“The Art of Wine & Food” Presents SOMM, the film the Wine World is Talking About, on Thursday, August 22nd!

We’re very excited about our special installment of The Art of Wine & Food taking place next Thursday, August 22nd! This month’s event will feature a screening of the film SOMM which provides a humorous, emotional and illuminating look into the mysterious world of The Court of Master Sommeliers.

In the film, four men will do anything to pass the most difficult test you’ve NEVER heard of: the daunting Master Sommelier Exam. The Court of Master Sommeliers is one of the world’s most prestigious, secretive, and exclusive organizations. Since its inception almost 40 years ago, less than 200 candidates have reached the exalted Master level. The exam covers literally every nuance of the world of wine, spirits and cigars.

Those who have passed have put at risk their personal lives, their well- being, and often their sanity to pull it off. Shrouded in secrecy, access to the Court Of Master Sommeliers has always been strictly regulated and cameras have never been allowed anywhere near the exam, until now.

How much do you think you know about wine? SOMM will make you think again.

Following the film guests will enjoy a wine and food tasting featuring the delicious cuisine of Hugh’s Catering and fabulous wines from our wine sponsor, Southern Wine and Spirits. As if that wasn’t enough, we’ll also have two very special guests on hand for a Q&A session, Master Sommelier, Brian Koziol and Master Sommelier Candidate, Sandra Wauquier. Bring your best wine questions for them!

Cost for this special event is $50 per person which includes the film & wine tasting. Reservations are required and seating is limited. To RSVP, click here, or contact Gail Vilone at 954-262-0249. Hope to see you there!


5 Gifts for Your Wine Loving Dad this Father’s Day!

This content is for The Explorateur members only. Visit the site and log in/register to read.

An “Homage to Fromage” at the Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale!

Last month’s installment of “The Art of Wine & Food” featured one of my favorite topics: wine and cheese! Dubbed an “Homage to Fromage” we focused on wine and cheese pairings perfect for entertaining.

In addition to our three Wine & Cheese Pairing Principles, I also like to follow these three Glamorous Guidelines when entertaining guests at home: 1.) always greet your guests with a sparkling wine, 2.) introduce your guests to a wine that’s a little off the beaten path and/or 3.) treat your guests to a decadent dessert wine.

To me, nothing says “festive” like a glass of bubbly and what better way to greet friends and welcome them into your home? Whether it’s Champagne, Prosecco or Cava, there’s just something about the feel of a flute in your hand and bubbles tickling your nose that are simply smile-inducing. This month we featured the Domaine Carneros Cuvee Brut, 2008, a sparkling wine from California which, at $28 a bottle, proves you don’t have to break the bank with a French Champagne to get your bubbly fix! Located in California, Domaine Carneros actually does have ties to France’s Champagne region: it’s parent company is Champagne Taittinger, one of the most well-known Champagne Houses in the world. Claude Taittinger recognized California’s potential to produce world class sparkling wine and found the perfect place in Carneros. He also hand-selected President and Winemaker, Eileen Crane, and with over thirty years of experience making sparkling wine in the US, she is known today as America’s Doyenne of Sparkling Wine.

Our first Wine & Cheese Pairing Principle of the evening was: “Pair Sparkling Wines with Cheese.” Most people automatically think red wine when pairing wine with cheese but sparkling wines pair deliciously well with many cheeses, especially decadent, creamy ones. The acidity and bubbles of the sparkling wine create a beautiful contrast of texture and also cleanse and refresh the palate after each delicious bite of the cheese. To demonstrate this theory, we enjoyed a Triple-Creme Brie paired with the Domaine Carneros Brut, a fruity blend of 48% Pinot Noir, 41% Chardonnay and 1% Pinot Blanc. In addition to the contrasting textures, the fruitiness and creaminess of the sparkler actually enhanced the saltiness and creaminess of the Brie. What’s not to love about that?

