Monday, September 18, 2017

Tips on Pairing Wine and Cheese

Whether you need the perfect appetizer to serve at your get together, or you just LOVE wine and cheese (who doesn't?!) you shouldn't just put any wines with any cheeses. Certain cheeses enhance the flavor of certain wines and vice versa and it's important to know what to put with what. Here are some tips:

Keep the intensity of the wine and cheese on the same level
Don't put a delicate cheese, such as Gruyère with an intense wine like Cabernet Sauvignon. The bold taste of the wine will overpower the cheese. A good rule to follow to know what wines are what intensity is anything over 14.5% ABV (alcohol by volume) are more intense and anything under 12% ABV are less intense.

Aged cheese goes well with bold, red wines
Cheese becomes richer in flavor as it ages due to the increased fat content it develops as it looses water content. For this reason, aged cheese counteracts the high tannins found in bold, red wines which creates a delicious combination. Cheeses that have been aged at least one year, such as Manchego, Gouda, or Provolone pair well with bold, red wines like Merlot or Cabernet Franc.

Sweet wines and stinky cheeses are perfect together
Cheeses like Limburger, Livarot Munster, or Robiola Lombardia pair perfectly with sweet wines such as Moscato, Port, or Dessert wines because the sweetness in the wine makes the cheese taste creamy by balancing the funky taste. 

Cheese and wine from the same region should be kept together
Sauvignon Blanc and Goat Cheese, both from Loire Valley, France; Chardonnay and Époisses de Bourgogne, both from Burgundy, France; and Garnacha and Manchego, both from Spain, are all great examples of wine and cheese that pair well together. Sometimes it's wise to just trust the local traditions.

A firm, nutty cheese is a good go-to when you're just not sure
With the right amount of fat to counterbalance tannin in red wine, and still the right amount of delicacy to compliment delicate whites, firm, nutty cheeses are a popular choice to pair with almost all wines. These cheeses include Swiss, Comté Extra, and Gouda.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Featured Wineries

Featured Wineries...

Our Featured Wineries are not only exquisite and beautiful places to visit, but we have additional pictures and information available on our Winery Profile pages. Click one of our Featured Wineries and read all about them!

Leslie and Joseph set out to create a complete guide for visiting wine country focusing on Napa and Sonoma wineries. H. Montanile™ is the wine lovers choice. From winery reviews, wine education and selection, places to stay, fun things to do and sample itineraries. H. Montanile™ brings you the complete wine country experience in one living site. We at H. Montanile™ can fulfill all of your wine country, gourmet food and fine wine needs.

Happy Tastings,
Leslie & Joseph Montanile

Keep checking our website for updated featured wineries!

Monday, September 4, 2017

Wine Crush & Harvest Festivals 2017 - Sonoma County

One of the best times to visit wine country is during the harvest and this year will be no different! During the sorting, stemming, crushing, and fermentation processes of the grapes, a lot of wineries encourage visitors to engage in the harvest and experience the fun first hand. Here are some of the activities planned for this year's harvest:

"Sonoma Valley Crush (Sept. 8 to 10, 2017)
Experience harvest, hands-on, as you enjoy a one-of-a-kind, behind-the-scenes look at every aspect from picking grapes, to crush, to fermentation. Interactive fun at more than a dozen wineries across Kenwood and Glen Ellen includes grape sampling in the vineyards, crush pad tours, and tasting fresh pressed juices like Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon. One exciting extra is tasting how a wine evolves while it's fermenting. Cost for a Crush Wine Tasting Pass is $35 ($45 at the door), bringing full access to harvest activities and wine tastings from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Sonoma County Wine Auction (September 16, 2017)
Held at the beautiful new La Crema Estate at Saralee’s Vineyard in Russian River Valley, the fundraising gala features fine foods from chef Thomas Schmidt of John Ash & Co., and executive chef Justin Wangler of Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate & Gardens. And it’s for a great cause: the Auction has raised $24 million for local Sonoma County charitable partners over the years. Mark your calendars for Sept. 15, too, as the auction kicks off with vintner dinners at top wineries across Sonoma County.

