Stack Wines: More Wine to Take with You

I know…do we need another on-the-go wine packaging?!? But this one caught my eye recently at World Market (which, by the way, has a nice new Wine Department design at my local store in Arlington, VA).

Stack Wines…Take It With You™ was  “innovated for simple style, top quality taste, and ultra convenience for the home, the park, or the arena. Just Zip, Snap, Sip!” It’s a convenient back of 4 pre-filled 187ml plastic glasses snapped together and ready to open. It comes in Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Charisma and Cabernet Sauvignon, all from California. I bought the Stack for $11.99.

Love the packaging…perfect for a game, picnic, Halloween trick or treating. The pre-filled glass is very sturdy and classy looking.

How is the wine? I tried the Pinot Grigio, and while it isn’t the best Pinot Grigio I’ve ever had, it isn’t the worst, especially not for ‘on the go’ wine. It has a crisp aroma with grassy notes on the taste. I’d try the red wines for sure.

Cheers to the continued innovation in wine to go!

Autumn Food & Wine Parings with Fine Wine Divas

Our Fine Wine Divas October event was all about this delicious season, Autumn Food & Wine Pairings.

We gathered at the fabulous new hotel and hot spot in Washington, DC, The Graham Georgetown, in their farm-to-table restaurant, A.G.B.

And our wine selection for the evening took us around the world:

  • NV Steininger Grüner Veltliner from Austria
  • 2012 Idiot’s Grace Riesling from Washington, USA
  • 2009 Paul Hobbs Pinot Noir from California, USA
  • 2009 Domaine Rois Mages Rully Blanc “Les Callioux,” from France
  • 2003 Castello di Lucignano Chianti Classico Riserva from Italy
  • 2011 Venge Vineyards Scout’s Honor from California
  • 2003 Leonetti Cabernet Sauvignon from Washington

While we enjoyed all of the wines, our top two for the evening were:

NV Steininger Grüner Veltliner Sekt


  • Variety: Grüner Veltliner (sparkling) from Kamptal Valley, Austria
  • Aroma: Blossoms and stone fruit
  • Taste: Lychee and citrus
  • Price: $23.99
  • Pair with: Salty or fried appetizers, or on its own as an apertif
  • My thoughts: This was a real treat! Not only did I enjoy this sparking wine from Austria but it reminded me I need to try more Grüner Veltliner as a refreshing white wine.

 2009 Paul Hobbs Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir

  • Variety: Pinot Noir from Napa Valley, California
  • Aroma: Black raspberries, plum and forest floor
  • Taste: Creamy and spicy plums
  • Price: $70
  • Pair with: Anything with mushrooms, seafood and roast chicken
  • My thoughts: Elegant, smooth, and comforting, and a nice fuller bodied Pinot Noir.

While the Grüner was served on its own, it would also work well with the delicious charcuterie. The Pinot Noir was versatile enough to pair with everything, but we particularly enjoyed it with a savory mushroom and blue cheese crostini.

Our lovely host for the evening, The Graham Hotel, is Washington DC’s newest boutique hotel. The restaurant was delicious and cozy. The Observatory, the rooftop bar and lounge, offers guest panoramic views of the nation’s capital. It was the hot spot this summer as the only rooftop bar in Georgetown.

Everyone walked away with some great new ideas for wine and food pairings for the season.

Cheers to Autumn!

October is Virginia Wine Month: Out on the Wine Trails

This month marks the 25th Anniversary of Virginia Wine Month! Restaurants, retailers and wineries across the state are celebrating providing plenty of opportunities to explore!

Virginia is home to more than 230 wineries and vineyards, seven American Viticultural Areas (AVAs), nearly two dozen wine trails and rates fifth in the nation for wine grape production.  Just last year, Wine Enthusiast magazine named Virginia one of the 10 best wine travel destinations. In August, Governor Bob McDonnell announced that the sales of Virginia wine reached an all-time high in 2013, with more than half a million cases sold.

Out on the Loudoun Wine Trail this week, I visited …

  • Breaux Vineyards: One of my favorites as it’s the most gorgeous Autumn spot. Be sure to try their newly released Equation…red wine made of 5 different grapes that are a fabulous combination for only $17. And there were still grapes plumping on the vine.
  • Sunset Hills Vineyard: I’ve heard great things about this winery and really enjoyed our visit. The restored Amish historic barn is an impressive tasting room and it’s decks are the perfect spot for a sipping a glass looking out over the vineyards. For us that meant the Cabernet Sauvignon about to be picked. The Tasting Room Team was excellent and I really enjoyed their 2011 Sunset Red, a delicious combination of Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
  • Salamander Resort & Spa: This gorgeous new spot recently opened outside Middleburg! We stopped in for lunch and wine in The Gold Cup Wine Bar where they are offering a special Virginia White Wine Flight for Virginia Wine Month. It featured an excellent example of the greatness in Virginia wine, Linden Vineyards 2011 Sauvignon Blanc. Look forward to returning here to enjoy the spa and equestrian programs.

The Virginia Wine Marketing Office has a site featuring all the ways you can explore the month of wine. They’re also hosting a Scavenger Hunt you can participate in for great prizes.

