Everything for the Wine Lover. International Wine Accessories (IWA) is dedicated to helping our customers create a rich and cultured wine lifestyle. With decades of experience, our seasoned team of IWA wine and cellar specialists provides our valued customers with unparalleled access to the widest array of quality wine accoutrements on the planet.
One of the best qualities of summer is the chance to dine alfresco, especially if it’s a picnic. Whether you’re relaxing in an open field surrounded by wildflowers or in Central Park listening to a concert as the sun sets, there’s no greater pleasure than nibbling on some cheese, biting into juicy strawberries and sipping wine in the open air. How do you transport those wines safely and easily? We have great wine carriers to choose from for your picnic excursions.
For a romantic picnic à deux, the charming wicker Wine and Cheese Basket contains two glasses, a wine stopper, a corkscrew (which we all forget sometimes!), a cutting board and a knife. It has plenty of space to safely and easily transport two wine bottles, and its ingenious double-lid barrel design lets you easily access all these items without rummaging around.
This carrier is lined with durable pine green polyethylene and handcrafted with willow construction; this piece was built to be sturdy so you can take it along to picnics summer after summer.
Are you meeting a group of friends? With the Built NY Cooler, you can bring enough wine for everyone. It fits 6 standard wine bottles and 10lb of ice, with an insulated construction that keeps drinks chilled.
It is easy to carry, with a durable strap and reinforced handles. Don’t worry about leaks, it is made from the same fabric as whitewater rafts!
Stylishly tote bottles of wine to the picnic with this handsome travel bag. When ready for nibbles, use the folding Acacia wood folding table, corkscrew and stemless wine glasses that are break resistant and safe for the beach.
Set off on an adventure with this handy waxed cotton canvas carrier with adjustable shoulder strap.
There’s one important accessory not included with any of these wine carriers: the wine! You can pick which bottles to bring along to personalize your picnic.
What’s the perfect summer picnic wine?
Rosé is always a great bet and with a wide range of styles; there’s a rosé for every palate. They range from light and crisp, with gentle strawberry notes, to rosé wines with a rich and fuller-bodied flavor where the ripe berries take center stage.
Vinho Verde is another great summer sipper. Citrus fruits and a decent amount of minerality are met with a slight effervescence in this zesty and crisp white.
More in the mood for a red? A bottle of Pinot Noir works well in the muggy months with a light body. Or, look for traditional Rhône blends from the Languedoc-Roussillion region. Thanks to the warm climate in this southern France region, these wines are better suited for the weather.
About the author:Shana Sokol is a wine blogger, freelance writer and event planner living in New York City. Learn more at shanaspeakswine.com and follow her musings on Twitter and Instagram: @ShanaSpeaksWine.
Vibrant and stain resistant, merino wool is a natural choice for coasters and glass markers. Bavaria has been using it to protect surfaces from drink spills since the late 19th century, affectionately calling it “bierfilzl” (beer felt). The absorbent wool structure includes lanolin and keratin, which have antibacterial and odor resistant qualities. Fibers draw moisture into its core, keeping surfaces dry and preventing spillage.
Have you seen fuzzy lint balls on older pieces of wool? The phenomena is called pilling, which is caused by smaller fibers gathering on the surface of fabric. Merino’s denser properties are more resilient, and it has fewer issues with pilling than the average wool.
Our accessories are made in the USA from high quality German wool in a variety of earth-tone and rainbow inspired colors, including coaster sets and wine glass markers.
Spot cleaning is simple – water and soap will remove most stains, or they can be briefly soaked in warm water. Lightly massage the stain and sponge the area, then rinse with fresh water. For removing dust or minor pilling, an adhesive lint roller will work best. If a wine accessory has outlived its usefulness, the material is biodegradable and can be recycled. Using a fabric shaver, like Evercare, make a few passes over the felt to help the fibers retain their bright pigmentation and postpone fading and obvious wear.
Inspired by traditional accessories with contemporary flair, Merino wool will add color to celebrations, while protecting your furniture and home.
Enjoying a refreshing wine while outdoors is a sublime pleasure. Rich, spicy varietals can be set aside for light, crisp options when the heat becomes oppressive. Discover ideas for beach parties, Summer BBQs, and casual sipping on the porch. Maintaining the best serving temperatures of your wine is key, setting the bottle in a wine chiller before bringing it outside.
