What’s All this Talk About Natural Wine?

What’s All this Talk About Natural Wine?

An Introduction to Natural Wine

In the world of wine, there are the standards: Napa Cabernet, Bordeaux, Burgundy. There are also the trends. Some of these trends look promising but never gain a great foothold. This is especially true in America. I’ve seen South African wines promoted as the next big thing many times. The “Anything but Chardonnay” movement never caught on. It is still the number one white variety people drink the most. But then again, who could ever see the sonic boom that is rosé wine over the past three years. Now it’s all about natural wine.

Natural Wine is the Newest Trend (Or Is It?)

The newest wine trend is natural wine, which is funny because it’s not new at all. It harkens back to a way of winemaking before science and technology took over. A time before chemical pesticides and fertilizers. A time before additives and adjuncts. And, it’s not that long ago. Less than seventy-five years ago winemakers made wine very differently. As a result the wine you see on your supermarket shelves today is missing some of the qualities of those more traditional wines. Today there are winemakers looking back to move forward.

So, What is Natural Wine?

There is no standard definition or rules. There is no governing body. Winemakers use many styles and techniques to make natural wine. Some producers may say that it is a purer way of making wine. Others say that they let the vineyard and grapes make the wine with minimal intervention. The most basic understanding of natural wine would include:

  • Organic, biodynamic, permaculture or other natural farming practices
  • No additives, adjuncts, or chemicals used in the winemaking process
  • The fermentation takes place naturally from ambient yeasts and no inoculations
  • The minimal use of sulfur dioxide or no use at all
  • No fining or excessive filtration

Natural Wine: A Delicious Gamble

While it may sound like an easier way of making wine, it can come with problems. Refermentation in vats or in bottles (explosion time), reduction, spoilage yeasts or bacteria, oxidation, high volatile acidity, and over-pungent Brettanomyces can be some of the problems that may occur. Some consumers are put off by the cloudiness of the wines from the non-filtration or the “funkiness” that may occur in the aromas. Natural wine is more of a gamble than the high-volume production wines that flood the shelves. But life is full of gambles and that’s what makes it fun. Here are five natural wines I chose to show you how good these wines can be.

Le Haut Planty

“Gwin Evan” Muscadet Sèvre et Maine 2016

$22

Muscadet is one the most underrated white wines. No, it is not like Moscato. As with all things French, the name comes from the area, but the grape used to make the wine is Melon de Bourgogne. The wines are almost always aged on their lees (the decayed yeasts and other solids.) You will the term “sur lie” on the label to indicate this. These are wines made for fruits de mer: oysters, shrimp, mussels, razor clams, and the like. The Gwin Evan is from certified organic vineyards with nothing added in the winemaking process. The fermentation is spontaneous with ambient yeast, then aged up to sixteen months on the lees in concrete tanks. It is cloudy, slightly bitter, and has a touch of effervescence. There is a brininess here that craves seafood, so shuck some oysters and drink up!

Charly Thévenet Régnié

“Grain & Granit” 2017

$36

As a son of original “Gang of Four” Morgon winemaker Jean-Paul Thévenet, Charly Thévenet learned early on about a more natural and traditional way of winemaking. He has turned those generational teachings into a dynamic winemaking experience for himself. Charly uses biodynamic farming techniques and minimal intervention. The family planted vineyards planted in 1932 and 1946, so there is old vine goodness here. The grapes go through spontaneous whole-cluster fermentation in the Beaujolais tradition. It is then matured in aged barriques and sees no filtration or fining. The result is delicate, floral, and fruity wine with bright acidity and structure. A soft chill is best to harmonize the fruit and aromatics in this wine.

