Monday, October 2, 2023

If You Can´t Tell Who the Wine Snob is in the Room, is it You?

Our last post was about the don'ts you should do centered around summer drinking and enjoying yourself. Today's post is going to go in the opposite direction. Let´s go over some of those snobby things wine people do and why you should care about them.

Swirling: Does it look pretentious to swirl a glass and smell the wine repeatedly? Evidently yes is the answer according to many of my non wine geek friends. I think it is not appreciated by some people because it isn't understood. Swirling the wine in the glass releases the aromas (what the grape naturally gave the wine) and the bouquet (what the winemaker did to it, such as malolactic fermentation and oak aging). This action allows the wine to reach further up in the glass so that you can stick your nose obnoxiously deep into said glass and detect more nuances from the wine as you smell it. Now why are you smelling it in the first place? Because your nose informs your palate and while your palate has the basic sensory evaluations, your nose can pick up 250 different scents giving your wine experience far more depth and enjoyment.

Spitting: I know, it IS gross. It also does seem to convey a snobby flare, usually since that person is also  taking notes like a dork and asking nerdy questions. I am that dork. The reason for it is to evenly compare wines. If I am going to go to multiple wineries in a day, I am the designated driver, or I am formally critiquing a wine, I need to spit. When you swallow wine, your senses dull and your ability to decipher subtle differences between wines wanes. Now, ideally the person spitting should be respectful of those around them and ask for a personal cup or dump bucket so that they are not spitting directly into the group dump bucket.

Decanting: One of the most common snobby wine impersonations I witness all the time is someone, with their face exaggerated into a form of distaste, announce "shall I decant this?!?" It usually gets a laugh from the group. There really isn't anything snobby about decanting except that it indicates you may know more about wine than your neighbor, or you know the party hack of putting a cheap wine in a decanter so no one will know what it is and assume it is expensive. Some ask if every single wine should be decanted. The answer is no, not ALL wine should be decanted. So, if you have been using this to try and sound like you know about wine, you actually outed yourself as not knowing what you were talking about. Decanting is great for a wine that is older and has sediment in it, but is most often used to speed up the aging process. A wine built to age shows a softening of the tannins and a taming of the fruit over time. A wine meant to age, but you simply can't wait to drink it, will benefit from decanting it. Another tip, don't get one of those fancy art looking decanters, they are tricky to pour  out of (especially the more you drink) and are a real pain to clean.

Now there are some wine snob things that no one should do because, well they are an a$$hole move. For example, correcting someone just is plain rude. If someone says they smell or taste something in the wine, they get to have that opinion! If the server screws up information about a wine (aside from bringing you the wrong bottle of course), don't correct them in front of everyone. If this is important information for the table to know, then share the correction after the server leaves. Also, don't put people on the spot demanding someone analyze a wine just because you like to do so. A great way to ruin the experience of drinking a nice glass of wine is to force someone that is insecure about their wine vocabulary or knowledge to speak up. And one of the rudest things wine snobs can do is serve one wine to a group while hiding the "good" wine for the serious wine drinkers in the kitchen or behind the bar. You never know who might be about to have their big ah-ha wine moment, be the person that helps them have it, not the person that keeps them from it.

In the end, it is all about enjoyment! If you have a question, ASK. Wondering why someone is doing something? ASK. Don't know about an area or grape? ASK. The server is there for exactly that, especially if you are at a winery or wine bar. Unsure if it is a cool move or a snobby one? Rule of thumb is to just be nice. If whatever you are attempting to do with the glass of wine in your hand can be done respectfully, politely, and without causing a scene, then by all means, swish the wine in your mouth, hold it up to the light, tell your friend who asked you about the wine all the fun facts you know, but if you start lecturing the entire room, ask people to move so you can get to the window for better light, or gurgle so loud it grosses out people, you are not being a snob, you are just being a jerk.

-Cheers from the Vivác Winery Family! 

 Written by Michele Padberg, co-owner of Vivac Winery. If you enjoy this blog, check out her personal blog Wine First Adventures

Wednesday, June 7, 2023

The Absolute Wine Don'ts You Should Do

Summer is here and that means you are asking yourself "What wine should I drink and how". It is a no brainer to say crisp white wines and roses, but what you might not realize is that the bold whites and even red wines have their place in the summer heat!

