Veronica Castellana
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100 Wine Blogs, 100 Days

100 Wine Blogs, 100 Days Blog 1
Pairing Food with Wine

1. Do you like to pair your wine with your food? How do you pair it up? Do you go with the traditional white with seafood and poultry and red with red meats or, do you like to be daring by trying a new pairing?

When pairing food with wine, there are three main things that I rely on to make my decision: Flavor, Intensity and Body of the wine to the food.

I like to either emphasize the flavor of the food and the wine to complement each other or to contrast with each other. I will also look at the intensity of the food to the intensity of the wine. Is the wine rich and the food hearty? One can't drown out the other. There needs to be a balance between the body or texture of the food and the body of the wine. You can also look at the price, color and region of where the wine comes from, the terroir, oaked or non-oaked and the reputation of the wine. I also may influence my decision based on the temperature of the wine. Is it best to serve a colder wine with a warm dish? Does the acidity, tannin and alcohol match up with the food or does it over or underwhelm the food. I may pick a medium-bodied Pinot Noir or a full-bodied barrel fermented Chardonnay with my smoked salmon. Your palate will thank you when it has choices!

Let me hear your choices on the subject by posting your comments on my page! And be nice!
Bon Vin!

100 Wine Blogs, 100 Days Blog 2
Decant or Not

2. Do you decant your Red wine or not? What are the reasons for decanting Red wine?

A young Red wine may be decanted to aerate the wine or to let the wine "breathe". This allows the wine to open up for a more enjoyable experience.

Many people will decant a wine to allow the sediment to stay in the bottle as opposed to in your glass. Using a candle or light at the neck of the bottle while pouring the wine into the decanter will help to illuminate the sediment as it reaches the neck of the bottle. At this time, stop pouring and come back to the bottle to pour again until all of the sediment is left in the bottle and not in your glass.

Although I do not like sediment in my wine, I choose not to decant an older wine. It may get too much oxygen too soon which may spoil the wine's true potential. I mean you saved the wine to savor its flavor not to delete it. However, some older wines that are not so delicate may be decanted without affecting its potential.

You can also strain a wine directly into your glass if you feel that you do not want to aerate an older wine.

You can also aerate a wine directly into your glass by using a Vinturi Wine Aerator. More about that later.
Let me hear your comments on my page. Be nice!

Bon Vin!

100 Wine Blogs, 100 Days Blog 3
Let's talk about Zin

3. Remember when White Zinfandel was popular. OK, so none of us were connoisseurs back then. We just bought a jug of wine like Rhine or Chablis put it in our fridge for a week and drank. Yes, we had screw caps back then. You didn’t really care who made the wine. You only ordered by color. It was white, rose or red. We would be precise when we would say something like, “I will take a White Zinfandel please.” It didn’t matter where it came from or who made it.

Let’s talk about Zinfandel. It has come a long way since the 70’s and 80’s. Zinfandel is actually a dark red grape. The juice of most grapes is white. Almost any red grape can make white wine or rose wine but white grapes cannot make red wine. The skin is what carries the color in a grape and when used, gives the wine its luscious color.

How about a nice 2007 Rombauer Zinfandel for $28? Affordable, Californian, and luscious.

California is where it is at for the Zinfandel grape. Zin likes hot days and cool nights. Because of the large amounts of Zinfandel planted in California, you can find some very “old vines”. For those of you, like me, who like to try some “old vine” wine, you can find some good ones.

One of my favorites is: Louis M. Martini 2006 Gnarly Vine Zinfandel for $50. 100% Zinfandel from 125 year old vines on the historic Monte Rosso Vineyard. According to their Web site, there are only 39 bottles left, now 37and oops, now there are 35. I bought two writing this blog!

Let me know what you think! Be nice!
Bon Vin!

100 Wine Blogs, 100 Days Blog 4
Primitivo vs. Zinfandel

4. Did you know that the Italian Primitivo grape and the Californian Zinfandel grape both have the same DNA, according to UC Davis (University of California) studies?
When I was looking at my wine stash, I noticed a bottle from the Andretti Winery that states “2006 Napa Valley, 50% Zinfandel/50% Primitivo”. That is all that is listed on the bottle and they make this wine each year. They take their grapes from vineyards in the Napa Valley. So, my question is, isn’t it really 100% Zinfandel since the terroir is Californian? Would it even matter if the vine came from Italy? Something to ponder. Since I am half Italian, I think I know what Mario Andretti was thinking when he came out with this wine. It’s half Italian baby!

Let me know what you think! Be nice or funny!
Bon Vin!

100 Wine Blogs, 100 Days Blog 5
The Barrique

5. The barrique is a barrel used to store, age or ferment wine or spirits. Oak barrels from America, France, Italy or even Slavonia are used for wine. The barrique holds about 58-60 gallons. There are other types and sizes of container that can be used to store wine. The preferred method is to have enough influence of the oak to slightly affect the taste of the wine.

However, there are many other factors when it comes to making wine in barrels. First, you decide on which type of barrel you want to purchase and where you want to purchase it from. Some prefer French oak while others may prefer American oak. Then, you decide on the barrel maker or cooper. You will let the cooper know if or how you want your barrel toasted. You can have a light, medium or dark toast on your barrel. This will decide how much oak will influence the wine and whether or not the wine will have toasty aromas or flavors.

Will you put your wine in new barrels, some new and some old or old barrels? Will your barrels be 1, 2, or 3 years old or will a combination be used? Will all the barrels be toasted and will all of the wine go into toasted barrels or some of the wine? How much oak influence will you want your wine to have?

Purchasing a barrique can approximately range between $500 and $1200 for a new barrel with French oak costing the most. There are some barrels that are fancier on the outside than others. You can also decide if you want to reuse your barrels and how many times you will use them. You can then sell your barrels to someone else who wants to reuse the barrels to make a wine with less of an oak influence.

Tell me what you think and be nice!
Bon Vin!

100 Wine Blogs, 100 Days Blog 6
To Share or To Save 

6. Would you be more apt to share a special bottle of wine with someone or save it for that special day?

Many people feel that they need to save their favorite wine. They think that they can’t just buy it and drink it! Wines do not need to be stored for long periods of time. Once a bottle is purchased, most likely it was sold ready to drink or it was meant to be stored for about 1-3 years. You can always store a few of those special bottles to open up for that “special occasion” or to taste it to compare the flavors as it ages. Get out those bottles and drink them up. Find someone who you feel is special. Let them know you care by sharing that untouched bottle of wine with them. You can do it!

Let me know what you think and be nice!
Bon Vin!

100 Wine Blogs, 100 Days Blog 7
Laird Family Estate

7. Laird Family Estate, it’s all in the name. Planting grapes since 1970. This single family owned vineyard is one of the largest vineyards in the Napa Valley area with over 2000 acres of grapes grown.

Early clients were grand, pioneer wineries such as Mondavi, Inglenook and Beringer. As the years and reputation of Napa Valley vintners grew, smaller, ultra premium wineries such as Cakebread, Merryvale, Chappellet, Far Niente, Joseph Phelps and Duckhorn asked for Laird grapes. Sonoma wineries such as Kendall Jackson purchased Laird grapes as well as Ravenswood, and Chateau St. Jean who also became clients.

Laird uses about 1% of their grapes to produce about 12,000 cases of Laird Family Estate wine with Paul Hobbs as consulting winemaker. A quick stop out of your journey leads you to a breathtaking view and spectacular wine you will remember.

In the past 7 years that I have been going to Napa, I have never missed a visit to Laird. Robert has been in the tasting room for 10 years and I wonder if he ever goes home. Their whites include Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc. They have a vast array of reds including Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah.

You may want to become a club member to get some of their special wines. The 2005 Napa Valley Laird Red Wine called Jillian’s Blend made with 55% Cabernet Sauvignon and 45% Syrah. Deep garnet color followed by aromas of tobacco, violets and blackberry. Bright fruit flavors of Satsuma plums and black cherry. Medium bodied, with a nice integration of oak and berry fruit. The fruit finishes with little black pepper, cocoa and chewy tannins. I had to buy extras of this choice. Although they have since sold out of the 2005 Jillian’s Blend, they are soon to release the 2007. You can’t go wrong if you are looking for true Californian whites or reds with grapes grown from all across the valley. After tasting Laird wine, it is no wonder why premium wineries purchase their grapes.

Bon Vin!

100 Wine Blogs, 100 Days Blog 8
The Life Cycle of a California Vine


A California vine goes through a cycle on a yearly basis. Once it is harvested (the grapes have been picked), the leaves will fall to the ground leaving the vine only. The vine is protected from the cold during the winter months which is when it goes through a dormant stage. Pruning determines the quantity of foliage and fruit that the vine will produce. The grape grower controls the amount of grapes grown on each vine by either wanting the plant to yield fewer grapes which is thought to produce higher quality grapes or by producing more grapes to produce more wine; quality versus quantity. The pruning process also determines how the vines will grow.

Once the winter months are over and it is early spring, bud break occurs. This is when the first sign of growth appears on the vine for the new season. In late spring, after bud break, flowers will start to bloom. This stage is called flowering.

Set will occur in late spring or early summer. This is when tiny bunches of green grapes are visible on the vine. Some leaves may be removed to expose the grapes to sunlight. The trellis wires may be adjusted to guide the direction of the vine for optimal quality.

In late summer, early fall during veraison, the grapes will start to show their true color. If they are white grapes, they will turn a yellow-green color and if they are red grapes, you will see a purple or deep purple color. It is at this time where you might see some grape bunches on the ground. This is done on purpose to control the quality of grapes that are left on the vine. Attention needs to be focused on developing grape bunches with a more concentrated flavor. However, if eaten at this time, the grapes will taste very sour. They may not be ready for harvest.

Maturity is the stage that everyone has been waiting for. Fall is the busiest time of year for grape growers. The grapes are less acidic and sweeter tasting. The weather becomes a factor. Acidity and sugar levels will be measured to determine the optimal time for harvesting the grapes. However, the grapes also need to be ripe so that they actually taste like their varietal.

Harvesting takes place when the grapes are perfect and ready for the picking. Hopefully there have been no torrential rains or bad weather that has affected the harvest. If all is well, you have a perfectly balanced grape that tastes and looks like it should.

I would love to hear your nice comments.
Bon Vin!

100 Wine Blogs, 100 Days Blog 9
What temperature do you serve your wine?

9. A wine must be served at the proper temperature for you to appreciate what you are drinking. There needs to be a balance between the acid, alcohol and the fruit. Why not get the most out of the wine that you are drinking instead of serving it too cold or too hot? If you serve your wine too cold, you hide the delectable flavors and aromas. It gives the wine an acidic lighter flavor. If you serve it too hot, it may taste too alcoholic or rough. 
Sparkling wines (41-47 F), and whites and roses (44-54 F) can be served at a cooler temperature than light-bodied reds (50-55 F) which should be served at a cooler temperature than medium to fuller-bodied reds (55-65 F). However, fuller-bodied reds in the US still need to be served cooler than room temperature. What we consider room temperature here in the US (65-75 F) is not optimal for your wine. If it is stored in a warm area, grab an ice bucket with water and ice and chill the wine for about 30 minutes and longer if you are talking about sparkling wines, whites, roses, or light-bodied reds. Dessert wines or ports can be served at “room temperature” to bring out the aromas and flavors the wine was meant to have.

If you have a more tannic wine, it will need to be served at a warmer temperature than a wine with less tannin. If you have a French oak barreled Chardonnay, you may want to keep it a little warmer than a Chardonnay that was made only with stainless steel tanks. If your wine needs a little warm-up, put your hand on the bowl of the glass and that should do the trick.

And, what is it with some of the restaurants serving my wine in a hot glass?

Temperatures above are in Fahrenheit and quoted from Exploring Wine.

