When it comes to wine, most people only think about Napa Valley in California. Unfortunately, what many people are missing out on are wines from Washington state. Over the past four decades, Washington state has become the second major producer of wine in the country. More and more wine aficionados are recognizing the quality of the best Washington state red wines, and best Washington state wine in general. Its popularity is growing significantly.
Washington state produces both red and white wines offering Americans a beverage with New World opulence of fruit combined with the Old-World structure of tannins and acidity. There are over a thousand wineries in the state and growing. The best Washington state red wines have a distinctive flavor and exceptional taste, but what makes the state a mecca for wine production?
When people think of Washington state, they might very well imagine soggy and damp Seattle, but move eastwards towards the Cascade Mountains, and the climate changes. The rain is substituted for snow in the winter but from spring through autumn, the land is dry and arid. The eastern part of the state is blessed with nearly 300 days of sunshine but despite little rain, this place is ideal for growing grapes for many other reasons besides the moisture.
Like all great wine regions of the world, Washington state’s soil is one key reason for its wine success. There is a wide diversity of soil ranging from fine sandy loam to pure sand, with excellent drainage, which is vital for grape growing. The advantages of this type of soil are that it can bring about the best Washington state red wines.
THE TEMPERATURE AND GROWING SEASON
The best Washington state wine has a short but sunny growing season because of its northern latitude. The grape growth is also aided by the hot daytime temperatures and cool evenings. These swings, along with that warm summer weather and the overall harvest cool-down, help create the state’s distinctive wine style.
In addition, the harvest is pushed into autumn because of the short growing season, and this helps present the color and acidity without erasing the grape flavors.
Since most of the Columbia Valley is dry and arid, irrigation is necessary. And, as it turns out, the location of most farmland for grapes is ideally suited for irrigated viticulture. This mode of irrigation permits just the right amount of water for the roots and the excess is drained away. Further irrigation helps the vintners control the amount of water, allowing regulation over the shoot length, canopy growth, cluster weight, and size of the berry; these are all important features that affect quality. With all producers practicing the same method of irrigation, the quality of grapes is consistent and there are no big variations in attributes.
Finally, one more reason why the best Washington state wines are successful each year is that the winery business in the New World is still relatively “new,” and the winegrowers and producers are still in the process of discovery and learning. They are still trying to determine what creates the best wines. In the Old World, the status quo has set in and the excitement is no longer as alive as it is in the Columbia Valley.
If you want to taste the best Washington state red wines that are affordable, check out our current inventory!
At Pacific Rim and Company, the knowledgeable staff is passionate about wine. We are passionate about sustainability, too, which is one more reason to try our wines today. Check us out online or call 1-503-863-5454 to speak to a representative.
Wine can be a complex subject. Depending on just how much of a wine connoisseur you are, or if you’re thinking of becoming a wine connoisseur, it can take a lot of research, discovery, and tasting. Generally, most people just want answers to a few common wine questions.
Let’s take a look at some wine FAQs:
1. I prefer sweet wines- Can you recommend some?
There are many great red and white sweet and fruity wines on the market. Here are some of our favorites:
Wine tip: Always check the label for the amount of residual sugar: the higher the number, the sweeter the wine.
2. What foods pair best with sweet wines?
In general, if the wine is sweet, foods that are salty and spicy pair best. Cheese, nuts, pork, sausage, Italian pasta, and spicy Mexican cuisine will do the trick. Some good sweet wines that you may want to consider include 2012 SELENIUM VINEYARD NOBLE WINE and 2018 VIN DE GLACIÈRE RIESLING.
3. At what temperature should I serve wine?
There are actually a few wine FAQs on serving temperature, so we decided to bundle those Wine FAQs:
Red wines are best served between 65-70°F or just a few degrees below normal room temperature. If you have wine in the refrigerator, take it out and let it sit for about 15-20 minutes at room temperature and that should do it. If the red wine is served cold, it will taste acidic.
White wines are usually served at cooler temperatures - between 55-60 degrees. After taking the wine out of the fridge, serve within 5-10 minutes.
Ice wine and all other bubblies are best served cold, and they should be placed in an ice bucket so that they retain their flavor and bubbliness.
