Wines of the Week: 4 Wine Myths DEBUNKED!

Hello, Wine Lovers! My Facebook LIVE “Wines of the Week” series continues with today’s show on Debunking Wine Myths. But these aren’t just any wine myths. These are especially persistent ones that, despite the plethora of wine information out there, continue to circulate. In fact, I’ve heard ALL of today’s featured myths in just the past few months. So I’m very happy to put them to bed once and for all BUT I really need YOUR help to do this.

One of my goals with this show as well as my blog, wine tasting events, podcast and upcoming wine course (more on that later) is to help you empower your palate and become a more confident wine lover. This includes helping to debunk vinous falsehoods by simply sharing what you know in a non-wine snobbish way. So for that reason, I hope you enjoy today’s show and feel empowered to help defeat these myths once and for all next time you hear them.



1.) Bera Brachetto Piemonte, Piedmont, Italy ($16)  OR Banfi Rosa Regale Brachetto, Piedmont, Italy ($19)

2.) Sartori di Verona Ferdi Bianco, Veneto, Italy ($18)

3.) Domaine Barons de Rothschild Legende Bordeaux, Bordeaux, France ($18)

4.) L’Ecole 41 Merlot, Columbia Valley, Washington ($24)


Wines of the Week: Wine Collecting 101

– Episodes that mention delicious Dessert Wines: Valentine’s Day Aphrodisiac Wines, Valentine’s Day Wine + Chocolate Pairings, + Wine Collecting 101.

– Recommended Glassware (1) Riedel Wine Glasses, (2) The One Wine Glasses by Master Sommelier Andrea Immer Robinson, & (3) Zalto Denk’Art Wine Glasses

I hope you enjoyed today’s episode of Wines of the Week featuring the systematic debunking of some Common Wine Myths! If there’s any wine myths YOU would like to see debunked please feel free to share them in the comments section below and to view previous episodes of Wines of the Week, please click here.


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Wines of the Week: Aphrodisiac Wines for Valentine’s Day

Hello, Wine Lovers! My Facebook LIVE “Wines of the Week” series continues with a timely episode featuring Aphrodisiac Wines just in time for Valentine’s Day. As lovers of wine (and each other) why not incorporate both during this most romantic holiday to heighten the mood for l’amour?

Research has shown that red wines rule as far as increasing arousal so today’s selections feature various incarnations of red wine including sparkling, still and fortified. And while 1-2 glasses has found to optimally enhance desire, too much more than that can have the adverse effect, leaving your romantic encounter, um, LESS than satisfying.


TODAY’S FEATURED WINES ( to purchase any of these selections through, simply click the name of the wine):

1.) Moët & Chandon Moet Rosé Imperial, Champagne, France ($60)

2.) Domaines Barons de Rothschild Légende Médoc, Bordeaux, France ($28)

3.) Domaines Barons de Rothschild Légende Pauillac, Bordeaux, France ($50)

4.) Ramos Pinto Quinta do Bom Retiro 20 year Tawny Port, Douro, Portugal ($75)


– Don’t miss my Glamorous Valentine’s Giveaway featuring a beautiful bottle of Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé Champagne – a $100 value! Entering is SUPER easy and I’ll be drawing a winner Sunday 2/11 at 6pm EST and announcing it on my Facebook Page.

– I’ve got TWO delicious Valentine’s Day menus here on the GG (1) Steak a Poivre a Deux with Roasted Rosemary Garlic Potatoes and (2) Mustard Roasted Fish with Roasted Vegetables + Coeur à la Crème with Raspberries for Dessert!

– For more information on Fortified Wine like the Port mentioned in today’s show, please click here.

I hope you enjoy the Aphrodisiac Wines mentioned in today’s episode of “Wines of the Week” and I’d like to wish you all a very Happy and Delicious Valentine’s Day,

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Wine Country Baking: Canelés (Cannelés) de Bordeaux

I’m NO baker – but I do LOVE wine! So any recipe I discover that’s even remotely related to wine…well, I feel a responsibility to explore it further. Especially when it looks outrageously delicious!

Such was the case with the Canelé, a delightful French pastry known for its mahogany, burnt sugar crust and contrasting decadent, custardy center. Typically flavored with rum and vanilla, these beauties are baked in a special Canelé mold to achieve their hallmark striated, cylindrical shape.

Are you wondering where the wine comes in yet?

The Canelé originated in Bordeaux, a region many wine lovers adore due to its legendary full-bodied, age worthy red wines. Well, critical to the production of these wines is a process called “fining” in which a compound, usually egg whites, is added to the wine which binds to any potentially harmful chemicals. To get geeky, the positively charged albumin in the egg whites binds to negatively charged, undesirable polyphenols in the wine which then congeal and settle to the bottom of the barrel where they can be easily removed.


