About Matt.mmwine

Sommelier, wine writer, and overall Motor Mouth, I appear on various TV shows, host local wine events, and write about wine, food, cocktails, family & more!
Website: http://agoodtimewithwine.com
Matt.mmwine has written 199 articles so far, you can find them below.

About Matt.mmwine

Sommelier, wine writer, and overall Motor Mouth, I appear on various TV shows, host local wine events, and write about wine, food, cocktails, family & more!

Find more about me on:

Here are my most recent posts

Sparkling Wine Selections for Your Holiday Party


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Conventional wine wisdom dictates you should always have a bottle of bubbly on hand, as you never know when cause for celebration will arise. That wine wisdom holds especially true at this time of the year, as we celebrate holidays, family gatherings, and of course, ringing in the New Year. Fortunately, there are a number of options available in every price range, so serving your family and friends a delicious sparkling wine is nearly foolproof. Whether a Champagne, a Cava, or a sparkling wine from Napa, pouring the perfect bubbly is simply a cork pop away.

Champagnes , and sparkling wines made in areas other than Champagne, France,  come in a number of sweetness levels. The most common levels are Brut, Extra Dry, and Sec, with Demi-Sec and Doux rounding out the five levels. Each denotes how much sugar is in the sparkling wine, with Brut being the most dry with less than 1.5% sugar and Doux being the most sweet with over 5% sugar. Today we’ll discuss Brut,  Extra Dry, and Sec options.

J Vineyards & Winery Cuvee 20 Sparkling Wine

J Vineyards & Winery Cuvee 20 Sparkling Wine

Our first selection comes from J Vineyards & Winery, the Cuvee 20 which is a Brut sparkling wine from the Russian River Valley appellation in Sonoma California. A blend of the three grapes Champagne can be made from, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, this dry sparkling wine has great flavors.  Dry on the palate, there are crisp lemon citrus flavors with a typical yeasty, doughy note. There’s a light floral and nut note as well, and the sparkling wine is fresh, crisp and clean. Perfect on it’s own, the J Cuvee 20 will pair nicely with appetizers or little bites, whether smoked salmon and caviar or popcorn and french fries. This wine can be found relatively easily, and retails for about $22.

Lamberti Prosecco Extra Dry Sparkling Wine

Lamberti Prosecco Extra Dry Sparkling Wine

Our next selection is the affordable Lamberti Prosecco from Vento, Italy. For about $14, the Lamberti Extra Dry Prosecco has a fabulous crisp palate, with flavors of lemon zest and amazing bubbles. Even though it’s an Extra Dry, there’s very little sweetness, and it must be on the cusp of Brut / Extra Dry. This is definitely a great option to offer as an aperitif, a little bubbly to serve to your guests as they arrive and get comfortable at your gathering. Perhaps a little less widely available, you should be able to go into any reputable wine store and ask them to order this, as the importers Frederick Wildman are fairly well known.

Mumm Napa Cuvee M Sparkling Wine

Mumm Napa Cuvee M Sparkling Wine

Rounding out our sparkling wine selections is the Mumm Napa Cuvee M. The sweetest option offered today, the sparkling wine is a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Pinot Meunier. You’ll taste fresh peaches and tangerines on the palate. There are also secondary notes of vanilla and honey, yet for all of it’s sweet flavors, this wine is far from cloying.  Perfect for the holidays, your guests will want to toast you again and again with this sparkling wine in their glass. Also perfect as an aperitif, the Mumm Napa Cuvee M is flexible enough to pair with spicy foods as well as creamy desserts.  This wine can be found in a broad range of stores, and retails for approximately $20.

Looking for the best sparkling wines for the holidays, whether a Champagne such as Pol Roger, or a Cava such as Rondel? While these certainly will fit the bill,  I’ll have a few additional selections available on my website in the coming days.  Cheers.

My PinotMoment – Best Pinot Ever?

