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Columns – Jessica Dupuy

Superb Sparklers from Northern Italy's TrentoDoc
Jessica Dupuy
Jun 6, 2024

June 5, 2024: Nestled against the stunning backdrop of the Dolomite mountains lies TrentoDoc, a picturesque wine region in northern Italy's Trentino region that has been producing exceptional sparkling wines for over a century. The history of TrentoDoc dates back to the early 1900s when pioneering winemakers like Giulio Ferrari, whose brand Ferrari Trentino you may recognize as the official sparkling wine of Formula 1 racing, recognized the potential of the region's unique terroir and high-elevation vineyards to create world-class sparkling wines using the traditional method, similar to that of Champagne.

Savoring Sannio
Jessica Dupuy
Mar 27, 2024

March 27, 2024: I've always been drawn to exploring lesser-known destinations, especially when it comes to discovering hidden gem wine regions. Last fall, I had the opportunity to wander the inner pockets of the Sannio region, which is located just inland from Naples, in the region of Campania. After a couple of days of wandering the dizzying streets of Naples, savoring delectable Neapolitan pizza and spaghetti alle vongole, learning the art of pizza-making, and taking in the coastal beauty and historic sites like Pompeii and the Royal Palace, I ventured east over a hilly pass into the lesser-known Sannio DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) wine region. This lesser-known area offers a wealth of history, stunning landscapes, and exceptional wines.

Alto Adige: Warm Up with Northern Italy's Mountain Wines
Jessica Dupuy
Jan 17, 2024

Jan. 17, 2024: While the winter landscape outside may be cold and frigid, the lighter-styled red wines of Alto Adige are just the ticket to warm the spirit. Nestled against the borders of Austria and Switzerland lies the dramatically Alpine wine region of Alto Adige. Located in the northeastern corner of Italy, Alto Adige spans a series of stunning mountain ranges and valleys, most notably the peaks of the Dolomite Mountains, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Vineyards climb alongside these steep limestone and dolomite slopes, ranging in elevation from 1,000 feet up to 3,300 feet in elevation. Despite the cooler mountain climes, Alto Adige vineyards also benefit from warming breezes from Lake Garda and the nearby Adriatic Sea. The region is centered around the Adige River which gives Alto Adige its name. Picture-perfect mountain towns like Bolzano, Merano, Cortina and Trento dot the postcard-worthy landscapes. This unique geography shapes Alto Adige's array of wines. While lean, mineral-driven white wines like Pinot Grigio, Pinot Bianco, Kerner and Sauvignon Blanc have become signature exports, the region also crafts elegant, food-friendly reds that balance delicacy with Alpine intensity.

Savor the Volcanic: Discovering Santorini's Nykteri
Jessica Dupuy
Oct 18, 2023

Oct. 18, 2023: The Greek island of Santorini conjures visions of brilliant whitewashed villages and azure Aegean seas. The iconic, blue-domed architecture and breathtaking sunsets of the Greek island Santorini lure travelers from all over the world. But beyond the postcard perfection lies a legacy of winemaking dating back 3000 years, where hardy vines hug the ground, trained into basket shapes to shield grapes from fierce winds and phylloxera. This ingenious growing method alone hints at the extraordinary wines born of Santorini's harsh volcanic environment. From these challenging conditions emerges Nykteri, Santorini's fascinating dry white wine. Nykteri offers a complex medley of flavors derived from local Santorini grapes, Assyrtiko, Athiri, and Aidani. Aromas of lemon blossom, passionfruit, and sea spray drawn from the volcanic earth mingle with a briny minerality and brisk acidity - the hallmarks of Santorini whites. Fermentation stops halfway to capture natural grape sweetness in a well-balanced, relatively dry style.

Farewell to Summer with Baja on the Mind
Jessica Dupuy
Aug 9, 2023

August 9, 2023: As the summer draws to a close and stories of adventures from friends and family come pouring in, I've been captivated by the tales of those who explored the Baja Peninsula. While the allure of coastal relaxation was a common theme in these journeys, what intrigued me most was the unexpected discovery of locally-crafted wines-a subject I admittedly knew little about. I've had occasional opportunities to sample wines from Mexico, but I've yet to venture into the heart of their wine-producing regions. Winemaking in Mexico is far from a recent development. In fact, the country's grape-growing tradition stretches back over 400 years, tracing its roots to the Spanish conquest of the sixteenth century. At the forefront of Mexican wine production and recognition today stands the Baja Peninsula. This picturesque Pacific-coastal area has notably given rise to two prominent winegrowing regions: the Valle de Guadalupe and the Valle de Calafia.

