The Spanish Table – Helpful Service and Great Wine Selection

I wanted to continue my way through Spain the correct way (with good wine and food) – so, I headed down to The Spanish Table near the Pike Place Market.  I knew they would have a good selection of wine and give me inspiration.

spanish table sign

I did my research before I went to the store.  I looked at their wine selection online and crossed referenced my Wine Bible (by Karen MacNeil) and Complete Wine Course (by Kevin Zraly), creating a list of options for the Priorat, Jerez and Rueda regions.

The clerk (the owner or manager maybe) was super helpful, steering me in the right direction and recommending some good wines.

I ended up with the following selections:

  • Javier Sanz Villa Narcisa (Rueda)
  • La Cartuja Priorat 2011(Priorat)
  • Hidalgo Cream Alameda (Jerez)

I also ended up with a really cool re-usable wine bag.

wine bag

It was truly inspirational to be around all kinds of Spanish wines, foods and products.  It got my brain working, trying to think of which foods to pair with my wines.  The store was great!

Currently, I am thinking something with shrimp, maybe something with chorizo and I am not sure….looks like I have some research to do.

The Spanish Table also has a selection of Portuguese, Argentinian and Greek wines, so I will be back as I continue my adventure.

Thank you Spanish Table for a great shopping experience.

spanish table flag



Taking a Virtual Around the World Trip and Wine Tour

My commute sometimes consists of a ferry ride across the Puget Sound, and there is something about being on the water that is inspiring.  As I was walking along the dock one glorious, sunny evening, I decided I should add “a trip around the world” to my bucket list. I have the travel bug often, and dream of the days when I can travel to exotic beaches and far away places.

And that it when it hit me – I could take my trip now, a “virtual” trip.  And better yet, I could incorporate wine, and learn about different wine regions and countries.

I called my brother, Seth, since he has a vast knowledge of the different wine regions,and he was game for joining the adventure.  We mapped out our dream wine tour, starting in the “Old World” and ending in the “New World”.  We decided the best route would be to start in England (inspired by the Olympics) and then go through the Mediterranean onto Australia and South America before heading to Canada and then back to the U.S.

To be honest, I am not a huge fan of cold weather, so my goal is for us to visit the warmer regions during the winter.  That way, I can dream of sunshine and beaches while it is raining outside.

Another great thing about going around the world – all the food!  I very much enjoy eating, so I am going to try and pair wines with the food of each destination. I would not consider myself a chef, but a mere cook, so my family better get ready for some interesting, fun and adventurous meals.

There are some challenges to our trip around the world though – not all wines from other countries are available in the U.S.  So, for those countries, Seth and I will probably just write about that region.  And of course, I will make the appropriate dishes and try to find a comparable wine to enjoy with my meal.

I am also going to be heading down to Northern California in early February, so my hope is that my travels through the U.S. will intersect with my real trip to Napa. If that happens to be a touch ambitious, then I will just have to take a quick break from my trip and head for my Napa vacation =  Winery tour, anyone?

Here is an outline of our trip:

  1. England
  2. France
  3. Spain
  4. Island of Sardinia
  5. Island of Corsica
  6. Italy
  7. Germany
  8. Balkans
  9. Greece
  10. Turkey
  11. Israel
  12. Russia
  13. Georgia
  14. South Africa
  15. Australia
  16. New Zealand
  17. Chile
  18. Argentina
  19. Peru
  20. Uruguay
  21. Ontario
  22. British Columbia
  23. USA

This is going to be a full trip!  I would love to hear any recommendations, your favorite wines or favorite foods from these regions.  I also hope you all enjoy coming along with me!  The more the merrier!

Cheers!  er…Bon Voyage!

Winery Advertising, Social Media and the FTC

The FTC has decided to review its policy in regards to alcoholic beverage company advertising and social media.  OK, makes sense – I am sure it is antiquated, as-are most government policies and regulations.

However, it looks like the government may be taking it a bit too far – in an article by Michael Doyle, published in the Kansas City Star – US to Review Online Marketing of Beer, Liquor and Wine, the FTC is requesting advertising data, including tweets and Facebook posts, from large alcoholic beverage companies:

In an ambitious venture, the Federal Trade Commission is requiring 14 major alcoholic beverage producers to release information about their Internet and digital marketing efforts. The parent companies for storied wineries including Kendall-Jackson, Robert Mondavi and Beaulieu Vineyard, as well as the likes of Anheuser-Busch and Bacardi, are all being tapped for precious data likely to shape future advertising rules.

I do understand that it is necessary to make sure all products are represented accurately and that alcoholic beverages are not being advertised to minors. I get it, I have a young child.  But I have to agree with the Steve Heimoff, and his article – Federal Trade Comish to Demand Winery Tweets? Don’t let it happen:

People under 21 (and I think the legal drinking age should be the same as the age to serve in the armed forces, 18) will do what they do: smoke pot, drink beer, whatever. And people will certainly say whatever they want on social media: that is social media’s DNA. The government can’t stop it, certainly not by spying on winery tweets.

Honestly, the wine industry does not have much to worry about.  Wine is not the alcoholic beverage of choice for tweens, teens and even college students – enter Mike’s Hard Lemonade, beer and the wonders of things such as Four Loko. So while this does pose some challenges to wineries, summarized nicely by Vintank’s article – Nothing Like a Good FTC Probe to Bring Another Headache to Wineries, I really don’t see too much of a shift in how wineries are interacting with consumers.

The advertising and social media interaction I have seen with various wineries has all been age appropriate and mostly educational.  <rant>I don’t think the government needs to worry about tweets that discuss wine pairings, a 16 year-old isn’t going to worry about which wine would go well with her Cheetos. And how often to you get a group of teens approaching you in a parking lot asking if you will buy wine for them…isn’t it normally beer?

And Big Brother – some food for thought – drug dealers, pushers – they aren’t opening Facebook pages and LinkedIn groups to push sales on dime bags, yet their business is booming.  So maybe, just maybe, think about focusing your efforts (albeit the best of intentions) somewhere else.</rant>

Wine Tasting Experts vs the Average Wine Consumer – Is there Hope for the Rest of Us?

There has been quite a bit of discussion surrounding (and bashing) wine experts. There is a feeling of hostility towards the experts, and I am sure there is a suspicion that these experts are being bought off by wineries, especially the more expensive ones.

I am neutral when it comes to this issue.  Maybe it is because I am new to the wine industry and a touch naive. Or maybe it is that I am not put off by an “expert” of any kind.  In my humble opinion, there has to be an expert on basically everything.  Someone who has spent a majority of their time living, breathing, researching and learning about a specific subject or item.  Right?

I came across an article by Tyler Colman, author of Dr. Vino’s Wine Blog.  In his article, he references an article done by Matt Swayne which basically states that the wine experts are “super tasters,” making them just a little bit better than the rest of us.  I like Tyler Colman’s view on all of the chatter surrounding wine experts:

So, yes, there may be biological differences in tasting ability. But in this nature-versus-nurture discussion, I vote for nurture as being more influential: it’s the catalogue of knowledge and tasting references, the experiences with wines in the glass, that make most of the great tasters I know really good. Also, many wine experts are self-styled and have varying capabilities, so I am skeptical there’s a genetic explanation for superior wine tasting ability.

So why should I care about all this?  Because if it is more of a nurture-vs-nature thing, then maybe, just maybe, I can be an expert too.  And while I may never be a world-renowned, much sought after expert, I can at least been an expert in my circle and be able to recommend a good bottle of wine every now and then. There is hope for the rest of us.