Current Wine Favs & Decoding A Wine Label

 

With language barriers, hundreds of wine varietals, and various vineyards within a wine region, reading a wine label can be difficult. Typically, a wine bottle will have one specific focal point that tells you a little bit about what you are going to drink. To make things simpler, let’s break down the three basic categories on how to understand and skim a wine label so that you are more prepared for your next wine-shopping spree. A wine bottle will usually have one of the three following aspects on the label…

(1)  Wine type or varietal

(2)  Region

(3)  Wine name

Currently, Meza has some amazing wines on our glass pour list that can help you with wine label presentation. I have included the pictures of the wines and their tasting notes so that the next time you stop into Meza you are more than prepared to have a glass.

(1)  Allamand Malbec

 

As you can see by the label, this wine specifies that it is a Malbec, which falls under category one.

What makes this wine so amazing are the notes of plum and blackberry and hints of smoke. This wine has little to no tannins but has an intriguing finish that will make you wishing you had more.  

(2)  Roux Pere & Fils (Chardonnay)

 

This wine label falls under category two, meaning that the wine label specifies what region it originated. Macon-Villages is an appellation from southern Burgundy (France).

Currently, this wine is one of my favorite whites that we have at the shop. Although you would not know this from looking at the label, the grape is Chardonnay. This Chardonnay has notes of lemon zest with a smooth, fuller finish. Since this Chardonnay is from France, the wine is not oaky but has a slight buttery finish.

(3)  Baci Dolci

 

Baci Dolci, which means Sweet Kiss, is the name of the wine (category three).

If you like sweet, refreshing red wines, this will be the perfect wine for you. This wine has a bit of effervescence, which makes it light and enjoyable. The wine has hints of raspberry and lighter red fruits, with a nose of rose pedals. If you are looking for something different and on the lighter side, I would definitely suggest trying this sweet red.

                        Cheers!!

                        Hannah Clark

Wine Products Every Wine Lover Should Own

I will admit it, I am a huge wine-o and there are just some wine products that I just could not go without. Once you try these products, you will know why...

Wine stain remover

I cannot express this enough, wine stain remover will save you from being yelled at by your mom because you just spilled red wine on her carpet. I have spilled wine on myself, on the comforter of my bed, on my friends white jeans, and multiple carpets and somehow wine stain remover has gotten out the toughest of stains. I carry a wine stain remover pen wherever I go and I make sure to keep a spray bottle of remover in my house at all times. Most removers are not expensive and come in handy when you least expect a spill. 

Two-staged wine opener

I feel like this goes without saying, but as a general announcement, everyone who drinks wine or has a friend who enjoys the occasional glass should have a two-staged corkscrew somewhere in their household. I say two-staged because it is much easier to open a bottle than with a single stage opener.  Have you ever cracked a cork? Say goodbye to the cracked cork problem and get a two stage opener. These wine openers are also very easy to throw into your purse or back pocket. Now, you will never be caught in the unfortunate situation where you have no way of opening your wine. There is nothing worse than having a bottle of wine and no wine opener (#firstworldproblems).

Please, everyone, get a two-staged wine opener.

 

Red and white wine glass

As a brief overview, for those who may not know, red wine glasses have a larger bowl than white wine glasses. The larger glass allows for the red wine to properly breathe and create stronger aromas. On the contrary, a white wine does not need to breathe as much and is not as poignant, which is why a smaller, slightly skinnier glass is suitable. Clearly, both of these glasses are a necessity when it comes to the art of wine drinking so be sure to drink up in the proper wine glasses. The experience will be that much better!

 

- A wine preserver (or as I call them "wine saviors") 

 Before I get into why this is a necessity, there are two main types of wine preservers:

1.       A vacuum pump with a stopper

2.       Argon gas (which is what Meza uses)

I have used both and have found both to be just as effective. 

Now I can typically finish a bottle the night that I open it (you know, with "help"), but on some (rare) occasions I have opened a bottle and do not feel the need for more than one glass. In this situation it really helps to have a wine preserver. The preserver helps keep the wine flavorful for longer so that I do not have to waste any wine (which is highly frowned upon). 

