A Closer Look at the Spectacular Character of the unique Italian Wines

Part 1


I suspect that culture has something to do with the character of wine produced in a specific region. So in my opinion, the Italian perspective, combined with the resources endemic to the country such as the existence of at least 2,000 native grape varieties and the blessed beautiful Mediterranean climate, led to the production of several unique and superior Italian wines that could rival what France has to offer. If you would like to know what I mean, I suggest you try some remarkable Italian wines that are famed for their uniqueness and Italian identity. You might want to check wiine.me for some incredible selections or try to learn about it in the wider wine context through this link. But, here is a list of some of these in the first of our two-part series on interesting Italian wines:



Okay, so this bottle would particularly arrest your attention when perusing a wine list for its incredibly expensive price tag. This detail has a rather more complex story than the usual marketing pitch of “being top of the line red wine” ad nauseum. Amarone – in the intricate Italian winemaking system – is a product of the Valpolicella wine region. It produces five wines: classico, superior, superiore, ripasso, amarone and recioto. Classico is generally known as Valpolicella Wine and its production is generally straightforward, with grapes being crushed and fermented with relatively no oak aging. Amarone undergoes a more tedious process. Vintners save their most mature vines for this wine. In addition, only the choicest grapes are used or, to be specific, those grapes that are only harvested in October. These are left to dry as raisins throughout the unforgiving Italian winter. After about 120 days, the raisins undergo fermentation and aging. What all these means is that there are more grapes used for every bottle of Amarone in comparison to the Valpolicella or perhaps most wines in the market. You also have to factor in the amount of effort involved in the process with the slow fermentation and . The result is an excellently bold red wine, with complex fruit flavors but expensive, above all.


Barolo and Barbaresco

These wines in Italy are usually reserved for Sunday dinners and in many Italian celebrations. They can also be quite expensive with price ranging from $35-$100. They are usually associated together because both are made from the same Nebbiolo grape, a variety that is particularly difficult to cultivate. However, they have distinct characteristics. Barolo has richer and more complex flavor whereas Barbaresco is lighter and more elegant. Either of these bottles can rank as one of the finest in all the world when thoroughly well-made.


Chianti is perhaps the most famous Italian wine around the world, the usual accompaniment in spaghetti posters if you must know. It is an excellent bottle that traditionally came inside a fiasco (This is a straw basket and not the other fiasco you might be wondering about). The wine is made from a combination of Sangiovese and Canaiolo grapes and is mainly produced in the Tuscan wine region. Chiantis are sold either as low-end or high-end wines. If you would like to know what sets a sophisticated bottle apart, here is an analogy: it is less harsh than a Cabernet Sauvignon and performs better in terms of elegance than a Zinfandel or a Syrah. For this reasons, it is much-preferred wine pair for steaks, grilled meat and, of course, pasta.


In the next installment of this post, I will try to explain the boldness of Super Tuscan, the appeal of Montepulciano and Pinot Grigio and why people are star-struck by the Tuscan Brunello. So stay tuned.

What can we learn from the shape of wine bottles?

Did you know that the shape of the bottles could give you an idea what kind of wine it is or where it is from? Consider the image below. There are eight bottles and each of these has distinct shapes that could provide the clue as to the identity of a wine or where it is made.


The first bottle from the left is a Bordeaux. All Bordeaux bottles sport similar design: tall shoulders and straight body. Winemakers in the New World, those producing Bordeaux varieties, also adopt the shape of this bottle.


The gently tapering body, beginning from the neck to the shoulders onto the sides is a trademark of Burgundy bottles. It also has remarkable girth, which is responsible for its sturdiness. Other wines such as Chardonnay and Pinot Noir have adopted similar appearance.


Wines produced in the Rhone Valley have almost similar bottles to Burgundy wines except that it is smaller in shape, with less girth. Some variations may even display sharper angles in the shoulder. The New World Shiraz tends to adopt the same bottle appearance although the reproduction is not always consistent.


