Wine In Normandy — Off To A Predicted Poor Start

Just before leaving Alameda, a local wine merchant pointed out that Normandy was a land bereft of wine, but overflowing in Calvados, their famous apple brandy named for the department or state where it was invented and where it reigns supreme. Being an invincible optimist, I remained confident that I would find some good wine […]

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In The East Bay And Looking For A Glass Of Wine?

Unless you’ve been on another planet for the past few years, it’s impossible to be unaware of the meteoric growth of the East Bay dining scene. Restaurants of every size and style, as well as gourmet groceries, niche wine shops and trend-setting food trucks, have been popping up like spring mushrooms all along this side […]

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Mea Culpa, Ireland

When I was a teacher my most effective tone of voice could be found somewhere between monotonous nag and screeching harangue. And my favorite verbal floggings came with phrases like “get a second set of eyes,” “take another look,” and “reread it…again.” A student once insisted that if he heard me say any of those […]

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Wine in Paris, Or Paying Attention In French Class

I just got back from a week in Paris, which is something I don’t get to say or write nearly often enough. While there I was struck by many things regarding the place of wine in the French culture. The five I’ve listed below are all things that American diners, restaurants, and wine producers should […]

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Doing Wine The Right Way

The wine world is a complex place, not often open to Manichaenistic compartmentalizing. You cannot look at things wine-related and say, necessarily, this is good, that is bad. So, it comes as no surprise that the places that gave me fits on my recent trip to NYC were some of the same places where I […]

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The Terrible Twos

The Grape Belt recently celebrated (quietly and with much-deserved humility) its two-year anniversary. Amid the raft of telegrams, state visits, and grand public encomiums that never arrived or took place, a friend suggested I ought to let my blog do what many two-year-olds are so good at doing: throw a temper tantrum. Well, the staff […]

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Hope Springs Eternal

The best way for restaurants to make money from their wine lists is to charge less. I know that sounds counter-intuitive, and to some restauranteurs it’s a mix of lunacy and stupidity, but it makes complete sense. If wine is more affordable, people will be more inclined to drink it. If, when new guests are seated, they […]

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Hop On Pop

It’s always fun to pick on easy targets, like those restaurants with their overpriced wine lists who mistake diners for suckers. But it’s even more fun to discover those restaurants that get it right. These establishments not only price their lists appropriately, but actually have lists worth digging into, and the service that those lists […]

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Thank You, Sir. May I Have Another?

A few years ago, many Americans were caught up in the “six degrees of Kevin Bacon” phenomenon: we know somebody who knows somebody…who knows Kevin Bacon. Well, the fact of the matter is not that we know Kevin Bacon, it is that we ARE Kevin Bacon. Specifically, the Kevin Bacon character named Chip that we see […]

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