PINK FIZZ! or The State of Sparkling Rosé

7pm  Monday  November 26th at The Wine School at l’Alliance Française

In Pink Fizz, we will focus in on, taste, and discuss only Rosé Sparkling wines from around the world but with the major emphasis on Champagne. We’ll look at how they’re made (all methode champenoise), how they get their color (a variety of ways), their styles and nuances, where and from what grapes they’re made, as well as pink fizz with food. We will taste through the diversity of dry pink bubbles as we look at a total of 14 wines. The wines tasted will be served in Riedel Degustazione stemware and a selection of cheeses and bread will be served.

The lineup includes:
Mercat Brut Rosé NV
Jean Baptiste Adam Cremant d’Alsace Rosé NV
Roederer Estate Rosé Anderson Valley – Sparkling NV
Andre Clouet Brut Rosé Grand Reserve NV
Michel Mailliard Rosé Cuvee Alexia Champagne NV
Chateau De Bligny Brut Rosé Champagne NV
Jose Dhondt Saignee Rosé Brut Champagne NV
Jean Vesselle Oeil De Perdrix Rosé Champagne NV
Camille Saves Rosé Brut Grand Cru Champagne NV
Henriot Rosé Champagne NV
Billecart Salmon Brut Rosé Champagne NV
Bollinger Special Cuvee Rosé Champagne NV
Barons de Rothschild Brut Rosé Champagne NV
Egly Ouriet Brut Rosé Champagne NV

Pink Fizz! will cost $80 per person (cash or check) or $84.21 (regular). To purchase your ticket, please contact Susan Coburn at 713-854-7855or

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).

If you buy a ticket and will not be able to attend, please cancel at least 24 hours before the class or you may be charged. Later cancellations will not be charged if we can fill the seat. This is often case as we regularly have waiting lists for these classes.

With 40 years in the wine business and over 35 years experience teaching about wine, Spec’s fine wine buyer Bear Dalton is one of the top wine authorities as well as the most experienced wine educator in Texas.

SOLD OUT – A November Bordeaux Dinner to Remember

At 7pm on Thursday, November 29th, please join me, Spec’s fine wine buyer Bear Dalton, at Lucio’s for a fun and delicious look at 2012 Bordeaux and more paired with a wine friendly menu.  We’ll start with a lovely Champagne and a bit of tartare after which we will go directly to three left-bank, Cabernet Sauvignon dominant reds paired with the roast quail. After that, we’ll have three right-bank, Merlot-dominant wines with the braised beef followed by a mini vertical (2012, 2011, and 2008) of Ch. Pontet Canet with the cheese. We’ll finish up with a fresh 2015 Ch. Coutet Barsac. There are some real WOW wines on the list.

Salmon Tartare with
Camille Saves Carte Blanche Brut Champagne NV

Roast Quail with
Ch. Branaire Ducru, St. Julien, 2012
Ch. Haut Bages Liberal, Pauillac, 2012
Ch. Brane Cantenac, Margaux, 2012

Red Wine Press Short Ribs with
Ch. la Croix St. Georges, Pomerol, 2012
Ch. L’Evangile, Pomerol, 2012
Vieux Ch. Certan, Pomerol, 2012

A selection of Cheeses with
Ch. Pontet Canet, Pauillac, 2012
Ch. Pontet Canet, Pauillac, 2011
Ch. Pontet Canet,Pauillac, 2008

Brioche Bread Pudding
Ch Coutet, Barsac, 2015

This November Bordeaux Dinner to Remember will cost $180 per person including a 5% discount for cash or check (or $189.47 regular). All taxes and tips are included.

For reservations, please reply by email to
Please include a call back number in your email reply.
This dinner is limited to 20 guests and should sell out quickly. 

Lucio’s is located at 905 Taft Street between West Dallas and Allen Parkway.

Hope to see you there.


