Wednesday, October 27, 2010

2nd Annual Wine and Gourmet Food Experience at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley

Friday, October 29, 2010, 6:00pm – 9:30pm

$79.95 per person (tax & Gratuity Included, 21 and Over only)
Back by popular demand! This year’s event features wines from the Ventura County Wine Trail!

Enjoy an incredible evening of food and wine pairing, featuring 14 selected wines, an incredible small plate dinner menu, fine chocolate tasting, and award winning artisan cheeses. Meet the wine makers, and chocolate experts, and dance to live music under the wings of Air Force One! Step out onto our outdoor terrace lounge and enjoy the cool fall breezes of the Conejo Valley. Don’t forget to tour all of the exciting exhibits the Ronald Reagan Library has to offer including the Air Force One, the White House in Miniature, and our exciting Born to be Wild celebrity and vintage motorcycle exhibit. In addition to all of the evening’s exciting events each guest will receive a commemorative wine glass to take home!

Our chefs have been working for months designing an extensive small plate dinner menu to pair with tastings from the featured wineries. Menu items will include shrimp, crab, lamb, lobster, gourmet sausage, duck, local fruits and vegetables, and exquisite and more!

Bring your family, friends, or employees for a truly memorable and enjoyable evening! Do not miss this elegant evening and the Ventura County Food Event of the Year. This all-inclusive offer is only $79.95 per person (includes tax and gratuity, 21 and over).

Reservations are required and seating is limited.

To make reservations, CLICK HERE. For more information, please call 805-577-4057.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Vegas Weekend

The wife and I spent this past weekend in Las Vegas, enjoying the fine dining and entertainment of the city. One of the highlights was a dinner we had at our hotel, the Bellagio. 

We ate at Circo, and had Master Sommelier Darius Allen at our table, it was my wife's first experience having a Master Sommelier do our wine service. Darius was wonderful and he made the evening very enjoyable. 

The food, a Tuscan upscale inspired by Egidiana Maccioni, was excellant as well.

The wine we had with our meal was a Grgrich Hills, 2005, Cabernet Sauvignon.



Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Starbucks Wine? Here it comes!

A very different kind of Starbucks is on tap. It will serve regional wine and beer. It offers an expansive plate of locally made cheeses — served on china. The barista bar is rebuilt to seat customers up close to the coffee.



Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sideways goes vertical in sequel!

Sideways author Rex Pickett has written a sequel to Sideways, that takes place 7 years later. You can read about it in this article in Wine Enthusiast!



Thursday, October 7, 2010

Who is the wine expert in your home?

Women wine drinkers now the majority

I was surprised to read that 53 percent of wine drinkers in the United States are women, according to the Wine Market Council. And last year, women matched men as "core drinkers," those who drink wine at least once a week.

That trend may accelerate if women heed the results of a recent survey of 20,000 women over 13 years by Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital. The poll showed that women who regularly drink a moderate amount of alcohol, particularly red wine, are less likely to have long-term weight gain than non-drinkers.

Nevertheless, when a man and a woman sit down to dinner in a restaurant, it's usually the guy who grabs or is handed the wine list and chooses the bottle.

"In our more upscale dining restaurants, eight times out of ten, it is the gentlemen at the table still making the decisions," said Virginia Philip, sommelier at the Breakers hotel in Palm Beach, Fla.

Philip, 42, is one of only 13 women certified as a Master Sommelier out of 130 worldwide. She oversees a cellar of 28,000 bottles and 1,600 selections at the resort's L'Escalier fine dining room and eight other restaurants, with prices ranging from $35 to $15,000.

Once, men were always automatically handed the wine list everywhere, she said.
The assumption that women tend to order a "nice dry chardonnay" by the glass has changed, in winter they tend to go for red and in warm months for whites.

My experience when teaching wine appreciation classes, 80% of the attendees were women.

Who is the wine “expert” in your family?



Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Good article in LA Times

The LA Times just did an article on the affects of having such a late harvest this year.,0,6612298.story

Sunday, October 3, 2010

My Top Wine Movies

During my recent trip up to Napa, I thought about the movies Bottle Shock and Sideways and what affect those movies had on those wine regions. I also got to thinking about what are some of my favorite movies that have wine in them. I looked for movies where wine plays a significant role, the filmmakers get the wine parts right, and the movie is a pleasure to watch. These are in no apparent order.

