Tag Archives: wine tasting

4 Ways to Tell You’re Drinking Cooked Wine

Ever wonder why wine clubs don’t ship in the summer? With the exception of a few places like our hometown San Francisco, it get’s hot hot hot! Now that the solstice has thrown summer into full swing, it’s time we start to understand what heat damage can do to a wine.

What is cooked wine? No, we aren’t talking about mulled wine here; “cooked” wine or heat damaged wine has been exposed to heat levels (even at temperatures of 75 degrees fahrenheit) that cause the wine to spoil. If you have ever spent your hard earned money on a case of wine while on a trip to wine country, thrown it in your trunk on a hot summer day and are surprised to find it tastes completely different than when you bought it, this wine fault could have affected you. This is why wine transportation and storage are very important.

I recently ran into a cooked bottle that was gifted to me. Here are a few steps to deciding that you’re drinking a “cooked” wine.

  1. A Stubborn Cork. This actually happens the most frequently for me and a key indication of heat damage if the bottle has cooled and not evidently hot. A good sign that your wine might be flawed is the cork is usually very difficult to remove. Essentially when the wine is exposed to high temperatures, the cork expands. The cork might be extremely hard to pull out or may even be visibly forcing itself out of the bottle.
  2. A Warm Bottle. If the wine bottle is not cool to touch, then you’re probably not storing it properly. A common misnomer is that room temperature (sometimes upwards of 74 degrees fahrenheit) is adequate for wine storage. It’s actually advised that wine is stored at cellar temperature, which can be upwards of 20 degrees cooler than standard room temperature! To keep it cool during the summer months, either get a small wine fridge or keep it in a cool dry place like your basement. 55 degrees is a good cellar temperature.
  3. Baked Wine. In this case “half-baked” is not a good thing. Wine Spectator’s Dr. Vinny says “a ‘cooked’ wine’s flavors will actually taste … cooked. The fruit flavors might seem stewed, not fresh. There might be baked, burnt or caramel notes. The color may also have changed from deep red to more of a brown or brick tone.”
  4. Flat Wine. Now that you’ve removed that pesky cork, taste the wine. If the wine is stripped of it’s characteristics – fruit, minerality, oak, terroir, then you might have a cooked wine.

Please keep in mind that “cooked” wine is different than “corked” wine. Corked wines typically remind us of a wet newspaper. I’ve never actually eaten one, but if you’ve had a corked wine, you’ll most likely know it.

So the key here is to know how to store your wine and know where your wine is from. Like your favorite winery’s wine club, avoid shipping to warm states during the summer months. Your best bet is to use a local or on-demand service or stock up in the winter months.

If you purchased the wine from the store, sometimes you can seek the graces of the shop to get another bottle, but otherwise you might be able to salvage the wine for a summer salad dressing.

What’s important to you? Fill out our survey here.
For more information or to book a tasting: britney@britswine.com

January Wine Event | Wine Soirée 2014: Southwest France

Our next stop on the journey to wine enlightenment will take us to Southwest France. We will celebrate 2014 in style at Andrew Fidelman’s next endeavor – French inspired Aquitaine Wine Bistro, located in San Francisco’s Financial District. As you may know, Andrew opened and co-wrote the wine list at Spruce and has masterfully created the wine list at Blanc et Rouge, and now Aquitaine.

A quick fact you all might not know, Aquitaine is the home of Bordeaux. What does that means for us? Amazingly luscious, velvety wine. The evening will feature a selection of 4 representing the area of Southwest France.

Ticket includes full wine tasting and light hors d’oeuvres and will not be available for sale at the door. If you’ve joined us in the past, then you know this will be a ball.  Dress to impress.

Tickets are available through Eventbrite here.

The Younger Member Forum Tastes the Wines of Germany

On Tuesday I hosted the San Jose Branch of the American Society of Civil Engineers  (ASCE) Younger Member Forum.  Civil Engineer and Officer Matt Bower put it simply – “we work on the city’s infrastructure” – from buildings to roads to reservoirs.

That being said, there were some great questions including “what is the soil like in the Nahe region?” – thoughtful questions that we like to hear!  Given the rocky terrain of the region, the soil definitely played a  part in the mineral and slate he tasted in the wine.

The crowd was quite engaged in both the tasting and conversations amongst their peers. Overall a successful event with great folks, great food and great wine.

Here’s the list:

NV Solter Spätburgunder Rosé Deutscher Sekt Brut
Rheingau and Baden, Germany | Pinot Noir

2009 Emrich-Schönleber Riesling QbA Trocken
Nahe, Germany | Riesling

2009 Reinert Wawern Ritterpfad, Riesling Spätlese
Mosel (Saar), Germany | Riesling

2009 König Assmannshausen Höllenberg, Spätburgunder Kabinett Trocken
Rheingau, Germany | Pinot Noir

Wine Tasting for Engineers with Brits Wine

Week in Wine: British Columbia Tasting

We were graciously hosted by  The British Columbia Wine Institute and Sommelier DJ Kearney, as we tasted wines from the BC VQA on Monday at the Intercontinental in San Francisco.  in addition to a very thoughtful opening and presentation by BCWI’s Executive Director, Miles Prodan, we were excited to see some familiar faces in the industry, such as seasoned wine columnist Dan Berger.

