All Hail Caesar & an Infamous Goose

When I opened the Wild Rock Infamous Goose, the grapefruit aromas first knocked my socks off and then a thought crossed my mind and made me put my socks and shoes back on: I had to have this wine with my favorite caesar salad, made by Cafe Zack, and with or without anchovies, I didn’t care.

I mean, I really liked the wine. I did. But you see, I knew that my favorite salad would bring out the best in the wine and the wine would bring out the salad as well. And so I had to put my shoes and coat back on and go get one.

And I was soo right! It was so worth it!

What I love about Cafe Zack’s caesar salad is that it doesn’t taste like most: it’s light and fresh and lemony with just the perfect amount of garlic. Too many caesar salads are drenched in dressing: they’re greasy to me, oily, ugh. I can’t tell you the number of caesar salads that have disappointed me. I don’t even know why I bother–except that a well made one is so wonderful that I keep trying them…

And what to pair with salad can certainly be a challenge.

The pairing of the Infamous Goose with the Cafe Zack caesar made the salad creamier, richer while the wine’s grapefruit notes became more complex. According to the winery, Infamous Goose Sauvignon Blanc grapes grow in the river bed of the Wairau River in Marlborough. In the Winery, the juice was fermented in stainless steel and spent two months on the lees before fining and filtration. Tasting Notes: Fresh, crisp lime, grapefruit and cut grass aromas and flavors with lively acidity and a refreshing finish (and I’d agree!)

Of course you don’t have to run out and track down a caesar for your Goose. It would make a great afternoon summer wine and certainly go well with fresh seafood or grilled chicken. I bet it would be tasty with lox and bagels. Personally, I’m looking forward to having it with pesto made from arugula, rosemary and basil.

But if you can, discover its pleasures with a salad or two, caesar or otherwise, this spring or summer. It’s widely available for around $12.

PS Thanks to the folks who sent this to me as a sample–even if it meant I had to go back outside!

And if you’re a locavore looking for a locapour, or if you’re at Cafe Zack enjoying your salad, try Cantara Cellars Sauvignon Blanc. Zack’s tries to keep it on their list but I know both the winery and the restaurant are out until the new vintage is released.

Jo Diaz Names Wine Predator As A Wine Blogger Who Matters

Recently Jo Diaz discussed Steve Heimoff’s column “Beyond Blogging” about  Jeff Lefrevre’s column “How to Become a Wine Wonk” in Forbes. (Did you follow that or did it get too incestuous?)

In his column, Jeff recommends several wine sites and wine bloggers worth reading and why. His list of 12 sites includes Joe Roberts aka 1 Wine Dude, Alder Yarrow of Vinography, Tyler Coleman aka Dr. Vino and Steve Heimoff of Steve, all fine wine bloggers, many I have come to know, some better than others, at the various wine bloggers conferences and through social media.

Steve talks about monetization among other topics and in a comment on Steve’s blog, Jo not only points out that the wine bloggers worth reading and writing about were all males (and I think they’re all white as well), but she was also willing to follow up on this topic on her own blog and to discuss this in public AND call attention to the fact that women in wine end up on the “living” section of the news. (Another commenter left this link with numbers to back up the observation about gender and race).

Jo then listed women wine writers that she thinks have “grace and style, who are blogging and have sites that really matter.” And –here comes the good news–I am featured on her list of these women wine bloggers!

For her article, Jo compiled the photo above. From  left to right, you’ll see Megan Kenney aka Sonadora of the blog Wannabe Wino, Sondra Barrett Ph.D who blogs at, Alana Gentry who blogs at girl with a glass, and finally myself.

Jo’s article includes a nice write up about each of us then goes on to mention Pamela Heiligenthal of Enobytes, Gabriella Opaz of Catavino, Jancis Robinson, Leslie Sbrocco, and Karen McNeil.

So if you’re looking for some weekend reading, you might explore one or more of these sites–written by both men and women. And certainly you should make Jo’s blog part of your regular reading!

Food & Wine Challenges: what with what?

When a wine blogger comes to visit, it’s an occasion to pull out all the stops–and the corks–and open lots of wine!

And since we don’t live by wine alone, it’s also a great opportunity to enjoy some fine food!

Such has been the case with the recent visit by David Rodriguez of Puerto Rico who I met at the first Wine Bloggers Conference in 2008. He needed someone in country who could sign for wine and store it for him since it couldn’t be sent to Puerto Rico. With my mom’s consent, he started sending wine to the cellar (my cellar!) at her house, the house my grandfather built and moved into in 1961. (Read more about my grandfather’s cellar here.)

We started a few weeks ago with a salmon dinner up at the cellar where David was taking inventory and figuring out what to do with his wine collection. With the salmon, we enjoyed a Vincent pinot noir (from Portland Oregon) and a few other wines as well. A few days later, two of David’s friends from Los Angeles joined David and I for an amazing meal at Lou’s on Vine.

Then we had lunch at Paradise Pantry and went through the featured tasting (notes to come) and finally last night several of us gathered at my grandfather’s one more time. We started with some crackers and cheeses and opened up two white wines –Le Cigare Volant, a white blend of Roussanne and grenache blanc by Bonny Doon Vineyard and Wine Cast, a blend of roussanne and marsanne. David made his infamous “California ceasar” with smoked salmon, capers, avocado and more mixed with arugula while I seared ahi tuna and placed it on a bed of field greens, white stilton and apricots with a citrus champagne vinagrette and sesame oil.

