Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category

New for 2013: a scaled-back schedule for the (not so) Young (anymore) Winos of LA

Friday, February 8th, 2013

Some of our regular meeting attendees are surely wondering why we haven’t yet held a weeknight tasting in this new annum of ours, and I apologize for not being more prompt with my communication regarding this matter. The reason for our lull is this: after much careful thought, deliberation, and protracted discussions with our longest-tenured members, I’ve decided that transitioning away from a regular schedule of weeknight meetings is the appropriate course for our organization.

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An update on how to ensure you receive Young Winos meeting announcements

Monday, November 19th, 2012

Like a living organism responding to an endemic, primal urge to change and evolve, no matter how annoying that might be for everybody else, Facebook has once again changed the settings which regulate the way you receive notifications about Young Winos meetings.  Forget the instructions we gave you earlier this year; there’s a new set of settings to change and boxes to check.  Fortunately, Jason has laid it all out for us:

First, make sure you have Notifications for Young Winos of LA turned on. If you navigate to the Young Winos of LA group on Facebook, you will find this in the Notifications menu near the top.

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The Rhone Rangers are bringing their Rhône-style California wines to you! (Well, to downtown, anyway.)

Friday, May 25th, 2012

rhone-rangers.jpgNext Sunday, Los Angeles will once again be invaded by those unpredictable mavericks of the California wine scene, the Rhône Rangers. Since the 1980s, Rhône varietals and blends have become popular alternatives to the Cabs and Merlots that used to dominate the local shelves, and the Rangers — the group of winemakers who’ve been active in growing and promoting varietals such as Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre — have been leading that charge.

The event takes place on Sunday, June 3rd, from 3:30pm to 6:00pm at Vibiana (214 S. Main Street, downtown). Over 200 wines will be poured, including examples from Young Winos favorites such as Tercero, Frick, Qupé, Tablas Creek, J. Lohr, and Vines on the Marycrest. If you need further motivation to spend your afternoon tasting vibrant whites, spicy rosés and robust reds, check out our review of the 2008 event which includes write-ups of excellent wines from some of our favorite Paso Robles and Santa Barbara wineries, such as Eberle, Ventana, Curtis, and Epiphany.

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Cougar Town’s portrayal of indifferent, cavalier drinking is sullying the reputations of winos everywhere

Friday, February 3rd, 2012

I can’t help but suspect that any overlap which exists between the readership of this blog and the viewing audience of the ABC comedy Cougar Town is probably on the smaller side (and not just because the readership of this blog is on the smaller side, which is putting it politely). As I understand it, Cougar Town is billed a show about a 40-something divorcée with a predilection for dating younger men. However, as the hilarious compilation video below clearly demonstrates, it’s really a show about a 40-something divorcée with an unbridled and fanatical thirst for fermented grape juice.

The broader social trend ostensibly being depicted in Cougar Town — namely, Americans’ increased consumption of wine, particularly in casual and unpretentious settings — is one that tends to receive applause from nearly every corner of the wine world. Certainly, any presentation of wine as an accessible commodity to be enjoyed by all is a welcome departure from that hackneyed depiction of wine as the sole purview of the elitist, antagonistic wine snob whose arcane knowledge of vintages and varietals merely fuels his own superiority complex. The emerging wine culture portrayed in Cougar Town, however, seems to represent the opposite extreme, and I find myself worried that wine’s well-deserved reputation for complexity and intricacy is being lost in this nascent wave of empowered suburbanite bacchanalia. Wine is delicious, yes, and it’s good for getting you drunk, of course — but those two virtues must always be complimented by a healthy dose of context and understanding for all of wine’s enjoyment potential to truly be realized.

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How to make sure you get Young Winos of LA announcements

Sunday, January 22nd, 2012

Since transitioning our communications to Facebook, we’ve been made aware that several LA chapter members are having trouble receiving the weekly e-mails.  We don’t want anything to interfere with your ability to get your drink on, so we’ve prepared some instructions to ensure that you receive all of our urgent dispatches.

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Slate lets somebody else write about wine; mayhem results

Friday, November 4th, 2011

A few days ago, a Young Winos member posted a Slate article on the LA chapter’s new Facebook group (which any LA-based Wino who wishes I would e-mail him or her more often would be well-advised to join).  The article, entitled “Drink Cheap Wine,” purports to illuminate the numerous reasons why drinking inexpensive wine is as good as, or perhaps even preferable to, shelling out serious green for serious white and/or red.  While the Young Winos have always been ardent proponents of seeking out bargain bottles, we’re more than a little skeptical of the logic by which the author arrives at his ostensibly sensible thesis, and we’d advise our readers to calm their nerves with a humongous glass of something alcoholic before diving into this one.

With regular Slate wine columnist Mike Steinberger presumably still rocking a nasty hangover from his indulgent survey of super-sweet German Rieslings last month, the “cheap wine” op-ed was penned by Slate contributor Brian Palmer, who’s lent his everyman voice to numerous topics (recent articles bearing his byline include “Can You Be Scared Enough To Pee Your Pants?” and “I Just Want an Escort — are there any who aren’t prostitutes?”).  Palmer attacks the sacred cows of the wine world with iconoclastic gusto, insisting that wine critics are about as useful as Latin instructors and no more relevant, that a wine’s price is no indicator of its quality, and that a wine’s quality is tantamount to its drinkability.  The Winos love a healthy dose of iconoclasm, and we love the idea that wine should be cheap.  What we don’t love, though, is faux-populist, simplistic and misleading tirades against the basic truisms of this delicious vice of ours.  (Might want to top off that humongous glass before proceeding.)

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The Winos’ Tasting Series: the Mendoza lineup

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

The perdiz (Spanish for “partridge”) is a medium-sized bird, larger than its cousin the quail, but smaller than its cousin the pheasant.  It’s a native resident of Argentina, and it lends its name to a winery in Mendoza called Las Perdices, whose labels depict a small flock of the stately fowl.  The good people at Vines of Mendoza were kind enough to send the Young Winos a handful of bottles from Las Perdices to taste and evaluate.

We met on an oddly chilly summer night in Jason’s backyard.  The orange glow from the adjacent parking garage did little to warm our spirits, but the full-bodied, unctuous wines toward the end of the lineup stepped in quite nicely.  Of the five wines, we found the most to enjoy in the following three…

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The Young Winos are B-roll binge drinkers!

Sunday, July 3rd, 2011

The Winos made our network news debut in 2008, when we were the subject of a feature story called “Not Your Father’s Wine Club” (click here to watch). Apparently, clips from that story made their way into the NBC b-roll library, as we’ve started appearing, in passing, in all manner of alcohol-related news stories.

Thanks to Allison for noticing us on The Today Show! (Those who don’t care about the agonizing decisions facing parents today can skip straight to the brief Young Winos clips at 1:46 and 2:42.)

Three years older, yet no less newsworthy

Saturday, March 12th, 2011

It’s been three years since the Young Winos first appeared in the national media; in March of 2008, we were featured in an eponymous LA Times piece that helped alert the wine world to the fact that young people don’t just want to get drunk — they want to get drunk thoughtfully and deliberately. Since then, the Winos have made an appearance or two in numerous other media outlets. Here are some of our more memorable spots…

The Los Angeles Times (March 12, 2008)
“Young Winos: The Millennial Generation is a thirsty one”
Click here to read

The Tom Leykis Show (April 8th, 2008)
“The Young Winos of LA”
Click here to listen

NBC Nightly News Online (July 22, 2008)
“Not Your Father’s Wine Club”
Click here to watch

The Tasting Room with Tom Leykis (September 5, 2008)
“The Young Winos”
Click here to listen

The Mutineer Magazine Blog (November 26, 2008)
“The Young Winos of L.A.”
Click here to read

Mutineer Magazine (August/September 2009)
“The Happening: Special Report”
Click here to subscribe

“Marketplace” from American Public Media (September 30, 2009)
“Campaign gives a toast to Sherry”
Click here to listen

More to come….

The Young Winos of LA: edutoxicating Los Angeles since 2005

Wines for a SoCal autumn

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

The weather may not change much, but we can still drink like it does.

autumn_blog2.jpgAh, autumn: that magnificent season when the air becomes sharp and brisk, the rising sun shines down on a shimmery dusting of frost, and the mighty trees change colors and seem to paint the landscape with their own majestic patchwork of orange, yellow and red.

…in the rest of the country, at least.  Here in southern California, the transition to autumn is a bit less colorful.  As the temperature descends from inferno-esque to merely hot, maybe one out of every four or five trees begrudgingly acknowledges the seasonal shift and dumps a pile of ugly brown leaves on the sidewalk.  A new TV season begins, the oceans once again become frigid and unwelcoming, and the LA Phil abandons the Hollywood Bowl and heads back to Downtown for the rest of the year, which makes it once again possible to traverse the two miles from Studio City to Hollywood in less than an hour.

Changes in the season typically demand changes in our culinary choices, especially with regard to what wines we’re drinking.  In places with real temperature shifts, the vinous transition to autumn is particularly drastic, as wine drinkers begin to eschew the light-hearted whites of the summer in favor of the big, brawny reds that pair well with cooler weather.  Here in LA, a place where time-honored traditions like ice skating and snowball fights exist only in movies, it’s easy to feel like we’re being left out of all the seasonal fun.  But just because we don’t have a real autumn in LA doesn’t mean we can’t drink like we do!  Here are some tips for getting the most out of your fall boozing experience:

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The best kind of raffle is the kind where you win really expensive wine

Saturday, July 10th, 2010

The LA Winos just spent a delightful evening putting back some tasty Aussie wine with real-life Aussie Kate Fuller, a representative of the Barossa-based Rob Gibson Wine Company.  From the Frontignac/Sémillon/Riesling blend to the spicy Bordeaux-style red to the multiple bottles of Shiraz, every wine she poured was trés delish.  But there was one bottle that Kate didn’t let us drink.  That’s because it’s still up for grabs!

Click here to enter the raffle for a magnum bottle (1.5 liters) of the 2004 Rob Gibson Wines “Australian Old Vine Collection” Shiraz from Eden Valley!  Although we didn’t get to taste this monster, the two bottles of Shiraz we did taste were really impressive, and this one is supposed to be the best of the bunch!  The bottle is valued at $250, and will be shipped directly to the winner (must be a US-based Wino to enter).  Best of all, it’s totally free to enter the raffle!

rob_in_the_grass.jpgWhat’s the catch?  This catch is this: in order to enter, you need to provide your e-mail address, and in doing so, you agree to be included on the Rob Gibson Wine Company’s mailing list.  That’s it!  If you can handle getting the occasional e-mail from Rob here, then you’re good to go.  (Please note: you may only enter one e-mail address per Wino.  For verification purposes, it must be the e-mail address you used to sign up for youngwinos.com.  Whichever address the e-mail about the raffle came to is the one that you need to enter on the form.)

The drawing will be on Sunday, July 18th.  The winner will be notified by e-mail and will be announced on this website.  Any other questions, e-mail Jason at the LA chapter.  Click here to enter.  Good luck!

No longer satisfied with merely drinking wine, the Winos are now selling it too!

Sunday, June 6th, 2010

For nearly half a decade, the Young Winos have been edutoxicating the discerning twenty-somethings of Los Angeles and beyond through our weekly meetings, boozy events, written reviews, and online videos.  Now, as we approach our five year anniversary, the Winos are pleased to introduce wine2wino, our first ever wine shipment club!

Every two months, we’ll be offering up a package of unique and delicious wines, which have been carefully selected by the illustrious trio of LA honchos: Jordan, Jason and Jesse.  Each package will include two extremely interesting wines and will cost $40, shipping included.  This isn’t a traditional “wine club” where you sign up once and keep receiving the shipments whether you want them or not.  In the Young Winos version, you never have any obligation to buy — you simply check out what’s being offered in that month’s package, and then decide if you want to order or not.  No hassles, no obligations, no surprise shipments.

For our first package ever, we’re celebrating the impending arrival of summer with two dynamic French bottles that pair perfectly with sunny days, warm evenings, and decadent outdoor drinking. Included in this $40 package are two impressive bottles: the most refreshing rosé we’ve had in a while, and a medium-bodied red tasting of earth, dried fruit, and class.  (Click here to be taken to the secure wine2wino order page!)

