This Week on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© Author Becky Sue Epstein on Champagne: A Global History


Check out the radio show on The Trail 103.3FM and U 104.5FM.  The live stream feed is online at http://www.trail1033.com where you can click on “Listen Live”.  The WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© airs on both radio stations Sunday mornings at 10:00AM MST.

Social Media links;

Today’s Podcast with Author Becky Sue Epstein; http://trail1033.podbean.com/2012/08/12/wine-guy-mike-for-august-12/

YouTube preview of this week’s show with Becky Sue Epstein; http://youtu.be/ZrIZX-k9pHc

Recent Podcast with head winemaker of Balletto Vineyards & Winery, Mr. Anthony Beckman; http://trail1033.podbean.com/2012/07/29/wine-guy-mike-for-july-29/

Recent week’s podcast; What You Need To Know About Wine  http://trail1033.podbean.com/2012/07/15/wine-guy-mike-for-july-15/

Recent week’s podcast; Perfect Patio Wines http://trail1033.podbean.com/2012/07/01/wine-guy-mike-for-july-1/

Recent podcast; (full length conversation) with Maximilian Riedel, CEO Riedel Crystal of America http://trail1033.podbean.com/2012/06/24/wine-guy-mike-for-june-24/

NBC Montana Today TV Segment; Perfect Patio Wines and food pairing; http://www.nbcmontana.com/news/Mike-Tornatore-8-7-12/-/14594602/15999458/-/67a5ri/-/index.html

YouTube; My YouTube channel of course is WineGuyMike™ or the actual URL link: http://www.youtube.com/user/WineGuyMike?feature=mhum

Facebook; WineGuyMike please “like”

Twitter; @WineGuyMike please follow me

Ciao Mambo, “Eat Like You Mean It”, located in Missoula on The Hip Strip.  Find them online at www.CiaoMambo.com

Sleep City Missoula  www.SleepCity.com

Liquid Planet “Best of Beverage” and a great place to find your holiday wine located in the heart of downtown Missoula.

Georges Distributing in Helena, Montana

This week on the WineGuyMike Radio Show I had the distinct pleasure of hosting award winning author Becky Sue Epstein.  As a long- time editor for numerous Wine & Spirit magazine publications Epstein shares her in-depth experience through her newest book Champagne: A Global History.

Epstein began her career as a restaurant reviewer for the Los Angeles Times while working in the TV and Film Industry in the 1980’s and early 1990’s.  The last 20 years she has focused her attention on Food, Wine, Spirits, and Travel writing for publications on the East and West Coasts.

Epstein and I had a terrific conversation on the show this week, this author keeps a very busy schedule between travel and research, somehow she finds time to write books.  Her award-winning cookbook The American Lighthouse Cookbook (Sourcebooks/Cumberland, co-written with Chef Ed Jackson) came out last year. Epstein’s second book is an entirely new update of the classic kitchen reference Substituting Ingredients (Sourcebooks June 2010) which is already in its third printing.  

The latest book, Champagne: A Global History (Reaktion, September 2011) spotlight’s sparkling wines from around the world, a great short read not only for Champagne and sparkling wine lovers but also those who want to learn more about this sexy, luxurious bubbly beverage.

In Epstein’s newest book she hi-lights influential people throughout world history who literally have shaped the face of this effervescent beverage.  She also provides readers with the 411 on all things sparkling in your glass.  This is important to know because this information empowers the consumer, allowing you to indulge in a budget minded way.  That’s right you can enjoy a daily glass of very good bubbly and not exceed you wine budget.

I want to thank Becky Sue Epstein for such an informative, lively, and engaging conversation.  I highly recommend this interesting and informative book, Champagne: A Global History.  This is a great short read that is only 132 pages in length, yet long on information empowering you as an expert consumer of Champagne and sparkling wine.  This book is available at Amazon.com as an ebook or hardcover online at http://amzn.to/NvZpxB Learn more about Becky Sue Epstein at www.BeckySueEpstein.com

I have two very inexpensive yet excellent sparkling wines I’m recommending for you this week.  Both are available especially priced at Liquid Planet, Missoula’s “Best of Beverage”, located in the Heart of Downtown Missoula.

The wines reviewed today all receive the WineGuyMike™ Seal of Approval™

 You can listen to the show live on the Trail 103.3FM or U 104.5FM.  These shows are podcast for your convenience and available on my blog at; www.WineGuyMike.wordpress.com

From my table to yours,

"from my table to yours"

This Week on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© Chenin Blanc and Fondue for You


Check out the radio show on The Trail 103.3FM and Fresh 104.5FM.  The live stream feed is online at http://www.trail1033.com where you can click on “Listen Live”.  The WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© airs on both radio stations Sunday mornings at 10:00AM MST.

Social Media links;

Today’s Podcasthttp://trail1033.podbean.com/2012/01/22/wine-guy-mike-for-january-22/

NBC Montana Today TV Segment with Christmas wines; http://www.nbcmontana.com/video/30063511/index.html

YouTube; My YouTube channel of course is WineGuyMike™ or the actual URL link: http://www.youtube.com/user/WineGuyMike?feature=mhum

Facebook; WineGuyMike please “like”

Twitter; @WineGuyMike please follow me

Sponsors      

Ciao Mambo, “Eat Like You Mean It”, located in Missoula on The Hip Strip.  Find them online at www.CiaoMambo.com

Sleep City Missoula  www.SleepCity.com

Liquid Planet “Best of Beverage” and a great place to find your holiday wine located in the heart of downtown Missoula.

W.J. Deutsch & Sons since 1981 has been marketing quality wines produced by prestigious families from major wine regions of the world. 

Georges Distributing in Helena, Montana.

Good Sunday morning and welcome to the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show©. 

The Loire Valley is well known not only for its wines but it also is the summer playground of the rich, famous and royalty.  The countryside of the Loire Valley is embellished with elegant and enormous chateaux.

While the Loire Valley is the largest white wine producing region in France, it is also the second largest producer of sparkling wine in France.  But what the region is truly famous for is Chenin Blanc.

This wine whether you prefer an Old World or New World style of Chenin Blanc made in a dry style pairs very well with my favorite dinner this winter, Cheese Fondue.  The blend of cheeses in this delectable winter comfort food is a staple for the Swiss.  The wines that I’m recommending today are perfect partners with the Cheese Fondue recipe I’m also sharing with you, (see this recipe at the end of today’s blog post).      

Chenin Blanc is such a very versatile grape that it can produced as a standalone varietal or as a blending grape, typically with Chardonnay.  It is dry, very crisp, acidic, high in alcohol content, yet is smooth and a full bodied white wine.  Chenin Blanc wines are intense, aromatic, and floral on the nose.  On the palate this grape will deliver a wide spectrum of flavors and textures.  One’s palate may experience everything from slight citrus, grasses, spiciness, a little bit of honey, and lush tropical fruit. 

This grape is commonly referred to as the “chameleon”, it is diverse and can be made in many styles.  In the Loire Valley of France Chenin Blanc is known as Vouvray, it is the best example of French Chenin Blanc. 

