Glass of Boğazkere anyone? How about Öküzgözü?

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Don’t let the umlauts scare you, Turkish wines may be difficult to pronounce, but they are oh so easy to drink


As if winemaking wasn’t already challenging, imagine doing it in a country where 83% of the population doesn’t drink and the government keeps enacting ever-more restrictive measures on marketing and selling alcohol. Now add a civil war next door and an increasingly volatile political scene and you begin to marvel at the dedication and determination of Turkish winemakers.

Read more at The Alcohol Professor.



Earth, Wind and Fog

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Single Vineyard Pinot Noirs show diversity of terroir in Santa Lucia Highlands


The noted Napa winemaker André Tchelistcheff once quipped that “God made Cabernet Sauvignon, whereas the devil made Pinot Noir.” With its thin skin, susceptibility to mold, rot and sunburn, this diva of the wine world is picky about where it grows. Cool climate Burgundy, of course, is the standard bearer, but in California, where it can be hard to avoid the sun, we see a range of styles. Warmer regions give us big, bold, fruity wines, while more structured wines can found in the state’s cooler nooks and crannies, such as the Russian River Valley, Carneros, Anderson Valley, and Santa Lucia Highlands.

Read more at The Alcohol Professor

A New Look for the Wine Advocate

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Robert Parker talks points, Parkerization and why this is the greatest time ever for wine lovers



On April 1, the Wine Advocate’s website,, unveiled a whole new look. At a recent press conference in New York, Robert Parker and editor-in-chief Lisa Perrotti-Brown, MW, announced the site’s redesign, which is the first since the publication went online in 2001. It is the latest development at the Wine Advocate since Parker sold a majority interest to Singapore investors three years ago. “The Wine Advocate had to move into the 21st century,” said Parker, who will turn 69 this year. “We had to come up with better technology. I’ve gotten long in the tooth, but our new investors are better adapted to do that.”

Read more at The Alcohol Professor

Exploring the Wines of Ribera y Rueda

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Neighboring regions of Ribera del Duero and Rueda in Spain form a delicious alliance


“A bottle of red, a bottle of white . . .”

Three years ago my husband and I spent a month in San Sebastian, Spain, and did our daily shopping at a postage-stamp sized grocery store that carried a tiny but brilliantly curated selection of goods: freshly sliced jamon, aged Manchego, and just-picked white asparagus still covered in the red soil of nearby Navarra. The store also managed to find room for quite a few bottles of good wines, surprisingly, none of which exceeded 5 euros. A favorite among them was a Verdejo from Rueda, which I still remember as crisp and refreshing with more going on in the glass than could possibly be expected for $7 a bottle.

Read more at The Alcohol Professor.

America makes port too, just don’t call them that

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American fortified wines are about as idiosyncratic as they come in the wine world. Although they’ve been made here since the late 1700s, no singular style has emerged out of any of the major wine regions. Lacking any guidance from tradition, however, has meant that winemakers have had a free hand to experiment, especially those emulating port. Some producers use traditional Portuguese grape varieties, but you’ll also find port-style wines made from Syrah, Tannat, Zinfandel, even Viognier.

Whatever you do, however, don’t call them “port.” Since 2006 only those wines made in the Duoro Valley in Portugal can use the protected geographical name (those made before 2006 can still use the term). American winemakers, therefore, have had to get creative with their marketing, coming up with names like Starboard and USB. All ports are made by adding brandy to halt fermentation leaving behind some of the grapes’ natural sugars. The different styles come from differences in aging and blending. Most American ports are ruby styles, which means they are bottled after a few years aging in barrel and still show ripe red fruit. Tawnies are aged in barrel much longer and take on dried fruit and toffee notes. Whether you pair them with cheese or sip by the fire, American port-style wines are worth seeking out. Learn about some of the best here at the Alcohol Professor .

Time for Bubbles!

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I love drinking sparkling wine all year round for any old reason, or no reason at all. But on New Year’s Eve, when the clock strikes midnight, it’s nearly obligatory to raise a glass of something sparkly. The question is, what to pour? These days there are so many options it’s possible to find a good bottle at any price point. While the grand marques of Champagne still dominate the wine store shelves, in recent years they’ve been joined by cava, prosecco, crémant, sekt, pét-nat, Franciacorta, Moscato d’Asti, and the ever-increasing number of grower Champagnes. The Alcohol Professor website has all my recommendations to get the New Year off to a delicious start.

