Phylloxera Aphid: The Bug That Changed The Alcohol World

This is the little bastard that crushed the French wine world but helped bring whiskey to the rest of the world. This is the story of Phylloxera Dactylasphaera vitifoliae.

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Smartphone Apps Round 2: Whiskey and Wine

Before any new readers ask when Round 1 was it was over 2 years ago, so you didn’t miss anything recent. Not too much has changed in the world of beer apps since then. Well, Untappd has become the dominant force in the beer app universe. A few other beer apps have come, and gone, yet Untappd has remained supreme.

What else has changed is that I’ve gone from swearing off wine and rarely drinking spirits to enjoying both more often and becoming a more well-rounded imbiber. In my endless urge for capturing data to help me remember things, combined with having that data available in my pocket, I present the best apps I’ve found for both whiskey and wine!

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Mio Vino Micro Winery

In my continued quest to learn about wine a friend introduced me to a new place in town. Mio Vino is a micro winery in the south end of Blue Ash (Google Maps) that’s getting ready to celebrate its one year anniversary.

Mio Vino Micro Winery Blue Ash Front Window

My Wine

Mio Vino is a rocking little joint jammed with atmosphere. It’s set on a corner of a street in an old building with old shop windows. It leaves an initial impression that it could’ve been here for 50 years. Just looking at it from outside it made me feel warm, comfy, and relaxed.

Mio Vino Entrance


All those feelings continued inside growing to the Cheers feeling that “everybody knows your name” or will at least treat you like they do and that you’re a good friend. As you can see below there are a couple of tables scattered about the room with seats ranging from 2 to 8 for bigger groups. In the corner of the room, next to where the picture was taken from, is a little spot for bands. Friday night was a guy and a guitar singing Christmas songs, Friday was July 25th so ya know… Christmas in July.

Mio Vino tasting room

On the flip side of that room is a small bar for about 5 people with a TV on the back wall. The TV was off that night but I’m told it’s usually playing Sports Center. To the right of the bar are some very comfy looking couches and coffee tables to lounge around while enjoying your glass of wine.

Oh yeah, about that wine

I’m only learning about wine now and am not going to claim to be able to tell good wine from great wine. I can only tell you what I like and what people tell me is good. I liked the 4 different wines I had, Call Me a cab Cabernet. Grape therapy is a solid red that screams grapes all over the place. Mudd eyes is a Chilean Malbec packing a nice puckering punch. Red & white pomegranate Zinfandel was super sweet and fruity, a bit too much for my tastes but if you enjoy fruity wines check this out. These are mostly reds and so far in my wine journey I’ve found I’m a much bigger fan of reds than whites. Don’t worry though Mio Vino has plenty of whites and a few blushes, here’s the whole list. And yes, it really is just $12 for a bottle!

Mio Vino Wine Menu


Mio Vino started up as “a dream and a love of wine” a dream of a guy who likes to make wine. He wanted to share that love with others and decided to open Mio Vino. What’s different here than so many other small wineries or breweries is that his love was making wine and that’s what he wanted to share. That’s why one of the core features of Mio Vino is making your own wine, with their help.

You choose the grapes, work with the team there to make the must (like wort for beer), pitch your yeast, then wait patiently for the yeast to do its thing. After a few weeks you’ll come up with a fancy label and wait some more… probably less patiently this time. A few weeks more you and a bunch of friends come back to Mio Vino and bottle your very own wine that you made yourself!

Fancy Feast

OK, feast may be an exaggeration but fancy is an understatement. Mio Vino sports a short list of snacks all of which sound amazing. I can confirm that the Brie with Jalapeno Jelly went down delicious on top of the crackers. That’s what my friend suggested we get so I never consulted the menu till I began writing this post at home the next day. Now I have to go back just to get that Cream Cheese with Pineapple Habanero Sauce! Here’s the full appetizer menu:

Mio Vino Food Menu

Whether you love wine or are, like me, trying to learn to love it swing by Mio Vino at 7908 Blue Ash Road Deer Park, Ohio 45236 and try some great local wine, or make your own!


  • Sunday/Monday – Closed
  • Tuesday/Wednesday – 4:30 pm – 10 pm
  • Thursday – 4:30 pm – 11 pm
  • Friday – 4:30 pm – 12 pm
  • Saturday – 2 pm – 12 pm

Go like them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter to stay up-to-date with all their events!

