Recently in Wine Tasting & Serving Category

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.

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. 

Art, Food & Wine Experience at Kenwood Vineyards

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kenwoodVineyards_ArtFoodWine.jpgAppreciate the premier marriage of art and wine at Kenwood Vineyards with their Artist Collection Series.

Every weekend, visitors will have an opportunity to view original art pieces from the collection that began with the controversial 1975, "Naked Lady" by David Lance Goines. With every new vintage, a new piece of art is featured making each bottle a true collectable.

Sip exceptional wines including the Artist Series Cabernet Sauvignons and nosh on gourmet appetizers perfectly paired to bring out the best characteristics of the wine.





More Details
  • Date: Every *Saturday & Sunday*
  • Time: 1pm - 3pm
  • Place: Kenwood Vineyards
  • Price: $30/person or $25/ wine club members
  • RSVP Required: For reservations, please call 707-282-4228. Reservations are required 72 hours in advance.

Pinot & Mushroom Weekend at Chateau St. Jean

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event_ChateauStJean_PinotMushroom.jpgNo need to forage for mushrooms on your own this season. Join local Sonoma County mushroom experts at Chateau St. Jean February 23rd and 24th for a weekend of discovery with perfect pairings of fine St. Jean Pinot Noir and artisanal mushrooms. This special event will feature special wine and mushroom flights, a bountiful, mushroom-centric marketplace, informative lectures on fabulous fungi, an incredible Station-to-Station tasting experience, and a sumptuous Earthly Wonders luncheon, all which will leave you with a renowned sense of awe for the so-called simple mushroom and Pinot Noir. See more details below!


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!



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.



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.

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.

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.

Christmas Dinner with Kenwood Vineyards

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thanksgivingwine.jpgA Wine Guide

Christmas will soon be here and - as always - Christmas dinner will be a highlight of the day. Whether your tradition is a casual buffet or a sit-down feast, selecting and serving wines to complement Christmas dinner need not be daunting. A bit of guidance and your own good taste will lead you to wines sure to make the meal memorable.

First, relax. Picking wines to accompany a meal - even Christmas dinner - is a straightforward process. Take comfort in knowing that terrific wines to go with your Christmas dinner are available in every price range and the most satisfying matches often can be found among popular, well priced labels like Kenwood Vineyards.




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.

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.

World Series Wines Part II: Player/Pairing Mashup!

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By Courtney Cochran

We simply couldn't help ourselves in pulling together wine pairings around our fav Giants players.  And why shouldn't we?  We know that you're almost as into watching our local team in the World Series as you are into quaffing the good stuff.  So with no further ado: The original San Francisco Giants Player/Wine Pairing Mashup!  

(Shout out: Thanks to my friends on Facebook whose tips helped make this piece possible!)

Tim Lincecum: Oregon Pinot Noir
Unless you're a hard-core ball fan, you don't often hear the phrase "perfect pitch" outside of a musical reference.  But thanks to Lincecum's near-perfect form on the mound, we're beginning to hear a lot more buzz about the phenomenon.  Still, the guy's known almost as well for being undersized as he is accomplished, which is why we've selected Oregon Pinot as his pairing.  Fiercely talented but often overlooked and underappreciated, Oregon Pinot is making news these days as pros (critics) and fans (consumers) alike catch on to its talents.  To wit, look for silky tannins that recall - if we may - the waves in Tim's famously long locks.

Buster Posey: Beaujolais Nouveau
As one of the youngest Giants, catcher Posey charms audiences with his youthful (dare we say "baby faced"??) visage, which means we're looking to seriously young wines to pair with this player.  With the annual release of France's Beaujolais Nouveau less than a month away, it seems only natural to pair the 2010 vintage of this popular wine with the youthful athlete.  Released every year on the third Thursday in November just weeks after it's been harvested and fermented, Beaujolais Nouveau is the definition of a "young" wine.    

World Series Wines

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What to Quaff With What to Eat While Tuning In
By Courtney Cochran

drinkingWine.jpgAT&T Park - home to SF's National-League-topping Giants - is renowned for its fancy game fare (Gilroy garlic fries, anyone?), though beer usually trumps wine as game-viewing-beverage-of-choice at the LEED-certified park.  Still, we know that vinous-inclined ball fans watching from home will no doubt reach for the corkscrew come this evening's World Series kickoff game.  Accordingly, we've put together a few suggested food and wine pairings for those of you who prefer the likes of Zin while taking in our team's next win.

