Thursday, August 2, 2012

Tease your Tastebuds and Wrap Your Tongue Around This…

A Portland summer just wouldn’t be the same without experiencing the Best of Oregon Food and Wine Festival, and this weekend you can help support the Oregon Food Bank by drinking and tasting some of Oregon’s best offerings at the 4th annual charity extravaganza taking place at Meriwether National Golf Course on Saturday, August 4th, from 3:00-8:00pm. Over 40 local restaurants, world-class wineries, premier brewers and distilleries will be lined up to knock you over with their very best.

Seize the chance to experience Oregon’s finest with grand brands like
Archery Summit, Van Duzer and Willakenzie Estates, as well as an opportunity to discover virtually unknown wines from artisan producers like Omero Cellars and one of my new favorites, Kandarian Wine Cellars. Even Southern Oregon will be representing; break out of the Pinot Noir box and sip Merrill Cellars Cotes du Rogue and enjoy southern belle Abacela, who hopefully comes armed with Albarino. Restaurants such as Allium Bistro, Pazzo, the intriguing Theorem and Dundee newcomer Paulee are prepared to dazzle you with mouthwatering goodness while crowd-pleasers like Republic of Jam will jam you over with their jamtastic creations. The list of participants goes on and on, you’ll have to see and taste all it for yourself. Believe.
While the main festival takes place this Saturday, you can take advantage of Friday activities as well. There promises to be something for everyone as unique culinary cultural event provides party-goers with options for celebration. For golfers, a charity golf tournament takes place on Friday, August 3rd. Prizes will be awarded to the foursome with the best score as well as the longest drive and closest to the pin. Event sponsor, Kuni BMW will award a three-year lease to the first to get a hole-in-one on a designated hole. Put together your dream team and tee off at 2:00 pm following the shotgun start, then stick around for the cocktail party which follows at 6:00 pm. Or, skip the tourney all together, and even the main event, and just enjoy Friday night cocktails as the sun sets across the course. Individual ticket options are available for any and all activities.

Attendees will receive a commemorative glass and enjoy entertainment from Grammy-nominated artist Patrick Lamb. There's still time to purchase your tickets culinary genius awaits you.

Dates and Times:
8/3/12: Golf Tournament and Cocktail Party
Golf Tournament tees off at 2:00 pm
Cocktail Party starts at 6:00 pm

Food & Wine Festival 
3:00-8:00 pm

5200 SW Rood Bridge RdHillsboro, OR 

Ticket Prices:
Tournament, Cocktail Party and Festival: $110.00
Tournament Only: $80
Cocktail Party Only: $25
Festival Only: $45

Friday, June 22, 2012

IPNC: The Weekend to End all Weekends

Wide selection of fine wines, including kosher wines.

You dream in shades of burgundy. To you, sexy legs are the ones that coat the side of glass, streaking the fine crystal with signs of viscosity. A nose is less a prominent feature on a face, but more so the fruit and spice characteristics that waft up from the glass, enrapturing your heart as well as your olfactory system. Age refers not to how many years you have tucked under your worn belt, but the length of time from creation you’ve been able to save that special bottle until it’s reached its moment of perfection, when you share it those you hope will appreciate it.

Traveling the world and tasting the finest in wine and food is a part of your lifestyle, yet you want to learn more… you seek out knowledge in order to better understand the luscious liquid that fills your glass. Maybe you’ve read about soils, have an inkling of terrior, visit various regions by way of jet plane (or your local wine shop), readily absorb cues from the wine with respect to aromas, textures, flavors… yes, clearly you’ve been bitten by the Pinot Noir bug.

If any of the above description resonates with you, chances are you may have already signed up for this year’s International Pinot Noir Celebration (IPNC), a showcase for both the world’s finest Pinot noir and the Northwest’s farm-to-table style of cuisine. If you’re new to wine and food appreciation, perhaps the extravaganza has yet to enter your field of vision. If the latter is your story (or it you're still busy figuring out your summer plans), I have one piece of advice: Pull out your bucket list and add this to the top, now (if it’s not yet sold out that is).

Preeminent winemakers, wine lovers, educators, revered regional chefs and epicureans from all over the globe will gather together in McMinnville Oregon for the 26th annual event that is the absolute foremost in wine weekends. This year’s IPNC, scheduled to take place July 27-29, will land you smack dab in the heart of Oregon wine country exploring everything Pinot noir for three full days. With featured wineries from the North America, Europe and the Southern Hemisphere, this is your rare chance to taste them all side-by-side and get to know them all intimately. Enjoy vineyard tours, a grand seminar by Burgundy expert Allen Meadows, and welcome keynote speaker, actor and wine producer, Kyle MacLachlan.