This is chardonnay’s vivacious expression with delicious fresh flavors of apples and nuts; they can zip into your glass with tart quince or linger in delicate spices. Found in the Côte de Beaune, Chablis and Mâconnais regions in France, it can be paired with crab, smoked fish, creamy dishes, or childhood favorites like macaroni and cheese.
Interest in this complex, aging friendly wine is growing in California’s wine country, where it is often blended with zinfandel, creating a voluminous swirl of dark berries, chocolate, licorice and black pepper. Bring it out for grilled steak, burgers and heartier Summer foods, where it will shine with its structure of tannins.
Pleasing and smooth, it is a reliable wine for parties, ranging from juicy cherry flavors to lush plum and the occasional tobacco or leather notes. It is a bright, straightforward wine without a lingering finish, allowing a wide range of food pairings, from chicken and goat cheese to grilled mushrooms and pasta.
Splash into this zesty melon, nectarine, mango and citrus adventure with sweet, enticing aromas. Its acidity balances with creamy cheeses, vegetable soups and light shrimp or scallops, and should be enjoyed as a young wine, rather than aged.
Ripe tropical fruit flavors mix with ginger, floral aromas and tart apple for an acidic potentially sparkling wine treat that is a refreshing Summer choice with turkey, avocado, roasted bell peppers and peach cobbler.
Touches of minerality influence the sweet wash of fruits and floral notes. High in acidity, they range from dry to sweet dessert wine, often with luscious pear, honey and apricot flavors or tart citrus. When aged, riesling can waft petrol aromas that are off-putting, although the wine itself is smooth and rich. Pair it confidently with spicier dishes, cheeses like colby and monterey jack, or pork and chopped salads.
The history of Port-style wine is a fascinating one. It was popularized during the 17th century when England was at war with France, resulting in a boycott of French wine. The Portuguese stepped in, but found that their shipments couldn’t make the long journey at sea without risking spoilage. Fortifying the wine with a spirit, such as brandy, preserved it long enough to make the trip, introducing Port to the world.
Traditionally serving as a meal’s capstone with a cheese or dessert course, Port does not need to be saved until the end of your evening; it can be a versatile treat during additional courses. Read on for pairing suggestions that will elevate your next dinner party to an unforgettable experience.
Main Dish Suggestions: White Port is an excellent match for seafood and goes particularly well with lobster, crab, mung fish, swordfish or appetizers made with smoked fish such as salmon and oysters. White Port can be served on its own or mixed with tonic and a twist of lemon as an upscale cocktail to accompany the meal.
Desserts: If you prefer sweeter style White Ports, they pair wonderfully with dessert, especially in summer. Fresh fruit compote, strawberry shortcake, peaches and cream, lemon bars, and freshly made sorbets are wonderful choices to accompany the end of a meal.
Main Dishes: Tawny Ports are a wonderful complement to duck, venison, and veal. They are also an excellent partner to dishes with bold sauces featuring cherry or dark berries.
Cheese Course: Serve Tawny Ports with hard, salty cheeses such as Aged Cheddar, Aged Gouda, Parmesan, Grano Padano, Dry Jack, and Pecorino.
Dessert: To pair a Tawny Port with dessert think of traditional holiday offerings like pecan pie, pumpkin pie or a cheesecake swirled with caramel. Crème Brûlée, German chocolate cake, bread pudding, brittle and candied nuts are also outstanding choices.
Main Dishes: Ruby Ports are fantastic with soups or ravioli made from butternut squash and meats with barbecue-style sauces.
Cheese course: Pungent choices like Blue Cheese, Gorgonzola, Limburger, Esrom, and Taleggio shine with a Ruby Port.
Dessert: Serve with a pastry featuring tart fruit like sour cherry pie, rhubarb cobbler, white chocolate covered strawberries or chocolate ganache mousse. You can even drizzle it over cheesecake or vanilla bean ice cream.
Late Bottled Vintage Ports
Main Dishes: Late Bottled Vintage (LBV) goes well with chocolate, but that doesn’t mean it is limited to dessert. It goes well with any dish with mole sauce, whether it be pork, chicken or enchiladas.
Cheese Course: Offer LBV Port with cheeses like Chevre, Brie, Boursalt, Alpino, Gruyere, and Fontina.
Dessert: Pair with dark chocolate brownies, decadent cakea, fruit dipped in dark chocolate, and warm chocolate chip cookies.
