Category Archives: Wine

What I’ve Been Drinking of Late, Part 13

A new way to enjoy single-serve wines.
A new way to enjoy single-serve wines.

Le Grand Verre

First came single-serve wine and Champagne bottles. Then, mini wine cans.

Now, get ready for tube wine.

Just launched in the United State, Le Grand Verre packages offerings from boutique French wineries in single-serve, screw-top, slender, plastic tube-like containers.

The shatter-proof, recyclable container, which holds 6.3 ounces, was designed by research funded by the state of Burgundy. It’s so compact that you could easily slip one into your pocket, too.

The company was founded by CEO Nicolas Deffrennes, who got the idea for it after joining Harvard University’s wine club; Regis Fanget, who has worked in advertising for French luxury goods; and Valerian Dejours, a computer science engineer.

The wines come in 4-packs, either featuring one wine or a variety, for $19.99 to $29.99. Most are also crafted by female winemakers or female-owned estates who adhere to organic or sustainable farming practices.

A cute and convenient 4-pack.
A cute and convenient 4-pack.

I had a chance to try a sampler pack with two different reds and two different rosés. Each tube holds one generous glass.

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Cheers with Chilled Smoked Salmon Spaghetti with Capers and Avocado

A smoked salmon-avocado pasta with a glass of bubbly -- the makings for one fabulous dinner.
A smoked salmon-avocado pasta with a glass of bubbly — the makings for one fabulous dinner.

Smoked salmon, capers, avocado, and a squeeze of lemon.

That’s the mouth-watering makings for my favorite bagel topping. That’s also what stars in this easy and terrific cold pasta dish.

“Chilled Smoked Salmon Spaghetti with Capers and Avocado” is from the new cookbook, “Wine Style: Discover the Wines You Will Love Through 50 Simple Recipes” (Ten Speed Press), of which I received a review copy, by San Francisco food writer Kate Leahy.

Leahy is the co-author of cookbooks by San Francisco restaurants, A16: Food + Wine,” “SPQR: Modern Italian Food and Wine,” and “Burma Superstar: Addictive Recipes from the Crossroads of Southeast Asia,” plus so many more. But surprisingly, this is her first cookbook that’s all her own.

Pairing food and wine can easily intimidate and befuddle. But Leahy makes it easily approachable. She doesn’t inundate with too much nitty-gritty that would make most casual wine drinkers’ heads spin. Instead, after a short primer on wine basics (textures and flavor categories), she dives into the heart of the book, which comprises nine categories of wine, along with specific recipes that marry well with each.

For instance, in the chapter on “Rich White Wines,” you’ll learn about Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Gewurtztraminer, Viognier, and a handful of Italian white wines, all of which are “rich enough to coat your mouth a bit, allowing them to complement creamy sauces and richer dishes in a balanced, even-handed way.” That is why “Oil-Packed Tuna with Potatoes, Olives, and Lemon” goes smashingly well with Albarino or Chardonnay.

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What I’ve Been Drinking of Late, Part 12

A California Zinfandel made for those backyard barbecues.
A California Zinfandel made for those backyard barbecues.

2018 Barra Zinfandel

Inky garnet hued, the 2018 Barra of Mendocino Zinfandel looks jewel-like in your glass.

And while it’s 14.5 percent alcohol by volume, it’s not an overly fruity, bombastically boozy Zinfandel that’s going to knock you out for the count after one glass. That makes it a welcome sip even in the throes of summer.

Pressed from estate-grown, organically farmed 100 percent Zinfandel, the wine, of which I received a sample, garnered an 89-point score by Wine Enthusiast. It’s full of blueberries on the nose, and dried cherries, dried plums, tobacco, tar, and a hint of smoke on the palate.

The late Charlie Barra planted his first vineyards in Mendocino in 1955. He is considered the godfather of Mendocino grape-growing for his leadership in pioneering more efficient and sustainable methods, and for promoting organic practices. The legacy of his 350-acre estate continues under the management of his widow Martha Barra.

