Wine for Normal People

By Wine for Normal People

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A podcast for people who like wine but not the attitude that goes with it. We talk about wine in a fun, straightforward, normal way to get you excited about it and help you drink better, more interesting stuff. Back catalog available at

Episode Date
Ep 241: Albariño -- The White Gem of Spain

We share the story of Spain's Albariño/ Portugal's Alvarinho. From ancient fame, to near extinction, and then triumphant resurrection, this grape is one of our favorites -- aromatic, acidic, complex yet delicious! It's a must in your wine rotation.

We also discuss Underground Wine Events, Washington D.C. on November 3. Go to to get your tickets before we sell out! $59 per person!

Here are the show notes: 


  • Spanish/Portuguese name for aromatic, high quality vine
  • In Spain considered to be among the oldest varieties of the northwest



  • The regular: Romans, Cistercian monks, big fame in the 14th and 15th centuries with the discovery of the New World /colonies
  • And its own quirks: Trade wars and export bans in the 19thcentury led to overcapacity and vineyard abandonment, and some issues with drugs
  • Phylloxera devastated vineyards, during the replanting in the early 20th century, Albariño began to emerge as the region’s star, with new generation of skilled winemakers – many of them women



  • Rías Baixas called “Green Spain”,
  • Moderate year-round temperatures, damp Atlantic-influenced climate but lots of sunshine for ripening granite and alluvial soil
  • Rías Baixas, “Lower Rivers”—referring to the four estuaries in the region’s southwestern edge. Albariño 96 percent of plantings.
  • of Producers: Approx. 180


Portugal – Alvarinho

  • Grown in northwest Portugal over the border in Galicia in NW Spain
  • Great diversity – probably an old variety


Some in CA, Oregon, Australia thought they were growing it but it was the French grape Savagnin


In the vineyard

  • Moderately vigorous, controlling yields is important
  • Thick skins so they can withstand damp climate
  • Trellising system is important – can reduce or increase yields, help with reducing mildew issues but can encourage overcropping too
  • Most all grapes are hand-harvested



  • Temperature control in modern, stainless steel tanks
  • Wild yeast fermentation is common
  • Sometimes oak matured or aged for years on the lees (dead yeast cells) in stainless before release, for texture and increasing the aging potential of Rias Baixas wines.


Wine Flavors:

  • Peach, apricot, melon, pineapple, mango and honeysuckle. Sometimes a salty marine note. High in acidity with alcohol levels of 11.5–12.5%.


DO Rías Baixas - five distinct sub-regions:

  • Ribeira do Ulla: Inland, newer area
  • Condado do Tea: inland, warmer, drier area, less fruity, earthier 
  • Val do Salnés: on the Atlantic coast, northern half of the region, features the most coastline. crisp, aromatic “melony”, salinity, minerality acidity and freshness
  • Soutomaior: Smallest sub-regions
  • O Rosal: Peachier, softer style


And thanks to this week's sponsors!

YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help!Check it out today:



Last Bottle

I love this service!! Last Bottle Wines finds great wines and offers them at a one time discount. Last Bottle Wines:

  • Is a fun way to discover the best wines at the lowest prices
  • Maintains relationships with producers in the most prestigious wine regions around the world and traveling to Europe several times each year to eat with, stay with, drink with, walk the vineyards with the people who make the wines.
  • Offer a range of prices from low end to high end $9 to $99 and the wines range from the lesser known kinds like Albariño and Bläufrankish to Cabernet, Merlot and Chardonnay.

Visit: and join to get a $10 instant credit to use toward your first order. Invite your wine drinking pals and they’ll get $10 instantly and you get $30 when they make their first buy.


Green Chef 

Green Chef is a USDA certified organic company that includes everything you need to easily cook delicious meals that you can feel good about! Meals plans include: Paleo, Vegan, Vegetarian, Keto, Gluten-Free, Omnivore, and Carnivore options! 

Green Chef is now owned by HelloFresh to create one awesome company with a. wide array of meal box offering! We are working with both brands so make sure you check out Green Chef at for $50 off your first box! 


Aug 12, 2018
Ep 240: The Reds of Austria --the Pinot Noir alternatives

Austria Overview:

  • Same latitude as Burgundy – more continental, less Atlantic influence in climate
  • Soils: Range of soils
  • Lots of different grapes
    • Whites: Grüner, Riesling
    • Top reds: Blauer zweigelt with St. Laurent, Blaufränkisch, Pinot Noir
  • Great value for $ -- not a lot of mass brands=

Austria reds -- growing region overview

  1. Pannonian Area – southeast of Vienna
  2. Warmer climate
    1. Burgenland: in eastern Austria, south of Vienna and along the border with Hungary
    2. 14 red wine grape varieties for production of quality wine – 1/3 of Austrian vineyard

The Grapes:


  • Origins: Crossing between Blauer Zimmettraube x Gouais Blanc (Weißer Heunisch)
  • Often confused with Gamay
  • In the vineyard: Vigorous, early budding, late ripening, needs warm climate. Can be inky with no flavor if over-cropped but laws keep yields down
  • 6% of total vineyard
  • Flavors: Brambly berry or cherry, fresh acidity with some tannin. Spiciness and depth, with good acidity
  • Key Areas
  • Burgenland:
    1. Center of red wine culture in Austria
    2. Südburgenland:majority are hobby winemakers, or supplement their income with another job or profession, wines sold in Buschenschank (local taverns)
    3. Eisenberg DACis fantastic for lighter style Blaufränkisch with mineral notes
    4. Leithaberg DAC–cooler sites away from lake. Often blends of Blaufränkisch with up to 15% Zweigelt, St. Laurent. Fuller bodied with mineral notes.
    5. Neusiedlersee: Near Lake Neusiedl. Styles range from unoaked and fruity to oak aged and big, can be blended
  • Niederösterreich, Carnuntum:
    1. Aromatic, dark berry notes, peppery spice, licorice and tar with bright freshness
    2. Vineyards in three principal hilltops south of the Danube
    3. Hot summers and cold winters, an influence that in combination with the moderating effects of the nearby Danube and (Lake Neusiedl) ripen grapes


St. Laurent

  • Origin: From Niederösterreich. Name probably refers to St. Lawrence whose Saint’s day falls on 10 August, when variety veraison begins.
  • In the vineyard: mid-ripening, needs deep soils or irritgation or at risk from late frosts, can develop rot in the fall – very finicky. Low/erratic yields. Can be delicious, ripens earlier than Pinot Noir, can grow on more diverse sites than Pinot – better grape for growers
  • Flavors: Aromatic, velvety/silky, good color, good tannin with sour or dark cherry, blackberry, smoke and black pepper spice. Like a powerful Pinot
  • Key Areas:
    • Mostly SE of Vienna in Burgenland’s Neusiedlersee
    • Thermenregion: Name from thermal, sulphuric water springs. Cistercian monks revitalised viticulture during the Middle Ages
    • West of Vienna in Weinvertel – large region



  • Origin: 1922 at the Teaching and Research Centre for Viticulture and Horticulture (LFZ) in Klosterneuburg. Cross of Blaufränkisch x St. Laurent. Grandchild of Gouais Blanc and Pinot (like Burgundy)
  • Most widespread red in Austria, in all wine-producing regions
  • In the vineyard: Early budding, earlier ripening than Blaufrankisch, yields are high, have to manage vigor. Demands little from the soil
  • Flavors: Spiced cherry and raspberry withexotic spice, floral notes, and cinnamon.Can be early-drinking with no oak OR stronger wines from barrel aging
    • Can be blended -- with Cabernet and Merlot or with Blaufränkisch and St. Laurent
    • Can be like Beaujolais. Style depends on yield and vinification: bigger yields, simple; low yields -- full-bodied, can age
  • Key Areas:
    • Mostly Niederosterreich -- Kamptal is very good, marketed under the designation of "Niederösterreich".
    • In Weinviertel north of Vienna
    • Best wines from Neusiedlersee, Burgenland: reflects the region's climate and soil

Pinot Noir

  • One to watch. Can range – light and boring to more layered examples


Thank you to our sponsors this week who make the podcast possible:


YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help!Check it out today:


The Great Courses Plus 

Who doesn't want to learn!? The Great Courses Plus makes you smarter and more well rounded. With thousands of outstanding video lectures that you can watch or listen to any time and anywhere, The Great Courses Plus is an easy way to stimulate your brain and make you smarter!

Challenge yourself! Learn guitar like I'm trying to with Learn How to Play Guitar

For a free trial, support the show and go to my special URL 





Aug 04, 2018
Ep 239: Field Blends with Bill Nachbur of ACORN Winery

Blends are growing in popularity and this week we have the master of blends that are made in the vineyard: Bill Nachbur of ACORN Winery in the Russian River Valley of Sonoma, CA. If you are curious about old-school viticulture, this is a must-listen.

Here are some of the topics we address:

  • Bill tells us about field blends and the difference between a field blend and a blended wine
  • We discuss the costs and benefits of field blends? 
  • We talk about why ACORN does field blends, even though monoculture is the modern way and how he has sustained the practice through the years
  • ACORN farms sustainably. We talk about the environmental/vineyard benefits of field blends
  • We chat about the effect of field blends on flavor of finished wine and how it affects winemaking decisions? 
  • I ask Bill if it's possible to NOT be a farmer (just a winemaker) and still make a successful field blend...
  • And we tackle some exciting news: ACORN will soon have a white wine!! We talk about the genesis of field of blended grapes and how challenging it can be! 

Visit: for the stuff we address on the podcast and to order Bill's outstanding wines! 


Thank you to our sponsors this week:

YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help!Check it out today:


Last Bottle

Last Bottle Wines finds great wines and offers them at a one time discount. Last Bottle Wines:

  • Is a fun way to discover the best wines at the lowest prices
  • Maintains relationships with producers in the most prestigious wine regions around the world and traveling to Europe several times each year to eat with, stay with, drink with, walk the vineyards with the people who make the wines.
  • Offer a range of prices from low end to high end $9 to $99 and the wines range from the lesser known kinds like Albariño and Bläufrankish to Cabernet, Merlot and Chardonnay.

Visit: and join to get a $10 instant credit to use toward your first order. Invite your wine drinking pals and they’ll get $10 instantly and you get $30 when they make their first buy.




A meal kit delivery service that shops, plans and delivers your favorite step-by-step recipes and pre-measured ingredients so you can just cook, eat and enjoy! Delivered right to your door, with a variety of chef-curated recipes that change weekly, this is a new way to eat and cook! We love it! 

For $30 off your first week of HelloFresh, visit and enter WINE30. You won't regret it! 

Jul 23, 2018
Ep 238: All About Wine Bottles

After more hairy details on our crazy and delayed move, and a shout out to UNC Business School, our alma mater for helping when things got tough, we discuss the topic: Glass bottles, which are the most common container for finished wine and their evolution is fascinating!



  • Antiquity – long jars/amphora
  • Romans invented blowing glass –maybe used to serve wine
  • 1636 – first time glass bottles in post-Roman Britain
  • 1690 – 1720 a typical bottle looked like an onion!
  • In the 1730s, binning (storage on wine on its side) became popular and that made cork a better closure – kept cork wet and not dried out. The cylindrical shape was popularized!


Glass making and glass size

  • Bottle glass is made by heating together sand harvested from dunes, sodium carbonate, and limestone. If recycled bottles are used, they’re crushed, which hastens the melting process. Furnaces get to 2,700˚F temps to heat glass enough so you can shape it!
  • Size: Larger bottles = slower aging 
  • Standard: 750 ml, half/split is 375 ml
  • Magnum: 2 bottles (1.5 L)
  • Jerobaum: 4 bottles (3 L)
  • Rehoboam: 6 bottles (4.5L)
  • Methuselah: 8 bottles (6 L)
  • Salmanazar: 12 bottles (9 L)
  • Balthazar: 16 bottles (12 L)
  • Nebuchadnezzar: 20 bottles (15 L)
  • (I forgot to mention Melchior! 24 bottles)



The Marketing behind bottles…

  • Regions adopt a specific bottle size and shape
  • Thicker glass makes a bottle stronger, which is useful for sparkling, and large-format bottles, but for most wines it’s for perception and the extra cost is passed on to you
  • Shapes:
    • Burgundy bottles – sloping shoulders, long neck
    • Bordeaux – big shoulders
    • Flutes – no punt
    • Champagne bottles – thick because they have to protect 6 atmospheres of pressure
  • Punt: is an inverse indentation. This is important for stability in Champagne bottles, but doesn’t matter for other bottles. A deep punt requires more glass to make, again the cost is passed to us! The flute shape has no punt!


  • We wrap with a discussion of bottle color – from brown, to dark green, to deadleaf to clear, we break it all down!



Thank you to our sponsors this week:

YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help!Check it out today:



The Great Courses Plus 

Who doesn't want to learn!? The Great Courses Plus makes you smarter and more well rounded. With thousands of outstanding video lectures that you can watch or listen to any time and anywhere, The Great Courses Plus is an easy way to stimulate your brain and make you smarter!

Learn how to be the best griller in your neighborhood with How to Master Outdoor Cooking

For a free trial, support the show and go to my special URL 



Last Bottle

Last Bottle Wines finds great wines and offers them at a one time discount. Last Bottle Wines:

  • Is a fun way to discover the best wines at the lowest prices
  • Maintains relationships with producers in the most prestigious wine regions around the world and traveling to Europe several times each year to eat with, stay with, drink with, walk the vineyards with the people who make the wines.
  • Offer a range of prices from low end to high end $9 to $99 and the wines range from the lesser known kinds like Albariño and Bläufrankish to Cabernet, Merlot and Chardonnay.

Visit: and join to get a $10 instant credit to use toward your first order. Invite your wine drinking pals and they’ll get $10 instantly and you get $30 when they make their first buy.






Jul 16, 2018
Ep 237: The Grape Miniseries - Grenache/Garnacha

This week, we focus on this splendid grape that has come into its own. From obscure blender to a star varietal, Grenache or Garnacha is a total crowd-pleaser and can be a delicious wine in its simplest and most complex formats. We give the lowdown on it -- from red to white to "furry" Grenache, I'm positive you'll hear about some wine in this podcast that will make you want to run out and get it! 


Here are the show notes:

Grape Overview

  • We cover the origin story -- the wine spread around around Mediterranean and we believe it originated in Spain in Aragón, moved north and south of Pyrenees to France. The Sardinians of Italy would argue this premise...
  • It's traditionally been a blender but now great varietal examples are available

Grape character:

  • Grenache is fruity, rich, sweet-tasting with red and black berry notes 
  • Its challenges: it ripens to high sugar levels and it can oxidize – even young wines brown around the rim. It can lack tannin
  • The key to great Grenache/Garnacha -- it NEEDS well drained soils and water stress to thrive and yields must be controlled!!
  • The vine has strong wood and is heat and wind tolerant -- it grows well in hot, dry climates.
  • Makes everything from rosé, to white, to sweet wines and does it well! 

We discuss Grenache Blanc (one of my faves!)

  • The wines of white Grenache are full bodied – fat and soft or floral, terroir-driven wines
  • Usually blended with Grenache Gris, Clairette, Marsanne, Roussane, Viognier, Macabeo, others
  • If yileds controlled, great full bodied wines that can be age worthy
  • Places: Châteauneuf-du-Pape,  California, South Africa, Priorat, CndP, Tarragona, Rioja, Navarra


Other mutations --  

  • Southern France and Sardinia: Grenache Rosé and Grenache gris make pale rosé and lightly tinted white wines. Pink skinned and more perfumed than Grenache blanc
  • Garnacha Peluda: wines lower in alcohol and higher in acidity that show spicy and savory notes 

Where do we find Grenache/Garnacha?


  • Rhone: Châteauneuf-du-Pape and Gigondas, Vacqueryas, and all over the southern Rhône - Grenache noir is the most common variety 
    • The GSM blend: Grenache can have a jam-like consistency when very ripe but usually adds bright fruit and alcohol to the blend. Syrah is typically blended to provide color and spice, while Mourvèdre can add elegance and structure to the wine
    • Rosé: Tavel and Lirac roses, Provence, Rousillon for rose,
  • Roussillon: dry wines, but also Vins Doux Naturels – Banyuls, Maury



  • Blends with Tempranillo, varietal as Garnacha
  • Considered a "workhorse" grape of low quality suitable for blending but Priorat's rise and New World Rhone Rangers sparked a re-evaluation the variety
  • North and east: Rioja, Navarra, Campo de Borja, Calatayud, Cariñena, Madrid, La Mancha, Priorat, Penedes
  • Dry farmed, concentrated and tannic
  • Aragón is the probable origin of the grape and has the largest surface of Garnacha in Spain  



  • Cannonau in Sardinia -- high alcohol, can be harsh and green. 

Other Old World regions– Other southern Italian places, Algeria, Israel, Morocco, Cyprus, also grown in Croatia


New World: Australia and California



  • Lots of GSM, some varietal wines
  • McLaren Vale = luscious richness and spicy notes
  • Barossa Valley =jammy, hugely fruity, can be over the top

United States

  • Used and abused at first -- grown in the hot central San Joaquin Valley because of its tolerance to heat and drought.
  • Made sweet "white Grenache" wines, a la white Zinfandel
  • Rhône Rangers movement in the late 20th c helped bring Grenache up in status -- rising in popularity and quality in CA
  • In the early 20th century, Grenache was one of the first successful grapes in Washington State.


Garnacha/Grenache is an amazing, do-all grape. There's a style for everyone, so try it if you haven't! 


Thank you to our sponsors this week:

YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help!Check it out today:



Last Bottle

Last Bottle Wines finds great wines and offers them at a one time discount. Last Bottle Wines:

  • Is a fun way to discover the best wines at the lowest prices
  • Maintains relationships with producers in the most prestigious wine regions around the world and traveling to Europe several times each year to eat with, stay with, drink with, walk the vineyards with the people who make the wines.
  • Offer a range of prices from low end to high end $9 to $99 and the wines range from the lesser known kinds like Albariño and Bläufrankish to Cabernet, Merlot and Chardonnay.

Visit: and join to get a $10 instant credit to use toward your first order. Invite your wine drinking pals and they’ll get $10 instantly and you get $30 when they make their first buy.



  • You can use the Vivino app to scan and keep track of wines
  • NOW -- Shop through their web store, which has great prices and a huge inventory! It can give you suggestions based on bottles you’ve liked in the past. 
  • Use their premium service to get 30 days free shipping
  • Visit to stock up 


A meal kit delivery service that shops, plans and delivers your favorite step-by-step recipes and pre-measured ingredients so you can just cook, eat and enjoy! Delivered right to your door, with a variety of chef-curated recipes that change weekly, this is a new way to eat and cook! We love it! 

For $30 off your first week of HelloFresh, visit and enter WINE30. You won't regret it! 



Jul 08, 2018
Ep 236: All About Cork with João Rui Ferreira of the Portuguese Cork Association

This week I am joined by João Rui Ferreira, the Chairman of APCOR, the Portuguese Cork Association. Established in 1956, the Portuguese Cork Association (APCOR) exists to promote natural cork and its products. We discuss everything from the environmental impacts of cork to why it's such a great closure for wine. Cork is a vital part of the wine industry and this podcast is a great way to learn about it! João is a fascinating guy! 


Here are the show notes. We discuss: 

  1. The tradition and history of cork and how/why it became the preferred closure for wine?
  2. How to make a wine cork and why corks are so unique
  3. What makes Portugal so ideal for cork production and some of the economic impacts of cork on Portugal
  4. The ecosystem for cork, called the montado, and why it is a model for sustainable forestry 
  5. The entire process of cork harvest to cork production! 
  6. Why cork is one of the most sustainable materials around
  7. The grades or quality of cork
  8. How cork benefits wine
  9. TCA/Cork taint and why rates have declined by more than 94% in the last several decades!
  10. Cork recycling 


Check out their YouTube Channel for great info: 



Thank you to our sponsors this week:

YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help!Check it out today:




  • You can use the Vivino app to scan and keep track of wines 
  • NOW -- Shop through their web store, which has great prices and a huge inventory! It can give you suggestions based on bottles you’ve liked in the past. 
  • Use their premium service to get 30 days free shipping
  • Visit to stock up 



Last Bottle

Last Bottle Wines finds great wines and offers them at a one time discount. Last Bottle Wines:

  • Is a fun way to discover the best wines at the lowest prices
  • Maintains relationships with producers in the most prestigious wine regions around the world and traveling to Europe several times each year to eat with, stay with, drink with, walk the vineyards with the people who make the wines.
  • Offer a range of prices from low end to high end $9 to $99 and the wines range from the lesser known kinds like Albariño and Bläufrankish to Cabernet, Merlot and Chardonnay.

Visit: and join to get a $10 instant credit to use toward your first order. Invite your wine drinking pals and they’ll get $10 instantly and you get $30 when they make their first buy.



The Great Courses Plus 

Who doesn't want to learn!? The Great Courses Plus makes you smarter and more well rounded. With thousands of outstanding video lectures that you can watch or listen to any time and anywhere, The Great Courses Plus is an easy way to stimulate your brain and make you smarter!

Learn how to be the best griller in your neighborhood with How to Master Outdoor Cooking

For a free trial, support the show and go to my special URL 






Jun 30, 2018
Ep 235: The Rebirth of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc with Simone Madden-Grey

Simone Madden-Grey, the Happy Wine Woman, is our guest host this week on a great topic! 

New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc has become either a staple or a joke (it's often called Mrs. Supermarket wine or Soccer Mom wine). But there is more to this category than just Marlborough's mass brands. It's time to take another look & get excited about this multifaceted wine that New Zealand does better than nearly any country. 


Here are the show notes: 

New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc: the stats: 

  • 72% of New Zealand’s production
  • 86% of NZ wine exported


Where do the stereo types come from -- we debunk the myths:

  • Myth 1: It is only an entry to wine product
    • New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc put New Zealand on the map as a serious wine producing nation with its accessible and highly drinkable style. BUT there are myriad styles  with the full gamut of white wine flavours available - and you can find one you love!
  • Myth 2: Cheap and accessible wine is poor quality wine
    • New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc has done an excellent job of providing a consistent quality product at a reasonable price, successfully challenging the traditional notion that good wine must be expensive. 
  • Myth 3: It is one dimensional, a “Soccer Mom” or “Mrs Supermarket” wine
    • Yes, it's a highly drinkable summer wine, but there are many different options within the category. Producers are experimenting with the use of oak and lees contact to add complexity and texture demonstrating a greater variety of occasions and food pairings it works well with. 
  • Myth 4: It is too herbaceous
    • Regions such as Martinborough in the Wairarapa, Hawkes Bay, Nelson and North Canterbury and the warmer sub-regions of Marlborough all make very distinctive wines that are totally different from one another


Style notes on the wines: 

Rule of thumb:

Cooler climates make brisker styles

Warm climate notes: Melon, nectarine, tropical fruit (guava) sweet lemon. Lower acidity. Can be softer or flabby.

North Island:

  • Hawkes Bay: grows on cooler sites at altitude. Richer, fuller styles with peach notes and good acidity, but a bigger body
  • Wairarapa: Can be cooler but still have abundant sun
    • Martinborough: very herbal, acidic SB
    • Masterton: Complex wines, more of a mix of herbs and soft fruit


South Island:

  • Marlborough– 2/3 of all vines in NZ are here
    • Action in Marlborough will be in the sub-regions going forward 
    • Southern Valleys – Omaka, Fairhall, Brancott, Ben Morvan, Waihopai Valleys – can make heavier styles of SB
    • Wairau –  intensity and a bigger body
    • Awatere – south of Wairau. Lower yields and more minerally, acidic profiles. Not full bodied. 
  • Nelson: A more elegant, restrained expression with minerality alongside tropical fruit and herbs
  • Canterbury: Alpine areas – crisp, acidic, minerally styles but some are heavier
  • Central Otago: purity of flavor. Mineral, gunflint, herbaceous, crisp, refreshing, stony



Thank you to our sponsors this week:

YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help!Check it out today:




  • You can use the Vivino app to scan and keep track of wines
  • NOW -- Shop through their web store, which has great prices and a huge inventory! It can give you suggestions based on bottles you’ve liked in the past. 
  • Use their premium service to get 30 days free shipping
  • Visit to stock up 


A meal kit delivery service that shops, plans and delivers your favorite step-by-step recipes and pre-measured ingredients so you can just cook, eat and enjoy! Delivered right to your door, with a variety of chef-curated recipes that change weekly, this is a new way to eat and cook! We love it! 

For $30 off your first week of HelloFresh, visit and enter WINE30. You won't regret it! 


The Great Courses Plus 

Who doesn't want to learn!? The Great Courses Plus makes you smarter and more well rounded. With thousands of outstanding video lectures that you can watch or listen to any time and anywhere, The Great Courses Plus is an easy way to stimulate your brain and make you smarter!

Learn Spanish like me!

For a free trial, support the show and go to my special URL 




Jun 23, 2018
Ep 234: The Greats -- Barbaresco and Barolo

This week: The Greats Barolo and Barbaresco of Piedmont, Italy. These two wines are both 100% Nebbiolo, and are fragrant, tannic, acidic, and outstanding. We cover the similarities and key differences between these greats and why each is a force in its own right.


Here are some key show notes: 


  • King of Wines and Wine of Kings
  • Production Zone in Province of Cuneo: Barolo, Castiglione Falletto, Serralunga d’Alba, parts of Cherasco, Diano d’Alba, Grinzane Cavour, La Morra, Monforte d’Alba, Novello, Roddi, Verduno
  • Production must be on hillsides: no valley floors or humid, flat areas nothing with northern exposure – mandated by 2010 law 
  • The soils and mesoclimates vary slightly, subtle differences but also winemaking plays a big role
  • Until mid 19thc Barolo was SWEET -- 1835, Paolo Francesco Staglieno published a winemaking manual about how to make wine stable for transport – fermenting dry was one of the ways.

The Barolo wars: Traditionalist v Modern 

  • Modern: “international style” fermentation is 10 days (less tannin), age wine in new French oak barriques (smaller, more oak flavor). Very different flavors – fruitier, more new oak, doesn’t age as well. May illegally put in Barbera, Cab, Syrah… unproven as of yet
  • Modernists producers: Elio Altare, Domenico Clerico, Robero Voerzio, Angelo Gaja, Renato Ratti 


  • Traditionalist: Extended maceration, long cask aging, less fruit requires age and patience.
  • Traditional producers: Giacomo Conterno, Bruno Giacosa, Giuseppe Mascarello, Capellano, Marcarini, and Giuseppe Rinaldi 


Barolo wine aromas/flavors:

  • Classic: light in color, smells like tar and roses, very aromatic – dried fruit, mint, leather, licorice, plum, tobacco, herbs, truffles
  • Standard Barolo must be aged for three years — two in cask and one in bottle. 
  • Riserva: Aged for five years upon release — three in cask and two in bottle.
  • Barolo Chinato -- digestif



  • Barbaresco -- immediately to the east of Alba – communes of Barbaresco, Trieso, Neive plus part of San Rocco Seno d'Elvio
  • Vineyards on Tanaro river, go up northeast of Alba, closer to the river (the Tanaro), with higher fertility in the soil
  • Slight maritime climate – warmer, drier, milder than Barolo
  • Barbaresco Communes:
  • Barbaresco:
    • 45% of Barbaresco production, largest wineries 
    • light in color and body, well structured and aromatic.
    • Best cru: Asili, MartinengaMontefico, Montestefano and Rabajà 
  • Neive:
    • 31% of Barbaresco's production
    • Powerful and tannic expressions of Barbaresco if closer to the commune of Barbaresco, to the east, more sand, lighter wines
    • Albesani, Santo Stefano, Bricco di Neive, Gallina
  • Treiso
    • South of Barbaresco, highest altitude sites in the area, constant breezes, great diurnals
    • lightest in body, perfumed, higher acidity
    • Pajorè is best site
  • San Rocco Seno d'Elvio: floral with finesse


Barbaresco History

  • Cantina Sociale di Barbaresco was founded in 1896 by Domizio Cavazza: he died early in 1915, not until the late 1950s that Barbaresco was reignited -- with Bruno Giacosa and Angelo Gaja leading the way
  • Local parish priest, Don Fiorino Marengo, founded Produttori del Barbaresco cooperative cellar, the best co-op in Europe


  • Grapes ripen earlier, less tannic, need less aging
  • Aromatic – spicy, perfumed, floral with rose and violet, cherry, truffles, licorice, fennel, leather tar
  • Normale: 2 years of aging, 1 in wood
  • Riserva: four years of gaining, two in wood 

Best producers and vineyards: Gaja, Bruno Giacosa, Ceretto, Produttori del Barbaresco, Roana, La Spinetta, Rizzi, Marchesi di Gresy, Punset 



  • Size: Barbaresco is smaller and more consistent
  • Altitude: Barolo is higher than Barbaresco
  • Weather: Barbaresco gets less rain and bad weather.
  • Tannins: Barbaresco is better at an earlier age and lighter body than Barolo. Barolo is a better bet to hold for long periods.
  • Soils: in Barbaresco, the roots of the vines do not have to go as deep as with the thinner soils found in many parts of the Barolo zone -- less aggressive tannins for many Barbaresco.

 On or the other is NOT BETTER: they are DIFFERENT 


Thank you to our sponsors this week:

YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help!Check it out today:




  • You can use the Vivino app to scan and keep track of wines
  • NOW -- Shop through their web store, which has great prices and a huge inventory! It can give you suggestions based on bottles you’ve liked in the past. 
  • Use their premium service to get 30 days free shipping
  • Visit to stock up 



Last Bottle.   

Last Bottle Wines finds great wines and offers them at a one time discount. Last Bottle Wines:

  • Is a fun way to discover the best wines at the lowest prices
  • Maintains relationships with producers in the most prestigious wine regions around the world to ensure we get the best wines at the best prices when the opportunity arises
  • Offer a range of varietals and prices from low end to high end $9 to $99

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Addendum: the Cru of the regions



  • Bricco Viole
  • Brunate
  • Cannubi
  • Cannubi Boschis
  • Rue
  • San Lorenzo
  • Sarmassa
  • Via Nuova


La Morra:

  • Arborina
  • Brunate
  • Cereguio
  • Gattera
  • Giachini
  • Marcenasco
  • Rocche dell’Annunziata


Castiglione Falletto:

  • Bricco Rocche
  • Fiasc
  • Mariondino
  • Monprivato
  • Parussi
  • Pira
  • Rivera
  • Villero

Monforte d’Alba

  • Bussia
  • Cicala
  • Colonnello
  • Dardi
  • Ginestra
  • Mosconi
  • Munie
  • Romirasco
  • Santo Stefano


Serralunga d’Alba

  • Falletto
  • Francia
  • La Serra
  • Marenca
  • Marenca-Rivette
  • Margheria
  • Ornato
  • Parafada
  • Vigna Rionda



Barbaresco’s Cru:

  • *Asili
  • Ca' Grossa
  • Cars
  • Cavanna
  • Cole
  • Faset
  • *Martinenga
  • Montaribaldi
  • Montefico
  • Montestefano
  • Muncagota
  • Ovello
  • Pajé
  • Pora
  • *Rabajà
  • Rabajà-Bas
  • Rio Sordo
  • Roccalini
  • Roncaglie
  • Roncagliette
  • Ronchi
  • Secondine
  • Tre Stelle
  • Trifolera
  • Vicenziana


Nieve's Cru's

  • Albesani
  • Balluri
  • Basarin
  • Bordini
  • Bric Micca
  • Bricco di Neive
  • Canova
  • Cottà
  • Currà
  • Fausoni
  • Gaia Principe
  • Gallina
  • Marcorino
  • Rivetti
  • San Cristoforo
  • San Giuliano
  • Serraboella
  • Serracapelli
  • Serragrilli
  • Starderi



Treiso's Best Cru's

  • *Pajorè
  • Ausario
  • Bernadot
  • Bricco di Treiso
  • Casot
  • Castellizzano
  • Ferrere
  • Garassino
  • Giacone
  • Giacosa
  • Manzola
  • Marcarini
  • Meruzzano
  • Montersino
  • Nervo
  • Rizzi
  • Rocche Massalupo
  • Rombone
  • San Stunet
  • Valeirano
  • Vallegrande



The Cru of Barolo...


  • Bricco Viole
  • Brunate
  • Cannubi
  • Cannubi Boschis
  • Rue
  • San Lorenzo
  • Sarmassa
  • Via Nuova


La Morra:

  • Arborina
  • Brunate
  • Cereguio
  • Gattera
  • Giachini
  • Marcenasco
  • Rocche dell’Annunziata


Castiglione Falletto:

  • Bricco Rocche
  • Fiasc
  • Mariondino
  • Monprivato
  • Parussi
  • Pira
  • Rivera
  • Villero

Monforte d’Alba

  • Bussia
  • Cicala
  • Colonnello
  • Dardi
  • Ginestra
  • Mosconi
  • Munie
  • Romirasco
  • Santo Stefano


Serralunga d’Alba

  • Falletto
  • Francia
  • La Serra
  • Marenca
  • Marenca-Rivette
  • Margheria
  • Ornato
  • Parafada
  • Vigna Rionda
Jun 03, 2018
Ep 233: Wine and Cheese with Cheese Master Jill Davis

Wine and cheese are perfect partners and knowing more about each will help you go from good to great with pairings! Cheese Master Jill Davis of Murray's Cheese tells us all about cheese and we discuss how best to pair certain types of cheese with wine!

Here are the notes:

  • There is an amazing parallel history of fermented stuff -- we discuss the evolution of wine and cheese and how they are so very similar.
  • Jill gives us a primer on how to make cheese. We talk cows, sheep, goats, and buffalo and how seasons, geography, and diet all make a huge difference in how our cheese tastes. Little Miss Muffet gets a nod in this part of the show too (curds -n- whey, anyone?)
  • We discuss the various categories of cheese --fresh, bloomy rind, washed rind and what fits where. 
  • We talk about why European cheese is different/better than the cheese available in the US and UK often.
  • While still discussing cheese making and types, we weave in lots of info about pairing.
    • Bloomy rinds and Champagne
    • blue and a great sweet German Auslese
    • medium cheeses like wax Gouda with Beaujolais
    • washed rind or aged cheese with tannic, barrel aged reds.
    • And our favorite adage "what grows together, goes together!"
  • Finally, I offer some commentary on how wine may need to become more like cheese to get rid of the snobbery. It's up for debate, but it's food for thought!

Thanks to Jill Davis for her time and deep knowledge and to our sponsors this week! 



Thank you to our sponsors this week:

YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help!Check it out today:




  • You can use the Vivino app to scan and keep track of wines 
  • NOW -- Shop through their web store, which has great prices and a huge inventory! It can give you suggestions based on bottles you’ve liked in the past. 
  • Use their premium service to get 30 days free shipping
  • Visit to stock up 



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  • Audible content includes an unmatched selection of audiobooks and other audio products.
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Last Bottle

Last Bottle Wines finds great wines and offers them at a one time discount. Last Bottle Wines:

  • Is a fun way to discover the best wines at the lowest prices
  • Maintains relationships with producers in the most prestigious wine regions around the world and traveling to Europe several times each year to eat with, stay with, drink with, walk the vineyards with the people who make the wines.
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Visit: and join to get a $10 instant credit to use toward your first order. Invite your wine drinking pals and they’ll get $10 instantly and you get $30 when they make their first buy.


May 26, 2018
Ep 232: Loire's Central Vineyards (Sancerre, Pouilly Fume and more!)

It's a small part of the wine world but one you should know: the Central Vineyards of the Loire Valley, which include Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé, Menetou-Salon & others. Great Sauvignon Blanc, up and coming Pinot Noir, and fantastic rosé. History, soils and dorkiness abound in this podcast, which will make your mouth water and have you running out to get these wines ASAP! 


The Central Loire Vineyards: Overview

  • In the center of the Loire Valley, in the heart of France.
  • All of the Central Vineyard appellations are within 80 kilometres (50 miles) of center of France
  • Continental climate with decent rainfall




  • White, red, and rosé
  • 3 main types of soil in the two appellations:
    • Limestone (known locally as caillottes) – vines planted on white rock 
    • Kimmeridgean terres blanches (clay limestone)
    • Silex (flint) 
    • In Sancerre, the caillottes and terres blanches account for 40% each and silex accounts for 20% of vineyard soils
  • Often steepest vineyards best: Bué, Chavignol, Champtin
  • Producers: Alphonse Mellot, Domaines Fouassier and Vacheron, Lucien Crochet



Pouilly-Fumé and Pouilly-sur-Loire –


  • Pouilly-Fumé only Sauvignon Blanc
  • Pouilly-sur-Loire only Chasselas
  • Soils -- similar to Sancerre
  • Producers: Alexandre Bain, Domaine Didier Dagueneau, Ladoucette

Difference between Pouilly and Sancerre:

  1. Sancerre is a more cohesive appellation,  Pouilly has no clear centre – not touristy
  2. Sancerre has strong leading producers: Alphonse Mellot, Jean-Marie Bourgeois, Denis Vacheron and others, to promote the appellation.
    Pouilly – no cohesion: the late Didier Dagueneau attacked lax practices of his fellow producers. Ladoucette is largest producer is Pouilly -- is an international businessman based in Paris
  3. Pouilly has been lower quality than Sancerre in recent years. Shows promise but Sancerre is better quality and reliable



  • Southwest of Sancerre: More gently rolling than that of Sancerre
  • Vineyards more dispersed than Pouilly and Sancerre, more variable 
  • Revival going on now
  • Producers: Pierre and Isabelle Clément, Domaine du Chatenoy, Domaine Philippe Gilbert


  • All Sauvignon Blanc
  • First appellation created in Loire
  • Flattest of the areas, prone to hail 


  • Dry, crisp Sauv Blanc with some Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris for red and dry rosé
  • Slightly better than Quincy

Coteaux du Giennois 

  • Vines are close to the Loire, mostly on its eastern bank
  • Light-bodied, fruity and crisp, dry Sauvignon Blanc
  • Reds have to be PN and Gamay blend – not good
  • Dry rosé good 
  • The limestone soil is  flinty.


Châteaumeillant – only 1% exported,

  • Although included in the Central Loire, Châteaumeillant is apart from the rest - in the northern foothills of the Massif Central
  • Granitic soil (Granite)
  • Specializes in rosé wine known as vin gris, reds from Gamay and Pinot Noir grapes



Thank you to our sponsors this week:

YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:


The Great Courses Plus -- who makes you smarter and more well rounded! With thousands of outstanding video lectures that you can watch or listen to any time and anywhere, The Great Courses Plus is an easy way to stimulate your brain and make you smarter! For a free trial, support the show and go to my special URL 




A meal kit delivery service that shops, plans and delivers your favorite step-by-step recipes and pre-measured ingredients so you can just cook, eat and enjoy! Delivered right to your door, with a variety of chef-curated recipes that change weekly, this is a new way to eat and cook! We love it! 

For $30 off your first week of HelloFresh, visit and enter WINE30. You won't regret it! 



  • You can use the Vivino app to scan and keep track of wines 
  • NOW -- Shop through their web store, which has great prices and a huge inventory! It can give you suggestions based on bottles you’ve liked in the past. 
  • Use their premium service to get 30 days free shipping
  • Visit to stock up 
May 19, 2018
Ep 231: How to Improve Wine Notes with Ian Renwick

Wine notes run the gamut -- from detailed and esoteric (meat blood? Madagascar vanilla?) to cute-sy and dumb (like sunshine and deliciousness!). But are they useful to us as wine drinkers? What's the goal of a note? What SHOULD it say for it to be meaningful?

Ian and I discuss the state of notes and what we think could make them better. You'll let us know if we're on to something...

