Rescued by Rachis

Work until 5, then scramble to make it to my daughter’s swim lessons at 5:30. A half-hour drive home, and I realize I forgot to thaw meat for dinner. Somewhere around 7:30, we finally have hamburgers and watermelon on the dinner table, and I am on the floor of my kitchen grasping for anything made of grapes, preferably the fermented variety. Image

I had a bottle of Rachis Sauvignon Blanc in the fridge, a white I gambled on in my last NakedWines.com order. I have no idea what to expect, but at this point in the evening, anything will do. As they say, any port in a storm.

The wine is already chilled, and it gets bonus points for the screw cap, which required absolutely no effort from me. Yes, at this moment, I would have cried if I messed up a cork with a corkscrew. This night is why screw caps were invented. 

Just a recap of what NakedWines.com is about – It’s a wine club of sorts. Members pay a minimum amount of $40 per month, which goes into their account. Technically the money goes to funding new winemakers, but to the end user, we just get to spend that money on the wine. So after three months, I had enough in my account to order a case of a variety of wines. 

I’m not ordinarily a fan of sauvignon blancs, but I couldn’t resist the $9.49 price tag on a bottle that costs $28 to non-members. For a 66 percent discount, I can take another stab at liking sauvignon blanc.

This wine is by veteran winemaker Randy Hester under his label Rachis. It’s a nearly clear, thin white with just the slightest hint of lemon yellow. The aroma is full of sweet florals, honey and lemon. 

The flavor mimics the aroma – floral citrusy sweet. There’s grapefruit mingled with honeysuckle, a delightful mix of sweet and tart. Much to my surprise, it paired perfectly with the smoky char of the hamburgers. To my even greater surprise, I found I really like this wine! It lacks the melon quality that pervades most of the sauvignon blancs in my experience. If this had just a bit more fruit to it, I’d almost swear it’s a pinot grigio. 

This is a wine best served very cold. And beware, the glass somehow empties quickly and you will likely find yourself refilling without thinking. It’s the darndest thing. Like the cookie jar that is always empty even though you just filled it yesterday. Where DO those cookies go? (ignore the crumbs on my shirt, please)

Randy Hester is a winemaker to watch, and this is a wine to keep in the fridge for those nights when you MUST have a refreshing wine chilled and ready to go. 

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Investing in Naked Wines

I just placed my first order with Naked Wines, a non-club wine club. It’s an ingenious method of funding upstart winemakers while providing wine to consumers at a discount. I’ll update Imagelater after I try the wines, but here’s how it works.

Members (“Angels”) commit a certain dollar amount to their account each month. I signed up for $40 per month. This isn’t a subscription or fee to join, it’s just my monthly contribution to the pot. The Naked Wines folks collect all the Angels’ money and use it to invest in new winemakers. Then the resulting wine is available to members at a discount (and non-members, at a lesser discount) using the money already paid. So for my $40 per month, I can order wine whenever I want, spending the money I’ve already contributed.

Per the website: “When you spend $50 on a bottle of Napa Cab, only $7 of that is wine. The rest is sales, marketing and hot air — stuff you can’t taste. Our winemakers would much rather give that money to you directly, as a reward for helping them.”

I had $80 in my account, and my shopping basket started with a bonus bottle from a new winemaker as a “thank you” (or a gimmick to entice me to order.. I don’t really care what the gesture meant, I just know it’s a free bottle of wine!). I selected 11 more bottles at varying prices (none over $10.99, all about half off the retail price), and with shipping, I overshot my $80 balance by about $20. But I now have a full case of wine on its way! By the way, shipping is free when your order is over $100.

The wines come from all over the world – my case includes wines from Argentina, Australia, California (Napa, Sonoma, and Sierra Foothills), and other miscellaneous locales.

And being the social-media geek that I am, I love the website’s social elements. Members can rate the wines, share their thoughts on them, follow other members to read their reviews, and of course share their thoughts on Facebook. (Check Naked Wines out on Facebook here.)

So what say you, readers? Are you the wine club type? What do you think about the idea of investing in upstart winemakers that may be terrible or may be the next Mondavi? I’d love to hear your thoughts!