More wine blogs

If you’ve been following my recent posts, you know that this is the last official week for my COM497 new media class. And this post is my last that will be graded, but I plan to try and update the blog at least a few times a month this summer.

If you want to learn even more about wine, I would encourage you to check out other wine blogs. There’s tons on the internet, as you can see by a simple Google search. The wine industry is growing, and so is the number of people interested and writing about it. Recently, a Wall Street Journal writer selected five blogs that she “clicked with” and enjoyed even though she prefers to drink wine rather than read about it. Food and Wine made a list of seven best wine blogs. I enjoyed looking through all of those, but while I was writing this blog I’ve found a few more to add to the list:

  • Grapefriend – This blog was interesting to me because there’s often posts about celebrities and wines. But there’s also thoughts and opinions on wines and the occasional tidbit of humor. 
  • The Winegetter – I liked this blog because in addition to reviewing wines, the writer also shares personal experiences, opinions and pictures. Also, there’s a Sunday staple where the writer will present an interesting article or website for readers to look over.
  • From Wino to Wine Know – An added bonus on this blog for me was that the writer often posts recipes that either have wine as an ingredient or would pair well with a particular wine. This blog also shares obligatory reviews of individual wines, but there’s often posts about interesting information in the wine world.

I found this picture on a old blog about public relations in the wine industry, which is kind of ironic since this summer I’ll be interning with Indiana Wines and working in PR. I’ve learned quite about about different types of grapes, glasses, wines, wine and food pairings and more while writing this blog. Thanks for stopping by, and enjoy some wine today – cheers!

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My advice: Visit a winery

I’ve learned quite a bit this semester about wine, both from my wine appreciation class and in writing this blog. Something I’ve learned is to enjoy wine you need to have an open mind and taste all kinds. And what better way to taste wine than to try it where it’s actually made? I’ve had the opportunity to visit a few of Indiana’s wineries, and I’ve found them all to welcome visitors.

Most wineries, not just those in Indiana, offer a few complimentary tastings so you can get an idea of what a wine might taste like. In addition to tasting the wine, you sometimes get the chance to talk to the winery owner or even the winemaker. I had one such opportunity not so long ago with Rick Black of Wildcat Creek Winery in Lafayette, Ind. Check out my COM 497 final project soundslides presentation at http://web.ics.purdue.edu/~agee/finalproject/index. Note: There are captions for each picture/slide, but you have to click “captions” underneath to view them.

Black spent years in the business world before he decided to try his hand at winemaking. It just goes to show that it’s never too late to try something new. Along with his wife, Kathy, Black offers tours of the winery, including the production and bottling areas on the weekend, in addition to a few complimentary tastings.

If you’ve ever wondered about the winemaking process, I definitely recommend going on this or a similar tour. A tour gives you a behind-the-scenes glimpse into how a bundle of grapes changes into the delicious liquid in your wine glass.

This week is the last official week for my COM497 new media class, which means I’ll be winding down on my wine blog posts. But I may pop up and post some things this summer, so stay tuned for those. Cheers!

Summer wine events

Summer is a great time of the year. Picture this: warmer temperatures, sun shining up above, a light breeze and a cold drink. Why not make that drink a glass of wine? Here’s some upcoming wine events to consider:

  • April 27 – 11th Annual Indiana Wine Fair. Enjoy this Saturday event at Story Inn in Nashville, Ind. For $20 at the gate, you can enjoy a day full of wine, food, music and fun. If you’re the designated driver for your group, it’s only $10. Rain or shine, a number of Indiana wineries will be on hand to display their best wines, offer tastings and answer questions.
  • May 10 – Around the World in 80 Sips: Chicago. Join other wine lovers at the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art and discover new wines from around the world with 80+ unlimited 1 oz tastings accompanied by light appetizers. General admission is $75 per person.
  • May 11 – Taste of Spring. For $20, enjoy a wine experience with music from Rusty Bladen and Josh Powers, art from the locals and a souvenir wine glass at the Olge Haus Inn located in Vevay, Ind.
  • May 18 – Wine-A-Rita Night. Join folks at Whyte Horse Winery in Monticello, Ind. for a Jimmy Buffet-themed night of fun. I’m not exactly sure what a wine-a-rita is, but it sure sounds interesting!
  • June 1 – Vintage Indiana. The 14th annual Vintage Indiana is sure to be a festival of wine, food and fun. Taste wines from Indiana wineries, enjoy some culinary delights and tap your foot to music at this event in Military Park, Indianapolis. Tickets are $22 in advance or $25 at the gate for adults, $5 for those ages 6-20 and free for children ages 5 and under. Designated drivers are $10. Buy tickets online now or at Marsh Supermarkets starting May 1.
  • Visit local wineries and check out their new and old wines. Check out more Indiana wineries and events. Or look for wine events in your area.

This week is the last official week for my COM497 new media class, which means I’ll be winding down on my wine blog posts. But I may pop up and post some things this summer, so stay tuned for those. And enjoy some wine today! I plan to. 🙂 

A few wine craft ideas

Wine crafts have been growing in popularity in the last couple of years, due in large part to Pinterest. But it does make a lot of sense to make something useful out of wine bottles and corks that would otherwise be thrown away or recycled.

