Anti-Snob Wine Appreciation: 7 Tips from Sonoma

In Sonoma: Kevin Rose and my attempt at an artsy wine photo.

Thick legs, full body, good structure. Sounds to me like a bad description. But no, it’s a cabernet sauvignon. Huh?

Alas, maybe wine just isn’t for a lad who grew up on Long Island with a rat tail.

Then again, as the soon-to-be wine demigod Gary Vaynerchuk sayeth: “Most people in the wine business are douche bags.”

Sad but true. So how do you appreciate wine without turning up your polo collar and becoming someone worthy of a slap in the face? I just came back from a weekend in Sonoma, and here are 7 tips I learned to follow after bumbling through wine for a few years in Nor-Cal…

1. Don’t get depressed if you’re not a “super taster.”

Don’t get depressed if you don’t taste hints of coriander, cauliflower, and cat fur in wine. If you can drink black coffee, you’ll never be a super taster, though you have a better chance if you’re an Asian woman. Consider examining four characteristics of wine to begin with: tannins, alcohol, acidity, and fruit. To get a feel for the astringent effect of high tannin content, similar to “cotton mouth,” chew on some grape skins.

2. To swirl wine like a pro, try moving from the elbow instead of the wrist.

I’ve always had trouble swirling wine without putting the base of the glass on a tabletop. Jean Charles, owner of Deloach winery, made a simple suggestion that works like a charm with a few minutes of practice: trace small circles in the air with your elbow instead of moving at the wrist. This will open the “bouquet” of the wine for smelling.

3. Tasting is smell-dependent, so prep your nose and use it properly.

Even if you don’t have a cold or congestion, doing a quick nasal irrigation the morning before tasting wine (or food, for that matter) will do wonders for enhancing taste sensitivity. After swirling, insert your nose in the glass and tilt your head to either side to test both nostrils. There has been some evidence to show that the nostrils alternate in workload (“shifts” of 4-6 hours), and you’ll almost always find one has significantly more airflow than the other.

4. Consider using a wine aerator if you don’t have a decanter to enhance flavor and finish.

Decanters are generally glass containers with wide bases used to expose wine to air. Gary decants not just reds but whites. For an alternative to this sometimes time-consuming and often expensive process, consider one of the newer wine aerators, such as this pocket-sized option from Vinturi with instant clean-up:

5. Test wines at various temperatures and don’t drink whites too cold.

I have been told that most people drink red wines too warm and white wines too cold. Gary drinks his whites at room temperature, as he believes that the colder the liquid, the less you taste. I store whites at 55 degrees and allow them to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving. For reds, I often stick them in the refrigerator for 15 minutes before serving. Experiment with different temperatures to gauge how it affects your taste and personal preferences.

6. When in doubt, go for the varietals (grapes) or regions that are out of style.

Before the movie Sideways, merlot was popular and thus overplanted to meet demand. This resulted in a ton of me-too merlot, which flooded the market with bad wine, making selection harder for the consumer. Pinot Noir is now en vogue and the current fashion, producing the same problem. Consider wine from up-and-coming regions like Canada and Portugal, or my personal favorites, Chile and Argentina. It’s quite hard to go wrong with Malbec and Tempranillo from the Mendoza and Jujuy regions of the latter.

7. Your palate is the ultimate critic.

Would you stop eating one of your favorite foods because someone else disliked it? Of course not. Wine is no different. Ultimately, the question is: do I like this? The arbiters of taste at Wine Spectator might think their palettes refined and worship-worthy, but it’s as ridiculous as a writer at Rolling Stone insisting that you should stop eating spaghetti because they give it a 74 out of 100. One of my favorite white wines costs less than $5 per bottle, and there is no shame in it. Drink what you like and enjoy it unapologetically. It’s the epicurean pleasure, not the price, that makes wine worth the time.

Daniel Burka playing Vanna White with one of my two favorites from this trip: Forth vineyard’s after-dinner Sauvignon Blanc 2006.

