Central Coast Wine Insider Blog

Champagne Cocktails: A Festive way to Dress up your Bubbly!

Champagne Cocktails: A Festive way to Dress up your Bubbly!

champagne cocktail2An LBD for your Champagne!

 

Die hard champagne enthusiasts may consider us sacrilege to add other ingredients to such a beautiful wine, but here at Breakaway Tours, we just love to experiment. Including champagne in a recipe can make a great cocktail really spectacular, especially around the Holidays. After all, you shouldn’t be the only one dressing up for those amazing parties. Let your favorite sparkling wine in on the action!

Champagne is a sparkling wine of great distinction – turning any occasion into something a little more special. There are various styles of champagne: for example Brut (very dry) and Demi Sec (sweeter) as well as vintage (made from grapes of one specific year) and non vintage (grapes from blends produced in various years). To earn the right to have the word champagne on the bottle label however, the liquid inside must be entirely produced from Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir grapes grown in the Champagne region of Northern France around the cities of Reims and Epernay. The champagne producers guard their exclusive name vigorously and have in the past been to court to protect it as in 1993 when they went into battle to prevent the Yves Saint Laurent company producing a perfume called “Champagne” and won their case. It is one of the few “white wines” in the world produced from red grapes – due to the way they are gently pressed so as not to bruise the champ cocktail3skins. There are also extraordinarily strict limits on the amount of juice that can be squeezed from a certain weight of grapes to maintain the highest quality of champagne produced.

Here we have selected a few of our favorite champagne cocktails for you to try out – we hope you enjoy making them. If champagne isn’t your cup of tea, feel free to use Prosecco, Cava, or your favorite California Sparkling Wine for the occasion. We recommend: Laetitia Vineyards’ NV Brut Cuvee $25, or Vina Robles Sparkling Brut NV $23. Serve all champagne/sparkling cocktails in a flute glass which allows the bubbles to move from the bottom to the top of the glass. The more space the bubbles have to move around in within the glass, the longer it will keep its fizz!

Classic Champagne Cocktail

Known as the ‘Classic Champagne Cocktail’, this libation is thought to have first originated from the winner of a New York Cocktail competition in 1899. A unique combination of ingredients – you’ll be surprised by the result. Drip 4 dashes of Angostura Bitters on a sugar cube and place in the bottom of a champagne flute. Cover the cube with cognac and top up with champagne. Perhaps what seems most strange is that as you drink it the flavor changes from dry to sweet as the sugar cube slowly dissolves.

champagne cocktail1Champagne Charlie

This cocktail recipe is believed to have been named in tribute to the original ‘Champagne Charlie’ himself – Monsieur Charles-Camille Heidsieck who first launched the champagne brand bearing his name in 1851. Through his extensive travelling around the world to promote his champagne, he became well known for his charm and his adventures. This cocktail recipe is a fruity combination of Apricot Brandy topped up with champagne.

Emma Peel

A blend of Cherry Brandy and pineapple juice and yes you’ve guessed it – topped up with champagne. The Cherry Brandy and pineapple juice mix together to make a dusky pink colour and give it an exotic fruity tang. We think it’s just like it’s namesake Emma Peel , the British spy from the 60’s classic TV romp, The Avengers!

The Kir Royale

Perhaps one of the best known champagne cocktail recipes is the Kir Royale. Named for it’s inventor Felix Kir, mayor of Dijon in post-war France. It consists of a measure of  Crème de Cassis in a flute glass topped with champagne for a subtle pink hued cocktail.


Wine Cork Crafts for the Holidays!

Upcycle those wine corks for amazing Holiday Décor!

With the Holiday Season in full swing, the timing is perfect for an amazing day in wine country with Breakaway Tours! Whether you use the trip as a way to find the perfect bottle of wine for that festive gathering you have on your calendar, you decide to take your Holiday Party on the road (no cleanup-yay!), or you simply want to escape the chaos of shopping and baking with a special someone, we have you covered!

It’s no secret that we love wine! We love tasting it, talking about it, drinking it, and remembering that special sip long after the glass is empty. But how can you treasure the memory of that amazing bottle you bought on your wine tasting trek with Breakaway AND get into the Holiday? We’re so glad you asked!

