Christmas dinner at home……

Christmas was celebrated at home this year…………


with three exceptional wines!

The  2004 vintage Moet & Chandon Brut Rose champagne – Absolutely luscious!

Followed by Peter Seghesio’ s 2014 Journeyman Chardonay

and the  2014 Rock Garden Zinfandel also created by Peter Seghesio.

A memorable line up!







Wishing everyone a peaceful and joyous cruise into the new year!



Under $15 a bottle……….

Some friends have asked for recommendations for wine that would be easily available   from major liquor/wine stores around the country.  Not just good wines but good wines at under $15 a bottle.

Saturday John and I wandered through a Total Wine store in Sarasota and found some to recommend.  I’ve sent them on to our friends but I thought it would be interesting to post them here as well.

And yes, there is one bottle in the group, a Dry Creek Zinfandel that is $17 but it was worth including for those seeking an inexpensive zin.



Saturday Night Dinner…..

A dinner with good friends this past Saturday brought together some delicious wines.


Sea Smoke from Santa Barbara,  a Sonoma spectacular, Kistler and an especially fun, but seriously crafted Walla Walla Washington wine – Sleight of Hand.  They all paired well with the cheeses and the entree of Shrimp Étouffée.

Thank you to our hosts.   Great night!

Salud!  Debbe

Holidays brimming with wine……….

November in Florida is special.  The weather turns almost fall-like and it is finally cool enough across the country to safely ship wine to the gulf coast.  This year November was an early Christmas for us with the arrival not only of our regular orders but also of the wines we selected in August in Walla Walla, WA and from the Willamette Valley of Oregon.

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Arterberry Maresh  Willamette Valley, Or (photo- Arterberry Maresh website)

Sure, some of the wines from Willamette and Walla Walla you can purchase in the east but most from the small producer’s never see our coast.

Familiar wines….


and not so familiar wines………….


 Screen Shot 2014-12-17 at 11.57.48 AM(Photo credit – Longplay’s website)


This Christmas and New Year we have the pleasure of introducing some spectacular Oregon and Washington wines to friends and family thanks to many remarkable winemakers.  For us it will bring back some exceptional memories of the great people we met while tasting the wines firsthand. For friends and family we are hoping they find these wines as truly amazing as we have.


waxing Magnum bottles


Lori, at Sleight of Hand was one of those terrific individuals we had an opportunity to meet.  She poured for us, fed our interest with grape details, gave us the low down on the label artist and showed us the art of waxing a magnum with “high-tech” equipment all while listening to Pearl Jam on LP’s!


Sleight of Hand Tasting Room

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Now as we plunge into this special season of celebration and share these wines we’d like to extend a big thanks to the winemakers, growers, their families and staff who give their heart and soul to making magic and who so graciously share it with us!


Merry Christmas to…….

AmaviArchery Summit, Arterberry Maresh, Ayres Vineyard, Bella Vida, Bergstrom, Colene Clemens, Evening Land, Gramercy CellarsIsenhower Cellars, Lange, Le Cadeau, Longplay, Mark Ryan Winery, NorthstarPenner-Ash, Purple Hands, Rasa Vineyards, Revelry Vitners, Saviah CellarsSleight of Hand, Soter Vineyards, WillaKenzie Estate and Winderlea

Salud!  Debbe


A favorite Friday night dinner……….

One of our favorite relaxing dinners at home is fondue.  I admit to using a packaged (prepared) cheese fondue which I magically doctor with an addition of white wine and spices.  With a good, crusty baguette, an apple, pear and some smoked sausage, this is a heavenly simple dinner.


Ahhh……a good bottle of wine to accompany the meal is a must.  Friday night’s was Linne Calodo’s 2009 Booker Red (previously known as Screwball).  It’s a lovely blend of Syrah, Mouvèdre and Grenache and it turned out to be a terrific pairing to the meal.

Our ‘mid-century’ electric fondue pot is probably an antique but it is an amazing appliance.  Over the years, for the sake of appearances, we tried new fondue pots; both non-electric and electric.  Every one of them has failed to work as well and as efficiently as the old Presto.  P.S.- Every once in awhile the Presto fondue pots show up for sale on Ebay.

Enjoy a night of fondue!

Sauld!  Debbe


What the Big Box Store has……

A Total Wine store opened this weekend in Sarasota.  Curious to see just how many wines from the Willamette Valley region of Oregon and from Washington State’s Walla Walla wine region might be sold there, John and I went shopping.

I don’t ordinarily shop Total Wines.  For those who do not know me well, I am not a fan of big box stores or malls.  I don’t enjoy the overwhelming size and the “nowhere” destination of going to a building buried in a massive parking lot.

There were actually more wines than I expected to find from the two regions.  I only included the wines available from the wineries we visited this summer.  There were maybe three others offered from the Willamette region.   I did not find any other Walla Walla wines.

Whether its one of our terrific independent wine shops or a big box chain store, it really is wonderful to have these amazing reds becoming available in Florida.

Salud!   Debbe


Not too Cheesy: Cheese 101

Artisan Cheese Company in Sarasota offers a fun, very interesting, enjoyable cheese course: Cheese 101.  For Christmas our daughters gave us gift certificates for the course.  We finally made a point of signing up for a class before Christmas arrived again!


The course consisted of 10 cheeses, 3 wines and 13 pairings.  Louise Converse, owner of Artisan Cheese Company hosted the class with her talented cheesemongers.  They guided us through the evening beginning with a lesson in ‘how to’ smell and taste a cheese properly.  They gave us background on the individual cheeses, the cheese makers and their personal insights having met most every one of the artisan cheese magicians.  All of this went on while we sat back, examined, smelled and tasted some exceptional artisan products.

Louise, Natalie & Angela  (photos courtesy of Artisan Cheese Company)

The trick through the hour and a half is to retain at least some of the valuable information while enjoying the specilities before you.  You do get a printout of everything and a pen to jot notes but that requires that you do it!  I found it hard to do both.


Rather than tell you about each and every cheese and chance spoiling the fun you can have if you adventure in and try this class yourself, I will just say, you can create the most unexpected, delightful pairings of cheese and “sides” imaginable.  Many of the guests were raving about pairing one of the cheeses with pickles! I was surprised by my pairing with a fig and black tea concoction.


I left the class having a taste for a number cheeses that I’d never tried and they will definitely lure me back to Artisan’s.   I’ve been a customer of the shop, but I’ve been stuck in old habits of purchasing what I know and not good about experimenting.


Cheese 101 gives you insight into cheeses and unusual accompaniments you might not have thought to pair with a cheese.  I’m craving the Midnight Moon.  I think it makes for a heavenly breakfast cheese and Cabot’s Clothbound Cheddar was an amazing, difficult to get, special cheese. I heard almost everyone agree that the Challerhocker, Walter Rass cow cheese from Switzerland was their favorite.


(photo courtesy of Artisan Cheese Company)

And finally to the third pairing -the wines.  A 2013 Pinot Grigio Santa Magdalena, a 2012 Apaltagua Pinot Noir from Chile and a 2013 Hayes Valley Cabernet from the Central Coast of California were served.   Many guests mentioned they enjoyed the Cabernet the best of the three with the cheeses.  With so very many incredible wines available today,  the wine choices seemed weak served with such incredibly outstanding cheeses and accompaniments.


I highly recommend Cheese 101.  Gather your friends and make a party of it. We left the course with our friends and continued on at our home enjoying more food and wines well into the night.  Many, many thanks to Louise, Angela and Natalie who are extremely experienced in the art of cheese and wonderful speciality foods.  It was, for sure, a delightful time at Artisan Cheese Company!