IMG_7093We often think about wines in a static way – especially when it comes to grapes. Oh, Cabernet Sauvignon, it’s just there, it’s been there forever, right? But grapes have political and cultural biographies, or “careers,” you could say, just like people or countries do. 

Mourvèdre is a really fascinating grape. First of all, it is something of a cornerstone for various important figures in American gastronomic history, like MFK Fisher, Alice Waters, Richard Olney, Julia Child, and Kermit Lynch, all of whom were obsessed with Provence, its food and wine and scenery. But, were it not for the diligent research and replanting efforts of Lucien Peyraud of Domaine Tempier, the appellation of Bandol wouldn’t exist — and who knows whether upstart winemakers in California would now be making tasty cult bottles for us to geek out over?

Check out my piece about Mourvèdre, with wine recommendations, on Eater Drinks, here

Also, if you need Thanksgiving wine recommendations, I wrote about some of my preferred bottles on Food Republic – with options for budget-conscious drinkers as well as more splurge-y wines. Read here

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!



IMG_4646Recently, I launched a regular column at Vine Pair, a blog about drinking culture, which will come out every Wednesday. This week, I shared some tips for finding a legit place to drink awesome wine – so you can avoid places that advertise themselves as wine bars or wine restaurants, but are really just trying to ride the trend wave. Check out my piece here; I hope it helps you find someplace great to drink!

The column is pretty open, and I’d love to hear what people out there (not publicists, regular people who want to learn more about wine) come up with as suggestions for topics – write to me at my full name at gmail.

Nous Sommes Tous Parisiens


Communism In A Bottle

Communist Wine_Rachel SignerThere was a pivotal moment when I realized that wine was more than just a beverage. Being an agricultural product, wine represents a confluence of politics, history, language, and economics; it was this multidimensional nature of wine that pulled me in, along with its ability to knock you out with a particularly ethereal bottle.

On a recent trip to Hungary, I had a moving experience tasting a bottle of wine made during the Communist era. Hungary’s wine industry has moved on since the fall of that regime, but it’s still worthwhile, I think, to revisit the period of State production and consider its legacy.

Read my piece on MUNCHIES.

IMG_5383When Food Republic asked me to do a “terroir explainer,” my first response was, that’s insane. But then I just started writing, and I realized that instead of “explaining” what terroir is, I could do a better job talking about some of the interesting questions, debates, and mystical aspects that accompany the idea of terroir. Really, I think that terroir’s ultimate unknowability is actually the reason why wine is so interesting to people like me, who are insatiably curious and love the unique intersection of agriculture, politics, and history that we find in every outstanding bottle. Read my article at Food Republic here, and let me know what you think! 

One of my fondest memories of graduate school is hanging out at Spain, a super old-school restaurant on W 13th Street where about five bucks gets you a glass of the house red, plus plates of tapas, like greasy meatballs and potato chips, served by grumpy old Spanish men in suspenders. It was charming, and I didn’t care what kind of juice I was drinking back then – but the good news is that it’s now possible to enjoy updated, sophisticated Spanish cuisine alongside elegant, easy-drinking wines that don’t destroy your mouth with tannins.

Forget the oaky, jammy stuff that for too long defined Spanish wine; there’s a whole generation of small-scale producers in Spain who are making lower-alcohol, less oaky wines, often with unusual and indigenous varieties and unexpected flavors. Now, New York City has its first restaurant featuring an array of these wines, the new East Village spot xYz. Check out my write-up of the resto and Alvaro de la Viña’s game-changing wine list, over at Gothamist. (For more on the new wave of Spanish natural wines, see my piece for Saveur from a few months ago.)

Riesling And Riesling

Last month, I traveled to the Rheingau and Rhinehessen, and learned about the shift in Germany toward terroir-driven winemaking, particularly with dry Riesling, as well as the organic and biodynamic movement there.

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Back in New York, I’ve been spreading the Riesling gospel. But of course, I would have been remiss if I limited it only to what’s going on in the Old World. The Finger Lakes is producing wonderful Riesling, and I wanted to not only mention that region in general, but highlight the strides taken by innovative winemakers like Kris Matthewson, of Bellwether Wine Cellars, toward natural winemaking – which is not really a trend, in that area. For other natural Finger Lakes wines, look for Bloomer Creek and Eminence Road.

Check out my article on the new generation making German Riesling for Vine Pair here . . .


my more domestic-focused Riesling piece for Eater, here.

And . . . go drink some Riesling.


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