• Thinking of Spring

    I can’t believe it’s March!  And I can’t believe there’s snow on the ground… and more on the way?!

    If you haven’t already seen it, we decided to postpone this Saturday’s free wine tasting with Crush Distributors and Runner’s Alley to next Saturday, March 11 due to the weather.  All of the details are the same, but we’re hoping for nicer weather both for drinking wine and for the runners.

    My craving for warmer weather is definitely evident here at the shop.  Many of the new bottles I’ve brought in look like they came from your favorite florist.  The Huber Sparkling White with the snowflake on the label has been replaced by its Rose counterpart.  The label has pretty pink flowers that were painted by Markus Huber’s wife.  I’m also looking forward to you tasting the Carbonic Carignan from SANS Wine Company; it’s part of the line-up for Saturday’s tasting.  It’s an effervescent red wine (we love those!) with flowers on the label.

    We still have two bottles of Vaiven White Tempranillo here.  In addition to being a fun and unique find, it’s got pink and blue florals.  And don’t forget about the Leptir Orange Wine from Slovenia adorned with monarch butterflies!

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  • Raising the Temperature

    A funny thing happened last night at our monthly VIP wine tasting.  I was super excited to introduce an especially esoteric line-up: a White Spanish Tempranillo, a dry Spanish Muscat, a full-bodied Australian Shiraz Blend, and a late harvest Chardonnay.  I found the Punctum Vaiven White Tempranillo particularly intriguing.  It was round and delicious when I’d tried it a few weeks prior and White Tempranillo is in itself a novelty.  While Tempranillo is a red grape most famously used in Rioja, a white version can be created by stripping the skins away immediately.  This practice is fairly uncommon though and it’s rare that such a bottle finds its way into New Hampshire.

    I pulled the White Tempranillo from the refrigerator, poured the wine for everyone, waited for the reaction, and… nothing.  Everyone just looked a little confused.  I took a sip myself and the wine kind of fell flat.

    Fortunately, I saved some in my glass and went back for another sip later in the evening.  It was a brand-new wine!  Texture!  Fruit!  Acid!  Secondary flavors of flowers, minerality, and even a hint of nuttiness!  What magic was this?

    Something I’d overlooked, or at least not thought much of when serving the wine, is that the Punctum Vaiven White Tempranillo is just over 14% alcohol.  It’s a weighty white wine with a full body and round mouthfeel as far as white wines go.   Allowing it to come up closer to room temperature brought out all of its flavor and nuances.  Interaction with oxygen also stirred up its underlying character.  This was an important reminder about why temperature is so important when serving wine.

    While it’s easy to assume that all white wine should be served ice cold, service temperature actually ranges depending on a wine’s body.  This is true of white and red wines.  The Wine Spirits and Education Trust (WSET) says that light to medium white wines should be served anywhere from 45-50 degrees Fahrenheit while a full-bodied or oaky white wine should be served 50-55 degrees Fahrenheit.  Oaky Chardonnay is another good example of a wine that could be enjoyed slightly warmer than we typically think.

    When speaking to New York-based publication Punch, Zwann Grays, the wine director at Olmsted in Brooklyn, explained. “You can eat a cold piece of chicken, but that’s not how it’s meant to be; you get the juiciness… all the things dancing around on your palate when it’s served warm.  With whites, that cold temperature becomes a mask over the wine; the cold steals the soul of what the wine can express, the voluptuousness of what it can be.”

    So if you’re white wine isn’t quite speaking to you the way it should be, try raising the temperature a little bit!

    Dominio Vaiven White Tempranillo, Spain ($17.99/bottle)– A weighty white with flavors of green apple as well as underlying touches of white florals, chalky stone, and nuttiness.  Certified organic and biodynamic.  Punctum is family owned and is led by three siblings: Jesus, Ruth, and Christina.  Best enjoyed slightly warmer than expected 😉.


  • France!

