Friday, April 5, 2013

Wine Temperature: To Chill or Not to Chill?

I have tasted a lot of wines and I can honestly say there is nothing worse than sipping on a warm glass of wine! If you are one of those people who pops the cork without considering the temperature of your wine, you are missing out on its true flavor! To get the most out of your bottle, consider chilling before popping- It will change the way you taste wine forever.

In my experience, most people think you can open red wine at room temperature, but did you know that chilling it just a bit will help the flavors really stand out? What is the correct temperature your wine should be chilled? Are you chilling your white wine for too long? Should I chill my reds?? Luckily our friends at Corkcicle have all the answers!

One of my favorite accessories to chill wine is the Corkcicle. Not only is it one of Oprah's Favorite Things for 2012, it will dramatically change the way you taste and think about wine. It keeps your chilled whites and lighter chilled reds at perfect drinking temperature and it is super easy to use. Simply start by chilling the corkcicle in the freezer. For white wine, pour the first chilled glass. For red wines, pour a 'splash' out to make room for the corkcicle. Then pop it into your white or red bottle (15 min for reds) to keep it chilled. When you are done with it, just give it a wash and use again!

While you are perusing through their collection be sure to check out their latest blog: Wine Temperature...What's All The Fuss About? 

Now in Color!
Original Corkcicle

Friday, March 22, 2013

5 Great Wines Under $10

Over the past few months I have been buying and trying several types of wines that are affordable and that I call "everyday wines". These are wines that you can feel comfortable serving at a dinner party, a small get together, or give as a gift. They won't break the bank and they don't taste 'cheap'. Let's face it, there are some wines out there that do taste cheap and are just not very good. If you are going to spend your money, you may as well buy something that you actually like drinking! You can spend $10 on a very good bottle, or $10 on a really terrible bottle, but you don't really know until you try it.
I have done some of the trying and have come up with Five Great Wines $10 and Under.

Please note that with any wine, it is important to open it at least an hour ahead of serving so it has time to breath. If you don't have an hour then use a wine aerotor while pouring into glasses. Pouring the bottle into a carafe will help open the wine up as well.


McManis Family Merlot (2011)
Total Wine or K&L Wine Merchant
$7.99- $8.99
La Finca Malbe (2011)
Trader Joe's
Altes Grenache (2011)
K&L Wine Merchant
Carmenair Red Blend (2010)
Trader Joe's
Souverain Cabernet Sauvignon (2010)
North Coast
Total Wine

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Beringer Cellar Sale

Napa here I come!
The Beringer Cellar Sale only comes twice a year and it is a great time to stock up on your favorite Beringer wine's and grab some hidden gems! You can save up to 50% on selected current releases, older vintages, closeout wines, merchandise and more. The event provides lots of wine tasting, food pairings, cave tours, and live music!
Come enjoy the fun on March 23rd, 2013.


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Bubbly For Any Occasion

Did you know champagne pairs well with Thai food? What about Seafood?  Or Cheese?

Many people tend to think you can only drink champagne at formal events. They couldn't be more wrong. Champagne pairs well with a variety of different foods and can be drank at any time of the day.

Before you pop a bottle, take into consideration these simple guidelines:

Champagne or Sparkline Wine? 
The new craze is having mimosa's with brunch. It's a great idea but if you are adding orange juice, cranberry juice, or any other juice, do not splurge on an expensive bottle! I would recommend an affordable bottle of sparkling wine that you can find at any grocery store. Truly great champagne should be drank by itself.

Know the Difference.
Champagne is a sparkling wine that is produced in the Champagne region of France. It can not be labeled Champagne if the grapes are not from Champagne region.
Sparkling wines are produced worldwide and have many different names. Cava (Spain), Prosecco (Italy), Brut (British).
The bottle posted below is a $40 bottle of real champagne and is rated higher than $100 bottles on the same shelf. The reason: Some makers will buy their grapes from other wineries in the champagne region, which they in turn pass the cost on to you. A winery that has their own champagne grapes isn't passing all the extra costs of buying, labeling, packaging the grapes on to the consumer.

It has been said, the less bubbles in a glass, the better the champagne will taste. The bubbles should be tiny and float just enough for you to see them before disappearing or settles.

