Happy Bastille Day!

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!

Kirsten Dunst playing Marie Antoinette

Kirsten Dunst playing Marie Antoinette

 

Share

Culinary Tour of Dallas

Kay Zink of A to Zinfandel & Harold Partain of Epicopia Culinary Journeys decided it was about time they took to the streets of Dallas to see just what the city had to offer.  We can name our favorite restaurants, villages, truffle hunters, etc. in Europe, but what is here in Dallas, one wonders.
We decided to discuss our itinerary over lunch at Urbano Cafe on Fitzhugh near Bryan.  There we caught up with owner and Harold’s long time friend Mitch Kauffman.  Urbano is a wonderful neighborhood cafe who offers up plenty on the menu, including authentic Italian paninis.  They are also BYOB, but at 11am, we refrained, although thought about it!  I had a delicious pulled pork panini with cilantro pepper slaw and hoison mayo; Harold had the portobello panini which was fresh and had a well balanced flavor… a great sourdough style bread.

Jimmy’s Food Market is just next door and was our second stop.  Looking for some NY Deli style products with an Italian twist? Check them out! Great Parmigiano Reggiano for $9.99 a pound! Price hasn’t changed in the past 10 years Harold has been shopping here. The BEST Italian sausage in the city, for sure.  Saturday is a hopping day, but they still had time (and room) to offer peppered bacon with wine samples.  “They have the very best Italian wine selection in the city” – Harold.

In the name of research, our third stop was at Bottle Shop on Greenville Avenue, who just so happenned to be having a beer tasting.  We had the honor of meeting Wim Bens, brewer and founder, of Lakewood Brewing company.  Along with him was Willis, a volunteer and friend of Wim’s, and Chris Hanks, Director of Consumption (A+ for the title, don’t you think)?  The two beers we sampled were delicious and unique in style. One named Prince Albert… was reminiscent of a dark Belgium but not as bitter… very smooth. Apples… I believe I tasted some apple in there! Loved the lighter, spicier one… no lingering bite with it either. Look forward to LBC finding a new home and being open to the public.

Follow link below to video:
Lakewood Brewing Company

Fourth stop was the very colorful Mextopia restaurant on Greenville Avenue.  Lots of street construction out front but plenty of parking in the back. Terrific margaritas and great Mexican style food brought to us by Ricardo Avila.

Fifth stop on the culinary tour of Dallas was Dude, Sweet Chocolates! If you have not tried these beautiful chocolates concocted right in Oak Cliff on West 8th… get over there now! Katherine is changing the perspective of chocolate. Some unbelievable combinations and with names that will make you laugh… and bring back a memory or two or three!

Well by now, my iPhone had died which I had been using as my camera, so there are no pictures to see.  Scardello Artisan Cheese was next and pretty busy on Saturday afternoon as well. Located on Oaklawn just down from Lucas’ B&B this is without a doubt the very best artisan cheese shop in Dallas. Rich Rogers and staff have created a delightful place to spend a few hours with friends tasting cheeses and wines and some great sandwiches. If you want good cheese for your next party, check out Scardello Artisan Cheese, you will be glad you came.

Follow link below to video:
Scardello Artisan Cheese

Chocolate Secrets was on the agenda, located on Oak Lawn.  This is a local, family owned, gourmet chocolate and fine wine boutique.  We choose so many different chocolates, that I can’t remember the “notes” on all of them, but 2 of them were rather unique and quite different from one another.  The first was a perfect pairing of dark chocolate and a full-bodied cabernet; the second was organic black forest bacon cooked, then candied and encased in dark chocolate ganache.  We even picked up a bottle of Australian Shiraz from the Barasso Valley. The things we do for love!  Artisan Cheese, you will be glad you came.

Follow link below to video:
Chocolate Secrets

Well, it was time to get home and feed the doggies, so Harold and I departed, proud of the accomplishments of the day, but anxious for more.

If you should care to join us on our adventures, please let Kay or Harold know.  We had a blast!