Peanuts
Where would a true ball fan be without this classic game viewing staple?  When tucking into 'nuts, there's nothing more fitting with which to pair them than a crisp sparkling wine.  Why? Its acidity will deftly offset all the salt in this treat, while its bubbly profile and creamy mousse recall beer (though we know bubbly is better!).

*Make 'em gourmet: Upgrade your traditional basic nut to fancy Virginia versions.

Hot Dogs
We can't imagine a ball game without 'dogs.  Accordingly, uncork a fruity, medium-bodied red like Pinot Noir or Cru Beaujolais (for the latter, we like versions from Morgon and Brouilly) when tucking into this meaty treat.  These wines' mellow tannins will stand up to dogs' chewy texture, while their fruity flavor profiles make great foils to the savory taste of this choice game fare.

*Make 'em gourmet: Opt for Polish sausage franks for a richer, beefier taste.

No Wine Over $25

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calistogaWineGarage.jpgCALISTOGA, CA - Who ever said wines (including Napa Valley wines) are expensive should visit the Wine Garage located in Calistoga. They have a great philosophy that every wine buyer can raise a glass to:

  • No wine is over $25!
  • Everything must taste great before it goes on the shelf
  • No wine snob attitudes
  • Impeccable and personal customer service
  • No wine questions go unanswered, or are deemed insignificant
  • Have fun - it's only fermented grape juice!
It's quite the funky little shop - a former gas station/tire shop to be exact. They have over 200 wines available from wine regions throughout California. You may be visiting Napa Valley when you step into the shop, but leaving with limited production wines from Lodi, Paso Robles, Amador and Mendocino. These aren't run of the mill wines. The owners personally scout for small hand-crafted wines and labels you won't typically see anywhere else!


Yountville Tasting Itinerary

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By Courtney Cochran

bubbly.jpgYountville has never been hotter, and - fittingly - visitors to this popular Wine Country hamlet have never had better options when it comes to things to do. In this spirit, read on for a wine tasting itinerary starring four of the town's top vinous haunts; we're sure you'll find plenty more reasons to call this a hot spot once you've tasted its best in red, white and bubbly.

"Secret" Spring Whites

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By Courtney Cochran

Surprise pals with your vinous prowess as you uncork these lesser-known whites this spring.

AlbardoubleTreeSpecial.jpgiño
Famously made in northwestern Spain's ocean side Galicia region, Albariño is also grown stateside by a handful of adventurous growers including central coast white wine powerhouse Tangent.  A crowd pleaser thanks to its medium body, food friendliness and fruit basket aromatic profile, Albariño works as well with fish tacos as it does with fruit salad and lighter meat dishes - though it may shine brightest of all when sipped on its own. 

Arneis
Wonderfully full-bodied, this aromatic variety from northwestern Italy has surprising heft for a white wine, making it an excellent choice for food pairings where you might otherwise look to red.  But take note: Arneis' eclectic flavor profile - think blossoms, pears and herbs, punctuated by an almond finish - make it tricky for food pairings, though it may just be tailor-made for chicken salad tossed with dill, almond slivers, pear slices and a kiss of dried cranberry.
Note: look for versions from Roero DOC.

Top 10 DIY Wine Tasting Themes

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Wine glasses

Image by slack12 via Flickr

By Courtney Cochran

As a wine writer and some time hip wine party planner, I'm asked time and again about how to throw a great wine tasting at home. Naturally, I've no shortage of ideas. And given that the recession has inspired ever more tasters to turn to their own homes and devices to explore the vinous world in all its grape glory, I here submit my top recommendations for easy-to-implement wine tastings in your home. As for wrangling the troops, that's entirely up to you.  

The Wine Next Door
With wine now made in all 50 of our great states, it's never been easier to host a tasting highlighting wines raised in your own 'hood. Whether your area specializes in Rhône reds (AZ), crisp Rieslings (NY), Bordeaux reds (CO) or Seyval Blanc (GA), there's bound to be something interesting to get to know.  For a cool twist on this theme (or for those whose local wines may be far from new news), try a tasting that features wines from little-known locales around the US. 

