Merlot: Maligned No Longer?


I have to admit, I didn't think we would be THAT successful with changing people's opinions about Merlot.

Merlot has been a bad word since the movie "Sideways" came out in 2004, and even the people who buy the few bottles we sell every year seem embarrassed about picking one up. They usually offer up an excuse of some sort. "I hate Merlot, but this bottle is actually pretty good" or some similar explanation. I've got news for you, you like Merlot and that is ok.

People think that liking Merlot makes them an uncultured rube. I've actually had people come up to the tasting bar in our wine shop excited to try the red and white we are pouring that day, just to change their mind once they see the word "Merlot" on the label. With a wave of their hand, they say "no thanks, I don't drink Merlot," as if they caught us in a trick at the last moment.

Imagine how surprised we were when our "Much Maligned Grapes: Merlot" class sold out! We packed 26 people into our classroom and fed them 5 different Merlot's from all over the world as they listened to me rant about "Sideways" and Juniper Cooper from Mutual Distribution talk about each wine.

The amazing thing was, the attendees really liked the wines! We sold out of the bottles we brought in for the event. Looking at our inventory afterwards you would think we had been robbed. It was the most Merlot purchased in one day since we opened our doors six years ago.

Did we change the course of wine history? Have we officially ended the stigma of drinking Merlot?  Only time will tell, but yes.

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Much Maligned Grapes Class 2: Merlot


Do you love the movie Sideways? Did Paul Giamatti convince you to stop drinking Merlot? Maybe it's time to revisit this old favorite.

On March 19th we will take a tour of perhaps the most maligned grape of all with examples to taste from all over the world. Taste and learn about five different bottles of Merlot served with cheese. Andy Hale will start the class with an overview of the history and characteristics of the grape and Juniper Cooper will present the five bottles with the particular details concerning the country of origin and the style of the wine.

March 19th, 2019, from 5:30 to 6:30
$25+tax Includes wine tasting and cheese


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Michelle D'Aprix Bordeaux Class

I am very excited to announce a class on the Bordeaux region of France taught by yours truly and our favorite Bordeaux winemaker, Michelle D'Aprix! In case you haven't heard of Michelle, she is the only American woman winemaker in Bordeaux, and she makes some of our favorite French wines.
Andy Hale of the Asheville School of Wine will start the class off with the "nuts and bolts" of the Bordeaux region such as basic geography, permitted grapes, etc. Then Michelle will take us on an insider's tour of the Bordeaux region, talk about what it is like to make wine in Bordeaux and about being an American woman winemaker in France. It will be a truly uniqe experience you won't want to miss!
Join us March 26th, from 5:30-6:30. Class is $25 and includes cheese and a wine tasting.


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Additional Dates for our 2-Part Italian Wine Class


Well it looks like our tiny classroom just isn't big enough! Even though we crammed almost 30 people in for our 2-part Italian Wine class, we still have a massive waiting list. Since so many people didn't make it into our class, we have opened up some new dates for our popular class.

There will be a second class for Northern Italy on March 12th at 5:30, although this class is already sold out.

A third class for Northern Italy is scheduled for April the 9th at 5:30.

A second class for Southern Italy is scheduled for April the 11th at 5:30.

The cost for each class is $25 plus tax and includes a tasting of some of the wines we will discuss in the lecture.

Buy classes here!


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"Chardonnay Around the World" Class Was a Hit!



Last night we hosted Chris Curtis from Winebow Distribution for our first class in our "Much Maligned Grapes" Series of classes. In this four part series of classes we will focus on a single grape varietal and taste examples of it from all over the world and with very different flavor profiles. Last night's class "Chardonnay Around the World" was the first in this series.

I started the class off with some information about the basic characteristics of Chardonnay, and then spoke about some of the techniques that winemakers can use to add the famous "Buttery" flavor that some Chardonnays are famous for.

For the rest of the class, Chris took us on a tasting tour of 6 Chardonnays from around the world. As we swirled, sniffed and slurped the wines, Chris spoke about the wine regions of each and talked about how each wine was made.