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The Winos’ Tasting Series: the unending fight for good wine, featuring Guerrilla Zin and Cafe du Vin

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

The LA Winos recently gathered at Erik’s place to taste a few new samples: three bottles of Zinfandel, followed by some wine-infused coffee.  ”The unending fight for good wine” was written by Julie, with photos by Erik.

Wine Guerilla claims to make wines “worth fighting for” and encourages drinkers to “join the insurrection”. Well, Saturday night’s alright for fighting, but it was Friday and the Young Winos of LA decided to call a truce, sit comfortably and drink copiously.

We had three bottles of 2007 Zinfandel (by reputation, California’s native grape, but I wouldn’t want to get into a pissing contest with a Croatian over that one). Wine Guerilla sources grapes from multiple vineyards, so our plan of attack was to move from the broadest to most specific area of harvest, beginning with a Sonoma County, moving on to a Dry Creek Valley, and finishing with a Forchini Vineyards harvest.

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The “Booze Basket” returns — and wants to be won by you!

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

Last year, blind-tasting legend Andrew “Milwaukee’s Best” Lang was the victor in the 2009 Young Winos March Madness blind-tasting championships — and, as such, became the proud owner of the 2009 Booze Basket.  Like other impressive trophies of note (i.e. the Stanley Cup, or the “Employee of the Month” Mug at the Reseda Dollar-Mart), the famous cork-emblazoned Booze Basket gets returned to the governing body every year to be refurbished and issued to the new champion.

This year’s Booze Basket is once again filled with delicious and diverse bottles from the Winos’ personal list of favorites.  The lineup includes:

1) 2007 Lucas & Lewellen “Goodchild Vineyard” Chardonnay (Santa Barbara County)
2) 2005 Tolosa Winery Pinot Noir (Edna Valley)
3) 2007 Municipal Winemakers “Bright Red” (Santa Barbara County)

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The Winos’ Tasting Series: despite dire forecasts, love is in the air for Fresh & Easy

Saturday, February 13th, 2010

Late last year, newbie grocery chain Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Markets sent us a couple bottles of wine from their Christmas lineup.  We were impressed with both of them, and the Ogio Prosecco made a repeat appearance at our bubbly tasting later that month, where it was a big hit.  The chain, however, has endured some tough economic times since opening in 2007, and two recent reports (here and here) predict that the times don’t look to be un-toughening any time soon.  (In addition, the store continues to be protested by the UFCW for its non-union policy.)  Nevertheless, it would seem that Fresh & Easy hasn’t given up on getting their name out there, if the recent arrival of a free package of goodies is any indication.

Valentine’s Day is nigh, and Fresh & Easy assured us that the wine (and chocolates) that they’d sent us would make for inspired Valentine’s Day selections.  Never one to recoil from the challenge of putting corporate claims to the test, I asked the Wino roommates to help me imbibe.

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My Pinot Days, when I was green in vintage…

Saturday, January 30th, 2010

The Winos were invited to cover the first annual “Pinot Days” of Southern California in Santa Monica earlier this month, and longtime members Jason Meltzer and Jordan Marks were on the beat.  I would’ve gone too, but it’s always really awkward being the only one in the group whose initials aren’t “JM.”  (I used to have a fake ID that said my name was “Joe Mama,” but it got confiscated by a dubious bouncer in Hermosa a few months ago).

“My Pinot Days” was written by Jason, with photos by Jordan.

A rainy January 17 did not stop throngs of wine lovers from showing up at the first annual Pinot Days event in Los Angeles. If you closed your eyes inside the gigantic hangar at the Santa Monica Airport, you might have imagined yourself on the banks of a mighty river or near a gushing waterfall — so loud was the noise from over a thousand attendees.

Who knew Pinot was so popular? Lisa and Steve Rigisich, that’s who! This dynamic duo first launched the Pinot Days event in San Francisco six years ago and has since expanded it to Chicago and Los Angeles. Why do they do it? For the love of Pinot, says Lisa. “It’s art” — and the winemakers are artisans, not corporate big-wigs producing tens of thousands of cases. She appreciates the care and passion put into the wines, and, at least since Sideways, the masses agree. Just look around this place! It’s swarming! Good thing, because over 75 producers from Oregon to Santa Barbara were there with more than 400 distinct wines to try. How much time did we have for this?

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Fizzy, fermented, and topped with a crown: taking a peek below sparkling wine’s iconoclastic new closure

Monday, January 11th, 2010

Over the years, the Young Winos have reliably held forward-thinking stances on a number of contentious issues, including, among others, the ongoing shift away from corks and towards artificial closures. In particular, we’ve applauded the Stelvin screwcap for its comparatively lower rate of spoilage, even as it’s been derided by winemakers we’ve met on account of environmental or tradition-based concerns (as well as by wine snobs we’ve met on account of pretention-based concerns).  But while the cyllandrical still wine cork may be losing popularity, the Champagne cork always seemed a bit more immutable.  No one would ever seal a bottle of bubbly with anything but the classic mushroom-shaped cork and wire ensemble, would they?  After all, besides being quelle traditionelle, the corks are incredibly fun to pop open, no matter which method you employ to do it (click here to watch a video of us testing out three of them).

You can imagine our surprise, then, when we received a sample bottle of the 2007 Municipal Winemakers “Fizz” Sparkling Shiraz (Santa Barbara County) and discovered that it had been sealed with a crown cap — the type found on your favorite long-neck bottle of brew.  While screwcaps may be taking the wine world by storm, the crown cap still has quite a bit of catching up to do.  In a recent article in Wines & Vines, Domaine Chandon PR director Sue Furdek explained the crown cap’s image problem: “Consumers love and want the ‘pop’ when they open bubbly,” she said. “There’s only modest acceptance of alternatives to cork in still wine, and even less with sparkling.”

As has been well-documented in various media, the Winos will open any closure as long as it allows us access to the wine within, so we had no compunction about grabbing the bottle opener and procuring ourselves some fizzy red goodness.  In the interest of satisfying our journalistic curiosity, however, we decided to contact winemaker Dave Potter to learn why he bucked tradition and bound his bubbles below a bottlecap.  What follows is a journey into the mad mind of the Municipal Winemaker.

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Rest assured that you’ll never find a “plug” on this blog, unless it’s a shameless one

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

A few months ago, the Winos found color photos of themselves in various stages of intoxication splattered across the pages of a nationally-distributed publication.  However, what was even more impressive than the time one of our celeb-studded wine brawls wound up in US Weekly was the time that the Winos were featured in Mutineer Magazine!  (See what I did there?  The old irony-laden bait-and-switch.  Like when you offer your friend a glass of Romanée-Conti, and he thinks he’s getting a Romanée-Conti AOC, but then you actually pour him a La Tâche.  Ooooh, burn!)

sidebar_cover.jpgThe January/February issue of Mutineer features a four-page article called “Rebel Spirit,” penned by yours truly, in which an unassuming wine writer from southern California travels to New York State’s first whiskey distillery to operate since Prohibition and investigates the bizarre and unpredictable world of micro-distilling.  The Mutineer website describes the piece as follows: “veteran scribe Jesse Porter goes Gonzo in this piece that explores the exploding craft spirits scene in the United States, featuring Finger Lakes Distilling, Tuthilltown Spirits, Philadelphia Distilling, and Dry Fly Distilling.”  That’s right, I’m a “veteran scribe” named “Jesse Porter” and I “went gonzo.”  C’mon, who doesn’t want to read that?

picture-1.pngIf you’re among those who didn’t answer “me” to the preceding rhetorical question, then I’d siggest you do one of the following two things: 1) download a fairly low-res PDF version by clicking here, or 2) the vastly better option, rush down to your local magazine retailer and purchase a copy of your own!  Mutineer Magazine can be found on the shelves of numerous retailers large and small, including such formidable names as Barnes, Noble, Borders, Vons and Safeway (a full list can be found here).  Or, for the price of three single issues, you could instead subscribe for a year — six issues delivered to your doorstep for $14.95.

The Winos’ Tasting Series: a “fresh” prosecco and an (easy?) cab franc

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market is a new chain of specialty grocery stores on the West Coast of the United States.  You may have heard their DIY-style radio ads, in which real customers provide testimonials about their shopping experience, ostensibly saving the store some advertising dollars.  In theory, at least, these dollars are then passed back to the consumer in the form of savings.  If it smells a little too trickle-down populist to be true, then you’re sharing the skepticism we felt upon first hearing the ads — and again upon receiving a package of samples in the mail.  When was the last time a major grocery store chain did the Young Winos a favor?

Traditionally, the Winos have enjoyed a love/hate relationship with the world of chain supermarket wine sales.  Although we acknowledge the chains’ inevitable superiority in the roughly $8-and-under category — a category which, by any estimation, includes some remarkable value wines and excellent daily drinkers — we continue to wave the banner of the small neighborhood wine shop, where your extra dollar or two buys you the advantage of personalized attention from a salesperson who knows your palate.  Also, broader proselytizing aside, we couldn’t help but notice that Fresh & Easy, a subsidiary of UK retail behemoth Tesco, already has gained plenty of local detractors: its non-union policy has drawn protests from the United Food & Commercial Workers, and several other sources have raised a list of environmental concerns.

As always, we’ll trust Young Winos near and far to make their own informed decisions regarding their wine purchasing habits.  What we will say without hesitation is that the people at Fresh & Easy sent us a couple of tasty wines.  I tasted them with the Wino roommates on a recent December night.

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The Winos’ Tasting Series: guessing games are always more fun with two bottles of tasty Cabernet

Monday, October 19th, 2009

Having definitively proven earlier this year that the Winos are experts at telling reserve wines from their non-reserve counterparts, we decided to take a stab at tasting back-to-back vintages of the same wine and trying to guess which was which.  Theoretically, this should be a pretty intuitive process: whichever one tastes more “settled in” is the older of the two, right?  In the case of red wines, for example, the younger, less settled bottles may have harsher tannins, sharper acid, and more rambunctious fruitiness.  However, these traits can also easily be influenced by climactic factors, so a blind tasting of back-to-back vintages isn’t always the exercise in obviousness that one might expect.

The good people at Wings Winery sent us two subsequent vintages of their celebrated Napa Cab, so I brought it along the night we drank all those Roussannes.  After downing three robust whites, however, would we have the keen perception necessary to tell the two vintages apart?  There was clearly only one way to find out: drink them at once, and ask questions later.

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Talkin’ smack about Sherry all over the airwaves

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

kryssdal34.jpgThe Young Winos were featured today on the nationally-syndicated radio program Marketplace (along with our good friend Tyler Colman of the Dr. Vino blog, whose book we reviewed last year). This is a big deal for me, I have to admit, because I’m a huge Kai Ryssdal fan.  The man speaks about complex financial information with such laid-back detachment that you almost think he’s talking about a frat party he’d attended the night before.  “The yield on the two-year T-note tanked today, falling to a measly 1.03 percent, and then we ran out of beer… but Cliff had a handle of Captain he’d ganked from Phi Delt, so it was alllll good, baby.”  What a badass that guy is.

The segment, which you can listen to by clicking here (or here, if you’d like to read the transcript), was all about Sherry — specifically, why young people aren’t drinking any of it.  According to this article, Sherry imports are down to 200,000 cases a year, 75 percent off their peak in the 1980s… which constitutes a huge Sherry Fail. The segment raised a really important issue: why aren’t young people drinking more Sherry?

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The Winos’ Tasting Series: the most Roussanne you’ve ever seen in one lineup

Monday, September 21st, 2009

I think of Roussanne as the “Ethan Coen” of wine varietals.  Just as you never really get to experience the celebrated filmmaker without his lanky brother Joel at his side, Roussanne also has a shadow of sorts: Marsanne, that other Rhone Valley grape that ends in “-anne,” is pretty regularly blended with Roussanne in France and elsewhere.  We cinema buffs are all left to wonder what a movie directed by just Ethan would look like (without all of the “fleshy richness” and “ripe pear” that Joel tends to impart to the films).  As for the wine fans… well, you get the metaphor, more or less.

California producers have proven much more willing to experiment with single-varietal Roussanne (and Marsanne as well) than have their French counterparts.  When the Winos recently received a selection of bottles from the good people at Lionhert Wines that included not just one but two Rousannes, we decided to throw in a bottle from the folks at Cult Vines, gather the troops at Sasha and Noah’s place, and call it a tasting.  Here’s our rundown of the night we spent finally getting to know Roussanne on its own terms.