The bottle that is fourth from the left in the image is unmistakably…  Yes, you got it right, Champagne. The bottle is huge, with design elements reminiscent of Burgundy. The shape and the sturdy make of the bottle are imperative because of the tremendous amount of pressure inside. It is supposed to exceed the pressure in the average car tire.

Alsace and Mosel

The bottles from Alsace and Mosel have their trademark tall and reed-like body. The shape has also been adopted for Riesling wines. The design priorities are supposed to accommodate the horizontal storage of the wine bottle.


The bottle next to Alsace and Mosel bottle are trademark shapes for wines produced in the Rhine region. These two bottles are almost similar in appearance with the same design objectives. The significant distinction would have to be the color of the glass used. Rhine bottles traditionally sport dark brown hue.

Port, Madeira and Sherry

The bottle second from right is usually the shape for fortified wines such as Port, Madeira and Sherry. Like the Burgundy bottle, it is also made to be sturdy for easy and safe transport. This kind of bottle often has a bulging neck, designed to catch sediments once the content is decanted.

The last bottle in the picture – a whimsical affair – demonstrates the argument that there is really no rigid rule or policy about the shape of wine bottles. The tradition or the consistency in their design is more aligned with maintaining the image of the brand, in addition to the original design objectives such as a need for strength or convenience in storage.

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Get rid of the wine snob the classy way

There is no one who is more irritating than an intellectual bully – that person who knew just about anything and would take every opportunity to let the world know about it. They will not only make you feel inadequate but they could sound truly condescending as well. In the wine world there is a related concept for that in the person of the wine snob. Unfortunately, this person could prove to be more aggravating since they come with the standard contempt for anything inferior in in wine. Often, they would take it upon themselves to lead wine-related conversations and chose what wine to get, assuming a self-appointed mandate as if their knowledge and wine skills give them the right to speak for or articulate other people’s preferences. Sometimes it is imperative to put them in their proper place. If that circumstance arises, here are some tips for you:


1. If you know that a wine snob is invited in the party you are joining, it helps to stock up with some wine knowledge. That way, you are in a better position to confront one if a wine-smartypants-situation presents itself. There is no better way to deal with him than to burst his bubble. Stand your ground if ever you are drawn to an argument. Do not be intimidated and say yes to their opinions or to contradict them when they hype up a wine that you do not find exceptional. It will only encourage their behavior.

2. Prepare some quick retort. Say a snob quips, “Oh, are you serving a 70 plus-point wine?” then you could simply declare, “Of course, since I do not need anybody to tell me what wine to like.”

3. One can also choose the more diplomatic approach. For example, if a wine snob could not simply contain himself, you could listen for a bit and perhaps learn a thing or two in the process. Also, by listening, you are probably letting him get some steam out and calm him just so the room could finally take a breather from his exertions.

4. You can also avoid them or ignore them. By doing so, you are depriving them of an audience. Some snobs might take pleasure in displaying their superiority. So one less opportunity to do that would be a classy way to eliminate them from your immediate radius.

Wine snobbery does not really connote something entirely negative. It could just mean the ways of a wine geek or a wine sophisticate who developed a swirling tic or an obsession for decanting their wine, among other wine rituals and protocols. A really good article about this entitled, In Defense of Wine Snobs is available for you to check.

    However, we will be in agreement if – like me – you simply want to be spared from the attitude and deprecating language towards the amateurs and the consumption of “unsophisticated” wines. It is only appropriate to check these types of behavior especially if it is bordering on being rude or if it is adversely affecting the good vibes of your drinking party.

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Wines under $20 worth collecting

Wines under $20 worth collecting

We have the principles like the economies of scale and phenomena like globalization to thank why it is no longer necessary to pay an arm and a leg in order to procure a respectable wine. Although there are labels that remain unrivaled and, hence, persistently expensive, more and more vineyards are producing excellent bottles that prices are plummeting on account of stiff competition. So today, it is perfectly believable to claim a $20 or below-priced wine could be decent, good and delicious. To prove my point, I have here six of the best wines under $20 that is worthy to be collected.

