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TAPAS Tempranillo Tasting is April 26, 2015 at the Presidio, San Francisco!

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If you like wine at all (especially wines made in a Spanish style), don’t miss this event:
TAPAS is pleased to announce the most extensive tasting of domestically produced Tempranillos and other Iberian varietal wines. Join nearly 40 TAPAS member vintners for the 8th annual Grand Wine Tasting held at the Golden Gate Club at the Presidio in San Francisco on Sunday, April 26, 2015.

Trade and consumers will be able to taste Tempranillos, Albariños, Garnachas, Verdelhos, Tourigas, and many other varieties, in a casual walk-around setting where they can chat with the growers and vintners. Explore the diversity of grapes and styles produced across the western United States.  Many TAPAS members are limited-production, family-owned wineries and will be pouring small lot wines that are not widely available. Many of the wines will also be available for sale at this event.

The year’s event will feature a Tempranillo Shootout starting at noon – watch the website for details!

The public event schedule is:

  • 12:00 Noon – 1:30 p.m.  – Tempranillo Shootout.  Tickets are $75, and include early admission to the Consumer Tasting directly afterward.
  • 1:00 – 2:00 p.m.  – Trade/Media Tasting.  Qualified members of the wine trade and media may register using the appropriate link below:
  • 2:00 – 5:00 p.m. – Consumer Tasting.  In conjunction with the walk-around tasting, the TAPAS Wine School (included with admission) will feature informative consumer-oriented seminars. Tickets are $55.

Tickets to the Tempranillo Shootout and Consumer Tasting are now on sale at tapas15.eventbrite.com.

TAPAS President Stuart Spencer noted, “The TAPAS Grand Tasting is a unique opportunity for you to discover, savor and celebrate this treasure chest of exotic and delightfully food-friendly wines. You will gain appreciation for what some visionary winegrowers are doing here on American soil. Don’t miss it!”

To me, this is one of the best wine tasting events of the year and a nice walk off the beaten path of common varietals. It’s fun to taste lesser known wines like Touriga Nacional (originates from Portugal) along with wines like Albariño, Garnacha, and Verdelhos which are slowly gaining domestic popularity. I walked away from the event last year with a better knowledge of wine in general and a few new favorites. I am looking forward to this year’s event and a day at the scenic Presidio in San Francisco. :)

About TAPAS
TAPAS, now in its eleventh year, started at the 2004 Unified Symposium, when Tempranillo winegrowers from California, Oregon, Washington, Texas and Arizona met for the first time to discuss their avocation.  Since that first visionary group pointed the way, the organization has incorporated and grown to over 100 members.  The first Grand Wine Tasting was held at Copia in Napa in 2008, and has continued annually since then, as one of many initiatives to promote Tempranillo and other varietal wine grapes native to the Iberian Peninsula and wines produced from them in North America.


Valentine’s Day Our Way

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We had a wonderful Valentine’s Day this past weekend. Andy and I decided to stay in and cook for each other instead of battling the landmine of multi-course (no substitution) wheat, sugar and dairy heavy pre-fixe menus arranged by local restaurants.

And deciding to avoid the crowd and the high cost of dining out (both to the wallet and to our waistlines) it turned out to be a great decision, because I had one of the most fun Valentine’s in years. :)

We decided we would each make one dish (paired with a wine) for the other person, and then eat them together family style.

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I made this Chicken Korma for Andy, with a 4-ingredient gluten and dairy free naan to eat with it.

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Andy made me one of my favorite things that he makes a few other times a year: Eggplant Moussaka. He uses the Primal recipe that can be found here at Mark’s Daily Apple.

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I bought the ingredients for the Chicken Korma dish at Nugget Markets, and the rest of the ingredients needed to complete our dessert, a Black Bean Brownie mix I was sent by Breads from Anna.

BlackBeanBrownie

The gluten free mix contains powdered honey, cocoa powder, tapioca starch, arrowroot, millet flour, chia flour, chickpea flour, navy bean flour, pinto bean flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, sea salt, xanthan gum, so I was pretty happy to make it. All I did was add some coconut oil, a cup of coffee, and a can of organic black beans (following the package intructions).

I baked them in a cupcake pan (because portion control, baby!) and when they came out, I poked holes in the top and drenched each one with Kahlua. Kahlua makes everything taste better. :)

Then I frosted them with melted semisweet chocolate, and decorated them with coconut manna that I had melted a bit and sweetened with stevia (and colored with a few drops of food coloring to make it pink).

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I made this candle holder for the table to sit out on every anniversary or Valentine’s Day. It’s made from 36 corks from bottles of red wines we have enjoyed together over the past three and a half years.

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I made it with a glass plate, glue gun and ribbon for less than $10, including the candle. :)

This blog entry would be incomplete if I didn’t mention the wines we drank with dinner!

