California Pinot and Oregon Pinot Differences

Oregon Pinot has been getting recognition globally as a major player in the Pinot Noir world, but what’s the difference between California Pinot and Oregon Pinot? After all, California is one of the most recognized areas in the world for wine in general and Pinot Noir is produced in a much higher quantity in California than Oregon.

I’m originally from the Willamette Valley in Oregon and I now live in San Francisco and enjoy in the wine regions all over the area from Napa, the Russian River Valley in Sonoma, Carmel, Monterey, Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara… The list goes on. I realistically have had more California Pinot than Oregon Pinot, but every time I go home to Oregon to visit family, I always pick up a couple bottles of the local Pinot Noir. Why do I drink more California Pinot? Well, simply because I’m a wine club member to some great local wineries to Northern California and the Central Coast and I do feel I get a better bang for my buck generally over the Oregon Pinot.

Now, what’s really different in the two regions when it comes to Pinot Noir? First, I would have to say the Climate. The regions in Oregon get a full four seasons and California tends to have more sporadic weather patterns; Generally, California has two seasoCalifornia Pinot Noirns, Spring and Fall. There’s really no legitimate Winter and Northern California doesn’t get a Summer per-say, but 5-7 months of Springtime. The Willamette Valley in Oregon tends to rain a lot for 8-9 months of the year and it only dips below freezing a few times a year. The mild nature of the weather in the Willamette Valley causes the grapes to be more delicate in structure and in-turn, the Pinots actually have a lighter body in the bottle. Oregon Pinots tend to carry that earthiness, typical to the culture and what you would expect from an Oregonian.

Both the Central Coast and Sonoma do bring a cooler climate compared to a lot of California, which brings a great environment for growing Pinot Noir. Even though some California Pinots may be thin in body, generally speaking, California Pinots overall are deeper in body and color than their Northern Sate’s friend. Oregon Pinots will usually bring out more crisp red fruits like currents, raspberries and cranberries and California Pinots will bring out deeper red and darker fruits like plums, blackberrries and cherries. Of course, this is a generalization and every wine has it’s own characteristics, and Oregon is known after all for its blackberries, so it’s not uncommon to find other richer notes, but even then, they will come off more subtle than a California Pinot generally.

Because of the lower tannin to other wine varietals, Pinot Noir generally carries the characteristics of its environment more than most. The lower tannin also makes it more palatable for the newbie wine drinker. My recommendation is that if you’re budget conscience and drink wine and Pinot regularly, you’ll get more for your money with a California Pinot Noir. If you’re new to wine drinking, I actually recommend starting out with a couple Oregon Pinot Noirs as they will be more friendly and lighter in body. It will also be easier to pair an Oregon Pinot with foods than a California Pinot as the complexities are more vibrant in the Cali ones (generally of course).

If you truly want to get an Oregon Pinot experience with pairing wines with food, make sure to try it with an Oregonzola cheese or an aged Tillamook cheddar. For a California Pinot pairing, try it with some tart blueberries, a berry filled Mission Pie or a Humphry Slocombe Tahitian Vanilla scoop with a berry compote on top. Yum!

So, what’s better? You decide! Both California Pinot Noir and Oregon Pinot Noir should be celebrated for their unique differences.

 

Halloween Candy and Wine Pairing

So, the crazy of Halloween is over and now you’re left with candy from the kiddies or from the leftover big bucket from handing candy out. Or, you’re just a candy enthusiast and you want to know how to pair it properly. Either way, this guide will help you with Halloween Candy Wine Pairing options.

Snickers and Pinot Noir

The saltiness in the nuts will bring out a Pinot’s rich flavors and the caramel and milk chocolate will soften any tannic bites.

KitKat and Champagne / Bubbles

The crunchy and crisp cookie will add a nice texture and the bubbles will carry along the soft chocolate and wafer tastes through the journey of all your taste buds.

Heath and Late Harvest or Ice Wine

The divine toffy crunch and crumble with the subtle chocolate notes really exemplifies and tames the sweetness of an Ice Wine or a Late harvest dessert wine. I recommend a Vidal or a Cab Franc Ice Wine from Ontario for this Halloween candy wine pairing.

