Archive for the ‘Wine 101’ Category

Thanksgiving 2008, pt. 2

Sunday, November 16th, 2008

Thanks for the feedback on the Thanksgiving video. I’ll keep my day job for now. This is a follow-up article to focus on the wines I’ve mentioned in the video. Some are very reasonable and easy to find like the Chateau St. Jean Chardonnay ($21 @ Costco!) or Le Cigar Volant. Others, like the DuMOL Viognier, are difficult to find and more expensive, so look for similar wines of the same varietal.

For some wines Chateanuf du Pape (CDP), you have to plan well ahead for. Stock up and cellar the very good 2006 vintage to enjoy in 2009. The 2007 vintage of CDP looks outstanding. You can still find reasonably priced 2004 CDP around, or better yet check out Le Cigar Volant.

Basically, look for food friendly wines: balance, low alcohol, high acidity. I strongly suggest French rose. I usually buy a mixed case easy drinking French rose when they are released early in the summer. The prices range from $7-15/bottle. I enjoy the case over the summer and keep an extra bottle or two around specifically for Thanksgiving dinner. American rose is refreshing, but usually more expensive and has a higher alcohol content. Often, it’s difficult to appreciate a highly acidic wine, but they pair extremely well with food. Rieslings (but not the late harvest desert wine) are also a good choice for the same reason. More on rose later.


the “line-up”

Thanksgiving wines 2008 004 Thanksgiving wines 2008 002

Start here. A good non-vintage sparkling wine. I prefer Piper. Gloria Ferrer is a good, and more reasonable alternative. (more…)

Thanksgiving 2008

Sunday, November 9th, 2008

It has been a difficult year…for almost everyone, but there is a lot to be thankful for, especially with the results of the last election.  I never believed there would be an African-American, or person of color, in the White House.  I wonder, what kind of wine President-elect Obama would enjoy?

I’m ready for Thanksgiving; I am looking forward to the Holidays.  Here is a video to my suggestions for pairing Thanksgiving dinner with wine.

I am anxious about this video post, it’s raw video, and I appreciate any feedback.


The “ROACH CURVE”, another “Roach Clip” BLOG

Thursday, February 14th, 2008

How much should you pay for a good bottle of Cabernet?

Simple answer: “no more than you can afford”. So if your budget for Cabernet is $9.99, look real hard and you can probably find a descent one. Hopefully this not “where you are at”!

More complicated answer: You can afford to pay more but don’t want to pay more than you ought to. How much should you pay? Suppose you want to collect higher end Cabernets but want to shop for bargains how much should you pay? .

The two top producers of Cabernet based wines (in terms of volume and quality) come from Bordeaux (France) and California (Napa & Sonoma). In an attempt to answer the more complicated question, I created the “Roach Curve” (see Table 1 and Figure 1). I took all the wines on the Wine Spectator website and sorted them by score and price and placed them into groups. I then found the median price of each wine. For those of you who don’t remember (never knew or forgot) the median price simply means, one-half of the wines cost more than the median price and one-half will cost less. For example, if there are five wines costing $12, $15, $20, $35 and $1500, the median is $20. In contrast the average or mean price would be $315. Obviously $20 is more representative of a type price of these wines. The beauty of this approach is that you usually do not calculate the median, you simply sort by price within a score range, count the number of scores (4th column of Table 1 and take the middle value). If there are an even number of prices, take a value mid way between the two middle prices and you have it!

ROACH CURVE 2004 Cab table

Figure 1 graphically displays the data from Table 1. Admittedly this is less than a perfect approach because the ranges are relatively wide. For example, 90 points is not as prestigious as 94 points. The argument I would use however is that “if a wine is near the top of the rating range (e.g. 94 points), and it is priced is well below median (or at the bottom of the range), then from a price standpoint it is a good buy compared to other Cabernet based wines”. Even if the score is not at the top of the range this information can be useful.

Roach Curve 2004 Cabs

For example, take 95-100 point cabernets, the median price is $125, range is $65 to $350 (see Table 1). A 95 point Cabernet for a $65 is probably a good purchase. Buy one bottle and taste it. You may want to purchase a large quantity because if the rating is accurate it is likely that it will keep for a long time and prices for Cabernets keep going up!

In addition, what’s also interesting from this type of analysis is that the median price of California wine rated by Wine Spectator are slightly higher than French wines which are 95 points and below. However, the high-end French wines are significantly more expensive than California wine (as is shown at the right portion of Figure1). A similar analysis can be performed for all the types of wines the readers may wish to consider purchasing!

Stay Tuned for more “Roach Clips”!

