Life is better on the corner, the place where great wines meet reasonable prices!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Call me a Cab please, take me to 2006 Star Lane Cabernet Sauvignon in SBC

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Getting a cab in some cities and some situations can be down right difficult, but to be honest gone are the days of showing some leg, or waving umbrellas to grab a cabbies attention. But there you're standing on the sidewalk, facing traffic and . . . nothing. Geez what do have to do to get a "Cab"?  Many folks on that same crowded corner maybe looking at you wondering to themselves, what are you doing flailing about? Perhaps you're thinking, "duh, I'm obviously waiting for a Cab". But why won't they stop?

With everyone [clamoring masses] standing on a corner next to you it can be difficult to find a good Cab, one that is clean, with good structure, paneled with well integrated French Oak, plush leather accents bound around some dark fruits, with a bouquet of cedar, cigar box, and currant, which is ready to drink now but will develop further with age. You have to figure out a way to flag this kind of Cab [talking vino now] down, what to do, wave your hand at them or something or should you whistle, jump up and down scream "hey cabbieeeee?"  A possible solution for you just maybe to read a blog like mine or one of the many others out there, see my blog roll down to the right. Blogs are a great source for getting the skinny on great tasting juice at reasonable prices.

Most of those methods mentioned above may or may not be effective for hailing a cab to your next destination, however when you're are looking for a wonderful Cabernet Sauvignon you have no further to look than the one I'm reviewing for you today. But if you'd like to do more shopping, you will ultimately have to read some great blogs, walk down many wine store aisles, go to myriad tasting, do some spitting, pouring out and yes even drive or fly out to wine country [called a vacation] in search of a good "Cab"! That is what I will be doing shortly myself, making another trip up the coast to Napa and Sonoma Valley.

I must have flailed my arms correctly because this time I have flagged one down that's reasonably priced and will definitely take your palate where it has always wanted to go, that place is happy land! I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. You can be too, just get your "happy" little self down to Jonathon's or the San Diego Wine Company, pick up a few bottles, get together with some friends and tweet away the evening about Cabernet Sauvignon the King of Wine.

In keeping with the joys of opening a fat Cabernet Sauvignon, just before firing up your grill to make something tasting, I present to you the concept of one Mr. Rick Bakas the Social Network Marketing Guru for St Supery "Cabernet Day" on Thursday Sept. 2nd which will be on all social media sites. So if you're reading this today, you still have time to join in on the celebration. The celebration of what you maybe asking, the "king of grapes". There two ways you can participate; either in person or online by joining the 50+ tweetups around the globe and the people who have all joined in on via Twitter with the hash tag
#Cabernet Day.

Well the fast approaching International Cabernet Day is on the way and I wanted to participate by providing the review of this wonderful Cabernet Sauvignon hailing from the brand spanking new “Happy canyon of Santa Barbara” AVA, with no further ado, I present to you the 2006 Star Lane Cabernet Sauvignon, Santa Ynez Valley.

First Swirl: In the glass, this was bright and clear despite it not being filtered, the core was a dark ruby to purple in color and opaque, while the legs were reflecting the core.

First Sniff: The opportunity to put this wine through it paces occurred during my WSET Advanced Certification class, where learning "proper" wine evaluation is the fun part of the instruction. This wine had a clean, pronounced nose, brimming with dusty mocha, cigar box, black pepper and currant.

First Sip: I found this wine to have mouth watering balanced acidity and well integrated tannins, which obviously aged on French Oak, appealing flavors of cocoa, blackberry and cherries swirling about to lithe long coffee type finish. Plush elegance!

Aging: After 18 months in 75% new French oak and a light fining with 3 fresh egg whites per barrel, the 2006 Star Lane Cabernet was bottled unfiltered.

Composition and ABV: A blend of four different grapes, with 78% Cabernet Sauvignon leading the pack, followed by 18% Cabernet Franc 3% Petit Verdot and just a drop of Malbec, presumably to add color and body. The ABV on this wine is hardly noticable 15.1%.

