Vegas Uncork’d

What is Vegas Uncork’d, you ask? I have been watching this event since it first began 12 years ago, just wishing, clicking my heels ferociously together in my mind and crossing my fingers. This food extravaganza is sponsored by Bon Appétit in partnership with Visit Las Vegas hosted by some well-known (also, some not as well known) chefs. The event did not disappoint last year when I finally got to attend. The offerings are varied so you could just attend the grand tasting, you could add a fun brunch, a fancy dinner or something with a little more theatrics. Traditionally May is just a difficult month for me to plan. It just seems that there is a lot of items that start dancing onto my calendar in advance, almost like the world is ready to push me into summer socializing early. This is also my favorite time outside of winter to travel, yet I had to block out May in advance just to ensure my dance card would be open.

The event appears to always be around Mother’s Day weekend (thank you Giada for the tip) so bring your mom, celebrate being a mother or tell your mom, “Sorry. I will make it up to you when I get back.” Each year there is a mix of varied lunches, brunches, dinners or occasionally after-hours excitement with beautifully plated food and spectacular libations. Vegas Uncork’d has a plethora of events to schedule from Thursday through Sunday so bring your appetite! The reason I first became interested in this event was because I do not get to travel much, I love to eat and drink my way through Las Vegas and I enjoy a great show. I saw great value in being able to dine at restaurants owned by world renowned chefs with locations in Las Vegas, Nevada. I got to mix this with the option to see great shows while I was on getaway and it seemed the perfect recipe for an over the top experience. I remember one year there was an option to have dinner with Wolf Gang Puck and be able to pick his brain in conversation. I was sad I was not able to schedule that year, but it wasn’t my time. I knew that when I finally attended, I would make the best of it and leave shy Brina at home. Call it, from bucket list to actualized bliss, if you will.

I will offer some pointers based on my first experience. Watch your timing! I chose to attend a brunch then a dinner in one day. I thought I would burst at the seams. I walked as much as humanly possible in between meals just to ensure I would have an appetite at all. I also was mindful to have picked a coursed dinner after a family style brunch to be aware of large portions at all meals. If you can handle anything or do not mind waste, go all out. Speaking of portion control, the grand tasting has probably a hundred or more vendors with some of the most beautiful, fun and enticing bites. Do not be afraid to take a bite, then sadly tossing the remainder. It’s not ideal, but no one wants to enjoy life to the fullest then feel miserable later…wait, it’s Vegas baby. Everything is to the max and past. I just err on the side of comfort, personally. I confess, most breakfast bites for my husband and I while on this vacation, were a bowl of fruit and a bottle of rose. One couple I spoke with had attended for 6 years, never missing an opportunity for a specific dinner and letting their friends know they would catch up to them later. So, if you go as a group, make sure it is enjoyable for everyone, dividing to fit your style is perfectly okay. This event is a blast! However you chose your schedule, I am sure you will enjoy yourself.

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Cameras OUT!
Saber Off success by Chef Masaharu Morimoto

I paid for this event in full and was not provided any extra sponsorship or privileges. Take a peek at this year’s event here: http://vegasuncorked.com/

Next: Vegas Uncork’d Day 1 – the Gordon Ramsay experience

I’m Back!

Apparently studying wine almost killed the blog…oops. A full-time job that was less than savory combined with a full time study routine taught me that sometimes I am not able to succeed in all the things at once. I hope to start writing more currently on this blog as well as my writing forums and other manuscripts during my current reinvention.

Cannot wait to share my food and wine adventures with you. Because, after all, I may have been quiet here but, I was fully living out loud in real life.

Christmas List 2017: Dear Santa

Oh, the joys of Christmas & last-minute shopping! Minds racing furiously for ideas while sending your blood pressure up & making you contemplate your next opportunity for fun in the sun. I have been busy this year with many projects & life hurdles, luckily for you, I stumbled upon some great ideas along the last few months that will make your wine loving person happy.

The first gadget, I might have blown off as just another stopper, but witnessing its use personally changed my mind. The Repour Wine Saver, conveniently available at https://www.repour.com/, is designed for a single bottle use. This wine stopper is designed to absorb the oxygen that likes to alter your wine in the space after you pour a glass & don’t want to commit to the rest of the bottle. So, imagine that amazing wine you put off because you feel like it should be opened on a special occasion, but you really just want a glass now, well every day is a special occasion so open it. Pour your glass, put on the repour & feel confident that you can preserve the wine in that bottle for your next sips.

The 4 – pack would be great for stocking stuffer for $8.99, but for those of us that know the year will hold many bottles in the future you can order a 72 pack for $71.99! There is no reason not to have this item in all your friend’s homes. Because it’s designed for one bottle use, that can be sealed multiple times, you should stock up…which reminds me I need more!