Valley of the Moon Vintage Festival (September 22-24, 2017)
It’s the 120th Anniversary of this party at the Sonoma Plaza. The festivities kick off on Friday, September 22 with a marvelous costume gala with tasting great wines and delicious food followed by dancing under the stars to live music. The fun keeps going throughout the weekend with Sip & Shop – wine tasting and artists showcase of more than 80 artists, a grape stomp competition, fire fighter demonstrations, “Get Your Glow On” Night Parade, live music and a Kids Zone.

Details: 453 1st Street E, Sonoma, 707-996-2109, www.valleyofthemoonvintagefestival.com. Tickets for the gala are $90-$125. 

Harvest Dinner at Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards (September 23, 2017)
 Go behind-the-scenes on a tour with Mike Crumly, VP of Production, including a food and wine pairing featuring a very special library selection served in the grapevine covered arbor. Then, tuck into a seasonal harvest-inspired and wine paired supper, with live music.

Details: 23555 Arnold Dr., Sonoma, 707-996-7256, www.gloriaferrer.com. 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.; $150.

Harvest Dinner at Lambert Bridge Winery (September 30, 2017)
The winery is Architectural Digest beautiful, with the tasting room looking through a long wall of wood-framed glass into a barrel room glimmering with votive candles and glowing candlestick chandeliers. For the Harvest Party, guests get to go inside the barrel room, and also check out the crush pad, before sitting down to a lavish supper at communal tables on the lawn. It’s posh, with such delights as oyster tasting stations, but also relaxed, sometimes attended to by the very well behaved winery dogs.

Details: 4085 W. Dry Creek Road, Healdsburg, 707-431-4675, www.lambertbridge.com. 5 to 9 p.m.; $175. 

43rd Annual Sonoma County Harvest Fair (October 6-8, 2017)
This annual event brings so much more than just showcasing award-wining wine and beautiful food. Attractions include educational demonstrations, a cooking competition, expanded interactive tastings, and a focus on local and artisanal products. The highlight remains the Grand Tasting, with three days of sampling from 100+ wineries, including the opportunity to purchase bottles at a Fair-direct discount. Don’t miss the marketplace tasting seminars where you can learn about farming wine grapes, winemaking, and wine appreciation, directly from the winery owners and winemakers. Another don’t miss: the World Championship Grape Stomp for messy fun and great prizes like cold, hard cash.

Details: Sonoma County Fairgrounds, 1350 Bennett Valley Road, Santa Rosa, www.harvestfair.org. Prices vary per event. 

Landmark Vineyards Harvest Festival And Winemaker Seminar (October 7, 2017)
One of the delights of this lovely 20-acre estate in the foothills of the Mayacamas mountains is the tours that give you a sneak peek into the wine process. The strolls last about 15 minutes, passing right past the crush pad, with your guide narrating all along the way and explaining everything from the estate grape varieties, to trellising to winemaking. For this event, you can be the first to try new wine club releases, enjoy delicious food from local vendors, play a game of bocce ball, groove to live music, or just kick back and smell the rosés. 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; $45. Start the day early, though, at 10:30 a.m., with an exclusive wine and cheese pairing seminar led by Landmark winemaker Greg Stach and cheese expert Sophie Boban-Doering. Learn about rare cheeses from around the world, and how match Chardonnays, Pinot Noirs and library selections. 10:30 a.m. to noon; $60.

Details: 101 Adobe Canyon Rd., Kenwood, 707-833-0053, www.landmarkwine.com

D'Argenzio Winery and Tasting Room 22nd Annual Italian Country Harvest Party (October 7, 2017)
It’s a taste of Italy in downtown Santa Rosa, as the D'Argenzio family celebrates friends, new and old. The fun includes an Italian feast, a grape stomp, bocce, live music, dancing, and tastings. On tap: many newly released wines, and limited edition wines. Lots of wine, actually - last year, the winery opened 28 different types, yowza! Event time: 4 to 8 p.m.; $45.

