In The News

A selection of media stories that featured the Wine School of Philadelphia or the Philly Beer School. This is not complete by a long shot. We add new articles to this archive a few times every year.  If you are a journalist seeking a comment or help on an article, please contact us here: https://www.vinology.com/questions/question.

Interested in the history of the Wine School? You can also check our  Philly Uncorked show from Philly.com (Keith was YOUNG back then!) and the History of the Wine School page.  We also have a Building the Wine School section which highlights our organic design and by-the-bootstraps philosophy.

 

Draft Magazine: Getting schooled at the Philly Beer School

“Philadelphia is to beer what Sonoma is to wine,” says Keith Wallace to anyone who’ll listen. Considering the source, the proclamation, perhaps incendiary outside Pennsylvania, might sound outright puzzling within city limits. That’s because in 2001, Wallace, a winemaker, wine columnist, and author of two upcoming wine books, founded and still runs Philly’s best-known vinology school. So why is he extolling his territory’s beer lust at the expense of its pursuit of viticultural knowledge?

Because, acknowledging a craft revolution, he’s invited beer to take a permanent seat at The Wine School‘s table.

Wallace’s partner, a burly bald man named Dean Browne, asserts the alliance as he introduces himself to a group assembled in one of The Wine School’s classrooms on an early March night.

Philadelphia Daily News: Get a taste, and degree, for wine

If you don’t know a pinot gris from a pinot noir, resolve this year to become a wine pro.

With the popularity of movies like “Sideways,” a film about love and marriage set in southern California’s Santa Barbara County wine district, as well as increased interest among young professionals who are starting wine clubs and going to tastings, there’s no better time to sip and learn.

Philadelphia Inquirer: The newlywed cellar

Making those choices would be a challenge for even a well-seasoned wine drinker. So I turned to several Philadelphia wine experts for advice – plus specifics on how they would spend that $500 – and discovered a wide range of strategies, styles, and considerations for tackling such a happy conundrum.
The first question each one asked, though, was probably the least sexy: What is the storage situation?

“If wines are not stored in a reasonably cool, dark environment, they’re not going to hold very well,” says Keith Wallace, founder of the Wine School of Philadelphia. “Even two years out, bottles can be compromised.”

Dealing with wine fridges or a genuine basement wine cellar is a project of its own that can easily devour hundreds of dollars. But it’s a necessary evil if you plan to lay an expensive bottle down for a decade or two.

Chestnut Hill Local Story

This article is one of the few articles written about Keith's life before founding the Wine School.  It prominently features Rosie, his dog of many years. Sadly, Rosie passed away in March, 2013. The story was originally published by the Chestnut Hill Local in...

City Paper: The Climb

The story was originally published by the Philadelphia Inquirer on Mar 10, 2010. The Climb Behind Ladder 15's Ansill-fied revamp. by Felicia D'Ambrosio When word leaked that David Ansill had been hired as chef at Ladder 15 (1528 Sansom St.), the Internet backlash was...

Philadelphia Inquirer: Former LCB chief comes out in favor of privatizing State Stores

The man who once had the greatest say over what alcohol Pennsylvanians could drink has thrown his support behind the effort to take that control away from government and end the State Store system.

Jonathan Newman, the former chairman of the Liquor Control Board, said Tuesday that “the stars are perfectly aligned” to privatize the sale of wine and liquor in Pennsylvania – an endeavor that has failed under three previous governors. “This is the year change is going to happen,” Newman said during a news conference at the Wine School of Philadelphia.

Newman joined House Majority Leader Mike Turzai (R., Allegheny) and State Rep. Tom Killion (R., Delaware), the sponsors of the bill to privatize the LCB’s wholesale and retail operations.

The Phoenix: Wine, Wit and Wisdom

The festivities began with a sponsors’ reception, and featured speaker Keith Wallace, owner of The Wine School of Philadelphia. “We do charity events all of the time because they are fun,” said Wallace. “The people in Phoenixville are open-minded, and it was an honor to be here.”
Wallace said that people are becoming more and more curious about wine. “I like that so I can give them more information about wine,” he said. “They are enthusiastic and have a lot of good questions.”

Wallace had 125 bottles of wine in tow, and said he usually brings 25 percent more just in case. “We opened almost all of them,” he said. “We try to bring a half a bottle per person, which equals three glasses total. It’s about keeping everyone happy so they can drive home.”

City Paper: NYE Toasts Uncorked

The story was originally published by the Philadelphia City Paper  on December 27, 2006.   NYE Toasts Uncorked Author: Amy Strauss 1 Chimay Cinq Cents. Home Sweet Homebrew owner George Hummel recommends toasting with a bottle of hard-nosed Belgian beer. Aside from his...

