Vive la Frenchie! Support ASPCA

  To all wine and animal lovers…during the entire month of April, the Boisset Collection will donate $2.00 for every bottle of Frenchie wine sold to the ASPCA!  This is an amazing way to support a fantastic organization, enjoy delicious, exclusive wines, and celebrate your four-legged friends! Frenchie wines are beautiful blends…smooth, lush reds and refreshing, balanced whites…easy to pair with food or simply sip and enjoy!

Please visit – – if you are interested in placing an order and contributing to the cause.

The Frenchie Winery is an extension of Raymond Vineyards.  “Instead of feeling guilty about leaving your 4-legged family member in the car, bring them to Frenchie Winery! Here they will enjoy the lavish Napa Valley lifestyle in the comfort of their own outdoor, shady dog suite, complete with their very own wine barrel bed.” Wine lovers can be assured their pets will be well cared for while they visit the tasting room at Raymond!

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Easter Wine Pairings


It is hard to believe how quickly time passes.  It seems as if we were just celebrating the Christmas season!  Spring is right around the corner and so is Easter.  After Thanksgiving and Christmas, Easter is a big family gathering food feast! What wine goes best with those Easter brunch and dinner dishes? Let me offer a few suggestions for both meals and help get your planning off to a fabulous start!


Brunch has so many options to pair with wine.  From simple eggs or fancy omelettes, bacon and sausage, waffles or pancakes, crab cakes, roasted meats, fresh fruits, salads, quiche, chilled shrimp or crab legs…the menu is endless!  I tend to prefer pairing brunch foods with a chilled glass of sparkling wine- champagne, Cava, or Prosecco…”brut” style- helps refresh the palate- whether by itself or in a tempting “mimosa”.  Sparkling wines compliment just about any food, so pop those bubbles and enjoy!  These effervescent gems can be poured from brunch on through dinner, no problem. So the pairing is complete, right?  Not even close!!!  If you are a wine lover, but not too keen on bubbles, let me offer you some alternatives that will make you and your Easter guests quite happy at any meal .

collage-2017-02-271Easter lunch/dinner is usually steeped in tradition when it comes to food.  Roasted turkey, baked ham, roasted leg of lamb, beef tenderloin, and roasted pork loin come to mind when I think of the star of the meal. Every family has their favorite…mine is a garlic stuffed, roasted leg of lamb with fresh rosemary and a beautiful wine reduction sauce!

Here are some brunch/lunch/dinner wine options that you can find and order from my website:

These are my recommendations: Wattle Creek Sauvignon Blanc, Frenchie Betsy Ross White Blend, DeLoach Rosé of Pinot (brunch), Noir, JCB No 12 Pinot Noir, Buena Vista Private Reserve Pinot Noir (Lunch, turkey, pork), Raymond Forgotten Vines Zinfandel, (baked ham),Wattle Creek Cabernet-Shiraz (beef tenderloin, grilled ham), Buena Vista Late Harvest Viognier (fruit desserts, fruit tarts)

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IBM’s Chef Watson- Wine and Chocolate Truffle Pairing

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Last night I had the pleasure of working at an IBM sponsored event at Bin 36 in Chicago. “The product helps professionals across industries solve complex problems and reveal insights from large amounts of data.” (IBM) The component being highlighted (that I participated in) is called IBM Chef Watson- “a program that, using natural language processing, analyzes thousands of recipes to understand what flavor pairings work well together, creating “quintillions” of recipes at your fingertips.” They organizers worked with a chocolate maker in New York. They handcrafted 3 chocolate truffles using Chef Watson. Wines were paired with each truffle…a pleasure sensation in the mouth!! Here are the combinations of truffles and wine that I described for the guests at the reception. (All of the truffles were enrobed in dark chocolate)


