IN VINO VERITAS by Jonathon Alsop

Everything I Needed To Know About Wine I Learned From Larry Bird

Everything I Needed To Know About Wine I Learned From Larry Bird

By Jonathon Alsop, Boston Wine School Founder & Exec. Dir.

The secret to great wine is the opposite of what most people think it is… but we can fix that.

BOSTON MA USA April 17, 2023 Bill Simmons, the writer formerly known as the Boston Sports Guy, once recounted a story of hanging out with Larry Bird and Isiah Thomas by a Las Vegas hotel pool. This tale was so vivid in its detail and almost hallucinogenic in tone that it captured what that head-spinning Magical Mystery Tour hang must have been like, if it actually happened, while at the same leaving you – me, at least – unsure a little if it even did happen.

Honestly, I’m blistering a bit myself picturing the strawberry-blond Bird in the Nevada sun, and it’s a vast stretch for me to imagine anyone anytime anywhere chatting and chirping away with the despised pariah Thomas.

Everybody scores points, but only one team wins.

Out of this surreality emerged a conversation about the game of basketball’s intangibles. Anyone who’s played to win knows that just putting the ball in the basket is really a small part of it. You can score a lot of points and still lose. Winning is spirit and drive, luck and communication and a few more major immeasurables. The “secret” to great basketball, Bird and Thomas agreed, was that it’s not about basketball. People who focus on basketball lose; people who focus on the intangible elements win.

As you might guess, people ask me all the time what’s the “secret” to great wine, from buying and collecting it to ordering in a restaurant and everything else you can imagine. Every single time, the answer is that it’s not about the wine.

White, pink or red, the wines from a vineyard with an interesting history are wines that are going to be interesting to drink. Wines that are utterly new to us are great not just because of the juice but also majorly thanks to the flash of novelty. Once you get to know an importer’s name and taste, the company logo on the back label can become the most important thing. And if you want an A+ bottle of wine in a restaurant, that happens when you create a beautiful relationship with the people; it’s not easy, but it’s worth it.

I’m not really giving anything away by revealing these secrets, none of which has anything to do with the wine in the bottle. Every wine lover wants every other wine lover to be drinking mind-bending wine too, but the focus for many people is too much on the juice itself and on the score of the juice versus the intangibles of winning wine: don’t talk about the wine, but talk about who made this wine, and why, and where, and how did it get here?

It’s not about the wine. It’s about everything else. And the wine.

The Big Red One

2019 Antigal “UNO” Malbec (Maipú, Mendoza, Argentina, about $18) Although I teach with Malbec all the time, it’s so ubiquitous and beloved that I forget sometimes to give it the attention it deserves. Unlike other synthetic and bordering on weird “days” of the year – yes, I’m talking about you, National Pine Cone Wreath Day – April 17 is World Malbec Day in honor of something that actually happened: in 1853, Argentina’s President Sarmiento hired the French to plant grapes, and the first Malbec arrived the same year.

There are a few wineries in Argentina older than Antigal, founded in 1897, but only a few. As an original early adopter from the century before the previous century, they’ve earned the right to bolt a big metallic numeral one on every bottle, and the experience delivers very much what that implies. What I love especially about this Malbec is that the flavor profile is higher and brighter and more fruit focused than typical. Malbec is a dependably big and dense red wine, and a lot of times it’s very earthy and subterranean.

There’s still plenty of bass in the mix, and there always will be, but this is the first Malbec ever that’s smelling predominately like flowers to me and tasting so much like blackberry jam. It’s soft enough that I’d confidently try it with wine lovers who are just getting into big red wines. It’s affordable enough that I can see drinking it while eating a rotisserie chicken over the sink some Tuesday night after getting home late from work. I regret not opening this last weekend with the amazing tandoori mixed grill from Shan-a-Punjab near BWS headquarters, but I won’t let that happen again.

If you buy a whole case at a friendly discount, we’re talking $3 a glass, which is irresistible. The “buy” flag is flying high for all big red wine lovers.

