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Mar 22, 2018
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Drink This Weekend Edition: 3 wines for sauvignon blanc lovers

Friday, September 2nd, 2016



Sauvignon blanc is the ultimate summer wine: crisp and grassy with melon and mineral notes and easy, bright drinkability. However, after months spent quaffing this lovely wine, it’s time to close out the season with something different. Here, three bottles perfect for sauvignon blanc lovers seeking something new:
1. The Easy Transition: Domaine Du Bagnol Cassis Blanc
This is a great French wine from the Provence region. It’s sophisticated and enjoyable with notes of pear, quince and minerals, and offers a clean freshness characteristic of sauvignon blancs. Enjoy on its own or pair with shellfish, sushi or salads.
$23. The Wine & Cheese Place in Clayton

2. The Change Up: Domaine Du Gros ‘Noré Bandol Rosé
I know, I know, another summer rosé – but trust me on this. Bandols are the Teslas of rosés. This crisp, clean wine offers hints of melon, grass and perfect minerality, making it a perfect match for fans of sauvignon blanc. This beauty is perfect for sipping and pairs well with anything grilled.
$32. Veritas Gateway to Food & Wine in Ellisville

3. The Challenge: El Maestro Sierra Fino
This option might be a stretch, but still, a winery that’s been around since 1832 is surely worth a try. Fino sherry has an unmatched, almost saline minerality. For Sancerre fans (France’s most famous sauvignon blanc), a sip of this crisp, dry sherry is like turning up the volume on your favorite song. It’s best served fresh and cold with oysters, almonds or olives.
$15. Starrs in Richmond Heights


Ben Wood has more than 10 years experience in the wine industry. He currently works as a sommelier at Reeds American Table. 


Drink This Weekend Edition: Underrated wines

Thursday, July 14th, 2016




Pick up any wine magazine, and you’re bound to find wines ranked on a 100-point scale. Unfortunately, it’s really hard to get below a certain score, and as with any subjective topic, the numbers are somewhat arbitrary – there is no standardized method for ranking. Some critics describe the process as 10 points for nose, 10 for color, 10 for palate, 10 for finish, 10 for overall impression and the remaining 50 simply for existing.

I find this degrading to vintners and winery teams. Most wines depend on weather, luck, timing, hard work and perseverance. They should be enjoyed as a moment in time, appreciating the product and its complement to your meal or your experience. I love a serious, complex bottle paired with an amazing meal, but I equally love an easy-drinking, quaffable wine on the patio with friends.

I taste quite a bit of wine, and I’m not sure I can tell you if any wine has a score able number for any ‘characteristic.’ Characteristics are subjective; a cloudy wine might upset you, but excite me. I’ve sold 100-point bottles to happy clients, and other underrated bottles that resulted in the same level of enjoyment. The only opinion that matters is the one belonging to the person who paid for it.

When hunting for an underrated bottle, look for wines made in a little known area where real estate is cheaper. It’s hard to find underrated wine from Napa Valley, California, but some Missouri wines or wines from lesser known regions of France’s Loire Valley are well worth the effort to find. Here are two such hidden gems:

1. Claverach Farm Pét-Nat sparkling rosé: Made by Claverach Farm’s Sam Hilmer, this wine is fizzy and wild with a beautiful nose of flowers and bright berries. It is dry and complex on the palate with refreshing bubbles.
$25, available at Starrs

2. Champalou Vouvray chenin blanc: This is a fine example of what the Loire Valley can do. Minerals, dry hay and apricot notes are followed by a hint of floral and matchstick. It is dry, rich and enjoyable on the palate.
$18, The Wine and Cheese Place

Drink This Weekend Edition: 3 roses to transition to spring

Friday, April 15th, 2016



Gorgeous weather, the return of baseball and the annual transition from heavy winter reds to light, bright roses are all signs of spring in St. Louis. Here’s why you should think – and drink – pink this spring and summer.

Simply put, rose wines incorporate some of the color from the grape skins, but not enough to qualify as red wine. These wines are made three different ways. Some are made like red wine, where the juice remains in contact with the skins to extract some color and flavor. Others are made using the saignée, or bleeding, method requires syphoning off juice intended for red wine before it extracts too much color and fermenting it. Finally, winemakers can simply blend red and white wines to produce the desired color and taste.

