Category Archives: Holidays

Labor Day Wine: Griller’s Guide to Wine Pairing

Here it is. Labor Day Weekend. Serving as summer’s sweet send off, and typically wrapped up start to finish in backyard barbecues, Labor Day marks the transition from the dog days of summer to the revved up renaissance of all things fall. For many it also marks a seasonal switch in wine preferences and pairings. A subtle shift from light, bright and brimming with fruit towards wines that carry a bit more heft, solitude, and potential for pairing with heartier fare. However, to squeeze out the last drops of summer and offer the seasons best wine finds, we’ve rounded up some top notch wine picks to bring out the best in grilled grub.

Farm fresh and bursting with brats, beef, poultry and pork, end-of-summer grills are looking for wines that deliver pairing versatility, fresh flavor and tend to be fruit driven. From ripe reds to the lively profiles of regional whites, and wrapping things up with a well-chilled rush of rosé, there are plenty of wine options that will suit all sorts of flame-broiled fare.

Grill-ready Reds
Red wines are typically top picks for serving with a wide variety of heavy meat medleys; however, in the heat of summer, elevated alcohol levels can become more pronounced, masking much of the fruit character. The remedy? A quick 5-10 minute chill in the frig will revive flavors and amplify the wine’s innate fresh factor, while toning down overactive alcohol and giving reds their best bet to shine with smoky meat themes.

  • Zinfandel – The experienced griller’s go-to red wine. Handling smoked meats with forward, full throttle fruit, intrinsic black pepper spice and a generous, food-friendly nature, Zinfandel deserves a special spot next to the tongs and skewers. From pork chops to brisket and bison sausage to marinated and grilled chicken, or basic brats, hotdogs and burgers, the bold adaptable flavors of Zinfandel handles itself well with savory spice, but promises to shine particularly bright with a sweeter-styled barbecue sauce like the Kansas-City classic over ribs, brisket and pork.

Zinfandel to Try: Ancient Peaks, Klinker Brick, Lange Twins, Layer CakeMichael David, Ridge, Seghesio,

  • Syrah / Shiraz – It’s the same grape, but from very different places. Often flying with forward jammy fruit from the Land Down Under, Shiraz claims serious fame as Australia’s signature grape. When cultivated in the Rhone Valley of southern France, Syrah tends to take on more spicy character. Either way, this grape typically runs steady with black fruit character, offering a full-bodied wine with moderate levels of acidity, fairly tame tannins and rich velvety textures. The wine’s heady mix of smoke and spice give it a leg up for partnering with gamier meats like lamb, venison or elk.

Syrah / Shiraz to Try: Barossa Valley Estate, Delas Freres, Evans Wine Company, Guigal, Jim Barry, Merino, Michael David

  • Tempranillo – Spain’s red wine wonder, delivering loads of blackberry, black cherry and blueberry fruit in tandem with earth-driven, tobacco-induced flavor profiles, Tempranillo typically carries an appealing, integrated tannin structure often toned down by age and moderate acidity. This particular grape’s style and versatile nature partner up remarkably well with grilled options that lean intentionally towards pork themes. Easy pairing options include braised pork ribs, the sweet, tender textures of pulled pork, or the succulent, juicy bite of barbecued pork chops.

Tempranillo to Try: Bodegas Muriel, Bodegas Barco de Piedra, CVNE, Campo Viejo, Vina Eguia

Grill-ready Whites and Rosés

  • Sauvignon BlancWhile Sauvignon Blanc styles vary from region to region, most carry an unmistakable “fresh factor.” The vibrant acidity, citrus flavors and often herbal undertones, make regional Sauvignon Blanc a must-try wine for a variety of grilled veggie and herb-marinated chicken choices. Cooler climates tend to build a Sauvignon Blanc with more lemon-lime citrus character and “fresh cut grass” aromatics, while warmer growing zones plunge into plush, exotic flavor profiles with melon, grapefruit, pineapple and peach making a noticeable palate debut. Exceptional for grilled seafood, salad sides, and goat cheese themes, food-savvy Sauvignon Blanc is an easy and accommodating white wine option for covering all kinds of backyard barbecue dishes.

Sauvignon Blancs to Try: Dog Point, Los Vascos, Kim Crawford, Southern Right, The White Knight

  • Rosé Wines –Built on the sturdy backs of red wine grapes, and encouraging the delicious ripe, red fruit flavors from classic reds sans the tight tannins and higher alcohol levels, rose wines are the perfect pick for tricky menu combinations. Whether it’s heavy marinades, sticky sweet sauces or hard to please palates, rosé wines deliver remarkable versatility and palate appeal. Always served well-chilled, these are red wines in their summer suits, ready to refresh and cleanse the palate with vibrant acidity and an exceptionally food-friendly nature. Reach for rosé when grilling salmon, chicken or burgers and don’t shy away from sparkling rosés, which marry the best of bubbles with a dry-style and fresh red fruit flavors.

