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The Holidays: Wine Pairing Suggestions

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Whitehall Lane Winery has several suggestions for keeping holiday meal planning and wine selection stress free!

whitehall-lane-winery-wine-bottle-medley.jpg(1) Don't Interfere
Select wines with low tannins that won't make the mouth pucker (like biting a banana peel) and overpower the meal. Avoid big, buttery chardonnays and young cabernet, syrah and petite sirah that can have a lot of bite. Light-to-medium reds, such as pinot noir, Beaujolais, Burgundy and tempranillo, rosés, and steel-casked whites mix well with abundant holiday meals.

Select a wine that complements the sauce.
The darker the sauce, the darker the wine. Giblet gravy is great with a savory white while a well-aged red brings out the flavor in red-wine and red meat sauces.

(2) Consider Audience
Is the table full of foodies who love to experiment or Aunt Opal who has an opinion on everything? Always consider whether or not your guests like to stick to the tried and true or if they're willing to experiment with something new.

(3) Don't Break the Bank
Both quality and quantity are important. Keep in mind that there are many high-quality, reasonably priced wines out there and the professionals at your local wine store or favorite winery online shop can help you stay on budget while also helping you find everything you need to impress your guests.

(4) Go Big!
Big bottles, such as magnums, three-liter and six-liter bottles, are ideal for holiday meals. Many people are intimidated by big bottles but they're great for budget-conscious consumers looking to save time and money while at the wine store or favorite winery. It will leave your guests feeling impressed and you feeling like you hit a home-run.

Click Here to read the full post.

Get in the Spirit of Giving This Holiday Season

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Each fall and winter season many of businesses in wine country join the holiday spirit and donate portions of their proceeds to local charities or host food banks drives. You can help AND make your dollar go farther just by purchasing wine from a participating winery or donating a can of food. See below for more details on how you can support and give back this holiday season!

kenwoodVineyards_foodBank.jpgKenwood Vineyards
Kenwood Vineyards has already started their holiday campaign to help put food on the table of every American. Help them support this worthy cause!

They will donate a percentage of sales to a local food bank, Redwood Empire Food Bank, in Sonoma County. Click Here for more info.

To encourage individual generosity to food banks across the country, Kenwood Vineyards' call to action will be highlighted on point-of-sales materials provided to retailers throughout the holidays. Coupons (where legal) for one dollar off Kenwood Vineyards wines will be offered and a shelf talker will invite consumers to support their local food banks. Kenwood will also be sending the same message to its many friends and fans via social media as the holidays approach.

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Westin Verasa Napa: Annual Banksgiving

westinVerasaNapa_foodbank.jpgThroughout the month of November, BANK Café and Bar at The Westin Verasa Napa, invites the public to participate in a canned food drive titled "Banksgiving." In the spirit of giving back this holiday season, the two Napa branches of Mechanics Bank will generously match $1 per donated can, with 100 percent of food and funds donated to Community Action Napa Valley Food Bank (CANV). For every can donated, donors will receive a certificate with a percentage off of their meal, up to 10 percent to either BANK Café and Bar or La Toque, The Westin Verasa's Michelin-starred restaurant by Chef Ken Frank.  CLICK HERE for more info.

Donation barrels will be displayed in the hotel's lobby in front of BANK Cafe and Bar.
(1314 McKinstry Street, Napa, CA 94559)

Uncork The Thanksgiving Wines

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Press Release

thanksgivingDinnerSpread.jpgThanksgiving is almost upon us, which means now is the time to select wines for the big feast. Fortunately, choosing wines that pair deliciously with Thanksgiving dinner can be quick and easy; all you need do is let your dinner and your preferences be your guide.

The traditional Thanksgiving dinner encompasses a range of flavors: rich, herbal, sweet and creamy. Wines that handle such diversity best are those that complement or accentuate, but don't overpower. The key is moderation; less - in terms of power, alcohol, tannin and oak - is actually more in achieving scrumptious Thanksgiving wine matches. And because Thanksgiving is a truly American holiday, it deserves to be celebrated with American wines.

Those who love white wines have a few choices when it comes to making a stellar Thanksgiving wine match. One is a vibrant Chardonnay with just a hint of oak character that echoes the richness of Thanksgiving dishes, such as the 2012 Kenwood Vineyards Sonoma County Chardonnay. Another is a medium-bodied, unoaked Sauvignon Blanc with fruit and herb character to enhance the foods' flavors. The 2012 Kenwood Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc captures this style perfectly, as do other unoaked Sauvignon Blancs from Sonoma, Mendocino and Lake Counties. The last is a fresh, fruity off-dry Pinot Gris, Riesling or Gewurztraminer that lets the food shine and refreshes the palate. The hard-to-find 2012 Kenwood Vineyards Russian River Valley Pinot Gris is one option, but there are plenty more from cool vineyard regions across the United States. 

Flora Springs: Newest Ghost Winery Bottling of Petite Verdot

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There's nothing more frightening than an empty wine glass!

Every year, right around Halloween, Flora Springs Winery conjures up the ghosts of spirits past with their one-of-a-kind Ghost Winery bottling. This unique varietal celebrates their century old "ghost winery" that was built in 1885 and carefully renovated by Flora and Jerry Komes in 1977.

flora-springs-ghost-winery-coffin-bottle-set.jpgThis year, their newest Ghost Winery bottling of Petite Verdot will officially be released on October 31st, but you can order ahead and in time for your Halloween festivities (must order by October 24th!) See the various sppoktacular specials below!

2011 Ghost Winery Petite Verdot Case & Poster
Purchase a case (12 bottles) of 2011 Ghost Winery Petite Verdot and receive a complimentary limited-edition collectible label poster (a $20 value, while supplies last) and for the month of October-- shipping is included!

2011 Ghost Winery Petite Verdot Box Set
Includes a bottle of 2011 Ghost Winery Petite Verdot and our one-of-a-kind Ghost Winery Coffin Box - perfect for gift-giving or to put on display at your Halloween party or in your wine cellar.

Ghost Winery 2-Bottle Box Set
This year, we've created the Ghost Winery 2-Bottle Box Set to offer the few bottles of last year's release -- 2011 Ghost Winery Syrah -- we've been carefully storing in our cellar. Very limited availability. Have fun tasting these two very different releases side-by-side!

Ghost Winery Accessories
Shop a variety of spooktacular Ghost Winery accessories, perfect for the Ghost Winery collector or as that special finishing touch at your Halloween party.

Treat Your Sweetheart!

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Napa Valley wineries - Sterling Vineyards and Cliff Family Winery -  have you covered for Valentine's Day this year. See their sweet line-up of wine gifts perfect for that special someone in your life!

SterlingVineyards_RomanceGiftSet.jpgSterling Vineyards
Give your loved one the very best with two of Sterling Vineyard's premium Reserve wines! The buttery 2009 Reserve Chardonnay is the perfect companion for heart-warming wintertime comfort foods. Or try the 2009 Platinum Reserve, which scored a superb 92 points from the Wine Enthusiast for its expertly balanced boldness. Complete with a lovely red gift box and personalized message, these extravagant wines will make the perfect gift this Valentine's Day! Shipping deadlines are fast approaching so put in your order as soon as possible! (East Coast Orders - Feb 3rd, West Coast Orders - Feb 7th)  ORDER NOW

Visiting Napa Valley for Valentine's Day/Weekend? Enjoy excellent wines and amazing views at Sterling Vineyards! Indulge in complimentary hand-crafted chocolates paired with our delectable port-style Zinfandel available at the winery on February 9th, 10th, and 14th. Learn More.


Chandon for New Year's Eve Toast!

