• Insider Secrets 2021: Fining and Filtering Wine

    Discover with Case by Case the benefits of Fining and Filtering Wine, and how do these processes impact a wine’s quality. Most winemakers around the world use fining and filtering as part of their tool set, though some winemakers reject them.

    Let’s look at why or why not winemakers choose to fine or filter their wines, and how these processes impact wine quality.

    Definition of Natural Wine

    “Natural wine refers to a generalized movement among winemakers for production of wine using simple or traditional methods. Although there is no uniform definition of natural wine, it is usually produced without the use of pesticides or herbicides and with few or no additives.”

    This broad definition leaves enough leeway to drive several freight trains through. Europeans have been making wine with “simple and traditional” methods for centuries.

    The natural wine movement rose as a rejection of large-scale wine production and the use of chemicals.

    Leading natural wine advocates, Alice Fearing and Isabel Legeron, added their definitions. Natural wines are made from organically farmed grapes. They are processed without additives and without removing naturally occurring compounds.

    So, no fining or filtering allowed, or even the use of sulfur (SO2.)

    Most of today’s wide range of natural wines look, taste, and feel different from fined and filtered wines. They can look cloudy or muddy, show muted or less vibrant colors, or even contain floating particles that can be gritty in the mouth. Others are more forgiving.

    As an organic product, wine suffers from bacterial contamination. Fining and filtering are used for stabilization, inhibiting bacteria, and improving a wine’s appearance and drinkability.

    These winemaking tools perfect the look, feel, taste, and ability to age of most wines. Think of these tools as wine’s “finishing school.”

    Fining and Filtering

    The Wine Fining Process

    Winemakers use fining to remove solid particles remaining after fermentation. A clear wine looks more appealing in the bottle than one with particles floating in it.

    Wines with too much tannin can benefit from fining. These wines can be unbalanced, so removing some tannins brings the wine in balance.

    Other reasons for fining include reducing bitter flavors, undesirable aromas, and color changes due to oxygen exposure.

    During barrel aging, a binding agent such as clay, egg whites, or gelatin is introduced. This agent attaches to the debris in the wine. The debris falls to the bottom of the tank and the liquid is racked off the remains.

    Winemakers fine both red and white wines. White wines are fined to remove yeasts and avoid malolactic fermentation. Red wines are fined to clarify the wine or to remove tannins.

    Fining in white wines results in brighter colors after the removal of the yeast. Removing tannins in red wine lightens the color, but not perceptively so.

    Mouthfeel improves from fining because no one wants to drink wine with particles they can feel on the tongue. It’s like drinking funky, muddy water.

    But the more fining a wine undergoes, the greater the impact on the wine. Too much fining can remove compounds that add character and nuance to a wine, such as mouthfeel, color, aroma, and flavor. Removing too much tannin from red wine could impact its ability to age.

    Winemakers should take care when fining a wine. They should use this tool to balance the wine’s elements and provide a pleasant experience for the drinker.

    The Wine Filtering Process

    Filtering takes place after fining but before a wine goes into the bottle. Fining comes first to remove large debris. Then filtering further clarifies the wine by removing any residual particles. It also provides bacterial stabilization.

    As with fining, red and white wines can be filtered. The process entails pouring wine through filter pads or cartridges to remove yeast and bacteria. The more a wine is filtered, the greater the impact.

    Stabilizing wine is critical because unfiltered wines run the risk of contamination. Filtering is necessary to remove and prevent bacteria. If winemakers find evidence of bacterial growth or other significant flaws, filtering benefits the wine. If a wine has no flaws, filtering becomes a choice.

    Winemakers filter white wine to inhibit bacteria from growing in the bottle. Filtering white wine can prevent malolactic fermentation from occurring by removing leftover yeast.

    Red wines are not always filtered because they drop tannins anyway in the form of sediment. Because they are vinified dry and undergo malolactic fermentation, red wines experience less bacterial risk from excess yeast.

    A filtered wine has a cleaner appearance, without haze or particles. But, excess filtering can remove aromatic and flavor compounds and reduce a wine’s ability to age.

    Other filtering methods include adding sulfur (SO2) or racking after fining for red wines. White wines too delicate for filtering can be subject to cold stabilization as an alternative.

    Most winemakers want a clear and stable wine without sacrificing quality. They should apply a light hand when using filtering as a tool.

    Natural Wine, Aging, and Color

    Since people drink most wines young, they aren’t made to age. Most consumers don’t care about the color of wine as it ages. But, understanding color is necessary when choosing a bottle to enjoy.

    Though it seems counterintuitive, white wines grow darker with age while red wines grow lighter.

    The chemical process of aging changes the color compounds in young wines, called anthocyanins, into other pigments, like proanthocyanidins. About half the anthocyanins transform by the end of the first year and most disappear within five years.

    As pigments transform over time, red wines show more orange and brown colors. White wines get darker and richer in color as acids drop and the wine oxidizes. Over a longer time, both red and white wines tend towards orange and brown.

    “Orange” wines, white wines with extended skin maceration, can be mistaken for aged wines.

    Some winemakers promote cloudy wines with muted colors, believing they are more naturally made. These wines are unfined and unfiltered and may or may not be free from flaws.

    Don’t confuse a poorly made wine with one that has been made with care, even if the winemaker used other tools to improve the wine.

    Using these techniques, like any other process, depends on what the winemaker intends. If they want to fine or filter a wine, they do so to improve it. These processes wouldn’t have stood the test of time if they were damaging to the wine.

    Economics may also factor into the decision because consumers prefer nice looking, clean, clear wines. So do wine judges and critics.

    Christian Moueix, who made the famous Chateau Petrus for years, used to say he filtered Petrus because he didn’t hate his customers. That’s enough to make any winemaker consider these tools.

     

    ABOUT Case by Case Wines

    Launched in 2020, Case by Case Wines committed to sourcing wines of exceptional quality and value from around the world at the lowest price point.