OK let's get the obvious out of the way... Vivac makes amazing rose wines. We have 2 currently, the Rose of Sangiovese and the Rose of Cabernet, and we plan to add to that list as we expand our vineyard varietals. These wines have won awards all over the world including a Double Gold at THE Rose Wine Competition. We also have the Estate 1725 Riesling and Estate 1725 Gruner Veltliner that have been winning awards and have their own cult following coming from our vineyards at 6,000 feet. All of these are AMAZING choices for your summer fun. Clearly you should buy these in bulk. 

Now, moving on...

Chardonnay, ahhh yes, the white wine with a sorted past. Once demonized for its overly buttery oaky personality, it has had a makeover, or maybe it is better to say it has been "Marie Kondoed" and striped down to only the most important elements. These mineral driven, unoaked, Chardonnays are beautiful and an easy addition to your quick grab selections (we've got a Gold Medal version for you to try), but it is the now rare oaked Chard that I want to highlight!

Buttery, oaked Chardonnay is domineering, yes, but it also morphs when paired with the right dish or atmosphere. Yep, you can pair wine with the atmosphere. From romantic picnics to campfire hangouts, or swanky restaurants to the sofa in your living-room, there is an atmosphere that causes YOU to react differently to the wine. We will skip over glassware for now, but that also plays a huge role. Oaked Chard is a wonderful choice for summer nights with its bigger body style and it pairs amazingly well with buttered popcorn! It can handle bolder foods so it is also great with anything off the BBQ that will carry some of that smoke mirroring the oak in the wine. Staying in? Lower the lights, snuggle into your favorite chair and watch a romantic comedy classic like "When Harry Met Sally", it is my go to oaky Chard favorite.

Reds are also fun to play with, here is the trick with these, put them in the fridge! WHAT?!? How dare I say such a thing! Yes, it is frowned upon to make red wine cold, but it is also true that the correct serving temperature for a red is based on that of a cold cellar in Europe, so lets keep our pants on when talking rules. I also venture to say, if you are having FUN and enjoying the wine in your glass, I don't care if you have fruit, soda and a straw with it, you rock on with your bad self.

How do you pick a proper red to chill? Some wines lend themselves to this, my personal fave is a Beaujolais Nouveau (have you been watching our social media? We are having a label contest to grace the bottle of our very first Beaujolais Nouveau style wine in honor of our 20 yr anniversary!!!). The bold fruit and deep tannins subdue when chilled and the combination is really delightful on a hot summer day. Other wines that do this well are Pinot Noirs, Italian reds like Sangiovese and Refosco, and Syrahs. Play with it, find your own favorite!

Chilled reds are also great for a multitude of summer foods including pie which I also recommend cold. Sure hot dogs and hamburgers are obvious choices, but if you are like my family and enjoy cold ribs and picnic salads, a chilled red can handle the intensity of these foods and not be too over powering that you can't taste the deviled egg grandma put in the potato salad. Call me a weirdo, but there is nothing quite as divine as a chilled Merlot with cold blueberry pie or a chilled Syrah with a cold cherry pie when its hot out.

Final bizarre advice for summer wine indulgence, club soda. A splash of cold club soda in a fruity white, rose or red immediately changes the dynamic giving it lift and tames the intense flavors of bolder wines, which is what we are looking for when we pick out summer wines. Plus, lets face it, bubbles make everyone happy. Welcome to the world of Wine Spritzers.

Wine Sprizters have been around for ages. They have also been looked down on for ages, but they do have their place! If you are spending hours out in the heat or drinking all day, you need to watch your alcohol intake. These homemade spritzers are perfect for the pool or lake, outdoor parties or brunch with friends. The sparkling water does change the pairings slightly so you will want to move up the scale. Foods that had been too delicate for a specific wine can usually handle it well when transformed into a spritzer. Sweet wines are an excellent choice for spritzers and a delightful treat when added to ice in the blender for a wine slushy. 

Is your mind blown? Are you eyeing your library of wine books wondering if they will be disgraced if they see you drinking wine like this? Let them! Let all the wine snobs in the world be horrified, you will be too busy enjoying yourself to care.

-Cheers from the Vivác Winery Family! 

