Bordeaux Dinner

At 7pm on Thursday, October 18th, please join me, Spec’s fine wine buyer Bear Dalton, at Lucio’sfor a fun and delicious look at 2012, 2014, and 2015 Left Bank Bordeaux paired with a wine friendly menu.  We’ll start with Champagne after which we will go directly to the 2014s paired with duck. After that, three 2015s with the lamb followed by three 2012s with the cheese. We’ll finish up with a fresh 2014 sauternes.

Crab Cake
Andre Clouet Cuvee 1911 Grand Cru, Champagne, NV

Grilled Duck Breast
with fennel puree,  spinach, date marmalade, and duck jus
Ch. Ferriere, Margaux, 2014
Ch. Saint Pierre, St. Julien, 2014
Ch. Pichon Lalande, Pauillac, 2014

Rack of Lamb with stacked potato
Ch. Ferriere, Margaux, 2015
Ch. Saint Pierre, St. Julien, 2015
Ch. Pichon Lalande, Pauillac, 2015

A selection of Cheeses
Ch. Ferriere, Margaux, 2012
Ch. Saint Pierre, St. Julien, 2012
Ch. Pichon Lalande, Pauillac, 2012

Crème Brulee
Lions de Ch. Sauduiraut, Sauternes, 2014

This Bordeaux Dinner will cost $160 per person including a 5% discount for cash or check (or $162.42 regular). All taxes and tips are included.
For reservations, please reply by email to
Please include a call back number in your email reply.
Lucio’s is located at 905 Taft.
Hope to see you there.

SOLD OUT – BORDEAUX VALUE: A Look at Where Value is Found in Bordeaux Wines

Coming into fall and hopefully coinciding with our first real cool front, this seems like a good time to taste through a range of Bordeaux wines all offering real value at their price points. So please join me, Spec’s fine wine buyer Bear Dalton at 7pm on Monday, October 15th at the Wine School at l’Alliance Française for BORDEAUX Value: A Look at Where Value is Found in Bordeaux Wines. In this seminar tasting, we’ll look at two white and ten red wines from around Bordeaux that offer both high quality and great value. Topics of discussion will include vintages, the styles of Bordeaux, and the grape varieties and techniques used to make the wines. Bread and cheese will be served. The ticket price will be donated to The Houston Area Women’s Center.

The following twelve Bordeaux wines will be served:
Ch. d’Archambeau Graves Blanc 2016
Ch. La Louviere Blanc Pessac Leognan 2015
Ch. Puygueraud Cotes De Francs 2015
Ch. Vieux Ch St Andre Montagne St Emilion 2015
Ch. Daugay St Emilion 2015
Ch. La Pointe Pomerol 2015
Ch. Carbonnieux Rouge Pessac Leognan 2015
Ch. Pontac Phenix Haut Medoc 2012
Ch. Cantemerle Haut Medoc 2014
Pavillon Leoville Poyferre St. Julien 2014
Ch. Ferriere Margaux 2012
Ch. Haut Batailley Pauillac 2011To buy your ticket, please contact Susan at 713-854-7855 or The cost of this class is a $20 donation (cash or check only please) to the Houston Area Women’s Center.About The Houston Area Women’s Center:
For over 35 years, the Houston Area Women’s Center has worked relentlessly to help survivors affected by domestic and sexual violence build lives free from the effects of violence. Given our humble beginnings – we started with nine active volunteers answering donated phones – we are proud at how we have grown. Today, we have 115 paid staff, a counseling and administrative building, a residential shelter for 120 women and children, a state-of-the-art hotline call center and over 1,000 active volunteers.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.

With almost 40 years experience in the wine business and 30 plus 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.

Taste DOMAINE de la POUSSE d’OR 2015s

Monday, September 24th at 7pm at the Wine School at l’Alliance Française

Originally created in 1954, the Domaine de la Pousse d’Or has long been among my favorite domaines of Burgundy. I first tasted two of the Volnays (Bousse d’Or and Clos de 60 Ouvrees) 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 have tasted at the domaine for the last sixteen years. Current owner Patrick Landanger purchased the property in 1997. Over all that time, I have watched Pousse d’Or grow 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 sixteen wines (one village appellation, twelve 1er crus, and three grand crus) from the estate, all of which are consistently excellent. (There are two wines – Chevalier Montrachet and Corton Bressandes – we don’t get yet.)  On Monday, September 24th at 7pm, please join me (Spec’s fine wine buyer Bear Dalton) at the Wine School at l’Alliance Française for a Tasting of Domaine de la Pousse d’Or 2015. We’ll taste through sixteen Pousse d’Or wines from the fine 2015 vintage including fifteen reds and one white with special attention paid to the specificity of place and process of each wine. Please note that this includes two versions of the Volnay En Caillerets, one aged in oak barrels and one aged in clay amphora.

