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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Review: 2006 Willamette Valley Vineyards Pinot Noir

By Christopher Null | February 6, 2008 |

Of all Pinot Noir wines, Oregon Pinots might be the most prototypical “new world” examples of the grape. The earthiness — even skunkiness — of French Burgundies is absent in most Oregon Pinots, at least at reasonable price levels. The fruit takes center stage here, not the terroir. Willamette Valley Vineyards’ newly released 2006 Pinot…

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Review: 2004 Clos du Bois Zinfandel North Coast

By Christopher Null | January 30, 2008 |

My expectations for a $10 Zin don’t exactly run high, but Clos du Bois’s latest is just fine for a weekday quaff. It overwhelms with berry aromas the minute you open the bottle, cherry and raspberry filling the room. There’s less to impress when you drink it: It goes down easy but there’s nothing complex…

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Tasting Report: Bonhams Pre-Auction Event, January 2008

By Christopher Null | January 27, 2008 |

Hit another tasting event this week (check out September 2007’s report here). My notes are less copious this month; the wines were good on the whole, but nothing knocked me off my feet. Here are some thoughts on what was especially interesting over the course of the evening. Nothing of exceptional note among the whites,…

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Review: 2004 Viñedos de Aldeanueva Rioja Cortijo II Crianza

By Christopher Null | January 18, 2008 |

If you’ve dismissed Spanish wines until now, you might be in for a surprise. You’ll be hard-pressed to find an easier drinking wine, from Spain or anywhere else, than Viñedos de Aldeanueva’s Cortijo Crianza (aka Cortijo II Crianza; the II refers to, well, I’m not sure exactly what, but I think it has something to…

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Original Recipe: The St. Ignatius Cocktail

By Christopher Null | January 16, 2008 |

The idea for this cocktail came to me out of the blue. It’s indeed quite delicious. The St. Ignatius 1 oz. St. Germain liqueur 1 oz. white dessert wine (Sauternes, Tokaji, Moscato, or premium American botrytis-affected wine like Violetta) Shake with ice and strain into a coupe. I actually used Donnafugata’s Passito di Pantelleria Ben…

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Review: 2007 Henry Fessy Beaujolais-Villages Nouveau

By Christopher Null | December 16, 2007 |

I should have written this up a month ago, when the 2007 Beaujolais Nouveaus first hit the market, but time got away from me… plus, there are still plenty of Beaujolais Nouveau wines available, including this one from Henry Fessy. For those not familiar with Beaujolais Nouveau, this is a young wine from the Burgundy…

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Review: 2002 Plaimont Madiran Plénitude

By Christopher Null | December 1, 2007 |

I’d wager you’re unfamiliar with any of the terms in the name of the wine in this review… and to be honest I had to look up the Madiran region on a map myself. Here’s what you need to know: Madiran is a tiny spot of land in southwest France (you’ll sometimes see these wines…

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Review: 2005 Robert Hall Winery Rhone de Robles

By Christopher Null | November 2, 2007 |

I came to this Rhone-style blend with no real expectations. I don’t even know where the bottle came from. Color me surprised. Just sitting in the glass, three feet away, it fills the air around you with heavenly berry scents, cherry, raspberry, a precious hint of spice, and lush fruit. Blended from 44% Grenache, 40%…

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Review: 2001 Travaglini Gattinara

By Christopher Null | October 27, 2007 |

Hey, Chianti isn’t the only Italian wine out there, folks. Give Travaglini’s Gattinara a try. Even if you don’t like it, you’ll enjoy talking about the bottle, I promise. This wine is from Gattinara in Italy’s Piedmont region and is 100% Nebbiolo, the critical grape in Barolo wines. As with Barolo, Gattinara can be big…

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Review: 2004 Sebastiani Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley

By Christopher Null | October 12, 2007 |

Sebastiani is a big, big winery. I can’t even go to their tasting room any more because of the overpowering antiseptic smell in there the last time I went. You try tasting wine when all you can smell is Clorox and Lysol. Doesn’t work. My dad (a huuuuge Sebastiani fanatic) gave me a bottle of…

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