Roses color and flavor vary greatly is fun realm of wine to explore. Most roses are dry, but they show bright fruit flavor, and the best have an intensity and balanced acidity as well. Look for bottles from Cotes De Provence, Corsica, Tuscany, Spain and of course, California and Oregon. Here, my top three rose picks for this weekend:


1. 2015 Chateau Thivin Beaujolais Villages rose is a great bottle made from Gamay grapes that produce bright, crisp wine with flavors of strawberry, flowers and minerals. This is a very pretty, enjoyable wine perfect for an afternoon of outdoor events.
$20. Available at Cork & Rind

2. Biodynamically farmed grapes with very little skin contact give Red Car Rose of Pinot Noir a light shade of pink. This is wine with finesse, featuring pink grapefruit and cherry notes and bright acidity. Fish dishes are perfect for this delicate sipper.
$19. Available at The Wine and Cheese Place in Clayton

3. There are “unicorns” in the wine world. The wines by Frank Cornelissen are such rare beauties – difficult to find, yet well worth the quest. Naturally made in Sicily on the slopes of Mount Etna, this intense wine exhibits a distinct sense of place. It is best served decanted, as it is truly unfiltered. The newest vintage will be released mid-summer; keep an eye out for one of the most interesting roses available.

Ben Wood has more than 10 years experience in the wine industry. He currently works as shop manager of Cork & Rind.

Drink This Weekend Edition: Accessorize your wine

Friday, March 11th, 2016



Accessories make lots of things better. Where would be without glitzy iPhone cases or the perfect pair of aviator shades? Even the wine scene has revolutionized its accessory game in recent years, moving beyond the classic corkscrew and a glass (though they are still necessities). Here, my short list of wine accessories that actually work well – and a few that you may want to reconsider.

1. We all know wine tastes better after it breathes, and there are plenty of products on the market that claim to aerate your wine faster or better than the one before it. Vinturi is the most common aerator; it works by pulling oxygen into the wine through suction as you pour through the device into your glass. While this is effective and will provide a taste boost, I find it to be a rather violent way to aerate your wine. I prefer a simpler, tried-and-true method: 30 minutes in a decanter. Plus, a decanter looks way better on the table than a plastic bobble. Still, if you must sip now, the Vinturi is an option.
Decanters and the Vinturi are widely available at most home goods stores and wine shops.

2. Temperature is one of the most important service elements with wine. We tend to serve our reds too warm and our whites too cold – but all this is a matter of taste, too! My new favorite tool to keep your wine cool is the Host Freeze Wine Glass. Store these stemless, double-layered plastic glasses in the freezer, then pour your preferred bottled and keep your wine cold for the entire time you are drinking. Double-walled glasses like these are also great for spirits, too.
Host Freeze glasses are available at most home goods stores.

3. Finally, there is the Coravin. We’ve made mention of this revolutionary device before, but it bears repeating. For the true oenophile, the Coravin is a must, allowing you to have a glass of rare, exclusive wine without actually opening a bottle. Instead, it inserts a surgical needle through the cork and extracts the wine, then adds inert gas into to prevent oxidation. Tap into any old bottle in your cellar for a glass, leaving the rest still remains intact in the bottle. It’s an amazing device, but be sure your wine is worth the $300 price tag.
Available at Milk & Honey in Wildwood

Drink This Weekend Edition: 3 wines from the northern Rhone

Thursday, February 4th, 2016


Wines from the northern Rhone Valley region are some of the best in France, yet they often fly under the radar. Stone fruit, flowers and hay are typical on the white wines (typically made from viognier grapes). The reds are almost always made from syrah grapes and range from Burgundian ethereal beauties to full-bodied crushers.

The northern Rhone region runs from the town of Vienne, France south along the Rhone River to Valance. Look for appellations like Cote Rotie, Condrieu, St. Joseph, Crozes Hermitage, Hermitage, Cornas and St. Peray. Here, my three picks from the northern Rhone perfect for cool winter nights.

