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Campo Viejo Streets of Color

Campo Viejo Reserva Art Series Bottle Event In Miami

Campo Viejo Reserva Art Series Bottle Event In Miami

It’s been said that wine is art in a bottle. I don’t know who said it, maybe it was me one night. However, wine is often art ON the bottle too. If you are a fan of art, or good red wine, and are in South Florida on Thursday June 5th, 2014, the Campo Viejo Streets of Color art exhibit and label release is an event you don’t want to miss.

From Rioja, one of the two DOCa regions of Spain known for consistent quality, Campo Viejo is a red wine made with Tempranillo grapes. The event tonight is going to be awesome, and you should try to make it. The Artists are creating a mural on NW 23rd Street and NW 5th Avenue. It will be inspired by the landscape surrounding the Campo Viejo winery in Rioja. You should celebrate the creation and the release of the Campo Viejo Reserve Art Series bottle.

The event will be held at

CAFEINA
297 NW 23rd Street
Miami, FL 33127

6:00pm
View live art installation created by OKUDA and REMED

6:30-8:30pm
Launch event featuring interactive Art

Enjoy the delicious red wine, and the awesome art!

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.

 

Wine Collecting Has Nothing To Do With Bestiality

Fraud in the wine World

Fraud in the wine World

If you don’t read Joe Roberts blog 1winedude, you missed the one where he likened wine collecting with bestiality. Ok, it wasn’t that direct of a reference, but he went there. He was referring to the Rudy Kurniwan trial, which has been covered in nearly every news outlet there is. In short, Rudy Kurniawan has been found guilty of selling counterfeit wine through the mail and engaging in wire fraud.

One of the victims of Rudy Kurniawan’s wine fraud scheme was William I Koch. I happened to know Mr. Koch, and have had the privilege of being in his wine cellars more than once. He’s a very genuine man, who has a fantastic collection of wine. He is very proud of that collection, and rightfully so. Mr. Koch has taken great offense to the fraud perpetuated by Mr. Kurniawan, and has said “I want to shine a bright light on this whole fraud to show how bad it is.”

Fraud in the wine collecting world

Fraud in the wine collecting world

Getting back to Joe, Joe believes that we’ll never stamp out fraud in the fine wine collecting world. He loosely ties the collectors desire to obtain a rare wine to being in an aroused state where they would do something irrational, such as buy rare wines that could not exist. Joe goes on to say this is similar to how people would agree to finding bestiality enjoyable if they were in an already aroused state when answering the question. Not a terrible article, bestiality reference aside! I am paraphrasing here, so read his article for the whole story. The point is, Joe feels that since collectors have this irrational excitement over collecting rare fine wine, the fraud is so easily committed it’s almost a self fulfilling prophecy.

I don’t think I agree with his angle, however. It’s not necessarily the collector and their excitement over owning the rare gem that promotes the fraud. Rather, it’s the fact that regardless of how we try to stop it, no matter what the safeguards, fraud can be and is still perpetuated. The penalties for these frauds are no where near as severe as the rewards when committing it.

Look at medicare fraud as an example. There’s no aroused collector in that situation. And there are various agencies committed to stopping the fraud. And yet, hundreds of millions of dollars are lost annually because the reward of the fraud far outweighs the risk of being caught.

Quivira Zinfandel Pig Icon

Quivira Zinfandel Pig Icon

It’s the same for the wine world. It’s not about Mr Koch’s excitement to own a rare bottle of wine. That isn’t why the fraud happened. Rather, it is because the benefit to Rudy Kurniawan far outweighed the risk. No collector can be expected to know everything about every producer and vintage of wine for sale. Heck, no Master Sommelier can be expected to know that. While I agree with a buyer beware sentiment, until the punishment far exceeds the benefit, fraud will continue in our society. And let’s leave animals out of this, we have enough critter labels in the wine world.

Dear Restaurants- Step Up Your Wine Game

Newly renovated Il Bellagio in West Palm Beach

Newly renovated Il Bellagio in West Palm Beach

Robin and I don’t go out to eat very often. Since we cook fairly well, and always have amazing wine on hand, why settle for something subpar? And, when we do go out to eat, it’s usually the same two or three places with unique menus, and a great wine list, or a corkage fee. However, after a fairly favorable meeting that will likely lead to a new job after my three month lay-off, we decided to go out. We stopped into the newly renovated Il Bellagio restaurant, which reopened a week ago in City Place here in West Palm Beach. The place was packed, so we decided to give it a shot.

The renovations were nicely done. Frankly, the place looked exponentially better than it had our last visit in November 2012. Oh, and thank you Foursquare, for keeping track of that information. The new bar looked great, a funky design and well lit, with two new wine coolers designed to keep the wine at (we hope) the proper temperature. However, that is where my excitement about wine stopped. Perusing the wine list, and specifically the by-the-glass list, I was so disheartened, I could have wept. In a restaurant that offers a price point of $30 per dish, you would think they could up their game just a little, and not offer low quality wines like Cavit by the glass.

Now, listen, there’s no doubt that Cavit has a market. There’s a big market for budget focused wines. And, some of them aren’t half bad. Robin drinks Barefoot Chardonnay as our “house wine”, and not just because I think winemaker Jennifer Wall is awesome. However, I find something insulting about restaurants pouring a $5.99 grocery store bottle for $7 or so a glass when their cuisine goes for $30 a plate.

I would think that any restaurant that wants to provide an exquisite dining experience would offer wines equal to the quality of food they serve. I know there are monetary factors involved, but I can’t believe it’s impossible to find a $7 or $8 by-the-glass wine that isn’t an insult to a customer’s sense of taste. As a restaurant, you are the sum of your parts. If your food and wait staff ROCK, but anything you try to drink with your food is terrible, you’re not doomed, but you’re in pretty poor shape. Try to offer your guests the best experience possible, and that includes what they drink with their meals.

Now, Il Bellagio has a half decent selection of by the bottle wines. There were at least two under $50 that were decent. However, we weren’t up for two glasses each, so that didn’t work for us.  Our meals themselves were fine. I just wish the poor wine selection didn’t leave such a bad taste in my mouth.

How about the wine list at your favorite restaurant? Are the by the glass options good? Or do you just love the food so much, you choke it down without wine?

 

Setting Wine Related Goals in 2014

Ring in the New Year with Pol Roger Champagne

Ring in the New Year with Pol Roger Champagne

Cheers, and Happy New Year! I hope 2014 finds you and your family happy, healthy and prosperous!

For me, I’m not making resolutions this year. I’m only setting goals. Some easy, some lofty, but all targets I plan on hitting! The first is to pass the Certified Sommelier exam in April 2014. The second is to make my new business, Crushed Consulting LLC, very successful. I have other wine related goals, that I’ll share and explore with you as 2014 unfolds. What is your most important goal this year? Leave a comment below, and lets help each other stay on track!

Inspiration Through Art

Enjoying the Oregon Sky

Enjoying the Oregon Sky

Inspiration comes in many forms. It can be visual, tactile, and even olfactory. Who hasn’t smelled a delicious holiday meal and been inspired to tolerate their crazy family for that one day? And, inspiration can come to you by land, by sea, and in this case, by air. I first stumbled across the “#Flyingstuff” artwork of Belgium born designer/photographer Manon Wethly on Instagram. Her ability to capture the sights of Europe was amazing. However, it was her casual toss of everything in the air, from breakfast foods to coffee, that I really admired. I asked her if she had ever thrown wine. She said no, but would give it a whirl.

Manon Wethly Photography of Flyingstuff Wine

Manon Wethly Photography of Flyingstuff Wine

For those that have followed me on Twitter or Facebook since 2008, you know that I can’t resist a photo of the sky. I find nature to be inspiring. I am lucky to live in a state where the sunrise and sunset are almost always spectacular. And when they aren’t, a quick trip to the beach makes everything better. Additionally, if you’ve been following me for even a day, and since you’re reading this article, you know that my passion is wine. And while I love writing about wine, sometimes a little extra inspiration makes the words flow smoother than a Napa Cabernet on a cool fall evening.

Manon Wethly Photography of Flyingstuff Wine

Manon Wethly’s photography captures wine beautifully

I truly enjoy these photos. Manon has captured wine in a unique way. It seems to defy gravity while painting the sky. I enjoy looking at these photos very much. I have already spoken with Manon about making one of these photos a piece of art in my house. Everyone captures wine next to food, or in a glass. Manon captures wine in the air, gracefully.

Manon Wethly Photography Flyingstuff wine

Manon Wethly Photography of wine in flight

For more of Manon Wethly’s photography, you can visit her site Clique-Chique! I believe she’s in the middle of negotiating a deal for her artwork to appear in various retail stores somewhere in Europe. I’ll get to say “I knew her when….”

Art and Wine Inspire Me - Photo by Manon Wethly

Art and Wine Inspire Me – Photo by Manon Wethly

Manon has been doing design and photography work for years. She has a design company and pulls from her every day travels for inspiration. So, what inspires you?

A look at the award winning olive oil from Pasolivo

Pasolivo Olive Oil From Paso Robles California
Pasolivo Olive Oil From Paso Robles California

I know I went to Paso Robles to cover the up and coming wine region. I know I was sent there to see what California was doing with Rhone varietals and share that information with you. However one of the very exciting things that came from my trip was a new love for olive oil, and I have Pasolivo to thank for that.

