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Wine For Everyone filter by author: john


WINE PARAPHERNALIA THAT MAKES US UNCOMFORTABLE AND/OR SCARED

April 20, 2010 at 12:10 am by john

Welcome to the 7th installment of "WINE PARAPHERNALIA THAT MAKES US UNCOMFORTABLE AND/OR SCARED" (or W.P.T.M.U.U.A.O.S. for short)

Oh, we need wine for dinner....whatever will we do?  Wait a minute...what are you standing on?  Oh yeah, it's my James-Bond-Villain-Wine-Cellar-Lair I forgot I had because I'm so rich I can afford to forget things like where my wine cellar is and where I'm going to hide your body after I kill you.  Did I say that outloud? 

Anyway, this is great design but sheesh, really?  How many drunk dinner guests have gone head-first down this Hitchcock Movie about alcoholics?  But I'm guessing if you can afford this, you can afford a miniature man-servant who lives at the bottom if your wine cellar and gets your wine for you.  I'm 5'11" when I slouch.  I enjoy cots and canned food and answer to Reginald, Doyle, or "Yoo Hoo, Little Wine Boooy!"






WINE PARAPHERNALIA THAT MAKES US UNCOMFORTABLE AND/OR SCARED

January 8, 2010 at 12:10 am by john

Welcome to the 4th intallment of "WINE PARAPHERNALIA THAT MAKES US UNCOMFORTABLE AND/OR SCARED" (or W.P.T.M.U.U.A.O.S. for short)

 

 

Wow, seriously?  Is this so you can drink while using your chainsaw? What on earth do you need both hands free for when drinking?  The Electric Slide is going to get REALLY REALLY messy at cousin Sharon's wedding.  This is only acceptable if off screen he's holding two other glasses of wine in his hands.

   I'm guessing this is some middle-management multitasker's bid to really press the flesh (grchk...i just threw up in my mouth) at those conferences that I'm so, so, so, so happy I don't have to go to anymore. 

 

I doth protest too much....yes, I want one.






Can't Take Credit for That

October 21, 2009 at 12:10 am by john

Can't Take Credit For That

For the last six months, we've heard some pretty horrible stories about credit card rate hikes, abrupt cancellations, and conversations bordering on abuse from credit card phone operators.  Just recently a friend of ours had their rate hiked to 29.99% after spending and fully paying off $1500 in two months on travel.  When they called the bank (rhymes with "shittybank") they said, and I quote, "we no longer want you as a customer".  Be a lot more helpful if they would tell us that up front rather than sending tiny little pamphlets with even tinier print saying "dear customer, we'd like to kill your pet dog or kick your grandmother down the stairs but since that's trespassing, we're just going to double your interest rate and if you don't opt out via carrier pidgeon TOMORROW there's nothing you can do about it."

So we had this idea...we have many thousands of you here on our email list and we want to know what's going on with your credit cards during this very difficult year.  Go to our blog HERE and comment, and we'll compile all the stories and send them on to our Congressman.  You can use your name or post anonymously...entirely up to you.






Separation of "Church and State" and Other Restaurants

October 1, 2009 at 12:10 am by john

     In a year where most if not all of us are pinching pennies and being very careful where we spend each dollar, we found it worthwhile to mention an experience we had last night.  For a birthday dinner, we decided to go to Church & State downtown in the Biscuit Company Lofts building.  First, the bad - we called twice in the days leading up to our dinner and never got a response on our reservation request.  But that's where the 'bad' ended. 

     From the second we entered the front door to the moment we put on our jackets to leave, every employee in there was fantastic.  The host apologized for the wait, the waiter took tons of time to discuss the menu, the food was fantastic, but it was their sommelier, Josh Goldman, who really stole the show.  After ordering a Cru Beajolais to go with my pork belly (not my gut, the dish) he brought over a Belgian Blonde ale, plopped it down and said, "that wine will work great, but nothing goes with pork like a beer".  The crisp bubbles cut right through the intense fat of the pork belly and raised the whole dish to a new level.  On the way out, the waiter and the sommelier thanked us and asked us to come back soon. 

     And that's all you really want from a nice restaurant when you spend a little more than usual....a pleasant experience, a kind and knowledgeable staff, and tastes that you remember the next morning.  It's amazing how hard it is to find that combination.  So, hats off Church & State.  Thanks for a great night out.






The Trickle Down Theory

September 16, 2009 at 12:10 am by john

     Recently, we flew back east to see the family on Virgin America (yes, Virgin, free advertising...in return we accept free tickets, upgrades, and pretty, shiny objects) and learned something we never knew before regarding flying with wine.  A flight attendant asked what was in our rather large shipper box and we told them "lots of wine" because the closest wine store to where we were headed was about fifty miles away.  Now we always thought that the danger of putting wine in a wool sock in your suitcase was that it could easily break and you lose the wine and ruin your belongings all at once.  Nope, that's the least of your worries.  Suitcases are often stacked so if yours is on top and the wine leaks through onto all the other bags, they will actually trace it all back to your suitcase and make you pay for everyone's belongings.  She mentioned it happens fairly often and the bill can be in the thousands. 

     So, to all those customers who asked about flying with wine - we were TOTALLY kidding when we said just wrap it up in some underwear.  Get it?  Great joke.  Totally, totally, kidding.