My second pick from the latest Sonoma trip: Rochiolo’s 1997 Estate-Grown Chardonnay

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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66 Replies to “Anti-Snob Wine Appreciation: 7 Tips from Sonoma”

  1. Tim – What’s your opinion/experience with bottle storage? Upright vs. on its side?


    If it’s a normal cork, I vote on the side or upside down. You want to keep the cork wet so it doesn’t let air in, at least that’s my understanding.

    Hope that helps 🙂


  2. I knew someone that came in my watering hole for her Ruinite all of the time. She wasn’t a drunk, but she loved that cheap red stuff. I used to scoff at her, but then I realized….she’s getting more pleasure than I am out of less expensive wine…and therefore I’m the wrong one.

  3. I love this post and thank you for turning me on to GaryVeeeeeee, although he is very over the top, Gary Vaynerchuk makes wine tasting even more fun and sniffy! It’s always fun when you go to a winery with a bunch of friends who look young and look like ya’ll are just there for the freebies. Once my friends and I went tasting at a local NJ winery and blew them away when we bought them out of their seasons Spanish Passion and Sangiovese. I am not sure if the grapes are more superb in Cali but it’s true once you find a wine that gets you, like you get it, its a perfect match. Interesting info on nasal irrigation nothing says yummy vino like saline LOL Maybe that’s why I like spicy foods so much! I can’t taste anything because my nose is stuffed up.

    Anti-Wine Snob Brigade. The revolution is on!



  4. I always keep telling myself I need to take one of those wine tours in Niagara… maybe this will be the summer to actually do it =)

  5. Being a supertaster isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I can’t drink beer at all and I don’t care for a lot of the wines that friends like a lot; so far I’ve found all of one that I actually like. Sure, I could pick out all kinds of flavors from them, but what’s the good if none of them are actually, well, tasty? So I end up with a fruity alcopop every time and I don’t feel all that sophisticated at all. 🙂 I don’t enjoy coffee, either, unless it’s laden with milk (and chocolate and hazelnut syrup, mm). I wish there was some way to turn it off!

  6. To get the true understanding of red wines.. Go to the barrel tastings. Because then all of the senses are enhanced as they are raw.. stronger. And then when they bottle it in a few months (or year), buy a bottle of the same zin you tasted. Then you’ll have a flood of flavors taking you back to standing in the barrel room with a fire crackling, probably raining, and the emotions of the day.

  7. Hey Tim,

    I am a fan of white wines to the disgust of many of my friends and co-workers. Albeit, I am just a noob when it comes to wines. I am just beginning my journey into the wine-world, for years I have immersed myself in the fine tastes of liquor, but now, as my tastes grow and evolve I am starting to like wines. I thought that I should begin with whites as they are a bit sweeter and not too bitter, as my wine loving parents have told me. Also, being from Canada there is no shortage of ice wines in our house. But back on subject, I like whites for their sweet simplistic nature, which also pairs beautifully with the food in my diet which consists mainly of veggies, chicken breast and fish.

    If you’re feeling up to it, have a apperitif glass of Niagara ice wine VQA with dark chocolate (taking a hint from your past post about your trip to the “Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory”).


  8. Nice writeup, Tim. Especially pertinant for me now as I am starting to drink wine and learn to enjoy it. I have given up beer 6 days of the week, my old alcoholic staple of coice, as I’m testing out a diet inspired by yours. Cheers.

  9. I saw you in Scoble’s Quik video from that weekend – looked like it was a blast. If you don’t have your aerator with you, you can decant any wine by pouring it back and forth between two glasses before pouring. Same effect. Am totally interested in trying the wines from the weekend, and am disappointed I can’t get Pelee Island in Vancouver – I’ve tried. 🙁 We promote BC wines, but i really really like the whites from Ont, especially the Pelee island ones. lovely. if you ever make it to vancouver, be sure to look me up. We’ve got some fantastic wineries less than an hour away and we can continue the conversation we started leaving the BBQ. 🙂


  10. Tim

    You will have to make your way down to Australia for a mini-retirement. We have a bunch of great wine regions and a variety of sensational wines. And we aren’t too snobby about who drinks what. Shiraz from McLaren Vale in SA, Semillion from Hunter Valley, Riesling from Clare Valley SA, Cabernet from Margaret River WA. Then there is arguably the best red in the world…Grange Hermitage Shiraz from SA.