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Talley and Tudor take center stage as the Winos keep it real

Monday, September 14th, 2009

Y’know those Miller High Life commercials where the delivery man walks into some high-falootin’ gathering or another and takes back all the beer, basically because the prevailing class dynamic isn’t plebeian enough?  That’s what I like to call “keeping it real.”  The Winos employ a similar technique whenever we’re asked by our friends to lend our presence and expertise to an event they’re throwing: we make sure that the assembled guests get the full Wino experience.  We don’t allow anyone to just drink the wine… we insist that they interact with the wine.  We keep it real.

Dylan’s friend Debbie recently asked if a couple Winos could come pour some wine and talk about the organization at her swanky partay, which was to be held at the Beverly Hills Country Club.  Andrew and I happily made the trip, as we figured this would be a great opportunity to shake some hill-dwellers out of their vinous complacency.  We brought along a pair of excellent Burgundy-styled bottles in order to ensure that the conversations we’d be forcing people to have would be stimulating ones.

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Wanton Winos: a day of multi-viced indulgence at LA Wine Fest ’09

Tuesday, September 8th, 2009

The annual LA Wine Fest is basically the “summer blockbuster” of beverage events.  It always arrives on a warm weekend in June or July; it knocks your socks off with its massive selection of wines, spirits, beers, and even cigars; and it leaves you feeling thoroughly satisfied and eager to experience next year’s sequel.  Will it win the coveted Oscar for Best Wine Selection?  No, probably not… that award typically goes to one of the smaller “art-house” festivals, the kind where the attendees cast mean-spirited glances your way if you get a little too vocal in your enjoyment of the grape juice.  But the Wine Fest paces the field with regard to the overall festival experience — and, consequently, has become a perennial Winos favorite.

Brought to you by the same team that’s behind the upcoming LA Oktoberfest, the 2009 LA Wine Fest once again offered a dynamic and varied beverage experience to its emphatic attendees.  The Winos took advantage of a generous ticket discount extended our way by the organizers (they always come through where it counts) and made their presence felt at the dozens of booths the wrapped around the labyrinthine interior of Hollywood’s Raleigh Studios.  It’s hard to take judicious notes when you’re having so much fun, but what follows is my earnest effort to document the day’s drinking.

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Old World Meets Young Blood in the Rhône: a tour of Chateau de Montfaucon

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

Terroir, that love-it-or-hate-it concept roughly translated as “sense of place,” could’ve only come from France.  Nowhere are the wine traditions more deeply rooted in beliefs of which grapes can grow in which soil (beliefs which themselves are nowhere more highly regulated by law).  And then there’s all that blending stuff — certain grapes must be blended with certain other grapes in order for the wine to be labeled with a certain region’s name.   In this age of experimentation and vinous creativity, how is the enterprising young winemaker supposed to distinguish himself within such a rigidly-structured environment?

In the case of Rhône winemaker Rodolphe de Pins, the answer would seem to be “by getting back to his roots.”  The prodigious vintner at a centuries-old family estate, Rodolphe (or “Rudi” to his friends) creates vibrant and exciting wines in the classic French style, including a special proprietary blend of 15 varietals based on his great-great-grandfather’s original recipe from the 1820s.  At the same time, Rudi is a product of a modern winemaking tradition, having honed his craft in California and Australia, and brings New World sensibilities to his impressive lineup.  He was kind enough to accommodate my family and me on our recent trip through southern France.

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Anticipating the imminant demise of the internet, the Winos establish a presence in print

Saturday, August 1st, 2009

After the global technological apocalypse has run its course, the entire Young Winos online infrastructure — right down to the piece you’re reading now — will be gone forever, lost in a tangled heap of binary wreckage.  But do you know what will still be around?  Magazines, of course!  (…along with numerous other items that aren’t computer related.)  That’s why the Winos were so thrilled to be featured in the new issue of Mutineer Magazine, our absolute favorite alternative beverage publication.

issue_7_00.jpgAn expanded version of my coverage of the Mutineer National Launch Party is featured as a special report in the magazine’s August/September issue!  Several familiar Wino mugs grace the mag’s glossy pages, including pics of Max, Andrea, blurry Noah, and myself.  The subject of this month’s cover story is LA’s own ridiculously cool Edison; other awesome pieces include “The Cult Brewers of America” and “The Minimalist Drinker,” along with a list of ten wine blogs (besides ours, I believe they meant to imply) that you should be reading.

Mutineer can be found on the shelves of numerous retailers large and small, including such formidable names as Barnes, Noble, Borders, Vons and Safeway (a full list can be found here).  Or, for the price of three single issues, you could instead subscribe for a year — six issues delivered to your doorstep for $14.95.  It’s a worthy investment, Winos… show up at the right events, and you never know when your face might end up staring back at you from the pages of a magazine, while computers explode to the left and right.

Santa Barbara Futures ’09: drinking wine from the future in LA’s premier space-age hotel

Sunday, July 19th, 2009

Forty years ago, the three intrepid astronauts on board the Apollo 11 mission (allegedly) went to the moon. Upon their return, the were put into containment for a few days in order to kill the moon germs, after which they were quickly shuttled to an impressive reception at the era’s grandest and most futuristic hotel, the Century Plaza. It seems particularly appropriate, then, that when the ’09 Santa Barbara Futures event needed a location, the future-themed Century Plaza got the nod.

Last year, the Winos had to suffer the indignity of traveling all the way up to Santa Barbara for the futures event. This year, the event came to us, making its home in the enclosed courtyard in front of the Century Plaza. The hotel looked great, and it’s a bit shocking to think that the venerable structure is currently at the center of a struggle over its own existence. More on that towards the end of this piece; first, there’s some wine to talk about.

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The Elusive Gypsy: searching high and low for a filthy $5 bottle

Sunday, June 28th, 2009

Late last year, several members of the Young Winos of LA fell in love with a lady in a red kerchief.  A wine called “Gypsy” threw us into a tizzy for a period of a few weeks, a wine that offered flavors and complexity unheard of at its price point.  Finally, here was a true value wine, a remarkably underpriced cuvée, a sophisticated daily drinker for the slightly-impoverished crowd.  Just when we were ready to enter into some kind of vinous monogamy, however, she was gone — and, by all appearances, was never to return.


The Gypsy is a wine to buy by the case, but good luck finding one.

It was the $4.99 price tag as much as anything else that first led me to randomly grab the 2005 Chariot “Gypsy” Red Wine (California) off the shelf at Trader Joe’s last October, and it wasn’t any special occasion that prompted me to open it; Max and I were editing a video one night, and a cheap bottle of red seemed an appropriate sidearm.  First impressions weren’t tremendous, either… juicy, extracted, a bit hot, about what you’d expect from an anonymous California rouge.  A short while later, however, at some point in our second glass, we stopped mid-batch capture and did a double-take.  “Whoa,” came the mutual realization.  “This wine suddenly got really good.”  For five dollars, the wine was insanely good.  Too delicious to cost that little.  We should’ve known it would never last…

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The Azamor Online Tasting: the Winos do some drinkin’ on the information superhighway

Friday, June 19th, 2009

The Young Winos recently participated in a uniquely modern wine event that simply never would’ve been possible before the invention of the Internet in the early ’70s.  For the first time ever, Winos around the country opened the same bottle at the same time, then logged on to youngwinos.com and live-chatted their tasting notes.  It was like one of those high-tech conferences where executives all over the world are linked together in a “virtual board room,” except with a lot more drinking and a lot less globalization.

Present in the chat room last Saturday afternoon were three of our local chapters — Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York’s Capital Region — each represented by either one or two typists who recorded the verbal responses of their assembled compatriots.  Additionally, we were happy to be joined by importer Tempe Reichardt of Bibola.com, and winemaker Alison Luiz-Gomes, who came to us live from Portugal (at midnight, no less).  The wine in question was the 2004 Azamor Red Wine (Alentejano), which the LA chapter first sampled when Alison and Tempe visited us a few months ago.

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The Winos celebrate drinking culture at the Mutineer Magazine Launch Party

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

In a recent interview, Mutineer Magazine Editor Alan Kropf characterized his publication as one that reports on fine beverages in a cultural context (as opposed to the market-based focus of most other wine mags).  It’s a fair claim: the pages of Mutineer are indeed devoid of scores and rankings, concerning themselves instead with celebrating drinking culture through in-depth features that aim to inform rather than judge.  It was no surprise, then, that pretension took a back seat to good ol’ boozy mayhem at the Mutineer Magazine National Launch Party.

Held at the swank-happy Falcon Hollywood, the Mutineer party claimed around two-dozen Winos on its guest list, some arriving as event volunteers and others as paying guests.  Making good on Mutineer’s mandate of inclusivity, the party featured a diverse cross-section of fine beverages for our eager sampling: wine, beer, spirits, sake, and even soda all found a home in Falcon’s dimly-lit enclosure.  What follows is a digest of some of our favorite tipples from that evening, coupled with embarrassing photos of our members in action.

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Anyone can join us for Saturday’s online tasting!

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

This Saturday, we’ve got a Young Winos first — a nationwide tasting conducted completely online.  At 4pm Pacific (7pm Eastern), Winos near and far will be gathering in four local chapters across the country and opening up four bottles of the same wine, the 2004 Azamor Red from Alentejo, Portugal. As the intrepid Winos sniff and sip, they’ll type their responses, questions, and tasting notes in the chat room at youngwinos.com. Also joining the chat will be winemaker Alison Luiz-Gomes of Azamor, and importer Tempe Reichardt of Bibola.com, who can answer any questions the participants may have.

If Patch here can figure out how to use the chat room, then hopefully those San Francisco kids can do it too!  (Hahahaha…. oh boy.  No, but they’re really not very smart.)

The wine in question is a delicious one — we tasted it last month — so the whole experience should be really cool.  The problem, of course, is that it’s only one bottle.  That’s why the LA chapter has decided to follow-up the online tasting with a classic early-summer, late-afternoon, wine-potluck / barbecue / dinner party hybrid. Is there any other kind?

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Santa Barbara ’09: day two (Los Olivos excesses, and the inner workings of Fess Parker)

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

The party on Saturday night had been taxing on our collective sobriety, and swinging by State Street for last call probably didn’t bode well for our 9:30 wake-up call on Sunday morning.  But wake up we did, and it was with only a relatively excusable thirty minutes of tardiness that we arrived at Los Olivos.

The LA kids have been big fans of the Los Olivos tasting room scene ever since our initial trip to Santa Barbara back in ’06, and we were thrilled that several of the respectable Grand Street establishments had the audacity to invite the Winos in to sample their current lineups.  Our first stop was Tre Anelli, followed then by its sister winery Consilience, and lastly by Epiphany.

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Santa Barbara ’09: day one (the Ojai Valley and the Municipal Party)

Monday, May 18th, 2009

One criticism that has sometimes been levied at the LA Winos (most frequently from within our own ranks) is that we don’t get out of town nearly enough… a fair criticism if I’ve ever heard one.  So when illustrious Santa Barbara winemaker Dave Potter told us he was holding a release party for his ’08 vintage, we were on it like white on wine.  The trip also offered us the opportunity to arrange visits to a handful of wineries and tasting rooms that have been on our radar for a while, and it wasn’t long before the casual weekend in wine country soon ballooned into a boozy journey of epic proportions.

We didn’t have to be in Santa Barbara till 8pm, so we took an afternoon detour through the beautiful Ojai Valley, where we made two stops: Old Creek Ranch Winery, home to Mike Meagher and the Vino V label, followed by the Casa Barranca tasting room in downtown Ojai.

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The Winos’ tasting series: losing our inhibitions with Bibola.com and the wines of Azamor

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

Next time you find yourself in your local wine store, do a little experiment: ask where you can find the Portuguese section. Chances are, they’ll guide you over to a display rack full of Port, the fortified dessert wine of which any liquor or grocery store will usually have a healthy supply. If that’s what happens, explain very nicely that you’re looking for still Portuguese wine — white or red wines, not tawny ones. Your store may have a decent selection… or, just as likely, it may not.

The wines of Portugal represent a huge value these days, particularly because so many people haven’t realized yet that Portuguese wine is anything more than the Port that Pop-Pop likes to drink on Christmas Eve. That’s why the Young Winos were so excited to recently be visited by the winemaker of an excellent Portuguese label, who tasted us through her lineup on a recent Saturday in Los Angeles.
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Bottles, bottles, on the wall… which is the dustiest one of all?

