Rosé All Day With Our MUST HAVE ROSÉS of 2019


Before we share our list of must have rosés for this Rosé Season I think we must quickly go through the basics. To quickly get the answer to the questions everyone quietly thinks to themselves we looked to our friends at WINE FOLLY. They have two great articles by James Beard award winning author and wine Communicator of the year, Madeline Puckette.

Unlikely Origins: Bordeaux
The development of Rosé wine perhaps started with the popularity of Claret (“klar- ETT”)–a common style of red Bordeaux during the 1800’s. Back then, the Brits fawned over pale wines made with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Nowadays, Bordeaux wines have become bolder and darker to fit today’s red wine flavor profile. Rosé has earned a category of its own.

What is Rosé Wine?

Rosé wine is serious business –Seriously pink–

When a wine isn’t quite red, it’s rosé. Technically speaking, this pinkish beverage is produced differently than red wine but with the same grapes. A good example is White Zinfandel. Because of its reputation though people over 55 will gawk at the mention of rosé. Anyway, White Zinfandel is produced with the same grapes as Red Zinfandel but the two wines are stunningly different.  


How are rosé wines made?

Maceration Method

The maceration method is most commonly used for commercial Rosé. Maceration is when the grapes are pressed and sit in their skins. In red wine making, maceration usually lasts throughout the fermentation. For Rosé, the juice is separated from the skins before it gets too dark. For lighter varieties, like Grenache, it can take 24 hours. For darker red-wine varieties, like Mourvedre, the process sometimes only lasts a few hours.

Vin Gris Method

Vin Gris, translates to “Gray Wine” and is when red grapes are used to make a nearly-white wine. Vin Gris uses an extremely short maceration time. This style of Rosé winemaking is popular for the lighter red wine varieties such as Pinot Noir in the United States and Gamay or Cinsault in France.

The Saignée Method

The Saignée method is capable of producing some of the longest lasting Rosé wines. It is actually a by-product of red winemaking. During the fermentation of red wine about 10% of the juice is bled off. This process leaves a higher ratio of skin contact on the remaining juice, making the resulting red wine richer and bolder. The leftover bled wine or “Saignée” is then fermented into Rosé. Wines made from the Saignée method are typically much darker than Maceration Method wines and also much more savory.


What Varietales Are Used to Make Rosé Wine?

Grenache, Cinsault, Tempranillo, Pinot Noir… nearly every wine grape has been used to make Rosé wine. Since the category has grown in popularity, there are more options than ever to choose from. So where do you begin and what styles are the most popular? Traditional? The best?

Dry Rosé Wine

(aka “Not Sweet”) This style of Rosé wine is the most common style produced today around the world. France and Spain lead the way in Rosé wine production and it’s typical to see a blend of 2-3 different grape varieties. Here are the most common dry Rosé wine varieties used either alone or in a blend:

Traditionally Dry Rosé Wines

Sweet Rosé Wine

Any Rosé wine can be produced in a sweet style by simply not fermenting all the sugar into alcohol. However, it is not as common and mostly reserved for bulk wine production. If you are on the search for a sweet rosé wine, the following wines will fit the bill:

Traditionally Sweet Rosé Wines


Common Rosé Wine Descriptions

from Light to Dark

  • Mint

  • Grapefruit*

  • Strawberry*

  • Tart Cherry

  • Red Currant

  • Sweet Cherry

  • Strawberry Sauce

  • Raspberry*

  • Wild Strawberry*

  • Blood Orange

  • Raspberry Sauce

  • Tomato

  • Red Bell Pepper

  • Black Currant

  • Blackberry*

  • Berry Jam

Grenache Rosé

Style: Fruity

Tasting Notes Usually a brilliant ruby red hue with notes of ripe strawberry, orange, hibiscus and sometimes with a hint of allspice. You’ll find wines of Grenache to have moderately high acidity, but since most have quite a bit of color and body, typically you’ll want to serve them cold to keep them zesty. Perfect pairing with this wine would be a summer evening and takeout Greek Gyros with dill tzatziki.

Sangiovese Rosé

Style: Fruity

Tasting Notes A bright copper red color that sparkles in the light, Sangiovese seems like it was made to be a rosé wine. Notes of fresh strawberries, green melon, roses and yellow peach are complimented with mouth quenching acidity. A few Sangiovese rosés have a faint bitter note on the finish, which makes this fruity wine taste pleasantly dry. Definitely serve cold in a white wine glass, perhaps with a bowl of Moroccan couscous and chicken.

Tempranillo Rosé

Style: Savory

Tasting Notes Tempranillo Rosé is growing in popularity from the Rioja region and other parts of Spain. With this style of rosé you can expect a pale pink hue and herbaceous notes of green peppercorns, watermelon, strawberry and meaty notes reminiscent of fried chicken. Many Tempranillo rosé from this area also blend a bit of Graciano and Grenache to add floral notes to the flavor. A glass of Rioja rosé will class up any taco truck experience.

Syrah Rosé

Style: Savory

Tasting Notes American Syrah rosé is typically made in the ‘Saignée Method’ which usually means it will have deeper colors of ruby and notes of white pepper, green olive, strawberry, cherry and peach skin —definitely on the funky side. Rosé of Syrah tend to be more on the bolder end of the spectrum and are best served slightly warmer than fridge temperatures in a regular red wine glass. This is a surprisingly good wine with pepperoni pizza or a bowl of chili.

Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé

Style: Savory

Tasting Notes This type of rosé wine is nearly exclusively made in the ‘Saignée Method’. Cabernet rosé are a deep ruby red color with red wine-like flavors of green bell pepper, cherry sauce, black currant and pepper spice. The only big difference is that Cabernet rosé wines usually have heightened acidity because they aren’t typically aged in oak.

Zinfandel Rosé (a.k.a. White Zinfandel)

Style: Sweet

Tasting Notes Possibly the most popular rosé (in terms of volume but not necessarily for quality) sold in the United States and also 85% of Zinfandel production! Most ‘white’ Zinfandel is made deliberately to an ‘off-dry’ style with about 3-5 grams of residual sugar making it moderately sweet. It offers flavors of strawberry, cotton candy, lemon and green melon with moderately high acidity. You’ll want to serve it ice cold perhaps with Thai food.

Tavel Rosé (from the Côtes du Rhône)

Style: Savory and Rich

Tasting Notes Said to be a favorite of writer and man’s man, Ernest Hemingway, Travel is an unusually dry Rosé. It has more body and structure than most pink wines and is considered to have all the character of a good red wine, just less color. It is made primarily with Grenache and Cinsault, but nine varieties are allowed in the blend. Usually high in alcohol and low in acid, this salmon-pink wine ages well and its nose of summer fruits can turn to rich, nutty notes over time. Throw some brisket on the barbecue, grab your dog-eared copy of “The Old Man and The Sea”, and sit back and enjoy a glass of this earthy treat.

Provence Rosé

Style: Fruity and Lean

Tasting Notes Rosé from Provence, is the little black dress of pink wines. This wine is just as at home on the patio as it is in the dining room, Its fresh, crisp, dry style is a masterful match for almost any dish; even a juicy burger makes a perfect partner. Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah and Mourvèdre are all used to create this pale, pink rosé and to give it aromas of strawberry, fresh-cut watermelon, and rose petal, finishing with a distinctive, salty minerality on the palate.

Mourvèdre Rosé

Style: Fruity and Floral

Tasting Notes Rosé made from Mourvèdre brings to mind thoughts of Southern France and the beautiful wines of Bandol. These wines, often a pale coral hue, are rounder and fuller-bodied than many other Rosés. Mourvèdre is floral on the nose with notes of violets and rose petals. On the palate, this grape can be full of red plums, cherries, dried herbs, smoke and even meat. Mourvèdre makes an excellent pairing at a Mediterranean dinner party, hovering with friends for hours over a meal of grilled lamb and fresh pita with black olive tapenade.

Pinot Noir Rosé

Style: Delicately Fruity

Tasting Notes Pinot Noir is a diva on the grape runway. The fruit is intolerant of any type of extreme weather and is considered sensitive and temperamental, but when it’s on and at its best, can make for a very sexy glass of wine. In rosé, Pinot Noir delivers bright acidity and soft, subtle aromas of crabapple, watermelon, raspberries, strawberries, and wet stone. The grape can produce earthy-but-elegant wines that are cool, crisp, and dry, and would be delighted with a fresh goat cheese salad or a festive crab feed on the beach.


How long can you age Rosé wine?