The Wine Rebellion

August 5, 2009 at 12:10 am by john

Folks, 215 years ago this Friday (08/07/09), a bunch of farmers in Pennsylvania didn't like the idea of higher taxes on their booze, so they united and revolted against their government in the Whiskey Rebellion.  We here in California are about to experience another alcohol tax to help with the budget shortfall (understatement of the year).  Quick soapbox moment...you're not just taxing drinks that come from a drink fairy in the sky, you're taxing small businessess like ours and the loyal customers they serve.  Bailouts for big companies and a kick in the ass for the enterpeneurs yet again.  It's really too easy to demonize the word "alcohol" in our country.  Tax that bad stuff that people can get drunk from!!!  So what to do?  Legalize controlled marijuana and experts say California alone will have over a billion dollars in taxes in the first year alone.   There, done.  Now let's have a responsible glass of wine or two and deal with some REAL issues.  Like instituting a Mime Tax but they have to pay in REAL money, not monetary gestures.  Or that "Sewer Gnome" issue.

 






The 3/50 Project

May 26, 2009 at 12:10 am by john

     We hope many of you have seen this logo below either in our store, on someone's facebook post or elsewhere, but if you haven't, please read on.  In March of 2009, Cinda Baxter proposed a very simple challenge on her blog, spend a total of $50 at your favorite three local independent establishments each month (read: no chain stores).  Not $50 each, just spend $50 total each month and maybe we can all preserve what makes the main streets in our communities unique. 

     And we know every single day that all of you are the reason for our 4 1/2 years in business.  Many of you come in asking gently, 'So, how's it going for you guys?'.   And thankfully we can still answer...'you know, not too bad.'  So for that - we thank you.  But many other businesses are not so lucky, and that affects all of us.     

     We all hear our local and national politicians on the campaign trail talking about how this country is built on the backs of entrepeneurs and how the vast majority of jobs are created by small businesses just like ours.  Well, the love from the powers that be isn't exactly coming through these days.  At the risk of boring you, let us just state a few ways small businesses were honored this year in California during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression:

1.  If you're an LLC, for the first time ever in 2009 you have to pay your multi-thousand dollar LLC fee (a yearly fee you pay just to exist as a limited liability company in CA) twice within two months.  By paying for 2010 in advance, California gets more money upfront and the independent business is left to scramble to make up for that outlay of cash.

2.  If you prepay your income tax as most small businesses do, for the first time ever in 2009 you have to pay 10% more in the first half of the year (instead of equal payments all year long) so that the city can get more cash earlier in the year - again, the independent business is watching that cash flow get stretched further and further.

3. Metered parking in Eagle Rock and throughout LA was doubled (sometimes more) and specifically in Eagle Rock, the hours were increased from 6pm to 8pm, cutting into the prime shopping hours the businesses need to succeed.

     While these difficulties are minor compared to what many California families have had to endure-- losing jobs and homes and cars--hey all add up to a crisis that goes further than foreclosure signs in lawns.  Those of you who are able to tough it out are going to see your neighborhood mom-and-pop businesses continue to falter, which will affect your home values, but more importantly, it will affect the character of your neighborhood.  So, join the many people who are already taking it upon themselves to save their favorite local businesses.  Skip the Targets, Wal-Marts, and Barnes and Nobles of the world and make that often annoying 2nd stop on the way home to support your independent retailer. 

 

If you agree with the above proposal, send a link to this page around, or better yet, join the 3/50 project by going HERE

    

    

    






BYOW

April 14, 2009 at 12:10 am by john

    

     There was an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal last week about a restaurant in New York that is not just waiving corkage on Sundays to encourage customers to bring their own wine, they're celebrating the idea by discussing each wine with the customer and giving them a corkscrew to keep. On the opposite end of the spectrum, we recently had dinner in Carmel at a restaurant that charged us $45/btl corkage. They had a nice view but....$45? Ouch.

     In a year where restaurants are dropping like flies, we wonder what you're experiencing with your favorite restaurants. Is the economic pinch pushing customer service back to the forefront where it belongs?






Chateau Crusty

March 19, 2009 at 12:10 am by john

 

     One of the better and most established wine blogs out there (est. 1994) is the one written by Alder Yarrow who posted a pretty amazing report a few days ago you probably haven't heard about.  Now, growing up with a box of wine in the fridge labelled "Chablis", I always assumed that it was just another kind of wine or "Daddy's Happy Juice."  But later in life when I began to appreciate wine, I began to understand why the French were really pissed off that we threw around their centuries old hallowed parcels of land as mere marketing terms for sugary wine (fyi - we're slowly but surely pulling my Dad away from the dark side).   Grand Cru Chablis is about as good as white wine can get on our lovely earth and there it is printed on a box just to sound French.  Add to this the fact that our wine industry also stole "Champagne" and "Burgundy" and it definitely adds up to something pretty egregious.  But as of last week, Europe seems to be fighting back.   If the following terms are on a wine label, that wine can not legally be imported or sold in Europe any longer:

chateau

classic

clos

cream

crusted/crusting

fine

late bottled vintage

noble

ruby

superior

sur lie

tawny

vintage

vintage character

 

Now let's list the wineries this will effect just by winery name:

Chateau Montelena

Chateau St. Jean

Chateau Souverein

Chateau Sinnet

Chateau Potelle

Clos Pegase

Clos du Bois

Clos du Val

Clos LaChance

Clos Pepe

 

     Perhaps this is a hangover from the "Freedom Fries" days in '02  or as Alder suggests,  "a bit of sneaky revenge against Chateau Montelena thirty years after the fact".  Many of these terms should be protected but "Chateau"?  Chateau means "estate".  Are Mexico and Spain going to ban "Casa"?   "Vintage"???   This all just really sucks because we were about to bottle and export our first wine called "Chateau Crusty - A Classic Ruby Vintage Superior to Cream"  Guess that one is going down the drain.  Bummer. 