Where is British Columbia anyway?  British Columbia is the westernmost province of Canada, nestled in between Alaska to the north and Washington, Idaho and Montana to the south. In 1871, it became the sixth province of Canada.  The BC Vintners Quality Alliance designation ensures that you’re purchasing 100% BC Wine.  These wines are then tasted by a panel for quality.  So clearly, there’s a level of prestige here, and I was excited to take my first swig.

There are 5 wine regions of the BC wine designation: Okanagan Valley, Similkameen Valley, Fraser Valley, Vancouver Island, and Gulf Islands (click here for map and descriptions).  The 10 wines we imbibed represented these regions.  Among the standouts were the stellar Steller’s Jay Brut, the Quail’s Gate Pinot Noir, and my FAVORITE…the 2008 Nk’Mip Cellars QwAM QwMT Syrah.  Pronounced “in-ka-meep”, Nk’Mip Cellars won the prestigious title of #1 winery in BC at the 2012 Wine Access Canadian Wine Awards.

The List

2007 Steller’s Jay Brut

2009 Quail’s Gate Winery | Stewart Family Reserve | Chardonnay

2009 Quail’s Gate Winery | Stewart Family Reserve | Pinot Noir

2010 Black Hills Estate Winery | Nota Bene

2008 Osoyoos Larose | Le Grand Vin

2009 Nk’Mip Cellars | QwAM QwMT Meritage

2010 Black Hills Estate Winery | Syrah

2008 | Nk’Mip Cellars | QwAM QwMT Syrah

2007 Summerhill Pyramid Winery | Riesling Icewine

2007 Summerhill Pyramid Winery | Pinot Noir Icewine

Next Up, Pinot Showdown Tasting Event

“Burgundy makes you think of silly things: Bordeaux makes you talk about them, and Champagne makes you do them.”-Brillat-Savarin

“Cork dork” sommelier, Chris Potter and myself will be hosting the next wine tasting soiree at Nectar wine lounge next Tuesday, August 28th.  This is a great opportunity to learn more about the exquisitely elegant varietal and mingle with other wine lovers.

We will be featuring 5 pinot noirs from across the world. Come identify your true style of pinot, from Burgundy to the Sonoma Coast.  We are excited for this pinot showdown! To RSVP please reserve your tickets here.

2007 Mongeard-Mugneret Bourgogne Passetoutgrain | Pinot Noir | Burgundy, France

2009 Fiddlehead Oldsville Reserve | Pinot Noir | Willamette Valley, Oregon

2009 Prinz Spatburgunder, Trocken | Rheinghau, Germany

2009 Domaine St Nicolas | Pinot Noir | Loire Valley, France

2011 Banshee Pinot Noir | Sonoma, California

A Taste of Germany in San Francisco

It’s taken a over week to come back to reality since my vacation, and just when I thought I’d caught the last glimpse of my fairytale, the page magically turns to a wonderful evening of German Riesling.

A friend in the wine industry read about my travels to Germany and decided to invite me to a tasting.  When I arrive at the Barrel Room, 24 bottles of German riesling happily extend the length of the bar.  If you read my last post about Trocken German Riesling, this is a complete 180, as all but just one were of the Spätlese (Late Harvest) or Kabinett (Main Harvest) categorization.

Spätlese wines are the lightest of the sweet, late harvest Rieslings.  However, there was one that particularly stood out in the lineup.

The 2003 Zilliken Saarburger Rausch Riesling Spätlese, with a touch of oak, great acidity and a slight effervescence, this sweet style Rielsling was among the best that I tasted.  This wine is not available

The Barrel Room co-owner, Carolyn, also shared her insight on a great Riesling produced stateside.  Paumanok 2010 Riesling Semidry Riesling from Long Island is a bright, fruit forward wine that is perfect for sipping this summer.  Paumanok Winery produces this award winning wine in New York, and it’s featured as one of the 2011 WSJwine Luxury Dozen, after having been blindly selected as one of the 12 top wines in the country.

Are you local to San Francisco and interested in buying the wine I feature in my blog? Click on the link to either of the wines and you can purchase directly from my Facebook Page!


Wine Tasting, Anyone? Fiddlehead is coming to RN74

Fiddlehead is a small production winery specializing in Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc out of Santa Barbara County, CA and North Willamette Valley, OR.  Kathy Joseph established her winery in the “Lompoc Wine Ghetto” (also home to Nicolaysen Family Vineyards) in 1989 and I had the to pleasure visit the winery and taste a few of her amazing Pinots and Sauv Blancs.

Why am I posting this?  Because Fiddlehead is coming to San Francisco!

The theme is Sta. Rita Hills, where some of Kathy’s Pinot Noir is grown, and will take place on Monday April 2, 4:30 – 7:30 pm at RN74 (301 Mission Street, San Francisco).

I’m not promoting this, but at $25 per person, you’ll be able to try some amazing wines from several wineries, including Alma Rosa, which were featured in one of my favorite movies, Sideways. If you’re into a bit of movie trivia, Fiddlehead Sauvignon Blanc was featured in the movie, and was pointedly named as having a female wine maker. Girl Power!

Here’s the link to  Santa Rita Hills Events and Fiddlehead Cellars.  Cheers!