Lessons from Judging a Wine Competition
Jessica Dupuy
May 10, 2023

May 10, 2023: Last week I had the opportunity to sit in as a judge for the Texsom International Wine Awards (TIWA). It was an opportunity and a pleasure I've enjoyed a few times previously, and I always walk away feeling that I've learned many new things regarding wine, tasting, and fellowship. Some of these lessons are most pertinent to those in the wine trade who may be asked to judge a competition at some point, but others can be illuminating for anyone who loves wines and wishes to become a more critical and appreciative taster.

Six Savored Sips from 2022
Jessica Dupuy
Jan 5, 2023

Jan. 5, 2023: After a quiet week at home with family and friends, I spent some time reflecting on the past year. In many ways, it was a very good year, particularly in the way of wine and spirits. It brought new horizons, discoveries, new friends, and quite a few flights-with no cancellations or delays. (I'm sure that streak won't last long.) As part of this reflection, I offer up six selections (five wines and one whiskey) from each of the stops I made in my travels, each with its unique significance. Although I'm getting ahead of myself a bit when indicating the upshot of these tasting experiences in this WRO Home page "teaser," the upshot is clear: 2022 was a year to savor, and having reflected upon it, I'm looking ahead to 2023 with anticipation and excitement. I feel renewed, recharged, and ready to go!

New Mexico's Prince of Sparkling Wine Finds a New Home Making Spanish-Inspired Wines
Jessica Dupuy
Sep 14, 2022

Sept. 14, 2022: Last summer, I received a sample of a new gin from New Mexico. Simply named Vara, the gin had a bright, clean palate with high-toned citrus notes, subtle florals, and herbs. Curious to learn more about the producer, I pulled up the website and clicked around to find the distillery was founded on a desire to celebrate Spanish contribution to wine and spirits in the history of New Mexico. The team included still winemakers Bob Lindquist and Louisa Sawyer Lindquist, head distiller Scott Feuille, and assistant winemaker and distiller Djuna Benjamin. But as I read deeper through the wine portion of the site, I discovered that Vara's veritable ace-in-the-hole was also on the company's winemaking team. Someone who represents winemaking's past, present, and future in New Mexico. Laurent Gruet. And for the past few years, he's been making sparkling wines with Cava varieties-Xarel-lo, Macabeo, and Parellada-imported from Spain.

A Deeper Love for Cava
Jessica Dupuy
Jun 23, 2022

June 23, 2022: When it comes to bubbles, the French have Champagne and Crémant, the Italians have Prosecco and Franciacorta-and Asti Spumante and Lambrusco. The Germans have Sekt. And it's simply "sparkling wine" in places such as the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, and South America. But in Spain, the keyword is Cava. Cava holds a unique place in the sparkling wine category. It's made in the same way as Champagne, using secondary fermentation in the battle to produce its bubbly texture. And it also undergoes specific aging requirements, yielding wines that take on the yeasty, bread-dough qualities similar to Champagne. But it's also distinctly Spanish in that it relies primarily on three native varieties: Xarello, Parellada, and Macabeo. And in terms of price, it's significantly less expensive than its French counterparts. Yet, in the States, it's not as readily known as Champagne and Prosecco. It's a shame because so much of it is really very good. After a recent visit to the Penedès region of northeast Spain near and around Barcelona, I found a deeper appreciation for this style of wine and a few key takeaways that will perhaps deepen your appreciation.

Getting to Know the White Wines of Spain
Jessica Dupuy
Apr 20, 2022

Apr. 20, 2022: I've spent much of the past six months prepping for an exam on wine regions from all corners of the new and old world. Inevitably, there are always a few areas that remain my Achilles heel. (Ok, more than a few.) One, in particular, is Spain. For some reason, the red wines of the Iberian Peninsula feel relatively straightforward. After all, more than half the country is planted with Tempranillo in all its various synonyms. Follow that with the distinctive characteristics of Graciano, Mencía, Garnacha, and Mazuelo, and you pretty much have the five major red players of Spain. But I always seem to struggle with differentiating the white wines of Spain. I've recently felt an urgent need to untangle my confusion and get these wines sorted out in my brain. And what better way to do that than in written form? So here we go: here's my concerted effort to make heads or tails of the white wines of Spain.

