Watch Me On Table Talk Northwest

Posted on: February 20th, 2014 by

Hey, do you know Jamie Peha, the dynamic force behind Table Talk Northwest? She corralled me (note: I was willing and eager) at the Washington State Wine Awards for a little on-camera chat. What did we talk about? Oh, so many things! Like:

I am looking forward to reuniting with Jamie this weekend, whether the cameras are running or not. I’ll be attending the Seattle Wine and Food Experience as an invited media guest. The event is her creation, and if you live in the Seattle area and are free Sunday afternoon (that’s the 23rd of February) you should totally go.

 (Confidential to Butterscotch: I miss you, girl. And thanks for the photo, Shawn O’Connor.)


Two of a kind.











Can Mourvèdre from Washington State Compete With France?

Posted on: February 16th, 2014 by


You probably won’t be surprised to find out that this photo was not taken in Eastern Washington. Rather, it’s an image of Bandol, a storied wine region in Provence that’s very close to the sea. The most famous red wines from Bandol are made from the Mourvèdre; it’s said that the grape likes to “see the ocean”. In other words, Mourvèdre thrives when it can enjoy a seaside climate. (Just like many people.) The polar opposite of what you’ll find in Washington State’s wine country.

Recently I tasted a wine made from primary Mourvèdre (90%), the 2011 Gramercy Cellars L’Idiot du Village, that got me curious about its potential in Washington. And how it compares to Bandol. Gramercy Cellars Founder and Winemaker, Greg Harrington, was kind enough to address this question. And he also revealed how the name of the wine came from a time when he thought himself a bit of a village idiot. Read the whole story on Grape Collective:

Greg Harrington of Gramercy Cellars Talks Mourvèdre

Bandol photo via Sarahnaut.

Wine and Opera: Puccini with Bordeaux, Mozart with Chablis

Posted on: February 11th, 2014 by

The Garnier opera house

One of the many things I love about wine is discovering the stories behind the people who ultimately decided to dedicate their lives to it. Like Jessica Certo. She went from being an opera singer to a sommelier in New York City. I interviewed her over the phone recently, and she revealed:

  • The wine that changed everything for her.
  • How her opera background helps her as a sommelier.
  • What high rollers on Wall Street like to drink.
  • The best opera and wine pairings.

You can read the whole interview on Grape Collective.

How about some poetry and wine pairings? Geez, I am really classing up this blog!

 Garnier Opera House image courtesy Madolan Greene.

Valentine’s Day Poems and Matching Sparkling Rosés to Inspire

Posted on: February 5th, 2014 by


I don’t know much about poems let alone ones for Valentine’s Day. Luckily, I know Annelies from The Food Poet. We somewhat recently reconnected at the International Food Blogger Conference (IFBC) in Seattle, and talked about doing a little poetry and wine collaboration. I’d like to say that when we talked at IFBC in September, we had a clever plan to let this idea simmer until right before Valentine’s Day, but, full disclosure, that was not the case. I, however, chalk it up to serendipity that it should happen on the approach of this holiday of romance.

The plan: Pick four locations (three countries and one state) and provide four recommendations. Representative of each place, Annelies selects the work of a poet and I suggest a sparkling rosé.

Please read Annelies’ extended thoughts on each book. Not only does she have an MFA in Poetry, she’s a delight to spend time with and discuss a multitude of non-poetic topics with good cheer. (And possibly while enjoying a glass of wine.)

jane ventura bottle


The poems: “Panic Cure: Poetry from Spain for the 20th Century”, edited and translated by Forrest Gander

This is an innovative collection of modern poems from Spain that provide the “cure” for the “panic” of cracking open tradition and venturing down a new poetic path.

The wine: Jane Ventura Reserva de la Música Rosé

Normally I’m not a fan of Spain’s still rosés made from the Garnacha (Grenache) grape. I find them too dark and heavy. But this Jane Ventura (though quite dark) is a lovely, impressive wine with a beautiful label to boot.


The poems: “Illuminations” by Arthur Rimbaud, translated by John Ashbery

This was his last manuscript of poems he gave his former lover Paul Verlaine thinking he might try and get them published, but instead Verlaine has been known to have complained about the postage of the packet. Lush, lovely poems that read quite differently from the others in this collection.

The wine: Antech Cremant de Limoux “Emotion”

Textbook pale, elegant sparkling rosé, just in case you need some extra emotion on Valentine’s Day. But you’ve got that covered, right?


