It is time for some serious wine tasting at Thru The Grapewine. Ute and Ali met up at Costco and purchased several Kirkland wines, and of course, tasted them during the episode. Please note, that the episode was edited to shorten sipping and slurping while tasting.
Thru The Grapewine is not sponsored by Costco or the Kirkland brand. Wines were purchased by Thru The Grapewine, and the opinions stated are our own.
Wines purchased and tasted: (Prices may vary)
Kirkland Signature Ti Point Sauvignon Blanc 2021 ($7.49)
Kirkland Signature Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2020 ($12.99)
Kirkland Signature Malbec 2021 ($6.89)
Kirkland Signature Rioja Reserva 2018 ($7.99)
K Vine Cabernet Sauvignon 2020 ($9.99)
Kirkland Signature 10 Year Old Tawny Port NV ($14.99)
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Sources used for this episode:
Who makes Kirkland wine?
The definitive guide to Costco’s Kirkland Signature wines
Costco’s Kirkland wine ranked, from worst to best
20 Surprising facts about Costco wine, beer, and liquor
Wines at Costco that are worth the high prices
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Full episode transcript:
Ute: Hello and welcome back to another episode of the Thru the Grapewine podcast. We are your hosts, Ute Mitchell and
Ali: Ali Simpson!
Ute: And this is another episode of a GenXer
Ali: and a Millennial
Ute: walk into…
So we do have a few exciting updates we want to tell you about real quick. First of all, we have a private Facebook group now. You can join us at the Thru The Grapewine VIPs for conversation, polls, recommendations, and of course, community. The group is growing every day, so this is super fun for really everyone involved. Also, check out the show notes for free downloads, transcript of this episode, as well as any sources.
Plus a topic request form. So if you have a wine, a woman in wine, or a question about either of those, please let us know.
Ali: So I have a quick question for our listeners today. Do you drink along with us when you listen to these episodes? If so, would you want to know what wine we will be talking about beforehand, or at least the variety or varietal?
What… variety? Varietal? Tomato, tomato!
Ute: Tomato, tomato!
Ali: I’m sure someone will correct us on that.
Ali: So that you can drink the same as us. Send us a direct message on Instagram or respond to the post in our VIPs Facebook group. We would love to know if that is something that you are interested in. Even if you’re not interested, just tell us, “you know what? I like to pop my own thing… own bottle open while you guys are chatting and I don’t care to know beforehand.” So
Ali: Either way, let us know.
Ute: You know what, I would love to know where and when people are listening to the podcast. That would be so much fun. Like, are you in the car? Are you at work? Are you, you know, at home ironing. Do you iron?
Ute: I don’t either.
Ali: Toss it in the, in the dryer!
Ute: In the dryer.
Ali: On the run. Maybe you’re listening on the run…
Ute: While you’re running.
Ali: …for other runners.
Ute: Yes, exactly.
Ali: Yeah. My Eugene half marathon training program starts on Monday.
Ute: Ooh, exciting.
Ali: So I’m gonna be needing to get on a lot more runs in the coming days.
Ute: I hear you.
Ali: Uff dah.
Ute: I used to be a runner once upon a time. I really, really enjoyed it. And I did multiple half marathons, 10Ks, and I did the Portland Marathon. I hated every, no, you know what, not, that’s not true. I didn’t hate every minute of it, but… So at the time, the route for the Portland Marathon, and I wanna say this was 2015 or 16. Mile 17 went over the St. John’s Bridge.
Ali: Yep. So you had that whole mile climb getting up there.
Ute: Oh. And from there on, you know, even though it was really cool to stand up on the St. John’s Bridge, I totally took a break and looked down and took some pictures.
Ali: Oh yeah.
Ute: But after that, it was just misery and I started whining at my husband. I would send him text messages, “it’s so miserable.” And then I came onto like that last mile and there’s my husband and he’s standing there and he’s clapping and my kids and, and then I come to like this finish and you have to go around the corner and there’s all of these people cheering and I’m going, oh my gosh. You know…
Ali: You forget all the pain of the previous 26 miles. Just those 0.2.
Ute: Yes, it was. That was really great. So
Ute: I had a good time with that. I can’t run anymore. My, my hips don’t do that stuff anymore. And yeah, she’s getting old. GenXer.
Ali: I did yoga last night just to like stretch out, cuz I did go on a run, uh… oh yesterday! I went on a midday run and I was definitely feeling it.
Ali: I think I did like two miles. Which does not bode well for me, , uh, with this training plan coming up. But I decided to do yoga, just a quick 10 minutes last night. And I am embarrassed at how inflexible I am.
Ali: It’s terrible.
Ute: Yeah. I can appreciate that. I’m, I’m not very flexible.
Okay. Well, okay, so this is a wine podcast.
Ali: Yes. Yes. We’ll get back to the wine.
Ute: How about you get started ?
