The Paris Wine Tasting of 1976, also known as the "Judgement of Paris," really changed the wine world's perception of California wine. Recently we embarked with some friends on a "passport" tasting that was offered from five of the California wineries represented at the Judgement of Paris. I typically don't do these type of events but I found myself relaxing in the environs and getting to know these wineries' offerings better. In the end, it was great to experience the wines on premises and in their environment. Here are my thoughts on the wines from each of the wineries we visited:
So here are my overall rankings......
For the last six months we have found ourselves down in Los Angeles many times and finally discovering the good food that can be found down in LA-LA land. LA is much different culinarily speaking then I remember from many years back (or maybe we just never found what was good).
Top three things great about food in LA:
We are looking forward to enjoying more great eats in LA. If you have a favorite AND has a great wine selections let me know.
Super Bowl is a day for gathering and watching a good matchup, laughing at new commercials and of course... it is all about the food and wine. This year a good friend dropped by to see us for the day's festivities. Of course, it helped that he is a chef and he wanted to show my hubby how to make sausage. And so we did!!
I am in two book clubs but yet still read many more books than that in a month. How you ask with a busy schedule? The secret is audiobooks. Everytime I exercise I am listening to a book. Three of my recent reads would be fantastic for a book club for they not only have great content to discuss but lend themselves to some terrific entertaining themes.
Circling the Sun by Paula McLain
This is by far the best book I have read this year. If you loved “The Paris Wife” then you will love this book. In an NPR interview she said, “It is my fate to illuminate the lives of these one-of-a-kind notable women that have been somehow forgotten by history.” Inspiration is coming from safaris and Champagne!
The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George, translated by Simon Pare
A charming book with heartfelt sentiment all with the backdrop of Paris and Southern France. Monsieur Perdu doles out books like a doctor to a patient. The books are medicine for what ails a particular person. I feel the same way about wine. When I consult people for wine choices I not only ask what food is being served I ask about what mood they are trying to establish.
Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal
I am almost finished reading this book and find it highly entertaining and reflective of today’s food obsessed lifestyles. I burst out laughing at a few points. If you are into food and wine this is a must read.
At Christmas my hubby came through with my 2nd favorite present (Favorite present of all times was a DVD of Babette’s Feast) of all times… a sous-vide immersion circulator. I had been wanting one for a few years but the price was ridiculous. But now that the price had come down a good friend led Joe straight to the path of success.
I posted a few pics on my personal FB page and when I ran into people everyone asked, “What is sous-vide? What is that contraption?”. Of course, one of my witty friends Scott thought it was some sort of marital aid and wondered what Joe was doing with his spare time but that is the farthest thing any truth there is. Sous-vide is a method of cooking food sealed in airtight plastic bags and then submerged in a temperature-controlled water bath.
The are a myriad of reasons why you should embrace this cooking:
The slide show I have attached is how you go about the process. Below are the links if you want to buy a setup. Trust me… you will not regret it. Just invite me over for dinner!
The immersion circulator: http://anovaculinary.com/products/anova
Vacuum Sealer: http://www.amazon.com/FoodSaver-GameSaver-Deluxe-Vacuum-Sealing/dp/B0018...
App (so you know how long to cook things): https://www.polyscienceculinary.com/sousvide-toolbox-iphone.php
There are a ton of recipes online that will help you get the hang of it.
We were so blessed to have a fantastic holiday season socializing with our loved ones, but it continued into the new year as there simply wasn’t enough time to get ALL the partying in. I offered to host (cleaning, location, and cooking only) a wine dinner with my friends and wine colleagues who ship my wines to you all year long. I thought, “Let’s go out with a bang!” And that's just what we did.
6 courses, 54 wineglasses, 14 bottles, 9 people, 6 loads for the dishwasher.
In the end, it was a glorious evening with some beautiful human beings! Ok… now it is time to start the diet.
Yes I am grateful for many things but let’s focus on Wine -Thanksgiving.
1) Thankful for the fact that many Americans fear Riesling. As a purveyor of fine wines this has been frustrating but at Thanksgiving I relish it for it means great deals for me. Rieslings can be the perfect pairing to many thanksgiving dishes. Its clean flavors and piercing acidity can cut through the weight of many t-day dishes.
2) Thankful for the many small winemakers around the world for being the true artisans they are. No way to fake it to make it in this arena.
3) Thankful for the awareness and education of wine to the populace. I remember back in 1997 nobody had really heard of a sommelier or knew what body or acid meant when it came to wine. Today, almost everyone I come in contact with has a base level of knowledge or wants to learn. I no longer speak a foreign language!
4) Thankful for having Wine Unleashed for 10 years and The Wine Wheel for 17 years and sold almost 3/4 of a million of those wheels. And VERY thankful for my partners in business to get to this point.
5) Thankful for the people I meet through wine. Of course I love meeting winemakers and people in the biz but I love meeting people through what type of wine the like to drink.
I am truly thankful for all that I have been blessed with but this is wine blog after all!
Yes. I am insane. Just want to be crystal clear on this. I can’t think of any other insane person I know (and I know a lot) that would host seven World Series viewing parties for 20 to 30 people. I am tired now just thinking about it. But hey, San Francisco is a first class food city with a first class baseball team. We have to party the SF way.
So how are we pulling this off? Well…..
