As a wine aficionado, you love to discover the wine world’s hidden jewels. You wouldn’t be caught dead bringing a bottle of Yellow Tail to a dinner party, and you always avoid white zinfandel. Even so, you may not be as knowledgeable as you’d like. You may think you can choose a pretty good bottle of wine — especially if you’re cheating by grabbing the first bottle with a scored shelf tag — but you can always stand to learn a little more about the beverage you love.
Of course, you know who Robert Parker is. In fact, you may be sipping your way through the “Wine Enthusiast” Top 100 of 2013, the best wines of 2013 as chosen by Parker and his proteges. However, Parker isn’t the only person who knows a thing or two about wine, and he’s certainly not going to win you bonus points for obscurity. If you want to spiff up your wine credentials and dig deeper into this fascinating subject, start by following these five wine experts you may not have heard of before.
Paul Lukacs: History of Wine
Paul Lukacs is the author of the book “Inventing Wine: A New History of One of the World’s Most Ancient Pleasures.” You’ll learn the 8,000-year-old beverage was the primary thirst-quencher of the ancient world. In an era when the water was polluted and almost undrinkable, people quaffed wine from morning to night. They mixed wine with water for two reasons: to disinfect the water and to keep themselves from getting falling down drunk before breakfast.
By day, Lukacs is an English professor at Loyola University of Maryland and the director of the university’s Center for Humanities. By night, he’s a James Beard, IACP and Cliquot Award-winning author who has written about the history and cultural context of wine for at least two decades. You can find him on Twitter @PaulLukacs, and you can also read his column.
Pascaline Lepeltier: Natural and Organic Wines
Pascaline Lepeltier works as beverage director at Rouge Tomate in New York City, but she’s a native of the Loire Valley and a champion of vin naturel, which is organic, natural or biodynamic wine made without yeast, additives and chemical fertilizers. Lepeltier argues drinking wine made by conventional means is predictable, and it yields few surprises from bottle to bottle or from vintage to vintage.
Alternatively, naturally made wine is more rewarding in the same way handmade clothes are more e notrewarding than ready-to-wear clothing. The producer invests more in the creation of the wine, and the consumer gets a truly unique product. If you’re interested in natural winemaking, follow Lepeltier @plepeltier, and visit Rouge Tomate next time you’re in New York.
Bryan Garcia: Unicorn Wines
Bryan Garcia sells wine for Grand Cru Selections, a distributor that primarily services New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Before that, he worked for Gary Vaynerchuk, who was known as “America’s Wine Guy.” Garcia works to find one-of-a-kind wines and presents those wines through his social channels. If nothing thrills you more than giving obscure bottles of wine to your host, then you must follow Bryan Garcia on Twitter @corkhoarder. You can also follow Garcia on Delectable by downloading the iOS app and opening an account.
Mike Steinberger: Wine Scandals
Mike Steinberger, aka “The Wine Diarist,” is a former wine columnist for “Slate” who has written extensively about wine counterfeiting. For example, he covered the Kurniawan counterfeiting scandal in which 35-year-old Indonesian collector Rudy Kurniawan was arrested by the FBI after selling millions of dollars worth of fake rare Burgundy and Bordeaux. He also wrote about the Royal Wine Merchants scandal involving Christie’s auction house and billionaire Bill Koch. Steinberger is a James Beard Award winner, and he blogs at WineDiarist.com.
Jason: Affordable Wine
Jason is a guy who doesn’t share his last name, and he blogs about the affordable wines he discovers, mostly at Trader Joe’s. If you’re looking for a good bottle of wine under $10, then you should check out Jason’s Wine Blog and stock up on the vintages he labels “Bulk Buy.” You can also bank on the “Wow!” rating and on Jason’s admonition to “Cellar It.”