2018 Sean Minor 4B Pinot Noir, California

Pinot Noir. It’s the most finicky grape in the game. It has thin skin and is very hard to grow. It has a specific temperature it likes and will throw a temper tantrum if it isn’t right. I always like finding value bottles of this varietal where I can.

Sean Minor Wines is a modern brand that doesn’t own any vineyards. That’s not uncommon these days. But what is, is the choice Sean Minor Wines to only work with sustainable farms out of California and Oregon. Real estate in wine growing regions is expensive so working with farms can be a win win.

The 4B or “Four Bear” is part of their California series that’s meant to reflect the terroir of California, have a broad appeal, and be in an everyday price bracket. As a parent, I love where the name 4B comes from. Originally the brand was called Four Bears because of the husband and wife owner’s children. They have three sons and one daughter. Not to mention when they would do tastings to pick what would be in the bottle, their daughter said it was like watching Goldilocks taste porridge trying to find the one that’s just right.

Photo courtesy of http://www.seanminorwines.com

This was exactly what I expected from a California Pinot Noir. It was bright with full red fruit nose. On the palate it’s medium bodied(lighter weight) with cola, cherries and strawberries. Super soft on the finish. As far as pairings go, we had it with turkey sloppy joes and it was great! Also try it out with burgers or pizza.

Typically, this wine will run you $15-17 a bottle.


How to Wine: But First…

One of my absolute favorite pastimes is sitting at a friend of mine’s house while we drink wine and talk about how to change the world or at least up the game. I think I always leave feeling empowered to do great things. And that’s the wine talking.

Last time we had this dinner/wine/infant fest(that’s people, in your late 20’s slash early 30’s, all of your friends seem to have babies), I started thinking about the wines we drank and how I wished we had opened the second bottle before the first. What does it matter, you ask? We drank the bigger wine first and made the second kind of subdued. Then I thought to myself, “Hey! Maybe some people want to know more about the order you should taste(or drink) wine!” And that’s brought us together today.

Believe it or not, there is a method to our wine-ness. The very basic rule of thumb is lightest to heaviest. We’re talking density here, not color. Most of the time you’d want to drink white wines before reds. Unless it’s sweet. Sugar will destroy your palate and add a sweetness to EVERYTHING else you taste. Sometimes it can make a rustic, earthy wine seem much fruitier than it is. Then, after you finish that wine, you’ll still have no idea what it really tastes like.

So here we are at fun dinner at a friends house and we’ve got 4 wines. A nice Cali Pinot Noir, a bold Cabernet, a crisp Pinot Grigio and a jammy Zinfandel blend. What to do, what to do?


Uhhh…. Wait, what?

Start with your Pinot Grigio. Typically they zesty and fresh with a light body. Easy drinking and gets you loosened up for some serious wino-ing. Next should be the Pinot Noir. These are the delicate flowers of the wine world. (Well, unless you’re drinking the super big ones like the Belle Glos Pinots) These tend to be lighter, fruiter reds with a very smooth finish.

Now here’s the real dilemma : Cabernet first or Zinfandel blend. They are both bigger wines than the first two. But which is the biggest? Go Cabernet first. Usually they have an elegant style with big red fruits and a slightly dry finish. Most of the time it’s a toss up on the depth of a wine unless you’ve had it before. You’re not going to ruin anything if you’re wrong. I promise. Go with your gut. Or whichever label is the most brutal.

Finish up with the Zin blend. They are famous for rich, jammy fruit and usually have a grape like Petite Sirah, Petite Verdot, or even Merlot or Cab to bulk it up so that it has a huge mouth feel.

Other good rules:

If you buy and really nice, more expensive wine you’ve been eyeing, drink that first or second. As you drink more, the alcohol takes effect and your palate gets worn out. You won’t be able to taste everything that it’s showing you.

Having a bigger red at the end? Go ahead and open it up early so it can breath a bit. Oxygen can really open up a wine that’s not quite ready yet. That means more bigger fruit, complexity, and depth. I mean who has years to wait on wine to be ready, I’m ready now dammit!

Truly, you should always drink what ever wine you want, what ever way you want, when you want. Keep an open mind though, you never know what you’ll find.

As always if you have any questions, shoot me an email at beardandbarrel@gmail.com and follow me on Facebook and Twitter for new posts.

How to Wine: Taste this… Again.

I made a joke a while back about how I never make my mind on anything ’til I’ve tasted it 3 times. Although I’d love to take credit for it, it actually came from an episode of That 70’s Show. The part was Fez explaining to Donna why he has to have sex with this girl 3 times, “Well because the first time I’ll be nervous and then the second time, I’ll have  to please her because I got nervous. Then the third time . . . the third time is when I get funky.” I thought it was hilarious so I started using the Three Times Theory for just about anything I could. How does this apply to wine, beer or spirits? I’m glad I pretended to ask you.

The First Time: You have some idea of what you want it to be.

The thing about wine is that every bottle we look at evokes some thought in your mind. Napa Valley on the label says it will have these characteristics or the label/name is really cool and you just want to like it. You will buy a bottle or order a glass of a new wine with an idea of what you want it to be and sometimes… be disappointed. Thats why we go for it a second time.

The Second Time: You’re comparing it to the first time.

The first time it was lackluster because the wine has a cool name and like a Tinder date, you decided what it should be before you actually knew what it was. Was that a random hook up because you were “Totes tips?” or you trying to make a sexy profile picture(or lets say… a cool wine label) something special you could take home to Mom and Dad? Take this time tasting to let the juice be what it is.

The Third Time: The verdict.

what if i told you

The third time you have officially made a decision on whether you like it or not. You can easily answer the question: Is this a good wine? As well as the hardest question ever posed to a new or even a seasoned wine drinker: What is it you do or don’t like about it?”

There’s nothing worse than having a wine once and loving it then, a couple weeks later, ordering it for a group of friends and it tasting like some busted grocery store crap you’re stuck paying restaurant prices for.

Take your time when you taste so that you can get everything you can out of the wine. The Three Times Theory can help guide you until you get the hang of it. After 6 years of tasting 50 or more wines a month, I still taste(seriously it just tasting… unless its really good)multiple times to get my opinion right. Bottom line is: Keep tasting.

If you have any questions about the Three Times Theory or have a wine question, please email me at beardandbarrel@gmail.com.