Friday, April 15, 2011

Israeli Kosher for Passover Wines: April 19-25, 2011


Viticulture has existed in Israel since biblical times and today there are about 150 wineries throughout Israel, with a mere 10,000 acres under vine (compare that to  Spain’s 3 million acres).  Until the 1980s, Israeli wines were primarily of sacramental interest and the standard output was sweet red.  These days, the focus is on quality table wines.  To be considered Kosher, a wine may only be handled by observant Jews from the time the grapes are crushed. If, however, the wine is pasteurized, it may subsequently be handled by anyone without losing its Kosher status.  Additionally, Kosher wine cannot contain any non-Kosher ingredients or fining agents such as isinglass or gelatin.  Read on to learn more about two new labels at The Wine Studio ready for you to enjoy during this year’s Passover holiday!


Barkan Pinot Noir, Negev, Israel, $15

The unique vineyard at Mitzpeh-Ramon is planted in the Negev region, the center of the Israeli desert (south of Gaza) with marked differences in daytime and nighttime temperatures (perfect for pinot noir, which has rarely succeeded in Israel). Its medium body and color blend well with its cherry and strawberry varietal character and subtle oak bouquet. A nice food wine and a great accompaniment to your Passover Seder!


Barkan Shiraz, Dan, Israel, $15

This wine is based on Shiraz grapes harvested at Barkan's Tel-Safi vineyard in the central coastal plain of the province of Dan. The Mediterranean climate is perfect for syrah grapes (the Mediterranean, after all, is where the grape originated!)  Ageing was brief, 6 months in stainless steel tanks. The result is an energetic wine that's a pleasure to sip as well as serve on the table.  It’s deep purple in color and smells of ripe berries, cassis and black cherries, with a hint of sweet vanilla.



Other Kosher for Passover Wines available at The Wine Studio:


Baron Herzog Chardonnay, CA, $16

Baron Herzog Sauvignon Blanc, CA, $16

Baron Herzog Cabernet Sauvignon, CA, $16

Yarden Brut Sparkling, Israel, $20

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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Quick Tips for Serving Sparkling Wines

1.       I’ve often talked about how we serve our white wine too cold in this country, pulling and pouring straight from a super cold fridge.   I use the 10 minute rule, taking my white wines out of the refrigerator a solid 10 minutes before I serve them.  This allows the wine to warm up just enough that you can actually smell and taste it!  (Remember, a slice of cold pizza has a lot less flavor than one you re-warm in the toaster oven!)  But (and this is a BIG BUT), throw away this rule when serving sparkling wine! Serve your bubbles COLD, COLD, COLD! Straight from the ice bucket or your cold fridge.  The reasons for me breaking my own rule are two-fold:  first, the colder the bottle is, the less likely it is to spew its frothy mousse all over you when opening and secondly, the longer the carbonation stays in suspension in the wine.


2.       Turn the bottle, not the cork.  When opening a bottle of bubbly, first peel off the foil and remove the wire cage (there are exactly 6 and a half turns of the wire).  Keep the bottle on a table.  Throw a towel over the top of the cork (to increase friction) and apply pressure to the top of the bottle while at the same time turning the bottle from the bottom with your other hand.  This will allow you to keep control over the whole process and avoid flyaway corks.  As you start to feel the cork and bottle separate, keep even pressure on the cork, almost as if you don’t want it to be removed.  You’ll end up with a quiet little hiss instead of a big pop, but you’ll keep the bubbly in the bottle and you’ll look like a pro!


3.       Use a flute.  I don’t often agree with other wine educators who insist on a proper vessel for each type of wine.  I often use the same glass for my whites as I do my reds.  And I have reasons why I think all of this super specific stemware stuff is a waste of time (and money!) which will have to be the topic of another blog post.  But, I do believe that serving your sparkling wine out of a long, slender flute is a good idea for two major reasons.  First, it allows you to observe the “bead” or the bubbles traveling the length of the glass.  Big, fat clumsy bubbles are usually a sign of forced carbonation, whereas quality sparkling wine will have a speedy, continuous stream of tiny bubbles racing to the top.  But perhaps most importantly, a flute will once again, allow the carbonation to remain in the wine instead of evaporating out too quickly and leaving you with a flat, unexciting experience.


4.       Prime the glass.  To avoid ending up with a foamy mess while pouring for your guests, it helps to first pour a few inches of bubbly into each flute to “prime” the glasses.  Wait for the bubbles to subside and then it’s safe to pour the rest of the glasses without overflow.


These handy tips apply to any sparkling wines, whether you’re serving Prosecco, Cava or a real-deal bottle of Champagne.  Have another question? Comment below or send me an email:

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

10 Most Awesome Gift Ideas from The Wine Studio of Asheville!

Here are some creative ideas for the wine lovers on your gift list!  Happy Holidays from your friends at The Wine Studio of Asheville!


10.  Ticket to Wine 101, $10

Wine 101 is now held here at the studio on a monthly basis.  What a steal for only ten bones! This is a classroom-style tasting of 6 wines with an engaging presentation designed for the person who’s just getting into wine.  The next class is January 27th at 7pm.

