Search Articles

Please Share

FacebookTwitterDiggDeliciousStumbleuponGoogle BookmarksRedditTechnoratiLinkedin

Subscribe to Blog via RSS

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Sponsors

Search for Events

Connect

  • Facebook: norcalwine
  • Linked In: FredSwan
  • Twitter: norcalwine
 

Sponsors

NorCal Wine Blog

6 Ways to Re-Use Empty Wine Bottles

Unless the wine you drink comes out of a box, you probably empty a least a few bottles every month. And you probably drop the empties into a recycling bin. That’s a responsible thing to do, though just 28% of glass bottles get that treatment in the U.S. Apparently, most people just throw them away. [The link is to an EPA PDF.]

Not only does recycling keep the bottles out of landfills where they last eons — about one million years in fact — it saves energy. Recycling just ten bottles saves enough energy to run a laptop computer for an hour. [The link is to an EPA Excel spreadsheet that calculates the energy value of recycling various materials.] And for every ton of glass recycled, 1.2 tons of raw materials are conserved.

Of course, recycling consumes energy too. Recycling a bottle requires two-thirds the energy it would take to make a new one. If we can re-purpose a few wine bottles here and there, we can save energy and reduce carbon emissions. We might be able to save a few dollars too. Here are six ways you can re-use your empty wine bottles.

“Tiki” Torches
Add mood lighting to your outdoor parties, and shoo the insects, by turning some wine bottles into oil lamps with industrial chic. The photo below comes from Gerardot & Co. which also has complete instructions for the project. [If you like the blue bottles, you might drink some La Sirena Moscato d’Azul.]

tiki-torch

 

Rolling Pin
The super smooth, non-stick surface of glass is ideal for use as a rolling pin. It works especially well when chilled.

1. Remove the label from an empty Cabernet-style wine bottle by soaking it in water. Make sure to get all of the glue off too.

2. Wash the outside of the bottle thoroughly.

3. Fill the bottle with water.

4. Reseal the bottle with a cork.

5. Put the wine bottle in the refrigerator.

Now you have a smooth, heavy, cold rolling pin, just the thing for rolling out pastry dough. The bottle full of water will help keep the temperature inside your refrigerator stable too, saving a little bit of electricity.

Candelabra
When we were taking a tour of Chateau Lafite Rothschild, we noticed they were using wine bottles as candle holders everywhere. But, the Chateau wasn’t doing it by shoving a candle into the neck of the bottle like some neighborhood spaghetti restaurant might  (though that’s charming in its own way). Things are a bit more formal in Bordeaux. They used inserts to turn empty bottles into full-on candelabras.

Chateau-Lafite-Rothschild-candelabra

When we got back from our trip, one of the first things we did was track down those inserts. You can find nice ones for $20 or less. Just do an online search for “wine bottle candelabra insert.”

Tip: Make sure you fill the wine bottle with water, sand, marbles or something else heavy. If you don’t weigh it down, the bottle will be top heavy which is dangerous when flaming candles are involved. Using a Pinot Noir or Syrah bottle with a wide base will give you a more stable candelabra too.

Water Pitcher
This one is pretty obvious, but charming nonetheless. Just clean a bottle thoroughly, remove the label if you like, and fill with fresh water. I think colorless bottles look the nicest in this application.

A bottle takes up less room on the dinner table than a pitcher, looks nice and gives you a bit of bistro ambience. In fact, we had a very nice dinner at Bistro M in Windsor recently and they were using wine bottles in exactly this way.

Wine Storage
People spend a lot of money trying to preserve left over wine. You can use a vacuum pump, or spray a bunch of nitrogen into the bottle, before you seal it. Or you can insert one of those funny looking “wine condoms” into the bottle. They lay on top of the surface of the wine, theoretically reducing exposure to oxygen.

I don’t do any of that these days. The vacuums can pull delicate aromatics out of the wine, the gas sprays aren’t cheap and those inserts are just weird. Instead, I pour leftover wine into small, clean wine bottles.

We keep a number of bottles on hand for this purpose. Half-bottles get the most use at our house. Once you’ve drunk about half of your regular-size bottle of wine, pour the rest into a half bottle and seal it with a cork or whatever cheap or fancy stopper you prefer. Then, pop the bottle into the fridge. It’ll be good for at least a couple of days — even longer with some wines.

There will be very little oxygen in the bottle and very little surface area exposed to it. The cold refrigerator will also help keep the wine fresh, but the half bottle won’t take up much room. Take red wine out of the fridge about one-hour before you want to drink it. Whites are generally served colder so they take even less time to warm up.

