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  Women and wine


As a general guideline, white wine with fish, red wine with meat provides a handle for wine-food pairings but you can reverse it to delicious results. Elements that make whites go well with many fish dishes – high acidity, lower alcohol, lighter body and low tannins – are also shared by some red wines that invite pairings with finned fish. Try French Burgundy or Oregon Pinot Noir with salmon, Cabernet Franc from the Loire with cooked tuna and traditional Italian-style Barbera with halibut or swordfish. Other reds worth a pop with fish are young, lightly-oaked Riojas (Rioja, Crianza), Gamay (Beaujolais), and lighter Merlots. Dolcetto and Grenache-based rosés make delicious partners for shellfish, milder fish and scallops. Red wine with meat gains traction from reds' higher-octane characteristics: big flavor, greater body, higher alcohol and tannins. Smoked and grilled preparations call out for toasty oak, too. For a change of pace, try a rich Roussanne or Viognier with holiday birds, Alsace or Oregon Pinot Gris with roasted pork or stir-fried chicken, Torrontés with Cornish game hen and Riesling with just about anything.

The next time you're faced with a brain-scrambling restaurant wine list or dizzying choices at your local wine shop, use this tip to help boost the odds of picking a winner. Seek out trustworthy wine importers with solid track records for choosing quality wines from reliable producers. For value on up to outstanding and rare bottlings in French wines, look for Kermit Lynch imports. Labels on wines imported by the Bay Area-based wine maverick say little beyond a quote from Thomas Jefferson but it's what's inside the bottle that will do the talking. Like Italian wine? Seek out the importing duo Neil and Maria Empson before you say cin, cin. If Spanish wines leave you stymied, find bottles that bear the name Jorge Ordoñez. Born to a family rooted in Málaga's fine food-and-wine business, Ordoñez has played a major role in spurring innovation and international awareness of Spanish wines.

If your taste in red wine veers towards Petite Sirah, big Cabs, Zinfandel and other powerhouses, your smile probably says purple teeth. Dental research has shown that our variable saliva proteins react with polyphenols naturally present in red wine, black tea and other dietary substances to cause tooth discoloration. Intense exposure to acids in wine can also lead to tooth erosion, which some researchers have identified as an occupational hazard of winemakers and professional wine tasters. Tell us it isn't so! Moreover, people who use tooth-whitening agents can be more prone to the wine tooth blues soon after bleaching treatments – and may wish to avoid exposing recently brightened teeth to intense red wines. On a good note, fluoride-based products may act as protectives to help stave off tooth surface loss. While research continues on this topic, some local wine devotees swear by Arm & Hammer Advance White toothpaste. Anecdotal reports by a local dental hygienist note that red wine stains once seen in clients completely disappear with regular use of the product. To quickly touch up your blue or purple teeth, keep a tin of Wine Wipes on hand. They promise to "wipe that wine off your smile!"

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Cool down in summer with wines that can take a chill. Pair warm weather cuisine and backyard entertaining with food-friendly bright and lively whites like Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Gewürztraminer. Go continental with whites such as crisp Spanish Albariño, floral Argentine Torrontés or refreshing Provençal rosé. Red wine lovers will enjoy summer fare with slightly chilled light-to-medium bodied French Côtes du Rhône wines, Spanish Garnacha and Northern Italian Merlot. Ask your local wine merchant to guide you with picks to fit your budget and palate.

Be good to yourself and your wine by serving it in stemware that will release its best flavors and aromas. Buy the best stemware you can afford or at least a couple of glasses for you and that special person. The type of wines you like to drink will determine which wine glass shapes to choose. Red wines generally taste and smell best in taller, large-bowl glasses while whites express their personalities in medium-sized glasses. Avoid rolled rim glasses which impede the flow of wine onto the tongue and splurge instead for cut edge glass. Brands to consider include Riedel and the less spendy Spiegelau. Both brands offer stemware series in different price ranges to suit your budget.

More is not usually better when it comes to filling your wine glass. Make it a habit to pour only a small amount of wine in your glass. Let restaurant servers know about your preference for less wine in the glass. With no more than three ounces of white wine or five ounces of red wine in your glass at a time, you'll find it easier to swirl and sniff your wine. Not only will you find greater wine enjoyment by not overfilling your glass, you might also extend your pleasure into a longer, more satisfying wine experience.

Supermarkets offer miles of wine aisles but chilled wine selections can be limited, especially if you prefer slightly cooled red wines. One valley supermarket has an in-store wine cooling setup that allows shoppers to chill their favorite off-the-shelf wines while they shop. La Quinta's Vons at the intersection of Washington Street and Highway 111 offers this service. Just choose an off-the-shelf wine, place it in the circulating cold water bath located in the wine section and go about your shopping. Pick up your wine after about ten to fifteen minutes and you're ready to check out with your just-in-time chilled wine.

The Web offers different (and less expensive) ways to learn about wine besides tastings, dining out and shopping. At, Master Sommelier Evan Goldstein teaches about wine and wine-food pairings through videos, blogs and articles. His Full Circle Wine School seminars and events interest corporate, professional and hospitality groups seeking deeper wine knowledge. We like his down-to-earth explainers, enthusiasm and articulate style. For those who prefer hard copy, his book Perfect Pairings (University of California Press, 2006) makes a great wine library addition. Cooks will be tempted by the book's recipes by Joyce Goldstein, Evan's chef mom and founder of San Francisco's legendary Square One restaurant. 

A wine's nose is its aroma, which can be as seductive as a fine perfume. Much of wine enjoyment derives from breathing in a wine's aromatics with every sip. The best way to release aroma is to give wine a gentle swirl by steadying the wine glass at its base and making small, smooth circles on a flat surface. Holding the glass by its stem, tip the glass towards you and put your nose full-on into the bowl of the glass. And ladies, please, none of that genteel passing of the glass under your nose. Indulge yourself on a big, deep inhale with your nose fully into the glass to take it all in. No matter your wine preference, you'll find that by appreciating a wine's nose you'll discover more about your palate and the distinctive characteristics of wines.

