Wine Predator Recruits Ima Zinner, Bacchus Schmacchus & Annie Any-Day

Because life is short and wine is best shared with good friends over fine food, I have decided to share the wealth, the wine, and the fun as well as the responsibilities of taking notes and helping me write Wine Predator posts with three good friends.

Annie, Dave, and Kathy have all joined me on numerous treks to Los Angeles for industry wine tasting as well as twitter tastings I’ve hosted here at the house on various occasions. These friends not only have a great appreciation of wine, but they are funny, witty, and have a flair for coming up with great descriptors for wines.

We celebrated our new venture last night by tasting five very different wines: NZ pinot noir, a French bordeaux, and three tawny ports–a 40, a 20, and a NV. As we tasted, we merely took notes; in the future we will also tweet as Art Predator and possibly do some youtubes for the Art Predator channel. We thought doing the videos in lingerie might get people more interested, but maybe someone is already doing that? Continue reading

Port, Pinot Noir, Petite Sirah & Zin, Rhone Fans Unite for Tastings, Seminars, Fun

Tis the season to save the date and taste some wine together–in person or online! A few highlights include–

Friday, Jan. 27 : “Port Day.” Everywhere!
Whether it be tawny or ruby, pick up some port for Friday!

Friday, Jan. 27: ZAP–for Zinfandel fans in SF Continue reading

WBW #73 “Spark” Round Up; WBW #74 “Sparkling” Announced

In response to Cork Dork’s prompt to write about a wine that connects to what sparked your interest in wine blogging, ten bloggers let him know in time to join in his round-up and a few more bloggers chimed in with posts after–better late than never!

Here’s the Wine Blogging Wednesday #73 “Spark” round up.

Here’s my response to the “Spark” prompt–I mentioned Ridge Zinfandel, Grateful Palate Shiraz, and Enoforum wines from Portugal with a review of Twisted Oaks Tempranillo,

Next up, keeping with the idea of “spark” write about value “sparkling” wine. Hosted by Wine Cast aka Tim Elliot, Wine Blogging Wednesday #74 participants will join the 2011 sparkling wine trend; in 2011 Americans consumed 20% more Champagne; like the recent popular Proseco, Moscato went from an unknown sparkler to one that has been produced and appreciated more (even in a Barefoot Bubbly version!).

In the past five years, I have discovered the pleasures of various sparkling wines with food, not just as a special occasion beverage or for a toast. And so it is with great pleasure that I look forward to participating in February’s Wine Blogging Wednesday. I’ve got a rose cremant in mind to pair with ham as well as trying that Barefoot Moscato, Chateau Ste Michelle’s 2005 Luxxe, and ?? with oysters and ?? After all, this is still my birthday month and I’ve got more celebrating to do!

If you too would like to join in, you are welcome! The prompt for Wine Blogging Wednesday #74 includes these instructions:

Just pick a sparkling wine from any appellation, made from any grape but make sure it sells for $25 or less a bottle (€20, £16). This should open up a lot of interesting selections, from Crémant de Bourgogne, to Cava, to California & New Mexico sparkling, sparkling Shiraz, to even well chosen grower Champagne. Just post your notes by February 15th and ping me @winecast on Twitter or email me with your link at winecast (at) gmail (dot) com.

Oh, and I’ve having a birthday subscription drive until the end of the month! Please subscribe in the box in the upper right hand corner! It’s easy to get Wine Predator in your inbox and join in the Wine Predator fun! I’ve got big plans for 2012 and I hope you will be along for the adventure!

Wine Blogging Weds #73: The Spark

Today, Wednesday, January 18 is the first installment in many, many months for Wine Blogging Wednesday, an online event started six years ago where wine bloggers virtually gather around a theme.  This time around the theme is “Spark”  which attempts to spark new interest and hopefully light a fire again for this formerly monthly wine blogging event that has fizzled and faltered over the past two years. The “Spark” theme urges wine bloggers to return to that which sparked their interest in wine blogging in the first place.

Host Corkdork  writes, “I know you’ve grown and your wine knowledge has expanded, but it’s time to revisit the kind of wines that sparked your desire to blog, retaste, and share. January’s challenge, “Spark”, is to re-visit the wine that first turned you on to the infinite wonder of the world of wine.”

If you want to participate, quick, post your “spark” story right away and let Corkdork know you’re got a spark to contribute to the fire.

When I think  about what sparked my interest in wine blogging, I come up with three stories and three wines.

First, I think of Ridge Zinfandel because in the early 80s, I worked at Ridge pouring wine during Saturday tastings up on Montebello Road. Hard to say which was a favorite–I loved them all and marveled at how different each one was. To this day, zin is possibly my favorite varietal; it goes so well with everything from turkey to ham to BBQ to grilled meats.

But that didn’t get me blogging.

