First to Sip Villa Maria #NZSauvBlanc Tasting

Earlier this week I was invited to participate in the First To Sip 2015 Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc Twitter virtual tasting. The “Tweet-Up” was a precursor to events happening throughout the U.S. this summer celebrating the stateside release of two wine the 2015 Villa Maria Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc, and the 2014 Villa Maria Cellar Selection Sauvignon Blanc. The celebration includes a sweepstakes for an opportunity to win an 8-day/7-night trip to New Zealand.  Entries are available where the wines are sold or click here for a chance to win.

Wait…What? A 2015 wine. How is that possible?  Remember New Zealand is in the Southern hemisphere where the harvest is in the February to April time frame.


 My tasting notes follow:

2015 Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc Private Bin Retail – $14.99
Very pale green color with pleasingly pungent gooseberry, passion fruit, and grassy aromas. On the palate it’s light-bodied, dry, clean and crisp with mouth-watering acidity and gooseberry, passion fruit, lime and grapefruit flavors. Lingering finish. Very good (86-88 pts)

Vineyards: Awatere and Wairu Valleys, Marlborough
Variety: 100% Sauvignon Blanc
Alcohol: 13.0%
pH: 3.30
Total Acidity: 7.0 g/l
Residual Sugar: 4.0 g/l

2014 Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc Cellar Selection Retail – $19.99
Very pale green color with lifted gooseberry, passion fruit, citrus and floral aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, dry and fresh with an appealing intensity. It shows gooseberry, passion fruit, lime cream, melon flavors with a lemongrass undertone and a very giving finish. Very Good to Outstanding (89-91 pts)

The Wine Geek Stuff:
Vineyards: Awatere (50%) and Wairu Valleys (50%), Marlborough
Variety: 100% Sauvignon Blanc
Alcohol: 13%
pH: 3.25
Total Acidity: 6.8 g/l
Residual Sugar: 3.3 g/l

Both the wines offer wonderful value.  The 2015 is a lighter style I think would be great as an aperitif or with appetizers – especially on a warm day.  It takes a chill quite well and delivers an abundance of refreshment.  On the other hand, when I consider the 2014, it has more weight and pairing it with an entrée comes to mind. I’d let it warm up more than the 2015 to maximize its more complex aromas and flavors.

>>Click here to find these wines<<

Food Pairing

I paired with Steamed Mussels in White Wine in which I used the 2014 Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc as my white wine.  It was an outstanding pairing with both wines.  I happened to have some leftover Garlic Shrimp Poke.  Both wines were wonderful with that too. Click here for many other great food pairing suggestions.


About Villa Maria

From the Villa Maria website – In 1961, at just 21 years of age, George leased five acres of land from his father in Mangere, Auckland and started off with just an acre of vines. He harvested his first grapes in 1962 and made his first wine under the name Villa Maria.

Throughout the 1960s Villa Maria was a one-man band, with George’s wife, Gail, supporting him in his venture. He made dry red and white wines, sourcing grapes from the greater Auckland regions. In the early 1970s he started to employ staff and the company began to expand rapidly.

Sir George Fistonich

Today, Villa Maria employs more than 250 permanent staff and exports wine to over 50 countries worldwide.

They maintain vineyards in both New Zealand’s North Island and South Island including vineyards in Marlborough, Hawkes Bay, Gisborne and Auckland.

As a family owned business, Villa Maria is focused on sustainability, including organically certified vineyards in Auckland, Hawkes Bay and Marlborough.

First to Sip Villa Maria #NZSauvBlanc Tasting

The Villa Maria Awatere Marlborough vineyards. Image courtesy of Villa Maria Wine

I very much enjoyed both of these wines.  And I think you will too!

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received these wines free from Ste. Michelle Wine Estates and Villa Maria as part of their First to Sip Twitter Tasting. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are entirely my own


Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings.

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine. Since I’m a wino with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers! This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Copyright 2015 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.

A Taste of Dry Creek Valley Sauvignon Blanc #DCVSauvBlanc

Last month, I was invited to participate in a virtual wine tasting on Twitter featuring three premium Sauvignon Blanc from Dry Creek Valley. The tasting featured winemakers Tim Bell of Dry Creek Vineyard, Emmett Reed of Gustafson Family Vineyards, and Ed Sbragia of Sbragia Family Vineyards. It was moderated by Michelle McCue, president of McCue Communications

I was delighted to receive the invitation because I’m a fan of Dry Creek Valley Sauvignon Blanc.  My wife and I have attended the Winegrowers of Dry Creek Valley’s annual Passport to Dry Creek Valley a handful of times, and we always find a few standout Sauvignon Blanc when we make the round of wineries.  A couple of perennial favorites that come to mind are produced by Quivira Vineyards and Mauritson.

Dry Creek Valley is most renown for Zinfandel, but what you may not realize is that Sauvignon Blanc is the most planted white grape in Dry Creek Valley. More than 25 wineries in the area produce wines from it, and it is widely recognized as a Dry Creek Valley signature white wine.

From the Winegrowers of Dry Creek Valley…

Around 1970, David Stare was the first to plant sauvignon blanc in Dry Creek Valley. He first purchased a prune farm, then took out the prune trees to start the winery project that is nowDry Creek Vineyard. When Stare settled in Sonoma County, there wasn’t much enthusiasm for sauvignon blanc in the state of California. In neighboring Napa Valley, Robert Mondavi had begun marketing a dry-style sauvignon blanc by the name of Fume Blanc in 1968. Stare was quick to follow suit, adopting this name for his first Dry Creek Vineyard release, in 1972.

