Sunday, December 15, 2013

USA Today City Guides Feature Philly Museums, NYC Chestnuts

USA Today the newspaper also prints newstand publications including major city travel guides. The two guides just stocked on the stands each has an article by me - one about Philadelphia's wealth of small museums, another about an old chestnut - roasted chestnuts dispensed by Manhattan street vendors.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Two Features in Latest Drinks

Here are the opening pages of my two articles in the Winter 2014 edition of Drinks magazine.

In Go Escape: Beach Resorts Cover

Now on newstands - the winter 2014 issue of Go/Escape, USA Today's glossy travel mag, with my cover article on 7 dream beach resorts in the Caribbean, the U.S., and Mexico. On the cover - Peter Island. Others in the 8-page spread are Jade Mountain, Little Palm Island, Maroma, Eden Rock/St. Barths, Casa Ybel and Four Seasons Hualalai.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Brandywine Book of The Seasons: Perfect Holiday & Visitor Present

It's here! The Brandywine Book of the Seasons! In time for the holidays, we've stocked all our partner shops, museums, wineries and stores with our book about Brandywine's regional chefs, artisan food and wine producers and just plain foodies with 45 illustrated recipes. The book is glossy stock with full color photos and illustrations on every page. Buy them at these places which accept money (no euros or bitcoins, please!): Centreville Cafe, Bakers at Doe Run, Longwood Gardens, Talula's Table and Talula's Daily (Philadelphia), 9th Street Books, Chester County Books, Winterthur Museum & Gardens, Brandywine River Museum, Hagley Museum, Apropos, The Mushroom Cap, Va La Vineyards, Fairville Inn, Willowdale Shop, Capers & Lemons, Twelves, Harvest Market, The Kitchen Sink. If you don't live near any of these shops, send us an e-mail at for shopping by mail info.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

New 'The Daily Meal' Slide Show: Golden Wine in the Venice Lagoon

I have a new slide show posted to The Daily Meal on the Venissa estate in the Venice Lagoon where the Bisol family has resurrected a golden, ancient grape - Dorona - and is making delicious wine from it. And Venissa is a great launching pad with its quiet guest house and elegant restaurant if you are exploring Venice. More at

Saturday, November 2, 2013

In the Writer's Yearbook 2014: Grow Your Freelance Business

The Writer's Yearbook 2014 is now on newsstands with my article containing ideas on how independent writers can better grow their business. Here's the opening page:

Monday, October 28, 2013

A Drinker's Notebook #12: Cortaccia's Stations of the Glass

The mountains of Alto Adige around Bolzano produce some of the prettiest scenery and best wines in the world. Cortaccia winery, a top-quality co-op, invited me to participate in one of its programs that makes the best of both. One day each month, they invite customers from near and far to take a somewhat scary ride to the top of a prominent escarpment and drink their way down, guided through vineyards and on trails to drink four different wines beside the vineyards where the grapes for each wine were grown. They are accompanied by someone from the winery who carries the bottles in his backpack, in my case wine expert Michael Anrather. "Where we are starting, at about 850 meters in the village of Graun, we had snow last week," Anrather tells me as we drive up mountain tracks. As with most wine trails in Alto Adige - also called the Sud Tirol, there are stations of the cross leading the faithful through the mountains to ancient churches in the highland villages. In our case, I think, we are enjoying stations of the glass - the first one a Muller-Thurgau grown at Graun. Anrather pauses for a view from above the filtering clouds. By the time we get to the second station of the glass, we have descended through a cleft in the cliffs and are at the small village of Hofstatt, where Anrather tests the wine - a 2012 Hofstatt Weissburgunder or Pinot Bianco - while we read the sign that tells its origin. It is delicious, with lots of chalk and acidity to balance the floral and creamy notes and the crisp-apple fruitiness. It is by far the best wine I have ever tasted while taking a arduous, if downhill, hike. Anrather recorks the bottle, and we are ready to move on - still high above the valley floor and two more stations to go.

