Sunday, November 8, 2015

Deck The Halls and Fill The Cellar!

The holidays!!!  What a great reason/excuse to fill your cellar with various types of wine!  Some of the wines would definitely be your personal favorites, others could be bottles that you've always wanted to try and the last few could be strictly for the cellar.  Let's go shopping!  Click here.

The Vine Wine Club has partnered with other small businesses this holiday season to offer you some of the best and most creative gift ideas for adults.  Thank you for supporting us!  Whether you are buying gifts for yourself or others or you simply want to share our list of gift giving ideas with others, we want to help you.  The Vine Wine Club is making it easier to find the perfect gift for wine lovers all over Virginia.  Of course, gift certificates to wine classes and tickets to The Exclusive Blacklist are fabulous gifts, but we have even more to offer.

"The Gourmet at Home" Gift Package:  Enjoy two bottles of wine, one white and one red, plus a signed copy of the acclaimed cookbook by Paula Garrett, "From Miss to Mrs:  Recipes to Capture His Heart."  $50 plus shipping.  Orders must be placed by December 12, 2015 to guarantee Christmas Delivery.

Shoes and Elephants:  Get a bottle of Shoe Crazy Wine and a signed copy of "Conversing with The Elephant: Things Your Girlfriends Don't Have The Balls to Tell You" by Terricinia St. Clair. $30 plus shipping.  Order must be placed by December 12, 2015 to guarantee Christmas Delivery.  

A Sweet Treat:  Get 4 Tastrie Jars (Desserts baked in a jar by JBel's Tastries") and a bottle of our sweetest new craze "Little Bosco".  $45 INCLUDES shipping. (The dessert will arrive in separate packaging)

The Vine Wine Club 3 Month Membership:  For only $99 receive 2 bottles of the best pours delivered directly to your door.  Includes shipping.  If this is a gift, we will send a card to the receiver to let them know that the wine delivery will begin in January 2016.  

Holiday "Cellar"bration:  Get 4 bottles of top rated and limited produced wine from our new "Thirty-6" for $180 plus shipping (at least a $200 value).  In order to secure this prior to Christmas, the order must be placed no later than December 12, 2015.

So get your shopping started by simply going online and taking advantage of these easy ways to put a smile on someone's face.  Click here to visit The Vine Wine Club to take advantage of these great gift ideas.  Need help or more ideas?  Call us at 804-993-4130.

Happy Shopping!

SAVE THE DATE:  December 1, 2015, The Vine Wine Club is launching "Thirty-6".  Thirty-6 is our cellar of top rated and limited produced wines that are perfect for drinking today and even better when saved in ideal conditions.  We will feature 36 of the world's finest varietals from the most prestigious regions.  Our members will be invited to our private tasting party in January.  Stay tuned!

Monday, October 12, 2015

What are You Afraid Of?

I know that many in the wine industry have had this experience.  What happens is you're doing a wine tasting and someone comes to the table and say that I want something sweet.  There can be any number of wines on the table that folks may taste for free.  I'm not taking about one of those places where you pay a price to taste and you can only pick a select number that you want to sample.  But I am talking about the ones that you can end up having a couple of glasses of wine in tastings alone.  I probably shouldn't care when people want to stay in their comfort zones all of the time. But I do care! So excuse me while I stand on my soapbox!

#1. Wine tastings are for more than just to sell a customer wine.  A purpose of wine tastings is to educate.  We (I mean those of us in the industry) take pride in being able to explain the subtleties in the wine, talk about the great growing regions and the phenomenal season that helped to result in this little piece of "heaven" in a bottle.  We are poised and ready to talk "shop" because we've prepared and we've picked wines specifically for you.  When customers come to the table where we have lined the wines up in order of lightest to darkest with a few exceptions and ask for something sweet, it feels like cold water has been thrown on us.  We can offer the sweetest wine that we have.  If the customer doesn't like it, they walk away like we've offered them dirty socks.  Or worse, believe and tell others that we don't have any "good" wine.

#2.  What's sweet to one person isn't sweet to another person.  I will share an example from last week.  We were tasting out a Prosecco and one person said that it was sweet.  I personally wouldn't define it as sweet but I am just one person.  Wine can be somewhat subjective.  I have found a tinge of sweetness in some Merlots while others think that it is as dry as the Mojave Desert.  We taste things differently.  If you are at a wine tasting, use this opportunity to ask the expert why that is.  That's why they are there.

