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

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

I’ve seen a lot of ads on Facebook lately for the Firstleaf wine “club.” The ad takes you to a 13-question quiz, kinda like a junior high “pop quiz,” (because you can’t really prepare for it) to “scientifically” determine the wines you like in order that Firstleaf can then send you wines you’ll want to drink. Evidently, it’s based on a “proven” algorithm…’cause, well, impenetrable and opaque mathematical formulas are always the way you should select wine. Evidently. The first question was a linear “slider” that asks you to select white wines at one end, red at the other, and “a mix” in the middle. OK. But what about Rosé wines? Ports and dessert wines? Sherries and Madeiras? Champagne, Prosecco,…

Read More

When I received an invitation to the Slow Wine 2020 US Tour stop in New York City, I had to ask myself if I understood when “Slow” means with regard to wine. I didn’t. I still don’t. So I went to the show on February 24 and enjoyed a great seminar and tasting of Cerasuolo (“Cherry”) d’Abruzzo Rosé wines, ones I’d never tasted and had barely heard of. And then I went around the tables and sampled about another 10 or 12 supposedly “slow” wines. At least I did the tasting...slowly. When I got home to Jersey, I clicked on the link to the Slow Wine Tour website. And I still didn’t—and don’t—know what they’re trying to say. On the…

Read More

The Barolo region of Itlay's Piedmont is home to one of the world's most distinctive wines...and often one of its more expensive. There are 59 wine regions in Piedmont (Pee-ah-mon-tay) and it's home to a lot more great red wines: Barbera, Brachetto, Dolcetto, Friesa, and Grignolia, but for my money, Barolos are what you want. White wines from there include Asti, Gavi, and Arneis. The berries (grapes) of Barolo wines are small, very tannic, rather high in acid, and there's only one variety: Nebbiolo.  Barolos must be at least 13% alcohol and be aged for at least two years in oak and one year in bottle, and those labeled Riserva must be aged at least five years before release, with…

Read More

On January 27 I spent a couple hours at NYC's Gotham Hall at Broadway and 36th for Benvenuto Brunello, a grand tasting of Brunello Di Montalcino wines. Put on by The Consortium of the Brunello of Montalcino Wine, established in  1967 on the day that the region gained DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) status, the highest in Italy's wine regions, guests chose from and tasted wines from among 40 providers, each of which offered between two and six wines, mostly Brunellos and Rossos, their younger siblings. Brunellos are always 100% Sangiovese, as are Rossos, but other wines come from Montalcino (Mount Lucina),  though that name translates into different things depending on whom you ask.  Far as I know,…

Read More