What Does Irish Coffee Have To Do With Wine?

Today I’m tackling an age-old question that few wine bloggers have the guts to address: “What DOES Irish coffee have to do with wine?

The answer is, as far as I can tell,  “Absolutely nothing“.  Except, they both deliver a bit of a kick, and are immensely fun to drink.

But thanks to the miracle of social media, I connected virtually this morning with someone I worked with a decade ago, before my period of Great Enlightenment, when I spent long hours at the office carefully nurturing false hopes of great and sudden IPO riches.

During these dark ages, there were a few people whose talents and personalities separated them from the pack.   Such as the one who took trapeze lessons after the dot-com meltdown, one who now works at Yahoo, another who opened a restaurant specializing in the best cheese sandwiches you ever ate, several who run other successful businesses, and one – Dave Karraker – who is a stand-up comic (and celebrity toucher, but that’s a different story).  Dave was once a talking head for a local news channel on some un-named station in B.F. California.  Here he puts his on-camera experience to a much higher purpose as he spins the history of the Irish Coffee into an entertaining 5-minute segment.  And for the record, yes I’m jealous of his on-camera ease and stellar editing skills, which put my nascent efforts to shame!

Learn more about Dave’s exploits at his blog, here.

Old Partners, New Wine Bar

Image from SLO Tribune. Click to read full story.

Anyone planning a visit to the Central Coast wine country needs to know about a new wine bar in Pismo Beach.  Owned by two of my six former partners in our Solvang wine bar – Tastes of the Valleys – this one operates under the same name (“Tastes of the Valleys, the sequel?”) but uses a very different concept, and one I really like!

Ash and Lissa Mehta are the sole owners of Tastes of the Valleys in Pismo Beach.  This independence has allowed them to take advantage of the lighter management overhead, using their experience with the Solvang facility to run things as they think it should be, without five other opinions to contend with.  A lesson in Business Management, if ever there was one!  Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.

Pismo Beach - the strip at sunset

While passing Pismo recently, my family and I stopped in for a brief visit to the new Tastes of the Valleys, where we were warmly greeted by Lissa.  I was most impressed by what they’d accomplished.  And yes, it made me want to get back into the wine bar business on my own!  While I enjoy the individual tasting room experience a winery can provide, such wine bars offer important advantages, both in efficiency and safety.

A Safer Alternative

The Central Coast wine country is massive, and wineries tend to be separated by long stretches of roads full of twists and turns. And drinking can become problematic when driving between tasting rooms.  So for wine pilgrims in search of new favorites from the Central Coast, I recommend visiting just one or two tasting rooms to take in the beauty of the vineyard setting, then spending the afternoon and evening in Pismo where you can taste the night away as you try to make your way through Tastes of the Valleys 150+ wines by the glass!  There are numerous hotels just a short walk away.

You read that correctly – over 150 wines by the glass.  The Mehta’s have made this possible for thirsty wine pilgrims by using the latest in nitrogen-infused dispensers that preserve the wine as it is dispensed.  Such dispensers have been around for ages, but not like this – Tastes of the Valleys (Pismo) has installed four of the latest versions, which provide an important twist – stoppers that allow the bottles to be removed from the unit.  In this way, the Mehta’s aren’t limited by the number of spigots on the dispensers.  Combine this feature with a handful of great, simple food items (including $9 for some great individual pizzas that are to dye for) and they’ve put together a winning formula.

Stop in and visit Ash and Lissa the next time you’re passing Pismo Beach.  Mention that you’re a friend of mine and they’ll likely only charge you a 10% – 15% premium over less fortunate customers!

Cheers,
Dave
www.DaveTheWineMerchant.com

Improve Any Red Wine in 20 Minutes! Achieving optimal serving temperature.

After a recent wine tasting I led at San Francisco State’s school of Hospitality Management, I met two film production students named Shao Wei and Hiroshi Adachi.  As you may know, I’ve been hankering to create educational wine videos for some time now, and the work of these two young students seemed a perfect fit.  Let me know what you think!

Here’s a short video that shows how to quickly increase the pleasure you get from any red wine simply by adjusting its serving temperature.  You see, most red wines are poured when they are too warm, and a few minutes in the refrigerator will bring your wine to its perfect temperature for optimal enjoyment. I know this sounds like heresy to red wine lovers, just relax and watch.

Let me know what you think!

