GDP on Wine

Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz

Where did you start?

Posted by Gregory Dal Piaz, Jun 15, 2010.

So we're all here and we see that many of us got bitten by the sweet white wine bug, only to move on?


My wine life begn  ightIalandne, ent through almost everything else, ends with medium to light Italian red wines, only to start the circuit again, yes my tastes change, evolve and vary!


So where did you start, where are you, where do you want to go!


take it away....

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Reply by dmcker, Jun 15, 2010.

"My wine life begn  ightIalandne, ent through almost everything else..."

OK, Greg, is this a book code, do I need a decoder ring, or...? ;-)

Reply by Degrandcru, Jun 24, 2010.

Actually a very interesting threat, so even I don´t have the decoder I´d like to go on with this:


Growing up in Germany my family always was drinking wine and I started early mostly with the typical light reds of South Germany (Trollinger, Lemberger) and slightly sweet whites (Mueller-Thurgau, Sylvaner, Kerner). At this time I wasn´t paying much attention to what I was drinking, was either red or white. In my late teens, early twenties Italians became fashionable, mostly cheap Chiantis or Lambruscos.


During university I moved to Spain where I discovered Sherry and my first serious reds (Tempranillos). Got some knowledge about Sherry and drank a lot of Tempranillos (Riojas, Ribera de Duero) without really knowing much about them. With food I mostly just went with the house wines wherever I was eating.

Even later:

Moved to the US and traveled Napa and Sonoma. Got into american Cabs for a while and for the first time in my life tried to really get some knowledge about wine. Started to read up, go to tastings etc.


Live in Mexico now and due to availability and preferences am back to Spanish wines. Also got into Mexican wine, which I blame my wife for. Now being more selective and knowing more about what I am actually drinking. Food matching also became more important.

Where to go:

Everywhere and anywhere. Exploring more French and Italian wines and whatever else comes along.

So where I was living always had a big influence on what I was drinking (no, I am not planning to move to France or Italy any time soon).




Reply by StevenBabb, Jun 25, 2010.

@D....HAHAHAHA a decoder ring....hahahhaha

where i started......

my grandmother is basque, and if i was a good kid, with good grades, i could have a half glass of table wine during dinner at her house at 13.... it helped that i was an angel when i was young, and the oldest grandson.....

after that, in high school, i was drinking a lot of woodbridge by mondavi... cab, chard... i worked at the napa airport in those days, and we used to give that stuff away to some pilots and visitors to the valley... while working there i got to know a lot of prominate peole in the valley.... and they like to tip us hard workers (i was by far the youngest) with bottles of wine.... trefethen... rombouer... silver oak... far niente... i was drinking some good stuff with out really knowing it.... it was through connections at the air port that i got to try some screaming eagle when i was 18.... wish i knew then what i know now...

hows the saying go, LIFE IS WASTED ON THE YOUTH.....

started bartending at 21.... our wine list was put together by a former french laundry alum.... started actually tasting wine for what it was... but i didn't start taking wine seriously till about a year and a half ago when i started studying for my somm certs....

now my tastes are all over the map......

Reply by napagirl68, Sep 2, 2010.

Uggh..  morphed over from beer/mixed drinks to white zin ($%^$).  Then onto very buttery malo chards.. Then to zins for about a year or so.  Then very disciplined to CA balanced chards and stags leap cabs.

THEN onto cali rhone varietals.. grenache, mourvedre, cinsault, some syrahs,  and more whites.. viognier

Then back to cabs, but a bit more interesting... howell mtn and lots of napa cab francs, as well as some Santa Cruz mtns.

Then BIG into RRV/sonoma minerally chards.. stilll like these.

Now onto other whites... sauv blanc... love Mantanzas creek, some livermore sauv blancs...  Torrontes!!!  fragrant and dry.. love it.  Viognier if done right, OMG like manna!

Also back into Rhones, Red and white, but more seriously so.   I am not drinking to much Cab lately.. just as food pairing.  Give me viognier, grenache, mourvedre, cinsault, syrah, petit syrah..

