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Ready, Set Bubbles!

Thursday, December 29th, 2016

Good Morning Darlings!

NYE 2017 is just days away – how will you celebrate?

We will celebrate in a very different way this year. A tiny little fete’ for 8.

If you have been following me for any time at all, you know my absolute go-to for bubbles is Segura Viudas Brut Cava. Honestly, it’s as tasty as wines that are 3 times the price and its $8 price tag allows me to buy in bulk (truly, I have 3 cases at the house – you never know who will stop by!) My friends can always count on me to provide them with a glass of bubbles. Life is a celebration, drink it in. Does that sound cheesy? It’s okay to be cheesy!

When the lovely folks at Segura Viudas got in touch about their new Reserva Heredad (SRP $25), I jumped at the chance to try it. Look how fancy the bottle is!

THE Drink for NYE 2017

With only a few faves gathering, a few bottles are affordable and why not spoil your besties? We will be feasting on roasted veggie lasagna bathed in bechamel sauce, yummy garlic bread, crisp salad, caviar and a surprise dessert.

The pop of Segura Viudas Reserva Heredad will be our soundtrack as the clock strikes midnight.

It should be your go-to, too! Happy New Year!!

xoxo, Patti

ps – Check out the fabulous music video on their site. It will get you all revved up to party! ūüôā

Gifting Wine

Monday, November 7th, 2016

Good Morning Darlings,

Halloween is now behind us and Thanksgiving is a few weeks away. For me this means lots of dinner parties and when you are invited, I know you always want to arrive with a gift. You cannot go wrong with wine (unless, of course, your hosts are recovering alcoholics, allergic to grapes or are staunch beer drinkers who never drink wine – know your audience, darlings.)

EOD Cellars Wine is a charity wine that is made possible through a partnership with Tackitt Family Vineyards and the EOD Warrior Foundation. Profits from the wine sales go directly to the EOD Warrior Foundation, which are used to help current and past EOD warriors and their families. EOD stands for Explosive Ordnance Disposal, the disarming and disposal of bombs. EOD technicians are highly-trained military members serving in the Army, Marines, Navy and Air Force who are responsible for disarming, rendering safe and disposing bombs. The EOD profession is one of the most dangerous occupations in the military.

 

EOD Wines

EOD Wines

Over Black Friday weekend, Tackitt Family Vineyards will be offering free shipping on all of their fantastic and award winning wines, including those with the EOD Cellars label, making it even easier to give the gift of wine this holiday season. Enter ‚ÄėEOD‚Äô for the promo code in the coupon block to get free shipping.

For those giving wine gifts this year, it’s a good idea to keep a few etiquette tips in mind, including:

  • If you are not familiar with specific taste preferences of those you are giving the wine to, it‚Äôs always best to stick with classic varieties. Giving someone a simple white or red wine is usually a safe bet.
  • Don‚Äôt expect the host to serve it that night or right when you give it to them. They may have other plans in mind, and it is your gift to them. They can stash it away and serve it when, and to whom, they wish.
  • It‚Äôs a good idea to stick a note on the bottle, letting them know you put some thought into the selection. If you are choosing an EOD Cellars Wine, for example, it‚Äôs a nice touch to write on there that you thought they would appreciate the selection and the mission.
  • You may want to give something with the wine, with good options being to consider pairing it with a good chocolate, cheese, Spanish olives, dried fruits, or almonds. Another nice option is to pair it with a special hand painted wine glass or small wine pairing book for their collection.
  • Wrapping it in a wine bag is optional, but if you choose not to use one, then it‚Äôs a nice touch to add the hand-written note and a ribbon or bow.

I love the idea of wine gifting with a purpose. Later this week, I’ll be discussing some of my favorite local Georgia wines.

Tis the season!

xoxo, Patti

New Friend Wednesday – Joon Lim, Sommelier Extraordinaire!

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015

Good Morning Darlings,

Are you ready for Thanksgiving? We are kicking it very low key at our house tomorrow. Just Eric and me. I can’t wait.

If you are going out to eat or are looking for the right wine, let me introduce you to my friend, Joon, the sommelier at Kevin Rathbun Steak. He is so passionate about wine and he will steer you in the right direction.

That's Joon to my left.  He is the wine guru!

That’s Joon to my left. He is the wine guru!

Q: Who was your biggest influence in deciding to become a sommelier?

