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Wine footprint, wine books and... cheese!

It's April! The sun is shining, the birds are chirpping and we're all excited about and gearing up for even warmer days to come, namely.... summer vacation. But before I quite get ahead of myself, it is still April and Earth Day comes around the corner way before the last school bell rings. Today we kick off our wine news and events with info about wine and ecology. Check out what Cathy Huyghe pulled together by way of some "fun facts" in this regard!

Next up, here's a list of wine book suggestions as you start perusing the shelves of your local bookstore for some great get-a-way wine reads!

Last but not least, over at my other place of work, Ball Square Fine Wines, we're unleashing a special cheese seminar next Wednesday night, April 14. Wines won't be poured in addition to the seminar, but a good roster of suggestions will be available should you like to make a full evening of it. There's nothing quite like bringing home new knowledge, fresh cheese and a little something else to transform your evening into a magical one!

Which wine books have caught your fancy of late?



Full day of wine blog fodder and news

It's amazing what happens when you have 30 minutes to catch up on your Google reader feed! I found some gems in the wine bloggosphere and newsfeed I can't help but share. Good Friday, indeed! I've narrowed the playing field to just 3.5 for you to soak up: 1. A new take on the "nature" of wine - click! For all of my photographer and scientist/nerd friends and followers out there, I bring to you this very cool concept for a wine book... Seeing is believing!

2. The "Ick Factor": smoke taint in wine. I found the timing of this article too perfect as just a couple of weeks ago my colleague and I had the chance to meet Dianna Lee of Siduri; she had been lamenting the challenge she and her husband faced making great Pinot Noir in a year inundated with forest fire. She said they ended up tossing wine made from certain vineyards where they source fruit (so you don't have to worry about any of the Siduri gems tasting like an ashtray as they'll never hit the market). Check out this WSJ article... Something for you to bare in mind when shopping for 2008 Anderson Valley Pinots this year!

3. Trader Joe's latest "wine trick", lol. I'm a bit cynical, it's true, when it comes to national chains taking on such large scale wine projects to pass on great "value". (Shop local, people! You'll find great value, smaller production, artisan wines if you have a great wine shop.) But I am legitimately interested to hear if you've tasted this wine - and your impressions. (And yes, next time I land at TJ's I'm going to see if there's still a bottle on the shelf for me to bring home.) In the meantime, weigh in using the comments thread below!



A trip along the wine route

Have you ever saved a fine bottle of wine, one you don’t quite want to open for the sake of holding onto the dream of what lies within? Have you ever then had the overwhelming desire to just uncork it, pour a glass and then sip and savor it for as long as humanly possible?

For the better part of a year I’ve been “sipping and savoring” Kermit Lynch’s acclaimed Adventures on the Wine Route. It’s true.... Pop over to Wicked Local today to find out why I've been compelled to do such a thing!

Have you read this famous wine story? What were your impressions?



The glorious grape: a book review

red-white-and-drunk-all-overReading is one of my favorite, totally self-contained escapes. Since wine became my "job" though, I've falled off the wagon in some ways.... I constantly seek more information and so I'm reading to learn, rather than for the sheer pleasure of it. But I realized the wine books I've been picking up of late are finding some middle ground; they are lighter on their feet, if you will, offering great information in a delightfully palatable package. It seems unfair to keep some of these finds to myself, so in the coming year, I hope to explore more of these texts and share the fruits of my efforts with you. Natalie MacLean offers just one such diversion in her Red, White and Drunk All Over: A Wine-Soaked Journey from Grape to Glass.  If I knew MacLean in real life, I can only imagine she (like me) thinks she is the funniest person she knows - and is all the better for it. (I mean, come on. If you were stuck on a desert island and you only had yourself to entertain, you BETTER be the funniest person you know!) The best news is, MacLean is open about what she does and doesn't know about her subject. She is unabashed but refreshingly professional (read: respectful) as she explores wine. Her book takes you through the new vineyards of California, the history-entrenched vineyards of France, the bowels of a wine shop, the floor of a high-end restaurant and... beyond. She is nothing if not funny and thorough.

MacLean delivers something for everyone, at every stage in their wine knowledge/enthusiasm. I, for one, loved her chapters on French regions in particular - her tales of meeting some of Champagne's most important women, tromping through Burgundy.... I also enjoyed reading about her experiences trying retail for a day (and the price she paid for wearing fashionable shoes, rather than comfortable ones) and attempting life as a Sommelier for an evening.

I also appreciate how much perspective MacLean brings to the various places wine breathes (no pun intended on that one, but I'll keep it!). Case in point: while she's working in one San Francisco shop she learns how hard some shops work to meet their customers needs such that "[wine] comes alive for them". (p. 146) It's not just about business, but sharing something special with customers - both a new wine and just as important, the genuine interaction with the customer him/herself. Both MacLean's  historic ruminations and her real life revelry with her subject underscore the reason so many people I know are drawn to wine: it is a lovely, warm quilt, representing and connecting myriad facets of life.

Naturally, there are a few segments where I was less enthralled and I'm still deciding whether her on-line wine/food matcher is a tool I can use with confidence. But MacLean is witty and honest. For a subject where neither are a given, I applaud her efforts and hope she continues to capture her musings.

What wine books have struck your fancy? Have you found others that expand your horizons - while entertaining you, too?