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Fall Back

Castello di Amorosa - Napa Valley - Fri, 10/31/2014 - 03:08

Shorter days have arrived; the vineyard’s yellow tinged foliage marks the beginning of the end of another season. The grape vines now fall into a slumber until next spring when young buds will emerge and another harvest is in the making. Time marches on.

This Sunday clocks move forward one hour. Most people remember the changes with the catch phrase "spring forward, fall back," referring to the season when the changes take place. The U.S. government initially started Daylight Saving Time during World War I to save energy for wartime production. The federal government enacted Daylight Saving Time as a permanent change in 1966. In 2007, the time period was extended by four weeks as a means to save energy through longer daylight hours.

This means our days start and end earlier. Sunlight becomes a treat to be savored and quick night fall commands a need to bulk up-- sweaters and jackets make their yearly trek to and from the dry-cleaners, extra blankets are on the bed and shopping lists reflect a need for substance.

I was feeling a bit chilled last night as it dipped down to the low 60’s and I found no warming compassion from my Minnesota raised husband! As he was fixed on game 7 I put the finishing touches on a meal sure to warm us both. After a summer of imposed solitude and dormancy the oven was back in action, now generating welcome warmth and oozing with savory aromas permeating the house.

Game 7 ended with the Giants bringing it back by nabbing a 3rd World Series championship in 5 years!  We ended the evening with a great meal and a toast to the Giants, great champions and a beautiful fall. Without light there is no dark. Without cold, where lies the value of warmth? Without ‘fall back’ we would not ‘spring forward’.



World Series 2014 took the bay area to Kansas City which made me crave BBQ. The sauces found in KC are tomato-based, with sweet, spicy and tangy flavor profiles. My store bought sauce was a tad too sweet so I stirred in a bit of mustard and a dash of red pepper flake.

Fall back was perfect with yummy baby backs cooked low and slow paired with a real throw- back, one of my favorite wines produced at the Castello, 2006 Napa Valley Merlot. This Merlot was voted best of the vintage in Napa Valley and ageing perfectly. Secondary notes of dried herbs in the background but plush fruit and soft smoky plum up front, this is Merlot at its finest.

Categories: North America

Sponsoring the Blue Dot Tour

David Suzuki is a Canadian icon. I have known of him as a public figure since elementary school, and have always thought of him as a beloved national figure. But in recent years I have come to understand that he is considered a little controversial by some - that not everyone shares his point of view as I do.

In recent years, Summerhill has developed a professional relationship with the David Suzuki Foundation, beginning with the launch of our Alive Organic Wine series. When asked to provide in kind sponsorship to support the Blue Dot Tour, we did not hesitate for a second.

David Suzuki's message is brilliant and simple and true: Every Canadian should have the right to a healthy environment. We're proud to support his efforts out on the road, getting the message out there and hopefully starting a national debate on this bold and righteous premise.

Hope to see you there!



Categories: North America

Spooky Tea Sandwiches for Halloween

Spooky Tea Sandwiches for Halloween

Boo! That’s the sound of your tea sandwich jumping off the serving board at this Friday’s Halloween cocktail and wine party. Don’t worry, that ricotta-topped ghost won’t really scare you but it might freak out the black bean cats and bats and the hummus-topped pumpkins beside it.

Yes, I’ve taken my love for crostini (just another word for open-faced tea sandwiches) to a spooky level.

See, I’ve long been a proponent of serving a mixed platter of crostini at parties. By including a few different toppings, you’re likely to please everyone. The light eaters can craze, and the hungry folks can treat each morsel like one small plate in a many-plated meal.


Today, I’ve gone further. I picked up a set of Halloween-themed cookie cutters and used them to turn plain white bread into the base of themed crostini. For toppings, I brainstormed the right colors for each shape: black (black beans) for the cats and bats, white (ricotta and lemon) for the ghosts, and orange (squash hummus) for the pumpkins. Capers, nuts, chives and other fridge staples came to the rescue for eyes and stems and whatnot. Even better, decorating the bread was truly fun, almost as much fun as trick-or-treating.

Halloween Tea Sandwiches by Big Girls Small Kitchen

But not as much fun as hosting an adult-style Halloween party, complete with plenty of wine!

I love these–especially the ricotta ghosts–with a cool glass of K-J AVANT Sauvignon Blanc. And I bet both wine and food will taste best when I’m dressed up to match.

Read on to see how to make Halloween Crostini, and be sure to visit Big Girls, Small Kitchen or follow along on Twitter and Instagram for more accessible and delicious recipes!



