CVIndependent

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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Wine

16 Sep 2019
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“Katie wine” is a moniker that has followed me for years. Sometimes it’s said as a joke, as in: “Ohh, that’s a ‘Katie wine.’ You probably won’t like it,” meaning it’s funky, earthy, savory or just plain weird. Other times, “Katie wine” has taken on a more positive definition, like: “I grabbed this bottle of wine I’ve never heard of and want to give it a try! It looked like a ‘Katie wine!’” Either way, it’s no secret that my wine tastes are fairly specific. At my educational wine tastings, I always try to represent wines that cross the spectrum stylistically. For the whites, there’s always something zippy, high-acid and tart; I also include a round, full-bodied, rich style. For the reds, I’ll show a light-bodied, fresh and fruity wine; I’ll throw in an “old-world” varietal from Italy or France that has some earthiness and a rustic quality; and then…
20 Aug 2019
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Every now and then, wonderful things come out of not-so-wonderful experiences. This fact has never been truer for me than the outcome that resulted from a snarky but well-intentioned article I wrote regarding my brief encounters in Temecula wine country. The purpose of the original piece was not to lambaste the entire region, but to shine a light on the Temecula “wineries” that somehow receive the most visitor attention … without themselves actually paying any attention to the wines. I really wanted to get a chance to do the “Temecula, Part 2: The Redemption” story, but truthfully, I was nervous that it might not happen. Even though I was serious when I said I hadn’t given up on Temecula, I feared there was a possibility that Temecula wasn’t worth saving, wine-wise. Thankfully, my fears were unfounded. What followed was an email from a winery in Temecula that invited me to…
16 Jul 2019
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I am always amazed by “I never/I only” wine-drinkers. I encounter them all too frequently when they come into the shop looking for a specific wine. I quickly discover that my suggestions for an alternative selection are futile when the customer informs me they will only drink this one wine. Oh, how terribly boring. These wine-drinkers are like 4-year-old children faced with a new dinner option. “I don’t like it! I won’t eat it! What is it?” Astonishingly, I even encounter a few wine professionals who fall victim to this ideology, although they are more likely to enter the “I never” subset (as in: “I never drink Napa cabernet!”) because they think they know better, or their vast years of experience have led them into some archaic belief system. Maybe you know one of these “I never/I only” people. Or perhaps you are one of these people. If that’s the…
17 Jun 2019
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We have entered the temperature ugh zone, where the only thing anyone can talk about is how disgusting it is outside. Yes, the next few months will be miserable, but as my Canadian grandmother used to say, “The desert is hot, but at least I don’t have to shovel the sand.” While it’s sweltering outside, the idea of popping open your favorite bottle of cabernet might seem repugnant. And maybe you’re the type of person doesn’t love white wine … so what’s a wine-lover to do? The answer: Have no fear! I have your summer wine to-do list right here—and it even includes a rich, brooding and intense red. One of my favorite summer sippers is made by an unlikely duo from the Central Coast of California. Union Sacre is the brainchild of Xavier Arnaudin, a Wine and Spirit Education Trust-certified, oenology degree-holding, ex-boxer-turned-winemaker from France; and Philip Muzzy, a…
16 May 2019
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Everywhere I look these days, wine publications, blogs and even the occasional Cosmopolitan article are all proudly announcing: “Merlot is back!” But is it? I often talk about merlot in my tasting seminars as one of the most underrated varietals in production. Not only it is the primary grape in some of the world's most-expensive wines like Chateau Petrus, Chateau Cheval Blanc and Ornellaia; it has the ability to produce wines that are complex while still being approachable. Its exceptional juiciness and integrated but not overpowering tannins are the very reasons it became so hyper-popular in the ’90s. It was just so damn delicious, velvety and easy to drink. Fast forward to 2004 and a little indie movie that the producers probably thought no one was going to see. By now, we are all familiar with the movie Sideways and how it directly affected the wine industry—skyrocketing the popularity of…
26 Apr 2019
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I’m just not ready to give up on Temecula yet—but if my last two visits are any indication of what Temecula wants to be, then its destiny might already be written. Twelve years ago, I ventured to Temecula for a work trip that slightly masqueraded as a girls’ trip. We all had a great time: The weather was perfect; the food was good; and the hospitality was on point. But one distinct part of the trip does not spark fond memories: We visited about seven wineries over two days, none of which were memorable enough to cite all these years later. I would like to point out that I’m not a “day-drinker,” and when I’m working, I spit all wine. Always have, always will. So the lack of poignant experiences was not because I had over-imbibed, but because they were simply forgettable, at best. What I remember vividly was staying…
19 Mar 2019
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I’ve been working at a wine shop in Palm Desert for about three months now—and I love it! It’s a tiny little space, with a limited number of wines—and because the store is so small, each of the wines is thoughtfully curated. They each serve a purpose and are designed to be the best representation of the region, the price and the varietal. For years, I was a wholesaler of wine. My job was to bring the samples of wines to the buyers of these little independent retail shops and peddle my goods. I was selling wine to other wine professionals, and there was no such thing as getting “too geeky” when it came to describing the wine or telling the story about how the wine came to be. Now I have the honor of being the buyer sitting on the other side of the proverbial table, listening to the…
16 Feb 2019
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My dad is here visiting from Canada, along with 50,000 other people from Canada, and has been enjoying our balmy winter. I, on the other hand, am freezing to death, constantly bundled up in a parka, scarf, wool socks and boots. There is no question: I should have all my Canadian rights revoked for being so cold in 60-degree weather. Because so many of his comrades are also down here, his social calendar is as full as a newly widowed resident at Sun City. We began talking the other morning about food-and-wine pairings, wine gifts and what it means to be a good guest when going to dinner at someone’s home. As someone who entertains often, this is a subject that is very important me—and over the years, I’ve learned some valuable lessons. Guests will often bring flowers or offer to bring a side dish or dessert. This suits me…

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