I had the privilege of being on a press trip with some very fine and insightful wine writers. I was so glad to have been on the same trip with Tina for the Champagne Harvest tour this past September (2016). I knew we would be friends when we both appreciate the love of a fine wine like Champagne and the irresistible power of potato chips in the same sitting.
Tina is a superbly friendly person and is a very talented wine, food and lifestyle writer and a great depth and breadth of experience in this wonderful world of wine, food and lifestyle.
Here are the questions I asked in a recently interview with this Northern Californian now based in Washington, D.C.
I enjoy this series because I too learn more about the people I am interviewing. I hope you enjoy this interview as much I do.
Q. How did you choose your subject matter (lifestyle, food and wine writer)?
A. I grew up in an Italian family (my dad came to the U.S. from Calabria in the 1950s), so good food and wine have always been a big part of my life. To my dad, wine was like water—something you drink every day—and we kids were welcome to taste it if we wanted to. I didn’t start really enjoying it until I was in college, though, when I worked in restaurants. That’s when I began learning about wine.
Q. On your move from West Coast to East Coast—what is the difference in wine culture?
A. The move has been really interesting. With easier access to Europe from the East Coast, there are a lot more imported wines in D.C. than on the West Coast. Living in Sonoma and the Bay Area, I was surrounded by North Coast wines. They’re less common out here. That’s fun for me, because I’m getting to know new wines from other parts of the world. It’s also fun to taste the wines from Virginia—some of them are really good, especially the Viognier and Cab Franc.
Q. Do you find a greater assortment of import wines versus domestic wines in your home base of DC?
A. Yes! There’s a wine shop called Cleveland Park Wine & Spirits that has an incredible selection of wines from all over the world—including places like Brazil, Bulgaria and even lesser-known U.S. regions like Arizona and Michigan. There’s a lot to explore.
Q. DC is proximate to Virginia wine country and there is quite a number there—will there be more Virginia wines that are sent beyond VA, MD and DC?
A. I hope so. There are some very good producers in Virginia (Linden, RdV, Boxwood and Barboursville, to name a few), and they deserve a wider audience. Unfortunately, I think people outside the region (and even within the region) still need convincing that wines from Virginia can be just as good as wines from California, and other major U.S. regions.
Q. What was your first bottle of life changing wine?
A. My first wine industry job was at Wine Institute in San Francisco, in the early `90s. At Christmas time, all the employees received an assortment of wines left over from events held during the year, and in my stash one year was a bottle of Chateau Woltner (now Ladera) Chardonnay. It was so different from the fat, buttery Chards I was used to, it really opened my eyes to what great Chardonnay could be.
Q. What is your favourite restaurant town in the world?
A. There are so many, it’s hard to choose! Some of my favorites are Barcelona, Lisbon and Rome. Anywhere I can have fresh-from-the-sea fish and shellfish with great wine is my happy place.
Q. What do you miss about the West Coast?
A. Two things: I miss the easy access to great wineries and producers, and the local grocery stores. In D.C., I have yet to find a great independent grocery store that sells the kind of fresh produce, seafood and local meats that, say, Oliver’s or Petaluma Market have. I’m sorry to say I took them for granted!
Q. What is your favourite destination for food and wine? I can’t list just one, so I’ll give you two: Sonoma County and Spain.
A. What wine region is the most under realized? I recently visited the Snake River area of Idaho and was really impressed with the wines—especially Syrah and Tempranillo. This is a region to watch.
Q. What is the most under appreciated wine variety?
A. It’s not exactly under the radar, but I’d like to see Sauvignon Blanc get more love. It’s such a beautiful variety and has so many different expressions, depending on the region, it’s a shame that it sometimes gets overshadowed by Chardonnay.
Q. How has wine writing changed especially during the digital age?
A. There are so many more voices in wine writing today than when I started out—and that’s a good thing. Before widespread Internet access, you were limited to handful of publications if you wanted to learn about wine. If you couldn’t relate to their writers’ tastes, or found the publications to be stuffy… well, too bad! Today there are so many alternatives to the traditional media outlets, people can have a bit more fun with the topic and cover it from all sorts of angles and perspectives. A lot of very good writers, who are both passionate and knowledgeable about wine, now have a platform. The downside is that it’s harder to get paid. (:
Q. What is one wine region that you have not visited but it is top on your list?
A. I’d love to visit New Zealand. Two of my favorite wine varieties are Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir, and the scenery looks absolutely gorgeous.
Tina Caputo Biography:
Tina is a Washington, D.C.-based wine, food and lifestyle writer, and the producer and host of the podcast “Winemakers Drinking Beer.” Most recently, she was editor-in-chief of Vineyard & Winery Management magazine, and was previously the managing editor of Wines & Vines magazine. Her articles have appeared in dozens of publications, including Sonoma magazine, the San Francisco Chronicle, Zester Daily, Wine Review Online and many others. Websites: tinacaputo.com and winemakersdrinkingbeer.com.
James the Wine Guy
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