So, just in case you’re feeling crafty today and have a bunch of wine bottles or corks lying around…

Check out Wine Sisterhood’s ideas for crafts using wine bottles and wine corks. My favorite of theirs for wine bottles is cutting off the bottom of the bottle to make a candle cover.

Good news: you don’t even need a sharp instrument, just some nail polish.

Here’s some more examples for decorating inspiration once you have made the candle covers.

And from their five wine cork ideas, my favorite was using drawer pulls to create personalized wine stoppers.

A Lapin Life blog offers a more detailed set of instructions with pictures to help make this cork craft.

If you don’t like the idea of using drawer pulls for a cork topper, then use billard balls or other objects.

If you really have a lot of old corks and want to take on a bigger project, check out these 30 craft ideas. Alas, I don’t have that big of a cork supply.

I like the idea of making these garden markers for right now.

Guess I’ll have to try some more wines…or I buy some extra corks from Hobby Lobby, JoAnn’s or another local craft store.

The wine option appeals to me more, though.

Enjoy some wine today, and remember – keep those wine bottles and corks – they might come in handy one day!

Wine places to visit

I’ve only been to a handful of wineries so far, but all have been unique. Some are in old farmhouses, some are surrounded by flowers and herbs and one wine shop was on a fairly calm main street. I’ve only been to two wineries with vineyards, but I think it would be great to travel and see more of both wineries and vineyards.

Recently in my wine appreciation class, we’ve been seeing pictures of vineyards in foreign or exotic places like Chile, Argentina, South Africa and Italy. This article shows off 35 vineyards around the world, from Australia to Germany and then places closer to home like Virginia and California. My favorite from this list is the Hunawihr Vineyards in Alsace, France. The grapes surround a 14th century church and the scenery looks like something on a postcard.

The Wine Enthusiast Magazine recently had an article about winery wonders of the world and featured 10 more modern-looking wineries that could be interesting to visit as well. While not as scenic as the grape-growing places I mentioned above, these places are more architectural gems where grapes can be turned into world-class wines. The Lopez de Heredia Winery in Spain topped my list of favorites because it looks as though it combines the old and new worlds to create a great place to try wine.

I don’t think that I will get to either of these places soon, but they’re definitely going on my places to travel list. What are some of your favorite wineries to visit?

Describing wines

Every bottle of wine is unique. I would even go so far as to say every taste of wine is different, as is each taster. I think that’s part of wine’s lure. Wine is exotic, dynamic, elusive and personal. One person can taste a wine and love the flavor, and the next person can dislike the same wine because of it. As Justin Howard-Sneyd, a consultant for Laithwaite’s Wine says, “Describing wine is not an exact science; wine and taste are very personal, very subjective things.”

As wine is warmed in your mouth and the longer it lingers over your tongue, the heavier the taste becomes. A mild wine can become spicy after holding for a few seconds, and a slightly sweet wine can start to taste more neutral. Sometimes it takes more than one taste to really experience the full effect of a wine. In my wine appreciation class, nearly 400 of us students taste three wines each night. We have an opportunity to “Speak to the Wine” and describe our reaction to the wines. And even though we all taste the same wine, sometimes I wonder how that can be after listening to the descriptions. I remember a couple of weeks ago we tasted a Spanish fino sherry and I thought it tasted like candied almonds, almond oil or some kind of nut extract. But some of my fellow classmates described the liquid as “cherry,” “sweet like cough syrup,” “melon-y,” and “too sweet.” While I agree that it wasn’t one of my favorite tastes we’ve had, I didn’t taste any of those. Yet when our guest lecturer asked who would buy it, I was one of the only few to raise my hand. I think it’s an acquired taste, albeit hard to describe.

But then again, I think individual wines can be hard to describe. I can compare two Rieslings and describe them both as sort of sweet, with a pear or peachy flavor – but the mouthfeel is totally different for both of them. And I’m not alone in thinking wines are hard to describe, even with a list of descriptors such as the one at the front of my textbook. In this article, English journalist Jasper Copping looks at results of a wine descriptor survey and says, “New research has revealed widespread bewilderment at the terms used by producers, retailers and critics to convey a bottle’s taste.” When given a list of wine descriptors, people still had trouble describing the wines. Most of the trouble came because the surveyed population didn’t understand the descriptors they were supposed to use. I don’t blame them…”nervy” and “brooding” aren’t words I think of in conjunction with wine. I usually stick to the basics, like fruity descriptors, sweet versus dry, and acidic versus mellow. What words do you commonly use to describe wine?

Equines and wines

This post is a guest blog from my friend and classmate Rachel Florman, a senior in Ag Communication at Purdue University. An avid horsewoman, Florman regularly writes for her own blog. But for this post, she has looked at horse-themed wineries. 

