How Soil Affects the Taste of Wine

Why is the soil in Oregon so special – and how are the best Oregon wines influenced by this exquisite dirt? The famous Willamette area has been both a seabed and a massive lava flow. As the Missoula floods washed Oregon down, complex soils were revealed. It makes for remarkable growing conditions – and some of the best pinot wine in the world.

Pinot Wine | Best Oregon Wines | Rainstorm Wines

Jory Soil

Soil influences how grapes grow and what characteristics they take on. The reddish Jory soil features volcanic elements. It’s high in nutrients, clay, and iron. These soils are excellent dry farming because the soil itself retains so much moisture. This is the go-to soil for growing Oregon pinot wine. Jory gives pinot wines rich cherry and red fruit flavors. These present dynamically with a high acidity and silky tannins that make Oregon pinot perfect for pairing.

Willakenzie Soil

Next are the marine soils, also called Willakenzie. These are very old soils that retain many qualities from when Oregon was a shallow seabed. Oregon’s mountain ranges were formed when tectonic plates ground into each other and pushed the land up over millions of years. This left Willakenzie soil with loam and sandstone.

If you realize that makes for poor soil, you’d be correct. The advantage here is built over years and years. Vines that are well cared for eventually form very deep roots to seek out nutrients and moisture. These vines provide unique flavors to the wine. Flavors like blackberry and black cherry abound. These wines offer require a bit more aging for a perfectly balanced profile.

Loess Soil

Finally, Loess dirt is an extremely soft loam that’s blown in by the wind. It’s often blown out, too, but over centuries it’s formed a good amount of farmable land. This soil needs to be tended very carefully – it erodes with ease. It’s difficult to plant in Loess dirt, but when you can, the reward for all that hard work is worth it. Pinot wine from Loess soil balances three characteristics: red fruit, white pepper, and earthiness. These wines are an achievement of patience and expertise for any vineyard, and they make for a delectable pinot noir that’s unlike any other.

The best Oregon wines have these three soils to thank. They’re a stunning result of the Willamette Valley’s microclimate combined with millions of years of the earth’s geological movement. In many ways, the exposure of these soils in this climate is unique to this era in the planet’s history. Our palates are very thankful for that.

Why Spring and Rosé Wine Trend Together

It’s time to shake off a long, cold winter and soak up the sun! For many of us, the perfect spring tonic involves whipping up a fresh herby salad and pouring a glass of rosé. We think this delicious drink pairs perfectly with all seasons, but it does seem like the perfect complement to long, warm days and relaxing evenings.

Rosé wine trend | Glass of rosé | Rainstorm Wines

The Rosé Wine Trend: Spring Is In

Why are rosé and spring fused together in our minds?

The Color: After months of brown, beige, tan, and white, it’s nice to see some color! From the soft greens of budding trees to pastels blooms, we crave a  new palette. Rosé’s beautiful pink tones are perfect for this time of year.

The Temperature: Late April/May temps hover around 60 – 65 degrees. Ah, lovely! This is also the best temperature at which to serve rosé. It allows the red flavors to enjoy a bit more warmth than when we serve whites (which is best at about 50 degrees).

The Alcohol Content: Summer whites, like Muscadet, Moscato, or Riesling, have an alcohol content of 12% or less. This may be too light for some, but options like Chardonnay, Shiraz, and Pinot Noir, may feel like too much for a temperate spring day. Rosé is a great balance at about 13.5%.

The Food: We tend to turn away from big hearty dishes (roasts, thick soups, etc.) and think about fresh farmer’s market salads, fish, and fruits. Rosé is ideal for these flavors and offers a light, refreshing mouthfeel.

The Celebrations: Does your mood improve in spring? Ours too! Sparkling rosé is the perfect pour for graduations, engagement parties, or Tuesday after a long day at work! This delightful drink can even give champagne a run for its money.

It’s spring, ya’ll! Pour yourself a glass of rosé and savor the flavors of the season.

May Is Oregon Wine Month! Let’s Celebrate

In May, we celebrate a major benefactor of our economy. A bringer of tourists. A creator of jobs. The Oregon wine industry generates $5.6 billion (with a “B”, ya’ll!) in economic activity annually. It’s only fitting we honor our winemakers’ incredible contributions. And what better time than May, when the natural world is reawakening and bursting with beauty – and possibility?

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A Month of Love for Oregon Wine

Oregon Wine Month is a 31-day love fest that encourages aficionados to taste, learn about, and support their favorite Oregon winemakers. It’s also a great opportunity to dive into the local food scene as nothing pairs with a bottle of delicious Willamette Valley wine quite like farm-to-table selections, whipped up by one of our many excellent eateries – or in your own kitchen.

