Beers is from Mars, Wine is from Venus

Recently Matt at You Stay Hoppy Austin posted a tongue-in cheek list of reasons why beer is better than wine. It struck a chord with me. While I’m a huge fan of both fine wine and craft brew, I see differences in the cultures of the aficionados. Let’s be honest, beer is from Mars, wine is from Venus.

Beer is the drink of the masses, which is why we have Joe Six-pack. Wine is the drink of kings. After all, it’s made from Nobel grapes. Really? Actually it’s not as straightforward as the old stereotypes. But still, aren’t there differences? Here’s how I see it.

When I go to a bar that draws beer devotees, I always know what the crowd will look like before I open the door. It will be 90% men, the majority with beards, wearing bicycle messenger shorts and either beer or ironic t-shirts. They hold up fat goblets of sour beer made by Trappist monks and describe the fruitiness with no sense of irony. These guys will dazzle each other with their encyclopedic knowledge of beer history, beer production, beer taste profiles and the coolest dudes making craft brew in the coolest places. They speak of finger width head, lacing, the scent of sourdough and pine sap flavors with the fervor of as recently converted Pentecostal. Beer geeks can be a little cliqueish and reserved with you until you demonstrate that you have hop cred. These semi-elitists certainly are no Joe Six-packs.

When I go to a wine bar or a wine tasting, I also know what I’m going to find. The over-stuffed couches and chairs will be populated by couples or small groups of girlfriends engaged in lively dialog about fashion, the arts politics and economics while eating artisan cheeses and organic fruit. They’ll pause occasionally to comment on how the wine is opening up as it breaths (even though the bottle was opened yesterday) and to recount how it reminds them of the oh-so-off-the-beaten-path boutique winery they discovered in Anderson Valley/Willamette Valley/Bordeaux/You Name The Region – all in a breathless conspiratorial tone of someone who has discovered the covenant of the lost arc. They aren’t above it all royalty. In fact, they are looking for wine that is still in touch with the earth; and speak of it lovingly as terroir.  

While I might hold these perceptions, I wondered if others people see it this way too. So @stayhoppyaustin and I contacted some wine and beer experts to ask what they think of beer culture compared to wine culture. Do they seem them as Cat people and Dog people? Here’s a sampling of what I heard from the winos.

  • Rollin Soles, wine maker, Argyle Winery and Roco Winery“Beer is a refreshing beverage to enjoy after a serious wine tasting for many winemakers. I call beer Khaki Champagne. I’ve got a lot of respect from the best brewers as the good ones know the difficulties of making a great, balanced fizzy beverage, and sparkling wine is the pinnacle. The respect is mutual.

The best winemakers and brewers have a lot in common. We want to know the source of our ingredients, we want to play with and control those ingredients, we understand balance and the power of subtlety, we take our craft seriously but not ourselves. The ‘universe’ of beer and wine has never been broader nor better!”

  • Rick Bakas, founder of Bakas Media, and author of Back to Bakas a Sommeliers Guide to Wine + Food, Facebook.com/sommrickbakas – “Beer aficionados are more brand loyal and tend to stick to a style or brand through thick and thin.  Wine aficionados will whore themselves out to anyone and I mean that in the best way possible.  There are more than twice as many wineries in the world as there are breweries, so there are more wine brands to sample.  It might seem like wine folks are more serious about wine, but in my opinion, beer geeks are more serious about their drink of choice.  Part of that may be that home brewers find beer to be more accessible and easier to be part of than wine.   It’s not real easy to make good wine at home like you can with beer. The beer community is more collaborative because of the added home brewer demographic.  I’ve been part of home brew forums that share brew recipes whereas wine doesn’t have that added layer of interaction.

Both communities have their elitist demographics.  Both have people that are serious about their craft.  For the wine crowd, they have experts such as Master Sommeliers.  There are beer somms but they don’t carry the same cache, or aren’t as well-known as wine somms.  Technically, a good sommelier knows their beer and wine equally along with any other adult beverage but wine gets more focus than beer.