Also drinking CA (amador/shenandoah valley) barbera and Sangio.. in appropriate settings..   Also like Aglianico (from Lodi, CA).   

Liking Sonoma coastal Pinot Noirs vs. any other area now, and I used to favor Willamette Valley in Oregon.

Who knows what tomorrow brings???

Reply by Stephen Harvey, Sep 2, 2010.

Like most I started with Beer [which I still love a cold beer, particularly from the tap an a very hot day]

Wine journey started as a 13yo, Mum worked at a local Hotel as a food waitress, I got a vacation job stacking shelves in the bottleshop, so got to know about beer wine and spirit.

I worked in pubs/bars/bottleshops part time through high school and Uni and managed a local pub with bottleshop before starting my accounting career.

Most of my early  wines were sweet whites [cheap sweet whites - yuk]

Probably got interested in mid 80's going out to dinner with the partners I worked for [they could afford something better than my miserable salary].

My taste very early was Aussie [virtually nothing else here except for Mateus Rose which was a big seller in the late 70's early 80's]

Style was definitely Riesling and Shiraz and Shiraz blends and Aussie fortifieds

Did not change much until early 90's when Chardonnay was on the agenda and Coonawarra Cabernet.

Today, I pretty much like anything that is well made and I tend to be very electic and try anything that is on the go either Aussie or imported.

The big change recently is my conversion to Champagne and Pinot Noir as a great drinks

The future - hopefully lots of volume and variety

My motto is - Don't be a slave to popular opinion, give all wine a chance to show its form and drink what you like.  [they don't make wine from green peas!!!]

Reply by GregT, Sep 2, 2010.

While Greg DP "begn  ightIalandne, ent",  I myself grndr mit rsblyl sktc. 

However, ageataet flmnb!

And I agree it's an interesting threat.  How to combat it?

An edit function?


Mom was German.  Dad almost never drank wine.  Mom didn't drink much alcohol ever, but occasionally would like some white wine and it had to be Riesling, off dry.  I thought it was delicious because I hated Dad's brown liquors.  Then one day someone brought them a bottle of Tokaji-aszu.  Depth of the communist era, etc., but I thought it was amazing and always remembered it.

Then I met a guy who collected wine.  Thought it was a nice eccentricity.  Dated a girl and went to France, Belgium, etc, and they always served wine and I didn't much care.  A guy in Detroit opened a wine store and it made the papers because who in the world would do that and expect to survive?  Italian wines mostly and Robert Parker was buying the wines from him at retail and talking about how good these Barolos, etc., were, but at the time nobody much paid attention to him either. 

That retailer ended up prospering, and he's still in business, with a different property though.  Very nice guy who loves retailing.  Then one day I needed to find some wine for a dinner I was having.  About three months in advance, I started tasting a wine every night and writing notes to myself.  It was a bit embarrassing so I didn't tell anyone.  Had the dinner, didn't pay much attention to the wine and next day wanted a sandwich w the leftovers.  Went thru the 8 or 9 wines I had in the house mentally, thinking about how each would taste and finally settled on one.  In literally a moment I had what I considered a brilliant insight - I got it.  I didn't have the sandwich or the wine, but could imagine them since I'd built up a bit of a taste reference memory. 

Pleased with that discovery, I shouted out excitedly to my girlfriend.  She looked at me indulgently, smiled, and said "that's nice".  I was too excited to care because I figured at that point I knew everything about wine and just needed to find the best ones and buy those and this wine thing wasn't all that complicated.  That was over 20 years ago and the cellar of 8 bottles has grown into a few thousand and I ended up in the business, something I'd never have imagined.

But it's been interesting.  I grew up with plants and working in gardens and landscape operations and had a degree in biology so I was interested in learning what people had to say about grape vine growing.  Ended up going to wine regions I may never have considered visiting and have developed plenty of friends around the world.  Tomorrow I'm off to Hungary for what's actually become an annual visit to taste wines and see people and so on.  That's given me exposure to a culture and people I may never have had otherwise.

