Sipping Sustainably



Sustainability, perhaps a buzz word for many, but  more growers, winemakers, and breweries around the world are exploring best-practices to create products with true-expression of their terroir.

MADE  web site “We want to fundamentally change the way people think about buying things”.

Guest Post Sipping Sustainably.  It is a great piece about the reality of the consumption of resources.

Green Breweries and Wineries

Americans consume 9.4 billion gallons of alcoholic beverages a year: 87 percent beer, 8 percent wine, and the rest spirits. The environmental impact of producing, packaging, and selling all those beverages could make an environmentalist reach for a drink. Breweries and wineries consume large quantities of water, raw materials, and other natural resources.But there’s good news: Green beer is no longer something people drink just on Saint Patrick’s Day. With the rise of the craft beer movement and growing consumer interest in local and sustainable food, more breweries and wineries are working to reduce the beverage industry’s environmental footprint. As a result, it’s easier to stock the home bar with sustainable, organic brews.

Moving Toward Sustainability

Sustainability is a buzzword these days, but what does it really mean? Ideally, it indicates a company uses resources in non-depleting ways while fostering the health of the company, workers, planet, and future generations. No beer and wine companies are entirely sustainable—at the moment they all use more resources than they return—but many mitigate environmental damage in several key ways.

sipping-sustainably-001 Slash water use

Beverage companies are particularly reliant on water, one of our most critical natural resources. Conscientious businesses work to be its responsible stewards. According to a 2008 report, viticulturists on California’s North Coast use an average of 75 gallons of water to grow the grapes for just one gallon of wine, and in the state’s drier Central Valley, they use 430 gallons of water per gallon. Turning the grapes into wine uses six more gallons of water. To reduce that footprint, many wineries have installed low-flow nozzles and filtration systems, and reuse gray water from the production process. A minority employ dry farming, which means growing grapes without irrigation, a practice that can save millions of gallons of water a year. A gallon of beer requires five to 10 gallons of water to produce. Craft brewers are leading a movement to reduce that ratio (Oregon’s Full Sail Brewery boasts a 2.5 to 1 ratio) and even the world’s largest brewers, including Anheuser Busch, MillerCoors, and Heineken, are cutting water usage.

Power down

From heating water vats and refrigerating beverages to lighting tasting rooms, the mass production of beverages is energy intensive. Eco-minded companies make their systems more efficient, install solar panels and solar hot water heaters, and utilize technologies such as fuel cells, geothermal heating, and carbon dioxide reclamation.

Manage waste streams

The majority of waste in the brewing process is spent grain. Breweries have a long history of passing spent grain on to farmers to feed cattle, chickens, pigs, and other livestock. Some are coming up with other innovative ways to use leftover grains, including making bread and composting. One brewery developed a biomass steam boiler that allows them to power brewery operations with spent grain. Conscientious vintners recycle pomace—spent grape seeds, pulp, and skins—in the winemaking process, compost it, or sell it to manufacturers of grape fruit oil, cream of tartar, or spirits. Many beer and wine companies have installed on-site wastewater treatment plants and/or reuse cardboard, pallets, and other packaging waste.

Farm sustainably

Beer and wine are agricultural products, so to make a sustainable beverage, the ingredients must be grown in ways that contribute to the health of ecosystems, wildlife, and workers. Unfortunately so far organic beer and wine have constituted a small share of the beverage industry. Brewers cite the expense and shortage of organic hops and barley. And wine consumers have equated organic with low quality. But that seems to be changing. According to a recent study, the organic beer and wine market is expected to grow at a rate of 24.5 percent from 2013 to 2019.

Source local ingredients

Wineries have a long history of growing grapes on site. Now a farm-to-pint movement is making waves in the craft beer industry. From Oregon to New York, local economies are springing up around craft beer with a new crop of farmers at the base. By localizing supply chains, beverage companies cut down on the transport of raw ingredients—a large portion of most companies’ carbon footprint. They can also more easily reuse resources that would leave the facility—including water and packaging—in the production process. For instance, they can use gray water to irrigate fields.