Harold was sweet enough to add this comment:  Kay was a delightful and adventurous companion for the day. We did it all in the name of research! Dallas has a lot to offer and we just scratched the surface. From food to drink we see some day trips in the making in Dallas! Stay turned! Let’s Meet Up for food, drink, and travel.

 

 

Share

TexSom – Texas Sommelier Conference – Day 1

TexSom – the Texas Sommelier Conference – occurs once a year in August at the Four Seasons Resort & Club in Las Colinas, TX.  Before I go any further, I had the luxury of spending the night there, this place is ga-ga in a great way!  The rooms, the pool, the spa, the golf course - ”par” excellence.  I digress.

TexSom was founded by several outstanding Master Sommeliers – James Tidwell, Drew Hendricks, and Guy Stout (3 out of the total of 6 Master Somm’s in Texas).  Two of the six were just indoctrinated this year:   Devon Broglie, the Specialty Coordinator for the Southwest Region of Whole Foods Market and Craig Collins, Regional Manager for Glazer’s Distributors.   All of them are as sweet and approachable than you can possibly imagine, and more than willing to help you in any way they can; and boy, can they put on a show!  How grateful I am that I live in Dallas and can attend, because, baby, I will be there every year – it is a can’t miss experience.  Two of the days are open to the public; although, you will find yourself amidst some of the finest sommeliers in Texas and the country – just be sure to spit and not swallow!

Day 1 – Media and Technology Symposium

I had the opportunity to attend the first 2 days (out of 3).  The first day was not about tasting (quelle domage), but for me, just as good – social media for the wine industry!  The day was from 9 – 4-ish; all the speakers and topics were dead on.  The first 3 hours were spent with Tony Jones - FaceBook (don’t bludgeon people with open ended questions – may not get any answers), Twitter, you name it.  We broke for lunch, and I headed straight over to Sonny Bryan’s - some of the best barbeque in Texas.  I ordered a pulled pork sandwich, coleslaw and potato salad with tons of barbeque sauce.

The next session was all about wine blogging with Jeremy Parzen and Alfonso Cevola.  These two have been blogging about the wine industry for longer than there was a name for it.  They are true lovers of wine.  They blog for the pure enjoyment of sharing their experiences with the rest of us.

Because of Alfonso & Jeremy speaking that afternoon about the passion for wine blogging, their presentation empowered me to continue writing A to Zinfandel even though no one may be listening, but as Alfonso said ”If you don’t say anything, you’ll never be heard”.  My blog is a journal of my life, my wine experiences, my wine journey, my passion!  My blog is my CV.  This is not the first time I have heard this.  When Gary VEE was here in Big DEE, he said that resumes should no longer exist.  Everything you are and can be should be online.  What a paradigm shift!

The last session consisted of a panel of key personnel of some of the finest traditional media sources in Dallas, which rounded out our day.

Share

Certified Wine Specialist, Gilat Ben-Dor

Each month, the Society of Wine Educators chooses an Educator of the month.  I had the privilege of interviewing the March Educator, Gilat Ben-Dor.  When interviewing, I like to get a feel for the person’s experience by asking the following questions:

1)  BEST WINE EXPERIENCE
2)  FAVORITE WINE REGION
3)  FAVORITE GO TO WINE(S) UNDER $25
4)  STUDIES/CERTS/ASSOCIATIONS
5)  HOW DID YOU START YOUR BUSINESS
6)  FUTURE PLANS

Gilat’s answers were the following:

1)  BEST WINE EXPERIENCE
Like many a wine professional, I have a three (or four, or ten) way tie when it comes to my best wine experience. The Wine Women Awards I participated in at the opulent Hotel Bristol in Paris, with my fellow Top Ten World Finalist women from around the world, was an unforgettable experience. So was the two-week journey across Australia’s wine regions with a close-knit group of colleagues, fellow winners of the Wine Australia AusWISE national competition.
 
