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A Perspective on Wine Reviews and Point Scale Ratings

I’ve wanted to outline some of my thoughts on wine reviews and wine ratings ever since I launched this site.  I’m a huge fan of wine, but my “expertise” doesn’t extend much beyond that.  I don’t have a degree related to vinology, I don’t follow the weather in Bordeaux daily like serious wine nuts do, and …

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New Wine Book Published: Decoding Italian Wine

Today we finally published the Italian wine book we’ve been working on for the past year. It is called “Decoding Italian Wine: A Beginner’s Guide to Enjoying the Grapes, Regions, Practices and Culture of the ‘Land of Wine.’”  This has been a fun project, and really helped me gain a deeper understanding of Italian wine …

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Everything I’ve Learned About Costco Wine in Seven Years of Running This Site

I’ve been running this site for several years now and it amazes me how it’s grown over the years. The idea for this site originated from a simple blog post I made about buying wine at Costco for a now defunct website that I used to maintain with some friends.  That article generated 50X the …

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Beer Review: Chimay Ale Grande Reserve Blue

  So I know this one is a little different than what we usually cover, but when I was visiting my Costco to pick out the wine I wanted to review for the site, I overheard a couple people balking at the $9.99 price tag for this one pint, nine ounce bottle of Chimay.  They clearly had never tasted Chimay.

Since Chimay Blue is one of my favorite beers of all time, and feeling the desire to spread its joyfulness to more people, I bought one at the great price of $9.99 and actually say down with the Redneck Wine Guy to enjoy and review for the site.  It started out a great night of beer drinking.  Here are our notes.

We picked up a lot of scents on the nose including caramel, honey, amaretto, clove and orange peel.  It’s amazing how much is on this beer.

The color was a light amber, honey color that was thick enough that you can’t see through. On the palate, we picked up noted butterscotch, caramel square, vanilla, molasses and white pepper aromas with a hint of All Spice.

Finishes full with the 9% alcohol kicking in on the back palate.  The beer really comes together at the end, rounding out what is clearly one of the best beer drinking experiences I think you can get. Highly recommended, and this price at Costco is very good.
– Andrew and Redneck Wine Guy

Purchased at Costco in: Atlanta, GA
Costco item number: 737727

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How to Read a French Wine Label

I am helping a few friends on some of wine projects, and they will be launching some very exciting stuff soon.  This is a short piece they asked me to write on tips for reading a French wine label, and I figured I’d share it with everyone here as well.  Enjoy.
– Andrew, Editor
 

 

Reading a French wine label is a little different than reading one from the US.  The labels are a bit more complex, but with a little practice and geographic research, you’ll soon be listing your favorite appellations in no time.

 

There are four key aspects to a French wine label that you will want to note: the vintage, the appellation, the classification and the chateau (or winemaker).

The vintage is pretty easy to decipher but it is vitally important.  It tells you the year the grapes were harvested in, and depending on the weather for each year, this can cause prices to swell or cave in.  Don’t be surprised if bottles from stellar years are much more expensive than bottles from years with bad conditions.

The appellation is a huge factor on the label because it ultimately tells you what grapes were used in producing the wine.  France (and many other European countries) segment their wines by appellation rather than saying simply Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon. 
 


This is because of long standing rules in those countries about which grapes can grow where.  To understand what you are buying requires a bit of geographic knowledge on behalf of the purchaser.  For instance, a Bordeaux from St Emilion (right bank) is going to be a Merlot based red blend, compared to a Margaux (left bank) that is going to be Cabernet Sauvignon based. The more you experiment and research these different appellations within France, the more you will know about the wine inside. 

 

The classification of the wine means a few different things throughout France.  In some areas, such as Burgundy, you will have Grand Cru wines which typically mean the wine is from the “highest” quality single vineyard, while Premier Cru means a “high” quality single vineyard, and then “Village” wines which may come from multiple vineyards. In Bordeaux you have the Classifications of 1855 that separate vineyards out into “growths.”  The “First Growth” wines are some of the most prized in the world.

 

The Chateau (or winemaker) is another important aspect.  As you embark on your wine journey, you will begin to encounter and recognize winemakers who make excellent wines, or (perhaps more importantly) wines that you enjoy.  Often times a second bottle (or second label, meaning the lesser wine) from a top winemaker is a better quality than a grand cru from a lesser known winemaker.

Note: If you enjoyed these quick tips, take a look at my French wine book, Decoding French Wine: A Beginner’s Guide to Enjoying the Fruits of the French Terroir.  It’s available in Kindle and paperback formats.  Just click on the cover below.

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