Southold Farm + Cellar

“Call of the Brave” Red Blend 2017

$30

You knew I had to throw a Texas wine in here! I love what Reagan Meador is doing down in the Hill Country. Reagan first started his wine on the North Fork of Long Island in New York but relocated his family and set up shop in Fredericksburg. He believes in a minimalist approach to the winemaking process in the cellar. The result are wines different from high alcohol, robust wines that we usually see. The Call of the Wild is a blend of Sangiovese and Cabernet Franc sourced from the Texas High Plains. The grapes go through whole-cluster fermentation. The Cabernet Franc does sees one week of carbonic maceration, bringing out the fruitier side of the grape. There is no fining or filtration, so a slight cloudiness does occur in the glass. It is light and fruity with cherry and strawberry notes. Dried lavender, savory herb, and pepper round out the palate. It’s like Spring in a bottle: bright, welcoming, and perfect for a sunny day.

Garage Wine Co.

Cinsault 2015

$22

I love Garage Wine Co.! There hasn’t been an offering from this Chilean producer that I haven’t enjoyed. This is honest-to-goodness cinsault, sourced from organic and biodynamic vineyards in the cool climate Itata Valley. Cinsault is a perfect grape for natural winemaking. It is low in both acid and tannins, ready to drink early, and showcases stylish bright fruit. This wine shows off lush red cherry and blueberry fruit, allspice and cinnamon spice, crushed violets, and a hint of bitterness to balance the fruit.  Check out this beautiful red and other wines from this burgeoning producer.

Donkey and Goat

“Twinkle” Mourvèdre 2017

$28

I am a strong proponent of wineries and producer placing an ingredient list on bottles to show what goes on in the cellar. Donkey & Goat does this and keeps its simple with the ingredients: grapes and minimal sulfur. That’s it. No extra yeasts, adjuncts, mega-purple, acids, or bacteria. Simple, unobtrusive winemaking and a minimum effective amount of sulfur for stability. The Twinkle is 100% Mourvèdre sourced from two vineyards in the El Dorado AVA of the Sierra Foothills. I am used to Mourvèdre wines with a bit of weight, alcohol, and rusticity, but this is just pure fruity joy. Macerated red fruit, a hint of barnyard, crush dark flowers, and spice jump from the glass. The palate is racy and juicy with strawberry and raspberry, citrus zest, and cherry kirsch. Drink this chilled all spring and summer long.

Want to read more about wine? Check out my article about Lambrusco!

 

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Holiday Champagnes and Sparkling Wines

Holiday Champagnes and Sparkling Wines

We are all preparing for Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Now is the time everyone is on the hunt for holiday champagnes and sparkling wines! Nothing says celebration like bubbles in your glas. When it comes to holiday champagnes and sparkling wines there are many choices, styles, and price points to choose from. Do you want a true champagne from France? Or will you be happy with a prosecco from Italy or a cava from Spain? Do you prefer a drier brut style, or does your sweet tooth crave a demi-sec? You may need a budget sparkling for a party. Or you can go all out and drop a few dead presidents on a well-known luxury brand. There are so many choices! But I am here to help. Here are twelve fantastic holiday champagnes and sparkling wines. With six different price points, there will be one that fits your budget.

Sparkling Wines: $10-$20

Segura Viudas Brut Cava: $10

This one is easy-peasy. Cava should be your first choice when looking for holiday champagnes and sparkling wines that doesn’t break the bank. Most fall under the $20 price point. The Segura Viudas is perfect for buying in bulk for a party or as a base for mimosas at brunch. Plus, you can find it almost anywhere. This cava bright and cheery with a rich bubble mousse. It has notes of lemon-lime zest, golden delicious apple, almond biscuit, and sea spray. The finish is very pleasing and lasting. A fantastic starter sparkler for your holidays.

Ziobaffa Organic Prosecco: $17

I know that many go for the Tiffany-blue bottle when choosing a prosecco. However, I want to give you something different. The Ziobaffa Prosecco hits all the social media hashtags. It is organic, vegan, and sustainable. Never mind that though. For me, it’s all about the juice inside. A blend of organic Glera, Chardonnay, and Pinot Grigio from the hills of Treviso in Veneto. It has notes of pear, green apple, and acacia. A bit of residual sugar gives the fruit heft, yet it still stays on the dry side.