 

A: ¬†My biggest influence is a gentleman by the name of Bob Stepic, my then-GM and sommelier at a little bistro I worked at called Park Cafe in Duluth, GA.¬† I started as a server having just the very basic knowledge I had gained through a Dummies book on wine.¬† I didn’t know how to go about becoming a sommelier and didn’t know anyone, having just moved to Atlanta from Kentucky.¬† As time went, I expressed much interest in being a sommelier and knowing about the industry as a whole, service and beverage.¬† I’ve had bosses in the industry prior to working at Park Cafe, but Bob was a true mentor to me.¬† He was full of wisdom and just plain common sense.¬† He was one of those who could put two and two together like no one can.¬† Though not a certified sommelier himself, he planned a detailed path with a timeline as to when I would accomplish certain steps, that would lead to me becoming a professional sommelier with the certification that goes along with that.¬† There was an atmosphere of accountability and without it, I couldn’t have stayed on track.¬† Bob Stepic also introduced me to many industry professionals, namely people involved in education and distribution of wine.¬† That in turn gave me the opportunity to network with other sommeliers in the city and around the country.¬† My career, current place of employment, certifications, great people I’ve connected and have become friends with over the years, were all made possible either directly or indirectly, through Bob Stepic.¬† It all started with him eight years ago.

 

Q: What do you believe is most diners’ misconceptions about consulting a sommelier at a fine restaurant?

 

A: ¬†Misconceptions of diners – I think more diners are comfortable now than ever before in approaching a sommelier for help in selecting wine.¬† There are some though that still approach us with much apprehension mainly because of a fear that they’ll be looked down upon for either saying the wrong thing or just coming across as less experienced.¬† One of my favorite movie scenes is from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off when Ferris and his two friends go in to the fancy french restaurant that his father frequents, called Chez Quis.¬† The stuck-up maitre’d gives a glare of disapproval the moment they walk in to the restaurant, given their youthful age and the way they’re dressed.¬† Ferris didn’t know any better to make a reservation so he claimed to be the sausage king of Chicago and the maitre’d just scoffs at him.¬† I think some diners still have that image of that maitre’d when they think of sommeliers.¬† The truth is, we’re there to help you.¬† We wouldn’t have jobs if it wasn’t for you asking for help.¬† Some lists can be quite lengthy, we don’t want you to be lost in a sea of pages, robbing you of your time to enjoy with other guests.¬† We curated the list and take pride in every bottle of wine that is offered, so as far as we’re concerned, you can’t make a bad decision!

 

Q: Why did you choose to become a sommelier?

 

A: ¬†Why did I choose to become a sommelier?¬† I love wine as much as life itself.¬† I feel that I’m called to do it.¬† I feel that God smiles at me when I take time to hone in on my craft and cultivate the desire he placed in my heart.¬† In particular, I love how historical traditions are so closely intertwined with the style of wine that is produced.¬† Only when you gain a revelation of the history, the culture, and politics, can you truly understand why a wine from a certain country tastes like the way it does. ¬† I’ve had many “ahh” moments when tasting wine simply because I understood the historical and legislative context in which the wine was made. ¬†The topic of wine encompasses many disciplines and the amount of information is endless. ¬†It always keeps me striving… ¬†and humble.

 

Q: When should we start choosing our wines for the holidays? Are there any new varietals that we should be taking notice of?

 

A: ¬† When you should choose wine for the holidays? ¬†I’m not sure that a correct time exists. ¬†The choices are abundant and more readily available than ever before. ¬†For Champagne and sparkling wines in general, I like to shop for them some time before thanksgiving, for enjoyment on Christmas or New Year’s. ¬†There’s an assurance of supply for your favorite producers, especially if what you’re looking for is a small grower producer. ¬†As for varietals, I’m excited about California petite sirah and petit verdot. ¬†These two are typically regelated as blending grapes for Bordeaux blends but more and more winemakers are realizing their potential as a stand alone variety. ¬†They produce delicious wines with good color, floral aromatics, good tannin structure and rich berry fruit. ¬†Another variety that doesn’t get the attention it deserves is Austrian Zweigelt, with its intense cherry fruit, freshness, and savory herbs. ¬†Like Rodney Dangerfield, it just can’t get no respect! ¬†The price to quality ratio is in favor of the consumer as well. ¬†Try a bottle of Umathum and you’ll be hooked.

