Winemonger Talk

  • Let it Snow! Give and Get Ice Wine for the Holidays

    What fits the season better than a bottle of Ice Wine?

    Send Ice Wine as gifts for everyone on your list, and be sure to have some delivered to yourself for all of your holiday entertaining. Give a single bottle, or give our set of three bottles Ice Wine Flight.

    Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

    Gsellmann & Hans Ice Wine 2003
    Bottle $26.99 / Case $323.88
    True Ice Wine from 100% Scheurebe.
    94 points from A la Carte.

    Heiss Cabernet Sauvignon / Blaufrankisch Ice Wine 2005
    Bottle $29.99 / Case $359.88
    That rarest of things: a fine, true Ice Wine crafted from red wine grapes.
    90 points from A la Carte.
    88 points from Wine & Spirits magazine.

    Heiss Sauvignon Blanc Ice Wine 2003 Bottle $31.50 / Case $378.00
    True Ice Wine crafted from 100% Sauvignon Blanc. Plays with traditional notes of the varietal while adding a kick of spice and sweetness.
    88 points from A la Carte.

    Heiss Traminer Ice Wine 2001 Bottle $45.99 / Case $551.88
    If Ice Wine could be made from roses, this would be it.
    94 points from A la Carte and the Falstaff Guide.
    91 points from Wine Enthusiast.
    free shipping by the case!

    Heiss Traminer Ice Wine 2002 Bottle $34.99 / Case $419.88
    Franz Heiss makes some of the best Ice Wines coming out of Austria, and this 2002 Traminer shows why we know it's so.
    88 points from A la Carte.

    Hogl Riesling Ice Wine 2003 Bottle $35.50 / Case $426.00
    True 100% Riesling Ice Wine from top-rated Wachau producer Josef Hogl. Stunning stuff.
    94 points from Falstaff Guide.

    Tschida Muscat-Ottonel Ice Wine 2005 Bottle $33.75 / Case $405.00
    A true Ice Wine from one of most respected dessert wine producers in all of Austria.
    90 points from A la Carte.

    Weiss Gruner Veltliner Ice Wine 2005 Bottle $22.00 / Case $264.00
    Another Weiss Ice Wine from 100% Gruner Veltliner. The 1999 sold out quickly- buy this one while you can!
    88 points from Wine Enthusiast magazine.

    Weiss Ice Wine 2001 Bottle $21.00 / Case $252.00
    True Ice Wine crafted from a blend of Gruner Veltliner and Welschriesling: notes of berries and spice and everything nice.
    91 points Falstaff Guide.
    92 points Beverage Testing Institute.


    And if you like Ice Wine, give this Schilfwein a try:

    Tschida Muscat-Ottonel Schilfwein 2004 Bottle $54.99 / Case $659.88
    Austrian “Schilfwein”: grapes dried on a shelf of reeds for months, and then pressed into one of the most decadent of the dessert wines.
    94 points Falstaff Guide.
    96 points Beverage Testing Institute.


    Learn how true Ice Wine (aka Eiswein) is made.

    Harvesting Icewine



    GET YOUR WINE ON TIME!! PLEASE CHECK OUR HOLIDAY SHIPPING DEADLINES HERE

  • Holiday Wine Pairings for Tradtional Christmas, Hannukah and Kwanzaa Dinners from Around the World

    Holiday dinner traditions range widely from country to country and continent to continent- but one thing remains the same wherever you go: this is the time to invite friends and family over and to share great food, great wines, and great company.

    Below is a sampling of the traditional Christmas, Christmas Eve, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa dinners being served around the world, and the perfect wines to pair with your holiday meal, wherever you hail from.

    These holiday dinners primarily fall into one of 4 groups: those that serve fish, those that serve ham, those that serve a roasted bird (turkey, goose, duck, etc.), and those that are vegetarian. And, then, there are a few that serve goat. We have shared here a few of the full traditional holiday meals served in some of these countries, and then made wine pairing suggestions for their main course. To wit:

    Plum Pudding

    England-
    Roast turkey, stuffing, roast potatoes and vegetables, bread sauce, cranberry sauce, gravy, and a Christmas pudding (brown pudding with raisins, nuts and cherries) with brandy butter.

