Friday, December 19, 2014

Holiday Gift Guide 2014 and 2015

About the time I started middle school, my parents decided to stop exchanging gifts on Christmas. Yep, no Christmas gifts kiddies. The rational for this, as it was explained to us, was that the Three winesmen Wines Kings in the Bible visited the baby Jesus on the 6th of January and gave him gifts. This is known as the day of Epiphany and "Three Kings Day."

So, growing up we exchanged gifts not on December 25th, but 12 days later on the 6th of January. We were not a particularly religious family, but this aspect of the Bible was observed at our home. Yes, with grumbling. Grandmother though, she always gave us gifts on Christmas!

Sharing this story with you is about letting you know that it's okay if you don't give me a Christmas gift this year. You can always give me a gift on January 6th. That's a joke.

I started this list a month ago. And I'm late posting it. That's what I'm sharing today. Keep in mind you can give the gift of wine or wine related accessories any time you want. The following gift suggestions would be wonderful to receive on Christmas, for Epiphany, on a Birthday, or just because someone knows how wonderful you are.

*Note: When you gift on Epiphany, you get to take advantage of all those after Christmas sales as stores try to liquidate inventory.

May your end of year celebrations be festive and full of joy. And wine, good wine, great wine, wine with bubbles and friends. Be safe out there.



Gift Guide 2014 and 2015

1. Wine

Wine makes a wonderful gift and is always my first impulse. I cannot tell you which wine to give as a gift. You know the gift receiver best. You have to find out what kind of wine they appreciate. If you don't know, then give them a wine you appreciate and help them drink it!

Browse this blog for ideas and also visit my Top 10 Under $20 page.

2. Books

This year I've enjoyed several wine and wine themed books. I still read paper books and I also read e-books. If the gift receiver is lacking room for a physical book, then gift them a gift card so they can buy e-books. If they don't have an e-reader, they can easily and for free, download an e-reader program for their cell phone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer. Or buy them a Kindle. Problem solved.

Books about Wine

  • Walla Walla, Washington
    Anyone who has visited Walla Walla or is contemplating a visit to Walla Walla wine country needs to read "Wines of Walla Walla Valley: A Deep-Rooted History (American Palate) " by Katie McIntyre Walker, 2014. This book is available in paperback or Kindle format.

    Katie grew up in Walla Walla, and is one of the original Washington Wine Bloggers. She chronicles the history of Walla Walla, the establishment of the town and its growth, from frontier days to the modern heady days of wine. Learn about Walla Walla's historical and modern French influence and the people, especially the people, who have brought the community to where it is today. There are special qualities to the Walla Walla AVA. Katie has shown how much she cares for Walla Walla and the people who live and work there today. A good read. Strongly Recommended.

  • Washington Wine
    This book sits next to my bed. If you know little about Washington wine, "Washington Wines and Wineries: The Essential Guide" by Paul Gregutt, 2011, 2nd edition, is a must read. Available in paperback, hardcover and Kindle.

    This book is by the well known wine expert Paul Gregutt. It is an essential guide to Washington State vineyards, regions and wineries. With over 700 wineries in Washington, this guide is sure to be a hit with your wine friends. It is the best book I know of for getting a grasp on what Washington winemakers are doing. You will also get a feel for Paul's wine palate. Recommended.
  • California Wine
    An extremely engaging book. This is a must read book, "The New California Wine: A Guide to the Producers and Wines Behind a Revolution in Taste" by John Bonne, 2014. Available in hardcover and Kindle.

    I was impressed by the writing style of the author. He opened my eyes and redefined for me what California wine is and is becoming. This book will make you want to visit California wine country. Well done. Strongly Recommended.

  • Oregon Wine - Fiction
    I love a good murder mystery. At home we watch a lot of BBC mysteries. It was my great pleasure to read a couple of books by Portland native, Judy Nedry. My personal sentiment is that they could be adapted for TV or Netflix. Hint, hint.

