Strey Cellars

Author Archives: Katie

Blending

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In the past, I have talked a lot about single grape varietals. Strey Cellars initially focused on these solo red varietals, since they tend to be our favorites, however, here we are approaching our sixth anniversary and things have changed. While initially, it was really important for Strey to make a name for itself in Ventura County, CA with wines that were 100% single origin; whether it be Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel, or Syrah. We have been proud of our big California style wines and have enjoyed sharing them in the tasting room. In 2013 our winemaker, Scott tried his hand at a blend, you may have heard of it? Slanted… at the time we weren’t sure how our customers would react to a blend because some people have a very “snooty” attitude towards wine blends. You see, there is this idea that it’s “easy” to make a good blend and it takes more skill to create a great single varietal. I can see why this idea is popular, however, it is important to note that wine is good, if you like it. There certainly are different expectations and bars to reach, as well as specific tasting notes that correlate to certain varietals, but ultimately, you should like what you’re drinking. Strey wines have been awarded many times with gold, silver and bronze medals in various wine competitions, we still urge you to taste and make your own decisions.

Often when you are drinking a wine that has a label with only one varietal listed, that isn’t entirely true. Legally a winemaker can add up to 25% of another varietal to enhance the color, nose or mouthfeel. Over the years I have come to appreciate the way Scott knows which flavor profiles compliment each other whether it’s choosing the tasting lineup, food pairing, or blending. Scott trusts his palate, and so do we. When we released our 2013 Slanted, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Tannat, Syrah, and Zinfandel, we blew our own minds. I think that’s when I started to become a believer in blending magic. In fact, thanks to such a widely loved wine, Scott began to experiment with other blends. Remember Cynder? That stacked, packed Barbera Blend? We also released a GSM (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre) with a little twist, the Mourvedre was a Rosé. It was such a lovely light GSM, and I personally held a place in my heart for it because during my first harvest at Strey, I helped out with the Grenache. That’s when I learned not to wear cute clothes to work during Harvest. Since our GSM, we created Slanted 2.0, and had our first “blending party”.

What is a blending party, you might be asking yourself? It’s when the winemaker invites wine club members, employees and friends with wine knowledge to taste different varietals that have not been bottled yet. We also blend some of these wines together to make blends that we think are worth bottling. With Harvest over, Scott’s next project is prepping for a massive two day bottling scheduled for the first weekend in April. That means everything gets racked and adjusted, we create Slanted 3.0 and also a handful of limited edition blends that we don’t even plan on bottling. A few months ago we installed a tap system in the tasting room. So during OUR blending party we were tasked with creating blends that we can pour by the glass as small production tasting room exclusives! Eventually we will introduce a growler program so you can take these blend gems home. Scott gave us each a few pages to write out our tasting notes, and a few bottles of wine he had just pulled from barrels… I think there were 8 or 10 wines. Scott walked us through the rules of blending so we weren’t just pouring random wines into glasses. We were tasting, meticulously blending, and recording our experiments. Scott had an idea of the types of blends he wanted, gave us a few guidelines, and let us get to work. He wanted a Zin Blend, a Zin/PetiteSirah Blend, a Bordeaux Blend, a Cab/Syrah Blend and our best creative concoction.

After many trails (and so much math you guys!), we bottled the top contestants and let them settle for a couple weeks. Over the next month or so, Scott, Katie and I took some time to open the blends, and taste them blindly (which means we numbered the blends, but none of us knew who had created which blend) to decide which blends were going to make the cut.

Since last harvest we focused solely on white wines, we decided to create a white blend that we will be calling Inclined (the perfect compliment to Slanted). This was such a fun day for me because months before I had helped Scott rack the whites, and tasted them when they were just weeks old. This time, while we tasted, I was able to take notes in order to write the labels for all the bottles, and weigh in on blend options. I can’t wait to share these wines with all of you! It is so satisfying to be a part of each of the stages of wine making, and winery life. While my true love is writing, I am giddy about the opportunity to introduce you to these creations in the tasting room.

