Holiday Gift Guide

We have a wide selection of curated gifts for the wine & gourmet lover in your life. We can ship wine to Virginia, DC, Florida and California. Non-perishable gourmet items can be shipped nationwide. Here are just a few examples of some of our past favorites! We will be adding new gifting options for the 2023 Holiday Season soon.

Burgundy Gift Boxes

An assortment of lovely burgundy gift boxes with ivory ribbon thoughtfully curated for your corporate gifting needs in the $50 and $75 range.

Hors D’oeuvres Box (Gourmet Only) $75 / $50
An assortment of cheese, charcuterie & gourmet treats

Hors D’oeuvres Box with Wine  $75 / $50
Your choice of bubbles, white or red. Perishable or Non-Perishable

Pasta Night $75 / $50
Features a bottle of wine, pasta, sauce, truffle almonds & chocolate. White or red. Perishable or Non-Perishable.

Dessert Box $75 / $50
Featuring a 375ml bottle of dessert wine & pairings 

Luxe Gifts

Featuring an incredible selection of exquisite holiday offerings in the $125 - $750 range for the wine & gourmet aficionados in your life! 

Crystal’s Cellar Selections $750
Featuring three premium bottles of red wine from Crystal’s Cellar and a cornucopia of decadent gourmet treats to pair with each selection.  Perishable or Non-Perishable. 

Truffle Treasures $375 / $250                                                          
For the gourmet aficionado in your life! This decadent box includes an assortment of Urbani truffle products and a bottle of Brunello di Montalcino. Perishable or Non Perishable. 

Italian Dinner in a Box $275 / $175 / $125
A thoughtfully curated selection of Italian specialty products with wine pairing. Perishable or Non Perishable. 

French Delicacies $275 / $175 / $125                                                              
A thoughtfully curated collection of French delicacies with wine pairing. Perishable or Non Perishable. 

The Local Lovers Box $275 / $175 /$125
A selection of Virginia wine and regionally made gourmet treats! Perishable or Non Perishable. 

Aperitif Box $225 / $150
Restock your bar with an assortment of cocktail specialties. Recipe cards included! 

Paella Party $175
Includes paella pan, rice, seasoning, chorizo, mussels and wine to pair. Plus, a couple of Spanish nibbles to start the evening! Includes perishable items. 

Sherry & Tapas $175
A selection of 3 (375ml) bottles of Sherry with pairings and tasting notes. Includes perishable items.

Après Dinner $175                                                                                            
A decadent selection of dessert wine, espresso, cookies, chocolates, nuts & cheese. Includes perishable items.


2001 Giulio Ferrari Riserva

I have the great pleasure of participating in Protocol Wine Studio’s  #winestudio twitter program this month featuring the iconic sparkling wines of Ferrari. This week, it’s all about exploring the 2001 Giulio Ferrari Riserva.

When I looked at the intriguing tasting notes on the Ferrari website for the 2001 vintage, I couldn’t wait to pop the cork and indulge in a great glass of bubbly. The notes of balsam and white chocolate was all the inspiration I needed to dust off my mixer and make my decadently delicious rosemary, pistachio, white chocolate chip cookies with orange zest in an attempt to create an innovate and fun pairing.

Many people wouldn’t dare to pair a serious sparkling with a mere mortal cookie, but I took the plunge. This, my friends, is pure nirvana for your palate!

Here was my initial impression after my first bite of the sweet and savory cookie.

The first sip was filled with beautiful orange blossom, zesty citrus and oolong tea notes quickly followed by a crescendo of white chocolate and marzipan with toasted almonds mid-palate and a burst of rosemary with a honeyed creamy finish.

This was harmonious and a must try pairing!

Tasting Notes: 2001 Giulio Ferrari Riserva 

This wine has great structure and serious charm. Aromas of honeysuckle, orange blossom, citrus zest, candied ginger, cardamom, marzipan & a touch of herbs and toasted hazelnuts dance in your glass.

The palate is creamy and refined with notes of dried golden delicious apples, tropical fruit, poundcake and citrus zest followed by oolong spice and a long lingering finish.

