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Mar 31

Traveling with Wine: A Full Case (part 1)

Last week I had this amazing business trip that took me from Cincinnati to Seattle, Washington. I landed back in Cincinnati for 4 hours and then headed out to Orlando, Florida, where I also visited Sarasota and Tampa.

Crazy, right? I love travel, but that was even a lot for me. However, it looks like crazy is the norm for me on about an every-other-month basis this year. I’m okay with that (Medallion status, here I come), but it does require me to always travel with wine. After all, I’ll get more work done if I’m not in the hotel bar and chances are, I’ll bring better wine with me anyway.

First off, I always travel with a corkscrew. Even if the bottle I bring is a screwtop, you can still find at least one – at the moment there are two – corkscrews in my makeup bag. You just never know when you might need a corkscrew to function as it should or to stand in for a bottle opener.

Traveling with wine – and corkscrews – does require checking luggage, which can cost around $25/bag on Delta. On trips where I can actually get away with just a carry-on, I have to eschew the wine. The last thing I want to do is treat the TSA to a free bottle, and your corkscrew? That’s a weapon, apparently. I had one taken away from me once, when I forgot it was in my carry-on.

The TSA does have rules for checking alcohol, and it’s worth mentioning.

Please note, you can’t take alcoholic beverages with more than 70% alcohol content (140 proof), including 95% grain alcohol and 150 proof rum, in your checked luggage.

You may take up to five liters of alcohol with alcohol content between 24% and 70% per person as checked luggage if it’s packaged in a sealable bottle or flask.

As for packing your wine, there are several different routes you can take, assuming you’re not investing in a wine-specific suitcase. If you’re bringing back a case, you’ve got a couple of options:

  • Buy a box and packing from a winery (they sell them cheap) and take it to the local shipping company that will ship it. For instance, there’s a UPS store in Healdsburg and another in Napa that specialize in shipping wine. Both will provide the packaging, although it’s cheaper if you do it yourself.
  • Buy a box and packing and check it as luggage. We did this when we returned home from Arizona. We’d been much more taken by the Arizona wine industry than we’d expected and ended up with a mixed case. We bought a box and packing from Page Spring Cellars and checked it on our flight home. I’ve read that people have mixed results with this, but our box arrived safe and sound in Cincinnati.
  • If you’re buying a case from one winery, you can see if the winery can ship it home to you. Wine shipping laws vary by state and are notoriously difficult, but sometimes when you purchase the wines in person, it opens up a few loopholes.

Tomorrow I’ll give you a few options that are more appropriate for traveling with less than 12 bottles at a time.

Airplane photo used under a Creative Commons
license from Flickr user

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Posted by Michelle at 8:37 am in Travel, Wine Misc | Permalink | Comments (1)
Mar 22

Rivertown Brewing Review

Michelle and I headed to Pachinko recently for a beer tasting in anticipation of the upcoming Cincinnati Beer Festival. Our friends at Hoperatives set up a quick introduction on the history of beer in Cincinnati by Timothy Holian. Timothy wrote Over the Barrel vols 1 and 2 and walked us through the history of how Cincinnati went from a large beer producing area to very little in the 80s and 90s, and now back to a place with additional options created locally.

Once Timothy finished, we were able to try 6 “German Style” brews from new local brewery Rivertown Brewing Company. I call them German-style as all six we tried had a very malt-driven flavor, more like a German style beer as opposed to the hop characteristics of most American microbrews or wheat that you would get from a more traditional Belgium Farmhouse style. The brewers were able to walk us through each beer we tried and they each have 10 years of home brewing experience. The six we tried were:

  • Helles Lager – A malt driven German-style blonde lager. This would pair well with hot dogs, sausage and sauerkraut. The malty finish gives a nice easy to drink beer that would be great as the wether gets warmer. Shel: Kevin:
  • Hefeweizen – Unfiltered and undergoes a re-fermentation in the bottle. This drives a clove flavor with a hint of banana. Shel thinks that an orange slice would compliment the flavors.
    ** At this point we tend towards the beers that are more in the Kevin camp, than the Shel camp, so the ratings reflect Kevin’s reactions. **
  • Dunkel – The light coffee flavors offset the sweetness.  There is very little bitterness which reminds me of the dark beer from Belgium or the Dunkel’s that I drank back while visiting Germany.
  • Bock (Seasonal Availability) – Brewed with 100% Munich malts, this was one of my favorites of the night. I ended up ordering a bottle of this for myself once we were finished with the tasting. It was great with the Servatii’s pretzels that were on sitting on the bar. 
  • Hopbomber – Pale Ale based beer that has a ton of up front fruit and hops that shine on the finish. This is not a Hop Slam or IPA knock off, this is a well hopped beer that still has the same malt driven flavor that is disticntive of this brewery.
  • Oatmeal Stout – Flaked Oaks were used along with English and Chocolate malts. The end result was a slightly sour stout that tasted like it could hold up to a robust stew. A very nice effort that has a distinctive taste and flavor.

Don’t forget to buy your tickets for the festival March 26-28 at the convention center. I hope to see a great turnout when I am there on Friday.

