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

On Monday, August 8th, please join Spec’s fine wine buyer 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 that tasting may be). And Enjoying because there are things you can do to enjoy wine more without spending more money on wine. And you can’t taste, drink, or enjoy without Pulling the Cork!

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, wine and food pairing, 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 $50 per person (Cash or Check) or $52.63 regular. The class will meet at 7pm on Monday, August 8, 2016 at l’Alliance Française. To purchase your ticket, please contact Susan at 713-854-7855 or coburnsusan2@gmail.com.

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 has been teaching Texans about wine since 1998. He has over 35 years of experience tasting (currently over 9,000 wines a year), drinking and enjoying, and working professionally with wine – including over 30 years experience teaching and writing about wine.

A lot of folks on my email list have been asking 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 may be interested. – Bear


Please join Spec’s fine wine buyer Bear Dalton on Monday, August 1st at 7pm for Riesling Refresh. We’ll beat the heat as we dig into refreshing Riesling with look at fourteen Rieslings all from Germany – the spiritual home of Riesling – that represent a variety of the non-dessert (which is to say table or food friendly) refreshing wine styles. We’ll talk about the Riesling grape, the places it grows, the techniques used to make it, and the food we eat with it. Bread and a selection of fine cheeses will accompany the tasting.

The List:
Villa Wolf Riesling QbA, Pfalz, 2014
Schloss Vollrads Riesling QbA, Rheingau, 2014
Donnhoff Estate Riesling QbA, Nahe, 2015
Prinz zu Salm Grunschiefer Riesling QbA, Nahe, 2012
Peter Nicolay Urziger Goldwingert Riesling Spatlese, Mosel, 2013
Dr. Thanisch Bernkastler Doctor Riesling Kabinett, Mosel, 2012
Robert Weil Riesling Kabinett, Rheingau, 2013
Dr. Pauly Bernkastler Alte Badstube am Doctorberg Riesling Kabinett, Mosel, 2012
Maximin Graunhauser Herrenberg Riesling Kabinett, Mosel, 2014
Leitz Rudesheimer Magdalenekreuz Riesling Spatlese, Rheingau, 2014
Fritz Haag Braunberger Juffer Riesling Spatlese, Mosel, 2014
Donnhoff Norheimer Kirschheck Riesling Spatlese, Nahe, 2014
Kesselstatt Josephshofer Riesling Grosse Gewachs, Mosel, 2011
Donnhoff Felsenberg Felsenturmchen Riesling Grosses Gewachs, Nahe, 2014

RIESLING REFRESH will cost $60.00 per person cash ($63.16 regular).
The class will meet at 7pm on Monday, August 1, 2016 at l’Alliance Française.
To purchase your ticket(s), please contact Susan at 713-854-7855 or coburnsusan2@gmail.com.

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

Riesling Rendezvous Surprise: Chateau Ste. Michelle Dry Riesling Stuns

CSM_14_CV_DryRieslingI am taking a few days of educational vacation to attend the Riesling Rendezvous – an annual international Riesling symposium – in Seattle. What is unique about this event is the scope of it: all Riesling from all over the world. There are wines from Germany and Washington State, from France and Austria and Australia, from New York, Idaho, and Oregon, from Canada and Michigan. Suffice to say that I am tasting a lot of Riesling while listening to the producers and other experts talk about the state of Riesling in the wine world today. Maybe not the most thrilling stuff but interesting and for me educational. While Tuesday’s big blind tasting of “other than dry” Rieslings is the most interesting to me, I found a huge surprise in Monday morning’s blind tasting of 20 dry Rieslings from literally all over the world. Hidden (and tasted absolutely blind) among wines priced mostly between $20 and $100 per bottle was Chateau Ste. Michelle Dry Riesling Columbia Valley 2014. The assembled conference participants were extensively buzzing about the wine before its identity was revealed. There was a huge murmur of approval and congratulations at the reveal. I was and am stunned at the quality of this wine at this price ($8.19 per bottle at Spec’s). Here is that rarest of all unicorns, the great wine made in commercial quantities sold at an every-day price.

CHATEAU Ste. MICHELLE Dry Riesling, Columbia Valley, 2014 ($8.19*)
100% Riesling night-harvested from a mix of vineyards in Eastern Washington’s Columbia Valley AVA. Fermented cold in stainless steel tanks to a residual sugar of 0.84 g/100 ml (less than 1%) and a total acidity of 0.72 g/100 ml with a pH of 2.88 (very low).  What does all of that mean? This is a dry Riesling that nevertheless offers plenty of fresh, focused fruit flavors and aromas in the citrus range with complementary notes of apple and peach over an indeterminate mineral core. It is frankly delicious and quite refreshing. It shockingly fit into the upper tier of the quality range of the international Dry Riesling tasting, even though it was far-and-away the lowest priced of the 20 wines tasted. Think of this as wine for oysters or mussels (say at La Vista) or not-too-spicy shrimp dishes. Take it with you to Asian BYOB restaurants (think Vietnam in the Heights). BearScore: 93+.

*At Spec’s 2410 Smith Street in Houston. Price will vary by location but should not exceed $10.00 in any case.