Written by Michele Padberg, co-owner of Vivac Winery. If you enjoy this blog, check out her personal blog Wine First Adventures 

Thursday, May 11, 2023

Rose All Day, Yes Way! But how???

Spring has sprung in Dixon, NM! The trees are in bloom, the flowers are popping up and it is officially Rose Wine Season! Wait, did Rose Season ever end??? No, not really, it is a year round phenomenon, but now that Mother's Day is approaching and the sun is out, it certainly feels like there is an intensity driving sales. 

With so many options for Rose, how does one pick from the packed shelves, Facebook posts, magazine ratings, ads and what your friends claim are the best Rose wines? Well, you don't have to pick just one! Let's dive into selecting a Rose for every occasion. 

1st, a quick tip: any grape can be made into a sweet or dry wine. That process and decision is handled by the winemaker during fermentation. It is YOUR job to read labels and get to know regions. I know, no one likes homework, but I promise it will pay off. Or at least keep some cheat sheets in your phone to refer to when shopping. Basics fall into warm climate equal ripe fruit, cool climates equal higher acidity so if you are looking for a zesty, bright Rose, you want cool climate. If you want a bold fruity Rose, you want warm climate. Next you want to look at the type of grape. Pinot Noir makes lighter wines, Syrah makes richer wines, it still applies when making Rose. And the final, obvious aspect is the descriptions on the label. Yep, right there on the back label it will say "dry" (not sweet), "off dry" ( a little sweet), or "sweet" (we are talking really SWEET at that point). 

Rose Bubbly: Remember it can only be called Champagne if it is from Champagne, France, otherwise it is "sparkling wine", or in more popular vernacular "Bubbly". If you are still thinking you need a special occasion to open a bottle of Bubbly, you are way way WAY behind the times! Bubbles are for all day, every day, and a Rose Bubbly is one of the most versatile wines on the planet. Its high acidity is fantastic with everything from cheese, to hamburgers to dessert. Make sure you chill the entire bottle down (neck too) to 43*, really cold. Ever wonder why some sparkling wines spray out when you pop the cork? They weren't cold enough. This type of wine is a little tricky to shop for because they did things backwards and really dry is "extra brut", dry is "brut", while off dry is "extra dry" and sweet is "dry", and sweet sweet is "demi sec". Another tricky thing is the names other countries have decided to use for sparkling wines, such as; Prosecco (Italy), Cava (Spain), Cremant (rest of France) or Sket (Germany). Now Vivac doesn't currently have a Bubbly, but believe me, it is in the works. Until then, my easy go to for a quality, everyday Bubbly is Mumm or Chandon, with cost saving options coming from Spain (Cava) if you like a less sweet option and Italy (Prosecco) for a fruitier option. There are also plenty of cheaper labels like Yes Way Rose or Underwood in cans that are pretty great for the money. 

Light Bodied Rose Wines: These wines you can literally see in the bottle are lighter in color. That means less skin contact which makes for a more delicate wine.  These are great wines for day time parties (think bridal or baby showers) served with light finger foods. They make great brunch wines because they generally have higher acidity which handles the high fat foods beautifully. They are ideal for picnics and sunny days at the lake as they are refreshing. A fabulous example is our Rose of Sangiovese which last vintage won a Double Gold at THE Rose Competition and won a Gold just now at the LA Invitational International. Vivac Winery Rose of Sangiovese

Full Bodied Rose Wines: A darker color wine means a more robust flavor. These wines are generally made from the bigger, bolder grapes and a little more skin contact. These are the wines that can tackle the bigger foods like BBQ. They are perfect for evening soiriees and big parties where there are people that prefer whites and those that prefer reds, but come together to love Rose. Looking for a wine to sever at a pot luck? Definitely a bolder Rose! The perfect expression of this style is our Rose of Cabernet which won a Silver at the LA Invitational International, the TX International, and the Great American International. Vivac Winery Rose of Cabernet

Another amazing thing about Rose Wines? They make fantastic wine cocktails! A super simple option is to take a fruitier Rose and add a splash of sparkling water to it. Want to dress it up? Throw in some frozen fruit. Hot as hell outside, throw it in a blender with ice. Need a little extra kick? Add Rose to Gin or Vodka with a lemon wedge and a splash of cointreau over ice. 

Raise a glass with us, shout "Viva Vino!" and come enjoy a Rose Spritzer at our Tasting Room on Mother's Day!

