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Sparkling Wine For your Valentine, That’s Amore

Amore, Italian for Love. That is what Valentine’s Day is about. It’s not about gifts, or fancy dinners out. Those things are nice, but Valentine’s Day is about love. And wine.

Valentine's Day Sparkling Wine -

Valentine’s Day Sparkling Wine

You can make a bold statement with a bottle of sparkling wine. From dry to sweet, there’s an Italian sparkling wine that’s perfect for you and your amore.

From Northern Italy and founded in 1887 by Francesco Mionetto in the village of Valdobbiadene,  Mionetto Prosecco Brut DOC is a great way to say I Love You. Made with 100% Glera grapes from the Veneto region, the Mionetto Prosecco Brut is ever so slightly sweet. The Italian sparkling wine is rich yellow color, with an aroma of white peaches.

Mionetto Brut Prosecco - a great sparkling wine for Valentine's Day -

Mionetto Brut Prosecco – a great sparkling wine for Valentine’s Day

There are lively bubbles in the glass, and you first notice the minerality of the wine, followed by delicious notes of pear and white peach. Mionetto Brut Prosecco is widely available, and can be found in retail stores for approximately $14.

Pink and Valentine’s Day sometimes seem synonymous, so a rosé sparkling wine will suit your amore perfectly. From the Veneto region of Northern Italy,  Lamberti Rose Spumante is made with 34% Pinot Bianco, 33% Pinot Nero, and 33% Raboso. A soft, light pink color, you will notice an aroma of sweet red raspberry and strawberry wafting from your glass. The tiny, fine bubbles are persistent, but not too firm, just a beautiful, delicate sparkle.

Lamberti Rose Spumante Sparkling Italian Wine for Valentine's Day -

Lamberti Rose Spumante Sparkling Italian Wine for Valentine’s Day

A touch sweeter than the Mionetto, the Lamberti Rose Spumante has a light, delicate palate of ripe red fruits. The hint of sweetness is brief, and the dry finish leaves you wanting another sip. Another $14 Italian Sparkling wine that can be found in stores and online.

As unique and interesting as the love of your life, Cavicchioli Lambrusco di Sorbara ‘Vigna del Cristo’ is an Italian Sparkling wine from the Modena region of Northern Italy. Lumbrusco is a wine that has different characteristics according to where it comes from, and there are  five Lambrusco DOCs, each with it’s own variety of Lambrusco grape. This affordable red sparkling wine is made with 100% Lambrusco di Sorbara, which is thought to be the highest quality Lambrusco grape since it is one of the more difficult ones to grow, having the lowest yields of grapes per vine, and thus more concentrated flavors.

Cavicchioli Lambrusco di Sorbara 'Vigna del Cristo' Sparkling Wine from Italy -

Cavicchioli Lambrusco di Sorbara ‘Vigna del Cristo’ Sparkling Wine from Italy

The Cavicchioli Lambrusco di Sorbara ‘Vigna del Cristo’ is a dark pink color in the glass, with an inviting aroma of dark raspberries. Those dark raspbery scents belie the dryness of the palate, however. Soft dried red berry, cranberry and raspberry make up the flavors of this quite dry but fun sparkling Italian wine. It retails for $17, and paired with some dried salami, would be a delightful way to start your Valentine’s Day celebration.

Our fourth Italian sparkling wine, the sweetest of the group, is also from Cavicchioli. The Cavicchioli 1928 Sparkling Lo Spumante is made with 100% Malvasia grapes, and the beautiful bottle hints at the flavors inside.

Cavicchioli 1928 Sparkling Lo Spumante italian sparkling wine for Valentine's Day -

Cavicchioli 1928 Sparkling Lo Spumante

An inviting aroma of white peach and white jasmine, the Cavicchioli 1928 sparkling lo spumante is a burst of white honeysuckle, white peach, and floral jasmine on the palate. It’s a very soft approach and mid-palate, the finish is medium in length, leaving a touch of sweetness lingering on your tongue.  Available in retail shops for only $14, this sweeter Italian sparkling wine is sure to please your Valentine.

