About Me and This Blog

About Me and this Blog

Hi, my name is Anatoli. I seriously got into wine some time in 2001/2002 (my family doctor recommending to drink a glass of red a day to lower the cholesterol, is partially one to blame). Yes, I was drinking wine before, but at that time it became a passion – and it happily continues ever since.

One of the great things about wine is that it becomes better when it’s shared. As it is still difficult to actually share a bottle over the internet ( well one day, maybe?), we can share our experiences – and this is what this blog is all about. Today’s wine world is ever growing one – new grapes (or very old and well forgotten), new places are added almost daily – and that makes a journey very exciting. Let’s go together and explore wine, food, and life!


More about the Blog

This is a blog about wine, food, and life. I plan to talk here about wine. As a glass of wine is part of my daily routine, I usually rate the wines I drink. I plan to talk about places where wine is made – when I’m lucky enough to visit them. I also plan to talk about good places to buy the wine – as long as your definition of “good” at least partially depends on value, or QPR, we will do just fine.

Is that all? Of course not. There will be Whisky and more, there will be travel and places to visit, there will be restaurants. And food, of course, I plan to talk about food. And life? Yes, and life is happening now… so let’s go along.

More about me

Over the years, I spent a lot of time learning about wine. Like many of us, I learn the best from my own experiences – so I made significant efforts in that direction.

To begin with, I was drinking more wine. Not very original, huh? True, but I was also taking notes and started to peel off and collect labels from the wines I drink and write my notes right next to them. I didn’t use any fancy wine journals, regular journals from regular bookstore work just fine, so at the end of the day you end up with this:

The next step was to learn something from the pros, so I went to the Windows on the World Wine School. Kevin Zraly, who taught thousands and thousands of people to understand and appreciate wine, was an amazing teacher. I always refer to his definition of good wine – “the wine which gives you pleasure”, and to his way to swirl the wine in the glass when you want to really taste it. I would say that this school really opened my eyes to the world of wine.

Then I worked as a Sommelier in the restaurant called Quattro Figli in Greenwich, CT. While I spent only about 8 months on this ( the restaurant closed, unfortunately), I’m still very proud of the wine list I created there, which was somewhat short but very ambitious (yes, I was dreaming of Wine Spectator Grand Award) and included great wines from a lot of lesser-known regions and tasting flights.

And last but not least was my attempt to become a Master Sommelier for which I took the first course and successfully passed the test to become a member of Guild of Sommeliers, but didn’t make it to the next level as a Certified Sommelier – and as this might be a good topic for a few posts we can leave it for later.

About my Wine Ratings

Does the world need another set of wine ratings? Of course not, we already have many. So why would I come up with my own wine rating system? Well, I really rate the wines for myself. I do keep the records for most of the wines I tasted, and those records include the wine label, the date when I drank the wine, the notes and “drinkability” rating.

Now, yes, there are plenty of wine rating sources – Wine Spectator, Robert Parker (Wine Advocate), Stephen Tanzer (International Wine Cellar) and many more, all of them using 100 points rating system, with 100 being the highest and unique. I find 100 point system somewhat challenging, as I never saw a rating of 40 on the wine (I believe 72 was the lowest I ever saw), and I can’t distinguish between 89 and 90, or 93 and 92 (and still dreaming about trying 100-pointer perfect wine one day – not true anymore, this already happened but you will need to read the blog for more). My system goes on the scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest (don’t think I ever rated wine at 10 – also not true anymore – there is one wine so far I rated at 10), and I also use “+” and “-“ to indicate score “in between”, as in a lot of cases I can’t make a decision (that also was one of the reasons for flanking the “Certified Sommelier” exam as I was unable to decide on the wine in the blind wine tasting).

Connect and talk to me!

What I love even more than writing this blog is an opportunity to talk to all of you. Yes, you are always most encouraged to leave a comment in the post – but there are other ways to connect:

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And if you really like what you are reading, you can Vote for Talk-a-Vino on LocalWineEvents


  1. Erica
    October 19, 2010 at 10:03 am

    Hi Mr. Levine,

    Next Friday, Stew Leonard’s Wines will be hosting their first Sip & Twit wine tasting featuring Iron Horse Wines. Instead of sharing tasting notes the old fashioned way, tasters will be takin’ it to the tweets as they inundate the twittersphere with their taste-based observations. We would love for you to attend this event at from 4:00-7:00 p.m. at Stew Leonard’s Wines on 910 Mountain Avenue in Springfield, New Jersey.

    Please let me know if I can fill you in on more of the deets, or should I say tweets, in this exciting new trend.


    • talkavino
      October 19, 2010 at 4:47 pm

      Hi Erica,

      thank you for the invitation! I plan actually to attend Sip and Twit event on Friday, October 22nd at Stew Leonard’s Wines in Norwalk, CT – it is much closer to my home.