Wednesday, April 8th, 2009

There’s something so very reassuring about finding a nice layer of dust on a bottle of wine you’ve had for a while. In one sense, it’s a testament to your moral turpitude: “in all the time I’ve owned this wine, I’ve never had a drunken binge so depraved that I’ve felt the need to open it.” A more fastidious person might suggest it’s also a testament to your lack of neatness, and then ask you why you don’t dust more often, but you can just tell them you don’t want to disturb the wine during its slumber.

Tonight I’m bringing a particularly dusty bottle to tonight’s Drink What You Have event: the 2001 Leal Vineyards Meritage (San Benito), which I believe I bought back in ’06 at a Vendome tasting. I remember enjoying it at the time, and I’ve been waiting for the perfect opportunity to open it — but as Alder Yarrow reminds us, there’s never really a better time than the present.


A little light goes a long way: my bottle of ’01 Meritage, with and without the harsh glare of my flash

I’m gonna do my best to not disturb the dust on the trip to Jessica’s. How often do you get to drink a dusty old bottle you’ve had for three years? People have to see this dust! Maybe even taste it.

Meet the Booze Basket. (And then WIN the Booze Basket!)

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

One day, Wino, this could all be yours….

(Tonight, actually, is when it could be yours.)

You’re looking at the 2009 Booze Basket — the fabulous grand prize to be awarded to the winner of this year’s March Madness blind tasting tournament.  With a total retail worth of $75, the basket is emblazoned with over 100 rare corks, and features three bottles which have been reviewed by the Winos over the past few months:

1) 2007 Lucas & Lewellen “Goodchild Vineyard” Chardonnay (Santa Barbara County)
2) 2005 Tolosa Winery Pinot Noir (Edna Valley)
3) 2007 Municipal Winemakers “Bright Red” (Santa Barbara County)

Click here, here or here for the respective reviews.

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The Winos’ Tasting Series — pregaming for Santa Barbara with a Lucas & Lewellen lineup

Monday, March 30th, 2009

The big trip up the 101 is less than a week away, and we LA lushes have all got Santa Barbara on the brain. So, when Friday evening beckoned several thirsty Winos to my abode, we thought it made sense to reach for a 4-pack of Santa Barbara bottles recently sent our way by the good people at Lucas & Lewellen.

Inspired by the exciting new capabilities at my disposal ever since I got myself a brand new 1GB memory card for my relic of a digital camera, I decided to take some home movies of the Winos in action… the results are embedded later in this post. Although the video quality may not be great, it’s the content of the discourse that counts — and, fortunately, this lineup gave us much to talk about.

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If at first you don’t succeed… swing the sword harder

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

In terms of wine-related theatrics, le saberage — opening a bottle of sparkling wine by using a sword — is only slightly less dangerous than grape stomping. But if there’s one thing the Young Winos don’t fear after already drinking a bottle of Prosecco and a bottle of Cava, it’s danger. In our fourth webisode for EgoTV, Chelsea and I demonstrate several ways of opening Champagne bottles, including the infamous saberage.

I was misled into thinking that a slight tap was all that was needed to shear off the top of a bottle, but you actually want to put some force behind it. (Also, avoid the Schloss Biebrich Sekt, or any other sparkling wine that uses an artificial closure, as they’re not as compatible with the ancient methods.)

The Winos get some love on the Sacre Blog

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

Sacre Bleu is a new brand of French wines, grown and produced in the Languedoc, and marketed in the US via glossy ad campaigns and strategic partnerships (fashion shows, music venues, etc.). FineWhineBlog is the latest weapon in founder Galen Struwe‘s millennial-oriented marketing blitzkrieg, and the Young Winos were pleased to merit inclusion in one of the early entries, authored by Struwe’s stepdaughter Ashley Lauren (read her other posts here). As of right now, the Winos piece is the fourth-most popular on the blog — trailing only such luminaries as Mutineer Magazine, Gary Vaynerchuk, and the SXSW conference.  Not too shabby, huh?

Ashley hits the Winos nail right on the head in calling us “a group of seriously curious and devout wine drinkers who frankly don’t give a shit that the name might have some negative connotations” (although she might rethink her claim that I’m an “intrepid businessman / oenophile” if she got a look at the Winos’ balance sheet).

sb-annemariefinalad.jpgOn the surface, the Winos’ M.O. might not seem to have a whole lot in common with that of Sacre Bleu: their message concerns itself largely with the “lifestyle” and other intangibles, while the Winos always attempt to keep our focus singularly on the juice (Galen and I actually had a something of a back-and-forth on this very subject in the comment section of a Katie Pizzuto post last October). Ashley manages to find some common ground, however, in pointing out that the Winos “care that [wine's] history is felt, and they want people coming to wine for the first time to have a sense that real life-affirming experiences are about to happen upon them and through them.” Far be it from us to deny that wine is as much a positive lifestyle influence as it is an intoxicating beverage; that’s one point to which Sacre Bleu and the Winos can certainly raise a glass in affirmation.

Now, if we could only get them to send us some bottles to review, we’d be in business!

Several more titillating wine ads below…

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Sparkling wine webisodes aren’t just for New Years

Thursday, March 12th, 2009

Towards the end of 2008, we shot our third Young Winos webisode for EgoTV, in which Chelsea and I try out some “Champagne alternative” sparkling wine for our budget-minded New Years theme. Due to a series of events far too tawdry to list on these pages, the episode has only now found its way to release. But what a release it was!

The three wines tasted were all winners — and, for the record, I managed to include the Schloss Biebrich in the prolific lineup of bubblers I downed on January first. (more…)

The Young Winos stop by for a quickie at the Santa Lucia Highlands shindig

Friday, February 13th, 2009

For whatever reason, the Winos seem to have a propensity for rolling up late to tasting events. Sometimes it’s because we’re still way too hung-over from the night before, while other times it’s because we know that if we actually get there at the beginning we’ll inevitably be way too hung-over the next day. On Monday afternoon, however, we were left wishing we would’ve arrived at the “Santa Lucia Highlands trade & press tasting” at a reasonable hour, as a number of probably-delicious bottles went untasted.

Undaunted by the ramifications of our fashionable lateness, we succeeded in tasting a good lineup of wines before eventually being shunted out (and even that failed to interfere with our journalistic pursuits, as depicted in the photo above). Organized by The Santa Lucia Highlands Wine Artisans and brought to us by Blue Lifestyle, the event was held at BLT Steak on Sunset and featured 27 wineries, 70 wines, and a solid contingency of winemakers to talk about them. Here are the bottles that the Winos managed to taste before (and, in several cases, after) the end of the event. (more…)

Punxsutawney Porter sees his mistake; morning will arrive early

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

Resident boozehog Punxsutawney Porter rolled over in his bed this morning at about 7:30 and saw the mistake he’d made the night before: deciding to finish that delicious bottle of Aglianico. According to old folklore, what this means is that his raging headache would not allow him to enjoy those crucial six extra hours of sleep that he so desperately wanted.

Despite its formidable ability to inspire regret, the 2006 Epicuro Aglianico (Beneventano, Italy) is a fantastic little number if used in moderation. With a bouquet of charcoal, earth and spice, and featuring a medium-bodied palate full of dark cherry and smokehouse notes, this bottle represents one of Trader Joe’s best values at $4.99. To listen to Jesse and Dylan taste the bottle live on only2degrees radio, click here (choose the 12/20/08 show, then hear us at the 54:00 mark).

Tolosa Winery helps us enjoy the good life at the May Bartus jewelry show

Friday, January 30th, 2009

In these times of economic strife, it can be difficult to spend one’s Saturday afternoon perusing luxury goods without being adequately liquored up. The Young Winos understand this, so when CJ asked Dylan and I to pour some vino for her friend’s jewelry show, we thought it would be the right thing to do.

The May Bartus Designs trunk show went down this past Saturday in the cozy lobby bar of the Maison 140 Hotel in Beverly Hills, and a healthy smattering of Winos showed up to enjoy the free wine and the not-quite-free jewelry. The good people at Tolosa Winery sent us some gratis bottles of their ’05 Edna Valley Pinot, which turned out to be a big hit. Tasting notes and additional photos after the jump. (more…)

Gawker jumps to some unfortunate conclusions

Friday, January 23rd, 2009

Back in April, after a long day spent drinking by the pool, several Winos gathered at Emily’s place to taste a couple bottles of Petite Sirah and eat some burgers. At one point, with my arm around Emily’s shoulders, I apparently decided to simultaneously tighten my hold, take a sip of wine, and flip off the camera (I do not remember doing any of these things, but the photographic evidence exists). Due to Emily’s pained expression, the resulting shot was not included in our original review (although it later made its way on to the internet in the context of a blog post about our new social network).

Today, however, it randomly reappeared — on Gawker, of all places, accompanying a completely unrelated story about some dating event in New York City.

For those who are blissfully unaware, Gawker is a Manhattan-based gossip rag focused on the media industry. I contacted the author of the post, who sheepishly admitted that he’d found the pic when he Googled the search “champagne wino” (figuring, for some reason, that a picture of a homeless guy drinking bubbly would be the perfect companion to his story about Wall Street financiers). Upon discovering the photo of Emily and I, however, he reckoned I looked douchy enough to be an annoying finance type — in this case, I sadly have to agree — and he decided to run with it. And that’s the beginning of the story of how I wound up on Gawker… the NSFW details continue below (we advise you to read before clicking through to the page in question).

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The Winos’ Tasting Series: doing our best to “reserve” judgment on some Zinfandel

Sunday, January 11th, 2009

“Reserved.” It’s a word we Winos see frequently — most often in the form of small white signs placed on tables when the wait staff sees us approaching and doesn’t want to deal with our shenanigans. Reserve, however, is a totally different form of the word, and one we encounter perhaps even more often. It seems like every other bottle likes to brag about how it’s some sort of “reserve” — private reserve, cellar reserve, limited reserve, etc.

Unregulated by law as it is in this country, the term “reserve” is often tossed around indiscriminately (along with phrases like “classic collection” or “vintner’s select”). Sometimes, though, it’s used in the way it was originally intended: to designate an upper-tier wine that, for some reason, is a cut above the regular issue. The Winos recently had a chance to taste the standard and the “reserve” versions of a Dry Creek Zinfandel side-by-side. To make it interesting, we tasted the wines blind, unencumbered by the whims of the labels. Would the superior breeding of the “reserve” shine through in the glass? (more…)

Some enthusiastic (if slightly uninformed) Champagne rec’s for your New Years needs

Tuesday, December 30th, 2008

New Years is the time of year when this Wino feels most useless.

Invariably, I’ll be asked by other Winos for a New Years Eve bubbly recommendation, and I often attempt to steer my fellow boozehounds away from the knee-jerk strategy of buying French, encouraging them instead to venture into Spain for some Cava, or to Germany for some Sekt. Or what about lightening things up Italian style with a Prosecco, or a nice Moscato d’Asti? If they’re dead set on France, then how about trying a crisp Crémant d’Alsace, or a rustic Crémant de Limoux?

More than once, however, I’ve encountered a staunch dedication to the idea of buying Champagne and Champagne only, and I’m often asked what my favorite one is. Therein lies the problem: I literally know next to nothing about Champagne. I just haven’t drank enough of the stuff to have any favorites.

As luck would have it, though, I recently found myself at a most auspicious Champagne tasting — the annual Tasting Panel Magazine affair hosted by Blue Lifestyle — where I gleefully sampled delicious bottles from top houses in both France and California, taking full advantage of the event’s very welcoming “serve-ur-self” orientation. Based on the twenty or so bottles I tried (within about 40 minutes… not too shabby, huh?), here are my Champagne recommendations for your New Years inebriatory needs. (more…)

A Young Winos webisode: the Winos make mulled wine

Wednesday, December 24th, 2008

We all know that whites are best served cold, light-bodied reds cool, and full-bodied reds at “room temperature” — but it’s a rare wine that’s best served steaming hot. Enter mulled wine, that delicious holiday libation championed by the British. Spicy and warm, it’s the perfect beverage for those cold winter months (and apparently it flows like water this time of year over on the other side of the pond).

In our second Young Winos episode for EgoTV, my co-host Chelsea Cannelland I attempt to make our own mulled wine… but will our efforts be enough to impress my skeptical English roommate? (more…)

The Winos’ Tasting Series: searching for faults in the malts of Shmaltz

Thursday, December 11th, 2008

The holidays are coming up, and you know what that means: lots of wine, most of which you won’t be expected to pay for! But between robust reds on your dinner table, bubbly on New Years, and all the bottles you’ll receive as gifts, is is possible that a Young Wino might get sick of wine during the holiday season? Truthfully, no, probably not… but prevention is the best cure, so in order to allay the slight possibility that you’ll go sober at any point over the next few weeks, we thought we’d hook you up with a beer review.