When entertaining at home, I also like to introduce guests to a new wine or one I suspect they haven’t tried before. To demonstrate my point, we served the Clos de Nouys Vouvray Sec, 2009, a wine made from 100% Chenin Blanc done in a “sec” or dry style. The delicious Chenin Blanc grape is indigenous to France and has thrived in the Loire Valley since the 9th century. It was first believed to have been cultivated at the Abbey of Glanfeuil in Anjou. It was transported in 1445 to the Squire of Chenonceau at Mount Chenin where the grape derived its name. Clos de Nouys is a 25 acre estate located in the Vouvray appellation of the Loire and consists of vines averaging 35 years old. This is one of the oldest wine-making estates in the AOC area: its wines were served on the Normandie transatlantic liner in 1936 and its vineyards were listed among the best sites on 1907 geological maps.

Wine & Cheese Pairing Principle #2 of our evening was “Pair Wine and Cheese with Similar Flavors.” Chenin Blanc is known for its high levels of acidity and minerality so in keeping with our principle I paired the Clos de Nouys Vouvray Sec with a tangy, fresh goat cheese. The bright acidity in the wine mirrored the acidity and tangy flavors in the goat cheese creating a delicious synergy.

My third personal entertaining guideline is perhaps my favorite: treat your guests to a dessert wine! When entertaining at home many people forget about dessert wines. They may think it’s “wrong” or even “uncool” to like sweet wine of any kind which couldn’t be further from the truth! To demonstrate this paring, we sampled the Fonseca Ruby Port, NV a tasty introductory level Port with fruity notes of cherries and black currants. Port is actually a fortified wine produced exclusively in the Douro Valley in northern Portugal using five main grapes: Tinta Barroca, Tinta Cao, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Francesca and Touriga Nacional. As the still wine is fermenting, a neutral grape spirit (aguardente) is added to prematurely halt the fermentation process which leaves residual sugar in the wine and boosts alcohol content.

In order to demonstrate Wine & Cheese Pairing Principle #3: “Pair Cheese with Dessert Wine” we sampled a classic pairing: Port & Stilton. The reason this pairing works so well is because the sweetness of a dessert wine enhances the saltiness of the cheese which creates a mouth-watering synergy even though the two things individually have somewhat opposite flavors. If you are a fan of Kettle Corn, popcorn that has both salty and sweet flavors, you understand how the combination of salty and sweet can be so incredibly delicious!

A big thank you to Republic National Distributing Company for sponsoring our “Homage to Fromage” at the Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale. All wines are available through The Wine Atelier. Hope you can join us later this month for “Sultry Summer Sippers” featuring wines that are perfect for enjoying during the Summer months. For more information or to purchase tickets, please visit or call Gail Vilone at 954.262.0249. Hope to see you there!


Wines of the Week: Napa Valley’s Art + Farm & an Evening with Owner & Winemaker Kat McDonald!

Chef Remy and Winemaker Kat McDonald

April’s installment of “The Art of Wine & Food” at the Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale featured a very special guest who joined us for “An Evening of Breaking All the Rules!” The fabulous Kat McDonald is the Owner and Winemaker of Napa’s Art + Farm Winery whose goal is to exalt the art of farming through their wines. The result of Kat and her husband Rob’s efforts is a selection of wines which highlight a unique approach to winemaking and the special land they come from.

We were also fortunate to have Chef Remy Gautier of Argentelle Catering with us for the evening who created dishes specifically to pair with each of our wines. Chef Remy is a master at adapting his delightful French-inspired cuisine to accommodate wines from all over the world!