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To certain palates, the trend of making high alcohol wines can be a burner. Just a few years ago, Italian Amarone and California zinfandels were considered prototypical high alcohol wines with outlier alcohol content of 15% or more. White varietals registered near 12.5% alcohol while most red wines hovered around the 13 to 13.5% range. Not so any more. Many of today's wines are coming in at and above the old "zinfandel range" of 15-16%. New World winemakers are embracing the trend ahead of their Old World counterparts in traditional, European winegrowing regions. Fueling the fire are many Australian wineries and United States winemakers from Paso Robles, Santa Barbara regions and Washington State, among others. Consumers who enjoy bold, in-your-face wine (and food) flavors may find high alcohol wines to their liking. To other palates, however, high alcohol wines taste unbalanced and hot. Jazzed alcohol levels can diminish the wine enjoyment experience and lessen appreciation of nuanced foods served with heavy hitters. Oh, and did we mention they'll make you tipsier faster? Look for a wine's alcohol content on the label before you buy. Remember that delicate foods may be overpowered by high alcohol wines and that hot, heavily seasoned dishes will seem even hotter when paired with these blow-torches.

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We're glad to find more choices in half-bottles at local wines shops and grocers. Quality wines by the half-bottle aren't always easy to find so don't pass up the chance to snag a few the next time you encounter a decent selection. Halves are great to have on hand for nights when you only want a few sips or your food courses call for different wines. Plus, you can keep an empty 375-ml wine bottle on hand to store leftover wine from a full bottle. Next time you have half or less wine remaining from a full bottle, simply pour the unfinished wine into an empty half-bottle, cork it and store it in the refrigerator for another night. By transferring your undrunk wine to a smaller bottle, you'll have more wine and less air in the bottle to slow oxidation and help preserve the wine's freshness and life for another night.

Take a closer look at joining a wine club during these tight times. While that may not seem like a belt-tightening move, today's incredible bargains present opportunities to get your hands on wines that might have been out of range just a few months ago. Two clubs that specialize in hard-to-find wines from the Pacific Northwest are the Oregon Pinot Noir Club and Avalon Wine. Robert Wolfe heads the OPNC and writes their zippy newsletter. Avalon specializes in Oregon and Washington wines, both of which are stompin' good and getting better all the time. Also, check out special offers from wineries you've visited or those whose wines uncork happy memories. They won't ship until the heat passes, so if you're short on patience, head instead to your local wine merchant to grab your holiday or special-occasion bottles now while the going is good.

Looking for more tips? Visit our blog at or You'll find wine tips, happenings, food and wine events, travel tales, links, courses, health information and more. For those of you new to blogs, you'll find visiting our blog is just like visiting a Web site – sign-up is not necessary, although you can choose to become a Follower with no obligation to ever read another word (you'll want to, we promise). Poor misunderstood blogs! Some people are afraid to go onto a blog or mistakenly believe blogs unload newsletters, spam or other unwanted material into your inbox. Not happening – and certainly not at ours. Take a look at our blog and see what you're missing. Drop in anytime to scroll through events or postings you might have missed. Plus, you can leave comments or suggestions to let us know what's on your mind so we can serve you better.

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Revisit or shop for wines served at our events through the generosity of our host venues, wine merchants and wineries. Support our friends when planning your next occasion, event or indulgence.  

Dan's Wine  

Wine Tasting at Dan's Wine Shop

Where: Dan's Wine Shop, 7/7/10
Wines: Zenato Pinot Grigio, Ponzi Pinot Gris, Rustenberg Chardonnay, Deloach Pinot Noir, Marraso Malbec, Incognito Red Blend
Wow: Palm Desert wine merchant Dan Sullivan hosted two one-hour tastings of three white and three red wines for Winewomen and their friends. If that wasn't exciting enough, an earthquake rattled through the desert just as the first tasting was about to begin. Dan and wife Lisa's warm hospitality calmed everyone's jitters – or was it the delish wine Derek was pouring? The shaker prompted many to pick up souvenir bottles of Earthquake Petite Sirah, one of the evening's hottest-selling wines.

Oakridge Winery  

A Supper Club Evening with WinewomenPSP

Where: Vicky's of Santa Fe, 6/18/10
Wines: Oak Ridge Winery & Frank-Lin Distillers
Wow: Our awesome crowd turned Vicky's piano room into a supper club, with singer-songwriter Linda Peterson at the ivories. Phil Molnar and Paul introduced us to new tastes in Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Pinot Noir and two very different Zinfandels. A spontaneous giveaway gave all a chance to test their wine smarts to win bottles of wine – fun! Thank you, Peggy Bilous and Desert Cancer Foundation for the heartfelt work you do.

Rodney Strong  

Grooving at The Grove

Where: Miramonte Resort and Spa, 5/27/10
Wines: A Mano, Woodstock Ridge
Wow: Are we sure Chef Nyerick isn't Italian? To accompany A Mano's Pinot Grigio and Primitivo, Chef Robert turned out sumptuous salumi, platters of grilled spring vegetables with delicious cheeses and main course duet of chicken saltimbocca and sea bass piccata. Jeff Frank turned us on to his Woodstock Ridge Sangiovese for a Cal-Ital taste of the Tuscan grape. Multi-talented Rafael Soto's vocals and string instrumentals got us in the groove in support of our May charity, Incight.