    France-
    Reveillon: a light meal enjoyed on Christmas Eve, generally eaten after midnight-mass. Sometimes that evening a meal of Toriere is eaten, which are a kind of minced meat pie.
    Then the full feast enjoyed on Christmas day would have a pea or other vegetable soup, pate, oysters, roast goose, fresh and candied fruits (particularly grapes and apples), Buche de Noel (yule log) and roasted chestnuts.

    Foie Gras with Cracked Red Peppercorns

    Russia-
    Christmas Eve: kutya (porridge of grains, honey and poppy seeds). No meat.
    Christmas: Goose or a suckling pig.

    Australia-
    In the English tradition: roast turkey, ham or pork is on the table with a plum pudding for dessert.
    Alternately, some mates barbecue prawns, steak and chicken and then serve ice cream or sorbet for dessert.

    WINES TO SERVE WITH ROASTED BIRD:
    Hogl Bruck Riesling Smaragd 2005 $36.99
    Gritsch Singerriedel Gruner Veltliner Smaragd 2005 $27.99
    Wenzel Kleiner Wald Pinot Noir 2004 $38.50 free shipping by the case
    Moric Alte Reben Neckenmarkt 2004 $80.00

    Sweden-
    Ham, sweet and sour red cabbage, meatballs, small sausages, gravlax, and a Christmas pudding called Jul Grot which has one almond in it. The drink is a mulled wine they call Glogg.

    Finland-
    A casserole of macaroni, rutabaga, carrot and potato, served with ham or turkey.

    Ham with the trimmings

    Greece-
    Ham and bacon, loaves of Christopsomo (Christ bread), and nut cookies.

    Phillipines-
    Noche Buena is a festive meal held after mass, which includes a ham or roast pig, cheeses, noodles, chestnuts, puto bumbong (rice steamed inside bamboo), bibingka (rice cakes with salted eggs & coconut), and suman (steamed rice in banana leaves).

    WINES TO SERVE WITH HOLIDAY HAM
    Hogl Terrassen Spitzergraben Riesling 2006 $20.00
    Donabaum Setzberg Riesling 2005 $32.00
    Hogl Bruck Riesling 2005 $37.00
    Gsellmann & Gsellmann Pinot Noir 2002 $26.00

    Portugal-
    Salted dry cod-fish, called Bacalao, which can be served with rapini, boiled potatoes and breads.

    Bacalao

    Poland-
    Oplatek (a kind of communion bread), barshch (vegetable stew), fish soup, herring, fish in aspic, carp, stewed cabbage or sauerkraut. For dessert: dried fruits, kutia (a treat made from wheat, poppy seeds, honey & almonds), poppy seed or honey cake or strudel, and sweet rolls.

    Austria-
    Baked carp (Gebackener Karpfen) is the dish most traditionally served.
    But sometimes roasted duck with bread dumplings, braised red cabbage and apples.
    Dessert is an assortment of bakery- primarily cookies, cookies, cookies!
    And then to drink: gluhwein. This is available on most street corners during the season and is the perfect way to keep warm day and night! Here is our Gluhwein recipe.

    Platters of Seafood

    Italy-
    Christmas Eve:
    Pronzo delta vigilia, which has no meat. Lots of fish, a seafood stew, and cannoli.
    Christmas Day:
    Antipasti, pasta with walnut cream sauce, panettone (a kind of cake with dried bits of fruit in it) for dessert.

    Mexico-
    Cheese, bananas and nuts. A stew made with fish and vegetables. Perhaps a turkey. Lots of cookies.

    WINES TO SERVE WITH FISH
    Melusine Gruner Veltliner 2005 $67.50
    Wenzel Pinot Gris 2004 $20.00
    Velich Tiglat Chardonnay 2002 $55.00

    Mincemeat Pies

    Jamaica-
    Rice, gungo peas, chicken, meat pies, ox tail and curried goat.

    Ethiopia-
    This meal is served on January 7th, and is usually preceded by the purchase and slaughter of a goat, which is then served with doro wat (spicy chicken stew) and flat bread.

    Latkes

    WINE TO SERVE WITH GOAT
    BIG red wines are called for here!
    Braunstein Leithaberg 2004 $39.50
    Feiler-Artinger Solitaire 2003 $50.00
    Preisinger Paradigma $50.00
    Moric Neckenmarkter Blaufrankisch 2003 $29.00

    Bulgaria-
    The Bulgarians serve 12 dishes to represent the 12 months of the year, none of which contain meat. Ingredients include beans, all kinds of nuts, dried plums, and a traditional cake called Banitza.

