CVIndependent

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Last updateMon, 24 Aug 2020 12pm

Wine

17 Jan 2020
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I love California wine—but perhaps not in the way that you think. California wines are often described with adjectives like powerful, jammy, oaky, buttery, ripe, intense and concentrated—but it’s descriptors like these that make my stomach turn and have me reaching for the nearest can of Modelo. Yes, the flavor profiles that have become synonymous with mainstream California wines are the very attributes I loathe in a wine. In the world of wine geekdom, loving California wine—in all its over-extracted glory—is often associated with being a pedestrian wine-drinker: You needed a wine to punch you in the face with its flavors and aromas in order to appreciate it. Bigger is better, right? This is how the California wine industry defined itself and how it found unparalleled success with the cocktail-to-wine converts. But there is another wine story beginning to emerge—a story that is compelling and exciting, being written by young,…
15 Dec 2019
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As we approach the start of the new year, I’ve been reflecting on my time here in the desert since moving back from Napa a few years ago. The one thing that I have realized is how much I underestimated the wine savvy—or better yet, the sense of exploration—of the wine consumers here. When I first started buying wine for a retail space, my overall goal was to bring in wines that were more esoteric, more global, more natural—and more fun! I wanted to start steering away from the mass produced “grocery store” wines toward wines that were created by small producers—farmers and winemakers with deep roots, but perhaps shallow pockets. One at a time, I brought in a quirky label, and then another, and then an unheard-of varietal—hoping that maybe a hipster out of Los Angeles would stumble in and buy some, or maybe someone would trust me enough…
18 Nov 2019
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I have a love-hate relationship with pouring at wine-tasting events. On one hand, there is nothing in the world that I love more than having a platform and a captive audience with whom I get to share my passion and enthusiasm for wine. I get a thrill seeing the expression on a person’s face when they try a wine for the first time—and they love it. They didn’t even know something like this existed, and now they can’t get enough of it. I, in turn, get to “geek out,” filling their head with a ton of useless information about the history of the grape, how it’s cultivated, and the wars, political upset and economic devastation this little vine had to endure. I have goosebumps as I write. I live for this stuff. On the other hand, I have to constantly attempt to debunk certain wine myths that people cling to…
17 Oct 2019
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I know precious little about beer. Aside from some pedestrian lingo about lagers and IPAs and plebeian fermentation knowledge, I’m pretty clueless—and as someone who is an “expert” about wine, this is a sad and shameful fact. The truth is, when I was a kid, everyone around me drank Budweiser or Kokanee out of a can. When I got into college, Sam Adams was the height of beer-drinking sophistication; wanting to be a “cool kid,” I did my best to choke it down. But I just didn’t understand what all the fuss was about: It was bitter and ashy and gave me cottonmouth—not exactly what I wanted in a nice, cold beverage. As time went on, and the craft-beer scene started to explode, I continued my efforts to drink “serious” beer and really did my damnedest to “get it” … but the more time passed, the worse the beer got.…
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…