The beer crowd is weighted heavily towards men.  Last time I went to the GABF it was about 80% males….real sausage fest.”  

  • Husband and Wife team the beer guy, William Fraser, and Denise Fraser, the mind behind the Texas Wine Gal blog gave me a he-said, she-said on beer and wine – “A beer geek is happy to enjoy a pint (or better yet, several half pints) in a bar that’s hot, got lousy food, and a pitiful wine list.  Oh yeah, and it’s probably got flat screens blaring sports. (wink!)”

“A wino frequents bars and restaurants where she can order something other than Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot, and she wants to enjoy good food – even if only an artisan cheese plate – with her glass or bottle of wine.  Oh yeah, and she wants a decent pour. (clink!)”

Collaborative? “Beer geeks collaborate on meaningless fodder, intended to humor one another.”

 “Texas winemakers and growers are super collaborative and helpful in order to support the overall industry. They share knowledge, equipment, and other resources in order to move the industry forward. And the wine community here is also collaborative with the local foods movement, illustrating ‘what grows together, goes together.’  Wine people also stick together.”

Inclusive? “Wine people are inclusive only if you possess an adjective vocabulary larger than a kitchen panty, blessed with a nose comparable to that of a dog and with an understanding that tannins is what the hot blond at the end of the bar has been doing all day.”

“Wine may historically had a bad rap for being exclusive or snobby, but no more.  Today’s wine consumers, particularly Millenials, don’t really care what the Winestream media (I’m stealing this term from Wine Curmudgeon Jeff Siegel) say about wines.  They care less about scores and more about what their friends suggest.  There’s nothing more inviting or inclusive than enjoying and talking about wine with friends”. 

Elitist or egalitarian?  “Egalitarian is a big word for a beer drinker.  We prefer to share our beer.”

“Beware the wino who gets into his geek mode when describing wine….barnyard, band-aid, wet socks, gasoline or cat pee. That can be a little boorish.  For me, I like simple, easy descriptors – a cherry Jolly Rancher maybe – and people who realize that everyone’s palates are different. I may love a wine that you don’t like at all…and that’s OK.”

Gender differences? “Yes, they both have cleavage, but one is more likely to show you theirs.  Guess which one?”

“I’d have to say that wine is pretty 50-50.” 

  • Jessica Dupuy, freelance writer, http://jessicadupuy.com/ – “A beer aficionado is someone who not only enjoys beer for taste, but someone who has a level of understanding of what it takes to make good beer. Having this understanding allows beer lovers to try and taste different beers-which can have anywhere from 30 different ingredients influencing the flavors–with a better awareness for what they like and don’t like.

I’m a wine fan, but I think the community of beer makers are very collaborative. Because of how beer if made, it requires more of a process that artisans can really learn from by working with other craft beer producers.

There are beer geeks and there are wine enthusiasts, both can have an elitist streak if you get them drinking enough beer or wine. ; ) but I’ve found that people that really are aficionados on either beverage is well past the point of being pedantic just for the sake of showing off a little knowledge.

I see more women in the wine crowd, but honestly both are still good ole boy communities…”

  • Katy Jane Bothum, Creator/Producer of the Austin Wine & Music Festival,  – “I find them both to be die hard loyal with exploratory natures if you will.  Beer seems to hover on the inclusive side of enjoyment where wine can sometimes rest on the exclusive side. I believe in both there are subcultures that welcome and fit the education level or groove of anyone looking to imbibe.

Both go to both (beer and wine festivals) because they are always friends with, dating and or married to the other.  Which is why Austin Wine and Music Festival chose to add Craft Beer in its third year so that we too – even as a wine event could rest on the inclusive side. Imbibing should come without pretense and with unadulterated joy for what your heart and palate crave.” –

  • Jeremy Parzen, Ph.D., Italian wine aficionado and author of Do Bianchi – “There is more social engagement in the wine community only because the unique nature of how wine is bottled, labeled, and shipped creates more opportunity for human engagement. There is a tendency toward elitism in the wine community, if only because of the historical stigma and cliché of wine. Historically, beer has always had a more proletarian appeal (but only in the U.S.; in Europe it’s the opposite). There are more women in wine for sure. Women have superior palates and are better at evaluating and discussing wine than men.”

