Don’t be fooled by “Reserve” wines

As you stroll through the liquor store aisles you my come across a wine that looks like a good contender, and next to it the same wine with the word “Reserve” on the label. The price is higher so you think, that’s the one! But buyer beware, don’t be fooled.

Originally, the term “Reserve” wine was coined by winemakers who saved a portion of their wine that they felt was truly special to share with family and friends. As the industry of winemaking progressed, the term Reserve/Reserva/Riserva defined a wine that is simply of higher quality – the grapes may have ripened to perfection or come from a select part of the estate. The wine out of those barrels is unique in some way in comparison to the regular release. From a regulatory perspective, in order for a wine to be labelled Reserve, the winemaker must prove it to be superior in comparison to their regular release — come from exceptional fruit, have a higher minimum alcohol content and a minimum period of ageing before being released to the public for sale.

Unfortunately, in today’s world of winemaking, the term Reserve, may very well be meaningless. The only countries who continue to enforce strict guidelines for Reserve wines are Italy, Spain and Portugal. (For example, a Spanish Gran Reserva requires at least 5 years of ageing, of which two years must be in oak barrels, before they can be released for sale.) All other countries, the U.S. and France included, do not have the same laws and as time has gone by, the term Reserve has become a shady marketing ploy for many producers. More often than not, the term is used to coax unknowing consumers to purchase their wine by indicating there’s something special about it. Having said that, there are many winemakers who continue to produce beautiful Reserve wines in the way it was originally intended. Because of the tainted reputation, winemakers who produce special or select wines from their estates will oftentimes label the wine “Cuvee” to indicate a wine that is a true Reserve in the traditional sense.

Our advice – be wary of the term Reserve and don’t buy just for the sake of what’s on the label. Let your tastebuds decide if it’s special enough to earn a place in your shopping cart or in your wine glass.

Uva Wine Bar FAQ

Uva Wine Bar opened in June 2019 and since then we’ve received a lot of questions from our customers. No question is a bad question, so we’ve listed them here in case you’ve been meaning to ask…

Q. Where did the name Uva come from?
A. Uva means “grape” in Italian, Spanish and Portuguese.

Q. Is Uva a Franchise or chain?
A. No. Uva is independently owned by 2 best friends – Katy Gaenicke and Michelle Manware.

Q. How do you choose your wines?
A. We taste a lot of wine every week! We work with a select list of premium wine distributors and ask them to bring us wines that come from smaller boutique wineries around the world. We want wines that people have not tried before, feature a wide range of grape varietals and are competitively priced with other well-known wine labels.

Q. How much does your wine cost at Uva?
A. Our wines range in price from affordable (around $7 per glass) to expensive wines that you would not typically order (around $26 per glass). The majority of our wines fall in between the $10-13 per glass range, just like any other restaurant. For all of our wines, you have the opportunity to try them with a 1.5 oz taste or a 3 oz half glass, without committing to a full glass.

Q. What happens if a bottle empties mid-pour?
A. You will only be charged for the amount of wine that pours through the machine. If the bottle empties half way through your pour, it pro-rates the amount charged on the wine card.  The red light will come on and a staff member will come over and change the bottle.

Q. Can I pay in cash?
A. Yes. We take a credit or debit card when you come in so we can open a tab and give you a wine card, but we don’t charge you until the end of your visit so you are always welcome to pay with cash instead.

Q. If I like a wine, can I buy a bottle?
A. We can only sell wines for consumption at Uva. You are welcome to buy a bottle of wine, but it must be opened at Uva. The state of MA will not let a business have both an “on-premise” liquor license and an “off-premise” liquor license at the same business.

Q. How do you make sure people do not “over indulge” if it is self serve?
A. The wine cards at Uva are programmed to only disburse 18 oz of wine per hour. If somebody reaches that max, the wine will not come out of the machine and the screen will show how many more minutes you have until you can pour wine again.

