What’s the tradeoff between flavour and alcohol? How does Chardonnay lend itself to unusual food pairings? Where do you find great value in California wine?
In this episode of the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast, I’m chatting with Chuck Cramer, host of On The Road With Mr CA Wine.
You can find the wines we discussed here.
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- Who were Chuck’s most memorable podcast guests and why?
- Who would be Chuck’s dream guests for his podcast?
- Why does Chuck consider Lodi to be the most underrated California wine region?
- How does the style of The Federalist Chardonnay differ from Sanford Chardonnay?
- Which non-traditional food pairings could you try with The Federalist Chardonnay?
- What’s the weirdest wine and food pairing Chuck ever had?
- Which classic childhood food would Chuck pair with The Federalist Chardonnay?
- What’s Chuck’s controversial take on the natural wine movement?
- Why are low-alcohol wines less flavourful?
- Why is The American Vintage Chuck’s favourite wine book?
- How can you keep your wine fresh when you don’t want to finish the bottle?
- Which unlikely celebrity trio would Chuck like to share a bottle of wine with?
- If Chuck could have a billboard in California, what would it say?
- What wine would Chuck want to be served at his funeral?
- Chuck gives a great explanation for the tradeoff between flavour and alcohol.
- I love Chuck’s unusual pairings for Chardonnay.
- Chuck gives some great tips about finding excellent value in California wine.
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I can’t wrap my head around the natural wine movement. All wine is natural. - Chuck Cramer Click to tweet
Everything in moderation. You can enjoy a nice wine without cutting 5 years off your life. - Chuck Cramer Click to tweet
About Chuck Cramer
Chuck Cramer is a 4th generation Los Angeleno, living in London for the past 22 years. In addition to hosting a wine podcast dedicated to CA wine, On The Road With Mr CA Wine, Chuck is the director of European sales & marketing for Terlato Wines, managing a gorgeous portfolio of CA wines across the UK, Europe and the Middle East. He’s also the proud dad of two beautiful women, plays tennis four times a week and bleeds Dodger Blue!
- Connect with Chuck Cramer
- Terlato Wines
- On The Road With Mr CA Wine
- Season 2 Episode 17: A world class Zinfandel, an old school tasting & barrel room, and interview with Shelly Rafanelli, winemaker, A. Rafanelli Winery
- Season 3 Episode 15: Fridays are Loubud days, taco time, it’s all in a name and interview with Laura Roach, Loubud Wines
- Season 2 Episode 41: Put me in coach, starting out as a wine hobby, a National Football League coach and interview with Coach Dick Vermeil
- Season 1 Episode 21: The emperor’s new clothes, natural & orange wine, and interview with Dr Jamie Goode
- Wines We Tasted:
- Paul Lukacs’ Book American Vintage: The Rise Of American Wine
- Coravin Wine Preservation Systems
- Diary of a Book Launch: An Insider Peek from Idea to Publication
- My Books:
- Unquenchable: A Tipsy Quest for the World’s Best Bargain Wines
- Red, White, and Drunk All Over: A Wine-Soaked Journey from Grape to Glass
- My new class The 5 Wine & Food Pairing Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Dinner And How To Fix Them Forever
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Tag me on social media if you enjoyed the episode:
- @nataliemaclean and @natdecants on Facebook
- @nataliemaclean on Twitter
- @nataliemacleanwine on Instagram
- @nataliemaclean on LinkedIn
- Email Me at [email protected]
Thirsty for more?
- Sign up for my free online wine video class where I’ll walk you through The 5 Wine & Food Pairing Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Dinner (and how to fix them forever!)
- You’ll find my books here, including Unquenchable: A Tipsy Quest for the World’s Best Bargain Wines and Red, White and Drunk All Over: A Wine-Soaked Journey from Grape to Glass.
- The new audio edition of Red, White and Drunk All Over: A Wine-Soaked Journey from Grape to Glass is now available on Amazon.ca, Amazon.com and other country-specific Amazon sites; iTunes.ca, iTunes.com and other country-specific iTunes sites; Audible.ca and Audible.com.
Chuck Cramer 0:00
What I like about this Chardonnay is you can think traditionally along the lines of like, say a Caesar salad, a white fish roast chicken. But because of its creaminess and its texture, this Chardonnay will stand up to a cheeseburger or say a steak with a bit of fat on it. Seafood, oysters would be pretty amazing. Crayfish. A Monk fish. I would leave off the sauce. And maybe even some fried chicken.
