It's been a strange stretch, with a bizarre itinerary that found me flying to Dallas and San Francisco in order to get from Washington, DC to Boston, a jaunt through Connecticut, Rhode Island, and back to Massachusetts, and -- now -- down to about sixty hours before I head to New York en route to London, Stockholm, and Copenhagen.
In the usual immersive ambiance of candlelight refracting through wine glasses as if a thousand diamonds had been scattered on the table, our friends at Joselito -- a Washington, DC restaurant that I once described as being from "a bygone world both elegant and intimate" -- recently reconnected us with the delightful wines of Bodegas Arrayán from Spain's Méntrida region.
Last weekend we made an annual pilgrimage to the actual cellar of Delaplane Cellars, an extraordinary Virginia winery that we've recommended before. There we loved -- once again -- a tasting that has become something of a ritual first day of the springtime wine tasting season for us, drawing winemaker Jim Dolphin's latest creations direct from the barrels wherein they have spent the last months aging. And so it is, in our minds at least, that the finest time of year for exploring stunning Virginia wine country is upon us. Indeed, the Commonwealth's wines are our Best of April.
Something wonderful is happening. As a new generation of oenophiles makes wine and cities -- two of the world's oldest institutions -- their own, the two are blending in both ways and places most unexpected.Wineries, wine bars, and restaurants with excellent glass and bottle lists are often reflective of the local culture surrounding them, and -- when such regions exist -- of the wine made in the countryside beyond the next mountain. I can think of few other ways to connect more deeply and learn more thoroughly about a place than to do so in the company one keeps with a glass of wine in hand.
Six weeks pass between the seventeenth of February and the thirtieth of March each year, immovable as the moon and the stars and every other rhythm of the calendar. Both days come and go, irrelevant to most, but between them an entire season for those of us making good on a promise we once made to choose happiness from sadness, hope from despair, intellectual curiosity from backwardness, the thrill of the run from the sameness of the sedentary.
We spent last week's first day of spring, whilst snow fell here at home in Virginia, contemplating which wines we'd recommend to everyone in the northern hemisphere's seasonal regions as we transition into (perhaps slightly) warmer weather. Spring and autumn are the conundrum seasons for those of us whose tastes hew fairly reliably to thirst for reds in winter and whites in summer. So in this our Best Wines of March we recommend you look into a white, a rosé, and a red that we find pretty reliable in confused temperatures.
I make no secret of my love for cities, and less secret still of my particular love for the capital of Spain. I always seem to return to the first European city with which I fell in love on a visit years ago with my grandparents. Though I've written here and there about the city before, I've recently found myself responding by email to several friends seeking advice for their time there. Thus, this Wine:Thirty Flight Guide to Madrid is born.
Eyes closed, this warm breeze is unlike any of you've ever experienced in lands where wine is made. Tropical, wrapping you up inside of that very distinct sense of what standing in the middle of the ocean feels like. It is, yet, not what truly thrills the senses here. Open your eyes to the horizon, where the bluest of skies meets the black, pockmarked, grey stoned earth as if we had colonized the moon, and this was our vineyard there.
February 18 is National Drink Wine Day, dubbed "Global Drink Wine Day" by our friend Casey at Travelling Corkscrew in Australia. Hers is branding we can get behind. We'll be drinking wine in Madrid, Spain the day of (this Sunday), and in further celebration of this as a global event, we've decided to take a look at wines from countries that are a bit off the beaten path for the typical wine drinker. Romania, Slovenia, Armenia, Bulgaria, and Croatia each get a look here.
I used to dread Philadelphia International Airport (PHL). Now it has become one of my favorite layovers on the east coast. Yes, you read that right... I am actually enjoying my connections at PHL thanks to last autumn's opening of the American Express Centurion Lounge in Terminal A. Its combination of bright modern spaces, excellent cuisine designed by local-Philadelphia award winning Israeli Chef Michael Solomonov, thoughtful wine and cocktail lists, and always warm hospitality makes it one of my favorite airport lounge experiences in the United States.
Ask anyone who has ever put proverbial pen to paper writing about wine here, and you'll be vociferously encouraged to drink more Champagne. It's celebratory, to be sure, but it's also quite well suited to adding texture before, during or after a meal, or to drink on its own. We're celebrating Wine:Thirty Flight's third Valentine's Day with our best wines of February - five bottles of Champagne to pop open with the love of your life, or whoever you find yourself sipping with this fourteenth of February.
Enter through a quietly cloistered courtyard whose cobblestones reflect the light that shines from above, through arches and columns both stately, yet sooted by time. A soft bronze glow of filament bulbs and candles gently twinkling through the phalanx of glasses and bottles cast merry shadows on the vaulted walls of a place that one might think dilapidated if you didn't know it was a wine cellar. We're inside of Vinarna Bokovka, an absolutely exquisite wine bar we discovered in the heart of Prague, capital of the Czech Republic.
"Wine is made great by its ability to expose the curious drinker to different things that he or she didn't know existed, to take us to other lands and climates, to teach us history, and to enrich our knowledge of the world." I wrote those words last April, and they are as plain a confession of my love for wine as any I can dream up nine months later. Let me tell you a story.
On the heels of our piece last month -- Like a string of Christmas lights, our top December wine recommendations are all sparkling -- we've decided to focus our monthly wine tasting on a theme with some recommendations, rather than the other way around. Our hunch is that focusing on themes will be more useful than focusing on specific bottles that may or may not be available in your local market. For January, we ask, which wines are best to drink when the weather is cold?