Details: 1301 Cleveland Avenue, Suite A, Santa Rosa, 707-546-2466, www.dargenziowine.com

Dutton-Goldfield Harvest Party (October 21, 2017)
The celebration features new wine releases, food pairings, and an exclusive show by a local jewelry artist. Tastings are $25, or complimentary with a 3-bottle purchase.

Details: 3100 Gravenstein Hwy. North, Sebastopol, 707-823-3887, www.duttongoldfield.com. 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Celebrate Labor Day With the Perfect Wine!

Labor Day is one week away and with it comes barbecues, pool parties, and other fun celebrations! A celebration isn't really a celebration without wine though, is it? So, make sure you know the perfect wine to bring or serve next weekend at your holiday party.

Most Labor Day celebrations include delicious foods on the grill. Chicken, burgers, and steaks are always better when cooked on the grill and they deserve to have the perfect companion.

Here are some amazing pairings:

Chicken, seafood, and veggies - pair with a Pinot Noir Rose which is flavorful and refreshing.

Steaks and burgers - pair with a Classic Cabernet Sauvignon.

Sausage - pair with a Riesling to compliment the intense flavors.

Another wonderful part of Labor Day weekend is swimming! If your celebration is poolside then a Sauvignon Blanc is a great choice. If you're a red wine drinker, you should go with a Pinot Nior while dipping your toes in the water.

Sparkling wines are also a great choice for poolside fun. They are refreshing, bright, and delicious. They pair well with fruit and cheese, or a simple sandwich.

Monday, August 21, 2017

The History of Napa Valley

According to The Wine Cellar Insider, "The first vines were planted in California as far back as the late 1700′s." The wine produced from these grapes were intended for religious purposes, as they were planted by Father Junipero Serra and his missionaries. Not long afterwards, in the mid 1800s, the commercial start to the wine industry took place. Abraham Lincoln was president when a small group of European Immigrants initiated it!

In the 1850s, a man named Joseph Osborne planted vines on "Oak Knoll" which was an 1,800 acre tract of land. That land has since been split over and over throughout time and has created some of the best bench land vineyards in Napa Valley. However, in Northern California in the 1930s, George Calvert Yount planted vineyards on land that the Mexican Government had granted him (California was still part of Mexico since it had not yet been awarded statehood at this time). Yountville is named after him and many credit him with the birth of Napa Valley. Not long afterwards, Calistoga was founded by Samuel Brannan who planted over 100 acres of vines and called it Agua Caliete Ranch.

But the real credit for creating vineyards in Napa Valley goes to John Patchett who, in the 1950s received the first official review of his wine, which is the first official review of any California wine. The positive review was published in the “California Farmer Magazine," and was composed by Robert Parker. Since wine country was so young at this point, most used an old cider press since they didn't even have grape presses yet.

For a full history of Napa Valley, visit The Wine Cellar Insider's article "Complete Napa Valley California Wine History from Early 1800s to Today"

Monday, August 14, 2017

Napa Valley Weddings

Napa Valley is a beautiful place for vacations. It has amazing views, an array of activities, and an abundance of wineries. These qualities make it the perfect location for the most important day of your life... Your wedding!

Your wedding day is one day you will remember forever so why not celebrate in one of the most beautiful places on earth? Napa Valley offers a setting with rolling vineyards that are sure to make the most amazing backdrops for your photos. You can then celebrate the wonderful day in a grand ballroom! Stay and enjoy a relaxing honeymoon after you say "I do!"