The chemistry between wine and food never ceases to amaze me. I’ve tasted several Bonny Doon wines, including this one, but it did nothing for the tuna while the Wine Cast just made the food and the wine sing. When we tasted the wines with the salad David made, the Wine Cast was dull while the Bonny Doon shined bright.

Our next two courses were a pesto I made with arugula, rosemary and basil, and a bolognese sauce from Ferraros Restaurant to which I added  mushrooms and wine. The Bonny Doon was better with the pesto but probably not my first choice (I love NZ sauvigon blancs with pesto, especially ones with herbs like rosemary in them! I’ve been enjoying Brancott’s but I bet Wild Rock’s Infamous Goose would be great too!)  We tried two reds, Inkling Syrah and a Biali. These were both fabulous with both pasta dishes but especially with the meat sauce. (And somewhere I have more extensive tasting notes which I plan to add to this blog post!)

As my palate develops, I have come to appreciate the chemistry between wine and food. I am no longer willing to have a wine that doesn’t work with a meal. When the flavors combine, it’s big magic. When they don’t, it can be a big disappointment.

These days, when a wine doesn’t work well with what we’ve made for dinner, I open something else and then figure out a meal the next night that will go better with the wine.  I urge you to do the same: keep a number of wines around so that if one doesn’t work, another will.

So don’t blame the wine!

PS As I mentioned, I have a few more details plus photos to add to this post…but I am finding I have quite the backlog of wine blog posts so at this point I want to just get some of them–like this one– out there even though I know there’s more I’d like to do here…sigh! A wealth of wine–could be worse!

Wine Weds: Poetry by Joan MacBeth Inspired by OCRW Cab Sauv & Grenache

I was up at Old Creek Ranch Winery last weekend to taste their new releases (yum! but more on that in another post!) and I realized I had neglected to post the poems that Joan Macbeth sent me from our March workshop at OCRW that were inspired by and written while tasting OCRW’s Napa Valley Cabernet and other wines as well as by the ranch itself. Here’s a link to the poem I wrote about the cab; here’s a link to the poem Danika wrote about the Old Creek Ranch Cab she loved so much she bought a bottle and took it back to Canada to share with her husband! Danika explains the workshop and the process here.

Keep reading for Joan’s poems about Old Creek Ranch Winery’s cabernet sauvignon and grenache.

Continue reading

2 Upcoming Twitter Tastings: Merlot Day Th. May 19 & Planet Bordeaux Fri May 20

I’ll be participating in twitter tastings next Thursday and Friday–and you’re invited to join along!

For Thursday May 19’s virtual tasting, anyone can taste and tweet about their favorite merlot wines.

I found about it last month when St Francis offered to send me a bottle so I could participate. I said yes, of course! Although I always thought merlot a fine red wine, I fell in love with Washington merlot last spring (especially love it with salmon and seared ahi tuna) and I’ve been much more open minded about merlot from other regions ever since.

St. Francis Winery & Vineyards was the first Sonoma County winery to plant and produce Merlot with their first vintage in 1983. Wine lovers across the country can participate in St. Francis #Merlot Day by signing up, free of charge, at and opening a bottle of their favorite Merlot. The 24 hour tasting starts at 12:01am with participants sharing tasting notes and images of their favorite Merlot on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #Merlot.  Even better, participate by visiting the winery and attending the KJZY radio station Happy Hour from 5:30 to 8:00pm and meet Winemaker Tom Mackey.

St. Francis’ winemaker Tom Mackey has been heralded by the press as the ‘Master of Merlot.’  According to St Francis, “For over 35 years, St. Francis Winery in Sonoma has hand-crafted fruit forward, luscious and full-bodied wines from superior mountain and valley vineyards in Sonoma County’s best appellations.   While most renowned for its red varietals, including its Zinfandel (all old vines 60 – 110 years old), Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Francis also produces a noteworthy Chardonnay.  St. Francis Sonoma County wines are bursting with flavor and are recognized globally for outstanding quality and great value. Visit us at

On Friday, May 20th I’ll be participating in a live Twitter tasting for more wines from Planet Bordeaux (Bordeaux and Bordeaux Superieur). Just in time for summer, they plan to send me white, rosé, and clairet wines this time around.

You can follow along on twitter by checking out the hashtag #planetbordeaux from 7:00pm to 9:00pm Eastern and 4:00pm to 6:00pm Pacific. Learn more about

Which wine do you pair with a PC person?

So if you were going to hazard a guess on what kind of wine to give someone based on what kind of computer that person uses, would you guess PC people prefer whites and Mac folks go for red wines? Or vice versa? What varietals do you think Mac people vs PC people choose? Dare you serve meat on a cheese plate?

According to research released April 26, 2011 and compiled from recommendation site Hunch (one of those applications where you start by answering a bunch of seemingly unrelated questions, and based on your answers, Hunch offers recommendations by correlating your answers with preferences for you and others)  in collaboration with Column Five Media,

people who identify themselves as Mac users drink red wines, specifically Chianti, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cotes du Rhone while PC people prefer white wines like California style Chardonnay, White Zinfandel, and Pinot Grigio.

The chart shows a number of other fascinating differences between Mac and PC people but this factoid about wine drinkers and computer users was the one that stood out for me! Oh, and you better stick to just cheese with the wine for Mac folks since there’s an 80% higher chance that they are a vegetarian.

But before all those marketers for Rhone wine blends start chasing after Mac people, keep in mind what one commenter said: “It’s probably important to remind the audience (though I wouldn’t suspect it of readers of this particular blog!) that hunch users are not necessarily a super accurate proxy of the general computer-using population.”

I also suspect that income has something to do with it…but that info isn’t on the chart which you can find here: