Welcome to Poor Robert’s (Wine) Almanac

I dedicate this site to all the wine drinkers and new winemakers, not old line professionals.  “Poor Robert’s” will provide interesting wine related stuff with links to other (detailed) information that helps all who love wine understand wine terminology, varieties, history, and stylistic differences.  I am not trying to turn wine lovers into experts or critics, but rather to create a place where all can get reliable information enabling a better understanding of the wine world and an enhanced personal enjoyment of the various styles of wines. 

At this point in this sites evolution, I am pretty happy with its appearance and content, but like all things in life nothing is perfect and everything can be improved. So with the advent of my retirement from my 44 year career in the “real” world, I am giving this site a face lift and working on significantly upgrading my web development and blogging skills. Stay tuned. I know you will like what you see.  By the way, I still love the feedback.

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The World is a Battle Field

This Post has absolutely nothing to do with wine, except that wine can have a calming effect (in moderation) during stressful times. I re-posted this piece from one of my favorite (non-wine) blogger. It says what I feel more eloquently than I could and does so in a way that, at least in my case, up-lifts the spirit and provides an iota of hope that we (all men, women, children and the little creatures in this world) can live together in peace. May it be so.

Nenes Life

From the beginning of time we have been fighting each other because of our differences…in religion, in politics, in personal beliefs. 

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Will the Real Sangria Please Stand Up

I am, to a fault, a wine purest and don’t add anything to my wine, no ice, no sugar no fruit and certainly (not since my Fraternity days) don’t pour two wines in the same glass.  The days of pouring a gallon of Gallo Hearty Burgundy, a pint of Hawaiian Punch concentrate, four (each) Seven-up and Ginger ale into a wash tub with a block of ice (dry Ice if it was Halloween) , sliced fruit and lord knows how many pints of what-ever  hard liquor anybody brought to the party have long since passed.  I am sure this (or something similar) went by many names, but for those that don’t know it by another name, back in the day this concoction was known in my circles as a “Hairy Buffalo” , because  the next morning your mouth tasted like you had eaten a buffalo, hide and all.  Ah, those were the days.  Right, not so much from my current perch.

Well it is summer, and heat is upon us so somehow warm red wine may not fill the bill.  We always have a nice Sauvignon Blanc or Chablis, or Chenin Blanc chilled to perfection (37 to 40 degrees F).  But wait, how about a nice bottle of Sangria (over my dead body) that nobody really know what it contains.  If we want to do Sangria, let do it right just like the Spanish did.  I happen to have a recipe handed down through generations of my family ( say what! Minto’s Scottish).  Somehow a Spaniard must have slipped in.  In any case this is a recipe for authentic (unadulterated) Sangria.  Before I actually get to the recipe, I need to clarify that it calls for a Rioja, but getting a nice Rioja in the USA at a price you would waste on creating Sangria is not easy so I substitute any cheap red wine (sometimes white – Anything but Chardonnay – if I have fresh berries or  peaches).  If you pay more that $6.00 you have gone to up scale.

Now for the Recipe:

Make a simple syrup:
Boil 2 cusp water
Add 2 cups bakers sugar (fine but not powdered)
Stir until melted and pour half into two quart mason jars.

Make it into Sangria Syrup:

Cut one large Orange, Lemon and Lime and add half to each jar.
Let the liquid cool to room Temp and put them in the Frig.

Create the Sangria:

fill a Kool-aide style (glass) pitcher half full of ice cubes, add 3/4 cup of the simple syrup, add a half dozen of the citrus slices from the jars, and fresh fruit (apples, peaches, pears, oranges, berries, etc.) to the pitcher. Pour in a single bottle of wine (red or dry white). Chill until ready to serve.


Fill 12 to 16 oz. tumblers, with ices and some fruit pieces from the pitcher and then fill with Sangria mixture. it is ready to drink – Enjoy.


Some like to add a couple of shots of brandy or dark rum to the mixture, but I am a purist and drink mine just as the Spaniards have for centuries.


The Simple Syrup will keep in the Frig for the whole summer, though it seldom makes it.
Also I have been known to make a batch without the ice and fruit, have a glass and pour the rest back in the wine bottle, cap it, refrigerate it and drink it over a period of days (up to a week) by just pouring it in a wine glass with or without ice and fruit( no frills).
I really like using a Cab as my base, but a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc, or while blend really work well. If you want it fruity, try it with the Zinfandel.

Winter Use:

If you substitute a garnish bag filled with equal parts, whole clove, allspice, broken cinnamon sticks (add star anise if your brave) for all the citrus but the Orange, the syrup makes a great base for hot mulled wine.  Simply omit the ice part, heat the wine, pour into mugs with an unbroken Cinnamon stick and you have a nice mulled wine to take the chill off winter evenings.

Bon Appetite

Posted in Red Wine, Sangria, Varietals, Whimsy, Wines | Tagged , , | 9 Comments

Nasty, smelly wine!

This one is for those of my readers who wonder about what “corked wine” mean. Ian has such a great way to make complex issues simple.