Field Notes from Tuscany
Jessica Dupuy
Feb 23, 2022

Feb 23, 2022: Just back from a quick trip to a few Tuscan wine regions. Goodness, it felt good to be back on the road-it's been quite a while. While I'd been to Tuscany a few times for leisure, this was the first time I've had to focus on wine, and I'm grateful to my hosts, Wilson Daniels, for introducing us to a few choice producers to help give context about what lies ahead for regions such as Chianti Classico, Brunello di Montalcino, Maremma, and Bolgheri. What's clear from the experience is that these iconic regions may be doing business as usual, but there is a clear departure from making wines the same way they've always been made. Here are a few takeaways I gleaned from the experience.

Tasting History: The Ladies Vintage of Cognac
Jessica Dupuy
Jan 18, 2022

The depths of winter turn my thoughts to the warming wonders of Cognac, which leads me to recall a recent opportunity to spend the harvest season in the region. Harvest is a remarkable time to visit Cognac as it truly brings everything back to the basics. Without a great harvest there is no great wine. Without great wine you really can't begin to make a great eau de vie (the distillate before it's aged in barrel to become Cognac). And without a great eau de vie, you can't have a great Cognac. Harvest in Cognac reminded me of one crucial thing: Cognac is an agricultural product. And it depends greatly on the handiwork of those who are daily working in the vineyards throughout the year.

Voices in the Wine Community: The LatinX State of the Wine Industry Summit
Jessica Dupuy
Oct 12, 2021

In the past couple of years, the USA has seen a flourish of social justice initiatives to address the shortfalls of ethnic and racial inequalities in many areas of society. The wine industry is no exception. With everything from Black Wine Professionals, The Roots Fund, Wine Unify, and Lift Collective, people within the wine community have taken to organizing ways to spotlight voices and leadership, all in the name of greater diversity and inclusiveness within the wine industry. A prime example of this initiative will happen today with the LatinX State of the Wine Industry Summit. This virtual event serves as an educational vehicle to share the impact of the Hispanic and LatinX contributions to the wine industry. Just in time for Hispanic Heritage Month, the project is a collaboration between Uncorked & Cultured, Hispanics in Wine, and Gabriela Fernandez, host of The Big Sip on Napa Valley's KVON AM Radio.

Arizona White Wines Cast a Promising Vision for the Future
Jessica Dupuy
Jul 13, 2021

I just got back from a few days in Arizona wine regions catching up with a few of the state's top producers and tasting through some of their latest releases. Arizona isn't exactly the first place that comes to mind when people think about wine-producing regions. However, its dry climate and calcium-carbonate-rich soils in all three of its main growing regions make the state a veritable fron-tier for discovery for serious winemakers. While some might head straight for the red wine selections to assess the state of a burgeoning wine region, I tend to look to the white wines. It's a lot harder to mask the shortcomings of a growing season or cellar mistakes with white wine, and if you ask me, you can get a pretty quick handle on just where an industry might be headed by tasting a cross-section of what's out there. In the case of Arizona, the future looks quite promising.

Oh, Sherry: A Primer on a Spanish Classic
Jessica Dupuy
May 4, 2021

When was the last time you considered sherry? Not Sherry, the friendly woman down the street who likes to garden, but the style of wine called sherry. Despite what you may have gathered from British period films depicting aristocratic life in the 17th and 18th-century, sherry is not simply a sappy after dinner beverage intended to be sipped in the library. If you've been anywhere near the coastal towns of Spain, you'll see locals sipping the light golden-toned refreshment on patio tables alongside savory snacks before an evening meal. Which prompts the question: What is sherry? Is it a sweet after-dinner drink? Or a light, provocative aperitif? In short, the answer is yes. More explicitly, sherry is a wine, almost always fortified, specifically made from white grapes through a complex winemaking process.

A Taste of Montalcino With Col d'Orcia
Jessica Dupuy
Mar 9, 2021

In the storied history of Italy's Tuscany region, the tale of Montalcino began as a humble farming community. Who would have thought that the little hilltop town would one day become the crown jewel of the region's wine production? This idyllic Old-world Village rises from the Tuscan valley, just a short distance south of Siena, framed with lush vineyards, forest, and craggy dirt roads and trails along its slopes. Surrounded by myriad hills and Tuscany's highest mountain peak, Monte Amiata, Montalcino is a bastion of architectural history bound by Medieval fortress and castle walls, ivory, and pink-tinged villas and stone farmhouses.

