Lifehacker ran a piece that urged readers to buy wine after Thanksgiving and during the first two weeks of December to “lock in pre-holiday bargains.” Really? Perhaps I live under a rock but I hadn’t noticed seasonal discounting that disappears as the holidays approach. Have you? Instead, I see a parade of deal-of-the-day web sites and closeout offers from wine shops–constant sales, rather than seasonal. Or the old “mark it up to mark it down” type of “sales,” which also never go out of season.
Lifehacker attributes their seasonal nugget to Food & Wine editor Ray Isle. Queried via Twitter, Ray pointed me to this original story from whence this wisdom came. He asked Jeremy Noye of Zachys for some suggestions for deals and his seasonal sale advice was limited to Champagne, not wine in general as Lifehacker stated. I have noticed some of this Champagne discounting, but it is generally later in the month, *closer* to the holidays, when stores might sell well-known brands just above cost simply to get people in the store. Anyway, if you do see Champagne on sale that you like, plug it in to wine-seracher.com and pull the trigger if it is a real deal. (Especially, eegad, what if there are shortages next year?)
I do find that it is a good time of year to buy wine accessories and stemware, as retailers smell the competition and reduce prices. I still like my Schott Zwiesel “impact resistant” glasses ($60 for a 6 pack on Amazon) and, in fact, need to reload after some met the maximum threshold of their resistance. Well, it had been a few years…
During the recent, week-long power outage, we sought refuge in an undisclosed location that may or may not have been the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. We found a bottle of “brut nature” cava German Gilabert (about $15; find this wine) at a local wine shop and got some lobstah rolls. This is hipster cava with a secondary fermentation in the bottle, six bar of pressure, no dosage and overall a very solid match!
Interestingly, a little of the cava remained in the bottle and I left it on the counter. A couple of days later, I poured it in a glass and was surprised it was bubbly! I tasted it and it showed no signs of deterioration.
I asked the wine’s importer, Jose Pastor, via email for his thoughts on why this bottle held up so well. He was puzzled by the persistence of the bubbles, pointing out that he likes to decant many (grower) Champagnes and that reduces the fizz. As to the lack deterioration, he said that many of the (natural) wines from his portfolio often actually show better after being open a couple of days.
As several small producers in Champagne are making their bubbly more wine-like with less fizz, perhaps giving sparkling wines some air and serving in wine glasses will be a good way to go. What have you found in your experiments in giving bubbly some air?
When you’re shopping for bubbly between now until New Year’s Eve, how will you know how long that nonvintage bottle has been on the shelf? If there were a disgorgement date on the label, you would have a better clue.
Over the weekend, Jancis Robinson tasted two Krug Grande Cuvée wines and commented on Twitter how different they were. Antonio Galloni of Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate replied to her that the WA has not reviewed Champagne without a disgorgement date since 2009. (See exchange below.) Jon Bonné of the San Francisco Chronicle wondered how many writers it might take to adopt the same policy to force the producers’ hand in the region. It’s a stick approach.
Here’s a carrot for the producers: disgorgement dates will engage the most interested consumers. These are the ones that should be of particular interest to producers since they would look up further information on the producer web site and alert their world to their experience (good or bad) via social media.
Disgorgement dates are important. After the jump, check out Champagne writer Peter Liem, who is pro-disgorgement labeling, giving his reasons why they are important. I’m in favor of Champagne producers putting some sort of legible, comprehensible form of disgorgement dates on the (back) label. If you are too, hit the comments! Read more…
If you missed the Japanese remake of Sideways, check the trailer above. Glad the dump bucket scene was included! For more details, check out the Wine Economist’s post who says that they changed several key plot details, notably making it a paean to Cabernet, not Pinot.
CONQUERED: world wine bars
The Bordeaux wine trade unveils a plan to boost sales of lower priced wines from the region. A part of that is opening wine bars selling only Bordeaux in London, NYC and Hong Kong. I can hear the dust falling in the NYC one already! [theaustralian.com.au]
SIPPED: bargain bubbly?
Champagne under $20? A blogger explores who makes the Kirkland Champagne at Costco ($19.99). [Goodcheapvino.com]
SIPPED: honey laundering
Off topic, but check out this fascinating story about fraud in the world of honey. [Globe & Mail]
Champagne, it’s not just for toasts, celebrations, boat launches, New Year’s Eve and locker rooms any more. (In fact, as our spy cam shows, it’s not even used in locker rooms these days.) Champagne elevates many foods; food, it turns out, also elevates many Champagnes. (I, for one, am very convinced of the food-friendliness of Champagne and found myself craving a glass of blanc de blancs the other day while lunching on some sushi.) But this is hardly breaking news for readers of this site–almost none of our “impossible” food-wine pairings without someone saying, “easy, Champagne!” If roasted chicken is the sort of food that a lot of wines would pair with, Champagne is the wine that a lot of foods pair with.
Nonetheless, it’s a good point to make and Mike Steinberger eloquently urges readers to cast off stereotypical assumptions while making some excellent Champagne selections.
Interestingly, in the piece, a sommelier makes the point that pairing red wine with a main course is going to be a hard tradition to break for many people. What do you think: If you were offered a Champagne or Your Favorite Red at the same price with a meal, would you categorically rule out the Champagne?
A final word: if you have kids, consider ringing in the new year tomorrow on an earlier time zone, such as Paris, as we do. Then you can enjoy the wine with food–while you’re still awake.