 

  •   Diane Dixon, co-founder, Keeper Collection, LLC and Somms Under Fire – “(Beer aficionados are) enthusiastic about their brew; adventuresome to taste lots of different beer. Wine aficionados love their wine; tend to like certain wine regions and stick with those.”

 

  • @Sassodoro, Italian wine aficionado – “The thought that wine and beer enthusiasts are like Cat people and Dog people certainly applies to me. I know that beer can be tremendously complex and interesting, and pair fabulously with food, but I just never got all that excited about it.  I find the wine crowd to be a very congenial bunch, both among people in the business and ‘civilians.’ Perhaps it isn’t surprising that ‘civilian’ enthusiasts would be a fun crowd. That’s probably the case for any group of people that come together to share their hobby.

What I found more surprising was the degree of helpfulness and collegiality among people in the wine business who are ostensibly competitors. I was once an investor in a retail wine store and within the first month or so that we were open, another retailer came up to me at a trade tasting and offered his help, advice, and good wishes. I know a couple of importer-distributors who share warehouse space, sometimes conduct joint portfolio tastings, and celebrate each other’s successes. Among sommeliers and aspiring sommeliers, the mutual support and mentoring is truly impressive. And I see on Twitter all the time where people are supporting others with whom, at some level, they are competing.”

I don’t know. It sounds like people have differing opinions on this. Some think they are cut from the same cloth, some people think they are different. Take a look at what the Beer Geeks have to say on this matter over on You Stay Hoppy Austin.

What do you think? I have to know.

 What are you drinking?

Exploring Texas Wine at the Austin Wine & Music Festival

Do you remember the TV commercial where the two boys are reluctant to eat a bowl of Life cereal because they are certain it’s going to taste like crap? They pass it on to their little brother who happily eats it and they exclaim, “Hey Mikey! He likes it!” That’s my experience with Texas wine. I was certain I’d hate it because of a bad experience in the past, but when I gave it a try, I found some I like.

Outa state haters can keep your derision in check until you’ve done the same and given Texas wine a try. 

I started my education in Texas wines at the Austin Wine and Music Festival, held annually over the Memorial Day weekend. Not only was I able to taste fine wines from boutique Texas wineries, but I could get Sangria slushies and habanero honey all within earshot of live music. Now that’s a party. With a stemless wine glass in hand; I set out among the sea of tents housing 30 local wineries in search of a few wines that I would be proud to serve to any guests, any time.   

My quest for the goods began with Inwood Estate Vineyards & Winery. Every time I ask a Texas wine aficionado what their favorites are, they list Inwood among the tops. This is a boutique winery producing fewer than 5,000 cases a year. They were pouring three wines under the Segundo label, leaving the higher priced estate wines at home. I really liked all three.

Inwood Segundo Palomino-Chardonnay

This is an interesting white wine made of 75% Palomino and 25% Chardonnay grapes. Have you had a Palomino wine before? It’s the primary grape used to make Sherry in Spain. It’s a bold white wine, aged in French Oak and it stood up well in the near 100 degree heat at the festival.

Look Segundo shows soft yellow with bright clarity. It could pass for a Sauvignon Blanc in appearance.
Smell A burst of honeysuckle, honeycomb and pear announced that this is no meek wine. It’s as big as Texas.
Taste Lush, full bodied white with green apple, pear, vanilla and honey flavors and a clean, crisp finish that has a tiny hint of minerality.
Price $22

 

Next I ambled over to Dry Comal Creek Vineyards because I had met the owner, Bonnie Houser, during a preview of the festival and liked her vivacious style. They make wine with grapes grown in Texas, New Mexico, California and Arizona with an emphasis on fruit forward wines.

