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Impossible food wine pairings: chicken tikka masala!


Our “impossible food-wine pairings” continues! In this series, we look at foods we enjoy in America that present an impossible wine challenge! We have previously digested chips and salsa, nori, and the falafel sandwich. And now, for all the meat-a-tarians who were getting cranky, we present our first meat dish…

Chicken tikka masala!

Comments are open.


Get your Bojo working – cru Beaujolais in the height of summer

In 1395, Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, was so afraid of gamay that he banned it. That’s right: a man named “the bold” feared a grape. You need to use his fear to your advantage.

Philip was afraid that gamay would encroach on the turf of pinot noir, the native red grape of his home area. And indeed it might: high in acidity with red fruit notes and very food friendly, you could easily see why the Duke of Burgundy might be running scared.

So over the weekend, we had some friends over to the Dr. Vino World Headquarters and tried a dozen Beaujolais. There are ten small appellations, or growing areas in the region, and we didn’t quite cover all of them. But it was a representative enough sample to get a lay of the land, something that definitely merits your attention, as blogger Neil is doing tasting through two wines from each appellation.

Since we live in a capitalist economy, I let the invisible hand take control of structuring the tasting, letting the friends bring whatever they found instead of trying to dictate which wines to bring. The distribution was surprisingly even with good representation of the appellations. I should note, however, that it wasn’t always easy finding them. For example, one friend reported that he asked for some cru Beaujolais at a respected store and the first clerk didn’t know what he meant (fortunately another did). And I went to an off-the-beaten-path store where the owner told me that he didn’t stock much French wine in part because the dollar made it more expensive (the other part was for patriotic reasons–does that sentiment still exist?!?). While that may be true from a currency exchange standpoint, it’s hardly the case for cru Beaujolais, which is almost entirely between $12 and $25. Read more…

Impossible food wine pairings: chips and salsa!

We pick, you decide! That’s right, people, this is more fun than Fox News. I pick a wild and crazy food that we eat here in Amurrica, and you decide the wine pairing!

And if you think I’m going to lob a softball at you with some sorta cheese or bacon no brainer, forget it. We’re swinging for the fences here. There are no right answers, of course. So which wine has worked for you with…

Chips and salsa!

Comments are open.


Wine: you CAN take it with you when you go!

How much wine can you bring back from your foreign travels? More than I thought, it turns out.

I just got back from a great couple of weeks in France, first at Vinexpo, and then with my family. Of course, we found lots of great wines to drink while we were there and even bought too much, and were forced to bring some back.

But I was apparently mistaken about the limit on just how much we could bring back–I thought we were allowed only one liter each, so we were forced to drink almost all the wines we got while we were there. I’ve written up one already — more notes forthcoming.

It turns out that all that guzzling might have been avoided if I had studied up on the US rules first. Customs and Border Protection limits you to one liter of alcohol free of tax. But beyond the one liter, the useful “Know before you go” Customs pamphlet elaborates that “Federal regulations allow you to bring back more than one liter of alcoholic beverage for personal use, but, as with extra tobacco, you will have to pay duty and Internal Revenue Service tax.”

While they don’t mention the IRS tax rate, anyone care to guess what the Customs duty is? Three percent! That’s it!

Despite the inconvenience of traveling with wine, us wine geeks can revel in bringing back wines that are not commercially imported to the US or are much less expensive overseas! Consider these examples: Read more…

Robert Parker admits to “the emotion of the moment,” threatening the basis of wine scores!

OK, people, did you really think that numerical wine ratings were objective? This gem has just been transmitted to the Dr. Vino Mobile World Headquarters, from Robert Parker’s interview earlier this year with the Naples (FL) Daily News:

For most people, I think, giving 100 points is almost setting up a situation for the people who are reading it … to be disappointed because you have somebody who’s well-known and has credibility saying it’s perfection in wine. And there’s always the issue: Is there perfection in wine?

I’ve always tried to explain it saying that, you know, I’m a very passionate person and an emotional person. I really think probably the only difference between a 96-, 97-, 98-, 99-, and 100-point wine is really the emotion of the moment. (emphasis added)

He admits elsewhere to being a supertaster, but here he says he’s no cyborg! There you go: relativism in ratings! That’s what I just mentioned in the comments section to Jay Miller, a critic at the Wine Advocate. Join the fray with your comments! Or see Jay Miller’s comments on the science of olfactory analysis.

Vintage Dr. Vino: Finding birth year wines in Food & Wine magazine

Have you ever thought about having a wine from your birth year? Oddly, I never had until site reader Michael in Toronto asked me. Thanks, Michael!

That sent me on a quest to find a wine from my birth year. I wrote up the experience for the July issue of Food & Wine magazine.

In case the story piqued your interest in finding a wine for your birth year, check out the fabulous infographic that is the Robert Parker vintage chart. It only goes back to 1970 though so for older vintages, you might consider checking out Michael Broadbent’s Vintage Wine.

And if you’re stopping by the blog for the first time because of the story, then consider subscribing to the site’s feed or monthly email updates on the right. And feel free to poke around and see some wine picks or explore any of the categories on the first sidebar!

If you haven’t seen the story in print (p. 156), or you’re curious to see which wine I drank and how much it cost, check out the magazine, which is hitting bookstores and mailboxes now. Or I suppose you could cheap out and see it online.

