Every industry has a host of talking heads. In a world as large as wine, there’s more than the usual amount of jabber, some worth your time, a lot of it not so much.
Anybody can sit in front of a screen or recording device and spill some words as they down some wine — the virtual happy hour has taught us as much. Sometimes, though, you need something a little more informed and driven by some kind of narrative. Here are a few wine-themed podcasts worth checking out.
The Grape Nation
The product of the Heritage Radio Network, this podcast is all about the interviewee. The host, Sam Benrubi, is kind of sleepy on the ears, but his guests are fascinating and represent wine regions, families, and growers all over the globe. Most vintners enter the field in a captivating way, whether it be through Old World family practice or a specific wine that stopped them in their tracks and caused a career shift. This podcast touches on a lot of those interesting back stories, as well as scores of wine personalities from authors to critics to editors.
GuildSomm is home to some of the best and most comprehensive wine content out there. The podcast is no different, echoing the organization’s infectious curiosity and sharp palate. It’s a bit more sophisticated, but far from too over-the-top to be of interest to even the novice. GuildSomm has always been seeking out creative facets of the larger wine animal, along with some of its leading voices. Better still, it’s routinely well-researched and almost always leaves the listener with some cool knew factoids. The range of intriguing topics stretches from running a vineyard and creating an American Viticultural Area to making sake and the proper way to conduct a blind tasting.
Technically a food podcast, The Stew drifts into wine territory pretty often. It does so directly with interviews with the likes of Jon Bonné and also, beneath the surface, with pairing suggestions and occasional wine knowledge dropped by inventive chefs. It comes off pretty unrehearsed and convivial, like a good barstool conversation. There’s ample swearing, funny small talk, and some great tidbits about wine and the larger galaxy of international food. If you enjoy the stories and insights your foodie and restaurant friends like to share over a handful of drinks (fit with the requisite amount of pointing fun at consumers), this series is very much for you.
I’ll Drink to That
By podcast standards, I’ll Drink to That is practically a dinosaur. The ongoing series is fast approaching 500 episodes, ranging in topics from wine bottle closure varieties to making wine on the Greek Island of Crete. Host Levi Dalton comes from a distinguished background on the floor, working the wine lists at restaurants like Masa and Daniel. As such, he knows that selling a good wine most often involves a good story. And those stories go beyond just the bottle, touching on sibling things like geology, wine writing, sommelier training, stylistic choices in the cellar, and the neverending lore of classic regions like Burgundy.
In the end, wine is just food, ripe for parody or in this case, connections to Star Wars. This podcast is nice and casual, with four intrepid hosts tackling various wine varieties while sipping from their home base in Madison, Wisconsin. It’s a meandering show, sometimes fleeing the subject of wine for long stretches. But that’s also why it’s refreshing, bringing wine down to earth a bit and finding any excuse possible to drop a Wookie or Jedi reference. Wine Wars is a tasty mashup of wine culture and pop culture, with occasional shoutouts to the relatively unknown Wisconsin wine scene.
New Zealand Wine Podcast
The New Zealand accent is reason enough to check out this podcast. It’s a cheery look at the homegrown wine scene, focused on winemakers and their craft. The podcast is a great way to find a new favorite and faraway producer from one of the best wine-producing nations on the planet, renowned for much more than just outstanding Sauvignon Blanc. The mind of the winemaker is a constantly turning one and this podcast reveals that, through colorful and often impassioned commentary from those in the game who know the subject best.
Another Heritage Radio Network joint, this podcast is headed by wine author and Bon Appétit wine editor Marissa Ross. It’s self-described as a podcast about Kanye, Rick & Morty, and wine. She focuses on natural wine (hence the name) and does so while entertainingly taking on related subjects like glassware or dry farming. It’s not always safe for work, but it does find humor and the cool factor in all things wine. Like good tasting-room bartenders, Marissa and cohost Vourvoulis are extremely conversational and oscillate nicely between basic subject matter and geeking out about niche stuff.
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