We also keep a couple of empty 750ml bottles around to deal with the remaining wine from magnums. And, if you have a Piccolo, a 0.1875ml Champagne bottle, you’ll never have to abuse your liver finishing a bottle because “there’s not enough to save.”

wine-bottle-sizes
Philippe Dambrine of Chateau Cantemerle shows off his assortment of bottle sizes.

If the wine ends up sitting in the fridge a little too long to be perfect for drinking, you can always use it as cooking wine. And if cooking is to be the wine’s sole use, you can even blend different wines in one bottle. If you do this, try to stick to one color of wine per bottle though.

Vinegar and Oil
We make our own vinegar at home from leftover wine. It’s better tasting than most of the stuff we could buy in stores and it’s free from artificial additives. Empty wine bottles are a great way to store the vinegar. We don’t pasteurize our vinegar, so we seal it tightly and refrigerate it. Pasteurized vinegar you can just keep in the cupboard.

On a similar note, some of our favorite high-quality olive oil comes in large metal containers. Those aren’t practical to use on a daily basis. We pour it into 375ml wine bottles which are just the right size for easy pouring. They don’t take up much space in the cupboard or on the counter either. Olive oil doesn’t like sunlight, so green or brown bottles are the best ones to use.

If you enjoyed this article, please share it! Icons for popular sharing services are at the right above and also below.

Follow NorCalWine on Twitter for breaking wine news, information on events and more. Become a fan and join the NorCal Wine community on Facebook. Also check outour comprehensive Northern California winery listings. They are very useful for planning a tasting trip or just getting in touch with a winery.

This article is original to NorCalWine.com. Copyright 2010 NorCal Wine. All rights reserved. Banner from photo by Wolfgang Sauber.

Deals of the Day: Ceja and Eagle Eye

Here are deals I’ve come across in the last day or so that I thought might be of interest to you. NorCal Wine isn’t compensated in any way by the vendors involved.

Ceja Vineyards "World Cup Celebration"
Ceja 
Vineyards is offering 30% off all online purchases (3 bottles or more, 
regular size 750ml bottles) from now through the end of the World 
Cup on Sunday July 11th (sale ends at Midnight).

Order online at www.cejavineyards.com. You can pick up the wine at their Downtown Tasting Room or have it shipped (shipping 
not included).

Eagle Eye
Eagle Eye is running a "Summer Sale" for their 2005 Truchard Vineyard Merlot, $16.00 per bottle (plus shipping) with a 6 bottle minimum. The regular price is $21.99.

The Merlot is from the Truchard Vineyard in Carneros. Eagle Eye’s Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon makes up 10% of the blend.

 

Follow NorCalWine on Twitter for breaking wine news, information on events and more. Become a fan and join the NorCal Wine community on FacebookAlso check outour comprehensive Northern California winery listings. They are very useful for planning a tasting trip or just getting in touch with a winery.

This article is original to NorCalWine.com. Copyright 2010 NorCal Wine. All rights reserved.

Deals of the Day: Meadowood and Donati Family

These are deals that I’ve come across in the last day or so which I thought may be of interest to you. NorCal Wine isn’t compensated in any way by the vendors involved.

Meadowood Napa Valley (St. Helena)
When you reserve a stay for July 2010, you’ll enjoy a complimentary American Classics breakfast for two each day during your stay and two sixty-minute spa treatments once during your stay. To qualify, you must make your reservations on Meadowood.com.

meadowood_spa

This offer may not be combined with other offerings, is not available to groups, is subject to availability and excludes July 16 and 17, 2010

[Note: Meadowood is a beautiful property with prices to match. Even if you can't afford to stay there, it's still worth seeing. You might try the award-winning restaurant, one of Napa's best. Or you could just go up to look around and get a tasty beverage or two in the bar. - Fred]

Donati Family Vineyard
July 1st through the 5th take advantage of our “Oh Say Can You Save” sale. Mix and match your case of whites for $100.00 Mix and match case of reds and whites for $180.00 (this includes Ezio and Tal Padre! 2006 vintages only).

Tempted, but worried about the shipping cost? We’ve got you covered there too! If you live in California or Nevada we’ll ship you at $5.00 a box! Only want 1 bottle? It’s going to be $5.00. Want 3 cases of wine? That will be a total of $15.00 for shipping.

Kathryn Teale
Phone: 877-511-9463 (toll free)
Phone: 805-238-0676 (local)
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

If you enjoyed this article, please share it! Icons for popular sharing services are at the right above and also below.

Follow NorCalWine on Twitter for breaking wine news, information on events and more. Become a fan and join the NorCal Wine community on FacebookAlso check outour comprehensive Northern California winery listings. They are very useful for planning a tasting trip or just getting in touch with a winery.

This article is original to NorCalWine.com. Copyright 2010 NorCal Wine. All rights reserved.