Natalie MacLean 0:23
Sounds good. Yeah, the butteriness of the wine and the good, juicy fried-ness of the chicken would be great. But I have found Chardonnay is a wine, especially a robust one, that can definitely stand up to red meats, especially if there’s a bit of caramelization or there’s some fat in the meat which makes the meat juicier and tastier. Could definitely go with Chardonnays. It’s a good pairing.
Natalie MacLean 0:51
Do you have a thirst to learn about wine, the love stories about wonderfully obsessive people, hauntingly beautiful places and amusingly awkward social situations? Well that’s the blend here on the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast. I’m your host, Natalie Maclean. And each week, I share with you unfiltered conversations with celebrities in the wine world, as well as confessions from my own tipsy journey as I write my third book on this subject. I’m so glad you’re here. Now pass me that bottle please. And let’s get started.
Welcome to Episode 216. What’s the trade off between flavour and alcohol? How does Chardonnay lend itself to some unusual food pairings? And where do you find great value in California wine? You’ll hear those tips and stories in Part Two of our chat with Chuck Cramer, host of the podcast On The Road with Mr CA Wine. You don’t need to have listened to Part One from last week first, but I hope you’ll go back and take a listen if you missed it after you finish this one.
Now a quick update on my upcoming memoir, Wine Witch on Fire: Raising from the Ashes of Divorce, Defamation, and Drinking Too Much. Last week, I mentioned the TV show Younger that I’m binge watching. I wanted to share two more observations about how the publishing industry is portrayed in this series versus real life. The first is that the publishing deadlines are whack. One book is pushed through the process in a matter of weeks. In reality, the acquisition process of selling the book can take several weeks to several months after a publisher buys the book. And assuming you’ve already written it fully, there are usually months if not a year or more of various levels of editing, developmental copy and line. Then there’s the creation of a marketing and publicity plan printing and getting the book listed on online retailers as well as the selling process to various bookstores. All of which can easily take another year. On average, it’s a two year timeline, sometimes longer. But I do love fantasy TV.
The other aspirational element is all the glamorous parties the publishing staff attends. The days of the book tour are over. But it’s great to watch this call back to another era. Personally I hope to host events in Toronto, Ottawa, Niagara, Picton, Halifax, and possibly Montreal and Vancouver. But these will be on my own dime. And I’ll try to break even with a modest ticket fee. There will be wine involved, of course, so I hope you’ll come out to meet me and raise a glass or two together.
Here’s a review from Kate Gooding, a beta reader from Ottawa. “I would say this book is a triumph of the human spirit, heart, and intellect. If I were younger, it certainly would have fueled the courage needed to reach out and explore all of life’s possibilities to live my best life and more fully achieve my own potential. I’ve always been curious about what attracts people to wine and how they draw pleasure and comfort from it. The intimate descriptions of Natalie’s relationship with wine gives me insight into such an experience. I also learned a lot about the wine industry and how it works in Canada and around the world, and her story certainly represents a microcosm of the societal changes that have been occurring in the last decade. I really enjoyed her lighthearted sense of wordplay, and I’m anxious to taste some of the lively wines that were described in the book. I’d like to develop a more discerning palate and learn to appreciate the flavour notes that Natalie points out. I give this memoir five stars because reading this book is like having a conversation with her. I felt tuned in to the lens through which she views life. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know you, Natalie.” Thank you, Kate. I’ve posted a link to a blog post called Diary of a Book Launch in the show notes at nataliemaclean.com/216. This is where I share more behind the scenes stories about the journey of taking this memoir from idea to publication. If you want a more intimate insider seat beside me on this journey, please let me know you’d like to become a beta reader and get a sneak peek at the manuscript. Email me at [email protected] Okay, on with the show.
Natalie MacLean 5:35
So, tell us about your most memorable guests that you’ve had on the podcast.
Chuck Cramer 5:40
Oh, again, put me on the spot here, Natalie. They’re all memorable. I’m gonna throw out a couple of one. Shelly Rafanelli. A Rafanelli Winery in Dry Creek Valley. I love their Zinfandels. They’ve been making them for 40 years. Never met her before. Been to the winery about 8 – 10 times. Met the sister. Met the dad. Still haven’t met Shelly but for some reason, we just hit it off on the podcast. Laura Roach, associate winemaker at Sanford. Got to know Laura. I know a little better. But I interviewed her early on without having met her yet. And I liked that connection there. But probably most memorable would be coach Dick Vermeil. He coached the UCLA Bruins, the Philadelphia Eagles, and then he took the St. Louis Rams to the Super Bowl. Now, I grew up in LA and I’m an LA Rams fan. I wasn’t happy when they moved to St. Louis. But you know, Coach Vermeil has a tasting room in Napa on First Street. He purchases fruit from a couple of vineyards in Napa. And I had him on the podcast and he was just elected into the National Football League Hall of Fame.
