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2018-01-16T15:01:06.558Z
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It’s high time that people stop saying these 12 things about wine.

Sooner or later in your wine journey, you’re going to come across, shall we say, certain people: certain people who say certain things. They may be going for refined, but we both know they’re coming off as something else. Let them say their piece, pity them quietly, and be content in taking the high road.

  1. 1. “I only drink…”

    “I only drink…” / “I don’t drink…”

    There’s no way this sentence ever ends well. The world of wine is so big! There are over 1,400 identified grape varieties and thousands of unique wine regions. Why anyone would limit themselves to just a tiny fraction of it, simply doesn’t make sense. Maybe it’s no big thing, though. They could be in a wine phase and not even know it!


  2. 2. “Actually, it’s pronounced…”

    Pronouncing Alicante Bouschet, Gewürztraminer, and Txakoli (or Txakolina) without breaking a sweat is pretty cool. But you know what’s even cooler? Not giving people a hard time if they pronounce it wrong! (Lord knows we didn’t do it right on our first try.)


What do you buy a wine lover? Wine, maybe? Egads no! I’ve done this, and even as a wine-smart person I can attest to the fact that it’s an adventure in uncertainty –like buying art for an art collector. So instead, leave tasting to the tasters and focus on all the wonderful items that wine enthusiasts truly need, want, and lust after.

Unique Wine Gifts for Wine Lovers

Some of the wine gifts are quite new and others are tried-and-true. Please enjoy the Wine Folly Wine Gift Guide for 2017 and we hope it helps you create the perfect gift for the wine lover in your life.

Wine Gifts Under $40

A really good sommelier friend of ours ran up a sizable credit card bill after discovering Natural Whine on Instagram. Yes, we are wholly disappointed in her money management skills, but no, we can’t help but gawk in awe every time she wears her Cru Beaujolais sweatshirt.

Even wine hipsters need to wear clothes.

Pet Nat Tee $30

 


For those who still love the feeling of writing,...

Need to load up on bubbly, but clueless about cost and quality? Not to worry! Here’s how to find the best Champagne and sparkling wine for every budget.

Find the Best Champagne on Any Budget

There’s no doubt about it: trying to find the best Champagne can be an intimidating thing. While it’s exciting to traipse through the sparkling wine aisle, it can turn stressful pretty fast when you see the French names, opulent branding, and hefty price tags. You ask yourself,

“How much should I be paying? Is it any good? Will people actually like it?”

You panic, grab the prettiest label, and speed off to your celebration, hoping it tastes as good as it looks. We’ve been there, done that. That’s why we wrote this helpful guide full of tips and tricks on how to avoid common mishaps and get the best taste for your dollar. Think of this like a worry-free guide to buying the best Champagne (and sparkling wine) for your budget.

Table of Contents
  1. $0–$10 – Mass Consumption
  2. $10–$20 – Basic, But Delicious
  3. $20–$30 – Getting Sophisticated
  4. $30–$50 – Brand-Name Champagne
  5. $50–$100 – Vintage Territory
  6. $100+ – Prestige


Large mechanized production makes sparkling wine possible under $10.

$0–$10 –...

14 wines that are perfect for holiday celebrations, rich cuisine, and evenings in with Netflix.

Break out your ugly sweaters, digital Yule logs, and low-hanging Game of Thrones references… winter is coming. Here’s what we’re hot for when the temperature drops.

14 Winter Wines

First things first, the classics:

  1. 1. Nebbiolo

    Whoever came up with the phrase “appearances can be deceiving,” must have had Nebbiolo in mind. Yes, it looks pale and pleasant like Pinot Noir, but this Piedmontese beast has high acidity and grippy tannins that will make for an experience you won’t soon forget. Decant for 45 minutes and watch it rain complex rose, cherry, and leather flavors all over your palate. You won’t know what hit you.

    • Classic Regions: Barolo, Barbaresco, Roero, Valtellina, and Gattinara
    • Food Pairings: risotto, charcuterie, winter squash, mushrooms, truffles, fancy silverware, and food cooked in quenelles
    Micro Guide to Nebbiolo Wine
  2. 2. Shiraz

    ‘Tis the season for something rugged. Best described as big, brooding, and boozy, Australian Shiraz is known for its powerful black fruit flavors, savory undertones, and high ABV (14%-15%), thanks to plentiful Down Under sunshine. It’s not for...

The new guide to German and Austrian sparkling wines.