New Year, New You

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Sometimes I write these blogs, and I feel like I’m writing one of those holiday letters that your grandma sends out yearly. You know, the ones you anxiously read to find out if Grandma outed anyone’s divorce, or simply to see if you even made the cut? Well, I won’t be outing anyone today, but I sure do feel like I have a lot to update my Strey Family on!

Does anyone else feel like they’ve bit off more than they can chew in 2020? Even though I am not much of a “resolution” person, I absolutely feel the energetics of the new decade. All around me people are letting go of old habits, posting sweaty gym selfies, sharing inspirational quotes, and de-cluttering their homes. Katie and I both went full Marie Kondo on not only our houses, but at Strey Cellars. There is nothing like a new year to light a fire under your a$$ to get rid of whatever isn’t working. At home I found that my 11 year old has had to donate most of her closet because all of her jeans are high waters, and she has completely put her foot down regarding wearing dresses, or boots. (Is she even mine? That’s like my entire wardrobe!)

At Strey we painstakingly updated our inventory and to our surprise found 5 pallets of 2014 Old Vine Zinfandel!!!!! Our ’14 OVZ is one of our absolute favorites, but the reality of moving that many bottles when we are about to have a massive bottling in April, is just unrealistic. We don’t have enough space in our barrel room to justify storing THAT much wine… especially when you could be drinking it! So, we thought we would surprise you with a ridiculous deal: Half price bottles of 2014 Old Vine Zin, and YES, you may purchase by the case! That’s not the only new deal, We also found a pallet of 2013 Tannat hiding among-st the cases! Our 2013 Tannat is the very same Tannat that we used to make the original (2013) Slanted. Many of you chose to visit Strey Cellars based on the fact that we even had a Tannat on the tasting list. If you’re a fan, you’re in luck, we will be selling ’13 Tannat at half off as well!

To top off these New Year deals, we are also offering 2011 Durif by the case, for $100 out the door! (Durif is the original name for Petit Syrah, named for the botanist, Francois Durif who crossed Syrah and Peloursin grapes in the 1880’s. It wasn’t very popular in France, but people loved it in California; however the nickname, “Petit Syrah” stuck, and that’s how we know it today.) This Durif will make a delicious sangria, so stock up, we live in SoCal, summer weather is just around the corner!

I know a lot of you came in last weekend to take advantage of these deals, it was so fun to see faces I have not seen in a while, and, of course lovely to see some of our regulars! You guys know it means the word to me whenever you come in. I definitely feel lucky to have a job that feels more like socializing. For those of you who have already finished your cases, I hope to see you this weekend to restock those wine fridges, and for the rest of you, I KNOW you shared all your wine during the holidays and this is just the excuse you’ve been looking for to pop by Strey!

Clearing out our inventory is not the only big change for Strey, as of 2020, we have revamped our tasting sheets. Traditional and Signature Series line-ups have merged. We will have a set line up that will cycle through weekly, to give each wine a fair chance to be tasted and loved (because if it were up to me I’d have Cab Franc on the list every. single. day.). We chose the new order specifically to include include and feature one Signature Series varietal among five other Strey staples. AND I am excited for you to see our new tasting sheet holders! We have plans to revitalize our tasting room, by making it more comfortable with new seating arrangements and a generally more cozy feel. We want you to hang out, and we are working hard to create an atmosphere that continues to make you feel invited to spend time with us. Strey is such a special place, and in all honesty, you are our priority. Our members mean the world to us, so “Be our guest, put our service to the test!” While we are kind of re-branding, you will not lose the integrity and familiarity of Strey Cellars, instead we are enhancing what works, and leaving what doesn’t in 2019.

Lastly, but certainly not least, wine club memebers, mark your calendars! We are rolling out a new Pick Up Party format that you don’t want to miss! A swanky evening. Dress your best. Cocktail attire encouraged. The evening begins with a complimentary charcuterie spread and nosh followed by a Welcome and Winemaker Exclusive. We will reveal upcoming events and developments, then taste our new releases. As a special bonus, Scott will introduce “wine-in-the-making” with a barrel sample. Enjoy open tasting from 8-9p, then $5 glasses with a DJ and dancing from 9-10p. Be sure to RSVP through Eventbrite. If you’re a wine club member, your tickets are complementary, guests tickets are $15 each. We can’t wait to party with you!!! Being a club member has it’s perks (wink wink).

