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So why is the 2012 Ladera Cabernet—made from almost entirely from Howell Mountain fruit, from an incredible vintage—sitting pretty at $34.99? I honestly can't tell you. Maybe it's because no one knows how good the Ladera holdings in Howell Mountain are. Or maybe it's the pride that winemaker Jade Barrett takes in making a serious wine for a reasonable price. Or maybe it's because Ladera is an overlooked gem in a sea of Napa alternatives. For whatever the reason, I'm not going to complain. We tasted the 2012 vintage at our staff training yesterday and I was just floored by the quality of this wine. Dark, fleshy fruit cloaked in fine tannins, bits of earth, and in total balance, with enough gusto to go the long haul in your cellar. It's a whole lotta wine for $34.99, and it's made primarily from Howell Mountain grapes, harvested during a great vintage. 

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Wine 101: Cleaning Your Wine Glasses

Whether it's your grandmother's crystal, hand-blown Riedel Burgundy glasses with bowls the size of a baby's head or something you picked up at T.J. Maxx, properly caring for your wine glasses will help them last longer, look nicer on your table and can even improve your wine-drinking experience. Cloudy glasses, off-putting smells (Barolo with a touch of Dawn, anyone?) and the generally frustrating time-sucking process of polishing don't need to wreck your next dinner party if you follow a few simple rules.

1) Skip the dishwasher: While these days all but the most delicate stemware is considered dishwasher safe, unless you've got a dedicated machine for your glasses, we recommend washing each one by hand. Yes, this is a little more time-consuming, but dishwashing detergents--not to mention all the food particles flying around your Whirlpool like cosmic dust--can leave residue on your glasses at best, and pit or chip them at worst.

2) Skip the dish soap: You shouldn't need a grease-cutter to clean your wine glasses, so skip the Dawn, Joy or Palmolive. Even the most stubborn lipstick marks should come off with some hot water and a little scrubbing. Use a cleaning brush like the Flute Brush, which is made out of soft foam that will help prevent your glasses from chipping or scratching and make it easier to get all those hard-to-reach spots. If you absolutely must use soap, make sure to rinse your glasses extra-thoroughly to be sure that "fresh clean" scent doesn't linger in your wine.

For stubborn stains, K&L's Shaun Green recommends denture cleaning tablets. "These dissolve in warm water and really scour the stains. Of course, you need to wash thoroughly and rinse several times to make sure there is no residue."

3) Let your glasses air dry: Ever look at a wine glass that's been towel-dried? It looks like little lint critters are marching ant-like across the surface, and they are often streaky, too. We like using the Architec AirDry (pictured above), an affordable drying rack that's stable, easy to store because it comes apart and lets the air circulate around the glass (as opposed to drying them on linen) so they dry clear.

4) Be careful when (and if) you polish: If you do all of the above and your glasses are still a bit spotty, particularly if you have hard water, you'll probably have to polish them. Captain obvious would like to remind you that wine glasses--even the ones fortified with titanium--are fragile, so be careful. Use a microfiber or other lint-free cloth to polish, always hold the glass by the stem and don't twist the base or the bowl. If the glasses aren't coming clean, holding them over a steaming pot of water should help.

Leah Greenstein

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Reader Comments (3)

And, in our experience...

5) Wash the glasses up the next day. Most breakage occurs when under the influence of the wine drunk from the glasses!
November 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterThe Sediment Blog
Great point!
November 15, 2010 | Registered CommenterUncorked Blog Administrator
I find that air drying glasses that have been washed with L.A. water still leaves them full of spots due to the extremely hard water. I use a microfiber cloth specifically designed for drying glassware. Rather than the fuzzy microfiber it is a tight weave that almost feels like canvas. I got mine from Whole Foods.
November 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMeghan

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