Over the weekend, my sweetie and I opened a bottle of the wonderful ’03 Reininger Cab Sauv from Ash Hollow. My favorite! It was one of the few bottles I have left from my first year at Reininger working in the tasting room right after college graduation, and I had been saving it for a special occasion. Such an occasion arose with the completion of Pole Pedal Paddle, an amazing race in Bend, OR. that we competed in as a family team. Though my own leg was the shortest – about 2 minutes of downhill skiing – I was the first to fall asleep on the couch after a big day of excitement and only half a glass of wine. What a shame!
Why does red wine go bad? Oxygen turns red wine into vinegar. The key is to reduce the amount of oxygen touching the surface when storing open red wine. There are a few methods used to prolong shelf life, all based on minimizing exposure to oxygen either by replacing or removing the oxygen or reducing the surface area of the wine. With the necessary care some red wines can be stored open for up to a week. Fortunately, the weather was cool enough to not spoil the open half bottle on the counter so we could enjoy it the next day.
Had we not been so irresponsible, this is the usual protocol of tasting bars throughout the day:
- Re-cork the wine after every glass pour
- Keep the open wine bottle out of light and stored under room temperature
- In most cases a refrigerator goes a long way to keeping wine fresh longer; even red wines. When stored at colder temperatures the chemical processes slow down, including the process of oxidation that takes place when wine is exposed to oxygen.
- For best results, store the wine upright to minimize surface area exposed to oxygen.
- Prevent dramatic temperature changes which can damage your wine, such as quickly going from cold to hot.
- Don’t store open wine on its side – it increases the surface area exposed to oxygen
- Don’t store open wine by a window – because of sun exposure and discoloration
- Don’t store the wine at temperatures above 70 F – better to store open wines in the fridge
I hope this helps you to save that last glass or two in the bottle and not let your delicious wines, and all of that cash, go down the drain. Cheers!
This week is SO MUCH BETTER than last. I can’t even believe how hot is was last week. It honestly made me believe that I had forgotten what a “real” spring in Walla Walla is like, and that the looming summer is going to just be miserable. Turns out (as per the usual) that I was wrong, and THIS WEEK has started to shower us with the amazing late-spring weather that all Walla Wallans love. Not too hot, not too cold, sunshine for days and a light breeze to kiss your sun-warmed skin. Perfection.
This kind of perfect weather really calls for an activity that is best enjoyed on the relative flatness of Walla Walla’s roads…biking! Chuck is a huge biking fanatic and, when he and his partners turned the two potato sheds into what is now the Reininger tasting room and production, he insisted on putting in a shower next to his office for the express purpose of being able to ride to work. Many of us who work at the winery also love to bike, from just going to grab a brew or two downtown to long, epic adventures around the valley. I strongly suggest that if you are coming to Walla Walla from somewhere within driving distance this spring/summer/early fall, bring your bike! If you don’t have the room, you can always rent from Allegro Cyclery in downtown Walla Walla. I’ve put together two rides that are great and appropriate for all levels, provided that you are an active person who enjoys riding bikes. Walla Walla is really flat, so if you’re used to riding around Seattle’s hills, you will absolutely adore these laid-back jaunts.
*Reininger would never recommend breaking any laws or being irresponsible with wine consumption. Please remember that even though you are on a bike, you are subject to the same traffic laws as those in cars, including DUI’s.
I have so many friends who prefer beer to wine. Heck, some days I prefer beer to wine as well, especially now that the weather is suddenly twenty degrees warmer and all I want to do is be outside, roaming around on my bike. Perhaps a little known fact about Chuck is that his original plan was to open a brewery here in Walla Walla, until he started working with Eric Rindall of Waterbrook and found out that he’s a pretty fantastic wine maker.So anyway, for all of you who love a frosty brew or have friends who you always have to keep the fridge stocked for, this post is for you. These are pretty loosely-defined beer styles, and just like wine, can be much, much more intricately divided into categories, but who has time for that?
IPA lovers (Ninkasi Tricerahops, Elysian Immortal IPA, Terrapin Hopsecutioner, etc.) generally revel in the complexities and different flavors an IPA can provide, as well as the incredible hoppy bitter bite. Reininger Carmenere would be a worthy treat and has a similarly balanced complex fruitiness combined with intense tannins.
Deep, dark Porter (Black Butte, Pipeline, CoCoNut, Perseus, etc.) fans will absolutely love the Reininger Malbec and Reininger Cabernet Sauvignon. Dark and earthy, smooth, silky, and structured describe both porters and two of our favorite Reiningers. Porter fans will enjoy how these two wines deliver plenty of earthiness while also pairing with similar foods to Porters.