Here are some amazing DIY projects to help you turn wine corks into wreaths, jewelry, and ornaments that will impress your friends and make your home feel Merry and Bright:

Wine Cork Knives

Wine Cork Knives

Wine Cork Cheese and Canape Knives

What goes better with wine than cheese and canapes? We cant wait to use these quirky cutters at our next Coaktail Party. To make them yourself, follow the link HERE. And be sure to invite us!

 

 

Wine Cork Stamps

Wine Cork Stamps

Wine Cork Stamps

We love the versatility of these cool Cork Stamps. Whether you use them to decorate wrapping paper, or to seal your holiday cards with a flourish, they are sure to make an impression. Fun for kids and adults – just make sure you leave the cutting to the adults.

 

 

Wine Cork Pendant

Wine Cork Pendant

Wine Cork Pendants

What do you get for the wine loving gal who has everything wine-related? A custom made wine cork necklace. With a few items from your local craft store, you can easily upcycle that cork into the statement necklace of the season. Check it out HERE

 

 

Wine Cork Wreaths

Wine Cork Wreath

Wine Cork Wreath

Greet your guests in style with this Wine Cork Wreath! Some hot glue gun and a wreath frame, and you’re in business. Warning: this one requires more than a few corks, so you may have to enlist the help of some friends…or simple drink more wine yourself!

 

 

Wine Cork Ornament

Wine Cork Ornament

Wine Cork Ornaments

Have a few corks laying around? Looking for a way to gussy up your tree this year? HERE are some whimsical ideas on how to kill two birds with one stone and feel like a vino-inspired Martha Stewart in the process.


The Shape of Things – which is the best Wine Glass?

Your WINE GLASS really can make a big difference in how your wine tastes!various shaped wine glass stemware

In principle, you can use anything to drink wine out of and depending on the situation, the vessel you employ to help the nectar reach your lips may not make much difference. But enthusiasts will tell you, you should pick your wine glass with care and attention; the more care you give to buying and tasting wine, the more care you should give to having the right wine glass, just ask Riedel Glassware.

Wine Glass Best Color

Although the color of a wine glass seems like it should be irrelevant to how wine tastes, it does impact how the wine appears when you look at it. Because proper enjoyment of wine begins with appreciating the wine’s appearance. To understand its color, clarity, and consistency, then we need a wine glass that doesn’t  alter the wine’s color.

What this means is that some of the most visually appealing wine glasses are also some of the worst wine glasses for wine tasting. Colored glasses will completely alter the wine’s color. Etched glasses or glasses with any sort of pattern will interfere with your ability to get an accurate picture of what the wine looks like. Angles around the wine glass aren’t quite as bad, but they should also be avoided for the same reasons. The best glasses for tasting wine are therefore completely clear, round glasses — wine glasses with no coloring, no designs, not angles, and no patterns. Plain, boring wine glasses are the best wine glasses.

Wine Glass Best Material

Although it might seem like nothing more than an excuse for snobbery, experience has shown over and over that higher quality glasses can have a big impact on how wine tastes. Apparently, it’s possible for the exact same wine to taste completely different to people if simply served in wine glasses made from different material.

No one has been able to determine if this is merely a matter of aesthetics or if there is an actual physical reaction between wine and quality glass that doesn’t occur with wine and plastic or wine and lower quality glass. The best explanation offered so far is that crystal is rougher than regular glass and this roughness creates turbulence in the wine which, in turn, causes more of the aromatic compounds in the wine to be released.

You may need to use plastic glasses in some situations, like picnics, but otherwise you want to stick with genuine glass — and, preferably, higher quality crystal glasses if possible. You want to avoid lead crystal, though, because research has shown that wine can leech the lead out of the glass very quickly. Lead crystal glass is especially ill-suited for decanters and other containers which will hold wine for any length of time.

Although you will certainly have a better wine tasting experience with the highest quality, thin crystal glasses, they probably cost too much for most consumers — and that’s before taking into account that their fragility almost guarantees that they will break regularly.

Fortunately, you can find good, quality wine glasses at reasonable prices — and this includes crystal glasses as well. They’ll cost more than the average drinking glass and even more than wine glasses at discount retailers, but it’s worth a little extra expense to get the most out of every bottle. You should be prepared to spend around $50 per dozen for standard glasses and perhaps $75 per dozen for crystal glasses. If you’re looking for the best wine glasses, though, you’ll be spending between $50 and $100 each.

