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Online Wine Clubs

I have a confession: I LOVE wine shops. I visit wine shops for fun.  It’s not a casual love. Going to fine wine shops for me is like a shopaholic going to Neiman Marcus. I love strolling down the aisles, reading  wine labels, discovering new varietals, and taking advantage of weekly wine tastings.  Part of the fun is the hunt for new and interesting wines.  Engaging all my senses; see, smell, touch and taste heightened my experience. Traversing the wine shop aisles was my only mode of discovery. Skepticism prevented me from trying shopping for wine online.  I did not think you could have the same experience.  I was wrong.  Online wine clubs are an exciting way to appreciate wines and great gifts to share with others.  Wine clubs no longer randomly select wines for you.  It is a personalize experience.

 

Single Serving – Wine by the glass

VINEBOX was my first plunge into the wine clubs’ membership universe.  Recently, I purchased the Twelve Nights of Wine.  The Twelve Nights of Wine is VINEBOX version of the Wine Advent calendar.  I was pleasantly surprised. The wine was presented in a beautifully decorated box.  The decorated box contains 12 sexy glass tubes. Each tube is single serving (3.3 ounces).  A closed nitrogen system is used to bottle each tube, preserving the wine up to three years.  Beyond the sleek packaging, the quality of wines is exceptional. The wines were interesting and multi-dimensional. My inventory was dry European wines, from France and Italy.  White and red wines from popular regions, such as Medoc, Brouilly, and Sicily, were among the selections.

VINEBOX is the perfect sample gift. You do not commit to a bottle of wine.  This is great for the person who likes to try a little of this and a little of that.  You can choose between two sample boxes.  The original VINEBOX has nine wine tubes.   They have a new brand called the Usual.  It is “a large glass of real wine, in a bottle”.  It is six ounces per wine. The Usual is a box of six glasses of wine.  The Usual does not offer white wine, just red and Rosé. You can make a one-time purchase or quarterly subscription.  Prices range from $48 to $72 per package.

Taste Profile Subscription

Bright Cellars Wine personalize your wine subscription based on your taste profile.  Before you select your wine, you are prompted to take a seven-question quiz. “How do you like your tea?”, is an example of a question asked.  Once you take the quiz you can select white, red or combination.  I took the quiz and my selections were close to the types of wines I like, with one exception.  They selected a Moscato, not my first choice.  I was able to swap it out for another wine.  Four wines were selected. All of the wines were California wines rated on a 100-point scale.  Most of the wines were 92 points or higher.

The cool part about Bright Cellars is that they encourage your feedback.  They are all about personalizing your selection to better match your taste profile.  You can choose the frequency of your subscription.  Monthly subscriptions start at $80.

Winc is another taste profile wine club.  You are asked similar questions before your wine selection is presented.  In addition to the flavor profile questions, you are asked what price point do you normally pay for a bottle of wine.  Which is great! They are conscience of your wallet. Prices range from $15 to $25+ per bottle.  Winc started with a California winery and partnered with other domestic and international vineyards that produce small batch wines. You won’t find these wines at your local wine shop. In addition to red and white wines, they offer sparkling wines and ciders.  They even offer Vegan wines.  The monthly subscription starts with three bottles. You can cancel your subscription at any time without penalty.  They often run specials and shipping is inexpensive.  My first order was $79, but with the specials and discounts I paid $47.00  Winc is offering a special for your first time purchase. You can take $20 off.  Click here to view your deal.

Click and Order

WSJwine is The Wall Street Journal wine club.  It is one of the most well-known clubs. You pick and click.  There is not a big selection process.  You can purchase 1, 6, or 12 bottles without joining the wine club.  If you are looking for a regular allotment, the wine club is available and wine shipments are quarterly.  You can get a mix case, or select white or red wines.   There are two clubs Discovery and Premier Club.  The Premier Club are rare find wines.  You can customize your case with this membership. The Discovery Club membership is $149.99 per shipment (not including shipping cost) and Premier Club is $239.99 quarterly. The holidays are a perfect time to join because they are offering a lot of incentives.

Keep in mind shipping regulations and time when deciding on a wine club.  Make sure the club ships to your state.  An adult 21 years or old must sign for the shipment.  Consider having the package delivered to your job so there is someone always available to sign for the package. Usually it takes longer than you think to ship the package to you.  Allow for shipping time, especially if you are giving this as a gift.

