WILD-ly practical wine recommendations & advice



At long Last!

After about a trimester of brewing and percolating, today I’m happy to announce the unveiling of my revised, upgraded, updated and  just-plain-snazzy NEW website –  www.winerium.com

I think (as the admittedly biased, proud parent) the site not only looks really fun and cool.  What you’ll find is ALOT more information.  Like:

  1. Wine info: You’ll see I’ve added a trivia question that I’ll change monthly and of course there’s a link to this blog.  Let me know if you got the trivia question correct!
  2. Event info:  There’s also more a about the types of events we do – including special events like wine and chocolate tastings.
  3. My info: I’ve added more information about me, my consulting services and client feedback.

You may also notice that I’ve dropped the “188” from the web address and my email address for simplicity – be sure to make note.

Please take a look at the new website, share it with your friends and feel free to shoot me an email from the CONTACT page – tell me what you think of the new site, I’d love to hear from you!

In the next blog… I’ll get back to my wine escapades.  The topic: WILD with a Fetish!  Look for it next week.  Until then…

Enjoy and GO WILD

WILD for a change!

We are all creatures of habit. This weekend, I’m suggesting you break away from what may be the wine you buy out of habit.

Some stats you may find interesting…  While there are over 3,000 known grape varieties in the world, in the United States, 4 grape varieties account for 60% of total wine sales (imported and domestic).  They are: Chardonnay (25%), Cabernet Sauvignon (14%), Merlot (13%) and White Zinfandel (8% – I think my parents and my friend, Laura are responsible for at least half of this volume.).

So, step away from your routine Chardonnay, Cab, Merlot or White Zin and drink something that is well worth the break in routine.

NOTE:  For those of you who not only enjoy wine but also have a penchant for a lychee martini… this wine is for you!

It is… Gewürztraminer (pronounced Ga-vertz-tra-meaner) or just Gewürz for short.  This is a white grape and therefore white wine who’s home is in Alsace, France but you can also find it from California and Washington State producers.  Classically, this grape variety produces wines that have pronounced aromas and flavors of rose, white flowers, citrus and melons.

POINT OF INTEREST>>> Gewürz in German means “spice”. So, the wine usually has a subtle spicy somethin’  on the palate.

One of my favorites is:

Willm Gewurztraminer, Alsace, France, 2009

This wine is big on aroma and flavors of lychee (rose pedals), pear, apple, pineapple, honeydew and spice.  All this packaged in a smooth texture and refreshing finish and just a hint of sweetness.

No barrels were sacrificed in making this wine… no oak used!  This wine is just the pure expression of the fruit – citrus and floral.

This is one versatile wine.  It’s great as a summer sipper or paired with your favorite Thai or Asian dishes.  It’s also a great partner to shellfish and chicken.  Priced at $13-$15 a bottle, it makes for a low risk break from your routine.  And, who knows, you may have found a new habit!

Enjoy and GO WILD

W.I.L.D. for Shark Week!

Each year, the first week of August is SHARK WEEK on the Discovery Channel.  I have great respect and awe for Great White Sharks, specifically. And, during this week, the Discovery Channel does a great job of broadcasting really cool shark footage – breaching, feeding, awesome crazy stuff.

So, when I think of the Great White Shark of wine, I think of a wine that is…

  1. Blood red in color
  2. From a coastal location (Australia, South Africa, Northern California)
  3. Has a big bite – lots of spicy flavors, high alcohol, full body, lots of astringent tannins
  4. Made by Greg Norman (nicknamed “The Great White Shark” or just ” The Shark”)- he’s the Australian professional golfer turned wine producer

POINT OF GOSSIP>>>On June 28, 2008 Greg Norman married Chris Evert  (ladies tennis legend). Then on October 2,  2009 Evert and Norman announced they were separating.  Really?  16 months? Really?

Anyhooo….As it turns out, Greg Norman Estates makes a wine that fits my Great White Shark specs and as a matter of fact has been quite highly rated by wine critics – his Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon blend.

Greg Norman Estates Limestone Coast Shiraz Cabernet 2007

This wine is 77% Shiraz and 23% Cabernet Sauvignon.

