Wine for Normal People

One of the most common questions I get is about random stuff floating in wine and what to do with it. In this episode we cover it all -- wine diamonds, sediment, spritz, clouds, and cork -- and explain what they are and what to do when you encounter them!

Direct download: Ep_161_Whats_that_floating_in_your_wine_.mp3
Category:wine -- posted at: 11:32am EDT

You want to know more about rosé? Ian Renwick, our regular contributor from the Luberon on the border of Rhone and Provence with Domaine de la Citadelle has been studying the ins and outs of rosé for years now. As his apprenticeship comes to a close, his "dissertation" is all about rosé and he shares much of what he knows. 


Here are the show notes. We discuss...

  • The history of rosé and overcoming the bad reputation of pink
  • Rosé's new found Popularity -- Brangelina, seasonality, and trendiness
  • How to make rose -- first how to make red and white, then the challenges of rosé
    • What grapes go into rose and why a lot of rose is crap
    • What people SHOULD do to make great rose -- DORK OUT
    • Why rose is the "most technological of wine" -- and whether or not it's drink making or wine making (my new favorite question)
    • The importance of maintaining aromatics in rose
  • Color differences, flavor differences and what to look for when shopping (hint, why color should NOT be a factor)
  • The question of age..
  • Food and wine pairing ideas
And then we end of the rosé rant! 
An excellent podcast that will give you new appreciation for rosé.
Direct download: 160_Ep_160__The_Ros_Story_with_Ian_Renwick.mp3
Category:wine -- posted at: 11:42pm EDT

A fascinating convo with podcast listener and coffee guru Kendon Shaw of Victrola Coffee in Seattle ( . We talk about the similarities between the two -- from an agricultural, business, and enjoyment standpoint -- and how coffee is evolving to become more like wine. Thanks to Kendon and Victrola -- a fascinating look inside the coffee business and a beverage that many of us take for granted, but probably shouldn't.


Kendon offers a coupon code:

Free shipping with this code: normalwine

Valid through 4/17/2017



We go out on a limb this week, sharing a personal story on a  controversial topic. But after years of questions from moms and dads to be, it's finally time. 


Rarely do women in the wine industry discuss their relationship to alcohol when they're pregnant and the decisions they make about drinking while nursing. But just because it's not discussed widely, doesn't mean it's not on people's minds. This one's for you, moms and dads. It's not advice (I'm no expert or doctor) nor is it meant to persuade you to do anything. It's just our story of what we did and the how and why behind it because someone needs to say it. 


So at the risk of everyone thinking I'm a terrible person, I admit that I did, in fact, drink in moderation during pregnancy. I talk about why I made the decision I did and what moderation actually meant to me (I actually tell you what I did in each trimester), M.C. Ice discusses his thoughts on it, and then we debate a bit. 


Hope this helpful to some of you, and doesn't alienate others! 


Direct download: 158_Ep_158__Did_I_drink_when_I_was_pregnant__Our_story.mp3
Category:wine -- posted at: 2:42pm EDT

Alistair Nesbitt, Ph.D candidate at the Univ of E Anglia, UK discusses his work on climate change & how it affects viticulture & the wine biz. We talk about his fascinating paper: "Climate change drives UK wine production but not without weather shocks". 

Direct download: 157_Ep_157__Climate_Change_and_UK_Wine_with_Alistair_Nesbitt.mp3
Category:wine -- posted at: 12:23am EDT

First we hit on the Background on Roman Empire

  • The Roman Empire lasted from around 753 BC until 476 AD and encompassed most of Europe
  • The impact was far, wide, long lasting – Romans started the industry all over Europe AND they discovered winemaking practices that are still around today

Expansion of Wine

  • We discuss the Greeks and how they got the ball rolling with viticulture in Italy
  • Then we go over the conquest of Europe by the Romans vis a vis wine – from the Punic Wars and Carthage on. Spain, Gaul (France), Germany, and Britain


Golden Age of Wine

  • We talk about the Golden Age of wine in Rome in the 2nd century BC
  • We discuss the medicinal, social, and religious roles of wine -- including how it was used by wealthy people to show their friends how rich they were
  • The transformation of wine into a daily necessity where everyone from the rich to slaves drank it


Viticulture in the Roman era

  • The concept of terroir is not new – writers from Pliny to Columella discussed the relationship between the land and the vineyard – soil type, slope, proximity to water were all important to viticulture
  • Winemaking wasn’t so different from how it is today – the importance of how you press grapes, sur lie aging, the process of making sweet wine, and storage and aging were cited by writers
  • Romans differentiated between vineyards and had famed wines: we talk Falernian, Alban, Caecuban and more
  • We discuss the importance of place name v grape type and how the tradition continues

All in all, a dork-fest of an episode, but a very fun one indeed!

In Vino Veritas!

Direct download: Ep_156_Wine_of_Ancient_Rome.mp3
Category:wine -- posted at: 11:58pm EDT

In this episode I have a fangirl moment with Jane Anson, one of the top wine writers in the world. She's the contributing editor and Bordeaux correspondent for Decanter Magazine,, and, among other publications, and author of the book "Bordeaux Legends," the story of the Premier Cru of Bordeaux.

In the show we talk about:

1. Jane's background, how she traveled the world and how she wound up as a journalist for one of the foremost wine magazines in the world.

