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For the Love of Merlot

October is merlot month. Once upon a time, the mere thought of a month dedicated to merlot would have inspired smirks all around. The hit movie "Sideways" poked fun at merlot drinkers, and for years afterward, merlot producers wrestled with the image of merlot as a mediocre wine.

That was never the case, of course. The most sought-after wine ...Read more

Rethinking Temecula

In the southwest corner of California's Riverside County, a scant one-hour drive from San Diego, the Temecula Valley wine country enjoys a surging popularity among day-trippers from densely populated Southern California.

The rolling hills of Temecula Valley, east of Old Town Temecula, are home to more than 30 wineries. Many of them have ...Read more

From Wine to Whiskey

Murphy Quint remembers -- not so fondly -- digging post holes for the trellis system at the family vineyard in Swisher, Iowa. He was 14 years old at the time and pitching in as his mother and father, Jeff and Laurie Quint, were about to launch Cedar Ridge, a small family winery.

"Our original business plan was to make wine, he said. "It was a ...Read more

Value Wines for Labor Day

Although summer isn't officially over for a few more weeks, it ends emotionally on Labor Day weekend, when we usually cover the grill one last time in a summer state of mind.

To celebrate the passing of summer, many take to the backyard for a final summer feast. They invite friends and family. Pretty soon, it's a crowd. Before you know it, ...Read more

Pet Peeves

Pet peeve No 1: What could be more idyllic than a summer evening on the patio of a Michelin two-star restaurant in Provence, France, spent enjoying the brilliance of a great chef and a bottle of extraordinary wine?

That was the setting in my mind's eye when I booked a reservation at the fabled l'Oustau de Baumaniere in Les Baux-de-Provence ...Read more

The New Wine Snobbery

Once upon a time, French, Italian and German wines monopolized the discussion of fine wine in the United States. California, New York, Oregon and Washington wine production hadn't yet blossomed, so most fine-dining wine lists and big-city wine shops were populated with wines only the well-traveled could pronounce.

That exclusivity fostered a ...Read more

Rose Revolution

Following a monthlong food and wine tour through France, I came home with dry rose wines on my mind. It is the pause that refreshes the French at this time of year, particularly those who flock to the beaches along the French Riviera in late summer.

To my pleasant surprise, in the stack of wine samples that awaited me upon my return there ...Read more

Postcard From France: Paris

PARIS -- The City of Light has everything a wine lover could want and more.

Start with the ubiquitous cafes and tabacs that seem to line every boulevard. If wine and food are your thing, you're never more than steps away from a verre de vin blanc and a baguette with cheese and butter.

At the humble cafe, your wine of choice is likely to be ...Read more

Postcard from France: Provence

AIX-EN-PROVENCE, France -- There are a number of reasons tourists flock to Provence in summer. There are the pristine beaches that line the glistening blue Mediterranean waters. The ancient Roman and Greek ruins are an attraction, too. For art lovers, many of the quaint villages of Provence and the Cote d'Azur were the inspiration for Van Gogh...Read more

Postcard From France: Cote d'Azur

NICE, France -- The French Riviera is a mixed bag for the wine enthusiast willing to travel thousands of miles to a foreign land in search of exotic wine and food experiences.

Here, in the heart of the Cote d'Azur, the most exotic wine experience at the beginning of my personal Tour de France came at a rustic French cafe, La Femme du ...Read more

10 Summer Value Wines

It's summertime, and the living's easy. So, too, should be the wines you drink. May they go down easy, and be easy on your wallet as well.

I've selected a handful of superb wines that, in my humble opinion, over deliver for the price. Some of these are perennial favorites, such as the Castello Banfi Brunello di Montalcino, and some are recent...Read more

The Big Chill

There used to be a saying among wine aficionados that "a wine's first obligation is to be red." Indeed, there is a significant body of wine enthusiasts that clings to that mantra and only drinks red wine -- as an aperitif before dinner; with dinner, even if fish or shellfish are being served; or after dinner, as a nightcap.

To each his own. But...Read more

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