And Virginia Wine Month will culminate in The Second Annual Virginia Wine Summit which is sure to be a great event, featuring wine expert Oz Clarke and some great toasts to Governor McDonnell. He leaves office early next year and has been a huge proponent of Virginia Wine. He will surely be missed by the industry.

Cheers to Virginia Wine Month!

Here’s more on Virginia wine.

It’s Regional Wine Week – Drink Local!

And with wine produced in every state of the U.S., we can all participate!

Regional Wine Week is the sixth annual celebration of the growth of the U.S. wine industry beyond the West Coast. As co-founder and Washington Post wine writer Dave McIntyre said this week in his article, “It is sponsored by Drink Local Wine, an effort formed in 2008 to draw attention to the impressive wines being made right around here — wherever “here” happens to be.”

While “here” for me is Virginia (I’m enjoying a White Hall Vineyards 2009 Merlot as I write this), on Monday at Siema Wines Portfolio Tasting I was able to taste a great selection of wines from the lesser known wine states with Andrew Stover of Vino 50.

Vino50™ celebrates American winemaking at its best, with a focus on eclectic and unknown American wine regions. Thanks to Andrew’s Vino 50 many of the great wines across the U.S. are getting out there. In addition to tasting two of my favorite Virginia wineries at the event, Breaux Vineyards & Boxwood Estate Winery, I tasted from Missouri, Texas, Colorado, New Mexico and New York. There were many great ones among the 20+ but here were my two favorites…

Sawtooth Winery Tempranillo 2009

  • Variety: 100% Tempranillo from Snake River Valley, Idaho
  • Aroma: Plum, hints of spice and cigar
  • Taste: Medium bodied red with nice balance of black cherry and oak
  • Price: $25.00
  • My thoughts: Who knew? Wine in Idaho AND Trempranillo!? Sawtooth has a great line up and this was one of my favorite tastings.

Stone Hill Winery Blanc de Blancs 2008

  • Variety: primarily Vidal grapes
  • Aroma: Toasty
  • Taste: Crisp, soft with hints of floral and vanilla
  • Price: $18.99
  • My thoughts: Yum! Bubbles from Missouri! This sparkling wine is made in the traditional French method. And is a big award winner! Stone Hill Winery has a great story…”Nestled among the rolling hillsides of the Missouri River, in a countryside reminiscent of Germany’s Rhine Valley, is the little town of Hermann. Perched prominently on one of these hills, with a commanding view of the village, is Stone Hill Winery. Established in 1847, Stone Hill grew to be the second largest winery in the United States. The wines were world renowned, winning gold medals in eight world’s fairs, including Vienna in 1873 and Philadelphia in 1876. By the turn of the century, the winery was shipping 1,250,000 gallons of wine per year. Then came Prohibition…” Check them out.

Cheers to great things happening across the U.S. in regional wine!

Exploring the World of Spanish Wine with Swirl&Sip

At our September Fine Wine Divas event, we had a great time learning about (and tasting!) wines from all across Spain…from Penedès to León to La Mancha to Rioja. We pulled out the Spanish Wine Region map (check out this great one from Wine Folly) and went on a wine tour with Jason from Swirl&Sip, our wine sponsor for the evening.

We tasted the sparkling, wine, rosé (or rosado in Spain) and red wines.

  • NV Signat Semi-Seco Cava
  • 2011 Heredad de Penalosa Verdejo
  • 2011 Vina Altaba Rosado
  • 2010 Lar de Paula Madurado
  • 2008 Lar de Paula Crianza
  • 2005 Lar de Paula Reserva

And while everyone enjoyed the Cava, the reds were the favorites. The top two were…

2010 Lar de Paula Madurado

  • Variety: Tempranillo
  • Aroma: Dark plum and bright red cherries
  • Taste: Velvety plum and cherries
  • Price: $13.99
  • Pair with: Tapas, roast turkey or lasagna
  • Our thoughts: Light and fruity yet smooth. Great value wine!

2005 Lar de Paula Reserva

  • Variety: Tempranillo
  • Aroma: Spice, balsamic vinegar, roasted meat
  • Taste: Blackberry, tobacco, black pepper
  • Price: $23.99
  • Pair with: Hearty tapas, lamb with cherry reduction, or a beef stew
  • Our thoughts: Big, smooth, spicy, all at a great price.

While both of these wines are 100% Tempranillo from Rioja, they underwent very different aging processes, and, in turn, are very different wines. The Madurado spent only 4 months in oak, lending it a lighter, fruitier characteristic, while the Reserva spent 18 months in oak, and then aged for 18 more months in the bottle, leaving it big, spicy and intense.

One of the Wine Divas summed it up well, “These red wines are the kind I can spend a night with!”

We paired the wines with Spanish cheeses and Mediterranean tapas which truly demonstrated how food friendly Spanish wine is. While the Divas weren’t crazy about the Verdejo and Rosado, once paired with food they were really nice.

Our lovely sponsor, Swirl & Sip, currently offers a selection of high value wines (including all of the wines above) online. Their first wine shop is scheduled to open later this fall in Fairfax’s Mosaic District, and will offer a tasting bar, an expanded selection of unique and delicious wines, hand-crafted beers and gourmet foods from passionate producers. Sign up for their newsletter online to stay up to date on the grand opening!

Now I need a real trip to these wine regions! 😉 Salud to Spanish wines!