Four Italian Sparkling Wines Perfect for your Valentie's Day -

Four Italian Sparkling Wines Perfect for your Valentie’s Day

Any of these affordable Italian sparkling wines would be a perfect way to toast to the love of your life. So, pop a cork, and toast to another beautiful year with your amore! Cin-Cin!


Why You Hate The Wine I Love

Pouring Wines for Blind Tastings

Pouring Wines for Blind Tastings

Just because I recommend a wine, doesn’t mean you’ll like it. “But, you’re a sommelier. You have to know what wines are good, right?” I’m glad you asked. My short answer is, “Sort of.” Please keep in mind that the definition of a sommelier according to Merriam-Webster is “a waiter in a restaurant who is in charge of serving wine.” Therefore, while a sommelier extensive knowledge of the wines and wine regions of the world, and likely has more passion for wine than some people have for their own children, they are not always going to recommend a wine that you fall in love with. There are several reasons why the next wine your sommelier recommends may not be your favorite.

Everyone has different sensitivity to various tastes. Some people favor sweet tastes, while others savory. Some may notice a hint of fruit flavor in a wine, while others  couldn’t pick out a pear note in a chardonnay if their lives depended on it. Therefore, when your sommelier recommends a bone dry riesling from Germany, and you’re thinking of the more off-dry, or slightly sweet, version that comes from Washington State, you can be sure there’s going to be disappointment when you take your first sip. However, this mismatched expectation will probably not happen frequently, as your sommelier has a focus on service and your ultimate satisfaction. They will do their best to elicit your preferences in wine, and find a suitable match. Therefore, we’re back to people’s ability to perceive flavors at different levels.

blind tasting wine for the court of master sommeliers certified sommelier exam

This Week’s Blind Tasting Wines

The genesis of this entire article was Monday night’s sommelier study session. Four of us gather on Monday nights, blind taste several wines to hone our skills, then study various wine regions of the world. This is all in preparation for passing the Court of Master Sommeliers Certified Sommelier exam this coming April. Each of us hit one or more of the eight wines we were blind tasting out of the park. However, it was the fourth red wine that threw two of us a major curve ball. I was one of those two, and the wine was actually one I brought to the tasting. How could this happen?

As I mentioned everyone has varying levels of sensitivity to different scents and flavors. When we first took a deep sniff of the last red wine, my immediate and audible reaction was “WOAH!” The other person who was taken by surprise looked at me and said “You did stay within the guidelines, right?” I smiled and assured her I did. There are very specific areas and varietals that are tested for blind tasting on the Certified Sommelier exam, and we are trying to focus on them to keep on track with our studies. However, I knew what she was thinking. The wine exhibited scents, and flavors, that would be found in a varietal from Chile, which is not on the exam.

photo 4However, the other two tasters did not get this note, a note of green pepper. They picked out all of the normal markers of the wine. They picked out cherry, cocoa, sweet baking spices, many of the hallmarks of a Napa Cabernet Sauvignon. However, myself and my bewildered partner could only smell and taste green pepper. So much so, that we both agreed the wine was picked very under ripe, and put our glasses down. It wasn’t until we mentioned what we could smell and taste in the glass that our colleagues noticed the green pepper notes too.

What does that mean? Does it mean our colleagues who picked out the normal marks of Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa have very acute palates and … sniffers? Or, does it mean that the two of us were more sensitive to the green pepper notes, and it overwhelmed any other scents and flavors in the wine? Well, there’s probably a bit of both going on here. I know that I’m extremely sensitive to Brett, which I mentioned when talking about the funk in wine and life. I have been unable to drink wines with the slightest hint of Brett, when others sing it’s praises from the hilltops. However, it could indeed be that the other two tasters were better able to discern the fruit and spice through the green pepper.

How does all of this wrap up? It wraps up by keeping in mind that the wine that your friends love and bring to every party you throw may be their favorite, even if you hate it. And, that could be because they prefer a different style of that wine than you do. Or, it could be that their sensitivity to sweet, salty, sour, and fruity are different from yours, and they taste something markedly different than you do. Neither of you is wrong in your preference. Afterall, it is indeed your preference, and no one can tell you it’s wrong. Not even a sommelier.