    Those of you who keep an eye on the Events Calendar have probably seen that March’s Wine Class is called “France vs. United States” and will pit some fabulous French wines against their California counterparts.  As I was brainstorming ideas for the class, I started out with the question, “Why does France take itself so seriously?”  (No offense intended- I think it’s pretty evident that France has some of the strictest winemaking rules and their AOC system is one of the most intricate ones out there.)  As I pondered, I realized that France has some great reasons to consider itself the best of the best.    Not to give away the whole class, but they were the first to establish the AOC system to regulate quality.  The rest of the world has pretty much followed their lead.  France is also home to some of the most historic winemaking regions in the world like Champagne, Bordeaux, and Burgundy.

    When I was first getting into wine, I was totally intimidated by French wines.  I remember being in rooms where winemakers and suppliers would roll their eyes at me because I didn’t know the difference between Puligny-Montrachet and Chassagne-Montrachet.  (They sound alike and are just over the hill from each other, OK???  That hardly warrants an eye roll.)  However, as I started encountering more French wines and actually had a mentor who was patient and took the time to explain them to me, I discovered that French wines are some of my favorites.  I particularly love white Burgundy.  Over time, my mentor started calling me an “expert in White Burgundy.”  (I suspect this was largely meant for motivational purposes.  While I learned a lot about it, no one can ever really be an expert in White Burgundy and I certainly have much to learn.)

    Unfortunately, my wallet does not love White Burgundy as much as my palate does.  Mersault, Puligny-Montrachet, and Chassagne-Montrachet start at about $60 per bottle and go all the way up.  Therefore, if I am an expert in some component of White Burgundy, it’s finding the best ones for a great value.  The Dampt Chablis that we carry here, for example, is an exceptional discovery.  At $26.99, it is quintessential Chablis for under $30 per bottle.

    I scout out wines from Burgundy’s Macon region as well.  Located in the South, it is considered a “value” region.  This is mostly based on history and reputation though; there are amazing producers making serious wines there.  I shared an awesome bottle 2015 Macon-Villages with my mom the other night.  I’m also working on getting a delicious Vire-Clesse for the store too which I am excited to share with you.

    France is home to some lesser-known wine regions that are gems as well.  We recently welcomed in two wines from Savoie, in the heart of the French Alps.  The white is completely comprised of a grape called Jacquere.  It’s hardly seen outside of this French region.  Mineral-driven, bright, and clean, it has flavors of stone fruit, green apple, and a dry finish.  The red is 100% Gamay.  Gamay is famously found in Beajolais.  This one has the body of a Pinot Noir while embracing darker fruit flavors and hints of spice.  You can buy these wines for $16.99/bottle or as a set for $30 total.

    There is still room in our France vs. United States class on March 21 and we’re considering offering a second night of it since interest seems to be high.  Hopefully I can help explain French wines in an approachable, straight-forward way like my mentor did for me and get you to fall in love with their wines as well!

  • Merlot Musings

    I love Merlot.  It’s smooth, soft, and supple.  It’s a staple in Bordeaux, one of the most popular wine regions in the entire world.  Across the globe, winemakers use it to complement the aggressive tannins in varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon.  But for some reason, the mass market seems to eschew bottles that specifically say “Merlot” on the label.

    At this point, I’m sure many of you have heard of the movie Sideways, which many blame for Merlot’s downfall.  In the movie, the character Miles famously exclaims, “If anyone orders Merlot, I’m leaving. I am not drinking any [expletive] Merlot!”  Entire studies and articles have been written about the implications of this single line in the film.  Conclusion: not good.  I’m not exactly sure why anyone took Miles’s advice as fact.  He was specifically designed to be flawed; a character unhappy in his own skin trying to find meaning in wine country.  I’m also not exactly sure why we’re still treating a movie that’s almost 20 years old as gospel.  Sideways debuted in 2004.