Hershey’s Kisses or Hershey’s Milk Chocolate + Zinfandel

Milk chocolate with that bite of sweet really meshes well withy the robust bold notes of a Zinfandel.

Butterfinger and Chardonnay

A great buttery Chardonnay will really be amplified by the buttery and milk chocolate of a butterfinger. I mean’s the butter is in the name after all1

Twix and Rich Reds

The chocolate and caramel crunch of a Twix bar will pair nicely with a rich, complex red. A big bold Cab with fruit forward notes is highly recommended.

SourPatch and Riesling

The fruity flavors and high acidity in a Riesling, paired with the tart and citrus flavors really work well together.

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups or Reese’s Pieces & Merlot

Forget the PBJ with jam and bread and instead pair a sweet peanut butter treat with a Merlot with a heavy berry finish. An adult PBJ for this Halloween candy wine pairing.

If you’re looking for a Thanksgiving Winetail or a Cocktail with wine, check out this posting.

Halloween Candy Wine Pairing

Wine Condoms to Save Your Unfinished Wine

wine condomsIf you’re looking for a gag-gift that can actually be put to a practical use, Wine Condoms may just do the trick for you. Great for any bachelorette party for a wine drinker or for a Christmas Gift under $15. You can find more info on the wine condoms website here.

So, what’s the deal with these little wine savers? Well, it’s pretty self-explanatory. They come wrapped the same as a traditional condom and are made of rubber and unroll the same way. Please don’t make me whip out a banana for demonstration. Just go back to your sex-ed days. I think you got this one. 😉

The condoms are fitted to the size of a standard wine bottle neck and it’s a much cheaper solution than many other unfinished wine savers. Exclusively sold on Amazon, a box of 6 will run you $13.97 (from the time of this article posting). Each wine condom can be used 1-2 times as well. That’s potentially around fifty cents per wine save, which is pretty cost-effective when you think about saving a bottle of wine, expensive or not. wine condoms

Another tip to save a bottle of wine: Put it in your fridge! Even if it’s red. Just take it out of the fridge 30 minutes before drinking to get it to the right temperature. I won’t drink a wine corked on my counter after day two, but I’ve gone back to wine up to a week later in the fridge without losing quality in taste. I wonder how long I can get with a wine condom and my little fridge trick?

Whether you’re looking for a stocking stuffer, a cute gift for your wine drinking friend, a little gift for yourself, or a fun bachelorette party gift that’s semi-risque but not too naughty, Wine Condoms may be just the right fit… hehe… Just remember to “Drink Responsibly.”

Boxed Wine: Can It Be Good and What’s the Best?

Boxed wineBoxed wine has a reputation for sure, and it’s not necessarily a good one. Just as PBR made its way in recent years from being a beer for the economical older gents to the Hipster beer of choice, boxed wine is becoming trendy. Being the semi-wine-snob that I am, I just had to explore this trend.

First, let’s explore the benefits. There’s no need for a corkscrew (but I can get that with a screw-top wine bottle). It’s also more discrete if it’s shaped like many coconut water boxes. If it’s truly cardboard without the foil lining, it should be easier to recycle as glass is actually a harsher and a more energy costing recycle process in comparison to cardboard. Boxed wine is actually said to last longer in the fridge if it has a spout as oxygen is harder to penitrate the box/bag inside. The last obvious benefit is that it will never get corked.

Now, if I’m going to outline the benefits, I must also point out the not-so-great stuff. Taste? Well, that’s yet to be discovered. Perception? Mind over matter is an actual aspect to consider. I mean, I do drink out of a high-end wine glass because it just makes my wine taste better and feel like I’m drinking a nicer wine. So, it appears that reputation is the biggest obstacle to overcome for boxed wine.

Franzia, the most popular wine in the world definitely has brand recognition, even if just in passing when shopping at Target. Thrillist has a fully extensive review for you to review all of the Franzia wines.

The Huffington Post also has an article on the 8 Best Wines Not in a Bottle. I haven’t had any yet. My Boxed wine tasting to come in another article!

Lastly, I really found this Video Review on Boxed Wine from Sommelier Patrick Cappiello very helpful.

Even though boxed wine doesn’t have the best reputation, there’s a reason why Franzia is the most popular wine, so maybe they’re onto something. Or, perhaps at least someone has mastered the economics of a boxed wine with the experience of a nice bottle of wine. I’ll update this article with a link to my reviews of some when I can manage to get past my notions and decide to “give it a swirl.”