Dry Comal Creek Vineyards 2010 “Bone Dry” French Colombard   

This wine is a limited production wine, with less than 500 cases produced. It’s made with grapes grown in California and fermented and aged at the winery outside New Braunfels, Texas. While it’s labeled “Bone Dry” because it has 0% residual sugar, the fruitiness of the wine makes it seem a bit sweet. It would be a good wine to throw in a bucket of ice and drink during a mid-summer picnic.

Look Like a Texas ranch with aged straw in the sun, light and relaxed.
Smell A floral and almost herbaceous nose with citrus and lemon zest.
Taste This wine came straight out of the orchard with pear, green apple and lime. While the mouth feel was full, it had a crisp mineral finish.
Price $18

 

My next stop was at the Spicewood Vineyards tent. Owner, Ron Yates, talked about his passion for wine and how happy he is to be making it, instead of being a lawyer like he was before. Ron and winemaker, Jeff Ivy, produce a little more than 5,000 cases of wine annually at the facilities in the Hill Country near Marble Falls. Much of the wine is made from grapes grown on or near the property. Spicewood Vineyards is known for its award winning Sauvignon Blanc.

Spicewood Vineyards Touriga Nacional 2009  

You might recognize Touriga Nacional as one of the primary grapes used to make Port. Unlike Port, this wine is not fortified and does not have high residual sugar. The vines grow well in the heat of Portugal as well as the Texas Hill Country. Spicewood ages its Touriga in a mix of new and aged Hungarian and American oak for about 8 months; just enough time to round out the wine without giving it woody qualities. This is a big wine that would go well with a huge hunk of meat.

Look Deep amethyst and garnet like a rich Cabernet.
Smell This Touriga had a full nose of vanilla, blackberry and anise. Rich, spicy, fruity and powerful.
Taste The first taste is like the first bite into a rare steak right off the ranch, bloody and fleshy. The saline eased quickly into plumb, currant, black cherry and cola. This is a relatively young wine and had enough tannins to make me pucker a bit.
Price $24

 

I also tried delicious wines from Driftwood Estate Winery and Flat Creek Estate, but after sampling eight wines before getting to them, I didn’t trust the accuracy of my palate (even though I was spitting much of what I sampled). Therefore I chose not to take notes on these wines. In particular, I want to try the Flat Creek Super Texan blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah again. I had a great talk with Rick Naber, the owner Flat Creek, and appreciated his enthusiasm for the wine industry in the state. I’ll make a point of visiting his winery. 

I’ve just scratched the surface with Texas wine, but I’m happy to buy them, serve them and recommend them. Give these a try and let me know what you think. I’m going to keep trying Texas wine and really appreciate your recommendations for what to drink next. What should I try?

What are you drinking?

Drinking Local Wine for a Good Cause

Sometimes drinking a glass of wine is the gateway to Nirvana. Sometimes you need a little more than just a glass of wine to get you a step closer to heaven. Here’s your chance to do good while drinking a glass of wine. On Thursday, June 9, Accord Home Care, Central Texas EMS, Nurses Unlimited and Philips Lifeline are hosting a wine tasting event at Water2 Wine, Sky Ridge Plaza in Round Rock to raise money for Faith in Action Caregivers-Round Rock. In addition to the wine tasting, there will be a raffle, silent auction and jewelry sale. The money raised will provide transportation services for older adults. 

Water2Wine is a mini winery right in a wine shop. They make custom wines from fruit grown around the world and bottle it with personalized labels. At this event, they will be serving a selection of three whites, three rosés, three reds and three dessert wines accompanied by cheese and chocolate.   

  • When: Thursday, June 9th 4:30-6:00 pm
  • Where: Water 2 Wine, 2000 S. IH-35, Suite H1-H2, Round Rock, TX 78681
  • How much: Tickets $10
  • For more information: 512-310-1060 or rr@fiacaregivers.org 

What are you drinking?