After it was all done, we had some self proclaimed "Chardonnay haters" that found a few Chardonnays that they would actually buy! I think everyone learned a little more about one of the most versatile and famous white wines.

Join us on March 19th as we continue the Much Maligned Grapes Series with the most maligned grape of them all: Merlot! Don't avoid Merlot just because Paul Giamatti told you not to!

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Learn about Italian Wine in our New 2 Part Series

Intimidated by the Italian wine section of your favorite wine shop or restaurant wine list?

Fear no more!

We are taking the most popular section of our Around the World in Wine series and going more in-depth. Instead of a quick glossing over of the most important Italian wines and regions, we will delve deeper and talk about the lesser known wines as well. You will leave this class confident and ready to take on an all Italian wine list!

This series will feature two classes, one on the wines of Northern Italy and one for the South.

In the Northern Italian Class, expect to learn about and taste the most famous of Italian wines. Learn about Chianti, Soave, Brunello, Barolo, Amarone and many more. This class will premier on Thursday January 24th from 5:30 until 6:30.

The Southern Italian Class will cover wines and regions south of Tuscany. These will be less famous, richer in style and a better value. Learn about Italian Zinfandel aka Primitivo, the wines of Campania - the ancient Roman equivalent to First Growths, the wines of Sicily and even Sardinia. Drinking the wines from one region will supposedly extend your life, find out why! This class will premier on Thursday January 31st from 5:30-6:30.

The cost for each class is $25 plus tax per person and includes a wine tasting and cheese.

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"Around the World in Wine"


Since our 6-class series of wine classes were so popular last year, we are bringing them back for  another go!

This series will tackle everything from the basics of wine; varietals, food and wine pairing, describing wine flavors and even interacting with your Sommelier, to the more advanced classes on the different wines of the world; regions, grapes, and terroir.

Of course, there will be wines to taste and cheese to eat along with the class itself.

Learn, laugh, and learn to talk about wine with confidence.

More info at

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Recent Comments
Andy Hale
We will definitely do this series again. What is your email address? I can put you on our newsletter which does have some info oth... Read More
Friday, 12 October 2018 11:19
Andy Hale
My pleasure!
Monday, 15 October 2018 12:12
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I'm Back!


So you may have noticed that I have been absent from this site for a little while. Like a dutiful husband, I followed my wife to Nashville when she was offered a big promotion with her company.

In life, you have to go where the job takes you. Right?

We were in Nashville for about 6 months when the combination of hot, humid weather, miserable traffic and hour-long work commutes caused us to rethink our move. We missed the mountains, the funky vibe of the Asheville scene, and our friends and family that we left behind. We talked it over and decided that a job wasn't worth sacrificing our quality of life.

Sometimes you don't realize how great your life really is until you move away and shake everything up.

We packed up our house and pointed our cars to the East. Back to Asheville. Back home.

This is my rambling way of saying that I will be taking over the reins of the Asheville School of Wine again. In the coming months, expect to see more classes and events posted and I'll be running my virtual mouth here on this blog as well. Keep an eye out for classes like "Money, Mayhem & Murder: The Darkest Side of Wine" through the OLLI Program at UNCA, "Wine Essentials" and many more!

It's great to be back and an honor to be resuming my post here at the School! See you all again soon!


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Explorations in Taste: Chardonnay

From Laurel of Asheville

by Gina Trippi

Explorations in Taste: Chardonnay

By Gina Trippi

How many times have you heard someone say, “I don’t like chardonnay”? Maybe they don’t, but maybe they just have not found their style. Chardonnay varies in style and quality within states, from state to state, within countries and from country to country around the world. Let’s explore!

We start with the gold standard, French chardonnay, also known as white Burgundy. What distinguishes French chardonnay is the soil and climate. Composed of ancient limestone and clay, the soil provides structure and lively acidity while the climate forces the vines to struggle, which yields complexity.

California now has more than 100,000 acres of chardonnay vines and hundreds of different styles. The most prominent differences between French and California chardonnay wines are soil, the use of oak and malolactic acid. California soil consists mainly of sandstone, volcanic lava and fine grain quartz, making the wines just a little less sharp than the French.

