October 10, 2008 by


Summer Wine & Italian Comfort Food

June 15, 2010 by

Courtesy Cork’d.com & Nathan Scherotter

With summer here, we always talk about what wines to pair with this hot season of the year. And while light, fun, crisp whites and easy-drinking fruity reds are normally the go-to during these next few months, at some point you have to sit down and switch it up a little. A long day out in the sun makes for a hungry, thirsty individual that just needs some gastronomic pleasure. Enter Italian comfort food – more specifically pasta!

Now we can go many different directions with this versatile grain. We can mix it with red sauce, meat sauce, and white sauce; with chicken, sausage, or various vegetables and oils. Pasta is filling, and when you want to lay back, relax, and replenish your system with carbs, it presents some awesome wine pairing options.

Below are some familiar Italian dishes along with the perfectly paired wine pick. Let the summer breeze blow and the good wine flow.

  • Scene One (not pasta but a great way to get ready for some):
  • The dish: An appetizer of prosciutto and melon
  • Ingredients: unadulterated! Cured ham and ripe summer melon
  • The wine: Here is a really fun and light appetizer that brings together sweet and salty, all wrapped into a delicious way to wet your palate. Like any good meal should start, some sort of bubbly will be in order. The Italian Brachetto d’acqui is one of my favorite ways to kick off a meal; awesomely delicious and a touch of sweetness. Good acidity and low alcohol here will go perfectly with the melon and most certainly will hold up to the procuitto. If you have any leftover after your first course (which is doubtful) it makes for a great after dinner drink too… [Read the rest at Cork’d]

Solid Advice to Follow for Planning Your Next Meal!

May 14, 2010 by

With kind thanks to author – Jon Troutman

I was recently out to eat at a restaurant in downtown New York City that inspired this piece. While the name of the establishment will remain nameless, I’ve noticed this particular restaurant’s downfall becoming a trend, sweeping across both Manhattan and the nation as a whole.

The issue that I’ve experienced is with the pricing and quality of wine lists that are completely out of line with the pricing and offerings from a kitchen. The following description of incongruity between food and wine is not unique to restaurants. This same principal should be applied when preparing a meal at home…

My friend and I showed up for dinner decked out in our finest jeans, t-shirts and sneakers. A casual spot, we were led to our table by an unkempt, disheveled looking teenager and presented menus and a wine list. For food, we had an assortment of gourmet dishes to choose from, including a “chicken cutlet sandwich” and a “cheeseburger with sweet fries”. Nope, these were not kids menus.

After a quick dinner menu perusal, I flipped open the wine list. With over 150 wines by the bottle and 20 wines by the glass, there was a major French influence to the list. The least expensive by the glass pour was a Loire Valley Saumur – priced at $11 per glass. By the bottle there were verticals of Dom Perignon and Opus One. Suddenly I asked myself, “should I be wearing a collared shirt?”

You wouldn’t serve Beluga Caviar with Lay’s potato chips for scooping, would you?

For that very same reason, you shouldn’t serve a bottle of 1990 Dom Perignon alongside Popcorn. The two may complement each other. In fact, the two might even enhance one another. Like your Uncle Charlie who always seems to have a gas-attack when company is around; it’s funny, it might even work in the right situation, but it’s just plain inappropriate… read the rest on Cork’d

Spring Cheeses From Southwest France

May 3, 2010 by

By Rob Lawler — Denver Truffle

“Reprinted from Indulge in Denver magazine, April 2010 issue”

France’s Southwest is a virtual Disneyland of incredible foods.  One of our favorites at the Truffle Cheese Shop is their tangy goat’s milk cheeses.  They produce a cornucopia of different sizes, shapes and colors; we think it’s best to enjoy them all! 

Similar to produce, cheese has a distinct season.    The early spring is when young, fresh cheeses like these just staring to really shine.  We think this time of year is a perfect  time to explore the gastronomy of this corner of the world.

Goats were brought to this part of France by the Saracens of North Africa in the middle of the last millennia.  Over hundreds of years the cheese making techniques they brought have been refined and improved.   Goats thrive on the verdant plants that grow well in the Loire Valley’s limestone soil, and aging caves dug into the rock stay humid and well ventilated, which is perfect for ripening cheese.  Each town in this part of France has its own particular variety of cheese with a very specific form and flavor, most of which have evolved alongside their local wine.  