    Come on down and enjoy.

  11. Holy Cow Tim!

    My best friend has a website called Anti Wine Snob and when I saw the title of your blog post on my Google Reader, I thought maybe you had written something about it! Her site is fairly new and trying to generate traffic, so my heart skipped a beat for a second.

    Alas, no link or mention of her site 🙁

    The article you wrote sounds very much like the sort of stuff she writes and you should check her site out some time. You sound a bit like kindred spirits (no pun intended) when it comes to wine.

    If you’re feeling particularly philanthropic and want to help a really cool person out you could even make a little mention of it on your site. You have such a huge following (myself included) that I know it would send some much needed traffic her way.

    Anyway, thanks for all the great advice on “Lifestyle Design.” I’m slowly trying to incorporate some of this stuff into my own life!



  12. p.s., I know you don’t want us putting URL’s in the comment box, so I didn’t put the URL to Jesse’s site in my comments. You can google the name however (anti wine snob), and it should come up at the top.

    Or, if you really, really want to be bored out of your skull, you can visit my site (full of my pontifications about health care).

    I’ve got a link to her site in my sidebar.



  13. Tim,

    I am beginning to find with your blog posts that I am getting a bit of information overload. What you’ve got to say is damn important and it’s great stuff, but it’s hard to think about the ideas in your book when all of these blog posts are competing for my attention.

    I know there is a huge demand out there for what you write about, but I think it would be more beneficial for people if you did a post say once every two to three weeks.

    That way your being congruent with your low information diet and the quality of what your saying has more impact.

    Just a thought


  14. Great post, I believe point number 7 to be the crucial factor in enjoyment, far to many people get caught up in whats fashionable, or worse, price.

    Kudos to you and Gary for bringing wine back down to earth.

  15. Heh, I hate wine. It just tastes sour to me. On the other hand, I love black coffee and el cheapo vodka, so I guess I just don’t have taste buds 😉

    Tim, what is your opinion on transhumanism in general and longevity in particular? We will be putting up an interview with Aubrey de Grey shortly, stay tuned for that (yes, it will be in English, not Swedish like the rest of the site).

    Oh, and another question, have thought about learning the Danish language? Forstår du lidt af sproget? 😉


    Hi Ravenwood,

    To be honest, I’m not that familiar with transhumanism. Danish, on the other hand, I’d love to learn. However, it might be hard to practice considering nearly all of you seem to speak English well 🙂


  16. You want to see the most hilarious wine blog on the planet? Google the name Deacon Dr. Fresh. The writing is hilarious. The whole mentality is that wine is not just for some snob. Absolutely great for a huge laugh.

  17. Hi Tim,

    Since you will be in the UK next week, try picking up these BBC DVDs

    Quite funny to see the odd couple “wine ponce and no-nonsense petrol-head” on a road trip Sideways’ style.

    And, since you like your chocolate … this chocolate is quite “hype” at the moment after a TV series on Channel 4 about how it was produced.

    Hmm, being Belgian it’s difficult for me to be promoting UK chocolate 😉



  18. One of the ways I particularly like to get most of the taste of wine is to:

    1) breath in

    2) take a slip

    3) exhale through your nose slowly

    4) swallow

    And then you’ll feel that all the taste from the wine will come up in your nose and you will be able to identify a few things like the fruits flavors, spices, etc.


  19. Cool post. I had no idea that 25% of the population are considered supertasters. I am totally putting blue dye in my mouth later today.

    Because I was close to someone in the industry last year, I had an opportunity to attend all kinds of tastings — wine, tequila, scotch and more. It was a blast and I learned a lot.

    As an amateurish enthusiast, I will share my preferences and hope it inspires people to try something they haven’t tried before.


    I’ve never met a Zinfandel I didn’t like. I’m not great with remembering names, but know that Liar’s Dice by Murphy-Goode is reasonable (about $20) and highly enjoyable. Last Thanksgiving, I had a dessert Zin (fortified, I think) which was unexpected and awesome.

    Second to Zin in my book are Rhone varietals, which are typically blends. I find them easy to drink yet sufficiently complex.