Each product featured has been independently selected and reviewed. If you make a purchase using the links included a commission may be earned.  Enjoyed this blog?  Great, receive more Vino 301 blogs twice a month. Subscribe to Vino 301’s email list and receive your very own copy of our blog. Subscribe here

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Membership Rewards: Wine Club by Vino 301

Vino 301 is excited to announce our first membership club.  We love vineyard hopping and wine tasting with you.  We want to reward you with savings. Wine Club by Vino 301 is a rewards program for individuals who love to explore Maryland vineyards.   The more wine tours you take the greater the rewards and savings.  You can select the level of membership based on how many visits you take over a year.  You may select from any wine region (Patapsco, Heritage, Westminster and Chesapeake region) and specialty tours (Chocolate and Wine, Wine and Cheese, and Wine Beer & Spirits: A Beverage Adventure).

Membership Levels

 

Silver

Gold

Platinum

Discounted Wine Tours

2

3

 

4

Free Lunch

Free Wine with Lunch

Cost Per Tour

$95

$110 $118
Wine Club by Vino 301

Cost Per Tour

$76 $80.75

$80.75

Invoiced

Bi-annually Tri-annually

Quarterly

How does it work?
  • Join Wine Club by Vino 301 and select your membership level (silver, gold or platinum) you want
  • Make a 25% deposit.
  • Select gift card option and you will receive a voucher number at check out. Use this voucher number to book your tour at any time.
  • You will be billed quarterly for the balance of your Wine Club By Vino 301
  • You can book your tours at any time. Your membership pricing is listed. Visit Vino 301 booking website.

Rules:  Wine Club By Vino 301 membership is valid for a year.  Your membership starts from the date of purchase. Tours must be taken within that years.  Membership not renewed annually. You may cancel or upgrade your membership at any time. You are responsible for any unpaid portion of a wine tour taken.  Deposits are non-refundable.

Joining is easy! Click here to join

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Thanksgiving Dessert Wines

There blogs about selecting the perfect Thanksgiving wine.  Pinot Noir is the go-to wine for most dishes. Pinot Noir complements just about everything on your plate even your aunt’s green bean casserole. But, where are the blogs about dessert wines pairings? What do you with pumpkin pie… coffee? What about pecan pie… milk?  No, this is a feast a celebration of gratitude.  We need to top the meal off right before the tryptophan coma begins.  Here are some simple tips to selecting Thanksgiving dessert wines.

Select a wine equally or sweeter than the dessert

Food has an impact on the way wine will taste. Sweet food makes dry wine taste astringent, bitter and less sweet and fruity. A Pinot Grigio with a pineapple upside down cake increases the perception of the wine’s acidity. The sweeter the wine reduces the perception of bitterness and the burning effect of alcohol.  Moscato d’Asti brings out the cake’s bright fruit and syrupy flavors.

Fruity dessert wines are a good partner for chocolate-based confections

Recioto della Valpolicella is delicious Italian wine that has aromas of cherry liqueur, and fig, and plum. Recioto is similar to Amarone.  It is not inexpensive, but worth it.

Savory desserts like pumpkin or sweet potato pie are best with semi-dry wines

A semi-dry wine with nutty flavors will not detract from nutmeg and cinnamon flavors. Hungarian Tokaji (‘toe-kye’) has intense dried fruits and sweet spices. French Sauternes is another wonderful option.  Sauternes has hints of vanilla and citrus stone fruits.

 

Port style wines enhance nutty desserts flavors

Your mother’s deep-dish chocolate pecan pie is perfect match for Madeira. Madeira is a fortified aged wine. Boal and Malmsey are sweeter styles of the wine.  Flavors of caramel, peach, burnt sugar and hazelnut are familiar with this wine.

Late harvest wines are a great match for fruit desserts

Late harvest wines, like ice wine or Eiswien, have intense concentrated juice and are perfect with apple pie and peach cobbler.  The flavors are pronounced, high acidity and syrupy sweetness.  Maryland’s Vidal Blanc grape is frequency used to make ice wines.

Small pours go a long way

Dessert wines are higher in sugar and alcohol levels are meant to be sip. Happy Thanksgiving!  Have a blessed and safe holiday.

