Category Archives: Wine

Afternoon Wine Tasting at Mercy Wine Bar? Wine-Not?

A few weeks ago I attended Mercy Wine Bar’s Passport to Rioja tasting series, featuring wines from the Rioja wine region. The event allowed us to taste a full spectrum of Rioja offerings, including centenary wines, classic modern styles and collector’s wines.

A little background on Rioja Wines: Rioja is a wine region in Spain that is famous for it’s Tempranillo wines. Tempranillo is an Old World wine that pairs well with food. (Obvious,but for real. I was craving a steak dinner after the event!) In terms of flavor, Rioja wines vary from more fruit-forward to silky, smooth with a bit of spice. To learn more about Rioja Wines, check out RiojaWine.com.

photo-2About the Event: There was no twisting my arm needed to get my RSVP. So on August 19th, I happily dashed up the Tollway to their Addison location.

Every table at the tasting featured several wines from different winemakers in the Rioja region. The event was thankfully relaxed and intimate, so I was able to learn about each wine I tasted. There were several wine retailers and restaurateurs in attendance (which made me feel prettyyyy fancy) who all seemed to be intrigued and impressed by the wines represented — which even further reassured me that I was about to be blown away.

The Wines: For your sake, I won’t go into every wine I tasted in this review. In short: I felt spoiled to be able to try the best of the well-known and typical varietals from Rioja, as well as explore some blends and whites that I didn’t even know existed.

The Reds: I was able to try some vintage and reserve wines from Faustino, including one from 1964! I also fell in love with Palacios Remondo’s La Montesa which uses organically-grown grapes making a light and delicious tasting blend of Mazuelo Tempranillo and Garnacha; a perfect red to sip out on a patio in the summer. As the gentleman at the tasting table put it, “It has a great slam ability factor.” (Yes, he said that.)

For White Wine lovers: The biggest and most pleasant surprise of the event for me was how much I loved the white Rioja wines, made from Viura (or Macebo) which is a Spanish white grape variety … and a severely underrated one at that! They tasted full-bodied and substantial light and refreshing; somewhat like a Sauvignon Blanc but less sour and less fruity. I especially enjoyed the white from Milflores (the bottle is gorgeous too).

Food: Thankfully, with all that wine tasting (I couldn’t get the hang of the spittoon), they passed around several delicious hors d’oeuvres such as Risotto Balls and Smoked Bruschetta (which is Smoked buffalo mozzarella, garlic olive oil, marinated tomatoes, and balsamic reduction).

Mercy Wine Bar’s Passport to Rioja tasting series was a truly unique experience that forced me out my Pinot Noir and Savignon Blanc comfort zone to learn and taste the best of the best wines from a historically rich and renowned region in Spain. I’ll be back soon, Mercy Wine Bar, to try a glass (or two) of something new and unexpected!

TIP: Mercy also will sell their wines to you at retail price. So be sure to grab a glass of Rioja wine at Mercy Wine Bar next time you are up in Addison and then take a bottle home with you!

Ole!


MERCY WINE BAR

5100 Belt Line Rd #544, Dallas, TX 75254
(Located in the Village on the Parkway, at the southeast corner of Beltline and the Dallas North Tollway, between Sebastian’s Closet and Blue Mesa.)
(972) 702-9463
mercywinebar.comFacebook | Twitter

Hours of Operation:

  • M-W: 11:00 am – 12:00 am
  • Th-F: 11:00 am – 2:00 am
  • Sat: 4:00 pm – 2:00 am
  • Sun: 4:00 pm – 12:00 am

HAPPY HOUR SPECIAL | 4pm – 7pm daily
$5 wines by the glass (choice of 11 different wines)

 

About Mercy Wine Bar:

To be honest there is a lot of big chain restaurants and bars up in Addison, so Mercy Wine bar is a perfect antidote, with its small, cozy setting and unique wine and food selections. This award-winning Dallas staple is a great place to go grab a glass of wine before or after an event up there.