Domaine Pierre Damoy 2000 Chambertin Clos de Beze

Domaine Pierre Damoy 2000 Chambertin Clos de Beze

I could not tell you the first time I fell in love with Pinot Noir. I’ve written about various Pinot Noir wines on the blog, and I’ve loved most, if not all of them. I’ve also not written about hundreds of other Pinot Noir bottles that I’ve enjoyed with family, friends and .. well .. alone. I’ve had the pleasure of visiting J Christopher’s Appassionata Vineyard, a joint venture with Dr Loosen in Oregon, producing spectacular Pinot Noir. I’ve also had the pleasure visiting Hahn Family Wines, which not only makes great Pinot Noir, but in 2008 was the first live video streaming tasting I did as a blogger. Those two fabulous wineries were actually part of the catalyst for making me fall in love with Pinot Noir again.

J Christopher and Appassionata pinot noir

J Christopher and Appassionata pinot noir

I actually visited both Hahn and J Christopher in the same week, which was also the week of my 40th birthday. My much better half, Robin, planned a fantastic birthday dinner, and it was during this dinner that my love for Pinot Noir was rekindled, or perhaps set ablaze. The meal was at Casanova in Carmel by the Sea, an old house turned into a restaurant that serves European food, Italian, Spanish and French styles. The menu is full of amazing dishes, and Robin and I had the best meal of our lives that night. Additionally, the wine list is quite impressive, and they do have a sommelier on hand to help with selections. After we selected our main courses, Robin having cannelloni with meat sauce, and I ordered rack of lamb, I slowly poured over the wine list.  There were a few 1970′s, and I was tempted to order one. I resisted however, and settled on what would be one of the most amazing bottles of wine I ever had. I selected a Domaine Pierre Damoy 2000 Chambertin-Clos de Beze, a Burgundy red made from, of course, Pinot Noir.

I will be the first to tell you that it’s often the experiences around a wine that makes the wine so good. The company you enjoy it with, the festivities surrounding it’s pouring, that’s what makes the wine so good. Of course, the wine maker and the grapes play a role, an important one, but the situation can take a mediocre bottle of wine and make it good, and a good bottle of wine and make it fantastic. Damoy makes great wine, and has for years. If you’re a ratings follower, Spectator has rated the Chambertin-Clos de Beze 90+ every year since 1998. However, it wasn’t just the grapes in the glass that made this wine spectacular.  It was pouring the right wine, with the right people, at the right time, that made it sing that evening.

Hahn SLH Pinot Noir

Hahn SLH Pinot Noir

The wine was a perfect fit for both dishes. It harmonized delightfully with the pasta, as well as the lamb. It was of feminine character, reminding me rose petals laced with black pepper, and was soft and sensual and inviting. We could have sipped on a second, and probably a third bottle, and enjoyed it well into the night. It was positively perfect, and I would love to get my hands on some to savor at a later date. However, what made this my PinotMoment was the fact that I was with someone I love, doing something I love, celebrating life. And that’s what wine is for me, something I love, and a way to celebrate life. So, raise your glass and toast to life with me.

Why not leave a comment below. When was the last time you had a Pinot Noir? Or celebrated life with wine? What’s your PinotMoment?

Is this wine refrigerator for you

New Air 12 bottle wine fridge

New Air 12 bottle wine fridge

When the good folks at Air and Water Inc asked me to review a wine refrigerator, I was very hesitant. I wanted to be sure that if I was not crazy about the unit, I could pass on the review. Instead, they were so confident that I’d be satisfied with the 12 bottle wine refrigerator they sent me, they told me to simply write honestly, regardless of my opinion. I admired that, and agreed, especially since I have friends asking me to recommend wine storage units all the time. This compact unit fit on my kitchen counter, which is a huge feat in a tiny house from 1940. The video below gives you nearly everything you need to know about the wine refrigerator and if it’s the right unit for you.

This unit may not be not the cheapest 12 bottle wine cooler you’ll find online, though that should NOT be your main criteria for buying a unit like this. The wine refrigerator I reviewed costs $159.99 from Air and Water, with a $30 price break right now making it $129.99. Additionally, using the code GOODTIME will help you save 10% if you decide to purchase the unit. The $30 price break has been online for about three weeks now, and an email from their marketing department stated the price for the unit is $129.99. As always, buyer beware, so check the price before you order.  I also checked the Better Business Bureau, and they are a BBB A rated company, and have been in business since 2001.

