Two Great Bordeaux Tastings on February 1st and 2nd

Grand_Puy_Lacoste1On February 1st and 2nd, over 30 Bordeaux Chateau owners, managers, and winemakers will be in Texas for two great tastings. February 1st will find them in Houston at the Crystal Ballroom at the Rice for a tasting of over 55 mostly cru classé wines from 2013. And February 2nd will find them in Dallas at the Room on Main for a tasting of 60 wines from 2011.

Please click on the appropriate link below for details on the tasting you want to attend.

HOUSTON  on February 1st, 2016

DALLAS on February 2nd, 2016


Pulling The Cork . . . and other things you need to know about wine

On Monday, January 11th at 7pm, please join Bear Dalton at the Wine School at l’Alliance Française for Pulling The Cork . . . and other things you need to know about wine – a one-night, next-step into Tasting, Drinking, and Enjoying wine. Tasting because that’s how you figure out what you like. Drinking because drinking good wine is the object of all that tasting (however much fun all the tasting may be). And Enjoying because there are things you can do to enjoy wine more without spending more money on wine.

This two-hour class will lead you through a tasting of 12 wines including red, white, sparkling and dessert wines. Discussion will include what to look for when tasting, pairing wine with food, wine serving and storage temperatures (and why they matter), proper wine glasses (why they are important and when they are not), pulling the cork (there is both more and less to it than you might think), and more.

Pulling the Cork . . . will cost $60 per person (Cash or Check) or $63.16 regular. The class will meet at 7pm on Monday, January 11, 2016 at l’Alliance Française. To reserve your spot, please contact Susan at 713-854-7855 or

L’Alliance Française is the French cultural center in Houston. Located at 427 Lovett Blvd., l’Alliance is on the southeast corner of Lovett and Whitney (one block south of Westheimer and two blocks east of Montrose).

As The Wine School at l’Alliance Française, Bear Dalton (fine wine buyer for Spec’s) has been teaching Texans about wine since 1988. He has over 35 years of experience tasting-drinking-and-enjoying and working professionally with wine – including over 30 years experience teaching and writing about wine.

Many of you have asked for a what-you-need-to-know-about-wine class for friends who are getting into wine. This is that class. Please forward this along to whomever you think would be interested. – Bear

Bear’s Best Bubbles

The end of the year is a great time for lists. Top ten new cars, top ten network news personalities, etc. While I don’t drive new cars (I’m more of an old truck guy) and I don’t watch what passes for network news (I don’t have time and can’t afford the spike in blood pressure), I do taste and drink a lot of wine. In fact, it will come as no surprise to anyone who knows me that I drink a lot of sparkling wine. Whether it’s Cava or cremant, or from Tasmania or Champagne, bubbly wine is opened at least a couple of nights a week – and often more than that – at my house. Most of the time we keep it under $30 per bottle but at least a couple of times a month we splurge a bit.  (Read More at

Drinking and Enjoying Champagne

Please join Spec’s fine wine buyer Bear Dalton at 7pm on Monday, December 14th at The Wine School at l’Alliance Française for Drinking and Enjoying Champagne. We will discuss Champagne in all its facets: How Champagne is Made, Champagne Vocabulary, Champagne Styles, Terroir and Grape Varieties, Serving Champagne, Champagne Glassware, and Champagne and Food. We will taste examples of Brut NV, Blanc de Blancs, Blanc de Noirs, Vintage, Rose, un-dosed Champagne, and Luxury Cuvee from both small growers (Farmer Fizz), two co-ops, and from some of the big negoçiant houses.

