Zen Breath 3-2-1

Note: You are receiving this email because you subscribed to my weekly 3-2-1 newsletter or you subscribed to the Koi Zen Cellars newsletter. Every Friday, I share 3 wine terms, 2 quotes from me, and 1 question for you to ponder. Occasionally, I also send out long-form articles on habits and self-improvement.

"Without bad, there is no concept of good "
~ The Zen Winemaker ~

NOTE: New Giggle Section Added Below

3 terms, 2 quotes, 1 question

February 4, 2022

Happy Friday! Time to wrap up this week and get ready for the next! Take a deep breath and kick off the weekend on a positive note. Let's consider where we have been, improve it, and move forward next week. Packing the most content into the least words and trying to change the world, one glass at a time.

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3 - Wine Terms - Bad Wine

There comes a point in every wine drinkers journey that they run across a bad bottle of wine. It's inevitable, sometimes preventable, and sometimes just poor selection. Let's cover the primary reasons your beloved wine may act more like an unruly child.
  1. Wine Faults - craft wine is a living breathing substance - most commercial wine is sterile. Wine is this complex mixture of thousands of different compounds, acids, solids, oils, esters, and microbes - yes buggies. Winemakers use substances like Sulfites to help manage the micro organisms which generally keeps them in check. However, sometimes the buggies get a little excited and cause a problem.

    Commercial wineries will often sterile filter the wine which strips away all organic material and prevents microbial spoilage, though is also strips complexity, texture, color and body. Commercial wineries often us highly toxic chemicals such as Velcorin. Velcorin is a known neurotoxin and carcinogen, which can cause cancer or potentially other harmful side effects. However, it’s marketed as a microbiological agent to preserve products and extend shelf life. It is never disclosed on the ingredient label. The FDA says it doesn’t need to be disclosed because it “dissipates” within 24 hours… inside of an enclosed and sealed can? Where does it go? (step down off the soap box)

    There are three primary wine faults that you may run across.

    Brett - Brettanomyces is a spoilage bacteria that can get into the bottle and make the wine taste like barnyard, manure, gym socks, and these are some of the least offensive descriptors. Sometimes a touch of Brett, adds complexity and interest, however sometimes it skunks the wine.

    Cork Taint - cork taint, TCA, or "corked wine" is primarily caused when chlorine gets into the wine usually from sanitizing equipment. Corked wine has a very distinctive wet cardboard smell and the aromas will be suppressed. Some people are highly sensitive to TCA while most people don't notice a difference.

    Oxidized Wine - is caused when the wine is exposed to too much oxygen either during the winemaking process or after bottling. Oxidized wine will often have a brownish tint and the flavors may be muted. Heavily oxidized wine may have a cooked or prune taste and smell.

    The good news is that none of these faults can harm you except possibly the toxic chemicals found in most large scale commercial wines.
  2. Improper Wine Storage - this is a big one and is completely preventable. The biggies are heat, position, and time.

    Did you know that you can ruin a bottle of wine in 15 minutes in a hot trunk? Or a few days in bright sunlight. Or being stored over 80 degrees F (26C).

    The funny thing is, much of the large scale commercial wines (we call them Franken Wine, as in Frankenstein) have been manipulated so severely that they are almost indestructible; I guess that's a plus.

    But try to keep your wines out of direct sunlight, on their side (or cork down) and at as even of a temperature as possible. Interior closets, concrete floors, under stairs, under first floor beds, all are great storage locations. And try to keep the temp below 80.
  3. Improper Aging: the next storage issue is what we call "alcohol abuse". And that is when you keep your wines for TOO LONG. Most wines don't improve over time, they actually do the reverse. A bottle of 2 buck chuck will not turn into 3 buck chuck if you age it. But many of you are guilty of this - you find the great bottle and keep it waiting for some special event only to find out you have waited too long and the wine is on a slow death spiral - you have abused your alcohol. (For me, any day I wake up is a special day - so drink your wines)

    We recommend that you drink your reds (provided they have been properly stored) within 7-10 years. The higher the alcohol content the faster it should be consumed. Whites last about 3-6 years so drink up. And if you are having problems drinking your wine - I am sure we can find people to help you do the deed.
Koi Zen Cellars Policy - we pride ourselves on making the best product we can using minimal intervention. We limit our sulfite usage, we don't sterile filter our wines, we don't add toxic chemicals or stabilizers, we don't manipulate our wines, never produce Franken wine, and we pick our fruit for ripeness not shelf life. Because of this, we get an occasional bad bottle of wine - either through our fault or not.

If you ever have a bad bottle if Koi Zen Wine, please cork it and bring it back to us so we can try to improve our processes. We will gladly give you a replacement bottle and a huge apology.

2 - Quotes from Me:

1. "Don't fault the wine if you don't like it." ~ The Zen Winemaker

2. "Be kind to yourself." ~ The Zen Winemaker

1 - Question to ponder:


I used to be a very judgmental person - I had an opinion about everything and anything. I knew right from wrong, good from bad, helpful versus harmful.

But then something changed - or should I say, I was finally in a place to understand that things change.

This really became apparent about 7 years ago when I started a regular mediation practice. I was a novice and was sitting still in the backyard trying to clear my mind. Suddenly the neighbor decided that this was the perfect time to cut the grass - the lawn mower screamed and I was annoyed - well more than annoyed, I was pissed off. 'How dare he interrupt my meditation? Doesn't he know that he is disturbing me?' The more I sat,  the more I fumed. That moment I passed 'a little' judgement on my neighbor and his lawnmower.

Over time I realized that my neighbor had no clue he was disrupting me and that there was no foul on his part. It was I who had the problem - a problem I created out of nothing except my own selfishness to have some quiet time alone. Over time I began to understand that the lawnmower, or car alarm, or birds chirping were just noises, neither good nor bad - just noises and they no longer disturb my meditation practice - I stopped judging them.

This incident was impactful and I began to realize all of the other areas in my life where I would pass judgement. It could be about other people, the world, the politics, my neighbors, and myself for my own transgressions. And just like the lawnmower, where I had assigned a 'good' versus 'bad' judgment,  I began to wonder about the basis of my myriad judgements. The more I looked the more I found it was me who had the issue and not them.

Now I try to practice acceptance . Through realizing that you can not have good without bad, light without dark, I started to accept things for what they were versus what I judged them to be. The more I began to accept things, the more I could understand, and negotiate the obstacles opposed to just bitching about things that didn't go my way. This practice also allows my to keep a more open mind about things and other peoples viewpoints creating greater understanding opposed to conflict.

Don't get me wrong -  I still have some very strong beliefs about certain things and don't know if I will ever find acceptance with these, but it is worth the effort.


What are your hot buttons that you could replace judgement with acceptance to make your life a bit better?

P.S. Update - read about someone pushing my buttons.

~~ Notice ~~

The little things you could and should do to make the world a better place



Darius Miller - The Zen Winemaker

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Author of a #1 best seller:
'The Zen Winemaker - Follow Your Dreams & Overcome Your Fears'

Creator of:

'The Zen Wine Tasting Journal - Life is too short to drink bad wine, or to wear ugly underwear.'

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Zen Giggles:

My ability to remember song lyrics from the 80s far exceeds my ability to remember why I walked into the kitchen.

More than a six pack of beer in the fridge starts to look like a drinking problem, but a whole wine cellar is considered very classy.