Spooky Halloween Tea Sandwiches

You’ll likely have leftovers of each spread–but they’re delicious served with pita or potato chips, so enjoy the extras! You can make all the spreads up to 2 days in advance.
Print Spooky Tea Sandwiches for Halloween Author: Cara Eisenpress Serves: 40 Pieces   You'll likely have leftovers of each spread--but they're delicious served with pita or potato chips, so enjoy the extras! You can make all the spreads up to 2 days in advance. Ingredients

  • For the sandwiches
  • 2 loaves of thinly sliced bread (White Pepperidge Farm works great)
  • Assorted small foods for decoration, like capers, sesame seeds, minced chives, and pine nuts
  • 2-inch Halloween-themed cookie cutters (I used pumpkins, cats, bats, and ghosts)
  • For the squash hummus
  • 1 small delicata squash, cut in half with seeds scooped out
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • 1 15-ounce can white beans
  • 1 clove garlic
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric
  • juice of half a lemon
  • For the black bean dip
  • 1 garlic clove
  • ½ small shallot
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 chipotle chili, plus 1 tbsp adobo sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon chili powder
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • For the lemony ricotta
  • 1 cup fresh ricotta
  • juice of half a lemon
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  1. First, cut the bread into shapes. You can do one or many, depending on your guest count and preferences. Arrange the bread shapes in a single layer on several baking sheets.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Toast the bread shapes for 10 to 15 minutes, turning once, until the bread feels crusty to the touch. Set aside. You can do this a few hours in advance, to save time closer to the party.
  3. Make the squash hummus: Place the squash on a baking sheet and brush with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until the squash is easily pierced with a fork. Scoop out the flesh and add to a food processor with the white beans, garlic, paprika, turmeric, lemon juice, salt, and 3 tablespoons olive oil. Process until very smooth. Adjust the color, adding more paprika and turmeric as needed to make the dip truly orange. Then, adjust the taste, adding salt and lemon juice as needed. Set aside til you're ready to decorate.
  4. Make the black bean dip: Combine all the ingredients plus ¼ of a cup of warm water in a small food processor. Puree until smooth and creamy, then taste for salt and add more if needed. Set aside til you're ready to decorate.
  5. Make the lemony ricotta: In a small mixing bowl, combine the ricotta, lemon, lemon zest, and honey. Set aside til you're ready to decorate.
  6. No more than 1 hour before the party, carefully decorate the bread shapes with the various dips. Cover the pumpkin stems with chives, and use capers or nuts for the eyes on the cats, bats, and ghosts. Arrange on platters and serve! (After a few hours, the bread will get a bit soft, so don't leave these out too long.)

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The post Spooky Tea Sandwiches for Halloween appeared first on Kendall-Jackson Blog.

Categories: North America

Novas Sauvignon Blanc 2014

Viñedos Emiliana - Chile - Wed, 10/29/2014 - 15:52

90 Points
Ranking Mejores Vinos Colchagua, Descorchados 2015

Categories: South America

Signos de Origen Carmenère 2011

Viñedos Emiliana - Chile - Wed, 10/29/2014 - 15:51

90 Points
Ranking Mejores Vinos Colchagua, Descorchados 2015

Categories: South America

Novas Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

Viñedos Emiliana - Chile - Wed, 10/29/2014 - 15:48

90 Points
Ranking Mejores Vinos Colchagua, Descorchados 2015

Categories: South America

Signos de Origen Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

Viñedos Emiliana - Chile - Wed, 10/29/2014 - 15:46

91 Points
Ranking Mejores Vinos Colchagua, Descorchados 2015

Categories: South America

Gê 2011

Viñedos Emiliana - Chile - Wed, 10/29/2014 - 15:39

93 Points
Ranking Mejores Vinos Colchagua, Descorchados 2015

Categories: South America

Coyam 2012

Viñedos Emiliana - Chile - Wed, 10/29/2014 - 15:36

94 Points
Ranking Mejores Vinos Colchagua, Descorchados 2015

Categories: South America

"I am what I eat"

Shaw + Smith - Balhannah, South Australia - Wed, 10/29/2014 - 12:47

Michael Hill Smith is interviewed by Tony Love, Herald Sun (Melbourne) about "I am what I eat."

Find out why food for Michael was schizophrenic.. why he became a wine producer ....and one of his most memorable meals...

Click here to see the full article.

Categories: Oceania

Eat, Drink and Don’t Forget to Be Scary

Ponte Winery - Temecula, CA - Wed, 10/29/2014 - 08:00

You can’t escape it…holiday season is here.  Hard to believe with this never-ending summer we’re having out here in California, eh?  Alas, it all starts with Halloween witch which is just around the corner, fiends friends.  We of legal drinking age may not be able to get away with trick or treating anymore, but that doesn’t mean we don’t want to still celebrate, right?  Right!