As a general note, red and full-bodied white wine can only stay good for the next 3-5 days while corked. Eventually, these wines will become oxidized and the flavor of the wine will begin to diminish. If you don't want to be sad and left with only oxidized wine I suggest you take my advice, you will not regret it. 

 -A Wine Rack

If you do not have a wine rack, then I am just not quite sure where you are storing your wine. Yes, you could just store your wine on any counter, but if you are anything like me, a counter is fair game for things being knocked over and spilled because you are as clumsy as can be. Storing your wine horizontally also has its benefits for the cork. While storing your wine, it is best to keep the cork a little wet so that drying does not become a problem. A dried cork can pose problems for the taste and longevity of the wine. If you have no idea as where to place your wine rack, I would suggest in a dark cool spot, such as your basement. This ensures that the wine will last longer, because there is no chance of UV or heat damage and your red wines will be at the perfect temperature. Overall, a wine rack ensures that your wine is stored safely and properly, while making it a classy addition to your home.

Wine charms
For all the germaphobes out there, here is your chance to make sure that you never drink out of someone else’s wine glass again! Honestly, I think wine charms are just something fun that can give your wine glass some zest but they do help you keep track of which is glass is your glass. This comes in handy when you do not know which wine glass is yours and your sister, who is battling a cold of some kind but insists she is not contagious (although, she probably is). So cheers to you healthy people! Bottoms up.  

 

Cheers!

 Hannah Clark

Wine Club Featured Event - Vanguard Wines Mini Portfolio Show

We had a great weekend at the shop, largely in part to our wine club special event on Saturday! For those that are regulars, you know we typically do tastings on Friday nights, but we wanted to offer something special with a focus on our wine club members. It was such a fun time and the line up was amazing, so it is absolutely something we will repeat!

As wine professionals we get invited to trade shows put on by our various distributors to taste the wines in their portfolios. This is a big part of how we decide what we sell at the shop!

We wanted to bring a similar experience to our customers by letting you try a bigger selection of wines in various styles and price points, from all over the world, so we brought in Matt Conner from Vanguard Distribution to pour and educate! He featured 15 wines ranging from bubbles to Barbaresco to Brown Zin! We opened this event to the public ($25/person) but were able to offer a special price to our wine club members of $15/person. They got to taste some amazing, small production, truly special wines for $1 per pour. 

It was a great time and we can't wait to host another special Saturday event again in the near future! Follow us on FB and IG to get updates on our upcoming events! Interested in joining us and starting your own wine club adventure? Call us today to sign up and get started!

Cheers!

Tatjana

Those Are Some Good Legs! ( a blog with some thoughts for those who conisder themselves not very knowledgable about wine)

One of the best things about working in a specialty wine shop is helping customers find the perfect wine. One of the benefits of Meza Wine Shop is that we always have at least 20 different wines by the glass and they change every few weeks. Our staff is knowledgeable in each wine and has different tasting notes, aromatic descriptions and preferences for our menu. One of the sayings we hear the most from customers is: “I know nothing about wine!!”

My response is always: FALSE! There is a TON we can learn about wine on first glance, first sniff, and first sip. After all, that’s how we all at Meza have learned: practice, practice, practice! (And by practice I mean drink a lot of wine). We all had to start at the beginning. So, if you find yourself a little lost sitting next to your friends at the bar who use words like “aromatic,” “balanced,” and “malolactic fermentation,” here are some tips to expand the way you experience wine:

1.       Check out how the wine looks. Hold up a piece of white paper behind it to notice if it’s a lemon yellow or a straw yellow, or maybe a deep purple as opposed to a rusty red. Have you ever heard anyone talk about how wine has good legs? It’s a real thing. Legs refer to the trails of wine that trickle down the side of a glass when you swirl it. If it has strong, long legs (which we all love, am I right?) it could signify a better quality wine, or, it could mean that there are some tensions happening between the water and alcohol in the wine. Ethanol is involved and there’s even some fancy science words to go with it, but if you notice legs, mention ‘em. Whatever you see happening in your glass, make note of it.

2.       What does the wine smell like? Most people start to struggle here. I often hear people say, “It smells like grapes.” Or, “I smell wine.” They get discouraged because they think they can’t go any further, when I want to say, “HEY! You can smell that it’s wine! BRAVO!” For real. That’s something. Don’t get down on yourself. Start somewhere! Does the aroma remind you of a color? A season? A place? A food? With each smell, take yourself one step further. If it reminds you of a food, which one? A grape? What kind, green, purple? Push yourself to think just one step further.