Ali: Yeah. So you may have noticed from our intro, we are going to switch things up a bit today. Instead of telling you about one wine and one spectacular lady, we are going to have a discussion surrounding a few different wines all within a theme, and we’re gonna answer a few questions that have popped up from our listeners and followers on our different socials.
So what’s this theme? Drum roll, [drumroll noises]
Ali: Yep. Uh, we are doing wines from Costco today. Do you buy wines at Costco? Do you avoid buying wines at Costco because you think, uh, maybe you have some myths surrounding them about how cheap they are or lesser quality. Well, we are here today to give you some facts and hopefully dispel some myths around Costco wines for you.
First off, we need to add, we are not in any way sponsored by Kirkland or Costco or any of the producers we are about to talk about, and we purchased all of the wines with our own money.
Okay! Let’s crack into it,
Ute: Ba dum…tsss! [the joke rimshot sound]
Ali: Because our first wine is a screw top!
Oh, we don’t have a towel.
Ute: Oh, here I have, I have these napkins from the burgers that we just ate.
Ali: We had a lunch of champions, y’all!
I am currently drying off this bottle because we had to do a quick cool down of a bottle. If you have listened to previous episodes, you remember us talking about quick ways to chill a bottle.
Ali: And one of them is a bucket with ice and cold water. And that is what we had to do. So…
Ute: We do what we have to.
[ wine bottle cracking open…kinda]
Ali: Oh, that was…
Ute: Oh, that was anti-climax.
Ali: I thought that was gonna be a real nice crack. Not at all.
Ute: All right, well, so she just opened a Sauvignon Blanc, but why don’t I get us started by talking about who’s behind making the wines. Because Costco didn’t just go out buying vineyards and hiring their own winemakers to bring you inexpensive wine.
Okay, so the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau states that Kirkland, California wines are associated with Gallo and Ethica wines. But of course, there are a number of different wines with different producers and importers from all over the world. Let’s take their Ribera del Duero, which is a Tempranillo from Spain.
It’s produced by Bodegas Vina… Is it Vena or Vina? I want it to be Vina…Solorca and imported by Misa Imports. Their Signature Rose comes from the Cotes de Provence in France and was made by a winemaker named Olivier Sumeire. The Brunello di Montalcino from Italy was made by Fattoria dei Barbi Winery. And the list goes on. So we are not going to mention them all, but we will put the sources for this information into the show notes so you can take a closer look if you’re interested.
Just to give you an idea though, Kirkland wines include, aside from those that are already mentioned, their Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon, Pauillac Bordeaux, Chianti Classico, Carneros Pinot Noir, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Premier Cru Chablis, Sauvignon Blanc… well, we have that one right here. Stag’s Leap Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma Old Vine Zinfandel, Cotes du Rhone Villages, Rioja Reserva, and so many more. I mean, and the list just keeps growing.
Ali: Yeah. I have actually had the Premier Cru Chablis. I just had it at a cheese fondue night before the new year. And it was really, really good. I think it was like, $7 or $8 for a bottle.
Ute: See, and that’s just crazy. It mean…
Ali: It was so good.
Ute: …I think, and don’t nail me down on this right now, but none of these bottles were more than what, like $14?
Ali: Yeah. I mean,
Ute: Is that right?
Ali: Yeah. We’re looking at our lineup of bottles that we bought for today’s episode and yeah, the port …spoiler alert, we have a Port… was $17. So yeah, I don’t think, I don’t think they were any more than that.
Ute: No, no, definitely not. I know that there was like a $13 one, a $12 one, couple of $7. So pretty decently priced.
Ute: And sometimes the label will say who the producer of this wine is. I also just read somewhere that if it’s not on the label, sometimes if you flip the bottle over on the underside it’ll show who the producer or importer is.
Ali: Oh, really?
Ute: But, I don’t know.
Ali: I don’t see it there.
Ute: So there’s something here, but that looks like it’s just a number.
Ali: Yeah, I think that’s just for the glass.
Ute: But look, it says on the label it says something…
Ali: Product of New Zealand.
Ute: That’s the Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough region.
Ali: White… yeah. This one doesn’t say producer on it.
Ute: Well, regardless, you know, even if it doesn’t say it on the bottle, you can literally look up all of this information online.
Ali: “Ti Point is a beautiful part of Northern New Zealand, a small peninsula of land extending into the glistening sea along the Matakana Coast.”
Ute: Mm-hmm. That’s how I would read it.
Ali: “This piece of paradise is the home of the vineyard that produced our very first Ti Point wines.”
I, I don’t know if it’s tie point or tea point. It’s T-I, Ti Point . “Our original vineyard site was developed as a labor of love in the 1990s on a small parcel of land owned by the Haslam family. The resulting wines were elegant, yet complex and perfectly reflected the characteristics of this special terroir.”
Ute: Well, that sounds great. Let’s, uh, let’s see if we agree.
Ali: I am a huge fan of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. It is…
Ali: Cheers. It is grapefruit through and through, and I love that in Sauv.