Main Dishes: Vintage Port is stunning with small bites as opposed to a heavy meal. Bruschetta with fig and dates stuffed with blue cheese are elegant accompaniments.
Cheese: Blue cheese, Maytag, Gorgonzola, Roquefort, Smoked Cheddar, and Smoked Gouda will bring out the best in Vintage Port.
Dessert: Keep it simple with dried fruit, nuts, and truffles to enhance the flavors without competing with them.
The possibilities for these wine and food pairings are endless. It’s time to break out those port glasses and wow your guests at your next dinner party.
Have you tried a port pairing that you loved? Comment below!
Imagine the air saturated with intoxicating aromas of wine, music from every corner of the city, and an invigorating atmosphere. Wine regions of the world hold annual celebrations; whether in a formal square or out in the vineyard, the fun does not abate. In areas such as Germany’s Moselle Valley, the holiday spirit passes from farm to farm throughout the summer. For connoisseurs and admirers of wine, these events broaden horizons and knowledge, allowing easy access to producers and new varietals to experience. Here are a few of the top wine festivals of the world.
Taking place on the South Island, it is the largest wine festival in New Zealand, taking place annually at Brancott, the oldest vineyard in the region. Doors are opened to all comers, with over 50 wineries participating, accompanied by national dishes, pavilion entertainment with music all-stars and “slinky” jazz bands.
About 30 wineries in South Australia open their doors to treat visitors with their finest wines. Fun workshops are offered, such as cheese making master classes, how to blend, and basic winemaking. This exciting series of contests, classes and parties takes place in spectacular scenery.
Most tourists and wine experts focus their attention on visiting wine festivals of the Old World, but Oregon, thanks to its Pinot Noir, has steadily gained popularity. Taking place in midsummer, an easy drive from Portland, it includes local vineyard tastings, culinary delights, seminars, and excursions. There are so many guests, that they are rotated through activities such as alfresco tastings and seminars.
Traveling to Sicily is always a memorable event, with sweeping landscapes and the glistening Mediterranean Sea. The festival moves throughout Sicily, with cultural programs, concerts, excursions to wineries, and cellars filled with Italian and Sicilian wines.
Collecting primarily kosher wines, which are required to abide by a specific set of rules, the festival offers hundreds of different tasting opportunities. The winemaking craft of the country is re-emerging, despite challenging circumstances, and includes food stands for pairings.
This Portuguese festival is a wonderful celebration of autumn; the island is filled with costumed shows, winemakers, live music, exhibitions and attractions, with tasting tables set up lining the streets. A popular story of the origin of Madiera “the elixir” is when a merchant was transporting his wine to the continent and did not have enough room in the ship’s hold. After adding neutral grape spirits for preservation, he placed the remaining barrels on deck, exposed to the searing rays of the sun. It developed a unique taste that came to be known as Madeira.
Founded in 1961, it has been growing in popularity, taking place when the summer heat recedes. The sacred festival is inspired by Dionysus, with dancing, music from traditional instruments such as the bouzouki, grape stomping, and wine tasting from morning till evening.
Spain is filled with a variety of holidays dedicating to the grape harvest in September, but the largest and brightest is the sherry festival in Jerez de la Frontera. Wine flows like a river, along with flamenco dance performances and a magnificent procession when the Queen of the Festival is chosen.
Uniting the tasting wizards with giants of cooking and catering, this gathering of restaurateurs, famous chefs, barmen, winemakers and gourmets has assembled to eat and drink great wine. The festival’s profits go to charity partners, and it has become one of the finest gastronomic events in North America. From traditional American to experimental cuisine, this rich program includes a variety of master classes from culinary legends, lectures and recreational activities.
Despite the onset of cold weather, hundreds of people gather to experience the Bandol wine festival. The mild climate and precipitation levels make it possible to produce memorable wines that age well. Wander through tastings with a special souvenir goblet, while enjoying vibrant street entertainment and French cuisine.
We hope that our wine festivals calendar will help to make a plan for future trips to the wine world. Check the individual festival websites for information regarding dates, as they can shift year to year.
About the Author:
Melisa Marzett is always ready to share her thoughts and fresh ideas in articles. Read her current work at bigpaperwriter.com.
Gather friends and family for a delicious spring meal or prepare an Easter brunch they will love using this airy outdoor table setting inspiration. Layer neutral toned placemats and linen covering for an elegant base, using a gray, pearl and khaki color palette.