Please join Spec’s fine wine buyer Bear Dalton at 7pm on Monday, November 19that The Wine School at l’Alliance Française for Champagne! In Champagne, we will taste and discuss the range of sparkling wines from Champagne as we look at how they are made, their styles and stylistic differences, where and from what grapes they are made, the different types of Champagne producers, serving, glassware, and Champagne and food. The tasting will start with a grand marque brut NV to use as a baseline and will build from there. All wines tasted will be served in Riedel Degustazione stemware. A selection of cheeses and bread will be offered.

The lineup includes:
Perrier Jouet Grand Brut Champagne 6/cs NV
Abel Charlot
JP Marniquet Brut Tradition NV
Castelnau Brut Reserve (6/cs) Champagne NV
Jacques Picard Berru Brut NV
Camille Saves Carte Blanche Brut Premier Cru NV
Roederer Brut Vintage Champagne 2009
Marcel Moineaux Chouilly Brut Blanc De Blanc Grand Cru NV
Lancelot Royer Cuvee Chevaliers Champagne NV
Barons Rothschild Blanc de Blancs NV
Andre Clouet “Cuvee 1911” Brut NV
Egly Ouriet Brut Tradition Grand Cru Champagne NV
Castelnau Collection Oenotheque (6/cs) Champagne 2000
JP Marniquet Brut Prestige Champagne 2002

Champagne! will cost $75 per person (cash or check) or $78.95 (regular). To purchase your ticket, please contact Susan Coburn at 713-854-7855 or

L’Alliance Françaiseis 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).

If you buy a ticket and will not be able to attend, please cancel at least 24 hours before the class or you may be charged. Later cancellations will not be charged if we can fill the seat. This is often case as we regularly have waiting lists for these classes.

With 40 years in the wine business and 30-plus years experience teaching about wine, Spec’s fine wine buyer Bear Daltonis one of the top wine authorities as well as the most experienced wine educator in Texas.

More Classes and Events Coming Soon:
11.26.18          Monday           Sparkling Rosé (mostly Champagne)
11.29.18          Thursday         “Drinking Bordeaux” Dinner at Lucio’s
12.10.18          Monday           Port (with Symington)
12.13.18          Thursday         Holiday Dinner
12.17.18          Monday            Wine School Christmas Party and Toy Gather
01.16.19          Wednesday     Big 2016 Bordeaux Tasting at Crystal Ballroom

ECHOS Chef’s Dinner honoring Bear Dalton

Dear Friends,

It seems a bit strange and is certainly humbling for me to invite you to a dinner where I am the community honoree. And doubly so as this is the second such dinner this year (the other being the Houston Area Women Center’s “Rock the HAWC” Gala back in April. This dinner benefits Epiphany Community Heath Outreach Services (ECHOS) located on the campus of the Episcopal Church of the Epiphany (9600 South Gessner at Bissonnet) in southwest Houston providing health services and food pantry and distribution and other basic services to a largely immigrant, very low income population mostly in that area.

From ECHOS’ Web-Site (
ECHOS – Epiphany Community Health Outreach Services – was formed in 1999, in response to the health and social service needs to the rapidly increasing population of newly arrived immigrants and refugees who were being resettled in the community surrounding the Church of the Epiphany. The original purpose was and continues to be to help families meet their basic needs, on their path to self-sufficiency. Echos provides Benefits Application Assistance, Healthcare Mobile Clinics, Healthcare Screenings and Services, Support Groups (including working with the Houston Area Women’s Center), English as a Second Language (ESL), Computer Literacy, and Food Pantry and Food Fairs. 

In the wake of 2017’s Hurricane Harvey, ECHOS provided invaluable recovery assistance to their clients. In fact, they were so busy with clients, ECHOS had to cancel last year’s gala which makes this year’s event all the more important. Over the past year, ECHOS’ food pantry, health care services and screenings, and educational programs have grown. The food pantry is now a client choice pantry serving 156% more individuals in 2018 (already more than 8,000 individuals this year alone!) ECHOS’ need’s your help to keep pace with this growing number of people in need.

As many of you know, ECHOS and HAWC have long been my two causes of choice. Many of you have attended our Wine School Christmas Party and Toy Gather benefitting ECHOS and many other wine tastings and events raising money and awareness for both ECHOS and HAWC. Please join me on September 20th at 6:15pm at The Crystal Ballroom at the Rice (909 Texas Avenue  Houston, Texas  77002) for ECHOS’ 10th ANNUAL Chef’s Dinner. To purchase a table or tickets, please go to

The event will begin with a Champagne Reception at 6:15pm followed by the seated Dinner.