The Future Of Wine Online

The Future Of Wine Online

By Jonathon Alsop, Boston Wine School Founder & Exec. Dir.

First they said we were dead,
then they said it would never work,
and now it’s working

BOSTON MA USA March 15, 2022 When Covid crested and created the world of online wine tasting and education two years ago, one of the fears people had was that online classes would be sad, pale placeholder versions of the real thing and this new format would by its nature somehow debase, demean, and degrade the experience. Here at the Boston Wine School, I’ve found exactly the opposite, which means online is part of our learning model from now on.

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No matter what we do, it will never be sad and pale no matter what the circumstances around here, and right now, we are creating the same sorts of deep learning experiences and vivid moments where the lightbulb goes on over people’s heads just like in person. This is probably the most critical component in making this new format work for us: we insisted from the beginning that it was going to be just as fun, just as informative, and just as life changing as ever, no matter what the format.

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Guaranteed fun and informative no matter what the format

Second most critical is a video presentation tool called Prezi which allows us to use Powerpoint and other presentations without having to share the whole screen and break eye contact with people. We set out to satisfy these two curriculum criteria – one, that it be awesome, and two, that everybody be engaged – just like we would with any format, from eight people to 800.

Also newly important is the realization that online replaces in-person only for a small number of students. Maybe a million wine lovers live in Boston proper, but that means there are 300 million people who might come to class but the only thing stopping them is they don’t live in Boston. About a third of our online students are from around Boston, but the rest are from everywhere else. We found this geographic dispersion especially with our corporate clients: at first, they transitioned things already on the calendar to online, but as we saw how many people could be involved who could never be involved before, events became national and international.

Alcohol is always a problem to be solved, especially when you’re crossing state lines, which makes the whole innocent thing sound so dirty and impure in the first place. Shipping cheese and charcuterie by the bushel is no problem, and we can order from many different sources depending on the menu, but shipping wine falls into this legalistic realm of local, interstate, and national regulation.

We don’t – slash – can’t sell wine anyway, especially on a national scale, so we partner with Lifetime Vintage in Manhattan who has a great inventory of half bottles and ships the class wines everywhere in the USA it isn’t a felony – I’m looking at you, Kentucky! In the case of other “out of network” states like Utah and Alabama, wine class becomes part scavenger hunt, except I research the destination retailer ahead of time, and students shop for their own wines.

We solved this shipping problem by complete coincidence in the months just before Covid while we were busy trying to solve something else, so the timing – through no fault of my own – was perfect. Had we not had a nationwide solution already in place or had we not come up with one overnight, online classes would have only been local for us, a fraction of their size, and consequently impossible.

As Covid’s tide ebbs right now, we are at the beginning of offering tiny in-person Covid-smart classes and wine dinners to see where everyone is with their appetite for learning about wine and food elbow to elbow again. Maybe this is my PTSD talking, but the overwhelming feeling is that in-person could go away any second Covid discovers there are yet more letters in the Greek alphabet, so part of what makes classes Covid-smart is being ready to convert to and from other formats whenever we have to.

We hear the people yearn for a return to normal, which I’m willing to do so long as we can retain the effective and efficient forms that the abnormal times forced upon us.

Giving the Gift of Wine | Holiday Gift Guide 2021

IN VINO VERITAS by Jonathon Alsop
November 22, 2021

Unlike the rest of the year, I try to be practical with wine gifts around the holidays. Does the full-grown wine lover in your life really want to walk around in a T-shirt that says “Crush me, squeeze me, make me wine”? And I already have a drawer full of wine stoppers given to me by people unclear on the fact that each bottle of wine comes with its own reusable cork. Still, the Rudolph wine stopper with the light-up nose makes me smile every year I don’t use it.