Choose fresh flowers in a bright, casual arrangement, low enough that guests are comfortable speaking from either side of the table without being blocked out of the conversation by large blooms.
Gentle candlelight adds an elegance to special occasions. Use empty wine bottles with curled iron Candelabra Wine Bottle Votives and tea lights spaced throughout the table.
Don’t leave guests reaching awkwardly to refill their water glasses. Place plenty of filled carafes within easy access, such as the narrow Stolzle Vulkanos Fire Decanter shown above or delicately etched Lucca Decanter. Add sliced lemon, cucumber or lime for extra flavor and color inside the carafe.
Hearty winter comfort stews should be set aside in favor of lighter foods, such as crunchy chopped salad, smooth deviled eggs, avocado tropical wraps, frittata, and berry tarts.
Ultima Classic Bordeaux Wine Glasses are hardy enough for everyday use and retain clarity and brilliance in formal settings. With a 10-year break resistant warranty, you can rest easy when setting them out among a large number of guests.
Display cheese and other bite-sized appetizers safely covered with a domed antiqued pewter finish Cheese Cloche. It will keep insects away when serving outside, and gives a lovely appearance to the table.
Carve and spread the fromage using stylish White Marble Handle Cheese Knives that are cut in a unique square shape that prevents rolling and includes two planes, a knife, and set of prongs.
We love entertaining—and whether we’re hosting a seated, multi-course meal or just serving casual appetizers, the one constant for us is wine. Depending on the number of guests, we easily go through 6-8 bottles of wine in an evening, and the price adds up. Rather than shouldering the entire cost, sometimes we ask our guests to bring a bottle of wine based on a theme.
Of course, for every guest who brings a pricey bottle that’s been lovingly stored for years in a cellar, there’s a guest who races into BevMo and grabs a bottle with a catchy label and on sale. Some guests can’t wait to open and decant a bottle from their recent vacation in France, and other guests who select a bottle based on ratings and reviews. In other words, if guests are left to their own devices, you’ll likely have a bunch of bottles that won’t make sense together.
A better approach is this: Be specific and tell your guests what to bring to your next dinner party. Awkward, right? No, not in the slightest – the secret is to have an entertaining theme that is flexible enough to accommodate wine lovers of all budgets and expertise levels.
Spiegelau Wine Glasses
Vintage / Varietal
Call your guests and ask them to bring a bottle of the same vintage and varietal, perhaps specifying the region, if it is easily available. Dinner parties are supposed to be fun, don’t request wine that is difficult to find. If your guests have to visit multiple shops and wineries to find something appropriate, it may put a taint on their evening.
When we recently hosted with this theme, we asked our guests to bring 2013 Washington state cabernets. Since we live in the Seattle area, they were easy to find and available in a variety of price ranges. We covered all the bottles with wrapping paper and everyone rated them in order of preference in a blind tasting.
Affordable and Delicious
The cost of wine is often more reflective of the winemaking process, rather than the complexity of aroma and flavor. Tasting room managers have commented that they wish visitors would not arrive demanding the most expensive wine, assuming it was the best, rather than judging the wine on its own merits. We once threw a party where we asked everyone to bring the best bottle of wine they could find for under $30.
We planned it a month in advance, so guests had plenty of time to taste, enjoy and experiment before deciding what to bring. Many arrived with multiple bottles, because they were unable to pick a favorite.
Alternatively, explain what courses you intend to offer as a host, and divide them between guests, perhaps suggesting pairing ideas for each dish.
Ask the Wine Steward
This is an exciting mystery bag, because you never know what you’re going to get. Whether your friends tend to buy their wine at a boutique wine shop, shipped from their wine club, or at the grocery store, chances are, they have a staff member who is just dying to talk about their favorite wine. For this theme, your friends will simply purchase whatever the wine steward recommends.
A couple of tips:
– Set a budget, because most of us would not feel comfortable requiring our friends to buy a $250 wine.
– You can also specify color, varietal or region if you wish.
Create a custom wine cellar with IWA Design Center
If you have experienced a vertical library tasting, you understand the thrill of discovering the differences between each year of a particular vineyard block, caused by weather conditions and other factors. Recreating it at home can be a bit more work, because finding several vintages of the same wine/winemaker can be a challenge, since usually only the most recent releases are available, and it can get expensive.