3.       What does the wine taste like? Hint: whatever you smell and taste… you’re not wrong. A wine expert at a tasting once said to me, “Canned green peas. That’s all I’m getting from this glass.” I laughed, took a sip and thought, “Huh. You’re right. Canned peas.” Sometimes we hear the weirdest descriptions, but usually, whatever someone smells/tastes is genuinely what they smell and taste. Don’t feel overwhelmed; if you can think of only one palatable description, that’s okay! It’s one more than most wine sippers.

4. Lastly, I’m going to give you a little secret of mine. When I’m tasting wine, I imagine myself walking through the produce section of a grocery store. Do I taste: grape, cherry, strawberry, peach, apricot, green pepper? I picture myself outside. Do I taste: fresh cut grass, barn yard, straw, mineral, rock, salt? I have to envision myself being somewhere where these things are out in the open. As soon as I transport my imagination outside of the bar, I can come up with tastes almost instantly. 

We all have to start at the beginning… and becoming an expert at wine tasting is WAY more fun to practice than practicing for a marathon run or something (no offense, runners). The only way to become an expert is to practice, be open to learning and have fun with it. So crack open a new bottle, start taking some notes and enjoy the experience. Cheers!

Back to School Seasonal Wine Selections

I just took my daughter to school for her first day. It doesn't feel like summer is over but its certainly heading that way. We do have to get back to some structure and routine, but I am not ready to let go of summer just yet, which means I plan to grill out and enjoy nights around the fire pit and eating dinner on the deck as much as I can.

My wine drinking is as seasonal as my wardrobe. When its warm I crave crisp, bright whites. But after drinking white and rose all summer, I start wanting wines with a bit more weight to them. Bigger, richer whites and soft, easy to drink reds. I know tons of people that drink red wine all year round, and good for them - "you do you"as they say...but the thought of a big heavy glass of Cab in August is just not my jam. Right now I am craving the soft, juicy reds with lighter tannins and soft hints of spice, or creamy Chards and the round fruit of a Viognier. 

So for those that like to drink with the seasons along with me, here are a few of my end of summer, transitional wines that are striking a cord with me. 

H & M Hofer Zweigelt $18

I love this wine! Comes in the same pop top - 1 liter bottle as our favorite Gruner and it is the perfect transition wine for end of summer. Great with grilled foods or bbq sauce - its juicy and plush with some savory notes. 

Le Grand Clos Pinot Noir $13

I am kind of wowed by this great value Pinot from France! It is just the right balance of fruity and earthy and just a killer everyday value!!

Talley Chardonnay $25

Pretty much my favorite Chardonnay in house. I love this balanced style and while it is not big and oaky it has the weight and richness that I love along with good acid.

Batasiolo Gavi $16

Italian white wines are my love language. This Gavi is so pretty - fruit forward with hints of citrus and stone fruit and almond. 

Next time you start getting sad about the ending of another summer season, snag a bottle of one of these delicious wines and fire up the grill for dinner. Kick back and relax - kids are finally back in school!

Cheers! Tatjana

Want more ideas on what to drink? Follow mezawineshop on IG for posts on whats new on the shelves and what our staff is drinking!

So Many Wines.....How Do We Chose?

Customers are always amazed when I tell them that all of the wines on the shelves at Meza are hand-picked by shop owner/wine buyer, Tatjana Brown.  How is she able to do that?? Sounds like a fun but daunting task.  One way she is able to do it is by attending portfolio shows put on by our distributors and that is just what she did today. (Staff members are pretty lucky because we get to go along and taste and learn as well!)

Most of the Meza family attended the Vanguard Wines 2016 Annual Portfolio Tasting where there were 82 tables of wines to taste.  Most tables had a minimum of 2-3 wines and some had as many as 10 wines.  Yep, that is a lot of wine! So how do we choose wines that we want to bring in and share with our customers?