Our tips for enjoying Oregon Wine Month:

  • Visit a vineyard. Willamette Valley is a prime destination for folks who want to see how their wine is created – and, of course, sample the best the Valley has to offer. Take a tour, indulge in a tasting, and bring a bottle of your favorite varietal home with you.
  • Treat yourself to an excellent meal. As mentioned, our food scene is hot. Ask about great wines to enjoy with your locally-sourced and expertly prepared dishes.
  • Hit Walla Walla Valley Spring Release Weekend. Here, you’ll be able to sample exclusive, newly released wines.
  • Visit Willamette Valley, home of exceptional wines, including one of our claims to fame – Oregon pinot noir.
  • Learn about grape-growing and winemaking from Cascade Foothills Winegrowers. You can also enjoy live music!
  • Tour Umpqua Valley by bus as you sample wines with perfect pairings – and soak in the beautiful spring scenery!
  • Find more great activities and events here.
  • Take the opportunity to chat with fellow wine-lovers, whether they’re connoisseurs or beginners, you’ll be sure to love the conversation and beverages! The wine community is strong in Oregon.
  • Buy a bottle (red, white, and blush – just to cover your bases!) and learn how to pair them with local foods. Cook up a feast, pour wine for friends and family, and savor life.

How are you going to celebrate Oregon Wine Month?

How Oregon Pinot Gris Came to Be

Oregon pinot gris often gets overshadowed by the exceptional pinot noir for which the state is renowned. Yet pinot gris has an intriguing history that’s resulted in a unique and characterful wine. Among white wine types, pinot gris from Oregon may be the most overlooked wine of exceptional quality you can find at a reasonable price.

Oregon Pinot Gris | White Wine Types | Rainstorm Wines

How Pinot Gris Came to Oregon

Pinot gris comes from a very different region of France than pinot noir. The two have some overlap but are generally grown in different conditions. This didn’t deter David Lett, who first planted the grape in Oregon in 1965. This didn’t lead to immediate success. Even 15 years later, he was only producing 25 cases a year. He admitted he traded most of it at that point to fishermen, getting salmon and other fish in return.

Flavors of Oregon Pinot Gris

We imagine he kept a few bottles back to enjoy with that trade. Oregon pinot gris is one of the most exceptional pairings for seafood available. The key to this is the Willamette Valley’s combination of microclimate and rare soils. Among white wine types, it’s rare to find something that combines green apple and pear tastes with more tropical features such as papaya and pineapple. Elements of citrus also play into the flavor profile, with lemon and lime a prominent feature.

Perfect Pairings

Beyond the flavor profile alone, this Oregon treasure has a beautiful acidity. Pinot gris from Oregon complements foods with healthy fats – seafood, shellfish, stew, white sauces. The more you alternate taking a bite of food and having a sip of pinot gris, the more flavor and mouthfeel each brings out in the other.

Lett was ahead of his time. Oregon now sees 13,000 tons of pinot gris harvested each year. That’s a far cry from just 25 cases. It’s one more success story of a transplant now calling Oregon home!

Underrated Value

Pinot gris from Oregon was perhaps best understood by Eric Asimov of the New York Times. He once praised Oregon pinot gris as one of the most overlooked and undervalued wines available. He described it among white wine types as follows: “You would be hard-pressed to find other American white wines with as much character in this price range.” It’s hard to come to any other conclusion.

4 Most Popular Rosé Wine Varieties

If ever there was a more drinkable, versatile wine than rosé, we’ve yet to come across it! Rosé has risen to prominence in recent years – thanks in part to its appeal as a summer favorite, as a perfect addition to a wide variety of appetizers, main courses, and desserts, and as a go-to when we’ve had a long day and need to savor some relaxation. Let’s look into some popular rosé wines so you can find your new favorite.

Popular Rosé Wines | Pinot Noir Rosé | Rainstorm Wines

Pinot Noir Rosé. Yum! You’ve got flavors of strawberry, lemon zest, white cherry, orange zest, watermelon, and even celery for a delectable treat. In a word: refreshing. This variety tends to be dry, delicate, and fully armed with wonderful aromas. It pairs well with herbs like thyme, and it will be the perfect complement to your famous corn chowder – or even a cob of fresh corn with butter!

Grenache Rosé. Sweet, sweet Grenache. You’ll enjoy strawberry, watermelon, lemonade, cucumber, and raspberry flavors with a zesty lemon finish. This wine will make your spicey, aromatic dishes come to life. If you love Indian, Moroccan, or Middle Eastern cuisine, this is the bottle to serve along side your creations.

Sangiovese. A taste of one of Italy’s hidden treasures. Sangiovese bursts with cherry, strawberry, raspberry, clove, cumin, and allspice flavors with a bit of a meaty note. It can hold its own with more rich dishes. Craving caprese salad and prosciutto? Chinese? Currie? Pour a glass and savor!

