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.

 

 

 

Mother’s Day Wine – What are You Serving?

Let’s be honest, there are a lot of wines in the world and a lot of moms out there that drink them. And as I always like to say,

After all, its really only my job to show you all the amazing wine in the world… it’s up to you whether you like it or not.

With that in mind, to all of the different women in the world that are mothers, I’ve compiled some of my favorites wines. For the red drinker, the rosé drinker, the white wine drinker and those that love sweet, dry or somewhere in between.

This is for you.

Happy Mother’s Day!

*****

Bubbles – What better way to celebrate your mom than with something, light and fizzy? From pink, to sweet, to dry and toasty. Check out some of my favoriteschampagne

Spring Wine– Mother’s Day is the epitome of a spring celebration – check out my selections to go with some of the delicious brunch options you might want to serve!

Ruby Reds – Yup, plenty of moms out there love a beautiful glass of red wine. There are some lovely options for gifts, OR for serving.

Gifts for Mom – Ok, so not everyone wants alcohol (I know, I don’t get it either). Check out this wonderful gift guide for ideas on what to get mom… whether she drinks or not.

chandon-singles

Wines for Easter & Spring Celebrations : The Today Show

Easter is a joyous day celebrating family, faith and friends. But, the kids don’t have to be the only ones enjoying goodies. From greens to eggs & ham to lamb, these affordable spring sips will make your gathering shine.

 

TO START…

Chandon Brut Sparkling Wine, California (single serving size $6-7)

chandon-singles

The famed Napa Valley-based California sparkling house, Chandon, is a serious bubbly producer, but doesn’t take itself too seriously. These mini bottlings — each serving about a glass — are all about fun. Dry but crisp and fruity, this sparkler is ideal alongside Easter brunch from start to finish.

 

WITH GREENS…

2015 Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc/Viogner, California $12-15

As one of California’s most unique blends pairing Chenin Blanc from California’s Clarksburg area with Viognier from Lodi, I’ve long been a fan of this white wine. Fresh and zesty with a whisper of sweetness, it’s the ideal choice with fresh-from-the-garden green salads, spring asparagus and a crudité appetizer platter.

 

WITH EGGS…

2016 Fleurs de Prairie Rosé, Côtes de Provence, France $15

 

This newly-launched wine captures the essence of southern French pinks – delicate, aromatic and stylish. The name means wildflowers and just looking at the beautiful bottle takes you on a virtual visit to Provence while adding a touch of class to your table. A blend of Grenache, Cinsault, and Syrah, it’s a wine to pair alongside the earthiness of a mushroom omelet with melted brie cheese. Make sure to stock up, though, as it will disappear tout suite!

 

WITH HAM…

Kim Crawford Rose of Merlot, New Zealand $18

 

Look to New Zealand’s Hawke’s Bay for a hearty pink made with Merlot. Kim Crawford is a Kiwi staple and their succulent take on rosé marries seamlessly with the sweetness of ham basted with a brown sugar glaze.

 

2015 Cloudline Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon $18

 

 

You will not find a better under-$20 pinot noir than this wine. Period. Made by the talented hands of Veronique Boss-Drouhin of Domaine Drouhin fame, the fruit hails from Oregon’s Willamette Valley. The red is elegant, spicy and silky. We know pigs and pinot are the perfect pairing, but this is a beauty for Easter ham…and beyond.

 

WITH LAMB…

2014 JAM Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, California $18

 

What’s better than LAMB & JAM? This succulent, fruit-o-licious wine pairs with lamb’s rustic flavors while offsetting its earthy richness. The full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon also goes from main course to dessert as it has a touch of sweet, dark berry fruit notes to pair with chocolate.

I recommend making a simple wine glaze by reducing one cup of wine then add a spoonful of grape jam. Simmer until thickened then give a dash of balsamic vinegar to add complexity. You can use on the lamb or swirl the glaze into premixed brownies before baking to make a grown-up Easter treat.

There’s a myriad of wines and ways to celebrate any of your spring celebrations this year. Be it ham or lamb, eggs or greens, enjoy my favorite wines in my favorite season!

And remember, the upcoming season is SUMMER!

 

 

 

 

Premier Pairing – Sessions at the Presidio – Recap


My 2017 Sipping Smarts class series kicked off at the end of February with a Premier Pairing at Sessions at the Presidio. Our devoted crowd of attendees — many of whom have been at ALL of my classes over the years – gathered for a 3+ hour extravaganza.

humbolt-vodka-sterling-caviarWe started with a CAVIAR & VODKA BAR showcasing two types of decadent Sterling Imperial Caviar (one freshly-harvested and the other aged for a year) from California’s top producer, Sterling Caviar. The tins were scraped clean with many exclaiming it was the best caviar they’d ever tasted. Served with Mionetto Prosecco and Humboldt Distillery Organic Vodka, it was a delicious way to begin.

We then had three flights of wine, beer and food pairings. As I usually do, I couldn’t decide what to pour, so I showcased 13 different wines including a special magnum of 2006 Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon pulled from my cellar. (No one seemed to complain.) For the full list of wines, click here! 

Add to that a fantastic beer pairing on each flight from Session’s beer-expert, Jordan Spaulding, a certified Cicerone, and perfect (and hearty) pairings from Chef Michael Bilger. Needless to say…we had an educational and highly entertaining day! Uber got some serious business, too.

