Category Archives: What We’re Drinking

Grilling: Cabernet, Rib Eye of Beef and beyond

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Right now I am thinking that I really would enjoy a perfectly grilled rib eye of beef (a similar cut to entrecôte in France). I can still remember the incredible one I enjoyed with my good friend Peter Chai at Restaurant Saint-Julien in Bordeaux many years ago. The kitchen produced a steak so bloody good that its memory remains indelible in my brain. On that day in the Médoc we drank a whole bottle of Bordeaux at lunch (well, I drank ¾ of the bottle). Now my palate years later is demanding that I re-create that moment from the past. This thought became more intense after I boarded a plane from Bordeaux just a day ago. I had just spent five days with judges from the Los Angeles International Wine Competition at the Bordeaux Le Fete (June 25th to 29th) drinking large glasses of Bordeaux (the Bordelais always pour huge glasses of wine for their guests and themselves) and melting into a blur of grilled meats and Bordeaux rouge.

If you love Cabernet Sauvignon, you have to go for the rib eye. With apologies to my vegan and vegetarian friends, rib eye and Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the world’s most perfect food and wine matches. Where is this leading? Grilling and BBQ  goes beyond all borders. While we in the United States have coined the phrase, “Barbecue- the great American pastime.” one just has to travel a bit and realize that this way of cooking can be found the world over.

It is safe to assume that every culture does a little bit of grilling. This popular way of cooking provides all of wine lovers with many pairing options. The choices that quickly come to mind are (and there are many more): Korean grilled (thinly sliced beef, marinated in a sweet soy-like sauce) with a dry to slightly sweet rosé. Argentine indirect grilling of beef- begging for a glass or two of Malbec,  I have enjoyed that many times in the vineyards of Mendoza in Argentina. How about grilled a whole chicken, a worldwide favorite? One could snag a fine California Pinot Noir and just melt into an easy chair in the backyard.

Now that the table has been set: How about a few wines to whet your appetite? Some folks in the wine world contend that I am a Napa boy. Well, yes I am really fond of wines from my backyard (Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino), yet my twitter and Instagram handle suggest otherwise. If you go by @willeboysf, you have to be  local and international at the same time. Having said that, one of my favorite wineries in the Napa Valley is Hall Wines and the 2011 Hall Cabernet is one to enjoy for this season’s grilling. A first choice with beef, but well suited with chicken and pork as well. Made from a cooler vintage, the wine’s edginess makes it more versatile than it would have been otherwise. When the super-rich and well-ripened 2012 is released, you will find the wine more suited for beef and heavier meat dishes. For partiers looking for something to dance on their palate and pair with a whole range of entreés, the 2013 Miraval Rosé Côtes de Provence has everything one would want. The wine is pleasing and gentle, with pretty red fruit flavors. Just imagine gnawing on a grilled chicken leg and washing it down with this wine. If you are into a sophisticated BBQ, I’d like to point you in the direction of the 2012 Sojourn Rodgers Creek Pinot Noir. This wine is awesome and delicious. Succulent and pure with lots of wild strawberries, it calls for grilled leg of lamb spiked with rosemary sticks, slathered with garlic and dotted with fresh cracked black pepper. Now take out the grill or buy a new one if you must, this is a good time to get the cooker ready and enjoy! While I am loading up my cellar with Cabernet Sauvignon and the weekly fridge with rib eye of beef, grilling offers so many possibilities. Make your days as yummiest as you can.

It’s bubbles for June, of course!

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What is so great about sparkling wines? Do they tickle our noses? Do they sparkle in our glasses? Are they fun to drink? Yes to all of the above and then some. For decades, bubbles in the glass have been used to toast, celebrate and dance the night away.  Now that we are in wedding season (June), sparkling wines and tying the knot are primed to be perfect partners.

Looking at the history of Champagne, Dom Pérignon (1638-1715), the monk and cellar master at the Benedictine abbey Hautvillers, is widely credited as one of the stars who helped improve the quality of Champagne. By the way, he did not invent or discover the champagne method, as some historians had implied. But without the good monk, the techniques of making sparkling wine may have taken a different path.