If new years do anything they encourage you: to be the best you, to have clarity, see yourself from a different perspective, decide who you are, decide how you want to be seen as and let go of old stories. As Strey makes strides to upgrade and really become more “Strey”, I ask you the same questions we asked each other during our 8am staff meetings: Who are you now? How can you shine, and be more you than you’ve ever been? What do you want people to think of when they think of you? How are you living your truest self? What doesn’t have to be true anymore? We have taken these questions very seriously, are thrilled to reintroduce ourselves to you. May you do the same.

Santa, Baby

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It’s hard to believe it’s nearly the end of the year, Christmas and Hanukah are days away, it feels like a mad dash to this finish line, which really is just a new beginning. So many of our customers and members make it a point to pop in during December because Strey truly transforms into a Winter Wonderland. Even for those of us who identify with the term “Ba Humbug”, can’t help but to be amazed by the twinkle lights, suspended Christmas tree, Secret Santa Sacks, and ugly sweater donning wine bottles. It truly feels like the North Pole when you step foot inside Strey Cellars these days! It’s snowman weather, for sure, making it a great excuse to wear cozy sweaters, fluffy socks and snuggly scarves. The wine particularly loves this temperature! If you’re one of those winos who prefers to always keep your wine in the fridge, look no further! This is the best tasting season!

Wine is a staple for holiday meals, and parties, at least in my adult life, I have come to see that it is more than normal, it is a necessity. (This came as something of a surprise though, because I was raised in a household that never had alcohol in the home, for any occasion. You can imagine how proud my family is of my profession.) Whether it’s bringing a bottle of wine as a hostess gift, or pairing specific bottles with special meals, to gifting your favorite wine to a loved one, wine can be an easy grab and go gift, or a well thought out, personalized present. Wine is an experience, it’s meant to be shared, but we totally don’t judge you for enjoying your favorite bottle solo. (Isn’t it the worst when people throw back a glass of your most prized bottle as if it’s water?!) While it’s true that not everyone appreciates wine, you know where to find me!

It may only be mid December, but it’s not too early to begin considering your New Year resolutions. As a small Ventura County business, I have a few ideas of practical and fun goals for 2020. First of all, MORE LOCAL WINE! This can be very easily and affordably achieved by purchasing one of our Secret Santa Sacks. Each sack is unique, I know this because I personally filled each sack. You will find one Slanted, three Library Wines (library wines are special wines we no longer sell in the tasting room because we have very low inventory.) and two other mystery bottles from the tasting room. The Secret Santa Sacks are only $120, and reserved for wine club members. The fun part is that I know what’s in each box, but it’ll be a surprise for you! Making your rounds to local wineries means the world to us, we are always recommending wineries that we love, and are so excited when you step through our doors. This is one of those resolutions that gives you bonus points when you bring your friends. The more the merrier!

Your second New Year Resolution is: be more social. You can get a head start on this by coming to our New Year’s Eve party! We had so much fun last year with Funny Girl Event’s NYE comedy show, we were sure to booked them a year in advance to make sure we had first dibs on their funny! We love them and know you do too. Even though I am in the tasting room serving, I can’t help but to giggle at the jokes that drift down the hallway. Steph Clark (company owner) prides herself on quality comics right out of LA and she doesn’t disappoint. Not only do we have a great evening planned, but your ticket includes a champagne toast at an 9PM East Coast Countdown! That’s right, we plan this event to end just in time for you to make it to your next New Year’s Eve party with plenty of time to celebrate before midnight. Or, ample time to Uber home to get into your pajamas and kiss your sweetheart in the comfort of your home.

Lastly, say yes to new wines! Whether it be a wine you have never tasted, or an unconventional style, I challenge you to taste white wines, even if you’ve never liked one. I encourage you not to skip a wine you have only tried once, or don’t like the sound of. Open your heart and tastebuds to the endless possibilities that just may grace your glass. The new year is the time to break habits, and step out of your comfort zone. So, dare I say, “Taste the Merlot.”? Also, have I ever steered you wrong? I mean, have you even tasted our Signature Series yet?