Ute: Mm. It smells really good.
Ali: My gosh.
Ute: It smells really good. You’re gonna hear some spitting potentially, unless I edit it out, so just know that this is going to happen.
Ali: Ooh, acid! That really hits you.
Ali: Oh, there is like a salinity to that too.
Ute: Uhhuh .
Ali: That is, just imagine you have like a very ripe pink grapefruit, and then you sprinkle some salt on the top of it.
Ute: Yeah. Look at you.
Ute: I’m so impressed.
Ali: Thank you.
Ute: And it is so acidic, honestly. And I did catch on the label that it said it has tropical fruit flavors, crisp acidity. So definitely getting that. But yeah, I like it. It’s great.
Ali: Yeah. Oh, it’s very hard to talk because of how much my mouth is watering! Oh man.
Ute: Very lovely.
Ali: So our other wines that we got for today. We also picked up a Willamette Valley Pinot Noir. Real quick, the Sauvignon Blanc is a 2022. Just to let you know the vintage on that, the, oh, this is interesting. The Willamette Valley Pinot Noir is a 2020.
Ali: That’s pretty rare.
Ute: If you are not from our region and you haven’t been keeping up with the Willamette Valley. . Um, in 2020 we had some really bad wildfires in this region, and as a matter of fact, Portland was, for some time, showing the worst air quality in the world.
Ute: Which is pretty telling. I mean, I remember I drove to work and it was just, it was like thick fog, only it was smelly and I couldn’t see anything, you know?
Ute: I had to actually pull over on the side of the road and just, yeah. And take pictures of nothing.
Ali: Yeah. We, we were doing a big backyard project at that point.
My husband and I, we were building our, well, redesigning our back patio and building a patio cover.
Ali: And we were roofing through that, and so we were wearing those big respirators.
Ali: And are trying to be outside as little as possible, but we needed to get that project done because rain was about to hit in the next few weeks and it just, we needed to get the shingles put up and everything. So yeah, we worked through it, but it was terrible.
Ali: I have a photo of us up on the roof where normally it’s just like bright blue skies behind us and the whole photo is just this weird sepia color.
Ute: Yeah. Yeah. Oh gosh.
Ute: Well, the result of these wildfires, of course, was that a lot of wineries tossed their grapes from that year. They ended up either making just one wine or no wine at all that year, purchasing grapes from other regions where the wildfires were not basically destroying the grape. So, but this one is kind of nice and light. You can see right through it.
Ali: You can already see a little bit of browning in the color.
Ute: Yes, exactly.
Ali: But the label tells us that this “offers deep red, cherry and plum aromas. A palate of dark brambly cane berries, and a touch of French oak to seamlessly balance the fruit, acid, and silky tannins.” And that is on the label as a quote from the winemaker, Sarah Cabot, female winemaker.
Ali: What? What
Ute: Do you think she’s gonna let us interview her?
Ali: Maybe Anyone out there know Sarah that can connect us?
Ute: Please do.
Ute: Otherwise, I’ll just do it myself.
[slurping] I don’t know about you. This is not just a little bit of oak. This is something… that’s basically the first thing I got.
Ali: Mm-hmm. . Yeah. I, I definitely get some of that darker, that brambly that it was, that the label was talking about.
Ali: It’s more of that like woodiness that you get in fruity flavors. I don’t know if that makes any sense to anyone else. Apparently that’s what my brain says. . Sorry, we’re not Master Sommeliers.
I mean, there’s definitely some fruit in there.
Ute: Yeah, I, I mean I…
Ali: For its cost, it’s a pretty atypical 2020 Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley, I would say.
Ute: Yeah. I don’t know. I… It’s not my favorite.
Ute: I like em just a little bit fuller bodied and I realize that with Pinot Noir you don’t always get that…
Ute: But there’s just something missing for me. I’d like it to be just a little bit richer. And a little bit more friendly to my palate, though of course I know. You know, 2020, give it another year or two and it might still improve.
Ali: It could. Smoke taint also has the tendency to develop more the longer it’s in bottle.
Ali: So it could end up developing more smoke taint.
Ali: In there. To me, the acid is a little muted. I want a little more acid in there with my Pinot Noirs.
Ali: And I feel like it just kind of falls away pretty quickly.
Ute: Yeah, it does.
Ali: Yeah. Yeah. Hmm.
Ute: So there, we judged.
Ali: Not every wine that we try will be a winner. .
Ute: No, you’re right. Not everyone is gonna be a winner. And wine is very subjective. And this is something that I’m gonna be talking about later too, about some of the, stuff we’re still gonna be talking about.
And that’s a beautiful thing. You know? That’s a good thing. You will like what you like and others are going to be going in a completely different direction. And that’s why drinking wine is so much fun.
Ute: So what do we have here?