As a young wine professional, some 40 years ago, I found myself with one of the world’s finest Champagnes: Krug Grand Cuvée. By far one of my favorite sparkling wine memories. I just could not remember if the bottle or the room was spinning. All kidding aside, from Spanish Cava to Grand Cru Champagne, few wines provide smiles like a good bubbly. Sparkling and fun, there is a reason why they show up as invited guests at weddings, graduations (only for the adults, please) and other special moments. As I was looking at what to recommend, I found so many in my sweet spot that I couldn’t stop at three. I chose six that I felt needed to be showcased.

Bodegas Naveran Brut Cava 2011 is a sophisticated sparkler that is great when the whole family shows up and wants to dance the night away. Frisky, with appealing complexities, this is one of the best cavas in the marketplace. Also from Spain is the even more stylish Gramona Grand Cuvee Cava, dashing and almost handsome, this one is sure to sweep your guests off of their feet.

Going into one of the world’s secret sparkling wine regions, Adami Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Brut Bosco di Gica serves up seductive flavors reminiscent of the Champagne region of France. Many Americans enjoy drinking sparkling wines made in the USA and why not? Who can argue with the quality of the Domaine Carneros Brut 2009 or the Schramsberg Blanc de Noirs 2009? Time has already proven how outstanding both of those wines are. They taste delicious when they are released and age nicely over time.

You probably thought I forgot about Champagne from France!  Bruno Paillard Brut is one of the region’s finest. With plenty of fruit and complexity, this well balanced effort stands tall at the head of its class.

So go ahead and celebrate! Wine.com has sparkling wines from all over the world in a range of price points. You may also like to challenge the chef in the house to create a dish ideal for pairing with bubbles. You will be surprised how well it performs in a fine dining atmosphere.

Wine and the Working Mom

If you’re a mom, you’re working. You may do it at home, you may do it at home and at an office, but you’re working. Virtually all the time. You may be knee-deep in diapers and nap scheduling, or maybe you’ve moved on to shuttling to school, practice, doctor appointments, or maybe you’re trying to figure out what the heck goes on inside the mind of a teenager. But you’re there, working, in the thick of it. And you probably (because you’re reading a wine blog) think about wine. Possibly often. Possibly even before happy hour.

“Don’t forget to get you mom a bottle of wine for Mother’s Day. After all, you’re the reason she drinks.” 

The connection between wine and motherhood is everywhere. It’s like an  inside joke between every mother who has called it “mommy juice,” or talked about “wine that tastes good in a sippy cup.”  The Facebook page “Moms who need wine” has over 683,000 likes. That’s 683,000+ moms who can relate to wine as a necessity in their role as mom.

So do we NEED wine?
Makes us all sound a bit lushy, doesn’t it? It’s not really the wine we need. It’s definitely part of it, but wine reflects a lifestyle and that’s what I think moms need.   As a company, we try to promote the wine lifestyle through innoeleanorWinevation. As a mom of 3 young girls (5 and under), the wine lifestyle means slowing down.  The end of the day is a time to unwind,  decompress and relax, whether it’s from being at an office or herding kids. Or both. And I (and others) like to do that with a glass of wine. Beyond the calming effects of the alcohol, those sips are about taking time away from frantically picking up or unpacking school stuff. It’s about slowing down and taking a break. With the kids, without the kids, over dinner or in a bath. Wine helps us enjoy life, and more than anyone, Moms need to remember to do that! So when you “need” wine, remember you really need to slow down. Sip and savor the wine. And your crazy, busy, joyful life.

So Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there! I hope you celebrate with a delicious glass of wine :) And if you have a mom, go get her a nice bottle! She needs it.

Make every night a Bordeaux night

BordeauxVineyardsChateauNo need to save Bordeaux for special occasions or let it languish in your cellar for decades. There are plenty of perfectly drinkable – and affordable! – bottles of Bordeaux for everyday drinking.

A little incentive for you? We’re offering 10% off 6 bottles or more from our Affordable Bordeaux list through 11/24.

We certainly have our own favorites on here, but we’re also interested in hearing your favorite Bordeaux under $50. White, red, rose? Do you drink it at dinner, give it as gifts or sip it on its own? Share with us and you’ll be entered to win a $50 gift card from Wine.com (which we are sure you will want to spend on Bordeaux). Share on Twitter @Wine_com or on this blog.

Contest ends 11/22 at 5pmPST so share away! #drinkbdx