Wine Trivia Time

As we enter into the fall season when the days get shorter and the sun sets a bit sooner every day, I think of things to do indoors.  I am a trivia “geek”- love to learn new facts whether they are pertinent to my life at the moment or not. I am constantly trying to gain new knowledge, especially as it pertains to wine.  So, to help me, I will offer my followers some wine trivia.  We will start out easy…promise!  Play along and test yourself! No cheating! 🙂


Match these grape varietals to their wine style.

Easy level:

  1. Chardonnay-                                    red?        white?
  2. Pinot Noir       –                                red?        white?
  3. Grenache-                                         red?        white?
  4. Riesling-                                            red?        white?
  5. Sauvignon Blanc-                            red?         white?
  6. Cabernet Franc-                              red?         white?
  7. Merlot-                                              red?         white?
  8. Pinot Blanc-                                     red?         white?
  9. Cabernet Sauvignon-                     red?          white?
  10. Zinfandel-                                        red?          white?        Too easy? Let’s ramp it up a bit.

Moderate level:

  1. Pinot Meunier-                              red?          white?
  2. Roussanne-                                    red?          white?
  3. Shiraz-                                            red?          white?
  4. Chenin Blanc-                               red?          white?
  5. Mourvèdre-                                   red?          white?
  6. Sangiovese-                                   red?          white?
  7. Viognier-                                        red?          white?
  8. Cortese-                                          red?         white?
  9. Carignan-                                       red?          white?
  10. Petit Verdot-                                 red?          white?           Not hard enough?

Difficult level:

  1. Picpoul-                                         red?          white?
  2. Malagouzia-                                 red?           white?
  3. Zweigelt-                                       red?           white?
  4. Dornfelder-                                  red?           white?
  5. Mazuelo-                                       red?           white?
  6. Cannonau-                                    red?           white?
  7. Loureiro-                                      red?            white?
  8. Parallada-                                     red?            white?
  9. Corvina-                                        red?            white?
  10. Pais-                                               red?            white?

How did you do?  Take your learning to a new level by researching where these grapes are grown and what their flavor profile is like…who knows, you may find a new favorite!



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Restructuring or Rebranding?

Sometimes a business is in need of a “facelift”. I know this to be true as I have been struggling for 6 months trying to decide the “what” and “how” of it all. I appreciate the patience of my followers. Here’s to some new content and helpful, interesting new wine information. Cheers!

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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


 Spring is right around the corner! 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 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

Posted in #Charente, #Charente-Maritime, #Cognac, #France, #Pineau des Charentes, #Wine Education, #Wine Events | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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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