The wine writer knows which bottles you should bring to brunch
Even if you haven’t read Marissa A Ross’s wine writing (and you should), maybe you’ve seen her on Instagram. The LA-based writer loads it with photos of her dancing dog, great music, and of course, wine. After getting started as a blogger, Ross wrote a book, Wine. All the Time.: The Casual Guide to Confident Drinking, and is now the wine editor at Bon Appetit, where she waxes poetic on topics like natural wines that taste as good as they look and how “orange” should be a color, not a category of wine. I chatted with Ross over email to learn more about her new podcast, The Ross Test (you’ll see), and the best wines to bring to brunch.
Extra Crispy: What did you have for breakfast today?
Marissa A. Ross: An avocado, a banana, some yogurt, a handful of potato chips, and a big glass of water. Gotta get that hydration in early.
Is that a typical morning meal for you?
I would say so. I'm not a big breakfast person, so I try to keep fruit and yogurt around because it's fast and easy. I work from home and am OCD and have to clean my house before I can work, so I dig portable foods. Like I can eat an apple while picking up the living room. I'm also known to eat leftovers for breakfast. My husband cooks like a maniac and is incredible at it, so there's usually something in Pyrex for me to munch on. Not as portable, but not not portable.
You’ve had a wine blog, Wine. All the Time, for years. In your blog and book you use attainable language (paired with technical wine knowledge) to talk about wine. Why did you start doing that?
It was never a conscious thing. I never planned on being a wine writer, so I just wrote about wine like I wrote about everything else. I was an aspiring comedy writer before wine became my life. I also wrote about music. Regardless of the topic, my writing style has always been very conversational and informal with wild and rambling—yet very specific—descriptions.
Can you explain the Ross Test to someone who has no idea what you do for a living?
The Ross Test is a pass or fail exam where you swig wine straight from the bottle. It's either good, or it's not. It started in my comedic web series Wine Time for Hello Giggles, where I would review wines under ten bucks. After going through the all the swirling and sniffing, at the very end, I would Ross Test it. But even that started before Wine Time because I lived with a hoarder-heroin addict-Craigslist hooker who had all our dishes in her room and I was scared of her, so I would hide in my room and just drink from the bottle. It was just always my thing, and apparently now it will truly always be my thing [laughs].
You have a new podcast! Can you tell me a bit about it?
Yeah! My good friend, Adam Vourvoulis, and I started our podcast Natural Disasters because we love natural wine and we're both deemed disasters by a lot of people in the wine industry [laughs]. Adam is a winemaker, and mememaker on Instagram, but also used to be a sommelier at some of Los Angeles' best restaurants. The point of it is to have conversations about natural wine to promote progress in the movement, to educate consumers, talk with winemakers, and have fun. It's still in its early stages and we're pod amateurs, but I think between Adam and myself, we have an opportunity to help natural wine progress in the industry and with consumers, especially with his background in service and my background in well, consuming [laughs].
If you were tasked with bringing two interesting wines to brunch, what would you bring?
I'd bring the Micro Mariotti "Smarazen" Bianco dell'Emila, a Trebbiano and Malvasia frizzante (aka lightly bubbling) blend from Italy. It's deliciously clean and refreshing, but with lots of white floral notes and slightly herbal. Just a good way to start the day. I'd also bring Lamoresca's Rosato—a rosé blend of Frappato and Moscato from Sicily that tastes like fluffy strawberry shortcake made of freesia and grapefruit. Super springy and fun, and everyone loves rosé so it's unique but still a crowd pleaser.
How would these bottles fare under the Ross Test?
Oh, they both pass. I've given them the test multiple times and they have always passed with an A+ and extra credit.