Thursday, October 1, 2015

Restaurant Wine Service Do's and Don'ts

I need to get this off my chest.  It's been bothering me for a while and I think there needs to be some discussion about it.  Restaurant wine service.  That's a pretty broad subject but I'd like to talk about three points:
  1. Temperature of the wine
  2. Whom to taste the wine and serve first and beyond
  3. How to pour
More than once within the past year I have been served white wine that wasn't cold, I ordered the wine and they poured it for my husband and the best was when the server shook the bottle to get the drop off into the glass before going onto the next person.  I would say what it reminded me of, but it's not appropriate for this blog, use your imagination.

Let's begin with the temperature of the wine.  For a white wine, I'm not looking for ice cold where the flavors and aromas are hidden until the wine warms up.  I've heard many excuses as to why the wine isn't cold.  The server last week told me that is why she brought an ice bucket, to get the wine chilled at the table.    

The suggested serving temperatures are as follows
  • Sparkling, off dry and sweet wines - between 45 - 50 degrees ˚F
  • Dry white and rosé wines - between 50-60 degrees ˚F
  • Light bodied red wines - between 55 - 62 degrees ˚F
  • Full bodied red wines - between 62 - 68 degrees ˚F
The chilling is not suppose to happen at the table. It should be maintained at the table.

There is nothing that irritates me more than when I order the bottle of wine at dinner and the server comes over and pours it in Paul's glass and then he hands it to me or shows Paul the bottle at which point he says "you need to show her." 

The server needs to serve the bottle to the person who ordered it regardless of their sex.  This has actually happened to me twice in the same restaurant.  The person making the wine selection for the table is the one who shall be served the bottle, the cork and the first taste.  Once he or she has approved the wine, the wine should be served by moving clockwise around the table serving the female guests first then the men and finishing with the person who ordered the wine.

Now to pouring the wine.  Never shake the top of the bottle over the glass to get the drip off.  No, No, No.  The server should give the bottle a slight twist when lifting it from the glass and wipe the rim of the bottle with a cloth napkin.

When the server is done pouring the bottle should be placed to the right of the person who ordered it on the table or in the ice bucket. 

There is a lot more in depth that I can go into, but we'll save that for another time.  

When served wine in a restaurant, make sure you server follows these guidelines.  

Thank you for listening to my rant.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Wine Word Wednesday: Aeration

Monday, September 28, 2015

Happy Birthday with Cherryblock

My birthday was last week and to celebrate we dug into our cellar and opened a 1999 Sebastiani Cherryblock.  We actually purchased this bottle at the winery when we were out there for a visit in 2002.  I am surprised it's survived this long in our cellar without being uncorked.

Sebastiani is located in Sonoma not to far from the main part of town. If you are out visiting that region, a stop here is a must.

The vineyard where the grapes for this wine are grown use to be a cherry orchard, so hence the name Cherryblock.  The nine acres of Cabernet Sauvignon were planted in 1961, so they are some serious old vines.

The wine had a beautiful dark red garnet color with a little hues of brick.  The aromas coming from the glass were juicy plum with herbal tea notes and some anise. The palate was filled with plum, leather and it finished with a soft black pepper note.

Unfortunately I didn't pair this with anything as we were pre-gaming before we went out to dinner.  I will say it was the highlight wine of the evening.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Sharing Memories with Mazzoni

My college roommate visited me this summer from Florida with her kids.  Normally we would sit and chat and the kids would play quietly.  Yes, that was the case the last time I saw her some 10 years ago.  However, this year three of the kids were 21+ and they wanted to share in the wine.

What better wine to share Mazzoni Pinot Grigio (SRP $19) and Vermentino Chardonnay (SRP $19) blend with them and introduce them to something new. After all, behind Mazzoni wines are two of the world's greatest winemaking families.  The Francheschi family from Tuscany and the Terlato family from Napa.  It's blending Italy's old world approach to innovative winemaking from California's Napa Valley.  Why not bond two families together, old college roommates with their young offspring.

