Winecast 8: Eric Renaud, Bern’s Steak House

image Eric Renaud is a breath of fresh air in the restaurant wine business. Renaud, in this late 30s, is the passionate, intelligent and customer-focused senior sommelier at the legendary Bern's Steak House in Tampa, Fla. Bern ?s is renowned for its wine list, which has 6,800 different selections and more than one-half million bottles. Frankly, if more restaurants took Renaud's approach, they'd sell more wine and make more money doing it ? and wine drinkers would be better off.

We chatted during a break in judging at the 34th annual International Eastern Wine Competition in Watkins Glen, N.Y. Renaud, as he says, is an example that anyone can learn about wine. He started at Bern's lugging cases and bringing bottles up from the cellar. This perspective has taught him to give customers what they want, and not what he wants to sell them; to help them find value on a restaurant list; and to treat wine as something to be appreciated ? and not something to be intimidated by.

The stream or download the podcast, click here. It's about 9 megabytes and 10 minutes long. You ?ll even hear some wine judging and glass tinkling going on in the background.

Winecast 7: conference podcast

Dave McIntyre and I talk about the first ever DLW conference, set for Aug. 14-15 in Dallas. It ?s nicely done ? we remembered to mention all the sponsors, Dave is funny, and we talk about why regional wine matters. The sound quality is among the best I ?ve done (stereo, even). It ?s so good, in fact, that I ?ll plug the software ? Skype using the Pamela call recorder. Though,m for some inexplicable reason, I messed up my closing.

You can download or stream the podcast here. It ?s about eight minutes long and 4.1 megabytes.

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Winecast 6: Winemaker Mike Martini

image Mike Martini is the third generation of one of the founding families of the California wine business. His grandfather, Louis M. Martini, opened one of the first wineries in Napa Valley after Prohibition, and his father, Louis P, ran the winery until 1977, when Mike became winemaker. Today, the winery, still called Louis M. Martini, is owned by Gallo but overseen by the Martini family and Mike.

We talked about growing up in the Italian-American winemaking mix in Napa Valley, who makes the best red sauce among the founding families, and we even got in a bit of wine talk. That includes solid advice on buying and drinking wine.

The Wine Curmudgeon has always enjoyed the Martini wines, which offer value and terroir. One of my first wine memories is Julia Child interviewing Louis P. on one of her TV shows, discussing how overpriced so many Napa wines were ? more than 20 years ago.

I was especially impressed with Mike ?s 2006 Alexander Valley Reserve cabernet sauvignon (about $35), which has the dusty tannins the region is known for and the right amount of dark berry fruit. It ?s a nice treat for Mother ?s or Father ?s day.

To download or stream the podcast, click here. It ?s about 8 minutes and 7 1/2 megabytes.

Winecast 5: Patty Held and regional wine

Patty Held Patty Held was working in regional wine long before most people noticed that wine existed outside of California and Europe. Her work as a winemaker (she graduated from Cal State-Fresno ?s wine program when very few women even enrolled) and as a marketer has helped Missouri become one of the country ?s top regional producers.

We talked about why regional wine doesn ?t get any respect (and what can be done to change that), the norton grape and the fine wine it makes, and specific ways that wineries and regions can work on improving their reputation. She even explains why so many regional wineries make so much sweet wine. To stream or download the podcast, click here. It ?s about 10 minutes and 9 megabyes. The quality is more or less professional, save for an odd Elvis-style reverb.

Winecast 4: James Tidwell, master sommelier

image James Tidwell, the sommelier at the Four Seasons in suburban Dallas, has become a master sommelier ? one of just 96 in North America and 167 worldwide. The honor is probably the highest that a wine person can achieve, and is incredibly difficult to do. It took James, who knows way more than I ever will, eight years of on and off work to earn the honor. And he had to start over once.

We talked this week about how difficult it is to become a master sommelier and why James did it, and he added some pointers about finding good value wines (whether in a store or in a restaurant). Click here to download or stream the podcast. It ?s about 12 minutes and 11 megabytes. This is probably the best sound quality I ?ve done yet, with very little hiss.

Wine Curmudgeon winecast 3: Winemaker Eric Cinnamon

image Eric Cinnamon, the winemaker for Gallo ?s Rancho Zabaco, was in town last week to attend the Savor Dallas food and wine festival. We talked about  what a winemaker does, what he likes (and dislikes) about the job, and how you can learn more about wine. He also managed to get in some plugs for his wine, which was neatly done.

To download or stream the podcast, go here. It ?s about 7.4 megs and 8 minutes. The recording is mostly solid, though there may be something that sounds like tape hiss (which was a nifty trick for a digital recording).

Wine Curmudgeon winecast 2: John Griffin

John Griffin is the dining editor and the wine columnist for the Express-News newspaper in San Antonio. We talked about Texas wine, pairing wine and food, and judging the San Antonio wine competition. To download or stream the podcast, click here. It ?s about 6 minutes and 5 1/2 MB.

I ?ve worked out many of the technical kinks. The podcast is even in stereo, more or less, though the ending is a little rough. As always, comments and pointers are welcome.