BITS & BOBS

From a wine perspective, November and December are my favorite months at the store. Thanksgiving and Christmas are huge wine holidays and it’s mostly to do with food and wine pairing. I love to help a customer find the wine to pair with meals and people get serious about it during this time of year. Lots of questions to answer and lots of choices to make. Far before the holidays arrive, I spend time thinking about which wines I will feature at the store. For Thanksgiving, Pinot Noir or Gamay is the most popular and I like to give the customer a variety of styles to choose from. Some like their Pinot Noir on the fruit-forward side, whereas others prefer the old world lighter style. The cool thing is both work. I also like to throw in some less traditional options, such as Grenache, GSM blends (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre) Rose’ or Lambrusco. It’s really fun to get someone to go outside their comfort zone and try something new. The key is to make it work for them or I risk the chance of losing their trust. A big responsibility I take seriously.

I had a customer approach me the other day looking for Beaujolais Nouveau. This will be the first year in my wine career I have not bought any for the store. It has lost its luster and last year I had to practically give it away in January, long after the holidays had passed. Why is that? I’m not sure, but I think some of the reason is the price. Long ago, Beaujolais Nouveau was a big deal. You couldn’t sell it until the third Thursday of November. When that day rolled around, big stacks of Nouveau would go up and fly off the floor at nine bucks a bottle. It was touted as the perfect Thanksgiving wine. Fresh, fruity and light, but also quite inexpensive. A perfect combination for a large gathering of people. Today, it goes for fifteen bucks a bottle and has lost its appeal as a cheap and cheerful Thanksgiving wine. Since it is made with the Gamay grape, I lead people to Gamay in a different form. Beaujolais Villages is a step up from Nouveau and sometimes it goes for less money. I love Gamay with turkey and I prefer the Villages version over the Nouveau.

I have a lot to write about over the next month, so I’m cutting this one a little short. It was nice to see the Hawks pull out a victory over Arizona at a key time of the season. They showed that they can play some defense after all.

I hope you all have a great Thanksgiving and enjoy some good wines and quality time with your family.

Cheers!

Stan The Wine Man

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BITS & BOBS

One thing I need to focus on over the next few months is emphasizing the need for decanting wine. On my YouTube channel, I open the wines just before I review them. The reason for this is simple. Stats show that most people open a bottle of wine and consume it within an hour. I know that is not true of everyone, but for the majority it is. My job is to review the wine most people are going to experience when they open it. However, I can tell when a wine will improve with a little more oxygen contact and my grade is based on my experience with wines that will open up with time. I do think it’s important for me to put more emphasis on the importance of letting a wine open a bit to enjoy its full potential. Some wines need no decanting. Pop and pour. There are more that do need some decanting than not.

Recently I have been opening a few bottles at a time to see how they will evolve over two to three days. In some cases, the results have been amazing. Some have gone south of course and I’ve had to pour them out. This is a luxury I have simply because I’m in the wine business and a wine writer, so samples come my way often. The research I do is for the benefit of my customers. I can lead them to a wine and give them some advice on decanting or not decanting.

I know what you are thinking…”Poor guy has to drink all that wine in the name of research!” I won’t tell you I hate my job, that’s for sure. It is work though and sometimes I look at a bottle of wine and say to myself “Do I have to take tasting notes on this?” When I skip taking notes, I miss the opportunity to describe that wine on my signs at the store for the benefit of my customers. Plus, if I don’t take notes the first time, I end up buying a bottle of the same wine so I can take said notes. I’m quite serious about what I do and I think that is what helps me be successful in my career. I had a nice comment on an article I wrote recently discussing my tasting notes and it was nice to hear that they really appreciated what I write about a wine on the stacks I have at the store. Thanks, Sharon, it’s always nice to get encouragement.

On a completely different note, Governor Inslee recently mandated that social gathering is prohibited. He admitted that this will be difficult to enforce. Please do not call the cops if your neighbor has a couple of extra cars at their house. The last thing we need is folks snitching on their neighbors. Plus, does local law enforcement have time for such foolishness? We have a responsibility for our own health. Take care of yourself and stay out of other peoples business. And don’t say to me that Thanksgiving and Christmas have been cancelled. If I hear that one more time I’ll scream!

I’m very curious about all this fearmongering. Inslee is claiming that our medical facilities will be stressed to the max because of the new outbreak, yet he has not turned Quest Field into a hospital like he did in the past. If you remember, last time it was not utilized at all. So, I encourage all to remain calm, take necessary precautions for your own health and don’t waste time worrying about what everyone else is doing. Most of all, enjoy a glass of wine in the evening and stay positive. One day, we will be talking about all this in past tense. I am really looking forward to that day.

Cheers!