Here's an outline of what we discuss:

1. The purpose of a tasting note
2. Communication in wine and whether it's ok to have a lexicon (we debate -- I'm pro, he's con)
3. How wine pros are told to communicate and how that muddles things. We touch on our "outsider" perceptions of certifications (since we both came from other industries). Here are links to the grids we reference:
4. How critics communicate and how THAT muddles things
5. How marketers communicate and how THAT muddles things
6. And finally, getting to a better note -- what is normal and helpful? How do we all communicate better about taste sensation/aroma?
Here are some other articles on notes that we considered before we recorded:
From Decanter: 
Other Decanter articles:
From Wine Anorak

Thank you to:

YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:

May 13, 2018
Ep 230: The Biz of Small Wineries with Jim Morris and Oded Shakked of Longboard

Why have I devoted so many recent podcasts to interviewing small Sonoma wineries? Why did my partner, Laura, and I do an event featuring them and will do more in the future? And why do I regularly release the Big List: wineries owned by the huge, hulking wineries?  

This podcast pulls it all together! After a quick intro from me and Laura, I hold the first roundtable/discussion. Jim, Oded, and I talk about...

  • The state of wine in CA/around the world from a consolidation perspective 
  • What happens when a small winery is taken over by a large winery (personnel, vineyards, style changes, etc)
  • What happens for small guys when consolidation rules the day (what does this do to opportunity, to consumer choice, to  viability)
  • The economics of how the small producer gets no attention/gets squeezed in the sales cycle
  • How small wineries stay in business/economically viable in the face of more and more consolidation 
  • The quality question and big wineries 
  • What consumers can do to diversify their drinking

We hope you can see why the issue is so dear to our hearts and I hope you can see why I am such a champion of small producers these days! 


Thank you to our sponsors this week:

YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:


The Great Courses Plus -- who makes you smarter and more well rounded! With thousands of outstanding video lectures that you can watch or listen to any time and anywhere, The Great Courses Plus is an easy way to stimulate your brain and make you smarter! For a free trial, support the show and go to my special URL 



May 05, 2018
Ep 229: The Grape Miniseries, Barbera

A grape that MUST be in your arsenal, especially if you like Italian food, Barbera is diverse, food friendly, and darn tasty. The trick to the grape is to figure out the style you like and the place it's made. In this podcast we cover it all!



  • Barbera is one of Italy's top 5 most planted grapes, one of the 15 most planted in the world!
  • 60%+ is in Piemonte, but it's found in almost every region
  • We have no real idea of the parentage, but we know it's not related to the other Piedmont grapes...a strange anomaly that needs more investigation! 


About the Grape

  • Large bunches, oval, very dark blue berries – darkest of all the reds of Piemonte 
  • Productive, ripens late, can get out of control quickly so pruning is a must.
  • Even at high yields it tastes ok because of its acidity
  • Drought resistant, versatile in many soil types, adaptable


The Wine

  • The best are bright with good acid, cherry notes, earth, spice, low tannins
  • With barrel age the wine can be plummy, round, softer and more complex -- oak can "beef up" the wine
  • Barbera is a good blender but on its own can be tasty although it needs food
  • There is A LOT of variety in winemaking and character
  • Producers: Great producers of Barolo and Barbaresco make good Barbera
    • Giacomo Conterno, Braida, Marchesi Gresy, Vietti, Paolo Scavino,  Giuseppe Mascarello, La Spinetta, Gaja
    • Famed wine: Bricco dell'Uccellone





  • Barbera d’Asti and Barbera Monferrato Superiore DOCG, up to 15% Freisa, Grignolino, Dolcetto. Asti – Barbera is queen 
    • Nizza is the top wine – 100% Barbera, strict rules
    • Lighter in color than other appellations in Piedmont
    • Unofficial Classico region – between Nizza Monferrato, Vinchio, Castelnuovo Calcea, Agliano, Rocchetta, Belveglio – Barbera’s traditional best zone
  • Barbera d’Alba DOC
    • Smoother, richer, velvety Barbera – complex, powerful, dark in color
    • Alba is popular because good winemkaers are here – best Barolo is made here and those winemakers also make Barbera
    • limits the quality and quantities of the wines labeled with the Barbera d'Alba DOC. 
  • Barbera del Monferrato DOC
    • Barbera is blended with up to 15% Freisa, Grignolino, Dolcetto and can be slightly sparkling
    • Tart, fruity, light, sharp acidity, can be frizzante , not in the market
  • Lombardia: Oltrepo Pavese, some blended with Bonarda.  Usually good acidity, good with full food
  • Emilia-Romagna: often blended with other stuff


Other regions:

  • California
    • First planted in 1880s
    • Today: Bonny Doon in Central Coast, Peterson in Sonoma, many producers in Sierra foothills/Amador County, Lodi, Napa, Paso, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, Central Valley
  • Other US: Washington, Arizona, Oregon
  • Australia:
    • Barossa
    • Top producers: Brown Brothers, Crittenden
  • Argentina: 
    • Mendoza makes good Barbera, used for blending
  • Greece, Israel, Uruguay


Thank you to our sponsors this week:

YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:



The Great Courses Plus -- who makes you smarter and more well rounded! With thousands of outstanding video lectures that you can watch or listen to any time and anywhere, The Great Courses Plus is an easy way to stimulate your brain and make you smarter! For a free trial, support the show and go to my special URL 


The Great Courses Plus has a wonderful National Geographic Live! Series that I recommend checking out: Celebrating Human Cultures! It explores fascinating civilizations around the world like: aboriginal Australia, the women of Afghan, the people of Cuba and it's led by photographers, travel writers, and other experts from National Geographic. It's a great glimpse into how other people live around the world!



A meal kit delivery service that shops, plans and delivers your favorite step-by-step recipes and pre-measured ingredients so you can just cook, eat and enjoy! Delivered right to your door, with a variety of chef-curated recipes that change weekly, this is a new way to eat and cook! We love it! 

For $30 off your first week of HelloFresh, visit and enter WINE30. You won't regret it! 



Apr 21, 2018
Ep 228: The Greats - Châteauneuf-du-Pape

We begin a new series on the great wines of the world. Every so often we will profile one of the greatest wines on earth, talking about the history, the terroir, and why these wines are so special. We begin with the Southern Rhône gem: Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

Here are some of the notes from the show:

The Greats: Chateauneuf du Pape

  • Variable Appellation in southern Rhone that makes about 1 MM cases per year
  • Expensive and great because: tastes great, limited supply, and expensive winemaking techniques 
  • Profile: Rich spicy, full-bodied reds – product of Warm-climate viticulture. Can be tannic or jammy, White and (rare) rose are made too
  • The new generation in Châteauneuf-du-Pape is ambitious, quality minded and eager to show that their wines are worth the money. They keep some traditional ways of making the wine but are not afraid to use modern techniques as well.
  • The wine is consumed relatively young -5-6 years after bottling 


Châteauneuf-du-Pape: Location

  • In southeastern France/Southern Rhône about 2 miles/3 km east of Rhône river and 12 km/7.5 miles north of Avignon
  • Communes: Bedarrides, Courthezon, Orange, Sorgues

History: “Pope’s new castle” is translation

  • Pope Clement V Bertrand de Got, was elected pope in 1305. He transferred the papacy to Avignon in 1309.
  • Successor John XXII credited with developing papal vineyard in Chateauneuf-du-Pape, also developed Papal palace in Avignon
  • Following schism -- CndP and Avignon went back to countryside, wine was not important here until the 18th c (1700s)
  • Popes left, castle passed to the archbishop of Avignon, but it was too large and too expensive to maintain
  • La Nerthe or La Neste first in 1785 had an estate bottling
  • 1787 Thomas Jefferson was in the region and didn’t taste the wines – not relevant at that point
  • Phylloxera hit CndP right after it hit Gard in the Languedoc – devastating. Production not up to pre-phylloxera levels until the 1950s


  • 90% is red wine, used to add white to add freshness to red
  • Today typical blend:
    • 50-70% Grenache
    • 10-30% Mourvedre
    • Up to 20% Syrah Cinsault Counoise and Vaccarese
    • Up to 10% Clairette, Picpoul, and Bourboulenc (whites)
  • Reds: Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah, Cinsault, Counoise, Muscardin, Vaccarèse, Picpoul noir, Terret noir
  • Whites: Roussanne, Clairette, Bourboulenc, Picardin
  • Others: Clairette Rosé, white and pink Picpoul and Grenache)


The Land: Variation – soils, mix of grapes, mesoclimates, differences in vinification 

  • Soils: Some large pebbles – galets –in many vineyards. Retain heat, good for low, bush-trained vineyards (gobelet). Mainly varied soils –some calcareous, some rocky
    • Most own parcels in varied areas – blending
  • Climate: Hotter sites – tough when young, concentrated. South facing slopes can be too hot, especially with heat retaining pebbles. Blends from different subzones – work best, some single vineyards (can be too big)



Top producers:

  • Chateau Rayas
  • Chateau de Beaucastel (Hommage à Jacques Perrin, Roussanne Vieilles Vignes
  • Domaine Henri Bonneau (Réserve des Célestins and Cuvee Marie Beurrier)
  • Domaine de Marcoux – 2 sisters run it (Cuvée Vieilles Vignes), biodynamic
  • Clos de Papes
  • Domaine de Pegaü – classically styled wines (Cuvee Laurence)
  • Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe
  • Les Cailloux (Cuvee Centenaire)


Recent great vintages: 2005, 2007, 2010, 2015, 2016


Please support our (delicious) sponsor, HelloFresh:

A meal kit delivery service that shops, plans and delivers your favorite step-by-step recipes and pre-measured ingredients so you can just cook, eat and enjoy! Delivered right to your door, with a variety of chef-curated recipes that change weekly, this is a new way to eat and cook! We love it! 

For $30 off your first week of HelloFresh, visit and enter WINE30. You won't regret it! 



Apr 14, 2018
Ep 227: Derek Van Dam, CNN Weatherman on Weather and Wine

Famous CNN weatherman and meteorologist, Derek Van Dam, comes on to school us about how weather and climate work and we discusstheir effects on vineyards and regions the world 'round. A fun, lively show with a great friend and smart guy!

Follow Derek on Social Media!!!


Here are some of the topics we discuss:

1. The difference between weather and climate 

2. What is climate change? How many years of data do we use to predict or confirm it? What is climate change doing to places that grow wine grapes:

  • Australia 
  • South Africa 
  • California
  • And on the flip side: the UK 

3. Given that the climate seems to be heating up the world, what new regions of the world could be suitable for agriculture/viticulture that weren’t previously?

4. Is there ANY validity to the affect of lunar cycles on the land/agriculture (a la biodynamic philosophy)?

5. What do you think about the Farmer’s Almanac and other long-term prediction tools for weather? How far in advance can you actually tell what’s going to happen with weather?

6. What is the jet stream? 

7. What are the effects of fog, wind, ocean currents, hail, La Niña and El Niño?

Thanks to our sponsor this week:

The Great Courses Plus -- who makes you smarter and more well rounded! With thousands of outstanding video lectures that you can watch or listen to any time and anywhere, The Great Courses Plus is an easy way to stimulate your brain and make you smarter! For a free trial, support the show and go to my special URL 


The Great Courses Plus has a wonderful National Geographic Live! Series that I recommend checking out: Celebrating Human Cultures! It explores fascinating civilizations around the world like: aboriginal Australia, the women of Afghan, the people of Cuba and it's led by photographers, travel writers, and other experts from National Geographic. It's a great glimpse into how other people live around the world!

Apr 07, 2018
Ep 226: Bucher Vineyards, true farmers in Russian River Valley of Sonoma, CA

In one of our final in the series spotlighting small Sonoma producers, we meet Diane and John Bucher of Bucher Vineyards and Bucher Farms. This is a podcast truly about terroir and farming, when you get down to it --John Bucher is a fourth generation farmer, and this show is unique because his perspective is so focused on the land and on farming. It's fantastic! 

Bucher Vineyards and Farms is not just a grape growing and winemaking concern. It's an organic dairy farm with over 400 cows AND a premium vineyard that sells to high end wineries that you definitely have heard of if you know Russian River Valley Pinot Noir (Adam Lee of Siduri fame is their winemaker!).

The Buchers own 50+ acres of premium wine grapes, in the north end of the Russian River Valley and make exceptional Pinot Noir, rosé, and Chardonnay all from their own vineyard. Here are some of the topics we cover:

  • John's Swiss family history and his true, and unadulterated love of the land, his animals and of farming
  • How the Buchers got into wine and how John taught himself about viticulture
  • What it takes to be an organic dairy farm, and how that translates to care in the vineyard
  • John's love of Pinot Noir and how it can showcase his land better than anything else
  • Adam Lee's role in working with the Bucher's to let John's work in the vineyard shine through
  • The style of Bucher Vineyards and how their Pinot Noir designates are differentiated
  • The benefits of being small, how they get the word out about their wine and what their goals are for the future! 


A fantastic winery, truly happy, delightful people, and great wine! Who could ask for more!?


And thanks to our sponsor this week: 

BarkBox is a delivery of 4 to 6 natural treats and super fun toys curated around a surprise theme each month. For dogs, BarkBox is like the joy of a million belly scratches.

Established in 2011, BarkBox is committed to making dogs happy, and they work with local and independent businesses to achieve this. In fact, they only work with vendors who also care deeply about the health and happiness of dogs.

BarkBox is concerned with all dogs, even those who don't have a human to call their own. They support shelters, rescues and non-profits across the US that help dogs find their forever homes. Having shipped over 50 million toys and treats so far, they’ve also learned a ton about what engages dogs. Aside from the unique and fun ‘pawducts’ from local vendors found in each BarkBox, the company itself designs many of their own products through their Bark & Co brand. They paw-pick the best all-natural treats and innovative toys to match a dog’s unique needs, including allergies!

  • Every month, BarkBox paw-picks the best all-natural treats and innovative toys to match a dog’s unique needs, including allergies and heavy chewer preferences.

  • All edibles are made in the USA or Canada and 100% of our products are tested on animals (our own)

  • BarkBox is a great way to try a variety of treats and toys from local and small businesses that you may not otherwise be able to find.

Support the podcast and show your dog some love:

Mar 31, 2018
Ep 225: Kathleen Inman, Pinot Noir Goddess of Inman Family Wines, Sonoma, CA

This week, we are honored to have Kathleen Inman – winegrower, winemaker, forklift driver, salesperson – of Inman Family Wines. She started Inman with the 2000 planting of a plot of land - Olivet Grange Vineyard (OGV), on the corner of Piner Road and Olivet Lane in the Russian River valley. A little over 10 acres, it’s mostly Pinot noir with some Pinot gris, but we’ll talk about 3 acres or so for vegetables and herbs, which seems so relevant and important  to Kathleen’s story, and all the ways she makes her wine with as little impact as possible to the planet.

Here are the notes: 


    • Kathleen talks about what was it was like to grow up in Napa and its influence on her and her wines
    • She discusses her “aha!” wine moment with Pinot at UC-Santa Barbara and how it set her on the path to getting into wine
    • Kathleen shares how her life as an accountant, consultant, and head hunter helped her in the wine biz 
    • She shares how her time in the UK taught her about gardening, the land, and wine culture that changes how she thinks about wine now
    • Kathleen tells us how and why farming in concert with nature is so important to the quality of wine
    • We talk about Inman's delicious Pinot Noir, rosé, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, and sparkling and how Kathleen taught herself to make these exceptional wines. 
    • We discuss what it really means to be a non-interventionist winemaker
    • We end with a discussion regarding Kathleen's great advocacy for women in wine. 

 Kathleen makes outstanding wine, check it out at!


And thank you to our sponsor this week!  

The Great Courses Plus -- who makes you smarter and more well rounded! With thousands of outstanding video lectures that you can watch or listen to any time and anywhere, The Great Courses Plus is an easy way to stimulate your brain and make you smarter! For a free trial, go to 



Mar 24, 2018
Ep 224: Ana Keller of Keller Estate in the brand new Petaluma Gap AVA of Sonoma, CA

Continuing the Women in Wine series for Women's History Month 2018, I speak with Ana Keller of Keller Estate. She helped establish the Petaluma Gap American Viticultural Area (AVA), which is Sonoma's newest cool climate appellation making excellent Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Syrah. Ana is one of the only women of Mexican heritage running a wine estate, and she is simply amazing.

Here are some of the notes from our conversation: 

  • We talk about how her family got into wine.
  • We discuss Ana's educational background -- she attended the University of Mexico and obtained a biopharmaceutical chemistry degree and then to King’s College in London for a Masters in Pharma Development.
  • We talk about how Ana got into wine as a consumer and how her dad roped her into the business as Estate Director.
  • Ana shares her feelings about mentors in the wine industry and what it was like to be a young woman in wine in the 1990s. 
  • We dig into the Petaluma Gap AVA -- what makes it different, how the appellation was conceived of, and why the wines are so very different from the rest of Sonoma.
  • Finally, we wrap up with a conversation about the current state of women in the wine industry and the role of amazing men in forwarding the careers of women in it. 


 Please support our (delicious) sponsor, HelloFresh:

A meal kit delivery service that shops, plans and delivers your favorite step-by-step recipes and pre-measured ingredients so you can just cook, eat and enjoy! Delivered right to your door, with a variety of chef-curated recipes that change weekly, this is a new way to eat and cook! We love it! 

For $30 off your first week of HelloFresh, visit and enter WINE30. You won't regret it! 


Mar 17, 2018
Ep 223: North Canterbury, New Zealand's Hidden Gem with Simone Madden-Grey

Fresh off an amazing trip to the North Canterbury region, just north of Christchurch on the South Island of her homeland, New Zealand, Simone Madden-Grey let's us in on a little known region that we all need to try (and visit): North Canterbury.

Here are some quick notes from the show:

  • The Alps are to the west, the Pacific Ocean to the east.
  • Cool, dry climate with high sunshine and a long growing season means pure, flavorful wines -- especially aromatic whites like Riesling, Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer since the climate is similar to Alsace. Pinot Noir is also stunning from here
  • 3% of NZ production
  • Wines are grown on the valley floor and vineyards (top ones) are being planted on the hillsides and foothills
  • The stunning subregions of Waipara and Waitaki Valleys are the hot spots for quality wine in the region.
    • Waipara Valley is 40 minutes north of Christchurch
    • About 30 wineries in the valley
  • We discuss the beautiful produce of the ares and how the food and wine are so fully integrated into the culture here, as it is no where else
  • For a list of all the wineries, with links go here: Wineries and Vineyards of North Canterbury and Waipara
  • And the list of wines Simone mentions --

Bell Hill Vineyard –

Bellbird Spring –

Black Estate –

Greystone Wines –

Pegasus Bay –

Pyramid Valley –

Tongue in Groove –


As a wrap up for Women's History Month, we talk about our experiences as women in wine. 

Thanks to Simone and to our sponsor this week:

The Great Courses Plus -- who makes you smarter and more well rounded! With thousands of outstanding video lectures that you can watch or listen to any time and anywhere, The Great Courses Plus is an easy way to stimulate your brain and make you smarter! For a free trial, go to

Mar 10, 2018
Ep 222: Meeker Wine of Sonoma, CA with Lucas Meeker, the Next Gen of CA Wine

This week, Lucas Meeker of Meeker Wine -- a Millennial winemaker who has taken the helm of winemaking and operations at this Sonoma favorite. In his philosophical, intellectual way, Lucas recounts stories of the winery's early days and then discusses everything from additives in wine, to how wine is like vocal range. 

Lucas graduated magna cum laude from Colgate University with High Honors in English in 2007, but he returned home to the family winery with plans to eventually head to graduate school. But once he started doing marketing, label design, and cellar rat work, he caught the wine "bug."  He made wines under his own label, Lucas J. Cellars, for four vintages (2007-2010) and honed the craft of winemaking through hands on experience and a passion for reading and learning from his Dad, other winemakers, books, UC Davis, the internet, and his own mistakes. Eventually, he abandoned his plans for graduate school and further dedicated himself to the craft of winemaking. Lucas took over daily operation of the winery in 2010, and after four years as Co-Winemaker with Charlie, officially became Head Winemaker in 2014.

Here are the show notes:

  • We chat about the storied history of Meeker, including Charlie's stories from MGM, how he bought the vineyard and how he uprooted Lucas from his Hollywood life to Sonoma
  • We discuss various aspects of the wine industry -- what Custom Crush is and why it's important to wineries like Meeker, the importance of label reading and why some wineries are a sham
  • We wax poetic on the virtue of Merlot and Lucas gives thoughts on wine traditions and their importance
  • Lucas talks about the "magnitude" of wine  and how he parses wine descriptions
  • We talk about Zinfandel and changes in the wine industry in the last 10 years -- including how wine can be altered or honest
  • We have a great conversation about the Meeker philosophy and Lucas's "end zone"
  • We end on a positive note: Lucas's optimism for the next gen of winemakers



Please support this week's sponsor, RXBAR by ordering their tasty products and receiving 25% off! Go to and enter the promo code WINE at checkout to get a quarter off your order! 

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Give them a try!!! 


Mar 04, 2018
Ep 221: Campana Ranch Winery -- An Historical Legacy of Napa, An Entrepreneur's Story in Sonoma

Steve and Sher Bell of Campana Ranch discuss Steve's storied past, which included working for the Mondavis during their family split, early days in Napa, and what brought him and Sher to craft the beautiful wines they make in the Russian River Valley of Sonoma today.


Here are some more detailed notes:

  • First we talk about Steve's Story -- which includes the evolution and questions about “Big Wine." We talk about Steve's getting caught in the crosshairs of a Mondavi feud, his time at Freemark Abbey, and the a long career at Beringer
  • We hit on the business side of big wine and how it was challenging for Steve.
  • Sher tells us about her perspective on Steve's career, and how her pursuing her passion helped Steve pursue his with wine. 
  • We discuss how Steve and Sher began the winery -- we talk about the best and hardest parts of having their own things
  • They make a lot of different types of wine -- we discuss the rationale behind it

A fantastic show. I hope you find it as fascinating as I did!!!



Thanks to this week's sponsor who makes the podcast possible!


The Great Courses Plus -- who makes you smarter and more well rounded! With thousands of outstanding video lectures that you can watch or listen to any time and anywhere, The Great Courses Plus is an easy way to stimulate your brain and make you smarter! For a free trial, go to


A must listen to anyone interested in learning about California wine history and a great story that moves from corporate to entrepreneurship and always involves a commitment to the vineyard, to doing things ethically, and to making great wine! 




Feb 24, 2018
Ep 220: Crux Winery -- Putting the Rhone into Russian River Valley of Sonoma, CA

Crux Winery owners Brian Callahan and Steven Gower (some of the nicest dudes you ever want to meet) craft small lots of Rhône varietals–Grenache, Petite Sirah, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Grenache Blanc and Viognier–with some Zinfandel and Sauvignon Blanc. Their wines capture the unique characteristics of Sonoma County’s Russian River Valley and are rich, complex and balanced, without excessive alcohol levels or overripe fruit flavors.


One amazing thing about these guys (there are a few): This is their other job. They each hold down big corporate jobs in the health sector and have given up all spare time to dedicate their lives to making insanely good wine farmed in a sustainable and earth-friendly manner. Their grapes are sourced from their own vineyards and other select vineyard sites owned by growers with a similar philosophy who have also embraced environmental practices in vineyard management.


Some topics we cover:

  • How they wound up finding each other and getting into winemaking
  • How they decided to take the business to the next level
  • The balancing act of holding down corporate jobs and running a winery -- holding down 2 full time jobs! 
  • The business of wine versus their corporate jobs
  • Terroir, native yeast, and doing Rhône in Russian River Valley
  • The grapes and the wine -- how they grow or source the fruit, how they make wine, and why the stuff is so outstanding! 


A fantastic look at these guys are hustling, making fantastic wine, and keeping their dream alive to eventually give up their day jobs and be winemakers and winegrowers full time.  

They, of course, will be at Sonoma Underground on February 24, 2018 at Longboard Vineyards in Sonoma


Thanks to our (delicious) sponsor, HelloFresh:

A meal kit delivery service that shops, plans and delivers your favorite step-by-step recipes and pre-measured ingredients so you can just cook, eat and enjoy! Delivered right to your door, with a variety of chef-curated recipes that change weekly, this is a new way to eat and cook! We love it! 

For $30 off your first week of HelloFresh, visit and enter WINE30. You won't regret it! 





Feb 18, 2018
Ep 219: Winery-preneurs The Larsen Projekt and CamLow Cellars of Sonoma, CA

Two pretty new, exciting wineries join me to talk about their wines, experiences in starting up new wine empires, and the past, present, and future of the small guy in Sonoma:

Robert Larsen runs The Larsen Projekt, which specializes in three main things --  public relations, marketing and branding, and making wine. We talk to him about his long career in wine and what spurred him to  leap from marketing and talking about it only, to actually making it. Robert makes stunning Grenache and Grenache Rosé.

Alan Campbell and Craig Strehlow are the founders of CamLow Cellars. Craig is the former winegrower/winemaker with Keefer Ranch and Keefer Ranch wines where, for 13 years, he managed the vineyard and created a single vineyard Pinot Noir that was well known and well loved. Alan is a Sonoma County native and local photographer who captures the beauty of wine country and also takes on farming, winemaking, and wine growing -- just for fun.

CamLow makes two Pinot Noirs: one called Magna Porcum (we will discuss his obsession with pig) from the Green Valley of Russian River Valley and another Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, as well as a Rosé of Pinot Noir.


Some of the points we cover in the podcast... 

  1. Why the guys decided to put themselves "out there" and start new wineries, which is really difficult to do.
  2. We talk with Alan, Craig, and Robert about their history of home winemaking and how it turned into these two cool projects (or Projekt, in Robert's case).
  3. Alan and Craig talk about their love of pig, food, and the nuance of making and growing Pinot in the Russian River Valley of Sonoma, California.
  4. We reveal Robert's big secret: He is kind of a Public Relations force in Sonoma who has been in the biz a long time. Then we ask him the big question: why make wine now? Why get out of big wine and make a go of a wine project?

In the latter half of the podcast, we get into a big discussion about the business of being a small wineries -- the fun, the craftsmanship of being a small winery, the hardship of doing everything yourself when you start up, and how the federal government makes it so hard for the small guy to succeed in wine. 

This is a lively, quick conversation -- I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!


Thanks to this week's sponsor who makes the podcast possible!

The Great Courses Plus -- who makes you smarter and more well rounded! With thousands of outstanding video lectures that you can watch or listen to any time and anywhere, The Great Courses Plus is an easy way to stimulate your brain and make you smarter! For a free trial, go to


Feb 10, 2018
Ep 218: Zinmaster Nalle Winery of Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma, CA

In this episode, I talk to the Zinmasters of the Dry Creek Valley, Andrew & April Nalle. Nalle has been making Zinfandel in a milder style than most other wineries -- with balance, acidity, & finesse for nearly 40 years. Andrew recently took over the winery from his dad, Zin legend Doug Nalle. The Nalle story -- it's past and future -- is a family story and one that represents the small producers of Sonoma well. 

A few things we discuss...

  • Nalle's 100+ year family history in Dry Creek Valley and its history with making wine.
  • The power of Zinfandel and how it doesn't have to be what you traditionally think of when you think of the grape.
  • April Nalle's fascinating background in grower relations, and how she made it as one of the only women in a male dominated field
  • Andrew's winemaking philosophy, what he's learned from his dad and how he will carry forward the Nalle Zin tradition
  • We nerd out about Zin, about the land, and about the mother of the Zin vine, Crjlenak Kastelanski, which Andrew has tried!
  • Finally we wrap by talking about Andrew and April's thoughts for the future, as they take over from Andrew's folks. 


Truly normal people, who make great wine!



Feb 05, 2018
Ep 217: Peterson Winery of Dry Creek Valley of Sonoma, CA

I recorded this podcast at the Peterson Winery tasting room while I was visiting Sonoma in support of the Sonoma Underground event I co-founded ( 

This is a fascinating conversation with the force and Dry Creek Valley icon that is Fred Peterson, his son and Peterson's winemaker Jamie, and his daughter and head of sales and marketing, Emily.

As Fred discusses, following time in the military, he studied viticulture and winemaking and graduated with honors from UC Davis. After working in and around Santa Cruz for prestigious wineries as a vineyard manager, Fred came to Dry Creek Valley in 1983 to find and develop world-class vineyard properties.

Fred developed vineyards all over the Dry Creek Valley of Sonoma County, including on Bradford Mountain, where most of the fruit for Peterson's top wine hails. In 1987, Fred, launched Peterson Winery.   

Peterson Winery now makes an average of 8000 cases annually, all in many small lots from estate vineyards and from like-minded growers and friends.  

Peterson produces many wines...  
- 3V White Blend- Vermentino, Verdelho, Vernaccia
- Agraria — a proprietary Bordeaux/Cabernet Franc varietal blend  
- Barbera  
- Cabernet Sauvignon  
- Cabernet Sauvignon Port- dessert wine
- Carignane  
- Grenache  
- Merlot
- Mendo Blendo – Petite Sirah based blend  
- Muscat Blanc — Dessert Wine  
- Petite Sirah  
- Petit Verdot  
- Rosé  
- Sauvignon Blanc  
- Sangiovese — Dry Creek Valley and Il Granaio  
- Syrah  
- Vignobles- Red Rhone Style Blend  
- Zinfandels — Dry Creek Valley, Tradizionale, Bradford Mountain, Bernier Zinyard, Warren Ranch, & Old School  
- Zero Manipulation — an old-fashioned red blend  


Please support our sponsor this week, who helps make the podcast possible: 


Thanks to this week's sponsor who makes the podcast possible!

The Great Courses Plus -- who makes you smarter and more well rounded! With thousands of outstanding video lectures that you can watch or listen to any time and anywhere, The Great Courses Plus is an easy way to stimulate your brain and make you smarter! For a free month trial, go to

Jan 27, 2018
Ep 216: Jake Bilbro of Limerick Lane in Sonoma, CA

This week I talk to Jake Bilbro, award-winning winemaker and winegrower of Limerick Lane Cellars in the Russian River of Sonoma. We discuss his family's history in Sonoma, how he came to own Limerick Lane, and his winemaking philosophies. A fascinating look at a young, famed small producer who represents the heart and soul of Sonoma. 

Some show notes:

  • Limerick Lane is a 30-acre estate in the northeast part of the Russian River valley in Sonoma County, California
  • The vineyards were originally planted in 1910. Much of it is old vine Zinfandel and field blends of varietals interspersed with Zin, Syrah, Grenache and other grapes. 
  • Jake is a 4th generation winemaker and winegrower -- his passion and positivity is contagious! 
  • He makes outstanding rosé, Zinfandel, Syrah, and Rhône blends. 

He's also participating in the Sonoma Underground event of small producers that I've co-founded! 


 *Note -- the podcast was recorded in the tasting room of Limerick Lane, so there is ambient noise. I apologize for imperfect sound.


Thanks to our (delicious) sponsor, HelloFresh:

A meal kit delivery service that shops, plans and delivers your favorite step-by-step recipes and pre-measured ingredients so you can just cook, eat and enjoy! Delivered right to your door, with a variety of chef-curated recipes that change weekly, this is a new way to eat and cook! We love it! 

For $30 off your first week of HelloFresh, visit and enter WINE30. You won't regret it! 

Jan 20, 2018
Ep 215: The Grape Miniseries - Syrah

First off, we discuss Sonoma Underground, the event I'm co-producing on 24 February 2018 to showcase 15 amazing, "underground" producers in Sonoma that are hard to find, don't get the press they deserve, and make outstanding wines. Limited tickets available to you! Get yours:

Then we talk Syrah!

Syrah is one of tastiest grapes in the world but because it changes based on where it's grown, it can be a bit of a risk to buy. In this episode, we cover the fundamentals of Syrah, why it ranges in flavor and what to expect from the regions that make it.

Here are the show notes:

About the grape:

  • Many different styles, many different faces
  • Dark skinned, vigorous so have to tame it to get flavor
  • Same as Shiraz NOT the same as Petit Sirah (cross of Syrah with Peloursin)
  • Flavor depends on climate – you can’t generalize 
  • Lots of theories about its origins - but the wine is from the Rhône. It's a cross of Dureza in Ardeche and Mondeuse Blanche from Savoie 
  • Old World – plants based on total site (terroir, esp soil),
    New World = climate, soil less important


Top Places that grow Syrah:

  1. France
  2. Australia
  3. Languedoc
  4. Spain
  5. Italy
  6. Argentina
  7. South Africa
  8. CA
  9. Chile



  • Low tolerance for too much heat and too little heat
  • Buds late, ripens early – short growing season


  • Co-fermentation – esp with Viognier (Côte Rôtie and Australia) – no more than 5%, with Marsanne and Roussanne in Hermitage (up to 15%)
  • Stems and oak play a role



  • Northern Rhône: 
    • General flavors – peppery when less ripe, fruity and perfumed when more ripe
    • Côte Rôtie:  floral, roasted, bacon, lavender notes
    • Hermitage: minerally, tannic, bacon, herbs
    • Cornas – fruity, heavier, less nuanced
    • Crozes –Hermitage and St-Joseph: flatter areas -- lighter, more peppery, floral, earthy, great values
  • Southern Rhône
    • Hot and dry, Syrah gets overripe – need cooler, north-facing sites to slow ripening, Grenache gets best sites, Syrah is part of the blend
  • Known as an improver variety in Languedoc and Provence with Grenache and Mourvèdre


  • Much hotter than Rhône – heavier styles
  • Barossa: Benchmark Shiraz– chocolaty, dark fruit
    • Best versions are dry-farmed
  • Victoria, Canberra, Western Australia - More Rhône-like versions 
  • McLaren Vale: Different styles often like milk chocolate
  • Clare Valley: dark cherry
  • Sometimes blended with Cabernet Sauvignon 
  • Penfolds Grange is the most famed version 
  • Check out the podcasts with Simone Madden-Gray for more info!

 United States:

  • California: Dry Creek Valley, Paso, Central Coast areas, some Napa as GSMs or alone.  
  • Washington State: Some are big and full of plum, cooler sites in Yakima very nice with bacon. Outstanding in Walla Walla



  • Colchagua – warm, fruity
  • San Antonio Valley – Limari and Elqui – lean with some fruit but not over the top 

South Africa

  • Swartland is the best – fruity, spicy, but restrained


New Zealand

  • Needs hotter sites: Gimlet Gravels in Hawkes Bay, some in Marlborough



  • Sicily, versions from Planeta, Used in Super Tuscans




Thanks to this week's sponsor who makes the podcast possible!

The Great Courses Plus -- who makes you smarter and more well rounded! With thousands of outstanding video lectures that you can watch or listen to any time and anywhere, The Great Courses Plus is an easy way to stimulate your brain and make you smarter! For a free  trial, go to


Jan 13, 2018
Ep 214: Grower Champagne with Grower-Producer Gaylord Legras

Of the 20,000 growers in Champagne, only a few make their own wine. In this podcast, fifth generation grower-producer Gaylord Legras of Champagne Legras-Frapart et Fils gives us the lowdown on how the vineyards operate, what's unique about grower Champagne, and how the business of Champagne really works.


Here are the show notes. We discuss:

  • Gaylord's family history in Champagne and how they got into the growing business.
  • Climate, terrain, soils, and unique advantages that the region has in growing grapes for sparkling wine.
  • The different sub regions-- Montagne de Reims, Côtes des Blancs, Valle de la Marne, Aube.
  • The importance of vintage Champagne and whether these more expensive bottles are worth the money.
  • How grower wines differ from those of large houses (like Moët Chandon, which controls the 5 major wine brands in the area and more than 50% of wine made).
  • The business structure of Champagne and its challenges and opportunities -- contracts with the big houses and how they are structured, the difference between the Houses and cooperatives, and more of the business challenges of growers in the region.
  • Finally, we talk about how to find grower Champagnes by looking for RM (Recoltant Manipulant) on the bottle.


Champagne Legras-Frapart et Fils isn't available outside of France (unless you want to import it!) but you can see Gaylord and others if you head to Oiry, where his vineyards are located!


Please support our sponsor, who make the podcast possible:

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Other Champagne podcasts I mentioned...

Ep 167: Champagne -- The Region


Ep 148: Conversation with Champagne Laurent-Perrier President Michelle DeFeo 


Ep 066: Sparkling Wine Options 


Ep 026 Sparkling Wine - More Than Just Champagne 


Dec 30, 2017
Ep 213: Easy, Inexpensive Wine Gifts

In this solo podcast, I give you a bunch of ideas to make gift giving and holiday pairing easy!

Here are the show notes:

1. First I talk about potential all-purpose wines that will work for a lot of different holiday foods:

The reds:

  • Sonoma, California Syrah or Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Chilean Syrah
  • Côtes-du-Rhône (or Gigondas, Châteauneuf-du-Pape)
  • Bordeaux -- specifically Merlot-based, and look for the Cru Bourgeois label

The whites:

  • Santa Barbara, California Chardonnay
  • South African or New Zealand Chardonnay
  • Chenin Blanc from South Africa or Loire
  • White Rhône blends from California or Rhône

Rhône producers I mentioned: E. Guigal, Chapoutier


2. Then I gift some questions to ask before buying wine as a gift for someone:

  • What do they usually drink?
  • What do they eat?
  • What kind of person are they -- adventuresome or less so?

3. Finally I hit on gift ideas:


Thank you to our sponsor:

The Great Courses Plus -- who makes you smarter and more well rounded! With thousands of outstanding video lectures that you can watch or listen to any time and anywhere, The Great Courses Plus is an easy way to stimulate your brain and make you smarter! For a free month trial, go to


Happy Holidays! Thank you for listening and for you being such an awesome audience! 


Dec 23, 2017
Ep 212: Central Otago, NZ with Simone Madden-Grey

Central Otago is known among wine dorks as a Pinot Noir mecca. We're lucky that regular podcast guest host Simone Madden-Grey is from this region! In this episode, she gives us the skinny on climate, soil, top wines, travel tips, and what's next for the wines of the region.


Here are the show notes: 

  • Simone gives us a bit of background on the region and talks about its origins in 1975 – 1980 when pioneersRipon, Chard Farm, Gibbston Valley Wines started


  • We get into detail on geography:
    • Southernmost growing region in the world with Patagonia – at 45˚ south latitude
    • Climate: Alpine climate, with short and hot summers and really cold winters, great day to night temperature swings
    • Southern Alps: Run down middle of South Island. Rain shadow from the wet weather from West.
    • Gorges, lakes, rivers mean abundant water for viticulture
    • Soils: ancient glaciers, quartz and silica in the soils but when the gold rush happened, the soil was stripped and now producers are trying to restore it


  • We discuss New Zealand's dedication to its Sustainable Winegrowing Program, biodynamics, and organics and the "Clean and Green" mentality of New Zealand


  • We talk about the main grapes and wine profiles of Central Otago – Pinot noir, Chardonnay, Pinot blanc, Tempranillo (Brennan Wines is mentioned)
  • We discuss aromatic whites and their potential in the region: Gewürztraminer, Riesling, Pinot Gris, white field blends


  • We discuss the subregions and how they are new and just starting to define themselves
    • Wanaka – arrived, Ripon
    • Gibbston, Bannockburn – up and coming
    • Bendigo – Prophet’s Rock, Quartz Reef (vineyards)





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Dec 17, 2017
Ep 211: The Grape Miniseries -- Sangiovese

This week, we revive the Grape Miniseries from podcasts of old to bring you: Sangiovese! The star of Central Italy that does amazing things when taken care of. 