Ali: The Malbec: we now have an Argentinian Malbec
[liquid pouring into glass]
I love that sound
And I am gonna just put this out there: this did get a James Suckling rating of 90 Points.
Ali: I have actually already had this one before. I think it’s pretty good.
Ute: I’ve never had the ’21 vintage.
Ali: I guess maybe… I don’t know what vintage I had. I just know I’ve bought the Kirkland Brand Malbec before.
Ute: Right. I’ve had the Malbec before, but I’m pretty sure it was not the ’21 vintage.
Ali: That color is absolutely like, think of that deep berry red that is the perfect red shade of nail polish.
Ute: Mm-hmm. . Yes.
Ali: And that is what we have in our glass right now.
Ute: She talks about nail polish. I’m like, ah… right.
Uff dah! That is in your face. Like really grippy tannins. I know for a fact that this one can age nicely.
Ali: Yeah, for sure.
Ute: It still has, I’m not gonna call it high acidity, but like just medium plus ish.
Ute: So I know it can age for a little while and I would like for the tannins to kind of soften just a little bit.
Ali: A little bit. They do. They have that grippiness right away on that first sip. They do fall off pretty quickly. I mean, like, I can still feel the, the grip in my mouth, but it’s not as strong.
Ute: Mm-hmm. , It, it does happen quickly, but I do definitely feel it right there, like behind my teeth, on the front of my teeth.
Ute: When I do the swishing, I can feel it on my teeth. It is literally, if you’ve never tried to see or to taste the tannins, think of sucking on a teabag like black tea. You’re sucking on that and the feeling that leaves behind that dry feeling on your tongue, on the roof of your mouth, your teeth, that’s a tannins.
And this is how you can tell if a wine has relatively high tannins or not.
Ali: I think it’s a gorgeous wine.
Ute: Yeah. Yeah.
Ute: I’ma drink the rest of that.
Ute: I mean, not today. I have to go kickboxing today. I can’t drink all of this.
Ali: Here goes the whole bottle. Gonna make kickboxing interesting.
Ute: I’m gonna go and take the wine with me in between rounds. I’m gonna be drinking my wine.
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Ute: So what’s next?
Ali: Next up is one that you actually mentioned in your Kirkland rundown. It is the Rioja Reserva.
Ute: All right.
Ali: 2018. Oh…
Ute: Yeah. Don’t pour it onto your…
Ali: Just making my own blend over here. Who doesn’t want an Argentinian Malbec blended with a Spanish Rioja?
Ute: Who knows? Maybe it’ll taste good.
Ali: There’s one way to find out…
Ali: Bonus content. So this one, according to the label, so a Rioja from Spain is typically made with Tempranillo grapes. This label tells us that it is 100% Tempranillo. Aged 30 months in oak barrels and cellared for six months in the bottle prior to release.
“This ruby colored wine has intense spicy aromas with a hint of licorice, vanilla flavors on the palate leave a pleasant, lingering and well-balanced finish.
Ute: Oh my gosh. It is spicy.
Ute: Absolutely. It’s literally the first thing that hits you. Tannins are also. The tannins are strong with this one!
Ali: Oh yeah. That really… that’s a warm one in the mouth.
Ute: Mm-hmm. Bottled by Bodegas Eguia. I don’t know how to, uh, how to pronounce it, but…
Ali: So one thing to keep in mind with terms like Reserva, Gran Reserva on labels that you see, there is meaning behind these terms. So on a Spanish wine, you may see terms like Gran Reserva, Reserva, or Creanza.
A Gran Reserva means that it’s been aged for five years before it was released. Red wines are required to have two plus years in barrel. And two years in bottle before they get released. Reserva is aged for three years. One year in barrels and six months in bottles. Those are minimums. And for the Creanza, it needs to be aged for two years with reds. That means at least one year of that needs to be in barrel. So these are different aging terms. You can get kind of an idea of how much body and the oak and spice flavors are really gonna be brought out by knowing these different terms.
Ute: And then of course you do have just a generic Rioja and that one does not have any aging requirements.
Ute: And you have the option, of course, you know, if you’re doing a generic, you are not bound by those requirements, but you can certainly age them longer, that’s…
Ali: For sure.
Ute: You know, up to the individual winemaker. So I’m enjoying this. I like the spiciness of it, and I can really, really imagine, you know, having this with my steak dinner.
Ali: Oh yeah. Yeah. There’s definitely enough acid and tannin in there that that would really cut through the fattiness of a steak.
Ali: Yeah. A nice, heavy, rich cut of meat.
Ute: Yeah, for sure.
Ali: Mm-hmm. . Yeah. Also, for anyone who doesn’t eat meat, heavy rich dishes like polenta could work with this.
Ali: Something fatty. Rich. You want that contrast between the fattiness and the, and the richness with the acidity.
Ute: Yeah, exactly.
Ali: Yeah. Let’s go on to our fifth wine, which I know Ute is going to love. We have ourselves a Washington Cabernet Sauvignon.
Ute: Yeah. I like. I do like [cork pops] that sounds so lovely.
Ali: Thank you. I try real hard.
Okay, so this one, like I said, is Washington made in… Mattawa? I’ve never seen Mattawa before?
Ute: No, me either.
Ali: All righty. This is a 2020.
[liquid pouring into glass]
And I need to not try to make my own blend again… All righty.
Ute: I love the color of this.
Ali: I’m enjoying the label. The label is just a very, like straight lines, all black and white, just very like clean, crisp. It’s called K Vine.
Ute: So, well, that will be K Brands, and that’s a Kirkland brand.
Ali: Oh. I get it.
Ute: So now I’m very curious if they are purchasing… because it says it’s from… Oh, winemaker Charles Smith.
Ali: Mm-hmm. Uh, Charles Smith’s K Vine line at Costco. The Kirkland Signature K Vine Cabernet Sauvignon from the Wahluke? Uh, Wahluke Slope Vineyard. I have no idea if I’m saying that right or not.
Ute: Well, unsurprisingly, I really enjoy this. So with this one, even though it’s clearly dry,
Ali: Yep. That one just… desert happening.
Ute: Desert happening. Okay. You know what? I have nothing else to say to that.
Okay. But I really, really enjoy this. So, you know, maybe I’m just a dry wine person, but it does have that dark fruit, almost dried fruit, to be honest.
Ali: There’s a very distinct flavor that I’m trying to figure. It’s, it’s very brambly- like, but I’ve tasted that flavor before and I’m trying to put a name to it. I’m struggling a little bit.
Ute: I mean, I feel like I’m getting a hint of cassis. But there’s like the dark berries. There’s almost like this plummy flavor to it, but more so the dry plum than like a fresh off the tree plum, you know?
Ali: Yeah. Maybe a little licorice in there too.
Ali: Is that what I’m getting?
Ute: That might be a thing.
Ali: So one source says the 2020, which is what we’re drinking. “The 2020 Kirkland Signature K Vine Cabernet Sauvignon opens with a nice combination of dark fruit and well integrated spice plus a little earthiness and mint to round things out.
It’s a good start. Taking a sip reveals a smooth, tasty Cab with good balance add in some tart juicy fruit and more well integrated spice, and this is a nice bottle of wine.”
Ute: Mm-hmm. I like it.
Ali: Yeah, I mean that first initial sip, definitely my mouth was dried out pretty quickly. But with that amount of acid, my mouth was instantly watering. So it didn’t stay dry for long.
Ute: Yeah. Yeah. No more desert .
Ali: No more desert. We’re good!
Ute: Well, so we do have one more that we wanna try and it’s a Port, but we are going to try that right after we answer some of the questions that we’ve been getting, uh, from our Facebook group in particular.
Ali: So yeah, there we have some Costco wines.
I will say I definitely bought Kirkland Brand Wines to use as classic or ” typical” representations of various varieties while practicing my blind tasting skills during WSET. So that can be a great budget friendly way for you to get a solid understanding of typical varieties.
One thing we also noticed while shopping through Costco today: most likely each store is going to carry something different, and not all varieties we talked about will necessarily be available at each store. So just a heads up there.
I guess my final take, our final take on Kirkland Wines would be: They can be great budget options. I would definitely buy again, the Sauvignon Blanc or that Chablis Premier Cru that I’ve had previously and I have a feeling I’m really gonna like the Port that we’re about to try.
I’m also not opposed to taking them to parties where I know people will enjoy the wines, but probably won’t be tasting through them to necessarily pick out the complexities.
Yeah, Tricia wants to know about Raclette cheese pairing. So recently Ute and I got, uh, got together with our husbands and we did a Raclette night.
And I brought over some wines I brought, if you head over to our Instagram or our Facebook, you’ll see a video that includes bottle shots. So I had a Sauvignon Blanc, a Vouvray, and a Beaujolais Villages. So your main goal when trying to pair something like a heavy cheese dish, like this is, like we said a little bit earlier, your food is very rich, heavy, fatty.
You want to be able to cut that with high acid, light bodied wines. So the Sauvignon Blanc, the Vouvray, which is a Chenin Blanc, both of those have higher acid, uh, and then like the sharp, crisp citrus flavors. And those are really gonna help cut through the heaviness of the cheese. If you are more of a red wine drinker and don’t want to go for the whites, that’s where, uh, Beaujolais or even a nice Pinot Noir would come in.
Ute: For sure.
Ali: You get the, the high acid but low tannins that will help cut through that fattiness, the rich. But you also get that bright red fruit flavor coming through. So… I was very surprised that Ute turned down a glass of red wine in favor of another glass of white wine.
Ute: Yes. Yes, I was as surprised as you were , but it was just really good.
Mm. And the combination, like you said, of that fatty cheese… You know, Raclette is all about the cheese. And to have a flavor that really cuts through that and balances it out. That’s, that’s amazing. And I just loved it. I really, really enjoyed drinking that.