    Kwanzaa-
    Foods should include yams, sesame seeds, collard greens and hot peppers. Some traditional dishes include a carrot salad, creole court bouillon, and succotash.

    Hannukah-
    Foods that have been fried in oil, to celebrate the oil that lasted for 8 days. On the top of that list are latkes, a kind of potato pancake, which is served with sour cream and apple sauce. In some places, falafel steps in as the fried food of choice. And then dessert is a kind of fried donut with jelly filling.

    Viennese Cookies

    WINES TO SERVE WITH PRIMARILY MEATLESS HOLIDAY DINNERS
    Donabaum "Johann" Gruner Veltliner 2006
    Sabathi Poharnig Sauvignon Blanc 2005 $30.00
    Gritsch 1000-Eimerberg Neuburger $13.00

    AND FOR DESSERT!
    Weiss Ice Wine 2001 $21.00
    Velich Seewinkel Beerenauslese 2000 $23.00
    Tschida Muscat-Ottonel Trockenbeerenauslese $50.00
    Feiler-Artinger Pinot Cuvee Ruster Ausbruch 1998 $48.00


    HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO YOU AND YOURS!

    **check here for holiday shipping deadlines**

  • The Winemonger Interview - Wolfgang Gussmack, Executive Chef

    1. THE SEASONAL QUESTION
    As you hail from Austria, what non-traditional side dish would you suggest to go alongside the Thanksgiving turkey?

    Braised Red Cabbage

    Recipe
    1 head red cabbage, diced
    2 shallots
    1/2 cup sugar
    2 tbs. unsalted butter
    1 bottle Austrian red wine (Zweigelt)
    1 cinnamon stick
    salt and pepper to taste

    Preparation
    Saute shallots in two tablespoons of (unsalted) butter.
    Add the sugar and caramelize until golden brown.
    Add diced red cabbage, deglaze with the red wine (all of it)
    Add cinnamon stick.
    Let simmer for 40 minutes.
    Season with salt & pepper.

    Mahlzeit !!

    2. THE CHEF QUESTION
    What is in your refrigerator at home?

    Champagne for my wife and a lot of Austrian wines for me! Chefs are not known to have a lot of food items in the fridge, so we eat out when we have the opportunity. We have breakfast items such as eggs, tomatoes, meusli (not a refrigerated item.)

    3. THE WINE AND FOOD QUESTION
    What is one of your favorite food and wine match-ups?

    Wolfgang says: serve with Ice Wine

    Oysters with ice wine. Just try it- it is amazing.

    4. THE TOPICAL QUESTION
    Has the movement towards using locally sourced produce, meats, cheeses, etc. changed the way you approach your menu?

    Yes.

    And, following that, have you seen a change in the tastes or demands of your patrons?
    The trust and confidence in food sources in general is becoming increasingly important.

    5. THE DESERTED ISLAND QUESTION
    You are on a deserted island. Which two grape varietals do you plant?

    Sauvignon Blanc because I love it, and Chardonnay because Chardonnay can grow everywhere (and to be sure there is something to drink!)

    Snacks Wolfgang Style



    ABOUT WOLFGANG GUSSMACK

    Chef Wolfgang Gussmack

    Born to a restaurateur family in Austria, he started at a young age helping his mother in their authentic award winning Austrian restaurant, Gussmack. Wolfgang trained in many distinguished restaurants in France, Germany, Italy and Austria including Jaglhof: Austria, Peck Restaurante: Milan, Due Leoni: Venice and I Golosi: Paris (as Chef de Cuisine). While in Paris, Wolfgang was recognized by Figaro Madame Magazine as a “Rising Young Chef” and particularly for his rendition of asparagus risotto.

    Due to his love of wines, Wolfgang attended both L’Academie du Vin Francias in Paris and Wifi in Austria. Wolfgang is a Certified Sommelier in both France and Austria.

    Wolfgang relocated to Santa Monica in 2002 with his wife Annette where he met Hans Rockenwagner. Wolfgang joined the Ballona Fish Market and shortly after, Rockenwagner Restaurant as Chef de Cuisine. Wolfgang and Hans Rockenwagner have since opened 3 Square Café and Bakery on Abbot Kinney in Venice as partners.