Natalie MacLean 6:46
Oh, wow. So does he have his own winery?
Chuck Cramer 6:49
He doesn’t have a winery. He uses a custom crush facility. But you know he makes Vermeil wines. He makes a delicious Cabernet Franc and the Cab Franc is gorgeous. He makes a really good Chardonnay. And so just having Coach Vermeil on the podcast – and he just said yes; he doesn’t know who I am; and now he’s a Hall of Famer – so that was really cool.
Natalie MacLean 7:12
Wow, that’s cool. Did you talk about the intersection of football and wine? Like was there any pairings or anything cross tangents?
Chuck Cramer 7:20
Well you know, we didn’t talk about pairings but he did talk about how he brought his motivational skills as a head football coach, you know, directing his winemaking team. I think, you know, I get just chatting with them. I think he’s a player’s coach I think you could chat to. He’s not one of these guys who’s gonna go nuts and just bark and F bomb you the whole time. But I think you know obviously he’s transitioned while from a very successful coaching career to making a really good wines in Napa. That was a fun chat. That was good.
Natalie MacLean 7:51
That sounds like fun. And you mentioned Sanford. They produce really beautiful cool climate pinots, don’t they?
Chuck Cramer 7:57
Yes, they do. Yeah. I mean, the family owns two vineyards there, La Rinconada and Sanford & Benedict. And they both surround this beautiful winery in the Santa Rita hills. And yeah, I mean these wines would just get better every year. You know the Pinots and the Chardonnays get better with each vintage hands down.
Natalie MacLean 8:14
And, situate where Santa Rita Hills is for us in relation to all the other regions we spoke about.
Chuck Cramer 8:19
Yeah, Santa Barbara. I mean, there are six sub regions within Santa Barbara County. So if you go say north of LA a three hour drive – I mean you can’t get anywhere now in California within an hour – but say three hour drive north of Los Angeles. Highway 101. You hit Santa Barbara, drive another 40-45 minutes towards Lompoc, and you’re in the Santa Rita Hills. And the winery sits within say 10 miles of the Pacific Ocean.
Natalie MacLean 8:46
Lovely. Okay. So who would be your dream guest or guests that you’d love to interview on your podcast?
Chuck Cramer 8:52
Oh, boy. You know I thought about this because I asked this question as well. I would say. Yeah, I have two. Can I give you two? Okay, so one. I love his movies. It’s got to be Arnold Schwarzenegger. I just love his movies. I would say Arnold, a steak, cigar and a big Cab or Zinfandel, something like that and just talk about movies and his careers from like, becoming a bodybuilder to actor to Governor of California. Success story. And the other one would be Jimmy Connors. I love tennis. He was my idol as a kid. You know, he lives up in Santa Barbara. He’s just. The competitor through and through. I looked up to him growing up. You know I tried to style my game after him a little bit. But just love his tenacity. And him and his son have their own podcast called Advantage Connors and I listen to that one as well. But you know Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jimmy Connors, if I can have them on the show. Those would be my two guests.
Natalie MacLean 9:55
Awesome. That sounds great. Do you think you’ll ever approach them, email them? Give it a shot?
Chuck Cramer 10:00
You know what? Yeah, I’m not scared about asking anybody, right? All they can say is. You know when you sell why Natalie, you know, you get like 80% of the responses are No. So I think you know. You’ve build up a successful program. I think that you know it’s the podcast is just going from strength to strength. I think, you know, as the numbers build up, probably reach out. Maybe get blanked. But yeah, they’re definitely on my hit-list. Whether it happens or not who knows?
Natalie MacLean 10:28
Well you know especially Jimmy Connors, because you’re a tennis fan. You can talk tennis and wine. But the fastest way to grow a podcast – you’ve probably heard this Chuck – is to be on somebody else’s podcast because you’ve already got an audience of podcast listeners who are more apt to go find another podcast and add it to their playlist, than trying to convince someone who doesn’t even know what a podcast is. So I would sell that angle too to especially getting Jimmy Connors
That’s a good tip. Thanks, Natalie.