Whatever the holidays have in store, I personally want to leave you with my deep thanks. To each of you who follow this blog, and share your thoughts with me: Thank you, your support keeps me writing. To all of you who have visited Strey Cellars, and spent time with me, tasting through our list, or enjoyed a glass of wine: You have no idea how how much those interactions have enriched my life. To our wine club members: Thank you for your consistent support, unwavering loyalty, and true friendships. Within the last year wine a wine club member brought in an engagement ring to show me before he popped the question, two wine club members secretly told me they were pregnant before telling anyone else, and one of you came in to tell me that you were cancer free. I have held your hands when you’ve cried, and poured another glass to celebrate, I have held your newborn babies, and sold you the bottle that christened your new home. Thank you for giving me these gifts. Merry EVERYTHING,

Justine

Author’s note: My name is Justine and I have been working in the tasting room at Strey Cellars for over four years. We are a small family owned local boutique winery. If this is your first visit to my blog, you’ll notice that I write as if we are old friends, because this is the energy of our winery. Come visit sometime, and see for yourself. If you enjoyed this blog, please share it with a friend. Cheers!

A Day in the Life of a Winemaker: Racking

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I used to imagine a winemakers life was so glamorous. Sauntering through the neatly kept isles of vines, plucking sun-kissed grapes, as shadows stretch across the soil. Pulling samples of wine from barrels, tasting the fruits of their labor, breathing in the rich aromas. Waling into the winery during harvest to be greeted with that scent of yeasts and fruit… How exciting it must be to walk through the doors of the tasting room, being congratulated on a lovely vintage by wine club members and customers, basking in their creations.

And then I worked my first harvest. Four years ago I was so giddy with the thought of helping to make wine, I am not sure what I expected, maybe a combination of Lucy stomping grapes, and an assembly line of endless bottles that couldn’t be corked fast enough so I would just have to drink them? First of all, to my great disappointment, there was no stomping. Turns out I am grateful for the lack of stomping, because you have to do A LOT of stomping. It actually would not be so bad if you’re trying to get your “steps” in, I guess. Also, harvest isn’t when you bottle, so the overflowing wine I had imagined was more like lots of sticky juice. It was still magical in it’s own way. Just more, sciency, and physical.

What I also was not prepared for is all of the work throughout the year. Now, you all know that my job is primarily pouring tastings and selling wine, not being a cellar rat; however, a few weeks ago, during our staff meeting, I volunteered to help Scott for the day (I may or may not have been a couple glasses of bubbles in at the time). After all these years I had a basic idea of what we would be doing, but this was like a hands on interview. I shadowed Scott, and I literally mean I followed him everywhere the entire day. I was worried I would slow him down, but he claims I was helpful. In fact, I am shocked that he is able to do these things without help.

It was a racking day. Racking is when you remove all of the wine from a barrel, using a pump to suck the wine out while leaving behind only the sediment. Sediment, also known as called “Lees”, which are deposits of dead or residual yeast and tartrates that are left over after fermentation. Racking allows us to clean out the sediment and sludge that sinks to the bottom of the barrels. Sometimes you will still find some sediment (which looks like wine crystals) in your bottle, that’s not a bad thing, but it’s not aesthetically pleasing. Racking helps to filter and avoid having too much sediment left behind.

Racking is also very helpful when you have several barrels of the same vintage and varietal, ideally you want this wine to taste the same. Each barrel has a mind of it’s own, it may breathe differently, or you may be using barrels what are made of different types of oak, which will bring different flavor profiles. If a barrel isn’t new, it still carries some imprints of the wine before it, not that it will taste like the previous wine, but it may give a slight uniqueness, or begin malolactic fermentation on it’s own time. Often, winemakers will combine the barrels, for a more balanced wine. Even if you did the exact same thing with each barrel, the wine is not guaranteed to taste exactly the same. We use big totes that can hold enough wine for a few barrels, letting it merge, which serves two purposes. We now have the opportunity to clean out the barrels, and all the wine tastes the same when we refill them.