    "An Unholy Alliance: Emma Golden Mysteries Book 1" by Judy Nedry, 2009. The story takes place in the Willamette Valley, the heart of Oregon wine country. Yes, there's a murder and the protagonist Emma Golden is determined to find out who did it. If she can stay alive. A fun romp through wine country, anyone who has visited this part of Oregon will recognize many of the settings and some of the names. Available in hardcover, paperback and Kindle. Recommended.

    "The Difficult Sister: Emma Golden Mysteries Book 2" by Judy Nedry, 2013. I did not find a link to this book. My copy is in paperback. Contact your local book seller for availability. You'll want this book after reading the first one.

Rex Pickettt.
  • Rex Pickett Books
    After engaging with the author of Sideways, Vertical and Sideways 3 Chile on our #Winemuse podcast, I had to mention his books. Last month he released his newest book of the Sideways trilogy, "Sideways 3 Chile " by Rex Picket, 2014. Available in Kindle Edition only. And a man of his word. Listen to the author here while you shop.

    I have not read book 3 as of this post. Downloading it today.

  • Boo Walker Books
    I've read two of Boo Walkers books in Kindle format. "Lowcountry Punch" and "Turn or Burn". Boo works for Hedges Family Estate on Red Mountain. I've casually met him a couple of times at the winery. He's originally from Charleston, SC and that's the setting for the first book. The second book I read starts at Red Mountain then travels to Seattle. These are gritty books about tough men who also have an appreciation for Washington wine. They are fun, quick reads. I could tell just from these two books how Mr. Walker is developing his writing style. The second book, "Turn or Burn" was a lot more graphic and intense. Recommended.

  • The Tipsy Sensei & Other Stories
    For anyone who loves short stories about food and drink, this is the Kindle e-book for you. "The Tipsy Sensei & Others " by Richard Aufrey, 2013. Thoroughly enjoyed his story telling. I've met Richard a couple of times and participated on one of his #winechat twitter Sake tastings. He goes deep. Strongly Recommended.

3. Stemware

As I've advised others for many years, the shape of the wine glass matters to the appreciation and enjoyment of wine. Wine glasses make wonderful gifts for new and experienced wine drinkers. An especially delicate subject, I've broken a couple of my Riedel glasses at home and need to replace them. The wine glass does matter. Last year, I proved to myself how critical is the wine glass, "The Importance of Shape to Wine Appreciation" and strongly encourage you to do the same.

Wine Glasses

  • Pinot Noir
    Ah, I've had some remarkable Pinot Noir wine tastings this year. Truly special wines. Pinot Noir can be a remarkable wine, deserving of contemplation. Pinot Noir, especially Pinot Noir, deserves the finest stemware you can find. At home I use a Riedel XL Pinot Noir glass. This glass has a large bulb, perfect for swirling and releasing Pinot Noir aromas and flavors, it then tapers to focus those aromas and flavors, with a lip that gracefully curves outward. I swear I have felt the aromas of the wine pour out of this glass. I'm not trying to be a wine snob. This glass works. Strongly Recommended.

  • Red Wine
    I believe everyone needs an every day, go to, red wine glass. It should be balanced and not feel like it is about to tip over. It should be light and somewhat delicate. It requires a bulb for swirling and a tapered body to the lip. Which is why I use the Riedel Overture Red Wine glass. For me it works and is not horribly expensive to replace when broken. I've broken two of these this year! They lasted five years and provided a huge amount of satisfaction and wine enjoyment. Strongly Recommended.

  • White Wine
    Honestly, I can't find the white wine glass I use. I received it as a sample and love it. But no one is selling it. It's called a "Chardonnay Swirl" and works well for me. Hunting around, I found something similar with good reviews. It's the Stolzle Revolution Classic White Wine glass. A set of 6 at a good price. And they look sharp too. If you drink white wine I'd give these a swirl. Or just drink your white wine out of your Red Wine Glass! I won't tell.

 4. Stocking Stuffers

One of the cool things I like about wine are all the wine related accessories.

  • Corkscrew
    My wine blogger friends, like me, love pulling corks from the bottle. Seriously. There's a deep pleasure going through the ritual of opening a bottle of wine with a trusty, quality corkscrew. And they make for a good stocking stuffer. Also referred to as a waiters key, you'll want to select my favorite double-hinged corkscrew. They are inexpensive and make the process of pulling a cork out of the bottle a non-issue. A gift that will be used many times. Strongly Recommended.