 

I hope you can join me for the next Sipping Smarts class focused on Spanish Wine and Food. It will be held Sunday, May 7th from 2pm-5pm at Canela restaurant in San Francisco.

Paella, anyone?

Sparkling Rosé from Around the World

Is there anything more perfect for a celebration that a bottle of pink bubbles? From the slightest blush of pink to a deep salmon hue, Brut Rosé is an elegant yet lively party in a bottle. And you’re not just going to find one region making these effervescent delights; Italy, California and of course France are turning out beautiful pink bubbles in everyone’s price range. Take a look at some of my favorite Brut Rosé to use at your next weekend brunch or for a romantic getaway. Because nothing says romance like a bottle of pink sparkling wine.

 

From California with Love

These three gorgeous pink sparklers all hail from California, more specifically Sonoma and Napa Counties.

Gloria Ferrer, Brut Rose – $35

This beautiful wine hails from Sonoma County and is one of Gloria Ferrer’s most popular sellers. Enjoy it for it’s beautiful color and versatility when pairing with food.

J Vineyards, Brut Rosé – $45

This vibrant Rosé has a brilliant salmon hue that offers layered aromas of berries, rose petals and even a hint of hazelnut. This wine’s lively acidity make it a perfect pairing to smoked salmon and even blue cheese. Enjoy it on a romantic picnic with a delicious cheese plate.

Schramsberg Brut Rosé – $39

The Schramsberg Brut Rosé is another gorgeous example of California pink. With aromas of berries and brioche, followed by a fresh juicy acidity, this is a very drinkable bottle of pink sparkling wine. Serve it for the guests at your next brunch or just pop it open for a glass in the bathtub, either way you deserve it.

 

Fun and Affordable  

Sometimes you just want to pop open a bottle of bubbles because you survived Monday. These bottles are just as delicious as their more expensive counterparts but are a little friendlier on the wallet.

Korbel, Brut Rosé $15

One of Korbel’s most popular wines, the Special Edition Luscious Brut Rosé is also a conversation piece. Bring it as a gift or drink it at home, either way the bottle’s design is gorgeous and the medium-dry rosé inside of it is meant to be savored on those warm summer nights with friends.

Chandon, Rosé $24

A deal at $24 a bottle, this elegant sparkling rosé is a delightful pink color with berry, cherry and watermelon flavors. This sparkling wine is also excellent in cocktails, like the Rose Rosa Rosé!

 

 

Go a Little Crazy

If you’re looking to spend a little (or a lot) more on a bottle of real pink champagne, these two choices are for you.

Ruinart Rosé $78

This gorgeous champagne is intensely fruity and aromatic, due to it’s blending of french Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. A little spice paired with floral notes make this worth the splurge.

Moet & Chandon 2008 Grand Vintage Rosé, $69

With an actual vintage year, the Moet & Chandon 2008 Grand Vintage Rosé is a unique bottle of champagne and an example of the best of that year’s harvest. This “pink” champagne is actually more gold in color and has a powerful aroma of tropical fruits and nectarines. Finish up with a refreshing taste of grapefruit and ginger and this pink champagne is going to have you and your significant other sipping pretty, in pink.

 

Classic Champagne

Sometimes only the classics will do. Like Audrey Hepburn in a bottle, these classic champagnes exude sophistication and style in a glass.

Charles Heidsieck, Champagne Rosé Reserve $89

Charles Heidseick’s Rosé Reserve is a classic example of pink champagne. A dusty pink color with a delicate sparkle, this gorgeous wine smells of fresh strawberries and gingerbread. This wine is powerful and stylish, as anything French must be.

 

Duval Leroy Champagne, Rosé Prestige $69

Duval Leroy’s Rosé Prestige is a beautiful marriage of Premier Cru Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. This salmon colored champagne offers up aromas of wild cherries and figs and showcases some of the very best that Duval Leroy has to offer.

Exotic and Erotic 

Call these the 50 Shades of the wine world, both erotic and extremely exotic in their flavors. Enjoy with a little romance this Valentine’s Day.

Montenisa Franciacorta – Brut Rosé $40 

This Italian Brut Rosé is an exotic example of sparkling pink wine. Franciacorta, literally “short French”, is known as a region, a type of wine as well as a production method. The bright cherry flavors of this sparkler, finished with a note of toasted almond, make it a unique wine to bring to the party, especially if that party only involves two.

Alfred Gratien, Champagne, Brut Rosé $50

Alfred Gratien Brut Rosé is the definition of erotic. With floral notes that invoke rose petals strewn across a bed, it sparkles energetically, making it perfect to sip and savor in front of a roaring fire. Watch those bubbles sparkle in the firelight as you enjoy it’s slightly smoky finish. This is perfect to enjoy on Valentine’s Day, savoring the wine and the one you love.

Fun and Flirty

No Valentine’s Day would be complete without some innocent flirting. This year, write your “Clicquot Message” on the bottle, or even speak it into the “Clicq’all” which allows you to record your very own message and gift it along with the champagne!

Nothing is more flirtatious than saying it with bubbles!

Veuve Clicquot Rosé –

Clicquot Message or Clicq’all – $69