If you have ever seen a bottle of “The Other” wine either in a red blend, or a white blend, you will know the label is somewhat seductive with the silhouette of the backside of a naked women showing. Well, if that is not enough to get the old mind going, the fact that the label simply states “The Other” makes you start wondering “the other what?” The other woman, the other bottle, the other wine…? In reality all it stands for is the “The Other Red” and “The Other White”, pretty clever though, huh? A nice marketing tactic if you ask me. These tastefully seductive and sin-sually delicious (yes, right off the clever label) wines are produced by Peirano Estate Vineyards in Lodi, California. A fourth generation wine making family, Peirano makes reasonably priced quality wines. I am currently drinking The Other Red, but have sampled the Heritage Collection Petite Sirah and enjoyed that Peirano wine as well. The Other Red is composed of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 10% Syrah. The bouquet on this wine is mostly that of ripe cherries with just a hint of oak, but when tasted the wine offers much more oak than the nose would lead you to believe. A long finish rounds out this lovely easy drinking red. Pick up a bottle today and I recommend trying other varietals in the Peirano Estate family of wines as well.
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On our recent trip to Napa Valley I purchased a wine gadget I had noticed in many of the wineries and wine shops we have visited. As a true believer in decanting wine I finally decided I had to try one. The Vinturi Essential Wine Aerator for red wine is in my opinion one of the few “wine gadgets” that actually lives up to its claims. The small hand held unit is designed to aerate wine poured through it, by drawing in air through two air tubes as the wine flows through it. As described on the Vinturi web site. “When wine is poured in the Vinturi its internal design creates an increase in the wine’s velocity and a decrease in its pressure. This pressure difference creates a vacuum that draws in air which is mixed with wine for perfect aeration.”
I was more than surprised when I arrived home with my new toy and tried it out by pouring a young tannic Cabernet I had already tasted through it. While subtle the change in the bouquet, flavors and finish were very pleasing. Not sure if I was ready to believe, I tried another selection and again was impressed. It has been several months since our trip and Vinturi purchase and I can honestly state the little tool that could is now a permanent staple of our wine drinking. In fact I love it so much that my next purchase will be the Vinturi for white wine, yes white wine can also benefit from aeration.
To purchase your own Vinturi click on the link below:
Our second post with wining and dinning at 30,000ft and already I have decided to change it up a bit. As I sit here writing this “currently cruising at 38,000ft with 3 hours and 20 minutes left, sunny skies and temperature of 80 at our destination” my thoughts drift back to the great week I just spent in San Antonio, Texas. When you think of San Antonio or even Texas for that matter, wine is probably not what first comes to mind. For me it was the Alamo, texmex and great BBQ.
We arrived in San Antonio late Friday night a few days ahead of a conference. I always like to travel at least a day in advance so I can get settled and check out the local scenery, especially if I have not been to that particular area before. I had Saturday and most of Sunday to do a little exploring so following a stop at the Alamo, we decided to take a ride outside of the city. I asked the bell hop where we could go to see “real south Texas,” I really have no idea what “real south Texas” would be, but I was looking for something other than the hustle of the city and I was also looking for some good BBQ!
He recommended that I take a ride to Fredericksburg, Texas, which is a quaint city 70 miles northwest of San Antonio. The trip was only supposed to take around an hour, so with the best of intentions we set out on our journey. Approximately 15 miles outside of San Antonio on I-10 we were at a stand still. The digital sign read severe delays ahead and there was no sign of any type of a progress towards Fredericksburg. I decided to get off I-10 and attempt to reset the GPS in an effort to get around the traffic. After 20 minutes of intense negotiation, I had failed to convince the GPS that there actually was another way than I-10. Failure accepted, I decided on another approach a $5.00 map of Texas courtesy of CVS.
