About Matt.mmwine

Sommelier, wine writer, and overall Motor Mouth, I appear on various TV shows, host local wine events, and write about wine, food, cocktails, family & more!
Website: http://agoodtimewithwine.com
Matt.mmwine has written 199 articles so far, you can find them below.

About Matt.mmwine

Sommelier, wine writer, and overall Motor Mouth, I appear on various TV shows, host local wine events, and write about wine, food, cocktails, family & more!

Find more about me on:

Here are my most recent posts

All Wine and no Scotch Makes Matt A Dull boy

Battlehill Scotch at Total Wine

Battlehill Scotch at Total Wine

I absolutely love wine. It’s my passion. I enjoy talking about it, I enjoy drinking it, I love sharing it with friends. There’s very little about wine I don’t like, other than the fact that the bottles always end up empty.  However, I’m not a one dimensional man! I have other needs, and one of those needs is scotch. And on November 30th, I’m going to satisfy that need, and you can join me.

I’ve had the opportunity to host a number of wine tweetups, and some fantastic friends have joined me. During a few of them, several of us arrived early, to sip on and share our love for scotch. That spawned the idea of having a scotch tweetup, and while everyone was in agreement, we could never find the time or place to host it. However, a fantastic partnership with Greg Tuttle, Manager of Product Education for Total Wine, has given us a venue and a date to bring scotch lovers together to learn and taste four blended and for single malt scotch.

Our first South Florida #Scotchup will take place in Boynton Beach, Florida. We have space for 20 or so Scotch lovers to get together, learn about and sample the eight different scotch offerings, and of course, tweet about it. If you’re in the area, join us for a good time with .. scotch .. on November 30th from 6:30 to 8:30pm at Total Wine! Salute!

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What do you want?

What do you want?

What do you want?

Writing doesn’t come easy for most people. I’m sure you can recall dreading writing for your English class as a student, and sympathize with your children as they go through the same thing now. I, on the other hand, love to write, and have thoughts and stories swirling around my head 24/7. Sadly, I rarely find the time to get them down on paper (or a computer screen). I started blogging to get the voices in my head on paper a few years ago, but even that has gone by the way side lately.  However, I’m about to change all that.

I started my wine blog with the intention of making wine fun and approachable. All too often people are intimidated by wine snobs or overwhelmed by choices, and either skip the vino all together, or pick the well marketed or popular wine by default.  Somewhere along the way, I veered from that, allowing the wine geek in me to take over, and sometimes delving too deep into topics of biodynamics or terroir that perhaps most of you don’t care much about.  Again, I’m about to change all of that.

I would like to know what you’d like to read about.  I plan on continuing my “reviews” and recommendations of wines, whether for meals or sipping on with friends, or even Thanksgiving recommendations.  I also continue working with friends and chefs, to prepare meals, pair with wine, and explain both processes.  However, what would you like to see? Should I try exotic grapes and discuss them and wines made by them? Should I focus on specific wine producing areas? Perhaps a wine tasting trip around France, then Italy, and focus a few months worth of posts on each area?  Or something completely off the wall, which you’ve always wanted to see done, but no one had the nerve to do it?

Leave a comment, or connect with me via twitter or facebook.  I have, sadly, closed my mmwine twitter account, but you can find me there as mmwine2 – new and improved, upgraded so to speak. I already have a few items in the hopper, including a review of a compact wine cooler, but really, what do you want?

Featured Wine Blogger on Foodista

Food and Wine Pairing

Food and Wine Pairing

I was fortunate enough to be selected as the featured wine blog on Foodista.com recently. Since food and wine go together very well, I thought this was quite a good pairing. What I hope comes from this opportunity is more people sending me recipes that I can make, pair with wine, and post on my site. So, if you have a favorite recipe, email it to matt @ mmwine.me.  I’ll create the recipe, pair it with wine, and blog about it!

Foodista Featured Wine Blog of the Day Badge

Are box wines really that bad?

Monthaven Winery Chardonnay Boxed Wine

Monthaven Winery Chardonnay Boxed Wine

Years of poor quality wine in cardboard boxes have made even the most frugal wine shopper pass them by. However, recent quality improvements as well as a focus on “greener” delivery methods have brought the box back to bearable. With Memorial Day just a few weeks away, in the short video below, I bring four options to CBS12 and chat with Kara Kostanich about them.

What’s good about boxed wine?

  • Boxed wines are affordable. They typically come in boxes that hold three liters, or the equivalent of four regular 750 ml bottles of wine.  You usually pay 1/2 to 2/3 price of the four bottles.
  • Box wines last longer after opening. Boxed wines typically last about four to six weeks after opening, allowing you to not worry about spoilage if you are just pouring one glass from a bottle.
  • Box wines are more eco-friendly. The packaging for boxed wines is not only cheaper than the packaging for the equivalent four bottles, it’s also lighter. That allows delivery to be more “green”, using less carbon emissions to transport them.