Here are the notes:

History of Sangiovese

  • Spotty history -- probably has existed a long time but wasn't mentioned until the 1500s.
  • The name likely comes from the monks in Santarcangelo di Romagna at foot of Monte Giove, who chose the name of sanguis Jovis when forced to call wine by name other than vino. It could have also come from the ancient language of Etruscans, who used similar to words for an offer to the gods


Grape origins

  • Probably from Sicily and Calabria – in 16th century there were grape exchanges between northern and southern Italian regions
  • A cross of two reds: Ciliegiolo and Calabrese di Montenuovo


Climate, land, soil

  • Needs warmth to ripen, but not too much
  • Ripens better in Montalcino than Chianti – nights are warmer, less rainfall in Montalcino
  • Chianti –  only 10% of the land good for cineyards
  • Maremma – rich, broad, hot with short growing season. High alcohol, low aroma
  • Autralia – Canberra in NSW, other warm areas show promise
  • California – more intense sunlight, different character
  • Soils –Tuscan soil is varied. The best for Sangiovese is galestro and albarese
    • Soils are a challenge for New World Sangiovese winemakers


  • Important to get ripeness in the vineyard
  • Traditional aging in large casks of Slavonian oak or Chestnut
  • Modern styles use small French oak barriques
  • Sangiovese is often blended – Canaille Nero, Coloring, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah are popular partners
    • Sangio needs extra color, richness – low in acylated anthocyanins means light color

Sangiovese Flavors

  • Light juicy wine or huge complex ones or harsh
  • Traditional wines: cherries, violets, tomatoe, herbs, tea-like notes, high acid, high tannin, not fruity
  • International wines: vanilla, spice, oak, dark fruit, higher alcohol


Return of the Clones: 

  • Clones – color, flavor, concentration of fruity, 102 clones of Sangiovese
  • 1988 – Chianti Classico Conzorzio with Universities of Pisa and Florence– launched Chianti Classsico 2000 project to improved quality

Found in:

  • Italy: Tuscany, Emilia-Romagna, Lazio, Marche, Puglia, Sicily, Umbria
  • US: Napa, Sonoma, Santa Barbara. Washington State, New Mexico
  • Other North America: Mexico, Ontario, BC
  • Australia – growing
  • Other New World: NZ, South Africa, Chile, Argentina, Brazil etc


The difference in Tuscan wines using Sangiovese:

  • Maremma: dark black fruit, herbal
  • Chianti Classico – cooler – sour cherry, red berry, violet, tea leaf
  • Brunello di Montalcino – 100% Sangiovese, different depending on where it's grown in the appellation
  • Vino Nobile di Montepulciano –  earthy, rich, lovely
  • Emilia-Romagna – dark, dense, richer than Tuscan versions
  • Marche – Rosso Piceno, Rosso Conero – usually blended with Montepulciano – can be gloppy
  • Umbria -- fuller, denser than Tuscan versions


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Dec 09, 2017
Ep 210: The Biz of Wine v Weed with George Christie

Some in the U.S. wine industry say cannabis legalization will create a war between wine& weed for limited resources & consumer interest. But George Christie, from the Wine Industry Network (the leading business resource for the wine industry), thinks collaboration could lead to great things for both parties. After you hear his ideas, you may just agree.


Here are the show notes:

1. We discuss how George acquired expertise on this topic, through a hugely successful "Wine and Weed Symposium" ( that brought wine producers and cannabis professionals together in a room in the North Coast of California.   


2. We talk about the wine press and its portrayal of "Cannabis Cannibalization" -- meaning the weed industry is taking essential resources from the wine industry like water, land, and especially labor. We parse what's true and what's not. 

3. We talk about the overlap between the wine and weed industries -- the differences, and why wine and weed are being linked rather than beer and weed or cigarettes and weed. We cover:

  • The money involved in both industries
  • Distribution challenges
  • Lobbying 
  • Track and trace issues/govt' control
  • Evolution of the industry -- big v small guys

4. We'll hypothesize about some things for the future:

  • Potential for import/export and how that will evolve
  • The fact that weed has a much more flexible growing season(s) and can be grown indoors (we can cover the indoor v outdoor quality issue/terroir), making it far more profitable and flexible, and harder to regulate!


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Dec 02, 2017
Ep 209: Ian Renwick with the Real Effects of Brexit on UK Wine

This week, regular guest host and UK wine shop owner of Jaded Palates, Ian Renwick, helps us sort out what Brexit is and why it is so important to the wine trade. 

Part politics and history lesson, this episode aims to give you context about the EU, it's historical significance with the UK and why Brexit is such a big deal for the wine trade in the UK, Europe, and countries like Australia, the US and Chile too.

Show notes:

1. We give historical background on the political and economic union of 28 member states in Europe that covers 510 MM people and accounts for 22% of global GDP and 7.3% of world’s population

2. We address the question: What is Brexit? More than just the merging of the words "Britain" and "exit" following the vote to leave the EU.

3. We discuss the economic ramifications of the UK leaving the EU and what that will mean for wine -- especially vis a vis currency fluctuation and tariffs.

4. We provide context on why the UK is so important -- including the fact that 71% of UK’s adult population drink wine!

5. We discuss the often cited scenarios for the wine industry in the UK and it's ripple effect on the global market as put forth by Kym Anderson of the University of Adelaide and Glyn Wittwer of Victoria University in their model of global wine markets (…

6. We both offer our thoughts on what Brexit will probably do to the global wine market (not as bad as you think!). 


Thanks to this week's sponsors who make the podcast possible!

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Nov 25, 2017
Ep 208: Thanksgiving Wine Ideas 2017 (from our FB Live)

Our 2017 version of the U.S Thanksgiving podcast was actually done via Facebook live, but we recorded it & edited it down for replay. We tried to limit the options to give you a few wine options, rather than a million! Enjoy! We are thankful for you!


Some of the wines we recommend: 

Whites: Off-dry Riesling, off-dry Vouvray/Chenin Blanc, Alsace Riesling, Viognier, Rhône, Torrontés

Reds: Cru Beaujolais, Beaujolais-Villages, fruity Zinfandel, Merlot, Right Bank (Merlot-based) Bordeaux, New Zealand Pinot Noir


Also mentioned: Online Wine Classes with Elizabeth are at live at

We are so grateful for you! Have a happy, safe Thanksgiving!

Nov 23, 2017
Ep 207: Umbria, Italy with Jacopo Cossater, Italian Wine Writer

This week we are honored to have as our guest Jacopo Cossater, wine writer for the biggest wine blog in Italy, Intravino, on the show to discuss the Italian wine region he calls home: Umbria. 

Umbria is the 4th smallest wine producing region of Italy, but its wines are exquisite and unlike anything else you'll ever have.

Here are the show notes:

1. First we discuss where Umbria is and what it is:

  • Only Italian region without coastline nor international border – 
  • Lush, rolling hills, hilltop villages
  • Between Tuscany, Marche, and Lazio
  • Whites and reds are important here and quality on the rise

 2. We talk about the wines: 



  • In southern Umbria, 80 miles north of Rome
  • Volcanic and tufa soils
  • Common Grapes:
    • Trebbiano Tocscano (Ugni Blanc)
    • Grechetto: Finer wine, good for structure
    • Malvasia: Floral, effusive aromatics
  • Orvieto DOC: Can be lesser quality, better to seek out Orvieto Classico DOC
  • Lago di Corbara DOC



  • Located south of Perugia
  • Common Grapes: Sangiovese, Canaiolo, Ciliegiolo (sometimes bottled as a varietal here)
  • Rosso di Torgiano DOC: Sangiovese, Canaiolo
  • Torgiano Rosso Riserva DOCG: The first wine to gain DOC (and later DOCG) status in Umbria: 50–70% Sangiovese, 15–30% Canaiolo, up to 15% other grapes like Ciliegiolo or Montepulciano.
  • Recommended Producers: Cantine Lungarotti. 
  • Torgiano is home to Italy’s most important wine museum, Museo del Vino


Montefalco (Sagrantino and Rosso di Montefalco)

  1. 30 miles southeast of Perugia.
  2. Set up well for tourism and visiting


  • Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG:  ageworthy red wines
    • Required to be at least 95% Sagrantino, the wines must be aged for 30 months; at least 12 of those months in oak barrels
    • Tannic, big wine. Used to be used for sacramental purposes
    • Responsible for the revolution in Umbrian reds
    • Pricey, but one worth holding
  • Rosso di Montefalco: Sangiovese based red with a touch of Sagrantino
    • 60–70% Sangiovese, 10–15% Sagrantino and 15–30% other grapes, often Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon.
    • Structure, fullness in wine, with lots of flavor

Jacopo's Producer Hit List:

Montefalco Sagrantino (wine): Adanti, Arnaldo Caprai, Antonelli, Paolo Bea, Tabarrini, Fattoria Colleallodole, Scacciadiavoli, Di Filippo, Fratelli Pardi, Romanelli, Tenuta Bellafonte, Raína
Orvieto Classico (wine): Palazzone, Barberani, Decugnano dei Barbi, Castello di Corbara
Orvieto (area): Castello della Sala (Antinori), Falesco
Torgiano Rosso Riserva (wine): Lungarotti, Terre Margaritelli
Perugia (area): Conestabile della Staffa, Marco Merli, La Spina, Cantina Margò, Castello Monte Vibiano Vecchio, Cantina Cenci
Ciliegiolo di Narni (wine): Leonardo Bussoletti
Trebbiano Spoletino (wine): Collecapretta
Grechetto di Todi (wine): Peppucci, Roccafiore
Terni (area): La Palazzola


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Nov 18, 2017
Ep 206: Tom Wark on the Messy Politics of US Wine Shipping

Tom Wark, executive director of the National Association of Wine Retailers (, wine PR guru, and author of Fermentation Wine Blog  gives a fascinating look at the history of US wine law, current inane laws (unconstitutional) on interstate wine shipping, and the ripple effects for wine producers, importers, and drinkers.

*Note: This issue is not a democrat v republican issue, so if you fear this will be a partisan conversation, both sides are restricting consumer rights and there is no discussion of party politics in the show. 

Even if you are not an American listener, the history and politics of the world's biggest market (by volume) and the restrictive environment in which wine is sold will shock and amaze you. 

Here are some of the issues we tackle in the conversation:

1.The issues with retailers shipping between states and why consumers and retailers and hamstrung by regulation
2. The historical background -- from the 1700s to today on how the US became so protectionist about alcohol. Nerdy details include..
  • Why the current laws violate the spirit of the Articles of Confederation and then the Constitution of the United States
  • The Pre- and Post- Prohibition eras, Constitutional Amendments and a violation of the Commerce Clause of the US Constitution
  • Granholm v. Heald, a 2005 case that should have resolved this and why it didn't  
  • Implications for consumers, retailers, small producers, and importers, and why we need to use our voices to stop the politics
3. A discussion of "the money" and why the Wholesalers rule our choice in every state.
4. The New York Times article by Eric Asimov and why New York and New Jersey retailers may soon be suffering. 
5. What's next? What can we do to promote free trade and help the mission here? The essential mission American consumers have and the importance of signing up for and getting our voices heard!
And finally, an invitation from Tom  -- if you know any state legislators in the US, contact him
Nov 10, 2017
Ep 205: 7 Cool Halloween Traditions Around the World

Halloween is, by far, our favorite holiday so this year we're reviewing fun traditions from around the world and matching wines with them. From the blood of Jupiter to drinking wine from a skull, we've got a spooktacular tradition for you to adopt!


Here are the 7 traditions we cover and the wines to match:

  • Ireland is the birthplace of modern Halloween. 
  • Origins were in Celtic and Pagan rituals and a festival called Samhain or Samhuinn (end of the light half of the year)
  • DRINKS: Scotch, Irish whiskey, Chilean wine – the most popular wine type in Ireland


  • From November 1 to November 2, Mexico and parts of Latin America celebrate Día de los Muertos, which combines Aztec rituals with Catholic ones.
  • Offerings are left for weary ghosts. For the souls of children, families leave out toys and candy, adults get shots of mezcal and cigarettes!
  • DRINKS: Mezcal or Mexican wine from Valle de Guadalupe or Spanish wine to honor the roots of Mexico drunk out of a skull, the symbol of Dia de los Muertos


  • At the end of every October for the past 21 years, there is the Kawasaki Halloween Parade. It's huge and elaborate: In 2016 more than 130,000 people attended.
  • DRINKS: SAKE, Champagne/Cremant


  • On night of All Saints’ Day – November 1st -- children go door to door, often in costumes, to ask for prayers for those in purgatory.  
  • DRINKS: Tropical fruit, rice, sugar cane and coffee make "wine" in the Philippines, so so something with big American oak that has coconut flavors– Rioja or Zin in American oak will do!


  • The hungry ghost festival is a month or two earlier than Halloween but has similar traditions! Chinese people make efforts to appease restless ghosts, and feed their own ancestors. Food and drink are left out to sate the appetite of the hungry ghosts. 
  • DRINKS: French wine, since it’s the most popular wine type imported into China. Either Bordeaux or Burgundy, especially the 2015s which have been exceptional!


  1. OGNISSANTI: Italy (called I Santi on 11/1 and I Morti on 11/2) 
  • Halloween is becoming more popular in Italy but many still celebrate All Saint’s Day. Italians visit the graves of loved ones who have passed, place a red candle in the window at sunset, and set a place at the table for those spirits they hope will visit.
  • Every year the Catholic Church reminds people that Halloween is a “heathen tradition” but it's still becoming more mainstream!
  • Halloween-y wines: Aglianico del Vulture, anything from Sangiovese (blood of Jupiter),


  • Similar to all Christians, on this day Germans honor the lives of the saints who died for their Catholic beliefs, as well as the souls of dead family members.
  • But they have an added tradition: hiding their kitchen knives so that returning spirits won't be accidentally harmed (or use the  knives to harm the living)...Hear M.C. Ice's theory on this one in the 'cast! 
  • Halloween-y wines: Walk a knife’s edge with high acid Rheingau Riesling or emulate blood with Apätburgunder from Rheinhessen


Happy Halloween!

Oct 30, 2017
Ep 204: The Intriguing Wines of Southwest France

A stone's throw from Bordeaux are wine regions that have been around longer & make extraordinary wines that taste like nothing else. The whites & reds of SW France will thrill you! Although under the radar,they aren't that obscure & are worth knowing about.

Here are the show notes: 

Region Overview:

  1. Inland and south of Bordeaux
  2. Goes from Aquitaine (Bordeaux and outskirts) to Midi-Pyrenees
  3. Regions closer to the Atlantic – on the other side is the Languedoc

    • Those that are close to and similar to Bordeaux
    • closer to the Pyrenees, which use mainly native grapes to create different and sometimes outstanding wines.
  5. We discuss the relationship between Bordeaux and Southwest France from an historical perspective and then dive into the regions.
  6. In the Dordogne/Bergerac, subregion we hit on:
    • Bergerac: red, dry white, and sweet white wines. Reds are Cabernet Sauvignon blended with Merlot. Whites are Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc.
    • Pécharmant: less character and balance than Bordeaux Superieur AOP for the same price
    • Monbazillac: sweet botrytized whites of Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc, and Muscadelle
  7. In the Garonne subregion:
    • Buzet: Reds of Merlot, with Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon.
    • Cahors: Malbec: the most well-known region in Southwest France
    • Fronton: Red wine appellation uses the Négrette grape: like blackcurrant, blackberry, raspberry, pepper, violets, licorice, and can be rustic or even kind of steak-like in flavor but can also be fruity and light depending on the terroir and the blend. Also uses Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and the spicy, peppery Fer making up the rest of the blend.
    • Gaillac: 
      • Gaillac Rouge AOP = At least 40% is the local Duras and Fer (pr. FAIR) red grapes, both are spicy. Also Syrah, Gamay, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon used in lesser proportions.
      • Gaillac Blanc AOP - blends of the floral, citrusy, acidic Len de L’El,  apple-y Mauzac, floral Muscadelle, and Sauvignon Blanc.
      • Gaillac Perlé (pr. guy-AHK pear-LAY): slightly sparkling made of Mauzac.
      • Gaillac Doux: Sweet, mainly late harvest wines.
  8. Gascony subregion
    • Madiran: Uses mainly Tannat with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Fer
  9. Béarn subregion
    • Jurançon:
      • Jurançon (sec) is dry, with green apple, honey, green herb, and crushed rock notes. Uses the Gros Manseng grape!
      • Whites are also made into lightly sparkling (moulleux) wine and Jurançon doux, a sweet wine made mainly of the soft, floral Petit Manseng
  10. French Basque country:
    • Irouléguy: fruity, tannic red wines and full-bodied, tangy whites. Most reds are Tannat/Cab Franc/Cab Sauvignon blends. Whites like Jurançon. 

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Oct 27, 2017
Ep 203: California Fires / Rapel Valley, Chile

We discuss the wildfires raging in the North Coast of California and give ideas on what that could mean for the industry. Then we talk about one of the best (maybe unknown) value regions for wine in the world, Rapel Valley in Chile and its sub regions!

Oct 14, 2017
Ep 202: Our Favorite Fall Wines

Our 2017 list of top 10 wines for fall (or early spring if you're in the southern hemisphere!)! The smell of falling leaves is here & it's time for a change from crisp, refreshing sippers to something heavier, earthier, and better with warm, hearty food.


Here's the list: 

1. Malbec from Cahors (France)

2. Cabernet Franc from:
Long Island, New York (US)
Virginia (US)
Chinon or Bourgueil from Loire Valley (France)

3. Red Bordeaux (France)

4. Fiano di Avellino, a white from Campania (Italy)

5. Aglianico, a red from Campania (Italy) especially Taurusi

6. Nebbiolo-based wines from Piedmont (Italy) especially Barolo, Barbaresco, Langhe

7. Sangiovese-based wines from Tuscany, Umbria or other parts of Italy especially Chianti, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Brunello or Rosso di Montalcino

8. Côtes-du-Rhône Blanc or the WHITE grapes that go into it: Grenache Blanc, Viognier, Roussanne, and Marsanne from Paso Robles, California (US)

9. Syrah from the northern Rhône or from Paso Robles, California

10. Rioja (Spain) -- Tempranillo only for M.C. Ice, the traditional Rioja blend for Elizabeth


Enjoy! And a great thanks to our sponsor: The Great Courses Plus

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Sep 30, 2017
Ep 201: How to Develop Your Wine Palate

We received two very similar listener questions so it was time to make a podcast of it! They were....

Caryn R: I am trying to learn more about aroma and taste. How does one discern that a wine has notes of pineapple and honeysuckle, for example? Is all of that really true or just marketing? Can i learn to smell and taste with more nuance?

Ted A: I'd like you to discuss palate. Can it be enhanced? How do you improve your palate? Do some people like me just not have a great palate, and it can't be improved?


We address all the questions above:

  • First we discuss the biology and building blocks of aroma
  • We talk about a number of categories of aromas from a chemical perspective (which, actually, as I look at them, remind me of names from Game of Thrones!): Esters, Pyrazines, Terpenes, and Thiols. Lots of great info on 
  • We discuss some other broader smell categories and what they manifest as in wine: oak, botrytis, and the yeast brettanomyces too!
  • Then we give you some action items: 
    • How to separate broad categories: fruit v herb v earth v other stuff 
    • How to become a student of smell and flavor by paying attention
    • The importance of slowing down to experience wine and food more fully
    • How to learn what certain structure terms mean by tasting certain things


And finally, non-conventional advice like: don't buy aroma kits and stop with the blind tasting, already!




Special thanks to our sponsors: - use the code Wine30 to get $30 your first week of meals! -- don't forget to check out: The Everyday Gourmet: Rediscovering the Lost Art of Cooking for the tasting class we discuss!  

Sep 15, 2017
Ep 200: A Re-Intro to WFNP & How To Begin in Wine

After a few listener questions on what WFNP was, is, and will be, we hit restart. We talk about: What if you or a friend were new to wine? How should they approach the subject? Where should they start? We answer & then add a few words from our 1st listener, Douglas Trapasso.


Here are the show notes: 

1. We answer: 

  • What is Wine for Normal People?
  • Who are our listeners?
  • How did WFNP get started and where is it going?
  • The climate of wine now v. when we started


2. We then shift gears and address the topic of introducing wine novices to wine appreciation. Phase one of the intro involves: 

  • Do a little research before you drink. Mainly on yourself - figure out what kinds of foods you like to eat. NOT For pairing – for finding wines that fit your profile.
    • Go by fruit groups, start with wines that taste like fruit, Don't start sweet
    • Buy the best version you feel comfortable buying (a tier or two above normal)
    • Have them with cheese or food
  • Take note of what you like. Explore that grape from different places. Then find things that are similar 

3. Phase 2 involves:

  • Listen to the podcast on topics you like. Read or listen in digestible bits. Do you like history? Do you like food? Do you like travel? Architecture? Science? What do you like to read about or know about? Wine has it all. Start with whatever topic is fascinating vis a vis wine.
  • Read Wine Folly or Vine Pair to get digestible bits of info
  • Remember: what grows together, goes together
  • Be an explorer – keep pushing yourself into new wines, don’t get hung up on 1 wine type because you like it. If you don’t like a wine or a region, keep at it. Try at least 1 a year from various classic regions – BTG or buy a bottle. Just to check in on your palate evolution.
  • Keep reading, keep listening, take WFNP classes, which will soon be online


Contest!! If you bring two friends who want to know more about wine, and have them like the page and listen to the podcast. I'll pick one of these groups and reward them with a free online live chat on any wine topics they wish. Post on Social Media with their names and I'll select a winning group! 


Sep 10, 2017
Ep 199: Cava -- Spain's Bubbly Wine

Named from the stone cellars (cavas) in which the wine is matured, Cava is Spain's premier sparkling wine but it has a lot of quirks and variations, all of which we discuss in the podcast. From unique grapes to diverse sourcing areas to a new top tier classification, we cover it all. Hopefully the show will give you insight into why this wine is so special and why it holds so much potential for becoming even better! 

Here are the show notes:

Overview of regions and grapes:

  • Cava is from Catalonia and other regions – 95% in Penedes, Sant Sadurni d’Anoia – home of the largest producers like Codorníu and Freixenet, Seguras Viudas
    • Other areas – Rioja, Navarra, Valencia, Aragon, Basque Country, Castilla y Leon, and a few more
    • Most have Mediterranean climate, moderate rain and vienyards are at altitude
  • The wine is made as white or rosado
    • White grapes: Macabeo (most used, also called Viura), Parellada, Xarel-lo, Chardonnay
    • Red grapes: Garnacha, Monastrell, Pinot Noir
  • Because the grapes are mainly native ones, you can’t compare the flavors to Champagne except in production methods
    • Made like Champagne
    • Same sweetness levels of Champagne in order of driest to sweetest: Brut Nature, Extra Brut, Brut, Extra Seco, Seco, Semiseco, Dulce 


  • First made in 1851
  • Josep Raventos traveled through Europe in 1860s – shilling Cordorniu’s wines (married into the family) but thought Spain could make its own Champagne.Made his own in 1872.  
  • For the first century of their existence, the wines were called Champaña. 1970s -- international laws,enforced and the wine became Cava.
  • Top brands:
    • Raventós i Blanc
    • Gramona (organic)
    • Recaredo (biodynamic)
    • Mestres
    • Bohigas
    • Castellroig
  • New top classification for the category, the Cava de Paraje Calificado.
    • Only vintage dated, only single vineyard – like a burgundy climat
    • Other specifications around acidification, aging levels

The first 12 Cava de Parade sites and their owners:

  • Vinyes de Can Martí – Torelló
  • Turó d’en Mota – Recaredo
  • Serral del Vell – Recaredo
  • Vallcirera – Alta Alella
  • La Capella – Juvé i Camps
  • Can Sala – Freixenet
  • La Pleta – Codorníu
  • El Tros Nou – Codorníu
  • La Fideuera – Codorníu
  • Can Prats – Vins el Cep
  • Font de Jui – Gramona
  • Terroja – Castellroig


Sep 01, 2017
Ep 198: Roero, Italy - Secret Values, Awesome Wines

In a small area of Piedmont is a hidden gem that makes some of the best value Nebbiolo and most unique whites of Italy, Arneis. If you love Italy and want to add to the list of gems, this podcast is a MUST listen!


Show Notes:

1. We give an overview of Piedmont, Italy and where Roero fits in to the mix -- it makes Nebbiolo and a unique white called Arneis


2. We discuss the small size of Roero 1100 ha/2700 acres of which most of it is Arneis with some limited growing of Nebbiolo. We chat about the advantages of Roero and how its polyculture will serve it well in years to come! 


3. We do the requisite history dork out (you know I can't help myself!): discussing the long heritage, the Roero family, and how Roero started its rise in the wine pantheon


4. Dorking out further, we cover the geology of Roero:

  • How it was part of the Golfo Padano, a sea that receded
  • The relevance of sand soils to the wine
  • The importance of the Tanaro River and its changing course




5. We talk wine styles:

  • Nebbiolo
    • Softer, earlier maturing than those wines but can be bold and aromatic that can be bottled under simple Nebbiolo d’Alba or under Roero DOCG
    • Various levels to explore: Romero DOCG, Roero Reserve DOCG, NEW: After 8 years – subzone classification map of top vineyard sites in Roero – “Grand Cru”
  • Arneis  
    • Roero Arneis is minerally and expressive, mild in acidity, but the soils add complexity and minerality.
    • Arenas was planted to get birds and bugs away from Nebbiolo b/c it’s more aromatic
    • Various levels to explore: Roero Arneis DOCG, Roero Arneis Riserva DOCGRoero Arneis Spumante DOCG

Some producers mentioned: 

  • Vietti
  • Bruno Giacosa 
  • Luciano Sandrone 
  • Matteo Correggia

Thanks to


Special thanks to our sponsor this week: 

The Great Courses Plus

Go to for a month free trial of over 8,000 lectures!!! 

Aug 21, 2017
Ep 197: A lesson on Mosel with Dr Dirk Richter of Max Ferd Richter

In March 2017, I went to Mosel & spoke with Dr. Dirk Richter, 9th generation owner/operator of Max Ferd. Richter. The wines are stunning and Dr. Richter's explanation of Mosel wine, history, and culture will be the best you'll ever hear.


The distinguished Dr. Dirk Richter:



Wines we discussed:

"Zeppelin Label" Mulheimer Sonnenlay Riesling ($14):


Richter Estate Riesling (we discuss '15 and '16), $17



2015 Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Kabinett, $20

2015 Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Spätlese, $20


Veldenzer Elisenberg Riesling Spätlese ($25) and Auslese ($50)

Aug 11, 2017
Ep 196: Tejo, Portugal with Ian Renwick

Ian Renwick, owner of Jaded Palates wine in the UK and occasional co-host returns to talk about a recent trip to Tejo, Portugal. It's a fascinating region experiencing a renaissance and we give you the inside line on the best wines to seek out!




Special thanks to this week's sponsor, The Great Courses Plus! Check out my special URL to get a free month of access to amazing video lectures:

Jul 30, 2017
Ep 195: Oded Shakked, Dynamic Winemaker & Owner of Longboard in Sonoma

This time, an outstanding interview with Oded Shakked of the small Russian River Valley producer, Longboard Vineyards. Although he's been making wine for most of his life in California, Oded is originally from Israel and has a global perspective on wine, winemaking, and wine business that's refreshing and fascinating. He's fantastic and all his wines are delicious, well-balanced, and all are made to accompany food. 


Here are the show notes: 

  • Oded shares his amazing story, from being a kid in Israel to discovering surfing, traveling the world, and then winding up at UC Davis in Sonoma to study winemaking.
  • We talk about what things used to be like in Napa and Sonoma, and what a winemaking degree from UC Davis gave to Oded that was so valuable.
  • Oded discusses his love of Sonoma and why it's so special to him. 
  • We discuss the changes that have occurred over the years in Sonoma and what Oded has seen in the food and wine scene -- for good and bad. 
  • Oded is a deep thinker. We tap into some of that brain power when he discusses his philosophy on food and wine, and how it helps him makes wines of balance
  • Since he is one of the few winemakers in California that does a full line of still wine and also makes a Methode Champenoise sparkling wine, he uses this unique experience to tell us the differences in mentality you need to make each type of wine (a very cool discussion). 
  • We chat about Syrah (Oded's is stunning!) and why it isn't as popular as it should be.

All in all a fascinating conversation with a great winemaker, a guy with great perspective on the last 30 years in Sonoma, and an all around nice person!

Go visit Longboard when you're in Healdsburg: 


Jul 21, 2017
Ep 194: The Flavors of Rosé Explained

Rosé is so popular now that the market is flooded. So the question now is not just do you want rosé, but what kind? How do you figure it out? There are some ways to choose the kind of pink for you! This podcast gives you heuristics to get a perfect bottle!

Here are the show notes:


 The four ways to make rosé:

  • Crush the grapes
  • Leave them in contact with the skins like a red wine  
  • Soak them for a little while – like 2 hours to 2 days or so (red wines are weeks or months)
  • Longer maceration, the darker the wine, the more tannin, the more red wine character


  • Similar to limited skin maceration, direct pressing -- contact with the skins for an extremely short period of time.
  • No maceration, press and get skins away, make it like a white wine
  • Some color in the juice, lightest rose of all


  • The saignée, or “bleeding,” method makes rosé AND red wine
  • Started as a way to concentrate reds.
  • Early in the maceration process, remove or “bleed” some of the juice from the tank.
  • Vinified separately as a rosé


  • White + red = rosé
  • Prohibited for quality wines in Europe except Champagne
  • Style varies from light to heavy depending on the amount and type of red wine used in the blend


Grapes/areas and flavors:

French styles:

  • Provence – salmon colored, Grenache lead with Syrah, Cinsault, Mourvedre: fruity, berry, cherry, with orange, saline, hay/dried grass or meadow, stony, floral, berry notes, bone dry, acidic, strawberry, fresh-cut watermelon, and rose petal, finishing with a distinctive, salty minerality on the palate
  • Rhone: Tavel: only 100% rose appellation. Lots of structure and character – Grenache and Cinsault, 9 grapes authorized, ages well
  • Sancerre, Burgundy, Alsace, Germany Pinot Noir: acidity and soft, subtle aromas of watermelon, raspberries, cherry, strawberries, and stream. Earthy, elegant, Bone dry
  • Bandog from Provence: Mourvedre. Full bodied, richer, darker
  • Loire: Cab Franc/Cab Sauv/Grolleau/Gamay Rose –  can be dark red, bone dry, floral, herbal



  • Tempranillo lead: Savory, heavy color – herbal, peppery, watermelon, strawberry, heavier, earthy, floral
  • Basque Txakolina Rosado: berries, spritzy, salinity, low alcohol



  • Red fruit, flowers/roses, citrus, savory
  • AKA – Rosato, Cerasuolo, Ramato



New World:

  • Syrah lead: bolder, more like a light red – strawberry, pepper, cherry, peach
  • Cab Sauv: deep ruby red color with typical Cab notes: green bell pepper, cherry, black currant and black pepper
  • White Zin: 85% of Zin production. Off-dry, sticky sweet.
  • Carignan lead – common in CA: red berries, citrus
  • Malbec: In Argentina
  • Any combo possible, as well as sugar and blending white and red


Remember, it's ok to drink rosé once fall begins! 


Thanks to our sponsor The Great Courses! 


Jul 14, 2017
Ep 193: Lambrusco! An Awesome Italian Gem

Lambrusco is a family of grapes & a wine made from those grapes that's usually red, fizzy & refreshing! Made in Emilia-Romagna, east of Tuscany, this ancient gem got a bad rep in the 1980s but is making a comeback! We'll tell you how to get the good stuff!


Jun 25, 2017
Ep 192: Hawke's Bay, NZ with Correspondent Simone Madden-Grey

You know Marlborough and its tasty Sauvignon Blanc and you may know New Zealand makes Pinot Noir too, but Bordeaux blends and Syrah? YES! Hawke's Bay is New Zealand's second largest wine district and it rocks. Simone, our Australia and New Zealand correspondent, tells us all about it in this fabulous podcast!


First we give a Hawke's Bay Overview

  • It's the 2nd largest industry after Marlborough with about 10% of NZ total production
  • It's New Zealand's leading producer of full-bodied reds: 88% of New Zealand's red production of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah grapes in 2016. 
  • The area makes rich, complex Chardonnays too
  • Started in 1851, Hawke's Bay is one of New Zealand's oldest wine regions


Then we talk location and climate:

  • The area is on the east coast of the North Island in and around the cities of Napier and Hastings 
  • The climate is maritime climate at coast and more continental as you move inland
  • Hawke's Bay is one of the most versatile wine-producing regions in New Zealand -- with multiple mesoclimates, solis, slopes, etc.
  • Sub-regions -- Coast, hillsides, alluvial plains (Gimblett Gravels),  river valleys, and continental areas

The grapes of the area:

  • Reds: Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Pinot Noir
  • Whites: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris and other aromatic whites 


 And finally, the wineries Simone shared in the podcast:

1. Clearview Estate*

2. Greywacke* 

3. Elephant Hill*

4. Craggy Range*

5. Stonecroft**

6. Vidal

7. Villa Maria*

8. Bilancia**

9. Trinity Hill**


*= available in the United States

**=limited in the United States


Get on these wines! They are spectacular! 



Jun 20, 2017
Ep 191: Proving Terroir is Real with John Dimos of Biome Makers

Is terroir a concept concocted by the French to hide flaws, as some suggest? Or is it a real thing that can be tasted and measured? John Dimos from Biome Makers and Wine Seq has a tool that resolves the question. In this nerdy, fascinating podcast we dig into the details and provide solid answers to the questions below! I never thought we'd see this in our lifetimes, but here we are! 


1. What is it?! John tells us the premise of Biome Makers and how it's an affordable and viable premise now vs 5 years ago

2.  He answers terroir questions around...
  • Why people have denied the presence of "terroir" in wine 
  • How Biome Makers changed the game on the notion of terroir 
  • How soil variation impacts on grapes
  • The effect of the biomes v chemicals from winemaking in the final wine? 
3.  We discuss the WIM (What it Means) and the impact of the tool on wineries...
  • Who is this tool for and how will they use it?
  • Given that terroir is a real thing and that it CAN be detected in many wines, why isn't expressed in all wine (or food for that matter)?
  • How is this new tool going to change wine growing going forward? 
  • Will it empower people to take more "risks" on farming organically? 
  • Does this steal the "art" from grape growing/winemaking?

I encourage you to check out the site and to follow them on Facebook and Twitter. A company that surely will change the way winemaking happens!


A thanks to our sponsor: the Great Courses Plus! Sign up for a free trial!

Jun 07, 2017
Ep 190: The Birthplace of wine - The Republic of Georgia

Where did vitis vinifera originate? Where do we think winemaking started? We think it's from the area that is now the Republic of Georgia. Once part of the USSR, this small, beautiful nation is reemerging as a wine power so it's time for an overview!


Here are the show notes:

Top level stuff...


  • Georgia is where Eastern Europe meets Asia. Between the Caucasus Mountains and the Black Sea
  • As big as Scotland or Ireland
  • 111,000 acres of vines ranging from the coast of the Black Sea to Kakheti, on the other side of the Caucasus mountains
  • Outside Tbilisi, they only speak Georgian so when you go, you've gotta hire a guide



  • Russia to the north and Turkey and Armenia to the south
  • Primary wine region of Kakheti—according to Georgians, the birthplace of wine itself
  • The main wine regions, from Kakheti in the east and Imereti, Racha and Samegrelo in the west, are within a few hours’ drive from Tbilisi, the capital


  • a diverse climatic landscape that varies from temperate to subtropical

An Historical Relic: Qveri (Kwhere-vree)

  • Traditional Georgian fermentation: a clay vessel used for centuries to produce wine in Georgia.
  • Qvervi: 1,000-liter beeswax-coated terra-cotta jar buried in the earth
    • A qvevri is a thick-walled vessel buried deep in the ground in a marani, or Georgian wine cellar.
    • naturally maintains wine at optimal temperature during fermentation and allows it to age for many years without spoilage.
    • Once fermentation is complete, the wine can be racked into another qvevri, leaving the heavy sediment behind.
    • Qvevri white wine is sharp, strong, amber. or in the case of reds, so dark it’s known as shavi gvino: black wine


 Grapes: 500+ indigenous grape varietals found in Georgia,

  • Red: Saperavi, Tavkveri and Chkhaveri plus Tavkveri, Shavkapito,  Chkhaveri and Ojaleshi.
  • White: Rkatsiteli (r-kat-see-telly), Chinuri and Mtsvane (mits-vane)
  • méthode Champenoise in Georgia since the late 1800s, with native grape
  • Orange wine:  Friuli winemaker Josko Gravner makes his sought-after “orange” wines using ancient Georgian techniques/qvervri



  • Grapes and traces of wine residue have been found in archaelogical digs from 8,000 years ago.
  • Vitis vinifera originated from the Caucasus mountains in GA
  • Ottoman rule in west, Christianity in the east made east side of the country the wine powerhouse
  • Georgia came under Soviet control a few decades later. Small vineyards merged into huge co-ops =CRAP
  • Georgia declared independence in 1991
    • Russia's 2006 embargo on Georgian wine imports, lifted only in June 2013. Forced diversification into other, stronger markets


The wines of Georgia have a little ways to go, but they are a fascinating slice of vinous history and worth seeking out or trying if they are ever right in front of you! 


May 27, 2017
Ep 189: Navarra, Spain

Navarra is in northern Spain and although a prolific, historic region, it's not well-known. Traditionally it's been associated with making fruit-driven rosé, but its reds are starting to come on strong and it's emerging as an excellent, high quality, high value region.

Fast facts on Navarra:

  • Capital: Pamplona, home of the running of the bulls (Fiesta de San Fermin)! DO is south of the city
  • Vineyards are around the foothills of the Pyrenees to the Ebro River in Northern Spain
  • Navarra is part of the historic Basque country – but the Ebro River has the most impact on winemaking here (river valleys are essential to vine growing)

We review the storied history of Navarra:

  • From Romans to Moors to Catholics, we discuss the winemaking legacy
  • We talk about the importance of El Camino a Santiago de Compostela -- a 400 mile walk to visit the remains of St. James (Santiago) in Galicia on the western coast
    • 12th c – wine recommended in a guide book to pilgrims
    • Reputation for wine formed through El Camino
  • We discuss the French influence from the 14th century through the 19th c – (1892) when Navarra wines were in high demand post-phylloxera
  • We talk about the modern efforts of the DO, and EVENA, the Estación de Viticulture y Enología de Navarra (Navarra Viticulture and Oenological Research Station), in the Ribera Alta sub-region and how that added legitimacy AND created some issues for Navarra. 


We talk geography and terroir:

  • Navarra is large and the climate includes areas with Atlantic-influenced, continental, and Mediterranean climates
  • In the south-east is the Bardenas Reales National Park
  • The Pyrenees mountains in the northeast w/other mtns in north, just below France
  • Atlantic is an hour northwest, Ebro Valley in Southern Part Near Bay of Biscayne in Northwest/Atlantic Ocean


We discuss grapes and wines:

  • Navarra was known only for Garnacha-based rosados
  • EVENA allowed and encouraged French varieties in the 1980s to compete with Rioja (add diversity and it's own identity) — Chardonnay, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 90% red varieties, 10% white grape varieties
  • 70% of the grapes are native varietals
    • Tempranillo – 33%
    • Garnacha – 24%
    • Graciano – 1.5%
    • Mazuelo/Cariñena .5%
    • (WHITE) Viura – 2.25%
  • 30% of vineyards are planted to international varieties
    • Cabernet Sauvignon – 15%
    • Merlot – 14%
    • Chardonnay – 5.4%


The Sub regions 

Tierra Estella: Northwest, borders Basque Country and La Rioja. Highest average altitude and notable Atlantic influence. Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay.

Valdizarbe:  Northern area with continental and Atlantic climate. Tempranillo, Garnacha, Cabernet and Merlot all occupy similar surface areas, with Chardonnay and Malvasía.

Baja Montaña: In the foothills of the Pyrenees Mountains. Continental climate. Garnacha, Tempranillo, with little else grown. Known for rosados.

Ribera Alta:
 Continental climate transitioning from Atlantic to Mediterranean climate.Cereal plantings here (fertile soils!). Tempranillo, Graciano, Chardonnay, Moscatel de Grano Menudo


Ribera Baja: Mediterranean climate. Tempranillo, Garnacha, Viura, Moscatel. 