Anyone who loves Champagne needs to know about the new things happening with Sekt. What’s Sekt? It’s the term used for sparkling wines in Germany and Austria. And, it just might have the potential to roust France’s stronghold on bubbly.

Say hello to Sekt.

Getting to Know Sekt Wine

Since its inception in the 1820s, Sekt has endured a lifetime of mediocrity. This is because Sekt only maintained low quality standards, which allowed a tidal wave of cheap bubbly into the marketplace. On the positive side, everyone drinks the stuff.

In 2014, Germany consumed over 5 bottles of sparkling wine per person–FIVE times the rate in the US! Austria comes in right behind, drinking four bottles of sparkling wine per person each year. The two countries represent the largest sparkling wine markets in the world.

Of course, very little Sekt is exported because honestly, it’s not good… (Imagine what bad kids drink in public parks–my past self included.) Fortunately, some recent changes in wine governance show great promise for exceptional quality Sekt.

All About German Sekt Wine

We all may look to Champagne for bubbly inspiration, but Germany can claim three top sparkling wine houses. You may have never heard their names, but together the conglomerate brands of Rotkäppchen-Mumm, Henkell and Söhnlein, and Schloss Wachenheim produce 575.4...

One of the world’s great cuisines calls for a great wine. Here’s what to pair with Thai—a food that combines the sweet, the sour, the salty, and the spicy in perfect harmony.

Thai cuisine is unique. Take a moment to see if you can sum it up in one sentence.

No, seriously, try it. We’ll wait…

Time’s up! Not so easy is it?

What goes into your favorite Pad Thai or curry isn’t a random assembly of ingredients. It’s a complex blend of the sour, sweet, salty, and spicy, as well as the bitter and aromatic.

 

Wine Pairing with Thai Food

Is there a wine that can pair with such intricate fare? Of course there is! In fact, we’ve got several for the next time a Thai craving strikes.

Best Option: Riesling

If Thai cuisine is all about harmony, a nice off-dry Riesling is a welcome addition to the chorus. It’s almost too perfect: dynamite tropical fruit flavors with acidity and sweetness to cut the spice. There are even some Rieslings that feature jasmine in their bouquet! Plus, if you’re sensitive to heat, the low ABV will ensure the fire doesn’t get too out of control.

 

Great Alternatives

So, you’re still anti-Riesling. (You’ll get there if we have anything to do with it!) Fortunately...

This guide is a run down on how to find a great wine club and includes several examples of good ones (and bad ones). Empower your knowledge to make a smart wine club choice, and know how to suss out the swill.

Wine Clubs are Great for Beginners

Wine clubs are a great way to start exploring new wines, especially if you’re a beginner. For this reason, gifting a wine club membership to someone is about as thoughtful of a gift as it gets.

I would know. My dad subscribed my to the basic K&L Wine Merchants Club when I turned 21. It lead to my becoming a sommelier, starting this website, and creating a best-selling book. In short, wine changed my life for the better. I hope wine can change your life for the better too.

Wine Clubs are Not Created Equally

On the flip side, there are a bunch of unsavory wine clubs out there that are nothing more than a bulk wine clearing house. These clubs look virtually the same as the real deal on the surface, but the quality is about as good as the bottom row of a grocery store shelf.

So, how do you find the best wine club?

Pie and wine.

Could it be the fastest way to get a hangover? Possibly. Still, you’re only human. It’s your errant human nature that leads to the occasional, insatiable craving. Be it pie and wine or worse: that pink cheetah print jumper you have in your closet.

So, if you’re going in deep, you might as well do it right.

To that effect, here is an ill-advised, yet delightful journey to find the best possible pie and wine pairings. Prepare to make enemies with your dentist.

Pie and Wine Pairings Done Right

Apple Pie and Dry Marsala

Commonly used in cooking and the creation of rich, caramelized sauces, dry Marsala makes an excellent pairing with apple pie, bringing flavors of foraged nuts, vanilla, and citrus rind to America’s favorite pie. Of course, if you’re a wine geek, you know that Marsala isn’t the only dessert wine from Sicily! The high-brow alternative would be something like Marco de Bartoli’s “Vecchio Samperi,” which is this whacky, crazy-delicious, un-fortified un-Marsala that’s 100% Grillo. Mic drop.

 


We’d love to thank Adam Montefiore, an expert on Israeli wine and Kosher wine, for contributing this article.

What is Kosher wine and does it taste different from regular wine?

