Wining Wife®

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Tag: wine tasting

Become a Wine Expert in 5 Easy Steps

Tempranillo varietal wine bottle and glass, sh...

What are your favorite tips for becoming a wine expert? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Learning about wine is an intellectual pursuit of its own right. It’s fascinating just how many flavors you can get in wine and how complex a simple glass of alcohol can be. Many people feel intimidated by wine tasting, and they avoid trying different types of wine for fear of “not doing it right.” At Snooth, they published a list of 5 Tips for Becoming a Wine Expert. Namely, they recommend budding oenophiles to avoid snobbery, drinking wine in “squares,” learning about the varietals and producers, tasting blind, and being honest about opinions.


That’s all great advice. After all, by tasting all kinds of wine, you can find out what you like and don’t like – and you’ll find out that you like (or don’t like) wines that surprise you. I’d offer the advice that you need to come to your wine tasting with an open mind. Just because you didn’t like one varietal produced by a winery doesn’t mean you won’t like another. For instance, we really enjoyed Bargetto Winery‘s Chaucer’s Mead. We did not, however, enjoy other wines we tasted from them. They were fine, they just didn’t have the same effect on us as other wineries. Also, the quality of wine can change from year to year depending upon the weather and the grapes. Just because you haven’t liked one winery in the past, doesn’t mean you should avoid everything from them forever – you may be surprised. Not only that, but over time, your palate will change.


That being said, I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to bring myself to drink mass-produced wines like Gallo, Wild Vines, and Franzia for the same reason I don’t touch Budweiser, Millers, or Coors.


What is the best piece of tasting advice you’ve received? Are there wines you won’t try?


December Wine Events Around the North State


Wine-tasting (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Are you looking for something to do that’s wine related? Are you winery, cellar, or restaurant that would like publicity for wine events? If you are interested in having your event featured, please email us at We would like to offer our readers a full list of wine events across the country. The deadline for each month is the last Thursday of the month preceding (i.e January’s deadline will be December 27th and February’s deadline will be January 31st.) Please email for information on how YOU can have your wine event featured on Wining Wife today!

Butte County, California

Creekside Cellars – Thursday, Friday, Saturday Weekly – Wine tasting – there is a different theme each week; tastings are priced by the half glass and glass. A cheese plate is specially prepared to accompany each week’s featured wines. Upcoming themes: A Little of This a Little of That; Christmas Dinner Selections; Wines to Give, Wines to Receive

Hickman Family Vineyards Holiday Open House – 11am-5pm December 8th and 9th

Grey Fox – Wine Club Christmas Party – 5-7pm December 8th

Sierra Oro Holiday Farm Tour 11am-5pm December 15th and 16th – featuring Long Creek Winery, Bertagna, Hickman Family Vineyards, Grey Fox, Gale, New Clairvaux, LaRocca, and Honey Run – There is no charge for the tour; $5 for wine tasting, refundable upon purchase of wine.

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The Mozart Mile and Sierra Oro Farm Trail Day Two

2012-10-07 20.40.51Today, we ran the Mozart Mile – a 5K race where every quarter-mile you pass a performer. The purpose of the race is to raise money for programs at the North State Symphony. It’s a lot of fun, and I hadn’t run in a race all year (I know, bad me!).  It was my getting out of an injury rut race, and I ran with Wining Husband, so that was fun.

The really awesome thing about the race is that even though it was the first race after a lot of leg problems, both my husband and I placed! I took 3rd place in the 30-39 year old women category, and the husbs took 2nd place in the 30-38 year old men category. I look forward to the next race opportunity.

It was a busy day. After the race, we set back out on the Sierra Ora Farm Trail for Day two of gathering goodies. We started out day two by heading off to Lundberg Family Farms, where they sell organic rice. The rice dishes and rice chips were very good, and we wound up snatching up some of their rice mixes and their rice syrup, which can be used as a replacement for molasses in recipes.

Following Lundberg, we headed to Lodestar Farms Olive Oil. Their samplings were also tasty. While we liked their olive oil, we are able to find it in the grocery stores around here, and we knew we would be hitting up another olive oil farm.

