Double Your Pleasure, Double Your Wine Knowledge! Wine Folly: Magnum Edition: The Master Guide

Hello Friends,

A bottle of wine can offer countless pleasures—trust me, I know. Yet the subject of wine can be very intimidating. I see this firsthand, during regular visits to wine shops and in-store tastings, and I’m talking basics: all Rieslings are sweet, all Chardonnay is oaky, old wines must be better, etc. I preach that expanding one’s wine knowledge will usually expand one’s enjoyment of wine. It’s worked for me. I also believe that the best learning comes from tasting wine and trying new things. That said, there is a good reason why my book shelves at home are filled with wine books.

A must-have wine book, regardless of your wine knowledge! 

On a press trip years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Madeline Puckette and Justin Hammack, the dynamic duo behind Wine Folly. This was well before the first edition of the book came out, and ...

Wine Spectator Learning Center Opens Soon!

U.S. Congressman Mike Thompson to attend the Grand Opening of The Wine Spectator Learning Center

The Wine Spectator Learning Center at Sonoma State University is scheduled to open at the end of May. The Grand Opening including a ribbon cutting ceremony takes place May 29 between 6pm and 8pm.

Those who would like to attend can RSVP online.

The Wine Spectator Learning Center will be the Wine Business Institute’s new headquarters and is considered to be a state-of-the-art center.

The facility will have numerous dedicated spaces including:

  • 3 classrooms with advanced technology
  • a student commons
  • a café
  • garden areas
  • faculty and business leaders collaborative spaces

According to the Sonoma State University announcement about the Grand Opening, “This state-of-the-art center is a true reflection of both the character and business needs of our wine-growing region,” said President Judy K. Sakaki.

The announcement included remarks by Executive Director of the Wine Business Institute, Ray Johnson. …

Certifiably Certifiable (Talking Wine Certifications For SevenFifty Daily)

SevenFifty Daily’s Guide to Wine Education


I was recently asked by my friend Lana Bortolot for a quick interview, to help contribute to a piece she was writing about the value (or lack thereof) of certifications in the wine biz. Lana’s work has subsequently been published in a well-researched and well-considered article, SevenFifty Daily’s Guide to Wine Education. My dime-store-level philosophizing can be found in the article’s section on the Society of Wine Educators (SWE). I was shocked, in a decidedly pleasant way, at how many of the other sources quoted in Lana’s article that I happen to know personally, have worked with, and/or consider to be friends, which I suppose underscores my comments that Lana quoted in the piece. It’s kind of difficult to imagine, but there was a time a few years ago when certifications were a bit of a fire-starter topic in the wine blogging community; the value propositions ...

Two reds from Portugal

Tons de Duorum Red 2014, Douro, Portugal (£8.90 Tanners) Young, juicy style, fleshy berry to the fore, notes of liquorice, vanilla and herby in the background. Should appeal to Argie Malbec fans. B+ Ramos Reserva 2014, VR Alentejano, Portugal (£6.99 Majestic) A plusher, plummier wine than the above, still spicy, but warmer and more mellow […]

Champagne Thiénot Brut Rosé Édition Limitée NV, France

Christmas morning fodder? Champagne Thiénot Brut Rosé Édition Limitée NV, France (£40.49 Champagne & Châteaux) Quite a rich, yeasty, almost creamy young wine with crisp citrus and apple to the fore, and hints of darker fruit – cherries and raspberries, plus an almost Cab Franc-like blackcurrant leaf character – in there too. Maybe not hugely […]

Champagne Duménil Amour de Cuvée Blanc de Noirs NV

Not the most subtle of Champagnes, but I like the honest rich flavours here Champagne Duménil Amour de Cuvée Blanc de Noirs NV, France (N/A in the UK) A rich, savoury edged Champagne, quite wine-y, with a mature brioche character and rich mouthfilling red fruit flavours. Almost too much to drink by itself, so try […]

Two Bordeaux reds from Graves

Same price, same region, but not same flavour… Château Haut Courneau Graves 2011, Bordeaux, France (£10.00 Oddbins) I like the sweet fleshy plummy berry flesh and hint of cedar; I’m less keen on the touch of greenness and slightly baked character, and I don’t think it’s going to get any better. But it’s still OK. […]

Two reds from Priorat

Frares Priorat 2013, Catalunya, Spain (£13.00 Marks & Spencer) Plenty of burly plum and damson jam flavour plus dark berry flesh, but there’s still freshness form somewhere, despite the 15% alcohol. Add in warm dustiness, some smoky bacon and a wild, spicy element and you have a fascinating young and appealing wine. S Taste The […]

