June 2003                                                   Volume1, Issue 1                                 866.417.1114



Welcome to the first issue of FineVineNews, a monthly newsletter designed exclusively for assisting the home vintner in the pursuit of his or her hobby!



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We would like to thank you for visiting our website.  We hope it has been an enjoyable experience and that everything you were looking for you were able to find.


As indicated on the website, we have started our business just this year.  Unlike big business, we are small, extremely flexible and spirited (pardon the pun).  It must be said that, nothing we have done so far is "etched in stone." 


As a result, your being an early user of our site and its benefits, as well as an ongoing subscriber to our newsletter, will actually give you the ability to influence both the future design of our site and the direction of the company itself!  In other words, we fervently hope to help you, and we acknowledge unabashedly that WE NEED YOU!


We would like to know what you think about our company.  In order to achieve our aim, we will be adding a monthly survey to our site.  Please participate in this survey.  In exchange for doing so, we will reward you with special discounts and promotions.  Until then, please let us know how you feel about our website.  Tell us what you like and what you do not like.  We promise to listen and to improve so that you sill stay with us as we grow and will give us the opportunity to enhance your life by encouraging you to make your own FINE WINES!


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FEATURED ARTICLE - To Oak or Not to Oak


Oak is that mystical agent that, when added to certain wines, gives them an unparalleled complexity.  The tannins from the oak improve the body and the flavor of the wine.


Some of the kits sold by Fine Vine Wines, LLC contain oak chips or powder.  The most notable of these kits are the "big reds", these being Cabernet Sauvignon, Rosso Grande and Merlot. Other notable kits are the bolder whites, such as Chardonnay.  The oak is usually added during the primary fermentation phase and, by the end of the second racking, most of the oak has settled into the lees and has been left behind.


But what if you want more oak flavor?  Well, you basically have 2 options.  Either you can buy an oak barrel and age your wine in it, or you can add oak "beans" to your wine while it ages in your carboy.


Option One:


Use an oak barrel.  Before you decide to use an oak barrel, be sure to do your homework.  It is not as simple as just buying the barrel and dumping your wine in it.  I will not go into all of the pros and cons of using oak barrels at this point, but will say that I have never used an oak barrel and I have no immediate plan to do so.  But, if you want to consider using an oak barrel, here are a couple of pointers:


1. Always start with a new barrel.  Oak absorbs anything stored in it.  You cannot clean it out!

2. Once you use the barrel for wine, it can never be empty of wine for more than a day or two.  You cannot fill it with water - it has to be filled with wine - so you have to pre-plan how you are going to keep the barrel full of wine.

3. How big of a barrel can you handle?  Well, think how heavy a carboy full of wine is - that is only 5 gallons.  If you get a barrel bigger than 5 gallons, where are you going to put it so it does not have to be moved?


Option Two:


Use oak beans.  Although I must admit I have never used an oak barrel, I have used oak beans, with remarkable success.  Oak beans are not really beans.  They are actually pieces of oak cut into a half-inch cubes.  Both American and French oak are available in various degrees of toast.  I put twenty-one American Medium Toast beans into a Cellar Classics Chardonnay while the wine aged for 6 months in the Carboy.  Neither my wife, Janna, nor I could not believe the increased intensity and body of the wine compared to prior Chardonnays without the beans.


If you decide to use oak beans, as with all of your wine batches, be sure to keep a record of which beans you used, how many you used and how long they were in the wine.  If you have used oak beans, we would like to hear about your experiences.  I will write up some of them in future newsletters!




We have added 2 new wines from RJ Spagnols Orchard Breezin’ line,


3168 - Cranberry Chianti

3289 - Strawberry Riesling.


We have also added a number of additional items that we do not stock, but can special order for you.  Check our online catalog for all of the new special order items.  They are designated in the comments column of the catalog.




This month, along with the other specials listed on our website, we are offering a waiters corkscrew, item number 2901, FREE with every order over $25.00.  This item normally sells for $5.45, but it's yours, FREE, with your order of $25.00 or more.




Starting June 1, 2003, we have created the FVW Growers Club.  You can get all of the details on our website, but the bottom line is we want to buy your loyalty!  Once you spend $1,000 with us, you get a 5% discount on every future order with us!  Find out more on the website.




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