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Jul 21

Own Your Own Winery on Facebook

Wines of Chile USA announced today the launch of their debut game on Facebook, Terroir Hunting, where users will be able to virtually run their own winery. The game will involve virtually harvesting the grapes, then bottling, selling and exporting your wines and finally having them rated by wine experts. Real Chilean winemakers will give users tips along the way as their wine empires grow.

Terroir, which notes the special characteristics that geography, geology and climate bestow upon grape varietals is one of the most important aspects of producing quality wines. In Chile there are a range of terroirs that are beneficial to many different varietals. It is the winemakers’ job to know which region is best suited for a specific varietal and to continually seek out new and unexplored terroirs, thus the term terroir hunting. As you navigate through Terroir Hunting, you will also become an expert on terroir, the winemaking process as well as selling and marketing your own wine.

“We think wine enthusiasts will have a lot of fun with this game,” says Lori Tieszen, Executive Director of Wines of Chile USA. “Becoming a terroir hunter on Facebook gives people the opportunity to virtually experience the importance of terroir in Chile and how it translates into quality wines.”

Winemakers and oenologists from Casa Silva, San Esteban, San Pedro, Santa Rita, De Martino, Undurraga, Valdivieso, Veramonte and Viña Altair will be offering expert advice and tips as the players continue to expand their wineries.
To learn more about Wines of Chile and to start playing the Terroir Hunting game, please visit http://www.facebook.com/WinesOfChile. And don’t forget, you can always visit My Wine Education on Facebook as well, where I’m trying to post photos of my current trip to Calistoga.

Editor’s note: I apologize for just cut and pasting a press release, but I’m out of town with limited access and I thought this sounded interesting enough to post. 😉

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Posted by Michelle at 4:37 pm in Web/Tech, Wine Tech | Permalink | Comments ()
Feb 22

FNI: Twittering about wine!

Are you on Twitter? Today, the Cooking with Caitlin girls are hosting a Foodies Night In that’s all about wine! Yours truly will be one of the hosts.

If you are on Twitter, just make sure you’re following me, @cookingwithcaitlin, or @girlfriendology. We’ll be tweeting questions about wine and food between the hours of 4-6 pm today.

You can follow along even if you’re not on Twitter by searching Twitter for the tag #fni, or by plugging the #fni tag into a web-based app like Tweetgrid or Tweetchat.

I hope to “see” you there!  

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Copyright Creative Commons by-nc-nd My Wine Education.
Posted by Michelle at 10:21 am in Wine Events, Wine Tech | Permalink | Comments ()
Feb 16

New Mobile Wine App

Over on my Wine & Food Pairing page, you’ll find a widget from my friend Natalie MacLean that helps you pair just about any food with any wine, beer, or spirit.
Natalie has taken that up one notch. She has just launched a new mobile application for iPhone and iPod Touch, as well as a web-based app for BlackBerry, Droid and other smartphones. The new mobile version includes all the pairings in the original widget, plus thousands of wine reviews, recipes, articles, blog posts, glossary definitions, cellar journal and winery directory. Even better, the new app is free.

Some features of the new app (as listed in the press release):

  • Find 380,000 professionally tested food and wine pairings (not generated by computer algorithm)
  • Access thousands of wine reviews by an independent journalist
  • Search the reviews by winery, price, score, region, grape, vintage, food match
  • Track your wines in your virtual cellar and add your own journal notes and scores
  • Search a directory of 10,000+ wineries to buy wine or plan a visit
  • Find thousands of tasty, tested recipes for every wine
  • Get wine savvy with articles, glossary definitions & blog posts
  • Share on Twitter, Facebook and e-mail with friends

It does look like you have to sign up for her free email newsletter to access the My Cellar portion of the mobile app. The My Cellar section lets you add bottles and your own reviews, which I assume are then hosted (privately – not shared) on Natalie’s servers.

iTunes Link / Web-based App

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Copyright Creative Commons by-nc-nd My Wine Education.
Posted by Michelle at 10:51 am in Wine Tech | Permalink | Comments (2)
Jul 21

Glassware Matters Part 2: We Can’t All Afford Riedel

I've written print articles on choosing the correct glassware. But I tend to focus on regular,
affordable glassware – not Riedel. It's important to note that wine
will always taste better in the proper glass, whether it's Riedel or
not. Riedel glasses just take things to a different level.

