Starting our countdown to our favorite pairing of 2017!

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As this year comes to a close (wait... whaaaa? How did that happen?!?!), we wanted to highlight some of our favorite pairings from this past year.

Our first is from our "American Mosaic" program that we performed just a few weeks ago in New York City. Our two musical selections, "O mio babbino caro" from Puccini's Gianni Schicchi and "Life is beautiful" from the movie of the same name are familiar to us all, and we felt that each played to a particular role in the pairing. Their tasting partners were the Sonoma County 2012 Bucklin Ancient Field Blend from the Vinfluence portfolio, Sottocenere al tartufo from Murray's Cheese, and Dutch Dark from Honey Mama's (soy, gluten, dairy, and grain free, I'll have you know!)

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We were so taken by Will's – the winemaker – story, particularly his dedication to walking his vineyards every day and addressing the vines individually... as if they had their own personality. Our first musical selection has the protagonist, Lauretta, cutting through the cacophony of the rest of the opera to address her father very quietly one-on-one. "Life is beautiful," on the other hand, reflects the rustic quality of this wine.

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Sottocenere al tartufo is one of my all-time favorite cheeses. It's way up there on the flavor meter yet paired wonderfully with the dark, ripe fruit flavors in our wine. The Dutch Dark gave an extra flavor kick at the end of the pairing.
 

 

Definitely one of the highlights of our 2017 pairings!

Happy Thanksgiving from Five Senses Tastings!

This week, we are going to leave the music, wine, and food choices up to you.

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Thanksgiving is a personal and family affair, and we wouldn't purport to have better ideas than your Aunt Susie or those generous folk hosting you for Friendsgiving.

We will simply encourage you to try something new this year. Try serving the bubbly that you typically reserve for New Year's Eve (Sommariva Prosecco is an excellent option), opt for a gourmet cheese platter with Goat cheese, St. André, Comté, and Aged Cheddar instead of your usual pre-dinner nibbles, and dabble in some different versions of the Holiday music you've been listening for the past couple of decades.

We wish you a very safe and Happy Thanksgiving!

Why being a good host(ess) matters just as much as creating the perfect event

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For me, there is nothing more rewarding than seeing someone come back to attend a second one of our events. It's happened a few times, and each time, I am again touched by a feeling of intense humility that this person should entrust me with their time and money because, I can only presume, they feel I have given them an experience worthy of said time and money.

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I have heard from many of my clients and guests at public events about how much they have enjoyed the customized tasting experience, that they find the pairings delightful and the stories engaging. And yet, call me self-centered if you like, but I am often most surprised and moved by how they single me out, calling me out by name in public and private testimonials to tell me how much they appreciated... me. My easy-going nature, my embracing of how things can go wrong and making them simply part of the evening in a humorous manner, my dedication to the perfection of the story of the evening, my interactions with them throughout the night.

I have heard that people appreciate that I do not spend all evening mired in the red fruit aromas and the tannic structure of the wines we serve, that I play and interact with the other musicians and with the audience, making them feel at ease, as if they were in their own living room. It took me a while for those types of comments really to sink in but after a while, I realized that what they were reacting to was, yes, in technical terms, ME, but in abstract terms, their host(ess). 

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How often, after all, have you been to an event – whether large or small – where someone checks you in and then... well, was that person the host? Or... where is the host? Or is there a hostess? The concept of welcoming people, of giving them a center of energy from which they can begin their evening's entertainment is of utmost importance and, I believe, massively undervalued in today's special events world. 

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All these points, and so many more, are why I so adore being hostess to groups of around 25-40 people. In such an intimate setting, I'm able to be the hostess you'll remember, the hostess who cares and is able to attend to the needs of each individual guest, the hostess who remembers you when you come back a second time.

A Pairing inspired by the Sun

String Quartets Op. 20, "The Sun" by Joseph Haydn
"Here comes the sun" by The Beatles
"Morning Mood" from Peer Gynt, Op. 23 by Edvard Grieg

Our musical selections for this week's pairing are inspired by the same thing that inspires our winemakers of the week: the sun. Listen carefully to how each composer and songwriter creates their own unique melodic and harmonic identity for our bright, warm star!