I liked the look of the unit, black with a stainless steel front. The temperature controls are simple enough, with an up and down button and a digital readout. I can’t vouch for their construction, and whether or not they’ll be able to go the distance. However, I recommend setting the unit at 55 degrees and leaving the controls alone.  Using multiple thermometers, I concluded that the temperature outside read 55 degrees while inside it read 51 degrees. Being a few degrees off won’t be detrimental to your wine, as this cooler is really meant for storing wine for serving, not long term storage. There was little to no vibration, and the fan was relatively quiet. Perhaps a little louder than a computer fan.

If you’re looking for a wine refrigerator, this may work for you. Again, I wouldn’t recommend it for long term storage for a variety of reasons. First, there’s no way to control the humidity, which is important for long term wine storage. Additionally, for long term storage I would want to be sure the temperature was at a constant 55 degrees with little to no chance for fluctuation. As the video noted, there was a quite a variation in temperature during my demonstration.  However, if you are looking to keep wine on hand, whether to get and keep it it at serving temperature for a party, or to always have a bottle ready to go when company pops over, then a wine refrigerator like this is perfect.

If you have any questions, comments or concerns, feel free to ask them below. I’m quick to reply to comments, and appreciate them greatly. I threw out a lot of concepts at the end of this post, including temperature, vibration, long term storage. I’ll have to follow up, soon, with why those matter to your wine.

Pass The Turkey – another Wild Turkey 101 Bourbon cocktail

Pass the Turkey by SkyySpirits

Pass the Turkey by SkyySpirits

Today, we’ll make a Thanksgiving holiday cocktail created by Master Sommelier Fred Dexheimer called Pass the Turkey. The recipe will be after the short video below, where I make it with you.  It contains Wild Turkey Bourbon 101, and some other Thanksgiving related ingredients.

Bourbon, which was declared as a “distinctive product of the United States” in 1964, has mysterious origins dating back to the late 18th century. Some attribute it to a Baptist Minister Elijah Craig, others to Bourbon County, KY distiller Jacob Spears. Regardless of it’s origins, bourbon is a spirit with very strict guidelines to make it that distinctive US product. It’s believed that some 90%+ of the world’s bourbon is indeed distilled and aged in Kentucky, though it can be made anywhere it’s legal to distill spirits.

Bourbon is made of at least 51% corn, though typically the mixture is 70% corn and the remainder being wheat and/or rye and malted barley. The distilled mixture is typically 80% alcohol, or 160 Proof, and it must be aged in new, charred oak barrels. What ends up in the bottle has been aged for various lengths of time in the oak, which gives it the color and flavor, and is always a minimum of 80 proof, or 40% alcohol.

Bourbon is of course, a whiskey, similar to Scotch, and is identified with the US as Scotch is identified with Scotland. Bourbon has a variety of taste characteristics ranging from apple and brown sugar to leather, smoke and even acetone. The length of aging and many other factors affect the taste of the bourbon, and the drinks they make.   Bourbon can be enjoyed alone (neat), on ice, or with a variety of different ingredients to form your favorite cocktail. I’ll try to create these and more in the coming months, and have you saying Pour Me Another!

Pass the Turkey

Pass the Turkey
Created by Master Sommelier Fred Dexheimer

1.5 oz Wild Turkey 101
2 oz apple cider
1 tbs cranberry jelly
1 sprig fresh sage
1 sprig fresh thyme

Muddle sage and thyme with apple cider. Add ice, top with Wild Turkey and cranberry jelly. Shake well, strain over ice in a glass rimmed with turkey jus and breadcrumbs.

Matt note: i took the leaves of the thyme and sage off the stems before muddling.

Thanksgiving Cocktail – Wild Turkey Bourbon Manhattan

Wild Turkey Bourbon Manhattan

Wild Turkey Bourbon Manhattan

All wine and no cocktail makes Matt a dull boy.  And variety is the spice of life. So, I’m interrupting our regularly scheduled wine post for one or two about cocktails for the holidays.