Despite their oenocentric moniker, the Winos are nothing if not versatile. If these troubled economic times have taught us anything, it’s that any brand wishing to remain sentient better diversify its portfolio. In this spirit of diversity, we recently welcomed to one of our meetings the western regional sales manager of the illustrious Shmaltz Brewing Company, who tasted us through some of his company’s intriguing brews. (more…)

Wine Books: the ideal gift for your favorite intellectual alkie

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008

The long holiday weekend is behind us, and I sure hope everybody enjoyed their Vendredi Noir! No, I’m not referring to the little-known varietal from eastern Quebec; I speak, of course, of “Black Friday,” the day after Thanksgiving, when Americans all across America rush to their local big-box retailers and complete their holiday shopping in an orderly and civilized fashion. But just in case you’re one of those stragglers who inexplicably didn’t manage to finish your present-buying before the onset of the advent, the Young Winos have the perfect gift idea for you: books!

In his 2004 article “Through a Glass Darkly,” The New Yorker’s Adam Gopnik spoke of the annoyingly esoteric nature of traditional wine literature. “The space between what the wine writers say and what the wine novice tastes is a standard subject of satire,” he wrote, expressing the same frustration channeled by LA Wino Noah Verleun when he famously declared that “burning tires” and “junkyard” are probably “not something you’d read in Wine Spectator” (despite being exactly the type of smells and tastes that Young Winos run into as they begin to learn about wine). The wine writing in the three books below, however, skips the “cassis and earthy undertones” in favor of openness, wit, and practicality. Here are the Winos’ picks for your holiday wine book purchasing needs. (more…)

The Winos get a little Egotistical about their first webisode

Thursday, November 20th, 2008

In a photo finish, the long-awaited debut of EgoTV’s “The Young Winos” web video series was beaten by a nose this morning by the arrival of Beaujolais Nouveau. But unlike your bottle of under-ripe, chapitalized gimmick-wine, the Young Winos video series is something you’re (hopefully) gonna want to return to for a second helping.

In the premiere episode, my co-host Chelsea Cannell and I head up to Valencia to go a little nuts at the Loose Goose Wine Festival. We taste a Chard or two and chat with festival-goers about the ugly menace that is age discrimination in the wine world. Sufficient “looseness” was achieved by the end of the day, so you may want the kids to put on their earmuffs for the last couple minutes. (more…)

The Winos’ Tasting Series: Municipal Winemakers Bright Red

Thursday, November 13th, 2008

A couple months ago, we welcomed Santa Barbara winemaker Dave Potter to one of our hedonistic gatherings, where he shared with us several bottles from his nascent Municipal Winemakers label. One of the Winos’ favorite Municipal wines was a barrel sample of the not-yet-released “Bright Red” Rhone blend.

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Well, after many months of waiting, le Rouge Lumineux est arrivé! Bright Red’s debut is finally upon us, and Dave was generous enough to send a few sample bottles to the LA members of the Municipal Winemakers Social Club. (more…)

The Winos’ Winemakers series: a handful of reds from Black Sheep Finds

Monday, November 10th, 2008

Even the most net-savvy Wino can occasionally be nonplussed by the converging realms of online wine sales and objective wine blogging. Is this a review, or a sales pitch? Where does the commentary end and the commerce begin? Does the Jets fan yelling at me from inside my computer want me to learn about wine, or just buy his wine?

Several of the hybrid sites, however, offer rewarding experiences, whether browsing, buying, or just learning — and the most LA-centric that we’ve discovered is Domaine547.com. Run by Angeleno Jill Bernheimer, the site boasts a friendly and informative blog, a lively forum, and a store stocked with eclectic and well-priced bottles. Best of all, Jill offers free shipping within Los Angeles!

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The only way Jill might’ve aspired to be more Wino-rific is if she convinced a couple of her winemakers to come in and talk to the group. It was in inspired fashion, then, that she recently introduced the Winos to winemakers Peter Hunken and Amy Christine of Black Sheep Finds, a small label specializing in unique and affordable wines from around the globe. (more…)

The Winos’ Tasting Series: doing one’s civic duty on some Napa bottles

Tuesday, November 4th, 2008

Want to know what’s even better than getting one of those little “I voted” stickers after you cast your ballot on election day? How about getting 25% off a delicious Napa Valley wine or two?

If you bring (or fax) your voting stub to Goosecross Cellars today or tomorrow, you’ll get 25% off any bottle in their lineup. The offer is good only on 11/4 and 11/5, and isn’t valid with any of their other offers or club discounts. The Winos received a couple of bottles not too long ago from the good people at Goosecross, and when Jordan showed up one night with a Pinot he’d snagged on a recent Napa trip, we threw some Winos together and made a night of it.

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Information on where to send your voting stub can be found at the bottom of this post… we know how you Winos adore discounts so. First, though, is the all-important wine review — essential reading for anyone who purports to be an informed “vitizen.” (Cute, right? I just made that up.) (more…)

The Young Winos’ eleventh-hour endorsements: No on 5, Yes on 8, Calero for President

Monday, November 3rd, 2008

Recently there have been complaints about certain political ads appearing in the sidebar of the Young Winos website. While the Young Winos have nothing to do with these ads, and do not necessarily agree with their content, we thought it might be helpful to clarify our stance on several pressing issues of the day. As the beer-vs-wine map below clearly shows, California is a wine state, and the Young Winos feel a certain responsibility to offer endorsements of candidates and ballot initiatives that will serve the interests of our membership. Below are our three endorsements for the 2008 general election.

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No on 5. This initiative would offer treatment for drug offenders, rather than prison time… a plan which looks positive on the surface. However, it would also make possession of less than an ounce of marijuana an infraction, rather than a misdemeanor — a move that would invariably encourage more small-time users (many of them young people) to smoke pot with increased impunity and frequency. This, in turn, would dilute our membership base, as more young people turned from white and red to sticky green. Vote no. (more…)

Come out to Skirball and drink like an Argentine

Tuesday, October 21st, 2008

copa1.jpgUntil recently, the Argentines were pretty prolific wine drinkers. A few decades ago, they ranked just behind the French, Italian and Portuguese in terms of wine consumption per capita (ahead of both Spain and Germany, and way ahead of the US). In recent years, those numbers have fallen… but, in what might be considered a brilliant tit-for-tat, their production has increased, particularly in the “quality” department. Today, Argentina makes some of the New World’s most renowned wines — and this coming week, you’ll have a great opportunity to taste a bunch of them.

Come join the Young Winos at the Skirball Cultural Center from 6-9pm on Tuesday, October 28th, for a “Wines of Argentina” event presented by Blue Lifestyle (the same group that put on the Rhone Rangers event we enjoyed so thoroughly this past June). Over twenty-five winemakers will be present pouring more than 200 of their finest bottles of Malbec, Torrontes, and every other tasty varietal that’s helped put Argentina on the world wine map.

Tickets are $40, but because the people at Blue Lifestyle are such Wino fans, they’re offering us a great discount: $30 at the door, and $25 if we buy ahead of time! All you have to do is call their ticket line (310-459-7570, extension 4) and ask for the Young Winos Special. Then you just put your drinking caps on and gear up for a memorable evening of South American deliciousness!

The Winos’ Tasting Series: revisiting the nascent négociant

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

The Winos remain rabid devotees to the pursuit and discovery of quality bottles at approachable price-points. That’s why we were pleased as punch to recently receive another case of wines from the good people at Cameron Hughes. On a recent Friday, several Winos wound their way up the precipitous slopes of the Santa Monica Mountains to indulge in the lineup at Erik’s legendary hideout in the hills.

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As we learned when we tasted a few of the eponymous producer’s offerings back in April, Cameron Hughes is helping to redefine the notion of a négociant (a French term referring to a wine broker/blender) for a new generation of savvy drinkers. Instead of concentrating on achieving quantity within one region, though, his company sources small lots of high-quality juice from top-tier producers around the globe and bottles them in anonymous packaging, save for a “lot number.” The other edge of the Cameron Hughes sword, however, is that when a certain “lot” of wine is gone, it’s gone — naturally, then, the Winos approached this particular evening’s drinking with a heightened sense of urgency. (more…)

A blind tasting with a delicious grand prize

Thursday, September 18th, 2008

Nothing revs the collective Young Winos engine like a good blind tasting. In the past, though, the “prize” has typically been a mention on the site and a week or so worth of bragging rights. That all changes on Wednesday, October 1st, when the Winos return to Vendome, Studio City, for a tasting co-presented by wine & dineLA in honor of California Wine Month (more info on the DineLA website).

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The blind tasting lineup will include nine anonymous wines — four whites, a rosé, and four reds — each with five multiple-choice options. Points will be tallied as the event progresses, and the Wino who guesses the most bottles correctly will win a dinner for two at Citrus at Social, valued at $200, donated by wine & dineLA!

The blind tasting costs $20 per person, and is open only to members of the Young Winos network. To purchase your tickets now, click here. Space is limited to 25 Winos, so act fast!

The Winos return to the airwaves on “The Tasting Room”

Friday, September 5th, 2008

Seeking once more to reach out to an audience in places where the internet hasn’t yet shaken radio’s stronghold on the dissemination of information and entertainment — cars, hospital waiting rooms, etc. — the Winos returned recently to the Paramount lot to record an episode of “The Tasting Room with Tom Leykis.”

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We talked about the Winos’ zeitgeist, our humble origins, and the place of the twenty-something consumer in today’s wacky world of wine. Oh… and we drank a lot. You can check out our tasting notes and additional photos after the jump, and you can download the podcast here (part 1, part 2). (more…)

The Winos’ Winemakers Series: getting back to basics with the Municipal Winemakers

Friday, August 29th, 2008

Sometimes it takes a Young Wino to truly reach the Young Winos.

By all accounts, most wine producers haven’t yet quite figured out what to do with the so-called Millennial Generation — that discriminating demographic of tech-savvy twenty-somethings (of which the Young Winos like to think of themselves as some kind of boozy vanguard). But Santa Barbara winemaker Dave Potter, the man behind the Municipal Winemakers label, doesn’t seem to suffer from this same marketing malady. Himself a child of the eighties, Dave has created a brand that eschews animal labels and Flash-heavy websites in favor of distinctiveness and authenticity — and, most importantly, makes wines that are both intriguing and delicious.

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“What’s cool about Millennials is that we’re not scared of wine,” Dave told me. “We’re not just dependent on brand loyalty. It’s all about exploration.” In that spirit, a group of Young Winos recently gathered in Sherman Oaks to welcome Dave and explore the flight of wines he’d brought with him. (more…)

The Winos’ Press Junket Series: Randall Miller on Bottle Shock

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

Jordan and I recently had the opportunity to interview the director Randall Miller about his new movie Bottle Shock, which the Winos are screening on Thursday night at the Landmark Theatres (discounted tickets are available until tomorrow — click here). The movie tells the story of the Napa winemakers whose entries shocked the wine world at the infamous “Judgement of Paris” in 1976. We spoke to Miller about his feelings towards wine, the process of recreating 1970′s Napa, and the challenges involved of making a wine movie appealing to young audiences.

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Miller with his wife and co-writer/producer, Jody Savin.

YW: This is the story of a wine event that took place a quarter-century ago, and that most Americans have never even heard of. Would this film have been possible five or ten years ago, or do you sense an increased enthusiasm for wine in popular culture that allows a film like this to be made?

RM: To some degree, yes, but the story is still what’s most important. My wife and I are independent producers, and we have a knack for putting indies together. We love great stories. When we heard the story, and when we went up to Chateau Montelena and talked to Bo Barrett, we just thought, “we have to make this.” (more…)

The Winos present a film screening and a wine tasting — on the same night!

Friday, August 22nd, 2008

In our first-ever foray into the turbulent world of “wine tasting/film screening” hybrids, the Young Winos of LA are proud to present Bottle Shock, 9:00 this Thursday evening, at the beautiful Landmark Theaters in West LA. The event will feature a wine tasting in the Landmark’s own wine bar, including a meet-and-greet with writer/director Randall Miller, followed by a screening of the film.

