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I'm off for vacation traveling through Europe for the next several months and visiting some wonderful wineries. If you would like to keep up with my travels, I will blogging on: http://www.mypersonaltraveler.com/johnandsandy.

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In case you are wondering, what happened to this month's article? I could say the dog ate it. But, that would be a fabrication. The truth is that I am taking a break from writing this month in order to prepare for my trip to Europe later this summer. No worries though, as I will be blogging on our trip as we visit the vineyards of Italy.

Until next time, Cheers🍷

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Okay, folks. Pay attention! May is buy your Sommelier a drink month! So, every time you see me in May you MUST buy me a drink!

Alright, yes, I just made that up but, it really should be a thing. Don't you agree?

I did an article sometime back in which I mentioned participating in May Day celebrations as a kid. I recall getting out of school early and skipping or running around a maypole chasing the girls. Does anyone still do that?

May Day celebrations predate Christianity; however, as Christianity spread across Europe, it began to loose its pagan religious character. Different cultures may attach their own definition to the day but, May Day is usually celebrated on May 1st by most. Some cultures celebrate it as the day of transition from Spring into Summer. However,...

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No, I'm not talking about libraries serving wine. Although, I suppose if you have your own library and want, you could serve wine. However, that is not what I'm talking about.

When wineries refer to their library wines, they are referring to wines from pervious releases that have been held back and allowed to bottle age in the winery's cellar. Wineries will release those stocks from time to time for sale to their wine club members (see previous article where I describe how wine clubs work) or for direct sales. It's a good way to purchase some of your favorites that have been aged in a proper cellar (see my previous articles on cellaring).

Not all wineries library their wines. Mostly due to limited production or lack of proper storage facilities. But, the ones that do are...

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I bet that got all the vets' attention. It also means that I am looking forward to March. After all, it is the month in which I'll be celebrating our 52nd wedding anniversary with the love of my life. It is also a month of birthday celebrations for some family and friends. If you have something to celebrate in March, then please, allow me to wish you nothing but happiness!

Speaking of happiness, I'm always happy to introduce folks to new wines and make new friends. My philosophy is that we can never have too much wine or too many friends. I hope you agree? I was privileged to make some new friends at the Ajo Restaurant/Bent Oak Winery dinner and wine pairing, which was held on February 7, 2017, at Ajo Restaurant, 121 Main St., Round Rock, Texas.

If you missed the event,...

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A few years back I did an article featuring the Romanic Wines of Italy in celebration of Valentine’s Day. One of the wines I recommended was a Brunello di Montalcino from the producer Marchesi de Frescobaldi. It is still one of my favorites to share with my Valentine and a box of chocolates. And while the Italians may not have invented LOVE, I grew up watching Sophia Loren, so I believe they perfected it. And then there is the language of love sung by the likes of Luciano Pavarotti and Andrea Bocelli. Not to mention the food and wine. AMORE!

As the name implies, the wine comes from the hilltop town of Montalcino in the Tuscany region of Italy. Even through the first mention of Montalcino, a fortress, in historical documents wasn't until 814 AD, it is believed to have been settled...

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Update on the Ajo-Bent Oak wine dinner. The dinner has been rescheduled. It is now set for Tuesday, February 7, 2017. So, call 512-992-2335 and RSVP your place at the table. Don't delay, call today!

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May the new year bring you good health, an abundance of love, prosperity, and new friendships. We had a wonderful time on our November-December cruise sharing experiences with friends and family. There were ten of us traveling together including my wife and myself.

Everyone did their own thing during the day and then we would get together in the evening for cocktails and dinner. We dined in a different restaurant almost every night, but made arrangements to sit together as a group. We had a great time sharing that day's experiences. Lots of laughs and what fun! I encourage you to join us on one of our cruises. Check back regularly and I will let you know what we have planned.

I don't often write about restaurants, but thinking about the new year and new friendships, I have...

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It's true what they say about time flying by as you get older. I can't believe it's Christmas time already. Are you planning a Christmas gathering with family or friends? Need some help choosing a wine to go with your dinner or party? Email me [click here] with your plans and I'll respond with some recommendations.

If you're looking to keep things simple and pick just one wine to go with everything, then here is my recommendation. Last month I recommend a Beaujolais Nouveau to pair with a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Well guess what, it will pair with a traditional Christmas dinner, as well. However, my favorite to serve with Christmas dinner is a nice Burgundy or Pinot Noir.

Pinot Noir pairs well with turkey or ham, as well...

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Yes, it is that time of year. Can you believe it? Thanksgiving is upon us, which means that Christmas isn't far behind. Did I mention that we are leaving for a Caribbean cruise the day after Thanksgiving?

We will be flying to Miami to board the beautiful Norwegian Escape for a 7-day cruise and there are 10 adults and no children in our group. We are going to have so much fun that it would be a shame for you to miss out. Sure you don't want to join us? Just [click here] and I will send you all the particulars and information on the cruise.