In addition to tasting a wide world of Pinot, you can learn about how geology, geography, climatology, international relations and anthropology all relate to the Pinot noir grape through engaging seminars from the world’s foremost authorities on the subjects at the event’s University of Pinot. Explore walkabout tastings, movie screenings, book signings, alfresco breakfasts and lunches, a grand dinner as well as the renowned and much anticipated Salmon Bake…whatever floats your cork.

If the whole weekend isn’t in your budget, you can still experience a taste of the event with a Sunday walkabout ticket or a Pre-IPNC dinner only. Though there are many interesting dinners on the list to chose from, my personal favorite is always Anne Amie’s annual Counter Culture; a celebration of international wineries and urban street food. This casual atmosphere welcomes some of Portland’s most coveted restaurants alongside wines from local and way beyond, with breathtaking views and relaxing grounds to soak it all up from. As night falls, a bonfire is lit and fire dancers have been known to make their appearance, dazzling the audience while adding an air of mystique and excitement to the already magical evening. The whole IPNC weekend is utterly enchanting, you might even feel like you've died and gone to Pinot heaven. Join me there.

Monday, June 18, 2012

A Winelovers Guide to Getting Lucky…

Fine wine and great spirits too!

Ok, confession time: It's true, I’ve been feeling oh-so-lucky lately. Almost like providence has finally stepped in to dance with my intention, whispering in each others ear, conspired together to make all my dreams become reality. Romance has made a surprising but exceedingly welcome entrance into my life, and as if that’s not enough, after a year-long search, I’ve gained stable employment again (this time with benefits to boot, yet another stroke of good fortune)! Counting my blessings, I'm never one to look the gift horse in the eye. I'm going to acknowledge its presence, choosing to mount that noble steed and ride on its bare back with the wind blowing through my hair as said horse gallops through the valley of my existence… lest I get trampled.

My recent auspicious state actually brings to mind a few things: Like maybe it’s time to start playing the lottery or visit a casino or try my hand at online poker, but I know the old adage, lucky at cards, unlucky at love. So maybe it’s just time to raise my glass and celebrate with a toast of the perfectly appropriate wine.

While a good bubbly might be the obvious and tasty choice for celebration, I have something a little less conspicuous in mind. Whether you’re like me and have felt good fortune land upon your shoulder like a the warm arm of a dear friend or are trying to invoke the spirit of Lady Luck herself, my recommendation is to fill your glass with Lucky Edition Evolution from Sokol Blosser ($15).

You might be wondering if a wine can really bring you luck. While it probably won’t change your life, it just might become your favorite summer white and make you feel like it has. Lucky Edition Evolution is a delightful blend of nine different varieties of white wine, crisp and bright, exhibiting flavors of peach, lemon-lime and tropical melon. The winery thinks of it like a four-leaf clover or a horseshoe, a charm blessed with positive vibe and good fortune. Forget about keeping your fingers crossed behind your back, that's practically yoga. And that lucky pair of stinky socks with a hole in the toe you’re afraid to wash because they’ll fall apart if you do? Throw them out and invite kismit into the room with a glass of aromatic and refreshing Sokol Blosser Lucky Edition Evolution wine instead. I’ll be here waiting when you thank me.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Your Cure for a Rough Day at the Office

Come on in and let me pour you a glass. After a day like today, I know exactly what you need, a good stiff drink. Not just any drink will do, but I happen to know just the thing to put you at ease.

I slip off your shoes, give your aching feet a firm squeeze and your body begins to relax ever so slightly. Your resistance is low, your brain is tired and you’re not going to fight with me. I know this and I also know that what I pour for you is a bit out of the realm of your typical drink, but you succumb to my better judgment.

Expecting a glass of wine, you jiggle the glass, and the sound of the ice cubes tinkling excites your exhausted state. You take a sniff and your long day melts away as you slip off into the exotic aromas that only exist elsewhere… far, far away. You’re now under my spell… really the spell of Cana’s Feast Chinato D’Erbetti.

After a day like today, you need something stronger than a simple glass of wine, and this one is anything but simple. Cana’s Feast Winery, located in Carlton Oregon, produces a Nebbiolo-based wine that’s been blended with grape neutral spirits from Clear Creek Distillery, sugar and hypnotic infusions of over 18 different aromatic herbs, spices and plants. The Cana’s Feast Chinato D’Erbetti ($45), the first domestic version of this historic Italian beverage, was inspired by the traditional Barolo Chinatos from Piedmont and has its roots in old-world traditions and folk medicine. It’s a cure all, or at least a cure to a rough day. 