4. How long can wine be stored?
One of the most common wine questions is how long the wine will remain good. The majority of wines have a shelf life of 1-4 years from the date of release. However, there are exceptions for some wines that can be stored for 1-2 decades. In general, white wines are not meant to be stored for long periods; there are a few rare exceptions. Red wines, on the other hand, can be stored for decades.
Wine tip: Once the bottle is opened, it should be consumed between 1-5 days. If the wine is past a week, however, do not throw it out because you can use it for cooking or as vinegar.
5. How can I tell if the wine has gone bad?
There are several ways to tell if the wine has gone bad and they include the following:
- It may smell rusty
- Some red wines will taste sweeter
- The color of the wine may be rusty or brown
- It tastes very bubbly or fizzy
- The cork may be pushed out because of the accumulation of gas
- The taste may be sharp and pungent
6. Are cheap wines good?
Even though many people think that buying an expensive bottle of wine will taste better than a less expensive wine, the reality is that many great quality wines are relatively inexpensive. If you love wine and have a limited budget, here are some excellent wines to try that will not break the bank:
- 2020 SWEET RIESLING
- 2018 RAMOS VINEYARD GEWURZTRAMINER
- 2018 RAINSTORM PINOT GRIS
- 2018 SILVER TOTEM CHARDONNAY
All the above wines are less than $15 and are of exceptional quality.
7. How should I save leftover wine?
The key to saving leftover wine is to keep oxygen out of the bottle because it will oxidize and degrade the wine. Pour the wine in a container to the top, cap it tightly with a plug or cork and place it in the refrigerator. There should be no air in the bottle once you have it corked, and this will preserve the aroma and taste for 1-7 days.
8. Does one have to follow all the wine rules?
Absolutely not. This is another of the common wine questions people ask. Even though there is a lot written about wine and etiquette, there are no absolute rules that one has to follow. Many new wine drinkers are often put off with wine rules. If you are new to the game, then the goal of wine drinking should be fun and pleasurable; you do not have to follow any rules as long as you are content. If you want to eat banana bread with ice wine or Thai curried chicken with Riesling, then it is all a matter of personal choice, and if you like it, you do not have to abide by any rule.
9. Does it matter which type of glass I use to drink wine?
Some wine connoisseurs claim that expensive wines do taste better in stemmed glasses because you can swirl it to fully appreciate the aroma. The choice of wine glasses is personal and a matter of affordability. If you are content drinking wine from a regular glass, then continue with the same practice.
10. Should wine be served with the glass full?
In general, wine should never be poured to fill the glass container. Only fill half the glass because you want the aroma released from the wine to fill the container. Some people believe that by swirling the half-full glass, the aroma can be better appreciated.
11. After I drink red wine, my throat feels dry. Why?
The reason why some red wines will make your throat feel dry is due to the content of tannins. Red wines are made from the crushed skin and seeds of grapes, a process that extracts tannins. The presence of tannins is what makes the throat feel dry. White wines tend to have low amounts of tannins and will feel smoother.
12. I am new to wines; how do I know which wine to buy?
For new wine drinkers, buying wine can be a daunting task because there are so many wines on the market. Pacific Rim and Company have knowledgeable staff who will be happy to answer any questions you have (their phone number is 1-503-863-5454). By discussing your likes and dislikes, the representative can suggest the right bottle of wine for you. If you want the wine for a special occasion, mention that, as well as what type of food will be served at the time. If you are at a restaurant, ask the server for advice. Most people do not ask anyone, and consequently, might end up with a negative experience. It is perfectly fine to ask questions, and, in fact, it is the best thing you can do to find the right wines to suit your tastes.
If you’re looking for some quality wines to try, check out our inventory!
Humans have consumed wine for thousands of years. It is thought, however, that the tastes of wine of centuries past didn’t come close to the wines we have today. Over the centuries, the process of winemaking has greatly improved because better methods of growing and harvesting grapes, along with the wine production process itself, have been discovered. Today, many nations make wine and newly blended wines are constantly being improved. With hundreds of different wines on the market, it is important to know how to taste wine so that you may enjoy it to the fullest. Unlike a glass of cola beverage, wines are not gulped down in one motion, but several body senses are used to assess the quality and taste. The four most commonly used measures are: look, smell, taste, and think/examine/conclude.
