Tag: wine

How Champagne is Made in France: The Traditional Champenoise Method


“Come quickly, I am tasting the stars!” -Dom Perignon

I had the opportunity to spend a week in the Champagne region of France this spring for the International Wine and Tourism Conference. I have been to France before, but never to the Champagne region, and can I tell you how magically beautiful this area of the world is? If you haven’t been and are planning to travel abroad soon, please try to work Champagne into your itinerary. If you have any questions to that end, please leave me a comment!

Looking out over the Champagne region from Voiron-Jumel in Cramant, France. Voiron-Jumel is a Premiere Cru Champagne house.

But, let’s get into it! I know how wine is made, and I’ve had the pleasure of touring many wineries throughout the U.S. and Europe, but I had never focused on champagne-making. This was so much fun to see, and the process quite surprised me with its delicate yet complex nature.

Each champagne house has its own special recipe and process, but the steps which one takes to achieve champagne is essentially the same. First, I should point out a few minor overarching bits of information:

Glass of Bubbly at Dom Caudron

  • It is only called champagne when it comes from the Champagne region of France, everything else is sparkling wine or something different (i.e. Prosecco in Italy, Cava in Spain, etc.).
  • In France, champagne is comprised of any of the following varietals, and only these varietals: Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay. It can be a single varietal, but mostly, you will find blends.
  • Grape growth and location is governed by a strict set of laws and regulations.
  • Fun fact: When drinking champagne, a glass that is too clean will not show bubbles!


The Champenoise process begins at harvest, which is generally 100 days after the first bloom on the vine. The grapes are gathered and pressed, where the juice is run into large oak barrels, stainless steel vats, or even ceramic for the winter.

Traditional grape presses are used at Dom Caudron in Passy-Grigny France.
Traditional grape presses are used at Dom Caudron in Passy-Grigny France.

After the winter has passed, the juice has fermented into a young wine. The young wine is blended by the winemaker to achieve the optimal champagne flavor. My personal favorite is a blend of Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. This is called the first fermentation and creates the base wine. The result produces regular wine, it is simply not yet aged.

First fermentation at Veuve Cliquot. Grape juice is aged in oak barrels to produce the base wine.
First fermentation at Veuve Cliquot. Grape juice is aged in oak barrels to produce the base wine.
First fermentation. Base wine is aged in stainless steel at Voiron-Jumel in Cramant, France.
First fermentation. Base wine is aged in stainless steel at Voiron-Jumel in Cramant, France.
The Base wine is aged in ceramic vats at Gallimard in Les Riceys, France.
The Base wine is aged in ceramic vats at Gallimard in Les Riceys, France.

After the first fermentation, the blended wine is bottled. Yeast and sugar is added to aid in producing carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is a natural product of the chemical reaction that occurs when yeast turns sugar into alcohol.  When this chemical reaction occurs in a closed container, the carbon dioxide cannot escape, thus creating the luxurious bubbles! The amount of sugar added to the base wine, also called the dosage, is what determines whether a champagne is sweet or more dry, for example, dry, brut, extra brut, etc. Here’s a little cheat sheet for you the next time you go shopping for champagne!

Dosage Cheat Sheet

Once bottled with a metal cap, the wine begins the process of the second fermentation. French law requires that it ferment on lees (with yeast) for at least 15 months before it is available for sale.

Bottles aging at Veuve Clicquot in Reims, France.
Bottles aging at Veuve Clicquot in Reims, France.

During this second fermentation process, the bottles must undergo remuage or riddling. Riddling is the process by which the bottles are turned 1/4 turn every eight hours in order to move the yeast from the side of the bottle down into the neck to prepare for disgorgement. In some places, this is still done by hand with a remeur; however, the introduction of the gyropallet has transformed the riddling process. The gyropallet is a mechanical box that fits anywhere from 300 to 500 bottles for riddling mechanically. Currently, most wineries reserve manual riddling for their higher-end couture blends selected by the winemaker.

A riddler at work at Champagne Collet in Ay, France. A professional riddler can turn nearly 40,000 bottles in one day!
A riddler at work at Champagne Collet in Ay, France. A professional riddler can turn nearly 40,000 bottles in one day!

After the riddling process is complete, it is time for disgorgement. Disgorgement is where the remaining yeast and lees are removed from the bottle. This is generally done by placing the neck of the bottle in a freezing solution so that yeast and lees form a slush for easy removal. The pressure of the gas pops out the yeast and lees, leaving open space in the bottle. Once the solution is removed, a small amount of the original blended wine and sugar is placed back in the bottle and corked. The bottle may then continue to age or it is ready for retail sale. This is the portion of the process that really changes the price, and sometimes, quality of the champagne. More expensive champagnes are aged longer on the lees, whereas less expensive champagnes are aged at the minimum 15 months. In those instances, the base wine (the original blended grape juice) is almost always the exact same blend. It is the aging, riddling, and ultimate care that produces a cost differential.