Let me know what temperature you like your wine served? In the end, it needs to be served at the temperatures that you prefer!

Bon Vin!

100 Wine Blogs, 100 Days 10
Where do you buy your wine?

10. There are so many ways that consumers are able to purchase wine these days. In the past, most would purchase everyday wine directly from a grocery store or liquor store. Now, we have the Internet for online auctions, specialty wine clubs, and we can even buy directly from the winery. 

The grocery store may sell a small selection of wines or they may even contain a wine department that specializes in affordable drinking wines and occasional wine tastings. Wine specialty shops are able to help you with your selection and usually carry wines that are harder to get if you are looking for something special. They may also have wine tastings. Wine retailers in the US, such as ABC Liquors or Total Wine, may even have publications or newsletters they distribute to help you with your selections by describing the wine or region. They may offer a bigger selection and the wine tastings are fun.

Wine auctions can be located online and through different catalogs, publications or wine clubs. Try to find out the background of the wine prior to purchasing. Sometimes they will let you taste the wine during pre-sale and other times the wine may have no history. Find out if they liked the wine or not and if it comes in complete cases or if there is one or two bottles missing from the case. That may let you know that the previous owners may not have liked that particular wine. If you know your wines and the history of the wine, you may get by with a great deal.

Online, you can find some specialty wine clubs. Again, make sure that the wine is the quality that you are looking for. Some wine clubs offer bargain wines that they are trying to get off of their hands. Other wine clubs offer very exclusive wines that you cannot get anywhere else but in their club. You may want to check out the club in full detail prior to joining.

My favorite way to purchase wine is directly from the winery by joining their club and having shipments sent to my home. They give you privileges with the wine club, such as free wine tours or tastings and specialty wines that are only made for their wine club members. They also make you feel very special when you visit or call.

If you can, go to the wineries and try their wines and purchase the ones that you like. This is convenient if you are in the area because you are able to pick your favorites without having to worry about what it might taste like. In the US, this is common but in other parts of the world, you may not be able to buy directly from the winery.

You can buy directly from the winery online if they have a Web site where they sell their wines. Hopefully if in the US, you are in one of the states that are able to receive wine shipments. Florida used to be one of those states that were not allowed to have wine shipments, but now some of the counties in Florida are allowed to receive wine shipments.

Beware of shipping charges. The convenience of not having to leave your home might offset the shipping costs. The wine is shipped in crates on their side as opposed to the bottle being straight up unless you buy your wine by the case. What is best about buying this way? It is coming from the winery directly to you so you will know what you are getting and it is guaranteed to be winery quality.

Let me know of how you like to buy your wines. I am sure there are many other routes not mentioned.

Be nice, funny, or educational with your response!
Bon Vin!

100 Wine Blogs, 100 Days Blog 11
What makes a Wine Bad?

11. How can you tell if a wine is bad? What does corked mean? When can you send it back? These are only some of the questions that many first or even second-time wine lovers ask. What makes a wine bad?

There are several visual things you can look at before even purchasing a bottle of wine that may change your mind about your purchase. First, make sure the bottle is not sticky. This could mean that the bottle had a change in temperature or was stored incorrectly and that some of the wine may have seeped out. Look at the bottle to see if any wine is below where it should be; this also indicates that some wine may have seeped out. Make sure the cork is intact and is not protruding out. If the wine has been stored upright for long periods of time or even in direct sunlight, it can cause damage to the contents of the bottle. Check to see how the wine was stored. If stored properly, the contents are intact, the cork looks good, and the bottle is not sticky, you are ready for your next step.

How can you tell if your wine is “corked”?

2,4,6-Trichloroanisole or, better known as TCA, is a fungus and is one of the reasons why a wine may taste or smell bad. This is considered a “corked” wine. The cork containing the fungus will come in contact with the wine, causing the wine to be tainted. The taint is considered by most to be a wet cardboard or musty smell. The smell to me reminds me of when you leave your laundry in the washer and forget for a few days to put it in the dryer….yes, that smell.

If the wine tastes like vinegar, your wine may have a bacterial infection. No, antibiotics will not get rid of this. Don’t drink it. It may also just be out of date and/or stored too long or incorrectly. You know, you go to your friend’s house and they show you their many bottles of wines that were not meant to be aged. Many wines are meant to drink at purchase or within one to three years from purchase. Your friend’s wine is about thirty years old and it’s a Sauvignon Blanc which looks brown or a Pinot Noir which looks like rust. Rust might taste better. Throw it out. The nose alone may give you the hint.

Wines that have high alcohol or high acidity may not be bad. This may be a positive characteristic in the type of wine that you are drinking. Wines with crystals on the cork or in the wine do not mean that the wine is bad either; this is a sign of tartaric crystals which are harmless. Drink away. You may want to strain the crystals or decant them. Mold on the outside of the cork prior to opening is okay as long as it has not affected the wine on the inside of the bottle. You may have been storing this wine and the moisture could have caused the mold.

One of the things that I hate the most is when a restaurant leaves their wines open to oxygen and the wine becomes affected. Yes, aerate your wine. However, too much oxygen will make your wine taste flat and will turn it a brownish color. Aroma or flavor, forget it. Then, I hate it when they serve it in one of those “smaller” glasses that is “warm to hot” from just getting washed and they used “soap” of all things. How dare they!

I want my red served at the right temperature, in the right glass, without the taste of soap, with the right amount of oxygen exposure, and I want it to be the right color and have the right flavor and a wonderful aroma. I am a picky little creature! If you don’t like it, send it back. But, be nice.

Tell me your thoughts, make them funny, keep them nice and educate me.
Bon Vin!

100 Wine Blogs, 100 Days Blog 12
What is Botrytis Cinerea better known as Noble Rot? Where can I find some?

12. Botrytis Cinerea is what they call a good mold. Noble rot is a mixture of sugar and acid which makes a flavor that comes from the grape being left on the vine to “rot,” get “moldy” and shrivel-up. This concentrates the flavors of sugar, acid and juice in the grape and keeps it contained. It makes for the best dessert wines the world has to offer. In different countries, noble rot is called different things. For instance, in California, it may be called “late harvest”. The grapes are left on the vine longer than the other grapes and the harvest is…well….late. This makes the wine a little more expensive; the ones that also come in the cute little bottles. Sometimes they are even called liquid gold because they may be gold in color with a rich taste. A dessert wine to covet.

Two of my California Late Harvest favorites:

2005 Dolce Napa Valley Late Harvest Wine (375mL)

Dolce happens to be one that I have in my stash of great wines. Check out my Dolce pictures on my blog page. “Dolce embraces a deceptively simple philosophy: the pursuit of perfection in the art of late harvest winemaking. Dolce was created in 1985 by the partners of Far Niente. With a classic blend of late harvest Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc, Dolce is the only American winery dedicated to producing a single late harvest wine,” according to Dolce. However, with this said, there are other wineries in California that do produce late harvest wines. This wine goes for $85.00 a bottle (375mL), the larger size is sold out.

Another one of my favorites is made by Freemark Abbey and goes for $40.00 a bottle (375mL). Made with 100% White Riesling grapes in 100% stainless steel tanks, 9.8% alcohol and they only produced 259 cases for 2008.

2008 Edelwein Gold Late Harvest Rielsing (375mL)

Vintage and Winemaker's Notes:
Edelwein Gold is a great representation of a heavily botrytised Riesling from Freemark Abbey. The color is golden straw with a slight greenish hue. The aroma overflows the glass with mandarin orange, peach blossoms and apricot with hints of honeysuckle and pear. The mouthfeel is viscous and the flavor full with white peach and apricot laced with honey. The sweet, crisp finish has a beautiful balance that lasts for several minutes on the palate. Enjoy!

Have I made your mouth water? Tell me about your worldwide favorite dessert wines!

Tell me your thoughts, make them funny, keep them nice and educate me.
Bon Vin!

100 Wine Blogs, 100 Days Blog 13
What should you drink your wine in?

13. I guess for some people, it doesn’t matter what they drink their wine in, as long as they get to have some. Well, after several wine blogs, I think you have gotten to know that I have a big pet peeve about my wine glass.

What should a wine glass look like?

Stem: A wine glass needs to have a stem. Not too long but just enough to be able to hold the glass without touching the bowl. If you touch the bowl of the glass, you will change the temperature of your wine through the heat of the palm of your hand, warming the wine unnaturally. There are some companies that are opting to leave off the stem. Although it may be a new trend, I tend to like a stem on my glass, just how I like my roses!

Bowl: The bowl needs to be able to hold my wine and should not be too small. Wine needs to have room to develop flavor.

Lip: The lip needs to be thin and tulip-shaped. For white wine, it should be a little narrow at the top. For red wine, it should be tulip-shaped but not as narrow as the white.

Champagne or Sparkling Wines

My Champagne or sparkling wine needs to be in a champagne glass. If it’s got bubbles, I want a thin tapered flute to hold the flavor and keep the sparkle.

Reds and Whites

Container: Yes, it has to be served in a wine glass. No plastic please. A wine glass needs to be clear. No etching, color or design on the glass. You need to be able to visualize the color of your wine while it is in the glass. There is one exception for me as far as design goes. I do not mind seeing a winery logo in a small area on the glass. These types of glasses are fun to collect and I find myself having favorites that I use at home. I use a Laird Family Estate glass in a Chardonnay style or a Robert Mondavi Winery glass in a Reisling style for my whites. I use a Kunde or Silver Oak glass which both happen to be in a Bordeaux style for my reds.

You not do always have to buy the best wine glasses either. Get that out of your head. What if you break one of those $80 crystal glasses? Riedel is one of the glass companies that many people are familiar with or have heard of but there are many glass companies that make a wine experience more delectable. In the end, you have to drink your wine in a glass that makes the wine taste good to you.

Tell me your thoughts, make them funny, keep them nice and educate me.
Bon Vin!

100 Wine Blogs, 100 Days Blog 14
How to Throw a Great Wine Party?

14. In the next four articles, I would like to talk about wine parties and different ways to have fun hosting a party. How to throw a great wine party? How to have your guests blend wines to make their favorites? How to identify wine aromas? How to host a wine tasting in your home? These are ways you can enjoy common interests without it becoming a boring ritual.

How to throw a great party?

Decide how many people you are going to invite. Do they all have an interest in wine? What knowledge do they have about wines? What type of party do you want to have? There are so many different choices when it comes to wine. You can have a wine party and pair it up with fruit, cheese, dessert, chocolate or even a full seven course meal.

When you decide what to pair your wine with, you will need to pick wines that match up and bring out the best in the wine and the food. You can also determine what you are serving by what time of day your party takes place. If it is late evening, you may want to pair it up with desserts or appetizers. If it is every evening you may want a full course menu. If it is in the afternoon, a brunch can always be fun or if in the morning a breakfast will do just fine. Many people think that they cannot have a wine party in the early morning. Get that out of your head. Early morning is the best time to taste wine. Your taste buds are alive and ready to take on some new blends of textures and flavors.

Where should you have your wine party?

You can decide to have your party in your home. You may want to rent out a club house or room in a restaurant for your party if it is larger than what your home can handle. You may want to have a smaller party in order to focus more on the wine and less on the party. One of my favorite ways to throw a party like this is something I call “house jumping”. Each of your friends will have a portion of a meal at their house. You can have a designated driver, and go from house to house having first the appetizer at one person’s home, the main meal at another, the dessert at another and split up the homes and the meals. You can focus at each home on one wine and one meal. This makes it fun for everyone to be able to showcase their wine and their meal and not have to worry about the entire menu. It also is fun to talk about in either a limo or van where you can all be transported safely to each other’s home.

So, that takes care of who, what, when, where and how to throw a great wine party. Next we will talk about how to have fun wine blending with your friends.

Tell me your thoughts, make them funny, keep them nice and educate me.
Bon Vin!