If your friend loves light Lagers (Molson, Rolling Rock, Tacate, Asahi, Corona, etc.) try the Helix Rosé. The light flavors, bright acid, and way it tickles the tongue mimic what most love about a good ol’ refreshing brew – the light carbonation and easy-drinking flavors. Crisp and refreshing like a lager, and easily affordable, too. It pairs with foods easily and provides that juicy finish to each bite.
I could probably go for a long time without seeing another Belgium Ale, but many, many people would disagree with me. If Belgians are your thing (Trippels, Leffe Blonde, De Koninck, etc.) for their smooth body, subtle fruitiness, and high alcohol content, you will probably love the Helix SoRho, for those who like a less-intense Belgian, or the Reininger Syrah, if you enjoy a richer Belgian. Smooth, unctuous, slightly smokey, and softer tannins are a good match to a Belgium Ale’s characteristics. The SoRho and Syrah both stand on their own, like a Belgian Ale, as well as offering that inherent fruitiness and body.
For those who love a Pale Ale (Sierra Nevada, Samuel Adams, Bass, Bodington’s, etc.) for its rich, bigger-body and well-balanced flavors, the Reininger Merlot is a great pick. Our Merlot is a little softer than the fuller-bodied reds, wonderfully balanced, and has nice, pillowy tannins that aren’t overly aggressive.
Hefeweizen fans (Blue Moon, Dirty Blonde Ale, Sunset Session Wheat, etc.) can find solace at a wine-only function in a full-bodied Chardonnay, like the Reininger Reserve Chardonnay. Wheat beers can often be smooth, a bit creamy, and to some palates, a bit sweet. They are rich and refreshing, just like a great Chard. Lovely Honeycrisp apple notes compliment voluptuous texture and subtle acid in our Reserve Chardonnay, mirroring those qualities of a good Hefe, while still satisfying thirst.
Have a great day and toast (your brew or your wine glass) to the sunshine!
Whew! It’s been kind of an impressively bustling week at the winery and as a Walla Wallan! Though I can’t say we know for sure what this weekend will bring as far as political fireworks, I can assure you that the weather is going to be incredible (for the first time!) and the wine will be flowing in abundance.
As a reminder for all of our Wine Club members who are coming to taste this weekend, the Wine Club area will be available on Saturday only! Don’t worry if Saturday is not your day. To be sure, our Wine Club wines will be available all weekend.
Make your way to Reininger early for the best selection as some of our wines are incredibly limited due to our small production and Wine Club pre-sales.
If you were wondering what’s on tap for Reininger’s Spring Release lineup, here is our fantastic selection for the weekend.
2011 R. Reserve Chardonnay (very limited – tasting in the WC area only)
2009 Reininger Merlot (very limited)
2009 Reininger Malbec (very limited)
2004 Reininger Anomaly (very limited) – tasting in the WC area only)
2010 Reininger Cabernet Sauv.
2009 Reininger Carmenere (tasting in the WC area only)
2009 Reininger Syrah
2011 Helix Chardonnay
2011 Helix Rose (very limited)
2007 Helix Sangiovese
2008 Helix Sangiovese (tasting in the WC area only)
2008 Helix SoRho
2010 Helix SoRho (tasting in the WC area only)
2009 Helix Merlot
2010 Helix Cabernet Sauvignon (tasting in the WC area only)
For everyone making the journey from elsewhere, drive/fly safely and we look forward to seeing you this weekend!
Filed under: General, Helix Wines, Reininger Wines, Winery
Walla Walla, in terms of the west, is a pretty old town. When Marcus and Narcissa Whitman arrived in 1836, Washington and Oregon were still future states, the Oregon trail was still an actual trail (not a computer game), and Fort Nez Perce had been established as a trading post for nearly twenty years. In the mid 1800′s, Walla Walla was even slated to be the state capital. ALl of this history gives Walla Walla a deep sense of pride and beauty. We have a beautiful historic downtown bursting at the seams with an unusually high proportion of great food, cute and quirky shops, and amazing architecture. Of course, I’ve already written a few posts on weekend itineraries for Walla Walla, which you can find here & here, so those are good places to start to build your next trip.
