June 16, 2017. Since ancient times some wines were known to outstrip others in quality and drinkability vintage after vintage and consistently fetched top prices. The French word cru eventually emerged as the consensus term for these stars. So how does today’s cru system work and is it still a reliable guide to the world’s top bottles?
The Concept of Cuvée
May 19, 2017. Cuvée is a term you here from retailers and sommeliers and read on many wine labels – but what exactly does it refer to and how can understanding the concept make you a savvier wine consumer?
March 13, 2017. As in the practice of any sort of craft, a winemaker takes what nature gives as a starting point and goes on to create something that nature by itself would not be capable of. A particularly brilliant case of how this works in the wine world appears in the French region known as the Jura, due east of Burgundy and making a frontier with Switzerland.
Why highly touted vintages don’t always make the best wine.
February 10, 2017. Blockbuster (or even marginally more robust) vintages drive sales and prices, they don’t always produce more appealing, table-friendly wines. This is because very ripe grapes typically mean higher alcohol and lower acidity—things that generally make wine less fresh and appetizing.
One man, one vine, one love, one wine.
January 13, 2017. Some of the most compelling stories in the world of wine involve men and women who fell passionately in love with a single, often obscure and frequently eccentric vine, one they had to seek out, pursue, tame, and in some cases retrieve from the brink of extinction without anyone to show the way. These special relationships don’t come along often, but when they do the tale is worth telling and the wines worth seeking out.
The drying of German wine.
November 3, 2016. In a recent radio segment I asked host Christopher Kimball what percentage of German white wine is actually sweet. 100%? 90%? 75%? The surprising answer is just a little better than 60%. German wines are getting drier. What’s behind it?
The holiday wine dilemma and how to deal with it.
December 10, 2016. The holidays may bring joy, but they also pack a sleighful of anxiety for those whose job it is to do the entertaining. And for those of us who write about wine the annual call from an editor to start pulling together the holiday wine column can stir a bit of angst in its own right.
We love Beaujolais for the holidays. You should, too.
November 10, 2016. For many people Beaujolais begins and ends with Beaujolais Nouveau or, even worse, with the mass-produced, additive-laden, highly manipulated version of it. The holidays are a great time to get acquainted with the more serious side of Beaujolais, and for a very good reason: It’s hard to think of a wine region that gets more sheer deliciousness into a bottle.
Final Exam. We say adios to America’s Test Kitchen with a Quiz.
September 10, 2016. Take the wine quiz Chris endured on air as our last ATK radio segment and see what you’ve learned from listening to the show.
The wine world is in the pink. Is that a good thing?
August 27, 2016. Today pink wine is hot, so the time seems right to interrogate it.
Given up drinking red wine? Maybe you’ve been drinking the wrong kind.
August 20, 2016. I’m not a doctor and don’t try to play one, but this may be the cure for your red wine headache.
Waiter, There’s a Rock (Herb, Green Bean) in my Wine
June 24, 2016, It’s not easy to translate sensation into words, but sommeliers, retailers, and even winemakers are under constant pressure to do it.
Water into Wine
April 2, 2016 The ancients routinely mixed water with their wine – to drink your wine neat was considered uncivilized. The practice is long passé at the dinner table but still has an important place in winemaking. Can wine drinkers still learn something from the technique?
Do Older Vines Make Better Wine?
March 19, 2016 The conventional wisdom has it that old vines have an advantage over younger ones when it comes making really fine wine. On the other hand, there is some evidence that younger vines—even vines in their first year of bearing fruit—can make some of the best wine of all. Is there any way to make sense of these conflicting positions?
Is it Time to Make up with Merlot?
February 27, 2016 The Great Merlot Bubble did everything for this historic and dignified varietal’s popularity and nothing at all for its reputation. Now that the bubble has burst, let’s rediscover what old school wine drinkers have always known: some of the best wine in the world starts with merlot.
Wine Tasting Notes: Which Came First, Wine or Beer?
February 20, 2016 I get asked with surprising frequency which alcoholic beverage first passed our greedy little lips, beer or wine. Since it’s not a case of needing to have one before you can have the other, the first-drink problem isn’t as daunting as the chicken/egg conundrum, but it does seem to linger. Mulling over the question has made me think about a number of ways in which viniculture and brewing differ and how these differences affect how we use wine and beer
The Pet-Nats Are Coming
January 9, 2016 “Pet-Nat,” is short for petillant naturel, or “naturally (lightly) sparkling” wine. They’re very much in vogue right now. Young sommelliers are very excited about them and chances are good that if you haven’t already, you’ll be encountering them soon on some hip resto’s wine list.
Getting to Know the Specialty Importer
December 5, 2015 I spend about 10 hours a week standing in the corner of the Formaggio Kitchen wine department pouring wine and talking about it, so I get to think a lot about what information people need to feel more comfortable with wine and get more pleasure from it. Buying wine should be more engaging and challenging than picking a potato out of a bin at Whole Foods. If wine seems a little resistant to being readily understood, well, that’s just the way it is.
Which Wine For the Bird—and Why?
November 21, 2015 While all rules have exceptions, the kind of rules we encounter in the wine world are unusually exception-ridden. What I really want—no matter the subject—is just for someone with more or different experience than I have to share those experience with me. These experiences give me ideas; I apply the ideas and see what happens. What happens becomes my experience—and I grow. Now to Thanksgiving . . .
Should I be buying only organic or biodynamic wine?
October 17, 2015 There was a time in our wineshop when we took pains to identify wines made with organically farmed grapes or via the method known as biodynamics. Lately, though we’ve done away with this system. Here’s why.