Apple Gin to Rhubarb Amaro: Article on Wild Spirits

Access my latest article for at

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Caviar Affair: Pink Champagnes

Caviar Affair is one of the most-elegant magazines that I write for, but it is not sold on newsstands. For more information, go to

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Daily Meal: Now Introducing The Real Winegrowers of Alsace

On a recent trip to Alsace, I was struck by the diversity of the winegrowers I met - how they made wine, how they thought about making wine, even how they became winegrowers. Here is an introduction to 10 of these producers, many whose names you have seen on the bottle labels. Go to

Sunday, October 6, 2013

A Drinker's Notebook #11: Personalized Pairing in Alsace

A special joy of wine trips is the opportunity to meet with winegrowing families who have for generations, often centuries, made wines and paired them with foods from their own kitchens. But a stop last week in the small town of Mittelbergheim in Alsace, known for its grand cru Zotzenberg vineyard, was extra special among the specials. While brother Thomas processed early grapes coming into their Boeckel winery in the middle of the village (where the family residences are also located, as is the regional custom), Jean-Daniel Boeckel, the fifth generation, took us on a tour of the family's vineyards as rain clouds threatened overhead. After an hour of walking among the vines, we returned to town for a tasting of Boeckel Cremants, Rieslings, Gewurztraminers, a Pinot Gris, Pinot Blancs and Sylvaners. Sylvaner is special in Mittelbergheim, as here alone it is given grand cru status when grown in the Zotzenberg. As we sipped, spit and swallowed in the Boeckel tasting room, Jean-Daniel's young daughters played games in the private rooms above us. Following the tasting, we moved next door to the family dining room, where mother Christiane had prepared a mouth-watering lunch whose centerpiece was a steaming coq au Reisling. Not to be outdone, father Emile, "officially" retired, pulled a rare bottle of 1957 Boeckel Riesling Reserve, made by his father, from the cellar to get things started. "In those years, we hadn't yet officially named the grand crus," he reminded us, "so we just called the best wines our 'Reserves.'" The 56-year-old wine had its cork changed about 25 years ago, Emile informed us as he gently extracted it. The wine was more than just a curiosity. It was lovely - delicate and golden, yet with a firm backbone. I drank my portion of the wine with the creamy coq, and it was a divine pairing. There were other foods and other wines as the meal progressed, but these two were the stars of the show - along with Christiane and Emile. As we said our goodbyes, I reflected on the great vineyards, wines, foods and conversation, but especially the lovely Boeckel family who took us into their home and provided us with lasting memories.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

New Zealand Wines in Taste Mag

Taste magazine is printed quarterly as a wine and spirits magazine available to consumers in all of Pennsylvania's start-run retail stores. The current issue contains my article on New Zealand wines. Here is the opening spread.

Monday, September 16, 2013

A Drinker's Notebook #10: Cakebread Kitchen, Apres-Dinner

Many of us who love food and wine enjoy a taste of getting as close as we can to the real thing - a night on Islay watching and smelling the grain being roasted at Bowmore over a peat fire, gathering truffles in Umbria, sitting in the kitchen at Talula's Table in Pennsylvania as the chefs do their magic. So I especially savored my last evening at Cakebread Cellars' annual American Harvest Workshop, when I and 10 other foodies and winos helped five professional chefs prepare a dinner for 65 guests seated outside on Cakebread's Pecan Patio in the warm Napa Valley September evening air. The real chefs of Cakebread were Greg Biggers of Sofitel Chicago Water Tower, Jim Severson of Sevy's Grill in Dallas, Brad Turley of GoGa in Shanghai, Marc McDowell of Makena Beach & Golf Resort in Maui and Eric Haugen of The Lambs Club in NYC. I was assigned to Chef Haugen, a personable young man who teaches as well as he cooks. For about three hours, I chopped, peeled, seeded, cut and mixed for him along with another amateur cook. As the last course was being plated, we started bringing out our glasses and the partial bottles of various Cakebread reds that were coming back into the kitchen. That's Chef Biggers, glass in hand, as we wrapped things up and a few minutes later all toasted to an evening spent with the grown-ups. What was I drinking? I never looked at the labels at this point - just as long as it was red and Cakebread.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