In the Old World Chenin Blanc is frequently used as a blending grape with Chardonnay.   These two grape varietals are wonderful companions in a wine and I’ll be sharing one of these with you today.  In the New World Chenin Blanc is typically produced as a single varietal wine.

Old World winemakers ferment their wines at higher temperatures and age their Chenin Blanc wines in acacia and chestnut barrels.   This Old World technique produces wines that are well rounded with a greater depth of desirable color.   New World winemakers will use steel tanks for fermenting and aging.   This technique preserves crispiness, acidity, and fruitiness that are terrific attributes of a well made Chenin Blanc wine.  New World style Chenin Blanc’s are typically lighter in color than its Old World counterparts.  Color varies with style and approach in making wine, wood barrels vs. steel tanks produce different results.

The versatility of Chenin Blanc allows winemakers the flexibility to transform this chameleon of a grape into many different styles ranging from dry to sweet, or as a sparkling wine.  This wine is often described as having a taste profile driven by minerality, greengage, angelica, and honey.  The dry or semi-sweet styles exhibit flavors of chalky minerality, honey, quince, and acacia. 

Vouvray from the Loire Valley is offered in three different styles; dry which is known as (Sec), medium-dry or (Demi-Sec), sweet (Moelleux, m wah leuh), or as a sparkling wine.  Winemakers of the New World are striving for a dry wine that both intense and floral.  A well made Chenin Blanc wine is delightful on the nose, notes of floral aroma and scent of banana, pear, guava, and pineapple. This wine is crisp, acidic, and tropical with a little nuance of spice on the palate.  Paired correctly with food this wine is beautiful and can bring out the very best in the food.

Each year weather is a determining factor in the type of wine that is produced in Vouvray.  Cool years produce vintages of dry or sparkling wines, while warm years produce sweet wines such as Moelleux, (m wah leuh).  Because wines of Vouvray are naturally high in acid they may be aged in some cases up to 100 years.

The soil in Vouvray consists of calcareous clay, producing Chenin Blanc wines that are rounded and balanced, delivering nice body, fruit, and acid.  Almost all vineyards in the Loire Valley are planted on sloped plateau with southern exposure.  Streams run through the area and this combination offer ideal growing conditions.  Old World winemaking technique truly compliment the terroir of this region, the wines are stunning.

Marc Bredif Vouvray 2008 from the Loire Valley, France ($21.99)

This is one of the finest examples of Vouvray I have ever tasted.  Visually this wine is sintilating in the glass, presenting a geourgeous pale gold yellow. On the nose this wine is intense with floral and fruit driven scent.  Marc Bredif Vouvray is perfectly deceptive on the entry and then reveals itself as lush and full on the mid-palate.  Crisp, lush, yet a slight citrusy tart quality that shows a little citrus and a perfect grassiness that while this wine is big on flavor it is beautifully dry.  Next you experience wonderful fruit led by exquisite pineapple with layers of other subtle yet a wonderful supporting cast of tropical fruits.  color is pale gold yellow.  It has a very intense and fruity nose with notes of white flowers and quince.  It has a subtle attack on the palette and a fresh structure and aromatic finish.

Tariquet Chenin Chardonnay, a unique recipe 75% Chenin 25% Chardonnay ($9.99)

This wine from the Southwestern Languedoc Rousillon region is a lovely wine and at this price you can’t go wrong.  It’s crisp, it’s creamy, yes a treasure of a wine.

The contrast between the Chenin Blanc minerality and the creamy Chardonnay is somewhat reminiscent of sweet and sour cooking.  Refreshing, bold and full of flavor on the entry with underlying notes of crisp ripe grapes, followed by a satisfying finish.  Faint floral shades of vanilla and toffee take turns revealing their delights, while a touch of saltiness leads to a pleasant lingering finish.

L’Ecole N° 41  2010 Chenin Blanc – Columbia Valley ($10.99)

This second generation, family-owned artisan winery located in the historic Frenchtown School depicted on our label.   Founded in 1983, they are the third oldest winery in the Walla Walla Valley.  As a traditional brick and mortar winery they grow and make 100% of their wine.  The focus is on terroir-driven, distinctive, and expressive wines.  All of L’Ecole’s Walla Walla Valley wines are made from grapes which are certified sustainable.

This fresh, tart and delightfully fruity Chenin Blanc shows Asian pear, perfumed honeysuckle and orange blossom aromas with flavors of apple, apricot, and grapefruit on a crisp mineral, lightly sweet finish.

L’Ecole Nº 41 has produced this old vine, Vouvray style Chenin Blanc since 1987. Jean Ferguson, L’Ecole Nº 41’s founding winemaker, loved this wine and crafted her version of Vouvray through cold fermentation to enhance the fruity and floral esters.  This wine offers great value.

WineGuyMike’s™ Cheese Fondue Recipe

Preparation – Chop on Shallot finely, 1 loaf of crusty cubed bread, grated 2 cups of Gruyere cheese, grated 1 1/3 cup Emmenthal cheese, cube ½ cup of Brie cheese, have one real lemon and corn starch

  1. Combine one finely chopped Shallot
  2. Add 1 ¼  cup of Cristilino Extra Dry Cava(Sparkling wine)
    1. Combine and bring to a medium boil for 2 minutes, then turn off heat
    2. Add all cheeses and stir to combine, cheese will begin to melt
    3. In a bowl mix 4 tsp. of corn starch with 1 Tbls. Of real lemon juice
    4. Return mixture to a medium heat and stir for 10 minutes
    5. Mixture will melt and then begin to thicken.  At about the 8 minute mark add about 4-5 healthy shakes of nutmeg and about 4-5 generous shakes of white pepper
    6. Continue to stir and combine all ingredients, once mixture thickens reduce heat to a consistent medium-low heat  

Grab your fondue fork and poke a piece of cubed bread, dunk it in the Cheese Fondue.  Choose one of the wines I have recommended today and enjoy a perfect mid-winters meal. 

Cheers from WineGuyMike™

"from my table to yours"

"from my table to yours"

“A Good Friend And A Glass Of Bubbly” this week on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show©


Check out the radio show on The Trail 103.3FM and Fresh 104.5FM.  The live stream feed is online at http://www.trail1033.com where you can click on “Listen Live”.  The WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© airs on both radio stations Sunday mornings at 10:00AM MST.

Social Media links;

Today’s Podcast; http://trail1033.podbean.com/2012/01/01/wine-guy-mike-for-1112/

NBC Montana Today TV Segment with Christmas wines; http://www.nbcmontana.com/video/30063511/index.html

YouTube; My YouTube channel of course is WineGuyMike™ or the actual URL link: http://www.youtube.com/user/WineGuyMike?feature=mhum

Facebook; WineGuyMike please “like”

Twitter; @WineGuyMike please follow me

Sponsors      

Ciao Mambo, “Eat Like You Mean It”, located in Missoula on The Hip Strip.  Find them online at www.CiaoMambo.com

Sleep City Missoula  www.SleepCity.com

Liquid Planet “Best of Beverage” and a great place to find your holiday wine located in the heart of downtown Missoula.