This photo is taken of a demonstrative at Dom Caudron in Passy-Grigny, France. You can see the process of the lees moving from the side to the neck of the bottle just before disgorgement.
This photo is taken of a demonstrative at Dom Caudron in Passy-Grigny, France. You can see the process of the lees moving from the side to the neck of the bottle just before disgorgement.

It is after disgorgement and continued aging (should the winemaker choose to do so) that the bottles are then labeled and shipped to the open market for consumption.

And that is how champagne gets from the vine to your table!

Champagne at Champagne Collet in Ay, France.
Champagne at Champagne Collet in Ay, France.

Hope you enjoyed this post! Time for some bubbly!




Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • Pinterest

Jay Ducote: Baton Rouge’s Culinary Golden Boy Competes on Food Network Star Season 11

Jay Ducote, Finalist on Season 11 of Food Network Star. The show premieres this Sunday, June 7, at 9/8 central on the Food Network.
Jay Ducote, Finalist on Season 11 of Food Network Star. The show premieres this Sunday, June 7, at 9/8 central on the Food Network. Photo Courtesy of The Food Network, all rights reserved.

Jay Ducote is an expert hugger and a big teddy bear, but don’t underestimate his culinary chops. As a Baton Rouge local, Jay has been eating, drinking, and cooking with some of Louisiana’s finest ingredients for years. This Sunday, however, Jay will be competing on a stage far larger than he’s been on in the past. Jay is a contestant on Season 11 of Food Network Star on the Food Network.


If you’ve never seen the show, it’s a media-based culinary competition where contestants will be forced to undergo rigorous challenges; they are judged on their creativity, cooking abilities, as well as their on-camera charisma. The judges include the likes of Bobby Flay, Giada De Laurentiis, Duff Goldman, Sunny Anderson, and Richard Blais, and the ultimate winner of Food Network Star will receive his or her own cooking show on the Food Network. Past winners are now household names, such as, Guy Fieri, Aaron McCargo, Jr., Jeff Mauro, Melissa d’Arabian, and Justin Warner to name a few. So, basically, this is a big stage for Jay. I’ve watched Food Network Star for years, and am very excited to see a familiar face on screen.

Jay is rapidly taking over culinary media. He is currently the owner of the site BiteandBooze, a food and drink blog that highlights Louisiana food, wine, and spirits. He also does a radio show called Bite and Booze Radio Show where he discusses local food, bars, and events in the Baton Rouge area. If that weren’t enough to keep him busy, Jay is also coming up on the first anniversary of his barbecue sauce launch, called Jay D’s Louisiana Barbecue Sauce and has recently released a vintage of wine in connection with Landry Vineyards, a Blanc du Bois. I asked Jay how he has time to date with his busy schedule. He explained, “I find that these days it’s perhaps difficult to find time.” He’s been to several restaurants multiple times, so when he finds the time to date, he explains that he would rather help a lady choose a restaurant than to simply choose one he’s been to a dozen times. Jay says, “I’d rather help her pick somewhere unique for her.” And they say this breed of gentleman no longer exists? Pfffffttt. Jay is certainly keeping southern gentlemen proud.

Finalist Jay Ducote performs the Mentor Challenge, Introductory Videos, as seen on Food Network Star, Season 11. Photo Courtesy of the Food Network.
Finalist Jay Ducote performs the Mentor Challenge, Introductory Videos, as seen on Food Network Star, Season 11. Photo Courtesy of the Food Network.

In the past, Jay has appeared on Cutthroat Kitchen (also on the FoodNetwork) and Master Chef (which aired on Fox). We discussed how Food Network Star compared to his experience on Cutthroat Kitchen. He explained, “Cutthroat kitchen was definitely a different experience but I knew exactly what I was getting into in that there would be those kind of sabotages…With Food Network Star, I had no idea what to expect…But just being there and being in the moment and having to react so quickly on your feet to whatever the challenge might be was certainly intense and very challenging.”

Jay’s journey to becoming a contestant on Food Network Star began back when the show was casting for Season 10 in New Orleans. It didn’t work out at that time, so Jay wanted to try again for Season 11. However, he was unable to make it to the nearest casting session in Dallas. You can imagine with that infectious personality and radiating southern charm, The Food Network was still thinking about Jay after his Season 10 audition. When casting began for Season 11, Jay got a call from the Network, and he was able to audition via Skype interviews with producers. Ultimately, Jay landed his spot.

