The Dinner Party: A setting for every place.


Coming to you each Thursday!

The Method....

Sparkling wines are made through two different methods.  The best known sparkling wine or Champagne is made by adding some sugar - the "dosage"-  then innoculating with yeast allowing for the secondary fermentation in the bottle. The bubbles are created and the yeast cells eventually die off and are then called lees.  The lees are left in the bottle until disgorgement, enhancing and developing character and flavors in the wine.  

The second method is called tank fermentation and involves adding CO2 just like it is added to soda pop.  Not to disparage this method though, as you tend to get crisp and clean flavors for a refreshing sparkling wine.  

So how to know which way your favorites are made, and how to learn which you prefer?  Question number 2 first, try a lot of wines made with the different methods.  If it doesn't say on the bottle how it is produced ask your favorite wine professional who will know how it is made.  If you already have a favorite bubbly ask the next time in a wine shop about how it is made.

Beyond that here are some generalities about production methods. Champagne, Cremant, higher end sparkling wines from California, Francicorta, and Cava are all made via secondary bottle fermentation or methode champenoise.  Prosecco, lower end California sparklings, and some other lower end wines from various appelations are made with tank fermentation.

2 Perfect bottles for you Thanksgiving Feast!

Happy Thanksgiving!  This most traditional of purely American Holidays is our favorite. We will be cooking dinner at our home hosting family and friends.  Wine choices abound for any occasion, so to simplify your choices here are two wines that will be great with your Thanksgiving dinner making planning and purchasing as easy as it can be.

Turkey and Pinot Noir are perhaps the most natural pairing in the world of food and wine.  We prefer ours from California and the combination of mild earthiness and rich cherry fruit in the Sean Minor Central Coast Pinot Noir is just the ticket $16, Wine Club Price $14.40.

For white drinkers the most important component is good crisp acid to cut down on the richness of the meal.  The wine though needs to have enough heft and fruit to keep things interesting.  The Domaine du Salvard Cheverny from the Loire Valley in France is the choice $20, Wine Club Price $18.  75% Sauvignon Blanc and 25% Chardonnay but with no oak it will be great as an aperitif and also satisfy the white drinkers in your crowd.

Have a great holiday!

A BIG SCORE for a Great Winemaker!

Our connection to Skylark Wine Company is well known and well founnded, after all owner/winemaker John Lancaster is family.  Nepotism aside though John is one of the best palates we know as a "Som" his other role at Boulevard Restaurant in San Francisco.  He is just as great as a winemaker.  His wines are some of our best sellers.  

Last night while reading through the Buying Guide in my latest issue of The Wine Spectator I found a 93 point rating for his 2012 Rodger's Creek Syrah!  That is a great score and the Rodger's has been one of our consistent favorites of his vineyard designated wines.  We will have some of the 2012 to share with all of you soon, but while we wait we have snagged some 2009 out of the library that will arrive tomorrow just in time for your Thanksgiving feast.

This wine should not be missed and this is a rare opportunity to try a previously great year to see how it ages and a new release that is garnering fabulous press and scores.

The Importance of Vintage

We all know how much vintage matters.  How the growing conditions in any given year can vary greatly and affect in a big way the end product that makes it into the bottle we purchase.  We understand the argument of buying producer over vintage; there are winemakers who always manage to "pull the rabbit out of the hat" regardless of the challenges, but still the year and its growing conditions make a difference.  Here is a quick guide for recent vintages for Europe and the Western U.S. in general to guide your purchases.  5 is our highest rating 1 our lowest and while you should always trust your own palate the most, this guide may help.

2015 Europe 5, U.S. 4

2014 Europe 3, U..S 4

2013 Europe 3, U.S. 5

2012 Europe 3, U.S. 5+

2011 Europe 5, U.S. 2

2010 Europe 5+, U.S. 3

Scary good stuff!

Halloween is coming up on Monday, but for many of us parties for the spookiest day of the year will be held this weekend.  The wines we are featuring in our weekly wine special this week, the Friday Night Flights, are perfect for your Halloween party.  From Luna Vineyards the Lunatic White and Lunatic Red are lovely blends priced for the the crowds at your party ($15, wine club price $13.50).

To set the right mood on the table pick up some of our botanical pumpkins made from all natural materials. They will last year after year and set a festive fall mood on your table.  ($20, wine club price $18)  If you are attending a party and taking a tottle of wine for the host or hostess wrap it up in one of our locally produced Halloween themed wine bags for $6.95.

