum inside the bottle by removing the oxygen altogether. There are a number of Wine pumps on the market. While not as expensive as inert gas devices, these devices can get pricey. But one such wine pump I found was cheap, and modestly effective.

Brookstone, a company which makes various gift items for Christmas and year round markets a Wine Pump that I found one day. For about $10, this is a manual wine pump. To operate, one firmly places the wine pump on the bottle and pushes down repeatedly to remove the air from the bottle. There is also a slot with number intended to be used to indicate the day the bottle was opened, but I have found this difficult to accomplish.

For a few dollars more than a normal wine stopper, one can have a wine stopper which can help preserve the wine. It's hard to gauge how much the wine pump helps, but with my last bottle, I noticed little difference in the taste during the first week or so the bottle was opened. As a present for a wine lover, or as a new wine gadget to test out, at around $10, there's not much to lose with this device.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

What I'm Drinking: Brown County Winery Vista Red

Hidden away in the forest of Brown County lies Brown County Winery. Their most popular Red wine is the Vista Red.

In the spectrum of Semi-Sweet Red wines, this one is a little more complex than Oliver Wineries Red, yet a little more simple than French Lick's Table Red. Its a balanced wine with the tones of acid, alcohol, sweetness, and tannins all at about the same level. As with most other Red Table wines from the Midwest, this is made with Concord grapes and has the distinct grape jam aroma to it.

This bottle was a delight to drink. As a sub $10 bottle, it's a nice every day bottle of wine. I'd rate it as similar Semi-sweet Reds I've tasted at 75/100.

Acid: 2/5
Alcohol: 3/5
Sweet: 3/5
Tannins: 2/5

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

What I'm Drinking: St. James Winery - Velvet Red

On a cool, summer afternoon, with scattered showers in the area, I picked up a bottle of Velvet Red from St. James Winery to enjoy at a picnic at Symphony on the Prairie. In the same vein as other Midwest wineries, this House wine is a semi-sweet. While not as sweet as Oliver Wineries offering, this wine is more complex and fragrant. 

The aroma is fruity, with a slight earthy quality to it. 

The wine itself is sweet, but not overly so like other wines. The Acids and Tannins in the wine play a nice 1, 2 to the sweetness. The alcohol level is low (at 10%), leaving a fairly clean after taste with little bite.

The wine has a light-body with a deep violet hue.

Perhaps it was the setting when I first opened this bottle, but the wine has this bright, summer like air to it. For a sub $10 bottle of wine, I'd rate the bottle 80 out of 100.

Acid: 3/5
Alcohol: 2/5
Sweet: 3/5
Tannins: 3/5

Friday, September 13, 2013

Symphony on the Prairie

Each Summer, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra puts on a number of shows at an outdoor museum called Conner Prairie. The Museum itself is quite amazing, featuring outdoor areas with employees in period costume from the early Pioneer days to the Civil War. But the symphonies are what I really enjoy. About half of the concerts are performed by the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra while the other half are performed by other groups, such as the River City Brass Band.
This year, I was fortunate enough to attend 3 concerts. At these concerts, outside food and drinks are permitted, including alcohol. At each of the three concerts, I've tried a different wine. First was St. James Velvet Red. Second was Forbidden Fruit - Moscato from St. Julian wineries. The final wine was Raggae Red from Easley Winery.

The stores at Conner Prairie sell a number of picnic and wine accessories in case while there's a beer and wine tent at the symphony itself for those who forget the wine (or run out).

In the Midwest, 2013 was a mild summer with only a few days above 90 this year. The evenings on the lawn were cool and the bugs were surprisingly inactive. But why is it that a glass of wine in my house can be out for 5 minutes and attract a bug, yet I can drink 2 full glasses of wine before a bug finds my drink?