Features

The Guild of Sommeliers publishes several original feature articles, discussions and in-depth reports every month on a range of wine and beverage topics. Written by the trade and for the trade, this section is public content and free to read for all.

    • 12 Jan 2017

    Fred Swan: What You Need to Know About Gin

    Juniper is the essence of gin, in both senses of the word: it is the defining feature and the primary flavoring agent. Gin has been with us for about 300 years, yet non-alcoholic beverages flavored with juniper go back thousands of years. The early use of juniper in beverages, typically in combination with other herbs, fruit, and sweeteners, had two aims. First, juniper’s strong flavor improved, or at least overshadowed...
    • 2 Jan 2017

    Richard Mendelson: Defining Napa: Shaping an Appellation

    Is there such a thing as terroir ? Professor Mark Matthews of the UC Davis Department of Viticulture and Enology says no. He argues in his new book that terroir is a myth, without any scientific basis. I have a different belief. Terroir exists, and Napa Valley is the perfect testament to its reality. I lay out the case in my new book, Appellation Napa Valley: Building and Protecting an American Treasure . I first learned...
    • 23 Dec 2016

    Eric Danch: Tokaj Part 2: Quality Over Quantity

    In the first installment , we looked at what first made Tokaj a classic wine region, why it nearly disappeared, and how it’s reemerging today in a relevant way. This article will focus on how a new generation is embracing the appellation’s history and pedigree while also improving farming and winemaking, adjusting to new wines laws, and aiming for high quality across the board. Tokaj, like the other 21 appellations...
    • 8 Dec 2016

    Eric Danch: Tokaj Part 1: Sweet Relevance

    Personally, I remember a similar situation in 1992 to 1993 when we were changing five percent of the area during the privatization. Today, we are changing eighty percent. At that time, we asked for twenty-five years of experience. Today, we have the twenty-five years of experience. Twenty-five years ago, we were only five persons working. Now we are hundreds. - Winemaker Samuel Tinon Hungarians are chronic storytellers...
    • 28 Nov 2016

    Jordan Mackay: The First Generation of American Amaro

    What is amaro? The best answer might be a paraphrase of Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart’s famous definition of pornography: you know it when you taste it. Amaro can be defined simply—it’s the Italian word for bitter (plural: amari)—but the category of bitter liqueurs it represents is vast and undefined. And it’s about to become an even bigger feature of our lives. The Birth of a Trend...
    • 19 Nov 2016

    Jane Lopes: Reconsidering Chianti Classico

    The world of wine is always in flux. A mere 60 years ago, locals in Chablis could ski down Les Clos in winter without touching a vine and Diamond Creek’s Gravelly Meadow was a barren hillside. In Tuscany, it was only 25 years ago that Poggio di Sotto produced their first wine. Changes in trends, discoveries of plots, development of new techniques, and shifts in philosophy happen all the time. As sommeliers, we have...
    • 3 Nov 2016

    Peter Weltman: The Oak Road: Understanding France’s Most Important Hardwood

    At a GuildSomm workshop at New York City’s Corkbuzz in 2013, Master Sommelier Laura Maniec led a blind tasting with seasoned and fledgling sommeliers. At one point, after pointing out our confusion of American and French oak once again, Maniec commented, “I find that sommeliers are so used to smelling ripe fruit and oak together that it is hard for them to distinguish a wine that has ripe fruit and no oak...
    • 17 Oct 2016

    Rod Phillips: The Myths of French Wine History

    Editor's note: For more on this subject, check out Rod Phillips’ new book, French Wine: A History. UC Press is graciously offering GuildSomm readers a discount. Order online using the code 16M4197 for 30% off. France occupies a special place in the world of wine. Only one wine is a household name globally, and it’s French: Champagne. There’s still a widespread belief that the best French wines...
    • 12 Oct 2016

    Guild of Sommeliers: Ampelography: The Art of Vine Identification

    By Tina Caputo Thanks to DNA testing, anyone can identify a mysterious vine simply by sending a sample off to the lab. But for Virginia-based vineyard consultant Lucie Morton, a world-renowned ampelographer, it’s still crucial to know how to distinguish vines the old-fashioned way: by sight and touch. It took Morton years to learn ampelography, a skill that few viticulturists in today’s high-tech world...
    • 4 Oct 2016

    Michael Meagher: Studying in the Margins: Pursuing the MS in Small Markets

    My path to the Master Sommelier Diploma ran through Boston. At the time, it was a nice restaurant city but a bit of a wine wilderness. People liked what they liked, but no one was too concerned about the details. When I passed the Advanced Exam, there were two other green pins in the city, and that was about it. As I started to prepare for the MS in earnest, I considered leaving my home city behind, lining up interviews...