Blogger in the Spotlight leaves South Florida this Sunday and shines its bright light towards the Northeast, specifically to speak with a very entertaining writer, Brian Freedman who has a byline in as many wine publications online and in print as there are grapes in Italy. I found Mr. Freedman online via Twitter and have been following his blog UncorkLife.com for months now, his style is entertaining and easy. Wine at times can be overwhelming and snobbish. UncorkLife.com works at dispelling wine myths and other superficial wine nuances with his candid and straightforward style of explanation. The one thing I love about Blogger in the Spotlight is you really do get to know the person behind the moniker and this week’s Blogger is no exception as you will read about birth-year wine which is very important to him and how our interviewee is trying to be mature and smooth like his favorite wine and that slurping wine throughout dinner is definitely something……an 1878 Madeira, his friend “Zippy” Ziskind and picking grapes in Champagne. I love the diversity, the humor and the entertaining ways of all our Bloggers in the Spotlight to date and this mornings’ interviewee keeps us right on track with his tongue in cheek style of expression. So readers I present to you a very exciting, knowledgeable, and witty Blogger in the Spotlight: Brian Freedman A.K.A. UncorkLife.com:
South Florida Food and Wine: How did you start wine writing/blogging?
UncorkLife.com: My stock answer is that, as a Penn State student, I drank for four years straight, and eventually people just started to pay me for it. But the real answer is that I grew up in a house with a wine cellar, so I’ve been tasting since I was six. (My friends tell me that that’s why I’m short!) When I was a student at Penn State, I had a wine/beer/cigar column in a local paper, and it all kind of rolled out from there. The blog, UncorkLife.com, is the brainchild of the team at WineChateau.com, one of the largest wine retailers in the country with an amazing new flagship store in Piscataway, NJ, and a huge online presence. I’ve been writing the blog for about a year and a half, and have been writing about wine professionally and full-time for more than five years.
South Florida Food and Wine: Do you do anything else other than write about wine?
UncorkLife.com: Yes, I also write about food and travel, and work as a host, emcee, and speaker at conventions and conferences. I’m also the wine specialist at Wine Chateau, and help run tastings there, and serve as the membership chair for the Wine Media Guild of New York. I contribute to John Mariani’s Virtual Gourmet, Philadelphia Style Magazine, Affluent Magazine, Sommelier India (the largest wine magazine on the subcontinent), and other outlets.
South Florida Food and Wine: What is the most challenging thing about writing/blogging?
UncorkLife.com: Staying disciplined: In the wintertime, it’s easy. But on those 75-and-sunny days, it’s awfully tempting to leave my home office and head out to the golf course.
South Florida Food and Wine: What is the greatest opportunity that has come from writing/blogging for you?
UncorkLife.com: I’ve had the chance to travel to places I never dreamed I would as a child, and been fortunate enough to meet some of the most interesting, passionate people in the world. Plus, tasting wine and food for a living itself is pretty amazing–I remind myself every day how lucky I am to be able to pay my bills doing this. The quality of life can’t be beat.
South Florida Food and Wine: What is your most memorable writing/blogging moment?
UncorkLife.com: Easy: Dinner with Angelo Gaja in Barbaresco, drinking his wines with a decadent amount of truffles, and waking up the next morning and realizing that, yes, that was exactly how I spent the previous evening. It still amazes me. Or: Picking grapes in Champagne during the harvest.
Or: Attending a wine dinner at the Gloriette in Vienna with a jazz quartet and a chamber orchestra.
Or: Sitting next to Bill Harlan at a wine dinner celebrating his winemaking anniversary.
Too many to count. It’s one of the big benefits of this job–the experiences you get to have.
South Florida Food and Wine: It’s your last day on earth, what would your final meal be?
UncorkLife.com: The combination may be a bit nasty, but if we’re going for greatest hits, I’d say a perfect gibson made by my friend Ryan, a glass of Edradour single malt neat, my mother’s spaghetti and meatballs, a roasted marrow bone, perfect French Fries, old Champagne, 1959 Chateau Lafite, 15-year-old Barbaresco, Port from my birth year (1977), flourless chocolate cake, and a Montecristo No. 2, all with my family and friends.
South Florida Food and Wine: What super-action-hero would you like to be and why?
UncorkLife.com: Which one is most neurotic? Because I’d be that one…
South Florida Food and Wine: What is the best wine advice you have to share?
UncorkLife.com: Always try something new–it’s a big world out there, and nothing is more depressing than when I hear people say they only drink one grape variety, or wine from one region. Also, ignore the wine snobs: Drink what you love and ignore anyone who pontificates about their superior wine knowledge. They’re most likely full of it.
South Florida Food and Wine: What is your one obsessive wine habit?
UncorkLife.com: Swirling and slurping, even throughout a meal. I really have to work on that.
South Florida Food and Wine: If you could choose to be any wine, what would it be?
UncorkLife.com: Something mature and smooth–qualities I’m trying desperately to attain personally.
South Florida Food and Wine: If looked in your refrigerator, what would I find?
UncorkLife.com: Lots of cheese, a pitcher of iced tea, many bottles of wine with half a glass poured from them to taste and write a note, and lots and lots of leftovers.
South Florida Food and Wine: What is the one “staple” food you always have in your cupboard?
UncorkLife.com: Pretzels–I’m thoroughly addicted to them. I can never go on the Atkins diet, simply because of my love affair with pretzels.
South Florida Food and Wine: What is your beverage of choice?
South Florida Food and Wine: What is your favorite comfort food?
UncorkLife.com: Again, it has to be pretzels. Or (also again) my mothers spaghetti and meatballs.
South Florida Food and Wine: What is your wine claim to fame?
UncorkLife.com: When I commute between Philly and New York for tastings, I’m the guy on the bus or train with black teeth afterward–they’re like magnets for reds.
South Florida Food and Wine: What is in your kitchen junk drawer?
UncorkLife.com: Subway tokens, tape, scissors, and lots of loose change. Also, an obscene number of Chinese delivery menus.
South Florida Food and Wine: What is the best wine gift you ever received?
UncorkLife.com: My friend Scot “Zippy” Ziskind is one of the most generous friends I have, and also a great collector of wine. Probably the most profound wine he’s ever opened was an 1878 Madeira, which was the birth year of the first member of my family to come to America and the man who raised my grandfather, with whom I’ve very, very close. My father and I saved a bit of it in a small jelly jar, and brought it to my grandfather so that he could have a direct connection with our family’s past. Wine doesn’t get much more profound than that.
South Florida Food and Wine: What kitchen chore do you dislike the most?
UncorkLife.com: I hate washing the pot out after I make oatmeal. It drives me crazy. At what point in the cooking process does oatmeal turn to glue? And yet it happens every time…
South Florida Food and Wine: What is the most exotic food you have ever eaten and where?
UncorkLife.com: Duck tongue and fish maw hot pot at a Chinese restaurant in Philadelphia.
South Florida Food and Wine: What is the most extravagant food or beverage item or culinary tool you spent money on?
UncorkLife.com: I think the big extravagance will be coming in December–my wife and I are expecting our first child then, and I’m sure I’ll be spending way more on birth-year wine to lay down than I can afford…
South Florida Food and Wine: Where was the best wine you ever had? And why?
UncorkLife.com: My grandfather has a line that his favorite wine is the one in the glass in front of him. I agree: Any time you have a chance to treat yourself to a glass, especially with family, friends, and other loved ones, that’s a great moment.