Episode 7: The Trader Joe’s Episode

Hello amateur winos,

As promised, here’s an episode aimed at protecting your pocketbook – a trip down the aisles of that budget wine juggernaut, Trader Joe’s. Join me for part one of my TJ’s extravaganza, as I review two heralded value wines that have been lauded for their QPR, as well as a few insights about best serving temperatures and food pairing. Click here to see it!

The Amateur Wino Episode 7 The Trader Joe’s Episode from Amateur Wino on Vimeo.

In this episode, we taste-test a few wines from Trader Joe’s, and pass along tips about optimal serving temperature for wine. See which budget-friendly wines are worth the tariff!

Wines reviewed:

2007 Charles Shaw Chardonnay
2006 Cambria Julia’s Vineyard Pinot Noir (update: this was Wine Enthusiast’s #1 Wine of the Year for 2009 – see our own taste test)

Tune in for a future episode when I review more wines from my TJ’s shopping trip!

Episode 6: Quintessa winemaker Charles Thomas

Hello everyone, here is the newest episode – I really had fun talking with Charles Thomas of Quintessa – a super nice guy who’s been winemaker at top-notch places like Robert Mondavi, Rudd, Cardinale, and now Quintessa.

The Amateur Wino Episode 6: Quintessa winemaker Charles Thomas from Amateur Wino on Vimeo.

In episode 6 of The Amateur Wino, we sat down for a talk with Charles Thomas, winemaker at Quintessa. He tells us about two of his wines, Illumination sauvignon blanc, and Faust cabernet sauvignon. I also review the wines, share a few tips about when to choose half-bottles over full bottles, and pass along a few Father’s Day gift ideas.

Also, tune in to a future episode to see the rest of our talk with Charles Thomas, when we talk about his icon wine, Quintessa.

Wines reviewed:

2007 Illumination sauvignon blanc  Find it!

2005 Faust cabernet sauvignon  Find it!

For more information, you can check out:



Camera:  Plee / Alan
Inset photo:  www.illuminationwine.com
Special thanks to Charles Thomas and Pamela Caye of Quintessa, and David Kravitz of Rue 57 for all of their kindness and assistance.

Episode 5: QPR Cabernet Showdown

Hello Amateur Winos,

Here’s a recession-friendly episode – a review of some budget-priced cabs, and I think one of them is a STEAL.  Check it out, and let me know if you’ve had other contenders!

The Amateur Wino Episode 5 QPR Cabernet Showdown from Amateur Wino on Vimeo.

In Episode 5 of The Amateur Wino, we profile two budget-priced cabernet sauvignons and pick one as our QPR (quality-to-price ratio) champion. Wines profiled are:

2005 Heller Estate Cachagua Cabernet Sauvignon (Carmel Valley)

2006 Louis M. Martini Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon

Made it! Murphy-Goode Top 50

Hello all you amateur winos out there! Today I have some good news – I was selected as one of the top 50 contestants still in the hunt for the wine country dream job – so thanks to all of you who watched my video and voted for me.  I couldn’t have done it without you! UPDATE: they’ve decided not to have voting for this phase of the competition after all, so no need to vote! Thank you all for your support!

I’ve got regular episodes of The Amateur Wino in the pipeline to appear soon (including “The Trader Joe’s Episode” and an interview with Viu Manent’s winemaker Grant Phelps), but for today, here’s a tiny bonus – this is a higher quality version of the video that got me into the top 50.  It has better resolution, and the audio that was hard to hear at the end has been fixed.  So if you missed some of it before, catch it in (relative) clarity here. Cheers and thanks for your support!  -Alan

Murphy Goode video Official One Minute version – selected for Top 50! from Amateur Wino on Vimeo.

Here’s my video for the Murphy-Goode wine country dream job, which has now been selected for the top 50. They announce the top 10 on July 7th. In the meanwhile, to see my regular vlog about wine, go to www.amateurwino.com

Bonus episode: Murphy Goode application video Extended Cut “The Wine Series of Poker”

Hi everyone, here’s a bit of humor for you – I did my application for the Murphy Goode wine country dream job as a spoof episode of those televised poker shows.  Why poker?  Because the folks at Murphy Goode are fans of poker, and on any given night, my wife Plee and I are usually having some kind of poker showdown.  I noticed a lot of the Murphy Goode application videos are just people talking about themselves endlessly (which feels like sitting through a boring interview), so I wanted to do something that actually entertained, and told a story, even if you’ve only got one minute.  Because all of the social networking in the world doesn’t matter if there isn’t entertaining content to bring people back, right?  Most of all, we wanted to have fun, and pretending to be poker pros for a night definitely counted.

The actual Murphy Goode video is limited to one minute and can be seen by clicking this link.  IMPORTANT:  if you like it, please VOTE for me on the Murphy Goode site! (this includes entering your email address and then confirming when you receive an email from Murphy-Goode)  Then come back here to watch the two minute “director’s cut” below.

The Amateur Wino bonus episode Murphy Goode application Extended Cut “The Wine Series of Poker” from Amateur Wino on Vimeo.

Here’s a two minute extended version of the video for my application for the Murphy Goode wine country dream job, done as a spoof of televised poker shows. You can see more about it at www.amateurwino.com.


A HUGE thanks and hugs and kisses to Plee, for being my lead actress, co-director of photography, costume designer, and all-around cheerleader.

Awesome showdown guitar music:  Michael Patterson

Totally sweet Amateur Wino logo:  Jennifer Guo

Special thanks to Eric Choi and Renee Youm for letting us shoot at their apartment!

Written, directed and edited (plus a little slide guitar for the spoofy poker music guitar riff) by Alan

New Facebook page; updates

Hi everyone,

Sorry that it’s been a few weeks since I’ve gotten a new episode up – it’s been a busy few weeks for my film projects and personally as well.  The good news is that I’ve been quietly working on a lot of content so you should see a slew of new episodes in the coming weeks.  One fun thing to look for is a new short video that will serve as my job application for the Murphy-Goode wine country dream job – I’ve been thinking about adding more offbeat, humorous and personal content to the series and this was the perfect chance to start that off. Should be up in the next few days, together with the Quintessa and cab franc episodes, all to come this week or next.

In the meanwhile, please keep watching the twitter feed (either thru Twitter or on the left side of this page) for more daily tasting notes – I’ve been attending many tastings lately that will power the content in future episodes. Also, I had been posting on Facebook about The Amateur Wino from my personal account until now, but I’ve just started a page for the series itself so please become a fan here to help us get the ball rolling – extra pictures and other content will follow on the Facebook page soon! Cheers! -Alan