The Menu for This Year’s Chef’s Dinner
Starter: A Trio of a Spinach Soufflé Stuffed Mushroom with Prosciutto Brie Crostini with fig Jam and Goat cheese and a Stuffed Artichoke on bed of arugula
Main Plate: Bone in Braised Short Rib with celery root puree, sauteed baby vegetables and a Syrah demi-glace
Dessert: A Trio of a Decadent Chocolate Torte with a Tiramisu Shooter and a Lemon Tartlet

I’m working on the wines now and will update the menu to include those soon.





As we fast approach its halfway point, 2018 has been a roller-coaster-ride for me. Lots of highs and lows, lots of twists and turns, and more to come.

I started 2018 dealing with persistent, sometimes debilitating back pain that I was trying to manage with physical therapy and massage. Nevertheless, things have to be done and life must go on. And that, in fact rather a lot of that, has happened.

On January 6th, my Women Of Wine (WOW) culinary team and I cooked and served the WOW wine dinner at John and Julie Cogan’s home on North Blvd. My two favorite courses were the Escargot over Mashed Potatoes and the Delice de Bourgogne Ice Cream with homemade (courtesy of sous chef Denise Ehrlich) ginger snaps. Pure decadent deliciousity. And, thanks to generous auction buyers,  a good bit of money raised for a great cause (The Houston Area Women’s Center).

Tuesday and Wednesday January 16th and 17th brought the annual Mostly Cru Classé Bordeaux tastings (this year featuring 2015s) in Houston and Dallas. Well, almost. The Tuesday Houston event was postponed “day-of” due to what many referred to as the  “Houston Ice-pocolypse” (or as it would be known in Chicago – “Tuesday”). The Wednesday event in Dallas was perfect and all the 2015 Bordeaux wines showed beautifully. That Thursday brought me my extremely positive first experience riding Vonlane’s Dallas-Houston luxury bus service that beats the heck out of driving or flying.

On January 29th at 6am, Carol drove me to the “Chick-Fil-A” Methodist emergency room with what I thought was appendicitis … only to find out I had stage-4-colon-cancer. I was immediately admitted to Methodist Hospital in the Medical Center where at 4pm on January 31st, their colo-rectal surgeons removed a tumor that was bigger-than-a-baseball-but-smaller-than-a-softball. I awakened after this four-hour surgery to find I was equipped with an ostomy bag as they had disconnected my plumbing to give my colon a chance to heal. In removing the tumor and some intestine, my appendix (why not?), and a few lymph-nodes, the surgeons had gotten all the cancer except for two small tumors in my liver. Silver lining: When the big colon tumor was removed, my back pain went away. Apparently the tumor was pushing on my sacrum which was the source of my back pain – maybe stretching back over a couple of years.

On Febraury 1st (the day after surgery), I walked 4 laps around the 8th floor of Dunn Tower. By the time I checked out on February 8th, I was walking over 2 miles a day. On March 3rd, I walked the 5K for the Houston Area Women’s Center’s Race Against Violence (“run” is no longer in my vocabulary).

On March 6th, I hosted the rescheduled-from January 2015 Mostly Cru Classé Bordeaux tasting at the Crystal Ballroom at the Rice in Houston. Another smash success although a bit of a load on me considering the recent surgery, etc. Many thanks to all who helped.

A week later on March 13th, I had another surgery to reconnect my plumbing and get rid of the ostomy bag. A joyous day. The next day I walked over 3 miles at a good pace in three sets of 10+ laps each (all on the 8th floor of Methodist’ Dunn Tower).