WHAT IS THE PROCESS OF WINE TASTING?
How do you go about understanding the tastes of wine? Wine tasting is an organized process that uses the senses of sight, smell, and taste to examine and assess the beverage. First, acquire the right lingo so that your vocabulary is on par with the professionals. Some of the things that you are looking for in wine tasting include the following:
- The appearance of the wine
- The aroma
- Where the wine was made
- The quality
WHERE IS WINE TASTING DONE?
Wine tasting may be a formal or informal event and can be done privately at home, at a wine bar, winery tasting room, or at a private tasting session in a cellar. The key is to have an environment that is comfortable, quiet, and devoid of any distractions.
DEVELOP A SYSTEM FOR WINE TASTING
When you want to learn how to taste wine, it is important to have a system in your mind that you can follow. Your aim is to eventually judge the wine for its quality and rate it from poor to very good. Or you may want to be more thorough and discuss the various elements of wine tasting and grade them on a numeric scale. Hence, have a small notebook handy so that you can write down your evaluations and impressions for comparison with others when understanding the tastes of wine.
THE PROCESS OF WINE TASTING
It is best to use a deep stemmed wine glass that allows you to swirl the wine.
Use your nose to take a sniff and breathe out via the mouth; this will allow you to capture the aroma.
The first sips are vital so pay attention to the taste.
If you are tasting several wines, do not swallow the wine, but spit it out. This will help keep your taste buds sharp. You can also rinse your mouth before the next tasting session.
When you are learning how to taste wine, make notes of how it impacts your different senses. Some of the features about wine that you should be looking for include the following:
What does the wine look like? Is the color inviting, seductive? Dull? Exotic? You may be able to tell the type of grape used to make the wine. A light-colored red wine might be Pinot Noir and a dark ruby red wine may be Cabernet Sauvignon.
Red wines tend to be dark when young and fade with time. White wines tend to be bright and glossy when young and may become gold or bronze with time.
Is there any sediment or particles in the wine? This may indicate an old wine.
Is the wine free-flowing or viscous when you swirl it? The higher the viscosity, the more likely this wine has a high sugar content or high alcohol content.
Use your sense of smell to reveal more about the wine. Does it have a corked or musty smell? This does not mean that the wine is bad necessarily, just unpleasant to smell.
Is the intensity of the wine strong or weak? Pinot Grigio has a soft smell, whereas Sauvignon Blanc will instantly alert your nose to something strong.
Do you smell any fruits in the wine? White wines may have citrus or orchard (apples, peach, nectarine) fruity smells, whereas red wines will have a berry and black (plum, blackcurrant) fruity smell.
Can you smell any spices, like thyme, black pepper, rosemary? In many aged wines, you may note the presence of spices, like nutmeg or cinnamon.
Is there an earthy smell of damp leaves or wet stones?
Is there a chocolate smell? White wines may have a note of caramel or buttery brioche, whereas red wines may have cocoa or coffee smells. These smells arise as a result of the fermentation process.
Take a sip to determine the taste of the wine. Understanding the tastes of wine includes looking at the wine structure and body, which are made of alcohol, sugar, acidity, and tannins. A balanced wine will have these four elements in the right proportions.
Does the wine feel dry or is there sweetness left in your mouth? High alcohol wines can cause instant dryness at the back of the throat.
Did you feel a warming sensation? This may be due to the warming effect of the alcohol.
Does the wine have an astringent or bitter taste? This indicates high levels of tannins, which are common in Cabernet Sauvignon and low in Pinot Noir.
Finally, judge the overall quality of the wine. This is dependent on how long the flavors last in your mouth. In general, high-quality and older wines tend to have more flavors and will leave a longer taste in your mouth.
The best way to acquire the skill of how to taste wine is to have someone else pour the wine for you, and then allow yourself to hone on the merits of the type of grapes, the aroma, and the structure. Compare your results to others when understanding the tastes of wine to determine if you agree. But remember, at the end of the day, wine tasting is not an exam. It is pure fun, entertaining, and educational. If you like the wine, fill the glass and enjoy it.
If you’re looking to taste some new wines, then check out our current inventory!
