Vine Republic

Bring On The Rosè

Memorial Day, the unofficial start of summer, is near, with lots of warm (and hot) weather to follow. You’ll be spending a lot more time in front of the grill, but the red wines those burgers want, might seem an unappealing partner when it’s 95⁰. There is a resolution to this problem – Rosé – red-grape fruit that’s best served chilled.

It is important to note that White Zinfandel is not a typical Rosé wine, and the reason it is not typical is that White Zinfandel is sweet. The Rosé wines discusse...

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You Don't Have To Break The Bank!

Usually I write about wine regions or varietals, but alas, right now, many of us are facing unanticipated tax bills. Suddenly…you feel you need to cut back on what you’re spending on wine, but then…you’re afraid this would entail sacrificing the quality you deserve. Or not – maybe you’d always like to save money on the wine you’re buying, without sacrificing the quality you deserve.

Bargains abound in the wine world, but you do have to find them, and it helps to get beyond restrictive notions lik...

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Cabernet Franc

Most often I talk about wine regions and the wines of those particular regions. This month, since a lot of people ask about it, and seem interested in trying it, let’s talk about a grape – Cabernet Franc (from here forward, Cab Franc). The good news is that Cab Franc is produced in a lot of places. The bad news, sort of, is that it is not always that easy to find solid examples for much under $25/bottle.

Cab Franc has a long history and is part of a very distinguished viniferous lineage, mostly o...

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Tuscany

This is definitely red wine weather. Suitable for any red wine occasion are the red wines of Tuscany. There are +/- 60 DOC(G)s (appellations) in Tuscany. For red wines, most of the DOC(G)s require a substantial percentage of Sangiovese in the blend.  

It is hard not to love Sangiovese. It’s most endearing qualities are red-to-black cherry fruit notes and a bright acidity that makes it the perfect pairing for so many Italian dishes (a surprise…yes?). Depending on where and under what conditions it...

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The Party's Never Over As Long As There's Champagne!

As I write this, Thanksgiving memories are still warm, but by the time you read this New Year’s Day will be in the rear-view mirror. But the timing of this article should serve as a reminder that Champagne is not solely for festive occasions, but also to make ordinary occasions festive.

Champagne, like most French wines, is named for a place not a grape, and the process by which it’s made is the Champagne method (in Champagne), or the méthode traditionelle – that is, the “traditional method,” eve...

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Port

This festive season tends to induce reckless dessert consumption. And desserts typically want wines other than the ones you had with dinner. Port is a traditional as well as versatile choice of dessert wine.

Port comes from the Douro River Valley of Portugal, although its name is actually derived from the city of Oporto, at the mouth of the Douro. Many of the most notable producers of Port have very English names because the English founded what are today the most famous Port production companies...

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Thanksgiving Dinner

The burning issue at this time of year is what wine(s) to serve with Thanksgiving Dinner. Well, it’s my burning issue, and a more pleasant one to grapple with than many of the other burning issues of our time. And since Thanksgiving is an American Holiday for which there is a somewhat scripted menu, I am basing what follows on the traditional dinner menu, along with recommendations of American wines.  

There are general rules to keep in mind. Reds and Whites should have lively fruit and ample acid...

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Spanish Reds

Some of the very best values in red wine can be found among the offerings from Spain. Spanish reds feature grape varietals widely grown here in the US (Cabernet, Merlot, Syrah), and some of those we’ve discussed relative to France (Grenache, Mourvedre, Carignan – Garnacha, Monastrell and Cariñena in Spain), as well as varietals that are distinctly Spanish (Tempranillo and Mencia).

The Spanish reds you’ll most likely encounter are those of the Castile-Leon, Catalonia, Murcia, and Rioja Regions. Ca...

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It's Rosè Season!

As I begin this, it is well into the 90s outside. I know that in several hours I’ll be standing in front of the grill, and we’ll be getting ready to eat…outdoors. We’re having mussels and shrimp as appetizers, followed by that traditional American grill favorite – cheeseburgers. As the sun is going down it will still be hot, and while my burgers will be demanding a nice red wine, my appetite for the red will not be there. I’m pretty certain that on a day like this, I am not alone in my sentiment...

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Three Whites of Southern Italy

The summer may be winding down, but the weather will still be warm or mild for another month or two. So, the season of white wine is hardly over. But if you’re tired of drinking the same old white varietals, I’d like to suggest three tasty alternatives from the Campania region of Italy.

For reference, Campania is the shin of the boot, and its big city is Naples. The three grapes I think you should get to know are Falanghina, Fiano, and Greco Bianco. OK…not exactly household names…unless you live...

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Chardonnay

According to market studies (thru the end of 2016), the wine you will most likely put in your cart at your local wine shop is Chardonnay (yes, even more likely than the top red – Cabernet Sauvignon). This trend continues. However, it is worth noting that by the time you get to the register, you will have more red wine in your cart than white, and you will have a wider range of red varietals than whites. Part of Chardonnay’s popularity stems from the fact that the whites in the cart are most like...

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Italian Overview

We’ve talked a bit about French wines and how once you know which grapes go with which Regions, it’s not really that hard, especially since most of the grapes from which French wines are made are the varietals most widely grown and sold here. Italy…now that’s another story.

Italy has many officially designated appellations (DOCs or DOCGs). In fact, there are over 400 of them. Over these 400+ appellations a total of more than 350 grape varietals are permitted in the production of the wines. Many o...

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What's The Score?

Customers sometimes ask me, “What do those scores actually mean?” And sometimes when I’ve cited a score for a wine I’m recommending they tell me, “I don’t need scores – I know what I like!” So, let’s talk about this. 

Most wine reviewers rate wines on a 100-point scale – where 100 is the best, and zero the worst. In practice reviewers seldom rate a wine below 70 – but will if they find it totally without merit. That’s pretty simple but somewhat misleading, because while the score certainly says s...

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Bordeaux

Most wine drinkers have seen the movie Sideways (2004) and know that Miles Raymond (the main character – Paul Giamatti) just about killed the Merlot market in the US as he continually demeaned that grape while touting Pinot Noir. Actually, market analysis shows that Merlot sales were already in decline, although that trend accelerated after the movie – quite a feat for a fictional character.

Given his incessant praise of Pinot Noir, one might expect that Miles’ dream wine would be a Grand Cru Red...

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In France..

If you’re drinking someplace, and you’re drinking wine, you may well be drinking wine from France, because unlike here in the New World, the wines of France are usually named for the place from which they come, rather than the grapes from which they are made.

In the Americas, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, wines are named varietally (that is, after the predominant grape in the bottle), or proprietally, like The Prisoner or Conundrum (that is, a random name given by the producer to a ble...

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Alternative Whites

The fall and winter are the seasons of red wine…unless you are one of those people who only drinks white wine, really loves sparkling wine, or eats lots of seafood/sushi. So, cold weather or not, let’s talk about white wines – alternative white wines.

For many people, white wine is somewhat boring. We think that might be because they limit themselves to three varietals – Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Pinot Grigio. Who would want to live in a world where there was only Vanilla, Chocolate and St...

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