Another wineweek written from Stockholm. It has been a while since we have been on any wineventures. It was a conscious decision. To stay more home I mean. We wanted to have more time to wind down. To be honest, traveling is quite tiring. Fun, of course, but it drains energy. So this spring you will get much more stories from our lovely home city. And probably you will also get a lot of stories from Magnusson, our cellar. Since we paid a small fortune for the membership, we are making use of the members-bar and Friday champagne-events. I recall us reasoning something like: “we will not go out to eat that often if we can use the Magnusson members-bar, so we will actually save money”. Right! Anyway, the coming week we will hit the road again as London is calling! Continue reading “Wineweek 70: March Maddness”
Remember the recent post about the perfect wine-glass? Well now we finally ordered the Zalto glasses I have been ranting about for so long. They arrived yesterday, hand delivered, from Stockwine. Merry Christmas to me (us)! Continue reading “Glasperfection: Christmas Present From Me to Me”
It has been a long search, the search for the perfect champagne glass. Our current selection of Iittala, Orrefors and random collectibles (like Cavatast glasses) are nice, but not really optimal from a tasting perspective. There was a time when I thought flutes were cool… Continue reading “The Perfect Glass”
Every year we have been together, M has made me a Christmas calendar. Usually it has been small presents: chocolates, candles and knickknacks. Nothing expensive, just something cute or practical. Last year, however, I was in for a big surprise. M had made me a wine-calendar. How awesome is that!
As the wine-calendar is one of my favorite things ever, I thought I would share the idea with you on how to make one for a wine-loving partner, friend or just yourself. There is nothing better than opening a wine-surprise first thing in the morning while waiting for Christmas.
One of the things I love about working with wine is the people you meet in the process. Growers, distributors and shop-owners, all share the same passion and love talking about it. With wine ter is always more to learn, so every conversation gives something. Some people you of course do not really connect with. However, sometimes it just clicks and you end up making lifetime friends. Continue reading “Cava and Friends in Berlin”
I love a good show. That is why I love the concept of sabering a bottle of champagne (or any bubbly for that matter) instead of just popping open a cork. It is not a convenient practice, but it is an entertaining one. This is why I used M’s birthday as a clever excuse to buy one (for him of course).
The art of sabering a champagne bottle has it’s roots in Napoleons France. It is a practice developed by the French army to celebrate their many wins and to console the many losses. Napoleon is known to have said ‘Champagne! in victory one deserves it and in defeat one needs it’. I agree with those words, even if I don’t in general agree with Napoleon.
The sabering of the bottle happens by sliding the dull side of the sword along the neck and the seam of the bottle. With adequate pressure applied to the crossing of the seam and the lip of the bottle (the top of the neck), the neck pops off together with the cork. In a clean break, there is little loss of champagne, but one should always check the first glass poured for glass residue. This is a messy practice, and you can expect a few failures along the way (due to poor technique or poor quality of glass). At least you can expect to be mopping the floor even after a perfect swing. But when you get the hang of the technique, it is relatively easy to put on a good show.
I have only tried sabrage a few times. It has been a success from the start, but just to make sure, I only sabered some cheap bottles. And even so, just the loss of champagne would make me hesitate using a saber on something really nice. I think it might have been dumb luck, so I will not get too smug about it. However, I can tell you it is fun. Maybe it is the exhilaration of the risk of breaking the bottle or the loud pop from when the cork flies off, but it is a wonderful feeling when you can claim victory.
I selected this saber from Georg Jensen as I loved the simple, yet elegant design. The saber is light in the hand, but sturdy. It promises a good grip and that is what you need when you set out to give a firm blow on the lip of the bottle. It was not too pricey either, around 1200 SEK (130 EUR) which was less than other sabers on the market. I ordered this from the Georg Jensen webshop, who arranged the beautiful wrapping and home delivery. Unfortunately the experience was not all good as UPS screwed up the delivery with a week making me miss M’s birthday. Well, a present is a present, even if it comes late. M (or maybe me) is very excited about it and cant wait to start the exercises. Lets see how many laps we have left after the first week.