100 Wine Blogs, 100 Days Blog 15
How to have your guests blend wines to make their favorites?

15. I would like to talk about wine parties and different ways to have fun hosting a party. In the last blog, we learned how to throw a great wine party. This article will talk about how to have your guests blend wines to make their favorites. The next two articles will be about how to identify wine aromas and how to host a wine tasting in your home. These are ways you can enjoy common interests without it becoming a boring ritual.

How to have your guests blend wines to make their favorites?

There are kits that you can purchase that are on the market such as “fusebox” from Crushpad. The kit will come with the wine for blending. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc are included in the California wine kit. The kit will also come with a blending placemat, corkscrew, recipe cards, wine evaluation cards, pipettes and a graduated cylinder. There is a mystery wine that is included that has already been blended. Once you get good at blending wines and how the different variations of wine tastes together, you can decide with your guests what the mystery wine might be.

You do not need to use this wine kit if you want to purchase these items separately. You can decide on a region or area and purchase some wines you think would be best for blending. Keep in mind that you should purchase wines that are not already blended.

First, you will each set up your area on a table that can accommodate all of the participants so that you can comment and share your thoughts together. Each person will need these basics for any wine tasting: water and crackers or bread to cleanse your palate between wines, a spit cup, paper towels, blending placemat, a pen or pencil and five wine glasses. You will be evaluating each wine that you create.

You start by tasting each of the wines by themselves before blending to get a feel for what each one tastes like. You can then either use the recipe cards that come with the kit to make a wine or create your own blend. For instance, the 1997 Opus One from Napa, California is one of the recipe cards in my kit. It gives the blend that you can recreate with the wines that are provided. The evaluation cards let you rate the color, aroma, flavor, texture and overall feel for the wine. You can decide what blend you like best. You can compare your blend with other participants. This is fun, easy and can become a habit.

If you do come up with an incredible blend and you are feeling daring, you can actually contact Crushpad to create your wine. All of you can split the cost and end up with cases of your favorite blend.

At Crushpad, they let you actually go to their facilities and help in the creation of your wine. You can sort the grapes, help in the fermentation or even taste your creation throughout the process. It is a fun and exciting adventure!

Tell me your thoughts, make them funny, keep them nice and educate me.
Bon Vin!

100 Wine Blogs, 100 Days Blog 16
How to Identify Wine Aromas?

16. I would like to talk about wine parties and different ways to have fun hosting a party. In the last two blogs, we learned how to throw a great wine party and how to have your guests blend wines to make their favorites. This article will discuss how to identify wine aromas. The next article will be about how to host a wine tasting in your home. These are ways you can enjoy common interests without it becoming a boring ritual.

How to identify wine aromas?

Another way to host a great wine party is to focus on the sense of smell. When we drink wine, we rely on several senses to learn about the wine. We first use our sense of sight to look at the wine’s color. We then use our sense of smell which may determine if the wine is drinkable. We use our sense of taste to determine flavors in the wine and sense of feel to determine the texture. These senses give us the color, aroma, flavor, texture and overall feel for the wine. Mastering these techniques makes us enjoy wine with a better understanding.

One of the ways that I like to learn about wine with my friends is to throw a “Wine Aroma” party. This can be done informally at your home, office or a local restaurant. Gather some friends and get started. First, you will need a “Wine Bouquet Aroma Kit” sold by Wine Enthusiast, or you can create your own scents by purchasing some of the items that are similar to the smells that you sense in the wine you taste. For instance, you can purchase a lemon, banana, dark chocolate, honey, green pepper, or any other item that you may want for your wine party. In the Wine Bouquet Aroma Kit, there are thirty-six wine bouquet aromas that are usually sensed in wine.

Wines will have characteristic scents that occur frequently differentiating a Sauvignon Blanc from a Syrah from a Cabernet. As you get to know the differences from training your memory and your sense of smell, you may be able to differentiate one wine from another.

For your Wine Aroma party, you can mix up the viles and have each person try to determine which aroma they smell. By trying to identify the scent, this trains your memory to know the difference between each scent and the aromas you may find in each different wine.

Another party idea is to open up some bottles of wine and try to determine which aromas are in the wine by matching up the scents in the viles with the scents in the wine.

Who’s got the best nose in the bunch? They should get to take home a bottle of wine!

Tell me your thoughts, make them funny, keep them nice and educate me.
Bon Vin!

100 Wine Blogs, 100 Days Blog 17
How to Host a Wine Tasting in Your Home?

17. I would like to talk about wine parties and different ways to have fun hosting a party. In the last three blogs, we learned how to throw a great wine party, how to have your guests blend wines to make their favorites and how to identify wine aromas. This article will discuss how to host a wine tasting in your home. These are ways you can enjoy common interests without it becoming a boring ritual.

How to host a wine tasting in your home?

Invite your wine loving friends. Decide what type of tasting you are going to have. Will it be a sit-down tasting with tasting mats and tasting sheets? Will you have a spittoon, water and crackers available? Do you have a white table cloth if you are doing a sit-down tasting? It is better to see the color of the wine for observation with a white background. Do you want to have food or appetizers or should you have only plain crackers or bread to cleanse the palate? Remember to tell your guests that there is to be no smoking and for them not to wear heavy perfume or cologne. This can interfere with the tasting.

Do any wines need to be opened prior to the tasting? If so, have them ready to go. Some of the wines may need to be opened right at the time of tasting such as sparkling wines. You should pour about 2-3 ounces in each glass only. Do not pour a full glass since your guests will be trying several types of wines.

When you are pouring the wine and deciding the order of which wines to try first, pour white before red and light before heavy. Pour young wines before old if you are having a vintage tasting. Vintage tastings can be fun. You can try the same wine but at different ages.

Do you want to have a tasting that is blind? Your guests will taste from bottles that are inside sacks and will have either no information or limited information regarding what they are trying. It is fun if they try to guess which wine they are drinking, even if they are not experienced with wines. They can then get familiar in learning how to taste wines and differentiate one wine from another. It is fun to see who guessed right.

Remember that sight is used to determine the color of the wine, which is best against a white background. Smell is then used to determine the aromas the wine has captured by swirling your glass and taking in a sniff. Taste is used next to determine if you like the wine or not by swishing and swirling it in your mouth. The sense of touch is used to determine the texture of the wine. From all of this, you can reveal the overall feel of each wine and the qualities that make a great wine to you. Did any of the wines capture you?

Tell me your thoughts, make them funny, keep them nice and educate me.
Bon Vin!

100 Wine Blogs, 100 Days Blog 18
Is Red Wine Really Heart Healthy?

18. Is red wine really heart healthy? Can wine be destructive? Can you benefit from drinking red wine?

Heart disease is the number one cause of death in women in the United States. According to the American Heart Association, Friday is “Wear Red Day” to show your support for those who have heart disease and to spread the word about heart disease.

Can you benefit from drinking red wine?

Drinking one to two glasses (5 ounces is one glass) of red wine a day may keep the heart disease away. It can lower blood pressure, lower LDL (low down lousy) cholesterol, raise HDL (highly desirable) cholesterol, prevent and reverse the attack of oxygen on body tissues, and may reduce the risk of ischemic strokes, heart attacks and blood clots by acting as a blood thinner inhibiting blood clotting. It also supplies antioxidants such as phenolic compounds: bioflavonoids, (in red grapes), non-flavonoids such as resveratrol (in red wine) and many more.

Can wine be destructive?

I used to work as a nurse in the Emergency Department and have seen a lot of destruction when it comes to alcohol consumption. Approximately 35% of all hospital admissions are alcohol-related with over one hundred thousand people dying each year in the United States because of alcohol abuse. In the UK, alcohol-related hospital admissions have risen over 47% since 2004, with over one million alcohol-related hospital admissions just in the last five years. Overconsumption of alcohol over time can cause heart disease and cirrhosis of the liver. This is a problem across the world and is a downside to drinking alcohol. It can be very addictive and should be consumed in moderation, which could be why there is no prescription for the use of alcohol in the medical industry.

Is wine really heart healthy?

Wine is heart healthy, but it can be destructive if you are not a light to moderate wine drinker. If you binge drink or have too much alcohol and are not able to drink in moderation, it is best to stay away. Even though the doctor might not prescribe it, drinking 1-2 glasses of red wine per day or several days of the week, may keep you Heart Healthy.

I am wearing red tomorrow on behalf of red wine being heart healthy!

Tell me your thoughts, make them funny, keep them nice and educate me.
Bon Vin!

100 Wine Blogs, 100 Days Blog 19
Do You Like Bubbles in Your Wine?

19. Do you like bubbles in your wine? What are the different methods used to make bubbles?

In France, Champagne is made using the Methode Champenoise method developed by the French and now used in other parts of the world. The term Champagne is so named because of the Champagne region in France and may not be allowed on other bottles of sparkling wine.

In the United States, in the past, we have used the term Champagne to mean any wine having bubbles. I cannot say that I blame the French for wanting to make a distinction between their Champagne and our use of the word Champagne. To the French, it means more than just a name or a region. It involves a tradition and method of hard work and time spent in making their sparkling wine have quite a sparkle. It is no wonder why they call their method of making Champagne the MethodeTraditionelle.

Sugar and yeast are combined inside a bottle with the wine to create the fizzle; they are capped with a bottle cap for second fermentation to take place inside of the bottle itself. Carbon dioxide is mixed with the wine in the bottle creating the bubbles. Yeast sediment that is left is removed when ready, the sparkling wine is topped off and a cork is put in its place. Sometimes there will also be a little sugar added called “dosage” to make the sparkling wine sweeter.

In the United States, wines made using the Methode Traditionelle also called traditional method or Methode Champenoise, are labeled “naturally fermented in this bottle”. Wines made using the transfer method are labeled “naturally fermented in the bottle” because they might not necessarily use the same bottle for second fermentation. Those wines that get their bubbles from the tank instead of the bottle are sometimes labeled “naturally fermented Charmat Bulk Process” and may also be known as Charmat or Cuve Close.

How do I like my bubbles? I like my bubbles using the traditional method which makes loads of fine, small bubbles. I do not like the sometimes larger bubbles that you find when other methods for making sparkling wine are used.

The next few articles will contain some of my favorite places to visit in California that make sparkling wine.

Tell me your thoughts, make them funny, keep them nice and educate me.
Bon Vin!

100 Wine Blogs, 100 Days Blog 20
How California Sparkling Wine started?

20. How California sparkling wine started?

We have all heard of Dom Perignon and Cristal but have we all heard of Schramsberg? Over in Calistoga, California in 1965, Blanc de Blancs was debuting at Schramsberg Vineyards. 100% Chardonnay grapes were used from Charles Krug Winery to make the first commercial sparkling wine in California using the traditional Methode Champenoise style of winemaking. In 1967, Blanc de Noirs followed using Pinot Noirs in the classic style. They then released the Reserve, their finest sparkling wine with over four years of aging. Now, their Reserve receives over six years of aging prior to release. The Davies family owns Schramsberg Vineyards and has produced sparkling wines with individuality, elegant style and grace for over four decades.

Visit their vineyards, winery and cellars high up in the hills. Enjoy their historic cave tour and tasting or if you are really serious about learning, attend their Spring Blending Camp in March or their Fall Harvest Camp in September.

Although I have toured their cave and have tasted plenty of Schramsberg sparkling wine, there is a new vintage in particular that I have yet to try; the 2002 J. Schram (1X750ml). They have aged this wine six years using an expensive process known as “ageing en tirage” to develop their finest flavor. Here is what they have to say about it:
“J. Schram epitomizes our philosophy to create a wine in which no effort has been spared and no care has been omitted. It is our very best Chardonnay-based Brut sparkling wine. Unbelievable score of 96 Points by Wine Enthusiast! December 2009.”

Priced at $100. What do the winemakers have to say about this wine?