Rosés to Try: Broadbent, Crios de Susana Balbo, Guigal, La Playa, Miraval, Montes

Drink Like a Founding Father this Independence Day

Back in the early days of  America, when water wasn’t always safe to drink due to lack of proper sanitation, our Founding Fathers needed to find some way to stay hydrated. Ingeniously, those clever men who brought us the Declaration of Independence also came up with a foolproof way to consume liquids without the risk of water-borne disease: alcohol. It was widely understood that alcohol killed bacterial contaminants, and while it came with its own set of risks, it was deemed much safer (and much more fun) to drink.

While distilled spirits and beer were popular choices, our Founding Fathers (especially noted connoisseur Thomas Jefferson) often turned to wine as their beverage of choice. Early attempts at planting grapes in the New World were unsuccessful, as the European grape varieties brought over by colonists were not suitable for surviving American pests and vine diseases. Therefore, imported wines were widely preferred. In honor of Independence Day, raise a glass of one of the following wines to our Founding Fathers:


While today we think of this sweet, fortified Portuguese wine as an after-dinner drink, our Founding Fathers would often consume Port alongside the meal itself. If you prefer bright, fresh red fruit flavors, try a Ruby Port. For more complex notes of caramel, nuts, and dried fruits, turn to a Tawny style.


Like Port, Sherry was also frequently drank with dinner. This fortified wine from Jerez, Spain comes in a wide variety of styles ranging from bone-dry to sticky-sweet, but the sweet-toothed  colonists tended to have a preference for the sugary stuff. Dry styles, like Fino, Amontillado, and Oloroso, can pair beautifully with a meal, while sweeter styles like Pedro Ximénez and Cream Sherry are perfect for dessert.


You won’t find Scuppernong in many wine shops today, but in colonial times this was one of the few Native American grape varieties to be planted successfully with appealing results. In fact, Thomas Jefferson was so fond of it that he planted it at his Monticello estate. It is still produced by some wineries in North Carolina, where it is the official state fruit.


This French import which is associated with class and quality today has maintained that stature since the days of our founders, when it was a favorite of Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and John Adams. Back then, Bordeaux was also known as “Claret” – named as such for the pale color it took on in the early days of its production (the word is derived from the latin for “clear”). By the Colonial Era, it had come to resemble the deep red hue we know today, but the name stuck, and is still commonly used in the British wine trade.


While Madeira’s heyday in America has long since passed, it was actually one of the most important alcoholic beverages in the days of our Founding Fathers. So important, in fact, that it was used to toast both the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. George Washington is said to have drank a pint of Madeira every day with dinner. And with good reason—that stuff is delicious. Whether you prefer the searing acidity of the Sercial style or the candied sweetness of Malmsey, this intentionally oxidized and cooked fortified wine from the eponymous Portuguese island deserves to make a comeback. Why not give it a try this July 4th?

Wine-Buying Tips for Father’s Day

This Father’s Day, shake things up and give Dad the gift of wine inspired by his hobbies and personality. It’s a given that a variety of occasions can influence the purchase of a flashy wine bottle, but buying wine based on Dad’s personal passions offers up a lively avenue to celebrate dear old Dad this Father’s Day.

The Golfing Dad

Whether it’s wrapping up 18 holes or going for an easy nine, avid golfers can sip vinous inspiration from some of the best in the business. Cart jockeys and mulligan-makers alike can share the green and the grape with high flying pros like Arnold Palmer, Greg Norman, Jack Nicklaus or Ernie Els. Got a Dad that tends to be a “King of Cabs?” Then reach for Arnold’s California-based Cabernet Sauvignon, carrying dark fruit and layers of spice and herbs alongside dusty, easy-going tannins.

Looking to escape to the “Land Down Under”? Greg Norman can get Dad there with his signature red, a bold wine spotlighting plenty of forward fruit dominated by blackberry with a mix of mocha and a wisp of smoke. Dubbed Limestone Coast Shiraz, this bottle is easy on the budget and ultra food-friendly.

With vineyards situated on the granite-layered soils of Stellenbosch, South African pro golfer Ernie Els makes the most of his roots (and vines) by digging deep to build Bordeaux and Rhone-based blends. Known in golfing circles as “The Big Easy” thanks to both his signature swing and solid stature, Els’ bottle by the same name is built on the sturdy back of Shiraz (60%) and well-rounded by Cabernet Sauvignon (20%), with a healthy mix of the Rhone’s finest varieties singing backup.