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To start things off right, we toasted with a glass of Ayala Champagne. Because you should drink Champagne and not sparkling wine on Valentine’s Day! ;)

The next wine to the right is a Riesling made by Gainey. You can find their current release of Riesling here. The 2004 on the bottle worried me slightly, as I thought it might have been over-the-hill, but it still tasted great and was a perfect match for the Chicken Korma.

Then, with the Eggplant Moussaka, we drank a 2011 Stag’s Leap Petite Sirah (one of Andy’s favorite wines I had bought for him for Christmas). I would say this Petite Sirah is for you if you think you don’t like that particular varietal—because Stag’s Leap makes theirs so…velvety, soft and sophisticated.

You can find Breads from Anna on Facebook here, and on Twitter here.

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Thanks again to Nugget Markets for sponsoring our stay-at-home Valentine’s celebration. You can find them on Facebook here and on Twitter here.

valentines spread

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Drink Wine Day is February 18th, Celebrate with Tandoor Chef and Win a $250 Wine Gift Card

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Indian cuisine is one of the most interesting food and wine pairings. Tandoor Chef has recently developed a pairing tool to help you choose the best compliment (wine or beer) to their restaurant quality authentic Indian cuisine.

And to celebrate the upcoming National Drink Wine Day on February 18th, my friends at Tandoor Chef are giving away a $250 wine gift card. You can enter by clicking this link!

The purpose of National Drink Wine Day is to spread the love and health benefits of wine.  Wine has played an important role in history, religion and relationships.  We embrace the positive benefits of wine such as new friends, reduced risk of heart disease and the enhancement of food and life. I really didn’t need another reason to drink wine, but whoever came up with this holiday deserves a pat on the back and a big bottle of 2008 Opus One. ;)

Speaking of enhancement of food, Tandoor Chef has developed a line of gluten free items, which I will be reviewing very soon and doing a wine pairing of my own. They also have 11 selections under 300 calories per serving for those of you watching your waistline.

You can find Tandoor Chef on Facebook here, follow them on Twitter here, on Pinterest here, and on Instagram here.

Hope you’ll join us for National Drink Wine Day on February 18th and enter to win(e)! ;) Good luck!

 


Exploring Russian River Wineries and a Stay at the Applewood Inn


Meatless Mondays: Quick and Easy Roasted Red Pepper Soup

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We enjoyed this homemade soup (my own recipe) on Saturday night paired with delicious gluten free and vegan sandwiches from Pushkins Bakery. If you haven’t tried their “adult grilled cheese” or “the buzz”, please do. Both sandwiches are vegan and gluten free and are utterly delicious. It was fun to have a completely vegan meal for a change. :)

Ingredients:

1 large sweet potato (peeled)
1 large onion
3 to 4 large red bell peppers
1 head of garlic
2 shallots
4 roma tomatoes
1 quart vegetable stock

1 1/2  tsp cumin
1 1/2 red pepper flakes
1 1/2 tsp coriander
1 1/2 tsp paprika
salt to taste

1-2 Tbs olive oil per baking sheet

Procedure:
Preheat oven to 385°F.
Prepare 2 half sheet trays by greasing them liberally with olive oil.

before cooking potato onion
peppers

Chop all vegetables into uniform pieces. Place the onion and the sweet potato on one tray. On the other tray, you should be able to fit the chopped tomatoes, peppers, garlic and shallot. Important because the potato and onion will take slightly longer to bake. Bake the vegetables in the oven for about 40 minutes, checking to make sure nothing is burning and rotating them on the pan to prevent burning.

The peppers and tomatoes will be ready to remove from the oven when the peppers blister slightly and the garlic is roasted and tender. From the time you remove the peppers and tomatoes, leave the potato and onion tray in the oven ten minutes longer.

cooked potato and onion

roasted red pepper and tomato

other ingredients
In a blender, begin to blend all the vegetables. There will be more than one blender can hold, so blend a little at a time with the vegetable stock. Since you will be enjoying the soup, add the stock to the consistency you like (I used all but about 1/2 cup of the stock), as thick or as thin. Empty each round of blended vegetables into a very large bowl so that they will mix together.

Then add all of your spices and flavorings. The crushed red pepper, paprika, coriander, and the cumin and salt to taste. Stir the spices in the bowl manually. Then in batches, return the vegetable mixture to the blender and mix until completely smooth. Pour the smooth soup into a new large bowl.

This soup can be made up to a day ahead of time. Just simply ladle into serving bowls and reheat. I’m confident this will be one of the easiest, yet most tasty soups you will ever make! :) We paired the soup with a 2011 Handley Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley and a 2012 St. Rey Celeste, Candyhill Vineyards (Revolution Wines).

wine pairings


12 Days of Christmas Picks for the Food and Wine Lover: Tickets to the Zinfandel Experience

If you’re reading this, it’s actually AFTER Christmas now and I am late in bringing you my twelfth Christmas pick. Oops. I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas. If you are still looking for gift ideas, you’ve come to the right place. Maybe the gift you chose was a big fail and you need something completely different. I am here to help!