Since only the egg whites are used to “fine” the wine, the Canelé was born as a way to utilize all the leftover yolks. And personally, I can’t think of a better place for them than the delightfully eggy, dense custard center of these glorious pastries!

On our first visit to Bordeaux we noticed Canelés everywhere, usually in miniature form. But this amazing recipe is for the standard size, which are bigger and allow for a better contrast between the caramelized outer crust and tender center. Plus, there’s just more Canelé to enjoy – what’s not to love about that?


Now, if you’re like me and not the most proficient baker, you might be a little intimidated by this recipe at first glance. I know I was, BUT I also love a challenge, especially one that leaves you with fabulous French pastries at the end. And, I’m here to tell you, Erin McDowell, food stylist and Food52 Baking Consultant, has written a brilliant recipe here. As a food blogger for almost 10 years now, I’m a stickler for a well-written recipe and this one is so well-written you actually feel like McDowell’s in the kitchen with you, offering helpful advice at every step.

In addition to a few basic ingredients you probably already have in your pantry (i.e. eggs, flour, sugar, vanilla and butter) the only additional things you need to make this recipe are: (1) time and (2) a Canelé mold. This is the perfect weekend project since you need to let the batter rest overnight in the fridge before baking, which will also take a few hours. And, forget the elaborate and difficult to care for copper molds of the days of yore, McDowell recommends this brilliant silicone Canelé mold which can be found on Amazon for under ten dollars!


Now, the Canelés do require a little babysitting during the baking process. The mold needs to be generously buttered and pre-heated before adding the batter which aids in the caramelization process. The oven temperature also needs to be dropped after the first thirty minutes as well.

And, perhaps the ONLY thing McDowell doesn’t prepare you for is the flipping of the Canelés in the mold for the final stage of baking. You might end up with some scorched fingertips but again, these beauties are so delicious you won’t even notice those minor burns as you sink your teeth into these lovely confections!


Also, if you’d like a little something to sip with your Canelés, a Sauternes would be an exquisite pairing. This dessert wine also hails from the Bordeaux region of France and I’m a fan of the tenet, “If it grows together, it goes together.” This special wine owes its delightful honeyed citrus, floral, peach and ginger notes to a very special type of mold, botrytis cinerea, which imparts unique flavors and a delightful viscosity to the wine which would complement these pastries beautifully.

I especially like the Chateau Suduiraut Sauternes ($40/half-bottle)a delightful blend of 95% Semillon and 5% Sauvignon Blanc, the two main grapes used to make Sauternes. I also adore the Chateau Climens Barsac ($80/750mL bottle) a rare 100% Semillon wine from the Sauternes sub-region of Barsac helmed by the wonderful Bérénice Lurton. Both embody the hallmark tension between honeyed viscosity and fabulous acidity which makes these wines so incredibly special.


Rather than include McDowell’s Canelé recipe in this post, I’m linking to it on the Food52 website where I discovered it. I hope you enjoy it as much as we have and I’d also love to encourage any established or aspiring bakers out there to check out McDowell’s brand new cookbook, The Fearless Baker ($17.50). Her website is also chock full of gorgeous food photos as well.

After experiencing such success with these Canelés, it has definitely inspired me to bake more. Plus, I can’t wait to pair these sweet treats with even more amazing wines as well.

Bon appétit,


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A Visit to Bordeaux’s Iconic Château Cheval Blanc

Fans of the movie Sideways, the wine-drenched 2004 film following the debaucherous adventures of friends, Jack and Miles, in California wine country, will probably recall Miles’ disdain for one grape in particular…Merlot. His obvious, ahem, revulsion at the mere mention of it is really quite hilarious – click here to view but be warned, there’s a smidge of profanity!

The irony in the film, however, is that Miles’ most treasured bottle in his wine collection is a 1961 Château Cheval Blanc, a highly coveted, collectible bottle made of mostly…wait for it…MERLOT! Perhaps the wine’s status as one of the most revered Bordeaux wines in existence made it possible for him to overcome his Merlot-phobia? It’s hard to say, but thoughts of the film had us smiling as we eased into the gravel drive of Château Cheval Blanc on a hauntingly beautiful, overcast September day.