Sparkling Wines: $20-$30

Gérard Bertrand 2013 Cuvée
Thomas Jefferson Crémant de Limoux Brut: $21

Crémant is the French term for sparkling wines made in the traditional method, but not in the Champagne region. This usually translates into an excellent value for us! Limoux’s sparkling wines were the only sparkling wines in Thomas Jefferson’s cellar. Hence, the homage to our third president on the label. The Gérard Bertrand Cuvée Thomas Jefferson Crémant de Limoux Brut is a Chardonnay blend with small percentages of Chenin Blanc, Pinot Noir, and Mauzac. It has focused aromas and flavors of Bosc pear, apple, white peach, and fresh thyme. The palate is full-bodied with a lasting, lush finish.

Domaine Carneros 2014 Brut: $29

Domaine Carneros is located in the Los Carneros area of Napa Valley. It is the American outpost of the French champagne house Taittinger. Their entry point sparkling wine is from 100% estate grown fruit and leans a bit more on Chardonnay over Pinot Noir. The result is a fantastic, creamy wine with a rich froth. Notes of apple and orange blossom mingle with strawberry and toast. There is a palatable acidity here, and the length is remarkable. This is an excellent choice for the price when you are buying holiday champagnes and sparkling wines.

Sparkling Wines: $30-$40

J Vineyards NV Cuvée 20 Brut: $33

This wine is from cool-climate sites in the Russian River Valley area of California. The J Vineyards Cuvée 20 is a lush and delectable holiday wines and champagnes choice. A blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, with a touch of Meunier. You will find that aromas of almond, apple, ginger, and fresh bread jump from the glass. The palate is creamy and rich, almost dessert-like without the sweetness. The finish is long, yet leaves you wanting even more.

Schramsberg 2015 Blanc de Blancs Brut: $39

When you see ‘blanc de blancs’ on a label, it translates to a white sparkling wine made from only white grapes. In many sparkling wines, this means 100% Chardonnay like this beauty from Schramsberg. There is almost lemon meringue quality to it, with gobs of citrus and creaminess. A toasty nuttiness accents the fruit and the acidity is very bright to keep this balanced at a dry style.

FUN FACT: Schramsberg sparkling wines have been a favorite at The White House for decades. Nixon even took the 1969 vintage of this wine on his historic trip to China in 1972.

Champagnes: $40-$50

Gosset NV Brut Excellence Brut: $45

Gosset is the oldest wine house in Champagne with its founding in 1584 by Pierre Gosset. For over 425 years, Gosset has produced wines in a range of styles and price points. The non-vintage Brut Excellence is the starting point. Light and vivid, with fruit notes of cherry, apple, and lemon. Freshly baked bread, candied ginger, and orange blossom round out the palate. The finish shows off some terroir with a chalkiness shining through.

Charles Mignon

NV Cuvée de Comte de Marne Rosé Grand Cru Brut: $49

I love this wine! It is sourced from Grand Cru vineyards in the Comte de Marne region of Champagne. This rosé is elegance and class for under $50. A blend of 70% Chardonnay and 30% Pinot Noir and aged for 36 to 48 months in a cellar for complexity and longevity. The result is a delicious Champagne. Its lemon and wild strawberry notes intertwine with toasted bread and rose water. The bubbles are lush and persistent, giving a full-bodied and balanced style.

FUN FACT: You will notice that the bottle is thicker and more opaque than other sparkling wines. The bottle is an homage to wine bottles made before glassmaking became more refined.

CHAMPAGNES: $50-$60

Ruinart NV Blanc de Blancs Brut: $80

Ruinart is the second oldest Champagne house. Established in 1729, it is almost 150 younger than Gosset. Ruinart focuses on Chardonnay-dominate wines. The Blanc de Blancs is one of the best non-vintage examples of this style. It is creamy and full-bodied, but with lively acidity. The fruit notes of white peach, lemon curd, and nectarines swim within the frothy mousse. Aging notes of zwieback and smoke linger with candied ginger and white floral aromas. So rich and lush and plain gorgeous.