Finally we hit on identity issues: Too much diversity

  • We decide that Garnacha expresses place and should be the horse they bet on in Navarra!
  • We mention the DO de Pago producers: Señorio de Arínzano and Prado Irache in Tierra Estella and Bodegas Otazu in Valdizarbe.


Go get some Navarra! It rocks!! 





May 18, 2017
Ep 188: Kieran Robinson, Where Sonoma Meets the Rhône

Kieran Robinson is a small producer of Rhone style wines in Sonoma --and his stuff rocks. A Philadelphia native, after working in the Northern Rhône he moved to Napa & worked for cult wineries going it alone. A great story from a truly talented winemaker!


Here are the show notes: 

  1. Kieran tells us about his early life in Philadelphia, at Ithaca college, and getting his start in wineries in the Finger Lakes.
  2. He takes us on his journey from Northern Rhône to Napa to Sonoma and details what it was like to work with everyone from Michel Rolland, Aaron Potts, and Paul Hobbs before going out on his own.
  3. We address Kieran's real passion: making Viognier and Syrah. We talk about the current situation in Sonoma with grapes and more people looking at Rhône varietals as a viable and awesome option.
  4. Kieran takes us through the differences between his wines, the wines' nod to Philly, and why they are so darn great! 


To learn more about Kieran, go to


And thanks to our sponsor, The Great Courses: 


May 10, 2017
Ep 187: Paso Robles (with some Sonoma)

After a trip out to Sonoma and Paso Robles, we have much new information to share! In this podcast we chat quickly about the glammed up version of Sonoma we encountered and then take a detailed look at Paso -- its history, terroir, the 11  appellations, and the wine!  





Apr 30, 2017
Ep 186: My Trip to Mosel, Germany, A Wine World Wonder

My recent trip to German wine regions included Mosel, which has one enormous advantage over any other place that makes Riesling: terroir. We talk about the geography, the slopes, the land, and the people, and why Mosel is really a wonder of the wine world.

Apr 17, 2017
Ep 185: Laura Maniec, Master Sommelier and Owner of CorkBuzz

Laura Maniec, Master Sommelier and owner of CorkBuzz Wine Studio shares insights on being an MS, a restaurateur, and a hospitality guru. After she shares her fascinating story, we talk about our venture, and how we love wine shopping for you and treasure hunting for great values that hit the price point for an average of $70 for 4 bottles (a steal!). 


Here are the topics we cover on the show: 

  • First, Laura tells us about her childhood and how her grandmother shaped her mentality regarding hospitality. 
  • We learn about how a Master Sommelier gets made! Laura talks about her path from cocktail waitress in Queens to MS and owner of CorkBuzz Wine Studio in Manhattan and Charlotte, NC. 
  • We get Laura's take on the MS program and how much she loves it! We talk about who it's for and who it's not for. 
  • We discuss Laura's awesome wine philosophy and how she wants to help normal people love wine!
  • Laura shares with us the latest wine trends she's seeing in NYC
  • We chat about the new project we're on together, Weekly Tasting and how it's an opportunity for us to shop for wines for you that you may not know about, have heard of or even knew you wanted (you do want these!)

Laura is @lauramaniec on Twitter and Instagram and you can find her on Facebook @CorkbuzzRestaurant&Winebar



Apr 07, 2017
Ep 184: My Field Trip to Rheingau, Germany (will make you WANT these wines)

This podcast is based directly off a blog post on my site! So instead of trying to recreate the formatting and pictures, I'll just link to it here since there are no better show notes than this:

Apr 01, 2017
Ep 183: Jennifer Williams, Star Napa Winemaker of Arrow&Branch

One of the rising stars of Napa Valley, Jennifer Williams is winemaker for Arrow&Branch in Coombsville, a cooler Napa AVA, as well as for her own brand, Zeitgeist, which she runs with her husband (also a winemaker).

Jennifer shares her story of working with and learning from legendary winemakers such as Rosemary Cakebread and Francoise Peschon and time working at cult wineries Araujo and Spottswoode, where she was head winemaker.

We talk about Napa's future, Cabernet, the importance of vineyard in Napa, and how Jennifer balances her busy life. 


Special thanks to this week's sponsor: The Great Courses Plus! Visit to learn more! 

Mar 26, 2017
Ep 182: Marina Marcarino of Punset, Organic Winemaking Pioneer of Barbaresco

Continuing the Women's History Month winemaker series, I speak with Marina Marcarino of Punset in Barbaresco, Italy. She is one of Italy's most respected and influential female winemakers. In the late 1980's, she ignored the norm and converted her family’s estate into a 100% certified organic vineyard. She is a kind, smart, savvy woman in wine and I learned so much from her about Barbaresco and organic farming -- you will too!

Here are the show notes:

  • We discuss Marina's childhood in Piemonte, the town of Alba and what it's really known for (hint: NUTELLA!) and why being a "bad baby" led her on a path to making organic wine.
  • It's Women's History Month so we spend some time discussing her experiences as a woman in the wine industry and what it's like to raise a child and be a winemaker.
  • We learn all about Barbaresco -- the difference with Barolo, the unique geographic features -- the Tanaro River, the consistent breezes, the differences between the diverse winemaking areas, and why the wines are so consistently good.
  • We pivot to discuss farming and Marina's passion for organics. We discuss her philosophies, why she must do organic farming (or else no farming at all!) and why, despite being called "The Crazy", she has persevered and now has others following her lead.
  • We tackle the importance of certification in organics and the difference between certifying a practice (organic) and a philosophy (biodynamic).
  • Finally we discuss winemaking and Marina's goals to make her beautiful, wonderful wine. Marina gives advice to future female winemakers and we agree to meet in Italy someday soon (I love this lady!)!

Here's where you can find the outstanding Punset wines in the US, Canada, and UK markets (use to see if it's available near you, if you live outside these countries):

The US: 
The UK:


And thanks to The Great Courses for sponsoring this episode. Get your free trial subscription at

Mar 14, 2017
Ep 181: Laura Catena, The Leading Lady of Argentine Wine

The first in a series for Women's History Month, I speak to Laura Catena of Bodegas Catena Zapata in Mendoza, Argentina. We discuss her life as a doctor, a mom, and the head of a wine empire, the history of Malbec and how her family aided the meteoric rise of Argentine wine and of the comeback of the Malbec grape around the world. 

A fun, sharp-as-a-tack woman, you'll learn a ton about Malbec, Mendoza, and a few life lessons from this fascinating podcast! 


Laura’s History and Background on the Catena Family

  • Her life as a doctor and the bridge between medicine and wine
  • Her career pivot to the wine and becoming “the wine doctor” for her country and family
  • Historical perspective
    • The Catena family history in wine
    • The history with Malbec and history of Catena and Malbec
  • Her dad and her homage to him: his pride of country and why he has been so successful


Malbec and it’s Rich History

  • Malbec Studies
    • Pre-phylloxera clippings
    • Flavors based on altitude/studies on altitude
    • The sides of Malbec: the agebility factor, and the evolution of the grape
    • Old v New vines: the real differences
      • Luca: Laura’s own project of all old vine wine, managed separately and small and how it fosters Argentinean pride


Laura’s Advice on Doing it All

  • How she handles being a mom, a doctor, and running a major wine company
    • The power of the B+
    • The balance of kids and work and life advice on spouses, marriage, and kids


Making Wine in Mendoza

  • High altitude growing and Catena’s role: Argentina has distinctive regions – b/c of the altitude huge variations in climates, move faster from warmer to colder
  • Nicolas’s (her dad’s) altitude bet and its payoff – combination, altitude, latitude, plant material
  • Sub-regions:
    • Lujan de Cuyo= old vines, clay soils, makes some good stuff
    • Uco Valley = Key region for quality
      • Sub-regions: Tupungato, Alta Mira, La Consulta, Gualtallary


The Wine Culture of Argentina and the Wines of Catena

  • Alamos: Gallo family’s distribution and the benefits of the relationship for the Catenas. The importance of keeping the small producers alive. The paradox of being big and supporting small producers
  • Lafite-Rothschild and Catena: Bodegas CARO wines
  • Luca: Laura’s project
  • Bodega Catena Zapata
    • Catena – classic Malbec, $20
    • Catena Alta – historic rows of vines
    • Catena Zapata/Adrianna Vineyards – small parcels, harvest plant by plant, hand harvested
Mar 08, 2017
Audio blog 14: Red Wine Headaches

Red Wine Headaches: Ideas On Causes and Remedies (but sadly not real solutions…)

Nearly every time I do a speaking event, a familiar scenario transpires. After the wine class, a person who seemed very interested in what I had to say approaches me with a sad look on his or her face and says, “I love the taste of wine. I’m so fascinated by the subject but I just can’t drink that often. I get a horrible headache every time I drink, especially with red wine. Is there anything I can do?”


My heart always breaks a little for that person and I hope that despite my obvious lack of expertise in health matters (here’s my caveat, I’m an MBA, not an MD so I am only offering this article second hand) that I can solve the problem and get the person back on track to enjoy wine, headache-free.


Before I go down this path, I want to be really clear about the information that’s widely available and that’s repeated over and over again in major wine outlets and news publications. I scoured scientific journals and I found an even better source – a scientist who scoured scientific journals[1] – to see what conclusive evidence there is on this topic. What I and they found was a lot of half studies without a statistically significant result in most cases. The bottom line is that no one has funded a large-scale study on this topic. (And I get it: really, who is going to fund something like this, which is what it comes down to? Wine companies have other priorities and they would be the most likely cash source…).  So as I share this info, I want to tell you now that except for two of these solutions, one which I can vouch for and another which has scientific proof behind it, the rest is pure conjecture.


Still, we’re not operating in the dark. There are some strong contenders for what is causing that nasty pounding after drinking wine or more specifically, red wine. And, better yet, if you’re not averse to taking an over-the-counter medicine, you could solve the problem fairly easily in many cases.


Let’s run through the different potential causes and give ideas on how to tackle them.


The first thing that is killing most heads…

I’m not going to hold you in suspense. I want to tell you the number one thing that is probably causing your headache: alcohol. It dehydrates the body, or to quote the UK National Health Service:


“Dehydration can also occur as a result of drinking too much alcohol. Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it makes you wee more.” (insert immature chuckle here).


And what a lot of us fail to realize is that most wine is somewhere between 12.5% and 14.5% alcohol by volume. That means that for a 5 ounce glass of wine, 12.5% to 14.5%, more or less, is made up of alcohol. Contrast that with beer, which is more like 3-4% alcohol by volume and you see that wine is not as innocuous as it seems.


So if you happen to have one or two glasses of wine, especially red, which tends to be higher in alcohol (because the grapes are riper and picked later, thus upping the sugar), AND you have no water in between and no food or nibbles, you are robbing your body of water. Dehydration gives you a headache, so there you go!  


The Solution?

First, try wines with lower alcohol content. If you can drink around 10% or 11% ABV versus 14%, that could help. Look on the bottle for the percentage – it’s required by law in most countries. Lower alcohol means more bang for your buck – 1 glass of this stuff won’t wallop you like one glass of a 14%’er will.


Alternately you can take a page out of the professional drinkers’ book people in the wine industry’s book. We’re usually downing water in between glasses or eating food to mitigate the effect of the high alcohol. It seems like our tolerances are off the charts (and they probably are to some extent) but a lot of that comes from experience and lots and lots of water.


Ok, that’s the number one cause of headaches. But there are several others, so don’t think I’m about to dismiss you if you’ve tried to drink water and it doesn’t work!


Next are the mean amines. Wines that go through malolactic fermentation release amines in the process, and have levels that can be 200% higher than in wines that don’t go through malo. There’s been some research done on the effect of the “amines” but nothing super conclusive. [2]


The second thing we’re pretty sure is causing pain: Histamines[3]

Histamines are compounds that exist in wine at varying levels. Red wine and bubbly tend to be higher in these pesky enzymes. That means if you have a sensitivity, you may have a terrible allergic reaction, e.g., a headache, rash, even sneezing. This is especially true for people with a diamine oxidase deficiency (you can take a probiotic to help that problem, incidentally). The National Institute of Health in the US has shown that high levels of histamine in blood plasma can create bad allergic reactions, including allergy headaches. Since alcohol increases histamine in blood plasma, you could wind up suffering with a headache.


The Solution?

Pop the anti-histamine of your choice about an hour before you drink wine. Still drink the water to prevent dehydration, but see if this helps you out. Again, no conclusive studies on this one, but it has some research behind it, so I’d give it a try (just check the interactions with alcohol before you take anything).


And the less proven amine…

Some doctors posit that high levels of the amino acid tyramine, which can cause migraines, is the main cause of headache pain from wines. If stuff like processed meats (think pepperoni or hot dogs), tofu, soy sauce, miso, and cheeses like blue, brie, cheddar, Swiss, or Roquefort give you a headache, you may have an issue with tyramine. Although the levels are lower in red wine than in these foods, they go hand in hand. You’ll need to skip the wine and cheese pairings and stick to one small glass of wine if you think this may be your issue. That said, apart from a few doctors saying they think this is the problem, I couldn’t find any studies to back it up.


Tannins often take heat for causing headaches. And they do change serotonin levels, which can cause migraines. They ARE more prominent in reds than in whites, so that could explain the issue for people who have problems with red and not white. Tannins also can release fatty acids (prostaglandins) that can cause headaches and pain.


But again, this is all conjecture. We don’t have much to back this up. Still, it’s a theory posited by headache specialists, so if you think this is your problem, take some kind of headache medicine – ibuprofen, Tylenol, aspirin, whatever. Again, watch out for the interaction between the wine and the drug.



What is probably NOT causing your headache? Sulfites

Sulfites/sulfur dioxide/sulphites are a naturally occurring byproduct of fermentation and are added to wine to prevent spoilage and browning. They are also in dried fruit jam, molasses, bottled lime and lemon juice, sauerkraut, lunchmeat, and gravy. Although wine is singled out as a product that has sulfites, plenty of others have equal or higher levels.


Unless you are part of the 1-5% of the population that has a sulfite allergy, this isn’t your problem. If you have severe asthma or allergies, this could be a huge issue and you’ll know it’s a problem because the result is not a headache, but an asthma attack or something worse. If you don’t have these issues, dismiss this one.  It’s better you move on and try to find the real cause.


The Wrap

After all this, I will repeat what I said at the beginning: the issue with a red wine headache or any wine headache is most likely dehydration or histamine issues or a combo of a few of these things. Try a few solutions and see if they work. And make sure you chug water. If it’s still an epic fail, I guess you’ll have to wait until I report back with some new, exciting finding that solves this really annoying problem!





Mar 02, 2017
Ep 180: Stellenbosch, South Africa

Stellenbosch is the most prestigious, oldest wine growing region in South Africa. It's beautiful, diverse, and a bridge between Old World and New World styles. We talk about the details of the region and why it's much more obscure than it should be. 



South African Wine Map

Feb 26, 2017
Ep 179: Thomas Jefferson -- America's First Wine Nerd

You know I'm a sucker for history, and this was a fascinating one to research. Through Thomas Jefferson's detailed records, we're able to learn so much about wine during the late 1700s and early 1800s in France, Spain, and northern Italy. Turns out, as much as we think things have changed, much of it has stayed the same. We need to thank the folks at Monticello in Virginia for making such awesome records available! Here are some notes:


  • Pre-Revolution wine was made up of Madeira, light red Claret, Sherry, and Port. The British dictated tastes and discouraged trade in French wine so Portugal and Spain dominated


  • Jefferson began his love of wine while at William & Mary College in Williamsburg, Virginia and developed more of an interest when he interacted with German prisoners during and after the Revolution


  • in 1784, Jefferson was newly widowed and moved to France to serve as an ambassador alongside John Adams and Benjamin Franklin. 


  • Adams loved Bordeaux and helped school Jefferson in wine, but Jefferson took his passion further, combining "public service with private gratification" on a number of long trips through Burgundy, Rhône, Piedmont, Loire, and Bordeaux. He toured Rheingau, Mosel, and Champagne later on. Burgundy was his passion.


  • Jefferson didn't want to leave Paris in 1789 but left and became Washington's Secretary of State, and he never returned to the continent. He became an advocate for French and Italian wines in America. 


  • While  president, he drank sherry Hermitage blanc, what appears to be Bandol, and a Roussillon wine that seems like a modern day vin doux natural and racked up personal wine debts that would be several million dollars in today's world.


  • Throughout his life, Jefferson kept immaculate records of his drinking, coming up with a tasting lexicon and a method for getting people more interested in trying these fine wines. We know that the best wines of the world remain so -- terroir is terroir -- and that the more things have changed, the more they have stayed the same in many regards. No amount of technology can make a better wine than a Montrachet from Burgundy or a first growth from Bordeaux. 


Hope you enjoy this bit of international wine history! Thanks to Monticello, Jane Anson and John Hallman's Thomas Jefferson On Wine for so much great info on which to draw! 

Feb 17, 2017
Ep 178: Slovenia


Slovenia is small but it's up and coming! It's a fascinating place with a long winemaking tradition that should pique your interest.


Before you read on, a great thanks to our sponsor: The Great Courses Plus!

The Great Courses Plus has over 8,000 lectures on a ton of subjects, taught by experts. Well done and escapism that's addictive! You'll lear so much! 

Go to to get a free trial (the special URL lets them know you heard about it here!). As I mentioned, The Everyday Gourmet: Rediscovering the Lost Art of Cooking is mandatory for you wine education!!! Watch and get back to me!!


Slovenia's Wine Stats:

  • Population of two million people, who drink a LOT: 5th highest wine consumption per capita in the world
  • About 75% of the country's production is white wine
  • 55K Planted acres makes it the size of Sonoma County, in California
  • Small portion of the wine is exported
  • 70% of the wine is premium, most is made in the clean modern style 
    • Some using ancient techniques (clay amphorae) to give the texture a tannic rasp and the wine a rosy, sometimes amber, hue (orange wines)

Slovenia's Wine History

  • Of Celts, Romans, Christians, and Napoleon
  • By the end of the WWII, co-ops controlled nearly all of the region's wine production: Sucky bulk wine production with a few small private wineries in the Drava Valley region
  • In 1967, the government established the PSVVS (Business Association for Viticulture and Wine Production)
  • In 1991, Slovenia was the first to declare independence from Yugoslavia
  • Dictatorship/Socialism/Communism separated countries from centuries of winemaking traditions but they are catching up now


  • At crossroad of eastern and central Europe bordered by Hungary, Italy, Croatia, and Austria 
  • Important Rivers: Drava and Sava connect to the Danube
  • Dynamic regions on borders

3 Main Regions

  • Primorska: 
    • Near Italian region of Fruili Venezia Giulia, high quality whites and reds
    • Sub regions: Vipava Valley, Goriska Brda (gore-ISH-KA BURR-DA), Koper (pr. Coper), Karst plateau district
    • Grapes: Ribolla Gialla, Pinot Grigio, other whites, Refosco other reds
    • Experimentation and blending of old and new: Orange wines, clay amphora, and long, long aging
  • Drava (Podravje) 
    • Botrytis affected whites, Welschriesling, Furmin
    • Nearly 97% of the wine made in the Drava Valley region is white wine
    • Seven sub-regions
  • Lower Sava (Posavje) 
    • Only Slovenian wine region that produces more red wine than white, though not by a large margin
    • Three districts, you may see Lower Carniola on a bottle
    • Lower Sava Valley region is dominated by bulk wine, rather than premium wine, production
    • Use of many native grapes

Hope you enjoy this off-the-beaten trail podcast. 


Feb 10, 2017
Ep 177: Bar Food and Wine Pairings

Ok, we've done it. We did the primary research with unhealthy, kinda nasty bar food. Our findings were pretty simplistic but we figured it out through trial and error.

Here's a hint: our MVP is a wine we don't recommend often: lightly oaked Chardonnay!

Feb 04, 2017
Audio blog 13: Cool Weather Whites

When the weather is cold, I often just want to reach for a red. It’s got higher alcohol, is served at a warmer temperature, and it’s great with hearty food.


But I’m here to tell you that there’s this underbelly of whites that few know about that you need to get on right away. They are usually a great price, often as satisfying as a red, and can pair perfectly with rich food (especially spicy food). The common theme is that they feel fuller and softer in your mouth and have good flavor. If you put them in a black glass and you’d swear they were red wines!


In the summer and with summer foods, we all want sippers that are refreshing and bright: Wines that are best colder and have high acidity are best (Sauvignon Blanc, unoaked Chardonnay/Chablis, Albariño or Verdejo from Spain). But as the temps go down, you need a bone-warming white. The three keys to finding one:


  1. Lower acidity and softer, rounder textures, which mean these wines are from warmer, sunnier climates where the grapes get fully ripe and aren't as tart. 13.5% alcohol is probably the minimum you’d want for the right body.


  1. Wines that are better served at 50˚F+ -- not ice cold. You'll need to leave these out of the fridge to warm up. 


  1. Fuller flavored wines that have enough umph to stand up to richer foods -- soups and stews, poultry with herbs, pastas with richer sauces.


For me, the genre of grapes and blends that fit the bill are those from Alsace, , the Rhône Valley, and Southern Italy, and places that have similar climates to those areas. 


Alsace Whites: Take your pick! Any of the great grapes of Alsace are full, soft, rich, and great for warmer weather. 

  • The Riesling is opulent and almost oily in texture but still dry with peach, apple, pear, and mineral (think of being near a waterfall) notes. The wine has acidity but it's fuller in body than many dry German versions.
  • The Pinot Gris is not so aromatic, but it's spicy -- like coriander or mild ginger -- with smoke, orange, apricot, pear notes and a rich texture. Good stuff and affordable. 
  • I’ve actually had some awesome Pinot Blanc of late. Although it can be insipid and thin, the right producer in the right year makes it fat, round, and pear-like in flavor.
  • Great versions can be had from $18 on up to hundreds of dollars.


Rhône Whites:

  • For Southern Rhône, Costieres di Nîmes Blanc, Côtes de Rhône Blanc, and Châteauneuf-du-Pape blanc are my favorites. The main grapes for these wines vary -- some are Grenache Blanc, some Marsanne, some Viognier, some Roussanne or Picpoul, but good versions share the same character: soft, luxurious textures that roll around in your mouth with enough acidity to keep them from feeling heavy or imbalanced. The flavors will range from peachy to honeyed to herbal, but the textures are consistent so they fit the criteria above. Outstanding versions of Costieres de Nîmes and Côtes de Rhône Blanc can be had for US$15 to $20. I’ve even had some great Picpoul for around $15 that has this same quality.


  • Châteauneuf-du-Pape will set you back at least $US40, but it’s well worth it, especially with halibut in butter herb sauce (the best pairing I’ve probably ever had!). You'll find similar wines from great producers in Priorat just south of Barcelona, Spain. These wines are often a better value than CdP and have a Grenache Blanc lead (and they are awesome with Spanish tapas!). You can get a great one for around $US25.


  • Northern Rhône wines are similar but they are more refined and much more expensive! Viognier from Condrieu is soft, and like a bouquet of flowers or bowl of peaches or apricots, and dry but decadent in texture. The white versions of Hermitage, Crozes-Hermitage and Saint-Joseph are made with Marsanne and Roussanne grapes and may be the fullest whites you'll find -- like eating a honey comb, but not sweet, with lots of earthy, waterfall/stream smells and flavors.


Before I go move from the Rhône to Southern Italy, I should point out that California does some great whites with Rhône grapes too. I’ve had some Viognier from Santa Barbara that’s full of fruit flavor but with a touch of acid -- great with food and delicious on its own. Our friends at Tablas Creek in Paso Robles make a few outstanding white Rhône blends in the Rhône style. And one of the tastiest Rhône wines I've had out of Lodi was a Picpoul by Acquiesce Winery -- full, rich, soft, but with enough acidity to keep it from sitting heavy in your mouth. All of these will run you more than $20, not a great value but tasty nonetheless!


And to complete our tour of cold weather whites, on to Southern Italy...

  • The two amazing grapes of Southern Italy -- Fiano and Greco -- make rich, full, soft whites. Another warm, Mediterranean climate, these wines share a lot in common from a texture standpoint with the wines of the southern Rhône, especially. The difference is the flavors. Fiano tastes like honey with tangerine, cardamom, and hazelnut notes and floral notes-- like being outside in a garden where the bees can't get enough of the white flowers (gardenia, jasmine -- that kind of stuff). Greco is soft, but the best version is Greco di Tufo from Campania, and it tastes like pears and almonds with a ton of mineral/chalk note and a good acidity. 


Don’t worry, as with all audio blogs, all this info is at Bookmark the post, make your shopping list, (maybe even get a black glass to fool your buddies) and drop a comment to let me know what you thought!

Jan 26, 2017
Ep 176: The Many Sides of Australian Shiraz with Simone Madden-Grey

Simone Madden-Grey, our Down Under co-host, talks about the flavors of Shiraz & how it can't be pigeon-holed into one profile or type of wine. A refreshing look at Australia from an inside view, you'll want to run out to producers she mentions!

Jan 17, 2017
Ep 175: Tuscany Overview with Filippo Bartolotta

We welcome our new Italy co-host, Filippo Bartolotta, a native Florentine, wine expert, writer, and travel company owner. This fabulous normal wine guy tells us about himself, about Italian wine culture, and about how to get the best out of Tuscan wine!


The Show Notes: 

1. Chianti is hard to recommend by appellation, the producer is more important ("heart and land").

Still, the best areas for Sangiovese are on the northern slopes. Areas between Florence and Siena like: Castelnuovo Berardenga, Castellina, Gaiole, Radda, Barberino Val d'Elsa, San Casciano are great. Colli Pisane, Colli Fiorentine, Colli Sienese have good wines as well. 


2. Classico is a safe bet for an old school Chianti with:

  • A light color
  • licorice
  • orange peel
  • violet
  • cherry
  • terroir! 


3. Chianti Classics a minimum of 80% Sangiovese but can be 100%. It includes native grapes like Colorino or Canaiolo, and Merlot, Cabernet, and Syrah in small proportions.


4. Classico also has a Riserva tier (aged a min of 24 months with a minimum of 12.5% alcohol to guarantee the fruit is ripe), and Gran Selezione (aged 30 months in barrel, 13% alcohol minimum). 

Example: Montevertine (especially Le Pergola Torte),  


5. We talk about how Super Tuscans raised the bar. We discuss Tiganello by Antinomy, Cepparello


6. The best producers pay attention to climate, clonal selection and tension between acidity, fruit and terroir. 


7. Great producers

In Montalcino:

Tenuta di Renieri


Tenuta Le Potazzine


Le Ragnaie

In San Gimignano (Vernaccia): 

Sono Montenidoli



Il Colombaio di Santa Chiara

La Lastra 

San Quirico

Il Lebbio


I know we promised a list of more Tuscan producers, but it's been hard to get a hold of those names since Filippo is the wineman to the stars : )

For now, we can use this list from an article he penned for Decanter a while back...  

Jan 06, 2017
Ep 174: Last minute gifts, holiday, and New Year's Eve wines

An end of year podcast to help you figure out stuff like: What wine to gift if you're on a budget, or not, what defines a "special" occasion, how to get the host to open the wine you bring, plus quick Christmas pairings & options for New Year's bubbles! 


Show notes:

  • Wine is an ideal last-minute gift -- don't get gadgets unless the person specifies they want them! 
    1. Ways to figure out what someone may want
    2. Budget and non-budget options


  • How to figure out how to make sure the wine you bring to a gathering gets opened and some other etiquette suggestions


  • Saving for a “special” occasion – notes on when an occasion is “special” enough 


  • Sparkling wines for NYE -- different options and ideas on drinking order


Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year! Thanks for your support in 2016! Here's to an even better 2017!



Dec 21, 2016
Audio blog 12: Bandol -- RED Wine from Provence

Sometimes I need a hearty, fruit filled, bone-warming wine to sip on. And when the weather is cool, that’s often all I’ll grab. But after I’ve downed big reds from warm places around the (mostly NEW) world with higher alcohol that will make me feel warm, I’m left wanting a little something with more complexity. Something that’s less fruity. A wine that seems hearty but has an element of surprise – maybe that hit of terroir or something that keeps on giving me something new with each sip. And that’s when I grab a Bandol (BAHN-dol), a Mourvèdre based red wine from Provence in Southern France.


Amidst the lavender, olives, soaps, and beautifully patterned fabrics oh, and rosé, there’s this small, high quality region.


If you know anything about wine in Provence than you probably associate it with rosé. And rightfully so: 80% of wine produced here is pink. The market demands it and Provence delivers, in spades. But there’s more than just those lovely salmon colored beauties here: 15% of the wine from Provence is red and it isn’t the refreshing, light partner of rosé. This is big, balls-out stuff mainly from three red wine areas: Cassis, Bellet, and Bandol, with the latter being the only one I’ve been able to find often in a wine shop in the US.


Bandol’s wines are mainly made from the very powerful, luscious Mourvèdre (moo-VED-rrr) grape. It’s a plummy, herbal, licorice-flavored, woodsy grape that’s rarely bottled alone because it is so powerful. Mourvèdre is so strong that it can’t be without oak aging to tame its tannins and in the bottle, wines made of it can age for 15 years and may still not be ready!


Growing in tight little bushes that can stand up to the heavy, ferocious gusts of cold wind that come from northern continental Europe (the Mistral) this tough, muscly grape produces a small amount of potent wine. And because of its power, the grape is mainly used in blends to add a kick to wines that otherwise may lack tannins and brawn (Mourvèdre is a big component in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, for example, and many Côtes du Rhône).


But when it’s the star of the show, it needs to be tempered so in Bandol, where wines contain a minimum of 50% Mourvèdre, but can be up to 100%, the grape is usually blended with Grenache and Cinsault, which soften up the bold, tannic, and kind of meaty flavors of the lead grape. Syrah can be used to add depth of flavor (black pepper and other types of herbal notes) and Carignan adds fruit and juiciness and softens the toughness of the Mourvèdre, which in addition to its strong flavor can be tannic and unforgiving. As an aside, if it’s listed, the percentage of Mourvèdre can be a tip off as to how long to hold it before you drink it – more Mourvèdre = more aging.



But let’s get off the grapes and onto the region, which I think needs a dork out moment of its own, since we HAVE TO give props to one of the oldest winemaking regions in France.


Winemaking started here about 2,600 years ago, most likely when the Phoenicians sailed from modern-day Lebanon and took over the area we now know as Provence. They saw great potential for one of their cash crops here (wine) and likely brought Monastrell from Spain (which is Mourvedre’s name in the Iberian Peninsula), where their Phoenician brethren had already been making wine for several centuries in a similar climate. 


When they arrived in the Gulf of Bandol, we can only guess that they were thrilled. They found the ideal place for vineyards: an area with a natural amphitheater created by mountains on three sides and easy access from the vineyards right out to the Gulf. Cha-ching! They could easily export their wine to far flung places and make cash without much transportation overhead (inland locales like Champagne or Burgundy required a trip down a river or over land— why waste the time when Bordeaux and Bandol were basically on the ocean?)


The Romans agreed with the Phoenician’s assessment of the wine quality and worked on painstakingly building stone terraces into the mountainside (which are called restanques and are still used today) and they further built the reputation of this small enclave.


Things trucked along for Bandol, with Louis XV being a famous fan, until the late 1800s when phylloxera hit and nearly all of the vineyards were destroyed.


But growers in this region weren’t giving up after that vine murderer came to town. The winegrowing areas were too good for that. They’d been extolled for millennia, not just for their warm coastal climates, elevation, and sun exposure but for the outstanding, diverse soils that yielded flavorful, bold but still nuanced wines. They used the phylloxera epidemic as a chance to reshape the vineyards and when they applied for their appellation in 1941, Bandol included an elite set of 8 communes that lie exclusively on hillsides and have limestone rich, low fertility, well-drained soils, creating the best wines. In addition, they went back to basics and replanted with a lot of Mourvedre – the grape that had fared best here, probably since the time of the Phoenicians.


Although you’ll find differences in the wines – depending on the exact terroir, the blend used, and the vintage, one thing is true of Bandol – I’ve never had a stinker. The wines always seem to be earthy, herbal, spicy, rich, and tannic and have a sense of place. They frequently taste like tobacco, licorice, and black fruit and some can verge on rustic, with a dusty note. Regardless or nuance, the producers have a dedication to quality in this small area and take the responsibility seriously.


Bandol is a little pricey – you won’t find one for much less than $25 US. But you get what you pay so if you have a few extra bucks, grab a bottle of Bandol and give it a go. Have food with it – something hearty and rich. You’ll find a new favorite rich red wine that’s unlike anything else you’ve tried.


And don’t forget to report back on this blog post and let me know what you think:

Dec 14, 2016
Ep 173: Pfalz -- The German Region for Dry Wine Lovers

Pfalz is the region for you if you have the question: How do I get into German wine If I hate sweet stuff?


  • Pfalz is an important region in terms of quantity and quality. It's one of the most promising German wine regions for Riesling and Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir)
  • In Western Germany, Between Rhine and lower lying Haardt mountains – continuation of Vosges, just south is Alsace
    • Warmer climate
      • Summers are dry, not too hot, winters mild. almost Mediterranean in some sections (almonds grow here)
      • Excellent viticultural conditions


  • Pfalz is from the Latin for for palace and it's named for Palatine Counts of the Holy Roman Empire, who held court in the nearby city of Heidelberg from the 13th to the 18th century.
  • Traces of winemaking from 550 BC.
  • The region languished for a while after Romans left, viticulture was not a priority for a long time.
  • German wine route created in 1935 and is an easy path for tourists, great for Pfalz wine (Deutsche Weinstrasse) -- has helped with revival in modern times


  • Pfalz is one of the most innovative regions in Germany – young winemakers, less expensive land


  • 60% white, 40% red
    • Riesling 25%
    • Dornfelder 14%
    • Muller-Thurgau 10%
    • Blauer Portugieser 9%
    • Spatburgunder 7%
  • Mittelhaardt – top Rieslings, South – increasing plantings of Riesling but also Spatburgunder, Portugieser, Dornfelder
  • Different from many German regions –
    • Dry wines, not sweet
    • Fuller bodied
    • Reds – can reach 13% alcohol (rare in Germany)

Pfalz is the place dry wine lovers should try first in Germany! So go explore! 

Dec 06, 2016
Ep 172: The One Wine Thanksgiving Solution

Thanksgiving is a meal with so much complexity that you may just want to think about streamlining your wine choices. We offer a "one wine" solution -- versatile choices that go with everything -- so you don't have to stress! Here's the shortlist that we mention:



Off-dry Vouvray and off-dry Riesling

Premier Cru Chablis

Alsace whites -- especially Riesling, Muscat, and Gewurztraminer

Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc or Priorat Blanc

Italian whites

Bubbles! American Sparkling or Prosecco are fruitier and may be best





Especially New World rosé that can stand up to the multitude of flavors

Bubbly rosé is a great pick too




Caveat Emptor, since red is less versatile for Thanksgiving. Pick something low in alcohol, low in tannin, and moderate in acidity

Top picks: Beaujolais, Cabernet Franc



We also welcome our first sponsor -- HelloFresh! HelloFresh is a meal kit delivery service that makes cooking fun and easy. Each week they create awesome recipes with step-by-step instructions that take about 30 minutes to cook. They give you all the ingredients in an awesome package with exact quantities you need. All the food is nutritionally balanced and it is darn tasty, as we will attest in the podcast.


If you want to try this amazing, easy service, you get $35 off when you enter the promo code WINE! Trust us, you won't regret it! We are hooked after trying some of their tasty meals that got us out of our cooking rut. 

Nov 17, 2016
Audio blog 11: Beaujolais Cru

Every year on the third Thursday in November at midnight, Beaujolais Nouveau hits store shelves, cafés, and restaurants around the world and (a declining number) of people rush out to get this invention of marketing genius.


The celebration of this hastily made wine, for which grapes are picked and then processed in a scant few weeks before you drink it (as opposed to quality wine which is made over several months, if not years) is the creation of producer/negociant Georges Duboeuf. This guy took the Old World idea of festivals that celebrated new/young wine —  wine made from grapes fresh off the vines — and put a marketing machine behind it to get the world to support Beaujolais Nouveau.


The problem: young wine is best when it’s fresh and sipped at the winery. When it travels overseas and is stored for a month the wine is terrible. But even then, I bet if we tasted it fresh, Beaujolais Nouveau tastes like bananas, bubble gum, and pear candy, with little acid or tannin. Apart from color, it has more in common with a white than a red. It’s fun, but it doesn’t taste that great and as we’ve become more sophisticated in our wine drinking, Beaujolais Nouveau has become less exciting to most people. 


Sadly this increasing sophistication has had terrible repercussions in the region of Beaujolais — forcing some growers out of business and creating tensions among those who depended on this product for their livelihoods. So the question for Beaujolais is: Now that Beaujolais Nouveau is on the rocks, what else is there?


Enter higher quality Beaujolais. This is the stuff wine people go nuts over but that few others know about: the 10 Beaujolais Crus that make distinctive, floral, fresh wine from the Gamay grape. Just south of Burgundy and north of Rhône, on a swath of granite, which is Gamay’s preferred soil, are scattered areas that make outstanding wine. From north to south these are: Saint-Amour, Juliénas, Chénas, Moulin-à-Vent, Fleurie, Chiroubles, Morgon, Régnié, Côte de Brouilly, and Brouilly.


The wines produced in these Cru run the gamut — from floral and fruity to rich, earthy, and complex. Here’s a quick grouping of each type: 


  • Lighter bodied, more floral, less age worthy: Chiroubles 
  • Medium bodied, fruity with mineral notes:Brouilly, Côte de Brouilly, Fleurie, Régnié, Saint-Amour
  • Fuller bodied, spicy, earthy: Chénas, Juliénas
  • Even fuller and more age-worthy, spicy, and like a cross between Pinot Noir and more floral Gamay: Morgon, Moulin-à-Vent


Most of these wines are incredibly well priced for what they are — around US $20 or less — and they taste like nothing else you’ve ever tried. I don’t know of other wines that can boast flavors of iris flowers, violets, or lily of the valley and also have raspberry, earth, and spice notes. The combination of freshness and structure — most Cru have excellent acidity but also a round, soft texture — make these wines like nothing else you’ve ever had. 


So clearly, I love the stuff. Go get yourself one from an area I just mentioned that sounds best to you and report back on the blog: and we’ll compare notes.

Nov 16, 2016
Ep 171: Ian Renwick, Indie Wine Shop Owner

Ian returns as a co-host, talking about his latest venture -- starting an independent wine shop. We discuss the work that goes into this process, what you should look for in a indie shop, & economics of bottle pricing. Fascinating behind the scenes look!


Visit his site to see his selection and, if you're in the UK, to get the free shipping he's offering to WFNP listeners!! 

Nov 09, 2016
Bonus: An Ode to Halloween Candy Pairing

A poem...because Halloween is our favorite holiday!


An Ode To Halloween Candy Pairing…


Halloween was fun, now it’s day of the dead

So don’t make a mistake that will mess with your head

Although some have an empty bowl where once there were sweets

Most of us have tons of left over treats


Whether you’re stealing from your kids or eating from the work trough

We’re here to make sure your wine doesn’t taste off


Because although some wine people recommend Cab

Malbec, Pinot Noir, and Syrah in their gab

We’ll remind you once more as we did in a podcast

That you should reconsider before you reach for a glass

Dry wine is nasty with Halloween candy

Regardless of your palate, it just doesn’t taste dandy

Bitter and gross with a hollow taste,

With delicious candy, it’s such a waste


Better for you is wine that is sweet:

Port, Muscat, Late Harvest anything you really can’t beat

Ruby Port with Snickers? Late Harvest Zin with Kit Kat?

We’ve told you a hundred times, this pairing is where it’s at

Sweet Sherry or sweet Vin Santo is nice

For Starburst and Skittles don’t think twice

Although I’d save the Sauternes and Tokay

With the sweetness of the candy, you could give it a try!