But I am ahead of myself, before we could even begin racking, we had to prepare the space by pulling down giant hoses, attach them to a pump, and clean them with a three step system. First we run a mild cleaning agent called proxy through the hoses, then citric acid, which sanitizes (citric acid is naturally occurring in grapes, so in the event that there is any left in the tubes, it’s not a problem), and finally water to make sure everything is rinsed out. Then, we cleaned out the empty steel tanks that we were going to be filling, which are heavy and awkward. Scott taught me how to use a pallet jack: I ran over my toe, made a 12 point turn, and felt like that contraption goes against my natural driving impulses! I’m pretty sure Scott held himself back from laughing at my frustration. I am not a fan, but I plan to become the master of the pallet jack by the time I write my last entry in “A Day in the Life of a Winemaker series” (yes, I plan to write a few of these, to give you an idea of what goes into wine making, and for my personal experience.)

The next part was a bit tricky. We didn’t want to disturb the wine, because that might cause the sediment to unsettle and it would defeat the purpose of racking. The reason this was tricky, in this case, was because we had a cold storage container outside which is where the whites had been cold settling. So we needed to move the pump outside in order for one end of the hose to reach all the way to the back of the cold storage container, and the other end had to reach inside the barrel room. Normally we would perform these tasks inside the production and barrel room. Once we had the the hoses arranged, we began pumping the wine.

Another perk in racking is being given the opportunity to taste the wine. We can call it quality control. Scott and I were racking all of our whites. It gave me a somewhat rare opportunity to have a private tasting with a winemaker. While I was too short to see into most of the steel barrels, I was able to see how the wine looked in the glass, some of the wines had a cloudiness, which will clear up during the fining process in few weeks. As the wine was being pumped we were able to lean the barrels over so I could see the differences in sediment, which was interesting to me. I imagined sediment was all the same, but it’s not; depending on the grapes, and the yeasts, they do their own thing. So, while one barrel had more of a milky, smooth sediment, another barrel had actual pieces and flakes at the bottom. Even though they looked a little funny, they all tasted delicious in their own ways. It was evident that there were different varietals, Gewurtztraminer was deliciously sweet and fruity, I don’t tend to like sweet wines, but the nose is already so lovely, I can imagine sipping on this alongside a spicy curry. We tasted two different Chardonnay’s because Scott is going a more traditional route with oak on 2 barrels, and the rest are in steel barrels. It’s very early in the process, so the ones that are in oak are not showing it yet, however they taste fruity and chardonnay-y. The steel barrel of Chardonnay doesn’t strike me as Chardonnay, so I am curious to see how it grows into itself. I have always felt like Chardonnay is so distinct, while this tastes like a yummy white wine that I could not quite place. In it’s defense, it’s only a few weeks old. The Viognier is delightful, just give me more, already! It’s floral and fruity, and oh-so drinkable! Sauvignon Blanc to me tasted exactly perfect, it had a hint of grassiness, but it wasn’t overpowering, just enough to say, “Hey, I’m a Sauv Blanc”, the nose makes you want to dive into the glass, it has a sweetness to the nose, but finishes dry and refreshing. The last white we racked was Torrontes, I had never tasted one before, so I did not have anything to compare it to. It was aromatic and floral, I look forward to pouring it in the tasting room! Those wines were not the only thing I tasted, I also had a sip of Viognier sediment, which didn’t taste bad, and goes to prove that it’s totally safe to have sediment in your wine. It may not look appealing, it might even be crunchy, and you certainly don’t have to drink it, but it’s just a natural part of wine. Nothing to be afraid of.