Growing up, while my cousins and I would trick-or-treat around my godmother’s neighborhood, I remember the adults would hang out at the house.  There was food, drink and lots of gossip.  To my adolescent mind, I thought, “How boring Halloween gets when you grow up.”  I shook off the thought and returned to my chocolates.  In college, Halloween was just, well, a little ridiculous.  You remember, don’t you?  Terribly inappropriate costumes, lots of liquor, and what the heck happened to the candy? Not exactly my cup of tea.  When I moved to Pittsburgh, Halloween got fun again for my adult self.  I lived in a neighborhood which saw hundreds of kids in costume pass through.  Instead of waiting inside for the doorbell to ring again, the adults set up camp on their stoops, buckets of candy in one hand, glasses of wine in the other.  We oohed and ahhed over the cute costumes, we chatted with the parents and we drank wine!  Once the kids started to dwindle down, we walked the neighborhood, greeting neighbors, sharing the last of what was in our wine bottles.   It was, I don’t know, fun in a grown up sort of way.  Oh yeah, we ate all the leftover candy, too.  While I thought I’d outgrown Halloween forever (or at least until I had kids), I found myself looking forward to the next one.  Back in the spirit again, I began making themed dinners on All Hallows Eve and shaking up spooky cocktails.  Just goes to show we’re never too old to eat, drink and be a little scary.


There are tons of creative and fun ways to get your family to eat a wholesome dinner on Halloween.  There’s the classic “worms and eyeballs”, aka, spaghetti and meatballs.  Mom and dad will appreciate this crowd-pleaser with Ponte 2011 Sangiovese (the name refers to “blood,” hee hee).

Speaking of pasta, if you want to do something a little different, consider black and orange spaghetti.  Black pasta (pasta colored with squid ink) isn’t all that difficult to find anymore.  Prepared with orange ingredients like squash and orange peppers and flavored with garlic, it begs to be served on the country’s scariest holiday.  We like this recipe, found here.  Try it with 2014 Torrontes.

Of course, anything with lots of garlic is always appropriate…you know, to keep away the vampires.  Be warned: you just might keep away everyone else so keep your mints handy.  We recommend: Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic with 2013 Chardonnay; Garlic Cheese Bread with 2013 Vermentino.


Any red wine, will work, of course, because you can just claim it to be “goblin blood” or some other hideous name.  Mulled wine which you can call “witches brew” is always fun.  Or go for a simple grown up wine punch dubbed “poisonous potion” made with red wine, brandy, orange liqueur and lemons.  Serve it up over ice. If bubbles are your thing, pick up some blood orange juice and a bottle of our 2013 Moscato.  Voila, you’ve got the essentials for a blood orange mimosa.

Be Scary

Our Wine Production Manager, Jayna, adores Halloween and goes all out for the October 31st occasion.  She’s come up with 3 easy ways to decorate for the festivities and repurpose wine bottles at the same time.

First, re-label wine bottles with creepy labels.  Free silhouette labels that you can print on your home computer are widely available.  Once printed, cover up the existing wine label on the bottle.  Serve your toxic tonics to unsuspecting guests.

Have more empty wine bottles than full?  Excellent! You can turn them into sinister candle holders.  Simply spray paint the bottles with matte black and place black taper candles in them.  Get the kids involved by letting them draw scary eyes on them with chalk.

And finally, for a little more haunt, fill your empty bottles with tonic water, liquid laundry detergent or highlighter ink and shine a black light on the bottles for a glowing effect.  Add some gummy worms or spiders to create scary specimen bottles.

We hope you have a safe and Happy Halloween this year!  Yes, the winery and hotel will be open and, yes, we welcome costumes!

–Erica Martinez

–Wine bottle repurposing ideas from Jayna Viereck

Categories: North America

Star Wars Halloween party photos and drink recipes

Jordan Winery - Healdsburg, California - Tue, 10/28/2014 - 20:14
Last Saturday night, we hosted our most ambitious Halloween party to date: The Chateau Strikes Back, a “Star Wars” themed event. Todd and Nitsa Knoll, our dynamic culinary duo, and their staff created an energizing, authentic ambiance, replete with Jabba the Hutt, Jar Jar Binks, Boba Fett, Storm Troopers and other life-size characters. Our Flickr [...]
Categories: North America

New Release: 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon from Santa Barbara Winery

Winemaker’s comments: Primarily from Happy Canyon, the warmest Appellation in Santa Barbara County and very well suited to Bordeaux varieties. The Petit Verdot adds depth and dark fruit roundness. All of the components macerated on the skins for 48-55 days before pressing. The result is a wine of complex tannins with stucture and intensity. Retail […]
Categories: North America

The Difference Between “Single Site” Wine and Multiple Site Wine

What’s the Difference Between “Single Site” Wine and Wine Blended from Multiple Sites?

Fans of Kendall-Jackson know that the winery has several tiers of wine, from the Vintner’s Reserves with a California appellation to bottlings like Jackson Estate, which highlight our estate vineyards from more specific appellations.