Strawberry/Cranberry Truffle – Louis de Grenelle Crémant de Loire, Saumur, Loire Valley, France- sparkling brut Rosé made from 100% Cabernet Franc – juicy, bright red fruits, strawberry and a touch of floral notes
Lemon /Caramel/ Earl Grey Truffle- Malagouzia from Alpha Estate,, Turtles Vineyard, Florina, Greece -a beautiful white wine from the northwestern mountain region of Macedonia- beautiful floral aromas that lead to citrus, crisp acidity and a well balanced finish
Brown Ale/ Greek Yogurt/ Espresso/ Lime Truffle- Domaine de Pellehaut , Côtes de Gascogne, France- Ugni Blanc, Gros Manseng, Colombard blend made in a traditional terroir-based style…simply divine with the unique combination in the last truffle.
It was fun to see the reactions on the guests faces when they tasted the two together!
A unique experience!! Try it yourself…


 Once you find recipes you want to explore, go to my website: and find your perfect wine pairing!

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Cognac- Bin 36 Class with Alexandre LeClerq from Maison Maxine Trijol



Cognac, named after the town of Cognac, France, is a variety of brandy. It is produced in the wine-growing region surrounding the town from which it takes its name, in the French Departements of Charente and Charente-Maritime.

For a brandy to bear the name Cognac, an Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée, its production methods must meet certain legal requirements. In particular, it must be made from specified grapes of which Ugni Blanc, known locally as Saint-Emilion, is the one most widely used. The brandy must be twice distilled in copper pot stills

(Charentais still- see image below)

and aged at least two years in French oak barrels from Limousin or Tronçais. Cognac matures in the same way as whiskies and wine when aged in barrels, and most cognacs are aged considerably longer than the minimum legal requirement.  (#WIKIPEDIA)

In spite of having spent time in the Charente-Maritime, located in the Petite Champagne region for Cognac, I must admit cognac was difficult for me to appreciate.  I prefer the friendlier Pineau des Charentes which is delightful, both the “blanc” and the “rosé / rouge”. I was excited NOT to be teaching this class, but to be the student.  I learned quite a bit from Alexandre from Maison Maxime Trijol.  By the end of the class I was totally enamored with this kingly brandy!  Maxime Trijol is an independent family owned cognac house which dates back to 1859.  By some standards they are quite large- owning/using 22 Charentais stills each holding 660 gallons!  That is a considerable amount of liquid gold!! Here is a cognac aroma wheel- beautiful notes evolve in each glass… a sensory explosion!


Some pictures from our evening at Bin 36

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 Probably the most important bit of information given was to “forget everything you know about wine tasting”…it is different with cognac.  Words of wisdom that held true.  Once I “chewed” the cognac in my mouth a couple of times- preparing my mouth, taste buds, etc…I was able to sip and ENJOY the rich, silky smoothness of the cognac.  I am so thrilled!  Next time I am “home” in the Charente-Maritime I will surprise my families…I will partake in a small glass of cognac with pleasure!  I could go into the technical, traditional, two -stage method (1936 Decree) for production, but will give you a site to read the details for yourself. Take the time to learn about cognac…learn to savor and enjoy.  Cheers! or

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Wine Wednesday Women into Wine 2017

Syrah or Shiraz…what do you call this beautiful red wine?

This was the varietal we studied to kick off 2017.  We were supposed to take a look at Syrah back in November, but due to illness, work schedules, etc…we postponed our study group until January. Our group was still missing a couple women, but for those present we had an outstanding night.  We decided to just meet once a month for now.  Winter makes it more difficult to get together. February will find us delving into Grenache/Garnacha…sticking with reds while it is cold outside.

Our wines tonight showcased both old and new world styles and flavor profiles, coming from Australia, California, and France. Each was from the 2013 vintage, which made the tasting even better as we could make a true comparison.  Yes, I know, the Aussie Shiraz is technically a bit older, but we are counted them as being from the same year.  Our wines were deliciously paired with venison sausage and peppers!! The best part of the entire evening was the evolution of the wines from our start time of 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm…major flavor and aroma changes happening as the night progressed.


