May 24, 2008

Name-Your-Price Wine Boosts Loyalty and Sales

Tired of paying too much for mediocre wine? Now one South African producer asks you to pay what you think it is worth. The tactic seems to be working. He is simultaneously strengthening his customer base while boosting sales. Check out this bit from the May 22 SpringWise:

What works for alternative rock music, might also work for wine. You may remember how Radiohead got the world's attention when it let listeners download its album In Rainbows, asking them to pay whatever price they thought the music was worth. Sales of the album reached USD 10 million. Since then others have tried the pay-what-you-like marketing technique, including Paste magazine, which we featured in October.

South African BLANKbottle has gone a step further. The boutique winemaker's founder, Pieter Walser, sent 20 cases of its latest premium white wine Moment of Silence to loyal customers on consignment, asking them to evaluate the wine and then pay him what they thought it was worth. They paid up to ZAR 90 per bottle (USD 11.80 / EUR 7.50), and the average price came to ZAR 50. Since BLANKbottle aims to exceed customers' quality vs. price expectations, the wine went on sale to the public at a price of ZAR 40.

Walser, for his part, got a high return on the wine he risked in the venture. In addition to the publicity he garnered, he determined a new product's price point based on the actual purchasing decisions made by the winery's best customers. Feedback that's likely to be more valuable than the opinions volunteered by focus groups or market research experts. And by involving them in such a fundamental business decision, he no doubt increased brand loyalty among the winery's core customer base. One to try out with your own best customers! (Spotted by: Bruce Gourley)


from Springwise

Noël Wallace Permalink social bookmarking

May 23, 2008

Fire up the grill - Wines for Steak

Steak is probably one of the easiest things to grill. . . a little pepper, generous salt, other spices or marinade if you desire, and a good sear makes for an easy and infinitely enjoyable meal. Red meat is also pretty simple to pair with wine so you have a lot more room to play around. Pretty much any big bold red will complement a hearty steak.

cousinomaculcab.jpgA pretty traditional pairing would be a big cab. A cabernet sauvignon, or a cab blend, will have the structure and fortitude to cut through the protein and fat. I like the Cousino Macul because it is big and dusty with the darker berry fruit flavors as well as dried fruit, sweet tobacco and saddle leather aromas. Totally warm and inviting.
Cousino Macul Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 $11
Opaque purple in colour, this Estate Cabernet offers aromatics of ripe blackberries, plum, herbs and cacao. Medium in body and light tannin, it captures the essence of Maipo Valley fruit. In the mouth, the flavors continue the blackberry-blueberry themes with hints of cassis and black olives. Its lingering finish echoes the black fruits and ends on a tangy cherry brightness. With time in the glass, this Cabernet unfolds beautifully, suggesting it can be enjoyed in its youth or cellared for 2 to 5 years. (from

gasconmalbec.jpgMy personal favorite with red meat (at least my cheap and fun fave) is malbec. One of the five Bordeaux blending grapes, Malbec is widely planted varietal in Argentina and is served with just about every type of meat you can imagine. The style is a little more loose and round than a cabernet, but still maintains a good bit of structure and spice to balance it out.
Gascon Malbec 2006 $12
This wine is made by blending Malbec from the three best growing areas in Mendoza. In these areas, the grapes develop sweet tannins, intense fruit and good acidity/sugar balance, combining the characteristics of each area. Red purple color. Intense black fruits and red plum aromas. Smooth and concentrated tannins in the mouth. (from

beyerskloof05label.jpgIf you're feeling a little adventurous, check out a pinotage. It is the signature grape of South Africa and a cross between cinsault (a Rhone blending grape) and pinot noir. What you get is a totally original flavor that has nice cherry and red berry fruit flavors and aromas from the pinot, but is laced with twinges of cut herbs, smoke and roasted meat. Often when you first open the bottle is smells oddly antiseptic and a little like a band-aid, but if you give a few minutes to open up, you're in for an interesting wine experience. A natural match for meat.
Beyerskloof Pinotage 2005 $12
A medium to full bodied pinotage with a deep red colour. A complex Pinotage with plum and red berry flavours well integrated with the oak aromas. A balanced wine that could be enjoyed now or age in the bottle for a few years longer. In summer to go with seafood or light meat dishes. It also goes well with any red meat, pasta and spicy food. (from Beyerskloof)

