Tasting Wine History – Chateau Montelena and Seghesio Featured at SSU WineSense Club

photo-2 copyContributed by Erica Schreckenghaust – There was a great sense of excitement for our second Wine Sense Club meeting of the year, featuring Seghesio Family Vineyards and Chateau Montelena Winery. Fifty-two Millennial SSU students attended, and some had to be turned away because the room was at capacity for this taste of wine history.

Seghesio Family Winery

homeranch_webthumb_newSeghesio, established in 1895, in the Alexander Valley, is considered to be one of the historic wineries of Sonoma County.  Hospitality manager, Beau, offered a variety of wines including a 2011 Sangiovese, 2012 Barbera and three different Zinfandels. The students voted on their favorite wine, which turned out to be the Seghesio Home Ranch Zinfandel from Alexander Valley. Some of the vines from this vineyard are over 100 years old.  A second favorite was the Seghesio Old Vine Zinfandel, made from older zinfandel vines sourced from across Sonoma County.

Chateau Montelena

MontelenaEstablished in 1882, Chateau Montelena is one of the oldest wineries in the Napa Valley.  It is also famous for producing the chardonnay wine that won in the Judgment of Paris, where it beat out world renown white Burgundies in a blind taste test. Hospitality manager, Katie, showcased five spectacular wines from Chateau Montelena. These included a 2013 Sauvignon Blanc, 2013 Riesling, 2012 Chardonnay, 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon and finally, a 2009 Petite Syrah. The top two favorites from this bunch were the Chateau Montelena Petite Syrah and Chardonnay.

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Favorite Wine Tasting Experience at Domaine Carneros

MerihaContributed by Meriha Eby – My favorite wine tasting experience was at Domaine Carneros.  It was  for my 23rd birthday. The reason I chose this place was because my favorite wine is sparkling wine and that is what they specialize in. Also I love the location and how beautiful the scenery is.

I had my closest friends and family and my boyfriend come and it was perfect. We sat on the outside terrace so we could see all the gorgeous vineyards surrounding us. My favorite sparkling wine from there was the Blanc De Noir.  They usually sell out of this product and have limited stock of it but because they are one of my employers clients we were able to get a bottle.

We also got a “Sparkling Cheese plate” which had some goats milk gouda that went really well with the wines we were tasting. It had other cheeses that were delicious as well but I forget what kind they were. The gouda was my favorite.  Our server was wonderful, she was highly knowledgeable about the wine and the history of Domaine Carneros and it was very entertaining listening to what she had to say.

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Three Perfect Places to Have a Wine Tasting Party

Contributed by Nicole Nowlen

Wine tasting has been a favored activity of those who love this elegant beverage since time immemorial, and can be a great reason to get friends together and impress them with your knowledge of fine wines. No matter where you hold such an event wine-tasting will bring an air of sophistication to the proceedings, and serves as a wonderful excuse to share your favorite vintages or to introduce new wines to your repertoire. Where you hold your wine-tasting can be just as important as what types of wine you bring, and the two can serve to complement each other well.

Summer White Wines in the Garden

garden.jpegAn outdoor setting, ideally a garden, is a great place to savor the best of spring wines, from a flavorful rose wine to the rich yellow-gold of certain white wines. The wonderful aromatics of these wines will serve to accent the fresh crispness of the air and the hint of flowers in bloom. There are few better ways to celebrate the this time of of the year than with an outdoor wine tasting, sampling the best of mother nature’s bounty during this season of promise.

Autumn Wines in the Vineyard

autumnFall wines are excellent served around the sultry wood-smoke smell of a burning fireplace while gathered close with family and friends and accompanied by the best of the season’s cheeses. Wines like the Alsatian Riesling stand apart from their contemporaries by not having the sweetness so common to Rieslings, but instead bring a full-bodied dryness with the flavors of apricot and peach reminiscent of the season. The Burgundy Pinot Noir can be another excellent choice, it’s pedigree coming from a region known for its wine as far back as 200 A.D. The mix of summers strawberries with the fall-ripened cranberries create a wonderful palette perfectly suited to the season.