This wine is a dark crimson color (my blood red requirement). It has big dark fruit aromas and flavors of plum, blackberry and cherry mixing with the more complex and savory – pepper, currant, leather with vanillin and smoky oak with (a big bite)  strong tannins, full body, good alcohol and a long finish.  For a $16-20 wine, this is an excellent value and will continue to evolve over the next 5-7 years.

Enjoy and GO WILD

WILD for Riesling Week!

That’s right it’s RIESLING WEEK!!!!!

This week (through the weekend), top restaurants and retailers around the country will be offering a special selection of world class European Rieslings.  Drink some this weekend!  You can find more details here: http://www.destinationriesling.com/week

I’m jazzed about this celebration of nectar; if I had to pick a favorite grape variety…. It would be Riesling.

What I like about Riesling is the broad range of aromas and flavors that can be produced from this grape –  simultaneously lemon and citrus, peaches and apricot and minerality reminiscent of wet stone (in a good way!) with a crisp,  palate cleansing finish.

Oh, and the many faces of Riesling…

POINT OF INTEREST>>>Riesling is the grape variety of Germany.  The different levels of sweetness will be described with some crazy German words on wine labels such as:

Trocken (dry- that would be NOT sweet)

Halbtrocken (slightly sweet)

Spatlese (literally “late harvest” this is slightly sweet)

Auslese (this is sweet )

Trockenauselese (sweeter still)

Beerentrockenauslese (sugar coma – have a syringe of insulin at hand when you drink this)

One of my favorite Rieslings represents a collision of old world and new world.  The famous German winemaker, Ernst Loosen has partnered with Chateau St. Michelle in Washington State to create a great domestic Riesling in the Germanic style – outstanding.   It’s called Eroica (NOT erotic, despite the sexy label – get your head out of the gutter).  It’s named for Beethoven’s Third symphony.

Chateau St Michelle Eroica Riesling 2008

This wine has a hint of sweetness and is full of peach, orange and lime aromas and flavors along with the traditional minerality and crisp, clean acidity associated with German Riesling.  An excellent pair for seafood as well as Asian food and Indian curries.  This wine is priced at $19-21 a bottle.

But fear not, if you’re looking to spend less, you can pick up Dr. Loosen’s German Riesling for $10 a bottle.  It’s simply called Dr. Loosen Riesling and it’s from Mosel, Germany.  It will be slightly sweeter than Eroica, but a good representation of Riesling.

Enjoy and GO WILD

WILD for a summer dinner party!

A friend who recently shared a story of a wine experience inspires this post.

Story is … she was going to a friend’s home for dinner and wanted to bring a bottle of wine.  At the wine store, amidst all of the colorful wine labels and unpronounceable grape varieties, her mind was reeling…white? red? what’s for dinner? That’s when she decided to bring cookies instead!

So, here I give you a reliable, go-to wine that you can bring to any dinner party and it will not only have a place, it will not disappoint.  It’s particularly nice during the summer- chilled with chicken and seafood and it’ a great pairing for a summer salad.

It is Pouilly-Fuissé.   Don’t be afraid of the name.  It’s just a fancy French way of saying it’s Chardonnay – a crisp, lightly oaked, refreshing Chardonnay. BTW pronounced “poo-ēy foo-sāy”.

POINT OF INTEREST>>> Pouilly and Fuisse are simply neighboring towns in the Burgundy region of France. In these towns there are hundreds of grape growers with very small plots of land.  They sell their grapes to the local grape broker (negociant) who then makes wine under the name of the towns.  A couple of famous brokers are Louis Latour and Louis Jadot.  Their labels look like this:

And, about the wine… this Chardonnay will generally be aged for at least a year in oak barrels before it’s bottled.  This gives the wine a smoothness and touch of richness without being too creamy or heavy.  The aromas and flavors are of lemon, green apple, melon with a hint of herbs and minerality.  The finish is long, clean and silky.

For this wine you can expect to spend $15-20 a bottle at retail- online you’ll pay less.  If you want to try before you buy… have it by the glass or bottle at a restaurant –it will be on the wine list of restaurants that pay attention to that part of the meal – particularly a seafood restaurant.

