Men are from Cabernet, Women are from Schioppettino?

Men are from Cabernet,  Women are from Schioppettino? How to spot a future WINE EXPO-ista in 30 seconds: Last year a couple visiting from the nation’s capitol dashed in to your favorite wine emporium to get a gift on the way to a birthday celebration. Within less than a minute the husband says, “Let’s go, I’ve never heard of any of these wines…”, to which the wife replies, “I know, isn’t that wonderful, it will take a couple of hours just to explore this place!”. Dagwood, figuring he had to...

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Guarding the Global Cellar

A Musical / Vinous blast from the past: Hot List 7.23.02: Guarding the Global Cellar This week we heard the sad news that one of our greatest inspirations, musicologist Alan Lomax, had passed away after dedicating more than seventy years to recording, preserving and evangelizing about what he called The Global Juke Box, meaning the incredibly diverse musical heritage of the human race. In his quest to make the songs and hence the stories, emotions and histories of every nook and cranny of not just the US but the...

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Fruit? We don’t need no stiiiiinkin’ Fruit!

The Sayings of Chairman Dave:  Fruit? We don’t need no stiiiiinkin’ Fruit! “Much of what American wine-drinkers drink with their meals has flashy young fruit in it…. most of what wine journals recommend is jerry-rigged with ‘fruit bombs’ … In my experience, however, fruit in general only serves to make wine glossier, to make it more capable of standing out at a wine judging…. It does not make wine any better with food. In fact, I contend, the presence of fruit in a wine is, generally...

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Wine? What is it FOR anyway?

Wine? What is it FOR anyway? You may have heard us say that “Most wine is not SUPPOSED to be ART, it’s Groceries!” meaning that, in general, wine is meant to a normal part of everyday meals as a help to both digestion and conviviality. Accordingly, we would just as soon see you buy a case of good “everyday stuff” as a bottle of Riserva Brunello for the same price. But, mostly for amusement, we do often “lurk” on the sort of Internet Wine Boards where a tiny minority of the wine buying population post...

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Wine + Music = Bliss!

Wine + Music = Bliss!

If music be the fruit of life……pour me another!  Great tunes to enhance your Beverage Experience (We don’t sell these!) For those of you who wonder about our music fixation, the reason we have such cool wines here is that we apply everything we learned ferreting out the best records in the cut-outs at Woolworths in the seventies to finding great libations in today’s frantically churning market. For a direct fix, go here to listen to Roberto and WINE EXPO-ista Tom Schnabel playing the NEW...

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Red Wine Headaches? We can help!

I can’t drink red wine. It gives me headaches & hives…it’s the sulfites*, you know. We have no doubt that many of you suffer from these reactions and don’t dispute that they can be caused by some red wines but the premise of this absolute statement is that there is only one type of red wine: big bruising tannic monsters in the mold of reserve style Cabs and Bordeaux from “big” vintages. In fact, there is a very large range of red wine styles that should give you no problem if a few common...

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The Zen of Shibui…

While reading Bravo (a VERY highbrow Brazilian culture magazine that weighs in on conceptual art, modern dance and avant garde classical music but also finds the music of Prince and Morphine worthy of mention), we found a wonderful article by the linguistics columnist praising the English language (and encouraging Lusophones to follow suit) for its ability to assimilate words from other languages that express precise concepts with no English equivalent. Examples he thought would be useful for brazilians included...

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Virtual Sweetness? Tricks your brain plays on you unveiled….

Overheard regularly in our store when we suggest the perfect wine for a customer’s (highly ethnic) menu: “But that wine is made from Riesling (or Moscato or Traminer or many other related varietals), isn’t it sweet?” “No, actually it’s drier than that Chardonnay you have in your hand.” Since we sell a LOT of aromatic whites that SMELL like honey, candied fruit, tropical flowers and even fancy bath soap but are BONE DRY (and amazing with Thai, Sicilian, Indian, Persian and other highly spiced...

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Musings & Meditations on Perfection, Brasilian Style…

While in Rio de Janeiro last January we came across the following essay in O Globo by Arnaldo Jabor on the search for perfection (in this case the “perfect” wine, a 1947 Chateau Cheval Blanc): “…I examined the wine from all angles and here I struck the truth, cruel and not open to appeal: The wine does not exist. There only exists the IDEA of the wine, an abstract and platonic conception of it. In the case of this wine, the actual wine destroys the imagined wine, the wine we have always dreamed of...

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Acquired Tastes

We sell a LOT of things that the average person may not “get” on the first exposure. Many of the most fulfilling and intense pleasures require a familiarization process (during which IT doesn’t change, YOU do): For starters, dry red wine, duh! Most people’s first reaction is NOT love at first sip. Serious Jazz / Modern Orchestral Music. Unsweetened Chocolate. Smokey Islay Scotch or Mezcal de Oaxaca. Modern Art and Literature. Foie Gras, Truffles, Uni and many other intense foods. Just because...

