May There Be Bubbles for Brunch! Plus Negronis, Strata for #WinePW

Let’s Do Brunch! So said Sue and I in suggesting this month’s Wine Pairing Weekend prompt.  We had no idea that this is actually #BrunchWeek for food bloggers who are also writing about Brunch this week!

But how many bloggers are writing about BRUNCH and WINE? Well, I’ll bet quite a few because for many a defining feature and interest in brunch is that they probably invented brunch so we could have wine with breakfast!

And for many, wine at brunch means BUBBLES! And while this was indeed true for many of us participating in Wine Pairing Weekend (scroll down and you’ll see!), Sue and I fell in love with a special Brunch Negroni! Continue reading

Grateful for Exciting Sparkling Wine From Franciacorta Italy

Today is the second Franciacorta twitter tasting that I’ve had the opportunity to participate in, thanks to Balzac Communications.

Before September, I don’t think I’d ever tasted this sparkling wine from Italy that rivals Champagne in quality, but is much lesser known. You’d be amazed at the quality that you can get for the money–I know I was!

Tune in to twitter #Franciacorta to see what we think about today’s line-up. Post to follow soon with more tasting notes.1474638_10151785497985924_997366342_n

I’m also planning on spending some time with that massive map they sent to learn more about this region that I hope to visit one day soon!

PS And no, I am NOT going to let my son saber the bottles with his new Minecraft sword because Rusty Ginger fought him off!

Happy Lunar New Year! Wines to Celebrate & Pair with Asian Cuisine

chinese new year prayerMay you be happy.

May all your thoughts be positive
and your experiences be good.

May you be free of problems, sickness, and sadness.

May your life be long and peaceful
and may you quickly reach enlightenment.

–Metta prayer

The year of the Black Snake begins on Sunday February 10, 2013  with the new moon rising in Aquarius–and I’m celebrating with an Italian wine!

BuddhaTet2013smAccording to Geomancer and Philosopher Paul Ng, the year 2013 is “Mountain-Thunder Rhythm”– a year of conservation, a year of rebuilding, and a year of changes. says that “the year of Snake is meant for steady progress and attention to detail. Focus and discipline will be necessary for you to achieve what you set out to create.”

The Snake is “enigmatic, intuitive, introspective, refined.” Hmmn, I wonder which wines are SNAKE wines??

If you will be celebrating with Chinese or another Asian cuisine, you might be wondering what wine to pair with the complex, often spicy dishes. Continue reading

What’s On the Wine Predator Horizon: November 2012 Tastings

Over here at Wine Predator, last month was hectic with twitter tastings  and Champagne Day plus reviewing The Divining Rod for Halloween.

This month we’re harvesting wines like crazy and RSVPing to tastings and other events! I’ve got lots of exciting samples to review including the very festive Enza Proseco ($15) and a number of twitter tastings and events on the calendar. Remember, for these twitter tastings, all you need to do to participate is check out the hashtag# for the event on twitter. (And no you don’t have to be ON twitter to check out what’s happening on twitter! Continue reading

SICILY! And more EXPLOSIVE excitement September 19!

Using spittoon at a wine tasting Français : dé...

Using spittoon at a wine tasting Français : dégustation d’un vin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

September 19, 2012 I will definitely be doing wine related activities. And lots of wine tasting. And yes, a lot of spitting too.

First, I was invited to join the September 19 Thirsty Girl Twitter Tasting of Handcraft Wines. Then I was invited to join the next Cafe 140 Twitter Tasting. Then I received an invitation to an industry tasting of the San Francisco International Wine Competition award-winning wines. All on the same day.

Fortunately, September 19 is a day that I can devote to wine tasting.

Then, on Wednesday morning, as I was preparing to run some errands and then post about #CabernetDay and #PinotSmackdown, I checked my email and saw one from Elisabetta Tosi, a wine blogger and the Italian Ambassador to Palate Press.

She was writing to invite me to join a wine blogging tour of the Mt Etna wine region in Sicily. In two weeks. September 19-23.

Organized by Consorzio Tutela Vini Etna D.O.C., in collaboration with Fermenti Digitali and with support of Camera di Commercio di Catania, this is a tour for wine bloggers organized by wine bloggers. How cool but…no way! I had to teach, I had to write papers for grad school, who would get my kid to school…and how could I get a flight at this last-minute that would fit their budget? So I headed off on my errands.