      Thanks again – Stew Leonard’s Wines has really great events program! Will be writing more in my blog 🙂

      All the best,

  2. October 23, 2010 at 8:57 am

    Thank you for the kind words about my Mara Laughlin Road Ranch Pinot Noir 2007 at your wine dinner.
    Warm Regards,
    Charles F. Mara

    • talkavino
      October 24, 2010 at 10:52 am


      thank you very much for the note and thank you for making such great wines! I heard that your 2008 Pinot Noir should be even more amazing…

  3. Cindy Skinner
    January 19, 2012 at 8:18 pm

    My boss is a winery owner and would like to send you a thank you email for a nice review you did. I can’t, however, find an email address for you.

    Thanks for your help so she doesn’t think I’m stupid. :-))

    • talkavino
      January 19, 2012 at 11:26 pm

      Hi Cindy,

      you can send me an e-mail to talkavino-info at yahoo.com

      Thank you!

  4. Michele
    January 19, 2012 at 10:14 pm

    Hi there- I really want to make a journal for myself of my favorite wines w the labels – can you share how you remove the labels from the bottles??

  5. August 7, 2012 at 3:16 pm

    Всем привет! Хотел похвалить Ваш сайт. Мне здесь очень понравилось.

  6. Myrl Kicklighter
    October 27, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    Hello Anatoli,

    I have been following your blogg since we met last November. You were tasting wines at the Wente Estate Tasting Room in Livermore, CA. I was the guy (Myrl) that poured you the 2009 Wente Small Lot Grenache to taste. I told you it was one of my favorites. In your December newsletter/blogg you ranked it #6 of the wines you had tasted that year.

    I just wanted to say thanks and that I truly enjoy your wine experiences. Let me know if and when you are going to be in our part of the world again.

    • talkavino
      October 27, 2012 at 5:29 pm

      Hi Myrl,

      thank you for the note, appreciate it and glad you like the blog! As a matter of fact, I plan to visit Wente during the last week of November – we plan to have a tasting and a dinner there, so I might see you again.

      All the best,

  7. December 1, 2012 at 7:25 pm

    Hey There!
    Today we nominated you for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award. Check out our post http://florastable.com/2012/12/01/the-very-inspiring-blogger-award/ if interested.
    Congrats on a very nice blog and have a wonderful weekend!

    • talkavino
      December 2, 2012 at 2:57 am

      Ahh, thank you very much! You are too kind! I’m honored and greatly appreciate the award!

  8. December 23, 2012 at 12:32 am

    Hi Anatoli.
    Oops! We did it again!
    We nominated you for an award. Check our post http://florastable.com/2012/12/22/its-been-raining-awards/ if you are interested.
    Happy Holidays.

    • talkavino
      December 24, 2012 at 1:38 am

      Hi Fracesca,

      thank you very very much! I really appreciate the nomination!

      Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

  9. January 30, 2013 at 11:24 pm

    Anatoli, I have a question and thought I’d ask here: Where is your background photo taken? The rows of vines are so very far apart from each other, I am just wondering…

    • talkavino
      January 30, 2013 at 11:43 pm

      Aha, may be it should be a quiz question? : ) Honestly, I don’t remember at the moment, but I will try to figure it out.

      • January 30, 2013 at 11:44 pm

        I thought the same thing when I wrote it: “Anatoli will make a quiz out of this”. I was just curious. Don’t dig too deep if you cannot find it easily…

        • talkavino
          January 30, 2013 at 11:51 pm

          No worries – I figured it out. Now, thank you and sorry – but I have to make quiz out of it 🙂 You can start guessing already…

        • January 30, 2013 at 11:53 pm

          Hahaha….you’ve ruined my week. 😀

  10. February 10, 2013 at 3:51 am

    Hi Anatoli
    Just run stumble upon your blog. Seems really interesting. Really like the wines categories.
    I wonder, have you ever tried http://www.astoria.it/#/en/ ones? Not easy to find out (mainly produce for restaurants&hotels), but thanks to them I start drinking also white wines.

    • talkavino
      February 10, 2013 at 9:03 am

      Thank you very much for your kind words!
      I don’t believe I ever had Astoria wines before – yes, I can clearly see that they are intended for the restaurants, as they even tell you how to properly put the wine name on the wine list. I see that some of their simpler Proseccos are actually available in US in the stores, but I couldn’t see any of their other stuff. I will be on lookout for them to try.

  11. February 22, 2013 at 10:27 am

    Wow, I can feel your passion. Inspiring… BTW, how does the WSET course differ from the CMS course? I’m going to take the WSET path…The wine world is mind blowing, demanding endless of learning…that’s what makes it addictive, I guess. Thank you for sharing your knowledge. I’m moving to Bordeaux soon as Turkey isn’t a place for wine 🙂 See you from there!

