Put Down the Pumpkin Spice Latte and Bring Me A Bottle Of Burgundy: 11 Ways To Enhance This Fall (and life in general) With French Wine.

IMG_20131119_095447791_HDRI fully embrace coffee in copious amounts every morning and I enjoy the occasional splurge on a coffeehouse creation, but when did Starbucks take over the Fall season? Yes, Pumpkin Spice lattes are adorable, frothy, six dollar treats that you can drink while driving, but is this really the beverage that embodies Fall?

A gigantic seasonal latte is an illusion of relaxation. True, it’s warm and spicy for those few moments, but those sips provide imitation nostalgia. Those memories are likely of previous Falls of which you spent wired on caffeine to make it through a work day or Black Friday. It’s a way to trick you into feeling temporary comfort while simultaneously slipping you a dose of stimulants (say that ten times fast) to keep you going in the traffic and crowded shopping centers.

Forgive me for sounding like a conspiracy theorist, but let’s be honest: we all drink coffee to get us through our week.  But we also know that the opposite is true for wine; wine equals relaxation.  And the French take particular pride in enjoying a slower-paced, pleasure-filled lifestyle. So when Fall comes, the time that marks the beginning of family time, food and festivities, let’s sidestep the java, take a page from the original wine country and vive la France!

The following are 11 ways to incorporate French Wines Into Your Fall Favorites:

My current White Burg obsession.

My current White Burg obsession.

1.  Trade in your buttery Napa Chards for White Burgundy. The cooler season demands a crisper style of Chardonnay and Burgundy brilliantly showcases the varietal as well as terroir.  Chablis is so crisp that no oak whatsoever is used, so Sauvignon Blanc drinkers will love it, too!

2.  Speaking of Sauv Blanc, drink White Bordeaux with vegetable dishes. Forget about New Zealand this season. White Bordeaux offers Sauvignon Blanc blended with Semillon, giving a rounder texture. Therefore, it stands up to a heartier vegetable dishes like green bean casserole. Don’t be afraid to add some of it to your vegetable stuffing, too!

3.  Swap jammy reds for Cote du Rhones. For those of you who love fruit-forward reds, Cote du Rhone will give you fruit plus so much complexity. I often find notes of rhubarb pie or tangy chutney that really gets me in gear for holiday foods. Plus, it’s lower alcohol than your typical Californa zin and far less oaky, which allows it to be paired with so much more!

Rose Cremant de Bourgogne at work.

Rose Cremant de Bourgogne at work.

4.  Pair rose with poultry. Be it Thanksgiving Turkey or Roasted Chicken, there is a rose out there for every bird of every feather. France offers multiple wine regions with many styles of Rose. Want more strawberry notes? Think of Provence’s warmer softer wines. Want a a bit more acidity and stone fruit to cut through that extra butter in Grandma’s recipe? Choose a rose Burgundy. Either way, you can’t go wrong; exploring French rose is so much fun!

5.  Alsatian Gewurtztraminer is the new apple cider. Gewurz is slightly sweet with a subtle spiciness. This is a wonderful aperitif to sip while cooking, socializing and is also a fabulous pairing with honey baked ham!

6.  Add red Burgundy to your crockpot. Maybe you aren’t going to make Coq au Vin and go full on Frenchy, but there are a multitude of rich dishes that channel Julia Childs. Get creative with savory mushrooms, rich sauces and definitely add wine to the recipe as well as drink it with the meal.  You will come up with a “pin-worthy ” recipe, guaraIMG_20131114_171823354nteed.

7.  Splurge on Left Bank Bordeaux with Pot Roast.  Throw a rich roast into the mix and decant a favorite Cab-based Bordeaux. The wines of the left bank can be quite the collector’s item in many cases. So drink French wine into Winter time; make this for Christmas Eve when family and friends are around to celebrate the special occasion.


2009: such a fantastic vintage!

8.  Drink Right Bank Bordeaux in place of plain Merlot. While the Right Bank is Merlot-based, the additions of varietals like Cab Sauv and/or Cab Franc adds a structure and perfume. Combine that with Bordeaux’ legendary soil and it will make you think of wet leaves and rainy days. So put some blankets in the dryer, pour a big glass of St. Emillion and cozy up for a day indoors with Rom-Coms and board games.

9.  Add Northern Rhone Syrah to Venisson stew. The savory, peppery flavors of a cooler climate Syrah goes amazingly with gamey meats. Plus, pairing savory wine with a savory meal brings out the fruit in the wine. It’s basically a great way to combine rustic with luxury; the shabby chic of food and wine pairings!

