Cabernet Classic in Bellevue

Screen Shot 2016-01-31 at 3.41.10 PMAttention Cabernet lovers! The sixth annual Cabernet Classic, presented by Seattle Uncorked, will be held on Saturday Feb. 6 at the new Porsche Bellevue dealership — the first time this prestigious event has been held in Bellevue.

This is a perfect time to experience some of Washington state’s finest Cabs from 28 exclusive wineries. Current releases of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cab-based blends will be poured as well as library selections. Light appetizers will be served by Bin On The Lake.

The special evening is from 6-9 p.m. The cost is $100, with net proceeds going to Talk It Up TV & The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Complimentary valet parking will be provided by Butler Valet.

Cabernet is King in our household, and if it is in yours too, this is one event you won’t want to miss.

Tickets are available from Stranger Tickets.

Here are the featured wineries:
Alleromb
Ambassador Vineyard
Betz Family Winery
Bunnell Family Cellar
Corliss/Tranche
Cote Bonnevile
DeLille Cellars
Dunham Cellars
Efeste
Fidelitas
Figgins Estate
Five Star Cellars
Hedges Family Estates
J.Bookwalter Winery
L’Ecole No. 41
Mullan Road
Obelisco Estate
Pepper Bridge Winery
Reininger Winery
Smasne Cellars
Sparkman Cellars
Upchurch Vineyard
Va Piano Vineyards
Walla Walla Vintners
Waters Winery
Woodward Canyon

Cheers!
Margot and Dave

All About That Corkage

Bordeaux RedWe often like to bring our own wine to restaurants for several reasons: We can drink wines that we know we like; we can pair one of our special wines with an excellent restaurant meal instead of our mediocre cooking; and we don’t have to pay the marked-up cost on restaurant wine lists. (Some wines can be marked up by 30%-100% above retail.)

Instead, we pay a corkage fee that a restaurant charges when you bring your own bottle. But prices vary, depending on the city, the type of restaurant (e.g., casual vs. fine dining) and other factors.

Some charge a small fee to cover their expenses to open and serve your wine, and to wash your glasses. Others charge a fee that is the same as the least expensive wine on their list. Yet others charge higher fees to discourage the practice or because their wine list contains high-end bottles with corresponding prices.

Some restaurants will waive the corkage on one bottle if you buy a bottle from the restaurant. This enables you to discover a new wine, while also enjoying your favorite bottle from home.

wine-glasses-photo-courtesy-Marcus-Whitman-Hotel-e1294811651743We’ve been charged anywhere from $5-$30 a bottle, depending on the restaurant’s policy. For example, last weekend we were at a Bellingham restaurant and corkage was $10. In Seattle, we’ve paid anywhere from $5-$20. Last month, a DC restaurant charged $30, which was a bargain compared to the price of wine on its list. We’ve heard that a couple of world-renowned, high-end restaurants in Napa Valley have been known to charge a $75-$150 corkage fee, and a posh Manhattan establishment charges $85.

If you are considering bringing your own wine to dinner, there are some simple rules of etiquette to make the experience a good one.

  • Phone the restaurant in advance to see if bringing your own wine is permitted, and then ask if they have a corkage fee.
  • On that same call, find out if your bottle is available at the restaurant. Never, never bring wine that is on a restaurant’s wine list.
  • If you wine isn’t on their list, let them know you are planning to bring your own bottle, when you make the reservation.
  • Along those same lines, never bring a cheap wine — at least $25 is best.
  • When you go to the restaurant, don’t carry the bottle in a paper bag. If you have a nice container, great. Otherwise, simply carry it on its own.
  • Let the host or hostess and your server know you brought your own bottle to drink, and then follow their lead on next steps.
  • If you bring a special bottle of wine, offer your server and/or the sommellier a taste. It will be appreciated.

Bottom line: It’s best to know a restaurant’s policy on corkage fees before showing up with a bottle of your own wine.

Cheers!
Margot and Dave

Run, Don’t Walk, for Tickets to SWFE!

You’d better move quickly – tickets are going fast for the eighth annual  Seattle Wine and Food Experience. If you like good wine, beer and food, mark your calendars for this delicious experience on Feb. 20-21.

The activities kick off Feb. 20 with Pop! Bubbles & Seafood at McCaw Hall from 6-9 p.m. On Feb. 21, the Grand Tasting takes place at Seattle Center Exhibition Hall from 1-5 p.m. — but once again there is a VIP experience, with a one-hour early entry.

