Summertime Sips – Summer Wines Under $25

With the Memorial Day weekend behind us, a busy barbecue season lies ahead. The grill is in perpetual use from June through August and these affordable summer wines show that summertime is THE time for al fresco eating and warm-weather sipping.


 summer-wine-sauvignon-gris2015 Cousiño Macul “Isidora” Sauvignon Gris, Maipo Valley, Chile $13-15

If you drink Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc, seek out a unique wine from Chile called Sauvignon Gris to pair with salty chips and fiery guacamole. Tracing its roots to the Bordeaux area of France, cuttings of the rare vines made their way to Chile where they have found a home. For seven generations Chile’s most historic winery, Cousiño Macul, has been producing world class wines. Their Sauvignon Gris is small in production, but big on flavor. Juicy, succulent fruit flavors along with a crisp, refreshing finish create pinpoint balance. Named for the Cousiño matriarch, Isadora, and displaying her personal crest on the label, it’s a regal yet fun white perfect for summer fare.


summer-wines-rose2015 Saget “La Petite Perrière” Rosé, Vin de France $10-12 

Drink pink when the weather turns warm and you’ll be happy. Dry Rosé is the hottest thing in wine today with growth in the double digits. This cheerful version from the respected Saget family of France’s Loire Valley, is light and lower in alcohol. It’s an ideal wine with spicy fare such shrimp in a tangy, piquant dipping sauce. Made from Pinot Noir grapes mostly grown in the northern Loire Valley with a splash thrown in from warmer climes of Southern France, the well-balanced wine showcases brightness paired with ripe fruitiness.


summer-wines-stemmari-grillo 2014 Stemmari Grillo, Sicily, Italy $6-10

Want to take a vinous vacation this summer? Discover Sicily. The largest island in the Mediterranean is dream destination of coastal beaches towered over by snow-capped Mt. Etna. Wines from white to red and pink to sparkling offer some of the best values on the market. Sicily is the historic home of a fortified wine called Marsala, from the city of the same name on the island’s west Coast. Indigenous variety, Grillo (pronounced Greel-o), is a grape that used to go into Marsala but is now standing on its own and making unique whites that WOW. Showcasing mineral, citrus-fruited aromas with a zesty mouthfeel, Grillo is grilled fish’s best friend. The Stemmari, clocking in at a mere $6, is a best-buy bargain to stock up for a season of summertime parties.


2014 Josh Cellars “Legacy” red blend, California $12-14summer-wines-josh-legacy

This is what I call a twice-the-price wine. The quality is very high and along with stylish packaging, you would easily pay double its price tag. Named in honor of vintner Joseph Carr’s father, Josh, this is a sumptuous combination of Zinfandel, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Sirah. With a dark fruit flavors and a spicy kick, there isn’t a better wine to saddle up next to barbeque ribs and steaks hot off the grill. What’s fun about Legacy, however, is that you can easily make it your Father’s Day gift. Go online to their website and for free you can customize and order a back label with your father’s name on it. They’ll mail it to you to put on a bottle. I’ll raise a glass to that…and to Dads everywhere!


Segura Viudas “Reserva Heredad” Cava, Spain $22-25

Capturing a “Luxe for Less” look is easy with this Spanish Cava. The retro-chic bottle looks like it costs far more than it does and the wine inside tastes the same. Made with native grapes such as Macabeo and Parellada in the traditional method for sparkling wine (aged in the bottle), this bubbly is lush and luxurious. The winery, located in the northeastern Penedès region of Spain, is known for affordable sparkling with this glamorous flagship bottle anchoring the lineup. It’s a MUST-BUY for lovers of high-quality sparkling wine. summer-wines-segura-viuda-cava

Use this list as your go-to to choose your summer wines and entertain all season long, either lounging by the pool, sipping at the beach or hanging at a backyard barbecue.  There’s something here for everyone! 

Check me out with Kathie Lee and Hoda on the Today Show, pairing these amazing wines with the perfect summer food. 