On Philip Seymour Hoffman, Addiction, And Wine

Philip Seymour Hoffman Died February 2, 2014

Philip Seymour Hoffman Died February 2, 2014

Philip Seymour Hoffman died of an apparent drug overdose February 2, 2014. Well known for roles in Capote, for which he won multiple acting awards, Charlie Wilson’s War, Doubt, Moneyball, The Master, and The Ides of March, Philip Seymour Hoffman had the ability to make us suspend disbelief, becoming engrossed in the characters he portrayed, and the stories he told. Unfortunately, he was unable to beat his addiction to drugs, admitting to being in rehab at the age of 22 during a 2006 60-Minutes interview, and again battling the demons in 2013, and succumbing to them yesterday.

There are some, many perhaps, that will spend little to no time thinking about the actor’s passing. They will wonder aloud why should we focus and feel bad for him, when scores of people die each day, in a similar way, and go unsung and unnamed. I can’t disagree with them, as the loss of life is tragic regardless of it being an actor, or a homeless man with nothing to his name. However, as actors are in the public eye, they are often thought of as role models by many. We look to them for cues as to the things we want to buy, the places we want to visit, and the things we want to do. So, when one of them dies from drug overdose, it’s particularly unsettling to think of the indelible mark they’re leaving on the masses.

Philip Seymour Hoffman was an addict, and so am I

Addiction runs in my family. We have fought the battle with drugs and alcohol, food, spending, gaming, and more. We’re not much different from the man who died yesterday. Luckily, most of us recognized our addictive personalities, and have found ways to avoid that which tempts us so deeply. You would think that I would not write about wine, or become a sommelier, if I had an addictive personality. Fortunately for me, my addiction is in areas far away from drugs and alcohol, and in an area that I’m more able to manage than not.

So, what does all of this talk about drugs, addiction and Philip Seymour Hoffman have to do with wine? It’s a reminder that we all need to exercise good judgement in life. Ensure that when you’re enjoying the wine recommendations from my site, you do so in a safe environment. Do your best to drink responsibly. Do your best to be a positive role model for the people around you.

Philip Seymour Hoffman leaves behind three children under the age of 11, and a partner of 15 years, Mimi O’Donnell. I only hope that this actor’s passing leaves behind a positive message for his children, and ours. A message that while you can achieve greatness, and be a master at your craft, you are still a delicate human, fallible, and in need of constant guidance. Never believe you’re above everyone, or anyone else. Admit your faults, work on diminishing them, and try your best to avoid the temptations that bring you down. Remember that none of those things need to be done alone. Your family, friends, and the community at large are there to help you. All you need to do is ask.

Wine, Chicken Wings, and Sriracha score a Superbowl Touchdown

superbowl snacks made with Sriracha Chili Sauce

Sriracha Chili Sauce

Sriracha is the hottest thing on the internet now. No, really, it’s hotter than Matt Cutt’s rant on Guest Blogging Is Dead. And, with the Superbowl coming up, every food blogger is talking about their Sriracha Appetizers for the big game. My favorite Superbowl finger food is chicken wings! So, I found three chicken wing recipes perfect for the Superbowl, two of which are made with Sriracha. I then, of course, paired wine with them, because that’s what I do. Touchdown, Sriracha!

I went with three red wines for the Superbowl appetizers this year. I’ve previously written about Wine and Wings, and stand by my pairing of Riesling with hot wings. Riesling is the perfect white wine to pair with spicy foods, as the fruit flavors and residual sugar balances the heat perfectly. However, some people don’t want balance, they want heat. And lots of it. So, I picked red wines that keep the heat hot. We’ll look at those wines after the wings.

Sriracha Oven Fried Chicken Wings from Honestly Yum Blog

Sriracha Oven Fried Chicken Wings

The first Superbowl appetizer hails from Honestly Yum’s Sriracha Oven Friend Chicken Wings recipe. Her complete hot wing recipe calls for Sriracha, butter, jalepenos and cilantro for the sauce, and cooking the wings on wire racks in the oven. She has this nifty method for making the skin crisp while baking, and it would have been cool if I was patient enough to try it!

