Table Wine Asheville Classroom

Table Wine Special Selections: Tour de France

(Wednesday, January 29th from 7-9 p.m. — $20/person…..$16 for Grape Nuts) – The best way to learn about and buy wine is to taste it in a comfortable and professional environment.  This includes tables and chairs, proper stemware, an informed and passionate host, and an engaged and inquiring audience.  This new “template” for learning about and buying wine is what Table Wine Special Selections is all about, and we invite you to join us for our first excursion on Wednesday, January 29th from 7 to 9 p.m.   The cost for the tasting is just $20/person or $16 for Grape Nuts.

Entitled “Tour de France”, the tasting will take place in the Table Wine Classroom (see pic above) and we’ll dive deep into the classic regions of France and their respective grape varieties. From Melon de Bourgogne and Sancerre to Cabernet Franc and Tannat, you’ll get the rare chance to “try before you buy” and learn about some of the French classics one taste at a time.

The entry fee gains you healthy tastes of 8 classic French wines, informed and knowledgeable information and discussion on each, bread and cheese, and a great opportunity to get first crack at some of the best wines we can procure at the best prices we can offer them to you.

The only way to reserve your seat is to call us at 828.505.8588 to pre-pay; reservations can not be confirmed via email.  Due to our advanced planning needs, refunds can only be issued for cancellations made within 48 hours of January 29th.

Pinot Perfection: A Sampling of Regal Pinot Noirs – Tuesday, November 5th, 2013 – 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.

It’s no secret that I, Josh Spurling, am a helpless Pinot Noir addict. To learn more about my affliction, you can read my latest ramblings by clicking here.  I have been buying Pinot Noirs from great producers throughout the course of the year, and for this tasting, I’m going to open some of my favorites and share them with a small crew.  If you love Pinot Noir of all makes, shapes and sizes, you might want to get in on this action.  All of the wines will be available for purchase at the best prices we can offer them to you.

This will be a seated and educational tasting, and we can only take 20 lucky folks for this special event.  Bread and cheese will be included, and we will start promptly at 7:00, so please plan to be here on time.  To pre-pay and reserve your seat, please call us at 828.505.8588 or email us at Cancellations made within 48 hours of the event will receive a full refund.

$25/person…..$20 for Grape Nuts

Understanding QPR: A Free Wine Tasting – Friday, October 11, 2013 – 4:00 to 7:00 p.m.

At Table Wine,we’re constantly on the hunt for wines that offer the most quality at the best price.  More commonly known as “QPR” or “Quality to Price Ratio”, our job is to find our customers the best wines their money can buy.  The key to understanding QPR is to know that it has nothing to do with price, but has everything to do with quality.  There are $15,$30, and $50 bottles of wine that offer great QPR in the sense that they taste like wines that cost twice the price.  At the same time, there are wines in those price ranges that taste like wines that cost half the price, and we avoid these as much as possible.  The simple equation to determine QPR is to divide what you think the wine costs by what it actually costs……….the higher the product of the equation, the higher the QPR.

You see, there are a ton of wines out there that are “branded” to the max.  You see them on full page spreads in magazines and newspapers with a common general message that if you drink them, you are living the good life.  These marketing and advertising campaigns cost millions of dollars and guess who ends up paying for that?  You do!  We’re not saying these wines taste bad, but we are saying that they are grossly overpriced and much of what you’re paying for is advertising and marketing costs.  We think you should be paying for what’s inside the bottle, and that’s whey we stock wines from the smaller producers who subscribe to the notion that the “proof is in the pudding”.  These are the small, passionate, down to earth guys and gals who look at making wine much like one of our talented local chefs (Katie Button and Jacob Sessoms come to mind) look at making food.  It’s always about quality, not quantity and quickness of production.

If  you can wrap your head around that, then maybe we’re the wine shop for you.  We try our best to offer you the highest QPR items available to us, and most of our customers say we do a good job at it.  Stop by this Friday to see if you agree, as we’ll pour four wines that offer maximum quality at more than fair prices.