I took my “vintage” navigation device, spread it out on the hood of the rental car and planned my diversion around the parking lot on I-10. The only significant road that I could make out that ran parallel to I-10 was 16 which would take me up to 46 and back onto I-10 above the traffic jam. It was a 30 mile detour, but I was on a mission. The ride along 16 and 46 allowed me to see the “real south Texas.” There was a lot of open space, 70 mph speed limit and plenty of huge ranches. Finally, we met up with I-10 and headed toward 87 north, through the town of Comfort, Texas and after approximately 20 more miles of wide open land and ranches we arrived in Fredericksburg.
After driving around we finally found a parking spot on a side street and proceeded to walk around. Main Street Fredericksburg is very wide and lined with many different shops and restaurants. The sole reason for taking the drive to Fredericksburg was to find some great southern BBQ, so we set out to locate the best of the best. The bell hop back at the hotel had stated that there were many good BBQ restaurants. Unfortunately, after walking the whole street, it was looking like I would have to trade my BBQ ribs for Weiner schnitzel instead. As the Fredericksburg Chamber of commerce website states, “The German families that settled Fredericksburg were proud of their education and culture. That spirit endures to the Fredericksburg of today.” http://www.fredericksburg-texas.com/External/WCPages/
Instead of BBQ, you will find mostly German potato salad, bratwurst and other German specialties. Another thing you will find in Fredericksburg is wine tasting rooms. We stopped at several tasting rooms that promoted Texas wines. Call me naive, but tasting wine never crossed my mind as I planned our road trip. If you visit the Fredericksburg Chamber of commerce page listed above, there is a brief history on the Texas wine industry. The history states that Texas wine making predates California wine making. Who knew Texas even had a wine industry?!! The history goes onto to state that “Texas is the country’s fifth-leading wine-producing state in the nation and is home to more than 54 wineries that produce over one million gallons of wine.”
Some of the wineries located in the Fredericksburg area include:
Bell Mountain Vineyards http://www.bellmountainwine.com
Chisholm Trail Winery http://www.chisholmtrailwinery.com
Fredericksburg Winery http://www.fbgwinery.com
Grape Creek Vineyards http://www.grapecreek.com
For a more complete list visit: http://www.fredericksburg-texas.com/WineriesVineyards
After wining our way along the main street, I was overjoyed to see the most amazing site. A little BBQ stand located right next to the World War II museum, I promptly ordered a plate full of ribs and sat back to enjoy the scenery.
If you are planning a trip to Fredericksburg check out the following sites for more information:
Fredericksburg Chamber of Commerce www.fredericksburg-texas.com
Fredericksburg Food and Wine Fest http://www.fbgfoodandwinefest.com/
Fredericksburg Texas http://www.fredericksburgtexas.info/
Following the BBQ, we piled back in the car and headed back to the Alamo City. No delays this time and in just over an hour we were back at the hotel and headed for the Riverwalk. I would definitely recommend visiting Fredericksburg the next time you are in San Antonio, it’s a great day trip or even spend the night in one of their many bed and breakfasts.
As I sit here condensed in my economy seat I am reminded of my last posting which listed the Continental Airlines wine list. I wrote that on flights “lasting over 3.5 hours there you can pair any above selection with a hot meal at lunch/dinner.” I feel it beneficial to inform you that on flights over 3.5 hours between Newark Airport and San Antonio your hot/meal dinner consists of a salad, turkey hotdog in a croissant and small Kit Kat bar. If you can find a wine on their list that pairs well with a turkey hotdog wrapped in croissant, more power to you. Until next time, salude!!
I am in the process of reading the book; The House of Mondavi, the rise and fall of an American wine Dynasty by Julia Flynn Siler. The book was first published in June 2007 and is a fascinating look deep inside the Napa Valley’s well known Mondavi family. I have not yet finished the book, but already I have learned so much that I did not know. For example, most people know the name Robert Mondavi, hailed by some as the father or founder of Napa Valley as we know it today. While, Robert was clearly the most outspoken Mondavi there is a whole family tree of Mondavi’s dating back to the early 1900’s. It begins with Cesare and Rosa Mondavi, Peter and Robert Mondavi’s parents. Cesare an immigrant that imparted his wise business skills to his sons was the head of the family until his death in 1959 when the fighting between the brothers could no longer be controlled. There were also the daughters of Cesare and Rosa, Helen and Mary Mondavi who were involved in the wine business but much less than their brothers. The book leads you through the early days when the family purchased the Krug winery, the turmoil amongst the family members, the divorces, the deaths, and of course, the winemaking.
