Thursday, October 29, 2009

WinewomenPSP at Desert Woman's Show

Visit us at booth 202 at this weekend's Desert Woman's Show at the Renaissance Esmeralda Resort and Spa. We're planning plenty of fun and show specials: Hand-crafted, original sterling silver and genuine Swarovski crystal wine charms.

We have eight colors to match your wine taste, or not. Heck, they're so gorgeous, you'll want to convert these wine charms to earrings or wear them as pendants. Find your fancy in champagne, rosé, pinot noir, bordeaux, malbec and more. At only $12 for one or two for $20 tax-inclusive, you can delight all the wine lovers on your holiday gift list.

After you visit the food and wine pavilion, visit our booth to try out our new WinewomenPSP logo wine aerators. Not only will they smooth out any rough spots in your wine, they'll also instantly aerate your wines to make them ready to enjoy as soon as you can pour. Can you drink to that? We thought so, too. Besides, they're so pretty on their cork-bottomed bases that you'll want to display them at home. Each aerator is dishwasher safe and comes with its own travel pouch so you can take it with you to restaurants or parties. You won't want to leave home without your wine friend.

WinewomenPSP member price is only $40 each ($45 for non-members) but don't forget: When you renew your membership, this logo aerator is your free 2nd anniversary gift! If you're not a member, sign up at the show for two years and you'll not only get your gorgeous wine bottle necklace welcome gift, you'll also receive your logo aerator. Make it your Halloween - Holiday combo!

Also, don't forget to pick up event flyers and sign up for our two faboo November events. Come to our first South African wine safari at Miramonte's Piazza on Thursday, November 12th. Chef Nyerick will prepare irresistible nibbles paired to each of the five exotic wines. On Friday, November 20th, we'll be treated to Executive Chef Brian Recor's debut at the new Morgans in the Desert at La Quinta Resort and Club. Join us to welcome back the former Rattlesnake chef de cuisine for a sneak preview wine dinner at what's sure to become La Quinta's culinary beacon.

We'll be at Esmeralda's Emerald Ballroom from 10 AM until 5 PM Saturday and Sunday. See you at the show!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

SanTásti to the Rescue

Plenty of good juice flowed at yesterday's Pacific Wine and Spirits fall tasting. Agua Caliente chefs Jim and Mike kept tummies sated with tasty and filling pasta specialties, baked brie and other goodies. After all, representatives from the restaurant and wine trade needed a bit of sustenance to do their jobs: Taste and discover wines to match their establishments and put smiles on patrons' faces.

With so many wines to taste, it can be tough to keep a clean palate for every new wine you try. Sparkling water, crackers and bread just don't seem to do the trick. After a few wines, palate fatigue sets in and before long, you can lose the ability to judge a wine on its merits. Big reds or tannic wines pummel even the most experienced palates. Besides, once you start sampling red wines, how do you go back to try the Riesling you missed or the Dom Perignon someone just opened? We needed a bottle of SanTásti.

We'd ordered a free sample of SanTásti last month to test the company's claims that their palate-cleansing beverage erases the taste of wines or other strong beverages from your palate. Sound like a gimmick? Yes, but in practice, hardly. We gave it a try in a tasting experiment with 15 ladies with no agenda one way or another. They all agreed: It really works.

SanTásti works by scrubbing your palate of mouth-clinging flavors of wine, coffee, intensely-flavored foods – even beer. Tiny bubbles work their magic to lift tannins and neutralize lingering aftertastes so you're ready to taste anew.

Two Cal Poly Wine and Viticulture graduates who founded the company in 2008 created the colorless and virtually tasteless liquid. Their beverage is made from natural ingredients with only 10 calories per 355 ml bottle. Recently, they buffed their line with two new flavors, peppermint and cinnamint, alongside the nearly flavorless "classic."

We'd like to see more SanTásti on hand at tasting venues and for sale at wine outlets. Look or ask for it at your local wine shop and then let us know what you think. You'll find it conveniently packaged in glass screw-capped 12-ounce bottles so you can share, and taste more, with friends. We might just take a bottle along to our next tasting. After all, a wine taste is a terrible thing to waste.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Brand Loyalty: The Wines of d'Arenberg

The question students always ask at wine classes we give at 60 Minute University is: What wine brands are worth trying?

Wine brands you'll prefer are, like all wine enjoyment, a matter of personal taste. Once you get to know a winery or brand that resonates with your palate and pocketbook, reliable wine pleasure will be yours anytime. Sure, it's fun to try exotic bottlings or wines from small producers, but knowing a go-to brand you like and can readily find saves time and money when shopping or planning a get-together.

One example of consistency across the brand is d'Arenberg. The South Australian winery offers wine lovers an exceptionally deep and wide wine portfolio spanning value to premium pricing. The multi-generational winery is situated south of Adelaide in McLaren Vale, a region blessed by a Mediterranean climate. d'Arenberg offers remarkable range in its varietal wines and blends. They also make bubblies and dessert wines, which Aussies call stickies.

Iconic McLaren Vale Shiraz are powerful, structured wines with deep purple color and intense flavors of dark-berried fruit, spice and anywhere from a hint to a dollop of chocolate-raspberry. With a rounded, smooth mouthfeel and soft yet chewy tannins, these wines have food appeal that goes beyond steak to less muscular dishes such as fish prepared with savory or bold sauces.

