Thursday, July 28, 2016

Weekly Wine Review - Spanish Red - 2009 Bai Gorri Rioja B70

Need an easy dinner for a Friday night? Cheese, charcuterie, some good bread, and of course some wine. For us, it's typically Spanish themed - some aged Manchego cheese, Iberico ham, and one of my favorites - drunken goat cheese.  Wine pairing in this case is easy and no big surprise - Spanish!  In this case I cracked open a bottle I'd been saving from our last Spain trip from the Basque part of Rioja - Rioja Alavesa.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Store at Room Temperature - Except Not When the A/C Breaks Down!

Wino4Life Wife's turn to blog today!   A while back, Wino4Life wrote about the importance of the temperature  of wine, particularly “room temperature”.    For the majority of you, room temperature is acceptable where you can leave bread, fruits, and even wine out - just like that, in the open, non refrigerated!!   Well, for us, in Phoenix Arizona, we have to be a bit more particular with what’s left out!   Let alone, the horror of "oh crap, the air conditioner just went out” situation, which we just lived through, this past weekend.

Wino4Life does practice what he preaches.  We do own wine refrigeration units (yes plural), we have off-site wine storage, but when Wino4Life sees a deal he can’t pass up, he may purchase a bottle or two (think case or two) extra.   Our extra did accumulate over the winter, and exceeded our wine fridge capacity, so we kept it in a closet, downstairs (where the room is cooler), and has been kept for the past few months at a very good “room temperature” in the 70’s. While not the ideal temperature to store wine for aging, for temporary storage it isn't terrible.  It wasn’t until the air conditioner failed us in the blazing Arizona summer, that we realized we had a little more than a few extra’s hanging out in the closet.  WHAT DO WE DO???

Because it was 4th of July, (and a Sunday), we literally took to calling every Air Conditioner repair company from Yelp that had positive reviews in the hope anyone could come and resolve our problem.  At about 9 am, the temperature upstairs (where most of the house is, think loft) reached 80 degrees.  This is when Wino4Life sprung into action to help save the wine!!  

Years ago, Wino4Life had seen camping hacks, and had learned to make a portable air conditioner with a styrofoam ice chest, an electric fan, flexible tubing, and some ice.  With many bottles of our precious wine in peril, he immediately sprung into action!   He made 3 of them, 2 were upstairs trying to cool us down, and one with the wine, with towels in place to keep the cool air in place.    This was working until the temperatures reached 90 degrees.    At that point, we started looking to check into a hotel, not just the temperature, but the fact that our Air Conditioner needed a part from stores that were closed for the holiday, so would not be fixed until Tuesday!  The great folks at Klee’s Climate Control (much shout out to Chuck!!) couldn’t get a part until stores opened up on Tuesday!  

Wino4Life Wife (that's me trying out the whole third person reference thing) suggested we take the wine with us to the hotel.   Well, what sounds great in concept, it was a few cases of wine, let alone transporting wine, in 110+ weather waiting in a car, while we loaded and unloaded to a hotel room.  Not a good idea.    So Wino4Life brought down the other 2 portable A/C’s, to try to keep the temperatures down.   What did this whole setup take?  Well, I don’t wish it for anyone!    Wino4Life was going to the grocery store, buying blocks of ice about every 5 hours, alternating with freezing gallons of water jugs, because that is how long a 10 lb block of ice lasted!   Each cooler took 2 blocks or 2 frozen gallons of water!    

Now if you’re thinking, well, that’s a bit much, what a pain to do this - YES, yes it was.  It was not just a hell of a task, but stressful in thinking that this inventory could go bad.  The alternative was to let the wine raise to “room temperature” which that room did get to the mid 80s (while the upstairs reached and stayed steady at 97).  Wino4Life and Wife could not risk it.  Hence the ORDEAL and pain to rescue this wine!   The highest the temperature got in the closet (he measured it with our thermostat we usually keep outside, he just put it in the closet with the wine) was 77.  Still risky.   Thankfully, Tuesday evening, when the house was still on it’s way to cooling down, Wino4Life needed to be sure - and chilled then opened one of the bottles.   Thankfully, there was no heat damage. 

What we’ve learned with this insane home incident, was to call around locally (Phoenix) for wine storage facilities.  Yes, having your Air Conditioner unit break down in the middle of 110+ daily temperatures is a freak incident, but when and if it does happen - what’s worse - risk losing your inventory or multiple trips to your local store getting ice blocks!!   We chose ice blocks!

Wino4Life Wife... Out!!!