#TasteWithKaren Live

California’s Prestige Sparkling Wines

Thursday, December 2nd at 4 pm PT / 7 pm ET

An exploration of three signature bottlings from the Golden State’s top sparkling wine houses.

Join Karen as she hosts Domaine Carneros CEO Remi Cohen, Roederer Estate Winemaker Arnaud Weyrich, and Schramsberg Vintner Hugh Davies—for this exciting live virtual tasting.
Together they will be tasting and talking about tête de cuvées (top-of-the-range sparkling wines) from different California appellations. You’ll discover why California’s North Coast is an ideal location for making world-class sparkling wine.

Register for the Event HERE.

– DOMAINE CARNEROS “Le Reve” Blanc de Blancs 2013
– ROEDERER ESTATE “L’Ermitage” 2015
– SCHRAMSBERG “J. Schram” Brut 2012

Purchase the wines as a bundle HERE.


“Piano dei Daini” Etna Rosso 2018

(Etna, Sicily, Italy) $55

Etna Rossos, made on the ancient lava flows of the Mt. Etna volcano in Sicily, are made from red Nerello Mascalese grapes—Italy’s “Nebbiolos of the south.” The wines have a dark, savory, Italian edge of delicious bitterness that frames a core of spicy cherry fruit. This Sophia “Piano dei Daini” is also laced with notes of wild mushrooms and something like sarsaparilla. (Where oh where is a rich meat-sauced pasta dish when I need it?)  Sophia is a small family winery with vineyards 2100 feet above sea level. (12.5% abv)

94 points KM

Available at Vivino

The WineSpeed Blog

A. About 5%

B. About 10%

C. About 15%

D. About 18%


Vintage Port is the most renowned style of Port, and it’s also one of the rarest styles, constituting just 3% to 6% of all the Port made in any given year.  Vintage Port is made only in exceptional years when Port shippers “declare” a vintage. All of the grapes in the blend will come only from that vintage, and only from the very top vineyards.

Vintage Ports are first aged just two years in barrel, to round off their powerful edges. Then—and this is the key—they are aged for a long time in the bottle. During bottle aging, the vintage Port matures slowly, becoming progressively more refined and integrated. A decade’s worth of aging is standard, and several decades used to be fairly common. Indeed, Ports from the 1950s are still amazingly lively on the palate (the 1955 Cockburn’s is one of the most hauntingly delicious wines I have ever tasted or felt . . . it was sheer silk).

To maintain the intensity, balance, and richness of vintage Port, it is neither fined nor filtered. This, coupled with the fact that Port grapes have thick skins and a lot of tannin, means that vintage Port throws a great deal of sediment, and always needs to be decanted. Finally, in the years a shipper chooses not to declare a year as vintage quality, the grapes that would have gone into vintage Port are often used to make a single Quinta Port.

Answer: False.

Petite Sirah (sometimes spelled Petite Syrah) is not the same as Syrah and not a clone of it, but the histories of the two separate red grape varieties are interwoven. Vines called Petite Sirah have grown in California since the 1880s. In the early days, some of those vines may have been a clone of Syrah that had small—petite—grapes. (All things being equal, winemakers prefer small grapes because there’s a high ratio of skin to juice. Since color, flavor, and tannin come primarily from a grape’s skin, small grapes yield concentrated, flavorful wines.). Back then, Petite Sirah was interplanted with other varieties, creating field blends. As more and different varieties (sometimes misidentified) found their way into California vineyards, Petite Sirah’s true identity grew more and more obscure. Eventually, in the 1990s, DNA typing revealed that most California Petite Sirah is the French grape Durif, a cross of Peloursin and Syrah. Today, some of the oldest “Petite Sirah” vineyards remain field blends of many varieties, including true Syrah, Durif, Carignane, Zinfandel, Barbera, and Grenache. From a flavor standpoint, there is nothing petite about Petite Sirah. The wine is mouthfilling and often hugely tannic.


A German term, which means “late harvest.” Spätlese is a level of ripeness within the traditional German system and indicates that the wine was just ripe. A wine that is less ripe than a Spätlese is a Kabinett; a wine that is riper is an Auslese. Spätlesen (plural) can be dry, half dry, or semi-sweet.

News from the Napa Valley…brought to you by Premiere Napa Valley

Episode #1: Celebrating Premiere Napa Valley Wine Week Join us for our next three wine clips brought to you in partnership with the Napa Valley Vintners as Karen talks and tastes through Premiere Napa Valley… Continue reading

To Wine, or Not to Wine—That is the Question

While it’s tempting to assume that, when it comes to wine, the French invented almost everything, there’s one pursuit they largely overlooked: wine writing. For that, we have to thank the ancient Greek and Roman writers, then later, the English. The first book on wine in the English language was A New Boke of the Natures and Properties of All Wines, written in 1568 by William Turner. Turner’s book is thought to have been a guide for William Shakespeare, who laced his texts with numerous references to wine. Then, during the 18th century, dozens of major wine books were written—many of them, interestingly, by English physicians.


Number of opponents Canadian bartender, James Grant, topped in the 2021 Diageo World Class bartending competition. The virtual contest, headquartered in London, took place over five days this fall. Finalists were given several bartending challenges such as “create a vodka cocktail that impacts the environment.” Since the competition’s inception in 2009, Canadian barkeeps consistently place in the top 12 of the 400,000 bartenders from 60 countries that participate.


Percentage of all French Chenin Blanc grown in the Loire Valley. A dominant grape in the region, Chenin Blanc makes crisp, minerally, tart white wines. The Loire’s 87 appellations span a large stretch of the river valley from the Atlantic Coast inland to within an hour’s distance from Paris. In addition to Chenin Blanc, Cabernet Franc, Sauvignon Blanc, and Muscadet are also common grape varieties grown in the region.


Estimated number (in millions) of turkeys roasted on Thanksgiving. According to the NTF, (National Turkey Federation), 95% of Americans eat turkey on the holiday rather than other meats. Since the average turkey weighs 15 pounds, 675 million pounds of turkey are consumed annually on Turkey Day. Heritage breed turkeys still only account for 1/10% of sales nationally, whereas broad-breasted white turkeys make up the other 99.9% of turkeys sold.

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