4-Pack of Repour Wine Savers

My second item, is a gorgeous coffee table book that will transport you to the area I’ve called home for around 20 years. The photographic eye of George Rose brings inspiration & depth to simple things that others may overlook. His most recent book, Vineyard Sonoma County has more than 188 pages of gorgeous color images that take my breath away. Considering the recent fires in the area, these images become even more precious to those that have been touched by the experience.

A portion of the proceeds from this book will be going to the Sonoma County Grape Growers Foundation for those workers who have been displaced due to the firestorms. Do a little good & give (or keep) this book available for $80.00 at  https://georgerose.com/

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My next wino must have, is another recent discovery that I was Wowed by, Wine Nots. This fantastic tablet of pixie dust takes away that red wine lover purple tongue & gets you good night kiss ready. A little effervescent lime hint of flavor that will have everyone wondering how you didn’t look like you spent a moment in your Malbec. These packets of 12 tablets are perfect for stocking stuffers for a convenient price of $12.99 & available at https://winenots.com/

I’d love to wax poetic, but this is something you may just have to try to believe!

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Lastly, but in no way least, is my favorite travel companion other than my husband, The Wine Check! In my travels this year I actually packed my clothes in this handy travel companion on my way to France & then filled it, lovingly with 12 precious gems to bring home. Ok, less the bottle of bubbly in the hotel the night before we left, but it could hold a full case. I love this product! A new gorgeous label design was born after the recent fires in Sonoma & Napa that truly steals my heart, which you can see on the website.

For the price of $70.00 & up you can bring back the bottles that brought great memories during your vacation so that you can share upon your return. This fabu piece of luggage is available on Amazon as well as https://thewinecheck.com/

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Happy shopping & get your orders in soon so that they come in time for your loved ones. All these item, with the exception of the book can also be found on Amazon.

Happy holidays & cheers to the best wine times ahead!

Wine Bloggers Conference – Take 1

I have had the desire to attend the Wine Bloggers Conference for years, and really wanted to go to Lodi last year. However, time was usually not the best for my schedule or other life reasons would impede me from going. This year, as they celebrate their 10th year, it is back where it began…in my back yard of Santa Rosa. I put it on my schedule early so that other things wouldn’t creep in to push it off until another year and I am excited as well as nervous to be attending!

Life within the last month has felt like it is moving at the speed of light, but pockets of joy in tragedy always shine a little sideways. Living with the different conversations after the firestorms of Sonoma and Napa counties has really reminded me why I love this community. Watching chefs, farmers, business owner, neighbors and wine makers come together to care for those in need has been heartwarming.

I feel honored to get to share my love of wine and food from our counties bounty with others as well as spend time with likeminded lovers of the vine! I’m looking forward to meeting some of you beautiful people from social to put in a little real face to face time. There are so many sessions I am looking forward to attending and it will be hard to narrow down on a few.

“Enrich Your Wine Vocabulary” should hopefully bring insight on how to stay true to my voice while delving into wine descriptors during wine reviews. How do you bring the common aromas and flavors that us wine educators share with just the right hint of your own spiced word choices? Hello, this session has the phenomenal Andrea Robinson! I have a little vine chat dream with that powerhouse!

I am looking forward to the Wine Discovery Session with Consorzio Tutela Lugana DOC. As a certified sommelier, there is nothing more exciting to me as wine discoveries. As someone knee deep in studies for my CSW, I can’t wait to bring the knowledge to the forefront and learn about this region. Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the region will be an honor to experience in the glass.

“Live Wine Blogging” sounds intimidating and exciting all at once. I love taking notes to share with others and I am curious to see how this will unfold for me, the lover of pen to paper. Will I take to the Twittersphere or do short posts during the brief interviews? I guess you’ll have to follow to see how this will shake down.

“Legal Issues Every Blogger Should Know” is something that I am very curious about as my day job revolves around compliance issues in finance. I am looking forward to learn how compliance relates to my blog. There are other items I hope are touched on like copy write issues with photos as well as some I may not even be thinking of right now. As odd as it may sound to some, I’m excited to learn what this power hour may unfold.

Bring on the education and camaraderie! You can follow me on twitter & Instagram @gotchabygrapes for my Wine Bloggers Conference shenanigans.

Favorite White Wine Finds of 2017

As most people in my resident Sonoma County are starting to think of rich fall foods and full-bodied wines, as always, I am doing my own thing. I am getting into the last of my favorite white wine finds of the year and mourning as they disappear from my shelves and fridges. I thought I would share my list so you can stash up on those that are still available, or begin planning amazing purchases for next year as these wines became my must have splash in a glass on sunny warm days.