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Best of all, members of the Young Winos of LA receive a 20% discount off the event’s $25 price tag. The tasting and meet-and-greet start at 9pm, followed by the film at 10:15, and your Wino-discount $20 ticket price covers admission to the full flight of events — including a tasting of five wines specially picked by Jordan and Jesse for this evening (additional drinks and food may be purchased á la carte from the wine bar).

Click here to purchase your tickets! The discounted rate is only good until Wednesday night, so act fast. We look forward to seeing a bunch of you there.

The Winos’ Tasting Series — brother, can you spare a cabernet?

Friday, August 1st, 2008

Jordan and I apparently are suckers for Orin Swift bottles following a Vendome tasting. In an unintentional homage to our Papillon tasting of last spring, we recently stumbled out of the venerable Studio City vendor — where we’d just enjoyed a pleasant and affordable flight of varied Sauv Blancs — clutching a bottle of thoroughly unaffordable Cab Sauv from one of our favorite Napa producers.

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Always a fan of the distinctive packaging, owner/winemaker Dave Phinney has really outdone himself this time — he’s affixed an antique Winged Liberty Head (or “Mercury Head”) dime to each and every bottle. Apparently, if various nerdy websites are to be believed, the Mercury Head dime is one of the most admired US coin designs ever minted. But would this wine prove to be one of the Young Winos’ most admired Cabernets ever minted? (more…)

Putting the “fest” back in Wine Fest: a grand day out at Raleigh Studios

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

A skeptical young oenophobe might fairly ask why anyone would want to spend a beautiful Saturday afternoon at a wine tasting. This year’s recent LA Wine Fest offered a most convincing answer.

The Young Winos have visited a number of excellent wine events over the past few months, but none of them have featured quite the “festival” environment that the three-year-old Wine Fest managed to achieve on a sunny weekend in mid-July. Along with a generous number of wine producers pouring their latest vintages, the Winos encountered craft beer, fine spirits, food vendors, and wine-related merchandise a-plenty. An eager Young Wino could spend hours visiting the various booths — and quite a few of us did, thanks in no small part to a ticket discount extended our way by the organizers.

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“I’ve always thought that LA needed to have a consumer-oriented tasting event,” explained Joel Fisher, the President of the LA Wine Fest. “And this year was the biggest turnout we ever had.” The weekend festival offered two days of tasting; Sunday’s event proved the quieter of the two, drawing what Joel called an “older, more laid back” crowd. Saturday, though, was a packed house, boasting more thirsty young people than the Winos have hitherto encountered at any wine event. The hum of the crowd, audible even as we walked up the street towards the gates, bore in its pulsing drone the promise of a memorable afternoon at the studio. (more…)

The Winos make a successful jump to streaming web video

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008

After three conspicuous years of absence from the “streaming video” scene, the Young Winos hit the web right where it hurts — in the bandwidth — with the release of the soon-to-be-viral nugget below:

Credit for the production of our web-vid debut goes to NBC reporter Aarne Heikkila, who came and shot our Anderson Valley tasting on a Wednesday night at my place (as well as some footage of me shopping aggressively for my bottle at Vendome, Studio City). The clip, appearing under the heading “Not Your Father’s Wine Club,” is today’s most-viewed video at the NBC Nightly News website.

The Winos’ Tasting Series: bargain bottles from down south

Sunday, July 13th, 2008

Now that the wandering Winos are back from Hawaii, it’s time to get back into some serious tasting.  The auspicious arrival at my apartment of a handful of thirsty youngsters on a recent Friday evening prompted me to break out a few bottles sent our way by the good people at the Cellar Door.

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The Winos find nothing more thrilling than scouring the ranks of budget-priced bottles and attempting to unearth hidden gems.  This week’s lineup was a selection of wines from down south: Argentina, Australia, and Spain (southern part of Europe = south enough to fit into this makeshift theme). (more…)

Be more social — join the Young Winos’ social network

Thursday, July 10th, 2008

What’s wrong with the photo below? Here are three friends, enjoying some delicious wine together, yet clearly displaying blatantly antisocial behavior. They’re ignoring each other, looking towards the ground, each clearly lost in their own world.

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Perhaps they’d be acting more social if they’d signed up for the Young Winos’ social network! That’s right: for the first time ever, there’s a dedicated social site for Winos on the Web. It’s a network very similar in design to familiar sites like Facebook and Myspace, but is entirely devoted to Young Winos here in LA… and, before too long, Young Winos elsewhere in the country as well.

Log on and build yourself a profile! Within a few weeks, we’ll be transitioning to using the social network to send out all Wino-related e-mails, which means that in order to get the meeting notifications (and all the other awesome e-mails you love to receive from me when I’m drunk at 3am), you’re going to have to have a profile on the social network. Don’t worry, it’s extremely quick and easy to set one up. (more…)

I likes my wineres wacky and my carafes cuckoo

Sunday, July 6th, 2008

Sick of going to wine-tastings in vapid villas and boring old barns? Next time you’re in Rioja, stop by for a visit at Bodegas López de Heredia Viña Todonia:

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(More inspiring space-age winery architecture can be found here.)

Also, I don’t know about any of you, but I’ve just about had enough of being served wine in carafes that look like carafes. Can I get some deer antler carafes or something?

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Now we’re in business.  (More here, including a sweet video of the pour.)

Thanks to cyber-scouts Max and Erik for turning up these gems.

Max courts danger and orders wine by mail

Thursday, July 3rd, 2008

In terms of bang for your buck, we Winos (save maybe Jason the cynic) are all onboard the penny-farthing that is the Cycles Gladiator Syrah, a perennial workhorse that delivers respectable oomph at a price we like to swallow. So I applauded Max when he recently made a woot wine purchase and snagged four bottles of various Cycles varietals online. Nothing could prepare us for our shock, however, upon opening the package and discovering that all four wines looked like this:

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That’s right — all four corks were protruding halfway from the bottle. On one of them, the foil was broken but still dangling on, as though the cork had literally pushed its way out. In fact, we surmised that must’ve been exactly what happened… all four bottles were full, after all, and Woot wouldn’t last long if it were selling half-uncorked bottles on a regular basis.

Anyway, I told Max to return the bottles, which I figured would make for an interesting blog entry on the attentiveness of the people over at Woot to customer service issues. But apparently that was too much of a bother, because he had drank two of the bottles the next time I brought it up. He said they tasted a little off. Go figure.

More photos after the jump: (more…)

Hollywood takes a blind taste of wine history

Tuesday, June 17th, 2008

I think it’s fair to assume that, five or ten years ago, the true story of an unlikely result at an international wine-tasting competition in 1976 might not exactly have seemed likely fodder for a major motion picture. But apparently, in our post-Sideways world, all traces of enophobia are long gone:

Clearly, this is no crusty old documentary, no inaccessible highbrow fare. In what could reasonably be considered Hollywood’s version of bottles with animals on the label, they’ve adorned the boring old “true story” elements with plenty of sultry blondes, saucy barmaids, and stodgy old froggies. I wonder if the assembled crowd will start chanting “USA, USA!” when (spoiler alert!) the results are eventually announced? (more…)

Winos at a wedding, drinking wedding wine

Friday, June 13th, 2008

The Winos may have thought they lost resident “swillistine” Don Ferlazzo when he moved back to New York State in December. But they truly lost him on a recent Saturday in Albany, when he exchanged nuptial vows with the former Jamie McGrath and became Mr. Don Ferlazzo.

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Fortunately, the cameras were clicking that evening when Winos past and present indulged in blissfully unlimited quantities of wedding wine (and perhaps another spirit or twelve). Contained herein are the tasting notes from the first-ever entry in the Winos’ Wedding Series. (more…)

Wine Blogging Wednesdays #46: Rhone Whites

Wednesday, June 11th, 2008

It’s not a crime if you’re going to blog about it, right? Isn’t that some kind of law?

To be fair, it wasn’t even a crime to begin with. Last Wednesday, several of us found ourselves at the regrettable terminus of the delicious Rhone Rangers event in Hollywood, and we grappled with the realization that we hadn’t gotten a chance to taste a number of the wines we’d been so looking forward to. One winemaker — whose identity shall remain shrouded in mystery, as to add intrigue to this somewhat unimpressive crime story — suggested that we take all of his mostly-full bottles home with us, a suggestion we happily accepted. Moments later, as we witnessed the cleanup crew mindlessly throwing half-full bottles into the garbage without regard for their precious contents, we more or less expanded our winemaker’s offer into a blanket mandate to “save” as much wine as possible.

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So it was thus that we crept through the soundstages of Raleigh Studios, desperately clinging to our purloined cargo: an impressive eighteen-bottle bounty, four bottles of which were still unopened! The following Saturday, six Winos showed up at my door to enjoy the spoils of our desperate pillage — nay, “rescue mission” — of the leftover Rhone Rangers wine. (By that point, however, only thirteen bottles remained… admittedly, I’d gotten a bit thirsty in the meantime.)

Our actions were fully vindicated when — in what could only be interpreted as a sign from above — we learned that Dr. Debs had recently chosen white wines made from Rhone grapes as the theme for this month’s Wine Blogging Wednesday. Fortunately, we had one such unopened bottle to satisfy the requirements of the topic… and twelve additional bottles to satisfy our Saturday night vino cravings. (more…)

The Rhone Rangers ride at Raleigh

Saturday, June 7th, 2008

There’s something so very Hollywood about going to a wine tasting at an old movie studio. One can easily imagine all of the legendary drinking that’s taken place there in years past: actors and directors stealing out to their trailers to wet their whistles between takes… auteurs and ingenues escaping behind the set for a slug of prohibition-era moonshine. It’s fair to assume, though, that the Winos enjoyed some of the tastiest drinking ever experienced at Hollywood’s venerable Raleigh Studios when the Rhone Rangers set up camp there on Wednesday night.

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Over 40 wineries were represented at the event (many by the winemakers themselves, which is always a treat), each of them pouring the Rhône varietals and blends that allow them membership in the exclusive Rhone Rangers organization. Thanks to the admission discount extended our way by event co-sponsors Blue Lifestyle and The Tasting Panel Magazine, a contingency of eight Winos were on hand to experience all of the floral whites and spicy reds firsthand. (more…)

The Winos’ Tasting Series: friday night, four bottles, five bros

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2008

Call it the gift that keeps on giving.

Just like you never want Christmas to be over, the Winos like nothing less than reaching the inevitable end of a delicious wine event, like Thursday’s “Hot Picks” evening in Culver City. So when Tamarack Cellars’ assistant winemaker Danny Gordon slipped Andrew a couple of bottles on his way out, we rejoiced at the prospect of revisiting the night’s revelry in the near future.

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Friday night provided just such an opportunity, when five thirsty Winos assembled at the Sh’oaks, mildly belligerent and rarin’ to drink. Complimenting the two Tamarack wines were a couple of bottles sent to us by the good people at Donati Family Vineyard in San Benito County; with four bottles and five dudes present, we were all geared up to have ourselves a merry little tasting. (more…)

Drink some Rhone varietals with your favorite Rangers

Saturday, May 31st, 2008

rhone-rangers.jpgThis Wednesday, Hollywood will be invaded (for one night only) by those unpredictable mavericks of the California wine scene, the Rhone Rangers.  Since the 1980s, Rhone varietals and blends have become popular alternatives to the Cabs and Merlots that used to dominate the local shelves, and the Rangers — the group of winemakers who’ve been active in growing and promoting varietals such as Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre — have been leading that charge.

The event takes place on Wednesday, June 4th, from 6:30pm to 8:30pm at Raleigh Studios (5300 Melrose Ave, between Gower and Western — enter through Van Ness gate).  Over fifty wineries will be pouring, including some Young Winos favorites such as Blair Fox, Eberle, J. Lohr, Michael-David, Summerland, and Tablas Creek.  Parking is free when you book at the number below.

That’s not all — the Young Winos are also very pleased to be on the receiving end of a pair of great deals.  First of all, there’s a Young Winos ten-dollar single ticket discount, so you pay $50 instead of $60 just by mentioning the Young Winos name.  And the even better deal is this: if you come with a friend, you can get two tickets for the regular price of one ($60 for both).  That’s only $30 a piece, so long as you book two.  Simply call 310-459-7570 x4 and mention that you’re a Young Wino of LA.  See you there—

Covert in Culver: the winos infiltrate the Wine & Spirits “Hot Picks” event

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

The Young Winos turned out en masse last week to enjoy some delicious food and wine at the MODAA gallery in Culver City, where Wine & Spirits Magazine was hosting a great big shindig in recognition of the fact that young people really love their fermented grape juice. The “Hot Picks” event, which travels to Seattle next month, was an opportunity for the trendy young wine professionals and trendy nascent wine critics of Los Angeles to gather in one trendy location for some serious drinkin’ and networkin’.