A Virtual Wine Travel Resolution
Jessica Dupuy
Jan 12, 2021

Looking back on 2020, there have been countless ways in which a wine writer's work has changed. One such challenge has been the inability to travel internationally to various wine regions for research. These opportunities offer a unique immersion into the culture, geography, history, and of course, wines of a particular place. Looking ahead to 2021, it doesn't appear as though travel will be back on the docket any time soon. But just as we have all had to adjust to a new way of working, my goal for 2021 is to continue to experience the world of wine by diving into regions I have yet to explore. And though I may not be able to do it in person, I can still focus my attention in a more intentional way. Sure, I may not get a stamp in my passport for the effort, but it beats TSA lines and cramped trans-Atlantic flights. This time, instead of letting a place lead me to the wine, I'll let the wine lead me to the place. Drawing upon wines I've tasted recently, I've fashioned a sort of Resolution List of wine regions I'd like to get to know a little better.

Thanksgiving Wines from Around the World
Jessica Dupuy
Nov 10, 2020

As we near the time-honored American holiday of Thanksgiving, it's a good time to start thinking about which wines we want to serve for our feast of thankfulness. Of course, this year may look a little different than others. Gatherings may not be as large, and traveling may be much more inhibited. But that doesn't mean we can't take a few moments to be grateful for the good things in life. In the case of wine, I know I'm grateful for the many regions around the world that are growing and crafting some of my favorites wines. This Thanksgiving, these are the ones I plan to show off.

Wine Books I Read Over COVID Summer Vacation
Jessica Dupuy
Aug 18, 2020

It's been an unusual summer, to say the least. Due to the many closings and travel restrictions from the global pandemic, we've all had to shift plans and be nimble with our usual daily plans. But despite setbacks, I still managed to take in a few summer wine-centric reads by the pool. Here are a few of my favorite finds.

A Texas Winery's Perspective During the Time of COVID-19
Jessica Dupuy
Jun 30, 2020

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc across the country, Texas has found itself in the spotlight as one of the states with the highest infection rates. As one of the first states to begin opening back up its economy, state officials were hopeful that the Lone Star State could safely return to some semblance of normalcy. In May, Texas wineries had an opportunity to begin opening back up, provided they followed a series of safety guidelines. But as COVID-19 cases have skyrocketed throughout Texas in recent weeks, on Friday, June 26, the state ordered all business entities that sold 51% or more of alcohol to shut down. While this order focused on closing down bars, many of which were serving customers over the specified capacity, winery tasting rooms were also lumped into the category. By contrast, restaurants were allowed to remain open at 50% of their normal capacity.

Doug Frost MW & MS...on Wines of the American Southwest
Jessica Dupuy
May 12, 2020

Discovering more about America's wine regions has always been a personal interest of mine. And it's encouraging when you find experts in the wine industry just as excited about the potential for wine in different parts of the country. Such was the case last January when I happened to bump into Doug Frost, a Kansas-based wine consultant, while at a wine symposium in Arizona. I had traveled to Phoenix to learn more about Arizona wine for a book project I was researching on the wine regions of the American Southwest, which included a day at the annual AVA Wine Symposium. The one-day educational conference celebrates some of Arizona's best producers while sharing trends and advancements in the industry with wine consumers. As it turns out, Frost was also in attendance. He had joined some wine-enthusiastic friends for the leisurely day to foster a growing interest in the evolution of Arizona wine.

A Moment in the Sun: Uco Valley Take-Aways
Jessica Dupuy
Nov 19, 2019

In the world of wine, when you say the word, Mendoza, most people immediately think of Malbec. Indeed, the two 'm' words have become synonymous in the past decade or so, no doubt in part due to the massive amounts of brawny, fruity, oaky wines sent en masse at lean prices to American retail shelves. For better or worse, commodity Malbec became a trend, much like the commodity Shiraz from Australia in an earlier period. But just as Australia has clawed its way back in international status with more nuanced wines spotlighting specific terrors and regions, so also is Argentina redefining Malbec and its profound potential in specific settings. Case in point…the Uco Valley.

Alpine Delights in Alto Adige
Jessica Dupuy
Sep 24, 2019

As we say goodbye to Summer and welcome the promise of a cooler fall season, some people start to look forward to the shimmering changes of fall foliage, the first day to break out a light jacket, and even the arrival of all things flavored with pumpkin spice. As a Texan, the end of the summer solstice on the September calendar rarely syncs with anything near what would qualify for fall temperatures. For me, the only thing that signifies a shift from summer to fall is an escape from the Texas heat. Preferably to a place that includes looming mountain ranges and chilly nighttime breezes. This year, I found that escape in the northern stretches of Italy, beneath the jagged peaks of the Dolomites in the Alpine wine region of Alto Adige.