#3.  When you taste wine at your favorite shop, you are helping the shop/store owners to select wines to be on their shelves.  Do your part!  If you taste it and don't like it, take the opportunity to say what you don't like about it.  It's simple.  You better believe that if the masses think it isn't worth the shelf space, you won't see it again in that shop.

What are you afraid of?  Taste the small portion.  If you don't like it, spit it out or dump it.  Eat an oyster cracker to get the taste out of your mouth, drink water, and move to the next one.  Something may happen.  And that could be that you find something else that you like.  Write down the names of what you like or take a picture of the label with your phones.  When you shop or eat out, share the wine that you liked with the server and see if they have something similar.  There are so many varietals of wine; too many to limit your options to just one flavor profile.  Be adventurous, be fearless, taste wine.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Have a Glass (or Two or Five) of Italy

Enjoying wine can be more than simply enjoying what's in your glass.  Not that there is anything wrong with that.  Just play along with me and pretend, if you will, that there is something else going on.  I promise that I will bring you back to the deliciousness of the vino.

About eight years ago, I traveled for 10 days in Italy with some really good friends and wine drinkers. Tuscany made me fall in love with wines from this region.  Having seen the hillsides, valleys, and the luxurious vines, I feel a kinship and sense of familiarity when I drink Italian wines.  I smell the earthiness in the luscious reds and enjoy the lushness of the greenery that I taste on the palate.  The kiss of the sun and coolness of the nights is evident in the well balanced presentation of fruit and acidity.  Every sip makes me want to go back.  

A wine maker once explained to me that wine is about the soil, the sun, and water.  I can't argue with that because grapes, like any other fruit or vegetable, need those key ingredients to grow.  We all know that the amount of water and sun impact the rate of growth and ripeness, and we know that every soil isn't as fertile as others.  Therefore, the same grape doesn't grow the same in all parts of the world.  So what are we experiencing in our glass is a direct "taste" of where the grape was grown.  The beauty of studying wines from a specific region is that you learn to understand the nuances of grapes from that particular part of the world.  What's in your glass brings travel to you.  Next week, we bring Italy to Richmond.  

The Vine Wine Club's Winter Wine School presents "A Tour of Italy: Italian Wine Class" on Wednesday, October 14, 2015.  Taste delicious wines from various wine regions such as Gavi, Brunello, and Barolo.  Learn to appreciate what makes these regions so special.  

I hope to see you in class!

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Thursday, September 3, 2015

Meritage: I Thought You Knew

A couple of weeks ago on "Off The Vine with Benita and Terricinia", we were having a conversation all the while tasting some really nice wines from Hayes Valley Vineyards.  Recently, I went back and (bravely) listened to the show.  First let me apologize for the shenanigans and silliness.  We've warned you that if you want to learn anything from the show, you should tune in early because once we start, it goes down from there.  But on the more serious side, I heard myself mention that I was drinking a Meritage.  I said it with confidence and a conviction that everyone listening knew what I was talking about.  I said it with an unintentional arrogance.  So please forgive me for being a snob that one time.

So what is Meritage?  Meritage is a wine that is made of two or more of specific noble grapes of Bordeaux.  It can be either red or white. In making a Meritage, no grapes can comprise more than 90% of the blend.  If these specific qualities are not met, you got yourself some other blend but not a Meritage.  The name itself (rhymes with heritage) is made up of the word "merit" which reflects the quality of the grapes and "heritage" which represents tradition.  A Meritage does not have to be produced in France.  They are made all over the world. The one that I was drinking is from Central Coast (California).

There are a lot of wines and wine terms that are "givens" for what is actually in the bottle.  For instance, Pouilly- Fuisse is Chardonnay, Vouvray is Chenin Blanc, etc.  We know that because we've learned that.  We've learned that there are specific regions that produce wines from very specific grapes.  In most instances, the wines are named after the regions and not the grape.  I don't know about you, but I am starting to see more winemakers "dumb down" the labels to tell us exactly what's in the bottle.  For that, I am grateful.  I don't want every time that I drink wine to turn into a test of my memory of geography.  I'm exhausted just thinking about it!

Want to win a pair of tickets to a wine class?  Email me at with the "noble" grapes that can be used to make a red Meritage.  The contest ends on September 18, 2015.  We will enter the correct responses in a drawing for two tickets to our "How To Taste Wine Like a Pro" class that takes place on October 1, 2015.