We know that sweet wine may not be in your cellar

But a wine sweeter than the dessert transforms things like Cinderella

So grab a sweet wine, invite some friends by

Choose some of these pairings, just give it a try


‘Cause Halloween comes just once a year

And this volume of candy will soon disappear

Don’t mess it up with a crappy pairing

That will leave you drunk and have you swearing.

Trust us on this one, we’re not trying to be beat

For candy, Post-Halloween, you better go sweet!



Nov 01, 2016
Ep 170: Isabelle Legeron, Leader of the Natural Wine Movement

What is natural wine, exactly? Isabelle Legeron, Master of Wine and leader of the natural wine  movement & founder of the RAW Wine Natural Wine Festival explains it in great detail & talks about why it's so important for us to consider drinking natural.

Oct 25, 2016
Audio blog 10: Organic and Biodynamic Wine

There is a lot of buzz about organic and biodynamic farming but what is it? Why does it matter? Does it make sense? You judge after hearing this explanation of both practices. 


For the transcript and details, go to

Oct 19, 2016
Ep 169: Priorat, Spain

A small production area of Spain, Priorat is one of only two DOCa (highest quality) regions of the country. These wines are expensive, but for good reason - they're in short supply & are outstanding.

We tell you how to get the best of the best of Priorat!


Go to for more detailed show notes.

Oct 16, 2016
Audioblog 9: Garnacha Tinta/Red Grenache

Garnacha, or Grenache is known by many but appreciated on its own by few. This time I talk about the grape and where to get the best of it. For the transcript and more detail please go to

Oct 07, 2016
Ep 168: Campania, Italy

In the shin of Italy's boot, Campania is the province south of Rome. The area encompasses Capri, the Amalfi Coast, Pompeii and some of the most unique, tastiest wines in the world. Want to know what regions and grapes are up and coming? Look no further.

Sep 26, 2016
Audio blog 8: In Defense of the French AOC System

The EU classification of wine, based on the French Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée system, is a complex system that designates and controls names of wine, and I think it's great, despite what others would say...


For the transcript and more detail please go to

Sep 16, 2016
Audio blog 7: Verdejo from Rueda, Spain

Verdejo from Rueda, Spain: An Original


I love wines from Spain. For many reasons. They’re often inexpensive yet high quality. When they’re good, they’re fresh, layered, and delicious. And maybe best of all, they’re originals – you don’t see every country growing Spanish grapes. These are one of a kind.



The reds are fabulous and what the country is best known for, but the whites are compelling and outstanding too. Albariño from Rias Baixas and the rare white blends of Priorat are particular standouts, but maybe the best white grape of all is Verdejo, a full, creamy, pear and herbal tasting wine with nut and honey notes and enough acid to keep it fresh and lively.  This grape -- possibly native to this area, possibly brought by predecessors of the Moors from North Africa --has settled in well and Rueda, located on a 2,300 foot high plain just northeast of Madrid, is where it shines.



In this dry, boring looking plain of north-central Spain, soils are rocky and well-drained. The vines struggle and if they weren’t so drought resistant they wouldn’t survive. Rueda’s climate is like that of any mid-western area — continental with hot summers and cold winters. The day to night temperature swings (diurnals) are extreme, and that means that the grapes can gather acidity in the cool nights to offset the ripeness they get from sitting in the hot sun all day.



Given the location, weather is erratic. Storms whipping over the Iberian peninsula smack the area and frost, wind, hail, and any number of other natural maladies can maim or kill the crops unexpectedly. And one of those maladies, the killer of all European grapevines in the late 1800s through the early 1900s, the phylloxera root bug, kicked the area in the teeth and put Verdejo at risk of falling into obscurity, if not extinction.



After ripping through the area and killing 2/3 of the vines, growers replanted on American grapevine roots (which are resistant to phylloxera, can anchor the plant, and can take a graft from a different grape species with no noticeable flavor difference). But they picked grapes that produced quantity over quality, and Verdejo, a slower grower, got bumped by Sauvignon Blanc and Viura (also used in Cava and white Rioja).  Most of the stuff produced from 1922 through the 1970s was Sherry-like wine of variable quality often sold in bulk.



Help came from an unlikely source in the 1970s: Marquis de Riscal, a Rioja producer, who decided to bring Verdejo into the spotlight and make dry whites from the grape. The Bodega’s dedication to reviving the grape transformed it. Part of the problem for Verdejo-based wines was that they did seem to oxidize (turn into that sherry-like concoction) quickly. With investment and research, Riscal and other producers found that night harvest, cooler fermentations, and a good dose of sulfur dioxide helps preserve the aromas and freshness of the wines and makes them shine.


My opinion: Good call!


Named for the green color of its berries (verde), Verdejo is the 5th most planted white grape in Spain and is popular in its mother country. And it’s clear why: The grape is unlike any other. It’s aromatic with its citrus notes and usually a distinctive earthy, underbrush/shrubby smell. It tastes like bay leaves, almonds, and has a slight bitterness and great mouth-cleansing acidity. Despite its crispness, wines of Verdejo have a full, smooth, silky texture that I love. It’s a complex, food friendly white -- great with everything from sheep’s milk cheese to pasta or fish in lemon or lemon cream sauces. The grape’s acidity makes it refreshing for warm weather but the full nature of the wine makes it a great fall and winter white too.


Through this praise of the grape, I’ve failed to mention one of the coolest things about Verdejo: you can get great stuff for around US $15. That said, not all Rueda or Verdejo is created equal so let me give you some tips for buying before I sign off.


  • Wines labeled “Rueda” are only required to be 50% Verdejo — the rest is normally Sauvignon Blanc and Viura, a grape usually used for blending in white Rioja and in Cava, as I already mentioned.


  • Wines labeled “Rueda Verdejo” or Rueda Superior are required to be 85% Verdejo, but many are 100% and usually indicate so on the bottle. Rueda Verdejo are the best wines, in my opinion. Look before you buy – the label will usually indicate if the wine is 100% Verdejo and that’s what you need to seek out.


Have you had Rueda Verdejo? What do you think? Please go to and drop a comment and get a full transcript of this audio blog.

Sep 09, 2016
Ep 167: Champagne -- The Region

This time we address the fascinating terroir, land, climate, and history of Champagne. This is the less-told story of the region, not the one about how the wine is made or the different types you can buy. We hope to show Champagne in a different light.

*NOTE: We don't discuss the still wine areas of Champagne, Coteaux Champenois and Rosé de Riceys because they are made such limited quantities and are very hard to find. 

What is Champagne?

  • Sparkling wine exclusively produced from grapes grown, harvested and made into wine within the Champagne delimited region, in France.

Location, climate, terroir

  • Northern location – Reims at 49.5 and Epernay around 49˚N (US—Canada border)
  • LANDSCAPE:Sloping vineyards good for drainage and intensity of sun exposure
    • Cool: average temps of 66˚F/18˚C during growing season – grapes can’t fully ripen (acidic, lower sugar good for Champagne making)
    • Wet, frost risk, low sunlight hours
  • SOIL: Limestone subsoil – mainly chalk, marl, limestone
  • GRAPES: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier
    • Pinot Noir: palate weight and dark berry aromas.
    • Pinot Meunier: acidity, fruitiness. less susceptible to rot
    • Chardonnay - creamy roundness, floral aromas
    • Also permitted, rarely used: Pinot blanc, Pinot Gris, Petit Meslier, Arbane
    • 84,000 acres/34,000 ha of vineyard
    • 150 KM/95 miles east of Paris
    • 320 villages, five main growing areas:
      • Cote des Blancs– and particularly the Cote de Sezanne – are where the finest Chardonnay sites are found, outcrop of chalk.
      • Montagne de Reims (chalk) and the Vallee de la Marne (Marl, sand or clay) are ideally suited to Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.
      • Aube: Pinot Meunier





  • Egyptians and Romans and the hatred of bubbles
  • Champagne's rise to fame: 987, Hugh Capet was crowned King of France at the cathedral Reims. Association of the region with royalty
  • Quality of the wine in the Middle Ages: light red, pale pink or grey, and attempt to use elderberry to darken them
  • Dom Perignon and his REAL contribution to Champagne (hint: he neither liked bubbles nor any other grape apart from Pinot Noir), AKA -- why he rolls over in his grave whenever anyone pops open a bottle of Dom...
  • How the English invented modern Champagne in the mid 1600s.
  • The business of Champagne as it rose in the 1800s, including the story of the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars
  • The contributions of Veuve Clicquot—Barbe-Nicole Ponsardin with riddling and dosage (sweetness)
  • The Champagne Riots
  • World Wars


Interesting Champagne Facts

  • Chilling Champagne in the freezer will dumb down the aromas. Chill in an ice bath for 15-20 minutes or refrigerate 3-4 hours before serving
  • Younger wine is better colder (8˚ C/46˚F). Older wine is better a little warmer (10˚C /50˚F)
  • The shape and condition of the cork indicates how long the wine has spent in the bottle.
    • Trapezoid shape: young, newly bottled and the cork is still elastic.
    • Tapers at the bottom: cork has been in there longer, older wine.
  • Bubbles: Fizz dies with time
Aug 31, 2016
Audio blog 6: What Exactly IS Côtes-du-Rhône?

I know you were wondering...“What is Côtes-du-Rhône? What's in it? Where is it from?" I've got you covered!  


For the transcript and details, go to

Aug 25, 2016
Audio Blog 5: The Difference Between Cheap and Expensive Wine

Every so often I get a question about the difference between cheap wine and better wine: “What’s the real difference? Why spend $25 when I can spend $2.50? Seriously, it’s just fermented grapes. Isn’t it all the same?”

No. And despite the articles and taste tests of experts where the $2 wine wins a blind tasting, there is a difference between crap wine and good stuff. Let’s remember that those tests are in pressured environments, with artificial conditions (peer pressure, no food around so European wines lose every time).

I’m telling you, even if you don’t know how expensive a wine is, when you taste something that is well made, there’s a big difference between that and plonk.

I’m totally willing to buy that, like everything in wine, tasting quality is something you figure out as you learn more about wine. You may be at a place now where you can’t taste the difference. It will come with time and more tasting. 

Regardless of what you can or can’t taste, there are some serious, concrete differences between mass produced wine and wine that may be of interest. These are farming, winemaking, and flavor factors that distinguish wines from each other in both quality and price. So even if you can’t taste the difference today, maybe this will at least provide an explanation of the price difference between good wine and cheap wine and give you an appreciation of why some wineries charge more for their wine.

There are three main factors:

  1. Since all great wine starts in the vineyard, the best vineyard sites are prized, limited and the grapes from there cost more.

Let’s take wine out of the equation for a second. Let’s bring this to tomatoes.

Ever been to a local farmer’s market? There are usually multiple people selling tomatoes. One week you buy tomatoes from a farmer whose wares look awesome and whose tomatoes are half the price of the vendor next to her. But when you slice the tomatoes open and taste them, they are acidic and too earthy for your liking. They lack sweetness and aren’t so juicy. So when you go back you spring for the more expensive ones. It ticked you off a little to have to pay double for a tomato, but you decide to do it anyway. When you cut open that tomato and taste it, the heavens open and angels sing. This is the best tomato you’ve ever eaten. You would pay 4 times the price of the other tomato for this experience.

What’s going on here? It’s the effect of terrior and the brilliance of the farmer in picking the right fruit for the right place on her farm. Growing on the right spot, the tomatoes are heavenly. Growing on a less good spot, they suck. Grapes are the same way. So expect higher quality, better fruit to go into expensive wine.

If someone grows grapes on crappy sites where grapes don’t gain maximum flavor and structure, the resulting wine is going to suck. If they grow it in a place with the right sun exposure, soil type, drainage, and slope, you get unbelievable grapes. And you can’t have great wine without great grapes. Period. So some of the expense of better wine is from the cost of growing on coveted, often hard to farm sites that make kick ass grapes.


2. Winemaking has another huge effect. If you don’t know what you’re doing and don’t use the right equipment (the right kind of barrels, the right type of maceration, fermentation) the wine isn’t going to be as good.

Never is this more clear than when you’re touring around a wine region trying the wines. The wines of the area are from similar vineyards and sometimes from the exact same ones, but in the hands of different winemakers they taste completely different. The winemaker’s decisions can make or break a wine.

So even if you’ve done a great job in the vineyard and you have beautiful grapes that have outstanding potential, you’re by no means done — it can still all go to pot. Trust me, I’ve seen this happen. In the hands of an overzealous, tech-loving winemaker, beautiful grapes can transform into a wine that tastes like a mouthful of vanilla and butter with no hint of the natural goodness that came from the land.

Top wines have balance between acid, tannin, alcohol, and sugar (or lack thereof) and they are either reminiscent of fruit or of the land in which they grew. They aren’t oak bombs. They don’t taste like butter (although they can have the texture of velvet). They aren’t high alcohol without a balance of tannin or acid. A skilled winemaker understands the grapes s/he has to work with and uses techniques to highlight the deliciousness of the grapes, not to transform the wine into something completely different from the grapes they worked so hard to grow.

Are barrels expensive? Good ones are. Is storing wine and allowing it to mature expensive? HELL YES! I’m a business dork, so I always think about inventory holding costs — not cheap. Do you sometimes have to painstakingly make a bunch of different lots form different areas of the vineyard and then blend them? If you want good wine, you may.

When you pay for good wine, you’re paying for the great judgement of the winemaker.


3. Ultimately the taste, aroma, and texture of the wine are dead giveaways that you have something special.

If you read the blog or listen to the podcast, you know that I’m quick to call BS on stuff in the wine industry that I think is ridiculous. But I promise you that as you have the opportunity to taste better wine, you will taste the differences between cheap and expensive glasses. The velvety feeling of high quality Pinot Noir, with just the right balance of fruit, acid, and light tannin. The ripe fruit flavors combined with a spicy earth and bright acidity of a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. The bacon, black pepper, and black plum notes against the bright acid and noticeable but not too rough tannin of a Northern Rhône Syrah.  These experiences stand apart from the less expensive wines that are just fine, but not memorable.

The more you drink the more you realize that there is a taste difference. I’ve watched the faces of friends light up when they taste a truly great wine versus the stuff they usually drink and it’s a different animal — they get it. I remember my own experiences of tasting fine wines for the first time and knowing that there was a big difference between what’s possible and what I normally drink on a nightly basis.

You have to know what to look for, but when you do, drinking great wine (on special occasions, because what normal person can afford to every night?) is so rewarding and such a wonderful treat.

What do you think? Agree? Disagree that there’s a difference? Write a comment and let me know!!!

Aug 20, 2016
Ep 166: Our List of the Most Underrated Wines

The list of wines that are underrated, overlooked, and great values! Some are mainstream, some less so but all fabulous. From Syrah to Chenin Blanc to Sherry and many in between, this should give you some great ideas of what to buy! 


And here's the list!



  1. Dessert wines of any type:
    • Vintage Port, Ruby or Tawny Port, Muscat de Rivesaltes, Banyuls (red), stickies from Australia, sweet Riesling from Germany, Tokaji from Hungary -- all enormous values!
  1. Chenin Blanc: Aromatic, complex, high in acid, great off dry or dry.
    • Vouvray, Saviennieres, and some South African Chenins are outstanding. Napa's Chappellet and Long Island's Paumaunok make great US versions.
  1. Blaüfrankisch (Austria)/Lemberger (Germany): Spicy with black pepper and cinnamon, it makes your mouth feel alive. Medium bodied, cherry-like, interesting, not the same old same old.
  1. GERMAN and ALSACE Riesling and all Alsace whites: Well priced versions for under $20 - $25. Thierry Thiese is always a winning importer in the US.
    • German Riesling: Range of wines for range of cuisines – off dry, dry, semi-sweet – great with spice, great with cheese, great with fish (fuller styles). Dimension, -- floral to citrusy, peachy to minerally, petrol (gasoline) to fruit-bowl like always balanced with acidity
    • ALSACE whites: No secret that I love them. Soft, full, flavorful, great with food. Riesling, Gewurz, Pinot Gris, Muscat – all have an unctuous quality.
  1. Portuguese reds
    • Reds from Douro or Dão: Touriga Nacional is the main grape, they contain the grapes of Port but are dry. Complex, dark and red fruit, earthy, range from medium to full. Versatile and usually CHEAP!
    • Bairrada (Baga):  is amazing when made well and becoming more available.

An honorable mention for the Mencía grape from Bierzo, which is amazing and usually underpriced

  1. White Bordeaux
    • Best are Semillon majority with Sauv Blanc and Muscadelle. Look for top wines from Graves or Pessac-Leognan.
  1. Loire Cabernet Franc
    1. Medium bodied, earthy, tea-like, with red and black fruit. Acidic. Lots of dimension and real depth – even though it’s lighter in style.
    2. Chinon, Bourgueil, Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil, Touraine are top areas (not mentioned but also one to check out: Saumur-Champigny. It can be overpriced but good versions are pleasant)

Another honorable mention: Loire Muscadet, from a single vineyard or great producer is less than $20 and can be floral with a bready quality (when the bottle says sur lie) and when from a great producer.


  1. Syrah: Full, spicy, rich, peppery, perfumed, herbal, lavender, savory
    • Northern Rhône, South Africa, Central Coast, Washington State, Australia (Shiraz)
  1. Langhe Nebbiolo: Earthy, tar and roses, can be acidic and tannic, lots of gravitas in the right hands and great with food. 
    • No one knows WTF it is but it can be like a baby Barbaresco or Barolo. Its unpopular because people are unaware of it. Very well priced.
  1. Sherry: A perfect aperitif, underpriced for what it is. Another one to surprise guests with – the nutty factor of an Amontillado will win friends and influence people 
    1. The range is incredible (this is just a sample of the types available -- there are many more!)
      1. Fino: dry and like olives and almonds
      2. Manzanilla: Nutty and salty -- like a richer Fino
      3. Amontillado: Aged 8+ years, almond and walnut character. Rich, dry
      4. Oloroso: Oxidized, richer, complex, like alcohol infused walnuts, dry.
      5. PX/Pedro Ximenez: sweet, raisined, nutty, full, and amazing on top of vanilla ice cream.


What do you think? Do you like the list? Have you had any of these? Will you try any? Drop a comment and let us know!

Aug 15, 2016
Audio Blog #4: Txakolina, A Basque Wine You Should Know About

Txakolina, also called Txakoli (CHOCK-oh-lee) is an acidic, saline, and floral white from the autonomous Basque region between Spain and France. It's a delicious summer wine that you need to get your hands on and I tell you why.


For the transcript and details, go to



Aug 11, 2016
Audio Blog #3: Geekin' on Greece

Greece has a long, long history of winemaking, but it's not as popular as some other regions. I explain my theory of why and then talk about grapes to explore.


For the transcript and details, go to

Aug 05, 2016
Ep 165: What Brexit Means for Wine with Jane Anson

Jane Anson, brilliant contributing editor and Bordeaux correspondent for Decanter Magazine (and nominee for Louis Roederer's 2016 Feature's writer and online communicator of the year) returns! She and I take on geopolitics and wine!  If you're confused about why Brexit is such a big deal for Europe and the UK,  listen to this podcast.

We explain the politics of this unprecedented move and how it could affect the global landscape for wine. A must listen if you want to get up to speed on this important issue! 

Here are the notes. We discuss...

1. What exactly IS Brexit?
2. What do we know so far about how it is affecting the market for wine? 
3. Why this matters for European wine now and in the future in UK, in the US and in other New World places
4. What are likely outcomes for the UK and the global wine market?
5. Jane's personal perspective and what she thinks is going to happen
The link to her piece from Decanter that prompted this podcast:
Aug 03, 2016
Audio Blog 2: The Problem with US Shipping Law

This time I take up the issue of wine shipping and U.S. wine law in all its convoluted messiness. For the full transcript and details on Free the Grapes, go to



Jul 28, 2016
Ep 164: Yarra Valley of Australia with Simone Madden-Grey

Introducing Simone Madden-Grey, our new "down under" correspondent, who will be helping us explore the world of wines from Australia and New Zealand. After meeting her and learning of her fascinating background we discuss the Yarra Valley, an excellent cool climate region of Australia. 

Simone's Web site, Happy Wine Woman: 

And a link to her blog, where she discusses her favorites from Yarra:

What did we discuss in this episode?:

1. An introduction: Who is Simone? Our new correspondent for Australia and New Zealand and founder of Happy Wine Woman services/writing


2. What is going on in Australia at large? An overview and discussion


3. What is the Yarra Valley and why did we choose to do the first podcast on it?

  • We discuss the high wine quality, its differentiation from traditional Australian styles, and the importance of it in the revival of Australia’s global image

4. What is Yarra? Overview

  • 1 hour from Melbourne
  • Some historical details
  • The reputation as a large, diverse area with many wine styles, although known mostly for restrained Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, along w sparkling 
  • 37˚ S latitude -- same as Mendoza in Argentina, southern Bio Bio in Chile. 37˚N -- Santa Cruz, CA, Virginia, Sicily, Peloponnese
  • Coolest part of mainland Australia  
  • Diversity: Valley Floor v Upper Yarra, Mediterranean v continental climate, rainfall levels

5. Grapes/Wine:

  • Chard and Pinot 60% of production, but Cabernet and Shiraz big players too.
  • Simone tells us what to expect from these wines from a flavor perspective. 


Here's Simone's full list of Yarra Valley wineries:


Yering Station

Yarra Yering

Giant Steps

Innocent Bystander

Domaine Chandon

Out of Step



Payten and Jones


Warramate Wines

De Bortoli

Jul 26, 2016
Audio Blog 1: Carmenère, The Best Grape Story Ever Told

This is the first of our new weekly audio blog series: short, informative readings of blog posts from


To kick it off, Carmenère, a grape with the most dramatic backstory in the wine world! 


Find the full transcript here:…-story-ever-told/

Jul 20, 2016
Ep 163: Getting to Know White Wines

White wines often get dismissed as being less complex than reds but that's hardly the case. In this episode we review aromatic v non aromatic whites and how to navigate whites to find styles & grapes that will give you a new appreciation for these wines.

Specifically we talk about:

  • Aromatic wines -- what aromas they exhibit, regions you'll most likely find them and how they are made. 
  • We talk about the merits of aromatic v non aromatic wines
  • We discuss aromatic grapes: Albariño, Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Muscat, Torrontés, Viognier, Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Fiano and more

A good primer on whites and their breadth and depth! 

Jul 14, 2016
Ep 162: Jason Haas of Tablas Creek in Paso Robles, CA

Jason Haas was the 2015 Paso Robles Wine Industry Person of the Year. As the GM and a partner in the Tablas Creek joint venture with the Perrin family of Rhône fame (Château de Beaucastel is one of the most famed properties in Châteauneuf du Pape and the family own several other ventures through out Rhône and Provence), Jason has had an enormous impact on the Paso Robles region and the wine style there. In addition, he is one of the most talented writers in the industry  – his Tablas Creek blog has won multiple Wine Blog Awards and is up for another one in 2016.


This conversation was a culmination of years of admiration from afar -- I am a huge fan of the Tablas Creek wines and style. Here are some notes from the show:  

  • First we talk about the history of Tablas Creek and how the partnership between the Haas and Perrin families happened.


  • We talk about the factors involved in finding a perfect site for the project – soil types, microclimates, altitudes, etc. and the process they went through to find it.


  • We discuss the process Tablas Creek went through to import the vines from Beaucastel.  


  • We cover how and when Jason got involved with Tablas Creek and his hand in carving up Paso Robles into 11 appellations which happened in 2015. 


  • We answer the questions: what did and does make Tablas Creek’s vineyards so unique? and... It is possible anywhere with the right people and the right winemaking and growing, or is this a characteristic unique to certain sites that not all people are cognizant of in CA winemaking?


  • We discuss farming: organics, biodynamics, and dry farming and why Tablas Creek uses all three.


  • We talk about blends, and about the various tiers of Tablas Creek wine and how Jason and his team benchmark his brands against California and Rhône wines, and how they usually stack up.


A great conversation with a California legend in the making! This is a fascinating look at an up-and-coming area of California, and it's star player. 


Jun 30, 2016
Ep 161: What's That Floating In Your Wine?

One of the most common questions I get is about random stuff floating in wine and what to do with it. In this episode we cover it all -- wine diamonds, sediment, spritz, clouds, and cork -- and explain what they are and what to do when you encounter them!

Jun 22, 2016
Ep 160: The Rosé Story with Ian Renwick

You want to know more about rosé? Ian Renwick, our regular contributor from the Luberon on the border of Rhone and Provence with Domaine de la Citadelle has been studying the ins and outs of rosé for years now. As his apprenticeship comes to a close, his "dissertation" is all about rosé and he shares much of what he knows. 


Here are the show notes. We discuss...

  • The history of rosé and overcoming the bad reputation of pink
  • Rosé's new found Popularity -- Brangelina, seasonality, and trendiness
  • How to make rose -- first how to make red and white, then the challenges of rosé
    • What grapes go into rose and why a lot of rose is crap
    • What people SHOULD do to make great rose -- DORK OUT
    • Why rose is the "most technological of wine" -- and whether or not it's drink making or wine making (my new favorite question)
    • The importance of maintaining aromatics in rose
  • Color differences, flavor differences and what to look for when shopping (hint, why color should NOT be a factor)
  • The question of age..
  • Food and wine pairing ideas
And then we end of the rosé rant! 
An excellent podcast that will give you new appreciation for rosé.
Jun 07, 2016
Ep 159: Similarities between Coffee & Wine with Victrola Coffee

A fascinating convo with podcast listener and coffee guru Kendon Shaw of Victrola Coffee in Seattle ( . We talk about the similarities between the two -- from an agricultural, business, and enjoyment standpoint -- and how coffee is evolving to become more like wine. Thanks to Kendon and Victrola -- a fascinating look inside the coffee business and a beverage that many of us take for granted, but probably shouldn't.


Kendon offers a coupon code:

Free shipping with this code: normalwine

Valid through 4/17/2017



May 29, 2016
Ep 158: Did I drink wine when I was pregnant? Our story

We go out on a limb this week, sharing a personal story on a  controversial topic. But after years of questions from moms and dads to be, it's finally time. 


Rarely do women in the wine industry discuss their relationship to alcohol when they're pregnant and the decisions they make about drinking while nursing. But just because it's not discussed widely, doesn't mean it's not on people's minds. This one's for you, moms and dads. It's not advice (I'm no expert or doctor) nor is it meant to persuade you to do anything. It's just our story of what we did and the how and why behind it because someone needs to say it. 


So at the risk of everyone thinking I'm a terrible person, I admit that I did, in fact, drink in moderation during pregnancy. I talk about why I made the decision I did and what moderation actually meant to me (I actually tell you what I did in each trimester), M.C. Ice discusses his thoughts on it, and then we debate a bit. 


Hope this helpful to some of you, and doesn't alienate others! 


May 20, 2016
Ep 157: Climate Change and UK Wine with Alistair Nesbitt

Alistair Nesbitt, Ph.D candidate at the Univ of E Anglia, UK discusses his work on climate change & how it affects viticulture & the wine biz. We talk about his fascinating paper: "Climate change drives UK wine production but not without weather shocks". 

Apr 23, 2016
Ep 156: Wine of Ancient Rome

First we hit on the Background on Roman Empire

  • The Roman Empire lasted from around 753 BC until 476 AD and encompassed most of Europe
  • The impact was far, wide, long lasting – Romans started the industry all over Europe AND they discovered winemaking practices that are still around today

Expansion of Wine

  • We discuss the Greeks and how they got the ball rolling with viticulture in Italy
  • Then we go over the conquest of Europe by the Romans vis a vis wine – from the Punic Wars and Carthage on. Spain, Gaul (France), Germany, and Britain


Golden Age of Wine

  • We talk about the Golden Age of wine in Rome in the 2nd century BC
  • We discuss the medicinal, social, and religious roles of wine -- including how it was used by wealthy people to show their friends how rich they were
  • The transformation of wine into a daily necessity where everyone from the rich to slaves drank it


Viticulture in the Roman era

  • The concept of terroir is not new – writers from Pliny to Columella discussed the relationship between the land and the vineyard – soil type, slope, proximity to water were all important to viticulture
  • Winemaking wasn’t so different from how it is today – the importance of how you press grapes, sur lie aging, the process of making sweet wine, and storage and aging were cited by writers
  • Romans differentiated between vineyards and had famed wines: we talk Falernian, Alban, Caecuban and more
  • We discuss the importance of place name v grape type and how the tradition continues

All in all, a dork-fest of an episode, but a very fun one indeed!

In Vino Veritas!

Mar 29, 2016
Ep 155: Jane Anson of Decanter Magazine

In this episode I have a fangirl moment with Jane Anson, one of the top wine writers in the world. She's the contributing editor and Bordeaux correspondent for Decanter Magazine,, and, among other publications, and author of the book "Bordeaux Legends," the story of the Premier Cru of Bordeaux.

In the show we talk about:

1. Jane's background, how she traveled the world and how she wound up as a journalist for one of the foremost wine magazines in the world.

2. The future of wine media

3. Jane's book "Bordeaux Legends" and her other books 

4. Bordeaux -- her impressions of the region, its classification systems and the state of affairs on the left and right banks.

5. We wrap with a discussion of Jane's favorite places in Bordeaux (from a wine and non-wine standpoint).  

A fantastic conversation and hopefully the first of many (I begged her to come on again and she said yes!)

You can find Jane @newbordeaux on Twitter and on her site

Mar 15, 2016
Ep 154: Wines of Santa Barbara, California

Santa Barbara is a cool climate wine region in CA's Central Coast. At 34˚ latitude, it doesn't seem like Pinot & Chardonnay would thrive here, but weird geology, geography, & a big ocean make the area one of CA's best & most unique cool climate hubs.

First we cover the basics on Santa Barbara:

  • 5 hours north of LA
  • It's separated from the rest of the United States by the San Andreas Fault, giving it different geology from much of inland California – soils here are more marine
  • Shallow soils are well suited to viticulture, stress in the vines, low vigor, excellent concentration of flavor.
  • 34˚N Latitude – should be almost too hot for grapegrowing but valleys are transverse -- they run east-west rather than north-south
    • Geologic oddity, the ocean breezes sweep eastward and are funneled in, helped by the hills and mountains that ring the region.
    • East into foothills: warm during the day, cool during the night,
    • West valley - ocean enjoy a mild and moderate climate.
  • Main grapes – Pinot, Chard, Syrah
  • The area took off in the 1970s and 1980s, but it's real tipping point was in 2004:  the movie Sideways was set and filmed in the AVA

 Then we discuss the American Viticultural Areas: 

  • Santa Maria Valley
  • Sta Rita Hills
  • Santa Ynez Valley
  • Ballard Canyon
  • Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara
  • Potential new ones coming:
    • Los Alamos region
    • The Los Olivos District
    • The Santa Maria Bench

 If you haven't dipped a toe in to Santa Barbara's wines and you have access to them (especially those from the sub-AVAs) this podcast should get you motivated to do it! 



Feb 22, 2016
Ep 153: Okanagan Valley, BC Canada

After a great trip, compliments of Wines of British Columbia (, I give my impression on what the Okanagan Valley is & what it has to offer. You may not like all I say, but it's an honest look at the good and bad of the region!

  • First, we provide a thanks to the great people who were part of the trip: Laura Kittmer of Wines of BC, Lori Pike-Raffan and Blair Baldwin of the Okanagan Wine Festivals Society, Kyle Taylor from Sun Peaks, Arnette Stricker of @RTWGirl and Stefanie Michaels, @AdventureGirl
  • We review the brief history of Okanagan wine, which began in earnest in 1990.
  • We talk about the grapes available here from Merlot (most widely planted grape), and Pinot Noir to Pinot Gris (second most widely planted grape), Chardonnay, and Riesling 
  • Climate and geography are next -- we talk about the desert conditions of South Okanagan and why dry conditions, lakes, and latitude make such a difference to the wines here
  • We get into the nuts and bolts -- the sub regions and what each grows and specializes in, discussing the importance of exposure and location and what that means for wine styles.
  • Osoyoos/Black Sage and Oliver are the regions I mention as being high potential, along with the Similkameen Valley, west of Osoyoos and similar to the area.

After a bunch of facts, I give my opinion on what the region is and where it may be going (which some of you may not like, but those are the breaks!)

Thanks again to all who made the trip possible. I'll be coming again to see the south part of the region, but I appreciate the overview and the amazing hospitality, kindness, and meticulous planning but the Wines of British Columbia and the folks at the Okanagan Winter Wine Festival.  Go to for more information! 

Feb 13, 2016
Ep 152: Virginia Wine Conversations with Barboursville and Glen Manor

To follow up on the Virginia wine podcast, conversations with Luca Paschina of Barboursville Vineyards, who has been making wine in Charlottesville for 25 years, and a quick snippet of Kelly White of Glen Manor. Both will highlight why VA wine is so unique.

A few things on the podcast: 

1. The recordings were in tasting rooms. If you don't like ambient noise, skip this one.

2. You'll hear my dad and Frank Morgan of Drink What You Like blog and Virginia wine expert asking questions as well. I travelled heavy this time! 

Most of the podcast is a conversation with Luca Paschina of Barboursville Vineyards in Charlottesville, Virginia. They are a standard-bearer for quality in the region, as one of the oldest and finest producers:

  • We discuss Luca's background -- his schooling in the Piedmont of Italy, his experiences, and how he wound up in Charlottesville working for the Zonin family at Barboursville in 1990
  • Luca explains the improving reputation of Virginia and how Barboursville works to promote the region by making excellent wine
  • We get NERDY -- talking about everything from vineyard management, to diseases that California nurseries have been sending their way and the economics of that, to use of oak, yeast, and wine fads.
  • Then we talk about grapes, and there is some tasting of the Vermentino and the Bordeaux blend, Octagon (at one point I say "Sauvignon" and I'm talking about Cabernet Sauvignon, BTW). 

Next we have a 5 minute snippet of a conversation with Kelly White of Glen Manor. 

  • Kelly gives us specifics on vintage, how it works for them, and some examples of extreme vineyard management
  • Then she discusses how they make wine and their philosophy and work ethic. These wines are top notch, and much of the magic comes from their orientation and ideas about great wine.

Then we wrap! Enjoy!


Feb 02, 2016
Ep 151: Virginia Wine (US)

The state of Virginia in the US has been trying to make great wine since the 1600s. After 350 years, they finally made it work! From great terroir to outstanding talent, this may be the most exciting place for wine in the US today. 

After a listener question on the difference between Brouilly and Beaujolais, we talk Virginia wine:

1. The place has has 400 year history, but only about the last 30 have been exciting!

2. We talk about the challenges of climate, pests, humidity, etc of growing vitis vinifera in Virginia

3. We discuss the various regions and grapes of Virginia

4. I name names: Linden, Glen Manor, Barboursville, RdV, King Family, Veritas, Early Mountain and Blenheim make the list.

This state has a bright future if they keep churning out wines like they do from the top talent in Virginia. Delicious stuff! 

Jan 18, 2016
Ep 150: A Wine For Normal People 2016 New Year's Poem

To usher in 2016, we bring you a poem to make you smile and laugh. Thank you for listening in 2015 -- you are truly the best audience in the world!

Dec 31, 2015
Ep 149: Wine Gifts So Bad They're Great!

What are the worst gifts a wine lover can receive? From the wine bra, to the wine stein to gas station wine, we go over the worst of the worst, in hopes that we can prepare you for what may be awaiting you under the tree! You won't believe this stuff! Here's the list with links:


  1. Wine games:

  2. Wine bra:

  3. Wine shirts:

  4. Wine Chillers:

  5. Wine napkins:

  6. Chambong:

  7. Chalices:

  8. 750 ml Wine glass:

  9. Double walled wine stein:

  10. Wine bjorn:

  11. Old vintage wine, $2 wine, a magnum of white Zinfandel, Crappy homemade wine given as a gift

There are some bad ones in there! Check it  out and never buy these for anyone! Merry Christmas and thanks for listening! 

Dec 23, 2015
Ep 148: Conversation with Champagne Laurent-Perrier President Michelle DeFeo

Michelle DeFeo is a rock star of the Champagne world. She's a fabulous businesswoman, a Champagne nerd, and a normal wine person! We discuss everything from Bon Jovi to being a woman in the wine biz to differences in Champagne styles to flutes vs wine glasses. 

Here are more detailed show notes:

  • We discuss the landscape of the Champagne industry and Laurent-Perrier's place in it
  • Then we discuss Michelle's background -- her journey from Jersey girl to Francophile and whether she's on team Springsteen or team Bon Jovi
  • We trade war stories about the perils of being a woman in the wine industry and Michelle shares her hopeful outlook on the situation
  • Then it's a Champagne dork out -- flutes v. glasses, occasions for Champagne, and sugar levels in the wine (and a little secret about sugar in wine)
  • We discuss the storied history of Laurent-Perrier and it's pure, fresh, elegant style plus vintage and multi-vintage Champagnes from the house
  • We wrap with some information on what it's like to work for Laurent-Perrier

Finally Michelle tells us what she'll be drinking for the holidays!

A super informative podcast with a great lady. The wine is delicious too -- so put it on the list! 


Dec 08, 2015
Ep 147: Thanksgiving Pairings 2015

Happy Thanksgiving! We discuss the ideal wines to go with this hard-to-pair meal with specifics down to producers in some cases! We focus on American wines for this very American holiday.


Here is the line up this year (explanations all included in the podcast!):

1. American sparkling

2. Off-dry Riesling, Chenin Blanc or Gewurztraminer

3. Dry rosé

4. Oregon Pinot Noir

5. Central Coast or Washington State Syrah


From our family to yours -- a happy, safe, fun Thanksgiving! Enjoy!

Nov 21, 2015
Ep 146: Stephen Bolger of VINIV - Make Your Own Bordeaux

Entrepreneur Stephen Bolger discusses VINIV, his company that allows people make their own Bordeaux wine using grapes from top vineyards & help from the top winemaking talent in the region. We discuss this cool concept plus how best to explore Bordeaux wine.

Here's an outline of what we talk about:

  1. First we talk about Stephen's meandering path into wine -- from minerals to tech to grapes!
  2. Then we talk about how VINIV evolved, from idea to reality and the challenges and opportunities along the way. 
  3. We talk about Stephen's relationship with Lynch-Bages and the Cazes family, who owns Château Lynch-Bages, where VINIV is located.
  4. Although VINIV is really expensive, participating is a once in a lifetime experience and one that can be shared among lots of people. Stephen talks about what his clients get out of the experience.
  5. Then we pivot to general discussion on Bordeaux -- we talk about what it's really like in Bordeaux and the politics/structure of the industry. We talk about how people can people get great wine from Bordeaux if they know nothing and how to best explore Bordeaux.

Enjoy! And check out the link for our live, interactive classes!

Nov 17, 2015
Ep 145: Filling a Case for Fall

It's getting cooler in the northern hemisphere (and it's still not hot in the southern one!) so we thought we'd make some recommendations for what you could get to drink well this fall! 

Before we get to it, we announce FALL/WINTER CLASSES! Please head to to register!

And here are the slots:

  1. Rhône white blend
  2. Santa Barbara Chardonnay
  3. Fiano di Avellino
  4. Tavel rosé
  5. A wild card white or sparkling -- Lambrusco (a sparkling red) could be cool, or you could just figure out what strikes your fancy
  6. A Cru Beaujolais like Morgon or Moulin a Vent
  7. Spanish Rioja
  8. Portuguese red -- Douro or Dão or Alentejo
  9. Langhe Nebbiolo
  10. Aglianico from southern Italy
  11. Cahors (Malbec) from France
  12. Walla Walla Syrah or Merlot

Let us know what you wind up getting or if you have any new favorites from our recommendations!

Nov 08, 2015
Ep 144: Trentino Sparkling Wine with Marcello Lunelli of Ferrari

We talk with Marcello Lunelli, chief winemaker for Ferrari, producer of high end, Metodo Classico sparkling wine in Trentino, Italy. It's great wine. We discuss:


1. Trentino -- its unique location and how the terroir, the Dolomite Mountains, and the soil make the area so special and different from other parts of northeast Italy.