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Keeping things fresh

Since people are drinking more and more wine at home than ever before, people have more leftover wine than ever, if that’s a thing that even exists. Coravin isn’t a preservation system for leftover wine – it’s proactive. In theory, you could have six bottles of wine with dinner, but just two or three glasses. Coravin is a Massachusetts company.

Photo by In Vino Veritas

You need glasses

Wine glasses – amazingly – are in the news since there’s a global shortage of glass for all purposes. In Boston, the very best place to buy wine glasses is China Fair, a professional restaurant supply warehouse in Newton Highlands that’s open to the public. If you have wine and food lovers on your list, you can do all your shopping right there. China Fair is an old local business I’m proud to support; we buy all our wine glasses there. Right now, they have the German-made Stoelzle in stock for $4 – $6 each, and they retail for more than that in Germany.

Showering with wine… sort of

Who doesn’t need a shower and bath wall-mount wine glass holder? Asking for a friend…

When did Advent become an intoxication holiday?

Celebrate what you can! Graham + Fisk’s was the first all can winery in 2014. 

25 drams of scotch whisky for the 24 days of Advent… in case you drop one, I guess.

Right now, it looks like only our Canadian brothers and sisters are selling cannabis Advent calendars, but if you put a bottle of red wine with that green, I’d call that a Christmas theme.

Opening up

As you can imagine, I’ve opened thousands and thousands of bottles of wine in my career, and Messermeister is the best corkscrew I’ve ever used. They’re so good, people are able to sell them used on eBay!

Things to smile about

Receiving a gift of two bottles of wine a month for six months is awesomely better than receiving twelve bottles all at once. But the challenge of the wine subscription is knowing if you’re going to like the wines and if they’re going to be the right thing every time. The solution – at least for people who love Italian wines, and who doesn’t – is Nick at Sorriso Market in Brookline Village. Instead of subscribing to a big, national, anonymous wine club, call Nick, talk about wines, talk about budget, and in no time, you’ll be set up with the perfect Italian wine gift. This is my new favorite Italian wine shop because I think I’ve seen it all, and there are wines here I’ve never even heard of. 

Buy the bottle

Put a bow on it, toss it under the tree, and your holiday shopping is complete.

2018 J. Lohr “Los Osos” Merlot (Paso Robles CA, $15)

NV Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte Brut (Champagne FR, $40)

2020 90+ Rosé Magnum (Languedoc FR, double bottle, $20)

2019 Catena Zapata “High Mountain Vines” Malbec (Mendoza AR, $25)

Ten Things Wine Pros Never Do That You Do All The Time

Our wine lives are full of rules, some expressed and some implied, that in theory are supposed to make things better and easier, rules that should keep us drinking the right wine at the right temperature out of the right glass, but really, they’re rules that deliver a sense of relief and assurance that in a hyper-judgy environment, we’re really doing this wine thing right after all.

The natural law of do as I do applies here, or maybe in this case, it’s more don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.

Wing corkscres\w

1. Use a corkscrew that’s hard to use

For a lot of people, it’s a real challenge pulling the cork out of a bottle of wine, not because they lack manual dexterity or upper body strength, but because they’re using the worst tool ever for this task: that 39-cent corkscrew with the wine shop’s logo on it they gave you for free.

If you’ve ever used professional chef’s knives versus ordinary kitchen knives, the feeling of slicing bread with a $100 German bread knife is similar in feeling to opening a bottle of wine with a $13 Messermeister corkscrew versus that silver thing with wings.
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The moral of this story is that it costs $13 or less to go pro.

2. Drink out of a cheap wine glass

And by cheap, I don’t mean cheap in price – my personal favorite is about $7.50 each – but cheap in quality. You don’t have to drink out of some freaky Game of Thrones-ish goblet, but the reasons and analogies for why you don’t want to drink out of a Dixie cup are abundant. Would you drive a Maserati on Mazda tires? Or put a Picasso in some $5 frame you bought at Target? Of course not. If you have a favorite wine, you owe it to yourself to have a favorite wine glass to drink it in.