The good PR folks that represent Wild Turkey sent me a sample of their Wild Turkey 101 Bourbon. Not afraid to mix a cocktail, I pulled up a recipe for a Wild Turkey Bourbon Manhattan. I selected this cocktail based on the fact that I had all of the ingredients in the house, and I happen to enjoy Manhattans! I’ll list the recipe below the video, where I show you how easy it is to make. It’s a great Thanksgiving Cocktail, or a cocktail to pair with a cigar, or just drink on it’s own.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Do you like bourbon? Have you tried wild Turkey? Did you try the Manhattan? What cocktails would you like to see me post? Wishing you and your family Happy Holidays. Until next time, Pour Me Another!

Wild Turkey Bourbon Manhattan

Wild Turkey Bourbon Manhattan

2 parts Wild Turkey 101
1 1/2 parts sweet vermouth
1 dash bitters

Stir well with cracked ice and strain into a Manhattan or chilled martini glass. Garnish with a maraschino cherry.

Recipe and photo provided by Skyy Spirits (www.skyyspirits.com)

Forget Blondes-Bloggers have more fun

Wine Bloggers Ward Kadel, Matthew Horbund, and Thea Dwelle At Hahn Tasting Room

Wine Bloggers At Hahn Tasting Room

I don’t care what Rod Stewart says, it’s the bloggers that have more fun. Specifically the wine bloggers. We take our task of tasting, discussing, discovering and sharing wine seriously. However, we have a ton of fun doing it. We have fun when friends come over to taste wine with us. We have fun when we join others at wine events and dinners. However, perhaps the most fun the wine bloggers have is when they visit Hahn Family Wines in Santa Lucia Highlands, California. Don’t get me wrong, a visit to any winery elicits excitement and fun for a blogger (or any sane person), but Hahn has something that makes it very special, the Blogger’s Block.

During the 2009 Wine Bloggers Conference, a number of awesome winebloggers, including friends Thea Dwelle and Ward Kadel, pictured to the left, had the opportunity to not only visit Hahn Family Wines, but each had the chance to plant their own grape vine. They planted a block of Grenache,which they will one day help harvest and make into wine. And while they wine may not make it to your glass, it will certainly grace the lips of a lucky wine lover.

Wine Bloggers with Hahn Family Wines Vineyard Manager Andy Mitchell

Wine Bloggers with Hahn Family Wines Vineyard Manager Andy Mitchell

This May, I visited Hahn to film a television segment for Daytime, a nationally syndicated morning show. It happened to coincide with the Santa Lucia Highlands 4th annual Gala event where 30 wine makers showcase their latest vintages to adoring wine lovers. The good folks at Hahn decided to make it a Trifecta of Wine Love, and invited the bloggers back to see their vines. The bloggers also had the chance to tour the property, with a guided tour by Vineyard Manager Andy Mitchell, who discussed the various soils, grapes, and even the avocado grove. The tour ended at the blogger block where Hahn Wine Maker Paul Clifton opened a few bottles of Hahn Grenache and treated the bloggers to a taste of what their vines will someday become, delicious wine.

Hahn Winemaker Paul Clifton

Hahn Winemaker Paul Clifton

The fun didn’t stop at the blogger block, however. Next, the entire group made their way back to the Hahn tasting room, and had the chance to join the Santa Lucia Highlands Gala, and enjoy the wines made from the various wineries of the appellation.  Below you can watch the segment from Daytime, to see the fun that the bloggers had.

I don’t want you to think that only the wine writers can have this much fun. You can too! The Santa Lucia Highlands have a number of fantastic wineries and vineyards to visit. I had the chance to visit Hahn, Paraiso and Pisoni and not only tour their wineries but also meet the fantastic people behind the wines. In the coming weeks I’ll write a little about those visits, and also share the television segments we made of their fantastic families, farms and wines. I’d love to help you plan your next visit to California wine country. Then you can have fun like the bloggers do! After all, it’s A Good Time With Wine!

The Bloggers of Blockers Block

The Bloggers of Blockers Block

There were a number of other wine writers there. I hope I don’t miss any, but they included

Tim Beauchamp

Russ Bebe

Larry Chandler

Brix Chicks Liza and Xandria

Some more photos of Hahn and the Santa Lucia Highlands Gala

A few more Thanksgiving wine options

Got Turkey?