Price and Where to Purchase: You can purchase this wine from their website for $42 or you can buy it, here in San Diego at Jonathan's Market in La Jolla or Del Mar for [I assume] under $40 each, but when I called they didn't know the price or you can pick it up at San Diego Wine Company who's selling it for $36.95 each or if you want to buy 3 cases or more they will sell it for $33.95 each.

Fruit Source: The grapes are harvested from three different blocks, in fact they're the warmest and the highest elevation vineyard in the Happy Canyon AVA [American Viticulture Area]. Backing up to the lower slopes of the San Rafael Mountains which loom high above the ranch, Star Lane features a unique range of weathered sand, gravel and alluvial cobbles over a clay/loam subsoil.

My Recommendation: Oh boy this cab ride should cost you a lot more, good thing the meter isn't still running. I would run down and grab some today if you are planning on this for the Cabernet Day, then I would grab at least 3 one to open that night, and two to open later. You won't be disappointed, definitely well built solid wine that is drinking excellent now, but is built to age a few more years. For some the price of the wine most likely knocks it out of the "everyday" drinker category, however you don't want to missing grabbing some of this wine and storing them as a weekend wine or as one to give as a gift.

Cuvée Corner Wine Blog Score: Hey point seekers here's my score if your interested: This wine scored 91 points on the Cuvée Corner 100 point and would have scored a little higher if the price point was a bit lower, but since availability is high and the quality is quite amazing it received 91 points.

The Point System: I know there's a lot of discussion going around on the point system, and how unfair it is and blah, blah, blah. But nothing in this life will ever be completely fair or completely just. So argue against it if you like, but I believe it's here to stay, just accept it. The point system is like any other great tool, if used correctly and I believe it can be, than it will reward your palate over and over. One rule is get to know your reviewer, try to find out if they have a New World Palate or an Old World Palate and match it up your own. Some will say I have neither, but c'mon on the majority of us gravitate to one style or the other if we just admit it.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Merlot Madness under Ten Dollars: Concha Y Toro presents Xplorador Wines

Their seems to be a  resurgence of the Merlot [as a single] varietal and for that my heart is very glad, because I do love this varietal very much, but there has just been so little of it that I've been impressed with over the years, which has had an impact on my 200 hundred bottle wine cellar, I recently removed the tag from the shelf where I use to store my Merlot [very sad state of affairs, indeed]. I have a pretty simple filing system in my personal wine vault, I label most of the shelves by varietal and mark the bottles with prices I paid and the date of purchase and if it's a sample I bust out my big black sharpie and write sample over the UPC code and the date.

Having recently visited Washington State and having had the opportunity to taste much of the great Merlot being made there, has rekindled my interest and passion for these wines. In the coming months you will continue to hear about other wonderful examples of this great varietal.

Funny the only Merlot I have in my wine vault are the samples I've been sent from different PR companies who work on behalf of many different wineries to get the word out about their wines. I've recently been sent a number of Merlot under the $10 price point, however I found many of the wines were undrinkable, flat out plonk. Sorry no other way to really put it, other than that.

You have to know that I sample and [sometimes drink] thousands of wines from all over the world in a years time, but mostly New World wines, likely a ratio of anywhere from seventy to thirty, New to Old. I travel to wine regions, I speak with wine makers, I go to wine trade shows and attend local tastings and spit or pour out lots of wine that will never see the light of day on this blog [and the majority of which is at my own expense]. So what I'm trying to say here, I think I've narrowed down a good majority of wine that is well made, tastes winetastic and the best part they have what I believe are reasonable prices. Why you may ask, because I am crazy about vino and love to bring these stories to you my readers and hopefully you can feel better about making an buying decision [an informed decision], on your next bottle of vino and maybe you don't have to ask "what's in the box?".

So when I tell I've come across this Merlot from a relatively new label [design], brought to you by Concha y Toro in partnership with Banfi Vintners, that I am this excited about, you just may want to pay attention. Because in my [not-always] humble opinion, this Merlot that was sent to me for the review process is just wine-tastic.

