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April 14, 2015 0 comments Articles & Reviews, By Jonathan Cristaldi

Way, Way, Way Up: Tasting Wine with a Billionaire at 30,000 Feet

This is the story of the time I—along with a small group of the most powerful wine buyers in Las Vegas—was invited to join Terry Peabody, owner of Craggy Range winery, aboard his private jet. It was a sunny Tuesday, a week before Thanksgiving, and we were still in Las Vegas aboard Peabody’s Falcon 7X Jet on an executive tarmac around 10am. We had a reservation for lunch in Pebble Beach at noon, and later that same evening a dinner reservation back in Vegas at db Brasserie in The Venetian. This was the big idea: experience wine at different elevations with only one rule: Try not to let go of your wine glass.

That rule was truly important because the glasses were heavy crystal goblets that looked like this… keep reading on

[This article first appeared on First We Feast on March 19, 2015]

April 14, 2015 0 comments Articles & Reviews, By Jonathan Cristaldi

10 Dirty Secrets of Wine (That Nobody Wants to Talk About)

More of your friends probably drink wine more regularly than craft beer or cocktails. Yet somehow, no one seems to want to talk about Grenache as much as session IPAs or their new obsession with Boulevardiers. And therein lies wine’s greatest failing: Pretty much everyone loves it, but the beverage has become so encumbered with stigma—deserved or otherwise—that its sex appeal is suffering.

Something is rotten in the State of Vino, and it’s not just old grapes. Lurking beneath the problems consumers encounter with the wine industry (price gamesmanship, perceptions of snobbery, et al.), there are even more sinister forces at play. From in-fighting among critics and bloggers, to production shortcuts that undermine the art of winemaking, these are the things that insiders try to hide from the public so that they don’t grow even moredisillusioned with the wine world.

No more of that in 2015: It’s time to let the darker side of wine bubble over—as Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush will be reminding us soon, transparency is the only way we’re going to get the change we deserve. In the spirit of a new year, let’s get into the things wine folks really talk about when the magnums are drained and…keep reading on

[This article first appeared on First We Feast on January 15, 2015 and caused quite a stir. Even the San Francisco Chronicle wine editor, Jon Bonné shared the article with his Facebook followers, prompting heated debate, but it was too “trollish” for him, and he eventually deleted all the good comments. Not to worry… I’ve posted some screen shots below. Enjoy.]





November 21, 2014 0 comments Articles & Reviews, By Jonathan Cristaldi

The Rise (ahem) of the #SOMMBONER

Chefs experience it at the mere mention of “umami,” and bartenders get it when their barrel-aged Manhattans come out of the oak tasting rounder and fuller than any drink made à la minute. But for certain sommeliers—those stewards of coveted, high-profile wine cellars at restaurants like Bolud Sud or Rouge Tomate in NYC—it takes more than uncorking another rare wine bought at auction to elicit that vocational climax of passion and excitement. Only a truly special bottle can yank them out of auto-drive, hoist their inner freak flack to the heavens, and become a raging…keep reading.

[This article first appeared on First We Feast on October 7, 2014]


November 7, 2013 0 comments Articles & Reviews, By Jonathan Cristaldi

Wine Upgrades for People Who Drink Yellow Tail, Carlo Rossi and More…

Wine Upgrades

You were young, once. Now, you live on your own and don the same awful white socks dad wore to all those family reunions and little league games—the ones that made you scoff and turn away in embarrassment. In youth, socks seemed so important. As an adult—meh.

Well, here’s a news flash: (read more) by Jonathan Cristaldi via @FirstWeFeast

September 14, 2013 0 comments Articles & Reviews, By Jonathan Cristaldi

The Future of the 100-Point Wine System

100 points


The 100-point scale has dominated the critical discussion of wine since it was first popularized by Robert M. Parker Jr.’s Wine Advocate in the 1970s. Previously, UC-Davis, the premier school in the United States for wine education and research, had previously introduced a 20-point scale, which was also used in Britain. But Parker saw that a system… [read more on]

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