This season Jay will be serving up dishes to some of the world’s most visible chefs. Seeing as how Jay’s background is hunting, fishing, and tailgating, I cannot imagine how daunting it must have been to serve Grillmaster Bobby Flay something from the grill. Jay tells me, “I certainly felt some pressure to make sure that I delivered my food to Bobby specifically…and I make [my food] pretty spicy sometimes and so grilling and layers of flavor and levels of spice are certainly right up Bobby’s alley, so that’s good in that he likes those things, but it could be bad if I don’t do those right.” When I asked Jay if Bobby Flay liked what he was served, he said, “I guess you’ll have to tune in and find out.” Well, that’s exactly what we will be doing!

At the end of the day, Jay is a Louisiana Food Ambassador. It’s a title I think many would quickly bestow upon him as he represents the state well. Go watch him on Food Network Star with me! It premieres this Sunday, June 7 at 9/8C on the Food Network. If you want to get interactive with us, we will be at the viewing party at Jolie Pearl in downtown Baton Rouge watching it with Jay in the Town Square. Come join! If you can’t make it, we will be live tweeting, so make sure to use the hashtag #GeauxJay so we can see your tweets!


Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • Pinterest

The Perfect Wine and Cheese Pairings

Title Photo

Now that we’ve discussed how to construct the perfect cheese plate, it’s only natural to follow that up with the perfect wine and cheese pairings. First and foremost, wine and cheese pairings are always a personal preference, and I often play with different pairings just to see if I can find a better one than the last. With that said, be creative. For this post, I wanted to provide you with some general guidelines and a quick reference sheet for easy shopping. Feel free to print each of these charts, or choose the composite at the bottom to print all of them on one sheet.

Next, the general rule is that the bigger and stinkier the cheese, the bolder (and sometimes sweeter) the wine selection. On the other hand, the lighter the cheese, the lighter the wine. Nearly every single cheese pairs well with champagne, so if you are ever uncertain, that’s a great fall back plan.

Without any more chatter, let’s get started!

Melville Wine and Cheese
A demolished cheese plate my bestie and I devoured at Melville Winery in Santa Barbara, CA. We chose one of the Melville Chardonnays for this light-hearted cheese plate.


The Fresh Cheeses

This category encompasses the following cheeses: alouette, goat cheese (chevre), mozzarella, feta, burrata, etc. They are light and delicate, and as such, deserve a similar compliment. These fresh cheeses are quite versatile with pairings, so here is a quick reference guide for you. My favorite of these pairings is goat cheese with Chablis.

Fresh Cheese

The Soft-Ripened Cheeses

This category includes brie, camembert, triple creams, etc. The really yummy ones! These can range in flavor from buttery to nutty or earthy, so again, there’s a lot of versatility here in the pairings. Of these, my absolute favorite pairing is a triple creme with Provence Rose.

Soft Ripened Cheese

The Semi-Hard to Hard Cheese

This category includes gouda, cheddar, asiago, manchego, gruyere, etc. These have such a large range of flavor from soft and earthy to super hard and nutty. I love manchego with Alicante and/or Malbec!

Semi Hard Cheese

The Blue Cheeses

Blues always pair well with super sweet wines because they are a striking balance of powerfully sweet and powerfully strong (and sometimes stinky). I love a sweet wine with blue cheese because it really tastes like berries and cream on the palette, it’s that great of a pairing. Of these, I’d have to say my favorite is Danish Blue with late harvest Gewurztraminer.

Blue Cheese

I hope this has been helpful for you. If you want to print all of these in one document, see below.

Cheese Cheat Sheet Composite

Please let me know what your favorite pairing is! And if you try any on these sheets, please do tag me on instagram @BitterGlitterBlog or tweet me @_Bitter_Glitter!

Stay Glittery, Winos!




Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • Pinterest

Advice from a Bottle: Words of Dating Wisdom from Your Tipsy Friends

Advice in a Bottle Logo

Written by Candice Rodgers, Amanda Wicks, and Christine Halling

Welcome to the new series!! Here’s how it will progress: each installment will include a wine review and discussion of a dating topic from the perspective of the following scenario:

You and your friends have gotten together for drinks, and inevitably someone poses a dating question. Two bottles of wine changes the perspective…sometimes for the good, sometimes for the bad, but always for the funny. That’s where each post will begin.

There may be guest writers, co-writes, and group-writes throughout this series. I cannot promise you that we won’t be drinking wine when we write these. I hope you enjoy!


