Wine for Normal People

This week we have a special guest, Eric S, a wine sales executive in Shanghai, who gives us an overview of what's going on with wine in China. We cover things like:

  • What types of wines are people drinking in China?
  • Is wine consumption growing or has it hit a wall?
  • What's the deal with the gifting culture, anti-corruption, and the crackdown (A.K.A, why the top growth Burgundy and Bordeaux need to pay attention to the UK, US, and Canada again)? 
  • Has the wine bubble burst?
  • Do Chinese drink domestic wine or imported wine most often? Is it any good? What are emerging areas?
  • What's the deal with counterfeiting?
  • What's the predicted future for China's wine market?

A truly fascinating conversation -- we learned a ton and hope you do too! 

Direct download: 132_Ep_132__Wine_in_China.mp3
Category:wine, China -- posted at: 11:43pm EDT

After a recent trip to Sonoma, we reflect on how things have improved in the past few years. The maturity of the region, including the quality of the wine and creativity of the producers, the family legacy of farming, & some great travel tips are covered. In more detail...

1. First we discuss how Sonoma has entered young adulthood– it’s grown up We saw more maturity in producers, less exhuberence and more balance in both wine and attitude.

2.  We saw a change in the risks people are willing to take too. There was more creativity, more awareness about the environment and far better articulation around why certain farming practices are used – we heard about concrete benefits, not just marketing BS on biodynamics, organics, and sustainability.

3. M.C. Ice observed found there was more under the radar to discover, and liked what he found when he looked a little closer. 

4. As we've observed before, the family stories of these Sonoma properties are interesting – there seems to be more emphasis on farming and connection to the land, especially now that many smaller properties are getting sucked up by big hulking wineries. We saw strong pride at every small winery we visited, especially at Mayo Family Vineyards, from whom you'll hear a clip near the end of the podcast. 

5. We discuss our crazy barrel tasting with Bill of ACORN (and promise more to come)

6 We wrap up with some key travel tips, like:  keep the itinerary tight by planning well, consider renting an Air BnB, drink plenty of water, and make sure there is food in the car. We covered a bunch more too!

 

Hope you like this episode. And thanks to our sponsor:

 audible.com.

Get a FREE audiobook download at www.audibletrial.com/winefornormalpeople. There are more than 100,000 titles to choose from, including some great wine books, for your iPhone, Android, Kindle or mp3 player.

 

Direct download: 131_Ep_131__Observations_From_A_Trip_To_Sonoma_CA.mp3
Category:wine -- posted at: 12:05am EDT

In this episode we talk with Jim Morris of MacPhail Family Wines. We discuss a lot of stuff with our old friend and one of the nicest guys in Sonoma. Topics range from:

  • The CA wine industry and trends that we are less than excited about (yes, we name names!)
  • The history of Sebastapol, Gravenstein apples, and the Barlow -- the latest hotspot in Sonoma where MacPhail's tasting lounge is located
  • The world of Pinot-philes: Labeling, wagons, vineyards, and soils
  • And most importantly -- Pinot styles and the differences from Oregon down to Santa Barbara

A great enrichment to previous CA podcasts and fun conversation with a great, smart guy! 

Direct download: Ep_130__CA_Pinot_with_Jim_Morris_of_MacPhail_Family_Wines.mp3
Category:wine -- posted at: 12:28am EDT

An impromptu recording with one of the only producers in the Dry Creek that does Mediterranean grapes, not just Zinfandel: Mick Unti of Unti Vineyards.

The conversation is very free form, but we discuss:

  • New World v Old World flavors and palates
  • The real differences in Old v New World farming and winemaking
  • How Unti is leading the evolution of Sonoma (without really knowing it!)

Because this was unexpected, it's a bit more unstructured than some of my other interviews, so I hope you can roll with it and still enjoy!

Direct download: Ep_129__Mick_Unti_on_Igniting_Sonomas_Grape_Revolution.mp3
Category:wine -- posted at: 11:06pm EDT

This week listener Jenn Y and I interview Tomomi Muraki Duquette, a sake sommelier from Niigata City who schools us in everything sake! We cover everything you need to allow you to explore the world of sake! Thanks to Tomomi and Jenn for a great lesson!

We cover things like:

  • What is sake? How much like beer is it versus like wine?
  • How is sake made?
  • What flavors should we expect from different kinds of sake?
  • What are the different kinds of sake? What should we look for on the bottle?

As promised, here are the types of sake that Tomomi discussed:

  • junmai
  • honjozo
  • Junmai ginjo, gingo
  • Junmai daiginjo, daiginjo 

For more good reading on the topic, please visit this site: http://boutiquejapan.com/sake101/

 

Enjoy this very cool, different WFNP special! 

 

And for more info on Tomomi's group, see her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/niigatasakelovers?fref=ts

Direct download: 128_Ep_128__Interview_with_a_Sake_Sommelier.mp3
Category:sake -- posted at: 1:32am EDT

This co-podcast with Brian Weber from Bartender Journey will teach you a ton about what goes on behind the bar with wine! From the danger of ordering rosé to how long a wine is left open before chucked, we give it to you straight! 

