Archive for month: November, 2012

Does the Shape of Your Wine Glass Really Affect the Taste?

29 Nov
November 29, 2012

A Lesson in Varietal-Specific Glassware from Maximilian Riedel

Until tonight, I considered my stemware to be little more than a beautiful vessel to hold my favorite wines. In just three sips, Maximilian Riedel (ree-del) has made me a believer in the ability of glassware to completely frame and alter the wine-drinking experience. I could guestimate that I have at least a dozen different styles of glasses in my home, ranging from the tiny, free models earned during my winery tasting sessions to the $100-a-piece Master Sommelier monstrosities I was generously given as a wedding gift. While I knew all of these must have some sort of impact, I generally adopted a mentality of “the bigger the glass, the better.” Or, I just reached for the first one in the cabinet…

The 11th generation Austrian glassmaker – and current CEO of Riedel Crystal of North America – led me and several dozen other wine enthusiasts through a tasting seminar at City Winery in Chicago and turned us all into bona-fide stemware snobs. Read more →

Wine Country Travel Tip: Where to Stay in Napa

23 Nov
November 23, 2012

Napa Valley Hotel Options from Downtown to Calistoga and up Spring Mountain

Deciding on where to stay in Napa can be just as daunting as choosing a wine to pair with dinner. From full-service resorts to mountaintop bed and breakfasts, there are accommodations for nearly every taste and budget. Before starting your search, it’s important to weigh your priorities as there are nearly 30 miles of options to consider. We like to stay in a variety of places because each can offer such a unique experience. These are some of the spots we’ve enjoyed, listed in geographical order from south (city of Napa) to north (Calistoga). Rates are approximate based on Jan./Feb. reservations.

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Wine Country Travel Tip: Napa Through the Seasons

20 Nov
November 20, 2012

Timing Considerations for Your Next Napa Valley Trip

Wondering when to visit Napa Valley? Having visited Napa during each of the four seasons, I’ve seen the benefits and drawbacks of traveling to this beautiful region throughout the year. For those considering a first time trip or a return done differently, I’ve included a summary of what you could expect from Northern California’s Wine Country from now through next November.

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A Weekend of Wine; a Bounty of Reviews

19 Nov
November 19, 2012

Five Napa Valley Wine Reviews

Every so often, we enjoy what I call a “Weekend of Tasting” with the goal of sharing a series of Napa Valley wine reviews. This usually involves gathering with a few others who equally appreciate the beauty each bottle brings and are open to reaching into the far corners of their cellars to share their favorite picks with the group. This past weekend, we spent time with family in Michigan and opened some pretty wonderful wines. Five of my top Napa picks are well worth recommending:

  • Laird 2009 Cold Creek Chardonnay – Those who enjoy true, oaky, buttery Chardonnays (like me, on occasion) will like this Carneros-sourced wine. Added flavors of honeysuckle and lavender elevated its sweetness. Rating: 4.25 points. Read more →

Preparing Your Thanksgiving Day Pours

18 Nov
November 18, 2012

Holiday and Gift Wine Ideas

With Thanksgiving and the holiday season upon us, it’s time to start thinking about wines to accompany festive meals or give as gifts. I’ve pulled some of the selections from my recent #GiftWinePick posts on Twitter, which include a range of delicious, crowd-pleasing options you can find in most areas. I’ll plan to share more of these ideas throughout the next few weeks.

While you may not be able to locate these specific vintages at your local store, these wineries deliver fairly consistent, high-quality wines each year. Hopefully, you will be just as pleased with their other options. Prices are approximate and based on the listing prices I found in Chicago-area shops.

Wine Reviews

Wine Wednesday Pour: Larkmead Red Wine (2010)

14 Nov
November 14, 2012

A Review of One of Larkmead Vineyards’ Newest Releases

Aside from offering one of the best and most scenic tasting experiences in Napa Valley, Larkmead Vineyards produces a spectacular line-up of Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet and Bordeaux-style blends. Over the years, we’ve struggled to hold onto our bottles of Cabernet, Firebelle, LMV Salon and Solari, instead opting to consume them shortly after purchase. With a history dating back to the late 1800’s, the team at Larkmead prides themselves on being farmers-first; this dedication to the care of their vineyards and grapes shines through in their wines. Larkmeads’ vineyards are located in Calistoga, one of Napa Valley’s newest AVA’s, which defines its distinctive flavors and velvety mouthfeel. Theirs are wines that make you sip and take notice because they’re so bold and intricately laced with complex layers of aromas, flavors and textures. With this consistent quality, it’s no surprise that Larkmead wines are harder and harder to come by. This is why we were so thrilled to learn about the 2010 Larkmead Red Wine. Read more →

Now This is How You Host a Home Wine Tasting Party!

11 Nov
November 11, 2012

Inspiration and Tips for a Memorable Event

A colleague and fellow Napa wine enthusiast kindly invited us to participate in his annual home tasting party over the weekend. I knew we’d be in for a treat, but this event rivaled something you’d read about in Martha Stewart Living. As we entered, guests were asked to pick up one numbered wine glass that had been adorned with a homemade cork charm. (To create these, the hostess cut corks into thin, circular slices with a sharp knife, inserted a small jewelry hook into the top and tied them to each stem. I found a similar DIY charm tutorial at Naturally Savvy.) Next, we were provided with scoring sheets that asked raters to evaluate samples on their appearance, aroma, body, taste and finish at up to five points per category for a total of 25 points each. Then, we were free to begin tasting.

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Wine of the Week: Behrens Family Winery, “The Knockout” (2009)

10 Nov
November 10, 2012

Friday is my favorite night for wine; nothing helps to close out a long work week like good company and a stellar vino. Last night, we opted for a bold wine. Appropriately named, “The Knockout” is a rich, dark Cabernet (84%) blended with Petit Verdot (8%) and Cabernet Franc (8%). Like its cousin, “The Fighter,” this bottle showcases one of Les Behrens’ prized art pieces featuring a boxing ring and all the drama and glory contained within the ropes. Still young, this wine was dramatic, as well. As you might expect, it appeared a dark garnet color in the glass. We also didn’t give it much air or time to decant before taking an initial sip. A few swirls helped to release aromas of dark berries, anise and cedar. (Side note: I always like to take an initial sniff and then try again after I’ve covered the glass with my hand to make the experience more intense.)
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A Glass of Wine with Eric Asimov

07 Nov
November 7, 2012

New York Times Wine Critic Previews New Book

By following chief wine critic of the New York Times, Eric Asimov, on Twitter, I knew he recently launched a new book, “How to Love Wine: A Memoir and Manifesto.” Through the same means, I also was thrilled to learn he’d be conducting a #WineWednesday reading and wine tasting event at a local Chicago shop, The Book Cellar. As a burgeoning wine blogger and taster, I was eager to hear this longtime professionals’ perspective on honing one’s palate, as well as his candid personal accounts of sampling wines from around the world. He recalled a trip to Paris at age 14 that initiated his interest in food and led him to become a restaurant critic. He followed with wine in his late teens/early 20’s.

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