Images courtesy of Winegrowers of Dry Creek Valley

Stare’s interest caught the attention of others arriving in Dry Creek Valley. While taking classes at UC Davis, he became friends with fellow student, Lou Preston.  Their vineyard instructor, James Cook, stressed how important it is to match the grape variety to the land and climate on which it grows. Though many harbored doubts about sauvignon blanc’s potential for success, Stare prevailed. He convinced Preston to plant sauvignon blanc in his vineyard. Stare and Preston’s success growing the grape gradually led to national attention and their wines garnered awards.

The three wines were tasted represented the wonderful possibilities for vinifying Sauvignon Blanc,  One wine was 100% Sauvignon Blanc, another was a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Sauvigon Musque (a more aromatic clone of Sauvignon Blanc), and 100 % Sauvignon Musque.  Some of the wine were fermented in stainless steel, others in oak, or a combination thereof.


You can check out a recording of the live feed of the #DCVSauvBlanc tasting below:

My tasting notes follow:

  • 2013 Dry Creek Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc DCV3
    Very pale yellow-green color and nicely aromatic with grapefruit, passionfruit, and hints of grass and pineapple aromas. On the palate, its medium-bodied and between dry and off-dry with very good acidity and a wonderful texture. It shows grapefruit, lime, mandarin orange, and a kiss pineapple flavors with an appealing minerality. Medium finish. 100% Sauvignon Musque. 417 cases produced. Retail – $25 Very good to Outstanding; 89-91 pts
  • 2013 Gustafson Family Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc Estate Heritage Tree Vineyard 
    Yellow gold color with low-key stone fruit, passionfruit, pineapple and a hint of grassy aromas. On the palate, it’s medium bodied, and fresh with a wonderful texture, and peach, passionfruit, honeydew, vanilla flavors. Medium + finish. Field blend of 80% Sauvignon Blanc; 20% Sauvignon Musque 14.1% alcohol 350 cases produced Retail – $22 Very good; 86-88 pts
  • 2014 Sbragia Family Sauvignon Blanc Home Ranch 
    Pale yellow-green color with pungent gooseberry, grapefruit, green apple and a hint of grassy aromas. On the palate, it light to medium-bodied with bright acidity and grapefruit, passionfruit and lemongrass flavors. Medium finish 100% Sauvignon Blanc. 13.7% alcohol 200 cases produced Retail – $22 Very good; 86-88 pts

It was a delightful tasting!  Though I didn’t have time to enjoy any food during the tasting, Sauvignon Blanc is one of the most food friendly wines.  We always have a bottle on hand!

It pairs well with soft goat cheeses, grilled fish, shellfish, poultry, dishes accented, or dominated by green herbs such as dill, chives, or fennel, olive oil or cream-based pasta dishes (Seafood lasagna anyone?), a wide range of vegetarian fare and challenging to pair spring vegetables like asparagus and artichokes.

Discloure of Material Connection:  I received these wines free from the wineries and Winegrowers of Dry Creek Valley as part of #DCVSauvBlanc Twitter Tasting.  I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are entirely my own. 


Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings.

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine. Since I’m a wino with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers! This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Copyright 2015 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.

A Taste of @DateNightWine with Phifer Pavitt

I recently received a couple of wine samples from Napa Valley based Phifer Pavitt Winery.  It’s a winery that’s completely new to me.

I don’t know why, but coming across new to me wineries is always a bit of a surprise.   That’s because…well…I’m a promiscuous wine lover that “gets around” so to speak. Between my daily consumption, my travels in the wine blog-o-sphere, wine country travel, trade tastings and receiving samples, I taste hundreds, upon hundreds of wines annually. Furthermore, I’m familiar with many more by word of mouth, and/or reputation.

Despite my vinous promiscuity, I really shouldn’t be surprised.  There probably 600-700 wineries where I live in Northern California. So, it should be a surprise when come across a new to me winery.

Good thing I love a good surprise!  It’s very exciting for me to try new to me wine because I don’t have any preconceived notion about the winery or wines on way or another.

Here’s the 411 on Phifer Pavitt…

From the Winery…Phifer Pavitt Winery is a dream of Suzanne Phifer and Shane Pavitt, who purchased twenty-three acres on Silverado Trail in 1999. Over the course of several years of ‘date nights,’ the couple hatched the idea of their own Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon in 2005. The winery opened in November 2010 and is housed in a historic “Napa Valley vernacular” barn, with a board-and batten façade and metal roof, nestled into a scenic spot looking out over views of Napa Valley. The barn was found in nearby Franz Valley where it was situated for more than 100 years before being relocated to its current home. The barn was ‘repurposed’ into a winery; repurposing has become a dominant theme.  Suzanne and Shane work to reduce the winery’s carbon footprint and preserve natural resources. The decor includes numerous eco-chic elements, including reclaimed barbed wire ‘chandeliers,’ recycled blue jean insulation, recycled Wyoming snow-fencing paneling, a 1946 Farmall tractor and a walnut slab suspended from the ceiling in the upstairs tasting room. The latest addition to the tasting room consists of four salvaged large wood slab tables.

Phifer Pavitt  produces two wines – the Date Night Cabernet Sauvignon, and Sauvignon Blanc.   They source their fruit from several Napa Valley vineyards.  Until this year, when a second source near the town of Yountville was added, the Cab was sourced from Temple Family Vineyards’ Lakespring Ranch in Pope Valley.  The Lakespring Ranch vineyard is farmed organically. The Sauvignon Blanc grapes are sourced from the sustainably farmed Juliana Vineyards, also in Pope Valley.  They have plans to produce a sparkling wine in the future.

Their annual case production is about 1,450 cases.  They are open for tours and tastings Mondays – Saturdays by appointment only at 11:00a.m. or 1:00 p.m., at a cost of $40/person.