Valençay (vah-lohn-SAY)  Local legend links the unusual shape of this cheese to the visit by Emperor Napoleon to the Chateau Valençay shortly after his retreat from Egypt.  The story says that a banquet table held a display of pyramid shaped goat cheeses, which Napoleon attacked with his saber.  In one swift blow, he neatly sliced the tops off of the cheeses and created the shape which has defined this cheese ever since.    The rind of this cheese is dusted in ashes soon after being formed.  This dusting and the subsequent molding that appears as this cheese ages may make it appear intimidating, but the taste is quite lovely.   If you can track down a sparking Vouvray, that would be a great match or another sparking white wine would be nice also. 

Buche de Poitou (boo-SH day pwah-TOO) Bloomy rinds are more familiar when they are seen on a Brie or Camembert.  This one is made with goat’s milk and in a different shape.  The log shape of this cheese from Poitou-Charentes is very attractive when used as a part of a cheese board.  The flavor of the cheese is fairly mild when it is young and it intensifies as it ages.  The tangy creamy nature of this cheese balances great with a whole grain cracker or bread.  Enjoy it with any of the Sauvignon Blanc based wines from the Loire Valley, like a Sancerre or Pouilly-Fume)

Cabecou Feuille ( kah-bay-coo FAIEY)  This little cheese is a whole lot of flavor wrapped in a small package.  When the cheese is just formed and still warm, it is sprinkled with cracked pepper then carefully wrapped in a chestnut leaf which has been softened in a plum brandy.  These little buttons are only an ounce each, but they are so flavorful they need a wine with a little bit of tannins.  A rose from the area surrounding Bergerac would be a lovely match.

Tome de Chevre (TOHM day shev-RUH)   This goat cheese is a little more aged and so may be enjoyed later into the fall than many of the younger ones.  The shape of this cheese lends itself to a longer aging. It is about a five pound round, where most of these others are only few ounces.  As this cheese ages, it becomes drier and more crumbly in texture and it gains more of a rich and stronger flavor.  This stronger cheese can hold up to a stronger wine, like a red from the Langudoc.

Tome d’Acquitaine (TOME duh ah-qwah-TANE) The Acquitaine region of France, which surrounds the cities of Bordeaux and Sauternes is home to this cheese.  Though both towns are famous for their wines, the Sauternes is the one used in making this cheese.  It’s a sweet wine, that when washed on the outside of the cheese, gives it a subtle honey flavor.   This cheese is a lovely pale white color from the goat’s milk and its flavor is floral and wonderfully complex.  A wine from the Sauternes would really make this cheese shine.

For more information on Denver’s Truffle Cheese Shop:

Phone: 303.322.7363

Fax: 303.316.7529


The Truffle Cheese Shop

2906 East 6th Avenue

Denver, CO 80202

Wine Vault TV With Special Guest Gary Vaynerchuk

April 19, 2010 by

If you slow down and listen to this conversation you will hear two wine commentators share personal thoughts that will help expand both your wine journey and wine pleasure. 

Wines Have a Range of Flavors

Sauvignon Blanc by its very nature will range from  intense zippy flavors to a more subtle and balanced profile. Listen to Gary and you will learn he likes knife-edge acidity and wines that lean almost to an out of balance profile. Jayson on the other hand prefers an elegant and restrained style.This can be because of the number of bottles produced, yields in the vineyard, extended lees contact, some with barrel fermentation or even blending semillon into the finished wine.  Whatever the reason, this leads to the next interesting idea.     

Find a Good Wine Retailer

This one is simple.

  • A good wine retailer will take the time to get to know you
  • Follow up about prior purchases 
  • Will steer you toward wines you will like
  • Every store will have a geek, find them
  • Get to know them on a first name basis
  • It will be a good thing


Ratings reflect a moment in time and do not reflect the context or setting in which wines are enjoyed. While both Gary and Jayson liked the St Clair Sauvignon Blanc it was more suited to Jayson’s style. 

The critical wine reviewers will tell you they are critical wine reviewers because they are independent judges and have neutral opinions. All wines have a style or personality about them and reviewers will naturally connect more with certain styles. High scores, medals, rave reviews are only relevant if you truly know the wine preferences of the critic and how they compare to yours.  

  • Be brave make the effort to learn what you like!

The only opinion that counts is yours.

  • Trust Your Own Palate

This phrase is repeated throughout the conversation. There is a reason for this – it is your money – your wine decision – your dinner with friends.   


