Welcome to my site describing my self-renewal journey into the world of wine A to Zinfandel. I create social media strategies for the wine, food, and tourism industries. I also am a Culinary Travel Artisan – ready to make your travel dreams come true. As you can tell, I love to DRINK, EAT, and TRAVEL!
Pioneer Wine Company outdid themselves in Dallas yesterday. They offered to the wine trade the opportunity to taste their portfolio (the wines they distribute). How many wines do you ask? Let’s just say, much much more than can be tasted in four hours. It was very well organized, crowded – but not impossibly crowded, and at the start of the tasting, they provided a 80 page booklet listing the wine producers. The producers were showing anywhere from 3-8 of their top wines.
Now you would think that one would walk away totally overwhelmed, and although taking notes, it is still quite baffling.
But I do have one word for you – well, one wine that sent me in to orbit. Abstract. A California red blend containing Grenache, Petite Sirah, and Syrah primarily from the hillside vineyards of Napa, Sonoma, & Mendocino. At a price point of $30, it is a bit pricey for what I normally spend; however, when you find a wine like this one, it is well worth it.
Abstract’s tasting notes can be described as aromas of wild berry and caramelized oak. Rich, blackberry, plum, mocha and spice
Orin Swift also has some other fabulous wines in their portfolio, including the Prisoner, Papillon, and Saldo. They are based out of St. Helena, California.
It is July 14th - Bastille Day in France. If there was ever an excuse to drink French wine, today is the day. This day is a French national holiday, and commemorates the storming of the Bastille, which took place on 14 July 1789 and marked the beginning of the French Revolution.
As I have tried so many French wines, I couldn’t easily put a list together of my favorites; however, I would like to share a link to a write up regarding French wine. It is located on a retail store’s site, Total Wine & More.
Learning about French wines is by far the most daunting to study of all the countries’ wine. Sommelier associations tend to start their studies with France – I have seen many students give up then and there at the beginning of their studies simply because trying to take in the topic of wines from France is such a huge undertaking. Really, I have witnessed it. To me, it is my favorite topic – wines from France. I love wine. J’adore la France. Et voila!
Wine Book Wednesday
I have to recommend this book in honor of the great wine legend. June 18th, 2013 marked the 100th anniversary of his birth (he passed away at age 94). Throughout the month of June there will be celebrations of Mr. Mondavi’s role as the world’s leading innovator, producer and marketer of California wine.
On my facebook page, I had posted a link to an article published in late May regarding the 100th anniversary, and the festivities that would abound. Another great article can be found here. Visit the Robert Mondavi Winery website and read about the history and milestones.
Several years ago I was introduced to Marilyn Wines while hosting a “Thirsty Girl” event. Buyers came flocking in to buy the latest release of the Marilyn Merlot. It is interesting to note that only a few of the buyers actually drink the wine themselves. Most are collectors – each year has a different image of Marilyn, are priced around $20-30 (depending on the wine rating), and prices of past vintages have increased dramatically. Another reason that buyers rarely drink the wine themselves, is that they offer them as gifts for important events.
The line of Marilyn Wines began with Marilyn Merlot. The line has expanded over the years to include Norma Jeane, Sauvignon Blonde, Blonde de Noirs, Marilyn Cabernet Sauvignon, and Marilyn Meritage. The release date of all wines is always June 1st – Marilyn’s birthday and each vintage usually sells out rather quickly.
As with celebrity labeled collectible wines, reviews of the taste of the wines are mixed. Usually more on the side of better to collect the bottles than to actually drink it.
June 1st, 2013 would have been Marilyn Monroe’s 87th birthday. An iconic star of epic proportion, lived a tumultuous life. Her mother suffered from extreme mental distress, so Marilyn eventually became a ward of the state, and then foster child. During that time she was sexually assaulted in several foster homes. During her life, she had several marriages, and several miscarriages. The final years of Monroe’s life were marked by illness, personal problems, sleeping pills, alcohol, and a reputation for unreliability and being difficult to work with. She died at age 36 of a probable suicide.
As I read the draft of this post, I realized its somber tone; however, as popular and iconic Marilyn was, her life was rather tragic. Truly great celebrities live on after death, as she does. Rest in peace sweet Marilyn.
I had the opportunity to spend a lovely afternoon at the relatively new to Dallas restaurant/wine bar, Max’s Wine Dive. The restaurant opened in Dallas September 2012, with already established locations in Houston, Austin, and San Antonio. Their motto: ”Fried chicken and Champagne? … Why the hell not?!” It’s not just a slogan – it’s what defines us.” With this motto, you know you are in for a culinary adventure.
The wine list is extensive and so much fun: old favorites, soon to be new favorites, and their own proprietary favorites. Because they do not have a full-service bar (i.e. offering spirits), they do not have to place a restaurant up-charge on the wines by the glass or bottle, and they don’t! The wines are at retail price – and you are more than welcome to purchase wine and take home if you are so inclined.
As I was a brunch guest, let’s take a look at the brunch menu, shall we? With suggestions from the general manager, Jeff Solomon, I started my culinary adventure – of course that had to start with a bottle of sparkling wine (I wasn’t alone, mind you). For brunch they will bring out a selection of juices (orange, grapefruit, and cranberry) to mix, or not, with your sparkler. Don’t turn your nose up – I truly enjoyed my first time drinking a cranberry juice mimosa – give it a try, said the waiter. Who am I to say no?
Next came the food. An order of cinnamon rolls served in its iron cast skillet were to die for. Next came the giant chicken fried steak atop Belgian style waffles, served with cream gravy and syrup. We are in the south, remember. Two of us managed to finish the whole dish, it was that good!
The restaurant is a 4600 square foot establishment – huge! They have a wine bar, 2 separate dining rooms, and a fabulous outdoor patio. It is located in the Uptown area of Dallas, perfect for people watching. A parking garage is right next door, so you don’t have to freak out about trying to find a space on the street, or pay for valet service. Hey, this is always a plus for a wine blogger and sommelier student, such as myself! I’m just saying.
Before the visit, I was lucky enough to speak with one of the owners, Jeff Lasco, who is also the CEO and Founder. He in turn got me in touch with the general manager of the Dallas location, Jeff Solomon. We had the opportunity to meet and discuss the history and culture of the chain. Jeff S. was knowledgeable, personable and truly passionate about his job. He was gracious with his time and led us through a lively discussion regarding the information I have discussed above. The servers really knew their stuff too and were very attentive.
I was also able to get introduced to their events coordinator, Teresa Alioto, who was gracious enough to let me take a delightful photo.
We enjoyed the afternoon – all 4 hours! They probably thought we would never leave, but had no problem with it.