Absolutely. You know, we got to keep these sales tips going here. So what region do you think is most undervalued in California?
Chuck Cramer 11:06
Undervalued region in California. I would say I’d have to go with Lodi. You think of that old you know Creedence Clearwater Revival song Stuck in Lodi. You got 6th 7th generation farmers there. Family owned. Winemaking, look at if you’re in the business you’re farmers right? Your farmers. But I would have to say Lodi. Real workhorse. Lodi produces 22% of all the wine coming out of California. They consider themselves to be the Zin capital of the world. I think if you look on the Historical Vineyard Society website, I’d say there’s 150 of them. Almost half, a good portion of them, are from Lodi. And in Lodi, besides Cab, Zin, Chardonnay, I mean they’re growing you know Tokaji. They’re growing Albariño. They’re growing Sangiovese. There’s a lot of variety there. So yeah, undervalued. I mean, not forgotten. I mean, they’re a big player on the map. But I think if you’re looking for fruit forward wine that’s going to maybe set you back $10 to $20, I’d go to Lodi every day of the week.
Natalie MacLean 12:12
They are well priced. They are well priced here in the Canadian market as well. So, of course all the wine talk’s making me thirsty. So tell me what wines you have there with you Chuck, please. Hold them up to the camera. But also for those who are just listening to the podcast, we will have links in the show notes to these wines.
Chuck Cramer 12:34
So you know, we’ve been enjoying a warm summer here in the United Kingdom. Hopefully this is going to lead to an Indian summer. So I have two Chardonnays here. I have the Federalist Chardonnay. It’s a brand that’s owned by Terlato. The winemaker is Bryan Parker. And then we’re talking about Sanford.
I have the Federalist Chardonnay 2018. I think we’re on the ’19 now. And the Sanford Chardonnay 2018 made by Trey Fletcher and Laura Roach both over at Sanford. So, you know, just stylistically when you were talking about Chardonnay earlier, Natalie, just two different styles. The Federalist is a bit heavier in the mouth, great creamy texture, vanilla notes, American oak. Sanford a bit more refined, sophisticated, nice texture, but great minerality.
Difference. The Federalist it’s purchased from Mendocino California. So you’re north of Sonoma. Sanford. It’s all estate coming from our two vineyards, La Rinconada and Sanford & Benedict. So just great minerality. And, yeah just stylistically two different wines but just gorgeous to enjoy.
Natalie MacLean 13:37
The Federalist. I’ve tasted the red one before. And is it Franklin on the label, like the mug shot? Okay.
Chuck Cramer 13:44
Yes. That’s a Cabernet Sauvignon. So we’ve taken images off US currency and we put them on the label. So George Washington is on the Zinfandel $1 Bill, Benjamin Franklin, the $100 bill, is on the Cab, but we have honest Abraham Lincoln, who’s on the $5 bill, on our Honest red blend. So there’s a play there. So it’s like staring at a Ford Mustang right when you’re looking at these wines. 100% American but the juice is from California.
Natalie MacLean 14:10
No, that’s great. I’ve just got a couple of wines. I chose one California. This is the Palisades from I believe its Gott wines. Joel Gott wines. Yeah.
Chuck Cramer 14:20
Nice producer. Yeah.
Natalie MacLean 14:21
And well I’ve got two reds, you’ve got two whites. But my backlog of wines ready to be tasted is building up so I wanted to open something. Get this going, but lots of mocha and dark fruit on the nose for Palisades, which is a red wine blend. And then I’ve got Popcorn, which is a brand from Bordeaux. Not traditional at all. Popcorn. A Merlot from Bordeaux, more of a I guess a consumer friendly label.
And a movie wine, yeah.
Exactly. Pair it with some Arnold Schwarzenegger should get involved I guess. Very different. But two good wines. I’ll link those in the show notes as well. But what would you pair with your wines?
