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Halloween Wine Recommendations: What Wine to Serve on Halloween?

Wine doesn't immediately pop to mind when you think of Halloween. IntoWine.com asked a panel of wine experts their thoughts on what wine is a good fit for what is one of the most celebrated holidays:

"I can't think of a better Halloween wine than Poizin by Armida Winery. This wine is perfect to serve if you are throwing a Halloween party or to gift as a guest when attending one. The label is etched with a blood red skull and cross-bones while the bottle top is dipped in in a haunting blood-red candle wax. The bottle itself comes delivered in its own miniature bottle-sized Armida Zinfandelwooden coffin (count on the coffin being quickly claimed by the closest youngster as it's ideal for any kid with even the slightest Halloween inspired imagination). The wine itself is a Reserve Zinfandel, at 15% alcohol it's not your everyday drinking wine but it's fruit forward and will surely be a hit with any Halloween party crowd. Downsides to this wine are that Armida only produces a few dozen cases so it may be hard to find and at $25 a bottle it may be pricey for the the average Halloween party budget. If you are going all out for your Halloween party though, this IS the wine to serve." - Brad Prescott, Founder, IntoWine.com

Top 10 California Syrahs - The Wine List - October 2014

Syrah is a grape that most wine merchants will tell you is a difficult sell.  It seems it’s always going to be the next big thing, but never is.  For consumers, that’s a good thing.  A great Syrah usually will cost far less than a comparable quality Cabernet or Pinot Noir.  For my money, I tend to buy more Syrah than any other grape.  A disclaimer here – I liked it so much, I started to make it. 

In any event, as the temperatures start to drop, fall is great time for a hearty red with dinner or next to a warming fire.  Syrah is a grape that really changes its personality depending on where it is grown.  Cooler climate Syrahs can be quite different from warmer climate ones.  California has plenty of each.  While I love many of the cooler climate Syrahs, most of the ones listed below are warmer climate Syrahs.  In my opinion, that is where the very best of Syrahs from California can be found.

The Top 25 Odd-Ball Wines of California

We all know the standard wine varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Sauvignon Blanc, but there are an astounding 10,000 grape varieties here on Planet Earth. The majority of California vineyard acreage is planted to just eight grape varietals and less than 10 percent is home to grapes few people care about, and even fewer understand, let alone can pronounce. But an accomplished assemblage of odd-ball varietals and their winemaker shepherds champion these grapes. These winemakers are the first and only line of defense against the abyss of sameness. Here in alphabetical order are just 25 (there are more) of the most odd-ball grapes turned into wine in the Golden State, followed by their producer, and location.

Top 25 Most Awesome Tasting Rooms in California

Wine tasting is not merely the act of drinking wine, it is the total experience and that includes the physical space you are standing in when sampling Sauvignon Blanc or pondering Petit Verdot.

Top 50 California Cabernet Sauvignons to Try Before You Quit Drinking (a non-dump bucket list if you will!)

In putting together a list of the top California Cabernets, there is sure to be some disagreement.  I tried to include those wines that have a track record, the wineries still making great wines, those that seemed to have the commitment for the future and some personal favorites.  I am sure I left some out.

1. Shafer Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select – It’s always hard to name the number one wine.  But this has a track record that’s very long.  Even in less than stellar vintages, it is an outstanding wine.  They just don’t seem to make a dud.  My only complaint is the price at over $200 a bottle.  But, in comparison to other Napa Cabs or elsewhere in the world, this is a fair price. 

Top 75 California Wines to Try Before You Quit Drinking (a non-dump bucket list if you will!)

In my last article, I listed the Top 75 French Wines to Try Before You Quit Drinking.  In this article I look at the “non-dump bucket” list for wines from California.  This proved to be a different task.  First, very few wineries have a long track record of making great wine.  Secondly, while California is diverse, it does not have the diversity of climates and terroir and grape varietals of France.  Still, it does produce some of the best wines in the world and any wine lover should make it a point to try as many of them as they can.  Here is my list:

1. Shafer Hillside Select Cabernet Sauvignon – It’s hard to pick the first wine.  This one is a great wine in every vintage and has been for a long time.  Expensive but still possible to afford and made in large enough quantities to be found in grocery stores.  Every lover of Cabernet should try this once.