The Scoop: This wine currently is not on anyones radar [yet], nope I could not find another single review of this wine anywhere on the net, what does that mean to you? That means to you my readers that I just gave you "the scoop" on one of the best values in wine, that has come across this desk in quite a while. While I have not opened all the Xplorador series of wines which were sent  to the Cuvee Corner Wine Blog, as a sample for review purposes, this Merlot has really caught my attention the most amoung the samples I've opened and evaluated.

Goodbye Miles: Like in baseball, when the announcer says the guy touched all bases, meaning he knocked it out of the park and so did this Merlot. So my days of me yelling [not really] like Miles did in the movies Sideways, "I'm not drinking any focking Merlot" are over. To me Merlot can be very desirable and this Merlot is all of that for me, especially when you consider the price point, how can a wine this low in price deliver so much for so very little, I don't know and I don't care! Sorry Miles, but I will be drinking some focking Merlot!

The label you see on the picture I took above is new, but brand has been around awhile, I have seen the old labels and the wines before, but never tasted them. They could be just fine if there's still some laying about, but it won't have my seal of approval. However, this new label and the wines in the bottle are very good and at a price point under $10, you just can't go wrong.

Full Disclosure: Yes okay, I received this wine as sample that was sent to me for the review process. They also sent me the other wines below, that I've had an opportunity to review.

Other Wines in the Portfolio: Chardonnay 87 points, Carmenere 88 points, Malbec 87 points and the Sauvignon Blanc, well I have not opened it yet. But you can see a trend here, well made wines at very reasonable prices, what more could you ask for?

Wine in Focus: The 2009 Xplorador Merlot

First Swirl: After busting this wine of out of the cellar and popping the cork, I let it sit a half hour while I cooked dinner and poured it into my decanter [Riedel, don't settle] and small portion into my glass, holding up against the screen door with sunlight streaming in, I found a very polished core of ruby and a touch of garnet on the rim. No really!

First Sniff: It took some time to ferret out the nose, but after the wine warmed a little it started to release a fresh mix of berries, toast and mocha. Even after the wine was gone, the nose just kept giving and giving.

First Sip: The moment you've all been waiting for, it showed excellent depth of fruit [in a word, plush], mixing dark fruits, black cherry and cassis, with a subtle smokiness. It rounded out nicely in the mid-palate tapering off to a crisp, pleasing finish.

With/With-out Food: I first evaluated this wine before dinner and also had it during dinner, I took a risk and paired it with a "Beef" Teriyaki Stir Fry and this wine shone through like a champ. It will most likely pair with just about anything in my estimation.

The Winemaker: From the Xplorador website, "Over the past 20 years Hector “Tito” Urzua, Chief Winemaker for Xplorador, has dedicated his life to searching out the absolute best vineyard sites for his wines. Having studied vineyard practices and winemaking in some of the world’s leading countries including France, Australia and of course Chile, Tito now merges excellence of tradition with today’s fresh, fruit-forward character."

Fruit Source: The creation of Xplorador Wines starts from sourcing the fruit in the Central Zone of Chile from the blocks in Villa Alegre.

Aging and ABV: Ninety percent of this wine spent four months in stainless steel and 10 percent in French Oak barrels for another four months. Many of you, myself included  won't believe this wine is only 13.1% abv, normally to achieve this much extraction in a fruit forward wine, you see much higher ABV's but not in this case.

My Recommendation: Okay folks, not sure how much of this wine will be available on the market, however because of its small price point and the fact that distribution of this wine is being sold to large retailers, I believe you can safely assume that there is a large amount of it available. That said, I'm still giving this wine my, "run don't walk recommendation"! Believe when I tell you, the folks at WS and WE, the big wine pub's will have this featured on their top ten wines under $10 next month or as one of their wines featured in the "Buying Guide" listed as a "BEST-BUY".  You saw it here first, no one else has the scoop on this wine like I do and now so do you, so what the bleep are you waiting for get your buns over to your favorite wine store and buy a few cases.