Wedding Venues

"Elegance meets history in the heart of Napa Valley. Your wedding will be simply breathtaking on our legendary estate, dating back to 1861. One of only five Napa wineries that can host weddings, our wedding package includes use of our historic Carriage House, with its renovated ballroom and dining room, soaring cathedral ceiling, stunning period chandeliers, and arched doorways overlooking our Great Lawn."

"For memories that last a lifetime, distinguish your perfect day and set the stage for the wedding event of your dreams at the Vintage Estate which includes both the Villagio Inn & Spa and the Vintage Inn, Northern California's preferred, Four Diamond luxury destination. From ceremony through reception and on into the evening, the lush gardens of the Inn and the adjacent Vintage Estate create a dramatic Wine Country-inspired backdrop for rehearsal dinners, ceremonies and wedding receptions of up to 1,000 guests."

"From simple elopements to vow renewals, the Napa Valley Wine Train is one of the most distinctive Wine Country wedding destinations available. Not only are we an incredibly unique venue, but we hold the customers experience as one of our highest priorities, understanding that this is a day that can never be repeated."

"Churchill Manor's owners, Joanna and Brian, have been carrying on the inn's 90 year old tradition of hosting weddings and receptions. Since purchasing the inn 12 years ago, they have hosted over 700 events and take great pride in developing a reputation of exceptional excellence."

"Our on-site event coordinator loves creating unique events for our guests and handling all of the details so that you can relax with friends and family. Choose from all-inclusive packaged themes such as dessert & wine pairings, lobster feasts, and wedding brunches or let us customize the rehearsal dinner of your dreams! Our corporate entertaining packages make your job easier by letting us do all of the work. Your friends & colleagues will be amazed with your party-planning skills! Our combination of indoor and outdoor event spaces can accommodate up to 250 guests – or choose one our smaller spaces for more intimate gatherings."

Wedding Planners

"Life is a series of stories. Some make us laugh. Some give us pause. And others, the truly special ones, deserve to be celebrated. At A Savvy Event, we live for those milestone moments. Whatever your story may be, a wedding, an anniversary, a corporate affair, or even a shoot that needs styling, our goal is always the same: to seamlessly execute (and beautifully style) a fabulous soirée."

"Your wedding is the most memorable day of your life. There are many details that go into it, beginning with the proposal to the first dance as man and wife. Napa Valley Custom Events offers services based on your needs. That may be full assistance or coordination the day of the wedding. Let the memories of detailing your special day also be joyful and stress-free."


"Kopol Bonick Photography offers professional photographic services for weddings, events, commercial assignments and portraits. We are located in the Napa Valley and photograph throughout wine country and the Bay Area. We also are available for destination weddings and national commercial opportunities."

"We are Laura and Donna, proud owners of L&D Photography. Let us use our artistic talent and sound photography skills to tell your story. We would be honored to design a personal, customized photography experience to fit your personality and your needs."

"When you wake up on your wedding day, your only thoughts should be about celebrating your marriage with your friends, family, and love of your life."

For more information on weddings in Napa Valley click here

Monday, August 7, 2017

How Long an Opened Bottle of Wine Stays Good

A very common question people have is "Does wine go bad?" but the answer is not as simple as the question. It is dependent on what kind of wine it is and how it is stored. Fortified wines have about a months lifespan once open, whereas table wines last only about 3-5 days. On a positive note, an old wine doesn't harm you, it just doesn't taste as good.

Why does wine go bad? In short, acetic acid bacteria starts to consume the wine's alcohol then metabolizes which causes a vinegar like smell. Also, the alcohol can oxidize, which takes away the wine's freshness and gives it a nutty taste. Both of these chemical reactions can be slowed down by keeping the wine at a lower temperature.

Sparkling wine, like soda, loses it's carbonation quiet fast once opened. A wine stopper will help, but only prolongs the quality of the wine for 1-3 days when in the fridge. Because they have more bubbles, traditional sparkling wines such as Champagne, will last a little longer.