Enjoyed this blog?  Great, receive more Vino 301 blogs twice a month. Subscribe to Vino 301’s email list and receive your very own copy of our blog. Subscribe here

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Wine Bar at Home Ideas

June is a busy month.  Weddings, graduations, Father’s Day, anniversaries are just some of the celebrations in June.  Celebrations are fun often marking new beginnings or monumental occasions.  For the people attending the celebrations, it can be an investment. An investment in Hallmark cards and gift cards. Instead of investing in gift cards, invest in making more memories.  Let’s create a home wine bar to mark these milestone events.  A home wine bar can be as small or large as you make it.  Here are wine bar at home ideas.

Wine Glasses

I could and should write a separate blog on wine glasses.  You can get lost and confused trying to select the “right” type of wine glass.  Let’s keep it simple.  At the most, you should have three types of glasses: red, white and sparkling.  Purchase six of each type.  If you want to keep it funky and fresh, select a stemless glass.   Make the red wine glass the stemless glass.  It can double as a cocktail glass.

What is the difference among white, red and sparkling glasses?  It is all about the bowl (where you pour the wine). Red wine requires a larger bowl for the wine to breathe. It has more surface to air contact.   A smaller bowl is sufficient for white and sparkling wines.

If you want to get fancy, coupe glasses make the wine bar look sophisticated. Coupe glasses are the timeless Champagne glasses. These glasses also super versatile. Not only are coupes an acceptable alternative to flutes for champagne, they can add drama to your cocktails or desserts. If you still have trouble deciding on selecting sparkling wine glasses, read Glass Matters: The Best Glass to Sip Sparkling Wine

Wine Pearls

Wine Pearls are the answer to the quick chill.  They keep wine chilled like whiskey stones. They can be used in red or white wine. The more pearls you use, the frostier your beverage gets. These stainless-steel ice-cubes chill without altering or diluting delicate flavors and without scratching wine glasses.

Wine Decanter

Decanters are gorgeous accents to any bar.  They can range in price from $30 to $300.  No matter what the price, the purposes are simple. Carefully decanting wines ensure the sediment remains in the wine bottle.  It separates the wine from the sediment. Secondly, decanting aerates the wine.  When wine is slowly poured from the wine bottle to a decanter the wine’s aromas and flavors become more apparent.

Bottle Stoppers

Wine bottle stoppers can be decorative, ornate gifts.  Some stoppers can be monogram or personalized.  However, if you looking to preserve the wine you should select a practical solution like Silicone Wine Stopper or the vacuum seal stoppers.  These create a tight seal around the wine bottle lip preventing air from seeping in. These stoppers create a leak-proof, air-tight seal in virtually any size wine bottle.

Wine Opener

A good wine opener is as essential as breathing.  Nothing is worse than struggling to open a bottle of wine.  A good wine opener is a wino best friend.  I cannot begin to tell you which is the best is to use. It is about personal preference.  A wine key is my favorite. It is small, easy for me to use and I have one in every handbag I own (literary). You never know when you have to open a bottle.  A girl has to be prepared.

Here are a few tips you should consider when purchasing a wine opener.  Make sure you have a foil cutter apparatus with the wine opener.  You do not want shards of foil in your wine.  The wine opener should have a good grip when you are handling the wine bottle.  If you are selecting an electric opener, make sure it has a good battery life.  I hate when you have the opener sitting on the charger all day and a few minutes off the charger the opener is died.

Chiller

If your gift recipient has more than 20 to 30 bottles in their house or apartment at any one time, then it is time to start considering wine storage.  Check out our holiday gift giving guide about purchasing a wine cooler.

However, most people just starting out will only have a few bottles at a time.  A single bottle wine chiller keeps the wine bottle chilled longer.  You can place the chiller in the freezer or fridge before the wine is ready to serve.  Make sure the chiller is well insulated.  These chillers come in multiple styles, such as  brushed stainless steel, marble, and electronic.

Happy gift giving.  Let us know if you are building your own wine bar. We would love to hear what you are doing.  Better yet, share your pictures with us on Instagram @vino301 or Facebook.