We can't all afford Riedel. If you're like me, you've got some Riedel, but you don't pull it out all the time for fear of breakage and the pain in the butt of cleaning it. So here are just some general glassware tips that apply even to those Joker glasses. Whether Riedel or not, glassware makes a huge difference in how a wine tastes and smells.

Admittedly, I've read articles and studies that dispute this, but when you think about it, it makes sense. A glass can direct where the liquid hits your tongue and you have vaguely different taste sensations on different regions of your tongue (although the tongue map itself has been debunked). The same with smell – it's common sense that a larger bowl will release more aroma than a closed in bowl. On top of that, we've tried this at home countless times. Cabernet doesn't taste as good from a Champagne flute, etc. Try it – you'll be surprised.

The differences in glass shape can be subtle and include the
depth, width and overall curve of the glass. The size of the bowl determines
how much or how little liquid can be swirled, affecting exposure to the air.
The shape and thickness of the rim directs the wine to specific parts of the
tongue with different taste sensitivities. Finally, the diameter of the opening
concentrates or expands the wine’s bouquet.
  • Red wine glasses are characterized by their larger bowls, often
    compared to the shape of a balloon. The wider bowl helps accumulate the aromas
    and aerate the wine.
  • A white wine glass often has a smaller bowl and straighter sides,
    shaped similar to a tulip. The smaller shape allows less air to circulate, and
    has less effect on the chilled temperature of the wine.
  • Champagne and sparkling wine are best drunk from flutes. A flute
    allows the wine to bubble from a single source at the bottom. The coupe, which is a flatter style glass
    with an open mouth, is not recommended as it lets air, and bubbles, escape the

Buying a stemware set for each varietal can get expensive. In
fact, professional tasters and wine judges use just one type of glass. In an
all-purpose wine glass, you only need a couple of things:

  • Clear
    Clear glass, as opposed to tinted, allows you to view the color of
    the wine, which you often can’t do in the bottle. The color of the wine can
    often be a tip as to whether the wine has gone bad. For this reason, you also
    want to avoid cut-glass and heavy crystal. Save those decorated glasses for
    iced tea and water.
  • Shape.
    A glass with a tulip-shaped bowl is important. The curve helps hold the bouquet
    of the wine. The bowl should also be large enough so that you can swirl the
    wine without spilling. Generally, the opening of the glass should not be larger
    than the widest part of the bowl.
  • Thin rim.
    A wine glass rim should hardly be noticeable and should never impede the
    wine from reaching your mouth. A glass with a thick rim can get in the way of
    the wine. The rim, along with the shape of the glass, can help direct where the
    wine hits your tongue.
  • Stem.
    The breakable stem on a wine glass actually serves a purpose. It allows you to
    hold the glass without affecting the temperature of the wine. If you hold a
    wine glass by the bowl, the warmth of your hands will warm up the wine. The
    best wine glasses have stems that were obviously pulled from the bowl, which
    adds stability and strength, despite the fragile appearance.

No matter what wine glass you choose, take care when washing the
glasses. Wine glasses can hold the scent of your dishwashing detergent and the
detergent may also leave a residue. For your better glasses, eschew soap
altogether. Treat your  stemware as
you might a fine cashmere sweater. Wash your stemware by hand under hot water
and hang to dry.

When it comes down to it, you can drink wine out of a jelly glass
if need be. But to best expose the flavors and colors of the wine, you want to
pay a little attention to your glassware. A basic collection should include
several tulip-shaped, all-purpose glasses, as well as some champagne flutes. A
more tailored collection that won’t break the bank might include 2-4
balloon-shaped glasses for red wine, 2-4 tulip-shapes for whites, and several
champagne flutes.

Glassmakers at Riedel follow the maxim that content determines
shape, and form follows function. While the type of glass may enhance the
experience, remember that the contents of the glass is what is truly important.
A friend of mine made the comment that she will “drink my wine out of a dixie
cup if I must. What’s important is the wine!” Let’s raise a glass to that!

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Posted by Michelle at 8:15 am in Knowledge, Tastings, Wine Misc, Wine Tech | Permalink | Comments (6)
Jul 20

Glassware Matters (Part 1): Riedel Seminar

On our last day at sea on the Cruise Ship, we took a Riedel (rhymes with "needle") glassware seminar. It was actually a really interesting seminar, just in the way they forced you to compare the glasses.