Located in rural Saint-Émilion among the lush greenery of Bordeaux’s Right Bank, we were looking forward to visiting this revered estate whose terroir has been highly regarded since the 15th century. The estate currently produces two wines, the eponymous Château Cheval Blanc as well as a second wine, La Petit Cheval, which made its debut in the 1988 vintage. In addition to its wines, the Château had also recently completed a major renovation which we were also very eager to experience.


But first, a little vinous history. Since the Saint-Émilion classification system’s inception in 1954, Cheval Blanc has been categorized as a Premier Cru Classe A, the system’s highest level. The Chateau shares this distinction with only three other producers: Château Ausone, Château Pavie and Château Angélus. While Cheval Blanc and Ausone have been exclusive members of this prestigious classification since the beginning, the 2012 update added Chateaux Pavie and Angélus.


The property now known as Château Cheval Blanc, French for “white horse,” was once part of a larger, 200-hectare estate known as Château Figeac. While vines have been grown here for centuries, it wasn’t until a man by the name of Jean-Jacques Ducasse purchased a portion of the estate in 1832, that the core of what many would consider the finest Chateau in all of Bordeaux was formed. Over the next 20 years, the family continued to add land to estate until it reached 39 hectares which is where it still stands today.

When Jean-Jacques’ daughter Henriette married Jean Laussac-Fourcaud, a Libourne wine merchant, a new chapter in the evolution of Château Cheval Blanc began. In the 1860’s, Laussac-Fourcaud’s keen intuition led him to replant the vineyards to half Merlot and half Cabernet Franc, the two grapes which, to this day, thrive on Bordeaux’s Right Bank. He also realized the importance of water stress in order to produce the finest grapes possible. Formerly known as vin de Figeac, the wine was first sold under the Cheval Blanc name in 1852.

For thirty years, Jean Laussac-Fourcaud dedicated himself to one thing only, making the wines of Château Cheval Blanc the best in Saint-Émilion! His hard work paid off and his wines won many awards over the years and developed a reputation of excellence. In the 1880’s Cheval Blanc was even considered on par with the finest wines of the Médoc, garnering similar prices as wines from the famed Chateaux Margaux, Latour, Lafite and Haut-Brion. Once Jean Laussac-Fourcaud passed away, his son Albert inherited the Chateau and perpetuated the work of his father and made even more improvements in the vineyard. By the time Albert’s two sons, Jacques and Joseph, inherited the estate, they too followed in the footsteps of their father and grandfather before them.

Over the ensuing decades, acknowledgements of excellence continued to solidify the family’s legacy including the aforementioned appointment in the Saint-Emilion Classification system as Premier Grand Cru Classé “A.” This exalted rank was perpetuated in each following classification update and Cheval Blanc became a member of the exclusive “Club of 9” comprising the first growths of Bordeaux. Perhaps cellarmaster of Cheval Blanc for 44 years, Gaston Vaissière, summed it up best when he deemed the vineyards’ terroir “magical.”


Another important chapter of the Cheval Blanc story commenced in the Autumn of 1998 when Bernard Arnault and Baron Albert Frère, old friends and lovers of great wine, joined forces to purchase the fabled château. They brought on Pierre Lurton as Estate Manager and injected a dynamic new spirit into the Château while maintaining the utmost reverence and respect for its history. They also placed their complete trust in the winemaking team to continue their wonderful work. The priority today continues to be producing wines of the utmost quality, which calls for enormous attention to detail and winemaking precision.

With a vision towards the future, the duo embarked on the addition of a new, state-of-the-art cellar adjacent to the Château. The impressively modern structure was designed by Christian de Portzamparc, winner of the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 1994, and was completed in June 2011. Reflecting the taste of the Château owners, the addition is both futuristic and in keeping with the surrounding historic vineyard landscape which is listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The new Cheval Blanc cellar was extremely well-received and the first structure in its category to be certified for the High Quality Environmental (HQE) standard. With its uber-stringent criteria, this certification recognizes great care taken in choosing building materials, energy conservation, waste water management as well as acoustic comfort and employee well-being.


On our tour of the new facility, we felt like we were walking on truly hallowed ground. The new cellar’s intimate yet airy feel exuded elegance with its monochromatic colors and diffused natural light. One of the most striking interior vistas features six rows of curvilinear Italian concrete vats stoically flanking a walkway and stairwell down to the barrel room. The number of vats correlates exactly with the Chateau’s fifty two vineyard plots, allowing each one to be vinified separately, a very important component in the production of the Cheval Blanc wines. Each bespoke vat is individually tailored to the size of its assigned vineyard plot and labelled with its corresponding plot number, grape variety and the number of hectoliters the plot produces. The temperature of each vat is also individually controlled and monitored by a super sophisticated control panel. The integration of tech-savvy features and sophisticated aesthetics in this impressive structure was truly amazing!