    Personally, I do not like citrus-inspired Chardonnays. Peachy and buttery are more my taste, but knowing which is which before ordering is dicey. Instead, I typically stick with the sweeter German and Austrian whites – Riesling, Gewurtztriminer, Auslace, etc. They make me smile. And, I’m glad that Norman referenced Icewine above – I love the stuff (and “late harvest” wines, too). Cheers!

    Rat tail, huh? I’ll be darned. The little details you share…

  20. Totally agree about going for the varietals/regions that are out of style – great tip! Another good tip for when in doubt – is to turn the bottle around and look to see who brought it in (works with imports only obviously). The importer is your editor in this case. So get to know them – find a few you like – then go ahead and trust them.

    Dare (a wine importer – of course 😉

  21. Bravo, Tim! Wine has been in the hands of snobs for far too long.

    For anyone interested in learning to taste properly or develop their palette, I suggest going to your local wine bar for a tasting night. In most places these are laid back, educational affairs. Make friends with the sommelier and be honest about your likes and dislikes. He or she can point you in the direction of good wines and reasonable prices that will meet your criteria.

    Tip generously and you may have a friend for life.

  22. Great tip about using the elbow to swirl wine before tasting…should definitely decrease the stains on a white silk blouse that I always seemed to be wearing! ;o)

  23. Great suggestions here, Tim. My wife and I have become oenophiles (not experts – just wine-lovers!) living in Oregon. We are literally surrounded by some of the best wines in the world here in the Willamette Valley. Even the cheapo wines around here are awesome. Occasionally I’ll compare it to a euro-wine from France, Spain, or Italy, and I like our local stuff much better. Faves: O’Reilly’s, King Estate (world-class pinot gris).

    I definitely agree with the guy above who mentioned tasting straight from the barrel. The wine tour is the best way to experience the wine, great food (key to really appreciating it), and wine culture. Come visit the Northwest – you won’t be disappointed!

  24. Hey Tim,

    We Europeans are a bit hurt by the ‘up-and-coming Portugal’ 😉

    But a good post nonetheless.



    Hi Filip,

    No offense intended. Just that most of us non-cultured Americans are only now discovering Portuguese wine 🙂


  25. I wasn’t a wine drinker until I moved to the Finger Lakes area (upstate NY). There are a ton of great wineries here, and very accessible – just go for a drive around one of the lakes and stop wherever you see a winery sign.

    It’s a great way to learn about the wines, especially when you try similar varietals from different vineyards or, over time, from different years. The wineries around me charge $1-2 (or often free) for a half dozen tastes, and are happy to answer questions.

    My poll answer is that I drink a lot of whites, because I love exploring the local wines, and this area has great whites – especially rieslings.

  26. Hey man,

    As something of a wine lover, if you want to assemble a list of questions from readers, and then I’ll answer them for you, that’d be cool.

    Shalom aleichem,


  27. I agree with Gordon, can we go back to the book and more success tips for budding entrepreneurs?

    Not that the info your providing is not interesting or informative but its kinda distracting. 🙂

  28. A bit off the topic, I just want to announce that I was laid off from my job today. After 10 dedicated years busting my arse, the company i busted that very same arse for decided that they no longer need my services. As they were explaining the severance package to me (which was actually quite generous) I was beaming inside. The timing is perfect as i have been struggling with finding the time to develop my muses and to design my lifestyle. I plan to never return to the corporate grind again. Tim, your NR club has a new member! Thanks for the inspiration.

    btw..I am just finishing ‘The E-myth Revisited’ and it is fantastic. I highly recommend it to everyone thinking of starting their own business.

  29. This article is both informative and necessary for wine tasting. I grew up in the valley (the town of Sonoma) and currently reside there. I would suggest going to the Wine Shop on the Plaza in Sonoma ( ) for a down to earth wine tasting experience. Their selection is unlike other wineshops because they have hard to find wine as well as wines from small family wineries. Tasting is inexpensive at $5 per 5 tastes and you are also able to do cheese tasting as well (another $5). The staff is both friendly and a joy to be around. They know a lot about wine and love to share their knowledge. It’s a pleasure tasting and shopping there. As a person in my early 20s, I find this place to be approachable, non-pretentious and a good representation of how wine should be enjoyed!