Recipe: Rosemary, Pistachio, White Chocolate
Chip Cookies


2 1/4 cups organic all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda, 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar & 3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. orange blossom honey
2 large eggs
1 tbsp. orange zest
2 tsp. fresh rosemary (muddled in a mortar & pestle)
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup dry roasted pistachios


PREHEAT oven to 375° F. COMBINE flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add orange zest. Add orange blossom honey in a continuous stream while mixing on low. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Add the Rosemary from the mortar & pestle. Mix well. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto parchment paper & baking sheets. BAKE for 7 to 9 minutes or until golden brown. This is a modified recipe from

Thanksgiving Wines: Top 12 Under $30

Selecting the perfect Thanksgiving wine doesn’t have to be a source of stress and it doesn’t have to break the bank.  Consider starting your festivities with a sparkling brut rosé as an aperitif and then opt for a white and a red option for your main course and let your guests decide what pairing they enjoy the most. Read more…

Baby Back Ribs & Zinfandel

Sticky, smoky and sweet baby back ribs are a summer staple and a classic partner for those game-day tailgate parties. Sure, most people think of grabbing a cold beer with barbecue, but I promise the right wine pairing can literally blow your mind. There are so many styles of BBQ, so for this post, I am focusing on the Kansas City style that boasts that thick jammy, sweet, smoky and spicy sauce. My go-to wine pairings are a  fruit forward, spicy Zinfandel or a rich, smoky Syrah.  The intense smokiness of ribs can be challenging to pair with wine, often overpowering the vino. Remember, the perfect pairing should complement one another and highlight the flavor profiles in both the food and wine.  Since, we are talking about casual food here, I have chosen a few budget-friendly wines under $20 to pair with Kansas City BBQ Pork Ribs.

Recommended Producers


Chinese Food & Wine Pairings

Chinese food is perhaps one of the trickiest types of cuisine to pair with wine, but there are a few tried-and-true options that won’t disappoint. Chinese food covers the entire spectrum of flavors, from sweet and sour chicken to the slightly spicy General Tso’s chicken all the way to spicy Hunan beef with lots of dried chilis.

Since Chinese food is meant for sharing, there’s a very good chance you may have all of those flavors on your plate at the same time, which can greatly impact the wine in your glass. My top choice for versatility is an off-dry Riesling. The mouthwatering acidity is perfect with all the oil used in Chinese cooking and the lower alcohol in Riesling won’t exacerbate the spice in those hot dishes. In fact, it will provide a nice cooling agent for your palate.  A Gewurtztraminer can also work quite well with mild spices. Now, I know what you’re probably thinking – Riesling and beef? Yes, it can work quite well together, because we are taking all of the other flavors into considerations with this pairing.

A dry to off-dry rosé comes in next on my list for Chinese food pairings. The vibrant fruit flavors and refreshing acidity are a great bridge wine that works quite well with a myriad of flavors and foods. It has kind of a laid-back personality and won’t compete for top billing against your meal. Try the Von Buhl Spatburgunder (Pinot Noir) Rosé (SRP: $18) out of Germany. Von Buhl also makes an excellent Sekt (sparkling Riesling), which brings me to my next choice – sparkling wine.

A great sparkling wine with a touch of residual sugar like a German Sekt or Vouvray Demi-Sec from the Loire Valley of France are simply perfect. The saltiness in the cuisine brings out the fruit notes in the wine and the bubbles act as an intermezzo of sorts, gently cleansing your palate in between bites.

Recommended Producers (Everyday Rieslings)

High-Def Riesling, Mosel, Germany (SRP: $12)
Dr. Loosen “Dr. L” Riesling, Mosel, Germany (SRP: $13)
Kung Fu Girl Riesling, Columbia Valley, Washington, USA (SRP: $14)

Grilled Pork Chops w/Mushrooms & Pinot Noir

Pinot and Pork are a match made in heaven, especially when you incorporate herbs and rustic mushrooms in the dish.