Have a party, dinner, or day drinking in mind that you need help pairing? Message me at and I will happily help.

-Cheers from the Vivác Winery Family! Written by Michele Padberg, co-owner of Vivac Winery. If you enjoy this blog, check out her personal blog at Wine First Adventures

Thursday, February 9, 2023

Chocolate & Wine 101, What You Really Need to Know

Chocolate & Wine Pairing Tips are everywhere you look this time of year so what can we say that you don’t already know? 

First thing, let’s start with some advice. Don’t wait for someone to create a Valentine’s Day extravaganza for you, take control and do it yourself. Second, invest in quality chocolate and quality wine. It might seem obvious to some, but I can’t tell you how many people want an out of this world pairing, but are using grocery store cheap chocolate and bottom shelf wines. Now I’m not saying this isn’t a FUN combination and one I absolutely encourage at Halloween, but for a truly memorable “experience” quality counts. 

Alright, let’s get this party started! 

1) White Chocolate with fruity white like a Sauvignon Blanc with lots of character. Want to swoon with the pairing? Add nuts to the chocolate! (Try Vivác Gruner, Chard or dry Riesling)

2) Milk Chocolate with light bodied reds like a juicy Pinot Noir. Want to swoon with the pairing? Add rich caramel! (Try Vivác Pinot Noir or Nebbiolo)

3) Dark Chocolate with fruity bold reds like Merlot. Want to swoon with the pairing? Add spice like red Chile powder! (Try Vivác Abbott Merlot, Aglianico or Diavolo)

4) And a great way to always win is to pair the chocolate with port! Want to swoon with the pairing? Add cheese! Yes, add cheese, preferably a hard aged flavorful one like aged white cheddar or Parmesan. (Try Vivác Amante port style wine)

Is that it you ask? Well, we could get into a bunch of nuances, but this is a great way to cheat your way into looking like a pro. Want to dive deeper? I gave a Master class on redefining chocolate and wine pairings at the American Wine Society National Conference this past year. I lead participants through the WHY of these powerful endorphin releasing substances and how they effect your brain on their own and then in combination. Adding a 3rd element not only delights your palate, but these combinations can reduce cortisol (the stress hormone), alleviates pain, produces feelings of bliss and even love! 

Thursday, January 26, 2023

What a Wild Ride! Looking Back Over 20 Years

20 years is a really long time. When you are young and think about "where will I be in 20 years?" it seems so far off in the future that anything could be possible! For 4 incredibly naive, enthusiastic wine geeks in the tiny community of Dixon, New Mexico, it was a finish line. 

25 years ago, Jesse and his brother Chris (not yet 21 years old) put into motion the dream of creating a winery. This winery wouldn't just be a side project like many of the wineries they saw around them, wineries that were filled with retired men from other professions, but a winery with purpose, focus and momentum to exact change on the industry. Lofty aspirations? Absolutely! But it is the young, brash, egocentric that make things happen right? 

The goal was to make truly dry European style wines, from NM fruit, and put NM on the global wine map. These brothers also hoped to get married, have kids, raise their families in Dixon and have a built in support to allow each family to travel for extended durations. 

Liliana and I joined the team, amazingly at the same time, when she moved from Mexico to New Mexico to be with Chris. I had rekindled my relationship with Jesse and decided not to continue my plan to move to New York City. The 4 of us were sure we would be millionaires in 5 years. We thought we could sustain a highly productive, debt free winery out of a 800 square foot rastra block building. We thought we could rule the world from the childhood rooms of the winemakers. Yes, we had moved into the old adobe home the guys grew up in, grateful for every home-cooked meal their mother provided, every wonderful wine their dad opened, and every square foot of their farm they lovingly turned over to us. We heard the advice from those in the industry at the time who said we would fail if we made dry wines, said that we needed a dose of reality, and maybe we did, but we didn't sit still for a moment. 

Working other jobs to afford grapes, pay for school loans, buy barrels, buy groceries, buy bottles and corks and labels and and and... landed us on food stamps with house-sitting jobs. We definitely did NOT have a million dollars. But 5 years after Liliana and I joined the team in 2001, we had built and opened our Dixon tasting room, gotten married (yep, we did that at the same time too) and were on our way to starting families. Our dry wines had become something of a cult attraction after we showed up to wine festivals with giant 'No Sweet Wines' banners. We were actually struggling to keep up with the demand for product. Believe it or not, even with the constant stress and around the clock work, it was a really fun time in our lives. 