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Sunday, August 23, 2015

Dear Wine, I've Cheated but I Love You Still

I was raised by my dad.  When he had his friends over, I never saw little cute drinks with umbrellas in them.  I rarely saw them mix anything with orange juice and never even had cranberry juice in my refrigerator until I became an adult.  When I think back, the only wine we had was Tawny Port. and trust me, it wasn't a good one.  What I saw were various versions of liquid that looked like tea and smelled like gasoline. (And burned like hell!)  I knew that one day, although I've become sorta like a wine expert, I would take it back "home" to explore what my father and his friends were drinking and cozy up to the brown liquor.

So here is my confession.  I have fallen in love with Bourbon.

Recently, G and I visited a friend who is a real Bourbon connoisseur.  He has launched a company that does Bourbon education through classes or parties.  His Bourbon stash looked more robust than most ABC store whiskey aisles!  During our visit, our friend treated us to one of his Bourbon "tours".  We discussed many of the nuances that make this fine whiskey as diverse and refined as wine.  Made with at least 51% corn in new oak barrels that have been charred on the inside, I found that the care put into achieving optimal results was no different than the making of a quality wine.  As we talked, even the language in describing the nose, taste, and textures were no different than what we use when we talk about the qualities of wine.  After tasting about 9 different Bourbons, I knew that I could do this all night and still not know all that there is to know about the complexities of Bourbon.  But because I'm in love, the courtship will continue.

Any good Sommelier should know not only wine but spirits as well.  So I am committed to stepping up my game by becoming a Bourbon Sommelier (yes, that is a real things!).  Over the next few months, my friend and I will be planning an event that features my two and stay tuned!

If you're interested in a Bourbon tasting or class, email me at  I will pass your information along to my friend (until we officially rollout his marketing plan).

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Drink Pink!: A Quick Lesson in Rose'

I love a good Rose'.  To me, they go perfectly with lots of foods and are even as great as your chosen sipping wine. I don't know that I am the only one but the first time I had a Rose' that wasn't White Zinfandel, I expected sweet and fruity.  Some are!  But they can also be bone dry, like the first one that I had ever tasted.

Today's blog can be classified as a quick intro to Rose'.  It isn't meant to be heady or is just meant to answer some very basic questions.  So if you are looking for big, fancy, wine words, stop reading now!  It's Thursdays AKA Little Friday!  Chill out!

What is a Rose'?  Where does that pink juice come from?  Well you're right if you said that they come from red grapes where the skin has had very limited contact with the juice.  You're also right if you said that it is a combination of a little white wine and a little red wine.  We did learn in kindergarten that red and white make pink, right?  The first method that I briefly described is the most common method.  I will admit that I think that second method, although acceptable in the wine world, is cheating.

Are Rose' wines sweet?  I guess they can be but, like other wines, Rose' wines come from all over the world and take on the characteristics of the grape used to make it.  What is missing is the tannins that are sometimes associated with red wines.  Since the tannins come from the skin, you don't get that with a Rose'.  Pink wines made from grapes and in a style that traditionally produce a more acidic juice, you can expect the same from that juice, acidic and a great compliment to your meal.  If the grape and style making traditionally produces a more fruit forward wine, you can expect the Rose' to be very fruity and soft with notes of berry.

Where is Rose' produced?  EVERYWHERE!  About a week ago, I had the opportunity to drink pink from Vinho Verde!  What???  I thought that all wines from Vinho Verde had to be green.  That is what the name translates to, right?  Well this Rose' from that Vinho Verde region was as light and crisp as one of my favorite summer sippers.

Join us tomorrow on "Off The Vine with Benita and Terricinia" as we devote our entire show to Rose' wines.  We will be joined by our well-informed guest Brian Fairtile as he accompany us on a trip around the world with Rose'.  To join us, click here Friday at 3:00 pm.


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Make Mine with Wine

You already know what happens when Mel and I go into the lab....mayhem!  And sometimes, something good comes out of it.  Last summer, we did just that!  Our mission:  to make our favorite cocktails with wine.  And today, we want to share another one of our creations with you.