The first wine of the evening was the girls in the vineyard Sauvignon Blanc, 2011. Kat explained that “the girls” is her term of endearment for the vines and “the girls in the vineyard” are all single vineyard wines meant to be enjoyed with food and preferably in the company of friends and family. The vines for this particular wine hail from Lake county, located an hour north of Napa proper. The soil here is comprised of the remains of an ancient riverbed with gravelly soils which is perfect for growing Sauvignon Blanc. This wine was crisp, fresh and lovely with delightful notes of citrus, white peach and guava that elicited “oohs” and “aahs” from the group. Fermenting it entirely in stainless steel preserved its lovely minerality and juicy acidity that cut through the richness of Chef Remy’s Tulipe de Smoked Salmon Fume with Light Cream Cheese. This wine is also perfect for sipping by the pool, enjoying at sunset or on any given Tuesday night and is a natural match for anything you would squeeze a lemon on! Price: $15

Our second wine was the Circadia California Chardonnay, 2010 which is part of a family of wines crafted to celebrate the journey of life. Kat explained that the term “Circadia” refers to the circadian rhythms of daily life. The label also has special significance in that each golden dot featured on it represents a special geographic point on a map significant to the making of this wine. Kat also revealed something quite shocking to the group: she is not a fan of Chardonnay! However, upon experimenting with the fruit and combining Chardonnay fermented in stainless steel with Chardonnay that has spent time in French oak the result something quite special and our group definitely agreed! This wine had crisp, fresh notes of citrus and apple along with richer tropical fruit flavors and a delightful flourish of vanilla and toast from the oak influence. The creamy texture of the wine echoed the creaminess of Chef Remy’s Chicken Veronique, which featured a delicious tarragon cream sauce and sliced green grapes, beautifully! Price: $20

As we moved into red wine territory, we started with The Messenger Red Wine Number One, a non-vintage offering that nicely represented the credo of the Art + Farm “Messenger” series which, unlike the single vineyard focused the girls in the vineyard wines, aims to layer vintages, vineyards and varietals in order to obtain luscious flavor. The Messenger wines serve as an expression of the land that grew them and the hands they encountered along the way. This particular wine (lot #612) is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (58%), Merlot (19%), Montepulciano (12%), Malbec (8%) and Cabernet Franc (3%) hailing from a variety of regions and counties including Lake County, Napa, Sonoma, Dry Creek and Amador’s Shenandoah Valley. The result is a luscious, juicy red that is imminently enjoyable with notes of ripe raspberry, blackberry and plum accompanied by supple tannins and a lengthy finish. While this wine paired deliciously well with Chef Remy’s Puff Pastry with Strawberry Compote and Magret of Duck it is also a great pairing for casual fare such as pizza, burgers and BBQ. It’s lively flavors just keep you coming back for more! Price: $16

Our fourth and final wine of the evening was the girls in the vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, 2011. The sustainably farmed Beckstoffer Family Amber Knolls Vineyard is where these girls call home. They enjoy bright intense sunlight moderated by cooling sea breezes and as they look up from their 2,000-2,400 ft. elevation, they enjoy a stunning panorama of Clear Lake and Mt. Konocti, gazing on the morning fog below. Looking down, they can usually see themselves reflected in the obsidian rocks mixed throughout the bright red, volcanic soil. On the nose, this Cabernet Sauvignon exhibits notes of blackberry, plum and red currant accompanied by flavors of cassis and bramble fruit with a hint of earth and cocoa. The mouthfeel is silky and rich with a lingering finish. This wine’s appreciable tannins and acidity indicate it will also improve with additional bottle age. This wine is a natural match for flavorful cuisine such as burgers or steak and paired deliciously well with Filet of Beef on Garlic Roasted Potato! Price: $18

The Art + Farm wines represent a unique approach to crafting wine and I applaud Kat and Rob McDonald’s commitment to diversity, producing wines with both a single vineyard focus as well as multi vintage offerings all in the name of producing great wines that celebrate the art of farming. Their collection of wines represents a tremendous value for the quality and make them a wonderful choice for your “house wine” to sip and savor with friends and family – they will thank you for it! In addition to discussing her wines, Kat also regaled us with stories about life on the farm and the antics of the chickens and bees and extolled the benefits of having fresh eggs and honey on hand – who can argue with that?!

Big thanks to Howard Freedland of Bulletproof Wine & Spirits and Kat McDonald of Art + Farm Winery for sponsoring our event! Guests thoroughly enjoyed an evening of breaking all the rules and learning about these very special wines. To purchase these wines from The Wine Atelier, please click here. Please join us on Thursday, May 23rd for an “Homage to Fromage” where we will explore winning wine and cheese pairings perfect for entertaining! For more details or to purchase tickets, please click here.


