Hooray for Central Coast Rose for #WinePW

Have you caught the rose’ train yet?

With the current wild proliferation and profusion of rose wine on today’s market, many people have discovered that the rose you find today is not at all like the sweet characterless wine you found in grandma’s glass a few years ago.

Even Brangelina and Drew Barrymore are on the rose train. In the video below, Drew explains how to taste wine and then…

well and then she puts her foot in her mouth and makes a number of ridiculous and false statements while holding her glass by the bowl which warms the wine (and smudges the glass!). Read about everything that’s wrong in the video here.    

Scroll down for a much better video about how to make rose– from someone who is a winemaker first and not an actor.

So if you don’t have rose in your glass yet, you will soon: according to data from Nielsen Co., “rosé has been one of the fastest-growing segments of the market for two years running.”  And Bloomberg reports that  rosé outsells red  wine AND white wine in France while in Australia rosé is the fastest growing wine style.

But it’s not white zin that’s caught our fancy because white zin’s market share is dropping rapidly: instead we are in the pink with ones more similar to the rosé wines of Provence: while more expensive, these pink wines are sophisticated, dry, and crisp, they cut the heat to leave us refreshed, and they pair well with food.

To help you sort through the proliferation, we’ve tasted four from the Central Coast  and paired them with SHRIMP CORN FRITTERS (OMG so good!) and have some ideas for you when this month the #WinePW crew once again say HOORAY for Rose with our theme for August Wine Pairing Weekend Chat is Rosé and… because there are so many ways to pair food with a Rosé.  And because there is so much to say on the subject, we have two  from Chile that I will be publishing about on Monday which is International Rose Day! (Not to be confused with NATIONAL Rose Day which is in June and we wrote about here and more about rose from France and Lodi  here.)

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Explore Wine and Cuisine of Portugal in September with #WinePW

Until October 2009, I had no idea there was so much more to wine in Portugal than Port: in fact I knew practically nothing about wine from Portugal except that I liked Port.

And then I was selected by Jo Diaz and Enoforum wine to attend the European Wine Bloggers Conference in Lisbon followed by travel throughout the Alentejo region to taste wine and experience the culture and countryside before returning to Lisbon where we saw a few sights and then flew home.  During the conference I visited a cork forest and learned about the production of corks from tree to table, discovered how fabulous the cuisine of Portugal is, experienced the deep appreciation they have for the literary arts, explored castles and gazed on Roman aqueducts, and of course, developed a palate for wine from Portugal that is not Port.

And a whole lot more including a reasonable explanation for why we in the US are so unfamiliar with wine from Portugal: because they have always drank all of it themselves!

Until recently, the Portuguese drank up almost all of the wine they were able to produce. It is only recently that they have been able to make enough wine to export.

Lucky us!


To state that the trip was transformative is an understatement.  Continue reading

Off to the Alps for #ItalianFWT

photo of Merano in the Italian Alps by Brittany Wallace

Far, far above, piercing the infinite sky,
Mont Blanc appears—still, snowy, and serene—
Its subject mountains their unearthly forms
Pile around it, ice and rock; broad vales between
Of frozen floods, unfathomable deeps,
Blue as the overhanging heaven, that spread
And wind among the accumulated steeps;

— Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mont Blanc: Lines Written in the Vale of Chamouni

Can’t get away to the Alps this summer to eat, drink, and see Mont Blanc?  Travel virtually with us!


Formed when the Africa plate slammed into the Eurasian Plate over 700 million years ago, today the Alps span 750 miles in length and 160 miles in width (more or less) crossings the borders of eight countries: Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Slovenia, and Switzerland  along a ridge with high passes and with eight peaks over 14,000′ tall.

The red zone is 1000-2000 meters while the white part is 2000-4000 meters; Mt Whitney, the tallest point in the continental United States is 14,494′ — above 4,000′

When the two plates collided, for 300-400 million years, layers of rock of European, African and oceanic origins formed the mountains; for example, the Dolomites or Pale Mountains in northeastern Italy, are made of  a type of limestone while to the south and west granite makes up the Mount Blanc Massif which straddles France and Italy. Glaciers scraped away layers leaving behind piles of stone or glacial moraines which created subalpine lakes and valleys as well as influencing the large verdant plain where the Po River flows from the Alps to the Adriatic Sea.


Home to humans for over 10,000 years, these mountains shape 14 million people and unite them with strong traditions in farming, forestry, woodworking, baking, sausage and cheesemaking; the region’s steep terrain secluded and protected them so that their culture and cuisine has barely changed since the medieval period and is similar no matter which side of the mountain you are on.

During the medieval period, the Romans built roads and developed monasteries, which in the 19th century, sheltered travelers, and became tourist destinations.

Which brings us to the subject of this blog post: the wine made in the northern-most monastery and one of the oldest in Italy– Abbazia di Novella along with the cuisine from Alpine Italy to pair with it. Abbazia di Novella in Varna, Italy has been in operation for nearly 900 years; today the abbey houses 27 monks. We tasted two wines, Alto Adige Valle Isarco Kerner – 2014  and 2015 SRP $19.00 and Pinot Grigio 2014.