Some California chardonnays have been described as “buttery.” White wine naturally goes through a process called malolactic fermentation, kickstarted by a benign bacteria, during barrel aging. During this process, a buttery flavored compound called diacetyl, regularly added to margarine, is produced, making the wine softer and rounder.

If a winemaker wants to preserve a tart acidity, producing a wine more French in style, the malolactic process can be skipped or shortened. Likewise, if the desired result is a softer texture, the process can also be lengthened, making the wine more “buttery.”

Oak aging also contributes to the buttery taste as well as adding flavors including vanilla, baked tart and coconut.

Three countries staking out territory in the world of chardonnay are Argentina, South Africa and Australia.

Known for Malbec, Argentina also produces stunning chardonnay. The reason that Malbec thrives in Argentina is the same reason chardonnay works: the Andes Mountain Range. The altitude provides the perfect combination of intense sunlight to ripen the grapes and cool temperatures to preserve acidity and freshness. Chardonnay from Mendoza will show tropical fruit flavors and, reflecting that cooler temperature, citrus.

While the most popular white grape in South Africa is chenin blanc, chardonnay is now competing on the world stage. Styles range from un-oaked, steely and clean to oaked with a rich and buttery consistency. All styles present the characteristic citrus and tropical fruit flavors.

Generally speaking, South African chardonnays are simpler than the French version and more tropical than most California chardonnays. DMZ chardonnay offers aromas of vanilla, almond, tropical fruit and grapefruit, and apple, butterscotch, caramel and toast on the palate with a French acidity and a minerally edge.

Once described as big, fat, brassy and oaky, advances in technology and the advantage of cooler climate regions have put Australian chardonnay, particularly those from Yarra Valley, on the wine map.

In Italy, some of the most respected wineries, including Antinori, making wine since the 14th century, are offering chardonnay from Piedmont to Puglia. And cool climate chardonnay from the Navarra region in Spain has been said to rival the best white burgundies. Explore the world of chardonnay!

Gina Trippi is the co-owner of Metro Wines, 169 Charlotte Street in Asheville. Committed to the community, Metro Wines offers big shop selection with small shop service. Gina can be reached atThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 828.575.9525.

Read Laurel of Asheville online HERE!

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Travel Vicariously Through Wine

WSJ Talks Summer Vacation Deals
Can't go? Travel vicariously through wine.
Shop bottles or plan a private tasting @MetroWines.

You are going? Be ready! Be the wine who knows the wine.
Plan a private class and tasting. And Bon voyage.
Call (828) 575-9525

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Great Rose' Tasting June

Great Rose Tasting @MetroWines
Saturday, June 2nd @MetroWines from 10am to 7pm
6 Bottles from around the world "on the taste" and "on the house"

As Featured in Carolina Epicurean

The Asheville School of Wine will be available all day

with a tasting notes for the "pours" and to discuss Rose!

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Francois Servin Talks @MetroWines


Francois Servin poured his Chablis @MetroWines on Saturday Night, May 19th.
There were over 40 people crowding the bar through the two hours of the tasting so a sit down interview was not possible. This is what I gleaned from Francois as he responded to questions from the crowd.
First, Francois is a lovely and engaging person, with or without great Chablis!
Francois is ALL about Chablis and so was his father before him and his father before him. So he likes, he makes, and he almost exclusively drinks Chablis. 
Francois says there is a danger beyond diversity in this singular approach to wine. If all you drink is your own, he says, "it's hard to tell if the wine is off."  Francois and other makers in Chablis have a regular get together where they taste test each other's wines.
But what if you got crazy, I asked Francois, and drank another wine? Waht wold it be? "Red Burgundy," he says. Some security, Francois believes, in this choice. "Because there is some pain with Bordeaux," says Francois.  "Bordeaux is either too old or too young, there is always something wrong and you don't know until you open the bottle!"
What if you get crazy again and decide to grow another varietal. What would it be?Sit down. "Zinfandel," says Francois. "Zinfandel is fruity and easy to drink." 
So not all things California are bad! But one thing that is bad is what the big early produces did to the name Chablis. The truth is that jug had a concoction of mostly table food grapes, not Chardonnay from Chablis. I ask Francois how we can get past the stigma of a big jug that calls itself Chablis. Francois suggests we refer to the bottle first as Chardonnay and then say it is "from Chablis."
BTW, Francois does not eat cheese. I ask what the cheese eaters would pair with his Chablis. Francois says some french cheese that I can't pronounce and "gruyere."

