Sangria, Spain’s famous spiked fruit punch, is summer’s go-to libation. This easy drinking party in a pitcher has come a long way since its humble beginnings. Centuries ago, Spaniards mixed red wine with fruit and spices as a safer alternative to often contaminated water.
Fast forward to New York’s 1964 World’s Fair, when the slightly sweet fruity red punch (its name is derived from sangre, the Spanish word for blood) made its official American debut at the Spanish Pavilion. Since then, sangria has evolved beyond the traditional red wine, fruit, brandy, sugar and orange juice recipe to white, rosé and sparkling wine versions.
Sometimes I like to have friends try a wine without telling them where it is from (fortunately they don’t inspect labels too closely). I was curious what some of my Napa Cabernet loving friends would think of Michael David’s 2015 Rapture Cabernet Sauvignon. This Lodi winery is better known for its whimsical label designs and series — such as the circus-themed Freak Show, 7 Deadly Zins or Earthquake – rather than for serious cab. Until now.
Chardonnay lovers and non-Chard drinkers unite! I’ve found a California Chardonnay that both palates can agree upon. I recently served Chamisal Vineyard’s estate-grown 2015 Edna Valley Chardonnay ($35) at on pizza night at a friend’s house, and it was a hit, with both the Margarita and sauceless pie with peppery arugula and red onion.
Eighteen judges swirled, sniffed, sip and spit 708 wines to find the best of the best in the 2018 Central Coast Wine Competition. The judges have spoken, and Alara Cellars 2017 Grenache Blanc from California’s Santa Clara Valley took Best of Show top honors, along with Best in Class in the Grenache Blanc category and overall Best White Wine.
Recently I was in Amador County, one of the wine growing regions in California’s Sierra Foothills. I’ve heard good things about the wines from Borjón Winery, and finally, I had an opportunity to check it out.
Perhaps you’ve heard of, or have even tried, the wines from Sarah’s Vineyard, a boutique winery in California’s Santa Clara Valley. If not, you are missing out IMHO. These wines, made in Silicon Valley – once referred to as the Valley of the Heart’s Delight because of the many fruit orchards and vineyards, and the birthplace of California’s commercial wine industry – are totally worth seeking out.
Ever since multiple wildfires raged through bucolic wine country and neighborhoods in Sonoma County and Napa Valley, one message is clear. The region is resilient, rebuilding and open for business. Some of that business — namely tourism, through hotels, restaurants, and wineries — was very slow to come back in the weeks and months afterwards. January and February are traditionally slow and quiet months, but now that spring is in the air, folks are finding their way back to all that wine country has to offer.
Fresh and invigorating, slightly sweet or honied, but always perfumey, Chenin Blanc is one of the world’s most versatile wines.
I’ve always been partial to this grape that calls France’s Loire Valley its spiritual home. Thanks to a tasting hosted by Val de Loire Millesime at the impressive Chateau Royal in Blois, France, overlooking the Loire River, I’ve discovered many ways to love Chenin Blanc.