Winter with Wines in the Conservatory 

ConservatoryThere is nothing like the beauty of winter snow to herald in feelings of family, and bringing that family together with a wine-tasting in your very own conservatory can bring together the warmth of home with the stark beauty of a snow covered world. Conservatories are excellent at retaining warmth, while being walled with glass that brings the outdoors in. A candle-lit wine-tasting will fill the windows with sparkling jewels of flame, and impart a cozy warmth to the scene. Mulled red wines are excellent for the season, the savory warmth of the mulling spices mixed with the raisins’ sweetness is perfectly suited to a cold winter’s gathering. Slices of orange, splashes of brandy or cognac and many others will lend each cup a distinctive flavor.



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Wine: As Wonderful for your Kidneys as for Your Heart?

320px-Red_Wine_GlasContributed by Jenni Phelps: The fact that wine promotes cardiovascular health has long been espoused by scientists, but exciting news suggests that wine may also be linked to healthier kidneys.  A study carried out by Dr. Tapan Mehta and his team at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Centre, in Aurora, has shown that those with healthy kidneys who consumed a moderate amount of wine per day (in the region of 4 ounces) had a 37 per cent lower likelihood of developing chronic kidney disease. Additionally, those who already had kidney disease who drank the same amount per day had a 29 per cent lower likelihood of suffering from cardiovascular events. The scientists came to these conclusions after analysing data obtained over three years as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a yearly study carried out by the National Center for Health Statistics. The data was obtained from over 5,800 Americans, over 1,000 of which had chronic kidney disease (CKD).

The Crucial Link Between the Heart and Kidneys

Approximately 26 million Americans suffer from chronic kidney disease, defined by the National Kidney Foundation as “a gradual loss of kidney function over time”.

The risk factors for kidney disease are, interestingly, strikingly similar to those for heart disease. They include: smoking, obesity, high cholesterol levels, and high blood pressure. As Dr. Mehta told Wine Spectator, “Apparently, nobody has looked at this before. But in the general population, the common risk factors (for kidney and heart disease) were so similar that we were led to hypothesize that wine intake would also lower cardiovascular disease risk in patients who have kidney disease.” Suffering from chronic kidney disease greatly increases one’s chances of suffering from cardiovascular disease. Indeed, the latter is the leading cause of death for all people suffering from CKD. The aim of Dr. Mehta’s study, therefore, was to glean whether or note moderate drinking could lower the chance of cardiovascular diseases in CKD patients, and whether it could promote kidney health in the population at general. His findings are promising indeed for all drinkers of wine, though the key is moderation; not only can excess amounts o wine reverse its beneficial effects, it can also cause issues such as addiction, which carries a whole new set of health risks for consumers. Moreover, rehabilitation can be a lengthy and challenging process. As treatmentforaddiction.com notes, “detoxification may be a medical necessity, and untreated withdrawal may be medically dangerous or even fatal.”

The Mystery of Wine

The reasons why a moderate consumption of wine are linked to greater kidney health is as yet unknown. Dr. Mehta suspects that it may have something to do with the fact that moderate consumers of wine tend to have lower protein levels in their urine. On the other hand, as kidney disease progresses, levels of protein in the urine tend to increase. Another secret may lie in the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of resveratrol.

Red or White? Does it Matter?

Further studies need to be carried out in order to establish maximum amounts of wine to be consumed to obtain maximum benefits. Additionally, the question of whether white wine has the same beneficial effect on the kidneys as red wine, remains to be seen, since the subjects of the study were not asked to identify which type of wine they drank. Dr. Mehta logically believes that red wine would likely hold more beneficial effects than white, bearing in mind its high resveratrol content. Various studies have linked the consumption of resveratrol to cancer protection, cardiovascular health, longer lifespans and even the ability to keep vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s disease at bay. As Harvard University notes, “Exactly how resveratrol might do all this is still a mystery. One possibility is that it turns on genes that make sirtuins, ancient proteins found in virtually all species. Activating sirtuins kicks off a response that fights disease and prolongs life.” In addition to red wine, resveratrol can also be found in red grapes, blueberries and pistachios, so make sure to stock up on these healthy snacks while enjoying your daily glass of wine!