Reduce packaging

It doesn’t get much greener than a reusable jug, so it’s promising The Wall Street Journal called the warm months of 2013 “the summer of the growler.” Sure enough, grocery, drug, and discount stores in many cities now sport growler stations stocked with local craft beer. Wine growlers are cropping up in some states as well. Many breweries and wineries sell beverages in bottles, cans, or boxes for wider distribution. The most sustainable of them use lightweight containers with high-recycled-materials content.

In 2011, University of California Davis opened a state-of-the-art center to research and share the best sustainability practices for breweries and wineries in the above areas. It will eventually house the country’s first self-sustaining winery, which will feature a rainwater collection system and will have a cutting-edge filtration and recirculation system as well as a system to sequester carbon dioxide. According to the university, it will be the most “environmentally sophisticated complex of its kind in the world.” But what does stepping toward sustainability look like for companies already involved in the day-to-day business of beverage making?

It’s always a good idea to choose the least packaging when possible. For beer, kegs or growlers are best, and cans may beat bottles. For wine, boxes are better than bottles, and magnums beat smaller bottles. Don’t forget to recycle those containers. And CEOs say consumer preference drives the trend toward more eco-friendly products, so let beer and wine companies know you’re thirsty for sustainable beverages.

How to Decipher Environmental Claims on a Wine Label

sipping-sustainably-002Read the entire article Sipping Sustainably. If you enjoyed this article on green breweries and wineries, check out these reclaimed wood wine racks for your home —


How To Keep An Open Bottle Of Wine


FaLaLa… Tis’ the season of festive parties. Wine will be served, and what to do with the left over?

left over wine


I am asked the question, frequently. Left over wine has never been an issue in my house. A Bacchus commandment “Thou shall finish an open bottle of wine”.  In the event that you have some wine left at the end of your party, here are some tips on how to seal your open bottle and where to store it to get an extra day out of your left over.
  • „White wines will last 1 or 2 days depending of the style.
  • „Red wines will last about 3 days depending of the style.
  • „Full-bodied wines will retain flavour and freshness better than lighter wines.
  • „Younger wines will retain flavour better than older wines.
  • „Refrigerate, left over wine, will help to preserve its lifespan. You should refrigerate white and red. Don’t forget to pull out red wine about 30-40 minutes before serving.
  • Reduce the amount of oxygen in the bottle by putting left over into a smaller bottle. Use an air tight closure, it helps slow down oxidation.



Try a wine saver gadget. The 2 most popular ones are:
1 – VACUVIN ( a vacuum sealer ) from $18.00 to $22.00
2 – PRIVATE PRESERVATIVE ( gas) from $16.00 to $20.00





How about freezing left over wine?  The experiment had good results according to the ‘Shopping Bag’ and a few other web sites. The wine tasted as good as the one day left over wine. They said that the wine tasted fine. Unfortunately, they don’t talk about the type of container used for the experiment. Have fun doing your own experiment, and let me know the result.


Using a bit of wine in sauces and stews enhance flavours. In restaurants, we use cheap wine for simmering dishes such as lamb shanks, and we use quality wine for sauces. I always have a bit of left over white and red in my fridge. The left over will last about 2 months. You can freeze wine in an ice tray. It is really practical, you take only as many cubes as you need. You can keep chicken and beef broth the same way.

Headaches and Hangovers

the wine detective

Headaches and Hangovers

Dehydration is a primary cause of hangovers. Drink water along with your wine and you’ll improve your chances of feeling better the next day.

For those unfortunate enough to get headaches while drinking wine, the probable cause is an individual reaction to the neutral elements in wine. Phenolic flavonoids, found more in red wine than white, and tannins cause headaches for many individuals. All fermented products also contain histamines and tyramines that either dilate or constrict blood vessels. Low acid red wine is the worst culprit.

Decoding the Decanting Process


When, Why, and How to Decant Wine

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To decant or not to decant? With apologies to Shakespeare, this is so often the question on the minds of wine lovers, for whom the time-honored practice of decanting a favorite bottle of wine can feel baffling and intimidating.