  30. I hate red wine and I have tried to develop a taste for it but unsuccessfully. White wine, specially Chilean wines are great! I also enjoy a good glass of whisky once in a while.

  31. Hey Tim,

    Have you tried “herding cats” merlot/ pinotage from South Africa? You’ll find it in most grocery stores & under $10 (sorry, not under $5 – but worth a splurge! 🙂 Lili

  32. hi Tim, any chance of you adding your new found celebrity status to our new online venture. it should it appeal to you in particular as it concerns a language learning service, online.

  33. Fun fact about that “up-and-coming” region you mentioned — for much of our country’s history, something like 80% (guessing) of our wine came from Portugal: Madeira.

    For great out-of-vogue wines, and one of the best wine educations you can get, check out Bonny Doon. I learned more in my first visit to their Santa Cruz winery (okay, that and a few weeks of trying their wines) than in my first several visits to Napa and Sonoma combined. Plus, you have to love a winery whose website contains hidden links to Albert Hofmann’s.

    Oh, and I’ll second, third, and fourth your advice about over-chilled whites. The fridge is great for making a mediocre white palatable for a party; otherwise something much closer to room temperature is the way to go. Incidentally, I think the reason super-chilled whites are so popular is the tendency for California chardonnays to be oaked to the gills with 100% malolactic fermentation–all butter and sugar, in other words, which can get overwhelming.

    Come to think of it (sorry for rambling)–easily the most under-the-radar grape from the Napa/Sonoma area is Sauvignon Blanc. It’s a cinch to find a $10-$15 bottle that will draw more ‘ooh’s and ‘aah’s than virtually any chardonnay under, say, $40 (or whatever Grgich is selling for these days).

  34. Big, big thanks, Tim!!

    What absolute fun it was to meet you on Saturday…we loved every minute….

    thanks, too, for the photo and mention of the Late Harvest SB!

    really nice of you!

    …the sheep are still giggling amongst themselves and wondering when everyone will be back…


    Thanks, Jann! We all had a wonderful time, and you absolutely must share your braised lamb recipe. It was AMAZING 😉


  35. Tim:

    I emailed the Mexican fisherman story to my brother in law in LA because I found it fascinating. His respomse threw me a bit though: he said, “Yes but I’m glad when I’m 80 I won’t HAVE to fish to get by.” Then I began to question your whole concept: What happens when you do become old, or disabled, or weak and tired and can’t do it anymore. If you haven’t followed the traditional path and saved for retirement what do you do then?


    Hi Ed,

    The two aren’t mutually exclusive, so you can still generate serious revenue and save, but you don’t sacrifice your life to do it. I’ll have a post on investing coming up soon, but rest assured that our Mexican fisherman will have family and friends to help care for him when he’s older, even after he stops fishing at 70 or 80.

    Hope that helps,


  36. Midwesterner here: I am about to go on a “Cava” tour (Spanish bubbly) in the Codornui Cellars outside Barcelona. Fro two days I’ve had Spanish wines and have been very pleased. Before that, I indulged in 6 days of French wines in Paris brasseries and restaurants, with only good reports. I remember so far every meal has included wine or cava/champagne, in red and whites (25% of the time). Before that, I sampled English pints at London pubs.

    I’m now more interested in the imminent barrel tour given what I’ve learned. Two other important notes: with web 2.0 on the way, there’s soon to be an opportunity to make your own wine from the comfort of your own computer. I’m not an owner or investor or anything, but when I found an outfit in San Francisco named Crushpad and mentioned it to a wine lover, he went ga ga. A week later he had his own business plan for making his own Cab, label and all. Second, I suspect we’ll see Portugese popularity continue to grow; here in Spain the word is that the best coffee in the world is Portugese, why not the wine?

    Thanks for the learning.

  37. Where I went with the advice…I used a small whisk on my Sutter Home Merlot last night, $9 a magnum tasted like $30 a bottle…I simply whisked air into each glass, it was magic.

  38. Palate. Palate, palate, palate.

    A palette is what artists use to mix paints on.