Thanksgiving Winetail – Cranberry & Apple Sangria

Thanksgiving Winetail Thanksgiving Cocktail with WineLooking for a Thanksgiving cocktail with wine, or a Thanksgiving winetail? An Apple Cranberry Sangria may be just the way to go.

Just mix the following ingredients in a large pitcher and let it sit in the fridge for 3-4 hours, or overnight if possible….

Recipe:

  • 1 bottle red wine
  • ¾ c. unfiltered apple cider
  • ¾ c. cranberry juice
  • ¾ c. brandy
  • ¼ c. simple syrup
  • 1 red apple
  • 1 green apple
  • ½ c. fresh cranberries

For a lower sugar option, you could do a ½ cup of apple cider, ½ cup cranberry juice, and a few tbsp of simple syrup and then mix with sparkling water in your glass right before serving.

Cocktail Recipe and Photo credits go to LemonTreeWelling where I originally found this Thanksgiving Winetail (Thanksgiving Cocktail with wine) recipe.

If you’re looking for wines to use in the Sangria recipe, visit tasting rooms in Carmel for a full-bodied wine. Ask your Sommelier or the person pouring the wine for guidance and they will be happy to assist.

Spiegelau Hybrid Champagne Flute for Ice Wine Too!

Since I live in San Francisco and any real estate costs a lot, my cupboard space is valuable and the Spiegelau Hybrid Champagne Flute and its multiple uses comes in handy. Spiegelau is a brand under the Riedel wine glass brand. I bought mine on Amazon for 2 for $25, but I see now that I was lucky as they typically run a lot higher. I would have paid double for these knowing what I know now. My wine glass budget does cap at $30 a glass though since I have a clumsy boyfriend at home.

Spiegelau Hybrid Champagne FluteSo, why do I love the Spiegelau Hybrid Champagne Flute so much? Well, for a few reasons. The first being that I absolutely love bubbles, sparkling wine and champagne. I have around 4-5 wine club memberships at any given time and I always have at least one sparkling wine membership. It was first with Chandon until I realized I was buying their wines much cheaper at Bevmo and Safeway in San Francisco than I was getting as a wine club member (strange). It’s now Riverbench, which is a Santa Barbara treat!

The other main reason I love the Spiegelau Hybrid Champagne Flute is because I’m a huge Ice Wine fan from my time living in Ontario, Canada. For the record, you can dislike sweet wines and still love Ice Wine. It’s an exception to the rule and Ontario Ice Wine is by far the best Ice Wine in the world. More specifically, Inniskillin Ice Wine is. Their Sparking Vidal and Cab Franc Ice Wines are to die for! Jackson-Triggs is the best bang for your buck, but Trius and Peller Estates are also must try Ice Wines. Inniskillin and Jackson-Triggs are both owned by Robert Mondovi.

Anyway, to get to my point, Iniskillin as their own custom made ice wine glasses that are produced by Riedel and I’ve had a side-by-side comparison tasting at the winery to compare a regular champagne flute next to one of their Riedel glasses, and the tasting in the Riedel was the best by far. The shape of their custom made Riedel is a very similar shape to the Spiegelau Hybrid Champagne Flute or the Vinum Extreme Champagne Glass. because I drink champagne and sparkling wine much more than Ice Wine, I find the Spiegelau Hybrid Champagne Flute to be a much better investment for the different wine drinking occasions as they work for both.

Vinturi Wine Aerator at Costco for $14.99 in San Francisco

Vinturi Wine AeratorJust want to spread the word that the Vinturi Wine Aerator is at Costco for $14.99 in the San Francisco area. I’ve been using the Vinturi Wine Aerator for about 6 years myself, but my parents have been using it for probably 10 years or more. It’s a standard, must-have wine accessory for any wine drinker and it generally runs between $30-$60 and I’ve actually never seen it drop below $25 (although I don’t monitor by any means). This version of the Vinturi is being sold on the Vinturi.com website for $29.99 plus shipping.