Combining time-honored Vermouth making methods with classic naturopathic extractions for herbal medicine, the result is a fortified wine with a prescription for contentment. The wine is magical all on its own, sipped slowly after a meal, but to make a troubling day vanish into a sea of minutia like a flash of green as the sun hits the ocean, mix the Chinato into your favorite cocktail and savor the moment. Give an Old Fashioned a new twist, add a shot of Chinato and breath new life into a classic drink… I love the way the Chinato enhances a good whiskey (and vice versa). Take DIY bartending to a new level and try some of these creative cocktail recipes by Portland's top Mixologists. Next time you need an escape, try a glass of the Chinato D’Erbetti and discover a new world through an Old-World wine. it's just what the doctor ordered.


This post was written for and inspired by Wine Blogging Wednesday (WBS) challenge #77 to write about what wine you would drink after a bad day at work, hosted by none other than A Glass After Work. And while actually I’m posting this piece a day after the WBW challenge, if you knew the kind of day I had yesterday co-hosting #WineChat with Frank Morgan of Drink What You Like, you might grant me a little leeway, if not pour me a good strong drink, and rub my feet.

Full disclosure, I actually work for Cana’s Feast Winery (managing their Marketing and Social Media), so my knowledge of this unique and memorable wine is rather intimate. When I saw the WBW challenge though, I knew there wasn’t anything I’d rather drink after a rough day at the office and thought the rest of the world would benefit by the knowledge of this tasty little cure-all, even a day late.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Pinot and Pooches Unite at Oregon Winery

Memorial Weekend is like the shot heard round the world for the opening of wine season in these parts… well, the shot heard round Oregon anyway. Many wineries that don’t keep regular tasting room hours will throw open their cellar doors this weekend while most others will be offering special events and/or wine discounts. Typically a crowded weekend in Oregon wine country, Memorial Day weekend provides a fantastic opportunity to both visit some lesser-known wineries and to stock up on summer wines.

Though certainly not lesser-known, this year the incomparable WillaKenzie Estate (one of Wine and Spirits Magazine’s Top 100 wineries of the world for 2010 and 2011) is doing something really unique and worthwhile. Taking advantage of a surge of foot traffic on the holiday weekend, they’ve partnered with the Oregon Humane Society to create the “Pinot and Pooches” Pet Adoption event. Dog and wine lovers unite this weekend only with a goal of placing all the pets into the arms of loving families and stable homes. WillaKenzie Estate Winery's Owner Bernard Lacroute says, "Every animal is entitled to a good home. Our dogs Beasley and Iko here at WillaKenzie Estate Winery, enjoy the life that every dog deserves. We support the Oregon Humane Society and hope to provide each and every dog the opportunity to live like Beasley and Iko."

On May 26-27 from 11-5pm, visitors will taste WillaKenzie Estate’s wines (including their newly released 2011 Pinot Gris) and visit with shelter dogs desperately in need of good homes. If you’ve at all been considering getting a new dog, what better time than this event to cement that decision? If bringing home a new loveable scamp isn’t part of your grand plan, come give a dog a hug (we all need love), walk them through the vineyard and perhaps you’ll want to change your plans. 

This isn’t the first time WillaKenzie Estate Winery has partnered with the Oregon Humane Society, this past year they dedicated 10% of all sales on their Clos Marco Chardonnay to the organization in honor of their late vineyard dog Marco. Event Manager Claudia Bowers speaks about the winery's decision to partner with the non-profit organization, “Being ardent animal lovers, we chose to support the Oregon Humane Society because of their hard work and dedication to helping those animals that can’t help themselves.” Come do your part, if you can’t provide a home, you can simply buy a bottle. Tell a friend, maybe someone you know has been thinking of adding a new member to the family. 

Pinot and Pooches Memorial Day event is just $15 per person (free for Cellar Club members and up to four guests) and includes tastings of their 2011 Pinot Gris, 2009 Clos Marco Chardonnay, 2010 Pinot Meunier, 2009 Pinot Noir Kiana, 2009 Pinot Noir Emery and the 2009 Pinot Noir Aliette; along with foods like Sweet Briar Farms Grilled Pork Sausages with House-Made Rosemary Focaccia and a Mediterranean Salad by Chef Gabe Gabreski of A Cena Ristorante, as well as a variety of gourmet cheeses.

Visit their website for more information and to purchase your tickets.

**An Important Note About Visiting Dogs**
Although they are a dog-loving winery, they are asking that you do not bring your own pooch to this Doggie Adoption Event. They would like the shelter dogs to be the center of attention, and to make sure they are as comfortable as possible without additional stress other dogs may cause. Thank you for understanding.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Yes, Red Wine in the Fridge. Really.

Taste the best in fine Italian wine, on deal now.