The poems: “Listening Long and Late” by Peter Everwine

I couldn’t resist. I mean his name has wine in it! but seriously, he is a storyteller and imbues such beautiful music in his poems.

The wine: Roederer Estate Brut Rosé

This sparkling wine, a California project of an esteemed Champagne house, took me by surprise at a recent sparkling wine tasting with loads of heavy-hitters present.

isla negra

I visited Pablo Neruda’s home in Isla Negra in 2009.


The poems: “Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair” by Pablo Neruda, translated by W.S. Merwin

This is a classic. Really. Almost everyone who thinks Neruda and poetry it’s because of this collection. Even people who don’t like poetry make an exception.

The Wine: Santa Digna Estelado Rosé

Made from old vine País, a grape historically relegated to bulk wine production. But since Valentine’s Day and bulk wine are two things you don’t want together, ever, experience it transformed into a wonderfully unique sparkling rosé.

So Annelies and I have practically gift-wrapped Valentine’s Day for you. No excuse not to warm the heart of that someone special in your life. And if you are single, remember that it never hurts to be well-versed when it comes to poetry and wine.

PS: Thank you for the book photo, Annelies.

Old Vine País

William Allen of Two Shepherds: The Surprising Life of a Winemaker

Posted on: February 4th, 2014 by


You ever wonder what it takes to become a winemaker? And then decide to go pro? I had a chance to chat with William Allen, who is the Owner/Winemaker/Chief Barrel-washer, etc of Two Shepherds in California. I got to know William originally through the world of blogging and have had the chance to hang out with him IRL. His tiny production wines, inspired by France’s storied Northern and Southern Rhone regions, should be on your radar if you want to break out of a Napa Cabernet and Chardonnay rut. And you can learn more about William and his wines on my Wine Without Worry podcast. The show, and my conversation with William, raised many questions that you will find the answers to:

  • Tasting, blending, driving all over the place to pick up grapes. Is he crazy to go it alone?
  • What does it take to turn your hobby into a commercial venture ?
  • What is Troussau Gris and why is Two Shepherds’ pink in color?
  • What is it about France’s Rhone region that inspired William?
  • Would William disrupt my romantic date if I had a bottle of his Grenache Blanc in an ice bucket?
  • What makes for a good breakfast wine?
  • Why am I spitting out so much wine? Where’s the swallowing?
  • How can cold soup help you appreciate the complexities of white wine?

Two Shepherds

The second part of the show is dedicated to trying four of William’s wines that he generously sent me to sample. Wines tasted:

2012 Grenache Blanc (Saraloos Vineyard, Santa Ynez Valley)

2012 Trousseau Gris (Fanucchi Vineyard, Russian River Valley)

2011 Syrah (Saralee’s Vineyard, Russian River Valley)

2011 Syrah/Mourvedre (Saralee’s Vineyard, Russian River Valley/El Dorado)

Check out the color on the Trousseau Gris. It’s a white grape, but (spoiler alert!) gets its hue from extended contact with the grape skins:

Two Shepherds Trousseau Gris

Probably not the start of my new career as a hand model.

So, without further ado, here’s the show:

Get Wine Without Worry on iTunes.

Join Me for Wine on Grape Collective

Posted on: February 3rd, 2014 by

Grape Collective

Extremely excited to announce some big job news. I have accepted a position to become Contributing Editor to Grape Collective. It’s a wine website that not only has a fantastic lineup of contributors, but you can also buy the wines you read about right then and there

I’m going to be creating content (aka “writing”) for them as well as working on editorial and social media strategy. They were kind enough to introduce me via an interview on the site:

Welcoming Jameson Fink as Contributing Editor

Naturally, I discuss 3-liter boxes of Provencal rosé, where the buffaloes are in Buffalo Grove, IL, scratch and sniff books, and my stance on sulfur. Please check it out.


If you are wondering where the heck I am in the photo, it was taken in Spain’s Priorat region, not too far from Barcelona. This dramatic landscape is best known for its intense red wines, but I fell for a surprising white wine make from the Grenache Blanc grape.