W.J. Deutsch & Sons since 1981 has been marketing quality wines produced by prestigious families from major wine regions of the world. 

Georges Distributing in Helena, Montana.

WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© special fan of 2012, my Granddaughter Elle Marie

Happy New Years and welcome to the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© this Sunday morning.  Out with the old and in with the new, that’s today’s agenda and with that I had the pleasure of sitting down with a special friend who has been a pioneer throughout his career.   Earl Sherron founder of Earl’s Distributing in Missoula, Montana joined me this week on the radio show to share his insight about Champagne and Sparkling wine. 

Earl Sherron

Earl Sherron

Earl is a man of integrity, wisdom, and experience and he gave me the opportunity to become involved in the wine industry some fifteen years ago.  He has been a mentor, an inspiration and source of encouragement every since.

A little bit about Earl Sherron:

Earl Sherron was the youngest beverage distributor in the state of Montana when he created Earl’s distributing in Missoula in 1968.

 At the time the company only represented two brands of beer–Great Falls Select and the Olympia brewing company. Earl’s continued to grow as it acquired many more brands of beer throughout the years.

The state of Montana controlled the sale of wine until 1979. After this time distributors were able to make wine more accessible to the public by offering placement in grocery and convenience stores.

During this time Earl’s was the only member in the state belonging to the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America.  The WSWA is a national trade organization representing the wholesale branch of the wine industry.

By cultivating relationships with vintners, the company was able to grow its portfolio of domestic and imported brands of wine.

Earl had a commitment to the industry by promoting wine as part of a gracious lifestyle.  The culture and education of wine was available to the consumer through popular wine festivals.  The most important component of these events was not only experiencing a variety of wines, but giving back to the community as all events sponsored a local non-profit organization.

After 38 years in the business the company had 100% market share of domestic & imported wine for the western Montana territory.

Earl’s philosophy of striving to deliver positive results to the community and its employees was the core system of the company.  The tradition of sharing wine and champagne makes every day events a celebration.

I want to thank my featured guest and special person who has meant more in my life than he realizes.  Thank you Earl, and Happy New Year’s to you and all of your family.

Champagne and Sparkling wines are drinks of celebration, so it is important to understand what’s out there, and more importantly how they are different. 

The Champagne region of France produces some of the finest sparkling wines in the world.  Typically there are three grapes used in the blend for sparkling wines; Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier.  Different vintages are used to create the blend, or the “cuvee”. 

Pink Champagne is strained through the Pinot Noir grape skins which create its beautiful color.  Blanc de Blancs is true French Champagne; it is produced entirely from the Chardonnay grape.

Designations of quality:

Prestige cuvee:

This Champagne is the highest priced and is available only in small quantities.  It is designated “Prestige” because the grapes come from the best grapes grown in the highest rated villages. It is made from the first pressing of the grapes, produced only as a vintage, and will have been aged longer than vintage and non-vintage Champagnes.

Vintage Champagne:                                     

Some select years produce an outstanding grape harvest.  The Vintage Champagnes are aged for at least three years.  Remember, a Vintage Champagne will be identified by an actual year marked on the label, but expect to pay a premium for this.

Non-Vintage Champagne:

The majority of Sparkling wine on the shelf of a store is non-vintage.  These are a blend of wines aged for two years.

How to identify your Champagne

  • Brut is Dry
  • Extra Dry is Semidry
  • Sec is Semisweet
  • Demi-sec is Sweet

Other sparkling Wine Regions:

Loire Valley of France produces Crémant, while the Asti region of Italy produces Asti Spumanti, and Prosecco comes from the Veneto region.  The Catalonia region of Spain produces the world’s most popular sparkling wine, Cava.

Prosecco is mainly produced as a sparkling wine in either the fully sparkling (spumante) or lightly sparkling (frizzante, gentile) styles.  Prosecco spumante, which has undergone a full secondary fermentation, is the more expensive style.   Depending on their sweetness, Proseccos are labeled “brut”, “extra dry”, or “dry”, with the brut being the driest.

Asti Spumante is a sweet sparkling wine with a mellow effervescence.  It is produced in the Italian province of Asti and made from the Moscato grape.  Spumante is a fruit forward sparkling wine that is grapy, and has low alcohol content usually around 8 percent.  Moscato d’Asti is a sparkling wine that is frizzante in style and more refined than the Asti Spumante.

Cava originated in the Catalonia region at the in the late 19th century.  Cava is produced in different styles ranging from dry to sweet; Brut Nature, Brut (extra dry), Seco (dry), Semiseco (medium) and Dulce (sweet).  

Suggestions:

$$$(20.00 & up) = Expensive, complex, sophisticated selections

$$(14.00 -20.00) = Excellent quality, some of the nuance and complexity of $$$

$(under 14.00) = Simple, fun, value

Gosset Champagne $$$

This champagne presents in the glass as crystal clear, pale golden hue with persistent fine, lively bubbles.  The bouquet of this Champagne is intense, elegant and inviting on the nose.  Fresh floral notes reminiscent of honeysuckle, wisteria and white jasmine seamlessly give way to exotic aromas of pineapple, guava and mango with hints of caramel, gingerbread and cinnamon.  A trace of pear liqueur completes the harmonious finish.

The taste of this invigoratingly fresh and refined champagne is characterized by rich density and volume.  On the palate, delicate floral notes give way to flavors of sweet peaches and nectarines over subtle notes of spices like cardamom and green pepper.  The finish is delicate and smooth, with irresistible and deliciously sensual flavors of candied fruit, cinnamon and licorice.

L’Ermitage 2002 $$$

L’ERMITAGE is Roederer Estate’s special Tête de Cuvée, which has consistently been rated one of California’s top sparkling wines since its debut in 1989.  Taking a cue from owner Champagne Louis Roederer, Roederer Estate produces its sparkling wines in the traditional French methode champenoise and adds special oak-aged reserve wines to each blend.  L’ERMITAGE is made only in exceptional years, of pre-selected grapes that come from the very best lots.

Fine tiny bubbles and a long lasting mousse are the usual footprints of the L’ERMITAGE cuvée.  This cuvée from the palindromic vintage 2002 is showing great notes of “tarte tatin”: baked apples and buttery crust, with notes of apricot and delicate vanilla bean.  The mouthfeel is creamy, expresses flavors of quince and bread crust, with a clean and crisp yet long finish.

Roederer Estate Brut NV $$

Roederer Estate Brut, the first California sparkling wine produced by Champagne Louis Roederer, builds upon a 200-year tradition of fine winemaking that has made Roederer Champagne among the most sought-after in the world.

The Roederer Estate Brut is crisp and elegant with complex pear, spice and hazelnut flavors. It is fresh and lightly fruity with great finesse and depth of flavor.

Gruet Brut Rose $

This nearly garnet Rose, like all our non-vintage sparkling wines, is aged 24 months en tirage. It has a lovely, bright floral bouquet with hints of strawberry, raspberry, and cherry. On the palate, it is rich and fruity in a dry, Brut style. The flavor of berries continues on the palate, revealing more strawberry, raspberry, cherry. This sparkler is lots of fun and very festive, but production is limited to 5000 cases per year, so don’t miss out!