The Wines

2013 Phifer Pavitt Sauvignon Blanc Date Night

Phifer Pavitt’s first vintage of the Sauvignon Blanc was 2010.  This wine is made in a Bordeaux Blanc style.  The hand-picked fruit was whole-cluster pressed, and the wine was fermented  in stainless steel utilizing two special yeast strains particularly suited to enhancing the Sancerre-like qualities of the fruit.  The lees were stirred weekly for five months. No malolactic fermentation was allowed. Retail – $30; abv – 14.5%

Phifer SB

My tasting notes follow:

Pale golden color with peach, key lime, grapefruit, guava and subtle grassy aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied with a very pleasing supple texture and very good acidity. It shows delicious guava, key lime, peach, and a hint of grapefruit flavors, and a lingering sweet finish. Rating: A-

2011 Phifer Pavitt Cabernet Sauvignon Date Night

Phifer Pavitt has been producing their Cabernet Sauvignon since 2005. This vintage of a blend of 98% Cabernet Sauvignon and 2% Petit Verdot.  After fermentation on native yeasts, the wine was aged 18 months in 75% new 225 Liter French Oak barrels.  Bottled unfiltered and unfined. Retail – $80; abv – 14.5%

Phifer Cab

My tasting note follows:

Ruby color with lifted, very appealing cassis, black cherry, violets, tobacco, caramel, sweet spice aromas, along hints of eucalyptus, and cedarwood.  On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, persistent and fresh with a silky texture and black cherry, plum, cassis, graphite,tobacco, and spice flavors. Long finish.

Rating; A – These are charming, delicious well-made wines worth checking out, especially the Cab!

Follow my reviews on Vivino 

Wines were provided as samples for review.  Many thanks to Phifer Pavitt and Julie Ann Kodmur

Ratings Key:

(A+) – 95-100/Extraordinary
(A) – 92-95/Outstanding
(A-) – 89-91/Very Good to Outstanding
(B+) – 86-88/Very good
(B) – 80-85/Good
(C) – 70-79/Bleh
(D) – 50-69/#Fail

Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings. Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers! This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Copyright 2014 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.

Wine of the Week: 2012 Merry Edwards Sauvignon Blanc

Every Thursday I feature a wine I particularly enjoy, whether it’s something new and different, is a great value, or from a producer worth checking out.  For this week, my Wine Of The Week is the 2012 Merry Edwards Sauvignon Blanc.

The Winery

Merry Edwards, one of California’s first female winemakers, began her career at Mount Eden Vineyards in the Santa Cruz Mountains in 1974.  In 1997, she co-founded  Merry Edwards Winery, a business venture allowing her to produce from select Pinot Noir grapes in Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast, including, for the first time, her own vineyards: Meredith Estate, Coopersmith, Georganne, Sanchietti and Flax.

Last year, her 40th year as a winemaker, Merry is inducted into the Culinary Institute of America’s Vintners Hall of Fame.

The Wine

My wife and I have visited the winery a few times.  While Merry Edwards is  known mostly for her single-vineyard Pinot Noirs, we always pick up a bottle or two of her Sauvignon Blanc.  It’s a Sauvignon Blanc of unique character.

Here’s what Merry Edwards Winery says about it..The rich core of this flavorful wine is fruit sourced from vines 25-35 years old. That 54% is complemented by 20% Sauvignon Musqué, which adds floral aromatics and depth not present in other types of Sauvignon Blanc. The remainder is the classic Shenandoah selection…prevalent throughout California.

The wine is fermented in barrel, and undergoes bâttonage, or stirring of lees, which gives the wine it’s weight and texture.   

Wine of the Week: 2012 Merry Edwards Sauvignon Blanc

2012 Merry Edwards Sauvignon Blanc

My tasting notes follow:

Pale green tinged straw color with peach, grapefruit, guava and a hint of wet stone aromas. On the palate, its medium-bodied, well structured, and fresh with great texture. It exhibits peach, grapefruit, guava and a hint of honey flavors. Long finish. 13.7% alcohol – $30

Rating: A- :

Pair with: This is a Sauvignon Blanc with some “weight”.  I like to match it with something with similar weight or a special meal.  I enjoyed this bottle with Grilled Paiche.  Delightful!  Here’s a couple of suggestions from Merry Edwards that sound fantastic;  Crabmeat Mango Salad, and Honey Lime Baked Wild Salmon with Mango & Black Bean Salsa.

Sample purchased for review

Ratings Key:

(A+) – 98-100/Extraordinary
(A) – 94-97/Outstanding
(A-) – 90-93/Excellent
(B+) – 86-89/Very good
(B) – 80-85/Good
(C) – 70-79/Bleh
(D) – 50-69/#Fail

Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings.

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers!

This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Copyright 2014 ENOFYLZ Wine Blog. All rights reserved.

Wine Pairings Recommendations for Skinny #SundaySupper

This week’s #SundaySupper theme is all about lighter healthier food to help you maintain a healthy, wholesome diet. #SundaySupper.  One of the things I appreciate most about the talented #SundaySupper food bloggers is their creativity.  So I know you’ll find not only slimmed down versions of some of your favorite dishes, you’ll also be introduced to some new, exciting, and undoubtedly diverse, healthy fare.

The #SundaySupper mission is to Bring Back Sunday Supper around the family table in every home. It starts off as one day a week and soon becomes a way of life.

