Monthly Archives: December 2013

On a white wine bender


One of my top favorite red varietals is pinot noir, which MacMurray Ranch does quite well. Their 2010 Russian River Valley Sonoma County pinot noir ($27) is nice, but a bit too much acidity for my palate. The growing season for 2010 was met with challenges of record-breaking low temperatures in spring, and then lots of rain — leading to late bud break and more acidity in the grapes. It works if paired with the right dishes, such as bacon-wrapped double cut pork chop, a recipe courtesy of MacMurray Ranch.

But what really caught my palate in a pleasurable taste sensation was MacMurray Ranch chardonnay ($20), a 2011 made with grapes from the Russian River Valley in Sonoma County, California. This cool climate varietal is perfection in a glass, aged in a mixture of new and used French, European and American oak barrels at medium-plus toast levels. With this chardonnay, I enjoyed dinner of lobster ravioli covered in Parmesan cheese, lemon, butter, wine and garlic sauce.

Now I wanted to explore more white wines. So I did.

A Mirassou 2012 sauvignon blanc ($12) proved luxurious, a wine you can choose to drink on its own or paired with appetizers. I chose to offer it alone as a welcome sip to arriving dinner guests. This gave a feel of high society somehow — to simply sip and greet guests. Once the appetizers were brought to the table, the wine remained loyal in taste. Perhaps it’s the Meyer lemon aroma, but it seemed the perfect wine to cleanse our palates before the main course.

On a separate occasion I opened a bottle of 2012 Mirassou moscato ($12) made with California grapes — 35 percent from San Luis Obispo County — a destination I have yet to taste my way through. When I first sipped this wine, I craved brie cheese. But I didn’t have any, but I did have an event to attend — a lobster festival of fresh steamed lobsters and clam chowder. This sweet wine is best served with friends.

Finally, I opened a 2012 Mirassou riesling ($12), a fruity concoction made with grapes from the Central Coast and Russian River Valley in California. Now, I am not the biggest fan of riesling, especially when it comes to the acidity. But this riesling was quite enjoyable two nights in a row. The first night, I enjoyed a glass with dinner of organic chicken pie, applesauce and Brussels sprouts. The next night, I enjoyed the remainder with a friend, dipping chips in a cheesy sour cream dip before dinner of creole shrimp and sweet potato grits. We both agreed this was a stand-up riesling.

Will my feast on fine white wines continue for a while? Probably. In fact, with Champagne season fast approaching — holiday parties and New Year’s Eve on the horizon, it’s a safe bet.

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Après skate cocktails at Charles Hotel, Cambridge

On Sunday, Dec. 15, The Charles Hotel welcomes the Cambridge, Massachusetts community to celebrate the opening of The Rink at The Charles Hotel. This annual community event is open to the public and offers complimentary ice skating and skate rentals from noon to 6 p.m., with performances from the Harvard Figure Skating Club and complimentary hot chocolate. Little ones can enjoy a Kids’ Activity Room including cookie decorating from noon to 3 p.m.


The 2,900 square-foot Rink at The Charles remains open until March 16 (open/close dates are weather permitting). Hours are 4-7 p.m. Monday-Friday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekends/holidays. Rental Rates: Child/$3, Adult/$5, Family/$10. Skating Admission: Child/$3, Adult/$5, Family/$10. Child rate for under 12; family rate for 2 adults/2 children. Season passes and multi-day passes are available to enjoy ice skating all through the winter months.

The new specialty “Après Skate” cocktails are available in Noir cocktail lounge nightly from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. These cocktails were created by Noir General Manager Archie Almodovar. Each cocktail is $11.

Try “The Iron Lotus” — Dewar’s Scotch, Caramel syrup, Hot water, and a splash of fresh lemon juice, or “Chazz Michael Michael” — Stoli Vanil vodka, Frangelico, Amaretto, hot chocolate, topped with marshmallow.