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

Cava is the name for sparkling wine made in Spain, think of it as the Champagne of Spain, just remember to call it Cava since Champagne may only be used in reference to the sparkling wines from the French region of Champagne. Spain has adopted similar regulations to Champagne, as Cava may only be used to name a wine if it was made using the traditional Méthode Champenoise. You’ll find my most top 10 Cava reviews and ratings here. 5 Surprising Facts about Cava: 1. Most Cava comes from the region of Catalunya where Barcelona is located, in particular the […]

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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 Pinotage Wines to Buy Now + 5 Surprising Facts about Pinotage

Pinotage is South Africa’s best-known red wine grape, even though it is far from the most widely planted variety in the country. It is the iconic grape because it was created in South Africa and has a storied history. You’ll find my most recent Pinotage reviews and ratings here. 5 Surprising Facts about Pinotage: 1. In 1925, at the Stellenbosch University a Professor of Viticulture crossed Pinot Noir with Cinsault (also known as Hermitage) to create the hybrid Pinotage grape. 2. Pinotage is the key component in the “Cape Blend”, a blend that was created to showcase Pinotage’s ability to […]

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

The sparkling wine Champagne is named after the northern region of France where it’s produced. Other regions of France, as well as other countries, make sparkling wine, but only those from Champagne may be called Champagne. You’ll find my most recent Champagne reviews and ratings here. 5 Surprising Facts about Champagne: 1. Supposedly the eighteenth-century blind Benedictine monk, Dom Pérignon, accidentally discovered how to put the bubbles in Champagne when his wines started fermenting again in the spring after the cold winter had stopped them. Other records attribute this discovery to the British scientist Christopher Merret thirty years before Pérignon. […]

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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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