Friday, December 28, 2012

"Just bring a bottle of wine." Here is some solid party advice

“Just bring a bottle of wine.” How many times have you heard that request from a party host? Just in case you hear that during the party season – New Years, Bowl Games, Playoffs and the Big Party – The Super Bowl, here are a few suggestions on just what to bring, keeping three key factors in mind.

1. Budget – You will probably have to share whatever you bring with other guests, so you might as well be somewhat budget conscious. Plus, if the wine you bring is too good, the host will wisely stash it away and you will be forced to drink the “2 Buck Chuck” or whatever else was contributed by the other guests.

2. Common Decency – You have been invited to someone’s home. Bring a decent bottle of wine.

3. What about me? – Typically, in a classic “open house,” there are fifteen bottles of wine somewhere on a bar top or a kitchen counter. Most, you have not heard of. Some, probably spent a week in the trunk of a hot car. Others, wine you just do not want to drink. Bring a decent bottle and keep it close to you. At least you will have a wine to enjoy for most of the evening (until some other unworthy consumers discover your selection).

So – here are ten party wine suggestions, three from Bevmo, three from Total Wine and four from wines.com.

From Bevmo

Sonoma-Cutrer Chard Sonoma Coast '11 – About $21 – Reliable

Edna Valley Vineyard Pinot Noir '09 – About $17 – Good name, good finish

Murphy-Goode Cabernet '10 – Shockingly “goode” $13 Cabernet

From Total Wine

Coppola Diamond Claret – Solid Red for less than $12

Martin Ray Cabernet Sauvignon, 2009 – Under $20 – Fruit laden boldness

La Crema Chardonnay, 2010 – About $13 – Nice Value

From Wines.com – Just click on their banner on this page to order

King Estate Acrobat Pinot Noir 2010 - Delicious Oregon Pinot Noir for $13

Mer Soleil Silver Unoaked Chardonnay (Ceramic Bottle) 2011 – The bottle will get you noticed, so will the crispness of the wine – about $20

Delas St. Esprit Cotes-du-Rhone Rouge 2010 – Go French and you cannot go wrong with this Rhone red blend for just $12

Better yet, show up with one of the best red values on earth - Clos du Val Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 – This will impress your host for around $30. 2007 was off the charts good, but 09 will work nicely.

Suggestion: If you are attending a serve yourself open house, grab two huge glasses, open the Clos du Val yourself, and make sure that you and your partner, spouse, girlfriend or significant other get at least half the bottle. The rest will be gone too quickly.

One thing you will learn quickly in party season: The people who bring lousy wine to a party sure do know how to sniff out the good stuff when it is opened!

Happy Party Season!

By the way - you can enjoy the convenience of Keurig Brewed Single Cup Coffee in your Southern California office. Gourmet Coffee Service is the leader in Southern California office refreshment. www.gourmetcoffeeservice.com

800 834-0220 Because you deserve to be spoiled in the office!

Our facebook community is on FIRE! 325 fans and growing fast. Where are you folks coming from? I love it - Join us today - be a part of the winefoodjava.com facebook page. We will be offering some terrific deals in the coming weeks - so it pays to LIKE us.

You know I am an audible book freak. What a great way to occupy your mind while sitting in LA traffic or relaxing with a nice glass of wine in the backyard. Try it out – support our community by ordering directly from this page. YOU will be hooked on Audible books.

Just enjoyed more John Irving – The World According to Garp. What a pleasure and I sound so hip and knowledgeable at cocktail parties.

If you drive a lot, or if reading just wears you out, you have to try Audible. I am thoroughly addicted to the Audible downloads program. I’m personally cranking through a book each week. Sign up for Audible and enjoy a wonderful offer through the ad on this page. It will help keep this blog alive and kicking.

That’s it. Write to us at winefoodjava@gmail.com  or post your comments on your own.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

On the Golf Vino Tour and Selecting a Coffee Maker Gift

We are typically not huge fans of organized tours, but when a tour to wine country takes you to places that you simply would not see on your own, that changes everything.

The Golf Vino Tour offered that perfect combination of golf, wine tasting and gourmet dining. Our golf pro, Greg Anderson, who is also a sommolier, put this trip together using his many contacts in the wine industry and the Jackson Wine Family specifically.

In addition to the well known, highly retail oriented Kendall Jackson brand, the Jackson Wine Family owns about 40 other wineries, including Stonestreet and Cardinale, two stops that are not on every winery list.

Great Wine with a great lunch at 1500 feet
At Stonestreet, we enjoyed a gourmet lunch, perched around the rugged hillsides of the vineyard, 1500 feet above the Alexander Valley floor. It is the rugged terrain that gives so much character to the Stonestreet wines, confirmed by our lunchtime selections, the Bear Point Cabernet and the Broken Road Chardonnay.

Our visit to Cardinale Winery was a relaxing and luxurious treat.  Some on Napa Valley's finest Cabs are made by Cardinale Winemaker Chris Carpenter, who sources from some of the best vineyards in the area. Chris created a 100 point 2006 Cab, which we had the pleasure of tasting. While it was quite impressive, many of us enjoyed the 2007 even more.