We started off the visit with the the 2014 Pinot Grigio which the kids really enjoyed (and so did we).  Aromas of peach and floral notes filled the glass. Once on your palate it was just what a hot August day needed.  Fresh, smooth and nice acidity with some mineral notes and citrus zest.  When the wine finished off, it left you with notes of lime on your palate.

When I went in to get a second glass of wine, I saw they had finished the Pinot Grigio and we were onto the 2014 Vermentino Chardonnay blend.  This blend was a 75%/25% and you could really taste the flavors of the Vermentino and the Chardonnay softened the minerality and added balance to the mix.  There was nice notes of pear and apples and it finished with a hint of sharp spice.

I paired this with State Fair Spiedies.  It's a recipe from the New York State Fair that made Spiedies pretty famous in New York.  Maureen is from Saratoga, me from Poughkeepsie and we met in Buffalo, so we about have the state covered.

The winning wine for the evening...well it was pretty split.  Half liked the Pinot Grigio the other the Vermentino/Chardonnay blend.  A great evening with great friends and great wine!

**Disclaimer: wines were sent to me as a media sample

Monday, September 21, 2015

Blogging to X

Last month I attended the Wine Bloggers Conference in the Finger Lakes.  You must all think what a life. There is more to wine tasting at the conference.  There are portions of it that are business minded.

I had the honor to present during the conference at the seminar Blogging to X.  X being how to monetize your blog. I sat on a panel with three other blogger who I've know for quite a while . I spoke about blogging to social media consultant.  Diane Letulle  spoke about blogging to wine teach, Amy Gross spoke about blogging to magazine columnist and Terry Sullivan spoke about blogging to book author.

There is some fantastic information in this video.  I do apologize however, my tablet timed out after a half an hour and cut off part of Diane's presentation and didn't cover Terry's.  However I thought the information presented in Diane's short time was worth not being edited out.  I am sorry Terry that you weren't captured.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Inside the Hudson Valley Wine Competition

If you are a regular reader or follow me on Facebook or Twitter you know that I run the Hudson Valley Wine Competition.

This is a wine competition that is open to all Hudson Valley wineries to enter their wines made from New York fruit.  This year we had a record number of wines, ciders and spirits entered.  124 in total.

Preparing for this wine competition is no easy task.  I begin the beginning of August when I check on the entries to make sure the paperwork matches what is in the case.  Sometimes it doesn't, sometimes there are cases with no paperwork.

Then comes the task of organizing everything.  All entries get put into a spreadsheet that is grouped according to the type of wine entered. Next step is breaking the judges into panels.  For this competition we have 5 panels with three judges per panel.  

Now the hard part is breaking up the wine into flights.  Usually it's per varietal. Sometimes there are a few stragglers or you have to combine some wines to make a flight.  But in any event, the judges know the kind of grape, cider or spirit they are judging.

Once all the flights are decided it's my busy busy work time.  Labels have to be made and put on tuits.  Tuits are paper things that go around the bottom of the wine glass.  During the competition the tuit number must match the number on the wine bottle.  Out on the floor, the tuit number must match the with the corresponding number on the judges sheet.

Then about three days before the competition I spend about 5 hours locked in the store room at Whitecliff Vineyards & Winery all by myself to label the wine and to put the wine in cases by flight and panel. 

After bending and lifting all afternoon, I treated myself the next day to a pedicure so I could sit in the massage chair for an hour and let it work on my aching back!

The day before the competition I unload all the cases and arrange them according to panel in our back room.  Put the wines that need to be chilled in the fridge and set up the first two flights of glasses.

My wonderful back room staff pours the flights and delivers them to the judges, clears the table and brings out the next flight.

What do I do during the competition? Tabulate, tabulate, tabulate!

Hudson Valley News Network did a great piece on the wine festival that included my Hudson Valley Wine Competition.  Here is the clip of the wine competition piece.  If you want to watch all 34 minutes click the link above.

When it's over all the we have a winery of the year, best in show wine, best Hudson Valley Wine made with Hudson Valley fruit, best white, red, rose, sparkling, fruit and dessert wine, cider, spirit.
Awards that were handed out (and listed below according to winery) were 32 Bronze Medals, 33 Silver Medals, 20 Gold Medals and 13 Double Gold Medals.