The WineSpeed Blog

Cocchi Barolo Chinato

Cocchi Barolo Chinato

(Piedmont, Italy) $46

I am addicted to drinking Italian bitters after dinner. The savory/bitter/sweet/spicy tanginess and the kinetic freshness are sensational. Bitters are like drinking the entire botanical universe in one delicious sip. The bitter known as Barolo Chinato (pronounced key NAT oh) from Giulio Cocchi is made with lightly fortified Barolo wine that’s been infused with quinine bark, wormwood, rhubarb, ginger root, cardamom, and gentian plus a slew of secret spices. The recipe has remained the same since the wine was invented in 1891. While I usually drink it as a digestivo (after dinner), it’s equally good with a splash of soda and citrus as an aperitivo. (Who said you can’t bookend a meal with the same liquid inspiration?)

93 points KM

Available at K&L Wines

Pine is Just Fine, Thank You

If you’ve been to Greece recently (or are going to ditch winter this year) you probably didn’t escape without falling in love with (or learning to abhor) retsina, the pungent, pine-resin-flavored wine, the drinking of which is virtually a baptismal right in Greek tavernas. Traces of pine resin have been found in Greek wine jars dating back to the thirteenth century B.C. Modern retsina can be made anywhere in the country, although most of it is made near Athens. Many different white grape varieties can be used, but the most common variety is savatiano, a relatively neutral white grape. Resin from the Aleppo pine is added to savatiano grape juice as it ferments, imparting retsina’s unmistakable, piney, turpentine-like aroma. Yeah it sounds bad. But when in Rome, I mean Greece…..

A. Chardonnay Greek Yogurt

B. Cheese M & Ms

C. Pink Chocolate

D. Cabernet IPA (Beer)


Move over dark, milk and white, a fourth type of chocolate has arrived–pink. The rosy hued chocolate is the invention of Swiss chocolate manufacturer Barry Callebaut who believe the “berry fruitiness and luscious smoothness” may appeal to “hedonistic millennials.” The product, which Callebaut calls “ruby chocolate,” is made from Ruby Cacao beans which grow in Ecuador, Brazil and the Ivory Coast. (No red food coloring or berry flavoring is added). As far as we know, Cabernet IPA and Chardonnay Yogurt are still waiting to be created, as are Cheese M & Ms—although Cheesecake M & Ms have already made their debut. You can buy them on Amazon.

Wine … changing even as we taste it, delivers a message with meaning only in our response. If we are in the right key when we receive it, our eyes will shine and we shall radiate pleasure.

Gerald Asher
American writer, The Pleasures of Wine


Literally, “a flask,” but more often the word fiasco is used to describe the bulbous, straw-encased Chianti bottle that was a fixture of the bohemian lifestyle in the 1960s in the United States. (Memory lane, right Boomers?). Chiantis sold in fiaschi (the plural) were usually quite cheap. Plus the bottle doubled as a candle holder once the wine was drunk. If fiaschi make a comeback, remember, you heard it here.

Your Wine Horoscope

A Silicon Valley-based company has developed StarSip, a wine-horoscope app that makes wine recommendations for each sign of the zodiac. Based on an interdisciplinary approach the company calls Biodynamic Astrology, the app’s algorithm aligns solar and lunar cycles in both viticulture and cosmology. StarSip subscribers who enter their signs  are sent a list of wines that possess the most “harmonic convergence” for the month. (Ok, we made this up. But hey, it’s California where anything is possible).


Approximate minimum cost (in U.S. dollars) of an acre of vineyard land in the Texas Hill Country.  By comparison, vineyard land in New York’s Finger Lakes costs at least $5000/acre. In Washington’s Columbia Valley, the minimum is $25,000/acre and in the Willamette Valley of Oregon, $30,000. For the Napa Valley? Try $300,000/acre or more.


Pounds of cheese per person Americans eat each year—more than double the amount consumed in 1975. Alas, only a fraction of it gets paired with wine. At fast food restaurants, menu items described as “cheesy” are on the upswing. And not just at pizza parlors. 38% of Dunkin’ Donuts menu items and 34% of Dairy Queen offerings have “cheesy” in their names.


Approximate number of restaurants in Florida that have suffered damage or destruction from Hurricane Irma, one of the worst Hurricanes ever to have hit the U.S. The Florida restaurant industry generates $42 billion in annual sales and employs over one million Floridians.  Several dozen Florida vineyards and farm wineries specializing in muscadine wines have also been severely damaged.

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