Must-try Summer Wines: Bubbles, Rosé and More!

Looking for an amazing addition to your pool party, backyard bbq or summertime soiree? Check out my favorite picks then watch my time in the 8 o’clock hour at the Today Show!

Rosé All Day:

Americans have finally discovered the joy of rosé. Drinking pink is one of the hottest trends in wine with double-digit growth. These garnet-hued beauties can be made in myriad styles resulting in wines with a whisper of color or those more intensely pink. Most rosés are dry and crisp, while blush wines and those dubbed ‘white’ (as in white zinfandel) tend to be sweeter. With flavors ranging from delicate strawberry and citrus, to juicy red berry and spice, there’s a pink for everyone to drink.

2016 Minuty ‘M’ Rosé, Cotes du Provence, France $20

Packaged in a curvaceous, sexy bottle, this classic rosé hails from southern France’s Provence area. One of the top producers in the region with a rich history dating to the 19th century, Chateau Minuty is known for elegance, quality, and class. A pale-hued pink with floral aromas and peachy flavors, the ‘M’ is a Marvelous summer sip.

2016 Forty Ounce Rosé, France $16 (one liter)

A bang-for-your-buck bottling, this Gamay-based wine captures the essence of a sunny day in the French countryside, but with an American twist. New York-based sommelier, Patrick Cappiello, joined forces with French vintner, Julien Braud, to create this light-hearted pink that’s high on tongue-in-cheek style.

2016 Summer Water, Central Coast, California $19

A collaboration of Yes Way Rosé and Winc, the Summer Water is an easy-drinking pink that says it all with the name. I prefer to drink rosé over water on most summer afternoons anyway, and this wine pairs with dishes from grilled salmon to fruit salads. (If you join their wine club, the price goes to $15.)

2016 Tablas Creek ‘Patelin de Tablas’ Rosé, Paso Robles, California $24

Who said rosé can’t be a serious sipper? This one most certainly is. Primarily Grenache grapes blended with other Rhone varieties such as Mourvèdre and Syrah, it’s an aromatic, mineral-laden pink. Though Californian in birth, Tablas Creek is French at heart with the famed Perrin family of Chateau de Beaucastel involved.

 

Beach Bound or Poolside?

These selections are lower in alcohol than other wines offering quaffable fun in the sun.

 

Barefoot White Wine Spritzer, California $9 (four pack)

Barefoot Wine is among the top selling wine brands in the world. The reason? Good wine at great prices wrapped in a feel-good vibe.

Everyone wants to dump the shoes and walk barefoot in the sand. Now, you can do it with can in hand. This slightly fizzy tin-of-fun is a blend of Chenin Blanc and Symphony grapes topped with carbonated water, making it an ideal beach companion.

La Grande Courtâge Rosé and Brut, Sparkling Wine, France $7 (per 187 ml)

Want to upscale your outdoor imbibing? Reach for a mini from La Grande Courtâge. A French sparkler made by a Californian, Tawnya Falkner, the brand is an ode to the marriage of French and American culture. It’s a unique option for those wanting to indulge al fresco. Just add a straw, then sit back and relax.

Eppa Red Sangria, California $10

Ringing in at a mere 9 percent alcohol, this super-Sangria is organically-grown red wine blended with organic juices including pomegranate, blueberry, and blood orange. The refreshing red is ideal over ice with sliced fruit. Enjoy a pitcher poolside and let summer begin.

 

Global Grilling with Latin Flair:

From Spain to South America, these selections bring a little heat to dishes hot off the grill. There are no rules when it comes to pairing white wine with fish and red with meat, but if a spicy shrimp platter or Cajun-rubbed chicken breast is on the menu, reach for one of these two mouthwatering coastal whites to tame the fire.

 

2015 Ritual Sauvignon Blanc, Casablanca Valley, Chile $15

 

A classic pairing with fiery fare is Sauvignon Blanc. This citrus-scented version is made from grapes grown in cool-climate vineyards on Chile’s Pacific Coast. Made by the talented hands of Rodrigo Soto – one of the country’s acclaimed winemakers – the Ritual is a winner for not only warm-weather sipping, but year ‘round imbibing.

2015 Fillaboa Albariño, Rías Baixas, Spain $18

For an exotic take on crisp whites, head to Spain’s west coast to sample Albariño. An Iberian Peninsula grape variety, it explodes with orange blossom aromas and succulent fruit flavors. Fillaboa is one of my top-pick producers from the area of Galicia called Spain’s “land of the sea.” Don your shades and take a virtual vacation in a glass.

