Not Just Your Average Canned Wine – Tips on Finding the Right One for You!

They are everywhere: from Trader Joe’s to online stores, pop-up bars to your friend’s party. Since Sofia Coppola’s pretty pink cans of blanc de blanc sparkling debuted in 2004, canned wines have exploded especially in the past few years. According to Nielsen, canned wine sales grew 69% year-on-year in 2018, and 79% in 2019. The variety is now diversified to seltzers, wine coolers offering “zero sugar” and “lower alcohol” options, even sake and more.

Sofia Mini Brut Rosé Coppola 4 Pack
Sofia Coppola’s Brut Rose.

The Case for Canned

Although canned wines often have no vintage, specific AVA or vineyard, and are not meant to age like fine wines, they are a great choice for many: it’s portable, chills faster, one can try something new without buying a whole bottle. Cans protect wines from oxygen and light, and a thin layer of plastic inside prevents imparting metallic flavors, which keeps white, rose and sparkling wines surprisingly well. Finally, they’re environmentally-friendly: aluminium cans are often recycled, and lighter weight means less carbon footprint during transport.

And contrary to what some critics say, it’s not just cheap wines that get put into cans – reputable vintners have been canning their wines too. That includes Sommelier and Wine Director of NoMad New York, Thomas Pastuszak, who started Vinny using exclusive Finger Lakes grapes, and ex-Sommelier Gina Schober of Sans Wine, who makes premium organic canned wines.

Credit: Vinny Wines.

My Positive Experiences with Drinking Canned Wines

My first canned wine was the much-hyped BABE rose, which I had seen across social media, and was excited to buy a pack at Vinexpo in Hong Kong 2017. Since then, I have tried canned Prosecco, Rose and Pinot Noir. I was very curious to find a canned Pet Nat from Nova Scotia, which is normally made by bottling before end of fermentation to preserve wild yeast and create light sparkling. Fermenting in a can is quite a feat! I’m also keen to try urban warehouse winery Infinite Monkey Theorem, who sources grapes from western Colorado and High Plains of Texas, and they’re available at my local BevMo.

2018 Benjamin Bridge pet-nat in 250mL can, $8.99 ea., available in Atlantic province liquor stores.
Benjamin Bridge Pet Nat 2019. Credit: Toronto Star.

Sizes of Cans and Drinking Tips

Canned wines come in a range of sizes, usually: 250ml, equal to 1/3 of a standard wine bottle, or 1.6 standard glasses; 375ml, roughly 2.5 glasses; 500ml, about 3.33 glasses. Just remember to share and drink responsibly, and finally, canned winemakers have noted a difference when you pour it in a glass, even if it’s plastic. Try for yourself!

Hike, Picnic and Taste Wine at La Crema Winery’s New Outdoor Tasting Experience

As wineries slowly start re-opening in California, many are getting creative in the types of experiences they offer, because currently most tastings must be outdoors and include food. With this in mind, La Crema Winery took advantage of their beautiful Saralee’s Vineyard property to offer walking tours and picnics in the relaxing gardens surrounded by rolling vineyards.

Guests must make a reservation online in advance. When they arrive, they are provided with a map of suggested walking trails to explore the vineyards and take in the beautiful vistas of the Russian River Valley. Upon conclusion of the walking tour, they receive a pre-packed cheese and charcuterie picnic box with an estate wine to continue the La Crema outdoor experience at home or on the Estate, including at Richard’s Grove, the beautiful, expansive great lawn adjacent to the vineyards.

La Crema has prioritized safety by conducting training with its tasting room and culinary staff. All employees must wear facial coverings, conduct pre-shift health screenings, and thoroughly sanitize surfaces prior to and following all visits. Hand sanitizer stations are also available for guests. La Crema is following all the hygiene and health requirements consistent with CDC guidelines.

Reservations are available daily at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., and can be booked online  HERE. The experience, which includes the walking tour, lunch, and a bottle of wine is $100 per couple.

Photos courtesy of La Crema.com

 

 

Pink Prosecco is Coming in 2021!

Great news!  If you enjoy Prosecco, a new “pink version” called Prosecco DOC Rosé will make a sparkling debut in 2021. This past week the Prosecco DOC’s trade Consortium announced the hallmark decision by the Italian National Wine Committee to finally approve introduction of Prosecco DOC Rosé after years of discussion.

A Glass of Sparkling Pink Prosecco

Rules for Producing Prosecco DOC Rosé

While sparkling rosé wines are nothing new, Prosecco DOC wines, like Champagne, is a protected designation in which wines must follow strict regulations (such as percentage of grape varieties used and fermentation methods) to be labelled as such. The process of recognizing Prosecco DOC Rosé requires a decree which is now waiting to be published in the Official Gazette of the Italian Republic. 