The line up:
Pousse d’Or Santenay Clos Tavannes 1er Cru 2015
Pousse d’Or Pommard Les Jarollières 1er Cru 2015
Pousse d’Or Volnay En Caillerets 1er Cru 2015
Pousse d’Or Volnay En Caillerets (Amphora-Aged) 1er Cru  2015
Pousse d’Or Volnay Clos d’Audignac 1er Cru 2015
Pousse d’Or Volnay Clos de Bousse d’Or 1er Cru 2015
Pousse d’Or Volnay Clos des 60 Ouvrées 1er Cru 2015
Pousse d’Or Corton Clos du Roi Grand Cru 2015
Pousse d’Or Chambolle-Musigny Villages 2015
Pousse d’Or Chambolle-Musigny Les Groseilles 1er cru 2015
Pousse d’Or Chambolle-Musigny Les Feusselottes 1er Cru 2015
Pousse d’Or Chambolle-Musigny Les Charmes 1er Cru 2015
Pousse d’Or Chambolle-Musigny Les Amoureuses 1er Cru 2015
Pousse d’Or Bonnes Mares Grand Cru 2015
Pousse d’Or Clos de Roche Grand Cru 2015
Pousse d’Or Puligny-Montrachet Le Cailleret 1er Cru 2015

Domaine de la Pousse d’Or 2015 will cost $190.00 per person (Cash or Check) or $200.00 regular. The class will meet at 7pm on Monday September 24th at l’Alliance Française. To purchase your ticket, please contact Bear 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.

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.




REVEALING ROSÉ on 7/9/18 at the Wine School at l’Alliance Française

It’s time for me to start teaching again. What better way to get back into it than a summer Rosé class? So …

Please join Spec’s fine wine buyer Bear Dalton on Monday, July 9th at 7pm for Revealing Rosé. We’ll beat the heat as we dig into dry Rosé with look at sixteen refreshing 2017 vintage Rosé wines from all over France from Bordeaux to the Languedoc to Provence to the Rhone to Sancerre as well as wines from Spain and California representing the range of styles from “Beach” to “Food Friendly.” We’ll talk about the grapes, the places they’re grown, how they’re made, and the foods we eat with them. Bread and a selection of fine cheeses will accompany the tasting.

The List:
Honoro Vera Rosé Jumilla 2017
Pierre Rougon Rosé d’Aix En Provence 2017
Pierre Rougon Rosé Cote Du Rhone 2017
Mourgues Du Gres Rosé Les Galets Costieres de Nimes 2017
Alexander Valley Sangiovese Rosé 2017
Rosé De Chevalier Bordeaux 2017
Canto Perdrix Tavel Rosé 2017
Ch d’Esclans Whispering Angel Provence Rosé 2017
Averaen Rosé Of Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2017
Malene Rosé Santa Barbara 2017
Domaine de Mourchon CdRV Loubie Rosé 2017
Hecht and Bannier Rosé Cotes De Provence 2017
Long Meadow Ranch Rosé Of Pinot Noir 2017
Montmirail Rossignol Rosé Gigondas 2017
Domaine Du Pre Semele Sancerre Rosé 2017
Ch d’Esclans Rock Angel Rosé 2017

Revealing Rosé will cost $50.00 per person cash ($52.63 regular).
The class will meet at 7pm on Monday, July 9th at l’Alliance Française.
To purchase your ticket(s), please contact Susan at 713-854-7855 or

L’Alliance Françaiseis 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.

With almost 40 years experience in the wine business and 30-plus 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.


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.








WOW’s 7th Annual Sangria Throw Down – June 11th

Please join me at …

Women of Wine Charities presents their 7th annual SANGRIA THROW DOWN featuring unique Sangrias from 14 of Houston’s top mixologists … and me. Join us at Mercedes Benz of Houston Greenway (3900 Southwest Fwy, Houston, TX 77027) on Monday June 11 from 6:30 – 8:30pm to sip and savor Sangria in its many forms along with nibbles and fun. Admission is $70.00 per person and it all benefits the Houston Area Women’s Center. Please Click Here to purchase your tickets.

I won the Judges Choice and Peoples Choice awards two years ago with my Green Sangria (just so you know) and am back this year with my new recipe – Carpe Sangria!  In it to win it!

WOW’s Official Sangria Throw Down Sponsors …