As I mentioned, I am in the process of reading the book and will provide a complete review once completed. However, I already recommend the book to anyone with a love of wine and the history of the Valley.
To purchase a copy of this book click here.
Tonight we are sampling the 2007 California Estates, Greg Norman North Coast Cabernet Sauvignon. Wow, Greg Norman, the man, the golfer, the legend, the entrepreneur, and wine producer. I’d say the man also known as the shark has had two careers most of us would only dream of. Both a golf career and wine career are about passions in life, not just a paycheck or another day in the office. Don’t get me wrong, I am sure he has worked very hard at his passions in order to be as successful as he has, I’m just thinking it has to be a little more fun than what I am used to in a day’s work.
Back to the wine, Greg Norman first made wine in Australia and then in California. According to his California Estates website, Greg first experienced California wines when he was chosen to represent Australia back in 1976 for the World Cup of Golf. I guess you could say the rest is history. His passion for wine continued to grow and in 1990 with the help of some winemakers from Beringer Blass that Greg partnered with, he founded Greg Norman Estates.
The North Coast area consists of land in the Napa, Sonoma, Lake and Mendocino counties, where some of the best fruit is grown. This wine exhibits a dark ruby red color with blackberry, black cherry and herb flavors. The tannins are particularly mild for a young wine, although we did decant for one half hour based on the age of the wine. A mild smooth finish completes this wine with just a hint of oak at the end. I would certainly try other varietals of Greg Norman wines as well as purchase the Cabernet again and encourage our readers to do the same. I should also mention the Cabernet is a good value, priced under $20.00.
“Let the good times roll!”
A free admission party held on Napa’s First Street on October 3rd from 1:00-6:00PM.
Featuring entertainment, cooking demonstrations, great brews, awesome Cajun cooking to enjoy, wine tasting and fun activities for the entire family. Napa chefs will share trade secrets and tips as you relax in the Chef’s Pavilion. Featured chefs will be Greg Cole of Cole’s Chop House & Celadon, Chris Aken; Executive chef at Avia Napa Hotel and Joe Salerno of Piccolino’s Italian Restaurant and Bar. Entertainment will showcase performances, and authentic sounds of New Orleans. Sounds like a fantastic day for one and all.
For more information visit: http://napadowntown.com/cajun-festival.html
Well, I saw a sign today that read 15% off all white wines and to me that means the summer has truly come to an end. It might not have been the intent of the sale and it may not mean the same to year round white wine drinkers, but to me it signaled the end of the hot season here on the East coast. Don’t get me wrong , I don’t dislike white wine and depending on the menu I may start my evening with a white wine, but I always switch over to red rather quickly. I sit here thinking about that sign and wonder what the store owner intended to do. Was he simply appealing to the white wine drinkers, will he have another 15% off sale and target red wine drinkers? Maybe, but it is interesting to me to think of all of the ways one may interpret that sign. It is odd, sort of like our taste for wine. You can be a white wine drinker and not love all white wine. Possibly you like the heavier oak flavored chardonnay wines, or you could be a fan of the crisper, lighter whites. The heavier white wines extract some of their flavors from the oak barrels they were aged in, while the lighter, crisp, clean whites aged in stainless steel tanks do not pick up additional flavors or tannins from the vessel they are aged in. The thought process here is endless, both about the sign and about each of our tastes in wine. There is no right or wrong, it is simply our own thoughts, our own choices in wine and our own tastes. However, being the red wine drinker I am, I think I need to inquire when the 15% off red wine sale will be.