Now as we celebrate our tasting room's 20 year anniversary, it is amazing to look back and recognize how far we have come. It is incredible that we struggled to grow this winery year after year after year. Conversations where we all wondered if we were going to make it through another winter. Times when hiring help meant we didn't pay ourselves. Times when we suffered heartbreak after discovering someone stealing from us. The betrayal after putting your heart and soul into building something, then having someone take from it hurts immeasurably. Through it all, we stayed determined to meet our goal. 

Today we can proudly say that we have won gold medals for our wines around the world. We have had the most revered wine critic, James Suckling from Wine Spectator Magazine, say our Refosco wine was up there with some of the very best from Italy. We can boast wine ratings in the 90s and have stellar reviews in so many magazines, blogs, shows and podcasts we've lost count! Along the way we have also gathered certifications, continued education, extensive travel, phenomenal opportunities and an amazing platform to shout to the world that New Mexico Wine is here to play. 

If you follow our social media, you know all about the incredible events, competitions and publications we have contributed to. We believe in building up our industry and guiding in the new generations, of which there are many. We are thrilled to have been able to assist change as we took NM Wine to New York, Washington, France, Germany, Italy and everywhere in between. When our friend's wineries have a win, we celebrate with them. When our industry takes strides forward partnering with organizations like the tourism department, we raise a glass. And when our children took jobs with the winery, we beamed with pride. 

20 years have gone by in a flash. The signs of growth are sprawling vineyards over the hillside, packed patios and fine lines around our eyes. I'd say we wish for more looking toward the next 20 years, but I don't know that there is more we can wish for. We have continued to be a dynamite foursome making our dreams come true. We have put New Mexico on the global wine map and will continue to do so with international events, showcases, classes and maybe a few things we have up our sleeves. One thing is for sure, the next 20 will be less about struggling to get somewhere and more about holding on tight to this rocket of success. It sure feels good to be 20 years down the road from where we started.

Thank you to each and every one of you who have bought wine, come to drink in the view, watched our videos, read our blog, liked our posts, attended our events and told friends about us. You managed to raise 4 wild kids and turn them into thriving winery owners. I'd say we've grown into adults, but have you met us? 

Final note:
With excitement, we announce that we will make our very first “Beaujolais Nouveau” style wine! As far back as the 1800s, Beaujolais Nouveau producers would gather to celebrate the end of the harvest by toasting the vintage with some of the young wine produced that year. Traditionally using the Gamay grape, we are using our incredible 1725 Estate Vineyard Pinot Munier. This very special wine needs a very special label, so we are having a LABEL CONTEST! We want you to be a part of our story, open this wine in October when we release it, and cheers with us. If you have a label idea, check out the guidelines to participate here . 

-Cheers from the Vivác Winery Family! Written by Michele Padberg, co-owner of Vivac Winery. If you enjoy this blog, check out her personal blog at Wine First Adventures

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

New Year, New You?

Happy New Year! The confetti flies, sound makers sound and glasses of Champagne clink... but do you change? No, of course not. If you are anything like me, you make the vow to cut back on drinking, swear to eat better and to start that exercise plan you downloaded, all of which you immediately fail at because you are hungover. FYI the best hangover cure is a spicy Bloody Mary, eggs, bacon and toast. Needless to say this delays a "fresh start".  

Many people, better people than I am, over the years have kicked the year off with "Dry January", a tradition I see less and less of since the pandemic. Sure you might lose weight, get more done and actually start back at the gym, but come Mardi Gras, it seems those same people are in rare form to catch up. Instead of the black and white, all or nothing plan, what if we have "DAMP" January? 

This leads me to suggest a kick-start your palate workout as your new year, new you plan. Sure cut back on the drinking, maybe select a specific day to open something special or a specific number of drinks a week you are allowed, but don't go DRY... errrrr unless your Doctor has suggested it which probably means you need to listen to them. 

