Archive for the 'wine blogs' Category

Embarrassing moments in bottle opening – The Rabbit and Benito’s blog

Ben Carter writes a wine blog from Memphis known as Benito’s wine reviews. In the same spirit as our impossible food wine pairings, his series “Benito vs. ___”, he takes on such crazy foods as cactus or an MRE. Check them out! And while you’re there, you can check out his kind words about my book A Year of Wine–as well as a few words from me since we did a Q&A.

therabbit_corkscrewOne of the questions he asked me was about a time when I had trouble opening a bottle. Being smoother than Rico Suave with corkscrew, I could only think of crumbly corks as difficult-to-open situations.

But later, Mrs. Vino reminded me of The Rabbit!

I haven’t ever confessed this to you, but The Rabbit and I are not friends. We once brought a celebratory bottle of red over to some friends at their new home. New as in brand new. And freshly painted. They presented me with The Rabbit to open the bottle and I confidently pushed down on the lever in such a manner as to thrust the cork into the bottle and force a geyser of red wine up to the ceiling. Whoops! Fortunately the painter was due back soon. But still, not one of my finer bottle opening moments.

What about you? Do you have any embarrassing moments in bottle opening that you’d like to share?

Dr. Vino in John and Dottie’s new ABCs

John Brecher and Dorothy Gaiter, the wildly popular wine columnists at the Wall Street Journal, published an updated glossary of handy wine terms in Saturday’s column. Here’s their headline:

brecher-gaiterSinging the ABCs of Wine
The columnists’ updated glossary swaps Parker for Dr. Vino and Vayniacs; why there are 27 entries

It was very nice of them to give Dr. Vino a shout out! (Click through for their full comments.) And to hold up my book A Year of Wine: Perfect Pairings, Great Buys, and What to Sip for Each Season in the accompanying video! Check out their glossary for other fun wine terms, such as Xinomavro and Zweigelt (also good in Scrabble).

Blogs will transform the wine world! Or not. You decide!

999bottleswallIn a few weeks, I will deliver the keynote address at the annual meeting of the California Association of Winegrape Growers. About half the group’s members simply grow grapes; the other half also make wine from grapes that they grow. But either way, they’re interested in hearing about important trends that affect wine consumers and producers.

Much of my talk in Sacramento will focus on wine blogs as well as “social media,” such as Twitter, Facebook, Open Wine Consortium, or the group Wine 2.0. Here are two possible titles for my talk:

“Blogs and social media will transform the way wines are made, criticized, and purchased!” or

“”Blogs and social media make a whole lot of noise but are a huge waste of your time and resources!”

Hmm, maybe there’s a middle ground. Anyway, hit me with your thoughts on which way you would lean and feel free to provide evidence for your perspective! I might just use it to support my final argument in Sacramento.

Tell us about your wine blog and the WBC – elevator pitch

Last weekend there were lots of bottles–and discussion–uncorked in Sonoma at what might be considered the ultimate “offline:” the inaugural Wine Bloggers’ Conference.

The Open Wine Consortium organized the two-day event, which, unfortunately, I couldn’t attend. But 150 or more bloggers were there and many of them were new to blogging.

I have read some of the posts about the conference but mostly I read about it on Twitter, the microblogging platform that limits entries to 140 characters (follow my updates on Twitter; search twitter for #wbc to find posts from the conference). So taking a page from Darren Rowse’s successful recent posting, let’s hear your report from the WBC here in the comments. And in Twitter style, try to make your microreport 140 characters or less.

If you were like me and couldn’t make it there either, don’t let that stop you from getting in on the commenting fun! Tell us about your blog (wine or not) in an elevator pitch in the comments here. There are so many new blogs, it’s always good to hear about the newest directions, particularly for wine! Hopefully we can all find some new blogs to check out.

Some wine blogs to check out

bloggingThey’re not all new, but here are some wine blogs worth checking out if you haven’t already.

Do Bianchi: The itinerant Jeremy Parzen seems to float between New York and San Diego but his wine home is clearly Italy. He has a PhD in Italian literature and worked for an Italian wine importer for a while in NYC. One posting among many interesting ones is how he came to appreciate new oak barrels (barriques) during a visit to Movia in Slovenia. Btw, the blog is pronounced “doh bee-an-kee,” which apparently means “gimme two cold ones” in Italy.