Luckily, all those tastes of wine kept us energized in between cleaning out steel barrels, and reorganizing our indoor cold storage room. (Which will make racking easier next time around, and also, I’m a pro now.) There is a lot of prep time and clean up on racking days, call me Cinderella. Just kidding, Katie called me into the tasting room to help out because it was so busy, so I got out of half the cleaning. But really, it’s a very physical job, and timing is everything. If Scott looks exhausted when you see him, it’s because his job IS exhausting. And it’s not just physically draining, it’s mentally challenging. There is so much to remember, Scott keeps binders filled with notes on each wine. He is meticulous about dates, and even notes when he racked. The benefit of this is to have a log to look back on in the future, if a wine is remarkable, he will want to recreate it as closely as possible. This also avoids accidents, like overfeeding a wine during the fermentation process. It may also help Scott to free up some head-space.

I am looking forward to my next hands-on experience with wine making. It is such a different type of exposure to be able to ask specific questions, and be a part of answering those questions. I was able to see, touch and taste to find answers, as well as have a very patient teacher. I felt like parts of the world of wine were being opened up to me, connecting pieces of the winemaker’s story. I hope I was able to give you all a glimpse of the magical world of wine, and some fun insight into our behind the scenes adventures.

Nice Package

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When you take your first steps into the wine world, it can be extremely overwhelming. Especially if you have not had much experience with wine in your life. There is this daunting energy that can be put off based on movies where wealthy people order obscenely expensive bottles of wine that are 200 years old, from an ancient winery in the South of France. I see a lot of wine misrepresentation in movies, and it frustrates me a little bit, because it’s sends this message that good wine has to be expensive and old. I don’t want to burst your bubble, but I am going to do you a favor, stop pining over ancient wines… and stop “laying down” your bottles of California wine. That $1,100 bottle of wine is not even drinkable, while yes, there was a time that wine was made to be laid down for years and years, that is no longer the popular style, and 98% of wine is intended to be consumed within 5 years. In that 5 five years will your wine age (or change in flavor profile)? Yes, there most likely will be a difference, this largely depends on it’s closure. Corks transfer oxygen, and I know we always say how we avoid oxygenating the wine, but corks are just breathable enough to create an appropriate OTR (oxygen transmission rate), which aids in graceful aging of the wine. This being said, a lot of wineries are experimenting, or have completely switched over to screw caps. I felt some of you cringe just now. Upon doing some research (meaning I tasted a bunch of wine, while reading a plethora of wine articles), I found that screw caps are surprisingly useful, and you can get different liners because the cap itself doesn’t act as a cork, it’s the liner at the top that delivers oxygen at certain rates. You can choose specific liners based on how much aging you want. Most white wines don’t need to age, so these wines will use a cap that has a liner that is not very breathable, while many red wines thrive with some aging, in which case you would choose a liner that breathes more. As I mentioned, wine today is meant to be drank, so, if you absolutely love the way a wine tastes and you don’t want it to age, then using a tighter liner would maintain the integrity of the wine as it tastes the day you bottle it. A lot of bigger wine manufacturers and distributers want their wine to always taste the same year after year. This makes it easier to sell to stores and wine bars, because there is a consistency, and the buyers remember the taste. I notice that wines with screw caps seem to be fresher, and brighter. It may not be traditional, but it’s useful.

Speaking of tradition, a lot of wine “rules” aren’t actually rules. That’s one of the funny things with about the wine world, you’ll see a lot of winemakers are very comfortable with tradition. For instance, wine bottle shapes. There is no real reason for a Bordeaux wine, like Cabernet Sauvignon to be in a Bordeaux style bottle, other than, that’s what most winemakers choose, and it makes it easier to locate a wine when you’re familiar with the bottle. The shape of bottles doesn’t effect the taste or whatsoever. There are 12 major shapes of wine bottles,

Bordeaux (Cabernet Sauvignon), Burgundy (Pinot and Chardonnay), Rhône (Syrah), Champagne (Bubbly), Côtes de Provence (Rosé), Mosel & Alsace (Riesling), Rhine (Gewurztraminer), Chianti (Chianti, obviously, and fun fact about these bottles, they have a basket because they are completely round on the bottom, and need the basket to stay upright.), Bocksbeutel (18th century German and Portuguese style that isn’t round, so it cannot roll away.) Jura (Pinot and Chardonnay), Vin Jaune (named for the wine, itself and which matures for 6 years under a film of yeast before it’s bottled.), Fortified Wine (Port). The shape of wine bottles never had anything to do with taste, it’s just the lung capacity of the glass blowers! And a lot of people think the punt (the dip at the bottom of the bottle) is important for how the wine is stored, but it is also simply traditional. The early wine bottles had punts because it was impossible to make a flat bottom at the time so there was a scar at the bottom of each bottle. The scar would scratch up your table if you tried to set it down, so they made an indentation. The punt also gave the bottles extra stability, which again, is unnecessary now, because we can make flat bottoms, alas, winemakers are attached to the punt, and some believe it helps trap sediment.