Production Requirements

Producers must follow rules to legally label their wine “Prosecco DOC Rosé”. Like Prosecco DOC, the primary grape used is Glera, with 10-15% Pinot Nero to achieve the color, which must be “pink, more or less intense, shining, and with a persistent foam”. Following the Martinotti / Charmant method, second fermentation must have a minimum of 60 days. Residual sugar levels are very low, from driest level “Brut Nature” (0-3 g/L) to second driest “Extra Dry” (0-6 g/L). Labels must state “Millesimato”, meaning “vintage”, using at least 85% grapes from that year. Finally, sales are allowed from the 1st of January after the harvest.

The Consortium estimates about 30 million bottles of Prosecco DOC Rosé will be produced annually. Therefore, you have something to look forward to purchasing in your favorite grocery store or wine shop early next year.

Great For Sharing on a Hot Summer Day

Duckhorn Winery Explains Waterfowl Theme to SSU Millennials

(Contributed by Itze Monserrat Peña-Andrade) The story of Duckhorn Winery and how it has expanded on its waterfowl theme over the years was the topic of our most recent SSU WineSense Club meeting. Led by winemaker, Michael Accurso, he captivated the audience with both words and a tasting of four delectable wines.

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Michael Accurso with SSU Winesense Board Members 

A Little Bit of Duckhorn History

Duckhorn Vineyards was founded by Dan and Margaret Duckhorn in 1976. Throughout the forty years it has been in operation, Duckhorn Vineyards has established itself as one of North America’s premier producers of Napa Valley wines. From its modest inaugural vintage of 800 cases of Cabernet Sauvignon and 800 cases of Merlot in 1978, to its addition of Sauvignon Blanc in 1982, Duckhorn Vineyards has crafted a tradition of quality and excellence that continues to this day.

Duckhorn Winery in Napa Valley

As time passed on, Duckhorn added more brands to its winery, making sure to keep to the waterfowl theme. This was not only because Dan and Margaret had a last name of “Duckhorn,” but because they have always enjoyed birds, especially waterfowl. Therefore, the first brand they added was Paradox in 1994, followed by Golden Eye, Migration, and Decoy and Canvas Back in the ensuring years. Today several of these brands have their own winery with tasting rooms open to the public.

Michael Leads Wine Tasting at SSU

Michael led the members of WineSense club through a tasting that featured four of the brands offered by Duckhorn.  These included:

  • 2013 Migration Chardonnay from the Russian River Valley
  • 2012 Goldeneye Pinot Noir from the Anderson Valley
  • 2012 Duckhorn Vineyards Merlot from the Napa Valley
  • 2012 Paradoxx Red Blend from the Napa Valley

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The Favorite Wine of the Evening

At the conclusion of the meeting, the Millennial students in attendance were asked to vote for their favorite wine of the evening. Each participant could vote once and the favorite of the evening was the 2012 Goldeneye Pinot Noir.

It was an enriching night, the educational tasting that Michael provided kept everyone entertained and laughing. We can’t thank him enough for joining us in leading us all through this fantastic experience!

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Favorite Wine of the Evening — Golden Eye 2012 Pinot Noir

 

Paul Hobbs Pinot Noir and Sbragia Cabernet Sauvignon Tie as Top Favorites in Classic Red Tasting

Sbragia Wines With Cheese Platter

Sbragia Wines With Cheese Platter

What is a classic red wine grape? It is a variety that has proved it can produce consistently high quality over a long period of time in more than one region of the world. Therefore, though there are more than 120 commercially produced wine grapes, there are only 4 classic red grapes. In California, however, we add Zinfandel as well, because it is one of our most beloved State grapes:

  1. Pinot Noir – famous in Burgundy, Oregon, Sonoma, New Zealand and many other regions of the world
  2. Merlot– famous in Bordeaux, Italy, Washington, and many other regions
  3. Cabernet Sauvignon – famous in Bordeaux, Napa, Italy and other regions
  4. Syrah – famous in the Rhone, Australia, and Paso Robles
  5. Zinfandel – famous in California, Croatia and Italy

Winning Pinot Noir from Paul Hobbs Winery

Winning Pinot Noir from Paul Hobbs Winery

In a blind tasting of these five famous varietals in Bus 305W, the 42 Millennial wine business majors tied in a vote of their favorites. Paul Hobbs 2012 Russian River Pinot Noir ($55) with dark raspberry, mushroom earth and cola notes tied with the 2011 Sbragia Cabernet Sauvignon ($49), with complex cassis cedar and earthy notes from the famous Monte Rosso Vineyard. Both wines were of high quality with good balance of fruit, oak, acid and alcohol; complex flavors, excellent concentration and a very long finish.

Matanzas Creek and VJB Cellars Kick Off Spring 2015 Tasting at SSU Winesense Club

Lavendar Field at Mantanzas Creek Winery

Lavender Field at Mantanzas Creek Winery

(Contributed by Erica Schreckenghaust) The Wine Sense Club members kicked off the spring semester with two special tastings with Judy and Bradford from Matanzas Creek Winery and Micah, Mike and Ryan from VJB Vineyards & Cellars.

