“Wine” Down Summer – End of Summer Wine Picks

The end of summer is a little sad. The sun sets earlier, the kids are either back to school or gearing up for it and it feels like the freedom of summer has ended. But let’s be honest, the weather will still be gorgeous (or hot and humid depending on where you live) for weeks AFTER Labor Day, so take the time to enjoy it! Try these amazing end of summer wines that I’ve selected and enjoy the last days of summer, for at least the next month. 

BBQ BACKYARD “R & R”

Riesling and Rosé are sexy sippers and two of the best options for al fresco pairing. Go for Riesling with seared salmon and mango salsa and think pink with burgers hot off the grill.

 

2015 Eroica Riesling, Columbia Valley, Washington $22

The Eroica (named after a Beethoven Symphony) from Washington State is one of the country’s best examples of Riesling. With a whisper of sweetness, it’s a refreshingly succulent white. This joint project of Chateau Ste. Michelle and Germany’s Dr. Loosen is an ideal way to celebrate Washington Wine Month in August.

 

2016 Saved “Magic Maker” Rosé, California $20

Saved is a wine label from tattoo artist, Scott Campbell, and celebrates following your passions in life. This crisp, orange-peel scented, Grenache-based wine is a magical pink to drink year-round as it saddles up to summer fare as easily as cool-weather roast pork with chutney.

Tip: Slushy-style “Frosé” is getting attention, but you don’t need to do anything more than leave the cork (or screwcap) off and put the bottle in the freezer overnight.

 

Summer Party Circuit

Squeeze in every opportunity to celebrate the waning days of summer with these creative party ideas:

 

2014  Spellbound Petite Sirah, California $15

Even though the solar eclipse is over, you can celebrate the celestial by sipping Spellbound’s “Eclipse” label Petite Sirah, depicting the cycle of the moon. It’s a savory, full-bodied red that works with meat dishes as easily as chocolate. Give it a try with chocolate moon-pies for a whimsical dessert.

 

Cheese & Wine Pairing Party

With the long Labor Day weekend coming plan to have an end-of-summer interactive gathering pairing wine and cheese. Have each guest bring a different style of cheese and you provide a variety of wines to taste and mix and match. With this downloadable grid to hand out, it becomes a deliciously fun evening.

 

We all know how well hearty red wines like Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon go with aged, hard cheeses. Even Chardonnay is a star avec fromage, but what about showcasing SURPRISE SIPS that most folks don’t think about when pairing wine and cheese: Sparkling and Sauvignon Blanc.

 

Korbel Extra Dry sparkling, California $12

From the historic California sparkling wine producer, Korbel, comes a sporty, wave-inspired bottle that makes summer sipping easy. This one has a touch of sweetness that makes it a unique pick to pair alongside salty blue cheese with a drizzle of honey.

 

2016 Natura Sauvignon Blanc, Valle Central, Chile $12

Hailing from the cool reaches of Chile, this is zesty, dry white with tangy citrus flavors is made with organically-grown grapes. It’s an ideal match with fresh cheeses like feta, goat cheese and ricotta. Serve with a variety of jams like apricot and peach for cheese-pairing perfection.

 

SHOULDER SEASON WINES

Whether it’s back to school you’re celebrating or just settling into the fall routine, this duo of Italian wines will take you easily from hot days to cool nights.

 

2015 Carpineto “Dogajolo” Rosso, Toscano, Italy $15

The Dogajolo from famed Italian winery, Carpineto, is a fantastic value at under $15 and showcases an appealing label evoking images of fall leaves. Pronounced “doga-yolo” the name is inspired by the wood staves used in oak barrels. This smooth, spicy red from Tuscany is the ideal transition wine as it can be chilled slightly to serve on summer days or paired alongside braised meats and soups when fall kicks in.

2016 Carpineto “Dogajolo” Rosato, Toscano, Italy $15

A wine that’s the whole package – beautiful to look at and delicious to taste. This rosato made from Sangiovese (the red grape of Tuscany in Italy responsible for the great wines of the region) will carry you from summer to fall with ease. It’s one of the best new pink wines I’ve sampled all year. At this price, you should buy it by the case!

Summer may be winding down and the kids are back to school, but enjoy the still-warm weekends with some incredible wines that will take you from your summer soiree all the way into your fall dinner parties. And check out the latest fun with Hoda and Kathie Lee on the Today Show!

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Thanksgiving Wines for your Holiday Dinner

Hosting a feast this year? Or maybe just an intimate Turkey Dinner with a loved one? Are you attending a feast and need to bring an impressive bottle of wine for the table? Regardless of the numbers served, a traditional Thanksgiving Dinner with all of the fixings is going to need some special wine. A cacophony of flavors – sweet, salty and sour – mean that a variety of wines have a place at the table.

Bubbles

Always a great idea to start off your festivities with a bang (or a pop), bubbles always have a place at the table. Local, California sparklers, like Gloria Ferrer ($19) and Schramsberg ($27) top the list, along with a northern Italian pick called TrentoDOC. For value and quality, their vintage-dated Rosé, Rotari ($14) is a favorite. 