Who doesn't love a Margarita?  And in this weather, few cocktails are more refreshing.  Lots of citrus with a touch of sweetness, nothing says "welcome to summer" quite like a Margarita.  So when we started our quest to create our own Margarita without using Tequila, I automatically thought of Sauvignon Blanc.  The citrusy notes in Sauvignon Blanc always remind me of warm temperatures (and I don't know why).  In my typical recipe, I use a lime, half a lemon, and half an orange with one and a half ounce of Tequila, and an ounce of Grand Marnier.  Depending on my company, I may squeeze in a half ounce Agave Nectar or simple syrup.  So with the intense grapefruit notes in the Sauvignon Blanc, I immediately knew that I would have to retrieve the Agave from the cupboard.  I must admit that this was one of the toughest and most challenging cocktails that we've attempted to duplicate.  The balance of the wine and the limes had to be just right to keep the flavors that we love.  So after a few versions and the okay from our mystery taster, here is our recipe!  We invite you to try it, and tell us how you like it.

1 1/2 oz. Sauvignon Blanc
1/2 lime
1/2 lemon
1/2 orange
1 oz Grand Marnier or Triple Sec
1 oz Agave Nectar (if you need more sweetness)

Shake over ice and served in your favorite chilled glass.  Cheers!

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Sunday, July 12, 2015

Wine Pairs Well with Everything!

When I was a child, I would cringe when I saw my grandfather put ketchup on his eggs.  I am not sure if it was due to my bias that ketchup only belonged on cheeseburgers and french fries or my dislike of eggs.  Although I will never try my grandfather's combination, I've learned to appreciate that maybe it is similar to an omelette that features tomatoes.  In my house, ketchup is a staple.  My son likes it on almost everything.  When I commented that to him, he replied that ketchup is to him as wine is to me...I like it with everything.  As much as I hate to admit it, he is right.

Champagne with brunch, something crisp and white in the evening with my fruit salad, and a little Tawny Port as my dessert; wine is so versatile.  We enjoy it with many of our activities such as paint parties, wine and cheese receptions, and book club meetings.  Wine has become a staple at Ladies' Nights and just the simple excuse needed to have a party.  Wine is a great connector.  I have met so many people over wine and many have become my friends.  We've laughed, cried, traveled, and solved problems.  It is a great conversation starter as well as a favorite night cap. In wine bars, I've never seen a bar fight.  It is the beverage of the peacemakers and the elixir of the "cool". Some of us in the industry get caught up in wine pairings but the smartest among us know that wine is best paired with friends.

In honor of summer, enjoy a glass with me today.  Cheers!!!

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Saturday, July 4, 2015

When Was The Last Time You Had Viognier?

It’s been years ago but I remember this story well.  We always remember the stories that make us feel some kinda way.  It was in 2006.  I was in Charlotte taking my intro Sommelier course.  The four instructors were all Master Sommeliers.  During the breaks, they engaged the class and asked the common question, “Where are you from?”  My ears perked up when I overheard one of the other students reply that he was from Virginia.  The instructor had a slight smile on his face.  My thought was that it was a good smile since Virginia was finally on the map as a serious wine making state. So I was waiting for him to say some good things about the wines that were being produced in VA.  “Viognier is the only noteworthy wine that comes out of Virginia.”  Those words stung.  Not that I had enough knowledge to argue what he said with anything other than affinity and loyalty to my home state.  Heck, I didn’t even drink a lot of Virginia wine myself.  But I wanted to hear that Virginia was making wines that could rank against some of the finest in the world.  I never heard those words that day.

So, when I got home, I wanted to pay attention to Viognier.  Before I heard the commentary between the instructor and fellow student, I had drank Viognier several times but had never paid any real attention to it.  I liked it well enough but I really couldn’t share any distinguishing characteristics if my life depended on it.  I had to change that.  In Virginia, it was easy to find Viognier.  What I like about Viognier is that it reminds me of spring.  With hints of honeysuckle, the grape produces a wine that is round, well-balanced, and perfect with a mixed green salad, chicken, fish or simply chilled in a glass.  Popular in the Rhone region (France), it is growing in popularity in the United States.  The grape benefits from a long, warm growing season and can sustain in drier or drought conditions. 

If you haven’t tried Viognier, don’t let the season so by without doing so.  If you are fortunate enough to be in Virginia, get a bottle of something local.  It is delicious with fruit, light cheese, and white fish dishes.  A great beverage to beat the summer heat, try Viognier today.

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Sunday, June 28, 2015

Pairing Smairing....Just Drink What You Like!

