In the Wine Light

In an effort to provide more content to our readers, we’re introducing a new regular feature to our website called “In the Wine Light”. The aim to provide regular wine related content in short posts.

With “In the Wine Light” we will discuss a variety of wine related topics from grape varieties to wine styles to wine and food pairings to wine holidays and more! We’ll also feature the people and places of the local wine scene here in North Carolina.

Let us know what you would like to see In the Wine Light!

#InTheWineLight

In the Wine Light – Sami the Wine Cat

In the Wine Light – Sami the Wine Cat

Sami excited about new wines from Défi Wines by Botanist & Barrel

Sami excited about new wines from Défi Wines by Botanist & Barrel

In the Wine Light is our sweet wine cat, Sami.  Long time followers know Sami as our little photo bomber in our wine photos.  It started by accident, but now, we do try to get her in the shot.  Her fans are sometimes concerned if she’s missing from the photo.

Sami the Wine Cat Relaxing

Sami relaxing before dinner

You’re probably wondering why we’re celebrating Sami this week.  Well, you see, we celebrate Sami’s birthday on November 17th.  We don’t actually know when her birthday is or even how old she is exactly.  Sami is a rescue kitty.  She was saved by the Saving Southern Kitties from a high kill shelter in Greenville, South Carolina.  Her vet records listed November 17th as her birthday, but that might just be the day she was pulled from the shelter.

Sami the Wine Cat loves her boxes

Sami loves her boxes especially when they’re from Chewy.

Saving Southern Kitties is a terrific non-profit organization run by our dear friend, Susan, working to save cats from high kill shelters in the Carolinas.  Based in the Charlotte area, this volunteer organization is top notch and does fantastic work.  Visit their website to find out how to volunteer, donate money, purchase fun kitty merchandise, or see their list of adoptable cats.

Sami the Wine Cat relaxing on the couch

Sami doing on her favorite things – relaxing on the couch

Sami is sweet, a little crazy, and VERY loud.  She always has something to say.  Sami loves laying the sun, sleeping under her blanket on the couch for hours, cardboard boxes, and sitting outside on the patio with her humans.  She adds such joy to our lives.  We hope she has a very happy birthday and a PURR-fect day!

#InTheWineLight #SamiTheWineCat

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In the Wine Light – International Merlot Day

In the Wine Light – International Merlot Day

Merlot Growing at Laurel Gray Vineyards

Merlot Growing at Laurel Gray Vineyards
Photo provided by Kim Myers, Co-Owner, Laurel Gray Vineyards

In the Wine Light is International Merlot Day.  This wine holiday is celebrated annually on November 7th.

Merlot is one of the most widely planted and noble wine grapes in all the world.  It typically is one of first red grapes to bud break, so it sometimes has issues with the late spring frosts we see here in North Carolina.  Due to the earlier bud break, it’s often one of the first red grapes to be harvested.

Merlot hails from Bordeaux and is an offspring of Cabernet Franc making it a sibling to Cabernet Sauvignon, Carménère, and Malbec.  It wasn’t until around 2009 that Merlot’s other parent was discovered via DNA testing.  This obscure variety, Merlot’s mother, is formally known as Magdeleine Noire des Charentes.

Sales of Merlot increased in the 1990s along with other red wines following the airing of the 60 Minutes segment on the French Paradox.  Then sales fell nearly 2% following the release of the 2004 movie Sideways which unfairly degraded Merlot.  Merlot has since made a comeback.

Baby Jack Loves Laurel Gray Merlot

Even babies love merlot! This is Baby Jack with merlot from Laurel Gray Vineyards in 2007. These grapes made a 100% estate wine that later won Best in Show at the NC State Fair Wine Competition.
Photo provided by Kim Myers, Co-Owner, Laurel Gray Vineyards

Merlots are often known for being full bodied with medium tannins.  Classic flavors are black cherry, raspberry, and plum.

There are many delightful Merlots in the state.  Just a few of our favorite include (but not limited to) Merlots from Jones von Drehle Vineyards and Winery, Laurel Gray Vineyards, South Creek Vineyards and Winery, and McRitchie Winery & Ciderworks.

What do you like about Merlot?  How are celebrating this iconic variety?

#MerlotDay #InTheWineLight

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In the Wine Light – Wine Styles for Fall

In the Wine Light – Wine Styles for Fall

In the Wine Light is wine styles for fall.  We don’t know about you, but fall is our favorite season.  Those warms days and cool nights are a welcome respite from the heat and humidity of the long Carolina summer.  

