Archive for the ‘Thinking about wine’ Category

Thoughts on “House Style”

Monday, January 3rd, 2011


Norm Beko. From: Cottonwood Canyon Vineyard & Winery

Norm Beko. From: Cottonwood Canyon Vineyard & Winery

There are those wine brands whose “House Style” – a unique and distinctive common stylistic thread – is present in all their wines. In the Central Coast, and Santa Barbara County in particular, there are a few producers who fit in this category.

There is the unabashedly Californian ripeness of Paul Lato and Joey Tensley‘s wines, the high-octane styling of Consilience‘s Brett Escalera and the powerful compositions of Greg Brewer‘s wines and the dazzling elegance of Dragonette wines. (more…)

Are you comfortable with the wine you prefer?

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010


"Yummy-Yucky". From:

"Yummy-Yucky". From:

Let’s face it: Wine – in its highest fidelity, finest form – is not for everybody.

Everyone has different preferences. Although some investigators seem to conclude that the basis of this is some vastly disparate difference in sensory physiology, I think it is more a mater of the smells and flavors you grew up with and liked and disliked (a function of the brain not the sensory detectors) shaping your preferences as an adult. (more…)

Ice cube wine

Monday, August 2nd, 2010


Ice cube wine. From:

Ice cube wine.

Each summer, the wine writing world produces articles about and lists of “picnic wines”, “summer wines”, “poolside wines”, “Labor Day wines”, etc,

I’d like to propose the category of “ice cube wines” as an all-year category.

I use this term to refer to wines that need to be poured over ice cubes because that improves their taste – both through chilling and dilution. (more…)

Ratings, serendipity and selling wine

Monday, March 29th, 2010


97 points.

97 points.

Today, on, Ben Simons thinks out loud about the place and utility of wine rating. I did a very light edit of this well-written piece. The day after I received the assignment, my Google alerts notified me about an article in a seemingly obscure journal in which the wine rating scale I had developed for is compared to some pretty formidable contenders. (more…)

Restrictive appellations are good

Monday, August 31st, 2009


Many a wine enthusiast (and Old World winemakers, no doubt) would thoroughly enjoy using the current Old World wine regulations, particularly the French ones, to light a fireplace. However, in the context of modern history of wine, these regulations are the reason why Old World wines are the global benchmarks – and for good reason.

Admittedly, these regulations are products of the early or mid-20th century legislation and they are plagued by shortcomings and weak points. In some cases, wines receive appellation status by virtue of the letter and not the spirit of the law. Nevertheless, there is rationale behind these rules. (more…)

“It takes you there.”

Monday, April 6th, 2009


"The apple cake recipe" by Jacek Yerka. From:

"The apple cake recipe" by Jacek Yerka

At a tasting seminar during a recent wine festival and while discussing different wines, a member of the audience said of a wine: “It takes you there”. Well, I’d like to know where to get those tickets.

The “somewhereness” of a wine or any other produced beverage; that character which unmistakably conveys the essence of the place where it was grown and produced, is believed by some to transport one to the place of the drink’s origin. I have always believed that this can only happen if one really knows something about the nature of the place where the drink originates. Even then, there is not necessarily any part of that place contained in the liquid one sips. (more…)

Sparkling wines = Sex

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009


Veuve Cliquot Rosé in chiller

Veuve Cliquot Rosé in chiller

Sparkling wines, in many western minds, seem to be inextricable from the celebratory setting. I think this goes beyond precedents and traditions set by tales of debauchery at the widow’s estate. There is something about the effusive nature of bubbly that is visceral in ways that go beyond what is acceptable in polite company.

But I am not polite company.

I guess the American wine consumer of all ranks is having trouble extricating their definition of sparkling wine from rap videos and NASCAR winner’s circles. But it’s not uniquely American to think of sparklers as celebratory. (more…)