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When the Next Wave Wipes Out

March 4, 2009 at 12:10 am by john

     So this is recession related and Eagle Rock related, but only tangentially wine related.  In case you missed it, the NYTimes did a piece last week on the struggling businesses in Eagle Rock and it has caused quite a ruckus amongst Eagle Rock natives and newbies alike.  The writer and everyone interviewed for this article are either customers, friends or both, and Jennifer and I were both interviewed a handful of times, but were ultimately edited out of the final piece. 

     While there are very respectable arguments for and against the opinions in this piece, there is no doubt that it struck a cord.  I'll just throw one opinion into the mix on the whole idea of gentrification/de-gentrification/ hipsterville/ the next silverlake this-and-that.... As much as any neighborhood in Los Angeles, the Eagle Rock commercial corridor is full of first-time entrepeneurs making a very conscious decision to bet their dreams and livelihoods on this neighborhood -- it's diverse, it's open, it's wacky as all hell (that's a good thing) and it's a great place to raise a family.  If the idea were to make a quick buck, all these businesses would have sprung up elsewhere in LA.  Eagle Rock is not going to be the next anything, it's Eagle Rock and that's a unique and wonderful thing in a city where neighborhoods are becoming bland cubby holes for big chain stores.  And to those that are wishing for the 'new' businesses of Eagle Rock to go out of business or go away?  Sorry, Charlie....aint gonna happen. 






Your Wine and Beer Selection Sucks

January 29, 2009 at 12:10 am by john

     Ever wonder why most beer and wine selections at bars or restaurants really suck?  There are many answers to that, but there is one specific reason that you may not know if you've never worked in the food and beverage business.  It's rigged...it's crooked....it's a sham...you're getting hoodwinked...beguiled...ripped off... schnookered....bamboozled... hopplecapped....ok, I made up that last one.

     Here's the thing, there are a few (but primarily one) big alcohol distribution companies that handle most of the wine/beer/liquor in any given state or territory.  A typical visit from one of these companies to your bar might go like this:

 

BAR: Hi, I've just spent my life savings and worked my ass off to open this bar.... I'd like to taste some wine and beer with you, choose what I like the best, then bestow on you the honor of featuring the best of the best in my bar

 

THEM:  Shutup.  The only way we'll sell you these three liquors that you have to have in any bar to survive, is when you devote 4 of your 6 taps to our beers (no matter how mediocre) and all of your wine lineup.

 

     Nice, huh?  The only other version is when they punch you in the face and steal your wallet when you're done with that conversation.  Seriously, there's no other possible variation to that exchange.

     This is why you see the same wines over and over and over again as 'glass pours' in these establishments.  It's easier...it's cheaper...it's less stressful really if your pride hasn't been destroyed.  So, let me issue a call to arms for all you barflies and foodies...cheer on those establishments that buck this trend!  They work hard to keep in the obscure stuff, the stuff from the little guy that eventually expands your palate and brings you back to that stool.  Especially in an economy like this when the big players are offering deals that are structured to drown the little guy out of business, it's more important than ever to save money, but also to spend those precious few bucks wisely. 






Debatable

September 24, 2008 at 12:10 am by john

Debatable

Well, the first presidential debate is airing this Friday evening and it is probably going to be the most watched debate in political history.  Now, we hate to dissuade anyone from coming to our Friday tasting so use your tivos wisely and join us for some pre-debate political pontification.  But when you do sit down to watch the debate, let us offer some drinking....ahh...tasting advice.   

 

Are you a McCain fan?  Well you may want to go with our Orcella Orsus Garnacha 2001 or Copertino Riserva 2001, both those wines have quite a bit of age on them.  They've been around the block...straight shooters...and unlike McCain, have not spent any time in the direct sun.

 

Now for the Obama-Rama crowd, based on the reports we've seen, it seems you'll need something that pairs with arugula.  Perhaps our Auratus Portuguese white, a crisp, dry wine that would work with any rightwing-perceived-sissy-greens.  Or if CHANGE is what you desire, go for something different...maybe our Bordelet Dry Apple Cider from France or the Black Chook Sparkling Shiraz from Australia.  Speaking of change...

 

Should you need more incentive to watch the debates (though that is bordering on a crime)...here's an idea to keep your head in the game....

drink/sip everytime McCain smiles innapropriately

drink/sip everytime Obama says "silly season"

drink/sip everytime McCain says "my friends"

drink/sip everytime anyone says CHANGE (even Jim Lehrer)

 

Comment below if you feel you have genius Presidential pairings inside of you, just dying to spring forth...






The Great Chalkboard War of 2008

August 26, 2008 at 12:10 am by john

  

     Everyone remembers where they were when the Great Chalkboard War of 2008 broke out....or least we do.  I was sitting at the front desk when I turned to Jen and said, "I think some guy just very methodically moved our sidewalk chalkboard sign two inches to the right."  What started as a curiosity became a small town battle in sunny, strange Eagle Rock. 

     Now, before continuing, some of you may be wondering what this has to do with wine.  Well, it has to do with mom and pop businesses, Los Angeles neighborhoods, and the relationship between the two staying healthy (and yes, it's a short week and September is a notoriously slow month so...humor us).  And we were recently reminded of how fragile this relationship can be with the unfortunate demise of Doughboys on 3rd street in Hollywood.  