    LOL… damn, you’re right. I’ll get that one fixed. Can someone please invent a “logic checker” to go with my spell-checker? 🙂


  39. Great wine, but I insist you must try the coffee in Nicaragua and the pico de gallo there. The food rocks!!!!

    Jose Castro-Frenzel

    ps Could not think of a good closing word, better less than more and it be dumb…LOL

  40. I thought some of you guys might be interested in this.

    My parents bought a set of these glasses. They saw them in one of the wine magazines. They have a notch cut in the rim so your nose gets farther into the bowl while you drink. I thought it was stupid but Tim is spot on with his #3 point.

    My parents had us do a side by side with some tasting glasses we had got them for their anniversary and there was a world of difference.

  41. I think it’s great that you emphasized how important smelling is to appreciating wine. I took a fantastic course with Kevin Zraly (author, teacher & former somelier at Windows on the World), who said “They should really call it wine smelling.” He even demonstrated that one nostril can work better than the other by having us close one nostril with our finger and smell, then switch.

  42. Hey man,

    As promised, here’s the post…

    I travelled two and a half hours last night to come to that event. Hence I turned up at 8.30. I left at just before 10 (as you know), and got back at 12.40.

    About 5 hours travelling for about an hour and a half of time there.

    Was it worth it? Absolutely!

    Firstly, an apology: I didn’t really come to meet you. Don’t get me wrong, hearing you speak and answer questions (even for only half an hour) was worth the cost alone. However, what I was more interested in was the other people who’d come.

    I didn’t manage to get around anyone (simply down to a lack of time), but those that I did meet all had one thing in common: whether they’d read the book, or just the blog, you’d made an impact in their lives. Some have left their jobs to go and do new things, some are changing the directions of their professional lives, some are embarking on entirely new lifestyles as a result of your teachings… The list goes on.

    So what I want to say, on behalf of all of them, and myself is this:

    Thank you.

    What you have done is incredible, but what you’re helping others do, by your example and through the book and blog is (to my mind at least) even more remarkable. You have, are, and will continue to change people’s lives, and that’s a great gift. You’re a truly inspiration person, and I’m honoured to have been able to hear you talk, and to have shaken your hand.

    Thank you for your time. It was invaluable.

    Shalom aleichem,



    Dear Pete,

    Thank you so very much for your kind words and for coming to the event last night. It was overwhelming for me (in a good way).

    I remember all the editors and publishers who turned down the book, all of the doubts I had as I was told what it would never become, that no one would embrace it, etc. To see that it has made the light of day and helped even a few people makes it all worth it. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

    Thanks to you and the other people who came out for making my trip to the UK one to remember!

    All the best,


  43. @Pete W

    Dear Pete,

    Thank you so very much for your kind words and for coming to the event last night. It was overwhelming for me (in a good way).

    I remember all the editors and publishers who turned down the book, all of the doubts I had as I was told what it would never become, that no one would embrace it, etc. To see that it has made the light of day and helped even a few people makes it all worth it. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

    Thanks to you and the other people who came out for making my trip to the UK one to remember!

    All the best,


  44. Hey Tim,

    Thought I’d join your UK fan club in tagging a comment onto this post. It was a pleasure to meet you the other night and I couldn’t agree more with Pete that you’re a real inspiration.

    Any chance you could remind me of the URL you mentioned for the guys that do web designs that you can review and comment on before you pay?

    Also just wanted to warn you that if you’re planning on taking that bottle of Sauternes to Denmark, UK airports are real Nazis about taking liquids through in hand-luggage and you wouldn’t want to have to give decent stuff up to some security guard! Turned out to be a wine-related comment after all 😉



    Hi James,

    I ended up getting the wine through, but that’s another story! Thanks for the kind words and for coming out. It was so much fun, and I have the bottle of wine with me in Copenhagen.

    The site you need is:

    Enjoy 🙂


  45. @James

    Hi James,

    I ended up getting the wine through, but that’s another story! Thanks for the kind words and for coming out. It was so much fun, and I have the bottle of wine with me in Copenhagen.