Price and Where to Find: Okay this is perhaps the best part, because what you find on this blog is exactly what you will never find in the "big boys" Vino Publications or many other blogs for that matter. So what's that you may ask, everyone wants to know where can you find the juice? This is one of the key points many forget to tell you, as you maybe reading about it on those other wine publications, so instead of searching for a wine you just read about, with this blog ya don't have to google it, I've already done that for you and or taken the next step and called the distributor directly to get the skinny on a particulars wines status.

Now many of you're saying, ok so this wine is fan-freaking-tastic, so how much does it cost and where the bleep do I find it? Great questions, are you ready for this? This wine will mostly likely sell for between $7.99 and $9.99.  Now I have it on very good authority, that this wine and it's companions are being sold into Bev-Mo, Cost Plus, Henry's [in East Lake] and The San Diego Wine Company. If they don't have it already, it's available through the distributor, just tell them to order it. Don't let them give ya the run-around, I did my due diligence, meaning I did my homework and this wine will be hitting store shelves soon. For you Military folks this wine will be available in the PX and or Exchanges near you. Oh by the way, please tell them that the Cuvée Corner Wine Blog sent ya, just so they know why they're getting all this business.

Cuvée Corner Wine Blog Score: Hey point seekers here's my score if your interested: This wine scored 92 points on the Cuvée Corner 100 point scale and is a top performer on the QPR side of the equation. If you are at all curious how I come up with a score, please take a look over to your right and click on the tab review process.

Other Voices: Okay just in case you need a second opinion, a certain "wine~guru" who lives right here in San Diego, has his own highly rated wine-talk-show and is a wine judge, had this to say on twitter in response to my post about Xplorador wines in general, "Xplorador is very good for the price and at those prices they should be everybody's favorite tailgate & bbq wines". Robert Whitley of Whitley on Wine

If you have not seen this movie yet, I highly recommend it to you, cheers! Please take a look at the trailer, I just love it and I'm sure you will as well!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

With Limoncello you too can sing, "Good, good, good, good Libations.....!"

 "I knew it was the last seven Limoncellos that was going to get me."

This statement from Danny Devito who fell victim to Limoncello over indulgence just before his appearance on the View. If you are already starting to sing about the joys of Limoncello, it's far too late and you just may end-up saying and doing things you never imagined were possible.

Yes this was a few years back, but it's a funny story worth repeating, On the morning of Nov. 29, 2006, Danny DeVito showed up "sloppy-drunk" on ABC's "The View" [utterly terrible] after a long night out with George Clooney and sipping on Limoncello.

But hey not all is loss, because sometimes when you are served lemons you just make lemonade or in this case Limoncello. Proving that not all celebrity PR melt-downs have to end in with embarrassment and/or collapsed endorsement deals [hello Tiger Woods]. Mr. Devito is either a smart-guy [doubt that] or he got great advice from his PR firm [which I suspect]. The strategy, instead of wallowing in the shame and hiding from the reporters waiting to ask the gotcha questions, Mr. DeVito launched Danny DeVito's Premium Limoncello [ala Newmans Own], which is produced and bottled on an estate of lemon trees on Italy's Sorrento peninsula. In my estimation this seems like a smart way to deal with public embarrassment, don't hide from it, wallow in it a bit, let folks see you're human and make the best of a bad situation, cheers Mr.Devito!

Ahhh the joys of Limoncello, I remember introducing a friend of mine to this wondrous libation. We were in Vegas celebrating the forthcoming wedding of his sister Mindy with all the friends and family were gathered in this wonderful restaurant [private room] at the "Paris", Las Vegas.