It seems like a lifetime ago when I was just getting started in the wine industry, with so much to learn about tasting wine, making wine, selling wine. Not much has really changed. I worked for a small, family-owned winery back then where it wasn’t easy to find the confidence to voice my opinion amidst the group whom I’d known had been immersed in wine for what seemed to me like eons.

I remember a day when I was filling in for the tasting room manager (one wears many hats in a small business – communications manager one moment, receptionist the next and tasting room manager the next) and performing the closing duties. I got to the part where I was supposed to preserve the open bottles of wine for the next day. While I would have much preferred to take those open bottles home and put them to good use, that wasn’t a financially sound option. Instead, I pumped a steady stream of nitrogen gas down the neck of each bottle and stuffed the cork tightly back on. Into the fridge went the whites, while the red wines were returned to their position on the tasting room bar, lined up like bunch of beauty pageant contestants. At that moment, if someone had been standing next to me, they might have seen the light bulb illuminate over my head. The thought going through my mind… If the refrigerator preserved the white wines, wouldn’t it do the same for the reds?

At the next staff meeting, when I suggested perhaps the red wines should be refrigerated each night just like the whites, the winemaker and assistant winemaker looked at me for a moment, before slightly nodding their heads in agreement. “Yeah, I guess that’s a good idea” was their reply.  Really? Had no one thought of this before. Years later, after I’d moved along to another winery and then into business for myself, I found myself recalling this moment and wondering if that best practice has been preserved like a valuable bottle of wine.

So, this all came streaming back into the forefront of mind last week when I had the pleasure of attended an industry tasting of over 100 bottles of wine and was able to take home a few of my favorites. With six open bottles of wine, I invited friends over to taste, but between my busy schedule, and theirs, there was more open wine bottles than people to consume them. I wondered how long the wine could last before becoming oxidized and undrinkable.

Fast forward a bit… I was mentioning to a friend that I was taking a risk and drinking a four-day-old wine that night, when he advised me to be careful and not to get sick. “It’s not milk” I replied. I told him I’d vacuum sealed the bottles and stored them in the fridge, and though they were perhaps not optimum, they should hold up okay, but it was a test. “Red wine? In the fridge?” he asked surprised (this coming from a man who had cooked bottles of Chateau Lafite Rothschild from 1960's in his collection). “Of course, you should always store your unfinished bottles in the fridge, even Port,” I said, realizing at that moment that what I’d thought was common sense really wasn’t that common at all. “Not only does it reduce oxidation but it also reduces the chances that acetic bacteria will spoil the wine,” I added. It also occurred to me not everyone has the dilemma of storing open bottles of wine. Often time people finish their bottle each night and don’t have to worry about how to save the remaining for future use, but that’s not always the case.

While air is a wine’s worst enemy, high temperature is no friend either. Pop a cork and you can rest assured that your wine is now vulnerable to both. While we instinctively put our white wines in the fridge to preserve them, partly because it's common knowledge to serve white wine chilled, not everyone would think to do the same their opened bottles of red. I can tell you though that this simple method is the best and easiest way to ensure that bottle will be as enjoyable next time you remove that cork. Don’t discount the wine vacuum though. The recipe for wine preservation should be a two-step process. Suck out all the air before you store it in the fridge. 

Through experimentation, I’ve learned that older vintages will survive a bit longer than young wines. And while I would certainly not recommend that anyone should try to store an opened bottle of wine for four days (yeah, it wasn’t good), with proper technique and attention (though it may deteriorate some), it should definitely be drinkable for a good two or three days. As with any rules, there are exceptions, and Bubbly is always the exception. Don’t ever try to save an open bottle of sparkling wine, it will only lose its sparkle. If you can’t find anyone to help finish the bottle, call on me. I’ll do my civic duty and volunteer my services to rescue your Champagne from impending death. It’s all in a day’s work. Call me a superhero, call me the wine rescuer… just call me.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

No Person Hungry in Portland - A Food and Wine Mecca

A foodie's dream come true, Taste of the Nation was created to bring awareness and raise money to stop childhood hunger. 5,000,000 calories later, I'm still digesting this concept. This year the event changed venues from Luxe Autoworks to the sun-dappled Jeld-Wen Field, and since the weather was especially accommodating (it was practically summer), one could almost feel the energy coursing through the breezy air. Thrill and excitement could be seen and felt by all who attended, worn like clothing on the bodies of those waiting for their entry, their next bite and their next drink.

The event is a showcase for local culinary artistry. Top chefs come out in the name of a worthy cause and don't hold anything back. Some of them are risk takers—huge props to Aviary on their Fried Pig Snout with Pickled Fennel, Hard-Boiled Egg and Mustard Creme Fraiche and La Calaca Comelona for their Octopus Stew atop a Slice of Green Apple. Some stay in their comfort zone, like the esteemed Joel Palmer House with everything mushroom, who still managed to throw out a few surprises with their mushroom desserts, like the tasty Candy Cap Mushroom and Madeira Milkshake.