Five Tempranillos (-ish) from Spain & Australia

Viña Real Rioja Crianza 2011, Spain (£11.05 Lea & Sandeman Company Ltd, Fortnum and Mason Plc, Cranbrook Wines, D.Byrne & Co, Ann et Vin Ltd, Hailsham Cellars, York Wines, Pimlico Dozen Ltd, Field and Fawcett, Cheers Wine Merchants, Wino’s Ltd, Bin 21 Limited, The Clifton Cellars, The Ltd, Dickens House Wine Emporium Ltd, Hoults […]

Five Chardonnays from Argentina

Viñalta Chardonnay 2014, Mendoza, Argentina (£8.00 Marks & Spencer) A slightly disjointed style, with overrichness – creamy toffee, slightly confected pineapple and fig – set against underrichness -grapefruit pith. And doesn’t seem to settle down with time… C Andeluna 1300 Chardonnay 2014, Mendoza, Argentina (~£11-12 Anglia Wines, Smoking Jacket, Strictly Wine, Alice News Ltd, Wined […]

Spicy Reds from the Languedoc & Australia

Clefs du Pontif Grenache/Syrah Pays d’Oc 2014, Languedoc, France (£9.99 Averys) Young, crunchy wine, juicy berry and plum with a hint of spice, I can’t fault its intensity, but it just feels a bit correct, too ‘made’. C+ Ess & See Mataro 2013, McLaren Vale, Australia (£15.99 Virgin Wines) Boisterous youngster showing gentle dark berry […]

A bunch of Côtes du Rhône Rosés

Domaine Saint Gayan Côtes du Rhône Rosé 2014, France (£10.50 Yapp Brothers) Bright and breezy style with juicy apple and strawberry flavours, and a slightly salty edge to the finish. Not hugely complex, but it’s a decent fresh quaff. B- Père Anselme La Grivelière Côtes du Rhône Rosé 2014, France (£10.09 Exel Wines) Young and […]

Four(-ish) Semillons from Australia

Blind Spot Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc 2014, Margaret River, Australia (£7.75 The Wine Society) They’ve done this really well. Some Margaret River SSBs can be too angular, but this sees the slightly catty/citrussy Sauvignon character in with a richer, muskier guava note. Great for this price, and no sign that it’s going to fade in the near […]

Three 2012 Reds from Bordeaux

Château de Ricaud Bordeaux Supérieur 2012, France (£9.99 Booths) Honest, juicy style, ripe plummy red berry flavours backed up by chewy but never harsh tannins, plus a refreshing finish. Good midweek quaff. B Château Fonguillon Montagne-Saint-Émilion 2012, Bordeaux, France (£9.99 Tesco) Deeper, darker style with plummy blackberry and blackcurrant flesh with some smoky oak in […]

Three Bordeaux whites

Dourthe No.1 Bordeaux Sauvignon Blanc 2014, France (£7.95 The Wine Society) Young, vibrant wine, classic ‘green’ Sauvignon flavours – cut grass, greengage and asparagus, with a squeeze of lemon and lime – but also a weightier side, with a hint of nectarine coming through. Really tasty wine. S- Château Argadens Bordeaux Blanc 2014, France (£8.95 […]

Three wines from Franciacorta

La Montina Franciacorta Brut NV, Lombardy, Italy (£22 Buon Vino, Passion e Vino) Ripe pineapple and dried apricot flesh, with some citrus, and notes of bread dough and almonds to add further interest, feels young and not hugely complex but still a nice drink. B Enrico Gatti ‘Erbusco’ Franciacorta Brut NV, Lombardy, Italy (£36 Vini […]

Kaiken Ultra Malbec 2012, Mendoza, Argentina

One for the future Kaiken Ultra Malbec 2012, Mendoza, Argentina (£13.99 Winedirect, D Byrne & Co, Luvians Bottle Shop, The Fine Wine Company, Aitken Wines, Whole Foods Market, L’Art du Vin, Hanging Ditch Wine Merchants, Henderson Wines, Halifax Wine Company, The Longship, Liquid Treasure, Chester Beer & Wine, Shills of Cockermouth, The Wine Chambers) Still […]

Marques de Casa Concha Carmenère 2012, Peumo, Chile

Another demo of how with CyT, big can be beautiful Concha y Toro Marques de Casa Concha Carmenère 2012, Peumo, Chile (£12.50 Bold young red with dense damson, blackcurrant and blackberry flavours pepped up by notes of spice, chocolate and green coffee bean. Despite the fruity promise, there’s still some youthful gawkiness, so decant […]

Two reds from Sicily

Fattorie Romeo del Castello ‘Allegracore’ Etna Rosso 2013, Sicily, Italy (£19.50 Tanners) Intriguing wine, gently spicy with a hint of smoky bacon – oak or not? – alongside the warm, plummy red cherry and strawberry flavours. Lovely violet fragrance too, but there’s also a whack of tannin for a backbone. Not for everyone, but I […]