Love Wine? There’s an App for That!

December 23, 2009 by has launched a new iPhone app just for oenophiles. Available at Apple’s App Store, the free application puts over 45,000 wines at users fingertips! You can review wines you love (or hate), discover new favorites, and share your findings with other members of this wine-loving community.

From the press release: The app connects consumers with easy-to-understand wine descriptions, professional ratings, winemaker notes, pricing information and label images. Additionally, customers can save wines in their virtual cellar, create shopping lists, rate wines and share them with friends. Wines can also be added to a shopping cart for purchase.

Soon, plans to add a wine and food pairing tool to the application, making meal-planning a snap. All you do is input your main ingredients and the perfect wine pairings will magically appear! Cheers and bon appetit!


A Tasty Take on the Holidays: Mulled White Wine Using Viognier

December 21, 2009 by

Photo by James Carrier at

Centuries ago someone brilliant decided to spice up his wine with cinnamon and heat it up over the fire.  At the time, perhaps it was a trick to hide the taste of wine that frequently went bad.  Or perhaps it was a mistake. Either way, mulled wine has a long and rich history contributing to its current status as a festive winter beverage.

For example, this is an interesting bit of history from “In medieval times these wines were called Ypocras or Hipocris, named after the physician Hippocrates. They were thought to be very healthy, and indeed, with wine at the time being far more sanitary than water, these heated drinks probably did keep people healthy through the cold winters.”

Luckily, our modern water supply has improved, but the love of mulled wine is as strong as it ever was. Today, it’s  a much anticipated holiday tradition, a celebration of flavor, and a delicious way to stay warm when it’s chilly outside. Most people are most familiar with red mulled wine, but white mulled wine is a delicious and soul-soothing concoction that might taste even better than it’s crimson counterpart.

The recipe below, from,  works perfectly with exclusive RivkaSimone Viognier from Russian River Valley. Try a bottle and see for yourself!

Mulled White Wine


  • 1/2  lemon (about 2 in. wide)
  • 1/2  orange (about 2 1/2 in. wide)
  • 4  kumquats (each about 1 in. long)
  • 2  tablespoons  honey
  • 1/3  to 1/2 cup sugar
  • 6  whole cloves
  • 6  whole allspice
  • 2  cinnamon sticks (each 3 in. long)
  • 2  bottles (750 ml. each) dry white wine


  • 1. Rinse lemon, orange, and kumquats and thinly slice them, discarding seeds; quarter the orange slices. Put fruit in a 4- to 5-quart pan. Add honey, sugar (use the smaller amount if you prefer drinks on the tart side, the larger if you want a sweeter flavor), cloves, and allspice. With a knife, cut the cinnamon sticks lengthwise into thinner strips. Add cinnamon and 2 cups water to pan; bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat and boil gently for 5 minutes.
  • 2. Pour wine into hot citrus base (see notes) and heat until steaming, about 8 minutes. Keep warm over low heat. Ladle into heatproof cups or wineglasses


A lean white wine that hasn’t been aged in oak works best for this drink. You can make the citrus base (step 1) up to 1 day ahead; cover and chill. Reheat to continue. For a clearer mulled wine, in step 2 pour the citrus base through a fine strainer into the wine, then add the whole spices. Add a few fresh lemon, orange, and kumquat slices for decoration as well, if you like.

Second-Career Wine Makers Add Verve to Viticulture

December 15, 2009 by

Photo: Erich Schlegel for The New York Times

Kathryn Jones’ New York Times article, “Wines, With Notes of M.B.A.,” delves into the astonishing diversity of people choosing wine making as a second career.  With a spectrum of backgrounds like chemistry, business, and design, this savvy group is bringing completely new kinds of expertise to the field. Not only that, but second-career wine makers often have more capital to get their brand out into the world! Want to learn more, maybe branch out into the world of wine yourself? We don’t blame you! Read the article here.

To Oak or Not to Oak? Wine and Wood’s Changing Relationship

December 8, 2009 by

If 19th century wine makers caught a glimpse of contemporary viticulture, they would be astounded by the evolution of their craft over such a short period of time. A prime example is the recent move by many wine makers to change the relationship between wine and wood. Traditionally, the oak barrel in which a wine ferments and ages was thought to add a unique taste, character, and depth. This philosophy is still fiercely upheld by many wine makers, but others are choosing to deviate from tradition or disregard it altogether.

