Wine is a funny thing. The drinking of wine, the culture of wine, the idiosyncrasies and etiquette of wine drinking can be daunting. The sheer number of wines to choose nowadays is overwhelming! Today however, It doesn’t have to be, especially when serving a crowd.
Last May, Bodega Ruca Malen launched Aimé Ruca Malen, its first Lifestyle Wine Collection. Their inspiration was “to offer wines that bring real enjoyment, wines that are made to be savored and shared in the Argentine way.” Excellent!
So in walks an easy-going, sweet white wine called Aimé, made exclusively from the grape Muscat of Alexandria--which some believe to be one of the oldest genetically unmodified vines still in existence. The grapes are delicious on their own or made into the Aimé - crisp and sweet, perfect with salty cheeses, salad, or, for #NationalSangriaDay, the ultimate crowd-pleaser: Sangria.
When it comes to making drinks for a crowd, I’m quite pragmatic. That being said, I get a quirky little kick out of concocting some cool flavours. I opened the fridge, peered inside, and out comes the makings of a fabulous drink. Here’s what I used:
Aimé Ruca Malen Moscato
Basil simple syrup
Fresh, semi-frozen, pineapple slices
Neutral spirit / pepper-infused spirit
Squeezes of fresh orange
Puree the pineapple with basil sprigs, adding some spirit to loosen if too frozen. Pour into large pitcher. Add Aimé to the blender and swirl to capture all the flecks of brilliant green basil, then add to the pitcher. Add enough basil simple syrup to your liking. Pour into a glass, add a few squeezes of fresh orange, then top with sliced orange, apple, pineapple and basil. Add a pinch of flake salt for a little savoury twist, then it's welcome to #NationalSangriaDay!
I”m not a big fan of adding extra sugar to sangria or any cocktails for that matter, so the Aimé Ruca Malen 100% Moscato, delicious on its own, is delicately sweet and a touch herbal, giving the right amount of sugar to balance added ingredients.
Saturday, November 18 at 1 PM - 3 PM
Drinking the Garden!
So I'm teaching a class at New Earth Farm - Mocktails and Dessert! (yes, we'll discuss how to turn "mocktail" into "cocktail" at home.) We'll munch on cookies and mocktails from ingredients you can purchase right at the Farm! There will be recipes, knives, herbs, blindfolds - all sorts of tactile stuff! Come on out Saturday 18 November 1-3pm - get a head start on your holiday plans!
And if you haven't checked out their new Market - now is the perfect time! Support your local farm!
Please go directly to the New Earth Farm website to purchase tickets.
Many moons ago when I was regularly tasting with wine reps, I mentioned to one of them that I was looking for “scary good juice.” When I sat down to taste, he had already placed about a dozen Greek wines before me, (thank you George!) none of which I could easily pronounce. I slid my glass closer…
Afterward, I got to thinking about fear. Not the pseudo-scary horror film kind, mind you, but that simple fear of not knowing what’s in a bottle, how to pronounce said contents and exactly what to expect. We make important decisions on a daily basis, but many folks are apprehensive regarding what they don’t know, especially when it comes to not identifying liquids. Wine should never be scary! Perhaps the take-away is the mere fact that there is a commonality inherent in the unknown: people. Behind that cool bottle of unpronounceable juice are interesting folks making wine they love to drink themselves and for others to enjoy as well.
What else I find incredibly cool regarding Greek wine is the indigenous varieties. There are more than 300 native varieties grown on varying types of some of the rockiest soils on earth, but what these vines produce is nothing short of liquid magic.
At the time, I contacted Markus Stolz, one of the most influential wine journalists today regarding the Greek wine industry. I think the biggest obstacle for exploring the odyssey that is Greek wine is pronunciation. I asked Markus for some tips and he was kind enough to provide a video of grape pronunciation with his kids—brilliant!
This past February I attended the USBevX Conference in Washington D.C. and I had the distinct pleasure of receiving a Facebook PM from none other than Cathy Huyghe. Cathy and I have been nurturing an online friendship for several years now so when one is invited out for dinner and drinks, you say yes.
