Winemonger Talk

  • Philharmonic Taste - An Austrian Tasting for Ear and Palate

    What is the taste of Schubert? And which movement by Brahms pairs with Riesling?

    We bring this to you from our friends at the Austrian Wine Marketing Board and Austrian Trade Commission - a wine, food & music event hosted by world-renowned chef Lidia Bastianich and Andreas Grossbauer, first violinist of the Vienna Philharmonic orchestra, on Monday, March 4th, at 7pm at the Del Posto restaurant in New York City.

    The Austrian Wine Marketing Board and the Austria Trade Commission are proud to present the Philharmonic Taste – An Austrian Tasting for Ear and Palate. Guests will be served a pristinely prepared, 7-course menu featuring the culinary styling of Chef Bastianich at her Del Posto restaurant and the fine viniculture of Austria. Each course will be accompanied by a carefully-selected Austrian wine to be enjoyed while the quartet is playing; food will be served after each performance and the quartet will join the guests in dining.

    This event is truly a one-of-a-kind experience and is a dream come true for any culture-enthusiast. Tickets are on sale for $425 a head, all inclusive, through this website. Additional details are below.

    WHO: A string quartet of members of the Vienna Philharmonics under the leadership of the orchestra’s first violinist and wine aficionado Andreas Grossbauer
    WHAT: The night features a classic seven course menu, paired not only with wines from Austria's best vineyards, but also with music chosen to reflect the personality and character of the evening's fare.
    WHEN: Monday, March 4th at 7 p.m.
    WHERE: Del Posto Restaurant, 85 10th Avenue, New York, NY 10011
    WHY: Try Austrian Wine paired with first class cuisine and music and the chance to dine with members of the Vienna Philharmonics. This is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity.
    COST: $425 including tax and tip for 7-course menu paired with wine and music.


  • Never Confuse a Winemonger with a Beermonger

    The Zalto Beer Glass

    Ok- so we're Winemongers. We import some pretty amazing wines from a lot of cool places and present them not only to you here on our website, but also get them onto the wine lists of some of America's best restaurants and the shelves of some of your favorite brick-and-mortar wine shops. We are also the importer of the Austrian Zalto line of stemware, which includes not only the very best wine glasses on the market, but also a glass for beer. Ale. Pilsner. IPA. Lager. Stout. Marzen. Weissbier. Blonde Ale. Doppelbock.

    Those last 7 terms are exactly what got us into trouble when we wrote up why the Zalto beer glass is the best beer glass on the planet. The fact is- we pretty much didn't know our Baltic Porter from our Dunkelweizen, and basically said that the glass was just great for ALL beers. Now, if somebody came up to us and said "Check it out! This wine glass is the very best wine glass for dessert wines, Chardonnays AND Shiraz"-- well, we'd probably politely point out that that just really couldn't be the case. Which is what happened to us. A true Beermonger, one Mr. Hugh Crozier, read our description for the Zalto beer glass, and let us know the error of our ways (note: he is totally fine with us sharing here what he had to say, as well as some photos he took):

    Hugh Does it Right

    I posted a link to your page on twitter and as a result you have incurred the WRATH of antipodean beer-geeks!!
    I've just been gifted a pair, so am quite looking fwd to trying them, and the link was more for ppl to see the glasses ...but it was the accompanying text that drew fire:

    looks good although the following is an epic fail "This is truly the first glass designed specifically for your favorite ales, pilsners and the like" Firstly NO this is not a first. And secondly saying you have designed a glass for "Ales Pilsners and the like" is like saying you've designed one for 'Chardonnays, Merlots and well you know, wine'. Sigh.

    Which is a fair point- I'm sure if someone came to you looking for a riesling glass, you'd not suggest the Zalto Burg, nor a flute for Blaufrankisch (hopefully?) and similarly, so to those who may in fact be in the market for a high end glass to accompany high end beers, it appears horribly inept to lump 'beer' together. I do note that the Zalto site is quite specific in recommending the beer glasses for Pilsen and Marzen styles, it may be a consideration to alter the product description for the sake of people who differentiate and comprehend beer styles. Unless of course Bud drinkers are your market, in which case it doesn't matter what proper geeks think..

