Update: The Foodie Guide to Pairing Wine & Cheese

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On Nov. 30, guest blogger Sara Kahn, founder of The Cheese Ambassador, wrote a post here called The Foodie Guide to Pairing Wine & Cheese. As I mentioned at the time, not only was Sara kind enough to offer her recommendations for wine and cheese pairings to our readers, she also offered to send us a cheese sample.

I’m happy to report that Cheese Ambassador’s American Artisanal Collection arrived, and we have now tasted three types of hand-crafted cheese. All I can say is wow! Oh, okay, of course I’ll say more!

Over a few days, Dave and I nibbled our way through aged Gouda from central Wisconsin, 3-year-old Cheddar from Pennsylvania and cave-aged Blue from southern Minnesota. This trio of cheeses featured completely different textures and flavors and, naturally, we paired each of them with wine from Washington state. What a taste sensation! Wow!

I highly recommend that if you love cheese, like I do, please look at The Cheese Ambassador‘s website. In addition to the American Artisanal Collection, there’s also a Mediterranean Cheese Course Collection with Tipsy Goat cheese from Spain, Port Salut from France and Piave from Italy.

And each cheese collection includes tasting notes, food & beverage recommendations and serving tips — which makes these collections excellent for entertaining guests or as a unique gift. And if you shop now, there’s 25% off a $50 purchase.

Cheese and wine – mmmmm!

Cheers!

Attention last-minute shoppers – a great inexpensive wine gift!

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Wine Mummy is the inexpensive, useful, fun wine gift that you’ve been looking for – a great stocking stuffer that costs only $4.95! I don’t often write about wine-related products, so when I do, you know it’s time to listen up! Wine Mummy is a must-have for any wine lover who travels on planes.

Seriously, you know how hard it is to take wine on airplanes these days. You can’t bring liquids in carry-on luggage, which means you need to put that nice bottle of wine in your bag and check it. Scary! So you place it in plastic bags, stuff it in your socks, surround it by your sweaters or t-shirts, and worry about what will be awaiting you when opening your suitcase again at home.

In response to this situation, Vino Amici created Wine Mummy, which is a padded, zip-sealed travel bag (in black-and-gold packaging) “designed to protect bottles when transported inside checked baggage.” Wine Mummy is compact and lightweight, yet is made of a durable, double-layer polybag with layers of bubble padding.

The company was kind enough to send me a couple of them to review – right around the time when my boss/friend, Laura, was in town for the office holiday party. It just happened to be a big birthday milestone for her too, so I gave her a nice bottle of Alexandria Nicole Cellars Reserve Viognier packed in a Wine Mummy to take back home to Colorado.

Upon arrival, she sent me this email: “I loved the Wine Mummy – protected the bottle, reusable (!), and convenient.  I’d definitely recommend it for those who travel and want to buy that great bottle of wine but need a safe way to get it home.”

I’m sure she’ll love the award-winning ANC Viognier too, but she is saving it for the holidays!

Cheers!

If you love Cab Franc

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Goosecross Cellars 2006 Napa Valley Cabernet Franc is, quite simply, one of the best Cab Francs that we’ve had in ages. Tasting it inspired so many descriptors – smooth, lucious, velvety, rich, sumptous, elegant and plush, to name a few.

Better yet, here are the Goosecross tasting notes: Lush, generous flavors of ripe cherries, sweet raspberry, dried herbs and mint finish with toasty oak, spice and a hint of licorice. Pairings: Grilled steak or lamb, slow-cooked dishes, aged cheeses.

We can confirm that Goosecross Cab Franc pairs well with steak – that’s what we enjoyed with our first bottle. It was such a wonderful experience that we ordered another half-case from the winery!

And after all, isn’t wine all about the experience? I’ve written about our terrific experiences in Goosecross’ tasting room whenever we go to Napa. Relaxing at home with our dogs in front of the fireplace, sipping Goosecross Cab Franc, brings back those good times all over again.

We hope to go back soon!

In the meantime, we’re glad we ordered extra bottles from their website store, and if you love Cab Franc, we recommend you do the same.

Cheers!

Sip of Snoqualmie

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It’s time to start thinking about Sip of Snoqualmie again! Save the date – March 6, 2010! This was one of our favorite wine events of 2009 and it’s back in 2010. The wine-tasting benefits Encompass, an organization for children and families in the Snoqualmie Valley.

First, here’s what I wrote about the 2009 event: Dec. 16 2008; Jan. 2, 2009; Jan. 19, 2009; Jan. 24, 2009; March 10, 2009; and on March 15, 2009, after the event, which I called “a resounding success!”

So what’s the plan for this year’s second annual Sip of Snoqualmie? Once again, it’s an evening full of wines from all over the Northwest and scrumptious appetizers from Snoqualmie Casino. There is a limited (only 100 tickets available) VIP early entry at 5:30 p.m., with no lines, no waiting and an exclusive souvenir glass – as well as the opportunity to be the first to view and bid on silent auction items and purchase raffle tickets. If it’s anything like last year, it will be an exciting auction!

General admission begins at 6:30 p.m. and continues until 9:30 p.m. Tickets are on sale at the website for the Snoqualmie Casino.

But that’s not all!

New this year are four exclusive and intimate winemakers’ dinners leading up to the Sip!

  • Thurs. Feb. 25: Willows Lodge, featuring JM Cellars and Woodinville Wine Cellars
  • Friday Feb. 26: Snoqualmie Ridge Golf Club, featuring Goose Ridge Estate Vineyard
  • Tues. March 2: Terra Vista (Snoqualmie Casino), featuring Saint Laurent Estate Winery
  • Thurs. March 4: Maggiano’s Little Italy (Bellevue), featuring Alexandria Nicole Cellars

It’s a worthwhile cause, a delightful event, and we hope to see you there!

Cheers!

Col Solare – Red Mountain at its Finest

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Our visit to Col Solare was a highlight of our autumn trip to Red Mountain — not only for the tasting of its excellent namesake blend, but also for the experience at the vineyard and tasting room. Because Col Solare is more than a wine - it’s the epitome of one of Washington’s best-known wine regions.

Thanks to Wendi Warner and Gracie Doyle at Col Solare, we had a private tour of the state-of-the-art estate winery on the top of Red Mountain. The minute we passed through the magnificent gates, we knew it would be unique.

The vineyard’s location was carefully chosen by the partners, Chateau Ste. Michelle and Tuscany’s Marchesi Anitori. We learned that Col Solare is Italian for “shining hill” and indeed, the vineyard blocs were designed to look like the sun’s rays. More importantly, the grapes were planted to take best advantage of the direction of the sun and the wind, and particularly attention was placed on the vine density and slope of the land.

We were there during Crush, so we saw the fermentation process firsthand in the new cellar, and watched a variety of techniques used to create the wine. And then we tasted the 2006 Col Solare – an exquisite blend of 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot, 4% Cab Franc, 3% Petit Verdot and 2% Syrah - and the first vintage to be produced start-to-finish at the new location.

We first enjoyed this big, elegant wine at the Auction of Washington Wines picnic on Aug. 13 and again at its Seattle release party on Aug. 19. By the end of September, when we were at the vineyard, the wine had opened up a bit more and was even better.

At about a $75 price point, a bottle of 2006 Col Solare is a special-occasion wine for us. And the trip to the vineyard was a special time too. If you’re heading toward Red Mountain, be sure to call ahead, because the vineyard is only open by private appointment.

Cheers!

Col Solare