“This wine delivers! Even with six years ageing en tirage, this wine's youthfulness bursts with aromas of fresh Granny Smith apple and juicy pineapple, followed by mature perfumes of freshly baked sourdough, roasted almond, and just a hint of graham cracker pie crust. A bright crisp entry leads way to generous flavors of candied grapefruit and glazed pineapple, with just a touch of key lime and mango. The mid-palate is rich and ever present, finishing with a tangy and lingering acidity. The 2002 J. Schram tastes deliciously today, and will continue to age and develop for decades to come."
Winemakers Keith Hock and Hugh Davies

How do I fell about Schramsberg wine? I will drink any Schramsberg, any day, anytime, anywhere at any age! If you have a forty-five year old Blanc de Blancs lying around, I’ll be right over.

Tell me your thoughts, make them funny, keep them nice and educate me.
Bon Vin!

100 Wine Blogs, 100 Days Blog 21
Three reasons why I like to visit Chandon Winery in Napa Valley, California.

21. Three reasons why I like to visit Chandon Winery in Napa Valley, California. They have a gift shop, they have art exhibits and they have great sparkling wines.

Maybe there are just a few more reasons why I like to visit Chandon. They are easy to get to, have plenty of parking, have a restaurant called etoile, have a cool tasting lounge and have a breathtaking view from their patio.

Thirty years ago, the founders of Chandon Winery came to Napa Valley from France. (Domaine Chandon, owned by the world’s largest Champagne producer, Moet et Chandon.)They decided to plant traditional grape varieties found in French Champagne including Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Meunier. Chandon Winery now makes both still and sparkling wines. One of my favorite sparkling wines that they make is:

etoile Brut

92 points Wine Enthusiast, December 2009
"The refined texture recommends this brut, which is mainly Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, with a splash of Pinot Meunier. It’s an elegant wine, rich in citrus fruits, green apples, raspberries, smoke and creamy yeast..."

Wine Tasting Notes from the Winery:


 “Tiny bubbles elevate a complex bouquet of ripe pear, toasted brioche and apple compote. Lemon custard flavors caress the palate followed by notes of baked apple crisp and roasted hazelnuts. The elegant structure persists throughout the long, savory finish.”

Tell me your thoughts, make them funny, keep them nice and educate me.
Bon Vin!

100 Wine Blogs, 100 Days Blog 22
Gloria Ferrer, the First Sparkling Wine House in the Sonoma Carneros Region of California.

22. Gloria Ferrer, is the first sparkling wine house in the Sonoma Carneros region of California. What do I like about this winery? They have a great tasting tour, a picturesque terrace overlooking Sonoma Valley and they offer Spanish and local cheeses along with other delicacies available in their tasting room. Planning on getting married, you may not find a more breathtaking open view of the valley. Gloria Ferrer makes still and sparkling wines but I like them for their sparklers. Below is one of my favorites.
1998 Carneros Cuvee


"A luscious and superior California bubbly, this blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay shows an irresistible richness of raspberry puree, cherry skin bitterness, vanilla, yeasty baked bread and something unidentifiably smoky-sweet. Yet it's bone dry. With a long, complex finish, it should continue to age beyond this, its tenth birthday."
- Wine Enthusiast Magazine, December 31, 2008

Tell me your thoughts, make them funny, keep them nice and educate me.
Bon Vin!

100 Wine Blogs, 100 Days Blog 23
 What is Cava?

23. What is Cava?

Cava is the name given by the Spanish to the traditional method process utilized to make sparkling wine. Champagne is to France what Cava is to Spain. The grapes traditionally used to make Cava are macabeo (the most popular white grape of northern Spain, contributing soft wildflowers and bitter almonds), xarel-lo (adds body, acidity and alcohol) and parellada (contributes delicacy and aroma) which are all grown in Spain in an area of Catalonia. Cava is a Catalan word meaning cave which is where the wines were traditionally stored. Freixenet is one of the most known producers of Cava in the United States, selling over one million cases of Cava per year.

Sounds good to me.
Tell me your thoughts, make them funny, keep them nice and educate me.
Bon Vin!

100 Wine Blogs, 100 Days Blog 24
Enjoy a Sparkler and a Glorious View of Rutherford Valley at Mumm Napa in California.

24. Enjoy a sparkler and a glorious view of Rutherford Valley at Mumm Napa in California.

Wine Enthusiast Magazine calls Mumm Napa one of “America’s Best Tasting Rooms”. Located on the Silverado Trail, Mumm Napa in Napa Valley, has a glorious view of the Rutherford Valley. You can take a guided tour of the winery, shop in the winery gift shop, or view the Fine Art Photography Gallery. I love taking in an Ansel Adams photograph while sipping Santana Brut, DVX, Cuvee M Red or Brut Prestige. Mumm Napa contains an indoor tasting salon or you can enjoy their outdoor patio. My favorite place to sip my sparkling wine at Mumm is on their terrace to experience the late afternoon at sunset.

Tell me your thoughts, make them funny, keep them nice and educate me.
Bon Vin!

100 Wine Blogs, 100 Days Blog 25
Who makes Sparkling Wines from Organic Vineyards?
What is a photovoltaic solar collection system and who has one?

25. Who makes Sparkling Wines from Organic Vineyards? What is a photovoltaic solar collection system and who has one?

California has sparkling wines made from the organic vineyards of Domaine Carneros. Domaine Carneros was founded in 1987 by Claude Taittinger. Champagne Taittinger and partner Lobrand Corporation developed a regional landmark on 138 acres of parcel in Carneros, California.

The beautiful chateau and terrace sit on top of a hill with a view of rolling vineyards. In April of 2008, Domaine Carneros received the organic certification by the California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF). This is a three year process making them the first sparkling winery in the United States with all of their estate vineyards certified.

In 2003, the winery installed the largest photovoltaic solar collection system then existent on any winery in the world, according to their Web site. They have installed lighting by skylights, night cooling systems to maintain cellar temperature and they built into the earth for insulation. Other unique features contained in all four vineyards are owl boxes used to control rodents.

They have a terrace at their main chateau to sip sparkling wine and watch the sunset. They close at 6pm giving you time to visit their vineyard for the last tasting of the day. They also have a gift shop and we know how I like those.

Even though Taittinger is famous for making Champagne from the Champagne region of France using the traditional method, Domaine Carneros prefers to call their California sparklers the American name of sparkling wine. They feel that they should not replicate someone else’s name. They make three traditional styles of sparkling wine: Brut, Brut Rosé and Blanc de Blancs.

Although Domaine Carneros makes spectacular sparkling wine, their surprise features are their Pinot Noirs. My favorite being the award winning “The Famous Gate”. It highlights smokey toasty aromas along with blackberries and dark cherry notes.


2006 The Famous Gate - Beverage Testing Institute, 2008 World Wine Championships, Gold Medal, 91 Points

2006 The Famous Gate - Wine Enthusiast Rating, 92 points, 12/31/08

Tell me your thoughts, make them funny, keep them nice and educate me.
Bon Vin!

100 Wine Blogs, 100 Days Blog 26
Do you want to have an online wine tasting with sparklers?

26. Do you want to have an online wine tasting with sparklers?

Let’s start our wine tasting by reviewing the labels on the bottles, what each Web site has to say about their wines and the price of each. The two wines that we are reviewing are Korbel Brut, California Champagne and Schramsberg, Blanc de Blancs, Brut Sparkling Wine, Vintage 2006.

Korbel Web site:

Korbel Brut is America’s favorite methode champenoise champagne. It is used to celebrate more weddings, anniversaries, and New Year’s Eves than any other quality champagne. The goal is to make a champagne that consistently delivers a lot of quality for the price. Korbel Brut is crisp and refreshing, with a light citrus and fresh pear-like note in the finish.

Schramsberg Web site:

The first wine Schramsberg produced in 1965 and was America’s first commercially produced, Chardonnay-based brut sparkling wine. Small lots of malolactic-and barrel-fermented wines are added for complexity. The wine is aged on the yeast lees in the bottle for about two years prior to disgorgement. With its vibrant, fruitful and crisp nature, this sparkling wine will maintain its freshness, structure and refined finish for many years, even decades following its initial release.


Established 1882
Methode Champenoise
California Champagne
Alcohol: 12%
Produced and Bottled by F. Korbel & Bros., Inc.
Greenville, Sonoma Co., California

Not on Label:
A blend of multiple varieties from multiple appellations and even multiple years.
Harvested: Non-vintage Blend
Appellation: California
Composition: Pinot Noir, Chenin Blanc, French Colombard, Chardonnay
Dosage: 1.00%
Production: 750,000 cases annually

$9.99 US Dollars


Founded 1862
Blanc De Blancs
Methode Champenoise
Vintage 2006
Produced and Bottled by Schramsberg Vineyards
Calistoga, California
100% North Coast Sparkling Wine
Alcohol: 12.9%
100% Chardonnay
Cool climate North Coast Vineyards
Barrel fermentation and extended aging
Hugh Davies, Vintner

$25.99 US Dollars

If you have these two bottles in your local store, go out and buy them and give them a try. I want to hear what you have to say about each. Have someone label the glasses A and B and label the bottles A and B for a blind tasting. Do not look at which one you are trying. Try a blind tasting and see what you think. If you do not have these two bottles or cannot get them locally, just look for our next post and see what others have to say about the taste.

Tell me your thoughts, make them funny, keep them nice and educate me.
Bon Vin!

100 Wine Blogs, 100 Days Blog 27
It is Taste Time! Wine Tasting Challenge Korbel vs. Schramsberg

27. It is Taste Time! Wine Tasting Challenge Korbel vs. Schramsberg
We reviewed the labels, the price and what each Web site had to say about their wine. The two wines we reviewed were Korbel Brut, California Champagne and Schramsberg, Blanc de Blancs, Brut Sparkling Wine, Vintage 2006. You can view the video Part 1 and read along or try your own tasting and tell me what you think.

Korbel vs. Schramsberg. Let’s get started!

Video Part 1:

In one corner we have the famous Korbel, Brut style, which is mass produced and used in America at weddings, New Year’s parties and momentous events. It is a California Champagne using the traditional method, aged 12 months on the lees.

Schramsberg, with small batch nurturing, is a Blanc de Blancs aged 2-3 years on the lees. Not found readily available throughout the United States. Their most affordable budget-minded Brut Sparkling Wine, using the traditional method.
In Spain it is called Cava, in Italy it is Spumante, and of course, Champagne, France is the only place to get Champagne.

The Challenge Begins:
Pop the cork and pour your sparkling wine right before the tasting for the freshest taste. Do not open the bottles and “let them breathe”. They should be served at the right temperature to get the best taste results.

1. Visual Inspection: Color and Bubbles (Look) B & C

When tasting reds or whites, you traditionally swirl your glass to bring up the aroma and to visualize the texture against the glass. With sparklers, you do not swirl your glass. First, look at the color and the bubbles.

For this blind wine tasting we labeled one wine B and one wine C. We started with C for the tasting. (Don’t ask…) We saw more bubbles in glass B from visual inspection. They were both poured at the same time into the glasses. B was a clear green-yellow color. C had a darker slight yellow-amber color.

2. Aroma (Smell) C 

C smelled fruity, peachy-type smell, apple-pear, and someone even smelled banana.

3. Flavor and Texture (Taste, Mouthfeel) C

It so happened that once someone mentioned banana, I then tasted banana. Not possible, but hey, I guess it influenced me. The girls felt that it tasted like sparkling apple cider. When I tasted seriously, I tasted a pear-apple taste. In Florida, we have about 30 different types of apples and only one type of pear. We may think of apple a little more than we may think of pear. Although, pears are good for asthma, according to Alma in the video. They did not think that it was bad as far as taste goes. Does that mean that it was not good either? They also felt the aftertaste was not smooth.