How does one kick-start their palate and more importantly why should someone do that? The plan is simple, you are going to retrain your brain and receptors so that you can actually enjoy more of the world's wines! It is a huge world out there full of incredible art in a bottle, but it will remain closed off to you if you stay in a rut. Don't think you are in a rut? If you have recently tried a wine outside your usual go to and said "I don't like this kind of wine", you are in a rut. OK OK OK slow down! I can hear you argue with me even as I type! Yes, there is such a thing as a wine not being to your personal palate (which by the way is the correct way to tell someone that has opened a wine for you that you don't love, or God forbid you are telling a winemaker that they have a "bad wine" when really it isn't that it is bad, but simply not a match for you). But I promise you can train your palate to open up and appreciate a new style of wine! Always drink Pinot Noir from cool climate regions and "hate" Napa Cabs? Only drink bold, fruity wines and "hate" the lean acid driven ones? I promise, you are shutting yourself off from a world of adventure, love, happiness, success and riches! Yes all those things may be only found in your mouth through this exploration, but better there than not at all am I right?

Here is the deal, when someone first starts off drinking wine, they like fruity white wines, then they discover jammy reds, then they come back to appreciate crisp whites, followed by structured reds and finally learn to appreciate a finely made dessert wine. There are also people that stop exploring and stick to a zone that they inevitably tire of and claim wine just isn't as exciting or that they just don't like it they way they used to. Imagine if you actually only ate tacos for every single meal... bad example because tacos are amazing and I'm pretty sure I could eat them for every meal and never get tired of them. Lets try grilled fish, you start having grilled fish every single day, at first you might love it, but over time you'd stop tasting the nuances, it wouldn't even matter if it was trout or salmon, it would be boring fish. You can actually tell a lot about where someone is at in their wine journey by asking them what their favorite wine is. Enough chit chat, lets get into how to kick-start your palate in a few easy steps!

*please assign a notebook to be your private wine journal. Take a moment with each wine you open to note the name, where it is from and at least some kind of description. If you can come up with more info about the wine such as if it has dark fruit, high acid or a smooth finish, definitely add that, but don't feel you need to. You can even describe a wine in non-wine terms, I've seen people use personality traits or even colors!

Step 1. Even if it is only in sets of 2, invest in glasses that have a cut rim, in a white wine and red wine size bowl. My go to is Reidel, but there are others out there. If it rounds at the rim, it is giving your palate a speed bump and the wine doesn't settle into your mouth properly.

Step 2. Try every wine you open in both glasses (small and big bowl). Pour an ounce in each, smell them back to back, taste them back to back. Try to pick out differences. (note it in your journal)

Step 3. Start smelling other things in the glasses. Herbs, fruit (peel vs. rind), grass, leaves, even the glass itself! Yes, I am serious, smell the empty glass. It may smell of musty sponge, soap, cabinet dust or have the residual of a previous wine. All of these things will taint the next thing you smell in the glass. Maybe you don't like the wine because it smells like the sponge you need to throw out. (note differences in smells from having it in your hand vs. in the glass)

Step 4. Now here comes the homework... once a week, do a comparison of the same grapes. And don't skip any even if you THINK you know the grapes, your likes, or the regions. Remember you are training your palate and your palate evolves and changes over time. Pick a time of day and try to stick to it. Eliminate distractions and other smells (don't do this while you are cooking). Pour wine #1 in a glass, pour wine # 2 in the same type of glass (mind the size of the pour, should be the same and only an ounce or two). Smell and compare, taste and compare, do not JUDGE, compare. Make notes on differences and similarities. Now do the same in the bigger bowled glass. Your opinion does not matter, it is comparing the 2. You will do this with the following:

Vivac Riesling vs Alsace Riesling or Finger Lakes Riesling
Vivac Chardonnay vs Chablis (Burgundy) or Russian River Chard
Vivac Rose of Sangiovese vs French Rose or Spain Rose
Vivac Pinot Noir vs Burgundy or Oregon Pinot Noir
Vivac Cabernet Sauvignon vs California Cab or South African Cab
Vivac Syrah vs Washington Syrah or Argentina Syrah

You get the idea, yes I did stick Vivac wines in there, they are winning gold medals around the world after all and represent a varietally correct (that is what we say in the biz for a grape showing through in a wine well, representing place and classic characteristics for that place) wine. You don't have to stick to this list, the idea is to pick 2 wines made of the same grapes from different places. Now COMPARE, what is the fruit like? Is it citrus? Berry? Herbs? Are they the same or different in the 2 glasses? Taste them, what flavors are you getting? Do you get an acid zing along the sides of your tongue? How dry is your tongue when you swallow? Is one wine bolder than the other? How are they alike? 