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Wine
Don't take it from me. Take it from wine guru Jancis Robinson, who told listeners of the Splendid Table podcast during their Thanksgiving episode that her favorite grape is Riesling. This week we're hanging out with the 2015 Dry Riesling from Solminer in Los Olivos. As with many of our pairings, it's the winemaker's story that we want to highlight through our musical choices. We can't really tell it any better than they, so, here is David and Anna deLaski's story. Pick up or order a couple bottles of this amazing wine for your Thanksgiving dinner!

"Sol-miner as in mining the "Sun" which in turn nourishes the soul. The name inspires us to discover and unearth the treasures in the soils of the California Central Coast... We have a feeling of connectedness as each trip around the sun gives us the chance to experience the magical process of exchange from the dirt, plants, fruit, wine, humans, sky, moon, sun and stars."

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Cheese
Inspired to try something new as my holiday party treat this year, I fell upon this recipe from Delish for Brie and Cranberry bites. I'll admit I could have done better with the presentation, but they sure are, sorry for the pun, delish!

And what a perfect pairing with the Riesling! It's super fruity and floral on the nose, and the tangy citrus mixed with stone fruit give you a clean, refreshing finish on the palate that really balance out the saltiness of the warm, melted Brie.

Is Riesling making a comeback?

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Music
“Bird on a wire” by Leonard Cohen * “Autumn in New York” from Thumps Up!” by Vernon Duke * “50 ways to leave your lover” by Paul Simon

Leonard Cohen used to start his concerts with the song, "Bird on the Wire," saying it would "return him to his duties," so we recently began our program in New York with this song. Most of us have heard and love the beautiful song, "Autumn in New York," but few of us know that it comes from a musical by Vernon Duke called "ThumbsUp!" Plus, it was so very fitting for our event in October in ... New York. Our last song,"50 ways to leave your lover" by Paul Simon, is inspired by the very small production – just 50 cases – of this wine. We figure... one case = one way to leave your lover. So drink and listen up!

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Wine
If you'd asked me a couple years ago to name a wine from Germany, I'd have crinkled my nose and sheepishly answered... "Um... Riesling?" That's until I learned about the unbelievably diverse varieties of wine originating from my birth country as well as the unbelievable diversity of Riesling itself. This week we dive into the 2016 Benevolent Neglect Riesling from Mendocino County in California. Old world inspired but definitely Californian, this winery makes very small quantities of their wine, trying to make wine that is the truest expression of the vineyard and the vintage. This wine is pale straw in color, with fresh, ripe peaches, nectarines, citrus, and honeysuckle jumping out of the glass. On a sweetness scale, we're at about a 2 out of 10 with this bottle.

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Cheese
In my opinion, ricotta is an underrated cheese, mostly because we don't often taste it on its own, finding it more commonly buried in layers of lasagna. However, isolating it on a lovely brioche toast and garnishing it with a drizzle of EVOO and some Himalayan pink salt brings out the slight tartness of the cheese, and the texture is a lovely complement to the freshness of the Riesling. It's worth splurging on a really good Ricotta from a cheese store but store-bought is also delicious! 

What did you think of this week's pairing? Let us know by sharing your thoughts on our Facebook page.

Sweater weather... time for those big, juicy reds!

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Venice... sad? Impossible! Charles Aznavour sure thought it could be – in EnglishFrench, AND Italian – but with this wine and cheese pairing, we know you'll experience pure bliss. And... why not look forward to Summertime in Venice next year?

Wine
Oh Amarone... you've always had my heart. Unfortunately, you aren't always so nice to my pocket book, and so I don't get to hang out with you too much. BUT when your neighborhood Trader Joe's has one this good, well, it's a no brainer and a total steal at $17. Aramone di Valpolicella from Italy's northeastern region of Veneto is full-bodied and is made from dried (or passito) grapes: perfect for sweater weather. Fun fact about this region: it's actually really small, smaller in fact that any of Italy's other main wine-producing regions... but it produces more wine than any of them. So get stuck into this bottle of full-bodied, low-acid deliciousness!