    • talkavino
      February 25, 2013 at 8:36 am

      Thanks for the comment! I can’t tell you how WSET is different from CMS as I never looked at the WSET course. I believe quite a few people go with WSET, I think it is more universal for the people who want to attain a certain level of the wine knowledge, where CMS really requires practical sommelier experience… Yes, the wine world is fascinating. Good luck in your journey!

  12. May 26, 2014 at 1:55 pm

    Thanks for liking my blog post. I thought oatmeal was supposed to lower your cholesterol. More people can get behind red wine that oatmeal, I’m guessing.

    • talkavino
      May 26, 2014 at 8:35 pm

      Of course. And yes, oatmeal in the morning and then the wine in the evening – that is exactly what doctor ordered!

  13. January 27, 2015 at 7:59 pm

    Hi Anatoli, so lovely to come across your blog! I have a lot to learn, but adore having a glass (well, occasionally two…) of wine in the evening as I’m cooking/eating dinner. There’s a whole world of wine waiting to be opened up… I just have to begin exploring it and stop buying the regular suspects that I know I love. Looking forward to catching up on some of your past posts. Cheers, Margot

    • talkavino
      January 27, 2015 at 9:14 pm

      Hi Margot, thanks for the follow! The wine and food go hand in hand, and both offer the endless learning opportunities for all of us. Enjoy the ride and cheers!

  14. March 14, 2015 at 12:56 pm

    This is a great blog, Anatoli. 🙂

    • talkavino
      March 14, 2015 at 10:59 pm

      Thank you Shanna! Love your blog too!

      • March 15, 2015 at 5:17 pm

        Your writing and research is amazing. I’m getting there!

        • talkavino
          March 16, 2015 at 2:12 pm

          Thank you! You are too kind!

  15. April 21, 2015 at 3:16 am

    Dear Anatoli
    lovely to meet you online – I agree – sharing a bottle with friends is the best way to enjoy wine, if you are alone it just isn’t the same. where where are you located now – the photos don’t look like the US to me (house on the right doesn’t look US), but the spacing the vines is so far apart that you drive through with a tractor based on the tread marks and I have never seen vines spaced this far apart anywhere in Europe not France, Spain, Germany or Italy at least. Not that that doesnt mean it’s not there of course. Earth colour seems wrong for israel….Oh random guessing now :)!!! Soft rolling hills?? But I guess the tractor cinches it – US somewhere??? Please put me out of my geographical misery :)!!! Oh last guess Ukraine or Georgia? I just found pics that show they have tractors in their vineyards and the rest of the geography feels right too :)!

    • talkavino
      April 21, 2015 at 4:32 am

      Dear Poli, thank you for stopping by and nice to meet you! I’m located on the East Coast of US. However, the picture in the background could’ve been taken anywhere, don’t you think? 🙂 I really like your analysis – you got really a lot from a simple picture 🙂 But this picture was taken in (cue in drum roll) Temecula, California – most southern appellation, one hour up from San Diego. Cheers!

      • April 21, 2015 at 5:04 am

        thank you – well I had never really seen vines where there is space for a tractor and it got me thinking! maybe anywhere, but nowhere close to me that grows vines (more hilly here – Alsace and Germany) – or Tuscany – more hilly too and not that arid 🙂 – and Israel I remember they grew either side of the valleys – so that wasn’t working, but yes anywhere they work with a tractor I guess….thanks for you kind words, I got a bit carried away :)!! Temecula – never heard of it, but I do have friends in Riverside so it’s round the corner from there!! thanks for telling me and cheers to you too!

  16. May 4, 2015 at 3:05 pm

    Hi! Just found your blog through TDPC. I really like what I’ve seen so far, and will be back for more. I’m also a wine lover and especially like to pair wine and food. I write about wine on my blog occasionally, and that should change to more frequently in the near future because in fall I’m starting formal training (even though I don’t plan to make a career out of it).

    • talkavino
      May 5, 2015 at 6:25 am

      Hi Stefan, thanks for stopping by and thank you for your kind words! I see a lot of great recipes in your blog, so I’m looking forward learning from you as well!

  17. Betsy Keller
    October 1, 2015 at 9:41 pm

    Please join us this Saturday, October 3, from 3-7 p.m., for the grand opening of Putnam & Vine on 39 East Elm Street off Greenwich Avenue. Help welcome the new wine and spirits shop, enjoy wine tastings, appetizers, music, a raffle and watch our State Rep Fred Camillio “cut the ribbon.” We hope you can join us. Please email me at betsykellerpr@gmail.com if you can attend.

    P.S. I just found your blog today and LOVE it. My boyfriend is from France and introducing me to the world of Bordeaux! I am from California originally…so finding a whole new wine experience fascinating.


    Betsy Keller

  1. September 11, 2010 at 12:48 am
  2. September 22, 2010 at 1:26 am
  3. August 16, 2021 at 3:28 am

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