Pinot Noir is known for its red fruit, low to moderate tannins, mouthwatering acidity and earthy characteristics. Try a side of sautéed mushrooms with fresh rosemary and thyme to take this pairing to a whole new level. The fresh herbs brings out the fragrant herbal and sweet spice notes in the wine and the mushrooms work in perfect harmony with the earthy notes in the wine. Pinot Noir is one of the most difficult grapes to grow, but when the conditions are right, it makes for one of the most elegant, collectible wines in the world. If you are looking for a value Pinot Noir under $20, look to Chile, New Zealand or try a Pinot Nero from Italy.

Serve pork chops with your favorite side dish or over a bed of creamy, earthy mushroom risotto.

Spaghetti w/Meatballs & Barbaresco

The next time you entertain with your grandmother’s famous spaghetti and meatball recipe, take your dinner party to the next level by pairing this signature dish with a rich, full bodied Barbaresco.

Barbaresco is made from the Nebbiolo grape in the Piedmont region of Northwest Italy.  Nebbiolo is also the grape behind the famous Barolo wines and the lesser known Gattinara. The wines are named by the region they come from. All three styles have the classic notes of tar, roses, anise and mushroom. However, Italian law mandates that the Barolo style requires longer time in barrel. The old saying goes, Barolo is made for kings and Barbaresco is made from queens. Barolo’s are more masculine and robust, while Barbaresco’s are considered to be a little more elegant and graceful.

Barolo’s are nothing short of amazing, in fact they are one of my all time favorite wines, but Barbaresco’s offer a lot of the charm of a Barolo with a slightly lower price point. Since, a lot of people aren’t that familiar with Barbaresco, you can often find a great value on these wines at restaurants. The flavor profile coupled with its high acidity and tannins make this a great dinner wine for a wide array of Italian dishes from Spaghetti w/Meatballs, to Osso Bucco to Carbonara. If you’re looking for a budget-friendly pairing, grab a bottle of Barbera, Dolcetto or Chianti.



Recommended Producers 

Note: SRP refers to the average price for the newest vintage, since these wines can age for decades, they can easily fetch well over $100 for an older vintage

Top 5 Wines to Pair with Salad

Salads can really pose a challenge when it comes to wine pairings. There are many components to consider when selecting the perfect wine for that bed of greens. For example, spicy greens like arugula and bitter greens like radicchio can create havoc with the flavor profile of a wine. A good rule of thumb is to stick with an unoaked, light to medium dry or off-dry white wine or rosé with vibrant acidity. This style will complement almost any salad. You want a wine with good acidity to mirror the acidity of the salad dressing. If you really enjoy an oaky Chardonnay, make sure to pair it with a neutral green like green leaf or romaine and top the salad with a dense, rich protein like lobster, crab cakes or roast chicken.

Here are my top 5 wines to pair with salad:

1. Sauvignon Blanc – This is a popular grape that grows well across the world.  The typical flavor profile of this varietal includes notes of bright citrus, tropical fruit, gooseberry, fresh cut grass and asparagus. If you are searching for a wine with more citrus aromas look to New Zealand. If you love a Sauvignon Blanc with stony minerality, reach for a Sancerre from the Loire Valley.  This is a great selection for salads topped with goat cheese or shellfish.

2. Riesling – An off-dry Riesling is one of the most food-friendly wines on the planet. This works particularly well with a southwest salad, spicy thai salad, seaweed salad, crab salad and bitter greens. A touch of sweetness is a nice counterpoint to endive and radicchio.

3. Albarino – This is a refreshing alternative to Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc that hails from Rias Biaxas, Spain.  Albarino is a soft, feminine wine that often exudes exotic floral notes of jasmine, bright citrus, tropical and stone fruits along with a touch of salinity that comes from the terroir along the Atlantic coast of Spain.

4. Rosé  –  A mineral driven dry rosé is the perfect partner with greens drizzled with raspberry vinaigrette and fresh berries. Many rosés boast juicy berry aromas and have vibrant acidity.

5. Pinot Grigio/Pinot Blanc – When in doubt, grab a glass of light, crisp and refreshing Pinot Grigio or Pinot Blanc. These wines tend to be simple and straightforward with notes of lemon and pear and refreshing acidity. Pair this with a greek salad with feta and lemon vinaigrette.