Speaking of healthy…it’s generally accepted that moderate consumption of alcohol, including wine does more good than harm. With that in mind, here are some things to understand about the calories in wine:

  • Wine is made of mostly water, alcohol, carbohydrates.  The carbs result from the residual sugar left in wine after fermentation.
  • A glass of wine can range between 110 – 300 calories depending on the wine. The range has to do with alcohol content, inherent sweetness of the wine and serving size.
  • Generally speaking, the lower the alcohol content, the lower the calories.  That’s because alcohol has 7 calories per grams of alcohol compared to 4 calories per gram for sugar (in the form of residual sugar in wine). If you’re counting calories, consider wines below 15% alcohol by volume.
  • Use 25 calories per ounce as a caloric guideline for wine. If you’re really counting calories, and want to know the specific amount of calories in a particular wine varietal (e.g. Syrah v. Merlot v Chardonnay), you can search the USDA National Nutrient Database for the Specific Calories by Wine Varietal (I found it interesting the list includes dessert, red and white wine, but doesn’t seem to include sparkling wines).  
  • As with food,  portion control is important with wine.  A standard serving of wine is considered to be 5 ounces, but if you’re counting calories a 3 or 4 ounce pour may be more appropriate.
  • Generally speaking wines white wines and Rosé has fewer calories that red wine .  The white wines that are lowest in calories are sparkling wines, German Riesling (Spätlese and Kabinett), Pinot Grigio, Albariño,  and Vino Verde.
  • Wines that tend to be highest in calories are dessert wines like Port, Sauterne, Ice wine, and late harvest wines.  On the other hand, the standard serving size for dessert wines is about 2 ounces rather than the 5 ounces for table wines.

But rather than focusing on how many calories are in one type of wine versus another, pair food with the wines you enjoy most. If you need to watch your calories, then consider a smaller pour.

Check out this week’s sensational Skinny #SundaySupper recipes. My wine pairing recommendations are italicized. Click on the name of the wine to find out where to purchase.

Calories in a glass of wine

Image courtesy of

Pair these starters, main and side dishes with sparkling wine.  I like the Deligeroy Crémant de Loire Brut.  It made my Top 20 Sparkling Wines Under $20 list for 2012.  It’s a blend of Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay & Cabernet Franc with a stone-fruit, raspberry, and mineral character.  

Pair these starters, main and side dishes with Sauvignon Blanc. Sauvignon Blanc is a top of mind wine for pairing with lightened up fare for me.  That’s because lighter healthier foods are often prepared with fresh herbs, and/or well-spiced to make more flavorful.  Not only is Sauvignon Blanc a great match for food prepare that way, it works well with sharper acidic ingredients (yogurt for example which is often subbed for mayo), vegetables, salads, and seafood which are staples of lighter fare.  Look for the 2012 Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc.  It’s off-dry with a zesty citrus, tropical fruit, melon, with a bit of herbaceousness character.

Riesling is another top of mind natural wine for pairing with lightened up fare. Not only is it among the most versatile of wines.  It also tends be be lower in calories because of it’s lower alcohol content (especially German Riesling).  Pair these starters, main  and side dishes with the 2011 Josef Leitz Rüdesheimer Drachenstein “Dragonstone” Riesling QbA.  It shows a zesty lime, peach, pink grapefruit, apple, spice and mineral character. 

Pair these starters, main  and side dishes with Beaujolais, a wine from the eponymous region made from the Gamay grape.  While I’m not a big fan of the Beaujolais Nouveau release annually in November, I am a fan of Cru Beaujolais.  They tend to be light-bodied, food friendly red wines with soft tannins.  Look for the  2010 Potel-Aviron Côte de Brouilly “Vieilles Vignes” Cru Beaujolais.  It has a black raspberry, floral, and asian spice character.  Can’t find a Beaujolais?  Then go with your favorite Pinot Noir – a similar style of wine. 

Pair these starters, main  and side dishes with a red Rhône blend. I recommend the newly released vintage of one of my favorites, the 2011 Tablas Creek Vineyards Patelin de Tablas.  It’s a blend of Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, and Counoise. The blend of grape varieties produces a vinous synergy resulting in a fresh juicy red fruits, spice, and mineral character.

Pair these desserts & snacks with a Moscato d’Asti.  Look for the 2011 Saracco Moscato d’Asti. It shows a sweet, fragrant, delicate, floral, tropical fruit, and a hint of honey character.  It’s “frizzante”, which means it’s not as effervescent as most sparkling wines. 

Pair these desserts & snacks with a late harvest Gewürztraminer.  One of my favorites is the 2011 Castello di Amorosa Late Harvest Gewürztraminer. It has intriguing honey, apricot, honeysuckle, and spice aromas and flavors, and is succulent and rich on the palate.  It’s just flat-out delicious! It’s a bit pricey, but remember portion sizes are smaller and dessert wines will last for weeks rather than day.  Beside it’s tasty enough to be dessert on its own!

Pair these desserts & snacks with Yalumba Museum Reserve Muscat a fortified dessert wine from Australia.  One sip and it’ll be Muscat love with its decadently rich toffee, caramel, and spiced orange peel character.

Join the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter each Sunday. We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. This week we will be sharing out special skinnified recipes! Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET and you do not want to miss out on the fun. Follow the#SundaySupper hash tag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. Check out our #SundaySupper Pinterest board for more fabulous recipes and food photos.

Join us Around the Family Table this Sunday at 7pm Eastern Time and share your favorite healthy recipes with us!


Seafood Gumbo and Wine Pairings for Soul Warming #SundaySupper

This week’s #SundaySupper theme is all about soul warming foods.  You know, those soups, chili, stews, and other soul warming treat we seek when the weather turns cold.

When I first saw the theme, my first thought was of “Soul Food”. I’d  bet that “Soul food” is one of those phrases that if you ask 10 people what it means, you’d get 10 different answers!  Soul Warming foods and Soul food are one in the same to me, and when I think of Soul food, the first dish that comes to mind is Gumbo!  We have a tradition in our family of making Gumbo each New Year’s day, but it’s  a soul-satisfying meal whenever there’s a chill in the air.

Since I’m a Wino with latent foodie tendencies, I decided let my foodie nature rise up, and do a dish, and wine pairings this week!

