Thursday, November 27, 2008

Wine 102-Proper Serving Temperatures

OK. If you passed Wine 101 and know the basics of wine tasting, holding your glass by the stem, swishing, swirling and spitting's now time to get the best taste out of every glass of wine. You simply need to serve your wine at the proper temperature.

If you serve Chardonnay straight out of the frig, it is way to cold. If you live in Phoenix and serve your Cabernet Sauvignon at room temperature your wine is too warm. If you have a basement, that may be the coolest place to store your wines.

If your budget permits, you should look into purchasing a wine refrigerator. We purchased a Haier 42 Bottle unit at Lowes for $249. It has really done wonders for our wines. The unit has two basic temperature settings Red or White. I suggest that you set yours to Red. You can still obtain great control for your white wines if you store them on the bottom shelves.(Remember heat rises!)

If a wine refrigerator is not in your current budget, you may consider purchasing a wine thermometer. They are available at fine wine stores or online at


Champagne, Sparkling or Dessert Wines 42-45*
(Should be as cold as beer!)

Most Whites 42-45*

Rose and Beaujolais 48-52*

Light Reds (Pinot Noir) 54*

Most Reds 59-64*

If you can obtain these serving temperatures, you will notice a mouthful of delicious fruit and flavor!


Saturday, November 15, 2008

Diary of a Grand Vintners Fundraiser Dinner

Bertrand Bouquin, Executive Chef of the Broadmoor Colorado Springs and Chef Paul Schutt of The University of Denver’s HRTM School Photo © 2008 by Christopher J Davies

Once a year, we produce the Grand Vintners Fundraiser Dinner, which is undoubtedly the highest profile event at the annual Denver International Wine Festival.

00% of the net proceeds all revenue generated from this evening will benefit the John S Davies Scholarship Endowment Fund. The scholarship is dedicated to the memory of my Father who was a talented Chef and Hospitality Manager. Dad died tragically at the age of 26 as the result of a car accident.

In it's second year, the John S Davies Scholarship Endowment will directly benefit students of the University of Denver's HRTM School. In 2007, Cristina N.Mariani-May, family proprietor of
Banfi Vintners, generously supported our first Grand Vintners Fundraiser

This year's wine sponsor was Silver Oak Cellars. David Duncan, the President of Silver Oak, is a graduate of DU. So he graciously agreed to provide his wine and himself for this year's dinner. With such a prestigious Napa Cult Cab maker on the roster, I thought it would appropriate to try to elevate the culinary offerings.

Chef Paul Schutt is the HRTM school's Executive Chef. His resume is filed with top haute Denver Restaurants such as Jax Fish House and The Capital Grille. I wondered if he would be open to permitting another chef to collaborate with him on this dinner? It was a touchy subject as I did not want to insult him. When I approached the school and him with this idea, I was surprised at their openness to the concept. Chef Paul, said it would not hurt his ego, in fact he thought that it might be fun!

My first choice was one of my favorite French chefs in the state,
Bertrand Bouquin, Executive Chef of the Broadmoor Colorado Springs. As Chef at The Broadmoor's Mobile 5 Star Summitt Restaurant, Bertrand has a very busy schedule. It was a long shot to ask him, but if he accepted, this could create a good buzz for the dinner. He replied that he liked the idea but needed approval from management.

After about a week of waiting Bertrand's boss, Craig Reed, The F&B Director at The Broadmoor gave his nod of approval! With 60 days to go, all we needed was to taste the wines and create the menu.

Chef Paul and Chef Bertrand met with me at The HRTM School in late August. At 12noon, we were tasting the four wines that Silver Oak Cellars sent us. Sniffing, swirling and tasting these delicious wines spurned a lot of menu ideas. How about Duck with this Merlot, I asked.

Bertrand replied yes...let's make a smoked duck with baby turnips and spinach. This was cool, after having attending attending several hundred Vintner's Dinners, I finally had a chance to put in my two cents on the menu creation!

It took us about an hour to taste the wines and create the preliminary menu. 5 delicious courses with 4 wines!

The Denver International Wine Festival
Grand Vintners Fundraiser, Wednesday October 29, 2008
John S Davies Scholarship Menu

Assortment of Passed Canapés
Covides Gran Gesta Cava Brut Reserve, Penedes Spain

Poached and Smoked Salmon Rillette with Spicy Pear Remoulade
Twomey, Pinot Noir, 2006 Russian River

Spiced Honey Glazed Roasted Duck breast,
Baby turnips and Spinach
Twomey, Merlot, 2005 Napa Valley

Braised Beef Short Ribs with Red Wine, Baby Carrot,
Parsley Mashed Potato
Silver Oak , Cabernet Sauvignon, 2004 Alexander Valley

Assortment of domestic and Imported Cheese
Dry fruit Chutney and Mâche Salad
Silver Oak , Cabernet Sauvignon, 2004 Alexander Valley

Guanaja Chocolate Tartlets with Cabernet Sauvignon Sorbet
Blueberry Coulis
Silver Oak , Cabernet Sauvignon, 2003 Napa Valley

Now that we had killer wines and a foodie lovers menu, we had all the ingredients for a successful Grand Vintner's Fundraiser Dinner, right? I believed so, but we had to make sales. Our capacity for the dinner was 150, so that meant 75 couples or fifteen tables of 10 guests each. With less then 60 days, we had some selling to do!

Check my blog soon for an entry about the actual dinner.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Long Island Wine Country Tour

I was so pleased to host a tour of 37 wine lovers on Saturday. We departed from The Soho Grand Hotel at 8:30AM and picked up guests at Grand Central Station and Long Island. The morning was misty, but as we approached the North Fork things dried out.

Our first stop was Macari Vineyards in Mattituck. This is one of my favorite wineries on Long Island. The Macari's are a great family that produce wonderful wines. Their wines have a great quality to price value. So unlike other LI wineries, I feel these wines compete competently amongst similar priced wines from domestic and international wineries.

According to Joseph Macari SR, the proprietor, the 2008 Harvest was OK and not as fruitful as last year.

We tasted Macari's new Early Chardonnay($16.99), which was made from grapes just picked this September 14th! The wine was crisp and had a powerful scent of ripe apples.

Our second taste was a Cabernet Franc, which is in my opinion one of Long Island's best growing varietals. It has an earthiness that makes it versatile enough to pair with spicy Thai or Mexican dishes.

We were treated to two of Macari's premium wines, the powerhouse Meritage style red, Bergen Road and Block E, a delicious dessert wine that is made under the supervision of Austrian Winemaker Helmut Gangl.

After guests purchased wine for home, we trekked east to Greenport Harbor for lunch at Claudio's restaurant. Bill Claudio met our motor coach in the parking lot. We were lucky to be seated and have placed our lunch orders before a second coach arrived. Claudio's Stuffed Shrimp was delicious. I ordered a glass of Marlborough NZ Sauv Blanc, which tasted like an orgy of citrus.

Our second vineyard was a private estate owned by Theresa Boyle. I am leaving the wine brand out of this blog so that my competitors do not attempt to bring tours to this vineyard. This way I can continue to provide a really exclusive experience for my tour attendees.
Everyone enjoyed Terri's down home and humorous personality. Her wines were also well received.

Number three was Laurel Lake Vineyards. They are Chilean owned and put their soul into making wines with personality. Proprietor Juan Sepulveda has a lot of knowledge. He offered guests a personal tour and tasting.