Browsing the archives for the News and Events category

#Champagne Day – October 28

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News and Events

Mark October 28th on your calendar now!  International #Champagne Day is just around the corner.  Join this worldwide celebration of all things sparkling!  Run out to the wine shop or rummage through your cellar to find that favorite Grand Marque or your best bottle of farmer fizz!

Wanna take part?  All you have to do is drink a great bottle of Champagne and tell the world about it.   Use the #Champagne “hash tag” on Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, and many other social media sites.  Use the same hash tag to see what the rest of the world is up to.


What will you be drinking for #Cabernet Day?

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News and Events

Mark September 2 on your calendar now!  #Cabernet Day is just around the corner.  Join this worldwide celebration of all things cabernet!  Run out to the wine shop or rummage through your cellar to find your favorite cabernet sauvignon or cabernet franc and revel in these bacchanalian treasures!

Wanna take part?  All you have to do is drink a cabernet-based wine (duh) and tell the world about it.   Use the #Cabernet “hash tag” on Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, and many other social media sites.  Use the same hash tag to see what the rest of the world is up to.


Here are a few links to other sites of interest:
Hey, Hey Cabernet
Celebrate #Cabernet Day: taste then tweet
Cabernet Sauvignon Wiki
Cabernet Franc Wiki

Sample Packs – Try Before You Buy!

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News and Events

Try before you buy…I’m shocked that with so many great wines out there, somebody has picked up on this sooner!  There are tasting rooms all over “wine country” and thousands of wine shops around the nation.  But what if you don’t have access to these resources or your local wine shop doesn’t carry the wine you want?  The profileration of internet has completely changed wine sales and created new opportunities for many producers and winery owners, especially the small guys.  Perhaps the biggest obstacle for the small producer has been getting their wines to market and finding opportunities for consumers to taste their products.

I don’t’ know about you, but I have a hard time imagining what a wine tastes like based on written descriptions alone.  Many people are reluctant to spend their hard earned money on a bottle of wine that the might not enjoy. Personally, I would much rather have a sample to form my own opinions.   Two new companies have emerged to help address this challenge., an offshoot of Crushpad in San Francisco, has stated selling and shipping “Tasting Packs.”  With the the help of a company, aptly named, Tiny Bottles, Crushpad’s winemakers can package and sell collections of small 50 ML samples of their varietal wines.  There are many different tasting packs to choose from allowing the consumer to explore a wide range of wines without spending an arm and a leg in the process.  For a different tasting experience, Crushpad also sells a product called Fusebox, which allows you to blend your own custom wine in the comfort of your own home.  I’m interested in getting a few of these for a wine tasting party! is operation that is catering to larger, more well-known producers, but the concept is very similar to Brixr’s.  At the moment, the number of producers they represent is small, but the number is growing consistently.  Shipping is another story.  Currently they can only ship to a small number of states, but this number is growing quickly as well.


Meritage – America’s Bordeaux Blends

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News and Events

Earlier this evening a friend of ours asked a good question about what a “Meritage” wine is and how the term came about.  I thought it would be nice to share a bit of our discussion.


“Meritage” (rhymes with heritage) is purely an American word that is a combination of the words “merit” and “heritage.”  In 1988, a group of American winemakers got together to find a way to identify and market red and white wines made from the traditional Bordeaux grapes.  Through a contest they later chose the term “Meritage” to represent their style of wines, and thus the Meritage Alliance was born.

Why did they have to do this?  In the United States we prefer to see the grape variety on the label because it makes it easier for the consumer to identify and select a wine.  America’s complex labeling laws say that if you want to label the wine with the grape’s variety at least 75% of that grape needs to be in the bottle.  For a long time, winemakers knew that in many cases they could make better wines if they blended in some other varieties.  For instance, a wine with 100% cabernet sauvignon may be good, but if they blended in some merlot or cabernet franc it might be great!  The problem was that if the blend contained less than 75% of any one grape they were forced to label the wines as red or white “table wine” – not a very appealing marketing strategy.  Many producers turned to creating proprietary names to get around the legal obstacles.  Opus One, Dominus, and Aeros are just a few examples.  The Meritage Alliance exists to assist the producers in marketing their wines and helping to educate the industry and consumers about America’s Bordeaux-style blends.

It is important to note that not just any grapes can be blended together and be called a Meritage wine.  The blend must be a combination of the “nobel” Bordeaux varieties.  The red wines can contain: cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, malbec, merlot, petit verdot, and on the rare occasion St. Macaire, gros verdot and carmenère. The whites can contain: sauvignon blanc, sémillon or muscadelle. No single wine can make up more than 90% of the blend.  In addition to using the right grapes, the producers must also join the Meritage Alliance for a small licensing fee.

Wine Events Calender at TOG!

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News and Events

I’ve just added an events calendar to the website for tracking the wine education and tasting events in our local area.  If you have any events that the world should know about, send it to me and I’ll post it to the calendar.  As I find time, I’ll start to expand the calendar to include events outside the Milwaukee area.


Grapes & Tastes – Cedarburg’s Newest Wine Bar

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News and Events

This past Monday night the Cedarburg Plan Commission awarded Grapes & Tastes conditional approval for their Class B liquor license!  What does this mean?  Wine lovers now have a new place to taste and enjoy their favorite guilty pleasure!  Grapes & Tastes can now offer an expanded tasting experience allowing us to try many more wines.  The owner’s, Brad and Joni Fine, will start holding organized tastings and selling wines by the flight or glass in the very near future.  Stop in a check out their selection of affordable wines, gourmet foods, and gifts.

