Category Archives: wine tasting

Super Tuscan – Sette Ponti Crognolo

Sette Ponti Crognolo

In March our tasting group chose to match small plates to Italian Super Tuscan wines.  The Sette Ponti Crognolo 2009 was one of the more outstanding wines within the chosen price range of $30 -$35.

Super Tuscan wines are blended wines some with Cabernet others with Merlot.  This Sette Ponti Crognolo is 90% Sangiovese and 10% Merlot.   To read more


Tips for Wine Tasting

Of course, wine tasting is mostly about fun.  Whether driving to wineries on a week-end outing or enjoying some of the gifts of the grape with friends here are a few tips to keep you on track both in tasting and in form.

Limit your bottles or wineries 3 -6, too many and everything becomes a “fog” if not modulated bthumb-and-forefingery use of a spittoon – when provided.  Let’s start with how to hold the glass.  Grasp it by the stem, not the bowl.  Grasping the bowl causes smudgy fingerprints that detract from viewing the hue and clarity of the wine.  Hands also warm the glass ruining the optimum serving temperature.  additionally, holding Continue reading

Best Secret on the High Seas

Wine Pairing Dinner Table for 2
Vivi d Italia

Fine dining is one of the best kept secrets of the high seas!  Wonderful five-star restaurants can be found on most of the larger ocean liners.  Being partial to Royal Caribbean Cruise lines we always plan on making our dinner reservation early for sumptuous meals to be found in either Chops & Grill or in the Italian favorite Portofino’s on our favorite Radiance class ships .   Continue reading

Valentine’s Day is Coming…Start with a Card Table??

Have fun setting your Valentine Dinner table!
Have fun setting your Valentine Dinner table!

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner.  So, let’s have some fun!  Has it been awhile since you’ve had a “date night” or a fun evening out?  Over the next few weeks we will be providing ideas to spark up this fun holiday.  Perhaps going out is your favorite alternative… We will be posting menus and pricing for Valentine Day Dinner restaurant locations for the Greater Sacramento “local” area as well as the Napa Valley and Placer County Wine Country areas.  But, for now… let’s explore the fun and anticipation of preparing a romantic Valentine dinner for two at home.

Start with a card table or folding table:

  • Small table (what it looks like won’t matter it will be covered up!
  • Location is next… You will want it to be different from your normal dining area.  Move some furniture if necessary… Tucking the table in front of a fire place is my favorite… but lacking such a window or corner of your living room would work as well…
  • Plan on a small fire for the evening (not in the kitchen!) but in the fireplace or candles tall pillars on the floor ??
  • Take a drive to JoAnne’s fabric store.. or any fabric store and have fun selecting fabric in a valentine theme to delight your creative and romantic desires…  If you have sewing skills, great… if not.. just cut to size… it won’t ultimately matter.
  • Perhaps you’ll want to pick up some wide ribbon to be used as napkin rings…
  • World Markets or The Linnen Outlet both have lots of cloth napkin choices…  red works well at Christmas, too! – Why not get 4 or 6?
  • Find some red or gold chargers… I’ve seen them at the Dollar Tree to add a dimension of elegance.  Check around at craft stores for additional touches.

Click on here for photos of examples or ideas…   Click here for  a great menu and prep instructions

Benefits of Joining and Belonging to Wine Clubs

It is the beginning of the year and time to analyze which wine clubs to join and why…

There are several things to consider when evaluating wine club memberships.

  • Types of wines… Does the winery offer wines you enjoy?
  • Benefits of wine club membership

We like several of our friends participate in several wine clubs to build their wine cellars.  However, we also evaluate every year which clubs to stay with and which new ones to try out.  The first steps of course are to try the wines… Rather obvious!  The benefits that come with belonging to clubs will vary.

One of the wine clubs we belong to is Rombauer.  The reason is that we enjoy their wines, especially the Chardonnay the key benefit of belonging is simply to get the wine.  No discounts no events… But, the wine can be tricky to find. Since we like and enjoy this wine being in the club helps to keep our cellar stocked.  That is the key benefit.  You may also find some wines that you really like, but that can be tricky to find- Therefore the Club, if offered, would be the answer.

Other than just getting the wine… belonging to some wine clubs provides a small discount on the price of the selections sent to you.  Other clubs don’t provide discounted prices; however the wines sent are 1st choice wines that are not available to the general public.  Some clubs will also include the benefit of  tastings in the tasting room at no cost.  For example wine club members of Domain Carnerous in Napa (owned by Tattingers’ of France) are entitled to a complementary glass of bubbly upon their visits. Members also may taste in the private tasting building with a variety of appetizers or enjoy the sunshine on the terrace with those appetizers served.

Additional considerations are events.  Most of the larger wineries offer special events starting with New Year’s Eve.  The events are spread throughout the year some formal some in the form of dinners, dinner dances, paired tastings etc.  In most wineries these events are either limited to wine club members and their guests or wine club members first at a discounted price, and then open to nonmembers on a space available basis.

