5 Reasons to Shop Local Farmers Markets

These days we have so much information available to us and, for many, that means making more educated decisions about the products we purchase. This is true particularly for the food and beverages we bring into our homes to nourish and treat ourselves and our families. That’s why so many of us are turning to local and organic foods and wines that are produced on a smaller scale. There are so many benefits of buying local, and that is especially true when it comes to local wine.

A farmer holding grapes used to make local wine, illustrating the benefits of buying local

5 Reasons to Shop Local Farmers Markets

Here’s why we think buying local is a great idea:

  1. Access to Expertise

Unlike large scale retailers local farmers markets provide you with a unique shopping experience. Local wine makers are actually available and happy to talk to you before you make your purchase. You can ask questions and even try samples!

  1. Supporting Your Community

Farmers markets are a gathering place for friends and family and a wonderful place to meet new people. This unique social shopping experience creates community and keeps local farms and artisans in business. It also keeps your money local where it is invested back into the community. We can’t think of a more perfect shopping experience, can you?

  1. Environmental Perks

Small scale food and wine production is good for communities and good for the world! Small farms are able to practice organic growing and reduce harm to the environment while reducing the speed of global warming by eliminating the need for transportation of goods.

  1. Comparable Pricing

You may be surprised to find that prices at your local farmers market compare really well with those at chain stores. You’re getting a great product and you know exactly where it comes from, but you’re not paying an exuberant amount for your wine.

  1. Staying Healthy

When you buy local wine you know where it comes from and you have the unique privilege of asking questions to find out exactly how it’s made. You can avoid wines that have additives and aren’t made from organic grapes.

The benefits of buying local are many, and not the least of which is that your local wine, produce, and meats taste wonderful!

How to Host a Rosé Brunch

If you love to host friends, family, and neighbors, these past few months have been quite a change in lifestyle. If gathering for regular get-togethers, including our beloved Sunday brunch, is part of your normal routine, you may be feeling a bit at a loss for how to connect right now. As we are all looking forward to social gatherings in the months ahead, why not begin planning ahead for some brunch ideas?

A table set with Rosé wine, one of the best Sunday brunch wine recommendations

Sunday Brunch Wine Recommendations

Until social distancing and self-isolation guidelines are relaxed, consider a virtual brunch. While you can do anything you like, why not feature a “wine of the day” that everyone can enjoy together – virtually? And, when it comes to Sunday brunch wine recommendations, it’s Rosé all the way!

Rosé wine is a perfect spring/summer choice, and it can be quite versatile. Your options for your menu are expansive. Our favorites included grilled porterhouse, eggplant pizza, salmon with dill pesto, grilled asparagus (wrap it in bacon for a decadent treat), spring green salad with goat cheese, and shrimp, avocado, and roasted corn salad. Who’s hungry?

You can have guests each prepare a different option to enjoy on their own, and when you can meet in person for brunch, they will have perfected their dish!

When looking for Sunday brunch wine recommendations for future gatherings, think about the delicious foods you will be serving. For brunch, we love fresh fruits, airy and buttery croissants and other pastries, and a variation of an egg dish with fresh vegetables.

Brunch Ideas: Dry, Sparking, and Pinot Noir Rosé

A dry Rosé is a gorgeous accompaniment to these lighter savory bites. Sparkling Rosé is also a must when gathering friends for Sunday brunch. That lively bubbly kick! Pinot Noir Rosé is an incredibly flavorful dry, still wine that never disappoints so be sure to pick some up for your own Sunday brunch.

When thinking of brunch ideas, remember to honor the season by prioritizing fresh wines. The clean, bright taste of Pinot Noir Rosé is a perfect pair for spring and summer.

Wine Delivery: 4 Tips for Shopping and Shipping

If you have been curious about buying wine online, now is the time to do your homework! Wine delivery to your home reduces the need for you to go out to shops and markets, and it even allows you to try exciting new wines. If you are going to buy wine online, there are some ground rules and basic guidelines you should keep in mind.

A handsome young man in a suit drinking red wine while reading tips on how to buy wine online

4 Helpful Tips to Buy Wine Online

  1. Be a Savvy Searcher

Always access your inner librarian when you are shopping online. You may think Google searches are for amateurs, but librarians often use them as a starting point for many research questions. In this particular case, Google is great when you know what you want. A shopping search will bring up retailers if you know with specificity what you want. From there you can shop around for the best price for wine delivery.

However, if you are browsing more generally Google may not be the place to start. Try going to a website for a brand you know and trust and finding out what services they offer for online shopping.

  1. Get Specific about Shipping

There can be some restrictions about shipping wine depending on where you live and where your seller is based. Find out if any of these apply to you before getting too invested in any brand. We all hate spending money on shipping, but with wine, don’t expect free shipping. That said, you can look for sellers that have good deals on to save some cash.

