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






  • pinitbutton Riesling on the Rise!
riesling tasting invite 199x300 Riesling on the Rise!

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!” »



  • pinitbutton Sideways in Santa Monica
sideways 300x199 Sideways in Santa Monica

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.

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  • pinitbutton Passport to Dry Creek Valley
red wine weekend 300x300 Passport to Dry Creek Valley

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.

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  • pinitbutton Jordan Winery Celebrates 40th Anniversary   Wine News
london west hollywood pool 300x200 Jordan Winery Celebrates 40th Anniversary   Wine News

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.

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  • pinitbutton Mt. Brave Wines   Wine News
P1270363 1 300x235 Mt. Brave Wines   Wine News

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” »

  • pinitbutton Stack Wines Introduces Innovative Packaging – 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.

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  • pinitbutton 72 Hours in Fredericksburg, Texas
fredericksburg 300x224 72 Hours in Fredericksburg, Texas

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.

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The Best Easter Brunch

on April 04th, 2012
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  • pinitbutton The Best Easter Brunch
peacock alley 300x214 The Best Easter Brunch

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!



  • pinitbutton Pigging Out at Pigs & Pinot
pork belly tacos 300x199 Pigging Out at Pigs & Pinot

Cyrus' sous vide pork belly tacos

by Barb Rybicki

For wine lovers with an aching for bacon, the place to be this past weekend was Pigs & Pinot, the food and wine celebration and fundraiser held in Healdsburg, CA. The sold-out, seventh annual Taste of Pigs & Pinot kickoff on March 23 was a true feast from trotters to snout, MC-ed by chef Charlie Palmer at his Dry Creek Kitchen restaurant in the Hotel Healdsburg.

Pigs & Pinot benefits two child-focused non-profit organizations: Share Our Strength, which nourishes hungry kids in the U.S.; and Here For Them’s “Russ’s Kitchen” Bread For Life, which is helping orphaned kids in the Dominican Republic by building a panadería (bread bakery) to feed and train them in marketable culinary skills.

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  • pinitbutton Moscato Demand Growing in U.S.   Wine News
moscato 143x300 Moscato Demand Growing in U.S.   Wine News

Gallo Family Vineyard Moscato

Demand for Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay remains high, but Moscato is currently one of the fastest-growing wine varietals in the U.S. Also known as Muscat or Muscatel, Moscato wines tend to be sweeter and less alcoholic. Gallo, which holds 44 per cent of Moscato’s market share, saw sales of its own Gallo Family Vineyard Moscato increase by 124 per cent in 2010, according to marketing research firm IRI.

What is driving sales? More than half of all Moscato consumers are under the age of 45, while nearly one-third are between the ages of 25 and 34, according to Nielsen Homescan Panel. Some of Moscato’s popularity with the younger generation could, perhaps, be due to hip hop influences. Kanye West claimed on MTV that he liked Moscato, while Lil’ Kim sang “Still over in Brazil/Sipping Moscato.” A more likely reason, however, is the low price tag that many Moscatos enjoy. We’ve seen a number of them on our recent lists of Top 10 Value Wines and Top 10 Wines under $10. These include the Gallo-produced Mirassou 2010 California Moscato ($12), Caposaldo Moscato IGT ($10) and Martin & Weyrich 2007 Moscato Allegro ($10).

Continue reading “Moscato Demand Growing in U.S. – Wine News” »

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