Lucky Boozer, or Brilliant Wine Expert on the Rise? June Rodil, Congress Austin

I think being a sommelier would be a fascinating job. The job requires a bit of a scientific approach with the deft touch of an aesthete. I asked June Rodil, beverage director at Congress Austin, if she would describe a sommelier as a chemist, an artist or magician? She good naturedly set me straight, “Haha. Wow. None of the above. Lucky Boozer?”

Lucky Boozer. Now that’s a damn fine title.

June is amazingly humble. It’s actually a little more involved than that. It’s serious business. To become a Master Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers (one of three major affiliations) a person has to train for years and pass a series of exams. There are four levels of qualification:

  • Introductory
  • Certified
  • Advanced
  • Master

The most amazing fast-track-go-getters might be able to blaze through the levels in about five years, but it typically takes longer than that. Heck, you have to actually be invited to take the test to become a Master. The selection criteria evaluates the amount of time available to train since passing the Advanced level and where one is in their wine-related career to determine whether a candidate is worthy.  

Not only is it time consuming and rigorous, but it’s also expensive. Not only do candidates have to pay for the registration, the exams and the books, but they also have to buy gallons of high-end wine. It’s very much like paying tuition for a university and master’s degree.

June has started to amass a pile of awards and honors. She took top honors “Texas Best Sommelier,” awarded by the Texas Sommelier Association in 2009, won the Wine Ride in 2010 and is competing against two other noted sommeliers in Somms Under Fire at the W Hotel Austin.

She began her quest to become a Master Sommelier in 2007 after working in prominent roles at acclaimed restaurants at the Driskill Hotel where she eventually became a floor sommelier, Uchi and Uchiko, the last which she helped to open. She has continued to work on the sommelier program and just passed the Advanced Sommelier exam this month in her first attempt, a relatively rare occurrence.  

Not only does she get a lot of practice on the job, but she also participates in a tasting group every Monday night with three other people in the industry. Each person brings six bottles of wine – three whites and three reds – to taste. They taste 2 oz pours blindly and spend about 25 minutes examining each wine, writing notes about the qualities and flaws of the sight, nose and palette. Somehow I think I’d get more gratification out of paying for those school supplies and doing that kind of studying than prepping for a statistics exam.

Her skill and hard work helped her land the job as beverage director for the three new restaurants and bars that are part of Congress Austin when it opened in November 2010. In this role, she built and oversees a 500 label wine list for the swish Congress, a 80 label wine list for the casual Second Bar + Kitchen and provides oversight to the incredible cocktails mixed in both of those and in the swanky Bar Congress. The day I visited they were mixing Japanese themed drinks in Bar Congress, including the Short Round Sunrise with Suntory Yamazaki, grapefruit, grenadine and lemon. Short Round, June’s affectionate nickname at the bar, is the Japanese orphan in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. 

She gave me a tour of the 2,500 bottle wine cellar and described how she built the list with a focus on Old World Wines and also plenty of California wines to pair with the American cuisine. There is a balance of renowned labels and adventurous selections to titillate any taste. The Second Bar wine list has wines by the glass and nothing over $100 a bottle. I think I drooled a little on the wood floor while surveying the Bordeauxs, Burgundies and Champagnes (don’t tell June).    

Having that many wines gives her a wide selection to pair with lots of foods. I asked her what the toughest wine and food pairings have been.  “Soup. Artichokes. Asparagus. The usual trifecta of sommelier kryptonite. Oh god. Can you imagine having to pair artichoke-asparagus soup… chilled?

I have a couple rules: a) When in doubt–Champagne. b) match the weight of the food to the weight of the wine and vice versa and c) if you like it, then it’s a good pairing. Sometimes it’s as simple as that.”