What do I pair with?

With Thanksgiving approaching, you may be scrambling to find some wines to go with everything you serve.  As I’ve said before, there’s no one wine that will pair with everything you serve, and more importantly, drink what you like on Thanksgiving. That being said, if you rather focus on your family, friends and the meal itself, you can leave the wine selections to me. I’ll offer two more options that I recently tasted as part of a sample review from Frederick Wildman’s various offerings.  I’ll also point you to some wines I’ve recommended in the past, because they’re tried and true.

Dr Loosen Erdener Treppchen Riesling Spatlese 2007

Dr Loosen Erdener Treppchen Riesling Spatlese 2007

I’ve always thought that Riesling is a great grape for the holidays.  I mentioned a few different producers in the past, though I do always think that a Dr Loosen wine makes a great showing.  From the $12 Dr Loosen Dr L to the $25 Dr Loosen Erdener Treppchen, they offer great flavors alone, or paired with food. I’ve enjoyed them with ham or other pork dishes, as well as poultry. Many of my family members love the easy drinking, fruit forwardness of the Dr L, especially with it’s crisp, clean finish.  It always makes an appearance on our holiday table.

El Coto Rioja Rose

El Coto Rioja Rose

If you are looking for an easy drinking “welcome” wine, look no further than El Coto Rioja Rosado 2009. This rose is a blend of 50% Tempranillo and 50% Garnacha, and is 100% great. With a fresh fruity nose of bright, brilliant strawberries, this $12 wine will be greatly appreciated by your guests as they settle in for the day. The nose carries through to the palate, with fresh strawberries and raspberries and mild acitity, making this wine a fun, light to medium bodied wine to sip on, or pair with appetizers and cheese.

Christian Moreau Chablis

Christian Moreau Chablis

Another interesting wine sample from Frederick Wildman was the Domaine Christian Moreau 2008 Chablis, which retails for about $24. I love Chablis for it’s crisp, pure expression of Chardonnay, and the opportunity to have my “I hate Chardonnay” friends eat those words, or swallow them.  There’s a crisp, steely nose with apple laced scents, which is followed by a medium bodied crisp palate of tart apple. There’s a bit of a citrus note, attributed to the firm acidity, but it’s a nice refreshing wine. This wine will certainly drink well with any fish or poultry dishes on your holiday table.

Ponzi Pinot Noir

Ponzi Pinot Noir

If you’re a fan of red wines, don’t forget a bottle of Pinot Noir. Whether it’s from California, Oregon, or Burgundy, a glass of Pinot Noir will go well with much of your holiday fare. It can be light enough to pair with your turkey, and full bodied enough to pair with any beef dishes. We had a bottle of Oregon’s Ponzi 2008 Tavola Pinot Noir with lunch last week, and it immediately made my “Thanksgiving Wine” recommendation list.  Great fruit mixed with an earthy smokiness that everyone at the table enjoyed. It paired with everything from croque monsieur to a french dip to a salad with grilled chicken. We’ll probably be serving a bottle of J Christopher Pinot Noir, also from Oregon, and a bottle of Hahn Estate SLH Pinot Noir, since we have them both stocked in our cellar.

By no means should you reserve these wines for holidays alone. And of course, this is not a definitive list of wines you can serve on Thanksgiving. Make a statement with dessert wines, whether a Sauternes or a Port. They will satisfy your sweet tooth without making you feel that you ate more than you should have. I’ll have some recommendations in the next few days, and add them for your sipping pleasure.

I’d love to know what you are serving for Thanksgiving! Do you have any annual traditions? Share them in the comments below!

What wines will you serve for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Is Upon Us

Thanksgiving Is Upon Us

Wine Experts are bombarding you with the perfect Thanksgiving wine ideas right now. You’ll see them on TV, you’ll read about them in the newspapers, and probably get an email or tweet about them. While I did indeed visit Kara Kostanich and the folks at CBS12 here in West Palm Beach to talk about wines that you can serve with your Thanksgiving Cornucopia, I rather point out a few wines that go well with the various dishes you may find on your table this holiday season, and let you pick which one you believe is perfect.