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chandon_NewYearsEve.jpgIf you can't attend Domaine Chandon's Sparkling Gala this year for New Year's Eve, not to fret; check out their recommendations for hosting a Chandon-style soiree at home!

1. Start the night a Chandon Sidecar: Begin with this brandy-based, citrus-infused cocktail classic, made distinctive with some sparkling flourishes and sure to please your guests. Click here for recipe.


2. Every good party needs a soundtrack, so try creating a playlist of your favorite songs from the past year. It'll infuse the celebration with your unique personality and is a nostalgic, toe-tapping way to send off the year.


3. Make it a magnum: Always a popular option to keep the bubbles flowing on New Year's Eve, a magnum of Chandon Brut Classic is both economically and conversationally effective. One magnum equals two regular-sized (750ml) bottles of wine.

CLICK HERE for more creative pointers for hosting a successful New Year's Eve party!

Don't forget to relax and enjoy your guests, look forward to what the new year may hold and don't forget the midnight kiss!



TastingRoom.com: It's Vino Nirvana

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tastingRoom_2girlsDrinkingWine.jpgIf you enjoy the finer things in life (and who doesn't?), then you'll love this innovative new way to enjoy fine wine. TastingRoom.com takes the risk out of online wine purchasing by allowing you to try before you buy. Whether it's by the taste, by the glass or by the bottle, we let you enjoy wine the way you want it.

Our Wine Samplers let you line 'em up, six great wines side by side, and you're the judge and the jury. Each Sampler consists of six tastes (50ml) of different wines based on varietal, region or food pairing ability. Pick your favorite wines from each Sampler and then go online to order full-sized bottles of them to drink now or store for future consumption.

Our Super Flights™ take the Wine Sampler one step further: you or your giftee can sample six wines and then pick the top two to be delivered to their doorstep at no extra cost. It's that easy.

tastingRoom_PerfectHolidayWinesRed_superflight.jpgBut what if you don't want to open a full bottle? Say it's a Tuesday night, you're home alone and you want just one glass of wine (we've all been there, right?). Our innovative Wines by the Glass allow you to enjoy a single glass of wine whenever you like. Mix and match multiple Wines by the Glass and order by the 6-pack or by the case. Either way, you get great taste and no waste. Genius.

If you want to give a gift that keeps on giving, give a membership to our Wine Club, so your gift recipient can discover wines they love on a regular basis. It's the only club that lets you choose the wines you receive, so you're sure to get something you love every time. It's waaaay better than a book club.

TastingRoom.com takes the whining out of wine shopping. No more battling the crowds at your local liquor shop or asking for help from uneducated staff. In our Wine Shop, you get to choose from hundreds of wines by producers from all of the major winegrowing regions in the world. That's what we call vino Nirvana.

* Must be 21 or older to make a purchase.

Holiday Greetings from Flora Springs Winery

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Flora Springs Winery has created a whimsical twist on the "Twas the night before. . ." starring third generation family member, Nat Komes. Watch the video below:



In celebration of the holidays, Flora Springs Winery is offering a special price on case purchases of their 2009 Trilogy (their flagship wine), that includes shipping*. Offer ends December 31, 2012.

2009 Trilogy Holiday Case Special

  • Retail Price: $900/Case ($75/Bottle)
  • Special Price: $576/Case ($48/Bottle)
+ shipping included!

CLICK HERE to buy now!


Merlot Masters the Thanksgiving Wine Challenge

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thanksgivingDinnerSpread.jpgThanksgiving is almost here and with it the challenge of selecting a wine to go with the Thanksgiving feast. So what red wine will complement the turkey, the stuffing, the cranberry sauce and the other traditional Thanksgiving dishes? The surprising answer is Merlot.

Merlot's character and style pair deliciously with most Thanksgiving dishes. Generous fruit and modest structure enable Merlot to match the flavor of the turkey without overwhelming it, as powerful reds like Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah do, or being overwhelmed by it, as often happens with delicate reds like Pinot Noir. The fresh, ripe raspberry and black cherry fruit of Merlot echoes cranberry sauce's bright fruit, and the smooth style of Merlot works well with both turkey stuffing and Thanksgiving side dishes.

KenwoodVineyardsMerlot.jpgSonoma County produces outstanding Merlots and Kenwood Vineyards Merlots combine Sonoma County quality, fine value and ready availability. The Kenwood Vineyards Sonoma County Merlot's forward fruit and polished texture make it ideal for Thanksgiving. For those who prefer a Merlot with a bit more concentration and structure, the Kenwood Vineyards Jack London Vineyard Merlot - from the famed author's Beauty Ranch overlooking Sonoma Valley - would be a tasty Thanksgiving choice.

As one would expect of a winery with wines worthy of Thanksgiving, Kenwood Vineyards also knows about Thanksgiving foods. Kenwood Vineyards Chef Robin Lehnhoff-McCray suggests this flavorful Thanksgiving side dish to accompany the turkey.



1976 Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon

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chMontelena_Blog_1976Cab.jpgChateau Montelena makes some wonderful Napa Valley wines. If you've been saving some of their Cabs for a special occasion and wondering how they are holding up in your wine cellar, read what one of Chateau Montelena's customer's recently said about their 1976 Cabernet Saugvignon . . .

"Last night I had a small dinner at my home in Healdsburg, CA, in order to honor a friend, and to try out some Napa "Cult" Cabs I had assembled.  Screaming Eagle, Harlan Estate, Bryant Family etc.... But the most amazing surprise was a 1976 Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon North Coast ... wow! 

Whoever made that wine should be very proud, it's drinking wonderfully, even after 35+ years!  Please give my regards to the Barretts and anyone else who had a hand in that very fine bottling. What a pleasure, I'm a winemaker myself, and I just had one of the best wines I've ever had. Bravo!
"

Read more at the Chateau Montelena Blog.




Summer Wine and the Living is Easy

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We're already a full week into summer and what better way to enjoy the weather then with a glass of "light, crisp, and refreshing" wine. Winemaker Cameron Parry from Chateau Montelena Winery makes some recommendations on his favorites and possible wine and food pairings.

chMontelena_Blog_SummerWine.jpgExcerpt from Blog Post:
So what is a "summer wine?"  Well, the snarky (but accurate) answer is that a "summer wine" is whatever happens to be in your glass from June 20th to September 21st.  However, most of the time we're talking about anything that is light, crisp, and refreshing - a wine that can benefit from a bit of time in the refrigerator (or even - *gasp* - the occasional ice-cube in the glass). For me, most often that means Sauvignon Blanc nice and frosty right out of the 'fridge . . . Close runners-up for summer time R&R are Riesling and Rosie . . .

Try the Riesling with some Memphis style ribs - you'll be pleasantly surprised; the Sauv Blanc, on the other hand, is a great match for barbequed oysters.   As far as the Rosie goes, it is a small production Rosé of Zinfandel that is great with grilled pork chops. 

Now, don't worry, I'm not leaving out the Chardonnay, and no it is not 4th place on my summer (or any other) list, but it is far too versatile to be pigeon-holed as a "summer wine."

CLICK HERE to read entire post.

The Father's Day Wine Gifting Guide

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lakeSonomaWinery.jpgFather's Day is the one day of the year we thank dads for everything they do. It takes a special man to be a dad and a well-chosen Father's Day gift shows him just how much he is appreciated. Few Father's Day gifts are savored as much as a bottle of fine wine and with a little forethought, selecting the perfect wine for dad's special day can be a snap.

Consider the dad receiving the gift - his personality, his style and his preferences. Whether he is an occasional wine drinker or a wine aficionado, his fundamental nature should guide your wine selection. Wine is all about pleasure and the best Father's Day wine gift will be the one that gives your particular dad the most pleasure.