Caves du Fournalet Cotes du Rhone, $6. Available at Trader Joe's.
Caves du Fournalet Cotes du Rhone, $6. Available at Trader Joe’s.

This Cotes du Rhone by Caves du Fournalet (France) is a great drinking/table wine for the price. It’s only $6 at Trader Joe’s!!! It’s light, airy, and smooth, so it goes down the hatch easily. (You’ve been warned!) It’s a blend of Shiraz/Syrah, Grenache Noir, and Mourvedre. On the palate this has a lightly sweetened dark cherry and cinnamon spice (and everything nice) taste with hints of herbal citrus.  While it is a great drinking wine, it’s not the best for food-pairing. However, if you would like to try some pairings, I’d recommend it with beef, lamb, spicy foods, and/or hard cheeses. This is great wine to serve at dinner parties because the price point allows for the purchase of multiple bottles, and I’ve never met someone who didn’t love this one. Even if your guests are not big red wine drinkers, this could be a great introduction. Grab it. You’ll love it.


We’ve all been on that craptastic date where you can’t decide if you would rather eat the food in front of you or be the food in front of you. This topic just so happened to come up when a friend and I were chatting and drinking on the phone. Since we seem to be the only single ladies left in our group of friends, it turned into a pretty funny conversation. I know you probably don’t want dating advice from single people but, at the very least, it’s funny. So, join us. Our struggle is real.

I once went on a date that lasted nearly eight hours. I’m serious! WHO GOES ON AN 8 HOUR FIRST DATE??? WHO PLANS AN 8 HOUR FIRST DATE? I could go on about how preposterous this is, but I won’t. Going into it, I had no idea that it would be that long. The arranged plan seemed only to consist of about three to four hours, and I was genuinely looking forward to it. The guy was great – sweet, gentlemanly, intelligent, and humorous – but the chemistry wasn’t there for me, and I was getting clear vibes it was there for him. About four hours into the date, I began to get antsy because I felt like I was constantly (and nicely) thwarting off his very forward advances, and I felt awkward. I didn’t want to hurt his feelings or be rude because he was very much someone with whom I’d like to be friends. But it did not occur to me until the sixth hour that I could leave – like actually make up an excuse and leave the date. While this seems so elementary, I just never thought of it as a viable option. Eventually, in hour seven, I made an excuse that wrapped everything up so I could leave. Without it, I’m afraid I would still be on that date.

So, I posed this question to my girls and later on Facebook, and here are all the ways people have gotten out of a bad date:

Wine Consumption: 1 glass

  • If you’re not sure whether this date will go well or if you are meeting the guy for the first time, arrange to meet as individuals so you will have a vehicle at your disposal. It can be your vehicle or what I like to call a DDD (Designated Date Driver). Have a friend who is willing to rescue you at a moment’s notice to serve as your DDD. If those are not options for you, call a cab service and set it up for a specific time. You can always sneak to the bathroom and cancel your cab in the event the date goes well.
  • Pre-arrange a deadline or time frame within which you can meet. Try something along the lines of “I’d love to meet up with you, but I need to be somewhere at 9:00pm, so perhaps we could meet for 6:30 or 7:00pm?” If you know the date can only last an hour or two, you can see the end in sight.
  • Arrange to have a friend call or text you at intervals throughout the date to fake an emergency, giving you a good excuse to leave early without hurting anyone’s feelings. This could encompass anything from picking up your niece/nephew to a work situation.
  • Be honest. Tell the other person this isn’t going well for you. Offer to pay your portion of the bill (if there is one), and politely exit.
  • Feign illness, especially if your date is making you sick.
  • If you have kids, any excuse, even a tangentially kid-related excuse, should do the trick.
  • Have a friend miraculously be at the same place of your date, so she can crash the date upon a single “SOS” text.
  • If you have pets, you can use the excuse that you have to get home because you didn’t feed them, walk them, or your pet is recovering from surgery, etc.

Wine Consumption: 2-3 glasses

  • Immediately place yourself in the “friend zone” by offering to set him up with a friend.
  • Create a wardrobe malfunction. Break the heel off your shoe, break your bra strap, rip your pants or skirt, etc. This works as long as you aren’t wearing your favorite item, and you’ll get an instant out because you can’t very well walk or dance without a heel on your shoe. Am I right?
  • Be obnoxious so the other person leaves. I don’t recommend this one as it can come across childish and very passive-aggressive. Think à la Kate Hudson’s character in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. What’s his womanly weakness/hatred/pet peeve? Play that ish up.
  • Depending on how awful or offensive this date is, excuse yourself to the bathroom, find a compassionate waitress, pay your bill, call a cab, and slip out the back door – celebrity style. Let the waiter/waitress deliver the news. This one may only be suitable in extremely offensive/fearful circumstances.
  • Talk about your “cat,” and when I say “cat” I mean your seven cats. Hell, you may have even named them in honor of the seven dwarfs.

