Use Local Wine Shops to Assist With Food/Wine Dinner Planning

July 30th, 2007

Serving a meal with the proper food/wine pairings is a great way to impress your guests and provide them with a memorable culinary experience. But if you’re uncertain what wine works best with the food you’re serving, do what I do – take the menu to your local wine shop and ask for suggestions.

I recently hosted a multi-course dinner and was looking for a fairly eclectic range of wine choices. I brought the menu to Bellingham’s Gateway Wines, and owner Mike Petersen helped narrow the field and let me make the final selections.

One of the best things about Mike is that he won’t steer you towards a $30 or $40 bottle of wine when he knows there’s one that’s half the price that will work just as well. I’ve always found his recommendations to be reliable and reasonable – good stuff to know if you’re flummoxed by the seemingly endless array of wine choices.

For starters, we paired a Carlos Basso 2006 Chardonnay from Argentina (about $10, pictured at left) with triopitakia – a Greek pastry filled with savory vegetables. The Chardonnay is big, full-bodied, and loaded with tropical fruit flavors and it provided a nice complement to the thin, buttery layers of the pastry.

The surprise of the evening was the Contado Mankas 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon from California (about $15). Although this is lighter in body than most cabernets, the complex finish of toasted oak and spices was a perfect match with an entrée of veal roasted in cinnamon and chocolate nibs.

Gateway Wines is located at 202 East Holly Street #111 and is open Monday through Saturday from 11:30 am to 7:00 pm. Phone 676-6284 for more information.

Yakima Valley Wine Tasting

July 23rd, 2007

6:00 to 8:00 pm – Bellingham’s Hotel Bellwether will host this event which will feature a number of wineries from Eastern Washington’s Yakima Valley. Cost is $35 per person and tickets can be purchased online at

Good Wine Deals for Summer, 2007

July 23rd, 2007

Ready for some good wine deals? I’ve got several suggestions for you to consider that I’ve been tasting and sharing with friends. Not only have these wines been well received, they’re also well distributed and highly affordable.

I’m continuing to enjoy sparkling wines this summer and have come across a couple more winners that deserve special mention. First up is the Livio Pavese Extra Dry Prosecco. This delicious Italian sparkling wine is perfect for a warm summer day with floral aromas, big fruit flavors, a fairly sweet finish and relatively low alcohol content. I recently purchased mine at the Community Food Co-Op for only about $10 a bottle.

If you like your sparklers just a touch drier, try the Banrock Station Sparkling Chardonnay (about $11) from South Australia. It’s light and toasty with plenty of pear and apple flavors and an off-dry finish. Serve it with light appetizers or enjoy it well chilled all on its own.

For red wine drinkers, the Cantofino 2005 Granacha Tintorera (about $9) is a well-priced selection from Spain that’s great for everyday drinking. It’s got plenty of nice berry flavors, good acidity and gentle tannins.

The Spires 2003 Barossa Valley Shiraz bucks the trend of some one-dimensional Australian shirazes that have become giant fruit bombs. This one has restrained dark cherry flavors and a nice layer of pepper and spice on the finish that pairs perfectly with grilled lamb and other barbeque meats. At about $11 a bottle it’s a super deal that I highly recommend.

Wine Class at BTC

July 21st, 2007

5:00 to 7:30 pm – Beginning Wine Tasting. The perfect class for those just getting started with wines. The format will be relaxed, yet informative, with plenty of wines to sample. No wine snob attitudes permitted! Click on the Wine Classes Page for more information.

Cabernet Sauvignon

July 21st, 2007

nullSterling Vintners 2004 (about $14): From California’s Central Coast comes this nice, everyday Cab. Good, dark berry and plum flavors glide into a fairly soft finish, but the wine is backed by enough tannins to give it plenty of structure and depth.

When many California Cabernets are being priced through the roof, it’s refreshing to find one under $15 a bottle that will easily meet your red wine drinking needs. Serve it with burgers, roast beef or a nice steak and enjoy!

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