Monthly Archives: September 2008

R.I.P. Didier Dagueneau

Didier Dagueneau, one of the world’s legendary winemakers, died today in a small plane.  He was 52 years old.

Dagueneau worked in Pouilly-Fumé, a region situated on the Loire river that specializes in Sauvignon Blanc.  His wines are incredibly rare, and will only become more so.

I have yet to have the opportunity to taste one.  If I ever do, it will be a hallmark day in my wine pursuit.


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Filed under Producers

The Wall Street Journal Is Selling Wine Too!

Just days after we learned that will be selling wine, reports that the Wall Street Journal will be getting into the game as well.  We frequently have customers bring in the weekly wine column to see what we are able to obtain for them on the list.  Frequently it is less than half of the wines they review.  I would imagine that 100% of the wines will be available on their website.

As I said in my posting on Amazon, I love to see more outlets for people to purchase wine.  Increased interest will bring them to me eventually.

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Filed under The Industry

Amazon To Sell Wine Online

According to, the online retailer will begin selling wine within weeks.  Amazon has declined to comment on the matter and there is no word on which wines the company will be selling.

I am all for Amazon’s wine sales.   My only reservation is the carbon footprint of individual bottles flying around the country on a greater scale.  I work for a small retailer that specializes in niche wines that will not be available to a behemoth like Amazon, so we won’t be competing with them when it comes to price.  It will bring more drinkers to wine, and once they are into wine they will eventually need to get some expertise on the subject.  That’s when they’ll come to us.

It will also serve to reduce the regulations on the wine industry.  The wine laws in America are determined by individual states.  Some are much more restrictive with shipping than others.  I am currently only able to ship wine to thirty-one other states because some states want to control (tax) every bottle of wine.  As a small retailer we are unable to affect this situation, but a large corporation with a legion of lawyers can.  Check out this article on Wal-Mart’s efforts in dry counties throughout the South.

When the Twenty-First Amendment repealed Prohibition, control of alcohol reverted to the states.  This resulted in  a fractured industry.  In some states, a retailer or restaurant can buy alcohol from any source.  Examples of the various sources include wineries, distilleries, private collections, distributors and importers.  In a select few states (California, New York and New Jersey to my knowledge) a retailer can also act as the importer.  Other states have much stricter regulations.  In some cases, retailers are only able to buy products from one state-controlled agency.

Missouri’s system seems to be the most widely used.  Retailers and restaurants are only able to buy from a distributor based in the state and that distributor must purchase from an out-of-state supplier.  Wineries are able to sell directly to retailers and restaurants.  Purchases cannot be made from private collections.

Since I’m writing about the local wine laws I’ll take this opportunity to digress.  These restrictions have guaranteed that no restaurant in Missouri can have a spectacular wine list.  If restaurants are unable to buy from sources other than distributors, then they cannot acquire mature red wines.  Quality red wine is meant to be aged, but wineries cannot afford to hold the wine until it reaches maturity.  The onus is on the consumer to do so.  Restaurants cannot afford to do this. They want to open their doors with an amazing wine list of mature wines, not a list of potential greats that will overpower the cuisine because they are consumed too young.

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Filed under The Industry

The Open Wine Bottle – How Long Will It Last?

The short answer – not long at all.  There are measures you can take to extend the life of your wine, all of which cost less than $15.

Oxygen is both friend and foe of the wine drinker.  We swirl wine in our glass to increase the surface area.  This allows oxygen to break down more chemical bonds, which releases the aromatic compounds that we use so many creative words to describe.

After a few hours, the exposure to oxygen ceases to be beneficial for the wine.  If you cut an apple in half and look at it an hour later, you notice that it begins to turn brown.  The same thing is happening to the open bottle of wine.  This results in a different aroma – the fresh fruits smell cooked, the alcohol is more prevalent and it is less complex.  It is not harmful to drink a wine that has been open for days, but it is not very pleasurable either.

This presents an interesting dilemma to the wine drinker who is satisfied after one glass.  Do you let your wine go to waste, or do you drink yourself silly in the interest of getting the most for your money?  There are alternatives.

Some change their buying habits.  Many excellent wines are available in half-bottles.  These have an inherent moderation in them.  The other big plus to the half bottle is the ability to have two different kinds of wine, but doing so at the cost of just one bottle.


For me, the only solution to the problem is the Vacuvin Wine Saver.  It removes the oxygen from the bottle so the wine will keep for quite awhile after being open.  I tend to keep the wine in the refrigerator as well (red and white), but it is the absence of oxygen that is the real key.  I have had wines open over a month that still showed true character when I drank them.

This system also allows you to be a better host.  When I have friends over, I want to show them a bunch of different wines.  This does not mean that I want to finish all those bottles (though it has been known to happen).  With the vacuum system, you can open a wine for the white drinkers and the red drinkers, then have two bottles left to drink at your leisure.  It is especially redeeming when you open an amazing wine that your guest does not appreciate.  More for me!


Filed under Wine At Home