Wine Consumption: 4 glasses, AKA two bottles down!! Someone make a run to the store!

  • Just like in high school, you had to go home and clean up when you started your period. This works on dates too. The line, “I’m so sorry and this is insanely embarrassing, but I’ve just started my period and I really need to get home.” Guys hate period talk, so bring your best sincere grossness to the game.
  • Talk incessantly about your ex-boyfriend, especially how you plan to plot their demise. This is a fool-proof way to get this person super uninterested.
  • Use an app on your phone to create your future wedding photo, and talk incessantly about how much you NEED to be married.
  • Ask him/her to choose baby names with you. Oh yeah. And pick the most putrid names you can think of and be really passionate about them. Or the simpler version, gush about your friends’ babies like they are your own, because let’s face it they might as well be.
  • Show him/her your recent matches on Tinder, Match.com, or wherever you happen to be trolling for people to date. But wait, what if this particular date already swiped left on Tinder? AWWWK-ward.
  • Tell him/her how much you hate sex because sex brings up emotions and you’re “like a super emotional person, but totally in a good way.” Basically, as they told Lexi Grey on Grey’s Anatomy, “Your heart is in your vagina.” I bet money you’ll be in the next cab/car heading home.

Thank you to all my friends who have shared their stories with me for this post! Love you all. Special thanks to Amanda Wicks (please visit her site here) and Christine Halling for their fabulous additions/edits to this post. Have you ever used any of these to get out of a bad date? If so, tell us about it in the comments! We’d love to hear your stories too!

Stay Glittery!



Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • Pinterest

Wino Wednesday: BASICS

I haven’t done a Wino Wednesday post in a while due to my travel schedule, so today I thought we could do a little basic crash course. These small bits of information will help you at a tasting, at a restaurant, learning your own palate, and purchasing at a grocery store.


Let’s start with a little basic terminology. Just learning these few words will help you in feeling more confident with the wine vernacular in multiple settings.

Acidity — Acidity refers to potency of the acids used in the fermenting process. A good wine will have a balanced acidity; balanced with the other aspects of the wine such as the tannins. Acidity is generally that “bite” you feel in the back of the mouth which is followed by the stimulation of the saliva glands. I personally find that white wines have a higher acidity to recognize, especially when I was beginning my wine journey.

Body — The body of the wine is the “weight” of the wine. Is it light? watery? medium? full? or any combination of those? A lighter wine may have the effect of cleansing or awakening the palate, whereas a full-bodied wine will have the feeling of coating or deadening the palate.

Old World vs. New World — When people refer to “Old World” wines, they are generally referring to wines made in Europe; whereas “New World” refers to wines made in the United States, South America, New Zealand, Australia, or South Africa. Old and New World wines have distinct characteristics simply based on their geographic locations and wine-making styles.

Oxidation — When a wine is exposed to oxygen during the wine-making process, any phase of production, in storage, and once opened, a chemical reaction occurs that can ruin the wine.

Tannins — Tannins are present in a wine because they come from the polymers found in the seeds, stems, and skins of the grapes which are transferred into the wine during the wine-making process. They lend richness and density, and are necessary for proper aging, especially in red wines. On your palate, tannins give you that “tongue sticking to the top of your mouth” feel, much like when you feed your dog a tablespoon of peanut butter.

Terroir — This is a French word that refers to the complex relationship between the climate and the soil type in which the grape(s) is grown. The specific and unique relationship between climate, soil type, hydration, drainage, etc. is what gives each wine from a specific location its unique character.

Varietal — A varietal is simply a specific type of grape. For example, Chardonnay is a single grape grown to make Chardonnay wine, so this would also be an example of a single varietal. Thus, a blend, will feature many different varietals.

Varietal Character — This is the term given to the unique characteristics commonly found in a single varietal, and encompasses odor, taste, and viscosity.

Vintage — The year the grape was harvested.


Everyone’s palate is different, but the nasal passages and the taste buds are very interconnected. The best advice I’ve ever received about tasting wine was this:

  • Practice. You’ll always get better with practice, and your palate will learn to differentiate between minute details in wine over time. So, that’s basically an invitation for me to drink more wine. Cool!
  • Test yourself. Open your spice cabinet and blindfold yourself. Smell what spices you have on hand and see if you can identify them blindfolded. This will help you distinguish certain aromas that are characteristic of specific wines, so that when you are tasting, for example, you’ll be able to easily distinguish between Old World and New World wines.