  • Brussel Sprouts with Bacon and Pears - Recipe

    This side dish always goes over like gangbusters-- even folks who say they don't like brussel sprouts are always surprised. But then, who doesn't love bacon?

    HOW MANY SPROUTS TO BUY
    The rule of thumb with brussel sprouts is that a 1-quart basket or 1 1/4 pounds serves about 5 people as a side dish.
    If you are picking them out from a bin, go for the smaller ones.

    GET THEM READY
    Trim the base and peel off the outer leaves.

    BLANCH
    Very important! This will make your sprouts bright green when you serve them. When they get all yellow and mushy from being cooked too long in the pan, they just don't look appetizing.

    Bring a pot of salted water to a furious boil.
    Drop in the sprouts.
    Let them bob around for about 6 minutes if they are normal size, 4 if they are baby sized.
    Remove from water to a colander, and then lay them out on a towel to dry.

    PREP INGREDIENTS
    For each quart of sprouts:
    -2 slices of bacon, chopped
    tip: freeze the bacon and then chop it up
    -1/2 a pear, chopped
    -2 shallot cloves, finely chopped

    COOK
    Cook the bacon in the pan until it is just barely getting crispy. Remove.

    Saute the shallots in the bacon grease until they are soft.

    Add the brussel sprouts and cook for about 3 minutes

    Add the pear and cook another 3 minutes

    Add bacon and saute just until it's all mixed together.

    Salt and pepper to taste.

    Serve.

    DRINK

    Hogl Bruck Riesling Smaragd 2005
    Bottle: $36.99 / Case: $443.88

    Neumayer Gruner Veltliner Der Wein vom Stein 2008
    Bottle: $49.50 / Case: $594.00


    Donabaum Spitzer Point Gruner Veltliner Smaragd 2008
    Bottle: $51.00 / Case: $612.00

    Melusine Gruner Veltliner 2005
    Bottle: $67.50 / Case: $810.00

  • Riesling Gravy Recipe

    Riesling Gravy Recipe

    * Pan juices from a roasted turkey
    * 4 tbs. flour
    * 1 1/3 cups Riesling
    * 2 ½ cups Turkey or Chicken stock
    * salt and pepper

    1. After your turkey is done roasting, remove it from the pan to rest on a cutting board or large platter.

    2. Strain the pan juices into a medium saucepan.

    3. Skim the fat off the pan juices, reserving about 4 tablespoons.

    4. Mix the 4 tbs. of fat with with 4 tbs. of flour until it is a paste. Set aside.

    5. Put the roasting pan over a couple of burners set to medium. Add 1 1/3 cups of Riesling to the pan & bring to a simmer, scraping up all the tasty bits from the bottom and sides of the pan.

    6. Strain the wine and bits, adding it to the other pan juices in the medium saucepan.

    7. Bring the combined juices to a simmer and reduce by about half.

    8. Add 2 1/2 cups of Turkey or Chicken stock

    9. Whisk in the fat/flour paste

    10. Keep simmering and whisking until it is smooth and has reached the desired thickness (about 10 minutes)

    11. If your gravy becomes too thick or tastes too floury, add more stock.

    12. Add sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.

  • Holiday Shipping Deadlines

    Don't order too late! Here are the deadlines to get your wine shipped on time for Christmas.

    CHRISTMAS SHIPPING DEADLINES:

    ALL TIMES ARE PACIFIC STANDARD

    CA VIA GROUND: Order in by 11AM on 12/17/07
    FL, ID, IL, LA, ND, NE, NH, NM, NV, OR, TX, WY VIA GROUND: Order in by 11AM on 12/14/07

    DIRECT 3-DAY: Order in by 11AM on 12/14/07
    DIRECT 2-DAY: Order in by 11AM on 12/17/07
    OVERNIGHT: Order in by 8AM on 12/18/07

    3-TIER STATES:
    CO, CT, DC, FL, MA, MI, NC, NJ, NY. WI: Order in by 9AM on 12/4/2007
    AZ: SORRY! THIS DEADLINE HAS ALREADY PASSED.

    HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM YOUR WINEMONGER!