Top 75 French Wines to Try Before You Quit Drinking (a non-dump bucket list if you will!)

If you are a wine lover, wine connoisseur, wine aficionado or even if you just like to have a couple of glasses on a Friday night, it soon becomes obvious that there are some wines that are held in a higher esteem in the wine world.  Sometimes, it is because these wines are very rare.  Other times, it’s because the wine has a place in history.   Sometimes it’s because the wine is just that good.  Here is a list of 75 wines from France that make up that category.  A few caveats.  I have not tried every wine on this list.  Some I have and others I hope to.  Many of these wines are rare and hard to find.  That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be on the list.  After all, if the opportunity presents itself, go for it. 

The IntoWine.com 2nd Annual “Top 100 Most Influential People in the U.S. Wine Industry" – 2013

Our 2013 iteration of this list is intended as a source of education and discussion. The making of this list is never an easy process. Who are the most influential wine people in the United States, and how exactly do you define ‘influential?’ Does influential mean people who move markets, impact consumers, inspire winemakers, form policy, and create debate? Yes. Though some decry the consolidation of the wine industry (and that is an issue worth considering) we are not trying to suggest who is “good” or “bad” within America’s wine industry. We merely define the Top 100 people, from winemakers to law makers, bankers to bloggers, and sommeliers to celebrities who influence wine; how it is made, marketed, perceived, sold, shipped, purchased, shared and consumed. As was true in 2012, we sought help to assemble this list people from a diverse group of people and we are grateful for their input. And we chose to release it today, January 29th, as it was on this day in 1919 when the pathetic policy of Prohibition was ratified; the effects of this lunatic legislation still evident in our country’s inability to ship and sell wine across state lines. We honor winemakers, wine drinkers and wine lovers of every conceivable demographic. Use this list, comment on it, share it with everyone, learn from it, and continue your joy of being IntoWine.  

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Recent Articles

Top 10 California Syrahs - The Wine List - October 2014

Syrah is a grape that most wine merchants will tell you is a difficult sell.  It seems it’s always going to be the next big thing, but never is.  For consumers, that’s a good thing.  A great Syrah usually will cost far less than a comparable quality Cabernet or Pinot Noir.  For my money, I tend to buy more Syrah than any other grape.  A disclaimer here – I liked it so much, I started to make it. 

In any event, as the temperatures start to drop, fall is great time for a hearty red with dinner or next to a warming fire.  Syrah is a grape that really changes its personality depending on where it is grown.  Cooler climate Syrahs can be quite different from warmer climate ones.  California has plenty of each.  While I love many of the cooler climate Syrahs, most of the ones listed below are warmer climate Syrahs.  In my opinion, that is where the very best of Syrahs from California can be found.

Sonoma’s Celebrity Wineries: Of Emmy’s, Grammy’s and Writer’s Block

It's nice to be a celebrity - people treat you well, you get what you want, you own nice things, and you drink expensive wines. Beyond that you usually have the money to do most anything you would like, say, starting a winery for instance, so you can drink your own expensive wines. Though we have a handful of celebrity-wineries here in Santa Barbara, it is Sonoma that seems to have a lock on celebrities-turned-vignerons. A visit to the bewitching wine country of Sonoma shows the diversity of celebrity styles and their wineries, offering diverse experiences from theatrical to tranquil amid the still rural setting of the Sonoma countryside.

Chianti for Summer - The Wine List - September 2014

Mention Chianti to some people and the last thing they think of is a great quality wine.  They remember the cheap wines in college that came in the straw basket that was better as a candle holder than a wine.  Or worse, that Hannibal Lecter drank Chianti with a man’s liver and fava beans.  There are, however, some really great Chianti’s.  For a brief synopsis of Chianti, here is the first article I ever wrote for IntoWine. 

The Onset of Southern Oregon

There is a saying that when people think of Oregon, they think of the three “Ps” - Portland, Precipitation and Pinot. Yes, there is rain; yes, Portland is a the largest city in the state, and yes the Willamette Valley, south of Portland, is known for Pinot Noir. But Oregon, specifically Southern Oregon, also excels at under-the-radar grape varieties and has an advantage that no other wine region could ever possess – a climate scientist who knows the best possible sites to plant the right varieties on the right soil under the right conditions.