Wine and Good Food is on Vacation…

I am calling it a vacation because that is what my grandmother would have wanted me to call it.  She passed away over the weekend at the age of 88 and Brandon and I are heading back to the East Coast to celebrate her life with the rest of our family.

My grandmother taught me more about life than I can put into words and also ignited my love for food.  She came from a very large Italian family and began cooking with her mother at a young age.  Some of my first memories of her include her and my grandfather cooking course upon course for family dinners at a table which seemed a mile long.  She made many Italian dishes, including delicious pasta and marinara sauce from scratch, pizzelles, and Italian Wedding Soup.  She also kept the Italian tradition of “The Feast of the Seven Fishes” (Festa Dei Sette Pesci)  every Christmas.  I could go on and on about the fantastic meals she cooked and the memories surrounding them.

I will miss the Matriarch of our family terribly but I will strive to keep her memory alive through her recipes and stories.  Cheers Nunna…I only hope to live a life as full as yours!


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Wine and Food Pairing – Sparkling Wine and Crab Cakes

I became enamored with a new crab cake recipe I stumbled across and just had the chance to make them.  They were absolutely delicious.  Fresh crab meat, lemongrass, cilantro, and an array of other beautiful ingredients won me over.  When enjoying crab cakes, I generally reach for a bottle of sparkling wine.  I find it really pairs well with the texture and taste of the crab cakes.

Crab cakes anyone?  Try Domaine Brazilier Methode Traditionelle Brut.
Crab cakes anyone? Try Domaine Brazilier
Traditionelle Brut.

Look for a wine that has plenty of acid and notes of citrus.  I paired Domaine Brazilier Methode Traditionelle Brut with the crab cakes.  This blend of 50% Chenin and 50% Pineau d’Aunis from Loire Valley is a nice match (if you are in the LA area, you can pick it up at Domaine LA for around $15).  You could also reach for a dry Riesling but I definitely prefer bubbles if the crab cakes are fried.

Hope you guys can enjoy this pairing soon as it is a great combination!

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Domaine Laporte Le Bouquet 2010 Cabernet Franc

Cabernet Franc…a beautiful, expressive grape that I love to explore…especially in the summer months.  I enjoy grabbing bottles from Loire Valley because they often offer a great QPR.  Last week, I picked up a bottle from Domaine Laporte and it definitely did not disappoint!

Domaine Laporte Le Bouquet 2010 Cabernet Franc
Domaine Laporte Le Bouquet 2010 Cabernet Franc

Tasting Notes

This Cab Franc opens with aromas of red berries and hints of earth and spice.  The palate is light with nice acidity and delicate, red fruit.  There are elegant tastes of cherry, cranberry, and strawberry with a bit of black pepper and earthiness.  Straightforward and delicious! ($14, 12.5%)

My Wine Rating – B+

Food Pairing Suggestions – Pair with lamb, quail, or a burger topped with mushrooms.

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Food and Wine Pairing – Summer Corn Salad and Chardonnay!

During the summer, we grill out a lot and I love making light, seasonal dishes to accompany our meal.  One dish I often prepare is a summer corn salad with garden fresh tomatoes and basil (and sometimes I even throw in a little lobster :)).   Now, I am not one to regularly sip Chardonnay but, after sampling a couple of bottles over the last week, I remembered how delicious this pairing can be!

Wente Morning Fog Chardonnay is an excellent pairing with corn!
Wente Morning Fog Chardonnay is an excellent pairing with corn!

Look for a Chardonnay that hasn’t been overly oaked but that does have hints of butter.  One of the bottles I recently uncorked would be an excellent match.  Wente 2012 Morning Fog Chardonnay has notes of citrus, green apples, and butter with a nice balance of acidity ($15).  Delicious with a summer corn salad or even just simple corn on the cob!

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#WITS2013 Wrap Up!

Last night, I had the chance to participate in a live Twitter tasting taking place around the Wine Industry Technology Symposium held in Napa Valley.  We (meaning a massive group of wine lovers across the country!) had the chance to taste three California wines from Wente, Garnet Vineyards, and Renwood Winery.  Check out my tasting notes below!

#WITS2013 Lineup!
#WITS2013 Lineup!

Wente 2012 Morning Fog Chardonnay

Green apples, hints of citrus, and noticeable acidity…traditional style of Chardonnay (minus the mega-oak) with a nice QPR! ($15, 13.5% alcohol)

Garnet Vineyards 2011 Pinot Noir Monterey County

Lots of cherry, smoke, and spice…definitely easy to sip.  Hard to find many California Pinots this tasty for under $20!  ($15, 13.5% alcohol)

Renwood Winery 2010 Premier Old Vine Zinfandel Amador County

BIG wine (15.5% alcohol) with loads of ripe black fruit and pepper.  Begs for ribs or a steak! ($20)

*Media Samples

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10 Great Wine Quotes

I wanted to share a few of my favorite wine quotes for your weekend reading pleasure.  Hope you enjoy!