Last week, Off The Vine with Benita and Terricinia was a great show!  Not that others haven't been great but our guest and my friend Brian Fairtile made it extra special.  Of course it is always to connect with old friends (Brian and go way back like car seats), but to have a "second" to what Terricinia and I say all of the time.  Our radio show discussion related to grilling, the wines that we typically drink with grilled foods and why.  Not only is Brian a wine expert, he also co-hosts a radio show called "Grilliant Ideas".  Since he knows his way around the grill, Brian led in the discussion about the food.  We talked about the wines that we (meaning the three of us) typically enjoy with beef, various forms of fish, including shell fish, and grilled vegetables.  You can click here to listen to the show.

If you only remember one thing from the conversation, that should be to drink what you like.  Yes, so many wine experts and aficionados suggest Cabernet Sauvignon with steak but if you like something else, drink it!  Wine is for pleasure.  You should enjoy what you drink.  Enjoy White Zinfandel with steak?  Have at it!  A lot of wine snobs will swear by certain pairings.  And yes, they have a reason that makes perfectly good sense.  The balance between fruit and acidity is a key factor the wine pairing process and of course, each wine has its own distinguishing characteristics that make it a likely palate pleaser with foods.  But your palate rules.  Do you!

Don't forget to join us for Downtown UNCORKED with Internationally Acclaimed Jeweler Jay Sharpe on July 15th.  The cost is $55 to include jewelry making materials, hands-on learning, wine, and light refreshments.  The class starts at 6:15 pm.  RSVP to or call 804-993-4130.  Class size is limited.

Check out Milo Case, our celebrity guest on Friday!  His show was hott!!!  Listen and purchase his music here.  

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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

I Would Have Learned Geography A Lot Sooner Had They Taught Us About Wine in High School

Let me say this first just to get it out of the way.  While attempting to learn about wine, it is a whole lot easier if you don't mind a lot of sampling.  Hopefully, no one needed to hear that and everyone reading this is already an avid fan of the vino.  But just in case I'm speaking to some book worms who just want to read all about it and never truly get to the best part of studying wine.  Of course, that would be the drinking part.

I've been asked a lot recently about the best books to get when trying to learn about wines or to get a certification that deems you an expert on some level.  This was something that I had to look up.  I hadn't realized that it had been about 9 years since I took my first Sommelier exam with The Court of Master Sommeliers.  My books were old, some tattered, and all had rings from the bottom of a red wine glass.  Don't judge me!  Let's just say that the books were definitely well used.  Initially, I thought that my books would have been outdated because so many things were changing in the wine industry.  The use of technology has definitely changed the wine making process.  But after flipping through the books, I was reminded that the wine still had the same bases...the grape and geography.  Geography plays a major role in the taste and quality of the grape.  Therefore, one key resource for any wine library is a wine atlas.  The one that I have is a pretty large coffee table book with maps in full color that show the key factors that manipulate the taste of the grapes.  Mountains, nearby rivers, and limestone are just a few of nature's "ingredients" that impacts the growth of a grape.  Once you know the geography of the region where the grape was grown, you can actually taste it in the wine.  I remember learning about limestone that was in the Loire Valley.  After that, I could always taste it in a Sancerre (some of my favorite Sauvignon Blancs).  Knowing geography made the blind tasting portion of the course just a little bit easier (still hard but at least made my guesses make sense).  I'm serious, had they paired wine with geography in high school, I would have aced it!  Only in Italy, I guess.

A second must- have book for your collection is The Wine Bible.  It is a classic resource that gives characteristics of varietal and shares information about what grapes are grown in specific growing regions.  Additionally, the book shares information about growing seasons, climates, geography, and identifies some of the top wine producers by region.  A final book that I would suggest as a staple when learning about wine is Kevin Zraly's Windows on the World:  Complete Wine Course.  It's a textbook that is for a person who wants more than to be the hit of his office party.  This book is for the person who is a little more serious about their wine game.

There are  so many books that you could get that will help you with your wine knowledge.  But all books need an accompaniment.  Experience is a good teacher.  Experience the lessons with wine.  A good bottle of wine can help you remember a lot of what you learn from the books.  Or make you forget.  I can't remember.