Take, for example, two of our Chardonnays, the Vintner’s Reserve (California appellation, $17) and the Piner Hills (Russian River Valley, $35). Besides the price, what makes them different? Is the Piner Hills “twice as good” as the Vintner’s Reserve?

Complicated question. How much you choose to spend is a choice, and, as with all choices, there’s subjectivity involved. There’s no right or wrong; no good or bad, just the choice you make. And there’s a place, over time, for everything. So I can’t tell you whether or not the Piner Hills is “worth it” compared to the Vintner’s Reserve, because only you can decide.

What I can explain is how the Piner Hills (or any vineyard-designated wine) is different from one that’s been blended from multiple vineyards, as the Vintner’s Reserve wines are.

There’s a huge benefit to blending: any single vineyard, in any given year, may have deficiencies. The wine made from it may be too sharp, or too tannic, or too light. When you have the resource of thousands of acres of vineyards across California’s best growing regions, as we do, you have a palette of colors from which to blend a wine that’s wholesome and balanced. That’s why Vintner’s Reserve wines are so consistent every year.

On the other hand, single-vineyard wines offer the consumer the opportunity to experience that vineyard’s terroir. We all know that the word terroir is hard to define, but think of it like this: the terroir, or physical properties, of any vineyard is totally unlike that of any other vineyard, because no two places on earth are identical (just as no two human beings are identical). Just as humans can have good and bad qualities, so too vineyards can be good or bad, so the fact that a bad one has terroir is not enough to recommend it! But no Kendall-Jackson wine will ever bear a vineyard designation unless our Master Winemaker, Randy Ullom, personally signs off on it — and we don’t even consider vineyards unless they consistently produce wines of the highest quality.

In other words, a vineyard-designated wine from Kendall-Jackson is about as guaranteed a pedigree as you can get. It will show off that vineyard’s (and vintage’s) character, and in all likelihood be more complex than a Vintner’s Reserve. Still, when all is said and done, it’s not fair to compare the two. There are times, and foods, when you’ll want a V.R., and other times and foods when you’ll want a Grand Reserve of Jackson Estate.

After twenty-five years as a wine critic, I can tell you that a wine that costs twenty times more than another isn’t necessarily twenty times better! What does that even mean, anyway? Is the view from the top of Half Dome “better” than the view of San Francisco from the Golden Gate Bridge? Is either view “better” than the sight of your new baby smiling at you with sparkling eyes?

Steve Heimoff is one of America’s most respected and well-known wine writers. The former West Coast Editor for Wine Enthusiast Magazine and a contributor to Wine Spectator, he has also authored two books on the subject of California wine, including “New Classic Winemakers of California: Conversations with Steve Heimoff,” published in the fall of 2007.


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Categories: North America

It’s all in the preparation…

Seresin Estate - Marlborough, New Zealand - Tue, 10/28/2014 - 02:23

Biodynamics is a system and philosophy of farming that recognises the soil and entire farm as a living organism.  The respect for and care of the soil plays a prominent role. The biodynamic preparations form the cornerstone of biodynamic activity, and create balance and health in our soils and plants. We use a range of eight preparations within our farm and vineyards. One of the most important of these is Preparation 500. This is made when cows’ manure is buried inside a cow’s horn over winter, and then stirred into rainwater at body temperature to form a vortex before being applied to the vineyard by hand. This stimulates soil bacteria and fungi, improving soil structure and microbiological activity. Three of our vineyard interns have been helping us make this and spread it across our entire vineyard…
David Wright, Farnham, UKThe digging up and application of preparation 500 marks the rejuvenation of life in the land and the beginning of a new growth cycle. For me it represents the intentions of the human custodians of the land to be aware of, and understand, the rhythms of nature to manage it productively. Unearthing the horns was a very thorough and insightful process and the myriad life forms that came up with them sparked many thoughtful discussions. Everyone that makes their living from Seresin vineyards was involved in the stirring and broadcasting of the 500. Together we covered every inch of every property, walking the flats, hills, creeks and pastures from angles I hadn’t seen before. This gave me a new perspective that cannot be gained from the cab of a tractor, a focus on the details that only comes when you give it a chance. I came away feeling good about the season ahead and confident that I had conveyed this positive message to the land.