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Put Contextual Doppelgängers to work for you…

Reading through an old online argument about how one had to understand the local wine and food culture to have any idea what to say about certain styles of wine (in this case sparkling Barbera meant to be served cold with salty cured meats), we came across this Q&A between a friend of ours (yo, Bruce!) and Roberto : “What’s so culturally relevant about selling farmhouse wines from Italy in SoCal where authentic Cibo Italiano is hard to come by and Dim Sum, BBQ, Oaxacan, Thai, Persian and Korean...

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There’s no such thing as Italian wine…

First time visitor to your favorite Wine Emporium: “So, you guys sell a lot of Italian Wine…I don’t really like Italian wine…” Our retort: “That’s ok because there’s really no such thing as Italian wine anyway.” Say WHAT?!?! What we DO offer are hundreds of different styles of wine made from scores of different grapes grown in vineyards with locations ranging from steep Alpine slopes on the Swiss and Austrian borders through the broad plains of the Po Valley all the way to a...

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Protecting the Faith in the Motherland

The following is the text of a talk Roberto gave at Vinitaly a while back to 40 highly esteemed wine producers from all over Italy (which received a standing ovation): “I have been asked to comment on what changes I have seen in the last fifteen years of coming to VinItaly. I would say that in that time the average quality of wines across the board has increased by three fold. BUT, the average conformity of style has increased ten fold and you must realize that in the future, when all wines taste the...

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Crepuscule with Nebbiolo….How Monk and The Duke help us select Wine

By request, a rantatorial from days of yore:   Crepuscule with Nebbiolo…. How Monk and The Duke help us select Wine Some of you have noted that Roberto is quoted in the recent biography of Robert Parker, Jr.,The Emperor of Wine, invoking yet more musical influences in our thought processes about wine. So, just what DOES it mean when we say, “Thelonious Monk has more to do with the types of wines we select and the way we select them than Robert Parker does”?!? Well, many of you have seen...

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WINE EXPO’s Platform for 2012

Ok, we’ve heard from the Republicans, Democrats, Radio nutballs of all stripes AND some guy in a clown suit on the Promenade. The election is over but we still have to fight traffic, go to work in the morning and pay our taxes. So, here is OUR manifesto for the coming millennium wherein we affirm that we are NOT trying to be all things to all people but DO have enough substance to please most anyone with an open mind:   We can be liberal: Since the “Old Grapes Network” is so thoroughly entrenched...

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You’ve come a long way, Baby, so don’t stop now!

You’ve come a long way, Baby, so don’t stop now!

Warning: this editorial is for our female patrons only!*** Ladies, have you noticed there is a pseudo religion surrounding the selection and consumption of wine, a product that should be intrinsically more akin to groceries than art? A strange way of thinking that seeks to narrow the discussion by eliminating whole styles and countries full of wine so that direct (sports / warlike) comparisons can be made, always trying to quantify the impossibly diverse with scores and classifications then dictate absurd rituals...

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How the Internet can help you give more thoughtful gifts

How the Internet can help you give more thoughtful gifts

Ten times a day we hear the following sad refrain:  “I KNOW that you guys have things that are so much better and cheaper than __________ (insert over-hyped and over priced wine / champagne featured on MTV Cribs or Life Styles of the Rich and Vacant) but if I give it as a gift how will they KNOW that?”  Well, aside from our faith that most people can recognize something truly wonderful if you put it in their mouths, these days they (or their people) can just google the name of the wine (on their PHONE) and...

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Thanksgiving Wine Musings

Thanksgiving Wine Musings

What to do when twenty or so of your nearest and dearest, their appetites enraged by the waft of Grandmothers secret stuffing recipe coming from the kitchen, are eyeballing all those great wines you have squirreled away for the future (or at least to be appreciated by your knowing friends)? No occasion lends itself to our selection of great food-friendly, crowd pleasing, popularly priced quaffers than Thanksgiving. So, we’ve gone out of our way to find some truly phenomenal wines at incredible prices that...

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Important Consumer Information

Due to our low, low prices and warehouse-style layout, many people mistakenly compare our store to “Pirate John’s”, a chain of natural food liquidators who dabble in the wine business. While we also buy our cheese and dried fruit there and often feature merchandise from bankruptcies and close-outs here, we beg to differ with their theory that cooked $20 dollar wine becomes a good value if they sell it for $2.99. Sorry, “John”, that just makes it cheap bad wine! You can be confident that every label in...

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Swimming with Sharks…a Love Story

We send this in our e-mail hot list in November of each year…it never gets old! We would like to start with our heartfelt condolences to all of you assistants, secretaries and go-fers out there whose boss is about to plop down the year end issue of an (overly!) influential wine rag with their Top 100 Wines of the Year and tell you that your continued employment depends on finding him a case each of the top five or ten listed. Do not bother trying to tell him that the list is a compendium of wines highly...

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