Book Review: Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler

For those of you who may not know, besides being a wine nerd, I’m also a book nerd. I work as an editor for an independent publisher, and I will read…pretty much any form of fiction. But what I’ve really been enjoying lately are authors who are combining my two passions: wine fiction. Yes, if you haven’t read The Winemakers by Jan Moran or Janet Hubbard’s Vengeance in the Vineyards series, I highly recommend them. But today I present to you a somewhat sordid tale of one woman’s food, wine, and life education: Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler.

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Ghost Hill Cellars 2013 Pinot Noir Blanc

Pinot Noir Blanc kind of sounds like an oxymoron, right? How can a red wine be white? And, if it is, how much will it still taste like the well-known (and for me beloved) varietal? I had so many questions when I saw folks posting pics of this unique Pinot Noir winemaking method a few weeks ago — from various different producers, mind you. Well, it was John and Irene Ingersoll of  to the rescue once again to help satiate my curiosity…

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The Vinum 2016 Montepulciano

I fell in love with Montepulciano while traveling in Italy. Believe it or not, my first sip was during a flight of Italian wines on the cruise ship that was carting me around the Mediterranean. It was the last in the line up, but the one I remember most. But, like the Croatian wine I talked about, since that trip I really haven’t had much of the varietal. And, again, it was my good friends John and Irene Ingersoll who write and sell at  who were able to take me back to that magical place via the gift of wine.

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Josić Ciconia Nigra Cuvée Superior 2013

I haven’t had Croatian wine since I actually visited Croatia. And that was some time ago — long enough ago that I can’t recall what kinds of wines the country produces let alone what individual bottles tasted like. (This was pre-wine note-taking.) So I was thrilled when fellow bloggers/wine-sellers/good friends John and Irene Ingersoll of  topochinesvino.com offered to send me one of their favs. This wine, paired with a mouth-watering Croatian-inspired meal, was the perfect way to take me back to the Mediterranean. 

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Yorkville Cellars 2014 Richard the Lion-Heart: Bordeaux Red Blend

I can’t think of a better way to introduce this wine than with the story of how it got its name…

From Yorkville Cellars Founder, Ed Wallo:

Richard I was the King of England from 1189-1199. Along with the kingship of England, Richard also inherited Dukedoms and Counties across Europe too numerous to list here, one of which was Aquitaine, known to us in modern times as Bordeaux, in the south west of France. Richard is famous for spending very little time in England, preferring to spend most of his time fighting. However, he understood that his war machine required one very important thing: top quality wine.

In 1199 Richard signed a charter that granted, for the first time, self governance to a group of the King’s subjects. The city of Saint-Émilion on the Gironde River, just northeast of what is now the city of Bordeaux, received the right to govern itself in exchange for quality-control checking every barrel of wine that was shipped from their port to Richard’s troops. If the sampled barrel passed the taste test, the side was burned with the King’s royal seal. If it didn’t, it was hurled into the river.

The six Noble Red grapes that were planted in Richard’s time are some of the same ones we have planted in our vineyard at Yorkville today. Those same varietals all blended together (as in this blend) was the wine Richard, with his refined palate, was gulping down after the heat of battle.

Cool story, no? So let us taste with our refined palates, this most royal of red blends…

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