Not that anyone needs an excuse to drink wine, but if you aren't a fan of Irish Beer, then why not enjoy some wine on St. Patrick’s Day?
If you're not of Irish ancestry or don't know anyone who is: St Patrick's Day is a religious and cultural celebration that is held on March 17th each year. Over the past few decades, St. Patrick's Day has become a day of celebration for many people, even those who are not Irish. In the United States, St. Patrick’s Day is not an official holiday, but many people look forward to the day’s celebrations with family and friends and possibly even a parade. While many people go out to drink the traditional Irish Guinness beer, some people prefer to celebrate with wine – which is perfectly alright! You can enjoy all the Irish delights at home in the company of family and friends. Be sure ye are wearing o’ the green or ye might be pinched!
The traditional St. Patrick’s Day food includes corned beef and cabbage, Irish soda bread, and shepherd’s pie. But there is no absolute rule that one has to eat these traditional Irish foods or even drink Guinness beer. If you're celebrating, you can have any food you like on St Patrick’s Day and drink whatever you like. Even though there is not a holiday wine specific to this “unofficial holiday,” drinking wine on St. Patrick’s Day is not looked down upon.
St. Patrick's Day Wine
For those who do not like the taste of Guinness beer, which can be quite bitter, here are some wine and food pairings that will be a delight for your party friends and family:
Riesling is one of the most versatile white wines on the market, especially when it comes to food pairings. The wine is said to be food-friendly, outgoing, and comes with a range of flavors and acidity. Riesling rocks the world of food as it can associate itself with a range of selections from mild appetizers to spicy Indian curries. If you are inviting people who are fussy about their wines and food pairings, you certainly won't go wrong with Riesling as it covers all the bases. In general, the light to medium Riesling goes very well with spicy foods, Mexican cuisine, and hot chicken fingers. In addition, Riesling will also accommodate a variety of salads, poultry dishes, and desserts. To ensure that everyone is happy, buy different types of Riesling based on their boldness.
Chardonnay is one of the most popular wines on the market. It is available as a dry medium- to full-bodied wine with moderate acidity and tannins. Depending on where it is from, Chardonnay usually has some type of fruity flavor, but it is not overly sweet. Chardonnay pairs well with foods cooked in butter, like seafood, crabs, shrimp, lobster, and shellfish. In fact, almost any food that is cooked with butter will pair well with Chardonnay, even some desserts, baked foods, fish, vegetables, and pasta in cream sauce. If you, by chance, are not able to get Chardonnay, two good substitutes are Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc.
Cabernet Sauvignon is a full-bodied acidic red wine with tannins. It generally is high in alcohol and has intense flavors that enable it to pair well with rich and hearty foods. Because Cabernet Sauvignon is a full-bodied wine, it should not be paired with light foods as the wine will completely overwhelm the taste of the food. Dishes that go well with Cabernet Sauvignon include meat entrees, veggies like portobello mushrooms, certain aged cheeses, steak, lamb, and duck. Finally, to really enjoy the food, do not gulp down the Cabernet, but sip it slowly as the high acidity and tannins will cut through the food and enrich your taste buds.
Sparkling wine is another choice. If you are going to be out and about on St. Patrick's Day and celebrating another occasion (a St. Patrick’s birthday, perhaps?) at the same time, why not go with sparkling wine? There are dozens of types of great sparkling wines, and they can be easily paired with a variety of snacks, appetizers, and light foods. Foods that go best with sparkling wines include cheeses, crackers, charcuterie, veggies, and seafood, like shrimp, salmon, oysters, or even a light burger.
Spending St. Patrick’s Day At Home
If you are going to be staying at home and ordering something quick like pizza, burgers, chicken wings, doner kebab, etc., then here are some things you should consider when selecting a wine on St. Patrick’s Day to go with them.
If the food is oily and fatty, select wine with high acidity to cut through the meat; you may want to consider Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, or Riesling. Do not forget to pair side dishes, like veggies, salsa, and French fries. with a light wine, like Riesling, Chardonnay, or sparkling wine.
If you select spicy and hot foods, like chicken wings with hot sauce, then you also need to match them with a potent wine, like Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, or Chardonnay.
