Lives were lost. Empires were built. The new world was discovered. All for the sharp spark of taste with the power to transform mere food to cuisine. It's hard to imagine the shock and astonishment that must have accompanied some human's first bite into a dried peppercorn. The incredibly disproportionate rush of flavor contained in these crinkled, colorful motes easily arrests us, even when we know it is coming. Pepper's explosive character finds a dual analogue in wine, which both stirs us with an equally surprising kaleidoscope of flavors, and also occasionally includes notes of the pungent spice itself. The scent of pepper in wine, from faint to full frontal, can be an alluring, mysterious, exuberant or joyful, and occasionally, even overpowering.
Cruz "Andina" Malbec, Lujan de Cuyo, Mendoza, Argentina
Casa Marín "Miramar Vineyard" Syrah, Lo Abarcas, San Antonio Valley, Chile
Gabriel Meffre Reserve Cotes du Rhone Villages, Rhone Valley, France
Ridge Geyserville Red Blend, Sonoma County, California, USA
Stellekaya Winery "Orion" Cabernet Sauvignon, Stellenbosch, South Africa
Bonny Doon "Alamo Creek" Syrah, Central Coast, California, USA
Ravenswood "Big River" Zinfandel, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California, USA
Raúl Pérez "El Pecado" Mencia, Ribeira Sacra, Spain
This is part of an ongoing series of original images and prose called The Essence of Wine
A wine book like no other. Photographs, essays, and wine recommendations. 2015 Roederer Award Winner.Learn more.
Wine News: What I'm Reading the Week of 5/1/16 I'll Drink to That: Charles Philipponnat of Champagne Philipponnat Vinography Images: White Wall I'll Drink to That: Author Ian D'Agata West of West Pinot Tasting: May 19, San Francisco Wine News: What I'm Reading the Week of 4/24/16 2016 Garagiste Wine Festival: May 19, Oakland Warm Up: Tannins I'll Drink to That: Winemaker Andy Erickson Vinography Unboxed: Week of April 17, 2016
Wine Will Never Smell the Same Again: Luca Turin and the Science of Scent Forlorn Hope: The Remarkable Wines of Matthew Rorick Debating Robert Parker At His Invitation Passopisciaro Winery, Etna, Sicily: Current Releases Should We Care What Winemakers Say? The Sweet Taste of Freedom: Austria's Ruster Ausbruch Wines 2009 Burgundy Vintage According to Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Charles Banks: The New Man Behind Mayacamas Wine from the Caldera: The Incredible Viticulture of Santorini Why Community Tasting Notes Sites Will Fail Chateau Rayas and the 2012 Vintage of Chateauneuf-du-Pape A Life Indomitable: The Wines of Casal Santa Maria, Portugal Bay Area Bordeaux: Tasting Santa Cruz Mountain Cabernets Forgotten Jewels: Reviving Chile's Old Vine Carignane The First-Timer's Guide to Les Trois Glorieuses of Hospices de Beaune