Special Bottle Sunday
Inspired by the national phenomenon that grew out of longtime, Wall Street Journal wine columnists Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher's Open That Special Bottle Night, Special Bottle Sunday is just what it sounds like: an evening to invite over your friends to share special wines you've all been saving for...you can't remember any more.  The theme makes for a wonderfully congenial tasting that focuses on great friends and great wine - and reminds you all that you don't have to have a reason to enjoy the better things in life.
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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.

Clef du Vin: Best Wine Gadget Ever, Or Just Another Expensive One?

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clefduvin.jpgBy Deirdre Bourdet

The Clef du Vin purportedly allows a collector to identify when his or her wines will be at their prime by mimicking the aging process.  For each second the copper-looking alloy is submerged in the wine, the wine supposedly "ages" one year.  If true, this has got to be the best gadget ever invented!!  Imagine taking the guesswork out of when to drink your precious bottles, and even out of which bottles to buy for the collection.  Imagine being able to buy only cheap, young wine and having it taste like pricy, aged collectors' items in a matter of seconds.

Decanting 101

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By Courtney Cochran
Twitter: @HipTastesMaven

From a purely practical standpoint, we decant wine for two reasons: to remove sediment from older bottles, and to aerate younger wines to enhance their aromas and flavors. But there's a third reason for decanting that's equally important, though rarely acknowledged: Decanting wine is one of the most visually captivating things you can do surrounding wine service, and the act adds an undeniable sense of heightened ceremony to any special occasion.

Given all of these perks, don't you think it's time you mastered the art of decanting?

Holiday Sparklers

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Tis' the season to be sparkly! Our present to you? A perfect sparkling and festive accessory- for your glass that is! After all, what could be more beautiful and festive than the red, white and sparkling wine swirling in your hand? To receive this gift, simply click to our friends below and get ready to choose that perfect holiday accessory to sparkle your glass!

Champagne & Sparkling Wine

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



Cooking With Wine

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When You Actually Put It In the Food

By Deirdre Bourdet

Some may consider the deliberate pouring of wine into anything other than a drinking vessel or eager mouth a shameful, wasteful act.  While I see their point, wine-based cooking also happens to be one of the most delicious, easy, and traditional techniques for creating wine-friendly food.  A splash of red to deglaze your meat searing pan, a dash of white to loosen up those all-too-quickly browning onions, and you've suddenly added worlds of flavor, depth, and sophistication to your creation.
 
Then there are the truly wine-based recipes (coq au vin, boeuf bourguignon, moules marinière, etc.) where the wine takes center stage.  Typically there is a great deal of reduction involved--simmering the wine with other ingredients to concentrate flavor and reduce the volume of liquid to a thicker, more sauce-like consistency.  These recipes make you confront the question of which bottle to use head-on, because the quality of the wine reduction really sets the tone of the dish.

Must-Have Glasses For Holiday Party Season

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Fusion-Infinity-placesetting.jpgby Deirdre Bourdet

Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away, and while most people have started planning their menus, most people haven't given much thought to rustling up stemware for the hordes of celebrants about to descend.  Big gatherings tend to bring out those back-of-the-cupboard wine "goblets," or the ever-festive plastic glasses--both because of necessity (few people have 14 Spiegelau glasses on hand), and because no tears will be shed when the inevitable shattering occurs.

Having recently broken two Riedels at home myself, I decided it was time to check out the purportedly "break-resistant" wine glasses Wine Enthusiast stocks.  Fusion stemware is made of lead-free European crystal fused with magnesium, and is backed with a 10-year warranty.  If the glasses shatter from normal klutziness, Wine Enthusiast will replace it for free.  (See full details at wineenthusiast.com/Fusion)  Now obviously this is still crystal, so if you hurl it to the sidewalk in a fury, it will almost certainly break--and not be covered by the warranty.  But Fusion is apparently immune to those everyday backhands that bring down your glass and its contents in a cascade of splintered pain.  

What Wines to Serve for Thanksgiving

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Are you at a loss when deciding on which wine to serve for Thanksgiving? Rest assured, you're not alone! Surprisingly (or not), trying to pair the perfect wine to accompany the wide variety of food we encounter with this wonderful meal is a common dilemma.  The good news is, we can help! Watch the videos below and get expert tips from those who know best. Now, what to do with eccentric family members?  We'll leave that to you!





