Wine for Normal People

Happy Thanksgiving! We discuss the ideal wines to go with this hard-to-pair meal with specifics down to producers in some cases! We focus on American wines for this very American holiday.


Here is the line up this year (explanations all included in the podcast!):

1. American sparkling

2. Off-dry Riesling, Chenin Blanc or Gewurztraminer

3. Dry rosé

4. Oregon Pinot Noir

5. Central Coast or Washington State Syrah


From our family to yours -- a happy, safe, fun Thanksgiving! Enjoy!

Direct download: 147_Ep_147__Thanksgiving_Pairings_2015.mp3
Category:wine, Thanksgiving -- posted at: 1:21am EDT

Entrepreneur Stephen Bolger discusses VINIV, his company that allows people make their own Bordeaux wine using grapes from top vineyards & help from the top winemaking talent in the region. We discuss this cool concept plus how best to explore Bordeaux wine.

Here's an outline of what we talk about:

  1. First we talk about Stephen's meandering path into wine -- from minerals to tech to grapes!
  2. Then we talk about how VINIV evolved, from idea to reality and the challenges and opportunities along the way. 
  3. We talk about Stephen's relationship with Lynch-Bages and the Cazes family, who owns Château Lynch-Bages, where VINIV is located.
  4. Although VINIV is really expensive, participating is a once in a lifetime experience and one that can be shared among lots of people. Stephen talks about what his clients get out of the experience.
  5. Then we pivot to general discussion on Bordeaux -- we talk about what it's really like in Bordeaux and the politics/structure of the industry. We talk about how people can people get great wine from Bordeaux if they know nothing and how to best explore Bordeaux.

Enjoy! And check out the link for our live, interactive classes!

Direct download: 146_Ep_146_Stephen_Bolger_of_VINIV__Make_Your_Own_Bordeaux.mp3
Category:Bordeaux wine -- posted at: 1:30am EDT

It's getting cooler in the northern hemisphere (and it's still not hot in the southern one!) so we thought we'd make some recommendations for what you could get to drink well this fall! 

Before we get to it, we announce FALL/WINTER CLASSES! Please head to to register!

And here are the slots:

  1. Rhône white blend
  2. Santa Barbara Chardonnay
  3. Fiano di Avellino
  4. Tavel rosé
  5. A wild card white or sparkling -- Lambrusco (a sparkling red) could be cool, or you could just figure out what strikes your fancy
  6. A Cru Beaujolais like Morgon or Moulin a Vent
  7. Spanish Rioja
  8. Portuguese red -- Douro or Dão or Alentejo
  9. Langhe Nebbiolo
  10. Aglianico from southern Italy
  11. Cahors (Malbec) from France
  12. Walla Walla Syrah or Merlot

Let us know what you wind up getting or if you have any new favorites from our recommendations!

Direct download: 145_Ep_145__Filling_a_Case_for_Fall.mp3
Category:wine -- posted at: 1:57am EDT

We talk with Marcello Lunelli, chief winemaker for Ferrari, producer of high end, Metodo Classico sparkling wine in Trentino, Italy. It's great wine. We discuss:


1. Trentino -- its unique location and how the terroir, the Dolomite Mountains, and the soil make the area so special and different from other parts of northeast Italy.

2. The economic situation of Trentino and how Pinot Grigio has been a curse and a blessing for the area.  

3. Marcello's background: his education, his experiences abroad, and his philosophies on how to make superb sparkling wine, including the importance of organic viticulture to Ferrari and the difference it makes. 

4. How sparkling is making headway in Italy and how Ferrari is at the forefront of the movement. 

5. The difference between Trentino metodo classico and Franciacorta in Lombardy.

6. The long history of Ferrari -- they've been around since 1902 -- and how the Lunelli family learned high quality winemaking from the master, Giulio Ferrari.

7. The challenge of making high quality sparkling at scale: How to make a large volume of wine while maintaining quality of a small winery.  