We have asked many winemakers and fellow wine enthusiast. Typically you want to drink your rosé when it's at its peak of freshness. But we have seen rosés from three to five year back. So if you have bottles of rosés from 2014 it is time to pop that cork and drink up!

Our List of Must Have Rosés

This year our list of rosés consist of from wines from our favorite wineries that produce rosés that suit our palates. We like our rosés to be fruit-forward, well balanced acidity with bright citrus notes, that are good to drink on its own or to be paired back to anything at an all American summer barbecue. Don’t get us wrong we love to drink rosés all year round but we all know the good ones are usually released around Mother’s Day and are sold out even before summer settles into full gear.

Belden Barns

Vintage: 2018

Varietal: Pinot Noir

Appellation: Sonoma Mountain

Alcohol %: 13.5

Buttonwood Winery & Vineyard

Vintage: 2018

Varietal: Syrah

Appellation: Santa Ynez Valley

Alcohol %: 12


Vintage: 2017

Varietal: 50% Grenache, 41% Syrah, 9% Mourvédre


Alcohol %: 13.7

d’Art Wines

Vintage: 2018

Varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon

Appellation:  Lodi

Alcohol %: 14


Vintage: 2018

Varietal: 95% Barbera, 5% Grenache

Appellation:  Clarksburg

Alcohol %: 13.8


Vintage: 2017

Varietal: 45% Malbec, 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Sauvignon Blanc, 5% Pinot Gris.

Appellation:  Tupungato, Alto Gualtallary

Alcohol %: 13.8

Domaine Carneros

Vintage: 2015

Varietal: 58% Pinot Noir, 42% Chardonnay

Appellation:  Napa

Alcohol %: 12

Eleven Eleven Wines

Vintage: 2018

Varietal: Rosé of Syrah

Appellation:  Oak Knoll

Alcohol %: 13.3

Four Lanterns Vineyard & Winery

Vintage: 2016

Varietal: 85% Syrah, 15% Viognier

Appellation:  Willow Creek

Alcohol %: 13.1

Harney Lane Winery

Vintage: 2018

Varietal: Blend

Appellation:  Lodi

Alcohol %: 13.5


Vintage: 2018

Varietal: Pinot Noir

Appellation:  Sonoma Coast

Alcohol %: 14.1

Mountain Tides

Vintage: 2018

Varietal: Petite Sirah

Appellation:  Clements Hills

Alcohol %: 12

Mountain Tides

Vintage: 2018

Varietal: Petite Sirah

Appellation: Contra Costa County

Alcohol %: 12.9

Malene Wines

Vintage: 2018

Varietal: Grenache, Cinsault

Appellation:  Central Coast

Alcohol %: 12.9


Vintage: 2018

Varietal: Petite Sirah

Appellation:  Redwood Valley

Alcohol %: 13.5

Presqu'ile Vineyard

Vintage: 2018

Varietal: Pinot Noir, Syrah

Appellation:  Santa Maria Valley

Alcohol %: 12.5

Robert Sinskey Vineyard

Vintage: 2018

Varietal: Pinot Noir

Appellation:  Los Carneros

Alcohol %: 13.2

Sapphire Hill


Vintage: 2016

Varietal: 50% Grenache, 30% Syrah, 20% Mourvèdre

Appellation:  Sonoma County

Alcohol %: 13



If you’re looking for your next wine tasting excursion that doesn’t include the Napa or Sonoma, Paso Robles is calling your name. Located about 200 miles south of San Francisco, Paso Robles has made a name for itself primarily because of its award-wines, but also because it offers a historic downtown, delicious restaurants, and breathtaking views around each corner. With 200+ wineries, the options may seem a little overwhelming, so we've compiled our top 7 wineries the offer the best views around. Now all that's left to do is get there...and get ready to soak up the wine and soak in the beauty that surrounds you. 

Niner winery photo.jpg

Photo Credit: Niner Wine Estates

Daou brothers created a little slice of Napa in the hills of Paso Robles Westside, but with much better views. Park at the bottom of the hill (unless you are a club member) and you will be whisked to the top of the mountain in an air-conditioned Mercedes mini-bus. DAOU wines are not cheap, but the quality rivals the best of Napa. The view at Daou is unparalled - creating the perfect place to soak in the incredible scenery as you savor their spectacular wine. Pictures are unable to truly reflect the beauty of this place, which'll have to go in and see it for yourself! 


Until the arrival of DAOU, Calcareous had the #1 view in Paso. To visit, you will need to drive up winding roads and climb (in your car) the steep hill to get to this limestone plateau, but it is definitely worth it. Bring your picnic basket to enjoy a food and wine experience or just simply take your yourself and sip, relax and watch hawks flying above this expansive property. Calcareous has a nice variety of wines using grapes from both warmer Paso Robles and cooler York Mountain (high elevation and just 7 miles from the ocean). 


Le Cuvier offers yet another breathtaking hilltop view overlooking the the mountain ridge to the north of the town, and so close to downtown Paso Robles. With a name that  variously translates from the French as “little barrel room, Le Cuvier's philosophy is small production (meager 3600 cases) and non-intervention by utilizing native yeasts, dry-farmed fruit and neutral barrel aging . It is also first Paso winery to offer food pairings as part of the standard tasting.  

Le Cuvier View.jpg

Just off Hwy 46, Croad offers spectacular view of the Templeton Gap hills and vineyards across the road. The owners hail from New Zealand, so you might be lucky to arrive just in time for a "Kiwi Hour", which means 50% off the wine by the glass. Croad is a popular wedding destination as well, so for all of you looking for the perfect spot to say "I do".... look no further. In addition to the winery, they also have an inn located on the property, creating an true destination within Paso Robles' beautiful wine country.


Niner's Heart Hill is one of the most photographed places in Paso Robles. The name tells it all: vineyard hill with a tree patch shaped as a heart. Is there a better place for a wedding proposal or celebration? The wines are spectacular too, coming from both the West and East side of Paso Robles, as well as estate Jaspersen Ranch Vineyard in coastal Edna Valley. They are also one of the 2 vineries here that make Carmenere, but it sells out fast. They also have a well-regarded restaurant on the property, serving lunch Th-Su 12-3 so visiting around lunch time to savor both the wine and food is highly recommended. 


This winery is not on the hilltop, but there is something majestic about it' pastoral settings. Halter Ranch facilities are brand new and blend extremely well into the surrounding vineyard and tree-covered hills just off Adelaide Road. They focus on Rhone varietals, but you will also find some other gems, like Tannat. Come on Saturday or Sunday to catch their complimentary winery and cave tours, offered several times a day. It gets busy, however, so be sure to make reservations in advance.

halter ranch.jpg

The Eastside of Paso provides majestic rolling hills, studded by oak trees and covered by vineyards. Pear Valley has one the best views on the East Side, best viewed from their stunning 'wedding pad'. This family owned winery and vineyards offers a variety of wines including various reds, whites, dessert and port-style, as well as reserve. But the only way to snag these wines, outside of their website, is to savor and purchase on the property - so head over and get tasting!

pear valley.jpg




This article from GQ Magazine by THE EDITORS OF GQ spells out 20 New Rules of Drinking (and Buying) Wine that aren't so new to us here at SIP & SAVEUR. Why? BECAUSE WE DO WHAT WE WANT! 

But we think its great that GQ is letting everyone else in on these rules.

Here's all you need to know to navigate that world, find the best bottles (and cans!), drink above your pay grade and say "screw you" to the old rules:

RULE NO. 1 Sparkling Wine is Exploding

Drinkers of the world, we are living in a full-blown bubbles bubble, with unprecedented quality, variety and accessibility fizzing in our coupes.  From England to New Mexico, everybody's making sparklers - and everybody's drinking them - to the point where Ariel Arce can focus an entire bar, the rambunctious “underground champagne parlor” Riddling Widow in Manhattan, just on popping bottles.

RULE NO. 2 There's a Simple Way to Get a Killer Bottle in a Restaurant

“A lot of people find talking about money uncomfortable, but there's no way around it. So just come in and say how much you feel comfortable spending. Never, ever, ever have any of us scoffed at a number. It actually makes the situation way less intimidating, because knowing your number means we're not up-selling you. When I hear a number, I'm like: Awesome. I'm gonna find you the best bang for the buck, and you're gonna freak out and want this wine all the time.” — Marie-Louise Friedland, a wine director at two of San Francisco's most ambitious restaurants, The Progress and State Bird Provisions

RULE NO. 3 The Best Wine Class We've Been to is on Netflix


If you need a 94-minute crash course on how to taste and appreciate wine, queue up Somm, the surprisingly intense 2012 documentary about a group of wine obsessives cramming for their Master Sommelier exam. You'll cringe at their fails along the way, but you'll also learn as they learn. When it's over, start buying wine on Verve, the new e-commerce site from Somm star Dustin Wilson. From then on, you're no longer a heavy drinker—you're a “serious taster.”

