My Favorite Wine Tale (Part 1)

My Favorite Wine Tale (Part 1)
One of my most favorite wine tales, if not my favorite, is a story that goes back 5-6 years ago. It has a very strong wine connection; however, it is more about life’s travels and paths and where it can take you as well as the importance of making the most of every opportunity. The good news is wine and food tend to afford those type opportunities.
This tale starts in Pullyap, Washington at a retail food distributor trade show. The show was a two day show with a “sister” distributor location having a similar show the following week in Southern CA. The show floor was packed with exhibitors all ready to pitch their wares and products to the visiting retailers. The only problem was that, for whatever reason, the retailers essentially never showed up. Those that did were faced with a large number of assertive sales people and certainly had their pick of who to visit (or not). 
As a result of this by day 2, vendors in order to maintain their sanity, began visiting other vendors. Some visits out of interest, some for entertainment and some for networking. I happened to be at my booth when a couple stopped in front of me and became very intrigued in the VineyardFresh I had on display and started asking me a lot of questions. 
I found out they were in the seafood business and had some very interesting product themselves. We were enjoying the chat and I noted I was heading to the next show the following week in Southern California with an intermediate visit to Northern California (to visit some wineries and save money on coast to coast travel), when the wife picked up her cell phone and started dialing people.
She was calling people where it was evident they were notable wineries (i.e Inglenook, Coppola) and I could hear her explaining “we just met this nice guy who has a very interesting product, would you be able to see him?”. I looked at her husband and he just shrugged his shoulders and said “she has some Napa connections”. 

I was soon to find out that “she” was actually one of the great grandchildren of George and Fernande Latour, the founders of Beaulieu Vineyards (often better known or called by BV for short). Imagine my surprise when, such a casual, and by chance, encounter turned in to a wine connection of the highest degree and a history to match. 
When Prohibition in the United States began in 1920, most wineries in the country were forced out of operation. However, Beaulieu obtained a contract to supply sacramental wine to churches nationwide .The demand for such wine increased dramatically during the years of Prohibition and the winery repeatedly expanded. By the 1940s, Beaulieu wines were served at all major White House functions. 
I made the trip through Northern California and made some additional great contacts, thanks to the introductions afforded. The thread of experience continued and/or continues on.  Stay tuned for the rest of the story in the next Gary’s Gulps (Wine Tale Part 2) 

Ever have a desire to share a fun or interesting, wine experience or story? We all have our own wine tales.  I am fortunate to be able to do so thanks to Gary’s Gulps, but I’d more than welcome being able to share one of yours sometime. Simply drop me a note with your fun tale at my email address noted below.   
Gary Gottfried is a wine preservation specialist who consults on helping consumers enjoy and businesses sell more wine. He also consults more broadly to the food and wine industry through his Crosslink Marketing business.  Contact Gary at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Oh Yes You Can Can

Oh Yes You Can Can 

Everyone knows that real wine is meant to be packaged in a glass bottle with a cork closure. Any other package or closure is the mark of inferiority. Or is it? The Stelvin closure, aka screw cap, was first commissioned by a French company in 1964. And while providing many benefits with regards to wine preservation and guarding against cork taint, the screw cap struggles for respectability even after 50 years. Even Penfold’s, a leader in the screw cap movement, will not be putting its flagship Grange under screw cap any time soon. Unfortunately, more often than not, the screw cap is still associated with cheap, pedestrian swill. So, it’s no wonder that wine in a can fights an even more difficult, uphill battle. After all, most people associate the can as a vessel for cheap beer. And while more craft brewers than ever before are canning beer, there is still some pushback from the average consumer. But the times, they are a changing. And as the warmer weather approaches I invite you to consider this versatile option.



The Pros
Wine in a can offers many benefits. More ecological than glass, light weight, unbreakable and easy to transport, taking your wine along on a camping trip, tailgating, to the beach or to a pool party has never been easier. Since the can is tightly sealed and no light gets in, the wine will last longer.