10.  Celebrate with Champagne! Not only are tiny bubbles so much fun to drink, but Champagne is the most labor-intensive style of sparkling wine, with the sceond fermentation taking place in the bottle. Plus, ChamIMG_20131119_092003848pagne, France only permits certain varietals, making it the strictest Sparkler possible. But rules aside, you pay top dollar for a great Champagne because of its unique complexity. So toast to your guests for gathering together, pair it with anything (I truly believe that sparkling wine goes with everything) and celebrate in style!

11. Peach Cobbler with Sauternes. Little known fact: most wines don’t truly compliment a dessert (except sparkling!) Disagree? Pair a dessert properly and you will see the light. You need a lusciously sweet wine to go with a super sweet dessert. Peach Cobbler and Sauternes is my absolute favorite, but I’m betting Pecan and Apple Pies would be fantastic, too!

Have any other French Fall favorites? Please share!

Are You There, Chelsea? It’s Me, Wine-O.

chelseaI love Chelsea Handler and I don’t care who knows it. What does this have to do with wine and spirits? Chill out, I’m getting there…

One night, I was watching one of my favorite shows, “Chelsea Lately” and Chelsea was belvedere-vodka_0(once again) promoting her beloved Belvedere vodka. I also enjoy Belvedere and so I respect its promotion. I continue nodding along to her skit with enthusiasm, grinning at each snarky remark and sarcastic facial expression that she makes. Until she utters the words, “I hate wine.” I was momentarily distraught. How could my future BFF and drinking buddy hate my favorite beverage?

I was ready to tweet her a melancholy goodbye and #hashtag the entire internet and my 16 followers about our imaginary breakup when I took what I refer to as the magical sip;  that drink of wine (for me this comes at about mid-bottle) that makes a person more philosophical, intelligent and offers a sort of “moment of clarity.” At that instant, while clutching my wine glass and watching the ironically less-than cerebral E! Network, I had an epiphany: A top-shelf vodka drinker and a fine wine drinker can still be friends and for the following reasons…


A photo of a Polish vodka still taken from my WSET Advanced text book.

1.  A friendship is based on mutual respect. For one thing, I respect that Chelsea drinks in general; Prohibition revivalists need to get with the program. And like I said, I can respect Belvedere. This Polish vodka is “distilled four times”, so it’s low in “congeners or bad stuff and it incorporates the fancy grain known as Rye, which gives vodka rounder texture and softer nuances. Mmm!

2.  Fine Wine is of high standards as well. Nothing is mass-produced or has disgusting additives like tannin powder, food coloring or sugars. Everything is in small production, the berries are picked by hand, double, even triple sorted and are carefully vinified and aged. Therefore, it’s delicious!

3.  No one likes a hangover. Maybe Chelsea Handler doesn’t give two shits about how Belvedere is made or why it is so good, but there is no question that she (and everyone) can appreciate drinking it without the risk of a headache. And I will be honest: I wouldn’t drink cheap wine even if it was palatable because I fear its wrath. No congeners and no additives equals no headaches.

4.  Who doesn’t want to be a hot blonde? I don’t. But that’s because giving up vices and pleasures in life to be svelte is a choice. I prefer to remain slightly chubby in order to maintain a lifestyle that includes a broad range of beverages – and bread. Plus, my doppelganger is Brooke Shields, so becoming blonde isn’t an option with these eyebrows…


Me. Note the eyebrows. Blonde is not my destiny.



Chelsea, however, rocks a hot bombshell by sticking to unadulterated vodka. Vodka has the least carbohydrates and calories, so this allows her to take in the joys that come with insobriety while maintaining her great shape. I totally applaud this and I plan to, one day, actually diet and stick to vodka. Or at least get my carbs solely from wine…

5.  One common bond: Alcohol. Whether pairing your wine with a steak or pairing your vodka with a squeeze of lemon, none of us would be at all obsessed with our liquid love affairs if they didn’t contain alcohol. If you are offended by this statement because you think alcohol is bad, stop reading my blog, you prude. This isn’t “I Drink Tea For A Living.”


One of my favorite wines from Bodegas Carmelo Rodero.

6.  Opposites attract. Just like with my other girlfriends and the biggest girlfriend of them all – my husband – the people in my life that I hold dearest are my complete opposites; that is, with the exception of our values, ambitions and mutual respect for one another. If we value drinking well, living life to its fullest, being yourself and above all – not settling, then a top-shelf vodka drinker and a fine wine drinker aren’t so different when it comes right down to it.

7.  In closing: are you there, Chelsea? Call me.