Top 5 Wines to Pair with Salmon

With every new year comes a resolve to get a little healthier for many of us. Whether you vow to lose a few pounds or simply lower your cholesterol, wine can play a role in your healthy lifestyle. There are many studies extolling the health benefits associated with wine and it’s low carb too! A 5 ounce pour of dry white wine has roughly 120 calories and 4 grams of carbs. The same pour of dry red wine has 130 calories and 6 carbs. So rest assured, you can have your wine and drink it too, as long as it’s in moderation.

In this week’s top 5 list, you will find some great wine pairing ideas for heart healthy salmon. Keep in mind when it comes to creating the perfect pairing, sauces and seasoning play a critical role. Salmon is a delicious fatty fish that requires a wine with substantial acidity to cut through the oiliness of the fish.

Top 5 Wines to Pair with Salmon 

1. Sancerre – Sancerre is a region in the Loire Valley of France that produces intense mineral driven wines with piercing acidity made from the  Sauvignon Blanc grape. This is the perfect companion for seared salmon salad or a mediterranean preparation with feta and capers.

2. Soave – This is a great alternative to Pinot Grigio. Soave is an appellation within the Veneto area of Italy. This wine is made primarily from the Garganega grape. It’s a light bodied dry white wine with fragrant aromas of citrus and stone fruit. The mouthwatering acidity make it a great pairing with salmon. Pair this smoked salmon or a lemon caper preparation.  Look for the word “Classico” on the label, this term indicates that the wine came from a better vineyard site.

3. Rosé  – It’s time to rethink pink. While rosés are made throughout the world, a mineral driven dry rosé from Provence, France or Germany are the perfect dancing partners with  salmon. I particularly love this pairing with a salmon salad over a bed of arugula with strawberries and goat cheese. Many rosés boast juicy berry aromas and have piercing acidity that make it so incredibly perfect with fatty salmon. This wine acts like a little windshield wiper cleansing your palate in between bites.

4. Pinot Noir – If your preparation and side dishes are on the earthier side of the spectrum  like a mushroom demi-glace with a fennel gratin, opt for a lighter red with higher acidity like Pinot Noir. Some of my favorite Pinot’s come from Burgundy, Carneros, Russian River Valley and  Willamette Valley.  For great values try experimenting with Chilean Pinot Noir, German Spatburgunder or Italian Pinot Nero.

5. Cabernet Franc – This blending grape of Bordeaux is experiencing great promise in America. It’s actually referred to as the Pinot of Bordeaux. When picked at the peak of perfection you will experience an earthy wine with bountiful aromas of juicy red raspberry, violet and sage. This is a perfect pairing with seared salmon with a Herbs de Provence crust and lentils.


Christmas Pairings

Now that your Christmas shopping is “hopefully” finished, it’s time to turn your attention to the holiday feast.  As you plan your perfect meal, don’t forget about the wine! The right wine and food pairings can turn your meal from good to great! Since there are so many traditions this time of year, I chose some popular meals and provided some great Christmas pairings that will please even the pickiest palate at your dinner table.

Beef tenderloin with a Bordeaux reduction served with a side of lobster mac and Maytag blue cheese is a stable in our house for Christmas dinner. It’s the best surf and turf you will ever eat! Since tenderloin is a leaner cut of beef, you want to choose a wine with  moderate tannins. A wine too tannic will overwhelm the palate. However, the creaminess and higher fat content in the mac and cheese will give you a little more flexibility.  A left bank Bordeaux would be an awesome choice to play off the flavor notes in the reduction.  A Napa Cabernet Sauvignon with a little bit of age is also a perfect dancing partner for this dish (tannins mellow with age).  Some of my favorite California Cabs with this dish include Jordan, Cade, Pride Mountain and Stag’s Leap Artemis.  Other red options include a Syrah, Chateuneuf du Pape or even a well balanced Zinfandel like Grgich HillsRafanelli or Robert Biale’s Black Chicken out of California.  The Zin works particularly well if you do a pepper crust on the tenderloin. The Cab is amazing with an herb crusted tenderloin.