Whites

With such a mix of flavors in the meal, a big, oaky, buttery Chardonnay doesn’t quite fit in. But if you’re a Chardonnay lover, look for one with crisp, fresh fruit flavors, like New Zealand’s, Kumeu River ($35). The often under-appreciated white star of the show however is going to be Riesling. An ideal pick for the holidays, choose a medium-dry style to pair with everything. Napa Valley’s iconic Chateau Montelena winery makes a classy,aromatic Riesling ($25) that is sure to impress.

Reds

Just like avoiding the boldness of the Chardonnay, try to avoid reds that are heavy on the oaks and tannins, like CabernetSauvignon. A better, more well-rounded choice for the table would be a Beaujolais, or the best choice, Pinot Noir.

When picking a Beaujolais, the more complex Beaujolais Cru is the way to go. Look for choices from Georges Deboeuf, such as Morgon ($17) for it’s red berry freshness and medium-body softness.

When picking a Pinot Noir, look to both California and Oregon’s Willamette Valley for world class examples. Domaine Drouhin’s Pinot Noir from the Dundee Hills ($40) is an excellent example of a blend of Old World and New World, while Goldeneye Pinot Noir ($55), from the Anderson Valley, is an elegant choice.

lost colony virginia dare winery thanksgivingA great hostess gift for Thanksgiving has to be The Lost Colony ($28) from Virginia Dare Winery. A blend of Syrah, Malbec, and Cabernet Franc, it showcases dark berry fruitiness with soft and supple tannins. Tannic wine (think young Cabernet Sauvignon) conflicts with the spicy, often sweet and salty fare laid out at Thanksgiving. So, this juicy, full-bodied-but-balanced blend will work throughout the whole meal.

Rosé

Rosé is the perfect Thanksgiving wine, versatile and delicious, and a truly year-round wine. It goes well with almost all dishes and one of the best for the holiday drinking AND gift giving is Gifft from Kathie Lee Gifford. It is dry yet succulent with savory spice notes and at $15 a bottle is perfect to grab by the case! gifft rose thanksgiving wines

 

Dessert Wine

Don’t be afraid to open a dessert wine for your Thanksgiving guests. Serving apple and pumpkin pie? Skip the overly sweet wines and pour Schramsberg’s Cremant Demi-Sec sparkling wine ($40), or a Moscato D’Asti (the real Italian stuff).

screen-shot-2016-11-20-at-10-47-02-pm

With all of these choices for your Thanksgiving table, you’ll be sure to impress and amaze your guests, whether there be 2 or 20.

Happy Thanksgiving!

For a more in-depth list of my favorite holiday wines, check out the piece I did for NorthBay Woman. (Look at page 44 for my article)

 

 

Join Me for a Twitter Tasting with Wines of Sicily!

Save the Date!

I have partnered with Wines of Sicily and this Thursday, November 3rd, join me as we taste our way through many of the wines under the Sicilia DOC designation. We’ll be tasting and tweeting, talking about the grape varieties, the food, the region and most of all, just how incredible Sicily IS! In order to truly enjoy this tweet-tasting experience, join along by checking out our cheat sheet below and purchasing your own Sicilia DOC wine. Chime in and let us know what you think but following @winesofsicily and using the hashtag #winesofsicily 

Cheat Sheet and Shopping List

 

THE PLACE

Not only is the island ruggedly beautiful with diverse wine growing regions, Sicily’s history has been influenced by cultures from the Greeks to the Normans.

The Story of Sicily

Sicily’s Wine-growing Mosaic

 

 

THE GRAPES

From crisp, fruit-driven whites such as Grillo to chillable reds like Frappato and intensely elegant Nero d’Avola, wines made with indigenous varieties will please all palates.

Meet the Grapes

Wines of Sicily - Grapes

THE FOOD

The diversity of local dishes from caponata to cannelloni makes eating Sicilian style a treat, but these vibrant and refreshing wines go with a range of everyday dishes.

Recipe Pairings 

 

THE WINERIES:

Here are some of the top producers to put on your shopping list when buying wines from Sicily. A quick trick to find quality wines is to look for the words Sicilia DOC. 

 

Stemmari

Wines of Sicily - Stemmari

Tasca d’Almerita

Feudo Montoni

Wines of Sicily - Feudo Montoni

Donnafugata

Valle dell’Acate

Wines of Sicily - Il Frappato - Valle Della'acte

Masseria del Feudo

Baglio del Cristo di Campobello

Principi di Butera

Maggio Vini

Cottanera

Vini Gulfi

Villa Pozzi

Planeta

Mondrarossa

 

 

 

 

 

 

fathers-day-wine-gifts

Father’s Day – Wine Gifts for the Dad in Your Life

Father’s Day can be perplexing, as buying gifts for men can be a challenge. The kids usually have the cute factor covered, with their arts and crafts, and frames proclaiming that “I Love Daddy”… but where does that leave the rest of us? He assuredly does not need another tie, does not want the workout clothes you’re so desperate to buy him, but probably would love a really nice bottle of wine. And whether you’re buying for your spouse, your significant other, or YOUR dad, there are some amazing wine gifts out there that will make them feel loved and appreciated this Father’s Day.

fathers-day-wine-gifts

The Classic Dad

Your dad may be as classic as old Blue Eyes, but let’s lead him toward a more modern crooner instead.

