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Luxury Champagne For Valentine’s Day

Posted on by Arianna Armstrong in Arianna's Wine Tasting Notes, Sparkling Wine, Special Occasion Wine | Leave a comment

The Internet is packed to the rafters with gift guides for Valentine’s Day. So here is one more. Except this one is better than most of the others. Because the benefits of a spa treatment will be completely eradicated by the stress of getting stuck in traffic on the way home. A piece of jewelry is likely to get tossed into a box and forgotten. And some sort of fancy underwear may (or may not) be only mildly appreciated in …

Past Meets Present at Culver Hotel Prohibition Ball

Posted on by Arianna Armstrong in Events & Misc., Wine Tasting Notes | Leave a comment

If any good came of Prohibition, it’s the parties celebrating the end of it. While over half the states in the US had gone dry way before the Volstead Act went into effect, the “prohibition of alcoholic beverages” officially kicked off on January 16, 1920. This meant that the “manufacture, sale, transportation, importation, possession or distribution” of any beverage of at least .5% alcohol was illegal–except under specific circumstances, such as religious ceremonies and medical necessity. It’s safe to say …

Lest Ye Be Judged: Guest Judging At The LA International Wine Competition

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When I check in to guest judge at the long registration table at the Sheraton at the Fairplex, in Pomona, California, my Wines of Bordeaux host hears my name and bounds across the room to greet me. Jana Kravitz is pretty, stressed, and very, very French…or pretty, French and very, very stressed… either way, she ushers me into a ballroom filled with round banquet tables covered in white tablecloths, before introducing me to the five other judges at the table where I’ve been assigned. On the …

Welcome to our updated website

Posted on by Arianna Armstrong in Announcement, News and Information | 2 Comments

After being away for far too long we have returned with a brand new website. Please look around and let us know what you think. The all-new GrapeSmart is going to be a cuvee of all sorts of good things. Stick around, take a sip and see!

50 Years of New Zealand History-Making: Villa Maria Wines

Posted on by Arianna Armstrong in Arianna's Wine Tasting Notes, Great Wines Under $20, Wines from the Grocery Store | Leave a comment

Ravenswood: Joel Peterson and his Powerful Elixirs

Posted on by Arianna Armstrong in Wines from the Grocery Store | Leave a comment

But the raven still beguiling all my sad soul into smiling, Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird and bust and door; Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore – What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore Meant in croaking `Nevermore.’ In Edgar Allan Poe’s poem “The Raven,” a bird comes out of the night and leaves an indelible mark… …

Drinking Out Of The Box… RED

Posted on by Arianna Armstrong in Arianna's Wine Tasting Notes | Leave a comment

When we last left you, we’d started on an exciting foray into the wonderful world of boxed wine. We’d done this because, while far less sexy, boxed wines (approximately four bottles per 3 liter box) are a better comparative value than their bottled counterparts. And because the plastic bladder inside the box collapses as the wine is emptied, boxed wines are naturally protected against oxygen spoilage, so they are usually good for around four weeks once they’ve been opened. A …

Drinking Out Of The Box… WHITE

Posted on by Arianna Armstrong in Wines from the Grocery Store | 1 Comment

  Boxed wines might not have the sexy cache of something in a green bottle one pulls off the shelf of a dark and dusty cellar, but they’re being increasingly recognized as both a great economical and environmental choice. While a little oxygen can help open up a wine (especially younger ones), too much exposure will quickly ruin it. For all of today’s technology, there aren’t many ways to keep this from happening to a traditional bottle of wine, especially …

Abalone, You’ve Met Your Match

Posted on by Arianna Armstrong in Wine Tasting Trips | 1 Comment

Abalone – those algae-eating, sea dwelling creatures, which are so delectable to otters and so strange to look at as they creep along the ocean floor – are part of the phylum Mollusca. They share this group with squid, clams, scallops, sea slugs and octopuses. So it’s no wonder they’re so tasty. This deliciousness, enjoyed by both sea otters and humans alike, has led to a steep decline in wild abalone, but new advancements in abalone farming. I got to …

Try Some Wine! Win A Contest! Tapena Is Here To Help.

Posted on by Arianna Armstrong in Wines from the Grocery Store | 1 Comment

“Your words are my food, your breath my wine. You are everything to me.” – Sarah Bernhardt With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, I thought I’d talk to you a little about love. …And the Spanish company, Freixenet (known for it’s world-famous black-bottled Cava, Cordon Negro). Love is what built Freixenet. In the late 1800s, Pedro Ferrer Bosch, whose family owned La Freixeneda – a farming estate dating back to the 12th Century – and had been making wine since the …