My Grandma always told me that you cant judge a book by its cover. She also always told me to never stick anything in my ear smaller than my elbow.
Snappy marketing is a must for new wines these days and I can tell you that the wines that grab the consumer’s eye are the ones that sell. It seems like clever, fun, and artsy wine labels have come into wider popularity in the last five years or so before that we had a boom of inexpensive wines branded with an entire arks spectrum of adorable animals surrounded by bright colors.
First of all, don’t forget to check out the list of wines we’ve got on sale this month. Some of the wines listed are in short supply and only available at some stores. Also be sure to check the eventspage for information on upcoming tastings and other events throughout the month.
Adventures In Consumerism, Ravioli, and Rosso di Montalcino
My girlfriend and I recently entered a new level of commitment in our relationship: together we joined one of those membership-required, bulk-buy, warehouse-style superstores. After several hours of grueling shopping and waiting in line and carrying 32-packs of soda up the stairs to our apartment, we looked over our mountain of newly acquired foodstuffs, and she asked me, Well, what do you want for dinner?
For years, I worked as a wineconsultant on the sales floor at the Highland Park Binny’s store. This time of year, I’d find myself repeating this same conversationmany times a day:
“Where is the Kosher wine section?” a customer would ask.
“Right over here, sir.” I’d reply. “Let me show you.”
The customer would then ask: “Are any of these Kosher wines any good?”
The customer would pause, take in the wall of kosher wines, side to side, and then ask:
Last Saturday night was movie night at my apartment. We watched the 2008 film Bottle Shock,” which retells the story of the 1976 Judgment of Paris, essentially California’s entrance into the global wine markets. What I thought might become required viewing for anyone in the world of wine turned out to be a copy/paste love-triangle romance tied in with a classic underdog story which references the world of 1976 Napa instead of existing within it. Apart from Alan Rickman playing Steven Spurrier, the acting is lame. At least it’s pretty they get their money’s worth out of the helicopter they rented with all the swooping through the air above the vineyard shots. From a wine-guy perspective, you’ll get more from the 1976 Time Magazine article than from this film.
But then, I’m not a film critic; I’m a wine bloggist.
Attention beer lovers! Bell’s Oberon has been released! The blue and orange six pack sparks memories of going to the cottage with a cooler full of ice cold Bell’s Oberon and Three Floyd’s Gumballhead. It is still pretty chilly outside, but to me Oberon being released is a sign that good times are ahead. Gumballhead is available year round (thank goodness) and tastes better and better as the weather gets warmer and warmer.
Throughout most of the 1900s, Old Style krausened their beer, but ditched this traditional German brewing process in the early 90s, only to recently return to krausening their beer. Old Style has seen a decline in sales, and hopes that their new krausening campaign will spark sales and elevate their beer to premium status alongside Bud and Miller products. The only problem is that premium status will carry a premium price tag, causing the used to be $14.99 Old Style 30- pack to now be a $16.99 24- pack.
In my eyes, Old Style took a huge gamble in changing the face of their brand and created a double edged sword. In talking to customers at Binnys and reading several articles on websites like beeradvocate, I have come across mixed reviews. Some say that the “new” Old Style is much better than the old stuff, and they are content with the change. Others say that they have compared the “old” and “new” Old Style side by side and say it tastes exactly the same, and it was just an excuse for Old Style to take out 6 cans from the package and raise the price by a couple bucks.
Yesterday night I did a four vintage vertical of North Coast Brewerys Old Stock Ale with Don Niestrom, a sales associate from Binnys in Willowbrook. The funny thing is that neither Don nor I were involved in any sort of aging or cellaring when it came to these beers. What happened is that a case of Old Stock Ale sent to Binnys in Willowbrook had a four- pack of the 06, 07, 08, and two 09 four-packs. We did a simple switcheroo and suddenly there were four four-packs loaded with four vintage verticals. This is a dream come true for beer lovers, and the four-packs were all accounted for before the end of the day. We were hoping the case we ordered for the following week would be loaded with different vintages, but it came with all 09s in it. I dont know the story of the mysterious case, but I do know it was a gift from the heavens. So Don stopped by after work, I popped a pizza in the oven, and we got to work.
In the spirit of California month, I attended the Paso Robles Grand Tasting Tour’s Chicago stop last night. Twenty four wineries were represented, presenting wines from this growing AVA, situated halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Wines styles from the area generally have a focus mostly on Rhone grape varieties from petit sirah, to Rhone-style blends (both red and white) to stranger non-traditional kitchen sink blends, and a little bit of zinfandel. They come across as new-world in nature, showing lots of velvety fruit, vanilla, cocoa and baking spice without the overwhelming tannin and gamy qualities of their old-world counterparts.
I’m sure you know that March is California Wine Month here at Binny’s. Be sure to check our events page to see upcoming events at all 21 Chicagoland Binny’s locations – California themed or not – and don’t miss out on our huge California Wine Adventure event at Drury Lane coming up on Sunday, March 15th. And of course, take a glace at our March Members Specials. Some of the items listed are available in limited quantities.
Toward the end of a recent recent tasting, I looked up over a glass of particularly fantastic wine, and to a friend – seated across the table, whose opinion I value and respect I said, Wow, this is a particularly fantastic wine. His quick response was, For sixty five dollars, it had better be good. And of course, he is completely right.
New to Binny’s is Napa Station a brand new venture by wine industry veteran Peter K. Huwiler. Though the press I’ve found surrounding Napa Station uses phrases like sustainably farmed and food friendly, I would describe them more like this: Napa Station makes affordable, immediately drinkable wines with enough complexity to remain interesting. The fruit for these wines is sourced from throughout Napa County.