Sweet white and rose wines will get about 5-7 days in the fridge with a cork. The longer it's opened the less vibrant the fruit flavor and character of the wine will be. If the white wine is full-bodied, like a Chardonnay, it's life drops to about 3-5 days because they tend to oxidize faster due to being exposed to more oxygen during the aging process before bottling.

If a red wine is higher in tannin and acidity, it tends to last longer after opening than a red wine that has little tannin like a Pinot Noir. Reds should be stored in a dark, cool location like a chiller once opened, but if that's not available to you the refrigerator is the next best place. Red wines will last about 3-5 days with a cork.

Port, Sherry, and Marsala, along with other fortified wines, will last about a month with a cork if kept in a cool, dark place. The addition of Brandy to these wines gives them a longer life. A good fact to keep in mind is the sweeter the dessert wine, the longer life it has.

If you like to keep a box of wine the fridge you can count on it's life to be about 2-3 weeks for either red or white. This is because the bag inside of the box is an airless environment which keeps the wine longer. However, make sure to check the expiration date on the box because there are regulations on foods that are stored in plastic.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Fruit Wines

Most commonly, grapes are what wine is made from; however, wines made from other fruits are just as delicious as grape wines. Some decadent fruits that are frequently used to make wine include plums, pineapples, elderberries, peaches, and cherries. Wines made from other fruits than grapes are often referred to as "Country Wine."

Almost any plant matter that can be fermented can be used to make fruit wine, but since there are few foods other than grapes that have the correct balance of sugar, tannin, acid, and salts, the majority of fruit wines need to be adjusted at fermentation. For example, in order to increase the alcohol content, sugar or honey may be added to the wine since sugar turns to alcohol during the fermentation process.

Some popular fruit wines:

Pineapple wine offers a sweet flavor with a bit of zest; pair it with ham for a holiday or special occasion.

Peach wine is wonderful with spicy foods. It's also great with smokey foods which enhance it's sweetness.

Blackberry wine offers a deep, rich fruit flavor, very similar to what you would expect from a Merlot.

Strawberry wine works well with pasta, pork and veal.

Our recommendations:

Chateau Fontaine Cherry Wine

Carlson Vineyards Peach Wine

Smith & Hook Winery Elderberry Wine

Monday, July 24, 2017

2017 Sonoma County Farmers Markets

Are you visiting Sonoma County, CA and looking for something to do? Visiting the local farmers markets is one thing that should definitely be on your list! Known for it's agricultural bounty, in the summer, Sonoma is a wonderful place to find apples, berries, apricots, plums, and all sorts of delicious fruits. The fall brings an abundance of pumpkins, squash, melons, and grapes. 

In addition to the fruits and veggies found at the farmers markets in Sonoma, you can find other goodies like cupcakes and sausages. Flowers and coffee can also be purchased along with gifts.

Here are some local farmers markets going on in Sonoma this year:

Bodega Bay Community Farmers Market 
Sundays (Memorial Day-October): 10 a.m.-2 p.m., 2255 Highway 1 (behind the Community Center)

Cloverdale Community Market & Exchange
Tuesdays (April 4-Dec. 19, rain or shine): 3-6 p.m., 225 North Cloverdale Blvd. (in the empty lot next to Plank)

Cotati Community Farmers Market
Thursdays (June-August): 4:30-7:30 p.m., La Plaza Park (Old Redwood Highway and West Sierra Avenue)

Forestville Farmers Market
Tuesdays (June-October): 4-7 p.m., Forestville's new downtown park, 6990 Front St.

Healdsburg Farmers Market
Saturday (May-November): 8:30 a.m.-noon, West Plaza Parking Lot
Wednesday (June-October): 4-7 p.m., in the Cerri Lot on North Street between Grove and Foss streets
Kenwood Community Farmers Market
Sunday (June-September): 10 a.m.-2 p.m., St. Patricks Church, 9000 Sonoma Highway 12

Occidental Farmers Market 
Fridays (June-October): 4 p.m.-dusk, downtown Occidental

Petaluma East Side Farmers Market
Tuesdays (year-round), 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Lucchesi Park, 320 N. McDowell Blvd.