I did not know there are a good number of olive tree groves in Paso Robles. A future article will cover Still Waters Vineyards, where they have 100 year old trees on the property, in addition to fantastic wine experiences. Pasolivo has 45 acres of olive trees, 12 different olive varieties in over 6,000 trees, all of which are farmed organically and sustainably. However, what struck me about Pasolivo was not only the small business success story, with a small crew of people who pick, press and pack the oils by hand, but also the large variety of oils made and knowledge that went with them.

Lemon infused Olive Oil from Pasolivo
Pasolivo Lemon infused Olive Oil

Joeli Yaguda, the owner of Pasolivo is excited to have people in the tasting room and can’t wait to taste you on her artisan olive oils. She will explain the various flavors of the extra virgin olive oils, from grassy notes to peppery finishes. Joeli will break out the flavor wheel and explain everything that her olive oils may have to offer. Then you’ll get the chance to sample some of the infused oils such as lemon or tangerine and truly have your mind, and taste buds, blown away!

Mostly used for finishing oils, the tangerine and lemon oils are great. Infused with distilled citrus oils, they add huge flavor to salads, poultry and fish.  Plate up a delicious grilled fish or chicken breast with a nice salad, drizzle some citrus or lemon Pasolivo on top, and watch your guests eyed bug out while they proclaim you a culinary genius. Joining the “Press Club” entitles you to certain limited production oils, as well as a very well done booklet that includes recipes and ideas for using these great oils. One tip for the Tangerine oil was to rub it over turkey and season with rosemary.

Dating the Pasolivo Olive Oils
Dating the Pasolivo Olive Oils

I also learned two very important storage and preservation tips about olive oil. First,  extra virgin olive oil has quite a limited shelf life. Each bottle of Pasolivo, tin actually, is dated on the bottom, letting you know when it’s best used by.  Olive oil is best when used within six months of press date.  The oils you get in the grocery store may have spent a month or six in the warehouse before you had the chance to purchase, potentially impacting their taste.  Second, like wine, olive oil is light sensitive. That is why Pasolivo went through a number of bottle and tin packages, finally settling on an Italian option that best preserved the flavor of the oils. Joeli tried a number of local and US made options, but none were as effective as preserving the flavors.

Pasolivo Olive Oils have won a slew of awards, too many to mention here. The price is about $25 for a 300ml tin, representing the labor and cost intensive process to create these artisan oils. I’ve compared their prices to other producers in California, and they’re similar. While they’re more expensive than the mass produced olive oils you’ll see in the grocery store, they’re also fresher, higher quality, and a lot tastier. That said, I just finished my free sample and will order one of the citrus options, as I was so enamored by my visit.  If you try some Pasolivo olive oils, let me know what you think when your oils arrive!

MAXIM and Skyy WSWA Party

MAXIM - Skyy Spirits - WSWA Party

MAXIM - Skyy Spirits - WSWA Party

I am fortune enough to be covering the 68th Annual Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America convention & exposition. I’ve already found an incredible Sake for $9.99 retail, an amazing tequila I can’t wait to tell you about, an awesome vodka that’ll rock your socks off and a host of other things to share. However the first day of the conference ended with a little party hosted by MAXIMSKYY Spirits, and the WSWA. The DJ was pumpin out the jams and everyone was having a good time.  I’ll be giving you some fun and interesting information about wine and spirits over the next few posts. However, for now, check out the fabulous people at the MAXIM – SKYY – WSWA party and enjoy the photos.

Maxim Skyy WSWA Party lounge

The Lounge was Skyy Blue

MAXIM Go Go Dancer

MAXIM Go Go Dancers

Lovely Ladies of Maxim

Lovely Ladies of Maxim

Serving Shots Of America Honey

Serving Shots Of America Honey

Ladies Enjoying The Party

Ladies Enjoying The Party

Kissing at Maxim Party

Kissing at Maxim Party

Lovely Ladies at the MAXIM SKYY Spirits WSWA Party

Lovely Ladies at the MAXIM SKYY Spirits WSWA Party

MAXIM Skyy WSWA American Honeys

MAXIM Skyy WSWA American Honeys

MAXIM SKYY WSWA Party Girls

MAXIM SKYY WSWA Party Girls

Having Fun with MAXIM SKYY and WSWA

Having Fun with MAXIM SKYY and WSWA

The Girls of MAXIM at the MAXIM SKYY WSWA Party

The Girls of MAXIM at the MAXIM SKYY WSWA Party

I’ll return you to your regularly scheduled wine, and spirits information shortly.