Rose Capriola, CaliforniaMy very first 500 experience proved to be an energizing one for the body, mind, and soul.  As we stood and stirred wilfully, I couldn’t help but notice the beautiful diversity of our participants, all brought together to inoculate the land with the spirit of biodynamics.   We flowed as a group through the vines, spreading our 500 and cow pat pit mixture with the flicks of our wrists, gaining momentum as we walked.  Smiles dawned on faces and the enjoyment was palpable.  Through this experience I was again reminded of the value of the ‘we’ in biodynamics and of the wonderful impact our community can have on the land that we tend to joyfully.  
Charlotte Javelle, Saint-Etienne, FranceEven after 9 months at Seresin I’m still impressed by people’s involvement. The 500 experience was a great lesson in openness and sharing.  Barrels, sticks, water, Preparation 500… everything needs to be ready for the “ceremony”. Everybody gave a little bit of himself stirring the preparation during one hour and trying to make the best vortex ever! Even the children participated with keen interest and happiness. Then, buckets and brushes in hand, the preparation was sprayed across all of the property.
Laughing and singing animated these afternoons. It’s amazing how this act can combine a range of different nationalities, ages and cultures. Maybe we should use cow poo and water everywhere in this world to bring more respect, peace and well-being! I really think that the land is able to feel and memorise all the love, all the human implication and all the energy brought by people. Thereby it can give us the best quality in our grapes and olives.

Categories: Oceania

Autumn Vineyard Photo Essay

Tablas Creek Vineyard - Paso Robles CA - Mon, 10/27/2014 - 21:12

The grapes are all off the vines.  The days are shorter, with a lower sun angle.  We just avoided our first frost of the year here last night, and tonight is supposed to be just as chilly.  The weather pattern is transitioning, and each storm front makes it a little further south.  On Saturday, we actually got a few sprinkles.  Next weekend we're forecast to see measurable precipitation.  It's all hopeful for a vineyard (and a region) struggling under three years of drought.

In the near term, the vines are responding to the changing season by losing chlorophyll and letting the colors hidden by the green all year come out.  It doesn't last long, but it's spectacular while it does.  Here are a few shots I got this morning, starting with a photo from the center of our head-trained Tannat block, looking up at Grenache Blanc (on the left) and Syrah (on the right):

S & GB behind T

A closeup of some of the Tannat leaves:

Tannat leaves

And one of the Tannat second crop clusters, that never ripened enough to be harvested, and are now food for our local birds:

Second Tannat crop

In the vineyard, we're applying compost, so that as the rains come this winter, it will be absorbed into the soil and provide for next year's nutrition.  That compost sits beside one of the casualties of the late-summer fruit thinning we do to ensure that what we harvest has good concentration:

Compost & Cover Crop

I was struck by the complimentary colors of the vineyard and those of the new chicken coop we've installed in a section of head-trained Roussanne.  I love the "max occupancy" note painted above the door:


And finally, one more photo of the vineyard itself, this time looking up through Syrah, which I think catches the feel of this newly rebalanced season, neither summer nor winter yet, lacking the vibrant green of active growth but before the incipent frosts take away the leaves entirely, and feeling somehow both cool and warm at the same time:

Through Syrah

If you have the chance to make it out to Paso Robles in this season, you're in for a treat.  It never lasts long, but it's a wonderful backdrop while it's here.

Categories: North America

Tim Atkin on Jones Blanc 2013

Domaine Jones - Languedoc, France - Mon, 10/27/2014 - 10:38
Focused, herbal, pithy white from the talented Katie Jones, who is making ground-breaking wines in the Languedoc-Roussillon. There are notes of nutmeg spice, citrus and pear on this beautifully framed dry white, with a bone dry, almost saline finish. 91 points
Thanks Tim for this great review and 91 points, very honored to be called 'ground breaking' - to read more from Tim 
Categories: Europe

Wine and Food Pairing: Think Differently

Ponte Winery - Temecula, CA - Mon, 10/27/2014 - 08:00

When it comes to wine and food pairing to those who are wine drinkers, the jury is out.  On one hand are those who think that wine and food pairing “rules” are to be strictly observed, and on the other side are those wine drinkers who could care less. No matter where your opinion lies, the reality of it is, some wine just tastes better with certain foods. The first step is learning the basics.

Wine and food pairing?  It’s a cinch

There are some basic guidelines that you can apply when planning your meal, whether it’s a dinner at home, or trying to search for the perfect wine on a restaurant wine list.  Typically when planning a meal, one thinks of the meal first and the wine second, which is just fine.  Now instead of thinking of the flavors in the food (and the accompanying wine) try thinking of the weight.  Is the food light, medium or hearty?  Is the food raw, baked or grilled? Is the sauce thin, medium or rich?  You want to balance the weight of the wine with the weight of the food. A light weight wine will get lost when paired with a heavier dish.   Notice the first guideline does not state “red with red, white with white.”  The old saying that you should serve red wine with red meat or red sauce, and white wine with white meat or white sauce is outdated.  Today there are great light-bodied red wines that will accompany grilled chicken, and wonderful heavy bold white wines that can stand up to heartier, more seasoned fare.  Light example: Chicken and vegetable soup with Ponte’s  2013 Vermentino.   Heavy example:  The Restaurant’s Beef Braciole and Ponte’s 2011 Super T.