Besides the US, Francois says his biggest markets are UK, Japan and, get this, Russia.

And one more thing. I had Disco playing on Spitify. I ask Francois if he would prefer a different music. "Yes, country," he says.

All in all a good night. 
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Summer Class through OLLI Asheville

Asheville School of Wine 


Summer Wines

Local favorites Around the World


Register through OLLI

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Are Expensive Wines Worth It?

"Are expensive Wines Worth It?"
John Kerr of The Asheville School of Wine @MetroWines

Tells All for Capital at Play
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Great Rose' Tasting May


Great Rose Tasting: May 5th from 10am to 7pm @Metrowines

Event Pricing (10% off any bottle) in RED

1. Le Quattro Terre Rosato 2017 Piedmont, Italy $11.99 ($10.79)

This Barbera Rose is a bright pink in the glass with aromas of strawberry and rose petal leading to a salty, mineral driven finish. 

2. Fleur de Prairie 2017, Provence $14.99 ($13.49)

Crafted in the traditional Provencal style, this blend of Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault is a pale salmon color with flavors of strawberry, rose petals and herbs. Bright refreshing acidity. Fleur de Prairie translates as "wildflowers" celebrating the beautiful fields of wisteria, lavender, poppy (you might find a wisp on the nose!) and sunflowers. 

3. DMZ Rose 2017, Stellenbosch, South Africa $14.99 ($13.49)

A crowd pleasing Cabernet rose with alluring aromas and juicy flavors of strawberry, watermelon and pomegranate highlighted by delicate floral and spice notes. 

4. OVR Old Vine Rose Marietta Cellars, California $13.99 ($12.59)

This juicy blend of Syrah, Grenache Noir and Grenache Gris presents bright red and blue fruits on the nose and palate. Balanced bright fruit and acidity. 

5. Zoe, Greece 2017 $12.49 ($11.24)

"Zoe" means life in Greek. This dry rose, a blend of 70% Aghiorghitiko and 30% Moscofilero, is full of life! Ripe cherries, rose petals on the nose and palate. 

6. Gateway Vinho Verde, Portugal $9.99 ($8.99)

A blend of regional varietals: 60% Touriga Nacional and 40% Espadeiro. Bright pink color. The nose is lively strawberry and red currant complemented with floral notes. Luscious palate presents good acidity with fresh, young fruit, slight fizz and delicate finish. 

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OLLI Class: Summer White Wines


Register for this class through OLLI at UNCA  HERE

Summer White Wines: Local Favorites Around the World Personal Development 4 weeks: June 19, 26, July 3, 10 Tuesdays, 2-4 p.m. Stretch your comfort zone and learn about the summer white wine favorites enjoyed by locals in several wine regions worldwide. See how to make your whites taste beer and cover the secrets of pairing white wines with summer dishes. Don’t be surprised if a few winemakers join us via Skype. You’ll try about six new whites at each class. Course fee: $50 for wine and food, payable to instructor at the first session. 

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Smockshop Wine Tasting

News Release: Wednesday, March 28th, 2018
About: Wine tasting with Winemaker for Hiyu and Smockshop

On Tuesday, April 10th, from 5 to 6:30, Winemaker, Nate Ready, a Master Sommelier, will pour and discuss his well received, limited production wines @MetroWines. 

A very thoughtful and environmentally aware wine maker, Nate Ready operates a polyculture farm and uses biodynamic and organic practices in his production.
Wines "on the taste" and "on the house" include Hiyu Falcon Box, Arco Iris, Smock Shop Pinot Noir and Smock Shop Columbia Valley Red. 
“When I have Hiyu/Smock Shop wines, I am struck by the sense of place, complexity, and thoughtfulness which they embody," says Charlie Stanley of Rise Over Run, Distributor for the wines. "Master Sommelier and winemaker Nate Ready’s wines harken to  historical classics of Burgundy and the Rhone Valley, while they are firmly rooted in American expression existing at the intersection of natures agricultural beauty and human ingenuity.”