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Cheese
Parmigiano Reggiano (colloquially known by most of us as Parmesan) is so much more than just a garnish on your pasta dish... though you should aaaaalways have it as a garnish on your pasta dish. Like champagne, this unpasteurized cow's milk cheese can only be called by its true name if it comes from the regions of Parma, Reggio Emilia (you see where the name comes from!), Bologna, Modena, and Mantua. The crumbly saltiness of this cheese works so well with the rich mouthfeel of this Amarone. Treat yourselves, friends... then tell us how much you loved it!

A trio of yummyness!

Music
This week, we're exploring a trio of beautiful female songs and voices to mirror the trio of wines in this delicious red blend from Turkey: the 2013 Pamukkale Anfora Trio, which is a blend of Kalecik Karasi, Shiraz, and Cabernet.

First up is Erik Satie's absolutely sensuous song, "Je te veux" – I want you. This version by the amazing Jessye Norman! Make sure you're alone (or with the right someone) when listening to "Chanson d'O" by Françoise Hardy. From her 11th album, La question, this song is sparsely orchestrated and sung without words... though no less devoid of feeling. We round off this pairing with a soft version of a jazz classic, "Smile," by songstress, Madeleine Peyroux. 

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Wine
In case you haven't tried wines from Turkey before, please do yourself a favor and get stuck in. There are some real treasures to be found! This powerful complex red uses Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon as supporting acts for the local Turkish Kalecik Karasi grape. As Turkey’s premium red variety, it is renowned for its rich colour and red fruit and cocoa flavours. From vineyards high on the limestone-rich Guney Plateau, this red does not spend any time in oak and revels in its own complexity, much like the three pieces we're "tasting" this week.

Notes for the wine adapted from notes on TasteTurkey.net

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Chocolate
I've never been much of a milk chocolate fan myself, so this 80% dark from Jacques Torres is right up my alley (though probably about as bitter as I can go)! If it's a little much for you, feel free to go for a lower cocoa content but I wouldn't recommend heading much below 70%. Enjoy and Şerefe!
 

A triumphant return to New York City!

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Five Senses Tastings and Vinfluence came together last week in New York City for an evening of full-sensory cultural (and viticultural) exploration! Through music, food and wine we tasted a bit of our collective heritage and explored some of the various influences on American culture.

Our guests' senses took flight with live musical performances, each expertly paired with tastings of wine, cheese, and chocolate to bring out the essence and personality of each sensory element!

This unique event was led by two womein-in-wine entrepreneurs: Kala Maxym and Shannon Westfall

The event featured performers: 

  • Shira Averbuch, Vocalist
  • Kala Maxym, Vocalist
  • Dan Nadel, Guitarist
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Performance-paired wines curated by Vinfluence.
Welcome bubbly provided by Célange.
Cheeses by Murray's Cheese.
Artisanal chocolate crafted by Honey Mama's.

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ALL PROFITS WERE DONATED SUPPORT WILDFIRE RELIEF & RECOVERY EFFORTS IN NAPA & SONOMA COUNTIES

Starting on Sunday, October 8th, California's Wine Country in the North Bay Area has been ravaged by wildfires that have scorched 220,000 acres, destroyed an estimated 5,700 structures and caused at least 40 deaths. Wine Country needs our help. Donations will be split evenly between the following two organizations:

Spend the evening above the skyline at 555TEN, 56 stories of elevated Midtown Manhattan living by Extell Development.

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A raucous gypsy song, a GSM, a triple-cream cheese, and raw honey chocolate...mmmmm

Music
I'm just going to go ahead and say it: Carmen is the most seductive woman in opera. Period. 
She is also the subject of this week's pairing. You probably know the "Habanera" and the "Séguidille" but you might not have heard Carmen's third act aria, "Les tringles des sistres tintaient," a raucous gypsy song that practically explodes with energy. It's three verses perfectly mirror the three wines in this blend. To my mind, there is simply no more intoxicating version of this piece than that sung by Maria Callas.
 