Top Wines from the 2010 Pinot Days Grand Tasting

The 2010 Pinot Days Grand Tasting was held on June 27 at Fort Mason in San Francisco. More than 212 wineries were on hand pouring their Pinot Noir wines. I would be surprised if there were fewer than 1,000 wines available to taste.

I allocated most of my time to several wineries whose wines have impressed me in the past. I also took some time to try wineries who’s wines I’d not tried previously. In the end, I tasted more than 70 wines. Overall, I was extremely impressed with the quality of the wines, even given the fact that I had been selective in my tasting. Of all the wines I tasted.

Smoke taint in the 2008 vintage due to the massive forest fires in parts of Mendocino County and Sonoma County has been widely discussed. Several of the wineries I spoke to at the event chose not to make 2008 wines from certain areas. Other producers were extremely selective with the fruit and therefore have less wine available, though 2008 was a very productive year in some vineyards which somewhat mitigated the loss of fruit to smoke. None of the wines I tasted had any smoke influence which I considered to be a flaw.

The following is a list of those wines I tried and thought to be among the best. The list is in alphabetical order within each section. I only tasted a fraction of the wines on offer, so the absence of a wine or winery from this list should not be taken as a negative.

Very Highly Recommended
2007 DeLoach Vineyards Pinot Noir Green Valley

2008 Dunstan Pinot Noir Durell Vineyard2008 Failla Pinot Noir (blend)

2007 Failla Pinot Noir Hirsch Vineyard

2008 Freeman Pinot Noir Russian River Valley

2008 Landmark Vineyards Pinot Noir Kanzler Vineyard, Sonoma Coast

2007 Pey-Lucia Vineyards Pinot Noir

2008 Phillips Hill Pinot Noir Oppenlander

2007 Sand Hill Wines Pinot Noir Durell Vineyard

2008 Sojourn Cellars Pinot Noir San Giacomo Vineyard

2008 Sojourn Cellars Pinot Noir Russian River Valley

2006 Suacci Carciere Pinot Noir

2006 Three Sticks Pinot Noir Durell Vineyard

2007 Three Sticks Pinot Noir Durell Vineyard

2007 Westwood Winery Pinot Noir Estate

2005 Westwood Winery Pinot Noir Haynes Vineyard

Highly Recommended
2008 Coterie Cellars Pinot Noir Fairview Road

2007 Coterie Cellars Pinot Noir Fairview Road

2007 Donum Estate Pinot Noir

2007 Donum Estate Pinot Noir Russian River Valley

2007 Eno Wines Pinot Noir Fairview Road

2008 Eno Wines Pinot Noir Tondre

2008 Eno Wines Pinot Noir Fairview Road

2008 Evening Land Pinot Noir Sonoma/Santa Rita Hills

2008 Evening Land Pinot Noir Occidental Coast

2008 Evening Land Pinot Noir Seven Springs

2008 Evening Land Pinot Noir Occidental Ridge

2008 Failla Pinot Noir Keefer Ranch

2007 Failla Pinot Noir Occidental Ridge

2008 Fess Parker Winery Pinot Noir Pommard

2008 Fess Parker Winery Pinot Noir Clone 115

2007 Flying Goat Cellars Dierberg Vineyard, Santa Maria

2007 Fort Ross Vineyard Pinot Noir

2005 Fort Ross Vineyard Pinot Noir Reserve

2008 Freeman Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast

2008 Freeman Pinot Noir Keefer Ranch

2008 Freeman Pinot Noir Akiko’s Cuvee, Sonoma Coast

2007 Goldeneye Pinot Noir Anderson Valley

2008 Landmark Vineyards Pinot Noir Jenkins Vineyard

2008 Landmark Vineyards Pinot Noir Quail Hill

2007 Pey-Marin Pinot Noir Trois Filles

2008 Phillips Hill Pinot Noir Beeson Tree

2007 Pisoni Pinot Noir Garys’ Vineyard

2007 Pisoni Pinot Noir Pisoni Vineyard

2008 Sojourn Cellars Gaps Crown Vineyard

2008 Sojourn Cellars Sonoma Coast

2008 Suacci Carciere Pinot Noir

2008 Suacci Carciere Pinot Noir Russian River Valley

2006 Talisman Pinot Noir Sonoma County Cuvee

2006 Talisman Pinot Noir Wildcat Mountain, Carneros

2006 Talisman Pinot Noir Thorn Ridge

2006 Talisman Pinot Noir Hawk Hill Road

2006 Talisman Pinot Noir Adastra Vineyard

2007 Tondre Pinot Noir Santa Lucia Highlands

2005 Westwood Winery Pinot Noir Sonoma Valley

2003 Westwood Winery Pinot Noir Haynes Vineyard

2008 Windy Oaks Pinot Noir Santa Cruz Mountains

2007 Windy Oaks Pinot Noir Santa Cruz Mountains

2006 Windy Oaks Pinot Noir Anderson Valley

At the tasting, I wasn't taking the time to ask for prices and individual wines were not listed in the tasting guide which was given out. However, I did not the price for the 2006 Suacci Carciere because they were offering it at a Pinot Days discount for $30 per bottle. They only had 15 cases left at the time, one of which a friend and I bought. If you'd like to get in on the last of that wine, the winery will extend the same $30 price to you. Just mention that you heard about the wine here. (Note: I'm not compensated in any way for mentioning this deal, I just think it's something you may enjoy.)