Syrah. This is a pink wine that acts like a red. It’s meaty, rich, and thickly textured. Let the white pepper, red pepper, cherry, and lime zest bite give you an unexpected experience. It is a must if you are serving lemon garlic shrimp, olives, anchovies, hearty stews, and more.

The best way to find your favorite is to sample all of these popular rosé wines! Which one grabs your attention? If they all do – even better! Just pair them with amazing food, sip, and enjoy!

Pinot Gris vs. Pinot Grigio: What’s the Difference?

You’re hosting a sophisticated dinner party. Your appetizers are amazing; your main course is to die for. And dessert – oh, we can only imagine! But most importantly, you serve an incredible selection of wine. A sweet rich pinot gris. A refreshing, fruity pinot grigio. Perfect. Then someone asks you, “What’s the difference between pinot gris wine and pinot grigio?” Um… hmmm. What is the difference?

Pinot Gris Wine | Pinot Gris Taste | Rainstorm Wines

Well… Pinot gris and pinot grigio do come from the same grape. It originated in France. There, it is cultivated in Alsace and the resulting wine is known as pinot gris. In Italy, it goes by pinot grigio. This is not the only difference, however.

French vs. Italian

French pinot gris wines are rich, spicy, and have a thicker, more viscous texture. They also age superbly. Italy, which is credited to popularizing pinot grigio (thanks, Italy!), produces a lighter, crisp, fresh wine with bright fruit and floral notes.

Today, pinot gris and pinot grigio grapes are cultivated all over the world; usually, you’ll find the more Italian-inspired flavors. But some regions, notably Oregon and New Zealand, take their cue from the French and produce a more rich, textured pinot gris taste.

Now the big question: what do you serve with pinot grigio and what pairs well with pinot gris? For pinot grigio, try light dishes. Think fish, grilled shrimp, and airy appetizers. Want to get hearty? Pair pinot gris with roasts, hard cheeses, veal, rabbit stew – and elevate your comfort food chicken casserole with a perfectly chilled glass.

Well, now you’re prepared when someone asks you the difference between pinot gris wine and pinot grigio! Better yet – be prepared with a delicious bottle from your favorite label. Your guests will thank you. More importantly, you will thank you!

Does Wine Relax You?

Wine and relaxation seem to go hand in hand. After a long day, one way to restore calm is to savor a glass of your favorite red, white, or blush. Science confirms what we’ve all known: wine relaxes you! Drinking wine in moderation can help us unwind, de-stress, and find balance even during our most unbalanced days.

Wine Relaxes You | Wine and Relaxation | Rainstorm Wines of Oregon

Evidence Confirms That Wine Relaxes You

According to Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum, a board-certified internist, drinking wine “is one of the most time-honored ways for disconnecting our brains at the end of the day.” He explains that it calms “transiently, because it is a central nervous system depressant.” It can, essentially, offer a sedative effect.

The key is – you guessed it – moderation. And timing. Just because wine has a sedative, relaxing effect doesn’t mean you should get in your jammies and pour yourself a few glasses of pinot noir at bed time. In fact, this can boost your metabolism and interrupt sleep. Not what you want when you need to get your 8 hours. Dr. Teitelbaum says, “So the net effect of relying on alcohol for relaxation is adverse if too much is consumed, too close to bedtime.”

Also if you have acid reflux (which tends to flare up at night) or gastritis, it is best to avoid wine at bed because it can make these conditions worse.

The best way to combine wine and relaxation is to have a glass with dinner. It will produce the calming effect you want without impeding your ability to sleep.

The next question is what’s the best wine for relaxation? Your favorite, of course! But if you want a little extra kick for health, experts recommend going with a red. Resveratrol, present in red wines, is linked with increased lifespan. As Dr. Teitelbaum says, “What a great way to live long and love living!” We couldn’t agree more!

Wine relaxes you; enjoy in moderation and you’ll build some peace and serenity into your day!

Why Do We Celebrate with Champagne?

When we celebrate an important event or occasion, champagne is not far behind. Weddings, anniversaries, job promotions, graduations, New Year. It is the most beloved – universal – treat when we want to give thanks and share joy with our loved ones. But why? What makes champagne the celebratory wine? Let’s find out!

Celebratory Wine | Choose Wine | Rainstorm Wines of Oregon

Celebratory Wine

In days past, this may have been because champagne was so exclusive. From the Champagne region of France, it was the choice of royalty; it’s said that Palais Royal guests loved the way the cork came “jumping out of the bottle!” And Louis XV’s “official chief mistress,” Madame de Pompadour, was famed for ordering 1800 bottles for just one party.

Part of the appeal may lie in its history. According to legend, champagne was invented by a monk named … you guessed it, Dom Perignon. The cellar mater for the Abbey of Hautvillers, his job entailed eliminating the risk of bubbles, which would ruin the wine. He failed! He decided to sample the “ruined” wine – and he thought it was fabulous! He reportedly shouted, “Come quick! I am drinking the stars.”