 

When barbecue ribs or perfectly-seared rib eye is served, think of these spicy reds to pair alongside.

2014 Clos de los Siete, Valle de Uco, Mendoza, Argentina $20

Made high in the Andes by noted French winemaker, Michel Rolland, this Malbec-driven blend combines Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon in a full-bodied, dark-fruited red that’s supple and alluring. Still sporting elegance, however, it’s an ideal match for steak, steak, and more steak.

 2008 Arinzano ‘La Casona’ Pago de Arinzano, Spain $40

Want to splurge on your next grilling red? Reach for this exceptional bottling from Arinzano. Noted as one of the top estates—or Pagos – in Spain, La Casona is made with the signature red grape Tempranillo rounded out with Merlot. A lush, age-worthy red, it’s a wine to drink with anything…or nothing at all.

 

Summer Holiday Celebrations, American Style:

From July 4th to Labor Day, these American wines with a story to tell are ones to share with a crowd.

 

2016 The Federalist Chardonnay, Mendocino County, California $17.76

With the smashing success of Broadway’s Hamilton, it’s no surprise there is a wine brand celebrating our Founding Fathers and

wine’s role in American history. This oak-kissed, smooth Chardonnay showcases Lady Liberty on the label making it fab for the 4th. The price is what else? $17.76.

2014 Purple Heart Red Wine, Napa Valley, California $20

You can do good and drink well during summer gatherings with Purple Heart. A rich red blend

that’s delicious to sip is one reason to buy the wine, but the other is that annual donations are
made to the Purple Heart Foundation in honor of American military veterans and their families.

Chandon ‘American Summer’ Brut sparkling wine, California $26

Wrapped in a seascape of red, white and blue, this limited-edition bottling from Chandon is a deliciously dry yet fruit-driven sparkling wine. Become part of the #chandonsquad and raise a glass. It’s a top way to toast summer.

 

 

 

Taste & Sip 2017

It’s that time of year again! Time to enjoy some of my favorite restaurants and wineries in the Bay Area, all under one, spectacular roof. It’s time for Taste & Sip 2017!

 

Check, Please! Bay Area Taste & Sip Event

Date: Tuesday, May 23, 2017
VIP Reception: 5:45–6:30pm
Main Event: 6:30–9:00pm
Location: San Francisco Design Center Galleria [Map] BUY TICKETS / City Box Office (415) 392-4400
Main Event: $95 General Public / $85 Member
VIP & Main Event: $135 General Public / $125 Member

Sip and nosh your way through nearly 50 of the Bay Area’s restaurants and 15 different wineries, all while listening to the melodious strains of Gaucho, courtesy of SFJAZZ. I’ll be sipping with you, along with various members of our production team and guests from seasons past. All food and drink is included in the ticket price.

For an extra special experience, upgrade to a VIP ticket and you will also be invited to a pre-event reception, complete with champagne, manhattans and specialty hors d’oeuvres from a select group of our restaurants.

Come Taste & Sip with me!

New Year’s Cocktails with Hoda and Kathie Lee

In case you missed it, I had the pleasure of talking holiday cocktails with Hoda, Kathie Lee and Ray Isle of Food & Wine ! It’s always a good time for cocktails, especially with New Year’s upon us. These delicious cocktails are perfect for the winter months and might also class up your sports parties as well!

Fourth Hour Fizz

1 ½ oz vodka

½ oz Elderflower liqueur

2 oz New Age Red wine, Valentin Bianchi family, Argentina

Tonic water

Shake the vodka and Elderflower liqueur with ice. Strain into martini glass. Top with New Age red and tonic water. Garnish with sprig of mint or basil for holiday red and green

 

 

Tawny Crème

My lighter, eggless take on classic eggnog flavors:

1 cup almond milk 

1 tbsp sweetened condensed milk 

1.5 ounce Tawny Port 

Garnish with Cinnamon stick

On low heat warm the almond milk, whisk in the sweetened condensed milk until lightly frothy (can also use a frother). Pour into mug and add Tawny Port. Stir with cinnamon stick. 

 

Ginger Spice Punch

This spicy sip can be made in single servings or scaled to make punch:

1 part bourbon to 5 parts apple cider (not apple juice).

Stir together over ice and top with ginger beer or ginger ale to taste. Garnish with orange slices. 

Asian-influenced “Coco-Nog”

 The idea for this refreshing, eggless take on eggnog came to me as I was sipping a unique style of Japanese whiskey named Kikori. Made from rice aged in American and French oak for more than three years, this aromatic, light-styled whiskey whispers elegance. 