Ideas and possibliities are endless for creating just the right mood at your Halloween party!  Stop in the shop to see them all, afterall Halloween isn't just for kids and treats don't need to be candy.

The Key to Party Planning!

Just working with one of our wine club members on beverages, beer and wine, for their upcoming Halloween Party! The key to planning out the beverages for a party on any occasion is a two part problem; 1. having enough, no one likes to run out and 2. finding really good things to drink at the right price for the size of the crowd.  

A 750ml bottle of wine holds 4.25 pours of 4 ounces each.  4 ounces is considered a full pour, and it really is.  Most restaurants now pour 3 ounces so a 4 ounce pour is a big glass of wine.  For party purposes we suggest 6 pours to a bottle.  Depending on the time of day you are holding your party and how long you expect it to go you can then do the math and come up with an approximate bottle count.  Nothing worse than running out of wine or beer so round up the count you think you will need.  And resist the temptation to get only one color or style of wine.  No matter how much you think your guests will only drink red, there will be those who prefer white, pink or even sparkling.  Better to accomodate all tastes.

Part 2 is to gear your selections so you stay within your budget.  Even here at the dinner party we carry delicious bottles from $8!  The trick as the party host is to try them in advance and find ones that you like to drink.  That way when you round up to ensure ample supply you can be pleased with having a choice of the "leftovers" for your own consumption at a later date.

Stop by the shop or give us a call and we will help get you set up with just the right amount and selection!

Direct From Italy!

We just celebrated Columbus Day in honor of when Christopher Columbus "discovered" North America.  His Italian roots and those of many other imigrants are firmly planted in our culture, and here at the dinner party.  Whether it be the Italian products or the fine Italian wine we carry, the Italian culture is on full display.

The Italian ceramics manufactured and designed in Tuscany by Stefano Cendi and his company FEBA recently arrived in the shop.  I visited with Stefano when I was in Florence last fall and was thougoughly impressed with his work.  His line of Christmas ceramics especially caught my attention - refined and beautiful with just the right amount of holiday cheer without ever being carried away.  We are thtrilled to now carry the FEBA ceramics and to be one of their flagship stores in the US and the only retailer in the Northwest.

Hard to discuss Italian Culture without including wine in the conversation.  One of our long time favorite producers is Querciabella from Tuscany.  Their Mongrana is the only wine we have had on the shelf every vintage since we opened.  The distributor for Querciabella recently marked down the price on their 2010 Chianti Classico, so it now retails for less than the Mongrana!  A steal to be sure....  2010 was a great year in Italy and the wine is really extraordinary especially for the new price of $25 (20% off).

Two great ways to embrace the Italian culture that is part of our shared heritage.

One of the toughest pairings.....

Just this past Tuesday was National Taco Day, one of many foods that can be prepared with a "little kick".  Spicy hot food is one of the toughest pairings when it comes to wine; it is a question we get frequently.  An ice cold pilsner or lager is always a good and easy choice but if you want to have wine, what to do?

The typical answer is to go with something sweet which will work because the sugar stands out against the spicy background.  If you want to go with a more serious wine though here are a couple of pointers.  First stay away from the oak.  The oak flavors derived from ageing or fermenting in oak barrels tend to mask fruit flavors and soften acids, two things that will help the wine stand out and hold up against the spice. 

Secondly, instead of going for sweet go for fruity.  Fruit driven wines can still be and many times are fermented dry, so you get great wine character with enough fruit to balance the hotness.  And stay light.  Lighter bodied varietals with less tannin will show better.  So here is your varietal "cheat sheet": in whites go for Viognier, Pinot Gris or Chenin Blanc.  In reds Pinot Noir, Beaujolais, Tempranillo, Grenache and Sangiovese will all work well.  Remember to talk to your favorite wine professional and find the ones with little or no oak.

One final pointer, don't forget the dry rose.  A lovely fruit driven pink wine will be great with your spicy tacos!

Rombauer pays a visit!

We received a visit last week from Danielle Ball, Western Regional Sales Manager for Rombauer Vineyards.  The Rombauer name is iconic and two of their wines, the Chardonnay and Zinfandel, virtually sell themselves.  While they are not my "cup of tea" you have to admire brand development that is so solid that it creates huge demand year after year resulting in 6 figure production levels being allocated.

