Intro a Friend to French Wine 1: Châteauneuf-du-Pape and Comforting Cassoulet #Winophiles

While wine grapes may be grown throughout the world, it is France that many consider the most important country for wine. Ever since the Greeks cultivated grapes in Gaul (France) in the 6th century, for over 2,000 years,  growing grapes and making wine has been an important aspect of life in France. Wine grapes are grown throughout the country with 7-8 million bottles produced every year making France the number one producer of wine by volume in the world.

Did you know that most of the well-known grapes grown globally are actually French in origin? Continue reading

Love EU Wine and Cheese? Comment NOW Please on Proposed TARIFS!

You have until midnight Eastern time or 9pm Pacific time TODAY Monday January 13 to comment about the proposed 100% Trump Tariffs against food and wine from the EU that might start as early as TOMORROW Jan. 14.

calling to complain: SO PLEAE Call YOUR senators and representatives and urge them to pressure the Office of the US Trade Representative to reconsider their proposed tariffs

Yes, some of these tariffs are 100%.

If you like wine, BUY, and enjoy cheese, olive oil, and so many other food products,

this will devastate YOU.

Because it will cost you so much more to buy the food, wine, and spirits products you love. AND it hurts many Americans who are in the import business– Americans who are your neighbors.

So what can you do? Read about it and comment here. Continue reading

Happy Birthday 2019? No, it’s 2020 with JNSQ, Chambang, Champagne Rapeneau, and The Ojai Vineyard Puerta del Mar

January 11 is my birthday; I’m Gen X.

It’s also the birthday of WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg, a Millenial who turned 36.

And of Larry Harvey, Burning Man founder (RIP), a Boomer, who was fond of absinthe by Absinthia.

How did 2019 go by so fast? is it really 2020 — time of vision past and future?

I’d like to celebrate all three of us — Larry, Matt and ME, the future and the past plus any other Capricorns along for the ride…

and I’d like to ask for your support. Because this was not a typical birthday for me…

On Wednesday, my dog Cisco was hit by a car as I was on my way to a pre-birthday celebration; 24 hours in the ER later, we owed $2.5 k AND he still needs between $2-6k in treatment to fix his displaced hip. He’s in a great deal of pain. I spent most of my birthday taking care of and cleaning up after him. Continue reading

To Try in 2020: Paso Robles Whites– Unexpected Grapes In an Unexpected Region #WinePW

Unusual White Wines from Paso Robles , CA

Question: What do these six wines have in common?
  • Castoro 2017 Falanghina CCOF estate
    ITALY: white grape; sample
  • Kenneth Volk 2012 Verdelho
    PORTUGAL: white grape; purchased
  • Barton 2017 “HOLIDAY” Clairette Blanche  
    FRANCE: Rhone white grape; sample 
  • Epoch 2018
    FRANCE: Rhone white grape blend: grenache blanc leads–
    biodynamic; Sue purchased at winery  
  • Tablas Creek 2017
    FRANCE: Rhone white grape blend; Rousanne leads; sample
  • Eberle 2018 Muscat canelli
    GREEK/ITALY: Greek white grape but most well known as Italian
Answer: These wines are all from Paso Robles CA and all might be considered wines made from “god-forsaken grapes” — grapes that are not common or unexpected in their home country AND not likely to be found outside their home country where they might not be all that appreciated either. And that’s the theme for this month’s Wine Pairing weekend prompt hosted by Culinary Cam– “godforsaken grapes” — a title that I hate that goes with a book I haven’t read but that I understand is quite entertaining and well written.
As people think first of red wines when think about wine from Central California’s Paso Robles if at all, we thought it would be fun to feature these uncommon and unexpected yet delightful white grapes from this less well known and under-appreciated region that is best known for its zinfandel, syrah, and cabernet blends — wines that are rich and red and often high in alcohol because so much of the AVA gets really hot in the summer.
Tablas Creek, Halter Ranch, Turley, and Justin are some of the better known labels with the first two of them focused on Rhone, Turley with zinfandel, and Justin with Cabernet and other Bordeaux red grapes.

Continue reading

2019 Well Done, 2020 To Do: #ItalianFWT #WinePW #Winophiles

2020 is barely a week old, but as I’m calendaring the year’s prompts for #ItalianFWT, #WinePW, #Winophiles, winemaker lunches and trade tastings in LA as well as other activities like the Wine Media Conference in Oregon and wine travel to Europe and South America, I’m reflecting on what we accomplished here on Wine Predator in 2019– and trying to decide what to submit for the Born Digital Awards (see what articles I submitted to the Millesima contest here).

