Friday, March 5, 2010

The Fine Art of Wine

Along with blogging and spreading the word about cool, interesting, innovative and simply elegant wine labels that I encounter during my wine experiences, I also create fine art wine photographs as an artist. Finding the labels and drinking the wine with friends and family is only a portion of the experience for me. The other portion is capturing the moments either before, during or after the tasting.

The images that I create stop the moment and allow the viewer to notice the details and reflections in the wine, labels, corks, glasses and surface textures. I never noticed the beauty that was in the objects around me during a tasting until I started to photograph it.

I began photographing wine years ago, but most of the images revealed the bottles and glasses in their entirety. After a while the compositions began to be repetitive when photographed from similar distances. I slowly began to zoom in on the details and found a completely different experience. The compositions have become much more interesting and the possibilities have become infinite.

I have sold several pieces and have started taking requests for certain labels with my artistic interpretation. Many of my clients who have special requests have large wine collections with bottles that have significant sentimental value to them. Once the bottles are gone, they still have the memory of their bottles in a fine artwork.

Sometimes the requests are quite simple and other times they can be downright complicated. I have taken requests that have included specific bottles, combinations of bottles, glasses, bottle openers, decanters, surface textures and objects that are reflected in either the bottles or glasses. Bottle combinations have included the years of peoples births, the years of marriages/anniversaries, groupings based on varietal, wine region and color.

With the amount of glass and liquid I deal with, my biggest challenge in creating my art is not getting the reflection of my equipment or myself in any of it. I have come up with several techniques for disguising myself in the photographs. I am truly enjoying two of my passions while I create artwork for people.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Rock Out With Your Cork Out

Wine labels created with the rocker/wine enthusiast in mind?! Sure! Why not rock out with your cork out? Although I have not personally tasted these wines, the labels sure caught my attention. The Rolling Stones "Forty Licks", Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" and Woodstock poster embellish the labels of these new wines. The initial wine tasting occurred at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 25th Anniversary. Taste them for yourself and write back with your opinion. The title of this post is a link to the company's website.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Braille Wine Labels - Catering to the Blind

People with visual impairments drink wine too, but reading the label can be a problem. It has been scientifically proven that people with visual impairments have a heightened sense of taste and smell, which makes them excellent wine tasters, but not being able to see/read the labels poses a problem. The video below tells the story of how one wine-maker is changing the wine-tasting experience for the visually impaired. In my opinion, these are the innovations (however simple), that wine producers should be taking into account to increase market-share and show that they are truly thinking.

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Friday, August 28, 2009

Winelabelreview sits in on Wine Library TV

I sit in on an episode of Wine Library TV with Gary Vaynerchuk ( , from the Roger Smith Hotel in NYC. Maybe I should have plugged winelabelreview a little, but I'm a professional and didn't want to steal any "Thunder". Artist Damon Tommolino is on my left (your right). His website is

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Banknote hits the WineLibrary

Just an update for all of you. Pete Nixon from Banknote Wines alerted me that his wine (The Vault, Red Blend), with its beautiful labels that I blogged about earlier this year, has been picked up by Gary Vaynerchuk's Wine Library. Congratulations Pete!
Tasting notes are as follows:"The Vault is an intense blend of Zinfandel, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon, limited in production and hand-crafted from only the finest Napa Valley vineyards. Only 585 cases produced. TASTING NOTES: Aromas of ripe blueberry, red currant, and black cherry are spiced with tobacco box, cassis, and a touch of clove. The smooth, rich palate follows with flavors of cream de cassis, cherry preserves, allspice, vanilla, and espresso. The long, persistent finish and exquisite balance make this wine extremely versatile in food pairings." -Winery

Friday, August 21, 2009

Sort This Out Cellars

Rich reviews 3 labels created by Jeff Munsey at Sort This Out Cellars. Labels were submitted by Felicia Alvarez. Follow them on twitter @stoc and @winefinesse. The title to this post is a link to their site, so check it out for more of their really cool labels! Labels reviewed in this episode include Zin City, Rockabilly Red and Vino Nostra. Thanks to the whole crew at Sort This Out Cellars for their submission.

Monday, July 6, 2009

WBW #59 - An Homage to Kushi no Kami.

Richard over at hosts this months theme for WBW. Saké, "rice wine"! As a saké beginner, I went to my local wine store and perused their infinitely small saké selection (shame). As a label lover I looked for the most interesting label, and I have to admit, there wasn't anything that interesting. I was tempted to take trip into NYC to Sayaka Saké Shop (one of a mere handful of "saké only" shops in the US), after looking at their selection online. They have tons of really exotic labels to choose from, but alas, impromptu gallivants into the city for saké are not in my schedule...but one day will be. So I settled for Momokawa Pearl Saké for three reasons. One, the label was one of the more interesting ones available, and it was in a handsome blue bottle. Two, the label said it was a "fruity" saké that should be served chilled, and I wanted to see what that tasted like (most of the ones I had tasted previously were served hot, which I learned is done to mask the impure taste of an older saké, and generally tasted like rocket fuel). Three, it was a true "Nigori Genshu" (antique style, unfiltered) saké, and if I was going to do saké, I wanted to do it "old school".

I brought the bottle to my Thursday art studio night at my friend Pete's house. I usually bring a bottle of wine that nobody has ever tasted before, and this night was no exception. Everyone seemed a little put off by the saké idea, but after my encouragement speech about it being served chilled and it was fruity, I was able to convince a lot of people to try (after all, wine is a social event).

After shaking the bottle and pouring, people were surprised to see, first that I shook the bottle, and second that the saké was not clear, but instead cloudy; milky if you will. "Unfiltered", I told them. Again I was pelted with pessimistic looks. We all tasted together. We'll...fruity was not the first word to cross any one's lips. Reactions such as "creamy" and "salted pineapple" came to mind for many who imbibed. I personally agreed. It was a salty taste with hints of coconut/pineapple (kind of like a salty Malibu Rum with milk). Many did not go for a second sip, but I finished my glass. I used wine glasses to enforce the idea that it was a wine-like beverage. In the end, my glass was coated with the remnants of "rice pulp" which was not very attractive, but I was glad to have tried something I had never tried before. The taste seems to be an acquired one that I will continue to pursue, but in the filtered version from now on.

Thinking back now, I did try a cold filtered saké in a local Japanese restaurant a couple of months ago that was extremely enjoyable. It was a Junmai Daiginjo Jyudan Jikomi. It tasted like sweet flower petals, malty and lemony all at the same time. It was also very fulll bodied as I remember (almost dessert like). In comparison to the Momokawa it was much better, for me.

Kushi no Kami, so I have learned is the ancient god of saké, and I would hope that he is pleased that we are all blogging and reading about his beverage. I have also learned from Beau at Saké that saké is declining in popularity in Japan as it is seen by the younger generation as an older style drink (although there are many saké breweries that are dead set on carrying on the tradition). It seems that the Japanese are instead embracing "real" wine from all parts of the globe. The labels on saké are beautiful (kanji lettering is steeped in tradition and such a graceful art form), and a trip to Sayaka is definitely on the agenda sometime during the summer. If anyone wants to join me and my fellow artists (twitter: @artstudio85) on our next pilgrimage into NYC for gallery hopping and a stop into Sayaka please let me know via email or DM me on twitter @winelabelreview. Thank you Richard for a great topic, and I look forward to reading the rest of the articles on this topic.