  1. Know Your Seller

As a consumer, you are entitled to ask questions and should consider your purchase an opportunity to build a relationship with the company you are buying from. Many companies are happy to answer your questions and even provide recommendations personalized to your own tastes. If a seller is less than thrilled that you have some questions, you may want to look elsewhere.

  1. Be Patient

There is a learning-curve to buying wine, period. This is doubly so when you buy wine online. Use this as an opportunity to try new wines and learn more about what you want (and don’t want) in a wine. Take your time and read all the information a company has available about their wine. If you value organic growing and natural wine processes make sure your wine seller does too! Do your homework but don’t be afraid to branch out and try new things.

4 Key Wine Flavor Descriptions

There are important descriptors to know when talking about flavors in wine. For many of us who enjoy wine with gusto it is challenging to understand and correctly use wine flavor descriptions. While taste is a matter of opinion, there are more objective terms to use when describing a wine’s taste without getting too lost in the weeds. These four wine flavor descriptions will help you talk about flavor in wine far beyond the difference between white and red.

Wine glasses in a row

Sweetness

You can have a sweet wine or the opposite, which is a dry wine. You can also have a medium-dry or off-dry wine which has just a subtle hint of sweetness. Dry is not the opposite of wet in this case, and a wine that leaves your mouth feeling dry is likely a high tannin wine.

Acidity

Acidity can make a white wine taste refreshing, crisp, and even sour. Low acidity wines are often described as fat meaning that they are mouth filling, big, or round.

Tannin

Tannins are found throughout nature and are responsible for the bitter astringent taste in wines. Well managed these can be extremely pleasant. Low tannin wines are smooth and soft, whereas high tannin wines may be bitter and inky.

Body

Full, light, and medium body is exactly what it sounds like. A full-bodied wine is thick and will coat your glass. A light-bodied wine is thin and water-like in its viscosity. A medium is in between.

Now you might think about including flavors into your wine flavor descriptions. Flavor descriptors might include flowery, fruity, earthy, spicy, or smoky. These may be harder to recognize at first but by trying something fruity followed by something smoky you will have a much better idea of how to pick up on the complex and subtle flavors of wine.

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What Wine Goes with Pork?

When wine pairing with pork, it’s important to think about the cut of the meat and the way it’s prepared. However, there is really no right or wrong choice when it comes to red or white. Pork although considered a red meat is also commonly known as “the other white meat”. You’ll find that both reds and whites can both pair really well with pork dishes and ultimately there is no one answer to the question of what kind of wine to serve with pork.

roast pork loin with red wine

You may automatically lean towards white when wine pairing with pork, and if that truly is your personal preference, go ahead and grab a Pinot Gris with a fruit flavor to pair with roast or BBQ pork. A Pinot Gris is truly actually an excellent choice for just about any pork dish you make.

If you tend to lean more towards reds, there are plenty of lovely options there too. Especially when thinking about sauces and accompaniments you may find a Pinot Noir which is aromatic and savoury to be the perfect fit.

When thinking about what kind of wine to serve with pork just remember that you’ll want to match the rich and spicy flavours of many pork dishes with a wine that’s both bold and flavourful. A Pinot Noir is a great choice and will give you a fresh bright flavor. There is absolutely nothing better than roast pork belly or a glazed ham served with Pinot Noir.

Pinot Noir is also a terrific choice for pork ribs, alternatively, you can also go with a Pinot Rosé for something crisp and tangy. A lighter-bodied crisp white like Pinot Gris is another fantastic choice that won’t disappoint.

Whether you turn to a rich white wine or a juicy red wine you enjoy your pairing!

Does Wine Vintage Matter?

Wine vintage points to the year the ingredients in the bottle were grown. Does it matter? Are some years really better than others? Weather and environment conditions change somewhat from year to year. That impacts the grapes, but how much? And does it impact Van Duzer Corridor wine grown in Oregon’s Coast Range?

Pinot grapes growing in a vineyard in the Van Duzer corridor of Oregon

Wine Vintage Is Overblown

Wine vintage tends not to matter nearly as much as many would pretend. In truth, a responsible vineyard should be making adjustments to ensure that each year’s harvest produces a high-quality wine. Vintages will only matter when a vineyard can’t keep up with changing weather patterns. That either means the vineyard isn’t doing its job well, or that the environment is wildly unpredictable from year to year.

Science & Nature

Van Duzer Corridor wine should be exceptionally consistent in quality from one vintage to the next because they fulfill both these requirements. The vineyards and wine making processes include an incredible range of science and environmental data. This allows them to grow and harvest with remarkable precision to ensure a superb wine from any year.