With the change of seasons comes a change in the wines we drink.  Here are some of the favorite kinds of wines we like to enjoy as the days get shorter and the leaves turn their brilliant colors.

Linn Cove Viaduct

Linn Cove Viaduct around Grandfather Mountain along the Blue Ridge Parkway

Rosés – Rosés are typically associated with the warm days of spring and the sweltering hot days of summer, but rosé is also perfect for Fall.  Whether it’s a warm afternoon in the sun or with your Thanksgiving dinner, rosé is always a perfect pairing.

Sparkling Wine – We’re big fans of sparkling wine anytime of year.  Fall is often about celebration with Halloween and Thanksgiving.  Bubbles are a perfect way to start any celebration or a Tuesday night dinner.

Full Bodied and/or Oaked Whites – As the days get cooler it’s usually good to move from those crisp and cold wines of summer into a more full bodied white wine.  Think Petit Manseng or Viognier.  Add a little oak such is in a nice Chardonnay and you have the perfect pairing with fall foods featuring butternut squash or pumpkin.

Light Reds – Light Oaked or No Oak – The weather can still be quite warm in fall and the food typically isn’t as heavy as in winter, so it’s the perfect time for light reds whether they be oaked or not.  Think a Loire Valley Style Cabernet Franc or a nouveau style wine.  A drier muscadine, Chambourcin or Sangiovese are also good choices.

Cider – Who doesn’t love a good fresh apple in fall?  So, why not enjoy a nice cider?  Many apples can pack some good tannins, so ciders can be heftier than you might think.  Cider also pairs well with Thanksgiving dinner.

Mead – Mead is a perfect fall beverage.  From traditional styles to cysers with apple or pear, mead pairs perfectly with warm days, cool nights, sausages on the grill, Thanksgiving turkey and even pumpkin pie.

What wines do you enjoy in fall?  Do you have a favorite fall food and wine pairing?  Leave us a comment and let us know.

Cheers!

#InTheWineLight #WinesForFall #FallWines

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In the Wine Light – North Carolina Cider Week

In the Wine Light – North Carolina Cider Week

Brushy Mountain Limbertwig

Brushy Mountain Limbertwig Apple – This variety is thought to have originated in the Brushy Mountains of NC.

In the Wine Light is North Carolina Cider Week.  We celebrate NC Cider Week annually during October or November.  This year October 19th – 25th has been designated as a week to honor North Carolina Cider!

So, what is cider exactly?  Here, we’re obviously discussing what’s commonly called “hard cider”.  This cider at its most basic level is fermented apple juice.  

Similar to making wine from grapes, cider is made from crushing apples and fermenting the juice.  The sugar content of apples is lower than grapes, so ciders are typically lower in alcohol than wines.  To make apple wine, sugar is typically added in fermentation to allow for wine like alcohol.

Here in North Carolina, many cider apples are sourced from the Hendersonville area and from the Brushy Mountains in Wilkes and Alexander Counties.  Cider producers range from those in the mountains to the southern piedmont to urban areas like Charlotte and Durham.

So, how do you celebrate NC Cider Week?  By drinking a locally grown and produced NC Cider, of course!  You can also celebrate by visiting local cideries and by attending the NC Cider Week Sip and Meet on Saturday, October 24th at the Chatham Beverage District in Pittsboro.  This event will feature cideries from the Piedmont of NC.

Cheers!

#InTheWineLight #NCCiderWeek #NCCider

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In the Wine Light – Drink Local Wine Week

In the Wine Light – Drink Local Wine Week

In the Wine Light is Drink Local Wine Week.  Drink Local Wine Week is celebrated annually during the second full week of October, so for 2020, the dates are October 11th – 17th.

This week started in 2008 by the Drink Local Wine organization to encourage wine writers and bloggers to write about and celebrate local wines. The organization has since taken a break, but this week long celebration has continued annually.

Local wine means different things to different people.  Some say a wine is local if it’s sold locally.  Some say it’s local if it’s produced locally.  And still others say it’s local only if it’s both sourced from locally grown products (grapes, other fruits, honey) AND locally produced.  We have some thoughts on that in another post.

Whatever you consider a local wine, celebrate with a local wine or two this week and tell others about it.

Support Local #NCWine

And if you want to join the conversation about local North Carolina Wine, join our new Facebook group, Support Local North Carolina Wine – #NCWine!