 

     So, back to the war, we would keep our dinky little chalkboard sign on our half of the sidewalk which is approximately 13 feet wide.  Well, what began as a surgically precise shift of our sidwalk advertising became a grumble and a swift kick which ultimately left our advertising flat on the ground or facing the store instead of the street every day.  Polite confrontations posing questions like "excuse me, sir, why do you do that" and "are you angry at wine?" became pretty heated with quotes like "all you people are only in it for the money!" and "why should I have to walk on the side of the sidewalk! I want to walk down the middle and it's a free country!"  In it for the money?  Clearly he's never been in retail. 

     To be fair, though you see these types of signs up and down every retail corridor in our city, they are illegal.  And soon enough, after a few more run-ins with our friendly neighborhood sign abuser, we received a notice from the city forcing us to remove it from the public sidewalk.  And when an employee accidentally put the sign out the following week, our landlords were summoned to appear before the city downtown!  Ultimately, we settled with the city over the phone and all was forgiven provided we never EVER spit in the face of justice again by putting out our little chalkboard trying to make our business a little more noticeable. 

     This is a tough year on almost everyone and small businesses need to do whatever they can to get you to stop in.  But there is always this push and pull between residents who want services and restaurants nearby their homes, but don't want to deal with the decreased parking and increased noise associated with these businesses.  So how can you be heard?  Please, oh please, join a neighborhood community group.  These issues are on-going and need to be discussed frequently in order to keep people happy in their homes and businesses able to bring in enough money to survive.

     We're fairly sure many of you won't entirely agree with us and will agree more with the man whom we dubbed "Mr. Very Angry Irish Man", which is why we have the handy comment section below.  Please let us know! 






Hometown Pairings - Round 2

August 14, 2008 at 12:10 am by john

Hometown Pairings - Round 2

     Continuing with our Hometown Pairing series, we next move to Dave's Chillin' and Grillin' , one of those places that makes Eagle Rock a unique, neighborhoody place in the middle of a big city.  In addition to providing great service and delicious sandwiches, Dave can (and will) provide you with the most detailed description of every ingredient of his sandwiches from the exact fat content to the mood the driver was in when he delivered that crate of pork sausages last Tuesday.  It's truly remarkable.  So.....let's get to why we're really here....what to eat and what to drink with it....

     Every Friday and Saturday, Dave and his staff run a deal on their mouth-watering meatball and sausage hoagie.  The sandwich comes dressed up with melted provolone, grilled onions, grated cheese and this great spicy/tangy pepper spread (you would be very, very, very silly not to get the pepper spread) for $6.  After selflessly tasting a dozen different wines with the meatball/sausage wonder, we settled on the 2007 Mas Malbec from Mendoza Argentina for $11.99/btl.  The vanilla, plum, tobacco and smokey notes from the malbec pair perfectly with the sweet from the meatballs and sauce and the spice of the sausage and pepper spread.  Let me see if I can tell this story in pictures...

 

  

     

 

 






Good Vibrations

July 30, 2008 at 12:10 am by john

Good Vibrations

     There is very little proof of what specific damage vino sustains from a little shaking, but many believe the sediment gets disturbed and interrupts the wine's "sleep", thus prematurely aging the wine before its time. Collectors have gone so far as constructing wine cellars out of rubber and even floating a thousand-bottle collection on a spring-loaded floor. It's that pesky 'gravity' thing....which willl be sooo much easier when we live on Mars. With old bubblies however, there is the very real concern that the pressurized contents inside could out-muscle an aging cork with too much jostling.  And in the canon of 'depressing things that can happen with booze', seeing a fine bubbly spilled all over the floor must be as depressing as it gets.

     So, to sum up, unless you're a high-end collector with a vintage collection, and you haven't kept your wine on top-brown in the toaster oven, your collection has more than likely not jumped the shark just yet.  It's easy to get too caught up in the pomp and circumstance surrounding wine and forget to just enjoy a good wine/food pairing with friends. Yes, that sounds like an afterschool special but we believe it completely nonetheless.






Hometown Pairings - Issue #1

July 16, 2008 at 12:10 am by john

Hometown Pairing

     We're going to start a series of hometown wine pairings every once in awhile here in the newsletter. For us, hometown means our very own Eagle Rock. For those customers outside of Eagle Rock, hopefully this will encourage you to try some of our fine dining establishments if you haven't already. For those locals out there...you've probably had the food, but try the wine pairing. Trust us...it's damn good.

     First we're going to begin with Oinkster. Chef Andre Guerrero branched out in Eagle Rock as his third venture, after MAX and SENOR FRED in Sherman Oaks. The idea was to do gourmet fast food, keep the menu small, provide a cool outdoor space, and watch the crowds roll in. Well after dozens of shining reviews including comments from Jonathan Gold suggesting they had some of the best roasted chicken and fries in Southern California, they're doing rather well. But, I digress. I'm here to talk about pastrami. House cured pastrami, to be exact. Oinkster cures their pastrami for two weeks, rubs it with a special spice blend and smokes it with applewood. It's messy, it's complex, it's fantastic. So how to make it better? Wine, of course.