Welcome to our new blog called Wining and Dining at 30,000 ft. In this blog we will take a look into the world of wine and food on commercial airlines. Each month (or sooner is I have time) we will cover a commercial airline and review what wine and dining options are available. Airlines generally offer different selections depending on their destination in the world.
With that in mind, we will begin our review with North American domestic carriers. I may throw in an international carrier once in a while so readers can compare how different the services can be. With all that said, please sit back, place your tray tables down, your seats back, pour a glass of wine and let’s takeoff…
If you travel a lot like I do, you know the misery involved with the whole process. Trying to pack 25 pounds of clothes into a duffle bag to avoid the checked bag fees, arriving at the airport 3 hours early to stand in a 2 hour security line, being forced to throw out your toiletries because they could be used to hide bomb making materials, delays longer than the actual length of the flight, the wonderful selection of food items for sale on board, the list goes on and on. Ready to head out on your next vacation yet?
With the cutbacks at airlines and the obstacle course we are all forced to go through to get to our aircraft, it’s hard to find anything pleasant about an airline trip. However, if you look hard enough, and if you are in the right class of service, there are still some amenities left over from the bygone era of aviation.
In this months Wining and Dining at 30,000ft we are going to take a look at Continental Airlines. Continental is one of the few remaining domestic airlines that still offers free food in the main cabin.
While many airlines have switched to purchase on board offerings, Continental has managed to maintain this amenity at no cost to the economy passenger. However, beer, wine and other alcoholic drinks will cost you $5.00 in the economy cabin. In the main cabin Continental offers the following selections:
Ch Vieux Parc Corbieres 2004*
Jean-Louis Cuvee Blanc de Blancs Brut (sparkling wine)*
Louis Montillier Chardonnay 2005*
* On international flights, Continental may substitute regional specialties for the regular beverage selections.
Food pairing in the main cabin is fairly simple and is based upon the length of the flight. For flights less than one hour you will be provided with just a beverage option. If your flight lasts 1 hour to 1.5 hours, you can expect to pair any selection above with either a bag of nuts or pretzels. For flights lasting 2 to 3.5 hours you can expect to pair any selection above with a snack at non meal times and a sandwich hot/cold at lunch/dinner. For flights lasting over 3.5 hours there you can pair any above selection with a hot meal at lunch/dinner.
In the first class cabin, the selection of wines and meal choices is fairly extensive. Below you will find the current wine selections for Continentals BusinessFirst class:
Charles de Fère Jean-Louis Brut, Blanc de Blanc NV
Heidsieck Monopole Blue Top
J.P. Chenet Brut
A to Z Chardonnay 2007
Laetitia Pinot Blanc
St. Supery Sauvignon Blanc 2007
Bouchard Pere Et Fils St Veran
Domaine LaRoche Chablis
Schloss Reinhart Shaussen “Fountain Blue” Riesling 2007
Barberani Vallesanta 2007
Moletto Pinot Grigio
Cline Cellars Ancient Vines Zinfandel 2007
Rock Bare Shiraz 2006
Rodney Strong Pinot Noir 2005
Domain de Beaurengard Cotes Du Rhone 2006
Ogier Vacqueyras Rhone 2007
Château LaGrange Lussac 2006
Château D’Argadens 2005
Château Loudenne 2004
Château LaGrange Lussac 2006
Straccali Chianti 2003
Ferreira Grand Red Douro 2003
Telteca Anta Malbec
Miguel Torres Sangre de Toro 2003
Dow’s Fine White Port
Quinta do Noval
Again, meal selections are based upon the length of the flight. For first class flights under 1 hour, you will be provided with just a beverage option. If your flight lasts 1 hour to 1.5 hours, you can expect to pair any selection above with either a bag of nuts or pretzels. On flights lasting 1.5 hours and up, a full meal will be offered. As an example of what you may find, we will take a look at the menu for a September 2009 flight between Newark Liberty International, NJ and London Heathrow. This flight departs at 10pm and the dinner menu is as follows:
Warm roasted nuts with your preferred cocktail or beverage
HOT APPETIZER CART
A demitasse of seafood bisque with lump crabmeat
