The WineSpeed Blog


Grüner Veltliner “Ried Loibenberg”  Smaragd 2013

(Wachau, Austria) $50

The best part of wine is time travel. This is Vienna. The old days. Snow falling outside but inside, a dizzying electricity from mouthfuls of vivid wine that twirl around on the palate as if the wine itself was dancing out of control. And yet for all the charm, this is a wine of gravitas. A wine that speaks of a place. A wine that wants to say, you have never tasted peaches and white pepper and mineraly wet stones like this. Grüner Veltliner is Austria’s great white grape. Knoll is a top producer. Smaragd is the highest classification a wine from the Wachau can have. This is a white for winter and a must. (13.5% abv)

92 points KM

Available at JJ Buckley

Syrah or Shiraz?

In Australia (and sometimes in South Africa), the grape syrah is known as shiraz. Why so? In the 17th century, French Huguenots (many of whom were religious refugees) brought syrah from France to South Africa, and from there it was brought to Australia.  By the 1830s, Australian explorers were also bringing syrah in directly from France. In France, syrah is known by a number of colloquial names (serine, serinne, sira, etc.).  Most scholars think the name shiraz is a corruption of one of these aliases. Frustratingly, many wine articles continue to reproduce the erroneous legends that syrah/shiraz somehow came from the Iranian city of Shiraz, the Greek island of Syra, or the city of Syracuse in Sicily. All false. Today, of course, shiraz is Australia’s most famous red wine, and it can be a spellbinding rich blockbuster of a wine, although rarely as gamey as syrahs from Washington State or from the northern Rhône.

A. Robert Mondavi Winery

B. Schramsberg

C. Kendall Jackson

D. Stony Hill


Stony Hill, a small cult winery on Napa Valley’s Spring Mountain, planted chardonnay in 1947 and released their first bottle in 1952 at the then steep price of $1.95. Schramsberg Vineyards planted chardonnay for its famous sparkling wines in 1965. The Robert Mondavi Winery’s first chardonnay was planted in 1970. And Kendall Jackson, which is not located in the Napa Valley, made its first chardonnay in 1982 and now makes several million cases of chardonnay annually.

“Great, complex wines are wonderful, enthralling, life-affirming, soul-stirring, but it’s worth asking whether they are relaxing. Good, simple wines speak to out spirit of play and ease and repose, exactly because they don’t demand our exclusive attention.”

—Terry Theise
Wine Importer and Writer, Reading Between the Wines


The meniscus (men-IS-cuss) is the thin edge of wine at the top. The meniscus forms a kind of ring where the wine touches the inside of a wine glass.  By tilting the glass at a forty-five degree angle and looking down at the meniscus, you can get an idea of a wine’s age.  The lighter the meniscus, the older the wine. For example, if a cabernet is young, its deep garnet color will extend from the core of the wine all the way through the meniscus to the inside wall of the glass. If the wine is significantly older, however, the core will be deep in color, but the meniscus will be significantly lighter (as in the picture).


Maybe it’s just me but doesn’t this pink cheese bring back memories of Hostess Pink Snowballs? It’s actually Wensleydale cheese (a British classic) flavored with raspberries and prosecco (which, sigh, Snowballs didn’t have). But I don’t know, there’s something creepy about pink cheese and besides, Prosec-obsession is starting to get a little tedious. The pink prosecco cheese—already being billed as gastro-bait for millennials–is made by The Great British Cheese Company. Get it here and WineSpeed friends, report back please.



Age of Robert Mondavi when he founded the Robert Mondavi Winery in Oakville in the Napa Valley. Many other Napa pioneers were also in (non-crisis) midlife when they began their wineries–Mike Grgich (Grgich Hills) was 54; John Shafer (Shafer Vineyards) was 48; Warren Winiarski (Stags Leap Wine Cellars) was 42; and Jack Davies (Schramsberg) was 41.


Number of wine brands owned by E. & J. Gallo, the world’s largest family-owned wine company. The brands range from mass market wines like Barefoot Cellars to high-end historic brands such as Louis M. Martini to millennial chug like Apothic. The company was founded in 1933 in Modesto by brothers Ernest and Julio who reportedly learned to make wine by reading pamphlets in the public library.


Percent of their food budget the average American spends in restaurants, according to the USDA Economic Research Service. The percentage of money spent in restaurants has risen steadily as Americans work longer hours. From 2010 until now, one out of every 7 new jobs in the country has been a restaurant job.

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