RULE NO. 4 Even a Hot-Dog Shack Can Have a Top-Notch List

If anything embodies the wine-ification of America, it's the surprising places tasty wine is popping up.

Drink at That Hot-Dog Joint
Master Sommelier Christopher Bates worked at world-class restaurants before opening F.L.X. Winery in the Finger Lakes, where he serves his favorite wines with burgers and dogs.

Drink in a Stable
Out on the North Fork of Long Island, McCall Winery and Ranch has turned a horse barn into a tasting room. Its glorious lawn is strewn with picnic tables ideal for nursing that Cab Franc.

Drink at a Ball Game

Perhaps to dull the pain of the Padres' woeful pitching, San Diego's Petco Park lets you bring entire bottles straight to your seat via re-usable carafes and cups.


Drink at Disney World

The quality of South African wines has skyrocketed—and Jiko restaurant at Animal Kingdom Lodge in Orlando has the biggest list in the United States.

Drink in Midair

Your in-flight order is no longer (inexplicably) a Bloody Mary. Emirates airlines pours more than 70 labels on any given day and has 3 million bottles aging in France.

RULE NO. 5 Not All Wine-Speak is Gibberish


Andrea Morris, the sommelier at New York Vegetarian restaurant Nix, decodes three terms that'll help you articulate what you want—or don't want—to drink.

A sensation of freshness and crispness (as opposed to richness). “A few years ago, if you said ‘acid’ at the table, everyone thought the wine was gonna be sour. Now people think it'll be a minerally high-acid white, like a Riesling, as opposed to an oaky Chardonnay.”

Once considered a flaw, exposure to oxygen can sometimes change wine for the better, creating an invitingly toasty, hazelnutty aroma. “Old Chenin Blanc always tastes to me like Pepperidge Farm Pirouette cookies, the French Vanilla ones. In old Burgundies, it's more almondy.”

It's when your red wine tastes funky. A lot of wines from France's trendy Jura region have this characteristic. “I hate to compare the smell to manure, but it can be a little bit like a stable. Or rust. It's iron-y, like blood. That combination of sharpness and damp-soil smell.” But tasty!

RULE NO. 6 Natural Wine is Getting Americanized

For a while, natural wine was what we heard every hipster in France was into. Now it's thoroughly integrated into the drinking culture of places like Brooklyn, where LCD Soundsystem frontman James Murphy has opened a natural-wine bar (The Four Horsemen), and Portland, Maine, where Here We Go Magic drummer Peter Hale now runs a natural-wine shop (Maine & Loire). Though the term “natural” means different things to different people, in general it's made without all the junk—industrial fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, enzymes, sugar, and the dreaded additive known as Mega Purple—that turns wine into a homogenized product, the viticultural equivalent of Nickelback. “You can expect a whole lot more from a wine that's made naturally,” Hale says, “because there's more potential for idiosyncratic flavors or textures—a greater sense of wine being unique.” Enjoying it means understanding that a given wine's quirks aren't imperfections. They're conscious aesthetic choices.

RULE NO. 7 Robert Parker Can S.T.F.U. Now

Love ya, Bobby, but your reign as the Only Wine Writer Who Matters is over—and so are the days when a 0-to-100-point scale (which always felt more like a 90-to-93 scale, anyway) dictated what we drank. There are now a thousand sources to help us find, understand, order, and enjoy more wine. Here are three we trust.


Snap a photo of any wine label with your phone. Boom: The Vivino app gives you crowd-sourced tasting notes, the average retail price, and suggested food pairings. Somehow it works on restaurant wine lists, too. Twenty million users can't be wrong.


Alongside pics of her chugging from the bottle, Marissa A. Ross's blog (Wine. All the Time.) bursts with irreverent reviews. One recent white was described as having “all the quintessential Sauv-Blanc shit in there—the citrus, the greenery, the subtle air of cat piss.”


The superb Hudson Valley shop Suburban Wines sells discounted bottles via newsletter. Many of the wines—like a $12 Moroccan red from Ouled Thaleb—are total surprises, and (though your FedEx guy will loathe you) Suburban ships to your front door.

RULE NO. 8 You Can Tell More From the Back of the Label than the Front




1. This is the producer, a.k.a. the winemaker.


2. This is the grape. Clairette Blanche is white, with origins in France and a musky apple flavor.

ALC 11.5% BY VOL

3. Most mass-market wine hovers around 13 percent alcohol, which means this one goes down easier.


4. Yeah, they're preservatives. And yeah, some asthmatics can react to them. But most people don't.


5. Love a wine? Note the importer, then search for other bottles it brings in. Two names to look for: Percy Selections (for Spanish and French natural wines) and Kermit Lynch (for French and Italian).

6. Fining is a process for clarifying wine. Declining to filter or fine is considered non-interventionist winemaking and suggests the wine will be on the wild side.

RULE NO. 9 ...Unless the Front of Your Label Looks Like This


Thanks to the Blaxploitation-style artwork for his take-no-prisoners red, Machete, Orin Swift winemaker Dave Phinney has developed a reputation not only for the wine he makes but for the way he labels it. More and more producers are like that these days. They'll commission original artwork or put their own eighth-grade yearbook photo on the label. Anything to wipe away the pretension and predictability of yet another vineyard sketch.

RULE NO. 10  Have a Wine Emergency? Just Grab One of These

So you're running late for a dinner party and you know nothing about wine and you can't remember anything else you read in these pages. Don't panic: You can find this instantly recognizable Zinfandel blend in many of the same strip-mall shops that sell Yellow Tail, and its flavor blows the kangaroo away. Your host will thank you.

SIP & SAVEUR think you should always have a bottle or two from our favorite wineries like Belden Barns, Banshee, Lioco, and Idlewild. Your host will really be thankful and will guarantee you an invite to the next party.  


Bonus rule: Buy anything this man makes. He's vine whisperer Hardy Wallace, one half of irreverent California winemaking duo Dirty and Rowdy, which embodies all the intense flavors and cheeky attitude of the new-wine movement.

RULE NO. 11 Eastern Europe is the New Western Europe

Many of the world's emerging wine regions have actually been fermenting grapes for thousands of years. Most respectable stores now have a small section devoted to these countries' wines—and since they're not yet famous here, you can afford them even if you can't pronounce them.



  1. Austria is the new France
    Okay, it's technically not Eastern Europe (until Putin gets there), but if you're looking for cheap and delicate Pinot Noirs, you can't do better.

  2. Croatia is the new Italy
    It's not just that the craggy coastline looks like Italy. Croatia's whites are also perfectly light, Italian-style food wines. Try the Pošip grape.
  3. Georgia is the new Spain
    A decade ago, Spain was where you looked for intriguing new values. Georgia has been making wine longer than Spain has—and yet its distinctive orange Rkatsiteli wines are still somehow affordable.
  4. Greece is the new...Greece
    The Greeks are O.G.s of both Western civilization and wine, which as far as we're concerned are one and the same. Their zippy Assyrtiko grape remains a world-class bargain. For now.

RULE NO. 12 The Best Wine Shops Are Very, Very Picky

We don't mind a giant wine warehouse, but the best wine shops are hyper-focused. Ask the somm at the wine-iest restaurant in town where he buys his personal bottles. It'll be a place like one of these.

Red & White Wines | Chicago
Nathan Adams's dimly lit shop serves as the clubhouse for Chicago's natural-wine crowd, particularly on Thursdays and Saturdays, when the store hosts free tastings. On the shelves: a whole lotta Loire.

Le Caveau Fine Wines | Atlanta
Because this shop lies just off Buford Highway, ATL's international boulevard of eats, you can count on owner Eric Brown to recommend the right bottles for Shaanxi noodles or Cantonese roast duck. He also stocks a local delicacy: extra-virgin pecan oil.

Leon & Son | Brooklyn
Even in a wine-saturated yuppie burg like Brooklyn, Chris Leon's little Clinton Hill shop stands out for its deep catalog of small, ambitious American producers (plus plenty from France and Italy) at fair prices. Buy a case and the 13th bottle is on him.

