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Thursday
Apr172014

Easter Wine Recommendations 

Easter is this weekend and I'll be honest that for me, Easter, is less about religion and more about Cadbury eggs and mimosas. Truth. Is. Out. 

Regardless of how you choose to celebrate here a few wine recommendations for your upcoming feast of savory and/or sweets: 

  • If you plan to prepare and enjoy a lamb dish, I recommend pairing it with a Tempranillo or Malbec. Both wines have great acid to cut through the meaty texture and have enough spice and boldness to accommodate the bold flavors of both the meat and planned accoutrements. 
  • If you plan to prepare a glazed ham, I recommend pairing it with a Riesling, Grenache, Pinot Noir or Merlot. The stone fruit and touch of sweetness in the Riesling will accent all the flavors of the glaze and the sharp acidity will cut through rich meat. With the red wines, the sweet glaze will also be complimented with fruit flavors of cheery, plum and red berries often found in all three red wines. The acid will again, help to cut through the succulent meat and
  • Sparkling wine and/or mimosas go with everything....duh.
  • If you plan on gorging on candy and candy only, I recommend a Port or Madeira to accompany. It's all about the sweetness baby! 

Wishing you a very happy and delicious Easter. 

 Santé!

If you have a favorite Easter or springtime wine, I would love to hear about it in the comments below. 

Tuesday
Apr082014

10 Tips for Planning a Wine Tasting Trip

Originally published on Tablehopper.

The romance and allure of the wine industry is often what draws wine drinkers to plan weekend trips to Wine Country and sip the days away in tasting rooms. I’ve spent a significant amount of my working professional life in winery tasting rooms, which has allowed me to geek out on soil types, rootstocks, average rainfall, and clones, and has also led to many laughs (nothing compares with experiencing Pat Sajak’s cheesy jokes firsthand). I also love watching a guest experience his first aha moment, when he connects the dots between the vineyard and what’s in the glass by tasting specific characteristics of a grape for the first time.

These moments are all among the highs, but unfortunately it isn’t always as elegant and dreamy as you might imagine. These exhilarating experiences are often interspersed with desolate moments that have made me unsure about the human race.

Having experienced a guest spit gum into my hand so they can better taste the wine is, unfortunately, not the most repulsive experience I’ve had. Tracking down guests who have disappeared to the tank room to “ferment” their love, if you will, was rather distasteful but so was serving as a backsplash for a guest insistent on knowing if the spit buckets were from Ikea by flipping the mélange of wine and saliva upside down. True stories. And then there is always that guy who likes to tell me the history of the wine industry because he saw the movie Sideways.

The allure of the wine industry may seem to stretch a little further than my liking but then that’s just it—the real story being told is how wine brings people together from all walks of life. So as much as these stories may have you questioning why anyone would ever work at a winery, the passion lies with connecting people with a product that has the ability to be the center of celebrations and many stories to come. That is a powerful romance you don’t fight, but embrace.

So unless you want to become a gum-chewing, cracker-spewing, flipping-the-dump-bucket drunk, I’d like to share my 10 tips for making your day of wine tasting the best it can be for all involved.

  1. No gum, perfume, or cologne. Wine goes great with food but doesn’t make a great pairing for gum, perfume, and/or cologne, which can easily dominate the flavors and aromas in wine and affect the tasters around you.

  2. Use dump buckets. It really doesn’t matter if they are from Ikea or not, I recommend making use of these. Life is too short to drink bad wine—spit out the wine if you don’t like it or if you’re feel a little tipsy. Using dump buckets can slow the pace down while you still get all the flavor.

  3. Learn: ask questions of your tasting room associate. If you don’t understand something, ask for further explanations. If the associate is anything like me, she will be more than happy to impart all her wine knowledge.

  4. Come prepared with water and snacks. The majority of wineries do not provide food or allow for picnics on their property, so bring food to fend off the munchies.

  5. Plan for a lunch stop along your wine route. See no. 4.

  6. Make appointments ahead of time. This is a great way to get a private tasting and personalized attention from trained wine professionals.

  7. Pick one geographic location and stay there. Don’t try to cover multiple regions or appellations in one day. Select a few wineries that are close to one another.

  8. Hire a car or plan for a driver. Drinking and driving will get you sent straight to the slammer, a hefty fine, and the loss of your driver’s license. Just don’t do it. Be smart, plan ahead.