Ali: I really enjoyed… you had pineapple chunks to, to pair with the cheese.
Ali: And I really enjoyed grilling those on top of the little Raclette heater.
Ute: Me too.
Ali: And it also went so well because that Sauvignon Blanc had like that really nice tropical citrusy flavors to it. So the pineapple was just perfect.
Ute: Yes, it was.
Ali: It was so good.
Ute: I totally agree.
So next question. My good friend Suzanne, that I’ve known for years, and, and her nickname actually that I’ve given her is SuzAnimal. I know her. I mean, I know her from way back, but we also did kickboxing together, and she started calling me the UteNator, and so I started calling her SuzAnimal.
So anyway, Suzanne asked best boxed wines question mark. Advantages and disadvantages of boxed wine, and this is a great topic to discuss.
Though I’m not about to tell you which boxed wine is the best and which is the worst. This really is a highly subjective topic and what I like may not be what you like. What I can tell you is that I gravitate towards the Bota Box wine if I do get a box wine. I like their wines generally, though, not all of them. I also don’t buy them often, but I really do like them on camping trips. It’s so convenient.
Ali: Yeah. We always have boxed wine when we go camping.
Ute: Right? Yeah.
Ali: Typically multiple boxes…
Ute: So here are some advantages for the box wine. One, it is conveniently packaged. What makes it makes it easier to store and of course, transport, like when you go on camping. It has a longer shelf life compared to bottled wines because it is packaged airtight in these plastic bags that are inside the box. And so once that comes out, it just deflates and keeps the, the whole bag airtight. So that, of course, slows down the oxidation process of the wine. Boxed wine is also generally less expensive than bottled wine, so that makes it quite budget friendly.
As for disadvantages, again these are subjective. There is a stigma around boxed wine. It has a negative reputation and is seen as a lower quality wine.
Ali: Thanks a lot, Franzia.
Ute: And here is a tidbit to take into consideration. Mass produced wine like boxed wine will often not be aged in barrel. Instead, they will often be aged in stainless steel tanks, and if oak is desired as a flavor then oftentimes they’ll actually add oak staves into the tank to impart that oak finish that you know from a lot of red wines and some whites like Chardonnay.
Another disadvantage, if you want to call it that, is that some people believe the wine tastes bad due to its packaging inside a plastic bag. And finally, you will not find as many varieties in boxed wine as you do in bottles. But I don’t necessarily consider this a terrible disadvantage. So with all that said, I would do a little bit of research if I was you and see, you know, maybe go online and see which one of them gets the most positive reviews from regular wine drinkers like yourself, like me? And then just give one a try and see if it is something that you like. You know, there’s always gonna be a risk that you’re buying a boxed wine and you don’t love it, but that risk is true for, you know, any wine.
It’s just with boxed wine, you have more. Then you just have to put it all into your spaghetti sauce.
Ali: I will add an advantage to boxed wine for anyone out there who knows what Slap a Sack is.
Ute: And now she’s looking at me with this grin and I am looking like a fool.
Ali: So if anyone’s ever been to a college tailgating situation before, you’ve probably played Slap a Sack.
Ute: Oh, lordy.
Ali: You take the bag of wine out of the box. And we may need to mark this episode as explicit. You take the bag out of the box, you stand in a circle as a group. You then hold, take turns… you hold the bag up and you have to slap that bag, as hard, as sexual… However, you, you slap, you slap the sack, you slap the bag, and the group gets to judge:
was that satisfying enough? Was that sexual enough? If it wasn’t, you drink from the bag, you go again until they say, “that’s good. Pass it on!” And you just go until the bag is gone.
Ute: You know, this may have been something fun for me to do when I was a little bit younger. I’m finding nowadays…
Ali: I mean, I haven’t played in a very long time!
Ute: So I’m finding nowadays, and you know, maybe attribute that to my, um, to my age or the fact that I had liver surgery. So I had a liver resection 10 years ago. And, um, so half my liver was taken out at that point. And I think it’s just possible that that had an effect on my ability to handle wine. And so what I’m finding for myself is that I don’t have this in between tipsiness anymore. You know, I will have a glass or two of wine, I’m fine. I go into three and four and I’m not going into tipsy. I’m going from sober to drunk.
Ute: And I feel like crap. And you know, I’m gonna not sleep well. I’m gonna have even more hot flashes than I already do, and you know, the next day is shot for me.
Ali: Yes. You don’t feel great.
Ute: At this point, I’m gonna watch people do that .
Ali: Oh yeah. I’m not gonna play that game. Maybe I’ll play like one or two rounds, you know? And then step out of the circle.
Ute: Yeah, that’s what you say. Now I see how you’re . No .
All right. Next question.
Ali: All right. Keeley asks: What classifies a wine as “fine”, and how to know which ones age well?