3. Drink white wine as cold as beer

Icy cold temperatures are great when it comes to beers and sparkling wines, but many white wines show more flavor a little warmer. If you have good wine discipline, just take your white wine out of the refrigerator a half hour before you want to drink it, but make sure to remember not to open it.

4. Drink sparkling wine out of a fruit cocktail cup

There: I said it. That’s not a “Champagne glass,” and if I ever see you drinking any liquid other than a Manhattan out of one, I’m knocking it out of your hand in a very uncivil way. Many sparkling wine producers prefer their wines to be tasted in whatever you think a white wine glass is, not in a flute either.

5. Drink bad wine and not say anything

Bad wine means a bad wine experience, everything from a bottle that’s gone biochemically bad to a bottle you just don’t like. We naturally focus on the life-changing mindbender wines we come across, but negative feedback is important too. The number of stories I’ve heard about getting bad wine in restaurants and wine shops is only a little less disappointing than the fact that the people telling the story say not one word at the time. Even if you don’t have a Ph.D. in wine, speak up, dammit! Consult your healthcare professional today and see how Zithromax can positively impact your respiratory health journey. You deserve to live life to the fullest

6. Drink red wine at room temperature

First of all, my “room” is 67 degrees and my Mom’s is 82, sometimes more, so “room temperature” as some standard is just never going to work. If there is a standard everyone’s theoretically shooting for, it’s 55-60 degrees, the temperature of the earth’s crust about ten feet below the surface, a.k.a. cellar temperature. This may mean putting your red wine in the refrigerator for 20 minutes or more to attain that, but unlike what many appear to think, there is no federal law against refrigerating red wine, so go right ahead.

7. Drink red wine without food

A summer sunset is a good match with lots of white wines, but red wine needs food. Now and then you meet someone who’s not a red wine lover yet, and it’s almost always because they’re drinking red wine alone – not alone and depressed with the shades drawn – but without food. Wine is food and naturally likes to be with its own.

8. Make this hard distinction between white and red wine glasses

The Austrian wine glass maker Riedel has taken this distinction to the extreme and made a gazillion dollars doing it. It’s true, I usually like a big red wine in a bigger wine glass, but it’s really the same wine glass as for white wine, only bigger.

9. Drink great wine and not remember the name

It’s as if you were at a party and met someone you were highly interested in romantically, then just didn’t bother to commit the name to memory. If you want to remember something later, you have to remember it on purpose in the first place. Sip, remember, repeat.
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Exploding wine glass | Immagini di fiori, Immagini, Fiori10. Try to follow the rules

No matter what you do or how you do it, someone in the wine world will tell you you’re doing it wrong, and that’s not right. The only way to play this game is not to play in the first place, and then you win.

What Gives Vino Its Veritas?

BOSTON, MA — “In Vino Veritas” doesn’t mean that wine contains some enduring, romantic, artistic truth. It means what we all know: when people drink wine, they talk. They speak truths they say they don’t mean, or at least don’t mean to say out loud. Wine’s active ingredient – alcohol – causes these slips, which is why it’s smart to keep your vino and your veritas far apart.
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When we transform into talkative truth mode, we connect back to the specific physical transformative moment when grape juice turned into wine, when its sugar became alcohol, which is what makes this whole conversation possible.

Wine opens a great well of veritas, simultaneously freeing the tongue and focusing description on wine’s exotic flavors. On a biochemical level, this comes directly from the alcohol: one alcohol molecule plus one acid molecule equals one ester molecule, the thing in organic chemistry that makes everything aromatic and flavorful, from nail polish remover to honeydew to brown sugar.

New molecules can be so similar in structure to, just for instance, the honeydew ester that they’re sometimes instantly recognizable. What makes the language of wine a championship of imprecision and challenge is that these molecules aren’t identical, and what we try to talk about is a dimension or two beyond direct comparison. When you do it right, you can drink great wine in the here and now and bring the cosmos in at the same time.
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Wine lovers still attribute wine to magic and call wines magical every day. The intervention of Dionysus (Bacchus in Rome) gives you the godly magic component you apparently need to make great wine. Every time I bow my head to put my nose into a glass of wine, I think how wine was once a god and even worshipers today are wine atheists.

