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Sunday, 12 November 2017 18:52

Wine Pick of the Week

JLohr Bay Mist Riesling Picmonkey

2016 White Riesling



Monterey County

Alcohol: 12%

Suggested Retail: $ 10

Tuesday, 06 June 2017 19:59

Wine Pick of the Week

Ch Ste Michelle Dry Riesling bottle Picmonkey

2015 Dry Riesling


Chateau Ste Michelle

Columbia Valley

Alcohol: 12.5%

Suggested Retail: $ 10

Saturday, 01 October 2016 12:59

September 30, 2016 Wine Pick of the Week

Covey Run Riesling Picmonkey


2013 Riesling


Covey Run

Columbia Valley (WA)

Alcohol: 11.8%

Suggested retail: $9.99 (for current ’15 release)

Sunday, 03 January 2016 01:55

January 1, 2016 Wine Pick of the Week

Covey Run Riesling Picmonkey

2013 Riesling


Covey Run

Columbia Valley (Washington)

Alcohol: 11.6%

Suggested Retail: $ Unknown


“We purchased this wine for $4.99 at a supermarket in the state of Washington. On the 1st of January of 2016 we attempted to find out more about it, including the suggested retail price. We found the Covey Run website was three years out of date. It gave information about the 2009 vintage of this Riesling and said that its retail price was $9. The listing of an out-of-date vintage for the Riesling wasn’t a lone aberration. Other wine varieties seemed similarly out of date. Of course, there’s more to running a business than keeping its website current, but it would be easy to assume that, at least in some ways, Covey Run is run incompetently.

Friday, 25 September 2015 13:50

September 25, 2015 Wine Pick of the Week

Pacific Rim Sweet Riesling bottle Picmonkey2010 Sweet Riesling


Pacific Rim

Columbia Valley (Washington)

Alcohol: 8.5%

Suggested Retail: $10 (for current 2013 release)


“Surprises can come in many guises. We’ve all heard the phrase nasty surprises. Is there an analog on the positive side—pleasant surprise or delightful surprise ? If so, it would apply to our Monday night discovery of this week’s 'Pick.'

“Our salmon filets were already in the oven when we realized that we’d forgotten to purchase any wine for dinner, so we began to scrounge. Some serious reds were at hand, but nothing appropriate for this fairly delicate preparation of the fish. Worse still, there was no Chardonnay to be found, no Sauvignon Blanc, nor countless variations on many white themes we might have otherwise pursued. But there was a bottle of Riesling, a noble grape variety though not normally our first choice for salmon. There were other aspects making this choice seem even less promising.

Friday, 21 November 2014 23:30

November 21, 2014 Wine Pick of the Week

Pacific Rim Riesling Picmonkey

2009 Vin de Glacière Riesling


Pacific Rim

Columbia Valley (Washington)

Alcohol: 9.% (approx.)

Suggested Retail: $ 14 (375ml)


“Too few Americans are familiar with quality dessert wines. Among these are Sauternes, which are made in the southwest of France from Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Muscadelle grapes. They are very sweet and low in alcohol. A classic pairing is foie gras, but cheeses and fresh fruit are also good companions. (Apparently, some Brits are also unfamiliar with them, as author Ian Fleming once had his otherwise sophisticated spy character, James Bond, order a bottle of the most famous of these, Chateau d'Yquem, to accompany a steak). Germany also makes lovely dessert wines, mostly from Riesling grapes. That country doesn't get an abundance of sunshine and generally stratifies its wine definitions based on ascending levels of ripeness/sweetness. Among the most prized of German wine categories are Eisweins, which are made from grapes that are left to freeze on the vine. The resultant wines have a luscious, concentrated sweetness.

“A variation on that naturally-occurring process are Vin de Glacière wines, which are made from grapes that are frozen after they're picked. Such is the way this week's selection was created. Riesling grapes from the Selenium Vineyard above the Columbia River in southeastern Washington state were the source of this delightful—and affordable—dessert wine. Wines of this style get better as they age and our 2009 was surely better for a few extra years in the bottle after it was released. Its color was a little darker than when it was new—a deeper, richer shade of gold. The aroma was floral, evoking pears, honey and a bit of apricot. In the mouth it's rich and viscous, without being cloying. Though about 18% residual sugar, good acidity keeps the freshness and 'brightness' of the overall experience. There are more pear, honey and apricot qualities in the finish.”

Food Affinity: “Reviewer enjoyed with ginger snaps after a German dinner of sauerbraten served with potato dumplings and red cabbage. More traditional options might include a creamy blue cheese or fresh fruit. Just on its own it would satisfy an after-dinner craving for something sweet, yet not too filling.”

Friday, 08 August 2014 19:25

August 8, 2014 Wine Pick of the Week

NxNW Riesling 2012 bottle Picmonkey

2012 Riesling



Horse Heaven Hills (Washington)

Alcohol: 13%

Suggested Retail: $12


“American Rieslings are under-appreciated, but there are some decent ones, particularly those grown in Washington. North by Northwest (the NxNW identity on the label) makes wines from the Columbia River Basin of southeastern Washington and northeastern Oregon. Grapes for this Riesling were sourced from the Wallula Benches in the Horse Heaven Hills AVA, just south of Washington's Tri-Cities. The winery makes several other varieties and is operated by the King Estate, well-known for its Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris.