But first, a special shout out to Esther Price Candy in Dayton, Ohio. I ordered a one pound box of assorted chocolates for Andy and an eight ounce sugar free box for myself a few weeks ago to arrive in time for Christmas. Esther Price is Andy’s favorite candy and I order it for him as a special treat every year just for Christmas. Unfortunately, the box from Esther Price turned up missing at the UPS store. (Even though someone had signed for them at the store on the 19th of December, they were gone by them time Andy came to pick them up.)

I contacted Esther Price and they took very good care of me. They immediately shipped out a replacement order next day air with no charge to me! It was around 1pm on Monday the 23rd when I called about my missing package). By the next day (the 24th) at around 1pm UPS arrived with the candy. So very awesome!! Thank you for your great service, Esther Price. We got the candy just in time for Christmas! :) You can find Esther Price on Facebook here.

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Now for day 12 of my 12 Days of Christmas Picks for the Food and Wine Lover: Tickets to the Zinfandel Experience.

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The Zinfandel Experience features four festive, celebratory events over three days and offers a diverse selection of Zinfandel wines and styles from renowned producers and emerging wineries. The events also showcase Zinfandel producers’ spirit of collaboration and community. Set at the historic Presidio overlooking the San Francisco Bay and the iconic Four Seasons Hotel, the Zinfandel Experience is the largest single varietal tasting of its kind, bringing together top producers and wine lovers to celebrate America’s grape.

Over 100 ZAP producer members will participate in the 2015 Zinfandel Experience. Thirty-four winemakers will participate in Epicuria on Thursday, January 29 at the Golden Gate Club, Presidio of San Francisco. Over 30 winemakers will host tables at the Zinfandel Experience Dinner and Live and Silent Auctions on Friday, January 30, 2015 at the Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco. Over 100 winemakers will participate in The Tasting at the Golden Gate Club and the Film Centre, Presidio of San Francisco Saturday, January 31, 2015.

A 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, ZAP was founded in 1991 at a time when Zinfandel was the underdog with a cause. A small group of passionate winemaking pioneers and Zinfandel lovers joined to create a movement that would elevate the understanding and status of Zinfandel wine – rightfully establishing it among the premier varietals of the world.

Attending 2015 Zinfandel Experience is more than going to a fun and lively wine tasting event. It’s also about making deeper connections with others who love Zinfandel as much as you do. It’s about introducing your friends to a meaningful part of your life. And it’s about discovering new ways of bringing Zinfandel’s magic into the world.

Click here for more information on the event line up and ticket pricing.

You can find ZAP on Facebook here and follow them on Twitter here. The official hashtag for the 2015 Zinfandel Experience is ‪#‎ZinEx.


12 Days of Christmas Picks for the Food and Wine Lover: Josh Cellars Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon Duo

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It’s day ten of my 12 Days of Christmas Picks for the Food and Wine Lover and today’s pick comes from Josh Cellars. It’s their duo of Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon.

These are inexpensive to mid-priced wines, and a great gift for your boss, co-worker or neighbor. They are also wise choices to bring to Christmas dinner to share with the family.

The Sauvignon Blanc is a drink now and pairs well with a starter salad, cheeses and seafood, and the Cabernet Sauvignon you can enjoy now with a main course like this Salt and Pepper Crusted Prime Rib with Sage Jus! There are also definite aging capabilities on the Cabernet if you have the patience to wait. ;)

The Sauvignon Blanc costs around $17 and the Cabernet Sauvignon around $16. Both can be found at Total Wine and More.

For every bottle you purchase until Dec 31st, they will donate $1 to Operation Homefront and their special Holiday Meals for Military program.

Operation Homefront’s Holiday Meals for Military ensures troops and their families have what they need for a healthy and plentiful holiday meal. In 2014, they will be distributing 8,000 meals in 21 locations across the country.

About Operation Homefront:
A national nonprofit, Operation Homefront leads more than 2,500 volunteers with nationwide presence who provide emergency and other financial assistance to the families of service members and wounded warriors. Operation Homefront has provided assistance to thousands of military families since its inception in 2002. Recognized for superior performance by leading independent charity watchdog groups, nationally, 93 percent of total donations to Operation Homefront go directly to programs that provide support to our military families. For more information, go to www.OperationHomefront.net.

About Josh Cellars:
California vintner Joseph Carr’s line of Josh Cellars wine is named in honor of his father – a passionate stock car racer and war veteran who was as unassuming and approachable as the wines that bear his name. Josh Cellars offers bold, complex and approachable wines handcrafted for drinking with family and friends. Sourced from vineyards across the Napa Valley, Sonoma Valley, Mendocino County, and even the Central Coast of California, Josh Cellars offers six California varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Merlot and a new red blend, “Legacy.”

You can find Josh Cellars on Facebook here and follow them on Twitter here.

Tune in tomorrow for day eleven of my 12 Days of Christmas Picks for the Food and Wine Lover! Cheers :)


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