1. 2007 Domaine Lionnet Cornas Terres Brulees
This is an organic domaine that farms a small 2.2 hectares. Bold and structured with a lot of complexity, this wine is amazing with beef dishes (think beef Wellington) or grilled lamb.
$50, available to go at  Reeds American Table

2. 2009 Jean-Louis Chave Crozes-Hermitage Silene
Here is a fruit-forward, easy-drinking wine from a great 2009 vintage. Balanced and medium-bodied, this wine typifies what Crozes Hermitage is all about: red fruit, mineral and a hint of flowers. This is a wine to pair with hamburgers or grilled fish.
$30, available at Starrs

3. 2014 Domaine George Vernay Viognier Le Pied de Samson
Viognier is a singular grape with clear alpine, floral notes. This excellent wine from the hills of Condrieu is from an altitude too high to be allowed in the appellation. Flowers, hay, a beautiful texture and balance with just a hint of white pepper make this an amazing wine for lobster in butter sauce.
$30, available at The Wine and Cheese Place

Ben Wood has more than 10 years experience in the wine industry. He currently works as shop manager of Cork & Rind.

Drink This Weekend Edition: Resolving to drink better in 2016

Friday, January 1st, 2016



Happy New Year! Now that the party is over, it’s time to consider your new year’s resolutions, particularly when it comes to alcohol. Here, what to drink in 2016 when you’ve resolved to drink better, cheaper or less.

If you resolve to educate yourself on wine…
Excellent! Head to your nearest reputable bottle shop and ask the wine professional for a world tour in six bottles. Keep your budget at $15 or less per bottle and ask for tasting notes on each wine. In the meantime, head to Reeds American Table and try the Quinta de Vale de Pios Excomungado: juicy and balanced with dark fruit and nice complexity. Not only is this wine affordably priced to go, it also comes with a highly knowledgable drink team to answer all your questions.
$16. Available at Reeds American Table

If you resolve to drink on a lower budget…
Bargain hunting for great bottles can be a fun challenge. Segura Viudas Brut Rosé is the perfect bottle to get you started. Sparkling wines are not just for New Year’s Eve toasts. They make great pick-me-ups and add a celebratory feel to an ordinary day. This excellent dry cava is made in the Champagne method and holds strawberry and mineral notes.
$9. Available at Starrs

If you resolve to drink less…
Did last night’s revelry leave you vowing to cut back on the booze? Lower ABV wines are readily available. Some of my favorites include gamay from France’s Loire Valley or its Jura region, as well as new-school California wines. Folk Machine Valdiguié is light, bright and at 11.5 percent, won’t knock you off your feet after a glass.
$22. Available at Cork & Rind


Ben Wood has more than 10 years experience in the wine industry. He currently works as shop manager of Cork & Rind.




Drink This Weekend Edition: 3 wines for a Hanukkah weekend

Friday, December 11th, 2015



Happy Hanukkah! We’re halfway through the Festival of Lights, and I have three bottles that are perfect for the holiday, whether you’re sharing with friends or pairing with traditional fried fare or milk chocolate gelt to celebrate a hard-won dreidel victory.

1. Ca’ Dei Zago prosecco. My favorite Hanukkah wines are bubbly to better cut through the oil from a crisp latke. This brilliant, unfiltered farmer fizz is made from Glera grapes and has complex floral and crisp mineral notes.
$24, available at Cork & Rind

2. Red Newt Circle riesling. The Finger Lakes region of New York is a world-class location to produce riesling. This is a great off-dry wine that pairs well with fried food, but has enough sugar to stand up to chocolate or a jelly doughnut.
$14, available at The Wine & Cheese Place in Clayton

3. Twin Suns cabernet sauvignon is an excellent kosher option with deep, rich and plummy notes the pair perfectly with brisket.
$15, available at The Wine & Cheese Place in Creve Coeur

Drink This Weekend Edition: 3 wines to demolish your Halloween candy stash

Friday, November 6th, 2015



Maybe your kids recently went out in a silly outfit and came back with a mountain of candy. Perhaps you overestimated the number of trick-or-treaters you thought would come to your door and have picked at that bowl of sweets all week. Either way, it’s time to finish them off this weekend, grown-up style. Invite some friends over and pair Halloween treats with a few great bottles of wine. Here, my favorite three candy and vino pairings:

1. Kids tend to inhale milk chocolate or cookies-and-cream mini bars and leave behind the dark chocolate pieces. For more mature palates, dark chocolate pairs perfectly with a Giribaldi Caj Barbera d’Alba. Rarely does a pairing elevate both the wine and the food but in this case, the chocolate and wine sung together in perfect harmony. $20, available at Lucky’s Market in Ellisville

2. Sometimes you get those overly sweet-sour candies everyone hates (I’m looking at you, Nerds.). These silly candies go great with a somewhat tart frizzante wine – I recommend finding a bottle of vinho verde. The Aveleda Casal Garcia Branco vinho verde has slight fizz and sweetness and a tart finish that perfectly complements a box of crunchy little Nerds. $8, available at Randall’s Wine & Spirits in St. Louis

3. OK, technically, caramel apples aren’t candy, but this treat is everywhere right now. While I love apples, I wasn’t a huge fan of this dessert until someone convinced me to try it with an oloroso sherry. It worked beautifully. The nuttiness in a bottle of Lustau Don Nuno oloroso will highlight the complexity in the caramel, and the acidity will match well with the apple. $30, available at Starrs
Ben Wood has more than 10 years experience in the wine industry. He currently works as shop manager of Cork & Rind. 

Drink This Weekend Edition: 3 ciders for wine lovers

Thursday, October 8th, 2015



Ciders are a classic fall weather choice. They’re made from fruit that’s perfectly in season – pears and apples mostly – and are perfect to drink right now. While cider is typically the provenance of beer producers and drinkers, wine lovers will find unique, interesting flavors to tempt their palates. Here, three of my favorites from around the world, all available locally.
1. Quebrada del Chucao Sidra Espumante is made from apples grown in a 60-year-old Chilean orchard. It starts notes of forest floor and wild grass on the nose. It’s crisp and clean with pure apple on the palate and is amazing with soft cheese like Camembert.
$15, available at Cord & Rind

2. Bonny Doon ¿Querry? is a nontraditional a blend of pears, apples and quince. Crisply acidic but with an unmistakable quince flavor, this is just off-dry and is delicious with sushi, spicy Thai food or pho.
$9, available at Total Wine in Ballwin

3. Christian Drouin Poire is a rare Normandy pear cider from a house normally known for Calvados. This delicious gem has a pronounced pear note, followed by melon and citrus and just a hint of hay or grass. It’s a little on the sweet side, so try it with fruit tarts and other desserts.
$15, available at Starrs


Ben Wood has more than 10 years experience in the wine industry. He currently works as shop manager of Cork & Rind.

Drink This Weekend Edition: 3 wines cued up to the perfect track

Friday, September 4th, 2015

Wine pairs wonderfully with food, and as a guitarist, I’ve found certain bottles pair quite nicely with music, too. Here, three bottles to drink this weekend – and three tracks to play while you sip:



1. The Rolling Stones are rock gods, and The big bold flavors of this killer Big Table Farm pinot noir from Oregon’s Willamette Valley go perfectly with the energetic Stones’ track, Sticky Fingers. Enjoy hints of smoke, wood and rock ‘n’ roll.
$42, available at Cork & Rind



2. Like all jazz musicians, saxophonist Charlie Parker has had a huge influence on me. His rich melodic palate and incendiary rhythmic freedom created some of the most complex, bouncy jazz around. Download the remastered version of Charlie Parker with Strings, The Complete Master Takes and note how Parker’s saxophone floats like bubbles over a pillow of musical complexity – just like Champagne. Dig this great record with Pierre Moncuit Blanc De Blanc Hugues de Coulmet.
$48, available at Parker’s Table



3. Some times that three-minute radio format (or a single glass of wine) is not going to cut it. You need something longer, more brooding, something that develops in richness over time. You need classical music. Gustav Holst’s The Planets musically interprets the seven planets known at the time of its composition (1916). At nearly an hour long, Holst’s masterpiece requires a bottle you can ruminate over. Try a sweet wine from the Roussilion in southern France. The 1970 Domaine de Rancy Rivesaltes – a sweet amber nectar stunning in its richness and complexity – is an ideal wine for listening and pondering the universe.
$135, The Wine & Cheese Place


Ben Wood has more than 10 years experience in the wine industry. He currently works as shop manager of Cork & Rind. 


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