Here’s my Seafood Gumbo (we …OK make that “I”, call it “Yumbo” – lame right?..but I like it!)

Seafood Gumbo

Seafood Gumbo

For me, there are two things you’ve got to get right to make a gumbo – the “roux” (I prefer mine to be dark brownish), and you must have stock that is chock full of flavors.  Sure you could take a short-cut, and go with store-bought (I’ve done that for a  ” quick and dirty” version of this dish, but the flavors are not as complex and intense for me. If you get those couple of things “right”, it’s clear sailing thereafter!

Seafood Gumbo and Wine Pairings for Soul Warming #SundaySupper
Recipe type: Stew
Cuisine: Cajun
Serves: 10-12
Adapted from Emeril's Classic Seafood Gumbo recipe
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1½ cups finely chopped onions
  • ¾ cup finely chopped green bell peppers
  • ¾ cup finely chopped celery
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • One 12-ounce bottle amber beer
  • 6 cups Shrimp and Crab Stock
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 small Dungeness crabs
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 tablespoon Emeril's Original Essence
  • 2 cups shucked oysters with their liquor
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • ½ cup chopped tender green onion tops
  1. Follow directions for cleaning and prepping crab to be cooked (click here, except remove crab legs and claws. Follow directions for Shrimp and Crab stock, except add crab shell and crab butter (roe) along with shrimp.
  2. Place an 8-quart stockpot over medium heat, and add the oil. Allow the oil to heat for about 5 minutes, then add the flour to the pot. Stir the oil and flour together with a wooden spoon to form a roux. Continue to stir the roux for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the color of milk chocolate. Add the onions, bell peppers, and celery to the roux and stir to blend. Stir the vegetables for 5 minutes, then add the garlic. Cook the garlic for 30 seconds before adding the beer and Shrimp and Crab Stock to the pot. Season the gumbo with the thyme, bay leaves, crabs legs, Worcestershire, salt, and cayenne. Bring the gumbo to a boil and lower the heat to a simmer. Continue to simmer the gumbo for 1 hour, skimming the foam and any oil that rises to the surface.
  3. Season both the shrimp with 1½ teaspoons Essence. Stir the shrimp into the gumbo and cook for 2 minutes. Add the oysters to the pot and cook, stirring often, for an additional 5 minutes. Taste the gumbo and season if necessary.
  4. Garnish with the parsley and green onions and serve in shallow bowls over white rice.
Recommended Wine Pairings - I paired this with the Navarro Vineyards Edelzwicker, a blend of Riesling, Gewurztraminer, and Pinot Gris. It would also pair well with Viognier, a dry Rosé, or White Zinfandel. If you elect to go with a less spicy version try a Pinot Noir!


Take a look at the culinary cornucopia the #SundaySupper team has put together for this week’s gathering around the #SundaySupper table! My recommended wine pairings (click on the name of the wine to find out where to purchase) are italicized.

Main Entrees: 

Pair these main dishes with Pinot Noir.  Look for the 2010 Davis Bynum Pinot Noir. It’s a silky smooth Russian River Valley Pinot Noir with a core of raspberry  and spice aromas and flavors, with caramel edge. Why it works: Pinot goes with just about everything.  It’s a white wine, in red wine clothing, which makes it incredibly flexible with dishes and methods of prep.  Pinot is sublime with poultry, and complements foods that are slow roasted, or braised.

I recommend a Chardonnay for these dishes.  Look for the 2009 MacMurray Ranch Chardonnay Sonoma Coast. It’s a medium-full bodied Chardonnay that’s undergone malolactic fermentation, that’s moderately oaked.  The oak aging brings vanilla and caramel notes to the party to go along with its ripe apple, tropical fruit and lemon cream character.  Why it works: The texture, and weight of wine complement the dish, and it has enough acidity to “cut” the dish a bit and prepare the palate for the next mouthwatering bite.

Pair this dish with a Tempranillo from Rioja Spain.  I really like the 2007 Viña Eguia Reserva. It’s shows great balance between oak and fruit with a cherry, dried herb, spice, leather and vanilla character.  Why it works: Tempranillo is an underrated food pairing partner.  It’s tends to be a light-medium bodied earthy red wine. It’s between a Pinot Noir and Cab.  It’s fruity with moderate tannins, and acidity making it a good fit for somewhat spicy fare like Spanish, Mexican and similarly spiced fare.  

Pair this classic Italian dish with Sangiovese.  Try the 2010 La Mozza I Perazzi Morellino di Scansano. It’s a blend of 85% Sangiovese, 5% Syrah, 5% Alicante, plus a couple of other indigenous Italian grape varieties from Tuscany  It shows juicy red and black berries, with some licorice and spice notes supported by soft dusty tannins.  Why it works: The food of a place and the wine of a place is always a good place to start when pairing wine and food.  On top of that, its high acidity, together with its medium-bodied character enable it to stand up to more substantial dishes.  Sangiovese is a wine that loves dished prepared with fresh herbs, rich thick soups, mushrooms and tomato based dishes

Pair this dish with an Edelzwicker, a blend of the “noble” Alsatian varietals of Riesling, Gewurztraminer, and Pinot Gris.  Look for the 2011 Navarro Vineyards Edelzwicker. It’s an aromatic white wine with a stone fruit, spice, and hint of citrus character. Why it works:  The spicy character of the wine, along with some sweetness (spicy likes sweet) and acidity make a great match!


Pair these hearty dishes with Cabernet Sauvignon.  One of my favorites is the 2010 Columbia Crest Cabernet Sauvignon “H3”  It’s from Washington State, and is a bold wine that delivers delightful floral, dark fruit, cocoa aromas followed by plum, black cherry, vanilla and cocoa flavors. Why it works: Cab works well with red meats, dishes with earthy, herbal elements.  This youthful wine has plenty of fruit which make it a nice complement to longer cooked meats and stews.