The second factor in selecting a wine is flavor intensity. With more intense flavors in your dish, you will need more intense flavors in your wine, otherwise your wine will taste watered-down.  Match delicate to delicate, robust with robust.  Example: The complicated flavors of Thai Yellow Curry would be excellent with the flavorful and slightly robust Ponte 2013 Chardonnay.

A robust meal like grilled steak with chimichurri sauce calls for a robust wine, like Ponte Malbec.

Another great way to pair a wine with food is to think about the origin of the food and wine. Traditionally red wines from Italy taste fantastic with Italian fare. Makes sense, doesn’t it?  Regions which consume lots of tomato-based dishes need a wine that compliments the high acid of tomato sauces, so the winemakers respond to the need.  Burgundy wines go great with Burgundy foods like of slow cooked meats and stews. White and rose wines are very popular in coastal areas because they pair beautifully with seafood dishes!  See, it’s not rocket science after all!

Italian Margarita pizza with Italian Sangiovese wine

When it comes to sweets, there are a few other considerations. Sweetness in food will increase the bitterness, acidity and astringency in any wine. You can taste this when you pair an off-dry, fruity rose wine with a sweeter dessert. The wine on its own shows its character of fruit and subtle sweetness, but displays tart, bitter, astringent flavors with no real fruit when tasted after a sweet dessert.  Sweet foods also decrease the body, richness, sweetness and fruit in the wine.  While this may seem to pose a problem, the guideline with desserts is actually very simple: Make sure your wine is sweeter than your dessert. Example: The Restaurant’s Pot of Crème dessert with Ponte’s 2009 Zinfandel Port.

Now that you know the guidelines, remember, as with all guidelines in life, there is wiggle room. Take a risk and you may discover something great.  You may make some twisted faces on the ones that don’t work, but you also may miss out on a pairing that makes the meal all the more spectacular if you don’t try new things here and there.

Let us know what you come up with!

–Jayna Viereck, Wine Production Manager

Categories: North America

Winemaker’s Madeleine

Westwood Winery - Sonoma, CA - Mon, 10/27/2014 - 07:32

Fall ColorWoke up to a crisp morning after rain yesterday. The smell of Autumn is in the air. Smells at the winery are reaching their seasonal end also. Thursday I pressed off my last wine lot of the 2014 vintage, the Cabernet I’m making with Marcel that we macerated for 37 days. Completing the work of harvest usually provokes me to reflection, if not melancholy.

Proust — that pedantic f**k — bit into his madeleine and pressed his readers to recognize that time is never really lost. This morning one of my favorite wine slingers and writers in the world, Samantha Dugan, asked the question of what top three aromas evoke memories of happy childhood. In response I tossed back the first three that popped into my head, but I’ve been thinking of many others ever since.

