Corkage Service: BYOB The Right Way

Written by Andres Montoya on .

Wine bagBYOB - Bring Your Own Bottle – for both restaurants and patrons is a great concept that shouldn’t be taken for granted. Most restaurants allowing such a practice usually charge a corkage fee, normally ranging anywhere from $10 to $25, but may reach as high as $75 to $150 in some venues. Traditionally, the corkage fee is for the service given by the restaurant, to open, chill, decant, provide glassware, and serve the wine to its guests who brought a special bottle not available on the restaurant’s menu. However the higher corkage fees ($75 - $150) are often seen as a charge beyond service and a way to discourage guests from the BYOB idea because for the same money I’m sure you can find a very nice bottle of wine on the restaurant’s list. Some restaurants are more direct and will simply inform you that BYOB is not an option, while others won’t even know the meaning of “corkage.” BYOB has great potential to benefit both restaurants and consumers if both parties play a fair game, especially if you follow these industry manners:

Pairing Wine with Food This Spring

Written by Andres Montoya on .


BonannoCabernet Sauvignon, such as this BonAnno from the Wine Barn, complements spiced rack of lamb or grilled game.Spring is just around the corner and pairing a wine to an occasion is the first step into finding wines you will truly enjoy this upcoming season of spring breaks, Easter, mother’s day and graduations. Whether you are considering a light spring salad and grilled fish, or you are ready to impress your family and guests with a cooked to perfection rosemary roasted leg of lamb, or making your grandmother’s secret honey glazed ham for Easter, choosing the right wine will only enhance the flavors of your culinary creations without breaking the budget.

If you let the occasion take center stage, then you will find that matching wines with a particular dish or meal will be easier than you think, allowing you to enjoy the food more while learning more about the wine too. Consider these few basic guidelines to help you find the right match, as you continue to expand your food and wine horizons this year.

Body balancing matters: Wine matches with food best when the weight and intensity of the wine balance with the weight or richness of the food. These elements are more important than any flavor associations and usually lead to unforgettable pairings. Body balancing is essential in most classic wine and food matches. Cabernet Sauvignon complements spiced rack of lamb or grilled game because they are equally intense. Pinot Noir makes a better match with roast beef, stews, and mushrooms because the richness of texture is the same in both. Hearty foods need hearty wine; a lighter wine will fade into the background. Just remember that the wine should be at least as full-bodied as the food it’s paired with. On the other hand, fresh sea food dishes served raw or cooked lightly and served with lemon such as raw oysters, crab, shrimp, and white fish will pair best with lighter/mineral terroir white wines like Muscadet or Sauvignon Blanc. 

The secret is in the sauce: Flavors in wine can enhance a dish, just as adding seasoning or extra ingredients when added to food, which is why the old rule about: “white wine with fish and red wine with meat” is a thing of the past. Flavors in the food should complement flavors in the wine, regardless of the main ingredient. The key is to focus on the sauce, for example a Grenache served with a raspberry glazed pork chop, a Pinot Noir paired with salmon or trout served in tomato broth, or a creamy Chardonnay would be perfect for a rich Caesar or Cobb salad.

Is Your Wine Corked?

Written by Andres Montoya on .


Is your wine corked?

As we open more and more bottles of wine and amass more and more tasting notes, it is (almost) inevitable that at one point or another we will encounter a corked or flawed bottle. 

But what exactly is this "corked" bottle issue and why does there seem to be an almost mysterious, general blurred explanation as to determining a faulted wine bottle?

TCA, or Trichloroanisole, is a non toxic chemical compound found in some natural corks that, when present in high quantities, can diminish or alter a wine's character or quality. It usually imparts wet, moldy smells, (think of wet basement or damp newspaper), to wet wool, burnt match or even “wet dog”, as some describe, in the most extreme of examples! 

Enjoying Wine Like a Pro in 2014

Written by Andres Montoya on .

Andres 1 copyAlthough 2014 is well underway, it almost seems like the holidays were just yesterday, and hopefully your new year’s resolutions, or at least some of them, have stayed their course. I feel that wine, for me, and possibly many of you, will continue to be an important element of our daily lifestyles, and it can continue to be so, with some tips that can help you stretch your hard earned dollars and even make your wine education a more exciting experience, as new regions, grapes and styles are begging to be discovered. By following a few simple steps, you will not need to worry about sacrificing quality or drinking pleasure over price. There are terrific wines out there, many of which deliver immense flavor, complexity and memorable wine experiences. Here are some savvy wine buying tips that will have you shopping like a pro.

Wine 101

Written by Andres Montoya on .

Andres 1 copyEditor's note: Please welcome Andres Montoya of The Wine Barn. Andres will be writing about all things wine for the flog. sj

From appearance to finish, age to varietal, region to terroir, oak to steel, Robert Parker to wine Spectator points, these are all words from the world of wine you may have already come across in a restaurant, wine store, or special event. Whether you consider yourself a beginner, advanced, or wine nut, the following Wine 101 facts will help you when deciding on a new bottle, even demonstrate basic wine etiquette at your next business social or special date, and always for your own knowledge and appreciation in the subject of wine. 

Grape and Earth. Wine is made of grapes, varying in varietals from all over the world. When a wine smells like vanilla or tastes like raspberries, these are characteristics that come from viticulture to fermentation to aging. No artificial flavors are added to wine. All the amazing descriptions given by connoisseurs and masters of wine come from the winemaking techniques, the region where the grapes are grown, and its terroir which is the soil, rocks, and minerals in the earth under the vineyard.