Cheers,
Dave
www.DaveTheWineMerchant.com

Many a Slip Twixt the Cup and the Lip…

Because when the wine merchant weighs 80 pounds less than the wine on the hand truck, the wine wins…

Fortunately, we lost only six of the 84 bottles that fell.  But as I watched the wine trickle down the storm drain, before I had the guts to assess the damage, I thought one of this month’s wine clubs might be postponed until I could get the funds for more wine!

Thank God for narrow escapes.  Club members can now count on successful delivery of their wine next week!

Cheers!
Dave
www.DaveTheWineMerchant.com

“Outstanding in the Field” Dinner at Devil’s Gulch

Outstanding In The Field is a tale of overnight success that was 12 years in the making. Having almost quit the business on more than one occasion, founder Jim Deneven is finally earning a living from the “Farm to Table” field dining business he started in Santa Cruz in 1998.

His idea is basic – take a group of foodies to a local farm for instructional tours while top chefs get to work in Jim’s mobile “field kitchen” using local, artisanal ingredients. Apres-tour, the guests enjoy a family-style dinner amidst the host farmer’s field. Jim was an early evangelist of the Farm to Table movement, and now tours North America (and now Europe) with his concept, working with some of the world’s leading thinkers in alternative and sustainable agriculture. After twelve years, they’ve gotten pretty good at this – our experience Sunday night was just one of more than 60 dinners planned for their North American tour.

My wife and I had the pleasure of joining Jim and 148 other guests at this weekend’s dinner at Mark Pasternak’s Devil’s Gulch farm and vineyards in Marin. After parking in “town” next to the Nicasio Valley Cheese Company, shuttle vans took the diners across the rickety wooden bridge and a mile or so up to the vineyard. The mood in the van was quiet and anticipatory, with one woman’s conversation being heard above the occasional quite murmur. We were to be treated to the culinary stylings of Steffan Terje (Perbacco, Barbacco) and his able-bodied crew, who did the heavy lifting in the field kitchen while Jim’s and his team ran the “front room” duties.

Upon arrival at the vineyard, Jim’s cheerful and competent staff served appetizers of crushed fresh pea with mint (from Mariquita Farm in Watsonville) and Ricotta (from Liam Callahan’s Bellweather Farms) along with two spreadable salumi from Devil’s Gulch, both made from the farm’s hogs. Appetizers were served with a Pey Marin Riesling, which I found to be well made for a domestic Riesling but too dry to compliment the spice of the salumi.

The evening was cool but sunny, and the views enough to erase a week’s worth of stress. Though the vineyard’s terraced slopes gave me great sympathy for those who harvest the fruit, and made me glad I’m on the final end of the wine business, where comfy chairs often come into play.

After a walk through the Devil’s Gulch vineyard and down to their hog pen, we returned to the tables set for the 150 guests (their Bay Area stops on their North American Tour sell out so quickly they do one on Saturday and one on Sunday).

The evening sun helped to offset the cold and ceaseless wind, but layers of clothing and blankets emerged from the packs of the experienced customers faster than the dinner courses, which started with an amazing confit of rabbit from Devil’s Gulch (the Pasternak’s travel extensively, lecturing on the use of rabbits as a sustainable protein source for urban farmers) and grilled asparagus. This was served with a Chardonnay that didn’t work too well with the asparagus, but neither did the Martinelli pinot our friends Jim and Lisa had brought. The latter, an opulent pinot in the typical Turley style, was widely shared, and suddenly our neighbors became part of our party as well. Funny how wine makes that happen.

I almost forgot about this next course! What a waste that would have been, as it was truly amazing. I must state that I’m not normally a fan of gnocchi, as it can get too heavy and, at its worst, grey and starchy. But when you substitute the Bellweather Farms ricotta for potato, and blend it with just enough flour to hold its shape, the pasta is beautifully light and airy. Now stir in some ramps, wild mushrooms and (mark of the Spring season!) fava beans, and then pair it all with the Pey Marin 2007 Pinot – pure heaven. We also opened the 2007 Pinot we’d brought from Roederer Estates in Anderson Valley, and found its relative leanness worked beautifully with this dish.

Next to come was the main course – slow-roasted pork from the Pasternak’s farm and more of the Pey Marin pinot, whose oak was more pronounced than in our Roederer, which I surprisingly preferred – I’d looked forward to trying the famed Pey-Marin pinot. The pork was served with artichokes and spring onion with olive-oil crushed potatoes. Then out came the2008 Dutton-Goldfield 2008 Pinot from the very vines we dined between, and it just may have been my favorite of the evening.

