Monthly Archives: July 2014

Red And White Barrels

I’ve been often asked – now that Paso Wine Barrels sells the unchanged non-decorative all-natural old used wine barrels – why do the barrels have so many different characteristics. More to the point, why are some stained and some aren’t?

White and red half barrels.

There are two main reasons.  One, a number of wineries and their winemakers, treat their barrel tastings differently with some making it a point not to spill, even when they top off the barrels, their process is not to make a mess. Reasons for this range from a tidy and neatness procedure to not wanting spillage because mold and other microorganisms can be unwantingly created. And recall that selected barrels are painted with a red stripe so as to give off a more uniform and clean look inside the wineries.

The second and maybe more obvious reason when one thinks about it: the white wines don’t tend to stain. That’s not to say whites can’t stain – they can – as it’s a misnomer that whites are always clear white while in the barrel. Still, white wine barrels inside and out, don’t tend to have any major discoloration.

As far as the half barrels are concerned, the second explanation is usually the reason the inside of a half barrel that came from a red wine is either a dark rose or deep reddish purple. In comparison, a former white half barrel will essentially look like any oak wood without the stained red tone.

That’s it, no other tricks. And no, we don’t allow you to order one or the other – you get what you get from us. If perchance you insist on a certain type, well, let’s just say we will do special orders … but it will cost more.

So the next time you order one of our original Central Coast wine country used full or half barrels, you will know a bit more about why it looks the way it does.


Daryle W. Hier




Burgers and Wine

For those of us in the United States, Independence Day is today, so this is probably as good a time as any to consider hamburgers – actually, it’s always a good time to talk about burgers. For those wine oenophiles – that’s what they call wine experts (not me) – or even those who just like wine regardless of their own expertise (that’s me), matching up burgers and wine is an interesting pairing.

Hamburger and wines

Again, let’s get this straight: I’m not an expert. I’ve talked about my growth in the world of wine from a level not too long ago that thought sophistication in drinking wine was ‘Two Buck Chuck’. I’m a work in progress when it comes to knowledge and wine. And yes, I’ve been a homebrewer for a couple decades now and almost any one of the collection I’ve made go well with burgers.

Is Zin the answer, or maybe … ? 

And still, burgers and wine isn’t a particularly hard coupling of food and drink and a majority of folks would consider any red blend as a typical pairing for a hamburger. A very good friend of mine, who passed away last year, was a master winemaker of the zinfandel varietal, and his wine easily went with a nice big slab of beef including hamburgers. He also liked malbecs from Argentina and that certainly worked for me.

Most experts will say you need big bold fruity wines for burgers.  My friend’s zin fit that mode but other friends of mine from Christian Lazo Wines have a barbera that would work great.

Burgers and wine

My little bit of knowledge tells me the toppings you add might matter as to what wine fits best. I’ve steered away from Merlot like a lot of people, but in the past I’ve had good luck with the Bordeaux varietal – again not an expert but Merlot seems to handle a wide variety of foods. Cabernet Sauvignon is king and goes well with some of my organic heirloom tomatoes, so if you’re piling them on to your hamburger, certainly cab would work. Is Cab too bold for burgers? You be the judge … but try it.


Let’s not forget some like whites when they drink wine and let’s face it, it usually hot this time of year and a nice light wine might be a better match. My expertise isn’t large in this case but I’ve read that chardonnays can match up well with hamburgers. You could also go with a rose’ – tell me I’m wrong, you wouldn’t be the first.

We’ve tried port with hamburgers and either we had too many prior to eating to know the difference, but it fit with all the different flavors a burger can have.

Cheer Up! Wine a Little!

I’ve heard folks talk about drinking champagne (not white) with hamburgers but that might be a little over the top … or maybe not. Hmmm. Anyway, there are some ideas at the Press Democrat that you might find helpful.

Have fun

Hamburgers and wine is a fun experience, so don’t over think it. I’m not sure expensive wines fit with burgers and since it’s a celebratory but casual time during Independence Day and we’re outside in the warmth of the sun, lower priced wines seem to match better with the situation … maybe that’s my inner Two Buck talking.

So have I totally confused you? Good, because that’s the way I am most of time when trying to do my best with wines. In the end, I think we’ll keep it simple with barbecue ribs, grilled cheeseburgers and some zin.  Have a happy Independence Day and remember, what’s good now, will be good all summer.

Salootie Patootie,

Daryle W. Hier