“The 2012 NxNW treatment of this grape has a little residual sugar (0.7%) and would likely qualify for that imprecise 'off-dry' definition. It can suit as an aperitif or reception wine and also qualify as an appropriate wine to pour with a main course. It's fragrant and shows aromas of peach, apple and lime. It seems somewhat full in the mouth and shows stone fruit and tropical fruit flavors with a little minerality. It lacks the acidity to put it into that exciting 'zingy' category we like, but does have a fullness that somehow reminds us of Semillon.”

Food Affinity: “Cheeses: Muenster, chèvre with chives. Halibut prepared with Riesling, fresh apricots and slivered almonds. Fresh fruit cocktail incorporating melon and stone fruits and topped with a sprinkling of coconut”

Saturday, 21 December 2013 23:49

December 20, 2013 Wine Pick of the Week


Koehler Riesling bottle Picmonkey

2011 Riesling


Producer: Koehler Winery

Appellation: Santa Ynez Valley

Alcohol: 12.5%

Suggested Retail: $14


“Aromas of melon, peach and a bit of honeysuckle in this Riesling from a cooler region of Santa Barbara County. At 1% residual sugar (RS), it's well within dryness profile to qualify as a food wine. There's a reasonable presence of acidity to offset the sweetness. More papaya and tropical fruit characteristics than apple. Surprisingly light considering the alcohol level, yet balanced and a wine we found delicate and attractive.”

Food Affinity: “Could be used as a pre-dinner aperitif with nuts or crackers and soft cheese with chives, or after dinner with pieces of fruit for an alternative to rich and sticky pie or cake desserts. Could also accompany main courses that had a little 'bite' to them (chicken breast slices in a light cream sauce with Mandarin orange sections and sliced almonds?) or spicy Szechwan or Thai dishes.”

by Dan Clarke


Cracked crab is one of nature's sweetest bounties. Oh sure, there are crab salads, crab cakes, deviled crab and even crab souffles, but for me there's nothing like the simplicity of cracked Dungeness crab, a loaf of sourdough bread and a bottle of beer or glass of wine.

dungeness-crab-at-fishermans-wharf SMALL -in-san-franciscoDungeness crab at Fisherman's WharfI've always thought of it as a particularly San Francisco treat and it has been commercially harvested in the area since 1848. The Dungeness crab (Cancer Magister) lives in colder waters off the Pacific Coast of North America—and nowhere else in the world. While it's found as far south as the Santa Barbara area of California, commercial crabbing really begins around San Francisco with the greater harvest being found farther northward, extending all the way to Alaska's Aleutian Islands.

In California the season begins in earnest just after Thanksgiving and fresh crab has always been a wintertime treat in my family. Because surprisingly few restaurants offer fresh crab in season, I've generally enjoyed mine at home.

Fresh may be a relative term as regards crab. For my taste, a frozen crab is enough different as not to be worth the effort. It promises a whole lot more than it delivers. However, while I'm happy to take home a cooked fresh crab from the market, I realize maximum flavor is obtained when buying the crab live. It's more difficult to find live crab (Asian markets are a good bet) and often it is more expensive. Further, you have to deal with dispatching the creature—boiling him alive, in fact. For the squeamish this could take the edge off the meal.

Dungeness crabs range from about 1½ pounds to slightly over three pounds, with about 20 to 25 percent of that weight edible crab meat. Heavier, denser crabs usually yield a little better meat-to-shell ratio. A large crab will usually feed two persons.

While supermarkets will often have good quality crab at attractive prices (especially early in the season), finding a specialty market where you can talk with your fish seller is a good idea. Cleaning and cracking your crab isn't all that difficult, but it is a little messy. Ask the fishmonger to show you how he does it. If it's your first time, it's well worth any extra charge for this service.

Fresh cracked crab may be a sublime experience, but in an elbows-on-the-table sort of way. Delicious, yes. Elegant, no. Wear a bib or washable clothes. Primary eating implements are your fingers and maybe a narrow fork or pick to get at tender morsels stuck inside shell pieces (I've found a claw from one of the smaller legs works well for this task).

You can use cocktail sauce, but why mask the crab's delightful—and subtle—flavor? Bowls of mayonnaise and drawn butter and some lemon juice are sufficient embellishment. Have a large loaf of sourdough French bread at the table. Slice it if you must, but breaking off pieces by hand seems more appropriate.

Now in the matter of beverages:Beer works fine. If you want to stick with a San Francisco theme, have Anchor Steam—a tradition as rich as any in a city rife with them. Otherwise, look for something light, lagerish.

I've always been a little schizophrenic when it comes to selecting wine to accompany crab in these circumstances. On the one hand, the sweetness of the crab suggests a Riesling. On the other, the crab's richness might be better complemented by a Chardonnay. Why not open a bottle of each?

This is not a meal to experience on a timetable. Share it around a relaxed table with one or more good friends. They'll know that their host is warm, witty. And they'll not mention that you have gotten a piece of crab in your hair or have butter dripping down your chin.

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