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The event featured a litany of wines from Wine & Spirits’ recent “Critics’ Picks” list, as poured by industry pros and young soms from a number of LA’s most delicious eateries. In an impressive display of thirsty fervor, over twenty Young Winos permeated the event in various capacities: critical tasters, volunteer pourers, and paying guests. It was an event to whose reoccurrence next year we eagerly look forward, and one at which we were delighted to taste a number of excellent bottles. (more…)

The Winos’ Winemakers Series — a “sense of place” at Samuel’s Gorge

Monday, May 26th, 2008

We young drinkers love our Australian wine… the proletarian labels, the sourcing of quality grapes from different regions, the unconventional blending practices, the great values. It’s easy, though, for our demographic to fall into the habit of regarding Australia as little more than a sort of “good-wine factory”: a consistently warm continent producing anonymous batches of ever-ripe fruit, which are then blended by sandal-wearing negociants into delicious and dependable bottles. A recent visit by Justin McNamee, winemaker at Samuel’s Gorge in McLaren Vale, did much to dispel the majority of that oversimplification (with the exception of the sandal part).

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Samuel’s Gorge is a small label operating out of a 150-year-old barn on the southern end of the Onkaparinga River National Park, twenty miles south of Adelaide. Justin joined the Winos at Emily’s pad one recent evening and shared with us his unique approach to McLaren Vale winemaking, comprising an integration of New World inventiveness with Old World “sense of place.” Thankfully, he also shared with us several delicious bottles of wine. (more…)

Meet your favorite Wino

Tuesday, May 20th, 2008

Come out to the Wine & Spirits Magazine “Hot Picks” event in Culver City this Thursday and meet your favorite Wino! The three-hour taste-n-shmooze will feature over 70 wines from the magazine’s “Critics Picks” list, published yearly in the June issue. Guests at the event will include the young sommeliers from local bastions of gastronomy such as Comme Ca, Grace, and Katana (see the full list here). The event costs $75 — covered in the fee is full access to all the wines featured, as well as great food and wine from the various restaurants participating. In addition, you get a one-year subscription to Wine & Spirits Magazine with the price of admission!

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Who’s the more attractive group of up-and-coming wine talent, those Seattle coffee expatriates or the LA lushes? You be the judge.

The event is a benefit for water conservation (portions of the proceeds go to Surfrider), and the Winos have long embraced the organizers’ suggestion that we all endeavor to save water by drinking more wine. Buy your ticket for the event here and you’ll receive a $10 discount for being a friend of the Young Winos!

Come out and join us on Thursday night — you never know when you’ll next get the chance to see some unadulterated drunken Wino shmoozing. It’s a sight to behold.

The Winos’ Tasting Series: Francis Ford Coppola Presents

Thursday, May 15th, 2008

One of our favorite wine quotes comes from the 1972 classic The Godfather:

Don Vito: I like to drink wine more than I used to.
Michael: It’s good for you, pop.

It is indeed. But how does a Godfather quote relate to our tasting this week, you ask? Well, the line above was spoken by the actor Marlon Brando, who also appeared in the 1995 film Don Juan DeMarco, which was directed by Jeremy Leven, who wrote The Legend of Bagger Vance, which featured Matt Damon, who appeared in The Departed with Martin Sheen, who starred in Apocalypse Now — a movie which was directed by Francis Ford Coppola! That’s how.

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The Winos love tasting obscure wines from small labels, but another part of our mandate is to interact frequently with wines that are readily available in supermarkets and wine shops alike; after all, what use is a glowing review if you can’t find the wine? The good people at Coppola’s eponymous company recently sent us a few familiar-looking bottles, and we tore into them faster than Peggy Sue could get married. (more…)

The Winos’ Winemakers Series: distinctive drinkin’ with the Departure dudes

Monday, May 12th, 2008

One of the few things than can possibly improve a Friday evening spent enjoying some outstanding Santa Barbara wines at Leah’s place is when the winemakers themselves actually stop by to drink with you. In what felt like the Young Winos version of the Wonka Golden Ticket experience (albeit with fewer accidental deaths), we were recently joined by Tim Grubb and PJ Miele of Departure Wine Company, a four-year-old Santa Barbara label specializing in Rhone varietals.

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Tim and PJ brought with them not only seven excellent wines for us to explore, but also a wealth of insight and and rich observations on the winemaking process, challenges faced by a young label, and the journey of the grape from vine to glass. In what we hope will soon become a regular feature on this website, Departure set a lofty standard in the first-ever Young Winos’ Winemakers Tasting. (more…)

Wine Blogging Wednesdays #45: Old World Riesling

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008

Last month’s Wine Blogging Wednesday adventure was a freeballin’, full-sprint marathon tasting in which we polished off a bottle of French Cab Franc, took meticulous notes, snapped and uploaded copious amounts of photos, and resized and formatted those photos using my time-consuming system which Jessica insists is inefficient (but which I continue to swear by). Then we uploaded the whole mess onto the blog, all within an hour’s time, and made it to Newsha’s for the Green Wines tasting — harried and disheveled, but only about ten minutes late. It was a frantic and desperate endeavor, and I promised myself it would never be that way again.

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One month later, I’m in the familiar position of sitting on Jason’s floor, funneling our response to WBW #45 onto the blog, maniacally resizing photos, and frequently checking my watch. No time to stress out, though — the weekly meeting is imminent, and there’s a delicious bottle of Riesling to talk about before it begins. (more…)

The Winos’ Tasting Series: petite and patties

Tuesday, May 6th, 2008

After spending several arduous hours drinking by the pool, Emily was loathe to let the festivities end just because the sun was getting lower in the sky, so she invited the Winos over to her house and promised to grill up some huge burgers.  Andrew and I had the sense to take her up on her offer, as well as the foresight to go and grab two hefty bottles of Petite Sirah that had recently been sent our way by the good people at Aaron Jackson and Michael-David, respectively.

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Why pair Petite Sirah with hamburgers?  Well, when you’re dealing with a meal that’s delicious, but might not be considered haute cuisine, you want a wine that’s similar: mouth-watering, flavorful, and free of affectation.  Enter big-and-bold Petite Sirah, with its massive fruit, sinister spice, and serious backbone.  If there was any grape that was going to make our taste buds as horny as those burgers were going to, it was this one.  As responsible journalists, though, we thought it best to start by tasting each wine on its own, prior to the hot beef injection. (more…)

Blind Tasting Is Difficult: JM, JM and JM score big in Syrah vs. Cabernet trials

Monday, May 5th, 2008

Apparently, if your name is Joe Marcello, Jordan Marks, or Jason Meltzer, you’re really good at blind tasting. For those of us with other initials, it’s more of a challenge. And why shouldn’t it be? So much of the way that winos (especially young ones) learn to evaluate what’s inside the bottle is by first looking at the outside. This is true for most people, I’d assume; a lot of what we perceive in a smelling and tasting wine is dependent upon a set of expectations we form upon glancing at the label. Benny Hill clearly understood this, which made his job a whole lot easier:

So how do the Winos fare when faced with the prospect of tasting seven random bottles of Cab and Syrah without the benefit of any visual clues? Well, some better than others… (more…)

The Young Winos come in dead last

Saturday, May 3rd, 2008

blogo2.jpgThrough no fault of our own — blame it on the tyranny of alphabetical order if you need a scapegoat — the Young Winos have found themselves at the very end of an impressive list of wine blogs. The WineBlogger website has recently added the Winos to its 100+ database of wine weblogs from around the world. Thanks to Ryan Opaz for the add! Too bad we had to be at the bottom… you’d think there’d be a Zinfandel blog or something…

The last time the Winos found themselves in this type of exclusive company was following our first Wine Blogging Wednesday experiment. The people over at WineLibraryTV made a list of all 59 participants (mercifully, we found ourselves near the top of that one.)

Do Winos have favorite wine blogs? Utilize that comment section and let me know…

The Winos’ Tasting Series: poolside pink

Monday, April 28th, 2008

The Young Winos occasionally tire of doing their boozing exclusively under the shadow of night’s darkness like some coven of irresponsible vampires, so when a recent sunny day presented itself to us, we decided to adjourn to a nearby swimming pool for some indiscreet imbibing. And what better companion to a day spent soaking up the sun’s relentless rays than a bottle (or three) of fruity, refreshing rosé?

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We’re pleased to have recently received a number of sample bottles, among which arrived several rosés from various producers and importers. This past Sunday, seven of us packed a cooler full of ice, grabbed the three bottles (as well as a 30-rack of cheap beer for after the wine ran out), and headed for the nearest body of cool, chlorinated water. (more…)

The Winos’ Tasting Series: negotiating the nascent négociant

Saturday, April 26th, 2008

Cameron Hughes is a name fast becoming familiar to the savvy young wino. A producer who sources grapes from all the world, Hughes represents an innovative, enterprising take on the familiar French concept of the négociant. Rather than grabbing up batches of wine from all over a particular region and blending them together haphazardly, however, Hughes takes a more nuanced approach: as phrased in the winery’s press kit, his strategy is buying “super-premium surplus juice from other wineries and growers around the globe” and then “bottling this ‘silver bullet’ and branding it as one of our ‘Lots,’ thus preserving its extreme value.”

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Regions are listed on the label, but not vineyards; the sequential “lot” numbers on the bottles thus also preserve the anonymity of Hughes’ various sources, allowing those wineries to continue selling their wine at whatever price they desire without customers flocking to the less-expensive Cameron Hughes version. These “mystery source” wines have gained a reputation among discriminating, budget-minded boozehounds as offering the quality of top winemakers without the prohibitive sticker price. Previously available only at your local behemoth big-box retailer, Cameron Hughes wines are thankfully now sold direct on the website. The good people at his operation sent the Winos a few bottles to try out. (more…)

The Winos’ Tasting Series: bonus bottles from the Wine & Food Society dinner

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008

The only thing that can possibly improve a young wino’s experience at a high society dinner where he gets to taste some insane bottles is subsequently getting to take a bottle or two home with him. Such was the case on Monday evening, when I was invited by the Chairman of the Wine & Food Society of Southern California to join the organization at their final dinner of the season. Several members had read about the Winos in the LA Times and seemed intrigued by our signature pairing of vigorous study and edutoxication with the relentless pursuit of interesting, affordable bottles — a pursuit which I did my best to champion in between sips of ’01 J. Rochioli Pinot Noir and ’95 Chateau La Conseillante Pomerol.

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The food was tremendous, but I found myself almost too preoccupied exploring the wine to really appreciate the pairing to the degree that I should’ve. When I arrived back home with a couple of half-bottles that had been bequeathed to me as a parting gift, the roommates’ ears perked up at the mention of free wine on a Monday. What followed was an eye-opening journey to the heart of the generational wine appreciation divide: how, exactly, does a demographic raised on Gary Vaynerchuk and Trader Joe’s (or, perhaps in most cases, only Trader Joe’s) react to serious, complicated, and expensive bottles of wine? (more…)

Drinking Wine From The Future: the winos do the 2008 santa barbara wine futures

Tuesday, April 15th, 2008

It’s only very rarely that the Young Winos find themselves intimidated by quantity.

We’ve been known, at our weekly tastings, to put down fifteen to sixteen bottles and then hit the bar for margaritas. We’ve been seen, when in wine country, to thoughtfully critique the offerings of eight or nine wineries within the constraints of 11am-5pm opening hours and still make it back to LA in time for karaoke. But upon arriving at Santa Barbara’s venerable Wine Cask restaurant on Saturday, the Winos admittedly found themselves a bit overwhelmed, both by the sheer number of wineries present, and by the enormity of the task presented to us: how could we possibly taste and fairly evaluate 200 wines in only three hours?

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Needless to say, we didn’t quite drink them all. We did, however, accomplish two important goals: we met a ton of fascinating winemakers, and we tasted loads of diverse and delicious wines. In this dispatch the Winos hope to share with you some of our favorite experiences of the day so that you can live vicariously through us, as we know so many of you like to do. (more…)

The Winos’ Tasting Series: Peppery Thunder from Down Under

Sunday, April 13th, 2008

In continuing a recent trend of sampling wines from importers named after U2 albums (“War Imports” faring only slightly below “Achtung Baby Imports” in a recent blind tasting), this week the Winos turned our attention to five Australian bottles sent to us by the good people at Joshua Tree Imports.