Chuck Cramer 15:10
Well, you know what. Both wines are made to be enjoyed on their own you know. We sell both by the glass. I would say the Federalist Chardonnay. What I like about the Federalist Chardonnay. I mean you know you can think traditionally along the lines of like, say a Caesar salad, a white fish, roast chicken. But because of its creaminess and its texture, I guarantee you this Federalist Chardonnay will stand up to a cheeseburger or say a steak with a bit of fat on it. Okay and so you know a lot of people for whatever reasons, kind of like ABC, don’t want to drink red wine. Well listen, you know, you eat steak. The Federalist Chardonnay is a nice option for like say red meat, barbecued ribs. Sanford Chardonnay is more restrained, more sophisticated. So again on its own. Again you know more along the lines like I would say definitely seafood. Oysters would be pretty amazing. Crayfish along those lines. A Monk fish. I would leave off the sauce. And maybe even some fried chicken.
Natalie MacLean 16:07
That sounds good. Yeah, the butteriness the wine and the good juicy fried-ness of the chicken would be great. But I have found Chardonnay is a wine, especially a robust one, that can definitely stand up to red meats, especially if there’s a bit of caramelization or there’s some fat in the meat which makes the meat juicy or and tastier. It can definitely go with Chardonnays. It’s a good pairing.
Chuck Cramer 16:28
100%. Yeah, surprises a lot of people.
Natalie MacLean 16:32
It does, because we always think red wine, red meat and so on. What’s the weirdest wine and food pairing you’ve ever had?
Chuck Cramer 16:39
I had to think about this. I was out with a buddy of mine – and this goes back maybe 15 years – we were at the Westport in Notting Hill here in London. They do great oysters. The oysters are amazing. And I think you know we ordered a dozen oysters and I kicked off with a beer and he ordered a glass of Australian Shiraz.
Yeah. And I was like seriously dude, you know? And I think you know, you shouldn’t be afraid to try anything with anything. And you know, experimentation is great, but I just thought you’re not. And it wasn’t even chilled down. I just thought you know Australian Shiraz and oysters was really, really weird. And I asked him never to do that again.
Natalie MacLean 17:24
I don’t know what it is iodine or something that will make red wine tastes kind of metallic or tinny when they combine? Yeah, something is in there.
Chuck Cramer 17:34
Exactly. And he said you got to try it. You’ve got to try. And I said, absolutely not. I just you know, I was what do you been doing? I didn’t want to ruin the oysters or the wine.
Natalie MacLean 17:43
Well, I can understand that. How about a favourite childhood food that you’ve had? And what would you pair it with today as an adult with wine?
Chuck Cramer 17:53
Oh boy, it would have to be. Childhood. This is childhood food. It would have to be say like an Oscar Meyer wiener hotdog and a can of spaghetti. I’d drink this Federalist Chardonnay with it all day long, because.
Natalie MacLean 18:10
It’s turning out to be a very versatile Chardonnay they’ve got there.
Yeah, it is. It is.
Is there something about wine that you believe that some people would strongly disagree with you about it?
Chuck Cramer 18:22
Wow yeah I mean, if I do it’s just I cannot wrap my head around this whole natural wine movement. All wine is natural. All wine comes from the ground. It’s not like any winemakers you know, adding artificial flavours to the wine, whether it’s a $6 bottle of wine or a $250 bottle of wine.
Natalie MacLean 18:42
That’s true. And if they are, it’s not called wine. It’s called flavoured beverage or something.
Chuck Cramer 18:47
Exactly. So yeah, this whole natural wine movement. I think it was season one, I interviewed Dr. Jamie Goode. And we talked about this natural wine movement. And the caption I wrote for this was the Emperor’s New Clothes. And look it. Whether you like natural wine or not, it creates excitement for the category. It brings something new to the category. And I’m all for that. But at the end of the day, it’s just a marketing gimmick. It’s kind of like low alcohol or no alcohol wine. You really have to struggle to say this is enjoyable because if it’s a no alcohol wine for example – and now I’ve changed subjects – you know where’s the fruit? You know, both with the natural wine movement – going back to the natural wine movement – all wine’s natural. So you know what. Come up with another term.
I’ll leave it at that.
Natalie MacLean 19:37
Low intervention may be but there’s also no official definition as far as I know, no laws in terms of what exactly is a natural wine or a raw wine or whatever. And then with low alcohol wines, alcohol as we know is a carrier of flavour. So when you de-alcoholise wine – especially in the winery as opposed to just picking grapes early – I think you are removing some flavour as well. So there is a trade off. You know definitely a marketing angle, but there’s always a trade off I think with flavour when you get into very low or no alcohol wines.
Chuck Cramer 20:12
Exactly. And if you like it, fantastic. I just think it’s more marketing than it is anything else. I think you can be healthy. And I think you know everything in moderation can be healthy. Enjoy a nice you know bottle or glass of wine without cutting five years off your life.