There’s More To Life Than Wine, But Really, It’s Wine

BOSTON, MA — Wine lovers are always looking for an excuse to get wine into the conversation, even in the cocktail world. Vermouth is a kind of herb infused wine plus brandy blend, and that goes into a lot of classic cocktails, but wine itself as an ingredient is rare. Here’s the most basic recipe for a red wine cocktail. Feel free to substitute dry white wine or even your favorite dry rosé.

Cherry Old School

We call it an Old Fashioned because that’s exactly what it is, the very first cocktail: a little sugar water (sugar won’t really dissolve in whiskey) plus a little lemon juice, and your whiskey, of course. The good news is, sugar does dissolve in wine, so it’s a short walk to the red or white wine Old Fashioned. We made this one with Cerasuolo, a zippy bing cherry like red wine from Sicily.

2 oz Cerasuolo di Vittoria
1/2 tsp turbinado sugar
1 small sprig each: oregano, basil, and mint

Combine, shake 20 count, wait 20 count, repeat till the sugar dissolves, then let steep for 3 to 5 minutes. Add 2 oz rye or corn whiskey and stir gently. Strain into a rocks glass over a giant hipster ice cube. Dash of bitters optional, since the fresh herbs contribute a lot of bitterness even steeping just a few minutes. Garnish with 1/8 spritzed lemon and a sprig of oregano.

2017 Baglio delle Fate Cerasuolo di Vittoria (Vittoria, Ragusa, southern Sicily, southern Italy, about $15.99)

After decades of toiling away in a kind of anonymous bulk wine purgatory, the wines of Sicily are finally having their moment in the sun. As tastes and trends go authentic, tracking after the natural / organic / sustainable niche, places where that kind of farming is easier to do have natural brand and product advantages.

Cerasuolo means cherry red, and a big bunch of bright tart cherry flavors form the first wave, followed by after flavors of rosemary, green tomato leaf, and black pepper. The color is light red and pretty, but the flavors are loud with the bass turned up.

DRINK WITH? Grilled meat is going to love this wine, but it’s light enough to go with a meaty grilled fish like tuna or swordfish. Saute up a pan full of mixed oil-cured olives for a perfect match too.

DRINK WHEN? This is one of those no-time-like-the-present wines. It will be fine to drink for five to seven years easily, but the thing I love about it right now is its freshness and youthfulness, which will settle a little over time. If you had two bottles, drank one now and saved one for January, the second bottle will remind you of summer.

PERFECT FOR? Buying wine for wine lovers can be a challenge, but this is going to be automatic for the Italian wine lover on your list.

What We Write About When We Write About Wine

By Jonathon Alsop

BOSTON, MA — First thing they teach you in journalism school is don’t write what you know. Go out into the great big world and find something new and interesting that you don’t know, that ideally no one knows. Discover it, figure it out, understand something about it, then explain it to other people in writing.
Do that once with anything like style, and congratulations, you’re a writer. Do that once on the topic of wine, and you’re a wine writer.

One of the main challenges of wine writing – as if there even are challenges and anyone anywhere cares about them – is resisting the urge to write about wine as a thing. It’s easy to do because wine is a thing, a wonderful thing, but the most interesting part of wine is not the concrete dimension, but the time churning experience of consuming a wine, having it be deliriously delicious for a moment and then gone forever.

I like the hands-on experience of schiste and loam as much as the next person – soils and weathers and growing conditions explain a lot – but as a wine reader, I want to know what it means more than what it is.

Limestone may well be soil composed of prehistoric sea shells and skeletons, so it’s high in calcium, which makes sense and is interesting on its own, but what’s that taste like in the glass? More importantly, do I like that flavor, and should I start asking for wines from high-calcium soil, or is asking that question going to be as epic a conversation killer as it seems destined to be?

