While wine can be made from many types of fruits and flowers, it is iconically produced from fermented grapes. Wine production dates back at least 8000 years, and today it is produced in quantity in more than 70 countries, with Italy, Spain, France, and the United States the largest producers of wine today. The world of wine is vast and complex, with more than 10,000 grape varietals in existence. This is largely due to experimental cross-breeding and grafting that has taken place for millennia, and such experiments have led to some of today’s most popular grape varieties, including Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. The primary styles of wine today include red, white, and rose. While almost all grape juice itself is white, red wine is made by allowing the juice from black (aka red) grapes to ferment in contact with its skins, while white wine is usually (but not always) made from white grapes. Rose wine is made from black grapes with limited skin contact, which provides the pinkish color.

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Exploring Port Wine: Touring Porto and the Douro Valley
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Review: NV Smith Woodhouse Lodge Reserve Port

By Christopher Null | September 30, 2008 |

Smith Woodhouse isn’t the biggest name in Port, but the company’s Lodge Reserve Port is a winner in the nonvintage world. This is a rich and vibrant ruby Port, full of fruit and jam flavors. The finish is impressively long. It stays with you in the back of your mouth for minutes, fading from sugary…

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Original Recipe: Tuesday Afternoon

By Christopher Null | September 28, 2008 |

This is the cocktail that launched quite a memorable evening. This one’s fun to watch, as the fig seeds float up and down with the Prosecco when you first serve it. The name is apropos of nothing, as I couldn’t come up with anything in the “fig” genre. Tuesday Afternoon 1 fresh fig, stem removed…

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Tasting Report: Bonhams Pre-Auction Event, September 2008

By Christopher Null | September 26, 2008 |

Interesting tasting last night for Bonhams and Butterfield’s pre-auction tasting. But more than the wines was the curious issue of attendance: Considerably lower than even six months ago and perhaps an ominous sign of what may happen to the market for high-end wines in hard economic times. Still, there was wine to be tasted (in…

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Interstate Wine Shipping Laws Still Totally Busted

By Christopher Null | September 25, 2008 |

The Wall Street Journal reminds me how easy I have it here in California: I can order wine or spirits from just about anywhere and have no trouble receiving them here without fear of UPS dumping $100 Cab down the drain. (Believe me, it happens!) I’ve been under the impression that things have been improving…

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Palin Syrah Not a Hit in SF

By Christopher Null | September 25, 2008 |

I thought sales of Palin Syrah would’ve gone up for the humor value alone. Nothing’s funny any more, I guess. The sales of Palin Syrah, a 100 percent organic wine from Chile, have dramatically plummeted in a San Francisco wine bar ever since Republican presidential hopeful John McCain named Sarah Palin to be his running…

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Review: 2003 Shafer Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

By Christopher Null | September 20, 2008 |

With Shafer’s 2003 Cab, on first blush, there’s heat and considerable tannin on the palate. That tannin doesn’t fade, even after four hours of sipping, I’m still getting a lot of heavy tannic notes, indicating this wine’s got years ahead of it before it peaks. The fruit beneath is enticing, even though it’s tight as…

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Biodynamics or Dianetics?

By Christopher Null | September 20, 2008 |

The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry weighs in on the biggest fad in winemaking going today: Biodynamic farming. One assumes by the name that biodynamics must be a good thing… but what does it really mean? The CSI folks dig deeper, outlining something that even includes astrological analysis that is “set against a complex background cosmogony…

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Book Review: Hip Tastes – The Fresh Guide to Wine

By Christopher Null | September 13, 2008 |

Courtney Cochran is one of these hipster gals trying to change the wine world and refocus it on a younger crowd, away from the Robert Parkers of the industry. Great, I’m all for it. Now she’s got a book out, Hip Tastes – The Fresh Guide to Wine, which is sort of an introductory text…

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Will the Real Mouton Please Stand Up?

By Christopher Null | September 13, 2008 |

Wine counterfeiting is a large and growing problem in the elite world of rare wine auctions, with phony bottles being sold at prices in the thousands of dollars. But do those who buy — and even drink — fake wine know the difference? Food & Wine snuck a fake bottle of 1982 Ch. Mouton Rothschild…

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Review: NV Pietra Santa Sacred Stone Master’s Red Blend

By Christopher Null | September 12, 2008 |

$10 wines, especially reds, don’t often get you very far. Sacred Stone is an interesting exception to the rule. If there was a year on the label (and a cork instead of a giveaway screwcap) and you took this to a party, your host would likely be impressed. Sacred Stone Master’s Red Blend (a vaguely…

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