Frank Cornelissen Wines

Frank Cornelisen Munjebel 5 (Rosso and Bianco)

My favorite vineyard represented at the 2010 New York Wine Expo was Frank Cornelissen‘s Sicilian vineyard.

Approaching Cornelissen’s table at the Expo, I immediately felt welcomed by his calm demeanor. Unlike other vintners at the expo, he wasn’t antsy to get on with his sales pitch. Instead, he seemed genuinely interested in each attendees’ comments on his wines. He was a conversationalist with a knack for answering questions. In fact, I learned quite a bit about his wines in just a small chat with him. Cornelissen’s wines are best described as extreme wines produced in a non-interventionalist manner. He prunes away all unripe grapes, ages the wine in terracotta vases buried under volcanic rock and refrains from adding sulfur dioxide. Check out the detailed description of Cornelissen’s method at

My first reaction to his wines was a surprise at the unique colors. The white wines, including the Munjebel 4, were cloudy and dark goldenrod in color. I later learned that the gold color was attributed to the fact that Munjebel was vinified like Cornelissen’s red wines, in full and long skin-contact to extract its territorial identity. On the other hand, the reds at the table were deep in color, leaning towards auburn and brownish-red colors. Truly distinct.

Upon tasting the wines, I first noticed the distinct presence of the terroir, the geographical characteristics of the wine. Cornelissen explained that the vineyards are located on Mount Etna at about 3,000 feet. I now get a sense of why he may have picked the name “Munjebel” — the mountain’s Arabic name is Jebel Utlamat (the Mountain of Fire), being that it is the largest active volcano in Europe. And thus, “Jebel” seems to be a hint as to the choosing of “Munjebel”, but I’m still not sure what “Mun” means. Anyone out there have an answer?

To say the least, Frank Cornelissen’s wine are the most unique and curious set of wines I have tasted. Being excited about their specialness, I purchased a bottle of Munjabel 5 Rosso for a “thank you for hosting me” gift last month. I was happy to find that the wines are available at Crush Wines & Spirits in Midtown, including Cornelissen’s famous Magma red wine. I had the distinct pleasure of enjoying the Magma at the Wine Expo. It was an experience that will not soon escape my memory. If you haven’t already tried it, put it on your bucket list.

Crush Wines & Spirit 153 East 57th Street in New York, NY

How to Open Wine without a Corkscrew

Above: All you need to open a bottle of wine is a screw, screwdriver and plyers!

Have you ever gone to open a bottle of wine, but then suddenly realize that either (1) you don’t have a corkscrew or (2) you can’t find the friggin’ thing?! I have! And that’s why my boyfriend (Weikai) and I got inventive with our household tools and discovered a way to open wine without a corkscrew!

All you need is (1) a screw, (2) a screwdriver, and (3) plyers! If you have those things, you’ll be good. We found out that it’s actually better to have (1) a screw and (2) a hammer with a claw. However, we couldn’t find our hammer at the time!

Below we’ll illustrate just how it’s done!

1.) Insert the screw into the cork and screw it with the screwdriver.

2.) Use the plyers (or hammer) to pry the cork up.

3.) Once the cork is almost out, use your hands to pull it out.

4.) And voila! You’ve done it! Your wine is ready to enjoy!!! Now, maybe you’ll go all MacGyver on your wine more often!

Enjoy the new tip!!! Let me know how it goes for you!

Syrah or Shiraz?

Above: Project Happiness Syrah Red Wine from Trader Joe’s

Everyone needs some happy red wine every now and then. That’s why I chose pRojECt hApPinesS Syrah tonight!

And then I realized a disconnect in my knowledge between Shiraz and Syrah. I began to wonder, “Are Shiraz and Syrah the same type of grape?”

The answer: Yes!

It turns out that Shiraz and Syrah are indeed the same grape. According to, the difference lies in how you use the names:

“Syrah is the old-world name, and it’s used when referring to wines either from France’s Rhône Valley or wines made in that style, like those from California. Shiraz is the “new-world” name, and it’s given mainly to wines made in a modern style, like those from Australia.”

So, there we have it! We can all go back to our normal lives, in peace of the knowledge that Shiraz and Syrah are one in the same!

The French Paradox and Red Wine

Above: My friend’s 21st birthday party!

I’ve always wondered why everyone says that a glass of red wine a day is a healthy choice, and today I found out! It was based on a study known as “The French Paradox”.

“The French Paradox” refers to the coincidence in France of lower-than-average mortality rates from cardiovascular disease and higher-than-average consumption of saturated fats, such as butter and cheese. In 1991, before 35 million American TV viewers, Doctors Curt Ellison and Serge Renaud presented research findings that attributed the phenomenon to the beneficial effects of the higher-than-average consumption of red wine. And obviously, red wine sales in America jumped dramatically after the airing.

I haven’t quite committed to a daily glass of wine yet, but I’m considering! (And I must confess I’m a sucker for Sangria!)