Some time ago, I wrote an article for a wine club newsletter about how our diet can affect our taste in wine. Granted, I had no scientific proof of this with a bunch of graphs and stats to support my conclusions. Heck, its common sense that the types of food you eat will make you crave different styles of wine.

Case in point. The types of wine produced by wineries in a certain part of the world will more often than not have a direct correlation to the type of food served in that region. In Tuscany for instance, they serve a lot of beef and pork. It is no surprise that both Chianti and Super Tuscans are well made for such diets. I don’t need a nerdy scientist to tell me that diet affects taste in wine.

I’ve been married three times, and in each relationship, the diet was different. Not drastically, but enough for me to ponder this very subject. In my first marriage which lasted nearly twenty years and produced four wonderful children, our diet was pretty basic. Meats, casseroles, an occasional taco salad (yuck!!)… You get the picture. Back in those days, my taste in wine was also pretty basic. Cabs, Zins, Merlots and Chardonnay. My second marriage (a mistake from the start) was to a woman who really enjoyed cooking. She didn’t just make mashed potatoes…No, they were filled with cream cheese and butter. It was no wonder I put on 15 lbs the first 6 months we were together. She also enjoyed red and cream sauces…. A lot! I found my wine taste buds shifting gears to more “Old World” style wines. Italian reds, Bordeaux, Pinot Noir both domestic and from Burgundy. It was a subtle shift in wine preferences, but I noticed it non-the-less. In my last relationship/marriage, things were entirely different. I ended up being the cook of the family. My wife could cook, but it wasn’t something that she truly enjoyed doing. What really amazed me was my tendency to experiment quite a bit with the cooking duties. I am now officially addicted to trying new food things in the kitchen.

The weird thing is that now, I think I actually cook food based on what I am craving in wine that week. When I’m craving Pinot Noir (you guessed it), salmon is on the menu. Sometimes I crave Zinfandel, and I find myself lighting up the BBQ and firing off some great BBQ chicken. Other times, it could be a smokey Syrah and chili or a hearty stew comes together. This whole diet and wine thing is a very interesting subject and certainly one that deserves more attention. I promise that in the near future I will delve more deeply into this very thing. For now, I am very curious what the future holds for my palate.

Once again, I find myself heading towards the world of singleness. It is more than likely that my fault. As I have been told on several occasions…I am a cold-hearted bastard that may never be able to have a lasting relationship. Thank God for wine! I think of all the things that have been a constant in this world….My four wonderful children and of course wine. I am very curious where my palate will go in this new environment. I will be cooking of course, but who knows how much thought I will put into it, since I am only cooking for myself. I am curious to find out wines that go with Doritos, or Tillamook sharp cheddar, or a flank steak and Caesar Salad, or popcorn. I am going to wait 6 months and once again tackle this subject with a whole new perspective. Stay tuned and find out what this major shift in my life, means for my palate.

Stan The Wine Man

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Welcome to 2016 and my first Friday’s Thirteen of the year. I am looking forward to a great year and am eager to find some awesome wines for you to try. I seriously get giddy when I find a great wine at a great price. I hope you follow along with my reviews throughout the year, and find something for you palate.

A boatload of wine

A boatload of wine

In a weeks time, I taste a boatload of wine (seriously). I lot of my friends think that I’m lucky. Well, they’re right, and I wouldn’t give this job up for the world. The only thing that makes my job hard, is my feeling of responsibility to taste the samples given to me as quickly as possible and to put my reviews either in my Moleskine, on my Youtube channel (Stan The Wine Man TV), or right here on Here for your reading pleasure, are thirteen wines that I have reviewed in my Moleskine (good or bad), this past week.

Non-Vintage New Age Tinto Dolce (Mendoza, Argentina)… $10.