    Their direct-to-consumer (DTC) sales model uses technology to integrate and improve the wine distribution channel, resulting in the market’s most competitive pricing.

  • Insider Secrets 2021: Understanding Vintage Variability – Bordeaux vs Napa Valley

    Wine experts talk about vintage wine, but how much do you know about it? Case by Case wants you to know when vintage matters and which vintages are promising before you buy. Using Bordeaux and Napa Valley to illustrate, we share our insider secrets, so you can enjoy better wine and spend less money.

    Vintage Unveiled

    Simply put, the term “vintage” refers to the past and the style of something typical from the time, or the high or lasting quality or value of something.

    With wine, vintage is the date shown on the bottle. This date refers to the year of the grape harvest and the wine made from those grapes. It is not specifically a quality designation.

    Most wines carry a vintage date, but not 100% of the grapes come from that year. Regulations, which differ by country, allow small percentages of grapes from other years.
    Wines without a vintage date, called non-vintage wines, include grapes harvested from two or more years.

    Because grapes are an agricultural product, how they grow is subject to the weather. As goes the weather, so goes the vintage and the wine.

    A year with excellent weather generally translates into excellent wine and vice versa. A good weather year yields a wider variety of enjoyable wines than a poor weather year.

    But other factors influence the quality of wine, so you can’t depend on vintage alone.

    Vintage impact varies dramatically around the world. For example, Bordeaux famously suffers from challenging weather and vintages. Napa Valley, blessed with warmer, drier weather, tends to have consistently easier vintages.

    Does this mean Napa Valley vintage wines are better than Bordeaux vintage wines? No. Each vintage and region stands on its own, but let’s take a look at the vintage year 2011.

    Vintage Bordeaux

    Bordeaux experienced a volatile weather year in 2011, coming after two fantastic years in 2009 and 2010. We should discuss the impact of climate change here, but that’s another topic.

    The weather turned upside down in 2011. Spring was hot, summer cooler, and fall warm. Rainfall was lower throughout the year, except in the fall when you don’t need it. Rain at harvest leads to grapes filling with water, diluting the juice. It also breeds conditions for mold.

    Bordelais winemakers outshine their California compatriots at times like these. Most producers in Bordeaux know how to manage difficult vintages. Growers who were aggressive in the vineyard made enjoyable wine.

    At the end of the season, the white wines excelled, including the famous sweet Bordeaux, instead of the reds. Certain grape varieties thrive under certain weather conditions. White grapes tend to prefer cooler weather.

    Heat-loving Cabernet Sauvignon, California’s favorite, struggles to ripen in cooler temperatures. Wines with higher amounts of Cabernet Franc, though, came through well.

    Not a ripe vintage, 2011 wines exhibit a lighter profile and won’t age well. You can drink this vintage while young, but you need to be selective when buying. Choose a good location with the right varieties, and an excellent producer.

    Vintage Napa Valley

    People assume that due to the Napa Valley climate, it has never had a bad vintage. Most Napa wines, vintage or non-vintage, drink just fine. So, does vintage even matter here? Well, 2011 arrived with some surprises.

    The 2011 growing season challenged winemakers in Napa. They had to employ tactics well-known to their friends in Bordeaux: adjusting the canopy, monitoring mildew, and delaying harvest.

    Napa’s spring weather was colder than usual, and a lot of rain fell in May and June. The cool weather continued into summer, which is generally hot, so grapes did not ripen as expected. Rain fell with another cool spell in early October. A delayed harvest began late in the month after a welcomed heat spike.

    Because this was so unusual, critics expected the wines to be less impressive and gave lower scores. Wine buyers, listening to the critics, stayed away.

    But many producers believe the wines from 2011 show more character, which can be concealed during hotter vintages.

    Wines tend to be lower in alcohol with good acidity and ripe flavors and tannins. Subtle and fresh, they were different from typical lush Napa wines.

    When grapes develop slowly, they increase in complexity. The powerfully rich Napa style comes from rapidly maturing grapes.

    As in Bordeaux, the producer matters. Talented winemakers made good wine in 2011.

    vineyards

    Buying Vintage Wine

    When should you buy a vintage wine, and which vintages should you buy?

    Vintage doesn’t matter with under $20 mass-produced and commercial wines. Producers want to reduce costs, get to market fast and turn inventory over quickly. The work is mostly mechanized. If you buy these wines at your local grocery or convenience store, drink them soon.

    Vintage matters when you buy wine over $20. Quality producers care about the craft of wine, regardless of size. A vintage wine costs more because of the care taken to produce it.

    When to Buy Vintage

    Most wines, including vintages, are ready to drink when you buy them. Buy vintage when:

    1. For special occasions, gifts, or bringing to a dinner party
    2. If you want to impress someone
    3. You collect or age wine
    4. You enjoy wine’s variability year to year
    5. You just like better wine

    If you’re buying cases of wine for a big event, buy non-vintage to save money. Don’t serve vintage wines to a bunch of people drinking all afternoon by the pool. If you prefer your wine to taste the same, we advise against buying vintage.

    How to Buy Vintage

    Here’s a few tips for buying vintage wine:

    • Forget the critics unless you follow one who has the same taste as you
    • Find a retailer who knows the region you want to buy
    • Do your homework – research trusted sites online
    • Look for vintage charts on winery websites, not on critics’ websites
    • Find favorite producers or ask about quality producers
    • To balance quality and price, try a second label from a top winery or a top wine from a less well-known one
    • Instead of a great year, look for a good year with a great winemaker
    • Avoid years with a combination of poor conditions
    • Look for de-classified wines from great producers (wines sold under a lesser classification in a weaker vintage)
    • Buy the style and wine you like from the best vintage you can afford
    • Don’t buy based on trends
    • Ask questions

    vintage

    Vintage Variability

    One of the joys of drinking wine is how they are different every year. Drinking different vintages allows you to learn about the process and decide which vintages you prefer. For example, you might like lighter wines from cooler vintages or robust wines from warmer vintages.