Short answer: No. Kosher wines tastes the same!

That said, there are some differences in Kosher wines that would even be of interest to non-Jews, such as those with dietary restrictions. Onward!

What is Kosher Wine?

Consuming kosher foods is essential to all who observe Jewish religious dietary laws (Kashrut). The religious laws are a set of standards for food preparation and winemaking. Just so you know, the term “Kosher” was derived from the Hebrew word for “fit,” meaning fit for consumption.

Myth: Kosher wines do not have to be blessed by a Rabbi.

Kosher Wine Quality Yay? or Nay?

The principles of making Kosher wine are the same as for non-Kosher wine. The same Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, whether grown in California, Bordeaux, or Galilee, are grown and harvested in the same way, fermented in the same temperature controlled tanks, aged in the same small oak barrels, and bottled in the same manner. The winemaker will have studied at a place like U.C. Davis, and the winery equipment is the pretty much identical. A Kosher winery is just like any winery...

Here are 12 facts that will completely change the way you think about red wine.

1. Drinking red wine in small doses is better for you than not drinking at all!

It might come as a surprise, but several human trial studies have shown moderate red wine consumption to be better for you than not drinking at all. Why? The antioxidants found in red wine lower incidences of cardiovascular disease, mortality, and type-2 diabetes. Of course, if you drink more than you’re supposed to, the benefits are replaced by increased health risks. So, do yourself a favor, drink red wine in moderation.


 

2. Red wine’s health benefits come from tannin.

Pretty much everything in wine that’s not alcohol or water is a type of polyphenol. Polyphenols include tannin, color pigment, wine aromas, resveratrol, and about 5,000 other plant compounds. Of these polyphenols, the most abundant in wine for health reasons are Procyanidins, which are a type of condensed tannin also found in green tea and dark chocolate. This compound is specifically associated with inhibiting cholesterol plaque in blood vessels, which is...

You’re getting into red wine. You’re craving something different. Something savory. Enter Tempranillo, Spain’s #1 wine grape. With the structure of Cabernet Sauvignon and meaty nature of Carignan, Tempranillo is an experience to behold. When young, it can be surprisingly fresh and fruity. However, with oak and age, you’ll find more of the dust, tobacco, and leather flavors serious wine fans crave.

Read on for recommendations, flavor profiles, and facts that illustrate the special nature of this wine variety.

Tempranillo Wine Facts

Grape Facts
  1. It’s the dominant red grape in Rioja, which was Spain’s first region to become a household name.
  2. The name, Tempranillo, comes from the Spanish temprano, meaning “early,” which is fitting as it ripens earlier than other grapes native to Spain.
  3. Tempranillo vines are one of the easiest to identify in the vineyard because of their jagged, deep-lobed leaves.
  4. In love with fall foliage? Tempranillo is one of the few varieties where the leaves turns bright red in the fall. It’s one of the most beautiful sights in the vineyard.
  5. There exists a small, white mutation of Tempranillo called Tempranillo Blanco. Authorized for use in White Rioja, Tempranillo Blanco has a similar growing cycle to red Tempranillo and even faces the same growing challenges....

Love Cabernet Sauvignon, but crave something more smooth, lush, and less aggressive? Go with Merlot. With upfront fruit flavors, moderate tannin, and balanced acidity, Merlot is an ideal food pairing wine and a safe bet for any occasion. Yes, it doesn’t command the respect that a bold Cabernet Sauvignon often does, but it doesn’t command the same price tag either, often leading to a better quality-value ratio. So, if you’ve been put off by cheap commercial interpretations or an off-hand Paul Giamatti quote from over 15 years ago, we strongly recommend revisiting a wine loved by beginners and experts alike.

Merlot Wine Facts

Grape Variety Facts
  1. Merlot is second-most planted grape in the entire world. (Cabernet Sauvignon is number one.)
  2. Merlot is the most planted variety in Bordeaux.
  3. Cabernet Franc is the father of Merlot, but do you know the mother? (it’s rare!) It’s Magdeleine Noire des Charentes, an old, esoteric variety discovered through DNA testing.
Did You Know?
  1. Merlot translates to “little blackbird” in an old regional French dialect.
  2. Chateau Pétrus, one of the most highly coveted (and counterfeited) wines on this planet is made almost entirely of Merlot! Interested? This Bordeaux wine will run you somewhere between $2,000-$5,000 a bottle.

