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Winning Wines by Shuford and Mary Helen Smith


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February 5, 2014

Mara died today. There are no words.


November 14, 2013

Unfortunately, due to serious medical problems, a new edition will not be forthcoming.


February 11, 2013

Below is a copy of our press release for our next event:

On Friday evening, February 15, there will be another Winning Wines booksigning at Hub City Bookshop in Spartanburg, SC. During this event, co-authors Ford and Mara Smith will present their 2013 edition of this popular book.

Each year, Ford Smith compiles data from the most prestigious, blind-taste-testing wine competitions. If a wine wins a medal in more than one competition, it’s a sign of consistency and makes the Winning Wines lists. One of many fans of the book says, “These lists enable wine buyers to be confident of a good-tasting bottle with every purchase.”

For this coming year, Smith has expanded his listings of 1,075 medal winners to include bottles that sell for $15 or less. Smith explains, “The rises in transportation costs have had quite an impact on wine prices.”

Other lists that are important to wine lovers include Best-Bang-for-the-Buck wines and for special occasions, a listing of medal-winners that scored 90 or more points – no matter the bottle’s price.

Ford Smith and his wife, Mara, have published ten other books, including titles for such publishing houses as McGraw-Hill and Globe Pequot Press. Their children’s book, ABC All-American Riddles, has won a national award. Their recent novel, Endangered, has earned a Readers Favorite 5-Star review. For additional information on these books, check out the couple’s websites:,,

The free event will begin at 7pm at Hub City Bookshop at 186 West Main Street in Spartanburg. Of course, the Smiths will inscribe copies of their $9.95 book, Winning Wines: Medal Winners for $15 or Less to wine lovers.

January 25, 2013

Since we are expecting an ice storm today, it’s the perfect time to mention a winning white wine - brrr. Most Chardonnay afficionados go for a buttery, creamy taste. But Chardonnays can also be made for a crisp finish (think Sauvignon Blanc) that can be very pleasant when paired with a heavy meal. One such entry scored well in Winning Wines, the 2009 Australian entry from Wyndham Estate. The judges gave it an outstanding score of 90; we designated it as a Best-Bang-for-the-Buck. It’s clean, dry - all in all a pleasant surprise, perfect with turkey.


January 17, 2013

On a recent trip to Greenville, SC, we visited a Publix and noticed their wine specials for the week. They had Concannon’s Glen Ellen line on sale for $6.99 for the 1.5L size (equivalent to $3.50 per bottle)! We looked up Glen Ellen in the current Winning Wines and discovered the 2009 Petite Sirah had a score of 89.5 and earned a Best-Bang-for-the-Buck designation. We grabbed a couple. Last night we tasted and added our approval of the judges’ rating. The wine is rich, full-bodied, and incredibly smooth.


January 4, 2013

Hope all had as much fun over the holidays as we did. One surprise was noticing an incredible deal in wine at Wal-Mart, of all places. The South Carolina stores ran Rex Goliath wines on sale for $3.47 per bottle! Six of their wines made the current edition of Winning Wines. We especially like the Cabernet Sauvignon with a score of 86.0 and at this price, it’s a steal.

Tell us of any special finds you discover in your area.


December 19, 2012

Our TV interview was a lot of fun as Megan Heidlberg is a terrific hostess. You can see it here.

December 7, 2012

We are pleased to announce two events this next week. From 5-8pm tonight (Friday, December 7), we will be signing all of our books, including Winning Wines, at The Garden Gallery (inside Thompson Landscaping), 83 Palmer Street, Tryon, NC during Tryon’s Christmas Stroll. Next Thursday, December 13, at 11:00am, Winning Wines will be featured live on Spartanburg’s WYCW. The show is “Carolina Now” – channel 62 or cable channel 9.

November 29, 2012

One of the joys we find when compiling Winning Wines is the discovery of a wine that scored well with the judges but was one we passed over in the past. Often, it is one of the common labels found in the lower-priced section. One such example is Woodbridge’s 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon which we purchased for $6.99 at a local grocery store. It received a solid score of 87.0, so we gave it a try. We found a full taste with notes of complexity, unusual at this price level. Good job, judges — a delightful find.

November 20, 2012

Thanksgiving is only a couple of days away, so what wine do you use to go with the traditional bird? Since most of these feasts center around a roast turkey, complete with stuffing and other rich side dishes, a crisp white is perfect to balance the palate. Our current favorite from the Winning Wines list is Concannon’s 2010 Sauvignon Blanc (about $10). The judges also scored two box wines highly: Target’s Wine Cube 2010 Sauvignon and Black Box’s 2011 Sauvignon — so, you have several affordable choices for this festive holiday.


November 7, 2012

Over the past week, we’ve been able to try two Zinfandels that achieved a Best-Bang-for-the Buck notation in the current edition of Winning Wines. The first, Gnarley Head’s 2010 Old Vine Zin, retails for about $12 and achieved an incredible score of 92.3. Its flavors open up with decanting (or swirling) and the complexity grows — no wonder the judges were impressed. With a score 90.3, commonplace Sutter Home’s 2010 Zin offers amazing value at about $6 per bottle. It’s solid and smooth with a clean aftertaste.

Probably, our next blog entry will be before Thanksgiving depending on a busy schedule.


October 30, 2012

On Friday, October 26, we celebrated the release of the paperback version of Winning Wines with a “Wine & Sign” at La Bouteille Wine & Beer Boutique in Tryon, NC. The owner, Shelly Block, picked four wines from the book for tasting: Concannon’s 2011 Sauvignon Blanc, Five Rivers’ 2010 Chardonnay, Line 39's 2010 Petite Sirah, and Zinfatuation’s 2010 Zinfandel. We’ll have more about their characteristics -- but all were appreciated by an enthusiastic crowd.


October 4, 2012

It’s taken a bit of work, but the new edition of Winning Wines is available in paperback and e-book editions. The main change is revising the price qualification from $12 to $15. Wine prices have risen a bit over the last twelve months mainly due to increased transportation costs.

Hope you enjoy the new offering.


For older blog entries, click here.


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