Vietti Moscato d’Asti Cascinetta 2010 $$

Straw color, frizzante, peach, rose petal, ginger, sweet & delicate on the palate. Good balance of fruit and acidity, complex, apricots on the finish.

Lamberti Prosecco $

This non-vintage Prosecco Extra Dry offers lovely balance in a perfumed, crisp style defined by green apples, flowers and sweet spices.  The finish is long and polished.

Jaume Serra Cristalino Brut $

This fine Spanish sparkling wine is made using the Traditional Method, in which the secondary fermentation producing a sparkling wine’s bubbles occurs in the bottle. Its fresh, toasty nose, beautiful citrus, green apple and mineral flavors, supple, lively mouth-feel, and clean, crisp finish make it the ultimate celebratory wine.

Jaume Serra Cristalino Brut – Extra Dry $

Slightly off-dry, it offers fresh pear and apple aromas and rich citrus, peach and green apple flavors. A subtle yeasty tone and a refreshing, elegant finish.

2008 Argyle Brut $$$

63% Oregon Pinot Noir, 37% Oregon Chardonnay, Sparkling Wine

In the glass this wine presents a soft straw color with tight tiny streams of bubbles.  On the nose you get full aromas of creamy vanilla poached pear and fresh sour dough starter.  The first impression on the palate is of how well balanced this wine is, playing the purity of fruit off of the fresh acidity while showcasing the wine’s natural mineral notes.  There are notes of ripe guava, red Anjou pear, Meyer lemon, and lightly toasted brioche, finishing with notes of honeysuckle and lemon curd.  A great vintage of sparkling wine from Argyle in the Willamette Valley of Oregon.

Saint-Hilaire Blanquette de Limoux $

 This sparkler is probably the oldest sparkling wine in the world.  We know that in 1531, the Benedictine Monks of the Abbey of Saint-Hilaire were already producing Blanquette de Limoux which certainly makes it France’s Oldest Sparkling Wine preceding Champagne by more than a century.

This Cremant Dry, toasty, smooth and clean SAINT-HILAIRE truly captivates with an attractive yeasty aroma and luscious creamy texture. The palate is light and crisp with citrus and apple flavors and the body is just hefty enough.

Rotari Talento Brut $

Rotari was born in the heart of the Dolomites.  The mountain climate, the special care of the vineyards, the dedication of our winemakers in the manual selection and harvest of the grapes give life to the fresh and fragrant bubbles that are both complex and enjoyable reflections of the characteristics of the region.  The Metodo Classico, its history, and its long aging process on its yeast bestow upon Rotari unique and unrepeatable characteristics.

Produced with Chardonnay grapes that are selected and harvested by hand and originate exclusively from the best vineyards in the hills of Trentino.  At the foot of the Dolomites, where the Chardonnay expresses best its fresh and fruity character, the Rotari Brut is fragrant, intense and elegant.

I would like to offer a New Year’s toast to all of you, may your New Year be filled with health, happiness, and prosperity.  I thank each and everyone of my audience for making my year what it has been. 

"from my table to yours"

"from my table to yours"

Champagne and Sparkling Wines Suggestions From WineGuyMike™


The following recommendations were featured on NBC’s Montana Today Show this morning.  I will be featuring additional recommendations over the next 48 hours so stay tuned.

Champagne and Sparkling wines are drinks of celebration, so it is important to understand what’s out there, and more importantly how they are different. 

The Champagne region of France produces some of the finest sparkling wines in the world.  Typically there are three grapes used in the blend for sparkling wines; Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier.  Different vintages are used to create the blend, or the “cuvee”. 

Pink Champagne is strained through the Pinot Noir grape skins which create its beautiful color.  Blanc de Blancs is true French Champagne; it is produced entirely from the Chardonnay grape.

Designations of quality:

Prestige cuvee:

This Champagne is the highest priced and is available only in small quantities.  It is designated “Prestige” because the grapes come from the best grapes grown in the highest rated villages. It is made from the first pressing of the grapes, produced only as a vintage, and will have been aged longer than vintage and non-vintage Champagnes.

Vintage Champagne:                                     

Some select years produce an outstanding grape harvest.  The Vintage Champagnes are aged for at least three years.  Remember, a Vintage Champagne will be identified by an actual year marked on the label, but expect to pay a premium for this.

Non-Vintage Champagne:

The majority of Sparkling wine on the shelf of a store is non-vintage.  These are a blend of wines aged for two years.

How to identify your Champagne

  • Brut is Dry
  • Extra Dry is Semidry
  • Sec is Semisweet
  • Demi-sec is Sweet

Other sparkling Wine Regions:

Loire Valley of France produces Crémant, while the Asti region of Italy produces Asti Spumanti, and Prosecco comes from the Veneto region.  The Catalonia region of Spain produces the world’s most popular sparkling wine, Cava.

Prosecco is mainly produced as a sparkling wine in either the fully sparkling (spumante) or lightly sparkling (frizzante, gentile) styles.  Prosecco spumante, which has undergone a full secondary fermentation, is the more expensive style.   Depending on their sweetness, Proseccos are labeled “brut”, “extra dry”, or “dry”, with the brut being the driest.

Asti Spumante is a sweet sparkling wine with a mellow effervescence.  It is produced in the Italian province of Asti and made from the Moscato grape.  Spumante is a fruit forward sparkling wine that is grapy, and has low alcohol content usually around 8 percent.  Moscato d’Asti is a sparkling wine that is frizzante in style and more refined than the Asti Spumante.

Cava originated in the Catalonia region at the in the late 19th century.  Cava is produced in different styles ranging from dry to sweet; Brut Nature, Brut (extra dry), Seco (dry), Semiseco (medium) and Dulce (sweet).  

Suggestions:

$$$(20.00 & up) = Expensive, complex sophisticated selections

$$(14.00 -20.00) = Excellent quality, some of the nuance and complexity of $$$

$(under 14.00) = Simple, fun, value

Gosset Champagne $$$

A crystal clear, pale golden hue with persistent fine, lively bubbles.  The bouquet of this Champagne is intense, elegant and inviting on the nose. Fresh floral notes reminiscent of honeysuckle, wisteria and white jasmine seamlessly give way to exotic aromas of pineapple, guava and mango with hints of caramel, gingerbread and cinnamon.  A trace of pear liqueur completes the harmonious finish.

The taste of this invigoratingly fresh and refined champagne is characterized by rich density and volume.  On the palate, delicate floral notes give way to flavors of sweet peaches and nectarines over subtle notes of spices like cardamom and green pepper.  The finish is delicate and smooth, with irresistible and deliciously sensual flavors of candied fruit, cinnamon and licorice.

L’Ermitage 2002 $$$

L’ERMITAGE is Roederer Estate’s special Tête de Cuvée, which has consistently been rated one of California’s top sparkling wines since its debut in 1989. Taking a cue from owner Champagne Louis Roederer, Roederer Estate produces its sparkling wines in the traditional French methode champenoise and adds special oak-aged reserve wines to each blend. L’ERMITAGE is made only in exceptional years, of pre-selected grapes that come from the very best lots.