Grape Wall of China: Jim Boyce blogs from Beijing and does an excellent job showing us life through the lens of the wine glass in that exciting market. He seems to buttonhole every winemaker who comes through Beijing and has many interviews with notable wine personalities and even had a picture of himself with Robert Parker on the great wall! He also did a Q&A with some guy named Dr. Vino recently.

Blog Tablas Creek: Jason Haas is the general manager at Tablas Creek, a winery in California’s Central Coast winery specializing in wines from grape varieties from the Rhone. With good reason: the winery is a joint venture between Chateau Beaucastel’s Perrin family and the Haas family of the importer Vineyard Brands. Jason blogs about grapes, events, planting new vineyards, and also this excellent post about the hidden costs of direct shipping after the 2005 Supreme Court decision–wine politics!

On the Wine Trail in Italy Alfonoso Cevola keeps a quirky wine blog when he’s not tending to his daytime duties as Italian Wine Director at the distributor Glazer’s in Texas. He makes posting images look easy (it’s not, trust me) but he is good with words too, infusing his wine experiences in Texas. Since I’m a fan of off-beat wine pairings, check out which wine goes with searsucker.

Steve Heimoff, West Coast editor at Wine Enthusiast magazine and wine book author has turned his energy on blogging. He’s done a good job stirring the pot and, like us, he’s no fan of Styrofoam!

Wine sooth: Frequent commenter on this blog Arthur Przebinda started a blog just last month–so it has that new blog smell. He focuses on wines of Central Coast on his site but promises musings on other topics on his blog.

The image is a reduced size crop of an image that originally appeared in PC Magazine.’s dirty tricks, quality of wine blogging on the rise – tasting sized pours

wine007.jpgPlaying dirty, a retailer with big ambitions (but a rocky past) and a largely meh selection of wines, rats on 29 online retailers who illegally sent wine to Washington state. How do they know? Because they were the ones who ordered the wine from those 29 stores! Scandale! For a fascinating thread check out Vinography where the CEO of appears in the comments along with several anonymous retailers in a clash of the business models. Booooo!! I am pushing my Cramer-style boooo button! [Vinography]

Mo’ moxie
Winemonger, an internet-only retailer specializing in the wines of Austria, has the chutzpa to offer a mixed case of their “best” wines with a 15% discount as a result of’s actions — and they have pledged 10% of the proceeds to the Specialty Wine Retailers’ Association, an organization that probably counts many of the 29 “busted” retailers among their members. Enter discount code: ISUCK at checkout. [winemonger]

Mo’ money
Tom Wark, who writes a fiery blog and is the head of the SWRA, has calculated that wine and spirits wholesalers contributed a staggering $50 million to political election campaigns from 2000 – 2006. Yikes! If that’s what they spend on lobbying, just think what the profits are! For a backgrounder on the politics of wine shipping, check out this story from the LA Times. [Fermentation]

Mo’ betta blogs
Wine & Spirits magazine doesn’t put much of their content online, alas. But two of their senior editors have now started blogs. Peter Liem, who lives in and loves Champagne, has started his “Besotted Ramblings and Other Drivel.” Wolfgang Weber, Italian critic, has started “Spume.” Check them out!

Ceci n’est pas une pub
A French court has ruled that newspaper articles that review wine must carry the same health warnings that apply to advertisements to alcohol advertisements. But don’t consume journalism (and blogs) in moderation! [Decanter]

logoscience-aaas113×60.gifMore carbon footprints
Science magazine of the AAAS has a piece entitled “The Wine Divide” in the January 11 issue about the carbon footprint research I did with Pablo Paster. Welcome Science readers! Consider subscribing to the site feed or the monthly email updates. And congratulations to Pablo! As of next week, he will be analyzing the carbon footprint of everything in a new weekly column for

Related: “Developing: the next shipping battle
Image 1 from

Holiday wines at the new Astor Center – wrapped up!

Thanks to all of you who came out and packed the beautiful room at Astor Center on Friday. It was a great time and fun to see so many participants from my NYU classes of semesters gone by. Many people won prizes! The wines were tasty. But since not all blog readers could fit in the 36 seats, here was our lineup of wintry wines:

1. Col Vetoraz, Prosecco NV. Light, fun, bubbly and $13 (find this wine). A good party wine especially when the party is about things other than the wine.