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Wine
The 2013 Latta Latta GSM was introduced to us by Vinfluence founder, Shannon Westfall, and we are presenting this wine – in fact this entire pairing – at our event tonight in New York City. Garnet in color, it has mineral, savory, and bright cherry aromatics from the Grenache, a deep meaty bramble quality from the Syrah, and an earthy wildness from the Mourvèdre. 
 

 

 

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Cheese
You've probably seen Delice de Bourgogne in one of our previous pairings, and it's because it simply goes with everything (well not everything but kind of everything). You can find it easily at Trader Joe's and other grocery stores but it's still unknown enough to blow the minds of your guests when you hand them this pairing. Right off the bat, it's a triple-cream so... definitely for the faint of heart, or flavor. Eat this for breakfast or dessert and when not paired with this red blend, try it with sparkling wine. The bubbles will cut right through that rich creaminess on the palate! If this is a little much for you, try a Swiss Comté.
 

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Chocolate
Treat yourself to the sublime! Honey Mama’s chocolate bars are raw honey-sweetened cocoa treats made from five nutrient-rich ingredients. Each bar has a base of raw honey and virgin coconut oil, with the addition of cocoa powder, Himalayan pink salt, and either sprouted almonds OR shredded coconut. That’s it! The Lavender Rose Chocolate is elevated with heavenly lavender essential oil and topped with elegant rose petals. Divine! Oh, and it's also nut-free!

Indulge your senses this Holiday season with an exclusive music and wine tasting event

No time of the year is more about sensory indulgence – in every sense of the word – than the Holiday season.

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This year Five Senses Tastings partners with LAWineFest to bring all your senses together in an immersive, innovative, full-sensory experience in your home or business.

LAWineFest President Sara Fisher Chapin and Five Senses Tastings Founder and Chief Event Composer Kala Maxym creatively meld Holiday tunes and stories from around the world with carefully selected wine – or cocktail – pairings and accompanying nibbles and sweet treats. It’s all the things we love the most curated in a way that is meaningful to you. 

Five Senses Tastings presented a music and wine tasting at Héritage Fine Wines in Beverly Hills.

Our events are a fun and powerful way to deliver a memorable experience to your hard-working colleagues and employees, to differentiate your business for special clients and investors, or to end the year on a high note!

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For a flat fee of just $2,500 Five Senses Tastings and our partner, LAWineFest, will provide a three-course music, wine, and food tasting for up to 25 people in your home, office, or designated public venue.

Need something fully-customized to tell your special story? No problem! Contact Us today for more information and a FREE consultation!

Celebrating Indigenous people's day

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In many cities across the country, including Los Angeles, Columbus Day is being renamed as Indigenous Peoples Day. In celebration of that, we wanted to bring you a wine made by, I am fairly certain, the only female Native American winemaker in the country, Tara Gomez of Kitá Wines.

Music
The seductive aromas of the 2012 Kalas are what we're pairing to with our musical selection this week: an aria from Franz Lehar's operetta Giuditta entitled "Meine Lippen, sie küssen so heiss." Translation: My lips, they kiss so hot" (oh my!) The declamatory opening chords grab your ears straight away, then fade away into a swaying, seductive minor key verse, which then opens up until a major tonality that even further broadens that three-beat swaying waltz feel. Utterly sensuous! Make sure to listen for the switch back and forth between verse and refrain as you take in the many and diverse flavors and aromas of this lovely pairing.