And then it hit me–ITALY! WINE! VOLCANO! YES YES YES YES YES! Of course, YES! What in the world was I thinking? Of course I could make it work in order to go to Sicily and learn about and taste wines grown on the side of THE MOST ACTIVE VOLCANO in the WORLD!

I did a bunch of research. And that made me want to go even more to taste these wines that are getting a lot of attention! And I figured out how to put all the pieces together–except the flight part. There were no flights available for 500 euros. It was going to take 1000 euros to get this California girl onto Sicilian soil.

The bad news is, this September 19 I’m not going to be tasting and writing about wines grown on Mt Etna.

The good news is, they plan to invite me on the next trip planned for spring or possible fall 2013. Which will give me more time to prepare for the trip. And I’ll be home in California September 19 tasting and tweeting away.

You’re invited to join in the fun: you can subscribe and read about my adventures in wine and you can pick up the wines we’ll be tasting. Continue reading

Octavin Sauv Blanc Goes to See the Beach Boys at Ventura County Fair’s Seaside Park

Last night we decided to take a picnic to to see the Beach Boys at the Ventura County Fair’s Seaside Park Grandstand.

(Actually, the Beach Boys were playing at the Fair inside the Fairgrounds–we planned to watch from the beach outside the Fairgrounds as you can see from the accompanying photo!)

We packed up a dinner of Trader Joe’s beet and chicken salad (supplemented with more greens, tomatoes from our garden and pine nuts), TJs chicken wine country salad, pita bread, humous, home made pasta salad with roasted vegetables, carrot sticks and sharp cheddar cheese.  has claimed August as “Pinot Grigio” month with this site (and a new wine to spotlight each month in the works), I thought we’d start celebrating with a sample of a 2010 Italian Pinot Grigio, Attems, that I thought would be a good match with the chicken. I pulled the plastic cork as we were packing up, tasting it to make sure it was good and to take a few tasting notes on it for a blog post. Mmn, good! Melon…honeysuckle…tropical fruit…rich…nice!

But when I went to pack it in my pannier with the rest of the picnic and our plastic GoVino glasses, I wondered if I was making the right choice. Was the glass bottle going to break or spill? I probably shouldn’t have opened it first. I thought about how there were going to be four adults–was there going to be enough?

I opened the refrigerator and there was a Silver Birch New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc Octavin sample sitting there in the fridge where my husband put it when it arrived the other day.

Hmmn, I thought to myself–I wonder if this Octavin wine is good enough to bring to share with friends, one who has a discerning palate? It’s certainly portable. It wouldn’t get knocked over and spilled. There would be plenty–the box holds the equivalent of four bottles. But was it heavy? Actually, no–and the size is quite compact.

I opened it by pushing in the cardboard, pulling out the nozzle, giving it a twist and out came the wine in a squirt. It certainly had familiar New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc characteristics: very pale in color, lots of bright citrus (grapefruit, lemon, lime) in the nose, fresh and crisp on the palate (can you say citrus and green apple?), almost sharp, with a clean finish and 13% alcohol. There isn’t a whole lot of complexity here but that’s okay! This is a picnic at a concert! You can find it just about anywhere in its distinctive turquoise 8 sided box for around $20. (I know–it’s amazing how inexpensive good wine can be when it’s not in an expensive bottle!)

So that’s how a box of Octavin NZ Sauvignon Blanc got into my pannier while the pinot grigio went in the fridge for another day! Off we rode on our bikes along the beach path to see the Beach Boys at the Ventura County Fair’s Seaside Park Grandstand where it pleased my friends (if not my husband–he’s a bigger pinot grigio fan than a sauv blanc fan!)

Since all four of us last night who tasted it are long time Burners, the Octavin Sauv Blanc will definitely go on my list of recommended wines for Burning Man! More reviews of wines for Burning Man to follow!  You can see that the Octavin is right at home on the bumper of a rental truck!

As much fun as our picnic was last night, tonight we’ve got a chicken roasting on the barbeque and we’re staying home for dinner–we’ve got a date with that bottle of Attems pinot grigio! (Review soon!) Then we’re riding our bikes over to the Fairgrounds with some other Burner friends and their kids to watch REO Speedwagon at 7:30pm.

Yep, that’s us–we just roll with the changes! For the full line-up and the skinny on fair entertainment, read on…

The Ventura County Fair every year offers “free” Grandstand Entertainment with your $12 paid admission to the Fair! But even better, if you’ve had your fill of the fair and you don’t want to pay $12 just for the “free” entertainment, you can ride your bike along the beach bike trail and find a spot where you can hear the concert and even watch it on the jumbotron which is wh … Read More

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