Earlier this week we shared our 2017 Best Nine, the nine most liked photos from @wine30flight on Instagram in 2017, but we were interested that many of our favorites weren't actually the ones that had attracted the most likes. In fact, only a single photo -- from Vinarna Bokovka wine bar in Prague -- overlapped. No matter. This #ThrowbackThursday we're sharing our picks for Best Nine. They took us to Sweden, Hungary, Czechia, Spain, Massachusetts, and Washington, DC. Each tells a different story.
We're bidding adieu to the past year with our 2017 Best Nine, that is, the nine most liked photos from @wine30flight on Instagram in 2017 (follow us!). Our Best Nine took us abroad to Portugal, Spain, Czechia, and around the United States to Massachusetts, Texas, Tennessee, and home to Arlington, Virginia. Each tells a different story in wine. Read for yourself.
We conceptualize our favorite wines in three dimensions, asking ourselves which bottles we'd characterize as having a special blend of being powerfully good, telling a richly compelling story, and transporting us (and you) to interesting places. So it is that as we look back on 2017 -- or any year -- we're thinking about our top 10 bottles a bit differently than simply making a list of the ten conventionally highest point earners we reviewed this year. Rather, we're sharing the ten bottles that most dominated our wine consciousness, that kept us talking and remembering every peculiar scent and taste, and that opened our eyes to histories and landscapes we may have not previously known.
Wine makes a great gift during the winter holidays, or for birthdays and special occasions year round. It has the advantage of being easily getable yet also encompassing a lot of diversity to satisfy the eclectic tastes of both the gift giver and recipient. But it's not as easy to give a good gift as it is to find just any bottle; too run of the mill and you come off as unthoughtful, but too exotic takes you into risky territory. These five tips will help.
Casual wine drinkers, aficionados, and beginners alike: Each month we expose you to new things, educating and diversifying your palate with a lineup of our monthly wine picks. The occasion thirsts for an all-sparkling lineup to celebrate the holidays. If you find yourself hard up for some red wine options, though, do check out last month's wine list, where we recommended three outstanding bottles to serve with your Thanksgiving, err, December holiday dinner.
Two trends are on our mind as we share our top holiday gift picks for travelers and wine lovers. First are the new airline-imposed bans on smart luggage -- suitcases featuring non-removable batteries, plugs, GPS tracking, bluetooth, or motors (yes, there is actually a motorized suitcase you can ride) -- that have us thinking "Wow, we're happy we never jumped on that bandwagon". The second is more philosophical: Travel makes me a minimalist. If I don't need it on the road, I probably don't need it at all.
One of the world's truly sublime red wines -- lighter red and dominated by notes of pepper, smoke, earth, and red stone fruit -- Cabernet Franc, a genetic parent of Cabernet Sauvignon, occupies of a place of intrigue throughout the world. It is often regarded as a blending partner to other varietals, such as in Bordeaux, where it holds esteem as one of that region's principal varietals. Meanwhile, it reigns on high in Virginia, producing some of that region's most stunning mono-varietal red wines. Today, the fourth of December, we join a growing group of winemakers, aficionados, writers, and fans in celebrating Cabernet Franc Day.
Casual wine drinkers, aficionados, and beginners alike: Each month we expose you to new things, educating and diversifying your palate with a lineup of our monthly wine picks. We're sharing some of the best we've tried in the last month so that you can seek them out and bring them to dinner this month. We're focused on wines perfect for the typical American Thanksgiving dinner this month, as we're just days away from cracking open several of these to share with our own families. Go find them yourselves, and let us know what you recommend!
Wine is always a good thing to keep on hand at your house. If you’re anything like Andrew, Meghan, and me then you probably always have a house wine on hand. You might also have some nice bottles you’d like to save for special occasions or maybe even let age for a bit. But how do you turn having a few bottles on hand into a full-blown wine collection? To answer that question, we have a few tips and tricks for starting your own collection.
Casual wine drinkers, aficionados, and beginners alike: Each month we expose you to new things, educating and diversifying your palate with a lineup of our monthly wine picks. We're sharing some of the best we've tried in the last month so that you can seek them out and bring them to dinner this month. You must forgive us from being just returned from Spain, a trip whose experience shows in our picks this month. We're changing things a bit this month, going from our usual five recommendations down to three. We want to be a bit more choosy. Cheers!
We've just time for a quick check in from Arrecife, on the island of Lanzarote in Spain's Canary Islands where we've had a remarkable string of days meeting wonderful people, sampling their unique food and wine, and drinking some of their spectacular wines.
I've been carrying around recommendations for three Ribera del Duero wines we've tried in restaurants throughout Spain over the last year. A pair of them have surfaced through other posts, but as none were part of a lineup or a winery visit, I've not had cause to share them in a lineup. Funny, though, we've seen them all again in places other than where we first tried them, and have found them all to be worthy bottles from one of our very favorite of the world's great wine regions. Give them a look.
But I'd love to hear from others: What are your favorite things to do when escaping Washington, DC? We'll say within a two to three hour drive. Wine or not. Comment, Facebook, Twitter, e-mail away!
Casual wine drinkers, aficionados, and beginners alike: Each month we expose you to new things, educating and diversifying your palate with a lineup of our monthly wine picks. We're sharing some of the best we've tried in the last month so that you can seek them out and bring them to dinner this month. It's 64 degrees Fahrenheit (that's 18 degrees to you much more worldly Celsius-loving folk) outside on Cape Cod as I write this, a far cry from the summer months that brought us but one red (a Tempranillo from Texas) out of fifteen bottles shared in our June, July, and August tastings. Yes, like Pinot Noir grown far enough north (or south) to "cross the cranberry line", our September lineup has us looking to autumn and the cooler temperatures ahead. Cheers!