  9. Know and accept that you can’t do it all. Plan to visit three or four wineries in a day. You can expect to taste, on average, about five wines at each winery. If you’re not making use of the dump buckets, the amount of wine you will drink can add up fast.

  10. Have beer on hand at home. Nothing is more refreshing at the end of a long day of wine tasting than an ice-cold beer.

With these tips in mind, wine tasting is more than just an excuse to day drink. It’s a lot like trying on shoes: you get to try on something new, and decide if you love or hate it. I just ask that you don’t leave basic etiquette at the door. But please, by all means, feel free to snap a selfie in the vineyards on the way out.

Santé!

Tuesday
Apr012014

The Calling - Get Your Pinot and Chard On

Ok, here's a moment of honesty: When I first saw this brand, I thought it was sleek, especially with the heavier bottles, but the name is completely cheesy. "The Calling," sounds like a sci-fi mystery or Star Wars movie welcoming me to the dark side. I am most likely a princess in the court of the dark side, however, this is not my genre of entertainment, which made me roll my eyes at the label....almost.   

One of the things I LOVE about wine is that it brings people together. The story behind "The Calling," is no exception. Once I read more, I came to understand the impactful meaning behind the name. Peter Deutsch and Jim Nantz had the random fate of meeting at a restaurant through mutual friends. Nantz, is an Emmy winning sportscaster while Deutsch is a wine industry marketing and operations guru. Both had been greatly influenced by their fathers and had followed their independent passions in both sports and wine. The two hit it off immediately shared similar values their fathers had installed and decided to partner on a wine venture for follow their true calling

I had high expectations for the Pinot and Chardonnay because a) I'm obsessed with Pinot and b) It has Dutton Ranch on both labels. The fruit coming from this vineyard in the Russian River Valley in Sonoma is rather outstanding. So if they messed that up, this would be a much angrier blog post. However, they rocked it. A bold, rich pinot with loads of cherry, mushroom flavors and slight baking spice. This is a great pinot to drink on its own or with food such as Salmon or heavier fish dishes.

The chardonnay follows suit in being rich, layered with flavors and mouth-feel without being buttery and oaky with a strong fruit focus and slight minerality. Also a great wine for pairing with salads, cream based dishes and lighter stews.

This wine embodies everyone's wish to follow their heart and make a living from what we love. So when you open a bottle, take a sip and appreciate all that you have accomplished and all that you hope to accomplish. 

Furthermore, if you had a wine to name, what would it be and why? Post your answers below in the comments. 

To learn more about The Calling and to purchase these wines, visit their website.

Santé!

 

Tuesday
Mar042014

Upcoming Event 3/9 - 12th Annual Pinot Noir Summit

My obsession for Pinot Noir is about to be indulged in a big way. This weekend I am SO excited to be participating as a "celebrity Sommelier" for the 12th Annual Pinot Noir summit this weekend in San Francisco!

This is the second year I will be participating and I invite all of you to attend! I will be helping to facilitate the blind tasting so grab your tickets: 

Tickets:

SPECIAL OFFER: 20% off with promo code: SFPinot

Buy Now

Learn more about the Pinot Noir Summit:

See you there wine lovers! 

Santé!

Wednesday
Jan292014

Dress up Your Superbowl Party - Food & Wine Pairings for Game Day

The Super Bowl excitment is officailly on and just because the dress code is causal, doesn't mean your game day snacks need to be. Don't get me wrong, beer in cans and pizza have their place, but Super Bowl only happens once a year. Class up your Sunday Funday with these easy recipes and wine pairings:

Baby Brie & Crab Appetizer

Being that it is crab season, no party is complete without it. I am a huge fan of crab, partially, because it pairs so well with other obsessions: brie and sparkling wine! I recommend pairing this with Chandon's Brut Classic, $17.

Truffle Popcorn

Anyone who knows me, knows I love popcorn! You can bet that if truffle popcorn appears on a menu, I order it. Same goes for the wines made by Calera. I recommend their 2011 Chardonnay, $20 to round out this pairing. 

Crispy Garlic-Sage Potatoes

Similar to garlic fries, only no fryer is required. These potatoes will have you popping 'em quickly. I recommend a Merlot to match the strength of the garlic and to compliment the sage. Try Schug's 2007 Merlot, $27. 

 

Got a food & wine pairings making touchdowns at your party? I would love to hear more, please share in the comments below or on Facebook or Twitter.

Putting the finishing touches on your party or need help planning last minute? Don't forget I offer party planning consulting phone calls for $25. More info here.

Santé!