When it comes to ham, there are a few options that make outstanding pairings.
For white options, choose an off-dry Riesling or a Gewürztraminer. These options work particularly well with a maple glazed or honey ham. These varietals offer the perfect foil for the salty ham. The saltiness brings out the fruit notes in the wine and the vibrant acidity found in these two varietals is the perfect palate cleanser.  Adding a pinch of clove to the maple glaze will bring out some of the sweet spice notes in the Gewürztraminer. If you prefer red, Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir are excellent choices.  The red fruit notes of both varietals play well off the sweet notes of the maple glaze. The Trimbach Gewürztraminer is a great choice and easy to find.  The Dr. Loosen “Blue Slate” Riesling  or the “Dr. L” out of Germany is a great value friendly selection. If your looking for something a little more elegant look for a Grand Cru Alsatian Riesling. When it comes to Cab Franc, Virginia is offering some great selections from Barboursville, Fabbioli and Chatham Vineyards or try a “Chinon” from the Loire Valley of France.

Braised short ribs with porcini risotto is another great holiday meal. Nothing says warm, cozy and satisfying like this dish. You want a hearty wine to stand up to this meal. Consider keeping with tradition and choose an Italian red like a Brunello, Chianto Classico or Barbaresco. The high acidity and high tannic structure in these wines provide the perfect counterpoint to the weightiness of this fabulous meal. Antinori, Banfi and Pio Cesare are all excellent producers of Italian wines.


Lamb chops or leg of lamb marinated with fresh herbs (rosemary  & thyme) and garlic is also an elegant option for Christmas dinner.  I like an earthy meaty wine like a Syrah or Cotes du Rhone from the Rhone Valley of France with lamb. You can also opt for a Barbaresco from Piedmont, Italy or you can’t go wrong with a classic Cabernet from Napa.

Again lamb is a leaner cut of meet, so look for wines with a little age on it for mellower tannins.

If you’re preparing venison for dinner, a Chateauneuf du Pape or Red Burgundy (Pinot Noir) is an excellent choice. And if you are opting for turkey, check out our Thanksgiving wine pairings for some great ideas under $30.

Once you have selected the perfect wines, make sure to serve them at the proper temperature and don’t forget to decant your red wines for 30 minutes to an hour before the meal! It will make a big difference in the flavor profile. Decanting will also mellow out the tannins.  Check out the 20/20 rule for achieving the perfect serving temperature.

So now that your shopping is done, presents are wrapped  and your menu is planned, kick back with a great glass of vino. You deserve it. Happy Holidays!





Pecan Squares & Malvaxia Passito

In search of the perfect dessert wine to pair perfectly with your cheese plate, pumpkin pecan pie, apple cobbler or pineapple upside down cake? Look no further than the Barboursville Malvaxia Passito out of Virginia.

For all of you wine connoisseurs out there, this wine is a bit reminiscent of a Tokaji from Hungary.  Luca Paschina,  winemaker for Barboursville Vineyards, best known for the “Octagon,” an award winning Bordeaux style blend, hit another  grand slam with this exquisite dessert wine.

The 2008 Malvaxia is a blend of Vidal Blanc and Moscato Ottonel varietals. The grapes are dried out like raisins in the traditional Passito method in an effort to concentrate the flavors and sugars.

Tasting Notes: 2008 Barboursville Malvaxia Passito, Orange County, Virginia 

This is a rich and opulent wine with a beautiful honey amber hue. Aromas of juicy stone fruit of peach and apricot followed by candied pineapple, candied lemon peel, sweet anjou pear, orange blossom and a hint of sweet baking spice swirl in your glass. The palate is rich and balanced with intense fruit flavors of candied pineapple, dried apricot and pumpkin pie spice that lead to a long lingering and decadent finish with good acidity.

This lusciously sweet dessert wine is a perfect pairing with savory foods like foie gras or an aged cheese plate (Stilton w/Fig Jam) and absolutely delicious with an array of sweet desserts including this pecan square recipe from Ina Garten. I modified this recipe and added a 1/4 teaspoon of clove and 2 teaspoons of cinnamon in the topping to play off the spice notes in the wine.


