Category Archives: Wine Articles

A Very Local Wine Country

Urban wineries are a major trend in several areas, including a growing number in the South Bay.

(To be published by South Bay Accent magazine.)

The concept of a “winery” has definitely evolved in recent years and need not include bucolic vistas of vast vineyards or even a single grapevine swaying in the breeze. San Francisco, in particular, has around two dozen operations where winemakers do their fermentation thing in warehouses and other roomy buildings smack dab in high-density environments, with other so-called “urban wineries” scattered around Oakland, Berkeley and Alameda. This trend is also thriving elsewhere, such as in Portland, Seattle — even in landlocked Denver — and has come to the South Bay, too. Continue reading

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Sake 101

(Published by South Bay Accent magazine in February 2018.)

There are plentiful options when it comes to choosing a beverage to accompany a Japanese meal. Since Japanese cuisine is frequently subtle, it can go nicely with well-chosen wine and beer is also a popular  accompaniment. However, those seeking the full Japanese experience should order sake (sock-ay) to go with their meal after first learning a few basics about this surprisingly complex beverage. First off, sake is not rice wine, as many diners believe it to be. Rather, it’s fermented from special rice varieties that have first been milled to expose the starchy core, then a special enzyme, koji, is added that helps convert starch to sugar while the sugar is turned into alcohol. Typically, the more the rice has been polished, the higher quality is the sake it produces, which is best consumed within a year of bottling in most cases. Continue reading

The Insider’s Guide to Finding and Buying High-End Wines

The top wines from Northern California’s wine country like Screaming Eagle, Marcassin, Colgin and others often sound irresistible in descriptions from wine critics but actually locating and buying these wines can be a challenge. Understanding how the gray market works is the best strategy for finding many great wines today, and not just of trophy-wine caliber.  Real all about it on KQED’s Bay Area Bites food & wine site here.

Felton Road Winery, the Kiwi Star

Many critics and wine buffs compare the pinot noirs of Felton Road to the best of Burgundy.

To those of us who love pinot noir — that elegant, complex, full satisfying red wine that is so great with food — the biggest tragedy is that the most famous producer of such wine, France’s Burgundy region, now prices its products well out of reach for many. Continue reading

The Luscious Wines of Middle Earth Are Enchanting Bay Area Imbibers

Northern  California is now the world’s biggest importer of New Zealand wines because local wine nuts are discovering the country’s expressive, vibrant varietals — including pinot noir, syrah and cabernet blends — are not just great price performers but come from a beautiful place at the forefront of sustainable winemaking. Real about it on KQED’s Bay Area Bites here.

Sipping & Supping at Local Wine Bars

wine bar-1Local wine bars are flourishing — and are a great place to try varied wines and compatible eats.

(Published by South Bay Accent magazine in August, 2016.)

Having been discovered 6,000 to 8,000 years ago, wine has long since seeped into human history and culture while being the optimal escort for food. Thus it’s no surprise that dining establishments where wine plays the major role — wine bars — have been around long before Copernicus realigned astronomy to a correct axis in the 16th century. In fact, he reportedly favored an Italian wine bar that was built in 1435.  Rudyard Kipling wrote his first novel in the London building housing Gordon’s — a famous wine bar launched in 1890 — while the oldest Parisian wine bar, Réserve de Quasimodo, sits quietly in the shadows of gothic Notre Dame cathedral and was a hangout of famous criminal Cartouche in 1715. Continue reading

Home “Wine Countries” Dotting the Bay Area

home vineyards

The image of strolling through lush vineyards while sipping a glass of wine made from the grapes isn’t just something seen in winery marketing materials. A growing number of one-percenters in the Bay Area are replacing their lawns with grapevines and shooting for more-than-just-drinkable vintages.  While these homeowners soon learn that lots of things can go wrong in farming, the siren song of Wine Country is hard to extinguish. Read all about it on KQED’s food and wine blog here.