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Posted by Kevin at 9:04 am in Beer, Beer-Guy.net, Cincinnati, Special Events | Permalink | Comments ()
Mar 19

Featured Cincinnati Wine Events, Mar 19 – 26

It’s a slow week as far as wine events go, although I’m sure I’ve missed things. But there are two big things next week, to make up for the lack of one-off events. First off, it’s Restaurant Week. You can go to any of the listed Greater Cincinnati Independent restaurants and get a 3-course dinner for $26.10. Restaurant week runs March 22 – 28.

Next weekend is also BeerFest! I’m pretty sure you’ll find Kevin, probably with the Hoperatives, at the Festival on Friday night. After all, BeerFest is to the Hoperatives what WineFest is to me. You’ll be amazed at this particular BeerFest. It’s in the convention center and sounds like it’s roughly the size of the WineFest. Yep, it’s that big but a whole lot cheaper. It runs March 26-28 and features over 130 different beers. Tickets are only $35. Buy your tickets online ahead of time though, as they’re capping the number of guests for each session.

As a note, I will be out of town all next week and through the next weekend (I’m missing BeerFest). I’m sort of crossing the country, from Seattle to Orlando and back to Cincinnati. Needless to say, there will not be a Featured Events post next week – I’ll be somewhere between the West and East Coast and probably jetlagged.

Remember, all the recurring events, those dependable weekly tastings, are displayed on our calendar. The one-time events are after the jump.

For information on what’s going on in Dayton, you can refer to Mark’s blog at Uncorked.

Local Wine Tasting Event Calendar

Map IconFriday Interactive Wine Tasting Map

Map IconSaturday Interactive Wine Tasting Map

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Posted by Michelle at 9:54 am in Weekly Cincinnati Wine Events | Permalink | Comments (1)
Mar 18

RIP Fess Parker

I was sad to hear today about the passing of Fess Parker.

As many of you know, last weekend I poured wine for Epiphany and Fortress, wines that are part of the Fess Parker family of wines, and I got to spend time with Kate Snider, a member of Fess’s extended family. Back in the fall, I had the chance to meet Eli, Fess’s son, at a Dilly Cafe wine dinner. And of course, the Disney-phile in me always thinks of the roles Fess played – Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone.

Fess Parker bought the original winery land in the Sanya Ynez Valley, and in 1989, he and Eli hoped to plant a small vineyard to sell fruit. That small dream eventually became a much larger one, and the Fess Parker Winery now produces over 130,000 cases on their extensive acreage. Additionally, Fess Parker winery has a visitor center and tasting room  along the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail. You can see the Fess Parker winery in Sideways, and even pick up a coonskin cap if you stop by.

Fess Parker makes some great wines. In particular, we’ve got two bottles of the Clone 115 Pinot Noir just waiting for us to pick up at the Dilly Cafe.

Fess Parker was 85 and died at home of natural causes.

For more on Fess Parker wines, see the guest post from the Hoperatives from July: When You Wish Upon A Grape: Disney-Related Wines.

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Posted by Michelle at 7:22 pm in RIP | Permalink | Comments (1)
Mar 17

Wine Shop Wednesday: Domain Servin Vielles Vignes

This week we again welcome Bryant Phillips to Wine Shop Wednesday. You may remember Bryant from Sturkey’s or Chalk. Currently you can find him at the excellent Wise Owl Wine Bar in West Chester. If you’re anywhere near IKEA, you’re near the Wise Owl. Stop by and have a drink – it’s worth it. I visit whenever I’m on my way home from meetings in Dayton.

Surprising as it may be, we’ve been drinking some great Chardonnay at the Wise Owl.  Not surprising because Chardonnay isn’t great (although we’ve all had a few that aren’t), but because we’ve just been drinking so many heady, opulent reds during these past few frigid months. Particularly, we’ve stumbled upon a brilliant Chablis from Domaine Servin.  It’s their “Selection Massale” Vieilles Vignes 2005.

Domain Servin is a small family owned winery with just about 33 hectares of vineyard property including some 1er & Grand Cru parcels.  Chablis itself consists of about 6000 hectares.  The Servin name dates back to to the middle of the 17th century and has owned and worked the Domaine for seven generations.

For us, the ’05 Massale is at once silky and yet rustic .  The bottle age has integrated the tell tale, flinty, minerality of Chablis. It also shows opulent baked apple and slight tropical notes.  Its deceptively dry even as the nose teases you with something like apple custard.  Balanced alcohol and an excruciatingly long finish make this wine our “go-to” wine for the springtime days that have us flirting with our T-shirt collection.

The fact that its only $50 on our list, makes this wine that much more appealing.

We’ve had a great few months at the Wise Owl.  We saw some great wines from Old Bridge Cellars, learned a ton about blind tasting and pinot noir, hosted an event with Some Young Punks, and Chef Dave’s new kitchen menu kept everyone warm and full.  March promises to be even better as we welcome a new acoustic duo and on March 24 we’ll see the glorious return of cocktail mistress Molly Wellman.


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Posted by Michelle at 8:30 am in Wine Shop Wednesday, Wine Shops | Permalink | Comments ()

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