  • Thanksgiving Wine Pairing Guide

    It's Thanksgiving time again, and we must admit, this is our favorite meal to pair wines with. This year we are expecting to have a full table, with many of our winemakers from Austria joining us, so the pressure is on to pair the wines just right.

    In our previous Thanksgiving wine pairing guides, we have covered the whys of which wines to pair, as well as provided a comprehensive list of wines from around the world that would work well with each course. So having done that in the past, we decided to get specific this year and share with you our Thanksgiving menu, complete with the recipes and the exact wines we will be pairing with each course.

    SET THE STAGE
    If you have a fireplace, get it roaring (or gently burning, depending upon the weather outside). No fireplace? Candles. Lots of candles. But be sure they are unscented! Nothing distracts and detracts from the smells of the roasting turkey like an artificially scented colonade. Of course the table should already be set, and this year we will be keeping things simple by using some grapevine leaves that have turned orange, gold and red, along with a few dried tendrils, in lieu of a larger centerpiece. If you don't live near a wine growing area (there are wine vineyards in all 50 states now, though), many florist shops carry these leaves this time of year. Otherwise, any sort of lovely turned leaf will do.

    UPON ARRIVAL
    When our guests arrive, we always like to kick things off with a glass of the sparkling stuff almost before they have a chance to take off their coats. The idea is to welcome them right from the start with the festive mood that will carry the evening. We'll be pouring the Altenburger Brut. This is a beautiful sparkling wine crafted from a cuvee of Blaufrankisch and Zweigelt with just a touch of rose color.

    PRE-DINNER NIBBLE (AKA APPETIZER)
    It's very important not to go overboard here. There is a huge dinner ahead, and the last thing you need is to fill your guests up on the appetizers. On the other hand, they probably came hungry, and there are often kitchen delays, so you don't want them standing around with growling stomachs.
    We will be setting out two of our easy favorites: roasted parsnips and a spiced warm nut mix.
    With that we will be pouring two lighter-styled white wines; a Riesling and a Gruner Veltliner. These will lead us into the meal, when we will then move on to those with a fuller, more complex body as well as our red wines.
    The first two wines:

    Donabaum "Johann" Gruner Veltliner Federspiel 2006
    Bottle: $16.99 / Case: $203.88

    Hogl Terrassen Spitzergraben Riesling Federspiel 2006
    Bottle: $19.99 / Case: $203.88


    THE MAIN EVENT
    We do things in a pretty traditional way, but with a few twists. Here is our menu this year:

    -Roast Turkey - Brined and Rubbed
    (this involves some smoked paprika - amazing for both the flavor and the color it lends)
    -Savory Cinnamon Raisin Stuffing
    -Simple Mashed Potatoes
    -White Trash Yams
    -Brussel Sprouts with Bacon and Pears
    -Cranberry Sauce
    -Chipotle Corn Bread

    And here are the wines we will be pulling the corks on. They were chosen not only for the perfect way they will pair with these dishes, but also because each one is drinking just beautifully right now.

    Hogl Bruck Riesling Smaragd 2005
    Bottle: $36.99 / Case: $443.88

    Gritsch Singerriedel Gruner Veltliner Smaragd 2005
    Bottle: $27.99 / Case: $335.88


    Donabaum Spitzer Point Gruner Veltliner Smaragd 2005
    Bottle: $31.50 / Case: $378.00

    Melusine Gruner Veltliner 2005
    Bottle: $67.50 / Case: $810.00 - free shipping by the case


    Wenzel Bandkraften Blaufrankish 2002
    Bottle: $31.99 / Case: $383.88

    Wenzel Kleiner Wald Pinot Noir 2004
    Bottle: $38.50 / Case: $462.00 - free shipping by the case

    Feiler-Artinger Solitaire 2003
    Bottle: $49.99 / Case: $599.88 - free shipping by the case

    Moric Alte Reben Neckenmarkt 2005
    Bottle: $80.00 / Case: $960.00

    THE FINALE - DESSERT
    Keep things simple. For our table, the sweet wine is the true dessert- but Thanksgiving just wouldn't be complete without a pumpkin pie. Our recipe changes the crust so that it pairs better with the wines.