At $14.99, I actually bought four! One to replace my oldie since we do throw it in the dishwasher (probably against the manual) but it was looking pretty ragged. The other three are for gifts. If you’re a friend and reading this, pretend you didn’t see the article and act surprised. 😉

One thing to note: I looked for it on Costco.com and it wasn’t there. I’m guessing this means it’s not at all Costco locations nationwide, but it may be a regional treat. I do know that Google Express in San Francisco will let you add it to your cart, but you will still need to be a Costco member and if you’re not a Google Express member, you will have to pay a $5 delivery fee. Worth not going to Costco if you’re going to spend at least $30 in my opinion.

If you’re hoping to aerate a bottle of wine quickly, here’s a tip using the Vinturi Wine Aerator. If you have a wine decanter, use both the Vinturi and the decanter and allow the wine to run along the sides of the decanter while it’s pouring inside the decanter. Also, I like to take the top off of the Vinturi and rest it along the rim of the decanter to prevent any fruit flies from getting to my wine before me.

 

Big Sur Food and Wine Festival to Support Soberanes Fire Relief Fund

The wildfires in California during the massive drought have devastated some of the region’s wineries and vineyards, but this year The Big Sur Food and Wine Festival will be supporting the Soberanes Fire Relief Fund and the Big Sur Fire Brigade along with other local programs including Big Sur Schools, the Big Sur Health Center and the Henry Miller Memorial Library.

big-sur-food-and-wine-festivalThe Festival almost had to be canceled three different times and many businesses had to evacuate during the wildfires, causing revenue to be lost. The Big Sur Food and Wine Event will help bring back some lost revenues to the companies that suffered. Festival organizers saw firsthand the impact of the Soberanes Fire.

The “Magical Mystery Tour” event kicks off the festival with hiking, a garden party and a mobile feast where ticket holders hop on a bus and sip champagne on the way to a private property along the Big Sur coast. On location, they’ll enjoy an intimate feast of food and wine.

Friday’s events will showcase wines that are maybe lesser known for this California region including wine varietals like chenin blanc, Grüner Veltliner, Trousseau and many more. Friday also has a “Hiking with Stemware” picnic along the Big Sur’s mountains, a “Pinot Walkabout” offering bites alongside wine tastings from 20 different wineries while strolling the property’s gardens as well as a “Wine and Swine” event.

Saturday will include a “Walkabout Marketplace” artisanal market in the Loma Vista Gardens next to the Big Sur Bakery. There will also be a “Sommelier Dinner” Saturday evening where local Big Sur restaurants host catered dinners. Deetjen’s showcases a five-course dinner with wine pairings and wine tastings from Napa’s Mi Sueño Winery. The Big Sur Bakery will host Frank Ostini from the Buellton’s Hitching Post II for a unique a la carte menu to pair with selections from the Hitching Post’s famous wine list.

If you love wine and want to support the wineries that we love in California, this is the event to support. Some events are sold out, but there’s still time to support the Big Sur Food and Wine Festival. After all, this drought can be devastating and we wouldn’t want to lose one of the wonders of California. Charity aside, it’ll just be a dang good time!

For more info on this story, visit the Mercury News Article here and for event info visit here.

“The One” Wine Glass is My Favorite Wine Glass Under $20

If you’re a wine drinker and you love the feel, the weight and the experience of drinking wine out of a good wine glass, The One wine glass is the best value crystal wine glass on the market. I’ve been a Riedel wine glass user for about 6 years (since I’ve been adult enough to have some expendable money and decided it was a worthy investment) and by all means, I love a good Riedel glass. When I first made the jump from the Ikea $1 wine glasses, Riedel was my first choice. the brand recognition is there and it’s the easiest jump to make for anyone wanting to make the wine glass plunge.

The One Wine GlassThroughout the years and with many visits to wine tasting rooms, wine bars and booshy San Francisco restaurants, I’ve been exploring what glasses are used the most and what I like. I always peek to see what that faint etched logo or brand name is on the base of the wineglass. Common brands are usually Riedel, Schott Zwiesel and Stolzle.