In the early days of the New Zealand wine story, wines were described to be “New Zealand wines”. This is now changing and we are learning the distinct differences between:   

  • Central Otago
  • Martinborough
  • Marlborough
  • Waipara
  • Waiheke Island
  • Northland
  • Hawkes Bay
  • Canterbury
  • Nelson
  • Gisborne

These regions even have sub regions within the regions. This is another good reason to get to know your wine retailer or sommelier.  Both Jayson and Gary know their path to success is directly tied to your wine satisfaction. I am confident both are good sources to expand your wine experiences.    

Enjoy this conversation between two wine people who care about you. 

Vodpod videos no longer available.


Salavare Estate in New Zealand Starts Slow Wine Movement

April 13, 2010 by

I like this movement. It has the potential to do great things for people all around the world. Great things will happen when people slow down – I suspect research would show one of the dimensions of greatness is the ability to go slow – even when things are spinning out of control.

We all need to take a moment and feel what Steve Nathan from Salavare Estate in Hawkes Bay New Zealand is suggesting. Below are his comments from his web site and Facebook pages. While he specifically, suggests slowing down and enjoying all things Hawkes Bay – which we should do  – we can  adjust his suggestions and go exploring the fun regions around the world that produce food, wine and travel with sense of spirit and bring that spirit to our daily routine.

Thanks Steve!

Being small and relatively new to the wine industry has not stopped Steve and Bev Nathan of Hawkes Bay winery Salvare Estate trying to promote an idea they think will benefit both wine lovers and smaller “boutique” wine producers in New Zealand.

Since opening their tasting room at Bridge Pa twelve months ago they have been promoting a “Slow Down” theme through their Salvare label, which includes range of local Hawkes Bay wines and a number of food lines such as Olive Oils.

“At Salvare we believe in a slower pace of life, in taking time to enjoy the journey” said Steve ” We believe the same of wine, that it should be enjoyed, not consumed. Whether it be with friends or family, good wine, like good food creates lasting memories of shared experiences”

In addition to taking things more slowly, one of the key tenants of the various “Slow” movements, including Slow Food, is that we should “buy local and eat local”. That we should know where our food comes from including, where we can, the people who grow or make it. The Nathans believe we should add “drink local” to this mantra.

“We believe one of the best ways for the New Zealand wine industry to stay viable in the current climate is if more people drink locally produced New Zealand wine. Where possible from a small winery near them or where they have actually visited the winery or vineyard and met the people involved, rather than from some large, faceless corporate producer” said Nathan. “It takes times to do this, which is the whole point and if more people drank handcrafted wines from small producers they would also have a much more diverse wine experience”

For the Nathans the best part of being in the wine business is the fact that they get to meet the people who purchase their wines as they visit their cellar door on Ngatarawa Road. “We take time to talk them about how the grapes are grown, how the wine is made and about our “Slow Down” philosophy which people really appreciate. In fact lots of them like it so much they purchase one of our “Slow Down and enjoy the journey T-shirts”

So next time you’re thinking about stocking up your wine cellar why not join the Slow Wine Movement and head out to one of the small wineries near you like Salvare and “Drink local, buy local”

“At Salvare we… (read more)Mission:To get the world to Slow Down and enjoy the journeyProducts:

Salvare Wines

Hawkes Bay Viognier

Hawkes Bay Chardonnay

Hawkes Bay Rose

Hawkes Bay Merlot

Hawkes Bay Syrah

Olive Oil


Chardonnay Mustard

Manuka Honey and Chardonnay Mustard Vinaigrette

Winerax Modular Wine Cellar System

ColoradoWino.com: A website for locapours

January 5, 2010 by

The joy of wine is really the joy of seeking and discovering wines from new people and places. Too often we circle the same path seeking new discoveries. Those looking to enjoy the pleasures of new places and people will be delighted to visit the many options now found in Wine Country Colorado.

Here is an excerpt from a website dedicated to Colorado wines.

“Just two decades ago, the Colorado wine industry was in ruins with instate wine makers being counted on one hand. Today, the Centennial State has more than 70 vineyards and wineries covering all corners of Colorado. And quality has grown up just as quickly.”

To visit the web site please click here.

Wine Quotes That Need To Live Forever

December 15, 2009 by

Below are some Twitter exchanges that took place today and are without doubt, to choice to allow to evaporate.  

Go Randall!   

Randall Graham:  

Scary thought #1: Currently have 319,685 “followers,” wa-ay more than most founders of major religions (at the time). 