On April 1st, I flew KLM from Houston to Bordeaux for my 22nd trip to taste the new vintage en-premiere. Ten-plus days of tasting delicious, fresh, 2017 barrel-samples from all over Bordeaux with young-up-and-comers from Spec’s (Tom Dobson, James Barlow, and Alan Dennis – all of whom make fine traveling companions as they tolerated my very-eclectic-driving-music-mix that ranges through country, western, swing, Americana, mariachi, salsa, some torch songs, ranchero, rock, rock and roll, blues, jazz, gospel, hymns, classical, and French- German-Mexican-and-even-some-American pop).

I returned to Houston on April 14th and started my first chemo session on Monday, April 16th. That first session offered relatively few side effects that pretty much cleared up by the end of the second week. I thought it was going to be that easy. If you want to hear God laugh, tell Him your plans.

At the end of that second week on Friday April 27, I was feted by the Houston Area Women’s Center (HAWC) as their community honoree at their annual gala. I felt honored and humbled and loved. Good people doing good work.

On Monday May 7th, I got my second chemo infusion and then was driven by Abdulatefe – The Singing Nigerian Uber Driver (he got a five-star rating and a good tip) – to the airport (IAH) to fly to London via Mexico City for my annual customer trip. This unusual routing was courtesy of the striking workers at what I now call Air Chance as there is only a chance your Air France flight will not be cancelled. This trip saw us visiting sparkling wine producers (“British Bubbles” – it’s a thing) in the south of England before flying to France to visit chateaux in Cahors and Bordeaux. I returned to Houston on May 19th. Despite heavy chemo side-effects (especially hand-foot syndrome and a pretty much constantly unsettled GI tract), this was maybe the best consumer trip I have ever led. (Next year: Port and Spain).

Tuesday, May 29th brought chemo-session-number-three before the side effects of chemo-session-number-two had cleared-up. Side effects in session three were so bad my oncologist gave me an extra week between chemos to let them abate. They finally did abate enough that these last few days (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) were what now passes for normal.

On June 11th, I competed in my 2nd Women Of Wine Sangria Throwdown. We hit-for-the-cycle: 3rd place in Most Creative, 2nd place in People’s Choice, and 1st place in Judges’ Choice. Thank you Denise Ehrlich and Women of Wine for a super well-run event. Thank you to my team of Joan Sokol, Deborah Touchy, Ned Thorn, and especially Carol Dalton for making Carpe Sangria(my cucumber-melon-citrus, cilantro, ginger, white vermouth-based Sangria) possible.

The last two Thursdays (6/14 and 6/21) brought scans at Methodist hospital (including an-hour-and-a-half in the MRI tube this last Thursday) and those scans showed that both liver tumors are shrinking substantially due to the chemo. Which is fabulous news. Hopefully, this will help get the liver procedure (hoping for Radio Frequency Oblation) scheduled sooner rather than later. Radio Frequency Oblation entails putting a needle into the tumor and blasting it with radio waves to burn it out. I’m thinking a little death metal (not on my playlist) should do the trick.

Last Thursday also brought a phone call from Cathy Moore of ECHOS (Epiphany Community Health Outreach Services) informing me that I’ve been chosen me as their community honoree for the ECHOS gala chef’s dinner on September 20th. ECHOS is an organization working with a largely immigrant, very low-income population in southwest Houston to aid with healthcare, food, facilities, counseling, and more. Like the Houston Area Women’s center with whom they work closely, ECHOS does yeoman work. I am humbled to be offered that honor.

This last Saturday brought a new addition to our family as Sergeant Scout found a kitten (cute little thing, a “Lynx Point Siamese” saith Cat-Lady-Carol) in our backyard. We already have three cats (two foundlings and Carol’s late mom’s cat) and rescue dog Scout but I guess we need another kitty. It’s a boy, probably will be called “Nicolas.” Carol pronounces the “S”; I’m going with the French pronunciation (Nic-o-lah). Here’s hoping it bonds with Scout.

On Sunday, I got a week-late Fathers’ Day celebration with both boys (and Miss Carol!) at church followed by lunch with them at the new Black Bear Diner in Katy. Black Bear Diner is my go-to-breakfast spot in both Napa and Sonoma. Best patty sausage ever. The new Katy location did not disappoint.

Sunday night we had my home-made, fresh-squeezed Margaritas because I knew this fourth round of chemo will eliminate all cold drinks for at least the next week due to cold neurapathy.

