They say it’s wrong to judge a book by its cover, but when it comes to wine we think it’s alright to break that rule. We, just like many other wineries, pack symbolism and significance into each of our label designs. It is our desire that our members and patrons enjoy the full experience of our wine--from the looks to the taste. This week, we bottled some exciting new wines, and took some time to reflect on the history and significance of wine labels.
Believe it or not, wine labels have a long history. Wine jars from 1352 BC, unearthed in the tomb of King Tut, were found with labels designating the winemaker, vintage, region of origin, and sometimes even an indicator of the quality of the wine. Even by modern labelling standards, these labels were fairly detailed. In the Persian empire, which had a reputation for cultivating wine snobs, labelling became part of standard practice in winemaking. As glass bottles gained popularity, parchment indicating the vintage and varietal of the wine would be tied around the neck of the bottle, much like what we would call a hang tag today. The oldest preserved label of this type was written by Pierre Perignon, a French monk and winemaker.
Paper wine labels like the ones we see today emerged in Germany in the 1800s and were generally used just to denote the wine’s varietal. In Champagne, France, vintners began using gilded labels to denote their grander fine wines. As labeling became commonplace, the quality and design of the label became like a crown for the wine, with the winemaker’s finest creations enrobed in the most ornate labels. With the invention of the lithograph, labelling became even more of an art. In essence, color lithography was the very first kind of photo printer, allowing for colorful and artistic expression to be replicated en masse. Winemakers could emphasize the luxury of their product or the personality of the land it came from.
As the story of wine labels gets closer to modern day, we’ve seen famous wineries commission label art from even more famous artists. Some wineries ornament their bottles with the awards earned by the winery. At Ruby Hill Winery, the gold seal on our wines represents the gold medals awarded by the California State fair. We also like to celebrate the best things in life with our designs; we commemorate good times with tie-dye, wildlife with our Peacock, and furry friends with our (not-yet-released) Cuvée Dray.
If you’ve laid a wine down to age in the cellar, the last thing you need is a garish label haunting your collection, no matter how delicious the wine is. Whether you’re looking for something classy, playful, or refined, we hope you enjoy the variety and expression gracing each and every bottle of Ruby Hill Wines.
At some point, you may have heard someone in a tasting room say something like, "All Champagne is Sparkling Wine, but not all Sparkling Wine is Champagne." What's going on here? The classification of Sparkling Wine is actually surprisingly elaborate. Learning a little about how sparkling wines are made and how to decode words like "doux" or "cremant" will help with finding the best bubbly for your palate, and making the most delicious celebrations.
The Sweet Spot
Works like "doux" and "sec" reflect the French Heritage of Champagne. These words are used to indicate the level of sweetness in a sparkling wine. From dry to sweet, some terms you may see are:
- Brut Nature (very dry)
- Extra Brut (dry)
- Brut (off-dry to dry)
- Extra Sec (medium- to off-dry)
- Sec (medium-dry)
- Demi-Sec (semisweet)
- Doux (very sweet)
A Game of Names
Even if they are made with the same varietal and method, American Sparkling Wines will not be labeled as Champagne. Just as “Cognac” must come from Cognac in France but “brandy” can be made anywhere, so "Champagne'' must be grown and made in the Champagne region, and consist of only Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Champagne made from 100% Chardonnay grapes is called "blanc de blancs" (white of white), while champagne made from dark grapes is called "blanc de noirs" (white of black). Names like Cava, Prosecco, Crémant, and Sekt are common terms for European sparkling wines from outside of the Champagne region. In the US, Sparkling wine can be made from any varietal, but we've taken notes from France, using predominantly Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes. Our Sparkling Wine here at Ruby Hill Winery is made from 100% Chardonnay.
You've Got a Sparkle in your Wines
Bubbles in Sparkling wine technically have the same composition as any carbonated beverage. Carbon Dioxide makes those tiny bubbles we all know and love. There is no single method for creating these beautiful sparkles, though some varieties of wine have rigid specifications of the proper procedure. When wine ferments, yeasts naturally release CO2. In the original Champagne method, winemakers cause the wine to go through a second fermentation in the bottle, trapping the gasses in the wine and creating the fine carbonation we all know and love. The "tank method" relies on the same process, but the secondary fermentation occurs in a tank instead of the bottles. Another method involves charging the wine with CO2, resulting in the same delicious bubbles dancing along the palate. All good sparkling is bright and perfect for food pairing and celebrating. Look for balance between acid and sweetness, and you're golden!
Have you had a chance to enjoy Ruby Hill Winery's Sparkling Wine?
