Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Finding The Best Wine Cooler

Finding The Best Wine Cooler

Visual appearances do not define a wine cooler as excellent and efficient. The best wine cooler must have various aspects: Have adjustable shelves, keep both red and white wines at the best temperature, and must be energy efficient among others. Reviews.com, a website that creates unbiased research and reviews on products, recently looked at 151 contenders to find the best wine cooler on the market. They wanted to find the best ones that will protect your collection and easily keep all types of wine at the right serving temperature. To get a full perspective they consulted with experts, such as sommeliers, wine cellar consultants and wine buyers, scoured through user reviews and articles, and they also personally tested them to analyze fridge temperatures, essential features and design layout.

Here are their top picks and what to look in a wine cooler...

1. Sunpentown Dual-Zone Thermoelectric Cooler with Heating
This black thermo-electric cooler is sleek and perfect for fitting in narrow spaces. It has two compartments for its dual zone with each zone's temperature and light being controlled separately. It has sensitive touchscreen buttons which with every touch beeps. The shelves accommodate six bottles at the top region with a temperature of 44-64 degrees. The bottom zone fits 12 bottles with a temperature of 51-64 degrees.
2. Wine Enthusiast Silent 8-Bottle Touchscreen Wine Refrigerator
This is the best single-zone wine cooler. The cooler offers straightforward cooling for its single zone. The exterior control panel is sensitive to touch and simple to use. It comes with two buttons: one for blue digital display and one for turning on the interior light. This 8-bottle model can switch from Celsius to Fahrenheit.
Did You Know?
• You will choose between a compressor and thermoelectric cooler - Most wine refrigerators use either thermoelectric or compressor cooling. Compressor coolers use a refrigerant to cool and are heavier, robust and more powerful. Thermoelectric coolers are more energy efficient and quieter. They use Peltier effect for their cooling- Current flow between conductors results in cooling.
• Freestanding units require breathing room, as they can overheat if they are directly against a wall or under a counter. If you want your wine cooler built in with other kitchen appliances, you must ensure the wine cooler has a front exhaust fan.
• Wine coolers are not a lifetime investment. Experts' advice is that freestanding wine coolers can be erratic. Larger built-in wine cooler models have more structural integrity compared to their many smaller off-the-shelf cooler counterparts which serve well for a short time.
 • Wine coolers are an aesthetic choice too. Wine coolers comes in various finishes such as sleek back, wood and even stainless steel. They also come in different shapes like small like microwave, tall and skinny, or even giant like a dishwasher. Apart from their core functioning, visual appearance is something you might want to also consider.
How to Find the Best Wine Cooler for You

I. Are you into red or white wines?
If you take only white or only red wines, a single-zone wine cooler will be a perfect fit for you. If you are into both reds and whites, a dual-zone model will be perfect for you.
II. How is the temperature of where you intend to keep your cooler?
Thermoelectric models, while more effective and energy efficient, work well in ideal temperatures. If you live in humid areas, your cooler should be in an un-air conditioned environment. A compressor model will work well in such areas.
III. Where do you plan on keeping it?
For a more fit and streamlined look, go for built-in models matching with your other appliances. Consider your space to know what size suits you well.
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Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Lodi Live: Mokelumne Glen Vineyard

Lodi’s Mokelumne Glen Vineyard is an unusual vineyard in arguably the most unusual of California's wine areas (and I mean that in the very best sense of the term). The Koth's collection of German and Austrian wine grapes is up to more than 40 cultivars. From 1998 through 2009, the Koths bottled wine under their own Mokelumne Glen Vineyards label. These days, the grapes go to winemakers who are willing to make great wines with sometimes unknown (to most consumers) varietals. Kudos to them!