All work and no play makes June a dull girl. She let me in on her off-duty favorites.  “I will always be a Champagne hussy. I love it so much. Any flavor or color. I lean towards grower producer champagnes, but, honestly…at the end of the day, I’m not that picky. After a long tasting day of wine, I want beer: lagers, something refreshing and crisp. I also love cocktails: manhattans are my go-to but also love Negronis and absinthe based drinks.”

Some of her favorites include:

  • Henri Goutorbe Special Club Champagne
  • Pierre Peters Rose for Albane Champagne
  • Ciacci Piccolomini Brunello
  • Lucien Crochet Croix du Roy Sancerre
  • Maximin Gruenhauser Abtsberg Riesling
  • Sylvain Cathiard Vosne Romanee
  • Albert Grivault Clos les Perriere Meursault

I’m looking forward to seeing June compete in Somms Under Fire to see her brilliance on the fly. If you don’t make it to the event check her out in one of her three restaurants.

What are you drinking?

Sharing the Passion for the Perfect Pairing: Somms Under Fire

She leaned in close with a gleam in her eye and confided her plan in a conspiratorial tone. “But you can’t write that before the event.” Conversation topics bubbled up, over-lapped and blended like a complex cocktail, like a well-orchestrated mix tape. Exquisite wines flowed with the conversation and became integral to the conversation. We shared stories about wines and learned from each other. This is a pretty typical thing among friends. The only thing anomalous about this is that we had just met.

Diane Dixon, founder of Keeper Collection, an online resource for food, wine and travel, and her husband Earl invited Beautiful Wife and me to their home to tell us about their upcoming food and wine event called Somms Under Fire. The Dixons are passionate about sharing tips on enjoying all things culinary and have made it their lives work.

Thank god for people like the Dixons that love to share knowledge about wine. Let’s face it; wine can be a daunting subject to both newcomers and seasoned pros alike. There are thousands of brands, dozens of varietals and blends and the complexity grows exponentially when attempting to pair wine well with food. Sure the old rules of white with chicken and red with meat can be a good starting point, but sheesh things can go nuts from there.

I’m a fairly savvy wine buyer, but I always seek advice from friends that know wine, from trusted wine merchants and definitely from sommeliers. I’m excited to go to the inaugural Somms Under Fire, because it’s all about introducing people to brilliant sommeliers and to show off expert food and wine pairings.

The event takes place on May 1, 2011 at the W Austin with food from its signature restaurant, Trace. The event challenges Scott Barber, Centennial Fine Wine and Spirits in Dallas, Chris McFall, Paggi House, and June Rodil, Congress Austin to make impeccable pairings from food that is not on their own menus and wines that aren’t on their lists. They’ll hear the wine and food choices at the same time the audience does and will have to perform under pressure in front of a panel of international celebrity food and wine judges. The judges, Drew Hendricks, Peter Wasserman and Matt Reiser will score the somms and the audience also gets to pick their favorite. Now that’s under fire.

This is a perfect venue to show off their passion for food and wine and to demystify what sommeliers do for a living. Their entire purpose is to enhance our dining experience. What better way to understand the value of a sommelier than to see them make decisions on the fly in a completely neutral setting?  What could be better than watching three pros compete to match the complex flavors of exquisite cuisine with the perfect wines and then eating and drinking the results?

If you want to see this for yourself, you can get tickets here.

This is the third event from Keep Collection. Diane and team created Chefs Under Fire two years ago pitting Iron Chef contestants against each other. This year they introduced the Wine Ride with five sommeliers competing to match wine and food at various locations around town. And now Somms Under Fire. Each of these events mirror the Dixons’ passion to share epicurean knowledge and experiences in inventive, fun and friendly settings. Keep Collection also hosts Somms Chat each Wednesday on Twitter and Facebook, where sommeliers answer questions about wine. I got my Easter wine selection idea from last week’s chat with Drew Hendricks. Like  food and wine, friendship also goes well with wine. The Dixons have a knack for building relationships as they spread their knowledge.