Here’s to a happy 2016!


Wines Worth the Wait: Alsatian Vendange Tardive

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At this time of year most vineyards have long since harvested their grapes. However, should you happen to spot berries still on the vine, know that they’re headed for something special. Late harvest wines to be exact, and all that extra sunshine translates into added layers of honeyed richness, complexity, and delicate sweetness. A great match with apple pies or pear tarts, they feel in sync with the autumn season. One place that excels in these late-harvest styles is Alsace, where they’re known as vendange tardive. You can read all about them in my article here.







More than just Icewine in the Finger Lakes

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Given the crazy cold winters in the Finger Lakes wine region of upstate New York, it was no surprise to find a wide range of seriously good Icewines. Along with Niagara, this cool climate region is making a name for itself with wines made from frozen grapes. What did surprise me, however, was the variety of other dessert wines such as vin doux naturel, port and late harvest wines. What are these wines? What do they taste like? Are they any good? Find out more in my article here.


Friendly Faces of the Finger Lakes

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Spend even a short time in the Finger Lakes wine region in upstate New York and you quickly realize that it’s not just the bucolic landscape or the fresh-from-the-farm produce or even the impressive wines that make this place so special. What ties it all together and what will lodge a visit firmly in your memory is the people. New York’s largest wine region comprises more than 130 wineries spread around the shores of four main lakes (out of 11 total), but after five days of traveling and tasting through the area, what quickly became clear is what a tight-knit, collaborative community it is. They lend a helping hand when needed, collaborate on making wine, and when 250 wine bloggers invade their vineyards, what do they do? Welcome them with open arms, serve them delicious food straight from the farmer’s market and generously share their wines. Here are some of the friendly winemakers who opened their doors for the 2015 Wine Blogger’s conference.

Ventosa Vineyards

Ventosa owner Lenny Cecere with his 2011 Lemberger on the night it won the Governor’s Cup award for best New York wine. At 28, Jenna Lavita, Ventosa’s winemaker is the youngest to win this award.

Leidenfrost Vineyards

Liz Leidenfrost is the third generation of this winemaking family.

Three Brothers Wineries & Estates

Erica Paolicelli poured this light, bright Riesling from Three Brothers.

Standing Stone Vineyards

Along with her husband, Tom, Marti Macinski makes a lovely lineup of wines including this Gewürztraminer ice wine.

Anthony Road Wine Company

The sage of the Finger Lakes? Certainly one of the most gregarious hosts we had. John Martini, owner of Anthony Road, knows how to captivate a wine tasting audience, and the wines are great too.

Hazlitt 1852

The handiwork of John Santos, vineyard manager, ends up in this fine bottle of Hazlitt’s Cabernet Franc.

Fox Run Vineyards

Owner Scott Osborne (top left) and winemaker Peter Bell (bottom right) treated our group of 50 to a winery tour and lunch with wine pairings. Peter’s not-so-secret passion is port made in the Australian, rancio style. This tawny is outstanding.

Hearts & Hands Wine Company

Tom Higgins and his wife, Susan (sadly not shown, she’s lovely), focus on Pinot Noir and Riesling. Their dedication shows in this white Pinot Noir Polarity.

Hermann J. Wiemer

They pulled out all the corks when our small crew stopped by unannounced for a tasting. Fred Merwarth (top right) makes an outstanding range of wines that include single-vineyard Rieslings, sparkling Chardonnay (I highly recommend the 2009), Pinot noir, Cabernet franc and botrytized dessert wines. Katie Cooke, assistant winemaker and Oskar Bynke, estate manager, (lower left) kept the wines flowing.

Dinner from Dano’s at Hazlitt 1852

That chef Dano Hutnik was a ballet dancer in Vienna was just one of the many surprises of our dinner at Hazlitt 1852. That seafood stuffed cabbage could be so delicious (paired with Gewürztraminer) was another. Alas, our Russian napoleons were served without a pirouette, but they were still delicious.

Sweet Wines for Summer

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Follow this link to and check out my article on great dessert wines for summer.