Here’s a fun collection of random thoughts that have spilled out of my wine brain. They are arranged chronologically, so at the end you’ll find articles going back to the early 2000s. Feel free to comment as you wish.

All opinions and commentary are exclusively that of Twin Cities Wine Education and Jason Kallsen. Contact us with questions. All material copyright Twin Cities Wine Education LLC.

Is Minneapolis entering a Wine Renaissance? Yes!

Something is in the air. Something amazing, and it smells like wine. After over ten years of wine playing second (or third, or forth) fiddle to other beverages in terms of interest and energy at restaurants and in the general public, I’m watching something amazing happen right now. Before I

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Beware The Wine Assumption

As Benny Hill famously pointed out, when you assume you can make an ass out of u and me. Wine assumptions are especially dangerous, for you’re holding a closed and sealed vessel, rolling it around in your hands, looking at the label, and invoking (fake) magical powers that will tell

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Think about this: 30 years of wine history

The history of wine trends, facts, and fads is always good to keep in mind. So much has changed in the last thirty years, but unless we are confronted with the facts, we tend to forget them. Thirty years ago (1994) Twenty years ago (2004) Ten years ago (2014) Conclusion

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Jason, masked and drinking wine

Does all wine suck when you have Covid?

As I write this, it is April 26th, 2022, day eight of my Covid journey. Right now, it’s 8:30 am. I hear Angela starting to wake up, coughing and hacking. Spencer is still out for the count, getting a good night of sleep … his recovery is going very well, but

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Remembering Alain Graillot, 1945-2022

We lost one of the greats in the wine world, a person unknown to many wine drinkers in America but hugely influential in his region (Northern Rhône) and the center of one of my favorite personal wine stories, Alain Graillot. He was 77 years old. (Here’s the Wine Spectator obit.) In

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Chicago In One Day: My 18 hour under $300 journey

I had not been on a plane since the pandemic began, so I couldn’t pass up an offer from Southwest Airlines that I learned about through Thrifty Traveler: register for the promotion, take one round trip flight this season, and earn unlimited two-for-one status for travel this January and February.

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In praise of Estelle in Saint Paul

Angela and I don’t eat out every much, which surprises a lot of people when they hear me say it. And I’m not just talking about during the pandemic (we went to one restaurant for one lunch between March 2020 and May 2021). In general, we stay in. We’re introverts

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Wines I love: Ovum Wines “Big Salt” from Oregon

The Wines I Love series at Twin Cities Wine is an easy way for me chronicle wines of distinctive personality that I seek out again and again. There is no price minimum or maximum (though I tend to hover in the $15-25 range quite a bit), and no allegiance to a specific

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Vino MELIOREM! (grab your wand)

What happens when you’re a wine lover in one of the most popular destinations in the country? As you read this, we are just landing from a glorious seven day escape to Florida.  We had never been to Florida before, much to the amazement of friends. We love the desert, and

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20 Questions, 20 Answers

Hey Jason – Do you have a favorite wine quote? I do. And it’s verbose. “We believe that authentic wine, which is the prerequisite for fine or great wine, comes out of a nexus of connections. Flavor connected to soil, forming the basis of terroir. People connected closely to the

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The final night of Toast Wine Bar

On the morning of Tuesday May 30th we got a phone call from the management of Toast Wine Bar that they would be closing after service that evening. I asked if I could announce it to the Twin Cities Wine Education fans to give them one last chance to enjoy,

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My favorite boxed wine brand (and why)

Everybody should have boxed wine in the house. Simple as that. Why? Because it represents more of what the wine world needs: casualness, unpretentiousness, and ease of service. Let’s start with ease of service: Last night I spent five minutes trying to get through a fancy bottle dipped so heavily

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Good Wine vs. Great Wine vs. Interesting Wine

“What’s your favorite wine?” It’s a common question I get, especially for some reason during haircuts. It’s an icebreaker I guess, at least for the person asking the question. Answering it … well that’s a different story. For years I’d quickly race through my mental file cabinet, only to pull

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Connecting the dots via Knudsen Vineyards

For me, this is what the wine industry is all about. Mid Summer, 1995: The Mall of America had been open for three years, and the hottest restaurant in the Mall was California Cafe. I was there waiting tables, scrapping together every bit of money I could while attending the

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Which Came First? The Wine or the Keg?