    Why am I bringing this all up now?  First, I just brought one of my favorite Merlots back to Wine on Main.  Margarett’s Merlot is made in California by the McNab family, the same people who make the McNab Cabernet Sauvignon that many of you know and love.  The whole operation is family-run and pretty small.  They make about 2,000 cases of Margarett’s Merlot, which is on the smaller side when it comes to wine production.  The wine has aromas and flavors of ripe black cherries, plums, and soft mocha followed by toasty oak and undertones of baking spices.  Did I mention it’s only $16.99?  It’s moving reasonably well, but for how good it is I would expect it to fly out of here by the case!  I really hope that people put their Merlot bias to the side and try it.  Justice for Merlot!

    Second, I tried a really awesome Merlot the other day from Schild Estate.  If that sounds familiar, it’s because we carry their Shiraz.  They are another family-owned vineyard passed down through generations located in Australia’s Barossa Valley.  It had bold flavors of cherry and raspberry as well as vanilla bean and clove spice.  The body was lush and full.  As much as I enjoyed it and wanted it (or want it? Still pondering….) to sell at Wine on Main, I couldn’t help but wonder: “Will customers really go for an Australian Merlot?  Is the Sideways curse real?”  Let me know your thoughts!

  • New Year, New Wines!

    January is a strange time in the world of wine.  On the one hand, the hustle and bustle of the holidays has died down.  In terms of foot traffic and sales, things seem a little quiet.  On the other hand, it’s incredibly busy!  There’s much to plan, from events to new wines.  My current daily planner only goes until June, so I’ll need to buy a new one soon enough.

    Wine on Main has approximately 140 facings.  It’s not the smallest wine set, but it’s far from the largest.  As a result, every single wine that we sell has to be the best of the best.  It has to represent its region and check every box.  Additionally, the pressure’s on to keep things fun and fresh.  I’ll hang onto the wines that you love- I don’t need a mutiny to kick off 2023.  However, as much as I’m attached to a wine, it’s important that I rotate in new items that are equally as good to keep things new and interesting.

    I also like to re-evaluate wines based on your feedback.  If you mention a region or varietal that I don’t have in store, I do my best to find it.  For example, someone mentioned South African Chenin Blanc recently, so I’ve made it a point to track down a great one for our World section.

    To those ends, I’ve been busy tasting new wines to add to the selection… and I’ve found some real winners!  Today, I tasted 20 (!!!) wines with 2 wine brokers.  (This is why spitting is necessary, regardless of how unbecoming it may seem).  Of those, I discovered 5 that I really enjoy.  3 will be arriving tomorrow, or first thing next week at the latest.

    Here is a sneak peek:

    Kumusha Chenin Blanc, South Africa– Remember the Chenin Blanc I was talking about?  Well this is a fabulous one from South Africa.  Born and raised in Zimbabwe, winemaker Tinashe Nyumudoka moved to South Africa for better economic prospects. Without any prior experience, his journey took him from waiter to head sommelier of Africa’s most lauded restaurant, The Test Kitchen, and also respected wine judge on international competitions.  Kumusha translates to “your roots.”  Clean, crisp, and dry, this wine has flavors of pear, citrus, and melon with hints of minerality.

    Ravines Cabernet Franc, Finger Lakes- As a Cornell grad, it’s no secret that I’m partial to the Finger Lakes.  Those were some of my very first wine tastings and helped usher me into wine.  I love Cabernet Franc in general, but especially from the Finger Lakes.  Cool climate Cabernet Franc is a light ruby red in the glass and elegant and restrained on the palate.

    Ruelas Vinho Tinto Reserve, Portugal- This is a bold blend of Tinta Roriz and Touriga Nacional- as well as a touch of Syrah for extra backbone!  The wine has dark fruit flavors like blackberry, plum, and a touch of black pepper.  It’s a great wine for winter when you want something powerful and flavorful.  It’s incredibly affordable too.

    I can’t wait for you to try these and more will be coming in soon!

  • Top Wines of 2022

    It’s hard to believe that the New Year is right around the corner!  What a year 2022 has been.  Thank you all for welcoming me to Wine on Main.