Noël Wallace Permalink social bookmarking

May 23, 2008

WinePod - Super-Swanky At-Home Winery

You, or someone you love can soon be making your own super-swanky wine, at home, in your own personal super-swanky winery. Check out this uber-cool apparatus:

winepod1.jpgIf you have a trust fund and dear old dad likes wine, and I mean really likes wine, here is the perfect father's day gift. The Winepod lets dad become his own winemaker with his own personal fermentation chamber.
The chamber itself is 4-feet tall and needs less than 4 square feet of space. The device has sensors and uses wireless technology to connect to a software application on a PC called the WineCoach. WineCoach walks users through the fermentation process and when it detects problems it tells users how to fix them.
Winepod can produce one fermentation every 30 days with each one producing four cases of wine with 48 750ml bottles total. Users can order the grapes directly from the Winepod maker and they are shipped de-stemmed and frozen for freshness. Users wanting to use their own grapes can get them lab certified to ensure fermentation. The Winepod itself is a whopping $4,499, add the bottling kit, grapes, and accessories and it will cost you $5999, thrown in a 30L French oak wine barrel and you will need $6349. (by Shane McGlaun)

from i4u News

Noël Wallace Permalink social bookmarking

May 22, 2008

Fire up the grill - Wines for Chicken

You can't have a picnic, or cookout or backyard BBQ without the beloved bird. You have infinite options when it comes to cooking chicken, but for laid-back gatherings go simple and crowd pleasing--fry it, or rub it with the spices of your choice and throw it on the grill.

cristalinocava.jpgOld fashioned picnic types will doubtless be serving mountains of potato salad and fried chicken. Crispy on the outside and succulent on the inside--if I didn't think it would kill me or make me fat, I would eat it every day. And my beverage of choice, in this ideal, fried-chicken-eating world, would be bubbly. That's right. Sparkling wine, champagne, in this case Cava, is the ideal match for anything fried. The bubbles clean your palate and are the perfect counterpoint to the crispy crust. The Cristalino Cava is one of my stand by wines for large gatherings. It is inexpensive but tastes like a quality champagne. Bright and crisp with hints of pear and golden apple, it is a toasty sparkler that is sure win you over.

Cristalino Cava Brut $9
Macabeo 50%, Parellada 35% and Xarello 15%
Straw color, smooth and fresh aromas; fine and fruity palate with a dry aftertaste. Clean, dry and crisp with citrus and apple flavors.

hopechard.jpgI know many of you will shun the fried chicken - it is an artery clogger - as well as the sparkling wine. So for you I have chosen a luscious chardonnay to complement a marinated or spice-rubbed grilled chicken. The folks at Hope Estate in Hunter Valley, Australia (yep, the same Hope that makes the shiraz I mentioned yesterday) make a wonderfully round, rich chard that is so reminiscent of a Mersault you'll have to look twice at the label. What differentiates it from its Burgundian big sister is the abundance of ripe, tropical fruit flavors, countered with crisp acidity, and the lack of minerality that is so present in white Burgundies.

Hope Estate Chardonnay 2006 $11
The key for our chardonnay is balance and complexity. Without using too much oak our barrel fermented style has an amazing length of peach, pineapple and melon characters but is balanced beautifully with stone citrus freshness. (from Hope Estate Winery)

Noël Wallace Permalink social bookmarking

May 21, 2008

Fire up the grill - Wines for Burgers

Everyone loves a big, fat, juicy burger. It doesn't matter if your burger of choice is turkey, veggie, portabello, or good old-fashioned USDA prime beef. There is just something comforting about sinking your teeth into mouthwatering goodness enveloped in soft bun. So what do you drink when you have to satisfy that yearning? Well you could go in so many different directions depending on your burger preference. Classic cheeseburger? Bacon cheeseburger? Mushrooms? BBQ? Don't worry there are a couple of good wines that will make any burger a dream burger.

hopeshiraz.jpgIf you're hankering for top sirloin, bison or just about any red-meat burger, go for a medium to full-bodied shiraz. I like the Hope Estate because it is big and intense with some fruit, but it is definitely more spicy than fruity and doesn't exhibit the fruit-bomb characteristics of most shiraz.

Hope Estate Hunter Valley Shiraz 2006 $12
Hunter Shiraz has unique characters, not the big, ripe jammy characters of many Australian wines but a more elegant, finer style. Our wine still has the usual plum and spicy pepper characters but a balanced elegance enhanced from time in French oak. A complex and satisfying Shiraz that you will love to drink. (from Hope Estate)

renwoodbarbera.jpgOn the other hand, if you fancy a more heart-healthy and figure-friendly burger, a la turkey, veggie and the sort, you might check out a barbera. There are some excellent Italian barberas out there that would foot the bill, but I really like the Renwood from California for all of my burger moods - meaty and meatless.