Then pick the wine. No need to stress; your instincts are sure to be right. And giving wine is easy - no sizes to consider, no assembly required, no potential obsolescence and only three colors from which to choose!


Auction Napa Valley - Bid on E-Auction Lots

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Auction Napa Valley starts today! (May 31 - June 2nd) and features four glorious days of incredible wine and food at locations throughout Napa Valley. Didn't make it this year?! Not to worry, you can still experience a part of Auction Napa Valley through the E-Auction Lots. Explore and bid on unique lots that include exclusive collections of Napa Valley wines, vintner-hosted events, and luxury items.

See some of the amazing lots from our Club Breathe Partners.


Lot #302 - Peju Province Winery
Peju Heavenly Adventure
Enjoy a private tour and tasting followed by a delicious gourmet picnic for 6 people hosted in the exquisite winery estate gardens of Peju Winery. Your successful bid also includes: a case of 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, a case of 2010 Cabernet Franc, Napa Valley, a signed 3L bottle of 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley and 2 tickets to the Peju Winery Harvest Tasting & Vineyard Dinner.

auctionNV12_DiageoWineries.jpgLot #312 - Acacia Vineyard, Beaulieu Vineyard, Hewitt Vineyard, Provenance Vineyard, and Sterling Vineyards
The All Star Team - A Dominating line up of Red... and Gold
The most powerful reds in Napa Valley paired with the mighty Red & Gold--the San Francisco 49ers--for a special team blow out!  Lot includes 6 bottles of Napa Valley wine, 4 tickets to gala, 4 VIP tickets to 49ers home game, 4 pregame field passes, and 2 signed footballs.

Lot #314 - Hess Collection Winery
Mount Veeder Magic
Experience the magic of Mount Veeder as you join Hess Collection Winemaker Dave Guffy for a tour of mountain vineyards, stopping to enjoy incredible views with wine selections crafted from the very vineyard blocks you're visiting. Lot includes 13 bottles of Napa Valley wine, Dinner & Tour for 8, Wine club membership, and Book.

Lot #315 - St. Supéry Estate Vineyards & Winery

Dollarhide Estate Vineyard Round-Up
St. Supéry Estate Vineyards & Winery invites you and eleven guests to join CEO Emma Swain and winemaker Michael Scholz for an exciting half day at our gorgeous Dollarhide estate vineyard. Lot includes 25 bottles of Napa Valley, Tour and Lunch for 12, and  . . .

New Season, New Wines

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chMontelenaLabel.jpgSubmitted by Chateau Montelena

Now that we've officially kicked off the beginning of a new season here at Chateau Montelena, it's time for spring renewal and getting a fresh start in the New Year. For some, that may mean starting a new garden, taking up a new hobby or working on some spring cleaning. For us, spring means enjoying longer days, ample amounts of sunshine and the start of a new growing season in our vineyard.  

We're also looking forward to sharing our three new releases wines: our 2008 Montelena Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, 2009 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and 2009 Montelena Estate Zinfandel are now available for your sipping pleasure. Aside from being great pairings with spring and summer dining experiences - either along with a park picnic or out on the patio under the stars on a warm evening - they're also three fantastic reasons to make more room in your wine cellar. At the end of a long day, there's nothing better than grabbing a great bottle of wine to hang out on your home patio with your favorite people and savor a glass of wine as you unwind on a warm and clear night. The season of "patio wine" is upon us.

chateauMontelena_CabRelease.jpgWith three new Montelena wines to choose from, we're certain that there's an option for every palate and every occasion - from a special, celebratory dinner with our 2008 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon to a family barbeque with our 2009 Estate Zinfandel and even a mid-week repose to savor a special meal alongside our 2009 Napa Valley Cabernet just-because-its-Wednesday-and-you-need-a-break.  

So whatever your wine preference may be, we hope that you take some time to enjoy the new season, relax on the patio outside and delight in a glass (or two!) of your favorite Montelena wine. And next time you're in Calistoga, stop by the Chateau to taste them all, pick your favorite and stock up - we have a long and glorious spring and summer ahead of us.

CLICK HERE to see more posts in the Chateau Montelena Blog.

Wine Samplers for the Holidays

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tastingRoomWineSampler_2011.jpgThe wheel. Sliced bread. Electricity. TastingRoom.com wine samplers.

Life was fine without these revolutionary inventions but it's oh so much better with them.
 
How can one wine product be that different and industry-changing? We're glad you asked. Wine samplers let you try wine before you buy the bottle. That's right, no more paying first and then hoping you like the wine. These samplers let you taste six top wines at home and then buy bottles of your favorites. Like we said--it's revolutionary.
 
And, we're excited to offer our readers a special 1¢ Shipping promotion to discover this amazing wine innovation for themselves. Click here to shop and use promo code WCGIFT.* Better hurry! Offer expires 12/30/2011.

The Summer Grilling Wine Guide

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grilledSteak.jpgSummertime . . .and the grilling is easy. The long, warm days of summer are reason enough to fire up the grill - or barbecue - and enjoy some of the tastiest food on the planet with family and friends. Serving a good wine with fare hot off the grill turns dinner into a feast to be savored and making a good wine match is easy if you know how.

Making that good wine match begins with knowing the food to be grilled. While grilling imparts smoky, caramelized flavors, it is - with a few major exceptions - the food's intrinsic character that suggests good wine choices. As with most wine and food matches, the key is to select a wine that both complements the flavor and approximates the flavor intensity of the food.

For example, grilled steaks offer rich, hearty, mouthfilling flavor that pair well with Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, which offer similar richness, heartiness and depth; Kenwood Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon, Kenwood Jack London Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Valley of the Moon Sonoma County Syrah and - for more smoothness and complexity - Valley of the Moon Cuvée de La Luna Red Wine are all terrific matches.

Wine Makes Father's Day Meal Extra Special

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bvWines_GeorgeDeLaTour.jpgNAPA, Calif., May 25, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- For Father's Day, all Dad really wants is a little respect, a little evidence that you've been paying attention. Show him that you haven't missed a step by making his favorite meal.  Even better -- give Dad a bottle of wine selected specifically to enhance the flavor, the aroma, the experience of his favorite meal. And you know what that meal is, don't you?

To ease your gift giving, here's a helpful group of wine-pairing suggestions: 

"Burger Pop"
For "Burger Pop," the patty and the bun are just the beginning. He learned long ago that the biggest, best flavors can come from artful combinations of ingredients. That's why "Burger Pop" is happy to pair a bottle of Chalone Estates Pinot Noir with his latest creation, the farm-raised buffalo, sauteed mushroom, Roquefort burger on a brioche bun. 

"Delivery Dad"
What is Dad's favorite thing to make for dinner? Yep, a phone call. That a quick trip of digits across the touch screen is all it takes for food to show up is an endless source of amazement for "Delivery Dad." Whether it's spicy Vietnamese, Thai or Chinese, "Delivery Dad" is even happier to pair it with Snap Dragon Riesling.

"Fajita Father"
There's nothing like the sizzle of fajitas, onions and peppers on a hot iron skillet to signal that a hearty dinner is about to be served. "Fajita Father's" seared steak strips go well with his signature salsa. For a fruity mouthful to offset the spice, they're even better paired with BV Coastal Estates Red Blend.

Avoid the Curse of "The Gift"

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mwd-big-and-bold-reds-042511-265.jpgEvery year, on the third Sunday of June, fathers all around the country start bracing for The Father's Day Gift. They know that on Father's Day, their children want to show their love and appreciation for all the baseball games, fishing trips and steak and Cabernet dinners. But a macaroni necklace is no longer an acceptable gift and well, another tie? Dad deserves better!