What are the results so far?

Both Web sites are informative. There is a tie.

Price goes to Korbel.

Visual inspection including bubbles and color goes to Schramsberg.

Who will take the title?

Tell me your thoughts, make them funny, keep them nice and educate me.
Bon Vin!  

100 Wine Blogs, 100 Days Blog 28
Wine Tasting Challenge Korbel vs. Schramsberg Part 2

28. It is Taste Time! Wine Tasting Challenge Korbel vs. Schramsberg Part 2

We reviewed the labels, the price and what each Web site had to say about their wine in Blog 26. The two wines we reviewed were Korbel Brut, California Champagne and Schramsberg, Blanc de Blancs, Brut Sparkling Wine, Vintage 2006. You can view the video Part 1 and Part 2 and read along or try your own tasting and tell me what you think. Blog 27 goes along with video Part 1 and Blog 28 goes along with video Part 2.

Video Part 2:

Korbel vs. Schramsberg. Let’s go!

1. Visual Inspection: Color and Bubbles (Look)were reviewed in Part 1 for both wines. On to Aroma.
2. Aroma (Smell) B & C

 They felt that B smelled like a wine, while C smelled more like a fruit.  Lindsay smelled another type of fruit in C. Some Florida wines may have oranges and peaches and are fruity. They felt that B did not have that fruity smell.

3. Flavor and Texture (Taste, Mouthfeel)B & C

Alma felt that B was not as light as C because she felt B had more flavor to it. Patti thought that B was very bubbly, tasted bubbly, and felt bubbly. Lindsay said that it tasted like a sparkling wine. Patti felt B was not fruity at all. They all felt that B had a much more smooth finish. Lindsay said that it tasted complete. Alma felt it did come together more. In comparison, B was much better. It was complete. It had a fresh mouthfeel and it matched its color. It had bubbles that had staying power. Even if you grabbed your glass and shook it, not that you are supposed to, you could see the tiny, tiny, tiny bubbles that are in there.  Patti then started singing Tiny Bubbles and Alma said the wine swirls. When looking into the top of glass C, you can see big bubbles. Lindsay said C was losing it the longer you sat there. And then, the stand-off: Which did they like better, B or C? Alma said B, Patti said B, and Lindsay said B. It was B across the board.


If you like something light and sweet and fruity you may like C, the Korbel. It should be dry because it is a Brut but we found it to be sweet and fruity. For the price, you may want to pick Korbel. The nose goes away, but at a party and when making a toast, the mood is already there. You are drinking your California Champagne. You are popping it in your mouth and it is doing the trick.

Lindsay does not like Champagne because she does not like this type of Champagne (Korbel). She says that she would like it if it were Schramsberg instead of Korbel at the party but she always gets to taste the Korbel. Alma, thinks a Champagne or a Cava is much better than the Korbel and that the Schramsberg is definitely much better.  None of them have had the Schramsberg before.

Korbel and Schramsberg were both founded in the 1800’s. They can agrue about which one came first. Schramsberg family came from Europe and settled in Calistoga in the Napa Valley, while Korbel settled on the Sonoma side .If you go to either sparkling wine house you’ll see that they all have a history there.

Again, I say, I will pick a Schramsberg any day, anytime anywhere over a Korbel. I will know the difference between the two by look, bubbles, taste, and by mouthfeel. I challenge anyone out there. Although, you can trick me on a good day.  I just love that Schramsberg!

Patti stated that the Korbel left a bitter taste in her mouth. She liked the Schramsberg better. Here in the US, people will drink a “Champagne” and they won’t like it because it was one of “those”. The Schramsberg does not have that. The Schramsberg has the Chardonnay taste. It is a pure Chardonnay. It tastes light, dry, mild, and clean. What do you taste in it? Smooth, delicate, dry? The dosage is lighter being a Brut. Korbel had a fruitier taste and less of a dry taste even though it was a Brut. It tasted as if it had more sugar in it.

Lindsay then stated that she got a chocolate effect. A dark chocolate kind of scent. That is what comes with age. They felt that it was nice and that they really liked it. Whether it is Sparkling Wine, Cava, Spumanti, or anything like that, Champagne, is what I feel with the Schramsberg. I feel that it’s got a traditional Champagne taste. If I want to have Champagne, I will have Perrier Jouet, (the picture behind the girls in the video) from Champagne, France or any Champagne from France.

Our conclusion, if you want an American affordable Sparkling Wine that costs about $25.99 you can pick up a Schramsberg. If you need something even more budget-minded, the $9.99 California Champagne, Korbel, may be a good choice for you. We are at 100% here. The girls have spoken and that is it. Korbel vs. Schramsberg, who wins…Schramsberg! Cheers!
Tell me your thoughts, make them funny, keep them nice and educate me.
Bon Vin!

100 Wine Blogs, 100 Days Blog 29
Blind Tasting of Pinot Noir & Pinotage Part 1

Video Part 1

Blog 29 Blind Tasting of Pinot Noir & Pinotage Part 1

1. Visual Inspection: Color and Texture (Legs)

Two red wines were tasted blind, one labeled as B and one labeled as C. We first tasted wine C. You can view the video Part 1 for the tasting or read along.
We use a lot of our senses when we taste wine. We use the sense of smell, touch, taste and feel. Everyone has a different palate and may like different wines. Some may like a lighter wine with fruit, while others may like a heavy wine with spice and oak. There are so many different combinations; these are not the only choices. Let’s get to the tasting.

We used tasting mats so that they could look first against the white background to perform a visual inspection of the wine. They looked at the color of the wine and swirled the wine in the glass to view the texture and color. They put the glass down on the white paper and swirled it by the stem for a better swirl. You do not want to swirl the glass from the bowl because it will change the temperature of the wine. How does the wine look in the glass? Is it light, is it heavy? Does the wine have legs? Is she walking?

2. Aroma (Smell)

We then went to the sense of smell. They swirled the glass again, sticking their nose deep into the glass towards the upper part of the glass. I like the Bordeaux glass or even the Burgundy glass for smelling reds.

Try to describe what you smell in that wine? In wine C, some of the terms that they used to describe the wine were; woody, wood chips, earthy, cherry and berry. You might smell some type of fruit since it is made out of grapes and made from the earth. You may have a fruity or berry smell as well as a possible earthy smell. You do not want to have a taint or corky smell to it. If it smells like old newspapers stop and return the bottle.

3. Flavor and Texture (Taste, Mouthfeel)

They swirled it a little bit again, aired it out a little, to let it breathe. The temperature needs to be just right to get a better mouthfeel. The length of time it has been left out prior to tasting the wine is also important. You want to feel the wine in your mouth and taste the wine. Is it a heavy wine? Is it medium? Does it have texture and body to it? Is it a light wine? Both whites and reds can have a heavy feel in the mouth. Do you taste anything? Do you taste any oak?

One of the wines we were tasting, was an African wine and one was a California wine. Most of the time, the California wines will have some oak in their wine. The South African wine may also have some toast or oak.

Lindsay felt it was pretty light and tasted like a Pinot Noir. Alma felt it might be a Pinot Noir or Syrah. Patti felt a medium to heavy taste, and maybe an oaky taste. If you are a heavy wine drinker it might feel lighter and if you are a light wine drinker it may feel heavier. Alma and Lindsay thought that it tasted good but Patti felt that it did not taste good and wanted to know if anyone wanted it. I think it tasted light and flowed in the glass. I didn’t see any heavy legs and I thought it tasted ok, which is not a good word for me when describing wine.

4. Finish (Lasting Impression, Completeness)

The last thing that I look at in a wine towards the end of the tasting is…does it have a finish? Does it finish? It might have a cute body in it but no finish or does it finish what it was trying to accomplish? Does the flavor linger or does it end? C is just a nice drinking, easy going, light wine. Patti said she must be having an off day. She did not like it. Alma and Lindsay thought C was good.

In Part 2, we will see what wine B has to offer and we will cast a vote for the winner!  

Tell me your thoughts, make them funny, keep them nice and educate me.
Bon Vin!  

100 Wine Blogs, 100 Days Blog 30
Blind Tasting of Pinot Noir & Pinotage Part 2

Video Part 2

Blog 30 Blind Tasting of Pinot Noir & Pinotage Part 2

30. Blind Tasting of Pinot Noir & Pinotage Part 2

Two red wines were tasted blind, one labeled as B and one labeled as C. We first tasted wine C in Part 1 and Blog 29. You can view the video Part 1 for the tasting and read Blog 29, then come and join us by viewing the video Part 2 and reading Blog 30.
The Pinot Noir was picked to be comparable to the Pinotage. However, the Pinot Noir was $29.99 and the Pinotage was $12.99. The Pinotage was literally the only one in my city at the time and I don’t know why. It is a mass produced wine and may not represent the best that Pinotage has to offer to our taste buds. Pinotage is a cross between the Pinot Noir grape and the Cinsaut. Cinsaut being from Rhone. Cinsaut in South Africa is called Hermitage, giving Pinotage the end of its name. Pinotage has its origins in South Africa.
Let’s see what we had to say about wine B in comparison to wine C.

1. Visual Inspection: Color and Texture (Legs)
2. Aroma (Smell)
3. Flavor and Texture (Taste, Mouthfeel)
4. Finish (Lasting Impression, Completeness)

Lindsay thinks B is not a brown color but a dinghy red color and smells like smoky sausage. I think B smells like the Philadelphia Eagles, toast or coffee. Alma thinks B smells musky, and like a sweaty man.  Patti thinks B is light and fruity with toast and coffee as well. She likes it. It stands out because it is different and distinct. B is more memorable. For us, it had a unique nose.

Alma felt that the strength of the aroma did not match with the taste of the wine. She thinks that it smells like a South African Cabernet. It is too big on the nose with a strong aroma and too light on the body and taste. B deserves a heavier body. I think that B was unique and different and I loved the nose on it. I couldn’t get past the nose. Alma and Lindsay did not like the finish. Patti liked the finish. Alma felt that C tasted more like table wine.

I would like to taste a boutique winery Pinotage from South Africa and compare it to another Pinotage from a different country. The Pinotage had a different nose than we are used to in the United States.

The California Pinot Noir has some oak, the Pinotage has some toast. The nose on the Pinotage was distinctive and we liked it. And then, I was distracted by the smell of some caramel in the Pinot Noir.

Lindsay and Alma liked C, the Pinot Noir and Patti liked B, the Pinotage. Lindsay said that if she was having a smoky cheese or some Gouda though, she would pick the Pinotage. It depends on the situation. We all felt the nose on the Pinotage was too big for its taste.

All of the girls have had wine tastings but none have taken any wine classes. They like to drink a variety of wines and have had some skill in tasting wine but not studying it. They were just going by trial and error from having parties, entertaining, and trying to pair food with wine.

This Pinotage was unique, but lacked in its finish and what it had to offer. It needed to offer us women just a little bit more. It was not standing up for its name. Alma said that this Pinotage was used on an airline as the official airline wine. The Pinot Noir to me did not live up to its reputation of a California Pinot Noir. We would like to see a good Pinot Noir from Oregon. Patti took the bottle of Pinotage and did not give it back. We have not seen nor heard from her since.
Just three girls trying two wines! Oh, make that four girls. I forgot about me!
In Blog 31, I will let you know the names of these two wines, what their Web sites have to say about them and tell you about the labels. 
Tell me your thoughts, make them funny, keep them nice and educate me.
Bon Vin!  

100 Wine Blogs, 100 Days Blog 31
What are the names of the two wines, what do their Web sites have to say about them and what’s on the label?

