Tag Archives: Ray Isle


Winecast 51: Ray Isle, Food & Wine magazine and wine during the pandemic

ray isle

Ray Isle: “Producers are doing anything they can to keep prices from going up.”

“It’s a complicated time for sure, and especially complicated for small producers. … It’s not a time I’d want to be starting a winery.”

Ray Isle, the executive wine editor of Food & Wine, has a unique perspective on wine during the pandemic. He not only writes about wine for one of the country’s leading food magazines, but he brings a practical sense to the job that many of his colleagues don’t bother with. Or, as he said during our chat: “I got into wine as a poor graduate student, and my budget for wine was about $14.99 a month, and I’ve never abandoned that. You have to write about the affordable stuff. That’s what people like to drink.”

We talked about that, and Ray offered a variety of value wine suggestions, including the Sokol Blosser Evolution No.9 white blend (in a 1.5 liter box, no less, which I also liked); a South African red and white; and an $11 Chianti. We also touched on:

• Wine prices and availability during the pandemic — both seem to be better for domestic wines than for imports because of the tariff.

• The future of the tariff; he, too, is cautiously optimistic about getting rid of the 25 percent levy regardless of what happens in November.

• The state of restaurant wine, and why we should be worried about the future of the U.S. restaurant business because trouble there means trouble for or wine.

Click here to download or stream the podcast, which is about 18 minutes long and takes up about 12 megabytes. Quality is very good to excellent.

Ray Isle and everything you need to know about corkscrews

Food & Wine’s Ray Isle is spot on about which corkscrew to use and how to use it

One of my favorite moments teaching wine students came when I demonstrated the various corkscrews. The students, most of whom had never used one of any kind, were especially baffled by the waiter’s corkscrew, which is standard restaurant equipment. This video, from the great Ray Isle of Food & Wine, would have been a huge help.

Isle, one of the best wine critics in the country, covers all of the bases, showing how each corkscrew works and why the waiter is the best of a bad lot. Because, as regular visitors here know, all wines should have screwcaps.

Video courtesy of Food & Wine, via You Tube, using a Creative Commons license

Has the rose craze peaked?

rose crazeWill we be able to enjoy our beloved rose without any of the recent foolishness?

The surge in rose’s popularity, though welcome, has had its downside. Rose deodorant, anyone?

In this, anything that has grown so quickly must eventually stop growing. Are we nearing that point with the rose craze? The Wine Curmudgeon asks this question in light of recent developments, of which rose-scented toiletry is just one example.

Consider that:

A fellow in Sweden has anointed himself King of Rose, which raises any number of questions. Why Sweden? And why do we need a king?

• The Spec’s in Dallas where I shop moved its rose section because the old space was too small. Not enough space for rose? This would have been a joke a couple of years ago.

The Nielsen numbers: Rose sales, measured in cases sold, grew 53 percent over the 52-week period ending in June, compared to just four percent for all of wine. Clearly, that is unsustainable growth.

But the real clue? That the always prescient Ray Isle of Food & Wine, a long-time rose supporter, thinks the end of the boom is in sight, too. This year, in his annual summer wine segment for the On the Money TV show, he didn’t bring a rose.

“I don’t have sales stats on whether rose has peaked, but I am beginning to wonder if at the very least press exhaustion with the topic may have set in,” he told me. “If you write that rose is a cool summer wine discovery, you’ll sound like a loon, since everyone and their dog is drinking it these days.”

That the boom may be over is not bad news. For one thing, it means that everyone who is drinking rose because it’s trendy will move on to something else. And that means no more 15 percent alcohol roses, roses aged in oak, or sweet roses passed off as dry. And no more fights with editors about what constitutes rose.

For another, it means that rose has established itself as a legitimate wine that is OK to drink — which has been a long time coming. Even if sales recede from the current peak, they will almost certainly stay higher than where they were five years ago. And that means there will continue to be cheap, quality rose on store shelves for us to enjoy. And without all of the foolishness.