Wine talks and tastings

Ians mugshotYou open a bottle of wine and instead of the lovely, fresh appealing aromas you were hoping for, a nasty smell hits your nose. Something is obviously wrong, but what? – and what, if anything, can you do about it?

It depends on the smell. Perhaps the most likely is a musty, mouldy smell. This suggests a ‘corked’ wine. Corked wine is nothing to do with bits of cork floating about in the glass, which are harmless (take them out with a spoon or your finger and be more careful opening the bottle next time) – but is the result of a problem in the cork production process which has tainted the cork, which, in turn, has spoiled the wine. Nothing you can do except take the bottle back for a replacement or refund.

Another possibility is the wine might smell a bit like sherry or vinegar and a white…

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The End of the Cork?

I follow a lot of wine bloggers, but Ian is one of the more authoritative and reliable. I happen to agree with him on the use of corks, but I wonder if we will ever see the day when it is all screw caps. At 69, I doubt it will happen in my lifetime.

Wine talks and tastings

CorksHow long before the practice of using a cork to seal a wine bottle is consigned to history? It may not happen in 5 years or even 10, but corks are on their way out. In a tasting I ran recently, 5 wines out of 6 were under screwcap. And it’s not only the cheapest bottles that no longer need a corkscrew – these 5 were all good quality wines around £8 – £10. Nor is the trend restricted to the New World; producers in some of the most traditional Appellations of France are also switching: I’ve opened a Chablis and a Crozes-Hermitage recently – both had screwcaps.

For more than 200 years, the cork has been the most commonly used method of sealing a wine bottle. Provided it’s kept moist (which is why bottles should be stored on their side), the cork swells to fill the neck of the…

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The Billionaire’s Vinegar–A Tale of the Other Wine World

Billionaires Vinegar

My world of wine exists for my enjoyment and the enjoyment of hundreds of others who  sip, pair and socializing with a glass of wine in our hands.  I recently read a books entitled “The Billionaires Vinegar” which tells the story of the other world of wine; the one of excesses, deceit and collection for collections sake.  The story, half history and half memoir revolves around the sale of a cache of Chateaux Lafite from the 1870s belonging to Thomas Jefferson found in the 1960’s and sold at auction in London.  Not much of a page turner, but when they discovered it to be a fraud, the story brightens a lot.  The amazing excesses that surround the wine auction and collector’s world feigns reality, but strikes right at the heart of todays wine industry and it’s simplicity and genuine nature.  This dichotomy defines the two worlds of wine; mine and he Billionaires

The Washington Post reported last week that a Swiss Auction house pulled numerous lots of 1980’s Burgundy from it’s sale amid allegations that some or all of it was in fact fake.  Why create fakes when there is so much great wine out there to enjoy?  It seems, like identity theft, that picking on the “haves” is an okay way to redistribute the wealth.  Sadly with a supply of the right paper stock, a good color laser copier, a supply of bottles, properly stamped corks and the right foil, faking rare wine is not that hard.  We now have a whole industry devoted to sleuthing out fake wines.

My point in all this; Poor Robert’s is about wine that the masses can enjoy and not have to worry whether the wine we review is real or fake.  I know if I like a wine, I know if it’s a good wine and one that can stand a little more age before drinking, but in the end they will all be consumed, not collected for profit, maybe for fun, but never for profit.  My world of wine features the winemakers that actually toil in the wine sheds making real wine for real people. It’s about the real people who buy wine on line, in wine shops or supermarkets and do it just to enjoy the taste and society that a nice affordable bottle of wine bring.  To those who turn their noses up at  affordable wines because they lack a perfect balance, I shed a tear.  they have missed the true joy of wine; the seeking, the finding and most of all experiencing new and different flavors and sensations.

To the real wine drinkers, I say rejoice as you represent the best of Today’s wine world, those who enjoy for the sake of enjoyment and not for the sake of appearing better than someone else, just because you can.

Posted in Whimsy, Wine Making, Winemakers, Winemaking, Words, Writing | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

Frankie, my dear, I don’t give a damn

I saw this on one of the blogs I follow and found it both interesting and funny. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Frankly Wines

Inspired by a comment from Mr Richie Magnier of The Motley Cru, here are 10 wines / grapes / regions / producers with some connection – however tenuous – to the name FRANKIE!  If this seems somewhat vain, well maybe it is, but hopefully also a bit of fun…

1. Cabernet Franc (Loire & Bordeaux)

Cabernet-franc From Viala & Vermorel – Ampélographie

So we kick off with one of the classiest Francs around, a stalwart black grape of Loire and Bordeaux that’s also becoming quite trendy in Argentina.

In Bordeaux it’s a useful blending component on both Left and Right banks, especially as it ripens before its offspring Cabernet Sauvignon.  In fact, in Bourg, Saint-Emilion and Pomerol it’s not usual for “Cabernets” plural to indicate a mix of the two without giving their relative proportions.