The ultimate marker of Spring has occurred in the Twin Cities and thousands of people, including me, are more satisfied, nourished, and relaxed as a result. Yes, the seasonal restaurant Sea Salt at Minnehaha Falls is running full speed for the season, well staffed and ready to make people like

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The Future of Wine? Or Just Welcome To Wine?

On the marketing side of the wine/beer/spirits world, everybody is tripping over themselves to understand the Millennial generation. This wave of population is quickly becoming a force in terms of sales and category growth, and they are driving the bus when it comes to craft beer success (one study found that over 60%

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You Have the Permission of the Wine Gods

You have permission from the wine gods, whoever they are, to enjoy your wine life more than you are now. Here’s the list. Cue up Rocky Balboa’s theme and read on. You have permission to not like the wine that everybody else likes. Wine isn’t a popularity contest. It’s not about following

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The Pandora’s Box of Cool Climate Grapes

I didn’t know I was opening a pandora’s box. Last week’s newsletter essay (if you don’t get them, please sign up) was about the upcoming Cold Climate Grape conference, and how I was encouraging everybody to consider going to the grand tasting on Friday 2/11 to learn more about the new

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The Boys of Bedrock Wine Company Visit the Twin Cities

There’s a mischievous side of me that loves when people from warmer climates arrive in Minnesota smack dab in the middle of a deep freeze. You know the feeling: it gives us a one up. “Not that bad. Didn’t you see those joggers running around in short sleeves?” All the while they

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A Basic Cheat Sheet For Ordering Wine At a Restaurant

After a recent wine class, a student named Alyssa shared an exciting story. She was out for dinner with her boss, and her boss’ boss, and (you guessed it) the boss’ boss’ boss. It was a French-fusion-meets-steakhouse restaurant in Chicago with a pretty extensive wine program including two full time

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A Corked Bottle of Wine: What It Is and What To Do

A question that comes up regularly during the Ultimate Intro to Wine classes is that of ‘corked’ bottles of wine: what’s it all about, how do you identify a corked bottle, and most importantly: what do you do if you experience one (at a restaurant or at home)? These are important

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Gratitude for a great 2014

This is always a reflective time of year for me, for getting the books closed on another year with my little wine education business involves a hefty amount of going through paperwork, which means looking at lists of wines we’ve enjoyed and names of students that attended. It’s a slow

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A few stories from Portugal

Some Stories from Portugal And the winners of the social media contest *** Many thanks to those that followed my journey in Portugal by liking, commenting, sharing, and retweeting the updates that came through via #douro14. I promised each action would put you in the hat for free tickets to

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Ordering wine at a restaurant: a modern cheat sheet

It used to be so easy. White wine with fish, red wine with meat. Yes, I’ll have a glass of Merlot and she’ll have a glass of Chardonnay. Oh, a bottle? I’ll have that tried and true name from Napa Valley that my parents enjoyed as well. Today’s wine reality

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An open letter to Minnesota wine retailers

Hello my retailer friends. You are the ones that find great wines for me, and the ones that enthusiastically greet me when I walk in the door. You are the ones that I see come alive when a good customer arrives, and get excited when a good bottle is opened

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Judging wines at the Minnesota State Fair

The day begins early, which is almost always a glorious summer morning with birds singing and an absence of mosquitoes.  The yellow jackets have not yet found the trash cans, the animal barns smell of animals rather than their manure, the deep fried food vendor’s clothes are still tidy, and

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Sen Yai Sen Lek: pairing good Thai with wine

Last evening I sat down with the wine buyer and manager of Sen Yai Sen Lek, Nicole Pappas-Stanoch, to taste through a variety of lighter bodied red wines paired with a selection of the most popular dishes from the kitchen.  It was an eye opening evening to say the least.

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Local wine lists: Madeira at W.A. Frost

It’s fascinating to me, when asking people what their favorite wine lists are, how little W.A. Frost comes up. I don’t know if this is a result of the restaurant being seen as part of the ‘old guard’, or if wine people simply don’t get there as often as they

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