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Taster’s Tablet

Okay, let’s be honest.  If you are reading this article it is because you love wine (almost) as much as I do.  We love wine festivals and events, especially if it offers us the opportunity to taste new and different wines!  But what happens when we encounter too many great wines.  How do we remember all of them – what was good, what was mediocre, what do I want (need) to remember for my next shopping trip – or for that matter, so I can go back later that same day and buy a whole case of that perfect wine???

I always think I will remember the wines I like, but truth be told, I am more likely to remember the ones I don’t.  And if I am at a major tasting event, by the time I get through the tasting,, going back to buy a specific wine (or case) is the furthest thing from my mind.  So we should all take good tasting notes that include special markings by the wines we really like, but where do you put your wine while you write and score these wines.  You need your hands free!

The Taster’s Tablet was invented to free up our hands so we can take notes and retain a little bit of our dignity as we do so.  Don’t be caught with a wine glass dangling around your neck sloshing wine all over your shirt.

Wine Glass Necklace

Wine Glass Necklace

Instead, use Taster’s Tablet.  You will have both hands free to take tasting notes, greet people or sample delicious tidbits of perfect pairings.

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Here you have the wine perfectly balanced in the glass holder at the top of the tablet.  You have a free hand and the glass is stable.  You can take notes and score the wines as you go.  The glass slides easily in and out of the glass holder for tasting.  The tablets come with taster’s note sheets and flavor descriptors to help identify the flavors and aromas you are picking up in the wines – perfect for the wine connoisseur or the novice.

Put your logo or design here!

Put your logo or design here!

You can also have the tablets customized with your own logo or design.  Use them at your next event or as giveaways so that your brand is front and center at the next BIG wine tasting in your area.

You can find Tater’s Tablet on Facebook and Twitter (@TastersTablet) as well.

Taster’s Tablet was a media sample received for review purposes.

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The Stigma of Boxed Wine

What is it about boxed wine that turns the majority of wine enthusiasts off?  After all, it is still wine!  All wine is basically made the same, right?  You pick the grapes, run them through a machine to remove the stems and then crush them.  Here is where the winemaker steps in and works his or her magic, but the basics are the same.  Obviously the end result is where the winemaker shines.  However, it doesn’t seem to matter how much skill and finesse is used to make the wine, the end-user judges the wine based on how it is presented on the shelf, from the shape of the bottle to the foil around the top to the label.  The box will never be able to create the desire the bottle does even though boxed wines are winning medals in wine competition and competing toe-to-toe with their bottled counterparts.

Let’s use Red Truck wines as an example.  I have bought this wine in both the bottle and in the little 3 liter mini barrel.  I can’t tell the difference in the wine.  After all, they wine is made and then bottled or put into the plastic liner that fits into the mini barrel; however, my friend snarled her nose at the wine from the mini barrel while she enjoyed the wine from the bottle.

So how does the wine industry overcome this stigma?  Is it really any different than the bad rap screw caps (which are mainstream now) used to get?  Some of the larger wineries have started distributing wine in 10 liter barrels to restaurants.  These barrels are a great alternative to bottles and much better on the environment.  (For more info on wine distributed in barrels or kegs, please visit these wineries:  Saintsbury, Childress Vineyards, and DeLoach Vineyards– just to name a few.)

For smaller wineries, the standard box is still the best alternative to the bottle.  Please keep in mind that you can get some quality wines in an environmentally friendly box.  Let’s spruce it up a bit though with Boxxle.

Boxxel 2

Boxxel 3

Boxxle is a great new product on the market that holds the bladder of wine from the box.  Simply pop the top of the Boxxle open, press the plate down with your fist until it pops into place and insert the bladder of wine so that the spigot is properly aligned for dispensing wine from the Boxxle.  The Boxxle is attractive.  It looks like any regular small appliance you would keep on your countertop.  Your wine is always at your fingertips.  If you prefer your wine at a slightly cooler temperature than your typical kitchen, simply set the filled Boxxle in the refrigerator 30 minutes for red and an hour for whites then proceed to serve and enjoy.

And since the wine hasn’t been disturbed, it will last as long as any typical boxed wine – 4-6 weeks.  As boxed wines become more and more popular, this is THE wine accessory to have!

