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Wine Bloggers Conference

Basic Merlot with Marisa Taylor of Rutherford Hill

Winemaker Marisa Taylor of Rutherford Hill

Today’s lesson is about the much-abused merlot grape and it’s coming from a winemaker who makes some of the most glorious merlot wine we’ve tasted in a very long time.

We met Marisa Taylor, winemaker for Rutherford Hill, at a tasting event for a local TV station. She’s one of the three winemakers featured in Vintage: Napa Valley 2012, a six-part documentary on winemaking. We met her again at the Wine Bloggers Conference in July, where she led a tasting on Napa merlots with P.J. Alviso, Director of Estate Viticulture for Duckhorn

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Getting on in the Tasting Room

This one begins with a shout out to our friends at the Pasadena Enterprise Car Rental office, mostly because it was Tanya whose question suggested this post.

You see, Tanya and Anne were chatting about wine tasting. Tanya had recently been up to Malibu and we’d just gotten back from a weekend in Santa Barbara and Lompoc. And Tanya was a little surprised when Anne said she’d been spitting a good part of the weekend.

Okay, spitting your wine out after you’ve just tasted it does sound really gross. It’s not that bad, especially if you remember to bring

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Why You Want Méthode Champenoise for Valentine’s Day

We tasted Breathless Sparkling Wines a couple years ago at the Family Winemakers tasting event and loved them. Turns out there was a good reason why – they’re made by a friend of ours, Penny Gadd-Coster. Not only does Penny have her own label, Coral Mustang, since 2007 she’s been Executive Director of Winemaking at Rack & Riddle, a winery and custom crush facility in Hopland, California. (A custom crush facility is a place where people with grapes can go to make wine commercially without buying and/or building a whole winery.)

Breathless is owned by Rebecca Faust, co-owner of Rack

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How to Buy Wine for Your Party

So you’ve decided to take the plunge and have a real New Year’s Eve party. Or you’ve invited the family over for Christmas Dinner. Or you just want to have a party because it’s the end of the year and it would be fun.

Or at least you thought it would be fun when you sent the invites out. Now that said event is staring you in the face, you’re feeling that cold rock in your tummy and wondering what the heck were you thinking? You want to serve wine, but have no clue what to buy or how

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How to Match Wines to Your Thanksgiving Dinner

There is nothing worse than taking a big gulp of orange juice after a big bite of maple syrupy pancakes. All you can taste is sour, sour, sour. Blech!

Well, that, dear friends, is exactly what makes pairing wines with your Thanksgiving Dinner such a challenge. You’ve got your savory turkey, dressing and mashed potatoes and gravy – flavors that scream for a good, rich red with good, solid acidity. And then as soon as you dive into the sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce – yeesh! All you can taste is the sourness of the acids in the wine.

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Alice Feiring Explains Natural Wine

Alice Feiring chats with winemaker

When Anne chatted with wine critic Alice Feiring last fall, the conversation kind of went all over the place – as it is wont to do when wine people get talking about their favorite subject. Feiring, who had just launched her newsletter, The Feiring Line, has been writing about wine since 1990. She said it was something she fell into, as she had been writing about a host of other topics as a freelance journalist.

“I fell into this area of wine technology,” she said, adding that she already had a passion for

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Our Fave Thanksgiving Wine – Beaujolais Nouveau

Let’s be real – most of the time, wine pairing isn’t that tough. You have your basic rule of thumb: white wines with white meat/protein, red wines with red meats/sauces. The idea is that you (generally) want to match the more delicate flavors of a white wine with the more delicate flavors of chicken or fish, while you want a heartier red wine to go with the heartier flavors of a beef roast or steak. And while that is a pretty basic assessment, it will get you through 80 to 90 percent of the time.

Thanksgiving Dinner, however, is

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Wine Class – Why Learn About Wine?

Welcome to a new feature on OddBallGrape.com: Wine Class. These are posts dedicated to all those who want to learn more about wine, or even refresh what they already know. Feel free to comment and ask questions.

People ask us all the time what’s the big deal with wine? Why are people so obsessed with this nose or that flavor or this grape or who makes the best and 100-point scores and all that stuff?

So the first thing we want to point out is that you do not have to be “into” wine to enjoy it.  If

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