Celebrating Malbec World Day

Manos-Negra-Malbec-DayToday is Malbec World Day and after searching my wine stash for a Malbec, I was surprised that I didn’t have a single bottle of Malbec. All I found was a Meritage from California, that included Malbec grapes in the blend and several Bordeaux blends from France that also included Malbec grapes. With no Malbecs to celebrate with, I had to go out at lunch and pick up a couple of bottles, one for drinking today and the other for my wine stash.

Argentina produces 70% of the world’s Malbec grapes and the hilly northwest region of Mendoza is perfect for growing Malbec grapes. I love a good Malbec from this region so today, I am drinking a 2010 Manos Negras Malbec from Mendoza, Argentina.

Cheers,
Kristina

Announcing Our “Bold Reds” Wine Sale

red wineTired of winter yet? How about some big, bold, red wines to help shake off the cold?!

We at The International Wine of the Month Club are very excited to announce a sale on 4 powerful, world-class red wines which blew us away at our recent Tasting Panels. We’re making each of these highly-rated red wines available at unbeatable values – up to 45% off retail price, plus extra discounts when you order 6 total bottles or more!

And, you don’t have to be a wine club member to take advantage of this Special Offer, so feel free to let all your wine-loving friends know, too!

High ratings, gold medals, super-limited production – and a huge thumbs up from our 30+ person tasting panel – these wines have it all. Check them out at www.winemonthclub.com/sale.

Three Aphrodisiacal Food & Wine Pairings to Spice Up Valentine’s Day

The end of next week graces us with (what is supposed to be) the most romantic holiday of the entire year. Hopefully, your night will be spent with a special someone, eating out at a four-star restaurant or cooking a three-course meal fit for the Food Network. But here’s a little tip: the food and wine you choose for your special dinner can play a major role in what happens after you eat. So with a little help from Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love, we’ve laid out some food and wine pairings that will ensure your Valentine’s Day is as romantic as the all the commercials promise.

Spicy-&-Wine-2015Chili Peppers

Adding chili peppers to your V-Day dinner is an obvious choice if you’re looking to spice things up. Not only will the Capsaicin found in chili peppers speed up your heartbeat and sweaty up your palms after just one bite, but eating chili peppers also releases endorphins, a chemical in your brain that can immediately fuel up your sex life. Now that’s chemical romance.

Perfect wine pairing: Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blancs are typically dry wines with flavors of citrus fruit, melon, fig, and herbs. Sauvignon Blancs can range from dry to semi sweet, and everything in between which can help toward tempering hot and spicy dishes. Though on the dryer side, one of our personal favorites is the Château de Fontenille Entre-Deux-Mers 2013. This Sauvignon Blanc blend is a mélange of scintillating citrus, fig and melon with an underpinning of minerality for the ideal combination of sweet and spicy.

Oysters-&-Wine-2015Oysters

Since more than 200 years ago, raw oysters have been declared the pinnacle of all aphrodisiacal foods. Oysters are said to be the first edibles used to increase sexual desire in the second century by the Romans and by legendary lover, Casanova. The compounds found in raw oysters such as zinc, D-aspartic acid and N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) help to raise your libido and can also raise the levels of estrogen and testosterone found in your body.

Perfect wine pairing: Viognier

Originally from the Northern Rhône region in France, Viogniers are medium-dry to dry and are lighter flavored wines that usually have flavors of tree fruits, nuttiness, and undertones of spice with peachy aromas. The Château du Trignon Viognier Côtes-du-Rhône Blanc 2013 offers finely honed fruit flavors and subtle complexity that will pair perfectly with raw or cooked oysters.

Chocolate-&-Wine-2015Chocolate

Everyone loves chocolate. Whether it’s liquid or solid, hot or cold, chocolate always seems to bring us instant joy. This is probably because of the “feel good” chemicals found inside chocolate, namely Serotonin and Phenylethylamine. This inseparable chocolate-happiness connection is far from a recent discovery, as the Aztec emperor, Montezuma, is rumored to have consumed up to 50 goblets of chocolate each day in order to fuel his sexual desires. Sounds like he’s trying to overcompensate for something!

Perfect wine pairing: Shiraz

Slightly softer and more subdued than Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz (aka Syrah) is still full of flavor with bright notes of red and dark berries, peppery undertones, and fine tannins. The Bellingham Ancient Earth Pinotage Shiraz 2013 with a luscious and lively core black cherry and mulberry flavors wrapped in a light patina of oak, it pair perfectly with any chocolaty dessert.

