Monthly Archives: February 2014

Oscar-inspired cocktails at Vanderbilt Grace, Newport, Rhode Island

With the Oscars right around the corner on March 2, Vanderbilt Grace is offering exciting cocktails in honor of the nominated movies. For $14, guests can enjoy cocktails such as Newport Hustle, Captain Morgan Phillips and Dallas Fashion Club. The following cocktails are offered now through March 9, 7 p.m., in the fine dining restaurant, Muse by Jonathan Cartwright:

Zero Gravity (pictured above): 2oz Absolute, 1oz Peach Liquor and 2oz OJ, shaken and strained into a martini glass with grenadine on the bottom and Blue Curacao on the top.

Newport Hustle: 1 Mint Sprig, 1 Lemon Slice, 1 Orange Slice, 1 Cucumber Wheel, Half a Strawberry and 1/2oz Lemon Juice Muddled.  Add Ice, 2oz Pimms and 1/2oz Grand Marnier, Shake and Pour over ice.  Stir in 3 oz Ginger Beer.

Dallas Fashion Club: Muddled Jalapenos & Orange, Chipotle BBQ Bitters and 2oz Whiskey in a rocks glass and garnished with jalapenos and cilantro.

Captain Morgan Phillips: 1.5oz Captain Morgan, 2oz Pineapple Juice, 1/2oz Grand Marnier served on ice in a Collins glass and garnished with lemon and lime wedge

Her OS: 1oz Absolute, 1oz Chambord, Topped with Soda Water in a Collins Glass and Garnished with Raspberries.

Wines to try from the Central Coast, California


I have a lot of respect for the pinot noir grape and for the winemaker who can turn these delicate grapes into a sensational, elegant wine. Edna Valley Vineyard’s 2011 Central Coast Pinot Noir ($20) proves my loyalty. From the opening of the bottle, a first pour brings forth aromatic delights of rose petals and earthy minerality. The smidgen of zinfandel added gives this wine a bit of a spice, adding complexity. Edna Valley Vineyard grapes hail from the Central Coast of California, five miles from the Pacific Ocean in one of the coolest and longest growing seasons in the state. When I served this wine with chicken dinner, I realized it would pair well with almost any entree.

A nice white selection from Edna Valley Vineyard is the 2012 Sauvignon Blanc ($15) made with grapes from the Central Coast of California as well, but in Monterey and San Luis Obispo counties. Like a traditional sauvignon blanc, this wine offers notes of melons, a strong minerality and sweet fruit. It’s full-bodied and has a long finish. Oh, and this is a screw-cap wine, easy to take on the go to serve with brie and bread, chips or any hors d’ouevres.


I shall drink first with my eyes, poring through bottles whose labels range from Chateau d’Esclans‘ Whispering Angel of France, to Bodegas Verum Reserva Familiar 2009 Tempranillo of Spain. I am at the 2014 Boston Wine Expo, in the Vintner’s Reserve Lounge inside the Seaport Hotel’s Plaza Ballroom. This is a separate venue from the Grand Tasting floor of the Expo, in that it is where the cream of the crop awaits my palate. The price points are a bit higher than what is tasted in the Grand Tasting Floor, where I stopped for a taste of Barefoot Bubbly before the 1 p.m. opening of the Vintner’s Reserve Lounge.

Once visually full of my surroundings, which included Scullers Jazz Club playing in the far corner, floral arrangements by Stapleton Floral, Alex and Ani jewelry, the enticement of Celebrity Cruises and Silversea Cruises and S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna hydration, I was ready to taste, taste, taste. And not just fine wine like a 2009 Chateau Corton Grancey of the Cote de Beaune region in the village of Aloxe-Corton ($100/bottle), which makes a phenomenal pinot noir with grapes grown from limestone soil and aged in oak casks, but culinary specialties such as beef wellington of Ruth’s Chris Steak House and prosciutto meatballs of TAMO bar & lounge. In fact, the food rivaled the wines, and, to be honest, overwhelmed me. Where do I begin? When do I break for more food or stop at the cheese table? Sofas are at the ready for some time spent sipping at leisure. And sip I did.

A Louis Latour Marsannay proved worthy, as did an Oregon pinot noir of Winderlea Estate in Dundee Hills. I couldn’t keep up with so many elegant wines to document, so I began using my Vivino app to document the occasion. A L’Abeille de Fieuzal Graves 2011 of Bordeaux caught me by surprise, as did a 2009 Terra Alta Mather Teresina of Spain, a Celler Pinol. I knew I’d love the selection of Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon’s, as I knew I’d adore the Grgich Hills Estate wines.

For the price of $185 on a Sunday afternoon, the Vintner’s Reserve Lounge was well worth the cost for time spent exploring world wines and class A culinary offerings. And with the ticket price, you get access to the Grand Tasting as well.