The good part about the tasting is we had the opportunity to taste through all of the wines Rombauer produces.  That hasn't happened in some time!  We found both their Sauvignon Blanc and two of their Cabernets to be really great wines, the Sauv Blanc we will add to the shelf this week we were so impressed.  The 2012 Diamond Series Cabernet and the 2013 Napa Cab were both great wines for those looking for muscular, age worthy Napa Cabs - they should not be missed.

We look forward to expanding our knowledge of the Rombauer wines and appreciate Danielle making the trip to bring us up to speed on the program at Rombauer.

Equinox and Balance!

Today is the autumnal equinox, the day when the sun resides exactly over the equator and daylight and night time hours are balanced for much of the planet around 12 hours of each.  It occurs to us that equinox and wine have much in common.  The best wines we taste are those that have extraordinary balance, and while everyone's palate is different an unbalanced wine is perhaps the easiest to detect.  Aromatics, flavors, weight on the palate, alcohol, tannin, and oak treatment need to work in harmony to have a wine taste great.

Sweetness is ok but it needs to be balanced by good acid or the wine is cloying.  Oak flavors in wine lend texture, depth and breadth of flavors but they need to be balanced by fruit or the wine smells and tastes like a sawmill.  Vibrant fruit flavors are wonderful but without tannins to balance and lend structure the wine tastes more like grape juice.  Two examples of well balanced wines in varietal categories that can frequently show a lack of balance: Truchard Chardonnay from the Napa side of Carneros is a study in elegant balance.  In a sea of overoaked, over buttery Chardonnay it has all of the refined components the varietal is known for but is so seamless in its presentation .  It is in a class by itself.

Simlarly many Cabernets can be too oaky, too tannic and too high in alcohol.  The Secret Squirrel Cabernet from our friends at Corliss shows a "tight rope" like balance of all the components and heft we want from "Cab" with no detectable angular or sharp edges.  Combined with a great label it should not be missed.

As we enter fall via the Equinox this week, seek out balance in your wine and you will be thrilled with the difference!

Its all about the Fall.... And the Spring too!

In the wine industry more than just harvest happens in the fall.  Releases by wineries are grouped into two times of year, the fall and the spring.  Little is known about how and why this started but at least here in the States more so than overseas it is how it is done.  This is especially true for the big name, highly allocated and most sought after wines.  At least part of the reason is so buyers of these hard to get "gems" know with some certainty when the wines are going to be available.  For the wineries it focuses buyers to get their orders in as the wines typically sell out quickly and are not again available until the same time the following year.

Just this past week we received our allocations on such notables as Joseph Phelps, Spottswoode, Pride Mountain, Quintessa, Ridge Monte Bello, some of the Long Shadows wines and others.  In just about every case they sold out immediately.  The best way to get in on allocations of this kind of wine is two fold.  First, let your favorite wine merchant know that you are interested in them.  Second, concentrate your buying with that wine shop.  The list of folks clamoring for these hard to find items is long, and while we always like to do our best to help all customers those who consistently buy the big names and other wines and have for many years are going to be the first to get the hardest to find wines.

Whether it be for price or style these wines are not for everyone, but it is nice to have one or two socked away in the cellar for a special occasion!

....And away we go!

The 2016 wine grape harvest is officially under way in most every appellation of the Western US.  We have talked to many of our favorite winemakers and grape growers over the last couple of weeks and we were struck by two things.... they are almost all happy and almost all are relaxed!  Very unusual when you are about to harvest a billion dollar crop and your risks of damage are at their highest point.

From Idaho to Washington and south to California the harvest of white grapes has started and is progressing nicely.  The recent cool down has slowed progress on the red wine grape crop and pushed things back a couple of weeks.  This is being met with "applause" though as many of the folks we spoke to felt additional hang time for the grapes would be beneficial.  As far south as Santa Barbara some Pinot Noir is also being harvested now, which is typically the first red grape to "come off".  In general the crop is larger this year than last and some winemakers in Washington are even dropping fruit to manage the tons per acre.

3 areas of concern..... The Willamette Valley of Oregon will be a late harvest due to a cool summer, risky for a climate like they have there.  Smoke damage is rearing its head in Lake County north of Napa and in the area around Paso Robles.  Outside of those three problem spots our wine friends are playing the game of waiting long enough to get the grapes done just right, while keeping a keen eye to the skies for the first sign of rain.

What can be better than a day dedicated to Burgers?

That's right this weekend is National Burger Day!  It is one of our favorite summer treats off the grill, and we are guessing it is for most of us meat eaters.  My recipe for burgers is below but Burgers just would not be Burgers without the proper beverage.  Here are two; one wine and one beer.  Check out the 2012 Angels and Cowboys red from Sonoma County ($20, wine club $18) great label and great Zin-based blend which is perfect with burgers.  Cool label too!