Petaluma Walnut Park Farmers Market
Saturdays (May 13-Nov. 18), 2-5:30 p.m., in Walnut Park, on the corner of D Street and Petaluma Boulevard

Petaluma Theatre District Farmers Market
Wednesdays (June 7-Aug. 30), 4:30-8 p.m., on 2nd Street between B and D Streets.

Rohnert Park Farmers Market
Fridays (June-August): 5-8 p.m., Rohnert Park Plaza, 500 City Center Drive (library parking lot)

Santa Rosa Farmers Market
Wednesdays (year-round): 9 a.m.-1 p.m., 1351 Maple Ave.
Saturdays (year-round): 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m., in the same location as the Wednesday market

Sebastopol Farm Market
Sundays (year-round): 10 a.m.-1:30 p.m., in Sebastopol Plaza on Weeks Way in downtown Sebastopol

Tuesdays (May-September): Valley of the Moon Certified Farmers Market, 5:30 p.m.-dusk, in front of and behind City Hall on the Sonoma Plaza

Fridays (Year-Round): Sonoma Valley Certified Farmers Market, 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m., in the Arnold Field parking lot at 241 First St. W.

The Springs Community Farmers Market
Sundays (July 9-Sept. 10): 4-7 p.m., Larson Park, 329 DeChene Ave., Boyes Hot Springs

Windsor Certified Farmers Market
Sundays (April to mid-December): 10 a.m.-1 p.m., on Windsor Town Green, 701 McClelland Dr.
Thursdays (mid-June through August): 5-8 p.m., same location as Sunday

Monday, July 17, 2017

The Best Way to Enjoy Canned Wine

If you're headed to the beach, on a picnic, on a boat, or camping, it may be difficult to lug around a bottle of wine and a couple wine glasses but luckily there's an easier option... cans of wine!

Drinking canned wine can mute the flavors of the wine so it's common for canned wine to contain residual sugar to make the wine taste fruitier. You may be hesitant that canned wine takes on the tinny taste of the can, but it does not. Just like other beverages that are served in a can, like soda and beer, the can does not affect the taste of the wine. One thing that does affect the taste is the way in which the canned wine is served. Due to the aroma being harder to smell, drinking the wine directly from the can isn't as good as when you pour it into a glass. It is best to serve canned wine chilled, in a glass, and right away as aging the wine does not improve it.

Canned wine comes in a few different sized cans, the most popular being:
• 500 ml can - containing 3.34 glasses of wine - 2/3 the size of a standard bottle
• 375 ml can - containing 2.5 glasses of wine - 1/2 the size of a standard bottle
• 50 ml can - containing 1.67 glasses of wine - 1/3 the size of a standard bottle

Monday, July 3, 2017

Wine Country Fireworks 2017

Independence Day is one of the best holidays that we celebrate in America and there's no better place to see beautiful fireworks than in wine country! Napa Valley and Sonoma County both provide some of the most amazing fireworks displays. Here are some places you can catch an awe-inspiring show at for the 4th of July:

Napa Valley
American Canyon
Veteran’s Park
Crane Park

Visit Legendary Napa Valley for more information.

Sonoma County
Weill Hall Green Music Center
Depot Hotel Restaurant and Garden

Visit Sonoma County California for more information.

And don't forget to celebrate with your favorite bottle of wine!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Pet Friendly Restaurants in Sonoma County

With the growing number of people taking their beloved pets on vacation with them these days it's no wonder more and more restaurants are allowing pets at their locations. This is great news for our best friends! Here are some restaurants in Sonoma County, California that allow you to share your lunch time with your furry loved ones.