Oak staves, chips, and even powder have been brought into the mix in recent years. They are added to young wines as a more economic alternative to barrel aging.

More radical are those wine makers who forgo the oak all together, aging their wines in stainless steel barrels or other containers that have no bearing on the ultimate taste of the wine. This too is a more cost-effective way to make wine, but some prefer the taste of wine untainted by a wooden barrel. Unoaked Chardonnay is perhaps the most popular unoaked wine, but other varieties of white and red are starting  to become more prominent.

The following are links to three very interesting articles about this emerging wine trend.  Ultimately it seems that the choice between oaked and unoaked wines is matter of taste – some palettes simply prefer one to the other.

Wines for All Reasons, by Derek Foster for the Buenos Aires Herald.  So informative, this article gives concise explanations about varietal wines vs. blend wines and oaked wines vs. unoaked wines. Foster emphasizes three wines, each surprising and unique in composition or creation. One, a Tikal Locura 2006,  blends Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Bonarda and Torrontes. Another is a Finca Los Maza Gran Reserva 540 Malbec 2002, aged for 19 months.

Wine Unwooded, by Paul Gregutt for the Seattle Times.  A lively explanation of how and why unoaked wines are gaining in popularity. Gregutt focuses on white wine, recommending six unoaked, unwooded, and virgin chardonnays including Starvedog Lane 2004 ‘No Oak’ Chardonnay ($15). He describes the Australian white as “tart but nicely structured; mixed peaches, guava and nectarine lead into a big, spicy finish.” Here’s a teaser:

“The best white wine grapes have complex aromatics, and much of the pleasure in wines such as riesling, gewurztraminer, sauvignon blanc and pinot grigio comes from these subtle scents. Oak often obliterates such nuances. It can make wines too heavy and difficult to match with food. The switch to unoaked wine-making puts the natural flavors of the grape front and center, and also highlights nuances of the soil, particularly in places such as Sancerre and Chablis.”

The Rougher Than Rough Guide to Oak, by Ernie Whalley for The former Food & Wine Magazine editor explains the history and nuances of oak after constructing a barrel himself. He writes:

“The exercise set me thinking a good deal about the juxtaposition of wine and oak. I returned to Dublin willing to discuss the experience with anyone who would listen. In doing so, I found that many of my wine-loving friends knew little about the effect of oak on wine though, usually in relation to Chardonnay, they were confident enough to express a preference for oaked or unoaked. Hopefully, these musings will help demystify the process a bit further.”

Of course the only way to determine what you prefer is to try some oaked and unoaked wines for yourself – Cheers!

Recipe of the Week: Eggplant with Creole seasoned Wild Rice Stuffing

December 1, 2009 by


photo courtesy of Flickr user Robyn Gallagher

Thanksgiving may be over, but stuffing should stick around all year long! This is a delectable and hearty vegetarian recipe from Snooth author Gregory Dal Paz. Eggplant with wild rice, garlic, and French bread…. Yum!

It pairs perfectly with a glass of Roussanne – a tasty, acidic Rhone varietal. If you’re looking for a bottle to drink with this dish, try our RivkaSimone Wines 2008 Santa Ynez Valley Roussane.

Keep the holidays alive while you enjoy this creative twist on stuffing 🙂

Eggplant with Creole seasoned Wild Rice Stuffing

Serves 6.


  • 2 large or 3 medium eggplants
  • 1 cup wild rice, uncooked
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup onion, fine dice
  • 1 cup celery, fine dice
  • 1 cup red bell pepper, fine dice
  • Scooped out insides of eggplant, 1/2inch dice
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 chipotle chili pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tbsp sweet paprika
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 3 cups of French Bread, ½ inch dice, baked until well toasted, Toasting the bread cubes before adding them to the stuffing will help produce a crisper crust for the finished dish.
  • ½ cup chopped celery leaves, or parley leaves
  • 2 eggs, well beaten