Light in color with a little foam on the rim. Aromas of apples and cherries, the nose is slightly challenged. A little fizzy on the palate with notes of Cherry Bubblyum on sweet tannins. Very light in body with a clean finish. Blackberry notes sneak in on the mid-palate into the finish. A simple, clean, light red that might be nice to serve chilled. (C-/C)

2013 Gnarly Head Authentic Black (Lodi, CA)… $11.

Very intense purple/black in color. Currants, graham crackers, boysenberries, licorice and bittersweet cocoa powder. A blast of ripe fruit front to back on soft tannins. Not flabby, there is enough acid to keep it lively. Notes of boysenberries, blueberries, licorice and black raspberries. Chocolate notes lurk underneath from the front of the mid-palate to the finish with violet notes in the background. This is a fruit-bomb with a touch of makeup and a little edginess. (B-/B)

2014 Tall Sage Red (Columbia Valley, WA)… $10.

Oats and cherries on the nose joined by a dried herb component with hits of plums and chocolate. Structured cherry, vanilla, plum and chocolate notes on the palate. White pepper notes hit on the back of the mid-palate, leading into notes of bark, tobacco and cherry notes on the finish. Smooth tannins with medium to light acidity. Light bodied on the front and mid-palate then intensifies on the finish with a touch of grip. 51% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Syrah, 2% Merlot, 2% Malbec (C+/B-)

2012 Vina Peralillo “Arenal” Pinot Noir (Colchagua Valley, Chile)… $10.

Cinnamon, strawberries and cherries on the nose with hits of red licorice and a little funk. Notes of cranberries and under ripe cherries on the front of the palate with a solid hit of acidity that fades away. A tar and tobacco component front to back with a little cola coming through. A little bit of funk with cinnamon coming through on the finish. It’s slightly awkward on the palate…Acidity up front then soft on the finish. A little weird on the palate. (C+)

2012 DeLille Cellars Doyenne Aix Red (Red Mountain, WA)… $42.

This Syrah/Grenache blend displays aromas of tobacco, currants a touch of vanilla and nutmeg (slightly challenged). Chocolate, cherries, tar and smoked meat on the palate with a touch of bacon fat and spice on the back-end. Smooth and structured with interesting spice notes. Long, smokey finish. (B+/A-)

2011 Result Of A Crush Red (Walla Walla, WA)… $24.

Tar and smoked meat on the nose joined by a touch of bacon-fat, blueberries, cherries a touch of stink and tobacco. Real fleshy on the palate, with notes of blueberries, red flowers, wet stone and smoked meats. Smoked meat notes linger on the clean finish. Good structure with solid tannins, but very approachable now. (B/B+)

2012 Tabula Rasa Red (Columbia Valley, WA)… $16.

Interesting apple notes on the nose, joined by notes of currants, rose petals, violets and tobacco. Chocolate and cinnamon notes on the palate joined by hits of blackberry Laffy Taffy. Leather and mineral notes lie underneath backed by mouth-watering acidity. Very clean and bright, with enough fruit to balance it out. Bittersweet chocolate notes linger on the finish. (B)

2012 Cowhorn Vineyard and Garden Syrah (Applegate Valley, OR)… $48.

Aromas of smoked meat, red flowers, boysenberries and raspberries with a touch of tobacco. Smooth blueberry, boysenberry and raspberry notes walking on a bed of minerals and acidity. Tobacco and red flower notes join up on the bright finish. Good structure and still a baby. Will be ready in 5-8 years. (B+/A-)

2014 Savage Grace Cot (Malbec) “Dineen Vineyard” (Rattlesnake Hills, WA)… $25.

Red raspberries, tobacco and licorice on the nose with a healthy splash of earth. Loads of acidity on the palate and slightly green with notes of tomato leaf, green tea and green tobacco. Red flower notes and baked earth hit on the mid-palate with notes of lilacs all day on the finish. Good balance, a touch green with a brightness that makes the mouth water. Warning, do not attempt to drink this without some form of protein. (B)

2013 Cowhorn Vineyard and Garden Viognier (Applegate Valley, OR)… $37.

Walnuts, wool, saurkruat and pears on the nose (weird but interesting). Fairly intense notes of pears, almonds and walnuts on the palate. Gets a little creamy on the mid-palate, leading into a mineral driven finish with a touch of fig coming through. Excellent balance of minerals, fruit and acidity. Not your typical Viognier from the new world. (B/B+)

2014 Cowhorn Spiral 36 White (Applegate Valley, OR)… $30.

Aromas of banana skins, apples and ripe pears with a touch of wet stone and a hit of lemon. Apple skins, pear skins and Asian Pears on the palate. Lemon notes sneak in on the mid-palate with a little wet stone action. Good balance and a clean, delicious finish. 55% Viognier, 30% Marsanne, 15% Roussanne (B/B+)