Calolea Olive Oil blew Lodestar out of the waters for us. Not only were their samples amazing, but as the second time we’d sampled their products (the first time we tried them was at Hickman Family Farms during the Wine Trail) we thought they were consistently excellent. They have standard oils, but they also have garlic, Meyer lemon, and blood orange flavored oils as well. They make very nice salad dressings and they work well in marinades and stir-fry.

We next headed over to Hickman Family Vineyards. As usual, their tasting was very good. They were debuting the Moscato dessert wine that comes in a growler. It was a cross between a good sweet sherry and a white port/late harvest wine. We also had the opportunity to barrel taste the Malbec and some Petit Syrah that had just been crushed. It’s a real neat experience to taste a developing wine.

Following Hickman, we headed over to Morse Mandarin Farms. While it wasn’t quite Mandarin season, we did taste some of their products including a marinade, and the products were good. We also visited Mount Ida Mandarin Ranch. They had cupcakes, but no mandarins. While we were a bit disappointed by the inability to try out the products at these two farms, it’s understandable since it’s just not the right season.

We then came back down the hill from Oroville and revisited both Emerald C and Mooney Farms. The interesting thing about Emerald C was that the wine did not hold up well after the Hickman’s tasting. It was still very good, it just wasn’t as good as we initially thought. We still wound up grabbing their zinfandel, which was a nice wine.

At the end of the farm trail, we had quite the bounty of goods – all locally grown and produced – to restock a pantry that had gone barren in the discovery of my own food allergy.

Wine Events around the North State

This image shows a red wine glass.

This image shows a red wine glass. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Are you looking for something to do that’s wine related? Are you winery, cellar, or restaurant that would like publicity for its wine events/ If you are interested in having your event featured, please email us at We would like to offer our readers a full list of wine events across the country. The deadline for each month is the last Thursday of the month preceding (i.e November’s deadline will be October 25th and December’s deadline will be November 29th. Please email for information on how YOU can have your wine event featured on Wining Wife today!





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Odyssey Winery and Vineyards

Odyssey Vineyards and Winery

Odyssey Winery and Vineyards held an event featuring wine tasting and jazz music from the Eric Peter Trio. This winery is a hidden jewel located in Chico, California. At the event, there were five wines available for tasting.  All grapes were grown at the Odyssey estate.

The 2008 French Colombard was up first. This wine was light and easy drinking – it was very nice. It had hints of celery and cardamon.

The 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon was very good. Had we not recently purchased bottles of Cabernet, we might have brought this one home. It was oaky and smokey with hints of vanilla, blackberry, cloves, and tobacco.

The 2008 Blush Grenache was very very nice. This was a sweet rosé – it was like orange marmalade on sourdough toast. This was followed by the Late Harvest Symphony. This was very sour and would make a great pairing with a key lime pie or a berry cheesecake. It would be absolutely amazing with creamy deserts. The Zorba Port rounded out the tasting. It was very dark and heavy, and needs to be paired with something dark. This desert wine showed hints of dark chocolate and cherries.

Have you tried an Odyssey wine? What did you think?

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When Going to Wine Tastings Use These Tips


This weekend, my husband and I will be going to the North Sierra Wine Trail tasting circuit. We often go to tastings around town, and one of the cellar is doing a “Tour de France” themed tasting. While we by no means consider ourselves to be “wine snobs,” we have found a few things one can do when it comes to tastings can improve your experience. Here are some wine tasting tips:

  1. Stay Hydrated – Make sure you drink plenty of water the day of the tasting. It also helps to drink water during the tasting so that you can both cleanse your palate and avoid dehydration. This is especially important during the summer.
  2. Keep an Open Mind – Traditionally, I’m not a huge fan of Merlot or chardonnay – both of these can be over-oaked and lose their appeal quickly. However, I’ve had some very, very good Merlots on tastings (Chateau Ste. Michelle’s 2009 Merlot, St. Julien’s 2008 Merlot, others) and some outstanding chardonnay wines (Morgan, Chateau Ste. Michelle, others). If I’d approached the wines thinking that I wouldn’t like them, then I would have missed out on some good wine.
  3. Keep Your Palate Cleansed – Make sure to take advantage of water that’s available between wines. Sometimes a wine’s taste and your palate can be askew when wines combine with one another. By keeping your palate cleansed you can get a more accurate impression of the wine.
  4. Sip-Swill-Smell-Taste – By taking a small sip to begin with, you can warm your palate up to the wine you will be tasting. But don’t judge the wine just yet! Swill the wine in the glass to open it up (bring out the subtleties in flavors). Before you sip, enjoy the nose of the wine. What do you think the wine will taste like? Sometimes you can pick up notes of vanilla other times you can pick up berry notes. Now, you’re ready to taste.
  5. Don’t Be Afraid to Share the Experience – Wine tastings are far more rewarding when you share the experience of the wine. Verbalize what you taste to a friend    or to the sommelier. By sharing your experience with others, you can enhance both your own knowledge of wine and the knowledge of others.
  6. Take Notes – So that you can remember your impressions of the various wines you taste, you will want to take notes. Write whether you like the wine, whether you bought the wine or would like to later purchase the wine, and note any qualities that will stand out (i.e. thoughts about possible pairings, occasions, flavors, etc.) Always have a pen and paper handy for this purpose.
  7. Have Fun! – Don’t take yourself too seriously! Wine should be fun!

What are your favorite wine tasting tips? Leave your comments below!

Here we are, getting ready to taste wines and tour the winery at Chateau Ste. Michelle outside of Seattle, WA.


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Baco Noir – Girardet Wines


Theme Song: The Cat Empire – The Wine Song

Before I launch into the story of the Baco Noir from Girardet Wines that my husband and I enjoyed while visiting in Sutherlin, Oregon, I should explain the changes to this blog. I started Not Quite Ally McBeal a year ago, and thought it would be fun to have a blog where I made snarky comments about life events. It turned out that I wound up using the blog as more of a personal blog and I started talking about daily life, relationships, running, and more. I’ve been wanting to focus this blog more, and I thought to myself, “What better way to focus my blog than on one of my favorite beverages – wine!” So, here we are; welcome to the Wining Wife blog. I’ll review different wines, talk about tastings and winery tours I experience, discuss food, write about relationships and running, and basically have a great time.

Girardet 2009 Baco Noir

While my husband, son, and I were on our family vacation to Seattle, we stopped overnight in Sutherlin, Oregon. While in Sutherlin, we visited a great little restaurant – Pedotti’s Italian Restaurant. They had outstanding food, a great atmosphere, friendly service, and a nice wine list. What made this list unique was a little wine we had not previously encountered – a Baco Noir. My husband and I looked at each other. It was decided, ordering a bottle was a necessity. When the waitress brought us the bottle, and poured the taste, it had a full nose with overtones of espresso and berries. Upon tasting, it was definitely unique. It had that rich flavor one expects from a good-quality red wine. It was decadent with a mocha finish. We were most definitely in love!

Pegasus in front of the White Horse Coffee Company

Upon returning to our hotel room, I looked up the Girardet website. They definitely appeared to be a winery to know and keep track of. We mused more about how we’d never heard of Baco Noir (we both frequent wine tastings), and agreed that we should get a bottle of it should we come across it again. Well, the next morning brought us luck.  I had carefully researched various coffee shops – and found the White Horse Coffee Company. This is a really unique coffee shop, in that there are statues of Pegasus in front of it, and a dragon statue through the drive through. That’s not the only thing that made this shop stand out. It has a Scottish theme, outstanding coffee (it was perhaps the best mocha I’ve had in my life), and the service is friendly. Naturally, the best part of the shop is that it’s locally owned, and it appeared that it served as a local hub for wine lovers. Guess what wine we found stocked by them? That’s right – a bottle of the Girardet Baco Noir. We brought it home and added it to our cellar! (And we highly recommend it!)

Dragon in the drive-through of White Horse Coffee Company


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