“Finding Wine of a Certain Age,” Food & Wine

Nine wines under $10

The hardest thing—but perhaps more sought-after than a Lafite—is a list of good, interesting and affordable wines, for parties or for dinner Sunday to Thursday or even all week long. Here’s my latest list, arranged not by preference, but by style, from lightest to fullest in white and red.

Why is it only a list of nine wines under $10 instead of the usual ten under ten? Because I’m grumpy. It’s increasingly difficult to find good wines with character under ten dollars. Blame part of it on the weak dollar (though my list here is heavy on eurozone wines), blame it on producer greed–they’re all just excuses! Good wines, easy on the palate and on the wallet are what consumers want. Sure, there are lots of great wines for $12-$15 and many more from $15 – 20, but these are out of reach for a lot of people to have with dinner on a given Tuesday. Producers take note of this market opening, ready to be filled! Meanwhile, we can fill up our wine storage areas with this value vino.

Muscadet Sur Lie, Hautes Noelles. $9.99 (find this wine)
This muscadet is great for oysters. Don’t you get tired of people saying that? I do. I have oysters once every five years and this wine is too good to wait that long between bottles. The “sur lie” aging gives this muscadet a richer mouthfeel but it still has the characteristic crsip acidity, faint melon note, and gentle briney quality. Fire it up with grilled seafood on the deck. (Importer: H2Vino, Michael Skurnik)

Vina Sila, Naia, Verdejo, Rueda (Spain), 2005. $10 (find this wine)
This is a classic summer wine from a grape you may never have heard of: verdejo. Fresh citrus notes, though not as much acidity as a kiwi sauvignon blanc, notes of honeysuckle and white flowers make this wine a great one as a warm-up (with light, salty appetizers) or as a cool down (poolside).

Creta Olympias, Vilana, Crete 2006, $10. (find this wine)
Vilana is usually a ho-hum wine that is churned out from the most recent vintage. However, in a recent tasting of this off-the beaten-path variety, I found a few that were recommendable with this being the most affordable. With delicate white flower aromas, the wine had a certain lush mouthfeel, with pleasant minerally verve. This wine + Greek salad + outside under umbrella on a sunny day = life is good.

Domaine Houchart, Cotes de Provence rose, 2006, $9. (find this wine)
This dark, vibrant, and dry rose has notes of strawberry and watermelon. The lively acidity makes it a great food pairing. While I think that rosé should be less than $10 a bottle to be lots of fun I might be tempted to pay $12 for the Domaine Sorin. But this blend of Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, Cabernet Sauvignon, Mourvèdre gets the job done on the deck in the summer.

Bodegas las Hormigas, Colonia las Liebres, bonarda, Mendoza (Argentina). 2006. $4.49 (find this wine)
This ridiculously priced bargain is one to buy with both hands. This surprisingly light and lively, unfiltered old-vine bonarda from importer Marco de Grazia’s project in Mendoza. It’s now our house burrito wine.

Terra Rosa, Malbec Mendoza (Argentina), 2004. $10 (find this wine)
This is a fascinating wine of the global era: Patrick Campbell of Sonoma buys the fruit from local growers in Mendoza, makes the wine on location, then ships it back to California for bottling and an admirably reduced carbon footprint. The cost-savings results in a wine of character, with good fruit and a pleasant and unusual level of acidity, at a very reasonable price. It calls out for grilled meat.

Castaño, Hécula, monastrell, Yecla (Spain), 2004 $9. (find this wine)
I poured this wine recently at a tasting and people thought it was a $30 wine. It has the wonderful mourvedre game quality on the nose, and serious but not aggressive tannins on the finish. I actually came across a bottle of the 2001 of this wine in the Dr. Vino Cellar recently (originally purchased for $7—inflation!) and it was among the most rewarding $7 bottles of wine I have ever had. I’ll throw some more of this one in the cellar and check back in a few years. Try it now with game or sausage.

Castillo de Jumilla, monastrell, Yecla (Spain). 2006. $9. (find this wine)
Given what I just wrote about how I feel about young monastrell, I wasn’t planning on being wowed by this freshly squeezed 06. But I was. It’s a gobs-of-fruit, beef-drippings kind of wine but with a pleasing lushness. According to the wine’s importer, there are only a few hundred cases of this excellent BBQ companion wine available.

Trentadue, Old Patch Red, Sonoma, 2004, $8. (find this wine)
California Zinfandel has sadly seen prices escalate: consider this one greed relief. Fans of big reds will find this a gulpable bargain with hints of dark fruits and faint spice. The biggest plus here is that—unlike some of the other wines on this list—the wine has broader availability.

Decanting the critic: Tasting with Dr. Jay Miller, the right hand of Robert Parker

We all know that Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate essentially sets the market for wine. But how do the critics there taste the wines that they will make or break with their ratings?

Last week I had the chance to taste with Jay Miller, Ph.D., whose duties include vast swathes of the wine world ranging from Australasia to Iberia to the Pacific Northwest. I met with him to taste wines of Argentina. Dr. Jay and Dr. Vino, mano a mano. Or at least Riedel a Riedel.

I didn’t have to travel to Monkton, Maryland. The setting was actually the Argentine Consulate in midtown Manhattan. I walked into the palatial room, which must have been 40 x 25 w 12 ft ceilings, complete with friezes. On one side, Jay Miller was seated at a table with two settings. On the other side were hundreds of wine bottles, even more hundreds of Riedel glasses, and a small flock of people to pour. Read more…


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