MyWinesDirect.com can help you break out of a bad gift cycle with some unique and classic wine gifts that dad will love. Do you have a game-day father who's known to exclaim that the team needs to, "Go big or go home?" How about the Big & Bold Reds wine pack, with three full-bodied yet food-friendly red wines that will go perfectly with his favorite dinner.

How about the sophisticated father who waits for the best? The Cellar Collection Aged Cabernets pack features bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon from two of Napa Valley's most celebrated producers. Packed in a wooden box, the 1996 Joseph Phelps and the 1997 Burgess Cabernet Sauvignons are perfectly aged, richly layered and complex--just like dad!

Mom Deserves a Glass of Wine

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mwd_PamperPinkBasket.jpgAh, Mother's Day!! When the sun is shining and Mom is serenely smiling while her children play happily and quietly in a flowery meadow, frolicking with brand-new puppies . . . at least that's what it looks like in that greeting card commercial.

In reality, Mother's Day is when children of all ages shower their mothers with well-deserved Mother's Day gifts and praise, blissfully forgetting the frustration and stress they've caused.

Moms have handled it all and she really deserves the best. Is it any wonder why Mom always keeps a bottle of wine around? She deserves a little luxury and relaxation now and then! Mother's Day allows us all to show our moms the appreciation she deserves.

This year, pamper her with gifts from MyWinesDirect.com. For ultimate relaxation, give her a homemade spa day with the Luxury Wine & Spa Basket or the Pamper Her Pink Wine Gift Basket. In addition to a bottle or two of wine, each basket is filled with soothing and sweet-smelling bath and body soaps, lotions and treats from San Francisco Soap Company.

Tasting Value

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winetoast.jpgA master sommelier offers tips for picking out delicious Napa Valley wines at bargain prices.

by Kathryn Jessup

Napa Valley's reputation for monster Cabs, at equally monstrous prices, can be disheartening for wine lovers. Where's the zest of the winemaker and the joy of the drinker amid the market pressures of Screaming Eagle and Scarecrow? An alternative can be found at Meadowood, where master sommelier Gilles de Chambure offers Napa Valley's Hidden Values, a one-hour lecture and wine tasting. De Chambure agreed to share his cheat sheet, usually only available to guests..


Read More

Block Party

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blockparty_HERO.jpgWhat's the latest craze in the wine world? Boxed wine! It's back and its better than ever. Throw out your old expectations of boxed wines and think inside the box. For your next party or to send as a wine gift the Block Party Chardonnay and Cabernet duo delivers on taste, value and convenience. Great as a wine gift for the hostess or to send across the country to family and friends too.

Read on for Block Party's great benefits:

Guide to Giving Wine

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White_Christmas_MWD.jpgWine, either presented as a single bottle, as an assortment of wines or in a wine gift basket is a great gift choice that anyone can use and really enjoy. Whether  bringing wine for the dinner party host, as a business gift, appreciation of friends and professionals, a wine gift is usable and thoughtful. Now how do you choose what to get? You can shop by gift type or shop by recipient to help you narrow it down.

SHOP BY GIFT TYPE

Wine Gift Assortments
Wine packs make excellent gifts. You can consider a pre-selected assortment of wines or choose wines by the bottle to create your own customized collection of wines. Consider the foods that your loved one enjoys and you can start to get a sense of the types of wines they might enjoy. A general rule of thumb, lighter wines pair better with lighter foods, heavier wines, heavier foods.

Holiday Entertaining

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mwdHolidayTable.jpgHoliday wine and food pairing can be tough. Figuring out which wines to pair with such a wide assortment of foods is a challenge for even the most experienced chef and the thought of entertaining on top of everything makes is stressful! Here are a few guidelines to follow to ensure your food and wine pairings are easy and fun:

Main Dish
For the white wine lover, a soft Chardonnay is a great accompaniment to poultry and an assortment of sides. Even a Riesling or Pinot Grigio could work. The minerality and apple-citrus notes common to Pinot Grigio match well with rich holiday foods. Also, while many assume white wine is the ideal poultry pairing, Pinot Noir's fruity character and lack of tannins are ideal for serving with turkey. It's vibrant and fruity character is sure to please red wine drinkers too.

If you end up serving an elegant roast meat at your holiday dinner, select a bolder red wine, like a Meritage, to match the stronger flavors of the meat.

Side DismwdRedWineGlasses.jpghes
Any of these earlier wine pairing suggestions will also work well with the myriad of rich side dishes that often accompany the main course. To complement the spices and flavors try a delightful Syrah-Malbec. This lighter red, with its own notes of spices and earthiness, will stand up well to any dish, from sweet potato mash to creamed pearl onions.

Mendocino County: A 'Grape' Cinderella Story

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mwd_MendoArticle.jpgOne of the original counties of California, Mendocino County is located on California's north coast above San Francisco Bay Area and west of the Central Valley. Most notable in Mendocino are the distinctive Pacific Ocean coastline, Redwood forests and quality wine production.

Mendocino's history in winegrapes began following the California Gold Rush in the 1850's. Immigrant farmers, in lieu of riches in gold, turned to farming; choosing the slanted, roughed up, sun-drenched hillsides for winegrape growing. Production started small and then grew with successes.

The more southern markets of Napa and Sonoma proved to be tough competition. Their proximity to distribution channels in larger cities like San Francisco gave them an advantage over the locally sold Mendocino wines. Then, during Prohibition, wine production all but stopped in Mendocino. Only one small family vineyard kept production alive, until the 1960's. Mendocino winemakers had their work cut out for them!

Discover New Wines (at a fraction of the cost!)

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tastingroom_image.jpgPart of the fun of wine tasting is discovering new wines and wineries. But traveling to the California wine country isn't always easy--especially in tough economic times. Fortunately, TastingRoom.com offers an affordable way to bring the wine country to you.

How? TastingRoom.com teams with top wineries to deliver tastes of their best wines right to your door. The wine comes in packages of six taste-sized mini bottles (50ml) which are perfect replicas of the originals, inside and out. Each bottle contains 1.7 ounces of premium wine -- the equivalent to a generous tasting room pour.

And here's the amazing part: the wine samplers feature six wines from six different wineries side-by-side. These are top-caliber wines from established vintners like Grgich Hills and DeLoach or hidden gems like Storybook Mountain and La Follette. So, if you want to compare Cabernets from six Napa wineries, you can. Or if you want to explore a range of varietals in one sampler, you can do that too. They also have winery samplers so you can enjoy a flight of the best wines a single winery has to offer. There are dozens of wine samplers to choose from starting at $19.99.

Bring the Tasting Room to Your Living Room

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tastingRoom1.jpgWant to have that winery tasting room experience without the hassle of traveling to the wine country? Now you can. TastingRoom.com has introduced a one-of-a-kind product that actually brings the wine country to the comfort of your home.
 
How is that possible? Simple. They work with top wineries to create collections of award-winning wines contained in 50ml taste-sized bottles -- roughly twice the amount you receive in a typical tasting room pour. The wines are assembled in beautiful packages of six mini bottles - called wine samplers -- and shipped right to your doorstep.

Once your wine sampler is delivered, you can have a wine tasting experience right in your home. Just pour the wine into six glasses and swirl, sniff, and sip to your heart's delight. Heck, you don't even have to take off your fuzzy slippers.

And here's the best part: you can taste six fantastic wines from six top wineries. Do you like Cabernet? You can taste California Cabs from six of the finest producers side-by-side. A Chardonnay fan? Compare Chards made using different winemaking styles. They've got well known wineries like Grgich Hills and DeLoach and up-and-comers like La Follette and Carol Shelton. And they've got hundreds of wines to choose from. All this for as little as $19.99.

