Behind the Cork™ Wine of the Week


2014 Robledo Family Winery - The Seven Brothers Sauvignon Blanc ($7)

This Sauvignon Blanc from Lake County is really nice.  Thinking that this was so much better than a $7 bottle of wine, I headed out to the Robledo Family Winery website ( to investigate. Much to my surprise they are offering this bottle of 2014 Sauvignon Blanc for $22 ($15.40 for Club Members). It's such a steal at $7 that I went back for more.  It's aged in Stainless Steel tanks for eight months which yields bright aromas of honeysuckle and mango with citrus and lemongrass flavors.

If you too are so lucky to find this wine, get more than a bottle. You'll enjoy it!


Consider a Cava for the Holidays

Looking for a good, affordable bottle of bubbly for the holidays? Consider Cava.

Cava is a sparkling wine from Spain with a lot of similarity to French Champagne. In fact, the Spanish bubbly was called Champaña in Spain until the 1970s when French regulations were put into place to limit the use of the word Champagne to only those wines produced in the Champagne region of France.  So, the Spanish re-named their sparkling wine for the caves or cellars where the sparkling wine was kept for aging. Thus came the name Cava.

Like Champagne, Cava is produced in the 'Traditional Method' where secondary fermentation is done in the bottle. This is how the bubbles are naturally formed since this second fermentation also converts sugar to alcohol using yeast, but the resulting CO2 is trapped in the bottle, producing the carbonation.

Unlike French Champagne, Cava is produced with the Macabeu, Xarello and Paralleda grapes.  But Cava surprisingly has a very similar taste to Champagne, much more so than the highly popular Prosecco.  But the best thing about Cava is its price. You can find a nice bottle for under $20.

Like Champagne, Cava is produced in various levels of sweetness:

  • Brut Nature -- Up to 3 grams of sugar/liter
  • Extra Brut -- Up to 6 grams/liter
  • Brut -- Up to 15 grams/liter
  • Extra Seco -- Between 12 - 20 grams/liter
  • Seco -- Between 17-35 grams/liter
  • Semi-Seco -- Between 33-50 grams/liter
  • Dulce -- More than 50 grams/liter

You can also find Cava Reserva which is aged an additional 6 months (for a total of 15 months) over the standard Cava (9 months of aging) and Cava Gran Reserva which is aged a total of 30 months.

Cava is a great alternative to Champagne and a wonderful sparkling wine to enjoy during the holidays (and year-round!).  Chill a bottle and enjoy. Cheers!


Behind the Cork™ Wine of the Week

2014 Chateau Ste Michelle Columbia Valley Riesling ($7)

This Riesling out of Columbia Valley is refreshing with flavors of peach and lime. This is considered somewhere between a medium-dry and medium-sweet wine and the 12% alcohol level confirms that there is some residual sugar in this one.  This makes a great pairing with spicy foods, while working well with any poultry dish and can be simply be enjoyed with some flavorful white cheeses.


What is Mulled Wine?

During the winter months and the holidays, mulled wine is a very popular drink, especially in European countries. Partly by tradition and partly because it's a warm drink that is enjoyed on cold evenings.  There are many names for mulled wine including Glögg in Sweden, Vin Chaud in France, and Glühwein in Germany.

A quick check of Webster's Dictionary shows that the word 'mull' can mean to mix thoroughly, or to heat, sweeten and flavor with spices.

This is exactly why this drink is called mulled wine. It's a heated mixture that can be sweetened and flavored with spices.

Now, just like barbecue sauce, meatloaf and pizza, there are no standard recipes for mulled wine. But, there are a lot of common ingredients. 

Most mulled wines start with red wine. You can find examples of white and even rosé mulled wines, but let's stick with red wine.  There is no best red wine to use, but any inexpensive bottle of a full-bodied, fruity, bold and tannic wine will do.  Examples might include Syrah, Malbec, Zinfandel, Grenache or Merlot. Even a red blend would work nicely.

Next, mulled wine includes spices. Often these originally included local ingredients.  But today, common spices in mulled wines include clove, star anise, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom and ginger. Even vanilla shows up in some recipes.

Next, fruit is added.  Common fruits include orange, apple, figs, and raisins.  You can also sweeten your mulled wine with sugar or honey.

Then, some mulled wines are given an extra kick with the addition of vodka, brandy, rum, Cognac, sherry or aquavit. Other recipes will include hard cider, Madeira wine, and even Port.

Finally, all these ingredients get mixed together and heated to about 140-150 degrees F (60-70 C). You just want to avoid boiling since that will cause the alcohol to evaporate. Serve your mulled wine in a sturdy glass meant for hot liquids, or a mug. And you'll get to enjoy a warm, comforting drink during the holidays and during those cold winter evenings. Cheers!