Some wineries like Castello di Amorosa have different levels of wine club memberships.

Over the next few weeks we will be highlighting Valentine Day Winery and Dinner Events.  So let’s begin with…

Castello di Amorosa  4045 North St Helena Hwy
Calistoga, CA 94515


Royal Hearts Valentine Gala

Feb 16, 2013

An evening of opulence, elegance and romance. Treat your sweetheart to a celebration of love, Castle style!

  • Sample sumptuous hors d’oeuvres at the VIP reception in our tasting room
  • Sit down to an elegant four course dinner,planned by guest chef Alejandra Schrader and paired impeccably with our wines in our Grand Barrel Room
  • Take delight in a night of romance and surprises
  • Let romantic live music sweep you away

VIP Reception at 6:45pm, Dinner Seating at 8:00pm

Tickets $195/Members $225/For Guests – Max 2 member tickets per membership. Reservations required  See video of the event

Rick’s Wine Picks for Thanksgiving

2009 Calera Central Coast Pinot Noir; Expect red fruit, spices and Mint.  92 pts Robert Parker $19.95

2009 La Crema; Sonoma Coast Chardonnay.  Rich and viscous, opulant flavors of pineapples, mandarin, orange and lime custard. $14.99

2009 Alta Maria Vinyards Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir.  Wonderful, wild berry, blue berry with a mineral laced finish.  92 pts. Tobert Parker. $23.99

Placer County Wine Trail -Season Heats Up

Tired of long lines
longer driving times?

Perhaps it is time to venture into the foothill wine region
of Placer County…

Visit the tasting rooms…
check out the B & B’s for a week end get away;
or make it a day trip enjoy the  parks for picnics

Come join us in Placer County…
for a relaxed time to taste and enjoy wine….  Don’t miss the Auburn Food & Wine Festival

Baumbach Wines

291 Auburn Folsom Road
Auburn, CA 95603
530 305-0048
Tastings Saturday & Sunday, 12:00 – 5:00

Casque Wines

4344 Cognac Court
Loomis, CA 95650
916 660-9671
No Tasting Room – Sales On-line

Ciotti Cellars

10555 Harris Road
Auburn, CA 95603
916 534-8780
Tastings Saturday & Sunday 12:00 – 6:00

Cristaldi Vineyards

4060 Ridge Drive
Loomis, CA 95650
916 759-1291
Tastings Saturday & Sunday 12:00 – 6:00

Dono Dal Cielo Vineyard & Winery

6100 Wise Road
Newcastle, CA 95602
530 888-0101
Tastings Friday – Sunday, 12:00 – 5:00

Fawnridge Winery

5560 Fawnridge Road
Auburn, CA 95602
530 887-9522
Tastings Friday – Sunday, 10:00 – 5:00

Fortezza Winery

10555 Harris Road
Auburn, CA 95603
530 889-2824
Tasting Saturday & Sunday 12:00 – 6:00

Fox Barrel Cidery

1213 South Auburn Street
Colfax, CA 95713
530 346-9699
Tastings 12:00 – 5:00

Green Family Winery

3420 Pine Ridge Lane
Auburn, Ca 95603
530 888-8866
Tastings Saturday & Sunday, 12:00 – 4:30

Lone Buffalo Vineyards

2682 Burgard Lane
Auburn, CA 95603
916 663-4486
Tastings Friday – Sunday, 12:00 – 5:00

Mt. Vernon Winery

10850 Mt. Vernon Road
Auburn, CA 95603
530 823-1111
Tastings Thursday – Sunday, 11:00 – 5 :00

Pescatore Vineyard & Winery

7055 Ridge Road
Newcastle, CA 95658
916 663-1422
Tastings Saturday & Sunday 12:00 – 5:00

Popie By Duarte Family Vineyards

10555 Harris Road
Auburn, CA 95603
916 768-7643
Tastings Saturday & Sunday 12:00 – 6:00

Rancho Roble Vineyards & Winery

340 Fleming Road
Lincoln, CA 95648
916 645-2075
Tastings Saturday, 12:00 – 4:00

Secret Ravine Vineyard & Winery

4390 Gold Trail Way
Loomis, CA 95650
530 652-6015
Tastings Saturday & Sunday 12:00 – 5:00

Vina Castellano Vineyard & Winery

4590 Bell Road
Auburn, CA 95603
530 889-2855
Tastings Thursday-Sunday, 12:00 – 5:00

Wise Villa Winery

916 752-6635
On-line sales, Tasting Room Coming Soon

Wine Bars

Basement Wines

27 South Main Street
Colfax, CA 95713
530 346-9550

Carpe Vino

Old Town Auburn
1568 Lincoln Way
Auburn, CA 95603
530 823-0320