Wine Glass Best Thickness

It’s a lot easier to appreciate what your wine looks like if you use thin glasses. Even if the qualify of the crystal is very good, there’s no avoiding the fact that a thicker wine glass creates distortions which will impact what you see when looking for color and clarity. The thinner the glass, the less you’ll have between you and your new best friend.

Additionally, thinner glass helps create a finer stream of wine to run across the taste buds on your tongue. A finer stream means more mixing with the air in your mouth and also interacting with your taste buds. Taken together, these factors ensure that you’ll get the most out of what you’re drinking.

Wine Glass Best Size

Yes, even the size of the wine glass plays an important role in what your wine tastes like. Whatever you’re drinking, don’t use small glasses. You want larger glasses because you want to be able to only fill them a third to half way and still have room to swirl. If you try to do this with a small wine glass, you’ll barely have a sip to drink before having to refill. Small glasses should be used only for sherry, port, and desert wines.

That said, you ideally need larger glasses for reds than you do for whites. Reds are best served in glasses that are 12 to 16 ounces, though you can get them as large as 24 ounces. Whites are best served in glasses that are 10 to 12 ounces. Because few people can afford good crystal glasses for every sort of wine, most compromise. You can manage well with most varietals by using a wine glass around 12 ounces.

stemless wine glassesStem Glasses vs. Stemless Glasses

Stemless tumblers have become very popular in recent years and there is no denying that they can look very nice. However, there are good reasons to avoid them if you want to get the most out of your tasting experience — as opposed to simply wanting to look hip and stylish.

Stemless wine glass forces you to hold the glass by the bowl which creates two basic problems. First, the warmth of your hand will heat up the wine, changing its temperature. Your body is around 98.6 degrees F. Wine is best served around 55 degrees depending on the varietal. Do the math. No bueno. Wine glasses have stems not for the sake of looking elegant, but precisely so you can hold them by the stem. This ensures that the heat of your hand isn’t transferred and keeps the glass bowl from being smudged.

Wine Glass – Best Shapes

Although the material, color, size, and thickness of  your wine glass is all important, the single most important aspect of a proper wine glass is its shape. Different wines require different sorts of shapes to best appreciate the varietals flavor.


Holiday Wine Pairing Inspiration

You have slaved away for days to create the perfect Holiday meal. The sweat, the tears, the last minute runs to the market because you apparently *don’t* have baking powder in your cupboard. Now what? Wine, of course! The good news is that this may be the easiest part of your Holiday celebration. Follow these helpful hints and suggestions for pairing your most delicious dishes with their perfect adult-beverage companions. And don’t worry – we won’t revoke your foodie card for going off the grid and bucking tradition. You will find no rules here, only a world of possibilities!


THE HEADLINERS

Ham & Pinot NoirPinot Noir wine pairs with Ham

Every Thanksgiving my dad cooks a ham. It is magical. It is basted in sugar and spice and everything that is good about the world. My favorite wine to pair with this ham is an Edna Valley Pinot Noir. Edna’s Pinots tend to be spicy and berry-rich, and light on tannins. A great partner for ham. Try pairing with Baileyana Winery’s Halcon Rojo Pinot Noir/ $33

Viognier wine pairs with turkeyTurkey & Viognier

The star of the Holidays, this roasted bird is succulent, rich and delicious. It lords over the rest of the table like Brando in The Godfather, making our taste buds an offer they can’t refuse. Traditionally paired with Chardonnay, I think its time we switch it up a bit and set Turkey up on a little date with my good friend Viognier. California is producing some amazing Vio’s these days:  complex with hints of stone fruit, honey and minerals. Try pairing with Jaffurs Bien Nacido Viognier / $27

Don’t hesitate to switch these two wines up, yummy either way!


THE BACKUP DANCERS

Brussels Sproutsb & Dry ReislingDry Riesling wine pairs with brussel sprouts

I prefer mine roasted and crispy, with bacon, onions and toasted nuts. However you prepare them, these green machines are packed with flavor and just a hint of sweetness. I love a great Dry Reisling with some good acid and maybe a hint of effervescence. Try pairing with Claiborne & Churchill Winery Dry Reisling/ $22

zinfandel wine pairs with sweet potatoesSweet Potatoes & Zinfandel

Paso Robles Zinfandels are a natural for this earthy yet sweet root. The moderate tannins and deep fruity flavors of zinfandel hold up well in this duo. Try pairing with Shale Oak Winery’s Zinfandel/ $45

 


THE BREAKOUT STARS

Quinoa Stuffing & Grenache RoseGrenache rose wine pairs with Quinoa stuffing

For those eschewing gluten for any reason, quinoa stuffing is a scrumptious alternative to bread based stuffings. For this particular dish I love a Grenache Rosé. It has enough sweetness to bring out the richness in the grain, but also balances with bright acid and fruit.  Try paining with Sextant Winery’s Grenache Rose/ $21

Teroldego wine pairs with celery rootCelery Root Puree & Teroldego, 2 standards to be sure!