Since dinner was over I recommended that we should having some Limoncello as an after dinner digestivo. Everyone there looked at me like I like I had horns coming out of my head or somethings, but they brought everyone some served in small ceramic glasses and chilled. Unfortunately for Joe, we also had some Grappa (this is another story) shots just before dinner, some great vino and with the mixed results, he laid waste to a one arm bandit in the lobby, it was quite a "splatacular" scene. Adding insult to injury and little embarrassment, security was called with a wheel chair to help him out to a taxi and back to his hotel. It makes me wonder what I may be sitting on in those cabs, not a great image.

Personally I like to have a nice one ounce pour just before dinner, it seems to cleanse to the palate and enhance my gastronomical experiences.

Limoncello, is a wonderous libation. I keep one cooling its heels in my freezer. (just be careful to not lay it on its sides, you'll get drippage) The tradition in Italy is as an after dinner digetivo, which I think is a good practice. Part of the "Mediterranean lifestyle" as it is said. Just a few ounces in a stemless Reidel Chardonnay glass. Not sure why I use that glass, for lack of an more appropriate glass. I find the ones imported from Italy are the best. The color as you can see, is bright yellow, sweet and lemony, but not sour since it contains no lemon juice. I understand it is also easy to make at home, although I've not tried out the recipe myself. It is pretty inexpensive to purchase. I think this a perfect summer after-dinner drink, in place of the normal sherry, port, and madeira which in my estimation are better suited for the fall and winter months.

So if you have never tried Limoncello to this point, seek some out, throw it in the freezer, wait ,pour and enjoy. Just a warning it can sneak up on you, just ask Danny. Please let me know what you think, I look forward to hearing about your adventures with this amazing libation. If you want to make it at home, it's a fairly easy recipe. I've included this video below, so you can attempt to make some for yourself!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Chardonnay Prescription: Monthaven's Chardonnay three-liter Octavin Home Wine Bar

Hello everyone and welcome to all my new followers near and far, glad you are enjoying the blog and welcome to anyone who may be new to this blog. I hope to see you all again real soon. As you can see from the Traffic Map to the lower right hand side, folks from all over this big blue marble who enjoy stopping by for the latest wine reviews and recommendations, best of all it's free. Today's review is going to revolve around Chardonnay, yep the perennial favorite go-to wine here in the states.

Some Wine Facts: According to The Wine Institute  "If Cabernet Sauvignon is the king of red grapes, Chardonnay is the queen of whites. The variety is California's most widely planted wine~grape, with 94,986 acres reported in 2009. Chardonnay far and away remains the most popular wine in the U.S. and has continued to be the leading varietal wine for the last decade, with sales increases every year."

It has been said that a bartender is nothing short of good pharmacist but with a limited inventory. That said, I offer you the prescription for what ails you. What is that you may ask, well Chardonnay of course, it is the answer to painful economic downturns, bad relationships, bad bosses, and whatever other malady that could sour an otherwise wonderful day. So below I've outlined a tongue in cheek look at what I call the Chardonnay Prescription. Please read carefully all the warning and admonishments before taking this course of action as I can't be held responsible for any outrageous behaviors or consequences as a result of taking the Chardonnay Prescription.

This review is about two things really, one the Monthaven Chardonnay and Octavin three litre box. Now regarding the "new" three litre box which was sent to me as a sample.

Full Disclosure: Hello FTC and anyone else who may be interested, as mentioned above I received this wine as a submitted sample for the review process from Octavin.

Pros: Like Brad Pitt once said, "whats in the box?" Well to begin with the Octavin has an eight-sided foot print, it will sit in your refrigerator with ease and take up far less space then the conventional wines in the box and the fact that it comes in cardboard boxes cost less than glass bottles [which means a lower prices per sip]; boxes don’t break as easily and are lighter making it easier to ship; there's a vacuum-packed bag, which keeps the wine fresher, longer after it has been opened, all thanks to the handy-dandy spigot. Perhaps the best thing about this box is that it holds the equivalent to four standard size 750ml bottles of wine. So you have four bottles of chilled libations sitting there in your refrigerator waiting to be tapped [no corkscrew needed], the next time you have unexpected guests or even for the intentional guests who may be visiting. So there you have it, the benefits of the box alone.

