Kevin and I have started to acquire a rather unwieldy wine collection. There are wines everywhere! Upstairs, downstairs, in boxes … OK, so we need a second wine refrigerator – possibly one that will hold whites and reds. We have over 80 bottles. I realize that by real world standards that’s small, but still I’m impressed. I had no idea. A good number of those are aging, with the furthest Drink By date being 2016, so they’ll be sitting in the wine fridge for a while.
My tasting notes are all crazy too. I keep them in a Tasting Notebook, complete with wine label. But there’s really no rhyme or reason to the notebook either, and no simple way to find out what we drank and if we liked it.
Enter Cellar Tracker. I had originally tried to create an Access database, but that didn’t work out very well. I didn’t find Access user friendly and I didn’t have the time to learn more about it. But Cellar Tracker does the same thing – it organizes our wine. It lists everything we have cellared, plus tasting notes for everything we have consumed. It has most wines already entered – I just have to enter in the purchase location/cost and any personal notes I might have before (or after) drinking.
Note: This review is from February, 2006. We also returned in April of 2007. That review is found here.
UPDATE, 9/10/2007: We just learned that The Napa Grille suddenly
closed. The employees have all gone elsewhere and the restaurant is no
more. I can’t tell you how sad we are that this happened. We’ll miss
The Napa Grille.
Last night Kevin took me out for a very tasty Valentine’s Day dinner. We went to a new restaurant called The Napa Grille. It’s in the Hyde Park Regency, where J’s Seafood was once located.
They have an extensive wine selection, and you can even order flights of wine. We tried a flight of Pinot Noirs (California, Oregon, and Burgundy) and a flight of Napa Valley Whites. Of the flights, I was particularly taken by the St. Clement Chardonnay (2004) and the Trefethen Gewurtzraminer (2004). We also had a Cakebread Sauv. Blanc, but it just didn’t resonate like the other two. The Pinot Noir that really jumped out was the Willamette Valley Hangtime (2004). I ordered a glass of it to go with my meal. Kevin had a New Zealand Matua Sauv. Blanc (2005) with his meal, recommended by the waiter, that was also really good.
Dessert was heavenly. A trio of creme brulee, and a decadent flourless
chocolate cake. For me, always, the entreee is just a way of getting to
dessert. I rarely enjoy my entrees, but I always enjoy my dessert.
Really, I just need the dessert and wine and I could skip the entree
The entrees were excellent, even if I did prefer the wine and dessert. Kevin had the Grouper special and I had Mongolian Pork. I am reading a book by chef Anthony Bourdain
that is a riot, but it is also changing the way I order food. I tend to
order things well done. It’s not because of taste – I never get that
far. It’s because of texture. There are some textures in food that
cause a gag reflex in me. (For instance, I enjoy the flavor of bananas
but can’t handle the texture. I know I’m strange.) Last night, I
ordered my pork medium well. It was incredibly yummy around the edges,
but the middle was too, I don’t know, gummy? in texture for me. The gag
reflex kicked in. Is there something between medium well and well done?
Medium well is just a little too meaty for me, I guess. But I tried,
right? Because Anthony Bourdain is cruel to "well-doners" when he is
the chef. It’s all good though, as we brought it home and Kevin will
eat it for lunch.
Anyway, if you’re in Cincinnati and want a
California Cuisine experience, definintely try The Napa Grille. We’ll
definitely go back.
Did you know that the reason the waiter presents one person at your table with a pour of wine, before continuing to pour both glasses, is that you are supposed to verify the wine is not bad? Okay – your average Joe doesn’t know that. Until about a year ago, I didn’t know that either. (If you did, you are apparently not your Average Joe.) I always thought it was to see if you approved of the wine, if it smelled good and/or swirled good.
Not so much.
That "pre-pour," as I call it, is your chance to see if the wine is "corked." A corked wine suffers from TCA, or cork taint, which basically leads to wine gone bad. TCA is why you’ll see more and more wineries, particularly the upstarts, using fake corks or even screwcaps. (We bought an excellent Chardonnay at Plumpjack last summer, and they gave us a choice: screwcap or cork. We chose screwcap.)
Anyway, it looks like technology is on the way to make that pre-pour easier on those of us without the sensitive nose required to sense TCA.
Electronic nose vapor sensors are printed arrays of transistors that
can detect ambient chemicals and odors and then alert a consumer if the
internal contents of a medicine bottle or bottle of wine have changed.
Thus, if acetic acid has begun to build, sensors will send a signal
that the wine is going sour before you inadvertently give it the thumbs
up at tasting.
If they can succeed at making these cheaply, they’ll have a very successful little product on their hands.
I’ve decided that I’m going to post our tasting notes for some of the wines we taste. We already record our tasting notes in a notebook, and I’m trying to learn Access to create my database of our tasting notes (needless to say, Access is not intuitive to the dbase-clueless like myself).
I’m starting out these Tasting Notes with a fun Cabernet Sauvignon for under $10. Usually we drink in the $15 – $50 price ranges, but I read about this and was intrigued.
Three Thieves 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon – California. Bottled in Oakville (Napa). $9.99 – purchased at the local Cork and Bottle.
Read on for our "review."
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