 

Astoria Caffe & Wine Bar

Truth be told, I find wine to be a bit intimidating. I can’t do what sommeliers do. I’m a beer guy. I have no idea how to really even “taste” wine as a professional would, seeking out hints of boysenberry (what does boysenberry even taste like???) or a lingering aftertaste of leather or graphite (whaaa?). I couldn’t tell you if a wine should be older or drunk the same year it’s made, and I have no idea of the “terroirs” associated with different wines. (Wait … since when are dog breeds involved in wine-making???) Nevertheless, the staff at Astoria Caffe & Wine Bar in Addison Circle makes me feel like a pro and helps me get to just the right glass (or three) of vino.

Wine and CheeseI recently had the chance to visit this corner bar with the wife for a light dinner of wine and cheese (which is totally acceptable). This wine bar is family-owned, completely unpretentious, and boasts a diverse selection of wines and a small, well thought-out menu. It’s the kind of place where you can see yourself being a regular. For those who aren’t big wine drinkers, don’t fret, Astoria stocks a selection of domestic and imported beers, too.

For the casual wine drinker who doesn’t want to an entire bottle (or the indecisive), there are plenty of choices available by the glass. I thought that the prices for both glasses and bottles of wine were quite reasonable. If you’re looking for something in particular or just need help with a recommendation, the staff is eager to help and knowledgeable about the bar’s offerings.

Astoria is intimate and cozy, allowing one to quickly feel right at home. The interior has a dozen or so small tables as well as a dog-friendly front patio surrounded by lush trees. This wine bar attracts an eclectic mix of patrons that range from the mature wine snob to young couples to hipsters. Those looking for a great first date spot in Addison or those simply looking to unwind with a glass of good wine in a relaxed atmosphere can look no further.

Whether you’re an experienced wine buff or an amateur like me, there’s a lot to appreciate at Astoria Caffe!

ASTORIA CAFFE & WINE BAR
astoriacaffe.com | (972) 239-5853
15701 Quorum Drive, Addison, Texas 75001
Facebook | Instagram: @Astoriacaffe_Winebar | Twitter: @Astoriacafewine

Happy Hour: Daily from 3pm to 7pm

  • Monthly bottle specials
  • Live-music on select nights

 

Grapevine Wine Tours

So … I’m all about unconventional outings–for dates, girls’ nights, and Tuesdays.  Sometimes it’s nice to get out of dodge and head to the ‘burbs, and Grapevine Wine Tours offer a fun evening away from the Big D that highlights Grapevine’s wine options.

I was lucky to join a group of media people on a wine tour on a Wednesday evening.  The group met around 5:30pm and piled into one of their small, air conditioned busses to visit three wine-centric stops in Grapevine led by a GWT representative who fed us fun facts about the city of Grapevine and its wine offerings.  (Fun fact: Texas is the 4th largest wine producing state!)  Each tour will visit three of the seven partners in Grapevine, some vineyards, some tasting rooms, and some restaurants.  The tour lasts around 4.5 hours and always includes a meal.

Our group’s itinerary was:

  • Homestead Winery – this cute, little home close to Downtown Grapevine produces wine from vines grown in Ivanhoe, Texas.  The owner of the winery walked us through a tasting of their wines (15+ — yikes).  They have some wines that are incredibly unique and were happy to talk us through the flavors and nuances of the wines we were tasting.
  • Delaney Vineyard – this vineyard is the only local vineyard and boasts 10 acres of vines, a winery, and gorgeous tasting room onsite.  We were treated to a tour of the entire site and a tasting of their offerings.  (I left with a bottle of wine from their gift shop … because I have a shopping problem.)
  • Winewood Grill – we enjoyed a three-course meal at Winewood, complete with suggested wine pairings.  I opted for the BBQ ribs, and it was a solid choice.  They had live music in the bar, which was a nice bonus.

GWTs will coordinate with your party to determine an appropriate itinerary and pick-up location (at one of three Grapevine hotels, Embassy Suites Outdoor World, Hilton DFW Lakes, or the Gaylord Texan).  Each tour is customized based on your group’s size and preferences.

Call 817.259.WINE (9463) or visit www.GrapevineWineTours.com for tour prices, schedules, group rates and other details.
Tours typically cost $79.50-89.50.  You can save 10% discount on a lunch or dinner tour using the code BLOG10 (offer expires 9/1/14).