31. What are the names of the two wines, what do their Web sites have to say about them and what’s on the label? In Blog 29 and Blog 30, we tasted two wines. C was the Pinot Noir and B was the Pinotage. Alma and Lindsay liked the Pinot Noir better than the Pinotage. Patti liked the Pinotage better. Let’s look at the names of the two wines.
Wine C:

Harvest Moon Ranch Reserve
Pinot Noir
Arroyo Grande Valley

Wine B:

The Winemaster’s Reserve
Vintage 2007
Wine of Origin Western Cape
Product of South Africa

Let’s look and see what the Web sites had to say about them:

Laetitia Vineyard and Winery

The Laetitia Vineyard and Winery is located four miles from the Pacific Ocean in the Arroyo Grande Valley AVA. The vineyard is in an area of California’s coolest grape growing region. The estate sits on 1,888 acres with 620 acres currently planted to grape vines with Pinot Noir being the most widely planted varietal. They also plant Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Tempranillo, Syrah, Pinot Gris and White Riesling.

I did not find specific tasting notes on this bottle of wine but they did have notes on their Estate Pinot Noir. The tasting notes on their Estate Pinot Noir:
“Dark mulberry tones and aromas of cranberry and spiced plum, this 2008 vintage Pinot Noir is rich and medium-bodied. Youthful flavors of pomegranate, sandalwood and red cherries are married beautifully with earthy cola and smoke. The palate is framed with bright, crisp acidity and will age gracefully. Pair with salmon croquettes, braised lamb shanks or wild mushroom risotto.”


Nederburg is a winery located in South Africa. It is an award winning winery. The appeal according to their Web site lies in their ability to make classically structured wine with fruit-rich flavors.

The Winemaster’s Reserve Collection:

“Nederburg’s core super-premium wines are accommodated in The Winemaster’s Reserve ensemble, named to honour the long-established tradition of winemaking excellence. These classic wines treasure the integrity of our grapes in every step of the wine-growing and winemaking journey. Every glass demonstrates an unwavering commitment to world-class vineyard and cellar skills. This wine is made from 100% Pinotage grapes.”

“The grapes were sourced from vineyards in and around the Western Cape. Tasting notes: Plum and cherry aromas with slight oak spices in the background. Well-balanced, rich fruit flavors with soft tannins and a lingering finish. Excellent served with pasta, pizza, roast leg of lamb, bobotie and even chocolate.”

Tell me your thoughts, make them funny, keep them nice and educate me.
Bon Vin!

100 Wine Blogs, 100 Days Blog 32
How can you drink a Cabernet Sauvignon for breakfast?

 32. How can you drink a Cabernet Sauvignon for breakfast?
It was Valentine’s Day and I posted a blog online asking others to blog about what they would be drinking on Valentine’s Day and what would be their beverage of choice. It made me think of what I was going to have. The typical Pink Champagne, which would be perfect for the celebration, or was I going to drink something else? Remember, this was for breakfast. Ryan was taking me and the children to a club in Tampa, Florida called “The Tampa Club”. It sits 42 stories high in our city’s largest building with a breathtaking view of the city and two of our island communities. They go out of their way to make an experience that you will never forget.

They called their breakfast, St. Valentine’s Day “Breakfast @ Brennan’s” which takes place from 10am – 2pm.

My meal consisted of:


Warm Bourbon Baked Apple with Cinnamon Double Cream


French Quarter Salad with Cinnamon Toasted Pecans, Fresh Strawberries, Mandarin Oranges, Blueberries & Cracked Black Peppercorn Vinaigrette


Steak Au Poivre (Classically prepared with Cracked Black Peppercorns, Brandy and Crème)

Desserts & Diablos

Chocolate Fondue (with a Chocolate Fountain)

Crème Brulee
Bananas Foster

Café Diablo (Coffee with Gran Marnier and an Orange Wedge)

What did we drink? Ryan had a nice big bountiful California Cabernet Sauvignon from Kunde. I had a medium-bodied, toasty, berrytastic South African 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon from Robertson Winery. It went perfect with our meals.

Check out our pictures of our very special day.
So when you ask me, how can you drink a
Cabernet Sauvignon for breakfast? I say, very easily!

Tell me your thoughts, make them funny, keep them nice and educate me.

Bon Vin!

100 Wine Blogs, 100 Days
Blog 33 Robertson Winery Tasting: Pinotage vs. Cabernet Sauvignon Part 1

33. Robertson Winery Tasting: Pinotage vs. Cabernet Sauvignon Part 1

The Three Wine Girls are ready to taste some more wine. You can view the video Part 1to go with Blog 33 and video Part 2 to go with Blog 34. Pinotage is not pronounced “pinot-tauge,” it is pronounced “pin-oh-tauge,” according to a good friend of mine. Here in America, we don’t say anything right. Spain should really be Espana and Italy should really be Italia. Being American, it is hard to pronounce other country names. So, we have officially decided to pronounce it correctly, hopefully we have it right this time.

Our tasting consisted of the Pinotage and the Cabernet Sauvignon. Both wines are vintage 2008, from Robertson Winery in South Africa. Both bottles were about $9.99 each and are drink now wines. The Pinotage is made using Pinot Noir and Cinsaut. Cinsaut is pronounced “sin-sew” in South African and in France, the spelling is Cinsault and the pronunciation is “san-sew”. Cinsaut and Pinot Noir used to be called Hermitage in South Africa but it is now known in South Africa as Pinotage.

We did not do a blind tasting this time. We compared the B wine, which was the Pinotage, to the C wine, which was the Cabernet Sauvignon to see which one we like better. The night before the tasting, I had a Cabernet Sauvignon from Robertson Winery that was a 2007. I don’t know if wine critics want to hit me over the head for loving it so much, or if it’s a brilliant choice. I think that the wine is affordable and one of my favorites. The 2007 Robertson did not have a twist cap like the 2008. The Three Wine Girls feel that it is nostalgic to have a cork. It’s a ceremony! What is the world thinking with the twist cap? It is fun to try to find a bottle opener in the middle of the night.

Lindsay started the tasting with wine B first, the lighter wine, the Pinotage. We got some air in our glasses by swirling glass B around, looking for color and clarity. We then held it up to the light with our white background. We felt the color of wine B looked like a plum. Alma felt it was not that thin. She liked the smell and felt it was not that strong. She really liked the nose on it and felt it was smoky. Veronica noted that it had toasty oak and a great smell. She also smelled banana, chocolate and coffee and it tasted that way too. Alma felt it had the perfect amount of sweaty man. It tasted pretty light, medium bodied with soft tannins. It was not bitey, it tasted plumy and was pretty good with a nice mild finish. It also lingers a little bit.

I like to look at my fingers through the wines by putting my fingers behind the glass to see the weight of the wine. If you can see your fingers through the wine, it may not be very heavy. The Cabernet Sauvignon and the Pinotage were not heavy because we could see our fingers through the wine in the glass. We have those darker colors in many of our California Cabs including dark, rich, deep reds and heavy oak with spice. We felt the pin-o-tauge was…mmmm…very good! Part 2 is the next blog where we will taste the Cabernet Sauvignon.

Tell me your thoughts, make them funny, keep them nice and educate me.
Bon Vin!

100 Wine Blogs, 100 Days

Blog 34 Robertson Winery Pinotage vs. Cabernet Sauvignon Part 2

34. Robertson Winery Pinotage vs. Cabernet Sauvignon Part 2
We tasted the 2008 Robertson Pinotage from South Africa and thought it tasted mmm mmm good. We then tasted the 2008 Robertson Cabernet Sauvignon. I wanted to compare it to the 2007 that I had a few days before.

Alma jump-started the tasting. She felt that wine C, the Cab, had a smoky and spicy nose. Veronica felt it smelled like cassis. Alma felt the taste was good, smooth and silky on the tongue, and barely medium-bodied like skim milk or 1 per cent. Lindsay and Veronica felt that it was heavier than the Pinotage. It had a lighter texture. The colors for both wines are see-through plum. The taste to Veronica was plumy and berry.

Alma and Lindsay felt that they would like the Pinotage with a steak and cracked pepper. Lindsay felt the Pinotage also would be good with a smoked sausage or pork. Veronica loved the nose on the Pinotage. She felt the Cabernet Sauvignon had a heavier nose, taste and mouthfeel. Alma felt that both were good and it depended on the occasion, but she liked the spices in the Cabernet.

Lindsay thought that the Pinotage had a unique nose. I told her that our viewers wanted to know what we meant by unique and distinct. We are used to our United States wines and our California wines. The nose is different on the South African wines. They have more smoky and toasty notes that we are not used too. The chocolate and plum taste has flair to it. The color is also different, when we have a heavy Cab, our Cab is very heavy and very dark. They are just big.

Veronica can tell the difference between the 2007 and the 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon from Robertson. The 2007 is better. Veronica would not bring it in to share with the group, because it is her favorite and she is stingy. (We all know that I am Veronica.) 

Veronica liked the Pinotage better and Alma and Lindsay liked the Cab better for an everyday choice. The Three Wine Girls then said “Cheers!” We decided that we were not done with the video and we started talking even more. Then, Ryan (“the guy” behind the camera) snuck in when the girls left and stated, “for the record, I was saying ‘pin-oh-tauge’ the whole time, not ‘pinot-tauge’!” The nerve of him!

Tell me your thoughts, make them funny, keep them nice and educate me.
Bon Vin!

100 Wine Blogs, 100 Days Blog 35
Tasting Xplorador Wine Part 1

Blog 35: Tasting Xplorador Wine Part 1 with the 3 Wine Girls Alma, Veronica & Lindsay

The 3 Wine Girls ventured out to talk about Xplorador wines. We tasted a Malbec from Argentina. Malbec is the main grape varietal of Argentina. You can find Malbec in California, France and throughout the world. We tried a Merlot made in Chile. Merlot is a universal grape. We also tasted a Carmenere which is a varietal from Chile.

Carmenere was originally a known varietal from France over 100 years ago. Phylloxera was the fault of the United States. We pretty much spread it throughout the world. It killed off the Carmenere grape in France. However, in Chile, in the 1990’s they found a grape that they thought was Merlot, it happened to be the long lost Carmenere. If you look at the leaves of the Merlot and the Carmenere, they are different. The underside of the Merlot leaf is white, and the underside of the Carmenere is a reddish-orangish color.

Carmenere was a little bit of a struggle to grow for France because of the colder weather, the weather in Chile improved the quality of the Carmenere grapes. They thrived on a bit of warmer weather. The Merlot and the Camenere grape also peaked at different times; they ripened about a month apart. Chile was calling the Carmenere grape the Merlot Select.

We then started the tasting, finally, we determined that the bottles were opened and aired prior to drinking. We swirled and smelled. We determined that it smelled pretty and had a great nose. We immediately smelled cherry or black cherry, vanilla and a tobacco scent.
The 3 Wine Girls tasted some red fruit with a very silky feeling to it. It had some spice in it too, like pepper and a little oak. It was also juicy and smooth. We love, love, love the Malbec. Veronica thought it was tweetable. Malbec from the Mendoza region of Argentina is assured to be smooth, silky, inexpensive and good. Argentina is the pro on Malbec. This $6.50 bottle can stand up to many $30-$50 bottles of California Malbec.

The color is deep plum-berry with lots of fruit. You smell everything that happened in the making of this wine. I don’t think that Alma accidently poured an exceptionally huge glass of the Xplorador Malbec. She knew exactly what she was doing. She is no dummy. After filming, she did drink the entire glass.
I rated this wine with 92 points, even though many others may not agree with me on a $6.50 glass of wine, but for my taste buds, it gets the points. Smooth and silky with a smooth finish that brings out just the right flavor in your mouth. Xplorador makes a great Malbec! Now, will the Carmenere and Merlot pass the 3 Wine Girls test!

Tell me your thoughts, make them funny, keep them nice and educate me.

Bon Vin!