Ok, so you probably didn’t grow up with Celery Root around your Holiday table, but there’s no reason not to invite this amazing side dish to this year’s festivities! What’s it taste like, you ask? It tastes like celery, yet heartier and earthier. It tastes like earthy Autumn. Because of the depth of the flavor here (did I say earthy enough?) Try pairing with Wolff Vineyards Teroldego/ $29. This wine matches the Celery Root step for step, bringing notes of forest fruit and black minerality.


Thanksgiving table in wine countrySo, when you gather round with family and friends this Holiday season, enjoying your sister Hilary’s perfect mashed potatoes, or Uncle David’s classic Banana Cream Confection, you can start a new tradition: Bringing that incredible bottle of wine that everyone will still be talking about come New Year’s.  Grab a bottle of wine listed above – you can do it without ever breaking a sweat or the bank! Drink up and let us know your thoughts, Gobble Gobble!


Hot Topic: Stem vs. Stemless glassware

Stemmed Wine Glasses vs. Stemless Glasswarestemless

Stemless wine tumblers have become very popular in recent years and there is no denying the aesthetic appeal of their design. Not to mention the countless times I’ve knocked over my top-heavy glass of vino while reaching for something across the table. However, there are good reasons to avoid them if you want to get the most out of your wine drinking experience — So, what’s more important – that perfect sip or looking hip and stylish? Ahhh….decisions.

Stemless glasses force you to hold the glass by the bowl which creates a very basic problem. First, the warmth of your hand will heat up the wine, changing its temperature. Your body is around 98.6 degrees F. Wine is best served stem glassesbetween 40- 55 degrees F depending on the varietal. Glass transfers heat very well. Do the math. No bueno.

Wine glasses have stems not for the sake of looking elegant, but precisely so you can hold them by the stem. This ensures that the heat of your hand isn’t transferred to the wine and also keeps the glass bowl from being smudged.

So – for my two cents, I have to go with function above form on this one. Stems are a necessary part of a wine glass. Tradition is born of what works, and I like my wine to stay cool. I’m okay if that means I’m not.

Here are some fun options for both stem glasses and stemless glassware: Stemless Glasses, World Market , Classic Wine Glasses, Bed, Bath & Beyond

What are your thoughts on the Stem vs. Stemless debate?


How to Store Wine like a Pro

So you bought some wine that you’re not planning on drinking right away. Now what do you do with it?winerack2

First off, it’s useful to remember that only a small percentage of fine wines on the market benefit from long-term aging. Most wines are best enjoyed within a few years of release. A vineyard worth it’s salt won’t sell you a bottle of wine you can’t drink that evening if you wanted to. If you’re looking to buy wines to mature, you should really consider investing in professional grade storage—a totally different ballgame.

For us mere mortals, however, following a few simple guidelines should keep your wines safe until you’re ready to drink them.

Keep It Cool

Heat is enemy number one for wine. Temperatures higher than 70° F will age a wine more quickly than is usually desirable. And if it gets too much hotter, your wine may get “cooked,” resulting in flat aromas and flavors. The ideal temperature range is between 45° F and 65° F (and 55° F is often cited as close to perfect), though this isn’t an exact science. Don’t fret too much if your storage runs a couple degrees warmer, as long as you’re opening the bottles within a few years of their release.

… But Not Too Cool

Keeping wines in your household refrigerator is fine for up to a couple months, but it’s not a good bet for the longer term. The average fridge temp falls well below 45° F to safely store perishable foods, and the lack of moisture could eventually dry out corks, which might allow air to seep into the bottles and damage the wine. Also, don’t keep your wine somewhere it could freeze (I have personally forgotten wine for hours in the freezer). If the liquid starts turning to ice, it could expand enough to push the cork out or break the bottle.