Renwood Sierra Foothills Barbera 2005 $10-$12
The 2005 Barbera displays aromas of rhubarb, cherry, and strawberry. On the palate the wine is lighter, with a smooth core of fruit flavors. Crisp acidity is Barbara's signature trait which makes this wine so mouthwatering. A finish that lingers, with raspberry flavors with a hint of cinnamon, balances the wine. The lots were aged in both stainless steel tanks and in a blend of older American and French oak barrels for 10 months. This allows the pure fruit to shine through and have a hint of smokiness. (from Renwood Winery)

If these two don't spark your interest, check out this great shiraz blend: D'Arenberg Stump Jump

Noël Wallace Permalink social bookmarking

May 20, 2008

Fire up the grill - Wines for Wieners

Actually if you want to be literal, its wine for wursts. But I thought wine for wieners had a much better ring. Anyhoo, I digress from my mission which is to direct you in your wine and wiener (or wurst) pairing. Hot dogs and sausages are a little tough to pair because there are so many condiments and side dishes involved. Your best bet is a round and robust (yet dry) rose. It will have enough body and subtle tannins to cut through the fat in the meat, but ample fruit and moderate acidity to balance out the acidity in most condiments and picnic sides. If your tastes lean more toward spicy sausage and peppers, you could also try a light to medium bodied California or Northwest pinot noir. Here are two of my picks that are sure to please without breaking the bank

91020l.jpgPerrin Reserve Cotes du Rhone Rose 2006 $10
Cinsault, Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre
Made by a traditional wine-making technique which results in a rosé wine made by running off or "bleeding", a certain amount of free-run juice from just-crushed dark-skinned grapes after a short, prefermentation maceration. Clearly a wine from a warm place, the color is an intense pink with bright reflections. The nose is fresh, with redcurrants and yellow raspberries. The mouth is supple with fruity roundness in the middle, and a lively finish that is quite long. (from

rexgoliathpn.jpgHRM Rex Goliath California Pinot Noir 2006 $8-$11
The aromas are characteristic of the cool Central coast vineyards that yielded the majority of the grapes for this wine. Red berry perfume with a touch of cinnamon spice, wrapped in a blanket of subtle French oak. Breathe it in. This is one of Pinot Noir's great pleasures. The taste is pure Pinot, too. Mouth-filling overripe raspberry and cherry flavors. Soft and supple are a few of the descriptors I would use. The wine exhibits a velvet finish due to the soft tannins and understated acidity. (from

If you are a die-hard white drinker then by all means go with a white. A medium to full bodied pinot gris or even pinot blanc are safe bets. Although there are certain principles to follow when pairing wine with food, the most important thing to remember is to drink what you like.

One final note: the Rex Goliath is currently out of stock on their site, but one can usually find it at Trader Joe's, certain grocery chains and many smaller independently owned wine shops.

Noël Wallace Permalink social bookmarking

May 19, 2008

Fire up the grill - Wines for Barbeques

With the official beginning of the pool and barbeque season just a week away (aka Memorial Day), I thought it might be relevant to talk about wines that you can pair with all-American fare. For the next six days we'll give you great picks to go with cookout cuisine and hopefully you'll find a little inspiration for planning your Memorial Day gathering. And since we're talking about wines for a crowd, we're going to try to keep our suggestions close to $15 or under (no promises).

Let's start with actual BBQ, my personal fave for big cookouts because nothing is better than long and slow. You can marinate and pre-cook BBQ ribs and brisket the day before so you're not in the kitchen when you should be by the pool. And then just finish everything on the grill when guests arrive. The meat will be fork tender and slathered in your sauce of choice. And the best wine to serve with these sticky, sweet and spicy treats? A big, bold zinfandel or a rich petite sirah. Both will have the intense ripe fruit and spice to complement the sauce and stand up to the meat. Two of our favorite barbeque zins:

clineancientzin.jpgCline Ancient Vines Zinfandel 2006 $15.99
Dusty raspberry, blackberry, white pepper and spice, with coffee and chocolate characters. Ripe fruit and soft tannins make this a mouth-coating rich vintage. Aging in new and used wood has lent this wine a subtle vanilla quality that nicely complements the explosive fruit notes. (from

ravenswoodlodi.jpgRavenswood Lodi Zinfandel 2006 $12.79
Ancient vines in alluvial soil where roots grow very deep make this a ripe, lush Zin that's also concentrated and intense. Soft, round, spicy and jammy with voluptuous overtones of plums and blueberries, this wine lives large. (from

You could also do a wonderfully rich petite sirah. You'll get a similar jammy intensity, but not as much of the punch of spice. One real winner is the Vinum Pets. You can check our our previous review of that little gem.