Preliminary research is crucial; talk to your local wine shop or search online to find out what the options are. If you are able to find an appropriate wine with multiple vintages available, it might be easiest to purchase the vertical yourself and ask for donations from guests to supplement the cost. They will appreciate the amount of work you put into presenting a unique evening, and will be happy to contribute!
For the long-term planner, start purchasing a few bottles of a wine you enjoy and set them aside in your cellar each year with bottle tags marked “Vertical Tasting”. Ask the winemaker or staff what a recommended cellaring time is, and plan accordingly. When creating a zinfandel vertical, wait a few years, then host the party. For varieties that age well, such as sangiovese or petite syrah, you can leave in the cellar for much longer. Imagine how exciting it would be to host a ten-year vertical for your friends and family! IWA Design Center can help you find the best way to display and age the wine in an ideal wine cellar environment while it waits.
The possibilities are endless, but by planning a theme, you can make sure that all of your guests contribute equally and have an amazing time. Have more ideas for great wine themes? We’d love to hear them below!
I noticed years of holiday-hosting has taken a toll on a once-robust collection. IWA has page-after-page of glasses and stemware, casual to fancy and everything between! How to decide from so many fabulous choices? They’re just wine glasses, right? First and foremost, glassware is personal preference, period. There’s no ‘naughty’ glassware at IWA that will land coal in your stockings!
Every manufacturer creates designs that inspire them out of materials that please them. They’re in business because customers agreed. If ever you’re offered a glass not aligned with your personal preferences, zip your lip and enjoy those sips! The vessel can’t replace sharing joy.
Frankly, I’m just a ‘regular’ reindeer when it comes to stemware. I personally like clear, smooth, unadorned glasses, but many of my ‘Rudolph and Misfit Toy’ friends enjoy weighty, colored, or decorated glasses; so now I stock both and everyone feels at ease!
Ultima Classic Wine Glasses
Glass vs. Crystal
The gist: crystal is leaded or mineralized glass that can be pulled thinner than ‘regular’ glass, resulting in super-sparkly clarity with thinner bowls, stems, and rims. Lead-free ever-so slightly detracts from that super-sparkly, crystal-clear color profile but still better-resists scratching. However, glass is sturdy and versatile, and modern tech produces no less delicately-crafted or attractive results.
Mouth-or-machine blown possess more structural integrity. Avoid imperfections such as: bends, warps, bubbles, unfriendly shapes or lips, and unsightly seams from being hastily pressed in molds.
Bowl & Shape
Size: comfortable swirling for aroma detection is essential. If the bowl is too small or short, prepare for a burgundy swoosh across the front of your party dress. Too large and you’ll be straining your schnoz face-down in an awkward game of ‘What’s in the glass’?
Thickness is generally inversely proportionate to cost (not to infer inexpensive guarantees a hefty medieval goblet, in fact, terrific quality can be found at surprisingly affordable price points.) But super-premium stemware (designed specifically for wine consumption) will never feature thick, heavy-handed bowls.
Don’t judge weight: ultra-thin crystal can outweigh the thinnest glass; crystal simply weighs more due to lead or mineral content.
Pros prefer a thin lip. It feels better and prevents wine from collecting. Pros also like tapered tops (narrows towards the opening) versus flared tops (opens out) because tapered keeps aromas milling about in the glass instead of spreading into the air around it. But does that matter if wine remains in your glass for less than an hour? Not likely. So never deny a glass love just because it’s a rebel!
All-purpose / everyday use ($6 – $10 per stem): Look for something like the Schott Zwiesel Tritan Forte line. Even though they’re constructed of lead-free crystal, titanium insures they are highly resistant to breakage, chipping or clouding (and IWA is currently featuring value packs: 8 for the price of 6!)
Mid-range / weekly or monthly use ($10 to $50 per stem) thinner enhances wines, and the refined look and feel of the Spiegelau Vino Grande sprinkles guests with snowflakes of TLC.
A small, intimate dinner of six guests pairing multiple varietals calls for six mouth-blown, lead-free crystal, universal Gabriel Glas stems: showcase wines without having to dirty 3X the glasses!
A twelve-guest gathering would do well with two sets of (6) of the more practical, no-less elegant, but incredibly lightweight Italesse stems.
