Library Wines

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 worth checking into. Sometimes you can even find some exceptional buys if a winery is trying to make room for a new vintage in their library.

For example, I recently purchased a library wine from one of my favorite wineries. The current release of the wine sells for $40 per bottle and I was purchasing a 10 year old vintage. Now, you would think that the price would be higher since they had been cellaring the wine for 8 years (time spent after bottling). Thankfully, that was not the case, as they were selling the wine by the case (no pun intended) at a discounted price. Plus, I got an additional discount since I was one of their wine club members. I told you it pays to join a wine club.

I won't tell you what I ended up paying because I don't want to make you cry. Okay, go ahead and cry! I paid less than $23 per bottle, which included taxes and shipping. First of all, the wine in my opinion is a great value at $40 a bottle and I often compare it to French Burgundies costing $70 or more. So, you can see why I was excited to find such a bargain!

It also pays to do your homework before you go shopping for wine. If my wife and I get separated while shopping, she knows where to look for me, as I'll be in the wine department comparing prices. I've proven time and again you don't have to pay a lot to purchase a high quality wine, as most of you, who have attended one of my events can attest.

Remember, cost is not necessarily indicative of the quality. Market forces are the primary dictates to cost. Just like many other commodities, limited production and high demand for the product are the two most common factors when setting price. I proffer this analogy: you can pay $80 for a Ralph Lauren Polo shirt and if you're lucky, you might find it on sale for $60, or you can shop and find the same quality shirt by a different designer for $20. Either way, you end up with the same quality of shirt (now days, both usually made in China or Bangladesh anyway).

The same is true of wine. The most expensive wines are those usually from producers, who have limited production, either by design or limited acreage, and demand for their wine is high. Not that I'm against paying a high price for an exceptional wine if you can afford it, but if you can't, why not shop around for a quality wine in your price range? If you're having a problem with finding some or just want some suggestions, drop me a note [click here] and I'll pass along my advice.

This month's recommendation is one that I consider an exceptionally good buy. While it may not be quite the quality of a Château Lafite Rothschild (which by the way, you can purchase pre-sale futures for their 2015 release for a mere $579.99 a bottle), I found a quality Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon from Rodney Strong Vineyards, which normally retails for $15-20 a bottle, at H-E-B in Round Rock on sale for $9.69 a bottle. Of course, I bought 6 bottles, which gave me another 10% off and brought the costs down to $8.72 per bottle pre-tax. And yes, I went back and bought 6 more bottles.

If you're shopping for a special limited production wine, then expect to pay more, but if you just want a good quality wine don't discount those with a lower price point. Spend some time doing your homework and you might just come across an exceptional buy on a current or library release.

Until next time, Cheers🍷


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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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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.

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