Couple this with a region that delivers similar climate from one year to the next and there isn’t a ton of unpredictability introduced into the equation. While it’s true the Willamette Valley can go from sun to rain in the blink of an eye, it’s not those daily shifts that matter. The weather, amount of sun and rain, and the coastal winds (that helps thicken the grape skins) are all fairly consistent from one year to the next. That means one year’s grape will provide the same quality as another year’s.

That coastal effect makes the Van Duzer corridor an ideal area for a vineyard. Those winds keep the region warmer when Oregon is cool and cooler when Oregon is warm. It helps to temper and moderate extremes, making this region a superb wine haven.

Vintage Stopped Mattering a While Back

Wine vintage can still matter for millionaires paying for exceptionally old wines to sit in their cellars for time eternal. That’s because vineyards of a century ago didn’t have the science and knowledge to shift as the weather and other conditions changed. Chances are you’re buying wine to drink, or store for a while and then enjoy. That means enjoying the incredible range that’s being produced these last several years.

Today we have the science and knowledge to grow consistently high-quality grapes with the same traits from one year to the next. That means that wine vintage doesn’t matter for the vast majority of people.

6 Best Picnic Spots in Oregon

It’s hard to think about picnics under stay-at-home orders. However, National Picnic Day is April 23, and it’s looking like some of the best picnic spots in Oregon this year will be our backyards and balconies. Yes, it’s healthy to still go out hiking and enjoy a picnic, but please make sure you use the trail user social distancing recommendations. If and when you do venture out, these are some of the best public places in Oregon to enjoy some fresh air and good picnic wine:

Two glasses of good picnic wine amidst a spread of delicious picnic food

  1. Astoria Column: This tower is a unique monument, and the 30-acre city park that surrounds it makes for a stellar picnic site. You can look down to the town of Astoria and the mouth of the Columbia River from Coxcomb Hill.
  2. Bradley State Scenic Viewpoint: There are many superb views of the Columbia River Gorge, but this viewpoint west of Clatskanie is one of the best.
  3. Hoyt Arboretum: Here you’ll find 190 ridge-top acres, each more beautiful than the last. There are 12 miles of hiking trails here. One thing that really helps for Portlanders is that it’s so close to downtown. It features trees and shrubs from six continents, so you really will find something here you can’t find anywhere else in the state.
  4. Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach: This area is popular with tourists and locals for a reason. It features a long stretch of gorgeous seashore. Make sure to stay warm as the ocean weather keeps it cool here year-round, and keep an eye out for the seagulls making off with whatever they can.
  5. Lithia Park, Ashland: All of Ashland could count as a gigantic scenic area (really, all of Oregon could). Lithia Park is a beautiful feature in it. The 90-acre park features duck ponds, a Japanese garden, and a rose garden, among other features.
  6. Cape Perpetua Scenic Area: This protected area along the rugged Oregon coast features a number of awe-inspiring overlooks. The forested hills dive straight into the sea here in a world that feels straight out of fantasy.

These are truly the best picnic spots in Oregon, but you’ll find some of your favorites tucked away in places both familiar and wild.

Whether you enjoy a picnic while following social distancing recommendations, or wait a bit, none of this prevents you from thinking about the future. Planning ahead can help sustain us through tough times. Imagine where you want to go when these days have passed, and imagine what you want to do, from drinking good picnic wine to your favorite hikes!

What Is the Best Beginner Wine Book?

It’s a good time to get into something new. If you’ve always meant to become a wine aficionado but never had the time, then now’s the moment. What’s the best way to start, though? The best beginner wine books tell you about how different wines are made, the history of different varietals, and how you can start appreciating all of them more. Here are the best books that teach you wine for beginners:

A woman reading one of the best beginner wine books with a glass of red wine in the foreground

  • The Wine Bible: Karen MacNeil has been praised from all corners for her incredibly interesting and even more entertaining take on wine. It’s more than 1,000 pages long, but it’s only daunting until you open to the first page. “The Wine Bible” is written to be taken in bite-sized chunks. It weaves together practical information about wine, tasting qualities, and pairings with anecdotes the world over. That means you can read it as you wish, jump around to what you find interesting, and visit what you need to know when you need to know it.
  • Wine Folly: Magnum Edition – The Master Guide: This much more serious title reflects a somewhat more serious take on wine for beginners. Written by Madeline Puckette and Justin Hammack, the book acts like a winery tour of the entire world. It’s great for those who like to pore over maps and compare information about different regions. It also includes an incredible selection of wine and food pairings. It’s one of the best beginner wine books for those who want to geek out over information and have access to a load of pairing ideas.
  • The New Wine Rules: This is a book that speaks best to younger generations. Author Jon Bonne throws out many older and stuffier rules about wine. It seeks to make wine knowledge fun, and focuses on wine as something to experience more than talk about. If you believe wine should be enjoyed today rather than gathering dust in a cellar, Bonne’s “The New Wine Rules” is the beginner wine book for you.
  • Exploring Wine: Do you already have good knowledge about cooking? Are you considering pursuing a career in wine? Read The Culinary Institute of America’s “Exploring Wine”. It explains the basics of wine like these other books. Then it dives into the wine industry, teaching you everything from production to marketing and services. It gives you a detailed window into the business of wine as well as the enjoyment of it.
  • Wine: A Tasting Course – Every Class in a Glass: This book by Marnie Old helps those who want to structure their education about wine. It’s an easy and entertaining read, and it’s organized in a way that will help someone pick up a bit of new knowledge every day. 