Tips to Smell Wine like a Pro

The human nose can detect approximately 1 trillion different scents, and historically this super sense has served to help us find food, avoid danger, and even fall in love.  When it comes to enjoying wine, the nose is our most sensitive evaluation tool – but only if we know how to smell wine like a pro.

Understanding the physiology of smell can help you become a better aroma detective. Volatile substances (those that can evaporate) are sniffed into the nostrils and touch certain receptors within the nose (and retronasal passageway).  When they do, the receptors send messages to the brain so that the scent can be interpreted.

These volatile chemical molecules are also released as the wine moves across the palate and travel up the retronasal passages to the nose, which is why tastes and aromas are so easily confused.

The Swirl

Smell wine like a pro

Though some aromas volatize and leap into the air off their own accord, it’s best to give the process a helping hand.  You may have once thought that swirling wine was just to keep up appearances, but it actually fulfills a very important function.  To achieve a well-contained swirl and avoid sloshing wine over the rim, start small and slowly gain speed.  Proper wine glasses also come in handy, by pairing glasses that have bigger bowls with wines that require lots of agitation before they really come alive aromatically.

The Sniff

Once the wine has been poured and has had a minute to breathe in the glass, take a sniff. Whether you take a few shallow whiffs, or one long drag, is a question only your nose can decide.

A common mistake is diving as deep into the glass as possible, dipping the tip of your nose into the wine and inhaling like a winded animal.  Embarrassing and unnecessary!  Aromatically neutral (or muted) wines may leave you no other option other than to aggressively snort in what little aromas are there, but most wines welcome a more subtle approach.

Think of a wine’s aromas as classical music on the radio.  If you press your ear up against the speaker, you’re more likely to blow out your ear drum than to ever pick up on the melody in the flute section.  As you get to know your nose, try different methods of smelling.


Try shallow sniffs and long drags, tip the glass to one side or smell it straight on. Bring the glass closer as you smell in, or slowly pull it away.  Even try smelling with your mouth open and see if you catch any additional perfumes.  You may be shocked to find how the wine’s aromas open up to you as soon as you find the sniffing style that fits you best.

Take a Pause

Allow your brain a 3-5 second pause between each sniff.  After extended exposure to the same smell (or very similar smells) fatigue will start to set in.  Once a smell becomes constant the brain tunes it out so that your nose is free to detect more major stimuli, similar to how the brain tunes out the chatter of a party so that you can focus on what is being said by the person in front of you.

It’s also helpful to sniff the wine again after you have completed the tasting, you’ll notice how the wine has “opened up” over time, allowing new aromas to step into the foreground.

Tip: Avoid smelling a wine straight from the freshly uncorked bottle as you’re likely to inhale nothing more than the alcohol vapors or oak scents that will assault your nose.  Decant it, or swirl it in your glass before smelling in order to ensure you get an accurate sniff.

Finding the right words

The ability to smell thousands of scents is innate, but the ability to identify even a few hundred of them requires training. Wine drinkers use analogies (such as cinnamon, or freshly cut grass) in order to remember and communicate a wine’s particular aromas to other people.  If you want to become an aroma detective, get to know the usual suspects: fruits, herbs, spices etc.  Then memorize what they feel like so you’ll easily recognize them the next time they come around.

Author Bio:  Madeline Blasberg is a Certified Wine Consultant currently working as the Official Wine Commentator for Etching Expressions, a company that specializes in custom wine and personalized liquor bottles. She has spent time living in Mendoza, Argentina where she was surrounded by wine, both personally and professionally.

Introducing Oliver Winery’s New Oliver Vine series

The intention of this blog was to always discuss all kinds of local alcohol. Being a beer guy myself this has been most of my focus while Ginny has covered wine, liquor, and beer. I made it my goal of 2014 to learn as much as I could about wine. As of January 1st, 2014 I knew extremely little. I can safely say that I now know a slight bit more. I’ve read two books on the subject and am trying to finish a 3rd but keep getting distracted.

It was into this situation that I received an email from Oliver Winery about their new series of wines and wanting to send me samples. I know well that you can’t learn about alcohol without drinking it and trying as many styles as possible so I happily accepted their offer, which included an interview with Oliver Winery president Bill Oliver. Continue on after the jump to learn more about Oliver Winery and their new Vine series.