Smockshop says: "Smockshop is an exploration of the Columbia Gorge by the team at Hiyu Wine Farm. The Gorge contains a diverse range of landscapes within a small area. It was this multitude of potential terroirs that drew us to the Gorge. We've been working on developing relationships with growers and landowners who share our vision of farming. We now lease and farm twenty acres of land outside of Hiyu and purchase fruit from an additional few more. All of the vineyards are farmed naturally and allow us access to the full spectrum of possible flavors from high altitude, cool climate sites on the western end of the Gorge to the more Mediterranean, dessert influenced sites to the east."

Read more about Smockshop here:

Contact for MetroWines: Gina Trippi
Charlotte Street! It's the Next BIG Thing!
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
"Big Shop Selection. Small Shop Service"
Shop:  828-575-9525
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Asheville Wine Focus Group

The Asheville School of Wine presents The Asheville Wine Focus Group the first Wednesday of every month. Check out the winners of the tasting this month:

Bryan Hendershot of Mims stepped out of the wine comfort zone presenting lesser known varietals or varietals done in a different style than is standard operating for a crowd. It worked.
The Group really liked all four wines for various reasons. When making decisions, in addition to versatility and being well crafted, price to quality ratio is also a consideration.
The Pala Cannonau from Sardegna was a less fruity more structured version than you generally encounter. The Group determined that this wine needs food and as we discovered a little air. After we tasted all four wines, we came back around to the Cannonau and those that were not fans on the first taste, appreciated the wine with the changes the air brought. Bryan explained that different wines call for different amounts of air and temperature.
And the Remo Farina Ripasso! We really liked the fact that this bottle was not heavy on the raisin taste. Some of the Group said they have hesitated to try Ripasso and certainly Amarone because the raisin taste smothers the bottle and not in a good way. If you like Amarone and find it out of your price range, Bryan suggested a Ripasso as an alternative. This full bodied, full flavored bottle at $23 is well worth it.
And now the winners!
Copertino is a blend of 95% Negroamaro and 5% Malvasia. This is where price to quality ratio was a factor. It is very unusual to find a bottle of wine that CAN be aged, that HAS been aged and successfully aged for 10 years for only $16.99.
The wine is rustic yet soft with flavors of black berries and earth. A robust wine, Copertino is always aged 2 years  prior to release becoming refined and elegant with the aging. Serve at 65 degrees. Copertino has the WOW factor. You can enjoy this wine by the glass at Nightbell and Cucina 24 in Asheville.
Terlano Muller Thurgau was a close second. Muller Thurgau IS the varietal. You can see how it might have suffered securing placement in the American market. The German grape Blaufrankish is called Franconia in Italy. Same taste on the palate but easier on the ear! Just a thought. Made in Northern Italy, Alto Adige, the wine is German in style.
Pale yellow in the glass with aromatic tropical fruits on the nose, the wine is medium bodied on the palate with flavors of mango and peach balanced with a crisp acidity. The Group agreed with James Suckling who awarded 91 Points! We thought this wine was perfect to enjoy without food but would make a take out bowl of fried rice from Gan Shan Station sing! And you have time. Bryan tells us that this wine could go another 10 years in the bottle.
Other wines from Mims that you may know include "Shop Favorites" such as Pentimento and the Maz Caz wines from Michele d'Aprix as well as Flor de Montgo organic Tempranillo.
Join us for Asheville Wine Focus Group on May 2nd when Derek Rubio of Skyland Distributing will be our host.
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Women Winemakers Dinner


