Category Archives: Wine

What I’ve Been Drinking of Late, Part 7

A Brunello worth seeking out.
A Brunello worth seeking out.

Frescobaldi CastelGicondo Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2015

Transport yourself to Tuscany with a sip of Frescobaldi CastelGicondo Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2015, a big, bold, inky wine that lingers on the palate, giving you plenty of time to daydream any troubles away.

Made by a winery with more than 700 years in the business, this Italian beauty ($69) is made with Sangiovese grapes that have attained Italy’s highest classification.

With substantial tannins, this is a wine that will age gracefully. But if you’re like me, you’ll be impatient to uncork a bottle, as I admittedly was when I received a sample to try.

Blackberry, raspberry and evergreen are heady on the nose. On the palate, it’s rich with deep cherry, leather, earth, tobacco, and cinnamon.

Try it alongside roast leg of lamb, a steak smothered in fresh rosemary, bolognese pasta or beefy Italian meatballs.

Cheers: If you mindlessly reach for a Cabernet Sauvignon to pair typically with red meat, next time try Brunello instead. Find this wine at and Total Wine & More.


Whether it’s because we’re all sheltering at home now or maybe social-distance picnicking in parks, canned wine sure seems to be having a moment.

One of the newest is WineSociety, founded by Angela Allison, who fell in love with the Napa Valley as she and her husband split their time between his tech work in San Francisco and their home in Cincinnati.

A trio of WineSociety's canned wines, which even comes with a plastic cap in case you can't finish the entire can.
A trio of WineSociety’s canned wines, which even comes with a plastic cap in case you can’t finish the entire can.

Made with California grapes, the wines come in 500ml cans, the equivalent of 2/3 of a bottle, making for two generous-sized glasses for two people.

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Three Things To Enliven Shelter In Place, Part 1

“Food People Are The Best People”

There’s no denying that those in the food industry are struggling mightily during the pandemic. The new book, “Food People Are The Best People” (Acorn Press) spotlights how 129 renowned California food and beverage professionals are coping and what inspires them during this unprecedented time.

The book is by Oakland-based photographer and storyteller Kristen Loken, who also did the book, “This Is Oakland A Guide to the City’s Most Interesting Places” (Acorn), which published in 2014.

This new book features such local luminaries as Alice Waters of Chez Panisse, Charlie Palmer of the Charlie Palmer Collective, David Kinch of Manresa, Jen Biesty of Shakewell, Michelle Polzine of 20th Century Cafe, and Susan Feniger of Border Grill. Along with a beautiful portrait shot, there is a short Q&A with each of the featured professionals.

Purchase the book here: A regular copy is $35, a signed copy is $50, and a copy of the book along with a chance to get your own porch portrait taken by Loken is $295.

Fifteen percent of all profits will be donated to No Kid Hungry.

Season 2 of “Tanya’s Table”

Following the success of her debut podcast series, Oakland chef Tanya Holland launches season 2 of “Tanya’s Table” on Jan. 19.

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My Top 10 Eats of 2020

As someone who rarely used to order takeout, I never thought I’d be turning my annual Top 10 list of the year’s best dishes into one centered solely on food picked up at restaurants to enjoy in my own home.

But 2020 has been like no year we’ve ever experienced.

It was more difficult than usual to cull my favorite eats down to only 10 mentions, because every restaurant or bakery that I visited has something wonderful to offer in these most challenging time. What’s more, each place I visited this year deserves an enormous thanks and pat on the back for persevering in this extremely difficult situation.

With 2021 around the corner, and the beginnings of a very slow return to normalcy just inching forward, I hope you’ll join me in continuing to support your local restaurants by getting takeout. Do pick up the food yourself if you can, rather than relying on delivery apps that eat into the already slim margins that restaurants reap from your order.

Without further ado, in no particular order, here are my Top 10 takeout picks of 2020.

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What I’ve Been Drinking of Late, Part 6

A longed-for toast to the end of 2020 with an always reliable J Vineards Cuvee.
A longed-for toast to the end of 2020 with an always reliable J Vineyards Cuvee.

J Vineyards Cuvee 20

Healdsburg’s J Vineyards has long made one of my favorite go-to sparkling wines.

Its new J Vineyards Cuvee 20 Brut NV ($38), of which I received a sample, is a total pleaser with yeasty, apple, and spice notes. Medium-bodied, it has a slight creaminess yet plenty of crisp acidity.

It would make magic alongside a cold seafood platter, a goat cheese salad with bitter greens, or even an egg salad croissant sandwich.

Cheers: This bubbly will ring in the New Year in style. Given the year we’ve had, you deserve to uncork a special bottle to mark the end of a supremely challenging 2020, and to toast to a hopefully much brighter and lighter 2021.

Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc + Viognier 2019

You don’t often see a Chenin Blanc and Viognier blend on the market. In fact, Pine Ridge Vineyards founder Gary Andrus first created this as an experiment in the 1990s.

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What I’ve Been Drinking of Late, Part 4

Nothing spooky at all about this wonderful Seghesio Venom.
Nothing spooky at all about this wonderful Seghesio Venom.

Seghesio 2016 Venom

This wine makes me think of Tom Hardy. OK, so many things make me think of Tom Hardy.

Seghesio 2016 Venom Alexander Valley ($50) indeed carries the same name of the Marvel movie that got such pitiful reviews that even I haven’t deigned to watch it — Tom Hardy or no Tom Hardy.

I’d much rather take this Venom over that one. This inky wine, of which I received a sample, is made from 100 percent Sangiovese grapes. It gets its name from that fact that the grapes grow atop Rattlesnake Hill on the Seghesio ranch in the Alexander Valley.

Its an apt name for this steep slope of impenetrable volcanic shale. The vines have to fight their way through it, and in so doing, produce tiny yet intensely flavored grapes.

The wine is fragrant with of rose water and lavender. Dried cherries and vanilla meld with earthy, graphite notes for an exceptionally silky mouthfeel with a long finish.

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