Lou Wine Shop | Los Angeles
Lou Amdur, the wine king of Los Feliz, guides you to your bottle with helpful, quietly hilarious tasting notes such as “Crisp and crackly maritime-influenced Albariño, good for dry mouth and/or a dried-out soul, or shellfish.”



RULE NO. 13 Don't Be Too Snobby for Costco


That's right, one of the world's biggest wine emporiums is the price-busting wholesaler where you buy your monthly gallon of Nutella. Costco stores stock, on average, 170 labels and have “wine stewards” working the floor. Volume buying and minimal markup mean you'll save a ton on higher-end bottles. And the house-label Kirkland Signature wines are made on the sly by reputable producers around the world, so even their champagne and ten-year tawny port are legit. Little-known fact: Costcos in many states sell wine to non-members as well—just tell the doorperson you're buying alcohol only.

RULE NO. 14 And If This is All Too Confusing, Learn to Shop by Color

Whether you're too tired to think or you're in the boondocks and can't be too picky, try this: Buy Italian for red, Spanish for white, and French for rosé. It's a gross generalization, but these countries drink wine with every meal, so nothing they produce will be swill. The Italian will likely be a Sangiovese, their most widely planted grape by far. Spanish whites—which will probably be a refreshing, fruity Verdejo or a bright, fragrant Albariño—offer great value. Most French rosés are from Provence and are light, fresh, and dry, often with a lovely salmon hue. They're easy to find and excellent with food.

RULE NO. 15 Canned Wine Does Not Mean Crap Wine


Until recently, wine's biggest drawback was that you couldn't take it to the beach or sneak it into the movies without causing a scene. Now even that's changing, thanks to convenient, portable, and dangerously poundable canned wines from premium producers. If you're into Oregon Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris, seek out the Underwood label. For California whites and reds, you're after Alloy Wine Works. And if you're ready for a real shocker, Jordan Salcito, who spends her life around the world's greatest vino as wine director for Momofuku Group, has just created Ramona, a line of not-too-sweet artisanal wine coolers, redeeming the most maligned intoxicant this side of Zima.

RULE NO. 16 Wine Cocktails Are Now on the Table

Do like an Italian and make this Negroni alternative, which was invented at Bar Basso in aperitivo-crazed Milan.


Negroni Sbagliato
1 oz. Campari
1 oz. sweet vermouth
3 oz. prosecco
Build the ingredients in a rocks glass over ice and garnish with an orange slice.

From the 2016 book Spritz, by Talia Baiocchi & Leslie Pariseau

RULE NO. 17 For the Love of God, and for the Last Time, Red Wine Should Be Served Chilled

Not cold, but chilled. Like around 60 degrees. Either ask your somm to do it or put your bottle in the freezer for 15 minutes. We promise it'll improve.

RULE NO. 18 The Best Way to Get Into Wine: Invest in a Glass


It wasn't wine that got me into wine. It was a wineglass. At a café I was served a red in a glass so thin, so delicate, so lightweight that it seemed like the stem would snap as I swirled it. (For the record, I had no idea why I was swirling it.) With a really thin glass, you can sense the weight of the wine because the glass weighs so little. The wine also tastes more intense because there's less of a barrier between you and the liquid. Most important: It feels good in your hands, like a brass pen or a wad of money. I started buying wine just to have something to put in the glass.

Of course, nice glasses are pricey. Just one from Riedel's new Superleggero series costs $139. (The popular, crazy-thin Universal glass by Zalto is $60.) But it's worth it. Especially if you're not yet a wino. —Ross MaCammon

RULE NO. 19 Everything You Used to Eat With Beer Tastes Better With Wine

The next time you're indulging in lowbrow comfort food, leave the beer in the fridge. (It's too filling, anyway.) Lately when we order Thai takeout, we're pouring a bottle of Gamay. And we're downing white wine—or even champagne—with fried chicken. With a pulled-pork barbecue sandwich, we might even break out a ritzy Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Try it and you'll find that great wine elevates even the humblest meals. And since a bottle at home costs a third of what you'd pay at a restaurant after markups, you can justify the extravagance.


Courtesy of Laure Joliet

RULE NO. 20 Wine Bars Are Now the Best Places to Eat

Remember when craft beer became cool maybe a decade ago, introducing us to a whole genre of beer-forward gastropubs? Now a similar revolution is turning wine bars from predictable meat-and-cheese-board joints into ambitious, full-on kitchens. And there's one near you, wherever you are.

Gyst | Minneapolis

From their house kombucha and beet kvass to their sauerkraut and kimchi, the fermentation fans behind Gyst follow only one formula: sugar + yeast = kapow. Get the peanut-butter-and-kimchi sandwich. Trust.

Wildair | New York

In their sidekick to block-rocking prix fixe spot Contra, Fabian von Hauske and Jeremiah Stone serve head-on shrimp stewed with garlic and smoked paprika, and fried squid with spring onion and basil.

Parachute | Chicago

A Korean-American restaurant that acts like a wine bar, Parachute careens from porky rice cakes to sirloin with Roquefort—always with an equally racy beverage riding shotgun.

Dame | Portland, OR

A restaurant focusing on what partner Dana Frank calls “unusual grape varieties and unknown regions,” such as Hungary and Slovenia. For dinner: sunchoke soup and oil-poached halibut.

Bergamot Alley | Healdsburg, CA

Kevin Wardell's combo wine bar and retail shop has the balls to sell mostly old-world wine in Sonoma County. Grab a grilled cheese and a handful of the spicy bar mix called D's Nutz.

Your Next Lesson: California Grenache


By ERIC ASIMOV DEC. 29, 2017New York Times


From left, Jolie-Laide Sonoma County Rossi Ranch, Dashe Dry Creek Valley Grenache and Donkey & Goat California the Gallivanter. CreditPatricia Wall/The New York Times

From amontillado we go to a much more contemporary sort of wine, grenache from California.

Also known as garnacha in Spain, where the grape is thought to have originated, grenache has long been a part of the California equation. It was an essential component in old mixed black heritage vineyards, in which many different black grapes were planted and vinified all together.

Over the last 30 years, I’ve seen a few good examples of California grenache, but it’s really been in the last decade or so that grenache has stepped out in California as an interesting wine with a great potential to evolve.

Grenache is grown around the world, including the southern Rhône Valley, where it appears (sometimes alone and sometimes in blends) in Châteauneuf-du-Pape and Gigondas. In Catalonia, grenache is the backbone of Priorat and Montsant. The grape can be found in many other parts of Spain, in Sardinia and in Australia.

Grenache wines must walk a narrow path. The grapes thrive in hot, dry places. But if too hot, and the grapes get overripe, the wines can be sweet, hot and dispiriting. If grown carefully and vinified without solely power in mind, grenache can be spicy, herbal and complex.

Because of this balancing act, grenache is often blended with other grapes. They can add tannins, acidity and other characteristics that grenache lacks. But not always. Château Rayas, the great Châteauneuf that has become one of the world’s most coveted wines, is made entirely of grenache.

The three wines I recommend are:

Dashe Dry Creek Valley Grenache Les Enfants Terribles 2016, $25

Donkey & Goat California the Gallivanter 2016, $20

Jolie-Laide Sonoma County Rossi Ranch Grenache-Syrah 2015, $48

As is often the case, these are small-production wines. But fear not. Other good examples come from Tablas CreekBonny DoonEdmunds St. JohnRidgeBirichinoA Tribute to GraceSkinner and Broc Cellars. Ask at a good wine shop for a California grenache or grenache blend, and you may find even more options.

I will confess, the wines we will be drinking are new to me, so I’m not yet sure what I would serve with them. I would instinctively lean to beef or pork stews and braises, and simpler meaty dishes like sausages and burgers. I probably would avoid dishes that are overly spicy or delicate.


See full article on NEW YORK TIMES


Holiday Braised Brisket with Regalis Truffle Porcini Mushrooms



2 ounces dried Regalis Truffle Porcini Mushrooms

1½ cups boiling water

¼ cup olive oil

One 6-pound brisket

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

4 garlic cloves, peeled and halved

4 bay leaves

2 yellow onions, thinly sliced

1 rosemary sprig

½ cup tomato paste

1 cup red wine

5 cups chicken stock

Chopped parsley, for garnish


1. Preheat the oven to 325°. In a small bowl, cover the dried porcini mushrooms with the boiling water. Allow to rehydrated for 15 minutes. Drain the mushrooms, reserving the soaking liquid, and set both aside.