Step 5. Look up the region. You just tried 2 wines back to back, now learn about the wine growing regions! Cool climates (also high elevations like our winery) are leaner, higher acid with bright fruit and lots of complexity. These are in striking difference to warm climates that will have riper fruit, darker notes, bolder body and less acid. Now taste the 2 wines again after learning about the soil and climate, can you taste "place"? 

Step 6. Find a pairing. When you look up a wine region, they usually make note of pairings. You can also get a ton of info off a winery website so make sure to start there. Taste the wine, pay attention to fruit, acid, and tannin. Now take a bite of the food selected as the pairing (this can be as simple as a slice of cheese, some nuts or some other morsel you find in your fridge), then taste the wine again. How did it change? Even a bad pairing can tell you a lot, but a great pairing can really change your perception of a wine! Higher acid wines really need food, especially when you are acclimating your palate to them. Big bold wines need acid or fat to help cut the richness, again especially when acclimating your palate.

Step 7. Do it all again! Change up the regions, the wineries, add new grapes to the list, but remember to come back to this classic 6. The more notes you can make the better and using a wine aroma wheel will really help this learning experience.

I know this sounds like a lot, but you wanted to have a "new you"! There is nothing more amazing than appreciating new flavors, I promise, this will create a new you and open up a huge world of amazing experiences.

-Cheers from the Vivác Winery Family! Written by Michele Padberg, co-owner of Vivac Winery. If you enjoy this blog, check out her personal blog at

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Seeing the Glass as Much More Than Half Full

Thanksgiving is arriving this year with a delayed reaction and needing a little extra wine, don't you think? It is almost like everyone is just waking up from the fog of 2020, looking around and rubbing their eyes. Have we been dreaming for the last 2 years? Like an episode of The Twilight Zone, we try to get back to "normal" only to be haunted by little oddities. Oddities like standing in a pharmacy line for over 2 hours and simply accepting that these are the way things are... "half the staff is out with Covid". Or that the stores no longer carry the products you want, maybe it is toilet paper, maybe it is peanut butter, or most probable it is Frito's corn chips, a staple in Northern New Mexico diets. Most of us have settled into ordering things to be delivered directly to our homes or carried out to our cars. No longer do you need to do your own grocery shopping, as long as you don't mind that substitutions are a reality that doesn't quite make sense; no I do not want a gallon of lactose free milk, but will take 2 half gallons of regular milk you have in stock that equal the 1 gallon I ordered that you are out of. I've never tried to order wine from the grocery store, but I bet those substitutions would be entertaining. Masks are less routine than they were, but still a common sight and during a recent hormonal acne outbreak, a God send for me. One of the funniest oddities I recently encountered was the discussion at my house over seeing a highly anticipated movie. It went something like this...
"OMG (insert movie title here) is finally released!"
"No way! That is 100% what we are doing tonight." (keep in mind we rarely leave the house, especially at night)
"No, it is only in theaters."
"I know, weird."
"You are telling me I have to GO to a theater to see this thing? Why isn't it streaming?"
"I don't know. I don't know."
*you should know that we did not see the movie in the theater, but waited until we could stream it.

We used to love going to the movies. Now, it seems like a thing of the past and an unbelievable pain in the a$$. Drive-ins are coming back, something I love! It reminds me of being a kid. And as someone with an autoimmune disease, I love the idea of being in my own space. Not to mention, have you tried to watch a movie around other people? There are significantly different movie watchers... those that actually want to watch (hear) the movie and those that use the movie as a get together to catch up with friends. My point is, go for coffee people, SHUT UP if you are watching a movie! I digress, what was my point? 

Ahh yes, things have shifted, but they are close enough to "normal" now that it makes the last 2 years feel like a blur. They did take place though, they did have an impact, and I want to take this opportunity, on Thanksgiving, to be thankful for everything that has happened since the early months of 2020.