Labor Day Wine Pairings

As we bid a fond farewell to yet another summer season, let’s celebrate with a true labor of love – a great glass of wine paired with our favorite summertime treat! Whether you are firing up the grill this holiday weekend or having a picnic on the beach, we have you covered with an array of wine that will pair perfectly with your feast.

When it comes to pairing, keep in mind that meat is often a blank canvas and finding the perfect wine has everything to do with sauces, spices and other toppings. Here’s a rundown of wine pairing recommendations for some of your favorite summer dishes.

White Wines:

Chicago Style Hot DogSauvignon Blanc – Whether it’s a mineral driven Sancerre, a refined Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc or a bold ruby red grapefruit driven Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, these dry, crisp, acidic wines with layers of citrus and fresh cut grass pairs perfectly with an array of summertime fare including:

  • Salads
  • Shellfish
  • Grilled Salmon
  • Hot Dogs w/ Relish or “Chicago Style”
  • Lemon Chicken
  • Goat Cheese & Heirloom Tomato Bruschetta

Riesling – A touch of residual sugar and piercing acidity make Riesling an exquisite pairing with many dishes including:

  • Sushi w/wasabi
  • Assorted Shellfish (Clams, Oysters, Mussels, Shrimp, Scallops, Crab)
  • Salads
  • BBQ (vinegar based)
  • Fried Chicken
  • Chesapeake Baja Burger 
  • Grilled Peach wrapped in Prosciutto w/Balsamic Glaze

Albarino – This refreshing white wine from Rias Biaxas, Spain offers exotic floral notes & bright citrus with a touch of salinity due to its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean. Pairs well with:

  • Assorted Shellfish (Clams, Oysters, Mussels, Shrimp, Scallops, Crab)
  • Grilled & Fried Chicken
  • Salads

Muscadet – An inexpensive varietal (most under $12) with citrus, mineral notes & a touch of salinity from the Loire Valley of France, that pairs perfectly with:

  • Assorted Shellfish (Clams, Oysters, Mussels, Shrimp, Scallops, Crab)

Vouvray – Another great wine from the Loire Valley of France, made from the Chenin Blanc grape. Vouvray tends to have a touch of sweetness that makes for an excellent pairing with seafood and foods with a touch of spice. o

  • Assorted Shellfish (Clams, Oysters, Mussels, Shrimp, Scallops, Crab Legs)
  • Crabacado “Shrimp” Rolls
  • Grilled Chicken

Red Wines:

Beaujolais – Similar to a Pinot Noir, this dry fruity red made from the Gamay grape from southern France is a perfect light-medium bodied summer red. Serve slightly chilled with:

  • BBQ Chicken
  • Mushroom Swiss Burgers
  • Grilled Salmon
  • Italian Sandwiches

Pinot Noir  – A classic & elegant medium bodied wine with red fruit notes, a hint of spice & moderate tannins pairs  well with:

  • Mushroom Swiss Burger
  • Cedar Plank Salmon o BBQ Chicken
  • Brie & Raspberry Phyllo Cups

Syrah/Shiraz – The French style from the Rhone Valley boasts more meaty characteristics like bacon, while the Australian and American style are more fruit driven. A young Syrah from northern Rhone tends to have moderate tannins and a little smokiness that goes great with: 

Zinfandel – The high acidity, tannic structure,  jammy notes and hint of spice make Zinfandel a perfect match for:

  • Steaks
  • Bacon Blue Cheeseburgers
  • Baby Back Ribs
  • Chili Cheese Dogs

Tempranillo – Look for Rioja or Tempranillo on the label. Rioja is a region in Spain that makes a full bodied red wine from the Tempranillo grape. This is a versatile, great value red that works with many dishes including:

  • Steak Chimichurri
  • Steak Fajitas
  • Baby Back Ribs
  • Steaks
  • Aged Cheddar Burgers

Rosé Wines: 

This is not your grandmother’s White Zinfandel! A dry rosé is a great bridge wine that pairs well with everything from shrimp salad to cheeseburgers. Rosé is made from an array of red varietals. The common ones are Pinot Noir, Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, Cinsault & Tempranillo. Some winemakers blend in a little white wine to bring out citrus notes in the final product. It’s the best of both worlds, a chilled wine with notes and flavors of red wine that make a great addition to your picnic & barbecue fare