Q. How often do you change your wine offerings?
A. We introduce new wines every week. We’ve had some wines that are best sellers since we opened and we still have those in the machines, but the majority of our wines get changed out on a regular basis so you can always find a new wine to try at Uva.

Q. How should I tip at Uva since it is a self-serve wine bar?
A. To be perfectly honest, the whole staff works hard to make sure your experience at Uva is the best it can be. We do not expect tips to be the same as at a full-service restaurant, but we prepare and deliver your food, make sure your wine glasses are spotless and help guide you through the wine selections. Tips are at your discretion but most people tip around 15% at Uva.

Q. Do you sell beer?
A. YES! We offer a variety of craft beers from our neighbors, Mayflower and Second Wind Breweries. We also have Bud Light, Sheppy’s Hard Cider and Truly hard seltzers.

Q. Do you have live music?
A. We have live music every Friday night and occasionally on Sunday afternoons.

Q. Can I buy an Uva Gift Card?
A. Yes. We sell them in the bar and over the phone. If you buy over the phone we will mail the gift card to you (but we cannot mail it to your recipient).

Q. Is Uva pet-friendly?
A. We love pets, but we can only welcome service dogs at Uva.

Q. Is it OK for me to bring my baby/child to Uva?
A. We are family-friendly at Uva. We ask you to use your best discretion, but babies are welcome during the daytime and kids are allowed, but obviously they can’t drink any alcohol or operate the wine machines. We have juice boxes for the kids (it’s not on our menu, but just ask).

See you at the bar!

To Cork or to Screw, the Great Closure Debate

Do you feel screwed if you buy a bottle of nice wine and you didn’t get to pop a cork?

For decades there has been an intense debate within the wine community about whether the cork or the screw closure is best. The screw cap came into existence in the 1970s and was widely perceived as the seal for mass-produced, low-quality wines. Consumers and wine purists alike turned their noses up, instead of down into the glass, at a wine sealed with an aluminum cap. But why did the metal topper come into existence at all and (literally) screw up everything for the unassuming cork?

Simply said, it was because one of the leading wine producers in Australia was just sick and tired of losing innumerable bottles of his precious commodity to “cork taint.” Taint is caused by a compound released by a fungus found in cork, and even a minute amount has the ability to obliterate a wine’s taste and aroma. A tainted wine essentially smells like a musty basement or a wet dog, and it is estimated that up to 3% of cork-sealed wines aquire this affliction.

The solution, for better or worse, is the screw cap. With a screw cap, wines cannot be affected by cork taint, they are are easier to use for the wine drinker, and cost less money for the winemaker. However, every solution has its drawbacks and for the crew cap it is the environmental impact of the non-biodegradable metal, and the inability to allow a wine to age properly given its air-tight seal.

So what about cork? Cork has been the preferred wine closure for hundreds of years for a reason! It is made from the bark of the cork oak tree which is grown primarily in Portugal and Spain. One tree’s bark can provide enough cork for thousands of bottles. The material is a renewable, sustainable and biodegradable which makes it the most environmentally friendly bottle closure. Additionally, microscopic pores allow minute amounts of air to contact the wine which is key for proper aging, something an aluminum screw top is incapable of. There’s also the argument of ceremony and tradition – popping a cork is simply more romantic. Like the screw cap, cork has its share of drawbacks – the quality is variable, the material can be fragile and the cost is up to three times more than a screw cap.

Clearly, the bottle closure is essential to protect the wine. Ultimately, both cork and screw are acceptable and can live harmoniously in the world of wine. At Uva, we are a no-judgment zone in terms of bottle toppers. In the end, it’s really about the quality of the precious liquid in the bottle. Cheers!

Grape Nobility

Did you know that there are more than 10,000 grape varieties that have been used to make wine around the world? Of these grapes, only a few stand out as ones that are relied on to produce what most consider to be the best and most delicious wines that you enjoy at the table. These varietals have been bestowed the title of “Noble Grapes” and have made people fall in love with wine for millenia.