accompanied by mini beef Wellington
and a tandoori chicken skewer with ancho chili sauce
Salad and warm breads
Fresh seasonal greens and frisée with sliced tomato, red onion,
corn and a Kalamata olive
Your choice of Cabernet Sauvignon vinaigrette
or Parmesan peppercorn dressing
Freshly baked garlic bread and assorted rolls with butter
The Chef’s Selection
Grilled Sterling Silver™ New York sirloin steak with pepper rub
and herb glaze, sautéed spinach, roesti potatoes and a piquillo
pepper filled with stewed eggplant and fresh mozzarella cheese
Seared Breast of Chicken
Filled with fontina cheese and spinach, accompanied by Port
wine sauce, creamy polenta, broccolini and carrots
With extra virgin olive oil, parslied potatoes and braised fennel,
served over tomato and olive ragoût and fine green beans
Crescent-shaped pasta with truffle and potato filling, creamy
mushroom sauce, caramelized onion and truffle butter,
grilled fresh green asparagus, topped with roasted red tomato
and freshly grated Parmesan cheese
FRUIT AND CHEESE CART
Select American and imported cheeses, grapes, assorted
gourmet crackers and bread, served with Port wine
Edy’s Classic Grand vanilla ice cream with choice of toppings
or an assortment of petite pastries
Fresh Brew® gourmet roasted regular and decaffeinated coffee
made exclusively for Continental Airlines or tea with your
choice of milk or lemon
If you visit the Continental Airlines web site at www.continental.com and click on the Travel Information link it will take you to the BusinessFirst Dining page where you can look at Continental’s wine list and menus based on destinations. Airlines will often change menus with each season and may change on a monthly basis. If you travel a lot be sure to check their web sites often to insure you are up to date on the current wine and food offerings.
Well, our Wining and Dining experience at 30,000ft is nearing an end. I hope you have enjoyed the trip, please bring your tray table up, seat back forward and buckle your safety belt in preparation for landing. Until next month, salude!
The unofficial end of summer has arrived, as today is Labor Day. A holiday which originated in Canada, and was first started in the United States in 1882. The day celebrates labor organizations, workers and their families, with a day of rest and parades. For me it also signals the symbolic end of summer, the vacations, hot days, and rush of activity winds down. The kids go back to school, weather cools and the smells of fall are in the air and wine grape harvest begins. I love the summer and all that it brings though I am also very fond of the fall season.
Labor Day is a day for me to relax and reflect on events of my summer, and this year, with the exception of some extended bad weather it was an excellent one! The real start of the summer this year was our Napa Valley trip the first week of July. I spend most of my year looking forward to our annual Napa trip and having fun researching new wineries to try and places to visit. That was certainly a great starting point for summer. Arriving home from Napa always brings excitement and anticipation of the wine deliveries coming from our purchases in the valley. It is always fun to open the cases and reminisce as we load them into our cellar, and of course the rest of summer we are trying some of these wines and again reflecting back on our trip. There were so many picnics and parties, the pool, food, wine, another great summer in the history books with some lasting memories. I have never been a fan of winter or snow and hate being cooped up indoors, so fall for me is a time to keep the outdoor events going. I have worked hard to create an area to provide an extended outdoor season.
The area is complete with a wood burning fireplace, patio heaters, comfortable furniture including a couch, some ottomans and my wife has also dedicated some blankets for outdoor use to make it even cozier. Ah, what could be better? Well, I am working on one more improvement, my outdoor TV to maximize the patio time while not missing a bit of the NFL football season. I am already thinking of what special bottle of wine I will take out of the cellar for the inaugural game by the fire on the new TV. We have all been through some trying times lately and while it has been hard. I will not let it slow me down, life is good and I plan to keep it that way with some good wine and fun relaxing outdoor times.