10 Best Carignan Wines to Buy Now + 5 Surprising Facts about Carignan

It’s hard to imagine that the Carignan grape used to play such a big role in France’s wine history, yet most wine drinkers have never heard of Carignan. Today, this red wine grape is mostly used as a blending wine, known for its rich dark color. You’ll find my Top 10 Carignan reviews and ratings here. 5 Surprising Facts about Carignan: 1. In France, Carignan was the most planted grape variety from the 1960s to 2000.  In fact, in the late 90s there were more than 150,000 acres of Carignan vines planted in France. 2. Why so popular?  Two words: large […]

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10 Best Barbera Wines to Buy Now + 5 Surprising Facts about Barbera

Barbera is both the name of a grape and of the red wine it produces. Its ancestral home is in the Piedmont region of Northern Italy, from the vineyards around the towns of Asti, Alexandria and Casale Monferrato. You’ll find my Top 10 Barbera reviews and ratings here. 5 Surprising Facts about Barbera: 1. Unlike Barolo and Barberesco, Barbera is not considered a classic grape. It is Italy’s most common red grape. 2. In 1985 Barbera producers added methanol to their wines. Thirty people died as a result, and many were left with affected sight including blindness. The fallout from bad […]

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10 Best Petit Verdot Wines to Buy Now + 5 Surprising Facts about Petit Verdot

Petit Verdot is most famously associated with the Bordeaux blend, and is added to the blend to increase the tannin, colour and flavour. You’ll find my Top 10 Petit Verdot reviews and ratings here. 5 Surprising Facts about Petit Verdot: 1. It usually only makes up 1-3% of the Bordeaux blend, which also includes the grapes Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec. The exception is Chateau Palmer, in which it is 6% of the blend due to the vineyard’s microclimate. 2. Petit Verdot can be a problem vine, as it ripens late in the season, if at all. It has […]

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10 Best Petite Sirah Wines to Buy Now + 5 Surprising Facts about Petite Sirah

There’s nothing petite about Petite Sirah. The robust red grape is also known as Durif and is mostly grown in Australia and California to produce full-bodied red wines. You’ll find my Top 10 Petite Sirah reviews and ratings here. 5 Surprising Facts about Petite Sirah: 1. Petite Sirah it should not be mistakenly spelled as Petite Syrah, which is a small berried clone of the Syrah grape variety from the French region of the Rhône Valley. However, Petite Sirah still has a familial connection to Syrah, as it is a cross of a Syrah pollen-germinating with a Peloursin plant which is […]

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10 Best Chateauneuf-du-Pape Wines to Buy Now + Surprising Facts about Chateauneuf-du-Pape

Chateauneuf-du-Pape is the most southern and important quality-driven appellation in the southern Rhone Valley. You’ll find my top 10 Chateauneuf-du-Pape reviews and ratings here. Surprising Facts about Chateauneuf-du-Pape: The history of Chateauneuf-du-Pape can be traced back to the 14th century when the papal court of Rome relocated to Avignon, close to a limestone quarry for construction purposes. Pope Clement V arrived in Avignon in 1309 during the rebuilding of the papal summer quarters in Calcernier. He ordered the planting of grape vines. His successor John XXII is credited with developing the papal vineyard. This area became known as Chateauneuf-du-Pape, which […]

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10 Best Primitivo Wines to Buy Now + 5 Surprising Facts about Primitivo

Primitivo is an Italian red grape that many wine drinkers recognize by its American counterpart Zinfandel, although the grape’s true origin is Croatia, where the grape is known as Crljenak Kaštelanski. Some have taken to calling Primitivo ZPC to include all three grape names as an acronym, even though it doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue the way the wine does. You’ll find my Top 10 Primitivo reviews and ratings here. 5 Surprising Facts about Primitivo: 1. Primitivo has been grown in the heel of Italy, Puglia, since the 18th century, where it is now roughly the twelfth most planted grape […]

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10 Best Sangiovese Wines to Buy Now + 5 Surprising Facts about Sangiovese

Did you know that the Latin name for Sangiovese, Sanguis Jovis (San Gioveto), translates to “blood of Jove or Jupiter”? The first written reference to the grape was in 1722. You’ll find my Top 10 Sangiovese reviews and ratings here. 5 Surprising Facts about Sangiovese: 1. Sangiovese represents 10% of Italy’s entire vineyard acreage, the most-planted grape in the country, with 247,000 acres. 2. Until the 1980s, Chianti was bottled in squat oval straw-covered fiasci. It was viewed a modest bistro wine rather than one for collectors. Then winemakers started experimenting with premium blends of Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon or […]

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10 Best Barolo Wines to Buy Now + 5 Surprising Facts about Barolo

Barolo is a full-bodied red wine produced in the northern Italian region of Piemonte. Barolo means “commune” in Italian. Widely termed “the wine of kings, the king of wines” among the nobility of Turin and the ruling House of Savoy.  You’ll find my Top 10 Barolo reviews and ratings here. 5 Surprising Facts about Barolo: 1. This powerful DOCG red wine is made from the late-ripening Nebbiolo grape. Barolo tends to be light rust in colour. Barolo is often described as one of Italy’s greatest wines. 2. Traditional Barolos were known for their ability to age. These red wines extract lots […]

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10 Best Amarone Wines to Buy Now + 5 Surprising Facts about Amarone

Amarone della Valpolicella, which roughly translates to “strongly bitter,” describes this robust, rich red wine made in Valpolicella, in the northeast region of Italy called Veneto. You’ll find my top 10 Amarone reviews and ratings here. 5 Surprising Facts about Amarone: 1. The best and ripest of the dark-skinned grapes that are blended to create Amarone include Corvina, Molinara and Rondinella. These are carefully selected during harvest and gently stored for several months after harvest in cool, well-ventilated rooms on straw mats so that they dry, dehydrate and concentrate their sugars and flavors. 2. When they’re almost shriveled like raisins, they’re […]

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20 Red Wines Under $20 > Nat’s Conscious Coupling of Quality and Price

I’m always making lists of wines for different occasions and different price points. Ever since my second book, Unquenchable: A Tipsy Search for the World’s Best Bargain Wines, was published, I’m frequently asked for the best wines priced less than $20. Here they are … I’ll be updating this list monthly. (My thanks to Gwyneth Paltrow for the inspirational title ;) Here’s your shopping list showing your closest liquor stores that have these wines in stock, and how many of each bottle. Cheers! Oscar’s Estate Vineyard Shiraz Viognier 2011 Barossa Valley, South Australia   $17.95 This could be the ultimate hamburger […]

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