Enjoy and GO WILD!

W.I.L.D. for dessert!

Hurray for dessert!  Let’s face it, when you think of dessert, you’re thinking… chocolate cake or cheesecake with raspberry sauce …or pecan pie…or chocolate ice cream with caramel drippin’s.   I admit that’s all good stuff but here, I  offer you all of these great favors in liquid form (and at only 150 calories /3.5oz glass)….Tawny Port…really!

A little background on port…Port gets its name from Oporto, Portugal, where English merchants have shipped this wine for over 300 years.  Long story short… England boycotted France for a while so they looked to Portugal for wine; they added brandy to the wine to stabilize it for the voyage back to England and…viola!   Port was born – necessity is indeed the mother of invention.  Go Brits!  That also explains why you so often see British names on Port (Grahams, Croft, Taylor Fladgate, Cockburn) rather than Portuguese names.

Port is different than your everyday table wine in that it is

  1. Higher in alcohol (18%) compared to 13% alcohol for your average table wine
  2. Sweet
  3. Full bodied
  4. A blend wines from different years (vintages)

“Tawny” means the wine has been aged in oak for an average of years that is designated on the label – 10, 20, 30, 40 years.   It is  (not surprisingly) tawny in color and its  flavors of nuts, caramelized figs, dates, prunes, caramel, chocolate and more  evolve and become more complex as it ages.

And… here’s a good one  –

Taylor Fladgate 10yr Tawny Port

This wine is sexy… it has pronounced aromas of almonds, pecan, praline, caramel and cocoa. On the palate its rich with flavors of raisins, dried plums, dried cherries and fig.  On top of that, the texture is luxurious, I’m talkin’ eyes-rollin’-to-the-back-of-your-head good!

Expect to pay $23-25 for this wine, but don’t feel like you need to finish it in a couple of days – it’ll keep for several months (corked well) after you open it.   And, this is well worth it –  tastes older than 10 years.

Drink it alone or with caramel apples or apple pie, dried fruit, caramelized almonds or pecans, dark chocolate, cheesecake, tiramisu, pumpkin or pecan pie.  Oh yummy!

Enjoy and GO WILD

W.I.L.D with Pinot Envy!

I have Pinot Envy.  There, I’ve put it in writing!

Pinot Noir – love it – probably because good Pinot Noir is a true accomplishment.  And, if you’ve got one, I want to try it!

It’s the high-maintenance diva of grapes.  So temperamental – it likes a climate that’s not too hot, but not too cold and takes its own sweet time to ripen.  It’s the Marlon Brando of grapes – notorious for being difficult to work with but, when the performance is good, it’s really good.

Likewise, when the grape grower and winemaker get it right – it’s a thing of beauty.

  • POINT OF INTEREST>>> While the movie, Sideways, created a Pinot Noir craze in the United States, the classic home of Pinot Noir is Burgundy, France.  In medieval France, monasteries and monks played an important role in developing the vineyards and the reputation for great Pinot Noir in Burgundy– praise Jesus, drink some Pinot!

I have MANY favorite Pinot Noirs from around the world – in time, I’ll write about each of them.

I was drinking this wine over the past weekend and was reminded why it has come to be one of my favorite Pinot Noirs from California. You can get this wine online or at retail for around $15- 17 a bottle and it has some really nice complexity that you wouldn’t expect at this price – drinks more like a $25-30 Pinot Noir.

DeLoach Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, 2007

This ruby colored wine has ripe red fruit aromas of strawberry and raspberry as well as hints of cinnamon, licorice, clove and cedar.  The flavors of dark cherries are mixed with more complex flavors of truffle, chocolate, baking spices and toast.  The tannins are soft and smooth and the finish lingers nicely.

This is a great wine to drink on its own or with anything on the BBQ.

Interestingly, Dan Aykroyd (of Saturday Night Live and Ghostbusters fame) teamed up with this vineyard to produce his own private label Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay called “Dan Aykroyd Discover Series”.  Go Figure!

Enjoy and GO WILD!