But then Cathy created a distinct wrinkle for me: we would be joined by Steve Raye, Bevology President and CEO and Dr. Damien Wilson, Chair of Wine Business Education / SSU. I must admit I almost bowed out only because I was nervous about with whom I'd be dining - these folks are like wine industry royalty! But then the practical gal in me kicked in and said "fuck it, you gotta eat." Needless to say I had a blast and sipped on some tasty Greek wine while we dined at José Andrés new D.C. digs Zaytinya. (Big thank you to Crystal Schaad for coming along!)
Break out of the familiar and explore the unpronounceable, the provocative, and some of the most palate-friendly wines on the market today, no matter from what part of the world. And be sure to share those wines with dinner mates and friends - you'll be glad you did.
Artist Lori Anne Boocks has some seriously stunning artwork going on! This piece is entitled Heroes and Hubris. It’s all about stories – keeping them and telling them, much like the stories behind the wines we drink.
If you look closely you’ll notice all sorts of words within the art. Lori describes it this way: “…I use the words, rehash and rework them and strip them down to the bone, then build the sentences up again, layers upon layers representing the feeling of a story I know.”
Heroes and Hubris completely captures the feelings I have toward skiing and the colors remind me of snow and ice but of warmth as well, perhaps the knowledge that a roaring fire awaits. And I can certainly imagine myself saying all sorts of things as I helplessly careen down the bunny slope, disco sticks flying! So you’ll find me at the bar, Après Ski style.
I was lucky enough to be introduced to a little white wine grape called Jacquere - which produces an incredibly juicy and thirst-quenching white wine from the Apremont in the Savoie region of the French Alps where skiing and Après Ski is an art form! It defines what Après Ski is all about.
Regardless of what or where we’re drinking, surrounding those bottles is a culture full of friends and a love of our boundless nature. Cheers!
I’m a stickler for words. In fact, I love seeing words so much that I can fondly recall diagramming sentences back in middle school. While my classmates were groaning under the weight of words upon pencil-drawn lines, I reveled in the breathtaking formality of it all!
Perhaps that’s why I don’t write as much as I should--I get so caught up in the semantics, that actually formulating cohesive sentences that could possibly resemble good writing, frightens me!
A chance reservation at the award-winning Woodinville, Washington restaurant The Herbfarm made me realize that words, coupled with food and wine can be quite magical. The written descriptions of each course were, to me, profound. And of course the eating of each was that and more.
After that, wine came easy to me as easy as the title pastry chef I earned years before. But passionate about it? Oddly enough, the further I dove into the food and wine world, the further I veered from those interesting little words. I missed them. I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was off, despite my love of wine.
My very first recollection of the word passion was associated with the suffering of Christ because that’s what I was taught in Catholic school. To me it meant that you give of yourself - body and soul.
Today I write and produce an online beverage educational program called #winestudio. It began as an idea to showcase and share beautiful wines and flourished into a social media educational community for participants, and grassroots marketing for guests; and it’s actually pretty cool. On any particular Tuesday evening, we could be discussing a wine region that has yet to be truly discovered or perhaps a particular cider that someone happened to mention to me years ago. The written content is endless!
When asked to write this article, I first thought “cool!” but then I asked myself if I really believed in the whole passion thing. I reminded myself that I established a program that hadn’t been done before and although I love the program for myself, it’s not actually designed for me but for my participants and guests.
It feels like it all has come round robin: an odd little passion for words brought me to the world of wine and now here I am again.
I suppose it is true that you never really forget your first crush.
Tina Morey CS
This title has been referenced throughout the ages, perhaps beginning in biblical times all the way to now. In fact it’s used often in modern media, from music videos to documentaries and even block-buster movies. So what is it about this four-letter phrase that has so many using it?
Aesthetically speaking, it rolls off the tongue beautifully not to mention possessing a sense of awe and a deft amount of portent. I’d love to tell you that there is power in that little phrase and with it a brand New Year-- remembrance, reflection and expectation.
I began thinking of my early days in the wine business. Way back when, when I was wine buyer for a restaurant and retail shop in San Diego, a gentleman walked in unannounced and wanted to taste me on some of his wines. I’m fairly certain I bought just about a pallet from him and although I worried the entire time, that was one of the best wine purchases I made.
