Category: Wine & Spirits

Weekend of Wine In Napa

Napa Valley is the quintessential wine country vacation with good reason.  The concentration of quality wineries, bucolic landscapes and amazing hotels and restaurants make it an ideal getaway to relax and recharge. The charming town of Yountville is the epicenter of Napa.  Despite a population of just under 3,000 people, it boasts three Michelin star restaurants including the venerable French Laundry.  With nearly impossible to get reservations, Thomas Keller fans can still experience the chef’s magic at his other establishments in town including Ad hoc, Bouchon and Bouchon Bakery.  The bakery is a perfect breakfast stop, but expect lines...

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Indy’s Plat 99

 My experience with cocktail lounges is generally limited to when I travel and have the opportunity to check out well known, historic, or new establishments. Indianapolis was not different. Norm and I had just finished a gondola ride and were scheduled to have pre-dinner drinks at Plat 99 before dinner at Cerulean. We could have spent the entire night at Plat 99. Its design alone was breathtaking, with contemporary architecture and blown glass chandeliers welcoming you into a lively bar and lounge area with an outside patio. If desired, you could just eat at Plat 99. Its menu focuses...

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The Fashionable Martini

Is it the drink, the design of the glass, or a little of both? What doesn’t look good, served in a martini glass. Originally, Martinis were made with gin and vermouth and garnished with an olive or twist of lemon. Some substituted vodka. The origin is unclear but vermouth has been around 150 years. Even though quite strong, they have always been a beautiful and fashionable drink.   But for me it’s not the drink, it’s the glass. I’ve used the martini glass for years to serve shrimp cocktail and desserts. I’m not alone, as many restaurateurs have done...

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Naples Luxe Life

Impeccable service.  Attention to detail.  A sense of passion.  The heart and soul of any successful destination depends on this trifecta coming together, in just the right way, to create a certain synergy.  Mix the ingredients correctly and you’re bound to yield a legion of adoring fans willing to sing your praises to nearly everyone they know. Miss one step, and your fan base evaporates into the lonely night along with your reputation. This is the story about a city called Naples, in Southwest Florida. A story about a place that values visitors so much, that the people in...

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Burgundy Terroirs: Wines of Maison Louis Latour

One of the highlights of the recent Food Network South Beach Wine and Food Festival (SOBEWFF) was the wine seminars presented by Wine Spectator and hosted by Bruce Sanderson, the magazine’s Senior Editor. I attended three seminars during the festival, including one examining the Burgundy Terroirs and wines of Maison Louis Latour. Our gracious host was Louis-Fabrice Latour, general managing director of the winery and the eleventh generation to run the company. It was a magnificent tasting of six 2009 Louis Latour Pinot Noir offerings. About Domaine Louis Latour Domaine Louis Latour is one of the few wineries in Burgundy...

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Jackie Collins Gets Lucky with Wolfgang Puck

New York Times Bestselling author Jackie Collins is more than a sexy romance novelist, she’s also hot in the kitchen. Chef Wolfgang Puck has been seduced by her charm and inspired to create a personalized cocktail for the author simply titled, The Jackie Collins, (recipe below) and it is a highlight of her new collection of recipes. Stepping outside of her typical romance genre, her new book The Lucky Santangelo Cookbook is on bookstore shelves today and her faithful fans will not be disappointed. Inspired by her most popular character, Lucky Santangelo, the cookbook features Lucky’s favorite recipes and...

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St. Patty’s Day Cocktails from Ocean Vodka

With March being the month of shamrocks and St. Patty’s Day, it seem appropriate to feature some green drinks. Last May, I was first introduced to Ocean Vodka. Since they were kind enough to do some special cocktails for last month, who better to ask for March? Truthfully, I can enjoy a good mojito any time of year. Norm and I enjoyed the organic vodka and thoroughly found visiting the facility on Maui amazing. In addition to it being a family affair, three generations of the Smith family have grown up on Maui. The water used in the vodka...

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Low Country French Cuisine Along the Grand Strand

Not your typical down-home Southern cooking While Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, is a great destination for Calabash-style seafood and Southern comfort food, it is not usually known for its top-chef restaurants or its award-winning cuisine. But with rumors of an up-and-coming food and wine culture, I decided to check out two of the recently acclaimed restaurants along the Grand Strand (the designation for the 60-mile strip of beach towns north and south of Myrtle Beach proper).  What I discovered were two hidden gems that satisfy my criteria for some of the best upscale food in the South.  The Brentwood...

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Napa Valley’s Luxury Sip Trail

Sipping an ultra-premium glass of wine always evokes feelings of luxury.  No matter where you are or what varietal or blend you drink, indulging in a glass of wine has a way of making one feel nurtured and inspired.  After all, what could be more enjoyable than savoring a glass of perfectly crafted Cabernet with friends, sipping an exceptional Sauvignon Blanc while strolling leisurely through a vineyard, or conversing with a vintner or winemaker? Like most wine lovers I’ve done my time in tasting rooms located in Napa Valley. It’s an important place to explore as Napa is a...

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Georg Riedel and Angelo Gaja: An Interview with Visionaries

Every wine enthusiast is familiar with Riedel Glass and lovers of fine Italian wines know Gaja Winery. I recently attended a wine tasting hosted by these two industry greats and had an opportunity to sit down with the owners of both companies–Georg Riedel and Angelo Gaja. The once-in-a-lifetime experience was pure pleasure as I listened to the stories of these two visionaries. When I met the two men–the calm, mild-mannered Austrian Riedel and the energetic, ever-moving Italian Gaja–I immediately felt as if I was the center of their universe. The two had an easy banter back and forth that...

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John Sarich, Culinary Director at Chateau Ste Michelle

While visiting Chateau Ste Michelle, we were fortunate to have Culinary Director, John Sarich, lead a tour of the Chateau. After discovering all this wonderful winery has to offer, we enjoyed a wine pairing, prepared especially for our International Food Wine & Travel Writers Association group. John feels fortunate he has access to world-class wines and fresh foods and says, “Not only do we have an outstanding variety of ingredients from the land and sea, we also have exceptional wines from Washington’s Columbia Valley, where long summer days and crisp autumn nights produce ideal conditions for well balanced wines.”...

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Chocolais Chocolate Flavored Blended Fine Wine

During the past few years, I’ve had the opportunity to taste various chocolate flavored wines…and while I have always enjoyed the experience, I never felt it was extra special. With Chocolais, that has changed. On our 2011 International Food Wine & Travel Writers Association Conference at Sea on Holland America, our members were treated to Chocolais as part of a wine tasting event as well as a bottle in their stateroom to devour or take home an enjoy. After two exceptional tastings of Roche Winery & Vineyards Estate Chardonnay, we cleansed our palate with “Wine Tasting Cookies” to experience...

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