Boo Worthy Wines

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by Courtney Cochran

dessertWine1.jpgIn a curious twist of linguistic fate, some decidedly frightening-sounding statements have been lately transformed into vehicles of praise. Mostly refashioned, as far as I can tell, by loquacious members of the surfer/skater culture prevalent in California, the phrases run the gamut of topics and references, but given the time of year I've singled out two that undoubtedly invoke Halloween.

A sampling: .

"These [insert noun in the plural form] are scary good!"

Translation: These [things] are delicious.

"That [insert noun] was wicked bad."
Translation: That [thing] was very cool/extremely impressive. (Note: True to the ironic spirit of this group, the use of two negative descriptors - "wicked" and "bad" - in this one makes it all that much more complimentary.

And so, to borrow a page from this verbally adventuresome sub-culture, I'd like to say that the following sweet wines are scary good, and that serving them on Halloween this year would be wicked bad of you.





Swirl, Sniff, Sip, Repeat

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By Deirdre Bourdet

tastingParty.jpgWine tasting parties always seem like such a fun, good idea, particularly this time of year as the evenings get chillier, and harvest-themed wine events get pricier.  If only someone else would throw one... but actually, hosting a wine-tasting is a snap when you keep it simple.

Step 1: Pick a tasting theme--like oak vs. no oak Chardonnay, Napa vs. Sonoma, Old World vs. New World, or some other contest fraught with passion and potential conflict.  If you need thematic inspiration, or suggestions for generally-available wines at all price points that are good examples of regional or stylistic wines, check out Great Wine Made Simple by Andrea Immer (now known as Andrea Immer Robinson). 

If the Glass Fits

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A Sommelier's Take on the Supposedly Perfect Glass

by Courtney Cochran


As a little girl I believed that, really truly, Cinderella's glass slipper was made just for her. Not only had she gone through all that heartache and pain before finally getting her chance with the prince, she had such a perfectly tiny foot it seemed like destiny that she'd wind up not only wearing the shoe, but wed to the dashing guy.

Fast forward about 20-some years to last night, when I found myself seated in a comfy conference room at the Ritz Carlton in San Francisco, thinking not so much of fairy tale princesses as fairy tale stemware. I was assembled there with more than a dozen wine journalists, all gazing skeptically at a very dapper Austrian dude at the front of the room.

Although not exactly a prince, Georg Riedel is most definitely cut of an elegant mold. The current head of his family's renowned Austrian glassmaking firm, Riedel was there in his fancy suit and clipped accent to tell us all how, really truly, wine tastes better when it's served in his Sommelier series glasses. Only this time he had a much tougher audience than Cinderella's impressionable four-year-olds!

Get Rave Reviews - Host Your Own Wine Tasting!

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Submitted by My Wines Direct

The reviews are in on the My Wines Direct Home Tasting Party Kit, and the critics agree...hosting your own wine party can be fun and easy! The group over at WineMavens.com sampled our Tasting Party Kit and here's what they had to say:

"Lots of legs"
"Smells like vodka"
"I don't really know why I like it but I do."

You'd think my friend Meredith was describing a blurry night in a hotel room in Vegas. You can just imagine the sunglasses, venti Starbucks and the six of us Sorority sisters ohing and ahing and digging for details at brunch the next day a la Sex and the City. But alas, that will be saved for another write-up my friends. I am in fact quoting from an event much more morning-after friendly (and with many fewer embarrassing pictures) and appropriate for our everyday grape enjoyment: a wine tasting party I threw with a rockin set up designed by My Wines Direct. No miniskirt or VIP pass necessary. You don't even need to know the difference between a merlot and a cab. Well maybe you'd want to, but your party will end with many more memorable comments when your guests aren't the biggest imbibers of the vino.


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 . . .

Wedding Wines

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wedding.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

As every bride-to-be knows, a wedding is about much more than just the ceremony - it's also about the many special occasions (Dress shopping! Shower! Bachelorette!) leading up to "the big event." 

What's more, every oeno-inclined bride-to-be also knows that each and every one of these occasions is destined to be still more memorable when paired with the perfect glass of wine. 

