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Wine Words

You Can’t Buy Wine Grapes at the Supermarket

by David on December 26, 2010

Well, I’ve seen them at Whole Foods, here in Napa, but I expect it’s quite unusual. Wine grapes and the grapes we eat aren’t the same species. You can find wine made of native American, Concord grapes, but it has a tiny market niche. The vast majority of us seem to prefer wine that’s made […]


Santa Wants a Glass of Port!

by David on December 24, 2010

What keeps the gleam in his eye as he travels around the world in the freezing cold? I’m guessing it’s not a glass of milk! Absolutely, put out those cookies, because he needs plenty of sugar and carbs to keep going. But, if you pair them with Port you’ll help him keep warm and happy! […]


Sur Lie Aging

by David on December 23, 2010

Our 2010 Chardonnay is currently aging “sur lie”. Sir who? The term is French and refers to aging the wine on the  spent yeast cells and grape solids, the lees. Sur lie translates to “on the lees”. If you read a winemaking textbook, it advises the winemaker to move the new wine off of the dead […]


This is such a common question, and we may as well talk about White Zinfandel while we’re at it. They’re all, essentially , the same thing with very minor variations. The name, rosé, has been around for centuries. Blush and White Zin are 20th century creations. The first thing to know is that most wine […]


What’s a Bordeaux Blend?

by David on December 21, 2010

Same thing as a Meritage (pronounced like “heritage” – it isn’t a French term). And, a Meritage, or Bordeaux blend, is wine made of a mix of grapes that came to America from Bordeaux. The top 5? The vast majority of these blends include some or all of these varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, […]


Napa Valley: Great Wine, Small Valley!

by David on December 20, 2010

If you ask someone how much of California’s wine comes from Napa Valley, they usually come back with something like 80% or 90%. It’s a natural mistake, since the wine is so well known. But, actually, only 4% of California’s wine is grown here – this is one small valley! At just over 30 miles […]


Why do American Wines Have French Names?

by David on December 19, 2010

And Italian… and Spanish… and German… This is a logical follow-up question if you read the post on varietal wine. There was a time when American wineries used European places for names such as “Burgundy” or “Chianti”, as a marketing tool. It sounds familiar, it sells, right? Not so much these days. Today, most of […]


What is Varietal Wine?

by David on December 18, 2010

Varietal wine is a showcase of, primarily, one grape variety such as Chardonnay. When the wine is labeled as such, it’s reasonable to expect it to have “varietal character” – Chardonnay might remind you of apples, pears and citrus. Of course, the winemaking has quite an influence on how it all turns out! In America, […]


What Does “Reserve” Mean?

by David on December 17, 2010

That’s an excellent question because the term, reserve, isn’t regulated in America. In other parts of the world, especially the EU, there are aging requirements behind it (which doesn’t necessarily make a better wine), but not in the US. For those who use it appropriately, it’s meant to convey that the wine is their top […]


Tannin in Wine

by David on December 16, 2010

We talk about it all the time. What is it? As a taster, it’s the thing that makes your mouth dry out and pucker. It also makes your teeth feel furry! As you notice, some wines are more tannic than others, but they’re usually red. Why red wine? The primary source of tannin in wine […]