Five Houstonians Head to Dallas for Master Sommelier Exams

Categories: Wine Time

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Photo by Jeremy Parzen.
From left, Master Sommelier Jesse Becker from Chicago with Master Sommelier candidates Ben Roberts, Travis Hinkle, David Keck, and James Watkins. Hinkle, Keck, and Watkins, along with two other Houstonians, will be taking their Court of Master Sommeliers theory exams on Monday in Dallas.
Roughly 600 wine professionals from across the United States applied last year to the Court of Master Sommeliers, said Master Sommelier Jay Fletcher who sits on the court's board. Five years ago, he noted, that number was closer to 100.

The allure of the court, with its coveted pin and the professional cachet that it confers upon the wearer, has become so strong that it simply cannot accommodate the overwhelming number of aspiring Master Sommeliers.

That's only made the competition more intense.


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"Wine Lists in Gay Bars Don't Have to Be Bad": Montrose Beverage Director Hal Brock Shakes Things Up

Categories: Wine Time

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Photo by Jeremy Parzen.
Boheme beverage director Hal Brock was disappointed by the dull wine lists in Montrose and decided to change that.
Of all the nightlife hotspots in Montrose, Boheme on Fairview might have the most diverse crowd. Even on a chilly evening in February, you'll find a balanced mix of gay and straight couples, singles (men and women), and a preponderance of young southeast Asian expats who, like many Houstonians, come for the cozy patio bar.

It's no surprise that the clientele at this smart cafe and bar is a cross section of the city's anatomy, mirroring the heterogeneity that makes it such a great place to live.

The only thing that seems out of place is its ambitious wine program.

"When I was single and I was going out in Montrose," said Boheme beverage director Hal Brock (who's now in a relationship), "I couldn't understand why no one at a gay bar could write a good wine list."


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A Houston Sommelier on Top of the World in New York City

Categories: Wine Time

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Photo by Jeremy Parzen.
As the wine director of Danny Meyer's new Manhattan restaurant Marta, former Pappas Bros. sommelier Jack Mason has reached a pinnacle of the wine trade.
As Houston's allure as a leading international wine destination continues to grow, a number of New York restaurant pros have found their way here.

Pappas Bros. Steakhouse sommelier Steven McDonald is one of them. The San Antonio-born wine stud made a name for himself working at the Michelin-starred Ai Fiori in Manhattan before returning to Texas a few years ago.

Vanessa Treviño Boyd is another. Today, she is the beverage director at the swank Lakeside Country Club in Memorial. But before she came back to her native Texas, she had worked as the wine director at Adour at the St. Regis Hotel in New York, where the celebrated French chef Alain Ducasse once wowed Manhattanites with his spectacular cooking (now closed).

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Chateau Owners From France Visit Houston for a Huge Wine-Tasting Event Featuring More than 60 Bordeaux Wines

Categories: Wine Time

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Photo by Mai Pham
A representative from Bordeaux pours wine at the Mostly Cru Classe Bordeaux Tasting in the Rice Crystal Ballroom.

If you're a lover of old world wines, specifically Bordeaux wines from France, you'll want to pay attention, because next week, on Tuesday, January 20, a delegation of more than 45 Bordeaux producers -- many of them owners and winemakers -- will be coming to Houston for an extravagant tasting event of more than 60 "mostly" Cru Classé Bordeaux wines from the 2012 vintage.

"2012 is considered a classic vintage," says Bear Dalton, Spec's fine wine buyer, and one of the organizers of the event. "That means that when you taste the wines from the different properties, the wines will show the true character of that particular terroir," he explains. "The 2009 and 2010 Bordeaux vintages were really great, but when you taste them, the vintage takes over, and you taste less of the differences exhibited by each of the properties."

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10 Tips for New Year's Eve Bubbles

Categories: Wine Time

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Photo by Jeremy Parzen.
Some of the world's greatest sparkling wines, like this Franciacorta made from Pinot Noir, are rosé.
As you head this week to your favorite wine shop to pick up sparkling wine for the New Year's Eve celebration, here are some tips that will help you get the most out of your sparkling-wine experience.