1. Tenuta degli Ultimi Prosecco “Sanguefreddo” (Conegliano-Valdobbiadene, Italy)
We’ve tasted a lot of Prosecco in our three years of business, but this one takes the cake.  Composed entirely of hand harvested, sustainably farmed Glera grapes, this one just explodes out of the glass with fresh melon, peach, lemon and little hints of vanilla, honey and dusty mineral.  Truly delicious!

2. 2012 Palazzone Orvieto Classico “Terre Vineate” (Umbria, Italy)
The Palazzone estate has been owned and operated by the Dubini family since 1969, and they are without a doubt the region’s leading producer.  Whereas a lot of Orvieto is simple and somewhat neutral in character, this one is seriously delicious and multifaceted.  A blend of old vine, hand harvested Procanico, Grechetto, Verdello, Malvasia & Drupeggio, it is seriously dry and aromatically delightful.

3. 2012 Zorzal Malbec “Terroir Unico” (Mendoza, Argentina)
This isn’t your typical Argentinean Malbec, and we think that’s a good thing.  The three Michelini brothers are known to play Radiohead to their vines……….whatever they’re doing, we say keep it up!  This is really bright and lively Malbec with lots of pretty red fruits and a savory, earthy, slightly funky character that adds to its deliciousness.  Every person that has bought this wine so far has come back for more.

4. 2010 Flor das Tecedeiras Tinto (Douro Valley, Portugal)
This is one heady wine!  A blend of Portugal’s prized Touriga Nacional and other native grapes, this is a big, lush, powerful red wine that should appeal to fans of Napa Cabs.  In fact, we think it tastes better than a lot of Napa Cabs that cost twice the price of this one!  Layers of ripe blueberry and blackberry fruit attach to notes of spicy, toasty oak and vanilla to create a lush and full bodied flavor bomb of a wine.


Confessions of a Pinot Noir Addict

I was addicted to Pinot before that movie Sideways came out, and I don’t care that my Cab and Merlot drinking friends think I’m wimpy for drinking the stuff.  My love affair with the grape began early in my career – in fact, it was a bottle of Van Duzer Pinot Noir in 1998 that was the first red wine that I ever liked.  So what is it about this grape and the wine it produces that has such a hold on me?

In good Pinot Noir, there is always a sense of terroir, a French term that basically translates as “sense of place”.  More simply, it means that a Pinot Noir from California is not going to taste the same as one from Burgundy because the soil, the weather and the exposure of the vine to the sun is not the same in each place.  As a veteran “wine geek”, I find this concept to be completely captivating and engaging.  It fuels me to try Pinot Noirs from all parts of the globe.

Pinot Noir is rarely a “big” wine like Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Malbec tend to be.  Don’t get me wrong, I like all of those grapes, but there is a sensual and seductive characteristic to Pinot Noir that the others often lack.  Good Pinot should balance fresh, juicy fruit notes with more complex, savory, elegant earth nuances.  These aromas and flavors are rarely obvious and require the drinker to do a little searching.  In addition, good Pinot often possesses a silky and sensual texture that draws me back in for sip after sip.  In a nutshell, Pinot Noir inspires contemplation, patience and attention, and this might be what captivates me the most.

My favorite spots for Pinot Noir include the Burgundy region of France, Oregon’s Willamette Valley and a few spots in California, most notably the Sonoma Coast, the Russian River Valley and Santa Barbara.  All of these spots share the cool climate tendencies necessary to produce good Pinot Noir.  This finicky grape is quite difficult to grow and demands a ton of TLC to reach its maximum potential.  Thus, good Pinot Noir is rarely had for less than $20, but there are some exceptions.

So the only thing left to do is go home, roast a chicken and some root vegetables, and pop a bottle of Arterberry Maresh Pinot Noir.  I encourage you to try the same combination sometime this fall.  Cheers and happy eating and drinking in Asheville!

California Cabernet Sauvignons

Comparing California Cabernets: Estate Versus Negociant and Cooperative

Let’s face it, California is not exactly a hotbed of good values.  The cost of land and labor in the Golden State is typically much higher than many of the other wine producing regions of the world.  Combine that with the fact that many producers are paying pricey land leases and/or want to have glitzy facilities and tasting rooms, and you have the recipe for expensive wine.