  • Aerator
    I have a couple of different wine aerators I use at home. They assist in opening up the flavors of a wine, especially big reds. When I am short on time and want to show off a favorite red wine, I use my wine aerator. I've found that the Vinturi Wine Aerator does a very good job at aerating wine. Sized proper for a stocking stuffer. Recommended.

  • Infrared Thermometer
    Temperature, the proper temperature, is important to the appreciation of wine. Often, white wines are served too cold and red wines poured too hot. When I review wine at home I careful to pour at proper temperatures. And never, never pour sparkling wine must be cold. I have my eyes on a no-contact Infrared Thermometer. It's a point and shoot device which gives you the accurate temperature of the surface of where you point. I have no actual experience with this device, but want one.

Well that's my contribution for Christmas and Epiphany gift ideas. When in doubt, gift a bottle of wine. I'm going to quote myself from December 2010.

"Let's not forget, one of the best wine gifts is a gift of wine, one you personally enjoy. My first impulse is to gift someone a bottle of wine for their birthday, anniversary or house warming...If you have time to browse this site, then you should be able to find something you or your friends will enjoy."

Good luck, Merry Christmas, Seasons Greetings and most of all Cheers!

Thank You and Happy 8th Anniversary

This time of year gets away from me. Whoosh, like the horse I was riding the summer I spent working with my grandfather when I was 16 years old. One moment all was fine, then I was struggling to stay saddled while the horse tried to scrape me off with tree branches!

I'm hanging on. And enjoying the thrill of the ride as I do. Cheers!

8th Anniversary + Milestones

Last week marked the 8th anniversary of this blog - 12 December 2006 was my first post. Admittedly, I've been most serious about this blog since summer 2010 after attending the Walla Walla, Washington Wine Bloggers Conference. Thank you Zephyr Adventures. I needed that infusion.

I'm gradually improving my photography efforts. A better camera, a fetish for lenses and slowly adding more lighting equipment. And trying to take more time for image composition. My photography friends remain an inspiration. Thank you all.

The last couple of years, infused by wine blogging friends, industry connections, weekly twitter tastings and podcast shows, my palate has been stretched, my tasting vocabulary challenged and a world of wine expanded. It's about more than just Washington wine. Washington wine remains my touchstone, the place where I live, my inspiration. But there is a world of wine out there.


Social Media has been very, very good to me.

There is no way I could remain engaged with social media and wine without the help of some friends. My friend Tina Morey at Protocol Wine Studio has expanded my wine experiences this year. Together, using #WineStudio we've visited wines of the Hudson Valley, Virginia hard cider, Wines of Italy, and many other wine regions. Thank you Tina.

My wine blogger friend Frank Morgan of Drink What You Like, is the Virginia Wine Blogger. He is the host of Virginia Wine Chat, #VAwineChat where the conversation and wine are all about Virginia. I've had some enlightening Virginia wine experiences this year. More soon on the blog. Thank you Frank.

One of the first twitter tastings I became involved with was #winechat a weekly Wednesday night session about wine. This year I've enjoyed even more #winechat twitter conversations. Tina Morey began the year hosting, and handed over hosting responsibilities to Christina Portz of Just The Bottle. Wow. Just wow. Thank you.

Somehow, three months ago I stumbled into a wine and food pairing group of bloggers. They use the hashtag #winePW for their conversations about food and wine. Love this group. They are passionate, focused and engaged. And I have many new recipes and wine pairing ideas to try at home. I think we're just getting started at making this group sing. Thank you.

Focusing on Washington wine, Sean Sullivan of Washington Wine Report, hosts a monthly Virtual Wine Tasting on twitter. He selects a bottle of Washington wine each month to taste and tweet about. I've been enjoying these @wawinereport twitter tastings for about 3 years. It's a fun way to make friends, compare palates and learn about wonderful Washington wines. Thank you Sean.