    We very quickly thanked Hugh for showing us the light, and just as quickly changed the description about the glass. We then asked him if he had any other thoughts or advice about the beer stem, and here's what he shared with us:

    Well, Emily, they've joined the plethora of other glasses I have, and are a worthy addition indeed!

    It's All About the Nose

    They are a funny kind of a thing, as the natural tendency with beer is to pour the whole bottle into the glass, which fills a Zalto (for a 330ml bottle) to about a 1/2 inch from the lip, eliminating any air volume in the vessel that might accumulate aromas, which is kind of the point with high-end glassware... doing so also feels awfully dangerous given how delicate it is, and it was pretty nerve-wracking the first couple of times; holding the base and putting faith in the one-piece design not to snap when tipping the full glass to ones lips, but the bowl and stem are still attached, and in fact the balance seems pretty spot on throughout the drinking experience.
    Once there's enough room to get your nose in, and ideally it's only about 1/4 full, I found their strength was in highlighting the malt characteristics of any beer I put in them- though that's only five or six at this point. Given this ability, and their similarity design-wise to other lager glasses I have, I can understand why the recommendation is for lager styles such as Pilsner and Marzen which are more malt-driven beer styles than modern pale ales which tend to be about hops, hops, and more hops. Interestingly, one beer that it really highlighted quite nicely was the Yeastie Boys Gunnamatta pale ale, which is an unusual brew in that instead of dry-hopping, Earl Grey tealeaves were added after the ferment, giving quite a heady nose with unmistakable Bergamot aroma alongside a smaller hit of hops. Good fun, if you're able to get your hands on any (Yeastie Boys do export to the US with some regularity) I can highly recommend trying it!

    Now I have to admit that, as of his last email, Hugh was not sure that these were yet his favorite beer stem.... but I'm hoping that by now, with more time spent using them, they are. Hugh?

    If you'd like to follow the exploits of Hugh on twitter, you can find him here:

  • Bitterness in Liguria - with recipes!

    My mouth is still bitter when I think of the trip to the winery of Giobatta Vio in beautiful Liguria, Italy. The birthplace of pesto-- the land of artichoke. I think of the salted breezes and fresh seafood that comes with that scent, and the incredible bottles of Pigato, Vermentino and Rossese that were tasted. And of course, the meal: a five course feast featuring the wines and local bounty. And yes, I can still taste the bitterness.

    Bitter, because I was not there.

    Your Winemonger is a team, lead up by myself and my husband Stephan and then our various (spectacular) specialists who have lead us in our hunt for like-philosophied wines when we grew our portfolio beyond the borders of Austria. In Italy, that was Alessia Botturi (who has, sadly for us, since moved on to work at Antinori, but whose husband Diego Meraviglia has stepped in and about whom I really must write something about soon: he has more accolades as a sommelier and Italian wine specialist than I knew existed.)

    Giobatta Vio in the kitchen

    But back to Liguria. The story of the visit was already once gone over here in this post written by our Ms. Botturi, but when Jon Bonné, wine editor over at the San Francisco Chronicle published an article this past weekend about Vermentino and Pigato and highlighted the wine of Giobatta (Bio Vio), and even included a photograph taken by my husband, I was reminded of the trip not taken. And I knew that I needed to share what they ate on that day- seven (count 'em SEVEN) courses, all featuring seafood, artichokes and basil, and all prepared by Chiara Vio (Giobatta's wife and partner)

    So this is what was laid out upon the table, all paired with the Pigato, Vermentino and Rossese wines:

    Affatati Mistifried fishiesPescetti Fritti of AlborelleTortine di Carciofi FrittiPesto Pasta TrofieTrofie al PestoPasqualina Ai Carciofi Baccala' alla LigureCalamari con Ripieno di Pesto ai Carciofi

    -A quick snack of affattati misti just to get the ball rolling
    -Pescetti Fritti of Alborelle - wee little fried fishies
    -Tortine di Carciofi Fritti - Fried Artichokes
    -Trofie al Pesto - Trofie pasta (homemade, of course) with pesto
    -Pasqualina Ai Carciofi - Artichoke Pie
    -Baccala' alla Ligure - Stockfish done Ligurian style
    -Calamari con Ripieno di Pesto ai Carciofi - Calamari filled with artichoke pesto

    -Recipe for Pasqualina Ai Carciofi (not from Chiara Vio)
    For pastry:
    500 gr flour
    40 gr olive oil
    1 glass of water
    3 teaspoon of salt

    For stuffing the pie:
    12 artichokes
    100 gr of grated Parmesan cheese
    1 onion
    5 eggs
    300 gr ricotta
    some fresh parsley and marjoram.

    Prepare the pastry by mixing flour, olive oil, water and the salt. The result is soft dough; let it rest for 1 hour.

    Prepare the artichokes by removing the outer leaves, cutting the stems and the thorns. Secondly, cut the artichokes into thin slices and place them, for a few minutes, in some water with a lemon (cut the lemon into 4 parts).

    Meanwhile make brown slowly 1 onion, some parsley and marjoram. Then, add the artichokes, some salt and cook everything in a covered pan.
    When all is cooked add eggs, parmesan, a pinch of marjoram, salt and ricotta. Mix everything with a spoon. Roll out the dough and with a rolling pin make 4 puff pastry. Place on a baking pan 2 pastry and then pour the artichokes mixture uniformly.

    Finally cover the pie with the other 2 pastry and brush with 1 egg yolk.
    Cook for about 45 minutes at 200 degrees.

    Recipe for Calamari con Ripieno di Pesto ai Carciofi (also not from Chiara)
    Ingredients (serves 4)
    1.4lb whole squid, tentacles included and cleaned.
    7.5oz peeled prawns
    3 artichokes
    1 small bunch of parsley (finely chopped)
    1 medium bunch basil (minced)
    2 cloves of garlic
    1 glass of dry white wine
    1 lemon
    extra virgin olive oil
    salt & pepper

    Pre-heat your oven to 390 F

    Clean and prepare the artichokes, slice them very thinly and place straight into lemon water.

    Begin gently heating the peeled garlic clove in some olive oil until garlic is golden but not burned, and then remove it from the pan.
    Drain the artichokes of the lemon water and place them in the pan and increase to a moderate heat. Continue cooking till slightly tender.

    While the artichokes are cooking, clean the squid and rinse well under running water.

    Cut off the tentacles at the base of the body.
    Chop the tentacles up finely with the prawns.
    Add these to the pan with the artichokes and allow to cook through.
    Add half a glass of wine to the pan and allow to reduce. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

    Place the contents of the pan, along with the basil, into a food processor and pulse a few times.
    Stuff the filling into the empty cavities of the squids.
    Use a toothpick to close the opening.

    Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a non-stick pan and place in the stuffed squids and brown lightly on all sides.
    Splash with the remaining wine and a handful of chopped parsley and place the pan in the oven to finish cooking for 30 to 40 minutes.

  • San Francisco: Drink a Glass of Bubbly at the Balboa Cafe to Help a Village in Haiti

  • Jingle Jingle Jingle... the Holiday Cases are Here!

    A Half Case of Cheer

    We do it because we care about you... we really really do. We want to make your holidays livelier AND easier! We want you to have that perfect bottle of wine on hand to uncork on a moments notice, while saving you the hassle of getting in your car, braving the elements and waiting in long lines after wandering aimlessly down aisle after aisle of wines that are all probably lovely, but may or may not be quite right for the season. And do we even need to mention how easy it makes your gifting? Get it all done as you keep cozy at home.