One of my favorite weekend activities as a local is to walk around the neighborhoods and peek at the historic homes. If you’re coming to town to wine taste, I highly suggest that you take a break from all of the liquid and go for a wander off the beaten path of wineries and main street. Here is a Historic Buildings Map for your wanderings. I love going South of downtown and seeing the beautiful mansions of Palouse and Catherine streets. East of downtown is another lovely walking area with quaint, tiny streets filled with amazing homes dating back to the turn of the century. Of course these aren’t old compared to the east coast or, you know, anything in Europe, Asia, Africa, India…(you get the idea) but in terms of the west it’s pretty amazing. For those who really love historical homes, check out the Kirkman House Museum while you’re in town. If you happen to be in town this Sunday, April 28, you could even go to the Sweet Home Walla Walla historic homes tour at the Kirkman House Museum. Click here for tickets!
If you have questions about visiting Walla Walla, are looking for guidance, recommendations, or help, feel free to give us a call at 509.522.1994 or shoot an email to email@example.com. All of our staff is proudly from the area and we love sharing our town with you!
Here are a few links:
My sweetie and I took off for an UH-mazing trip to northern Europe over Thanksgiving last year for good ol’ exploring and visiting with my friends from graduate school. As good house guests, we wanted to bring a bottle from Walla Walla for each person we were staying with on our journey. As we didn’t know anything about their wine preferences, we decided to red was probably the way to go, but why?
Like any good Walla Wallan, I love red wine, but a lot of times I prefer white (and feel like a bit of an outsider for it). Unlike the people who start drinking white wine in June only to switch back to red in September, mine is no mere seasonal fling. I love the way white wine can be rich and seductive, with layers of flavors and aromas that range from violets and honey to lime and wet stone, or simple, straightforward and refreshing, a beverage in the best sense of the word. But most of all, I love that thanks to the plethora of solid winemakers in Walla Walla, there’s never been a better time to be a fan of white wine than now.
Most people underestimate how well white wine goes with food. Examples of great white-wine-and-food matches abound well beyond the traditional province of pasta and chicken. For example, the fresh, melon-esque notes and full body of Viognier pair perfectly with roast pork or smoked ham, while choucroute and Riesling are a match made in heaven. Any dish rich with egg or cheese is almost by definition Chardonnay material–in fact, white wine and cheese work brilliantly together, as evidenced by my usual afternoon snack in my parents’ kitchen. I guess we should have thought of that given that we were spending our time in the Netherlands (home of Gouda) and Sweden (home of the cheese-obsessed).
As it turned out, while our red wine gifts were greatly appreciated, everyone we brought a bottle to admitted to being more of a white-wine fan. What I have learned from this experience and further thinking: if you are gifting wines to anyone living in Europe, the Midwest (Europe without the landmarks), the South, Canada, or Mexico – unless you know that they adore reds – take them white. More specifically, take them a not-too-dry or oaky white, like our 2011 Helix Chard or 2011 Helix Viognier. The best part is that they won’t break your bank, either, unlike some of those showstopper reds you might be tempted by. If only I had known.
2011 Helix Chardonnay
2011 Helix Chardonnay has wonderful acid and a crisp, beautiful sparkle thanks to the stainless steel fermentation. It features Granny Smith apple sweet-tartness and a mellow draw on the finish with fresh pineapple and subtle orange flower. A perfect wine for brighter weather.
2011 Helix Viognier
Aromas of white flowers, Asian pear, green apples and honey sweep you away for some afternoon delight. Take a sip an indulge in a waxy-textured mouth feel of honey and more Asian pears. You’ll be left satisfied with flavors of hazelnut and good memories.
As someone who has an extremely sensitive nose, honed after years of my face being attacked with my mother’s mildew-ridden sponge, I find really clean drinkware imperative to my overall happiness. If you are in the habit of cleaning your wine glasses in your dishwasher, where you also wash your egg/fish/meat-covered dishes, you are doing yourself a disservice when it comes to enjoying a your wine, and if I ever come to your house for a glass I will notice (and judge you).
Wine glasses are specifically designed to enhance the entire wine drinking experience. If you have ever looked through a Riedel catalogue or wandered through Crate and Barrel, you’ve seen all of the different options. Stemware designed for red wine, for example, usually has a large, broad bowl to better capture the bouquet. White wine glasses, on the other hand, are narrower so the delicate aromas of the whites are contained. Please, I beg of you, do not use scented detergents. It’s gross.
The visual appeal of wine is also important in tasting – the way the light plays on the liquid as well as the legs that form on the inside of the glass when you are swirling. But the wine glass won’t enhance your experience if it is not clean – fingerprints, leftover wine, LIPSTICK (the bane of every tasting room associate’s existence) and marks can mar the visual appeal.
So for you at home, here is the best process for cleaning your wine glasses, which means protecting your investment and enjoying any wine you put in said glasses to its fullest.