J.M. Labruyère Anthologie Grand Cru Rosé Brut: $88

This choice is a relatively new kid on the block. It is one of the first offerings from a “Grower Champagne” producer with a long pedigree. The Labruyère family have been grape growers and wine producers since the 1850s. Their vineyards were once centered in the Macon and Moulin-a-Vent areas of France. This changed when the current generation expanded their holdings by adding almost six hectares of Grand Cru vineyards in Verzenay and Verzy. These new vineyards focus on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The Anthologie Rosé is produced from a single non-designated vintage. It is a blend of 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay. The result is a full, yet crisp wine. It has notes of wild strawberries, tropical fruit, ginger, grilled bread, and marzipan. Labruyère is a producer worth seeking out to add to your holiday champagnes and sparkling wines collection.

CHAMPAGNES: $100+

Perrier-Jouët 2006 Cuvée Belle Epoque Brut: $150

This is the most gorgeous wine bottle. It is also the signature wine from a premier Champagne producer. There is a more current vintage of the Belle Epoque (2011), but I implore you to seek out the 2006 vintage. It is perfect now. A blend of 50% Chardonnay, 45% Pinot Noir, and 5% Meunier with six years of bottle aging. This wine has aromatic notes of Golden Delicious apple, cinnamon toast, Meyer lemon, and honey. The palate is soft, ripe, and lush. A mineral-driven acidity gives it balance. This is luxury Champagne and worth every penny.

Veuve Clicquot 2006 Cuvée Le Grand Dame Brut: $175

This is the prestige cuvée from the most well-known Champagne house. The Le Grand Dame is a tribute to Madame Clicquot, the innovative founder of the house. It is crafted from 100% Grand Cru vineyards spread out over 8 villages. The blend leans on Pinot Noir for finesse and elegance. A full-bodied wine with depth and a streak of bracing acidity that balances the richness. The notes of poached pear, nectarine, peach, brioche, marzipan, and chalk ride the silky palate. It is simply an exceptional Champagne.

I hope you found a few new holiday Champagnes and sparkling wines that you can enjoy this holiday season! If you want more recommendations check out our post on Holiday Party Wines!

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Holiday Party Wines Under $15

Holiday Party Wines Under $15

Its Time for Holiday Party Wines!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and that means holiday parties are all around. From family and friends fêtes to office soirées, you are definitely going to need libations to keep the party going. Whether you are a reveler joining as a guest or a dutiful host, here are 10 fantastic holiday party wines that won’t break the bank, but are guaranteed to brighten everyone’s Christmas spirit.

Castell de Sant Pau Cava Brut Nature

$12

Look, bubbles are expected from your holiday party wines at this time of the year. It’s a celebration after all. You can keep the price down by shying away from true Champagne and looking towards Spain for Cava. This selection from Castel de Sant Pau is aged on its lees for 24 months and given no sugar during the dosage stage. The result will remind you of grower Champagne, but at a fraction of the cost. It is crisp and refreshing with citrus, dried apricot, biscuit, and nut notes. Pair with fresh out of the oven gougères.

Naia Las Brisas Blanco

$11

You will quickly learn that Spain has some of the best values on wines. This bright and cheery white blend is no exception. Made from Verdejo, Viura, and Sauvignon Blanc, the Las Brisas is racy and aromatic with notes of green apple, lemon, nectarine, and lime. Its bracing acidity makes it adaptable to a variety of party foods. I suggest a pairing of a classic fondue.

Scarpetta Pinot Grigio

$13

Keeping a Pinot Grigio on hand is a safe bet for the guest that is not too adventurous in their wine journey. However, that does not mean that your holiday party wines have to be pedestrian or insipid. The Scarpetta Pinot Grigio is a flavorful and beguiling Italian beauty. Aromas and flavors of citrus, peach, melon, and white flower are braced by a stony minerality. This wine shows that Pinot Grigio can be lively and surprising when made well. Pair with prosciutto and soft Italian cheeses.

