Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Wine & Business Contacts - What's Love Got to Do With it?

A new dating site for wine lovers launched last week amid fanfare and the usual publicity hype.  VineaLove touts its self as the first international dating website and social network for wine lovers. Offering free subscriptions during the launching period, the site offers the ability to send that special someone a glass of wine, arrange meetings and events for wine lovers throughout the world, and offers social networking with wine friends and professional business contacts similar to Facebook and LinkedIn.

The original concept is intriguing, a site for wine lovers to connect with other wine lovers puts a new spin on the bottle.  But then the site goes on to claim that it's also for professional business relationships and wine events. the idea seems to be getting a bit corked.  

If you only want to use VineaLove for business, (although with a name like that, who are you kidding?) then why are you required to answer questions regarding your relationship status, what kind of person you’re looking for (male, female, either), if you have children, or if you even want to?  I fail to see how these answers are of any importance to a business associate in New Zealand, or L.A., who are part of your wine trade network?  Or, is that the point?  Are we playing a wine game of cloak and dagger?

There are over 2,300 wine related groups on LinkedIn and an untold number of wine-related blogs and wine meetup groups on the Internet, but there are only a handful of wine-related dating sites. So why try to combine a site for wine lovers searching for lovers with oenophiles who are only seeking professional relationships?

Don’t get me wrong, I think a dating site for wine lovers is a fantastic idea! But mixing the
“getting to know you personally” aspect with the “Hey, how's it going - just industry friends” persona feels like over-reaching to me, trying to gain a toe-hold by being an all-in-one wine site.

Francoise Pauly
In a recent interview the developer, former French wine writer Françoise Pauly, she said that the site isn’t just for dating, but actually is more for wine lovers to discuss wine and share their experiences. But isn't that a niche wine meetup groups, Facebook and LinkedIn wine groups, and some wine blogs are filling?  Do we really need yet another site?

Some of the other sites are a bit clearer in claiming what they are.  Wine Lovers Passions states in the opening sentence that they are “A free online dating and social networking site specifically for singles with a passion for wine.”

Wine Lovers Match also touts that it is “the destination for singles interested in meeting wine enthusiasts, learning about wine and discovering the adventures in wine country living.”

And the Wine Dating Club says it best, “Find Dates Based On Common Lifestyles & Interests (and taste in wine!)”

So considering VineaLove as a wine dating site - Now that's Amore!
But for business? I’ll stick with LinkedIn for professional wine contacts and Facebook for wine-loving friends. Too much of a good thing could be just that – Too much!  Thoughts?

~ Joy

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

What Does Dry, Semi-Dry and Semi-Sweet Tell Me About a Wine?

I am out of commission for one more week, due to hand surgery, but here's a post from last year that explains those confusing wine terms - dry, semi-dry, semi-sweet, and sweet.

If you're new to wine, the 'dry, semi-dry, semi-sweet, or sweet' question can be confusing. Wines are classified as dry, semi-dry, medium or sweet in order to give you an idea of how sweet the wine will taste.  Just remember that sugar is not the only factor that affects the taste of sweetness in a wine.   It can also be influenced by the level of alcohol, acidity, and amount of tannins in the wine.

There are numerous types of sugars found in all grapes starting with simple sugar.  There is also fructose and glucose that help aid in fermentation, and trace amounts of other sugars that are not fermentable. These are the sugars that guarantee that no wine is “bone dry.”

When it comes to sweetening, a wine a winemaker has three methods to choose from:  1) Adding sugar to it––usually sucrose or common table sugar.  2) Stopping the fermentation process before the yeast has consumed all the fructose and glucose.  This will help retain more of the “fruit” in the wine.  3) Adding a concentrated grape juice back to the wine after fermentation, raising the fruit taste but simpler than stopping the ferment early. 

The actual combined content of all these remaining sugars in a wine is called residual sugar. Home winemaking kits use a standard urine sugar test kit for diabetics to measure this. (Not kidding!)  And there will always be some residual sugar because not all sugars produced during the growth of the grape are fermentable.