There are a lots of ways to learn about wine. What influences your decisions for wine and food purchases and pairings? Friends? Blogs? Wine Merchants? Sommeliers? Share with me, because I’m still learning.

What are you drinking?

Size Matters: How to Make an Impression at Holiday Parties

I’m a huge proponent of going to as many parties as possible during the holiday season, particularly the parties that have full, hosted bars. There are plenty of parties at friends’ homes to attend as well. When you attend a private party, you should always bring a bottle of something to augment the host’s supply, whether they need it or not. It’s a nice gift if it isn’t served.

This holiday season, why not make a positive impression by bringing an over-sized bottle of wine to your next party? The holidays are all about excess and I know you are in the holiday spirit, so go for it.  Stand out by presenting your host with a Magnum, Jeroboam or even a Rehoboam or festive Champagne or red wine. You can’t go wrong.

There are several sizes of wine bottles. There is absolutely no reason to bring an ordinary bottle to a festive event when you can do more. Here’s a handy reference guide for you.  

Volume (liters) Ratio (bottles) Name What it means
0.1875 0.25 Piccolo It means “small” in Italian, and is also known as a quarter bottle, pony, snipe or split. It is the common size served when you order bubbly by the glass. To me this is just a novelty. Why in the hell would anyone embarrass a perfectly good wine by putting it in something so unfulfilling? The only reason to take these to a party is if you have a car-load of ‘em and you’re using them as stocking stuffers.
0.375 0.5 Demi It means “half” in French., so its cleverly known as a half bottle or split. It is a reasonable size if you want a little wine with dinner by yourself. These are completely useless at a party and will no doubt cause you to be seen as “half” a guest.
0.750 1 Standard This is your normal bottle that you see everywhere. Legend has it that the size was based on the amount an average Frenchman could consume at lunch without being too impaired to return to work. If you are absolutely common and ordinary in every way, bring this size bottle. “Oh look honey, Mr. Average is here to bore the hell out of us.”
1.5 2 Magnum The double bottle. These are relatively easy to find and affordable. It’s just big enough to make a good impression when you walk into a party. It says, “I’m not messin around here.”
3.0 4 Jeroboam Oh yeah, the “Double Magnum.” It is named for a Biblical king and has kingly dimensions. If you tote this bad boy into a party, you’ll definitely get invited back next year (unless you sleep with the host’s significant other).
4.5 6 Rehoboam This beast is about as big as you can get and still feasibly carry it to a party and pour from it without making an atrocious mess. We’re talking about an entire ½ case of wine in one bottle here. It’s also named for a Biblical king. Walk into a party with this, and you’ll be king.

There are several other sizes of wine bottles going all the way up to the 40 bottle Melchizedek. You’re not going to find the ultra-large size bottles unless you special order them. These are the bottles you see as ornamentation at fine restaurants and wine shops. Call your favorite wine shop ahead of time to see what they have on hand in a large format bottle. Your friends will love you for it.

I recently did this with a Magnum of Domaine de Mourchon 2006 “Grande Reserve” Cotes du Rhone Villages. The winery is on top of a hill in the village of Provencal Seguret, located in southern Cotes du Rhone. It’s a fairly new winery, founded in 1998 with existing vineyards. They make three lines of wine, and the “Grand Reserve” is a blend of Grenache and Syrah from old vines.

Here is what you can expect.

Look The rich purple of an advent candle burning for Christmas.
Smell The makings a fine fruit cake with nutmeg, toasty cinnamon, fennel, raspberries and plums simmering on the stove.
Taste This wine is a holiday feast of jammy black cherries, currant, white pepper and carpaccio. Its medium body moves from fruit to earth before a mid-length finish of smooth tannins.
Price $38 (or $20 for a standard 750 ml)

This is a respectable wine and downright jolly in a large format bottle. So what’s it going to be? Will you be remembered as the guest that brought the huge bottle of fantastic wine? Or will you be forgotten?

What are you drinking?