If you aren’t sure of the foods that will be served, you will not go wrong with a nice bottle of bubbly. Sparkling wines, in general, are good all-around beverages that can pair nicely with almost any food.
Wine on St. Patrick’s Day? If you are considering affordable quality wines, consider the below. They will not disappoint your holiday wine St. Patrick's Day celebrations. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to call the staff at Pacific Rim at 503-863-5454 for knowledgeable and timely answers. March is Taste Washington Wine Month – 10% off all Washington wines with a $25.00 flat shipping rate. Offer ends March 31, 2022.
- 2020 PACIFIC RIM WICKED GOOD RED
- 2020 SWEET RIESLING
- 2018 VIN DE GLACIÈRE RIESLING
- 2018 SPRING CREEK VINEYARD GRÜNER VELTLINER
Finally, remember, if you are going to be out and about drinking on St. Patrick’s Day, either get a non-drinking designated driver or take a cab home. And … May the road rise up to meet you! [Safely] (Irish blessing)
When people talk about wine country in the United States, most people immediately think of Napa Valley, California. And they’re mostly right. Napa is the place with the most famous vineyards and also where the majority of U.S. wine is produced. But what many people may not know is that Washington state is an up-and-comer and what some are calling “the next Napa”. Over the past 50 years, Washington state has become the second major producer of wine in the USA, and wine country Washington state is growing by leaps and bounds. The Napa Valley vineyards are considered to be one of the best in the world and compete well alongside the renowned vineyards of France, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, and Germany when it comes to the wine business. But quietly, and without much ado, Washington state’s Columbia Valley very well may be the new Napa.
Most of Washington's vineyards are located in the southeastern part of the state, near the Cascade Mountains. And, unlike the nearly constant rain that can be seen throughout much of the rest of the state, the climate is dry and sunny for 300 days a year. It is the large glacial rivers that supply the water for farming. Growing fruit is not new in Columbia Valley. Before it became famous for grapes, it was well known for its apricots, cherries, and sweet onions.
With a slightly different landscape than Napa Valley, Washington offers other parallels for visitors in terms of wine tours, top quality wines, and above all, the real Washington wine country patronage and friendliness.
The one key difference with winemaking in Washington is that not all vineyards have wineries and vice versa. The majority of wineries sell directly to local consumers because it costs less to maintain a cellar in a warm environment. This type of transaction may be good for the local people, but it does not reach customers at the national level. Things in wine country Washington state are changing, however, and large wineries are being built next to the vineyards and distribution networks are being established. Soon, when Washington wine country is mentioned in more travel magazines, blogs, or on the national news, the rest of America can directly order it from wine country Washington state and receive it promptly. Overall, compared to Napa Valley, the cost of operating a wine business in Washington is lower than that in California.
Trendy restaurants, boutique hotels, and posh tasting rooms have started to pop up all over the southeast portion of Washington, and have led to a boost in wine tourism. If you like red blends, you will not be disappointed, as this is where the wine country of Washington state excels. Even rural areas beyond Columbia Valley are developing their identity, offering wine tasting tours, food, and entertainment in the scenic historic countryside. This has also encouraged other businesses to grow, including hospitality and entertainment. Washington has learned from the California experience: fewer chain restaurants and motels, and more of the local home-grown businesses to cater to tourists. This, combined with the thriving fruit industry, is appealing to more tourists each season.
The government is fully aware of the importance of the wine business in Washington wine country and has made it a priority to see that vineyards and wineries have full local support. While the success of Napa Valley can be a tough act to follow, Washington’s wine industry has its own charm and personality. It has all the ingredients for success. The only thing it needs is more widespread recognition, and it’s getting it. As word gets around, wine lovers will be talking more about Columbia Valley, and there is room for both in the wine industry.
If you are looking for the best wines produced in Washington state, visit Pacific Rim and Company. They offer a great selection of red blends and white wines that hail from Washington state wine country, including the following:
- 2020 SWEET RIESLING
- 2019 DRY RIESLING
- 2018 RAMOS VINEYARD GEWURZTRAMINER
- 2018 HAHN HILL VINEYARD CHENIN BLANC
- 2020 PACIFIC RIM WICKED GOOD RED