Wine Flair's Wine of the Week,  an Australian number called Beyond Broke Road Pinot Gris 2018, is probably one that creates a little confusion.  That's because Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio are the same grape, genetically. So why the name difference? And what's the difference between the wines? Well, and I'm going to generalize here: the main differences are where the grapes are grown--typically Italy and France but also in USA and obviously, Australia among other places--when they're harvested, and the styles of the wine. Pinot Grigio grapes are often harvested earlier and fermented differently, rendering the wine more acidic, more austere, with less fruit, and lighter-bodied. Wines designated Pinot Gris (the grape originated in Burgundy, France and was then…

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Wine-Flair Wine of the Week is Don Zoilo Williams & Humbert Oloroso Sherry, 12 Years Old. Many Americans have heard of Sherry but relatively few have ever tasted it, and I’ll wager that most of those few have only as “cooking Sherry,” found on a grocery store shelf for $3.99, and something that ends up in their Coq Au Vin, if they’re had that.  Which is too bad.  Not the Coq au Vin, I mean. Sherry, authentically in Spanish “Jerez,” (or Xérès) isn’t like any other wine you’ve tasted. Although Sherries are a fortified wine like Port, which means grape spirits are added that up the alcohol content, most aren’t sweet, except for Pedro Ximénez and Moscatel. Sherries are made…

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This wonderful white wine is the product of Randall (Randy) Graham, the quirky and unique founder of Bonny Doon, an enterprise that he created to produce American versions of the best Rhône wines. He's run into some tough times in the last few years, a visionary winemaker but self-described not-so-good businessman, and in January sold the brand to WarRoom Ventures LLC after 35 years at the helm. Thankfully, he'll remain as winemaker and on the board of WarRoom. Other labels he relinquished earlier include favorites Big House Red and Cardinal Zin. Picpoul, or in the French way, "Piquepoul" (sometimes Piquepou de Pinet) means "lip stinger" on account of its bracing acidity. It's typically grown in the south of France, but…

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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…

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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…

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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.…

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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,…

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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…

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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,…

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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…

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