Lodi Live: Mokelumne Glen Vineyard

Tasting Notes:
Holman Cellars 2015 Uncharted Lodi Bacchus: 3 day skin contact; fermented in stainless steel; stone fruit, citrus, and floral aromas; apricot, spice, and pear flavors; cork closure; 45 cases produced; SRP $25.00. Holman Cellars creates small lots of 1-4 barrels, which means they can take chances with lesser-known varietals like this 100% Bacchus.
Markus Wine Company 2014 Nimmo Lodi White Wine: 71% Kerner, 13% Gewürtztraminer, 11% Riesling, 5% Bacchus; fermented initially in barrel then stainless steel with native yeasts; aged 9 months in 60% new French oak; lees stirred every 10 days; melon, floral, and tropical fruit aromas; musky melon and tropical fruit flavors; twist-off closure; 180 cases produced; SRP $22.00.
Hatton Daniels 2015 Lodi Zweigelt: hand harvested grapes; initial fermentation on skins and stems;  no sulphur used; red berry, herbal, and smoky aromas; tea, cherry, and herbal flavors; cork closure; 72 cases; SRP $24.00.
m2 Wines 2014 Belle Étoile Blanche: 35% Reislaner, 25% Weissburgunder, 20% Riesling, 20% Gewürtztraminer; fermented 50% neutral French barrels, 50% stainless steel; not fortified; floral, honey, and nutty aromas and flavors; beautifully balanced dessert wine; cork closure; SRP $24.00.
Great information (including the tasting video) on the wines, vineyard, and producers can be seen on the brandlive website

Wines provided for tasting purposes - all opinions are my own.

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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Pike Road Wines

The Campbell Family has been farming in Oregon for five generations, four decades of which have been as grape growers in the Willamette Valley. Finding success with Elk Cove Vineyards, they are branching out with a project to bring unbeatable value to Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. This new endeavor is called Pike Road Wines, named after the winding road that runs adjacent to their vineyards at the foothills of Oregon's Coast Range Mountains.

Pike Road Wines

Tasting Notes:
Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2014: 100% Willamette Valley AVA grapes; aged for 10 months in French oak barrels; dark ruby red; dark fruit, red berry and smoke aromas; plum, rhubarb, and pomegranate flavors; super pleasant mouthfeel with beautiful balance; nice acidic backbone; twist off closure; 9,000 cases produced; SRP $19.
Willamette Valley Pinot Gris 2015: 100% Willamette Valley AVA grapes; fermented in stainless steel; floral, pear, and starfruit aromas; pear, vanilla, unripe lemon into a muskmelon finish; hint of acid keeps it fresh; twist-off closure; 8,000 cases produced; SRP $15.
Both eminently drinkable wines at a price point that allows for drinking more often than not.

Wines provided for tasting purposes - all opinions are my own.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Holman Ranch Olive Oil

About a year ago, Holman Ranch Vineyards and Winery sent me a sample of their 2012 Sauvignon Blanc to taste and it was quite good, a wine I'd return to for sure. Holman Ranch is more than just wines, though, the property includes many projects:  weddings, events, an olive grove, and stables. Originally, the ranch was part of the lands bestowed to the Mission San Carlos Borromeo del Rio Carmelo.  In 1989, Dorothy McEwen planted the vineyards and created the ranch as it is known today, though the current owners, Thomas and Jarman Lowder, planted the olive groves. They were kind enough to provide a sample of their Holman Ranch Olive Oil for tasting.

Holman Ranch Olive Oil

The olive tree grove is composed of 100 trees with cultivars of Frantoio, Leccino, Mission, Coratina, Pendolino and Picholine represented. The trees were raised in a nursery from 1994 and then transplanted to the Ranch in 2007. Nice to know: Although the Olive Grove is not certified organic, organic practices are employed and the mill is certified organic.

I found the olive oil to be very rich and creamy. There are strong grassy notes both on the nose and the palate - this oil tastes fresh and alive. We tried it neat, as part of salad dressings, and also for cooking - a very versatile olive oil, it worked splendidly in all situations.

Oil provided for tasting purposes - all opinions are my own.

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