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10 Things Every Self-Respecting Wine Lover Should Know About Prosecco

Categories: Wine Time

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Photo by Jeremy Parzen.
Top-tier Prosecco "DOCG" is produced in the townships of Valdobbiadene, Conegliano, and Asolo (above).
Can you imagine a wine world without Prosecco? Just a few decades ago, Prosecco was hardly known beyond the city of Venice where it is liberally consumed and the province of Treviso where it is produced. Today, exports of Prosecco rival those of Champagne, in both volume and sales numbers.

The Prosecco boom of the 1980s and 1990s is owed to a handful of forward-thinking négociant producers who envisioned its potential in English- and German-speaking markets.

But recent changes in appellation regulations and deceptive marketing practices have created growing confusion among consumers and tradespeople alike.

Here are 10 Things Every Self-Respecting Wine Lover Should Know About Prosecco.

10. In 2009, three townships were included in the newly created Prosecco DOCG, the highest designation in the Italian appellation system: Valdobbiadene, Conegliano, and Asolo, hilltop towns that abound with steep slopes ideal for growing Glera grapes for Prosecco.

This story continues on the next page.

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10 Things Your Mother Didn't Teach You About Thanksgiving Wines

Categories: Wine Time

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Photo by Jeremy Parzen.
Your mother probably never told you that sparkling rosé from the Loire Valley, France, like this crémant by Langlois Cheateau, delivers excellent value and food-friendliness at the Thanksgiving table.

10. Don't believe the "perfect pairing" hype.

The Thanksgiving feast is one of the most challenging culinary events of the year when it comes to wine pairing. Between cranberry sauce, sweet potato pie, and the roast turkey, you have intensely tart, radically sweet, and richly savory flavors on the table. No wine is going to pair "perfectly" with every dish on the table. Anyone who claims to have discovered the "ideal" Thanksgiving wine has had too much 7-layer salad (try finding a pairing for that dish!).

9. Know your audience.

For most Americans, Thanksgiving is the holiday when the whole mishpucha gets together. Unless you're planning a romantic Thanksgiving for two or a "couples" Thanksgiving feast, you need to appeal to a broad range of preferences. Aunt Gladys likes sweet wines. Uncle Tim likes them dry. Your selection should be based on the common denominators among the guests.


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David Keck Pours Oregon Wines at Treadsack's Kipper Club This Saturday

Categories: Wine Time

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Image via KeeperCollection.com.
Houston sommelier David Keck will lead guests through a guided tasting of Oregon wines this Saturday at the Kipper Club.
Keeper Collection, the Austin-based food and wine society, is taking its popular "Wine Ride" across Texas for the first time, including its first event in Houston this weekend.

As part of a three-city, weekend-long series of tastings, the group will be hosting an Oregon wine tasting event at the Kipper Club Test Kitchen on Yale this Saturday beginning at 6:30 p.m. Click here for event and registration details.


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Matteo Lunelli, "King of Italian Bubbly," Visits Houston

Categories: Wine Time

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Photo by Jeremy Parzen.
Matteo Lunelli, ex-banker, sparkling wine producer, and one of the most powerful people in the Italian wine business was in Houston yesterday.
Every week, it seems that another fine wine luminary sets her or his sights on the Houston market.

Yesterday, ex-Goldman Sachs banker and one of the most powerful players in the Italian wine trade today, Matteo Lunelli (above), descended on Houston for a luncheon and tasting with Houston wine buyers and bloggers at Tony's on Richmond.

"I see the market data," he told a reporter yesterday afternoon. "Houston is a very rich city thanks to the dynamics of the energy market... More and more, our focus is on the U.S. and I see a growing interest in wine here."


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Rosinka Wine & Tea House in Rice Village Transports You Straight to Europe

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Photo courtesy of Rosinka Wine & Tea House
Owners, Katerina and Ivan Belik, want you to feel like you are in Europe at Rosinka Wine & Tea House.
Rice Village is one of the best areas in the city to walk around visiting shops, restaurants, cafes and farmers markets just as you would in a European country. And that's exactly why Katerina Belik and Ivan Belik opened Rosinka Wine & Tea House in this neighborhood. Katerina is a lecturer at Rice University, and Ivan is a physicist and financial analyst; the two decided to bring a little bit of Russia and Europe to Rice Village with their wine and tea house selling and serving wines and teas from around the world.

The Beliks opened Rosinka Wine & Tea House in December 2013, but now that the shop has an upgraded TABC license to sell wines by the glass and for tastings, and more customers are discovering Rosinka, the owners decided to hold the grand opening celebration on October 23.

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