Try these dishes these with a Cru Beaujolais (not to be confused with Beaujolais Nouveau hitting the store shelfs soon), a wine from France made from the Gamay grape. Look for the 2010 Georges Debœuf Moulin-à-Vent with a wild red fruits, and white pepper character that a juicy easy drinker.  Why it works: Like Pinot Noir, the Gamay grape is naturally high in acidity, and is light-medium bodied with low tannins. It pair well with dishes with veggies,earthy flavors. Great picnic wine too! Er..but I digress;-)

Syrah is a good match for these hearty flavorful dishes.  I like the 2009 Jacob’s Creek Reserve Barossa Shiraz from Australia. It’s has a fruity core of black cherries, plums, baking spices, and vanilla that balanced by some oak.  Why it works: Syrah is an ample full-bodied wine that likes thicker, fuller dishes like slow braises, stews (especially tomato-based), and one-dish meals.

Pair these dishes with the Sangiovese noted above:
Pair these dishes with the Pinot Noir noted above:
Pair this dishes with the Tempranillo from Rioja noted above:


Pair these soul-warming soups with a Sauvignon Blanc from the Pouilly-Fumé region of the Loire Valley in France. Look for the 2011 Patient Cottat “Le Grand Caillou” Sauvignon Blanc.  It has a lovely tropical fruit, citrus, spice and mineral character with a tangy acidity.  Why it works: Sauvignon Blanc with its “green” (gooseberries, lime, green olive, papaya character and a mineral component attributable to the terroir of the Loire Valley make this a good match for vegetarian soups, spicy (hot) fare, dishes with acidic ingredients.  It’s a very versatile food pairing partner in that it work nicely as a complement or a contrast.

Pair these satisfying soups with Pinot Gris.  I recommend the 2011 King Estate Pinot Gris Signature Collection from Oregon. It has juicy lemon-lime, stone-fruit, green apple, pineapple and spice character.  Why it works: Pinot Gris likes ethic foods, especially coconut-milk based curries. 

Pair the rest of the soups with the aforementioned wines as noted in parentheses:


Pair this Hot Fudge Pudding Cake (That Skinny Chick Can Bake) with the Terra d’Oro Zinfandel “Port”, a dessert wine made for chocolate! I like the what the Wine Enthusiast says about it…”The first duty of a Port-style wine is to be dazzlingly rich and sweet yet balanced in acidity, and this bottling is all that. Waves of blackberry jam, cassis and dark chocolate are brightened with zesty acidity

  • White Hot Chocolate with Orange – GirliChef

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And be sure to check out the #SundaySupper Pinterest board. We’d love to feature your Sunday Supper Soul Warming Recipes and share them with all of our followers.

Jerk Turkey Burgers With Mango Slaw – #SundaySupper with @SchlossiWines

I can’t remember the last time I didn’t have a glass of wine with dinner!  It’s a nightly ritual for my wife and I, who are both ardent wine lovers. So much so that we typically decide which wine we’re in the mood for, THEN we decide what to eat (I suspect most folks do it the other way around!) Regardless of which choice you make first food and wine together are one of life’s great pleasures.  This quotes says it all for me…

“If  food is the body of good living, wine is its soul.” — Clifton Fadiman

Those of you familiar with my ENOFYLZ (that’s oenophiles spelled phonetically in case you’re wondering) blog know it’s a Wine blog.  This week, it’s a Wine and Food blog since I’ve decided to take the leap and prepare a dish and do offer wine pairing recommendations. As a self-described “Wino with latent foodie tendencies”, it seems natural to do the food and wine post!

When I saw the lineup of diverse wine samples provided by the Schlossadler Family of Wines, this week’s Cooking with Wine #SundaySupper, it didn’t take long to decide to make something spicy.  That’s because a.) I love spicy food, and b.) One of the wine and food pairing tenets I’ve had the most success with is “spicy loves sweet”, i.e pair spicy foods with wines that have some sweetness.

I decided on Jerk Turkey Burgers with Mango Coleslaw because it’s a quintessential summer meal and well…it looked easy!   I found the recipe on the Food Network.

For the uninitiated, “Jerk” is a style of cooking native to Jamaica whereby meat (or for that matter, vegetables or tofu) is dry-rubbed or wet marinated with a hot spice mixture called Jamaican jerk spice. I’m sure there are many versions, but the two primary ingredients are allspice and Scotch bonnet peppers.   Other ingredients typically include cinnamon, cloves, garlic, scallions, thyme and salt.

Jerk Turkey Burger with oven-fried sweet potatoes and sliced mango

Here’s the recipe:


  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 tablespoon jerk seasoning, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1 small green apple, peeled and grated
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped scallions
  • 1/4 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise, plus more for brushing
  • 1/4 cup mango chutney, roughly chopped
  • 3 cups shredded green cabbage
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • Canola oil, for the grill
  • 4 hamburger buns or challah rolls, split ( I used whole wheat)

Combine the first 6 ingredients to make the turkey burger patties. Whisk the mayonnaise and chutney in a large bowl. Add the cabbage, carrot and the remaining 1/4 cup scallions, season with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Grill the turkey patties until browned and cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes per side.

Brush the cut sides of the buns with mayonnaise and sprinkle with jerk seasoning; toast on the grill, about 30 seconds. Serve the burgers and slaw on the buns.

What’s a burger without fries?  I decided to add some oven-fried potatoes, and in a epiphanic burst of culinary inspiration (Um…not sure where it came from – though I suspect it’s from insanely creative, new-found foodie friends who set the bar high;-) I decided to garnish with sliced mango.