    The site you need is:

    Enjoy 🙂


  46. @Tim (@James)

    Another incredible resource you’ve given us! That’s why I absolutely LOVE your blog…not only for what I learn from you, but from your oh-so-generous subscribers.

    Keeps my muse going!!!!

  47. Good tips for the newbie…like me.

    I’m trying to learn to love wine, while still keeping my abs in check.

    I’ve got clients who love wine, yet can’t figure out why they have a fat belly sitting on their stomach and when I tell them to stop, just for a week, they tell me wine is good for them because of the antioxidants. and won’t. Some do take me up and realize that alcohol, in excess, will make you gain, and keep, fat…and lots of it.


  48. Wow, an article about wine. I enjoyed it very much. I’m a Cork Dork myself. My wife and I frequent a wine bar in Phoenix that is very much anti-snob. I think we scare away the snobs. We really enjoy the wines from Paso Robles CA. We went there last summer and will be going again this year as well.


  49. It took me awhile to get into wine because I was turned-off by the high level of pretension and snootiness that seemed to be part of any discussion on the subject. Then, a few years back, a guy I was dating gave me a copy of the book: “Love by the Glass: Tasting Notes from a Marriage” written by John Brecher and Dottie Gaiter, wine columnists for the WSJ.

    Their enthusiasm for wine (and one another) comes through in their writing and is completely infectious. Neither one started out with any particular background in wine. They were just curious and wanted to learn. One key underlying theme in their writing is that people should experiment, approach wine with an attitude of fun, and learn to trust their own opinions.

    I’ve gone on to do just that and am now quite passionate on the subject of wines. (To the point that I think I just transported as many boxes of wine as books to my new place in Portland.)

    Wine is definitely one of the finer pleasures of life… right up there with really good chocolate. 🙂

  50. For all ye women out there…. or those who love them!

    I just received this from one of France’s wine experts, a lovely woman who writes for the Revue des Vins de France (the most respected industry review in the country). Thought I’d share…

    Which are the perfect wines for women?

    Sauternes, obviously. I’d go for Château Climens, produced by a woman (Bérénice Lurton) in the Sauternes-Barsac appelation. The Sauternes from Barsac are said to show more minerality than regular Sauternes and Climens is said to be the only sauternes wine able to compete with Yquem (in terms of finesse (excuse my French!), elegance and aging potential).

    Then Champagne, naturally. Carol Duval-Leroy produces a “Femme” cuvée that is quite famous. Or you have the “Amour” cuvée by Deutz. But to push the caricature even further, I’d go for a Champagne rosé. Obviously not the one from Krug (look at the price, it’s scary!!) which is already the flagship of the gay community in Miami… But that’s the thing : quite a few women wines are also gay wines! So probably the Brut Rosé from Bollinger. It’s brand new, just been created and released in the UK. Bollinger is James Bond’s Champagne so I guess the marketing people at Bolly wanted the James Bond girls to have their own as well. Or is it for the gay James Bond inside Sean Connery ? Or does is mean Ruppert Everett is going to be the next James Bond ??? hihi… Yes I’m having a lot of fun!

    And what to pick for the third wine? Just plain rosé is popular, in the sweet and cheap New World version they call “blush” or a “real” European dry rosé, which they call gastronomic rosé nowadays… But the latter might be complex and require some (wine) education, so that can’t agree with women (simplistic and wrong ? no ! marketing-oriented and performance-based ! I hate marketing people!). Or port and sherry… or for that matter, all the sweet fortified grand’ma wines. But that’s another marketing caricature. You also have Chardonnay : Bridget Jones’ Chardonnay. The movie is said to have had a very positive impact on Chardonnay sales in the UK. SO let’s look back, we have selected women wines that have charactéristics related to women : they’re either sweet, simple or sparkling… How about a women wine that echoes to the characteristics of a man that women would fall in love with? The wine would have to be reliable, strong but not rough, fresh but not too thin, not too strong (in alcohol)… Well it echoes with how Angelo Gaja describes hte grape of his wines, Nebbiolo, as opposed to Cabernet Sauvignon, the international star : he says Nebbiolo is a Marcello Mastrojani character (with style and a mischievous grin), while Cabernet Sauvignon is John Wayne : broad, strong, unmistakable. Gaja says “You expect John Wayne to make love to you every saturday night at 9PM sharp for a precise 30 minutes. With Marcello, you never know how, when and where. Once you know that, you pick the character that suits you best”. I kinda like the idea… So I’d definetely go for a Nebbiolo wine, possibily from Gaja, if I have the money!

    by Anne Serres


    This article claims some of the health benefits of grapefruit. I have heard it revered a lot and I find it enjoyable to eat. The cutting in half and eating it as in a bowl is enjoyable :).

