Wine Of The Week

Conventional wisdom is that Primitivo was brought to California around 1968, and scientists at UC Davis declared it the same grape and wine we call Zinfandel in the US. But as far as I can tell--and there are at least a half-dozen versions of the "truth"--this "Italian" grape's origins are actually from the Dalmatian coast of Croatia, the grape's true name is Crljenak Kaštelanski, and it came to both the US and to California much earlier. The UC Davis website says "Although the origin of the Zinfandel in California remains uncertain, the most plausible source seems to be the Austrian Imperial Nursery collection in Vienna, from where an amateur horticulturist named George Gibbs brought the grape to Long Island, New…

Read More

I walked onto a mediocre liquor store in New Brunswick, New Jersey the other day. Staring me in the face was a rather poorly-configured display of Cupcake "LightHearted" wines which, according to Travel + Leisure Magazine, "locks in at less than 80 calories...eight percent alcohol by volume, and less than one gram of sugar...It’s also gluten-free and vegan." I was intrigued. And it was a "ghastly" nine bucks. So let's look at low-alcohol, low-calorie versus "traditional" wine. Well, I bought a bottle of the Cupcake (I wine I've never written about and about which I'm not terribly fond, in full disclosure) 2019 Rosé, took it home, and pitted it against a $14-$16 Ferrari-Carano 2019 Rosé...I label I know, and a…

Read More

I couldn't say goodbye to a month characterized by miserable heat waves (Or were they really? Maybe we just did too much testing with too many thermometers?) without mentioning these two amazingly refreshing white wines. Assyrtiko is one of my favorite brisk, citrus-y whites and the Zacharias 2019 doesn't disappoint...at under $15 no less. The Zacharias winery is a young but growing producer in the Nemea region of the Greek Peloponnese peninsula, and put out its first vintage of Assyrtiko only in 2002. For a white, it has a noticeable body and brisk acidity, but is nicely balanced and has a very long finish. Bone dry, it loses nothing from its youth, ready to drink right now. And I did.…

Read More

Wine and food pairing is more an art than a science. So VIEW OR DOWNLOAD the Wine-Flair Wine & Food Pairing Chart 2020.  Pairing is one of the most frequent questions I get and if you want to really immerse yourself, there are lots of books available--I have one called What to Drink with What to Eat--but if you're putting together a dinner party or at a restaurant and you need a quick and handy guide (just email the PDF to yourself) you'll get some tried and true ideas here. You may or may not agree with them, and you'll find pairings you like from friends and family, but mostly from your own experience.  This is just a starting place,…

Read More

I don't actually know the answer to that today. This Black Box Sauvignon Blanc Chile 2019 is the first boxed wine I've ever bought, though I have tasted a few from time to time at events and at private homes. It's three-liters, the equivalent of four standard bottles, and at an average $20 it would appear to be of great value. I took a small taste last night, but I want to taste it over time, to see if it changes in any way, and if the bag inside keeps the wine fresh and bright over time. The packaging boasts 70 Gold Medals, but doesn't say which ones or when they were awarded, so as far as I know at…

Read More

There are roughly nine weeks left of “traditional” summer—Memorial Day to Labor Day—and hopefully you’ve been able to buy and enjoy some lovely wines.  I’m betting that you’ve quaffed a few Rosés, ideally some of them with some aroma, fruit, and character (and not those watery, pale and insipid ones). Anyway, I’m hoping you’ll make a pledge to just this once, stay away from the big 4: Chardonnay, the Queen; Pinot Grigio, the rook; Sauvignon Blanc, the knight; and Riesling, the King. There are so many other wonderful whites out there, so please give them a try. Look at them as varietal treats during the Pandemic: if you can’t get out and about, stay in and luxuriate!  Here they are,…

Read More

It’s June 16th, which means I’m supposed to be at the beach house of my friend Chucky, in Freeport, Bahamas. Between the scourge of Covid19 and last September’s horrible, terrible, tragic, and destructive Hurricane Dorian, which parked itself over the Abacos and Grand Bahama Island for almost three days, that trip didn’t happen this year. So, nevertheless, I’m contenting myself on my couch, with my handsome Pitbull boy Popeye looking at me warily, holding (I am, not Popeye) a lovely cocktail that I was introduced to during my first visit there four years ago: The St. Germain. This is about as simple as it comes—a base of sparkling wine, with a dose of St. Germain, a spritz of sparkling water…

Read More

I don't know about you, but a quick scroll down my Facebook page a moment ago brought up ads for no fewer than 13 online wineries or wine clubs: Buy Wines Online - Dry Farm Wines - Duckhorn Vineyards - Empathy - Firstleaf - Justin Vineyards & Winery - Last Bottle Wines - Naked Wines - Soujourn Cellars - Tasting Room - Twisted Vine - Vinesse - Winc - Winetext.com A couple, such as Duckhorn and Soujourn, may be names you already know as "traditional" wineries; others such as WineText.com are relatively new, and a bit different--in this case, just sending a text to order once you've signed up. Some are private-labeled proprietary wines while others offer either a selection,…

Read More

Italy is (a) wine country. So of course, surely, you’ve heard the names of these wines and the (grapes) from which they're made: Amarone (Corvino, Molinera, Rondinella), Barolo and Barbaresco (Nebbiolo), Barbero, Brunello (Sangiovese), Chianti (Sangiovese), Montepulciano, Negroamaro, and Primitivo (Zinfandel in California!). Less well-known but equally delectable white Italian wines include Arneis, Chardonnay, Cortese (Gavi) Greco, Moscato, Soave (Garganega) and Vermentino. So perhaps you've had one, more, or many, depending on the restaurants you frequented before Covid19 hit, and maybe once, years ago (or last fall) you had a very lousy cheap one at a college party where a brave soul put $7 on the line for a bottle of sweet, watery, insipid and essentially undrinkable Lambrusco. And yet,…

Read More

California Cabernets, especially from Napa, are well known for their power, richness, tannin, high alcohol...and too often, astronomical price. Those in the "cult" category such as Screaming Eagle or Harlan Estate can fetch hundreds of dollars or more per bottle, and are difficult or impossible to get unless you're a "VIP" customer and on the allocation list. Don't get me wrong: there are some outstanding Napa (and Sonoma, for that matter) Cabs at "fairly reasonable" prices and they, too, have a devoted following, albeit among us normal folk. And given that I'm a #1 fan of Bordeaux, years ago I discovered "Meritage" wines, produced by a group of American vintners that formed The Meritage Alliance in 1998 to produce and…

Read More