When I started collecting wine more than a decade ago, I had to wait for my favorite monthly magazines to arrive in the mail to learn about the latest vintages and trends in wine. Today, I get much of my industry news from podcasts, which are available instantaneously. The best wine podcasts offer expert, in-depth reviews of incredible wines as well as educational resources and interviews with wine professionals that aren’t available anywhere else.
Yet, while podcasts are an excellent resource for collectors of all experience levels, I have noticed one problem with most wine podcasts: they’re geared toward beginners. These beginner podcasts are perfect for people who want to learn the difference between Left Bank and Right Bank Bordeaux, but for serious wine aficionados, the information they cover is much too basic.
That’s why I’ve compiled a list of the best wine podcasts for serious collectors. Not only are these podcasts a joy to listen to, they’ve also helped me build my collection and gain a better understanding of the industry I love.
The basics: Guild of Sommeliers is a monthly podcast created by Master Sommelier Geoff Kruth. Each episode is about an hour long and is built around either one particular topic—wines of Washington state, Beaujolais, and yeast in winemaking are all topics of past episodes—or around an interview with a special guest, such as Jancis Robinson or Philip Togni. Many episodes feature shorter interviews which draw on the expertise of industry insiders, including members of the Guild of Sommeliers as well as viticulturists and journalists, to comment on the topic at hand.
Listen if: You want to learn more about the inner workings of the wine industry, you’re studying to become a sommelier, or you want to take a deep dive into a specific subject with the help of wine experts.
Where to start: Search for past episodes on the wine regions you’re interested in or get suggestions on new wines to try from the blind tasting series, in which Kruth and fellow sommeliers try three or four wines live on the air.
I recommend the Guild of Sommeliers podcast to everyone I know, from aspiring sommeliers to collectors who want to break out of a wine rut. This podcast takes the listener far beyond basic, Googleable facts; Kruth puts hours of research into every subject he covers and always gets additional perspective from experts in the field. For example, one episode features an interview with Dr. Andrew Waterhouse, a Professor of Enology at UC Davis. The episode discusses wine chemistry in-depth and focuses on how different aromatic compounds impact the flavor of wine. This level of detail and scholarship makes Guild of Sommeliers one of the best wine podcasts for serious collectors who want to expand their knowledge every month.
The basics: I’ll Drink to That is an hour-long, interview-based podcast led by hosts Levi Dalton (the wine editor for Eater NY) and Erin Scala. Both Dalton and Scala are skilled interviewers who are able to get useful, fascinating information from all of their subjects. Whether they’re interviewing fellow wine journalists or beverage directors, these interviews never feel dry or formulaic.
Listen if: You want to better understand the wine industry and how it operates.
Where to start: I’ll Drink to That can provide you with some interesting information about the wine market and where certain trends are headed. For example, you could learn more about why wine prices fluctuate or how Portuguese wines will likely evolve over the next five years. I find that the most useful episodes from a collecting perspective are the interviews with journalists, critics, and sommeliers who talk about their favorite bottles. It’s also worth listening to the episodes that cover specific regional wines and winemaking trends. These shows invariably include tips from critics and winemakers who have tried the wines for themselves and are able to give their perspective for collectors seeking new and noteworthy wines.
The basics: GrapeRadio is a distinguished James Beard Award-winning radio and video wine talk show founded by Brian Clark, Leigh Older, Michael Geoghegan, and Jay Selman. While new episodes are infrequent (they are sometimes released months apart), this show certainly falls into the category of best wine podcasts for consumers and collectors. Episodes run anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours long (though most fall somewhere around the hour mark) and take on a range of topics, from industry news and interviews to educational seminars about specific producers.
Listen if: You enjoy in-depth interviews with top wine estates. The hosts’ personal wine recommendations also make excellent additions to a cellar.
Where to start: The podcast’s 2018 Rhône Valley update episode is an excellent resource for collectors, whether you’re just getting started with wines from the Rhône or you’ve been collecting them for years.
I’ve been encouraging one of my friends to listen to wine podcasts for a while now, but because he works a fast-paced job at a Fortune 500 company, he simply doesn’t have time to sit down and listen to a monthly or weekly series. GrapeRadio is perfect for him because he can listen to the podcast every couple of months when new episodes are released without feeling like he’s fallen hopelessly behind. What sets GrapeRadio apart from other podcasts is that it’s a practical show dedicated to an audience of actual wine consumers. The hosts speak about wine from the perspective of wine lovers looking to buy great wine. When they interview officials from estates like Veuve Clicquot and Joseph Drouhin, they ask the questions that matter to consumers, not just to aspiring sommeliers studying for exams. I’ve been listening to and watching the show for years, and, especially as a beginning collector, have drawn on the information I learned in the podcast to shop for wine online and discover second labels from top estates in Bordeaux.
The Best Wine Podcasts Go Beyond the Basic
Although each of these three podcasts is very different from the others in terms of tone and scope, they all have one thing in common: they cover every subject in depth. The experienced hosts of these podcasts treat their audience like peers; you’ll feel like you’re sitting next to them at a wine tasting, chatting about the incredible 100-point 2015 Yquem or the ultra-rare 2005 Roc de Cambes. These are podcasts made by wine lovers for wine lovers, and the enthusiasm of their hosts and interviewees is contagious. Listening to any of these shows, you’ll learn more about the wines and regions you love and be inspired to add new bottles and styles to your collection.
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