 

Brian launched our full conversation on his podcast, which includes more basics about wine. I've edited our conversation to focus just on the wine-relevant portions! We talked about...

  • How much knowledge do bartenders have about wine?How much training do they receive?
  • Is it ok to ask for samples?
  • How long does wine stick around before it's chucked if it's sold BTG? Do they ever try it - or just pour and hope it is still good? How many days do you leave a red by the glass compared to a white after opening?
  • How does pricing of wine work in a restaurant setting?
  • Do you think of us wine folk as silly purists? Meaning, a great cocktail is made from a few, if not many ingredients, and we winos are mostly looking for singularity.
  • What do you do when a customer tells you the wine you served is corked?
  • Have you ever faked rosé by adding red  to white wine? 
  • Are there any cocktails that do not screw up your palate before the meal?
  • What are some new and exciting wine cocktails being offered? How much of a difference does better wine make in these cocktails?

A very fun conversation from which I know you'll learn a ton! 

 

Enjoy! 

Direct download: 127_Ep_127__A_Bartenders_Take_on_Wine.mp3
Category:wine -- posted at: 2:42pm EDT

Forget the scare-mongering media's claims about arsenic in wine! We have the real deal. This week, I was HONORED to host Dr. Carl Winter, PhD, and professor at University of California at Davis. He's a food toxicologist & food safety musician (you must listen to his songs about food hazards, sung to popular music. He is hilarious but brilliant because the stuff is so memorable). He sets us straight and let's us know there is nothing to fear when it comes to arsenic in wine. I'm copying in some points he gave me on arsenic in wine, in case you want to go further in your knowledge on the subject.

AND the bonus. M.C. Ice was so enamored of the concept of food safety music, that he created something in homage to Dr. Winter. I hope you love it (and I hope he does too!).*

MANY thanks to Dr. Winter. A cool dude, an inspiration to us, and an all around nice dude!

Direct download: Ep_126__Arsenic_in_Wine_with_Dr._Carl_Winter.mp3
Category:wine -- posted at: 1:31pm EDT

Apart from the obvious (which, M.C. Ice states): there's an ocean and a continent separating them, what IS the difference between the Caberet Sauvignon based wines of Napa and those of Bordeaux (Left Bank). Here are the things we address:

  • Latitude -- Bordeaux is at 45˚ and Napa is at 38˚ and it makes a difference
  • Terrain -- the Left Bank is on a high plateau, near rivers, and is on gravel and clay. Napa is in a valley with big mountains flanking it on each side and Bay and Ocean providing cooling influences
  • Soil -- the Left Bank is relatively uniform. Napa contains half of the soil types that exist on earth
  • Flavors -- Bordeaux is more earthy, Napa more fruity
  • Blends -- Merlot factors into Bordeaux in a more significant way

 

Enjoy and for more information visit www.winefornormalpeople.com

Direct download: Ep_125__Napa_v_Bordeaux_Cab.mp3
Category:French wine -- posted at: 2:30pm EDT

This huge wine producing region of southwest France is old, varied, and sort of inconsistent. There are a lot of misses here but a few big hits, mostly in the form of bubbles and sweet wines. If you know what you're looking for, you can get great wine.

Good AOPs include:

  • Languedoc
  • Corbières
  • Minervois
  • Roussillon
  • Saint-Chinian

It's quite possible sparkling wine originated in Limoux -- Blanquette, made in the ancestrale method of the Mauzac grape, and Crémant, made in the Champagne method, are both exceptional here. 

Maybe the best stuff the Languedoc-Roussillon is the Vin Doux Naturel, or the sweet wine of the region. From Banyuls (great with chocolate) to Rivesaltes, the sweet wines are not to be missed! 

Although from my experience most of the still wines from the Languedoc are lackluster, it's an emerging region and worth a concerted effort to keep trying to see whether it will capture some of its former glory.

Direct download: Ep_124__Wines_of_Languedoc-Roussillon.mp3
Category:French wine -- posted at: 12:02am EDT

It's the Chinese New Year so it's time for a pairing podcast! M.C. Ice is fascinated that you can successfully pair wine with Chinese cuisine, but after serious experimentation I made a believer of him. 

A few key notes:

1. Slightly sweet Riesling and Vouvray are the MVPs with Chinese. You can't go wrong with these wines because they have full fruit, sugar to counteract the spice, and acidity to keep the flavors lively. YearoftheGoatSheep_final_krisgaliciabrown

2. Sweet and sour dishes are great with rosé or Alsace

3. With meat dishes, Beaujolais is the MVP but rosé could work for pork buns

4. With seafood, try Muscadet or Albariño

5. Fried rice with egg can take Prosecoo, Viognier or a full Chardonnay

6. Dim sum is hard, but Riesling is your MVP!

If you're a Chinese food lover, you'll love this podcast! Please let us know what you think about these pairings and add some of your own!

Happy Year of the Goat/Sheep!

Direct download: Ep_123__Wine_and_Chinese_Food.mp3
Category:Food and wine -- posted at: 12:09am EDT