A feast for the eyes, not only the belly, there's food in cups, on spoons, square foods, round foods and everything in between. Do I need to even mention the sweets? Top visual honors go to Otto for their Egg Cake (which wasn't really an egg at all) and Andina on their Causitas Maki (though I didn't care much for the texture when it hit my mouth, much preferring the taste of their Empanaditas de Lomo Saltado instead).

If I were to give out awards for favorite bites of the night, it would be a tough call, as there was literally a concourse of comestibles. Foods so scrumptious, they'd tempt you to eat more (like the little devil on your shoulder), even while your belly was screaming that is was so full another mouthful might make it burst. My most esteemed entrees of the evening were Aviary's Deep Fried Pig Snout, Boke Bowl's Asian Steamed Buns, Ned Ludd's Rabbit Confit, Biwa's Karokke, Circa 33's Mushroom Forest, Departure's Honey Chicken Buns, Irving Street Kitchen's Potato Latke Salmon Gravlax with Apple Butter and Herb Creme Fraiche and Portobello Vegan Trattoria's Beef Tartare with Cashew Cheese. Wow.

Top wineries were on hand to enhance the tasting experience, of which I particularly enjoyed the Bergstrom 2010 Old Stones Chardonnay, Elk Cove 2011 Rosé of Pinot Noir, Argyle 2008 Brut (who could turn down a glass of their bubbles?), Owen Roe Ex Umbris Syrah, Cana's Feast 2009 Barbera and Seven Bridges 2008 Malbec. If wine didn't put a smile on your face, local breweries were pouring beer and cider, and distilleries were also sampling a multitude of spirits and cocktails which seemed to leave imbibers with ear to ear grins.

A huge suceess, kudos to the Share our Strength Taste of the Nation organizers, staff and volunteers on a job well done! I hope the event achieved its goal and was able to raise the funds they were hoping for to make a difference in the lives of hungry children everywhere.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Eat, Drink and Do Your Part to End Childhood Hunger

Wine Chateau: the online wine store of choice.

For nearly 25 years, Taste of Nation has brought together culinary geniuses all across the country with one singular goal in mind, to raise money to help end childhood hunger. The tour has so far successfully raised over $1.3 million in hunger relief, and yet the problem still persists.

In America, one of the world's wealthiest nations, practically one out of every four children struggles with chronic childhood hunger. Kids that are hungry have much greater problems than just a rumbling tummy. Hungry kids suffer from impaired growth, development, increased sickness as well as lower productivity in schools. Share our Strength utilizes events like Taste of the Nation to bring light to this sad subject and make a difference in the lives of children, their families and ultimately our country.

Taste of the Nation is touring America for the 24th consecutive year uniting celebrity chefs, premium wineries/breweries and expert mixologists who donate their time and resources to help with this extraordinary cause.

If you wondered how much of your ticket sales actually go to those hungry children, rest easy and eat and drink up, because the answer is 100%… tickets range in price from $85 to $185 (for the Luxe ticket offering the earliest entry). Additionally, there will be a silent auction where you can bid on amazing prizes to help aid the Child No Hungry movement.

On Tuesday, May 8th, 2012, Taste of the Nation will be at JELD-WEN Field in Portland. This is your change to mingle with the foodie in-crowd while you savor signature dishes, sip locally crafted wines, cocktails and beer from over 75 purveyors all to benefit hungry children. The Portland leg of the national tour will be directly benefitting local organizations like the Oregon Food Bank, Partners for a Hungry-Free Oregon, St. Vincent de Paul Food Recovery Program and Klamath-Lake Counties Food Bank.

Be a part of the solution. For more information and to purchase your tickets, visit the Taste of the Nation website.

If you need another reason besides helping poor hungry children, take a look at the participants and drool over what you'll be enjoying:

Gem Restaurants:
Bamboo Sushi
Boke Bowl
Ned Ludd
Olympic Provisions

Other Participants:
Ate Oh Ate
Brasserie Montmartre
Bunk Sandwiches
Circa 33
Clyde Common
Crown Paella
Cupcake Jones
Davis Street Tavern
Double Dragon
Irving Street Kitchen
Joel Palmer House
La Calaca Comelona
Miss Zumstein
Missionary Chocolates
New Season's Market
Nong's Khao Man Gai
Nuestra Cocina
Oregon Ice Works
Oven and Shaker
The Painted Lady
Pine State Biscuits
Random Order
Ringside Fish House
Ruby Jewel
Ruth's Chris Steakhouse
Saint Cupcake
St. Honoré Boulangerie
St. Jack
Smokehouse 21
Urban Farmer
Woodlawn Bakery
Xocolati de David