Cons: Okay, so here are some of the cons and there are always a few, as with anything in life nothing is perfect. So what is the down side of the box, okay fishing the spigot out took me a little more time than I expected, I had to work with gravity as the spigot tended to not rush toward the pre-cut hole, from which it's suppose to protrude [oh-my], just not easily as I anticipated.  The spigot was good and bad, a push button design may have been better, but not sure if that was nixed because of oxidation or cost issues. The second thing it did on occasion leave a drip of wine or two, something to watch for, but for the most part it was easy to use. The last thing I noticed is that it took much longer to get cold, than a bottle does. I would recommend throwing it in the refrigerator overnight, before drinking and last thing, was the drink by date of just one year, huh c'mon unless your some kind of drunkard, you may not finish four bottles of chardonnay in a years time. So wine the proverbial bottle still has the edge over wine in the box, in this category.

Okay now it is time to review the wine: The Monhaven Winery 2008 Central Coast Chardonnay:

The Blend: A blend of cold fermented, barrel fermented and barrel aged wines and the fruit for this Chardonnay is sourced from various vineyards in Santa Barbara and Monterey, hence the Central Coast title.

About Monhaven: According to their website, "We are named for our location in Monterey County, CA, Monthaven wines benefit from one of the world’s longest growing seasons, resulting in distinctive full-bodied wines with balanced acidity, our Artisan winemaker Jeff Yamamoto crafts these Central Coast wines."

First Swirl: After opening the spigot and pouring myself a few ounces to discover a very lightly colored straw core and a watery rim.

First Sniff: Allowing the wine to warm up for a few minutes, I find on both the nose and later my palate, that this wine delivers from the vacuum packed bag, the lithe, typical tropical notes, but not much else.

First Sip: After a few sniffing around the glass and a few slurps later I found this wine to deliver a "touch all bases" Chardonnay. With just enough body and richness, creamy mouth feel, complimented by crisp apple notes and balanced acidity.

Price and Where to Purchase: You can find the Octavin Home Wine Bar in most upscale grocery stores and will find it selling anywhere from between $17 to $24. All you Chula Vista readers, I know you're there lurking about, this wine can be found at the Ralph's on East Palomar.

My Recommendation: This is a wonderful wine for hosting large parties. It pairs well with many foods and is very reasonably priced. I opened it over 3 weeks ago and it was still just as fresh as the day I poured my first glass. Hard to go wrong with an easy drinking wine, that would sell for about $5 - $6 per bottle that's not in a bottle and is so easy to get in your glass. It doesn't pretend to be anything other than it is, a reasonably priced tasty Chardonnay for everyday quaffing, when you just want a glass and not a whole bottle.

Cuvée Corner Wine Blog Score: Hey point seekers here's my score if your interested: This wine scored 87 points on the Cuvée Corner 100 point scale. If you curious about how I come up with my scores please click on that link to your right entitled the "review process". The QPR was good and ease of use scored high marks.

Other Voices: Okay, so maybe you want to hear what someone has to say about this Chardonnay, well check out this video below, where some random tasters regale you the benefits of this delightful wine.

~The Chardonnay Prescription~

~Stop hiding and start living, with Chardonnay~

Do you have feelings of inadequacy? Do you suffer from shyness? Do you sometimes wish you were more assertive? Do you have excess stress and anxiety? If you answered yes to any of these questions, ask a winemaker, tasting room attendant or local wine store owner about Chardonnay. Yes you heard me right, the benefits of drinking Chardonnay on a regular basis has been shown to have several benefits including, but not limited to:

  • Chardonnay is the safe, natural way to feel better and more confident about yourself and your actions.

  • Chardonnay can help ease you out of your shyness and let you tell the world that you're ready and willing to do just about anything.

  • Chardonnay has many benefits you'll notice almost immediately, with a regimen of regular doses you can overcome any obstacles that prevent you from living the life you want to live.