Wines of the American Southwest
Jessica Dupuy
Jul 16, 2019

Summer means many things to different people. From backyard barbecues and Fourth of July fireworks to beach lounging and reading by the pool. But for me, summer also inevitably means one thing: Road trip. For as long as I can remember, I've been a great fan of packing up the car with necessities and sundries and hitting the open road for a week or more. This summer was no different. Just a couple of weeks ago, with my family in tow, we made our annual pilgrimage to Colorado for a family ranch vacation. But this time, instead of taking the most direct path, we opted for a little excursion through some of the Southwest's wine regions. Few people may be aware of the burgeoning wine industries making their way in Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, and Arizona, but there's actually quite a bit to discover in this part of the country.

Postcards from the Road: Alentejo Take-Aways
Jessica Dupuy
May 21, 2019

Just back from a week in Alentejo, Portugal, one of the country's hottest wine regions--and I mean that literally, considering they were in a steamy heat wave while we were there. Hosted by the Wines of Alentejo, the trip was an eye-opening deep dive into the power and quality the wines from this historic area can deliver. With more than 250 indigenous grape varieties, Portugal has the highest density of native grapes per square mile of any country in the world, including Italy. Just more than an hour east of Lisbon, the region of Alentejo (ah-len-TAY-zhoo) accounts for one-third of Portugal's land mass and is considered one of its star regions

Field Notes from New Zealand's Sauvignon 2019 Celebration
Jessica Dupuy
Jan 29, 2019

I'm on the road this month for two weeks in New Zealand, that sunny, two-island country isolated in the southwest Pacific Ocean. I once wrote that New Zealand is a nation of superlatives. The geography, the colors of the landscape, the easy way-of-life, the hospitality of the people, the seafood, all seem to be amped up to a degree unmatched by any other place in the world. And their wine is no exception. It's unique location in the Southern Hemisphere seems to soak in the sun so much more intensely--perhaps because there is literally no ozone above it--and their wines seem to reflect this in their vibrancy and energy.

Top Five Wine Accessories for Holiday Gifting…or Receiving
Jessica Dupuy
Dec 4, 2018

This time of year, it seems everyone is on the hunt for the perfect wine to serve at holiday events or to gift friends and family. While there are an infinite number of wines to suggest, narrowing down exactly the right ones for each occasion or gift can be a bit daunting--although you really can't go wrong with good Champagne. But when it comes to gifting wine accessories, there are a few that really stick out in terms of practicality, usefulness, and scoring high on the overall cool factor. Sure, a couple of them come at a hefty price, but considering the great expense wine enthusiasts go to secure delicious wines at times, it doesn't hurt to have a collection of handy wine-related accessories at the ready. Below are my top five picks for wine accessories that are perfect for this holiday season. Some may be better for giving, while others may be better to add to your own wish list.

Bottling Sunshine in Puglia
Jessica Dupuy
Oct 9, 2018

Just back from an eye-opening visit to one of Italy's southern-most wine regions: Puglia. It's that little space that encompasses the entire boot heel of the country. Its peninsular shape offers coastal exposure all along its eastern and western borders. Compared to many of Italy's mountainous regions, Puglia is characterized by a broad rolling landscape with arid terrain punctuated by prickly-pear cacti and miles and miles of olive groves. Here, marine breezes perpetually sweep across the 30-mile width of the region from the Ionian Sea to the West and the Adriatic Sea to the East. The warm Mediterranean sun and the sandy, calcareous soils make Puglia a particularly unique environment for grape growing.

TEXSOM 2018 Musings
Jessica Dupuy
Aug 14, 2018

This past weekend I had the pleasure to attend my twelfth TEXSOM conference in Dallas. Each year, I'm amazed at the innovation and depth of content offered through the myriad seminars, tasting lunches, and sponsored tasting rooms offered throughout the three-day conference. With somewhere around one thousand wine professional attendees, volunteers, speakers, and sponsors, it's a pretty target-rich environment for industry networking and socializing, but more importantly digging deeper into relevant topics and trends swirling about the wine world.

When New Zealand Wine Comes to Austin: 5 Takeaways from A Two-Day Wine Camp
Jessica Dupuy
Jun 19, 2018

Last week New Zealand Winegrowers hosted a veritable wine camp for a little more than a dozen industry buyers and influencers. The two-day event offered a snapshot of some of New Zealand's key topics in the wine industry. As a general overview, the seminar-focused event revealed a few basic stats about New Zealand wine. Namely that the country produces more than 285 million liters of wine from more than 37,000 hectares of vineyards, most of which (about 60%) is planted to Sauvignon Blanc. And while there are stellar Sauvignon Blancs with rich complexity and nuance being produced in this country, it soon became clear that there's quite a bit more to talk about with regard to other varieties.