 

Q: Where would you most like to travel to learn more about your craft?

 

A:  Where would I like to travel to learn more of my craft?  South Africa.  Everyone I have spoken to attests to its beauty.  They too have a long history of wine production dating back hundreds of years, much of which remains a mystery to the rest of the world.  The future is bright for South Africa with much creativity, innovation, and value coming out of this country.

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

xoxo, Patti

A Sparkling Trip to Italy Via Canoe

Tuesday, October 13th, 2015

Good Morning Darlings!

Last week was a whirlwind of parties. I am back in the swing of things and diving in head first.

The lovely folks from Ferrari Trento invited me to join them for an exclusive lunch at Canoe, one of Atlanta’s most romantic restaurants. I tend to forget how close Canoe is, and yet it seems a world away from the city. There were less than 20 of us there for a glamorous preview of the Lunelli family’s stunning sparkling wines, paired with scrumptious cuisine prepared by Chef Matthew. The event was a lavish indulgence in the middle of the day.

Gracing the banks of the Chattahoochee River

Our group was seated in the private dining room and we all introduced ourselves. So many new friends!

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I didn’t want to miss a moment hearing about these exceptional wines, so I chose a seat directly from our guest of honor, Marcello Lunelli, the distinguished winemaker.

Marcello Lunelli

Marcello Lunelli

Did you know that the rest of the world is drinking sparkling wine from regular wine glasses? We are the only ones drinking from flutes. Marcello wants to spread the word that sparkling wine is for everyday, not only special occasions. I concur. He made a great point by saying if he is out with his wife and another couple and they all prefer a different variety of wine, they can all agree on bubbles. I have seen this over and over again at our parties. No one declines a glass of bubbly!

Canoe’s dishes were a perfect accompaniment to the six (!!) glasses we sampled. Here’s a look at the menu and the wines we enjoyed.

Oysters on the Half Shell

Ferrari Rose’ NV Trento DOC Metodo Classico

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House Smoked Salmon on a Crispy Potato Cake, Vermont Goat Cheese

Ferrari “Riserva Lunelli” 2006 Trento DOC Metodo Classico

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American Prosciutto Salad, Compressed Melon, Parmesan

Ferrari Riserva del Fondatore “Giulio” 2002, Trento DOC

Ferrari Riserva del Fondatore “Giulio” 2001, Trento DOC

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The¬†“Guilio” 2001 was a standout for me. It has a remarkable nose with hugely expressive aromas of dried orchard fruits, cake batter and acacia honey. Cake! It was my favorite. And I think it might be your favorite, too, when you try it.

Next course!

Crisped Jumbo Lump Crab Cake, Thai Salad, Yuzu

Ferrari Riversa del Fondatore “Giulio” RD 1999, Trento DOC

Ferrari Riversa del Fondatore “Giulio” 1993, Trento DOC

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This was my favorite dish paired with my other favorite wine. The 1993 vintage is one of the more costly wines, but wow, for a special occasion, what a perfect splurge. I found it online retailing from $168 up to $358 per bottle. It was so exciting to be able to sample this exquisite treat. If you are a lover of fine wines, I know you would be thrilled to add this to your collection. Or, send to me as a gift! ūüôā Trust me, you will be in grand company. Queen Elizabeth, Margaret Thatcher, Andy Warhol, Alec Baldwin, Brooke Shields and the Scissor Sisters have all enjoyed Ferrari scrumptious wines. Their wines were even served at a G8 dinner.

If you are traveling to Italy, you must make Trentino a stop and visit the charming Lunelli family. The vineyard even has a Michelin Star Restaurant, Locanda Margon, nestled amid the vines. I can’t wait to go. Shall we plan a trip together?

The company I enjoyed at this luncheon was marvelous. Joon Lim, who is a server and sommelier at Kevin Rathbun Steaks and I had a wonderful discussion about how most restaurant patrons are reluctant to ask for help when ordering wine. He is so fabulous that I have asked him to talk to me in depth about today’s sommeliers and why you should always ask for help. Look for the interview next week or so.

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Many thanks to Ferrari Trento, Canoe and Palm Bay International. This was a special afternoon with special food, people and of course, the Ferrari Trento sparkling wines that will be gracing my dinner parties in the future.

xoxo, Patti