#TasteWithKaren Live

The Champagne Life
Tasting Series

Ep.1: Champagne’s
Multi-Sensory Appeal

October 6, 2022 at 5pm PT / 8pm ET

Join Karen as she talks and tastes Champagne with Blaine Ashley of “New York Champagne Week” and “The FIZZ is Female.” Together, they’ll discuss Champagne’s multi-sensory appeal.

Register HERE.


New York Wine—
The Best Kept Secret

October 18, 2022 at 3pm PT / 6pm ET

Join Karen as she talks and tastes with two all-star wine pros from Philadelphia. Together, they’ll reveal why New York wine is ever-so-delicious and such a steal.

Register HERE.


“Viña Ardanza” Reserva 2015

(Rioja, Spain) $40

Traditional Rioja Reservas are among the world’s most ethereal red wines, silkier than silk, aged for long periods in used American oak barrels until the Tempranillo and Garnacha (from which this wine is made) is threaded with gentle wisps of vanilla.  By comparison, modern style Riojas are “bigger” and more likely to be stamped with new oak. La Rioja Alta, founded in 1890, is one of Rioja’s most renowned traditional wineries. And this, their Viña Ardanza, is earthy, spicy, and laced with notes of cocoa, mocha, dark cherry, and fine leather.  The 2015, a terrific vintage, is on the market now. Don’t miss it.  (14.5% abv)

94 points KM

Available at Vivino.com

The WineSpeed Blog

A. A sommelier for cider

B. A stick-like device used for stirring the lees in a barrel

C. The French name for the paddle used in Burgundy for “punching down” Pinot Noir

D. A device used (in biodynamic viticulture) to clean cow horns before they are buried


Interest in fine cider is growing exponentially each year. There are now certified pommeliers (cider sommeliers) in the UK, US, Norway, and Italy.

Answer: False.

Hello, this is the US. Nothing is ever easy when it comes to alcoholic beverages. Under 26 U.S.C. 5042 and the implementing regulations in 27 CFR 24.75(a), “wine produced for personal or family use may never be sold or offered for sale.  Only wine produced at a fully qualified bonded wine premises may be sold or offered for sale.” Sorry.


A vineyard owned entirely by one domaine or estate. The term is used in Burgundy (where monopoles are rare) and to a lesser extent in Champagne.

The State Department???

Hard as this is to believe, the U.S. State Department used to publish a list of “Recommended Wines of the United States.” The introduction to the 1972 list notes that the wines recommended are based on “personal tastings by the State Department Selection Committee.” Twenty-nine wineries are listed; 22 in California and 7 in New York. Among the wines the Selection Committee loved: Almaden Solera Cocktail Sherry, Charles Krug Gamay Rosé, Louis Martini Gewurztraminer, Hanns Kornell Champagne, Gold Seal Champagne, Paul Masson Rare Tawny Port, Souverain Green Hungarian, and Widmer’s Catawba. The type of wine mentioned more than any other was Cabernet Sauvignon immediately followed by Riesling tied with Sherry. Wines called Pale Dry Sherry, Rare Dry Sherry, Cocktail Sherry, Flor Sherry, and Cream Sherry all made the list. (Needless to say, in 1972 U.S. wineries thought nothing of co-opting European appellation names such as Champagne, Sherry, and Port). My thanks to my friend and super wine educator Kevin Zraly who found this list in his files and used it in 1972 to plan a wine trip to California.


Approximate number (in billions) of bottles of “Two Buck Chuck” sold by the late Fred Franzia. The creator of the ultra cheap wine, and co-owner of Bronco Wine Company,  died earlier this month. When asked how he could produce a bottle of wine that cost less than a bottle of water, Franzia reportedly huffed that water companies were overcharging consumers.


Age Evan Goldstein was when he passed the Master Sommelier exam in 1987, the youngest American at the time to do so. This month Goldstein announced another first: he has become the first consulting sommelier to a major sports team—in this case, the San Francisco Giants baseball team. The Giants’ home stadium–Oracle Park—has wine bars on every level of the stadium.


Average number of years in the blend of Ports used to make Taylor Fladgate’s newly released, very rare 50-Year-Old Tawny Port. (Most Tawny Ports are designated either 10-, 20-, 30-, or (rarely) 40-Years Old). The wine-called “Golden Age” is based on individual lots of Ports that have aged a half century in the company’s historic cellars in Porto, Portugal. Taylor Fladgate was founded in 1692.

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