Unfortunately, I was cooking three different types of wings at once, and had no patience for wire racks. I threw all of my wings on a cookie sheet, cooked them for 20 minutes, drained the fat, flipped the wings, and cooked for 15 more minutes, all on 475 degrees. They may not have been as FABU as Honesty Yum’s wings, but they were darned tasty. My son absolutely loved these wings, as did I. We didn’t garnish with jalepeno or cilantro, and they still rocked. These wings are not for the faint of tongue however, because they’re seriously hot!

harry and david blood orange marmalade and sriracha hot sauce chicken wings

Strange Bedfellows – Sriracha and Blood Orange Marmalade

The second Sriracha Chicken Wing recipe comes from The Little Kitchen. She puts together a sweet and spicy sauce for her oven baked wings that I liked. While I enjoyed it, I felt it was a tad light on the heat. Had I had time, I would have messed with the ratios a little, upping the Sriracha a touch, and reducing the Harry & David Blood Orange Marmalade a touch.

Sriracha Spicy and Sweet Chicken Wings

Sriracha Spicy and Sweet Chicken Wings

You definitely want to check out her blog, because she prepares the wings by boiling them first, then oven baking them. She claims it makes an awesome, crispy skin, and I am sure it does! Again, I didn’t do that, since I was pressed for time.

Though any old orange marmalade will do, I was very glad that I had a jar of the marmalade left over from my 2012 visit to Harry & David in Oregon. The quality ingredients made these Sriracha Spicy and Sweet chicken wings rock.

Garlic and Olive Oil base for Parmesan and Garlic Chicken Wings

Garlic and Olive Oil base for Parmesan and Garlic Chicken Wings

The last recipe that I made tonight was From Gate to Plate’s Parmesan and Garlic Boneless Chicken Wings. Oh. My. GAWD! Hands down, these were everyone’s favorite wings tonight. It wasn’t just the fact that they were boneless wings, because I used the same chicken in all three sauces. The sauce just rocked, and everyone agreed.

Roasting Garlic in Olive Oil for Chicken Wing Sauce

Roasting Garlic in Olive Oil for Chicken Wing Sauce

The Parmesan Garlic sauce required you to bake 8 cloves of garlic for 20 minutes, then mix together a number of ingredients with that garlic, like mayo, corn syrup, apple cider vinegar and more. I short circuited the process by using a small disposable aluminum baking pan, instead of a big cookie sheet for roasting the garlic. Worked perfectly. The house smelled AMAZING, like my Italian grandmother was cooking for the family. If I was Italian, that is.

Frying Chicken Breast Chunks for Boneless Chicken Wings

Frying Chicken Breast Chunks for Boneless Chicken Wings

This recipe has you frying boneless chicken breasts that you coat in flour, rather than actual chicken wings. I was a bit skeptical at first, because I don’t fry things. Ever. Not even eggs. Sunny side up, sure, but not fried. I digress!  I don’t have a deep fryer like she recommends, so I filled a cast iron skillet about 2/3 of the way with vegetable oil, put the burner on medium high, let it warm for 8 minutes, then began frying my chunks of chicken. I turned them once or twice, and cut into one after about 8 or so minutes frying. PERFECT! I call it beginners luck. So, after you fry up the boneless chicken breasts, toss them in the sauce, and mangiare. That’s Italian for EAT!

Pairing Wine with Parmesan Garlic chicken wings

Pairing Wine with Parmesan Garlic chicken wings

Now, what about the wine? I went with three very different red wines. One was a Garnacha from Spain, another was a Petite Sirah from California, and the third was a Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre blend from the Southern Rhone in France.

Spellbound 2012 Petite Sirah paired with spicy hot chicken wings

Spellbound 2012 Petite Sirah paired with spicy hot chicken wings

Though perhaps not the best example of Petite Sirah in the world, the Spellbound 2010 Petite Sirah from California was the best wine to pair with the hot wings. The fresh California fruit really balanced the heat from the Sriracha hot wings perfectly. The Spellbound Petite Sirah was a “Grocery Store Wine” that cost around $15. The aroma is ripe red raspberry, with hints of chocolate, and is very inviting. The palate is soft silky red fruit, not super complex or super structured. It’s definitely a California porch sipper, but I think it’s a nice wine and the hot wings are perfect with it – all fruit balances all heat!

