Do people even use the term Blogroll anymore? I am so late to this blogging thing that I’m not sure what to call it. Anyway, we all start somewhere in our wine journey. This post is dedicated to the individuals who inspired me to take wine seriously and learn as much as I can. I hope my readers find these websites, books, and podcasts as fascinating and useful as I do.
WineFolly.com: Husband and wife team Madeline Pluckette and Justin Hammack run the best educational site on the internet for anyone who wants to learn about wine. They have a post on virtually any wine topic, varietal, or wine region. WF starts out with the basics on a given grape, but slowly peels back the onion until you’re reading about a specific south-facing slope on a river in northern Spain. In addition to comprehensiveness, WineFolly’s unique visual aesthetic sets them apart from other sites. This shows in their approach to visual tasting notes and maps. The detailed maps of every major wine region around the world are a great reference for online study and are also available for gift purchase.
Their two books are essential reading and reference materials. I own both and use them every day. One is the lighter version (think Valpolicella) and the other is the heavier (Amarone) version. Both start with the absolute basics on how wine is made, served, and enjoyed. Then they move on to teach about key varietals and wine styles using their signature visual approach. As someone interested in the business of wine, I find their charts showing the acreage of key grapes and where they are grown around the world to be particularly helpful.
Opening a Bottle: If WineFolly is the fun and practical learning site for aspiring winos, Opening a Bottle is the one for hardcore grape fans looking to dive deeper below the surface.
The site is a beautiful photographic love letter to mostly Italian and French wines by wine writer Kevin Day. Each post explores a particular producer that Kevin finds compelling. In many cases he knows the producer quite well through visits to the vineyard. This shows up in the quality of his writing and passion for his subjects. Opening a Bottle inspires both wanderlust and a thirst for ever more wine knowledge. He focuses on finding the producers in famous regions who are expressing that region most honestly and uniquely.
Wine-Searcher.com: This site is useful for where specific wines are available for purchase around the world. It’s fascinating to search for famous wines and see price differences across retailers and vintages. The site also has a summary of major reviews and scores. As the name implies, the Wine-Searcher has a deep reserve of data on the wines consumers are searching for around the world.
I find the site’s news section to be tremendously valuable. W. Blake Gray and his team of contributing writers cover the global wine trade with a keen business eye.
The Italian Wine Podcast: Tuscany-based Monty Waldin hosts a regular series of interviews with Italian winemakers, viticulturists, and other experts in casual environment. He is a funny and delightful host who can keep it light while also asking fascinating viticultural questions. In a few minutes this podcast can bring to life a new wine growing corner of Italy and make you feel like you’re there. It’s a great place to learn about small producers and make plans to visit their estates on your next trip.
John Fodera’s Tuscan Vines: John’s site is dedicated to Tuscany and it’s greatest red wines. His frequent reviews have helped me familiarize myself with the most important Tuscan producers and blends. He also covers lesser-known Super Tuscan blends. I find these wines sometimes confusing because they are IGT wines with unique names. John often highlights those Super Tuscans and Rossos di Montalcino offering tremendous value for the money. He is also a fun follow on Twitter.
On the Wine Trail in Italy: Alfonso Cevola is a former distributor turned writer with loads of experience traversing the globe promoting Italian wine. He combines sage insights into the business of selling wine with his own musings on life in both America and Italy. Often his posts don’t even deal directly with wine or specific grapes. But his writing is beautiful and the images he pairs with it are haunting and beguiling, much like Italy.
Ciro Pirone: Ciro is wine director for a great wine distributor in New England, Horizon. He promotes and teaches about native Italian grapes and wine through his short videos on YouTube. I learn something new every time I sit down and watch one of these and I cannot recommend them enough to Italian wine enthusiasts. He made a series of daily videos for the coronavirus lockdown starting in March that is still going strong.
Native Wine Grapes of Italy: Ian D’Agata is the foremost authority and proponent of Italy’s native grapes and he wrote two epic books to prove it. I often refer to the first book, Native Wine Grapes of Italy. If you have this book out on your desk or bar you know you have a problem when it comes to Italian wine. You’ll find yourself asking your local shop to find and carry something esoteric like a Ruche or Timorasso.
I want to give a huge thanks to the creators, thinkers, and drinkers who bring these resources together and make them available. It’s a wonderful time to be wine lover in part because of the educational content that’s out there. Take advantage!