    So here you go!
    Our Full Case of Holiday Cheer (that's 12 bottles) for $380.00 and our
    Half-Case of Holiday Cheer (yes, 6 bottles) for just $137.80

    A Full Case of Cheer

    We've made our list and checked it twice, and selected only the wines we truly believe match the kinds of things getting cooked up this time of year, be it latkes or goose or lobster, turkey or carp or prime rib. Gingerbread houses! Mincemeat pies! We've got you covered. How do we do it? By selecting FOOD WINES. Wines that won't overpower whatever it is you are cooking up: wines with just enough weight to hold up, but not so much that they drag you down. You should want to have another glass (and another and another), rather than a mouthful that makes you as full as everything you have on your plate combined. Festive wines!

    So as we said- treat yourself and order a few cases delivered home to have on hand. Then pick your favorite folks and treat others to the best gift ever-- and when you use our "duplicate cart" option, you can just keep adding addresses without having to start all over again loading up the cart.

    Get with the jingle. Your Winemonger loves you and wishes you the best holiday season EVER.

  • The Taste of Dutch Chocolate and Fine Red Wine

    No, we do not sell this wine.

    Chocolate Wine
  • Wine Tasting and Sale in Marin to Benefit Public Schools November 10th

    The 2nd Annual Yes! Benefit Wine Tasting and Sale

    Join Winemonger along with Argot, Calluna Vineyards, Cazadero Winery, Community Wines, Couloir Wines, Cowan Cellars, Easkoot Cellars, Kendric Vineyards, Maysie Cellars, MDB Selections, Slanted House, and Westerhold Family Vineyards in a tasting and SALE (that's right-- you can buy bottles and take them home with you right then and there!). All of the wineries are offering their wines at a discounted price AND are giving 15% of the proceeds to benefit the music and arts programs at the public schools in Marin county.

    A mere $40 (proceeds to benefit) gets you in the door where, at last count, over 42 wines will be poured.

    Yes! Benefit Wine Tasting and Sale
    November 10th, Saturday, 5:30-8:30 PM
    Fairfax Pavilion*
    Fairfax, California

    *The Fairfax Pavilion actually has no address. If you've ever been to Fairfax, this won't come as a surprise.
    Here are DIRECTIONS to get there:

    The Fairfax PavilionFairfax Pavilion

    From points east of Fairfax, head west on Sir Francis Drake Blvd. into the town of Fairfax. As soon as you see the Welcome to Fairfax sign (Pancho Villa’s will be on your left) drive .4 miles. You will see a Rino gas station on your right. Turn left on Claus Drive (at the light), and then make an immediate right followed by an immediate left on Bank St. Continue about 200 feet, and as soon as you see the Fairfax mural turn right into the Pavilion parking lot. The Pavilion is the big red building in front of you on the hill. If the lot is full there is free parking on the adjacent streets.

  • Are You Really a Giants Fan? Meet Vogelsang

    Vogelsang the Wine

    While it might not be spelled EXACTLY the same, our theory is that the "a" turned into an "o" when the Vogelsongs arrived in America- also because one pronounces this wine the same way as the last name of the epic Giants pitcher. We also think the font is not unlike that of the Giants logo AND it's pretty October-ish in general.
    Oh- and foil capsule on the bottle is even orange. It's as if winemaker Michael Wenzel knew we'd want this wine this week...

    A little bit more about Ryan Vogelsong:
    Ryan Andrew Vogelsong (born July 22, 1977) is a Major League Baseball pitcher for the San Francisco Giants. In addition to an earlier stint with the Giants (2000–2001), he played for the Pittsburgh Pirates (2001–2006), and for the Nippon Professional Baseball League's Hanshin Tigers (2007–2008) and Orix Buffaloes (2009).
    His career was revitalized as he established himself as a dominant force in the fifth spot in the Giants 2011 rotation after Barry Zito got hurt. He made the 2011 All-Star team, and in 2012 posted a streak of 16 consecutive quality starts, allowing 3 runs or less in at least 6 innings each game.