I’m pleased to report the burgers were a smash hit!  The spicy kick of the jerk seasoning in the burgers was cooled a bit by the mango slaw.  It was a wonderful match with the 2006  H.O. Becker, Kerner Auslese because of its fruity sweetness, which further offset the spicy kick of the burger.  It’s pretty healthy too, especially if you sub something for the mayo!

On the other gustatory delights offered this week by the #SundaySupper bloggers!  Additionally, my tasting notes for each wine and my wine pairing recommendations follow:

2010  Kotuku Winery, Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough

Pale golden-yellow color with aromatic passionfruit, citrus, mineral aromas. On the palate, it’s The medium-bodied, with zesty acidity, and vibrant citrus, tropical fruits, and subtle mineral flavors. Medium-long finish.  Versatile partner with food.

Pair with these delectable dishes…

2010  Ernst Holler, Blaufrankisch, Burgenland

If you’re not familiar with Blaufränkisch (blouw-FRAHN-keesh), here’s a quick 411 – It’s a dark-skinned grape used to make red wine

Ruby color with damp earth, mixed berry, dark cherry, and spice aromas. On the palate, it’s light-medium bodied with very good acidity, supple tannins, and cherry, raspberry, spice, and a hint of cola flavors. Brings to mind Cru Beaujolais! Medium finish. Very food friendly wine.

Pair with these terrific entrees…

2006  H.O. Becker, Kerner Auslese, Rheinhessen

If you not familiar with the Kerner grape (I know I wasn’t), here’s a quick 411 – It’s an aromatic white grape variety that is the offspring of a cross between Trollinger, a red grape variety, and Riesling a noble white grape variety.  It’s named after poet and physician from Justinus Kerner.

Pale golden-yellow color with aromatic lychee, stone-fruit ,  and hints of Muscat and white flower aromas.  On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, fruity  and sweet with vivid white peach, apricot, sweet mineral flavors underscored by racy acidity.  Medium-long finish. I initially thought it was a Rosé because it looked pink, but it turned out be bottled in pink glass.  Perhaps a tribute to its parentage?

Pair with these delightful dishes…

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Wine Of The Week: 2010 Tablas Creek Vermentino

My Wine of the Week (“WoW”) for July 14-July 20 is the 2010 Tablas Creek Vermentino.

The Winery

Tablas Creek (“TCV”) is probably the best-known of all Paso Robles wineries specializing in Rhone style wines.  It is a partnership between Robert Haas, and Chateau de Beaucastel in the Chateauneuf du Pape region in FranceWhat I find interesting about TCV is that they specifically chose to establish themselves in Paso Robles because of the similarities of the soil conditions and climate of Paso Robles to Chateauneuf du Pape.  They went as far as to import vines from Chateauneuf du Pape.  The vines were propagated and grafted in their on-site nursery and used to plant their 120 acre organic vineyards. Check the full story here

The Wine

If you’re not familiar with the Vermentino grape, it’s believed to be Spanish in origin, though the best examples come from the islands of Sardinia, Corsica, and northern Italy.  It is also grown in France where it is known as Rolle, where it is used primarily as a blending grape in Côtes de Provence, and increasingly in the Languedoc-Roussillon in southern France.  It is known for its crisp acidity, citrus and mineral aromas, and refreshing finish.  It pairs well with just about any seafood, oysters on the half-shell, seafood linguine, cioppino, pesto dishes or grilled Mediterranean vegetables.  It’s a classic example of the wine of a place being a reflection of that place – in this case the islands of Corsica and Sardinia, along with Liguria in the coastal region of north-western Italy where fresh seafood abounds.

The 2010 vintage was the ninth bottling of Vermentino for TCV.  The grapes for this wine are grown on their estate vineyard.

I enjoyed this on a warm summer night – al fresco style.  It paired wonderfully with grilled oysters,  and banana-leaf grilled tilapia, accompanied by an avocado, grilled corn, tomato salsa!

My tasting notes follow:

Light straw yellow-gold color with citrus leaf, wet stone, and a hints of honeysuckle aromas. On the palate, it approaches medium-bodied and  is well-balanced with crisp acidity.  It’s bursting with citrus, lime peel, and mineral flavors. Medium finish.

Recommendation: Highly recommended. It’s a great alternative to Sauvignon Blanc!


Alcohol: 13.1% alcohol.

Closure: Screw cap.

AVA:  > CaliforniaCentral CoastPaso Robles

Varietal(s): 100% Vermentino

Cooperage: Stainless Steel

Retail: $25

Cases produced: 1,235


Beat The Heat #SundaySupper – Hot Wine Pairings for “Cool” Food

It may be the hottest summer on record in the U.S.  When it’s THAT hot, the last thing you want to do is turn on the oven or the stove.  I don’t know about you, but I tend to eat more salads or anything I don’t have to cook inside.  This week’s #SundaySupper is all about salads, refreshing drinks, desserts and foods that don’t require baking.  I’m pleased to offer wine recommendations for this great lineup of foods that beat the heat!

Image courtesy of

Check out this week’s lineup of “cool” recipes!  My recommended wine pairings are italicized.

#BeatTheHeat Appetizers:

Rosé is my favorite summertime quaff – it offers the soul of a red wine because it’s predominately made with red wine grapes, but with the cool refreshment of a white wine.  Try the following appetizers with the 2011 Mulderbosch Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé from South Africa. It’s a fabulous wine, and a great deal at less than $10 too!

Try these delightful appetizers with Prosecco, which tend to be fruitier than other sparkling wines produced using the traditional method. That makes them the ideal foil for slightly spicy foods and smoked fish.  Look for La Marca Prosecco.  It has apple, peach and honeysuckle aromas followed by fresh, fruity apple, citrus flavors.