The ship team of sommeliers all participated in the presentation, and
one of the first things they said was the clearest: Glasses are the
loudspeaker of the wine, instruments to increase your enjoyment."

We started out with 5 different glasses spread out in front of us. Four of those were from the Riedel Vinum set (Chardonnay, Burgundy/Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, and Bordeaux). The fifth glass was labeled as the Joker glass (ie, generic) and is the wine glass that was standard throughout the cruise ship and was not Riedel. It's worth noting that every time I've judged a wine competition, we've used similar generic glasses.

We received the wine one pour at a time, starting with the Sauvignon Blanc and then we started pouring and tasting wine as follows:

1. Sauvignon Blanc in the Sauvignon Blanc glass
2. Sauvignon Blanc in the Joker glass
3. Chardonnay in the Chardonnay glass
4. Chardonnay in the Sauvignon Blanc glass
5. Sauvignon Blanc in the Chardonnay glass
6. Chardonnay in the Joker glass
7. Pinot Noir in the PN glass
8. Pinot Noir in the Chardonnay glass
9. Bordeaux (in this case, Shiraz) in the Bordeaux glass
10. Bordeaux in the Pinot Noir glass
11. Pinot Noir in the Bordeaux glass
12. Bordeaux in the Joker glass

Needless to say, with all the pouring and switching going on, you really had to pay attention.

Riedel uses the idea of a Tongue Map to prove that glassware matters, and that directing wine to a particular part of your tongue makes a difference in what you taste. Now, the Tongue Map has been debunked, although it does have its roots in accuracy. From what I've read, while your tongue isn't strictly laid out in the maps areas, certain taste buds are slightly stronger in these areas as compared to other locations. So while you might pick up acid all over your tongue, it's strongest on the sides. As a general guide, our sommeliers told us that we pick up more acidity on the sides of our tongue, harshness/bitterness towards the back, and sweetness in the front, with weight of a beverage landing in the middle. 

So did it make a difference? Of course. Keeping in mind that holding a feather-weight, lovely glass in your hand can also influence your perceptions. However, the Estancia Chardonnay tasted soft, with less oak, and full of vanilla when I tasted it in the Vinum Chardonnay glass. When it was moved to the Sauvignon Blanc glass, it  had more compressed flavors and higher acidity. I didn't care for it. In the Joker glass, there were no aromas and what had been a decent wine before was suddenly harsh and poorly balanced. It made me consider that perhaps I would like Chardonnay a little more if I drank it out of proper glassware on a regular basis.

Perhaps the one that stood out the most for me was the Kendall-Jackson Pinot Noir. I'm not a huge Kendall-Jackson fan, and I admit I scrunched my nose up when they poured the Pinot Noir into my Burgundy glass. The Pinot had soft aromas of earth and vanilla. Supposedly, the glass sent the wine directly to the center of my tongue, so I tasted a Pinot Noir reminiscent of what I smelled: softness, earth, vanilla, with just a hint of oak. Later, the KJ Pinot Noir ended up in the Joker glass and I hated it. I commented to Kevin that this was what I'd expected the Pinot Noir to taste like from the beginning. Again, maybe I should break out my Riedel glassware more often.

Another interesting note was on the Bordeaux glass, which we used for an Aussie Shingleback 2005 Shiraz. The Bordeaux glass is what our sommeliers said can serve as the Riedel All-Purpose glass. But they also called it the Tannin Tamer and I experimented with that later at the wine bar. Dump any tannic wine into this glass and it does lessen them to a certain degree – at least in compared to the Joker glass.

Although I'd been sold on the concept of glassware making a difference before the Riedel seminar, this excellent demonstration rather drove the point home. I do believe there are elements of visual expectation and psychology involved in it, and I'd drink wine in a paper cup if you gave it to me that way, but glassware does matter.

Tomorrow I'll talk a little more about general glassware tips. After all, we can't all afford Riedel. (Luckily, Kevin and I each got a set included with the seminar.)

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Posted by Michelle at 10:08 am in Knowledge, Tastings, Wine Misc, Wine Tech | Permalink | Comments (7)

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