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The Magnificent Seven

This week's "Wine Talk" recommendations were culled with Thanksgiving in mind. Specifically, I was on the lookout for fun wines. Not every wine you open over the holidays needs to be profound, though the Stony Hill white riesling qualifies on that count.

Usually, a wine that is delicious, goes down easy and doesn't put a crimp in your wallet ...Read more

A Balancing Act

It's no secret many wine enthusiasts consider the traditional Thanksgiving feast a daunting challenge for wine. The combination of savory and sweet aromas would seem to contradict normal assumptions about food and wine pairings.

Truth be told, though it's tricky, the Thanksgiving feast is a rare opportunity to focus on the most important ...Read more

The Cradle of Cabernet

The Napa Valley was a different place when Donn and Molly Chappellet launched their winery on Pritchard Hill a half-century ago. The Judgment of Paris, a blind tasting in Paris where a handful of Napa Valley wineries shocked the world by besting the finest wines France could put forward, was yet to happen. Hillside vineyards were a novelty at ...Read more

But First, Wine

If you're like most restaurant diners, you scrutinize the menu long before you peek at the wine list. That's the normal approach to restaurant wine. I've come to embrace a different approach, however, inspired in part by a couple of extraordinary dining experiences that veered off in another direction.

Several years ago, during a tour of ...Read more

The Wine Country Fires

Rightly or wrongly, when most Americans think of wine country -- a vague term at best -- they mean the Napa Valley and neighboring Sonoma County an hour north of San Francisco. The region embodies the good life.

Rolling vineyards give way to wooded hillsides, and idyllic villages with world-class restaurants dot the landscape. Along the way, ...Read more

Fall Classics

It was on a damp, chilly autumn afternoon just outside Beaune, in the heart of France's Burgundy region, that I came to the realization that wines are seasonal.

I stood in the doorway of a humble country restaurant with a wood-burning stove that served a dual purpose, in that it also warmed the dining room. The day's special was braised ...Read more

The Icing on the Cake

To celebrate Jerry Lohr's 80th birthday, his namesake winery created a new wine in the founder's honor, the 2013 J. Lohr Signature cabernet sauvignon. The Paso Robles winery priced it to be worthy of a tribute to one of the icons of California wine, at $100 a bottle.

In a review earlier this year, I evaluated the J. Lohr Signature cabernet ...Read more

Somms Know Value Wines, Too

It's not exactly news that professional sommeliers are generally well-informed on the latest and greatest from the world of wine. What isn't so well-known is that most top-notch somms appreciate wines from across a broad spectrum of price. They understand that price is based on a variety of factors, some having little to do with how good the ...Read more

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

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