The WineSpeed Blog


Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

(Napa Valley, California) $100

If one stellar cabernet is in your future this holiday season, this would be a brilliant option. It’s a cabernet of magnificence and beauty, precision and radiance—as though every single molecule in the wine was beaming out delicious flavor. Cathy Corison (who’s made wine over more than 40 vintages) has a reputation for exquisitely balanced, complex, long-lived cabernets that exude finesse. You could be forgiven for thinking it was Margaux in a good vintage. (13.6% abv)

96 points KM

Available at Corison Winery

Cooking Wine: The Golden Rule

A note of advice from the late Julia Child this holiday season: never cook with a wine that you wouldn’t drink. This is still the golden rule. Wine too poor in quality to drink can actually harm great food flavors. So toss out any red or white table wines that have been hanging around in the back of the fridge. There is, however, one type of wine that can get quite old and still be great in cooking: fortified wine. Madeira, Sherry, and Port (the three leading types of fortified wines) do not spoil quickly. For months after the bottles have been opened, each of these wines will still add a delicious richness to soups, stews, sauces, and roasts.

A. Marsanne, Counoise, Malmsey Madeira, Chardonnay

B. Barzac, Oloroso Sherry, Assyrtiko, Eiswein

C. Fino Sherry, Semillon, Albariño, Savennières

D. Riesling, Tokaji, Amarone, Beaumes-de-Venise


Answer: C. This question might have been a bit hard because the “best serving temperature” is somewhat personal. In general, fortified wines like Malmsey Madeira and Oloroso Sherry are considered best—not when well chilled—but rather, at “cellar” temperature (in the mid-60s F.) Sweet wines (Barzac, Eiswein, Tokaji, and Beaumes-de-Venise) are usually served on the cool side, but again, not super chilled. However, option C above lists wines that pretty much everyone agrees are best when served well chilled—Fino (a crisp, dry style of Sherry) the white wines Semillon and Albariño, and the French (Loire) white Savennières which is made from chenin blanc grapes.

“Climate change is happening. The start date of each vintage moves forward by a week per decade. Burgundy won’t be making Pinot Noir in 20 years as it will be too hot; they’ll be making Shiraz and still Pinot production will move to Champagne and England. There is a very real possibility that if the effects of global warming get too severe, Barolos won’t be made from Nebbiolo since it’s such a sensitive variety and needs such specific conditions. Global warming is going to completely re-set the game. Bordeaux is going to have massive problems.”

— Chester Osborn, winemaker, d’Arenberg Winery (Australia) as quoted in The Drinks Business


Chewy is a term that describes mouth-filling, full-bodied wines that are viscous enough to seem almost chewable. Certain grape varieties, such as zinfandel produced in very warm areas, often take on a chewy character.

Brainy Bon Appetit

In the Good-to-Know-I-Guess Department, we’ve just learned that you can buy canned brains on Amazon (From Books to Brains, an amazing corporate success story!). And why would one need brains other than the ones inside one’s own head? It turns out that brains (pork brains specifically) are part of the historic dish called “eggs ‘n brains” which was popular in the American South up until the mid-20th century. According to Atlas Obscura, the dish probably originated among farmers, but soon spread to more urban areas, as well. Traditionally, fresh brains were used, but later, canned brains became common. I thought I had a fairly good grasp of food and wine pairing but this dish has stopped me in my tracks.  What goes with brains? Beauty? Yeah, but that’s not a wine.


Value (in billions of U.S. dollars) of wine sales in the U.S., from last fall until this one. That’s a 5% increase from the previous year, according to BW166, a wine market research firm. As wine sales have increased, so have the number of winery employees.  To help sell and ship all that vino, direct-to-consumer winery staff grew by a reported 56%.


Approximate altitude (in feet) of the world’s highest vineyard, according to Guinness World Records (it’s actually 11,691 feet, or 3563.3 meters). Known as “Pure Land & Super-High Altitude Vineyard,” the vineyard is in Qushui County, Lhasa, Tibet. It’s planted with vidal, muscat, and indigenous Bei Bing Hong grapes.


Number of varieties of apples that existed in the American Northeast two centuries ago, according to the New York Times. By the 1950s, that number had dwindled to fewer than 100. Today, a revival of apples is taking place within a few hundred miles of New York City. All are intended for one of the newest exciting beverages—intensely flavored, dry “hard” ciders (usually about 7% to 9% alcohol).

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