Now is your chance to own your own Boxxle.  I will be giving this one away to one lucky person.  There are a few different ways to enter:

  • Share this post on Facebook mentioning “Red Wine Diva” to make sure I see that you have shared this – you can either share it directly from here or from my link on Facebook.
  • Tweet this post mentioning @RedWineDiva so that I can track the your entry.
  • Or “LIKE” Latitude Wine Bar on Facebook AND share this post from that Facebook page.

The drawing will be Friday evening around 8pm EST.  The winner will be announced on all of the social media outlets mentioned above.  The Boxxle will be shipped Saturday provided I receive your shipping information timely.

Boxxle was a sample furnished to me for review purposes.

Wine Bar Update 7-22

I know it has been a couple of weeks since I posted any updates about Latitude Wine Bar.  Apparently it has something to do with my organizational skills.    I like to think I can multitask, but the reality is that I can’t.  I get sidetracked easily and completely lose track of what I was doing to begin with.  However, the last couple of weeks have been full of wine bar stuff!

The bank finally approved my loan for the wine bar and as a result, they have pushed everything up to the Small Business Administration.  Fingers crossed – we should hear back from within the next 7-10 business days.  Wish us luck!  🙂

I have been working closely with the architect.  We have the basic plans drawn up, but we are still tweaking some of the details.  I have picked out the lights, the color for the bathrooms and the flooring.  However, I am having trouble finding the “process” and/or product to create the walls and the look I am going for in the bar.  I am searching desperately for a product that will give Latitude the look of a copper patina.  I know that years ago Genevieve Gorder did this on a wall on “Trading Spaces.”  I have searched everything I can think of to find the products I need for the walls to get this look but I can’t find what I need.  I desperately need some input – PLEASE!!!

I have finally found the perfect bar stools though.  These are killer!!!  They are not reclaimed and don’t have the appearance of being repurposed, but they just fit.  They are one of those items that once I saw them, I just knew.  They are actually fairly modern.  What do you think?

ATFUVF235a

My vision for the bar is for most everything to have the look of having been repurposed and/or reclaimed with a couple of ultra modern pieces inserted to create interest.

More wine tastings tomorrow with the distributor – Life is good.

Please like us on Facebook to be part of the guest list for your special grand opening of Latitude Wine Bar.

Virtual Tasting #WITS2013

This wine was a media sample from Wine Twits.

I was invited by Wine Twits to participate in one of their virtual wine tastings and media event.  The wine selection was Morning Fog Chardonnay from Wente Vineyards, 2010 Old Vine Zinfandel from Renwood Winery and a 2011 Garnet Monterey Pinot Noir from Garnet Vineyards.  I love interacting virtually with other wine lovers for these tastings.  People share not only tasting notes, but great tips as well.

Typically I taste the wines alone for these virtual events and find it necessary to only open a couple of bottles, saving some bottles for a later date and individual review.  However, my move to South Carolina has opened the door to new wine friends so I was able to share the wines and get input for my tasting notes.

Morning Fog Chardonnay was first on the tasting list. It has been  a go-to Chard for me since I first tasted it last year for a virtual event.  For those of you that haven’t tried it, I highly recommend it.  From the soft floral aromas to the pear and vanilla notes on the palate,  this wine will never disappoint.

Morning Fog

Second up was the Garnet Vineyards Pinot Noir.  This is a very bold Pinot aged in 100% French Oak.  It is rich and velvety with aromas of blackberry and vanilla and flavors of dark berry and spice.  This wine was meticulously crafted by Pinot specialist Alison Crowe and retails for only $14.99.

Our third and final wine for the evening was Premier Old Vine Zinfandel from Renwood Winery.  Cool fermented at a maximum temperature of 75 degrees, this wine is dark and intense with jammy dark fruit flavors and a hint of spice.  Not only is this wine a gold medal winner, it was also awarded “Best in Class” at the Los Angeles 2013 Wine Competition.

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So which wine fared the best with my tasting friends?  It was a toss-up.  Overall, the group (excluding me) prefers white wine, but we ended up with a convert.  One of the ladies actually preferred the Renwood Zinfandel over the Wente Chardonnay.

As always, it was a pleasure and an honor to be invited to participate in this virtual tasting.  My sincere thanks to Wine Twits for including me.  To learn about wine or to share your thoughts on wine, please visit their website.  And if you are a winery looking to host a virtual tasting for a new release, check them out!