2. In a large Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Season the brisket with salt and pepper. Sear the brisket, flipping once, until golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer the brisket to a plate.

3. Add the reserved mushrooms, garlic, bay leaves, onion and rosemary to the pan, and cook until the onions are translucent, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, until caramelized, 2 minutes.

4. Add the reserved porcini liquid and the wine, and bring to a simmer. Cook until the liquid has nearly completely evaporated, 10 minutes. Add the chicken stock and the brisket back to the pan and bring to a boil. Cover the pot and transfer to the oven. Bake, flipping the brisket once halfway through cooking, until tender when pierced with a fork, 2½ to 3 hours.

5. Place the pot back on the stovetop and transfer the brisket to a cutting board. Bring the cooking liquid to a boil and reduce until thickened, 25 to 30 minutes. Meanwhile, let the brisket cool for 10 minutes, then thinly slice it against the grain. Once the cooking liquid is reduced, add the sliced brisket back to the pot to warm through. Transfer to a platter and garnish with chopped parsley, then serve.

We suggest an elegant Syrah or an Old Vine Zinfandel to be paired with this beautiful beef brisket with porcini mushrooms recipe. 




Our Go-to when we're in the mood for cheese.  If you have not experienced or tasted Cowgirl Creamery cheese then we hope that this video will motivate you to seek them out at your local cheese shops.  If you're visiting the Bay Area make plans to visit them at the San Francisco Ferry Building or at Tomales Bay Foods.  We love and highly recommend that you try their MT. TAM and RED HAWK cheese.  

Rare, Subtle And Indulgent: Roger-Constant Lemaire Champagne


Saturday, July 1, 2017, we hosted our inaugural event:  an exclusive tasting of Roger-Constant Lemaire Champagne along our friend, Frances Brooks, owner of Amandus Wines.  Amandus Wines is the exclusive importer and distributor of RC Lemaire Champagne in California.  The event was held at Arader Galleries located on historic Jackson Street in San Francisco.  This was our first official event for SIP & SAVEUR and we are thrilled that it was successful.

Our invited guests were treated to some of the world’s most extraordinary champagnes by Roger-Constant Lemaire and exquisite tartines, quiche and dessert faire by a local bakery.  We are very thankful to Amandus Wines for giving us the opportunity to partner on such a wonderful event and to Josephine Arader of Arader Galleries for allowing us to host the event in her family’s transcending gallery.  Our guests enjoyed being surrounded by the most beautiful vintage maps and botanical prints as they enjoyed sipping on world class champagne.

Roger-Constant Lemaire Champagnes stand out as prestigious; they're rare, delicate, subtle and indulgent.

The Roger-Constant Lemaire Family is proud of their ecological credentials and use only marine algae to protect their vines, canceling out the need for pesticides.  The grapes are selected and harvested by hand, with only first press used in production.  Vinification uses non malolactic fermentation methods to ensure a better quality of Champagne with its own natural acidity. The Champagne has an inherent sweetness allowing for the addition of only a very low dosage of cane sugar. All their champagnes are 12% alcohol by vol.

The Lemaire family history began at the end of the 19th century in Hautvilliers, the birthplace of Champagne.  A family tradition was born when the patriarch, Désiré Lemaire, purchased what is now the Lemaire vineyards. The full vision was developed by his grandchild, Roger Constant Lemaire, who understood the importance of harmoniously blending the different grapes in order to create high quality champagne.

In 1945, Roger doubled the size of the estate and relocated the family home and headquarters to Villers-sous-Châtillon. From just 30 acres, the family operated estate now exports all over the world under the name Roger-Constant Lemaire.


Amandus Wines:

Frances Brooks, founder and owner of Amandus Wines, met Roger and his family two years ago while on vacation in the heart of the Champagne region.  She rented the family’s 18th century home in the village of Villers sous Châtillon home for the trip.  While staying in the family’s home, she met Roger who spoke of their Champagne and that they were interested in breaking into the US market but did not have the budget for marketing.  As fate allowed it, this meeting could not have been more than two great forces being brought together by the universe.  With Frances’ background in advertising, she told the family she would be happy to help work with the marketing materials they already had.   

Roger informed Frances that they had a family friend in the Bay Area who would be her contact in the US.  She offered to support the family and their friend while at the same time creating a new job opportunity for herself (in addition to her day job!).  After not being able to get in touch with the family’s Bay Area contact for 3 months, Frances reported the breakdown in communication back to Roger.  To her surprise and delight, Frances learned that they were no longer working with that person and needed someone to take over the role.  Frances gladly offered to step in to the role as importer and distributor of Roger-Constant Lemaire Champagne in California.  This, in turn, led to her new venture, Amandus Wines.  Amandus Wines is now the exclusive importer and distributor of Roger-Constant Lemaire Champagne in California.

Please direct all inquiries, including orders from the event, to Frances Brooks at



Soil gives wine its character, climate gives wine its personality and man gives the wine its spirit... style.
— Brice Cutrer Jones, Proprietor

Located just 52 miles North of the Golden Gate Bridge in the City of Sebastopol, Ca. in the heart of the Russian River Valley is Emeritus Vineyards. Emeritus Vineyards is on Hallberg Ranch, a 115-acre ranch property. What was once a prime apple orchard is now a Pinot Noir Vineyard owned by Proprietor Brice Cutrer who purchased the property in 1999.

On our visit to Emeritus we were welcomed by Mari Jones, she greeted us with glasses of their 2015 Emeritus Vineyards, Ruby Ruby Rosé Saignée before we started our vineyard tour. The Ruby Ruby Rosé Saignée was light and refreshing after the warm drive from the East Bay. It had a beautiful color and it was aromatic. It was crisp with a great balance that made it light and refreshing with great notes on the palate. It was also close to being sold out when we visited and only available to their wine club members.

Ermeritus Vineyards is one of California’s most distinguished dry-farmed vineyards and is widely known for their commitment in producing Pinot Noir with extraordinary quality.  Wines are crafted around proprietor Brice Cutrer Jones’s philosophy that soil gives wine its character, climate gives wine its personality, and man gives the wine its spirit... style. The result is three Estate Grown and Bottled Pinot Noirs: Hallberg Ranch, Pinot Hill and William Wesley.


Vive la Business France!


It was a real honor to be invited to the Tastin’ France event organized by Business France, the French Trade Commission in North America. There, we were able to taste and experience wines from the main wine regions of France.

The Tastin’ France event strives to promote and encourage the distribution of French wines and spirits in North America by introducing new product and increasing the presence of existing ones while at the same time fostering business opportunities and initiating network connections between industry professionals.

The event was held at GALLERY 308, at Fort Mason in San Francisco which boasts panoramic views of  San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge.

One of our favorite and most memorable people at the event was Bernard Bouteillon, the Export Manager for Vins Descombe.  We reveled in his energy and enthusiasm for Vins Descombe and the wine in their portfolio.  Bernard was very passionate and informative about the different wine regions of France, providing a valuable educational experience as well as some great wines!

Though we wish we could have stopped by all 26 tables, it was necessary to pace ourselves over the course of this 4-hour afternoon.  We absolutely have a greater appreciation of French wines after attending this event. We also learned that it is okay to serve lighter reds slightly chilled, which is often thought in California to be faux pas. As a matter of fact, it’s very French. Vive la France!

The Top Varieties


We enjoyed this guide to the 8 common types of wine By Madeline Puckette of  It is an easy guide of the top varieties that any wine novice can refer to before a day of wine tasting with any wine stiff neck. 

Image from

Image from

The 8 wines included in this article represent 6 of the 9 styles of wine. Trying all 8 wines will give you a good example of the potential range of flavors found in all wine. Each wine listed below also includes alternative varieties that taste similar. So, if you prefer a particular wine, you might also like its alternatives. Try them side-by-side to learn your preferences!