By comparison, Ultima Modern glasses with their ten-year breakage warranty are the way to go for a bustling buffet of 20 or more revelers, especially if you take advantage of IWA’s current Value Offer: Buy the Glass Globe Rack with 42 Ultima Classic glasses and save $145 on an absolutely stunning party centerpiece with plenty of beautiful, durable glasses for all your guests!
Or throw formality out the window and try playful styles that switch easily from bubbles to liqueurs or cocktails. ‘Tis the season with colorful and tactile Fiesta Flutes; or cool, retro Black Coupes; or the zany, fun Mardi Gras textured flutes, all of which make for festive departures.
Lucca Etched Crystal
More Factors to Consider
Stem length should be long enough to avoid touching the bowl while drinking, but not so tall they topple with the slightest disturbance. Taller than 3-4″ may look stunning on a table, but probably won’t fit in storage areas or the dishwasher. *NOTE: Filter by desired Height at IWAwine.com.
Base Circumference is also important: ‘wide’ hinders toppling, but also catches edges of plates and dishes on busy tables or bountiful spreads. *NOTE: Filter by desired Width at IWAwine.com.
Matching Decanters – Appreciate coordinated aesthetics? Many IWA high-end decanters match stemware sets, making quite a statement when displayed together. The Stölzle Revolution line is just one example and it’s available in two sizes!
Varietal-Specific – Got storage space and cellar selections? Enhance nuanced characteristics of varietals with lines that love to match-make. IWA exclusively carries the Lucca line, plus Riedel, Schott Zwiesel and more!
Al Fresco, Super-Casual, or Crowd-friendly – ‘No glass’ doesn’t have to mean ‘no class’! Check out our Italesse line of Polycristal Stemware or the infinitely popular Govino Stemless non-breakables with their infamous ‘handy’ thumb-nub. Great for the outdoors, boats, pools (and wintry hot tubs!)
Glassware Cleaning Supplies
Glassware Care & Cleaning
*Keep your collection looking brand-spanking-new for years!*
Many crystal glasses are top-rack dishwasher-safe, (glasses should not come in contact with other glasses and especially not metal), but it really depends how much manhandling your stemware will endure overall. Proper care preserves and lengthens their life. Narrow openings benefit greatly from hand-washing with crystal-friendly stemware brushes that IWA sells: choose from Decanter, Flute, Goblet, and Stemware.
Always wash and dry glass and crystal gently but thoroughly. To remove water spots, smudges, and enhance sparkle, never hold the base in one hand while twisting around the top, you’ll snap thin stems. Hold the glass by the bowl and hand-polish with Riedel Microfiber Polishing Cloths.
Naturally, IWA also sells other Crystal Drying Kit and a plethora of Drying Mat tailored for streak-and-spot-free Decanters and Glassware. Store those squeaky-clean stems upright on their base, unless, of course, you’ve bought IWA’s Exclusive Barrel Stave Hanging Stemware Rack, handcrafted from reclaimed barrel staves. (It holds up to 35 Bordeaux-size stems!)
Ho-ho-hope the only tinkling or shattering you hear at your next holiday event comes from the icicles outside!
About the Author: Cin-Cin! Lori Stevens is a former wine magazine food editor who has worked in multiple wineries and traveled throughout many of the world’s wine-producing regions. She currently lives in Seattle. Bottoms up!
This time of year, with its crisp air and the holidays just around the corner, always makes me think of the South of France, and it has me wishing I could be walking the picturesque Christmas market in Aix-en-Provence sipping a cup of vin chaud.
After taking a road trip through this beautiful wine country, my love for France and it’s culture has flourished. There are some wonderful vineyards to visit and wines to taste. You can follow in my footsteps to start on your wine tasting trip through Provence and Southern Rhône.
Le Verger des Papes
First you need to fly into Marseille or to Paris and then take the TGV high speed train to Avignon. It is necessary to rent a car, just be ready for a lot of traffic roundabouts if you have not driven in France before. Visiting these wineries should be broken up into a couple days, which adds to the adventure by staying in the magical cities of Aix-en-Provence and Avignon (or somewhere in the countryside if that is more your speed). It is best to call or message ahead of time to arrange a tasting and tour of the wineries, however some of the wineries listed below are open to the public year round and you can drop in for a taste of their wines.