Rodney Strong  

Strong Hearts with WinewomenPSP

Where: Bellatrix at The Classic Club, 4/30/10
Wines: Rodney Strong Winery
Wow: Here's a no-brainer: Chef Gregg Monette's awesome cuisine, perfectly paired wines by Rodney Strong (expertly introduced by RS Director of Wines, Stefen Soltysiak), an ebullient crowd, gorgeous desert weather, Greg Rubino's warm hospitality and a great cause – the American Heart Association's Go Red for Women campaign to raise awareness about heart disease in women. To make it even better, 13-year-old pianist Colt Bosson entertained us with an amazing repertoire of classics and old favorites. It was a classy evening all around, and a classic Winewomen event.

Coachella Wine Festival  

Coachella Wine Festival

Where: Miramonte Resort and Spa, 4/9-11/10
Wines: Fleming-Jenkins (wine dinner) and international producers
Wow: WinewomenPSP exhibited and supported the first Coachella Wine Festival, a three-day food-and-wine extravaganza that brought a host of boutique wine producers and culinary magic to Miramonte's Mediterranean grounds. Besides Chef Nyerick's spot-on dinner pairings with Fleming-Jenkins wines, the festival featured a dessert soirée, live music by Art of Sax and Johnny Meza's band, art, boutique shopping and a two-day grand tasting of wines and cuisine by the desert's rising stars. Habitat for Humanity of the Coachella Valley was the event's designated charity.


Pairing Wine with the Food Experts

Where: Wine of The Desert, 3/25/10
Wines: Southern Wine and Spirits
Wow: Wine of the Desert invited WinewomenPSP to this special tasting of Southern's amazing portfolio. New Leaf Catering set up an outdoor grilling station that gave our hosts plenty of wine-food pairing tips to share. We were all more than happy to put each tip to the test over pours from South America, Australia, Italy and beyond. Thank for this free-to-members event!

Cedar Brook  

WinewomenPSP Celebrates Old Hollywood

Where: Bing Crosby's 3/20/10
Wines: South African wines of Catherine White, Cape Classics (The Estates Group)
Wow: Dazzling pink reflections from glasses of Mulderbosch Rose of Cabernet Sauvignon greeted us as we streamed into Bing's banquet room as if to say, Hello, gorgeous! Bing's turned out a terrific meal to pump up our newfound pleasures of South African wines. The easy-drinking Indaba Chenin Blanc won over new fans to this variety. Thank you, Winewoman extraordinaire Lisa Wherry and to James Martinez for the good work you all do at Stroke Recovery Center.

Cedar Brook  

Monday Italiano

Where: Backstreet Bistro, 2/22/10
Wines: Cedar Brook Winery, Classic Wines of California
Wow: Nothing warmed us up better than a steamy bowl of traditional Italian stracciatella soup on Backstreet Bistro's outdoor patio. A great crowd came out in support of Gilda's Club to enjoy a terrific wine dinner with an Italian flair. Johnny Meza's smooth vocals and keyboard magic had us kicking off our heels to busta move under the stars. Is he a music machine or what? Thanks again to Johanne for the quartet of Cedar Brook wines.

Louise's Pantry  

Kick Off the New Year, 2010

Where: Louise's Pantry, 1/22/10
Wines: Laurel Cellars Wines, Rootstock Wine Company
Wow: Proprietors Chris and Diane Paolini did it again with a rousing kick-off dinner that featured a great teaser app of pulled-pork empanadas by Chef Jerry Wesson. Johanne Lefebvre hooked us up with Laurel Cellars selections while Al Robertson rocked us into the night with his bluesy sounds. Cheers to 2010 and a successful new year of fundraising efforts, starting with Benjamin Franklin Elementary School PTO! 

The Art Place  

Holiday Spirit at The Art Place

Where: The Art Place, Palm Desert 12/10/09
Wines: Courtesy Rootstock Wines
Wow: The Art Place hosts and hostesses provided a warm welcome this chilly winter night and invited us to tour and shop their lovely galleries. Russ Olden's staff and panini-master kept cold at bay with cups of piping hot roasted tomato soup, panini off the grill and a Maytag blue cheese fondue pot to make everyone a veggie eater, if only for one night. Wines included Serenity 2005 Pinot Grigio (Central Coast), Sevona Estate 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon (Paso Robles) and Laurel Cellars 2007 Old Vine Zinfandel (Lodi). Shopkeepers donated awesome opportunity prizes, all in support of Mourning Star Center.

La Quinta Resort and Club  

Winewomen Welcome Back Jimmy Schmidt's Culinary Team

Where: Morgans in the Desert at La Quinta Resort and Club, 11/20/09
Wines: Pommery Champagne, St. Supéry Sauvignon Blanc, La Crema Chardonnay and Pinot Noir
Wow: Winewomen were first to welcome back the culinary team led by Jimmy Schmidt with Brian Recor and sommelier Francois Cinq Mars. After cheeses, olives and a fig-watercress-Comté salad that made us weak in the knees came Chef's Maine sea scallops, duck breast with wild mushroom risotto and a dessert station no one could pass up. The boys are back in town – hooray! Thanks to Shelter From The Storm for a moving presentation and the staff at Morgans for an unforgettable event.


South African Wine Tasting Safari

Where: Miramonte Resort and Spa, 11/12/09
Wines: Courtesy 4WinesPlusMore
Wow: A quintet of South African wines paired to Chef Nyerick's tasty appetizers gave us reason to rejoice, jabula! 4WinesPlusMore's Jeremy Wilkinson helped us explore South Africa's wine lands with tastes of Cape Rock 2008 Sauvignon Blanc (Robertson), Herons Nest 2008 Chardonnay (Western Cape), Clos Malverne 2007 Pinotage Reserve (Stellenbosch), Wolverine Creek 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserver (Stellenbosch) and, with dessert sampler, the savory Cape Rock 2007 Gewürztraminer Special Late Harvest (Robertson).

