Karen MacNeil is the creator and Chairman of the Rudd Center for Professional Wine Studies at the Culinary Institute of America in the Napa Valley. She is also President of Karen MacNeil and Company which plans corporate and consumer wine events.
She has worked as a wine correspondent for The Today Show and as host of the PBS television series , “Wine, Food and Friends with Karen MacNeil.” But most of us know her as a fantastic wine writer with published articles in The New York Times, USA Today, and Food and Wine to name just a few.
The Moses of the wine world, Karen MacNeil brought wine knowledge down from the mountaintop in her book, “The Wine Bible,” a book that has become revered as law by all students of wine. Her intimate writing style draws her readers in, and makes us feel as if she is sitting beside us explaining wine to us in her imaginative and enthusiastic language.
Her wildly creative descriptions are pin-point perfect in their precision. In a recent live-tasting on twitter, Karen MacNeil described syrah as “a cowboy wearing a tuxedo.” Though she didn’t use any of these words, her description told us that syrah is ‘rugged’ and ‘strong’ while at the same time ‘elegant’ and ‘plush.’ She described the Bonny Doon syrah as “pure Sex in the City – sweaty, appealing and not ‘confected,’” and the Chamisal Vineyard syrah was “dark and bacony, like Don Johnson with a 5 o’clock shadow.” But her descriptions have more than spot-on popular culture references.
She also describes wines in terms of movement. “I love the choreography of the Foxen Winery syrah. It blossoms, dips, rises again, and leads to a long, fantastic finish.” “The Relentless is restless and wild, and man, what power.” Her wine writing is dynamic and playful. Her descriptions give so much personality to the wines, the wines themselves become characters on the page beckoning us to them.
How fun would it be to actually be in the room with Karen MacNeil as she talks about wine? Lucky for us, we can be! On March 5th from 6 to 9 pm Women for Winesense is hosting a panel discussion event, Women in Wine, at the Napa Valley College Performing Arts Center. Come hear what Karen MacNeil and our other panelists including wine writers, winemakers, wine consultants and wine directors, (who will each be introduced over the next week on this blog), have to say about the world of wine and women’s roles in that world. Tickets can be purchased through Eventbrite. Proceeds from the event’s Silent Auction benefit the Women for Winesense Scholarship Fund.