Upon arrival we get a book with all of the wines listed by table.  There is a description of the winery and all of the wines listed including prices.  We typically try to taste new wines, ones that we don’t currently have on the shelf.  If there are employees attending who haven’t tasted a certain wine that we do carry and then Tatjana encourages us to taste those wines so we are better able to describe and recommend them to you!  We all take notes and compare them after the show with the wines that rise to the top making it onto the shelves.  It is a great way to also find special wines for wine club, holiday tastings and other special occasions.

We tasted wines from all over the world including Spain, France, Italy, Argentina, California and Oregon.  Do you want to do your own version of a portfolio tasting?  Join one of Meza's four monthly wine club tiers. 

Cheers! Yvonne

 

 

We’re (not) screwed

Just the other day I had a customer come up to me and request a bottle of wine that had light tannins and flavors of red fruit. As I gave her my best suggestion, which was a bottle of Lola Pinot Noir, she seemed to be a bit uneasy. She was somewhat taken by surprise at the fact that the bottle I suggested was a screw top, instead of the classic cork. In this day and age where there is so much technology behind the winemaking process, I was shocked that this was still an ongoing debate.

As I proceeded to tell her that a bottle having a screw top or cork does not matter anymore, she shook her head in disbelief and went on to find another bottle with her specifications. Since this incident, I have obligated myself to spread the word about corks versus screw tops … and the fact is, it does not matter!

Now, answer this honestly, how often do you take wine home for long-term aging? Well if you do this at all, I applaud you for your self-restraint, but most of us take the bottle home to drink within the week or so. Because we open the bottle, almost immediately, the concern of screw top versus cork should not be an issue.

You may be asking ‘Hannah, how can you be so certain?’, well other than the fact that my parents and coworkers have taught me a majority of what I know about wine, I have done my research. So lets think about the pros and cons of screw tops and corks …

 

Screw tops:

Pros

            Easier and more affordable to make

            Has a tight seal, which inhibits the ability of oxidation

            Easier to open

No danger of cork taint

Cons

            Has not been efficiently tested for long-term aged wines

            Less traditional

Corks:

Pros

            Proven to be better for aged wines

            Allows the wine to breathe because of the small pores

            Widely and historically more popular

Cons

            Expensive

            Bad for the environment

Has the chance of forming TCA (trichloroanisole) … the “musty” flavor and smell that taints the bottle

Allows for the wine to breath, which may increase the chance of cork taint

 

If you find yourself in the position where you are wondering if you should you opt for the cork versus the screw top wine bottle, stop yourself and instead consider flavors, regions, and aromas. To those who still are not sold on screw tops, you are missing out on some fabulous wine!

Cheers! 

Hannah

On Southern Italian Wine and Breaking Out of our Comfort Zone

I just gave our team a little homework this week, and if you know me, the homework for the shop is always enjoyable. After all, it involves drinking wine!

I was putting together our wine club packs for this month which feature wines from Southern Italy, mainly Campania and Puglia. We have so many red lovers on our team and I thought, this is a great option for them to learn a little more about this region and to enjoy wines that fit their palate. We all get stuck in a comfort zone with lots of things in life....the food we eat, with our workouts, with our personal style. Same goes with wine. Its so easy to grab a bottle of Cabernet because we know what it is and we see it everywhere. We may gravitate towards a Zinfandel - now knowing how similar (and related) a Primitivo is. Its my job to get people drinking outside of the box and learning about wine and thats totally what we are doing this week!

Next time you head into the wine shop or to your local wine retailer, ask a couple questions and have the staff find you something new. Its fun and interesting and there is something so cool about tasting a wine from half way across the world and learning about it that makes you feel like maybe you would want to go there someday.  If you don't have time for all that jazz and you live locally, then hit us up about wine club and get the adventure chosen for you each month. Trust us, you will be pleasantly surprised at how your palate and your list of favorite wines grows.

Cheers!

Tatjana

September's Varietal Feature: Pinot Noir

The weather is literally in that zone of perfection the last few weeks. Warm days and cooler evenings make us want to drink wine! (than again what doesn't)

This month on our feature table we are showcasing Pinot Noir. Seems like the perfect transition to fall weather. Pinot Noir can be a very alluring varietal. They can be intensly aromatic (think cherry, cranberry, and baking spices) and on the palate there can be the flavors ranging from red fruit to cherry pie to mushrooms and earth. So many variances and so many interesting and alluring smells and tastes and they all sort of remind me of fall.

