Cabernet Sauvignon

Like Chardonnay—but far more dependably—you’ll find Cabernet Sauvignon nearly everywhere wine grapes grow. Because it can. Stick some Cabernet Sauvignon wood in the ground and out pop leaves—in Bordeaux, famously; in California and Italy, famously and infamously; and in Washington State, Australia, Chile, Argentina, South Africa, Spain, even Uruguay and Mexico. (And many other places, too.) What Cabernet Likes About the only thing that Cabernet Sauvignon needs is warmth. Too cool a soil or climate and the wines it makes are vegetal-tasting and green, with flavors such as bell pepper or asparagus. (Too warm, and it comes off jammy and [...]

By | 2019-01-27T00:08:45+00:00 January 26th, 2019|

Cabernet Franc

One night, many hundreds of years ago, the grapevines cabernet franc and sauvignon blanc nuzzled up to each other, somewhere in the Bordeaux region of France, and made a baby. They took the first halves of each of their names and called the kid “cabernet sauvignon.” As with so many children, cabernet sauvignon has mightily outshone its parents. It is the most sought-after red wine grape on the globe and, unlike either of its parents, is planted in nearly every country that grows grapes into wine. It ripens later than either of its parents, developing more color, structure and flavor. [...]

By | 2019-01-26T23:52:57+00:00 January 26th, 2019|


Why do so many cultures dine on fish for dinner on New Year’s Eve? Some say because fish prefigure prosperity (their scales resemble coins and they travel in multitudes called schools); also that they swim only in a forward direction. Scallops and caviar aren’t fish like that, although one is countless and the other resembles a stack of coins. So, at this year’s end, go for the gold with this elegant preparation. Any number of dry, off-dry or sparkling white wines, crisp with acidity and refreshing in character, would do nicely with this preparation’s elements of fat, salt and acidity. [...]

By | 2019-01-08T15:52:55+00:00 January 8th, 2019|


Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve dinners tend to be deluxe, even sumptuous affairs. This crab-and-pasta preparation fits the bill. It would seem fitting to pair such fare with wines equally rich and opulent. But nuanced, aged reds or buttery, oaky whites also overplay and tire the palate. Sometimes simple and clean is better, as a yin to the (in this case) crab’s yang. And the unique white from the south of France is the perfect, humble “background” wine to let the dish shine. Garlicky crab with pasta Add 2 pounds king crab legs to a stockpot of salted boiling [...]

By | 2019-01-08T15:46:36+00:00 January 8th, 2019|

Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc does one thing overwhelmingly well—it stands out in a crowd. Of all the world’s wines, there’s no mistaking a pure Sauvignon Blanc [SOH-vee-nyawn BLAHNGK] for any other wine (unless, sadly, as some winemakers now make it, in imitation of an oaky Chardonnay). What It’s Like = Where It’s Grown Sauvignon Blanc from a cool climate—its most classic rendition—is possessed of a notably acidic edge and the memorably piercing aroma of one or more of these: gooseberries (admittedly, not something with which most Americans are familiar), grapefruit rind, lime zest, fresh-cut green bell peppers or passion fruit. Riper Sauvignon [...]

By | 2018-11-29T21:33:26+00:00 November 29th, 2018|


Chardonnay is easily the most ubiquitous fine wine grape grown on the globe. Wherever wine drinkers go, Chardonnay wine was there before them. (Except in Bordeaux, where both the law and local vainglory consign its wine to the shops.) Chardonnay is everywhere for two reasons: it is relatively easy to raise, and, of itself, is fairly neutral—a perfect canvas on which to paint depth and variety of flavor. Terroir Like Pinot Noir, its red counterpart (and father), Chardonnay reflects its terroir. In cooler climates, its wine is lean, crisp and high in acidity. In warmer places, Chardonnay gives up [...]

By | 2018-11-29T21:26:22+00:00 November 29th, 2018|

What Does “Contains Sulfites” Mean?

Answers to frequently asked questions about sulfites in wine What are sulfites? Sulfite describes forms of sulfur (sulfur dioxide, for example, or sodium sulfite or sulfate) that are present in wine. Sulfur is a nonmetallic element that is very common in nature and is, in fact, essential to life itself. Sulfur has been used since ancient times for many purposes, including the cleaning of wine receptacles by both Egyptians and Romans. Sulfur has been a food additive since the 17th century and approved for such in the United States as long ago as the 1800s. Sulfites are currently used [...]

By | 2018-10-24T23:06:49+00:00 June 20th, 2018|

Pinot Gris / Pinot Grigio

This member of the family Pinot (so named because their grape clusters resemble small pine cones) lies – in color, flavor and aroma – between the “white” Pinot (Blanc) and the “black” Pinot (Noir). The name comes literally as a mix of the others’ two colors. Gris means “grey” in French; Grigio, the same in Italian. But the name “Pinot Gris” is merely semantic. In truth, Pinot Blanc’s grapes ripen to a soft yellow-green; Pinot Noir’s, to a deep blue-black; and Pinot Gris’, to a color somewhere in between magenta and (oh, yeah) hot pink. Where it grows Widely [...]

By | 2018-10-24T23:08:50+00:00 June 20th, 2018|