These notes and opinions are entirely my own. Grab a bottle and judge for yourself. There is no right or wrong way in choosing when and where to pop a bottle of bubbly!

A great way to learn more about Champagne is to ask your local wine store sommelier.

Click here to learn more about Champagne and Sparkling Wines


Amo Il Vino

Translation, "I love wine!" 

Today, my blog will take a new direction. I recently discovered that I have many, many, many pictures of wine bottles on my phone. What good do the pictures do if I can't share a great bottle with my friends! I will now be posting these photos to my blog and updating with my thoughts (ie, great buy, keep looking, jammy, fruity, definitely aerate, great for date night). One thing you'll notice is that I take a lot of pictures that include cheese and other accompaniments. I think we can all agree that presentation is everything!

To make sure I start this off on the right foot, I posted one of my favorite bottles of wine. You may not be into sports or care that my San Francisco Giants won the World Series two of the last three years (shame on you), but we can all agree that Duckhorn makes a fantastic wine. This is a special release of 2010 red table wine produced by Duckhorn. It will run you around $30 at Cost Plus or any other wine specialty store.

Swirl, taste, enjoy!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Good Knowledge: Wine Tasting Etiquette

Today I stumbled across this great lighthearted article written by my good friend Zeke Hampton. Zeke is well rounded when it comes to pouring wine and loves to extend his knowledge to customers. I have done a fair share of wine tasting and find his honesty to be spot on about attitudes and overall etiquette when stepping into a tasting room. 
As you read through his pointers you may recognize some guffaws made by yourself or friends but take to heart what he is sharing and you will soon find yourself a tasting room pro!

12 Etiquette Tips To Live By When Going Wine Tasting
By: Ezekiel Hampton

Here is a list of helpful pointers to remember when going winetasting. I wrote this with a bit of tongue-in-cheek, so no need to be offended by the intensities. I hope you have this memorized by heart the next time you plan on visiting some tasting rooms. The most important thing to remember is to have fun. I welcome any questions one might have. Cheers!
1. SCENT. Don't wear heavy colognes or perfumes because it will be distracting and those around you from smelling the wine aromas, which is an intricate part of wine tasting. Also, if you smoke...don't do it before or during your tasting because, like the colognes and perfumes, it will interfere from enjoying the wine and appreciating its distinct aromas. If you want to pair your cigarettes with your wine, do it at home where no one else will be offended. 

2. ATTIRE. Some people think that wine tasting means you have to wear your Sunday best. I may not necessarily speak for everyone in the industry on my feelings regarding the issue of dress, but I believe that wine should not be pretenious. Unfortunately, the Napa Valley has garnered a snobby reputation that has put-off the idea of winetasting for many. Dress comfortably....dress however you want. If anyone gives judgmental vibes, then they are the ones who will appear amateur as well as rude.  

3. LADIES. Don't wear heavy lipstick or lip gloss...someone actually cleans the glasses (or at least handles them) and seeing your "gunk" on the glass is just gross. What is mixed in with the makeup anyways (my guess is food, saliva, plaque, and germs)?  

4. YOUNG'UNS. For all the young yuppie parents who strive to be appear cultured....please don't drag your darling undisciplined children out winetasting. The kids don't want to be there, and their unrestrained hyper behavior is not wanted in a tasting room. Sorry...we don't find their behavior cute, funny, or bearable. They distract other wine tasters and prevent the host from providing information on the wines. Bottom line: Don't go wine tasting and bring along your kids. Wineries are not theme parks or day care centers.  

5. WINE TALK. Please don't come into tasting rooms and brag about how much of a wine-o you are and how much wine you buy. Also, don't try to talk "wine talk" like you know what you're talking just makes you look silly. i.e. "Oh wow look at those legs!" "Oh that has too many tannins for my taste. It's really tannic." "Oh yeah... that was a really good year!" "Merlot sucks" "Yeah I only drink really good Rombauer chardonnay and Silver Oak." "Oh that's pretty oaky." "How long can you age this wine? (oh you have a giant cellar and buy wines to age them 20 years? Then why are you showing up with complimentary tasting coupons or so concerned with a tasting fee?!). Being overeager in asking about the wine club before or right after the first taste is a sure sign that you are probably not really serious about it. 

