Team Wino

Happy Thanksgiving—What are You Drinking?

It's time to give thanks. For friends. For family. For a nice, creamy Chardonnay.

I get a lot of questions before Thanksgiving about what to pair with the turkey dinner and the rule of thumb, as always, is Drink what you like. Seriously.

For me, Thanksgiving starts at my sister's house, helping prepare the bird, which we typically baste with a cheap Chardonnay (and, later in the cook time, some Grand Marnier). The rule of thumb? One for the bird, one for the cook. 

This year, we'll break out some bubbles (Gloria Ferrer Carneros Cuvee) during the day. With dinner? A lot of people will go with a white wine with their turkey, but we like to red with supper, which is always on the savory side. That usually means Pinot Noir for us on Thanksgiving, but this year we're going to go bigger with a 2011 Chateau Montelena Zinfandel. 

We won't be sharing that one with the bird.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Book Tour: On Wine Gods and Topless Pickup Trucks

Today's stop on the Sotto Voce Virtual Book Tour is the All I Want and More book blog, where I got a chance to talk about wine, mythic gods and the inspiration of a certain pickup truck. Be sure to drop in at the blog for your chance to win a Sotto Voce multi-format eBook or a $25 Barnes & Noble gift card.


On Wine and Mythology in Sotto Voce, Or Why Dionysus Is the Hot God of Wine

When I first started writing Sotto Voce, it was inspired by two things: a hot guy in a topless pickup truck and the Greek and Roman gods of wine. Oddly, the two converged.

Long before I had even outlined the book, I had written a short story in a fan community about a wine critic who decided to crash a secret harvest celebration by winemakers, a bacchanalia. According to legend, bacchanalia were Roman festivals of Bacchus, the god of wine, freedom, intoxication and ecstasy. They were based on the Greek Dionysia—festivals honoring the Greek god of wine Dionysus and celebrating the harvest—and were held in strict privacy, and initiates were bound to secrecy. What little is known of the Bacchanalia is often depicted as torrid, debauched, drunken rites.

In this story, the wine critic is spotted by a toga’d winemaker playing Bacchus for the secret party—a hot, toga’d winemaker playing Bacchus.

And that’s where, I realized later, the wheels fell off the story. Because Bacchus, as a Sonoma winemaker once told me, is “not the guy you want to be. Bacchus is old, and the mileage is showing. He’s let himself go. Dionysus is young and hot.”

Technically, many will argue that they are one and the same, that Bacchus is the Roman name for the Greek God of the grape harvest, Dionysus. I think the better interpretation is that Bacchus is Dionysus after 50 years of hard partying.

Before (Dionysus):



After: (Bacchus):

Source: Wine Appellation America

That’s right. Every time you see depictions of that cherubic, balding guy hoisting a glass of wine, you’re celebrating the wrong God of Wine. It’s young, hot Dionysus you should be celebrating.

I got a chance to remedy that in Sotto Voce, to briefly revisit that moment when the lovers, Greg and Tom, attend a private bacchanalia party to celebrate the end of the harvest in Napa and Sonoma. This time, the winemaker Greg turns down the opportunity to play Bacchus.

“I would have liked to have seen you in a toga,” Tom, the wine critic, tells him. “But I think you’re more of a Dionysus.”

And as for the guy in the topless pickup truck? What’s his role in all of this?

Well, the mystery man in the International Scout—who I don’t know, but occasionally see around the neighborhood—is the original visual inspiration for Greg Kennedy.

His code name?


Sonoma Wines at the LA County Fair


Despite living a short hop away, it's been years since I've been to the LA County Fair. What a delight when a friend took note of a class being offered in the wine pavillion on Sonoma County Wines. How fast can I say, "Yes!"?

This was a terrific, informative and best of all inexpensive class with a great range of wines: sparkling, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet, a Cab Blend and a robust Zinfandel, plus cheeses. Taught by's Wilfred Wong and Sally Mohr, the second American woman to earn the title Mast Sommelier, the class was fun, down-to-earth and PACKED. And I may have to go to their next class, when they're going to pair wine with fairgrouind foods. 

What a great time! Thanks, Stacey!