      Our suggestion is the Owen Roe Ex Umbris Syrah 2006, Columbia, Washington ($23.99/btl).  We love virtually everything that Owen Roe bottles, but this one specifically is a dead ringer for the Oinkster pastrami.  There's enough fruit to balance out the spice in the pastrami, but also enough spice and smoke to compliment to the toastiness of the applewood.  We stumbled upon this pairing a few months ago when Jennifer and I were exhausted from a long baby week (parents...you get it) and we happened to have the Ex Umbris open at the bar when we grabbed Oinkster take-out.  It's as if the pastrami and syrah saw each other across a crowded room and walked in slow motion to each other's arms.  It was that dramatic.  Seriously.  We were crying while eating just thinking about it.  That could have been exhaustion, but we choose to think it was the love affair between our wine and food. 

     Try it.  You'll agree.  Also, have other perfect pairings with restaurant items in your 'hood?  Comment below.

     






I'm So Hangry I Might Hit You and Have a Blintz

June 19, 2008 at 12:10 am by john

I'm So Hangry I Might Hit You And Have a Blintz

 

 

     A good friend of ours coined the term "hangry", referring to that point when you're so hungry it's just making you angry.  Well, when you work at a retail counter and/or bar for as many hours as we do each week, you start to see how the weather affects people en masse.  So that leads me to another definition of hangry -- when you're so HOT you're about ready to punch a kitten and crawl in your crisper for a nap.  And that long, long lead-up gets us to wine and heat.

     We get this question all the time -- what do I do with my wine if I have no A/C at my house?  This is pretty important because here in Eagle Rock, it's supposed to hit 104 degrees tomorrow and heat and oxygen are the mortal enemies of any wine.  First of all, don't throw the wine in your trunk where there is definitely no A/C and run errands for two hours.  At your home or apartment, by far the best thing to have is a wine fridge.  With wine becoming more and more popular over the last few years, there are many options at many price levels from counter-top units around $70 to ridiculous monstrosities for the price of a nice house. 

     If you have no A/C at home and no wine fridge, the common practice is to pick the coolest place in your house to store wine which can be the floor of your closet.  It's probably the coolest place in the house with no direct sunlight.  But when the weather is in triple digits for more than a couple days, this won't cut it.  So just put the wine in your normal refrigerator.  Unless you need long-term storage for a vintage, fragile wine, a normal fridge is just fine.  And yes, you'll read articles about the vibrations of the compressor damaging the wine but really, from that $8 sauv blanc to the $50 '06 California pinot, you have nothing to worry about unless you're going to stick it in there for years and years on end.  Just remember to let both whites and reds warm up to a proper temperature before drinking.  Or, if you're soooooo hot you're dying of thirst and need wine immediately (or Thangry), just tip that cold bottle up.  No one's going to tattle.

     Have other inventive creations to cool your wine?  Leave a comment or vote on our homepage poll.






Importers of Great Import

June 5, 2008 at 12:10 am by john

Antonio Martinez, Founder, Antalva Imports

 

Importers of Great Import

     If you happen to not just imbibe wine, but follow some of the happenings in the wine world either through wine magazines or wine blogs, you've probably run across articles about different importers. These maverick grape slingers are often the unsung heroes of your local wine store shelves, taking chances on previously unknown or unpopular varietals and grape growing regions all for the glory of our tastebuds. The best ones are driven by an unstoppable passion to deliver to your dinner table an unforgettable experience they had possibly hundreds of thousands of miles away in the dank basement of a three hundred year old winery. Their wiring doesn't allow them to sip, smile and move on.  To them, a great wine stands up and demands to be shared with the rest of the world.

 

     Every once in awhile, we're going to take the time to introduce you to some of these importers, beginning with Antonio Martinez, President and Founder of Antalva Imports.  Antonio is a one man show....the same guy pouring the wine at our bar for us to taste, is just weeks later walking the vineyards of the wineries he repesents and looking for new ones.  We know this because we often screw up and call his cell phone to order some wine finding out that it's the middle of the night where he is.  Email..email...got to you remember to email.

    

     Antalva Imports was founded in 2001, based on the idea of bringing premium Spanish wines to the American market. The philosophy of the company is to seek out small producers with a commitment to value as well as quality. Martinez has been in the California wine industry for over ten years. Born in Spain, Antonio has always had a desire to bring the culture and lifestyle of his country - expressed through its wine - to America. After years in the wine industry and numerous trips back to Spain, he recognized that many exceptional wines had yet to be discovered and enjoyed by the American public. Antonio joined his passion for Spanish wine with his desire to share his culture and created Antalva Imports.  It's meeting and working with people like Antonio that continues to make us happy we dove head first into this business. 

 

Here's a list of wines we carry from Antalva Imports:

 

Vina Santurnia Crianza Rioja 2004, Spain

Vina Santurnia Riserva Rioja  2002, Spain (coming soon)

Faristol Garnacha 2006, Terre de Alta, Spain

Pago de Valdoneje Mencia 2005, Bierzo, Spain

Coto de Hayas Garnacha Centenaria 2005, Campo de Borja, Spain

Deobriga Crianza Rioja 2004, Spain

Crucillon Tinto 2005, Spain

Pago de los Capellanes Joven 2006, Ribera del Duero, Spain    






Rise of the Supertasters

April 9, 2008 at 12:10 am by john

 

     Have you heard of these lost, under-appreciated superheroes, "supertasters"? About 25% of the U.S. population are considered supertasters, meaning that they have at least twice the amount of tastebuds that we boring/regular/average tasters have. Now, if two of you live in a house and your significant other can't describe what he or she tasting as well as you can, that doesn't mean you're a supertaster. That might just mean that your spouse just isn't the sharpest tack in the tackle box.

