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The Freewheel line with a couple of English friends.

It takes a lot of beer to keep the wine business running smoothly. Here in Redwood City, we are very fortunate to have a great English style ale producer right in our backyard: Freewheel Brewing Company. The staff of K&L are fictures at our local pub, and it is a rare moment when one of us isn't there having a pint and a bite of their excellent food. We are also lucky enough to be the first place to offer their bottled beer for sale. If you have never had it, the Freewheel Brewing "FSB" Freewheel Special Bitter, California (500ml) is the benchmark in fresh, balanced, smashable ale. We will do our best to keep some in stock for you, the customer too!

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We host regular weekly and Saturday wine tastings in each K&L location.

For the complete calendar, including lineups and additional details related to our events, visit our K&L Local Events on or follow us on Facebook.  


Visit our events page on Facebook or the K&L Spirits Journal for more information.

>>Upcoming Special Events, Dinners, and Tastings

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Redwood City Rumblings…

There’s a debate afoot currently in the wine industry and whispers of its merit could be heard from some of the voices on the Redwood City sales floor this week, triggered by Alice Feiring's new book The Battle for Wine and Love or How I Saved the World from Parkerization. The emotions were strong, opinions were bold, and the outrage unbridled. The topic was not a new one, but the information to which some were made privy certainly was. Rumors of who had talked to so-and-so were unleashed and second-hand experience served by-and-large as the evidence. It was classic bar room-styled sports gossip; akin to the steroids controversy in Major League Baseball where the purists long for the good ol’ days. Some say: unnatural foreign substances have infiltrated an industry where natural ability, talent, and beauty have been overshadowed by chemically-injected, artificially-enhanced beefcakes. Others think they have taken something that was boring, mediocre, and bland and turned it into something exciting, powerful, and exceptional with the use of modern technology. Do we enjoy watching the gritty, down-and-dirty Pete Rose go the opposite way and dive head first into third base, or are we amazed by Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire knocking balls out of the park? Lately it appears that the tide is somewhat turning as more and more information is being divulged about who was injected with what, and what effect it has had upon the product. Some people are growing more and more fed up with fraudulent results and are returning to a more purist ideology. Others have lost interest since the long ball leaders can no longer hit 60 or more in a season. However, for all of the baseball metaphors, we were not talking about baseball. There are all a multitude of processes in our wine industry today that can alter the way that a wine tastes, and it goes far beyond touch-ups like oak barrel aging or malolactic fermentation. These technologically advanced procedures are more akin to plastic surgery and liposuction, than make-up and hair spray. Reverse osmosis, oak chips and liquid extract of oak, and industry designer yeasts are a few examples. If this is meaningless to you, allow me to explain a bit. There is a tradition of family winemaking. The knowledge of how to grow, harvest, ferment, and age are guarded secrets and have been tried and tested in some areas for hundreds of years. Trial and error, experimentation, evolution, and experience have led such storied regions like Burgundy and Bordeaux to their reputations as the best locations to winegrapes; and not just any kind of grape, but specific ones that really expressed their potential in that particular soil and that particular climate. This is not a quick and easy process. It takes generations. Compared to the Old World of winemaking, we here in California are infants in our development. But there are always those who look to speed up the process and eliminate the hard work and time that goes into reaching the ultimate potential. For example, in the old days if the grapes were too ripe, they would be full of sugar, which would accordingly ferment into a wine that was high in alcohol as well as fruit. But what if you could lower the alcohol after the wine had already fermented? Today you can. Want to add tannins to add texture, or get rid of them to enhance the smooth and silky characteristics? Go ahead! With today’s technology mistakes from winemaking can be eliminated afterwards. Not only can blemishes be airbrushed, but other features can be highlighted. Designer yeasts can help. In the old days, vinters relied on the native yeasts present on the grapes and in the vineyards to initiate the fermentation process. They would help to impart their own natural flavor upon the wine and to express the unique characteristics of the terroir. Today, because of certain practices such as longer hang-time for the grapes, these yeasts are killed off by the high-alcohol that comes as a result. Enter designer yeasts. Not only do they stand up to that 17% alcohol content, they can be manipulated to impart specific flavors! Want your wine to taste like banana? Try yeast 71B. Long utilized in Beaujolais Nouveau, this strand helps to bring out the tropical aromas that have made many a wine a household name. Do you prefer mango? How about pineapple? Wonder how that buttery, rich, California chardonnay got so fruity? Most likely the same way that buttery, rich, California blonde got her enormous attributes. In the end, the debate comes down to a question of taste. Do you like Sophia Loren or Pamela Anderson? Audrey Hepburn or Paris Hilton? Maybe something in between? With such a controversial subject, you can bet that there are varied opinions. Many people feel that the advances of modern technology have allowed winemaking to move past the days of funky flavors and tough tannins, while others are steadfast in their belief that these types of characteristics make up the soul of a wine and that patience is a key asset in the appreciation of it. Should we settle for what nature gives us, or should we use all our tools to craft a wine that tastes how we want it to? We here at K&L would appreciate some feedback on how our customers feel about this subject. Please leave us some comments about your opinion on this issue! —David Driscoll

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Reader Comments (2)

Yup, this certainly is not a new argument, and like many, I've been both wowed and disturbed by the latest technology. Above all, one of the reasons I love wine is because it is a unique representation of where it comes from and the happenings of that year. I don't want all wine to strive to be the same thing, I want it to simply be what it is. Certainly, technology can play a "makeup" part, and it someways it should. I personally am against the "plastic surgery and liposuction" uses of technology for our wine.


July 10, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterNico Sanchez
David - I am 50% in love and 50% in hate of modern technologies on wine. While I'm a huge stand for terroir and the natural uniquenesses of wines. I also must say that I appreciate the general cleaning up of underperforming regions and wine categories around the world --which have been triggered by better technologies and wine critics/Parkerization.

I trust that industry economics will remain such that there will always be a place for 'natural' wines. And meanwhile, the monodimensional YellowTail wine phenomenon will continue to rock the world... and hopefully create a larger worldwide consumer base...who will eventually come to prefer more unique, natural wines that I can find in abundance every day at K&L.
October 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKFL

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