sparkling wine

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Breaking the Taboo of Wine and Perfume

For eons, perfume has been banned from any place where wine is being tasted, consumed, enjoyed.  As a wine professional, it is taboo for me to wear perfume to a trade tasting, a wine dinner or other wine related event.  The same goes for people working in the wine industry, whether they are working in the winery as a cellar rat, enologist, winemaker or pouring at the tasting bar.  Wine and perfume together…not allowed!  Forbidden. Until now. I’ve been on a mission to break the taboo of wine and perfume together.  As a Certified Sommelier, I love to pair wine with perfume.  Both are aromatic experiences.  In fact, without your sense of smell, wine (or any food or beverage) would not be as enjoyable, because your sense of taste really comes from your sense of smell.  The tongue can’t distinguish floral from spicy, but your nose can. And, it’s that ability…

Six Sparklers for $15 or Less To Pop On New Year’s Eve

What’s New Year’s Eve without popping the cork on a bottle of bubbly?  Gotta have that “pop” to make it official, right?  But those bubbles are getting more and more pricey.  When I decided to do a post on $15 bottles I thought I’d have a lot of choices, especially from the US, and mainly California.  I was so surprised to find that most of the Cali sparkling wine is priced above my $15 limit.  So I had to go the international route, and I don’t mean to Champagne. To find a budget friendly bottle of bubbles made well, you really need to go to Italy and Spain.  But I did manage to find two wineries in the states that offer bubbly for $15 or less.  All selections are NV which means non-vintage, a blend of many vintages.  True vintage sparklers are more expensive, and they aren’t made every year.…

Only Pink Bubbles Will Do For Valentine’s Day

What’s more romantic than Champagne?  Pink Champagne or sparkling wine.  I’ve been pitched all sorts of wines to recommend for Valentine Day celebrations, but most of the wines are still wines.  None of those will do.  For me, it’s bubbles or nothing. And they should be pink. The traditional choice is Champagne, and my go-to wine is the Billecart-Salmon NV Rosé, with its delicate bubbles and salmon pink hue.  This is a brut sparkler, very dry, with a subdued floral and fruity aroma, a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.  At around $75 it is a splurge – but believe it or not, it’s available on I’m a big fan of California sparkling wine, and some of the best bubbly is produced by Domaine Carneros.  This house is in the Carneros region of Napa, which is a fantastic region for growing sparkling wine grapes.  For Valentine’s…

My Top 10 Wine Moments of 2011

As December comes to a close we’re all reflecting back on the year that has been 2011. Although we’re still going through challenging economic times, spirits of the vintners throughout wine country seem to be rising, as sales are slowly picking up. There’s a feeling of hope and optimism that I haven’t seen in a long time. So keeping that positive state of mind, here are my top 10 wine moments of 2011. Read more

10 Wines for Thanksgiving — No Pinot or Chardonnay Allowed

I know when the holidays are nearing because of the massive number of pitches, press releases and (a small amount) of wine start coming in. I’ve been getting these since before Halloween, just like the department stores putting out Christmas decorations super early. Much of the wine is Pinot Noir. I certainly understand that. It’s a safe and expected choice.

Not knocking Pinot here, but I like to introduce my guests to interesting wines. So no Pinot Noir or Chardonnay here, just my top 10 recommendations to try along with the turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie. All the wines, except for a big splurge on a Sauternes from Chateau Coutet (hey, it’s the holidays), sell for $25 and less. Read more

DRINK – Why Is This Bottle of Bubbly Upside Down in Water?

Wine & Spirits magazine throws one heck of a party. The annual “Top 100 Wines” soiree was on Wednesday night in San Francisco. You do not want to miss it. Quite simply, where else are you going to taste a 1988 Veuve Cliquot Champagne, Shafer’s Hillside Select or see a bottle of bubbly opened and disgorged under water.

That’s right. Not just opening the bottle. Disgorging it too (expelling the yeast sediment), all under water, right before you drink it.

DRINK – Pretty in Pink

Spring is now here! The pink wine was flowing at the Pink Out! event in San Francisco. It’s an annual happening celebrating Rose´wines, put on by the Rose´Advocates & Producers (RAP).  It’s a great reason to break out your pink clothes and accessories. Real men do drink and wear pink! And yes, that’s my pink shoe. Rose´ wines are fantastic — dry and crisp and light, perfect for warm weather drinking. Rose´ is made from a variety of grapes, from Pinot Noir to Syrah to Tempranillo. I tasted old and new favorites, so here’s my shout out list. My “go to” Rose´ bottlings: Lucia – a Rose´ of Pinot Noir from the Pisoni family. Zippy with lots of strawberry Blackbird “Arriviste” -A beautiful Rose´ of Merlot Azur Rose´ – I first discovered Julien Fayard’s delicious Rose´ at last year’s Pink Out. It’s as good as ever, a classic southern France-style…

DRINK – What to drink for Hanukkah?

Hanukkah has begun. It’s time for lighting the menora, 8 nights of gifts and best of all latkes and jelly donuts.  But the wine? Manishevitz doesn’t do it. My pick is bubbly. Sparkling wine pairs terrifically with crisp latkes (fried potato cakes) or sufganiyot(fried donuts filled with jelly) which are traditional Hanukkah foods.  Actually bubbles go with ANY fried food and this is a holiday that celebrates oil.  Go ahead, try a glass with French fries or potato chips.  Why sparkling?  The bubbles help cut through the oil and refresh the palate.  Plus sparkling wine is versatile and goes with both sweet and savory dishes, so you only need one wine. Yes, French Champagne is expensive, but the American sparkling wines are more affordable and equally fantastic, if not better in some cases. For every day value you can’t go wrong with Domaine Ste. Michelle, a producer in Washington state.…

DRINK – Where don’t they make wine?

Wine is made in all 50 states of the USA, in Mexico, in Canada, South America, Europe, China, Africa. And now you can add Georgia to that list, although we’re 7000 years behind in recognizing this country as a wine producer. One winery wants to change that and held a debut party of sorts in San Francisco. Bagrationi is a sparkling wine producer, making bubbly since 1882 when they became the first winery to do so in the Georgia region. The winery’s representatives in the US were pouring 4 wines. Two of them, the classic brut and classic extra dry are made in the methode Charmat, from three grape varieties I’m pretty sure you’ve not heard of: Chiuri, Mstsvane and Tsitska. Methode Charmat means the wine goes through the 2nd fermentation — which is responsible for the bubbles — in big tanks. If you drink Prosecco then you’ve had a…

DRINK – What’s in our glasses for Thanksgiving

I usually get assigned the task of bringing the wine for holiday events. For Thanksgiving you always see wine experts recommending a good Pinot Noir or Riesling to pair with the meal. Not for me this year. I’m serving bubbly. If you think about it, Champagne or sparkling wine goes with just about any food, and the bubbles help cut through some of the rich foods that are part of the Thanksgiving meal. Best of all, I got a deal. Seguras Viudas makes terrific Cava, the sparkling wine of Spain. It’s refreshing and lively. I picked up this magnum for only $9.97. Yes that’s right, $9.97 at Cost Plus markets. There were still plenty of bottles when I got mine yesterday. So a magnum is 1.5L which equals 2 standard bottles of wine. The funny thing is Cost Plus has the 750 ml standard bottle of the same Cava for…