6. FLIGHT LIST. Wine hosts find it rude when you stick your glass in their face and say " I'm on #3 (etc)." Each wine is crafted specifically, and if you do not even know what you're tasting then why are you there? The wine host should give you plenty of information on what you're drinking so kindly pay attention so they are not wasting their breath. Also, you do not need to strive for the aromas and tastes that the tasting sheet/wine descriptors suggest. Some people think that by exclaiming, "Ooh! I really taste the graphite in this one!" that they are 'correctly' identifying the profile of the wine. While those who write the descriptors (usually the winemaker) have ample experience tasting wines, there is also a flair for the dramatic and romantic when poetically describing the wines. I mean c' an essay on what you believe (or want others to believe) about the wine really necessary? Sometimes the descriptors can be fun to read, but don't take it as gospel. At the end of the day, it's all relative and you like what you like.

7. POURS. One is not obligated to drink everything that's poured for them. So there is no need to remind the wine host everytime he/she pours that you want just a "teeny teeny" bit. We get it, you are not trying to get drunk (kudos)...but don't be obnoxious or OCD with the size of the wine pours. There is no need to feel guilty about dumping wine...that's part of the wine tasting experience and something that proprietors understand when opening a tasting room. The costs are covered. Also, there is no need to rinse your glass with water in between tasting wines. Water diludes the wine post-rinse. When switiching over from whites to reds, kindly ask for a rinse (the wine host should pour you a small amount of the red wine in your glass. swirl it and then dump it. the host will then fill our glass with a taste of the red wine). Honestly, using water as rinse is not a huge deal...but if you want to get the best expression of the wine it is better to use the wine itself as a rinse. 

8. MORE WINE? Want to try any additional wines that possibly might be opened that are not on the 'tasting list?' Then act like you're really interested in the wines. Ask questions (there is really no dumb question if it's sincere), as wine tasting should be just as educational as it is tasty. Bring a notepad if you wish, as it will come in handy when trying to recall the wines (the technical information as well as your own personal feelings about it) as well as make you appear to be serious. Wine hosts are eager to please and impress those who are genuine in their quest for knowledge. I should also note that there is nothing wrong with going wine tasting as an experience rather a going on a quest for good wines, as there are wineries that focus on "experience" and there are wineries that focus on wine. 

9. POST-TASTING. There is no obligation to buy wine and a hospitable, professional host will not pressure you...but for the love of Bob, don't pretend like you're REALLY interested in buying by saying/doing one of the following: "Can I buy these wines online?" "Can I take your pricing sheet with me? We just got into town and we're going to taste around, but we'll come back to buy some at the end." Let's just cut the bull...there's no need to be anything but honest: "I really like the wines but I'm not interested in purchasing today." "I like the wines but I am looking to buy some in a different price point." You will appear less silly, as wine hosts hear on a daily basis plenty of attempts to gracefully bow out of buying wine like their ashamed or embarassed of it. It's no big deal, so need to play games. 

10. LATE AFTERNOON TASTING. Most tasting rooms are flooded in the last hour that they are open with winetasters looking to get "one last drink" in before closing time. If a winery closes at 5:00pm, don't come in at 4:50pm and expect to go through a flight. Last call is not at 5:00pm, that's when it closes. Most tasting rooms won't start new flights fifteen minutes before close. Those trying to squeeze in one more tasting are usually at least buzzed, and not seriously interested in purchasing wine. Besides, the palate is usually shot from prior tastings so what's the point if not trying to get your buzz on?

11. TIPPING. Winetasting is not like dining out, so a tip is not necessarily expected. If a wine host was genunine, kind, informative, and giving of their time...then tipping is a nice gesture, especially if you do not happen to buy any wine. Wise man say: "Those who tip, may get extra wine next time."

