Thursday, March 25, 2010

Nukes and Nebbiolos: Atomic Testing Exposes Wine Fraud

Loved the headline and photo. I think I've seen this technique explained on "Bones," or possibly "CIS Napa-Sonoma." But Matthew extracted this version of the story from Scientific American.
We all know how carbon dating works, right? No? Well, as you should know, carbon makes up the chemical basis of all known life. Carbon, the fourth most abundant element in the universe, can be found in just about everything, albeit in different types of isotopes. Carbon 12 is all over the place, but carbon 14 (C14) is the rare and finicky little sister. The natural ratio between the levels of these two types of carbon in a given substance has remained constant throughout history, with one notable exception: when we were testing nuclear bombs in the atmosphere back in the '50s and '60s. Those high-altitude mushroom clouds inadvertently altered the level of C14 in the air.

Graham Jones at Australia's University of Adelaide thought he might exploit this variation by correlating the C14 levels in atmospheric samples from that period with the levels in vintage wines. It turns out that some vintners may be trying to pull a bit of a scam. Since, as they grow, grapes absorb a certain amount of C14 from the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, Jones and his team discovered a way to match air levels of C14 with the wine in the bottle; a spike in C14 means your bottle is no older than a Boomer. So, if you're concerned that your Two Buck Chuck is a bit younger than advertised, just grab your trusty liquid scintillation counter, and get to tallying your decaying atoms.
Scientific American]

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Wine Geek Gift Guidelines - Best We've Seen

We get this question numerous times every year and this time we found a really helpful article by Helen Smeaton, entitled, Wine Gifts for Wine Lovers, Cheap or Expensive in Old World Wine is owned

Monday, October 5, 2009

Bootique Boojealais in a Goblinet

Ghost Hunter’s Guide to California’s Wine Country

Yes, only yours truly could dig up (sic) a great wine related gift with a Halloween theme. Not covered in the guide, however, is the locally famous haunted cemetery out on Adelaide Road in Paso Robles Wine Country.

This ghostly guide by Jeff Dwyer, takes readers to the rolling hills, old wineries, and beautiful vineyards of the California wine country. With more than eighty haunted locations described in great historical detail, experienced and novice ghost hunters alike can search this famous region for encounters with ghosts of explorers, Indians, soldiers, and others.

Recommended locations include the famous novelist Jack London’s homestead, where many believe London’s ghost still haunts his beloved ranch. After traveling the vineyards and wineries, the counties of Napa and Sonoma offer more ghostly adventures.

The Cinedome Movie House in Napa is said to hold the ghosts of an older couple who were often found cuddling in the back of the theatre.

In Sonoma, hauntings have occurred in the popular park known as the Plaza. Sem-Yeto, one of the last Pomo Indian chiefs, is buried in the park’s northwest corner, and some have witnessed the spirit of his ghost wandering the site.

About the Author: A paranormal investigator and expert ghost hunter, Jeff Dwyer researches ghostly phenomena using highly developed psychic methods that include clairvoyance, remote viewing, and psychometry. He lives in Fairfield, California.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Calling All Cork Dorks

"Cork dorks," is a term of endearment for all lovable enogeeks.
The name of this software, however, first caught my eye because of it's similarity to Vinoteca, one of Paso Robles' favorite wine bars and gathering spots.

Vinotekasoft ( ) has unveiled a new version of Vinoteka, Vinoteka 1.2.2, the ultimate wine cellar management software for Mac.
In a unique and gorgeous interface showing bottles, cellars and tasting notes, Vinoteka brings the best wine cellar management experience to Mac users.

Extremely easy and fun to use, Vinoteka offers a fantastic and realistic environment to manage your references, your bottles (wine, liquors or spirits), recreate your cellar, save your tasting notes and add your own food and wine pairings.

The new features provide autofilling of some reference fields, and, overall, the most advanced technology in computer aided wine management. Customizable and user-friendly and thoroughly professional; Vinoteka is billed as, "the ultimate companion every wine lover needs."

Vinoteka is based on the latest Mac OS X Leopard OS and packs a full house of high-performance and innovation.

Features & Enhancements

FEAT: Mac OS X 10.6 (aka Snow Leopard) support.
FEAT: New CrashReporter (CMCrashReporter).
FEAT: New filter field in the not racked bottles view.

Minimum Requirements:
Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard or higher

Single user license: $34.90

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Top 10 Whispered Wine Words

The terms used in the luscious lexicon of wine tasting are oft lampooned by philistines. So it may come as a surprise to many how practical and down-to-earth the most used terms are (as culled from tens of thousands of postings on the eBacchus blog).
I know that most of my readers are full blown enomaniacs, but this list should be helpful for the 1,000's of people who enter our fold every day.

1. Aroma
The intensity and character of the aroma can be assessed with nearly any descriptive adjective. (eg: from "appley" to "raisiny", "fresh" to "tired", etc.). Usually refers to the particular smell of the grape variety. The word "bouquet" is usually restricted to describing the aroma of a cellar-aged bottled wine.