Cabernet Sauvignon

“Cab-er-nay Saw-vin-yawn”

 Taste: Black Cherry, Black Currant, Baking Spices and Cedar (from oak)
 Style: Full-bodied Red Wine
 Description: Cabernet Sauvignon is a full-bodied red grape first heavily planted in the Bordeaux region. Today, it’s the most popular wine variety in the world. Wines are full-bodied with bold tannins and a long persistent finish driven mostly by the higher levels of alcohol and tannin that often accompany these wines.
 Food Pairing: lamb, beef, smoked meats, French, American, firm cheeses like aged cheddar and hard cheeses like Pecorino



Cabernet Sauvignon Alternatives

  • Merlot: Middle weight, lower in tannins (smoother), with a more red-fruited flavor profile
  • Cabernet Franc:  Light to middle weight, with higher acid and more savory flavors, one of Cabernet Sauvignon’s parent grapes.
  • Carménère: Usually from Chile, very similar to Merlot in body, but with the aggressive savory flavors of Cabernet Franc
  • Bordeaux Blend, A.K.A. “Meritage”: Usually dominant to Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot, but also includes any of the other Bordeaux varieties
  • Sangiovese: The noble grape of Tuscany. Similar in body, acid, and tannin to Cabernet Sauvignon, but more red-fruited and elegant



“Sear-ah” (aka Shiraz)

 Taste: Blueberry, plum, tobacco, meat, black pepper, violet
 Style: Full-bodied Red Wine
 Description: Syrah (a.k.a. Shiraz) is a full-bodied red wine that’s heavily planted in the Rhône Valley in France and Australia. The wines have intense fruit flavors and middleweight tannins. Syrah is commonly blended with Grenache and Mourvèdre to create the red Rhône blend. The wine often has an aggressively meaty (beef broth, jerky) quality.
 Food Pairing: lamb, beef, smoked meats; Mediterranean, French, and American firm cheeses like white cheddar, and hard cheeses like Manchego


Syrah Alternatives

  • Malbec: (Argentina) More black-fruited, often with more aggressive oak usage, less meaty, but with more coffee and chocolate flavors
  • Petit Sirah: (United States) This grape has no genetic relation to Syrah, but has even more aggressive tannin, acid, and fuller body
  • Monastrell (aka Mourvèdre): More broad texture, with similar meaty notes, but more of a mixture of red and black fruits
  • Pinotage: (South Africa) Similar in terms of body, with even more intense, smokey notes.



 Taste: A broad, exotic array of fruits from stone (overripe nectarine), to red (raspberry, sour cherry), to blue (plum, blueberry), to black (blackberry, boysenberry), Asian 5 Spice Powder, Sweet Tobacco
 Style: Medium-bodied to full-bodied Red Wine
 Description: Zinfandel (aka Primitivo) is a medium-bodied red wine that originated in Croatia. Wines are fruit-forward and spicy with a medium length finish. Zinfandel is a red grape that may be better known as the rosé wine White Zinfandel.
 Food Pairing: chicken, pork, cured meat, lamb, beef, barbecue, Italian, American, Chinese, Thai, Indian, full-flavored like cheddar and firm cheeses such as Manchego



Zinfandel Alternatives

  • Grenache (aka Garnacha)More middle-weight and red-fruited flavors, with the meaty and peppery qualities you get with Syrah
  • Tempranillo: (Spain) More red and black fruit flavors, as well as lower alcohol and body
  • Rhône Blend: a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre originally from Rhône Valley of France, very similar, but not as fruity
  • Carignan: Not quite as exotic in terms of fruit, but adds a lot of savory, dried herbal flavors


Pinot Noir

“Pee-no Nwar”

 Taste: Very red fruited (cherry, cranberry) and red-floral (rose), often with appealing vegetal notes of beet, rhubarb, or mushroom
 Style: Lighter-bodied Red Wine with higher acid and soft tannin
 Description: Pinot Noir is a dry light-bodied first widely planted in France. The wines always lead with higher acid and soft tannins.
 Food Pairing: chicken, pork, veal, duck, cured meat, French, German, cream sauces, soft cheeses, nutty medium-firm cheeses like Gruyère

Pinot Noir Alternatives





 Taste: Yellow citrus (Meyer lemon), yellow pomaceous fruits (yellow pear and apple), and tropical fruits (banana, pineapple), often cinnamon, butterscotch, and toasted caramel notes (from oak)
 Style: Medium to full-bodied white wine
 Description: Chardonnay is a dry full-bodied white wine that was planted in large quantities for the first time in France. When oak-aged, Chardonnay will have spicy, bourbon-y notes. Unoaked wines are lighter and zesty with apple and citrus flavors. Chardonnay is the white grape of Burgundy.
 Food Pairing: lobster, crab, shrimp, chicken, pork, mushroom, French, cream sauces, soft cheeses such as triple cream brie, medium-firm cheeses like Gruyère

Chardonnay Alternatives

  • Sémillon: More middle weight, although often with oak as well, more citrus-driven and herbal aromatics
  • Viognier: Richer in body, with lots of perfumed, floral-driven aromatics, often oaked as well


Sauvignon Blanc

“Saw-vin-yawn Blonk”

 Taste: Aggressively-citrus-driven (grapefruit pith), with some exotic fruits (honeydew melon, passion fruit, kiwi) and always an herbaceous quality (grass, mint, green pepper)
 Style: Light-bodied to medium-bodied white wine
 Description: Sauvignon Blanc is a dry white grape first widely planted in France. Wines are tart, typically with herbal green fruit flavors. Sauvignon Blanc is a parent grape of Cabernet Sauvignon.
 Food Pairing: fish, chicken, pork, veal, Mexican, Vietnamese, French, herb-crusted goat cheese, nutty cheeses such as Gruyère

Sauvignon Blanc Alternatives

  • Vermentino: from Italy is less herbacious, but with more appealing, bitter flavors (bitter almond)
  • Verdejo: from Spain is almost identical, although sometimes fuller in body
  • Grüner Veltliner: from Austria has more savory vegetable notes (arugula, turnip, white pepper)


Pinot Gris

“Pee-no Gree” (aka Pinot Grigio)

 Taste: Delicate citrus (lime water, orange zest)  and pomaceous fruits (apple skin, pear sauce), white floral notes, and cheese rind (from lees usage)
 Style: Light-bodied White Wine
 Description: Pinot Gris is a dry light-bodied white grape that is planted heavily in Italy, but also in France and Germany. Wines are light to middle-weight and easy drinking, often with some bitter flavor on the palate (bitter almond, quinine)
 Food Pairing: Salad, delicate poached fish, light and mild cheeses

Pinot Gris Alternatives

  • Albariño: from Spain is similar, but has more acid and more citrus-driven aromatics (tangerine, orange juice) and floral aromatics
  • Soave: The grape is Garganega, but often more bruised and oxidized apple-y character, still relatively bitter
  • Muscadet: The grape is Melon de Bourgogne, and the wine is from France. It’s much higher in acid, but still with heavy lees use and relatively neutral flavor




 Taste: Citrus (kefir lime, lemon juice) and stone-fruit (white peach, nectarine) always feature prominently, although there are also usually floral and sweet herbal elements as well
 Style: Floral and fruit-driven aromatic white that comes in variable sweetness. Some producers choose not to ferment all the grape sugar and therefore make the wine in an “off-dry” style.
 Description: Always very high in acid, when made as a table wine Rieslings can be harmoniously sweet (sweet and sour) or dry (very acidic). The wine is polarizing because some people find dry styles too acidic and sweet styles too cloying, but sweetness is always a wine making decision and not inherent to the grape.
 Food Pairing: chicken, pork, duck, turkey, cured meat, Indian, Thai, Vietnamese, Moroccan, German, washed-rind cheeses and fondue


Riesling Alternatives

  • Muscat Blanc (aka Moscato): Less acidic with a much more aggressively floral flavor profile
  • Gewürztraminer: richer, with less acid and more broad texture, rose candy and lychee are typical aromatics
  • Torrontés: Related to Moscato, but always in a dry style, more full-bodied and bitter
  • Chenin Blanc: Also very acidic and made in sweet and dry styles, but much more savory with more apple-y, savory aromatics

International Grenache Day


Friday, September 16th was International Grenache Day and we celebrated it in style with the Northern California chapter of the Rhone Rangers.  The event was held at Two Shepherds winery in Windsor, CA.  It was such an honor to have been invited by Kristie Tacey of Tessier Winery who also hosted us for a private tasting in Healdsburg before the event.  William Allen of Two Shepherds was a gracious host!

We tasted some great styles of Grenache and had the chance to meet most of the participating Rhone Rangers.  Perhaps some don’t know that there are two types of Grenache:  Grenache Noir and Grenache Blanc.   Although Grenache Noir (the “red” one) is more common, it is mostly known as a blending grape.  It is frequently found blended with the likes of Syrah and Tempranillo. Many producers blend Syrah into Grenache to achieve a darker color and a firmer tannin structure.  But we love it on its own, especially as a rosé!