The pandemic caused shutdowns for our winery, like everyone, but also ran a course of fear through our quiet little community. In the early days no one knew what to believe so it wasn't that odd, but was deeply offensive, that friends, neighbors in fact, screamed across social media that we were inviting bus loads of out of state people to our business. Meanwhile we were diligently washing bags of chips and sanitizing outdoor tables, had pick-up only sales and turned everything into a virtual reality. What was amazing, was all the other people that saw the lengths we went to to support our staff and protect our customers. The number of people that made sure to order wine for themselves and friends, it kept us going while many other businesses closed permanently. It was incredible to see the sense of support and love for our families and the winery. It was truly heartwarming to feel so much love come our way.The strange pandemic time also forced us to find ways to engage with people in brand new ways! Thinking outside the box was maybe one of the best gifts we can be thankful for.

Turning to virtual ways of communicating was a challenge. Zoom became an integral part of every day, but also allowed for us to do tastings all across the country and even around the world! How had we never had the idea of connecting with people in this way? It seemed so barbaric that pre-pandemic, someone had to physically come see us or attend an event in order to learn about us. Now I was giving wine lectures to the UK Circle of Writers with members in Hong Kong and throughout Europe. Mini videos assisted people on our website and East Coast American Wine Society Chapters held virtual tastings with members nestled privately in their homes, samples sent to their doors, to learn about a little winery in the desert of the Southwest. Now I can't imagine not having this vital business tool of virtual meetings! I am so grateful for the reach we have gained by this forceful hand. It is a new normal making a big difference.

We have also won so many incredible awards for our wines over the last 2 years! Gold medals in Germany, Italy, coast to coast across the USA and reviews that make my winemakers blush. Yes, I hand carried these wines to competitions around the world, and yes I did do this during a global pandemic while having an autoimmune disease, but I have to say, it was maybe the very best way to see these places, especially in the beginning. The high alert made everything cleaner, have less people and become more beautiful. My family and I traveled to the deep south of Mexico in 2020 with such great success that I returned to competitions across Europe at the beginning of 2021. I found the beauty of exploring cities, with negative PCR tests in hand in order to enter museums, restaurants and shops even with vaccine proof and wearing a mask, an asset. Having a seat between myself and my neighbor at the Opera was lovely! Having the time to linger longer in front of your favorite painting without being edged out has its perks and having everyone wash their hands religiously was fantastic, I went years without a cold! I also loved how patios expanded and heaters were put up, something we did at our own Tasting Room as well and absolutely love. Not sure why we didn't make those changes sooner.

I personally was also afforded amazing opportunities to work on great projects like being a contributor and part of the Editorial Board for The New Normal in the Wine Business e-bookWe exceeded the TEN THOUSAND VISITORS LIMIT on the site! 45% of readers were from the USA, 17% from the Czech Republic followed by France ( 7,0%), China and India (5,5% each), Great Britain and Germany (4,8% each), followed by Macedonia, Canada, Russia, and Brazil. I published pieces in Sommelier Magazine, Edible and wrote as a guest on several blogs as well as my own. I added prestigious International Wine Competitions such as Berliner Wein Trophy, Mondial des Vins Blanc, and Mondial des Vins Extremes to my resume. I hosted a New Mexico tasting experience for dignitaries at the American Consul-General's home in Strasbourg, France and had extraordinary reviews of my Master Wine Classes I've taught (in the company of Kevin Zraly and Robert Mondavi Jr). Of course all of these personal wins are wins for Vivac Winery and NM Wine in general. I am always honored to represent my family and our friends in the industry.

There have been so many ups and downs, with family, with friends and of course with Covid, but wouldn't you agree that this Thanksgiving we can look back over the last 2 years and see a truly transformative trajectory that has brought us to today? It feels good expecting less yet feeling happier, needing less to feel fulfilled, and rejoicing in the little things. Once again we focus on the simple joy of sharing great food and fabulous wine with those you love. Or if you are on your own for the holidays, enjoying great food ordered to go with a movie you can stream from your warm, comfy sofa, and a bottle of wine from your favorite winery (hint hint) that you get to have all to yourself. Let's all raise a glass, no matter where you find yourself this holiday, waking up from a pandemic blur to find our glasses brimming with goodness.

-Cheers from the Vivác Winery Family! 
Written by Michele Padberg, co-owner of Vivac Winery. If you enjoy this blog, check out her personal blog at Wine First Adventures