Although it may seem unnecessarily fancy and stuffy – or best left to professional sommeliers and serious collectors with hundreds of expensive bottles in their cellars – the ritual of decanting wine isn’t at all complicated or mysterious. It can be accomplished easily in the comfort of your own home, whenever the occasion arises.

It’s not so much the act of decanting (pouring wine into a separate container in order to expose the surface of the liquid to oxygen) that confuses people, but rather the question of why and when to do it. Once you understand the basic logic behind the custom, you’ll find it couldn’t be simpler, and may even enhance your appreciation of a special bottle.

Decoding the Decanting Process - Decanting 101

Which Kinds of Bottles Need to be Decanted?

As important a role as decanting plays in the appreciation of wine, not all bottles require it. In fact, the overwhelming majority of wine produced today is intended for immediate “pop and pour” consumption, and requires no decanting. So which bottles ought to be decanted and which can go without?

Generally, it is customary to decant wines that fall on two extreme sides of the aging spectrum. As Charles Antin, Specialist Head of Sale and Associate Vice President of the Christie’s Wine Department, puts it: “I often decant wines that are either a bit too young, or at peak maturity. That said, as with all things wine, there’s no right answer. My advice is, when in doubt, decant. It’s rarely bad for the wine.”

Decanting Young Wine

Hefty, age-worthy wines that may otherwise seem too young and tight, such as a big Bordeaux, Barolo, or Napa Cabernet, often benefit from some time in a decanter. Although these types of wines ideally would be gradually exposed to oxygen by many decades of aging in a cellar, not everyone has the time (or patience) to wait around to drink these impressive bottles.

Decanting a young wine is often necessary to allow the otherwise harsh tannins – the chemical compound found in red wines that gives them their specific grippy, mouth-puckering quality – to round out and become less severe. The exposure to oxygen tends to soften up this tannic structure, enhance a wine’s aromatics, and allow the underlying fruit flavors of the wine to come forward, making wines that may be considered a bit shut down or closed (wine-world synonyms for too young) more immediately accessible. This is what it means to allow a wine to open up or breathe. Decanting greatly accelerates that process.

Again, it should be noted that this is really only necessary for young, brawny wines that will only enter their optimal drinking window after several years (or more) in the bottle. If you aren’t sure whether this applies to the example you’re planning to serve with dinner, there’s a simple test: Pour yourself a taste. If the wine in your glass seems a bit too harsh or angular, obscured by the firm structure of its tannins, then try pouring it into a decanter. Not only are the results likely to surprise you, but it can be fascinating and fun to taste the wine at various stages as it opens up and develops over the course of several hours.

Decanting Mature Wine

On the opposite end of the continuum are wines that have reached their peak maturity, particularly if they are more than 10 to 15 years old. Although it may seem counterintuitive to expose such mature wines to oxygen (since they have long since evolved past their youthful immature phase) in this situation the process of decanting serves a different purpose.

Over time, as a bottle of wine sleeps in a cellar, it is common for a deposit of sediment to form inside. While this is completely natural and entirely harmless, it can impart a bitter and astringent taste, so precautions should be taken to remove the sediment before consumption.

“The best thing to do is to let the bottle stand upright for a few hours for the particles to settle, and then decant it slowly so that the sediment is left in the bottle,” Antin says. Traditionally, it was customary to decant an older wine with the neck of the bottle held above a candle (although a flashlight works perfectly well), to keep an eye out for the sediment as the wine transfers into the decanter. When the first wisps of sediment enter the neck of the bottle, immediately stop pouring. You’ll likely be left with a small amount of sediment-filled wine in the bottle, which should be discarded.