Marcello's passion comes through in the wine. It's excellent -- a MUST try and a great value for what's in the bottle!


In this episode we talk about the enormous and growing popularity (in North America) of red blends.We discuss:

  1. The stats on red blends in the US and their explosive growth, especially at the low end
  2. The marketing gimmicks around the trends, including the fascinating names the large companies have come up with from "InspiRed" to "The Troublemaker."
  3. The flavor profile of most blends and the differences between them and varietal wines. 
  4. The benefits of blends and the names of some very famed blends.
  5. The difference between "intentional blends" and "kitchen sink" blends. Along with the sweetness factor.
  6. My opinion on the importance of back label copy to help explain the blend better
  7. A run down of the potential winners and losers of the trend

Thanks for listening! Enjoy!


Direct download: 143_Ep_143__The_Red_Blend_Trend.mp3
Category:wine -- posted at: 10:54pm EDT

Happy Thanksgiving Canadians! In this mini episode we recommend some wines to have on the table...and a way to serve them! We are thankful for you!


Here are the wines we mention:

Sparkling wine / sparkling rosé
Off-dry Riesling or Chenin Blanc (Spätlese or Vouvray)
Northern Rhône -- Crozes-Hermitage, St-Joseph
Oaked Chardonnay 
Sweet wines: Vins doux Naturels, Port
Direct download: Mini_Podcast__Pairings_for_Canadian_Thanksgiving_FINAL.mp3
Category:wine, Thanksgiving -- posted at: 12:45pm EDT

Portugal has a rich winemaking tradition, a long history with wine, and lots of great wine regions. With a ton of indigenous grapes and a variety of climates across regions, it's a fascinating wine powerhouse and it's on the rise! 

  • We discuss the 4000 year history of winemaking in Portugal
  • We talk about the challenges Portugal has had in recent decades and how its winemaking is getting back on track
  • We talk grapes and how most of them are native to Portugal
  • We discuss the classification system: Vinho de Mesa, Vinho Regional, Indicação de Proveniência Regulamenta (IPR), Denominação de Origem Controlada
  • And then we hit the regions:
    • Vinho Verde
    • Tras Os Montes
    • Douro
    • Dão
    • Bairrada
    • Beira
    • Do Tejo
    • Alentejo
    • Lisboa
    • Península de Setúbal
    • Algarve
    • Madeira


Portugal is a fascinating place. It's a lot to digest because the grapes, region, and language are unfamiliar to many of us but the wine is worth seeking out. It's only getting better!

Direct download: 142_Ep142__Portugal.mp3
Category:wine, Portugal -- posted at: 1:24am EDT

This week we talk to Madeline Puckette of Wine Folly, the amazing wine blog that has brought the art of design to the wine world. Wine Folly's information and outstanding graphics have made wine accessible for wine lovers near and far and I was excited to speak to Madeline about how her concept for Wine Folly has evolved and her upcoming book. Most of the podcast is then devoted to a little crystal ball gazing -- we discuss where we see the wine world going in the next few years and why!


Thanks to Madeline and we wish her every success with her book. Visit her here: 

Direct download: 141_Ep_141__Wine_Trends_with_Madeline_Puckette_of_Wine_Folly.mp3
Category:wine, wine books -- posted at: 11:34am EDT

In this short podcast we bring back Ian Renwick, winemaker and former travel planner to answer one of the top questions I get from you: "I'm going to France. What's the best way to explore the wine regions?"


The options are limited, but we tell you what you can do to get the most out of your trip! 

Direct download: 140_Ep_140__Wine_Travel_in_France.mp3
Category:French wine -- posted at: 12:25pm EDT

As a follow up to episode 138 on the Finger Lakes wine region, we interview Fred Frank, grandson of the man who made growing premium wine grapes on the East Coast of America possible. Fred tells Konstantin's fascinating, important story & shares the ins & outs of cool climate viticulture. A must listen -- Dr. Frank is the reason viticulture exists in unorthodox regions around the US.