Wine Wrapped Up: The L’Occasion Gift Guide

To give the gift of wine is to give a bit of life – a bit of someone’s life’s work too – for others to enjoy. To be toasted instantly or tucked away for later, the bottles hold promise because they are emblematic of sharing. Here are a few of the bottles that have brought me enjoyment, that have inspired and delighted me or taught me something new this year. Thank you for joining me on L’Occasion in 2017. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy Hanukkah, Happy New Year. 

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Merlot: The Busy One

On my kitchen counter, at that very moment, was the collection of Merlot that I planned to feature in this post – all of which hail from either Napa or Sonoma. And I was reminded that while everything is impermanent, wine included, that wine is the essence of moments – the structure of life and vibrancy and nature and work – packaged for us to evoke the actual elements of vitality from any given spot where wine grapes can be grown.

The Plurality of Portuguese Wine

Earlier this year I had the opportunity to write about The Douro Boys. This is a group of winemakers from five quintas (the Portuguese term for wine estate) that have put their energy together to make wine drinkers more aware of the variety of wine coming out of their UNESCO-recognized region. “Together, they’re putting the…

Rosé and Sea Salt

It has come up in conversation – many times – as one of our most extraordinary experiences in France. It is certainly hard to describe and after chatting about this place, I generally feel like I left out the real story. This is because Grussian, a commune in the southern French Aude department, is experiential….

Wine for a Summer Cookout

Many years ago I hosted a cookout party for family and friends to celebrate my sister’s achievement of earning her Masters degree in Early Childhood Education. I made, truly, the best pulled pork this side of the Mississippi and I thought to myself (as I often do): Rhône reds.  Turns out, I had a houseful…

Fresh American Wines for Brunch

When I was a young mom in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood (hands up if you are from Chicago) the place to be seen with your family was John’s Place for brunch on the weekends. It was a right of passage, you were now adult enough to be up before noon, but were young enough that…

15 Years, 5 Houses, 3 Kids and 1 Wine that’s seen it all…

My husband has a pair of jeans that he calls his painting jeans. He’s kept them around for painting projects, each one adding to the mess that makes them the perfect source of memories: here is the Ralph Lauren red from the upstairs hallway; here’s the Phillipsburg blue from the dining room; here’s the pink…

A Gigondas from the Cellar

During a visit to Gigondas last fall, I had lunch with Thierry Faravel, proprietor and winemaker at Domaine le Bouïssière. Thierry and his brother Gilles are second generation vignerons, tending vines planted by their father Antonin, who grew grapes for the co-op for 41 years (not uncommon in Southern France). The family vineyards are in Gigondas,…

Cooking at Home: Affordable Bordeaux & Homemade Pasta

“Everything you see, I owe to spaghetti.” ~Sophia Loren Something elemental happened in our kitchen recently. We began to make our pasta from scratch. For years I’d believed this was a practice we weren’t entitled to, not being Italian and having the oh-so-easy bounty of boxed (and even pre-made fresh) pasta available at our local…

The Wines of Red Mountain

The story of how I became familiar with the Wines of Red Mountain, an AVA in southeastern Washington state, is representative of how most of my wine connections are made: organically. Late November I received a note in my inbox from author Boo Walker. His third novel, Red Mountain, had recently been released and he…

Persimmons, Cab Franc & Other Harvest Delights

Camilla, of Culinary Adventures with Camilla, asked us to honor the season with this theme: The Feast Nearby – Grateful for Local Vintners and Seasonal Foods. Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving. ~W. T. Purkis I’ve been working on an ongoing project…

Evenings with Merlot

This article is all about Merlot, in conjunction with #MerlotMe and #WinePW, featuring two bottles from the Napa Valley. When I was a younger gal, an early wine drinker, my go-to wine was Merlot. I still remember walking into a Champagne bar and ordering a glass of Merlot instead of bubbly. Merlot proved, and still…

Go Ahead and Say It: Grüner Veltliner

This article encourages a glass of Grüner Veltliner, a food-friendly Austrian varietal, explored for Wine Paring Weekend #WinePW. I have a theory. People drink easy-to-say wines first. If they have to point to the wine list to order, they feel sheepish. No one wants to feel sheepish, so they order something they can pronounce. As an…

Cooking with Wine: Chipotle Pinot Noir Enchiladas

One of my husband’s favorite food memories of growing up in Chicago was the tamale lady. She was a neighborhood mother who made a huge batch of tamales on a certain day of the week. She’d sell them hot and ready to any family that opened their door in time to catch her. So when I…

Welcome Spring with Fresh Food & Le Ferme Du Mont Côtes du Rhône

“Do not search in a wine for the reflection of an exact science. The formulas of scientific oenology are only a thin competition which does not know how to respect the mysteries of eternal creation.”  ~The late Jacques Perrin, Château Beaucastel, Châteauneuf-du-Pape Eternal creation. The mysteries of eternal creation… is there anything more beautiful? The…