Horses played an instrumental role in the history of agriculture, and the wine industry is no exception. Long before the use of tractors, horses worked the fields with farmers to care for and harvest the land. In the Midwest, several wineries have a rich history that involves one or many equine friends.

Whyte Horse Winery in Monticello, Ind. wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for a horse. In 2002, the Pampels placed a bid on a piece of land for their family to enjoy. Even though an offer had already been made by another buyer, the Pampels chose to make a back-up offer. A few days later, the landowner called with an interesting request: she would only sell the land if the buyers agreed to also take ownership of a 25-year-old white horse, “Molly”. While the first bidders declined, the Pampels did not, and thus acquired their dream land and a new family member. When the family decided to build a winery, they felt it was only natural to name it after Molly, the reason their dream was possible.

Joe Semansky, Jr. was a professional horse trainer who made wine to enjoy while he traveled to different shows and client barns. During his time as a trainer, people encouraged him to take his wine to the next level, and Semansky entered a new career and industry. Thus, Red Horse Winery opened in 2009 in Barberton, Ohio.

The Blind Horse Restaurant and Winery in Kohler, Wisconsin is named for the founding family’s rich history of farming. For more than 100 years, the Dreps family farmed their land and, as was necessary in that time, utilized horses to work the land. The winery’s name comes from a picture found in the county’s historical archives, showing two of the Dreps boys sitting on “Birdy”, their blind work horse.

All across the country, horses and wine seem to go “vine in hoof”, with dozens of wineries and labels named after or featuring horses. While the owners of Flying Horse Wines in California all compete in endurance riding races with Arabian Horses, Pipestone Vinyards still uses a team of draft horses to work the land.

Horses have always been a part of wine history, and they’re still influencing the industry today. To read more of Rachel’s horse thoughts, check out her blog.

Fun facts about grapes and wine

Here’s some fun facts and bits of knowledge about grapes and wines that may come in handy someday on Jeopardy.

Pop culture facts:

  1. Celebrity-owned wineries have grown exponentially in the last few years, and more than 15 famous people including Fergie, Antonio Banderas, Jeff Gordon, Madonna and Dan Aykroyd all have wineries. Source
  2. Two popular movies, “Sideways” (2004) and “Bottle Shock” (1976 and a remake in 2008), are both entirely about wines and the wine industry. Source
  3. Movies Casablanca, Ratatouille, Sherlock Holmes, Hannibal and numerous James Bond movies feature short appearances of specific bottles of wine. Source

Health facts:

  1. Grapes contain small amounts of caffeic acid, which in some studies has been shown to help regulate blood sugar. Grapes grown under full sun contain higher levels of the acid than those  grown in more shaded areas. Source
  2. Both red and white grapes also contain flavonoids which help with many bodily functions, most notably improving memory function, lowering blood pressure and giving your immune system a boost. Source
  3. Wine, and grapes, can help those suffering from asthma. Grapes have been shown to naturally increase levels of moisture in a person’s lungs. Source

Wine Storage Facts

  1. The wreck of the Titanic holds the oldest wine cellar in the world. When the wine bottles were recovered from the depths of the ocean, most were found to still be intact after a number of years. Source
  2. Vibrations, such as from extremely loud noises or natural disasters, may be able to change wine flavor and smell. But as long as the vibrations aren’t persistent and great in strength, they shouldn’t affect the wine overly much. Source (Note: So don’t store your wine on top or next to your washer or dryer and it should be safe.)
  3. A little mold growing between the top of a cork and a wine bottle doesn’t mean you have to throw the wine away or even that the wine has gone bad or soured. It can actually mean the  wine is being properly stored in a humid climate. Source

And one more fun fact – stay tuned because the next post this week will feature a guest blogger.

New winery opens in Indiana

Carpenter Creek Cellars recently opened in Indiana, adding another stop on wine lovers’ travel lists. The winery is located at 11144 Jordan Rd, Remington, Ind., 47977, between the towns of Remington and Rensselaer. The winery is housed in a historic horse barn.

Carpenter Creek Cellars is open Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday noon to 5 p.m. Like many other Indiana wineries, they have a tasting room where they offer free tastings of their wines. Although they are just starting out, they will offer six different wines to appeal to a number of different palates. Their selections include two dry, one semi-dry and three semi-sweet wines.

WLFI checked in with the new winery and talked to other Indiana wineries about weather and this year’s season.

For more information, contact them at 219-866-4334 or carpentercreekcellars@gmail.com. This sounds like a great opportunity for a day or afternoon trip from campus.

Saturday wine humor

It’s been awhile since I’ve come across good, humorous wine sayings on the Internet. But to kick off April, I’d like to celebrate by sharing five of my favorite funny wine finds of the week.

1.  Wine experts often recommend certain wines or winemakers based on what region the grapes are grown in. But I hadn’t heard of this region before…

2. You’re supposed to have about three to five servings of fruit a day. Why not count wine as one of them?

3. And there’s also this gem as a rebuttal:

4. Good advice to remember in times of stress, or anytime really.

5. Lastly, doesn’t this sound like a great guest policy to have? Check it out:

Enjoy your weekend and your wine. Cheers!