Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2010 Classes!

I know I haven't blogged in awhile but there isn't much going on with the holidays. Been busy cleaning out my fridge instead...

I DID get a lovely bottle of wine as a present so details on that forthcoming when I crack that open.

The highlight of the holidays was splitting a 2004 Stag's Leap Cabernet ( I probably could have drank the whole thing by myself it was so smooth. I also ate Stacy's Pita Chips ( as an appetizer. Probably could have eaten the entire bag of those in one sitting as well.

Anyway, here are some links to 2010 me if you're interested in attending anything with me. You KNOW I will be at all the cheese classes!

Provisions Schedule:
Wine and Cheese place:

Whole Foods Galleria:

The Wine Merchant:

Friday, December 18, 2009

Having to deal with fame and Italian cheeses

Word about this blog is starting to spread and one of the downsides to fame (hahaha) is that there is more pressure to perform…or in this instance, to keep my blog updated! ACK! So yes, I am a week late in writing about Italian cheese class held at the Wine Merchant in Clayton ( I could make the excuse that I left for Chicago (again) last weekend, and that I have been sick and busy all this week, but instead, I will just write.

After visiting France last month (via cheese class), it was time to visit Italy. I wish I could say that each country has a specific style, but I have a feeling that tasting six cheeses does not quite cover the full gamut of styles of cheese for just one country. That is why I keep going back month after month…there is always something new to try and always new wines to be paired with. My studies will never be complete, as there will always be more.

I was disappointed that there were only a couple of white wines offered for the evening, and both had a bit more edge than I usually like, but it worked out well because it meant more stronger-flavored cheeses were offered.

I didn’t get excited until the third cheese, a Robiola - a cow, sheep, and goat blend from the Piedmont region. It was soft and creamy, much like a French chevre, with just a little bit of gooey edge. What a full-flavored cheese! This paired GREAT with the Barbera red wine. Unfortunately for my buddy Curt, he was completely turned off by the goat smell and taste but it worked out well in the end because it meant more for me! Hehehehe

Another top pairing was the Testun, a cow’s milk cheese from Barolo, which was paired with a Barolo red wine. “What grows together, goes together.” The cheese had a hard texture and wasn’t too far off from the next cheese, a Pecorino Toscano, but the Pecorino was almost too bitter to be eaten straight.

The evening was finished off with a Gorgonzola…a moldy, stinky cheese that I could certainly do without. Of course it was paired with a dessert wine that was also over-the-top in its sweetness.

Simon Lehrer, returning as cheese monger at the Wine Merchant, was kind enough to provide a few bonus treats on the table in addition to the six pairings. An assortment of crackers, salted Italian olives, and the classic, Parmigiano-Reggiano (that I could eat everyday of the week) were also offered to us for mixing and matching with the various wines.

Here is the complete listing for the class. Cheeses are listed by name – milk type – and region of Italy:

2007 Villa del Borgo Pinot Grigio $13.99 – Toma Piemontese-Cow-Piedmont
2007 Abbazia Di Novacella Kerner $24.99 – Veneto de Estate – Cow – Veneto
2006 Sandrone Barbera D’Alba $39.99 – Robiola – Cow, Sheep, Goat – Piedmont
2005 G. D. Vajra Barolo “Albe” $35.99 – Testun - Cow - Barolo
2006 Petrolo Torrione Toscana $42.99 – Pecorino Toscano – Sheep – Tuscany
2004 Nicoli Recioto $44.99 – Gorgonzola Picate – Cow - Milan

And while I did eat out MANY times this week, the meals worth reporting came during my weekend in Chicago. The first night of Hanukkah was celebrated with an assortment of dishes from Maggiano’s restaurant ( – one of my all time favorites (special thanks to Hector). And for my trip home, thanks to my big bro, I got to bring back some Chicago-style pizza from Edwardo’s (

While attending two wine events in the same week was hard, I am a little sad that all classes are pretty much on hiatus with the holidays. On the bright side, there are more classes coming up in January that I’ve already signed up for!!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

St. Louis Cellars holiday celebration!

After taking some time off for the Thanksgiving holiday, I am back at it this week with two classes in the same week! I will briefly mention that I ate quite well in Chicago thanks to my family: Local ale house the first night, another delicious turkey dinner by my bro and sister-in-law, and then finished up with a fine meal at a Greek restaurant in the city, called Parthenon ( Each of those places and meals probably deserve their own blog post too. But even blogs need vacation time....

Anyway, tonight I attended my 2nd event at the St. Louis Cellars Wine Club (, which of course makes me an expert by now. Unfortunately, I could not get there right at 5pm so I had to endure the brunt of the crowds that ran pretty thick for the first hour I was there. But I have definitely learned to go with the flow and being polite helps. Grab food while the wine lines are long and that way you'll have a snack while you wait. Make sure you get in the correct line for whites or reds (only two people serving). White wine lines are busiest early in the night while the red wine lines get busier later.

Again, I got to try 4 whites and 4 reds and all the wines were under $20. The Blue Christmas wines were featured (Elvis on the label) as the first (a champagne) and the last (Cabernet Sauvignon) wines of the evening.

My favorite of the whites was the Relax Riesling. I think this was one of the very first Rieslings I ever tasted and it is still among my all time favorites. I felt foolish taking a tasting because I knew I would love it. It definitely outshined the other whites, which included a blend and a Chardonnay. My personal rule of thumb is when picking out a Riesling from a restaurant wine list, always pick the German version. You can't go wrong. Not too sweet, not too dry.

As for the reds, I thought the Meditrina blend was very smooth but my favorite, as usual, was the Beach Dog Cabernet Sauvignon. Cabs are definitely becoming more and more my favorite red wine...I am assuming it is low in tannins?

Before I list out all the wines, let me rave about the food once again this month. I wish they had a list of the foods being offered as well because I've already forgotten the homemade potato chip brand that was offered. I know you can get them at the Wine Merchant too.

Anyway, they had a few familiar favorites from last month: sautéed mushrooms, red pepper hummus, and tortilla chips. New this month were the coconut chicken paired with a peanut dipping sauce, shrimp and cocktail sauce, and French bread topped with olive pate, tomato, and prosciutto.

And for dessert: Several types of cookies, lemon bars with a cream topping, and samples of Mom's Original (, provided by Taran herself! I met Taran on Twitter and those that know me know that I try to support my friend's (women-owned) businesses. You can also follow them at They are homemade pretzels covered in a variety of chocolate toppings. They make for great Christmas gifts!!

Here's the lineup:
Blue Christmas - Brut Champagne - California - $19.99
*Relax - Riesling - Mosel, Germany - $10.99
Evolution - White Blend - Dundee, Oregon - $19.99
Novellum - Chardonnay - Languedoc, France - $13.99
Indian Creek Christmas Tree- Sweet White & Sweet Red Wines - Augusta, MO - $19.99
Meditrina - Syra/Pinot Noir/ Zinfandel - Oregon - $19.99
*Beach Dog - Cabernet Sauvignon - Napa Valley, California - $8.99
Blue Christmas - Cabernet Sauvignon - Napa Valley, California - $19.99