Associated Press: Taking wine as gift shouldn’t be a chore

It’s a look wine shop clerks know well. That overwhelmed, glassy-eyed stare that afflicts people as they wade through aisle after aisle of wine in search of the right bottle to bring to a party.

But arming yourself with a little advice and doing a bit of planning can make it easy to break out of the wine shop stupor and get the right wine for the right event for the right price.

Step 1: Relax. It’s just wine. And most shops are jammed with great $10 bottles, so it’s hard to make an awful choice.

Philadelphia Inquirer: Not all are toasting changes uncorked by LCB

It is a case of vintage revenge. Wine merchants in Delaware and South Jersey are now clearing shelf space for their old nemesis: Jonathan Newman, former chairman of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.

The “xChairman Selections,” as one shop calls them, are the discounted wines that Newman’s new company will introduce in Pennsylvania border states this month.

Newman had risen to the unlikely status of folk hero among Pennsylvania wine lovers, partly because of his celebrated Chairman’s Selection specials. But one year ago, he resigned in protest after Gov. Rendell’s controversial appointment of Joe Conti as chief executive officer of the LCB.

While Newman’s entry into the private sector is intriguing the sip-and-swirl crowd, it also casts a spotlight back on the LCB. The $1.69 billion-a-year agency has been the subject of skepticism and upheaval since Newman left.

Associated Press: Wine vending machines make their debut

Numerous attempts at reform have been turned back by special interests intent on keeping their slice of the pie. So simply stocking Chianti and cabernet on supermarket shelves is not an option under the state’s post-Prohibition liquor laws. The liquor board has tried to be more consumer-friendly in recent years, including opening 19 full-service state stores in supermarkets. The board touts the kiosks as another step toward modernization – “an added level of convenience in today’s busy society,” liquor board Chairman Patrick Stapleton said in a statement.

Not everyone is swallowing that line. Craig Wolf, president and CEO of the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America, questioned the machines’ efficacy in preventing sales to minors.

Keith Wallace, president and founder of The Wine School of Philadelphia, described the kiosks as well-intentioned failures with limited selections and overtones of Big Brother. “The process is cumbersome and assumes the worst in Pennsylvania’s wine consumers – that we are a bunch of conniving underage drunks,” Wallace wrote in an e-mail to The Associated Press. “(Liquor board) members are clearly detached from reality if they think these machines offer any value to the consumer.”

Associated Press: The perfect drink for the Super Bowl

During Superbowl season, beer and football almost seem like synonyms. But what if you or your crowd prefer wine?

Since most foods served on Superbowl Sunday – the usual array of chili, ribs, chips and dip – are salty, David Snyder, a wine instructor at the Wine School of Philadelphia, suggest high acid wines such as Champagne or sauvignon blanc.

“Champagne with potato chips goes perfectly,” he says. “High acid wine goes with salty foods because it’s going to moderate the saltiness. It’s a fantastic combination.”

But be careful when it comes to chili or ribs, especially if they’re hot and spicy. Low-acid whites, such as chardonnay, or high-tannin reds, such as cabernet sauvignon, react poorly with the heat.

“It will override the natural flavors and the food will end up tasting terrible,” Snyder says.

Philadelphia City Paper: Gary Vaynerchuk at the Wine School

Wine guru Gary Vaynerchuk will be at the Wine School of Philadelphia today, June 12, to promote his new book — Gary Vaynerchuk’s 101 Wines: Guaranteed to Inspire, Delight and Bring Thunder to Your World (Rodale Books, $19.95). Vaynerchuk– or Gary V, as his followers, the “Vayniacs,” call him — is the director of operations for Springfield, N.J.’s Wine Library, but he’s best-known for his high-energy video podcast on tv.winelibrary.com, where he moves away from stuffy wine practices by using terms like “sniffy sniff” and asking whether a bottle “brings the thunder” when he reviews them. The Internet celebrity has appeared on Ellen and Late Night with Conan O’Brien, and he’s been featured in print in places like The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Time.

Los Angeles Times: Rasslers ready to stomp on wine snoots

Vince McMahon doesn’t want anyone thinking his wrestling superstars are a bunch of wine-tasting wimps.
McMahon’s World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. has told the American Wine Foundation, owner of the Wine School of Philadelphia with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, that it is infringing on its copyright by calling one of its wine classes “Sommelier Smackdown.” As any WWE fan knows, “Smackdown” is the name of one of its most popular franchises.
In a letter to the Wine School of Philadelphia, the WWE told the wine sippers that its use of the word “smackdown” is “likely to create consumer confusion as to WWE’s affiliation, sponsorship and/or approval” of the class. Yes, because we all know how similar wine snobs are to wrestling fanatics.

Philadelphia Inquirer: Wine in a box

The story was originally published by the Philadelphia Inquirer on August 25, 2008.  The article is reprinted solely for educational purposes.  It is intended to offer insight into the history of wine education in Philadelphia, and our place within that context....