Other components will also affect the wine's mouth-feel and taste of sweetness as well.  Acidity helps to counter sweetness, and tannins (which occur naturally in grape skins, seeds and stems,) create a more bitter taste, making the wine less sweet.  Unfiltered wines will have more protein particles from the grape skins and grape connective tissue, adding a not always unpleasant harshness when in balance. 

There are many ways to measure a wine’s sweetness.  Winemakers generally use a simple device called a hydrometer that is floated in the wine and measures the difference between the floating point of the wine and the standard floating point of pure water.  These devices are standardized to 12.5% alcohol solutions and take into account the fact that alcohol is lighter than water and sugar is heavier.  The gradient used is called specific gravity.  

A sweet wine is just that – sweet!  This is usually the type of wine beginners like.  With a high sugar content, a sweet wine will have fruity, intense flavors.  The residual sugar is 5.0% or higher for a sweet wine.

A semi sweet or medium sweet wine has some sweetness in the taste and aroma.  The residual sugar for a medium wine ranges from 1.5 to 4.9%.

A semi dry wine is also called off dry or medium dry.  A semi dry red or white wine has a level of 0.5 to 1.49% residual sugar.  A semi dry wine has a hint of sweetness and more of a ‘fruity’ taste than a dry wine.

A dry red wine will not have the taste of sweetness, due to the sugars being fermented into alcohol, and the tannins and acidity in the wine.  In fact, a dry red may leave the feeling of dryness on your tongue and a bit of a puckering sensation in your mouth.  Red wines are described as being tannic, just like tea.  Dry reds include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel, Bordeaux and Burgundy.

A dry white may have the aroma of sweetness and full fruity flavors, but no real sweetness in the wine itself. This is due to the acidity of the grapes or fruit, and not caused by sugar.  White wines are described as being astringent.  Dry white wines include Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio.

A dry wine (red or white) should have less than 0.5% residual sugar.  As mentioned, it is rare to find a wine that has a residual sugar level of less than 0.1% due to the natural sweetness in the grapes or fruits used to make the wine.

Hopefully, the next time you're asked the dreaded 'dry, sweet, off dry, semi sweet' question, you'll know the answer.  Now pour yourself a glass of wine (your choice on the sweetness level ; ) and celebrate the fact that wine can be as scientific, educational, and as approachable as you want.  The choice is yours just remember to –


(Special thanks to my husband, Brian Neighbors, a professional winemaker for 20 years, and his explanations on sugars, residual sugar, and how the process works!)

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

RVs and Wineries - Great Getaways

I am out of commission for another week, due to hand surgery, but here's a post from last year that received a lot of attention....

It’s June; time to plan those summer winery trips.  If you have a motor home – the summertime livin' is not only easy - it's FREE!!  It's your chance to enjoy free stays at wineries across the U.S!  It’s a new trend in this country, one that takes agritourism to a new level.

 There is a growing group of winemakers, farmers and other agritourism ventures like orchards, animal ranches and farms, that are now offering motor homes and RV’s a chance to camp on their farms for up to 24 hours – free!

What’s the catch?  There is none!  In return, it is hoped that the RV travelers will visit the wineries, farms, orchards, and ranches, while camped there, and enjoy what their hosts produce and have to offer. 

Many wineries offer free tours of their facilities and a wine tasting to their RV visitors.  Animal ranches and farms may offer a chance to see the animals up close and to purchase food and products made directly on the farm.  However, there is no obligation for an RV visitor to purchase anything.

The host sites will provide campers with a level surface to park on.  Visitors are expected to be in a self-contained vehicle; motor homes, fifth wheels, travel trailers, truck and van campers (any vehicle that is self contained) to park in designated areas on their farms or grounds, free of charge.  Self contained means that you must have a toilet and built-in holding tanks for water.

RV visitors are reminded that this is not a campground and should not be treated like one.  Letting the farm or winery know 24 hours ahead of your visit is always appreciated.