In this spirit, read on for our complete list of wine suggestions for weddings - as well for all of the associated fêtes that come before happily ever after.

Burn, Baby, Burn: Best Wines for BBQ

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A Sommelier Sheds Light on the Best Wines for BBQ
by Courtney Cochran

Firing, roasting, and grilling are decidedly du rigueur during the summer months, but finding wines that work well with this tricky fare can be a challenge. Just as shining a spotlight on an actor onstage brings her features into focus for an audience, these cooking methods serve to concentrate the flavors of whatever's being cooked, necessitating a wine with both strength and personality to stand up to the food.

Read on for the low-down on some of the more common characteristics of flame-cooked fare and how to track down the perfect wines to pair with these traits.

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

Wine Tasting Etiquette

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wineEtiquette.jpgApparently there is a certain etiquette to wine tasting. If so, I should enroll some of my friends who seem to think it is impolite to not drink all the wine offered and after two wineries are tipsy. Then, of course there is always the one guy in the group who wants to showcase that he just read wine basics 101 online. Hint: No one cares. Let us enjoy the wine in peace or at least hear from the expert behind the wine tasting counter.

Columnist Nathaniel Bauer knows who you are and he has compiled together 10 etiquette tips for wine tasting.

Some you might know, others may be new, either way, it's always good to review!  Read full article here.

Cool, Refreshing White Wines for Summer

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It's not officially summer, but it's starting to warm up across the country. Which can only mean one thing - break out the tank tops, shorts, BBQ grills, a couple of beers and of course some wine to relax with in the backyard.

Gary from WineLibrary TV has some excellent suggestions for chill, crisp, white wines.


Days of Wine and Mutts

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These wineries not only tolerate dogs-they warmly welcome them

By Andrea Stutzman

As seen in Napa Sonoma Magazine

Even dogs need a break from the monotony of the workweek. Instead of leaving your dog at home when you hit the wineries, why not bring her along? Many destinations have their own dogs and welcome your well-behaved pooches. Here are a few that are especially dog friendly.

Read More

CLICK HERE - To Order your personal copy of Napa Sonoma Magazine


Additional Dog Friendly Articles:

Dog Friendly Wineries in Napa Valley

Kunde: Wag-Worthy Winery

Pet-Friendly Lodging in Wine Country

Ruff Hotels

Temecula Just Says No to Drunks

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By Courtney Cochran

In a novel move for a wine region, So Cal's Temecula Valley lately initiated a program seeking to curb the disruptive antics of overly inebriated visitors to valley wineries. Citing incidents such as impromptu bachelor parties - replete with the likes of booze-emboldened revelers and raunchy blow up dolls - that often spill into tasting rooms (making ordinary sipping more than a little uncomfortable for better behaved visitors), the Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association put the program into place last November.

Aroma and Tasting Guide: Reds

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by Courtney Cochran

Grape Variety

Common Aromas

Common Flavors

Pinot Noir

Light ruby with brown or pink rim

Red fruits: cherry, strawberry

Also: vanilla, caramel, smoke, earth, leather, game, spice, tobacco

Red fruits: cherry, strawberry

Also: vanilla, caramel, smoke, earth, game, spice, pomegranate

Merlot

Medium ruby with pink tones

Red fruits: plum, cherry, strawberry

Also: chocolate, vanilla, cream, coffee, herbs, tea leaves

Red fruits: plum, cherry, strawberry

Also: chocolate, vanilla, cream, coffee, herbs

Cabernet Sauvignon

Deep ruby

 

 

Red/dark fruits: raspberry, cranberry, cherry, blackcurrants

Also: spearmint, pencil shavings, cedar, oak, coffee, tobacco, dust

Red/dark fruits: raspberry, cranberry, cherry, blackcurrants

Also: spearmint, coffee, licorice, bell pepper, tobacco

Syrah/Shiraz

Deep cherry with pink rim

 

Red fruits: stewed plum

Also: pepper, licorice, spice, earth, jam, deli meats, tar, smoke

Red fruits: stewed plum  

Also: pepper, licorice, spice, jam, deli meats

Nebbiolo (Barolo & Barbaresco)

