Since 1969, restaurant, hotel, travel & other witty reviews by a handpicked, worldwide team of discerning professionals—and your views, too.




Front side of Inglenook 2009 CASK Cabernet Sauvignon, featuring 1941 label design

Front side of Inglenook 2009 CASK Cabernet Sauvignon, featuring 1941 label design

If you avoid Inglenook wines because of their subpar reputation, it’s time to rethink that notion. Founded in 1880 by Finnish sea captain Gustave Niebaum, Inglenook was actually one of the earliest and greatest of Napa Valley wine estates. But in 1964, it was broken up and sold off, and the brand became associated with cheap box wines.

Over the past few decades, filmmaker/wine entrepreneur Francis Ford Coppola has devoted a tremendous amount of money and energy to reviving this historic brand. He began buying up parts of the 235-acre estate in 1975, issuing wines under the Niebaum-Coppola label. In 2006, he changed the label to Rubicon Estate, and five years later to Inglenook when he finally completed the estate’s reunification. He also hired Château Margaux winemaker Philippe Bascaules to change the public perception of the Inglenook brand and restore it to its former glory.

Continue reading “Historic Inglenook Winery Restored to Former Glory – Wine News” »



by Sophie Gayot

Throughout 2012, restaurateur Piero Selvaggio will be celebrating the 40th anniversary of Valentino, one of Los Angeles’ first fine dining restaurants, featuring Italian cuisine. Watch my exclusive video interview above with Selvaggio to learn some culinary history. You can also watch another video with Valentino chef Nico Chessa
. Valentino will celebrate Father’s Day by offering three “No Corkage Nights” on Thursday, June 14, Friday, June 15, and Saturday, June 16, so diners can bring in their own wine for no additional charge. (Valentino is closed on Sundays.)

Continue reading “Celebrate Father’s Day” »



Riesling & Co. Tasting invitation

Riesling & Co. Tasting invitation

Riesling & Co. 2011 Vintage Tasting in Tribeca

by Michelle Kwan

German engineering, bratwurst, beer. These three things come to mind when thinking of Germany. But wine? Not so much. Flanked by France and Italy, Europe’s powerhouses of winemaking, Germany has long existed under the shadow of these two regions — despite the fact that Germans began making wine more than eight centuries ago.

The German Winegrowers’ Association has been taking its vintages on tour in parts of Europe and the United States for several years now in an attempt to introduce German wines to the industry and public alike. Germany’s 2011 vintage has proven to be “the best in recent years,” according to Norbert Weber, president of the Association. Germany’s soil works together with the climate to produce primarily Rieslings and Pinot Blancs, with the former most recognized in the industry. Rieslings range from very dry to very fruity depending on the sugar alcohol level at processing, and the versatility of this wine makes it equally ideal for both pairing with food and drinking on its own.

Continue reading “Riesling on the Rise!” »



Jack and Miles wining and dining Maya and Terra

Jack and Miles wining and dining Maya and Terra

by Barnaby Hughes

First there was Sideways the novel, then Sideways the movie, and now there is Sideways the play. The world premiere production of Sideways is currently running through July 22 at the Ruskin Group Theatre in Santa Monica, California.

The novel’s author and first-time playwright Rex Pickett focuses the stage adaptation on the friendship between Miles and Jack and their wine-soaked wanderings through Santa Barbara County wine country in search of sexual satisfaction and the perfect Pinot Noir. To help with their latter quest, performances are paired with complimentary Pinot Noir tastings, courtesy of wine event company Affairs of the Vine.

Continue reading “Sideways in Santa Monica” »



Red wine weekend

Red wine weekend

by Barb Rybicki

Where can you attempt to get five dozen passport stamps in a single weekend with no jet lag? Passport to Dry Creek Valley, of course. Now in its 23rd year, the sold-out annual wine and food tasting event, held the last weekend of April in Northern Sonoma County, California, once again offered visitors a spectacular whirlwind tour of one of California’s loveliest wine appellations.

The “Zinfamous” region celebrates a century of Zinfandel growing, often by multi-generational families. Boutique, small production wineries lie just around a bend from renowned cult producers. The weekend open house allows eager passport holders to sample the remarkable variety of nuanced conglomerations of grapes, terroir and individual winemaking philosophy.