“A Good Year” (2006)
Directed by Ridley Scott, this movie tests whether Russell Crowe can balance machismo with winemaking. Max Skinner (Crowe) is a carnivorous Wall Street lion. He returns to French wine country after the death of Uncle Harry (Albert Finney) and is tamed by the romantic routines of the vineyard–not to mention the alluring ways of Fanny Chenal (played by Marion Cotillard)–to discover his new/old self. Beautifully filmed and acted.

“Bottle Shock” (2009)
Alan Rickman plays Steven Spurrier, a London wineseller, in Bottle Shock who decides to pit American wines against their French forebears. In 1976, Steven Spurrier, comes to the Napa Valley to take the best he can find to Paris for a blind taste test against French wine. He meets Jim Barrett, whose Chateau Montelena is mortgaged to the hilt as Jim perfects his chardonnay. There's strain in Jim's relations with his hippie son Bo and his foreman Gustavo, a Mexican farmworker's son secretly making his own wine. Plus, there's Sam, a UC Davis graduate student and free spirit, mutually attracted to both Gustavo and Bo. As Spurrier organizes the "Judgment of Paris," Jim doesn't want to participate while Bo knows it's their only chance. Barrett's chardonnay has buttery notes and a Smithsonian finish. Not very accurate in it’s telling of the story, but a good movie to watch with a bottle of Chardonnay and popcorn.

"French Kiss" (1995)
Directed by Lawrence Kasdan. Meg Ryan, Kevin Kline, Timothy Hutton.
Kline won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in "A Fish Called Wanda," but he's even better in this romantic comedy as the prodigal son of a French family of vineyard owners. Not only does he hit all the right romantic and comedic notes; to this American, he's astonishingly convincing as a Frenchman, right down to the Gallic gestures of disinterest and disdain.

There may not be a better, more poetic description of the concept of terroir than the following exchange between Ryan and Kline.
Ryan: "A bold wine with a hint of sophistication and lacking in pretension. (Pause.) Actually I was just talking about myself.
Kline: "You are not wrong. Wine is like people. The wine takes all the influences in life all around it, it absorbs them and it gets its personality."

"The Muppet Movie" (1979)
Directed by James Frawley.
Steve Martin's hilarious cameo as a haughty waiter/sommelier puts this kids' film on the list. Out to dinner with Miss Piggy, Kermit the Frog orders a bottle of bubbly, which turns out to be sparkling Muscatel from Idaho that Martin "uncorks" with a beer opener. Kermit is about to sip some when Miss Piggy reminds him that the expert is supposed to taste it first. Martin takes a sip, spits it out in a rush, grimaces, then composes his face into a smarmy smile and says, "An excellent choice."

See it with your kids; you can advise them that in the right company, on a warm night on a terrace with a nice piece of pork, even Vin de Idaho can be special.

"Sideways" (2004)
Directed by Alexander Payne. Paul Giamatti, Thomas Haden Church, Virginia Madsen.
The character of Jack (Church), is a washed-up actor with an unquenchable libido, and his arrogant oenophile buddy, Miles (Giamatti) explains the elusive appeal of Pinot Noir.
Maya (Madsen), Miles' love interest, shows us why stuffy snobs like Miles don't really get it; that wine is meant to be shared with friends. And Stephanie (Sandra Oh), Jack's fling, shows us that you don't need to be wealthy to have a few good bottles lying around. She also shows us that it's not a good idea to lie to a lover.

By the way, thanks a lot, Miles, for superheating the market for Pinot Noir. At least good Merlots are more available than ever. This is called the "Sideways effect" in the wine industry; the fact that there is such a term two years after the film's release shows how important this movie is.

"Silence of the Lambs" (1991)
Directed by Jonathan Demme. Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Scott Glenn.
There's no actual wine in this movie, so if there's a ringer on the list, this is it. But this film is responsible for the most famous wine and food pairing in the history of cinema.
In one of the most famous roles of his great career, Hopkins plays the brilliant psychiatrist, serial killer and cannibal Dr. Hannibal Lecter.

What everyone remembers about Lecter. Trying to scare FBI trainee Foster, Hopkins says: "A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti."  Frankly if you ask me, the proper paring with liver is a hearty Merlot. J

"Mondovino" (2004)
This plodding, anti-American wine documentary excited French audiences and angered some interview subjects who felt misled. If you're not a total wine geek, it's long and boring and the photography will make you sick with its handheld cameras.

"Star Trek: Nemesis" (2002)
Capt. Picard toasts a departed friend with his family's Chateau Picard wine in the last voyage for the Next Generation crew. And we learn Romulan ale gives even Klingons a hangover.

Okay your turn…. What are your favorite wine movies?