I’ve been quiet lately. Not because of a lack of something to say, but I’ve been so busy with my new(ish) work project that it has taken all my free time. More on that soon as we set to officially open the doors and introduce an awesome new wine tasting space in Santa Rosa.

The last few days have been full of culinary and wine (and other adult beverages) overload. It’s exactly what the holidays are for. We had some good wine, most of which we have had tastes of before. We also had a new cocktail made from Champagne, Gran Marnier, cranberry and lime – basically a Cosmopolitan with Champagne. Very tasty.

But my big surprise was this….







What is it you say? I’m not really sure. That’s the beauty of a shiner (a bottle with no labels). There’s no knowing for sure.

Now, this bottle actually came from my neighbor so I know what it is. Or at least I think I do. He told me that it’s a port that his dad has been making since 2006. This is the 2009 vintage. What I don’t know is what grape varietal it’s made from or what was used to fortify it. I also have no idea what the alcohol level is or the residual sugar.

Here’s the deal: None of those things matter. Why? Well, for one it was a gift. And I’ll always enjoy a gift of wine. But secondly, it tastes great. It has everything I look for in a port. Dark fruits, some chocolate, cooking spices and a little sting when it hits the mouth then nearly everlasting flavor. I can taste this wine for minutes and minutes after I took the last sip.

One of the other things I love about port-style wines is that this little half bottle will last me about a week. Just a couple of ounces every night and I get to enjoy it over and over again. Because it is fortified (likely with brandy) it doesn’t go bad quickly like regular still wine. The alcohol that fortified it also acts as an agent to combat oxygen allowing the bottle to be open for several weeks – although mine will never last that long!

Shiners are fairly common when working in the wine industry, but most consumers never really see them. Mostly because you can’t sell a bottle of wine without a label. But many winemakers will keep cases of shiners for personal consumption. I hope to have my own shiners sometime in the future as well. But that’s another post.




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