Changes over the years that I don't like however, are the increasing stratifiacation of wine drinkers/lovers/enthusiasts.  There's frequently a holier-than-thou attitude people have based on their preferences and drinking choices, and I think it's awful.  And with the growth of web sites, there's a lot of sniping and building of cliques. 

Still, wine is fun.

Cheers all.

Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Sep 2, 2010.

Yeah, so I’m not sure what happened there. Actually I am, my computer likes to spontaneously highlight passages (as well as introduce urls) into my word processing docs. It can scramble paragraphs and lead to my gibberish being indecipherable.

Sometimes I catch it, other times I don't!

My story is circular, beginning with light Italian reds that i enjoyed as a child in Italy, progressing through richer reds, adding some whites, then some sweeter whites (Germans), then returning to more delicate reds before returning to light, fresh Italian wines as my standard go to wines.

Reply by Girl Drink Drunk, Sep 2, 2010.

I grew up allergic to wine, and didn't start drinking it until I was about 25 or so.  I began with NZSB, which I still like.  From there it was the powerfully fruity Aussie Shiraz, which aren't really my cup of tea anymore.  Then onto CA Cabs/blends, which quickly bored me.

Now I mostly drink anything Italian and French with a strong sense of place.  I can't get enough minerally, acidic whites and terroir-driven reds.  Yum.

Reply by VegasOenophile, Sep 2, 2010.

I didn't really drink until somewhere between 22 and 25 and became interested in the complexity and intrigue that is wine.  For me, they usually had to be light and sweeter, as I had not acclamated to dry or tannic wines.  Liebfraumilch, riesling, (don't ban me, but) white zin, rosés and then I started into red with Beaujolais.  Then some merlots, and just kept progressing.  Pity too, as in that time a friend of a friend would always bring bottles upon bottles of Silver Oak and Opus One and I missed out as they were too big for me back then!

Reply by Girl Drink Drunk, Sep 2, 2010.

You didn't miss anything special, VO, just a large price tag.

Reply by napagirl68, Sep 3, 2010.

I agree that silver oak and opus one are overrated... a big waste of $$ IMHO.

Reply by Richard Foxall, Sep 3, 2010.

I asked my mother a few years ago if she could remember a time when I didn't like beer.  She said, "No."  This confirmed my memory as well. 

My parents, though born in Chicago, "that somber city," were European in outlook.  We had wine with Sunday dinner since I can remember--the kids included.  Since my memories of dinners start at about the time I moved to Northern California in January 1967 at age 3 1/2, that's when I started drinking wine, I guess.  We also made pizza at home and had beer with it in tiny beer steins.  (Our wine glasses were tiny cordial glasses with clipper ships etched on them.  My folks still have them. We had goblets for our milk.) My parents drank wine most nights, my dad scotch almost every night before dinner.  Back then, a fair bit of the wine was horrible jug wine--hey, Mondavi had just begun to sell wine, having started the winery in '66. Carlo Rossi, Green Hungarian, Hearty Burgundy, and Sauterne (no relation) are names I remember seeing in the kitchen.  Most of it wasn't terribly good, some was actually kind of bad, like the roses, but when we went out, my folks almost always purchased wine with dinner, and it was definitely better than what we had at home.  We toured Mondavi when friends from out of town visited, or anywhere else that had tours.  Back then, tasting was free, and my parents would let us have a sip.  Things were relaxed--if you showed up at a winery, they were happy.  If you bought a bottle or two, they were ecstatic. No one worried if the kids has a sip.

We moved to Southern California when I was 11--right after the first time I accidentally overindulged in bubbly at Christmas-- but kept roots up here, and we would come up and stay with friends who bought good wine.  When I was 14 or 15, a friend we were visiting opened a '68 BV cab that was a revelation.  (Duh, it's one of the best bottles ever produced.  Lucky me.) After that, I carried a vintage chart in my wallet--smart a$$ kid--and when we went out to dinner would often get to pick the wine, or at least advise. 