The rest, as they say, is history. Or legend. No matter!

But as the bottles could explode if the sugar ratio was not perfect, champagne became ultra-exclusive – and ultra-expensive. Cue the Royals.

Why do we continue to honor champagne? Well … we can’t resist drinking the stars. What a romantic concept! And today, even as prices have decreased and made it much more accessible, we still love the prestige, the feeling of exclusivity … and the bubbles! It’s just special and has been referred as the “elixir of joy.”

Choose Wine

When you choose wine for celebrating, champagne is at the top of the list. A toast would not be complete without it! Tip: If you have a special occasion to mark, serve your favorite reds and whites and save the champagne for the big announcement, the toast, or when the ball drops. Cheers to celebratory wine!

What’s the Best Valentine’s Day Wine?

The big day is coming up: Valentine’s Day! Do you need a way to make it even more special for you and your love? We’ve got it. Choose the perfect Valentine’s Day wine and you’ll create a romantic, magical evening to remember.

Valentine's Day Wine | Pinot Noir Taste Profile | Rainstorm Wines of Oregon

The Reviews Are In

What is the ideal Valentine’s Day wine? Experts agree… it’s Pinot Noir. It fairly shouts “Romance!” In fact, Jancis Robinson, wine writer, says it is a “minx of a wine.” Oh, behave! It’s got a touch of intrigue, daring, and drama – perfect for fanning the flames of love on a cold winter’s day.

The color is red – the signature color of Valentine’s Day. It’s rich and deep; the texture is full, fleshy, and yet silky smooth; its aroma is intense. But it’s the Pinot Noir taste profile that seals the deal as a Valentine’s Day wine. One critic described it as “sensuous, often erotic.” If you read wine reviews (and who doesn’t?!), you’ll notice that few wines are as associated with romance and love as Pinot Noir. It brings out the lover in all of us.

Open a bottle and inhale the soft scent of rosehips. Savor the elegant bright cherry and pomegranate flavors. Appreciate the wonderful balance and harmony. And then, break out some V-Day treats. Pinot Noir pairs beautifully with lamb, filet mignon, mushrooms, soft cheeses like brie, and warmed bread with delectable fresh virgin olive oil. Prepare a feast or visit your favorite intimate eatery. And don’t forget dessert! Chocolate complements Pinot Noir, as does creme brulee.

Decant and Enjoy

For best results, don’t drink Pinot Noir when it is chilled. If your bottle is cool, decant it for an hour or two until it reaches room temperature. Then pour a glass and enjoy with your love! What a perfect way to spend Valentine’s Day.

Why Drink White Wine in the Winter

It’s winter. It’s cold out. You order or serve yourself a white wine. That’s when your friend gives you the look. What kind of monster are you! They look outside, then to the glass in your hand, with wide, urgent eyes, as if they don’t even want to give voice to the faux pas you’re embracing. Relax! There’s no season for white vs. red wine. Next time your friend gives you that look, hit them with some winter white wine facts!

Winter White Wine | White vs. Red Wine | Rainstorm Wines

History’s on Your Side

The oldest known white wine was made in the Zagros mountains of the Middle East 7,500 years ago. The ancient villages in that mountain range get plenty cold in winter. That means the most traditional possible way of enjoying white wine is year-round, even when there’s snow on the ground.

Complementing Hearty Meals

The food we eat in the winter tends to be richer and fattier. Full-bodied reds don’t have the acidity of a crisp winter white wine. When you’re having comfort food that gets you through the long cold months, there’s often nothing better than a white wine with an acidic element that complements these hearty meals.

Let it Warm Just a Bit

White wine doesn’t have to be kept especially cold. The ideal serving temperature for white wine is usually between 49 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit. A home fridge is usually too cold at 40 degrees. This is why using a wine cooler benefits the full taste and aromas of the wine. An alternative is taking it out of the fridge and letting it sit on the counter 20-30 minutes before drinking. The point is, white wine shouldn’t be frigid when you drink it. That dismantles one of the chief arguments against winter white wine then and there.

A Different Mood

Sometimes it’s great to sit at the window, looking out at the gray sky and a snowstorm, wrapped in a blanket with a roaring fire a few feet away, with your dog at your feet as you knit, read a book of poetry, contemplate existence. Red wines are perfect for this.

Other times, you want to get up and play in the snow, build a fort and have a snowball fight, go snow hiking, or walk around to see the holiday lights. When it comes to white vs. red wine, white wine clearly holds the advantage here. There are different moods for the season, and you should enjoy both of them as you want. White wine suits some moments, and red wine has its own moments.

Why close off something you enjoy for an entire season? Next time your friend gives you that look, hand them their own glass of white wine. They’re just jealous.