Turkey Day Advice, The Big O and Sauternes

Turkey Day Advice, The Big O and Sauternes


This week we need wines that pair with turkey and relatives we may or may not like. There are many familiar choices including Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Gamay and Grenache. Rosé is also a good choice, since I live in Southern California. The above line-up is from Beckman, one of my favorite producers in the Santa Ynez Valley. Great winery.

So, what pairs with turkey? The answer is not so clear-cut. While Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are safe choices, it’s really about your [and your guests] palette. Make sure you bring out wines that are low in acid and high in fruit. No heavy tannins please. I would like to say that Grenache, both red and white, is your friend and this is a great chance to discover this grape. And ask your local wine shop to point you to BEAUJOLAIS CRU wines. I try to have a few adventurous bottles and a few old favorites. That way, if the new stuff flops, we have backup! If you are entertaining, make sure that you have plenty of water available for guests. If you are a guest, make sure you bring a bottle that you would like to receive.

That’s all. Let’s look at a few wines that might make you happy.

Beckman Estate Grenache, Santa Ynez Valley, California


Pali Huntington Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara County, California. The 2012 was just named Top 100 by a big-time magazine. I like it anyway. About $20 and available in a lot of places. PUT THAT LA CREMA DOWN!


Jaffurs Grenache Blanc, Thompson Vineyard, Santa Barbara County [L]

Gérard Bertrand Cote des Roses, Languedoc, Sud de France [R]
{Seriously, I am bringing this Rosé to everyone’s house for Thanksgiving. Fair Warning}


The Big O*

Roy Kelton Orbison (April 23, 1936 – December 6, 1988), also known by the nickname the Big O, was an American singer-songwriter, best known for his trademark sunglasses, distinctive, powerful voice, complex compositions, and dark emotional ballads.
That was a nice intro. But there is more. Roy Orbison never gets old. Seriously. I was born 40 years and 70 miles away from Roy Orbison. His music was in my life from the very beginning. When I rediscovered him as an adult I was always in awe of his understated style and powerful voice. Here is a small sample for you to enjoy. I hope you all buy some Roy this week! Why Roy? Why not? I am planning an “Evening with Roy and Red Wine” event. Wines that are full of understated power and finesse. And a voice that can make even the hardest man cry.



Best place to be this holiday season:

Does it ever get old? Not to me. I am a unabashed Getty lover. Some of the world’s finest art and artifacts are here. I have seen a Van Gogh with my own eyes and learned all about the Post-War Modern Art movement of Japan. I have seen 200 year old bedroom sets, Baroque rooms the size of gymnasiums and 1000 year-old bibles. But the building itself might be the single greatest accomplishment in terms of modern architecture and preservation of the arts. Here are a few shots taken by your truly. An icon of the modern art world. I hope you get a chance to go. IT’S FREE, you only pay for parking. Bring as picnic or get lunch there. Bring your cameras [NO FLASH IN THE BUILDING!] and some soft shoes. See you there.

DSC02245DSC02244DSC02243DSC02242 DSC02216


The noble wines of SAUTERNES

OK, enough with the culture. Let’s talk about Sauternes. Here is a quick refresher on the wine area known as Sauternes. The noble dessert wine of Bordeaux, Sauternes starts out bright yellow and turns into a copper-colored wine later in life. The grape used is called Semillon, with a bit of Sauvignon Blanc in the mix, and they achieve great concentration because of Noble Rot. Click the link for more info. These were older vintages and they were cellared properly. I have been blessed by the wine gods to be able to taste these wines and talk about them. I truly enjoyed them. I know what you are thinking: “Pics or GTFO!”.  Very well then.

1970 Rieussec, with proper cake.
Well, this wine was amazing. Fresh and soft, we felt it tasted very young. The balance between alcohol, sugars, acid and body is a feat unto itself.

1976 Chateáteau d’Yquem. Forgive me for the mediocre quality of the photos. My hands are shaking from opening it! This was one of the best wines I have ever had the pleasure of sipping. A true experience of flavor, tradition and enjoyment. I said to myself “I didn’t know it could be like this!” IMG-20141109-01412

Yes, yes…Let me add a B&W photo so you can see the awesome color. WineJerk fail.IMG-20141109-01417

That’s all for now. Be excellent to each other. I leave you with a cute dog picture. Say hi to Spotty Pippen!

[*Not to be confused with Oscar Robertson]

Learn More

Art Tours, Palm Springs and Wine School

Art Tours, Palm Springs and Wine School

Hwy 62 Art Tours

Hwy 62 Art Tours are amazing. If you live in Southern California, you owe it to yourself to drive out to the Morongo Basin/Joshua Tree Nat’l Park area and see some local art. As the name implies, it is a tour of the area. Spread out among 100+ artists and studios, this is a fun road trip.
IMG-20141026-01372 The art below is from TamiWoodCreations.com  I know I will always have a soft spot for there art. After all, she is my mother. She uses recycled wood and other materials to create beautiful, one-of -a-kind creations. Her fans are a very loyal [and vocal] group!