Sauvignon Blanc: Napa Valley's Shining Underdog
Jessica Dupuy
May 1, 2018

In Napa Valley, in terms of actual plantings, Sauvignon Blanc has traditionally been more of an afterthought compared to Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, and even Pinot Noir. But Cabernet's popularity didn't really catch on in Napa until the early 1990s, when it saw a rapid rise to claim the majority of plantings within the region. While Cabernet now claims 47 percent of overall plantings, it was Chardonnay that held the number one vineyard spot in the years following Prohibition. And let's not forget that if not for visionaries like Robert Mondavi who planted Sauvignon Blanc as early as the 1960s (labeling it Fumé Blanc as an homage to the Loire Valley), the French variety might have a different story in American wine altogether. Indeed, among wine devotees, the Robert Mondavi To Kalon I Block Fume Blanc continues to be one of the producer's most prized wines.

Eight Takeaways from South American Wine Country
Jessica Dupuy
Mar 13, 2018

Just back from a whirlwind six days in South America--Chile and Argentina to be exact--where I caught a glimpse of some of the top regions from each country. Although it will likely take me a few weeks to digest the vast amount of information and experiences from the trip, there are a handful of takeaways that are still fresh in my mind.

The Finer Points of Building a By The Glass List
Jessica Dupuy
Jan 23, 2018

There's nothing worse than ordering a glass of wine only to be delivered a stale, oxidized, pour that is tragically off the mark. Sadly, we've all been the recipients of that glass at some point in our lives. Sometimes, we may just grin our way through it, not wanting to be a jerk. But if you're a wine professional, often times we graciously offer a helpful comment or at least send the glass back.

Five Takeaways From a Week In Burgundy
Jessica Dupuy
Oct 31, 2017

Burgundy can evoke any number of thoughts and feelings among wine enthusiast, experts, and professionals. Certainly ideas of legendary Pinot Noir and Chardonnay Grand Cru and Premier Cru spring to mind, as do memories of studying maps, regional history, and wine guides to try to comprehend its intricate and confusing framework. Emotions vacillate between wonder, excitement, and intimidation at the thought of zipping around the Grande Route du Vins for a few days. I know this because that's how I felt when invited by the Burgundy Wine Board to spend an exploratory week in the region. Having been a self-guided student of wine for the past decade or so, I was eager to see the iconic region with my own eyes.

What Makes A Good Wine List? A Few Master Sommeliers Weight In
Jessica Dupuy
Sep 19, 2017

When it comes to writing a wine list for a restaurant, the challenges are wide and varied. In countries such as France, Italy, or Spain, you're pretty much assured that the wine list will be driven by the region in which you are in. But what happens when you're elsewhere? 'One thing that's different is that the whole globe comes to the UK and the US with wine, which means we're constantly trying to achieve balanced diversity with wine lists,' said Master Sommelier Joe Spellman of Justin Vineyards and Winery at a recent panel discussion at TEXSOM, an annual educational wine conference in Dallas, Texas. The panel discussion included a handful of sommeliers from across the country who gave their input on putting together a wine list.

Chilean Wine Through the Lens of Viña Montes
Jessica Dupuy
Aug 8, 2017

When it comes to Chilean wine, most American consumers have a vague familiarity As one of the leading South American wine producing countries, Chile has done an excellent job of producing and exporting a hefty sum of quality, price-point driven labels that consumers can readily find on the shelves, with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot Carmenère, and to a lesser extent, Sauvignon Blanc among the most recognized varieties. But with more than 500 years of viticultural history as well as more than a 1,000-mile expanse of coastal wine producing geography, all along a narrow strip of land book-ended by the Pacific Coast to the west and two dominant mountain ranges to the east, Chile has a lot more to offer than just the limited selection commonly found on your grocer's shelves.

Field Notes from Lirac
Jessica Dupuy
Jun 27, 2017

I'm the road this week in the Rhône Valley, a land that has held sway for me for years ever since I took a road trip through the region as a university student. There's just something that makes my heart swoon when seeing fields of lavender, sunflowers, and vineyards for miles peppered with little stone houses dawning blue doors and window shutters. Of course, back then, I had no understanding of wine. So when the association representing Rhône Valley Wines offered an invitation to join them on a road trip through the both the southern and northern parts of the region, stopping at as many Cru appellations as possible along the way, I jumped at the chance.

