Archive for the 'wine travel' Category

HOW TO: bring wine onboard a plane

If there’s one thing that frustrates wine enthusiasts when traveling by air–and, no, we’re not including pat-downs–it’s the liquids ban. Take wine enthusiasts, put them in a giant metal tube for hours on end, thrust their knees into the seat back in front of them and then attempt to ply them with tiny bottles of undifferentiated, $8 wine (credit cards only, please!).

A possible end to the liquids ban was floated a few weeks ago and with it the prospect of salvation for wine enthusiasts on planes. But Janet Napolitano, Homeland Security chief, threw her own Ziploc of cold water on the idea.

Odd as it may seem, there are some options to BYOW on board. Domestically, there are a few wine shops beyond security, such as the chain of Vino Volo locations or the Yadkin Valley wine shop in Charlotte, that sell wine to go. Pick up a bottle at one of these and it will be more fun than a grande latte–as long as you just like looking at the latte, that is. According to Mark Ashley, editor of Upgrade: Travel Better and our Senior Wine and Planes Correspondent, FAA regulations require flight attendants to pour all alcohol onboard planes. He says that back in a bygone era of travel, the flight attendants might have cooperated with a wink and a nod if asked to pour a passenger’s wine for them. But today, he says that is unlikely given the rise in unruly passengers and the general peevishness of the in-flight crew.

The ideal for flying with wine would be to bring a bottle from home. No airport markups. Better selection. But the only place that is going to happen is a foreign country. Japan has allowed liquids on planes (for domestic flights only) since introducing liquid bomb detectors in 2006 (!). Mark Ashley says that another country that allows liquids on board domestic flights is New Zealand, though he is unsure of whether the alcohol consumption policies in these two countries are set nationally or are airline policy.

One indication came on Twitter last year when Hristo Zisovski, a New York-based sommelier, tweeted, “Just got onto the plane carrying a open, half full bottle of Pinot Noir. Gotta love NZ airlines!”

What are your experiences, tips or thoughts about upgrading wine in flight? And please, belts off, shoes off, jackets off as you approach the comments section.

Related: “HOW TO: successfully check wine on a plane

Drinking wine out of a cup – Fourth of July edition

I’m just back from a few days in the woods, largely free of wifi and cell phone access. One evening, after a day of swimming and fishing, we were able to relax with some relatives and a glass of wine. Or perhaps I should say a cup of wine since the cabin where we were staying didn’t have any wine glasses. I uncorked a 2006 “La Croix Picot,” a Savennieres from Domaine Jo Pithon, poured it into 16-ounce green glasses, and passed them around. Even our two-year-old son laughed at the lack of wine glasses!

The assembled crew thought it was a terrific wine, despite the lack of stemware, with good acidity, white flowers and a dry honeycomb note. I guess sometimes the glassware can’t hold a good wine back. Did you have any wine in extreme circumstances over the Fourth?

Unfortunately, even with stemware, it would be hard to replicate the tasting since Domaine Jo Pithon no longer exists. The man, Jo Pithon, however does still exist and is now making wine under the label Pithon-Paillé with his step-son Joseph.

Visiting Mayacamas Vineyards, Napa Valley [guest post]

Evan Dawson, who writes about Finger Lakes wines for the New York Cork Report (and who we last saw here), recently tweeted that he was in Napa. I asked him if he wanted to contribute a post from his travels and he suggested his stop at Mayacamas Vineyards. Today we have his thoughts. Tomorrow, John Gilman offers his tasting notes on several decades’ of Mayacamas wines.

By Evan Dawson

Whither Napa Cabernet? The economy dealt a blow to the iconic American wine as consumers started reaching for less expensive bottles. Now, a growing number of critics and consumers, including those in California, are openly wondering if the Napa Cabernet train has come off the rails: commentator Dan Berger, for one, last week dismissed California Cabernet as “little more than a parody of itself.”

High up the side of Mount Veeder one sunny but cool, midwinter morning a couple of weeks ago, I couldn’t help wondering if the way back might offer ideas for Napa’s way forward. After all, the Cabernets of the 1970s helped put Napa on the world wine map, so it seemed reasonable to wonder if in wine, as in fashion, the past could provide inspiration.

To find one answer to this question, I had ventured to the Maycamas Vineyards. Celebrated in the 1970s as a leading producer of Cabernet, I was curious if the once-hot style would seem as out of place as bell bottoms or as appealing as Mad Men. After all, not much had changed there. Read more…

A wine lover’s postcard from Camp Basrah, Iraq

An reader mail came in last week from Centcom in Iraq–not the usual place of people needing wine help! It turns out that the author, Bob Krumm of Nashville, TN, is a wine geek embedded in our military. Stationed at Camp Basrah, not only is he making a huge personal sacrifice by helping to protect our national interest, but he has even had to give up wine to do so. I asked him to contribute a “postcard” from Basrah describing what it’s like as a wine lover in a very dry zone.