2. Domaine de la Pepiere, “Granite de Clisson,” Muscadet 2005 (about $20; find this wine). Marc Ollivier is a leading quality producer in this region. This particular bottling is an effort that sees a lot of time on the lees (dead yeast cells that are natural), which gives it more richness than his $9 bottling, which is great for summer since it is more zingy.

3. Saxon Brown Semillion, Casa Santinamaria 2006 ($27; find this wine. A field blend from an old vineyard in Sonoma. It’s a wonderful example of a an aromatically intense wine that is unoaked and people liked the acidity on the palate. Goes great with brown sugar baked ham, I would imagine.

4. Joguet, “Les Petites Roches,” Chinon 2005 (find this wine). Quite tannic so probably needs at least a year in the cellar. Nonetheless, it was good to show an example of tannins in the mouth. Good fruit and good acidity save the wine — one participant remarked how the piave cheese really improved it. Yay, it gets better with food!

5. Rene Rostaing, Cuvee Clasique, Cote-Rote 2004 ($50; find this wine). From this “legend” of the Cote-Rotie, this wine from the syrah grape was subtle and restrained in classic (classique?) old world style. Paired well with the epoisse.

6. Broc Cellars Syrah, Dry Stack Vineyard 2004 ($30; find this wine). I wanted a wine to contrast with the Rostaing and this Broc fit the bill nicely. Quite modern in style, it helped show the difference of new oak on the same grape. In a rough poll, the Rostaing edged this one out by a narrow margin.

7. Dow’s Late Bottled Vintage 2000 port. ($19; find this wine) This wine really was a big surprise–people loved it! They thought it was in the $40 – $60 range so when I told them it was under $20, I had to restrain them from stampeding for the port section. Paired it with a Stilton.

Look for more one evening events in 2008! And I hope to see you there!

The Gourmet Institute: your thoughts for the wine & food blogging panel

On Saturday, I’ll be joining a panel called “Eat the Web: Blogging’s Effect on the Food World” at the Gourmet Institute. The moderator is Ruth Reichl, editor of Gourmet, and Ben Leventhal of, Ed Levine of, and Ganda Suthivarakom of will also be on the panel.

Since not everyone will be in New York on Saturday and even those in the city may not be able to attend, I thought I would ask you: if you were in the audience which subjects would you most like to hear discussed? The existential question of what is a blog? (zzzz) How blogging is revolutionizing journalism, food, wine and the world (or is it)? Just how much influence does blogs have and how can that influence be measured? Do journalists make good bloggers when their editors tell them to blog and they don’t get any extra pay? The ethics of blogging?

This last point was the subject of a recent WSJ article that accused some food bloggers of accepting free meals and “graft.” Some of the online forums may be indeed be very susceptible to manipulation–but bloggers? A point for discussion indeed. NY Mag’s Grub Street, one of the best mag-a-blogs out there thanks to its torrid pace of updates and punchy prose (though boo hoo it doesn’t take comments or have a blogroll), rode to the defense of food bloggers.

Beyond these questions, one thing of interest to me is why food and wine blogs often seem to operate in separate spheres. Yes, more people eat food than drink wine. But I post frequently about foods that go with recommended wines because–gasp!!–I think wine is best enjoyed with food! (and friends, but I’ll save that for another time). I’ll ask the food bloggers about this separation or even neglect of wine from their end. But we’ll have to see how much we can cram into the allotted hour…


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One of the “fresh voices taking wine journalism in new and important directions.” -World of Fine Wine

“His reporting over the past six months has had seismic consequences, which is a hell of an accomplishment for a blog.”

"News of such activities, reported last month on a wine blog called Dr. Vino, have captivated wine enthusiasts and triggered a fierce online debate…" The Wall Street Journal

"...well-written, well-researched, calm and, dare we use the word, sober." -Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher, WSJ

jbf07James Beard Foundation awards

Saveur, best drinks blog, finalist 2012.

Winner, Best Wine Blog

One of the "seven best wine blogs." Food & Wine,

One of the three best wine blogs, Fast Company

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