    You also build your palate as you learn how weather conditions influence the flavors and aromas in wine.

    Case by Case encourages you to explore the world of vintage wines!

  • Insider Secrets 2021: Not the Same 7 Wine Trends to Watch

    Every year, you can read gads of wine trends lists that mostly share the same predictions. At Case-by-Case Wines, we have our own take on what the trends will be this year.

    wine trend celebration fun

    Celebration/Fun

    Everyone’s ready to break out of isolation and celebrate a return to public spaces with actual human beings. So many of us have postponed important events or had low-key gatherings. Once we reach the point where we can go out into the world, we’re going to celebrate! We’ll get together with our friends to drink the special bottles we’ve been saving. We’ll toast to fresh air and human contact with bottles of sparkling Rose, Piquette, and Pet-Nat. We’ll plan weddings, birthday parties, and more. Put the light reds on ice, chill down the wine seltzers, and let the parties begin!

    wine trend travel

    Travel

    Our desire to travel remains behind bars. But 2021 will bring some steps towards travel freedom as the vaccine spreads more widely. We’ll start by driving to local tasting rooms or to a favorite local wine bar to enjoy in-person outdoor wine tastings. Later in the year, we may drive to a neighboring state to sample what they’re pouring. Or take a short flight to Texas, Missouri, Arizona, or New York State to learn what the buzz is about. If travel doesn’t materialize as we hope, we’ll see virtual wine tours (see below.) Cheers!

    wine trend digital wine events

    Digital Wine Events

    During 2020, the wine world went digital in a big way by necessity. Everyone knows Zoom now. Online wine events will continue in 2021, especially if travel doesn’t materialize. In that case, online events will get more creative and engaging. We don’t want the same events we had last year. Look for virtual wine tours and tastings, personalized private tastings for wine club members, or interactive tasting events that add in games, music, or art. Vino-tainment will take-off this year!

    wine trend diversity

    Diversity

    2021 will be the year we put our dollars where our voices are. We’re going to support Women-, African-American-, Asian-, and Latin-owned wine companies. From wineries to small retail shops, we’ll seek out minority-owned businesses. Search out a local tasting room or an online sommelier who lost their job in 2020. Ask for minority-owned wines at your local restaurants. Donate money to minority-owned distributors or importers. Don’t just talk about it. Take action!

    wine trend online shopping

    Online Wine Shopping

    Our online wine shopping habits created in 2020 will continue and even grow, no matter what happens this year. Instead of buying mediocre wine at the grocery store, we learned we could buy much better wine online for a bit more money. Shopping online allowed us to find wines we couldn’t find locally. We could compare prices. We saved money buying by the case. And we didn’t have to lug heavy bottles home from the store. Keep on clicking!

    wine trend food

    Food

    While 2020 destroyed our ability to eat out at our favorite restaurants, it did force us to improve our cooking at home. When we realized we could order fabulous wine delivered to our door, we started recreating restaurant experiences at home. We expect this trend to continue. But, some days, we want to take a break from cooking, so we’ll still order out for delivery and pickup. We should see more restaurants adding canned wine, half-bottles, and low- or no-alcohol options.

    wine trend specific wines

    Specific Wines

    Portugal and Rose Prosecco seem to be on most 2021 wine trends lists. But, we see more interesting options, such as Jura and South West France, plus Austria. These wines offer surprising quality and value. Vermouth’s versatility will make it the ideal wine in 2021. Given the difficult conditions the Australian wine industry faces, expansion in the U.S. will be a priority. We should see more of these incredible wines at more affordable prices. Ditto South Africa if the government sets them free.

    Check out Case-by-Case Wines: great wines from around the world at unheard-of prices.

  • Insider Secrets: Ingredients Labeling

    Drink Better Wine – Demand More Transparency

    Are you on a Keto diet and want to know if your wine has added sugar? Do you want to reduce your exposure to sulfites? Are you concerned about added chemicals in your wine? Many consumers today are searching for wines that are low in sugar, sulfites and other chemicals.

    Because we want you to drink better wine, our fine wine experts share insider secrets of the wine industry. We believe that ingredients labeling for wine is needed.Labels

    A Short History of Nutrition Labeling in the U.S. 

    U.S. regulators require packaged foods and nonalcoholic beverages to have a nutrition facts label. Alcoholic beverages have no similar requirement.

    The 1990 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) through the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act (NLEA) mandated a government-approved label for most food products. The label required a list of ingredients by weight from highest to lowest and other nutrition information.

    In 2014, the FDA proposed label changes due to public confusion over the details and increasing obesity concerns. A new label was approved on May 20, 2016.

    What About Alcohol, and Wine in Particular?

    Alcohol is regulated differently from other foods and beverages. The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), not the FDA, regulates alcohol. The TTB does not require nutritional labeling. The TTB assumes consumers understand what ingredients are in these mostly agricultural products.

    The label requirements include the percentage of alcohol content by volume, a health warning and a sulfite declaration (this last only for wine sold across state lines.)

    For wine, the following are optional but regulated:

    • Grape variety and appellation of origin
    • Wine designation (white/red/rose/table)
    • Viticultural area (AVA)
    • Estate bottled
    • Vintage date
    • The term “organic” (regulated by USDA)

    On November 26, 2019, the TTB announced a review period for labeling regulations for alcoholic beverages. The goal is to:

    1. Offer more flexibility for grape variety disclosures related to wine blends
    2. List information about every grape variety in the wine in descending order

    Disclosure of allergy risk is not required but is under review with an interim rule for optional labeling released on July 26, 2006.

    Wine Selection

    Issues for Consumers

    In general, the wine industry and most consumers do not believe ingredient labeling is necessary. Consumers believe they know the ingredients in wine: grapes, yeast, sugar and alcohol.