* Unscented dish detergent (I like Seventh Generation)
* A CLEAN sponge, dedicated only to wine glasses
* Scent free paper towels (Any kind of towel leaves lint. Don’t even get me started on towels cleaned in scented laundry detergents)
1) Rinse the glasses in very hot water. As hot as you can stand (but not boiling hot as it can shatter the glass).
2) Use a drop of unscented detergent into the glass and fill it partially with hot water.
3) GENTLY insert the sponge into the bowl of the glass and wipe around the interior.
4) GENTLY but thoroughly wipe the rim. Be careful of your pressure…I’ve broken a ton of wine glasses and it usually happens at the point.
5) Don’t forget to wipe the stem and base, as fingerprints are unattractive.
6) Rinse each glass thoroughly, inside the bowl and out. Keep your grubby fingers off of the bowl at this point.
7) Hand dry your glasses using a paper towel. Again, don’t forget the stem and base.
If you are anti-detergents, bring a pot of water to a boil, hold the glass by the base (bowl side down) over the steaming pot, and steam-clean your glasses for a beautiful spot-free finish. Be super careful to not burn your hand on the steam! Hand dry with paper towels.
If you find you have stubborn wine stains, make a paste of baking soda and water and allow it to sit on the stain for a few minutes. Clean as usual.
If you have cloudy wine glasses, and you’re pretty sure it’s not etching from the dishwasher, warm some white vinegar in a pot and soak the glasses in the vinegar for an hour. Gently scrub the residue with a soft scrub pad. Follow with a hand wash.
I know it seems picky, but taking good care of your glasses allows you to fully enjoy your wine and keeps your glasses in good condition for a long time. One final tip I leave you with if you are a beer drinker…never use soap on your pint glasses, mugs, or pilsners because even the tiniest amount of residue will make your beer go flat.
I’m off to Montana to hit the steep and deep this weekend, but for all of you who are having a party, remember these tips and enjoy your beautiful, spot/lint/lipstick free wine glasses!
People are often surprised that I, having worked for Reininger for years and a native Walla Wallan, don’t have a wine cellar. But I don’t, and probably for some of the same reasons you don’t. I can’t be bothered. I’m too busy to put one together. I live in 900 square feet with someone else. I’ve moved 4 times in the past year. I’m way too cheap to buy a wine refrigerator.
Does that mean I run out and buy a bottle of wine every night for dinner, or each time I need a cupful to make a sauce? Heavens, no! I keep a little stash. Call it a cook’s wine stash. It’s very basic: a little of this, a few bottles of that, all tucked into an old wine box from many years ago (I think it might even be a 2002 Reininger Merlot box). I keep one bottle of sparkling and one bottle of white ready to drink in the refrigerator (neither stays longer than a week or two); between that and the 12 in the box, I’m pretty ready for anything.
While there are many wines that are delicious and affordable, I find that our Helix line is my go-to for everyday drinking. You might think that this is because it’s easy for me to grab a bottle on my way home from work, but as I work from my own office downtown, I choose Helix for its consistent quality, not its convenience. My idea is that you only need a few wines – three, in fact – available all the time for any meal you can think of. These babies aren’t the WOW factor wines that I bust out for special occasions or the rare get together, but they certainly satisfy any palate (a tested and proven theory) and are perfect for everyday drinking. As precious as these wines are to Chuck, they don’t come with precious prices.
For a case of wine, here is how I break it up:
2011 Helix Chardonnay (4 bottles) $21
This has, as Chuck says, “wonderful acid and a crisp, beautiful sparkle thanks to the stainless steel fermentation. It features Granny Smith apple sweet-tartness and a mellow draw on the finish with fresh pineapple and subtle orange flower.” I think it’s great to sip on while I’m cooking, perfect for adding a splash to soups, and excellent with a nibble of strong cheese and crackers after work.
2011 Helix Rosé (2 bottles) $20
With a base of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon this beauty has some body and beautiful strawberry and hibiscus notes with a nice dry mouth feel. The 5% Malbec gives this Rosé a STUNNING red color and a little pop of raspberry. I love this with salmon or soups when I’m not feeling like I want something as heavy as a red. I also tend to have about 6 bottles of Rosé on hand in the summer, lowering the amount of red.
2009 Helix Pomatia (6 bottles) $21
The ol’ standby. Chuck is pretty excited about the 2009 and didn’t want to cellar it at all. It’s a tasty little bugger and a great, classic blend of Cab Sauv, Merlot, Syrah, and Cab Franc. It’s light on the wallet for everyday but big and balanced on your taste buds to pair with really tasty cuts of meat, hearty salads, stinky cheeses, and even chocolate.