    As 2023 approaches, I’ve been thinking about more fun things that I can implement here at the store in the New Year.  We already have a number of great events planned in January and February including a book club with an author zoom, wine classes, and a Valentine’s Day event to be announced.  I also thought that it would be exciting to start a blog.  There’s a great deal that goes on behind-the-scenes at Wine on Main before wines make it to the shelves.  The wine industry is multi-faceted, and I’ve had the opportunity to see it from many angles.  I thought it might be interesting to share more of it with all of you.

    This will be an enjoyable exercise for me as well.  As an English major and former high school English teacher, writing has always been in my DNA.  My first true professional foray into the wine industry was serving as Wine Correspondent for a regional website.  I covered major events like wine festivals, interviewed key people in the wine industry, and described new bottles I’d found.  It will be entertaining for me to revisit those roots.

    For my first post, I thought it would be apropos to look back at some of the most interesting wines I’ve come across over the past two months.  One of the joys in owning my own shop has come from seeing more of the wine that’s out there as opposed to focusing on one specific distributor portfolio.  This a particularly interesting time in the wine world as well as more esoteric wine styles like orange wine, natural wine, and organic wines come to the forefront.


    Pullus Pinot Grigio, Slovenia

    Pinot Grigio is one of the most popular white varietals.  Easy-drinking, light, and fruity, it’s certainly a crowd-pleaser.  What some people don’t know is that Pinot Grigio can be made in a “ramato” style.  “Ramato” translates into copper in Italian.  Pinot Grigio Ramato is so named because thanks to a little bit of skin contact, it takes on a light copper color in the glass.  It adds to the wine’s flavor and complexity while still maintaining the essence of Pinot Grigio.

    The Ramato style originated in the Fruili region of Italy and most of them herald from there.  Pullus is an especially unique find because it comes from Slovenia.  Though winemaking in Slovenia dates back well before the Romans, Slovenian wine is just starting to emerge in popularity for the market at large.  I find this wine exceptionally elegant and balanced.  Fresh and fruit forward, it is supplemented by beautiful structure that is enhanced from the skin contact.  There are aromas of pear, stone fruit, and nectarine with hints of white florals as well.


    Txakoli Primo Zarautz, Spain

    Txakoli isn’t a wine that you see a lot of, and I’ve been excited to see how many of you have embraced this wine!  Made in Spain’s Basque region, the wine has green fruit flavors and a great deal of delicious minerality.  The wine is dry but has a hint of natural effervescence.  Its composition makes it wonderful on its own but also ideal for food pairing.  The crisp acidity cuts through fattier fare like cheese while its dry style prevents it from overwhelming dishes.


    Dampt Pinot Noir, Burgundy, France

    I LOVE Burgundy.  A self-professed Chardonnay lover, I have great admiration for this region which makes some of the finest Chardonnays.  Burgundy excels in Pinot Noir as well.  While California tends to make big, juicy Pinot Noirs, Burgundy producers err on the side of restraint.  The results are delicate, smooth Pinot Noirs with ripe red fruit flavors underscored with hints of earth.

    Unfortunately, with that prestige usually comes a hefty price tag.  Imagine my delight when I found a beautiful Burgundian Pinot Noir that could retail for $21.99!  Dampt Freres is a family-owned endeavor that is run by three brothers, Emmanuel, Eric, and Herve.  Their Bourgogne Pinot Noir is silky smooth with flavors of cherry, raspberry, and hints of earth.


    Schild Estate Sparkling Shiraz, Australia

    You’ve probably heard me go on and on about this wine already… but really, it’s so cool!  Before coming to Wine on Main, I’d never encountered a sparkling Shiraz before.  Ruby red in the glass, the wine has aromas of blackcurrant, blackberry, and dark cherry alongside more delicate hints of chocolate and spice.  Like a regular Shiraz, the wine is made in a dry style.  It is your favorite red wine… but with bubbles!

    As an added bonus, Schild Estate is a great producer.  Located in the heart of the Barossa Valley, one of Australia’s top regions for Shiraz, they are passionate about making estate-grown wines that embody the terroir of the region.


    For more information about any of these wines, email us at info@wineonmainnh.com.