Wine

Make it a Sangria Summer

Pura Vida Cocina Latina & Sangria Bar’s sangria tower

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.

Who won this year’s Central Coast Wine Competition?

The white and rosé wines ready for tasting in the sweepstakes round.

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.

Drink, eat and sleep around Healdsburg’s square

(Photo courtesy of the Healdsburg Chamber)

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.

Many ways to love Chenin Blanc

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.

Alara Cellars: Wine Meets Fashion

We pair wine with food, music and holidays, so why not fashion?

I was super excited when I first learned about this new fashionable wine project a couple years ago. Now, Alara Cellars has made its debut.

Janu Goelz in her Alara Cellars tasting room at Gilroy’s Stomping Ground.

Winemaker Janu Goelz loves wine, and she loves fashion just as much. For her, blending them is a natural. Goelz is co-owner and co-winemaker Jason-Stephens Winery with her husband Jason. Together, with Tim Slater of Sarah’s Vineyard, they created The Stomping Ground in Gilroy, home to about half a dozen local boutique wineries.

The craft winery venue was perfect launching pad for Goelz’s own label, Alara Cellars. Her eyecatching labels are original illustrations, the work of Vancouver-based fashion designer and illustrator Malene Grotrian

10 Reasons To Drink Tokaji

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Tokaji has an identity crisis.  You may have never heard about wines from this area of eastern Hungary.  They are white wines and mostly all are sweet.  And sweet wines are  hard sell.  Yet the Tokaji wines remain fresh, with bright acidity — even after years of aging.  No cloying, overly sweet wines here.  This makes Tokaji highly drinkable – and not just for dessert.  Therein lies Tokaji’s issue.  While it is a perfect after dinner drink, the wine, thanks to the crisp acid, pairs beautifully with all sorts of dishes, and not just creme brûlée or chocolate.

Hungary’s Tokaji: The Oldest of the Old World Wine

Furmint vineyards at Disznókó winery in Tokaji.
Furmint vineyards at Disznoko winery in Tokaji.

In the wine world we talk about the old world and the new world.  The old world is basically Europe – France, Germany, Italy, Spain, etc.  The new world is just about everywhere else – The US, Australia, South America, South Africa. 

I am standing in the oldest of the old world.  My travels have brought me to Tokaji, Hungary, a two and a half hour drive east of Budapest. You may not realize wine is made in Hungary.  You may be surprised to learn that the area called Tokaji is the oldest delimited, or defined, wine region in the world, established by royal degree in 1737.  The most famous wine here is the sweet wine known as Tokaji.  It is called “the king of wine and wine of kings.”  This golden to amber nectar has a long storied history, going back to the Middle Ages. Royal fans included French kings Louis XIV, Louis XV, Madame de Pompadour and Russia’s emperor Peter the Great.

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