Thank goodness that’s not always the case!  By “setting up shop” in lesser known, lower rent regions, producers can keep their costs down, as is the case with James Mitchell.  James and his team are what we refer to as an “estate” winery, meaning they own and farm their own vineyards and make their wines at their own facilities.  In a nutshell, they “raise and rear” their wine from the vineyard to the bottle.  This is the type of wine and production method that we specialize in at Table Wine; “Farmer Wines” as we like to call them.

However, we do reserve the right to carry anything we want, and there are some really great wines being produced by cooperatives and negociants all over the world.  A negociant operation, like Jade Mountain, is one which buys fruit or sometimes juice to make their wines.  They either make their wines at a winemaking facility (if grapes are purchased) and/or mature the wines as they see fit in oak barrels and/or in bottle.  A cooperative, on the other hand, is a member owned operation whereby farmers or vineyard owners deliver grapes to one facility, which handles production of the wines and the subsequent marketing activities.  At the end of the day, whether you’re buying an estate, negociant or cooperative produced wine, it’s a good idea to shop with a small, independently owned wine shop.  If they’re anything like us, they try a ton of wines every week and act as your filter.

Below are the two wines we poured on Saturday, August 24th for our free tasting.

 – 2010 James Mitchell Cabernet Sauvignon “Estate” (Lodi) – This is an absurd value in really high quality, estate Cabernet Sauvignon.  When we say “estate”, it means that the producer owns and controls all of the means and methods by which they produce their wine.  They own their vineyards, they farm them, they harvest their fruit and they make their wines at their own facilities; in a nutshell, they “raise” the wine from the vineyard to the bottle.  In this wine you will find a lot of ripe, lush dark fruit and warm spices.  Classic Cab at a great price! 

– 2010 Jade Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley/Lake County) – Jade Mountain functions a bit differently than James Mitchell.  They purchase fruit from various vineyards throughout Napa and Sonoma and then make their wines at a winemaking facility.  This is not a bad thing, as it truly helps to keep the price of the wine down without sacrificing quality.  Warm blueberry and cherry fruit mingle with roasted herb and spice notes in this perfect cocktail-styled Cabernet.


Table Wine Asheville: Tempranillo Wine Class

Wine 101: Understanding Tempranillo – Thursday, August 22nd., 2013 – 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.

It’s another seated and educational tasting in the Table Wine classroom, and this time we’re going to focus entirely on Tempranillo.
The grape grows in a number of regions throughout the world, but it reaches its pinnacle of quality in Spain, and that’s where we’ll focus our attention for the night.  The Spanish regions of Rioja, Ribera del Duero and Toro are three of the most famous for Tempranillo production, and each produces a wine with its own distinct personality.  From light, elegant and complex wines to rich, muscular and full bodied ones, we’ll taste our way through the world of Tempranillo, and you’ll leave the store with a better understanding of the grape and the wines it produces.  I would be remiss not to mention that we’ll end the class with a taste of the 2010 Pingus Ribera del Duero “Psi”……..simply put, we’ll end the tasting with a wine from one of the top Tempranillo producers in the world.

Table Wine Asheville Classroom

The Table Wine “classroom”.

The tasting will get started promptly at 7:00, so we ask that everyone plan to arrive 5 to 10 minutes early.  Bread, cheese and other light palate cleansers are included with the price of entry, but we recommend having a snack or a light meal before you get here.  Just call us at 828.505.8588 to pre-pay and reserve your spot.  Cheers!

$20/person…..$15 for Grape Nuts

Table Wine Asheville - Free on Fridays Wine Tasting

Ravishing Red Blends – Free on Fridays Wine Tasting – Friday, August 9th., 2013 – 4:00 to 7:00 p.m.