    But because both alcohol and sugar pose significant health risks for consumers, these should be disclosed. While consumers may be more aware of chemical additives in our modern food production system, they are not aware of the same for  alcoholic beverages. 

    Winemakers can legally include over 60 additives and agents. Examples of fining agents include egg whites or isinglass. Additives include gum Arabic, sweeteners and enhancers for aromas, color and oak. 

    However, a growing number of winemakers and consumers want transparency in ingredient labeling. Some winemakers voluntarily list ingredients on their labels and some consumers actively seek out these brands.

    For example, younger consumers are more concerned with the health impacts of drinking alcohol and of added sugar. They want low alcohol, low sugar or “natural” wines. The lack of ingredients labeling makes it almost impossible for them to find the wine they want.  

    Wine Labels

    Potential Wine Labeling

    Consumers should know what is in all products they buy. They don’t understand the difference between industrial wines and those that are less processed. They don’t understand such terms as biodynamic or organic. Labeling can help.

    For companies, ingredient transparency can be a point of differentiation in the marketplace. Many companies, including a few in the wine industry, use this to their advantage.

    The TTB needs to work across all aspects of the wine industry to develop labels that increase transparency for consumers.

    Guidelines for wine might include:

    1. Serving size information – the current government guidelines state one (5 ounce) drink per day for women and two for men
    2. Calorie information – the guidelines say that daily calorie intake should include calories from alcohol
    3. Amount of total sugar and added sugar in the wine
    4. Listing ingredients and additives above a certain level
    5. Replace the “contains sulfites” disclosure with the amount of sulfites

    Definition and standardization are needed because different alcohol and sweetness levels impact the serving size and calorie count.

    However, smaller wineries will be significantly impacted by the additional costs for such labeling, so the TTB should take this into account.

    Compressed All-Reds

    Case by Case Provides Transparency in Wine

    We value transparency and educating consumers about wine.

    We use our strict guidelines to choose pure wines of quality and value. We care about what you drink!

    Our wines are:

    • lab tested to guarantee quality
    • not adulterated with dies, coloring agents, unnatural chemical agents
    • lower in alcohol (<14%)
    • lower in sugar (< 2 g/L)
    • selected from small producers, often with limited availability
    • low in sulfites (<75ppm)

    Learn more about wine: Visit Case By Case

    We’re crushing the competition!

    Order your first case today.

     

  • Insider Secrets: What Does the Color of Wine Tell You About the Quality

    At Case by Case Wines, we have the pleasure and opportunity to taste thousands of quality wines from around the world each year. With the goal of helping new wine drinkers understand and appreciate wine, we started our Insider Secrets series.

    Learning how professionals assess the color of wine will change “how” and “what you drink” for the rest of your life. With “The Color of Wine,” we offer some insight into the process and mindset we employ to evaluate wines, using two white wines as examples.

    An Introduction to Our Methodology

    To some, our job sounds like paradise, but it is, in fact, work. After doing this job for more than twenty years, we’ve become incredibly perceptive at choosing the best wines. We select wines for our clients from an ever-increasing list of global contestants.

    Our job every day is to judge wines, and we take it seriously. We want our customers to keep returning, ensuring the growth of our business. Offering only great wines representing good value keeps our customers happy.

    We take several steps in determining a quality wine.

    1. Physical inspection
    2. Color
    3. Smell
    4. Taste

    See our list of wine terms made easy.

    Physical Inspection

    We start with a physical inspection of the package, including the bottle, the label, the cork or closure, and the cap, if present. Case by Case offers online wine sales only, so the first visual impression is crucial. We will not cover the details of the physical inspection in this blog.

    We’ll only see if the wine looks nice and appealing.

    Color

    If so, the next visual evaluation involves the color of the wine itself. In this example, we tasted two different white wines.

     

     

    As you can see, the wine in these two glasses seem as if these are very different wines. In fact, both wines are made from 100% Chardonnay grapes.

    The first major lesson about evaluating the color of wine shows that as wine ages, white wines get darker in color, while red wines get lighter.

    Exposure to oxygen over time causes white wines to “oxidize” or get darker, then browner in color, like a sliced apple. For red wines, over time certain compounds interact with the tannins causing the wine to lose some color. Red wines can also suffer from oxidation turning red into brown.

    Based on our initial visual inspection, the wine on the left (A) appeared to be much older than the wine on the right (B). The dark golden hue in Wine A, reminiscent of clover honey, combined with a brownish tint suggested an aged wine (possibly 10+ years old.) It also quite possibly indicates the wine is sweet.

    The wine could even be an “orange” wine, which is a white wine made like a red wine, with extended skin contact during the fermentation process. It is during fermentation when the color is extracted from the skins. The longer the skins remain in contact with the juice, the darker the wine will be.

    The wine might also be a botrytised, late harvest dessert wine like Sauternes. Botrytis cinerea is a type of fungus. It can rot the grapes in wet conditions. If the wet conditions alternate with dry spells, the fungus can be controlled and result in concentrated flavors and sugars.

    The color of Wine A clearly suggests the wine was aged in oak barrels. A winemaker has numerous options when purchasing wine barrels. They come with different levels of toast: untoasted, light, medium, medium-plus, and heavy toast.

    Think about the toast you make in the morning. The concept is the same based on how long your bread remains in the toaster. The color of wine will vary depending on the level of barrel toasting.

    With glass A, we thought the wine was likely aged in a medium-plus toast barrel. Heavy toast is rarely used in white wine production.

    The glass on the right (B) showed a much more common color of Chardonnay. A bright golden hue, crystalline, with only slight darkness around the edges. The wine didn’t appear to have been aged in oak, but did have more color than a young Chardonnay aged in a stainless-steel tank.

    From the color alone, we assumed the wine was three to five years old.

    Smell

    The surprise came after smelling the wines.