Here are several of our favorite Pinots at the moment - if you stop by the shop be sure to check out our newest offerings and the two Pinots we have currently available by the glass from Allamand and Scott Family.

JK Carrier Provacateur Pinot Noir - This is by far my favorite Pinot in the shop. Cherry, blueberry and soft vanilla nuances on the palate lead into a super silky finish. ($30)

Stoller Pinot Noir - This wine definitely screams fall to me. I love the hints of cinnamon and spice that accent the fruity palate. ($25)

Allamand Pinot Noir - We love wines from this Argentine producer and found this super affordable Pinot to be really soft and pretty but also a bit earthy.  ($17)

Whatever is in your glass, we hope you are enjoying it! See you at the shop.

Cheers!

Tatjana

 

Seven Years Later.....What I Have Learned About Owning a Small Business

It's hard to believe that tomorrow is Meza's 7th anniversary since we opened the doors! In some ways it has flown by and in other ways it's hard to remember what it was like prior to Meza being open, seems like it has been around forever. Being a small business owner has been one of the most challenging, rewarding, tumultuous, un nerving, and exciting things I have ever done. I feel like we are constantly learning something new everyday, and gaining more and more footing with each passing year. We don't know exactly what the future holds for us and we hope that Meza will continue to evolve and grow. Just a few thoughts on what I feel like we have learned with this experience. 

1. Passion and stubborn pride helps get you past the difficult times.

There have been so many times that things have been hard during the last seven years. In particular, early on when we first were getting things up and running and were uncertain of our exact direction. I have to say what I truly believe keeps us at it during those times has been sheer determination due to our stubborn pride. Not wanting to give up because we made this decision and we were going to see it through no matter what. No one wants to fall on their face, right? However, our passion for wine, for small business, for the community and for our family has also been continued fuel. It is what makes the hard stuff seem so worth while.

2. You cannot be everything to everybody.

This is coming from a not very thick skinned person who has had to learn this over and over again. With starting a business, you are in a sense putting yourself out there. Your ideas, your passions, and your "trials and errors" out there for everyone to see but also for customers to "experience".  There will be suggestions and conversation around which direction you should take your business. I think it is vital to any business to adapt and change as the world around them changes, and to listen to what customers are telling you. But you cannot be everything to everybody. You cannot be a destination for everyone. While it is good to embrace change and adapt, its also SO very important to stay true to your passions. You may end up with a slightly smaller customer base but what you are able to offer those customers will be that much greater.

3. Surround Yourself with Passionate People Who Truly Care About Your Business

One of the hardest things I have experienced with running Meza was learning how to work by myself. No boss to give you guidance. No co workers to pat your back and tell you it was a job well done. It really becomes about believing in yourself, having conviction in your decisions and knowing that if something doesn't work out, you try different avenues until you see results. Well, that is a lot of damn work! However, no one can do it all themselves. It literally takes a village. We have had to lean on so many friends, babysitters and family members for support.  I have been so lucky to have found people to team up with that are truly as passionate about Meza as we are. Leaning on them for their areas of expertise and knowledge has been key. Knowing when to let go has been important. Finding just anyone to fill a gap is not going to work. It is so personal. Finding people that are just that perfect fit is what makes a business like ours run and what keeps us afloat.

4. How do you measure success? Its all about tradeoffs

Success is a hard thing to measure. Maybe its how much money you make. Or what title you carry at your job. Maybe its the benefits you receive from your particular employer. Maybe its time and flexibility with your family and your schedule. 

My friend and I always have this conversation. There are tradeoffs in life. It is easy to be envious of someone elses paycheck or status. Or to wish you could strike off on your own. There have been days where I have played the "what if" game, thinking where I would be now in my career had I chosen a different path. How much money would I be making now? Those are the days I have to take a minute to really look at what Meza means to our family. I see all the amazing people I have met through this experience, people that have become like family to us,  and to look at the flexibility it has allowed me with my kids to know that success has many different forms and life is all about tradeoffs. 

So there it is. The little bit that seems to resonate with me on a day to day basis. Jason and I are so grateful for the last seven years and we look forward to continuing to grow Meza and to continue to develop it as a unique wine destination. Thanks to all those who have been a part of the journey!

Cheers!

Tatjana