Miramonte Resort and Spa  

Winewomen and Song

Where: Miramonte Resort and Spa, 10/23/09
Wines: Novas 2007 Chardonnay, Novas 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot
Wow: Soprano Angela Bunea and accompanist Gale Enger regaled us with magical music under the stars on a perfect fall evening. Chef Nyerick treated us to tapas towers and specialty dishes paired to wines by Novas. Made with organically grown grapes from Chile's Casablanca and Colchagua valleys, both selections showed why Andean winemaking stars are rising. Thank you for joining us in support of Well in the Desert.

Wine Vault  

Chill at The Wine

Where: Wine of the Desert, 10/2/09
Wines: Courtesy of Southern Wine & Spirits
Wow: No electricity? No problem, a back-up generator kept our event humming along for a special presentation of Wine, Women and Health: Medicine or Myth? Winewoman Matilde Parente, MD uncorked the history of the wine-health connection with updates from this year's International Wine and Heart Health Summit. Hosts underwrote the libations with appetizers from Sherman's Deli. Their generosity boosted our fundraising for Desert Cancer Foundation and all the good they do for those with medical needs.

Hat's off Luncheon  

Hat's Off Luncheon

Where: Fleming's Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar, 9/26/09
Wines: Forty-Six Diamonds Pouilly-Fuissé 2006, George DuBoeuf; Vasse Felix 2007 Chardonnay, Margaret River (Australia); Rust en Vrede Merlot 2007, Stellenbosch (South Africa).
Wow: Ladies and gents from Angel Light Academy turned out in full force with wide brims and wider grins. John Verhoef's well-trained Fleming's staff served luncheon specialties marked by culinary flair. Pat Milsop chose out-of-the-ordinary wine pairings that began with French Burgundy followed by an Aussie cool-climate Chardonnay and last, a South African Merlot by a winery chosen by Nelson Mandela for his Nobel Peace Prize recognition dinner. Angel Light Academy's kids sweetened the day with inspirational stories of hardships overcome by making positive choices and choosing to be leaders.  

B Cellsar  

Night at The River

Where: Piero's Acqua Pazza, 8/28/09
Wines: B Cellars 2007 Blend 23 (Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier); B Cellars 2005 Blend 24 (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sangiovese, Petite Sirah); B Cellars 2006 Beckstoffer's George III Cabernet Sauvignon; B Cellars 2006 Petite Sirah.
Wow: Piero's pulsed with energy as Winewomen filled the room. As the first course arrived, our senses were jolted by the seductive aromas of truffle oil and heady mushrooms. It was going to be a tasty, fun-filled night. Piero's dining options were tough but tablemates agreed on one thing regardless of what they chose: delish. Exotic blends courtesy of B Cellars provoked a range of wine opinions as the crowd took advantage of the Napa winery's generous discount offer. Wine and Jazz juiced an opportunity drawing with great prizes. Our sold-out event boosted the coffers of Soldiers' Organized Services to aid Twentynine Palms servicemen and women.


That's Amore

Where: Amoré Ristorante Italiano, 7/24/09
Wines: Sandholt 2006 Pinot Grigio (Central Coast), Godwin 2006 "Floral Clone" Herrick Vineyard Russian River Chardonnay (Sonoma), Mettler Family Vineyards 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon, (Lodi), Mendelson 2000 Muscat Canelli (Mendocino County), all courtesy Creative Wines International
Wow: Can you hear me now? Amoré cooked up an Italian storm, with crisped-to-perfection calamari, wilted spinach with meaty portabella mushrooms to savory rigatoni, chicken marsala and a dessert trio with house-made mini cannoli and espresso-laced tiramisù. Phil Molnar's quartet of wines by Creative Wines International were spot on with each course, sparking comments at every table about which they liked best – all, perhaps? Great raffle prizes included our new WinewomenPSP logo Respirer wine aerator. An operatic Happy Birthday to Margi by baritone Jerry Ring closed out a rousing evening.

A to Z  

Surf's Up
Where: CAVA Restaurant at Renaissance Esmeralda Resort and Spa, 6/26/09
Wines: 2008 A to Z Oregon Rosé; Montes Sauvignon Blanc, Leyda Vineyards (Chile); Bethel Heights Sauvignon Blanc; 2007 King's Ridge Pinot Noir
Wow: With surf videos Step into Liquid and Riding Giants playing on the flatscreen, we duck-dove into Executive Chef Greg Picard's savory seafood buffet that featured salmon Wellington, made-to-order risotto, sushi and California-fresh healthful sides. All four wines were seafood-friendly in very different ways, which touched off a wine buzz among the wine-savvy as well as tasters who sampled these winners for the first time. Spa Esmeralda provided body treats and prizes to entice us back to their oasis. 

Creative Wines  

Madrid Magic
Where: Grove Artisan Kitchen at Miramonte Resort and Spa, 5/21/09
Wines: Segura Viudas Aria Estate Brut; La Terre Chardonnay, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon; Grove house-made white and red sangria
Wow: Executive Chef Robert Nyerick and guitarist/string musician Rafael Soto spirited us off to Spain, at least for a night. Miramonte's crackerjack staff turned out an array of fresh tapas, empanadas, charcuteries and tasty salads before sweetening the evening with a decadent chocolate dipping station. Clients from Incight, our May charity, moved us with real-life stories about how the charity's programs encourage skill-building and perseverance to foster success.