I’m not really sure how we found the time, but Sue and I participated in EVERY SINGLE monthly prompt for Italian Food Wine Travel aka #ItalianFWT, Wine Pairing Weekend aka #WinePW, and the French Winophiles #Winophiles.

We joined wine bloggers and influencers from around the world but mostly from the US as we tasted and wrote about wines together following prompts that the group developed and organized sometimes with samples, and sometimes not.

Here on Wine Predator, that means 36 posts altogether at 15-20k words each! That’s the word count of a good sized book!

For almost every single article, I researched the region, the wine, the winery, and Sue and I both researched the cuisine to come up with menus and pairing ideas. Continue reading

4 To Try in 2020: Italy’s Franciacorta, Friuli, Chianti, Mt. Etna #ItalianFWT


From Franciacorta in the north in Lombardy and Friuli in the northeast to Toscana in central west and Sicily in the southwest, Italy is full of wines to discover. With over 2000 indigenous grapes grown in the 20 regions, the range of wines and expressions makes getting to know and understand Italian wine an interesting challenge as I discovered last year during the VinItaly Wine Ambassador Course.

Think it’s time to tune up your Italian wine game in 2020?

Continue reading

Wines Worth Remembering: 2019

Happy New Year!

During this time of reflection, I have a few wines worth remembering — and recommending along with a few blog posts you might want to revisit.

Here on Wine Predator in 2019 we researched, tasted, and wrote about hundreds of wines in 123 posts with 176,090 words averaging 1432 per post.

That’s like writing three novels.

So when it comes time to sort through all of these posts to choose some favorites to submit to year end contests like this one and for year end wrap-ups here on Wine Predator, I asked for some help from some of my loyal readers and friends.

I also asked Sue– but I wanted something different from her — not the best, but ten posts that were the most memorable. Not necessarily her favorite wines or meals but the ones that made the best, the strongest memories for her.

“When first asked to do this task,” says Sue, “I did not realize just how many posts we put out this year. How do you take 116 and pick out 10 of your favorite children. Some are so rich with our experiences. So many experiences, so many memories, such an abundance of fantastic wine and food. I was then told to focus on exceptional wines. Did that make it any easier? I find that my favorites evoked such great times rich with foods that paired beautifully with the wines we served them with.

The most memorable wines come with the most memorable experiences.

“The wine and the food shine together making it a memorable event,” she continues. “I was able to narrow it down to 30 right away. Bringing it down to the 10 most memorable took some time, but here it is:

1. La Maliosa Biodynamic Procanio and pasta Bar w/ Santa Barbara Uni and Muscles. – These were by for some of the most interesting wines I have ever tasted, and the menu took the experience over the top

2. Celebrating Summer with 4 wines from NE Mountains of Italy with 4 Vegetarian Courses – The menu was over the top, and out of my experience. Each wine paired so beautifully with the food making it a most memorable event

3. Understanding the Mind and Soil: A Walk and Talk in the Vineyards of Vincent Charlot – How can I not include one of the moments during our trip of a lifetime to France this year.

4. An Exploration into California Certifications and Sustainable Explainations – I loved the wines and had been wanting to do a post like this for some time. Fabulous wines doing it right for the Earth

5. Chile’s Odfjell Biodynamic Reds and Pastel de Choclo – Every time I research menus and pair the wine of the region with the cusine of the region it is always a hit. These wines were outstanding and with the menu it was over the top

6. Defining Biodynamic Rudy Marchesi and Three Montinore Pinot Noir – While not always in the mood for Pinot Noir, these were fabulous wines done right with a great menu and fantastic write up.

7. Lamb Stew Paired with Cabernet Franc Created by Couples – I love Cabernet Franc, and this post introduced us to Chateau Yvonne where we were later able to visit when we went to France.

8. 3 Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore w/ DOCG and Calamari w/ Lemon Caper Sauce – We both love sparkling wine and DOCG really does make a difference with Prosecco, again paired with a fantastic meal.

9. 5 Wines from Spain Paired w/ Paella Red, White, Cava, Rosado? – Fantastic wines and a memorable experience. Thanks Gretel for making the wonderful Paella

10. Diamonds in Dirt, Hawk and Horse’s Biodynamic Wines and Bison Burgers – I love burgers with a great wine. This was not exception.”

For the first contest that I am entering, in the category of Wine Reporting, I chose

For the category of Wine Travel I chose

For the category of Wine Pairing, there are SO MANY TO CHOOSE FROM — like probably 100! I considered a few including Rasteau which is a solid post but ended up debating these two which Sue also really liked:


Which do you think I chose?

Wish me luck! The winner of this contest gets a trip to Bordeaux!