Getting back to Thanksgiving, I did an article a few years back describing how nice it was for the French to produce a wine, Beaujolais Nouveau, which is released the third Thursday of November...

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For me, October is one of the best months of the year. When I was a kid, it meant Fall festivals and 🎃 with it's Trick or Treat. Of course, as I grew older, it took on other meanings, as well. My wife and two of my grandsons were born in October giving us lots of reasons to celebrate. And having a little German in me, I can't help but celebrate Oktoberfest.

It also means that a lot of the grape harvest has taken place with the rest happening the first part of this month. Most of grapes have given up their precious juice and the juice now sits in tanks, vats, or barrels fermenting. Oh, the magic of wine making! If you haven't visited a winery in October, you should make plans to do so and take in all the aromas of grape juice turning into wine. Wow!

A few years back I took...

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Last month I touched on how long you can cellar/age wine. This month I'll pass along some tips on the best way to cellar/store and age the wines you've decided are worthy. The same recommendations hold true for wines you intend to consume in the near future. But, before I get into the best practices for storing wine, let's consider how the wine has been handled before it got to us.

Most wineries after bottling package their wines in 12 bottle cases. The cases are then stacked with the bottles standing, hopefully in a cool place in their warehouse prior to distribution. Once the wine is sold to either a consumer (direct sales) or distributor it is picked up by a shipper. Your wine in most cases then travels in the shipper's un-air conditioned truck to their un-air conditioned...

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Can you believe it's August already? Summer is winding down and the kids will be headed back to school soon. Most family vacations will soon be just memories. And I hope that yours are fond memories. I've enjoyed my summer cruising, as I mentioned in my last two articles, as well as spending some time at home enjoying good company and some good wines. I've also spent time planning our next cruise. This time to the Carribean at the end of November. The hot Texas summer will hopefully be a fading memory by then. And who knows, we may even escape a Texas cold front?

We have some friends traveling with us on this next cruise, which always makes for a lot of fun. We will be cruising on the Norwegian Escape, which has The Cellars – A Michael Mondavi Family Wine Bar. I'm thinking that...

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Well, I'm back from Alaska and what a marvelous cruise me and the Mrs had. We spent 14 days aboard the Norwegian Sun cruising the waters of Alaska viewing eagles, whales, otters, seals, and other wildlife; not to mention some of the most magnificent scenery in the world.

If you haven't made a cruise to Alaska, I encourage you to do so. This was our fifth and I'm ready to go again. Oh, and did I mention that while it was in the 90's and 100's here in Texas, it never got above 75 during the whole 14 days?

Hey! Why not join me on my next cruise in November 2016? This time we will be headed to the Caribbean (cold in Texas - warm in Caribbean). Get the picture? Did I mention we can do wine tastings on the cruise? If you're interested, just click...

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If you've been wondering, yes, I'm still enjoying my Alaskan cruise, thank you. I will be back in Texas around the middle of July. Just in time to check in on my friends, John and Audrey Catalano at Bent Oak Winery in Cedar Park, Texas, and see how sales of their new releases are going and to pick up some of their Cabernet Sauvignon, which is being bottled this month. I’ve already added some of their 2015 releases of Chardonnay, Viognier, Sangiovese Rosé, Tempranillo, and Zinfandel to my private stock. If you haven’t tried any of their wines yet, I encourage you to drop by their tasting room (follow the link for times and direction) and get some of your favorites while supplies last. They sold out of the majority of their 2014s and...

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Did someone say, “Go North to Alaska in June”? Oh, now I remember, it was my wife. Yes, we are headed to Alaska via Vancouver, BC at the end of this month. We will be taking a 14-day cruise from Vancouver, BC to Seward, AK and back with stops along the way of course. It’s going to be nice to be able to replace a couple of the hot weeks here in Texas with some cooler Alaskan weather.

Have I mentioned that cruise ships offer an excellent opportunity to explore new wines, as well as new places? Most of the cruise lines offer wine tastings onboard their ships. Although the bar staff on the ships are not as knowledgeable as I am (not their fault, I just have more experience), they still offer the experience of getting familiar with wines you may not have tried before. It is certainly...

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May Party

May is here and it’s time to put on your party hats! The kids will be celebrating graduation with proms and formals, so shouldn’t we adults enjoy a little party time too? Why not host a gathering of friends to celebrate…I don’t know…something!? It really doesn’t have to be a special occasion. If you have a pool, make it a pool party. If you don’t, make it I wish I had a pool party. Who cares? It’s almost summer and it’s time to celebrate life.

Speaking of summer, last month I introduced a light white wine called Sunshine from the Milano Family Winery, which is a very nice summer time wine. I hope you had a chance to try some. If not, do not despair as you still have time to order some before the hot weather sets in here in Texas....

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Spring has sprung here in Central Texas. God blessed us with much needed rain the last few months that not only has brought an end to our drought and filled our lakes (Lake Travis is now 100% full), but coupled with our unseasonably warm weather has brought the colors of life to all of our vegetation as well.

However, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, most of California remains in various degrees of drought. Both Napa and Sonoma counties, California's best known wine regions, are still classified as Abnormally Dry, as well as Mendocino County just to the north of Sonoma County. Many of California's other wine growing regions are still in more extreme conditions. Unless they get relief soon, this year's grape yield may be impacted.

Did you know that each mature grape...

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This month I have two recommendations mainly because I was asked the other day to recommend a "girlie" wine. Yes, I took the time to explain that there really is no such thing as a "girlie" wine since "girls", as well as "boys" like all types of wines. Of course, I then surrendered (a technique I learned growing up in a house where the girls outnumbered the boys) and recommended a "girlie" wine. At least one, I've found that most "girls" I know find very delectable.

The wine I ended up recommending was a Moscato D' Asti named "Dulcis" from San Silvestro, located in the Piedmont area of Italy . The wine is a delightful pale straw yellow color with aromas of spring (floral) and is fairly sweet. Although not as much as champagne, it is effervescent (not a "girlie" thing since beer...

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Everyone has heard the saying, “Give the gift of Life”, referring to giving blood. And I encourage you to support your local blood bank by giving the “Gift of Life”. However, I’m not going to take up the subject in this article. Rather, I would like to discuss giving the “Gift of Love”.

The “Gift of Love” I’m referring to is giving a bottle of your favorite wine. I’ve discussed some of the aspects in previous articles and have held tastings based on the “Love” theme. I can not find another product where the producer puts as much love into growing and producing their product, as winemakers.

Winemakers are an exceptionally proud lot. They are quick to show off their product, as demonstrated by the many different wine contest. And they are quick to show off their wines’ awards...

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Since I am convinced that no one can have too much port, I want to discuss the virtues of investing in vintage ports. The English (mostly the affluent ones) established a custom in the 1700’s of laying up a pipe of port (roughly 48 cases) to be given to each newborn son on reaching majority. Therefore, it would have 20+ years to age and be a start to his own wine collection. Nice custom if you ask me, but too bad for me, I’m not English. The English also established rules and rituals to be followed in the proper partaking of port. For the English, it was much more than merely sipping a drink.

Originating with the British Navy, the custom is for the host or person providing the bottle to fill the glass of the person to his right then pass the port to the person to his left. This...

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Have you ever thought about hosting a private wine tasting for your friends? My business manager keeps on me to publish a checklist for hosting a wine tasting and I keep telling her that it's difficult to do because so much depends on what the host or hostess has in mind. There are so many variables that it is almost impossible to say, “Follow this list and your event will be successful.” My advice is to consult with a Sommelier or other wine professional that can help you plan your event.

However, since I can't ignore my business manager, I offer the following as a simplified guide to planning a wine event:

First and perhaps the most important step is determining your budget. You don't want to plan a dinner party when you only have enough money for a wine and cheese...

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I often encounter people that say, “John, you know…I'm not really a wine drinker”. My answer of course is that you haven't been introduced to the right wine.

To all of my lady friends, please forgive me for what may appear to be a sexist analogy at first, but I'm sure that if you let it settle and give it careful consideration, you will appreciate the following. For all my gentlemen friends, when you finally discover the right wine, it will have the appearance of a super-model, but be full-bodied and well rounded with all of its curves in the right places. It will be full of character with hints of spice and everything nice. The taste will linger like a slow kiss on a warm summer's night and you will want to consume it all.

Let me pause here for a moment before I get in...

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Welcome To My Blog.

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John Loofs, member International Sommelier Guild, has earned both Level I and Level II Certifications. Combine this with his great love of all types of food and wine, and he is the perfect tutor and guide on your journey through the vineyards of the world. Read More

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Need a recommendation?

Check out John's past posts for insights to new wines or contact John and ask for suggestions within your favorite varietal.

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Question: Ever wonder how many grapes it takes to fill a bottle of wine?

Answer: Each bottle of wine contains the juice from 500 to 600 grapes.

Question: How many glasses of wine are typically in a regular size (750ml) wine bottle?

Answer: Typically 5-6. One 750ml bottle is approximately 25 ounces. So, your server can pour 5 x 5oz glasses or 6 x 4oz glasses. The difference going to the host for tasting prior to service.

Question: How many calories are there in a glass of dry wine?

Answer: A 5 ounce glass of dry wine contains between 100 and 125 calories.

Question: How many gallons of wine will one ton of grapes produce?

Answer: One ton of grapes will produce approximately 120 gallons of wine.

Question: How long does it take for a newly planted vine to start producing useful grapes?

Answer: New vines usually take 3 years to produce grapes that are good enough to make into wine. And 5 years to reach full production.

Question: What is the productive lifetime of a grape vine?

Answer: Usually 30 to 35 years and then the yield starts to decrease. Vines may produce quality fruit for a longer period, but at lesser yields.

Check back regularly for more questions and answers. Need an answer to your wine related question? Drop me a note with your question and I'll answer it here in Questions and Answers. And remember, the only silly question is the one never asked.

© 2017 Wine With John