July 4th: Red, White & Coravin

duo bottles Like me, my brother and sister-in-law enjoy their vino. Each time we get together,  corks (many) are popped and conversation swirls like wine around what interesting  bottles or brands we’re enjoying these days. Though we only live a few hours from  each other, due to life’s busy schedule in addition to managing our kiddos, we aren’t able to visit as often as we would like. SO, when we do, it’s a cause for celebration.

Running a lifestyle brand within the wine industry offers me quite a few perks…and  each time I visit my brother I come ‘a packing some goodies to share. Beyond  meeting great people and discovering unique wines, it’s partners like Stolzle and  Coravin that give me great pleasure to pass along their mission and wonderful  products. I’m like a kid in a candy store…love it.glass

Like many avid wine enthusiasts, Tom and Meghan own a handful of glassware to enjoy their chosen drink. However, with the launch of our luxury glassware line deemed as “The Glass Does Make A Difference”, I was excited to bring along a pack of our soon-to-release glasses for them to experience whatever wines we would dive into…the right way, with Stolzle born-in-fire.

As the little sister following my brother, I’ve witnessed Tom and Meghan establish their life and grow together. First came two dogs, followed by wedding gifts, another dog, a kid, to another kid and another dog. Within that, moving 5 times and having the joy of packing up life’s belongings; necessities, crap and all. With every move, I noticed these two wine bottles that would grace their standing wine shelf. Honestly, I didn’t give them much thought after their first few moves. Seemed like an easy to pack item that happened to be placed from the shipping box back in it’s original “home”. But then after the third and fourth move, I began to ponder the meaning behind them. Was it laziness when moving and packing? Or was there something more?

At first glance they seemed in moderate condition. Labels displaying a classic yet colorful elegance, seeming to speaklouis loudly in attempt to establish their brand. A Granite Springs Zinfandel, El Dorado 1982 and Louis Martini Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa County 1966. I never once mentioned my intrigue to my brother after each of his moves. Every time when visiting the new home, there they were, staring at me. Once again showing their faces on that little wine shelf. Having seen these go to various locations over the past 12  years, time after time they sat on a lonely wine shelf. Displayed in a quiet family room corner with no thought to temperature or preservation, I didn’t understand. This led me to think they were probably crap, and so why the hell are you keeping them? I’m the first to admit I immediately judged the book by its cover. The Louis Martini had a plastic top covering the neck of the cork. Something in which my closest comparison would be the plastic “Zork” capsule on the wine market today which eludes to a lesser priced bottle of wine.

coravin 3 SO, then came this past July 4th. My daughter  Quinn and I scooted out of the wine  country to visit  Tom and Meghan’s new home in the quaint town of Grass Valley.  Along with the  glasses, I brought them a gift of Coravin. A generous partner and  sponsor of Feast  it Forward and my newest fun wine toy. A remarkable  unit inspired by a love of  wine and a dream to magically pour wine from bottles  without ever pulling the cork.  Allowing the remaining wine to then go back into the  cellar, to be enjoyed again  whenever desired.

And you guessed it. We arrived to the new home, and there they were. On the same  little wine shelf,  peeking their necks out. THIS was the perfect opportunity to  question what I had been wondering for so long. Beyond staking  claim as “cool looking  bottles”, I had no  further thought to them. To be clear, had I  seen these in a chilled wine cellar among fellow collectables I would think otherwise about these bottles.

When I asked about the bottles, they indeed had a story.  And a good one at that. Meghan’s grandfather was a collector of wines sunsetand upon his passing, her grandmother gifted the bottles to her wine-loving grandaughter to remember him by. Tom and Meghan never gave thought to actually opening them, just keeping them as a memento. Hence with each move, placing them back to their original “home”. When I shared the handy-dandy Coravin system, their eyes popped. With a slight quiver of hesitation, Meghan said “I guess if they’re bad we can just keep the bottles.” My brothers response was with excitement and curiosity. “It never crossed our mind. It’s old bottles that look neat. But why not?” As we sat on the deck with a stunning sunset and the holiday fireworks just around the corner, we took a leap of fun faith and accessed THE bottles that for so many years were a decorative memento.

2 coravin After removing the plastic cork cover on the Louis Martini, a sigh of  concern was heard as the cork was soft and a tad of seepage was  apparent. To our shock, these wines rocked. I couldn’t believe it. I really  couldn’t. Though lacking in deep color, the 1966 Napa Cabernet was  surprisingly bright. Beautiful in acid and moderate fruit, we found  it elegant in an old world way. The Granite Springs was full of life and  showcased a balanced viscosity. Thanks to the Stolzle glasses, I  was  confident we were sure to take in the full and true essence remaining from these wines.

I wasn’t expecting a lesson in wine education. However it was the back of the Martini label that caught my attention. In a time where Napa Valley was searching for ways to be a leading force in the industry, the writing on the back was telling. Almost in a tone of searching for acceptance. As you will see below, it is far from what you find these days  as there is no question about what we have accomplished.

back label“This fine full bodied red wine is made from grapes of the Cabernet Sauvignon variety, grown within Napa and Sonoma Counties in California. The Cabernet Sauvignon grape is the variety from which all of the great Clarets (Red Bordeaux) are produced in the Medoc and St. Emilion districts of France, and perhaps more than any other grape it preserves, when transplanted to favorable districts in the country, its unmistakable flavor and bouquet. This wine should be served at room temperature and is at its best with meats, roasts, fowl and cheese. The vineyards from which this wine comes from are located in the district north of San Francisco, which has been recognized, for nearly a century, as one of the best of this country, for the production of both red and white table wine.”

The moral of the story? Had it not been for the Coravin unit these bottles would have never been celebrated. It was the very thought of opening them, that in a way the memory would be lost. Not the case. This July 4th we celebrated our United States holiday alongside two fine wines while remembering a generous family man who loved the libation and now has passed along a new memory. With that said, go grab yourself a Coravin. It opens up bottles,  and memories.

Where do those bottles sit now? You guessed it. Back on that little wine shelf, in the corner of the family room. Happily celebrated.

About the Author:

Katie Hamilton Shaffer is a wine country entertainer, chef, philanthropist and vintner in Napa Valley. Wishing to merge her passions for all things food, wine and philanthropy, Katie created the lifestyle brand "Feast it Forward" to raise a glass, awareness and funds while offering insight on how each person can make an impact and live beyond their backyard.

One Comment

  1. Meghan October 8, 2015 at 8:50 pm - Reply

    Awww… finally read it! What a sweet summary of our 4th of July and those 2 cherished bottles. Love it.

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