This, this is a really great question. The general world would say a fine wine comes from a highly regarded vineyard or variety or a producer, and that the age worthiness. Being a factor, like can the wine age, if it can, it’s typically a higher end wine because it “lasts longer”. However, some wines aren’t meant to be aged.
Some wines are very much meant to be drunk young. Like I would not age that Sauvignon Blanc that we had today.
Ute: Right. Even though it does have high acidity, which sometimes means that you can age it because that acidity is going to start coming down and will kind of make the wine smoother.
Ali: Mm-hmm. But the first, the first thing to go when you do start aging a wine is its fruit flavors.
Ute: Yes. Exactly.
Ali: And I think that’s one of the main things that, that Sauvignon Blanc has going for it, is that insane citrus, tropical fruit flavor. I wouldn’t wanna lose that. I, I want to drink Sauvginon Blanc because it is that bright citrusy, deliciousness.
Ali: I don’t wanna drink it when it’s lost all of its fruitiness and it tastes more like honey. That’s not Sauvignon Blanc to me. So…
Ute: I really like the idea of maybe doing an episode that goes dives deeper into the topic of aging wine because there’s so much to be said about aging and fine wine.
Ali: Right, right. Another example is Beaujolais. I am a really big fan of Beaujolais and I know that some people aren’t, but I think it’s fantastic. And I’m going to get excited for and savor the experience of getting my hands on, for example, a Beaujolais Nouveau. Especially if I can get my hands on it right around that third Thursday of November, which is when it’s released.
Ali: A Beaujolais Nouveau means a new Beaujolais. It is meant to be drunk young. It is meant to be drunk right away. In fact, you cannot, if you, let’s say for the 2022 vintage. The 2022 Beaujolais Nouveaus were released the third Thursday of November in 2022. And a 2022 Beaujolais Nouveau cannot continue to be sold after August 31st of this year, 2023. That’s just it. Those, I think, are high quality wines, personally. But they’re not meant to be aged. Some people don’t think Gamay is that great of a variety.
So all of that to say, the term “fine wine” is very subjective.
Ute: Yes, I agree.
Ali: I believe the best wine for everyone is the wine that they love the most. That brings you the most joy as you drink it. So, and also I will be going a little deeper on the concept of a fine wine on our blog. So head over there in the next couple of weeks to see a little more in-depth conversation about that.
Ute: Yeah, and if you’re following us on Instagram, we’ll always update the Instagram account about when a new blog post is coming up.
The same is true for if you’re in our VIP group on Facebook. Again, look in the show notes for that.
So Keeley also asks, does screw top make a difference in aging? And that is another great question. So thank you so much, Keely. We love you. I should start by saying that aging a wine is done so it can develop a more complex flavor profile.
Acidity will go down, more tertiary flavors can develop. Fruity flavors can soften, so can tannins the longer you age your wine. Now, initially the screw cap was a great airtight alternative to the regular cork. This airtight seal protects the wine from oxygen and other elements that can spoil the wine.
And corks are porous, so they always let in a small amount of air, even if you lie it down on its side to age. Which by the way, you should always do. More recently, however, some winemakers have decided to use screw caps that were actually designed to let some air enter the bottle. This, of course, can promote aging and allow the wine to develop those complex flavors and aromas.
These screw caps are called breathing screw caps. Isn’t that so fun?
Ali: I love it.
Ute: I know. I love how advances are continuously made in wine production. You know, you are never done learning.
Ali: Oh, never. Yeah.
Ute: So if you find yourself in a winery and you’re served a wine with a screw cap, maybe just ask if the screw cap is airtight or a breathing screw cap, who knows? You may just astonish them with your great knowledge about this topic.
Ali: I really enjoy going into tasting rooms and then asking some niche little question.
Ali: And they’re like, “oh, oh, okay. I see you in a different light. Yes. You wanna know more about that .”
Ute: I know, I I love that.
Ali: Yeah. It’s great. . Well,
Ali: Those are our questions for now. So,
Ute: Port, Port Port!
Ali: I think we’re onto…
[cork popping out of bottle]
Ali: The Port! I can’t stop smelling this.
Ute: I just, I mean, it’s Port!
Ali: It’s, oh my gosh, I’m so excited. So if you listen to our last episode of GenXer and Millennial, we did discuss Port. I believe that one… We drank a Tawny Port too, right?
Ute: Yes. It was a Tawny, yes.
Ali: This is also a Tawny Port and finish pouring here so I can actually read the label that I’m covering up.
Let’s see here. It is a 10 year old Tawny port, and this is an “opulent Tawny Porto full of delicious flavors of nuts, caramel and dried fruit with enticing notes of ripe oranges. It’s an excellent dessert wine, and a satisfying way to finish a meal” at a mere 20% alcohol!
Ute: Ehh…, yeah,
Ali: Yeah. All righty.
Ute: Well, cheers to that.
Mm. I noticed this is a good pour that you gave me there.
Ali: You’re welcome.