Now's a perfect time! This weekend only, our Sparkling is available for only $16 per bottle.
2020 was a milestone year for many of us. Now that we’re well along the way in 2021, we’re sipping on our all new 2020 Grapeful Rosé and thought it would be a good time to reflect on what made 2020 special in a good way. We can’t help but look for the silver linings in the last year. It turns out, it’s healthy to look at some things through rose colored glasses (or in our case, rosé colored!).
Reaching for the Stars.
In May 2020, SpaceX sent Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken into space, departing from the same launchpad as the Apollo missions decades ago. This was the first launch from American soil since the space shuttle program was retired in 2011. At the end of July, NASA launched Perseverance, the most advanced Mars Rover yet. The rover, nicknamed “Percy” carried Ingenuity, a small drone-like helicopter, safely to the surface of the Red Planet (they touched down in early 2021).
Back Down to Earth.
Even if we were driven to it by boredom, many of us have emerged with new skills. Puzzles, board games, baking, and gardening became our mainstays in 2020. During seasons of sheltering in our homes, we all had a chance to revisit some old hobbies or learn new ones. Restaurants released their signature recipes so we could practice recreating the magic in our own homes. Some of us even practiced our sewing skills, making face masks when supply fell short.
Making Furry Friends.
While the percentage of people staying home increased dramatically, the number of cats and dogs in shelters decreased. These precious pets found loving foster homes, or even their forever family. The number of strays decreased, and animal shelters were delighted to see fewer animals in need of homes. We can’t help but smile when we think of the excited wagging and peaceful purring of these heartwarming companions.
Developments in health.
While the world grappled with the novel coronavirus, the Congo was also able to send home its last Ebola patient, a tremendous victory against the disease’s second deadliest outbreak. In August of 2020, Africa was declared free of Polio, nearly 25 years after the disease had been eradicated from the western hemisphere. Healthcare workers traveled through remote and hostile regions to administer vaccines to individuals in Nigeria, the last foothold of polio on the continent.
Knowing what we need.
Through missing the things and people we couldn’t have, we learned what we love. We realized how much we love and need sports, and the way it brings us together. The events we missed, from graduation celebrations and birthday parties to concerts and weddings, showed us what was really important to us. In 2020, we realized how badly we need each other.
Connection makes us human. It’s the perfect day to write a note or an email to a friend, have coffee or a zoom call, go wine tasting or out to dinner. There’s no day like today to celebrate togetherness.
For any wine lover looking to add new music to their listening rotation, we’ve got the perfect list for you. Whether you’re looking for songs for a dinner party, a cookout, or something in between, there’s something here for you. From every era and genre, we’ve got our favorite songs for every event and emotion. As Billy Joel Sings, “A bottle of red, a bottle of white, whatever kind of mood you're in tonight.”
A romantic vintage jaunt celebrating love and wine, this song brings to mind a warm evening on a gorgeous terrace, overlooking a flourishing vineyard.
Covered by nearly every iconic crooner, this affectionate song is perfect for slow dancing. (Try the version by Joe Pass for a swanky instrumental take on the song.)
This brassy and victorious take on a song from a forgotten musical called “We Take the Town” brings to mind the yearning of new love.
This timeless song celebrates one of our favorite things: bubbles in our wine. There’s nothing quite as charming and celebratory as a glass of sparkling wine.
This reggae rendition has such perfect rhythm you won’t be able to keep your foot from tapping. Don’t be afraid to sing along!
This medley masterpiece is a lonely piano ballad, joyful Dixieland jazz, and a rock-and-roll celebration all in one.
A relaxed, intoxicating jazz track that makes you want to take another sip and dance a bit. Don’t be too surprised if you want to put this one on repeat all evening.
Though it was originally performed by Neil Diamond, this version is a laid back reggae jam. This rendition gained wild popularity, and it deserves it.
This ballad speaks of lost love and reminiscence, perfect for dreamy summer evenings. Good for remembering the past without losing the hope of the future.
It’s what everyone needs these days, isn’t it? Just like wine, this classic is best enjoyed with a friend or two.
At once captivating and cathartic, this pop rock song is all about going back to basics and reconnecting with people you’ve missed.
What says “I love you” better than wine and chocolate at your doorstep? Enjoy the flow of this song alongside your favorite semisweet and a glass of red.
A danceable and joyous song, this indie-folk piece celebrates the taste of love and the taste of wine—a few of our favorite things.
What did we miss? Let us know @rubyhillwines!
Enjoy complimentary ground shipping when you order 6 or more bottles.
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