What’s Bad About Boxed Wine

  • The quality is still low. While the wines I brought to the show are fine for drinking, they won’t win any awards.  They are definitely steps in the right direction, but for me, they’ll be relegated for big parties where the budget is the focus.
  • They have a shorter shelf life than bottles. Talking with a number of retailers, they all agree that boxes don’t last more than six months. The new Octavin wines, such as the Monthaven in the video, say they last over a year. I’ve not put that to the test, yet.
  • They are a bit more difficult to keep at serving temperature. The producers of Monthaven say the reds should be served at 57 degrees, the whites about 50. That means having them outside in the summer time requires some thought as to how you’ll keep them cool. Ice may cause the cardboard to soften and break, and you’ll have basically a plastic bag in the ice chest.

In the video I talk about

  • How to store boxed wine
  • How to serve boxed wine
  • A bit about how the wines taste
  • The prices of the box wines we tried

My next post will talk about each of the wines in a little more detail. Be sure to come back and see what I have to say about the Double Dog Dare and Monthaven box wines, which were purchased from Total Wine and More here in Florida..

Biodynamic wine and witch doctors

Shona witch doctor Zimbabwe

Shona witch doctor Zimbabwe

When I wrote about wines that were organic, sustainable or biodynamic, I made the mistake of mentioning Voodoo and Witchcraft. After my post was read by Elizabeth Candelario, Marketing Director for Demeter USA, I’ve come to see I’m only perpetuating the wrong image of biodyanmic grape growing. It’s time to change that! Elizabeth took the time to write me a letter that puts the right focus on Biodynamic farming and grape growing. It helps point to not just the astronomical influences on the farming, but also the homeopathic influences.

Read with great interest (and watched too!) your coverage of Biodynamic in a recent post on your website.  I am a really big fan of Montinore so I appreciated your mention of them as well.  For the record, if you don’t mind my making a few comments…

Vooddo!  Witchcraft!!  What the heck!!!  Your description of Biodynamic practices was terrific: no chemicals, view of the farm as a living organism, holistic natural approach, use of the preparations.  Thanks for that!  But I always have a hard time understanding how we can move from sound agronomy to adjectives like voodoo and witchcraft!

Anyway- if you are interested- check out our website where you will find lots of materials, and also the Demeter Farm Standard itself.  The important thing to remember is that the term BIODYNAMIC is held as a certification mark by Demeter in the commercial marketplace relative to agriculturally-based products and farms.  In order for a farm or product to refer to itself as BIODYNAMIC it must meet the Demeter Farm and Processing Standards and be verified though certification.

In a nutshell then the term BIODYNAMIC = The Demeter Standards.   There is mention of astronomical influences as one consideration within an extensive farming system.  The preparations are also an important part- but think homeopathic remedies- and there is some science pointing to increased microbial activity in soils that have been treated with the preps- not to mention a lot of antidotal support.   There is no mention of spiritual forces per se, although many Biodynamic practitioners will share that as part of their own personal observation.   Most importantly of all- the Farm Standard is composed of all of the other practices you described.

And the Farm Standard is historically significant because it dates back to the beginning of the sustainable agriculture movement and captures key agronomic principles not comprehensively addressed within any other agriculture certification system in the world.  It seeks to create a farm system that is minimally dependant on imported materials, instead meeting its needs from the living dynamics of the farm itself.  It is the biodiversity of the farm, organized so that the waste of one part of the farm becomes the energy for another, that results in an increase in the farm’s capacity for self-renewal and ultimately makes the farm sustainable.  Sections of the Farm Standard include soil fertility management, crop protection, greenhouse management, animal welfare, and the use of the preparations.  It’s actually a beautiful document that would align with any sustainable farmer’s understanding of good agriculture.

Anyway- hope you don’t mind my long winded note.  Just trying very hard to get away from the more sensational things being written and spoken about Biodynamic agriculture as I feel it actually isn’t accurate.  Sure do appreciate you and the work you are doing to educate wine drinkers.  Please do consider me a resource.

Warm Regards,

Elizabeth Candelario

Marketing Director, Demeter USA

Board Chair, Stellar Organic Certification Services

www.demeter-usa.org

My response to this well written, and educational, email was:

Thank you so much for taking the time to write me. I appreciate it, sincerely. I would actually like to take your email and post it on my blog – as I think you covered some very interesting and important points.  I assure you that while my descriptors may have come across as derogatory, there were never intended to be.