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Celebrating Albarino Days 2017 with Atlantis, Sextant, Harney Lane

Was Albarino Day yesterday August 1 or today August 2? Or every day? Depends on who you ask!

With the “Sixth International Albariño Days” set for August 2-7, 2017, TAPAS invites you to celebrate the Albariño grape with the hashtag #AlbarinoFiesta or check out one of these TAPAS events.

Harney Lane Albarino paired with fish tacos with mango? YES!

Celebrating Albarino this week coincides with the Fiesta del Albariño held in the small coastal town of Cambados, Spain, a traditional home for Albarino in Rias Baixas, Galicia region of northwestern Spain known for producing crisp, acidic white wines ideal for seafood and other pairings.


The back of the Atlantis Albarino sports a handy map of the region of Spain.

Close proximity to the Atlantic Ocean means high annual rainfall and extreme humidity. Fortunately, the Albarino grape has a thick skin and small berries making it tough enough to survive the damp conditions of the rain-lashed coast without the threat of fungal disease, writes the Market Report which also predicts the ascent in popularity of Albarino as folks begin to ask for it:

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What Went Down in June and July: What We’ll Open in August

In my grandfather’s wine cellar drinking from a bottle of my grandfather’s sherry that is older than I am …

In June I published 14 posts (and over 20,000 words!) but in July I lagged and this is only number 7. However, I did hit a milestone:

This is blog post #608 which means I hit the ticker of 600 blog posts here on Wine Predator in late June and by July 1 with this post about “real” or dry Lambrusco featuring an amazing dinner by Sue as well as yummy cocktails I hit 602! Anyone want a Lambrusco Negroni to celebrate ? 

By the midway point of 2017, I published 54 posts; add in July and I’m up to 61. Not too bad if I may say so myself. My goal is the lofty and auspicious number of 108 — an average of two a week– and I would say I am on track to achieve that goal as long as I publish 8-10 posts each month for the rest of the year… and since I average 1500 words per post, that’s another 150,000 words!

I could NOT do this without a strong team — thanks so much to Sue Hill who joined in the fun about five years ago, in 2012. She’s awesome in the kitchen and taking notes — plus she has a great palate.

Marshall grilling burgers with Sue a blur in the background

And  a huge thank you to Marshall for all of his help in the kitchen and on the grill — he does almost all of the grilling and the meat as well as most of the dishes and I’ll tell you there are plenty used when we are staging photos!

So what went down in June and July of 2017 and what’s up for August?

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Tie Dye, Zinfandel, Burgers: Summer of Love 50th Anniversary BBQ

What comes to mind when you think Summer of Love? How about long-haired hippies wearing tie dye and drinking wine?

we tie dyed this shirt for Lucy in the Sky

In 1967, 75,000-100,000 young people converged onto San Francisco in what became known as the “Summer of Love.”

That makes this summer the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love. And to mark this date, San Francisco and other communities including Ventura are holding events and exhibitions in commemoration. Ventura’s Museum has a special exhibition up through August and events include the Grateful Tribute Band Cubensis.. Read more about how the Summer of Love began in this Vanity Fair article.

the wine that inspired the party… which I thought was a Lodi zin…

And what can you do? Well, how about hosting a tie dye party? That’s what Sue and John did! With plenty of zinfandel and burgers too!

Because anyone can throw a backyard BBQ but why not mix it up by offering a craft or organizing a tasting? And make it easy by offering a burger bar with sides prepared in advance and shared potluck style!

We invited a bunch of people and we gathered a case or so of different bottles of Zinfandel– and one Tie Dye red blend. One person supplied the tasting note sheets, and we opened the bottles around a big table with some appetizers in the center. While the corn and turkey and beef burgers were cooking, we tasted the wines and wrote down our notes and votes. We encouraged folks to taste the white zin first but other than that, people tasted the wine that was closest to them and in general worked their way clockwise around the table. Then we converged on the burger bar, loaded up our plates, and tasted the wines with food. And at one point or another, people did some tie-dying!

Barry and Edie getting their tie dye on!

And this is what we came up with!

Note: We had everyone vote for their favorite #1, #2 and #3 by placing a raffle ticket in a jar with the number on it. We assigned first place votes 3 points, second place votes 2 points, and third place votes 1 point. If a wine received a #1 vote, I wrote the score down. Read on to see which one won!

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Taco Tuesday: 3 Fresh White Viura Wines from Spain

July! You have slipped by so fast we almost missed out on our monthly edition of Taco Tuesday!

This month we are inspired by a fresh strawberries, lime, and shrimp recipe from the current issue of Edible Ventura County paired with three crisp, bright white Viura wines from Spain.

This simple menu let the wines shine– and brought out all of the various flavors in the food! MAGIC!

The crunch of the jicama with the bit of strawberry makes this taco a unique combination of flavor explosions. I loved the strawberry notes with these wines. This wine and food pairing for this evening was over the top, the food the wine, it all went perfectly. Bright acidity in wine, and bright acidity in the food.

Mexican shrimp cocktail with chips
Oysters from the Baja’s Jolly Oyster and Vons

Main course
Strawberry shrimp tacos with strawberry jicama salsa

WINES from Spain

All three wines wowed us — so good with the food! So refreshing for the price! All three $12 or under.

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