Creative Wines  

Spring Fling
Where: Centre Court Restaurant at La Quinta Resort and Spa, 4/18/09
Wines: Pushback Sauvignon Blanc, Napa; Godwin Russian River Chardonnay; Mettler Epicenter Old Vines Zinfandel, Lodi; Château de Malle Sauternes, 1975.
Wow: The fun-loving ladies of Coachella Valley Alumnae Panhellenic joined us courtside for picture-perfect views of the mountains above and tennis court below. Phil Molnar of Creative Wine International was all smiles as he poured Godwin's food-friendly 2006 Chardonnay while we made sure not to miss any tasty appetizers that floated by. Dinner inside Centre Court Restaurant began with a 30-year-old Napa vintner's first release, a rich and complex Sauvignon Blanc that paired perfectly with white heirloom tomato consommé and cucumber relish. Grilled shrimp was followed by fork-tender braised short ribs served with 2006 Mettler Epicenter Zinfandel, an award-winner from Lodi with ripe berry and espresso flavors. Dessert was nearly overshadowed by the resort's special treat – a 1975 Château de Malles Sauternes. The grande dame of Bordeaux dessert wines still brought forth honeyed fruit aromas, mouth-filling flavors of apricot and spice and just the right amount of sweetness for tart tatin. By night's end, it seemed as though everyone in the room was weary from laughter and had made at least ten new friends. All that and raising scholarship money for our local high school girls – sweet.

Creative Wines  

Cool By the Pool
Where: Ace Hotel & Swim Club, 3/20/09
Wines: Foxglove Chardonnay, Masi Masianco Pinot Grigio, Shoofly Shiraz
Wow: Kitschy, retro, funky, offbeat – how else to describe the Ace? We lounged somewhere between the pool and The Blue Bus, tasting whatever came our way. Our friends at Desert Wines and Spirits in Palm Springs introduced us to Masi Masianco Pinot Grigio from Italy's Friuli-Venezia Giulia. Actually a Supervenetian blend, the wine's honey and apricot flavors come from Verduzzo, Friuli's native grape. They're picked slightly overripe and then dried on racks to concentrate fruit flavors in a winemaking process called appassimento. Red wine fans opted for southeastern Australia's 2007 Shoofly Shiraz with enough smoke, black fruit and tannins to have tamed a steak. We laid into the Ace's homemade hummus and passed appetizers while others toured the cool guest rooms and their roadhouse restaurant, Kings Highway & The Amigo Room.  We'll be back to down a few ricotta hotcakes or perhaps a chermoula-marinated tuna and pork porterhouse.

Creative Wines  

Wine, Dine and Dance the Evening Away
Where: Rattlesnake at the Classic Club, 2/25/09
Wines: Paul Chaneau Cava, 2007 Heron Chardonnay, 2005 Heron Sexto, Graham's Late Bottled Vintage Port
Wow: Chef Jimmy Schmidt threw us an after-Valentine's Day valentine with this special event benefiting the American Heart Association's Go Red For Women charity. Hearts started fluttering with appetizers and were sent racing by the salad course – not your ordinary salad but yes, salad! Female winemaker Laely Heron's smooth Chard was a great pairing that also worked with Chef's perfectly seared scallops atop lemon risotto. Few could resist snagging the spaghetti squash and short ribs with their wine foil: the sexy Sexto blend of six Spanish varietals. By dessert and Port, no words remained, just sighs and looks of total satisfaction. John Stanley King goosed us into getting our exercise on the dance floor and sent us home smiling.

Creative Wines  

Kick Off The New Year

Where: Louise's Pantry, 1/15/09
Wines: Californians FOUR Cabernet Sauvignon, Healdsburg (3 liters); Godwin Chardonnay, Floral Clone, Herrick Vineyard, Russian River Valley; Mendelson Pinot Noir, Sleepy Hollow Vineyard, Santa Lucia Highlands; Mendelson Muscat Canelli dessert wine, Mendocino.
Wow: Partner Christopher Paolini whipped a whole lotta love into this valley favorite's new comfort food menu while wife Diane's impassioned thanks for our donation to Benjamin Franklin Elementary School PTO showed why teachers are special people. Besides the three excellent selections above, Phil Molnar of Creative Wines International introduced us to FOUR, California's first premium wine in an eco-friendly tube and handsome, recyclable box container. A great deal for Winewomen available at Dan's Wine Shop. Thanks all for making it so much fun to think outside the box!

Round Hill  

Holiday Cheer with Winewomen psp

Where: Pacifica Seafood Restaurant, 12/10/08
Wines: Pacifica Private Label Merlot and Chardonnay by Round Hill
Wow: Gorgeous Winewomen filled the heated patio all tricked out in holiday finery. Chef Robert Lia kept the energy buzzing with excitement as he filled happy tummies with delicious crabcakes, ahi skewers and oh, those bites of date dessert heaven. Thank you to all new members who joined that night – your wine bottle necklace welcome gifts added high-beam sparkle to the event.


DUI – Prevention and Action Strategies

Where: The Retreat at Old Town, 11/20/08
Wines: Alas, none.
Wow: The local experienced criminal attorney wife-and-husband team of Emily and Dean Benjamini laid out the law for us at this free-to-members event. Their casual but sobering presentation on the consequences of driving under the influence highlighted what's involved in being charged with DUI and what we need to know about rights, options and prevention. If you missed it, read more at

Art of food and wine  

Art of Food & Wine

Where: JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort and Spa, 11/8-9/08
Wines: A staggering selection of wineries big and small, from cult cabs to megaproducers from around the world. We fell for premier Paso Robles Cal-Ital producers Martin & Weyrich whose winemaker Craig Reed is working miracoli with Nebbiolo, Sangiovese, Moscato and other Italian varietals. Pick up a bottle at Ralph's or Costco. Cruise the full lineup at  
Wow: While the country's top chefs turned out dishes to woo the foodie frenzy, our local chefs and caterers upped the wow factor. Standouts included Jennifer's Kitchen Moroccan-scented California lamb, sky-high goodness from Peaks Restaurant, Bruce Jacobs' savory creations for Bristol Farms, and Restaurante Guillermo's shrimp and stuffed peppers.