Take a peek at these sommelier-approved wine and fried chicken pairings for your next bucket of extra crispy.

“Crisp, crunchy, yet succulent… fried chicken pairs ‘awesomely’ with sparkling wine.” –Madeline Puckette

Fried Chicken Wine Pairings

When it comes to pairing wine with fried chicken, your best bet is sparkling wine. Once you’ve tried it, you’ll never go back to pairing fried chicken with coke, lemonade, or sweet tea ever again.

Why? There’s a lot of oil, salt, and fat in fried chicken. (Sad, but true, and also so delicious!) With abundant acidity, effervescence, and complementary flavors, sparkling wine effortlessly cuts through all of it, cleansing and refreshing your palate with every bite – sans the bloating. Consider the following and look for Extra Brut, Brut, Extra Dry, and Dry examples were you can. (Dry is sweeter than you think!)

  • Champagne – If you’re going for broke.
  • Crémant – If you’re already broke.
  • Cava – If you want something dry, lean, and with zesty aromatics and a great quality-value ratio.
  • Prosecco – If you want something a little more on the sweeter, fruiter side that’s also fairly affordable.
  • Sparkling Rosé – If you’re dealing with spice and heat.

Wine Pairing Alternatives

Need more options? Check out these...

A study came out today in American Society for Reproductive Medicine that showed a positive correlation between ovarian counts in women and moderate red wine consumption.

Red Wine and Pregnancy

What does it mean?

Drinking more than five servings of red wine per month is associated with increased antral follicles (microscopically small sleeping eggs in the ovary). Currently, the antral follicle count is one way doctors determine fertility.

Yay! Go out and drink red wine and make babies!

Wait just one minute!

What other news reports on this finding might not tell you is that the correlation is considered not significant. The statistical analysis is close, but not quite the necessary p=0.05 that statisticians need to go “Eureka!” That said, red wine performed about 14 times better than white wine, beer, and spirits.

Researchers were surprised. The study’s original hypothesis was simply to see if alcohol reduced ovarian egg counts. Wine wasn’t the only beverage tested; some women drank beer and others drank spirits. Researchers don’t know why wine performed better than other drinks. The current theory is resveratrol had something to do...

Lodi wine country sits smack dab in the middle of California’s vast, flat central valley. It’s one of those places you can pass through without realizing you’re surrounded by over 100,000 acres of vineyards! (Twice the size of Napa Valley!.)

This guide will help you find great Lodi wines.

Lodi sits east of the San Francisco Bay and receives cooling breezes and fog from the Pacific Ocean.

 

Lodi Wine Guide

On the surface, Lodi doesn’t seem to be very special. There are several big brands (Woodbridge, Rex-Goliath, Bronco Wine Co., Sutter Home, etc) who use Lodi fruit in their unexciting California wines (chiefly, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Pinot Grigio).

Lodi is a treasure trove of old vines and forgotten wine varieties.

However, below the surface, Lodi is a treasure trove of old vines and forgotten wine varieties. It’s a land of smoky-yet-aromatic red wines that will floor you… made by unassuming, all-American farmers. Yep, true story. You just need to know what to look for. Let’s dive in!


“Old Man Walking” on Mohr-Fry Ranch Vineyard is one of many 100+ year-old Zinfandel vines in Lodi. by Lodiwine.com.

Wines of Lodi

If there is one grape variety that defines Lodi wine, it’s Zinfandel. Not only is Zinfandel the most widely planted grape in the region, it’s also responsible for putting Lodi on...

Once you know these tricks, you won’t be frustrated by a restaurant wine list ever again. Here are 3 tips on how to tackle wine labels.

3 Useful Tips on Reading Wine Labels


This illustration is from Wine Folly: The Essential Guide to Wine.

Some Wines are Labeled by Grape Variety

When you see a wine labeled with “grape” words like Cabernet Sauvignon or Albariño, then it’s labeled by grape variety. There are hundreds (actually, thousands) of different wine varieties and it’s possible to label a wine with more than one grape.

What Varietal Labeling Tells You

Wine labeled by variety doesn’t guarantee that the wine is 100% of the listed variety. Each country has their own set of minimum requirements to label wine by variety (Surprisingly, the United States has the lowest!):

  • 75% USA (except for Oregon which requires 90%)
  • 80% Argentina
  • 85% Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Portugal, New Zealand, South Africa, Australia, United Kingdom

 

Some Wines are Labeled by Region

(aka “vin de terroir”) Wines like Bordeaux, Chablis, Chianti, Sancerre, and Rioja are labeled by region. This style of labeling is used mostly in old world wine countries like France, Italy, Spain and Portugal. Regional labeling likely came from a time when many different varieties grew together in the same vineyards and were blended together into wine.