Future Testing

Excited by their results, Dr. Mehta and team are planning to immerse themselves in experimental studies (in vitro and in vivo) soon, to glean more information on the connection between wine consumption and kidney health, and the causes of the promising results thus obtained.

About the Author: Jenni Phelps is a former nutrition and health worker who believes in balance and moderation in all things, after working for many years in social care helping families make the right dietary and health choices, she turned her attention to freelance writing and now divides her time between penning articles and looking after the health of her own family!

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My First Wine Experience in the Gardens of Ferrari Carano

Gardens of Ferrari Carano

Gardens of Ferrari Carano

Contributed by Araceli Campos – I wasn’t introduced to wine until I immigrated to the United States. I was born and raised in Michoacán Mexico until I was 10 years old. Mexico is not known for producing much wine, though they do make it in the Baja Peninsula. Therefore, I had never seen a bottle of wine before – even though my dad worked in the vineyards of California. It wasn’t until I arrived in the US that I started seeing wine on the shelves in grocery stores, at special events, and holiday gatherings where some of my relatives drank wine.

When I was 11 my dad took us to the Ferrari Carano Winery (http://www.ferrari-carano.com/) where he worked. We visited the gardens first, and they were so beautiful, filled with colorful flowers and fountains. Then we went inside the winery to where they have the barrels and it all seemed very nice to me. I liked the smell of the barrel room.

As the years passed I would occasionally see my mom and dad drink wine. Finally the day arrived when I was old enough to taste wine. It was at a New Year’s Day family gathering in the Alexander Valley, and of course, the wine was a Ferrari Carano Chardonnay. It was delicious, and the thought of the hard work my dad put into the production of that wine made it even taste better!

I still feel that I have much more to learn about the wine industry and wines in general. I like the history behind it, the way it makes people feel important and sophisticated, the whole process of making wine , and the great amount of knowledge that is required to build a career within the wine industry. This is the beginning of my wine journey and I am looking forward to trying new wines and practicing my tasting skills so that someday I can blind test and know exactly what the grape varietals are.

Blog Master Note: Araceli is currently studying for her Bachelor of Science degree in Wine Business and Accounting at Sonoma State University.

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Three Fun Facts to Pair Dessert and Wine

Wine Pairing Guide

Wine Pairing Guide

Contributed by Bryan Vu – Pairing wine with dessert isn’t always easy, and often the task can seem daunting. However Shari’s Berries has put together a handy little guide to make pairing desserts with wines a little bit easier. The task of choosing a matching wine for dessert can be daunting for a person if they don’t really know where to start. The chart helps to demystify the process:  http://www.berries.com/blog/dessert-alcohol-pairing-guide

3 Important Fact When Pairing Dessert and Wine

How did these pairings come about? The key to a great pairing is not necessarily how similar the two flavors are, but how well they play together. There are 3 important factors into consideration:

1) Sweetness, 2) acidity, and 3) flavor.

For example, while a sweet red with hints of berries might taste great with a milk chocolate dessert, a better match for a dry red would be with the more bitter dark chocolate, so the berry and chocolate flavors are allowed to mingle without the overpowering sweetness of milk chocolate. Or try a crisp, acidic white with some oak to pair with a cream based treat to let the vanilla and oak flavors come together, while the crispness of the wine cleanses the palette for your next bite.

Of course, many of these pairings can be swapped, as long you keep the 3 factors in mind. If you happen to have a Pinot Noir with a bit of oak, it might also work wonderfully with peaches and cream. Or perhaps a fruitier Chardonnay with Raspberry Tart. Every set of taste buds is different, and this guide is by no means set in stone, but we hope it will help you find better pairings and have great tasting meals!