WOW! What a night. Good wine. Great menu. Excellent pairings. And Juniper Cooper of Mutual Distribution took us through the amazing world of women winemakers! The menu was set but at the last minute, we decided to step outside the wine box and called an audible.
First, we served Beef Carpaccio with Soave. Oh yes, we did! From Sauvia, the Soave is made by a family of four women. Founded in the 1600s, the family started exporting in the 1800s to Spain and England. The emphasis today is on sustainability and the women are pioneering the biodynamic movement in wine.
We shook up it up again and paired the Priorat with tuna and avocado with sesame and ginger dressing. GR-174 2015, a blend of Garnacha, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan, Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet Franc, the wine is made by Anna Gallisa. 
First established as a priory in the 1500s by a group of friars seeking to be closer to God, this high point was called "Scala Dei." The priory kept copious records. The methods and blends are historically accurate. The wine is balanced, structured and offers up black fruit on the nose and palate. Juniper Cooper says the wine is "a big bang for the buck" and is "approachable yet complex."
Pork Belly was paired with, although they said it couldn't be done! Napa Valley!  Made wine by Sarah Fuller, Piccolo Red is a Bordeaux blend. Starting her career scrubbing the floors, Sarah Fuller carries credentials and clout including stints at Quintessa and Estancia in South America. Her focus is on sustainable farming.
Vanilla Sky partnered up with Signature Rose, a blend of Malbec and Pinot Noir, from Susana Balbo made in the UCO Valley, Mendoza. Born in the 1950s in Argentina, Susana was encouraged by her parents to study nuclear physics. Fun as it was!!, Susana finally said NO to physics and yes to wine. She also started down the winding wine road scrubbing barrels. Susana was the first woman winemaker in Argentina and is still considered one of the best.
Juniper described this rose as "manifesting spring!" But even more than that, what we found was that the wine had a cameleon like quality. The wine works with flavors, adjusting where necessary, without losing it's character or strength. Here again, we went off campus. The dessert was sweet, no question, and some might have thought a dry rose would clash, but no, cameleon! The inclsuion of 40% Pinot Noir provided enough fruit to partner.

Subscribe to our Sunday Email or follow our online calendar for news of dinners and wine pairing events.

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Comings and goings

Brechat ram mt hermon

     It's been quiet in here as of late, hasn't it? For good reason, I promise. The end of February and most of March have been very busy for us at Metro Wines. 

     One of our favorite winemakers, Michele D'Aprix, was here not very long ago. Michele is the only American woman wine maker in Bordeaux! And she was actually here IN our store! Not Skype, or Facebook Live, but in the very flesh, enchanting us with stories about life in Bordeaux, and how she comes up with names for her wines. We had a significant turnout that evening, and I'm sure many of you had the pleasure of meeting Michele.

     We also had a fantastic tasting featuring the wines of Donkey & Goat. Based in California, they take a very holistic, "hands off" approach to wine making: natural, sustainable, and biodynamic practices at the vineyard; in the cellar, they don't add or take anything from the wine, and they ever only use minimal effective sulphur. They don't stabilize, fine, or filter their wines at bottling. The result is a world of flavors that you don't usually get from these varietals, with a fantastic texture to boot. And, from what I hear, no donkies, nor goats, are ever harmed in the making of the wine.

     I had the pleasure of being invited to the Beth HaTephila Congregation to do a presentation on Kosher wines. This was a great learning opportunity for me. Admittedly, I fell under the umbrella of everyone who believed that all Kosher wines are boiled, and of poor quality, because I was told that long ago, and never questioned it. It was eye-opening, as well as pleasantly surprising to find out that, while some Kosher wines are pasteurized, most are not, and as far as quality goes, there's no difference between a Kosher wine and its conventional counterpart. Chateau Valandraud double magnum, you say? $3,000 at auction. Quality, pedigree, and the history are there to rival the most legendary wines on earth. By the way, that's a picture of the Golan Heights at the top of this post. 

     We have also been making our Auction winners very happy with their tastings. Among the themes for these tastings are "Fun, but not weird," "Wine for Bourbon drinkers," and "Greek wines you've never heard of, or heard of but haven't tried." Retsina, anyone? 

    These are but a few of the activities that have kept me away from the keyboard here at Metro. While things don't seem to be slowing down (which is a good thing), I will try to keep the updates more consistently frequent.  Until next time.


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