As someone who writes about wine and who also works for a winery, I have multitudinous bottles of wine at my house. It can get overwhelming, albeit in a very, very good way. But what this enviable “predicament” means is that I rarely buy wine. When I do, it’s a pretty epic bottle of juice. Like Preston Barbera.
This weekend, my husband and I put the convertible top down on a glorious spring morning and trekked 30 minutes to Preston Winery to purchase some aforementioned epic wine. We attended a wine dinner at Preston Farm and Winery a few months back and bought some wine as anyone is wont to do after an evening of copious libations. Often, the wine doesn’t live up to the deliciousness in the memory when you open it later. Ever notice that? Context is everything.
The 2014 Preston Barbera, however, most certainly did. We opened said bottle a few nights ago and were so blown away, we immediately planned the voyage north to Dry Creek Valley.
Barbera isn’t a grape plastered all over many California bottles. Far from the ubiquitous Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay or Pinot Noir, the native Italian Barbera grape is rare in these parts. So it checks the box on geek factor for sure. Plus the food-friendliness column. Generally high in acidity and lower in tannins, Barbera brings juicy fruit and versatility to a glass. Read more »
Part of my food life journey is exploring all areas of the protein spectrum and, to be honest, fish was somewhat of a new frontier for me. I ordered it all the time in restaurants (and loved it) but it was an intimidating home meal. All that worrying about freshness, the higher cost and sometimes the smell didn’t exactly make it attractive. But after the past few years, I’m over all of that BS and often make a super easy fish recipe like Mahi with Lemon Caper Sauce. The secret? Buy frozen fillets and you don’t have to worry about freshness (or a fishy smell). This recipe was inspired by Cooking Light Magazine and refined through a few iterations until I made it perfect for me.
Read more: Super easy fish recipe: Mahi with lemon caper sauce (Paleo, AIP)
Of all the wine regions I’ve had the extreme pleasure to visit, Spain’s Rías Baixas DOC, the west coastal home of the white Albariño grape, was the most memorable. From the way they grow their grapes, to the seafood culture, to the wide open possibilities of this beautifully acidic and quite underrated grape, the region holds incredible promise. These memories flooded my brain when I tasted the Valminor 2015 Albariño.
Read more: Wine review: Adegas Valminor 2015 Albariño Rias Baixas
It’s been almost 2 years since my first round of the autoimmune protocol or AIP diet to cure my shellfish allergies with food. What a ride that has lasted a while but I’ve noticed a few things lately that are calling me back into the realms of another 60-day leaky gut reset, starting next month. Not sure if anyone else has these sorts of symptoms but I’ll list them here
Read more: Curing allergies with food: AIP diet redux 2 years later
On the wine geekiness scale, the Alta Mora 2014 Rosso ranks high. Made from a decidedly geeky, native grape called Nerello Mascalese and grown on the slopes of Mt. Etna in Sicily, this robust, well-made red wine checks all the boxes for one-upmanship at a bring-your-own party. The Cusumano family owns this winery, two brothers with balls enough to plant a vineyard very near an active volcano. The largest active volcano in Europe. Yep — hope they’re insured.
Read more: Wine review: Alta Mora 2014 Rosso Mt. Etna Sicily
With a couple of fresh items and a list of pantry-clearing ingredients, this spicy sausage and garbanzo stew recipe comes together in about 30 minutes. You can substitute a bunch of things in this recipe — leftover roast chicken for the sausage (or mild sausage instead), cannelloni beans for the garbanzo beans, and add/sub other vegetables like zucchini or kale to veg it out a little more. It’s so forgiving, it’s kinda tough to mess up the flavors in this stew with additional vegetables. You can even remove the garbanzos if you’re following Paleo or Whole 30 diets, with minimal affect to this little recipe that could.
Read more: Spicy sausage and garbanzo bean stew recipe (weeknight meal)
This year, the Lodi Wine Region hosted the Wine Blogger’s Conference and several hundred bloggers enjoyed some unique fruit of their vines. Sure, there were still overly extracted, high alcohol Zins and Cabs to be had (or not), but I uncovered some pretty incredible small lot, teensy production non Zins that seriously reignited the wine geek in me. Below are some of the best Lodi wines I found.
Read more: Is Lodi the next frontier for wine geeks? The best Lodi wines I’ve tasted
It’s nearing the end of tomato season here in California and I’m always sad when this time comes. Soon, I won’t be able to simply walk outside, pick a plump favorite off the bush and maw on it with fervor. My husband professes that I have a freakish love for these nightshades and I unabashedly admit it — they are a perfect fruit that acts like a vegetable. Tomato sauce, Caprese salad, simply sliced with salt/pepper or in these recipes featuring tomatoes — I wallow in the beautiful yellow, red and green orbs all summer. I’ve been developing this paleo friendly gazpacho soup lately since this year’s massive crop has lent itself to tons of experimentation. The ingredient list might look long but this uncooked blender soup comes together in about 15-20 minutes. How easy is that? Add cooked shrimp to make it a complete meal.
Read more: Recipe: Paleo Friendly Gazpacho Soup
Back in 2007, when I was a full-time wine journalist, I spent a couple of days hanging around Flora Springs, a family-owned winery in Napa Valley. Sean Garvey, 3rd generation and a babe in the woods at the time, showed me around and expounded on the beauty of Napa Valley Merlot. So warm and welcoming, the Garvey and Kome families still hold a place in my treasured wine memories. They likely don’t know this, but, even after almost 10 years, I still recommend their wine and winery to Napa visitors. Because they’re awesome people with solid wines.
Read more: Wine review: Flora Springs Napa Valley Merlot 2014
Rosés are my “thing” in summer (well, anytime, actually) but great wines aren’t just going to land in my lap — research is needed. And foresight, since the best Sonoma County rosé wines sell out quickly. I already missed the window at some wineries, like Cartographe Wines in Healdsburg, but maybe I can glom on to someone else’s forethought to buy some of theirs? Here’s hoping! On my journey to find the tastiest Sonoma County rosés, I did not want for incredibly fruit-forward, bone dry, well-balanced pink stuff in my ‘hood. I tasted my way through eight or so wineries (I could have gone to a lot more but I ran out of space in my wine racks and wallet) and uncovered many summer-worthy finds. But here’s the rub… you generally won’t find any of these on wine shelves, except maybe around Sonoma County, so you’ll need to order direct from the source.
Read more: Exploring the best damn Sonoma County rosé wines