    Wine A was not a sweet wine, although it had fresh fruit aromas of Gala apple, pear, and butterscotch notes, typical in sweet wines. Sweet wines tend to exhibit these types of aromas.

    As suspected, the wine smelled strongly of new French oak, with notes of toast, buttery popcorn, and a hint of cinnamon. The wine did not smell oxidized (a nutty burnt quality) although the color suggested otherwise.

    Wine B had a reductive (matchstick) aroma that dissipated with a little bit of swirling, an indication of a certain style of winemaking. On the nose, it had a light acacia honey quality and a touch of lees, with no trace of oak or toast influence.

    Taste

    The taste of both wines confirmed what we had learned from our visual inspection and sniffing.

    But, we were in for yet another surprise.

    It turned out that Wine A was younger than Wine B. Wine A was a wine from 2017, while Wine B was from a 2013 vintage.

    We were shocked. How could this be? We wondered what was going on.

    We reached out to the winemaker. He confirmed that Wine A was made in a rich oxidative style (deliberately exposing the wine to oxygen) and was aged in heavy-toast barrels.

    FYI, sometimes we taste blind, more as a parlor game to see who can correctly identify the grapes or region of the wine. Blind tasting is done to remove any indication of a wine’s origin, so the taster evaluates the wine on its own merits.

    Our Evaluation

    Wine A, a three-year-old wine, had a heavy dose of toasted oak and some residual sugar. We would expect it to have some darker golden color, but not the browning of oxidation.

    It turns out many winemakers utilize a technique called “pre-mox,” which is short for premature oxidation, which can be risky. A little oxygen early in a wine’s life helps ready the wine for early drinking, but it can expose molecules that may brown over time.

    However, those molecules, once oxygen binds to them, can be filtered out before bottling. Too much oxygen exposure at any point in a wine’s life causes an accumulation of acetic acid, the acid in vinegar.

    Our Buying Decision

    In the end, we bought the entire inventory of Wine B from the supplier at a stellar discount of 50% off the normal price.

    We made this decision even though 2013 was not a great vintage in Burgundy, and a seven-year-old white wine is generally considered “old” by the market.

    We bought it because Wine B continued to drink so well. Like many great white wines, as it warmed to 65 degrees and had been opened for 30 minutes, it went from strength to strength and stole the show. The wine had a fresh acidity that belied its age, and a lovely mouthfeel, no doubt due to stainless steel tank aging on the lees.

    Lees are the dead yeast cells created during fermentation when live yeasts consume grape sugars, converting them into alcohol. Aging wine on the lees adds complexity and a feeling of more texture in the mouth.

    While Wine A ended up going down the drain, we took Wine B home and polished it off with some chicken scallopini. It was fantastic!

    Case by Case Wine

    Case by Case Wines evolved over 20 years across all aspects of the wine business. Because we know the industry so well, we know all the secrets. 

    We want to disrupt this system and promote knowledge, value, quality, and trust with our clients. We’re crushing the competition!

  • Insider Secrets: Fun Fall Facts About Wine – 10 Freaky Wine Facts for Halloween

    Now’s the time to get ready for Fall and the upcoming Halloween celebrations. Below, find 10 fun Fall facts about wine, some spooky, some not!

    10 Freaky Wine Facts for Halloween

    1. Ancient Babylon: Winemaking and brewing goddess Siduri taught men visiting her tavern about the pleasures of sex and alcohol. Very busy in the Fall.
    2. Ancient Greece: Wine with bubbles = evil. NOT.
    3. Ancient Rome: Wine without seasoning = bad. Tasty seasonings included garlic, absinthe, or lead. People, don’t season the wine.
    4. Vietnam: Cobra blood tops a shot glass of rice wine. Ask for the cobra’s heart on top just for fun.
    5. Fortune-telling came from the Irish and was used to help women find a mate. Fall hormones = babies. 
    6. Today you can watch a different Halloween-themed movie every night. Try a new wine with each one.
    7. Google searches for wine increase in October and on into the holidays. No surprise.
    8. Wisconsin serves up a Halloween-themed spiced wine called “Hallowine” made from apples and meant to be served warm. Marketing.
    9. On average, adults drink at least two drinks on Halloween. Moderation, people.
    10. Champagne and wine are the top alcoholic beverages for the Fall and Winter holidays. Stock up with something nice.

    Case by Case Wine

    Case by Case Wines evolved over 20 years across all aspects of the wine business. Because we know the industry so well, we know all the secrets. 

    We want to disrupt this system and promote knowledge, value, quality, and trust with our clients. We’re crushing the competition!

  • Insider Secrets: Fun Fall Facts About Wine – 10 Facts About Wine Grape Harvest

    Now’s the time to get ready for Fall and the upcoming Halloween celebrations. Below, find 10 fun Fall facts about wine, some spooky, some not!

    10 Facts About Wine Grape Harvest

    1. The Greek goddess of the harvest, Demeter, killed the Earth’s crops when Hades crowned her daughter, Persephone, his Queen. Once Persephone was freed in the Spring, Demeter returned growth to the Earth.
    2. Harvest is when workers gather wine grapes, and winemaking begins. Some people call this period “crush” because it’s when winemakers begin to process the grapes. 
    3. Many crops are harvested in the Fall from apples to turnips, making it a great time to experiment with wine and food.
    4. Fall’s Equinox (September 22 or 23) marks the beginning of the season, while the Winter Solstice (December 21 or 22) marks its end. 
    5. Wine grape harvests typically run from August to October in the northern hemisphere and from February to April in the southern hemisphere. Harvest is coming earlier due to climate change.
    6. Wine Grape Harvest Order
      • Sparkling wine grapes like Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are harvested first to keep sugars low and acids high.
      • White wine grapes come next with Viognier and Chenin Blanc on the later side.
      • Red wine grapes follow with Merlot and Syrah on the earlier end.
      • Ice wine grapes are harvested much later to accumulate more sugars.

    Exceptions exist, but you get the idea.

