Wines For The World Cup

Categories: Vine Geeks

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Nathan Claiborn
Okay, I'll watch the World Cup.

I have to say that I've completely let myself down. I've been a lifelong hater of soccer, it's boring, it's frustrating and tedious to watch, you can't use your hands, there's no heavy hitting or grand slams or ally-oop dunks. But, after watching Team USA surprise Ghana, live on Monday afternoon I'm officially a convert. I know, I know, what a sell out. But, you have to admit that it was pretty exciting to see and now I fully understand the fascination the rest of the world holds for futbol. It's a game of suspense, lots and lots of suspense until it's released by a goooooooooooooooool!!!!!

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3 Burly, Manly Wines for Dad

Categories: Vine Geeks

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Nathan Claiborn
A power drill for Dad's palate.

Poor Dad. We celebrate him every year for all the work he does. But how do we do it? We buy him ties to wear to work, power tools to fix stuff around the house and maybe a lawn mower to remind him of the yard that needs it. And to top it off, we buy steaks for him to grill. This year, let's put the cufflinks, mitre saws, and weed-whackers back on the shelf and get Dad something that appeals both to his masculinity and hedonism. Wine.

Not just any wine will do for our intrepid fathers. We have to find wine that feels and tastes manly, that requires some work to appreciate. So here are the biggest, manliest, burliest wines to give Dad this Father's Day.

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5 Things an Aspiring Sommelier Needs to Know

Categories: Vine Geeks

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Nathan Claiborn
Very glamorous, now go put it away.

During the past few years, we've witnessed the rise of the "celebrity chef," with myriad television shows glorifying a once-humble profession to the point of rock-stardom. With that glorification come the countless folks who dream of dropping out of the corporate rat race, going to culinary school and becoming the next Gordon Ramsay. This dream is typically crushed in short order upon realizing that cooking for a living is back-breaking work with weird hours and less-than-great pay.

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Arizona Wines Make A Splash

Categories: Vine Geeks

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Nathan Claiborn
Pillsbury Wine Company's tasting room in Cottonwood

It's been a banner week for the Arizona wine scene, with some national and international light shining upon our up and coming wine business. As first reported by the Australian liquor business blog The Shout, Pillsbury Wine Company has reached a preliminary distribution deal with Decante This, a small niche distributor down under.

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Why Biodynamic Farming Is Overrated

Categories: Vine Geeks

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Nathan Claiborn
When burying a horn full of poop makes a better wine, call me.

We all like to pat ourselves on the back for shopping at farmers markets, buying organic produce, finding purveyors who care about how their farming practices affect the Earth, etc. I'm one of those people: I buy stuff from farmers markets and celebrate those producers who care about what they are doing. Along with the buzzwords "organic," "sustainable," "carbon-neutral," stands one that, in the wine business especially, garners way too much acclaim for not enough results and that is "biodynamic."

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3 Perfect Wines for Summer

Categories: Vine Geeks

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Nathan Claiborn
Just a couple of summer wines to look for.

I don't know about you, but I was not ready to see triple digits this past weekend. 'Tis the season for Phoenicians to bemoan to arrival of the hot summer. The spring here in the Valley was glorious as usual, made even more so by watching the Midwest and Northeast get clobbered over and over again by winter storms. I take secret glee in watching the Weather Channel while sitting in my shorts and flip-flops. So, even though we have to prepare ourselves for the hard part of our year, none of that preparation includes tuning up a snow blower or buying new shovels. Like I always say, you never have to shovel heat or scrape it off your windshield.

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The Unsung Art of Blending Wine

Categories: Vine Geeks

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Nathan Claiborn
This is what a blending session looks like.

It is de rigueur these days to talk about terroir driven wines, wines that evoke a sense of place based on the geographical sites that give certain characteristics based on microclimate and soil type. It's also trendy to talk about "non-interventionist" winemaking, letting the wine make itself with as little human manipulation as possible, using native yeasts etc. etc. All of this is great, and a worthy philosophical view toward making wine as naturally as possible.

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Northern Italian White Wines: Stuff I'm Geekin' On

Categories: Vine Geeks

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Nathan Claiborn
Mid-April is upon us in the Valley, which means temperatures are beginning to hint at summer. The macho among us will make a point of bragging about not turning their A/C on until it hits such and such temperature, as if were a contest to see how much heat they can endure. I, however have already turned mine on and have already begun thinking about how to keep cool during the hot season. Naturally, my thoughts turn to which wines will slake the inevitable summer thirst. Northern Italian whites fit the bill perfectly. Northern Italy is home to many unique, accessible, and refreshing white wines. Here are a few of my favorites.

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5 Things Your Sommelier Really Doesn't Want You To Do

Categories: Vine Geeks

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Nathan Claiborn
It's a cork, don't sniff it.
Going out to eat, particularly at an upscale spot, is fraught with landmines of personal interactions with various restaurant staff in an atmosphere charged with one-upmanship and general social posturing. Nothing demonstrates this more than navigating the wine list with a sommelier.

For whatever reason, the subject of wine brings out people's insecurities in surprising ways; trying to stump the sommelier, showing off your wine savvy to your guests, asking for a glass of malbec without looking at the list, etc etc. Good sommeliers want you to have a wine that makes you happy. Good customers will work with the sommelier to that end. So here are five things that your sommelier really doesn't want you to do.

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Riedel: A Lesson in Silliness.

Categories: Vine Geeks

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Nathan Claiborn

If you haven't figured it out by now, demystifying wine and making it more accessible to more people is my raison d'etre here in my weekly Vine Geeks blog. Whether it be celebrating a new Arizona wine or taking aim at the outright hubris of the "big boys," I really just want more people to fall in love with wine like I did. I figure the way to do that is to peel back the pretentious onion for those who are maybe curious but intimidated by all the silliness surrounding the subject of wine. Some of that silliness is perfectly illustrated by The Riedel Glass Company.


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