Porcupine Ridge Syrah 2011 or more popularly known as Porcupine hailed from the South African wine estate Boekenhoutskloof. A bottle is valued from $14-$15 dollars. It stands by its syrah heritage with its impeccably bold flavor, laced with blackberry, spice, black pepper, leather and bacon. This is fantastic with any smoked meat.

Now, while American wine producers are not labeled according to wine producing regions, it does not mean that this factor does not matter. There are regions that are highly regarded such as Ravenswood in Napa Valley. It is recognized for the quality and character of its wines. Indeed, there are bottles that are named after this region. The 2010 Ravenswood Napa Valley Old Vine Zinfandel is a case in point. For as low as $12 you get a bright fruity flavor infused with vanilla and warm spices. It is beautifully strong and sexy.

At this point in the list, I am actually torn between two choices: the Seufert Winery Pinot Noir Cuvee 2007 and the Dashwood Marlborough Pinot Noir 2009. I appreciate the former, which was produced from the fields of Oregon, for its aroma, with the identifiable hints of strawberry and plum in addition to its delicate smokiness. The latter – a proud product of New Zealand – leans more on the brighter side, with a little dash of herbs here and there. Both of these bottles are great introduction to this type of wine and excellent accompaniment to appetizers and light meal. I am, however, partial to the Seufert (($18+) in terms of taste but only a for a bit. But the Kiwi contender, priced at $11 thereabouts, won hands down in terms of cost. Well, I say, let us choose the Seufert, yes? It is a little superior in taste, but superior, nonetheless. Need I remind you that this is a below-$20 list, after all.

There are, of course, those who would want something different or side with the movement against mass production, preferring their wines to be almost hand crafted, where it is easier to imagine a person laboring and caring how it is made. To this public, the wines from the Old World appeal immensely and they have no qualms about spending money for them. Still, there are wines from these regions that are reasonably priced. In this respect, I recommend Calo Rioja Tempranillo 2010. Made from Spain’s famous wine region, Rioja, the liquor is a bargain. The price ranges from $18 to $20. For some reason, this bottle is mighty popular in Australia considering its burgeoning well-heeled, wine-consuming public and the good number of quality wine produced domestically. Anyway, this bottle is the third vintage release in the Calo Tempranillo label. I assure you, you will love the flavor, which is an amalgamation of vanilla, blueberry and traces of bacon and chicory. Let the bottle be for about six months and consume away! Now, for the same reasons and perhaps more, notwithstanding the pricing, there is also the 2007 Vina Eguia Rioja Reserva. I am listing it here as an alternative. It hovers at the same price point as the Calo but if you are lucky, you could get this for as low as $10! I would like you to take note of the Reserva label. Rioja is known for its strict standards in this respect, so it means that this bottle has been aged for at least 18 months.

We have another Old World value wine in the form of the 2007 Colognole Chianti Rufina. Pedigree, quality and a potential for long-term aging make this bottle truly a gem for only $16. The cost would increase per wine merchant but the stated price is the best so far. Expect to experience the essence of the Apennine Mountains as you partake this excellent spirit. It is most assuredly summery, savory and is well-balanced and truly refined, hence, a classic worthy of a place in your collection.

Finally, I would like to recommend – with a bit of reverence – the 2009 Trimbach Riesling, produced in Alsace, France. There is no better way to describe this except delicious. I could not care less if this shipped from the Old World or from the bowels of the earth; it is divine particularly in this season. This reminded why I was surprised because it is only worth $14. I am willing to shell out much much more than that for this bottle.

So, there: top 6 wines under $20. You would probably have a different list. I would love to hear the content, since I could not claim to have sampled everything. As you know, there is a teeming number of wines produced in vineyards every year.

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Wine is the new black

    Just like gray, wine is emerging to be the new black. How did it come to be? Well, in this post, I will try to point out some of the compelling reasons.

    Let me be academic in my arguments so I would begin with establishing my, er… thesis statement(?)

