October 29, 2014
B UZZ: I had enough French in high school to know blanc means white. But grapes, like sauvignon blanc, are green. Shouldn't it be sauvignon vert ? Marnie: That's a good question, Buzz. Green wine grapes likely weren't dubbed "white" because they look white but to emphasize their contrast with purple grapes, which are so dark they look black on the vine. Buzz: So, you're saying winemakers think in black and white? Marnie: I guess they must, since that's how they historically named grape varieties in Europe.
June 2, 2014
The Italians love playing with colors - especially in their wines. First, they started the modern "orange wine" trend by vinting white grapes on their skins like red wines. Now comes Alter Ego, a dry "white" made by Andrea Occhipinti from Aleatico, a Muscat-scented grape usually made into a sweet red. Occhipinti ( not Sicilian superstar Arianna Occhipinti), is an academic who settled on the volcanic slopes of Lake Bolsena in Lazio (a region that includes Rome) and melds indigenous grapes with innovative techniques.
May 9, 2014
BUZZ: Hey, Marnie, can grapes grow indoors? My neighbor does hydroponic tomatoes in his sunroom, so why not wine grapes? Marnie: Grapevines are more like little trees than tomato plants, Buzz. They need to put down deep roots and would require tending for decades. Besides, hydroponic grapes would make for pretty bland wine. Buzz: Why's that? Marnie: Well, hydroponic gardening uses no soil - plant roots are bathed in a nutrient solution instead. This produces decent flavor in herbs and greens, since leaves have a simple flavor structure, but grapes are more multidimensional.
February 5, 2014 |
Greek and Roman historians were fond of depicting northern Europeans as beer-swilling barbarians, incapable of appreciating the fruits of sun-splashed Mediterranean vineyards. Writing in the late first century B.C., Dionysius of Halicarnassus sniffed that northerners were known to drink a "foul-smelling liquor made from barley rotted in water. " Time to give the barbarians some credit, says University of Pennsylvania archaeologist Patrick E. McGovern. Chemical analysis of residues from ancient drinking vessels and strainers, found in what are now Denmark and Sweden, reveal traces of elaborate hybrid beverages made from berries, birch resin, honey, and herbs, McGovern said.
October 11, 2013
B UZZ: Hey, Marnie, can you grow wine grapes in Philly? Marnie: I suppose you could, but I don't know anyone doing it in the city. Why? Buzz: A guy at work makes homemade wine as a family tradition. He was all proud telling me they switched from buying West Coast grapes to Pennsylvania grapes. I can't figure out why, though, since California's famous for good wine and Philly's not. Marnie: It's not that simple, Buzz. You can absolutely grow good grapes and make good wine in Pennsylvania.
September 13, 2013
PASCAL WAGNER looked me in the eyes and assured me: "Don't be afraid. Just put it in your mouth. " I paused. My companions on this weeklong expedition to the lush vineyards of Burgundy nodded with encouragement. "Go ahead," one said. "Lick it. " "You can actually taste the terroir," said Pascal, a sommelier, cellarman and local wine expert who was tutoring us on the ins and outs of the local product. I glanced down at my hand again. It held a small, dirty stone that I'd just scavenged from the soil beneath a vine laden with tight bunches of green grapes nearly ready for harvest.
July 8, 2013 |
MAIPÚ, Argentina - Ten minutes in the orchard and already my hands felt raw. How do they do this all day without gloves, I wondered, shuffling my feet for a better foothold in Argentina's sandy clay. It was Thursday, the day we'd expected to be tasting wine at the Zuccardi family's finca (ranch) and winery, in Maipú, Mendoza Province. Instead, we were clawing through a tangle of branches, trying to pick enough olives to feed Zuccardi's state-of-the-art olive oil press. It looked so easy when Torey Novak, Zuccardi's tour guide, gave a demonstration.
June 21, 2013
BUZZ: Hey, Marnie, what's your favorite grape? Mine is raisin. Have 'em with breakfast every morning. Marnie: Raisins aren't a type of grape, Buzz, they're dried grapes. Usually, seedless table grapes are used, since wine grapes have seeds. Buzz: OK, so what's your fave wine grape, then? Marnie: I like them all, but I have a special fondness for Riesling. Buzz: No way! That's a sweet white, right? I thought that stuff was for dabblers, not big-shot sommeliers like you. Marnie: Well, it's true that Riesling appeals to wine novices and those who haven't acquired a taste for dry wines.
May 9, 2013
Buz z: Hey, Marnie. My wife sent me to the store to stock up on white zin for Mother's Day. How can people drink that stuff? Marnie: What's wrong with white zinfandel, Buzz? It may not be a "serious" wine, but there's nothing wrong with wines that are more fun than fancy. White zin is one of the top-selling wine styles, so a lot of people obviously like it. It's perfect for when you want something affordable that's lightly sweet and not too strong, such as at brunches and picnics.
December 20, 2012
'Wine Simplified' e-book As the publishing industry heads toward more e-books, a few genres may benefit from the shift. Drink education books are a good example because of their multimedia features and easily updated content. That's especially true when, as with Wine Simplified (Betterbook), a project benefits from the clear-palate advice of an expert like local sommelier Marnie Old, who partnered with Anthony Giglio. Available on iPad and iPhone, Wine Simplified is essentially a textbook with far more information than it first appears, from the basics of tasting and different grapes, to advice on reading labels and ordering in a restaurant (including recordings of Old pronouncing the grapes)