Crios at Ruth's Chris

Where: Ruth's Chris Steak House, 10/17/08
Winery: Susana Balbo's Crios, Argentina
Wines: Crios Torrontés, 2008; Malbec, 2006; Cabernet Sauvignon, 2006; Rosé of Malbec, 2007.
Wow: Ruth's Chris' Anita Owens-DeCuir brought Argentine dreams to life with a classy dining experience we won't soon forget. Executive Chef Hector Ramirez' menu and Mindy Hewitson's intriguing wine pairings made each delectable course an event – and an education – in itself. We started off with an aromatic white Torrontés that nearly had red wine devotees doing a tango and rounded out the evening with rosé of Malbec that took everyone by surprise.

Layer Cake  

Summer Send-Off

Where: Old Town Cellar, 9/20/08
Wines: Matua Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand; Taz Chardonnay, Santa Barbara; Laetitia Pinot Noir, Arroyo Grande Valley; Penfolds Koonunga Shiraz/Cabernet, Australia; Layer Cake Cabernet, Napa Valley; Cline Ancient Vine Zinfandel, California. 
Wow: Fortified by a septet of wines to taste, we toasted farewell to summer. Dustin surprised us with a bonus pour of the wine we liked best, served in elegant stemware. Old Town Cellar's comfy, cozy setting boosted camaraderie and got us in the mood for upcoming season. We'll be back for some of that flatbread too.


An Evening Around the World

Where: Bristol Café at Bristol Farms, 8/22/08
Wines: Aminea Greco Di Tufo (Campania, Italy); D'Arenberg 'The Hermit Crab,' Viognier-Marsanne (South Australia); Borja Borsao Garnacha-Tempranillo (Spain); Chateau Saint-Leon 'Emotion,' (France); Alder Ridge Cabernet (Columbia Valley, Washington); Dindarello Moscato (Veneto, Italy)
Wow: Bristol's Executive Chef Bruce Jacobs went all out with a white tablecloth restaurant-quality tasting menu at this gourmet food emporium. Chef and host David paired courses with Old and New World wines that had us abuzz in conversation. While some of us lingered over Italian Moscato, others headed to the store and its deli counters to shop for more culinary delights.

Kendall Jackson  

Dinner and a Movie Night

Where: Villa Portofino, 7/25/08
Winery: Kendall-Jackson
Wines: Pinot Noir and Chardonnay
Wow: Who knew so many Winewomen were still here, toughing out the dog days of summer! We chilled with two popular K-J wines and a tasty dinner before heading to the movie theatre for a special screening of Sideways. Rumor circulated that Paul Giamatti's Miles character triggered a few Pinot Noir converts from our group.

Curry Vinyards  

Calling All Cowgirls

Where: Tack Room Tavern, 6/7//08
Winery: Curry Vineyards, Robert Mondavi, Wente
Wines: 2006 Curry Vineyards Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Zinfandel; Solaire by Robert Mondavi Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon, Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay; Wente Louis Mel Sauvignon Blanc, 2005 Livermore Valley.
Wow: Yup, it was hot but BBQ, music and wine made for a rousing night, Western style. California vintners shone, from mega-producer Robert Mondavi's Solaire wines to the four red varietals from Charlie Curry's family-owned, small-production Temecula Valley winery. Cowgirls tasted a bit of wine history in Wente's Louis Mel Sauvignon Blanc, named for the man who, with Charles Wente, first planted the grape in California in 1858.



Spring into Summer Fashions

Where: Le Chateau on El Paseo, 5/21/08
Wines: Rosenblum
Wow: Wine, nibbles, after-hours boutique shopping and fashion, fashion, fashion – need we say more?

Christine Andrew  

Under the Tuscan Sun

Where: Miramonte Resort and Spa, 4/30/08
Winery: Christine Andrew
Wines: Viognier 2005, Chardonnay 2005, Malbec 2004, Petite Sirah 2004
Wow: These wines put Lodi, California on Winewomen's maps. As much as we loved the lychee-scented Viognier with Chef Nyerick's tasty antipasti, we saved room to swoon for the amazing chocolate fountain and spicy Petite Sirah.


Spa and Sauvignon Blanc

Where: The Medical and Skin Spa, Agua Serena at Hyatt Grand Champions Resort, Villas and Spa, 3/27/08
Winery: Benziger, Brancott, Chateau Carbonnieux    
Wines: Sauvignon Blanc (Benziger North Coast, 2006; Brancott reserve 2006, Chateau Carbonnieux, Pessac-Leognon 2002)
Wow: Wine wizard Steven Carl and Executive Chef Chris Mitchum took us around the world in Sauvignon Blanc, spicing up our journey with an Old World treat from France and savory spa cuisine that brought out the best in these food-friendly wines. After soothing our souls at their relaxing venue, Hyatt's two spas sent us off with goody bags – a perfect finale to a magical evening. 

Hess Collection  

Life is a Cabernet

Where: The Viceroy, Palm Springs, 2/21/08
Winery: Hess Collection
Wines: Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon
Wow: L.A.'s Upright Cabaret nearly blew the roof off our tent with their chops, humor and 'tude. It was an unforgettable evening under the stars with outstanding Hess wines perfectly paired to Executive Chef Josh Smith's rockin' dinner. More truffled mac and cheese, please.


Winewomenpsp Kickoff Event

Where: Renaissance Esmeralda Resort and Spa, 1/31/08
Winery: CADE, Graff, Woodward Graff, Marca Trevigniana
Wines: Sauvignon Blanc (CADE, 2006); Viognier (Graff Family Vineyards, Chalone, Monterey, 2005): Cabernet Sauvignon (Woodward Graff, Chalone "A-Frame Vineyard," Monterey, 2003); Il Prosecco (Marca Trevigniana, Veneto)
Wow: Ryan Duffy and Esmeralda pumped up our 2008 kickoff event with a quartet of fab wines that included a special sparkling Prosecco treat. Plumpjack-produced CADE's sauv blanc was blended with 6% Semillon that gave the wine a hint of figs and a soft, round, almost sweet finish. We loved it. 