Screen Shot 2016-01-17 at 5.48.12 PMPop! Bubbles & Seafood offers more than 40 sparkling wines from around the world, to be paired with seafood — from salmon and clams to oysters and shrimp — prepared by 16 local chefs. And let’s not forget the caviar! Other beverages available are red and white wines, special cocktails, cold beer and chilled cider.

The Grand Tasting features more than 190 leading wine brands, craft brewers, cider makers, distillers and chefs.

“We’ve added some terrific new experiences this year,” said Jamie Peha, event producer and president of Peha Promotions. “The weekend is much more than a tasting. By working closely with our vendors we create unique ways for our guests to deeply engage with a variety of select offerings.”

The experiences include: Ste. Michelle Riesling Challenge, Northwest Wine Academy Wine School, Heritage Meats Butchery Block, and the Brews and Ewes by Stella Artois and the American Lamb Board.

In addition, Tim Kennedy, who started Tim’s Chips, has carved out an hour to greet fans and autograph limited edition bags of Tim’s chips to commemorate the brand’s 30th anniversary.

You can find a full list of wineries that will be pouring, along with beer and cider and spirits, in addition to information about numerous restaurants serving gourmet bites.

The event benefits Les Dames d’Escoffier Seattle, a 501c3 non-profit organization that focuses on raising funds for scholarships for women in the culinary, beverage, and hospitality industries, and also supports community-outreach programs and sustainable-agriculture projects based in Washington State.

Tickets are available at the Seattle Wine and Food Experience website $60 for the Grand Tasting; $75 for the VIP experience; and $75 for Pop! Bubbles & Seafood. Or you can get a weekend pass for $140.

So run, don’t walk to get your tickets! We hope to see you there.

Cheers!
Margot and Dave

Our List of Top 60 Washington Wineries

NYE WineAs the new year begins, we want to reflect on the wineries in Washington state that made our list of Top 60 Washington Wineries.

The way to get on our list is fairly simple; we only have two criteria: wineries must offer good juice and good people who provide an excellent wine experience. Perhaps we had fun or learned something in a tasting room or at a major wine event such as Taste Washington, Taste of Tulalip or Seattle Wine and Food Experience. Perhaps someone from the winery gave us a call, or sent us a personal note or samples. Or perhaps we were invited to an incredible winery party.

These people might be the winemakers or the winery owners; in some cases, they are the hard-working staff in a tasting room who went out of their way to make us feel welcome or the amazing workers in the vineyards where it all begins.

Why 60 wineries? The list grew to 60 from 50 last year, as we were introduced to new wineries or new wine experiences in 2015. We welcome the newcomers to the list, and thank you for the 2015 wine experiences you brought us — Andrew Will, B. Leighton, Cote Bonneville, Dynasty Cellars, Ensemble Cellars Kiona, Leonetti, Passing Time, Reynvaan, Seven Falls and Stottle Winery.

Write for Wine’s Top 60 Washington Wineries (in alphabetical order):

  1. Alexandria Nicole Cellars
  2. Andrew Will
  3. Avennia
  4. B. Leighton
  5. Baer
  6. Barrage Cellars
  7. Barrister
  8. Bartholomew
  9. Betz Family
  10. Boudreaux Cellars
  11. Buty Winery
  12. Chateau Ste. Michelle
  13. Columbia Crest
  14. Cooper Wine Company
  15. Cote Bonneville
  16. Darby
  17. DiStefano
  18. Double Canyon
  19. Dunham Cellars
  20. Dynasty Winery
  21. Efeste
  22. Ensemble Cellars
  23. Fall Line
  24. Fidelitas
  25. Fielding Hills
  26. Figgins
  27. Force Majeure
  28. Forgeron Cellars
  29. Gard
  30. Gorman Winery
  31. Guardian Cellars
  32. Hard Row to Hoe
  33. JM Cellars
  34. Kiona
  35. L’Ecole 41
  36. Lauren Ashton
  37. Leonetti
  38. Long Shadows
  39. Maryhill
  40. Mercer Estates
  41. Northstar
  42. Northwest Totem Cellars
  43. Obelisco Estate
  44. Otis Kenyon
  45. Passing Time
  46. Quilceda Creek
  47. Reynvaan
  48. Ross Andrew
  49. Sleight of Hand
  50. Seven Falls Cellars
  51. Sinclair Estate
  52. Sparkman Cellars
  53. Stottle Winery
  54. Va Piano
  55. Vin du Lac
  56. Walla Walla Vintners
  57. William Church
  58. Windy Point
  59. Woodward Canyon
  60. Woodhouse Wine Estates

To these people, we thank you; we support you. Cheers to Washington state wine!

Happy new year!
Margot and Dave
Write for Wine — it’s Wine O’clock Somewhere!