For more information on pairing wines with your favorite meals, visit our Food & Wine Pairing Guide and be sure to see our 2014 3 Aphrodisiacal Food & Wine Pairings.

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How to Host a Successful Wine Tasting Party

Looking back at my past 40 years as a wine enthusiast, I can safely say that I’ve seen my fair share of wine tasting parties. A common theme I’ve noticed over the years is that many of the hosts of these parties tend to overthink them, and put too much of the focus on the details. The format of the party, the wine glasses used, the way the host collects feedback; all of these things should be secondary aspects of the party. The true ingredients of a successful wine tasting party are simple: good wine and good people.

_M7A5448What you’ll need for your Wine Tasting Party:

  • ½ a bottle of wine per guest is ideal – supply your own or have everyone bring a bottle or two
  • Clean, clear wine glasses – I prefer Riedel
  • A couple of wine openers and a corkscrew as backup
  • A bucket or spittoon to dump out the excess wine
  • Simple wine tasting sheets so that guests can jot down comments
  • A camera to photograph the wine labels
  • Optional: Bottled water
  • Optional: Food pairings like cheese and crackers, chocolate, fruit, etc.
  • Optional: Decanter for red wine
  • Optional: Ice bucket for white wine

Step 1: Invite the Right Guests

Choosing an eclectic group of people for your wine tasting party will help your party run itself, especially by the time everyone is on their third or fourth wine. The key here is to invite people with varying tastes and degrees of experience with wine. That way, newbies can comfortably learn about wine from more experienced enthusiasts, and the more experienced enthusiasts can happily banter about the wine selections.

Step 2. Decide on a Theme

Although choosing a theme isn’t required, it can definitely help your guests pick the right type of wine for their palate. I’d recommend going with wines by region or appellation. Some other common themes are new world vs. old world wines and blind tastings. A note about blind tasting, however – although much can be learned through blind tastings, especially among seasoned wine drinkers, I have never found blind tastings contribute much fun to a wine party. Instead, they usually make people defensive and competitive. Therefore, I would skip the blind tasting in favor of a more fun activity.

Step 3. Serve, Taste & Enjoy

The best way to educate the palate, enjoy wine and preserve an air of mystery is to serve premium wines from wineries, varietals and places that your guests will not likely have tasted or seen before.  This way, the tasting party can be both fun and mysterious without making guests apprehensive.  If you are unfamiliar with such wines, consult a reputable and knowledgeable retailer for suggestions, or better yet, contact the International Wine of the Month Club for some of our most popular recent selections! Lastly: It is wise to try some of your provider’s selections ahead of time, and then serve the wines you choose from lightest to heaviest, saving the sweetest wines for last.

A Final Note

With a little research and planning, hosting your own wine party can be a fun opportunity for you, your friends and your family to try good wines with good company. Some of the key things to remember:

  • A fun, outgoing group of people will make the party all the more enjoyable
  • A wine tasting party theme can help your guests narrow down their wine selections and help you increase the educational value of your party
  • If you’re still a beginner with wine, consulting a knowledgeable retailer will help you pick only interesting, premium selections that fit within your theme

Wine tasting parties are still parties: remember to have fun!

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Salud!
Don

Cabernet Day 2014!

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Cabernet from Daou Vineyards & Winery

Cabernet Sauvignon from Paso Robles California, that is what I will have in my glass tonight. Just can’t wait to dive into that silky smooth, beautifully balanced Cab, from Daou Vineyards & Winery. I visited the winery last April with around 100 wine bloggers for an event hosted by Daou, with wines poured by  members of the Paso Robles Cab Collective.

The setting was stunning: on top of the Adelaida Mountains during sunset with a beautiful glow of orange and red, overlooking a canyon of vineyards. Eighteen of the PRCC representatives poured from two or three of  their collection of wines for us. Every wine was delightful and full of favor and it was apparent that these wine makers are very passionate about their wines.

Paso Robles wine makers are serious about their Cabernet and Bordeaux wines by forming this group; The Paso Robles Cabernet and Bordeaux Collective (PRCC) a grass-roots organization which strives to promote the full potential of the Paso Robles AVA in producing superior quality, age-worthy, balanced and classic Cabernet and red Bordeaux varietals to consumers and media worldwide. The PRCC seeks to improve awareness regarding the distinctive attributes of Paso Robles Cabernet and red Bordeaux varietals through events, education and initiatives that confirm the appellations’ growing reputation for producing luscious well-rounded red Bordeaux varietals that compete with like-varietals on a global stage.

Cheers!
Kristina