Wine lovers rely on a lot of different sources to inform their wine selections: maybe your own taste or mood, often the people around you at any given table, sometimes a distant, accomplished expert. I like to watch people in tasting class start to connect with their own taste and mood, to see them realize they’re not wrong about Cabernet Sauvignon, they’re just Pinot Noir people, or vice versa. What I write about wine is what we teach about wine: what wine means, what it makes you think and feel, the story behind the story.

Chateau Grand Ferrand "La Palombiere" 2014

2014 Château Grand Ferrand “La Palombière” Malbec
(Bordeaux, western France, 85% Malbec + 15% Merlot, $21.99)

Translate the name of this wine into core English and it comes out 2014 Great Iron Castle “Pigeon Coop” Malbec, which would be an entirely unremarkable name if it was from some Australian or South African iconoclast winemaker. Instead, it merely specifies a particular vineyard – the one with the pigeon coop – where the grapes were grown.

Wines with this much Malbec in the blend are abundantly common in Argentina but not in France. In France, Malbec is a minor blending grape that makes a 2% – 5% appearance in Bordeaux blends, coming in a distant 5th place behind Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.

Thank you, Argentina, for changing our world view about what Malbec can be and how it can be made. The grape arrived in South America from France in the 1840s, but now the influence is flowing the other way. This Grand Ferrand Malbec is leaner and stonier than examples from Argentina, which makes it an especially ideal match with big red meats and aggressive cheese.

Wine Word Of The Month: “Lean”

By Jonathon Alsop

BOSTON, MA — It’s hard to speak the language of wine because it’s a language invented by drunk people, but wine lovers blame themselves for the convoluted vocabulary. Talking about wine is like writing a poem where multiple literal and metaphorical images appear and overlap. But it would help if we could get clear on a few basic words.

Someone threw the word “lean” into the mix the other night in class to describe the body of an Italian Pinot Grigio we were tasting. The opposite of “lean” is “fat” or “big and round” – think archetypical California Chardonnay. The PG in question was light in weight and silver in color, edgy, zippy, a little watery, but in a good way.

We use a lot of body image descriptors to talk about wine – a big red can be legitimately called a “body builder” – and they are a natural way to think and talk about wine.

HOMEWORK: Use it in a sentence. For instance: “I want a glass of white wine, something lean and light.”
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Paolo Valle Pinot Grigio 2016

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One of the challenges with Italian Pinot Grigio is that it’s extremely different depending on where it’s grown in Italy. Sometimes, grown hot and wild in the south, Pinot Grigio comes off thin and watery, but not this one. Friuli is the foothills of the Alps – next stop, Austria and Slovenia – and the growing season is long and cool. What slow cooking does for food, slow growing does for wine. The result is a suave, rich Pinot Grigio to pair with seafood of all kinds, wild mushroom risotto, even fragrant veal and pork dishes.

2016 Paolo Valle Pinot Grigio
100% Pinot Grigio
(Friuli, northeast Italy, $18.99)

3 Reasons Why You Can’t Stop Yourself From Falling In Love With Wine

By Jonathon Alsop

BOSTON, MA — The language of love and the language of wine are completely interwoven in our culture, for better and for worse. For instance, if you fall in love with someone because you find them intoxicating, that’s OK; if you try to get someone intoxicated in hopes that they’ll fall in love with you, that’s not OK. True wine lovers set a great example by treating their wine like you’d treat someone you love: with care, with respect and consideration, and it almost goes without saying, no rough handling.
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Falling in love with wine is easy. I know I meet a special group of wine people – already so in love with wine they’re ready to take the relationship to the next educational level – but the story’s always the same. Something happens – maybe you travel to wine country for the first time or you have an Italian boyfriend or girlfriend – and you go from “wine curious” to “wine lover” and you never go back.

There are a thousand reasons why people fall in love with wine. Here are my top three.