Podcast Show

This year I've been co-hosting a monthly wine related podcast on Minstrel and Muse Audio Art Magazine. We have loosely titled our conversations about wine, "#WineMuse Podcasts." I've become the wine "expert" on the podcast, which has forced me to learn even more about the world of wine. What a blast!

Host Linda Reznicek is teaching me by example how to interview. We've spoken with many winemakers from Washington, Oregon, California, New York, Chile, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Germany, Austria and New Zealand. We even had an amazing conversation with author Rex Pickett, of the book and movie Sideways. I have great expectations for 2015. Check out our podcasts and winemaker conversations when you have time. Thank you Linda.

A huge thank you to Wine Sellers, Ltd. for sponsoring many of our #WineMuse podcast shows this year. They supplied us with quality wines from around the world to share with listeners. We kept the retail price below $20 for each show and Wine Sellers, Ltd. did an amazing job of delivering truly excellent wines. They are importers and distributors. Check with them for availability. Thank you!

Quality is Strong

You may have noticed that I don't write negative wine reviews. I mean seriously, who has the time and inclination? There is so much wonderful wine out there, that is what I want to share with readers and listeners. Quality of wine is strong around the world. I've learned that much.

Prosser, Washington Wine Country Tour.

I am sitting on several posts, partially due to time constraints, and also, I want the words to be correct. Some wine related experiences are too big and deserve thought, consideration and introspection. You are on my mind and will be shared.

This holiday month is a crazy time of obligations and celebrations. Still, I hope to get to some of those sitting posts and share them before this year is ended. Where is my holiday wine gifting guide? Oops.

Sleep has been rough this month. I've been wide awake in the early hours. Spending those hours reading and not writing has not helped. If I can get more words and photos posted over the next week, perhaps I can sleep an entire night without waking. When I can't sleep I should write.

Columbia Crest Head Winemaker, Juan Muñoz-Oca.

Thank you to all of the amazing growers, winemakers and wineries for making your lifetime commitment and passion the making of wine. I will try to impart to my readers some of  your passion. For me, it is no longer enough to enjoy a wonderful bottle of wine. I must know the winemaker and what drives them. My deepest thanks for your openness and the sharing of your passion.

Plus a sincere thank you to my fellow wine bloggers. Our community is scattered around the globe, but we all have in common a deep appreciation for wine. I enjoy your humor, camaraderie, and honesty. Your friendships are deeply appreciated. Let's get together soon for a glass of wine.


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Wine of the Week Columbia Crest 2013 Reserve Sauvignon Blanc Horse Heaven Hills


I could not resist posting today about this wonderful wine.

This month I have several forthcoming posts about wine and wine related products. While I am working on a post about Columbia Crest Reserve wines and uber talented Columbia Crest Head Winemaker, Juan Muñoz-Oca, I could not resist first sharing my enthusiasm for this wine.

Did you know that Columbia Crest has a Reserve line of ultra-premium Washington wine?

Sourced from premier vineyard sites and meticulously hand-crafted in their Petit Chai, a "winery-within-a-winery" Columbia Crest Reserve wines represent the height of winemaking skill by Columbia Crest Head Winemaker, Juan Muñoz-Oca. These are special limited production wines.

Hand of the Head Winemaker and his Reserve Sauvignon Blanc.

Regular readers should know that I am a big fan of Sauvignon Blanc. My participation these last three months with #WinePW a twitter group of mostly food bloggers, has brought a greater focus to my wine and food pairing planning. When I was contemplating opening this special bottle of Columbia Crest Sauvignon Blanc, I spent some time contemplating what food to pair it with. Yes, this post is about the wine, but it is also about how more enjoyable a wine can be with a proper pairing.

Tasting Notes Columbia Crest 2013 Reserve Sauvignon Blanc

Color: Pale gold.
Nose: Toasty with ripe mango, passion fruit, mineral quality.
Palate: Tropical, zippy, grapefruit, passion fruit.
Wine expanded after 45 minutes. Honey suckle breeze, serious flavors, solid, dry, citrus with salinity, almost grassy with essence of mandarin on the savory finish. Focused and balanced. Killer finish. Hawaii was on my mind. Wonderful.