Natalie MacLean 20:27
Yes, everything in moderation, including moderation. Do you have a favourite wine book?
Chuck Cramer 20:33
Yes, I do. And I have right here. It’s called the American Vintage: The Rise of the American Vine by Paul Lukacs. And I don’t remember when it was published. It’s published a while back maybe 20 years ago. But it just gives you a great sense just in terms of the beginnings of our California roots. You know the immigrants coming over from say Europe and just you know laying a foundation here for the wine industry as we know it today. So yeah, the American Vintage: The Rise of the American Wine. Its a book about California, and it’s my favourite wine book.
Natalie MacLean 21:09
Great. Sounds like there’d be lots of stories about the pioneers and early settlers and their struggles. And do you have a favourite wine gadget? There it is.
The Corvavin. Yes to preserve the wine.
Chuck Cramer 21:23
Yeah, know what, but also with work. You know one of my biggest expenses is samples. So this cuts down on waste. So I can go in with a bottle of wine to an account say tastes a Sanford Chardonnay or say Chimney Rock Cab and Coravin it. And then I could use that bottle for the next two weeks. Before the Coravin, you’d have to uncork the wine, pour it out, maybe the bottle if you don’t leave it with the account. The bottle keeps for like three days. And if you don’t use it or drink it, it just goes to waste. So great, great wine preservation device here. So I use it a lot with work.
Natalie MacLean 22:01
And just for those who are not familiar with the device, this contraption again we’ll put a link in the show notes, but it has a needle that pierces the cork and withdraws the wine. But in doing so, it’s also still leaving a sort of tight vacuum seal. No oxygen gets into the bottle. The cork actually stays in the bottle. And you can pour these small samples out, as you’re saying. So it’s good for consumers too not just those in the trade. As you know if you want to open like two or three different bottles, but maybe just have one glass of this tonight, maybe a glass of that tomorrow. But you want it all to preserve well. But have some more variety in your drinking.
Chuck Cramer 22:37
Yeah, exactly. And if you’re in a restaurant and want to serve a more expensive bottle of wine, use the Coravin.
Natalie MacLean 22:43
Absolutely. So if you could share a bottle of wine with one person living or dead, who would that be? And which wine would you open?
Chuck Cramer 22:50
I think this is the one I ask. I really liked this question. You know, tough. I mean, look at. I’d love to sit around the table. I’m gonna give you three. I’d love to sit around the table with Babe Ruth. I mean, and just talk baseball. The guy was a boozer. I mean, I like to drink. Just talk baseball. I mean, this is a guy. This is a name that endures today. I mean, he’s the benchmark for every player who’s ever played the game. So Babe Ruth would be one, in one chair around the table. I’d have Humphrey Bogart. I love his old movies. Again, another boozer so getting him and Babe together, we’d probably up to like five in the morning.
You may need to buy a lot of wine too.
Exactly. Exactly. And then I probably want to have Robin Williams there.
Oh, that’d be great.
Just goes back to comedy. And I think that would be a fun night. Babe Ruth, Humphrey Bogart. So baseball movies and comedy with Robin Williams around the table.
Natalie MacLean 23:47
What a great discussion. Absolutely.
Chuck Cramer 23:51
I’d never leave the table.
Natalie MacLean 23:54
If you could put up a billboard in downtown San Francisco, what would it say?
Chuck Cramer 23:57
Oh, I tell you one thing. I’m glad you sent me some of these questions in advance because I would go blank on this. A billboard in San Francisco. Politics is a hot topic. But what I think I would put up a billboard just directed towards politicians in California and just say you know chill out, reach across the aisle and start doing some good for the citizens of California as opposed to just padding your pockets and staying in power or something like that. Reach across the aisle and get some work done because we’re in a roadblock right now. So I think that’s the billboard I’d take out.
Natalie MacLean 24:34
Yeah, absolutely. And maybe pour yourself a glass of wine and toast each other and relax.
Chuck Cramer 24:39
Exactly. Relax. Yes.
Natalie MacLean 24:42
Why would you like served at your funeral. Not to get all morbid, but we’re going there.
