Ask Kathy


The world of wine can be intimidating. Where should I shop? Which wine goes best with a certain meal or cuisine, or favorite cheese? What is Carménère? Where is Irouleguy? What’s the best itinerary to enjoy the wines of Tuscany? Why is Pinot Noir so difficult to grow? Where can I take wine classes, and which type of education is best for me? Is Soave and place or a grape? Can you help me “translate” a German wine label? And so it goes…

This is an experiment to gauge interest among readers in addition to my immediate friendship network! If you have a question, just “Ask Kathy” in the comment box and I will get back to you as quickly as I can.

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10 responses to “Ask Kathy

  1. Kathy I am interested in achieving WSET certifications. I live in Cincinnati area.


  2. Hi Kathy,
    Where can I take wine classes?


  3. How about some tips for hosting a casual wine tasting party? Let’s say it will be a tasting of Orvieto whites. I’ve read 2 – 3 oz. pours for tasting? What nibbles would pair well? Thanks, Kathy.


    • Great question Karen! Orvieto whites would make a great wine tasting feature because most people aren’t familiar with them. There are only 23 wineries that comprise the DOC (like a French appellation), so they are not always easy to find in American wine shops. And since the place name is most often on the label, consumers typically don’t know about the delicious traditional grape of Orvieto called Grechetto. Try a 100% Grechetto and a blend of Grechetto with either international (Chardonnay) or other traditional grape varieties. (You may have to read the back label.) If you can find Palazzone wines in your market, by all means choose that brand!! And you might even consider comparing Orvieto wines to other lively whites from Italy such as Gavi (Piedmont), Falanghina (Campania) or Vermentino (grown in several regions). Now to the party with your wine back-story in hand. For a party at home, glass pours should be 2.5 to 3 ounces depending on how many wines you are going to serve. (2 ounces is a very small sample usually reserved for retail and/or professional tastings where many wines are to be sampled.) For antipasti, my recommendation is young, fresh Pecorino from Pienza aged 4-20 months served with some of the many cured meats of Italy that go so well with crusty bread. A simple salad is always a winner with white wine (not so much with reds), Pasta in a white sauce, either olive oil or cream based, is a must — perhaps con vongole (clams) or Carbonara? I guarantee your guests will leave happy!


  4. What is your favorite “drinking” red wine under $20?


    • Chris, this is a great question for winter wines. Bordeaux blends from Chile, or Malbecs from Argentina, tend to offer great value and quality in this price range. One of my personal favorites, however, is Nebbiolo from the Langhe region of Piedmont. This is best known as the home of Barolo and Barbaresco, and might be called Langhe Rosso on the label. With tax, these wines will slip over $20, but they will be sure to please for sipping or pairing with a meal.

      Sent from my iPad

      Kathy Merchant LLC Cincinnati Wine Educator, DipWSET, CSW Vino Ventures |



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