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Wine

The 2012 Kalas is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. It's a deep colored wine with immediate seductive aromatics that play with your senses and just cry out for some musical accompaniment. The nose is incredibly lush, the depth of flavors is rich and includes mulberry, violet, green olives, cedar, and underlying mineral characteristics. This wine is fruit driven, yet textured and structured throughout the palate. The crisp acidity balances the complex and dynamic tannic finish. At $50 it's perhaps not an absolutely everyday wine but it's certainly worth the extra pennies for a special occasion

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Cheese
Beemster X-O is not for the faint of heart! It has a deep ocher interior and a firm, crumbly texture. True to the characteristics of Beemster’s unique milk, this cheese retains a creamy mouthfeel, even though it's aged for more than two years. The crunchy crystals surprise the palate and are tempered by the warmth and velvety mouthfeel of the Kalas. Even those who don't typically like strong flavored cheese like this change their tune when trying Beemster, and it's always a crowd favorite.

Bubbles in the fall?

This week it really started to feel like fall in LA. The days are still warm but the nights are getting dark much earlier, and there's a crispness in the air that signals fall is here to stay!

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Wine
I introduced this wine's cousin, Perle Noire, in a summer pairing a while ago and am excited to bring the Perle d'Aurore to light this week as proof that it doesn't need to be summer to enjoy a good rosé or bubbly! This divine wine is first crushed in a pneumatic press, and then undergoes alcoholic fermentation in stainless steel tanks. It is then bottled to form its bubbles through the méthode traditionelle, then aged for 15 months to ensure the lees (sediment of wine in the barrel) impart maximum aroma and finesse. Be prepared for the surprising attack in the mouth, though, as this is definitely a wine to be reckoned with! Consider placing a few pomegranate seeds or blackberries in your glass for extra fun!
Use Wine-Searcher.com to figure out where you can find this delicious wine in your neighborhood!

 

 

Music
For this pairing, we recommend sticking with the classical repertoire, even going as back as far as Bach or Vivaldi whose light instrumentation support the elegance of the Perle d'AuroreChopin waltzes and mazurkas will bring those boisterous bubbles to life, and even though we're dealing with a solo instrument here – the piano – the full and lively harmonies in Chopin's work are perfect for this wine. My favorite is Waltz #5 in A-flat Major, Op. 42, "Two Four." Everyone interprets Chopin a little differently but I recommend Vladimir Ashkenazy, Idil Beret, or Arthur Rubinstein. Put the waltzes on, and just relax into these spectacular nuggets of musical delight.

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Cheese
You probably recognize the top cheese in this picture as plain goat cheese. The tartness of the cheese is tempered really well by the bubbles in the wine. On the bottom is Delice de Bourgogne, a crowd favorite. The bubbles cut through the fat (it's a triple cream cheese), making it easier just to keep eating and eating it!

This is a really decadent, feel-good pairing, something I'm sure we could all use these days. Let us know what you loved about it.

Puerto Rico, estamos contigo!

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Between the prospect of nuclear war and the myriad of natural disasters occurring around the globe, it's hard to know where to turn our attention these days, isn't it? This week, as an island of 3.5 million of our fellow Americans sits without power and largely without running water, I wanted to take some time to honor the rich culture of music, food, and drink from this beautiful island.
Puerto Rico, estamos contigo!


Music
Puerto Rico has a massively diverse and fabulous musical tradition, stemming from the continent of Africa (rhythms and drumming, especially), Europe (primarily religious music from Spain), and of course the Caribbean. The danza of the 19th century forms the basis of much of the popular dance rhythms and music of today. The leader of the pack was Juan Morel Campos – half Dominican, half Venezuelan – who composed over 550 pieces of music in his short 38 years, including symphonies, operas, waltzes, and, of course, danzas. His danzas are largely based on stories of unrequited love. "No me toques" is one of his best known. The list of amazing music and musicians is far too long to include here but try some of José Feliciano's music (yes, he wrote way more than just "Feliz Navidad"), and let us know what you think. And of course then there's Luis Fonsi...

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Drink
Have you ever noticed that rum is one of those drinks you buy around the holidays, perhaps to bake a rum cake or some other dessert, and then leave sitting around the liquor cabinet all year collecting dust? Yep...  I might just be one of those people. Puerto Rico's climate makes it ideal for growing the sugar cane from which rum is made. In fact, about 80% of the rum consumed in the U.S. comes from Puerto Rico so let's keep it going!! The most well-known rum drinks, of course, are the piña colada and the daiquiri but why stop there? Here is a list of another 10 other delicious rum-based cocktails to check out while you're listening to the danzas and other amazing melodies from Puerto Rico.

