Culture / Foodie Events

Wine Talk: Mixing It Up* with Jeremy Parzen,* an Ambassador of Italy

BY // 07.22.15

I love to talk about wine with people who share my passion for it. We open bottles, and we trade stories about travel and winemakers and terroir and residual sugar, and we talk of taste and food pairings and cost. We recommend wines to one another, and we drink, and we learn a lot. In Wine Talk, I will introduce you to some of my friends and acquaintances — individuals who love wine as much as I do, who live to taste and learn about it. You’ll appreciate their insight, and I hope you’ll learn something from them as well.

Jeremy Parzen is an evangelist for all things Italy. He has been writing about the country and its wines for nearly two decades, and works as an independent marketing consultant with Italian wineries. I first met him at Tony’s in 2013 during a wine dinner, and have shared many a conversation with him on a range of topics as diverse as jazz, Primo Levi and sweetbreads. We share a passion for New York, travel and, of course, wine, and I love hearing his opinions and stories. He relocated to Texas in 2008 from California to marry an East Texan and has worked for the Vallone Restaurant Group as its media director since then. He resides in the Westbury neighborhood of Houston with daughters Georgia and Lila and his wife, Tracie. He blogs at, a regular destination of mine.

2012 Domaine Bru-Bache Jurancon Sec


Tell me about three wines that are drinking well at the moment. What makes them worthwhile? How about a food pairing for each?

Currently, we’re drinking a lot of Balandran Costières de Nîmes Les Mugues Rosé and Bru-Baché Jurançon Sec, two wines that you can find at the Houston Wine Merchant for less than $20. Summertime brings weekly Texas basil pesto and tangy tomato sauces for pasta at our house, and so these fresh, dry and acidity-driven wines are ideal for the flavors of the season. Our current house red and go-to wine for pairing with grilled meats is the Montepulciano d’Abruzzo by Cirelli, also under $20 at the Houston Wine Merchant. It’s grapey and fresh and an ideal red to chill this time of year.

(Photo by Jeremy Parzen)
(Photo by Jeremy Parzen)

Let’s say that cost is no consideration: What’s the one bottle you would add to your personal collection?
Krug 1996 Champagne. Astounding year for champagne and a wine I could never afford, although I have had the opportunity to taste it on a couple of occasions. The apotheosis of great vintage-dated champagne.

What is your favorite grape? And why?
Piedmont is my signora, but Burgundy is my mistress. It really depends on the day and the occasion. But mostly, I collect Nebbiolo for its supreme expression of earthiness and fruit, and for its relative affordability.

How about one bottle that our readers should buy now to cellar for 10 years in anticipation of celebrating a birth, anniversary or other red-letter day?
Barolo and Barbaresco are your best bet and best value for cellar-worthy wines. Aside from 2003, there’s really not been a “bad” or challenging vintage for growers there. The 2006 Barbaresco is drinking great right now, for example.

What is the one thing you wish everyone would keep in mind when buying and drinking wine?
Wine should taste like fruit, not like wood. And acidity is your best friend.

Besides your own establishment, where is your go-to place when you want to have a glass or bottle?
. It’s where the wine trade hangs out, \ so it’s always a social event for me there. Great list, however eccentric it may be.

Montalcino: There's good grapes and wild boar in these hills. (Photo by Eric Huybrechts)
Montalcino: There’s good grapes and wild boar in these hills. (Photo by Eric Huybrechts)

What was your “wine eureka moment” — the incident/taste/encounter that put you and wine on an intimate plane forever?
That most definitely was a homegrown Sangiovese and gooey fried wild boar liver on a very sexy and sultry summer evening in Montalcino.

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