Thanksgiving is about, well, giving thanks, whether it’s for family, freedom, or the bounty we call our daily lives. It’s one time a  year that everyone stops and takes stock of what they have, and celebrate with friends or family or strangers in doing so. That celebration often takes the form of a large meal, and undoubtedly some libations. For us, that libation is wine, and pairing wine with food is one of my favorite parts of the feast.  Food and wine pairing is intimidating for some, and fascinating for others. While some may break out into a sweat trying to pick a wine that will go with your steak, I always love pairing food and wine and coming upon one that reminds me of a waltz, two parties dancing gracefully together in close proximity. This short video will talk about three of the wines, and I’ll have more information below about them, as well as three other options for you to choose from in another post.

Paul Jaboulet Aine Parallele 45 Rose

Paul Jaboulet Aine Parallele 45 Rose

The first wine in the segment was Paul Jaboulet Aine Parallele 45 Rose, from the Rhone in France. This $15 wine is made from three different grapes, Grenach, Cinsault, and Syrah. It’s light enough to have as an aperitif, but weighty enough to stand up to your cheeses, appetizers and even your main course, should you prefer rose wines. The nose is great strawberry with a light floral aroma. There is good acidity on this wine, which as I mentioned in the clip, lends itself to pairing well with food. There is a nice fresh fruit forward palate, strawberry and raspberry, with an almost citrus feel from the acidity. The finish is great white pepper and spices, and it balances the fresh fruitiness of the wine wonderfully.  As an aside, you pronounce Cinsault as San-Soh , not sin-salt as I mentioned in the video. Pair this wine with turkey or ham if that’s what’s on your table, as well as the various cheeses and appetizers you may have. Or, just sip on it and enjoy!

Oliver Leflaive Bourgogne Blanc Les Setilles

Oliver Leflaive Bourgogne Blanc Les Setilles

Next our holiday wine selection takes us to Burgundy, France, where we meet up with an Oliver Leflaive Bourgogne Blanc Les Setilles 2007, $20-25. Made from Chardonnay grapes, this Bourgogne Blanc is fermented in a mixture of 60% oak,10% of which is new, and 40% stainless steel.  What does that mean for you and your taste buds? You’ll experience some of the vanilla and spice from the oak, but the pear and apple characteristics of Chardonnay will still shine. There is a harmony of crisp meets creamy in the mouth, and this becomes an exciting and versatile wine. Of course, this would go with your Turkey, but also your fish, fried shrimp or gator tail (hey, we’re in Florida).  We did our tasting with roasted chicken and potatoes with rosemary and garlic, and it was fantastic.

Coto de Imaz Rioja

Coto de Imaz Rioja

Finally we have Coto de Imaz Rioja 2004 Reserva. This red wine, made from 100% Tempranillo and aged 18 months in oak and another 24 months in bottle comes from Spain, and will certainly grace our holiday table this year. On it’s own, it has flavors of dark fruit and leather, and is quite dry. However, when paired with beef, the palate was a silky indulgence of chocolate and coffee mixed with earthy flavors that just were amazing. For a $20 wine, there was great complexity that beckoned you to take another sip, and another bite, to discover what flavors would show next.  If your family has a beef dish, such as prime rib or perfectly grilled steaks, or perhaps serves roasted lamb, this is your go-to wine.

The three wines I discuss were all provided by the folks at Frederick Wildman, importers of fine wines. While they were indeed provided as samples, this in no way influenced what I spoke about on TV, or what I post here. I freely selected the wines, based on what I like and what I support, and there was no influence or pressure to do discuss them.

I leave you this something Richard Auffrey said quite well - dont be merely a glutton. Find ways to not only be thankful for what you have, but also to give freely to others. Regardless of how hard your year has been, or how difficult things may be for you, there is someone, somewhere, who could greatly benefit from whatever charitable act you can muster. Whether it’s a monetary donation, articles of clothing, or your time at a local shelter or soup kitchen, someone needs what you have to offer. Please, offer it this holiday season.