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Sunday, June 14, 2015

Mixing it Up with Wine: My Lemon Drop

I don't drink wine all of the time.  I love a good cocktail.  One of my absolute favorites is the Lemon Drop Martini.  Normally made with vodka, my favorite variation includes a bit of Limoncello. Recently, I've tried to create a spin on the lemon drop using wine.  My friend Mel and I (and a secret taster) went into the lab to see what we could come up with that would resemble the lemon drop martini.  Immediately, we knew that we wanted our base to be Pinot Grigio.  On hand, we had one from Italy.  Pinot Grigio's from Italy are my personal favorite because they taste "clean" and not overly done.  The fruit is subtle but bright with hints of citrus rind.  Perfect for the lemon drop, I thought.  To about 2 ounces of Pinot Grigio, we added a half lemon squeezed and an ounce of simple syrup.  Of course, we didn't neglect the sugar rim!  Refreshing!

The beauty of using wines to make cocktails for me is that if you drink 4 or 5 of them, it is equivalent to about 2 glasses of wine.  Wine cocktails are perfect conversation sippers and are often times less expensive than using liquors and spirits.  I won't lie to you and tell you that it is a perfect substitution but it is a very close "cousin" of the original.


2 oz Ilauri Pinot Grigio (Can be found at The Vine Wine Club)
1 Half Freshly Squeezed Lemon
1 oz Simple Syrup (or sweeten to your personal taste)

Shake over ice and pour in a sugar-rimmed martini glass.

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You Ready?  February 2016.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Make Good Use of Wine That's Not So Good

Have you ever opened a bottle of wine that you just didn't enjoy quite so much?  I am not talking about a bottle that was corked or bad for some other reason.  It was just one that wasn't pleasing to your palate.  I've had that experience more than a few times.  Even though I know pretty much what I am buying when I shop for wine, there are still many times that I pick up a new vintage that wasn't as good as the last or a grape varietal that I typically love from a winemaker with whom I am less than familiar.  It just doesn't taste like I expected it to taste.  It happens!  What do we do with the less than appealing wine?  

Waste Not!

I had a grandmother who made you clean your plate no matter what.  You didn't have to like what was on it. You just had to eat it.  And if you said that you didn't like, she gave you more!  I was smart and learned quickly to never say a word at her table.  Just eat those turnips, liver, or eggs that she had prepared and to keep my mouth shut.  Make no facial gestures, pretended that it tasted like chicken, and finish the meal.  So I have sorta taken that approach with wine.  Typically, I cook with leftover wine.  I add red wine to my tomato based pasta sauces or create pan sauces for my beef, pork, or lamb dishes.  With the whites, pan sauces for chicken or just add them as the liquid in the pan when I am sauteing.  Once I had a Chef do a demonstration in my wine shop.  He used a Pinot Grigio to make his Chicken Piccata.  You can Google and find many, many recipes with wine as an ingredient.  I saw a recipe using red wine to make a chocolate cake!  

When I did my search, I found a few things to be quite interesting.  Did you know that white wine can be used to eliminate a red wine stain?  Did you know that red wine could be used to clean produce (it removes bacteria)?  White wine mixed with baking soda removes grease stains?  Did you know that by dumping wine into the compost bin (red wine), it becomes a great fertilizer for your plants?  

As I finished a bottle of wine that I probably won't purchase again, I found it quite interesting to learn what I could have been doing with the wine had I not been so determined to finish it.  Not only is wine delicious but it is functional.  Can't do that with milk!

Monday, May 25, 2015

When Pairing Goes Wrong

I know!  It's been quite a while since I have blogged anything.  I have been quite busy with other aspects of the company.  Have I still been drinking wine?  Yes.  Have I still had thoughts to share?  Yes. But all of the IT folks that I know have warned against having liquids near the computer so the choice was wine glass or computer.

This weekend, I took myself on a dinner date.  I wanted three things:  a patio, sun, and seafood. I crave patio dining in the spring!  Clear skies and warm temps make me one happy girl.  I found what I wanted at Riptides.  Walking in, I read on the specials board that they had a swordfish topped with a Thai Sweet Chile Sauce.  It sounded delicious but before even being seated, I knew that I may have a conflict on my hands.  You see, I wanted to taste the season.  I wanted the brightness of the sky in my glass.  I wanted Sauvignon Blanc. What I love about the wine is the barely ripe grapefruit characteristic of those from New Zealand.  I ordered a glass...from New Zealand, and it was everything that I wanted.  It was chilled a little colder than a wine snob may recommend but just the way I desired on this warm evening.  As I waited for my dinner to arrive (I went with the special), I savored my liquid companion.  The crispness of the wine was a great backdrop to the hint of green tropical fruit on the nose and the bright citrus that pleased the palate.  I have to admit though that as I enjoyed the wine and the atmosphere, I was a little distracted by what I knew was going to be a bad relationship.  This Sauvignon Blanc was not going to be a good pairing with the sauce on my fish.  I was contemplating ordering a glass of iced tea to have with my meal.  Maybe I would finish the wine before the food came and then order something else, I thought.  But the pour was pretty generous, and, although the restaurant was busy, the food came fairly quickly.  I had to make a decision.  Order more wine with my meal or try to force this marriage of Sauvignon Blanc and Thai Sweet Chile.  Well I didn't force it or order something else from the cellar.  I did what all sensible wine drinkers would do.  I enjoyed my dinner and finished my wine when done.

