The WineSpeed Blog

PEAY “Pomarium” Estate Pinot Noir 2016

(Sonoma Coast, CA) $60

I once read that the monks of Burgundy considered the texture of a great pinot noir a spiritual experience. The way it glided airily over the palate. Slippery silkiness, as if the wine were a dancing elixir. I was reminded of that idea as I drank the 2016 Pomarium from Peay (pronounced PAY). The wine is exquisitely precise (not a molecule out of place) and has ethereal cool pristine fruit (not fruit that’s heavy and overripe). I can imagine the monks being entranced by such a beautiful wine. I was. (13.5% abv)

95 points KM

Available at Peay

Bloody Hell, College Was Brutal

Alas, it wasn’t this way for me (or you either probably) but in England historically, wine—and especially Port—played a notable part in college life. According to the Rare Wine Company (an importer/retailer specializing in Port and Madeira) in the early part of the nineteenth century, important universities like Cambridge and Oxford had breathtakingly enormous wine cellars, and there was ten times as much Port in those cellars than any other wine. Far from being a mere hedonistic indulgence, Port was “currency”—often used by students to pay off wages, bets, and fines.

A. Chenin Blanc

B. Sauvignon Blanc

C. Pinot Blanc

D. Riesling


Before Prohibition, many of the most important vintners in the Napa Valley were German. Immigrants such as Jacob Schram, Frederick Beringer, and Charles Krug forged the first wine industry in the Napa Valley using the grape they knew best: riesling. Even by the 1940s when Stony Hill Winery famously planted the largely unknown chardonnay grape in the Napa Valley, riesling plantings were four times greater than that variety. Vineyard acreage devoted to riesling declined precipitously throughout California in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, but a new surge of excitement for the varietal means that plantings are once again on the upswing. Still, today, riesling plantings comprise just over 4000 acres in California; chardonnay, 95,000 acres.

“Drinking good wine with good food in good company is one of life’s most civilized pleasures.”

— Michael Broadbent, English Critic (pictured on the right with me and Kevin Zraly)

— Michael Broadbent, English Critic (pictured on the right with me and Kevin Zraly)


The science of identifying and classifying grapevines according to their physical properties, such as the size, shape, and contours of their leaves, petioles, shoots, and grape clusters, as well as the color, size, seed content, and flavor of their grapes. French scientist Pierre Galet introduced modern ampelography in the 1950s and it remained the main system for identifying grapevines until the advent of DNA typing in the 1990s.

Hangover Meets Homeopathy

I know this probably never happened to you, but others of us who drink wine have occasionally enjoyed ourselves a wee bit too much. That situation has given rise to a whole slew of morning-after remedies, including the charmingly named “hair of the dog.” Surely, not literal, right? Wrong. The expression originally referred to curing a rabid dog bite by placing hairs of the dog into the bite wound. This was just one example of the ancient medical theory similia similibus curantur (Latin for “like cures like”), which is the basic tenant of homeopathy. It tuns out that using alcohol as a remedy for too much alcohol is a pretty universal practice. So, whether you’re in Rome or Romania, Kenya or Korea, chances are someone will be able to provide just the right “dog hair” should you need it.


Number of millions of tourists who visited wineries in the U.S. last year, spending $17.7 billion in the process, according to Wine America Perspectives. In many U.S. wine regions, the “season” is now year-long. In addition, there are 319 official “Wine Trails” in the country.


Cost (in U.S. dollars) of New York’s Upper East Side restaurant Serendipity 3’s LUXE Milkshake. Released on June 20 (National Vanilla Milkshake Day), it has been awarded the Guinness World Record for Most Expensive Milkshake. A key ingredient includes 23-karat edible gold. The concoction requires a 24-hour notice before you can sip and savor it in the NYC summer heat.


Approximate value (in billions of U.S. dollars) of California wine shipped within the United Sates in 2017. That’s a good 241 million cases. Slightly more wine was sold in 2017 than in the previous year. The biggest growth was in wines priced over $10.

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