2. Balance
Denotes harmonious balance of wine elements - (ie: no individual part is dominant). Acid balances the sweetness; fruit balances against oak and tannin content; alcohol is balanced against acidity and flavor. Wine not in balance may be acidic, cloying, flat or harsh etc.

3. Crisp (Whites)
Wine has pronounced but pleasing tartness, acidity. Fresh, young and eager, begs to be drunk. Generally used to describe white wines only, especially those of Muscadet de Sevres et Maine from the Loire region of France.

4. Finish
Term used to describe the taste left in the mouth after swallowing the wine. Both character and length of the aftertaste are part of the total evaluation. May be harsh, hot, soft and lingering, short, smooth, tannic, or nonexistent.
5. Fruity
Used for any quality that refers to the body and richness of a wine made from good, ripe grapes. A fruity wine has an "appley", "berrylike" or herbaceous character. "Fruitiness" usually implies a little extra sweetness.

6. Smooth / Soft (Velvety)
Generally has low acid/tannin content. Also describes wines with low alcohol content. Consequently has little impact on the palate.

7. Spicy
Almost a synonym for "peppery". Implies a softer, more rounded flavor nuance however.

8. Structure
The flavor plan, so to speak. Suggests completeness of the wine, all parts there. Term needs a modifier in order to mean something - (eg: "brawny" etc).

9. Tannins (Reds)
A naturally occurring substance in grapeskins, seeds and stems. Is primarily responsible for the basic "bitter" component in wines. Acts as a natural preservative, helping the development and, in the right proportion, balance of the wine. It is considered a fault when present in excess.

10. Taste
The four basic sensations detectable by the human tongue. The tip of the tongue contains the taste receptors registering "sweetness". Just a little further back, at the sides, taste will appear "salty". Behind that, flavour will have a "sour" taste at the sides, finally dissolving into "bitterness" at the near center-rear of the tongue.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Hey Kids, Let's Open a Restaurant!

Want to try out for "Last Restaurant Standing?" Think you have the chops to make the cut? Ready to enjoy fine food, snappy cocktails, and exploring restaurants, farmers markets and subject of the hour - street food?

All without gambling with all your 401K funds? Then you should give RESTAURANT CITY a whirl.
Restaurant City (made by Playfish) is an online social game where you can open your own restaurant and enjoy the trials and tribulations of dealing with menus, guests and overflowing restrooms all the while employing your friends as waiters and chefs. It's one of the top 10 most popular games on Facebook with over 10 MILLION people having installed it so far in the past 3 months .. that means 10 MILLION restaurants have opened in 3 months. One's not lacking for choice of eateries.

Here you can try it out directly on Facebook And with a wealth of different decorations, furniture and equipment to choose from you can make your mark with a completely unique restaurant. You can visit your friends' restaurants too and even trade ingredients with them to help you create a menu. It took only 3 months for 10 million restaurants to be created in Restaurant City, whereas it took McDonald's 55 years to open 32,000 restaurants. Just saying.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Green Wine Before St. Patty's Day!

Most of the U.S. thinks all of the wine action in California happens in Napa.
Can't blame them, even Central Coasters don't know that our wine region (3rd largest in the WORLD) leads the nation in sustainable vineyard practices.

Be that as it may there was what the press called, "a groundbreaking summit on green agricultural and business practices" up in Santa Rosa at the end of '08.

This event drew
capacity crowds. The summit provided a comprehensive look at the wine industry's leadership in green practices and opportunities for continuing evolution in best practices in the future.

Congressman Mike Thompson's (D-CA) keynote address explored how the election outcome is likely to change the future outlook for the environment.

"The wine industry has been leading the way in developing cleaner, greener practices to combat climate change and promote sustainable business models," said Congressman Thompson. "We can't afford not to follow their lead in creating a new green economy. Our country faces great challenges, and by investing in new energy technologies we can create good green jobs and develop the infrastructure we need to rebuild our economy."

With more than 50 well respected speakers, the Green Wine Summit was a who's who of green leaders in the wine industry and beyond. Green wine champions including Chris Benziger, Jean-Charles Boisset, Paul Dolan, Peter Mondavi, Jr., Karen Ross, Ann Thrupp and John Williams, among others, covered the latest in sustainable topics.

"We founded the Green Wine Summit because we recognized the wine industry's historic foundation in social responsibility, farming with the long view and future generations in mind and care for the environment. Today, the combination of these is at the heart of sustainability. We saw a need for a forum to explore and share," said Lesley Berglund, Summit Co-Chair.

Looking beyond the world of wine, attendees explored relevant lessons with real take home value from companies like National Geographic's Green Guide, SPG Solar, and Whole Foods, as well as from the Dairy Industry.

The 2009 Green Wine Summit will take place December 1st and 2nd at the Hyatt Vineyard Creek in Santa Rosa, CA. Potential speakers and sponsors are encouraged to emailCo-Chair Lesley Berglund, or (707) 246-6827.
For more information on the Green Wine Summit, please visit