Austrian Alternatives
Jessica Dupuy
Apr 4, 2017

Like many European countries, Austria looks back on a very eventful history--and that's putting it mildly. But one thing that has stayed true throughout its storied past is its cultural affinity for beautiful food and wine. Austrian wine has its own intriguing story that dates back to before the 16th century. But it wasn't until recently that the country's modern wine industry suffered a monumental set back in 1985 when it was discovered that a number of Austrian wineries illegally used the primary ingredient in antifreeze to alter the taste of the wines. While it greatly effected the credibility of the wine industry at the time, the silver lining is that the modern Austrian wine industry of today is regulated in such a way to demand that producers make a clear representation of the grape. As a whole, the country has a set criteria for sustainability that encompasses everything from farming, energy, waste, and social standards.

A Willamette Valley Wine Awakening
Jessica Dupuy
Feb 21, 2017

About eighth years ago, my husband surprised me with a trip to Oregon's Willamette Valley. It was before I had spent any time writing about or studying wine. I remember being taken with the beauty of the valley. Sweeping views from every hillside with some of the most vivid shades of green I had ever seen. While I was certainly enamored with many of the wines we sampled, I was uniquely struck by how interwoven the whole production of wine was. Somehow I could taste the elements of working with dirt, weather, and vine with just the swirl of my glass. It tasted like farming. (In a good way.) It wasn't just some beverage that had magically arrived in my glass. It was the first time I remember wine tasting like something more than just a beverage. It tasted like a place.

A Case for Bordeaux
Jessica Dupuy
Jan 3, 2017

As wine drinking has become less formal for most consumers across the globe, Bordeaux winemakers have expanded their approach with wines that are ready to drink earlier and are better suited to how we live and eat today. That means there's a trend towards less tannic, less extracted wines. The result is a wider range of foods suitable for enjoyment with the wines, as well as a shift away from the perception of Bordeaux as being only for special occasions and fine dining. There's also a focus on broadening the styles of wine produced, expanding from age-worthy reds to include a growing number of dry white wines, rosés, sparklers and dessert wines.

Fallen Out of Love With Wine? Why Lower Alcohol Wines May Bring You Back
Jessica Dupuy
Nov 22, 2016

Among the everyday conversations I have about wine, there's one particular comment I hear on a regular basis that always puzzles me: "I can't drink wine because it gives me a headache." A lot of people write off wine altogether, claiming the tannins or sulfites are the culprit for the post-wine head pounding. But I'd argue there's a more likely candidate that's causing the pain. I'm no scientist, nor am I a doctor, but I'd be willing to bet that sugar and alcohol are the primary offenders. I may be wrong, but if you consider the points below, you may find your way to a better wine experience.

Finding Franciacorta
Jessica Dupuy
Oct 11, 2016

Many of us are fairly familiar with the sparkling styles of wine in the world from France's Champagne and Crémant, to Spain's Cava and Italy's better-known sparkling classics like Moscato D'Asti and Prosecco. But when it comes to Franciacorta, it's a wine and region that remains largely unknown and under the radar across much of the globe. Much of that may be due to its relatively young heritage, which began in the 1960s. Others may argue that its limited export quantities have kept it from finding a seat at the table in markets like the US. (Only a little more than 10 percent of these wines makes it out of the country each year.)

Wink Lorch Debunks Misunderstandings of the Jura
Jessica Dupuy
Aug 30, 2016

Make no mistake, when it comes to the Jura, Wink Lorch is an expert. The British ex-pat has spent the latter part of her career tirelessly sipping her way through every grape and wine style imaginable from this tiny little wine region. And from every oxidative--not oxidized--high acid, savory, unusual drop, she's got a quick wit to prove it.

Impressions from Wine Travels in Germany
Jessica Dupuy
Jul 19, 2016

Just a couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of joining the German Wine Institute for a week in the angelic wine regions of the Pfalz and Baden. Following weeks of rain throughout the southern part of the country, the clouds parted to reveal blue bird skies…and a veritable heat wave. Temperatures hovered into the 90s during the heat of the day--which was a bit daunting considering the theme of our trip was to actively experience German vineyards and wine through outdoor exercise. Our merry group of journalists included two Americans, a French Canadian, a Pole, a Norwegian, a Finn, and 2 Danes. And if that sounds like the beginning to a bar joke, you wouldn't be far off.