Barndiva - "Barndiva grew out of our family's desire to celebrate the exquisite food sheds of Sonoma and Mendocino Counties from Healdsburg to the ocean, with special attention paid to following the breadcrumbs up Hwy 128 through the Anderson Valley to Philo, where we have dry farmed apples, figs and chestnuts on a ridge above the pacific for the past three decades."

Willi's Seafood & Raw Bar - "Located just north of the town square in downtown Healdsburg, the East Coast and South America meet Wine Country at Willi’s Sea­food & Raw Bar. The inviting vibrant decor and an exten­sive list of small plates combine with the eclectic seasonal cocktail menu and wide-ranging wine list to make visitors feel right at home. Designed for sharing, the menu features items ranging from New England Style “Rolls” and Latin-inspired skewers to ceviches and tar­tares. The chef’s raw bar features an ever-changing selection of fresh seafood, including at least eight varieties of fresh oysters."

Costeaux French Bakery & Cafe - "Costeaux is a full service bakery renowned for its world-class artisan and sourdough breads, cakes and desserts. Our bakery café in downtown Healdsburg serves made-to-order bistro cuisine and is open for breakfast and lunch daily. We are also available for private events in the evenings."

Sweet T's - "Welcome to our home away from home! Sweet T's is a labor of love from the Tussey family with food reminiscent of our Southern roots and our love for Sonoma County. Here, you will find quality southern cuisine, made with the freshest local ingredients. Real food. Great cocktails. Real people. Come and see us. You're always welcome."

For more restaurants in the Sonoma County click here!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Residual Sugar in Wine

"The subjective sweetness of a wine is determined by the interaction of several factors, including the amount of sugar in the wine, but also the relative levels of alcohol, acids, and tannins. Sugars and alcohol enhance a wine's sweetness; acids (sourness) and bitter tannins counteract it." - Wikipedia

Residual sugar refers to how much sugar is left in the wine after it is fermented. This amount tells you how sweet the wine is.

Commonly measured in grams or sugar per litre of wine, residual sugar is found in almost all wine, even dry wine because some types of sugar cannot be fermented. A wine that contains over 45 g/L is considered a sweet wine. Other aspects that influence the sweetness of wine include the acidity and alcohol levels, tannins, and whether it is a sparkling wine. If the level of acidity is high, a sweet wine may taste drier and if the level of alcohol is high, a dry wine may taste sweeter.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

At Home Palate Training Exercise

Your sense of taste is extremely important when tasting wine so here is an at home palate training exercise which will help you identify how you sense the tannin, acidity, sweetness, and alcohol in red wines.

What You'll Need:
• 1 bottle of dry red wine (avoid reds like Menage à Trois, Apothic Red and Jam Jar which contain Residual Sugar)
• 1 black tea bag
• 1/2 a lemon
• 1 tsp sugar
• 1 tsp vodka
• 4 identical wine glasses + one wineglass per person at the tasting
• a notepad and pen

Prepare the tasting:
Pour 3 oz of red wine in each of the 4 wine glasses. Add the tea bag to one glass, the 1/2 squeeze of lemon to the next glass, the sugar to the next glass, and the vodka to the last glass. Fill your own glass with red wine; it will act as your control glass.

Tannin - Black Tea Bag
In about 10 minutes, the black tea should dissolve at which point you can remove the bag. Taste the control wine first, then the black tea wine (without smelling it) and jot down what your taste and how it felt on your tongue. Tannin is usually bitter but you may also feel a drying sensation.

Acidity - Lemon
Taste your control wine, then taste the lemon win (without smelling it). With increases acidity, you may notice the lemon wine tastes less bold, your mouth may water, and more of the natural bitter notes may be presented. Try to ignore the lemony flavors since this is not a feature of acids in wine.

Sweetness - Sugar
Stir the sugar into your wine. After tasting your control wine, taste your sugar wine (you can smell it first). You should notice the sugar doesn't make the wine taste sweeter. Instead it brings out the fruit flavors of the wine and may add an oily texture to the aftertaste.