100 Wine Blogs, 100 Days Blog 36
Tasting Xplorador Wine Part 2

Blog 36: Tasting Xplorador Wine Part 2 with the 3 Wine Girls Alma, Veronica & Lindsay

The 3 Wine Girls ventured out to talk about Xplorador wines. We tasted a Malbec from Argentina, and a Carmenere and a Merlot from Chile. In the Xplorador Wine video Part 1, the 3 Wine Girls gave the Malbec a 3 thumbs up and Veronica rated it with 92 points on her rating scale for tastability. We also gave it five stars and five diamonds for whichever rating scale you go by. Lindsay stated that she likes diamonds.
3 out of 3 Wine Girls recommend Xplorador Malbec!

The 3 Wine Girls then tried the Merlot which had a deep, red color to it. The aromas noted were earthy (good earthy), soil, green pepper, rose, spicy and a vegetal smell. The taste had a kick to it with soft tannins, but was not as smooth as the Malbec.

The 3 Wine Girls went on to taste the Carmenere. The color of crimson. The aromas noted were soil and earth, but not as earthy as the Merlot, some spice, cherry and vanilla. The finish lingers in your mouth pleasantly. Lindsay also smelled a soapy (good soapy) smell to it and Gardenias. Veronica felt it was velvety in the mouth with a silky feeling. Alma felt the Malbec had a silkier feel to it. We then tasted some plums and chocolate on the finish.

Carmenere was fantastic. It had a big color and a big taste. It might end up climbing like the Malbec did as it becomes known again throughout the world. Xplorador makes affordable wines that produce results! We clapped and we liked it!

Veronica wanted to know where Tito (the winemaker) was. She then spoke some Spanish. She wanted Tito’s autograph for making some incredible in-demand wines. You can purchase all three wines for under $20 and have something that you want to serve to your company. Veronica gave the Merlot 89 points and the Carmenere 92 points on her point scale. The Carmenere is a gem and can’t be produced by many others. Alma gave the Malbec and the Carmenere 95 points on her point scale.

Xplorador is one of the best values in wine right now! The 3 Wine Girls felt that the quality in the making of these wines was just perfect.

3 out of 3 Wine Girls recommend it. Xplorador is Wine Girl approved!

Tell me your thoughts, make them funny, keep them nice and educate me.

Bon Vin!

100 Wine Blogs, 100 Days, Blog 37
For the love of wine.

There are certain things that I think about when I think of wine. I think of the wineries that I have visited and the ones that I have yet to visit. I think of the friends that I shared a bottle of wine with. I think of the good memories that I have had when I drink a glass of wine that reminds me of something. It brings me back to the last time that I tasted or smelled a wine like that. I think about what went in to making this particular glass of wine. I think of how many hands it must have gone through to turn these grapes into such a great tasting beverage. And, I think of the passion and hard work that was put into making this glass of wine different than any other.

What makes you love wine?
For me, it is:

Fresh air
Bud break
Rolling vineyards
Bunches of grape varietals
The smell of French oak barrels
The aroma of the wine as you breathe it in
The taste of the wine and the texture once it hits your mouth
The friends that you meet and enjoy while tasting your wine
No two wines are the same
There are so many choices
Tell me why you love wine? I want to hear from you! Give me your thoughts!
 Bon Vin!

100 Wine Blogs, 100 Days, Blog 38
How did America devastate the European wine industry?

Blog 38 How did America devastate the European wine industry?

In the Xplorador wine video, the 3 Wine Girls wanted to extend their apologies for something that happened way back in the late 1850’s. America caused an unintentional devastation to the wine industry in France and throughout Europe.

Phylloxera is a louse that lives on different parts of the vine. It will also live on the root system, and sucks the sap from the roots. Its waste is distributed back into the roots of the vine. This is poison, and causes the vine to die within a few years.

In the late 1850’s, vines from the United States were shipped to France with our insects on the vines. No one was aware that these insects were on a free voyage to a new land to spread their deadly blight onto the vines across Europe. They would devastate and destroy when placed in French soil.

Phylloxera had already run its course in America, and the vines in America eventually developed immunity to the insects. Many of the grape growers throughout Europe had to graft their vines onto the United States rootstock as a solution. This was a devastation that took years to get over.
The 3 Wine Girls would be more than happy to extend their apologies by being invited to any vineyard across the world. They would like to extend their deepest United States apology for the unintentional universal devastation caused by our lousy insects.

Tell me why you love wine? I want to hear from you! Give me your thoughts!
Bon Vin!

100 Wine Blogs, 100 Days, Blog 39
When in Boston...

 Blog 39 When in Boston…

This week, I am in Boston, Massachusetts in the United States. Yes, it is cold compared to my home state of Florida. The Boston Wine Festival is taking place at the Boston Harbor Hotel. It started in January and ends in April of 2010. The nation’s longest running food and wine pairing series. Some of the wine owners that are showcasing their wines this week in the festival are Alex Gambal, Truchard Vineyards, and Arrowood Vineyards & Winery. Tickets are in the $100 and $200 dollar range and consist of the wine and food pairing as well as the winery owners themselves in attendance.

Little did I know that they have about 30 wineries in the surrounding area of Boston? Some specialize in blueberry wines and they have some hard core cider makers. There is even one winery called the Boston Winery where you can go to make your own wine. You can start by helping out with the crush and end up with the bottling of the wine.

Boston is known for their sports and beer. The Boston Celtics for basketball, the Boston Bruins for hockey, the Boston Red Sox for baseball, and the New England Patriots for football.

When you talk about beer, you are talking about Boston. Harpoon Brewery is a Boston original which has been opened since 1986. It is New England’s largest craft brewery. They brew Harpoon, IPA, UFO Hefeweizen and their variety of brewery-fresh beers.

When you order a beer in Boston, it is best to order on draught where your choices will be plentiful. If you order by the bottle, you may end up with typical Anheuser-Busch and Miller products; however, they do have a nice Sam Adams Light in the bottle. Samuel Adams originated in Boston in 1985 by first selling beer door-to-door to about 25 restaurants. They finally purchased a building and built a brewery in 1988. Their microbrew or craft beer consists of Boston Ale, Cream Stout, Double Bock, as well as a line of seasonal beers.
So, when in Boston, you may want to put your wine aside to try fresh microbrew ale.
Tell me if you love beer! I want to hear from you! Give me your thoughts!
 Bon Vin!

100 Wine Blogs, 100 Days, Blog 40
Boston Seafood and Wine Pairing

Blog 40 Boston Seafood and Wine Pairing

Ye Olde Union Oyster House is the oldest restaurant in the United States with continuous service. It is also the oldest restaurant in Boston, MA. Open since 1826. I wanted to see what types of wines they offered on their menu, with them being the oldest continuous service restaurant.

By the glass, you can get Heidsieck Little Blue Top Champagne, which has a medium body, with fresh citrus notes, and nice toasty flavors. Frei Brothers Russian River and Redwood Creek Chardonnay both from California. Maso Canali and Bella Sera Pinot Grigio from Italy. Whitehaven Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. Four Sisters Sauvignon Blanc, McWilliams Reisling, and McWilliams ‘Hanwood Estate’ Chardonnay and Shiraz from Australia. Canyon Road Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot from California. Mac Murray Ranch ‘Sonoma Coast’ Pinot Noir from California. These are all offered by the glass but they have a more extensive list for those wanting to purchase a bottle at the table.

I also compared this with Skipjack’s Seafood Emporium’s wine menu. They served a few types of sparkling wines along with Chardonnay, Reisling, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc and even Viognier. Their reds consisted of Pinot Noir, Shiraz, Malbec, and Cabernet Sauvignon. The majority of their selection consisted of light to medium bodied wines with only a few choices of heavy wines listed on the menu.

Boston is known for their seafood and most of the restaurants specialize in serving lobster, crab, oysters, mussels, scallops, clams and various types of fish. What I noticed when eating at many of the restaurants in the Boston area, is that the wine menu differed from wine menus that I was used to seeing in most other parts of the United States, where meat and not seafood is mostly served. The Boston restaurants had a larger variety of white wines and light or medium bodied red wines as well as sparklers, than the other areas of the country that do not serve seafood as their main dishes. Even in Florida where we have a lot of seafood, we still also serve a lot of meat and keep the heavier reds as a larger variety on our menus. What a refreshing selection of wines to be paired with Boston’s fresh seafood dishes!

You really didn’t think I was only going to drink beer while in Boston, did you?
Tell me what you would pair with your seafood dishes! I want to hear from you! Give me your thoughts!
Bon Vin!

100 Wine Blogs, 100 Days, Blog 41
Boston Food & Wine Pairing

Blog 41 Boston Food & Wine Pairing The Lenox in Boston, MA has received the award for being one of the top 500 hotels in the world for service, and they deserve it. Free Internet, hot chocolate, bottled water and any service that you want is given to you with a smile. I am hosting a conference and there was some noise outside of our room for a short time. Before I could even complain, they came in to the room with extra beverages and food. They are on top of things here.

I ate dinner at the City Table restaurant in The Lenox hotel during my stay. What else are you supposed to do when there is a rain storm in the city that you are visiting? Not worth going out when you have a great restaurant in your hotel.

I took a small break from having all fish for dinner; however, I did have oysters for the appetizer. I then ordered Blue Cheese Crusted Filet with whipped Yukon potatos, and broccoli rabe and needed a good bottle of wine to go along with it. You know how I love my big Cabernet Sauvignons. I ordered a Cab from the Stag’s Leap District in California. It was estate made and bottled by Steltzner Vineyards and the menu price was $65. Wow, it was awesome!

Tasting Notes:
The wine was a nice rich deep red/garnet color with aromas of smoky French oak, blackberries and dark cherry along with a hint of toffee, vanilla and spice. Smooth mouthfeel, well balanced, soft tannins that open up the cherry and blackberry flavor with the pairing of the steak. Smooth finish with smoky notes of soft spice, vanilla and French oak. It melted in my mouth! No diet today, Crème Brulee for dessert!
Tell me what you would pair your steak with! I want to hear from you! Give me your thoughts!
Bon Vin!

100 Wine Blogs, 100 Days, Blog 42
Blog 42 Tannins

In red wine, the red color comes from the skin of the grapes which is one of the places where tannin is found. Tannins which are plant polyphenols are present in the seeds, stems and skins of grapes and found mostly in red wine. Grape varietals that are white contain a lower concentration of tannin in comparison to grape varietals that are red.

Other food or drink items that contain tannins are: tea, cheese, nuts, coffee beans and some fruit. Tannins taste bitter and leave a dry or puckering feeling in the mouth. The drying effect that tannins leave in the mouth is referred to as astringency. Tannins are also found in red and white wine that has aged in oak barrels especially if the barrels are new such as 100% new French oak barrels.

Tannins are considered an antioxidant and a natural preservative. The tannins in the wine soften while the wine ages. They help the wine improve with age. Tannins provide structure and function to the wine and add to the flavor of the wine. Wines that can age longer in the bottle have more tannins than those that cannot age as long in the bottle. When red wine ages, it reduces the effects of the tannins, softening the flavor of the wine. At least, this is the effect that we are trying to achieve when we age a great red wine for years.

Tell me what you think! I want to hear from you! Give me your thoughts!
Bon Vin!

100 Wine Blogs, 100 Days, Blog 43
What do you like to drink?

Blog 43 What do you like to drink?

Let’s hear from you. Do you like white, rose, red, sparkling, or desert wines? What is your favorite varietal? What is your favorite winery to visit and what do you get to do there? What is your favorite wine?

I like reds the most with Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel being my favorite varietals.

My favorite wineries to visit would have to be Far Niente for food and wine pairing as well as their cars and the grounds that they have surrounding their property, St. Supery for the barrel tastings and their tours and tastings, Hall Rutherford for their crystal chandelier as well as their cave tasting, Laird for their wines and hospitality, Schramsberg for their wine cave tour, Opus One for their unique building and design and great tasting experience, Peju for their gift shop and wine tasting experience, Robert Mondavi Winery for the Mustard Festival Event and wine tasting tour and I am sure there are many more that I just can’t think of at this moment. These are the ones that come to me first. Tell me about your experiences and which places you like to visit most.