Dr. Vino,

Greetings from Basrah, Iraq!

I’ve started your newest book “A Year of Wine” and instantly took a liking to what you wrote in the introduction about how enjoying wine is as much about the context as it is about the wine itself. One of my pet peeves is the waiter rushing me for a wine selection before I’ve decided what I’d like to eat. The meal, the occasion, the company, they are all part of selecting the proper wine.

I’m here with the Minnesota National Guard, although I’m not from Minnesota myself. They have a great group of supporters back home. One local organization, Serving Our Troops, flew over here last weekend with 7,000 steaks and a dozen chefs from several great restaurants in the Twin Cities. Needless to say, the meal was the best I’ve had in six months. And while I certainly would have enjoyed a zesty zinfandel with my steak, I didn’t really miss it. Again, it’s about context. I’m not sure that there is a perfect wine that goes well with Iraq. (Although in the dead of summer, a cold Mosel or Bandol might do the trick.) Read more…

A 100 point moment – wine in tropics edition

muscadet_momentI’m in an undisclosed location where rum is cheaper than Yellow Tail.

We have the good fortune of being on a family vacation in the tropics. But what’s a wine lover to drink?

If you’ve read my book, A Year of Wine, you’ll know that I’m a fan of pairing wine with context, which includes the food, the mood, and the people. So if you’re on sun-drenched vacation, it’s easy to insert any wine, be it fetid or feted, and you’re bound for a great time since the setting is ideal, right? Perhaps. But this trip, I brought my own to make sure we had a good pairing.

Seeing some space in one of our bags, I threw in three wines from the Loire: two bottles of Muscadet and a bottle of Gamay. Low in alcohol, with refreshing acidity, and all under $15, I thought they would do the trick nicely when we grew tired of umbrella drinks and beer. (You can tell I am a wine geek since I was probably the only one bringing alcohol to the islands as opposed to returning with bottles–although I don’t rule that out.) I put them in a three-bottle wine shipper and they were still refreshingly cool to the touch when I unpacked. So I kept them that way by putting them all in the fridge on arrival.

The real stand out was the Domaine de la Pepiere, Clos des Briords, 2007 (about $15; find this wine), a superb wine in its own right that I’ve mentioned before. Throw in a sunset, 80 degrees, grilled fish, family and you really have a perfect wine moment. I rate it 100 points.

What’s one of your 100 point wine moments?

Many a slip twixt the plastic cup and the lip

Friend of the blog and über travel blogger Mark Ashley sent in this photo from his flight from Munich last week: yes, he ordered the infamous Rich prosecco in a can! (We captioned their poster girl Paris Hilton last year.) Oddly enough, I’d just been noticing an increase in wine appearing in airline ads from Qantas to Air France to Lufthansa. Your theories as to why are welcome in the comments; perhaps it is because wine is a relatively cheap feelgood for marketing, certainly cheaper than giving you a seat that could, say, comfortably fit a human being.

In a jab at other airlines, Mark writes, “In Lufthansa’s defense, despite the wine being… middling… at least the wine is free.”

HOWTO: successfully check wine on a plane

After two bad wine travel experiences this summer, I finally got it right about ten days ago. Returning by plane from a business trip to the Windy City, I found myself unencumbered by either checked baggage or children. Thus the time was right to return to the storage locker that I couldn’t empty when we moved from Chicago over three years ago.

I bought two Styrofoam shipping containers at a wine store and filled them with 24 bottles, some collectible, others I could ditch if necessary. Since I was flying United, I was worried; readers have posted comments on this blog about rogue United agents refusing to check passengers with wine. And Paul Gregutt recently wrote about the experiences of some Washington wine country travelers who were only allowed five liters of wine (less than seven bottles) because the airline agent thought the TSA limit on spirits also applied to wine. Read more…

Hudson Valley Wine–or Hungary?

Just because Hudson Valley, NY is not the first location when you think of American–nay, New York–wine, that doesn’t mean they haven’t been growing grapes there for a long time.

The 28 wineries in Ulster, Dutchess, and Orange counties have launched a new web site to boost awareness of their new but old region. They claim “the country’s oldest vineyard can be found in the Hudson Valley,” dating back to 1677. Whoa! Them’s fightin’ words!

While the site offers itineraries, history and links to wineries, I have to wonder about the authenticity of one of the pictures. Consider this picture on the left, from their site. Compare to the photo that we pondered earlier on the right, which is a cellar in Hungary with the distinctive red banding on the barrels and the bare bulb illumination.

If the cellar depicted on their site is REALLY in the new/old Hudson Valley, then I will go to that winery and visit!


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