Alcohol - Vodka
Taste your control wine, then taste the vodka wine (without smelling it). Note what sensations you feel on your tongue and in the back of your throat when you swallow. Tiny prickles may be felt which makes the wine feel thicker. You may feel a hot sensation in the aftertaste.

Since everyone has different tastes and preferences, this exercise is meant to help you identify which aspects of wine you personally pick up on.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Larger Bottles of Wine

Whether having a party or wanting to give an impressive gift, a large bottle of wine can be perfect for a number of occasions. But where can you buy a large bottle of wine and what do you need to know?

Some stockists that offer a good range of larger bottles of wine include:

Larger bottles of wine not only look good on the table, they also age better. Because less of the wine's surface is exposed to air, the wine's rate of oxygen absorption is lower which makes the wine fresher. 

Wine does come in a variety of larger bottle sizes such as magnums and jeroboams. However, some larger wine bottles may refer to different size bottles depending on different regions of France. The chart below shows the large format bottlings that are commonly referred to:

The Burgundy terminology tends to be more popularly followed.

Generally made for special events, the largest bottles of wine (a lot of which are named after Biblical kings) are not intended for the cellar since they have custom made corks that are also extra large and must be cut by hand which can be prone to air leakage.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Pet Friendly Restaurants in Napa Valley

Your dog is not just your pet, they are part of your family. It's becoming more and more common for people to bring their pets on vacation with them. But what do you do with your pet when you visit a restaurant in Napa Valley? If you visit one of the restaurants below, you bring your furry family member along!

Angèle Restaurant & Bar - "We are a French country restaurant and bar offering refined bistro fare, wine and cocktails on the Napa riverfront in the heart of downtown Napa. Our dining room, located in the historic 1890's ship chandlery now known as the Hatt Building, evokes the simple romance of the classic French brasserie, while our riverfront patio celebrates the region's temperate climate and relaxed atmosphere."

Downtown Joe’s Brewery & Restaurant - "An American style grill united with quality and freshness. Our menu is locally resourced then cooked with the flair that is true Napa Valley. We proudly feature salads, burgers, sandwiches, seafood, steaks, decadent house made desserts, and more modern pub grub."

Fumé Bistro and Bar - "Great food, seasonally inspired menus straight from the farmer's market and regional growers, personal service, and a friendly, welcoming atmosphere. "We build strong ties with local growers and producers of only the freshest produce, meats, cheeses and wines. Our menu, and the friendly welcome you receive when you enter our dining room, reflect my passion for delivering the very best experience to every customer, every night." -Chef Terry Letson"

Gott’s Roadside - "For anyone who craves delicious, high-quality fare in a welcoming, down-to-earth spot, Gott’s Roadside is a tried-and-true local favorite. We serve juicy cheeseburgers, great hot dogs, incredible onion rings and hand-spun shakes alongside crispy Ahi Poke tacos, Chinese chicken salad, and a renowned Ahi burger—try finding those at your average drive-in—but our versions of these American roadside favorites and California classics are made-to-order using fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Our commitment to local sourcing also extends to the glass: our California-centric list of wines and beers means you can order a Point Reyes Blue Cheese Burger with a high-end Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, or sip a San Francisco-brewed Anchor Steam beer alongside your spicy, sweet potato fries. At Gott’s Roadside every detail matters and nothing is ever ordinary."

For more restaurants in the Napa Valley click here!

Monday, May 22, 2017

What to do in Sonoma County

Sonoma County, California is home to over 425 wineries, amazing redwood forests, and miles of beautiful coastline. It is close to San Francisco which makes it a great vacation spot. Visiting the gorgeous wineries is on the top of our to-do list, but there are a lot of other great activities available for those who love adventure, or just want to relax.

Some activities include:

Regional Parks
Wildlife Tours
Zip Lining
Horseback Riding

To see our full list of Napa Valley Activities, along with businesses that offer these activities, click here!