Enjoyed this blog?  Great, receive more Vino 301 blogs twice a month. Subscribe to Vino 301’s email list and receive your very own copy of our blog. Subscribe here

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Usher Summer in with Refreshing Sangria

We made it through the coldest, rainy spring ever.  The hot, hazy days of summer will be here soon.  (not complaining, just observing) I cannot think of a better way to greet summer than with a pitcher of refreshing Sangria.  You can buy Sangria mix at the store, but do not.  Sangria is easy to make and is the perfect summer drink. The cool thing about Sangria is it is all about taking your favorite wine, your favorite fruits, and experimenting with them.  We are sharing a couple of our recipes with you to get you started.

Sangria History:

The term “sangria” dates to the 18th century. It is generally believed to have been taken from the Spanish “sangre” (blood), in reference to the red color of the drink; some believe, however, that the word comes from Sanskrit via the Urdu “sakkari” (sugared wine), according to Wikipedia.  Water was unsafe to drink 2,000 years ago.  It was filled with bacteria. According to WineIntro, “The alcohol would take care of any bacteria in the drink. Most households made some wine from fruits and berries in the area. It was very natural to “liven things up” by adding more spices, fruits, and other items to the wine to give it a different flavor.”

Sangria Tips:
  1. Prep the day before – Chill your favorite red or white wines and mixers overnight to create a refreshing punch.
  2. Freeze the fruit, instead of chilling– Prep the fruit the day before and freeze it.  Squeeze a little lemon juice on the fruit to prevent the fruit from browning.
  3. Substitute the frozen fruit for ice – Ice will water down your drink.  The frozen fruit will keep your Sangria chilled.  You can buy frozen fruit too.
  4. Use a single varietal flavorful red wines – Use red wines that are big in flavor and aromas such as Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot
  5. Use medium body or sweet white wines – Medium body Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio or Riesling is a better white wine base than high acidic wine.
  6. Use a serving pitcher with a pinched lip – A pinched lip pitcher prevents the fruit and other solids from plopping into the glass and splashing.

 

Vino 301’s Sangria Recipes

We experimented and created our own concoctions. Here are a couple Sangria recipes to inspire you.  Have fun and create your own!

Rosé Watermelon & Honeydew Sangria

12 cups Watermelon

5 cups   Honeydew

15 Strawberries

1 Lemon

1 Bottle of dry Rosé

1 ½ cup Peach Brandy

4 Cups of Ginger Ale

  • Chop fruit (large chunks)
  • Puree 9 cups of watermelon and 4 cups of honeydew with ¼ cup of Brandy
  • Strain watermelon mixture
  • In a large decorative pitcher combine wine, brandy and ginger ale
  • Add watermelon mixture to wine mixture
  • Add remaining fruit

Basket of Berries Sangria

½ cup Raspberries

½ cup Blackberries

½ cup Strawberries

1 cup Apple Brandy

1 Bottle of dry red wine

12 oz Ginger Ale

Lemon slices

Mint

  • Combine fruit and place in a large pitcher
  • Add red wine, Brandy and ginger ale
  • Garnish with lemon slices and mint

What is your favorite Sangria?  Share your recipe with us in the comments session below.

Enjoyed this blog?  Great, receive more Vino 301 blogs twice a month. Subscribe to Vino 301’s email list and receive your very own copy of our blog. Subscribe here

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2018 Maryland Wine Festival Complete Guide

Wine in the Woods is this weekend, May 19 – 20, 2018, in Columbia, MD.  Wine in the Woods is the unofficial kick off of the 2018 wine festival season in Maryland.  This festival is a large outdoor festival featuring over 30 wineries and vineyards from Maryland.  For 25 years, the festival has included wine tastings, food vendors, crafts and live music.

Wine in the Woods attracts hundreds, if not thousands of people.  It is an annual pilgrimage for some.  A time once a year to reunite with old friends and enjoy great wine.  For most, it is a sign summer is almost here.

If you cannot attend Wine in the Woods, no worries there are many more festivals this summer and fall.  We compiled a list of over 30 wine festivals in Maryland.  The festivals span from Washington County to Ocean City, Maryland and cities in between.   Below is the 2018 Maryland Wine Festival Complete Guide.  It is in a .pdf format for you to print and carry with you.

Before you dust off your lawn chair and picnic basket, we have some tips for you to have the most enjoyable festival experience.