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The Joys of Dessert Wine – 3 Great Choices for Under $20

Dessert Wines for the HolidaysContributed by Nicole Nowlen – There is a scene that appears frequently in movies, books, or even just the homes of wine connoisseurs we know and love. You can picture it, the imbiber curled up in a chair with a blanket and a pleasant book, perhaps even the ubiquitous cat purring on their lap. Upon their nose is perched a pair of reading glasses, brought out only for these moments of quiet consumption of literature. Perched on the table next to them is a somewhat diminutive wine-glass filled with a rich, almost viscous liquid.   At moments spaced by the beat of interest the reader has in the book, it rises to their lips, and a slow luxurious consumption takes place. Just a sip, followed by a moment of pure relish before they set the glass back upon the counter and return to their reading.

What is this mysterious substance that our reader consumes with such reverence? Why is it only something brought out for truly special occasions, such as a quiet evening with a book? (If this doesn’t strike you as a special occasion, you underestimate the gravity and pleasure of a good book.) More often than not, what you are viewing is a moment’s luxurious passion shared with a rich, sweet, flavorful dessert wines. They hold a special place in the heart of a wine lover, as often shared as part of an intimate conversation between friends after a fine meal, as in private moments like those above. Despite their association with luxury, they don’t have to be expensive, and I’d like to provide you with a small sampling of which dessert wines will fit your palette and your budget for under $20.

W & J Graham’s Fine Ruby Port 

Graham's Port

Graham’s Port

Red Ports are known for being rich flavorful blends that are full of subtle undertones of luxury and hedonism.   One of the most unusual aspects of a port is that the winemakers themselves may remain blissfully unaware of what’s actually growing in their vineyards. This doesn’t mean the flavor isn’t consistent, but more that the particularly subtle nuances of what the grape is and what its heritage is have been lost to the mists of time. What you can be certain of is that this vintage will bring a fine dance to the table, a mixture of bold strokes of flavor spun off with elegant refinery in its finish. The one thing that stands true about a Port in all cases, as a dessert wine it won’t lead you astray.

2008 Quady Winery Elysium Black Muscat Dessert Wine

This wine is made from an exotic little grape known as the Muscat Hamburg, this grape has a dark black color to its skin that doesn’t bring its powerful color to the wine. Instead dusting the result with a blush or rose colored tint that is pleasing to the eye. These grapes are primarily grown in the California wine region, and are thus part of the ever increasingly popular vintages that come from that region. The delightful spread of flavors that appears in this bottle is not to be underestimated, you will find it packed with boysenberry, buttery apricot, while travelling through your palette with hints of herbs and spices, and ending on a delightful almond crème brulee note.

Bonny Doon Framboise Raspberry Eau de Vie

By far the priciest of the wines on this list, it comes with an experience that is worth every penny of its nearly $20 price tag.The name Eau-de-Vie means “Water of Life” in French, and is the designation for a variety of fruit-based distilled wines. While Bonny Doon may use a French blend of grapes for its wines, it called California home. The brusque flavor of this wine will flow across your palette in a veritable delight of raspberry essence swirled with a dusting of chocolate flavor. All in all it may very well be the perfect dessert wine.

Ending the Evening With a Lovely Glass of Dessert Wine

To the true connoisseur there is little as pleasant as a small glass of dessert wine to end the night. Something about its flavor just rounds out the day and leaves you relaxed and ready to doze off into a pleasantly contented sleep. For those with a flair for the dramatic, you could always have your own labels printed to express your personality both in your choice of drink, and how you present it and add your own bit of charm to an already lovely wine!

About the Author: Nicole Nowlen is a full-time businesswoman and DIY enthusiast.
Living in old London town, but with a burning desire to go everywhere and see everything!
She can be contacted at http://nicolenowlen.com/ or Twitter @nicolenowlen87


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