Blending is a very common winemaking practice and one that is used to construct some of the greatest wines in the world.  Ever had a Bordeaux, a Super Tuscan or a Meritage from California?  If you answered yes, then you’ve experienced a blended wine and know that they can be incredible.  More commonly used with reds than whites, winemakers typically blend different grapes together with the goal of bringing more harmony, depth and complexity to their finished wine.  It’s a little known fact that many “varietally labeled” wines (Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, etc.) are actually blends; for instance, in California, a wine labeled Cabernet Sauvignon actually only has to contain 75% of said grape.

I could go on and on, but that would leave us nothing to discuss at the actual event!  Stop by to taste and learn about some great wines for our “Free on Friday” tasting this week and every week at your favorite little wine store.

The Wines

1. 2010 Kanonkop Kadette Proprietary Red Wine (Western Cape, South Africa)
Kanonkop is one of South Africa’s oldest and most dependable red wine producers.  This wine sees South Africa’s hybrid Pinotage grape blended with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc.  It is a true taste of South Africa with classic notes of smoke and herb accented berries along with more subtle notes of dark chocolate and spice.  For under $15, it magically melds Old and New World wine characteristics together wonderfully.

2. 2010 Donati Family Claret (Paicines, California)
The Paicines AVA was a new one to us, but we absolutely loved this wine.  Located a bit east of Monterey, this isolated region is relatively cool and the Donati family is the only winery in the region.  Their Claret is a blend of  43% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 13%  Malbec, 7% Cabernet Franc and the rest Petit Verdot.  With a Bordeaux-like nose of red and dark berries, tobacco and spices, it has a California-like palate of  creamy fruits, vanilla and spice box.  It is a ton of wine for the money!

3. 2009 Chateau Jouclary Cuvée Tradition (Cabardes, France)
Cabardes is one of the AOC’s of France’s Languedoc zone and it is quite unique, as it is one of the few regions in all of France where producers can blend Atlantic and Mediterranean varietals together.  Thus, this wine is blends 50% Merlot with 25% each Syrah and Grenache to create a wine that tastes like a hypothetical Cotes du Rhone/Bordeaux blend.  Really dark fruited, earth and minerally, this one really likes big hunks of grilled meat.

All tasting wines are 10% off by the bottle or 15% off if you buy six or more of them.

Wine 101: Understanding Malbec – Thursday, May 23rd., 2013 – 7-9 pm

Although there is more Malbec cultivated in Argentina than anywhere else in the world, the grape actually hails from the southwestern part of France, where it is still grown.  These days, the grape is enjoying a wave of popularity and it is grown in a number of wine producing countries and regions, including Chile, Washington state, and the Loire Valley just to name a few.  For this seated tasting, we’ll talk about and taste several different Malbecs from all over the world and you should gain an understanding that the grape produces a wide range of styles of wine that have less to do with the grape and more to do with where it’s grown and who is making it.  Bread, cheese and other light palate cleansers are included witht the price of entry.  Space is limited so please call us at 828.505.8588 to reserve your spot and pre-pay.

$20/person…..$15 for Grape Nuts

Table Wine Asheville - Wine and Food Pairing

The Table Wine “classroom”.


When Wine Goes Bad

If you drink wine somewhat regularly, you are bound to come across bottles that you just don’t like.  Sometimes, this could just be bad luck in the sense that you picked a bottle that wasn’t suited to your taste.  Other times though, your dislike for the wine could be caused by flaws and/or faults that just sometimes occur.  When tasting wine, it is important for you to differentiate between a  flawed wine, a faulted wine, and one that you just don’t like.

Flawed wines can often  still be drinkable, but you might detect an imbalance or a negative attribute in the wine such as excessive sulfur dioxide, volatile acidity, Brettanomyces or diacetyl.  If your wine smells and/or tastes of burnt match (excessive sulfur), vinegar (volatile acidity), barnyard (Brett) or rancid butter (diacetyl), you could have a technically flawed wine.  However, if none of these faults are in such an excess that they overwhelm other components of the wine, you might actually still enjoy it.  On the other hand, if any of these factors are disproportionate or extreme in the wine,  you’ve probably got a wine that is faulty.  If this is the case, you should return that wine to your retailer for a refund or exchange.