Steady as She Goes

More important than worrying about achieving a perfect 55°F is avoiding the landmines of rapid, extreme or frequent temperature swings. On top of cooked flavors, the expansion and contraction of the liquid inside the bottle might push the cork out or cause seepage. Aim for consistency, but don’t get paranoid about minor temperature fluctuations; wines may see worse in transit from the winery to the store. (Even if heat has caused wine to seep out past the cork, that doesn’t always mean the wine is ruined. There’s no way to know until you open it.)

Made in the Shade

Light, especially sunlight, can pose a potential problem for long-term storage. The sun’s UV rays can degrade and prematurely age wine. One of the reasons why vintners use colored glass bottles? They’re like sunglasses for wine. Light from household bulbs probably won’t damage the wine itself, but can fade your labels in the long run. Incandescent bulbs may be a bit safer than fluorescent bulbs, which do emit very small amounts of ultraviolet light.

winerack1Lay Down the Law…er, Bottle

Traditionally, bottles have been stored on their sides in order to keep the liquid up against the cork, which theoretically should keep the cork from drying out. If you’re planning on drinking these bottles in the near- to mid-term, or if the bottles have alternative closures (screw caps, glass or plastic corks), this is not necessary. We will say this, however: Horizontal racking is a space-efficient way to store your bottles, and it definitely can’t harm your wines.

Handle with Care

There are theories that vibration could damage wine in the long term by speeding up the chemical reactions in the liquid. Some serious collectors fret about even the subtle vibrations caused by electronic appliances, though there’s little evidence documenting the impacts of this. Significant vibrations could possibly disturb the sediment in older wines and keep them from settling, potentially making them unpleasantly gritty. Unless you live above a train station or are hosting rock concerts, is this likely to be a problem for your short-term storage? No.

So… Where Should I Keep My Bottles?

If you haven’t been blessed with a cool, not-too-damp basement that can double as a cellar, you can improvise with some simple racks in a safe place. Rule out your kitchen, laundry room, or porch, if possible. Hot temperatures can affect your wines, and look for a location not directly in line with light pouring in from a window. You could also buy a small wine cooler and follow the same guidelines: If you keep your wine fridge in a cool place, it won’t have to work so hard, keeping your energy bill down.

Perhaps there is a little-used closet or other vacant storage area that could be re-purposed to store wine? (my sister keeps her’s in the closet in their spare bedroom) If you have a suitable dark, stable space that’s not too damp or dry, but it is too warm, you might consider investing in a home wine cooler. There are some inexpensive systems for small spaces, but in most cases, this is getting into professional wine storage.

When is it time to upgrade your storage conditions? Ask yourself this: How much did you spend last year on your wine habit? If a $300 cooling unit represents less than 25 percent of your annual wine-buying budget, it’s time to think about it more carefully. Might as well protect your investment.

One other piece of advice from collectors: Whatever number you’re thinking of when it comes to bottle capacity, double it. Once you’ve started accumulating wines to drink later, it’s hard to stop. And really, would you want to?

 

 


Tasting Treks 101

TRsignThe image of the wine country visitor sidling confidently up to the wine bar, her swirling technique down pat, is an iconic one. But the reality is, it’s not always clear what to do, and – perhaps more critically – what not to do once you’ve arrived at the tasting room. Herein, tips on how to ace this vinous activity.

The Itinerary
The majority of wineries on the Central Coast are open to the general public 5-7 days a week depending on the season, but some are only open on weekends or by appointment; call ahead to ensure you’re able to go where you want.

This goes for groups, especially. Most wineries need to make special arrangements for groups of 6 or more, and some are not able to accommodate groups at all. Special arrangements may be needed for large vehicles such as limousines and tour buses, too.

Tours are offered at many wineries, and reservations for these activities are often strongly advised or even required. Especially on busy weekends, calling ahead to reserve tours or private tastings is essential.

Touring wine country with kids can be a fun family activity, and kid-friendly wineries abound, but call first to make sure the spots where you plan to stop fit this category. Same goes for your four-legged fuzzy kids.

Be Prepared    TR1
Wearing comfortable and casually elegant clothing to tasting rooms sets the tone for a sophisticated outing and is a sign of respect for wineries. You should always be comfortable,

Be sure to take weather-appropriate gear (e.g. jackets and sturdy shoes during the rainy season; lighter clothing, hats and sunscreen in peak summer periods), especially if outdoor activities like vineyard treks and picnics are on your agenda.