2. The economic situation of Trentino and how Pinot Grigio has been a curse and a blessing for the area.  

3. Marcello's background: his education, his experiences abroad, and his philosophies on how to make superb sparkling wine, including the importance of organic viticulture to Ferrari and the difference it makes. 

4. How sparkling is making headway in Italy and how Ferrari is at the forefront of the movement. 

5. The difference between Trentino metodo classico and Franciacorta in Lombardy.

6. The long history of Ferrari -- they've been around since 1902 -- and how the Lunelli family learned high quality winemaking from the master, Giulio Ferrari.

7. The challenge of making high quality sparkling at scale: How to make a large volume of wine while maintaining quality of a small winery.  

Marcello's passion comes through in the wine. It's excellent -- a MUST try and a great value for what's in the bottle!


Oct 23, 2015
Ep 143: The Red Blend Trend

In this episode we talk about the enormous and growing popularity (in North America) of red blends.We discuss:

  1. The stats on red blends in the US and their explosive growth, especially at the low end
  2. The marketing gimmicks around the trends, including the fascinating names the large companies have come up with from "InspiRed" to "The Troublemaker."
  3. The flavor profile of most blends and the differences between them and varietal wines. 
  4. The benefits of blends and the names of some very famed blends.
  5. The difference between "intentional blends" and "kitchen sink" blends. Along with the sweetness factor.
  6. My opinion on the importance of back label copy to help explain the blend better
  7. A run down of the potential winners and losers of the trend

Thanks for listening! Enjoy!


Oct 15, 2015
Mini Podcast: Pairings for Canadian Thanksgiving 2015

Happy Thanksgiving Canadians! In this mini episode we recommend some wines to have on the table...and a way to serve them! We are thankful for you!


Here are the wines we mention:

Sparkling wine / sparkling rosé
Off-dry Riesling or Chenin Blanc (Spätlese or Vouvray)
Northern Rhône -- Crozes-Hermitage, St-Joseph
Oaked Chardonnay 
Sweet wines: Vins doux Naturels, Port
Oct 11, 2015
Ep 142: Portugal

Portugal has a rich winemaking tradition, a long history with wine, and lots of great wine regions. With a ton of indigenous grapes and a variety of climates across regions, it's a fascinating wine powerhouse and it's on the rise! 

  • We discuss the 4000 year history of winemaking in Portugal
  • We talk about the challenges Portugal has had in recent decades and how its winemaking is getting back on track
  • We talk grapes and how most of them are native to Portugal
  • We discuss the classification system: Vinho de Mesa, Vinho Regional, Indicação de Proveniência Regulamenta (IPR), Denominação de Origem Controlada
  • And then we hit the regions:
    • Vinho Verde
    • Tras Os Montes
    • Douro
    • Dão
    • Bairrada
    • Beira
    • Do Tejo
    • Alentejo
    • Lisboa
    • Península de Setúbal
    • Algarve
    • Madeira


Portugal is a fascinating place. It's a lot to digest because the grapes, region, and language are unfamiliar to many of us but the wine is worth seeking out. It's only getting better!

Sep 27, 2015
Ep 141: Wine Trends with Madeline Puckette of Wine Folly

This week we talk to Madeline Puckette of Wine Folly, the amazing wine blog that has brought the art of design to the wine world. Wine Folly's information and outstanding graphics have made wine accessible for wine lovers near and far and I was excited to speak to Madeline about how her concept for Wine Folly has evolved and her upcoming book. Most of the podcast is then devoted to a little crystal ball gazing -- we discuss where we see the wine world going in the next few years and why!


Thanks to Madeline and we wish her every success with her book. Visit her here: 

Sep 17, 2015
Ep 140: Wine Travel in France -- A How To

In this short podcast we bring back Ian Renwick, winemaker and former travel planner to answer one of the top questions I get from you: "I'm going to France. What's the best way to explore the wine regions?"


The options are limited, but we tell you what you can do to get the most out of your trip! 

Sep 08, 2015
Ep 139: Fred Frank of Dr. Konstantin Frank in Finger Lakes NY

As a follow up to episode 138 on the Finger Lakes wine region, we interview Fred Frank, grandson of the man who made growing premium wine grapes on the East Coast of America possible. Fred tells Konstantin's fascinating, important story & shares the ins & outs of cool climate viticulture. A must listen -- Dr. Frank is the reason viticulture exists in unorthodox regions around the US. 

Aug 27, 2015
Ep 138: The Finger Lakes Region of New York State

After a trip to this stunning region full of kind people and delicious wines, we can finally report on it! 

To understand this region, you've got to get into a serious dork out mode because the story of how vinifera grapes can grow in this cold place goes all the way back to the glaciers! So briefly, in this podcast we cover:

1. The importance of the Lake Effect and how depth matters to grape growing

2. Weather and what that can do to a vine

3. Grapes and how Riesling is a goddess in the Finger Lakes, and unlike Riesling anywhere else

4. Glaciers, soils, and other nerdy earth-science stuff that relates to grape growing here. 

5. History of the region and preview of the soon-to-be-released podcast with Fred Frank, grandson of the pioneer of east coast vinifera winemaking, Dr. Konstantin Frank

6. How to get these wines


After you hear this you're definitely going to want to get your hands on these wines or visit the region. A great story, and a fascinating region! Enjoy! 

Aug 21, 2015
Ep 137: Winemaking Apprentice Ian Renwick Gives the Inside View on French Winemaking

This week we have a complementary podcast to the one we did with Ryan Schmaltz, who did a giant pivot in his career to pursue his winemaking dream. This time we talk to Ian Renwick of Domaine de la Citadelle in the Luberon region of the Rhône Valley. I have "known" Ian virtually for years and have watched his career changes through interactions over email and social media as he moved into wine. Finally, he gives us the whole, fascinating story and then we get into SERIOUS dorkery -- discussing everything from rosé making to the politics of Bordeaux to whether or not ratings matter. Here's a quick outline:

  • First we discuss Ian's life as a corporate HR dude and how he happened upon the WSET and Master of Wine program.
  • Then we talk about Ian's foray into wine importing in Hong Kong
  • We take a side trip to discuss Bordeaux, Southwest France, and the politics of the Bordeaux classification system and the AOP system at large.
  • Ian tells me about how he wound up in Luberon and what he's doing there.
  • The darker commences with tons of info on what Ian learned from his first harvest at the Domaine -- the good, the bad, and the ugly
  • We talk about the Mistral, and what it really feels like
  • We discuss Luberon, Provence, the grapes of the Rhône and the benefits of blending versus using single varieties in wine
  • Then it's all about the business of wine: the balance between commercial success and individuality, our views on whether or not ratings really matter, how wine PR really works and winemaking versus drink making. We also throw in info on rosé winemaking, the characteristics to look for in a great Rhône wine and Ian's work on how rosé could be improved and made better.

A fascinating podcast full of great dork moments and industry stuff, you'll get a lot out of this. 

Jul 30, 2015
Ep 136: Birth year, Anniversary, Commemoration Wines

Saving a wine to enjoy when your kid turns 21 or on your 10th or 20th wedding anniversary is a great idea, but what will last that long? This week we've got a great list of options for you with advice on how to research your best options and storage tips to boot! 

Here's the list: 

1. Vintage Champagne

2. Alsatian Riesling from producers like Zind Humbrecht, Marcel Deiss, or Trimbach. Or German Riesling from producers like Donnhoff or JJ Prüm.

3. The Italians: Barbaresco and Barolo, Brunello di Montalcino, or Taurasi from Agliancio

4. White and red Burgundy

5. California Cabernets from specific producers: Ridge, Heitz, Chateau Montelena, Freemark Abbey.

6. Heavier Northern Rhônes of Syrah like Cornas or Hermitage or Châteauneuf-du-Pape from the specific producers in Southern Rhône.

7. Bordeaux from the best producer you can afford

8. High end Rioja


Sweet Wines (my top picks for long aging)

1. Sauternes

2. Vintage Port 

3. Tokaji from Hungary

4. Madeira


Whatever the occasion you're commemorationg there's a wine for you! Congratulations!

Jul 24, 2015
Ep 135: Wines of Uruguay

Yes, there is wine made in Uruguay, a small but mighty country that borders Argentina in the east. In this episode you'll learn about a country we should all have on our list to visit and Tannat, the wine we should all have on the list to buy!

Some of the important stuff we discussed:

  • Uruguay is between the 30 – 35th parallels, so pockets of coolness are needed to keep structure in the wines
  • Most of the wine is made by small producers
  • The area has 22,250 acres of vines (Napa alone has 45K) and 200 wineries (Napa has over 400)
  • Most of the wine is red, and most of that is Tannat with some Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc. The biggest white grapes are Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
  • Tannat is a robust, tannic red that has a pivotal role in the country's rising wine status. It's similar to Carmenere in Chile, Malbec in Argentina. Uruguay makes Old World Style Tannat, France makes New World Style Tannat!!! Wines are  rich, full-bodied wines with dark fruit and spice aromas and flavors
  • Top regions include: Montevideo, Canelones, Colonia, San Jose, Maldonado, and Salto


You may have a hard time finding these wines, but ask your wine shop to bring a bottle in for you. I promise it's worth the hunt! Great stuff! 

Jul 15, 2015
Mini Podcast: 4th of July Wine Pairings

From hot dogs to burgers to potato salad and corn on the cob, we've got you covered. A mini-cast that you can listen to on the way to the wine store so you make sure you grab the right bottle!  Have a safe 4th and drink well!

Jul 04, 2015
Ep 134: How to Become a Winemaker with Ryan Schmaltz from Bella Winery

This week, we have a great story for you! Ryan Schmaltz, podcast listener and chemistry Ph.D turned winemaker at Bella Winery and Wine Caves in the Dry Creek Valley of Sonoma shares his fascinating transformation.

Ryan contacted me a few years ago, telling me about his plan to switch careers from the life of a chemist to that of a winemaker. Fast forward a couple of years and he made his dream a reality. 

In this podcast, Ryan shares his story of tenacity, hard work, and risk taking, which paid off. You'll love hearing about his path and then the dork outs about working with Zinfandel, Syrah, and Grenache and the challenges of each grape.

A fascinating conversation, we hope you enjoy and learn!

Jun 30, 2015
Ep 133: WFNP Wines for June

This is a podcast to accompany the 9 wines we have posted on the page. It details the wines and wine types and serves as a tasting guide for you to decide what to order and then what to look for when you are drinking the wines. It's a great one to listen to even if you can't order since you can probably find many of the wines types and taste along with the podcast!


Wines are available at 

Free shipping on 6 bottles or more! 



Jun 18, 2015
Ep 132: Wine in China with Eric S, Sales Exec from Shanghai

This week we have a special guest, Eric S, a wine sales executive in Shanghai, who gives us an overview of what's going on with wine in China. We cover things like:

  • What types of wines are people drinking in China?
  • Is wine consumption growing or has it hit a wall?
  • What's the deal with the gifting culture, anti-corruption, and the crackdown (A.K.A, why the top growth Burgundy and Bordeaux need to pay attention to the UK, US, and Canada again)? 
  • Has the wine bubble burst?
  • Do Chinese drink domestic wine or imported wine most often? Is it any good? What are emerging areas?
  • What's the deal with counterfeiting?
  • What's the predicted future for China's wine market?

A truly fascinating conversation -- we learned a ton and hope you do too! 

Jun 15, 2015
Ep 131: Observations from a Trip to Sonoma, CA

After a recent trip to Sonoma, we reflect on how things have improved in the past few years. The maturity of the region, including the quality of the wine and creativity of the producers, the family legacy of farming, & some great travel tips are covered. In more detail...

1. First we discuss how Sonoma has entered young adulthood– it’s grown up We saw more maturity in producers, less exhuberence and more balance in both wine and attitude.

2.  We saw a change in the risks people are willing to take too. There was more creativity, more awareness about the environment and far better articulation around why certain farming practices are used – we heard about concrete benefits, not just marketing BS on biodynamics, organics, and sustainability.

3. M.C. Ice observed found there was more under the radar to discover, and liked what he found when he looked a little closer. 

4. As we've observed before, the family stories of these Sonoma properties are interesting – there seems to be more emphasis on farming and connection to the land, especially now that many smaller properties are getting sucked up by big hulking wineries. We saw strong pride at every small winery we visited, especially at Mayo Family Vineyards, from whom you'll hear a clip near the end of the podcast. 

5. We discuss our crazy barrel tasting with Bill of ACORN (and promise more to come)

6 We wrap up with some key travel tips, like:  keep the itinerary tight by planning well, consider renting an Air BnB, drink plenty of water, and make sure there is food in the car. We covered a bunch more too!


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Jun 04, 2015
Ep 130: CA Pinot with Jim Morris of MacPhail Family Wines

In this episode we talk with Jim Morris of MacPhail Family Wines. We discuss a lot of stuff with our old friend and one of the nicest guys in Sonoma. Topics range from:

  • The CA wine industry and trends that we are less than excited about (yes, we name names!)
  • The history of Sebastapol, Gravenstein apples, and the Barlow -- the latest hotspot in Sonoma where MacPhail's tasting lounge is located
  • The world of Pinot-philes: Labeling, wagons, vineyards, and soils
  • And most importantly -- Pinot styles and the differences from Oregon down to Santa Barbara

A great enrichment to previous CA podcasts and fun conversation with a great, smart guy! 

May 28, 2015
Ep 129: Mick Unti on Igniting Sonoma's Grape (R)evolution

An impromptu recording with one of the only producers in the Dry Creek that does Mediterranean grapes, not just Zinfandel: Mick Unti of Unti Vineyards.

The conversation is very free form, but we discuss:

  • New World v Old World flavors and palates
  • The real differences in Old v New World farming and winemaking
  • How Unti is leading the evolution of Sonoma (without really knowing it!)

Because this was unexpected, it's a bit more unstructured than some of my other interviews, so I hope you can roll with it and still enjoy!

May 10, 2015
Ep 128: interview with a Sake Sommelier

This week listener Jenn Y and I interview Tomomi Muraki Duquette, a sake sommelier from Niigata City who schools us in everything sake! We cover everything you need to allow you to explore the world of sake! Thanks to Tomomi and Jenn for a great lesson!

We cover things like:

  • What is sake? How much like beer is it versus like wine?
  • How is sake made?
  • What flavors should we expect from different kinds of sake?
  • What are the different kinds of sake? What should we look for on the bottle?

As promised, here are the types of sake that Tomomi discussed:

  • junmai
  • honjozo
  • Junmai ginjo, gingo
  • Junmai daiginjo, daiginjo 

For more good reading on the topic, please visit this site:


Enjoy this very cool, different WFNP special! 


And for more info on Tomomi's group, see her Facebook page:

Apr 25, 2015
Ep 127: A Bartender's Take on Wine

This co-podcast with Brian Weber from Bartender Journey will teach you a ton about what goes on behind the bar with wine! From the danger of ordering rosé to how long a wine is left open before chucked, we give it to you straight! 


Brian launched our full conversation on his podcast, which includes more basics about wine. I've edited our conversation to focus just on the wine-relevant portions! We talked about...

  • How much knowledge do bartenders have about wine?How much training do they receive?
  • Is it ok to ask for samples?
  • How long does wine stick around before it's chucked if it's sold BTG? Do they ever try it - or just pour and hope it is still good? How many days do you leave a red by the glass compared to a white after opening?
  • How does pricing of wine work in a restaurant setting?
  • Do you think of us wine folk as silly purists? Meaning, a great cocktail is made from a few, if not many ingredients, and we winos are mostly looking for singularity.
  • What do you do when a customer tells you the wine you served is corked?
  • Have you ever faked rosé by adding red  to white wine? 
  • Are there any cocktails that do not screw up your palate before the meal?
  • What are some new and exciting wine cocktails being offered? How much of a difference does better wine make in these cocktails?

A very fun conversation from which I know you'll learn a ton! 



Apr 15, 2015
Ep 126: Arsenic in Wine with Dr. Carl Winter

Forget the scare-mongering media's claims about arsenic in wine! We have the real deal. This week, I was HONORED to host Dr. Carl Winter, PhD, and professor at University of California at Davis. He's a food toxicologist & food safety musician (you must listen to his songs about food hazards, sung to popular music. He is hilarious but brilliant because the stuff is so memorable). He sets us straight and let's us know there is nothing to fear when it comes to arsenic in wine. I'm copying in some points he gave me on arsenic in wine, in case you want to go further in your knowledge on the subject.

AND the bonus. M.C. Ice was so enamored of the concept of food safety music, that he created something in homage to Dr. Winter. I hope you love it (and I hope he does too!).*

MANY thanks to Dr. Winter. A cool dude, an inspiration to us, and an all around nice dude!

Apr 06, 2015
Ep 125: The Difference Between Napa and Bordeaux Reds

Apart from the obvious (which, M.C. Ice states): there's an ocean and a continent separating them, what IS the difference between the Caberet Sauvignon based wines of Napa and those of Bordeaux (Left Bank). Here are the things we address:

  • Latitude -- Bordeaux is at 45˚ and Napa is at 38˚ and it makes a difference
  • Terrain -- the Left Bank is on a high plateau, near rivers, and is on gravel and clay. Napa is in a valley with big mountains flanking it on each side and Bay and Ocean providing cooling influences
  • Soil -- the Left Bank is relatively uniform. Napa contains half of the soil types that exist on earth
  • Flavors -- Bordeaux is more earthy, Napa more fruity
  • Blends -- Merlot factors into Bordeaux in a more significant way


Enjoy and for more information visit

Mar 28, 2015
Ep 124: Wines of the Languedoc-Roussillon

This huge wine producing region of southwest France is old, varied, and sort of inconsistent. There are a lot of misses here but a few big hits, mostly in the form of bubbles and sweet wines. If you know what you're looking for, you can get great wine.

Good AOPs include:

  • Languedoc
  • Corbières
  • Minervois
  • Roussillon
  • Saint-Chinian

It's quite possible sparkling wine originated in Limoux -- Blanquette, made in the ancestrale method of the Mauzac grape, and Crémant, made in the Champagne method, are both exceptional here. 

Maybe the best stuff the Languedoc-Roussillon is the Vin Doux Naturel, or the sweet wine of the region. From Banyuls (great with chocolate) to Rivesaltes, the sweet wines are not to be missed! 

Although from my experience most of the still wines from the Languedoc are lackluster, it's an emerging region and worth a concerted effort to keep trying to see whether it will capture some of its former glory.

Mar 03, 2015
Ep 123: Wine and Chinese Food

It's the Chinese New Year so it's time for a pairing podcast! M.C. Ice is fascinated that you can successfully pair wine with Chinese cuisine, but after serious experimentation I made a believer of him. 

A few key notes:

1. Slightly sweet Riesling and Vouvray are the MVPs with Chinese. You can't go wrong with these wines because they have full fruit, sugar to counteract the spice, and acidity to keep the flavors lively. YearoftheGoatSheep_final_krisgaliciabrown

2. Sweet and sour dishes are great with rosé or Alsace

3. With meat dishes, Beaujolais is the MVP but rosé could work for pork buns

4. With seafood, try Muscadet or Albariño

5. Fried rice with egg can take Prosecoo, Viognier or a full Chardonnay

6. Dim sum is hard, but Riesling is your MVP!

If you're a Chinese food lover, you'll love this podcast! Please let us know what you think about these pairings and add some of your own!

Happy Year of the Goat/Sheep!

Feb 21, 2015
Ep 122: Spain's Best Red Wine Values

You asked for it and we delivered! Per the request of many listeners, we revisit Spain in this episode.

I've said it before and I'll say it again -- you don't have to look hard to find values from Spain. But beyond Rioja and Ribera del Duero, where you should look for great red wines that won't break the bank? Some of the best red wines are from regions you may not know. In this episode we talk about:

  • Toro
  • Calatayud
  • Navarra
  • Bierzo
  • Jumilla/Yecla and
  • Montsant

These are some of the best red wine values in the world! Enjoy and let us know what you think! 

Feb 09, 2015
Ep 121: Aging Wine Revisited

It's Groundhog Day in the US, which means, according to the namessake movie, we get a do-over! So we re-do the episode on aging -- we discuss what to hold, why, and the history behind it. We talk about ideal storage conditions & why we don't cellar wine. 

We hit on:

  • The history of aging wine
  • The chemical components that make a wine good for aging
  • The role of cork in aging
  • Which wines may age best
  • The ideal conditions for cellaring and ways to cellar wine -- temperature, humidity, light, vibration
  • Bottle types and dumb phases
  • Why we don't cellar wine

Hope you enjoy and learn more this time than the last time we covered this! 

Feb 02, 2015
Ep 120: Wines of Margaret River Australia

For Australia Day, we revisit this amazing continent and one of its finest wine gems -- Margaret River. As Australia emerges from its post-critter wine era, the country is in need of a reset. If ever there was a region to rejigger people's perception of Aussie wine, this is it. 

Australia Day

Here's the link: MARGARET RIVER

  • We first talk about Western Australia -- its size, location, and the other wine regions here.
  • We focus in on Margaret River, the area that makes 3% of Australia's wine and 20% of its premium wine. 
  • Margaret River was founded purely as a science project, and it's worked out pretty well. We hit on climate, terroir, soil, and the most successful grapes.

After you hear our description of the flavor profiles of these wines, you're going to want to run out to get some! And you should. It's great stuff. 

Enjoy and happy Australia Day!


Jan 24, 2015
Ep 119: The Grape Miniseries -- Cabernet Franc

After some thanks and two awesome listener questions, we take up Cabernet Franc, the parent of some of the delicious red grapes you know! 

From interesting, unexpected origins, to how it spread through France, we cover the early life story of this amazing grape. 

Then comes the dork fest, with info on grape DNA, flavors, and the importance of canopy management. We discuss where this old grape grows, and the best emerging areas. 


The podcast hopefully will inspire you to seek out wine made from this moderate, flavorful grape.


Hope you enjoy it! 


Jan 16, 2015
Ep 118: ACORN Winery of Sonoma California

I had the honor of talking with Bill and Betsy Nachbaur of ACORN Winery in Sonoma. From Sonoma history, to grape leaf shape, canopy management, barrel toast, and their specialty -- field blends -- you will learn so much from this podcast. I know I did!


A few more details on the winery we forgot to hit...the significance of the winery and vineyard names...


Vineyard Name
Our Vineyard name, “Alegría”, means happiness and joy in Spanish. Bill chose the name, because he was much happier as a farmer than he’d been as a lawyer (and folks like his products) .  He chose a Spanish word to honor California’s Mexican heritage, and to recognize that our ranch was  part of the Rancho Sotoyome land grant.  Spanish was spoken here before English, and our workers are mostly Mexican. We also use it as a toast. Alegría!
We wanted the winery name to be different than the vineyard name, because we wanted out grape buyers (we sell about a third of our grapes to other wineries), to vineyard-designate the wines they made from our  Alegría Vineyard grapes. We felt they’d be more likely to do so, if the vineyard name was not also the name of a winery.  Also, because Betsy’s Dad (and others) kept mispronouncing Alegría (saying Algeria), we wanted a name that was easily pronounceable and memorable.
Winery Name 


We chose “ACORN” because we are tiny like an acorn; there are oak trees in our vineyards, our wine is aged in oak barrels; and an acorn is a symbol of potential, prosperity, and good fortune. It is also easy to pronounce. A writer once headlined an article about us: “Mighty Wines From Little Acorn Flow.”
Jan 09, 2015
Ep 117: New Year's Tips and Resolutions for 2015

For this final mini episode of 2014, I'm solo! M.C. Ice has the flu and can't record so I bring you three tips for New Year's Eve:

1. Drink from "fine" to "poor", i.e., don't drink the best stuff last!

2. Don't bring great stuff to a party or dinner if it won't be appreciated

3. Try lower priced sparklers like Cava, Crémant, American Sparkling wine, Prosecco, Sekt, or for a cool, unusual twist -- Champagne made from one of the 19,000 growers in this region of France who made wine that really reflects the land and is less "homogenized."

And the resolutions:

1. More podcasts and online classes in 2015!

2. More podcast interviews in 2015

3. All internet wine ordering, all (ok, most) of the time!

I hope you've had a wonderful 2014 and that 2015 is full of health, wealth, and happiness!



Thank you for listening and for your support!


Dec 31, 2014
Ep 116: Winter Wines

Although we love getting super dorky, sometimes we like to do a super practical podcast that you can take with you to the wine shop!


High alcohol naysayers be contradicted! If it's cold outside, you WANT high alcohol wines. So that's the kinds of wines I'm recommending...with the caveat that they must be balanced and not just heat.

Suggestions include:

Whites: Oaked Chardonnay, Châteauneuf du Pape blanc and other Rhône blends, southern Italian whites, Soave, South African Chardonnay, and a surprising, dark horse Pinot Blanc from Germany.

Reds: Syrah from Swartland, Crozes-Hermitage, or Walla Walla, Washington, Mendocino Zinfandel, Malbec from Cahors, France, Monastrell from Jumilla, Rioja/Tempranillo, Amarone, and Cabernet Sauvignon.


Go fill a case and let us know what you think!

Dec 22, 2014
Ep 115: Long Island Wines

Following the journey back to my homeland, we discuss the amazing wines of Long Island and how far they've come. We'll give you the lowdown from climate, to vintage, to the best wineries of the area...and yes, we name names.

Dec 11, 2014
Ep 114: Old v New Guard Wine Lists

After recording the podcast, we had to add a disclaimer because we realized that this was a little insider-y for most people, but we still decided to launch this because there is a big debate raging in the wine world about what grapes and wines should be featured on wine lists. We realize some of you may not like this podcast and may think we've gone off the rails -- be patient! I felt we needed to cover it because it's been a huge debate in 2014 and one that doesn't seem to be going away.

That debate? Robert Parker, esteeemed wine critic, has been coming down hard on what he terms "hipster" sommeliers who are pretentious, only feature natural wines on their lists and eschew common grape varieties and big brands. Others have fired back at him saying that he is fighting for relevance by brining this up with such vitriol. 


Here's an few articles on the debate (I can't reference Parker's original article because it requires a subscription but these have excerpts): 

From Vinography:

From The Gray Report:

From Hawk Wakawaka:


And a few of the wine lists I'm referencing:

Vinegar Hill House, Brooklyn, NY:

Table, Donkey, and Stick, Chicago, IL :

Camino Restaurant, Oakland, CA:


We look forward to your comments on this one! 

Nov 20, 2014
Ep 113 European Wine Classification Systems

All wine from Europe falls under a classified category. From DOCG to Pradikat to AOP, this week we cover what these categories mean and why they're important. And we give you the best news of all: it's not as hard as you may think and it can help you get better wine! 

Oct 19, 2014
Ep 111: The Southern Rhone

This week we talk about a wine bucket list experience at Bern's Steakhouse in Tampa, Florida (US), answer a listener question on decanting, and then tackle southern Rhone. We focus on the better regions of the area and tell you the secrets to drinking better than just regular, old Cotes du Rhone.

Oct 04, 2014
Ep 110: How to Tell if a Wine Can Age

Using M.C. Ice's experience and his "lightbulb" moment in learning about a wine's potential to age, we discuss a recent tasting of a high end Bordeaux wine and how he was able to identify that this wine was a diamond in the rough (and it's not just because it costs $700 a bottle!).

Sep 24, 2014
Ep 109: The August 2014 Napa Earthquake, A Firsthand Account

This week I interview a close friend who happens to be the GM of a few wineries in Napa, the Dentist (he will be on again and if we want his candor, we need to disguise his identity!). He lives and works in Napa and he goes into detail about what the earthquake on August 24, 2014 felt like and what its ramifications are for the wineries and vineyards. The earthquake measured 6.0 on the Richter scale and is now considered a "major disaster" by the US government.


This is a firsthand account of an earthquake and what happens afterwards to the people, the land, and the wine. 


Thanks for listening and I hope you enjoy! 



Sep 12, 2014
Ep 108: Wines Aug_Sept 2014

In this podcast we review the six selections on the page. As M.C. Ice says -- these selections just keep getting better. This is an amazing batch and one you'll want to hear about, even if you don't live in a state where you can get delivery. These wines are worth seeking out.


The wines featured:

  • A French rosé
  • Bardolino
  • Ribera del Duero
  • Rioja Reserva
  • Brunello di Montalcino Riserva
  • Vintage Port (great to hold if you had a special occasion in 2011, as we did -- our first daughter was born then!)


Affordable, awesome wines that are easy to order. The podcast is like a tasting guide for you! Thanks for listening and for your support!

Aug 27, 2014
Ep 107: The Northern Rhône

This week we cover a bit about the Rhône Valley and then discuss specifics of the 8 communes of the Northern Rhône and what they have to offer. 

From north to south, the communes are:

1. Côte Rotie

2. Condrieu

3. Château Grillet

4. St. Joseph

5. Crozes-Hermitage

6. Hermitage

7. Cornas

8. St-Peray

and we throw in Clairette de Die for good measure! Some of my favorite wines are from here, so I hope you like the podcast! 

Aug 18, 2014
Ep 106: Tour de France Wine Coverage 2014

You don't have to watch the Tour to love this podcast. We use the route of the Tour to cover the wine regions that the 2014 Tour de France pedaled through -- from the UK to Champagne to Languedoc and Southwest France. We provide snippets of info on each region, with commentary on the Tour sprinkled in. And we do it without blood doping or steroid use, thank you very much!


Thanks for listening! Enjoy!

Jul 29, 2014
Ep 105: New Zealand with George Geris Pt II

This week we continue our interview (see Ep 104 for Part 1) with George Geris from Villa Maria Winery in New Zealand. We cover, diurnals, screw caps, Australia, New Zealand's marketing conundrum, and then M.C. Ice asserts his Fabio-sity (listen and you'll understand...)


Thanks for listening! 

Jul 21, 2014
Ep 104: New Zealand with Winemaker George Geris Pt 1

I had the opportunity to ask great questions of George Geris, winemaker for the large New Zealand winery, Villa Maria. He has been all over the world learning his craft but has been a winemaker in New Zealand for 17 years, making Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir. He's laid back, smart, cool and full of important info about New Zealand. 

In Part 1 of 2, we discuss George's background, what makes New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc so special, and a ton of other topics about this dual island wine hit parade. 

And unlike other interview we've done before, even though M.C. Ice wasn't there, he's a major part of this podcast...listen and see. 


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Podcast music: “Café connection” by morgantj / CC BY 3.0, ©2009 – Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) Map: Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported2.5 Generic2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic license

Jul 13, 2014
Ep 103: Marketing Wine to Women

This week Rick makes a comeback! We get a little industry insider-y, discussing the irritating practices and dumbed down way wine is marketed to women and, specifically, to moms.

I have to admit, this holds a special place for me since I was a wine marketer but always found the generalizations made so demeaning. This one's a little nerdy, but I hope you enjoy it! 


Oh, and it features a clip from "A Beautiful Mine" by RJD2 in the intro.

Download it here:

Jun 29, 2014
Ep 102: Wines of Piedmont, Italy

We return from our baby and massive home renovation hiatus with a hugely important region in the wine world -- Piedmont, Italy.

We cover the major reds and whites, including Barolo, Barbaresco, Barbera, Dolcetto, Arneis, Gavi, and Moscato. This should give you a good base for exploring this region that has a ton of great wines to offer but may be a little daunting to figure out!

Jun 18, 2014
Ep 101: A Few Wine Book Reviews

This week we discuss three recently published books by noted wine authors. We talk about the basic premise of each book and then give our take on whether or not they're worth reading in our opinions.

The three books are:

"How to Love Wine: A Memoir and Manifesto," by Eric Asimov, Chief Wine Critic of The New York Times.

"The New California Wine: A Guide to the Producers and Wines Behind a Revolution in Taste" by Jon Bonné, the wine editor of the San Francisco Chronicle.

"Buy the Right Wine Every Time: The No-Fuss, No-Vintage Wine Guide" by Tom Stevenson, noted wine writer.



Apr 19, 2014
Ep 100: Wine for Normal People Gets Personal

For our 100th episode we share some details about us -- both personal and wine-related. From talking about our childhood experiences with wine to M.C. Ice's passion and how he used to mow the lawn to my revelation of a type of wine I really hate and a cameo from the podcast founder, we use this time to share some good stuff about us!

We raise a glass to you, our loyal listeners, for being such a great community. Here's to 100 more!



Mar 20, 2014
Ep 099: What is Tannin?

You may think you know everything you need to know about tannin but in what could be our dorkiest podcast yet, we share a bunch of nerdy facts about tannin. And the show outline:

What are tannins?

  • They're the stuff that makes your mouth feel dry or pucker after you drink a red wine or a white that’s been aged in oak.
  • They are polyphenols – Chemical compounds in reds that easily bind to stuff, change often 
  • They affect color, flavor, and structure of the wine and act as a preservative – tannic wines can be cellared for a long time
  • They are Important in food and wine pairing – protein helps minimize tannins

Where do tannins come from?:

  • Found in skin, stems, seeds or from barrels or wood chips (tannin powder in the cheap wine)
  • Some words on tanning leather and how tannins impact animal skins
  • Vineyard management and winemaking

We then cover tannic food and high tannin wines including the big four:

  • Nebbiolo
  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Tannat
  • Syrah

Enjoy and please drop any comments or questions here or on Facebook or Twitter!

Mar 02, 2014
Ep 098: Listener Q&A/ Grammar Girl

After a few great questions from listeners, we have a celebrity guest: Grammar Girl, the best selling author, award-winning podcaster, and brain behind She answers dorky questions about wine grammar in her fun, brilliant style!

Listener questions were:

  • What does it mean exactly when someone says a wine is rustic?
  • Have you found wine shopping to be like fashion i.e.; certain items are a better bargain at certain times of the year?
  • Unless I have a specific meal I am planning I tend to buy the same wine to drink and I go through stages. Am I messing up my palate by having a standard that I always go to?
  • I sought out a Blaufränkisch and I was really surprised by how sweet it was. Is this typical of all Blaufränkisch , a Hungarian style, or just that vinter?


And then we get to the famous Mignon Fogarty, AKA Grammar Girl! She answers three questions for me:

  • Should wine types (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, etc) be capitalized in writing?
  • Why are some wine types not capitalized (champagne, sherry) by some wine writers?
  • What's the deal with variety v. varietal?

Mignon is a great person, brilliant, fun, and I'm thrilled we connected. Find her at:

And more about her new project, Peeve Wars here:

Feb 24, 2014
Ep 097: Versatile Valentine Wines

Want a wine that will last from salad to entree to cheese course? This week we discuss 8 versatile wines that will carry you through your Valentine's meal (except dessert -- you need a sweet wine for that). Choose a wine using our ideas and you'll be set for the night!


The Whites: Albariño, Riesling, unoaked Chardonnay from the New World

The "Others": Rosé, Sparkling wine

The Reds: Beaujolais, Pinot Noir (but be careful which one!), Barbera


Happy Valentine's Day!




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Podcast music: "Café connection" by morgantj / CC BY 3.0, ©2009 - Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution (3.0)Map: Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported2.5 Generic2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic license
Feb 13, 2014
Ep 096: The Difference Between Cheap & Expensive Wine

Based on a blog post I wrote on the same subject, in this episode we talk abut the three important things that distinguish cheap plonk from well made wine.

Here are a few links of stuff we mention on the show:

1. Tugboat Yards to support us or sign up for an online class (thank you!).

2. Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

3. The blog post that details the important stuff in this post. Read now.


Feb 08, 2014
Ep 095: Australia Overview

In honor of Australia Day, this week's podcast is on the Land Down Under. From climate, to grapes, to regions, and a precautionary marketing tale, we give a high level overview of the basics of the oldest, driest inhabited continent that makes some pretty excellent wine!

Check out the blog post on the 5 Things To Know About Australia too!

Links we mention:


Jan 26, 2014
Ep 094: Vino Veritas Movie -- Interview with Director Sarah Knight

A little out of the ordinary for us, this week we have a short interview with filmmaker Sarah Knight, who directed Vino Veritas, a dark comedy in which wine features prominently. The movie stars Carrie Preston (Emmy winner - CBS's The Good Wife, HBO's Tru Blood). The story revolves around two couples and the night they have once a rare Peruvian "wine" serves as a truth serum for each character. Although wine isn't the subject of the movie like in Somm, Mondovino, or even Sideways, it does have a big role, so this movie is great for people who like character development and wine!

The interview focuses on wine's role in the movie, stereotypes of wine drinkers, and whether alcohol, in general is a truth serum.

Take a listen but for you production junkies, please be forewarned...we were constrained in our technology so it was recorded over the phone. The interview sounds like it's on AM radio, so don't be a hater!

The movie can be downloaded from iTunes and Vudu or Amazon, and the trailer is here:

Jan 17, 2014
Ep 093: What is Residual Sugar?

Residual sugar is a term that wine people love to throw around. Although you may have a vague idea of what it is, this podcast will clear it all up. We'll talk about this term, why RS exists in wine, what it can taste like, and why it all matters so the next time someone spouts things about this term, you can explain a thing or two to them!

Jan 14, 2014
Ep 092: Serving Wine at the Right Temperature

Temperature can help make or break a wine's flavors and aromas. In this episode we cover the right temps for certain wines and then tell you what to do to fix the temperature of a wine if you need to serve it and it's not quite right!

Dec 25, 2013
Ep 091: Wine Holiday Gifts and Gift Etiquette

Are you at a loss for what to get a wine lover for the holidays? Have some etiquette questions on sharing your good stuff for Festivus? Look no further, we've got fun ideas for these holidays or any gift giving occasions! 

Dec 17, 2013
Ep 090: Thanksgiving Wines 2013

From Rosé Champagne to Beaujolais-Villages, we've got a range to recommend to our American friends. Part shameless commerce division (the wines are available on, part food pairing bonanza we've got wines to make your TG more delicious!

Here is a list of the wines we mention:

Grüner Veltliner

Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc

Alsace Riesling

Rosé Champagne

Super Tuscan Syrah


Cahors (mostly Malbec)

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and please let us know how the wines were, especially if you ordered them from Vinport!

Thanks for listening!

Nov 20, 2013
Ep 089: Terroir v. The Winemaker

After shameless plugs for our nomination for the Best Food & Drink Podcast Award (such an honor to be nominated!), and a reminder about the wines I selected for you to check out and buy on, this week we delve into a thorny issue in the wine world.

Which has a bigger influence on wine: terroir or the winemaker?

We bring up arguments for both, go in circles and then ask you to send us your conclusion! 

Find us on Facebook: Wine for Normal People

Twitter: @normalwine

We reference an article by Jamie Goode, an excellent and noted wine writer in which you may be interested: 

Terroir: muddy thinking about the soil?

Thanks for listening! Please send us your thoughts on this topic!

Nov 11, 2013
Ep 088: The Grape Miniseries: German Riesling w Expert Stuart Piggott (Part 2)

This week is a continuation of Episode 87, but this time it's all about the most confusing but rewarding aspect of Riesling: German Riesling. Expert Stuart Piggott and I discuss the highest quality regions, sweetness and dryness scales, and how to shop to get what you want. Another don't miss episode!

Thanks for listening! Enjoy!

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Podcast music: "Café connection" by morgantj / CC BY 3.0, ©2009 - Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution (3.0)Map: Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported2.5 Generic2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic license

Direct download: Ep_087_Discovering_Riesling_w_Expert_Stuart_Piggott_FINAL.mp3
Category:Riesling -- posted at: 5:39 AM
Nov 02, 2013
Ep 087: The Grape Miniseries: Discovering Riesling w Expert Stuart Piggott

The Grape Miniseries returns with a very special edition! Riesling expert Stuart Piggott joins us to give the low down on this exquisite but often misunderstood grape. This is a not-to-miss conversation with an entertaining, funny, NORMAL Riesling guru!

