It has been said, “A bottle of wine begs to be shared.”
I couldn’t agree more, especially during the holidays! So you can imagine my delight when Total Wine & More chose me as their Local Favorite for the month of December.
Local Favorite is a promotion where a local media personality is invited to select a few wines which are then promoted throughout the month as that Local Favorite’s picks.
To say I was excited would be an understatement. Anyone familiar with my website knows I’m a wannabe oenophile.
The idea of recommending wines to consumers based on my own personal opinion was daunting to say the least—but being the intrepid explorer I am, there was no way I was passing up this incredible opportunity.
Total Wine & More operates 88 wine superstores in 14 states. They offer more than 8,000 wines, 3,000 spirits and 2,500 beers in each of its stores, including hard-to-find labels and locally produced product.
I met with Total Wine’s marketing executive at the Redondo Beach superstore. If you haven’t been to this location yet, you must make a point to stop by. Located in South Bay Marketplace at 1505 Hawthorne Blvd., it’s the equivalent of a giant candy store for adults. I could have spent hours roaming the aisles ... but I had more pressing business.
I was there to attend a private wine tasting with in-house wine expert Taylor Barnebey.
Prior to the tasting, I was asked if I had any preferences or specific ideas as to what I would like to try.
I did and explained I wanted to taste something new—something distinctive, something exciting. I wanted to throw out all the old mindsets and start fresh. In other words, I wanted to have an adventure.
The adventure began with sparkling wine.
Sparkling wines are produced in many regions of the world and go by different names: Espumante in Portugal, Cava in Spain, German and Austrian sparkling wines are called Sekt and naturally, the classic Champagne from France.
Champagne is the traditional choice for celebrations but we had already decided to throw convention out the window. Adieu, mon ami!
We chose instead to take a tour of Italy and focus on Prosecco.
After tasting a selection of vintages from different regions, I chose the Bortolotti Prosecco from the renowned area of Valdobbiadene north of Venice.
This sophisticated, light-bodied Prosecco is perfect for a toast, yet capable of standing up to heavier appetizers—think scallops wrapped in bacon or lobster crostini.
The Bortolotti Winery is located in the heart of the Veneto region—famous for sparkling wine. I found it refreshing, fruity and lively—exactly what a sparkling beverage should be. For a comprehensive description, click here.
The Bortolotti Prosecco is priced at $19.99 per bottle. Everyone can afford to celebrate at that price.
A big factor in each of my choices was price point. In this harsh economic environment, who can afford to go out and drop $50 or $100 on a bottle of wine? Who even wants to? And who doesn’t love the idea of finding a really good bottle of wine for a reasonable price?
One of my goals during this assignment was to learn more about white varietals. What else was out there other than Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc? Taylor was more than obliging and set out a selection of white wines from around the globe. Are you Chardonnay drinkers listening?
After much back and forth—it was a wine tasting, after all—I selected the Maipe Torrontes from Argentina.
This crisp, light-bodied Torrontes from the Mendoza region is well balanced, fresh and fruity. Perfect paired with lighter dishes, it would complement Asian cuisine particularly well. For further details, click here.
The Maipe Torrontes is a great buy at $9.99 per bottle. Put down the Chardonnay and get acquainted with this charming white.
Blends are hugely popular these days and with good reason. With that in mind, I chose Kestrel Winery’s Lady in Red from the Columbia Valley in Washington State.
This medium-bodied Syrah-based blend, with Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet, and Petite Verdot, is multi-layered yet velvety. It’s an ideal red for everyday dishes: burgers, fajitas and casseroles. Full disclosure: I love the bottle graphic! Take a peek here.
Kestrel Winery’s Lady in Red sells for $12.99 and is just the thing for a casual dinner with friends.
Taylor saved the big reds for last.
We again avoided the usual suspects and after much sniffing and swirling, I chose the Amadieu Domaine Grand Romane Gigondas Vieilles Vignes 2009 vintage. This full-bodied blend from the Rhone region of France strikes a lovely balance somewhere between Cabernet Sauvignon and the Super Tuscans.
Wine Spectator calls it “A ripe, flashy style, with exotic fig, boysenberry and blackberry pate de fruit flavors framed by a dark licorice snap note. There’s lots of drive on the finish, with spice and graphite filling in. This should expand nicely with cellaring. Rock-solid.”
It was plush and incredibly smooth. Think filet mignon with an herbed butter sauce….mmmm, mmmmm! You can learn more here.
The Amadieu Domaine Grand Romane Gigondas Vieilles Vignes is priced at $21.99. It’s an impressive wine that won’t empty your wallet.
So those are my picks! It was an enlightening, global adventure—and I never had to leave the South Bay!
When shopping for wine this holiday season, make a point to stop by Total Wine & More and check out the display with my recommendations. I’d love to hear what you think of my choices!
For additional information and store locations, visit the website at totalwine.com.