Dessert was no mere afterthought. Terje and his staff came up with a divine inspiration and pulled it off flawlessly despite the challenges of a field kitchen and 150 servings – strawberries on top of a baked merangue with sweetened Crème Fraîche from Bellweather Farms. As you know, most of my recipes are savory, wine-centric musings. But I’m determined to find a way to get this one into the line-up! I’d not be surprised to find this one in our regular spring-time repertoire.

After the dinner, the mood on the shuttle vans was notably different. Louder. Cards were exchanged. Perhaps a phone number or two. Designated driving duties negotiated. Monday morning was dreaded by all.

I hope you get a chance to try one of the dinners from Outstanding in the Field. But doing so takes some doing, and some cash. Each seat sells for $180 – $240, and most of the 60+ events on their North American Tour have already sold out. Still, it’s an experience worth saving for.

Cheers!
Dave
www.DaveTheWineMerchant.com

Touring Napa – My New iPhone App!

Click for more on my new iPhone app
Note the 3 "wine bottle buttons" (top). Red = Co-ops, Green = open tasting, and Purple = appointment only. (Wineries closed to the public limited to our List View)

After many months of work with my development partners at Transitions 2, I am proud to announce the launch of my new iPhone app “NapaWineries“!

For less than one measly U.S. Dollar, visitors to our nation’s top wine country destination can now get insider insights to help plan their next visit.

And with over 500 tasting options in Napa, it’s nice to have this travel guide on your iPhone!  It’s like taking me along as your tour guide without having to buy me lunch.

Features of “NapaWineries”

MAP VIEW – colored pins indicate location plus –  “Open for Tasting”, “Appointment Only”, and “Co-ops” (multi-winery tasting rooms).  Turn on location mapping, and your location is shown relative to the winery map!

INSIDER INSIGHTS – read my comments about favorite places, styles of wines, and great places to picnic!  Refresh your app before each visit, as our data updates occur regularly!

LIST VIEW – all Napa Valley tasting facilities including hours, pricing, and tasting information.

DIRECTIONS – Easily click-through to get driving directions

APPOINTMENTS – One-click calling for tasting appointments.

NOTES – record your thoughts and reactions.  Find a new favorite?  Had a bad experience and you’ll never go back?  Record it here!

Got an iPhone?  Download Now!

Sorry, this app is currently available only on iPhones and iPads.  Users of the iPad will note that it needs some resizing to be optimized – it’s on our development list!

Download today from the iPhone App Store (just search for napawineries), or click the button on the right to download from the iTunes store – the app will show up on your phone the next time you synch.

Cheers!
Dave
www.DaveTheWineMerchant.com

A Gift Giving Guide To A Wine-Soaked Holiday

cupcoffeeI met an old friend for coffee this week.  We soon began comparing levels of amazement at how fast the holidays were approaching, and how ill-prepared we are.

“I have too many gifts to get and not enough time” my friend complained.

“I can help, you know.  Wine always makes a nice gift.” I said.

“But I can’t give wine to everybody on my list” she said, “they’re all so different.”

“Try me”, I said.  Then the next few minutes turned into what can only be called my “Gift giving guide for a wine-soaked holiday”.

eshop60281Innovators vs. Traditionalists
“Well, for example, a lot of my friends are pretty progressive – they work in the arts, advertising, writing… you know the types.  But then there’s my old college roommate – she’s the very poster child for “Traditional”, has Norman Rockwell prints in her dining room, sends daily tweets with feel-good quotes, and probably has a kitty poster in her cubicle, you get the idea.”

“Those are easy”, I said, “Your current friends are likely to eschew the traditional.  Give them the gift of the latest new wine discovery – something that’s hot in the hippest of wine bars.  Good candidates that won’t break the bank include a dry, floral white like the Malat Gruner Veltliner ($18) or the Andeluna Torrontes ($12.50).  And if they enjoy red wines too then include a bottle of the Southern Rhone blend from Riussanelle ($19) or the Chilean Pacifico Sur Reserve Pinot Noir ($15)

“But your old roommate is a different story” I went on.  “She clearly likes to stick with known entities, so don’t surprise her with anything too edgy.  Stick with the ol’ traditionals – Cabernet and Chardonnay.  Try the Napa Cabernet from Bighorn Cellars ($20) and/or Bonneau’s Carneros Chardonnay ($28), both are affordable wines made in the classic style she’ll appreciate.”

