The Island of Santorini: A Unique Wine Region

Are you hungry for a new, sensational wine to add to your collection? Want a different type of wine to grace your palette? If you haven’t tried a Santorini wine, you haven’t really lived.

That goes for those who aren’t wine connoisseurs, either. Whether you have a vague interest in wine or want to become an expert, Santorini is a Greek wine region worth knowing about. It’s rich in history and flavor, and the island is known for a few unique features that may explain why their wine is so divine.

A Condensed History of Santorini

While the most famous form of Santorini wine is their Vinsanto, a style of Italian dessert wine mostly found in Tuscany, the newest craze from the island is their rose wine made from Assyrtiko white grapes indigenous to their land. As novel as we may find this wine as it’s recently come into fashion, the Assyrtiko wine produced in Santorini was actually some of the most valuable wine produced in Europe between the 14th and 16th centuries.

Santorini wine wouldn’t come to America until the 20th century when Greek immigrants were bringing different styles of wine to their new homeland. Many wines during this time were labeled as repulsive due to the common trend of retsina, or a traditional wine served with pine resin. Assyrtiko and other Santorini wines were affected by this stigma, though now they have come to prominence as wine continues to gain popularity in U.S. markets.

What Makes Santorini Wine Unique?

A great one is one that is unique and flavorful. You can almost taste the location in the drink — and drinking a Santorini wine gives you the sensation of being on the beautiful, breathtaking island.

There are two distinct features that make Santorini wines so sought after and different from other similar wines. First, Santorini is an island that has soil made from volcanic ash. This simultaneously offers the wine an acidic flavor that has become something of a trademark, while also killing off phylloxera.

For those unfamiliar, phylloxera is a type of parasite resembling an aphid. Known as “grape phylloxera,” its main source of nutrition and sustenance is the root system of a grapevine. This soil means that some roots found in Santorini are centuries old, producing incredible, strong flavors.

Perhaps the most noticeably distinct of the two features is how grapes are grown in Santorini. Unlike typical growing methods, Santorini wine producers use a training system known as koulara, pictured above. As the vines grow, grape growers weave the vines into basket-like formations that hug the ground, as pictured above. These formations cause the vines to grow into a bowl-shaped bush with the leaves and vines protecting the grapes that grow on the bowl’s inside from getting too much sunlight prematurely.

This is how famed Santorini wines like Nykteri and the eponymous Santorini are crafted with such an incredible and unique flavor. Unique conditions and methods for producing grapes lead to a more distinct flavor within a wine.

Santorini wines are becoming more popular within the United States. If you’re able to find a bottle, I suggest to snatch it up. You’ll be amazed by the incredible, aromatic experience a Santorini wine has to offer! Click here to order your Santorini wine.

Cheers!

The Cork Stop

Post by Digital Marketing Stream

Time to Stop and Taste the Rosés

With spring in full bloom and summer just around the bend, it is a good time to reacquaint ourselves with the beauty of the oft-maligned rosé. Neither white nor red, rosés are sometimes looked down on by wine aficionados. They are not expensive or difficult to produce. They lack the cachet of trophy wines, name recognition of top brands and do not age well. In short, they are sometimes seen as the choice of wine lightweights, however, over the past few years, Rosè wine has exploded across the U.S. market.

It is easy to forget the long and illustrious history of the humble rosé. Experts consider rosés the world’s oldest wine, dating to about 7,000 B.C. Greeks settled in present-day Marseilles, France, about 2,600 years ago, and introduced the first vines to Provence. They enjoyed the fruits of their labor by cracking open a clay pot and sharing some rosé.

Most rosés are produced through “skin contact,” the simplest and fastest winemaking process. After pressing the grapes, skins are left in the juice for a short period of time, usually no longer than one to three days. Greeks and Roman winemakers found that leaving the skins in the liquid longer, known as maceration, resulted in a darker, harsher tasting red wines.

The first champagnes were pale red or pinkish in color. Rosés still account for as much as 5 percent of France’s annual champagne production.

Rosés can be made from a wide variety of grapes that yield many different tastes, so they are not easy to classify. France is the world’s biggest producer of rosé, most of it from the Provence, Loire Valley, Rhône and Languedoc-Roussillon regions. The country accounts for 28 percent of the global supply and is the world’s largest consumer, followed by the United States and Italy.

In Italy, rosé is known as Rosato and first appeared in the southern part of the country where extreme heat killed yeast and cut short the fermentation process. Italian Rosato’s tend to be very pale in color. Slightly darker Rosato’s are known as Chiarettos. Ramato wine from the area around Venice has a copper color, where the Cerasuolo-d’Abruzzo region on the Adriatic coast is known for vintages that are cherry red. In general, regions in northern Italy produce “delicate’ rosés; those in the south for vintages that are more robust and fuller-bodied.