Kono Sauvignon Blanc

$12

This has been one of my favorite finds and has shown up on a few Top 100 lists over the years. A prototypical New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, the Kono shows all the right notes of gooseberry, tropical fruit, melon, and grapefruit. It has a delicate balance of racy acidity and juicy fruit. A real crowd pleaser of a white wine. Kick it old school and pair this with crab puffs.  

Cave de Lugny Les Charmes Chardonnay

$13

Let’s keep the Chardonnay lovers happy and surprise a few others with this French offering. A classic Maconnais wine and a superb value at the price, the Les Charmes is wonderfully rich and round Chardonnay that shows notes of lemon and orange, baking spice, and honeyed nuts. Looking for a holiday party wines pairing? Deviled eggs, y’all!

Banfi Centine Rosso Toscano

$10

I’m kicking off the holiday party wines red selections with this guaranteed pleaser. The Banfi Centine takes the Sangiovese grapes not chosen for the more esteemed Brunello or Rosso di Montalcino selections from Banfi and blends them with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The result is a mini-Super Tuscan for just a ten-spot. Intense and spicy, with gobs of dark berry fruit and a smidge of earthiness. Break out some “Mad Men” inspired recipes and pair this with rumaki for a flavor explosion.

Cartlidge & Browne Pinot Noir

$13

There are very few Pinot Noirs under $15 that I recommend, but this is one that I am always happy to give. The Cartlidge & Browne is an easy-going Pinot, with dark raspberry and Bing cherry fruit, touches of cinnamon and clove, with a hint of underbrush. Drink this as while you standing at the buffet table hoarding the brie en croute.

Stephen Vincent Crimson Red Blend

$13

A lush and juicy California red blend, the Crimson is made of Petite Sirah, Syrah, Zinfandel, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Fruit forward with minimal tannins and showcasing notes of blueberry pie, baking spice, dark chocolate, and black licorice. No frills, no fuss. Just good, honest juice. Keep it fun by pairing this with pigs in a blanket.  

Silk & Spice Red Blend

$12

This one is a gem. Portugal is not just about Port wine anymore, as the country’s winemakers keep producing cheap and cheerful reds and whites for us to enjoy. The Silk & Spice Red Blend has been honored with many “best buy” and “best value” accolades from publications the past three years. Yes, it is silky and spicy, but also shows off gobs of red and black berry fruit, anise, and dark floral notes. Pair with spicy beef empanadas.

Altos Las Hormigas Malbec Clásico

$12

A fantastic, easy drinking Malbec is always welcome at a party. The Altos Las Hormigas is a fruit-driven pleaser with no touches of oak. Bright raspberry and dark plum fruit float on a savory palate. Pair with Swedish meatballs.

Looking for more wine suggestions? Check out what we recommended for Thanksgiving!

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Thanksgiving Wines for Everyone at the Table

Thanksgiving Wines for Everyone at the Table

Let’s face it; Thanksgiving is a lot of work. Between the shopping, getting the house in order, and doing the cooking, you need all the help you can get. When you think you have it all under control, you forget one thing: the wine. Lucky for you, choosing the right Thanksgiving wines doesn’t have to be a hassle this year.

As Thanksgiving is a wholly American holiday, it is only fitting that your wine choices reflect our great country. Forget about finding the one perfect pairing as Thanksgiving fare is diverse in flavors. With so many guests, it is best to indulge their palates with an assortment of food-friendly wines. You may not have time to pop into a favorite wine shop, but I have got you covered. I have chosen six excellent wines that are easy to find. As a matter of fact, most of these are available at your local grocery store. They are guaranteed to please every type of guest and match very well with your excellent meal.