    -True Pumpkin Pie with Ginger Graham Crust
    -Cheese selection highlighting blue cheeses

    Heiss Cabernet Sauvignon/Blaufranksich Ice Wine
    Bottle: $29.99 / Case: $359.88

    Tschida Muscat-Ottonel Schilfwein
    Bottle: $54.99 / Case: $659.88

    Wenzel SAZ Ruster Ausbruch 2001
    Bottle: $86.99 / Case: $1043.88 - free shipping by the case


    HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

  • Roast Turkey - Brined and Rubbed - Recipe

    ROAST TURKEY - BRINED AND RUBBED
    Because this turkey gets a rub, you won't be able to baste it as it roasts. This is why we brine our bird and then roast it at a high heat - the combo ensures maximum juiciness.

    THE BRINING
    Brining is easier than it might seem. Simply dissolve 2 cups of Kosher salt per every 8 quarts of water in a large pot. Put the turkey in the brine so that it's covered (if your pot is not large enough, you can use a garbage bag.) Let it brine at least 8 hours, refrigerated.

    THE RUB
    2 tsp. smoked spanish paprika (aka Pimenton de la Vera)
    1 tsp. sea salt
    1 tsp. celery salt
    3/4 tsp. dried thyme
    3/4 tsp. onion powder
    1/2 tsp. rubbed sage
    1/2 tsp. fresh ground pepper
    3 tbs. olive oil

    Combine all ingredients.

    THE BIRD

    Bring your brined bird to room temperature and pat dry.
    Pepper the inside cavity.
    Carefully shove some butter pats under the skin on the breast.
    Rub the bird well with the spice and oil mixture - but be sure that it doesn't clump in any one place. This is a rub, not a thick coating.

    For a 15 lb. bird:
    1. Oven to 500 degrees.
    2. Bird on a rack in a roasting pan.
    3. Roast for 1 hour - legs towards the door.
    4. Turn it around so it's legs in first, adding a couple cups of stock to the pan.
    5. Roast another hour

    Allow the bird to rest for about 30 minutes before serving, tented under some aluminum foil.

    The basic time-per-pound for this high heat roasting method is as follows:
    10 pounds = 1 hour 15 minutes
    12 pounds = 1 hour 20 minutes
    15 pounds = 2 hours
    20 pounds = 3 hours

    **Add a half hour if you stuffed your bird**

  • The Winemonger Interview - Cara Bertone, Sommelier

    The Winemonger interview with Cara Bertone, sommelier and wine buyer at the famed Water Grill restaurant in downtown Los Angeles:

    1. THE SEASONAL QUESTION
    It's All Hallows Eve. What will you be drinking?

    BEER! Anything Tan or a Spiced Ale is all a go!
    Black Velvet: Guinness and Champagne blend.

    If you are talking about wine, then I would have to go with something that has, what I call, cooler weather spices. Blaufrankish from Austria-- a no brainer. Malbecs from Argentina--cinnamon. Anything in Southern France, Roussillon or Provence. Or you can get into some interesting Rhone White wines, particularly Viognier heavy, or oaked wines of Spain or Austria.



    2. THE SOMMELIER QUESTION
    What are you really thinking when a patron sends a wine back?

    This is not Cara Bertone

    If I have not had the opportunity to open the bottle myself to check for impurities, that would be my first concern. If I found nothing wrong with the wine, I would try to steer my guests in a different direction. Not everyone has the vocabulary of a sommelier, so it's always fun for me to try to see through my patrons eyes and understand what they really want.

    If I suggest something that they will not like, this is my bad. However if they choose something they ultimately don't like well I am always willing to compromise, however I can not allow a guest to pick bottles to open just to see "if they like it". It can become a bit tricky because some guests may feel it necessary. But for the most part it doesn't happen all that often. And if a wine is sent back it is usually because of a flaw in the wine.

    There also can be some guests who are just downright not happy and I see it as my job to find something to change their attitude whether it be wine or a smile or a funny joke.

    Cara says: Pair with Gruner

    3. THE WINE AND FOOD QUESTION
    What wine would you suggest to pair with chicken pot pie?

    Oh come on CHICKEN POT PIE....... High acid white wine that pairs well with vegetables and, lets see, my first wine would have to be a Gruner Veltliner from the Wachau. Why the Wachau region: only because they abide with ripeness levels, and I would have to suggest a Smaragd from the Wachau.
    If I couldn't have Veltliner, I would most likely suggest a Chardonnay from the Burgundy region of France, preferably a Puligny-Montrachet.