  • Chardonnay removes normal inhibitions of shyness and awkwardness and will become a thing of the past. You will most likely discover many talents you never knew you had, to everyone elses astonishment.
WARNING: Chardonnay may not be right for everyone.

Ladies: Women who are pregnant or who may become pregnant should not use Chardonnay. However, women who wouldn't mind nursing or becoming pregnant are encouraged to try it, as it can be found to relax inhibitions and produces ripe for propagation.

Side effects may include: dizziness, nausea, vomiting, incarceration, erotic lustfulness, loss of motor control, loss of clothing, loss of money, loss of virginity, delusions of grandeur, table dancing, headache, dehydration, dry mouth, and a desire to sing Karaoke and play all-night rounds of Strip Poker, Truth Or Dare, and Naked Twister just to name a few.

  • The consumption of Chardonnay may make you think you are whispering when you are not.

  • The consumption of Chardonnay may cause you to tell your friends over and over again that you love them.

  • The consumption of Chardonnay may cause you to think you can sing.

  • The consumption of Chardonnay may lead you to believe that ex-lovers are really dying for you to telephone them at four in the morning.

  • The consumption of Chardonnay may make you think you can logically converse with members of the opposite sex without spitting.

  • The consumption of Chardonnay may create the illusion that you are tougher, smarter, faster and better looking than most people.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Macy's Culinary Council Presents: Andrea Robinson and the Tenderloin hood w/ bottle of Zin wrapped in a Bag

I know that this title is a mouthful, but it came out of a mini conversation on Twitter with horror writing phenom Rain Graves regarding the picture of the Zinfandel in my glass and the tenderloin on my plate. Truly nothing was in a paper bag and there were no tenderloins scurrying about in hood. Just thought it would make for a quirky little title.

That said, speaking of mouthfuls I had the great pleasure of sitting in on a Wine and Food pairing Seminar hosted by the Culinary Council, this past Saturday with none other than Andrea Robinson, former dean of Wine Studies at the French Culinary Institute, where she graduated with honors from its professional culinary program, a master sommelier, and a chef. She is also one of only 16 women in the world to hold the title of Master Sommelier and the first woman to be awarded the Best Sommelier in America distinction, impressive resume for sure. That is why I was thrilled to be invited down for the food and wine pairing demonstration. The talk and live cooking demonstration was just fantastic, her presentation skills, rapport with her audience and command of her wine and food pairing was undeniably spot on. It was conducted in a completely disarming fashion and what I would characterize as a first-class event all the way, filled with fun, learning and wrapped up with nice afternoon snack, paired with tasty wines and I could sense nothing but good vibes from the crowd.

I've been asked to give a talk on food and wine pairing myself and the tips and techniques I learned this day were just fantastic, inspiring and incredibly helpful and I plan on incorporating some of these concepts into my own talk. I'm not sure why she's not the Next Food Network star, be that as it may, you can still catch her older programs on You Tube and she will soon be launching here own series of videos.

During her talking on Wine and Food paring, she also introduced her new stemware collection - “The One” – which is a line created to take the guesswork out of choosing the proper wine glass. It comes in a set of four, either four stems for Red wines four stems for White wines and can be found for sale at Macy's Home Store or Andrea Wine Stemware Shop. They are selling for $49.95 and are said to be dishwasher [I recommend hand was only] safe and break resistant.

Review of the One: In reviewing the stemware here at Chez Eyer using my own informal comparison and having full knowledge of which glass was which I still came to one [pun not intended] conclusion; that it's very hard to avoid the conclusion that something real is involved with this technology, but exactly what that is indeterminable.

Clarity: First, let me preface my remarks about my results; noting that I did not overtly prefer the wine out of the "One" rather, I was able to identify which glass of wine was  in the "One" stems, because the wine seemed more expressive to me. But that difference was not as appreciable as I expected it would be. While I didn’t always like what was being expressed by the "One" glass better, I did however find more aromas and diversity of flavor in the overall expression on the palate and the bouquet. I know that seems like squishy-land talk, but truly I was unable to have that "aha" moment.