One day while wine tasting in and around the Santa Barabara wine region, my boyfriend and I stopped at the Presqu’ile wine tasting room and vineyard. It was a highly recommended winery by my Mom (a fellow wine enthusiast) and my boyfriend’s sister who’s a well respected Sommelier. Not only were the wines out of this world, but they presented them in these delightfully beautiful, light-weight wine glasses. When I looked at the etching, I saw they were called “The One” wineglasses. I asked the woman pouring our wine about the glasses and if they were crystal. She checked and said they were. I just had to have these glasses, so I asked if I could purchase them at the winery. They charged us two for $30 (if I remember correctly – been a while).

To express how much I love The One wine glass, I will have perfectly clean Riedel glasses in my cabinet at home and I will wash out last night’s The One wine glass before even thinking about reaching for the Riedel. My boyfriend (who’s much less particular than I am) always grabs The One glass too. There’s something magical about the weight, the feel, the amount of the opening, the perfect amount of bulge along the sides and the little dip down in the bottom of the glass. If feels great in my hand and the wine always seem automatic and easy to swirl in my hands. the glass is also a little smaller than the Riedel competitor, but it still gives you enough heft to feel like you’re drinking red wine in a grand glass.

When a glass broke, I made sure we replaced it. Through Amazon Prime, we ordered replacements and actually tried the red and white combo box this time. I’ve been drinking my white wines in The One glass that was apparently for Red Wines. I thought the concept of The One glass was to only have one type of glass for all wines, but I recently learned that they have one glass for all red wines and one glass for all white wines. I still seem to gravitate towards the red wine glass for all my white wines and roses. I recommend just getting the red wine glass for all wines. Two for $30 with Amazon prime free shipping. How do you beat that?

If you’re looking for a great wine glass that won’t break the bank, but will impress guests and just make you feel like every glass of wine at home is special, The One wine glass is the best I’ve seen. This is coming from someone who has traveled to 40+ countries and who has lived in California, Washington, Oregon and Ontario, Canada with a Mother that lives near The Finger Lakes wineries in New York. I’ve tasted wine all over the world (France, Italy, Spain, Croatia, Germany) and I take weekend wine trips from San Francisco to Napa, Sonoma, Carmel, Monterey, Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara etc. as well as an annual Ice Wine tasting trip to Niagara on the Lake, Ontario, Canada… In short, I’ve seen a lot of wine glasses and I just adore The One wine glass. Best bang for your buck!

Wine Tasting Rooms in Carmel Have Increased From One to Nearly Twenty Over the Last Five Years

It’s hard to believe, but the wine tasting rooms in Carmel have been growing at an extremely fast rate. In 2011, I visited Carmel By the Sea with my Boyfriend. We were living in Seattle at the time and getting ready to move to Toronto. My Boyfriend’s sister was getting married in Monterey, so it was a really great opportunity to explore the region. Considering that I now blog about the region, needless to say, I fell in love.

Five years and three cities later, I now live in San Francisco and partake in the wonderful wineries of the region including Napa and Sonoma. After living in San Francisco for a couple years and attending many wine events including the major bi-annual SF Vintners Market that takes place at The Metreon, I’ve learned that there are many other wine regions to explore around Northern California and the California Central Coast.

Not yet knowing of the changes to Carmel By the Sea, I decided to make the one hour trek down south from San Francisco to revisit this charming little art town for a romantic weekend with my Boyfriend that once took me there 5 years earlier. To my surprise, the weekend turned into a wine tasting weekend. Being within a 5 minute walk to our hotel room, we were able to jump from wine tasting rooms in Carmel. We enjoyed the tastings from Galante, Silvestri and Dawn’s Dream. With nearly 20 tasting rooms and wine bars pouring local vintages, we already know that we will have to return with more intentions on wine tasting.

Due to the pleasant Pinot Noirs of Dawn’s Dream and the robust reds from Silvestri, we actually became wine club members at both of those wineries. If you love California Red Wines but you don’t like the inflated prices that Napa Valley brings with their Cakebread, Duckhorn or Opus One wines, you really must try the wine tasting rooms in Carmel By the Sea. No need to rent a limo to manoeuvre from tasting room to tasting room and there are plenty of hotel and lodging options in downtown Carmel By the Sea.

If you’re concerned that you may be sacrificing scenery by not wine tasting in the valley between rolling hills, rest assured that the “By the Sea” part of the name in Carmel By the Sea will live up to the expectations. There are also fine dining and casual dining options as well, so there’s no reason to now give it a whirl!