Ron McFarland:

@RandallGrahm balance and elegance are worthy traits to follow.

Randall Graham:

@RonMcFarland Hard to imagine “Balance!” and “Appropriateness!” as major tenets of the faith, but will build church on this rock and gravel.

Rémy Charest:

@RandallGrahm For a full comparison with religions, you have to see what you're able to make the followers do… 

Randall Graham:

@RemyCharest My first miracle would be to accelerate the depletion rate of our Central Coast Syrah, a category largely believed to be dooned. 

Able Grape:

@RandallGrahmTonneliers (bbl. makers) kick butt. (Forgive obscure pun, but a butt is a size of barrel, also known as a pipe in Portugal.)

Randall Graham:

@ablegrape Taste and do what thou willst (not woodst). Definitely going to get nailed on that one.)

Michael Skurnik Wines:

@RandallGrahm That is impressive. Must have something to do with all of those GREAT wines that you make! How do we get a similar following?

Randall Graham:

@SkurnikWines One must be Beaune under a good scion.

Good News For Australian Wine Fans

December 4, 2009 by

Lately there has been no shortage of doom and gloom on what is happening in the Australian wine world. If the press is correct, the industry has nowhere to go but up.

Eagle Vale

One reason I predict this is people like Steve Jacobs at Eagle Vale Wines. I met Steve earlier in the year and had the joy to taste several of the wines produced in the Margaret River in Western Australia.

What the wine-press rarely mentions is the fact that Australia is full of people like Steve, who own small properties and make delicious wines. Wines that reflect the combination of terrior and people who make them.

The  Gallienne family, Guy, Chantal and son Karl from the Loire Valley are Steve’s team that manages the vineyards and all winemaking functions. This gives Eagle Vale wines an old world perspective with fruit from a new world wine region.

Stunning fruit with balanced acidity make versatile food wines.  Wines that make you want to have a second glass. I find this is an interesting test, do guests want to have a second glass. Two labels and multiple grape varieties are available for you to seek out and share.

This is the good news, the bad is finding Eagle Vale wines and other hidden gems from around the world is challenging. The best way to find Steve’s wines is to email the winery and explore what is possible for you.

Good things happen to people who go wine exploring!! Enjoy.

Global Wine Glossary

November 23, 2009 by

Ever wonder what a wine word means? Here is very concise glossary of wine words from by Barbara Ensurd. I found this via Iris Rutz-Rudel from Domaine Lisson’s website. Lisson is a small wine-producing estate in the Jaur Valley, close to Olargues and one example of many of artisan wine producers from around the world worth seeking out.

Origins of No Cookie Cutter Wines

November 17, 2009 by

Over the last few years I have been showing different small production Sauvignon Blancs from New Zealand. Two wines were from different regions in Marlborough, the Golden Mile and the Awatere Valley. Another the Waipara Valley near Canterbury. All have different approaches in the vineyard and winemaking to include blending of Semillion, another high density vineyard planting and yet another the subtle use of barrel fermenting. All are produced in small quantities of less than 3,000 cases.

In New Zealand, wines like this are the minority in terms of total litres produced and the majority in terms of number of producers. About 87% of all New Zealand wine producers make less than 25,000 cases per year. This means the majority of wines found outside of New Zealand are from the bigger players, this makes sense.

Here is an exchange that took place in London that highlights why much of New Zealand’s wine never leaves the country.

“I also met 2 charming Antipodeans from New Zealand who were working in Bristol to whom I apologised beforehand about part of my talk re the additives in cheap New Zealand wines.”

Their reply was “Please don’t apologise. It’s a well known fact back at home that the cheaper wines are produced for the masses and the locals won’t buy it – so we send it over to you!”  You can read the full article here.

For this reason, it was not uncommon to hear  the phrase “No Cookie Cutter Wines”  because most people had and still have not been exposed to this side of New Zealand wine. So I filed the comment away for future use. At the same time there were many comments about wines from many places all starting to taste the same and it made sense to use the comment for a greater purpose.

Here are few writers who have used the phrase Cookie Cutter Wines to describe this category of wine. Alice Feiring, Frank Prial, Howard Goldberg, Eric Asimov, a web search will find more.

Today, we have a simple site with some guest commentary about wine. The site is open to those who have a story to share. With today’s changing flow of wine information, this is one more place to both contribute and find new and delicious wines. We will also develop the regional themes in the image below.

Include Your Story