 1 oz. sweetened condescend milk

1 ½ oz. vanilla coconut milk (if you can’t find vanilla versions, just use plain coconut milk and add a ¼ teaspoon of vanilla extract)

1 oz strong green tea

1 ½ oz Kikori Japanese whiskey

 

Blend all with ice in a blender. Pour into glass and top with combination of matcha green tea powder (available in Asian markets or online) and powdered ginger. 

Check out the video!

Sparkling Wines to Ring in the New Year

As we all watch the ball drop on New Year’s Eve (GOOD RIDDANCE 2016) the festivities lend itself to only one thing, bubbles. Sparkling wine is the best way to celebrate, whether it’s the New Year, your birthday or some random Wednesday. The effervescent nature of sparkling wine can lift any party from fun to FABULOUS, and there’s nothing like the pop of a cork to lift your spirits.

 

Sweet

Sparkling wine that’s on the sweet side is a perfect pairing for the end of the year festivities, especially if you’re serving dessert. The Carpene Malvolti ($19) is a lovely elegant prosecco, with a apple aftertaste. Greet your guests at the door with a glass of this beautiful sparkler!

The Pizzolato Moscato 2015 ($15) is an excellent way to end the meal or festivities. Served best with dessert, this organically grown sparkling Moscato smells of custard and finishes with a spiced apple finish. Look in the aisles of your local Whole Foods to grab a bottle.

 

Bubbles of Beauty

While any bottle that houses bubbles is a thing of beauty, a gorgeously designed bottle is an excellent hostess gift for that New Year’s party.

The Chandon Brut ($24) “Merry Whatever” bottle was designed by Rebecca Minkoff and comes in both white and black. This bottle is gorgeous to give but even better to drink!

Nothing wows however like the Segura Viudas Bruta Reserva Heredad Cava ($20). With metal embellishments adorning the bottle, this cava not only drinks beautifully but is sure to impress!

Sparkling Splurge

Sometimes you just want to spend a little bit more on those bubbles. The Palmer and Co Brut Réserve ($50) is true champagne, which must come from the Champagne region of France. These bubbles are a blend of the most prestigious terroirs in Champagne and display the region with finesse and elegance.

If your tastes run to Italy instead of France, the Bisol Prosecco Valdobbiadene Superiore Cartizze ($45) is simply the best. A fruity and elegant Prosecco, this wine is a well balanced and delicious splurge.

Tis the Sparkling Season

Let’s be honest, nothing says the holidays like holiday colors. The Piper-Heidsieck Brut Champagne ($38) delights with not only it’s red festive label, but as one of the world’s most beloved champagnes, it delights with the classic crispness and elegance of a true champagne.

As always, if there are to be bubbles, some of them must be pink. This Schramsberg Brut Rosé ($44) is a gorgeously festive color to ring in the new year. Enjoy it with every course or on it’s own, celebrating with friends or with a loved one, these beautiful pink bubbles are not to be missed.

As 2016 draws to a close thank you to everyone around the world who makes beautiful wines for us to savor and enjoy, especially during this holiday season. Gather your family, friends and loved ones around as we toast to the end of another year and the hope for a wonderful 2017.

Happy New Year!

holiday gift guide

2016 Wine Lover’s Holiday Gift Guide

It’s that time of year again! Time to wonder what to get the boozehound in your life… you know, the one who loves their wine, thinks craft beer is the only beer and loves a nip of an interesting liquor. Well have no fear, my holiday gift guide is sure to impress with the spirit of the holidays. (See what I did there? Spirit? Ha)

So without further ado, I bring you the 2016 Wine/Spirit Lover’s Holiday Gift Guide.

Flora Springs “Holiday Kisses” $57 

This gorgeous hand-etched bottle is home to a beautifully juicy cabernet blend, joining the flavors of Flora Springs’ estate vineyards. Bring it as a hostess gift to that holiday soiree or save it for the holiday table, but either way, enjoy both the beauty of the bottle and the wine within.

Holiday gift guide flora springs

 

California Classics

california wines holiday gift guide

 

This trio of California Classic wines features the 2014 Groth Chardonnay, 2014 Dry Creek Vineyard Old Vine Zinfandel, and the 2012 Goldeneye Pinot Noir. Each of these wines is a standout on their own, but would make a great gift basket all together, especially to showcase the beautiful wine that California has to offer.

