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Archive for July, 2012

Upcoming California Wine Events

July 24th, 2012 No comments

Good morning, wine lovers! At Vintage Cellars, we know you love wine, and we’re pretty sure you love California, too (we sure do!). There are dozens of fantastic wine events in California–in fact, you could probably go to a different California wine event every day for the rest of the summer if you really wanted to. Unfortunately, if you’re anything like us, you simply don’t have the time for a wine event per day. But we’re here to help. Here’s a list of some upcoming California wine events you might want to visit.

  1. Magic & Wine: Really! On August 5 in Malibu, you can hit a wine tasting followed by a David Minkin magic performance. This unusual wine event only has a few tickets left, but other dates are available.
  2. Make a Wish: Drink wine for a good cause. On August 12 in Ventura, you can taste from a list of 100+ wines and bid in a silent auction, all to benefit the Make A Wish foundation.
  3. Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival: From August 9-12, the LA Food & Wine festival will be dishing out fabulous food and wonderful wines. Wolfgang Puck is already sold out, but there’s lots of other options available including Asian themed and caviar events. Check out the lineup–this is about 15 wine events in one!
  4. San Diego Wine Classic: Right here in San Diego, this one’s a bit further off but that just gives you time to plan! November 14-18 in San Diego, it’s billed as being the largest Southern California wine event. There’s a detailed calendar on the website, and it looks like there’s something for everyone.
  5. Cabernet: If you’re into Cabernets, this one might be for you. It’s a pre-release tasting of two 96 point Cabs: the 2009 Robert Craig Mt. Veeder and Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignons. August 29 in Carlsbad.
  6. 5 Course Dinner Tasting: Also on the 29th, Groth Vineyards is having a 5 course dinner and wine tasting in the Normal Heights area of San Diego. Also heavy on Cabernets!
  7. Foxen Winemaker Dinner: August 12 in San Diego, Wine Vault & Bistro is hosting a tasting dinner. The food and wine menu are both available and it sounds like a truly delicious evening.

If you’re looking for a great wine event in southern California, these are all great picks. There’s also an extensive calendar of SoCal wine events (as well as other regions) at this website.

Have you been to a recent wine event in California, or know of a San Diego event we missed that’s a must-drink? Tell us about it in the comments!

Dare to Drink Wine by Yourself?

July 17th, 2012 No comments
Enjoying wine alone lets you give it your full attention.

Image from Wine Online Club: wineonlineclub.com

Although there’s a stigma surrounding drinking by yourself, sometimes it can’t be helped!  What if circumstances make it so that you must dine alone?  What if your dinner companions call last-minute, sending regrets, after you’re already seated at your restaurant of choice?  Dining and drinking alone does not have to be a sad affair.  In fact, there are benefits.  You can devote your full attention to your great glass of wine, and since most restaurants now offer “wine by the glass” (as well as half bottles), with the right questions you can turn your no-show meal into a fun “wine tasting for one!”  Here’s how…

Ask for samples.  If you’re going to order a glass of wine, ask your waiter for a few samples of the wines you’re interested in.  In most cases, the response will be positive, and you’ll be able to sample some of the wines you’re considering (at no extra charge!)

Ask about “additional” wines not found on the “by-the-glass” menu.  Quite often, especially as the night progresses, there’s an open bottle of something good sitting in the kitchen.  Why?  Perhaps a decent bottle of wine was opened, but then sent back by another patron?  Perhaps someone ordered just a half bottle of wine, earlier, the other half just sitting around?  You’ll often be allowed to purchase such leftover (and usually more expensive) wine by the glass if you ask!

Order a couple full bottles and share them with other patrons!  You’ll make some happy friends very quickly, and they’ll often offer to return the favor come dessert time!  (Here we come, dessert wines!)

There’s nothing to be ashamed about enjoying wine alone.  And in a restaurant setting, you’re hardly alone; you’re surrounded by the restaurant’s wait staff and other guests!  If you must drink wine alone, relish the moment!  Try for a mini-tasting, ask about “special” wines, or share a bottle.  Some restaurants with walk-in wine rooms, similar to the Vintage Series Wine Room 2600, will even allow single diners to take a peek inside.  It never hurts to ask, and you might spot something really good!  Cheers!

So, You’re at a Benefit Dinner… and the Wine is Terrible!

July 10th, 2012 No comments
What to do if the free wine is terrible

Image from Service Culture International: www.choosingservice.com

Perhaps you’re at a dinner to benefit a worthy cause, but the wine served with your prepared-in-bulk meal is mediocre at best, or in the worst situation downright undrinkable: what do you do?  Is there a graceful way to handle the situation?  If wine is being served with your meal, chances are you’re not out at the Eagle’s hall for a spaghetti supper benefit.  Therefore, if your benefit is in an established restaurant, you’re in luck!  Restaurants have wine lists, and that’s exactly what you need to ask to see.  Ask your server for the wine list, pay an additional sum separately for a bottle of something good, and share it with the rest of your table.  (They’ll thank you for it, and you’ll make some new friends on the spot!) If the restaurant has a walk-in wine room like the Vintage Series Wine Room 1300, perhaps it’s possible for you to take a peak inside?  It never hurts to ask.  Cheers to finding good wine!

Make Your Own Sangria

July 3rd, 2012 No comments

While wine purists may roll their eyes at this post, making Sangria has become a popular topic.  Taken for what it is, basically a mixture of wine and fruit, Sangria is often a summertime “gateway beverage” that leads non-wine drinkers to eventually explore the richly-rewarding world of wine.  (Some folks say wine coolers act in a similar way.)  While Sangria tends to be very fruity and sweet, the good news is that you can control its sweetness if you make it yourself.  What is more, Sangria pairs well with just about every kind of BBQ sauce, especially sauces rich with honey flavor.  This means it’ll be enjoyed at almost any cookout.  And, of course, it’s a great addition to Caribbean meals.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Pitchers of Sangria (image from Wikipedia)

  • 1 bottle of red wine (Rioja is used most often)
  • 1 cup peach-flavored rum
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 lime
  • 1 orange
  • 1 apple (cut into chunks)
  • 2 cups club soda
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 6 strawberries, halved
  • 3 tablespoons of sugar (or more)

Pour the wine into a big pitcher.  Cut the lemon, lime, and orange into wedges.  Squeeze the juice out of each wedge into the pitcher, then throw in these “squeezed” wedges.  Pour in your rum, then your lemon juice and orange juice.  Stir in 3 tablespoons of sugar.   Chill!  When ready to serve, add apples, strawberries, club soda, and ice (if desired.)

If your BBQ sauce is too acidic, or if your Sangria needs to be sweeter to combat other big dinner dishes, simply add more sugar as needed.  You can even experiment by altering the other ingredients.  Have fun!  Give this recipe a whirl on one of this year’s final summer days.