2012 Gem Wineries:
Bergstrom Wines
Owen Roe
Sineann Wines

Additional Particpating Wineries:
Adelsheim Vineyard
Anne Amie Vineyards
Apolloni Vineyards
Ardiri Winery and Vineyards
Argyle Winery
Cana's Feast Winery
Coleman Vineyard
Cooper Mountain Vineyard
Cristom Vineyards
Elk Cove Vineyards
Ilahe Vineyards and Winery
Lange Estate Winery and Vineyard
Methven Family Vineyards
The Mitchell Wine Group
Montinore Estate
Oak Knoll Winery
PDX Urban Wineries
Torii Mor Winery
Willamette Valley Vineyards
Youngberg Hill Vineyards

Beer, Cider and Non-Alcoholic Beverages:
Burnside Brewing C.
Captured by Porches
Crater Lake Soda
Deschutes Brewery
DRY Soda Co.
Finnegan Cider
Full Sail Brewing Co.
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Smith Teamaker
Volcanic Minerals
Widmer Brothers Brewing

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Free Tickets for Pinot Lovers!

I consider myself fortunate for being able to turn on wine lovers time and again by providing my readers great opportunities to taste the beautiful locally crafted Pinot noirs. Today, I'm proud to be able to give some lucky follower a chance to win TWO tickets to the upcoming Taste Pinot 365.

Taste Pinot 365 doesn't refer to drinking Pinot noir 365 days a year (no matter how fun that sounds) but rather honors some of the select wineries open to guests each and every day (well, excluding a few major holidays) and serves as reminder when making your plans for a wine country outings. These places are more than just wineries, each and every one should be considered a destination.

Come to Red Slate Wine Company in the Olympic Mills Building on May 10th from 6-8pm and enjoy some of the finest wines this state has to offer.

Participating wineries include:

Tickets are just $15/person (available through Local Wine Events) and include tastings of wine and foods by Olympic Provisions and Red Hills Provincial Dining.

Comment below or on my Facebook page for your chance to win and tweet about it using the hashtag #Pinot365 for additional entries! 

Winners will be selected Monday, May 7th, so comment and tweet on until midnight on May 6th. Good luck!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

40 Miles of World-Class Wine - Columbia Gorge Passport Weekend

Upon leaving the Preview Grand Tasting for the Columbia Gorge Winegrowers Passport Weekend this past Monday, what I came away with (besides very purple teeth) was a sense of urgency to visit all the wineries I’ve not yet visited and an overall positive impression of a region that’s doing more than just one thing right.

What really struck me, besides all the great wines and food from Nora’s Table, was how several of the wineries have taken alternative approaches to traditional packaging. Naked Winery, for example, has produced a line of wines in recycled and recyclable plastic bottles that’s simply perfect for summer outings called Outdoor Vino (you might have even already seen this wine on the "Bad Tattoo" episode of Portlandia). Quenett Winery is making Copa de Vino, single servings of wine available in plastic cups that allow imbibers to toast life where ever they go, and Springhouse Cellars has been putting their wine in reusable growler-like glass bottles, reducing the amount of new bottles they use as well as offering their patrons a substantial savings on the wine.

Though there were many standouts at the Passport Preview Tasting, several wineries left an indelible imprint on my palate. In fact, one was so good, I had to ignore the "It's Hip to Spit" cup in my hand and ask for a glass to enjoy after I tasted everything else. Though I truly enjoyed a variety of wonderful wines that day, the following is a list of the ones that really spoke to me:

AlmaTerra Wines - 2007 Grenache/Syrah/Mourvedre
Aniche Cellars – 2010 Sirius (a co-fermented Barbera and Zinfandel)
COR Cellars – 2009 Malbec
Jan Mark Cellars – 2010 Chardonnay
Marchesi Vineyards – 2009 Barbera
Maryhill Winery – 2010 Sauvignon Blanc
Memaloose Wines – 2009 Cabernet Franc and 2009 Grenache/Syrah/Viognier
Phelps Creek - 2009 Cuvée Alexandrine
Quenett Winery – 2010 Chardonnay and 2009 Zinfandel
Syncline – 2011 Rosé (Sinsault/Mouvedre/Counoise/Carignon)
The Pines 1852 – 2008 Big Red (a gorgeous blend of Cabernet, Merlot, Syrah and Zinfandel for just $16)
Viento – NV Brut Rosé (my hands down favorite of the day, a gorgeous sparkler of Pinot Noir and Riesling)
Waving Tree - 2008 Barbera
Wy’East Vineyards – 2011 Pinot Gris

For just $15, you’ll enjoy a variety of benefits from each participating winery, such as waived tasting fees, barrel tastings, library tastings, food and generous discounts on purchases (with potential savings up to $800!). The Passport Weekend spans two states and affords wine lovers an opportunity to discover a “World of Wine in 40 Miles” while learning what makes this region both unique and special.

