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Paul's Picks: Five NZ Wines to Drink in SF

Paul Einbund is the wine director of the Slanted Door restaurant group. He's also worked as the sommelier at Frances, Coi and more. Look for him here every Tuesday. Follow him on Twitter @pauleinbund.

I was recently in Denver for an immersion class in the wines of New Zealand. The wineries had initially gotten together to send a group of sommeliers to New Zealand for the weekend, but when that didn't work out, they decided to bring New Zealand to us—in Denver! The obvious choice. What I learned on this trip is that the people are great, the food and music are fun and that the wines can be very good but still have a long way to go. Kiwi invasion you ask? Don't trade in your Burgundies just yet, but the winemakers of New Zealand are working hard to make some good stuff. 

Here are the wines that I think are great right now.

Kumeu River Chardonnay 2007 ($20) is one of the first great wines from New Zealand.  This wine is like white Burgundy but softer and ready to drink on release.

The Big Chill: 7 Refreshing Wines Under $15

Indian summer demands refreshing wines that are easy on both the wallet and the palate. For this: seven keepers, $15 and under.

Outside Lands Lineup: Forget the Bands, What About the Food?

This weekend's Outside Lands lineup has suffered mixed reviews, many bemoaning the lack of standout headliners. Um, obviously they didn't take a look at the list of food vendors. Serious SF food star power! Let's Be Frank, Namu, Yats, Pica Pica Maize Kitchen! But since the festival is all about the, uh, the music, we decided to pair food and bands for the ultimate GG Park experience. Here's what we really think would bring out the flavors this weekend's musical acts.

Madeira: A 4th of July Wine Thomas Jefferson Would Approve Of

'm always asked what wine I'd bring to a desert island and I always answer the same way: Madeira. It might even be my death row wine.

Madeira is one of the greatest wines in the world and rarely gets any respect. Most think (wrongly) that Madeira is a very sweet wine. Even the sweetest versions have really high acidity so they come off less sweet than other fortified wines.

It's an extremely opportune time to pay homage to my desert island wine because of its ties to the 4th of July. Thomas Jefferson (a serious oenophile) was a huge fan and the founding fathers toasted with a bottle after they signed a little thing called The Declaration of Indepedence back in 1776.

Wine Debate: Corks v. Screw Caps

Recently I held a tasting of Ribera del Duero wines at a retail store. I really enjoy getting the chance to directly connect with the public—it brings me back to reality.

Why Do SF Sommeliers Snub California Wine?

One night last fall at a wine dinner at Chez Panisse, Alice Waters got up to address the dining room and made a surprising confession. “Shame on me,” she said, “for paying so little attention to California wine. I had no idea what was going on underneath my nose all this time. And to think that it was through my daughter, Fannie, that I discovered something so important around me.”

How a Football Game Can Be Corked

It's happened too many times to remember, and the disappointment is always piercing, but you learn to move on. A bottle of wine--a special one, maybe it's very old, maybe you carried it back in your suitcase from France, maybe it's very expensive. You save it for a special occasion. You dust it off and present it to your guests. You remove the foil, savoring every moment of the process, licking your lips in anticipation. And then you pop the cork and get a whiff. Damn, it's corked. Nothing you can do about it. Have to move on.

Top Local Wine Shops' Favorite Thanksgiving Bottles

The traditional Thanksgiving meal isn't normally on the menu year-round at most homes, and picking wine to match a turkey dinner and all the trimmings can be a challenge. We spoke to employees at three local wine shops to get their opinions on wines that would pair beautifully with the holiday spread. Their picks span the globe, but all three agree: avoid wines that are heavy, rich, or tannic, and look for clean flavors and acidity to cut the heaviness of the meal.

Michael Barber, Domestic Wine Specialist, K&L Wines:

Adventures on the Wine Subway: Kermit Lynch's NY Diary

For me, as for many who are into wine, Kermit Lynch's Adventures on the Wine Route is a seminal book. Lynch, of course, is the famous Berkeley-based wine importer, merchant, and author (and recording artist).

Don't Call It Minerally: Geologists Call Bull On Terroir

Last week I talked about the wine concept of terroir in this post (noting that the wine bar of the same name is closed for a month).

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