Wine We Drink: Chinese Rice Wine (Jiu)

Despite 2000 years of struggle to unify the country's various peoples -- from Emperor Qin's forming of the Dynastic period to Mao's forcing of the Cultural Revolution -- there still is great division on one of the most important topics -- wine. Ordering a glass of wine in this country is akin to Russian roulette with a .45 pointed at your taste buds. Depending on what region you are visiting and the ethnicity of the server you are ordering from you might get variations from a clear moonshine-like liquor to a cloyingly sweet grape-based wine beverage.

Wine We Drink: Thirty Bench – 2007 Beamsville Bench Red

We lazily made our way towards the quaint Niagara-on-the-Lake stopping to take in a taste of the local grape in an area just south of the lake and west of the St. Catharines referred to as the Niagara Escarpment. This area has shale and limestone cliffs from the glacial movements that provide good drainage for the rain and melting snow and allows the roots of the vines to grow deep. Over 40 wineries have cropped up over the years further establishing the Niagara Peninsula as a strong appellation and the jewel in the VQA crown.

Wine We Drink: Shinn Estate Vineyards – Six Barrels Reserve Merlot 2002

I think this bottle is from one of our first visits to Shinn in Mattituck on the North Fork of Long Island. We were lucky enough to arrive on a slow day and Barbara walked with just Liz and me out into the vineyard to chat about the types of grapes planted and planned and the biodynamic grape farming processes they employ (She does this as a paid tour now and so worth it)