Fine tiny bubbles and a long lasting mousse are the usual footprints of the L’ERMITAGE cuvée.  This cuvée from the palindromic vintage 2002 is showing great notes of “tarte tatin”: baked apples and buttery crust, with notes of apricot and delicate vanilla bean. The mouthfeel is creamy, expresses flavors of quince and bread crust, with a clean and crisp yet long finish.

Roederer Estate Brut NV $$

Roederer Estate Brut, the first California sparkling wine produced by Champagne Louis Roederer, builds upon a 200-year tradition of fine winemaking that has made Roederer Champagne among the most sought-after in the world.

The Roederer Estate Brut is crisp and elegant with complex pear, spice and hazelnut flavors. It is fresh and lightly fruity with great finesse and depth of flavor.

Gruet Brut Rose $

This nearly garnet Rose, like all our non-vintage sparkling wines, is aged 24 months en tirage. It has a lovely, bright floral bouquet with hints of strawberry, raspberry, and cherry. On the palate, it is rich and fruity in a dry, Brut style. The flavor of berries continues on the palate, revealing more strawberry, raspberry, cherry. This sparkler is lots of fun and very festive, but production is limited to 5000 cases per year, so don’t miss out!

Vietti Moscato d’Asti Cascinetta 2010 $$

Straw color, frizzante, peach, rose petal, ginger, sweet & delicate on the palate. Good balance of fruit and acidity, complex, apricots on the finish.

Lamberti Prosecco $

This non-vintage Prosecco Extra Dry offers lovely balance in a perfumed, crisp style defined by green apples, flowers and sweet spices.  The finish is long and polished.

Jaume Serra Cristalino Brut $

This fine Spanish sparkling wine is made using the Traditional Method, in which the secondary fermentation producing a sparkling wine’s bubbles occurs in the bottle. Its fresh, toasty nose, beautiful citrus, green apple and mineral flavors, supple, lively mouth-feel, and clean, crisp finish make it the ultimate celebratory wine.

Jaume Serra Cristalino Brut – Extra Dry $

Slightly off-dry, it offers fresh pear and apple aromas and rich citrus, peach and green apple flavors. A subtle yeasty tone and a refreshing, elegant finish.

2008 Argyle Brut $$$

63% Oregon Pinot Noir, 37% Oregon Chardonnay, Sparkling Wine

In the glass this wine presents a soft straw color with tight tiny streams of bubbles.  On the nose you get full aromas of creamy vanilla poached pear and fresh sour dough starter.  The first impression on the palate is of how well balanced this wine is, playing the purity of fruit off of the fresh acidity while showcasing the wine’s natural mineral notes.  There are notes of ripe guava, red Anjou pear, Meyer lemon, and lightly toasted brioche, finishing with notes of honeysuckle and lemon curd.  A great vintage sparkling wine from Argyle in the Willamette Valley of Oregon.

Saint-Hilaire Blanquette de Limoux $$

 This sparkler is probably the oldest sparkling wine in the world.  We know that in 1531, the Benedictine Monks of the Abbey of Saint-Hilaire were already producing Blanquette de Limoux which certainly makes it France’s Oldest Sparkling Wine preceding Champagne by more than a century.

Dry, toasty, smooth and clean SAINT-HILAIRE truly captivates with an attractive yeasty aroma and luscious creamy texture. The palate is light and crisp with citrus and apple flavors and the body is just hefty enough.

ROTARI TALENTO BRUT $

Rotari was born in the heart of the Dolomites.  The mountain climate, the special care of the vineyards, the dedication of our winemakers in the manual selection and harvest of the grapes give life to the fresh and fragrant bubbles that are both complex and enjoyable reflections of the characteristics of the region.  The Metodo Classico, its history, and its long aging process on its yeast bestow upon Rotari unique and unrepeatable characteristics.

 Produced with Chardonnay grapes that are selected and harvested by hand and originate exclusively from the best vineyards in the hills of Trentino.  At the foot of the Dolomites, where the Chardonnay expresses best its fresh and fruity character, the Rotari Brut is fragrant, intense and elegant.

 

"from my table to yours", Happy New Years

"from my table to yours", Happy New Years

 

Have You Been Naughty Or Nice? This week on the Radio Show© WineGuyMike™ has Great Holiday Gift Advice


Check out the radio show on The Trail 103.3FM and Fresh 104.5FM.  The live stream feed is online at http://www.trail1033.com where you can click on “Listen Live”.  The WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© airs on both radio stations Sunday mornings at 10:00AM MST.

Social Media links;

Today’s Podcast; http://trail1033.podbean.com/2011/11/27/wine-guy-mike-for-november-27/

YouTube; My YouTube channel of course is WineGuyMike™ or the actual URL link: http://www.youtube.com/user/WineGuyMike?feature=mhum

Facebook; WineGuyMike please “like”

Twitter; @WineGuyMike please follow me

Sponsors      

Ciao Mambo, “Eat Like You Mean It”, located in Missoula on The Hip Strip.  Find them online at www.CiaoMambo.com

Sleep City Missoula  www.SleepCity.com

Liquid Planet, “Best of Beverage” in Downtown Missoula

W.J. Deutsch & Sons since 1981 has been marketing quality wines produced by prestigious families from major wine regions of the world. 

Georges Distributing in Helena, Montana.

Welcome to the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© this Sunday morning.

Regardless of whether you have been naughty or nice, WineGuyMike has some great holiday wine gift advice.  The very thought of shopping for the “right” wine or wine gift can be cause for great trepidation within the hearts of many.  So Take a deep breath and remember-this is a great time of year to celebrate friendships, family, and to be thankful for the peace and abundance we enjoy.

The holiday season is nigh upon us and it is the time of year, and no matter what holiday we celebrate, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas or Festivus we can be assured of one thing-exchanging gifts.

Before you go shopping I recommend making a list of the people you are going to buy wine gifts for.  Ask yourself-what do they like?  What color or style of wine do they drink, how much does that special person usually spend, do they serve wine in proper glasses, or do they use tumblers from their favorite fast food customer appreciation collection?  You get the point a little thought prior to shopping will streamline your adventure.

Shopping for wine or wine related gifts, http://on.fb.me/uYQ1HN, should be a pleasurable and gratifying process, remember this can be fun shopping for the special people in your life.  I was shopping a few days ago at Liquid Planet in Downtown Missoula and realized this is the type of wine and gift shopping experience I desire.  Their retail manager, Heather, has done a beautiful job in merchandising the store, and in particular the wine section.  This probably is like girls gone shoe shopping.

When picking out a gift, there are a multitude of great wine gift ideas.  Let’s keep it simple starting with the wine; red wine on the simplest level is light, medium, or full bodied.  Red wine will have aromas of red or black fruit; you may smell spice, earthiness, or even some tobacco, leather, or maybe a little bacon.  That’s right bacon, many French winemakers would tell you that to have a sense of animal in their wines is a component of “Terroir,” or a sense of place.  Does the special person you are shopping for prefer red wines that express more fruit or do they like wine with more tannin or grittiness?