Which brings us to today.  I write much of this as I sit in the chemo chair getting chemo infusion number four. And so restarts the cycle of chemo and side-effects. I can feel the neuropathy returning even as the drip continues.

I am finishing and posting this from home very early Tuesday morning as I can’t sleep now due to having slept for over 4 hours after the infusion Monday.

Lots of ups-and-downs this year but through it all I see and feel the Hand of God holding me and protecting me, giving me His peace and comfort and His strength to meet each day. Sometimes that Hand looks like a doctor or a nurse, sometimes like family or a friend who calls or emails/texts or visits at just the right time. Sometimes it is John or Lindy Rydman or one of my Valeries or Scarlet or others from Spec’s and the larger wine world (including friends in France, Germany, England, Spain, and California). Sometimes it looks my Gang-of-Pour or other Wine School friends. Sometimes God’s Hand looks like a Facebook comment or “like,” or like Scout’s big doggie head resting in my lap. Often God’s Hand looks an aweful lot like Miss Carol. The cancer has been a big inconvenience and the chemo is kicking-my-ass but, while I am not yet out-of-the-woods, I can at least see the meadow through the trees. 2018 has been a continual learning opportunity, an often-daunting challenge, and a generally humbling experience, even as I have been lifted up in prayers and love. Highs and lows, twists and turns; we’ll see how the second half goes. 2018 may turn out to be the year of the Bear; it is most certainly The Year of Our Lord.








Taste Domaine de la POUSSE d’OR 2014s with owner Patrick Landanger

Normally, my class invitations start out “Please join me, Spec’s fine wine buyer Bear Dalton for a tasting of …” or words to that effect. Not this time.*
So on Wednesday March 14th at 7pm, please join Burgundy importer David Smith along with Domaine de la Pousse d’Or owner Patrick Landanger and new general manager Benoit Landanger (son of Patrick) at the Wine School at l’Alliance Française for a tasting of ten wines from the Domaine de la Pousse d’Or.

Originally created in 1954, Domaine de la Pousse d’Or has long been among my favorite domaines of Burgundy. I first tasted two of the Volnays in the early 1980s and got to know the range of wines better tasting with Becky Wasserman (who was then their broker) in 1986. I’ve been tasting at the domaine for the last fifteen years. Patrick Landanger purchased the property in 1997 and immediately began investing in bothe the physical plant and the vineyards. Since then, I have watched as Pousse d’Or improved in quality and grew from a Volnay specialist with some Santenay and Pommard to include vines on the hill of Corton (1999), in Puligny Montrachet (2004), and in Chambolle and Morey (2008). At this time Spec’s is able to purchase thirteen wines (one village appellation, nine 1er crus, and three grand crus) from the estate, all of which are consistently excellent. (There are four wines we don’t get – yet.) We’ll taste through ten Pousse d’Or crus from the fine 2014 vintage including nine reds and one white with special attention paid to the specificity of place and process of each wine.

The line up:
Pousse d’Or Santenay Clos Tavannes 1er cru 2014
Pousse d’Or Volnay en Caillerets 1er cru 2014
Pousse d’Or Volnay Clos de la 60 Ouvrees 1er cru 2014
Pousse d’Or Volnay Clos de la Bousse d’Or 1er cru 2014
Pousse d’Or Pommard Jarollieres 1er cru 2014
Pousse d’Or Corton Clos du Roi Grand Cru 2014
Pousse d’Or Chambolle Musigny 2014
Pousse d’Or Chambolle Musigny les Amoureuses 1er cru 2014
Pousse d’Or Clos de la Roche Grand Cru 2014
Pousse d’Or Puligny Montrachet Clos le Caillerets 1er cru 2014

Domaine de la Pousse d’Or 2014 will cost $50.00 per person (Cash or Check) or $52.63 regular. The class will meet at 7pm on Wednesday March 14 at l’Alliance Française. To purchase your ticket, 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).

If you buy a ticket and will not be able to attend, please cancel at least 24 hours before the class or you may be charged. Later cancellations will not be charged if we can fill the seat. This is often case as we regularly have waiting lists for these classes.

