New Somm Movie Looks to Demystify Wine

A snail clings to a grape cluster … Is this a sign of biodiversity in a vineyard, or just plain gross?

As a winemaker, wine journalist, and a wine educator, it’s never easy to ascertain exactly what a guest or client knows about wine until you have a few precious moments to spend with them.

Unfortunately, so much is left out of the conversation because the conversation is rarely long enough to speak about the part of the wine that really matters – everything.

Forgotten Man Films, the team that delivered SOMM: the documentary, has returned with a SOMM: Into the Bottle, due out this summer. This time, the focus appears to be as much a celebration of what’s in your glass as it is a turning of the compost which was used to …. Forget it, here’s the trailer.

The sea of wine education films and videos seems to grow by the day. Many of them inevitably fall short of rippling the liquid surface of wine’s depth. That being said, if the cast from the first film has anything to say about it, many of whom are returning for this second run at professional wine edutainment, my hope is they extend the conversation … at the very least, until they need to make a third film, which I would probably also watch.

Personally, I can’t wait to see this movie. After nearly fifteen years in the wine business, and seeing the overcoat and the underbelly of the trade, I can say with sincerity that there are many reasons why someone would turn away from Wine after bathing in it for so long, but there is virtually nowhere else I would rather be.

Honesty, Honestly

wine hands

Photo © by Ali B.


I had a dream last night. Okay, it was this morning. Right before I woke up. Maybe that’s why it’s still fresh in my mind. I can feel myself moving through it, talking in it, even now, minutes into the future with my morning toast and coffee in hand, as I try to wrap my words around the central point of the dream.

I don’t analyze my dreams on a regular basis, I dream about too much nonsense. This one, however, I believe is worth writing about. Partly because it has to do with writing, partly because it has to do with wine, or the “blogging about wine,” and some problems I’ve been mulling about Social Media in general.

The premise of the dream – at least how it started – was rather simple. I was invited to a conference of writers. Most of them were wine writers, wine thinkers, wine communicators, promoters, etc. There was the expectation that I would be giving a presentation. I told the organizers that I hadn’t anticipated attending the conference and that I hadn’t prepared anything, but that if they wanted me to be there I would try to prepare something.

I struggled to figure out what to present to the audience that I anticipated would be in attendance. Certainly, they were professors of wine, wine doctors, masters of sommeliership, theoreticians and the like. I certainly couldn’t take this assignment lightly.

Finally, an idea occurred to me. Honest Wine Writing. It was a nebulous theme, but I am not immune to building something concrete from an unformulated concept.

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The Best of 2014: Nemea, Greece

The short film above was produced by Ballenadepapel Bdp for Nemea Wineland during the #NemeaWineTour2014

As 2015 opens its doors to new opportunities, I find myself looking back on my favorite parts of 2014. There are a few experiences that I will remember, but there are also those memories that I will never forget. My trip to Nemea, Greece was that 2014 event.

In June, I had the unique opportunity to join an elite team of communicators from around the globe during the #NemeaWineTour2014, led by Ted Lelekas. Over the course of three days, we met with nearly 30 wine producers and tasted more than 200 wines to learn what makes Nemea a player to watch in the international wine games.

Over the last two decades, thanks in large part to subsidies from the European Union, significant investments have been made in Greek vini-viti-research, vineyard management and winery technology, turning what was once an international reputation of retsina producers into a quality-focused national collective of distinctive wine regions.

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Sparkling Wines For New Years

Champagne – American Wine Writer, Benjamin Spencer

Photo Courtesy of Eligible Magazine

Sparkling wines are synonymous with happiness, joy, and hope. There is no other wine in the world so intrinsically attached to one set of human emotions. For centuries, people have been popping corks of effervescent wines to celebrate special occasions and end of the year festivities. Why should this year be different?

Following is a list of sensuous sparkling wines that can be found on most market and specialist-retailer shelves. I hope they help you find something to make your memorable moments extraordinary.

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[This article was written by Benjamin Spencer, AmericanWineWriter, and published by Eligible Magazine. Follow this link to read the full article.]

Wine For The Children


Photograph © Benjamin Spencer


“It was a windy but sunny day in May. At nine o’clock Peanut started to walk to school. He has blue eyes, blonde hair, and is chubby. Peanut always stops at 45 State Street for his friend Purple. She is also chubby….”

This is how Elizabeth “Teddi” Mervis’ short story Fun And Bad Times In School begins. Teddi wrote the story and published it in a chapbook one year after she was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor, two years before she lost her struggle with the disease at the age of twelve. Sadly, Teddi’s story is not a unique one.

According to A Cancer Journal for Clinicians and the National Cancer Institute, cancer affected an estimated 15,700 children and adolescents between the ages of 0 and 19 in the United States in 2014. It is estimated that 2,000 of those affected will die of the disease. Though mortality rates are changing, due to advances in research and treatments, there are very few prospects to distract from the isolation of being a child with cancer.

One very special camp, in Upstate New York, is changing that. Continue reading

Creative Holiday Gift Ideas

AmericanWineWriter – WineLlightsThe perfect holiday gifts tend to be the ones we enjoy ourselves. For those of us who have a wine lover in our lives, a bottle of something special is usually a great bet. But with so many intriguing gadgets, educational materials, and experiences to be found, there are more creative ways to show that special person in your life that you love wine too.

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[This article was written by Benjamin Spencer, AmericanWineWriter, and published by Eligible Magazine. Follow this link to read the full article.]