Award-winning wine columnist Dan Berger has been writing his nationally syndicated column since 1979 and continues to be one of the most outspoken and informative people writing about this subject can be very to understand.

One day in June 2007, a dozen winery representatives, regional marketing organizations, and an attorney gathered for a private luncheon at Chateau Ste. Michelle in Woodinville, Washington.

The small room at the Francis Ford Coppola Winery in Geyserville last Friday provided a respite from a cold rain that forced four dozen folks to huddle up against a wine bar and jostle for sips of four dozen wines they all had brought to share.

Of all the French wine regions that are widely considered iconic, perhaps the least acclaimed is the southern French district known as the Rhône Valley.

Four decades ago, wine collectors had to wait four years after a vintage to get the best Napa Cabernet Sauvignons, mainly because the wines were loaded with astringent tannins that needed softening by time.

The conventional wisdom says top Cabernet Sauvignons should be aged at least a decade to deliver some of the sublime, mature elements that only bottle-aging can offer.

Do you love Cabernet, but know nothing about Chenin Blanc? Or have an abiding interest in rich Chardonnay, but have no clue about 20-year-old Australian Semillons?

Most blended red wines vary radically from one to another. Most winemakers try to hit a particular style of wine that sells — and the current mode of the day for reds is big and bold, with lots of fruit intensity.

Wine has been compared to alchemy since it is the result of a transmogrification of humble grape juice that, chrysalis-like, elevates a mundane liquid into a sublime elixir. It is a synthesis of science, agriculture, and artistry.

As a wine-producing nation with widely divergent soils and climates, the United States has adopted literally dozens of grape varieties from other countries (mainly Europe) to make into wine.

As we enter the fall and winter feast season, with Thanksgiving, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, New Years parties, and the Super Bowl ahead of us, thoughts turn to foods and the wines that (we hope) go with them.

Thirty-odd years ago, I was dining with good friend, who also was an East Coast wine merchant. An hour earlier, he had spent an outrageous sum on a case of a famous wine at an auction.

I’ve preached for years that too many restaurants serve red wines too warm — even ritzy joints that have trained wine waiters. Many of them ought to trade in their tastevins for dunce caps.

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Ask a wine lover which is better: a Chardonnay that’s only 75 percent varietal plus 25 percent French Colombard or a wine that’s 100 percent Chardonnay. Before you get an answer, you’ll likely get a question back: “Where was the fruit grown?”

The host of a wine/food radio show was concluding an hour-long interview. With five minutes left, he asked me: “If you were stranded on a desert island and had only one varietal wine to drink, what grape would it be made from?”

UKIAH —For at least four decades, Mendocino County has shown great potential to be California’s third most important wine region after Napa and Sonoma.

In the 39 years I have written a weekly wine column, the two most frequently asked questions I get, and the most difficult to answer, are:

Those seeking alternative red wines might be intrigued by the latest efforts from the world of Petite Sirah – especially since it has improved so much in the last decade.

About 20 years ago, I was a judge at the Virginia Governor’s Cup wine competition, where, after two decades of slow improvement, many of the wines were dramatically better than they had been.

To some people, wine is a destination, a place to experience multitudes of exotic taste treats, an elixir, a hedonistic beverage that makes food taste better and acts as a social lubricant.

If you regularly order wine when dining out, what follows may not seem particularly egregious. But each frustrating episode happened to me in the four decades of writing about wine.

As hot an item as it is nationally, dry rosés wines were, not long ago, a pariah few winemakers would even admit to knowing.

The first hint I had that some California white wines could age came in 1986 when I was cleaning out my “wine cellar” — an old walk-in dairy refrigerator that kept all my wines very cool year-round.

HEALDSBURG — As much justified acclaim as the Napa Valley has received in the last 30 years for the greatness of its Cabernet Sauvignons, so has Sonoma County gained similar praise for the excellence of its Pinot Noirs in the last 20… albeit with a more limited audience and a lot more recently.

My first recollection of tasting a Chilean wine is from the early 1980s. It was a Cabernet Sauvignon and it was surprisingly characterful.

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Mendocino County in the 1950s was known mainly for its forests, tiny population, and diverse agricultural crops including hops, pears, prunes, and marijuana.

In just over a week, wine lovers will have a chance to experience one of the two major categories of great wines — a category often overlooked by most wine consumers.

Henry Fonda personified the youthful Tom Joad in the 1940 movie version of Steinbeck’s “Grapes of Wrath,” notably in his poignant soliloquy with Jane Darwell.