Finally Friday! I am sitting here enjoying a glass of bubbly and enjoying the thought of sleeping late tomorrow. I have had a bit of a writers block lately, or perhaps it has been that I have been busy with other things, but posting has become slightly less frequent. I am not sure if that is a bad thing and as with wine I will try to concentrate more on quality (of the writing) rather than quantity. Today, I thought about introducing one of my favorite accessories, a collection box for sparkling wine metal caps.
This is a gift from a dear friend. He brought it back from Champagne last summer. It is a leather box with around six or seven layers of space for collecting the metal caps from sparkling wine bottles. I love it as it is like a box of fine memories. I wish I had some more patience to always mark the caps with a date (and perhaps place) as it is quite fun gazing at the pretty collectibles and reminiscing the experience of the wines.
We started our collection last summer (2014) and in the picture above you can see how we have progressed. The champagne caps are on the top with the cava and other following below. Not much space any more, but luckily there are several layers one can fill. The pace will of course slow down over time as we do not collect all the caps from bottles we open. We will not collect doubles just for the sake of it.
This was a gift, so I do not really know where to find such a box, but this one is from Champagne. Nor do I have any idea what it cost, however I can’t imagine it is something outrageous. After a bit of googling I can see that similar boxes or books are available from around 20-50 Euros. So a fun gift for a lover of sparkling wine (or yourself). I am at least excited every time I fill a new compartment, not to mention how psyched I will be to finish a whole layer. Must drink more to achieve my goal!
I have earlier mentioned some of my fave wine-accessories, like the Coravin. But one has clearly not received the praise in this blog that it deserves. I received my first Wineboy from my friend Niina as a house-warming gift. I had just moved to London and was unpacking my things as she presented her gift. It was small and elegant and perfect for someone like me who does not mind popping open a bottle every now and then but would not necessarily want to finish it the same day. The Wineboy is a temporary cork to salvage your bubbly after it has been opened.
Since my first encounter with the Wineboy, I have stocked up with several similar corks, the silicone Pulltex being a new pet. A temporary cork is not (nearly) as preserving as the Coravin, but you can’t use that on a bubbly anyway. A Wineboy will at least preserve the wine for consumption the next day, and the Pulltex is said to keep your sparkling fresh and bubbly longer (up to five days – I am doubting it a bit but will try it). One day is usually enough for me, as it is often on Fridays when we pop open a bottle to consume over the weekend. However I am of course intrigued to test if the Pulltex can pull off something better.
This is a rather cheap accessory to have around the kitchen, so just in case I have seven. You never know when you feel like opening seven bottles at a time. Just joking, we use them for tastings as well. A pack containing two Pulltex corks costs around 139 SEK in the local monopoly shop and the Wineboy to my recollection was 10 EUR. So this insurance for bubbles is a cheap purchase. Googling a bit I can see that Pulltex do other very cool wine accessories as well, so perhaps I need to get better acquainted with the selection.
It is late Sunday evening and I feel like I need a holiday. It was a hectic week with a lot of wine-action and the week of our big tasting. You know this happy feeling when you have completed a marathon, well that’s how I feel right now, exhausted and happy (even though I have never run a marathon so I wouldn’t perhaps know). Thank God, I can go to the office tomorrow to rest (just joking). We have a nice trip coming up, and even though our trips are seldom only holidays, this one will be relaxing. On Friday, me and M head of to Shanghai for five days, travelling comfortably in business class. No, we could not afford to buy such expensive tickets, but we used well earned airline points to score the comfy seats both on the way there and back. I am even looking forward to the flight this time and will be reporting what kind of wines they serve when to the left of the airplane entrance.
Back to the big tasting. As we took in 17 new wines from Spain and Portugal to our selection we wanted to give people the chance to come and sample them. Many of our customers know us and our taste, but it requires a special kind of trust (and too much money) to buy a box blind even though you have like minded wine people making the recommendation. We were also very curious about the reception of our new wines. We sell only products that we like ourselves (as then we can drink the rest of our stock if no one buys it), but you never know exactly what is to other peoples liking. So we invited around 30-50 of our friends and customers to a free open house event around the area where we live in.