White wines present very different tastes and scents than red wines.  Aromas in white wines will vary, with scents of flowers, fruit, citrus, or beautiful tropical fruits being common.  In your mouth a white wine may taste tart, express minerals like stone or slate, or it may even be somewhat sweet.

How about wine glasses?  Many are unaware how important wine glasses are.  The Riedel wine glass company has been around for three hundred years.  Their glasses are a masterful combination, artfully blending form and function.  Good wine glasses are designed to allow you to visually examine wine, focus the aroma of the wine correctly, and then deliver the wine on your palate in exactly the right spot. 

Wine decanters are also a terrific gift to consider for a wine lover.  Decanting is generally a process reserved explicitly for red wines.  When a wine is poured into a traditional decanter the wine is thoroughly exposed to oxygen and helps to open the wine and settle the tannins.  There are a multitude of differing decanters; some are even attached right to the bottle-certainly not traditional, but clever nonetheless. 

Aerators are devices of decanting “in the moment.”  This process has gained popularity and can be terrific for spontaneous gatherings or an option when headed to a casual restaurant or bar.  I still prefer traditional decanting but if company arrives unexpectedly at your front door this holiday season, as it is apt to do, and you want to share a glass of wine the aerators are a great option. 

Please visit Liquid Planet in Downtown Missoula if you live or visit here to see the comprehensive selection of wines and wine gifts they offer.  You can also visit Liquid Planet online at http://www.LiquidPlanet.com.  It truly is a holiday shopping experience.  I wish you and your family a holiday season filled with good cheer, health, and abundance.

"from my table to yours", Happy Holidays

"from my table to yours", Happy Holidays

Riedel Wine Glasses, A Wine Delivery System by Design this week on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show©


Check out the radio show on The Trail 103.3FM and Fresh 104.5FM.  The live stream feed is online at http://www.trail1033.com where you can click on “Listen Live”.  The WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© airs on both radio stations Sunday mornings at 10:00AM MDT.

Each week WineGuyMike™ will be giving away gift certificates from our sponsors.  If your question is selected as WineGuyMike’s™ topic of discussion you will win one of the $20.00 – $25.00 gift certificates.  Good luck and send your questions to WineGuyMike™ on his Facebook fan page.

Social Media links:

Today’s Podcast; http://trail1033.podbean.com/2011/11/13/wine-guy-mike-for-november-13/

YouTube; My YouTube channel of course is WineGuyMike or the actual URL link: http://www.youtube.com/user/WineGuyMike?feature=mhum

Facebook; WineGuyMike please “like”

Twitter; @WineGuyMike please follow me

Sponsors     

 

Ciao Mambo, “Eat Like You Mean It”, located in Missoula on The Hip Strip.  Find them online at www.CiaoMambo.com

Liquid Planet, “Best of Beverage”, located in Downtown Missoula www.LiquidPlanet.com

Sleep City Missoula , “Giving A Good Night’s Sleep To Those In Need” 2401 North Reserve Street www.SleepCity.com

Georges Distributing in Helena, Montana.

Good Sunday morning and welcome to the WineGuyMike radio show.  I recently had the pleasure of attending a stemware demonstration with Maximillian Riedel.  The Riedel Wine Glass Company has been making wine glasses for 300 years and Maximilian Riedel is the 11th generation family member representing their wine glass company.

I personally have used Riedel stemware for 20 years to enjoy, savor, and taste wines.  After two decades of experience and familiarity with a product one would “assume” the knowledge gained by use or consumption of a product that you might qualify as somewhat of an expert.  Boy was I wrong, ouch, humbled once again.

I have studied wine nearly my entire life but the 90 minutes I spent in the wine glass demonstration with Maximilian was not only the best presentation I have ever attended, but also the most compelling.  This demonstration truly stirred my wine soul.  If you ever have the opportunity to attend a Riedel Wine Glass demonstration please do not miss it.

We have all heard the term “form versus function”, for the Riedel Wine Glass Company it is all about form and function.  I’ll get back to this point but first I would like to share a few insights about wine.

When we open a bottle of wine to let it breath, decant, or aerate the wine with one of the devices that have been developed to enhance our wine experience.  Oxygen “opens up” wine and brings out the aroma of the wine.

There are 2-3 elements of wine that create aroma and flavor.  The first one of these elements is the fruit.  The second element is the yeast that is used to ferment the wine.  Whether the winemaker uses a natural or commercial strain of yeast the fruit and yeast combine during fermentation to produce aroma and flavor or sense of taste.  The third influence upon the wine in your glass may be the oak barrel that the wine was aged in.  Some varietals of white wine are fermented and aged in steel, in this case there is no oak influence to the sense of taste or aroma.  Many white wines today are fermented and aged in steel tanks with some or all of the white wine spending a brief amount of time in oak barrels.  This will influence the taste and aroma of a wine.  Today’s trend though, “Oak is Out”.  Most white wine styles today are trending towards crisp, bright fruit in white wines.

Red wine and some varietals of white wine like Chardonnay spend more time in oak barrels.  Red wines in particular benefit from barrel aging. During fermentation red wines get their color from the skin of the grape. Tannin occurs as a result of grapes and their skins soaking together during the fermentation process.  Barrel aging allows the red wines to develop depth of color and refine or settle tannin which is the grittiness you experience when drinking a red wine.  Different varietals produce different amounts of tannin.  For example Pinot Noir will express less tannin than Cabernet Sauvignon.

So we know fruit, yeast and wood produce aroma, flavor, and tactile sensation when you drink wine.  Your palate or more commonly known as the tongue can sense four different tastes and possibly five.  Our sense of tastes are;  sweet, bitter, salty, sour, and perhaps an ability to sense MSG otherwise known as umami.  The mouth also has the ability to “feel” cool, warm, dryness, tingling, a coating feeling, and a feeling of numbness.

Sweetness is perceived immediately when you taste a wine as this area is located right on the tip of your tongue.  Acidity in a wine is recognized in the cheek area, on the sides of the tongue which is the area that senses “sour” flavors, and then also in the back of the throat.  Lighter red wines and white wines generally have a higher degree of acidity.

The middle of the tongue is the area that recognizes anything salty.  In the case of wine this is where tannin which is a tactile sensation, not a flavor, is felt.  When wines are young the tannins are what make a wine present as too dry.

Fruit and its individual varietal characteristics are smells not tastes.  But the weight of the wines fruit will be felt on the middle of your tongue.  This is why  wines are referred to as light, medium, or full bodied.

The aftertaste or what is referred to as the finish of a wine is what happens when you actually swallow wine.  In a good wine this is a very pleasing sensation as all of the components of a wine come together in harmony and balance then linger in your mouth and mind.