During September 2009 I visited two biodynamic vineyards in CA. Both of them were very passionate about what they did, and how they were stewards of the land.  However, both of them used the terms Voodo and Witchcraft, tongue in cheek, when discussing some of the practices. I think it was their way of bridging the gap between their audiences ignorance and their heartfelt beliefs and practices of biodynamic farming.  I also think that they were able to leave a lasting impression when doing so.

While it may not be wholly accurate to use the term Voodoo when discussing Biodynamic preparation 500, it definitely made an impression on us. It was perhaps a bit outlandish, and inaccurate, of course, but it helped me remember what they do, and why they do it. I do agree, however, that we have a responsibility to help educate people accurately, and that is why I’d like to post your letter on my blog. I believe it’ll help people searching for information become more educated in terms of biodynamic farming. I found the subject of biodynamic, as well as sustainable and organic farming quite interesting. However, the average attention span of visitors to our websites lately have declined. I therefore had to take a tremendous amount of information, cut it down, and hope I didn’t leave out the good stuff.  My intention was always to go back, revisit each of the three classifications or methods of farming, and hopefully engage people on them individually. This may be a great way to do so.

Thank you again!

So, as you can see, I posted the letter. The question I have for you, is what questions do you have for me? Let me know your thoughts on Biodynamic farming, grape growing, and wines. How can I help you understand what’s in your glass?

A Toast – To Barbara

A Card For Barbara

A Card For Barbara

When I joined twitter in March 2008, I never thought I’d write a blog. When I started blogging in May 2008, I never thought I’d live video stream wine tastings for hundreds of people to join and share my passion. When I started Live video streaming tastings in September 2008, I never thought I’d be on television one or two times a month in 100 markets nation wide. And when I filmed my first television segment in May 2009, I never though I’d have a fan, especially one like Barbara Northrup.

I will never forget the day Michele Northrup sent the tweet that her mom saw me on Daytime, and said she was my biggest fan. I nearly cried, thinking that someone not only saw me on television, but would consider themselves a fan. I love what I get to do on TV, whether on Daytime, on CBS12, or any of the other stations I’ve appeared on in the past year. I want to help everyone feel more comfortable about selecting wines, and it’s just plain fun. When I later learned that Barbara, Michele’s mom, was dealing with Cancer – her being a fan became even more special.

Cancer sucks, and I know all too many people who are dealing with it. Some are survivors multiple times, like Alicia, others are battling it their first time and are going to beat it! My little niece, who’s four, has Leukemia, and it reminds me all the time that, well, Cancer sucks. However, this post is about Barbara. See, the other day Michele sent me a tweet saying thoughts and prayers were needed for my biggest fan in Tampa, and my heart about stopped.

Barbara is fighting hard, but the chemo is wearing her down. She’s feeling a little out of sorts, not herself. My mind raced for what to do, and the quickest thing that came to mind was sending her a card. So, Michele gave me her address, and I sent her a card letting her know I’m thinking about her. I signed it Matthew Horbund, Wine Guy from Daytime. I don’t really refer to myself as that, but I hope it helps Barbara feel a little better. I dropped it in the mail this morning, and I hope she gets to read it tomorrow. I won’t be in Tampa until June or July, but I plan on seeing Barbara then, and giving her a huge hug. I can’t wait to meet my biggest fan.

What does this post have to do with wine? Everything. If it wasn’t for wine, I wouldn’t have met some of the most amazing people in this world. I wouldn’t have been given the chance to be on television, and I wouldn’t be sitting here, crying, thinking about my biggest fan, Barbara. Tonight I’ll open a bottle or three of wine, as my sister is visiting us from DC. And each cork that pops, I’ll be thinking about you, Barbara! I’m your biggest fan!

WBW68 Domaine Ruet Chiroubles – Cru Beaujolais

Domaine Ruet Chiroubles - Cru Beaujolais

Domaine Ruet Chiroubles - Cru Beaujolais

I had mixed emotions when I saw Frank from Drink What You Like announce that Wine Blogging Wednesday 68′s topic would be “Got Gamay”! While I am a huge fan of Wine Blogging Wednesday, an idea started in 2004 by Lenn Thompson from New York Cork Report to help bring wine bloggers together on one united topic monthly, Gamay really is not my favorite grape. However, I approached the topic from an educational standpoint, hoping to help at least one person understand not only what wines Gamay will produce, but help them identify where it can come from and what to expect. To do so, I popped open a bottle of Cru Beaujolais from Domaine Ruet ($17), and did this short wine tasting and discussion.

