Rosé wine—mostly dry wine, that is—pairs great with a wide range of food. In fact it’s one of the best pairing wines there is.  Rosé wine is a “bridge” between red and white wine, and don’t think “plonk” or White Zinfandel; Rosés can be sophisticated and fairly expensive, frankly, such as Domaines Ott, which Sherry-Lehmann in Manhattan calls the “gold standard” and sells for about forty bucks a bottle.  Wines with just a hint of sweetness can be great pairs, because let’s face it, a lot of the food we eat has a little sweetness to it: BBQ sauce on ribs, tomato sauce on pasta, and glaze for Asian foods.  Rosés are great for all these. BTW, Rosés from Spain…

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As I write this I’m sipping a glass of Pine Ridge’s 2009 Chenin Blanc/Viognier.  But make no mistake, this piece is about Champagne. I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Chantal Bregeon-Gonet, who with her brother Pierre Gonet run the Champagne House Philippe Gonet. This house specializes in Blanc de Blancs made entirely from Chardonnay, and their annual production is only about 200,000 bottles or about 17,000 cases. That may sound like a lot of wine, but to give you a reference point, one of the “Grand Marques” – Moet et Chandon – produces about 26 million bottles, or 2.2 million cases each year. You probably already know and have tasted wines from one of these big producers –…

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Champagne isn't only for New Year's Eve, weddings of people you love and funerals of people you didn't.  Here's a quote from Lily Bollinger of the famous producer family of the same name, which perfectly captures all the reasons you should drink it: "I drink champagne when I'm happy and when I'm sad. Sometimes I drink it when I'm alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I'm not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise I never touch it - unless I'm thirsty." You probably already know or at least have heard of the big "marques" -  Champagnes made in the millions of bottles annually, such as Veuve Cliquot, Moet & Chandon…

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Movies about wine are relatively few, and good ones are as rare as a 1961 Hermitage La Chapelle. Here's an overview of a couple worth seeing, and some educational ones, too. Bottle Shock Bottle Shock, which was independently released in the United States in August of '08, is available on video. The movie is supposed to tell at least part of the story of "The Judgment of Paris," that game-changing event in 1976 when a Chardonnay from Napa's Chateau Montelena and a Cabernet Sauvignon from Stag's Leap Wine Cellars beat some of the top French wines. In a blind taste test. In Paris. With some of France's top wine experts as judges. Mon Dieu! Problem is, lots of stuff shown…

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One of the ways I've learned about wine, oddly enough, is to read wine books. And here are some great book for Summer Reading. Of course you can read lots of technical books - on home winemaking, wine courses such as Jancis Robinson's, or tasting books such as Hugh Johnson's.  And for those who  get into wine geekery like me, there are books such as Clive Coates' The Wines of Burgundy, or Vino Italiano - The Regional Wines of Italy, that can take weeks to read and are more appropriate for people studying for their MW rather than casual wine drinkers and even dedicated tasters.For my money and yours, though, I recommend that you have some fun while you learn,…

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Things are pretty tough right now in Spain.  Twenty-five percent unemployment. “Indignados” pitching tents in public parks like the “Occupy” movement did in the US a year ago, and recent massive public demonstrations in Madrid, Barcelona and other large cities.  Looming bank bailouts and public sector spending cuts. Happily, things are a whole lot better on the Spanish winemaking front. Spain, in fact, in just the last 20 years or so has really upped its wine game, and if I’m not mistaken—and I don’t think I am—Spain has more land under vine than any other country on the planet.  And much of it is at relatively high altitudes, so the cool night air gives the grapes a respite from the…

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Spanish whites seem to be so often defined by Albarino, which admittedly makes a wonderful wine, especially those from Rias Baixas in Galicia in northwestern Spain. But the Godello grape-and this "other" Spanish wine is 100% Godello-delivers up something completely different and something you should try, especially now that warmer weather is here. This one has a very pale straw color but don't mistake it for a wine with no character. It has a really lovely floral aroma, with real body, and lots of lime flavors and maybe some pineapple with strong mineral notes.  Crisp and refreshing.  Some compare it to a Sauvignon Blanc but I think the difference is striking. It's also a great value, depending on where you…

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Last Monday I got the opportunity to sit down with famed Zinfandel winemaker Joel Peterson of Ravenswood at The Frog and the Peach in New Brunswick, New Jersey.  Obviously I jumped at the chance.  At 65, he’s still running and gunning, and while he’s certainly an obvious and effective ambassador for the brand he co-founded and built, he’s still—amazingly—the winemaker-in-chief and also the scout and overseer of dozens of vineyards where Ravenswood sources its grapes. Peterson founded Ravenswood in 1976 with a guy named Reed Foster, whom he met at an East Bay (San Francisco) wine tasting group. They had 4,000 bucks; there was no physical winery, and there were no dedicated vineyards; really there was just an idea of…

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When you think of Greece these days, you sadly might think of financial crises, bailouts, maybe even riots in the streets.  Don’t think of those things.  Don’t even think of Greece at all. Instead think of the Greek island of Santorini, a beautiful if slightly forbidding sun- and wind-swept island about halfway between Crete and the Greek mainland. The site of a massive explosion about 1600 BC, the middle of the island sank into the ocean, leaving Santorini a crescent-shaped, rugged, steeply-terraced landscape based on deep layers of volcanic ash and schist, metamorphic rocks that are high in minerals and whose name, coincidentally, derives from a Greek work that means “to split,” referring to the way the rocks fracture along…

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And now for something completely different. This wine is from Sardinia, an Italian island, and it’s based on the Carignano (Carignane) grape, one you might have never tasted, with a few percent of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. A very deep violet color, it’s matched by a depth in richness-with blackberry, leather and lots of spice, mouthfilling but not overwhelming tannin with enough acid to keep you refreshed and a very long finish. Opulent is the only way to describe this wine. Unlike most of my selections, unfortunately this one isn’t cheap, and you’ll have to spend between $30 and $50 at a good wine store (yes, the range can be that wide). But it’s worth it to try this outstanding…

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