Songs and Sips of Travel

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For some reason I've been asked a lot lately when I'll next be traveling. It's been a while since I've embarked on a big adventure, but there's no reason we can't do that with our minds and through beautiful music and delicious tastes.

Music
"The Vagabond," the first in a series of nine songs called "Songs of Travel," by Ralph Vaughan Williams has been a favorite song of mine for as long as I can remember. The manner in which the composer evokes the challenges and deep loneliness, the fears and triumphs that are our constant companions when we travel has always touched me deeply. The incomparable Welsh bass-baritone Bryn Terfel is our choice for the perfect storyteller as he introduces us to our weary traveler.

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Wine
I promise we'll leave Spain next week (actually, why on earth would I promise such a ridiculous thing!) but for now we're still there. Not only are we drinking a glorious wine whose name is right in keeping with our theme of travel but buying this wine also helps worthy causes since 100% of the proceeds go to charity. The 2016 Liquid Geography Rosado is 100% Mencia (perhaps a new grape for some of you?) from the Bierzo region in northwestern Spain. It comes from 50-year old vines and is completely unoaked. Beautiful pale pink in color, this wine exhibits aromas and flavors of strawberries, red-currant and white pepper and pairs well with pizza and white meat dishes.

Where is your next adventure?

The obsession with all things Spanish continues...

One of my favorite things is discovering new artists and new music. I mean, that is sort of one of the main points of the business, amiright? This week, I stumbled across Reina del Cid. Every Sunday she publishes a new video to her YouTube channel in the spirit of staying close and intimate with her followers. Love this! Soft and sultry, it's also powerful and, while we're at it, completely in tune! Check out "Slip slide on by," a Valerie June cover.

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Wine
If you think about Spanish wine, you think of Rioja, right? Or maybe Albariño if you like white. But who's heard of Verdejo? It's one of my increasingly favorite grapes out of my beloved Spain, located in the Rueda region. I'm sorry, where? Situated on the flat high plains just south of the city of Valladolid, it's no surprise you've not heard of or visited it as few outsiders find this on their travel itinerary. The region produces some really exciting wines, however, and we wanted to draw your attention to it. This week, we tried the 2014 Finca Montepedroso Verdejo, available for about $16. To be honest, it fell a bit flat on my palate, couldn't quite figure out what I was tasting... until I paired it with food. 

Food
A grilled salmon steak and some grilled artichokes (an often neglected vegetable in my opinion) with some garlic-lemon-butter sauce brought this wine to life for me. The salmon acquires a lovely sweetness on the grill as do the artichokes, and the lemon brings out the fruitiness of the wine that might otherwise get a bit lost in the ... dare we call it... flabby finish.

What do YOU think of this pairing?

Light, bright, and white for Labor Day!

We're not really going to spend time debating whether you can or can't wear white after Labor Day, are we?
Good, cuz we really don't wanna.

Instead we thought we'd share our tips for getting through the Labor Day weekend with summery sounds and delicious treats that minimize opportunities to stain your pristine white clothing.

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Music
If you saw the title of this email and immediately turned on the Beatles' "White Album" (this version unplugged) or "Knights in White Satin" by the Moody Blues, you're right in sync with us. Who could help but immediately think of these iconic songs!

For those of you with little ones heading back to school, they will soon arrive home with a classmate in tow exclaiming "We're going to be friends." And, for those of you needing something a little more soothing, bask in the sounds of "Summer" from Vivaldi's Four Seasons.

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Wine
As we start to say farewell to summer, it seemed only right to allow theTintoretto to make an appearance.

A twist on the more traditional Bellini (you might remember it from last week's pairing), the Tintoretto substitutes pomegranate juice for peach nectar and is added to Prosecco or other sparkling wine.

