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.  

Like us on Facebook at The Vine Wine Club
Follow us on Twitter @thevinewineclub

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.

Follow us on Twitter @thevinewineclub
Like us on Facebook  The Vine Wine Club
Visit Our Website Here!

Email us at

Ask me about it!

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.

Follow us on Twitter @thevinewineclub
"Like" us on Facebook at The Vine Wine Club

Visit us at home...The Vine Wine Club...and let us send wine to yours!

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!