Concannon Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

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Yesterday, August 31st, was #CabernetDay and for Conconnan Vineyard the celebration of Cabernet Sauvignon continues through September!

Last year in August at the Wine Bloggers Conference, I had first-hand experience of a special excursion trip hosted by the Livermore Valley Wine Country to Concannon Vineyard for an elegant dinner, unique conversation with winemakers, and lovely visit with the Concannon family. The featured picture of Concannon Cabernet Sauvignon was a gift from the winery thanking all the wine bloggers who came out to visit that evening. The experience at Concanoon was so memorable, I saved my gift for a very special occasion — a birthday dinner for a dear friend. On the menu, for my dinner party: filet mignon. And, yes, it was incredibly heartwarming to hear my guests enthusiastically comment, “What a stellar wine!” “What is this?” And, “Where can I get this? I love it!”

My thoughts: wine paired for special occasions should be chosen based on an experience, feelings and memories. Happy Cabernet Day, and thank you, Concannon Vineyards!

The dinner table is set at Concannon!

Sunset over Concannon Vineyard!

Concannon Vineyard House in evening!







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Klinker Brick Winery Albariño

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August 1st is International Albariño Day! Traditionally, the Albariño grape is grown in Rias Baixas, a wine region in Galicia, Spain. However, Lodi, California, is knocking out some pretty outstanding Albariño, too! So, today I’m high-lighting my favorite Klinker Brick Winery Albariño from Lodi, CA.

I first tasted this particular wine at the Wine Bloggers Conference last August in Lodi. Those peach and apricot aromas on the nose, along with the high acidity on the palate, paired nicely with the tossed kale salad we had at dinner.

With the Klinker Brick family (pictures featured above and below), I also had the unique opportunity to taste a variety of other Klinker Brick wines, which are all exceptional.

There is so much happening this week internationally with Albariño, stay tuned with #AlbarinoFiesta and Lodi tour of Albariño! Wow, wish I could be there this week in Lodi, and try that delicious Klinker Brick Albariño sorbet!!

Dinner with Klinker Brick Winery in Lodi, CA. #WBC16

The Klinker Brick family, Father and daughter Farrah










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Cantina Puianello Lambrusco Barghi

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Very important: Lambrusco is served in a tumbler!!

There are three important things I learned about Lambrusco.

First, Lambruso is like a soft drink or wine cooler—meant to be paired with joyful, happy and family-style dining occasions. After tasting a few sips of Lambrusco, with its slight sugar buzz, semi-sweet flavors of berries and pomegranate, and an overall appealing tartness, I would definitely agree with a sense of happiness.

Second, Lambrusco pairs perfectly with comfort foods, and is married to classic Italian cuisine from Emilia-Romagna region which Italy is also very famous for.

Third, Lambrusco is served in a tumbler.

All things to keep in mind when pairing Lambrusco with an occasion, and the key, honestly, is to have fun!

Last week, I attended a Lambrusco tasting seminar hosted by Jeremy Parzen (@Dobianchi) who is an expert and educator in all things Italy—food, wine, and culture. Jeremy’s overview on dispelling the myths of Lambrusco opened my perspective to the fun state-of-mind this sparkling delight has to offer, and the zest for life Italians have enjoyed for centuries. Coincidently, National Lasagna Day was Saturday evening, and I invited a few neighbors and friends for lasagna dinner paired with one of Jeremy’s tasting selections at seminar from Cantina Puianello Lambrusco Barghi. I have to say, we all enjoyed this delightful Lambrusco, and YES … everyone had fun!! You, too, can enjoy and have fun with Lambrusco, and find selections from Parma to Reggio Emilia, Italy, at Vinology. I purchased this bottle for $14.50.

Jeremy Parzen, wine expert educator! And… famous wine blogger!!

Gwendolyn Knapp (Houston Press Food Editor) tasting Lambrusco!

My friend, Shelly, learning about Lambrusco!











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Spartico Organic Wine

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Organic goodness! Spartico, a wine sample I received from Natural Merchants at the Utiel-Requena event earlier this year. What a sporty, cool name for this red blend of Tempranillo and Cabernet, and Spartico has all sorts of certifications like USDA organic, NON-GMO project verified, Vegan approved, and to top off the list contains no detectable sulfites. Whew, this wine is more than okay to drink!! So here we go—on the nose blackberries, black cherry, and a fresh hint of smokiness. Very tasty too! For those organic-focused consumers, Spartico can be found very easily at the Whole Foods Market. And, with all those meaty, smoky notes on the wine, I paired Spartico with my Becks Prime burger, and even thought about putting on my Spartacus widescreen DVD to give the overall food paring experience justice!

Paired Spartico with my Becks Prime hamburger…tasty!

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Mustiguillo Winery Bobal Mestizaje

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I’m having a Bobal moment!

For those of you who love red wine, you may want to try this intensely structured dark jewel with plenty of bold tannins and pleasing acidy. The Bobal grape is a proud native of Valencia, Spain, where 90% of these vines are grown in the Utiel-Requena province.

Early this year, I attended a wine event hosted by Utiel-Requena (@DOUtielRequena, #URBobal), where I first tasted all sorts of interesting selections of Bobal based wines. Therefore, still having wonderful thoughts of Bobal dancing in my mind, I ran across the Mustiguillo Winery Bobal Mestizaje (pictured above) at Costco for bargain $10.49. Those spicy dark fruits on the nose and palate are a complete black-cherry bomb! Initially, my food-pairing thoughts would have been pasta dishes. But, now I’m visualizing a Bobal tasting party with authentic Valencia-style paella on the menu….