Don’t wear perfume or heavily scented cologne to tasting rooms; the scents can overwhelm the subtle aromas in wine – and interfere with your own and others’ experience.

Quick note on decorum: Wineries are wineries, not bars. Although alcohol is being served, it’s a relaxed and conversational environment. Save loud banter and raucous activities for later!
                
The Nitty Gritty 
Fees to taste are standard operating procedure at most wineries, though some still offer complimentary or very low-cost tastes. Many will waive tasting fees with a wine purchase (which takes some of the sting out of higher fees), so be sure to inquire about such incentives.

Splitting a tasting with a companion is acceptable, especially in light of ever-higher fees and a need to avoid becoming overly inebriated. It’s also a great way to stoke debate about the wines between you and your pal.

Splurge for a reserve tasting – when available, an optional sampling of a winery’s higher-end or limited production wines – if you’re interested in getting to know a spot’s more rare and exclusive offerings.
 
TR2The Technique
It goes without saying that tasting is largely about having fun. But for those looking to glean the most from the wines on pour, swirling is a great way to stoke (read: aerate) wine’s myriad aromas. For maximum control, place your glass on a flat surface and swirl while grasping the stem.

When tasting, hold glasses by the stem rather than the bowl; holding them by the bowl coats glasses in greasy fingerprints and can disturb the temperature of the wine (ideally it’s been poured at just the right temp).

Inhale deeply before taking a sip; wine’s aromas comprise one of its most beguiling offerings! Upon drinking, swirl the wine around in your mouth to ensure it coats all the surfaces; we pick up different texture and flavor sensations in different parts of our mouths.

Taste white and lighter wines before heavier wines, such as bold reds, and save the sweetest wines for last. This ensures the boldest and sweetest wines don’t overwhelm the more delicate ones you sip first. Wineries know their wines best and will structure your tasting experience to present all the wines in the best light.
                                         
The Quantity  
Pacing yourself is a critical if not often talked about aspect of tasting. Build moderation into your day by selecting a manageable three or four wineries to visit. Incorporating activities like tours and a big lunch breaks up the day and ensures you do more than just drink.

When at wineries, make use of  tasting buckets (dump buckets) – ask for one if it’s not at the ready. Spitting all or a portion of the wine you taste will help you to remain alert and get the most out of your experience. Never feel obliged to finish a taste.

Keep tabs on how much you’re consuming. Typically, wineries dispense tastes in the size of one-ounce pours. As a reference point, there are four to six ounces of wine in a typical glass; know your limit and spit or stop when you’ve reached it.

Drink plenty of water to stave off dehydration

Always have a designated driver, or better yet – let Breakaway Tours take the wheel!

The Buy   
Purchasing wines you’ve enjoyed is a great way to keep the memory going once you’re back at home. Make sure you’re aware of shipping laws applyingTR4 to your state if you need to ship wine back home; if you’re flying, consult your airline about weight, quantity and liquid restrictions. Tasting rooms are well equipped to help you figure out if shipping is a viable option for you, so feel free to ask!

Again, tasting fees may be waived or reduced if you purchase wine on your visit. Be sure to inquire about such incentives; you may find that you spend the same amount or only slightly than you would for a tasting by purchasing a bottle. Tasting rooms exist to sell you wine.

Most wineries have wine clubs that offer periodic shipments of wine on an ongoing basis. Besides the wines that come with memberships, benefits and perks abound. These may include complimentary tastings, release parties, access to limited release wines,  and discounts on wine purchases.  Don’t hesitate to ask about membership price, quantities shipped, when they’re shipped, and any other perks that might be included.

Following these tips should ensure a smooth wine country visit and – even better – afford you the ability to focus on making memories rather than sweating the details.

 

Cheers to that!


Recipe for those incredible peaches!

Riesling-Poached Peaches with Tarragon and Salted Sour Cream Recipe

Enjoy the last of our beautiful Central Coast peaches, and impress your friends with this super-easy summer dessert recipe that will impress even your most discerning friends! This five-ingredient dessert is an elegant way to serve peaches. Present the fruit halves skin-on or peel them while they’re still warm. For the rosiest color, look for peaches that have a lot of blush to the skin.