Thoughts: Loved this wine. And it was a fantastic pairing with King Crab Salad. I had two leftover King crab legs, so I decided to make a simple salad/appetizer. This turned out to be a wonderful match. The flavors of the crab salad complimented and enhanced the flavors of the wine. Very pleased with both. Strongly Recommended.

King Crab Salad.

King Crab Salad Recipe:
I decided to class up the presentation by serving this salad in martini glasses.

1. For the dressing I used lime juice, salt and black pepper.
2. Stirred dressing until the salt dissolved.
3. Added olive oil to the dressing and stirred.
4. Added shredded crab meat to the dressing.
5. Added sliced celery to dressed crab and stirred.
6. Layered mixed greens in martini glass first.
7. Added sliced avocado on top of mixed greens.
8. Added the dressed crab meat on top of avocado.
9. Topped with fried wonton.

This wine and crab salad were made for each other. Enjoy.


Blend: 100% Sauvignon Blanc
Closure: Natural Cork
ABV: 13%
Production 75 cases
SRP: $24
Purchase direct from the winery

Visit the Columbia Crest Winery
Hwy 221,
Columbia Crest Dr.
Paterson, WA 99345
Telephone (509) 875-4227
Open Daily 10:00am - 4:30pm

Columbia Crest Winery, Paterson, Washington.

If you are ever passing through the Tri-Cities where I live, the Columbia Crest winery is about a 40 minute side trip from Richland. They have a very nice facility and an impressive tasting usually available. My last visit was in October during harvest. Lovely time.

Well, we should have a new #winemuse podcast show uploaded this month - look for it. A bunch of wine related posts almost ready to go as well. Thank you for the new twitter follows and positive feedback. It has been a true pleasure and privilege to share so many wonderful wines this year.


Friday, December 12, 2014

#WinePW 7 Butterflied Spicy Prawns and Treveri Sparkling WinePairing @TreveriCellars


#WinePW Wine Pairing Weekend Holiday Entertaining!

December is holiday festive party time! Our job this month is to create some great sparkling wine and appetizer pairings. If you see this early enough, please join us December 13th at 8 a.m. Pacific Time. We’ll be chatting on twitter using #WinePW about our creative holiday sparkling wine pairings.

We’d love to have you join us! Sparkling Wine and Appetizer Pairings.


This month I wanted to pair a Washington Sparkling wine with something I enjoy serving. I thought spicy prawns on a stick would be perfect. I chose wild shrimp for this recipe because they taste better. Thankfully, I found some medium sized wild shrimp which were perfect for an appetizer on a stick. Cooking time was minimal and could be done as guests arrive. If you don't like spicy you can omit or reduce the amount of chili used. Actually, I reduced the amount of chili for this recipe and I still sneezed like crazy when I was measuring it. The wine I chose was wonderful.

Recipe Butterflied Spicy Prawns

Ingredients and raw shrimp.

  • Wild Shrimp 1.1 Lbs. about 30 shrimp
  • 1 Tbsp diced garlic
  • 1/2 Tbsp diced ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground chili (I use a Vietnamese brand, it is very potent)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbs Olive Oil
  • Package of bamboo skewers
  • Sauces for serving: Sweet Chilli Sauce, Memmi/Soy Sauce, Mustard
  • Soak bamboo skewers 30 minutes in water. I counted 31 shrimp, so I soaked 31 skewers.
  • Shell and devein shrimp. This is the most time consuming part of the process. You want to remove the vein on the back of the shrimp. Ick. Sometimes you can find shrimp at the stores already cleaned and deveined.
  • Butterfly shrimp. Cut along the back where you deveined the shrimp. Not too deep.
Marinating shrimp - deveined and butterflied.

  • Mix garlic, ginger, chili, 1/2 Tbsp olive oil and salt in a medium bowl. Add shrimp and coat well, marinate shrimp for 30 minutes - 2 hours in the fridge.
Skewered marinated shrimp.