2013 LVE Cabernet Sauvignon “Legend Vineyard Exclusive” Napa Valley, California $85
LVE is a collision of superstars. John Legend, the famous musician, and Jean-Charles Boisset, the wine business’s version of a rockstar, have joined forces to create LVE. The wines are created by Boisset’s Napa property, the historic Raymond Vineyards, with input from Legend. The Cabernet Sauvignon is a stylish sip. Lush, opulent and sexy, it’s destined for wine collectors’ cellars but can be enjoyed now. Pour it alongside a seared sirloin while listening to music from who else? Legend-ary.

LVE Cabernet

The Spirited Dad

For the man who appreciates wine, but loves spirits, this gift can’t be beat. 

Distillery No. 209 Gin $35
Being a gin devotee, one of my favorite picks is Distillery No. 209. When the brand’s owner, Leslie Rudd, bought the historic Edge Hill wine estate in Napa Valley, he uncovered an old building with the words “Registered distillery no. 209” painted above the door. He traced the background of the verbiage to the property’s original owner, William Sheffler, who was an award-winning distiller in the late 1880s. Using this as inspiration, a new distillery was built in San Francisco on Pier 50. The gin now being crafted there is a marriage of botanicals such as juniper – the key ingredient in gin – as well as up to 11 other botanicals from bergamot orange and lemon peel to coriander seeds. It’s a crisp yet aromatic gin that I love with a simple splash of tonic and fresh lime or as the base for a classic martini. Bottoms up.  

wine-gifts-for-dad

 

The Classy Dad

Not to confused with the Classic, this Dad appreciates the finer things in life and will appreciate the quality of this iconic wine. You will appreciate it’s reasonable price, so make sure to stock up on a few bottles (or cases) for yourself.

2012 Le Domaine Saget, Pouilly-Fumé, France $28
The Saget family has been in the wine business for more than three centuries with nine generations at the helm. This legendary time frame has afforded them ranking among the best producers of the Loire Valley. But, they don’t rest on their laurels and accolades. General Manager Arnaud Saget has taken the reins and is focused on innovation as well with a new line of affordable Vin de France wines dubbed “La Petite Perriere.” This wine, however, falls into their masters category. Made from Sauvignon Blanc planted in the Pouilly-Fumé appellation, this classic style of white encompasses citrus and passion fruit aromas with a driving force of minerality. Pure, focused flavors fleshed out with a luscious texture make it a wine to pair with oysters, scallops or salmon, but also to enjoy on its own as a respite from the day. Though collector-level quality, it’s priced with drinking in mind so stock up for summer time sipping. wine gifts for dad

The Fun-Loving Dad

For the Dad who appreciates the latest Facebook meme and laughs at most anything, this offering from JaM Cellars is both whimsical and delicious.

JaM Cellars is the brainchild of John and Michele Truchard (who own John Anthony Vineyards, a downtown Napa hotspot). As part of the Truchard clan — one of Napa’s great grape-growing families — John knows a thing or two about vineyards. He and his wife also clearly know what appeals to consumers. I come across a myriad of brands with eye-catching labels, but this trio is the most creative I’ve seen in years. Offering up a smile-inducing lineup of wines entitled Toast, Butter and JaM, each has a purpose and unique character. All three pack a high-quality punch while telling you exactly what you’re getting in each bottle.

Toast Brut Sparkling Wine, California $25 wine gifts for dad
Crafted from Chardonnay, this bubbly is made in the traditional sparkling wine method in a dry —or brut— style. It’s got a luscious texture with a touch of toasty richness, yet finishes with crisp fruit flavors. A terrific choice for celebrations year round.

2014 Butter Chardonnay, California $16

wine gifts for dad
Creamy with succulent pineapple fruit notes and a hug of oak, this is an unapologetic style of Chardonnay. It wraps you in buttery pleasure and sports melt-in-your-mouth goodness. If you crave lush Chardonnay, you’ll love Butter.

2014 JaM Cabernet Sauvignon, California $20

wine gifts for dad
As the name says, you get jammy dark fruit flavors in this full-bodied red wine. Made with 100 percent Cabernet, it’s a crowd-pleasing style to pair with barbecue ribs, grilled lamb chops or meat-lovers pizza. It could also saddle up to a PB&J slathered with what else? Jam.

Gifting Tips

Still confused or think that Dad might not be a big wine guy? Check out my spirit tips on Scotch, Pisco, Gin and Tequila. You’re certain to find some gift ideas to get for the Dad in YOUR life!