You'll find d'Arenberg wines at local wine shops and on wine lists around town. Palm Desert's Pacifica offers The Footbolt 2005 Shiraz with their flavorful seafood choices. With a whiff of violet on the nose, the wine showed lively earthiness layered by silky tannins and food-friendly acidity. For a splurge, other fine restaurants in town carry d'Arenberg's flagship old-vines Shiraz, The Dead Arm. Look for the rolling red carpet diagonal red stripe and coat of arms on the label.

Like other McLaren Vale wineries, d'Arenberg also produces wines made from other grapes associated with France's Rhône Valley, including Grenache, Viognier and Rousanne. Hmm, wonder if we can try them all?

We're scoping out two d'Arenberg wines for holiday dinner: Hermit Crab 2008 Viognier-Rousanne blend and The Custodian 2006 made from 100% Grenache. Once we try them, we'll report back with prices and where you can find them.

Here are a few other easy-to-find and reliable brands you may want to try.

Washington: Chateau St. Michelle, Hogue
Oregon: A to Z Wineworks, Eyrie
California: Byron, Sterling
Chile: Viña Montes, Viña Cono Sur
France: Vignerons de Caractère, Perrin & Fils

To read more, check out Wine & Spirits Magazine 45 top value brands of the year, from the June 2009 print edition. Happy tasting!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Princes of Darkness

Just before our event at Wine Vault of the Desert got underway last Friday, a truck smashed into an electrical transformer, knocking out electricity to the new Desert Business Park across from Palm Desert's Sun City. Would our sold-out Chill with WinewomenPSP show go on? In the dark?

You betcha. Wine Vault director Jeff Frank flew into overdrive to find soft lighting for each table. As the back-up generator hummed along to keep the Vault's wine chilled and unfettered by the hub-bub, the crowd found their way in the semi-dark to take their seats for Wine, Women and Health: Medicine or Myth?

From ancient teachings to the latest scientific findings, the audience learned of scientists' attempts to identify factors responsible for population, laboratory and clinical studies that point to beneficial effects of moderate alcohol and wine consumption on the heart and other vital organ systems, from our brains to our bones.

While many studies favor resveratrol as a key player in the wine-health connection, wine's complex biochemistry suggests other elements may also contribute to health effects scientists continue to track and analyze. Could the whole be greater than the sum of its biochemical parts? If so, whole fruits rich in these compounds or a glass of wine should do the trick.

You can read more about our presenter's take on the topic here but stay tuned – the final chapter has yet to be written.

Wine Vault itself was really cool. Our tour of the 10,000 sq. ft custodial wine storage facility yielded a delightful surprise when manager Jack Dixon told us how affordable storage can be. We'll remember that next time a deal comes along that we needn't pass up for lack of wine TLC or space at home.

Desert Cancer Foundation's executive director Peggy Bilous provided background on that organization's mission and services for ailing Coachella Valley residents in need of medical services. With Jeff underwriting the wine provided by Southern Wine & Spirits and appetizers by Sherman's Deli, our fundraising efforts were a success. A few lucky attendees took home fab prizes, including storage for their wine at Wine Vault and our new, cool WinewomenPSP logo wine aerator. More on that lovely in another post.

Out of the darkness, we'd seen the light and headed home with kicked-up wine smarts. See you next on October 23rd for an evening under the stars with soprano Angela Bunea, wine and the Mediterranean culinary marvels of Miramonte Resort and Spa!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Finery at Fleming's

With 100 wines by the glass and Patrick Milsop directing its wine program, it's a gimme that Fleming's Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar in Rancho Mirage knows wine. We were tickled pink to be in their competent hands at our Hat's Off luncheon with Angel Light Academy last Saturday. We tip our hats to Operating Partner John Verhoef and his skilled staff for turning out a glorious meal and intriguing wine pairings.

A knock-out appetizer of breaded brie with jalapeño jelly was paired to an Old World Chardonnay – Forty-Six Diamonds Pouilly-Fuisse 2006, especially crafted for Fleming's with French négociant Georges DuBoeuf. Hat brims gave way to broader smiles.

Fall soup of squash, corn and lobster, perfectly textured and fresh, was a course many of us would have been happy to savor for dinner any night. Its pairing was a New World Vasse Felix Chardonnay 2007 from the cooler Margaret River area of Western Australia. The wine's crisp acidity was both balance and foil for the rich soup.

Next, a nearly fork-tender petite filet mignon was served with South Africa's Rust en Vrede Merlot 2007 from the Stellenbosch region. We took in its earthy aromas and terroir-soaked flavors. Patrick told us how Nelson Mandela chose this winery for his 2004 Nobel Peace Prize dinner. We were honored as well.

As much as we enjoyed the apricot sorbet, the luncheon's real treats were the children and young adults of Angel Light Academy. With their poise and polish at the mic, these youngsters told of their struggles in our rough-and-tumble society and how ALA helps them learn leadership and other skills necessary to overcome hardship and succeed as focused, whole and wholesome individuals. Well done, all.

Great prizes fueled a thrilling and competitive auction to aid our combined fundraising efforts.

In case you missed this one, take our word and remember Fleming's for your next night out and Angel Light Academy in your charitable giving. Our combined causes paired with a superb venue, excellent food and wine, fashion and energetic camaraderie for a memorable event. And, as you can see, it was worth going for the hats alone.