Chuck Cramer 24:47
We’re going there. And hopefully a few years out, right? I would have to say it would have to be Zinfandel. Zinfandel is California’s signature grape variety. Federalist produces a tasty Zinfandel from Lodi. In terms of the grape Zin my favourites, it would have to be like a Zinfandel from Alban Vineyards or maybe Ridge. And then I don’t know the tagline would be you know “There goes Chuck on the road for one last time” or something like that. Everybody, everybody would toast us with a glass of Zin.
Natalie MacLean 25:18
Ah, I love that. I love that. Oh wow, this is flown by just like a convertible ride, Chuck. As we wrap up, is there anything you want to mention that we didn’t cover?
Chuck Cramer 25:29
You know what I would just say think outside the box. Quit drinking Sauvignon Blanc every day. Try something different. You know obviously drink more California wine. You know, do something different. And then I got a great wine tip from Will Costello. He’s a Master Sommelier in Las Vegas. And he said – and when he said this I thought wow this is so cool – drink your red wines cooler.
Natalie MacLean 25:53
Chuck Cramer 25:54
You know, whether it’s a Cab, a Zin, you know Pinots you can chill down. He goes because you know, you’re gonna taste it chilled. And then all of a sudden, it’s going to open up and get better and better. If you taste it at room temperature, he goes that’s it. That’s all you’re gonna get out of it. So drink your red wines cooler. When Will said that, I thought that was a great tip.
Natalie MacLean 26:14
Yeah, because our mouths are going to heat up the wine anyway. So if you took a room temperature Red and it’s going to get hotter in your mouth. Or often the Reds are served even hotter than room temperature. It’s just bizarre. But you’re right, a slight chill – just a few degrees – would be refreshing. Because I find if you’ve tasted warmth or room temperature too, all you get is the oak and the alcohol up front with a red, especially a big red. It’s a great tip, Chuck. Thank you.
Well, this has been wonderful. I really appreciate this. I mean the tips and stories you shared are fantastic. So thank you for joining us here and I’m looking forward to talking to you again, Chuck, on your podcast. But I will say goodbye for now and cheers.
Chuck Cramer 26:54
Natalie, thanks for having me on your podcast. I’ve had a blast.
Natalie MacLean 26:59
All right, Chuck. Take care. Bye for now.
Natalie MacLean 27:07
Well, there you have it. I hope you enjoyed my chat with Chuck. Here are my takeaways. Number one, Chuck gives a great explanation about the trade off between flavour and alcohol. Two, I love his unusual pairings for Chardonnay. And three, Chuck has some great tips about finding excellent value in California wine.
In the shownotes, you’ll find my email contact, the full transcript of my conversation with Chuck, links to his website and podcast, and where you can find the live stream video version of these conversations on Facebook and YouTube Live every Wednesday at 7pm. You will also find a link to my free Ultimate Guide to Wine and Food Pairing. That’s all in the show notes at nataliemaclean.com/216
Email me if you have a sip, tip, question, or would like to be a beta reader of my new memoir at [email protected] If you missed episode 23 go back and take a listen. I chat with winemaker Randall Graham, who is a California blend of wine, wit and wisdom. I’ll share a short clip with you now to whet your appetite.
Randall Graham (clip) 28:20
The name Rhone Ranger has been very catchy, and it’s been helpful my cause. The issue I have though is that we in California ultimately somehow need to get out of the shadow of our European colleagues and somehow learn how to really define ourselves on our own terms rather than is something derivative or something referential to something else. Who wants to be the second best? Do you want to be your own thing? I think we in the New World have to get there somehow. I’m working on it. And I think the way to get there for me personally is trying to figure out what can we do in the New World that can’t be done in the Old World that’s interesting and wonderful and pleasurable. But let’s do it and find the grapes that are uniquely suited to our sites, rather than take something else and try to make Burgundy style Pinot Noir or Côte Rôtie-like Syrah or Barolo and Nebbiolo for example.
Natalie MacLean 29:24
If you liked this episode, please email or tell one friend about it this week, especially someone you know who’d be interested in the wines, tips and stories we shared. You won’t want to miss next week when I chat with Nell McShane Wulfhart, who has written for the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian and many other outlets. Nell’s audio book, Off Menu, is about the secret science of food, drinks and the dining experience. She has some great stories to tell. Thank you for taking the time to join me here. I hope something great is in your class this week, perhaps a wine from the Lodi region.
Natalie MacLean 30:10
You don’t want to miss one juicy episode of this podcast, especially the secret full body bonus episodes that I don’t announce on social media. So subscribe for free now at nataliemaclean.com/subscribe Meet me here next week. Cheers!