When I was 15, we moved to Boston, where the wine scene was horrible in pretty much any restaurant below Maison Robert or L'Escalier.  Crappy Soave, mediocre and overpriced French, and hardly any Californian.  My parents were kind of parochial.  (They still drink Calis and Aussies almost exclusively--not sure why the Aussies.) We bought wine when we were out here and shipped it home.  But my tastes were going towards beer.  Probably because I was close to Canada which still had bood beer, but more likely because I was a teenage boy.  Drinking age was 18 until I turned 17, but I passed easily in those days, especially on trips to NYC, where I think no one cared. At college in NY, I was always one year ahead of the ever-rising drinking age. Cheap Romanian wine was a staple at dinner on Saturday, but beer was still the big player.

At the end of college, I started drinking whisky almost exclusively at night clubs, and beer at home, now that I was back in the Bay Area and microbrew was taking off.  It took a while to get back into wine.  In the 80s, during my 20s, I drank a little of that buttery chard--Fetzer Sundial anyone? I did not drink "white Zinfandel," having been a fan of good zin since I was a teen.  Ick.  I liked sauv blanc and still do, but I have had too much disappointing chard and hardly touch it now.  A lot of the commercial reds were getting manipulated, so I pulled back from them for a while.

Then the '90 cabs were released.  They were amazing at every price point, and I got back into California reds in a huge way.  In 1994, my then-girlfriend and I started finding and buying good inexpensive pinots. "Sideways" changed all that, alas! We also "discovered" Paso Robles cabs as a cheaper alternative to Napa, thanks to Chuck, formerly at the Jug Shop in SF, now at JJ Buckley.   I decided to dig back in, and spent the next 10 or so years drinking Zin, cab, pinot, and sauv blanc from California almost exclusively.  I locked down some of the last wines under the Inglenook name from the Niebaum vineyard (Coppola's prime piece of land in Napa) at a super price and decided I needed to really know the wine I was drinking.  I made friends in the business, read, asked questions, and developed a taste vocabulary.  As a poor grad student and public interest lawyer in my early 30s, I had no money, so I had to figure out how to get good stuff at a price.  I still think I can find bottles for less than $10 that would amaze the most jaded drinker.  One exception to my love for California wine: I have always favored sparklers from Champagne--even in my 20s I would take a Mumm Cordon Rouge NV over Schramsberg. I even preferred inexpensive cava.  Roederer Estate has changed my mind somewhat, and a friend who worked for them provided the bubbly for our wedding at their cost.  Thanks, Michelle! (J did the still--thanks Dana!)

Some time ago, my #1 wine buddy pushed me to branch out.  Although I still love California wines, and can find equals to wines produced in Europe that are made here in my home state (well, not everything--unless Napagirl can direct me to a good local gruner veltliner and vinho verde), I drink from anywhere these days.  Spanish garnacha and tempranillo rocks my world, Rhones are filling up my cellar, gruners and vinho verdes spell summer... California is an amazing place, and you backlashers need to live here to understand how silly some of these arguments are--the Perrins et al are making wine here because there are so many varied climates, soil types, and such long growing seasons that you can make a great example of almost anything, with its own signature.  Just because some big name makers (GDD, napagirl and I all concur about Silver Oak and Artemis) make wines for folks who know nothing and flaunt their money doesn't mean you can ignore Ridge, Montelena, Hall, Heitz, Chappellet, and a bunch more you haven't heard of that make wines that you can actually afford and that hold their own with anyone. And no one can produce petite sirah or Zinfandel like California does.  (Apparently, the grapes found their terroir here, after producing nothing memorable in France and Italy.  Funny how that works.)  If you don't take those wines seriously, that's a loss right up there with ignoring lagrein, or albarino, or brunello.  Actually, this weekend we'll probably make osso buco and compare a California sangio made with the brunello variety against a top notch Brunello from '04.  Double blind, of course.

I still have a ton to learn, but it's going to take longer and be a lot more fun than law school.  But my motto, repeated to David Sharp at WineMine until he's sick of it, is this:

I have lived in the same house for 12 years and will probably never move.  I have a secure job I will probably never give up.  I am married to the woman I will spend the rest of my life with.  I have all the kids I am going to have.  Where else can I be promiscuous?