    The “new black” expression denotes a new trend, fad or style of the moment. Never mind that black is supposed to be a classic and, hence, should never be out of style. But, I digress. Wine is the “in” thing now and people of all shapes and colors are embracing it happily as their liquor of choice.

    The best empirical evidence is, of course, the uptick in wine consumption. The world is seemingly so taken with wine that a wine shortage is increasingly becoming apparent. You might be tempted to say that, yeah sure, this could just mean that collectors are collecting more or new markets have just been penetrated like the case of China. But, I assure you, this is not entirely the case, thank you very much. In a very authoritative study, for example, it was found that Millennials are providing the greatest increase in the consumption figures. More and more people ages 21 to 26 reportedly drink wine, even eclipsing other age demographics in drinking frequency. This is important because wine is traditionally associated with the oldish, the moneyed and the cultured bunch.

    In addition, wine consumption is also becoming more diverse. For example, the American Wine Market Council found a drastic increase in wine consumption in the African American, Asian American and Hispanic segments of the population. These demographics were found to prefer drinking beer in the past.

    There are of course valid arguments against my thesis. First is that the wine industry is still confined to its little box brimming with own prejudices and snobbery. This supposedly turns off the masses or, keeps wine from the general public. Jonny Forsyth published a very well written article exploring this theme.  He focused his analysis on the British wine industry. He pointed out, for instance, that many Britons have cultivated “sweeter tooth” in recent years, with consumption of anything that has sugar in them increasing by as much as 31 percent. Forsyth argued that wine makers, wine traders and the wine elite refuse to accommodate this public preference, stubbornly maintaining that drier wine is better and sweet wine is bad, period.

Certainly, people can find a thousand things to say for each point that I would be able to put forward. And I could also do the same to other people’s point of view and it not necessarily in a tit-for-tat kind of way either. But here is the thing: the numbers will not be able to lie. There is a growth in the global wine consumption and such growth is transpiring across all consumer segments. I would be amenable to the argument that it could be a mere trend, a temporary blip in the ongoing liquor-consuming narrative. But wine could also be THE new black, end of story. It would depend on the decision makers of the industry. They can take advantage of the momentum and entrench wine in the consumer culture. If that happens, wine is here to stay.

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Top 10 Red Wines for Women

2007 Via Collina Dolcetto d’Alba Langhe

This red wine is produced from the best red grapes grown in the northwestern region of Italy called Piemonte. It is perfect for women because it is perfumed. In addition, it is flavored with plum, mulberry and black cherry. Although it is unoaked dolcetto, it has dark good looks. Aside from these characteristics, this bottle satisfies the feminine sensibilities further on account of the fact that it is cheap. Then, it goes very well with food, particularly pasta and grilled meat.

Ravenswood Old Vine Zinfandel

Taking the cue from women’s partiality towards Zinfandel, I have selected a special and practical bottle, the Ravenswood Old Vine Zinfandel. I have tried both the 2005 and 2010 bottle under this label and they were equally good, not to mention affordable. There is rich and almost gourmand characteristic, contributed by the slight tinge of pepper, vanilla and spice. A truly exotic bottle, if you ask me.

Les Hauts de Lagarde Rouge

Women gravitate towards anything that has something to do with fitness and health. So this Bordeaux wine is here on account of that. It is made from organic Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. The Hauts de Lagarde 2010 Rouge has warm black fruit flavors and is a very easy drink.

De Bortoli Gulf Station Pinot Noir

A Steve Webber creation, this hails from Australia. For those who do not know Mr. Webber, he is the chief winemaker and the manager of the De Bortoli Vineyard. This is a very impressive Pinot Noir perhaps made for women since it is an easy drink, made more attractive with its fruity and fragrant aroma.

Louis Max, Clos de la Perrier, Rouge

This impressive red wine is part of  wiine.me October selection. It is perfect for women because it is a great young wine, which means it is crisp and fresh. The Portuguese romanticized this association when they endorsed the good life and unadulterated hedonistic lifestyle by declaring “Putas e vino verde” or “whores and young wine”, a motto thought to be attached to the sentence beginning with “who does not love-“. Well, I could not have put it better.