Cheers!

#InTheWineLight #DrinkLocalWineWeek #DrinkLocal

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In the Wine Light – Orange Wine Week

In the Wine Light – Orange Wine Week

Orange Wine Flavors Courtesy of Wine Folly

Orange Wine Flavors Courtesy of Wine Folly

In the Wine Light is Virtual Orange Wine Week.  This day was originally started by Amanda Clair Goodwin (known at The Real Housewine) in 2018 as National Orange Wine Day to be celebrated annually on October 6th.  This year it has been expanded to a whole week to be celebrated from October 5th – 10th.

The goal of National Orange Wine Day and now Virtual Orange Wine Week is to according to the day’s website, “bring greater awareness to this beautiful, yet lesser-known style of wine in a way that is nonjudgmental, unintimidating, and inclusive.” 

So, you may be thinking what is Orange Wine?  No, we’re not talking wine made from oranges.  We’re talking about a white wine made from white grapes.  With orange wine, unlike traditional white wine where the skins are removed, the pressed juice remains on the skins to ferment for days to weeks or even months.  This gives the resulting wine an orange hue.

Orange wines are more bold and complex than many white wines.  They might have flavors not typically associated with white wine.  Also, they can be more tannic due to the contact with the grape skins.  Orange wines are thought of have originated in what is now the country of Georgia.

Have you had an orange wine?  Some past and current producers of orange wine in North Carolina are Sanctuary Vineyards in Jarvisburg, McRitchie Winery & Ciderworks in Thurmond, DéFi Wines (Botanist & Barrel) in Cedar Grove, and Lazy Elm Vineyard & Winery in Mocksville.

#InTheWineLight #NationalOrangeWineDay #VirtualOrangeWineWeek

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In the Wine Light – Virginia Wine Month

In the Wine Light – Virginia Wine Month

RdV Vineyards in Delaplane, VA

RdV Vineyards in Delaplane, VA

In the Wine Light is Virginia Wine Month.  October is designated as Virginia Wine Month.  Outside of North Carolina, Virginia is one of favorite American wine regions.

Virginia’s wine history dates back nearly 400 years.  Just 12 years after the first English settlement at Jamestown, the Virginia House of Burgesses passed “Acte 12”.  This act required each male colonist to plant and tend to grapevines.  Later in 1773, the Virginia Wine Company formed and devoted nearly 2,000 acres of land to start a vineyard and winery near Monticello.  (Source:  VirginiaWine.org)

Today Virginia boasts over 300 wineries, 8 American Viticultural Areas (with two shared with other states), and nearly 3000 acres under vine.  Plantings include Vinifera, hybrids, and native American grapes.  Much like North Carolina, Petit Manseng, Petit Verdot, and Cabernet Franc do well in Virginia. Albariño is also another up and coming variety that is getting more attention in Virginia.

We look forward to highlighting a few Virginia wines this month.  Do you have a favorite Virginia wine?

#InTheWineLight #VAWine #VAWineMonth

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In the Wine Light – How to Hold A Wine Glass

In the Wine Light – How to Hold A Wine Glass

The Incorrect & Correct Way to Hold a Wine Glass

In the Wine Light is the proper way to hold a wine glass.  Yeah.  We know.  You’re probably thinking, “There’s a right way to hold a wine glass?”  The answer is absolutely YES!

You should always hold your wine glass by the stem near the base.  There are two main reasons why this is true.

  1.  You won’t get greasy finger prints on the bowl of your glass.
  2. The most important reason though is that your wine will stay cooler longer if you don’t put your warm hands on the bowl.

There may be cases where you do want to warm up your wine.  Perhaps you’re drinking an oaked chardonnay that’s been in the refrigerator.  A few good swirls with your hands cupping the bowl can certainly make your wine taste better.  But as a general rule the stem is the way to go.

So, now you’re probably thinking, “What about stemless glasses?”  Well, in our opinion, they make lovely water glasses but terrible wine glasses.  So, stick to the stemmed glass!  

Cheers!

#InTheWineLight

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In the Wine Light – International Grenache Day

In the Wine Light – International Grenache Day

Grenache growing at Jones Von Drehle Vineyards and Winery

Grenache growing at Jones Von Drehle Vineyards and Winery – Photo Courtesy of Jones von Drehle

In the Wine Light is International Grenache Day.  This wine holiday is celebrated yearly on the third Friday in September.  In 2020, that falls on September 18th.