Reply by Richard Foxall, Sep 3, 2010.

And sorry if that was overlong.  Just taking after my father, a man of many words. 

Reply by Richard Foxall, Sep 3, 2010.

And don't misconstrue the Xmas story, it was just a wee bit of lightheadedness.  At the time, I didn't actually know what caused it.  Years later, I figured it out when I knowingly got tipsy on sparkling.

Reply by napagirl68, Sep 3, 2010.

I wanna come to dinner, Foxall!!  LOL!  you are making my FAVORITE dish!  Can't wait to hear how the wines compared.... Which CA sangio are you having???  

Reply by Richard Foxall, Sep 3, 2010.

The Cal sangio is from Two Mile, a tiny winery formerly in Berkeley, now run out of a custom crush facility.  Dry Creek grapes, if I remember exactly.  The owners have a child in my younger daughter's class, but the wines stand on their own.  I cannot for the life of me remember the name of the Italian, but it's a bigger, more masculine version--the Two Mile '07 has a lot of umami to it, and we had to make the comparison fair. There's another bottle of the Two Mile in the cellar to open in 2017 or so. We might change the menu if the weather is too hot, however.  Now if someone would give me a good idea for an appetizer and a pre-dinner wine, I would be thankful. I have a rosato I might open if the weather is warm but not insanely hot, or maybe something that goes with prosecco? It's a kind of weird time to be drinking heavy reds, but I really want to open one of the sangios.

Reply by Vinogger, Sep 3, 2010.

I like this topic very interesting! 

So I started drinking wine when I was living in Italy in college.  Then I came back to CA and began drinking CA wine but mostly italian varietals & always red.  I never did the white to red thing just went straight to red.   San gio was my favorite.   I then moved on to rhone wines gsm without a lot of syrah and then I progressed to big bold cabs and zins from CA and red bordeaux blends but I continue to drink a lot of italian wines and have also gotten into Malbec

Hmm maybe this would be a good blog....... my journey as a wine drinker I might just go with it.  I am always looking for good wine topics.  If you care to check my blog out,  it's and comments are always welcome!


Reply by lingprof, Sep 5, 2010.

I grew up with wine at the dinner table (cheap ones), offered by my Spanish mom, leaving me with a vague sense that: 1) Wine is good, and 2) Wine is red.

As an adult, I enjoyed picking random glasses of new things on restaurant menus (always red) or trying inexpensive things from the supermarket.  I knew a glass of wine made me happy, but I didn't think about it too much.

About three or four years ago, I got my first exposure to big CA reds, and that's where I first got the idea that maybe not all red wines were pretty much the same.  And I'm afraid I have... *shhhhh*... Silver Oak partially to thank for that.  So I decided to do some systematic research.

Since then it's gone like this:  Big CA reds --> CA zinfandel --> CA random others --> Bordeaux (right bank) --> OZ shiraz --> Argentina and Chile --> obscur-ish Italy (Puglia, Veneto) --> Spain??   

(interspersed with random others: WA cabs, South Africa, Rieslings, an ultimately unfulfilling search for the perfect white blend, etc.)

I've heard that as people learn more about wine they start liking whites more, but I haven't gotten there yet.  It's been damned fun, though.

Reply by Stephen Harvey, Sep 5, 2010.

Foxall - your parents have great taste, share some Aussie with them!

Reply by Richard Foxall, Sep 16, 2010.

SH, I didn't see the updates on the thread, but I will take them an Aussie Shiraz this Sunday when I see them.  They are going on a trip to Eastern Europe, so who knows what they will be drinking there. I have this fantasy about taking a year myself, once the kids are in college, and starting at Champagne and going south, all the way down to S.Africa, visiting every wine making region, then flying across to Chile and hitting South America, then flying to Australia, eventually landing back in the states at L.A., and driving north until I get to Napa.  Or maybe I will keep going until Washington state, since those Oregon Pinots are so good and there are some pretty credible wines in Washington. 

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