For beer I always think something a bit lighter is better with the richness of grilled burgers so checkout the Pfreim Pilsner ($4 Beer Club $3.60) for a 16.9 ounce bottle.  Good balance, crisp and refereshing with a fair amount of acid to help cut the richness of the meat.

Ok here is the recipe:

2 pounds ground beef not less than 20% fat remember no fat no flavor!
2 tablespoons barbecue sauce
1 egg
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons ketchup style chilli sauce

1 tablespoon A-1 steak sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestshire sauce
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
Unseasoned bread crumbs enough to bind
Your favorite cheese for grilling

  • Combine all the igredients except the cheese and form into patties.  Grill hot on you outside grill to desired doneness.  Add the cheese and allow to melt.  We like to serve ours on a head lettuce leaf instead of a bun.

It's Hot!

90+ here in North Idaho as it is around much of the country, so time for some light and fruity drinks.  Let's leave the whole serious versus not so serious wine and beer conversation behind and just find a beverage that will be thirst quenching and refreshing for these toasty summer days on the lake!  Here are the two I choose:

  • We discovered the Lemonscato early in the summer.  Made in Italy, it is a combination of Moscato d'Asti and lemon juice. It is a low 6% alcohol and not at all sweet, rather light and refershing- perfect in the hot weather!
  • Ok it doesn't taste at all like beer but..... The Schofferhofer grapefruit Hefeweizen from Germany is just one of the most refreshing drinks you can have on a hot day.  Again low alcohol at 2.5% bright acid and lovely grapefruit flavors.  Load the cooler up with these, they will go fast!

Back from the Willamette Valley!

We just returned from vacation and a day of tasting in the Willamette Valley where we had a chance to visit two wineries we know wel,l Soter Vineyards and Domaine Serene Winery.  It was our first trip to these two great wineries that spanned 3 separate sites.  What a treat from being greeted with a lovely glass of dry rose at every stop, nearly before we made it out of our car, to the stunning "provisions" tasting at Soter Mineral Springs Ranch complete with small plates prepared by chef Alex Dailey.  It was a lovely day.

The trend here and in much of wine country across the west is for an intimate tasting seated with a "tour guide" to take you through the wines and winery.  After experiencing this tasting set up both in Oregon and in Napa it is tough to imagine it being done any other way.  The tastings in all locations included library and limited release selections that we don't normally have access to for an added treat.  

We not only liked the tasting format but the wines were all good.  The tasting left us with a bit of concern for 2013 Pinot Noir from Oregon as we found the wines will at a minimum need some time to come around.  All else we tasted we loved, especially the Soter 2006 Mineral Springs Ranch Pinot Noir - what a stand out!

Next time you are headed to Oregon these are two stops that are well worth your time!

National IPA Day and International Beer Day!

National IPA Day and International Beer Day are both coming up on August 7, and we can't miss commenting on those, happily for us though the Blog will be on vacation next week.  We are off to enjoy some time with the Lancaster family and a bit of R&R, so moving our IPA recommends up to this week.  

Come summer time just like our taste in wine our taste in beer tends toward the bit lighter, and a bit more mellow.  Here are 3 that fit that bill and 1 for those who still want all the hoppy joy of IPA.  Both the Citradelic Tangerine IPA from New Belgium brewing and the Soul Style IPA from Green Flash are perfect for the summer.  Both have light fruit and tropical notes to tame the beer a bit and make it perfect for summer.

Boulevard Brewing out of Kansas City is one of our favorites, and we just featured and still have their Single Wide IPA in stock.  Our beer guru Chris Vincent describes the Single Wide as a "Midwest IPA", more consistent across the palate with mild bitterness and hoppy character that does not over power.  Another great summer choice.

For the traditionalist try the Deschutes Armory XPA - full throttle IPA with plenty of bitterness and all the hoppiness you could want.  All are great choices for beer afficionados to celebrate National IPA day and International Beer Day!

Caviar and what else?  BUBBLES!

It seems odd that national caviar day is in July, we always considered it one of our favorite holiday treats.  And while we are missing it by a few days it is impossible for us to let it pass without a mention.  Back when we lived in wine country, closer to Mary's brother John, we would always gather for the winter holidays and caviar was always a part of that.  Since those days so many years ago good caviar has become harder to come by.  Over harvesting and political turmoil around the Caspian Sea where the best and most sought after caviar originates has caused statospheric prices and spotty availability.  Now though there are several sources here in the States that produce some really good farm raised caviar that they will air freight to your door just in time for any gathering.  And the prices are better too!