Relationships
“Perfect, that takes care of my friends and co-workers!” She said as she paused to take notes on the inside of her coffee cup’s hot sleeve.  Then she turned a bit coy as she asked “What would you recommend for my dinner date tomorrow night?  I’ve been invited over by this new guy I’m seeing.  It’s our first dinner at his place and I’m bringing the wine, but I don’t know what we’re having.”

“Well, if you don’t know what he’s making or ordering you’ll want a very versatile wine.  And since it’s a new relationship, a Beaujolais Nouveau would be a lot of fun!”

I went on… “This young wine just “arrivéd” in local wine shops about two weeks ago.  It’s called ‘nouveau’ because it’s the first release of the harvest – a simple wine, barely past puberty and fresh from the frothy fermentation vat with still-vivid memories of hanging around on the vine.  Beaujolais Nouveau celebrates the fertility of the harvest, so it’s Bacchanalian at its core!  In its native town of Beaujolais, the celebration begins at midnight with a parade (featuring lots of drinking), after which the wine hits the stores to satisfy long, anticipatory, Harry-Potter-like lines of eager imbibers.  The only serious thing about this wine is that it’s seriously grapey and easy to drink” I said fondly.  “And besides, they’re highly affordable, though in the world of Beaujolais Nouveau, you get quite a bit more bang for spending a bit more buck, so to speak.”

Hmmm, that sounds interesting, but what should I bring as a back-up?” she asked, wisely cautious.

“Well,” I continued, now on a roll, “at the holidays a sparkling wine is always a welcome site, and a good Brut is one of the most versatile food wines you can find – especially a Brut Rosé, which also lends a festive holiday color to your glass.”  Besides, (depending on your goal for the evening!) sparkling wine inspires more lurid conversation than most wines – want to hear a good story along those lines?”

“Well I’m not sure I want to get into that on our first dinner date, but… I’d like to hear the story!” she said.

“I think you’ll like it,” I said.  “You know the two types of champagne glasses, right?  The tall, slender flute and the low, flat cup or coupé?”

“Of course.” She said.  “And I know flutes are best for preserving the bubbles.”

Champagne Coupe“Right.  But it’s the coupé that has the more tantalizing story.  It supposedly originated in the years just before the French revolution.  According to the story, poor King Louis didn’t offer his young bride much bedroom satisfaction even though she was young and vivacious and wantin’ to be wanton.  Which she was, on more than one occasion, but outside the restrictive confines of the royal bedroom.  Each time, she countered her husband’s jealousy through extravagant gifts.

Keep in mind that her wanton behavior occurred when the age of courtesans was still fresh.  And as a courtesan’s customers entered her boudoir, she often greeted them with champagne served in a hand-blown glass – a replica of her own breast.  A preview of coming attractions, as it were.  Rumor has it that one of Marie Antoinette’s penance gifts to her King consisted of such a glass – titillating, so to speak, in its naughtiness as a gift to a King, and exactly the sort of thing the marauding revolutionists would have surely destroyed during the siege of the royal residence.”

“Wow!” she said with raised eyebrows.  “You’re right, I’m not sure that’s a story I’ll tell on the first date.”

“Why don’t I quite believe you?” I teased.

Crazy Uncle
“Well… getting back to my holidays, what should I do about my crazy uncle?  He’s more of a ‘Jack & Coke’ type of guy who’s inclined to tell the same jokes every year, laugh a little too loudly, and who often forgets to bring the presents he supposedly bought for the family.”

“Sounds painful” I sympathized.  “He’s accustomed to a drink that delivers an alcoholic burn offset by the sweetness of Coke.  So that calls for a red wine with lots of ripe fruit and a big wallop.  Sounds like the job for a California Syrah or Zinfandel with alcohol above 15%, which comes with the side benefit of encouraging Crazy Uncle to take an early nap.  A good example is one whose high alcohol is kept in balance by ripe fruit, one such as Sextant’s Holystone Zinfandel from Paso Robles ($27) [Link #7]

Rich Relative
“Ouch! That’s a bit pricey for my crazy uncle!” she said “maybe I should save that one for my wealthy aunt, besides, she’s the real wine lover!”

“Wait a minute, are you in the will?!  Then avoid having her fall in love with an expensive wine or she may be tempted to drink your inheritance!”  I joked, “but if she does develop a thirst for expensive wines, please give her my number!”

vignetteRecovering Alcoholic
“Well, there is ONE relative I definitely won’t buy wine for – my aunt who quite drinking a few years ago.  What do you recommend for her?”