  • Skewer the marinated shrimp. Skewer from tail and up.
  • Fry shrimp in 1-2 Tbsp olive oil at medium high heat for 2-3 minutes per side (or grill). You could use vegetable oil or peanut oil if that is what you like to use. I almost always cook with olive oil.
Frying shrimp on gas range.
Once the pan was heated the shrimp did not take long to cook. They only needed about 2 minutes per side. I have a heavy lid for the pan I use, so I rested it on the shrimp to minimize oil splatters and to reduce cooking time. It worked well. I was able to fit about 12 skewered shrimp in the pan once the pan was hot. They cooked quickly.
Yes, the shrimp were spicy. My son thought they were too spicy alone. I didn't mind and thought they were a good match with the sweetness of the Treveri Sparkling Riesling.
I had sauces on the side for dipping, Sweet Chilli Sauce, Memmi (similar to soy sauce) and Mustard. They took some of the heat off of this appetizer and added variety to the taste.
Next time I think I will brush half of the shrimp with Sweet Chilli Sauce and the other half with Memmi or Soy Sauce before serving. That should reduce the heat and avoid needing a dipping sauce - because they would already have the sauce on them.
This would be a good dish for any festive celebration or with dinner of Soba noodles or rice. The Treveri Sparkling Riesling was fantastic of course. See my notes below on this sparkling wine.
Butterflied Spicy Prawns and Terveri Sparkling Riesling.
I wanted to pair the Spicy Prawns with a friendly, slightly sweet wine. I chose one of my favorites, a Washington Sparkling Riesling by Treveri Cellars.
Tasting Notes Treveri Riesling NV

Soft bubbles aplenty, sweet and crisp, apple, honey, creamy mouth, cinnamon, mineral and apple peal on the edge of the tongue, a good match to savory heat. Yum. Recommended.
SRP: $17.
ABV: 12%
RS: 34 grams per liter.

Treveri Cellars
71 Gangl Road
Wapato, WA 98951
Phone (509) 877.0925
Shop Treveri Cellars on Amazon

About Treveri Cellars

Treveri winemaker Juergen Grieb has a degree in winemaking and sparkling winemaking from Germany. From the town of Trier on the Mosel River next to Luxemburg, Juergen learned his craft at Kartheuserhof Winery under the tutelage of Herr Ludwig Breiling and worked with owner Christoph Tyrell. He also worked for the Duhr Sektkellerei in Trier which was a sparkling wine facility. After graduating, Juergen moved to the United States to make wine for an early German held winery on the Wahluke Slope in 1983. Juergen has worked in the Washington State wine industry since then, most recently for a bulk wine producer as the Head Winemaker producing 6 million gallons of still wine.

Juergen and Christian Grieb Treveri Cellars.

Treveri Cellars opened its doors on November 23, 2010 with a mission to put Washington sparkling wine on the map. Since its opening, Treveri wine has been served at White House State Department receptions and the James Beard Foundation in New York.

Producing a wide array of sparkling wines, including non-traditional varieties such as Riesling and Mueller-Thurgau, Treveri largely focuses on 100% varietal sparkling wines, and is also launching a reserve tier of sparkling wine.

#WinePW 7 Ideas from our group for you.
Try something new this year!

Don't forget our Twitter chat December 13th at 8 a.m. Pacific Time. We'll be talking about our tips and tricks for the best holiday wine pairings. We'd love to have you join us!   

And, be sure to mark your calendars for January's Wine Pairing Weekend, hosted by Christy at Confessions of a Culinary Diva. Join in the #WinePW 8 conversation on Saturday January 10, 2015.

Related Post: #winePW 6 Shepherds Pie Casserole with Barnard Griffin Syrah Port


Thursday, December 11, 2014

'O' Wines Opportunity for Success Scholarship Program @OWines


"Each purchase helps send low income, capable young women to college through the O Wines Opportunity for Success Scholarship program."

Two months ago on the #WineMuse podcast show, I enjoyed speaking with winemaker Katie Nelson of O Wines. Following up, I am happy to review her red and white wines. They were very good.

Our October winemaker conversation included speaking with Katie Nelson, Winemaker for 'O' Wines in Washington State. Each purchase of 'O' Wines helps fund scholarship to send young women to college through the 'O' Wines Opportunity for Success Scholarship program. Yes, drinking wine can support Scholarship.