Day Owl

Rosé California 2017
$17

Pink is in, and it’s not for summertime anymore. Everyone from your millennial cousin to your seen-it-all grandma likes to drink rosé. Rosé is very food-friendly and has a great balance of fruit and acidity that pairs well with the holiday fare. The Day Owl Rosé is made from mostly Barbera, which gives the wine a rich fruitiness of strawberry, melon, and pomegranate. The body is full and ripe, with a lush mouthfeel and fresh acidity that keeps the fruit from becoming too sweet. Have plenty of this chilled for both before and during the meal.

Ramey

Russian River Valley Chardonnay 2015
$32

Someone in the clan is going to want Chardonnay, and it better be buttery. The richness of an oaked chardonnay can add excitement to roasted turkey, vegetables, and even pumpkin pie. The Ramey Chardonnay from Russian River Valley has all the hallmarks of a traditional California Chardonnay. A lush body with opulent richness is accented by notes of tropical fruits, lemon curd, almond, and cream.

J. Lohr

Wildflower Valdiguié Monterey 2016
$10

If you are looking for the best bang for your buck and want to impress the pseudo-snobs by choosing an oddball varietal, this little gem from the Central Coast of California is the thing.

Valdiguié is a grape variety that originated in southern France and made it’s way here sometime in the early 1900’s. Confused for the Gamay Noir grape that makes up Beaujolais wines in France, it was called Napa Gamay here until its true makeup was discovered by DNA profiling at UC Davis. Look, now you have something to talk about as you pour this wine at the table.

The J. Lohr Valdiguié is a crowd pleaser, with soft berry fruit and an easy-to-drink palate. Notes of cranberry, pomegranate, and blueberry accented by crushed violets and mint. Keep plenty of this value on hand.

Au Bon Climat

Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir 2016
$26

Pinot Noir is the easy go-to of Thanksgiving wines. It has a great balance of fruit and acidity and shines with a variety of foods. Almost everyone is a fan of this grape. If the winery Au Bon Climat sounds familiar to you, you may remember it as one of the first wineries from the movie Sideways. 

That movie may have made Pinot Noir famous, but the winery has been producing top quality wine since 1982. Their Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir is redolent with the aromas of strawberries and boysenberry. The fruit is further accented with dark floral and baking spice notes. The mouthfeel has some weight, but acidity and tannin balance the wine.

Round Pond

Kith and Kin Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2016
$32

There is no way getting around it, you must have Cabernet around, or things may get ugly. There will always be one or two “Cabernet only” drinkers in the crowd, and as a host, it is best to keep them happy. The Round Pond Kith and Kin is classic Napa Valley Cabernet, with aromas and flavors of currant, blackberry, toast, vanilla, and kirsch. It is voluptuous and firm, finishing with a lingering spice and juicy tannins.

 

Schramsberg

Methodé Traditionnelle Blanc de Noirs Brut 2013
$45

This one is for you. The perfect ending to a job well done. After your guests leave and you reflect on the day’s events, open a bottle of this bubbly, grab another slice of pie, and put up your feet. You deserve it. The sparkling wines from the Schramsberg Winery in Napa Valley prove that we make excellent bubbles here in America. Their wines are more than a match for many of the Champagne houses in France. The Schramsberg Blanc de Noirs is a beautiful, elegant wine with classic aromatic notes of baking spice, toasted brioche, marzipan, and golden apple. The palate is rich and frothy with lush bubbles, vanilla, lemon curd, fresh cream, and allspice flavors. The perfect ending to a perfect (or not so perfect) day.
Salut!

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An Introduction to Natural Wine In the world of wine, there are the standards: Napa Cabernet, Bordeaux, Burgundy. There are also the trends. Some of these trends look promising but never gain a great foothold. This is especially true in America. I’ve seen South...

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read more

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Wine Books for Everyone

Wine Books for Everyone

I love to read. I love going to bookstores and libraries. When we travel, especially overseas, Tracy and I always look to find food and wine books not available to us here in the states. It is our addiction, and we love it!

In my wine journey, I have read many books. Some are good and informative about their subject. Some left me wanting more. But there are a few that I keep going back to help me in my studies. Here are six books that everyone should have in their book collection. From the novice to the aficionado.