Now, that’s a stash you can use. The beautiful part is you get to have wine on demand, and you only need to replenish it as the stash gets low. If I cleaned out my minimal kitchen a bit, I would also keep a few current vintage SoRho (obviously), 2008 Reininger Malbec, and perhaps a 2004 Anomaly for really special dinners. In the meantime, enjoy!
2009 Reininger Syrah
This baby is tasting really really delicious right now. Aromas of soy sauce, sesame oil, plum sauce, blueberry pie and lavender! Silky smooth texture and medium bodied. Flavors of blueberry, black pepper, cumin, orange peel. A spicy wine with nice balance.
2007 Reininger Late Harvest Viognier
Peaches, peaches, peaches! I am particularly enamored with mid-summer peach juice running down my chin, the sweetness and floral notes a fleeting moment of high summer perfection. A rich, concentrated wine, with heady aromas of fresh peach and orange peel, accented with subtle lemon minerality. Smooth and rich on the palate, it is dominated by flavors of peach jam, lavender and honey.
2009 Helix Cabernet Sauvignon
This solid, masculine wine is like diving into a bowl dark cherries (but without the mess). Bright red-garnet color, ripe black cherry, dried plum, and cassis with a kiss of wood spice finishing with lingering fruit and fleshy steak tartar. A sumptuous mouth, as if leaping into a huge pillow of tannins – big and poufy, yet very round and incredibly soft.
2008 Reininger Malbec
If you read our posts, you already know how I feel about this one! Displays a rustic character of leather, earth, mushroom and spice reminiscent of traditional Malbec; perhaps it’s the maturity of the nine year old vines. Finely ground white and black pepper, dried fig, pomegranate, black currant with ripe blackberry flirting in the background satiates my palate along with hints of cocoa and vanilla beans.
2008 Helix SoRho
Of course I’m going to sneak in the SoRho. SO GOOD. The aromas of fresh strawberries and purple Mr. Sketch marker tickle your nose while subtle game, raw meat, and wet gravel follow for interest. Medium bodied with juicy acids and great balance, the SoRho displays beautiful flavors of pepper, pomegranate, dried herbs and just a touch of Framboise.
Now get outside and enjoy the gorgeous weather before it’s gone again!
Our 2008 Reininger Malbec is seriously delicious. So delicious, in fact, that I have been known to use it as a way to bribe people for information (eh hem…just last week). This stew is ridiculously simple and pairs well with our Malbec’s big, sultry flavors, and the combination is impressive enough for guests yet easy enough for your own weeknight dinner. There is nothing but a few pantry items involved, but I will insist that you buy really good quality fresh chorizo. If you’re living in Walla Walla, you’d better know what really good chorizo tastes like. That’s the flavour-maker in this stew and it needs to be a product that’s made with big, powerful flavors that haven’t been sitting around in packaging for weeks (or months). If you can’t find a high quality chorizo, than I’d suggest going with another high quality sausage of your choosing (an Italian would be lovely here – especially if you can find a good spicy one). As well, a good stock makes a big difference in the overall flavor of the soup. Because the ingredients are so few, finding the best ones becomes paramount for an impeccable finished product. The creamy white beans, bold crumbly sausage and savory broth swimming with onions will melt you right to your core.
I was feeling slightly under the weather (a.k.a. hungover) last Sunday and this stew got me right back on track. Warmed my tummy, filled my body with nourishment, and the little kick from the 2008 Reininger Malbec (hair of the dog) never hurts a hangover, does it? Short of moaning on the couch until I’m able to sweat it out with a vigorous yoga practice, this might be the next best hangover cure ever.
Chorizo and White Bean Stew
adapted from Bon Appetit
Serves 4 unless you eat like me
1lb fresh Chorizo
1 large onion, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 cans cannellini (white kidney) beans, rinsed well
2 cups good quality chicken stock
1/2 tsp Smoked paprika (more if desired)
sea salt and fresh ground pepper
4 big handfuls of baby spinach
Drizzle about 1 tbsp of oil into a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and let it cook to a golden brown on all sides and cooked through, about 15 minutes. Remove the sausage to a plate. Turn the heat down a touch to medium and add the onion. Cook until golden brown, 5-6 minutes. Add the garlic and thyme and cook for another minutes. Add the beans, stock, paprika and a few pinches of salt and fresh ground pepper. Use the back of your spoon to crush some of the beans and thicken the stew slightly (option, but gives nice texture). Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Slice the sausage into bite-sized chunks while the stew cooks. Remove from heat, fold in the spinach and sausage until spinach is just wilted. Spoon into bowls and drizzle with moe olive oil and a sprinkle of smoked paprika.