Domaine de la Maurelle 2010 Gigondas red wine

Domaine de la Maurelle 2010 Gigondas red wine

The Domaine de la Maurelle Gigondas 2010 was a very nice, but very different wine to pair with the chicken wings. This blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre has a spiced black and blueberry aroma. The palate is medium mouth feel, dominated by earthy leather on the palate with dried red and black fruit, with firm tannin, as well as some menthol rounding it out. Old world wine all the way, yet nice with the wings. This Southern Rhone red wine cost $25.

Las Rocas 2009 Garnacha red wine from Spain

Las Rocas 2009 Garnacha red wine from Spain

Finally, we had Las Rocas 2009 Garnacha. Disappointed. This was a wine that in 2008 I was singing praises of. Now, I’m just going to say, skip it. The aroma is subdued red raspberry with hints of a leather bound book. The palate is fresh and ripe fruit, with some earthiness. However, there’s a green celery component that really is NOT pleasant. The $15 wine was too simple and yet too awkward to really get behind. However, I believe a nice Spanish Garnacha (Grenache) would be perfect with the Sriracha chicken wings, or the parmesan and garlic wings.

So, there you have it, three, well two wines that pair perfectly with chicken wings for the Superbowl. Whether you go for Parmesan Garlic or Sriracha hot wings, you’re sure to score with the three recipes I linked above. So, tell me, what’s your favorite wine for the Superbowl? And what are you pairing it with? Let me know below, just leave a comment! 


Wine, Steak and The Godfather Part II

review wine pairing napa cellars merlot 2007 and steak

Napa Cellars Merlot 2007

On Sunday night, we like to get ready for the work week ahead, have a comfort meal, and watch some TV. This weekend, AMC ran a Godfather marathon, which seemed perfect to watch while eating steak and drinking red wine. With The Godfather Part II as a backdrop, we grilled some delicious porterhouse steaks, and popped the cork on a wine that’s been in my cellar for a few years. Sipping the Napa Cellars Merlot 2007 with Michael Corleone was a perfect way to end the weekend.

How Do We Grill Our Steak?

We’re steak purists. This is not to imply we don’t like interesting and exciting preparations for our steaks. I’ve have some amazing steaks with sauces that could blow your hair back. However, when we pull out the Weber charcoal grill, we only season our steak with two ingredients. Those ingredients are salt, and pepper. We grill the steaks over a high heat for about 5-7 minutes per side, and pull them off medium rare. Then, we pour the wine.

Grilled Porterhouse Steak with Sautéed Mushrooms paired with Merlot  red wine

Grilled Porterhouse Steak with Sautéed Mushrooms paired with Merlot

Tasting the Napa Cellars Merlot 2007

Part of the Trinchero Family Estates portfolio, I’ve written about Napa Cellars wines in the past. This bottle was a sample that I received in 2010, so it’s been sitting in my cellar a while. I opened the Napa Cellars Merlot 2007 about 30 minutes before we were ready to eat, and poured 2 ounces or so into a glass. This allowed the bottle to open up a little, and I was able to sip on some of the wine while grilling the steaks. The wine was an opaque purple to garnet color in the glass, with an aroma of fresh blueberry and brambles. The palate was full, having great layers of blueberry and vanilla, with wonderfully integrated oak in the form of warming cedar and spice that is noticed on the mid-palate and finish. This wine really benefited from the 30 minutes of air, and certainly evolved over the next hour as it was slowly sipped.

Napa Cellars Merlot 2007 Pairs Perfectly With Steak

Napa Cellars Merlot 2007 Pairs Perfectly With Steak

Wine Pairing With Steak

We do tend to eat a lot of red meat, steak being on the menu at least twice a month. While we usually pair a Cabernet Sauvignon, we’ve been known to break out an Italian red wine for steak before. Merlot does not make it into our glass often, but not because we aren’t fans. Rather, it’s a wine we just don’t seem to grab from the shelves often enough. However, as the Napa Cellars Merlot shows, Merlot a great wine time and time again.

