Wine Line: Odds and ends to finish the year

rgwinton@yahoo.comDecember 25, 2012 

RUSS WINTON

I just realized that this is my last column of the year. I'm not ready for 2013 because I'm not quite finished with 2012. Here are some bits and pieces I want to get in the previous 23 columns but just couldn't find the space. So here is the leftover pulp that's been fermenting during 2012.

HR 1161, wine clubs ...

House Resolution 1161, which would limit wine sales across state lines, never made it out of committee. This would have affected 61 percent of California's wine sales and, according to a September report from Wines and Vines, the value of winery-to-consumer shipping was worth $1.4 billion. It's a win for wineries, especially small producers, and for consumers.

I received an email from a reader who wanted to know the benefits of joining a wine club. The major benefit is getting a wine that you can't find in the market delivered to your home. The discounted member price of the wine usually offsets the shipping cost, and most wineries will allow you to quit the club anytime. I belong to six clubs and love seeing that brown truck stop at my house. Another reader brought up the issue of shelf talkers. Those are the little signs taped in front of the wine boasting the medals won or the score given by a wine publication or some wine wizard. The reader claimed that five of six wines he wanted to buy were not of the same vintage (the year produced). This is wrong. It is outright deception.

If you're in the business to sell wine, then make it right. Buyers must make sure to check the vintage dates before making their purchase.

Dessert and port wines

Dessert and port wines should have been in my last column as gift suggestions. Ficklin Vineyard's Old Vine Tinta Port ($15) and the 10-year-old tawny port ($28) are excellent choices. Quady Vineyard's Essencia, made from the orange muscat grape, and Elysium, made from the black muscat, are both dessert in a bottle. They are listed for $21. If you want porto from Portugal, try Graham's Six Grapes Reserve Porto ($22), Dow's Late Bottle Vintage Porto 2007 ($22) or Warre's Otima 10, a 10-year-old tawny porto ($26 500 milliliters).

I've tasted them all and I'm hoping that Santa keeps a copy of this list for next year.

What's on our table

We have a problem here. We only drink sparkling wine or Champagne when there is a special occasion. How many special occasions are there in a year? Two? Three? What if we opened a sparkling wine on blue Monday? Would that make Monday a special occasion? If so, that figures out to a minimum of at least 52 special occasions a year. Cool, I'm in! Here are two sparkling wines and two cavas that are under $10, readily available and of good value: Domaine Ste. Michelle Brut; Korbel Blanc de Noirs; Jaume Serra Christalino Brut; and Segura Viudas Brut. Here's to no more blue Mondays and a great 2013. Cheers!

Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Find me on Facebook or at rgwinton@yahoo.com.

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