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WineSpeed with Karen MacNeil | Cliff Lede Vineyard

Veteran wine writer Karen MacNeil shares insights with subscribers in her weekly newsletter, WineSpeed


(Napa Valley, California) $25 (750ml)

Sancerre meets the Napa Valley. There’s no other way to describe this simple, scrumptious sauvignon blanc from Cliff Lede. It’s racy and tangy—and nicely free of the vegetative greenness that some sauvignons possess. When I drink this wine, I always think of fresh lemons with their seductive cool aroma that’s heady, and their zesty flavor that’s like a slap of snappiness. (14.4% abv)

90 points KM

Available at Cliff Lede

Why is “joe” a nickname for coffee, as in “a cup of joe”?

  • A. Originally South African (Johannesburg) slang for wine, the word joe was adopted by coffee importers who specialized in African Arabica beans in the 18th century.
  • B. Joe was the nickname given to coffee by American servicemen stationed along the Rhine in Germany (where Johannisberg riesling is made) during World War II.
  • C. Joe was a famous Italian barista from the Friuli region of Italy, noted for its wine and coffee bars.
  • D. Joe refers to a former secretary of the U.S. Navy who wanted soldiers to drink coffee instead of wine and alcohol.

Scroll down for the answer!

“Nothing makes the future look so rosy as to contemplate it through a glass of Chambertin.”

—Napoleon Bonaparte (1769 – 1821)


Vermouth is a fortified wine infused with botanicals, herbs, spices, fruits and sometimes vegetables. Among the ingredients is usually the aromatic plant wormwood (from which the word vermouth is derived). Each vermouth producer has his or her own (often secret) recipe. Either white wine or red wine can be used as the base, and the enticing flavor is often vividly bitter, sweet and savory all at once. At 16 to 19 percent alcohol (slightly higher than table wine) vermouth is usually drunk chilled as a snappy aperitif or used as a refreshing ingredient in a cocktail. (Perfect for summer in both cases!) Several large companies make serviceable commercial vermouths (Martini & Rossi; Noilly Prat). But the most delicious vermouths are hand crafted, artisanal products made by small producers in Europe and increasingly in the United States. Some favorite examples: Matthiasson and Uncouth Vermouth from the U.S.; La Copa from Spain; and Berto and Carpano Antica Formula from Italy.

From the Oh No! Files


Your Keurig machine is about to redefine the idea of a “coffee pot.” The San Diego-based company Cannabiniers has introduced Brewbudz—cannabis coffee pods (and yeah, cannabis-infused tea and cocoa pods, too). The compostable pods contain the natural flower of cannabis (not the oil), heightening the so-called “entourage effect” (the idea that the 480 or so compounds in marijuana work better and more synergistically when they exist together naturally). The company reports that the pods are an elegant solution to social situations where smoking would not be appropriate, but drinking a hot beverage would. The joe/weed pods are priced in the Starbucks sphere—$7 each.


bonbonne is a large glass jar used for storing small lots of wine. Bonbonnes—which hold 6.6 gallons—are typically used when the producer does not want the wine to be influenced by oak flavors or by oxygen.

D.Joe refers to Josephus Daniels, former secretary of the U.S. Navy under president Woodrow Wilson. During the World War I era, Daniels tried to reform the Navy morally. He increased the number of chaplains, discouraged prostitution at naval bases and, most controversially, banned the consumption of wine and alcohol, suggesting that soldiers would be better off drinking coffee instead. For soldiers, a “cup of joe” became a frequent part of daily life.


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