Make it potluck. Not just any potluck: San Francisco potluck. It has to be organized and fun and the food must be no less than World Series caliber. Just in case the game goes bad, we can always talk about the food. I usually like to do everything myself but, hey, I might be insane but I am not stupid. It has to be potluck.
• Make themes and give guidance. Here is what I sent out to the guests for themes:
Game 1 - Tuesday 10/21 - Indian/Moroccan
- Camachos: Curried Chicken Salad with Roasted Carrots
- Suggestions: Samosas, naan, curry and rice, kebabs
Game 2 - Wednesday 10/22 - American Grill
- Camachos: salad and foie gras hamburgers
- Suggestions: you know…. meats, hot dogs whatever you want to grill
Game 3 - Friday 10/24 - Italian
- Camachos: spaghetti and meatballs
- Suggestions: caesar salad, antipasta, pizza etc
Game 4 - Saturday 10/25 - Southern
- Camachos: Fried Chicken
- Suggestions: red Beans, Rice salad, shrimp, tomato corn bread salad, black eye pea salad
If it is not a sweep then…..
Game 5 - Sunday 10/26 - English Pub
- Camachos: Shepherds Pie
- Suggestions: cheese, bangers, pasties, tomato and goat cheese tart
Game 6 - Tuesday 10/28 - Spanish
- Camachos: Arroz con pollo
- Suggestions: Spanish Tortilla, tapas, anything pork, salad with romesco dressing
Game 7 - Wednesday 10/29 - Undecided (one guest commented it should be Alka Seltzer night)
• Parameters for guests: MUST be completely obsessed with SF Giants AND MUST be completely obsessed with food/wine, and I have to feel comfortable that I know them well enough that if my hostessing skills slip that they will not be offended.
• Have a great team. I don’t know what I would do without my husband and my daughter. We all had our routines down. I would wash two loads before bed and two loads in the morning, wash all the linens, iron and wipe everything down. Hubby would take out all trash, sweep and mop, and chill down all the beverages. My daughter kindly helped the younger guests, ran errands and even made dinner on Sunday while I was at the opera.
• Pace yourself. It's not a 100-yard dash, it's a marathon.
• Let some of the normal details go. Usually I like to get everything for guests, but this really is a pitch-in and help yourself deal.
• Wines… for white I reached a lot for bright whites and a few guests brought their favorite chards. On the reds, I found that Syrahs were pretty much the workhorse for the task at hand. Pinots are too light and cabs were just too big. One client texted me, and said, "Opened the good hope wine in 6th..,tasted great and worked!!! “ Love that! She was referencing The Winery of Good Hope that I just shipped. We drank that one, too.
• My lord, can my friends cook! Amazing dishes were brought as people have really embraced the themes. I will post some of the highlights on FB.
• Sign up for boot camp right after the World Series… Seriously, seven days of partying is hard on the waistline.
GO GIANTS, and I hope you clinch it tonight!
How many times have you been running late to a party and ran back into the house when you realized you needed a hostess gift. You are finally back in the car, relieved that yes, you do have matching shoes on, and armed with a bottle of wine as a gift. My version usually continues like this…by the time we pull up to the party I am rethinking the quick grab. I should have grabbed a different bottle. Erg!
A little preplanning can help avert this situation. Here are a few questions I like to think about before making a selection. Yes, some are obvious but sometimes the obvious is overlooked.
1) Do they like wine and drink it? If they don’t enjoy wine, move on. Try olive oil instead or tequila or whatever the recipient is into.
2) Do you know of any preferences? Red, white, California only, anything but Chardonnay, etc.?
3) What is an appropriate price point? Is it a special event, 50th birthday, or just a casual dinner party? If I know it's a special occasion, I try to find a unique and more rare bottle. It doesn’t necessarily have to be expensive, but I put more thought into the style (more on that in a moment). If I'm joining a casual group of friends, I usually grab two bottles of $15 wines. Less of a story about the wine, but it helps keep the party going.
4) What is the personality of the person? I usually try to reflect on the person’s personality in the wine choice, from the style of wine to the varietal. For example, if I know the person is adventurous and travels, I try to find a lesser known varietal. If I know the person is quiet and mellow, I will usually reach for Pinot Noir, or conversely, if they are loud and laugh a lot I would probably reach for a Syrah.
5) Everybody likes a story. If you know something about the winemaker or specific wine, share it with the recipient in a card or when they are not rushed. I love to give Elisabetta’s wine to people--I feel there is a transference of good energy. When people bring me bottles I always love to hear their story for the selection. One friend, likes to say, “It is our current house favorite,” and the spouse follows up with, “It is the current one on sale.” Needless to say, not all the stories need to be serious ones.
6) Should the recipient open and share it with you that evening? I get this question quite a bit, and the answer is no. Never expect to have a bottle opened at the event or when you are around. If you really want to have a taste of the bottle you are giving, etiquette would have you call the host prior to the evening and ask if it would be ok to bring this particular bottle to share. When I'm the recipient, knowing that many people do not know this piece of etiquette, I will ask the giver (without actually looking in the bag or at the bottle) if this bottle is something they would like opened that evening. I do on occasion have people that have brought something they want to share and am happy to make everyone happy.
In the end, all wine is good, and it is better to share it amongst friends and family.
Angela Camacho, a certified sommelier and author of a best selling wine tool, The Wine Wheel®, shares her obsession with wine and food.