This adds a touch of tartness and, depending on how much you add, creates a rainbow of color from a light summer-sunset color to rich, ruby red (watch those whites!!).

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Sweet Treats
This week, it's DOUBLE sweet treats as we pair lemon-lime cupcakesand vanilla meringues with our music and wine selections! For a crisp sweetness that will cut through the bubbles in your drink, the meringue is just perfect. If you're looking to pair to the tartness of the pomegranate juice, the cupcake makes the perfect companion.

ENJOY the long weekend, friends, and Happy Labor Day!!

On confronting rejection and creating your own luck

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I try to be as transparent as I can always about my experiences as an entrepreneur and business owner. As they always say, if it were easy, everyone would do it.

My discussion with the powerful, radiant, and, honey-voiced Elayne Fluker of "Support is Sexy" Podcast really pushed me to face my life as a solopreneur in a way I don't know that I had done before. Her questions were incisive but warm, challenging but humorous. It's not every day that we get to tell our stories and even less frequently that we are allowed to let down our guards and admit to the feelings of inadequacy, rejection, dejection, even failure.

I did this interview about six weeks ago and in that time, I have faced some cold, hard truths about myself as a human, as a woman, as a partner, as a member of a family, as an entrepreneur, as a woman with more grey hair than she'd really like to see on her head... but then I heard this podcast, and I realized: yes, this is me. This is 100% me. I told no lies, I covered nothing up, I told the truth about the things that were hard and broke me along the way, as well as the lessons I've learned and the people along the way who have lifted me up.

Thank you, Elayne, for this opportunity to open my heart and my soul and to talk about life as a small business owner the way it really is.

Peachy keen and bubbly!

"Come the day you're mine
I'm gonna teach you to fly
We've only tasted the wine
We're gonna drain the cup dry."


from "The best is yet to come"

Music
If, like me, you're starting to feel the end-of-summer blues, let this week's pairing be a reminder that things are still peachy keen and that "The best is yet to come! Though written for and introduced to the world by Tony Bennett, it was Frank Sinatra who popularized this song (the linked version is from his final performance in 1995). As we begin to wave buh-bye to summer, let us remember that the best days are still ahead.

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Wine
This week we sample one of those "Crémant de Somewheres" you keep hearing about (Crémant de Bourgogne and Crémant de Limoux are the two you've likely seen popping up on shelves recently). The Perle Noire by Louis Bouillot is absolutely one of my favorites! In our extremely humble opinion, these Crémants can be even more delicious than their typically much more expensive cousins over in Champagne (don't tell them I said that). Taste the delicate, silky robe of bubbles and make sure to hold a sip in your mouth before swallowing to let the bubbles dance all over your tongue! Why not make the Frenchies squirm and add a small pour of peach nectar for a Bellini!

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Sweet Treat
Because California stays warm into much of the fall, peach season can last through the end of September. There are endless things we can do with peaches: can them, make pies out of them, slurp them fresh from the farmer's market stand... but consider baking them! Instead of vanilla ice cream, try serving them over fresh ricotta cheese with a drizzle of honey and a sprig of mint... perfect for pairing with the Perle Noire Crémant de Bourgogne. YUM!

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Staying true to our Red, White, and Blue

"I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant." - Martin Luther King, Jr.

America_Flag_Five_Senses_Tastings

Our "Red, White, and Blue" Pairing of the Week this week is the smallest possible attempt to bring some light to a week full of darkness. We sample delicious things from coast to coast this week while we remember all the goodness, diversity, and beauty that surround and unite us.

Aaron_Copland_Five_Senses_Tastings

Music:
Aaron Copland's "Fanfare for the Common Man" was written in 1942 in response to America's entry into WWII and Vice-President Henry Wallace's comment that we were entering the "Century of the Common Man." The short piece for brass and percussion is touching and approachable yet the open, almost hollow-sounding intervals have a hint of the mysterious about them. There is plenty of air in between musical entrances and in those open chords allowing plenty of time to take in the rich aromas and flavors of our wine and cheese choices. 