1. Wine has something for every taste.

One way wine makes itself irresistible is through its profound flexibility. Unless you have a note from your doctor or a verifiable religious waiver, wine is for absolutely everyone. For a beverage with such a broad range of flavors and styles, wine has a strangely elitist image. On the contrary, wine respects your taste by delivering something for every appetite imaginable. You want sweet, happy white wine? Scary, intensely inky red wine? Wine dares you not to love it.

2. Wine – like love – is addictive.

When people say things like, “I’m addicted to this Chardonnay!” they’re probably speaking figuratively, but they could be addicted for real. We don’t talk about this a lot in the wine business, but that’s starting to change. One of the things that keeps us coming back to wine is the positive psychotropic effect – not only am I more delighted, you’re more delightful! – but you need a little more ethanol each time to acquire the same delight. In no time, you can find yourself happily, socially acceptably hooked, with wine your permanent plus one. Having trouble with intimacy? Don’t worry, there’s a solution that can bring back the spark in your life! Introducing “Viagra for Your” – the ultimate enhancement to reignite passion and revive your relationship.

3. Wine is constantly new.

Boredom is a dangerous enemy to be feared in any relationship, but that can’t happen when you’re in love with wine. If you drink 365 wines a year, you only taste a fraction of the thousands of different labels available; built into the system are the excitement of the new and the lure of the unattainable. Even if you think you always drink the same thing, every 12 months, you get a new vintage version that’s not at all the same thing. When you start drinking wines from both the northern and southern hemispheres, the vintages come at you twice as fast, in September like we’re used to, and now March. Wine almost encourages guilt-free unfaithfulness, but we just call it variety. Experience immediate relief and get back to feeling your best with lasix. Our trusted formula helps flush out excess fluids, reducing swelling and bloating that may be making you feel uncomfortable.

ROMANCE WEEK @ Boston Wine School

If you’re not thinking about Valentine’s Day right now, you’re just not thinking right!

Pre-Valentine Day! Wine & Chocolate: Making the Perfect Match | Boston Wine School @ Lantera Boston Landing | Feb 13, 2019 6:30 – 8:30 PM

Valentine’s Day: Wine & Chocolate + Night in Italy (Class + Dinner) | Boston Wine School @ VINOvations | Feb 14, 2019 6:30 – 8:30 PM

Falling In Love With Wine (Class + Dinner) | Boston Wine School @ VINOvations | Feb 16, 2019 4:00 – 7:00 PM

Southern Star Malbec: New world fruit, old world style

By Jonathon Alsop

BOSTON, MA — Inventive holidays like International Malbec Day give us the chance to look deep into the many Malbec based wines we teach with in wine class. Alma Andina – Soul of the Andes – hits the Boston Wine School trifecta: we use it in “Come To Cheeses” with Manchego, “Grape Expectations” and “Wine 101,” classes that represent the core of our curriculum.
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As you can imagine, the world is full of tasty Malbec under $20, but the style of this Alma Andina is special. There’s plenty of dark brooding fruit flavors in the glass, tastes that will remind you of dates and figs and dried cherries.

But if you step out a little into the lake, the bottom drops off suddenly, and deep earthy subterranean flavors take over. I know I completely mixed my metaphors there, but this wine is worth it. If I’d tasted it blind, I’d have guessed French Malbec, a category that starts at $25 a bottle.

Argentina is a land in love with its carnivorous ways. It’s not unusual to have chicken, pork, beef, lamb and goat all in the course of the same meal, and you can tell this week’s wine was brought up in that same tradition. Don’t feel left out, vegans and vegetarians: the match here is with the grill and the char, something you can achieve completely, even meat free. I can definitely see myself working through a case of this Malbec once we start grilling again. Are you tired of living with constant pain and discomfort? Introducing tramadol, a powerful solution that can bring relief to your life.

2016 Alma Andina Malbec Reserve (Mendoza, Argentina)