IMG-20141026-01373 IMG-20141026-01375 IMG-20141026-01371One of my favorite pieces. IMG-20141026-01381 IMG-20141022-01267 Snake Jagger is another artist on the Hwy 62 Art Tours. I love his work. I have a few prints myself. Here is a couple of his creations.
IMG-20141022-01271 And just in time for Dias De Los Muertos:IMG-20141026-01383

Palm Springs Weekend!

Palm Springs is so much fun in the fall. 100 degree days and 40 degree nights are not uncommon during this change of season.
Here are a couple photos I took during my trip.

IMG-20141021-01245IMG-20141021-01246 The view from the room was nice. I do love Palm Springs.IMG-20141021-01248And another reason…IMG-20140619-01060

Wine School!

Scholarly knowledge has its place in the wine world, to be sure. I am studying to become an ‘Italian Wine Specialist’. What a completely wonderful class! The history, cuisine and wine of Italy is so interconnected I feel like I have already been there. The group putting on the class the North American Sommelier Association or NASA. So it kind of has that cosmic feel to it. Anyway, here are a couple of pictures. Not too many, as I don’t want to give away the material. But just enough so you get a glimpse into the world of wine school. Look for more Hard-Core Italian Wine Tasting events this year!

IMG-20141018-01218 All in a day’s schooling. IMG-20141018-01236Oh, how much do you know abut Colli Albani DOC? Not a lot? This will help:

And let’s finish with wine stuff!

Great Wine Jerk event! Look at all that wine. Whew. It’s a hard job but someone has got to do it. WINE JERK out!


Learn More

Wine Tastings, Butter Bells, Santa Barbara and a 1966 Port

Wine Tastings

Are you thinking about hosting a wine event this holiday season? Now is the time to set dates and check the schedule. Lots of opportunity to taste new wines with new and old friends. I will do my best to make your event special, I promise. Let’s talk about your event. Contact me now!
Here are some Event Photos:

IMG-20141005-01205  You could have a huge line-up like this:DSC02725 Or a more focused tasting, like this all-Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon tasting.


This is a Butter Bell.

BUTTER. BELL. I admit, I scoffed. Now I cannot imagine a sane life without one. I used to be a cold, hard, butter-in-the-fridge kind of guy. Ripper of innumerable bread pieces. Now I drink tea and listen to jazz, all while spreading delicious, room -temperature butter on my scones or croissant of choice. DSC02718Here’s how it works: The butter sits in the bell, which is set upside-down into the holding dish, which has a layer of water in it. Science takes over, the butter and the water do not mix. And your butter is soft and [most importantly] fragrance-free. No more onion, garlic, jam or fridge flavors in your butter. All I can say is wow. Pass the bread please.


This is a beautiful Santa Barbara building on Chapala St. I just thought it looked so perfect for Dias de la Muerte. So I took some random photos.DSC02745 DSC02744DSC02749 DSC02748

And Santa Barbara Wines…

I don’t wanna seem like a Central Coast homer, but I am going to continue to buy these same Santa Barbara wines until I can’t anymore. Always wonderful, complete wines that stimulate conversation. I know the Aligote is probably done. I left them with one lone bottle. As for Jaffurs, the 2013 Bien Nacido Viognier is a new release of an old favorite. It stills hits all the right notes, with lovely white flowers and honey-suckle on the nose. A WineJerk favorite. Look for it in a tasting near you!DSC02753 DSC02752 DSC02751

Wine of The Week!
1966 Taylor’s Vintage Port

An amazing bottle. Superb color for a wine of this age. Nose of crushed, dried violets with slight baking spice. The taste was full, mouth-filling and the finish was clean and had balanced sugar levels. Very nice. Thank you TC. [Sorry for the fuzzy pic. My bad, WJ]

Learn More

Golf Thoughts from Lost Canyons

This week I had the pleasure of playing Lost Canyons Golf Club in Simi Valley. Amazing! Coming from the Palm Springs area, I have seen my share of beautiful courses. This is easily among the most beautiful courses I have ever seen, let alone played. I only wish that my game was as nice as the views. I shot poorly but I had a good time. That’s about all for now. I really just wanted to share these awesome pics. DSC02701 DSC02690 DSC02688

The Clubhouse. This course was designed by Pete Dye and Fred Couples. I am standing on the elevated 18th teebox. What a view!DSC02699 DSC02698 DSC02682 DSC02694 DSC02691

Learn More

September 2014

So, this week I took a little trip to Hollywood. A couple trips, actually. I usually stop into K&L [1400 Vine St, Hollywood, CA 90028] and pick up some goodies. Their selection of half-bottles is outstanding. Always fun and delicious wines. This week I picked up a few Rex Hill Pinot Noir 375ml. Also, they have a huge selection of world-class wines and spirits. Definitely a Wine Jerk favorite.


A couple of blocks down Sunset Boulevard is AMOEBA MUSIC, one of the best reasons to live in LA. Any Album, CD, poster or band sticker you want, I am pretty sure they have it. Plan on spending a while in here. Plenty of parking and be prepared to check your bag at the front door.DSC02669

Lots of parking!DSC02668Across the street is the CNN Building. Great murals on the parking garages next door.