In the Loire Cab Franc is important in Saumur, Chinon, Anjou and Bourgueil.  It’s often a…

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Repurposing Wine Barrels – Just Cuz I Could

In retirement I make furniture, usually finely finished stuff.  Recently I got a commission to make a pair of bar stools out of  wine barrel staves and the metal barrelWine Table strapping.  They are still a work in progress as I sculpture the seats and create the barrel stave backs.  Last week was an indoor week here and I was not motivate to spend the days with my chisels and gouges so looking for something to do, I struck on the concept for a rough cocktail (patio) table, made out of the barrel scraps, that used the rustic beauty of the natural wine stain on the inside of the barrel.

Well, the whole project took me less than a day start to finish and I now have two identical tables.  While this photo doesn’t do the coloring justice, they are sturdy functional and a great conversation piece.  I  used a clear exterior water sealer as the finish.  They were super simple if you have a band saw (a hand held jigsaw will do if you are careful), a bottle of exterior wood glue, a couple of  24” clamps, 12 woodscrews and a 9”x 9”scrap of hardwood to make the sub base to support the tables legs.  You can buy all the material you need for this project at Lowes or Home Depot for less than $45.00.  They carry half barrels (good for 0ne table) in the garden department and all the rest is scattered throughout the store.  If anybody is interested, send me an e-mail at rminto@bigsky.net and I’ll provide more detailed instructions and more photos. 

Posted in Barware, Cocktails tables, Craft Furniture, Hodgpodge, Wine Barrells | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

A Wine Sample Policy, Say What!!

You heard it correctly, a wine sample policy.  It’s the craziest thing, I’ve always purchased the wine and other products I wrote about in my blog and never gave having a sample policy a thought.  Well I am now getting offers and requests and when I reached out to several other wine reviewers and bloggers, I found that I am not alone and many found having a policy in place to avoid any misunderstandings became a necessity.  So I have pieced together the following from the best of what other reviewers use. 

I  happily accept wine samples and wine-related products to  feature and review in my blog.  All  reviews will be my personal unbiased opinion therefore, I do not  guarantee a favorable review, nor do I grant prepublication editorial rights. All I promise: my reviews will be completely honest and I will publish my reviews promptly and in the order I receive the sample and the request.

I also enjoy wine-related travel. If you would like for me to come visit your winery and share my experience with my readers, I will be very happy to do so. You may contact me at rminto@bigsky.net .  If it’s not too far from Missoula, MT or I can arrange it around another existing trip I am happy to do it at my own expense, however if you want me to go to Argentina Israel or France, etc.  (not holding my breath) we may need to discuss the cost.

I am still trying to figure out where to put this in my Website to make it most conspicuous, any ideas will be appreciated.

Posted in Argentine, France, Hodgpodge, Sample Policy, Samples, Whimsy, Wine Samples, Wine Tasting, Winemakers, Wines | Tagged , , , | 9 Comments

Fancy a personal wine waiter? Meet Somm

This post by my collaborator the Wine Culturist was simply too good to not pass on. People always ask how to learn about wine. Well there is the old fashioned way trying them all and keeping good notes or there is the Techie way with SOMM. I love this concept, but I fear that I am too set in my ways to get full advantage of it. Enjoy

The Wine Culturist

To kick off my new Wine Chat series please allow me to introduce the craft beer fanatic and startup whiz Michael Werner. Yes, you did read that right, my wine lover friends. I said the b-word. Michael co-founded the groundbreaking SYNEK company which is transforming the beer industry with its innovative countertop dispenser system. Proud owners of SYNEK units can enjoy a fresh glass of virtually any beer available on draft without having to trot down to the local pub (or bar for my dear American readers).

To complete the modernization of our home bars, the SYNEK team have now come up with Somm which works just like your own personal wine waiter. Using special 2.25 litre wine cartridges called Sylos, Somm ensures that you get a perfect pour with every glass of wine by chilling and aerating the wine just as the winemaker him/herself would serve it. Oh and…

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The Weekly Wine for April 24, 2016

Katy Michaud stands at the head of the class of new and inspired winemakers recruited by Naked Wines to  join in the fun of producing wine for their, over 100,000, Angels who crowd fund all NW wine production. The Katy Michaud, 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley represents her second Angel offering and it is a great offering indeed.

I tasted this wine over the period of five days, never evacuating air from what remained in the bottle. Day one it presented as very tight.  I decanted it for two hours and  it open up and began show its true character. It drank very nicely and paired well with a heavy meal greasy gravy laden meal. Given more time in the bottle it will pair well with lighter meals but for now it really compliments big earthy flavors. I would drink this wine with any hearty stew or Cassoulet. Day five, it opened up  nicely right out of the bottle and its complexity began to show through. The nose and the flavors developed and I could really get a sense of the layers upon layers of complex notes in the nose and on the palate  that make this wine a screaming deal.

What I have left (three bottles) I will hold on to for a while perhaps as long as five years. I am not a big fan of most Washington Cabs as I find them young, light and generally overpriced for the quality, but Katy really nailed this one as having a solid foundation to be a big Cab, and priced it really, really well for its quality at this age. If this wine lasts five years in my cellar it will compare very well to any Cab from anywhere in the $100.00 retail price range. At NW Angel pricing it is an absolute steal at $13.99 and a smart buy even at retail $24.99

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