The Grill Master Dad

Whether he really is master of the grill or just wants to be, giving Dad a bottle or two of versatile wines that promise to make the most of grilled grub will thrill any fire-loving, tong-bearing man this Father’s Day. For burger lovers, whether it’s bacon-wrapped, bison-based or simply beef with a slab of cheddar, opt for the dense fruit and laid back structure of California Zinfandel. A best bet is Seghesio Zinfandel 2014, which comes straight from the cattle-driven country of Sonoma’s Alexander Valley. Or scout for Lodi’s Michael David Earthquake Zinfandel 2013. The name is a nod to San Francisco’s devastating earthquake of 1906, and made with grapes planted around the same time, promising a truly “old” vine wine.

Dad, the Adventurer

If Pop is the type that likes to bust paradigms and climb mountains (or ladders), dreams of living off the grid (or simply offline), and looks for adventure in life whether it’s new routes or new grapes, then we’ve rounded up some wines that are often off the radar. Got a white-wine loving Dad? Shake it up with Sardinia’s Vermentino, a lively, crisp wine that typically gets along just fine sans oak. This Italian darling promises heady aromatics and a remarkable propensity for all sorts of food, especially shellfish, pesto, and veggie themes. Check out the 2014 Argiolas Costamolino Vermentino for some serious Sardinian love delivered via exotic tropical fruit, bright acidity and a clean, crisp finish.

Prefer an out-of-the-box red wine discovery for Dad this Father’s Day? No worries, with over 800+ grape varieties, Italy promises more wine adventure than virtually any other wine growing region on the planet. Pushing way past Chianti and Barolo, the Veneto wine region, bordered by Venice and the rugged Dolomites, produces an easy-going red wine blend that stems from an ambitious trifecta of grapes: Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara. Want to give this classic Valpolicella style a swirl? Then look for the fuller-bodied, red cherry flavors of Allegrini Palazzo della Torre 2011. Prefer to go full throttle with the same grape trio? Then opt for the deeply concentrated, stouter-styled Amarone—enter Masi. As an innovative producer of world class Amarone, Masi’s appassimento methods produce top notch wines from semi-dried grapes. To offer Dad a high-octane taste of the Veneto, there’s no better ambassador than Masi Costasera Amarone Classico 2010. Ready to roll now or happily held for another decade, Masi’s Amarone is truly the gift that keeps on giving.

Dad, the Intellectual

If Dad leans more towards brains than brawn, then Burgundy begs for consideration this Father’s Day. Known for highly cerebral wines that thrive on taking a specific speck of soil and fanning it into a concentrated conversation piece, not to mention an all-senses-on-deck tasting experience, the best of Burgundy guarantees the essence of time and space, history and geology, culture and conscience. Burgundy offers a thoroughly classical education in one delicious glass. Diving into Burgundy is a no-brainer for Dads possessing a penchant for the scholastic, and a top pick on the Burgundy wine trail is Albert Bichot Aloxe Corton Grand Cru Clos de Marechaudes 2013. From this engaging red wine diplomat of organic origins, expect complexity with a serious side, and well-developed fruit supported by fine tannins. If Dad’s palate steers toward Burgundy’s whiter side, then check out a classic from premier producer Louis Jadot, in the 2013 Louis Jadot Chasagne-Montrachet Abbaye de Morgeot, which comes with a round of dried flowers, subtle citrus, and vivid minerality.

So, which wine will I give my golf-course-living, grill-loving, airplane-flying, Soduku-playing Dad this Father’s Day? Good question. It will likely be an older Amarone (with some selfish strings attached).




Somm Things I think about: Pop the Cork!

Pop the cork! Holiday Parties are coming up and we here at decided to make it a little easier on you and give you our top 5 Sparkling wines under $20.

  1. Adami Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Brut Bosco di Gica
    We love this wine. Prosecco is fresh and fruity, and definitely a people pleaser! A straw yellow color. Creamy texture, with delicate and long-lasting bubbles! On the nose, it is rich, with excellent fruit, releasing scents of yellow apple and peach, with notes of wisteria and acacia blossom. Wonderful balance and elegance complement a pleasurably crisp spiciness. The palate holds a delicious vein of acidity, displaying a crisp, savoury mouthfeel. Generous, lingering flavours nicely mirror the nose and achieve perfect balance.
    Antonio Galloni’s Vinous agrees with a 91 pt. score. “Adami’s NV Prosecco Superiore Bosco di Gica emerges from the glass with mineral-infused white fruit, smoke and crushed rocks in an intense, serious style of Prosecco I find appealing”

Continue reading Somm Things I think about: Pop the Cork!

Wine Cocktails for Fall!

We here at do love our wine,  but we also like to spice it up a bit! With so many holidays and parties coming up in the next few months, here are some crowd-pleasing and easy-to-make sparkling wine cocktails. While these are per serving recipes, if you are good at math, you could make pitchers too! Continue reading Wine Cocktails for Fall!