What Regional...

Because you’re too old for candy anyway.

And so are we. Not to mention, there are plenty of wines that will satisfy your sweet tooth. (See: Serious Sweet Wines, and Port Pairings, and Ice Wine, please.)

So instead eating sweets, sip along with one of these 13 classic flicks and get your heart pulsing this Halloween. Submitted for your approval: Scary good horror movie wine pairings to consume in-between all your candy dispensing.

13 Classic Horror Movie Wine Pairings

Carrie – Uruguay Tannat

It’s a little shy, a little awkward compared to other well-known wine regions. But trust us, this Tannat is bigger and badder than everyone’s favorite cheerleader. (Better watch yourself Cabernet.)

  • Pro-Tip: Find out why Tannat is the next “it” wine. Click here.

 


The Silence of the Lambs – Chianti

Perfect if you’re having friends for dinner, we mean, over for dinner. (What’d we say?) Pairs better with pizza than liver and fava...

Regardless of how you found your way into wine, you’re here now! Thank goodness. Of course, wine drinking is very much a journey itself, and it’s quite likely that your wine palate will change over time. This type of taste evolution has no doubt already happened once in your life. For example, remember how you once loved strawberry milk, but now you drink black coffee for breakfast? (You know who you are!) It’s kind of like that.

The 7 Stages of Your Wine Palate

It’s time to pay a little homage to each step of our wine palate evolution, from beginner to enthusiast. Ironically, once you get to the end, you’ll find yourself back at the beginning.

Find out where your wine palate fits in the grand scheme of taste.

Sweet Wine Phase

Wine is…whoa. Wine is for me!

If you’re coming to wine from the world of gin and vodka cocktails, chances are your wine palate will prefer sweet white and rosé wines. On the surface, these wines are straight-forward and easy to understand with big, obvious, fruity aromas, and sweet-tart flavors.

Oddly enough, sweet wines are not...

Because you don’t already have enough liquid in you.

There are a lot articles out there talking about the challenges of pairing soup with wine. Yes, the last thing you need when you’re working on a nice soup belly is more liquid. Yes, the interplay of broths, bases, and ingredients can leave even a seasoned gourmand stumped.

But you know what? Pairing soup and wine doesn’t have to be so hard. In fact, it’s actually pretty simple if you apply the basic concepts of food and wine pairing. Here at Wine Folly, we talked it over and came up with the soups we’re hot on this season and the wines we’d drink with them. Read on. (But not with an empty stomach.)

Pairing Wine with Soup

Chili Con Carne with Tempranillo

This hearty, spicy Tex-Mex favorite begs for an equally muscular and meaty wine to ride alongside it. That’s why we picked Tempranillo, specifically a Rioja Reserva (or Gran Reserva, if you’re feeling fancy). If you really want to be legit, try a Tempranillo from Texas (a specialty!).

Why? The dusty, leathery Tempranillo wines from Spain offer enough spice and meatiness to work as a congruent pairing with the dish. When served alongside the chili, it will actually make the wine taste a little more fruity (kind of...

Pure fruit-driven red wines with a touch of tartness.

Unless you grew up in Russia in the 1970s and 80s, there’s a pretty good chance that you’ve never tried Bulgarian wine. It was during this time that Bulgaria (a country smaller than New York State) became the 4th largest wine producer in the world. Of course, westerners barely saw a drop. Ninety percent went to the Soviet Union and the Bulgarian wine industry was a state-run, socialist, wine-growing monopoly. No joke!

Then, things crumbled apart in 1989 when the socialist regime fell. The transition of land ownership and wineries back to the private sector meant quality suffered greatly until about 2000 (check out SAPARD). It’s been a long, slow, hard road for the last 30 odd years but…

Bulgarian wine is back!

Since you’re likely to see more Bulgarian wine in coming years (especially if you’re on the East Coast or Europe), this introduction to the wines of Bulgaria will give you a leg up on what to look for.

Just so you know, not only does Bulgaria offer exceptional wine quality for jaw-dropping value, there are many unique varieties that you won’t find anywhere else.

“After a recent trip to Bulgaria, I was blown away by the wines...