    1. In the vineyard, photosynthesis ends, and leaves turn red and gold, falling after harvest as the vines prepare for winter dormancy.
    2. The “Harvest” moon appears during the Fall, lighting the way for grape growers to bring in their crops. 
    3. Harvest conjures images of birth and of voluptuous women surrounded by the fruits of the vine.
    4. Wine is associated with love and sex, especially during Valentine’s Day. But Valentine’s Day should occur in the Fall because:
      • More relationships start in the Fall. Who wants to spend the long winter alone? 
      • Sex hormones increase going into the Fall and Winter, declining in the Spring and Summer.
      • The highest birth rates occur during the Fall (September.)

    Wine enhances romantic relationships, so add more wine to your life in the Fall and enjoy!

    Case by Case Wine

    Case by Case Wines evolved over 20 years across all aspects of the wine business. Because we know the industry so well, we know all the secrets. 

    We want to disrupt this system and promote knowledge, value, quality, and trust with our clients. We’re crushing the competition! 

  • Insider Secrets: Fun Fall Facts About Wine – 10 Facts About Grape Harvest Festivals

    Now’s the time to get ready for Fall and the upcoming Halloween celebrations. Below, find 10 fun Fall facts about wine, some spooky, some not!

    10 Facts About Grape Harvest Festivals

    Wine grape harvest festivals have been around as long as humans have made wine. A good harvest festival allows everyone to relax after the hard work is done. 

    1. The historical Dionysia Festival was dedicated to Dionysis/Bacchus: the god of everything wine, harvest, festivals (Bacchanalia), and insanity (bonus!). The goal of his harvest parties was releasing fear, suffering, and worry, while promoting moderation and joy.
    2. Halloween originates from Celtic festivals celebrating the end of harvest. What a great time to make a delicious, warm spiced wine to pair with your candy or a savory meal.
    3. The famous German beer festival, Oktoberfest, serves wine, particularly the German sparkling wine, sekt.
    4. Niagara Grape & Wine Festival in St. Catharines, Ontario, is Canada’s largest Fall wine festival.
    5. Festival of Grapes takes place in the Village of Silver Creek, New York, and has been running since the 1960s.
    6. Carlton Crush Harvest Festival, Carlton, Oregon, features a Team Grape Stomp competition.
    7. At the Olympic Peninsula Harvest Wine and Cider Tour, Olympic Peninsula, Washington, guests partake of local wine and cider while communing with nature.
    8. The Fredericksburg Food and Wine Fest, Fredericksburg, Texas, features the Great Gargantuan Grape Toss and Texas wine, beer, food, and music.
    9. Harvest parties, some with grape stomping events, appear anywhere wine grapes are harvested.

    While having nothing to do with wine, we must include Día de los Muertos, Mexico’s famous Day of the Dead celebration. Start a new tradition by toasting the dead with a delicious Mexican wine.

    Case by Case Wine

    Case by Case Wines evolved over 20 years across all aspects of the wine business. Because we know the industry so well, we know all the secrets. 

    We want to disrupt this system and promote knowledge, value, quality, and trust with our clients. We’re crushing the competition!

  • Insider Secrets: How To Save Money on Wine

    Do you pay too much for wine? Are you buying the highest-quality wine you can for the price you want to pay? Do you know how to find great wine at reasonable prices? Do you actually want to save money on wine?

    Well, if you are wondering any of these things, Case by Case Wine clues you into the secrets.

    Wine Pricing Unmasked

    At Case by Case Wine, we’re concerned about the ever-increasing prices of wine. We believe in transparency about wine pricing, but the industry as a whole does not.

    We’ve heard the long-standing joke about making a small fortune in the wine business. Start with a large fortune. But while some wineries do make a small fortune, others file for bankruptcy.

    The business of wine is tricky, and many get caught up in its romance, but the reality can be harsh.

    With high capital and labor needs, many factors complicate wine pricing:

    • Geography/geology/history
    • Land, AVA designation, land preparation
    • Planting costs/agricultural practices/certification costs
    • Climate/weather management/mitigation
    • Pest/disease control
    • Manufacturing costs
    • Marketing, sales, and distribution expenses
    • Consumption patterns/culture
    • Competition at every level/wholesale wine trade
    • Supply/demand
    • Reputation/brand/scores/premiumization
    • Taxes/duties/tariffs

    In general, lower-tier producers drive cost containment to manage price, while boutique and ultra-premium wineries pour money into increasing quality and brand and image building.

    Larger producers enjoy economies of scale, often manipulating the market by undercutting smaller wineries.
    Though these many factors and more influence wine pricing in the U.S., the regulatory system for beverage alcohol has an extraordinary impact on the price at the retail level.

    Let’s look at some numbers.

    Basic Wine Pricing Model for Imported Wine

    Basic Wine Pricing Model for Imported Wine

    Let’s start at the cellar door with a $10 bottle of imported wine.

    Traditional Imported Wine Pricing Model

    This simple illustration shows the three-tier regulatory system’s impact on price.

    Ex-cellar/Ex-chateau/FOB price of wine in country of origin $10.00
    Landed Cost in the U.S. (includes federal tax) $12.00
    Tier 1: Importer Margin (Profit) 35-50% $18.46
    Tier 2: Distributor Margin (Profit) 35-50% plus state tax & freight) $27.69
    Tier 3: Retail Margin (Profit) 35-50% (plus sales tax) $41.54
    Excluding Additional Sales & Marketing Costs or brand-name markup 246% total Markup

    The total markup of $29.54 represents 71% of the total price.

    Case by Case Wine Pricing Model

    Here’s how our pricing model works, using the same $10.00 bottle of imported wine.

    Ex-cellar/Ex-chateau/FOB price of wine $10.00
    Landed Cost (includes federal tax) $12.00
    Importer/Retailer Margin $19.99
    Includes Free Shipping on 6 bottles 67% total Markup

    The markup of only $7.99 makes up 40% of the total price.  We remove $21.55 of expenses that typically goes to middlemen and overhead at each level.

