Tag Archives: Wine Rants

JvB’s 2015 End of Year Wine Rant

26 Dec

Sharing with you my failures, findings, hopes, wishes, and observations from JvB UnCorked. Would love to hear your thoughts! -JvB

  1. Try as I might, I have as of yet been unsuccessful in finding a wine bar in NYC willing to have me host a #MWWC Monthly Wine Writer’s Challenge Wine tasting event in NYC. I shall find a way, somehow. This is a group of people I really would like to spend a weekend with, talking, tasting, hanging out, visiting a vineyard, having dinner, and repeat. So I’m GOING to make a tasting happen!
  2. I’m not sure how I can have more wine sitting in my home than I can possible store, and have more wine than I can drink. Having my specific job seems to interfere more than a bit, but I suppose I’ll have to either invite more people over for tastings, host more dinners, give some away, or buy less wine. Wait, that last one can’t be it, although I forced myself to cut off a relationship with my biggest supplier once their local storage rules changed.
  3. Maybe it’s time to buy into long term storage, but I’d really like to have my wine on-hand and available.
  4. I have been fantasizing about buying a new home, just so I can build a bigger wine cellar. I also daydream about building a new home, so that I might build a customized basement designed as a “wine cave” (which you must pronounce “ka” with the flat ‘a’ as you would in cava, just to be wine-specific, otherwise it might as well be a bear’s cave or a man-cave, and what I want is a monstrous wine cellar (See 3 above).
  5. I feel accomplished that I have managed another year of wine blogging, events, tastings, and stewardship without having to monetize my blog. As someone who had to make a living as a reviewer & writer before I was really “into” wine, I know the delicate line walked between editorial and advertisers. Do other bloggers worry about this?
  6. One of the hardest things I had to do this year was skip the 2015 Wine Blogger’s Conference due to a huge work conflict. It is my intention to attend the 2016 Conference in Lodi. I say that now with conviction, I only hope I can stand behind it.
  7. Like having kids grow up and leave the nest, some of my diehard fans no longer call, email, or text me about finding wines. Many are using my blog or posts as they shop, which increases my blog traffic but I was concerned my wine blog popularity was waning. Being listed in Exel Wines Top 100 Most Influential Wine Blogs has really been a boost of support emotionally!
  8. I’ve found that one of the biggest benefits of being “into” wine is that I want to continually learn how to cook more dishes and feed friends and family.
  9. As I get older, I’m much less concerned about being the best in my industry but instead to find happiness and contentment in everything about my life.
  10. I have learned that it’s OK for me not to write about a wine, and instead just to take the time to appreciate and enjoy it for myself.

    À vôtre santé!


Drinking Your Birth Year? (Rant)

29 Jan

Clue me in, please. Dig deep for a second, and help out a fellow oenophile.

My question for the group: What is with the fascination of drinking one’s birth year?

Drinking your birth year. I don’t understand it, but I have it. I have this primal urge, evidently like many others. When Brad Dixon, Sommelier at Bern’s Steak House in Tampa offered me my birth year in wine I stopped cold for a moment, and considered it seriously, against the other wines I was salivating to taste. (I declined and chose something else.) When I receive an email that offers fine wines from my birth year (evidently a lousy year for wine in Bordeaux but decent in Piedmont) I get excited, just by seeing the vintage, without caring who the winemaker is, without knowing the grape, or the region. I consider spending high (nearly silly) dollar amounts for wines I have zero interest in except that they are from a time in my life when my concerns were quite few.

So far, I have yet to succumb to this urge. 

What is it about drinking your birth year? Perhaps knowing that the winemaker was creating, parenting the grapes and crafting something precious, in the very same way we imagine our parents spoke to us in utero, prepared cribs and onesies, and tried to lay groundwork for a good aging process?

Some of the older wines I’ve tasted have been stunning. A few have been total disasters. My birth year would be older than most wines I have enjoyed, and as a questionable vintage, it could be a real disaster. Yet this mystery remains…why is it so compelling?

Share your thoughts- I’d love to know what you think about drinking one’s birth year.


If you’ve ever had the pleasure, can you share your experience? 



à votre santé!

To Hell With Tradition!

27 Jan

Wine drinkers don’t really care about tradition. To hell with the traditions we’ve followed. Uncorking. Sabering champagne. “Clinking” your glasses in a toast. Red with meat and white with fish. Bah! Humbug!  To hell with tradition! And that irritatingly catchy tune from Fiddler on the Roof  gets in your head and won’t leave for months, like a heroin junkie squatting in your garden shed.

Freak Out



Except for one, simple, singular thing.

The entire process of making wine is based in tradition


(Taking a deep breath)

Nearly five thousand years ago the Phoenicians kept records of their travel for trade, their products including wines, grapes, and vines themselves. The Greeks improved demand in their economic trade by developing a superior finished product (i.e., better wine), while the Roman Empire’s mass expansion increased worldwide plantings, development, and local interest. “Hey, Jacobus, this stuff’s pretty good!”

La Tour Haut-Brion

The creation of good wine is a tradition of passion. It takes a plan, a huge amount of passion, immense dedication, and a ton of hard work to even TRY to make wine, let alone GOOD wine.


A winemaker preps soil and trellises, then plants vines in that specific soil, growing a specific grape. Protecting the fruit from bugs, birds and other predators, he or she grows the grapes to maturity. Then the winemaker picks the ripe fruit, clipping clusters from the vines, sorting, inspecting and de-stemming, choosing the best fruit. Then comes pressing and straining the juice, then fermenting, measuring acidity, sugars (in Brix), while mixing, punching down and tweaking the mixtures alcohol and sulfite levels among other key features, and racking the wines again and again to leave the sediment behind. Finally bottling, then allowing the mixture to sit, then recover from the shock of the bottling process, before finally opening a bottle of this elixer to drink and enjoy, not just to taste and judge.


This process is no easy thing. Imagine going through this entire process to taste your product and find it wanting. Worse, imagine suffering the process to find your product useless and undrinkable. Imagine that the final product -many barrels of it- simply stinks! It takes a huge amount of time to grow, cultivate, harvest, press, tweak, and bottle. The commitment to make wine is no small task.

It is a tradition and an art thousands of years old. It is a tradition that takes copious attention, time, dedication, serious knowledge, along with the willingness to fail miserably and the experience gained by trial and error, before someone with no knowledge can judge it (or simply imbibe it).


This tradition is noble and serving, for it allows us to to stand back, simply choose a bottle amongst hundreds and thousands, then pop the cork, and taste it with no involvement in the risk beyond a few dollars and a moment of our time. Or we can take the time to taste the moment, appreciate all the steps and parts in the development and growth of this living, evolving liquid, and begin the final step in wine’s evolutionary process.


To the winemakers, the farmers, the hands in the fields, the harvesters, all who stress and strain and suffer to make a luscious wine- I bow my head, bend my knee and tip my hat in honest thanks and gratitude to your passion, which serves my passion!

So after all this, how do I come full circle, having the stones to stand up and say “to hell with tradition”?


Just get that song out of my head. “Let it go, let it gooooooo….” yes, that might do the trick, and let’s open another bottle of wine. CHEERS! (clink!)

à votre santé!



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