Hot 10 Under $20: Sonoma Summer Sips

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By Courtney Cochran

Funny things happen to people when the thermometer inches up (according to the FBI, crime rates rise 10% nationally during the summer months).  And this summer - which is tracking to be the nation's hottest on record - will be no cup of tea.  Which is why, amidst all the hoopla about the heat and the stress from the heat itself, there's nothing quite like a glass of chilled white or rosé to take the edge off of it all.

Whether the weather where you are is scorching (hello, much of inland California!), simply warm, or something in between, we've got ten summer-ready Sonoma wine reco's that are guaranteed to cool you down.


Bell Wine Cellars Wins!

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YOUNTVILLE, CA - The weight of medals must be heavy for Bell Wine Cellars. At the recent California State Fair, they won seven medals for their wines including double gold for Best of class in Napa Appellation and Best Cabernet in the state for their 2007 Claret.

bellWineCellars1.jpgStop in at the tasting room located in Yountville for a taste. The gold medal Claret Cabernet is only retailing for $35 per bottle. At such a great price and at less than 2,000 cases production, make haste and buy a bottle before they are all gone!

Bell Wine Cellars provides visitors with an intimate, personalized wine tasting experience. They are open by appointment every day of the week from 10:30am to 4:00pm and offer several options for wine tasting. See details below:

New Year In Wine: 10 Predictions for 2010

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newyear2.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

With 2009 behind us, let's all breathe a collective sigh of relief and turn our sights - not to mention our vinous radar - on the New Year.  If you're like us, a fresh start means you're looking forward to good things like pay raises, thinner waistlines and general prosperity like we haven't seen in some time.  And while that's all good and well, we'd like to remind you that there's more - much more, in turns out - in store for you in the world of wine in the New Year.  

Read on for our predictions on what'll be hot - as well as what'll be...not...in 2010.

Top 10: Mood-Boosting Wines

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Feeling down?  Let these cheerful wines turn that frown upside down.

By Courtney Cochran

This time of year - and this year in particular (sheesh) - there's a laundry list of things that could be getting you down.  Lost jobs, money worries and holiday stress are just a few of the icky items that could very well be a drag on your otherwise sunny mood.  Happily, we're here with a list of wines known for their mood-boosting powers, all packaged into a convenient list.  So, should you need them, we offer not just a few but 10 reasons to stay cheerful this wintry season.

Merry Good Gear: Top Wine Gifts of 2009

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By Courtney Cochran

fishnet-wine-tote-two-bottle-R-2[1].jpgWith the holidays already upon us, many of us are wondering: what in the world will I buy for the wine lover on my list this year?  Please, allow us to suggest: At the conclusion of a year that can only be described as tough, let loose with gifts that embrace the adventurous, offbeat side of wine.  Because what we can all use right now is a healthy dose of humor - packaged, of course, in stellar style.  

Bonny Book
Santa Cruz wine scion Randall Graham's zany new book, Been Doon So Long ($23), is being hailed as the best new thing in wine reads since Gary Vaynerchuk's manic wine Tweets first hit the web.  Graham - founder of the trailblazing, troublemaking (in a good way) Boony Doon brand - peppers the pages with hilarious literary parodies, song lyrics ("Born to Rhone", anyone?) and more hilarity, but at the heart of it all are some serious questions about the future of New World wine. Score it here.

Tote Tease
Built NY - which first brought us their stylishly minimalist neoprene wine totes several years ago - has only continued to riff on their original concept since, with great success.  And though their well-crafted line of picnic and computer accessories charms as well, we still love their basic wine tote design - updated for '09, of course, in a very cool new "fishnet" design.  So let your bottles AND your style shine through with this terrific new tote, available in two-bottle style for a rightly reasonable $17.



Natural Is As Natural Does

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So-called "natural wines" are under the microscope these days
By Courtney Cochran
Twitter: @HipTastesMaven

The natural wine debate reached a fever pitch last week when the San Francisco Chronicle's head wine scribe, Jon Bonne, penned a blog post asserting that "natural wine is toast." At the core of his rant? The co-opting of the term - intended, at least initially, to describe wines made with minimal intervention - by marketers who wish to capitalize on its buzz-worthiness. The problem with buzz, of course, is that as soon as something becomes earmarked as "buzz" it's usually lost most of its potency anyway.

Wine Spectator: Top 10 Wines of 2009

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Earlier this week Wine Spectator announced their top 10 wine picks for 2009. Watch the video and hear senior editors introduce each wine and explain what makes puts a particular wine on the top 10 list!

wineSpecVideo.jpg

Holiday Wine Deals

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chandonHolidayPack.jpgNeed fail-proof gift ideas for that hard-to-shop-for friend or relative. No worries! What could be easier than the gift of wine? Even better (and definitely faster) - order the wine directly online.

Our WineCountry.com elves have been busy finding fabulous wine deals to fit every shopper's budget. Read on and click to find that perfect gift for your loved ones. If you're lucky, maybe they will even share! Tip: When ordering out of state, remember to check if the winery of your choice will ship to that state.

Arrowood Vineyards & Winery
Holiday Gift Collections - Choose from four elegant gift pairings that will make wonderful presents for the wine lovers on your holiday shopping list. Choose from our Classic's, Rhone style or Reserve designates. Each collection comes beautifully packaged with signature wines hand crafted by Winemaster Richard Arrowood.   

B.R. Cohn Winery
Holiday Wine Sampler - Planning a holiday party or joining friends and family at theirs - B.R. Cohn has you covered. Just order their 12 bottle holiday sampler which includes pairing suggestions to cover all your holiday foods. Currently they are offering a 25% discount on the case!

Domaine Chandon
Chandon has a variety of gift ideas for a wide range of friends whether they are a culinary expert (Epicurean 2 pk), a party host/hostess (Genuine Entertainer), or chic & savvy (The Sophisticated). And of course, you really can't go wrong with bubbles! Shipping is free on any order of $100 or more.

Deals on Champagne & Sparklers

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champagne2.jpgAccording to Paul Gregutt in a recent article for the Seattle Times, prices for Champagne and sparkling wine have decreased. In fact, worldwide demand has fallen by at least 10% which can only mean one thing for you and me - it's time to buy and stock up! And for those gearing up for the holidays, it couldn't be more perfect timing.

The articles suggests a few tips in what to buy:

(1) Be adventurous. Try something new instead of sticking to the brand you always buy.

(2) Buy a vintage Champagne rather than a brut

(3) Look on the bottle to see if the grapes are grand cru. Apparently grand cru vineyards are considered to be the best and well worth if it, even if a few more extra dollars..

(4) Splurge without breaking the bank. Purchase a half bottle

Paul also recommends asking the wine seller what is on sale. One deal out there right now is from Duval-Leroy where they have half bottles of brut at $18 and a full bottle of Cuvee Paris at $35.

Other articles on picking out sparklers for the holiday season:
Bubble, Bubble Everywhere



Nouveau Sips: Wines to Savor in 2010

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By Courtney Cochran

Let's face it: the recession taught us many of things, perhaps the most important: you've got to appreciate the small things in life. And with 2009 drawing to a close, we can all look forward a renewed perspective (not to mention uptrending economic indicators, whew!) in the new year. To go along with this reinvigorated view of things, we offer the following ten wines that are destined to be hot in 2010. Because if another thing is altogether clear as we head out of this strange era: wine is and always will be a hallmark of the good times. And, it's time for each and every one of us to start living the good life again.