We rented a small space with a kitchen and a bathroom in a residential building close by and turned it into a tasting room. Nothing fancy but we had a counter and tables where people could sit and make notes. We had procured some small spit buckets, a champagne cooler fitting 4-5 bottles and stoppers (temporary corks); printed out some price lists and information sheets and M had spent the week making ice. We had also bought some more tasting glasses from Ikea (as starting entrepreneurs we cannot afford Riedels), so we were all geared up for the event. All the setting up took so much time though that we had to compromise a little bit on the look of things and did not have that much time to really think of structure. So there are a few things we will most probably do differently the next time, like having some note-sheets so people remember which wines they have tasted and what is next on the line. Our good memories served us well, but the bigger these events get, the more difficult it is to stay on track.
The event was a huge success. We had over 30 visitors during the day and already sold out of some of the wines. I am not sure if this tells more about the success of the event or our poor skills for estimating what will actually sell, as the rose wine from Quinta do Saes was out of stock half way through the day. All in all our selection was well received and we actually sold quite a lot already at the event. We still have a few weeks to go before the wines are shipped, so this might be our most successful month yet (that’s probably good as our stock levels increased a bit with all the new suppliers).
This week I have also tried out a new camera. Actually an old camera, our Nikon D40, but I seldom use it due to its size. The pictures you see in this post are the trial pictures I have been taking during our evening walks. It is a green and light time of the year, so great for taking photos. I am an amateur with a big A and do not see myself putting much more effort into Photoshop, but I do like the depth that a real camera gives t the pictures. Let’s see what comes out of this. I also acquired a tripod and some reflectors and with those I am hoping to improve the pictures I take of wine. Personally I like nice photos in a blog, but M says it disturbs the readability. I don’t know, what do you think?
That was it for this weeks Sunday chat. New week will be hard hard work and then on Friday a well earned full night sleep on the plain to Shanghai. We also have a fridge full of opened bottles from the tasting, so I am 99.9% sure there will also be wine.
Like weddings? And other big events? Me too! However, I seldom find the wines served very interesting. It is not easy arranging quality drinks for a hundred people without it being heavy on the wallet. A few weeks back, we attended a wedding in Finland that was a pleasant exception. I kind of knew it would be as the couple are as winecurious as me (and the groom revealed what would be served as aperitif even before the date was set). Actually, their big day did not only have a serving of good wine, the whole event was organized to reflect the couples interest in the topic. I really loved these details and thought it would be nice to share them with you (with the couples consent of course). So here are a few tips on how to “wine-up” you event.
1. Accessories: The theme was reflected already at the church as small bottles of bubbles were handed out to greet the newlyweds exciting the building. The small champagne bottle soap bubbles were elegant and cute and I was able to snatch one home. The space also had some nice wine-details, like the place-card holders and wine bottles candlesticks.
2. Games: The couple was intent on serving good and interesting wine on their big day, but that kind of bottles come with a price. However, they have a very nice wine cellar that they decided to utilize for the occasion. As there were no wines in the cellar reaching the number of bottles required to serve everyone, they picked different bottles and held a wine-quiz. The winning group (of around 6 people) could go to the table and pick a bottle first, the second could go second and so on. The quiz was more about the couples wine-adventures than actual wine-knowledge, so one didn’t need to be an oenologist to win (luckily we had one in our group though as it came handy in some of the questions regarding the couples cellar). A wonderful and fun game with a prize I really wanted to win. We picked a great 2003 shiraz from Kay Brothers. It was a real treat with the lamb main course.
3. Beverages. For beverages, the couple invested in a great aperitif (and of course the wine game). They had bought magnum bottles of Palmer & Co Vintage (2002) Champagne. A magnum is often a better buy than a regular 0,75l bottle and for a big event, it makes sense to open some. Other wines had been selected by arranging wine-tasting among friends before the big day and by ordering larger quantities online. Finland is an expensive country when it comes to alcohol, so utilizing the free movement of goods within the EU, many nice wines are found cheaper in eg Germany and France. One must be aware of the customs rules though, so read up before you make your order. A good tip is also to take a cruise on the boats between Finland and Sweden. Many nicer wines can be found on the boat tax free. Bring friends though, as the maximum amount of alcohol that one can bring to land is 4l (5 bottles each).
A cozy atmosphere, wonderful wines and great friends: a memorable day indeed. We are already married, but if we ever arrange a big event, this is what I want our day to look like. And even before that, I am snatching the idea of the place-card holders.