The 2014 Groth Chardonnay $30 is a well-balanced example of true California Chardonnay, aged in a mixture of old and new barrels, which gives it layers of complexity. Grab a bottle for your favorite white drinker or just sip while you contemplate all the holiday wrapping you have to do.

2014 Dry Creek Vineyard Old Vine Zinfandel $32 – At this price point, you should be grabbing a bottle of this complex and spicy Old Vine Zin for everyone on your holiday gift list. Heck, forget the bottle, grab a case.

2012 Goldeneye Pinot Noir $58 – For a little more of a splurge, try this classic Pinot Noir from the Anderson Valley. With help from the Mendocino Coast, this wine is the créme de la créme of the Goldeneye harvest and is a truly elegant gift for any Pinot lover.

Give a Little Gifft

With the influx of holiday parties, gift baskets to give and general merriment of the holiday season, it’s always nice to arrive a bottle in hand. The Inglenook Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 ($75) is a beautiful wine, highly aromatic and the perfect gift for the discerning wine lover in your holiday gift giving lineup.

On the white side of things, the Gifft Pinot Grigio 2015 is full of lush tropical flavors, bright acidity and at $20 is an elegant choice to bring to any holiday party, to drink or for the hostess to save for herself.

Kosher Wines for Hannukah

Need to bring wine to a Hannukah celebration? Terrenal Wines are Kosher and non-mevushal, which means the wine is actually delicious. And available at Trader Joes for an amazing price point (under $10).

Grab a few bottles of the Cabernet Sauvignon or the red blend, excellent wines from Spain and enjoy the celebration of lights.

 

Get into the Holiday “Spirit”

Holiday gift guide Tequila Gin

Looking for a boozier option for your holiday gift? Look no further than G’Vine Gin ($34) or Blue Nectar Tequila ($60).

G’Vine Gin($34) is a modern-style French gin, infused with vine flowers and over 9 different botanicals to give it a smooth, herbaceous taste, with hints of juniper, cardamom and ginger.

Blue Nectar Tequila Reposado, Extra Blend ($60) is the cognac of tequilas. A sipping spirit for the true Tequila connoisseur,  Blue Nectar is silky smooth, with notes of vanilla and nutmeg and other holiday spices.

 

Trendsetting Spirits

 

Do you know someone who sports a beard? Wears flannel yet doesn’t work in forestry? You might have to buy a gift for a hipster. If that’s the case, try these super-interesting small batch spirits from Northern California.

No: 209 Barrel Reserve Gin ($47) is a gin with “wine country roots”. Aged in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels, this gin is spicy, with notes of toffee and caramel and is sure to impress the trendiest trendsetter in your life.

Re:Find [e] Vodka ($35) is another unique barrel aged spirit, but instead of wine barrels, this vodka is aged in whiskey barrels. This process creates a vodka that can be sipped like the finest whiskey. Unique? Totally. Trendsetting? Yes. Delicious? Absolutely.

The Party Pack

Butter Toast Jam Jam Cellars Holiday Gift Guide

Want to show up at your party with a party-pack? Look no further than Butter, Toast and JaM. This trio is not only adorable for gift-giving, but the wines are truly delicious. Butter ($16) is a true California Chardonnay with a creamy texture and an oaky, vanilla finish. JaM ($20), the red-head of the group, is %100 Cabernet and all plum, dark berries and vanilla. Toast ($25) is the party girl, toasty and effervescent with notes of peach and honeydew. This trio might sound good for breakfast, but is the perfect accompaniment to all of your holiday party/planning/gift giving needs.

Nibbles

crack'd toffee holiday gift guide

I’d love say that we have a product shot for this amazing toffee. But I ate it all. In like two seconds. The minute I opened the package.

So, with that in mind, if you have a sweet tooth, or know someone who does, Crack’d Toffee ($29) is the BEST present for them. It’s buttery and rich, with a variety of toppings, from white chocolate to dark. YUM.

Not to Drink, but Still Wine-Oriented

So what do you get the wine-lover that has all the wine? How about gorgeous art, boxes or even a dog dish made from wine crates? Check out our newest shop here on the site for the opportunity to buy some of these amazing pieces!

Not Boozy but Still Beautiful

Statement jewelry is still a must-buy for any time of year, especially the holidays. Pick one of these unique and gorgeous necklaces from Serendipity Sellers and the Ruth Schaffer Wave for a truly special gift for someone you love.

Ruth SChaffer - Blue Green Wave

 

Whether it’s a gift of classic Californian wines or classy art made from wine boxes, there’s something for everyone on this list. Even with only a week and a half until the big day.

 

Happy Holidays!