The Southern Rhône wines are grenache, syrah, cinsault and mourvèdre dominant blends, usually with the Châteauneuf-du-Pape appellation, which allows up to 15 different grape varieties. Many of the vineyards in Châteauneuf-du-Pape are covered in large stones called galets, or “pudding stones”. The majority of the wine in the Southern Rhône is bottled under the Côtes du Rhône Appellation, which is a step up in quality with 20 villages allowed to add their names to the bottle.
From Avignon it is a 25 minute drive to Domaine de la Solitude, a large and historic estate just outside the town of Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
Château de Beaucastel is a world renowned wine estate. Call ahead to make an appointment, and they are closed on weekends. Their Châteauneuf-du-Pape Rouge is made of primarily mourvèdre with all permitted grape varieties in the blend. There is also a tasting room, La Cave Famille Perrin, in town that is open to the public (closed Sundays).
Domaine de Cristia is an organic third generation producer. They are one of my favorites with classic Châteauneuf-du-Pape wines.
Next up, continue for 50 minutes to La Verrière.
Call or message La Verrière to arrange a tour and tasting. Their Chêne Bleu wines are organic and you can expect excellent hospitality during your visit. The estate is tucked away up in the mountains bordering the Gigondas Appellation and Côtes-du-Rhône village Sablet.
Provence is known for it’s wonderful rosé, which is delicately colored, crisp and perfect for a leisurely picnic. The Provence rosé is made from grenache, cinsault, tibouren, mourvèdre and syrah grapes. It can only be made in the Saignée method, which involves quick contact with the skins and seeds during the winemaking process.
Fontaine de la Place de la Rotonde in Aix-en-Provence
Chateau Paradis an organic, gravity fed winery that is about 20 minutes north of Aix-en-Provence and produces delicious traditional rosé. It is open Monday through Saturday (closed for lunch).
Aix-en-Provence is a charming and lively city with superb dining and shopping. The Musée Granet, which includes a Paul Cézanne exhibit, is a must see; many of the paintings depict the surrounding countryside. If you are planning a trip in December, indulge in some warm vin chaud while walking in the holiday market, where I fell in love with mulled wine after trying it for the first time. It may sound strange to drink a hot wine beverage, but it is a wonderful treat, especially at a holiday party on a cold evening. The spicy mulled wine fills the air with a festive aroma of clove and cinnamon.
Mulled Wine Recipe:
Traditional Vin Chaud
What you’ll need:
1 bottle of medium bodied French red wine (a simple Côtes du Rhône or Languedoc red blend in the lower price range and lower alcohol range will do)
½ cup sugar plus a touch more depending on tastes
⅛ cup cognac or brandy (optional)
3 Cinnamon sticks
1 Tbs whole cloves
Cheese cloth or large tea ball
Medium size pot
Pour wine into the pot and turn on medium high heat.
Zest half the orange.
Juice the whole orange and stir in along with lemon juice, sugar and brandy.
Add spices and orange zest tied in cheesecloth or tea ball.
Keeping wine below a boil and steep for 10 minutes stirring occasionally.
Remove spice bag and turn down to low heat.
Ladle into small coffee cups or wine glasses, serve while warm.
A crockpot on ‘low’ is a great way to keep your vin chaud nice and warm for the evening, but this recipe is probably going to need to be doubled because it goes quick! For an added festive touch you can garnish with thinly sliced orange wheels. Sante!
About the Author: Schuyler Cox is a Native Virginian with a penchant for travel and the finer things in life. A gourmand by nature, Sommelier by training.
For collections small or massive, IWA’s extensive no-brainer wine storage solutions run the full gamut: there is literally no collection on Earth our wine storage Masterminds can’t accommodate! Whether temporary, short-term, or long-term; from self-contained units to systematic organizers; natural temps or power-controlled—we’ve got you (and your wine) covered!
Denotes an IWA Exclusive!
Quick Primer: Wine Storage Basics
Liquid temperature counts, not air temperature.
Ideal storage temp range: 52°F to 58°F. Once chosen, must not fluctuate more than 4°F
Ideal serving temp range: 60°F to 65°F (Whites may go lower.)
Wine stored below 50°F:
Throws sediment in form of tartaric acid crystals, (tasteless grit.)
Freezes between 15°F to 20°F. Cracked bottles obvious, compromised corks aren’t: Sticky corks or wine stains under the capsule are signs of leakage—no way to tell if wine is affected but to open and taste.
Less=Best. Takes considerable time to damage unless near source. NO direct sunlight! (Total darkness ideal for long-term storage.) NOTE: Fridge units not always UV-resistant glass: short-term, not a big deal; long-term, problem.