     But would it be better to be a supertaster? Would you sit there at dinner and just get lost in the millions of layers each bite of gourmet food had, washing over you for hours? Many think the experience of being a supertaster is more likely just the opposite. The subtle spiciness of a dish is for you, too spicy to keep in your mouth. The light acidity of a finessed Cabernet Franc is to you, just pure acidity. A little oak on a nice Spanish tempranillo could be like chugging a vile of vanilla.

     So you supertasters, choose wisely. You average tasters, be happy you can enjoy twice the range of foods and wines that supertastes sometimes cannot. Are you a supertaster? Do you have a friend who insists that they can taste a wine from 4 feet away? Comment below.






Red Rover, Red Rover, Send Hangover Over

March 27, 2008 at 12:10 am by john

 

     When running a wine store, you obviously engage in many discussions about drinking and the effects of drinking. Everyone has their legendary drunk story and nearly everyone has their own personal hangover cure. We've heard everything from butter and egg sandwiches to peanut butter and a Camel Light (personally, I don't think you can beat a French Dip Melt from Dave's down the street). And many customers claim super-human abilities like:

 

- I can drink white wine all night and not get a hangover

- it is impossible for me to get a sake hangover

- if I drink two glasses I get a hangover, but I'm fine if I drink more than a bottle

 

     Well, yes, it is true that some people are affected by the sulfites (1% of the population) and histamines more prevalent in red wine, so the white wine thing could be partially true. Though i'm guessing that pesky 10-15% alcohol thing gets in the way at some point. As for sake, yes, there are little to no preservatives used in most sakes and it is proven that preservatives can add to a hangover. But 'impossible', well.....hmmm...then you're that lost superhero that I've been looking for all my life....I'd like to be your superhero sidekick and I'd like my name to be "The Imbiber". As for the last point, it could be partially true. I'm WAY better at pool after a couple of beers, then terrible after a couple more so I'm sure there can be a sweet spot with alcohol as well.

     Have a hangover cure? Have superhuman tolerance abilities but only on Tuesdays?  Please comment below (and yes, this was totally inspired by a Slate.com article on hangovers).






The Kids Are Alright

February 26, 2008 at 12:10 am by john

    

 

 

     There was a very interesting article in the NYTimes earlier this month detailing the growing war between the stroller-set and the S-DANKs (Single Drinkers No Kids). There are two reasons this really caught our attention -- 1.) one of the bars mentioned is The Gate in Parkslope, Brooklyn - a hallowed place in our memories as we used to live two doors away from this glorious drinking establishment and referred to it simply as 'downstairs', and 2.)the laws are drastically different in LA regarding children in drinking establishments and this is often a source of frustration and confusion with our patrons.

     Let's start with the law.  In California, a minor can not enter and remain within an establishment licensed as a bar unless that establishment is considered a 'bona-fide eating place', aka restaurant.  It's especially confusing because, like a handful of other establishments in LA, we look like a retail establishment, but are actually licensed as a bar, front to back.  By law, we have to post 'no one under 21 allowed entry' on our front window and enforce this law to the best of our ability or we could be fined, or worse, lose our license.

     Now let's get to opinion. We hate this law. Eagle Rock is a family neighborhood and as new parents ourselves, we understand a parent's want/need for more places to get out of the house with your child and enjoy a drink in a nice place. In NY, as long as a child under 16 is accompanied by an adult, he/she can enter a bar no problem. Isn't California supposed to be a bastion of liberal thinking? Let the businesses make their own rules and decide whether or not they want to be kid-free or kid-friendly. That would actually allow more small businesses to specialize one way or the other, create more competition, create more jobs, etc. etc. Goodbye for now, high horse.






The Great Corkage Schmorkage List

February 26, 2008 at 12:10 am by john

UPDATED - 2/27/08

 

     When restaurants offer no, low, or discounted corkage for wine you bring into their restaurants, it's a big deal. The margin on food aint pretty so alcohol usually makes up the difference for them.  So, support these restaurants!  And please, by all means, leave comments below with restaurants we have left out that offer low or no corkage.

 

CLICK HERE to see the list and interactive map

 






Wine Shipping Leads to a 12 Step Program

January 30, 2008 at 12:11 am by john

    

 

 

     There's a great article in the NYTimes today about our nation and its interstate wine shipping laws. In 2005, the Supreme Court made it legal for wineries to ship to most states, but not retailers. Retailers can legally only ship to a handful of states and some of those states you can only ship one case a month, other states you have to give the statealcohol control body a list of wines you will be shipping into their state in the future. Last year I tried to explainto the North Carolina Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission that my time machine was broken and that I really didn't know which wines would be heading their way in the future, but that didn't fly.

     The current laws of alcoholwere born out of prohibition (any of you that have entered CoWineCo with a child have already experienced one of these laws...minors can enter our store but not remain...as if they were going to throw down a sleeping bag and move in). The importer/distributor/retailer model was a way of 'controlling' a seemingly life-threatening substance. Now don't get me wrong, addictions are very serious and alcohol is very different from Sunny-D, but our laws are absurd. In the NYTimes article, Craig Wolf, chairman of the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America, says of the dangers of shipping alcohol out of state, "the bottom line is that you whittle away at the system little by little, and what you end up with is what you have in England, where cheap alcohol has led to binge drinking through the roof..." Really? So if I could ship a few bottles of wine to my sisters in Massachusetts for Christmas, I would soon find them splayed out on their front lawns, throwing up while still gripping bottles of neon blue Mad Dog 20/20? Hmmm. The quote makes sense when you consider Craig's position with the wholesalers who stand to lose their grip over the flow of alcohol in our country. Take away the wholesalers and CoWineCo would actually be able to buy from the source, thus lowering prices for the customers. Dear God....what anarchy.