    I also find it gives me a little kick in the morning when I need it.

    Do you think there are any real drawbacks to eating it? Probably 3-5x per week with breakfast?

  52. I have to disagree with the coffee thing. I make wine for a living, and I love black coffee. I would never put cream or sugar in there to dilute all the wonderful aromas and mouthfeel of a good espresso. Coffee tasting and wine tasting both involve using the same elements.

  53. Although the convenience of email cannot be denied, the act of receiving and reading a snailmail letter is by far the better experience. So kudos to you!

    I understand that the letters are not personalized, but are they physically signed by the sender? That would be such a wonderful touch and one particular for which I’d gladly pay more. Perhaps the sender could sign a small percentage, so that a randomly chosen few each week would have got a little extra thrill. That possibility would absolutely make my heart race a bit faster as I tore open the envelope!

  54. Good starting article for newbies, thank you for sharing Tim. The wine world is fraught with an incredible amount of bs and snobbery.

    More tips from someone in the trade (aka a ‘smellier’)

    1. Organic wine delivers way more bang for the buck. Even the cheaper stuff will get you more flavor precision and acidity than conventional. I, for one, think it’s also part of stewardship duty as a wine lover and citizen of the earth. Conventional Viticulture is incredibly destructive and dependant on outside inputs like fertilizers, pesticides etc etc.

    I am also pretty convinced that it gives you less hangovers. . . However I’m no doctor, though I play one in occasion.

    Do decant these wines, for whatever reason I find they take more time to open up than conventional — and they will hold together better too against time.

    2. Local wine. A wine should tell a story of a place. Whenever possible drink what the locals do. The local food and wine often evolved together, for good reason. If you go to Italy and drink Cali chards you sir, or madam, are failing.

    3. Full bodied reds are not the end of the rainbow. Neither is super oaky wines. There are a lot of other styles that work magic with food, if you give them a chance. (Related to point 6)

    The Italians are great at that, they understand that wine is not just for show, but to be enjoyed with meals. Try a schiava, a gropello, a frappatto. Inexpensive and very interesting wines.

    4. Fun regions to watch, catch then while they are cheap:

    Prince Edward Country, Canada. (Superlative Pinot, Riesling, chard)

    Mexico (yep, Queretaro and even Coahuila)

    Nova Scotia, Canada (stunning, unreal sparkling wines)

    Anything Italy not the classics. Thousands of grape varietals to try.

    Georgian wines. Not USA, the older one.

    5. Challenge yourself. It’s great to understand what you like, but if you really wanna learn you’ll have to drink things you may not have tried before, and challenge your palate with flavours you may not understand. Broccoli is an acquired taste, but grown ups eat it. So is rappini. As Marcus Aurelius would say, it would be sad to see someone drinking Cali chard for a lifetime and never experience any other. There are literally thousands of varietals in the world, you could drink a different one for YEARS and never try the same wine twice. Something to think about, isn’t it?

    Anyway, I enjoy your work Tim. If you ever need a wino, I’m game for demystifying things.

  55. Tim,

    If you’ve never tried it I recommend win tasting in Carmel Valley. Highly underrated and the wine is fantastic. Specifically, check out Folktale, it had some of my favorite red’s and white’s comparable to Napa and Sonoma!! (As an FYI I did live in the area for 2 and a half years so I am biased because it was more affordable to wine taste there).

  56. I discovered the Vinturi about two years ago and it’s got to the point where I can’t drink a glass of wine without it. I’ve even been to a couple of restaurants that Vinturi your wine for you.

    [Moderator: link removed.]