Ask The Wine Guy



Today we have a special guest on Small Bites. Joe Printz, the owner of The Grape D’Vine in Tappan, has agreed to answer your wine questions. Here’s a little bit about Joe, and I’ll start the first question. Feel free to post questions in the comments field.

Here’s Joe:

I have lived in Rockland since age 4. I have been cooking since I was 14 years old. Graduated cooking School in 1981. I worked In NYC until 1985. I open my first restaurant in 1985 and 3 others after that in Washington DC. I moved back to NYC in in 1991 and catered to movie stars and celebrities and Walls Street “Masters of the Universe” types until I opened The Grape D’Vine in July of 2002.

I have been back in Rockland County since 1991. My basic philosophy about wine is that people, for whatever reason, pay too much for wine. There is so much juice flowing in the world they have to turn lots of it to fuel. Really great wine can be found for around 10 dollars. Let your tongue be your guide. Don’t let the wine wigs tell you what to like. Expose yourself to as much as possible. Trust in your wine merchant to get to know your palate. The hunt is half the fun.

Thanks Joe. So, I’m wondering:

Lately I’ve been really into pinot gris and pinot blancs from Alsace. What’s another region I might explore with similar wines?

The region I like for these types of wine is Alto Adige in Northern Italy. The colder the climate the more acidity the wine has. I also am a big fan of the mineral strength in the Mountain region of Italy. The wine tastes like Alpine air. Crisp, sometimes slightly biting but certainly bracing. What it lacks slightly in spice it makes up for in mineral complexity. Pinot Bianco from Coppo is rock solid. Pinot Grigio from Alto Adige is really the best place on earth for this type of wine in my humble opinion.

So, readers, what do you want to know from Joe?


About Author

Liz Johnson is content strategist for The Journal News and, and the founding editor of lohudfood, formerly know as Small Bites. As food editor, she won awards from the New York News Publishers Association, the Association of Food Journalists and the Associated Press. She lives in Nyack with her husband and daughter on a tiny suburban lot they call their farm — with fruit trees, an herb garden, and a yardful of lettuce, tomatoes, onions, shallots, cucumbers, zucchini, radishes, cabbage, peppers, Brussels sprouts and carrots and four big blueberry bushes.


  1. Would you mind recommending a few Chardonnays, Cabernets and Zinfandels for $9.99 or less?


  2. Hi Rk,
    Thanks for the question. I go for wines a little off the beaten path. For values I like Alamos in Cabs and Chards. Gnarly head old vine Zinfandel is an easy wine to like too. Altera Chardonnay is great for 8.99 because is it done on the lees of viognier for an extra zip. Peachy Canyon incredible red rocks for zin at 9.99.

  3. Thanks Andrea,
    Tough question as you know Montrachet is pricy juice. For 5o I like Domaine Jean Chartron Puligny Montrachet Vieilles Vignes 04. Its like creamy lime peel with a dose of shaley minerals. Enjoy

  4. ravenswood isnt bad for a low end Zin. However i like Kenwood .
    lately i have gotten a table shiraz called 4 emus. isnt top shelf like some of the others but for an every day wine.itisnt bad.

  5. yes well under. i think its 8. there’s also one with penguins. Its australian of course..
    in new city shoprite shopping center Joe wine or best buy whatever its called. family run.
    Also there’s a real cheap sweet may wine for 6 bucks. weber. i use it for marinading pork loins.

  6. Yellow Tail Chardonnay – for the price – is very good

    Some stores carry Kendall Jackson for $9.99 – now that’s a steal

  7. yellow tail is ok. but there are better for same price. but i am not a big chard fan.

  8. What’s a good California wine in the $25-40 range that would be a suitable gift for the boss? I always get stuck without a clue around holiday time. Red or white is fine.

  9. INMHO, for that money a good bottle of scotch or sipping rum might be better received unless he really loves wine.

  10. Thanks CR,
    Rombauer makes well crafted varietally correct wines that are overt and consistent with some name recognition too. I like a cabernet called Tamber bay, and a blend called The Prisoner. Its a blend of Petite sirah, zinfandel and carrignan from Howell mountain fruit. Try to find some single vineyard designated wine as the wine maker is usually confident in his or her grower that they don’t blend this wine with wine from elsewhere in the vineyard. You can find the single vineyard name right on the front label. Its stand alone. I generally think that if you search out a small store with a knowledgable staff or owner they will help you cut to the chase and teach you something in the process.

  11. Good Question Tammy,
    It varies due to alcohol content but on average for a 6 ounce glass of white wine that is 12.5 percent alcohol the calories are between 110 and 120 per glass. Obvioulsy the calories are higher for a glass of red Zinfadel with an alcohol level or 14 percent. Its more like 150.

  12. I get nervous about ordering wine at a restaurant because I don’t know how to do the whole tasting/swirling thing when the waiter brings the wine bottle over. Could you tell me the proper way to do that?

  13. Hi CM,
    Don’t be nervous. You are in the driver’s seat. If you are civil to the server they will in turn return the respect. Let them pour, you keep the glass on the table while you slowly spin the wine in a circle while holding the stem. Let the wine settle and sniff the explosive aromatics in the glass. If they smell like a wet dog, wet basement or cardboard tell them you think wine wine might be corked. Ask them for their opinion. 1 in 12 wines has some form of “cork” problem. If it doesn’t have an off taste ask the server to pour away. You usually don’t even have to taste the wine if it smells good. You are just looking for an off smell in the wine. You technically have to accept what is poured even if you don’t care for the wine. The only reason to refuse it is if it’s flawed. Even screw tops have their problems.

  14. Hello Joe,

    Thanks for your response to my earlier wine question.

    I do – if you don’t mind – have another.

    Your favorite restaurants in Westchester?

    Also – Restaurants with top wine lists?

    Thanks again

  15. RK,
    For unbridled enjoyment including a killer and I mean KILLER wine list, it has to be Crabtree’s Kittlehouse in Chappaqua. A beautiful setting combined with a newly revamped kitchen and the already mentioned wine list (35,000 bottles) with a sommelier to match, make this place tops for me. Its a little old fashioned (the clientele is well established) but the over all effect is great. Blue hIll at Stonebarn delivers on all cylinders too. A dramatic setting, organic, sustainable food, inventive cocktails, a great wine list, a knowledgeable sommelier. These places are requiring of a smashed piggy bank though. For easy fun with nice portions during the summer months try Striped Bass in Tarrytown under the TZ Bridge. Running a wine shop full time doesn’t allow a lot of spare time. I rely on Liz Johnson for recommendations before I venture out. She eats everywhere and knows the real deal.

  16. Dennis Mitchell on

    I’m going to Italy for a few weeks and saw your suggestion of Alto Adige wines. You suggested the Pinot Bianco of Coppo. Can you tell me what town they’re located in?

  17. Sorry Dennis,
    In my hurry I mistakenly named Coppo as being in the Alto Adige. It is actually located in the Piedmont region another beautiful area in the north of Italy but certainly not Alto Adige. Trentino is the gorgeous little town that had eluded me last Friday. If you are going don’t miss it. Sorry for the flub.

  18. John Lundquist on

    I have been trying to find what the alcohol content is for Yellow Tail Chardonnay? Can you help me?

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