WineSpeed with Karen MacNeil | Lagier Meredith


(Mount Veeder, Napa Valley) $48 (750ml)

When it’s great, syrah is an explosive concatenation of flavor—worn leather, roasted game, meat juices, iron, earth, minerals, pepper and spice. I think of syrah as wine’s version of primal scream. That might not sound like anything you want in a wine glass, but trust me, you do—especially if you’re eating grilled lamb or game. Lagier Meredith makes one of the best syrahs in California. The tiny winery is owned by viticulturist Stephen Lagier and superstar scientist Dr. Carole Meredith who pioneered the use of DNA profiling to understand the origins of wine varieties. (14.5% abv)

94 points KM

Available at Lagier Meredith

What wines should be swirled in the glass before drinking them?

  • A. All wines
  • B. All wines except Champagne
  • C. All wines except Champagne and dessert wines
  • D. The only wines that really need to be swirled are powerful red wines

Scroll down for the answer!

“[Great Oregon pinot noir] … is about the complete power of gracefulness. When I’m drinking a pinot noir, I want it to taste like Grace Kelly just walked into the room.”

—Rollin Soles, Winemaker, Roco Winery, founder and former winemaker, Argyle Winery


Wine can’t. But wine grapes can. With climate change beginning to be observed in many warmer wine regions, winemakers are increasingly concerned about sunburned grapes. Like human skin, the grape skins can wrinkle, thicken and get more leathery in response to too much direct sun. When such grapes are made into wine, the wine can often have a rustic, rough feel—exactly the opposite of what most winemakers hope for. To protect grapes from too much sun, wineries often grow grapes so that the clusters are partially shaded by the vines’ leaves. It’s a tricky call, however, because too much shading could mean the grapes wouldn’t ripen properly and the resulting wine could taste like canned green beans.

From the Oh No! Files

Big Machine—the record label of superstar singers Taylor Swift and Reba McEntire—is coming out with a vodka. Tenn South Distillery will help produce the spirit which will carry the tagline “Pour It On…Turn It Up…Lean In…Or Lean Back…And Indulge.” The vodka is said to derive its superior quality thanks in part to “pure Tennessee limestone water.” Ladies, ladies. Vodka? Really? Better things are made in limestone.


Every now and then, you taste a wine that is not particularly expressive or compelling. Nonetheless and inexplicably, your intuition tells you that the wine may emerge from its dullness and with time (weeks or months) potentially become remarkable. A wine temporarily stuck in a state where it is not revealing its aromas or flavors is called closed. Interestingly, no one knows for sure if a wine that appears closed is indeed closed, or if it’s simply not very good.

A.Whites, reds, rosés, Champagnes, fortified wines, dessert wines—you name it—they should all be swirled before drinking them. Swirling aerates or “opens up” a wine by mixing the volatile (smellable) compounds in the wine with air. Wines that have been swirled smell and taste more pronounced. Admittedly, fortified wines like Port are usually swirled gently because really vigorous swirling can cause the alcohol in such wines to smell overpowering. As for Champagnes and sparkling wines, though the bubbles help by propelling the aromas upward, it’s still a good idea to swirl the wine gently. If you have room that is. Alas, in the United States, most sparkling wines and Champagnes are poured to the top of the rim of the glass, making it nearly impossible to swirl.


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