Germany has several regions noted for their individual styles of rosé (rosewein or rossewein). In the Baden region, for example, Badisch Rotgold is a specialty rosé made from pinot noir and pinot gris grapes. The Styria region in neighboring Austria is known for Schilcher, which has a distinctive fruity flavor and high levels of acidity.

Spain also is a significant producer of rosé, or rosado, most notably from the Navarra region near the French border. Portugal is primarily known for its sparkling rosés: Mateus and Lancers.

In the United States, European-style rosé has been usurped by zinfandels and blushes, sweeter wines that typically use “white” or “blanc” in their names. White Zinfandel. Cabernet Blanc. White Merlot. If it is a true rosé you seek, look across the Atlantic.

Below are great reasons to give Rosè a try.

Refreshing. Chilled rosés are a great choice in warm weather.

Attractive pricing. Because they require less aging, rosés are far less expensive to produce than other types of wine. There is no reason to spend more than $15 or so for a very good bottle. Even high-end rosés can be purchased for $25-$30. Have something to celebrate, but want to go easy on your budget? Substitute a bottle of nice sparkling rosé for champagne at a fraction of the price.

No aging required. You won’t find rosés in the wine cellars of serious collectors. Rosés must be consumed within two years of when they are produced. Best, though, to buy in the afternoon, drink in the evening. By the way, go for the newest vintage.

Versatile pairing. Rosés exhibit a range of flavor undertones, from honeydew melon to citrus and more, so they pair well with an equally impressive variety of foods. Because they originated in the Mediterranean area, rosés go well with the distinctive ingredients of the region’s cuisine, such as hummus, garlic, and seafood. Sunset magazine recommends rosés for summer recipes, including grilled chicken thighs with sweet onions and peppers, prosciutto panini, pasta with puttanesca sauce, Niçoise salad and spicy seafood stew. Rosés are the perfect choice for just about any spicy Mexican, Thai or Greek dish.

Frank Stamos, The Cork Stop wine director, suggests two rosés: Mylonas and Alpha Estate Rosé both from Greece.

Cheers!

Post by Bertil Peterson, Digital Marketing Stream

Wine Glasses and Creating the Right Flavor Experience

Wine is more than just a drink. It’s an experience — and the glass you partake from affects the taste.

There’s something iconic about the image of wine being poured from a long-neck bottle into a stemmed glass. Have you ever wondered why? Wouldn’t wine taste the same from a paper cup or a solid gold goblet?

While this could be said for some beverages (2% milk, for example, tastes the same from a mug or a champagne flute), wine is an exception. Stemware has been designed to enhance the flavor of wine for hundreds of years.

How exactly is it done? Wine glass designer Riedel takes a three-stemmed approach to its collections.

The three major parameters Riedel uses for wine glasses are size, shape and opening; and each design serves a specific purpose:

–   The size of a glass controls how much air comes into contact with the wine.
–   The shape determines how the liquid flows to the lip and opening.
–  The rim diameter controls how fast the wine flows through the glass AND how it’s delivered to the drinker’s palate.

Sound like a complicated process? There’s a method to this madness. Scientists at the Institute of Biomaterials and Bioengineering at Tokyo Medical and Dental University recently performed experiments that proved stemware helps intensify the ethanol vapor found in wine. When comparing the levels of ethanol vapor in wine contained in stemware, a straight glass and a cocktail glass, the stemware created a heightened wine-drinking experience.

Let’s turn things up a notch and ask a more complicated question: Are some wine glasses made specifically for different types of wine?

True fans of wine seek out certain types of stemware to go with specific wines. For instance, red wine stemware differs from white wine stemware. Red wine glasses typically have larger bowls to help release the aroma, and the base of the bowl is meant to be cradled between two fingers.

White wine needs less oxygen, so the bowl of the glass is more tapered and the rim narrower. These glasses are traditionally held by the stem. How a glass is held affects the temperature of the wine. When the hand cups the bowl of a red wine glass, the wine gets warmer and releases ethanol vapor.

Other specialized types of glasses include flutes for sparkling wine or small, gently tapered glasses for dessert wines. For those who are truly invested in a heightened wine experience, some glasses are custom designed for particular varietals or vintages.

As you travel further into the world of wine, you will become more and more familiar with the many factors that contribute to making each and every tasting experience the best it can be.

Enjoy the journey!
The Cork Stop

By Digital Marketing Stream

Urban Wine Club, The Hottest New Subscription

Who doesn’t love wine? Do you sometimes feel like you’re in a rut, sipping the same familiar vintages week after week, month after month? With your job, family, and friends filling your schedule, there just isn’t enough time to do the research to figure out what different wines might be worth trying and then hunting them down.

What if you could enjoy new wines each and every month tailored to your taste and price preferences? And what if you could have all this without ever leaving the comfort of your home and have wine delivered right to your door?

Welcome to the Urban Wine Club! The brainchild of The Cork Stop’s wine director, Frank Stamos, the club makes enjoying new wines year round easy, worry-free and affordable.

Why Join?