    Consumers save more than 50%, a HUGE win!

    Let’s Talk About Value

    The following illustration shows the composition of the components of a bottle of wine.

     

    Inexpensive Wine Expensive Wine
    Packaging $1.08 14.2% $5.25 15.7%
    Wine* $2.58 34.0% $10.71 32.0%
    Margin $3.94 51.8% $17.54 52.3%
    Total Price $7.60 100% $33.50 100%

    * ‘wine’ includes raw materials + production costs

    On a percentage basis, the inexpensive bottle contains more wine but doesn’t necessarily correlate to the quality.

    Knowing how any specific wine is priced is almost impossible. With no industry standards, pricing varies with every wine. Without transparency, you can’t know if you are paying a fair price.

    Comparing wines from different regions, states, or countries raises more complications. Local labor, exchange rates, land values, grape prices, and other costs vary tremendously.

    The cost of oak barrels, time and space for aging, and high land costs push the prices up for more expensive wine.

    And the unacknowledged truth makes things worse: “margin is THE major component of a bottle of wine, especially a premium wine.”

    At the end of the day, wine producers, distributors, and retailers will charge what the market will bear. They hate to reduce prices but are happy to keep increasing them.

    Evaluating and buying wine based only on price doesn’t get the best result, because price does not guarantee quality.

    Bringing Transparency to Wine Pricing

    Bringing Transparency to Wine Pricing

    At Case by Case Wine, we are dedicated to exploding the myths surrounding wine, including price. By disrupting the distribution system, we reduce costs and pass savings to consumers.

    As passionate wine professionals, we want to bring high-quality wines at fair prices to wine drinkers everywhere.

    Unlike many in the industry, we value transparency for consumers about ingredients labeling, price, and production methods.

    We encourage consumers to stop buying wine at the local grocery store because groceries only sell what the large distributors bring them. With ongoing consolidation, more distributors get gobbled up, which reduces choice and raises prices.
    By the time a wine gets to the grocery store, consumers pay much more than they should!

    With our deep expertise in importing, evaluating, trading, producing, and selling wine, we know all the secrets.

    How do we do it?

    • Buy directly from producers around the world
    • No salespeople
    • Lower overhead costs
    • Quantity discounts
    • Shipping efficiencies
    • Online only

    Our business model allows us to offer premium wine at near wholesale pricing. We offer a broader portfolio of quality wines at unbeatable prices than our competitors.

    Our selection is unmatched because we only work with producers whose wines meet our demanding standards.

    Benefits Beyond Price

    There has never been a better time to be a wine lover, but how do you choose among so many options without overpaying for mediocre wine?

    In this vast wine world, you need a guide to help you find wine that delivers on both price and value.

    Case by Case fills the gap.

    We believe everyone should have the chance to taste the great, undiscovered wines of the world without overpaying.

    Let’s look at some of the other benefits Case by Case offers beyond price.

    • An expertly curated selection of premium wines
    • Both domestic and international wine
    • Choose from red, a mix of red & white, or red, white and rosé
    • Save time, effort, and frustration
    • Rotating subscription cases, so you always try something new
    • Easy online wine ordering
    • Free delivery
    • Always have wine on hand
    • Drink better wine
    • If you find a wine you like, buy individual bottles from sister site, Big Hammer Wines

    By exploring the world’s wines in this way, you learn about wine, the people, and the regions, while developing your palate.
    You’ll enjoy one of life’s greatest pleasures by sharing our fine wines with your loved ones.

    How it Works

    Just select your preferences, pay as you go, and we do the rest. Cancel when you want. No commitment. No hassle.

    Through a simple online process, choose:

    • the type of wine: Red-Wine Lovers, Red & White Wine Lovers, or Red, White & Rosé
    • the case quantity (6 or 12 bottles)
    • the delivery term (monthly, every other month, every three months)
    • upgrade for a more exceptional experience
    • earn points toward future orders
    • join the rewards program
    • personalize your case (coming)
    • check out the Wine Affiliate Program

    We guarantee you’ll be delighted, but if you receive something you don’t like, contact our excellent customer service team.

    case by case wine saves you money on wine

    Save Money on Wine – Case by Case Wine

    Case by Case Wines evolved from over 20 years of experience across all aspects of the wine business.

    Because we know the industry so well, we know all the secrets. It is insular, secretive, protective, and hidden.

    We want to disrupt this system and promote knowledge, value, quality, and trust with our clients.

    We have personal relationships with wineries around the country and the world. Our travels take us through all wine regions.

    We have the knowledge and experience to find unique new wines from today’s crowded marketplace.

    From tasting about 4,500 wines every year, we have the expertise to weed out the pretenders. Only 4% of what we taste meets our high standards.

    You get wine worth twice the price, at half the cost due to our unique, low-cost model. You deal directly with us, not sales folks.

    Trust our taste for great wines. Trust our business model for great prices.

    We’re crushing the competition!

    Order your first case today.

  • Insider Secrets: Tips and Tricks for How to Buy Wine

    How do you choose the wine you buy? Case by Case Wine looks at some of the factors people use when buying wine. We offer a few tips and tricks to make your wine experience better, less expensive, and less stressful.

    how most people buy wine

    How Most People Buy Wine

    It’s Friday afternoon, and you start thinking about the weekend. Then you realize you don’t have any wine at home, so you stop at your local grocery store to pick up a few bottles.

    The parking lot is packed. You find the only space available at the far side of the lot. Getting out of the car, you see sprinkles of rain on your windshield. Great! You grab your mask, an umbrella, and a reusable grocery bag, then head to the entrance.

    Once inside, you head to the wine section at the other end of the store. One entire aisle is filled with bottles from top to bottom. OMG! You don’t have time to figure out which ones you want.