Grenache Day celebrates the red grape Grenache as it’s known in France.  In Spain, it’s known as Garnacha and is one of the most widely planted grapes in the world.

Grenache typically thrives in a hot, dry climate and is believed to have originated in what is now northern Spain.  It is also widely grown in the southern Rhône Valley in France where it makes up to 80% of Châteauneuf-du-Pape blends along with primarily Syrah and Mourvèdre.  Grenache is also used to make rosés with is being the predominant variety in the famous rosés of Tavel.

Grenache is not widely grown in North Carolina.  Jones von Drehle Vineyards and Winery currently uses their Grenache solely for their dry rosé, Rosa Dia.  Hanover Park Vineyard has a small planting used for blending.  Junius Lindsay Vineyard uses Grenache as an occasional standalone wine but mostly for blending in both reds and rosés.  MenaRick Vineyard and Winery also grows Grenache and has a single varietal of Grenache available.

What do you like about Grenache?  Would you like to see more Grenache grown in North Carolina?

#GrenacheDay #InTheWineLight

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In the Wine Light – National Honey Month

In the Wine Light – National Honey Month

Honeybees

In the Wine Light is National Honey Month.  September is National Honey Month.  Started in 1989 by the National Honey Board, National Honey Month celebrates all things honey.  September was chosen because honey collection typically concludes in September as honey bees are readying their hives for winter.

You’re probably wondering –  what does this have to do with wine?  Well, honey can be fermented into wine by adding water and yeast.  That’s the traditional recipe for mead.  Mead is a fantastic addition to your wine collection whether just to enjoy or to pair with your favorite foods. 

Mead is made in a variety of styles from traditional to melomel (a mead that  contains fruit) to braggot (a mead made with hops or malt) to cyser (a mead make with apple juice or cider) to pyment (a mead made with grapes or grape juice) and many more.  While many people assume mead is always sweet since honey is so sweet, that’s not always the case.  Meads range from dry to off-dry to sweet.  Alcohol content can range from under 4% to nearly 18% ABV.

NC Mead Alliance

We’re fortunate to have many great mead producers in North Carolina.  So, check out the NC Mead Alliance to learn more about mead, and be sure to go visit a local meadery!

#InTheWineLight #NationalHoneyMonth #NCMead

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In the Wine Light – International Cabernet Day

In the Wine Light – International Cabernet Day

Cabernet Sauvignon at Hanover Park Vineyard - Yadkinville, NC

Cabernet Sauvignon at Hanover Park Vineyard – Yadkinville, NC

In the Wine Light is International Cabernet Day.  This wine holiday is celebrated on the Thursday before Labor Day.  In 2020, that falls on September 3rd, but it can occur in late August or early September depending on the year.

So, is Cabernet Day for Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, or both?  It seems that most folks celebrate Cabernet Sauvignon on this day, but we don’t see any reason why we can’t celebrate Cabernet Franc too.  After all, without Cabernet Franc crossing with Sauvignon Blanc, we wouldn’t have Cabernet Sauvignon!

Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the most widely planted and noble wine grapes in all the world.  It typically bud breaks later, so it isn’t subject to as many issues with the late spring frosts we see here in North Carolina.  Due to the later bud break, it’s often one of the last grapes to be harvested.

Cabs are often known for being full bodied with big tannins.  Old World Cabernets and those we find on the East Coast tend to be softer and more delicate.  Both have should have their place in your wine rack.

There are many delightful Cabernet Sauvignons in the state.  Just a few of our favorite include (but not limited to) Cabs from Overmountain Vineyards, Jones von Drehle Vineyards and Winery, Laurel Gray Vineyards, South Creek Vineyards and Winery, and Hanover Park Vineyard.

What do you like about Cabernet?  How are celebrating this iconic variety?

#CabernetDay #InTheWineLight

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In the Wine Light

In the Wine Light

An Introduction

In an effort to provide more content to our readers, we’re introducing a new regular feature to our website called “In the Wine Light”. The aim to provide regular wine related content in short posts.

With “In the Wine Light” we will discuss a variety of wine related topics from grape varieties to wine styles to wine and food pairings to wine holidays and more! We’ll also feature the people and places of the local wine scene here in North Carolina.

Let us know what you would like to see In the Wine Light!

Posted by Joe Brock in In the Wine Light, 0 comments