Noël Wallace Permalink social bookmarking

Sartori Pinot Grigio 2006

sartoripg.jpgVARIETAL: Pinot Gris (It. Grigio)
REGION: Veneto, Italia
PRICE: $10-$12

Although I am completely enamored with pinot gris, there are only a handful of pinot grigios that hold my interest. What is the difference, you ask? Well, the varietal is the same but growing conditions and harvesting practices are quite different and the resulting wines are like fraternal twins. Their flavor profiles are diametrically opposed: pinot gris - soft, lush, ripe, subtle floral and rich fruit aromas and flavors; pinot grigio - light, crisp, acidic and all too often (in my opinion) flat, thin and watery tasting. I had a real dilemma on my hands when I ordered this wine - a horrific and uninspiring list of whites to go with my delicate seared scallops and grilled shrimp dinner. I was unfamiliar with the Sartori so I decided, in desperation, to give it a try. As you can probably ascertain from my tone, my expectations were fairly low. So when the first sip passed my lips I was pleasantly surprised that I sensed hints of soft peach and melon on the nose and on the palate. Crisp and clean but decently balanced and not at all the devoid-of-flavor pinot grigio I was expecting. It was pleasantly soft as well as refreshing and it went perfectly with my dinner. I think I might even give it a second tasting in the future.

Noël Wallace Permalink social bookmarking

May 13, 2008

The Drops of God piques wine interest and drives sales

dropsofgod.jpgTalk about wine appreciation reaching the masses. In Asia, a new graphic novel is introducing wine knowledge and interest to a whole new fan base. Check out this bit from the May 12 BusinessWeek:

In Asia, Comics Uncork A Wine Boom
A graphic-novel series with an oenophile hero is whetting Asia's appetite for wine. Kami no Shizuku (The Drops of God), a Japanese manga comic written by a brother-sister team under the pen name Tadashi Agi, has sold 1.9 million copies in Japan, and wine distributors are harvesting the benefits. Japanese distributor Mercian even hired the series' illustrator to design a new label for some of its bottles of imported Beaujolais Nouveau. In 2007, Mercian sold 127,000 cases, with the manga-labeled bottles helping to boost sales by 18% from the year prior. Translations of the books are creating wine lovers elsewhere in Asia, too. In Taiwan, sales of Colli di Conegliano Rosso Contrada di Concenigo rose 30% after the wine, produced by Italy's Umberto Cosmo, was mentioned in one volume. And some Koreans use the series as a kind of wine guide. Now a bigger test awaits: In April, the comic books were launched (as Les Gouttes de Dieu) in France.
-Ian Rowley and Hiroko Tashiro in Tokyo

Content and image from Business Week

Noël Wallace Permalink social bookmarking

May 6, 2008

Saludas Rose 2006

Thumbnail image for IMG_3599.JPG
VARIETAL: Tempranillo
REGION: Somewhere in Spain (possibly near Castilla)
PRICE: $4.99

Egads--where to begin? As I have mentioned once or twice previously, I am a fan of good roses. On a recent outing to Fresh & Easy I was intrigued by a few of their private label selections and decided to take a few home. The Saludas, a tempranillo from Spain, looked promising and I couldn't resist the price tag. My knowledge of the vinification and origins of this wine is limited--see above. But what I can tell you is that I wouldn't buy it again if it was on sale for 50 cents. When I first poured myself a glass I thought it smelled a little off. Maybe just a little past its prime. I was sorry my curiosity could not be quelled before the first sip. Sour, tart and off-putting are the first words that come to mind. Not fresh, lacking flavor and substance are terms that might also describe my experience. I would not recommend it to my cheapest friends with the worst taste in wine. And I certainly will not be buying it again.

Noël Wallace Permalink social bookmarking

May 1, 2008

Cheap swill or swanky pour? It's all in your head.

Here is a delectable little tidbit from the April 28 issue of BusinessWeek:

ba17008.jpgYour Taste Buds Are In Your Wallet
Is that Rubicon Estate cabernet worth the $80 you may have paid? The answer lies within the folds of your medial prefrontal cortex. A recent study conducted by researchers at Stanford Graduate School of Business and the California Institute of Technology concludes that when people know a wine is expensive, the pleasure they get from it is enhanced in the area of the brain where such sensations are processed. In the study, published online earlier this year in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, students were placed in an MRI machine and given sips of red wine--including the same one presented twice, with two different price tags: $5 (the actual bottle price) and $45 (a fiction). The subjects all said they liked the "expensive" wine better--a preference mirrored by increased activity in their prefrontal cortexes. The lesson, says Baba Shiv, an associate professor of marketing at Stanford: "There's a temptation among marketers to keep reducing prices. We're saying be careful before you embark on that strategy." -Steve Hamm

Fascinating stuff. You're brain may be telling you that the more expensive one tastes better, but the fact is the $5 vino wins the day. All the more reason to buy cheap and taste blind!
Content and image from Business Week

Noël Wallace Permalink social bookmarking
Mailing List
Enter your Email

Powered by FeedBlitz
Subscribe - RSS
Site Navigation
Wine Reviews
Buy Breathalyzers
AlcoHawk ABI Breathalyzer Alcohol Tester
AlcoMate Breathalyzer

Visit our other properties at!




This weblog is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Powered by
Movable Type 6.3
All items Copyright © 1999-2016 Blogpire Productions. Please read our Disclaimer and Privacy Policy