  • I swear in dreams I remember the smell of my mom when she held me as a very small child: the artificial freshness of Prell and Hair Net, the floral complexity of her favorite perfume L’air du Temps which she knew to wear lightly when she was young, and under all the warm natural sweetness of her skin.
  • When I was very young I lived with my grandparents in North Hollywood for several years. The smell of my father’s mother’s kitchen in the morning will always be with me: coffee, bacon, buttermilk biscuits or cinnamon cake cooking in a gas oven, syrup warming on the stove, fresh orange juice, the smell of a newspaper at the table mingled with fresh-cut grass smells coming in the open windows, cigarette smoke on my grandpa, and hints of old linoleum underfoot.
  • My grandparents’ home had a huge sycamore out front. The weirdly aromatic, papery, spicy smell of sycamore leaves in the morning was more powerful even than cut grass, or the incipient smog that would become oppressive in the heat of the day and into the evening. My grandma always hung out the laundry early in the day, the detergent smell of wet clothes as they dried supplanted with hints of those sycamores.
  • The ice cream truck that came through the neighborhood, it seemed daily, had a smell of melting frost and the promise of popsicles. But it was nothing compared to the power of the Charles Chips truck that came by every week with a warmer drawer full of donuts: yeasty dough, fragrant grease, sugary glaze, chocolate, and caramel made a heady, potent mix that to this day evokes a slavering response from my inner child.
  • My disciplined grandpa smoked two cigarettes a day, and sipped a single Old Fashioned in the evening when he returned from his daily walk to say the Rosary. I remember the smells of Old Spice aftershave, tobacco, Bourbon and maraschino cherries fondly. Even more fondly I remember that he occasionally smoked a pipe. He kept several aromatic tobaccos, a collection of briars — one always new — a calabash, and a meerschaum in a cabinet in the study off the main house, a room that had been my father’s when he was a boy. When no one else was around I would take the pipes out of the cabinet to hold them, but really to smell them.
  • I spent less time at my mother’s mother’s more formal home. I recall smells of leather and lacquered furniture, wool carpets over creaky wood floors, vaguely musty drapes, and the sweet spicy and fruity promise of hard candies she kept in a covered ruby glass dish in her den. I recall the warm goodness of gingerbread cake and oatmeal cookies from her kitchen. And cigarettes, which would eventually claim her life. But most strongly I remember the aromas we kids generated when we ran around in her front yard chasing skinks. Her yard was not planted to turf but was covered instead with a food-deep growth of broad-leaf ivy. I can almost taste the sharp vegetal pungency our steps would raise from bruising the purple ivy stems, and the rich loamy mushroom smell from the decay underneath.
  • I have a very sharply-limned memory of my first airplane trip. My mother, my younger brother, and I were flying from Texas to meet my father in Venezuela where he had been sent to live and work. I recall we had an overnight layover, probably in Miami, and our hotel room faced the end of the airport runway. I sat for hours on the balcony that night watching and listening to the 707s taking off right over our heads, drenching me with the smell of jet fuel and exhaust — truly unforgettable.
  • When I was older our family would drive from Houston to Southern California nearly every summer to vacation with family. I remember smells from those long drives: if the forever views in the southern deserts have a smell it is a combination of hot vinyl upholstery, hot asphalt, unburned gasoline and diesel exhaust, dust, mesquite, and sometimes the faint, far-off, and surprisingly pleasant smell of skunk.
  • When we stayed with family in the Valley we would drive to the beaches several times a week: Santa Monica to Malibu. To this day any smell of eucalyptus or bay evokes strong memories of early-morning drives through Laurel or Topanga Canyons, or on Kanan-Dume. The smells of the beach are forever with me: salt spray, ozone, washed-up kelp and small bits of decaying sea life, and always Coppertone, Coppertone, Coppertone on the hot sweet skin of all of us – me, my siblings, and my beautiful cousins from Tarzana.
  • My mother’s father built a home and planted an orchard of citrus and avocado in the hills north of Escondido, near Jesmond Dene Road about a mile east and above Highway 15. My siblings, my Montana cousins, and I roamed that place like wild savages. We hunted and trapped rabbits, and I have good memories of the smells of the dusty dirt road along the flume, gunpowder, and salted pelts drying in the sun.
  • Grandad had a huge shop where he let us make things using power tools and exotic hardwoods, wrench on his old pickup truck, even repaint it, where the pungent aromas of fresh sawdust, of greases, solvents, and paints were deeply ingrained in me. He paid us a little to do chores — mostly picking fresh fruit or cleaning up the fallen stuff before it rotted too badly. Those citrus smells are good memories.
  • But the best and strongest memory of Grandad’s place came from a daily chore we fought over: washing the red dust off the hot painted concrete driveway, with mineral-laden well water at high pressure through a brass nozzle on a thick red rubber hose. Each one of those elements had a distinct, intensely evocative smell, all are intertwined in my memory.
  • I have fewer great smell memories from my childhood in Texas, but there are some. My dad was an engineer and he would at times take me with him to the steel fab shop, the oilfield, the refinery, the ship channel. The oil industry has left me with good memories of the smells of its associated aromas, even of the “bad” smells. Along these lines of appreciating chemical aromas, I liked the smell of the mosquito fogger truck that roamed our neighborhood at dusk, rumbling, growling, and belching clouds of thin, billowy, sweet-smelling death.
  • We lived in a neighborhood of old ranch houses on big parcels covered with oak trees, and every fall all the neighbors would rake dead leaves into big piles and we’d have fragrant bonfires evening after evening. A couple blocks from home there was a bayou surrounded by a wooded nature preserve, redolent with the fresh smells of pines and oaks after rain, and the mustiness of humid decay. We played there nearly every day as children after school, and got up to trouble there well into our teens.
  • My dad was an avid hunter, and from a young age took us out for ducks and geese in the rice fields west of Houston, or for quail, dove, deer, javelina farther afield in central Texas or near the Mexican border at Del Rio. I can hardly begin to describe the complex aromas associated with these hunts, ranging from the close proximity of unwashed humans sharing tents and cabins, to the wild aromatics of mesquite and chaparral, to the funky musk of game on the hoof that I could track by smell without a dog, to the warm, wet saline funky heat of dressing out a kill, to the chemical complexity of cleaning and lubricating firearms.
  • A lot of my good smell memories from this time were amplified by simply getting out of the heat and humidity attendant to living in Houston. There were very few private pools in our neighborhood — two that I remember: our neighbors across the street had a small one and a couple down the block where I house sat when I was older had one indoors (years later I was told that that house had been a porn set before the couple I knew bought it, bit of a shocker in those days) — but we belonged to a swim club and a tennis club that had large pools. The smell of chlorinated pool still washes me with remembered pleasure.
  • My mother was a student of the arts, and often took us to museums, concert halls and especially libraries — each with their own characteristic smells that I at least partly associated with the pleasure of getting out of the heat.
  • Mom was not a particularly adventuresome cook — as I recall it, nobody else was at that place and time either. She made one dish fairly often whose aroma evokes pleasurable memories: a casserole of chicken and rice with curry and raisins.
  • Sundays were special because dad would cook homemade buttermilk pancakes with warm syrup, Jimmy Dean sausage patties cut from that plastic tube, and broiled canned peaches with cinnamon and brown sugar — all good smell memories that harkened back to his mother’s kitchen. In the afternoons we’d watch football on TV and he’d make his version of a “Dagwood” sandwich stacked high with cold cuts, fried slices of hotdogs and Spam, cheeses, and pickles (if he had cut back on the meats a little and had had a sandwich press, it would have made a credible Cubana). The smell of those sandwiches has stuck with me mostly because dad shared the sandwich, not because the smell was that great.
  • I will never forget my first sweet, savory, spicy, smoky smell of real Texas pit barbecue. And there was this deli a few miles from home that I tried to get my parents to take us to all the time that made a sliced roast beef sandwich the like of which I have not smelled or tasted since those days. If I ever encounter that particular smell and taste again, that could be my “madeleine” moment.
    • When, How, Why Wine?