*I am will be in the hospital on Wednesday recovering from surgery to reconnect my previously rerouted plumbing. I hate to miss this because I love these wines but this is a major step forward in my healing process.

One Week from Today – 2015 (Mostly) Cru Classé Bordeaux Tasting

If you love Bordeaux, this is a can’t miss event. Taste 60+ high quality Bordeaux Wines from the excellent 2015 vintage. Meet and talk with some of the producers. Wallow in Bordeaux wonderfulness.

Tuesday March 6, 2018 at the Crystal Ballroom at the Rice

As most know, this event was originally scheduled for Tuesday January 16, 2018 but we had to cancel due to extreme (for Houston anyway) winter weather conditions. We are sorry for any inconvenience that cancellation may have caused but safety considerations won out. The original plan was to host over 30 Bordeaux chateau owners, directors, and/or winemakers (aka “the Bordelaise”) presenting 62 mostly Cru Classé Bordeaux wines all from the superb 2015 vintage in a standup-and-walk-around tasting format. The wines are here and will be served. Some of the Chateau owners/winemakeers are coming back as well. In any case, there will be someone informed about the wine pouring each wine. In the end, we will have the 2015 tasting and you will get to taste …

Pomerol: Chx. Clinet, Gazin, Croix St. Georges, and La Pointe (along with 2nd vin Ballade de La Pointe)

St. Emilion: Chx. Canon la Gaffeliere, Clos l’Oratoire, Daugay, Grand Corbin Despagne, La Confession, Larcis Ducasse, and Pavie Macquin

St. Georges St. Emilion: Ch. Cap St. George

Castillon and Francs: Chx. d’Aiguilhe and Ampelia, Ch. Puygueraud

Bordeaux: Chx. Croix Mouton and le Conseiller

St. Estephe: Chx. Phelan Segur, Lafon Rochet, and les Ormes de Pez

Pauillac: Chx. Pichon Lalande (with 2nd vin Reserve de la Comtesse), Pichon Baron (with 2nd vin Les Griffons), Pibran, Lynch Bages (with 2nd vin Echo de Lynch Bages), Grand Puy Lacoste (with 2nd vin Lacoste Borie), Clerc Milon, d’Armailhac, and Haut Bages Liberal

St. Julien: Chx. Branaire Ducru, Leoville Barton and Langoa Barton, Leoville Poyferrre, and Talbot

Margaux: Chx. Giscours, Cantenac Brown, Ferriere, du Tertre and Brane Cantenac (along with 2nd vin Baron de Brane)

Haut Medoc, Moulis, Listrac: Chx. Cantemerle, Chasse Spleen, Camensac, Mauvesin Barton, and Senejac

Pessac Leognan Reds: Chx. Carmes Haut Brion, Carbonnieux, Domaine de Chevalier, Smith Haut Lafitte, Clos Marsalette, and Haut Bailly with 2nd vin La Parde de Haut Bailly

Dry Whites: Domaine de Chevalier, Smith Haut Lafitte, and Blanc de Lynch Bages (2014)

Sweet Whites: Chx. Suduiraut (along with 2nd vin Lions de Suduiraut) and Coutet

You can see that we’ll be tasting great wines from every major appellation in Bordeaux. After re-tasting all these wines on January 17 in Dallas, I can tell you that they are showing very well.
The tasting will open at 5pm and run until 9pm, giving you ample time to taste the wines and visit with our guests from Bordeaux. The tasting will include a spread of artisanal cheeses and breads chosen to help absorb the wines and refresh the palate. We will taste from Riedel Degustazione (tasting) glasses. The Vintage 2015 Mostly Cru Classé Bordeaux Tasting will cost $100.00 per person (including a 5% discount for cash or check, regular price is $105.26). To purchase your ticket, please contact Susan at 713-854-7855 or

The Crystal Ballroom at the Rice is located in downtown Houston at 909 Texas Avenue between Travis and Main. Valet Parking will be available.

If you buy a ticket and will not be able to attend, please cancel at least 24 hours before the event. No shows and later cancellations will be charged.