Heirloom Tomatoes are always so fun. Friend of The Wine Jerk GB grows a lot of tomatoes. I mean, a whole lot. I just love this picture. All the hard work and commitment that goes into growing these little guys. Great effect on this photo from an unknown app. [I’ll tell you when I know!]


Actual Wine News

Milbrandt Vineyards are a family-owned and operated winery in Washington State. They produce some wonderful wines. Viognier and Merlot are particularly special to me. I ran into Kelly Milbrandt at a Industry Tasting a few months ago. I snapped a couple of quick photos and tasted some wonderful wines. Good stuff! Order direct from their website [http://www.milbrandtvineyards.com]IMG-20140520-00989 IMG-20140520-00990

The other wine that I am loving right now is Robert Craig Affinity 2011. A Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley this wine is almost perfect. Lush, ripe fruit flavor bursting from the nose. A velvety mouth-feel that is superb. And a finish of cool eucalyptus and pine box. I decanted mine for about an hour. This feels like a wine for grownups. I recommend saving this wine until 2020.


Thought of the day:

This is a menu for an upscale Denny’s in NYC. Watch out PF Chang’s! Another bad idea is here to usurp you.

Learn More

August 2014

Greetings! The Wine Jerk is committed to blogging. At least once a month, that is. This will be a monthly look at Wine, through a slightly distorted lens.

My Philosophy is simple:

1) Drink what you like. 2) Like what you drink. 3) Don’t drink White Zinfandel.


We opened up a bottle of 2012 Caymus Family Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, 40th Anniversary at a tasting. 2012 40th Anniv 750mlLovely stuff. A little young but not bad. I know that Caymus has a corporate stigma that occasionally is justified, but like I always say ‘It’s never the wine’s fault‘. And this wine has few faults, indeed. This is a rich, syrupy Napa Cab. It will age gracefully for 20+ years, I’m sure. A large portion of stores in town have it priced around $55-60.

SIDURI and burgers?

Hamburgers, topped with a fried egg, hash browns, sharp cheddar and bacon. I don’t know why I love breakfast at night so much. Breakfast At Night. Sounds like an awesome band. Tonight! Live from Red Rocks…BREAKFAST AT NIGHT!! with SIDURI.  I like it. Rock ‘n Roll wine tasting. IMG-20140331-00905 Only one Pinot Noir was daring enough to stand up to the BOLD flavors. IMG-20140331-00906 2012 Siduri Sonoma County Pinot Noir. A damn fine Pinot for under $25. Spicy, lingering flavors with enough body to deal with a meal. Siduri.com


Aug 10 – Upstairs with The Wine Jerk, Studio City
Aug 23 – Wine Event, TBA, Studio City
Aug 24 – Wine Event, TBA, Studio City



Horse Thief BBQ

Grand Central Market Downtown Los Angeles 324 S Hill St, Los Angeles, CA 90013
(213) 625-0341
Holy smokes, you have NOT been here? Well, you are missing out, my friend. And now they have Beer and Wine. So it makes for a nice trip downtown. #DTLA is back, apparently. Anyway, I love these guys. I could list all the things they do right but you should just go [to the website, if your that kind: http://www.horsethiefbbq.com ]. IMG-20140710-01099

The Grilled Cheese Truck

The Grilled Cheese Truck is always worth the effort. MMMM What wine to pair with that? Well, I suppose it depends on the tomato soup [or lack thereof]. On a hot day, it is always easy to pair lunchtime treats with a nice dry Rosé. Or Vino Verde from Portugal. Or a cold beer. I just love the grab and go possibilities that go along with the Food Truck.* Grilled_Cheese_Truck


One of the most iconic settings in all of music and performance arts. I really enjoy this place. What I enjoy most is that I can bring my own wine and food and enjoy it in a variety of settings. There are 11 or so official picnic areas and numerous other places to get your meal on. And as the photos show, there are no bad seats. Only bad wines. I usually host [unofficial] tastings at one of the picnic areas about 2 hours before showtime. It is always a good chance to sip some fun wines with like-minded individuals. Watch my Twitter feed for more info. IMG-20140727-01107 Above, LA Phil. Below, Hall & OatesIMG-20130616-00392

WINE REGION YOU SHOULD KNOW: Brunello di Montalcino

Brunello di Montalcino is a red Italian wine produced in the vineyards surrounding the town of Montalcino located about 120 km south of Florence in the Tuscany wine region. In Montalcino the name Brunello evolved into the designation of the wine produced with 100% Sangiovese. It is aged for three or more years. About one-third of all Brunello is sold in America, so you know it has a reason to be enjoyed. AND this place is right out of a storybook: Brunello

That is all for now. Let me know if you drink anything worth mentioning.

I hope we can share a glass of wine together soon. I have some public tastings in the works, and I want you to be there!

Remember to sip with an open mind. Sometimes all we need is a different perspective: map-of-world-upside-down   * Also, see the film CHEF. Well-made ode to Food Trucks and the LA food scene 

Learn More