10 Best Sparkling Wines to Buy Now + 5 Surprising Facts about Bubbly

Sparkling wines made outside of Champagne, France, may not be called Champagne as it’s a trademarked term. However, they often use the same methods and/or grapes used in Champagne. 5 Surprising Facts about Sparkling Facts: 1. Bubblies made in Burgundy, France, are called Crémants de Bourgogne while those from Alsace are Crémant d’Alsace. 2. Spain makes Cavas (“cave”), Italy makes either Prosecco (lightly sparkling) or Spumante (fully sparkling and sweet), Germany makes Sekt or Deutscher. 3. Those from New World regions, such as Canada, California, Australia and elsewhere, are simply called sparkling wine. 4. Drink bubbly from a flute glass […]

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10 Best Brunello di Montalcino Wines to Buy Now + 5 Surprising Facts about Brunello di Montalcino

Brunello di Montalcino is a robust Italian red wine grape produced in vineyards in and around the town of Montalcino, about 120 km south of Florence in Tuscany. The word Brunello is derived from the Italian masculine form Bruno, which means “brown.” You’ll find my top 10 Brunello di Montalcino reviews and ratings here. 5 Surprising Facts about Brunello di Montalcino: 1. The origins of Brunello di Montalcino can be traced back as far as the 14th century. A red wine praised by the nobles of Tuscany as the “best wine in Tuscany,” Brunello is considered the youngest of Italy’s […]

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10 Best Nero d’Avola Wines to Buy Now + 5 Surprising Facts about Nero d’Avola

Nero d’Avola is one of the most important red wine grapes in Sicily and increasingly in Italy as a whole. You’ll find my top 10 Nero d’Avola reviews and ratings here. 5 Surprising Facts about Nero d’Avola: 1. Nero d’Avola is named after Avola, a small town in South East Sicily. Several hundred years ago Nero d’Avola was known as “The Black Grape of Avola.” Nero d’Avola is also known as Calabrese, which lends to the idea that Nero d’Avola originated in Calabria on mainland Italy at the tip of the boot. 2. The best Nero d’Avola comes from the […]

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Wine Critic Writes with Humor and Contagious Passion

By Jessica Yadegaran For someone who grew up in a whiskey-drinking Scottish family, Natalie MacLean has come a long way in wine. Today, the Le Cordon Bleu World Food Media Award winner is Canada’s answer to Jancis Robinson. She is a critic who writes about wine with humor and contagious passion. She counts Kermit Lynch, Rex Pickett and Gary Vaynerchuk among her fans. Her best-selling books, “Red, White, and Drunk All Over” (Bloomsbury, 2007) and “Unquenchable” (Perigee, 2011), share tips on hunting the world’s best bargain wines. But these days, MacLean’s website, which she launched in 2000, is a go-to […]

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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 Grenache Wines to Buy Now + 5 Surprising Facts about Grenache

Grenache or Grenache Noir (pronounced gren-aash) is also known as Garnacha in Spain, and as Cannonau in Corsica and Sardinia, Italy. You’ll find my Top 10 Grenache reviews and ratings here. 5 Surprising Facts about Grenache: 1. The best Grenache grapes come from old vines and low yields and they are generally blended with other varieties such as Syrah, Mourvedre, Carignan, Tempranillo and Cinsaut. It is usually in a blend, rather than a single varietal wines, because Grenache lacks tannin, colour, and acid. However, the exception to this is the Sardinian D.O.C. wine Cannonau di Sardegna, which is by law 99% […]

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

Mourvedre (Mourvèdre) is a warm-climate red wine grape grown in many regions, including the Rhone Valley and Provence in France, Valencia and Jumilla in Spain, California, Washington State and Australia. You’ll find my Top 10 Mourvèdre reviews and ratings here. 5 Surprising Facts about Mourvèdre: 1. Mourvedre is a Spanish vitis vinifera grape, first grown in Murviedro, a small town near Valencia. Mourvedre is easier to grow in Spain than in the cooler region of southern France where it is more susceptible to disease. 2. Mourvedre, or Monastrell as it is known in Spain, is declining in plantings there, but is […]

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

Carmenère is most widely planted in Chile, however, Carmenère did not get its start in Chile. You’ll find my Top 10 Carmenère reviews and ratings here. 5 Surprising Facts about Carmenère: 1. Carmenère originated in the Medoc region of Bordeaux, France. 2. Used in France initially as a blending wine, or to produce deep dark wines, it disappeared from Europe in the mid 19th Century and showed up in Chile a hundred years later and has since become Chile’s premium grape. 3. Carmenère, a member of the Cabernet family of grapes, is the French word for Crimson (carmin), and is known as […]

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

Syrah is a dark-skinned red wine grape grown throughout the world, used primarily in the production of red wine. Syrah is one of the most noble and most fashionable red wine grapes in the world. You’ll find my Top 10 Syrah reviews and ratings here. 5 Surprising Facts about Syrah: 1. In 2004, Syrah was the 7th most planted varietal in the world. Today it is estimated that Syrah is now 5th most planted wine grape in the world. 2. Syrah has a long history in the Southern Rhone region of France of producing fine wines since Roman times. 3. In […]

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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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