Oliver Winery Vine

Continue reading “Introducing Oliver Winery’s New Oliver Vine series”

Store Review: Everything D’Vine

Living in Monroe it’s hard to get downtown for all the excellent things going on every night, as such I feel I’ve let you all down by not doing a better job of getting to an Everything D’Vine tasting sooner. Everything D’Vine is a beer/wine store that’s been open for about 6 or 7 months now. It’s on the far west side of 4th street, so basically go all the way down to central ave and back track a half block or so and look for the red awning.


The store reminds me of Two-Face from Batman, but not in the killing people/robbing banks kind of way. It’s split in half and you walk in the wine half and it’s a nice wine store with relaxing music and these cool horizontal wine holders on the walls. About half way down the building is an opening to cut over to the beer side. Here you’re just looking at lots of bottles of beer, bare brick walls, and the music selection was more along the lines of Soundgarden than Barry Manilow (I kid, I kid).

I know little of wine so I’ll make no comments regarding their wine selection, however, their beer selection I can attest to. Sadly it’s not a huge massive selection but damn is it a good one! They just don’t have the room to have every beer from every brewery, if you want that you can go to Party Source or Jungle Jims and spend your time trying to figure out what’s great. Travis has taken care of that for you. What bottles (and cans) they have are all great – excellent quality and cover the entire range of beer styles. Though to the dismay of one customer last night there is no Yuengling, which I’m relatively sure is a good thing.

Everything D’Vine has been making moves to be more then just a wine/beer store. Those moves started with tastings almost every Friday night. The tastings are Friday nights 5:30 – 8:30 and Saturday 1 – 6, $15/person for samples of 6 wines and 6 beers + snacks. Not being a wine guy I passed on that action and went straight for the brews, and I picked a great night to go!


I’m not going to go into super detail on all those but the Missions Shipwreck Double IPA was an unexpected highlight, great IPA action with a solid malt body backing. The Enjoy By and Espresso IRS were also delicious and another surprise for me was the Jolly Pumpkin Maracaibo Special Brown ale, its a Belgian strong ale that shows off everything great about Belgians. Not all tasting line ups are like this, the two Stones really made tonight stand out more than usual.

A bonus to these tastings is that Travis really knows his shit on these brews. So I said they’re making moves to be more than just a store and the first move was the tastings. They’re also doing an educational wine 101 course this week and will soon be doing “celebrity tastetenders” at the tastings. This week’s “celebrity tastender” session is Learn Beer From A Pro: Scott Lafollette of Blank Slate Brewing Co. and I’ve heard rumors that in the future at least one local blogger/tour guide may be doing one. Plus I can say for sure that as soon as my time (and my wife) allows I plan on doing one as well!

Perhaps the best thing about Everything D’Vine is that it is the single most socially active store in the tri-state area that I’ve found so far. Travis has done a great job of covering Facebook (their page), Twitter (their feed), and blog posts (their blog). Better yet not only is he keeping these things up to date with the latest beer arrivals and store happenings but he is also superb at responding to things (which some bigger, alliteratively named, stores suck horrendously at).

Bottom line is that if you haven’t been to Everything D’Vine yet I encourage you to start following them on Facebook and Twitter and go down to the store to check it out. If you’re like me and don’t get downtown often then wait for a Friday night Red’s game and do a little beer tasting then hit the ball park (and don’t forget to stop by the Machine Room in the stadium) or do a tasting and hit the Yard House or Lager House for dinner.

The Seeker Wines


Those of you who know me know that I know my way around booze and I also know my way around steampunks. (If you don’t know what steampunk is, think Jules Vern carried into the 21st century.) So it is fitting that I first discovered The Seeker Wines through the steampunk world. A friend of mine is a representative for Seeker Wines and he also hosts one hell of a room party. But when I got the chance to review Seeker Wines for my podcasts, I was thrilled to try them somewhere other than a party at a steampunk convention. Being constrained by a corset and already drunk are not the ideal conditions for a thoughtful and balanced tasting.

The Seeker Wines is a small, family owned company that seeks to source the best family owned wineries around the world and to bring them to the world with elegant labels and affordable prices. They have also hitched their wagon pretty firmly to the steampunk movement. Each wine has a whimsical flying contraption on the label and a steampunk explorer character who supposedly “discovered” the wine in some far off place. It has been awhile since I studied world explorers in 5th grade and at first I thought these were actual historical figures. Then I noticed that many of them were wearing goggles and one talked about fighting a giant metal octopus on his journey. I realized my mistake quickly at that point.