(Wine 101 is perfect for your private group, too! Email for info.)



9.  The Teardrop Decanter, $10

Unleaded, dishwasher-safe and doubles as a water carafe.  And at this price, it won’t hurt too badly when someone breaks it!


8.  Gift Certificates, $??

Our gift certificates can be purchased for any amount and can be used for wine, accessories, beer, or classes and tastings!  Great when you’re just not sure what they like to drink and makes great stocking stuffers!


7.  Girls on Grapes Membership, $25

Girls on Grapes is Asheville's best wine tasting group for women!  We began meeting nearly three years ago and membership is the best way to take advantage of all that Girls on Grapes has to offer! A $25 annual membership includes a Girls on Grapes tee shirt, tasting notebook, 20% discount card on all services at Spa Theology, discounts on wine at The Wine Studio and discounted Girls on Grapes tasting fees.  We also hold one or two members-only events each year.  Learn more:


6.  The Delong Grape Varietal Table, $35

For the wine geek, the Delong Grape Varietal Table is organized like a periodic table…184 of the world’s favorite grape varieties organized by body and acidity!


5.  Wish List Wine, $??

Ask us if your recipient has a Wish List here at The Wine Studio!  If so, finding the perfect bottle will be a cinch!  If you’re interested in creating your very own Wish List, stop in today to begin!


4. The Passport Gift Box, $50

This kit includes everything you need to start exploring the world of wine: a copy of The Wine Bible, a soft bound wine tasting notebook, the original aroma wheel from Dr. Ann Noble, 2 stemless wine glasses, the teardrop decanter, and a pull-tap corkscrew (the one the pros use!).  Add on a couple of bottles to complete the experience!


3.  The Locavore Gift Box, $50

Here at The Wine Studio we carry lots of local items and this gift box features our faves: mustard by Lusty Monk, a bag of locally-made crackers from Roots and Branches, locally-made, raw and organic chocolate from Raw Shakti Chocolates, a pizza kit from Gallolea Pizza and Organics, handmade doggie biscuits, plus two bottles of wine from the Owl’s Eye Vineyard and Winery!  A $70 value!


2.  A month...or two ;) of Six Pix, $60

Purchase a gift subscription to Six Pix for a single month or as long as you’d like.  Six Pix is our monthly wine club designed for the eager and adventurous wine lover!  For more info about the Six Pix program visit:


1.  The Hundred Dollar Case, $100

This idea came about in response to a challenge: could we assemble 12 different, but equally delicious wines that are clean and sustainably grown, unique and off the beaten path, and oh yeah, could we do it for $100?  Here’s what we’ve come up with!


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Thursday, October 7, 2010

New Arrival! Roots & Branches

We are now carrying these new crackers from Asheville's own Roots & Branches - Vegan Specialties & Baked Goods.  They've been a hit at several area farmer's markets this season and now you can find them here!  They are light, crisp and the sesame seeds give a touch of nuttiness.  I think they are the perfect light snack when drinking any wine, really - and make a great partner for the Roots Organic hummus that we feature in the cooler.  Soon, we'll be adding even more locally-made wine accompaniments, so stay tuned!  $4 for 7oz.  -JG


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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Quick Taste: New Belgium Lips of Faith - Belgian Style Blonde Ale

Many of you may not know this, but for a brief while, I worked as the Production Assistant for New Belgium Brewing Company in Fort Collins, Colorado.  I was thrilled when their beers crossed the mighty Mississippi and entered the North Carolina market a couple of years back.  As time passes, more and more of their beers are making their way to Asheville and here is one of my favorite from their Lips of Faith series:  Belgian Style Blonde Ale!

This is a strong golden ale, light in color, with moderate body and a crisp finish.  A traditional Belgian yeast strain produces banana and clove notes on the nose.  It's terribly inviting and approachable with a decidedly adult 8.5% alcohol content!  Tasting it reminds me of a creamy, smooth, Russian River chardonnay!  A great food beer!

We have a few sample bottles open today - come on down and get you a taste!

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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Phantom has arrived!

Good Winesday to you all!

We're excited to announce that the new release of the Bogle Phantom has arrived!  This is a wine that has established quite the cult following over the years and has come to be a benchmark standard for the full-bodied, old-vine stylistics of California field blends.  As in past vintages, this wine is predominately petite sirah and zinfandel, rounded out with a bit of mourvedre.  Excited to open a bottle and see what the 2007 had in store for us, this is what we tasted: Lush berry, fierce spice, black pepper, black fruit, juniper, toasty cinnamon, and nutmeg.  This is a highly-coveted wine that will only be around a short time.  Get one to enjoy with all the fall fare that's about to hit our tables and save one to drink in a few years!

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Monday, August 2, 2010

South African Vintage Guide

I am crazy for South African wines for so many reasons!  Maybe its the romance of 350 years of winemaking, the world's most ancient soils, the incredibly diverse flora, fauna, sub-regions...or maybe it's the value, the friendliness and the overall quality.  I'm sure it's all of this and more.  Here's a fun vintage guide that addresses the past few years.  A fun read.


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