Second, I think of all the wonderful Australian rhone blends Dan Phillips tasted and promoted through the Grateful Palate. It’s unfortunate that AUS shiraz has such a bad name these days due to unbalanced fruit bombs. The ones I bought with Dan’s personal guidance at my first warehouse sale as well as wines I selected with the help of his other employees were exceptional.

And it was Grateful Palate wines that got me blogging and led me to being a wine blogger.

More importantly to me as a wine blogger, because I was writing about Grateful Palate wines already and wanted to do more about them, I was recruited to work as a writer for them and given a case of wine to drink and write about. My first heady experience with samples! My June 2008 post about Chris Ringland’s 2006 Ebenezer Road Shiraz was one of my most popular and most read posts for years. Unfortunately, when the economy tanked, so did the job. But I was introduced to and encouraged to learn about wine blogging, which changed my world radically.

As a newly minted and unemployed wine blogger, I went to the first North American Wine Bloggers Conference in November 2008. There I discovered a whole world of wine blogging–and wine.

Which leads me to my next winery: Twisted Oak.

I met Jeff Stai at the first Wine Bloggers Conference and he generously opened up “The Spaniard” a Rioja style mostly tempranillo blend and his “River of Skulls” mourvedre. By that point in the conference, I had tasted a lot of wine but both of these stood out enough that I went to Calaveras County a year or so later to taste his wines–and I joined his wine club.

That’s how I ended up with the wine I opened tonight for this retrospective–a 2005 Twisted Oak Tempranillo from Calaveras County which I paired with a lamb chop stuffed with basil pesto, a baked potato, and cabbage. While the Spaniard will always be one of my favorite Twisted Oak wines, the Tempranillo is quite tasty and half the price ($24 instead of $49). The color is surprisingly deep, dark and dense for a medium bodied wine–it’s more black cherry than the deep purple of a petite sirah or a petite verdot. In the nose, at first it was quite closed but over the course of the meal and the evening, I found cigar box and spice, barn and leather, a little menthol, lavender, and vanilla. A very masculine wine, it’s rich and round, salt cured herbs of provence black olive briney and dark stone fruit of cherries and plums; plenty of acid and oak which was perfect to cut through and compliment the lamb chop.

Finally, I must mention the most life changing experience I have had as a wine blogger–attending the European Wine Bloggers Conference and traveling to Portugal as a guest of Enoforum Wines. If their wines were available in the US, that’s what I would have written about in this blog post. And since I’ve already written nearly 800 words for this blog post, I think I’ll leave it at that–plenty enough sparks to get me a blogging bonfire roaring!

SOPA, PIPA & Wine Blogging Weds #73 January 18: Where’s the Spark?

Tomorrow, Wednesday, January 18 is the first installment in many, many months for Wine Blogging Wednesday. An online event where wine bloggers have gathered around a theme for over six years, I always enjoy participating and while the number of bloggers may have waned, I still think Wine Blogging Wednesday offers value to bloggers and to wine consumers.

Appropriately themed “Spark,” the 73rd event attempts to spark new interest and hopefully light a fire again for this formerly monthly wine blogging event. The “Spark” theme urges wine bloggers to return to that which sparked their interest in wine blogging in the first place.

Host Corkdork  writes, “I know you’ve grown and your wine knowledge has expanded, but it’s time to revisit the kind of wines that sparked your desire to blog, retaste, and share. January’s challenge, “Spark”, is to re-visit the wine that first turned you on to the infinite wonder of the world of wine.”

Post your “spark” story on Weds. January 18; the host will follow-up with a round-up. Let Corkdork know you’re got a spark to contribute to the fire. And come back to read about mine!

Ironically, tomorrow many sites including heavy hitter Wikipedia are going “dark” to draw attention to the SOPA legislation.

According to Gizmodo,  “The momentum behind the anti-SOPA movement has been slow to build, but we’re finally at a saturation point. Wikipedia, BoingBoing, WordPress, TwitPic: they’ll all be dark on January 18th. An anti-SOPA rally has been planned for tomorrow afternoon in New York. The list of companies supporting SOPA is long but shrinking, thanks in no small part to the emails and phone calls they’ve received in the last few months.”

So what is SOPA? or PIPA? At first, it sounds like a good idea–it is supposed to protect content providers. But Gizmodo argues that “SOPA is an anti-piracy bill working its way through Congress that would grant content creators extraordinary power over the internet which would go almost comedically unchecked to the point of potentially creating an “Internet Blacklist” while exacting a huge cost from nearly every site you use daily and potentially disappearing your entire digital life while still managing to be both unnecessary and ineffective but stands a shockingly good chance of passing unless we do something about it.”

So call. Or email.

I am planning on joining in as well and staying off the internet tomorrow. Not sure what this might mean for Wine Blogging Wednesday–or my own participation!