The $24 wine is available at the winery.

Cheers: Enjoy this wine alongside pulled pork, grilled pork loin or ribs, especially if any kind of cherry or berry-laced barbecue sauce is involved.

2019 Siduri Chardonnay

Anyone who knows me well is aware that I have a soft spot for Willamette Valley Pinot Noirs. Now, one of my favorite Pinot producers has just released its first Chardonnay.

Siduri, critically acclaimed for its elegant, cool-climate, single-vineyard Pinots, has only crafted a handful of white wines in its 27-year history. As a result, there’s no doubt that its 2019 Willamette Valley Chardonnay will automatically pique interest far and wide.

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A Caviar Pop-Up, Dining Deals & More

A luxury pop-up -- Regiis Ova Caviar and Champagne Lounge. (Photo courtesy of Regiis Ova)
A luxury pop-up — Regiis Ova Caviar and Champagne Lounge. (Photo courtesy of Regiis Ova)

Thomas Keller’s Caviar and Champagne Pop-Up

Even if you can’t score a coveted table at The French Laundry, you can still enjoy some luxe tastes in Yountville from Thomas Keller.

The acclaimed chef joined with caviar expert Shaoching Bishop to start their own caviar brand, Regiis Ova (“royal egg” in Latin), in 2017. Now, the two have collaborated on the Regiis Ova Caviar & Champagne Lounge pop-up, 6480 Washington St. in Yountville. Open Thursday through Saturday, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m., and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., the pop-up is expected to continue at least through the fall.

Take a plush seat indoors or outdoors to enjoy a tasting of caviar, starting at $45 for 15 grams with classic garnishes, two deviled eggs topped with caviar for $35 or French onion dip topped with caviar and served with kettle fried potato chips ($65)

If that’s a little rich for your pocketbook, opt for smoked sturgeon rillettes with pickled garden vegetables ($20) or a whimsical Bouchon Bakery “Oh Oh” (a gourmet take on a Ho Ho) for $10.

Alongside, sip prestige French or California bubbly by the glass or bottle, or a variety of red, white and rose wines.

Whether for a sip and snack or a complete meal, kick back with the sounds from a jazz pianist or DJ.

Dine Downtown San Jose Restaurant Promotion Runs Through July 18

In a normal year, “Dine Downtown San Jose” would indeed last a week. But as we all know, this past year has been anything but conventional. As such, the annual promotion will run for 10 days this year, from now through July 18.

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What I’ve Been Drinking of Late, Part 11

A Japanese craft gin that celebrates the bounty of spring.
A Japanese craft gin that celebrates the bounty of spring.

Roku Gin

The lovely aroma of soft citrus, grassy leaves, and green tea wafts gently from a bottle of Suntory’s Roku Gin.

It’s no surprise that this Japanese gin, of which I received a sample, evokes the lightness and freshness of spring. After all, “roku” means “six” in Japanese, and this gin is crafted with six Japanese botanicals that were harvested at peak season in spring. They include: sakura (cherry blossom) flowers and leaves, Sencha tea, Gyokura tea, Sansho pepper, and yuzu peel.

The result is a smooth sip with juniper and coriander much more dialed down in favor of delicate yet complex floral and lemon-mandarin orange characteristics that give way at the very end to a subtle peppery pop.

Enjoy it in a G&T or muddled with strawberries or raspberries.

A 750ml bottle is $28.99 at Total Wine & More, $26.99 at BevMo! and $31.99 at Target.

Cheers: Roku Gin comes in a weighty glass bottle etched with cherry blossoms, making it perfect for gift-giving.

Yebiga Bela Rakija

If you’ve never had or heard of Rakija, you’re in good company.

My curiosity about this Balkan fruit brandy was piqued when I received a sample of Yebiga Bela Rakija recently. It’s importer, surprisingly enough, is Bill Gould, bassist for the San Francisco rock band, Faith No More.

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