Go for Free

When you volunteer at festivals your admission is free. Larger festivals, like Maryland Wine Festival, need volunteers to help the day of the event.  You can contact the organizers of the festival to learn more about the jobs available.  Wineries also need assistance.  Wineries advertise for volunteers on their website or post volunteer information in their newsletters.  Volunteers are needed to pour wine.  The wineries will cover your admission in exchange for your time.   It is not too late to volunteer, contact your favorite vineyard.

Get Your Ticket Early

More popular festivals sell out and will not sell tickets at the entrance.  Linganore Winecellar’s Caribbean festival is an example of a festival which sells out every year.  Every year!  Do not wait until the week of or day of to purchase your ticket.

Avoid Pre-gaming

It is fun to have a drink or two with your friends before the festival, but remember to pace yourself.  It is not a good look to be drunk before 11:00 am. Avoid going all out before the festival.  There are several tasting options at the festival.  Generally, the tasting samples are one ounce pours.  Each winery pours between 4 to 6 wines, so you could potentially have a single glass of wine at each tent.  Remember wine festivals are a marathon not a sprint.

Leave the Booze at Home   

Festivals have strict policies about bringing alcohol not sold at festivals into the event.  You cannot bring alcohol to the festival.  It is not an attempt for the organizers to sell more wine.   It is the law.  Your bags will be checked before you entered.  Any alcohol found at bag check will be confiscated.

Happy festival hopping!  For more tips, check out our earlier blog Tips to Navigating Maryland Wine Festivals Share with us in the comment section below, what is your favorite festival to attend. Here is your 2018 Maryland Wine Festival Complete Guide two page guide.

Wine festivals 2018

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Raise Your Wine Glasses on Cinco De Mayo… Try Mexican Wines, Yes Mexican Wines

Many of us will celebrate Cinco De Mayo in a few days.  Cinco De Mayo celebrates the Mexican army’s 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War.  For many Americans Cinco De Mayo is the commemoration of Mexican culture and heritage.  For others, it is an exploration of 2 for 1 Margaritas or Corona Beers.  (no judgement) Instead of toasting the Mexican army’s victory with tequila, try Mexican wines.

Yes, I said wines.  You may be thinking anybody can make wine but is Mexican wine good.  The answer is a resounding YES! Recently, I tried L.A. Cetto wines.  L.A. Cetto is the largest winemaker in the Guadalupe Valley.  Guadalupe Valley wine region is near the Pacific coast in Ensenada area of Baja California. Baja California is an ideal grape growing area because of its Mediterranean climate and its sandy soil.  Close to 90 percent of wine is produced in this area.  Cabernet Sauvignon, Nebbiolo, Barbera and Tempranillo are popular grapes grown in this region.

L.A. Cetto is one of the oldest vineyards in Mexico established in the 1920s.  Cetto family immigrated from Italy bringing old world charm and utilizing modern grape growing techniques to cultivate its vineyards.   Over time, Cetto family purchased several smaller vineyards and became the largest vintner in the region.

Mexican Wines - YouTube

2016 Sauvignon Blanc

The Sauvignon Blanc has a beautiful cornflower yellow color that magically reflects the light.  Traditional aromas, like lemongrass and spring flowers capture your nose.  Mexico’s extremely warm temperatures has an influence on the grape flavors producing tropical flavors.  Kiwi and earthy flavors, like tomato, are on the palate.  This is a departure from New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs, which have fresh cut grass flavors.  I love this departure.  Pour me more! This Sauvignon Blanc is well balanced with a short finish.  It is perfect to drink by itself or pair with your favorite Mexican dish. I enjoyed it with fresh salsa and chips.

 

2014 Petite Sirah

The Petite Sirah is a gorgeous jewel tone wine.  It is a deep ruby color.  Smokey and slate aromas are on the nose.  Blackberry scents greet your nose as well.  The wine is fruity without being jammy.  Pomegranate and cherries flavors are prominent. It is a medium body wine with medium tannin.  This is a great wine to have with grilled meat, perfect for the summer.

L.A. Cetto wines are reasonably priced.  They range from $8.00 – $17.00 a bottle.  You can find them at large wine stores in the Washington and Baltimore area.   Try a Mexican wine this weekend and let us know what you think.  Cheers!

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