In the Fall Issue of Drinks: American Whiskey Reigns

If you want another shot, e-mail me for the complete article.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

R.I.P - Death of a Magazine

Eight years ago, I got a call from an editor asking if I would contribute a regular feature to a new publication he was putting together called Signature Brandywine. Usually an editor you don't know seldom contacts you cold for an assignment (unfortunately), but, in this case, I was at the time also writing a weekly wine column for the magazine's publisher, The NewsJournal daily newspaper in Wilmington, Delaware. So the call wasn't all that unusual. Almost all the publications I write for are national or international, and that's where the most money is to be made, but I have to admit that I have written some of my best articles - generally profiles of artists and artisans - for local magazines, including Signature. In the years since that call in the summer of 2005, I have written dozens of articles for at least three different Signature editors who held the post for more than an issue. Now, that's all over. Signature Brandywine abruptly ceased publication last week coincident with the September 2013 issue. I have two articles in it, one on the new First State National Park and another on some unusual grape varieties grown by local wineries. An article I wrote on a local auto museum and handed in the week before will not be published - at least not in Signature. Even in the magazine heyday of the 1960s - 1990s, publications came and went, so now is not a particular time to be maudlin about the loss of another one. I do feel sorry for the editor. While she will apparently get another assignment within the organization, I know she loved editing Signature and was doing a good job at it. But I feel sorry for myself, too. In addition to the money aspects of writing, most of us writers want - need - a variety of places to express ourselves. It was a dependable forum, and I will miss it.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Great Wines, Odd Winemaking! Details Posted at

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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

A Drinker's Notebook No. 9: Bottles to Spare on Dark Monday

If you have friends who are chefs, you know the best time to do something socially with them is Monday night. Some restaurants close on Sunday, some on Tuesday, but generally the universal day that a restaurant will be dark is on a Monday. "Would you guys like to come over next Monday?" we asked the chef at one of our favorite places. "Would love to," came the reply, "but we ate at your place last time, and, besides, its a school night for the kids. Come over here." And so Ella and I did. It's always fun to eat in a chef's kitchen when he or she is off duty. First, they tend to cook what for them is comfort food, since they have been cooking formally for other people all week. Second, they are probably at their most relaxed and in a mood to talk. The food was relatively simple - at least by his standards. Homemade charcuterie and local cheeses to start, followed by a bouillabaisse with lobster, scallops, flounder, fresh fennel seeds, a touch of lavender and one of the most-delicate tomato sauces I have ever tasted. "I can't remember the last time I fixed one," he said, plus I had an idea he didn't want to get that far away from his French training and the repertoire that came with it. We talked about jobs, writing, working in a classic French kitchen, God, greedy customers and great customers, travel and where to go next. The four of us also drank a fair amount of wine - a sparkling Moscato to start, a Chablis and a Rioja rosato from his wine list and an older Linden Virginia cabernet and a Santenay from my cellar. We didn't talk much about the food or the wine or how they paired, though occasionally observing that something was damned delicious. It was just the people and the experience and what I'm sure for the kids in the next room was the happy drone of adult conversation. When life is good, you don't bother to take a lot of notes.

Friday, August 23, 2013

In the New Drinks Business: Blends that Frighten Vintners

In a profession that loves to blend all kinds of wines, the thought of making non-vintage or multi-vintage wines still sends most winemakers running. Here is the opening spread of an article in the current issue of The Drinks Business on a few winemakers who are daring to think differently.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Beverage Media: Controlling Retail Overhead Tips Posted in July Issue

For those in the retail business, my article on controlling overhead costs is in the July issue of the Beverage Media publications that serve as the wine and spirits buying guides in most states. Here's a link:

Saturday, August 17, 2013

In September Writer's Digest: Article on Freelance Business

The September issue of Writer's Digest - now on your newsstand - is devoted to the topic of how to jump-start your writing career and includes my piece on "How to Build a Successful Freelance Business."