2. The future of wine media

3. Jane's book "Bordeaux Legends" and her other books 

4. Bordeaux -- her impressions of the region, its classification systems and the state of affairs on the left and right banks.

5. We wrap with a discussion of Jane's favorite places in Bordeaux (from a wine and non-wine standpoint).  

A fantastic conversation and hopefully the first of many (I begged her to come on again and she said yes!)

You can find Jane @newbordeaux on Twitter and on her site

Direct download: 155_Ep_155__Jane_Anson_of_Decanter.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 11:17pm EDT

Santa Barbara is a cool climate wine region in CA's Central Coast. At 34˚ latitude, it doesn't seem like Pinot & Chardonnay would thrive here, but weird geology, geography, & a big ocean make the area one of CA's best & most unique cool climate hubs.

First we cover the basics on Santa Barbara:

  • 5 hours north of LA
  • It's separated from the rest of the United States by the San Andreas Fault, giving it different geology from much of inland California – soils here are more marine
  • Shallow soils are well suited to viticulture, stress in the vines, low vigor, excellent concentration of flavor.
  • 34˚N Latitude – should be almost too hot for grapegrowing but valleys are transverse -- they run east-west rather than north-south
    • Geologic oddity, the ocean breezes sweep eastward and are funneled in, helped by the hills and mountains that ring the region.
    • East into foothills: warm during the day, cool during the night,
    • West valley - ocean enjoy a mild and moderate climate.
  • Main grapes – Pinot, Chard, Syrah
  • The area took off in the 1970s and 1980s, but it's real tipping point was in 2004:  the movie Sideways was set and filmed in the AVA

 Then we discuss the American Viticultural Areas: 

  • Santa Maria Valley
  • Sta Rita Hills
  • Santa Ynez Valley
  • Ballard Canyon
  • Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara
  • Potential new ones coming:
    • Los Alamos region
    • The Los Olivos District
    • The Santa Maria Bench

 If you haven't dipped a toe in to Santa Barbara's wines and you have access to them (especially those from the sub-AVAs) this podcast should get you motivated to do it! 



Direct download: 154_Ep_154__Santa_Barbara_California.mp3
Category:wine -- posted at: 12:07am EDT

After a great trip, compliments of Wines of British Columbia, I have a great handle on what the Okanagan Valley is and what it has to offer.

  • First, we provide a thanks to the great people who were part of the trip: Laura Kittmer of Wines of BC, Lori Pike-Raffan and Blair Baldwin of the Okanagan Wine Festivals Society, Kyle Taylor from Sun Peaks, Arnette Stricker of @RTWGirl and Stefanie Michaels, @AdventureGirl
  • We review the brief history of Okanagan wine, which began in earnest in 1990.
  • We talk about the grapes available here from Merlot (most widely planted grape), and Pinot Noir to Pinot Gris (second most widely planted grape), Chardonnay, and Riesling 
  • Climate and geography are next -- we talk about the desert conditions of South Okanagan and why dry conditions, lakes, and latitude make such a difference to the wines here
  • We get into the nuts and bolts -- the sub regions and what each grows and specializes in, discussing the importance of exposure and location and what that means for wine styles.
  • Osoyoos/Black Sage and Oliver are the regions I mention as being high potential, along with the Similkameen Valley, west of Osoyoos and similar to the area.

After a bunch of facts, I give my opinion on what the region is and where it may be going. 

Thanks again to all who made the trip possible. I'll be coming again to see the south part of the region, but I appreciate the overview and the amazing hospitality, kindness, and meticulous planning but the Wines of British Columbia and the folks at the Okanagan Winter Wine Festival.  Go to for more information! 

Direct download: 153_Ep_153__Okanagan_Valley_Canada.mp3
Category:wine -- posted at: 11:57pm EDT

To follow up on the Virginia wine podcast, conversations with Luca Paschina of Barboursville Vineyards, who has been making wine in Charlottesville for 25 years, and a quick snippet of Kelly White of Glen Manor. Both will highlight why VA wine is so unique.

A few things on the podcast: 

1. The recordings were in tasting rooms. If you don't like ambient noise, skip this one.

2. You'll hear my dad and Frank Morgan of Drink What You Like blog and Virginia wine expert asking questions as well. I travelled heavy this time! 

Most of the podcast is a conversation with Luca Paschina of Barboursville Vineyards in Charlottesville, Virginia. They are a standard-bearer for quality in the region, as one of the oldest and finest producers:

  • We discuss Luca's background -- his schooling in the Piedmont of Italy, his experiences, and how he wound up in Charlottesville working for the Zonin family at Barboursville in 1990
  • Luca explains the improving reputation of Virginia and how Barboursville works to promote the region by making excellent wine
  • We get NERDY -- talking about everything from vineyard management, to diseases that California nurseries have been sending their way and the economics of that, to use of oak, yeast, and wine fads.
  • Then we talk about grapes, and there is some tasting of the Vermentino and the Bordeaux blend, Octagon (at one point I say "Sauvignon" and I'm talking about Cabernet Sauvignon, BTW). 

Next we have a 5 minute snippet of a conversation with Kelly White of Glen Manor. 

  • Kelly gives us specifics on vintage, how it works for them, and some examples of extreme vineyard management
  • Then she discusses how they make wine and their philosophy and work ethic. These wines are top notch, and much of the magic comes from their orientation and ideas about great wine.

Then we wrap! Enjoy!