Roach Clip – 10 Rules for Buying Good Wine for the Beginner

Sunday, December 2nd, 2007

#1. Wine rules are made to be broken. For example, it’s commonly believed that white wine goes with fish, or white sauces and red wine goes with meat. There are times when the opposite may be optimal.

#2. Always taste wine before buying – unless you are: (a) familiar with the wine critic who rated it and consistently agree with his (her) palate; and (b) it is too expensive to buy a bottle to “simply taste”, particularly when it is a wine that tends to need aging to be at it’s best.

#3. Don’t collect wine unless you have a place to keep it. Wine should not be allowed to exceed 68 degrees. When wine is stored improperly it ages faster and may turn into vinegar.

#4. If you are going to collect, collect no more than 10% of your capacity per year. Your taste will change and different types of buying opportunities will arise. For example, you don’t want to fill your cellar with California Cabernets only to find out years later that you prefer Italian wines but don’t have the money or space to have both.

#5. Blind tastings are essential to keep you from fooling yourself. Ultimately it comes down to this, if your tastes don’t match the critics, why buy wine you don’t like?

#6. Learn to pair food with wine. Consider the spices in cooking and if the wine will compliment it. We found that we prefer barbequed meats with Zins and Syrahs instead of Cabs. It is terrible to pair great food and great wine that clash. Mediocre wine can taste excellent when ideally matched. It takes practice but generally light wine goes best with light foods.

#7. Don’t believe the hype. Buy what you like to drink. This rule relates to Rules # 2 & 5 above but also extends to determining how much more you should pay for wine.

#8. Be aggressive about purchasing good highly rated wine you really like. Pay attention to the Roach curve or create your own rules (see Roach Clip next month). Great value, great tasting wines tend to go fast and years later you will wish you had bought more before the price went up.

#9. Don’t get stuck in a niche. Try and buy a variety of wine. Don’t be afraid to taste wines from over the world.

#10. Read about wine. The most popular sources are Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast, Wine Advocate, Tanzer, but if you don’t have time read “Roach Clips”!

Next month…The Roach Curve!


Mack and Deborah Roach

Thanksgiving (“you won’t want pumpkin again”)

Monday, November 19th, 2007

Thanksgiving is my favorite Holiday.  It’s all about fellowship, food, family and friends.  It has nothing to do with religion or gifts.  I like the idea that all across America, people are sitting down and pretty much having the same thing for dinner.  Even those less fortunate are often able to have turkey for dinner.  Unity for your fellow Americans…Let’s Eat! (more…)

Don’t Believe the Hype…1997 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Sunday, November 4th, 2007

I have been very diasppointed with the 1997 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon’s (CS).  I invested a lot of time, money, and space (in my cellar) for the ’97 Napa Cabs.  I started opening these wines last year and the hits have been few, and far between.  My disappointment is amplified by the fact that the 1997 vintage was the my first major purchase of wines of any kind.  Instead of a bottle here and there, I bought and cellared cases.  Lessons learned…

 I started buying my ’97 CS when they were released in ’99 and ’00.  I  made many of my purchases based on wine scores from the Wine Spectator.  At the time, I thought these were solid recommendations.   Let me tell you something about wine scores and reviews…when I was a child I believed in wine scores, but when I became a man, I put away my childish things, including my faith in wine scores. (more…)

Wine 101

Friday, October 26th, 2007

  Wine 101 is an occasional series of blog posts that will introduce novice wine drinkers to the wine culture.  One of the goals of this website is to introduce more people to wine.  In particular, I want to introduce more people-of-color to to the wine world. 

Wine 101 will discuss topics from how to open a bottle of wine, how to order of a wine list, wine glasses, health issues, etc.

In a scene from one of my favorite movies, Do The Right Thing, Da Mayor (Ozzie Davis) says to Mookie (Spike Lee): “Doctor, always try to do the right thing”  This is the first rule/lesson of Wine 101: Do The Right Thing…enjoy responsibily.  I know this is a well-worn advertisers phrase, but it’s well said.  Know your limits.

What am I enjoying  responsibly tonight?  Glad you asked.  Chateau St. Jean, 2005 Fume Blanc (Sonoma).  Fume Blanc is a term coined by Robert Mondavi, essentially it’s Sauvignon Blanc.  This Chateau St. Jean, Fume Blanc has Sav Blanc as well as Semillon.  It’s an excellent wine for the price.  Pale straw color, honeydew/melon nose with a faint mineral note.  On the palate it’s slightly dry, semi-sweet (cantalope) with low/moderate acid.  I have a few bottles of this wine, I do not believe it will hold for more than two years and is unlikey to improve with aging.

 If you have no idea what I am talking about…read Wine 101.

 Always Do The Right Thing