Tasting a Wine That Does Not Exist
September 26, 2015 A game of three bottle Monte helps Chris understand the logic and practice of blending.
A Brine Time Was Had by All. Wines for Seafood.
September 5, 2015 Judging from the questions I field every day in the wine department of Formaggio Kitchen in Cambridge and the mail I receive from America’s Test Kitchen Radio listeners, food and wine pairing continues to be a major cause of uncertainty and, frankly, anxiety.
Is it a Grape or is it a Place?
August 15, 2015 From time to time I like to test Chris’s knowledge of the vocabulary of wine in a game we call Lingovino. In this segment, I present him with five wines and ask a simple question about each: Does its name describe a grape or a place?
What’s the Difference Between Expensive and Inexpensive Wine?
July 25, 2015 We’ve devoted several radio spots to the question of how wine is priced and whether it’s always possible for even experts to accurately guess a wine’s price just by tasting it. Recently Chris and I discussed a similar question, one that I know troubles many wine consumers: What factors contribute to making one wine more expensive than another?
Is There More to Champagne Than Bubbles?
July 4, 2015 If the secret to the world’s most celebrated fizzy wine isn’t its sparkle, then what is it?
Not From Here
June 13, 2015 Chardonnay, Cabernet, and Merlot are all grapes that originated in France but have been used successfully to make quality wine in many parts of the world. And while these three have been phenomenally successful on the international stage, many hundreds of other wine grape varieties never go traveling at all (or if they do, they aren’t very good at it). Instead, they remain rooted in the places where they first established themselves. What makes one grape a successful world traveler and another a stay-at-home, and what does it mean for wine drinkers?
Next Stop Rosé
May 16, 2015 It’s tough for light-bodied wine to get any respect. For decades now the markers for quality red wines have been nearly opaque coloration, supercharged concentration, and alcohol levels that push the limits. Big-bodied wines have been bullying smaller-scaled wines for so long now that that we seem to have quite lost sight of the historical norms—what one winemaker has memorably called “the classical proportions.”
What is Wine, Anyway?
April 25, 2015 Wine has been an integral if not always necessary element of many of the world’s cuisines for a very long time. But it hasn’t always played the same role.
Betting on the Blend
April 4, 2015 Why wines made from just one grape variety are the exception rather than the rule.
Off-Road Italian Whites
March 21, 2015 In some of Italy’s oldest vineyards you can forget about Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay — there are more exotic sips on offer.
The Wine Vocabulist Parses Somm-speak
February 28, 2015 Body, structure, grip, minerality, a “sense of place” — these are all terms your sommelier may spring on you. Be prepared to give it right back.
Which Came First, Wine or Beer?
February 7, 2015 The first-drink problem isn’t as daunting as the chicken/egg conundrum, but it does seem to linger.
Investigating the Wines of Piedmont Italy
January 17, 2015 While working-class vines can’t achieve the finesse or complexity of their elite counterparts, the family resemblance alone can make them worth seeking out.
Ever Mistaken Burgundy for Bordeaux?
January 3, 2015 These two famous regions take quite different approaches to the question of how good wine should be made.
Does Wine Have Gender?
November 15, 2014 Could you reliably tell red wine from white in the absence of visual cues?
A Game of Lingovino
November 1, 2014 We explain glou-glou, volatile acidity, noble rot, yield, and cement eggs.
October 4, 2014 So versatile and handy, these five categories of wine are all you need to cover almost any situation.
What We Can Learn from a Glass of Sauvignon Blanc
September 13, 2014 Why does Sauvignon Blanc taste the way it does and how do environmental conditions in the vineyard determine the character of wine?
10 Wine Trends That Should Blip on Your Radar Screen, Part 3
August 23, 2014 Do you know the ideas, practices, and choices that are trending in wine today?
10 Wine Trends That Should Blip on Your Radar Screen, Part 2
August 2, 2014 We’re taking note of 10 ideas, practices, and choices that are trending in wine today.
10 Wine Trends That Should Blip on Your Radar Screen, Part 1
July 12, 2014 Wine seems as much under the influence of trends as food or fashion does.
Do Numbers Point the Way to Better Wine—or Just Pointier-Headed Wine Buyers?
June 14, 2014 Our love affair with the point system has had some unintended and unwelcome consequences.
What Are Biodynamics and Do They Make Better Wine?
May 27, 2014 What makes biodynamic viticulture different from organic methods and what effect does it have on the taste of wine?
Sulfur—Friend or Foe?
April 22, 2014 What are sulfites anyway and what are they doing in my wine?
Why Are Some Red Wines Lightweights and Others Heavyweights?
April 21, 2014 We explore why red wines vary so much in body type and what factors determine how muscular or nimble your wine is.
When Less is More—Why Lower-Alcohol Wines Are Sometimes Just Right
April 14, 2014 In what situations can lower-alcohol wines be a better choice?
The House Pour—What It Is and Why You Should Have One
March 24, 2014 How to choose a versatile, economical red and a white to buy in volume and enjoy for an entire season.
In Search of Organic Wine
March 3, 2014 Why is it still so difficult to find organic wine?
The Appellation System
February 3, 2014 What is your guarantee that one winemaker’s Côtes du Rhone will generally be like another?
How Texture Adds Interest and Pleasure to the Wine We Drink
January 13, 2014 Ask how a wine feels—not just how it tastes.
How to be a Savvier Wine Buyer in the New Year
December 14, 2013 It isn’t about how much wine you’ve tasted, but how you approach what you do taste that matters most.