Hold on, if you’re thinking that if the shape of bottles don’t matter, than the shape of your glass doesn’t matter, you’re wrong. That is one tradition that actually has scientific proof. Ethanol vapors carry aromatic compounds to your nose, certain glasses actually help specific wines to smell, and in turn taste their best based on the size of the opening. Not all wine has the same characteristics, so different glasses are used to bring out the unique qualities. It’s a lot like body types, Not all of us are going to look bangin’ in high waisted jeans and a crop top, just like some of us look like potatoes in flowy dresses. Dressing for your body type accentuates the different parts of you, making you look and feel your best. Your wine deserves to smell and taste her best. If you were to drink your wine out of a mug, the ethanol vapors would disperse unevenly, meaning the authenticity of the aroma is diluted. The combination of the slope from the bowl to the cone shape at the top of the glass actually helps those vapors to stay in that shape longer. Thanks to this discovery, many people are switching from champagne flutes to white wine glasses when drinking champagne, because the flutes showcase the beautiful bubbles, but don’t allow an optimal aromatic nose, which is a disgrace to the wine. We all know how important the nose is. There are even more wine glass options than wine bottle options, but these have been designed specifically for an optimal tasting and drinking experience. The first thing you need to know if you want to up your wine glass game is that the best glasses are feather light (yes, I know they break all the time, that’s just a natural part of the wine lover’s life. Accept it.), and have a very thin lip. The idea is to almost have no glass and to become fully immersed in the aromas and taste of your wine. Can your glass be stemless? Sure, however, I would recommend using glasses with a stem because holding the bowl of your glass warms up your wine, (and leaves finger prints, not very chic!), and if you wash your hands regularly, (which I know you do, flu season is upon us!) then you’re going to smell the soap much stronger than the wine.

Which shapes should you be looking for? It depends on the wine you like to drink. Red wine glasses are large, with a full round bowl. The large bowl allows air contact for oxidation which brings out complex aromas and flavors. White wine glasses have a U shaped bowl and are slightly smaller than red wine glasses. The U shape helps maintain the cool temperature of your white wine. You can absolutely get geekier and buy a set of Burgundy wine glasses, Bordeaux glasses, Pinot Noir glasses, Cabernet Sauvignon glasses, and have an option for whichever red wine your’e drinking that night. The same can be done for white wine glasses, you can invest in a set of Sauvignon Blanc, Montrachet, Chardonnay and Riesling glasses. If you’re going that far, you may as well add in dessert glasses and champagne flutes, or tulips. You may also need a kitchen remodel to house all of your fancy glasses. My recommendation is to simply find a red wine glass that you love, and a white wine glass that you love (at Strey we love anything Stölzle) but this will give you the best of both worlds.

Falling into the rabbit hole of the wine world can be extremely overwhelming, but equally fascinating. Wine is for everyone (if you’re 21 or older, in the US.) and not knowing how to do a tasting, or what the legs are, or which glass to use is an opportunity. I LOVE it when people walk through our Ventura County doors and have never done a tasting before! This experience can be a life changer for that person. I know because our winemaker, Scott went wine tasting once, and he dove head first down that rabbit hole, about 10 years later he opened Strey Cellars, and is actively living his dream.

Author’s note: My name is Justine and I have been working in the tasting room at Strey Cellars for over four years. We are a small family owned local boutique winery. If this is your first visit to my blog, you’ll notice that I write as if we are old friends, because this is the energy of our winery. Come visit sometime, and see for yourself. If you enjoyed this blog, please share it with a friend. Cheers!