After gossiping about why a lot of wine experts are disconnected from normal people we cover stuff like:

  • The origins of the grape
  • Terroir's effect on Riesling
  • Style variation by place (Alsace,Australia, Austria, the US, Canada and more)
  • Growing Riesling and making it
  • The "petrol" note and spritz in the wine -- WHAT are they?
  • The sweetness factor
  • How to tell if something is sweet or dry by looking at the bottle and how to find a dry wine
  • Food pairings with Riesling
  • How to shop for Riesling to get the style you want
Next time we focus on Germany, the home and holy land of the grape!
Thanks for listening! Enjoy!

Thanks to our sponsor,
Get a FREE audiobook download at There are more than 100,000 titles to choose from, including some great wine books, for your iPhone, Android, Kindle or mp3 player.

And thanks for listening! We can't wait to hear from you! If you've got a question you want us to answer, post it we'll include it on the show!
Podcast music: "Café connection" by morgantj / CC BY 3.0, ©2009 - Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution (3.0)Map: Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported2.5 Generic2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic license
Oct 26, 2013
Ep 086: All About Bordeaux's Chateau Palmer

In a continuation of my amazing interview with Jean-Louis Carbonnier of the prestigious Bordeaux property Château Palmer, this week we talk more about the wines of the Château and what makes them so good. 

(WARNING: You may want to brush up on the Bordeaux podcasts before listening -- we get into some nerdy details!)

We weave through a bunch of sub-topics, but here are the main points:

  • The 1855 Classification of Left Bank Bordeaux Chateaux, where Palmer got the shaft
  • Is Bordeaux pricing fair? Do the wines measure up?
  • Palmer: its history, the blend, the terroir, the winemaking, and how it comes to taste that great.
  • Alter Ego, Palmer's lower cost wine with a slighlty different blend
  • Then we wrap up with Jean-Louis's takeaways about Palmer & Bordeaux

Thanks again to Jean-Louis and Château Palmer for their time and for educating us on this historic, classic, and unbelievably delicious wine! 

Oct 18, 2013
Ep 085: Inside Bordeaux w Château Palmer

For this episode, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jean-Louis Carbonnier, the Director of the Americas for one of the most esteemed Bordeaux château, Château Palmer and the owner of the communications firm Carbonnier Communications.

This is the first part of a two part conversation that you won’t want to miss. You may learn more about how Bordeaux really works from this conversation than from any book you can read, I know I did. In this installment, we talk about:


  • The differences and dynamics between French winemaking regions, especially Bordeaux and Champagne, since Jean-Louis has worked in both
  • Jean-Louis’s perceptions of how business gets done in Bordeaux
  • His thoughts on global climate change in Bordeaux
  • How the critics, especially certain American ones, have had a hand in shaping styles in Bordeaux
  • The all important French concept of terroir and why it lays at the heart of French winemaking


Stay tuned for next week’s episode when we discuss the 1855 Classification, it’s relevance today, and the nuts of bolt of how to make a wine as outstanding as Château Palmer.

Thanks to Jean-Louis! I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this conversation! 

Oct 11, 2013
Ep 084: Tuscan Wine Regions

After last episode's overview, we left you hanging! From Super Tuscans to Brunello di Montalcino to Chianti and Vino Nobile and a bunch in between, this week we cover the main wines of Tuscany and give our 2 cents on what's worth seeking out!

Sep 27, 2013
Ep 083: Tuscany Overview

We tackle one of the most important and diverse regions in Italy, Tuscany. This is the first part of a two part series and lays the groundwork for the next episode, in which we detail the wines and the sub regions. In this episode -- the long, rich history of wine in Tuscany and the geography and climate of the place. Hopefully you find the background as complex and relevant to the wine scene today as we do!

Thanks for listening! Enjoy!

Sep 23, 2013
Wine Reviews: September 2013 Vinport Selections

By request from normal wine people who have ordered wines from Vinport/WFNP, we did a podcast on the six wines offered in September through our partnership (full disclosure: I get a small cut of the profit).

Even if you can't get these wines shipped to you, you'll still learn a ton about grapes, regions, and flavors since we talk both generally and specifically about the wines offered. Each are classic examples from their regions. Here is the lineup that we talk about:

NV Serre Colsenta Prosecco Superiore di Valdobbiadene DOCG, Italy $18

2012 Domaine Masson-Blondelet, Pouilly-Fumé, $25

2009 Bodega de Los Clop Reserva, Malbec, $18

2008 Leone d'Oro Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG, Italy, $20

2009 Chateau Haut Beyzac, Haut-Medoc, Bordeaux, France, $38

2009 Domaine de Nalys, Châteauneuf-du-Pape Le Châtaignier, $55

Sep 17, 2013
Ep 082: Evaluating Restaurant Wine Lists

A big thanks to Tony H for this topic. Here was his question:

  • Could you one day explore the issue of wine lists?
  • Where do restaurant wine lists come from?  I would like to think that someone sits down with the menu and thinks through what wines might go well with the dishes, but that’s probably naïve.  I suspect most restaurants buy a package deal from a distributor to supply a standardized list and the wines?
  • If you were going to design a wine list, how would you go about doing it?
  • What is it about a wine list that tips you off as to whether it has been put together by people who know what they’re doing?
  • Where do wine list prices come from?

I use my experience as a restaurant marketer for the big hulking winery to shed some light on the inside industry dirt. We talk about what to look for in a list and in a good restaurant (via wine) and then I give you some great tips from the book (almost done!). 

Hope you enjoy this one! Look forward to the feedback (and other great service stories if you have them).

And from the Shameless Commerce Division: If you are a restaurateur and need some help with your wine list, email me at to see how we can work together to get you a balanced list! 

Sep 04, 2013
Ep 081 Discovering New Regions

Thanks to listener Kristaps for this week's topic! 

After a great listener question on how drinking windows are determined, we give you a few steps you can follow to start exploring a new wine region. In short:

  • Get a map
  • Read and research
  • Narrow down to what sounds good
  • Figure out how to get the wines you want
  • Evaluate them, fairly



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And thanks for listening! We can't wait to hear from you! If you've got a question you want us to answer, post it we'll include it on the show!

Podcast music: "Café connection" by morgantj / CC BY 3.0, ©2009 - Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution (3.0)Map: Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported2.5 Generic2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic license

Aug 16, 2013
Ep 080: Veneto, Italy

If you're going to tackle sub-regions of Italy, you probably should do the biggest volume producer of the country first, right? And that would be Veneto. 

Home of Verona, Venice, and Vicenza this area is a juggernaut in winemaking. 

In this episode we cover the good, the bad, and the flavorless lemon water. We talk about the split between varietal-producing areas and blend-producing areas. 

Download us on iTunes or click to listen here.

As promised, here's a list in case you didn't get it on the podcast:

  • Bardolino
  • Bianco di Custoza
  • Valpolicella
  • Valpantena
  • Soave
  • Gambellara
  • Valpolicella and Amarone
  • Breganze
  • Colli Berici
  • Colli Euganei
  • Lessini Durello
  • Piave
  • Lison-Pramaggiore
  • Montello e Colli Asolani
  • Prosecco di Conegliano-Valdobiaddene



Thanks to our sponsor,

Get a FREE audiobook download at There are more than 100,000 titles to choose from, including some great wine books, for your iPhone, Android, Kindle or mp3 player.

And thanks for listening! We can't wait to hear from you! If you've got a question you want us to answer, post it we'll include it on the show!


Podcast music: "Café connection" by morgantj / CC BY 3.0, ©2009 - Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution (3.0)Map: Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported2.5 Generic2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic license

Aug 08, 2013
Movie Review: SOMM

We couldn't help but review the wine movie of the day: SOMM. 

We liked it, mostly. Here are the highlights:

  • The cinematography was outstanding -- this guy (Jason Wise) can make a movie! 
  • Wise presented the rigor of the exam well
  • The characters were interesting

BUT, we felt that, knowing what we know, there were some holes in the presentation. We raise things like the intensity of the service exam (nearly invisible in the movie), the financial hit people have to take to be successful, and what it actually gets you once you achieve this level (be careful what you wish for)...

Enjoy and PLEASE take it for what it's worth. We are reviewing from the wine perspective -- we're by no means pro reviewers. We'd love to hear your opinions on it all! 

Jul 22, 2013
Ep 079: Loire Part 2

We released Loire Part 1 but it was so dense we needed a breather!

This week, we return with a short overview of the region, covering the eastern areas, including Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé, the most famous of the modern Loire regions. 

Jul 11, 2013
Tour de France 2013: Languedoc-Roussillon and Southwest France

As the Tour 2013 snakes through the Languedoc-Roussillon and the Midi-Pyrenees/South West France they are riding through major wine country. 

We give you a quick summary of the best and brightest wines of these beautiful places!
Jul 05, 2013
Tour de France 2013: Wine Coverage Begins!

We start parallel coverage of the Tour de France 2013. This time we cover Corsica and Provence, with mini overviews of the wines available in the regions through which the Tour is cycling!

Phill and Paul -- watch out! M.C. Ice and I have our own Tour commentary (does wine count as "doping?")!!

Stay tuned, we'll cover any regions where good wine is made! 

Jul 03, 2013
Ep 078: Loire Part 1
We’re on a roll — hitting the big regions of France. This week, we cover half the Loire. It’s the largest region in France, so we had to break it in two. But first, we remind everyone of our amazing partnership with, for which I am selecting wines that I think are great examples of their regions. Free shipping on 6 or more bottles, great prices, and descriptions of six kick ass wines that will let you taste exactly the attributes M.C. Ice and discuss on the podcast (and as I say on the podcast, I get a small portion of the proceeds, but I selected Vinport as a partner because they let me pick what I wanted to present to you, not what was on their agenda). LINK to my page on Vinport (which features two awesome Alsace wines this month!): LINK TO WFNP PAGE with Alsace wines for purchase! First a Loire overview, including Cremant (sparkling wine), the “branding” issue the region has, and two of the main areas: 1. Pays Nantais/Muscadet Feat [...]
Jun 29, 2013
Ep 077: Alsace, France
In this episode we cover a lot of ground and hit on one of my personal favorite wine regions: Alsace, France. And the show notes: We introduce our amazing partnership with, for which I am selecting wines that I think are great examples of their regions. Vinport has access to some amazing regions and producers that aren’t always widely available. If you live in   state where you can have wine shipped to you, check out my page. Free shipping on 6 or more bottles, great prices, and descriptions of six kick ass wines that will let you taste exactly the attributes M.C. Ice and discuss on the podcast (and as I say on the podcast, I get a small portionof the proceeds, but I selected Vinport as a partner because they let me pick what I wanted to present to you, not what was on their agenda). LINK to my page on Vinport (which features two awesome Alsace wines this month!): LINK TO WFNP PAGE with Alsace wines for purchase! We do some listener thanks and s [...]
Jun 16, 2013
Wine Review 003: 2011 Truchard Chardonnay from Carneros in Napa
I love a crisp Chardonnay and Carneros, in southern Napa, usually delivers! This is a great wine, as you’ll hear us describe… The Wine: 2011 Truchard Chardonnay Where it’s from: Carneros, a cool climate area that straddles southern Napa and Sonoma. Price: $30 Alcohol: 13.9% Color: A pale straw, not to much color from the oak or over-ripe grapes! Smell: Very floral, like nightshade jasmine flowers and a mouthwatering lemon and green apple scent that made it seem lively. Taste: Much fuller and richer than we expected, with honeysuckle, jasmine, and then tropical fruits. Tons of pineapple and then vanilla from the oak but the acidity keeps the wine feeling fresh and light. As M.C. Ice says “I like how the oak is a side dish, not an entree. It balances the other flavors, doesn’t overpower them.” Great minerality too. Drink or sink?: Drink. An well-balanced, excellent and tasty Chardonnay. Very close to a European style but with great Cal [...]
Jun 06, 2013
Ep 076: Are Wine Reviews BS?
Based on a popular article that circulated in a tech mag, proclaiming that “Wine Reviews are BS” and a bunch of listener questions we’ve received, we tackle the article and other critiques of the wine review world head-on. Are wine reviews really BS? We let you know what we think! In the podcast we detail the “Exhibits” from the article, debunking or agreeing with each, and using each as a basis for discussion about the world of wine reviews and whether or not the criticism is justified, in our opinions (which is all wine reviews really are anyway). Thanks for listening! We can’t wait to hear from you! If you’ve got a question you want us to answer, post it here or on Facebook or Twitter we’ll include it on the show! [...]
May 29, 2013
Ep 075: Interview with David Merfeld of Northstar Winery

This week we’ve got a different kind of show for you! No M.C. Ice, but instead a terrific interview with winemaker David “Merf” Merfeld from Northstar Winery in Walla Walla, Washington.

This 43 minutes will give you a great perspective on the region through the eyes of a winemaker. Merf tells us all about the differences between the appellations, the grapes that thrive in the region, and why Washington is so unique.

We hit on everything from soil, to wildlife, to distribution of Washington wines. A great perspective that we hope you enjoy! Thanks for listening! We can’t wait to hear from you!


If you’ve got a question you want us to answer, post it here or on Facebook or Twitter we’ll include it on the show!

____________________________________________________________________ Podcast music: “Café connection” by morgantj / CC BY 3.0, ©2009 - Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution (3.0)Map: Licensed under the Creativ [...]

May 02, 2013
Ep 074: Washington State Wines
You know, if we can get to it relatively easily (i.e., it’s in the U.S.), we’ve got to visit a place before we do a podcast on it. You asked, and we went! This week: Washington State in the northeastern part of the United States. Damn! They are making great wine there, and it’s worth seeking out.  We get dorky about rocks, soil, and sunlight in this episode. Download us on iTunes or click here for the link to the podcast (and click on the arrow under the “listen now” to hear it) Here are the notes: Stats that you may find hard to believe, given Washington’s relatively low profile Geography and geology, including M.C. Ice’s nerdy turn as an (almost) geology minor We go MISSOULA on you! A bit more modern history The American Viticultural Areas — with a special focus on Yakima, Rattlesnake Hills, Red Mountain, Snipes Mountain, Horse Heaven Hills, and Walla Walla Our best explanation of what the wines taste like There are a fe [...]
Apr 23, 2013
Ep 073: Alternatives to the Expensive Stuff
This week we have a hit parade of secret gems: the 9 wines you could sort of substitute for super expensive ones. A great topic provided by a listener! Since we hit the list pretty quickly, here are the wines and their analogues… Expensive Wine Less Expensive Analogue Brunello di Montalcino Rosso di Montalcino Oregon Pinot Noir, fruitier Burgundy New Zealand Pinot Noir CA Cabernet Sauvignon Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon, Argentinean Malbec Fine Bordeaux Rioja, Cahors, less fine Bordeaux Barolo Ghemme, Gattinara, Nebbiolo Hermitage Crozes-Hermitage, St-Joseph Dry German Riesling Australian Riesling from Clare, Eden Valleys, Austrian Riesling Champagne Cremant, Cava, Sparkling wine from anywhere else – not Prosecco or Sekt Priorat Spanish Garnacha from Calatayud, Montsant or Monastrell from Yecla Enjoy it and make sure to post the expensive wines you love so we can offer some advice on less expensive alternativ [...]
Apr 02, 2013
Wine Chat 003: Parker v. Galloni, and the Loosening Grip of Traditional Wine Critics’ Influence
As we’re making our way through edits for this week’s podcast, we did a Wine Chat/Mini-cast to fill in. This is on a very important issue that I think is going to shake up the wine critic world permanently. Kind of a big deal. Here’s a link to the story that covered this: Parker v. Galloni If you don’t want to read it, here’s the short of the story: Famed American critic Robert Parker of the Wine Advocate, who single-handedly sets prices and makes reputations for wines and who has arguably changed the way winemakers make wine so they can garner high scores,  sold a large portion of his brand to a group of Singapore investors and shook up the structure of the subscription-only newsletter. His named successor for evaluating California wine, Antonio Galloni, stepped down after the move and started his own Web site. He decided to withhold all the scores for Sonoma wines he had conducted prior to the sale, stating that he would publish [...]
Mar 27, 2013
Ep 072: Burgundy Overview
We have a lot of regions and countries to cover in the future, but since the concept of terroir began with and is defined by Burgundy, we really needed to get on it! Since this podcast is 100% based on the “A Primer on Burgundy: The 5 Things You Need To Know” I’m not going to do show notes…It’s all there. The only thing I’ll add is that this episode is dedicated to the Sammarco family who suffered a great loss in Hurricane Sandy, and to whom we send our prayers, thoughts, and deepest sympathies. _________________________________________________________________ Thanks to our sponsor, Get a FREE audiobook download at There are more than 100,000 titles to choose from, including some great wine books, for your iPhone, Android, Kindle or mp3 player. And thanks for listening! We can’t wait to hear from you! If you’ve got a question you want us to answer, post it we& [...]
Mar 15, 2013
Ep 071: Wine Scandals
I love a good scandal. So this week’s podcast covers the best of the last 30 years. From Champagne to a corrupt Canadian wine critic to Austria’s downfall in the 80s, we discuss the wrongdoing of some big time players in the industry. Then we move on to the fun stories of a world of which we’ll never be a part: the wealthy, elite collectors of rare, old (and appallingly expensive) wines and how a few cunning dudes defrauded collectors and duped critics. We cover Hardy Rodenstock, the subject of The Billlionaire’s Vinegar (a great book! Shameless plug: Go to to get a FREE audiobook download) and Rudy Kurniawan, whose story is even crazier and more recent. The Grape of the Week is Melon de Bourgogne/Muscadet. Per our recommendation: make sure to look for Muscadet Sevre et Maine and sur lie on the labels for quality. Enjoy! Thanks to - our sponsor! Get a FREE  audiobook download at www [...]
Mar 05, 2013
Ep 070: Chile
In this podcast we cover Chile, a country with some really great wines and some very interesting history behind it in the wine world. After a retraction and re-giving of thanks to a listener we hit the main topic. We discuss how this long, narrow country’s isolation has led to a bunch of developments — great for wine, less good for politics We talk about the climate, geography, and main grapes Then we hit the long history of winemaking, starting with the Conquistadores and hitting on some of the key developments (including the influence of Bordeaux) that made the Chilean wine industry what it is today The grape confusion and the rebirth of Sauvignon Blanc and Carmenere in Chile Then we hit on regions and what to expect from the wines of this long, skinny country. And thanks for listening! We can’t wait to hear from you! If you’ve got a question you want us to answer, post it we’ll include it on the show! Thanks to - our new sponsor! Get [...]
Feb 20, 2013
Ep 069: Wine Business Etiquette
This week’s podcast features some new stuff. A listener question for M.C. Ice challenges him about why he bothers to shop for wine. Then we get into the business of wine in business. In the corporate events and speaking engagements I do, I always address wine business etiquette and this podcast is a compilation of the tips I give and questions I’ve answered. The tips include: Don’t be tempted to play the know-it-all game How to pick or be a host in wine ordering — sharing, gathering ideas, not making assumptions, and using the sommelier to break tension Watch the budget, it’s not hard to do! How to choose wine as a gift Know when to abstain Dealing with colleagues who have different financial situations Handling colleagues or associates who treat the staff like crap At the end of the podcast, a new feature! A listener call in. We have a quick conversation with Barbie, a listener from New York, about blind tasting and what we think about it. Thanks to Ba [...]
Feb 07, 2013
Ep 068: California
California is a huge state and makes up 90% of wine production in the United States. This week we tackle this great state that put U.S. winemaking on the map. A special thanks to Magnus, a listener from Sweden, who brought it to my attention that we had to get on it and tackle California. Here’s the show summary: We start with a story about a corked wine we had and M.C. Ice explains his experience of it. We tackle an excellent listener question about why high alcohol wines don’t age well. Then we hit the major quality winemaking areas of California from north to south, giving an overview (or maybe a little more than an overview) of each: Mendocino Sonoma Napa The Central Coast And then we touch on the Sierra Foothills, the Central Valley, Southern California, and a mention a few others. We’ll hit each of the four big areas in detail in future podcasts, but this should give you some idea of how much more California has going on than meets the eye. I [...]
Jan 25, 2013
Ep 067: The Grape Miniseries — Tempranillo
Facebook friends voted and the Grape Miniseries won for the topic this week! So for the first podcast of 2013 we tackle the King of the Spanish reds: Tempranillo. It has more…and less… to it than meets the eye. After lots of wonderful thanks and fun comments, we get to this fascinating, native Spanish grape. A few notes on it… The grape is from northern Spanish and gets its name from  “Temprano” which means early, since it ripens 2 weeks before Rioja’s other important grape – Garnacha The wine is deep-colored, lower in acid and alcohol, and has amazing ageability but a lot of times it’s kind of bland on flavor. If it’s got any flavor it’s kind of like berries, plum, tobacco, vanilla, leather, and herbs. It can be a lot better in a blend, as the folks in Rioja can tell you. Climate and elevation is everything for Tempranillo — it does best in cool climates and at elevation.  Yields HAVE to be controlled to produce a good wi [...]
Jan 14, 2013
Ep 066: Sparkling Wine Options
We’re getting in under the wire for New Year’s Eve (and we’ve missed some of you abroad) but this episode is a must listen before you make a last run to the wine shop. Here are the notes: Different sytle types of Champagne/Sparkling to consider: Traditional method, Brut, Prestige Cuvee (for lots of $$!!), Vintage dated and what it means. Blanc de Blanc, Blanc de Noir, Rosé. We cover the major differences between each and what to expect. More affordable alternatives to Champagne that are made like Champagne: Cremant, Cava, Franciacorta, US, Australian, and South African Sparkling wine. More affordable alternatives to Champagne that are much fruitier and made differently: Prosecco, Sekt Big brands v. small guys (Recoltant Manipulant) Some stuff on etiquette: how to open a bottle, pour it, and the all important toast superstition that you can’t miss! Enjoy! Happy New Year. Be safe, have fun, and thanks for listening and supporting us this year! If you like the [...]
Dec 31, 2012
Ep 065: The Grape Miniseries — Malbec
This week we return to the Grape Miniseries…finally! It’s Malbec and I think we have a few surprises to share about this grape. After lots of wonderful thanks and fun comments, we hit three excellent listener questions: 1. What’s the etiquette of sharing good wine with people who may not appreciate it? GREAT question and we have an answer that should provide a sigh of relief for you. 2. What exactly is minerality in normal people terms? We hit on some ideas, and suggest licking rocks… 3. And very importantly, when is “Wine for Normal People” the book coming out? Yes, Virginia, you can put it on your Christmas wish-list next year! Then we get to the matter at hand! And a few summary points: We talk about the grape and its many challenges in the vineyard. We discuss the main styles of Malbec (’cause it isn’t just Argentina) Then we hit on history and the regions where the grape grows or has grown in the past: France: [...]
Dec 19, 2012
Wine Chat 002: Amazon’s Selling Wine!
A bonus Wine Chat with Rick on’s announcement that they’re now selling wine. Now Amazon really does sell everything! Go to to see for yourself! We discuss the implications of this move and whether or not we think it will work..this time around (three’s a charm, or three strikes and you’re out?). Here’s the link to the Press Democrat article that Rick referenced: “Amazon gets back in the wine business” Enjoy and let us know if you’ll be shopping on Amazon by writing a comment below or on Facebook or Twitter. Can’t wait to hear from you! [...]
Dec 12, 2012
Ep 064: Oak Revisited (Dork Remix)
When we first started the podcast, we didn’t know what the appetite for dorkiness was. After almost 2 years of doing this, we’ve realized it’s VORACIOUS!! Yay! That means I can go hog-wild in a crazy oak-a-palooza. After our newly revamped “Listener Feedback” segment, where we ask you if you want to chat and be on the podcast (we want to hear from you!), we hit the main event. This week we’re feeding the beast with 48 minutes of dork-dom. M.C. Ice and I hit one of the most important topics in wine, in detail. Here are the high level points: Philosophies on the use of oak Flavors from oak Some important factors that go into barrel making/oak selection by winemakers — location of the forest, new v. used, size, wood drying methods, and why M.C. Ice only wants wine from “split” wood barrels… After this total nerd-fest, we just keep it going with a fabulous Grape of the Week (yes, we’ve been slacking!): Blaufränkisch [...]
Dec 04, 2012
Episode 063 Thanksgiving (Winter Solstice) Wines To Match Your Heritage
Last year we covered so much in last year’s Thanksgiving episode that we barely left anything for this year. We didn’t just want to do a recap or recite the same old wines that everyone else recommends. So for this Winter Solstice Plus (for our international listeners)/Thanksgiving edition, we talk about how to incorporate your original heritage into the feast this year. After we give thanks to some folks for comments, we address: The basics of food and wine pairing The largest ethnic groups from which most people in the US derive — German, English, Italian, French, Hungarian, Portuguese, and Austrian — and which wines associated with these countries will pair with the big day. More detail on food and wine pairing. As promised, here are a few of the wines we mentioned: German Riesling (Spätlese, Auslese, Spätburgunder/Pinot Noir) White Bordeaux Fiano d’Avellino, Falanghina, Barbera The white wines of Alsace and Rhône, Rosé (not more tha [...]
Nov 20, 2012
Ep 062: Our Most Memorable Wines (So Far…)
This week we cover lots of ground but the main topic is from listener, Tony Jacobson. Thanks so much for the suggestion! Here are the show notes: First, a special word on our sympathies for the victims of Hurricane Sandy, which demolished parts of the Northeast of the U.S. We are praying for you! (If you are interested in donating to the ASPCA or the Humane Society, or learning more about how you can help the animals displaced by the storm, Ellie thanks you). And then to the big 8 (they say everything should always be in odd numbers when you’re describing something or writing about it. I say I don’t care because I think these are worthwhile!): 1. We start with the moment that got me into wine: A white tasting at the Boston Center for Adult Education. Life-changing. See my sister’s notes (right). 2. A few classic Bordeaux that M.C. Ice and I won’t ever forget: Chateau Palmer and Cos d’Estournel. 3. Next, a food and wine pairing experience that [...]
Nov 10, 2012
Ep 061: Halloween Candy Wine Pairings
This week we bring you a fun episode! It’s super US-Centric (sorry to our international listeners) but hopefully we did a good enough job of describing things so you get the gist. In this short episode, we explore the world of left over Halloween candy and which wines will be ideal matches for what may be laying around after the costumes are hung up and the trick-or-treaters are gone (or in bed and you can raid their stash!). * *Keep in mind, we did not talk about pairings with dark chocolate or bittersweet chocolate. Why? ‘Cause that’s not what you get in a bag of candy for trick-or-treat! This is all about realistic scenarios. How was this “scientific experiment” conducted? Step 1: We got candies: The fruity kind, like gummies, Skittles, and Starburst and the chocolate kind — everything from Kit Kat, Hershey’s, and Mounds to Reeses P-nut Butter Cups and Snickers. Step 2: We got wine, some based on recommendations that we researched i [...]
Oct 31, 2012
Ep 060: Bordeaux Part 2
I feel like I‘m writing a script for Masterpiece Theater (a Public Broadcasting show in the US with high quality yet very dorky programming usually based on literature)… “And in this installment, we find our hero, Bordeaux, only half explained. A general overview was given last week, but we were left hanging. Only understanding very basic things about the region…” Ok, enough of that. Last week gave a very general overview but this week, we get TO IT! We go into good detail about what you need to know at a fundamental level to understand Bordeaux and the things that make is so unique. I’m not doing show notes this week (and this is not a ploy to get you to go to the blog) because I think it’s important to supplement your listening with reading the Bordeaux primer, which goes over similar information. Seeing it written will burn it into your brain and you’ll be on your way to being a Bordeaux dork! So here are links to the Bordeau [...]
Oct 25, 2012
Ep 059: Bordeaux Part 1
After catching up on shoutouts, talking about my debut on national TV (see this clip from The Weather Channel!), and doing our regular banter, this week we get started on the huge topic of Bordeaux. We just scratch the surface of why Bordeaux is such a big deal, talking about: Stats that will explain why the area is so significant in the wine world The history of Bordeaux and how it became so important in wine The basics on geography — the differences between the left and right banks A near end to Bordeaux: phylloxera and a dorky discussion of clones, grafting, and grape species This is just the beginning. Next week we continue on Bordeaux, discussing the four most important things you need to know to get up to speed. If you like the podcast, please pass it on to your friends, review it on iTunes, drop a comment below, or join the awesome conversation on Facebook (Wine For Normal People page) and Twitter @normalwine! And if you’ve got a question you want us t [...]
Oct 19, 2012
Ep 058: Benchmark Wines of the New World
And this week we complete the duo with the list of benchmark wines from the New World. After shout outs and a great listener question from Facebook on how to live as an ABC  (that’s Anything But Chardonnay) guy? We discuss the alternatives to oaky Chardonnay that still have the umph with food. True to the naming structure, and following M.C. Ice’s smart advice, we’ve organized this one by grape…Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Noir, Shiraz, and Cabernet Sauvignon are covered…with a few more thrown in. Now that you know them, why should you listen? Because we talk through each and why they’re benchmarks… important stuff to know! Thanks again to Paula Kidwell for the podcast idea. If you like the podcast, please pass it on to your friends, review it on iTunes, drop a comment below, or join the awesome conversation on Facebook (Wine For Normal People page) and Twitter @normalwine! And if you’ve got [...]
Oct 02, 2012
Ep 057: Benchmark Wines of the Old World
Following a catch up on shout-outs (thank you so much for the comments!) and a listener question about “bottleshock” and transport of wine, we hit the main topic, given to us by Paula Kidwell, a great podcast fan! Her question: What are the wines that I need to seek out to get an idea of the 10 classic, benchmark styles of major grapes? We’re a listener-driven show, so you’re comments are our bidding! I hit a few more than 10, but the main ones were: Champagne Bordeaux — red, white, and sweet Sancerre Vouvray Syrah from the Northern Rhône Burgundy — White and Red German Riesling Rioja Chianti Classico Barolo Now that you know them, why should you listen? Because we talk through each and why they’re benchmarks…important stuff to know! If you like the podcast, please review it on iTunes, drop a comment below, or join the awesome conversation on Facebook (Wine For Normal People page) and Twitter @normalwine! And if y [...]
Sep 20, 2012
Wine Chat 001: Flash Sales Sites
This week on the podcast front…a new format. A quickie with a surprise guest who I hope to bring back on a regular basis. Wine Chats are meant to be abbreviated podcasts that cover a focused topic. They’re not as broad or detailed as full episodes — they’re quick hits on topics that may be of interest. These are not in lieu of full episodes, but supplements! This time: Flash Sales Sites. These are sites that send emails with limited time offers that you can order for delivery. We address what they are, name a few to check out, and talk about how to make sure you’re getting a good deal! Enjoy and let me know how you like the new format below or on Facebook or Twitter. Be honest. We can take it. [...]
Sep 06, 2012
Ep 056: Italy Overview
I’m totally torn about this week’s podcast. I almost gave up and decided not to launch it, but M.C. Ice and some Facebook friends encouraged me to go for it. What’s wrong with the Italy Overview? I think it was such a big topic that I lost steam. I thought it was a little low energy this week and I apologize. That said, I’m launching it anyway. If it’s your first podcast…PLEASE give us another listen. Not our best work. Click here to take a listen: Here are the notes: We hit on some stats about Italy and how I think it’s amazing that people feel any level of comfort with Italian wine, when it’s such a complex, confusing, and inconsistent product. I explain why wine is like breathing in Italy and how it’s viewed differently there than in most other countries. We discuss the staggering number of grapes, a rough overview of geography, and then we DORK out on history — we throw in a little Latin, talk about [...]
Aug 24, 2012
Ep 055: Improving and Understanding Your Palate
This week we talk about some tactics for improving and understanding your tasting skills and palate. I’ve been doing a ton of classes lately and have realized that so many people are spooked by describing wine and think they have poor senses of taste. Nah! We tackle four tips that can help you improve or at least understand your palate! 1. Build your “taste pantry” — including a story about me licking a golf club 2. The importance of state of mind when tasting wine (and why not to taste with jerks) 3. Figuring out how to define what standard BS wine terms mean to you 4. M.C. Ice and I do a little battle over nature v. nurture on the palate…you’ll be surprised at who takes what side. And the Grape of the Week: Norton, an American original! As a bonus, here is the picture we mentioned at the end of the podcast. If you like the podcast, please review it on iTunes, drop a comment below, or join the awesome conversation on Facebook (Wine F [...]
Aug 15, 2012
Ep 054: The Grape Miniseries — Zinfandel
We haven’t done a grape mini-series in a while so for all those GMS, here you go! This week, after so fabulous shoutouts (thank you so much for the feedback!) we do the “American” grape, Zinfandel. This podcast is FULL of wine dorkery, for those of you who love that stuff. A link to the podcast…HERE Here are some notes: First we talk about what Zin is and the differences in flavor profiles, depending on where the grape is grown Then we hit the history books…and what a storied history this grape has. We reach back 6,000 years and talk about how this grape evolved, where it came from, and how it wound up in California (and my link to its path) We discuss some parental issues with Zin — and legal names it shares with some cousins and possible twins (If you’re looking for the spelling of the crazy grapes we mentioned: Crljenak Kastelansk, Plavac Mali, Primativo) The ZAP event — Zinfandel Advocates and Pro [...]
Jul 30, 2012
Ep 053: Rosé, Blush, and Other Pink Stuff
This week we tackle the pink…a wine you need to be drinking. After a great listener question on whether or not lots of bubbles in a sparkling wine indicate quality (listen to find out!), we give a run down on Rosé. Here are the notes: How Rosé is made: a little mixology, skin contact, and bleeding…that’s right, it gets gory. Which grapes are commonly used and where What exactly is Blush and what’s the difference between blush and Rosé How do you know if you are getting a sweet, white Zinfandel type wine or a dry Rosé? Regions that make pink wine: Rosé Champagne, Rosado, pink from the US, other regions around the world Other variations of Rosé: Vin Gris, orange wine Why vintage matters Serving temperatures and ideas on food pairings And the Grape of the Week (I know we’ve been slacking…): Mourvédre! ______________________________________________ If you like the podcast, please review it on iTunes, drop a comment below, or joi [...]
Jul 19, 2012
Ep 052: Critiquing the Critics
Ever wonder what those little tags with numbers on them in the wine shop actually mean? Who determines the difference between an 89 and a 90? What’s the scale like? How do they conduct these tastings? In this episode we critique the critics, talking about the various scoring systems — what they mean, what to look for, and why, ultimately, they are kind of like noise to your decision-making process. After shout-outs and a listener question on punts (in which M.C. Ice gives a crazy explanation that you can’t miss), the indentation at the bottom of a wine bottle, we get to the main topic: We cover the various systems of Robert Parker/the Wine Advocate, Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast, Decanter, Jancis Robinson, and the New York Times and San Francisco Chronicle. We quote from their websites about their scoring methodologies and then give our impressions of them. We talk about alternate methods of evaluating a wine and a way to revolt against the system…although w [...]
Jun 28, 2012
Ep 051: Austria
This week, it’s an episode near to my heart, since allegedly 25% of my family is from here: Austria. I tell an anecdote about traveling there as a dumb college student and “translating” some German. Then, after some great shoutouts (thank you for writing in and reviewing us on iTunes), we move on to the main topic. Since 70% of production is white, we first discuss the main grapes of Austria: Grüner Veltliner (Grooner Felt-LEAN-ah) and Riesling. We chat a bit about the reds of Austria: Zweigelt (SFY-Gelt), Blaufrankish, and St. Laurent. Then we cover the regions. We talk about Vienna and the three super high quality regions of Kremstal, Kamptal, and Wachau (along with it’s classifications of dry whites: Steinfeder, Federspiel, Smargd) We touch on the classification system of wines and what it means — Landwein, Tafelwein, Qualitatswein, and Pradikat. Then we touch on the slightly scandalous, tabloid history of Austria. From the Romans, to Charl [...]
Jun 17, 2012
Ep 050: Summer Sippers
YAY! Episode 50! Thanks to everyone for listening. Very cool milestone! We banter a bit about our experience opening an old bottle of wine (we’ll do a bonus clip of the experience soon), do shoutouts, and then we have a fabulous listener question: If you have a vegetarian diet, what types of wines should you think about? As a preview — vegetarian or no, you follow the flavor of the food! The options are much more varied than most people think. Then it’s on to the main topic: Summer Sippers. Here’s a link to the podcast: Here’s a quick rundown: Reds: We have some specific ideas for grilling out. Then we discuss wines that can “take a chill” and be sipped. High on the top of the list: Beaujolais (NOT Nouveau). Here’s a link to the cool new Beaujolais web site that I love and that will help you figure out which area’s wines will work best for you (look under regions): Discover Beaujolais Rosé: Love it. Nothing el [...]
Jun 02, 2012
Ep 049: Drink or Sink? (What makes a wine bad?)
We had so many topics to banter about before we got to the meat of the show — we talked about some wine flicks we recently saw, how Mad Menmay have stepped on Wine For Normal People’s toes, and my stance on the recent CostCo wine buyer interview with MSNBC that caused a little stir among blog readers/Facebook followers. After shoutouts (with a very special birthday wish for Scott Hoynoski — a fabulous listener), we get to the main topic — what is my definition of “sink” when I do the “Drink or Sink?” portion of my wine reviews…aka, what makes a wine bad. And by bad, we’re talking about wines that are not made well, not ones we don’t like because of personal preferences. We talk about the concept of balance and the three main tenets: tannin, acid, and alcohol and how each can affect the mix. Oak, fruit, and sugar are covered and how they can mess up balance or contribute to it. The grape of the week is… [...]
May 21, 2012
Ep 048: Argentina
This week we hit the virtual road again with a trip to Argentina. A bunch of awesome shout outs (you guys are the best!) and a quick story of my childhood trauma of always being the male characters while belting out the libretto of Evita (so my sister could be La Reina!) and we’re off to the Southern Hemisphere! Source: Palm Bay International Here are the notes: We start with a review of the history of Argentinean wine and how it got to be the 5th largest wine producer in the world. Then we talk about the unique climate of the main growing regions, and I dork out on a few wine terms We take a jaunt around the wine regions of Argentina, focusing on Mendoza (because it’s 70% of production! We talk about the sub-areas of Lujan de Cuyo, Maipu and the Uco Valley) and the region of Salta (home of the highest vineyards in the world and some of the best Torrontés). Then we give an overview of La Rioja (different from the historic region in Spain),  San Juan, [...]
May 09, 2012
Ep 047: All About YOU (the Listeners)
After a bunch of awesome shout outs, we get to the main event — your questions! We answer 7 questions and then have a segment on wines from Virginia (on the Central East Coast of the US if you aren’t familiar). Here are the questions: Trader Joe’s has a lot of variety in it’s wine section. Are Trader Joe’s wines good? Should I buy them? Can you please give some hints and tips on how to figure out if you live in a place where there are restrictions on shipping? Link to We’re part of a wine club and we’re bored with the same old wine tasting themes. Do you have any ideas? What magazines, web sites, and wine blogs do you read with regularity? Links: Decanter, Wine Business, Wine Doctor, Vinography, Wine Anorak, Jancis Robinson What is a good Web site for keeping track of my wine drinking? Link: Cellar Tracker Is it easier to tell the differences between different whites or different reds? What’s the deal with tip [...]
May 02, 2012
Ep 046: Food & Wine Pairing Revisited
This week, it’s another crack at food and wine pairing. But this isn’t just an overview, we get kind of dorky, talking about chemical reactions and shifts in your perception based on certain combinations. Here’s the outline: We do a quick review of basic pairing rules — heavy with heavy, light with light, follow the flavor Then America’s Wine Test Kitchen strikes again — we talk about the experiment we did with Sancerre (acidic Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley in France), lemons, and sugar. MC Ice was blown away! We address great pairings with acidic wines and the flavors you can expect from pairing Then we hit on tannin, alcohol, and sweet wines and why you have to take these factors into consideration when you’re pairing. If you like the podcast, please review it on iTunes, drop on the blog, or join the awesome conversation on Facebook (Wine For Normal People page) and Twitter @normalwine! If you’ve got a question you want [...]
Apr 22, 2012
Ep 045: How to Fill a Case of Wine
Sorry to be so late with this one — a death in the family has taken us off schedule with lots of things, including the podcast. But we’re back on track this week! And I think this one will be useful. This week MC Ice and I give some suggestions on what to buy if you’re shopping for a case of wine (which makes sense because you usually get a discount for doing that!) Since I know you’re not going to be able to take notes on everything, here’s the rundown of our recommendations: Sippers Cava, Albariño, and French Rosé (dry, not sweet blush wine!) Versatile/Food Wines Whites: Sauvignon Blanc, lightly oaked Chardonnay, dry Riesling Reds: Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Chianti or Barbera, Malbec or Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon or a red blend that contains it The Wild Card/Something New Sky’s the limit but we mention…Grüner Veltliner, Monastrell, Torrontes, and Nero d’Avola The grape of the week is Petit Sirah…and we ex [...]
Apr 12, 2012
Ep 044: Chateau Montelena
This week we take a departure from our normal format and MC Ice gets a break! I was so excited to have the chance to host the folks from Chateau Montelena, one of the wineries that helped put Napa on the world wine map as serious winemaking region, capable of rivaling Burgundy and Bordeaux.This podcast isn’t about free marketing for Chateau Montelena. It’s about the historical significance of the place, and about how they do things so differently from a lot of other Napa wineries. We were lucky to have head winemaker Cameron Parry, assistant winemaker Matt Crafton, and marketing diva (and one of the coolest ladies in Napa) Jamie Rothberg around to break it all down for us.If you want some more background on the winery (since we don’t go into detail on some things) please read these two posts (2010, 2011) to learn more!Full of funny, surprising (there is a HUGE wine celebrity cameo in the middle) and dorky moments, here’s a quick rundown of what we t [...]
Mar 29, 2012
Ep 043: France
This week we do a 10,000 foot overview of the motherland of winemaking: France. Here are the notes: First we cover a little about the French wine industry and why it’s so important (big $$ here!) After covering major grapes grown in France, we talk about the history of the country and how it got its start as a wine juggernaut. We re-address the concept of terroir and then get into the major regions and what you’ll find in each. The regions we covered are: Alsace on the German border, which mainly makes whites of Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, Muscat, and Silvaner. Then we hop to Champagne — we all know what’s there! We take a jog over to the Loire, covering the Sauvignon Blanc in Sancerre and Pouilly-Fume, the Cabernet Franc and Chenin Blanc in Touraine and Anjou-Saumur, and then talk about Muscadet, the strange name that’s neither a region nor a grape (more on that in this post). Next, we head to Burgundy and talk about three gr [...]
Mar 15, 2012
Ep 042: Traveling in Wine Country
Based on two blog posts, this week we talk about how to travel in wine country and our grape of the week is one of the best stories in the wine world! Here’s a quick summary and the links to the posts: 1. Plan or plan to explore — pick a discreet area so you’re not wasting time driving around. 2. Hit the big names if it’s your first time in the area — the properties are worth the visit! 3. Research and make appointments if you have to. Don’t miss out because you didn’t make appointments ahead of time. 4. Plan no more than 5 wineries for your trip. 5. Eat! 6. Be nice to the tasting room staff! Here’s a link to the post on which the podcast is based: LINK The grape of the week is Carmenere — one of the best stories in the wine world. Here’s a link to the post on Carmenere: LINK. If you like the podcast, please review it on iTunes, drop a comment below, or join the awesome conversation on Facebook (Wine For Normal People page) a [...]
Mar 07, 2012
Ep 041: South Africa
This week we talk about South Africa, one of my favorite countries. After going there in 2005, I became enamored of the wine and the country. Since then, I’ve been a big fan! In this episode we hit on: The history of South African wine and why it’s a good bridge between the Old and New World How South Africa’s Price to Value ratio measures up The climate, geography, and varietals of the main growing regions The Wine of Origin or regional specificity pyramid Some detail on the most important wine regions: Stellenbosch, Paarl/Franschoek, Overberg, Robertson, and more…and why I love Swartland and think it has major potential! I love South Africa and its wines. If you ever get a chance to visit or even look at pictures, check it out. It’s a really special place! If you like the podcast, please review it on iTunes, drop a comment below, or join the awesome conversation on Facebook (Wine For Normal People page) and Twitter @normalwine! If you̵ [...]
Feb 23, 2012
Ep 040: Tasting Wine To Get The Most Out of It
M.C. Ice and I are so grateful for all the wonderful feedback! As usual, we celebrate and thank you for your support by going through shout outs from iTunes, Facebook, and Twitter — all amazing! We appreciate you all so much. Then, we address a question that I’ve been hearing a ton lately: What kind of additives are in wine? (As a preview, they’re not related to Velveeta or Cheese Whiz, even though the name “additive” evokes those highly-processed foods!). For the main topic, this week we take a practical look at how to taste wine to get more out of your experience. We get down & dirty, giving you new ideas on how to evaluate what you’re tasting. Why it’s important to look at the wine, swirl it, smell it, and what to look for while tasting. Our goal: have you slow down the process of tasting so you can figure out what you like and don’t like, so you can get more of the former and avoid the latter! If you lik [...]
Feb 14, 2012
Ep 039: Spain
After some fabulous shout outs (thank you so much!) and a great listener question on “why do wines go on sale? (a little inside the industry on this one!), this week we cover Spain. First we brush up on history, covering how the Phoenicians, Moors, and a Facist dictator affected Spain’s wine industry Then we talk about the different quality levels — we explain the differences from table wines to the top quality designation, all of which will appear on the bottle Finally, we do an overview of what you can get expect from some of the top regions. If you are interested in Spain, but don’t know where to start, this podcast is for you! If you like the podcast, please review it on iTunes, drop a comment on the Wine For Normal People blog, or join the awesome conversation on Facebook (Wine For Normal People page) and Twitter @normalwine! Also, if you’ve got a question you want us to answer, post it on any of those places and we’ll include it on the show [...]
Feb 04, 2012
Ep 038: Alphabet Soup…The Business of Wine Certifications
This week we go inside the wine industry again! We start with some amazing shout outs from iTunes, Twitter, and Facebook. Thanks for all the positive feedback! Then we tackle a robust listener question that pulls the curtain back on the wine industry. Elizabeth shares firsthand information about big conglomerates’ wines that she learned while working for one of these companies! We address the quality, the marketing, & how to figure out what they own. Then we cover the certifications that people in the wine industry love to tout, what they really mean, and our take on the pyramid schemes of these certification groups: The certifications that Pliny the Elder, Ausonius, Thomas Jefferson, and other wine experts throughout history earned/certifications’ place in wine history. The wine-service-oriented Court of Master Sommeliers and the different levels they offer The Society of Wine Educators and the Certified Specialist of Wine and Certified Wine Educator The Wine and Spi [...]
Jan 25, 2012
Ep 037 Sherry: A Crazy Good Wine That Too Few People Drink
After a bunch of awesome shout outs (thank you all so much) and a listener question about Viognier “blooming” in the glass, we get to it. In this episode we talk about Sherry — and let you in on something you need to go out and get, before everyone else figures out how great it is and the prices go up! Here’s a top level summary: We’re on a sherry kick – MC Ice explains why he’s a convert We answer the question — Sherry: What the hell is it? and discuss how it’s not just for bad 70s TV stars We talk about the “Sherry Triangle” in Southern Spain and how the stuff is made, including the different types and what they go with, food-wise. We top it off with a note on the best darn dessert combination out there — Pedro Ximenez Sherry and ice cream (divine!) and wrap it up! If you like the podcast, please review it on iTunes, drop a comment below or join the awesome conversation on Facebook (Wine For Normal People [...]
Jan 15, 2012
Ep 036: Common Winemaking Terms Defined
To start 2012, we’ve got new music and some great news! We were chosen as “Best New Arts Podcast” in Apple’s 2011 Rewind! Thanks to everyone for loyal listening in 2011 and we look forward to a great 2012. After some shout outs and great reviews, we tackle common winemaking terms and define them. A dorky, but fun episode! Here are some quick notes on the show: If you ever wondered exactly what stuff like residual sugar, malolactic fermentation, sur lie aging, maceration, natural yeast fermentation, disgorgement and riddling, and bottle shock are, you are in luck! We address listener questions on aging Champagne and on sur lie. The Grape of the Week is Chenin Blanc. The new music is “Café connection” by morgantj / CC BY 3.0, ©2009 - Licensed under Creative Commons  Attribution (3.0). Let us know if you like it, and if you’re a mixmaster and want us to use your bumper music instead, send it over and we’ll give it a listen! If you l [...]
Jan 08, 2012
Ep 035: Wine Traditions for New Year’s