INGREDIENTS

peaches

Recipe for those incredible Peaches

  1. 2 1/2 cups dry Riesling (We recommend Claiborne & Churchill 2014 Reisling)
  2. 1/4 cup sugar
  3. 1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
  4. 5 tarragon sprigs
  5. 4 ripe but firm freestone peaches, halved and pitted
  6. 2/3 cups sour cream
  7. Salt

 

For this Recipe:

In a medium saucepan, combine the wine, sugar, vanilla bean with seeds and 
1 tarragon sprig and bring just to a boil. Add the peach halves and simmer over moderate heat, turning occasionally, until tender, about 10 minutes. Let cool completely, then refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour.

In a medium bowl, whisk the sour cream with a big pinch of salt. Dollop the cream 
in bowls and top with the peach halves and some of their poaching liquid. Garnish each plate with a tarragon sprig and serve.

MAKE AHEAD

The peaches can be refrigerated in their poaching liquid for up to 3 days.


Wine Club: 15 Reasons to take the Plunge and Join Today!

Wine Clubs: 15 Reasons to take the Plunge and Join Today!

 

Wine Club Benefits

Wine Club Benefits

1. Convenience –

What’s more convenient than having wines show up at your door on a regular basis? Not much. A wine club offers the convenience of having a variety of exceptional wines delivered to you or available to pick up on your next visit to the winery. 

2. Regular Delivery of Wines –

A wine club guarantees that a regular delivery of superb wine is delivered within a consistent time frame (usually monthly or quarterly shipping), without the burden of having to select each wine yourself. It’s a curated collection of wines from your favorite

winery. 

3. Try New Wines –

Who doesn’t like trying new wines? Sure we all have our favorites, but a wine club ensures that you are getting new and varied wines each shipment. It gives you a chance to find a new experience that you may have not have tried otherwise.

4. Larger Selection than at your local grocery or wine store –

Grocery stores usually have a nice selection of wines, but these are the same commercial wines that they know will sell. A wine club often provides a much larger and broader selection of wines than you would typically find in the store. This is done because the wine club curator has more flexibility to select unique, fun, or rare wines, and not be burdened with taking up expensive shelf space. Most wines available through clubs won’t be found in your grocery and store, unless you live close to the winery.

5. Broaden Your Horizons –

Wine Club-Special Perks

Wine Club-Special Perks

If you’re like many, you tend to stick to your tried and true wine varietals. It took a long time for a friend of mine to venture out from big, bold, cabs, but he took a leap of faith and really discovered that he likes Sauvignon Blanc & Riesling almost as much. With a wine club, it encourages you to broaden your horizons, and try new varietals you may never have even known you loved.

6. Perks of Joining a Wine Club –

Membership has it privileges, and joining a wine club is no different. Joining a Winery’s wine club will get you exclusive invitations to events, discounts on regular purchases, and more. You receive complimentary tastings on visits to the Tasting Room for you and your guests. This is just a few of the perks you can get.

7. You Get the Best –

By joining a wine club, you are putting your money in someone else’s hands to select wines for you. But this isn’t a bad thing. By letting professional select wines for you, you increase your chances of receiving a superior wine. The winery knows their wines like no one else, and you get the benefit! When your Winemaker or Wine Club Manager selects wines for the club, they have to be certain that it’s an exceptional wine that represents the best they offer. It’s good to know that someone who really know wine took the time to carefully try many wines to choose one that meets the club level expectations.

8. Excitement of New Delivery –

Remember how excited you got for Christmas as a child? Rushing down to open your gifts. A wine club is like that except it’s for adults and it happens more than once per year. When you join a club you have new wines to enjoy but also know that you have another shipment on its way to look forward to as well! 

Peachy Canyon, Beckett family

Wine club-behind the scenes access

9. First Look at New Wines –

One of the best perks of belonging to a wine club is first looks at new wine releases, limited production releases, and special offerings. Many times these wines are not even available to the general public at all. Wine Club membership will ensure you don’t miss out on these special wines.

10. Discounts on Regularly Priced Wine –

Wine Clubs offer discounts on regularly priced wine a few ways. Sometimes you are getting 3 wines for less than you would pay if you bought them individually, sometimes the wine is discounted for members only, and other times you get special offers on wines from the winery.

11. Select a Type of Club for your Preference –

Wine preferences is another great benefit. Clubs come in many shapes and sizes. Some clubs may be low cost, some may be for the seasoned collector, some may focus on a region, and some on a varietal. They key is, you can find a club that focuses on your favorites, or pick one that features wines you aren’t familiar with. Life is better with wine, and clubs are a tool for better enjoyment. Currently we feature 3 clubs to choose from.

