Tag Archives: wine

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.


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.


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.

Does anyone remember the name of the restaurant that was in the current Malai Kitchen space?  Honestly, I don’t really care because I wouldn’t give Malai up for all the bubble tea in Thailand.

I was so pleased to join Braden and Yasmin, the adorable husband/wife team behind Malai Kitchen, for a few sips of wine and a couple cocktails.  Not only are they delightful people, but they know their stuff.  Case in point: their wine list.  If you haven’t checked out Malai’s revamped wine list, it’s worth checking out.  The wine menu offers a unique variety of wines starting at $7 a glass from across the globe, some of which are priced quite close to retail (tres unique for a restaurant).  Even better? It’s wine-idiot-friendly as it’s organized by intensity.  

We enjoyed tastes of:

  • Livon 2011 (Friulano) – a unique flavor
  • Markus Molitor “Bernkasteler Badstube” 2011 (Riesling Kabinett)
  • Joseph Kent “Vieux Carre” 2010 (White blend)
  • Guillon “Gevery Chambertin” 2007 (Pinot Noir)
  • Longoria “Alisos Vineyard” 2005 (Syrah)
  • Brazin “Old Vine” 2010 (Zinfandel)

I died for the Guillon Pinot and would definitely recommend a glass or three of it.  The Markis Molitor is light and has just the right amount of sweetness to be the perfect pairing for a spicy curry dish.  Ask the bartender (or ask for Braden or Yasmin if they’re in) for a recommendation if you’re lost.

As for cocktails, they have a short list of really stellar options, many of which were developed by Jason Kosmas, the king of cocktail.  My dude, Rico*, and I tried a good mix of their offerings and were really wowed by some of the amazing mixology behind the Malai bar.  

The Singapore Sling got an audible “oh my god” from me and I’ll be returning for that one.  They recommend it for two (as it’s a pitcher) … but I think one person with a high tolerance and the Uber app could handle it.  Something everyone in Dallas must try is the Kaffir Collins (top left in the picture).  Since it’s made with a fruit used in Thai curries, kaffir lime, you can LITERALLY** not find this anywhere else in Dallas.  The taste is so incredibly rich and light and intriguing at the same time that  Rico and I actually squabbled over who got to finish this drink.  (I won.)  Other winners are the Cambodian Daiquiri and Bourbon Smash.

Malai Kitchen is convenient to grab before a movie or for happy hour, so stop in soon and order a Kaffir Collins in my honor.  

www.malaikitchen.com | @malaikitchen
3699 McKinney Ave #319 (West Village)
(972) 591-3387

*Rico is both a freaking talented coworker and the leader of the Brunch Bros gang.  Check them out if you aren’t already a huge fan.
**According to them.  Believe me … I tried bribing them to tell me where to get the Kaffir leaves.

Tasting in the Dark

Close your eyes for one whole minute.  (No peeking!)  Take in the room.  Take a deep breath through your nose and smell the scents wafting around you.  Listen to the hum of your AC.  Feel the carpet beneath your feet.  Taste the flavors lingering on your tongue.  (If you can taste things on your tongue, then pop a breath mint.)

Losing a sense can make your other senses sharper.  With that premise, Tasting in the Dark was born.  A monthly tasting hosted by Henry “Hoby” Wedler at the Francis Ford Coppola Winery in California’s Alexander Valley, tasters are blindfolded* and led through a tasting of Coppola wines.  Between the decadent wine and the exquisitely eloquently commentary from Hoby, the experience is inimitable.

I was honored to have been invited to the Dallas stop of the Tasting in the Dark tour at SĒR in the Hotel Anatole. After my last experience with FFC Wines, I was happy to explore more of their offerings.  Hoby led our group through a tasting of four Coppola Diamond wines, two whites and two reds, and spoke with the group in detail about the smells, tastes, and textures of each.  We each ventured a guess what varietal of wine we had in-hand, but for the most part failed miserably, some of us at times even guessing the wrong color.

Our host, Hoby is a grad student at UC-Davis who founded a chemistry camp for the blind and hosts the FFCW’s monthly Tasting in the Dark, and is uniquely qualified to lead this tasting as he has been blind since birth.  Hoby’s descriptions of the wines is a thing of beauty.  This guy … can seriously turn a phrase.  He had our group so wicked hungry by the end of the tasting with his flowery descriptions of the meals that he’d recommend pairing with each wine.  Luckily, we had lunch waiting for us.

I’d love to regale you with the intense flavors of the wines we tasted, but since we were blindfolded, I wasn’t able to take notes.  That said, I’ll simply list the wines below, and encourage you to try each and every one because they were all delicious and worth a taste.  Take your time before diving in and explore the smells and flavors of each.  You’ll be surprised when you let the wines speak to you!

  • 2012 Diamond Sauvignon Blanc
  • 2012 Diamond Pinot Noir 
  • 2012 Diamond Chardonnay (Hoby recommends serving with seared pork belly)
  • 2011 Diamond Cabernet Sauvignon (Hoby recommends serving with a smoked burger with a brioche bun topped with avocados, caramelized onions, and smoked cheddar)

If you’re ever touring the Alexander Valley, make sure you make Francis Ford Coppola Winery a stop on your agenda. 

*These blindfolds were leGIT.  I couldn’t see s**t, and my eyes burned like a vampire’s at dawn when I took it off.

***Please note: this tasting and subsequent meal was on the house.***


Dee Lincoln’s is all over social media right now, so naturally I HAD to try it.  The sister location to the new Uptown location is in Cowboys Stadium and was the first place IN THE US to have an enomatic machine for sparkling wine, a machine that keeps bottled intoxicants fresher, longer (up to three weeks), while doling out an appropriate serving.

Past the futuristic dispensers that line the walls, the look of the restaurant and tasting room (which they dub a “bubble bar”) is pink, silver, and white all over – maybe the most perfect bachelorette party locale I’ve ever seen due to the aforementioned color scheme and “private” seating areas complete with disco columns and shiny pillows.

Outside, you can enjoy the patio (erm, at least you will be able to when it cools down) complete with lighted “bubble” tables.  The area affords a nice bit of interesting foot traffic to keep things interesting.

The long and short of this place is that it’s fancy, and your tab will reflect that.  As my sister said, “This place isn’t for college students … or most of the $30,000 millionaires in Dallas!”  We each had a cocktail and shared a flatbread for a whopping $40!  You know it’s expensive when it would have been cheaper to go to Ocean Prime down the way!

While I disagree with the massive price tags, the food and drink were pretty great.  I ordered the DETOX TINI which I’d definitely get again, but only one because it was quite sweet.  My sister enjoyed the champagne float which was not only refreshing, but really nice to look at.  The next time I venture in, I will make sure it’s on a night out instead of a quick stop after dinner so I can enjoy my large drink and the buzz that comes along with it.

Drink Strength: 4
Overall:  2.5

Dee Lincoln
www.deelincolnstastingroom.com | @deelincolns
2101 Cedar Springs Road  | 214-979-WINE