Wine Pic

“Wine improves with age. The older I get, the better I like it.” Anonymous

“In wine there is wisdom, in beer there is freedom, in water there is bacteria.” Benjamin Franklin

“Wine is constant proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” Benjamin Franklin

“In victory, you deserve Champagne. In defeat you need it.” Napoleon Bonaparte

“A bottle of wine begs to be shared; I have never met a miserly wine lover.” Clifton Fadiman

“Life is too short to drink bad wine.” Anonymous

“Age is just a number. It’s totally irrelevant unless, of course, you happen to be a bottle of wine.” Joan Collins

“If food is the body of good living, wine is its soul.” Clifton Fadiman

“I love everything that’s old, old friends, old times, old manners, old books, old wine.” Oliver Goldsmith

“I cook with wine, sometimes I even add it to the food.”  W.C. Fields

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Weekend Wine and Food Pairing – Hot Dogs and Rosé

The summer heat brings on a whole new wave of wine and food pairings.  Every year it seems that my friends ask me if there is a wine they can pair with hot dogs at their weekend BBQs.  They seem perplexed and often rather reach for a beer.  While some beers are always great pairings with hot dogs, I think that Rosé is an excellent wine pairing.

Tablas Creek 2012 Patelin de Tablas Rosé
Tablas Creek 2012 Patelin de Tablas Rosé

Look for a light-bodied Rosé that has soft fruit flavors, healthy acidity, and perhaps a hint of white pepper.  One wine I suggest is Tablas Creek’s 2012 Patelin de Tablas Rosé.  With ripe, red fruit, hints of citrus, spice, and noticeable acidity, this wine is a great complement to a hot dog (or sausage).  ($20, 14% alcohol)

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A Lovely Summer Wine – 3CV 2012 Estate Sauvignon Blanc

One of my favorite parts of summer has quickly become the “Concerts in the Park” in Dana Point.  The weather is almost always perfect as a great band takes the stage with the ocean glistening in the background.  Every Sunday, we head out with a group of friends and some great wine and cheese to enjoy the show.  This past weekend I brought along a bottle of 3CV’s newest Estate Sauvignon Blanc.  It turned out to be a great wine for a warm, summer afternoon!

3CV 2012 Estate Sauvignon Blanc
3CV 2012 Estate Sauvignon Blanc

Tasting Notes

This refreshing Sauvignon Blanc opens up with aromas of lemon and lime.  The palate has a bit of a rich mouth feel showing flavors of pear and sweet melon with hints of citrus and stone fruit.  There is also a nice dose of acidity that elevates the palate.  A lovely wine for a summer day! (13.1% alcohol, $18)

My Wine Rating – B+

Food Pairing Suggestions – Pair with grilled mahi mahi topped with mango salsa, fish tacos, or sip as an aperitif.

*Media Sample

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Weekend Wine and Food Pairing – Riesling and Fish Tacos!

Last week, I was enjoying some Riesling samples from Alsace when I came across a fantastic pairing…fish tacos.  As I ate a taco filled with ahi, avocado, and pico de gallo, I realized that Riesling really made the flavors in the tacos come alive.

Domaine Ostertag Riesling Vignoble d’E

When picking a bottle, definitely look for a dry Riesling with a citrus packed palate and a nice kick of acidity.  My favorite Riesling with the tacos from the evening’s lineup was Domaine Ostertag Riesling Vignoble d’E 2011.  Full of citrus and peach with a lovely lift from the acidity makes it an awesome combination with fish tacos.  Hope you have a chance to enjoy this wine and food pairing over the weekend!

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Michele Chiarlo 2010 “Le Orme” Barbera d’Asti Superiore

Looking for a lighter bodied, casual wine for summer grilling?  Michele Chiarlo 2010 “Le Orme” Barbera d’Asti Superiore is a great bottle to bring to any BBQ.  100% Barbera that has enough character to shine at $12 a bottle.

Michele Chiarlo 2010 "Le Orme" Barbera d'Asti Superiore
Michele Chiarlo 2010 “Le Orme” Barbera d’Asti Superiore

Tasting Notes

This ruby colored wine opens with aromas of bright cherries and ripe, dark berries.  The palate offers straightforward tastes of ripe cherries, anise, and noticeable minerality.  An easy sipping Barbera that drinks nicely at its price point! (13.5% alcohol)

My Wine Rating – B

Food Pairing Suggestions – Pair with grilled chicken, pizza topped with mushrooms, or pork chops.

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