At $22, the Napa Cellars Merlot 2007 is aged in new and 1-year old American Oak barrels, is 100% Merlot and is 14.5% ABV. When Fred from Norcal Wine reviewed the wine in 2010, he recommended it, saying it would drink through 2013, though it’s doing fine in 2014 in my opinion. While you’re not likely to find the 2007 vintage in stores, I would not hesitate to try the current, 2011 vintage of this wine. Napa Cellars wines deliver time and time again, and at a price that’s more than reasonable.

What are your thoughts on Merlot? Let me know below!


Quick Sip: Robert Weil 2010 Riesling Tradition

“People talk dry, but drink sweet.” The first time I heard that, I was interviewing the winemaker of Barefoot Wine, Jennifer Wall. It came up again during a twitter conversation yesterday, regarding a newspaper wine review saying a wine was dry, when it was technically off-dry. (Yes, splitting atoms for most wine drinkers, I know…) It seems that while we would like to think we like dry wine, in reality, many of us prefer a little sweetness in the glass. And that’s why this Robert Weil 2010 Riesling Tradition is a perfect quick sip for today’s article.

A Little History of Weingut Robert Weil

The historic manor house at the Robert Weil estate in Kiedrich.

The historic manor house at the Robert Weil estate in Kiedrich.

Founded in 1875, the Weingut Robert Weil estate is located in the village of Kiedrich. Even at over 130 years old, it is considered one of the Rheingau’s younger wine estates. The village of Kiedrich itself has been traced back as far as the year 950. The estate is still in the Weil family, and the founder’s great-Grandson, Wilhelm Weil, is currently continuing the family tradition of making excellent German wine. The Robert Weil estate cultivates about 222 acres (90 hectares) of vineyards, which are 100% Riesling. Weingut Robert Weil was part of Wine & Spirits Top 100 Wineries of the year 2012 and 2013. If you’re wondering what Weingut means, it’s definition is winemaker and indicates that the wine was grown, made, and bottled on the premises. It’s similar to the French use of Chateau.

This wine was a sample sent to me by the team at Loosen Bros USA back in 2011. I was curious how it would taste with two years of age on it. Well made Riesling can last quite some time if stored properly. As a matter of fact, a friend of mine visited the Dr Loosen estate in Germany in 2012, and said that Ernie Loosen pulled out a bottle from 1973, and it was fantastic.

Tasting Notes for Robert Weil 2010 Riesling Tradition

In the glass, the color of the wine was a clear, day bright pale hay. The Robert Weil Riesling Tradition had an aroma of dried apricot and dried apples, and it really wasn’t a very expressive nose. With a medium to full body, flavors of crisp nectarine and white peach filled the palate, with a little honey, and hints of white jasmine appear on the finish.  The wine is quite balanced, it finishes crisp and clean, and even has some nice acidity.


Robert Weil 2010 Riesling Tradition wine review tasting notes

Robert Weil 2010 Riesling Tradition

Back to what I said earlier about drinking sweet even though we like to talk dry, the website speaks to that. “Produced exclusively for the U.S. market, the “Tradition” series offers the traditional range of Rieslings with sweetness, balanced by a crisp mineral structure. The Tradition QbA has a delicious array of fruits and is a pure pleasure to drink.” The Robert Weil 2010 Riesling Tradition has only 10% ABV (Alcohol by Volume), and residual sugar of 29.1 grams/liter.

At $25, I think the Weingut Robert Weil 2010 Riesling Tradition is a very good wine. If you’re a fan of sweet fresh fruit, you’ll love it. However, even if you talk dry AND drink dry, I think this is a Riesling worth trying.

What are your thoughts on German Riesling? Do you talk dry, but drink sweet? Let me know by leaving a comment below!

Dying For A Drink

hodges funeral home at naples memorial gardens offer wine cellar experience with funeral services

A Toast, To Absent Friends

Marketing seems to be all around me. It’s part of what I do to earn a living, and of course it’s in every message we see on TV, in the movies, and at the funeral home. Wait, did I just say funeral home? Yes, yes, I did. See, as I was leaving the office yesterday, a coworker told me about this new concept of a funeral home wine bar. I mentioned it on the way to dinner last night, and my son did a Google search from the back of the car. It turns out that Hodges Funeral Home at Naples Memorial Gardens is indeed offering a wine cellar experience while grieving your loved one.