O Wines was established in 2006 in Woodinville, Washington by Stacy Lill and Kathy Johanson with a mission to fund college scholarships for low income, capable young women so they can achieve their greatest potential through education.

Since the introduction of the wines to the Pacific Northwest in 2008 followed by a nationwide launch in 2013, more than $300,000 has been raised to support 52 college scholarships. Beginning in 2013 each scholarship is $20,000 given in $5,000 increments annually over 4 years.

Katie also spent 6 weeks working harvest in New Zealand in April. Of course we asked her about the experience of living, working and making wine in New Zealand. A fun and inspiring discussion. I encourage you to listen to the show and our conversation with this talented winemaker. You can support 'O' Wines Opportunity for Success Scholarship program by purchasing and enjoying O Wines. Learn more on their Our Cause page.

*Note: Scholarships are available to High School Senior females nationwide with US citizenship that are entering their freshman year of college and are enrolled in a four year program. Applicants must have a minimum GPA and meet established criteria. Each O Wines Opportunity for Success Scholarship is $20,000, given in $5,000 increments annually over 4 years.

**Note: The next O Wines Opportunity for Success Scholarship application window will open in March 2015. Learn how to apply on their Scholarship page.

Wine Reviews


Tasting Notes O Wines 2011 Chardonnay

Color: Pale gold, green highlights.
Nose: Mineral, toast, pear, slate, clean.
Palate: Big like at first taste. Good weight, honey crisp, unsweetened pear, fresh flow across the tongue, Asian pear into the finish. Lively and clean Chardonnay. New world style perfect for seafood, oysters, clams, shrimp, crab and appetizers.
After 30 minutes: Toasty nose, gingered pear, focused. Pear and lemon rush, fresh almost creamy, hint of spice on the centered finish. Craved chicken tamales and fish tacos. My speed.
At one hour: Paired with fried chicken, a good match, wine more savory with food.

Thoughts: Ready to go at open. Perfect for dining out or in. You and your friends will enjoy this fresh drinking Chardonnay. Recommended + good value.

Closure: 2+1 cork
ABV: 13%
SRP: $10.99
Sample provided by the winery


Tasting Notes O Wines 2010 Red Wine

Color: Ruby, clear.
Nose: Cherry, vanilla, soft earth, candy, leather with a little dry sage, friendly.
Palate: Medium body, cherry, fine tannin, creamy, a little grip lower gum. Instantly appealing and drinkable. Diners and guests will enjoy this wine.
After 10 minutes: Smooth, cherry, cranberry, in need of appetizers or pizza.
After 30 minutes: Cherry with orange pith, tannin friendly on the gums, medium finish.
45 minutes: Nose more focused, earthy fruit, touch of spice, dried herbs, candied cherry. Dry cherry, action on the back palate with more grip on the tongue and gums, light cranberry and currant. Medium finish.
At one hour: Fruity, dry, almost sweet with cola into the finish. Craved charcuterie, hard cheese and tamales.
1.5 hours: Fluid, dark berry, cola, coffee into the friendly finish.

Day two: Modest nose, action was on the palate. Cherry, blackberry, cola, spicy background, light but lively body, enough tannin to meet food, a little tingle on the tongue, tasty medium finish. Craved grilled lamb skewers.

Thoughts: Crowd pleasing style. Suitable for your festivities with friends and ready for casual meals. Recommended + good value.

Closure: Natural cork
ABV: 13.5%
SRP: $12.99
Sample provided by the winery

I strongly encourage you to seek out O Wines. They make wonderful everyday table wines and are perfect for parties and celebrations. And it helps a worthwhile cause. Visit their site and learn about the Criteria - Application - and Donation process. Well done Ms. Nelson.

Related Post: October 2014 Wine Muse Podcast Show Featuring New Zealand Wine.

Many thanks to Katie Nelson and O Wines!


Wine of the Month Club a Suitable Gift of Wine

Wine of the Month Club the oldest mail order wine service in America.

"I can think of few better gifts than the gift of wine." 

I recently received a sample shipment from the Wine of the Month Club out of Arcadia, California. The Wine of the Month Club has been shipping wine since 1972. The theme of this shipment was, "Give the perfect gift...Wine!"

