Category Archives: Wine

Vinebox Brings the Tasting Room to You

A novel way to try wines.

A novel way to try wines.


In much the same way that Birchbox sends subscribers samples of new beauty products monthly to try, Vinebox does the same with wine.

But of course, you do need to be 21 to take possession of this box when it’s delivered to your door. And not every state allows shipping of alcohol.

The curated box is pretty nifty, as I found out for myself when I was invited to try a sample. Inside, snuggled tightly inside foam cutouts for protection, are three glass containers of wine that look rather like oversized test tubes with screw-tops.

Each holds a glass of wine that’s been repackaged using a patented technology that presumably doesn’t impact the wine.

Read more

Good Things Come — In Boxes

A peek inside the "Silicon Valley'' Sojourn Box.

A peek inside the “Silicon Valley” Sojourn Box.


With graduation fetes, Father’s Day, and summer birthday celebrations to come, everyone’s got gift-giving on their minds. Recently, I had a chance to check out samples of three new artisan gift box deliveries. Here’s the lowdown:

Sojourn Box

The word, “sojourn,” refers to a “temporary stay.”

And Sojourn Box aims to do something similar — to transport you briefly to another place.

The Santa Cruz-based company packs curated artisan products in boxes, each of which has a different Northern California geographic theme, such as “Monterey,” “San Francisco,” and “Santa Cruz.”

The “Silicon Valley” one was sent to me, befittingly since I reside there. I received the “taste-size” box ($38). If you like the products, you can reorder and choose the “full-sized” box ($70) with — you guessed it — full-sized versions of each product.

With the hustle and bustle of Silicon Valley life, this box was definitely made for unplugging and getting away from it all. It’s also a box designed more for a woman than a man, what with its Lavender Herbal Bath Soak salts from Sylvie James, and Lemongrass Tangerine Soy Candle. Hey, just saying.

There’s also a tiny sea urchin shell holding the teeniest air plant; Smoked Sugar from Whiskey Oak Seasonings; a Cantaloupe Mint Green Tea bag from Thao Tea; and Coconut, Cacao + Raisin Granola Bites, which taste much more healthy and austere than most granolas on the market.

Granola bites to enjoy.

Granola bites to enjoy.

Each product is sourced locally. Each box also includes a little printed booklet containing fun facts about each region, including the “Top Five Places to Eat,” and “Top Five Places To Shop.” There’s also a card listing the “Top 10 Songs” in the area. Who knew that Dogcatcher’s “It’s You, It’s Me,” was tops in Silicon Valley.

Good For: A favorite female in your life whom you want to pamper.


For the chocoholics in your life, there is Chococurb.

This Seattle company delivers a box of chocolates monthly — or as a one-time gift. A full-sized box of five to seven chocolate products is $35. A mini box of three chocolate products is $20. Choose a three-month or six-month subscription and the price per box goes down.

It’s also a full e-commerce site, so if you or your recipient is enamored of a particular chocolate, he or she can re-order it easily.

Chococurb's full-sized box.

Chococurb’s full-sized box.

Of the offerings included in my sample full-sized box, I especially enjoyed the Cabruca walnut and fig bar, with its unusual undulating shape and its candied fig pieces decorating the top.

Read more

Pedro Jimenez Ice Cream with Orange Zest

A sherry-laced ice cream to fall head over heels for.

A sherry-laced ice cream to fall head over heels for.


Pedro Jimenez, so glad to finally make your acquaintance. Just where have you been all my life?

It was only recently that I got to know this fabled white Spanish grape that’s typically dried in the sun to make a dark, syrupy dessert sherry wine.

A friend had gifted me a bottle of Bodega Dios Baco Pedro Jimenez and I was waiting for just the right moment to open it. When I did, I was greeted with a heavy-bodied inky wine fragrant with the scent of raisins and dates. The taste was figgy, almost sticky toffee-like, with a bit of aged balsamico on the finish.

It would be great alongside cheese, salumi and almonds. Or used in a sauce to finish duck or quail.

But what caught my eye was a recipe for “Pedro Jimenez Ice Cream with Orange Zest” in the new “The Basque Cookbook: A Love Letter in Recipes From the Kitchen of Txikito” (Ten Speed Press) by Chefs Alexandra Raij and Eder Montero with food writer Rebecca Flint Marx of San Francisco Magazine.

Read more

Getting To Know Amarone

Dry-aged beef to go with a wine made with semi-dried grapes.

Dry-aged beef to go with a wine made with semi-dried grapes.


With a charred juicy steak, my drink of choice is usually Malbec or Cabernet Sauvignon.

So when the folks at Masi Agricola asked me to try a sample of one of their Amarones with a prime steak instead, I was game to see what that pairing would be like.

It’s an unusual type of wine in that it’s made from semi-dried grapes. An age-old tradition in Italy’s northeast Veneto region, it involves laying out the grapes on drying lofts for up to four months to concentrate their sugars before pressing.

Masi Agricola is the leading producer of Amarone. Its Masi Agricola Costasera Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOCG 2011 ($62.99) is a blend of Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara grapes. Of the three varietals, the Corvino is the only one to develop botrytis or noble rot, the prized fungus that causes the grapes to lose nearly all their water content, thus concentrating their flavors to the max.

Read more

Sent Sovi Transforms Into Relish Gastro Lounge

An adult root beer float at Relish Gastro Lounge.

An adult root beer float at Relish Gastro Lounge.


The hushed atmosphere and the white tablecloths have been jettisoned. And a whole new concept and personality have taken hold.

Sent Sovi in downtown Saratoga was Chef David Kinch’s stepping stone to even greater accolades as he went on to establish the Michelin three-starred Manresa in Los Gatos.

Chef Josiah Slone purchased the restaurant from Kinch, and for nearly 13 years kept the fine-dining ambiance, but with his own spin on it.

Now he and wife Khin Khin Slone have overturned that format, and launched a much more casual restaurant in its place.

Relish Gastro Lounge debuted in February with its reclaimed wood tables, color-changing lights, and soundtrack of rock and jazz. I had a chance to check it out a couple weeks ago when I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant.


The tap system.

The tap system.

The wine preservation system.

The wine preservation system.

You’ll find 20 wines by the glass (preserved with the same argon gas system Sent Sovi used), along with 24 beers on tap. The menu, headed up by Chef Timothy Uttaro, former Sent Sovi sous chef, is made for sharing.

Read more

« Older Entries Recent Entries »