If you enjoyed this article, please share it! Icons for popular sharing services are at the right above and also below.

Follow NorCalWine on Twitter for breaking wine news, information on events and more. Become a fan and join the NorCal Wine community on FacebookAlso check outour comprehensive Northern California winery listings. They are very useful for planning a tasting trip or just getting in touch with a winery.

This article is original to NorCalWine.com. Copyright 2010 NorCal Wine. All rights reserved.

Wine Ratings vs Wine Value

In a comment on one of my articles, Steve McIntosh from Winethropology asks an excellent question:

“... A distributor hands you a glass of something red. You taste it, you shrug, you like it. You give it a "Recommended" rating. That night you head out for dinner. You spot something different on the list and you go for it. $50. You taste it, you shrug, you like it, but Jesus H. Christ, you're not too thrilled that you just paid $50 for it. Does it still get the same rating it [would have if a] distributor handed it to you?”

This is something I've often debated with friends who rate wines that they try. They have their own rating systems and some include value within their rating. The rating is expressed as a single number, a quantity of stars or checkmarks, etc. In contrast, I believe that price should be totally divorced from ratings, though the price should be noted along with key factors such as alcohol percentage.

Here's why I believe this:
First, the quality of a wine is not affected by price, even though one's perception of the quality may be. The wine is the wine. I rate wine's based upon what is in the glass and nothing else. My ratings, "recommended, highly recommended, very highly recommended, highest recommendation" indicate only levels of quality.

Second, value is not a constant. It varies from person to person due to differing levels of disposable income, frugality, etc. It even changes over time for an individual. Did you lose your job? Did you just find out the kids need braces? Perhaps the Yankees just signed you to a very lucrative multi-year contract. Or perhaps you need a wine for a very special dinner — a wine that needs to be of the finest quality but also packaged in a great bottle with a famous name. My readers come from all walks of life and every day presents us with new situations.

Finally, price is not constant either. I might think that a wine is very good, but not worth it's $75 retail price point. If I downgrade that wine accordingly, it is only the rating that will be remembered. You may then choose not to buy it in some half-off sale though you should actually be grabbing a full case. On the other hand, if I bump up the rating for a $12 wine from recommended to highly recommended simply because it's so inexpensive relative to its level of quality, then someone who pays $36 for it in a restaurant may be very disappointed.

In reality, many of the finest wines in the world are lousy values to most of us. But they are worth the price to some. The same is true for the “best” cars, clothing, fountain pens, etc. Differences in price between the excellent and the truly astounding, or even between good and very good, are often substantially greater than the actual qualitative difference. Price tends to increase logarithmically rather than in equal increments. These huge price jumps may be because of the extremes to which producers must go to get create the nth degree of quality, it may be because of very limited production, or simply because the market will bear astronomic prices for the very best of anything. There are people for whom price truly is no object.

One of the most obvious disconnects between wine price and quality is the gap between wines that have been rated 89 by Robert Parker or Wine Spectator vs. those rated 90. For whatever reason, 90 has become a magic number and prices for those wines tend to be much higher than that one extra point for quality justifies. As a result, there are some tremendous values to be had in 88 and 89 point wines.

In short, it is very difficult to dictate what is or is not a good value for someone else. To load my wine ratings with assumptions of value will make the ratings less, rather than more, useful. I rate wines based on their quality. I list the retail price and the alcohol percentage. Occasionally I find a wine that is much, much better qualitatively than other wines of its type and price. If so, I make a separate note indicating exactly that (as I did yesterday in my review of the 2006 Alpen Cellars Pinot Noir). It is then up to the readers to consider the text and ratings in my reviews, assess the prices for the wines in their locale and make their own decisions with respect to value.

If you enjoyed this article, please share it! Icons for popular sharing services are at the right above and also below.

Follow NorCalWine on Twitter for breaking wine news, information on events and more. Become a fan and join the NorCal Wine community on FacebookAlso check outour comprehensive Northern California winery listings. They are very useful for planning a tasting trip or just getting in touch with a winery.

This article is original to NorCalWine.com. Copyright 2010 NorCal Wine. All rights reserved.