****I was invited to experience a Grapevine Wine Tour free of charge.****

Product Review: Savino

Life’s a bitch sometimes, from work angst to sleep deprivation to general stress.  Which means … sometimes you just need a glass of wine at the end of the day.  (Read: a glass, not a bottle … I’m not an alcoholic. (Promise.))  You get home, pop the cork of your favorite house wine (a couple of my favorites that I try to have on-hand are Ménage à Trois red blend and Francis Coppola Claret), have a glass, and then you’re faced with the conundrum: do I keep drinking and therefore ruin any chances I have of working out in the morning and perpetuate the fat-girl cycle, or do I put a cork in it and have a less-delicious glass tomorrow?

Here’s your solution: Savino.  This handy little lifesaver will keep your wine decently fresh for (as I tasted) about 6 days.  Which means: no more bottle waste guilt keeping you from your morning run.

Savino

Savino is a decanter with a seal and floater with 15 years of research behind it.  The floater remains in the  decanter (even while pouring), and I’m not sure why, but it seems to work … so I won’t ask questions.  They suggest keeping the Savino in the fridge, which, for some, might be a turn off.  (Cold reds aren’t my favorite, but I let it sit for a few minutes before drinking it and it wasn’t too off-putting.)

It comes in glass or plastic, made from high quality Flint Glass and BPA FreeTritan (respectively).  The plastic version even offers a locking lid.  Both hold a standard bottle of wine (750ml), are dishwasher safe, and fit in most refrigerators.  (For you outdoor concert-goers, the plastic one is the perfect solution to keeping bugs out of your wine!)  Oh, and it’s pretty sexy-looking.

Generally, the product is a great solution to wasted wine.  For $29.95 for the plastic “Enthusiast” version, or $59.95 for the glass “Connoisseur” version, it’ll help cut your wine costs … and the cost of buying a new wardrobe to fit your muffin top in.

SAVINO WINE PRESERVATION GLASSWARE
www.savinowine.com
Order online
$29.95 or $59.95 (free shipping)

A Day with the Coppolas

I don’t like to play the “I got to do this and you didn’t” card, but I was recently invited to a couple events that were pretty incredible that I HAD to share with my readers.

I  was invited to spend an evening (along with about 100 of my closest friends) at Lakewood Theater with the one and only Francis Ford Coppola.  Even more amazingly, FFC Winery invited me to join Francis’ wife, Eleanor, for their “Women in Wine” lunch.

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I’ll just say this … the whole day was incredible.  At lunch, I was among some of the most illustrious women in the Dallas wine scene in the Red Slippers Suite at the Hotel Zaza.  The fashionable gaggle of ladies was greeted with a glass of the Coppola Winery’s sparkling wine, Sofia Blanc de Blanc, and headed up to the suite for our three-course lunch by Dragonfly.  We were asked to go around the table and toast the woman to our left and right, but were told that Francis’ superstition was that, if you didn’t maintain eye contact during a toast, you were guaranteed eight years of bad sex.  Just to be safe … we all followed the instructions!

Each course welcomed incredible conversation to go with the great food and the perfectly-paired wines.  The first course was a Bluepoint Oyster Spring Roll with Tobiko Caviar Creme Fraiche paired with another glass of their Sofia Blanc de Blanc.  While we enjoyed this, Eleanor asked each of us to share why we love wine.  Each woman’s answer was incredibly different, but intriguing.

Eleanor then told us a bit about her life with Francis.  Did you know that she’s an accomplished film and sculpture artist who has shown throughout the world, an author, a documentary filmmaker?  She is, no doubt, the strong woman that made the man.

Our second delicacy was a Baby Kale Salad with house-cured duck ham paired with the 2012 Gia Pinot Noir, named for and created by Francis’ grand-daughter and director/screenwriter of the soon-to-be-released “Palo Alto”.  This wine is not yet available to the public, but when it is, get your hands on it as it’ll be perfect for a summer dinner on the patio.

The third course was Roasted Prime NY Strip Steak with Shitake Mushrooms paired with Eleanor’s own wine, Eleanor.  Eleanor had a large part in creating the wine whose label bears her name and her very own art, and the wine was as complex as the woman herself.

Dessert … oh dessert … was a buffet of some of Dragonfly’s favorites with more Sophia.  Dessert was actually sad as it meant that the experience was coming to an end.

