16 Oct 2011
On one Sunday afternoon while scouting wineries in the Temecula Wine Country, I found myself in an unlikely place–in a bathtub on a mountain top with a bottle of “Old Gus”. Shadow Mountain Winery is located about a half an hour drive outside the continuously growing Temecula Valley Wineries, but it’s worth the stop for its beautiful location and quality, affordable wines. Nestled at 3200 feet , the winery is located on a coastal mountain range in San Diego county.
10 Oct 2011
I like to throw serious wine drinkers off with unlikely arguments. For example, on a recent trip to a wine boutique for a French Rhone tasting, I was asked if I liked the traditonal corks versus screw top bottles, to which I responded, Neither, I prefer free range corks, because i like my corks to go wherever they please. It just wasn’t what I said, but the expression I gave when the wine clerk recommended a screw top red wine to my friend to take. Imagine a stinky, what the hell are you talking about face and that was me. I may have blurted out, Are you kidding me? To which end, the clerk went on to say how it’s been scientifcally proven that screw top corks are the way to go over the traditional corks which are bleached, can leak air into the bottle, and create a corked (rotten) bottle.
So, the debate goes on to what type of cork is best? The clerk’s pitch started to sink in with me. What if all this time I thought I had it great with a traditonal cork and now my wine and my tendonitis could be solved with a screw top! I’ve tried several screw top wines and there is just something missing. Maybe that POP of the cork is nostalgic for me, but I’ll risk a corked bottle any day over the scratch scratch of a twist top.
28 Sep 2011
Wine does not have to be an extrodinary out of the way journey. It can be as simple as getting in your car and driving to the local grocery store. Let’s face it, on a weekly basis the average wine drinker doesn’t spend more than $10 on a bottle of wine. We call this “house wine” for a reason. House wine is like that old comfortable chair in the corner of your living room. It’s comfy and it’s home.
Recently, I took a trip to Trader Joes and spent half an hour explaining to this very nice wine staff person that I was looking for a Sicilian white wine I had bought there about a month ago. The wine was called Isola D’Oro and it was a fragrant white wine, which flavors I recalled so intensely. I remembered that the wine was about $9. He assured me that they did not carrry this wine and when I insisted I found it there, he called his manager over to assist me. I recounted the story to him and I told him that a very large yellow and black bird was on the label. He laughed and said, “Miss, we don’t carry any bottles with birds on them.” And he was right, I had the wrong store! It was another small market down the road called Bianchini’s. At that moment, I felt like a complete idiot. I was ranting on about this Sicilian white with a bird on it with so much excitement and here I was at the wrong store. But, the staff person made another suggestion for a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc from Australia from a winery called Picton Bay. The wine he described as full of citrus and crisp flavors of apple and pear.
This experience reminded me of two things. One, that drinking too much wine makes you forget. It’s best to write down where you find good wine. And two, that your local grocery store is filled with great wine with knowledgeable people that are as willing to help as much a sommelier at a sophisticated restaurant.
If you are looking to explore the local grocery store wine aisle and not sure where to start, I suggest first that you try Trader Joes, because my experience is that their staff are always available to offer suggestions and they operate a little differently than the larger supermarket chains. That is not to stay that Albertson’s, Safeway, Lucky’s or other markets will not be good to try and offer less of a bargain.
When looking for a wine, often times people forget to read the back of the label. This is the easiest way to get a sense of what the flavors of the wine are, if it’s a heavy or light wine, and what it will pair best with. Finally, the best way to get to know a wine is to open it and try it. Be a little adventurous and try wines from other countries in the market aisle. New World Wines have come a long way and they are comparable to some of California’s best.
My wine find:
2007 Corbera Isola D’Oro $8.99 . Bianchini’s market or online.
Other Great Picks (Safeway, Trader Joes and other major grocery stores)
Chateau St. Jean Chardonnay
Peachy Canyon Zinfandel
Alexander Valley Vineyards Temptation Zin
Trader Joes Reserve Syrah
J. Lohr Cabernet Sauvignon
19 Jul 2011
My mom is an amazing chef and artist. When my sister Elisabeth was pregnant with her first baby, my mom hand carved a watermelon into a baby carriage for the shower. The thing was enormous and decorated with skewers of fruit—enough to regulate an army of troops.
So then you can imagine my fear of what she would think of my own cooking and presentation skills when my dad informed her that I had a food and wine blog. I received an email from my father that went something like this:
There seems to be a mascot for every winery I hit these days. There is the typical winery cat that lounges around outside the tasting room and adminently avoids the buzzed patrons that try to pet the “kitty kitty”. Then, there is the vineyard dog that usually is, more often than not, happy to greet guests and looks as confident running through the vines as the winemaker himself.
At Eberle Winery, a bronze boar greets each guests with the promise of luck if you drop a coin into the Eberle or “small boar” fountain. As my boyfriend Joe and I walked in, we made sure to plop a quarter into the fountain and say hello to this bronze beast. But as we soon discovered, Eberle Winery certainly does not need the luck of the boar to appease its vistors. The vast selection and quality of wine here alone is worthy of a stop.
As we entered the Redwood building housing the tasting room, I was glad to find a casual tasting room counter and pleasantly surprised to find a complimentary tasting that allowed six tastings from a list of 15 different wines! My experience has been that in most cases a winery not specializing in a few varietals usually means that most will not be great. This was not the case with Eberle Winery. Almost all their wines had something complex or flavorful to enjoy.
2007 was a standout and some of my favorites were the 2007 Sangiovese, 2007 Zinfandel, 2007 Syrah Steinbeck Vineyard and the 2007 Vineyard Selection Cabernet Sauvignon. The Sangiovese surprised with a full bodied burst of spice, cherry, raspberry, and licorice. The Zinfandel was earthy with rich color and ripe blackberry flavor. The Vineyard Cabernet was another winner, with wild berry flavors and a good tannic finish. The Vineyard Cabernet is a great pick if you have the time to age it a bit. At $19 a bottle it is a real deal! The Syrah had a rich bouquet of blueberry, cherry, oak, vanilla, and pepper. Another great one for aging. Before leaving, the wine room respresentative spoiled us by pouring a reserve 2003 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon that would have been a sin to not drink to the last drop.
With the exception of the 2003 Cabernet at $75 a bottle, all of the wines we tasted were $25 or less. This is less than you’d expect to pay in other regions like Napa or Sonoma. Look for Eberle wines at your local wine shop or some select grocery stores. We were told often times they carry them.
Eberle Winery is open to the public from September-March from 10a.m.-5p.m. and 10a.m.-6:00p.m. April-August. There is a scenic deck overlooking the Estate Vineyard. Private tours of the winery and wine caves by appointment.
Happy Wine Trekking!
28 Jun 2011
Do you remember those 101 classes you foolishly thought were going to be an easy A, but you still had to study and attend class? Well, here’s a way to ace cheese pairings and you don’t even have to go to class.