  • Sandwiches
  • Salads
  • Pasta Salad
  • Seafood/Shellfish
  • Fried Chicken
  • Grilled Veggies w/Balsamic Glaze

PAIRING NOTE: If your favorite dish has some spice, stick with a demi-sec sparkling, Riesling with a touch of residual sugar or a fruit forward red with low tannins and lower alcohol. Alcohol exacerbates the heat in your food. Also when it comes to salads, a high acid white wine without oak works well because it mirrors the acidity in most salad dressings. However watch the endive, radichhio & arugula – the spice can leave a bitter taste on your back palate.




Photo Credits:

Chicago Style Hot Dog: <a href=””>star5112</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>cc</a>

2012 Stag’s Leap Chardonnay

Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars (SLWC) became one of the premiere California wineries after its 1973 Cabernet Sauvignon took home top honors at the 1976 Judgement of Paris in its respective category. This prestigious recognition put America on the international wine map. For nearly two decades Stag’s Leap enjoyed a tremendous following and accolades from critics and consumers alike.

In the early 2000’s SLWC faced quality issues in the cellar that left a bitter taste on many palates.  After a challenging few years, cellar upgrades and new ownership in 2007, Stag’s Leap is making quite a come back. Wine Spectator’s James Laub profiles the evolution of Stag’s Leap in this article from 2012 and discusses how an unflattering yeast spoiled many past vintages.

Long Renowned for its robust and elegant Cabs, SLWC also produces cool climate Chardonnays worthy of a place at your next dinner party. After an austere vintage in 2011, the 2012 vintage was deemed outstanding by the Wine Institute.

The 2012 Stag’s Leap Chardonnay has robust notes of lemon curd, granny smith apple, crisp pear, white peach and a touch of pineapple with a hint of salinity on the nose. The vibrant citrus flavors coupled with the bright acidity provide a beautiful foil for luscious lobster or decadent crab meat. The mouthful has a medium weight with a medium long finish thanks to the lees aging and subtle oak aging.

Pairs perfectly with crab cakes, lobster rolls, swordfish and roast chicken.


2013 Abbazia di Novacella Kerner

The 2013 Abbazia di Novacella Kerner from Alto Adige, Italy is this week’s feature wine.  Kerner is a an aromatic white grape that was created in 1929 by crossing two German grapes (Riesling and Trollinger).  Abbazia is one of the world’s oldest wineries dating back more than 800 years.  It was founded by the Augustinian Order of Canons Regular in 1142 and has a steep tradition in making exceptional wines.

Seared scallops over a bed of bacon corn salad paired with Kerner


This wine is made from 100% Kerner grapes and is a great alternative to Pinot Grigio. It offers exotic aromas of white flower, juicy apple, ripe peach, lemon curd and a hint of tropical fruit. The palate bursts with ripe juicy fruit and offers refreshing acidity with a crisp finish. It simply reminds me of summer in a glass. Pair this with an array of seafood from sushi and seared scallops to crab cakes. I also really love this wine with baked lemon ricotta. The cheese makes the sweet lemon and tropical fruit burst on your palate. Consume within 1-2 years.

Check out my video review on the 2013 Abbazia di Novacella Kerner.

Chocolate Cupcakes & Rosa Regale

The Banfi Rosa Regale Brachetto d’Acqui from Italy is a go-to with just about any chocolate dessert. It’s the perfect partner for dark chocolate, chocolate mousse cake with raspberry sauce and raspberry infused chocolate truffles.  This a semi-dry wine that boasts a beautiful bright ruby color and has sumptuous notes of sweet raspberry, strawberries and floral aromas of rose petals.  It’s also delicious with lemon meringue pie, baked lemon ricotta and New York cheesecake with strawberry sauce. The perfect ending to any celebration.

Tasting Notes: Banfi Rosa Regale Brachetto (375ML half-bottle), Piedmont, Italy (SRP: $13) 

The bouquet is filled with aromas of juicy strawberries and raspberries with floral notes of rose petals, while the palate provides a burst of intense ripe raspberry & a touch of baking spice.