Appearance — how a wine appears in the glass should be a clue as to its quality and taste. It should be true to the varietal and inviting.

Smell/Aroma — Smell the wine before and after you swirl it in the glass. Swirl it gently to bring oxygen into the wine to “open” it up, this is called “aerating” the wine. Take deep breaths and make notes as to what you smell. There are no right and wrong terms, but there are common terms used. For example, a Chardonnay may smell like green apples, whereas a Pinot Noir will smell of bright red berries; and a Sauvignon Blanc will smell of green herbs and minerals. The great distinction in smell alone between Old World and New World wines is that Old World wines, especially red ones, tend to smell like wet mud on first sniff.

Aroma vs. Bouquet — Aroma generally refers to the primary smell of a young wine, whereas the Bouquet refers to the tertiary smell of an aged wine after the alcohol, enzymes, and acids within the wine have had time to “mingle” in both the cask and after bottling.

The initial taste of the wine is commonly called “the attack,” and is usually what you taste for the first three to five seconds of the sip. It encompasses how powerful the wine is, and its first impression, so to speak. Then, as the wine stays longer in the mouth, it moves to the “middle palate” where the wine’s complexity begins to showcase itself and the senses begin to become more obvious to the taster. The last part is called “the finish,” which refers to the aftertaste of the wine and how long certain flavors linger and/or disappear.


Wine tasting is a purely sensory experience, so isolating your senses of smell, taste, and feel is helpful in wine tasting scenarios. Sometimes, isolating these and identifying them separately can be hard, but it just takes practice.

At a tasting you should expect the following:

  • good lighting (day time is preferable), comfortable temperature, and a well-ventilated space free from distracting smells/aromas
  • Clean, clear glassware specific to each wine you will be tasting. If you are provided one glass for a tasting of six wines, it is perfectly acceptable to ask for a clean glass, especially when going between champagne, rosé, white, and red wines.
  • Spittoons are very common, and can range from large buckets to individual paper cups. The more you drink, the less your palate functions for the next wine. Therefore, in formal tasting spitting is very common and encouraged.
  • Water for clearing the palate between wines.
  • Proper service, which includes well educated servers, cork screws, white napkins, etc.
  • Tasting Mats and/or Note Sheets are almost often provided. In a more formal tasting, you will expect a tasting mat, which showcases small circles corresponding to each wine you will be tasting. A separate sheet of paper to make your notes on aroma, taste, feel, and overall impression of the wine is almost always provided. I think the only time I have not been provided a tasting sheet is as a walk-in (or non-private tasting) at a tasting room at a vineyard and/or winery.
  • Sometimes you will also receive promotional materials describing each wine and its retail price should you decide to purchase.
  • Bread and/or crackers with little seasoning to aid in cleansing the palate between each wine.


  • Chardonnay — grows all over the world
  • Sauvignon Blanc — grows in France, United States (California), New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, and Chile
  • Riesling – grows in Germany, France, Austria, United States (California and Washington), Australia
  • Gewurtzraminer — grows in France, Germany, Austria, Italy, United States (California), and Canada
  • Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio — grows in Italy, France, Germany, United States (Oregon and California), Australia, and New Zealand
  • Viogner — grows in France, United States, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, and South Africa


  • Cabernet Sauvignon — grows all over the world
  • Merlot — grows in France, Italy, Austria, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Moldoova, Switzerland, United States (California and Washington), Australia, and New Zealand
  • Pinot Noir — grows in France (Burgundy and Champagne), Germany, Austria, Italy (Pinot Nero), Switzerland, United States (California, Oregon, and New York), Chile, New Zealand, Australia
  • Syrah/Shiraz — Syrah is the Old World name for this varietal, and Shiraz is the New World name for it. Grows in Australia, France (Rhone Valley and Languedoc), Switzerland, Greece, Spain, United States (Washington and California)
  • Zinfandel — grows in the United States (California), Italy
  • Grenache — grows in France (Rhone Valley), Australia, United States (California)
  • Cabernet Franc — grows in France
  • Sangiovese — Grows in Italy (the grape used to compose the majority of Chianti)
  • Tempranillo — grows in Spain, Portugal (Tinto Roriz), California, and Australia
  • Malbec — grows in France, Argentina

I hope you have enjoyed this little basics run down. I would love to hear your thoughts on which are your favorites! I’m a Pinot Noir girl at heart, and I cannot get enough of it no matter where it’s grown! My favorites tend to come from Burgundy, France; California, and the Willamette Valley in Oregon. But, I’ve been on a Tempranillo kick lately!!

