All posts in Wine + Food

Concannon Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

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!







Cantina Puianello Lambrusco Barghi

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!











Spartico Organic Wine

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!

Mustiguillo Winery Bobal Mestizaje


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…

Wente Morning Fog Chardonnay

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!!

Oak Ridge Winery 2015 Pinot Noir

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.

Fall Creek Vineyards #TXwine

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!

Cook and @DrinkChile

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!

Counting Babydoll Sheep!

As an animal lover, I couldn’t help but share with you an interesting tidbit about the Babydoll sheep and their contributions to the wine industry!

Coming back yesterday from the 2016 Wine Bloggers Conference (#winebloggersconference, #WBC16) in Lodi, CA, I found myself thinking about the presentation by Yealands Family Wines (@Yealands) on environmentally friendly wines, green technology projects, and counting Babydoll sheep. Numbering only a few thousand in the world, these Babydoll sheep work hard eating weeds, mowing grass, controlling pests, and fertilizing the land. What a tall order for these adorable creatures to fill — barely standing two feet tall, they are too short to reach the fruit on the vines yet so very instrumental in sustainable wine-growing efforts, not to mention the production of the finest organic wines coming from New Zealand.


In addition, I learned Yealands Family Wines is also famous for building the largest solar panel system in New Zealand … how cool is that?!

After tasting their wines at the conference, I had to stop by Specs (@Specs1962) to find the Peter Yealands Sauvignon Blanc 2015 (about $13). I paired this fresh, crisp white wine with toasted veggie cakes, lime basil, and Kalamata olives for a wonderful wine snack. Boy, that lime basil really brought out those herbal notes in the wine, and tasted so refreshing in summer!



Taste of Italy, full circle!

T1With so much happening in the local Houston wine scene lately, this time Taste of Italy (@TasteofItalyTX) rocked the city full circle. With an assortment of hundreds of wines, there were so many rare finds, it was impossible to count them all!

With every region of Italy represented, the ballroom of the Hilton Houston Post Oak brimmed with passionate Italian wine suppliers energetically speaking in and out of their native tongue. They marketed their wines to potential business buyers, importers, distributors, and top restaurants, with high hopes of securing representation in the Houston market for their wines and specialty foods. Kudos to the Italy-American Chamber of Commerce for organizing a terrific event, showing a vested interest in helping Italian companies develop business opportunities.

A red grape variety called Lambrusco immediately caught my attention — those tasty red and pink effervesce bubbles proved quite intoxicating on the nose and the palate! Take a peek at all the other intoxicating moments by using #TasteofItalyHouston on Twitter and checking out my photos below!

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