Wine Traditions around the world are pretty interesting. In this episode we discuss the coolest ones. First we take a listener question from @mjgraves on Twitter about when to drink Cabernet Sauvignon. (Write in or call us and you’ll be on the show!!!  Anything goes! Call 800-599-8478 (in the U.S.) or 1-415-226-9105 and dial extension 5 to leave your question for the Wine For Normal People Podcast, and they’ll answer it in an upcoming episode!) Spanish Traditions and Cava Italian Traditions and Prosecco/Franciacorta Chilean Traditions and gold rings in the bubbles, Portuguese Traditions and Vinho Verde, Germany and Sekt, French Champagne, English speaking countries = boozing it up and fireworks. Grape of the week: Pinot Meunier Listen and you’ll get why I’ll be lugging a suitcase around my block at midnight, while shoving some grapes in my mouth! If you like the podcast, please review it on iTunes, drop a comment on the Wine For Normal People blog, or join [...]

Dec 30, 2011
Ep 034: Wine Gift Ideas

Just in time for the holidays: Wine Gift Ideas!!! This week, Elizabeth and MC Ice talk about 4 kinds of gifts to get for the wine lover/liker/drinker in your life… Gadgets: The most useful, must-haves (not just random crap you buy just to buy!). Credit to listener Sayle Milne who provided the suggestion on wine charms! Glassware: The three kinds someone really needs and a few recommendations on what to look for and what to avoid. Books. From Facebook friend Brandon Robinson, they cover books: Elizabeth’s aversion to “Fun” wine books, three reference books for real wine dorks, and a shameless plug for the upcoming “Wine For Normal People” book (and shout to Elizabeth’s fabulous agent Myrsini!). And, drum roll…you didn’t think they’d cover all this stuff and forget the WINE, did you? They discuss strategies for shopping for wine as a gift — from in-store selections to wine clubs to the horror of wine shipping law [...]

Dec 15, 2011
Ep 033: The Grape Mini-Series — Cabernet Sauvignon

They’re back at it — the Grape Miniseries makes a triumphant return! While drinking a rather skunked and old Napa version, MC Ice and Elizabeth tackle the King of the Reds: Cabernet Sauvignon. If you like Elizabeth’s dork out moments… get ready. Here are a few summary points: Elizabeth geeks out on the grape, talking about the history and the viticulture of Cabernet Sauvignon (everything from torrid vineyard love affairs to Pliny the Elder to methoxypyrazines). Elizabeth and MC Ice try to cover everything you ever wanted to know about Cabernet from the most famous regions around the world: - Old World: Bordeaux, Italy, Spain, and other parts of Europe - New World: California (Napa, Sonoma), Washington, Oregon, Long Island, South America (Chile, Argentina), Australia, South Africa They cover food and wine pairing and MC Ice gets really excited about the marriage of Cabernet and food. (the chemical reaction of tannin and filet fascinates him) And here&# [...]

Dec 07, 2011
Ep 032: The Urban Tribe, Food and Wine Pairing Revisited, and Thanksgiving Wines

Yep, we’re throwing it down with the rest of the wine world…but doing it the normal way. It’s a family time, so MC Ice and Elizabeth huddle ’round the mic to share some ideas about Thanksgiving wine. Shout outs from Facebook, iTunes, and email (elizabeth(at)winefornormalpeople(dot)com) It’s a tough holiday for wine, but great to be with Urban Tribe or family (Elizabeth explains the Urban Tribe, and how it differs from being a Member of the Tribe) MC Ice talks about a dessert that he’ll never eat again Wine Pairing Horses of the Apocalypse: Why food and wine pairing is tough for Thanksgiving Elizabeth waxes poetic on pairing philosophy — it’s not just about the meat! The Brass Tacks: Elizabeth and MC Ice discuss pairings for Thanksgiving — why the standard recommendations work, and why some other wines should be on the menu. They discuss everything from traditional Thanksgiving food to smoked and fried turkey, to spicy glazed ham. Eli [...]

Nov 21, 2011
Ep 031: Bargain Wines

Elizabeth and MC Ice are back from hiatus this week. We start with  a thanks to everyone for their hospitality on our Napa/Sonoma Harvest trip! Elizabeth is chronicling it on the blog, so check it out for details! Shout outs from iTunes — amazing new reviews! And a shout out from a listener to Ellie, the dog! Main Topic: Bargain Wines Thanks to Leslie Strolla for the topic! Defining what we mean: Cheap v. Bargain The top bargains from Europe: places where people speak Spanish, Bordeaux (yup, that’s right), some Southern Italian gems BAD values…you’ll have to tune in to find out what Elizabeth says aren’t great for your wallet The top bargains from English speaking countries: 1 part of California, and down under… White v. red — which is a better bargain? Elizabeth gives her take Some info on the sausage factory (or the bait and switch business that happens in the world of cheap wine…) Write to Elizabeth if you know of a great bargain: e [...]

Nov 15, 2011
Kickin’ It With Jim Morris from Michel-Schlumberger

This week Elizabeth takes advantage of her time in Sonoma and sits down with Jim Morris of Michel-Schlumberger in the Dry Creek Valley. They have an awesome time together, discussing tons of great stuff…including some good gossip about how NOT to behave in a tasting room. Here are the high level show notes: Jim gives some background on Michel-Schlumberger — its European roots, its winemaking philosophy, and why it’s such a unique place (hint: they are really normal and focus on education — totally up Elizabeth’s alley!).  Jim posits it’s his lederhosen that make the wine so great. Elizabeth and Jim drill down on organic farming in practice. They get their hands dirty, dishing on honey bees, cover crops, and dog on the big wineries, talking about why sustainability should be called sustain-BULL-ity. Elizabeth puts Jim on the spot and gets him to tell a wild story about a cross-dresser, and what NOT to do in a tasting room. They discuss the ins and [...]

Nov 06, 2011
Ep 029 Just Desserts (Wine, That Is)

This week, Elizabeth and Rick explore the sweeter side of wine, talking about some of the major dessert wines you may be wondering about. They discuss everything from the NASCAR grape to why rot is so awesome in dessert wine… Here are the show notes: Port: The big daddy of dessert wine A shout out to sweet Champagne…en vogue again Madeira: Thomas Jefferson’s favorite Sherry: Not an old-lady drink Vin doux Naturel – not really naturally sweet, but tasty nonetheless Why moldy grapes make kick-ass wine everywhere from Germany to Hungary A word on late harvest wines Please drop a comment on the Wine For Normal People Blog or Facebook Page. Dig the podcast? Please review us on iTunes and we’ll give you a shout out! Sponsored by the free Hello Vino app (wine recommendations on the iPhone or Android) [...]

Oct 03, 2011
Ep 028 Five Ways to Discover New Wines

If you’re interested in discovering some new wines based on your taste preferences, and you’re not afraid to break the habit of “going with what you know”, then Elizabeth and Rick have five easy ways for you to discover some new favorites. Show Notes: Some fun shout-outs from our friends who left reviews on iTunes and comments on the Facebook page Main Topic - How to experiment with new wines: Follow the grape (the “you might also like” method) Regional similarities and differences Discovering similar wines from different blends Using food & wine pairing suggestions from apps and web sites Your local wine shop (but beware of bad advice!!) Listener Question - Sayle Milne calls in with a question about “corkage” fees Grape of the Week - Muscat (and Moscato is one of the most popular wines this year!) Call us and you will be on the show!!! Do you have a wine-related question for Elizabeth? Anything goes! Call 800-599-8478 (in the U. [...]

Sep 21, 2011
Ep 027 Top 7 Fun Facts About Wine

This week Rick and Elizabeth give you some awesome and random facts about wine that you can pull out at a party, family function, or anywhere else you need to make small talk! Elizabeth dorks out on wine history and stumps Rick on the Latin name for the Grape of the Week. Here are the show notes: We start with a few shoutouts to awesome reviews on iTunes and fun comments on Facebook And we answer another listener question! We want you to Call us!!! Do you have a wine-related question for Elizabeth? Anything goes! Call 800-599-8478 (in the U.S.) or 1-415-226-9105 and dial extension 5 to leave your question for the Wine For Normal People Podcast, and we will play it on the show! Listener Question - from Scott of MA (Rick’s home state!) Main Topic - Fun Facts About Wine (or, Wine Trivia) Aroma v. Bouquet: What are they…really? Wine History: Paranoia about poisoning — the origins of “drinking to your health” — and, the potential origins of the word &# [...]

Sep 14, 2011
Ep 026 Sparkling Wine - More Than Just Champagne

This week, Rick and Elizabeth dive into sparkling wine, and explain why bringing on the Bub is always a good idea. We start with a few shoutouts to awesome reviews on iTunes and fun comments on Facebook. And we answer another listener question! We want you to Call us!!! Do you have a wine-related question for Elizabeth? Anything goes! Call 800-599-8478 (in the U.S.) or 1-415-226-9105 and dial extension 5 to leave your question for the Wine For Normal People Podcast, and we will play it on the show! Listener Question - from Saul (NY, USA) Main Topic - Sparkling Wine Quick Hit on How Sparkling Wine is Made (very brief) The Big One: Champagne Cremant (from Loire, Limoux, Alsace) Cava (Spanish Sparkler) Prosecco, Franciacorta Sparkling Wine from USA Rosé Champagne and Sweetness Levels Please drop a comment on the Wine For Normal People Blog or Facebook Page. Dig the podcast? Please review us on iTunes and we’ll give you a shout out! Sponsored by the free Hello Vino app (wine [...]

Sep 05, 2011
Ep 025 Top 7 Wine Myths DEBUNKED!

This week, Elizabeth and Rick play the ‘Wine Mythbusters’ and debunk the top 7 myths of the wine world. Expensive wines, France, and cigars are just a few of the topics covered in this episode. We start with a few shoutouts to awesome reviews on iTunes for the show! Amazing stuff! A new and fabulous piece of “old school” technology for the Wine For Normal People Podcast… Call us!!! Do you have a wine-related question for Elizabeth? Anything goes! Call 800-599-8478 (in the U.S.) or 1-415-226-9105 and dial extension 5 to leave your question for the Wine For Normal People Podcast, and we will play it on the show! Listener Question - from Brandy in the UK Main Topic - Top 7 Wine Myths DEBUNKED! We cover these topics: Flavors in Wine Aging Wines Expensive Wines French Wine Cigars & Wine High Scoring Wines (and Wine Critics) Screw Caps (vs. Corks) Grape of the Week - Tempranillo And a special and amazing thanks to Sean Amann for creating an awesome intr [...]

Aug 17, 2011
Ep 024: The Grape Miniseries…Chardonnay

And finally, we tackle the big dog of the whites: Chardonnay. So many styles, so little time. MC Ice steps in while Rick is on summer break! Here are the show notes… Some fun facts about the Chardonnay grape (the real dorky stuff and some surprising things about how boring the grape is on its own…) Typical profiles of the Old World v. New World Styles Major (and not so major) growing regions in the Old World: Burgundy, Champagne, Northern Italy, Austria, Germany, Eastern Europe Major growing regions in the New World: South America, South Africa, Australia, California A word on food and Chardonnay pairing… Chardonnay is such a huge topic that we couldn’t do anything but brush the surface. If you’ve got questions post them on  Facebook or Tweet us @Normalwine Like this? Then, tell the world: Please drop a comment on the Wine For Normal People Blog or Facebook Page. Dig the podcast? Please review us on iTunes and we’ll give you a shout out! Sponsore [...]

Aug 14, 2011
Ep 023 Wine Translations - What Are You Drinking?

Not only do “Old World” (Europe) and the “New World” (everywhere else) have different approaches to making wine, it carries through right to the way they name stuff. This week, Rick and Elizabeth help explain the reason for this and cover some major European wine names and what’s actually in them… All are grapes you know and love, just masquerading as some other name. Here are the show notes: Shout-Outs -Amazing reviews on iTunes, posts on the Facebook page, comments on the blog, and replies on Twitter Main topic: A quick explanation of why Europeans name wines by place… it’s all about the Romans The whites: Chablis, Condrieu, Vouvray, Sancerre and more The reds: Bordeaux, Burgundy, Cote Rotie, Barolo, Rioja, and more And grape of the week: Torrontes - the floral, peachy, yet acidic white of Argentina Please drop a comment on the Wine For Normal People Blog or Facebook Page. Dig the podcast? Please review us on iTunes and we’ll gi [...]

Jul 22, 2011
Ep 022 How to Read a Wine Label

Have you ever stared blankly at a wine label and wondered what the wine was in the bottle? Elizabeth and Rick take you through an easy-to-understand approach to reading a wine label when making your next purchase. Show Notes: Shout-Outs -Awesome reviews on iTunes, posts on the Facebook page, comments on the blog, and replies on Twitter Main Topic - How to Read a Wine Label A cameo from Ellie the dog Information on the Label: Vintage Alcohol Content Warnings Country of Origin Producer/Importer Regions & Appellations “New World” Wine Labels (U.S., Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, etc.) European Wine Labels & How to Decipher Them German Wine Labels (Always a Challenge) How a Wine Label Reads Like a Beauty Product Back Labels: Beware of the B.S. Coming Soon - The Q&A Show: Ask your questions on Facebook or the blog Send us questions, comments, and some love on Twitter @NormalWine Drop a comment on the Wine for Normal People blog Dig the podcast? Pleas [...]

Jul 15, 2011
Ep 021 The Grape Mini Series: Pinot Noir

Do you love Pinot Noir? Then, this episode is for you! Elizabeth and Rick chat about the different styles of Pinot Noir from all over the world, and help point out which Pinot Noir may be perfect for you. Show Notes: Shout-outs - Fun comments on the Facebook page, Wine for Normal People Blog, and on Twitter How to pick the perfect Pinot Noir when shopping for wine Different flavor profiles/styles of Pinot Noir Popular regions that grow Pinot Noir: Burgundy Carneros (Napa & Sonoma) Russian River Valley (Sonoma) Central Coast New Zealand Oregon (Ora-gone / Or-again, depending on how you pronounce it) Germany (where it’s called Spätburgunder) Australia Champagne (typically blush/rosé sparkling wine from this region) And a special invitation to an online wine tasting with Elizabeth & Rick Send us questions, comments, and some love on Twitter @NormalWine Drop a comment on the Wine for Normal People blog Dig the podcast? Please review us on iTunes and we’ll give y [...]

Jul 08, 2011
Ep 020 Best Wines for the 4th of July & Summer Wine Picks

Need some wine recommendations for your 4th of July and Summer outings? Elizabeth and Rick suggest some red, white, and rose wines along with some food pairings and gift ideas. Show Notes: A new, shorter intro to get right into the good stuff Main Topic - Wines for 4th of July festivities and other Summer sippers Red Wines - Pairing suggestions for grilled foods, light reds for sipping, and which red wines to bring as gifts White Wines - Refreshing choices for the Summer heat, some food pairing ideas, and which white wines would go over well at a party Rosé Wines - Not all are created equal… We provide some tips on picking the best rosé wines Grape of the Week - Grenache (or Garnacha): The flavor profiles and a little history on the grape Have you tried a Grenache/Garnacha? If so, join the conversation on the Facebook page Send us questions, comments, and some love on Twitter @NormalWine Drop a comment on the Wine for Normal People blog Dig the podcast? Please review us on [...]

Jun 30, 2011
Ep 019 How A Grape Becomes A Wine

Shoutouts to friends on Twitter, Facebook, iTunes, and commenters on email and on the blog Main Topic: How a Grape Becomes a Wine The Goal: to talk about the important factors in winemaking without getting too technical! We focus more about where flavor comes from in the process. It all starts in the vineyard: the importance of terroir Grape flavors Destemming and crushing and what they do to flavor Fermentation and how yeast can change the taste of wine Malolactic fermentation: What it is and why it matters Aging, another word on oak, and the tale of dead yeast Blending and why the winemaker is an artist Hope this one is helpful without being too dorky! Please leave us your feedback at the Wine for Normal People blog, on the Wine For Normal People Facebook Page, and on Twitter @normalwine Sponsored by the free Hello Vino mobile app (iPhone & Android) Tweet This [...]

Jun 25, 2011
Ep 018 The Grape Mini Series: Merlot

Show notes:*** Shoutouts to friends on Twitter, Facebook, iTunes, and commenters on email and on the blog Merlot (yes, the “t” is silent) Merlot: The Goldilocks wine — medium and great because of it! Descriptions of different styles of Merlot and why some of it is kind of bad and some is outstanding Merlot’s relationship with Cabernet Sauvignon A bit of background on this lovely grape — where it came from Growing regions and styles: France (Bordeaux), Italy, the Baltic states, New Zealand, Australia, and US (Washington State and CA) A little on food pairing Prestigious producers of Merlot Please leave us your feedback at the Wine for Normal People blog, on the Wine For Normal People Facebook Page, and on Twitter @normalwine Sponsored by the free Hello Vino mobile app (iPhone & Android) ***Program note/Correction: In this episode, Elizabeth mistakenly says Merlot is grown in the “Baltic states” when s [...]

Jun 13, 2011
Episode 017 The Grape Mini-Series Installment 1: Sauvignon Blanc

In homage to the great TV trend of the 1980s, we begin a mini-series on the big grapes from around the world. We’re moving beyond Grape of the Week to go in depth on the wine major league that you ask the most questions about. This week’s episode is on Sauvignon Blanc, just in time for the warm summer weather!! Show Notes: Main Topic -Sauvignon Blanc The Sauvignon Blanc grape, its origins, flavor profile, and why methoxypyrazines and cat pee aren’t such bad things in this grape. We then drilled down into the main regions that produce Sauvignon Blanc and talk about differences in styles: Sancerre/Pouilly- Fume for minerally wines that strip the enamel off your teeth (but are delicious) Napa, California for a softer, floral style, sometimes with an oaky twist Marlborough, New Zealand, for excellent  grapefruit flavors, acid, and even a jalapeno kick Bordeaux for a softer blend with Semillon and Muscade [...]

Jun 04, 2011
Episode 16: The Wine Industry — The True Hollywood Story

Another great podcast with Elizabeth and guest host M.C. Ice (thanks again for co-hosting!) Shoutouts to friends on Twitter, Facebook, and commenters the blog Main topic: Inside the Wine Industry · How does the wine industry work? – Regulation, the three tier system, and how it functions A few ways you can get into the industry if you want to pursue it as a career The real scoop — Elizabeth’s opinions on how it’s far from glitz and glamour. Elizabeth and M.C. Ice share some personal experiences and tell it how it really is Personalities in the wine industry — from the veteran to the lifestyle junkie, to the snobs, you’ll find it all in this biz To sum it all up: think long and hard before diving into the wine industry…it’s not too much different from any other business, despite what it looks like from the outside! And…The Grape of the Week is Cabernet Franc Join the conversation on Facebook or on the Wine For Normal Pe [...]

May 12, 2011
Episode 015 Wine Shopping 101 — How to break down a wine store

Rick takes a week off, so Elizabeth and special guest M.C. Ice discuss how to shop for wine so you walk out of the store with what you need and want. Show Notes: Shout-outs - Some great Twitter replies and Facebook posts Main Topic M.C. Ice confronts his fear of the Wall of Wine (WoW) and admits that he shops by label This time it’s personal: Elizabeth takes the bull by the horns and tries to teach M.C. Ice how to break down the store so he starts bringing home some better wines! Elizabeth and M.C. Ice talk about the key questions to ask yourself before you even get in the store? “Why am I here?” is a good place to start. Shopping with a purpose is essential. They then get into the importance of deciding on the type of wine you want — from color, to sweetness level, to weight, to style by wine producing country. Grape of the Week: Verdejo from Rueda in North Central Spain — a great alternative white, kind of like Sauvignon Blanc, but with a bite. Shar [...]

Apr 28, 2011
Ep 014 Organic, Biodynamic, and Sustainable Wines - Do you care?

You may have seen the terms “organic”, “biodynamic”, or “sustainable” on the wine label, and wondered what they actually mean. Elizabeth and Rick define these terms and explain the differences, and also call out some winemakers. Show Notes: Shout-outs - Some great Twitter replies, comments on the blog, iTunes reviews, and Facebook posts Main Topic - Organic, Biodynamic, and Sustainable Wines Sustainable - Not certified… but maybe it should be Organic - A certification for certain winegrowing practices Biodynamic - Definitely some weird science going on - a must listen! Let Us Know (on Facebook) - Does “organic”, “biodynamic”, or “sustainable” matter to you? Grape of the Week - Grüner Veltliner (GROO-nah velt-LEE-nah) Next Week - A special spotlight on Pinot Noir Sponsored by the free Hello Vino mobile app (iPhone & Android) More at the Wine for Normal People blog Tweet This [...]

Apr 15, 2011
Ep 013 Food and Wine Pairing - The Great Controversy

The mystical subject of food and wine pairing… Is it an art form? Is it chemistry? Is it all nonsense? Elizabeth and Rick answer these questions, spark some controversy, and provide some guidance to help make sure your next meal and wine selection are perfect. Show Notes: Shout-outs - Some really funny Twitter replies, comments on the blog, and Facebook posts Main Topic - Food and Wine Pairing The great controversy - should we drink what we like? Elizabeth’s metaphor for food and wine matching Some basic rules to remember The regional influence on food and wine pairing Dessert!! Should you drink wine with sweets? Grape (or Wine Style) of the Week - Rosé (roh-ZAY) How rosé wines are made Grapes from which rosé is made Well-known regions for producing rosé wines Typical flavor profiles of rosé Sponsored by the free Hello Vino mobile app (iPhone & Android) More at the Wine for Normal People blog Tweet This [...]

Apr 01, 2011
Ep 012 Wine Etiquette - What NOT To Do at a Wine Tasting

Believe it or not, there are some unwritten rules about tasting wine in a formal setting.  Whether you’re at a winery, wine bar, or a fancy dinner, Elizabeth and Rick help by explaining ‘wine etiquette’. Show Notes: Thanks to Matt and Brandy for leaving comments on the blog and giving us the idea for this show topic Huge props to Steve Paulo at Notes from the Cellar - an awesome wine blog that previously covered 8 Rules for Visiting Tasting Rooms (it’s a great read!!) Shout-outs - Awesome reviews on iTunes, the blog, and the Facebook page Main Topic - Wine Etiquette When presented a wine, what do you do with the cork? Does it matter if you hold the wine glass properly? What are the best questions to ask at a wine tasting? Should you spit out your wine at a tasting? The difference between wine tasting rooms and wine bars Should you always finish your glass of wine? Should you tip the sommelier, or not tip on alcohol? When visiting a tasting room, are you obli [...]

Mar 25, 2011
Ep 011 How to Speak to a Sommelier

Credit: Flickr In addition to going over the correct pronunciation of sum-muhl-YAY (and sharing a few fun mispronunciations), Elizabeth and Rick provide some tips to help you have a productive conversation with the sommelier at a restaurant.  We hope to make your wine ordering experience much more enjoyable and less intimidating. Show Notes: Shout-outs - Some awesome comments posted on the blog, Facebook page, Twitter, and also iTunes News - We’re number one! We’re number one! The U.S. ramps up their wine consumption. Main Topic - How to speak to a sommelier The correct pronunciation of sum-muhl-YAY (thanks to Different levels of wine expertise The surprising etymology of the word “sommelier” Ordering from the wine list, and what to ask the sommelier How ordering wine is like choosing kitchen cabinets What to do if your sommelier is a jerk Grape of the Week - Sauvignon Blanc Next Week - It’s a surprise!! Sponsored by the free Hello Vino m [...]

Mar 18, 2011
Ep 010 What is Terroir? Part 2: Aspects of terroir and why they matter

Back for part two on the topic of terroir (teh-RWAH), but this time Elizabeth and Rick talk about the different aspects of terroir and why they make a difference in wines produced from different regions. Show Notes: Thank you’s - Please keep posting your comments on the Facebook page Main Topic - Aspects of terroir: Location Climate Weather Soil …and other nuances Grape of the Week - Cabernet Sauvignon (again, but this time influenced by the terroir of Bordeaux) Next Week -How to talk to a sommelier (that wine expert at the restaurant) Sponsored by the free Hello Vino mobile app (iPhone & Android) More at the Wine for Normal People blog Tweet This [...]

Mar 11, 2011
Ep 009 What is Terroir? Part 1: It’s not just a fancy French wine term

Terroir (teh-RWAH) - It’s a HUGE topic in the wine world, and not without controversy. In this first segment, Elizabeth and Rick define terroir and its effect on wine. Show Notes: Shout-outs - More awesome feedback from our friends on Facebook, the blog, and on iTunes! Wine News - We skipped this week’s news to make room for the big main topic… Main Topic - What is Terroir? - A loaded question How to pronounce it correctly What does it mean (translation)? Its effect on wine (can you actually taste terroir?!) The big controversy - Is terroir a bunch of hooey? The origins of terroir (a bit of history) Grape of the Week - Cabernet Sauvignon (and its differences in terroir) Next Week - Terroir Part 2: Its different aspects and why terroir matters Sponsored by the free Hello Vino mobile app (iPhone & Android) More at the Wine for Normal People blog Tweet This [...]

Mar 04, 2011
Ep 008 Wine Gadgets and Glasses - Do they make a difference?

With no shortage of wine-related gadgets, not to mention all the different shapes and sizes of wine glasses, there can be some confusion as to which products actually make a difference when enjoying wine. Elizabeth and Rick debunk some myths and share their experiences with wine gadgetry. Show Notes: Shout-outs - Some excellent emails, blog comments, and posts on the Facebook page Wine News - A headache-free wine?! Could this be true? Main Topic - Gadgets & Glassware (Do they make a difference?) Wine Glasses - White, Red, and Sparkling Aerators & Decanters - such as the Wine Soiree Preservers - keep your wine from turning into vinegar Openers - which work best? Chillers - In case you don’t have a fridge in your home Wine Stain Remover - an absolute must-have! Grape of the Week - Albarino (also, Alvarinho) Next Week - We tackle “terroir” (and how to pronounce it) Sponsored by the free Hello Vino mobile app (iPhone & Android) More at the Wine for Norm [...]

Feb 25, 2011
Ep 007 Old World vs New World Wines - What’s the difference?

You may have heard people reference ‘Old World’ and ‘New World’ when talking about wine.  In this episode, Elizabeth and Rick define all of the characteristics to help you figure out which of these wine styles you may like. Show Notes: Shout-outs - Some excellent comments on the blog, Twitter friends, and Facebook Show Topic Ideas - Make sure to post your ideas to the Facebook page Wine News - Younger wine drinkers (and their tastes) are influencing winemakers Main Topic - Old World vs. New World (broken down with a normal explanation) How ‘terroir’ helps define old world vs. new world (and what ‘terroir’ means) Differences in weather between the old world and new world, and its impact on wine Grape of the Week - Riesling (an incredibly versatile white wine grape) Riesling growing in popularity; which regions are most popular The common flavor profiles for Riesling (Dry, Demi-Dry, Semi-Sweet, Sweet) Regions of the world that grow Riesl [...]

Feb 19, 2011
Episode 006 Top 10 Snobby Wine Terms (Defined)

Confused by wine terminology?  Elizabeth and Rick define some of the most common terms and descriptors thrown around at wine tastings and dinner parties. Show Notes: News - Robert Parker no longer reviewing California wines (and why this matters) Top 10 Snobby Wine Terms & Their Meanings (listen for Elizabeth’s colorful definitions): Dusty Minerality Gamey Tannic Acidic Dry (and the opposite: Sweet) Sweet Finish Bouquet Tight Did we miss any snobby wine terms?  Tell us in the comments Grape of the Week - Chardonnay (and all its flavor variations) Take the Wine Sisterhood survey about wine-related mobile apps Next week’s topic: It’s up to you! Drop a comment on the Wine for Normal People Blog with your questions or show ideas Sponsored by the free Hello Vino mobile app (iPhone & Android) More at the Wine for Normal People blog Tweet This [...]

Feb 11, 2011
Episode 005 Aging Wines - How to know when to hold em

So, you just bought an incredibly expensive bottle of wine. Do you let it age, or drink it now? Elizabeth and Rick help explain what characteristics allow for a wine to be aged, the ideal storage conditions, and name some wines that will age well. Show Notes: Shout-outs - iTunes reviewers and comments on the blog News - Wine “Flash Sale” sites and which are best Aging wine - Which wines can age, how to age them, and for how long? Should you age wine, or should you drink when you’re thirsty? Grape of the Week: Zinfandel (and its unique origin) Flavor profiles for Zinfandel - both red and white zin (ok, pink) Next week - Wine terminology and definitions (understanding the snobs) Sponsored by the free Hello Vino mobile app (iPhone & Android) More at the Wine for Normal People blog Tweet This [...]

Feb 04, 2011
Episode 004 Trendy Wines - The Wine Popularity Contest

Just like fashion, wines can be trendy. Elizabeth and Rick discuss the most popular wines of 2010 and which wine trends will be popular in the coming year. Show Notes: News - Americans are drinking more wine! Consumers - baby boomers and their millennial children Wine trends - which wines are people drinking? Wine pronunciation and ordering from the wine list Most popular wines searches in the Hello Vino app Grape of the Week: Pinot Noir (also known as the “heartbreak grape”) Trends in flavor profiles (earthy vs. jammy wines, lower alcohol) The ‘Sideways’ movie and its influence Next week: Aging - how long to hold onto a wine before drinking Sponsored by the free Hello Vino mobile app (iPhone & Android) More at the Wine for Normal People blog Tweet This [...]

Jan 28, 2011
Episode 003 Oak and Wine - What’s the big deal?

Elizabeth and Rick cover everything you ever wanted to know about oak and its influence on wine, and then some. Plus, we define a few fancy wine terms to throw around at your next dinner party. Show Notes: News - New Zealand sets a lofty goal Shout out to Bosman van der Merwe Oak - The what, why, and how Flavor profiles, aging, and the good vs. bad uses of oak Some fun wine terminology Grape of the Week: Pinot Gris / Pinot Grigio Elizabeth’s radical proposition for Pinot Gris Differences in flavor profiles for Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio (lemon water, anyone?) Next week: Trendy wines Sponsored by the free Hello Vino mobile app (iPhone & Android) More at the Wine for Normal People blog Tweet This [...]

Jan 22, 2011
Episode 002 Recommendations - Which is the best wine?

A Twitter friend asks for a wine recommendation, Elizabeth and Rick break it down. Show Notes: Which wine is best? - A loaded question News - The iPhone is (finally) coming to Verizon Wine apps that help you pick a wine Wine is subjective - we like different wines for different reasons Breaking down the process - Color, Texture, Flavors, & types of wine Red wine vs. white wine Grape Spotlight: Syrah (or Shiraz, depending on a few things) Sponsored by the free Hello Vino mobile app (iPhone & Android) More at the Wine for Normal People blog Tweet This [...]

Jan 15, 2011
Episode 001 Wine Varietals vs. Varieties - Which is correct?

Elizabeth and Rick discuss some confusing wine terminology and set the record straight. Show Notes: A new podcast! What’s it all about? Which term is correct? Varietal or variety (of wine) It’s all about the grapes Naming conventions for wines across the world Difference between New World and Old World wines Blending wines and grape characteristics Making fun of confusing wine pronunciations It’s mer-a-TIJ not mer-a-TAHJ Sponsored by the free Hello Vino mobile app (iPhone & Android) More at the Wine for Normal People blog Tweet This [...]

Jan 08, 2011