The classic pairing with Caviar is of course great Champagne.  Back in the day we would always break out our good friends Billie and Bollie, short of course for Billecart and Bolinger, two of the best producers in Champagne.  They are spendy though so try instead the Veuve de Vernay Rose or Brut, not from Champagne but from France and a pretty darn good substitute as are many of the domestic sparkling varieties we carry at the shop.  Don't let National Caviar Day pass without the proper celebration, give us a call and we will help you track down this delicacy at the best price!

The Beauty of great Balsamic!

Really good balsamic vinegar is one of the truly great things in life to us.  It is the most versatile of condiments for a variety of foods, but finding a really great one can be tough.  We find the best to be those from Italy with a minimum of 6 years age.  The bitterness and acidity in these great balsamics are non existent, the vinegar flavors are well balanced and they develop a thicker more syrupy concentration that is exactly what you are looking for to add a bit of brightness to rich foods and to really make flavors of summertime foods pop!  We carry the Saporoso 6 year old here at the shop and here are two of our favorite tricks.

1. Top some high quality vanilla ice cream with fresh berries and a drizzle of good balsamic and a couple of grinds of fresh black pepper for one of the truly great summer desserts.  2. This one is a bit more complicated but you will be thrilled with the results.  Take a full "round" of brie and scrape some of the "fuzz" off the entire round. brush both sides with olive oil and then sprinkle with a bit of cayene pepper and a bit of cinnamon.  Fire up your backyard grill and grill on both sides for about 2 minutes per side.  Remove to a platter and drizzle with a bit of balsamic and serve with toasted baguette slices.  You will think you are snacking along the shores of "The Med" in France or Italy.  Pair this up with a nice Pinot Grigio or Vouvray and well frankly it won't matter where you are enjoying it!

Tastes change with the Seasons!

Do you find that your palate preferences change with the seasons?  We sure do!  Come summer time we crave lighter bodied wine and beer.  Not only are they more refreshing in the warm weather but they also pair better with food from the grill and dining alfresco.  

In whites it is the time of year to "ditch the oak" - try nice, dry Sauvignon Blanc, Piqpoul, or Gruner Veltliner all which are typically unoaked, light, crisp and refeshing (and great with barbecued oysters!).  In reds start to think about Pinot Noir and Grenache.  Both are wonderful with a wide range of foods from grilled salmon and rotisserie chicken to your favorite version of barbecued ribs.  Here is another trick with your barbecue.... If you are serving Grenache try popping the bottle into the fridge for 20 minutes before serving it with the ribs.  You will never do it any other way!

For beer shift to those with a bit of fruit character in the "brew".  Tangerine IPA, Grapefruit Shandy or a midwest interpretation of IPA like the Single Wide IPA from Boulevard Brewing which is featured in our July beer club!

Come by the shop or give us a call for more warm weather recommendations!

Red White Blue and Idaho!

This is the biggest of the summer holiday weekends as we celebrate Independence Day, but here in Idaho it is an even bigger weekend.  July 3rd is the day Idaho joined the union and became a state in 1890!  So for all of us here in Idaho and our friends around the country who want to add to their celebration here are the perfect festive table additions!  Our red/white and blue/white striped cotton napkins compliment any kind of dinnerware or paper plates!  Made in Italy, the quality is unparalleled - they will last many years. 

Our new glassware with the state of Idaho embossed on them with the heart right over Kootenai County for the place we love most, whether you live here full time or just spend your summers here.  Pair it with the Idaho Tea Towel for the perfect host/hostess gift for the barbecue you are attending this weekend.


Your choices are endless for striking just the mood you are going for over this long summer weekend on the deck, the dock or the boat.  Come by the shop and let's put it together! HAPPY 4th and HAPPY SUMMER!

Sage Advice

As many of you know from joining us this past weekend we just held some events with owner/winemaker, local boy and brother/brother in law John Lancaster of Skylark Wine Company.  It has been nearly 2 years since I had a chance to spend this kind of time with John and it is always illuminating.  In addition to being one of our favorite winemakers John is also the wine director and sommelier at BLVD restaurant in San Francisco.  This provides him tremendous perspective coupled with one of the best palates I know of and a knowledge base that borders on the encyclopedic - advice on all things wine is invaluable!  

