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.

Frontpage Hero for Wine School of Philadelphia

Erna Schein 2006 Petite Sirah

California Wine Review A bruisingly fun and vibrant wine from the Spring Mountain AVA in Napa Valley. It is also pleasantly bruising. Possibly even richly deep. Like all Petite Sirah, this isn’t …

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Philadelphia Inquirer

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.”

jet wine bar

Jet Wine Bar

When I met Jill Weber, she was an archaeologist with a taste for wines from impossible places. Her palate followed her work: into the ancient vineyards of Syria and Turkey, through the ancient …

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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.

Frontpage Hero for Wine School of Philadelphia

Gloria Ferrer 2002 Royal Cuvee

The Ferrer family is best known for their other winery, the Spanish bubbly producer Freixenet. However, this Sonoma County winery, named after the family’s matriarch, almost always exceeds the quality of …

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