So go on: The little things in life are beckoning - and go down swell with a swill of some excellent vino

Oregon Odyssey: Top 10 Willamette Wines

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By Courtney Cochran

Wine hasn't been big in Oregon's bucolic Willamette Valley for long - in fact, it was only in the 60s that the first plantings were made in what is now considered by many to be some of the most hallowed ground for wine production in the world. With a cool, moist climate that favors Pinot Noir in particular, the region just an hour's drive from Portland has fast turned into one of the most exciting places to swirl, sip and savor your way through wine country. Read on for my top ten wines tasted on a recent visit.

PRESS RELEASE: Louis M. Martini Annual Cellar Sale

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louisMartini.jpgSaturday 12th September 2009
12.00pm to 4.00pm

Built by Louis M. Martini in 1933, the Martini Winery has been a legendary landmark in the Napa Valley for over 75 years. With third generation winemaker Mike Martini at the helm, the winery continues to craft rich, distinctive wines that draw visitors to St. Helena from all over the world.

The Annual Cellar Sale offers the opportunity to buy cases of older vintage wines and big bottles, all at an incredible value with huge savings of 40-60% off retail prices!  This is an ideal opportunity to stock up your cellars and wine racks in time for Thanksgiving and Christmas. There will be a limited number of bottles available that have been signed by Mike Martini making them a great gift for the wine lovers in your life or a fabulous talking point at a party! We will be serving Italian style hors d'oeuvres and library wine tastings will be available.

The Martini Annual Cellar Sale begins at 12:00 pm and concludes at 4:00 pm and will be held at the winery.

Louis M. Martini
254 South St. Helena Highway (Hwy 29)
St. Helena, CA 94574
Special Tasting Offer


Rodney Strong: Wine of the Month

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chardRodStrong.jpgOne good thing about being in a tough economy is that everyone in the retail industry seems willing to give a good deal. Either that or the American public is so spending conscious, they actually pay attention to emails offering specials and discounts before automatically hitting the delete button.

Wineries are no exception. Case in point, Rodney Strong Vineyards highlights a wine each month from their collection and entices buyers with a special discount. For August, the wine is their 2007 Chardonnay Reserve ($40). They are offering %15 savings per bottle and 25% savings per case. Better yet, if you are already a wine member you get an additional 10%.

The tasting notes declare it has "Powerful aromas of spiced apple, pear and pie crust join lemon-cream and toasty oak on the palate, adding up to a compelling and thoroughly satisfying experience for true Chardonnay lovers".

Be sure to join Rodney Strong's mailing list and get notice of these deals by email.

**If you are planning a trip to Sonoma Wine Country, add Rodney Strong to the wine tasting itinerary. More information online and download special tasting offer!

Summer Wines $15 and Under

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summerwines.jpgYou may think summer has taken a hiatus and slipped back into spring. However, if you happen to catch some heat waves and are looking for something refreshing to drink, San Francisco Chronicle recommends six excellent summer white wines all $15 and under.

  • 2008 Oyster Bay Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc ($10)
  • 2007 Branger Le Fils des Gras Moutons Muscadet Sevre et Maine sur Lie
  • 2007 Kuentz-Bas Alsace Pinot Blanc ($15)
  • 2008 Ebner Ebenauer Wienviertel Gruner Veltliner ($13, 1 liter)
  • 2008 Blacksmith Cellars Alta Mesa California Torrontes ($15)
  • 2008 Tintero Sori Gramella Moscato d'Asti ($10)

Read More . . .

San Francisco International Wine Competition Results

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After scores of wine tasting and much deliberation the results of the San Francisco International Wine Competition were announced over the weekend. According to the press release "Forty-five wine industry professionals from throughout the United States convened June 19th, 20th and 21st to taste, score and rank 4,274 wines from 1,195 wineries" and "judged from 26 states and 21 countries".

Several domestic wineries took home honors.

Pinot.com

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pinot.jpgIf you love Pinot (and all it's variations), then Pinot.com is the site for you.

Discover the "sensuality" of Pinot Noir  . . .

Plan to attend upcoming Pinot wine events around the country....

Pair some of your favorite dishes with Pinot...

Read recommendations on what Pinots to buy and drink...

Remember...there can "Pinot" no others!

www.pinot.com

Italian Wine

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By Courtney Cochran

Italian wines have long been some of the best buys in imported wine, and even with the dollar's relatively weak position vis à vis the Euro they continue to offer terrific value to domestic shoppers. To get a jump on the trend, read on for a list of some of my top picks in Italian vino, conveniently arranged by region. For purchasing information, visit wine-searcher.com. Salute!

Piedmont
The gorgeously fog-draped vineyards of northwestern Italy's Piedmont turn out some of the world's most sought-after reds, particularly those crafted from the expressive Nebbiolo grape.  Named for the nebbia (fog) so common in the region, the grape reaches its finest expressions in reds from Barolo and Barbaresco, though better value can be found in versions from lesser-known sub-regions.  To wit, the 2007 Elio Grasso "Gavarini" DOC Nebbiolo d'Alba ($25) enchants with much of Barolo's power and finesse, for a fraction of the price.

What to Sip This Spring? Why Pinot, Of Course!

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sundawg_wine.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

The 2007 Pinot Noir harvest in the Russian River Valley was a thing of beauty, leading to the production of wines with elegance and power, grace and personality. I know all this because I was there, working as a cellar scourge for a couple of glorious days when I played hooky from my responsibilities in the city. And now, as the results of that harvest begin to trickle in for release nationwide, I couldn't be more pleased to taste the positively delicious results in the bottle.

Wineries to Watch

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By Courtney Cochran

Each year I attend countless wine tasting events where I am inevitably plied with the wines of hundreds if not thousands of producers from our own backyard and the far corners of the globe.  Along the way, I sip, swirl and spit the likes of sparkling wines from Brazil, sweet wines from Sonoma, soulful reds from Lake County and intriguing, sea-scented whites from Galicia.  I also shake hands, take notes, snap pictures and invariably return home with piles upon piles of notes enthusing about the nuances of new wines and their various vintners.

What follows is a list of some of the more memorable wines I've sampled lately.

By the Glass Bargains - An Upside to the Recession

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By Courtney Cochran

When it comes to restaurant wine sales, the news is largely not good - for the restaurateurs, at least.  To that end, the Wine Market Council - in conjunction with The Nielsen Beverage Alcohol Team - reported this winter that on-premise sales of wine have slipped dramatically from 2007 and early 2008 levels, with some restaurants even forced to shut their doors as a result of sluggish sales.  Happily, there's a silver lining to this latest tale of recession-induced woe: by-the-glass sales at on-premise locations are still strong, and restaurants are responding by injecting new life - and appeal - into their BTG programs

Ten-Buck Chuck?

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yellowtail-shiraz.jpgBy Robert Farmer

I suppose we are now officially in the age of Expectations Adjusted Downward. News from Down Under recently popped up about over-supply of and under-demand for premium wines. Australian wine makers have historically relied upon a consumer base outside their borders. And global demand for higher-end wine has been evaporating faster than a rain puddle in the Outback.

So, as has been the trend globally, Australian producers have had to adjust prices downward, setting a new threshold for so-called premium varietals. Have we entered the era of $10 premium wines? Probably not, but we're getting closer. And in Australia, the problem may have been self-inflicted --at least partially.

Recession Edition: Wines to Brood Over

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By Courtney Cochran

With the Dow marching steadily south, unemployment on the up and deflation dangerously near, it's easy to feel there's little source for cheer these days.  Still, if there's anything a trying economic clime coupled with an already frigid winter welcomes, it's uncorking a wine worth brooding over.  Read on for a list of our top picks for wines with which to weather the current season - whether your portfolio is up, down, or you just can't bear to look.  No matter what, we've got you covered.