The Cons
Having tried drinking the wine straight from the can, then pouring it into a plastic cup, I discovered it tastes better in the cup and even better in a glass. Since the can is tightly sealed and no light gets in this can present a problem if the wine is kept too long. It runs the risk of reduction which produces an unpleasant funky smell. While this can be a bit off putting the smell does dissipate after a while and the wine remains safe to drink.

Wine Picks
Underwood Pinot Noir and Rosé
Union Wine Company, Oregon, has been canning Underwood wines for a few years. The wines also come in bottle, which allowed for a taste test. When poured into a wine glass and tasted side by side both the nose and palate are identical.

Lila Wines
The wines are negociant wines sourced from Italy and France. The rosé, Pinot Grigio and bubbly are dry, crisp, refreshing wines with flavors true to their region of origin.

Francis Ford Coppola Sofia Mini 4 pack Blanc de Blancs
If you like your wine on the sweeter side this is the choice for you. The packaging has the added cuteness factor of being slim, pink cans complete with a sippy straw.

Whether the wine glass is half full or half empty, always fill it with quality wine. Happy Sipping, Yolanda Albergottie, Wine Education Coordinator, Chuck’s Fines Wines, Chagrin Falls, Ohio.
Follow us on twitter @chucksfinewines.

Rosés Are Dry My Love

Rosés Are Dry My Love

After being over shadowed by his younger albeit sweeter, American stepsister Blush, Rosé has finally come into his rightful place on the American palate. Continuing to trend into 2018, look for more shades of pink wine this spring as the fresh vintage arrives. Long beloved by sommeliers for its ease to pair with most any dish, but often only enjoyed in the summer months, expect to see Rosés on wine lists and bottle shop shelves all year round. Its color, which ranges from the palest of pinks to the deepest magentas, comes from the skin of red grapes. Feeling adventurous? Try some new offerings of Rosés made from Merlot or even Zinfandel (not to be confused with that sweet, stepsister Blush aka White Zinfandel). Enjoyed as easily with Easter ham as with barbeque ribs, if you haven’t already tried this dry, crisp, flavorful, refreshing wine…what are you waiting for?

Food Pairings
Light Rosés from Provence or Côtes du Rhone pair well with most semi-soft cheeses like Gruyere and Havarti as well as foods like light pasta dishes, salads and rich, spicy foods think Indian or Thai. Rich full bodied Rosés from Spain or Napa are great matches for Goat cheese or semi-hard cheese like gouda and rich saucy barbeque ribs, chicken or grilled portabella.

What grape am I? I’m one of the 13 approved grapes of Chateauneuf de Pape. I am grown and used to make rich, robust, red wines in France, California, Washington State and in Spain where I go by the name Garnacha. I am a very popular grape used for making Rosés in the Côtes du Rhone.

Follow us on twitter @chucksfinewines. Tweet your answer and #alwaysatchucks to be entered into a drawing for a $10 gift certificate. The winner answer will be randomly selected and notified via twitter by March 31, 2018. Whether the wine glass is half full or half empty, always fill it with quality wine. Happy Sipping, Yolanda Albergottie, Wine Education Coordinator, Chuck’s Fines Wines, Chagrin Falls, Ohio.

Winter? More like Wineter!

Winter keeps “hanging in there” here in Northeast Ohio, however for those of us in the wine industry, we really like to consider it Wineter. A great time to stay up on the latest and greatest things that are “wine” (or wine related) before the weather warms up and we continue to enjoy wine, but have more opportunity think warm and be out of doors or even spring cleaning.

Having just returned from the International Housewares Show in Chicago, there were a couple of things that I thought worth commenting on from different vantage points I observed surrounding wine.

1.Wine Buffs – I first mentioned these in my December article, however, I thought well worth mentioning again especially given the evident enhanced interest I observed from retailers who were scouring for products.