Compared to What: This is a phrase I ask many folks, especially after someone has extolled their praise or condemnation for a particular product or service. Because if there's really nothing to make a comparison against, then what's the point, you're just performing an exercise in futility. That said, I put some Reidel Stemware up against the "One" and put both sets of stemware through their paces.

Conclusion: More importantly what you have with the "One" is stemware which can be used for a large variety of red or white wines without having to purchase expensive separate pieces and this point should not be missed. If you purchase this type of glass you don't have the need for many types of stems any longer. Think of it this way if you purchase a number of them [the One] and when you have guests over everyone can drink from a similar glass. Because if you are like me and already have many different types of stems and let's say I have more than a few guests over my home, I'm often forced into giving them a variety of stems and it does seem little awkward, but with this concept in stemware your life can be so much easier.

If you're just starting out on your own wine loving life-style, you have the opportunity to acquire stems that are all of the same profile [meaning same size and shape], making it much easier to stow them in your cupboards and without the difficulty of trying to remember which glass goes with what. With  the "One"  there's only thing you need to remember is this, the big glass for red wines or the small glass for white wines, as a result your guests will most likely think of you as a little more prepared.

Recommendation: I would definitely recommend these glasses to you to provide you with some stemware sanity and to enhance your own vino experiences. They also make a great gift for the wine lover who perhaps seems to have everything. I liken my conclusions to what Morpheus told Neo in the Matrix: "You take the blue pill, the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe and  if you take the red pill -- you stay in Wonderland." the choice is yours of course.

Full Disclosure: Hello FTC and anyone else interested, yes I received a set of the "ONE" stemware as a SAMPLE and in part because of my involvement in the WBC or Bust wine blog contest as the prelude to the Wine Bloggers Conference in Walla, Walla Washington.

The Pairings:

Edamame Pesto was paired with St Supery Sauvignon Blanc which exhibited grapefruit zest, floral, green lime and tropical fruits which are typical of California style of Sauvignon Blanc. The pairing of these two items complimented each other flavor profiles nicely. The Edamame Pesto, I thought could have used a little more something [but hey what do I know], as it was a bit monolithic, maybe a little more cilantro, not sure but I did enjoy both those flavor profiles together. The St Supery Sauv. Blanc was very good and I scored it 88 points and can be purchased most places for $16.99 to $18.99 and be found at your local Bev-Mo or favorite grocery outlet and really good with a little chill on the bottle.

Prosciutto-Sage Crusted Pork Tenderloin was paired with Ravenswood Old Vine Zin  a densely packed nose which exhibited rich black raspberry notes, accompanied by the scents of freshly made summer fruit jam, creating a nice mouth feel. This wine can be purchased again from your local Bev-Mo from $9.99 to $14.99 and most likely can be found at many local grocery outlets as well I scored this wine 87 points.
This pairing was pulled off wonderfully, the half cup of sherry and sage called for in the recipe really tied to these two elements together. I heartily recommend this pairing and it of course doesn't have to be with this Zinfandel, but I believe any "old-vine" zin would work with this combination. Old vines are typically vineyards which are typically 30 years or older and you will find more concentrated juice being derived from these vines.

Chocolate and Chorizo Toast this recipes is easy and was suggested as the dessert but could easily be
converted to the role of appetizer in the blink of an eye. This item was also paired with the Ravenswood Old Vine Zinfandel and I thought it was a good pairing and enjoy the interactions of the sweet characteristics of the Zin, the chocolate and zesty notes from the Chorizo. You do need to have one of those long thin baguettes and is really just regarded as the blank slate for the yummy goodness that can be piled on top. Regarding the pairing, I believe if you had a few ounces of after-dinner Tawny Port, that it could be equally winetastic or possibly a even be a better pairing, either way I did totally enjoy it.

Remember wine and food pairing is an adventure, but if you would like a basic outline or guide here's a link
to the Basic Principles of Successful Food-Wine Pairing, click here.

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