About Matanzas Creek Winery

Matanzas Creek was founded in 1977, and was the first winery located in the Bennett Valley AVA.  Bennett Valley is a very unique area as it is surrounded three beautiful mountains, Sonoma, Bennett and Taylor, creating a perfect pocket for fog and cool air that rolls in from the Pacific Ocean. The estate is filled with native grasses, whimsical olive trees and beautiful lavender fields.

Judy and Bradford led us through a tasting of four of their most popular wines accompanied with a sensory kit containing various spices, rose petals and more to help aid students taste descriptors during the sensory evaluation of the wines. They stressed the idea that there is never a wrong answer in what you taste in a wine since everyone’s palate is very different, allowing people to pick up certain flavors more than others. They poured their 2012 Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, 2011 Merlot and the 2013 Pinot Noir.

About VJB Vineyards & Cellars

Mike and Ryan from VJB Cellars

Micah, Mike and Ryan from VJB Cellars

VJB Vineyards & Cellars is located in Sonoma where the Belmonte Family opened their doors for the first time in 2003. The name is a tribute to the youngest son, Victor Joseph Belmonte, who died unexpectedly. They pride themselves on offering some of the most popular and most obscure Italian varietals. Their wines can be paired with a cheese and meat platter from their deli or homemade pizza in their outdoor pizza oven. It’s the perfect place to enjoy a nice sunny day.

We tasted three of their very popular wines: the 2013 Primitivo, 2013 Negro Amaro and the 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon as a special treat, thanks to Mike.

Favorite Wines of the Evening

IMG_5751IMG_5757At the end of the evening, everyone voted on their two favorite wines. The winners were:

  • Mantanzas Creek 2013 Pinot Noir – a blend of Clone 777 from Bennett Valley and the Calera Clone from Haarstad. Complex cherry and spice with a hint of rose petals.
  • VJB 2013 Primitivo – the Italian cousin of Zinfandel from Sonoma Valley. Bright red fruit with aromas of strawberries and berry bramble.

Balletto and DeLoach Wineries Celebrate the Pinot Noir Harvest with SSU Millennials

Forty-four Millennials showed up to Thursday evening’s SSU Wine Club tasting called “Pinot Party.”  Not only did the students get to taste pinot noir wines from both Balletto and DeLoach wineries, but they were also treated to fresh Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris grapes from the vineyard.

Favorite wines of the evening were the 2011 Balletto Russian River Valley Pinot Noir ($29), which has notes of dark cherry cola, violets, earth and rhubard, and the 2009 DeLoach Green Valley Pinot Noir ($45). According to the winemaker notes, this latter wine is very aromatic, with touches of raspberries, black cherries, rhubarb, rose petals and a hint of cola.  It pairs well with salmon and other rich fish.

An interesting variation on the food plates were the inclusion of fresh raspberries, dried plums and red grapes, as well as cheese plate to accent the Pinot Noirs.

An Intimate Tasting with Schweiger and Bouchaine Estate Wineries

The most recent tasting of the SSU WineSense Club was intimate and relaxed.  Schweiger and Bouchaine wineries both presented and poured six of their beautiful estate wines.  The group of 18 Millennials in attendance really opened up and felt more comfortable asking questions in the more intimate setting.

Favorite Wines of the Evening

The favorite wine of the evening from Schweiger Vineyards  was the 2007 Schweiger Vineyards  Cabernet Sauvignon Spring Mountain District, Napa Valley, Estate Bottled ($58).  This was a rich, full-bodied Cabernet with dark berries, chocolate, and toasty oak.  It has a very velvety mouth feel with a long and pleasing finish.  A truly elegant cab!  Schweiger Vineyards is located on the very top of Spring Mountain with a beautiful tasting room and 35 acres of vineyard.  They produce 5000 cases of estate wine annually.  For more information see:   http://www.schweigervineyards.com/

The favorite wine of the evening from Bouchaine Vineyards was the 2008 Bouchaine Pinot Noir, Napa Valley-Carneros, Estate Vineyard ($50). This was a complex rich garnet colored pinot with bright cherry and blue berry fruit.  It also had a subtle smokey note, hints of cocoa and a very long finish.  Bouchaine Vineyards is located in the Carneros AVA and is the oldest continually operated winery in that region, having been established in 1928 by Italian immigrant Johnny Garetto.  For more information on Bouchaine, please see:  http://www.bouchaine.com/

Warm and Cozy Food/Wine Pairing

New Wine/Food Pairing Chefs, Alexa Dallas and Jenna Tallyn, did a great job with our food pairing as well!   The main course was Boeuf Bourguignon with Mashed Potatoes. This was complemented by Goat cheese with Fig and Apple Compote, and Almond Roca Brownies for dessert.