Wall Street Journal: School is in.

The story was originally published by the Wall Street Journal on January 8, 2010. The article is reprinted solely for educational purposes.  It is intended to offer insight into the history of wine education in Philadelphia, and our place within that history. School...

Philadelphia Inquirer: The Wine School vs. WWE

World Wrestling Entertainment is going to the mat against the Wine School of Philadelphia. WWE, which trademarked the term Smackdown years ago, is fighting the Wine School’s attempt to register Sommelier Smackdown for its grape-centric competitions.

Last month, WWE law firm K&L Gates sent a cease-and-desist letter to the Fairmount business, which started Sommelier Smackdowns in 2007.”I feel kind of special,” said Keith Wallace. “I am being picked on by Vince McMahon. I better start working out.” In a note to friends, he wrote that he was calling out McMahon and wrestlerChris Jericho to a wine-tasting double-team cage match.

NPR Interview featuring Keith Wallace

Katie Britton of  WAMC/NPR interviews Keith Wallace. The interview revolves around Keith's cookbook, Corked & Forked. It's a awesome interview and quite long. It was originally supposed to be edited down to a five minute interview, but they opted to run the entire...

Napa Valley Register: The European tradition of mulled wine started in ancient Greece.

My friends in Great Britain insist no holiday can be merry without mulled wine. But why should the Brits have all the fun?

The European tradition of mulling wine started in ancient Greece where heat and spices were used to salvage old wine once the summer’s harvest went bad. In the Middle Ages, mulled wine was credited with medicinal and aphrodisiac powers (what serf wouldn’t love to snuggle up with a hot toddy), and in Victorian England a spot of tea was added to a glass of mulled wine and dubbed “Christmas tea.”

In the United States, nearly everyone cites eggnog as our most typical holiday libation. Historically this creamy holiday tradition has beat out mulled wine due to the availability of milk and eggs from our plentiful farms, as well as the rum that’s been an affordable U.S. import from the Caribbean.

Philadelphia Inquirer: Court case on direct sales invigorates wine-lovers

Local wine aficionados love to grouse, often with good reason, about how state regulations can sometimes stand between them and that coveted vintage.
But they are divided over whether a favorable decision in a case pending before the U.S. Supreme Court would do much to make more varieties available, or cheaper, in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The court is being asked to decide whether states can limit direct, winery-to-wine-lover sales.
Keith Wallace, president of the Wine School in Philadelphia, had 53 phone messages the day after the Supreme Court heard arguments, and knows that oenophiles are watching the case.

Wallace spends $30,000 a year on wine. He said that recent innovations by the Liquor Control Board mean that “you have an enormous selection available.
“The problem is that the price point is often 10 to 30 percent higher than anywhere else,” he said.

The best-case scenario, he said, would be a Supreme Court decision that dealt a mortal blow to the state-store system.

But the odds are that Pennsylvania’s unique system, criticized for decades but politically resilient, will survive relatively unchanged.

Philadelphia Inquirer: Sommeliers: A rare vintage

At the five-year-old Wine School of Philadelphia, located in Fairmount, 60 students are taking sommelier courses, even though director Keith Wallace decries the profession as “the worst position on the face of the earth. At most places, they’re glorified restaurant managers, talked down to and condescended to.”

Beverage managers, responsible for all libations served, make “marginal income,” between $30,000 and $40,000 after long hours, Wallace says, “at the very top, you can make $60,000 to $80,000,” but the hours are punishing. “The wine industry itself is an amazing place to work,” Wallace says. He directs students to industry positions, advertising for a large wine company, importing, running portfolios for distributors all offering the possibility of better pay, travel, nights and weekends off. (Contrary to assumptions, there are import and distribution jobs in Pennsylvania, but only one buyer.)

City Paper: Class Act

Picking the perfect vintage can be a frustrating venture — the employees at PLCB stores are often unhelpful; labels on the bottles can be harder to decode than the exemptions for Philadelphia’s smoking ban; and experimenting with different wines gets expensive.

Much like Prometheus stealing fire from the gods to give to man, Keith Wallace (pictured) has made it his mission to demystify wine and make it more accessible to the masses. “It’s an art form that’s to be enjoyed, not to be rarefied,” says Wallace. “The more you know about it, the more you’ll love it.”
Frustrated by the quality of wine education, Wallace founded The Wine School of Philadelphia in 2001. “Everything everyone was learning was bullshit. Every major wine book is underwritten by a distributor or an importer,” explains Wallace. “This really bugged me, so I started the school.”

Wallace didn’t know whether it was going to be successful; he just knew he liked doing it. But in the last six years, The Wine School has sold out every class it’s ever hosted. His teaching staff has grown to include writer Brian Freedman, local wine distributor Pete Mitchell, and Frank Cipparone, a retired teacher who spent the last decade studying Italian wine.