Confronting Red Wine and Chocolate With Pleasure and Pocky

Posted on: January 31st, 2014 by


Tis the season for red wine and chocolate, what with the Valentine’s Day festivities upcoming. Not to be a wet blanket (which means I am going to be one), but I’m not particularly fond of red wine and chocolate. At all. Sweet wine? Yes. A porter or stout? Absolutely. For me, the sweetness of the chocolate just does not play nice with a dry red wine. Even the non-cloying, most artisanal, legit chocolate just doesn’t do it for me. But lest you think I am dogmatic and a slave to absolutes when it comes to wine, I bring forth this evidence in my favor from the Twitters:

I’d like to say it had something to do with a food and wine pairing epiphany, like the cookie (aka “biscuit stick”) mitigated the chocolate’s tendency to overwhelm the wine. But really it was just the end of a long day at work, and, returning home, I had a bottle of red wine handy (a Spanish wine made from the Monastrell grape…always a good bet for value. I love the Castaño) as well as a box of Pocky. A feast fit for a bachelor! I ate the whole damn box, then made the mistake of reading the ingredients. Not only were there a lot of tocopherols, which sound bad, but also interesterified sunflower oil, which sounds really bad. I think I googled “interesterified” and then tried to block the definition of it out of my brain.

The point is (Really? There’s a point to all this? Well, Pocky is pointed.) that taste is subjective, sometimes the palate, like the heart, wants what it wants, and there’s a place and a time (10:46pm December 21st, 2013) where pleasure is not something to be overworked in the mind but pursued without pause or pretense.

Pocky photo via RHiNO NEAL.

Announcing A Year of Wine Without Worry: The Digital Magazine

Posted on: January 27th, 2014 by

luca landscape

I was contacted by the team at Luca with a most interesting proposition. They would take my roundup post consisting of all my travels in 2013 and turn it into a digital magazine designed specifically for viewing on iPads and tablets. (It also looks great on your iPhone or smart phone. And will work on your laptop or desktop computer.) The results, frankly, blew me away! This is a totally new way to experience my words and images and, not to sound too corny, but I was greatly moved (maybe even a little misty) when I saw the results. Check out the results here:

West Coast Wines, New York’s High Line, and European Vines: A Year of Wine Without Worry

I’d love to hear your feedback. As a blogger, I think something like this digital magazine can provide a compelling and engaging way to experience stories about the people and places, as well as the solids and liquids, that fuel my passion. And swiping is fun!

A Year of Wine Without Worry

Like football? Bicycles? Check out these two Seattle blogs who have also teamed up with Luca:

Hawk Blogger Weekly Magazine: First Edition!

Introducing the first edition of Seattle Bike Blog Magazine

Four Geeky Wines For Your Drinking Pleasure

Posted on: January 24th, 2014 by

santorini assyrtikoI’m a geek in real life and it certainly spills over to my love of wine. And there’s nothing more I enjoy than sharing this passion with others, especially fellow geeks. Which is why I was geeked to be able to hang out at Bottlehouse with Mónica Guzmán of GeekWire along with CEO and Founder of CellarTracker, the world’s largest collection of wine reviews and tasting notes, Eric LeVine.

I loved Mónica’s take on the wines, especially when she explained how each has geek cred, even getting some tech terms in the mix. After I explained how Santorini’s astonishing Assyrtiko vines are tended to survive the harsh climate, Mónica opined, “If this wine could code, I bet you’d want it on debug duty.” Read the whole thing:

Drink geek: Four wines to please the geek palate

So what other wines were on our geeky agenda? There was a white wine from Sicily:

occhipinti sicily

A big one-liter bottle of Austrian Zweigelt:

brundlmayer zweigelt

And a fantastic Beaujolais, from one of the top sites, or “Crus”:


What wines make you feel all geeky?

Give Me Anything Fried And Sparkling Wine

Posted on: January 22nd, 2014 by

sparkling wineThis is my mantra when it comes to food and wine pairing: If it’s crispy and fried, it’s probably fantastic with sparkling wine.

I further extol this ethos on my exciting return to Dabble Magazine, picking up where I left off with my “There’s an App for That” column. The editors throw an auspiciously appetizing appetizer my way and then put me charge of picking the perfect wine match. The upcoming issue is all about Savannah, Georgia, so I will tell you that my dish has a distinctly Southern flair. Naturally, I chose a Canadian sparkling wine to pair with it. Hey, Dabble’s HQ is in Canada. I like to stay in their good graces. And it’s an excellent wine.

Check it out:

There’s An App for That

And look for the new issue of Dabble on January 30th. It’ll warm your winter blues.

dabble savannah