      I grew up with wine as part of our family meal, having sips and small glasses regularly from a young age. Perhaps surprising given where my career path has taken me, I do not have any fond smell memories of wine from those early days. Not then, but I found them later when I was a surly, rebellious teen obsessed with the countercultural pushback against “authority” — tall, skinny, angry, with bad skin, nerdy glasses, and hair halfway down my back in defiance of my father and of school policy.

      The first wine I recall as a distinct life event was a bottle of Valpolicella that dad ordered when he dragged the family to a newly-opened Spanish restaurant where I had my first, revelatory taste of paella. I don’t remember the wine, but I remember the experience. And it triggered something in me that never tripped back.

      Later in that same era we took one of our last family vacations to California and rented a motorhome in Oceanside which we drove up the Coast Highway, ending up in Napa Valley and camping at Bothe State Park. My parents took surly young me along with them to visit at least a half dozen wineries over a couple days. From the get-go I was incensed to find that I would not be allowed to taste the wines with my parents — fine to do in Texas at the time, but against the law in California.

      But the smells, the smells! The wines, in their native environment, the smell of the barrels and old redwood tanks in the cellar all struck a deep chord in me. Maybe the experience was intensified by the anger, but from that point onward I was really interested in wine, not exactly obsessed, but focused. And that is what eventually led me to choose UC Davis as the uni where I would do my doctoral work — the fact of UCD’s proximity to wine country.

Categories: North America

DIY: Halloween Wine Charms

DIY Halloween Wine Charms

Hi there! Kimberly from A Night Owl Blog here, back to share a fun and easy wine DIY with you for this holiday season – these DIY Halloween Wine Charms!

Are you hosting a Halloween party this year? If so, a great variety of wine is a must. And if you’re like me and like to customize decor and more for your parties, then this easy afternoon project is just for you! I grabbed everything I needed at a local hobby store, mostly from the jewelry making section.

Little bottlecap charms, resin and wire set the foundation for the wine charms, while the glitter and buttons you find will allow you to customize! For Halloween, I found cute candy corn buttons and spooky spiders that I knew would be perfect! But you can choose any button or small token that you think would fit your party theme the best.


  • Jewelry resin
  • Jewelry charms
  • Festive buttons
  • Glitter (various colors)
  • Earring wire
  • Wire cutters (opt)

DIY Halloween Wine Charms

And the steps:

  1. Mix together your jewelry resin according to the instructions on the package. I had to push to combine two tubes and mix in a small cup.
  2. Then fill your charm half way with resin, sprinkle in glitter and stir. Depending on how many different types of buttons you have, you’ll want to alternate the glitter colors so that each charm is unique!
  3. So that it would lay flush in the charm, I used wire cutters to cut off the back of the button.
  4. Then I simply popped the button in to the charm with the resin.
  5. I allowed the first layer to dry for a couple of hours, then I added more resin once the button was set, to fill in the charm.
  6. The hardest part is waiting! Depending on your resin, you may have to wait 4-6 hours for the charms to dry.
  7. Once they are dry, simply string an earring wire through the top and they’re ready for use!

And the result? Fun and festive DIY Halloween Wine Charms! Perfectly customized for your Halloween soiree!

DIY Halloween Wine CharmsDIY Halloween Wine CharmsDIY Halloween Wine Charms

It honestly was a fun project to put together and you could do it too in just one afternoon! And just think of all the customization options. What would you create?

DIY Halloween Wine Charms

For more fun DIYs, keep up with us on Pinterest.


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The post DIY: Halloween Wine Charms appeared first on Kendall-Jackson Blog.

Categories: North America


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