I would like to say these wines are in no particular order, but I am not a good liar even in type. I love them all, but some I just can’t get enough of, some I wish I had more of and some I feel grateful I got to try them. All of them will be purchased again with the exception of the ones that will not be made anymore…insert crying emoji here!

2015 Via Giusti Sonoma County Vermentino is truly a gem of the county. The brilliant friendly aromas of young apricots and mandarin orange waft up from the glass to grab your attention. There is a refreshing apple note with youthful stone fruit flavors lingering on the palate just a little longer than anticipated. I love that this is a wine that can be enjoyed all year long! If you are looking for something out of the more traditional few varietals that can dominate a tasting menu this will deliver a unique perspective. You may begin to chase the varietal after this experience. This is a versatile wine that pairs well with many dishes from a vast option of cheeses, grilled zucchini, or garlic rosemary white fish or chicken. Order online at:  https://viagiusti.com/

 

2015 Kokomo Winery Timber Crest Vineyards Muscat Blanc is a beautiful blend of my household’s tastes. This bottle offers all the beautiful aromas you would crave of the varietal with the perfect dry character I enjoy in my white wines. The happy sunflower hues welcome you as you bury your nose into the lovely aromas of honeysuckle, pineapple and Meyer lemon blossoms. Flavors of young pineapple, white tea leaf and ripe stone fruit are wrapped up in this dry styled dream. I paired this wine with spicy kimchi and peanut Thai chicken salad. Stop in the tasting room or order online at: http://www.kokomowines.com/

2016 Reeve Wines Anderson Valley Riesling was one of my favorite new finds of the year. This year was laced with new discoveries and the old Kachina Vineyards location now is the breathtaking home for Reeve wines. I do tend to enjoy white wines of Mendocino county and this is no exception. Just a hint of petrol on the nose that announces the varietal is muted by citrus blossoms, preserved lemons and young white peach. Flavors of apple meet lively lemon and zings your palate on a hot summer day. I got my weekend leisure day on and paired this with citrus chicken tacos, because every day should be a taco day! Make an appointment to visit this beautiful location or order online: https://www.reevewines.com/

 

 

2016 Cartograph Wines Ferrington Vineyard Gewurztraminer has a light straw yellow that reminds me of summer sunshine in a glass. Aromas of lychee and honeysuckle pull you into the glass multiple times before the first sip. Preserved Meyer lemons and honey kissed apricots embrace the palate. I paired this wine with spicy Korean chicken Bao and green bean, green bell pepper and tomato salad. This was the most enjoyable symphony of flavors as spice meets floral while creamy sauce danced with the palate cleansing dry character of this wine. Visit the tasting room or order online:  http://www.cartographwines.com/

2016 Inizi Wines Tocai Friulano was a wine I rediscovered during a spring event and gladly visited the tasting room after to purchase a few bottles. Aromas of lemon, kefir lime and young honeydew melon spring out of the glass. Flavors of lime zest and Granny Smith apples are grateful thirst quenchers on a warm afternoon. Recently I actually paired this with a homemade chicken pot pie with sage drop biscuits. The crisp, clean acidity cut through the rich creamy sauce and dense biscuit while playing well with the celery, carrot and sage flavors of the healthier version of pot pie. Order wines from the road less traveled online at:  https://iniziwines.com/

 

2015 Mounts Family Winery Picpoul Blanc was a special surprise from the makers of my favorite local Cabernet Franc. This wine offers aromas of honeydew with a touch of lemon that follows through to the palate with a fuller mouth feel then the other wines. I have one more bottle stashed with no intention of sharing. As I write this post I notice my taste has become small vineyard, family focused support, where my dollar matters more. I paired this with a sunshine on the patio moment, but it would pair well with oysters or salted white fish. Visit some of the friendliest people in the Dry Creek valley by appointment or order some amazing wines online at:  http://www.mountswinery.com/

 

2015 Quivera Vineyards Fig Tree Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc may be my last wine pick, but by no means is it the least. This bottle was my Sauvignon Blanc pick of the year for the varietal.  I enjoy the crisp refreshing ability of this varietal, but prefer when it melds with tropical flavors and this wine never disappoints. Aromas of lemongrass, young pineapple and guava bring a vacation in a glass smile to my face. Flavors of wet stone, pineapple, papaya and guava brought memories of white beaches and warm Adriatic waters to my mind with a unique palate feel as it spends a few moments in Acacia barrels. I paired this wine with pan seared chicken, creamy fairytale eggplant with charred green beans and fried oregano. Visit the lovely gardens around the tasting room or order online:  https://quivirawine.com/

Whether you want to taste this line up, or make up a mix of your own I always find pleasure when enjoying the bounty of Sonoma and surrounding counties. Cheers to a delicious line up of spectacular adventures in white wines!