Snooth Simplifies Wine Shopping with iPhone App

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By Courtney Cochran

Social shopping site Snooth - which allows users to log and rate wines, compare scores with friends and click to buy wines from thousands of merchants across the US - has released an iPhone application that bests many of the other wine apps I've seen. Signing up took me less than two minutes (I simply created a user account on my iPhone at iphone.snooth.com), and moments later I was searching wine reviews using their location-based search services. My search for a Rosenblum Zinfandel selling for less than $50 in my area - the service uses zip codes to power its location-based search - yielded a result at The Wine House in San Francisco, which currently carries the bottle for $33.95. Had I wanted to purchase the wine, I could have used Snooth's "click to call" option embedded in the search result to dial the retailer's number and have the wine put on hold.

Bubble, Bubble Everywhere

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Sifting through the sparkling wine clutter this holiday season

by Courtney Cochran

It never fails: the holidays arrive yet again and you still have no idea how to tell your Prosecco from your Cava. When to serve vintage versus non-vintage Champagne? You're clueless.

With all the stress that comes with the holidays, worrying about your sparkling wine selection seems like an unnecessary burden. Happily, help is here when it comes to the sparkling wine thing. Read on for the low-down on some of the most popular styles of sparkling wine, so that this holiday you can really mean it when you insist that - ahem - you're quite certain a sparkling Chenin Blanc is just the thing to pair with your honey-baked ham.

Wine Clubs

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wine_club.jpgThe Gift That Keeps on Giving - in a good way

by Robert P. Farmer

'Tis the season to shout at your steering wheel while parked in the lot of the local mall - furious in frustration over what the heck to buy that special someone. Yes, the holidays are here and in the spirit of giving I offer some solace to the confused shopper, yes, I count myself among you.

Whether you've got a wine enthusiast on your list or you just hope to create one, a gift membership to a wine club is a gift they won't soon forget. After all, how could they; the wine will keep arriving periodically at their door for at least the ensuing year. Wine clubs are an excellent way to demonstrate your thoughtfulness while also showing in no uncertain terms your good taste. It's sure to be appreciated with each pull of the cork.

There are countless wine clubs available in Wine Country and dozens more to found throughout the nation and reachable via the Internet. The trick is to locate the right club to join - whether for you or on behalf of your gift recipient. Most respectable wine clubs are designed to keep members abreast of their favorite wines while offering them first-look insight into new wines or wines they might not otherwise find on their own. Most wineries operate wine clubs through which members are offered first dibs on reserve vintage orders, exclusive discounts, and invitations to private tastings, classes, and parties.

Gift Guide 2008 - Bottle Talk

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peoplePickingWine.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

The Latin phrase "In Vino Veritas" - in wine there is truth - could easily inspire a second maxim:  "in wine gifting, there is always gratitude." When it comes to giving, a well-selected bottle of wine is always welcome and - as important - carries the added bonus of leaving an indelible impression that's likely to last long after its final sips have been swallowed.  Read on for our list of top picks for gifting this holiday season, for every oenophile on your list.  Prices are estimates.

A Guide to Giving Wine as a Gift

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wine_gift.jpgSubmitted by My Wines Direct

Whether given as a show of hospitality for a dinner party, or just as a sign of affection during the holidays, wine is a unique and thoughtful token of appreciation.

If you are bringing a wine gift to a gathering where you know the wine will be opened during dinner, you should try to find out what is being served and match the wine appropriately. Contacting the host or hostess mentioning that you'd like to bring a wine to match the meal is a great way way to ensure you don't bring a big red to a light meal where a light white would be a better choice. If you choose to bring white wine, you may want to bring it already chilled so it can be immediately served if needed. And don't take offense if you bring a bottle of wine to a party and it does not get opened -- the wine choice is up to the host or hostess. So unless you were particularly asked to bring a bottle of wine to go with dinner, you might not get to drink your wine at the meal (this is a subject that has surely been debated many times before).

Don't Forget the Wine for the Holidays!

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christmaswine.jpgBy Angela Lytle

Good company, good food, and of course, good wine. What better way to celebrate the holidays than with a bottle of one of the magnificent wines available today. Enjoy the distinctive tastes of merlot and cabernet, sip the cold and flavorful white wines, like Chardonnay and Pinot Gris, and for dessert, try a nice sweet wine served ice cold.

There are literally hundreds and hundreds of varieties of wine, as remarkably different as the artful bottles that hold the wine. It is said, however, that there are eight major varieties of wine, including: Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Shiraz, Pinot Noir, for the reds, and Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc for the whites.

Cameron Hughes Wine

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lotserieswine.jpgSelling Lots for a Little
by Robert Farmer

Sometimes it's about the craft and sometimes it's about craftiness. For Cameron Hughes, making and selling wines has been about ample doses of both. Most people who peruse the wine aisles at Costco know the company. And it is his relationship with the big-box bulk retailer that really put Cameron Hughes and his eponymous wine company on the map.

Turkey Wines

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turkeyWines.jpgby Courtney Cochran

It's that time of year again, and you have no idea which wines to pair with your turkey feast during the Holidays. Do you stick with your usual favorites, Pinot and Cab, and throw in a nice Chardonnay for contrast? Or do you try something you've never had before, like a Gruner Veltliner, to make a big statement?

The answer lies somewhere in between. On upcoming Turkey Days you ought to offer a blend of whites and reds, but you also ought to seek out specific wines whose flavor profiles and weight complement heavier foods, which are often laced with a combination of sweet, savory and spicy notes. Some of these wines are exotic-sounding and can add an exciting contrast to your otherwise traditional table - never a bad thing!

Winery Deal of the Day!

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goosecrossVoting.jpgGoosecross Cellars - 25% Off Offer

Goosecross Cellars located in Napa Valley is providing a fabulous incentive for all those voting in the General Election! Take or Fax your voting stub to Goosecross Cellars either Tuesday, Nov 4th or Wednesday, Nov 5th and get 25% off any wine.

We personally recommend either their signature Napa Valley Estate Chardonnay ($32) or Napa Valley Amerital VI ($40).

This is a huge discount and only valid for two days! So hurry up and take advantage. 

CLICK HERE for more details.

Watch Video for an up close and personal look into Goosecross Cellars!


Rosé Renaissance

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By Courtney Cochran

Unless you've been living under a rock, the news that pink wine is hot is hardly something new to you.  Still, the array of rosé styles to choose from is impressive - and often takes even the pink stuff's most serious fans by surprise.

Dry Rosé
By far the most common style of rosé, this is the version you see on the shelves of most quality wine merchants come summertime. Fermented entirely or nearly "to dryness," this style of rosé contains little or no residual sugar and tastes stylistically similar to the dry red and white table wines (think Pinot Noir and Chardonnay) we're most familiar with.  They key difference when it comes to dry rosé is in the winemaking style - these wines score their enticing pink color from a process called "saigner," meaning "to bleed" in French. During the saigner process, a touch of color is leeched from the skins of red grapes (all grape juice is more or less clear without skin contact) prior to fermentation, leaving the finished wine anywhere from just barely pink in color to just shy of fully red in hue, depending on the amount of time the wine spent in contact with the grape skins.

Crazy Over Corkage

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winerestaurant.jpgBy Robert Farmer

Recently my wife and I ventured out for an increasingly rare night on the town for dinner without our new baby. To us, such an occasion is special, so we set out for one of our favorite special occasion restaurants in San Francisco.

Though the place isn't one of the high-voltage restaurants that most people in SF correlate with a special occasion, it is a local favorite, which consistently earns high marks with critics and area foodies alike. Also, they have an exceptional wine list to match their gorgeous menu.