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A Drinker's Notebook No. 8: Titrating a Bloody at 7452 Feet

The Bloody Mary, perhaps the world's best savory cocktail, was reportedly invented in the 1930s at the King Cole Bar at the St. Regis hotel in New York City. Since then, each new St. Regis location has come up with its own version of the classic Bloody Mary. So when I was finished with a tour of Main Street in Park City, Utah, recently, my host from the Chamber of Commerce, Amy Kersey, asked me what I wanted to do next, as we were way early for our planned lunch at the Montage Deer Valley. In no time we were on the funicular up the mountain to the St. Regis Deer Park. It was 11:29 - perfect timing, as most bars in Utah open at 11:30. We were seated on a rooftop terrace overlooking the mountain where bikers were criss-crossing the slopes on their way to the top and where workers with chain saws were cutting a new ski run high above us. Amy opted out of a real drink - we both were working, but to different drummers - and soon I had the "7452 Mary," named for the altitude, placed before me. If featured St. Regis' base Bloody Mary mix, its house vodka, a dash of cayenne and a rim of black lava salt served in a squat glass. The kicker was a small pipette planted in the middle of the glass and filled with an espuma of wasabi and celery. I could titrate as little or a much as I wanted. Fearing an overdose, I went to the low side - injecting just a couple of drops. The drink was magnificent as was the conversation, between sips, with Amy. As we rode back down the incline, I decided that, in this case, the view was definitely worth the climb.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

A Drinker's Notebook #7: Afternoon, Banyuls-sur-Mer

Noon on a Friday, Banyuls-sur-Mer. Last day of a tour sponsored by composite cork manufacturer, DIAM Bouchage. Portugal, Spain, France. Learn about corks during the day, eat and drink wine in the evening. Tutelage over each dinner by Evan Goldstein, wines flowing out of DIAM-sealed bottles. Clos de la Siete, William Fevre, Billecart-Salmon, Palacios, Corton-Charlemagne - all the stations of the cork. Sacramento restaurant in Lisbon, two-star Atrio in Caceres, a picnic lunch at a cork farm near San Vincente. Now, everyone else is out on a boat. I relax in the shade of trees and an umbrella at Domaine St Sebastien, a combined open-air bistro and fine-wine producer across the street from the beach. I order a cocktail, Le Catalan, an icy concoction of apricot juice and sweet Banyuls red in a Pilsner glass with a slice of lemon. It is delicious. Conversation buzzes at distant tables like jarflies in the forest. A plate of frites passes by, a nice lingering aroma. I think about the past few days - what I have heard, seen, tasted. Stories begin to form. Tomorrow, an airplane back across the Atlantic from Barcelona. Life is good - and possibly interesting, as well. Read more at and (check slide shows).

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Sommelier Journal Cover Article: Fine Chiantis That Aren't Classico

A little over two years ago I extended a reporting trip to Bordeaux to fly to Florence to attend a symposium on the wines from Chianti Colli Fiorentino. I was impressed with what I saw and tasted, and that visit became the genesis for my cover story in the July 15 issue of Sommelier Journal on "The Other Chiantis." Many people think that Chianti Classico is a quality measure, when it is actually only one of eight Chianti geographic designations, albeit by far the best known one. This article is about the other seven. For the full report, sign up for a subscription at

Sunday, June 30, 2013

First Report on Wines of Crete

I just returned late last week from a delightful trip to Crete, mainly to taste the wines, but also to meet winemakers and to enjoy the Greek island's food and culture. I will be writing several in-depth stories, but first impressions are at I visited several wineries and vineyards, including the stunning mountaintop estate, pictured above, at Domaine Zacharioudakis near Plouti not far from the southern coast and the Libyan Sea.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Now Posted to - California's Small-Batch Bubblies

Just posted to, the online site for Details magazine, my article on the best California small-batch sparkling wines, that state's answer to France's grower Champagnes. More at

Friday, June 21, 2013

More from Sommelier Journal: Feature on Va La Vineyards

The July 15 issue of Sommelier Journal on its way to your mailbox has my four-page feature on Va La Vineyards - or you can check it out soon at the Sommelier Journal website. Here's a preview...

