Internet & Wine 4

Excerpted from The Oregonian

Uncork these wine Web sites for fun, useful info

I recently received a press release extolling the new wine-matching function at Epicurious.com, the culinary Web portal for magazines such as Bon Appétit and Gourmet.

Intrigued, I checked out the site. Lo and behold, there they were: long lists of specific wine recommendations, powered by the new wine site snooth.com.

I found this function fascinating. And pretty much useless.

Click on one of the suggested recipes — Grilled Fish Tostadas With Pineapple-Jícama Salsa, for example — and you’ll pull up wine suggestions such as: “Peter Brum Liebfraumilch 2005.”

Which will cause the amateur oenophile to wonder, “What is liebfraumilch?” And a seasoned wine drinker to ask, “Why in the world would I want to drink a 2005 liebfraumilch with this dish?!”

Therein lies the rub: The site tells you which wines you should buy, how much they cost and — if you click for more info — where they come from.

But it fails to answer two key additional questions: What, exactly, is this wine and why should I drink it?

On that note, here are some of my favorite sites for answering all of my wine-related questions. They deliver all the information I’m looking for in an entertaining fashion. As far as I’m concerned, spending a few minutes at one of these URLs is the next-best thing to sipping a nice cool glass of Chablis.

Breaking news: Twitter, www.twitter.com, and Facebook, www.facebook.com

I suppose I should be shilling for wine-publication sites at this point, but instant-messaging services are so much more fun. Follow your fave wine writers, such as “JancisRobinson,” for updates from the world of wine news; or the wineries you like to frequent to find out when they’re harvesting or topping off barrels. You can also follow media-savvy wine merchants, such as “corkwineshop,” or news-aggregator services such as “BottleBuzz,” for the latest deals and dish.

Food matching: Nat Decants, www.nataliemaclean.com

Click on Canadian wine writer Natalie Maclean’s “Wine & Food” tab and start playing with the “Wine & Food Matcher.” It’s addictive. The smart setup allows you to choose a key ingredient and select the method of preparation. Click on any of the suggested wine matches for the full lowdown on the grape and wine style.

Finally, follow a link to an exhaustive listing of specific wines, with scores, prices and useful bits of info such as UPC codes and percentage alcohol by volume. You also can download Maclean’s Drinks Matcher Widget, or purchase her Mobile Matcher app for your iPhone or Blackberry — a great option for navigating restaurant wine lists and those moments when your grocery cart is full of dinner ingredients and your head is empty of wine ideas.

Mainstream media: The Pour, nytimes.com/dining

Unlike so many American wine writers, Eric Asimov actually possesses a discerning palate, a curious mind and a modest demeanor. His columns and blogs, under the heading “The Pour” on The New York Times Dining & Wine Web page, tend to celebrate little-known regions and underrated vintages, giving wine geeks like me a warm fuzzy feeling whenever we read his work.

Oregon info: Oregon Wine, oregonwine.org

If you’re simply after information on the local oeno scene, the Oregon Wine Board’s Web site contains everything you could possibly want to know as well as links to subregions’ sites. A cool tool: The “Oregon Wine Country Explorer,” an advanced search engine that turns up the tasting rooms, restaurants and accommodations to suit your particular needs.

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