This Wine Club offers 4 month, 6 month and 12 month Memberships. Each month the member or gift receiver, receives two bottles of wine selected by the Cellarmaster Paul Kalemkiarian. He guarantees, "You never pay for a wine you do not like". Wine is shipped direct to your address.

Wine Club Memberships are available at 4 different levels of "interest" which includes:
1. The Classic Series - The original club. 2 wines a month. Choose red + white, reds only or whites only.
2. The Vintner Series - The next tier for those interested in a variety of grapes and regions.
3. The Limited Series - Upper tier club. Wines selected for aging potential and character.
4. The California Series - A red wine only club of collectible California wines.

The sample shipment I received included a 24 page newsletter with wine tasting notes, food pairing suggestions and pricing for re-orders. Yes, you can order more if you like the wines you received. The wines I received were carefully packed and presented in an attractive burgundy linen gift box. Nice presentation. These wines were part of the Classic Series Gift Membership, both wines were from California, a 2012 Red Autumn Chardonnay and a 2012 Oak Grove Petite Sirah.

Tasting Notes:

2012 Red Autumn Chardonnay

Color: Pale straw.
Nose: Pleasant, pear, edged with yeast and ginger.
Palate: Creamy, fresh down the tongue, apple, pear, really nice and tasty across the entire palate. Whoa, this bottle went fast. Like.

Thoughts: This wine was made by La Quaterna/Fior di Sol in Napa. I understand why this wine was included in this shipment. It is a ready to drink, balanced, not over the top, tasty Chardonnay. It just wants to be enjoyed. Recommended.
Closure: 2+1 cork
ABV: 13.9%
For information on pricing and options visit or call 1-800-949-9463.

2012 Oak Grove Petite Sirah

Color: Clear Ruby to Violet.
Nose: Light fruit, raspberry, cranberry, light earth, spice.
Palate: Light body, raspberry, cranberry, gentle tannin, earthy push with modest spice on finish. Enjoyable light bodied red wine, would be good with ham or pork tenderloin.
After 20 minutes: Cheerful, broader on the palate and drier, with dried cherry and tasty medium fruit. Happy light drinking wine. Good companion with turkey dinner. Wonderful wine and food pairing.
After an hour: Spicier, rich, almost jammy fruit, cherry and cranberry stood out, not too fruity or spicy. Balanced, drinking bigger. Duck would be good to pair at this point. Demure finish for enjoying food. Like.

Thoughts: Oak grove wines are made from grapes from Monterey County, Arroyo Seco and Paso Robles. I don't often see Petite Sirah, so this wine was a treat for me. It delivered a lot of taste in a food ready wine. Not over the top and quite suitable to pair with grilled or smoked meats. Recommended.
Closure: Natural Cork
ABV: 13%
For information on pricing and options visit or call 1-800-949-9463.

Who is this Club for?

The wines I received were both tasty and enjoyable wines. This Classic Series would be an appropriate gift for someone looking to experience a variety of tasty and affordable wines each month. It would be a perfect gift for the aspiring wine "connoisseur." The tasting notes include maps, descriptions of the AVA and related growing regions as well as descriptive tasting notes. An especially good gift since not everyone lives near wine country.

Is this the kind of gift I would enjoy?

Perusing the newsletter I received, their Vintner Series and Limited Series included different wines. Wines in those shipments were from France and Spain in the Vintners package and the Limited had French and New Zealand wines. That would be more my speed and would definitely keep my interest each month. Hint, hint.

I can think of few better gifts than the gift of wine. For me, receiving a surprise monthly gift of wine would be like celebrating a birthday each and every month. I encourage you to visit their online store and look at their wine themed gift baskets too. The "Classy Girl" Insulated Wine Purses were new to me. A suitable way of gifting your best friends and family.

For information on pricing and options visit or call 1-800-949-9463.

*Note: To receive wine shipments someone 21 years or older must be present to sign for the wine shipment. I typically have my wine shipped to the office. Otherwise, I have to notify the shipper that I will collect my wine at the shippers warehouse.

A hearty thank you to the Wine of the Month Club.