Thank you to the Rhone Rangers for organizing this great event.  They do good work, indeed!  The Rhone Rangers are the leading non-profit organization in the U.S. dedicated to promoting American Rhone varietal wines.  American “Rhone-style” wines are made from the same grapes that flourished for centuries in France’s Rhone River Valley.  These wines pair well with a wide range of food and rich flavors. We love to pair Grenache with highly spiced dishes, grilled meats, and sausages.


Back From Our Summer Hiatus With A New Look!


We apologize for not having new content all summer.  We had so much fun that we forgot to put in the work!  That said, we attended so many events, here is our attempt to get you caught up.

First, we found a great Peruvian restaurant in Walnut Creek, CA called Parada.  We really love it!  After our first visit, we must have gone back three weekends in a row.  The menu is just so fun and easy.  Their cocktail list is equally fresh and lively.  Given how much we love this place, it’s likely we’ll go back to do a more in-depth feature on Parada next time we’re out in Walnut Creek...stay tuned.

For the Fourth of July Weekend, we attended the 10th Annual All American Zin Day.  We discovered a great group of family winemakers that each make GREAT WINE!  Family Wineries Dry Creek Cooperative Tasting Room consists of six locally and family owned wineries.  Collier Falls Vineyard, Dashe Cellars,  Forth Vineyards, Lago di Merlo Vineyards and Winery, Mietz Cellars, and Philip Staley Vineyard and Winery.  The group of winemakers there are passionate about their wines and you see it in all they do to support one another with this joint venture.  When you visit the tasting room,  you’ll be able to taste more than 30 varietals and blends from the surrounding vineyards in Sonoma County.  The tasting room is open seven days a week so when you’re in the area make sure to visit Family Wineries in Dry Creek and say Sip & Saveur sent you!!

While next door, we visited our friends at Kokomo Winery who just opened their Members Only lounge that weekend.  Leslie Hanson, our friend and tasting room lead, was able to get us access and we had the pleasure of meeting Randy Peters- a trailblazer in the wine industry.  He poured us vintages from the Kokomo library and spent time talking to us about both the wine and the vineyards.  It was such a pleasure to have been able to do that.  Thanks Leslie!

We were also spoiled rotten with lobster this summer!  We attended two lobster feeds and who doesn't love a lobster feed!?  The first was at Black Stallion Winery in Napa and the other, at “Suite D” of Girl & The Fig fame in Sonoma, was hosted by Walt Wines.  The food at Black Stallion was deliciously prepared by Sorensen Catering and everything was amazing!  The event started out with a welcoming reception where Black Stallion had cheese plates while pouring select wines on the patio.  During dinner, they poured their 2014 Limited Release Poseidon Vineyard Los Carneros Chardonnay and Cabernet (don’t knock the pairing).  We had the unexpected pleasure of meeting part of the Black Stallion family, Maché and Chris Indelicato.  They were both super warm and friendly;  we really enjoyed our chat with Maché.   While there, we also met a couple of Maui “influencers” who flew in just for the event.  Wow!  Such a great evening with a very nice group of invited guests - mostly wine club members.

It goes without saying that the Walt Wines feed was catered by Girl and the Fig.  It was a daytime event that was so much more than lunch.  Starting with plentiful charcuterie, this event was a release party for their Bob’s Ranch Chardonnay.  It was aromatically intriguing and flavorful with a beautiful floral character.  Both smooth and sweet (though not overly) there was a nice grip to pair with the lobster.

On Sunday, August 21st, we attended the Family Winemakers Tasting in San Francisco.  It forced us to miss the Healdsburg White Party with some of our other wine club friends, but we just couldn’t pass up this event in our own backyard for the second year in a row.  It was held at the Cruise Terminal of Pier 27...a shockingly beautiful location!  Hopefully Pinot Days location scouts will discover this gem as they seem to be playing around with locations.

This event has been happening for the past 26 years and for the 121 wineries that were pouring at  the event this has become a family tradition.

A little about Family Winemakers of California; This is a great organization that advocates for the rights and interests of their members to produce, market and sell their products. They are dedicated to preserving the broad diversity of California wine. They have lobbied drink taxes, water issues, fees, warning labels, social media, labor issues, and farming regulations at the State Capitol and regulatory agencies. Because of this organization’s work, we are able to enjoy California wine all across the United States.

During the event, we would’ve been able to taste forty-four varietals and blends (assuming we could make it!).. We obviously enjoyed tasting, but also enjoyed talking to all the people pouring. A frequent topic of conversation was the Chimney Fire and how the smoke may affect the surrounding Central Coast vineyards.  Attending the event allowed us to meet new producers from Northern California and the Central Coast that we hadn’t been introduced to before.  We particularly liked the connections we were able to make along with the wineries that expressed a legitimate interest in SIP & SAVEUR…we’ve begun reaching out and visiting some, though there are obviously many long overdue e-mails to come.  

On Monday, August 22nd, we attended Wines of Danger for the first time.  This trade and media tasting was held at Mission Rock Resort in San Francisco.  This event was a much smaller group compared to Family Winemakers, only seventeen California wineries spanning from El Dorado County to the Central Coast.  We really like attending this event because it was really intimate and gave us more time to spend with, in many cases, the individual owner/winemaker - as opposed to the marketing/PR or tasting room staff you get at most other events (not that it’s a bad thing).  Being new to this particularly close-knit group, we didn’t know too many people, but we were thrilled to the newbies as we were welcomed with open arms, wine and some of the freshest oysters you’ve ever had.  Shout out to Mission Rock Resort!

Following such events, we would usually list our standout wineries here; but instead, we’re going to do it a little differently this time.  We intend to honor these standouts with their own entire write-up once a more personal visit occurs (one has already taken know who you are!).

The last event we attended for the summer was EAT DRINK SF at the Fort Mason Center Festival Pavilion.  This was a 3-day event, but we only attended the Sunday,  August 28th tasting.  If you love food - and when we say food, we mean GOOD food - then you have check out this event next year you’ve never been!  EAT DRINK SF is a truly magical experience, featuring the work of more than 160 chefs and restaurants and unlimited pours from local beverage purveyors in San Francisco Bay Area.

A standout for us was the Wines of Portugal session headed by the Founder of San Francisco Wine School and Master Sommelier, David Glancy. His talk not only inspired us to buy and drink more Portuguese wines but possibly even pursue CSW Certification in the near future (we’ll also be attending the Wines of Portugal trade event hosted soon by Full Circle Wine Solutions - that same group that recently put on the stellar Latin American Wine and Spirits).  So much wine and food with so many events...and so little time to tell you about all of them while still holding down our day jobs.  For now ;-)

EAT DRINK SF is one food event that you definitely need to attend with an empty stomach so you can taste through the entire line-up of top-tier Bay Area restaurants from some of the top chefs anywhere.  We’re already looking forward to next year (and hoping the vegans won’t be protesting again)!

To recap; we had a really busy summer and enjoyed a great deal of wine...but best of all, we met some really great people!!





On Saturday, June 18th, SIP & SAVEUR attended its second Pinot Days event in San Francisco. This year it was held at the Bespoke at Westfield  (though most people we talked to preferred the Metreon location of last year’s event).  Pinot Days San Francisco has become the largest single gathering of Pinot Noir producers in the world. It allows local vineyards and winemakers who produce award-winning Pinot Noir to be in the light and on a much-deserved pedestal.

This year, we reconnected with a few of our standouts from last year’s event,  including Belden Barns and St. Rose Vineyards. Following is our list of new discoveries and standouts from this year’s event:

Lauren & Nate Belden of Belden Barns

Lauren & Nate Belden of Belden Barns


Gracianna out of Healdsburg, California. Gracianna is owned by the Amador Family who named their winery after the family’s maternal grandmother, Gracianna Lasaga. The Amador family takes pride in providing an ultra-premium wine experience for wine lovers who enjoy a bottle of their wines.  We found Seth and the others working their table to be super-friendly. 

Davis Bynum was another one of our favorites this year. Kristen Mowforth and her partner-in-crime were both very friendly, warm and fun. It made experiencing the pinot noirs from Davis Bynum that much more enjoyable. The Davis Bynum Pinot Noir had a beautiful ruby red hue with cherry, tea leaves and dusty oak in the nose. It had vanilla, dark chocolate, cherries and red plums on the palate. It was bright and full of flavor. It is definitely a bottle of Pinot that you would want to have with friends over a delightful spread of cheeses and beautiful charcuterie to be enjoyed on a warm summer afternoon.