Pick up your favorite wine for beginners book – and a glass of your favorite wine – and learn!

What to Bring on a Picnic Date

Whether you are planning a romantic date or getting together with friends and family, picnics are a great way to gather over a shared love of food and wine while enjoying nature. Planning the perfect picnic is easy with these wine and cheese picnic ideas.

Picnic outdoor with rose wine fruits meat and cheese

Wine and cheese enjoyed in the fresh air on a picnic blanket can be pure bliss. Some would say these are picnic date essentials! Pinot Noir Rosé can be paired with a semi-soft cheese such as Gruyère, Havarti, or perhaps Monterey Jack. These cheeses will be perfect served on a crispy baguette or toast crackers. Pack pasta salad or some smoked salmon on toasted bread or crackers for a perfect meal.

One of our favorite wine and cheese picnic ideas is Pinot Gris with Chevre to spread on a baguette or even some fresh Mozzarella and basil. Pack a couple of juicy peaches or cut up melon to compliment the wine and cheese. You could even include a homemade lemon dessert (lemon bars…mmm).

Be sure to chill the wine in advance and don’t forget the less glamorous (but still important) of the picnic date essentials – ice packs or frozen water bottles in the bottom of your basket will help to keep the wine chilled on a warm day. Cover the water bottles or ice packs with a tea towel and put items that need to be kept chilled at the bottom.

Whether you picnic at an orchard, the summit of your hike, or a local park, you can enjoy these wine and cheese picnic ideas! Keep it simple with a basket and a blanket or go all out with games, flowers, a speaker to play music. However you do it, you will want the drinks and food to be the main attraction.

How to Hold a Wine Glass Elegantly

Welcome to our guide on how to hold a wine glass elegantly. Of course, it’s perfectly fine to hold it inelegantly if you choose! But we find that observing some simple wine etiquette can make the experience that much more enjoyable – and it can impact the taste of your reds, whites, roses, and bubblies.

How to a hold a wine glass elegantly | Red wine vs white wine | Rainstorm Wines

How NOT to Hold a Wine Glass

While it feels very natural to hold a glass by the bowl, this is considered a taboo. For one thing, you’ll get smudgy fingerprints all over the glass!

It’s not an elegant look – and it makes it hard to see the color and clarity. Another reason is that your hands will warm the wine.

You certainly don’t want this with chilled whites or champagne, and reds, too, are better when they are cooler than room temperature. 

How to Hold a Wine Glass Elegantly

Is there a difference in holding a glass of red wine vs. white wine? No, the technique is the same – and it is simple!

Pinch the stem of the glass between your thumb, index finger, and middle finger. Your fingers should be placed on the lower half of the stem, with your middle finger just above the base.

Your ring and pinky fingers will rest on the top of the base. Give it a try. You’ll find you have plenty of stability and your hand is well away from the bowl.

Another option is to use your index finger and thumb. Wrap your index finger around one side of the stem.

The tip of your thumb will support the other side. Again, your hand will be positioned towards the lower part of the stem.

What are your other fingers doing? They’re just curled into your palm loosely (not touching the base).

You can also use your thumb and index finger to pinch the stem right above the base. They’ll brush lightly against the base.

Your middle finger rests on the underside of the base, giving you more stability. Let your two remaining fingers rest as they will (e.g. pressed into your palm or against your middle finger).

There’s one more method, and while “socially acceptable,” we’re not huge fans. Your thumb rests over the base.

The top parts index and middle fingers support from the underside of the base, and the ring and pinky fingers are curved into your palm.

You do not touch the stem at all. We do not like this because (1) it looks awkward, and (2) it is the least stable way to hold a wine glass.

What About Those Tricky Stemless Glasses?

We love the elegance of a stemmed glass, but there’s no doubt stemless is a popular choice. Hold the glass towards the base or bottom.

Try to minimize contact: you can do this by using only your thumb and two fingers. The remaining two can support the glass from underneath or curl away from the surface.

There you have it: now you know how to hold a wine glass elegantly. Give it a try and see if you notice a difference in both the taste and the experience. We are sure you will!