So why is the glassware such an important companion to good wine?  The Riedel Wine Glass Company has designed a wine delivery system, the wine glass, which is varietal specific.  The Riedel wine glass presents the aroma and the taste of wine perfectly.  Form versus function is not so much a term that describes conflict but better describes the intersection of form and function united for a best purpose.  This is exactly what a Riedel wine glass delivers to our nose and our palate.  A varietal correct wine glass from the Riedel Wine Glass Company has the ability to make 10 dollar wine taste like 100 dollar wine. 

Prior to setting in on the stemware demonstration with Maximilian I was very much of the mindset that great stemware was reserved for expensive wine.  Most of us may enjoy a daily glass of wine; this is what I refer to as a daily drinker, a bottle of wine for twelve dollars or under.  The right wine glass will really enhance an affordable wine.

I’m going to share pictures of five Riedel wine glasses that you must have.  Once you have tasted wine from a Riedel wine glass you will understand that these varietal specific wine glasses accomplish three things.  First the glass holds the wine within the shape of the varietal specific body of the glass.  Due to the quality and shape of the glasses it is very easy to visually examine your wine.  The opening or rim of each specific glass allows aroma from the wine to be revealed, and enjoyed.  The glass allows a person to discern the aromatics of a wine.  Secondly the Riedel wine glasses target and direct wine onto the correct area of the palate.  This is also specific to each varietal of wine, for instance drinking wine from the Riesling/Sauvignon Blanc glass is delivered directly to the tip of the tongue where it is best recognized for its varietal nuances.  If you are drinking a big Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley the Riedel wine glass delivers this wine onto the mid to back palate where the nuances of this varietal are best distinguished.

The pictures that I share visually demonstrate how the trajectory of wine will be delivered to the palate.  It is important to note the shape or pattern of wine as it lies in the body of a glass that is held at an angle.  I have tipped the glass and allowed the wine to flow to the rim of the glass.  Notice how the wine spreads both vertically and horizontally in the glass once it has been tipped.

The first glass is Riedel’s Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc glass, notice the wine as I hold the glass at an angle and allow the wine to flow to the lip of the glass.  This is how this wine will be trajected onto your palate.  You can see this wine will hit the palate right up front.  This allows the palate to enjoy the sweetness of the fruit on the tip of the tongue.

Riedel Riesling & Sauvignon Blanc Wine Glass

Riedel Riesling & Sauvignon Blanc Wine Glass

The diamond shape you see in the newest Riedel Chardonnay wine glass is truly reflective of today’s style of Chardonnay as demanded by consumers.  At most gatherings you taste wine at you will often hear comments from wine drinkers that they no longer desire heavy handed oak in their Chardonnay.  Riedel has responded to the consumer by designing a glass that is diamond shaped.  Many Chardonnay wines now have much more influence from cold fermentation.  The result is a Chardonnay wine that is bright with fruit and acidity.  The new style of Chardonnay may be aged in a combination of steel tanks and oak barrels.  Chardonnay is a full body white wine whereas a Sauvignon Blanc or Riesling are much lighter in body and are non-oaked in flavor and style.  When you examine both pictures that I have shared with you it is very easy to see the pattern of wine that will be transferred onto the palate is very different.  The diamond shape glass focuses the bright, and bigger fruit aroma to the nose while the pattern of wine that flows to the palate is broad.  This is in direct comparison to what is delivered by the Riesling style glass.  Once again Chardonnay is a fuller fruit that typically has some influence from oak aging.  This will vary depending on the style dictated by winemakers.  The dry nature of the Chardonnay grape combined with a slight nuance of tannin from oak aging is delivered mid-palate.  Wine delivery by design, this is what Riedel has engineered into each and every wine glass.

Riedel's newest style Chardonnay Wine Glass

Riedel's newest style Chardonnay Wine GlassRiedel Pinot Noir Wine Glass

 Red wine glasses from Riedel.

Riedel Pinot Noir Wine Glass

Riedel Pinot Noir Wine Glass

The Riedel Pinot Noir glass as you will note in this picture delivers wine close to the tip of the tongue so that the sweetness of the fruit will be enjoyed. You will notice that the wine near the lip of the glass is not nearly as broad as the Sauvignon Blanc, thus the wine is projected just behind the tip of the tongue.   As you will also note that the pattern of the wine in the glass suggests that the wine will then spread to the mid-palate.  Remember that the fine tannin and acidity of the fruit will be recognized by the middle of the tongue and cheek areas of the mouth.  

Riedel Bordeaux Wine Glass

Riedel Bordeaux Wine Glass

Riedel’s Red Bordeaux glass and their newest large Bordeaux style glass which appears to be a Bordeaux style wine glass on steroids are great examples of form and function.  The new large red wine glass is designed to accommodate a new style or trend in red wines that are being produced in warmer climate zones like Napa Valley.  Some of these big powerful red wines have high alcohol content approaching fourteen percent with some even reaching 15%.  Riedel recognized that wines this big and powerful need a deep glass with a large body. Examine the different pattern that the wine forms within the glass as they are tipped at an angle. The Pinot Noir and Bordeaux style wines lie very differently within their respective glasses when tilted at an angle.

Large Riedel Red Wine Glass for big red's high in % of alcohol

Large Riedel Red Wine Glass for big red's high in % of alcohol

Perhaps one of the most important things to understand about the Riedel Wine Glass Company is that evolution of design never stops.  They currently are developing brand specific wine glasses for special wines from around the world.  They also recognize that styles and trends in wine and grape growing continues to change.  Viticulturists worldwide now understand that some grape varietals may be best suited to a valley, the hillside, or grow best on the hiltops.  Rest assured that The Riedel Wine Glass Company is paying attention and designing glasses for what is to come.

Try these two wines with your Thankgiving dinner, they will not disappoint.

2010 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

Riedel's Pinot Noir and Champagne glass. That's right now recommended for Champagne too

Riedel's Pinot Noir and Champagne glass. That's right now recommended for Champagne too

This dark, garnet-colored Pinot Noir is floral with aromas of rose petals, spice, ginger, cassis and fruit aromas of raspberry.  There is a bit of dusty earth with just hint of vanilla too. This wine is showy with a seamless viscosity that is balanced with a healthy bit of tartness to keep the wine fresh and lively. It’s full in the palate with fine, coco-powder-like tannins.  A long beautiful finish.

Here is another wine that will pair nicely with a Thanksgiving meal and guests will certainly enjoy.  Both of these wines are available at Liquid Planet in Downtown Missoula. 

Gentil Hugel 2010

Riedel Riesling & Sauvignon Blanc Glass

Riedel Riesling & Sauvignon Blanc Glass

This white wine is a beautiful blend of the Noble grapes from the Alsace region in France. It displays a light youthful color in the glass and is ripe with floral, fruit.

"from my table to yours"

"from my table to yours"

“Wine for the Health of It©”with Montana Celebrity Jill Valley from KPAX-TV on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show©


Check out the radio show on The Trail 103.3FM and Fresh 104.5FM.  The live stream feed is online at http://www.trail1033.com where you can click on “Listen Live”.  The WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© airs on both radio stations Sunday mornings at 10:00AM MDT.