     If only my time machine were working, I'd give Craig a ride into the future and show him that actually, the vast majority of the country is pretty damn good at deciding when to say when.

     CLICK HERE for the full article.






Top 5 Things We Don't Want To Hear at Our Bar

January 16, 2008 at 12:11 am by john

 

5.    Are you pouring anything good today?

4.    Can I retaste #3 forty-five times?

3.    How about a little top off

2.    When do the hot ladies show up? (or, Do you have a cute girl discount?)

1.    Serioushly, em fine...I....*hic!*...want jus onnnnnne more glasuv wine






The Price of Cork

October 10, 2007 at 12:11 am by john

 

     In the last few months, a handful of customers have expressed confusion, dismay, sometimes outright anger about our corkage policy.  What is our corkage policy?  If you don't want a glass of wine from the 6-7 selections we're pouring on any given night, you can grab any bottle off our walls, and for the price of the bottle plus $10 corkage, it's yours to open in our bar and enjoy for the night.  And every week on our Wine Cellar Wednesdays, there is no corkage fee at all.

     The idea of a hybrid wine store and wine bar in the same space is a relatively new idea in Los Angeles and it is entirely understandable thatit can cause confusion.  So at the risk of sounding dry and boring, here's why we do it:

A glass of wine at a bar or restaurant is drastically higher than what it costs you to buy a bottle of wine, bring it home, and pop it open in your living room. A bottle you might buy in our store for $20 has 4 full glasses of wine in it, costing you $5/glass if you brought it home. That exact same wine at a fine restaurant could be $10-$18 a glass.  With our corkage policy, you're paying $7.50/glass to have that wine in our store.  That little extra margin is what helps pay for your friendly neighborhood bartender, all those broken glasses, all the lovely plumbing issues that come with running a bar, and my stash of grape Big League Chew.  We hope that helps clear up any questions/concerns.  It's what we do to stay in business and continue to improve our selection and service.






My Vino Has Been Taken Hostage

August 8, 2007 at 12:11 am by john

    

 

     Your hosts/hostesses are great cooks who appreciate unique wines so you bring something wonderful. But when you present the wine, they thank you and put it away in their wine collection, never to be seen or tasted by you again. What do you do, if anything?






The Eagle Has Crash Landed

July 25, 2007 at 12:11 am by john

     We recently had the sommelier from a very fancy Los Angeles restaurant come in and tell us about a customer who was loudly proclaiming the subtle qualities of his bottle of Screaming Eagle ($1200/btl). But all the qualities he was describing for his date and the rest of the restaurant to hear were odd. So the sommelier asked to check the bottle and he realized it was corked beyond belief.....it was like smelling spoiled garbage. They drank down the whole thing happily. Do you tell them that they're not tasting what they're supposed to? Does it really matter if they like it? Is it the sommelier's responsibility to replace the bottle and risk embarrassing the customer?






Hmmm... Just How Good a Friend Are You?

July 10, 2007 at 12:11 am by john

 

     You're having friends over for dinner, you're really into wine and they're not... do you go for the nice stuff on your wine rack or do you 'dumb it down' and grab some of the simpler stuff? You wouldn't believe how much this comes up in our store. The debate is essentially, do you believe that good wine can only be appreciated by someone who has been tasting wine for awhile, or can it be properly enjoyed by all?

     Post your comments here.  After the homepage poll results are all in after a couple of weeks, we'll weigh in as well.






Remembering Our Meritage

June 11, 2007 at 12:11 am by john

    

 

     A friend of ours lost money on this bet recently so we thought we’d clear up a common misunderstanding so none of you wander into your local sports bar and interrupt the football game to bet someone about the pronunciation of “Meritage.” A “Meritage” wine is not French and does not rhyme with “triage”, it rhymes with “heritage” and is a marketing term dreamt up in 1988 by a group of American vintners.  This proprietary name was chosen from 6000 entries and is a combination of the words “merit” and “heritage”, used to identify wines made from the noble Bordeaux varietals of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc most commonly, but can include Petit Verdot and Malbec or for white Meritage, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, and Sauvignon Vert.  The Meritage Society believes strongly in these blends having the same status as noble single varietals and wish to separate them out from the more basic “table wines” of the wine world. Isn’t it odd that “table wine” has a pejorative connotation? Do we put our fancy pure varietals on something besides a table? I think we should put a moratorium on new marketing names for wines. It’s confusing enough already.






Johnny 5 Is Unfortunately Alive

May 12, 2007 at 12:11 am by john

 

 

     I was recently leafing through a book on bars and bar culture (because the book had lots of pictures), and i came across Robobar (pictured above).  Now I love robots as much as the next guy.  It's a guilty, geeky pleasure to see the latest MIT creation on youtube or see some extremely, extremely creepy attempt by the Japanese to make a robot look and act like a socially-stunted airline attendant without full use of her joints.  But robot geeks of the world, there are two things you should not try to recreate: 1. schoolteachers and 2. bartenders.  Just give it up.  Bartenders are the cornerstones of society.  They see the best and worst of humanity on a weekly basis....celebration, mourning, found love, lost love, friendships beginning, friendships ending, lottery wins and jobs lost. 