With 26 wineries participating, and April marking the beginning of prime wildflower viewing in the scenic Gorge, now’s the perfect time to take advantage of the season and journey to the Columbia Gorge for Passport Weekend (April 13th-15th). Visit their website for more information and to purchase your Passport to fun.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Love Oregon Wine?

In Oregon, besides daffodils and cherry blossoms, spring is the time when wine events are in full bloom. It seems like there’s one popping up practically every weekend! So, if you’re trying to narrow down your list of events you must attend, I suggest you keep this one at the top.

With the sad (but hopefully temporary) disappearing act of the crowd-pleaser Portland Indie Food and Wine Festival, Unwine’d will making its inaugural debut with a bang at the end of this month. On April 29th, from 3-6pm, approximately 100 wineries and 14 restaurants will gather together at the Left Bank Annex for a tasting not soon to be forgotten.

The "A" list alone includes recognizable heavy hitters like Adelsheim, Archery Summit, Anne Amie and Anam Cara, or find new loves sipping the goods from boutique wineries such as Angel Vine, Amelie Robert and Andrew Rich, just to name a few. Check out the extensive list of participants and you’ll understand why this is one event you definitely shouldn’t miss!

And if the impressive array of wine isn’t enough reason to attend, notable local restaurants including Allium Bistro, Blue Hour, Davis Street Tavern, Park Kitchen, Terrace Kitchen, Joel Palmer House and many more will be on hand serving culinary creations sure to enhance the flavors of these wines.

If learning’s your thing, visit the wine education stations to increase your wine knowledge. You’ll also take home a souvenir wine glass and can purchase bottles you just can't live without from the event’s wine store.

Thanks to the Oregon Wine Board, I’m offering one of my readers the chance to win 2 tickets to THE Oregon wine event of the year. And I’ll make it really easy for you by providing multiple ways to enter. Increase your chances of winning by entering each way. Do all three and earn yourself three entries into the contest! You have until Friday, April 13th (your lucky day) to enter. The winner will be chosen at random and announced on Saturday, April 14th.

1.  Simply comment on this blog about your favorite producer or the one that interests you the most. Include your name and email address so I can track you down when you win.

2.  Visit the Sip with Me Facebook page, like it while you’re there (you know I like you!), and comment on the post with your favorite Oregon producer or the one you’re just dying to taste.

3.  Tweet all about it. Copy and use this following phrase when Tweeting and BAM!, you’ll be entered to win.

I love #OregonWine! Enter to WIN 2 tickets to @Unwined_ORWine from @sipwithme! #wine — Please RT

Monday, April 2, 2012

Discover Local Spirits at this Year's TOAST

On Saturday and Sunday, April 28th and 29th, Portland will raise its shot glass to welcome the second annual TOAST event. The Oregon Artisan Spirit Tasting, taking place on the Sky Bridge level of the World Trade Center, is the largest craft spirit tasting in the country. Featuring over 55 distillers, the event will focus on the local craft spirit scene, with infusions from the national and international level as well.

Small producers will be pouring over 100 different hand-crafted spirits, giving guests the opportunity to taste every thing from A to Z… well A to W (Absinthe to Whiskey). Diversity and quality will be strongly represented, with nearly every spirit category available to taste, but the key word here is really quality. See for yourself how these locally crafted products speak for themselves and why you’ll never want to buy a bottle of generic liquor again.

Not only are the potent potions pleasingly potable, they’re also plain old smart. You can now enjoy a potpourri of inebriants and feel good about it the next day because buying these products promotes jobs in Oregon and pumps money into the local economy. You’ll know you’ve done your part to keep money in this state by supporting local producers and agriculture all the while minimizing your carbon footprint buying products that haven’t been shipped across the country or across the oceans to get here.

Top bartenders will be showing off their techniques, talking art and science as they blend the distillations to your liking in the Mix Lounge. In addition to imbibing the artisan spirits in ways you never thought possible, you’ll discover the pro’s secrets for creating unique cocktails which you can use to impress your friends at your next party. If that’s not enough, you’ll find complementary memorable recipe cards from each producer to create your own library of local libations. But that's not all you can take home. This year, for the first time in Oregon, the OLCC is making it easy for you to buy what you like by allowing guests to purchase bottles, condiments and bar accessories at the event's Bottle Shop.

