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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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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Thanksgiving – Let the Holiday Season Begin!


Can you believe how quickly this year has passed?  It seems like we were just ringing in 2016…yet we are just weeks away from 2017. How will you describe this year?  It has definitely been a wild, emotional ride.

Since several people have started asking me for suggestions, I decided to post some Thanksgiving food/wine pairing options. Your personal favorite is always a good bet, but there are some “safe” choices that work well with traditional Thanksgiving (holiday) foods. Look outside the “bottle” and explore! Here are a few helpful tips to keep in mind when pairing your food and wine.

Cooking method: How you prepare the food matters! Roasting deepens flavors in meats and brings out natural sweetness in vegetables.  Grilling will add a smokiness to your food.  Sautéing keeps foods light and fresh.

Seasoning/Sauces/Herbs/Sweetness/Spice (heat): When pairing wine with seasonings and sauces, the name of the game is balance!  (Acidity vs. sweetness // fat vs. tannins.) Experiment and find flavors that work together.  Keep in mind that “heat” and higher alcohol wines do not play nicely together…opt for a lower alcohol, off-dry style instead. No need for a food riot in your mouth!

Weight and texture: With both food and drinks, finding harmony in the textures of the dishes and the weight of the wine/food will help everything meld together.  Contrasting or complimenting  helps them enhance one another, bring out the best in both.


I realize our “traditional” Thanksgiving feasts vary from family to family.  I am offering the mere basic of pairings and reasons why they work together. You may have found different pairings based on your own preferences…that is the beauty of wine… there is something for everyone!!! Extra tip: with white wines the pairing priority is finding a wine with well-balanced acidity, with reds you should opt for lighter, milder tannins that will yield to and support the flavors of the food. Let’s start pairing!

Sparkling Wines: Nothing says “celebration” better than bubbles!  Sparkling wines (Spanish Cava, Italian Prosecco, French Champagne, etc….) have by nature good amounts of acidity which helps when pairing with food.  Bubbles go with everything!  Tart and effervescent, a bubbly will cut through fatty, salty, savory, or sweet flavors, all which make up ther dishes found on any Thanksgiving table. From “brut” to “extra dry”- which is a little bit fruitier, your guests will enjoy the festiveness brought by these wines.

Riesling: From bone dry or fairly sweet, excellent with any dish that is spicy, salty or sweet, Riesling wines are an outstanding for pairing with Thanksgiving dinner. Riesling’s innate flavors of apple, apricot, honey and its noticeable acidity make it a perfect foil for the likes of sweet potatoes, turkey meat and spice-laden or herb-filled stuffing.

Pinot Grigio: A lovely, white wine that can handle garlic and onions, herbs and rich, flavorful, high-fat dishes, making it a natural choice for the Thanksgiving table.

Gewurtztraminer: This white wine delivers an aromatic punch and spicy palate that works beautifully with turkey and gravy, bringing out the best in both. (You don’t have to be able to pronounce it to enjoy it!)

Albarino and Viognier: Want to reach out of your comfort zone? Try one of these! They offer the perfect opportunity to liven up your Thanksgiving meal and provide an international feel, while still maintaining perfect pairing power.

Sauvignon Blanc: Citrusy and herbaceous, with good minerality makes it a delightful pairing partner for turkey and mashed potatoes. It is also a great match for many vegetable side dishes like Brussel sprouts ans asparagus.

On to the reds…

Pinot Noir: My personal favorite red for Thanksgiving.  I love the earthy, “mushroomy”  flavors found along with the bright cherry, red fruit notes. It works so well with roasted  turkey and and savory stuffing.  These are two of the best parts of the dinner in my opinion- the turkey and stuffing- so pairing it with my favorite red varietal makes me smile!

Gamay:: The Gamay grape is the star in the Beaujolais wines…from the Beaujolais Nouveau to the Beaujolais Cru. The wines range from light and fruity to complex. This lovely little grape makes wines that go quite well with turkey and all of the fixings. Check out the Beaujolais Nouveau wines which will be released from France next week (always the third Thursday of November), just in time for Thanksgiving!

Zinfandel: A fuller bodied red wine, with big fruit and intensity, is able to keep the needed balance with many traditional Thanksgiving side dishes. When Pinot Noir and Gamay just aren’t “big” enough for some of your guests, this is a great wine choice for those who prefer those spicy, bitter and sweet flavor profiles. Zinfandel is a lovely partner for ham as well!!

Syrah/ Shiraz: Another big, almost meaty, red, can work well with the abundance of flavors found in your Thanksgiving meal. Its complexity, its spicy, peppery notes pair nicely with the herbal, savory stuffing as well as the white and dark turkey meat. Not a real turkey fan, Syrah is an amazing partner for lamb and beef.

Rosé:  As with sparkling wines, Rosé provides a a great alternative that can go from start to finish with the meal. Dry Rosé offers the best pairing and is an excellent value.  The possibilities are many when talking Rosé… so try a Rosé of Pinot Noir or Sangiovese…or perhaps one from Provence.  Remember, Rosé isn’t just for summer!

What is a holiday meal without dessert? This is one area where I usually do not participate in…I am not, I repeat, not a pie person.  I know, weird, but that’s just how it is! That being said, when pairing pie and wine a few combinations come to mind.