I get asked a lot to pair wines with meals.  I do it when asked but I first try to find out what the person enjoys.  You should drink what you like and not worry about what foods it pairs with.  I am no expert.  I just have more practice than a lot of people.  Like you, I drink what I like most of the time despite what I am having to eat.  I just drink it before or after the meal. Oh, who am I kidding?  The wine just may be my meal.  So this is for you:  when wine pairing goes wrong, give the wine your undivided attention.  Make it the finale.

Featured Sauvignon Blanc:  Glazebook Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand.  I like to call it "Spring in a glass".  Bright citrus and barely ripe tropical fruit.  Visit our site at The Vine Wine Club and get a bottle today.

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Monday, January 26, 2015

The Reason Behind "The Exclusive Blacklist"

The Exclusive Blacklist is a first of its kind in Richmond, VA.  Hosted by The Vine Wine Club, the event features six African-American wineries and wine brands that have not quite enjoyed mainstream exposure in the area.  From each of the six wineries and brands represented, our guests will be able to taste 3 of their superior wines.  Heavy hors d’ oeuvres and live jazz will cap off a phenomenal experience.  The Exclusive Blacklist will be held on February 12, 2015 at Richmond’s picturesque Virginia War Memorial.  Tickets are $75.

Why The Exclusive Blacklist?

I’ve been to lots and lots of wine tastings and expos.  I’ve attended Virginia wine festivals, Italian Wine Festivals, Napa festivals, and many others.  After leaving those events, I sought out many of the brands that I had tasted and identified new favorites over the years.  So back in November, jazz great Marcus Johnson was a guest on my show “Off the Vine with Benita and Terricinia”.  During the show, he shared with us that he was in Minneapolis meeting with the corporate offices of a chain of well-known stores.  He was trying to get his wines on the shelves.  We continued the conversation to talk about the various obstacles to getting a brand on the shelf.  Money is the biggest barrier because advertising and marketing make it easier to get a store to carry the brand.  And with states having varying laws that regulate the sale of alcohol, it may be a challenging finding distribution in that particular state.  So this idea of an expo was born.  But we wanted this event to be celebratory.  We wanted to “toast” to the brands and shine a spotlight on phenomenal artisan wines, with a backdrop of great food, music, and fellowship.  The Exclusive Blacklist is a marketing event.  It is a wine tasting with an up close and personal meet and greet with some of the owners.  Marcus Johnson of Flo Brands and Gwen Hurt of Shoe Crazy Wines will be there to meet the guests and discuss their wines.  We will also introduce Felicia Cosby, an aspiring urban winery owner, who is already making wines that will sure to develop a cult following.

Other featured wines are Wisdom Oak of Charlottesville, VA, Mouton Noir of Oregon, and Seven Sisters from South Africa.

Our event sponsors are The Law Offices of Alex Taylor, Speak to Your Spirit, Boss-Chi Catering and Concessions, Inc., Dr. Charles Sutton, Moore’s Auto Body and Paint Shop, and Haywood’s Photos.

Our goal is to make this an annual event by introducing six new wineries each year.  The objective is to grow awareness organically by introducing the owners to the people who will support the brands.  The Exclusive Blacklist will be our signature event.

The Vine Wine Club

The Vine Wine Club is an online retail shop and club that cellars quality and limited produced wines from all over the world.  Our goal is to deliver the best pours to your door by purchasing, signing up for classes, and memorable educational and promotional events.  The membership is $40 per month which includes 2 bottles of wine, discounts on other events, and special member only offerings.  The Vine Wine Club hosts a weekly radio show that airs on Fridays at 3:00 on the May We Help You Radio Network.  Visit our site at or call 804-993-4130 for tickets and more information about upcoming events.

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