Generally, you don’t need to wait a long time for an older wine to breathe in the decanter, and since excess oxygen can spoil particularly delicate examples, it is best to serve mature bottles immediately after decanting them. However, mature wine can sometimes be a bit closed or musty right after the cork is popped. If you’ve ever spent a long time cramped up in a small space (an economy-class airplane seat, for instance), you can probably sympathize with the condition of a wine that has spent years, or even decades, in a bottle: They sometimes need little room to breathe and stretch their limbs. In this way, it isn’t at all uncommon for an older wine to benefit from a bit of time in the decanter. But if the wine tastes delicious right away, there’s no need to wait too long. Again, the taste-as-you-go approach works best.


What About Whites?

Decanting is typically reserved for red wines. But there are a handful of whites – generally richer, more aromatic, and fleshier – that greatly improve after some time in the decanter.

Antin often decants white wines. “If you open a bottle and the aromatics are reticent, pouring the wine into a decanter can often help,” he says. “Some of my favorite white wines to decant are from the northern Rhone and the Loire Valley.”

Decoding the Decanting Process - Decanting Tips

What You’ll Need

Decanting a bottle of wine doesn’t require much in the way of fancy equipment. All you need is a decanter, which comes in any number of shapes and sizes.

For younger wines, it’s preferable to use a wide-brimmed decanter, such as the Wine Enthusiast Vivid Wine Decanter. The idea is to expose as much of wine’s surface area to air as possible. For older wines, a more tapered shape is preferred, such as that of the Riedel Cabernet Decanter. In this case the point is merely to remove sediment rather than aerate the wine.

But there’s really no need to purchase a special decanter. In a pinch almost any clear vessel will work just fine – a water pitcher, an empty vase, or even the container of a blender. Whatever receptacle you decide to use, just make sure it’s clean and dry before you pour in the wine.

You may also be tempted to experiment with one of the many different brands of aerators available. This tool is designed to “flash decant” the wine as it’s poured into the glass. Part of the joy of decanting, however, is allowing wine to gradually open up and transform over the course of an evening, and tasting it at each step of its evolution. Although aerators may get the job done quickly, they also diminish this particular aspect. Ultimately, it’s a matter of personal taste.


The Wine Almanac – February

california vineyardsThe Wine Almanac – February

February is a month when wines may well be treated. They have been in existence for some four months and as wine is subject to all sorts of chemical change, it does need a little help to stay enjoyable on the palate. Our ancestors knew only too well how appalling table wine could taste when left to nature, hence the fashion in preceding centuries for either very sweet wines high in alcohol or spirits which were unlikely to alter once bottled.

In the vineyards, pruning may continue as the weather is normally still very wintery. Grafted vines are planted out to make new areas. As a rule, vines are at the most fruitful about eight to fifteen years after planting, and gradually the yield per vine will diminish.

When a vine is in ‘good health’ it grows vigorously, responds to pruning by flowering abundantly and producing plenty of fruit and not too many leaves, and stay lush and healthy during its annual cycle. In February or march many vineyards are fertilized either with artificial compounds or with stable manure, although in some areas such as Provence and the Napa Valley of California there are ’organic’ winemakers who only use grapes treated with naturally-occurring compounds. For instance, one way of nourishing the roots of the vines naturally is to grow high-nitrogen plants, such as mustard, between the rows and then plough these into the soil. When an entire livelihood may be wiped out by sudden frosts or disease, every precaution must be taken.

Although there are few official festivals in February in wine regions, this is a month for the wine lover to experience great fun at city wine festivals such the annual and popular Vancouver Wine Festival in British Columbia. Then there is the Carnival in summertime Rio de Janeiro, or Mardi Gras in New Orleans…although neither is strictly speaking at the heart of a wine region.



Wine For Thought

CALLOUTDrinking For Inspired Thinking

“What interests me is the effect on the emotions, the happy state of mind that wine causes even before it is drunk. The prospect of wine is so pleasant that it relaxes the face muscles and makes one’s eyes light up. Even before the cork is drawn, a good bottle induces a festive atmosphere of good humour and relaxation.”                      Emile Peynaud (1912 – 2004)


Keeping Wine In The Refrigerator



Wine Tips

Putting wine in a refrigerator for a few hours to chill is alright. It is not recommended to store wine in the fridge for days or weeks because it draws moisture from the cork which increase the possibility of oxidation. Also, the constant motor vibration is not the ideal condition for the wine.

