5StarWines: My experience as a judge in Italy’s premier wine competition

5StarWines is a competition of Italian wines organized by Veronafiere, the group that oversees Vinitaly – the world’s most important fair for Italian wines.   In its 6th edition, held in Verona between April 1-3, 2022, over 2,300 wines were submitted from all corners of Italy and internationally. Having the honor to participate as a judge for the first time allowed me to learn about … Continue reading 5StarWines: My experience as a judge in Italy’s premier wine competition

Bobal, Spain’s next great grape variety?

Tempranillo, Garnacha, Monastrell – arguably the trio of Spain’s noble red grape varieties which make complex, outstanding, age-worthy wines.  However, in the last few years, a fourth variety – the relatively unknown Bobal – has been staking its claim to join this elite group thanks to its increased quality, potential, and overall reputation. Bobal has also slowly become a darling among Spanish sommeliers and professionals, … Continue reading Bobal, Spain’s next great grape variety?

My Favorite places to drink wine in Valencia

Valencia, Spain’s third largest city after Madrid and Barcelona, is a charming, vibrant place with understated elegance and a more manageable feel and slower pace than its larger cousins, yet it has everything you need in a large city. This is the home of paella – the quintessential Spanish rice dish -, Valencia oranges, and a burgeoning wine industry from nearby Utiel-Requena and Alicante. After … Continue reading My Favorite places to drink wine in Valencia

My Favorite Places to Drink Wine in Madrid

Madrid is known to have the highest per capita number of bars in Europe and its celebrated nightlife goes back a long time, fueled by the years of “la movida” in the early 80s after the fall of Franco’s dictatorship. Madrid offers the broadest diversity and availability of wines from all over the country and despite its large size – the city is home to … Continue reading My Favorite Places to Drink Wine in Madrid

Wine & Pizza!  5 Classic pairings to try

Pizza, an Italian tradition known all over the world. From its humble origins in the outskirts of Naples, it grew in popularity in the 1800s, initially spreading throughout Italy to later become a worldwide phenomenon in the 20th century. A very versatile food that can be enjoyed in all kinds of settings, pizza is the perfect partner for many types of wines, the choice driven … Continue reading Wine & Pizza!  5 Classic pairings to try

My New Year Wine Resolutions for 2022

Let’s admit it, 2021 wasn’t really the best of years.  Earlier in the pandemic many of us, myself included, believed that we’d be back to normal sometime in 2021 and were disappointed and fatigued by end of the year. Personally, I mostly missed the social and professional gatherings – formal and informal – that I enjoyed before 2020: wine dinners with friends, tasting groups, trade … Continue reading My New Year Wine Resolutions for 2022

The New Wave of South American wines

What comes to mind first when you think about South American wines?  Until recently, for me it was generally a plush, dark, oaky Argentine Malbec; or an inoffensive, fruity, good value Bordeaux blend from Chile. For the past thirty years, this was an accurate portrait – for the most part – of what South America’s largest wine producing countries had to offer to the wine … Continue reading The New Wave of South American wines

Etna Wines: The Power of the Volcano

It was 5.40am on a Sunday morning. I was sound asleep when I suddenly felt the deep rumblings that turned into a prolonged, loud roar. My first thoughts were: “Is it an earthquake?  A bomb?  A strong thunderstorm?” (Having grown up in Central America, I’m used to all three of them). Then I realized the noise coming from deep within the center of the earth … Continue reading Etna Wines: The Power of the Volcano

Lesser-known Italian grapes: The South – Part II

The final article of the Native Italian grapes series closes in Southern Italy, focusing on a combination of hearty, robust, sun-loving grapes from Puglia and Sicily as well as more delicate, light bodied varieties from across the region. NEGROAMARO (Region: Puglia) One of the most important red grapes of Puglia. Its name means “black bitter,” probably in reference to its dark color and somehow bitter … Continue reading Lesser-known Italian grapes: The South – Part II

Lesser-known Italian grapes: The South – Part I

We continue our exploration of native Italian grapes, this time we’re traveling to the south of country, where producers are crafting some of the most exciting wines from indigenous grapes such as Greco, Fiano, Vermentino, and Carricante. All of them share the typical crisp, fresh acidity of Italian wines, coupled with salty, savory notes that make it ideal for the dining table. FIANO (Region: Campania) … Continue reading Lesser-known Italian grapes: The South – Part I