George Tita is principal of Tanaro River Imports, specializing in northern Italian and French wines. He also moonlights as Associate Professor in the Department of Criminology, Law and Society at the University of California – Irvine. Yeah, he’s that cool.
From the Tanaro River Imports site, [all of the wines] “Represent a new wave of young vintners that have adopted methods that are as old as the land that they farm. These exclusive wine makers approach their craft with tremendous passion for the tradition of their forefathers. They are setting the standard for today’s wines of the Alsace, Piemonte and Umbrian areas. Though it is tempting to call them the “young Turks”, such a term connotes an air of modernity that contradicts the traditionalist approach to wine making that each embodies.”
I hadn’t worked with George in years so when he popped into my wine world again it all just seemed right. His wineries embody the traditions of their forefathers while maneuvering in the modern world.
So maybe it really is about a certain sense of power and how we each of us move about our lives. Perchance we’ll taste a little bit of that power within George’s wines.
Art credit: Janine Donston - water abstract - haunting and powerful in its simplicity.
Who would have guessed #winestudio would still be in operation three years after its inception. It’s a wonder for sure...
The premise was simple: to get incredibly cool bottles in front of local folks who wouldn’t necessarily have the opportunity to taste. Of course these bottles had to be purchased to do so and it was worth every penny!
Almost a year in however, a strange thing happened - sample bottles were offered to promote wineries. Word spread and colleagues from all over the country wanted in on some of the coolest wines in the market.
Samples were shipped to a dedicated small, but growing community.
Then something extraordinary happened: PR companies reached out because they thought the #winestudio program would benefit their clients.
The programs were fantastic--our guests enthusiastic!
Sometimes, however, it’s liberating to choose other subjects - creating programs that could be considered a little more cutting edge, even controversial.
#winestudio has evolved into a win-win for all involved: participants, wineries, regional organizations, PR firms--everyone contributes so that the program remains more of an online classroom setting rather than just a chat.
2017 will bring ever more learning experiences, camaraderie and value. As such, it was time to introduce bottle allocations. For an overall value of over 2K SRP worth of wine and access to some super cool winemakers, (as well as other perks,) each participant agrees to contribute to the program by way of a yearly token amount, registering only once--easy peasy.
I’m thrilled to say our top spots were taken within just a couple days! What’s left is our monthly registration which will be announced with each new program when bottles are available.
The #winestudio community has always been about sharing valuable information in a way that can help ourselves and others in the wine and beverage community. The best is yet to come!
So thank you and Happy Holidays to all #winestudio supporters!
I feel it's incredibly important to give back to all of our creatives who have given their time, products and energy to making #winestudio what it is. Below are just a few of our past guests who have generously offered deep holiday discounts to #winestudio. More to come!
when prompted, type in code #winestudio (unless otherwise noted below.)
Craig Camp of Troon Vineyard has offered free shipping! (this is huge, especially for us on the opposite coast!)
Suzi Perez of Vinmaps has offered 20% off her entire site! (take advantage of this!!!)
Yannick Rousseau of Y. Rousseau has offered 15% off all wines! (his Colombard is on my radar for sure as well as a few bottles of the Tannat Rosé!)
Cindy Cosco of Passaggio Wines has offered free shipping on three bottles or more! Time to stock up!
Super excited that Larry Schaffer of Tercero Wines has offered 15% off his gorgeous Rhône offerings!
Jonathan Zeiger of Wines of Marche has offered 20% off sitewide! His white wine, Pecorino was a huge hit on #winestudio back in August!
Lori Hoyt Budd of Dracaena Wines who is a regular participant on #winestudio has offered 15% off their coveted Cabernet Franc! Use code winestudio
Zelda Sydney, who has illustrated many a #winestudio tasting, owns The Illustrated Wine, where she designs the coolest illustrations. Check out her wine coloring book - perfect gift!
I'm offering my popular tool roll, sommkit as well for the holidays! It's a super sleek piece that can be used anywhere. Send me a message if interested.