2002 Château de Lussac, Lussac St Emilion

While not the best Bordeaux vintage, this red wine has unique characters that women might find alluring. The female instinct to tame the unruly should arise naturally with this bottle. It is a bit bold and has a particularly persistent spirit. Moreover, it is also no stranger to fun and   womanly pursuits such as chocolate and fruitcake, for example.

Le Fleurie de Vicky

The name should already give this bottle away. In French it is called Miss Vicky Wine although I am not sure if that is the exact translation. Though I have a suspicion that the name is probably related to flower in French. Nonetheless it is a very daring red wine, with all those subtle allusions to sex, mystery and womanly pleasure. Anyway I found it fresh, crisp and very forward. Such complexity, however, does not mean it is not very easy to drink, which it is.

2006 Crozes Hermitage, Petite Ruche

I need to include a bottle of Syrah in this list. Women tend to gravitate towards wine that are great with food and this wine excel beautifully with almost anything. With this variable in mind, I recommend the 2006 and 2010 Crozes Hermitage, Petite Ruche.

2006 Nos Riqueza, Ribera del Duero

If I have to think of an analogy, this Tempranillo is like a distilled Spain with a lot of passion going on. There is a subtle amalgamation of fruit and a bit of sourness infused from cherry and tannins. And do not forget that this is an award-winning bottle and women deserve no less.

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The Best Subscription Boxes for Women


This subscription box is all about “beauty” products. Every month, a box full of goodies are delivered to your home. The items are selected according to your profile and features (such as skin tone and type) so if you think you could use some sprucing up, this is the best box for you. The box includes great selection of brands such as NARS, Davines and Origins.

Wiine.me: $42-64

I am a wine amateur but I recently began collecting wine. My stash is quite small yet but I am looking forward to the day it will grow. One of the things that I like about wiine.me is how it saves me time to find great wines and help me avoid getting disappointed with inferior or overhyped bottles. The three bottles shipped every month for the wine box are specially chosen by wine experts so I am assured that I have the best and most diverse trio at my doorstep. Wiine.me claims that it will be able to transform me into a wine connoisseur as well within one year and I am very excited with this prospect. The service includes an online wine course and an assortment of wine resources and fun stuffs packed inside the subscription box.

BeSpoke: $45

One super nice part of wine box subscription is the opportunity to sample products. BeSpoke has a lot in their list. I remembered selecting the themed “The Butcher Box” in their Bespoke Post Box of Awesome product line because I like to tinker in the kitchen once in a while. I got a beautiful custom-made Butcher block, a Spiced tonic syrup, a Bourbon Aged and a Tahitian Maple syrup. Then I got to include several interesting add-ons that I want to try which is recommended because it ships with your box free: a pepper sauce and a cigar for my boy friend. When I received the box, I was surprised to find two extra bonus, a Slavo salt packet and seasonal Larabar flavor, Snickerdoodle. It is also important to note that I have never experienced an overlap of products from my boxes.

Bombfell: $69

This service is like having a personal stylist for your husband or your boyfriend. Every month, you get an item from any of their boutique brands such as Ben Sherman and French Connection. They also include merchandise from emerging names such as Descendant of Thieves and Farm Tactics. If you want your man neat and tidy with no hassles involved, this box is a must have.

Chic Maker: $29.90

This is a do-it-yourself jewelry kit. Once subscribed, you will receive a monthly supply of items so you can make your own bracelet, necklace, headband or earrings. The items are chosen according to the latest fashion trends, so dig in!

BoinkBox: $25

If you are looking to spice up to your bed activities, a monthly subscription to this service should be in order. For your troubles, you will get high quality adult toys and bric-a-bracs delivered to your door, saving you the awkwardness or the embarrassment of going to a sex shop. Try their monthly “make-out box”, which could include lubes in various flavors, fun stuffs and other sexy things that can enhance your erotic experience.