Each week WineGuyMike™ will be giving away gift certificates from our sponsors.  If your question is selected as WineGuyMike’s™ topic of discussion you will win one of the $20.00 – $25.00 gift certificates.  Good luck and send your questions to WineGuyMike™ on his Facebook fan page.

Social Media links;

Today’s Podcast; http://trail1033.podbean.com/2011/10/02/wine-guy-mike-for-october-2nd/

YouTube; My YouTube channel of course is WineGuyMike™ or the actual URL link: http://www.youtube.com/user/WineGuyMike?feature=mhum

Facebook; WineGuyMike please “like”

Twitter; @WineGuyMike please follow me

Sponsors      

Ciao Mambo, “Eat Like You Mean It”, located in Missoula on The Hip Strip.  Find them online at http://www.CiaoMambo.com

W.J. Deutsch & Sons since 1981 has been marketing quality wines produced by prestigious families from major wine regions of the world. 

Georges Distributing in Helena, Montana.

Jill Valley KPAX-TV Anchor

Jill Valley KPAX-TV Anchor

This week on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© local Montana celebrity Jill Valley from KPAX-TV in Missoula joined me in the radio studio.  Jill has been Broadcaster of the Year six times now in Montana including this year’s award.  She will quickly tell you though her biggest victory has come as the result of her winning battle against breast cancer.  Jill recently posed a question to me about wine and with this being Breast Cancer Awareness Month I suggested she come into the radio studio, that is just what she did.

It was a real pleasure to have Jill as my featured guest this week.  It was very interesting to hear her story and she made my job easy, she is very good at her profession.  Jill is a mother and has one wonderful young daughter who is an ice skater.  Jill also skates as a hobby and claims to be a “bad skater”, but I have heard otherwise from Missoula’s top age group skating Coach Patty Koster.

Jill and I have discussed wine in the past and she came to me recently and asked if I was aware of any non-alcoholic wines that tasted good.  The long and short of it was, no I was not aware of any good non-alcoholic wines.  There may be some good ones out there but I am not experienced with any.  Over time it has occurred to me that I learn more from listening than I do from talking.  Jill has done her homework her and has sought out an answer to her own question. 

The following are a few excerpts from Jill’s guest blog post, http://wp.me/PFhHw-dC, based on her research of non-alcoholic wines that are drinkable:

I started investigating the non-alcoholic wine option because even one glass makes me feel hung over the next day. But I still enjoy the taste and ritual of wine. And non-alcoholic wine lets you blend into social or business situations where you don’t have to explain why you’re not drinking. So I thought I’d give it a try – Jill’s guest blog post, http://wp.me/PFhHw-dC

CVS pharmacy has a terrific wine selection but only had Fre’, a product made by Sutter wines. CVS stocks it next to the Reunite (on ice, that’s nice) and the other wines in the giant glass jugs with twist tops which should make anyone suspicious. It was $4.99 with a twist top and wasn’t that good. I tried it years before but thought maybe technology had moved this brand ahead. If you’re the kind of person who likes to mindlessly sip wine while reading a book, this would work. Although mindlessly drinking alcohol might point to a deeper issue but I’m not your mom….so – Jill’s guest blog post, http://wp.me/PFhHw-dC

As a Montana celebrity Jill is constantly involved in community causes and events where attendees drink wine.  Unfortunately for Jill she is plagued by headaches from drinking even one glass of wine.  Jill has been searching for a solution, she too would like to enjoy a glass of wine while attending and speaking at these events.

Reactions to wine are not uncommon for many people.  It is readily assumed that such reactions are due in part to an allergic reaction of sulfites which serve as a preservative in wine.  My research results suggested that those who may suffer from reactions to wine may lack a natural enzyme in their body that will not breakdown sulfites in the wine.

Sulfites or sulfur dioxide is a fruit preservative widely used in dried fruits as well as wine.  It is also produced by the human body at the level of about 1000 mg (milligrams) per day.  Food preserved with sulfites is generally not a problem unless you are deficient in the natural enzyme that breaks it down.  For those individuals, the additional sulfites from food can be a problem.

The levels in wine average 80 mg/liter, or about 10 mg in a typical glass of wine, with slightly higher amounts in white versus red.  Many case studies show reactions by sensitive patients to drinking wine with sulfites.

All wines contain sulfites.  Yeast naturally produces sulfites during fermentation so there is only a rare wine which contains none.

The US and Australia require a “sulfite” or “preservative 220″ warning label.  Nearly all wine makers add sulfites, including imported wines.  Import wines contain sulfites, but they are not legally obligated to indicate this on their labels.  European wines contain an average of 80 mg/L sulfites just as US wines do.

There are a few (very few) wine makers who make wines without adding sulfites.  In the US, organic wine must be made without added sulfites.  These are unusual because the wine is very perishable and often have unusual aromas from the aldehydes that are normally made aroma-less by the sulfites.  Look for these wines at natural food stores.

*Aldehydes – Any of a class of highly reactive organic chemical compounds obtained by oxidation of primary alcohols, characterized by the common group CHO, and used in the manufacture of resins, dyes, and organic acids.

It is possible that eating food along with your wine may reduce the severity of a reaction.  My hypothesis is this; sulfites may not be the cause of wine induced headaches or generally not feeling well as Jill has mentioned.  I suspect that people who are deficient in the natural enzyme that breaks down sulfites can be the problem.  When ingesting additional sulfites a person may have a difficult time digesting the sulfite and hence “the reaction”.  It is interesting to note that anyone you talk to who suffers from such reactions vary from mild to severe.

If you are someone who suffers from this wine dilemma you should consult with your physician concerning this issue before drinking any wine

If your physician suggests that it would okay to try wine in moderation and according to the American Medical Associations guidelines I would suggest trying organic wine or an estate produced and bottled wine.  Typically the grapes in estate produced wines grown by conscientious farmers have been treated in a similar practice to that of organically grown grapes.  Many wineries have not gone through the process of being certified organic as it is a very arduous and expensive process.   Organic and Biodynamic Agriculture practices are on the rise as wineries realize the benefits of sustainable farming practices.

The other suggestion I may offer is to select an Old World Wine as they have a tendency to be lower in alcohol.  For instance Beaujolais is a great choice as these types of wine are light-bodied, fruity, fresh, and without an abundance of tannin.  While enjoying wine at lunch the French use sparkling mineral water to dilute their wine which greatly reduces the alcohol content. 

 This is a great solution for a person in a social situation who wants to enjoy a glass of wine with the rest of the crowd.  A glass of wine diluted by ½ or 2/3 sparking water still maintains a beautiful color in your glass.  The wine still provides the palate with a nice taste experience.  San Pellegrino is my favorite brand to use when mixing sparkling water with my wine.  Drink in moderation and good health and may we all raise a glass during Breast Cancer Awareness month in acknowledgement of our fellow wine lovers who have been touched by this illness.   

I want to personally thank my friend Jill Valley for taking time out to join me on the show this week.  She is a very brave, humble, and courageous woman who has survived her battle with cancer.  In wellness Jill is a crusader for the prevention and cure of this illness that has touched all of our lives.  Jill, cheers to you.

"from my table to yours"

"from my table to yours"