TOAST will be open from 3-8pm, April 28-29, with a $49 admission price at the door that includes spirit and cocktail samples, a logo souvenir glass and a light buffet to absorb some of that alcohol. Save a couple bucks and purchase your tickets online in advance for only $40 or indulge in a weekend of intoxicants for a mere $75. 

Be safe and avoid the hassle of calling a cab. Hotel Fifty and the Downtown Marriott Hotel are offering a special rate of just $119/night for those who might anticipate a little overindulgence and want to make a better plan in advance. Contact them for reservations. TOAST is sponsored and presented by The Oregonian, KINK FM, KXL FM News and the Oregon Distillers Guild.

And just in case you were wondering, the event is restricted to those 21 and over with a valid ID.

Monday, March 19, 2012

How to Seduce a Wineaux

In the not-too-distant-past, a conversation ensued between this dear man I was dating and I. While walking through the wine store picking out everyday wines to enjoy together we came across the 'Other Whites' section, when he turned to me and said, “Oh, I love Vagner.” I stopped short in my tracks and thought hard, painfully racking my tired brain. Is he referring to a specific producer? Are we still talking about wine here or did we move on to music? What does he know that I don’t? I casually sauntered over to where he was standing and began to scan the bottles, trying to identify what he could possibly be referring to without looking like a complete moron. As I perused the various labels, the proverbial light bulb went off over my head. With a sly smile, I looked at him and asked, “Do you mean Viognier?” (pronounced Vee-on-YAY!) I quietly chuckled under my breath, both not wanting to embarrass him, and not wanting to look like an obnoxious wine snob (i.e. a total ass), but was completely enamored, finding his naiveté endearing if not adorable. Secretly, I began composing the blog “What NOT to Say to Woo a Wine Lover” in my head, which in turn inspired the following post, “How to Seduce a Wineaux.”

1.     The way you look at me is making me turn as red as that glass of wine, please don’t stop.
2.     You’re eyes are as sparkling as this glass of Champagne.
3.     I’d abstain from wine for month for just one night with you.
4.     I promise, I’ll last longer than a bottle of the finest Bordeaux.
5.     You’re so cute, I could just bottle you and drink you up.
6.     You’re spicier than Syrah.
7.     You’re so hot, you could make my wine mull with just one look.
8.     You’re about as intoxicating as fortified wine.
9.     This date is going so well, how about we drop everything and open a winery together. I’ve got the money, you’ve got the ideas and the connections, and we both have great taste in wine.
10. I’m local, organic and biodynamic – wanna taste?
11. Tell me you like GSMs? Let’s head back to my place and I’ll show you my version.
12. How about I make you breakfast and serve you a Champagne cocktail tomorrow morning in bed?
13. If I poured you a glass, I’d use my good stemware.
14. I’m new in town, where’s the best place to taste some really good local wine?
15. Do you like books? I heard Been Doon So Long is the perfect bedtime story.
16. I studied in France and worked harvest in Italy, I’ve learned some of the secrets to making great wine and I’d love to share them with you.
17. I’ve a bottle of Domaine Romanée Conti with your name all over it.
18. If you were a dessert, I’d drizzle Port and chocolate all over you.
19. “You and I”  sounds like the name of the next great wine. Are you game?
20. What are you doing this Fall? Cause I would love to make you part of this season’s harvest.
21. I’m something of a garagista. I’ve been working on this Syrah, come barrel taste it and tell me what you think?
22. You need a wine tasting partner? Cause I ‘m something of a wine geek.
23. People say I’m a barrel of fun.
24. This wine is good, but I know just the food pairing that would take it to a whole nother level.
25. If I was going to name a bottle of wine, I’d name it after you.
26. I was sent a bunch of bottles of ultra-expensive California Cabernets to review and I could sure use another palate! Want to come back to my place and help?
27. I bet you drink lots of wine because the antioxidents are obviously doing your body really good.
28. Weather like this makes me just want to sit around a fire and drink wine all day.
29. I make a great steak dinner and have the perfect bottle set aside for just this occasion.
30. Let’s run away to New Zealand together. We can work harvest, travel the countryside and then stop in Figi on the way home to recharge. Tell me you’re in.
31. Like a fine bottle of wine, I’d like nothing more than to lay you sideways.
32. Would you like to do some wine tasting? I’ll taste you first.
33. I love to make good wine. I bet I can make you whine good too.
34. I think I must have drank too much wine, because when you walked in, the room started to spin.
35. The best way to taste this wine is from my lips.
36. If I tasted you, I’d roll you around with my tongue for hours.
37. Wow! I thought my wine had nice legs!

When writing this post, I was originally hoping for the Top 50 best pick-up lines. Maybe you can help me write the rest? Woo me with your favorite pick-up lines for scoring with a wine lover in the comments section below. Come on, let’s have some fun!