Seeker  Wines currently has three red and two white varieties available and so we did a two-part tasting on the podcasts. The Charlie Tonic Hour Episode 67 features the reds which I am reviewing here, and for the whites you can listen to Bottoms Up Episode 8. So without further ado, here is what I think of each of the wines.

pinot noir blimp

Pinot Noir 2011

Discovered: In France by Colette Bourgogne

Winemaking: “Cold maceration” “Fermentation in open-top barrels” “Maturation in tank on light lees”

Tasting: “Red fruit and spice” “Balanced acidity and ripe fine tannin” “Food friendly

Just to be honest to my own limitations, I am sadly unsure what many of winemaking phrases mean but I did gather that this is a wine that is not aged in oak and I could tell that right away. The fruit is more forward in this wine and there is a lightness and brightness that you don’t get from oak-aged wine. I found the tannins rather strong and it does have a very long finish. Personally I felt that the sweeter, fruitier notes on the front were a little weak in comparison to the strong finish but it does balance out better after breathing for a bit. Overall this is all an enjoyable wine but not one that I would seek out if it was inconvenient.

malbec wine blimp

Malbec 2011

Discovered: In Argentina by Esteban Colombo

Winemaking: “Hand picked” “Cold maceration” “Aged in French Oak for six months”

Tasting Notes: “Black cherry and dominate spice” “Smooth and robust with a spicy finish”

Very much spicy and woody nose and a big bold taste. You can pick up on the oak very definitely. Unlike the Pinot Noir, this one did not calm down as much after breathing. This was one of Charlie’s favorites but for me I felt the oak was too dominate. However I could see this one working well with a steak or some strongly seasoned barbecue. On its own it might be too much but when paired with a flavor that can stand up to it I can see it improving.

cabernet sauvignon airplane

Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

Discovered: In Chile by Isadora Cortez

Winemaking: “Cold maceration” “3 pumpovers per day” “Aged in 20% new oak, 50% American/French for 5 months” “Reserva-level Cabernet Sauvignon”

Tasting Notes: “Ripe black and blue berries with a touch of vanilla” “Creamy tannins” “Beautiful structure with chocolate and toffee”

This one was the clear taste winner for both Charlie and myself. It helps that Cabernet Sauvignon is my usual go-to variety of red wine but this is a particularly complex yet well-balanced Cabernet Sauvignon. It is one of the few wines that I find the vanilla flavors to be really apparent but at the same time it is not overly sweet. In this wine the oak aging really does add a subtle and lovely hint of chocolate that rides just under the berries and then finishes with an assertive but not intimidating show of spice and tannins. I highly recommend this one.

seeker chardonnay

Chardonnay 2011

Discovered: In California by Wolfgang Masterssen

Winemaking: “Ferment 12 days at cool temperatures in stainless steel tanks” “5% Gewürztraminer grapes for floral notes and richness”

Tasting Notes: “Light scents of citrus and floral. Flavors of ripe pineapple, golden apple and Anjou pear are balanced by citrus notes and a smooth, creamy finish.”

I do prefer un-oaked Chardonnays to oaked so this wine started with an advantage for me. The fruit is much heavier than any floral notes for me. Pear, citrus, and pineapple came over much stronger than anything else but it does have a really nice creamy mouthfeel. Good but not mind blowing.

seeker sauvignon blanc
Sauvingnon Blanc 2012

Discovered: In New Zealand by Captain Cornelius Weatherbee

Winemaking: “Cool fermentation is carried out in stainless steel tanks to capture fruit purity. ” “Aged on fine lees two months for added weight and richness.”

Tasting Notes: “Prominent fresh acidity which is balanced by an intense core of fruit where characters of lime and apple come to mind.”

This is one of the more unique Sauvignon Blancs that I’ve ever had, and I’ve had quite a few because it is my mom’s wine of choice. It has a a stronger bouquet than is typical for this wine and a really nicely complex flavor. This is the first Sauvignon Blanc I’ve had that has a mint taste, and it came across very distinctly in addition to lime and apple flavors. Very light and bright, the flavor has an almost sparkly quality to the tongue even though there is no carbonation. And yet there is also an undertone of earthiness. Almost a moss flavor that does balance the spark and spice of mint and citrus. This was my favorite of the whites and one that I will consider ordering for my mom to get her opinion.

If you want to try some of these lovely wines yourself you will have to order them from your local wine shop or online merchant. Or I have a more fun proposal for you. Seeker Wines is the official wine of The Steampunk Empire Symposium here in Cincinnati. At the show parties both nights, The Seeker Wines will be available to try for all party goers. Despite what I said that the beginning of this article, parties at cons might not be the best place for serious tasting, it is officially the most fun way to try a wine.