Discover wines worth a swirl around town, at special events and destinations.
Caveat emptor: Wine inventory, vintages and prices will vary. Consult your wine merchant for other wines in these styles if the ones listed are not available.

Wine Women Logo  

Looking for more wine tips? Our WinewomenPSP blog and Facebook page are updated more than once weekly. Both are loaded with information about wines worth a try you can find around town, the Southland and around the country. Check out our posts for tips about dining out, travel, great reads and pix of people and places we like. You'll find budget-friendly choices with a high quality-to-price ratio as well as splurge buys for special occasions. Follow our blog or subscribe to its RSS feed to find the latest post and tips delivered to your inbox. You can also send up wine questions to our Facebook wall for just-in-time suggestions or entertaining 411. Let your friends know about what we do for charities around the valley, drop a comment about how our event fun – and give us the thumbs-up!  [8/10]


One of the most memorable wines of the year came from sun-scorched Jumilla in southeastern Spain. In stark contrast to the region's ho-hum bulk wine production is the standout 2007 Clio by Bodegas El Nido. This muscular monster of a wine is made from 30% Cabernet Sauvignon and 70% Monastrell. A grape variety native to Spain, Monastrell goes by Mourvèdre in southern France and Mataro stateside. The Clio pours inky dark reddish purple with smoky aromas that threaten to tether your nose to the bowl of your wineglass. To taste what many red wines want to be when they grow up, dive in for palate-coating complexity layered by dark berry fruit, pomegranate, exotic spice and licorice against a backdrop of bright minerality. If you like big reds, we dare you not to love this wine. Watch Gary V go nuts over it on You Tube. Live the lush life and give other Monastrell blends from this up-and-coming wine region a try – and be sure to stash all the Clio you can afford. [8/10]  

Otis Kenyon  

Even though Merlot took its knocks in the 2004 movie Sideways, it's still the second best-selling red wine in the United States and the third most popular overall. To savor the kind of goodness this grape can deliver, look north to Washington State where Otis Kenyon makes a mouth-filling, silky Merlot with black cherry flavors and hints of clove, tobacco and a kiss of mocha on the finish. If you can't make it to Walla Walla, visit Otis Kenyon's new tasting room in Woodinville, the wine wonder town just outside of Seattle. [8/10]


Edna Valley winery tangent focuses on alternative white wines. Burgundy-born winemaker Christian Roguenant takes full advantage of the Central Coast microclimate's long growing season to craft tangent's aromatic and concentrated Viognier. Fragrant with orange blossom and honeysuckle, this unoaked version delivers tropical fruits, apricot and white peach flavors. Sip it alone or play off its implied sweetness with crab cakes, pulled pork or pumpkin risotto. We're betting the tangent Albariño and Pinot Gris spotted at local wine shops are worth a swirl as well. [8/10]

Chilean Sauvignon Blanc  

Chile isn't the first place that comes to mind when you think of Sauvignon Blanc – but it should be, as proven by this lively and crisp winner from Viña Montes. Built on classic sauv blanc aromas and grassy flavors, the Montes bottling from cool-climate Leyda Valley offers unoaked complexity with notes of guava and lime, a lengthy finish and a streak of minerality to boost its refreshment factor. Get to know Chilean Sauvignon Blanc, for value as well as downright solid winemaking true to varietal character. [8/10]


Fragrant and floral Viognier is a sensual treat. Besides pure varietal wines, we're also excited about Viognier blends that deliver crisp acidity and racy fruit with whiffs of Viognier's scented seduction. These white wines tend to be lighter-bodied than 100% Viognier and more versatile with foods, especially richer holiday meals or foods with complex textures and exotic spices. Two value-priced winners are Australia's d'Arenberg 2008 Viognier-Rousanne, a Rhône-style blend and Napa's Pine Ridge 2008 blend of Chenin Blanc with 19% Viognier. We spotted the d'Arenberg at Bristol Farms and Dan's Wine Shop and found Pine Ridge at Los Angeles Wine Company in the $10-15 range. Sip alone or serve with your next feast for something out of the ordinary and totally delicious. [12/09]

Samantha Starr  

Rombauer Chardonnay (2006, Carneros) is one of the most popular whites on restaurant wine lists around the country and a Coachella Valley best seller. Big and rich, its peach, pear and apple fruit ride in on a supple body to a long, smooth finish with plenty of oak along the way. At upwards of $30 a bottle, it might not be your everyday wine so we found two other wines in this style. The value-priced and medium-bodied Samantha Starr Chardonnay (2006, Monterey County) features tropical fruit flavors and toasty oak yet is food-friendly. For a bargain price in this style, try Napa Landing Chardonnay (2005, Napa Valley). We've found some or all of these wines at LA Wine Company and Dan's Wine Shop in Palm Desert. [9/08]


If oaked or vanilla-scented white wines are not your style, try the Zolo Torrontés (2006, Mendoza). Made from 100% Torrontés, Argentina's native grape, this value-priced white will win you over with its perfumed white peach and tropical flower aromas. While light in body and color, it is no lightweight in flavor. Delicate fruit and acidity make this wine a favorite to sip by itself or pair with first courses and salads. End notes of palate-cleansing lime provide a racy, satisfying finish to this exotic beauty. First discovered at an Argentine wine tasting at Cooking with Class, we found it recently at Jennifer's Kitchen in Rancho Mirage for about $13. [9/08]


California's central coast region is producing some great juice. Even the Oregon wine fans among us gave double thumbs up to the Byron Pinot Noir (2006, Santa Maria Valley). Pretty in the glass and on the nose, this smooth-drinking wine's dark cherry flavors carry through to a softly oaked finish with a hint of spice and smoke. Try this balanced, medium-bodied wine with grilled salmon, bacon-scented pasta dishes or pork. White wine fans will want to seek out their silky Chardonnay. Find Byron wines at local wine shops, The Cellar on El Paseo, Pavilions in Rancho Mirage and other area supermarkets. [9/08]