As I pointed out in my Gamay discussion, the grape is most commonly recognized when it comes from Beaujolais, an AOC or appellation in France. There are several different areas within Beaujolais that produce wines of varying quality. The first level,  Beaujolais, produces the most Gamay wine, most which is bottled as Beaujolais Nouveau. Beaujolais Nouveau is that marketing ploy developed in the 1980s, where young Gamay is bottled and distributed quickly as a light, overy fruity, almost fake wine. I’ve not tried the past three vintage of BN, and really don’t feel like I’m missing out. Beaujolais usually cost around $12. That brings us to the second tier of vineyards, or Beaujolais-Villages. That isn’t pronunced Village like like Village People. It’s Vih-lah-zges, Anyway, these wines are still light and fruity, but typically a tad more intense and structured. You can find these for about $15. Finally,  the third and highest tier of Beaujolais, Cru Beaujolais, which may cost around $17.

Cru Beaujolais, which is made up of 10 distinct areas as discussed in that other post, and produces a but more refined and intense wine. While Beaujolais is is typically consumed within the year after bottling, and Beaujolais-Villages perhaps within 2 years, Cru Beaujolais often needs a year of aging to be approachable, and can age for 5 to 10 years, depending on the vintage. That brings us to the topic of the post, the Cru Beaujolais from Domaine Ruet – Chiroubles.

The video above touches on the 84 year old Ruet Family estate, which is located on the remarkable terroir of Voujoin in Cercie-en-Beaujolais, at the foot of Mount Brouilly. They produce wines from 6 of the 12 Beaojolais appellations, Brouilly, Morgon, Côte de Brouilly, Régnié,Beaujolais and Beaujolais Villages. I’ll leave you to the short video for tasting notes on the wine. I will say two followup comments – it was very nice with the roast chicken, though I found it a tad more dry and tannic than I expected. Finally, it opened up nicely over night, showing a bit more cherry on the nose, and on the palate. I would probably grab another bottle of this and give it a bit to decant, and see how it compares to the pop-and-pour I did in the video.

In retrospect, I owe Frank a big thank you for his Wine Blogging Wednesday 68 topic. While I am not much fonder of Gamay, I enjoyed reviewing, discussing, and trying this wine. It’s piqued my curiosity to try their other Cru’s, and perhaps a few other Beaujolais in comparison. It’s been quite a while, perhaps two years, since I seriously considered Gamay.  Well done Frank!

Wine 101 – Introduction to Gamay

Gamay Grapes

Gamay Grapes

The Gamay grape has a history dating back to approximately 1360, and it is thought to have first appeared in the Village of Gamay, it’s namesake. It’s nearly synonymous with Beaujolais, the AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) in which it is most abundantly produced. What does all that mean? Well, The short two minute video here tries to explain a little bit about the grape, the styles of wine you can expect from Gamay grapes, and the main geography it is produced in.

There are several regions, or appellations, of Beaujolais, and each produces a different style and quality of wine made from Gamay grapes. The Beaujolais AOC is considered the first quality tier, and is likely what you think of when you have Beaujolais Nouveau each November. Beaujolais wines are meant to drink soon after bottling, and are typically fruit forward and easy drinking. They also, perhaps, have a bad reputation of being too simple and barely a step up from sweetened fruit juice. While masterful marketing in the 1980s has made Beaujolais Nouveau a wine people anticipate each year, it has also perhaps hurt the reputation of a grape that could produce great wines.

The next step up in quality is Beaujolais-Villages (Vill-ah-zche). While the wines produced here are also meant to be consumed young, like Beaujolais, they typically have lower yields, or smaller crops, which in turn produce more intense grapes and a smaller amount of more intense wines. There is not, typically, a tremendous price difference between wines from Beaujolais vineyards versus Beaujolais-Villages, and trying wines from each area will help understand the differences and similarities.

Finally, there are the ten Cru Beaujolais regions, each with it’s own characteristics that are imparted upon the wine, and can be broken into three categories. The Cru’s that make the lightest style of wine includes Brouilly, the largest Cru, Regnie, which was upgraded from a Beajolais-Villages are in 1988, and Chiroubles. The Cru Beaujolais producing medium bodied wine, which some experts recommend at least a year of bottle aging before approaching, include Cote de Brouilly, Fleuire, and Saint-Amour. Finally, the four Cru’s that typically produce the fullest bodied wines are Chenas, Juliénas, Morgon, and Moulin-a-Vent.It’s difficult to summarize each of the Cru’s, so I’ll expand on them in future posts.

Now you have an opportunity to add your thoughts! While I mentioned cheeses like Munster, Emmental, and Brie, as well as chicken or turkey, I barely covered foods that pair well with Gamay, or Beaujolais. What are some of your favorite food and Gamay wine pairings? After watching the video and reading the post, leave a comment below. I’m curious your take on Gamay, Beaujolais, and related topics.