    4. THE TOPICAL QUESTION
    What do you make of the trend towards high octane (i.e. high in alcohol) wines?

    It is almost an anomaly to me. At first glance, it seemed like a huge marketing ploy to mass produce a certain style of wine: big, fat and rich. Upon speaking with winemakers over the past 2 years I started to understand that global warming has really taken its toll in certain winemaking regions.

    After tasting and reading and conversing, I do believe that for very few winemakers global warming has been a real issue. I believe that consumers have dictated this rich style of wine, however I do also believe that new world palates are quickly changing faster than wine styles are changing. There are some wine groups that call themselves such names as the "ABCs" which literally means "Anything But Chardonnay".

    This is Cara Bertone

    I simply can not afford to carry many of these high octane wines because I am pairing with elegant seafood. I can easily pair big red wines as long as they can hold their acid.

    For those who don't know, "high octane" (ie. high alcohol) means high sugar. A grape contains either acid or sugar, the more of one means less of another. So put that together and the higher the alcohol the lesser the acid. Just doesn't work to well with food.

    Personally they are too heavy for me to drink and it makes no sense to my palate or to my belly.

    5. THE DESERTED ISLAND QUESTION
    You are on that deserted island. Which two varietals do you plant?

    Oh come on!
    Riesling, thirstquenching, and easily preserved.
    Grenache, bowl full of fruit packed with spices, can be extremely fun and extremely serious.
    Either of these wines can usually be consumed right after bottling or hold and develop incredible flavors over years to come!

    check out the Water Grill restaurant



    ABOUT CARA BERTONE
    Cara earned her Associates Degree in Psychology at Daytona Beach Community College, and soon after moved to Dallas, Texas. While persuing a finance degree at the Business School of the University of North Texas she stumbled into a job as a server at a restaurant called Steel. This would prove to be the moment that changed the course of her life.

    The staff at the restaurant were extremely knowledgeble about wine and Cara quickly fell in love with the stuff, moving up the ranks to assisting the creation of the wine list within 2 years. This coincided with the completion of her finance degree, and she was faced with two internships. The first was at a brokerage firm, the second was at the Siduri winery in Northern California. She went for the Pinot, and hasn't regretted the decision for even a moment.

    When the internship ended, Cara packed her belongings into her car and headed back to Texas. An overnight stay with a friend in Los Angeles would delay the rest of her trip: she spotted an ad for a position at the famed Water Grill restaurant and got the job. She is now the Wine Director/Sommelier at Water Grill, which has been awarded the Best of Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator Magazine.

    Cara was named as one of the top 5 Sommeliers in Los Angeles by Los Angeles Magazine in 2006. In 2007 Anthony Dias Blue and Patterson's Tasting Panel named her the best Wine Buyer/Sommelier in Los Angeles. Cara also participates in numerous charitable events and will be a part of the "World of Pinot" and "Hospice du Rhone" tastings this year.

    **Winemonger swears it did not pay Cara to suggest Austrian wines in the interview.**

  • Benefit Wine Tasting in Pasadena featuring Winemonger Wines

    Wine and gymnastics?

    Sure!

    We do quite a few sponsorships for various causes, and last year this one turned out to be a great time to boot:

    Lots of (winemonger) wines
    Lots of hors d'oevres
    Lots of desserts
    Lots of (great) live music

    The tasting itself is informal, but certified sommelier Alessia Botturi will be on hand to chat about the wines with anybody interested.

    And so we hope you will join us at (here comes the official invitation information):

    The Second Annual
    "Taste of Excellence"

    A Benefit Evening of Fine Wine Tasting and Celebration

    Enjoy an evening of wine tasting featuring over 14 different Austrian wines, sponsored by Winemonger, a local importer and retailer of fine wines.

    Hors d'oevres, decadent desserts, and live music!

    A Golden State Gymnast Your $ Would Benefit

    Friday, November 2nd
    7PM - 11PM

    Pasadena Museum of California Art
    490 E. Union Street
    Pasadena, CA.

    For tickets and information, call:
    818-848-5206 or 818-426-6898

    Event tickets at $50
    Olympic tickets at $75 - includes one bottle of wine

    All proceeds support the Golden State Gymnastics Junior Olympic Women's Program

    ***Child Care Available***

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