It's always fun to navigate the wine list at a favorite dining spot, Zin American Bistro in Palm Springs. Chef Nicolas Klontz and sommelier Mindy ferret out exotic sleepers and hard-to-find wines that pair well with their European-inspired bistro cuisine. During the 2009 Palm Springs Film Festival, we were lucky to land a table for six and luckier still to enjoy the 2005 Semler Syrah from Malibu. The wine delivers a mouthful of silky and smoky dark fruit, fig with the peppery notes that make Syrah such a great match for bistro food. According to Malibu Family Wines, their Syrah is the first Rhone varietal planted in the high-altitude, rocky soils of the Santa Monica Mountains – who knew? It paired beautifully with Chef's not-to-be-missed quail, rabbit, lamb, venison, steak tartare and Zinburger. We found it for about $24 at Ralphs in Indian Wells alongside a slightly pricier 2002 Semler Malibu Estates Syrah we'll snag next time. [1/09]


The holidays are prime time for busting out special-occasion bottles you've been saving. This season, we rekindled our love for TIKAL Patriota (2006, Mendoza), a blend of Argentine flagship grapes Bonarda and Malbec. This deep purple, berry-loaded bruiser delivers layers of smooth and complex dark fruit flavors laced with mocha and spice. Mouth-filling with a lengthy finish. We found it in the moderate price range at Bristol Farms and LA Wine Company.


If rich and juicy reds suit your style, you might also enjoy Altocedro Malbec (2006, La Consulta Reserva). It nailed the #66 spot on Wine Spectator's Top 100 Wines of 2008 with its violet-scented nose, rich cola/cocoa flavors and chewy texture. Uncork this fleshy Argentine with grilled steak for a hedonistic delight.   


Thank heavens for friends with great wine cellars – and generous spirits. We honored their Kosta Browne Pinot Noir (2005, Russian River Valley) with seared scallops and morel sauce. This limited-production, medium-bodied Pinot is liquid velvet on the tongue with tamed tannins, a hint of smoke and soft cherry vanilla flavors that sail on through a long finish. Find it if you can, and be good to your friends. [1/09]

Delia Viader  

Winemaker Delia Viader's first-growth Viader wines are off-the-hook. She brings that same Viader quality to her DARE portfolio of wines, which feature lesser-known varietals such as Tempranillo and Cabernet Franc. Our half-bottle of DARE 2005 Tempranillo carried a bouquet of dusky violets, lavender and smoke. Its full-bodied black cherry and boysenberry flavors hinted of leather and cigar-box with a solid, pleasing grip on the finish. This Napa beauty is made from a clone of Tempranillo native to Spain's Ribera del Duero. Find Delia's wines in restaurants, at the winery and online. We took advantage of a recent special on half-bottles to indulge in her elegant offerings without breaking the bank. [4/09]



Spring and summer rosés have us singing like songbirds about these refreshing and tasty wines. We intend to keep chirping about rosés through the cooler months and holidays. You won't find many wines that are better matches for your Thanksgiving bird or that bring instant cheer to holiday and other special celebrations. What got the pink party started was our first sip of Crios de Susana Balbo's rosé of Malbec at our October 2008 event at Ruth's Chris. Since then, we've made the rounds with rosés of Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir and other grapes, as well as Provençal rosés made from Grenache, with or without Cinsault and other regional varieties. Two rosés worth seeking out are Oregon rosé of Sangiovese by A to Z and Napa's La Grenouille Rouganté Pink by Frog's Leap.  The A to Z is so strawberry-fresh, tasty and versatile, you might want to stock it as your everyday or house wine. With only 11.9% alcohol, La Grenouille Rouganté Pink is a balanced, watermelon-scented and very dry rosé that's terrific with appetizers or salads yet interesting enough for simply prepared chicken or fish dishes. Pink is almost entirely Valdiguie, the historic French grape known stateside as Napa Gamay with a touch of Petite Sirah and Riesling. Find these and other crisp, lively rosés at our local wine merchants and grocers.  [8/09]

Robert Hall Winery  

We can't say enough about Syrah. Cool-climate Syrahs perk up the palate with mineral-tinged and earthy flavors framed by spice while warmer-climate Syrahs tickle tastebuds with layers of rich, berry fruit with a kick of pepper. We love 'em all, especially when a good one is in stock at our local Albertsons grocer. Pick up Robert Hall 2006 Paso Robles Syrah for a liquid version of berry and spice pie. Or, do what we do and search behind the front rows for any bottles from the 2005 vintage. You'll be rewarded with smooth tannins, lots of flavor and a mouth-watering finish. [9/09]

Andre Andrieux  

As a perfect hostess gift, you can't go wrong with a half bottle of French sunshine –André Andrieux 2007 Muscat de Beaumes de Venise. The Rhône Valley dessert wine made from Muscat grapes has aromas of honey and pear with apricot flavors and a hint of spice. Even if you don't think you like sweet wines, we dare you to give this just one sip. Stock up when you find it to nail your spot on the party circuit with your hostess-pleasing treat in tow, provided you don't drink it all yourself. We found this one at Dan's Wine Shop in Palm Desert. [9/09]

Andre Andrieux  

Once the heat of summer finally broke, we were ready to uncork Robert Mondavi Winery's 2005 Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon. The terroir-scented Cab by the legendary producer tastes of cassis and blackberry with a hint of mocha and tobacco on the finish. Tannins still had plenty of grip for grilled tri-tip while juicy acidity made this wine food-friendly for other dishes, too. Oakville Cabernets are off-the-charts in finesse and complexity, which makes these Napa beauties special-treat wines, especially when you find them for half the winery's price at Los Angeles Wine Company. [10/09]



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