12. LARGE GROUPS. Most tasting room hosts groan at the sight of lemos, buses, or large parties coming in to "party taste." Most higher-end wineries often won't allow these groups to taste, especially without any kind of prior appointment. If you are going winetasting in a large group, don't act like a jackass. Be respectful of other people tasting because they don't want to be distracted with your party-time vibe. Bachelorette parties are probably the worst...coming in with a sash and tiarra is obnoxious and we will probably judge you for it. If you are tasting in a group of more than 4 people, it is always respectful to call the winery ahead of time and either make an appointment or see if there is time available to come in to taste. Smaller wineries often lack space or available time/labor to accomadate such groups. If you are going to be more than 10-15 minutes late to your appointment or you need to cancel, it is rude not to call ahead. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Summer Get-Away: Tahoe Style!

Summer is finally here and I can't think of a better way to start it off than with a post about my favorite spots in Lake Tahoe. When I was growing up I spent many summer vacations at Sand Harbor State Beach. It was my home away from home and something we always looked forward to as kids. 
I've compiled a list of must do's in Tahoe so get some peeps together and take a ride!

*Start your adventure at Tahoe's Northwest Shore- Tahoe City. There is plenty to keep you busy including, shopping, eating, drinking, golfing, swimming, or renting a boat to take in some breathtaking views of the lake and surrounding scenery.

*Lunch at Gar Woods. But don't plan on doing anything else that day if you go for the Wet Woody pitcher. The food ranges from burgers and steaks to seafood. Gar Wood's outdoor patio is a stone's throw to the water and will provide excellent views of Tahoe while enjoying a cocktail and some food. There is also a public doc with buoy's provided for all the boat in diners.

*If you are feeling lucky, you may want to stop and gamble at Cal Neva Resort. It is the only property in the country located in two states- on the California & Nevada border. The hotel was once a secret haven for Frank Sinatra and his Rat Pack, San Francisco's upper crust, Hollywood's stars and international dignitaries. Gambling isn't the only thing to do here. You can also schedule a secret tunnel tour and learn about the history of the hotel. 

*Travel north to Lakeshore Boulevard, drive through Incline Village and admire all the huge "Cinderella houses" (as my sister and I like to refer to them). Try some more gambling and maybe an overnight stay at the Hyatt Regency Resort . There is also a private beach owned by Hyatt where you can rent cabanas and eat, drink, or swim all day long.

*South of Incline Village on State route 28 is Sand Harbor State Park. White sand beaches, clear blue waters, rocky coves, panoramic lake views, sunburns and childhood memories make up all the great qualities of this special beach. Hands down my favorite place. Get there early in the a.m. to secure a good spot in the sand! There is a beach area for non-boaters which also fills up very quick on the weekends. If you frequent Lake Tahoe you know that the winds and white caps pick up by 3pm so get there early!  During July and August, the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival at Sand Harbor offers the Bard’s best plays set against the awe-inspiring backdrop of Lake Tahoe.

*If the modest person in you wants to get a little daring, try the 'Nudey' beach- as our parents liked to call it. This not-so secret beach lies just south of Sand Harbor State Park. You can hike or boat in. My experience here is very limited as our view came from about a mile away while boating on the lake!

*You will find plenty to keep you busy in Tahoe's South Shore
. Visitor's can hike, golf, swim, boat, ski, gamble, eat, drink, play, and stay all week in the lake's biggest 'city'. During the summer months you can catch an outdoor concert at the popular Heavenly Valley Resort.

*Emerald Bay- if you are in the car, get out and do some rock climbing and take some pics of Eagle Falls. If you boat in, anchor at Vikingsholm and take a swim. Its crowded on a good day but well worth it. Lunch, drinks, hiking, swimming = good times. Emerald Bay is also one of Tahoe's most photographed landmarks. 

*Some people like to do physical activities while on vacation. If that's you, try hiking the Rubicon Trail. It starts at the Vikingholm Parking lot at Emerald Bay and ends at D.L. Bliss State Park. The hike is roughly 4.5 miles long so pack some snacks and plenty of water! Caution: Do not try and hike this trail after a good night of drinking adult beverages!

*Continue north on Hwy 89 to Sunnyside Resort where you'll find good eats and drink, great views of the lake, and outdoor bar with dining. Private beach and docks for summer vacation rentals make this a great week long getaway. Like me, you can spend many hours sunbathing in the water or beach. 

There are so many more things to do in Tahoe but I hope this list of favorites will steer you in the right direction or help you decide on your next vacation destination!