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.

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Twenty-odd years ago, in a small café in western Milan, I asked a waiter for the wine list. He simply said, “Non carte di vini, solo rosso e bianco,” and on speaking that last word, he winced and slowly shook his head.

Nineteenth century French poet/novelist Henri Murger is one of the first to have said something like, “The main responsibility of a wine is to be red.”

What we all now call “a bottle of wine” may soon differ from what it has been for decades, and that could create confusion for how wine buyers will someday purchase wine.

Decades ago, soon after the 100-point scoring scheme became a popular way to evaluate wine, a glossy wine magazine awarded a 100-point score to an exalted First Growth Bordeaux.

Three decades ago, at the Napa Valley wine auction, two giants of the Southern California retail wine trade became locked in a battle to acquire a large bottle of a Chappellet Cabernet.

One of the realities of having Cabernet Sauvignon as the focal point of a winery is the simple fact that the wine, by the very nature of the grape, is loaded with tannin, which some people can’t abide.

Chardonnay was clearly the American wine sweepstakes winner in the 30 years following its ascendancy about 1975.

Maybe it was best that several members of a wine tasting society to which I belonged 40 years ago razzed me for liking what they called “old Chenin Blanc.”

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Jean-Charles Boisset is one of the most passionate of wine lovers, a man who reveres the concept embedded in terroir – the French belief that the locale of a vineyard produces wines that are unique from other areas.

This wine column began national syndication in March 1979, and even before I had made nickel on it, I faced a serious dilemma: should I spend $25 on a bottle of a Cabernet Sauvignon?

Lovers of California red wines are facing a crisis of confidence that few acknowledge — but that’s mainly because most U.S. wine buyers are unaware the problem even exists.

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.

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