My favorite wines are Far Niente Cabernet Sauvignon, Hall Kathryn Hall Cabernet Sauvignon and Jack’s Masterpiece, Opus One Overture, and any Laird wine. These are only a few of the wines that I love. We don’t want to list them all, we may not have room. What is your absolute favorite? My absolute favorite is the Monte Rosso, Louis Martini, Gnarly, Old Vine Zinfandel.

Tell me about yours!

Tell me what you think! I want to hear from you! Give me your thoughts!
Bon Vin!

100 Wine Blogs, 100 Days, Blogg 44
Wine & Tuna Pairing. Just try it.

Blog 44 Wine & Tuna Pairing. Just try it.

Do you always need to pair your expensive wine with a gourmet meal?

I was starving, just back from Boston with nothing in my refrigerator. What do you eat when you have nothing? Better yet, what do you drink? A splitting headache had already started, or shall I say Migraine for those who know what that is like? Do I really have to go to the store or a restaurant? What to do?
I popped my head in the pantry and located some Stoned Wheat Crackers and a can of Starkist White Albacore Tuna. Those who know me don’t be shocked, but I am allergic to everything except wine. Two of the items on my long list that I am allergic to are onions and garlic. I know, I know, I am Spanish and Italian, how do you think I feel? I can’t have ketchup, barbecue sauce, mayonnaise or mustard because, they have onion powder in them. I choose to eat the tuna on the cracker, imagine that…plain tuna on a plain cracker.

I decide to pair my plain tune and crackers with a meritage from Cuvaison winery. I belong to 10 wine clubs from California, I might as well drink a great bottle of red wine with my tuna. I want my food to taste great too. I choose the Two Estates Cuvaison 2005 ATS Selection, a classic red wine representing a blend from the best grapes from the Carneros and Mount Veeder estates.

My tuna actually tasted like real fish! My meal became an event! It was not a cheap meal, by no means, crackers $3.69, tuna, $1.49 and the classic red $54.00 and out of production. Well worth my time and effort. Is that what canned tuna is really supposed to taste like?

Tell me what you think! I want to hear from you! Give me your thoughts!
Bon Vin!

100 Wine Blogs, 100 Days, Blog 45 
Can you drink a glass of wine without a nose?

 Blog 45 Can you drink a glass of wine without a nose?

For some reason, I was not only born with a huge sense of smell, but smells can make me actually sick. When I worked as a nurse, I went on rides with the fire department; I would take bets on what was burning when we went to a fire. Whether it was electrical, carrots on the stove, or paper burning, I would be able to guess it.

With wine, if I can’t smell the wine in the glass, I cannot enjoy the taste of the wine. The nose is part of the enjoyment for me and a soapy or dirty glass drops the enjoyment by about 75%. I even feel that I can guess where some of the wines come from, for instance, sometimes I can tell the Martini from the Cuvaison and which winery a wine may have come from in California. Some of the wineries have distinct smells that come up in their wines. Even though there are different grape varietals, I can smell a distinction between wineries.

I don’t think my nose knows what nasal fatigue really is. I think that if someone is wearing heavy perfume or have a strong odor; it can affect the taste of the wine. A very aromatic food can disguise what the wine tastes like. There might be too many smells surrounding the glass while you are trying to distinguish what scents are in the wine.

I prefer to taste wine in the morning first thing. Even brushing your teeth can affect the smell or the taste of the wine. Eating food and then trying the wine can also change the nose on the wine. When I plan my winery tours, I go to the wineries that I feel are the best in the early morning, if they can fit in the schedule that way. However, it does not stop me from doing a late afternoon tasting in one of my favorite wineries.

Many wines open up after you swirl them for a while or wait for a time to capture a better release of the true aroma of the wine. I like to try to distinguish the more complex aromas as the wine settles into its glass.
If you have trouble distinguishing what aromas you smell in the wine, you can purchase a smell kit. It helps you to train your nose to know what different scents may smell like in a glass of wine.
Tell me what you think! I want to hear from you! Give me your thoughts!
Bon Vin!

100 Wine Blogs, 100 Days Blog 46
Visit Volcano Winery on The Big Island of Hawai’i

 Blog 46 Visit Volcano Winery on The Big Island of Hawai’i

When you think of The Big Island of Hawai’i, what comes to mind? Lush tropical beaches, like turtle beach which is a black sand beach with very old turtles on it, or the southernmost tip of the United States of America where there is a green sand beach, wind turbines and a ridiculous view of the Pacific Ocean. You feel like it is the end of the earth and you reached it. But, do you think about a Volcano Winery?
On your way to the Kilauea volcano in Volcano National Park, you can stop by the Volcano Winery for a free wine tasting 365 days of the year.  In Hawai’i, they do not just use grapes to make their tropical wines. They use tropical fruits like yellow guava and the exotic jaboticaba berry which they blend with traditional grapes to make wines from paradise with fruity notes. The wines they offer are Volcano Red, Volcano Blush and Hawaiian Guava Wine.

For those who want a more traditional wine, they use the Symphony grape which is a white grape and is a cross between Muscat of Alexandria and Grenache Gris. UC Davis of California created this grape varietal which was chosen due to the volcano’s climate and the grapes ability to grow well there. The bouquet of the Symphony grape is peach, apricot, and lychee.
If you really want to try something different and you like dessert wines, you might want to try the Macadamia Nut Honey Wine, made from island blossoms of the Macadamia Nut tree from the island. This one was my favorite and I took some home with me. The 3 Wine Girls are going to give it a try to let you know if it tasted as good off the island as it did on the island. Stay tuned!
Tell me what you think! I want to hear from you! Give me your thoughts!
Bon Vin!

100 Wine Blogs, 100 Days Blog 47
Hop aboard the Napa Valley Wine Train

Blog 47 Hop aboard the Napa Valley Wine Train


Take a journey by train through 25 miles of Napa Valley including the vineyards of Napa, Yountville, Oakville, Rutherford, and St. Helena. You can get to the train station earlier to partake in a pre-boarding wine tasting. There are afternoon and evening rides with and without food service.

The dinner wine train experience is wonderful for those wanting to feel the excitement of being on a train dining in style with china, linen, silver and crystal. The train has vintage-style cars with polished mahogany paneling making your experience feel very authentic. Children are allowed on board for the thrill of the train ride. They can also enjoy the views of the countryside and rows of vineyards.

 You have several choices of experiences from being in a more casual car or dining on the high end of style. You can be in the open air car or experience an indoor car with air conditioning. There are three kitchens onboard with a menu of items to choose from. There is also a tasting room and observation deck. What a great way to share your love of wine.  

Be sure to view the videos of the Napa Valley Wine Train.

Tell me what you think! I want to hear from you! Give me your thoughts!
Bon Vin!

100 Wine Blogs, 100 Days Blog 48
Grape Varietals of Coastal California

Blog 48 Grape Varietals of Coastal California 

While every grape growing region in the entire world will have the primary grape that it is known for, it may not be so true for coastal California. For instance, the Mendoza region in Chili is known for making their best wines from the grape varietal Malbec.

France has strict control on which varietals are grown in which regions and they are bound by laws to control what they can grow and how they can blend their wines. This may be good to some and bad to others. It controls the quality and insures stability from year to year. You know exactly what you are getting and what you are drinking.
California does not put these strict controls on their winemakers. They allow their grape growers free reign on which grapes they would like to grow and how they would like to blend and make their wines. However, they do have labeling laws that govern what can be placed on the label depending upon what is inside the bottle.

California grape growers decided to grow different varietals in different areas of California. For instance, Napa, California’s most widely planted wine grapes are Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. However, with the microclimates discovered throughout the valley, there are other chief varietals of grapes that thrive in Napa which winemakers use to create some of the best wines the region has to offer. Other varietals you will find in the Napa Valley region are: Merlot, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Sangiovese, Sauvignon Blanc, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc, Nebbiolo, Syrah/Shiraz, Petit Syrah, Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris, Voignier, Barbera, Dolcetto and Malbec.

There are many wineries to choose from when visiting Coastal California. The grape varietals listed above are not just limited to the Napa Valley area; you may find these varietals and more throughout Coastal California. Be on the lookout to broaden your palate. You will not get bored and your palate will thank you.

Tell me what you think! I want to hear from you! Give me your thoughts!
Bon Vin!

100 Wine Blogs, 100 Days Blog 49
Grape Varietals of Imagery Estate Winery

Blog 49 Grape Varietals of Imagery Estate Winery
Many grape growers throughout California plant new grape varietals to challenge their passion.  Imagery Estate Winery is a very unique winery found in the Sonoma region. Their wine labels are each a different painting commissioned especially for their bottles. They also have an art museum located in their tasting room that you can view as you taste their artful wines, and of course, a gift shop.They combined creative art with creative winemaking to stand alone in the wine industry in California.

Imagery creates and blends their wines by combining nontraditional grape varietals to create unique selections of wines not made by other winemakers in the area. They have a White Burgundy that I like that is a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Menuier; a light, fruity white with the body of a Chardonnay. A fun blend is the WOW Oui consisting of Sauvignon Blanc with a splash of Muscat.

Imagery also produces single varietals by using some grapes that are almost nonexistent in California or rarely produced as a single varietal. Some of these are: Tempranillo, Mourvedre, Lagrein, Grenache, Cinsault, Cabernet Franc and Muscato di Canelli. These are only some of the single varietals that they offer. Imagery Eastate Winery challenges you to broaden your palate. Stop by for a visit while you are in Sonoma and be sure to visit their other property nearby, Benziger.
Although they might not be picked first to play baseball on the playground, they don’t seem to mind. Imagery Estate Winery will be creating their own game and eventually, everyone will want to be playing on their team. If not, they are content sitting on the bench drinking in their creative art and having fun, while watching the others play hard.

Be on the lookout for their new 2009 White Burgundy. You will be able to hear and watch their label. The label will consist of sheet music from a song composed and performed by Richard Derwingson. They filmed the video of him playing the song on his piano. After 26 years of sitting the bench, Imagery has decided to create their own game. Let’s see who wants to play.

Tell me what you think! I want to hear from you! Give me your thoughts!
Bon Vin!

100 Wine Blogs, 100 Days Blog 50
Hot-Air Balloon Ride in Wine Country

Blog 50 Hot-Air Balloon Ride in Wine Country

I made it to my 50th Wine Blog! I wanted to celebrate by taking you on a flight in a balloon high above the Napa Valley in California’s Wine Country. Napa Valley’s Hot-Air Balloon flight path is the busiest that the world has to offer.

With the Wine Country weather in northern California, flights can take place year round. If the weather does not permit, you can opt to cancel your reservation or to lift off from an alternate location outside of the Napa Valley area where the weather may cooperate.

There are many balloon companies to choose from. Pick the one that you feel comfortable with and that has the options that you desire. Many will offer pick up and drop off from your hotel. Most offer a pre-boarding breakfast and when the flight is finished you will be awarded a certificate, with champagne and a brunch or lunch served to you. The whole experience can last up to five hours.

The flight itself takes one to two hours depending upon the weather conditions, but the experience is priceless. You can take pictures or video while in the air. You may want to dress in layers because the temperature will get hotter in the balloon and you can take off or put on whatever you want while on your flight. The balloons may fit about two to ten people depending on the company that you pick and the packages that they offer.

Float several thousand feet into the sky and enjoy your experience with a spectacular way to view the Napa Valley vineyards.

Let’s celebrate! 50 Wine Blogs! Wish me luck on getting through the next 50 blogs!

Tell me what you think! I want to hear from you! Give me your thoughts!
Bon Vin!

Veronica Castellana