Enjoying Life One Glass at a Time

February 2015 Wine Club

Welcome to our first meeting of 2014! Though we don't keep official counts, I think the February meeting had the highest attendance yet with almost 80 wine lovers sipping. Thanks to all for making the club a success.

A bit of a long write-up follows, but much of it is the quiz and answers so stay with us.

The Second (Almost) Annual Sun City Anthem at Merrill Ranch Wine Shuffle

February brought our snowbirds back in full force and with them came our Almost Annual Shuffle in which participants wandered about drinking unknown wines and answering strange questions about our favorite libation.

In deciding our winning tables, we gave 3 points for every correct trivia question and 5 points for correct wine identification (2 points if you were correct with your second guess). This was no easy test of your wine knowledge. Not only were some of the trivia questions VERY obscure, but we purposefully chose the 3 red wines (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah) we felt were easiest to confuse.

The trivia questions are reproduced below with correct answers in

Trivia Questions for the 2nd Almost Annual
Merrill Ranch Wine Shuffle

1. What is the name of the large format that will hold 20 standard (750ml) bottles for wine?

a. Jeroboam
b. Methuselah
c. Nebuchadnezzar
d. Rehoboam

2. What kind of wine is traditionally made from the pinot noir grape?

a. Beaujolais
b. Burgundy
c. Bordeaux
d. Umpqua

3. When at a restaurant and a small amount of wine is poured to taste, the purpose here is to

a. see if you like the wine
b. make sure it is the wine you thought it was
c. make sure the wine is not spoiled
d. to find out if it needs to be decanted

4. What is the dominant grape in Chianti wine?

a. dolcetto
b. sangiovese
c. zinfandel
d. nebiolo

5. Reducing the grape crop yield usually does what for the resulting wines?

a. lowers the alcohol level
b. intensifies the flavor
c. dilutes the fruit qualities
d. can disguise the characteristics of the grape type

6. By law the word “Reserve” may only be placed on which US made wines?

a. Rare vintages available only to select clients
b. Wines aged at least 10 years before being
c. released to the market
d. Wines from designated vineyards
e. Any wine

7. How long does it take before a grapevine will bear fruit suitable for winemaking?

a. about 6 months to a year
b. about 3 – 5 years
c. about 10 years
d. about 20 – 30 years

8. The Napa Valley Appellation accounts for what percentage of all Californian wine?

a. Approximately 52%
b. Approximately 37%
c. Approximately 15%
d. Approximately 4%

9. What is the most planted red wine grape in Alsace?

a. pinot noir
b. gamay
c. cabernet franc
d. blaufrankisch

10. I’m drinking Nerello Mascalese. Where is it likely to come from?

a. Piedmont
b. Lombardy
c. Sicily
d. Le Marche

11. What is the difference between looking at a French wine and an American in terms of how it is labeled?

a. French wine is labeled in ml and American in ounces.
b. Only American wine is marked with the alcohol content.
c. American wine must have the dominant grape on the label.
d. French wine is labeled by where it is made.

12. If champagne is sweet, it is because

a. the wine is not allowed to complete fermentation.
b. very ripe grapes are used.
c. sugar is added after fermentation is complete.
d. a sweeter grape variety is used.

Of all the questions, to me it was surprising that NONE of our tables knew that only about 4% of California wines are from Napa Valley. When next you pop the cork on one of these, you’ll know why they can charge a premium.

We also threw in some stinkers. Who would know where Nerello Mascalese comes from. And just who would care?

The wine identification was equally tough:
Wine #1—Merlot
Wine #2—Syrah
Wine #3—Cabernet Sauvignon
Wine #4—Chardonnay
Wine #5—Sauvignon Blanc

We ensured the wines were all at least 75% (California Law) of the grape variety, so even though the Shotfire Ridge was listed as Cabernet-Shiraz it contained 76% Cabernet Sauvignon and could legally be branded as such in California. The Sauvignon Blanc also caused some head scratching as it was listed as Fume Blanc. That name came about back in 1968 when Robert Mondavi renamed his Sauvignon Blanc as Fume Blanc, hoping that potential Sauvignon Blanc buyers would get the hint that they were drinking wine made from the same grape as the Pouily Fume from France. There is absolutely no difference between Sauvignon Blanc and Fume Blanc.

Well, that’s all there is to the 2015 (Almost) Annual Merrill Ranch Wine Shuffle. Except, of course, the pictures of you who make the club special (thanks for the pics, Pat).

And the Winners Are…


And Our People, Wines and Food…




So Until Next Time…

Endless Pour

May Your Glass Always Be Full!