Thursday, June 26, 2014

Summer Wines

Before I was a financial advisor, I was in the wine business. For over a decade I worked in retail, wholesale distribution, and importing. I was in my late twenties / early thirties, and the wine business in the United States was about to explode. It was an exciting time, and I had a chance to meet many of the major icons of the wine industry—Robert Mondavi, the Gallo brothers, and members of the Antinori family.

After college and before moving back to New York City, I worked for a chain of wine stores in the metro Detroit area called the Merchant of Vino. The owner of the chain was a man named Eddie Jonna. I think he is the greatest retailer I’ve ever met. He and his sons were very generous and never hesitated to crack open a good bottle of wine to try. To this day, when people ask me, “How do I learn about wine?” I say, “Drink it.”

While I no longer read Robert Parker’s newsletter and I let my subscription to the Wine Spectator expire, I still enjoy drinking a glass or two of wine every evening with dinner. My friends still consult with me before buying a nice bottle for a gift or text me when confused by a restaurant’s wine list.

My feeling about wine is similar to my views on investing, keep it simple. Don’t get caught up in and confused by the media. Drink what you like and understand. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to find a great bottle of wine.

As we head into the Fourth of July weekend and the summer gets into full swing, I thought I would share some of my summer selections with you.

It’s summer, and that means it’s time for rosé from the south of France. I am really enjoying Miraval rosé from Provence. This is the winery that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie own along with the Perrin family. The Perrins are famous winemakers from the Rhône and own the famous Château Beaucastel in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Miraval is light and perfect for those steamy, muggy nights. Another rosé that I have been quaffing is Peyrassol rosé, also from the Côtes de Provence. This wine is fuller bodied than Miraval and has a bit more fruit to it. This wine can easily accompany anything you may be grilling up. The last rosé that I’ll recommend is a wildcard from South Africa, Mulderbosch rosé. This one has a lot of fruit but is still fairly dry. Don’t be put off by the first whiff—it smells like fresh strawberries.

If I am not drinking rosé in the summer, I’m drinking pinot blanc from Alsace. Pinot blanc is grown all over the globe and goes by other names in different parts of the world. Pinot blanc is probably best know as one of the main grapes used in the blending of champagne. I love pinot blanc because it’s dry and has just enough fruit to make it interesting. It doesn’t overpower you like chardonnay. Truth be told, the wines of Alsace are my favorite white wines on the planet. Boom, that’s right Burgundy! Last night I drank an incredible 2010 pinot blanc from Schoffit. It was rich and gooey like honey. I drank it with a steak, and it held its own.

I recently was turned on to an interesting wine called Shebang! It comes from a small California winery that produces a sauvignon blanc, a white cuvée, and a red cuvée. A cuvée is a blended wine made from several varietals. The price point is perfect at about $12 a bottle, and it comes with a screw cap. There is nothing pretentious about Shebang! These wines are fun and easy to chug. A friend of mine calls the red his “pizza wine.”

A little bit pricier, at about $18 a bottle, is a great Oregon pinot noir from Montinore Estate. Forgive me for the wine-speak, but this is a smoky, dark, and full-bodied pinot noir. It is perfect with a steak, lamb, and even a hamburger. I may be late to the party with this wine—a few months ago the New York Times rated it one its best summer wines under $20. If you can still find it, stock up.

There’s my list, short and sweet. I hope you have a chance to drink some of these wines over the next few months. Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Let's Do This

I like the Home Depot commercial that shows people getting fired up to start a home improvement project. The tagline is, ”Let’s do this.” That how I feel, let’s do this—let’s get our summer going. Let’s pick some projects we want to get done this summer. Let’s roll up our sleeves and let our hair down.

It’s summer, and hopefully your pace at work slows down, the kids are out of school, and generally you have more “time” on your hands. “Time,” that’s a concept, a concept you need to make more of.

So, what do I want to accomplish this summer? Here is my list:

1.       Learn to fish. We have a weekend place on a small lake in upstate New York. I see people out in their rowboats and along the shore casting their poles in and out of the water. It looks so relaxing and peaceful. 

2.       Improve my paella cooking skills. Paella seems like one of those dishes you can prepare so many different ways and you would never get tired of it. Along those lines, I’d like to learn more about and drink more Spanish wine. Of all of the great “Old World” wine regions, I know very little of the wines of Spain.

3.       Organize my papers. I am not as organized as you think. I keep things tidy, but that often means jamming papers into folders and promising myself I’ll file them. Those folders are getting full, and it’s time to either file or toss them.  I also want to implement my use of Evernote. Evernote is a Cloud-based storage system that allows you to file, photograph, and categorize everything into different notebooks. Imagine having all your car repair bills in one place! Evernote is free, and you can use it from your computer, tablet, or smartphone.

4.       Consolidate my credit cards. I wrote earlier about the changing landscape of accumulating reward points. I see no reason not to consolidate everything, with one card earning all of the rewards.

5.       Use my iPad more. The iPad must have so many more uses than watching Netflix or reading a book. I want to learn how to make presentations and connect to a large television monitor for client reviews.

There is my list, what’s yours? Let’s do this.