It is often debated which grapes are worthy of the royal title; some say six, some seven, and some even say there are eighteen. However, all agree that Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon have earned the title.

Of these six, five originated in France and one in Germany (you guessed it – Riesling). These international varieties grow abundantly and consistently well in the major winemaking regions. They have widespread appeal and embody the complete range of flavors and aromas. Whether it’s a crisp and light Sauvignon Blanc, or robust and sumptuous Cabernet Sauvignon that you crave, you can find them all at Uva, as well as many of the lesser known grapes that you can explore.

Uva is hosting a series of Noble Grapes Wine Tasting events throughout the year. The first one (Sauvignon Blanc) sold out quickly, but we hope you will mark your calendars and join us for the other tastings in 2020.

  • January 22, 2020 – Pinot Noir
  • February 26, 2020 – Merlot
  • March 25, 2020 – Cabernet Sauvignon
  • April 29, 2020 – Riesling
  • May 20, 2020 – Chardonnay

See you at the bar!

The Skinny on Sulfites

What are sulfites? Are they bad? Are they the cause of headaches and other post-consumption maladies?

Sulfites are a natural by-product of the fermentation process and serve as an antioxidant and preservative in wine. All wines have sulfites. The practice of adding sulfites has been a part of the winemaking process since ancient Rome and without it, wine is susceptible to dreaded oxidation and rapid spoilage. Sulfites are also widely used in the food industry and in much higher concentrations than found in wine. They are found in dried fruit, french fries, prepared soups and packaged meats and cheese. (Fun fact: dried fruit actually has ten times more sulfites than wine!)

When it comes to sulfites in wine, red wines typically contain less sulfites than white, and sweet wines typically have the highest level of sulfites.

Experts generally agree that sulfites are not harmful to the vast majority of people. However, approximately 1% of the population has a true allergy to the compound and those with severe asthma are more susceptible to a reaction.

So if it’s not sulfites, what’s the culprit of those rashes, stomachaches and headaches? Those in the industry feel that it’s either a reaction to other naturally occurring compounds such as histamines or tannins (from the skin, seeds and stems), or even more likely, the dehydration that comes with drinking alcohol.

Our advice? Sip slowly, savor the wine and drink plenty of H2O – that’s why we have a complimentary water station at Uva!

Meet Katy & Michelle, the founders of Uva

Uva is the brainchild of two local wine enthusiasts, Katy Gaenicke and Michelle Manware. Back in 2017, Katy and Michelle discovered self-serve WineStations at a bar while on vacation in Grand Cayman. That vacation turned out to be a pivotal moment in their lives as it sparked a brilliant new idea for the two South Shore moms – why not bring this unique concept back home?

Michelle has spent her professional career as a full time Physician Assistant working for several OB-Gyn practices on the South Shore. She is currently employed at BID-Plymouth Ob-Gyn & Midwifery and sees patients on the days she is not at Uva. Throughout her adult life, Michelle has also pursued her interest in learning about the pleasures of wine as a hobby. She has taken several wine education courses across the country, including Napa Valley, and most recently completed the first level certification course with the Court of Master Sommeliers so it is only natural that she is the designated “wine director” at Uva.

Katy’s background is in marketing and public relations. She has spent the past 20 years operating her own PR agency so her experience in media relations, social media branding and marketing has proven to be a valuable asset in creating Uva. Katy has always been interested in wine and learning about the different varietals and regions so the idea of starting a new business owning a wine bar was not totally out of left field for her. At Uva, Katy manages the day to day business operations, events and marketing efforts to help spread the word about the South Shore’s only self-serve wine bar.

Katy and Michelle also share one other thing in common – both are single moms. They both juggle their now part-time “day jobs,” are raising teenagers, and following their passion to create a fun place where others can taste and enjoy wines from around the world.

Next time you visit Uva and you see Katy or Michelle, introduce yourself; we love to get to know our customers!