    You know the ones at the bottom are rotgut, and the ones near the top are out of your budget. But you still have to choose from hundreds of wines.

    Ok, you decide to get two bottles of white and two bottles of red because you don’t want to come back tomorrow. Which ones to choose?

    You’ve heard of Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, so you head to those sections, but time is a-wasting. You don’t want to get stuck in rainstorm traffic.

    You see a few bottles on the shelves you recognize, and you see a few with really cool labels. The cool label ones are on sale!

    You grab two whites and two reds, stash them in your bag, then run to pick up a chicken in the deli, hoping they haven’t run out.

    With the last chicken in hand, you get in line to pay, but you’ll be here for at least another five minutes.

    While you run to your car in the rain, you’re asking yourself why you didn’t get the wine yesterday.

    Some People Do This

    Repeat the story above, but you’re at a liquor or big-box retail store. Instead of buying the bottles with the cool labels, you grab the wine bottles with the 90+ scores, adding them to your cart with a bottle of scotch or a six-pack of craft beer.

    The End Result

    After all the frustration of choosing, you get the wine home, open a bottle, and taste it. Ugh, this wasn’t what you wanted and certainly not worth what you paid.

    A lot of aggravation, little difference in the result. You paid too much for too little value.

    what you really want in wine

    What You Really Want

    Because of ever-expanding global competition, it’s a great time to be a wine lover, so how do you end up with such mediocre wine?

    You might have noticed every grocery or liquor store sells the same wine. This lack of choice, grape varieties, and higher prices results from the industry’s consolidation along each of the three-tiers.

    So, you get over-priced, mediocre wine, which isn’t going to change, but will likely get worse.

    Because of COVID-19, many small wine shop owners and retailers will likely go out of business. It will be harder to find alternatives.

    And the pandemic has reinforced what consumers are looking for but can’t find:

    • selection, taste, convenience, speed, value
    • fast, free delivery
    • a simple online selection process
    • good wine at fair prices
    • try different wines without risk
    • save time by having wine on hand without making extra trips

    So, what’s the alternative?

    the one tip you need in buying wine

    The One Tip You Need

    Want to know the one tip you need to get the wine experience you want?

    Find a wine retailer you can trust!

    The right wine professional will make recommendations for buying better wine while saving you money and time. They won’t force you into buying something you can’t afford or steer you only to highly rated wines.

    Critics can’t drink every wine in the world, leaving many excellent and available wines without scores. You miss out on wines of great value, the overlooked gems.

    Scores only matter if you like that style of wine, and, usually, buying based on the score ends up costing you more.

    If you use crowd-sourced wine applications, you get recommendations based on the average of people who responded. But the recommended wine might not suit your style and preferences. You might hate it!

    Even if you get on one of the thousands of mailing lists promising great, cheap wine, you probably have to buy 12 bottles. If you don’t like the wine once you get it, you’re stuck.

    Maybe you buy from friends’ recommendations. One friend might like high-end wine and another, orange wine. You might not prefer either of these! Not everyone drinks the same wine. Some people don’t even drink wine.

    Learn to make your own decisions through tasting and developing your unique palate with guidance from an expert.

    Try Case by Case Wine

    Drink better wine for less money!

    We bring you wines that over-deliver at each price point, each one guaranteed delicious.

    You’ll enjoy only the best fine wines, new and undiscovered wines, and values from around the world. With many wines rated 90+, even those without a rating will taste 90+.

    On our online website, you have access to buy premium wine at near wholesale prices, including free delivery.

    top 6 benefits of case by case wines

    Top 6 Benefits

    Case by Case Wines provides a better drinking experience through:

    1. making choice easy with curated selections of premium wines
    2. offering both domestic and international wines
    3. allowing your choice of red, mixed red & white, or red, white and rosé
    4. saving you time and money
    5. regularly rotating subscription cases, so you always try something new
    6. allowing you to repurchase your favorite bottles in any quantity from sister-site Big Hammer Wines

    By exploring the world’s wines with us, you learn about wine, the people, and the regions.

    Fine wine is one of life’s greatest pleasures. We want everyone to enjoy great wine and to never run out.

    You’ll always have a great bottle of wine on-hand for a special moment, a birthday or an anniversary, or to enjoy at a weekend barbecue or with your Tuesday night wine dinner.

    Add more joy to your life, reduce frustration, and share exceptional wines with your loved ones.

    How it Works

    Select your preferences. We’ll do the rest.

    You get a curated wine subscription of our incomparable collection of wines delivered to your door as often as you choose.

    Our pay-as-you-go model bills you according to your choices until you decide to cancel. No commitment. No hassle.

    You choose:

    Upgrade for a more extraordinary experience, earn points toward future orders, or create your case (coming soon.)

    We take care of the rest.

    More details:

    • Red-wine lovers receive the best-selling, most coveted, newly released, and top-shelf wines. 
    • All wines are sourced from the finest wine-producing regions of the world. 
    • If you prefer sweet wines, let us know.
    • Get $10 off when you refer friends.
    • Ask about our Wine Affiliate Program to earn commissions.

    With such delightful wine, you’ll be in wine heaven, but if you receive one you don’t like, contact our amazing customer service team.

    case by case wines

    The Case is Made

    Discover new wines and winemakers. Impress your friends without the work. Learn about fine wine, regions, vineyards, vintages, and style, all without leaving your home.

    As you taste different wines with each delivery, you’ll start developing your palate and refining what you like.

    We’re highly selective because of our passion for fine wine. We developed our expertise through tasting about 4,500 wines every year. Of those, only about 4% meet our high standards.

    We excel at selling wine of $40 comparable value for under $20, because of our streamlined, low-cost business model, and our years of experience.

    Our goal is to build trust with you. You deal directly with us, no salespeople or middlemen.

    At last, a fair price for a great bottle of wine, delivered.

    We are crushing the competition!

    Enjoy an unparalleled experience starting with your first case.