Pizza Man Tops the List of Best Bars & Clubs 2010

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News and Events has just released their picks for the Best Bars & Clubs for 2010!  Pizza Man, known for it’s incredible selection of over 500 California, Washington and Oregon wines, topped the list, despite the tragic fire that destroyed it along with several other businesses and apartments on January 19th.  What makes this award even better is that the owner’s of Pizza Man, Mike and Deanna Amidzich, have vowed to reopen at a new Milwaukee location sometime in the near future.  Hopefully they will reopen soon so they can keep the title in 2011!

Among the 22 finalists for 2010 are several other wine bars in Milwaukee.  Among them are:

2. Balzac
4. Vino 100
9. Thief Wine Shop and Bar
12. Indulge
21. Zin’s

Click here to see the entire article, including the the entire list of Milwaukee’s bests bars and clubs.

Congratulations to all of the winners for 2010!

Ten for 2010 – Sparkling Wines on a Budget

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News and Events

The economy has effected all of this year in one way or another.  Job losses and pay cuts are commonplace, but that is no reason to stop your next holiday celebration.  We can still embrace the new year and celebrate the promise of a brighter future, even if we find ourselves on a limited budget.

My recommendation this year is to buy domestic!  As much as  I enjoy French Champagne, there are plenty of American sparkling wines that a just as enjoyable at a fraction of the price. Let’s create our own stimulus package by supporting the wineries and vineyards here at home!

The following are ten budget-friendly sparkling wines (all under $25) that will fit in nicely at your next celebration.  Enjoy!

Korbel Brut Rose ($10) – From California’s Russian River Valley, this is a light-tasting and crisp, strawberry-flavored bubbly has just a hint of sweetness.

Gruet Brut Sparkling Wine ($14)- This is one of the more unusual wines on the list. Not because of how it is made or how it tastes, but where it is made – New Mexico!  This brut style sparkler is crisp, and full-bodied with fine bubbles and sophisticated apple and citrus flavors.

Domaine Ste Michelle Non-Vintage Blanc De Blanc ($15) - Blanc de Blancs are made from chardonnay and this one shows it off beautifully, with gorgeous pear and pineapple aromas and crisp green apple flavors.  A very affordable choice from the Columbia Valley in the state of Washington.

Domaine Chandon Brut ($15) - This wine scored highly with both the Wine Enthusiast and Wine Spectator.  It has rich and intense flavors of pear and citrus with a fine texture of crisp bubbles.

Gloria Ferrer Brut ($15) – Listed as one  Wine Spectator’s Top 100 Wines of 2009, this is a lively sparkler with soft pear and citrus aromas.  Yeasty flavors of apples, spice, and minerals dance on your palate.

Piper Sonoma Brut Non-Vintage ($16)- This brut is crisp and bright, with distinct yeasty character. Packed with rich pear and apple flavors, it has a little more acidity than its peers.  This blend is primarily pinot noir, giving this wine nice body and good aging potential.

Roederer Estate Anderson Valley Brut ($19)- Northern California’s soil and cool climate are well suited for sparkling wine, good reasons for French champagne house, Louis Roederer, to expand operations to the US. Roederer’s style of sparkling wine offers rich apple aromas with hints of yeast and spice.  Complex flavors of vanilla and strawberries are laced with minerals and firm acidity.

Schramsberg “Mirabelle” North Coast Rosé ($20)- One of California’s oldest estates, started in 1862, Schramsberg make numerous styles of sparkling wine.  This rosé sparkler has a delicate pink hue with floral aromas of strawberry and spice. Crisp flavors of raspberries and apples, match well with undertones of toast and creamy vanilla.

2005 Domaine Carneros Brut  ($20)- Domaine Carneros, like Roederer Estate,  is also operated by a famous champagne house, Taittiger.   The brut style sparkling wine is a sophisticated blend of apple and raspberry aromas.  Crisp flavors of lemon and lime finish with lingering notes of yeast and minerals.

J Vineyards“Cuvée 20″ ($22) - Cuvée 20 was made in celebration of J Vineyard’s 20th anniversary.  Aromas of  lemon peel and honeysuckle  fill out the bouquet. Crisp green apple and tart grapefruit flavors are followed with notes of toasty almonds and finishes with a great balance of fruit and acidity.

New Home for TOG!

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News and Events

Welcome to the new home for Tales of the Grape!  After a long search for a more usable and flexible blogging platform, I’ve finally settled on the this new format powered by WordPress.  Hopefully this will enable me to give you a better product with the latest content.  For those of you that have followed the old blog, ( it will remain up and running until the first of the year.

Here’s to a better and brighter future with lots of new and interesting topics!

Which Wine Goes With This Dish?…Who Cares!

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News and Events

The other night, I overheard a conversation at a wine tasting where two people were discussing which wines to pair with a particular food. It started to get more interesting as they delved into the “rules” for pairing wine and food, such as, “white wine with fish” or “red wine with meat.” Although these may seem like tried and true guidelines that may work for some people, there are just too many different wines and foods to be confined to so-called “rules.”

With that being said, try thinking of the rules as a “suggestion” or a starting point. There are numerous books, magazines, DVD’s, and websites devoted to this subject that can help get you started. Food & Wine Magazine or Perfect Pairings by Evan Goldstein are a couple of resources with great suggestions.

What if there was a way to make your favorite wine go with any meal? I just heard about a company that is doing just that. The Napa Seasoning Company has recently developed a line of spices and seasoning designed to magically meld your favorite foods and wines!

The idea of having rules at all seems ridiculous to me. Life is too short. If there is a certain combination of food and wine that you like, go for it!

I’m curious to hear about your favorite or unusual wine and food pairing. Send a comment and let’s break some rules!