Wine and Emotion

A Winemaker’s Thoughts

James McNeill Whistler's rendering of a wineglass

Chris Carpenter has been the longtime winemaker of Cardinale, La Jota, Lokoya, and Mt. Brave—four top estates—all in the Napa Valley. Last year I asked him about wine’s connection to emotion. What is it about… Continue reading

My Top 10 Bargain Wines to Start the Year

You Can’t Go Wrong with These Reds!


I hope you splurged in December, my friends, because January is austerity month. Time to give that credit card a rest, or at least put a reasonable cap on your expenditures. I’m not talking about… Continue reading

My Top Wines of the Year

The Short List of What Not to Miss

Photo of wine bottle

I am so excited to tell you about these wines—wines that we fell in love with this past year. Some are expensive, but they are all so good that just a single bottle becomes a… Continue reading

My Favorite Champagnes of the Year

Buy These for the Holidays and New Year’s Eve!

As some of you know, I drink a glass of Champagne every night. For me, Champagne demarcates the day from the night. It says the evening has begun. And because I immediately “recork” the bottle with… Continue reading

The (Unthinkable) End of Wine?

Shattered wine glass

Four years ago, the World Economic Forum reported that extreme, volatile weather events would cause 12 crops to be extinct within the next few decades. One of those crops was wine grapes. This can’t possibly… Continue reading

Best Restaurant All Year…

colorful food

The new French Laundry lives—and it’s in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. Ok, it’s not the French Laundry (the Napa Valley restaurant owned by chef Thomas Keller). But the new restaurant ōkta in the small… Continue reading

Who Doesn’t Love to be Seized…?

A Review of Drinking with the Valkyries by Andrew Jefford

Photo of book cover

I read recently about a dangerous animal quest. Two friends, a writer and a biologist, spend several grueling months trekking into the Himalayas to catch a glimpse of one of the world’s most elusive animals:… Continue reading

I Hope I Remember This Night

I wrote the following poem on the evening of September 21, 2022 after attending a “Conversation” at Ashes & Diamonds winery in the Napa Valley. The presentation—by five winemakers—centered around the topic of sustainability. But,… Continue reading

Are Smaller Bubbles Really Better?

Wine bubbles in a glass

The first time I went to the Champagne region, a winemaker took me aside and showed me a glass of Perrier water. These, he said, were not “good” bubbles—not for Champagne wine anyway. The almost… Continue reading

The Rise of Fantastic Cabernet Franc

Wine bottles in a round photo

One of the more exciting things that we at Karen MacNeil & Company did this past summer was a double-blind tasting of every California Cabernet Franc we could get our hands on. There are more… Continue reading