Merlot has gotten a bad name in recent years and much of that stems from the famous line in the movie, Sideways, "If anyone orders Merlot, I'm leaving". Miles from the movie quite literally changed the popularity of this varietal of wine for millions of American wine drinkers - and indeed created a world-wide impact as well. Merlot isn't that bad but its reputation still suffers in the face of popular red wine alternatives including Cabernet Sauvignon and of course, Pinot Noir.  Let's take a deeper look at merlot and how you can better appreciate it once you get an opportunity to sample it at your favorite winery or wine bar.

Read more ...

I haven't had too many chances to do restaurant features this year but The Gathering Table Restaurant at Ballard Inn, located in California's Santa Ynez Valley was absolutely worth the experience. It goes to show that you can still offer a fine dining experience in a safe way despite challenges from the pandemic. While their outdoor space would normally be more decorative than functional, there's a certain sense of romance to sitting in a garden with a string of lights above you while enjoying fine wine and food on par with anything you could find in Los Angeles.

Read more ...

With cold weather and holiday season upon us, certain drinks such as "cream" spirits are back in stock and that warms my heart. While nobody that I know has managed to create an authentic packaged coquito, I am thrilled to see that Cutwater Spirits is continuing to innovate when it comes to rum cream. 

Read more ...

Bourbon is one of my favorite spirits. This is in large part because of the personalities behind the barrel and how genuine the industry is at the very core. While certainly, the spirits industry as a whole is extremely generous in supporting causes and people, Wild Turkey as a brand has always impressed me with how authentic they are. This includes efforts ranging from simply handing out turkeys to folks so they could have a great holiday meal to larger efforts like this one honoring local legends in Austin, Chicago, Dallas, and New Orleans.

Read more ...

Sometimes you know exactly what you want ... other times you just like to be surprised. That's the principle behind the "Ultimate Foodie Mystery Box" over at Cooking Panda. Frankly it's a bit weird with an eclectic selection of products ranging from pickles to syrup for your coffee to jerky flavors that probably won't ever make it to mass retail distribution. That's the fun of it though.

Read more ...