100 Point Wines Can Make You Smile
Just to give you a few ideas for your future visits, here is the trip itinerary and some additional notes.

Sunday

Check in at 4:00 PM - Accommodations and Dinner - The Vintners Inn - Nice, intimate property owned by Ferrari-Carano.

6:00 PM - Dinner at the wonderful John Ash Restaurant at The Vintners Inn. 

Monday

Crossing the marsh
8:40 AM First Tee Time - Bodega Harbour Golf Links.   On the 16th hole at Bodega, you tee off over a protected wetland marsh (180 to 220 yard carry required). After you hit, you put your clubs on a roller cart and cross the marsh on a wooden bridge to play the second shot of the par 4. On 17, you hit over the marsh again to a par 3 and walk across to ultimately be reunited with your golf cart on the other side, just in time to play the very challenging 18th hole.

2:00 PM Tour and Tasting - Hartford Family Winery. 

6:00 PM Winemakers Dinner - Mayacama Golf Club - joined by Rick Tigner, President of Kendall-Jackson Winery. Rick also acted on a very popular Undercover Boss episode.

Undercover Boss Tigner with Golf Pro Greg Anderson
Mayacama is the Country Club for powerhouses in the area wine industry. My favorite aspects of the visit - the underground wine cave for the members, a mighty nice place for wine lockers and the incredible private dinner party (Rick Tigner brought the wine!)

Tuesday

9:30 AM Tour and Visit to Skylane Cellars, a wine processing, storage, bottling, and distribution company that is second to none! Chuck Shea, Vice-President of Production for Kendall-Jackson Winery was our host and delivered on his promise to provide barrel tasting at various times of fermentation. Interesting, but not very tasty until it is ready to drink.

11:00 AM Tour, Tasting and Lunch up on the Mountain - Stonestreet Winery Tour in Alexander Valley. Unforgettable luncheon and tasting elevated some 1,500 feet above the Alexander Valley floor. Enjoyed lunch in a million year old volcano surrounded by some of the best vineyards in the world.

2:30 PM Tour and Tasting - Cardinale Winery - Home of the 100 Pointer.

4:00 PM Tour, Tasting and Dinner -- Freemark Abbey Winery - A great tour and tasting followed by a BBQ dinner inside one of the oldest wineries in Napa. What a great way to end the day.

Wednesday

8:40 AM First Time - Golf or Spa - Played the Silverado Resort North Course recently purchased and redesigned by long time Napa resident Johnny Miller

Inside the Miner Wine Cave
2:00 PM Tour and Tasting in Wine Cave - Miner Winery, Oakville, CA - Tasted the many varietals of Miner Winery while relaxing in a historic wine cave. Brought home a remarkable wine - Miner's luxury Red Blend - Oracle.

"Drink your scotch, eat your wine." That was a tip from the folks at Freemark Abbey Winery, which boasts a collection of many spectacular older wines. More and more, I agree. Wine tasting is best enjoyed and appreciated with food, as the flavors of both are enhanced by the marriage.

So you want to put a coffee maker under your Christmas tree for someone special?  Here is my advice (I am in the coffee business). 

Keurig on the left, Bunn on the right (my kitchen)
Single Cup: Get the Keurig. The variety is excellent. The convenience is unmatchable. Not very eco-friendly, but that is generally the case with single cup coffee. Keurig even has Starbucks K Cups. Pricing on K Cups should drop in 2013 as patents are expiring and competition will emerge among K Cup makers.

Drip Brewer:  Get the Bunn-O-Matic. This brewer is a classic that makes a perfect pot of coffee in about three minutes. It is better because it has its own reservoir of hot water ready to go, so unlike the "pump style brewers," the water temperature is correct from the first drop and that will improve extraction and flavor. When you pour cold water into the brewer to make a pot, it actually displaces the stored, already heated water supply to make a fast, perfect pot. Use 2oz of quality coffee.

By the way - you can enjoy the convenience of Keurig Brewed Single Cup Coffee in your Southern California office. Gourmet Coffee Service is the leader in Southern California office refreshment. www.gourmetcoffeeservice.com

800 834-0220 Because you deserve to be spoiled in the office!


Our facebook community is on FIRE! 300 fans and growing fast. Where are you folks coming from? I love it - Join us today - be a part of the winefoodjava.com facebook page. We will be offering some terrific deals in the coming weeks - so it pays to LIKE us.


You know I am an audible book freak. I continue to challenge myself with the classics, although reading Crime and Punishment is about as much fun as getting a root canal. Tough going, but still a great way to occupy your mind while sitting in LA traffic or relaxing with a nice glass of wine in the backyard.

Now, I am back to audio books for the sake of pure enjoyment!  Just finished Consent to Kill by Vince Flynn. That was awesome, but only if you like Black Ops, CIA thrillers. Good stuff!

If you drive a lot, or if reading just wears you out, you have to try Audible. I am thoroughly addicted to the Audible downloads program. I’m personally cranking through a book each week. Sign up for Audible and enjoy a wonderful offer through the ad on this page. It will help keep this blog alive and kicking.

I know, blogs are supposed to be quick - mine are more like a "feature story." Hope you enjoy our Adventures in California Living.