Wine Country – Sonoma Coastal Region

When you’re thinking about wine country in California, you are apt to miss the Sonoma Coast, often considered Sonoma’s most enigmatic wine region. From San Pablo Bay, to Mendocino, this AVA gets a direct influence from the Pacific Ocean’s cool, often cold climate.


Known for creating some of Sonoma Wine Country’s best Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, the Sonoma Coastal AVA is a contradiction in itself, creating twice the rainfall of any other region, some areas that sit above blankets of fog twice a day, and yet still has enough heat to ripen the grapes to perfection.

Some of my favorite Chardonnay and Pinot from this region are from Patz and Hall as well as Lombardi. Each one has it’s own vibrant, racy and elegant personality that denotes the region within which it was created.

Explore the Sonoma Coastal AVA!


Get Your Tickets for Check Please Bay Area Taste & Sip Event April 26!

The Check Please Bay Area Taste & Sip is just a week away! Do you have your tickets yet? If not, what are you waiting for???



Tickets, as usual, are going VERY fast, but there’s still a chance to come hang out with me Tuesday, April 26th! Last year was a blast and this should be no different, so grab your tickets and come drink and eat with me while we enjoy live music performed by the gorgeously talented Tiffany Austin courtesy of SFJAZZ.

Tiffany Austin


selfie tands

It’s a gorgeous event at the San Francisco Design Center and we have great fun every year. Join me, take a selfie or two on the red carpet and eat and drink to your hearts content!



This year’s Taste & Sip celebrates some of the Bay Area’s most delicious restaurants, wineries and distilleries! 

Food from :

31st Union1300 on Fillmore, Aly’s on Main, Bacon Bacon, Baker Street Bistro, Bistro Liaison, Bistro Viz,Boboquivaris, Buddy’s Bites and Brews, Bull Valley Roadhouse, Camber Montclair & Camber Uptown, Canela Bistro & Wine Bar, Chop Bar – Oakland, Cole’s Chop House, Copita Tequileria y Comida, Cosecha, Davey Jones Deli: Inside the New Bait Shop, Della Santina’s Trattoria and Enoteca Della Santina, DOSAencuentro, Farallon, farmerbrown, Gamine, Green Chile Kitchen, Hana Japanese Restaurant, Hog Island Oyster Co., La Costanera Restaurant, La Mediterranee, Lers Ros, Los Moles, Lovejoy’s Tea Room, M.Y. China, Marnee Thai, Maykadeh Restaurant, Mescolanza Restaurant, Nick’s Crispy Tacos, Old Jerusalem Restaurant, Old Skool Café,Pappo, Paradiso Restaurant, Perbacco, Picán Restaurant, PICANTE, Plaj Restaurant, Poesia, Poggio Trattoria, Sapore Italiano Ristorante, Sauce,Trattoria La Siciliana and Zatar Restaurant and Catering

Wines From:

B.R. Cohn, Balverne Wines, Giesen Wines, Iron Horse Vineyards, J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines, Jamieson Ranch Vineyards, Joseph Carr, Josh Cellars, Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, Matua Wines, McEvoy Ranch, Napa Cellars, New Zealand Winegrowers, Pernod Ricard New Zealand, Robert Oatley , Sebright Cellars, Sonoma Coast Vineyards andViansa Sonoma

Spirits From:

Distillery No. 209 Gin and Redemption Rye



Check, Please Bay Area Returns! Tequila Anyone?

Check, Please will be returning April 14th for it’s 11th Season (!!) and while it won’t be the Tequila Extravaganza that Wendy wrote about on Bay Area Bites (Check it out, it’s HYSTERICAL) , it’s going to be a new season of fabulous restaurants, amazing wine and of course, our incredible guests.


photo credit – Wendy Goodfriend


So, in honor of the new season, we got to talk a little bit more about my love affair with Tequila.

What is your relationship to tequila?

I have a love/love relationship with tequila. I love it and thankfully it loves me by erasing my memory of most things I do once I drink it. When I behave badly on tequila, I put myself on a TTO (Tequila Time Out). Luckily, I’m not on one now.