And even going back to my undergraduate days, I spent a semester living in Tuscany. Some of my best wine experiences came from the days they gathered us students for cultural field trips to the Tuscan countryside. We sat among friends over multi-course lunches, exploring the best of the region’s wines with each course. Getting up from the table one day, I looked back at the utter sea of wine glasses left behind, and I thought, “This is it. What a beautiful way to spend the moments of our life.”
 
2)  FAVORITE WINE REGION
Rather than have a favorite wine region, I have my “best of class” favorites. For example, my favorite white wine to complement subtle sauces is a Sancerre; my favorite “lamb” red is a Barossa Shiraz or a Chateauneuf-du-Pape; and so forth. I have very specific preferences, largely driven by the terroir or region rather than by individual brands.
 
3)  FAVORITE GO TO WINE UNDER $25
When I go for “value wines,” I really mean it! These wines are extremely affordable. There’s nothing like Paul Jaboulet Aîné’s Parallèle “45″ from the Côtes du Rhône to go with a hot, rustic meal.
 
4)  STUDIES/CERTS/ASSOCIATIONS
I hold five wine credentials, from organizations including the Society of Wine Educators (CSW - Certified Specialist of Wine), the Court of Master Sommeliers, the International Sommelier Guild, Wine Australia (Australian Wine Bureau), and I am a Certified Bordeaux Educator through French agency Sopexa. As I mentioned under my favorite wine experiences, I was also fortunate to be a Top Ten World Finalist at the Wine Women Awards – Paris (2007), and a national winner of the Wine Australia AusWISE national wine educator competition.
 
5)  HOW DID YOU START YOUR BUSINESS
I was working in “Corporate America,” but I knew my heart lied with an entrepreneurial life dedicated to my passions: these include wine, of course, but also speaking, writing, traveling, and business-so creating Renaissance Wine Academy LLC seemed like a natural outlet for me.
 
6)  FUTURE PLANS
Indeed, this is only the surface! I have recently come out with 3 new books about following passion and creativity, and have formed my own publishing company in the process. I look forward to merging this area with my passion for wine, and am currently working on my first wine book.

GUSTO POWER™ is her success coaching business for the “Multi-Passionate Professional.” The books and this business are not directly wine-related, but they are all about living with passion and creativity, which does tie into the pleasures of wine! She tends to draw a lot of culinary and wine people for her personal and professional development services.  Wow, what a busy and accomplished woman!

Share

One of Twelve Sommeliers

My passion of wine affords me to speak with the coolest people in the wine industry.  My latest interview was with David Glancy.  David has wine credentials galore; so many in fact that he is only 1 of 12 wine specialists in the world with a CWE (Certified Wine Educator) from the Society of Wine Educators, and a MS (Master Sommelier) from the Court of Master Sommeliers.  He also is a French Wine Scholar, which was of much interest to me, because I love all things French.  This certification is from the French Wine Academy made up of French winegrowers’ associations and backed by the French government located in Washington, D.C.  Often the academy takes its instructors on wine trips where lodging, meals, and tours are paid for (airfare additional).

 Many may disagree, but to me, I think the blind wine tastings are the hardest part of the wine certifications – David has tasted 1000′s of wines for training and education.  I am working on my first 100! 

A day in the life of David could include:  directing the Certified Sommelier Program at the Professional Culinary Institute (PCI), teaching at the San Francisco Wine School (SF Bay Area provider of the French Wine Society programs), developing award winning beverage programs, implementing effective beverage cost controls and providing in-depth restaurant staff training – done through his firm – SFsommelier Consulting , running wine tastings and corporate events, being the contributing editor of the Sommelier Journal , performing charity work, and of course, being a sommelier!

If you would like to see this guy in action, please visit PCI’s channel on YouTube.

David GlancyKudos to David on all his triumphs.  I’m just happy that I passed my blind tasting portion of the final exam for the Wine Fundamentals II course of the International Sommelier Guild (ISG)!

Share