Pair the following appetizer with a Riesling, arguably the most food friendly white wine.  Look for the 2010 Columbia Crest Two Vines Riesling – it’s distinctly off-dry with tropical fruit and citrus aromas, followed by  stone fruit and mild orange flavors rounded out with a crisp refreshing acidity.

The grilled and the cheesy goodness of a baked potato skins will work best with a red.  Look for the 2010 Ménage à Trois, a blend of Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot.  It’s an easy drinking red that can take a chill too because it’s fruity, lower in tannins with good acidity!

#BeatTheHeat Salads, Soups, & Sides:

Try the following dishes with a Sauvignon Blanc.  Look for the 2011 Veramonte Ritual Sauvignon Blanc from Chile – it’s an elegant Sauvignon Blanc that sees a bit of oak, with pineapple, stone fruit, and citrus aromas and flavors.

Riesling will be a nice match for the following dishes.  Go with the 2010 Columbia Crest Two Vines Riesling mentioned above.

Pair  the following soup with a Rosé, or a sparkling Rose either the Mulderbosch, or the Gruet respectively mentioned above.

#BeatTheHeat Main Dishes:

Pair the following main dishes with a Sparkling Rosé.  They are among the most versatile food wines.  I recommend Gruet Rose.  It’s shows lots of red fruit, and the chilled effervescence will have you ready for the next bite of your entrée!

Pair the following main dishes with a crisp refreshing white blend, in this case the 2010 d’Arenberg Stump Jump White – a blend of 28% Riesling, 27% Sauvignon Blanc, 25% Marsanne and 20% Roussanne from McLaren Vale, Australia.  It’s very food friendly with juicy citrus and tropical fruit aromas balanced nicely with good acidity.

#BeatTheHeat Desserts:

I differentiated between the frozen and other desserts because frozen desserts are a treat unto themselves, especially when it’s so hot!  

For these non-frozen desserts my wine recommendations are as follows:
  • Elegant Fruit Jellies ~ Happy Baking Days  – La Marca Prosecco will be a fruity refreshing match for this dessert
  • Raspberry Mousse ~ Basic and Delicious – Pair with Banfi Rosa Regale, a lovely Italian sparkler that offer rose and berry aromas, along with strawberry and raspberry flavors.

#BeatTheHeat Drinks & Cocktails:

Be sure you join the conversation on Twitter throughout the day on Sunday, and at 3:00 p.m. EST for the weekly #SundaySupper Twitter chat!  All you have to do is follow the #SundaySupper hashtag, or you can follow us through TweetChat!  Or check out the #SundaySupper Pinterest board.

#SundaySupper – Celebrating Independence Day with Family, Friends, Food and Wine!

I don’t necessarily think of myself as being very patriotic, but each year around this time we sing “America The Beautiful” at my church, and it chokes me up each time! I truly appreciate this great nation of ours, and feel blessed to be an American.  And that’s what the Fourth of July is about for me.  Okay – well that,  and it’s a great reason to gather with family, and friends share great food and wine!

My food blogging friends have outdone themselves with this week’s #SundaySupper theme – Celebrating Fourth of July with Family and Friends.  It’s big fun, and an honor for a self-described “Wino with latent foodie tendencies” such as myself, to offer some wonderful wines recommendations to match these great recipes!

Here’s a list of this week’s recipes and my recommended wines!

Pair these main course dishes with Zinfandel, an All-American wine if there ever was one!  I recommend the 2009 Ridge Vineyard “Three Valleys” Sonoma Zinfandel Blend.  It’s mostly Zinfandel with some Carignane, Petite Sirah, and Syrah invited to the party.  It’s well-balanced with great fruit, acidity, and a bit of spice!

Pair these main course dishes with a Pinot Noir.  I recommend the 2009 MacMurray Ranch Central Coast Pinot Noir.  This one shows plenty of classic Pinot Noir red fruit flavors and acidity.  And Pinot Noir can take a chill.  Throw it in the ice bucket for 10-15 minutes and you’ll have a delightfully chilled food partner!

What’s the Fourth of July without some sparkle?!  A sparkling Rosé is a great wine for your Independence Day culinary festivities.  It’ll do double duty with these salads/sides and main dishes. Try the Barefoot Bubbly Rosé Cuvée.

Riesling is the white wine version of a “Chef’s wine” because it’s so food friendly.  The 2010 Chateau Ste Michelle Columbia Valley Riesling will be a great match for these ethnic dishes!

Try these salads and sides with a Sauvignon Blanc.  It’s one of the few wines that’ll be a good match for asparagus.  Sauvignon Blanc (a.k.a. Fumé Blanc – it’s the same wine) is a very versatile wine, and has a bold and forthright personality.  Look for the 2010 Dry Creek Vineyard Sonoma County Fumé Blanc. 

For these salads and sides, Chardonnay, America’s favorite white wine, will be great match.  Look for the 2010 Napa Cellars Napa Valley Chardonnay.
Here’s another bubbly that’ll do double duty.  Try an Extra-Dry Sparkling wine with these salads/side and desserts.  The Chandon Extra Dry Riche has got a bit of sweetness that partners well with spicy fare as well as fruity desserts.
As for the last of the salads and sides?  This one needs no wine pairing because it’s made with one of my favorite Fourth of July beverages – Sangria! 
These desserts will be a pair nicely with a late harvest Riesling.  Late harvest wines, as their description implies are wines produced from grapes that are picked late in the season  The extra “hang-time” means the grapes have a higher sugar content, and are therefore sweeter.  I recommend the 2008 Chateau Ste. Michelle Late Harvest White Riesling.  

For these desserts, I recommend a Port.  Look for Graham’s “Six Grapes” Port.

I hereby raise a virtual glass, and I say to you – “Here’s to making memories!”  – because that’s what family, friends, great food and wine are all about! – Cheers!