9 podcasts that prove the Bay Area is a food and wine mecca

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9 podcasts that prove the Bay Area is a food and wine mecca

Joe and Carmele Mele host The Wine Pair, a podcast in which they taste and discuss affordable wines, defined as those priced under $20 per bottle. (Photo courtesy Mikey Mele.)

From murderous wine country scandals to a classic guacamole recipe, soda wars, “Top Chef” contestants and vegan cheesemaking — there are so many stories out there about how Northern California is a hub for food and wine drama, innovation and more.

Here are nine podcasts that will teach you something new about the food and wine world and about the Bay Area’s role within it.

The Wine Pair podcast, co-hosted by Joe and Carmela Mele, brings listeners in with their approachable discussions about wine and wine-tasting. (Art courtesy Joe Mele.)

The Wine Pair

Listen when: You want to learn about wine from a down-to-earth and budget-friendly perspective.

The details: Joe and Carmela Mele, a Seattle-based couple, discuss, taste and review three “reasonably priced” wines – defined as under $20 per bottle – in each episode. The parents of three adult children, the couple started the podcast as something to do together on the cusp of empty-nester life.

“Wine has always been a part of our family,” says Carmela. “In our family, wine is the fifth food group.”

The podcast highlights wines that offer a high QPR – quality to price ratio – and introduces listeners to new wines from an approachable perspective, working to demystify different wines for people who don’t necessarily consider themselves wine experts but are interested in learning more.

The Meles’ approachable wine commentary uses familiar terms to describe the wines they taste, preferring commonplace descriptors over pretentious-sounding ones. They’ll say that a wine has flavors like Dove soap, Martinelli’s sparkling apple juice or Twizzlers, rather than that it carries notes of quince or cassis, Joe explains.

“If it tastes like an apple pie, that’s OK,” he says.

For their Halloween episode, for instance, they discussed which wines they’d pair with which mainstream candy varieties — and which scary movies.

The local connection: While their $20 per bottle price limit keeps some high-end Northern California wines off the podcast, they’ve sampled a number of Napa, Sonoma and Lodi wines within their budget that have ranked among their favorites. These include Napa’s Three by Wade Chenin Blanc, featured in episode 19, Sonoma’s Piper Sonoma Brut from episode 34 and Sonoma’s Blood Root Pinot Noir from episode 72, while episodes 49 and 55 feature Northern California wines exclusively.

Find it: thewinepairpodcast.com

Jesse Sparks, the host of the podcast “The One Recipe” by The Splendid Table, asks guests to share a single recipe that continues to resonate with them. (Courtesy The Splendid Table.)

The One Recipe

“The One Recipe,” a podcast by The Splendid Table hosted by Jesse Sparks, asks renowned chefs and leaders in the food world to share their stories — and “the one recipe” they find themselves returning to. (Art courtesy The Splendid Table.)

Listen when: You want to try a celebrity chef’s go-to recipe.

The details: Hosted by food journalist Jesse Sparks, this podcast by The Splendid Table at American Public Media involves short interviews with chefs and food media figures from around the world. Each episode includes a bite-sized interview and invites the guest to share “the one recipe” – one that they find themselves returning to regularly or that they have a particularly strong connection with – with listeners, along with personal stories.

The local connection: Sparks has interviewed a wide range of food celebrities and chefs from all over the U.S., but to hear from Bay Area folks, check out the interviews with chef Pierre Thiam to hear about his aunt Marie’s sauce feuille recipe, or the episode with Food52 founding editor and Peninsula food writer Kristen Miglore to hear her recipe for Roberto Santibañez’s classic guacamole. Learn how to make San Francisco food writer Kristina Cho’s cocktail buns, San Francisco Chronicle cultural critic Soleil Ho’s scallion oil or Santa Cruz cookbook author Andrea Nguyen’s Nuoc Cham dipping sauce.

Find it: splendidtable.org/theonerecipe.

Tom Haberstroh and Kevin Arnovitz, co-hosts of the podcast “Pack Your Knives” attend a Top Chef event in June. (Courtesy Tom Haberstroh)

Pack Your Knives

Pack Your Knives, a podcast by sports analysts Tom Haberstroh and Kevin Arnovitz, breaks down episodes of the TV show Top Chef. (Courtesy Tom Haberstroh.)

Listen when: You’re a “Top Chef” junkie and want someone to break down each episode like it’s an NBA game.

The details: Led by sports analysts Kevin Arnovitz and Tom Haberstroh, this podcast applies its hosts’ sports analysis skill sets to the “Top Chef” universe. They interview contestants, discuss what’s happening in the food and restaurant industry and break down each episode of the show.

The local connection: This year’s “Top Chef” — the London-set season 20 — didn’t feature Bay Area chefs, but season 19 of the Bravo franchise included contestants Robert Hernandez of San Francisco and Monique Feybesse of Vallejo. (Feybesse, who runs Tarts de Feybesse with her husband, Paul, sells pastries throughout the Bay.)

Find it: Pack Your Knives.

Tinfoil Swans

Listen when: You want to hear in-depth conversations with renowned chefs.

The details: This new Food & Wine podcast is hosted by Food & Wine executive features editor Kat Kinsman. It features in-depth conversations with well-known chefs including Guy Fieri, Mashama Bailey and Antoni Porowski. Kinsman asks thoughtful questions that probe each chef’s childhood, influences, motivations and more.

The local connection: The first episode features an interview with Fieri, who talks about his childhood growing up in the small Northern California community of Ferndale. The restaurateur and Food Network star recounts how his mom taped a “Please Don’t Feed Me” sign to his childhood T-shirts, because he was so successful at convincing out-of-town visitors to buy him cookies and ice cream.  From there, he describes his path forward from working as a flambé captain to studying in France, rising to chef stardom and pursuing philanthropic work to support restaurants during the pandemic.

Find it: Tinfoil Swans

“The Gastropod” podcast co-hosts Nicola Twilley and Cynthia Graber met as food journalism fellows at U.C. Berkeley.  Several podcast episodes feature food stories from the Bay Area. (Photo courtesy Kathi Bahr.)

The Gastropod

Listen when: You want to nerd out about the intersection of food, history and science.

The details: Co-hosted by Cynthia Graber and Nicola Twilley, the Gastropod leans into the wild and fascinating details around various aspects of food culture. It is part of the Vox Media Podcast Network in partnership with Eater.

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