Why You Should Be Drinking Portuguese Wines
Jessica Dupuy
Jun 7, 2016

Sitting on the far western tip of Europe surrounded by Spain the vast Atlantic Ocean, Portugal is only 380 miles long and 140 miles wide. To put it in context with the United States, it's about the size of the state of Maine. But despite its small boundary lines, it's a country that is densely divided into a mind-boggling number of official wine regions. The country alone has more than 200 micro climates and 250 types of indigenous grapes, which is the highest density of anywhere in the world in terms of space and quantity of grapes planted. It's diversity of grapes, terrain, wine styles and philosophies make it one of the most intriguing countries to explore.

Wine and Cheese Pairing: A Challenge for Wine Lovers and Sommeliers
Jessica Dupuy
Mar 1, 2016

When it comes to wine and food pairings, sommeliers often complain about obvious ingredient challenges such as asparagus, ginger, and artichoke--a particular food item that Food & Wine editor Ray Isle once said cropped up from the earth with the primary mission to mess up a wine pairing. One other challenging pairing: Cheese. Sure, a sharp cheddar can help melt away tannins on a big red Bordeaux. And the sweeter nature of a ruby port can cover up the savoriness of most other cheeses. But are these the right pairings? Generally, you want either the food or the wine to be the dominant focus with the other element as a complement to enhance the overall enjoyment. But what do you do with a cheese plate?

Finding the Verve in Vermouth
Jessica Dupuy
Jan 19, 2016

When I lived in France many years ago, meals often began with a small glass of Dolin over ice. Smooth and refreshing, it was the perfect way to whet the appetite. But here in the States, vermouth is rarely peddled as anything other than an afterthought intended to splash as a mixer in the occasional cocktail. While I've held fast to the long-established European tradition of savoring a little pre-dinner vermouth--particularly with Lillet and lemon in the summertime--it seems Americans have never really taken to the time to appreciate the humble appertivo.

Save the Wine for Holiday Dinners, Letting the Cocktails Lead the Show
Jessica Dupuy
Dec 8, 2015

As a wine and food writer, I'm often asked for the best wines to pair with just about anything. From specific meals and special occasions to sporting events, holiday parties or simply the best wine to be drinking right now, I've become the default Dear Abby for friends and family in search of good wine. And now, with the holiday season upon us, the requests have started to flow. But this year, I'm changing up my usual list of handy reds and whites to suggest. Instead, I'm pushing cocktails.

A Grape Future for the Lone Star State
Jessica Dupuy
Oct 6, 2015

It often comes as a surprise to many people to hear that Texas has a thriving wine industry. Anyone who has traveled through the state's Hill Country region in the past few years has seen evidence of a wine community that attracts tourists from all over the country. But Texas wine is an industry that stretches far beyond the confines of the picturesque Hill Country. In fact, as the fifth largest wine producer in the USA, there are eight wine appellations--or American Viticultural Areas--across the state. Texas and wine have quite a long history. The first wave of Texas wine arrived in the 1600s when Spanish missionaries planted the vineyards in the western part of the state--right about where El Paso is today.

Brettanomyces: Beauty or Beast?
Jessica Dupuy
Aug 11, 2015

When it comes to styles of wine, personal preferences for individuals can spread widely across the board. Whether you like vibrant and crisp dry white wines, or deep, brooding, fruity red wines, it's generally accepted as your preferred taste. But when a wine begins to attract descriptors like rustic, barnyard, wet leather, stinky and just plain funky, a few red flags begin to fly. While many have mistaken this funkiness to just be a normal characteristic of certain wines, the reality is that it's really the result of the presence of brettanomyces, a natural yeast that tends to thrive on fruit skins and can create a number of aromatic compounds in wine that evoke stinky, barnyard-esque descriptors.

German Wine in America: Süss oder Trocken?
Jessica Dupuy
Jun 16, 2015

A few years ago, I had the great fortune of visiting the majority of the wine regions along Germany's southwestern boundaries. While tasting through a wide variety of wines from the Rheingau, Rheinhessen, Baden and Wurtemburg, I was struck by the vast array of German dry wines, from red Portugieser, Lemberger and Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir) to white Silvaner and dry Riesling. Returning to the US, I've managed to uncover a handful of these dry-style German wines, but the discoveries are few and far between. Last year, I sat in on a seminar at TexSom given by Master Sommeliers Laura Williamson and Tim Gaiser that focused primarily on the beauty of Germany's dry wines and the growing demand for them among German consumers, particularly younger ones.