“Oddly enough, there are some good grape juices you should consider.  We buy the plain grape juice from Navarro Vineyards for our daughter, but our absolute favorite is the Vignette sodas made from wine grapes (I like the sparkling pinot noir juice the best!)  These are not wines that have been de-alcoholized like the horrid Fre “Wines” – a sort of cross-dressing experiment gone awry.  These are very appealing beverages in their own right.”

“How much time will it take me to purchase these on your website?” she asked

“Just as much time as it will take you to give me the payment info and delivery addresses of each recipient – I’ll do the rest!”

“Perfect” she said.  “And don’t forget to include some for me too!”

If I haven’t covered some of the folks on your list, please give me a call (toll free 866-746-7293) or visit my online store.

Happy SantaCheers!
Dave the Wine Merchant
Dave@SidewaysWineClub.com
866-746-7293

My Life With Julia Child

Julie_and_julia large posterThe movie “Julie & Julia”” hit theaters last Friday, just one week before Julia Child’s birthday on August 15th.  The foodie movie’s considerable buzz has gotten me thinking about the Grande Dame of American culinary education.  So in our wine shipments this month,we paid homage to Julia by selecting wine-friendly recipes from her original cook book “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”, first published in 1961 after 8-years of work.

My Life With Julia
The catchy title for this posting is a  bit of a stretch.    Actually, it’s a big stretch.  My time with Julia lasted all of 6 minutes during which not a single word was spoken (and since she lived to be 92, our shared time amounts to just one 10-millionth of her life).

Somehow, I doubt she remembered me.

200px-Julia_ChildBut I remember our shared moment.  It was in Chicago back in 1990 (a few years after this photo at right).  She was the keynote speaker at an international wine event and I was an attendee.  Of all the choices for the break-out sessions, I’d selected the vertical tasting of Mondavi Cabernets.  Mondavi was at its peak back then, and the tasting was hosted by a superstar from their sales team, a man whose aura of confidence extended at least 50 feet, a man who was not on a first-name basis with humility.

The room quickly hushed as his session began.  Several minutes into his well-rehearsed presentation (he actually genuflected as he said the words “Opus One”), an aged Julia quietly ambled in.  She took the empty seat next to me and I could hear a quiet rustle in the room as everyone discreetly ignored the presenter to sneak a peek at Julia.  Had the presenter not been such a stranger to humility, he might have relished his honored guest.  Instead he simply asked for everyone’s attention.

As the presenter marched ahead, I tried to think of something witty to say, something Julia hadn’t heard a million times before (“Your boeuf bourguignon changed my life” or “What do you think of Dan Ackroyd’s spoof of you on SNL?” or “How many times DID you drop something on the floor during your live TV show?” or…)  – no such drivel would suffice.  I wanted my opening phrase to provide a foundation for a lifetime of exchanged letters, opinions on new food trends and mutual dinner invitations whenever travels brought us into the same ZIP code.

As I sat pondering my ideal introduction and most attendees were once again returned their attention to the speaker, Julia grew increasingly impatient.  She listened for a few minutes, making eye contact with noone, and then proceeded to taste the first of the six wines neatly semi-circled on her place-mat.  She swirled, sniffed, sipped… and made a small puckery face as she shook her head.  As attendees began to watch, she repeated this six times, then got up and left, just as unceremoniously as she’d entered.  It may have been the only time that presenter ever stumbled during his spiel.

Sadly, my witty greeting for Julia never got out of the garage.  I’d like to tell you it was good enough to have started a life-long friendship, but it’s permanently sidetracked somewhere in the neural network of my brain, crowded out by almost 19 years of other stuff.  So we’ll just never know.

This Month’s Recipes
To pair with this month’s wines, I selected two recipes from Julia’s first cookbook – a Pissaladière Niçoise (Onion tart with anchovy & olive) and a Coq au Vin (literally, chicken in wine) with onions, mushrooms and bacon.  Enjoy!

Happy MerchantCheers!
Dave the Wine Merchant
866-746-7293

Quote of the Day
Life itself is the proper binge
~ Julia Child, American Gourmet Food Pioneer, Author and TV Personality (8/15/12 – 8/13/04)

Wine Merchant Honors Koko Taylor

kokotaylor2006Famed blues singer, Koko Taylor, died yesterday from complications following surgery.  She was 81.

