Grilled Cheese with 4 Affordable Wines from Occitanie Sud de France #Winophiles

What’s better on an autumn midweek evening than grilled cheese, roasted pumpkin soup, and a green salad chock full of fall fruit? Pairing it with cheese and wine made in France along with two good fun friends!
This month host Jill Barth leads the French Winophiles in an investigation of the French region of Occitanie. Previously known as Languedoc-Roussillon, an area of southern France well-known for producing wine that doesn’t break the bank, the newly re-named region encompasses both as well as other areas in the Southeast of France going all the way to Spain and the Atlantic coast:

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Drinking Stars: Dom Pérignon and Champagne’s Every Day Pleasures

“Come quickly, I am tasting the stars!”

That’s what French Benedictine monk Dom Pierre Pérignon reportedly said when he tasted the first sparkling wine he made in Champagne, France, commonly known now as simply “Champagne.” (Sparkling wine made elsewhere is NOT Champagne BTW!)

However, according to Wikipedia, this quote first appeared as part of an advertising campaign in the late 19th century!

Regardless of the truth of the source of this quote, drinking Champagne is like drinking stars — there’s no denying how delightful the experience is of drinking real, quality bubbles  from Champagne.

Even if Dom Pérignon spent most of his career trying to get the bubbles OUT of Champagne!

The third Friday of the month of October is Champagne Day, and I’ve made a point of celebrating it every year in one way or another: Champagne Day 2011  and Champagne Day 2012 and Champagne Day 2013  and Champagne Day 2014 and Champagne Day 2015  and Champagne Day 2016 when I shared these fun facts.

This year, here’s a brief primer about Champagne and a history of Dom Pérignon, the granddaddy of them all, plus some notes on a few prestige cuvees I had the opportunity to taste as well as two that are a bit more down to earth and easy to find wines: Veuve Clique and Jacques Bardelot – Brut which we paired with appetizers including the French triple cream brie cheese St Angel, oysters, and caviar as well as a meal of caesar salad, pesto pasta, and chicken.

And what, if anything, have all the fires, floods, and hurricanes taught us? That our special occasion is now. Don’t wait.

If someone gives you a bottle of champagne, don’t keep it in the cellar, the closet or on or in the refridgerator for the next five years. Drink it! And what better day than today?

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#MerlotMe with 3 from Sonoma and Colorful Fall Squash Pasta #WinePW

#MerlotMe love with wine from Sonoma paired with a simple squash and sausage pasta dish and a chard with apple and pomegranate salad

“I’ve got this one squash I’d like to use for our pasta,” says Sue on the drive from my house on the coast to hers in Ojai, “and I need help getting it cut out of the fence.”

It actually took three of us because I was busy taking photos, but Sue and Barry wrestled that squash out of the fence and Sue got it roasting because squash and merlot are a match made in heaven, and October is #MerlotMe time! Continue reading

Fires Strike California Wine Country


Late Sunday October 1, multiple fires began in the counties of Napa, Sonoma, and Lake. Whipped by high winds, the fires threatened and destroyed homes, lives, and wineries.

These fires continue tonight with over 1000 firefighters working to keep people and animals safe in the towns of Sonoma and Napa. In fact a reliable source reports that as of Thursday, there are 73 helicopters, over 30 air tankers, some 500 fire vehicles, over 8000 fire personnel, with another 150 fire vehicles requested from neighboring states plus CHP, National Guard, police, utility workers and more in the region at work.

Thousands more firefighters are working around the clock across a state which has plenty of fuel following last year’s generous rains.

The flammable grasses and shrubs combined with hot dry winds will make for a dangerous situation until winter storms hit –which may be in a month or two.

During the past week, I have followed the stories and photos as friends in the region have told harrowing tales of evacuation, near escape, fire, damage, and repeated evacuations as they make sure children and pets are safe as well as keep tabs on elderly and infirm neighbors. The losses are devastating: many lives and pets as well as cherished possessions.

fire on a hillside above harvest Oct. 2017; photo  by George Rose author of “VINEYARD Sonoma County”

However, contrary to some reports, the 2017 vintage will be fine: Continue reading

Congrats to Camarillo’s Cantara Cellars on 10 Years!

Ten years ago yesterday, on October 7, 2007, Cantara Cellars opened their doors to their Camarillo tasting room and winery.

Ten years later, yesterday, they celebrated this accomplishment with a dinner party with 75 of their friends, family, and wine club members sitting at one long table decorated with fall colors and pumpkins with succulents which were sold for $10 to raise for Meadowlarks. Tasting room manager and my writing partner Sue Hill and her sweetie John Walsh were there of course — and so was I.  Continue reading

#MadeInFrance: Wine and Cheese Pairing

It is amazing what people are doing on Facebook these days.

While there is a bit of a delay, Facebook Live can be put to good use: for example see the video above.

Or join the French #Winophiles today on Twitter when we explore the world of French Wine and Cheese for #MadeInFrance.

Because that bit of delay allows us more time to taste the cheese and the wine!

If you are tasting wine and cheese together, remember:

  • Wine
  • Cheese
  • Wine

Below are more detailed directions plus a list of the wines and the cheeses and some of our thoughts on a few of them. You might also  check out this blog post from National Wine and Cheese Day (yes that’s a thing!) which also explains that both food and wine are “flavor dense” so they both offer a lot of complex flavors and chemistry for your palate to play with and explore. Continue reading