Wine List Anxiety

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winelist.jpgBy Robert Farmer

With only one or two exceptions among my decent-sized group of regular dining-out companions, I am always first to grab the wine list. And once I get it, I rarely let it go. Not to say others don't take a look, but instead I tend to keep hold of the list throughout the meal - occasionally prying it open to peruse depending on which stage of the meal we happen to be in.

I love looking at wine lists--the imagination of the sommelier or wine-steward is in full view in these lists, which can range in size and scope from a single-sided sheet of paper, to a handsome, leather-bound book that looks more like an Encyclopedia Britannica. This I know is not the norm. Many people shy away from a wine list like the waiter was waving a plate of liver and onions beneath their nose.

Stellar Sangiovese By the Glass, Guaranteed (Well, Almost)

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bg_drinks.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

Restaurant ratings giant Zagat - which provides user-generated reviews of restaurants across the US and in some well-traveled international cities - recently announced the debut of drinkwellTM (idrinkwell.com), the first online guide to restaurants dedicated to serving the highest quality drinks and drink service - and that includes wine. The new ratings system is a boon for anyone who's ever wondered how an eatery fares not just in terms of what comes out of the kitchen, but also in terms of what comes across the bar.

Oregon's Vital Center

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refrigerated-truck.jpg

By Robert Farmer

Those few I-live-in-a-cave-types who need further convincing that Oregon's wine scene is not just full-grown but thriving, need only look at the hard evidence. Or, in this case, brick-and-mortar evidence.

Recent news that the Oregon Wine Services & Storage company--a temperature-controlled storage space and distribution center--embarked on a $3.5 million dollar expansion to increase its 110,000-square-foot capacity by 60,000 square feet was certainly no surprise. It's a function of necessity. In a report this year from Silicon Valley Bank about the state of the wine industry, it was predicted that the wine industry as a whole, and in particular Oregon, will continue its record expansion.

A Word on Wine at Costco

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winebottles.jpgBy Robert Farmer

I've long been intending to share my thoughts in this space about buying wine at Costco, but there just always seemed to be more pressing and - yes - more interesting. But recently the Costco Wine section has been in the news, and so it seems appropriate to bring it up.

If you follow trends in the wine industry, you may have heard that recently Costco Wholesale Corp. lost its long battle to overhaul wine-distribution laws in its home state of Washington. Costco had originally sued the state for what it viewed as the state's violation on federal antitrust laws as they related to wine distribution in Washington.

This Mother's Day, Go Pink or Go Home

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rosewine.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

With rosé wine enjoying an unprecedented level of popularity stateside - The Nielson Company recently revealed that sales of premium pink wine rose an astounding 53.2% this year - there's never been a better excuse to drink pink on Mother's Day.  Indeed, from supermarkets to Costco to the nation's most tony wine merchants, bottles of pink are appearing on store shelves in greater numbers than ever before, leaving you no excuse not to go pink this Sunday.

Press Club Debut in SF

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By Robert Farmer
winerytastingroom.jpgFor a time -before I saw the light - I was somewhat opposed to the multi-winery tasting room. My preference had been for a tasting room to be not only to focus on a single winery's vintages, but also to be attached to that winery. It makes sense, you have to agree. But as I'm sure you'll also agree, I am right in tossing aside that narrow-minded attitude and embracing the new-style tasting room, the likes of which are proliferating these days in unexpected places. And so you can understand that recently, the opening of the Press Club in San Francisco was happy new for me. Not just because I happen to live in San Francisco, but also because this is an exceptionally fine example of the concept.

Insider Trading

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wildduck-homead.gifBy Courtney Cochran

When it comes to the financial markets, taking tips from insiders can get you into some serious trouble (remember Martha's little foible?) But - fortunately - when it comes to wine, there's nothing illegal about getting the inside track on some good juice.

P.S. I Love You

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by Courtney Cochran

psleaf_logo_100.jpgOnce upon a time, there was a wine so big, so bold and so outrageously outsized that its fans felt ashamed admitting it was their favorite. "Oh no," naysayers would insist, "a wine that big just can't be good with food. Why, it's so ridiculously over the top as to hardly even resemble what I think of as a wine."

Despairingly, lovers of Petite Sirah would retreat to enjoy their prodigious darling in the privacy of their own homes, away from the prying eyes of fellow drinkers who insisted that a wine must have impeccable balance - meaning it could harbor neither outsized fruit nor high-octane alcohol - in order to be enjoyed.

Dry Creek Zinfandel Recommendations

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Zinfandel has been on a rollercoaster of popularity for nearly 150 years - today's mad passion is only the latest peak for the bold-flavored red. Throughout most of that time, Dry Creek Valley in Sonoma has been a bastion of Zinfandel quality and tradition. A quarter of the valley's vineyard acreage is planted to Zin, yielding up an abundance of Zinfandels with "Dry Creek Valley" on the label every year.

While it's hard to go too far wrong with Dry Creek Zin, prices have crept up steadily during the grape's latest burst of popularity. There's also been a major move toward higher alcohol and more saturated color and flavor. So there's more reason than ever to choose carefully in order to find a Dry Creek Zin with a style and price you like.

Syrah Shows That Change Is Intrinsic to American Wine

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Centuries of wine tradition are ending in a single generation. In just the past few years we've been given premium wine in boxes and cans, $160 Cabernet with screwcaps and imported wine named for small marsupials - and it's all wonderful. Wine is good for us and the earth, and today's trends toward an easier, friendlier wine experience are all positive.

But just a short time ago, almost none of them were on the horizon. In fact, some of the grapes we now take for granted were still struggling for a place in American wine.

Take Syrah. In the early 1970s, there were a few Syrah vines scattered here and there in northern California, but they were usually mixed in anonymously with other varieties. No one made anything with "Syrah" on the label. The University of California at Davis had vines which it had propagated from cuttings taken from a famed French vineyard in the northern Rhône Valley, but the faculty was divided on whether Syrah was worth planting in California. So the vines remained in the university's teaching vineyard.

Seeking Closure

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A Bottle Top Overcomes Its Screwed Up Rep

by Robert P. Farmer

By now anyone who has been paying attention has heard the details in the discussion about screw caps. Once vilified in fine wine circles as the bellwether of bad taste, winemakers and wine lovers alike now embrace the ordinary screw cap. The reasons for this are myriad. But the practice, supported by evidence and sound science, still have yet to gain widespread acceptance in the wine industry.

American Wine Bars that Offer Selection with Style

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WINE STORAGE
Dedicated wine bars and wine-oriented eateries know that storing and protecting the stock is top priority, but what about restaurants where wine is secondary? Here's what to look out for when wining at non-wine establishments:

California Syrah Recommendations

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By Thom Elkjer

syrahGlasses.jpg

The marriage of Syrah and California has one of the hottest trend lines in wine. Ten years ago, the state had 800 acres of the grape ­ about 2% of the acreage held by Cabernet Sauvignon. Today it's on its way to 16,000 acres and growing faster than any other major grape, red or white. It's easy to see why. Syrah comes from a region in the south of France known for sun and wind ­ which California has in even greater abundance. It's easy to grow and easy to make into wine. And its flavor profile fits California's Mediterranean-style dining trends like a lock and key.

Pinot Noir Recommendations

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By Thom Elkjer,
Anderson Valley is in the throes of America's Pinot Noir culture clash. Two-thirds of the wines tasted of freshly picked red fruit with both sweet and sour qualities, such as raspberries and cranberries. These wines were medium-bodied, well-balanced and made long-time valley vintners nod approvingly. The other dozen or so wines tasted of cooked black fruit laced heavily with dark baking spices and toasted oak flavors. They were big, brawny wines that the younger winemakers at the tasting understood and appreciated immediately.

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