“Under the Tuscan Sun” featuring the Wines of Fattoria di Fèlsina!

The Cellars of Felsina

Last month’s installment of “The Art of Wine & Food” featured the wines of Tuscany, one of Italy’s, and apparently South Florida’s, most beloved wine regions. To showcase this region we were fortunate to be able to feature the wines of one of my favorite producers, Fattoria di Fèlsina.

My husband and I had the pleasure of visiting Fèlsina years ago, located in Castelnuovo Berardegna in the southeastern part of the Chianti Classico appellation northeast of Siena. We had a wonderful experience and have been big fans and collectors of their age-worthy wines ever since.

For our event at the Museum, we were able to feature three of Fèlsina’s wines and each wine was paired with a delicious dish created by Chef Lenore Nolan-Ryan, a true Mistress of Flavors, who also happens to be a true pleasure to work with! Lenore also has a wonderful cooking school and catering company in Ft. Lauderdale, to check it out, please click here.

The Road to Fèlsina

Each of our featured wines for the evening was made from 100% Sangiovese, the signature grape of Tuscany, whose name is derived from the Latin sanguis Jovis, or “the blood of Jove,” the Roman king of the gods. Sangiovese and its many clones are the primary ingredient in many of the red wines of Tuscany including Brunello di Montalcino, Morellino di Scansano and many of the Super Tuscans. All of the wines were also from the 2008 vintage, an inconsistent vintage in Tuscany that favored specific producers who were able to adapt to the changing weather conditions. Fèlsina’s wines definitely shine and while very approachable now will benefit from additional bottle aging.

Each of these wines also clearly represented a different incarnation of the Sangiovese grape and reflected it’s own unique terroir. The first two wines of the night were from the Chianto Classico DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita). DOCG is Italy’s most prestigious and stringent classification, indicating the wine’s producer followed the strictest regulations defined by the classification system. Our third wine, the Fontalloro, is a “Super Tuscan” classified as IGT (Indicazione Geografica Tipica) an appellation created in 1992 for wines that were considered to be of higher quality than simple table wines, but which did not conform to the strict wine laws of the region’s DOC or DOCG classifications. Before the IGT classification was created, “Super Tuscan” wines such as Fontalloro and Tignanello were labeled Vino da Tavola (VDT), the lowest of the Italian classifications.

The evening began with the 2008 Fèlsina Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG featuring grapes grown on a variety of soil types at altitudes ranging from 960 to 1,260 feet above sea level. In the glass this wine is a brilliant ruby red with fragrant aromatics of ripe red fruit with a hint of spice. On the palate, juicy notes of Morello cherry, pomegranate and licorice were accompanied by a lovely minerality, acidity and well integrated tannins. Chef Lenore prepared a lovely platter of Italian delicacies to pair with this wine including chunks of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, mozzarella wrapped in Prosciutto di Parma and dried figs. The tannins of the wine interacted deliciously with the flavors and textures of the food. Wine Advocate: 91+ points. Wine Atelier price: $27

Our second wine of the evening was the 2008 Fèlsina “Rancia” Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG, which takes its name from the historic Rancia estate that was once a Benedictine monastery. This vineyard consists of 15 acres with limestone and marl soils and elevations ranging between 1,200 and 1,260 feet with a southwest exposure. The first vintage of the “Rancia” single vineyard Chianti Classico Riserva was produced in 1983. This wine is deep ruby red in color with aromas of red and black fruit and spice. On the palate, classic notes of the characteristic Morello cherry, blackberry, black tea and earth are accompanied by firm yet supple tannins and a delightfully long, lingering finish. This Tuscan beauty paired very well with Chef Lenore’s riff on Pasta Bolognese featuring the addition of red currants which really highlighted these nuances in the wine. Wine Advocate: 93+ points. Wine Atelier price: $44