Continue reading “Passport to Dry Creek Valley” »

Jordan Winery's 40th anniversary celebration at the London West Hollywood

Jordan Winery's 40th anniversary celebration at the London West Hollywood

Top Form at 40

It was 40 centuries ago that the production of wine took place in what is today Armenia and Iran and, yes, China most probably had been making fermented fruit juices another 40 centuries earlier. At 40 years young, John Jordan and Jordan Winery are following in our ancestors’ footsteps and more recently his Mom and Dad, Sally and Tom Jordan, who gave birth to the winery and their son forty years ago. And what an enterprise it is. It took a fortune made in the oil and gas exploration business to power its development. Tom, a geology engineer, had to keep his hands and feet underground to satisfy his thirst.

Continue reading “Jordan Winery Celebrates 40th Anniversary – Wine News” »



Mt. Brave wines

Mt. Brave wines

A Brave New Wine

Native Americans and early settlers hunted animals with bows and arrows so they could feed themselves and their families. But a lucky few wielding those old-school weapons were able to enjoy a gourmet wild game meal on Sunday, washed down by fine Napa Valley red wines, no matter how badly they aimed.

The occasion was the exclusive launch party for the new Mt. Brave wine label at the Houdini Estate in Los Angeles, where three wines and a mini-archery range magically appeared. Mt. Brave winemaker Chris Carpenter, who has worked on other top Kendall-Jackson Napa mountain vineyards such as Lokoya and Cardinale, introduced the inaugural 2008 vintage, which includes 1,000 cases of Cabernet Sauvignon ($75), 100 cases of Merlot ($60) and 100 cases of Malbec ($60).

Continue reading “Mt. Brave Wines – Wine News” »

Wine on the Go

The term ‘stacked’ takes on new meaning thanks to the creative folks behind Stack Wines (originally marketed as STACKED Wines). Their nifty invention offers a practical way of bringing vino to places — such as the beach or park — where you don’t want to bother with stemware, a corkscrew and the glass bottle itself. The Stack Wines “tower” consists of four individually packaged wine containers (they look like stemless govino wine glasses) that are stacked and separated by a peel-away seal. These are made of a lightweight and shatterproof plastic called Vinoware, and each container holds a serving of 187.5 ml for a total of 750 ml, which is the size of a standard wine bottle. To imbibe, you simple pull one of the cups away and sip! Stack Wines are available in three varietals, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Grigio, and a red blend called Charisma, all sourced in California. The price is about $12 per tower. Stack Wines can be purchased online or at select locations across the United States.

Continue reading “Stack Wines Introduces Innovative Packaging – Wine News” »



Fredericksburg, Texas (photo credit: Mary Ann McClain)

Fredericksburg, Texas (photo credit: Mary Ann McClain)

Enjoy a wine tour Texan style

If you think Texas is all about big hair and barbecue, you got it all wrong. Texas can be quite sophisticated, and it also boasts a fabulous wine country! In fact, the Texas winemaking tradition is the oldest in the country. You’ll find half of the state’s wineries in the Texan Hill Country, and the charming town of Fredericksburg has become a bona fide destination for fickle foodies and oenophiles.

Our favorite must-visit destination in this German tradition-soaked locale include Becker Vineyards with its 46 acres of French Vinifera vines that grow eight grape varietals; Der Lindenbaum restaurant for German schnitzels and konigsberger klopse; and August E’s Fine Dining — perhaps the most un-Fredericksburg place in Fredericksburg with pan-continental cuisine such as the scallop hand roll, which recreates a burrito with seaweed instead of a tortilla.

Continue reading “72 Hours in Fredericksburg, Texas” »

The Best Easter Brunch

on April 04th, 2012
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Peacock Alley at The Waldorf=Astoria in New York, one of our Top 10 Restaurants for Easter Brunch in the U.S.

Peacock Alley at The Waldorf=Astoria in New York, one of our Top 10 Restaurants for Easter Brunch in the U.S.

by Jeff Hoyt

If you haven’t made reservations for Easter Brunch yet, you’re running out of time. Consult our lists of the best Easter Brunch available in your area. We also feature the Top 10 Restaurants for Easter Brunch across the U.S. At many of these fine restaurants, you can make reservations for Sunday, April 8, with a few clicks on the website.

If you’re invited to brunch at someone’s house, or hosting one of your own, consult our list of the Top 10 Brunch Wines. They’re good on Easter and year-round.

Our current issue of Tastes features other money-saving wine lists, including Top 10 Wines Under $10, Top 10 Wines Under $20, Top 10 Value Wines and Top 10 Cheap Champagnes that are true Champagnes from France. The newsletter is focused on value, since this is the month we have to do business with the IRS. can save you money with its informative lists of Top 10 Value Cars, Top 10 Value Spas, and the Best Value Restaurants, Cheap Eats and other Meals on a Budget Near You. And if you want to laugh all the way to the bank, check out our picks for the Top 10 Movie Comedies of All Time!

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