     So i ask you, what is Mr. Robobar going to say to a guy who smashes through the front door with a ten-mile grin spread across his face because his first child was just born?  I'll tell you what he's going to say, "what's your poison?" or some schlocky programmed phrase that's going to come out sounding like HAL from 2001 in bad community theater.  And when the guy asks for a Rye Manhattan, he's gonna get a lukewarm Zima.  That's how all these things inevitably end.  I'd personally take that creep from the Disarrono commercials over Robobar any day of the week.  And that is saying something.

 






The Great Corkage Schmorkage List

April 11, 2007 at 12:10 am by john

When restaurants offer no, low, or discounted corkage for wine you bring into their restaurants, it's a big deal. The margin on food aint pretty so alcohol usually makes up the difference for them. We thought of publishing a list of restaurants that offer some sort of corkage deal on our site but then realized, the list would be a LOT more comprehensive if we asked for your input first. So, here's our short list of restaurants to start you off, but please comment with your ownpicks!

 

***NEW! - we've added an interactive corkage map on google - CLICK HERE ***

 

 

COLUMBO'S RESTAURANT

No corkage for wines purchased at CoWineCo!
1833 Colorado Blvd.
Eagle Rock, CA 90041
(323) 254-9138

 

MIA SUSHI

No corkage Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays for wines purchased at CoWineCo!
4741 Eagle Rock Blvd.

Eagle Rock, CA 90041

(323) 256-2562

 

CAMILO'S CALIFORNIA BISTRO

Low corkage! $5/ bottle

2128 Colorado Blvd.

Eagle Rock, CA 90041

(323) 478-2644

 

BISTRO K

No corkage!

1000 Fremont Ave.

South Pasadena, CA 91030

(626) 799-5052

 

CAFE BIZOU

Low corkage! $2/bottle

91 N. Raymond Ave.

Pasadena, CA

(626) 792-9923

 

BLUE HEN

No corkage!

1743 Colorado Blvd.

(323) 982-9900

 

PINOT BISTRO

No corkage!

12969 Ventura Blvd.
Studio City, CA 91604

(818) 990-0500






Customer Wine Reviews

March 28, 2007 at 12:08 am by john

     Our first guest review is by Sherrie of The Legion of the Purple Teeth .  Sherrie just has a way of cutting to the chase which we admire here at CoWineCo.  Have a good review of your own?  Post away.  And maybe, just maybe, you might get a shiny prize in the shape of a post in our newsletter.  Ooooooh, exciting.  No seriously, post your own reviews.  We want something to read for a change.

 

REVIEW:  Gelsomina Lambrusco Montovano, Italy - $11.99  (more in stock next week!)

 

     "This is not a wussy wine for your wussy wuss friends who love pinot grigio (and also pan flutes). It is a sparkling red, with an appealing rich dark brick color, and a zingy perky acidity. That tartness would go so well with a nice tray of charcuterie. You know, some hunks of Italian salame. Or slices of sopressata. Ooh, is that grana padano? I’ll just make myself a little plate if you don’t mind… oh my, I drifted off there to a wine tasting in my imagination.

     Don’t feel pressured to finish it off in one sitting because it’s fizzy and you’re living hard and you have no place to go tomorrow morning. Get yourself one of these Metrokane bottle sealers for bubblies (mine came with my Rabbit opener), and pop it back in the fridge. On day 2, I had it with some Quercia speck I picked up from Whole Foods and it held up just fine. No crackers, no cheese, just a few slices of buttery rich smoked pork and some tart Lambrusco. I’ll gladly get another bottle of this special treat, and have it with hearty grilled chicken sausages. Meat + wine = heaven. Sorry, my vegetarian amigos. This post was more about meats and meat enjoyment than what it should have been about. I promise to write about brussell sprouts…someday.

Other Random Information:
70% Lambrusco, 30% Ancellotta, produced & bottled by Negri’s Wine, San Giorgio, Italy."

 

     Get thee to her blog! 






In the Beginning...

March 23, 2007 at 11:22 am by john

   

     Well, I just smashed a bottle of Champagne against the bow of my monitor here to celebrate the first post on our new wine blog - Wine For Everyone.  "Wine For Everyone" does sound a bit like "Hands Across America" or "I'd like to buy the world a Coke", but it is pretty much the tagline to our store.  The idea was to create an environment that didn't cater to wine snobs, collectors, 30-somethings, 10-somethings or anyone in particular.  We wanted a place where everyone felt comfortable talking about, learning about, or drinking wine. 

     Two years later, we're getting this blog up and running to finally get some feedback from you about where you are in the world of wine.  Is it new and terrifying?  Has it been your lifelong passion?  Do you only drink wine to get to the corks and make little action figures out of them?  It's all fine.  Because for all of the layers of B.S. heaped on top of the subject of wine, it is still fermented grape juice.  Tasty, complex, mystifying grape juice, yes.  But fermented grape juice, all the same.






The Pour

March 23, 2007 at 10:52 am by john

     I've mentioned this in our newsletters before, but hands down, the best wine blog I have found on the interwebs is Eric Asimov's "The Pour" on the NYtimes website.  CLICK HERE to go there now.

 

     Eric just has a way of writing about wine so that you learn a great deal every post, but aren't made to feel stupid in the process.  My least favorite wine blogs are the ones that suggest that you live in a hole in the ground if you haven't already heard of the Blah Blah Estate Reserve Whammo Cabernet from Doctor whatshisname.  What?  Oh my god!  I haven't spend $80 on the new cult wine!!!  I must be one big ass!

 

     Alright, rant done.  Have suggestions for other wine blogs?  Let us know. 






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