Flexibility. Urban Wine Club offers several subscription options. You can choose deliveries of three or six bottles twice a month, once a month or every three months.

Value. Three-bottle deliveries cost $59, or $19.67 per bottle. Six-bottle deliveries are $109, a savings of about $1.50 per bottle. Either way, your Urban Wine Club subscription delivers the best wine available for the money. Note that these prices include shipping, handling, and delivery charges.

Express yourself. The bottles you receive are selected just for you. Subscribers fill out a short personal wine profile consisting of 10 questions that help determine the type of wine drinker you are.

Convenience. Subscribers do not have to be concerned about missing deliveries or wasting valuable time waiting for the FedEx truck to show up. Club drivers will hand deliver your wine to you at your home or workplace at the specified day and time. What could be easier?

Expertise. Your personal sommelier, Frank Stamos, is a certified wine specialist with 20 years of experience. He has been a brand portfolio manager for importers in New York and Massachusetts. Frank was a partner and beverage director for Meze Restaurant Group in Charlestown, MA, receiving numerous accolades and awards for his impressive and distinct wine lists. He also worked for Legal Sea Foods as a beverage manager alongside Master of Wine Sandy Block.

Social. As a subscriber to the Urban Wine Club, you get access to wine seminars conducted by Frank. They can be held at The Cork Stop or at your home, business or any other venue. Seminars combine information and tasting. They are a great way to share your love of wine with friends, family, and co-workers.

Great product. The Cork Stop strives to offer only products from smaller wineries around the world that practice organic farming and have very little intervention in their winemaking methods. That philosophy carries over to the Urban Wine Club. As a subscriber, you can be assured that you are not only getting an unbeatable value but supporting winemakers who are passionate about producing high-quality wines naturally.

Are you ready to join one of the fastest growing, hottest wine clubs?

How to Join.

Everything you need to know to get started is on our website http://urbanwineclub.co/

Digital Marketing Stream

Wine Collection Ideas That You Can Share With Friends

Do you love everything about wine? The sound of a cork popping. Feeling the bottle in your hands. The swirl of color in your perfect wine glass. Complex layers of tastes on your palate. Sharing your favorite wines with friends.

Perhaps you’re thinking about starting a wine collection of your own. But hearing that a case of Romanée Conti just went for $59,000 or more makes you think twice. Don’t be discouraged. Experts say the key to wine collecting happiness is preparation.

 

Below Are Great Wine Collection Tips:

 

Decide on investment or hobby.

Are you collecting to sell down the road for a big profit? Or are you more interested in having a collection of favorite vintages on hand to enjoy with friends and family? Remember, fine wine is not a liquid asset. There are no guarantees prices will appreciate.

Collecting for the pure enjoyment of it means having your favorite wines on hand for special occasions. Wine lovers can also save money by buying the better vintages before they age.

Establish a budget

Whether collecting as an investment or for pleasure, decide how much you want to spend. Alder Yarrow of vinography.com suggests that as little as $300-$400 is enough to buy “some excellent bottles that will last 20 years.” But if you can spare $1,000, that’s ideal. And remember, purchases can be spread out over years.

Collect what you enjoy drinking

You really enjoy wine and it’s why you want to start collecting in the first place. So think about what pleases your palate the most. Gradually, you can assemble a diverse collection. But in the beginning, experts say, concentrate on wines you like to drink.

Storage

Wines age best at a constant 55 degrees and 75 percent humidity. If you plan to use your basement, take temperature readings at different times to make sure there are no fluctuations. If the environment is not humid enough, corks will dry out and ruin the wine.

Compact kitchen refrigeration units can be a good choice for novice collectors. and they keep several bottles easily accessible. For those with space or climate limitations, small off-site storage lockers can be rented for about $50 per month.

Avoid the trophy trap

Trophy wines are seen as the crown jewels of collecting. Too often they are over-hyped and expensive, and you may have to wait years for a bottle. Do your homework, and you can find comparable quality for much less.

Taste test

Avoid buying based solely on scores or someone else’s tasting notes. Nothing is more valuable than trying it yourself. Take advantage of tasting events at reputable shops like The Cork Stop and check out wineries in your area. Or plan a vacation to a wine-producing region.

Locations

Seek out regions where you can acquire high-quality vintages at attractive prices. The Cork Stop, for instance, specializes in vintages from smaller wineries that minimize intervention in the production process and use no chemicals.

Continue learning

The world of wine is constantly changing. Take advantage of the Internet, as well as local experts. Read reviews and books. Taste, talk with fellow wine lovers and ask questions. The more you know, the more you will enjoy your wine-collecting journey.

Interested in learning more?

Consider attending wine tasting events, workshops or joining a wine club.  

Join The Urban Wine Club

Join The Urban Wine Club and get amazing wines delivered right to your home. Learn more about wines by attending wine seminars at The Cork Stop.

For further insight on starting a wine collection click here.

Cheers!

The Cork Stop

By Bertil Peterson, Digital Marketing Stream