Your first step is to figure out how much you want to spend. So take a few minutes to consider how much wine you want and what you'll use it for (yes, to drink, but...). For example, you may want to stock up for a holiday party, or you'd like some bottles to make up some wine gift baskets. Or perhaps you just want the convenience of having a case or three in the basement so you don't have to go back to the store every few days. Or maybe you're having a dinner party for eight and want to pair some wines with the courses you'll serve, a great idea! The biggest challenge to the novice wine buyer is…

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The Silicon-Valley Bank produced this overview of the state of the wine industry over the next two years. Most consumers may find this too industry-oriented, but take a look, anyway, if you're at all interested in where the wine business has been recently, and where it's likely headed. State of the Wine Industry.pdf

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With weather in the high 80s here in NJ and the entire northwest US, it's time to think about crisp, refreshing wines meant to be served cold, out on your deck or patio with some grilled food. In other words, it's time to think about Rose. Now, if you stay away from Rose wines because of White Zinfandel - a light, semi-sweet wine that you can imagine only little old ladies sipping at Sunday brunch - you aren't doing yourself any favors. Most are dry, even bone dry, and while they can be fruity many are also crisp, refreshing and a great complement to a variety of food including grilled meats. And in fact there are some outstanding dry Zinfandel…

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Who knew? Here in the most densely populated state in the union, we seem to have more "make on premises", Do-it-Yourself, hands-on winemaking shops than Doan has pills. So if you want to try your hand at making wine, and get a little professional advice and support in the process, New Jersey is the place to be. We're more than just the turnpike, the highest property taxes in the nation and mandatory full-service gas stations, you know! Anyway, two of these places I know well - California WineWorks up in Ramsay, and The Vintner's Circle in both Hackettstown and Whippany, as well as a Pennsylvania location. I've visited another, Grape Expectations in Dayton, NJ, and all of them have happy…

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Meritage, as you may know, is a kind of proprietary red wine made by any number of producers in California. It's supposedly done in the "Bordeaux style" which means it must have at least two of these varieties - Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot, and Petit Verdot - and can have all five, though few do. To be labeled a Meritage wine, the winery has to be a member of the Meritage Association and follow a few rules. But that's not something for you to worry about. Anyway, I like my share of Meritages, although they tend to be more fruity, dense and powerful than Bordeaux wines. I've enjoyed Buena Vista, Charles Krug, Cosentino, Ehler's Estate, Guenoc, Murrieta's Well,…

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On this April Fool's day 2009, Decanter magazine can't resist its annual ruse which I'm sure has a lot of Europeans in a tizzy. As I recall, a couple years ago it was Paris Hilton being introduced as the celebrity spokesperson for Bordeaux, just at the moment, like now, of en Primeur. And with French President Sarkozy in London fighting battles over the world economy, such an announcement would be almost a coup d'etat! Of course, Ms. Hilton actually was chosen to represent "the sophisticated Rich Prosecco in the designer can" in 2006. But I'd venture to say that Paul Giamatti with his decidedly non-designer looks did far more in Sideways for Pinot Noir than Ms. Hilton could do for,…

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With Passover now a WEEK away, it's time to think about GOOD Kosher wine. Let's start with a little understanding of what makes a wine Kosher. Grapes are grapes, neither Kosher nor non-Kosher until they arrive at the so-called crushpad where they begin the process of becoming wine. Once that happens, for the wine to be Kosher, the grapes must be handled from that point by Sabbath-observant Jews. So far so good. So, let's assume that the grapes are crushed, pressed and fermented by this Kosher crew, using only Kosher ingredients and approved processes. For example, wine can be fined with egg whites, which is pretty standard in the industry, but not using Isinglass which is made from Sturgeon bladders…

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Use this handy page to take notes as you taste wines at home, at a tasting party or in wineries. Two wines per page with full information, with "prompts" to help you identify and remember what you smell and taste! Wine-Flair Wine Tasting Notepad.pdf

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I spent about a year in Beirut during the Lebanese civil war, living in the U.S. Embassy with 12 other Marines (and an excellent Lebanese cook, Mr. Tony Saliba, who kept us jarheads well fed).As anyone who lived there anytime from 1975 until about 1990 will tell you, the Lebanese showed a remarkable ability to continue normal life and commerce - for which they're famous - during intense urban fighting. So we Yanks adopted their ways, and during lulls in the shelling we'd leave the embassy to enjoy the waterfront Corniche, or nightlife on Hamra street.For me, that invariably included dinner and of course wine, and I often tried the "local stuff" - from Ksara, Lebanon's oldwest winery, and Chateau…

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