Saturday, May 25, 2013

A Drinker's Notebook #6: Connecting All the Bottles

Stefano Inama and Eric Miller are two of my favorite winemakers - not only do they know how to get what they want out of the grapes they grow, they also are good conversionalists, not only about winegrowing but about whatever topic you may want to bring up. "Am I still a winemaker?" Eric asks over our BYOB dinner at Twelves restaurant in West Grove. Ella and I have known Lee and Eric almost from the time they first established Chaddsford Winery over 25 years ago. "Of course, you are," I say. "Once a winemaker, always a winemaker, even if you are temporarily a retired one." Twelves is one of our favorite restaurants, true to its "grill and cafe" subtitle. Tonight, I am making a second introduction of winemaker Miller to winemaker Inama through the latter's wines. The Millers are visiting the Veneto in the fall, and I suggested they drop by Inama's winery and vineyards in Soave - that's now on the calendar. And as I had recently received Inama samples from Dalla Terra, his U.S. agent, I thought they would go well with Tim Smith's cuisine. And so we start off with Inama's 100% Garganega "Vigneti di Foscarino," a single-vineyard Soave Classico, which I have with sauteed calamari. Next comes the Inama Carmenere "Piu" (with 30% Merlot), which I have with Tim's very succulent lamb chops. Of course, the Millers have brought wines as well, including an older red Burgundy and a sparkler from Clos Pepe. Hold on to your seatbelts; it's going to be a long evening...

Thursday, May 16, 2013

In the current Intermezzo: Foraging in California wilds

Foraging was common practice growing up on a hillside farm in West Virginia - wild greens, blackberries by the bucket, walnuts and hickory nuts,sassafras tea, an occasional squirrel or rabbit. I got back to my roots, so to speak, in the mountains of Mendocinio and Marin counties of California for this text-and-pix piece for Intermezzo. Unlike with the city sidewalks, what you almost step on there may be something good to eat.

In the current Drinks Business: Why California is still winning

I love writing for the London-based publication, The Drinks Business, because the editors allow me to fully explore interesting wine topics. In this case, they asked me to examine current wine trends in the U.S. and how they were impacting California's American wine sales. The headline metaphor is not mine, but it accurately reflects what they are doing out on the coast. If you want to know more, please send me an e-mail.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

In This May's Wine Enthusiast: The Grape Growers of Napa Valley

Not everyone in Napa Valley wants to make wine. Here is the opening spread of my article on "Meet the Grape Growers of Napa Valley" in the May issue of Wine Enthusiast.

Friday, April 5, 2013

A Drinker's Notebook No. 5: Nosing with Enrique Tirado

One of the treats in being a wine writer is that I get the opportunity to taste a wine with the person who made it. Recently I sat down at the Benjamin Steakhouse in New York with Concha y Toro's Enrique Tirado, who has been making their iconic Cabernet Sauvignon blend, Don Melchor, since 1997. In front of us were glasses of the 1995, 2001, 2005 and 2009 vintages. A shipment of the latter, Tirado said, was somewhere on the high seas and will be the "current vintage" when it arrives in the United States. After we sniffed, swirled, sipped and spat, we discussed the wines and why each tasted as delicious as it did. Although my favorite at the moment is the 2005, it was interesting to note the family resemblances of all four - delicious, concentrated, dark-berry flavors, big tannins that are nevertheless harmonious, lean finishes, some mint and some earth. And all remind me of why Chile is one of the world's best producers of both high-end and affordable Cabernets.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Getting It Write

The new May/June issue of Writer's Digest arrived in the mail yesterday with my "anti-revision" article in it. It's part of a very well done section telling fiction and non-fiction writers how to handle revisions or to avoid them entirely. I've posted the cover and the first page of the article. You can pick up the issue at most major newsstands or order a subscription online.