12. Education –

One of the benefits of joining a wine club is the exposure to wine in general. Reading up on the wines you receive, you’re going to find out more about the winery, the vineyards, the regions, the varietals, and the vintage. And on and on. You’re also going to learn about yourself and your personal experience with wine. 

13. News Letter –

Most wine clubs offer a newsletter. Here you will find out about the comings and goings of the winery, the wine world, etc. Central Coast Wineries newsletters show wine club members were you can find out more about the wines featured, and what is going on in the Central Coast Wine Community.

  1. Make Friends who also enjoy wine –
15 Reasons to take the plunge and join a wne club today

Wine Club

I have made some incredible wine-loving friends at pickup parties, winemaker dinners, and other Wine Club events. These are awesome people who share your passion for wine and can be an amazing resource on expanding your wine experience. They can join you on your next wine adventure!

15. YOU GET WINE –

Probably the Number One benefit of joining a wine club… You Get Wine! IF that isn’t reason enough to join, I don’t know what is. So let Breakaway Tours take you for an adventure in Central Coast Wine Country, and start discovering for yourself!

To learn more about Central Coast WIneries and the amazing Clubs they offer visit: Paso Wine , SLO Wine , or Santa Barbara County Wines today!


The Coravin: a tool, a trick, or a triumph?

Coravin in useThe Coravin has arrived! Ordering wine by the glass at many restaurants can sometimes be frustrating. Pedestrian selections at high markups have generally made it more economical to order an entire bottle rather than two or three glasses, but that’s the point. Restaurants want to sell you a bottle, not a glass.

In restaurants that are more serious about wine, though, by-the-glass programs have evolved significantly in the last decade, offering customers many more choices than the ubiquitous chardonnay or pinot noir.

While wines by the glass are almost never worth the markup in a straight up monetary sense, sommeliers have sought different ways to add value to the purchase. More and more restaurants now offer keg wines, for example, which can help preserve young wines that may otherwise begin to decay if left in open bottles.

Now a new device, the Coravin, has arrived that may revolutionize the sorts of wines that restaurants can make available by the glass. The Coravin seems to solve a problem that has bedeviled humanity since the first wine was stored in urns, namely, how do you preserve wine once a container is opened, exposing it to oxygen, its archenemy?

The keg system addresses this issue, though in an ungainly way. It uses a gas like nitrogen to both push the wine from the keg to the tap and then to occupy the empty space within the keg, thereby preventing oxidation.

But this is good only for relatively simple wines that are meant to be consumed young and can be packaged in kegs by the producers. What about fine wines that benefit from extended bottle aging?

Over the years, many systems have been tried, from the simple VacuVin, a device for pumping air out of an opened wine bottle, to complex refrigeration and preservation systems meant to extend the life of bottles once the corks have been popped. For one reason or another, none have succeeded.

A long, thin, hollow needle is inserted through the foil and cork into the bottle. Then, argon (an odorless, tasteless, harmless inert gas) is pumped coravin1through the needle, creating pressure within the bottle that pushies wine back out through the needle. When the desired amount is poured, the needle is withdrawn, leaving the argon in place of the wine, which prevents oxidation. The cork reseals itself, much like skin and tissue after an acupuncture needle is removed. It will not work on a bottle sealed by screw cap or an artificial cork (duh).

Through the use of the Coravin, many restaurants and wine bars have gained the ability to offer high end wine by the glass without the fear of wasting the remaining wine in the bottle if only one glass is ordered in a night.

Does the Coravin have its drawbacks? Yes. It’s not cheap. At $299 retail for the device alone, it’s an investment for true wine enthusiasts or those who will use it for professional reasons. And the cost doesn’t stop there: the nitro capsules used by the Coravin run around $8 apiece, with each capsule capable of supporting around fifteen 5 ounce pours. Does it have its benefits? Oh, yes. Aching to pair an amazing Borolo with your steak, but everyone else at your table is looking at the Chardonnay? If your restaurant has a Coravin program, you likely can! That bottle of 2004 Napa Cab you’ve been saving for a group dinner to open? Have a glass by yourself tonight. No waiting. And the rest of the wine will remain safe until you need it.

In conclusion, the Coravin opens up many possibilities for the wine world, all without ‘opening’ a single bottle of wine. So pour yourself an amazing glass tonight. You deserve it. I know I do.