IF YOU'RE LOOKING FOR WINE tasting guidelines, wine recommendations, or party ideas, then you’ve come to the right place. Consult the Primer for information about evaluating wine, browse Picks for recommended wines, and peruse Pen for articles on wine-themed party planning and other tips. Santé!

Thinking Outside the Box: Custom Tastings
Browse this list of custom tastings offered. They include entertaining and timely topics such as "Getting to Know Merlot...All Over Again," a tasting designed to dispel the variety's bad rap following Sideways, and "Think Pink," a tasting featuring exclusively pink wines, from the palest rose to deep ruby sparkling.
Thinking Outside the Box: Custom Tastings download

Wine with Food: A Guide to Pairing and Enjoying Classic Combinations
Ever had a transcendental wine and food experience? If you have, you’ll understand the rationale behind this wine and food tutorial, and if you haven’t, get ready to experience some really great combinations! This guide walks you matter-of-factly through the basics of wine and food pairing and covers classic matches such as Roquefort and Sauternes.
Wine with Food: A Guide to Pairing and Enjoying Classic Combinations download

Taste Like a Pro: A Guide to Tasting Wine Like a Sommelier
This informative and easy-to-follow tutorial will introduce you to the fundamentals of wine tasting and appreciation. With an emphasis on preparing for tastings as well as the act itself, this guide covers everything you need to know to start tasting like a pro, from lighting and environment to ideal serving temperatures to stemware and gadgetry.
Taste Like a Pro: A Guide to Tasting Wine Like a Sommelier download

2003 Braida Brachetto d’Acqui
This fizzy red wine is a total delight and one of my all time favorites. It hails from a little-known DOCG (wine region) in Italy and is just 5.5% alcohol—about the level of most beers. Its low alcohol level (most wines clock in around 12%) makes it an ideal picnic or dessert wine. It has aromas of ripe fruit and roses and is sweet on the palate with a long fruity finish. I served it at a dinner party recently with strawberries and chocolate, although it would also pair well with assorted pastries and fruit tarts. 12345

Vincenzo Toffoli Prosecco di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene (Non-vintage)
The Prosecco grape is grown in Italy almost exclusively in the Valdobbiadene region of Veneto, in the northeast. It makes easy-drinking and reasonably priced white sparkling wines with lively citrus fruit and floral aromas and flavors. Available in dry or slightly sweet versions, Prosecco is all about freshness and as such makes a great summer wine. I first sipped Prosecco at a Hollywood Bowl picnic with prociutto and melon, and the combination was fantastic, although Prosecco will also partner well with other picnic fare, appetizers and light foods. At $12 a bottle, who says you can’t drink sparkling every day?  123

2003 Azienda Vinicola Palama Metiusco Rosé
Have no fear: good rosé is here. If you have shied from pink wine because of vague recollections that White Zinfandel is the ultimate faux pas then do so no more. This salmon-colored blend of two Italian grape varieties has more body than your average rosé (read: pink wine) and the versatility to pair with bigger dishes than its less robust peers. Metiusco Rosé hails from Salento, a hot region in the heel of Italy’s boot, and has aromas of red fruits and flowers. It will complement a variety of dishes including fish like salmon, tapas, and antipasto. Drink it cool this spring and summer. 1234

2002 Fresno State Winery Orange Muscat, John Diener Vineyard
This fully sweet dessert wine boasts powerful aromatics and uncomplicated fruit flavors on the palate to make a refreshing if not very complex apres dinner sipper. With fruit sourced entirely from Fresno County, an agricultural melting pot known more for table grapes than for those intended for bottle, this wine is the product of student vintners at CSU Freso’s on-campus winery. The nose is redolent of honey, apricot, macadamia nuts, and orange marmelade, while the palate shows mostly honey and uber ripe peaches. Pair it with a bittersweet chocolate confection - chocolate and muscat are a classic match - to offset its concentrated sweetness.  123

2001 Masi Campofiorin Ripasso
This red wine from the Veneto region in northeast Italy makes a big impression with its concentrated aromas and flavors of ripe red fruits, cocoa and spice thanks to the unique way in which it is made. “Ripasso” literally means “re-passed” and describes the wine-making process: once the wine has been fermented it is pumped over the dried grapeskins of a superior wine. A second fermentation then takes place, and the combination of a second fermentation and prolonged contact with the skins of the second wine ultimately yield a finished product with significant body, fruit and complexity. This technique is widely associated with Italy’s fancier Amarone, and the results are similar but the price is nicer. Try this wine with correspondingly powerful foods, including red meat, game or sharp cheeses. 1234

2004 Oyster Bay Chardonnay, Marlborough NZ
This crisp cool climate Chardonnay is a great retort to the industrially produced over-oaked Chardonnays we’ve all tired of lately. From a region made famous by its citrusy and pungent renderings of the Sauvignon Blanc grape comes a cool climate Chardonnay with a mineral and citrus fruit-rich palate that partners remarkably well with food. The producer preserves the character of the grape variety and the wine’s light body by foregoing a second malolactic fermentation, a vinification process responsible for the buttery-rich and oaky Chardonnays that were in vogue in the 90s. All this and a screw cap too. At about $10, this shouldn't be missed. 1234 Mood Boosting Wines
This year in particular (sheesh) - there's a laundry list of things that could be getting you down. Lost jobs, money worries and holiday stress are just a few of the icky items that could very well be a drag on your otherwise sunny mood. Happily, we're here with a list of wines known for their mood-boosting powers, all packaged into a convenient list. Mood Boosting Wines download Sips & Star Power
Come Oscar time, many of us - film and wine buffs alike - will find ourselves settling in to enjoy the time-honored tradition of watching Hollywood's annual version of an all-you-can-eat buffet with extra helpings of couture, paparazzi and bawdy political jokes thrown in for good measure. And, to further enhance your viewing pleasure, this year we're pleased to present our second-annual Academy Awards tasting lineup, complete with frank and - hopefully - amusing commentary on nominated films and personalities. Sips & Star Power download Top Wine Faults & How to Deal
We've all been there before: The wine you've ordered arrives at your table at the chichi restaurant and smells...wrong. You're not sure what's behind the malodorous scent, but you're quite sure it smacks of your Aunt Edna's moldy attic. You're desperate to send it back, but nervous the "dirty attic" excuse will come off as uninformed, inadequate and pathetically incorrect all at once. But take heart, worrisome wino: there is a method to the madness of decoding wine faults (as usual, we've got you covered). Top Wine Faults & How to Deal download

The Skinny on Wine
Did you know that drinking wine can make you thin? Well, it’s not quite that easy, but according to a rash of new “non-diets” on the market, when consumed in moderation wine can help reduce food cravings, lower your risk of heart disease and diabetes, and keep stress at bay...
The Skinny on Wine download

Bringing Home the Bacon, Er, Gewurtztraminer
Women now not only drink more wine than men in the US, they tend to make more adventurous decisions when purchasing, according to both formal and informal research. This means that men are increasingly going along for the ride as their female friends bring home new vinous curiousities...
Bringing Home the Bacon, Er, Gewurtztraminer download


© 2013 Courtney Cochran