Medium brick with brown rim

Red fruits: strawberry, jam

Also: tobacco, smoke, tea leaves, coffee, tar, eucalyptus, anise, floral

Red fruits: strawberry, jam

Also: tobacco, smoke, coffee, anise, mint

 

Zinfandel

Ruby to brick

(color varies)

 

Red/dark fruits: jammy blackberry and raspberry, cherry, plum

Also: tar, pepper, spice, herbs, licorice, cinnamon

Red/dark fruits: jammy blackberry and raspberry, cherry, plum

Also: pepper, spice, herbs, licorice, cinnamon

Aroma and Tasting Guide: Whites

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by Courtney Cochran

Grape Variety

Common Aromas

Common Flavors

Sauvignon Blanc

Pale yellow with green tinge

Citrus fruits: grapefruit, lemon, lime  

Greenness: freshly cut grass, honeysuckle, rainforest *FRESH*

Minerality: slate, wet pavement

Citrus fruits: grapefruit, lemon, lime

Greenness: tomato, herbs

Also:   mineral, smoke (if oaked), sometimes melon and passion fruit

Riesling

Very pale yellow, nearly translucent

 

Citrus fruits: candied lemon

Stone fruits: apricot, peach

Tropical fruits: banana, pineapple

Also: mineral, slate, petrol, melon

Citrus fruits: candied lemon

Stone fruits: apricot, peach

Tropical fruits: banana, pineapple

Also: mineral, melon, honey

Chardonnay

Medium straw

 

Pome fruits: apple (green or red)

Tropical fruits: banana, pineapple

Also: vanilla, butter, cream, baking spices, lemon or lime, toast, oak

Pome fruits: apple (green or red)

Tropical fruits: banana, pineapple

Also: vanilla, butter, cream, baking spices, citrus fruit, toast

Gewurztraminer

Golden peach

 

Pome fruits: quince, pear

Stone fruits: apricot, peach

Also: rose water, lychee, spice, rose, flowers, melon, lemon rind

Pome fruits: quince, pear

Stone fruits: apricot, peach

Also: lychee, spice, honey, baking spices, melon

Viognier

Deep gold

Stone fruits: white peach, apricot

Also: flower blossoms, baking spices, caramel, cream, toast

Stone fruits: white peach, apricot

Also: baking spices, caramel, cream, toast

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.

Gift Guide 2008 - Wine Gadgets

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iStock_000003501714XSmall.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

This holiday season, make an impression on the oenophiles on your list with stylish wine gifts of all stripes.  Read on for some of our favorites. 

Vacu Vin Crystal Wine Servers $5
Give the gift of a non-drip pour - non-drip pour spouts, that is.  These special non-drip servers snap easily into the neck of most open wine bottles and add a touch of elegance to a meal or tasting.  Remove for easy cleaning, and re-use.  Particularly handy if you're pouring over carpeting or guests' clothing where spilled wine would be - shall we say - a most unwelcome addition to the party.   

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.

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.

East Bay Wineries Create Urban Tasting Experience

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By Robert P. Farmereastbayvintners.jpg

Most people rightly associate Wine Country - no matter which region you're talking about -- with the country. It's hard not to think about with Wine Country experience and not think about the bucolic countryside. It's the most common setting when one thinks about wineries and vineyards. But there is a growing trend in cities around the nation that is shaking that perception by its rootstock. The Urban Winery Phenomenon has recently been making more noise in the wine industry than a traffic jam in the heart of Market Street. And not only is it changing the way people taste wine, it's changing the entire concept of what constitutes a winery.

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.

Pink Out, Indeed

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roseWine1.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

AC Nielsen news keeps on confounding, now with reports that sales of rosé wine in the US rose an astounding 53.2% during the 52-week period recently surveyed.  These gains - which apply to bottles of rosé priced $8 and up - represent more than 17 times the increase in table wine sales observed during the same period.


Think Inside the Wine Box

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By Robert Farmer

wineinbox.jpg

Years ago, before I began actually appreciating wine, I attended parties that featured wine that poured from a box. Granted, I was college-age or just a bit older, and the demographic of these parties was such that box wine was to be expected--indeed it was typically appreciated by the very few in attendance not drinking beer. But it also had the stigma of being, well, cheap. And in my more recent years, which have brought a personal wine-drinking evolution, little has changed my perception of that stigma.  


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