Stan The Wine Man

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BITS & BOBS

It’s been a while since I’ve written a piece in one of my favorite formats, Bits & Bobs. Sometimes I feel like the screen is my enemy, although I love to write. Getting ready for a marathon is hard work. Pulling cases down from the over-head in the liquor department is hard work. Yet, sitting down in front of my computer to write an article seems almost more difficult than either of the aforementioned tasks. It’s so easy to reason with oneself and make excuses like…”I’ll get back at it next week.” or “No one really cares if I put out an article today.” or “I could just quit putting in this effort and get more mundane things accomplished.” My football coach in Junior High said something that still rings in my memory…”Excuses are like bellybuttons, everyone has one.” Let that be a lesson for all teachers and parents. Sometimes we say something that sticks, and what Mr. Hahn said that day in football practice has stuck with me all these years. No excuses Stan, start writing!

Thanksgiving is coming soon, which means that there is a ton of things to write about in the wine world. The next three holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year) are huge wine-centric events. In the past, Mr. Hahn’s words seem to have escaped my memory as I made lame excuses as to why I shouldn’t spend time writing about specific wines for the holidays. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that people want some direction as to what to purchase for the Thanksgiving meal or Christmas dinner. On the store level, I spend a lot of time leading my customers to a wine that will work well with said meals. If that’s the case, it leads to the obvious. If I write about it, folks will read it and hopefully gain some insights. There are so many options out there when it comes to wine and I think being someone who has given it a lot of thought, I might actually bring something to the table (pun intended). That being said, look for a few articles dealing with the difficult yet satisfying task of finding the right wine (wines) for Thanksgiving.

Weighing on just about everyone’s mind is election night tomorrow. With the Covid mess, I think that the voter turn-out will be huge. I will stay away from politics on this blog but suffice to say, a lot is on the line. There is quite a bit of talk in the wine world about what to drink during election night. There will be drinking, that is for sure. I think it is important to mention, that no matter what the outcome, we will as a nation make it through. There is no need to get violent and vandalize property. We’ve had enough of that already! We enjoy our freedom in this great nation, but freedom means that we must respect everyone’s right to have it. Damaging property and scaring people off the streets is in no way sending any sustainable message. Peaceful protest is a positive, violence is a negative. That is as close to political as you will see me get here.

Susie and I are staying as positive as we can about all this. We are making travel plans for next year. We love to travel as I know a lot of you do. Masks will go away, airplanes will fly and someday we will be talking about all of this in past tense. Until that time, stay positive!

Cheers!

Stan The Wine Man

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FRIDAY’S FIVE

In a week’s time, I taste a boatload of wine (seriously). A lot of my friends think I’m lucky. Well, they’re right and I wouldn’t give this job up for the world. The only thing that makes my job hard, is my feeling of responsibility to taste the samples given to me as quickly as possible and to put my reviews either in my Moleskine, on my YouTube channel (Stan The Wine Man TV), or on Stanthewineman.com. Here for your reading pleasure, are five wines that I have reviewed in my Moleskine (good or bad), this past week.

A quick note before I write my five reviews. I want to thank all of you who read my blog and put up with my inconsistency in posting. I will improve, that is my goal.

2015 Shannon Ridge Urgency Red (California)… $15.

A touch of stink on the nose with notes of bark, red cherries, pomegranate and tobacco. Red cherries, pomegranate and tobacco notes hit on the palate on smooth tannins. A touch of spice action shows up on the mid-palate into the finish where currant notes join the palate party with a hint of licorice and tobacco sneaking in on the clean finish. Nice expansion of fruit and spice on the mid-palate showing good balance front to finish. (B)

2018 Abbey Page Chardonnay (Columbia Valley, WA)… $20.

Apple and pear notes on the nose with a walnut element coming through. Apple and apple skin notes on the palate with pear notes riding underneath and coming out on top of the finish. Fresh acidity makes this wine dance lightly on the palate. Butterscotch notes sneak in near the finish with a slight bitterness. (C+)

2016 Basel Cellars Claret (Columbia Valley, WA)… $15.

Blackberries, plums, tobacco and dark cherries on the nose. Smooth tannins that get a chalky edge on the back-end, support notes of dark cherries, blackberries and black plums on a backbone of chocolate and tobacco. Good integration and balance. The chocolate notes linger with a slight hit of white pepper. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cab Franc and Malbec. A seriously good value. (B+)

2017 Saracina “Atrea” Old Soul Red (Mendocino County, CA)… $26.

Aromas of currants dark cherries, chocolate and a touch of worn leather. Currant and chocolate notes hit big-time on chewy, meaty tannins with underlying blackberry notes coming through. This baby expands on the mid-palate into the finish where spice, white pepper, tar, tobacco and leather notes join up and linger on the long-ass finish. (B+/A-)

2018 Paul Buisse Cour de Poc Sauvignon Blanc (Vin de France)… $9.

White flowers lemon and melon on the nose with a kiss of grass and grapefruit pith. Solid acidity and a nice undertow of dusty stones back up citrus and melon notes front to finish where light grapefruit and lemon notes join up and linger. Bright and fresh with good integration and balance. For ten bucks? Get out! (B)

Cheers!

Stan The Wine Man

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