What are your favorite tequilas and have you dabbled in mezcal? Have you ever eaten the worm?

Big fan of Casa Noble, Partida, and for everyday drinking, Don Julio. If I could splurge, my sites are set on uber-expensive Casa Dragones, a stunner tipping the scales at close to $300 a bottle.

Oh yes, I have more than dabbled in mezcal (which, like tequila is made from agave, but in the Oaxaca region of Mexico). Mezcal is like the Marlboro Man of spirits — smoky, sexy and rugged. By the way, I have eaten a worm, just not the one found in cheap mezcal. I prefer my bugs fried with a crispy coating that I can wash down with a good shot.

Do you have a favorite Mexican restaurant in the Bay Area? What is your favorite dish?

My top pick is Copita and my favorite dish is tequila.

Check out the rest of the interview and hear about what my guests may or may not be doing on set in our first episode of Season 11!

Tune in on April 14th at 7:30pm as we start our 11th season of Check, Please Bay Area!


A Hop in the Hot Tub with Hoda for Valentine’s Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day! ❤ ❤ ❤

I swung by the Today Show on Friday and took a little hop in the hot tub with Hoda, Meredith Viera, and Ray Isles of Food & Wine Magazine. Whether you plan on hopping in the hot tub with your honey,  snuggling on the couch with Netflix, or even popping the big question, we’ve got the wine picks for every occasion.


Hop in the Hot Tub


2014 Casillero del Diablo, “Devil’s Collection” White, Chile $15casillero-del-diablo

Instead of being angelic this Valentine’s night, toast your devlish side. Pour a glass of this refreshing blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Gewürztraminer from Chile’s Casablanca Valley.  Crafted by the talented hands of winemaker Marcelo Papas of Concha y Toro, it’s crisp and juicy making it ideal to tame the heat of the hot tub…or just stoke the fires of your Valentine’s celebration.


NV Infinite Monkey Theorem White ($15/4 cans) infinite-monkey-theorem

It’s in a can! No glass in the hot tub! What the heck! Plus, it’s a lively white blend with a tiny touch of spritz, which you can chill down a lot. Ideal for hot tub sipping. Infinite Monkey Theorem is a cool urban winery that first started in Denver, and has spread to Austin, TX as well. 

On the Couch with Netflix:


Croft “Reserve” Tawny Port, Portugal $20


Get your dessert on with this luscious wine. (I call it a belly-button sipper.) A new Port from the classic house of Croft, this reserve is aged approximately seven years and captures the fresh fruit notes of a youthful tawny. A touch sweet and very smooth, this Port is ideal with a cheese platter, chocolate covered strawberries, or for cuddling on the couch with the one you love.


2013 Killibinbin Sneaky Shiraz ($14)


This is a juicy, rich Aussie Shiraz—a fun wine to relax with on the couch—plus the label looks like a movie still from a 40s Noir film, which is cool. And it’s sneaky. Which is sort of sexy. Depending on how well you know your date, you could also opt for their Seduction Cabernet Sauvignon.

Pop the question with Wine:


2014 Beso de Vino, Garnacha, Carinena, Spain $10


What better way to pop the question than with a kiss? This sexy red means “kiss of wine” and it hails from the Spanish region of Carinena. This historic area is home to old vines that produce intense reds. This one — from nearly 40 year old Garnacha vines — over-delivers for its price, which means you can spend more on the honeymoon. That deserves a big kiss.


NV Piper Heidsieck Cuvee Brut ($48)


If you’re going to pop the question, you need Champagne. What other wine says romance so clearly? Also, I love the red, removable ice jacket with its red bow on this Piper Heidsieck non-vintage brut; it adds an extra touch of fun to the occasion. This is classic Champagne, from the Champagne region in France, crisp and lively, perfectly dry. Chill it down, pop the cork, and then pop the question. 

Whatever you’re doing this Valentine’s Day – you’ll have the right wine to go with it!