Place vulnerable units in normally-dark locations, or
Purchase anti-UV film made for windows from home improvement stores.
Aluminum foil also works, but ain’t pretty…
Ideal relative humidity: 60% – 70%.
(Higher not ideal for long-term storage: labels may mold or fall off.)
Wine needs to be kept in an odor-free environment. Don’t store near highly-volatile chemical compounds (solvents, cleaners,) or aromatic foods like onions and garlic. Watch garages and basement pantries or workshops. Some air will always get in via the cork, therefore, odorous molecules can and will get in over a couple years or more. (Don’t fret about weekender paint jobs or few months’ remodeling.)
BOTTLE ORIENTATION Short-term: Upright or horizontal. Long-term: Horizontal. (Some experts say Champagne OK upright or upside-down.) Very old wines: slanted angles that minimize ullage along body OK.
Current debate du jour; but generally None = Best.
THERMOMETER / HYGROMETER (IWA sells them!)
Your fridge/ cellar/ storage area’s best friend.
LED Chilling Tub – 4 bottle cap. Highlight the goods at any party with our glowing, hip, sleek, break-resistant acrylic tub made in Italy. Charge LED light base before inserting into tub; illuminates up to 4 hours. Indoor/ outdoor. Removable/ rechargeable.
Black Ceramic Bucket & Chiller – Our stylish chiller cools a bottle as much as 30˚F – naturally! Simply rinse and, as the water evaporates, it cools your wine. Matching Champagne bucket is available, too.
WINEKEEPER LINE (for open bottles- 4-14 days)
Practical for designated ‘bar’ or service areas and consumed within a few weeks. Three models:
1. Basic Keeper – Uncork free-standing bottles, insert stopper faucet, and serve. Choose disposable Nitrogen or Argon. Quick-connect fittings with multiple faucets protects multiple bottles.
2. Vintner – Display bottles in a handcrafted wooden case. Looks great on the bar while concealing the Nitrogen or Argon gas canister.
3. Monterey – Configurable deluxe model maintains a variety of storage and serving temperature zones (42° F –64° F) to accommodate reds and whites. Wood or metal finish. (Refillable gas cylinders separate.)
45 Bottle Wine Jail
Beautifully displays wine and Champagne: constructed from solid iron, with durable black powdercoat finish. Sliding bolt closure accommodates small padlocks. (Padlocks not included.)
96 Bottle Wine Jail
Same as 45-bottle jail above, but adds versatile racking sized to fit up to 96 individual Champagne bottles plus a metal plaque with your choice of letter initial.
Solid Wood Racks
Durable Bamboo or Pine hardwood 110-Bottle Tasting Rack has 3 ½” openings to fit most Champagnes:
Three brands, three top-most leaders in the category. Bottle capacity ranges shown. All vary in options: sizes, internal configurations, roll v. slide drawers, temp ranges, and finishes. (Highest-end may extend storage):
Don’t forget Bottle Tags! Hang tags from bottlenecks to read details without disturbing.
Custom Wine Cellars And Cabinets
IWA’s Long-Term Storage Solutions – For Life
Why Cellar? Unlike whisky, wine lacks the alcohol to preserve indefinitely. Whenever stored outside ideal ranges, it is subject to greatly-reduced aging time. For example, an age-worthy wine that normally requires 10 years’ aging could degrade in a few months if subjected to a span of 78°F thanks to a fridge malfunction or fluke power outage.
As the environment warms or cools, wine and air in the bottle expand or contract. The only thing that can give? The cork: it either moves slightly, or else some air/wine seeps past it in either direction. Multiple temperature fluctuations cause quite a bit of air to actually replace evaporating wine (thus low fill or ullage seen in older wines; oxidized flavors in others.)
Don’t let your investments prematurely pass their prime! Let the pros tackle your cellaring… IWA highly recommends—it’s simple and free to get started, and you have a say every step of the way.
Don’t Judge: Some people like aged wines for the secondary flavors, and some don’t, preferring primary fruit flavors. Let all guests drink what they enjoy so you can enjoy each other’s company, instead!
About the Author: Sante! Lori Stevens is a former wine magazine food editor who has worked in multiple wineries and traveled throughout many of the world’s wine-producing regions. She currently lives in Seattle. Bottoms up!