Archive for the ‘Culture of wine’ Category

It’s pronounced “tsurl-YEN-ak”

Thursday, February 17th, 2011


It’s pronounced “tsurl-YEN-ak”. (Screen capture from You Tube)

It’s pronounced “tsurl-YEN-ak”. (Screen capture from You Tube)

Last week, the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance released a video promoting the upcoming Paso Robles Zinfandel Festival (taking place March 18 to 20). This video spoofs the wildly popular Old Spice Guy ads.

The one and half minute, high-production-value video is well-done, entertaining, fun and gets viewers excited about the upcoming event. As it should.

BUT…… (more…)

Pneumonia’s Last Syrah

Friday, November 5th, 2010


Fermenting Montepulciano must. Photo: Arthur Z Przebinda

Fermenting Montepulciano must. Photo: Arthur Z Przebinda

This year, I will be making two small batches of wine as practice for making wine from my own home vineyard. My first lot, 13.5 gallons of Suisun Valley Montepulciano is already fermenting and should make for about 10 gallons of finished wine.

This weekend I will purchase some Syrah from the Santa Ynez Valley. I will not be able to drink all the wine I make, so I’d like to put it to good use. (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…)

Spontaneous fermentation

Monday, July 26th, 2010


Wild yeast. From:

Wild yeast. From:

Questions regarding the role and reliability of fermentation without inoculation are going to be with us for quite some time.

Today, on, Erika Szymanski provides a well done layperson’s overview of the issue. I had the pleasure of editing this piece.

I had written about these questions in a three-part series about two years ago. (more…)

Basics of “palate” training

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009


Keying Up - the Court Jester. By William Merritt Chase. From:

Keying Up - the Court Jester.

I am a strong proponent of the idea that education is the best way to empower people as wine consumers. That certainly is a challenging task, which is why so many take the lower-resistance path of “democratizing” or “de-mystifying” wine.

These approaches often end up oversimplifying the subject as to not challenge anyone. Many approaches end up telling people that there is really no consensus about wine character and thus there is no way to organize and assimilate information which would quality benchmark for wine.

Combine this with the idea that wine writing must somehow be entertaining and you either end up with material straight out of Idiocracy, or find yourself putting more of your efforts into the shtick rather than the message.

Nevertheless, all approaches seem to endorse some notion of training one’s “palate”. Now, it’s been a while since I graduated from med school, but I’m pretty sure that the palate is not an organ of olfactory or gustatory sensation. (more…)


Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009



It seems revolt and change are teeming in so many places these days. Wine culture – and wine writing, in particular – is no exception.

I left Poland in late December of 1980. Although tension had been mounting and change had been brewing for some time; shortly after our departure, things spiraled down: Economic hardships, empty store shelves, public unrest, protests, water cannons, beatings and arrests.

The regime contained and suppressed it but things were never the same and a few years later there finally came a breakthrough. A similar situation is playing out in Iran. So, it is my ardent hope that the Iranian people achieve their breakthrough – whatever they want that to be. (more…)