Big thanks go out to Wine Folly, the creators of marvelous learning tools for wine lovers and wine students!  The graphics, data, and content keep us in the know.  We loved the Old World- New World breakdowns.  Typically we go through our tasting grid on our own, then we “cheat” a bit and look for what we find in the materials.  We are always happy when we have detected the signature profile aromas and flavors!!

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While we know the winemaker and the tech sheets may state certain aromas and flavors found in each particular wine, we also understand that each person perceives these things differently.  The beauty of our study group is that we each have strengths when detecting monikers for wines…it allows for harmony, learning, and pure enjoyment.

Wine #1  De-Là, Domaine Gilles Troullier, France, Roussillon, Côtes Catalanes    Fresh earth was what I picked up on right off the bat.  As the wine opened up, we detected smoke, leather, dark berry fruit, and some pepper.

Wine #2  6th Sense, Micheal David, Lodi, California     Most noticeable fruit aromas- dark ripe blueberry- like pie filling- on the nose of the three, some spice. As this one evolved, we began noticing spice, oak, and again some peppery notes.

Wine #3  Shot-Fire, Thorn-Clarke, Australia, Barossa   We felt this was the “greenest” of the three wines, detecting herbal notes, thyme in particular. The fruit came out a bit more with time in the glass, but Shot-Fire remained vegetal/herbal even after an hour or so.

Conclusion:  we loved them all!!  This is not always the case when we study our varietals.  Sometimes we find 1 or two that are lacking in complexity or are just “off”.  Not with this trio- great wines, good contrasts, all “90+” in our humble opinions!

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Circle of Boisset Wine Club

Are you a wine lover?  Have you ever been to Napa and/or Sonoma?  When was the last time? Thinking about joining a wine club? I just may have the answer for you…the Circle of Boisset!  Let me bring the winery to you! Contact me at or go directly to my website:

May you wine journey begin soon!!


I invite you to join the Circle of Boisset Wine Club! It would be an honor to welcome you to our family of
families—a collection of award-winning estate wineries from Boisset. This exciting program is different from other wine clubs because the Circle of Boisset gives you discounts and access to FOUR different estate wineries in one wine club, plus an ongoing discount on all purchases offered through the Boisset Ambassador Program. Each Circle of Boisset shipment includes three pre-selected bottles of our most sought-after wines from a featured winery four times per year:
February Shipment: RAYMOND VINEYARDS
Recently awarded Winery of the Year by Wine Enthusiast, Raymond
Vineyards in Napa Valley is known for bold Cabernet Sauvignons,
structured Merlots, rich Chardonnays and crisp Sauvignon Blancs.
May Shipment:  DELOACH VINEYARDS   deloachlogo_325_262
DeLoach is a certified organic estate winery in the Russian River Valley
area of Sonoma County and is known for award-winning Pinot Noirs,
Zinfandels, Chardonnays and single-vineyard estate selections.
August Shipment: BUENA VISTA WINERY    bvlogogradientcrest800px_325_147
California’s first premium winery in California located in Sonoma Valley
was purchased by the Boisset family in 2011 and has undergone careful
restoration of the historic buildings and champagne caves. Buena Vista
wines include hand-crafted Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Merlot, Chardonnay and
Red Blends.
November Shipment: JCB WINES        01-jcb_logo_gold-web-170
A limited collection of fine wines by Jean-Charles Boisset, each of
these special Chardonnays, Pinot Noirs, Rosés and Sparkling Wines are
designated by a number representing a special milestone in his life.
**Each shipment contains wine tasting notes as well as wine and food pairing suggestions or recipes. The cost for each shipment varies slightly depending on which wines are included, ranging from $80 to $120 before applicable taxes and discounted shipping. Please note that by federal law, an adult signature is required on all shipments and that members will be responsible for any additional charges from undeliverable items. We recommend having your shipment sent to a business address to avoid problems with missing shipment delivery.
As a Circle of Boisset Wine Club member you are entitled to the following benefits:
•20% savings on California wine, merchandise and by-appointment experiences at our wineries
•30% savings when you reorder shipment wines for up to 45 days after the shipment
•Complimentary tastings for up to four people at our wineries
•Tour options and experiences at each of our properties
•Exclusive invites to events at our wineries and throughout the United States
•20% savings on all orders placed online through my Ambassador’s website:
•20% discount on in-home wine tasting experiences and wine flights
•Special savings on shipping and other member-only offers
* Please note it is very important to notify us regarding any changes to delivery information or credit card updates by contacting me or by emailing or calling (855) 233-5155 X2.
Let’s get you enrolled and have your first shipment arrive before the holidays!!  Cheers!
CANCELLATION:Minimum membership requirement is two shipments. After that commitment is met, membership maybe canceled in writing at any time without further obligation except for wines shipped prior to receipt of cancellation
notice. Your wines will arrive automatically unless you contact us regarding your membership.