Our third wine of the evening was the 2008 Fèlsina Fontalloro, our Super Tuscan of the evening. This special wine is considered the most representative expression of Fèlsina’s Sangiovese since the grapes are grown in vineyards straddling the borders between the Chianti Classico and Chianti Colli Senesi appellations. The vineyards found within the Chianti Classico appellation are in the elevated area of Fèlsina and those of the Chianti Colli Senesi in the lowlands. Like the Rancia, the first vintage of this wine was also 1983. This 100% Sangiovese is aged in first or second use, 225-liter oak barrels for 18-22 months, blended in steel tanks, then bottle-aged for an additional 8-12 months. It also has a deep ruby red color with complex aromas of violet, black currant, earth and licorice. The palate shows good consistency with firm yet approachable tannins, great structure and complexity and a memorable finish. The Fontalloro paired divinely with Chef Lenore’s Classic Italian Meatball with Ricotta Cheese. Wine Advocate: 94 points. Wine Atelier price: $54

Big thanks to Chiara Leonini from Fattoria di Fèlsina and Stacole Fine Wines for sponsoring our event – everyone truly enjoyed their evening “Under the Tuscan Sun”! To purchase these wines from The Wine Atelier, please click here. Please join us on Thursday, April 25th for “An Evening of Breaking All the Rules with Napa Valley’s Art + Farm!”. We are fortunate to have Owner/Winemaker Kat McDonald joining us to share her story and her unique approach to winemaking. We are thrilled to welcome her to South Florida! For more details please click here.


Master Sommelier Andrea Immer Robinson Guest Hosts “The Art of Wine & Food”!

This month’s installment of “The Art of Wine & Food” at The Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale featured a very special guest: Master Sommelier Andrea Immer Robinson! In town for the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, Andrea was kind enough to join us for the evening and present an educational seminar focusing on Old World vs New World wines featuring her innovative stemware line “The One.”

Continue Reading >

New Year, New Adventures & a New Website!

An official Happy New Year to everyone and I hope your 2013 is off to a fabulous start! I’ve been hard at work on my new website which I am very happy to introduce to you right now. I hope you find it useful in enhancing your adventures in food and wine in 2013 and beyond.

In keeping with the spirit of the New Year, January is all about starting fresh and setting goals for the year ahead. If one of your goals for 2013 is to explore the world of food and wine, you’re in luck – The Glamorous Gourmet and The Wine Atelier have you covered! A couple features of the new website include:

1.) Weekly Wine Picks: as the name implies each week I’ll be featuring a selection of wines based on a common theme. Whether it’s a specific region, season or featured producer the focus will first and foremost be on learning about what’s in your glass, where it’s from, who made it and how it got there!

2.) The Wine Atelier Wine Club: Explore the world of wine from the comfort of your own home with The Wine Atelier Wine Club! Every month, two personally hand-selected bottles will show up on your doorstep with detailed information on the wine region, producer, grape variety and suggested food and wine pairings. All you need is your corkscrew, glass and a sense of adventure!

3.) Weekly Wine Facts: Do vinous terms like “Sommelier,” “Vendages Tardive,” and  “Pouilly-Fuissé” get you tongue tied? Well, not for long, my fellow wine lovers! Each week I’ll feature a new wine term complete with proper pronunciation and definition to further demystify the world of wine and keep you one step ahead of those pesky wine snobs.

4.) Food & Wine Pairings: For those of you who enjoy pairing food and wine, I’ll be featuring recipes and pairing suggestions to help you create than magical synergy of 1 + 1 = 3. Whether it’s “Fast & Fabulous” recipes for everyday enjoyment or “Menus for Entertaining” there’s wine pairings at every price point to suit your budget as well as your occasion.

5.) Special Events: Do you enjoy socializing with other wine lovers? Whether it’s “The Art of Wine and Food” at the Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale, the upcoming Boca Bacchanal or The 2nd Annual Country Club Chef Showdown I’ve got lots of fun wine loving events on my calendar for 2013. Check back often for updates!