O’Connor Vineyards out of Sebastopol in Sonoma County was one of the first tasting we did during the event and is one of our most memorable standouts from this year’s Pinot Days. O’Connor Vineyard produced their first Pinot Noir in 2005 with the fruits from their vineyard. The fruit from their O’Connor vineyard embodies the traits of the Green Valley sub-appellation of the Russian River Valley AVA, one of the world’s finest growing regions for Pinot Noir grapes. The O’Connor Pinot Noir was a standout because of its aromas and flavors of black cherry, cola, spice, toasty oak and dark chocolate characteristics that a great Pinot Noir should embody.

Last (but not least!), Belle Glos was our hands-down favorite from this year. Though we truly enjoyed all three Pinot Noirs poured by their Northern California Market Manager, Ashely Kent; the “Clark and Telephone” was a real standout for us.  The “Clark and Telephone” is fresh, jammy and full of ripe black cherry, cranberry and gingerbread on the palate. It has the perfect balance of refreshing acidity, velvety tannins and a hint of toffee at the finish.  We expect to stock up on this one soon!

Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard


Driving through the rolling hills of Foxen Canyon Wine Trail, one will be transported back to California’s wild west. You will be enticed by the vast meadows and pristine landscapes with rolling hills, warm California sun and blue skies as the backdrop. Within these winding roads are many wineries and vineyards where you’ll find one of California’s Central Coast wine country staples, Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard.

Fess Parker, an actor in the mid-1950s, was widely known as Davy Crockett in the Walt Disney miniseries of same name as well as his turn as Daniel Boone in the 1960s television series. Fess Parker first moved his family to Santa Barbara in the 1960s and started construction of a bluff top home. When heavy rains caused it to collapse onto the beach, he adjusted his plans and headed inland where he discovered the 714-acre Foxen Canyon ranch property.

‘Davy Crockett, King Of The Wild Frontier’

‘Davy Crockett, King Of The Wild Frontier’

In 1989, Fess Parker, along with his son, Eli, and acclaimed enologist, Jed Steele, planted a 5-acre experimental Riesling vineyard. Eli then planted more vines and started a four-year project to build his family’s legacy in the wine industry to what it is today as Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard.

Today, the Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard is located on a 400-acre Foxen Canyon Road estate and is still a true inspiration of the American Dream while it remains a family-owned business. Eli Parker and his sister, Ashley Parker Snider, continue their family’s legacy as stewards of the family’s vision for the winery. Ashley’s husband, Tim Snider, serves as the President and oversees the day-to-day operations. The family’s vineyard is the 120-acre Rodney’s Vineyard, named after Fess Parker’s late son-in-law. The family also sources grapes from Camp Four vineyard in the heart of the Santa Ynez Valley, which Parker planted in 1998 as well as vineyards in the cooler Santa Rita Hills and Santa Maria Valley appellations.

Andre Tchelistcheff Winemaker of the Year winner, Blair Fox, assumed the role of head winemaker in 2005. A local to the area, Blair Fox started his winemaking career in Santa Barbara County and now does double-duty under his moniker, Blair Fox Cellars, where he explores his passion for Syrah and other Rhone varietals.  We definitely recommend the Syrah and that you check out his own Los Olivos tasting room as well when you’re in the area.

Under Fox, the winery sharpened its focus to produce more small-lot, vineyard-designate wines made from high-quality Rhone and Burgundian varietals, which have won awards in national wine competitions.

Andre Tchelistcheff Winemaker of the Year, Blair Fox

Andre Tchelistcheff Winemaker of the Year, Blair Fox

We recommend that you visit the Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard when you are in the Los Olivos area. The tasting room is located at 6200 Foxen Canyon Road in Los Olivos, California. They offer several wine tasting experiences. For “red only” fans, we recommend you enjoy the enhanced Pinot flight outside.  You can also visit to read about the different offerings. The tasting room staff are friendly and knowledgeable about the wine and the area. It is family friendly and yes, your “fur-child” can come too. We are looking forward to our next visit.

Looking for a place to stay in Los Olives?  There’s also the Fess Parker Wine Country Inn.

2016 Lodi ZinFest


The 11th Annual Lodi ZinFest was held on Saturday, May 14th, at Lodi Lake Park in Lodi, CA. This was our second time at the Lodi ZinFest and we remember it just as it was last year, great crowd and great Zinfandel from 40 Lodi wineries. Though we were not able to taste nearly the number of 200 handcrafted wines that were being poured, we discovered some real standouts among the ones we did taste.

This year we attended the event with our friends from 1-on-1 Travels, John and Monique Storck. The festivities continued into Sunday with winery tours and open houses. We visited five of the wineries that we really enjoyed chatting with during the event at the park. We did revisits and picked up bottles to add to our collection.

Our first stop was Harney Lane where the ZinFest celebration continued with music by Snap Jackson and more great wines. We did a revisit on their Lizzy James 2013 Old Vine Zinfandel and the 2013 Tempranillo that they poured at the park. We tasted off of their tasting list where were able to try the 2014 Albarino, 2014 Chardonnay, 2015 Dry Rosé, as well as their Lizzy James Zinfandel Port that is 100% Estate Grown and aged for 30 months in neutral oak barrels. We think that the Lizzy James Port is the epitome of the perfect port where it is just seductively sweet but not too sugary or syrupy. The thought of it just makes our mouths water. We left Harney Lane with a couple of bottles, including their California-style 2014 Chardonnay.

Our second stop was Upstream Wines at Watts Winery & Vineyards. The live music performance there by Delia and Gage was great!  We hope too see them again!  We had the special privilege of tasting with the Owner and Head Winemaker, Craig Watts. He poured us their entire portfolio and it was great to hear from Craig himself about each wine. After the regular tasting, Craig poured us a glass of his Rosé Frizzante (which we had thoroughly enjoyed the day before!) and pointed us toward the garden where Delia Colorado-Rubio andGage Courtois were performing the latest top 40 hits. We truly appreciated that Delia and Gage were taking all of our requests which made it fun to dance and sing along. The Rosé Frizzante is a delicate sparkling rosé. It’s fragrant and delightfully full of raspberry, cherry and plum notes. It’s so refreshing and different that we encourage all our readers to visit the Upstream/Watts tasting room and pick up a case.  We promise you’ll love it and, of course, make sure to buy a bottle or two of their other wines as well!!  Also, make sure to say hi to Craig Watts and his team and if possible request a tasting with Ellen, who was such a burst of colorful energy and really added to why we had such a great time during our first visit. We left Upstream/Watts with our very own case of the Rosé Frizzante (under the new Mundo del Sol label) and couldn’t be happier!

Peirano Estate Vineyards was our third stop of the day. We were welcomed with warm smiles from everyone in the tasting room. By this time, we were really hungry and – thankfully – they had delicious savory appetizers that paired nicely with their legendary wines. Also included in their spread was some great cheese(s) from Fiscalini Cheese Company.  Gypsy guitarist, Nicholas Liefler, played ambient music which added to the relaxing afternoon as we sat in the garden sipping wine with appetizers and enjoying the vineyard.  They, too, had great case deals for the day and we “walked” home with a case of their adventurous Chardonnay“the Other” White Blend, described as tastefully seductive and sensually delicious.  The label alone is worth a look!  Aside from their “Immortal” Zin, we also really enjoyed the 2013 Sauvignon Blanc – which was on “Zinfest special” for the day as well.

Our last two stops were Lodi Vintners and Oak Ridge Winery.  The Lodi Vintners tasting room was nice, though it had seemingly been a long Zinfest weekend for some.  We were able to reconnect with their Consumer Direct Manager, Dennis Fagundes, whom we had chatted with the day before and he kindly carved out a space for us at the tasting bar while enthusiastically guiding our tasting experience. At Oak Ridge Winery, Lodi’s oldest operating winery (since 1934), the staff greeted us with warm hellos as we entered the 50,000 gallon redwood tank that doubles as their tasting room.  The staff was genuinely excited to hear about the event at the park where we met their Graphic Designer, Nicole. Originally started by a cooperative of local growers, the family-owned passion and pride in their heritage very obviously continues.  The energy was great and it made for an enjoyable first time in their tasting room – we’ll be back for more “Ancient Vine” Zin!

Overall, the wines we tasted from Lodi held their own to the best of Napa and Sonoma. There is a rich viticulture history in Lodi and we hope to explore it in depth with our future visits to this appellation. Thanks to LoCA for putting together the Lodi ZinFest! We had fun at our first Lodi Zinfest and are definitely glad that we came back for our second time!  This is sure to be an annual event for SIP & SAVEUR and we look forward to all our readers joining us next year!