Ali: Yeah, that one’s just going straight down the hatch.
Ute: Yeah. For sure.
Ali: That one is hot.
Ute: Yes, that is…
Ute: I love this.
Ali: It’s delicious. You can definitely feel that alcohol burn.
Ute: But yes, it is nutty.
Ali: Mm mm-hmm.
Ute: And as a matter of fact, the longer I let it linger, the more kind of in the back of my mouth I’m getting a little bit walnutty.
Ali: Mm. Yeah.
Ute: Yeah. Walnutty for sure.
Ali: Definitely raisins. I mean…
Ute: Raisins, yes. Always.
Ali: Mm-hmm. So like I mentioned, this is a 10 year old tawny port, but this is not a Vintage Port, meaning that there is no just one year worth of grapes in this bottle. For most Ports, you’re going to see something like 10 year, 20 year, 30 year Port.
Ali: You’re not typically going to see a vintage on there unless it is a Vintage Tawny port. But that means you’re seeing this 10 years and you would say, “well, doesn’t that mean it was 2013?” No, it means that that’s the average age of the Port. So Tawny Ports are made via blending, and so the base wines used to blend that Port the average age of those base wines is 10 years. Or 20 years or 30 years.
Ali: Depending on that on that number on the bottle.
Ali: So keep that in mind when you are buying your ports: “10 year” indicates the average age, not the actual vintage. So it is the average age of those base wines. I thought about this during class quite a bit.
I kind of still wanna know when it was bottled. Because I want to know how long it’s been in that bottle because the aging takes place in barrels. There’s a whole like pyramid system that happens and you just keep blending. The younger Port is up on top and the oldest Port is down on the bottom.
And you just keep blending down. So let’s say it’s a three-tier pyramid, you pull out of one barrel on the bottom, you pull a third of that barrel out, you drain out that, that wine to bottle. So then you pull a third of the wine out of the middle barrel and put it into the bottom barrel. So then you pull a third of the top barrel and put it into the middle barrel, and then you add a, you fill to the top that very top barrel of your brand new wine.
And that is how you’re blending and aging in. So, uh, you can, uh, take a look at some bottles, I guess. Some of them do say it. I have a few bottles at home that definitely don’t say what year they were bottled. So, you know, keep that in mind when you are shopping for your Port, if it is, if it’s really important to you to know or how long that wine has been sitting in bottle.
Ute: Yeah, yeah.
Ali: All righty. Well, whew.
Ute: Well this was exciting.
Ute: We, we have what?
[ sees how long we’ve been recording]
Ali: Oh my gosh!
Ute: Okay, so there will be some editing then.
Ali: So have fun editing .
Ute: Yeah. Thank you.
Ali: We have reached the end of another episode.
Ute: Yes. Once again.
Ali: Yes. So let us know what you think of this style of episode. It was definitely a lot less structured than our normal episodes.
Maybe we’ll pepper these in every once in a while. If y’all think this is fun or useful, we’ll certainly continue to answer questions. No matter what, whether it’s in this format or just adding them onto the end of episodes. Whatever… Whatever you guys are feeling, you know! We enjoy making these episodes, but we also wanna make sure you enjoy listening to them.
Ali: So please, please, please send us that feedback. Also make sure to check out our show notes for the transcript and sources used for today. Uh, we’ll also include the list of bottles that we purchased from Costco with their prices. There’s also a topic request form there and on our website. So if you have a topic, a question, a wine, a woman in wine that you think we should discuss in future episodes, let us know.
Speaking of our website, as I mentioned previously, we are hoping to start adding more posts that are not just our blog transcripts. We want to get a little more in depth on questions that our listeners and followers are asking. Maybe put out our thoughts on current events in the wine industry.
Who knows? The world is our oyster.
Ute: Yes, it is.
Ali: So make sure you are checking out over there for any new updates. Subscribe to our blog so that you are not missing. I think you can do that on WordPress, uh, so that you’re not missing any of the new posts. And we’ll also be posting to our social feeds whenever we do have some new posts and updates over there.
Ute: For, sure.
Ute: Also, please do share us with your friends and family. Anybody that you think might be interested in what we have to say here. Head over to our socials where you can find more content from us between episodes, including some fun behind the scenes photos. Did we do photos?
Ali: I, uh, I took at least one photo.
Ute: Well, at Costco. Yes, that’s true. And videos, of course, of us shopping at Costco for today’s wine, we are on Instagram: thru underscore, so that’s T H R U underscore the grape wine. And of course, in our private Facebook group, you have to be a woman.
Ali: To join the Facebook group.
Ute: Yes. Exactly. Yes. I mean, you can listen here and, and I, I don’t care who you are on here.
Ali: And follow us on Instagram.
Ute: But do follow us on Instagram.
Join us. Let us know what wines you’re enjoying at the moment or if you have any questions or recommendations for us. We love to hear from you.
And with all that said, all we have left to say is of course,
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