American composer Carlisle Floyd composed his opera Susanna in the mid-1950s, some speculate as a response to the paranoia of McCarthyism. It tells the story of 18-year old Susanna from New Hope Valley, Tennessee who is shunned by her community initially only because of her innocence and beauty. The beginning of her aria, "Aint it a pretty night?" is soft gentle opening but rises in intensity as she dreams of bigger things away from her hometown. Think of those big dreams as you sip your wine! As an aside, this version was recorded a few years ago at Ash Lawn Opera in Charlottesville, Virginia by my friend, Leah Partridge.

Turiya_Wines_Five_Senses_Tastings

Wine
Turiya: a state of consciousness wherein reality and truth are harmonious.
Turiya WInes is run by our friend, Angela Soleno, up in Lompoc, CA. I had the chance to meet her and taste her truly magnificent wines a few weeks ago. This 2009 Petite Verdot particularly blew my mind. The price tag on this bottle calls for a special occasion, but the message behind its name hits so close to home as to merit being included in this week's pairing.

Bitchfix_Five_Senses_Tastings

White Chocolate
As we all know, white chocolate isn't really chocolate but rather a mixture of cocoa butter, sugar, and milk solids. Some love it, others hate it, but it's worth a try if you're still a skeptic.

Try this delicious truffle, humorously named Passion Aggressive from our friends over at Bitchfix

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Bayley Hazen Blue
From the beautiful state of Vermont, the Bayley Hazen Blue is my go-to blue cheese on any day. Named for an old military road commissioned by George Washington, Bayley has a fudge-like texture, toasted-nut sweetness, and anise spice character. The paste is dense and creamy, with well-distributed blue veins. Why not try it with a bite of white and bite of dark chocolate and taste the difference!
(notes borrowed from Jasper Hill Farm's website).

Who's coming to Venice with me this week?

"Venice is eternity itself." - Joseph Brodsky, Poet Laureate

Our Pairing of the Week this week is inspired by the sounds and flavors of 18th Century Venice. Surely one of the most magical cities in the world, especially in summertime, Venice in the 1700s was at the height of its elegance and grandeur, something to which it never quite returned after the invasion by Napoleon in 1797. 

Venice_Wine_Food_Watermelon

Music:
This week, we're listening to just one piece: Vivaldi's Gloria. You'll have to forgive me. I'm a bit obsessed with this piece as I am lucky enough to have the chance to perform it tonight at the Hollywood Bowl with the Pacific Chorale and the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

Honestly, regardless of whether this weekly pairing is wholly self-indulgent (and let's face it, most of them are), this piece – which I guarantee you've heard parts of  before even if you don't know it – is sublime in both subtlety and intricacy of melodic and harmonic structure and flow.

In modern speak, it's an "approachable" piece of classical music, but to leave it there would be to cheapen its value. It's so much more than that. Take the time to find those moment of utter – pardon the pun – glory. Taste the playful conversations between voices perhaps best exemplified in the 3rd movement, "Laudamus te," relish in the divine dissonances especially in the 2nd movement, "Et in terra pax" that requires epic breath control and much staggered breathing, and don't be embarrassed to shake your booty in the 6th movement, "Domine fili." Even on stage, we're all doing it just a little bit!
No, really, it's ok ... nobody's watching :)

Food:
Did you know that there is an actual Watermelon Festival? in Venice? In August? Yep, neither did I but I assure you, it's a thing. To me watermelon is one of the most playful fruits, and there is no more simple pleasure a hot summer evening than slurping on a slice of this sweet treat. It makes me think of kids grabbing a piece between cannonballs in a swimming pool or people passing slices around at a backyard BBQ. Better yet, try mixing the leftover watermelon juice into your glass of...

Drink:
...what else, Prosecco! The Italian version of sparkling wine is a summer necessity but do yourself a favor and go to an actual wine store, talk to an actual person, and pick out something that isn't La Marca, ok? You can thank me later.

Now, throw open the windows or go out on the porch and enjoy this delectable summer pairing!