A custom blended microfiber towel for those who appreciate spotless glasses and loves wineries. Maps that show all local wineries. Currently Winebuff’s are made for France, Italy, Spain, Australia and a Napa/Sonoma combination (2 sided).

Winebuff’s are an awesome towel for anything that needs polishing in the kitchen and also great for computer screens and reading glasses as well. I always carry one in my backpack.

Learn more HERE


2.Coravin 11 – Worth knowing about, although at $999 I have to say you need to look at it and be the judge. It was fun to watch it being explained and to be able to observe the functionalities (i.e. Bluetooth connection with pairing info and tracking for wines in your cellar), however, I felt it was like my being able to test drive a Maserati. Interested, but what if I damage it somehow? A lot of “nice to haves”. This will have its place and is meant for a certain market … unfortunately that market is not me. For preservation needs, you already have quality options.


Learn more HERE.


3.Wine Sitter – this was in the new innovative section of the show and refers to itself as a Stemware Stabilizer (keeps stem glassware from tipping over). Attractive piece. Not sure how much consumer need there is, but a conversation piece and at a planned retail price of $29.95 for two (not yet out), it is affordable as a wine gift item. Just be sure you give it to someone with stemware because it will not work with stemless.

Learn more HERE

There were plenty of other wine related products being shown, especially full line glassware and variations of current type products (i.e. bottle stoppers, corkscrews), but this time around, I did not see or hear of more in the way of innovations relating to wine.
If you know or hear of anything new that you think everyone should be aware of, please feel free to email me at my email below. Questions always welcomed as well.

Gary Gottfried is a wine preservation specialist who consults on helping consumers enjoy and businesses sell more wine. He consults to the food and wine industry. Contact Gary at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

MARCH to a Different Drummer…

March to a Different Drummer…

It is February and Valentines Day has come and gone, however, that does not mean you can’t still celebrate. There’s nothing like coming up with a plan that the two of you (or you alone or you with others) cannot take advantage of to continue to enjoy wine. Part of the fun I always attempt to stress is in being adventuresome and creative, which in its own right, makes it adventuresome.

Being a short month, February is almost gone and making us think ahead to March (which also means we can start thinking ahead to spring. Here’s some creative thoughts to tie in your wine experience to March before we start thinking truly spring.
Wine is fun …: and so are you:

1. March Wines is a product of Maura's (Christoffers) and Charley's (Johnson) winemaking passion for making Dry California Riesling and other food friendly, high acid wines. Why not let the month of March be the time to try some. Hurry and buy a bottle or two ….they have a limited assortment and supply and it’s a rose which should set up well as we transition to spring.

Living in Napa Valley sourcing fruit from all over California, finding small niche producers with a unique story. Riesling is Maura’s favorite varietal and can convince even the biggest Cabernet Drinker to agree. Charley is a huge Rose lover, because men can love pink wine too.

Learn a little more from these two special winemakers HERE.

2. Or how about trying Le Marche wines of Italy at another version on the theme. May be a variety that you can sample and compare. As they say:

Le Marche produces a large variety of wines including 13 varieties of wine carrying the D.O.C. (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) label. Many of these wines are little known outside of Italy but visitors to the region have a pleasant surprise when they try the local wine produced by many small aziendas and cantinas.


3. Looking to travel in March and take in some great wines at the same time. If any of these locations appeal to you, consider it and enjoy the “Great Wines of Italy” returning for a four-city tour. All but the first are pretty well guaranteed to have a hint of warmer weather.
The tour is kicking off in New York at the IAC Building (March 6), before heading to Miami’s EAST (March 7), Beverly Hills’ The Montage (March 9) and San Francisco´s Presidio Golden Gate Club (March 11). For more info click HERE

This is what makes wine an interest, a challenge, and so much fun. There are many creative ways to learn. This should help expand the thoughts. Have your ideas for April? Let me know what they are. I’d love to share them.

Gary Gottfried is a wine preservation specialist who consults on helping consumers enjoy and businesses sell more wine. He consults to the food and wine industry. Contact Gary at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.