Should I Dump This Wine?

Let’s be honest here, wine is not cheap. So what are you supposed to do if you really don’t like the wine you just opened? You paid good money for it. Granted we all have our own definition of what is expensive or what is cheap, but irregardless, when you buy anything, you expect to like it and to enjoy it. So again, what do you do when you really don’t like the wine you just opened?

Is the wine bad? Is it just me? I know when I don’t like a wine, but I am never sure why. Mostly I use hubby as a guinea pig.  We don’t have the same taste in wine so if he thinks it is bad, then I feel fairly confident that it isn’t just me.  So goes the wine I was going to write about today.  It is a bottle that I brought home from the Wine Blogger’s Conference in Portland, Oregon in 2012.

On the first sip, I got this really sour taste at the end.  I thought it was just me.  So I tried to aerate it to see if it got any better.  It didn’t.  I  tried pairing it with some great bread sticks I picked up at an Italian Market here in Winston – didn’t help. The wine actually tasted like it had been open for 4-5 days and not stored or sealed properly since.  So in comes hubby.  (He is just so agreeable!)  I told him I needed him to try this wine because I didn’t care for it but couldn’t decide if it was me or the wine.  He graciously agreed but only wanted a tasting, not a full glass.  I poured him a small glass.  One sip and he handed it back.  He thought it was vinegar, which actually made me feel better – it WAS the wine and not me.

Yes, we dumped this wine!

As you have gathered, this wine was a media sample I brought home from the conference.  It didn’t cost me anything,  but I still hate to throw wine out.  It goes against everything I believe in.  And it is even worse when I pay for it.  I had a friend tell me one time that she just powered through it when she tasted a wine she didn’t like.  Unfortunately, I can’t do that.

It is your choice whether you dump or drink, but if you don’t like it (it doesn’t matter if the wine is bad or if you simply don’t care for it), dump it.  There are so many great wines out there that we will never have the chance to enjoy, why waste your time on something that doesn’t measure up.  If you think it really is just you, take it to a friend.  Maybe they will enjoy it – but seal and store it properly and take it the very next day.

red wine

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To Wine Club or Not to Wine Club?

I visited wine country back in May – Sonoma County, Santa Rosa and absolutely loved it (didn’t even get upset over the parking ticket). However, I wasn’t prepared for the onslaught of requests to join wine clubs. Yes, we have wine clubs here in North Carolina, but they seem to be an after thought when you are getting ready to pay for your purchase, not the main focus of your tasting. I ended up joining three wine clubs, mainly because I couldn’t get those wines any other way, especially back in North Carolina. Another misconception on my part was thinking that ALL California wines are widely distributed and that I just wasn’t shopping in the right places. Wrong! Most of these wines can only be purchased at the winery and the majority of them are only available to wine club members.

So this started me thinking about the criteria I consider important in choosing a wine club. Not all of these questions will apply to you, but some of them will. At any rate, don’t join a wine club just to be joining. Make sure you get what you want and expect out of membership.

1. Does the wine club offer exclusive wines to the members? (Not all the wines need to be exclusive, but every wine club shipment needs to have wines included that ARE NOT available for everyone to purchase.)

2. Does the winery offer special discounts to wine club members? (Discounts are important. Keep in mind that the winery is guaranteed a certain level of income every time a wine club shipment goes out; therefore, when you visit the winery, they should be willing to give you a substantial discount on your purchases. I would suggest as much as 30-40% on case purchases.)

3. Does the winery offer special events for wine club members only? (Once again, the winery knows exactly how much they are going to make off you with every wine club shipment. They should want to keep you happy and one way to do this is to offer special “exclusive” events that only wine club members can attend.)

4. Are there costs associated with joining the wine club? (There should be no fees for joining the wine club. Obviously the winery needs to know they can count on you as a member to fulfill your obligation to them for the discounts and parties they give you. Members should be required to sign an agreement stating that they will stay in the club for a set amount of time and credit card information should be furnished at the time of joining the wine club so that shipments during this “set amount of time” can be paid for timely. This creates a win/win situation for both the winery and the wine club member.)

5. Do you have the option of selecting your wine preference? (Most wine clubs will give you the option of choosing all reds, all whites, or a combination. If you only drink reds, don’t join a club that doesn’t offer the option of choosing only red wine in your shipment.)

6. Can you select the time of year you want your wine club shipments sent out? (This is not an issue if you live close to the winery and can drop by to pick up your wines; however, if you live on the “other” coast, this is an important consideration. All the wine clubs I joined in California had to agree to NOT ship my wines during the summer months because of the excessive heat.)

7. Do you receive anything from the winery for bringing new members into the wine club? (The winery should offer something “special” if you bring someone to the winery that joins the wine club while they are visiting with you. I would suggest a free bottle of wine to show their appreciation for you, their loyal customer.)

8. Do you get a free tasting or a free glass of wine when visiting the winery? (All wine club members should get their choice of a free tasting or a glass of wine when dropping by the winery to visit or bring a guest.)

9. Can you sit and enjoy a bottle (or glass) of wine in comfort at the winery? (This doesn’t just apply to wine club members, but if it is 95 degrees outside and the humidity is 98%, the winery shouldn’t expect you to sit outside to drink your wine. The same goes for cold weather. The customer’s satisfaction and comfort should be a priority for the winery.)

My example would be Kunde Estate in Kenwood, CA. They offer a special area in the tasting room referred to as the “Kinneybrook Room” for wine club members to sit, enjoy a cheese tray and sip their wine. This type of treatment should be the norm, not the exception.

So what is your criteria for the “perfect” wine club? I would love to hear your thoughts.

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