If you’re interested in a specific varietal spotlight, let me know in the comments!!

Stay Glittery, Winos!




Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • Pinterest

Wino Wednesday: Tierras Guindas Tinta de Toro 2011 Review


Hello everyone! It’s Wino Wednesday, so let’s talk about a new wine I’m trying out.

The Basics

Tierra Guindas Tinta de Toro 2011 $7.99
Tierra Guindas Tinta de Toro 2011 $7.99


Name: Tierras Guindas Tinta de Toro

Vintage: 2011

Varietal: 100% Tinta de Toro (aka Tempranillo)

Wine type: Red

Country: Spain

Region: Toro (Northwestern Spain near the Portuguese border)

Aging: 100% French Oak

Price: $7.99

Tasting Notes

On the Nose: mixed berry, including blackberry, raspberry, plum, and cherry; slight light rose floral; fig; earth (wet mud); pink peppercorn; black pepper

On the Palate: Slightly floral; definite spice, raspberry and plum; noticeable but light tannins; noticeable but light acidity; light and viscous

Review and Info

Tierra Guindas Tinta de Toro 2011 Beautiful velvety crimson color
Tierra Guindas Tinta de Toro 2011
Beautiful velvety crimson color


This wine comes from the Tinta de Toro grape, also known as the Tempranillo grape. This is interesting because the people of Toro have great pride in their wine and insist that Tempranillo and Tinta de Toro are not one in the same. From all the research I’ve done, it appears that this distinction brings great controversy among the winos of the world. To be honest, I think I have to agree more with the people of Toro. Tempranillo, by contrast, feels heavier and more robust, whereas this wine is large in flavor but delicate in texture and on the tongue.

There is a local proverb in Toro, “Tomando vino de Toro, mas que comer de voro” which translates to “Drinking Toro wines is more devouring than eating.” Okay, I like these people. A lot. These are my kind of people.

The Toro region lies in the Duero River Valley region with the Cordillera Cantabrica Mountains and the Bay of Biscay to the North; the Atlantic Ocean to the West; and the Central Mountains to the South. The Duero River splits the region into two: North and South of the River. This means that the area North of the river experiences a slightly higher elevation, and as a result, colder night-time temperatures than its Southern counterpart. The higher elevation and colder temperatures are great for producing some of the finest Tempranillo grapes, as the colder temperatures allow the grape to ripen slowly, which is great for red wines. It’s Southern counterpart experiences a lower elevation and slightly higher temperatures which makes is more suited to white wine grapes.

This is a very cool wine. It is very drinkable on its own, and something I could easily serve to

Tierra Guindas Tinta de Toro 2011 You can see here how light and thin it looks.
Tierra Guindas Tinta de Toro 2011
You can see here how light and thin it looks.

guests for a cocktail hour. The light viscosity makes it feel like a Pinot Noir in some ways, but the Tinta de Toro contains much more dimension than a Pinot. It’s level of spicy, sweet, fruit, floral confusion is really quite fun. One second you are tasting the peppery spice, and in the next sip it’s like raspberries, figs and plums had a sugarplum dance in your mouth. And, at $7.99/bottle, I say WINNER!! I’ve mentioned in my previous post that I like to keep the wine under $15/bottle during the week, so this one is definitely on the weekly “can purchase” list.

The only drawback to this grape is that it tends to oxidize fairly quickly. If you open the bottle, seal it tightly or share it with friends. It’ll go bad in two days if not sealed properly.

Pairing this Wine with Food

When I began thinking about what I would pair this with, I was at quite a loss. My first thought was a nice Risotto, but I think that wouldn’t really showcase either the wine or the food well. However, a herb-encrusted lamb dish would be incredible with this wine. Not cooking lamb anytime soon? No worries, I also think a really well made cheeseburger would go well with this too. And, now that I’ve had a glass, I really want lamb and a cheeseburger.

Bitter Glitter Rating

3 stars (out of 5)


Let me know if you get a chance to try this wine! I’d love to hear what you think about it!

Stay Glittery, Winos!



Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • Pinterest

Food & Wine Glitter: Louisiana Duck Gumbo and Wine Pairing


Gumbo is a delectable fall/winter-time dish commonly served in South Louisiana. The word Gumbo itself stems from the African influence and the Creole culture. I’m from South Louisiana, so for those of you who aren’t, Gumbo is basically a really delicious soup served over rice that can be made with seafood, wild game, or chicken combined with andouille sausage.

