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In This Issue
 Is ritual necessary? The newfangled screw cap comes off the bottle with no muss, no fuss. But some wine enthusiasts like to add a little ceremony.
 Weingut H. u. M. Hofer 2004 Niederösterreich Grüner Veltliner Trocken ($10.99/1 liter)
A bargain-basement price and a lowly beer-style cap deliver a simple but fresh, crisp and quaffable Austrian white wine.
 The California Wine Club Mother's Day Is Sunday! Last chance to order.
 This week on Forum participants discuss 100-point ratings for a Washington winery, offer tips on buying a wine cellar, and offer a poll on how we like our eggs.
Last Week's Wine Advisor Index The Wine Advisor archives.
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Beer-bottle cap
If you think a screw cap isn't all that classy, check out the "crown cap" that gives this modest Austrian white a beer-bottle look.
Is ritual necessary?

For many of the wine enthusiasts who have already embraced the once-maligned metal screw cap as an appropriate seal for fine wines, its casual simplicity is part of the appeal of the alternative closure. Unscrew the cap, pour the wine; no muss, no fuss, and best of all, no snob factor.

But wine lovers who enjoy the brief ritual that attends the extraction of the traditional cork feel that there's something missing in a quick, careless unscrewing. Indeed, for restaurant sommeliers, who make a living out of mastering wine minutiae, an opening procedure devoid of ritual could be a professional threat.

No worries, mate ... those crafty sommeliers Down Under have already come up with a nifty little uncapping scheme that's sufficiently tongue-in-cheek to elicit more of a smile than a snobby sneer.

The procedure is simple, much easier to master than the dreaded corkscrew: Grasp the cap firmly with one hand, and gently rotate the bottle under it with the other, breaking the seal with an audible, satisfying "crack." Then place the loosened cap against your forearm (tuxedo optional) and roll it down toward your hand, timing the move so the cap comes off just as the bottle rolls into your palm. Present the cap with a flourish if you wish. There's no need to sniff it, but you're welcome to do so if it pleases you.

Is this ritual necessary? Of course not! Is it fun? I think so, although the answer to that question may depend on your sense of humor. The Aussie wine geeks who first told me about it thought it hilarious, and claimed it was an Australian invention, although my Kiwi wine pal Sue Courtney ( insists that it came originally from New Zealand, in a video produced by the good folks at Villa Maria when they went over to the alternative closure years ago. One thing's certain: The idea almost had to come from Down Under, where producers in both countries have led the charge toward screw cap closures for wines of quality.

Meanwhile, if you think the screw cap is declassé, I expect you'll be horrified by the closure on today's tasting, a modest but surprisingly fetching Austrian Grüner Veltliner from H. und M. Hofer, packaged in a stubby green jug that looks almost like a beer bottle, and closed with a beer-style "crown cap" that submits to neither corkscrew nor uncapping twist but the humble "church key."

Hofer Weingut H. u. M. Hofer 2004 Niederösterreich Grüner Veltliner Trocken ($10.99/1 liter)

This is a very pale straw-color wine with a tinge of brassy green. White fruit aromas, citric and limey, are pleasant if a bit on the delicate side. Simple but fresh flavors are consistent with the nose, crisp citrus, medium body and zippy acidity. I don't find much in the way of Grüner minerality as the vine is first poured, but a bit of pleasant "woolly" character develops as the wine warms in the glass. U.S. importer: Michael Skurnik Wines, Syosset, N.Y., A Terry Theise Estate Selection. (May 7, 2006)

FOOD MATCH: Food-friendly GV works with veal, pork, poultry and seafood, and it's becoming a go-to wine for spicy Southeast Asian fare. It went beautifully with the bold flavors of veal polpette fashioned as "Italian cheeseburgers," shaped to fit squares of home-baked sage foccacia and topped with Point Reyes Blue.

VALUE: Ounce for ounce or milliliter by milliliter, the liter-size bottle is a fine value for just over $10. (Note also that this bottling is widely discounted; I've seen it at online vendors for as little as $7.50.) It may be a phantom value unless you're serving a group, though, as there's no way we're going to consume a liter over the course of an evening, and unless you pry off the beer-style cap with great care, it's hard to use it to re-cap the bottle.

WHEN TO DRINK: GV in general shows excellent aging potential for a white, and I don't doubt that this one would survive a few years in the cellar, but it's really meant for easy quaffing while it's young and fresh.

The Hofer Website contains plenty of information, but it's all in German. You'll find it at this link:

For English-language information, the U.S. importer's fact sheet on this wine is here:

Find prices and online vendors for Hofer Grüner Veltliner on

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California Wine Club
Mother's Day Is Sunday! Last chance to order with The California Wine Club

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Motherís Day is May 14th, why not give her what she really wants? A tasteful gift and the time to enjoy it!

This week on

Some highlights of recent articles on that I hope you'll enjoy:

Hot topics in our WineLovers' Community
Our WineLovers' Discussion Groups are the best places online to ask wine questions and participate in the civil and intelligent discussion of good things to eat and drink. In addition to our WineLovers Community on the Netscape/CompuServe service, we've just revamped our "classic" WineLovers Discussion Group (WLDG), the Internet's original wine forum, a non-commercial venue intended for serious wine conversations that range from apprentice-level to wine professionals. I hope you'll take the time to visit both of our forums today!

Quilceda Creek scores 100 - twice
One of Washington State's top wineries gets two perfect scores in Robert M. Parker Jr.'s Wine Advocate. WineLovers Discussion Group members ponder whether this is great news for Washington State or just more ratings-point silliness.

Shopping for a wine-cellar unit
Wine cooler, wine refrigerator, free-standing wine-cellar ... however you define it, shopping for one of these useful but pricey units can pose consumer challenges. WineLovers Community members offer tips to a new collector in this discussion:

How do you like your eggs?
Inspired by last week's Wine Advisor FoodLetter, this simple poll is self-explanatory: Will you have yours scrambled, fried, poached or boiled? You don't have to register to join the voting fun and watch the tally change.

Last Week's Wine Advisor Index

The Wine Advisor's daily edition is usually distributed on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays (and, for those who subscribe, the FoodLetter on Thursdays). Here's the index to last week's columns:

 Who's Assisi? (May 5, 2006)

 WT101 - Austria (May 3, 2006)

 Marilyn Merlot and the Naked Grape (May 1, 2006)

 Complete 30 Second Wine Advisor archive:

 Wine Advisor FoodLetter: The perfect fried egg (May 4, 2006)

 Wine Advisor Foodletter archive:

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For all past editions, click here


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Monday, May 8, 2006
Copyright 2006 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

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