Bigger, better, bolder than ever: Boston Wine Expo 2014


Twenty three years ago, the Boston Wine Expo began at the Boston Harbor Hotel with the intent to educate the next generation of wine consumers. One of the country’s biggest and most respected celebrations of wine, food and culture, The Boston Wine Expo, will take place at The Seaport Hotel & World Trade Center on Feb. 15 &16, from 1-5 p.m., where almost every major wine producing area is going to be represented.

One overlooked aspect of The Boston Wine Expo is the charity component. The Boston guild has distributed, in total, $1.2 million. The largest single component goes to New England (Tufts) Medical Summer Camp for Children and three community health centers. Each year, the guild sends 225 children to summer camp, thanks to The Boston Wine Expo.

General Admission tickets prices are as follows: Saturday: $95 per person; Sunday: $85 per person; Weekend Pass: $145 per person. General admission tickets include entry, a Boston Wine Expo souvenir glass to taste wine samples from over 300 wine producers, complimentary food samples from scores of providers and access to live cooking demonstrations.

VIP Experience ticket prices are as follows: Saturday: $145 per person; Sunday: $135 per person; Weekend Pass: $145 per person. VIP Experience tickets include immediate entry through the VIP entrance, a welcome champagne toast, complimentary private coat check, access to the VIP lounge, an upgraded Boston Wine Expo souvenir glass to taste wine samples from over 300 wine producers, complimentary food samples from scores of providers and access to live cooking demonstrations.

For those looking to take the elevator home after a long day of sipping, there are exclusively priced accommodations available at the Seaport Hotel (Friday & Saturday: $225 per night; Sunday: $185 per night).

Growing up Gallo

As heiress to the Gallo Empire, Gina Gallo hopped on a plane last year for the Boston Wine Expo 2013 to promote all sips Gallo. The night prior to the BWE, I was fortunate to enjoy a private dinner with Gina at Forum, located on Boylston St. in Boston. What I discovered about Gina is that she’s an open book: down-to-earth, approachable and interesting beyond her fabulous wine stories. And she isn’t tainted by fame and fortune; in fact, she says growing up on a vineyard was much like growing up as a farm girl, and that’s her personality in a nutshell: farm girl meets fine palate.

Here are 7 things you may not know about Gina Gallo, and 3 bottles of Gallo signature wines to sip:

#1 – She has 7 siblings and her brother takes care of the bottling segment of the company.

#2 – She doesn’t have a television set in her Napa, California home, and doesn’t care — with the exception of President Obama’s inauguration. She wanted to watch this coverage, and did so on her laptop computer.

#3 – She enjoys live theater whenever she can steal away from the business and her twin toddlers, and whenever a show is within reach. As she explains the thrill of theater, she spends several minutes amusing herself in trying to recall the name of the show that sent her in stitches – about an Irish Jew – or was it an Irish Italian? She can’t remember, but remembers loving the performance.

#4 – She believes the Portuguese language to be the most beautiful. And although she is married to Frenchman, Jean-Charles Boisset, she doesn’t speak fluent French. With twin daughters who will surely be raised in both languages, she knows learning more French is mandatory.

#5 – She has to work out by noontime, or she won’t. Participating in sports is what keeps her in shape, and she loves waterskiing, swimming and surfing.

#6 – She’s open to several culinary specialties, but she won’t eat gizzards (sorry, Anthony Bourdain!).

#7 – She has never been in a hot air balloon, but once jumped out of a plane on a dare to skydive.

#8 – Gallo Signature Series 2011 Russian River Valley Chardonnay ($30) has a bouquet of Burgundy, yet is a California wine crafted by the legendary Gallo family. Flavors of crisp apple, lemon meringue and ginger tease the palate as grapes from Laguna Ranch, Del Rio Vineyard and the Russian River Valley orchestrate this exceptional white wine.

#9 – Gallo Signature Series 2011 Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir ($35) is so tasty on its own. You may be selfish and hoard this bottle to enjoy over the course of a few evenings. I know I did. And I don’t regret a sip. This pinot noir comes from grapes grown on Olson Ranch Vineyard of Santa Lucia Highlands.

#10 – Gallo Signature Series 2010 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($40) was first served with a filet mignon topped with crabmeat and blue cheese. Hey, for a very special cabernet, you must enjoy a special meal, right? This wine’s flavor profile is of a chocolate milkshake with black cherry and currants, a hint of vanilla. A drop of petit verdot shakes up the taste a bit.


At the Boston Wine Expo 2014:  Gallo Signature Series

Booth/Table: 640

The Gallo Signature Series honors the journey the Gallo family started in 1933, and it celebrates how far the family has come. With some of California’s best grapes at her fingertips, third-generation winemaker, Gina Gallo, has created three distinct wines that could only be crafted from the Gallo family’s unique combination of vineyards. For Gina, the Gallo Signature Series expresses her family’s passion for great vineyards and great wine, and it reflects the best the Gallo Winery has to offer. The Gallo Signature Series marks a return to hands-on, artisanal winemaking for Gina, and it brings to life the enduring legacy of Ernest and Julio Gallo.