Pairing a wine with a soup can be confusing. Most of you have probably heard the old adage “red sauce = red wine; white sauce = white wine; dark meat = red wine; and light meat/fish = white wine,” but this isn’t always the case! Because gumbo can be made with different types of protein, you want to take into account the protein you are using. Last night, I made a chicken, duck, and andouille sausage gumbo, which is a light meat (chicken) paired with a darker meat (duck), so that old adage won’t work if we are trying to stick to it religiously. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great rule of thumb if you are just getting into wine and are worried about what to serve your guests. However, I also realize that many people are solely white wine drinkers or solely red wine drinkers, so I’m going to give you some great pairings, both red and white!


Joel Gott Unoaked Chardonnay
Joel Gott Unoaked Chardonnay


White wine with gumbo is a FANTASTIC pairing because gumbo tends to be spicy. The heat and spice is well balanced by a dry white wine. This is because the acidity level in the white wine balances the spice and intensity of the heat you find in gumbo. Acidity is that “bite” or stimulation of the salivation glands; when you suck in, you need water and your tongue kind of puckers up like you’re devouring a handful of Sour Patch Kids candy. To balance that acidity, I would recommend sticking with a dry or drier white such as:

  • Alsace Reisling (France)
  • Gewurtzaminer (Germany)
  • Viogner (France)
  • Chenin Blanc (France)
  • Fumé Blanc (France)
  • Unoaked Chardonnay (California, Oregon, or France) (the higher the altitude, the better, i.e. St. Helena, CA)


Moises Mes Amis Pinot Noir
Moises Mes Amis Pinot Noir


Red wine can be equally fantastic with gumbo, but BE CAREFUL here!!! You DO NOT want a big full bodied red wine because it will overpower the delicate flavors of gumbo. If you have delicate flavors, you’ll need a delicate wine, so steer clear of a Cabernet Sauvignon. So, if you are exclusively a red wine drinker, you’ll want to choose a light to medium bodied red, which should land you in the Pinot Noir section of the wine store. A lighter bodied red is good here because it has fewer tannins. Tannins usually come from the skin of the grape during the wine making process, and will generally give you the “tongue sticking to the top of your mouth” feeling (like when you feed your dog peanut butter). Tannins produce the darker flavors in a red wine such as a “nutty flavor” or a “dark chocolate,” “cinnamon,” or “clove” flavor. So, for red wine, keep it light and try one of these:

  • Pinot Noir (Oregon’s Willamette Valley has my favorites!! My all time favorite Pinot Noir is Moises Pinot Noir from Oregon. The winemaker is a New Orleans native, and I have taken a wine class from him. He’s fantastic! His wine is SO SO SO delicious!!!)
  • Chateauneuf du Pape (France) (this is a blend, generally 13 grapes you’ve probably never heard of. If you love red blends, this is a great choice for you.)
  • Pinotage (South Africa) (this is a cross between the Pinot Noir grape and the Cinsault grape)
  • Grenache or Grenache Blend/aka Côte du Rhone (France) or Garnacha (Spain)


If you’re feeling really daring, you can also try a Rosé. If you’ve never tried Rosé or are serving guests, this is not the time to start experimenting with a new wine. But, if you want to hit the ground running, go for it! Rosé is one of my absolute favorite wines, and ANY one from Provence, France or made in the Provence style is a hands down winner. If you’re interested in going this route, stick to French Rosé, and look on the bottle for “Provence.” If you find a Rosé from California, look on the bottle for “Provence Style Rosé.” It’ll be dry, not sweet, but it will provide the same effect as the white wine with a great balance. Nonetheless, seeing as how gumbo is more of a fall/winter-time dish, I think sticking with a white or red is your best bet, especially if you are serving guests. You don’t want to present your guests with a wine they’ve never tried and risk feeling like a less-than-proper hostess.


Joel Gott Unoaked Chardonnay
Joel Gott Unoaked Chardonnay


During the week, I try to keep the wine under $15/bottle. I was feeling more keen on white wine last night, so I went with the Joel Gott Unoaked Chardonnay from Sonoma, California (available at your local grocery store). This is an affordable choice at $13, and pretty damn good! It’s drinkable on its own, but great paired with gumbo. The “unoaked” part simply means that it is not aged in oak barrels, so you won’t get that big thick “buttery” flavor that often accompanies most Napa Chardonnays. Instead, the wine is aged in stainless steel which is going to impart a more “mineral-y” feel to it, which is a super win for my palate!

I’d leave you with a gumbo recipe, but I don’t cook with strict recipes. I usually just call my momma and say, “okay, what next?” If you’re interested in a great recipe, I’ll find one for you. Leave a comment, say hello, and/or let me know if you have any questions.

Now, go eat your GUMBO and drink some WINE!!!

Stay Glittery Winos!



Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • Pinterest