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Several of the samples we received had earned very favorable reviews from Wine Spectator and others, but in order to preserve the integrity of the tasting, I refrained from sharing these accolades with the group until after we’d actually had a chance to taste and evaluate the wines ourselves. One white and four reds awaited judgement as eight Winos assembled in my living room this warm Friday evening. (more…)

The Young Winos of LA sont sur l’air!

Wednesday, April 9th, 2008

tomleykis.jpgAfter two and a half years of toiling in some sort of nebulous audio-free obscurity, the Young Winos appeared last night on their first-ever nationally syndicated drivetime radio show, 91.7 FM’s “The Tom Leykis Show.” Tom’s an avid wine lover, and he was generous enough to give us about forty-five minutes of airtime to talk about the group, share our thoughts on wine, and field calls from listeners interested in everything from which wine to pair with steak, to that strange “tartness” that one sometimes experiences when drinking reds. You can listen to the podcast by clicking here.

Also, we’ll be appearing on Tom’s other show, “The Tasting Room,” which airs on 91.7 FM this Sunday at 5pm. Tune it up!

The Winos’ Tasting Series: Lake County (no relation to the “wine lake”)

Monday, April 7th, 2008

Anyone unfamiliar with the gastronomical tragedy that is the EU’s perennial “wine lake” should familiarize themselves with the concept here; essentially, millions of gallons of delicious French and Italian wine are being disposed of every year simply because there isn’t the demand for it (although I know of some young people in LA who could probably think of a few enjoyable things to do with several million gallons of wine). Fortunately, California’s “Lake County” is neither named after nor implicated in the continuing humanitarian crisis of the wine lake. It was therefore with a clear conscience that the Winos sat down to enjoy four bottles from this storied region.

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We received two bottles each from the good people at two Lake County wineries, Langtry Estate and Shannon Ridge. Nestled in between Napa and Mendocino, Lake County has been producing wine for decades, but new bottles are showing up on LA shelves in abundance these days. We’ve heard rumors that Lake County is a great place to go tasting in some bucolic country while avoiding the glut of tourists and wine snobs you’ll invariably encounter in Napa and Sonoma, which sounds ideal for the Winos’ next semi-annual Gone Drinkin’ retreat. (more…)

An indecent proposal

Friday, April 4th, 2008

We received this document after it had been declassified by The Agency. It is pretty much self explanatory.  (Click to read the full version in all its glory.)

Kristin Email

And in case you were wondering…we declined the wine bribe.

Wine Blogging Wednesdays #44: Cabernet Franc from France

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2008

The Winos jumped on the WBW bandwagon this week, and per the G-man’s instructions, we sought ourselves out a bottle of Cabernet Franc from France. The majority of our experience with Cab Franc has been: 1) in its capacity as a blending grape, when tasting various bottles of Bordeaux and Meritage, 2) drinking that unusual bottle of New York Cab Franc that Jessica brought on Old World varietals in the New World day, and 3) watching that scene in Sideways where Miles says he doesn’t like it.

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Jason found us a bottle of 2005 Domaine de Noiré “Elegance” from the Chinon region of France’s Loire Valley. Loire is known mostly for whites (such as the racy little numbers from Vouvray, Pouilly-Fumé and Muscadet), but some solid Cab Franc is allegedly grown in the Touraine area, so we were excited about this one. (more…)

The Winos’ Tasting Series: Michael-David Winery, Lodi

Tuesday, April 1st, 2008

Recently we were admonished by some crotchety naysayer on an eRobertParker.com bulletin board who contended that “this [the Young Winos] is not what a bunch of 20-something guys ought to be doing with their spare time” (post #27, but many other priceless reactions to our article can be found all over the thread). I suppose we should’ve been drinking Pepsi Free down at the discotheque, or maybe watching a “talkie” at the movie palace, or whatever the kids are doing nowadays? At any rate, we decided to further horrify this particular malcontent by holding a tasting on a Friday night. (To be fair, we did head out for some dive bar karaoke afterwards… but the tasting itself was damn serious, trust me.)

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The good people at Michael-David Family of Wines were kind enough to send us a bottle each of their current vintage Chardonnay and Zinfandel. I threw a dark horse into the mix by dusting off a bottle of Michael-David’s 2003 Incognito Rhone Blend that I’ve been saving for just the right occasion. A total of seven Winos — appropriate, we thought, given the theme — were on hand to enjoy the bottles. (more…)

Youth will be served fine wine!

Friday, March 28th, 2008

ringlet.jpgOur friends over at American Feast are giving us props in their recent entry “Youth Will Be Served Fine Wine.” I like the tenor of that particular phrase… sounds so very entitled, like “Miss Moneybags will summer in Geneva this year” (or maybe “it puts the lotion in the basket, it does this whenever it’s told”).

The piece refers to a study by the Wine Market Council, which suggests that our generation offers “the wine industry the kind of growth potential not seen in more than thirty years.” Well done, kids. Keep drinkin’, and we may just come out of this on top.

Also from American Feast: I want all of us to get together one night and drink a round (or three) of Midnight Smash cocktails. I’ll bring the glassware and the blackberries… now all we need is six or seven Winos to bring the rest of the arcane ingredients.

The Winos’ Tasting Series: the trouble with airline wine

Monday, March 24th, 2008

I went away this weekend to spend Easter with the fam, and on my return flight found myself craving a nice refreshing bottiglia di vino. However, the state of the world being what they want us to believe it is, we Winos aren’t allowed to bring our refreshment with us on planes as we do most other places. Therefore I had no choice but to browse AA’s anemic “wine list” and drop a Lincoln for some mediocre drinkin’.

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The experience led me to do a little research into how these bizarre bottles wind up on planes anyhow. What follows is a grim story of bulk wine sales, “Pacific Vista,” and the cluelessness of the American airline industry. (more…)

The Winos’ Tasting Series: Division I Chardonnay at Division III prices

Friday, March 14th, 2008

The Young Winos were thrilled to be featured in the LA Times earlier this week, and we want to thank all the winos out there who sent us good tidings. The article represented us really well, with one exception — an insignificant detail to some, perhaps, but an issue of great importance to me. I want to take this opportunity to state for the record: I am not a graduate of Syracuse University, I have never been a graduate of Syracuse University, nor do I ever intend to be a graduate of Syracuse University. I’m sure it’s probably an admirable institution, but my allegiance forever lies elsewhere:

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So, in honor of my Division III alma mater, I decided to open up a couple of nice mid-range California Chardonnays that are currently on sale for “Division III prices” at my local bastions de vino. Doug sat down with me to help me taste the pair. (more…)

Tasting Smell

Friday, March 14th, 2008

Taste MapAs a relatively new wine drinker, I still struggle to decipher the complexities of properly identifying a wine’s aroma and taste, and it feels like a constant battle raging between my conscious and my senses. Is that Soy Sauce? Strawberry? Strawberry jam? Or is it a preserve? What is the difference between a jam and a preserve anyway? Unfortunately, searching out a group consensus only makes matters worse. In my mind there are really three paths down which this conversation can go: 1. Either everyone agrees with your tasting notes, 2. people identify something completely different and you are left feeling inadequate and like black sheep, or 3. you are forced to simply admit that you don’t detect anything at all. (more…)

Don Ferlazzo brings the Winos east!

Thursday, March 13th, 2008

Good news for any Young Winos who find themselves frequent mid-week visitors to the Albany, New York metro area — Wino Emeritus Don Ferlazzo has just established the Young Winos of Upstate New York. Check out the craigslist ad:

http://albany.craigslist.org/grp/606250707.html

The club promises the experience of discussing “different types of wine, as well as wine basics, history, production, and food pairings.” Despite Don’s idiocyncracies while a charter member of the Young Winos of LA, I have no doubt that he’ll rise to the occasion as the leader of this new chapter, and that the club will be a successful and informative one. We look forward to future cross-country collaborations.

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The photo that he lifted from us, which is fine, since he used to live in this apartment (and own that couch)

Los Angeles Wine Shop Map

Thursday, March 13th, 2008

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Ahoy—  while doing my morning sleuthing I discovered Dr. Vino’s Los Angeles Wine Shop Map. This may be old news for some of you but it really is a great tool and something that I am sure our tech savvy Young Wino base will appreciate. Dr. Vino is an award winning wine journalist & new media blogger based out of the East Coast. And yes, he is a real doctor. He did his ph.D. dissertation on the “political economy of the wine industry in France and the United States.” So it is possible that he is smarter than us. However, we will have some newly minted doctorate students wrapping up their schooling very soon. So watch out Dr. Vino. The Dr. Winos are coming!

His blog can be found here.

The Winos’ Tasting Series: 2005 Papillon

Monday, March 10th, 2008

Jordan and I are huge fans of Orin Swift’s “Prisoner” Zin blend, so when our Saturday tasting buddy Kevin Delin raved about Swift’s just-released 2005 Meritage “Papillon,” we were in no position to exercise restraint and resist popping a bottle. By that point, having just finished off a flight of foreign and domestic Pinot Noirs which ran a little hotter than we might’ve guessed, our combined B.A.C. was a bit loftier than would’ve been requisite for us to say, “gee, $56 is really too much to spend on a bottle we’ve never heard of until forty-five seconds ago.” So it was that we threw fiscal responsibilty to the wind and made our way home with our trophy wine.

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What’s with that thumb-hole at the bottom of a bottle?

Sunday, March 9th, 2008

That’s an excellent question, and one that’s provoked no shortage of debates in our meetings. The thumb-hole you describe is actually called a punt, and there’s a huge discourse regarding its origins and significance… check out this page for more information than you’d ever care to know about the punt debate.

What we do know is that it probably doesn’t exist solely so waiters can show off by pouring wine with their thumb up in it… although it can’t be denied, some punts are really conducive to such things. Check out this photo of Jesse wrangling the 2005 Papillon (note: any bottle that I can actually balance on my massive thumb definitely possesses a punt to be reckoned with).

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Subjectivity, supertasters, and goat cheese

Thursday, March 6th, 2008

Three important issues facing the wine world today are subjectivity, supertasters, and goat cheese. Here are some delicious articles for your Thursday afternoon that pertain to such issues. If I can inspire any of you to diversify your drinking this weekend — or at least to think critically about it — then I’ve succeeded. (more…)

The Winos’ Tasting Series: Fearless Flyer Follies

Sunday, March 2nd, 2008

Four times a year, we SoCal Trader Joe’s denizens all receive the venerable “Fearless Flyer” periodical, alerting us to exciting new merchandise that Joe has acquired during the course of his trading. While some of the stuff is a little esoteric (“Oatmeal in the Freezer? You Betcha!”), or downright excessive (“17 Bean & Barley Soup Mix”… honestly, once you hit 15 beans or so, do you really need the barley anymore?), the wine deals contained therein are often enticing. This week, Doug, Max and I sat down to taste a pair of featured bottles, one white and one red, each appealingly-priced at $4.99. Might we discover a cheapo winner?

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The Young Winos’ vintage photo page

Saturday, March 1st, 2008

Our old buddy Rob Kim — the aerial photographer — once put together a sweet photo page for us.  It’s a bizarre and charming little time capsule chock full of long-forgotton faces and mediocre bottles of wine circa November 2005 through February 2006.  Check out the link below to see blonde Kate, pre-fauxhawk Andrew, skinny Don, and young Jesse wearing a tie because he was still working on the wrong side of the picket line.

http://www.robkim.com/youngwinos/ 

John C. Reilly goes wine tasting

Friday, February 15th, 2008

None of us will soon forget John C. Reilly’s gutsy performances in The Thin Red Line or Gangs of New York. But did you know he does comedy as well? Here he is in a hilarious turn as Dr. Steve Brule, wine expert:

“Wine was invented by the Romans. For orgies.” Poor Steve.

Four badass links for your Thursday night

Friday, January 25th, 2008

It’s 8:45pm and I’m still at the office, thoroughly enjoying my cushy existance working in the movie industry. I thought I’d send you a few links in case you find yourself in a similar state of misfotune. (more…)

Who hasn’t had this problem?

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008

Many a Young Winos tasting have been ruined this way…

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See more delightful comics at www.marriedtothesea.com.