Wine for Beer Drinkers: Where to start?

[Ed.: Today we have a guest post from Adolpho Nunez (@CincyBeachBum on Twitter), a volunteer who responded to my call for some help on the wine front. Hopefully this will be the first of many times we’ll be hearing from him!]

As drinkers, we’ve all had different reasons for picking up a glass of wine at one time or another: maybe we want to impress a date, or its a grown up party your significant other is making you attend, or maybe that’s all the wedding was serving. For one reason or another, there will come a time when wine will be the drink of the moment. And, as with any drink, why not enjoy it?

Personally, I consider myself a beer guy, but I’m not a homebrewer. I never got caught up in the “craft” of craft beer. I’m the same way with wine. I’m simply on the hunt for a drink that lifts my spirits, complements my meal, or numbs my head. I’ll take two of the three any given Friday.

With that being said, its easy to be intimidated by knowledgeable drinkers in both the beer and wine camps (“snobs” if you want to call them that). But, here’s the thing. Most people can’t tell the difference between a 10 dollar and a 100 dollar bottle of wine, so with that in mind, I’ll be focusing on those great bottles you can take to a party that are under 20 dollars, which will make people will say “Damn, that guy knows his wine”

But, to start, here is a quick rundown of some resources to help you get started on your quest to become a more well rounded drinker, because no one is paying me to tell you what to drink (yet….) Continue reading “Wine for Beer Drinkers: Where to start?”

Ruby Port: Strong and Sweet


Sometimes it’s hard to separate an alcohol’s cultural, historical, and social qualities from the qualities of the alcohol themselves.  When I first started drinking bourbon I wasn’t immediately able to enjoy sipping it neat but there was something there that intrigued me so I hung in there until I could but it’s hard to say if it was the taste or the combined qualities of history, Kentucky pride, and just plain attitude that kept me coming back for more. Drinking is aspirational in many regards. We drink what we want to become.

Now I’m not saying that I want to become a high society grandmother or an English lord, the two people who come to mind when I think of port.  But I did know a very cool, slightly well to do family in England that loved to drink port. Add that bit of personal history to the lengthy history, tradition, and rules that surround port and I have to admit there is something there that intrigues me. So when I tried the wine for Episode 55 of The Charlie Tonic Hour and found that despite the overwhelmingly sweet flavor I was nonetheless intrigued, I couldn’t say for sure if it was really the taste I was enjoying or the history.

photo (22)

Just as true champagne can only come from the Champagne region of France, a true port wine can only come from the Douro region of Portugal. Port is a fortified wine, meaning that brandy or a neutral grape spirit is added during the fermentation process. This stops the fermentation and leaves lots of undigested sugar in the wine, yet still results in a stronger than average wine. This was originally done because wine from Portugal tended to spoil during the long boat ride to England and fortifying the wine gave it a longer shelf life, but it continues today because of tradition and taste. The result is a wine that is very sweet while still being stronger than average, usually between 18-22% abv. The port I tried was a Ruby Port, the cheapest and most commonly available variety, from the Kopke Winery. Kopke is the oldest brand of port, having been founded by a German family in 1638. Through the years the winery has passed through many hands but still bares the same name and is still produced in the same region.

The taste of Ruby Port is sweet. There is no way of getting around it. Really, really, sweet. But unlike a Riesling or a Moscato it did not seem quite as sickly. There is a strong under flavor from the brandy and the tannins grip your tongue on the finish. The strength that lies just under the surface keeps the sweetness from becoming cloying. That said, this is not something that I would enjoy drinking on a regular basis. It’s not a wine that you can sip half-heartedly while talking with friends or watching a movie. It grabs your attention and I have to respect that. So there is something there I like, even though I can’t honestly say at this point if I am enjoying the unique flavor of the wine or if I am an enjoying nostalgia for my time in England combined with a hint of history and culture. Either way, I will not be letting this bottle go to waste but I’m not sure I’ll be buying another anytime soon.

Village Wine Cellar Cellar Dweller Tap Takeover

I spend a lot of time talking about what to drink and not nearly enough on where to go to drink it. This is partly because I’m a lazy shut in and partly because I live in the country. The popular downtown spots to drink are all 45 minutes away from me. Luckily I’ve recently discovered The Village Wine Cellar in downtown Lebanon.

Continue reading “Village Wine Cellar Cellar Dweller Tap Takeover”