Port: That decadent, sublime wine from Portugal works beautifully with the sweet spices in pumpkin pie and gooey, lush pecan pie. I have often brought a late harvest wine- Riesling or Gewurtztraminer- to my family’s holiday gatherings. They offer decadent, honey flavors to desserts. It is the sweetness and the viscosity found in both fortified and late harvest wines that are needed to balance the richness/spiciness of pumpkin pie as well as caramel notes found in pecan pie.

With whatever you choose to grace your table, at Thanksgiving or even Christmas…yes, I said it, I wish you and yours a very happy, safe, peaceful holiday season.  Cheers!


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Wine Wednesday Women into Wine Study Group Update

This year seems to be flying by!  I can’t believe Thanksgiving is just around the corner.  Our wine study group has had some fantastic sessions. We took advantage of a warm September evening to tackle Rosé and to welcome a new member, Stephanie.  She brings over 15 years of wine industry experience in the area of marketing/brand development.  She is also an old neighbor and classmate of Paula and I!

The goal was to select Rosés from single varietals.  We sat out on the deck, tasting, talking, sharing…and discussing more than studying, but it was still a beautiful night!  We even had a small birthday celebration thrown in the night’s activities.

These were our wines: Broken Earth Rosé of Grenache, California; Charles Smith Rosé of Sangiovese, Washington; and Liquid Farm Rosé of Mourvèdre, Santa Barbara, CA.

Each one paired well with most of our food pairings, some better than others, but for the most part they were all delightful and so different.

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October rolled in and found us learning about Cabernet Franc.  We again welcomed a new member to our group, Natalie, a young women who recently passed her Court of Master Sommelier Level 1 exam and who is a wine rep for a small distributor. What I appreciate most is the diversity of our knowledge base!  We come from such different realms of the wine world, but it is our passion that ties us together.

Our tasting of Cabernet Franc was amazing!  Used more often as a blending grape, we were able to find these single varietal treasures that took us from the Loire Valley in France, to Oregon, to the Seneca Lake area of New York. Such different terroirs… but all showing the basic Cabernet Franc profile in some way.

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We find ourselves entering into the busiest time of year in the wine world.  We meet in a few days to delve into Syrah, then again at the end of November for our study of bubbles…Champagne, Prosecco, Cava, and domestic sparklings.  This will be our final session of 2016 and also our  holiday celebration!  I will get our finding out in December!  Cheers

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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

I work for a wonderful company!  For the entire month of October, Boisset will be donating $2.00 per bottle from any rosé in our collection!  Message me ( if you wish to help the cause!  We have several options available… from still to sparkling. Since my mother is a survivor, this is near and dear to my heart. You will be doubly rewarded…great wine and a sense of helping others…how can you go wrong?

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BIN 36 Presents- Alceo Wines Dinner

An evening to remember… Bin 36 Owner, Enoch Shully, Brian Duncan, Founder at Down To Earth Wine Concepts LLC, and the Direttore Commerciale of Priduttori Vini Manduria- Giovanni, created an outstanding wine paired dinner that highlighted the wines from Puglia, Italy with the artistry of Chef Shane!  The results were magical.


**I love Wine Folly’s wine region maps.  The bottom right, green corner is Puglia…known for its wines made from the grapes Negroamaro, Primitivo, Malvasia Nera, Uva di Troia, and Chardonnay.  Our 4 course meal featured several of these varietals…all were perfectly paired with tantalizing dishes.  Check out the menu below.


Brian Duncan greeted us with a glass of 2014 Malvasia/Chardonnay/Verdeca, Alceo Salento Bianco.  We sipped this refreshing white with some antipasti – lovely charcuterie and cheeses before being seated for our first course.  Grilled calamari with cherry tomatoes, Calabrian chili, lemon, and fresh herbs…zesty, a hint of spice,and quite light.  The Salento Bianco was carried through to this course, and it brought out the flavors beautifully.

Our second course featured red and green kale, smoked onions- everyone at my table’s favorite component- sweet 100 tomatoes with a poppy vinaigrette. The smokiness of the onions made this dish!  I reveled in the 2015 Negroamaro Alceo Salento Rosato!!  Being a huge rosé wine lover, this was perfect.  The Rosato attains a brilliant, almost coppery orange hue, even though the maceration period is only about 5-7 hrs, then the skins are separated quickly from the must. I was in heaven!


Next on the menu was cider braised lamb neck with Geechie Bay grits, wild mushrooms, and “first of fall” apples.  I am a lamb lover and have never thought to pair it with apples… but it worked.  We sipped on the 2013 Alceo Primitivo Di Manduria and the 2014 Alceo Salento Negroamaro.  Both delicious, both extremely smooth, both hearty enough to stand up to the mushrooms and lamb… I can see why these are the top reds from Puglia.


Finally, dessert-ahhhh!  A scrumptious chocolate Pave- flourless, chocolate cake, fudgsicle, caramelized cherry, cocoa nib soil…a chocolate lover’s Nirvana!  The powerhouse, full bodied wines we delighted in made the end of the meal We indulged in the 2014 Neama Salento Negroamaro and the 2013 Lirica Primitivo Di Manduria…similar wines as our third course, but they are considered the “higher end” wines, more elevated, the “cream of the crop” so to speak!  That they were indeed.

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Listening to Giovanni describe all of these wines made me wish I could hop on a plane to Puglia and meander through the vineyards, soaking in the sights, smells, and of course, tastes.  Next time you are wanting to break away from your “go to” wines, try a few of these varietals from Puglia.  Cheers!

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