P.S. Even better news—the Bobal grape possesses high concentrations of resveratrol, elements that support anti-aging and promote a healthy heart! Cheers to a younger and healthier me, and drinking more Bobal…

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Wente Morning Fog Chardonnay

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Going through the wine samples last evening, I had the opportunity to finally raise a glass of Wente Vineyards (@Wente / Wente) 2015 Morning Fog Chardonnay. I decided to pair this wine with my no-fail, traditional chicken dinner! Those crisp flavors of green apple, mango, pineapple… highlighted with a touch of vanilla and toasted oak made this Chardonnay an ideal choice to pair with any family-style chicken dinner. Like … baked drumsticks over saffron rice, steamed cauliflower, and baby green salad. Delish!!

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Oak Ridge Winery 2015 Pinot Noir

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Spicy robust berry notes like cranberry, red current, and plum complement this Oak Ridge Winery 2015 Lodi Pinot Noir (@OakRidgeWinery/OakRidegeWinery). Found this gem at Total Wine for $13.50. I paired this Pinot Noir with a Turkey burger spiced with Berbere Seasoning purchased from Penzeys Spices. I get all my spices at Penzeys. Berbere Seasoning is an awesome blend of cayenne pepper, garlic, ginger, cardamom, cumin, black pepper, all spice, turmeric, cloves, cinnamon, and coriander. Let me tell you–while cooking with Berbere, incredible spicy aromas filled the kitchen more intoxicating than the wine! At any rate, there is no other way to have a spicy turkey burger, melted Havarti cheese, home potato fries (fried in avocado oil), and a Pinot Noir from Lodi!!

Berbere Seasoning from my favorite place, Penzeys.

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Fall Creek Vineyards #TXwine

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These are exciting times for Texas wines! With noteworthy success in Texas grape growing, and award-winning winemaking taking root. While making my weekly visit to Costco, I stumbled across a pleasant surprise, Fall Creek Vineyards (@FallCreekWinesFallCreekVineyard) 2012 Red blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese, and Merlot. Of course I had to purchase a couple bottles to pair with some backyard grilling this weekend. Perhaps, pork ribs or short ribs?!? Stay tuned via Twitter and Instagram @MyVinoRules for my wine and food pairing picks!

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Cook and @DrinkChile

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I’ve been cooking! Nothing fancy, just a few easy-to-make dishes to pair along with some recent wine samples I received from Montes Wines (@MontesWines/MontesWines).

Currently, there’s a great selection of Wines of Chile (@DrinkChile/DrinkChile) on the market (at a fantastic value), giving a whole new meaning to everyday wine sipping, and making food pairing simple with home-cooked meals.

My three favorite reasons to “Drink Chile”:

montes-spring1. Montes Spring Harvest Sauvignon Blanc 2015

On the nose, this lovely wine captures essence of orange blossoms along with lemon, lime, and peach. On the palate, citrus crisp with a slight mineral touch on the finish. I paired it with a lemon-pepper Cornish Hen, lemon rice, and steamed marinated artichokes.


alpha-carmenere2. Montes Alpha Carmenere 2013

I love the spicy, plummy, chocolaty, and blueberry character of Carmenere — it pairs so well with spicy dishes! I prepared a Meat Free Monday meal (#MeatFreeMonday) with a simple marinara sauce enhanced with an ample amount of peperoncino (hot red chili pepper), lots of sautéed organic white mushrooms, and extra Pecorino Romano cheese on spaghetti.



3. Montes Alpha Syrah 2013

Grilled lamb chops, spaghetti squash, and a cucumber village salad never tasted so good. I MUST say the Syrah had a great deal to do with that. Some wine experts say the healthiest and best-tasting wines are “dry farmed,” a concept of letting nature provide the only water source from rain, increasing the quality of wine with more ripe fruit!

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Celebrating National Dog Day with an OZV Rose!

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I’m celebrating National Dog Day today with an OZV Rosé! I first tasted OZV Rosé at #WBC16 a few weeks ago in our blogger speed tasting seminar and I was totally impressed. Coincidentally, to my surprise, we also happened to have dinner that evening at the home of the Maggio family, part owners of Oak Ridge Winery, which produces OZV. There, we met the Maggio’s beloved wine dog, Shiloh. So, I personally dog-eared this OZV Rosé for a special occasion like today, and paired it with National Dog Day in Shiloh’s honor.

OZV Rose

This particular Rosé is very unique in that it is a synergistic blend of chardonnay and zinfandel, and one I had never had before. The result is mega strawberries and cherries on the nose and exactly the same robust fruit flavor on the palate.

On a side note: OZV Rosé has a Houston, Texas, connection as the proud recipient of the Rodeo Houston (@RodeoHouston) 2016 Wine Competition Class Champion and Double Gold Winner. Excellent!! Here in Houston, I found OZV Rosé for a bargain — $11.99 at Cost Plus World Market.

@JSFashionistaShiloh was a very popular gal with the bloggers. Here she is in the Maggio’s pool admiring “La Bonita” Emily, famous San Francisco blogger also known as The Jetsetting Fashionista (@JSFashionista).

We had an unforgettable six-course wine dinner at the Maggio’s home, which you will be hearing more details about very soon.

Shiloh2In the meantime, Shiloh says she loves being appreciated on National Dog Day and to please have an Oak Ridge wine this weekend!

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