A bottle of wine ’breathes’ so don’t put it close to a strong smelling product because the smell can permeate through the cork. Store the wine away from the fridge light bulb. Remember, keeping bottles upright will allow any sediment to settle.

Wine Almanac – October

002 (3)October, a season of fruitfulness. Deciding when to pick the grapes can be a nail-biting time. For high quality wine, great amount of good may come from leaving the grapes on the vine for just that week or so longer than your neighbour winery. If the weather holds, not only more sweetness but also more concentration of flavour may result. If the aim is to produce an everyday wine with fruity taste then it is probably not worth the extra anxiety involved in waiting for the ultimate picking time. Keeping the grape-pickers standing by can be a costly business and they may work with another winery on just that day or the communal grape-picking machine is in use somewhere else. Few wineries can afford the luxury of their own machine-harvester. A day’s delay, a thunderstorm and… no quality wine to sell at a higher price to pay the bills.

The family owned vineyard with all the wine produced on the spot is fast becoming harder to find. Thousands of grape growers are opting to concentrate on viticulture and leave the vinification (wine making) to someone else. Those family ventures which do thrive are based on enormously hard work, passion for the industry, and a devotion to modern methods for maximum quality and hopefully sales. Often behind the old cellars and barns there are likely a computer and modern equipment to help keep ahead of the competition. Such is the state of family ventures of a sufficient size to sell to restaurants and retail stores. Many are smaller family winery which tends to aim for self-sufficient rather than for big profit, producing enough wine to meet the family’s needs and the goods they need.

DeVine 1

During the fall season, many wineries stay open on weekends. Organize a friend get-together wine tasting.


The Correct Wine Storage Temperature



The Correct Wine Storage Temperature


The first requirement is that the wine be kept at a reasonably even temperature. It should not be too warm or to cold, but somewhat below room temperature. The optimum temperature for storing wine is 11°C ( 52ºF), but anything between from 6ºC to 18ºC ( 42ºF – 64ºF ) will do no harm as long as there are no short term high fluctuation. High temperature will age the wines prematurely. Slow and moderate fluctuation in temperature will not harm the wines.  High Rise – When storing wine, remember that heat rises.



Cabernet Sauvignon – Lake Sonoma Alexander Valley





738401_0California wines end up being quite expensive in British Columbia because of the taxes and mark-ups. Lake Sonoma Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 is a rare exception. Lake Sonoma Winery is a new business venture by Quails’ Gate CEO Tony Stewart and Napa Valley’s Dan Zepponi, who are also partners in Plume wines of Napa Valley. The Lake Sonoma label was established in 1977, but the Valley of the Moon estate and winery Stewart and Zepponi purchased is over 150-years-old (1863) – a true piece of California history. The grapes for the wines are all sourced from sub-appellations of Sonoma, in the case of this Cabernet, the northerly Alexander Valley, which sits above the Russian River Valley and Dry Creek. Expect cassis and blackberries, baking spice and mocha on the nose, rounded out with vanilla and mint. It has a supple palate and plenty of luscious fruit; cassis, black plum, spiced mocha and mint echo the nose. It has good length, a firm tannin structure to enjoy now and for years to come. This rich Cabernet is the ideal partner for grilled and roasted meats.
Appellation: Sonoma Valley
The mid-nineteenth century was a hugely important era for the United States wine industry, and it was in this period when Sonoma Valley was first used as a wine region. The earliest wineries which made the wide and flat valley floor their home recognized the potential the region had, and noted the fantastic climate Sonoma Valley received. Alongside this, they understood the importance of the mineral rich volcanic soils and geothermal springs of the region, which would go on to provide nutrition for millions of grape vines over the next century and a half. Today, Sonoma Valley is one of California’s premier wine producing regions, and it is widely agreed that many of the state’s finest red and white wines hail from this beautiful area.
Price: $26.99