I’m sure you’ve heard of an Irish Funeral. The story goes the Irish celebrate the life of the deceased, and have a beer, or thirty, to toast to the dearly departed. So, I’m not terribly shocked or awed by the fact that Hodges Funeral Home is providing the service of wine for people who are mourning the dead. It gives the family and friends the opportunity to gather, pay their respects, and then find a way to celebrate the life and memory of those who have passed on. It also allows people a slightly more relaxed and comfortable way to pay their respects. If you’ve ever been to a funeral service, you know it’s not exactly easy to say anything other than “I’m so sorry for your loss.” The idea of having a semi-social setting to help pay your respects seems somewhat comforting.

Celebratory services are something that Hodges seems to have already focused on. So, it’s not a big leap from those already offered services to something with a wine focus. The Drinks Business reports that Hodges Funeral Home will continue to offer traditional funeral services for those not interested in the wine cellar option.

So, what do you think? Is Hodges Funeral Home offering wine while paying respects tacky? Or, is it just another way to remember the life of those who have passed on? Or, is it just a marketing trick? Comment below and let me know your thoughts!

Is A $100 Wine Better Than A $10 Wine?

The Pepsi Challenge

The Pepsi Challenge

Upon finding out I was a wine writer and Sommelier, a new coworker turned to me saying “I have to ask, is a $100 wine really better than a $10 wine?” I smiled and start to answer, when a friend, who is my new boss says “Well, do you like Coke, or Pepsi?” Stay with me now, I knew where he was going.

The first consideration that goes into picking a $100 bottle over a $10 bottle of wine is the ability to taste the difference. If you fail the “Pepsi Challenge”, chances are you probably won’t appreciate the flavor difference in the two price ranges. However, once we discern you can tell the taste difference between the two, the question becomes is the price difference worth it to you. Everyone has a different threshold for luxury. Thus, it depends on what your “wine luxury” threshold is set to.

If you’re a mountain bike enthusiast, you can ride the trails on a $250 Huffy, or a $9,153 Santa Cruz Tallboy 2 Carbon XX1 Enev. You’ll still ride the same trails, but one ride is on a carbon fiber body and wheel assembly, and the other is on plain old metal. You may start and stop at the same place, but you certainly did it on a different level. If biking isn’t your thing, think Luxury cars, as Rob did. You can buy the $40,000 Nissan 370Z, or the $2 Million Pagani Huayra. Is there really a $1,960,000 difference in the way the car gets you from the house to the office? Probably not, but your luxury threshold causes you to buy one over the other. Luxury and taste aside, there are a few other factors that go into the pricing of wine to consider. And here’s where I got to geek out a little.

Grapevines at Trefethen in Napa, CA

Grapevines at Trefethen in Napa, CA

I have grapes growing in my backyard. They’re muscadine grapes, fairly common in Florida. They can be made into wine, and in fact, they are made into wine in parts of Florida. The wine tastes a little like cotton candy, and sells for about $10 a bottle. I wouldn’t drink it, but I could. Now, there are vines planted in Napa Valley, exposed to the perfect amount of sun, benefiting from diurnal temperature changes to maximize the ripening of the grapes. They are on premium land, and there has been generations of study invested in ensuring they are the perfect winemaking grape. They create wines that offer layers of taste, complex creatures that evolve over time in a bottle or in a glass. They sell for $100 a bottle, and I would and do drink them. So, while I would never consider buying a $9,153 mountain bike, my threshold for luxury related to wine is much higher than $10 cotton candy in a bottle.

Did I really answer the question of “Is a $100 wine really better than a $10 wine?” Probably not as completely as you’d like. In the end, it’s not that there are no drinkable $10 wines, and you have to pop $100 or more to get something worth drinking. That said, in my opinion, there is a definite quality difference between the two. There are complexities and facets of the $100 wine that make it fetch the higher price. However, I can point you to a killer Pinot Noir for $10 that’ll knock your socks off. So, in the end, it’s really a question of “what’s your wine luxury threshold?” Would you drink the Pagani of wines?