One level below the tank room was the extensive underground barrel cellar where French barriques cradled the aging wine. The artfully displayed barrels were illuminated by the soft glow of stylish, low-hanging pendant lighting. The cellar’s beautiful Mashrabiya walls, inspired by traditional Arabic wooden screens, served the dual purpose of concealing machinery and equipment while facilitating ventilation. Standing amidst the barrels, the intimate, elegant space felt more like a chic hotel lobby than what you’d expect to find in a musty wine cellar.


After we toured the cellar’s interior we were led up to the rooftop which featured beautiful gardens and panoramic views of the bucolic splendor surrounding the estate. The view also included the vineyards of another world renowned estate, Chateau Pétrus, which is only a stone’s throw away in neighboring Pomerol. While the prestigious Chateaux and vast holdings of the Left Bank are certainly very impressive, we were truly smitten with the verdant lush greenery and relaxed charm of the Right Bank.


Finally, we toured the estate’s vineyards and were able to walk among its revered vines. As we meandered down the gravel paths we were able to pluck some of the Cabernet Franc grapes straight from the vine. Since it was September just before harvest, the grapes were juicy and perfectly ripe. After we had each sampled a few of the delightful jewels, we were ushered away from the vineyard in order to avoid cutting into their profits!


Understandably, the soil types the vines are grown in is particularly important for maintaining the character of the Cheval Blanc wines. While some estates in Saint-Emilion have excellent gravelly soil, and others have very good clay soils, Cheval Blanc is blessed with both types of soil in fairly equal proportions. Château Cheval Blanc is also one of the rare estates whose vineyard configuration has remained practically identical for nearly a century and a half, since 1871. This continuity can also to be found in the proportion of grape varieties. In 1911, the share of Cabernet Franc was also close to 50%.


The vineyards at Château Cheval Blanc are planted to three classic Bordeaux grape varieties: 49% Cabernet Franc, 47% Merlot and 4% Cabernet Sauvignon. The average age of the vines is 42 years, but the oldest plots go back to 1920. Replanting is done at a very slow rate – only one hectare every three years. This means that, year in and year out, the heart of Cheval Blanc’s vineyard remains intact.

Each vineyard plot has its own specific profile due to the age of the vines, surface area, kind of soil, type of rootstock and grape variety. As a result, the wine produced from each plot has its own unique profile. Those from clay soil are powerful with velvety tannin, while those from gravel soil are more aromatic and elegant. A blend of the two results in a wine that is both powerful and elegant with expressive aromatics as well as the complexity of Bordeaux’s greatest wines.


After our fabulous tour of Château Cheval Blanc we sampled the Chateau’s 2006 vintage, a blend of  54% Merlot, 45% Cabernet Franc and 1% Cabernet Sauvignon. 2006 was a year which highly favored Merlot, resulting in a wine with rich, ripe, expressive fruit which melded beautifully with the elegance of the Cabernet Franc. The full-bodied wine was rife with layered notes of violet, cassis, cocoa, leather and cigar box which continued to evolve and mesmerize in the glass. The wine’s opulence was balanced by its elegant frame and fine tannins, which demonstrated remarkable balance and poise. We took our glasses up to the rooftop garden to fully savor and indulge in the experience…right down to the very last drop.

Are you a Bordeaux fan? Why or why not and if you are, which bank do YOU prefer, Right or Left? Please let me know in the Comments section below!

Bon appétit,


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Valentine’s Day Deliciousness: Steak au Poivre à Deux & Roasted Rosemary Garlic Potatoes!

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and if you’re looking for the perfect dish to seduce your Valentine – look no further. Our recipe for Steak au Poivre à Deux and Roasted Rosemary Garlic Potatoes paired with a deliciously seductive red wine will ensure an evening of endless possibilities! Steak au Poivre is a classic French dish that consists... Read More

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Wine Word of the Week: “Corked”

Many wine lovers have heard the term “corked” used in reference to a faulty bottle of wine, but what exactly does the term mean? Below is all you need to know about our latest Wine Word of the Week. The term “corked” (aka “cork taint”) does not refer to a crumbly cork or cork bits floating in a wine. The term actually refers to a chemical compound,... Read More

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Wine Word of the Week: “En Primeur”!

Our latest Wine Word of the Week is “en primeur” which refers to the practice of purchasing wine in advance of its release date, usually while it is still in barrel. Also referred to as “wine futures,” wines purchased in this manner aren’t usually released until 2-3 years after they are sold. Why spend money on wine that far in... Read More

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