    A little bit more about the wine:
    Vogelsang is a single vineyard in the Neusiedlersee Huegelland town of Rust, a mildly climbing hillside with southeast exposure. The light and stony soil, on a bed of slate and granite/gneiss shows itself of primary importance in giving the Furmint an extra bit of aromatic depth and much finesse. The characteristically smoky tone of the variety exhibits wonderfully pearsy notes spiced with lime-zest. There’s no wood-tones evident, but the creamy texture of the wine suggests that it benefited from studious months spent in old wood. Shows the great concentration of many 08ers, without some of the green tannins that the red wines occasionally carry.

    NOW BUY IT HERE (click me)
    Ignore the picture on the buy page- what you'll get is what you see here

  • Spooky (looking) Halloween Wines

    chicken feet optional

    Halloween launches our official favorite time of the year.... Fall weather, changing colors, then Thanksgiving, then the December holidays capped with the first snow of the season. But let's not get ahead of ourselves! For now, it's time to think HALLOWEEN.

    I'm pretty sure it's the Gothic writing on the bottle, or perhaps the dark spice in the wine, but Umathum reds are really THE wine to be opening on Halloween night. Especially if you are having friends over for a Halloween party... they're not only excellent wines, but they just do look the part. The glass corks are pretty cool, too. Bonus? We just received a shipment of new vintages, including the crazy popular Gelber und Roter Traminer alongside the classic Zweigelt and St.Laurent bottlings.

    Umathum wines are 100% biodynamic, so there's even a good story to tell involving buried bones, nettles and lunar cycles....

    Umathum St.Laurent Classic - $19.90/bottle
    Umathum Zweigelt Classic - $23.50/bottle
    Umathum Gelber und Roter Traminer - $24.90/bottle

  • Meet Holzapfel - Our Newest Winery from the Wachau!

    Holzapfel Winery Wachau

    Weingut Holzapfel is situated in a former farmstead, established 700 years ago by the Canons of St Pölten, which was updated to the baroque style by Jakob Prandtauer, architect of the famous Stift Melk. At that point in history, most of the vineyards in the Wachau belonged to the Catholic Church and its nearby monasteries; the farmstead was the center for the harvest and fermentation of wine grapes and for the administration of local sales.

    Today, the estate consists of some fourteen hectares of land under vines, cultivated and worked with traditional methods. Among their vineyards are outstanding sites like Achlieiten, Vorederseiber, Weitenberg, Klaus and Kollmitz.


    Grapes of first-class quality flourish on these stony and mineral-laden soils, which contain in places significant elements of limestone and mica schist. But it's not only the outstanding vineyards and the attention paid to rigorously reduced yields that are responsible for the distinctive nature of the Holzapfel grapes. The climate-conditions specific to this particular part of the Wachau produce extreme variations of temperature between daylight and nighttime, which, together with the various elevations of the vineyards, encourage an acidity which imparts freshness and elegance to the wines.

    Karl Holzapfel strives to create clear and fine fruit-driven, characterful and lively wines for daily enjoyment, as well as dry and compact Smaragd wines with complex aromaticity and great cellaring potential.

    After fermentation, the wine remains in extended contact with the fine lees. In this fashion, unmistakable wines with style and clear, delicate fruit are created, which exhibit the best possible balance between minerality and crisp acidity. Through this individual art of vinification, wines develop a special identity and suit a great number of occasions for enjoyment.

    Holzapfel's assortment includes wines in all three quality-categories Steinfeder, Federspiel and Smaragd, produced from the grape varieties Grüner Veltliner, Riesling and Weissburgunder. The "Selektion Hippolyt" is particularly impressive for its special creaminess, elegance and finesse, which reflect the special wizardry of the Wachau Valley.

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