Why am I writing about this in a wine blog?  Because she is part of a great, wine-fueled memory of mine.

It was in the late 80’s, a time which found me living in Chicago, my love of wine growing faster than a teenager.  After an extended night of wine sipping in one of Chicago’s many great restaurants (Cabernet from Conn Creek, as I recall), this wine sipper and his friends descended on a blues bar.  Koko Taylor was already part-way through her first set when we arrived.

We stepped into a packed house, so we naturally scanned the back of the dark hall for empty seats.  We saw a few (none of them together of course) and just as we started towards them I saw four seats – all together – on the far end of the front row. Musterring our Cabernet-fueled courage (though admittedly, this was the late 80’s, and the octane was not what it is today) the four of us excused our way past each person in the row, passing directly in front of Ms. Taylor’s massive presence.

Which did not go unnoticed.  And after bringing it home, she called me out, saying “If you want to take over my stage, you have to sing with me on this next song, it’s a little something I made famous called ‘Wang Dang Doodle’“.  She wanted me to sing in call-and-response to her “All night long” refrain (play video below, to remember this song as it SHOULD be remembered – without my contribution!).

Now, for those unfamiliar with my so-called singing, let’s just say that I’m no pro.  In fact, I’ve had several shower heads break in protest. The best thing my mother could ever say about my singing is “Well son, at least you have volume!”

Maybe that’s why, as the great Koko Taylor handed me a microphone, all my Cabernet courage drained away.  My response to her “All night long” refrain was the most feeble, timid, off-key response anyone could ever imagine.  And boy did Ms. Taylor let me have it with some good-natured ribbing after the song was over.

Koko, wherever you are, I thank you for the memory.

Cheers!
Dave the Wine Merchant
Dave@SidewaysWineClub.com
866-746-7293

Quote of the Day
“”Blues means what milk does to a baby. Blues is what the spirit is to the minister. We sing the blues because our hearts have been hurt, our souls have been disturbed.”

~ Alberta Hunter, 1895-1984.  Blues singer, songwriter, nurse.

Travel With Wine, Not Honey

baggage-claim“I think that’s your bag, honey!” she said.

“It’s not the last one off the plane?  Yay!” I said

“I’ll get it” she said.

“Thanks” I said.

“I hope the wine’s OK” she said.

“It always is” I said.

“(Grunting) Got it!” she said.”

“Daddy it’s all sticky” the little she said.

“Something must have leaked onto it in the hold” I said.

“I just hope it’s not the honey we bought.” she said

“No way.” I said, knowing in my heart she was right.

honey-dew-2Next to several bottles of wine, I’d packed two jars of honey.   It was special honey, from bees who make their living pollinating plants in Spain’s fertile Montsant region.  (Actually, I doubt whether bees respect appellational boundaries, so some of their pollinating likely took place in the neighboring Priorat DOC/DOQ.  Blessed little trespassers!)

During my years of travel to foreign wine lands, I’ve always brought samples safely home by wrapping them in excess clothing and then snugly  tucking them inside my checked luggage (article here).

But not this time – the photo at right shows the honey-clad suitcase after unpacking the sticky mess. You should’a seen the clothes.

Up to now, I’d had a 100% success rate in bringing home wine samples unscathed.  So, why were the odds Gods working against me this time?  Before you abandon hope of using this (usually) reliable technique, you may want to consider two refinements to the basic technique:

  1. I packed so lightly, saving room for my eagerly anticipated wine booty, there was insufficient clothing to adequately wrap the honey jars.  Your goal is to prevent movement of the bottles, especially when your bag is mishandled.  If need be, recruit partially empty rolls of toilet paper and stuff them into your empty spaces.
  2. Three bottles of our wine were housed in a wooden box from Clos de L’Obac, and it was contact with the corner of this box that broke the honey pot.  Despite the attractiveness of wooden wine boxes, I recommend mustering your restraint and leaving them at your hotel, IF you plan to transport other breakables in the same bag.

All in all, I am still a confident supporter of this (usually) reliable technique, and continue to recommend its use for safely returning with wine samples intact.

It's hard work, but somebody's gotta do it

Cheers!
Dave the Wine Merchant
Dave@SidewaysWineClub.com
866-746-7293

Quote of the Day

“”The only reason for being a bee is to make honey… and the only reason for making honey is so I can eat it.”
~ Winnie the Pooh From ‘House at Pooh Corner’ by A.A. Milne