Wine faults can usually be detected in the aroma, but they can also be detected by the sight and taste of the wine.  The most common wine fault is cork taint or TCA, which is caused by a strain of mold that grows on natural wine corks.  If you open your bottle and it smells musty, moldy, or like wet cardboard or newspaper, you’ve unfortunately purchased a corked bottle of wine.  Cork taint is usually an isolated incident that may effect only one bottle in an entire case of wine.  It is not the wine’s, the producer’s or the retailer’s fault, but instead is simply something that just happens sometimes.  If you detect cork taint in your wine, you should definitely take the bad bottle back to your retailer and exchange it out for another.

When wine goes bad.

It this is your reaction to the wine you just bought, it might just be off.

Other wine faults include oxidation, refermentation and heat damage.  An oxidized wine will smell/taste vinegary and flat and is typically caused by a faulty cork that didn’t properly seal the wine.  A wine that is undergoing refermentation (aka secondary fermentation) will be mildly to severely bubbly or effervescent.  It is caused by yeasts refermenting the residual sugar present within bottled wine and most often occurs when a wine is made in a non-sterile environment.  Keep in mind that certain wines like Vinho Verde are intentionally allowed to undergo a secondary fermentation, and wines like this are supposed to be a bit bubbly.

Another common fault sometimes encountered is a heat damaged or cooked wine.  The ideal storage temperature for wine is 55 degrees Farenheit, and wines that are shipped or stored at temperatures well above that range can quickly become damaged.  If you go to open a bottle of wine and notice that the cork is protruding out of the bottle, even just a little bit, you’ve most likely purchased a heat damaged bottle of wine or you have stored your wine improperly.  On a hot summer day, it is crucial not to leave your wine in a hot car.  Likewise, do not store your wine in a room or cupboard if the temperature is 70 degrees or above.  This protrusion of the cork results in premature oxidation in the wine which will make the wine appear cloudy or brickish in color.  The flavor of a cooked wine is not pleasant, as it can taste like stewed, rotten fruit.  If you open a bottle of wine with any of these attributes, just put the cork back in the bottle and return it for an exchange or refund.  That is, unless you caused it to happen.

Cooked bottle of wine.

A good sign that your wine has been “cooked”.

At the end of the day, any reputable wine seller wants his or her customers to enjoy the wine(s) they purchase.  Unfortunately, many casual wine drinkers don’t know that wine can and does go bad.  Their first gut reaction is to proclaim the wine as bad and to never shop at the store again where they purchased it.  This is a bad scenario, as oftentimes, it is not the store’s fault for the flaw or fault in the wine.  Thus, this wine retailer can just advise you to trust your gut feeling about a wine.  If it smells off or tastes bad, there is a good chance that the wine is flawed or faulted in some way.  Bring it back to the store where you purchased it, and a good wine retailer will smell and taste the wine and let you know if there is something wrong with it.  If there is something wrong with it, they should issue you a refund or exchange the bad bottle out for another one.  Happy customer equals happy wine retailer and all is well in the world.  Happy drinking and happy eating on Planet Asheville.

Table Wine Asheville Classroom

Wine 101 Class – Understanding The Basic Varietals

We’ve received several requests to start conducting wine education classes, and we’re excited to announce our first one in a long time.  On Thursday, June 28, we’ll host a sit down, educational seminar where we’ll sample the three most popular white and the three most popular red wines among American wine drinkers.  How does a Sauvignon Blanc differ from a Chardonnay?  What determines the body of a wine?  What is tannin and how you can detect it in wine?  All of these questions will be answered, and you will walk away with a different understanding of wine and how to taste it as well as a better understanding of the differences and similarities between the most common grape varieties.

We make wine so easy, even a baby could understand.

The class starts at 7:00 p.m. sharp and the cost is $10 per person.  We will also provide bread and cheese so that you can cleanse your palate between tastes.  We can take 24 folks for this seated, educational and tasty affair.  Please call the store to save your spot and pre-pay at 828.505.8588.