For Those Beginning Their Wine Journey

Wine Folly – The Essential Guide to Wine by Madeline Puckette and Justin Hammack

The New Wine Rules by Jon Bonné

Are you at the starting point of your wine journey? These are two must-have books to go a bit further than the “Chardonnay is a white, Cabernet is a red” thinking. Both are informative and to the point, without a ton of exposition or fanciful diatribes.

Wine Folly – The Essential Guide to Wine is from the founders of one of my favorite wine websites. This book is vibrant and educational. Great graphics and a simple approach to teaching the basics of wine makes it accessible. My favorite section is about flavor components of different grape varietals. You learn that oak aging in Cabernet Franc will impart notes of cola, sweet tobacco, coffee, and cocoa. Or, if you are looking for the fruit components of Nero d’Avola, it may be fruit roll-ups and Chinese plum sauce. This a fun, simple book without pretension that everyone can enjoy. UPDATE: There is a new Wine Folly book coming out this fall! Bigger and better!!

Jon Bonné is one of my favorite wine writers. I enjoyed his work as a wine critic for the San Francisco Chronicle. He is now the senior contributing editor at Punch. Bonné’s New Wine Rules is a terrific book if you are starting out with wine or if you’ve been around the game long enough. Bonné keeps his rules uncomplicated and straightforward on a variety of topics. From how white wines can be your best value to what rights you have as a wine customer. The New Wine Rules is a fun and informative read you can breeze through in the time it takes to polish off a bottle of rosé.

For the Wine Drinker Blinded by Science

The Science of Wine – From Vine to Glass by Jamie Goode

In school, science was never my thing. It was a step up from math class, but I didn’t find it exhilarating. Now as an adult, I find myself delving deeper and deeper into the world of science as I move along in my wine studies. If you are going to understand wine, you will have to know the science behind it. Jamie Goode’s Science of Wine has been my go-to book for learning the technical side of winemaking. Goode’s book has a clean, simple, and accessible approach that even a non-scientist can follow. Everything from vineyard practices and winemaking, to how our brains perceive flavors and aromas. I keep going back to this book more and more to study for my wine certifications. If you are science-inclined or an all-around nerd, this book is for you.

For the Wine Drinking History Buff

Wine & War by Don & Petie Kladstrup

The French love their wine. The story of how they protected their most treasured commodity during World War II is the story of Wine & War. I’ve had my copy of this book for about fifteen years and have read it many times. The extraordinary efforts that winemakers took to preserve a symbol of their heritage from Nazi oppressors is a thrilling and emotional story. After reading this book, you will look at both French wine and the French people in a different light.

For the Wine Drinker Who Likes Tiny Bubbles

Champagne by Peter Liem

Peter Liem is America’s foremost authority on Champagne. His newest book about this French region and the wine style it is famous for is both a love letter and a tribute to a classic wine. Liem’s Champagne has received many well-deserved accolades this year. Everything you could want to know about Champagne is within. From soil and vineyard sites to labels and the personalities behind them. This a beautiful book packaged in a box set with seven color reproductions of maps first made available in 1944. I love Champagne, and I love Peter Liem’s Champagne.

For the Wine Drinker, Who Likes to Explore

Wine Grapes by Jancis Robinson, Julia Harding, and José Vouillamoz

1,280 pages
1,368 grape varieties
6.7 pounds
Jancis Robinson’s Wine Grapes is an indispensable guide to almost 1,400 wine grapes from across the globe. From Abbuoto to Zweigelt. From 377 distinct Italian varieties to the lone Malaga Blanc varietal of Thailand. Inside you will find the origins and parentages of different varietals and their viticultural characteristics. Where the variety is grown and what it tastes like. You will find both synonyms of grapes and their misidentifications as well. Add in beautiful color plates of 19th Century paintings, and you have something special. Wine Grapes is a hefty book in both size and knowledge, and one of my favorite books to learn from.

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Holiday Champagnes and Sparkling Wines

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Holiday Party Wines Under $15

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