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Pairing Wine with Vegetarian/Vegan Cuisine

How exciting to share my passion for wine and love of teaching to the incredible customers of Bin 36!  Located in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood, this restaurant / wine bar is a true gem.  Owner Enoch Shully has a gift for selecting unique, exceptional wines for his wine list and wine flights.  It is an honor to work with him!

October’s class was devoted to pairing wine with vegetarian and vegan cuisine. As I am an omnivore (with greater carnivore preferences), this was really an eye-opening experience.  The best way to sum up what I took from my research was that it isn’t really about the vegetables and grains so much as it is in the cooking methods, spices, seasonings, heat, sweetness level, and predominance of a “main” ingredient of the dishes. The class consisted of mixed couples- vegetarian/vegan with meat eating spouses. Our food pairings were spot on with the wines. Here was our menu for the evening.

We began with one of my personal favorite blends- Ugni Blanc, Colombard, and Gros Manseng from Domaine de Pellehaut, Côtes de Gascogne 2015. Stainless steel fermentation helps retain the tropical fruitiness and bright acidity. We picked up some minor herbaceous notes, making this the ideal partner for the roasted cauliflower steaks with white bean purée.   Next up, an outstanding Verdicchio from Casalfarneto, Fontevecchia Classico Superiore 2013 from La Marche, Italy.  Racy, lemon-lime, cut grass notes with great minerality.  The wine is fermented in small clay vessels to concentrate the fruit…a unique method that produced a heavenly wine! Brussels sprouts, superbly roasted, with a creamy caper dressing complimented the Verdicchio to a “T”!

Domaine de Pellehaut Harmonie de Gascogne Blanc, IGP Cotes de Gascogne, France label                                                                                                      reds from  Bulgaria and Spain then followed.  What finds!  The third wine I presented to the class was a reserve Cabernet Sauvignon from Trakia Manastira Wine Cellars in southern Bulgaria.  This beauty spent 4 months in stainless steel, then another 12 months in new, untoasted, French oak…something I had never personally tasted in my red wine adventures. Red berries and a bit of vanilla on the palate, with soft tannins that worked wonderfully with the spiced carrots Chef Shane served to my guests.  The group appreciated this Cabernet and expressed interest in trying more Bulgarian wines. Lastly, we headed to the region of Almansa, Spain for a Garnacha/Monastrell red blend…Bodegas Atalaya’s Laya was a delicious end to our class! Plump, round, earthy, with good minerality, hints of smoke…enthusiastically enjoyed with a wild mushroom farrato…divine!  The best part of the class were the comments from the “non-white wine” drinkers who loved the whites and from the meat eaters stating they could definitely see how the dishes, as they were  prepared, could satisfy them without any proteins included.  They seemed eager to take what they learned and apply it to future meals prepared together.

Lovely people, a beautiful evening…cheers!


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