The following 15 Champagnes will be served:
Abel Charlot Brut NV
JP Marniquet Brut Tradition NV
Perrier Jouet Grand Brut NV
Castelnau Brut Reserve NV
Bonnaire Brut Blanc de Blancs NV
Bonnaire Variance Brut Champagne NV
Rothschild Blanc De Blancs NV
Devaux D Millesime 2006
Taittinger Brut Millesime 2006
Andre Clouet “Cuvee 1911” Brut NV
Andre Clouet Brut Rose Grand Reserve NV
Perrier Jouet Blason de France Rose NV
Bollinger Brut Rose NV
Perrier Jouet Belle Epoque (Flower Bottle) 2007
JP Marniquet 1995

Drinking and Enjoying Champagne will cost $80 per person (Cash) or $84.21 (Regular). To reserve your spot, please contact Susan Coburn at 713-854-7855 or

L’Alliance Française is French Cultural Center in Houston. Located at 427 Lovett Blvd., it is on the Southeast corner of Lovett and Whitney (one block south of Westheimer and two blocks east of Montrose).


Champagne – Sherry – Burgundy – Bordeaux – More Bordeaux – Port
On Thursday, December 17th at 7pm, please join me, Spec’s fine wine buyer Bear Dalton, at Charivari Restaurant for a Holiday Wine Dinner featuring wines from Champagne, Jerez (Sherry), Burgundy, and Bordeaux, as well as a 1965 Colheita Port all paired with Chef Schuster’s holiday menu.

Walleye Pike Quenelles with
Rothschild Brut Rosé, Champagne, NV

Wild Mushroom & Potato Soup with
Lustau East India, Sherry, NV

Roasted Quail over Multigrain Risotto with
Bouchard Beaune Greves Vigne l’Enfant Jesus 1er cru 2011
Pousse d’Or Volnay Clos des 60 Ouvrees 1er cru 2012
Taupenot Merme Morey St. Denis Riotte 1er cru 2013

Red Beet Sorbet

Black Angus Hanger Steak with Marrow Butter and Roasted Potatoes with
Domaine de Chevalier Rouge, Pessac Leognan,. 2012
Ch Leoville Poyferre, St. Julien, 2012
Ch. Montrose, Pauillac, 2012
Ch. Pichon Lalande, Pauillac, 2012

French Cheeses with
Ch. Montrose, St. Estephe, 2005
Ch. Leoville Poyferre, St. Julien, 2005

Salted Caramel Apple Tart with
Messias Colheita, Porto, 1965

This Holiday Wine Dinner will cost $200.00 per person including a 5% discount for cash or check or $210.53 regular. All taxes and tips are included. Attendance at this dinner is strictly limited to 22 people. For reservations, please contact Susan Coburn at or 713-854-7855.

Charivari is located at 2521 Bagby (77006) in Mid-Town Houston.

Fine Port Wine

Please join Spec’s fine wine buyer Bear Dalton at 7pm on Monday, December 7th at the Wine School at l’Alliance Française for Fine Port Wine. Port wines are numbered among the classic wines of the world and are quite collectable. Nevertheless, there is a mystique about them so a little information goes a long way toward understanding Port. Topics of discussion will include types of Port (why and how they are different), the origins of Port wine and how it evolved, serving and drinking Port, and decanting (including a decanting demonstration). The wines will range in age from 10 to 30 years old. Fifteen fine Port wines will be tasted and bread and cheese will be served.

We will taste:
Kopke 10 Year Old Tawny
Kopke Colheita 2005
Quinta do Noval Vintage 2007
Dows Crusted Port NV
Warres Late Bottled Vintage 2003
Smith Woodhouse Late Bottled Vintage2002
Smith Woodhouse Colheita 2000
Smith Woodhouse Vintage 2000
Kopke Colheita 1995
Smith Woodhouse 20 Year Old Tawny
Smith Woodhouse Madalena Vintage 1996
Smith Woodhouse Vintage 1994
Kopke Colheita 1985
Smith Woodhouse Vintage 1985
Warres Vintage 1991

Fine Port Wines will cost $80.00 per person cash ($84.21 regular). To reserve your spot, please contact Susan Coburn at 713-854-7855 or

L’Alliance Française is French Cultural Center in Houston. Located at 427 Lovett Blvd., it is on the Southeast corner of Lovett and Whitney (one block south of Westheimer and two blocks east of Montrose).