The host sites are not charged to take part.  Their goal is to provide motor home travelers with a place to stay off the beaten path, giving visitors a chance to sample local products and culture.

Host sites do not provide water, electric, restrooms, trash or sewer facilities.  But many will provide you with memories you won’t get at a campsite.  Remember, these are the people who live and work here.  This is their passion! Most of them love sharing stories about their wineries, farms, or orchards with others.  If you are lucky enough to be invited to sit and enjoy an evening around a bon-fire, don’t miss the chance.  This is truly a chance to glimpse into a small slice of their lives.

It’s a great concept -but the RV’s and wineries idea is not new.  RV travelers have been doing this in France for 20 years.  France Passion,
the French network, has over 1,700 wineries and farms in their network that open their grounds to travel home visitors. Of that number, 800 are farmers, 750 winegrowers and wineries, 150 farms and craftsmen.  It’s a chance to experience regional foods and drink produced on the farm you’re staying at.

Programs such as this also exist in Belgium, Great Britain, Italy, Spain, and Switzerland.  Instead of wineries, Great Britain offers overnight camping at various pubs across the country.

In the U.S., Harvest Hosts
is new company that puts RVer’s, wineries and farms together.  Owned by Don and Kim Greene, Harvest Hosts began in 2010 after the Greene’s traveled Europe and saw the tremendous network of campers and wineries that existed there.  Harvest Hosts charges RVer’s $35 a year for membership that gives them access to the network of almost 400 hosts throughout the U.S. and Canada.  Currently 53% are wineries and around 47% are farms and orchards. A profile on each business is also provided to members and includes information on tours, the number of parking sites, if pets are allowed, and if wi-fi is available.

So as you plan those summer trips this year, keep in mind that this could be your chance to meet the farmers and producers, learn about their history and businesses, and experience locally produced foods and products. These can include wine, cheese, honey, vegetables, even a delightful meal made from locally grown products, paired with the perfect local wine!  Now that’s truly a vacation worth taking!


~ Joy

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

How Do You Say That?

I am out of commission for a couple of weeks, due to hand surgery.  Here's a look at some wine pronunciations taken from the Americas Wine Trail site, with explanations and pictures.

These are just a few of those frustrating wine, grape, and regional names, and some info about them. Practice so that you can amaze your friends with next time you go wine-tasting ; )

Beaujolais Wine
Beaujolais Wine Region
Beaujolais [boh-zhuh-LAY]

Refers to a French wine region, and a red wine. from there.

Bordeaux, France
Bordeaux [bohr-DOH]

A city and wine region in France, and a red wine made there.

Catawba Grapes
Catawba (ca-taw-ba)

American grape, usually yields a pink wine.

Chambourcin Grapes
Chambourcin Wine
Chambourcin (sham-bor-san)

French-American hybrid grape that crafts into a red wine.

Glass of Gewurztaminer

Gewurztraminer Grapes
Gewürztraminer [guh-vurts-TRAH-MEE-NER]

From the German-speaking region of northern Italy, it is of the Traminer family.

Glass of Merlot

Merlot Grapes
Merlot [mehr-LOH; mer-LOH]

An Old French word for blackbird.  An excellent wine grape for blending and for crafting alone.

Pinot Gris Grapes
Glass of Pinot Gris
Pinot Gris [PEE-noh GREE]

A mutant clone of the Pinot Noir grape, gris means grey in French.

Rioja Wine
Rioja Region in Spain

Rioja [ree-oh-hah]

Wines from the Northern region of Spain.

Glass of Sangiovese Win
Sangiovese Grapes
Sangiovese [san-joh-VAY-zeh; san-jaw-VAY-zeh]

Wine grape from Tuscany, Italy.

Viognier Grape
Glass of Viognier Wine

Viognier [vee-oh-NYAY]

French wine grape from the Rhone Valley.

There are plenty more to learn or review at

Now, have a glass of wine for me and

~ Joy