  1. Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise, and scoop out the center, leaving enough meat inside the skin, about an inch, so that it holds its shape when baked. Dice the scooped out flesh, and reserve for use in the stuffing.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350F, make sure to place racks in the lower and middle thirds of the oven.
  3. In a strainer, rinse the rice well with cold water.
  4. Place a large (6qt or larger) stock or sauté pan over medium high heat. When the pan is warmed, add the butter and allow to melt. When the butter is melted, and just beginning to brown, add the onions, celery, peppers, diced eggplant and salt.
  5. Sauté the vegetables until the have softened, about 6-8 minutes, then add the garlic, chipotle, dried thyme and paprika. Blend well and sauté until the garlic is fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  6. Add 3 ½ cups of the vegetable stock. Raise heat to high until the stock comes to a simmer.
  7. Add the rice, reduce the heat to a low simmer and cover the pot.
  8. The rice will take about 40 to 45 minutes to fully cook.
  9. While the rice is cooking you can slice and toast the bread cubes and turn your attention to preparing the squash.
  10. Toast the bread cubes on a baking sheet placed on the middle rack of the pre-heated oven. After 4 minutes or so give the cubes a stir to help promote even browning. Allow to bake for an additional 3-4 minutes or until golden brown.
  11. Remove the bread from the oven and raise the heat to 425F
  12. Once the rice is fully cooked remove the pan from the heat and blend in the bread cubes, adding additional stock as required. Allow the rice to cool enough so that the eggs won’t cook when you stir them in.
  13. Add the celery (or parsley) leaves and eggs and blend until well combined.
  14. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as desired.
  15. Fill the scooped-out eggplant halves with this mixture, dividing it evenly among the halves. Place them on an oiled oven tray or baking dish, and bake for 40 minutes, on the lower rack in the preheated oven.
  16. Let cool briefly, slice widthwise and serve.

Del Paz offers this recommendation to make this dish even more delicious:

    I like to top the eggplants with a bit of cheese for color and flavor but I’ve omitted the cheese, keeping this strictly vegetarian. For this dish I like a Sheep’s milk cheese such as Manchego or Pecorino.

A Tantalizing Taste of Argentina’s Foodie Culture: Stephen Metcalf’s “Cocina Confidential”

November 24, 2009 by

Photo by Trujillo Paumier

Everyone should curl up with a glass of Mendoza malbec and read  “Cocina Confidential”, Stephen Metcalf’s  travel-writing piece deemed required reading by the New York Times.  It’s a descriptive delight, following Metcalf’s culinary journey through Buenos Aires with Argentine writer Uki Goni and other characters. Readers will learn about parrillas, traditional barbecue joints, and bodegóns, traditional restaurants made by/for immigrants, not to mention the exotic local dishes.  The piece is as entertaining as it is informative – Metcalf weaves together people, places, politics, and a passion for foodie culture masterfully!

Here’s a teaser:

“We tucked in to a set of picadas, or tapas-like dishes — in this instance, fleshy tongue-like slabs of roasted red peppers and provolone and provoleta, a fried cheese dish, while we drank pints of the house-brewed beer. When I dipped my bread in the oily remains of a picada, Guzman smiled. ‘In Argentina, this is something you don’t do in a restaurant,’ he said. ‘But in a bodegón, they don’t care about manners. In fact, they don’t have any.’ ” – Stephen Metcalf

The Vines of Mendoza Wins FIABCI Award for Innovation

November 19, 2009 by

image courtesy of vines of mendoza

For those of you who don’t know, The Vines of Mendoza is an impressive one-stop shop for lovers of Argentinian wine. On top of its Acequia Wine Clubs and Mendoza Tasting Room, the company offers Private Vineyard Estates, enabling owners to independently manage their very own winery in the heart of Mendoza’s gorgeous wine country.

At the Salon del Mercado Inmobilario 2009, a well-respected real estate fair in Buenos Aires, The Vines of Mendoza was recently given a prestigious award. FIABCI, an international real estate federation, gave The Vines of Mendoza’s Private Vineyard Estates the title of winner for Innovation in the field of Vinviticultura, or Vineyard development and management.

Congratulations to Vines of Mendoza!

A recent post from The Vines of Mendoza’s blog reads:

We were honored to receive such a prestigious award and feel that this is just the beginning for innovation not only in vineyard development in Argentina, but for the wine industry in the Valle de Uco. We look forward to continuing our efforts!