Southern Charm

I was born and raised in the South.  Except for a few years from the second through the fifth grades when my family moved to Indiana, I have always been a southern girl.  As a southerner, I use several colloquialisms that are common to my roots.  For example, when I see someone I know, I don’t say, “Hi,” I say, “Heyyy!”  Most southerners have never met a stranger – we smile and speak to strangers, we strike up conversations in the checkout line with people we have never seen.  I personally never call anyone, “Sugar,” but if you visit a traditional southern restaurant chances are the waitress will address you this way.  Most people seem to appreciate the southern drawl.

Another thing Southerners like is sweet tea.  When you are below the Mason-Dixon line and you order tea at a restaurant, if you want it without sugar, you must specify when you order that you want unsweet – they may have it and they may not!  And sweet tea isn’t just sweet, it is REALLY sweet.  I have been told several times over the last few years that this sweet tea phenomena leads southerners to prefer sweet wine as well, which may be a good thing as the conditions in the deep coastal south only allow for growing either Muscadine grapes or a close relative of Muscadine.

The reality is though, these sweet Muscadine wines sell.  There has been a quiet resurgence of sweet wine over the last couple of years.  Part of the reason is that people love spicy foods.  Dry wines are not as easy to pair with spicy fare, but sweet wines pair with almost anything from Asian to Thai to Latin.

So in comes September Oaks with all their Southern Charm and a full range of sweet and semi-sweet Muscadine wines.  Their driest wine is a Chardonnay made with grapes sourced from California.  They also have a Sauvignon Blanc but add a touch of Muscat to it so that it has some residual sugar.  The rest of their lineup has increasingly more residual sugar ending with 5.5% in their Carolina Wren which can be served as a dessert wine.  Muscadine wines are not meant to be aged.  These sweet wines have a 6-12 month drinkability, are meant to be consumed soon after purchasing and are best served well chilled.  They are perfect for the long, lazy days of summer.

SO Registry

SO SOV

SO wines

Grady Woods, winemaker and vineyard owner, is working diligently to establish the Lenoir (pronounced le-nwah like Pinot Noir) grape as the state grape for South Carolina.

Wine Time

BIG Announcement:  We have finally gotten approval on our alcohol beverage license!!!  It is a conditional license until we get the build-out completed at which time the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division will come inspect the space to ensure it meets all the requirements for serving alcohol to patrons.  So one major hurdle out of the way!!!

And we started tasting wines with one of our distributors – Republic National Distributing Company.  Some of them I have had before, one of them I have actually received as a media sample and written about.  It was nice to feel some familiarity with the wines.  Even though I have been writing about wine for a couple of years now, my palate is still very inexperienced and there are a lot of varietals and regions that I have never tasted.

Our distributor rep is very knowledgeable about the wine industry and is providing us with great tips about wine and running a wine bar.  For example, we should have mandatory wine tastings for our staff each week.  After all, you can’t make a recommendation on a wine you have never tried and you definitely would not be able to pair it with food.  Another great tip – how unique should our wine lineup actually be???  Will our patrons want something they are familiar with or will they always be willing to step out of their comfort zone and go for something obscure?  So we will carry some great go-to wines for those days and those customers who don’t want to have to think, they just want to sip and relax.

We tasted a variety of wines with Miriam, our distributor rep.  As we haven’t committed to any purchases yet, I won’t go into detail here about everything we tasted, but I do want to mention a couple that stood out.

The first is Chateau Tanunda Grand Barossa Shiraz.  I was fortunate enough to have received a media sample of this wine several months ago and was very impressed with it – then and now.

The other wine I want to mention is Saintsbury Carneros Pinot Noir.  Of the ones we tasted, this was my favorite.  Per the winemaker’s notes, this wine has aromas of forest floor, dark cherry, plum and mahogany.  It was wonderful, offering a broad mouth feel, enticing mid-palate and smooth lingering finish.

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I need to figure out a way to track the wines I am interested in carrying.  There is no way I can go back when it is time to actually order and remember what I liked or why.  And as with any new business, I have a budget for the wine inventory so I need to track my cost as I go as well.

Please check us out on Facebook!  We have t-shirts to give away and will be planning a soft grand opening for Facebook followers only – would love to see you there!

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