2013 Can Blau Red (Montsant, Spain)… $15.

Boysenberry, bark, tobacco, vanilla and blueberries on the nose with a hint of huckleberry. Blueberries and currants up front with just a trace of brown sugar coming through. Good structure and nice flow across the palate on sweet tannins. Tar and tobacco notes join up on the finish with notes of chocolate lingering. It is a big wine that is tamed by the old world notes on the finish. 40% Mazuelo, 40% Syrah, 20% Garnacha (B+)

2013 Shaya Verdejo (Rueda, Spain)… $15.

Verdejo is all they do in Rueda, so they are serious about this white grape. Aromas of melon, cantalope and banana. Creamy on the palate with notes of cut grass, melon, peaches, peach pit and peach skin. Hints of banana and apple sneak in on the mid-palate and it gets a little oily component on the back end. Celery notes lie underneath front to back with an apple skin, peach skin finish. By itself, this wine takes a particular palate…Let me tell you, this is made to enjoy with food. Think roasted fowl or fish tacos… It takes on a whole new meaning. (B)

Stan The Wine Man

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I thought I would have a little fun with this segment and talk about specific grapes used to make wine. One of the things I think makes wine mysterious is the grapes that are used to make it. Let’s face it, most of us stop at Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Pinot Grigio (Gris), Pinot Noir, Riesling, Syrah and Zinfandel. After that, most of us don’t have the time to worry about all the other varieties used to make wine. There are literally hundreds of other grapes used to make wine in blends or as single varietals. When a consumer reads the label and sees Mourvedre or Monastrell on the label, they are often in the dark about what they are buying.

Mourvedre is the name of the grape used in many wines around the world. In Spain it is called Monastrell and is most likely the origin of the varietal. It is also grown in France and is a big part of Cotes-du-Rhone, Chateauneuf-du-Pape and the reds of Bandol in Provence. It is seen more and more as a single varietal in both Washington State and California. So, what should you expect when you buy a Mourvedre or in the Spanish version…Monastrell?

Mourvedre is one of my favorites both as a blending grape and single varietal. It is a grape that has both depth and complexity. Dark in color, it exhibits flavors of black and blue fruits, purple flowers, minerality and cured meats. It often will show notes of cinnamon and coffee bean with a touch of earthiness, herbs and tobacco. In the “New World” form it is close to jammy, but has enough tannins and structure to keep it in check. If you like big wines, you will love it. At the same time, if you are a Cabernet Sauvignon lover, you will more than likely enjoy Mourvedre.

In its “Old World” form, it has a depth of both fruit and minerals, with a leather, herb and earth component that is consistent producer to producer. The muscle grape of Bandol and Chateauneuf-du-Pape, it is the key ingredient in wines that will age for decades. With age, it develops into a wine with depth and personality. Out of Bandol it is quite approachable after about 6-7 years of age. Drunk young, you get a ton of earth, herbal, tobacco and mushroom notes. This is something I enjoy from time to time, and highlights the interesting qualities of this varietal.

Called Monastrell in Spain, you can get your hands on a bottle of this juice for a prayer. You can find a ton of them from the region Jumilla in south-western Spain. I would suggest you pick up a bottle of Monastrell from Spain if you want to get your feet wet with this varietal. If you want to spend a little more and get one of the more powerful versions of this grape varietal, look for Bodegas El Nido “Clio” red. This wine holds nothing back, and is not for the weak of heart. Big and bold it shows the structure and power of this amazing grape.

The next time you see Mourvedre, Monastrell or Bandol on the label, don’t hesitate to give it a try. There’s nothing mysterious about it, it’s just a really good red.

Stan The Wine Man

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2013 Paso A Paso Tempranillo (Vinos De La Tierra De Castilla, Spain)… $10.

I go to Spain often for my pick of the month, because you just can’t beat the quality-to-price ratio of the wines that come out of this country. Vinos de la Tierra De Castilla basically indicates an everyday table wine such as France’s Vin de Pays. Located within the autonomous Castile La Mancha region of Spain, just below Madrid. For a table red, this is pretty d^*n good!

2013 Paso A Paso Tempranillo

2013 Paso A Paso Tempranillo

Aromas of jammy currants and dark cherries with a touch of tobacco and bark. Dark cherry fruit on the palate, with underlying tobacco and bark notes. Nice flow across the palate with structured, smooth tannins leading the way into a finish of green tobacco, currant and dried bark notes. Very interesting Tempranillo with complexity that belies the ten-dollar price tag. (B/B+)

Distributed by Elliott Bay Distributing (Seattle, WA)

Stan The Wine Man

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