Wine Rocks Seattle, Nov. 12 @ Palace Ballroom, 7-10pm

November 10, 2009 by


This Thursday, Wine Rocks Seattle makes it sophomore debut at the Palace Ballroom.  The evening features entertainer Chris Ballew from The Presidents of the United States of America, libations from over 20 wineries and distilleries, and nibbles from Seattle’s very own king of cuisine – Tom Douglas. Proceeds benefit Programs for Early Parents Support (PEPS).

Wine Rocks Seattle says:
Our second annual event featuring noted Washington wine personalities as the evening’s ROCK STARS! Not only do they make excellent wine that you can taste throughout the show, they sing, play guitar, sax, drums and more! Taking place at the very chic, urban Palace Ballroom, where every wannabe rock star wants to be. Sample fabulous food prepared by Tom Douglas Catering and delicious cheese provided by Beecher’s. WINE ROCK FOOD FUN!

Tickets: $50 each, must be 21+ to attend, ID checked at door

Time: 7 – 10pm

InterContinental Mendoza Opening in 2010

November 3, 2009 by

photo of Mendoza courtesy of flickr user michelle reynolds

As if you needed another reason to visit one the world’s most beautiful wine countries, a brand new InterContinental hotel is set to open in Mendoza in March 2010. Check out the press release describing the city’s newest addition:

23 October, 2009

IHG Signs Agreement for New InterContinental Hotel in Mendoza, Argentina

The 218-guestroom InterContinental Mendoza will be located in city renowned for its spectacular vineyards

MIAMI, FL – IHG (IHG) [LON:IHG, NYSE:IHG (ADRs)], the world’s largest hotel group by number of rooms, today announced it has signed a franchise agreement with KLP Emprendimientos  S.A. for development of the InterContinental Mendoza, in Mendoza, Argentina.

It will be IHG’s third InterContinental in Argentina, along with the venerable InterContinental Buenos Aires, and the under-construction InterContinental Nordelta Buenos Aires, Residence & Spa, in the Nordelta area of Buenos Aires.

Slated to open in March 2010, the 15-story InterContinental Mendoza will total 218 guestrooms, inclusive of 62 suites and will be conveniently located next to a Convention Center.  The hotel boasts 10 meeting rooms totaling 22,500 square feet, inclusive of a 12,900 square foot ballroom.

Situated in a new emerging business district, adjacent also to the city’s largest upscale shopping center, Mendoza Plaza, the hotel will be located ten minutes from downtown Mendoza and twenty minutes from the city’s international airport.  Amenities include a full-service spa, swimming pool, gym, restaurant and casino.

Mendoza is located towards the middle section of the country’s western boarder, on the eastern side of the Andes.  The city is a regional capital, positioned on a major international thoroughfare linking Argentina with the important seaports of Chile. The region, rich in natural resources, is the heart and soul of Argentina’s wine country, where European settlers introduced the ancient craft of winemaking in the 19th century.

The wineries in Mendoza are famed to produce the world’s highest ranked Malbec wines.The city is also an adventure tourism center, offering world-class hiking, biking, fishing, rafting, horseback riding in the summer as well as world-class skiing and snowboarding in the winter.  Mendoza attracts more than 700,000 tourists per year, making tourism one of the region’s fastest growing industries.
Read the rest of this entry »

Accolades for Achaval Ferrer from The Times

October 31, 2009 by

Jane Macquitty, Wine Correspondent for The Times of London, recently reviewed The Wine Society, the largest mail-order wine club in the world. She reviewed many of the club’s wines and finished the article by selecting her favorite wines of the week. To our delight, “The Keeper” title went to Achaval Ferrer’s 2007 Malbec! You can read the whole article here or her wonderful description of the Malbec below:


2007 Malbec Achaval Ferrer, Mendoza, Argentina Corney & Barrow (020-7265 2400), £12.49 Cellaring a New World wine may sound daft but Argentina’s full-throttle malbec, the country’s finest red grape, is an obvious contender. Put away this distinguished and already seductive, spicy, mulberry-stashed malbec, from one of the finest Argentine producers, for five years or so and it will develop all sorts of dusky, complex, earthy flavours. Drink now until 2012.