Before adjourning, we were all given permission to call our gracious and dynamic hostess “Ellie”.  I’ll probably stick with Eleanor, but knowing there’s the option is kind of … awesome.

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The evening held as many delights, including light bites and various Coppola wines poured generously throughout the event venue, the historic Lakewood Theater.  Francis spoke about his lifelong passion of filmmaking, his accidental yet fortuitous foray into the wine business, and most importantly, his family.  Hearing such an inimitable man speak about the small things in life that he enjoys, like writing songs for his grandchildren, was a real treat.

Overall, it was a really memorable day.  As much as I loved the Coppola wines, knowing the story behind some makes me love them even more!

Photo Credit: Lisa Stewart

Event Recap: La Marca Happy Hour at Times Ten Cellar

I am lucky to have some friends who can pinch hit when my day job heats up.  Thanks to Rachael Kohler for stepping in! (She’s also a legit sommelier, so her notes are going to be better than mine ever could be anyway!)  


written by Rachael Evans Kohler

Times Ten Cellar hosted the event, and was as rustic yet elegant as ever.

I was lucky enough to grab a minute with Carmen J. Castorina, Director of Communications for E&J Gallo Winery, and wine maker of La Marca, Fabrizio Gatto.  Both gentlemen were extremely charming and very enthusiastic on America’s perception of prosecco, and particularly the big interest from Texans!
I had the good luck to sit next to Meredith Steele, a food blogger/freelance food writer.  Her perception of the wine was interesting because she instantly commented on how friendly the wine was to the charcuterie we were enjoying. Not all wines are pleasant around cured meats, aged cheeses, and spiced sauces!
  • La Marca is now a DOC* and produces 35% of all prosecco in it’s designated region- biggest producer
  • They only produce this sparkling wine using the Charmat method, basically fermenting the juice in large tanks rather than inside the bottles as they do in Champagne.  This keeps it very light, fruity, and fresh.
  • They are not  trying to make a serious, intense, yeasty champagne-style wine, but rather a fan-pleasing style that goes with anyone, any food, and any time.
  • They’ve come a long way in the last 8 years, from two guys driving across the US trying to sell this unknown wine, to flying around the country to meet the demands of interested buyers.
  • The blue label and packaging are extremely close to “Tiffany Blue”- a point they swear is just coincidence … but one that works in their favor!
For the hour that I was there, I thoroughly enjoyed myself.  La Marca accomplished its intensions by opening up conversations, turning strangers into friends, and the demise of a delicious appetizer by everyone at the table.
*DOC means ”controlled designation of origin”.  Basically it is a classification of where a product came from. Read more.

Post Up Here (Wine Poste)

I have a confession: I’m lazy.  Like … really lazy —- don’t even like to make decisions lazy.  My boyfriend mistakes it for indifference or even for the inability to make decisions … but it’s really just laziness.  That said, my laziness often gets in the way of me trying new places or things.  (In my best Most Interesting Man in the World impression) I don’t always make an effort to visit “faraway*” places, but when I do, it’s to the Design District to visit Wine Poste.

This 4500sf space has retail, art installations, event spaces (three of them in varying sizes, in fact), and even offers wine tasting events along with wine & cheese pairing classes and celebrity chef private dinners.

Now for the completely unique thing about WP: they ship wine.  Anywhere in Texas, you can order wine and have it delivered to your door for a mere $5.  NOTE: This is extremely rare.

Stop in soon and they’ll help you pick out a great bottle of wine, or shop their retail site, where you can shop for wines by varietal, rating, price, or region, and even see staff picks.

*Anything outside of Uptown is far away to me.  I know … I’m terrible**.
**I’m really not terrible … again … I’m just lazy.

Cru Wine Bar

Thursday nights were always a big to-do.  My friends and I would get dressed up and roll over to West Village for Cru’s Thursday night special of half price bottles of champagne and sparkling wines.

The atmosphere in Cru is relaxed but quite formal and the people sipping their glasses of wine are movers and shakers.  The bartenders are always up for a quick chat as are the people perched at the bar.

Saunter over, sip a bottle of bubbly, and try some of their amazing cheeses … don’t forget to take your crew.

Cru Wine Bar
www.cruawinebar.com
3699 Mckinney Ave | (214) 526-9463

Specials:
Thursday | 1/2 price champagne