As a winemaker John is solidly in the non-interventionist camp, letting wine become what it will with little interfernece from winemaking.  He relayed though a conversation with another well respected winemaker during the early days of Skylark who said "Always make the best wine you can".  While this may seem obvious it resulted in John getting a bit more involved at times when needed - employing water, adding acid or embracing more oppulent oak to get the best possible wine in the bottle.  It shows!

John is also an advocate for buying producer over vintage.  The best and favored producers will always find a way to craft great wine even in the toughest years.

Sage advice indeed and a great weekend spent with a friend, family member and one of the best wine professionals I know!

Two great days to Celebrate!

This week two great days converge, National Picnic Day on the 18th and Father's Day on the 19th!  Before you say that a picnic is not what my Dad likes keep in mind that picnics can take many forms.  They can be on Dad's fishing boat, or just sitting out on the deck in the backyard dining alfresco.  If your dad likes beer or  wine you should make him Pan Bagnat, the great sandwich that originated in the south of France and goes well with an ice cold brew or with a crisp white or rose wine.  The recipe is below, but along with this great Dad food make it special for him with freeze glasses to keep the beer/wine cold, and most importantly time with you.....  Here is the recipe!

Pan Bagnat is a sandwich made in the South of France and while the recipe here is great you can apply the concept with any of your favoirte ingredients for a great picnic.

Vinaigrette: 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/8 cup balsamic vinegar 1 small shallot finely chopped, 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard salt and pepper. Blend all togehter and set aside.

Pan Bagnat

1 large loaf of Focaccia or other round rustic loaf sliced in half horizontally                                            Olive oil

6 butter lettuce leaves                                                                                                                     8 ounces Brie sliced

1 cup pitted and chopped Kalamata olives                                                                                         1 large tomato thinly sliced

1 roasted red bell pepper seeded and sliced                                                                                      8 slices Prosciutto

2 boneless skinless chicken breast grilled and sliced.

Drizzle both sides of the loaf with olive oil.  Place the lettuce leaves on the bottom half of the loaf.  Layer the remaining ingtredients until all are used.  Drizzle the layers with vinaigrette.  Put on the top slice to close the sandwich and then wrap tightly with several layers of plastic wrap.  Place the wrapped sandwich on a large plate.  Put another plate over the top of the sadwich and weigh it down with whatever is handy, brick, rocks, gallon of milk, place in the refrigerator overnight with the weight still on.  To serve unwrap the sandwich and cut into wedges.

Father's Day is just around the Corner!

One of the biggest challenges each year is what to do for Dad?  Dads aren't real demanding and much of what they like they find a way to fend for themselves.  What to do for the man that in many cases has everything?  When my Dad was still with us I laways started with what he liked most.  I grew up fishing on the fresh water lakes of the midwest with my dad, he not only taught me how to fish but also how to clean my own catch and he taught me how to sail our Sunfish sailboat when I was 9.  

If your dad likes to fish how about either an etched or hand painted glass adorned with a fly fish lure?  If he likes to play golf a bottle stopper with a real iron on the end might be a good choice.  If your dad likes to relax with his favorite beverage this may be the best gift of all, a granite rock carved into a beverage dispenser!  The important thing with my dad and likely with yours too is to find something that puts a smile on his face that he would not buy for himself.  Start with his favorite hobby, then come see us at the shop and let's get the present assembled that sends just the right message of love and appreciation for all our dads do.....

Our summer treat.....

Summer is arriving in full fource here in North Idaho and around much of the country this weekend with temperatures in the 90s and brillant sunshine!  Our favorite summer treat is a chicken from the rotisserie on our backyard grill and a really great bottle of Pinot Noir.  Rotisserie is the best way to make chicken - it cooks evenly, all of the "bird" stays moist and the skin gets nice and crisp.  To make the perfect artform chicken, salt and pepper the cavity of the chicken then fill with moisture rich fruit or vegetgables.  You can use quarered onions, celery sticks, fresh herbs or even apples, peaches or lemons.  Then truss the chicken.  Ok this is the scary part for many but it is really quite easy.  With about 2 feet of kitchen twine make a figure 8 aournd the chicken legs, wrap the twine around the body encompassing the wings securing the twine around the neck bone and then wrapping the twine back around the body of the chicken and tying off below the legs.  Put the rotisserie rod through the body of the chicken, liberally season the outside of the chicken with salt and pepper and you are ready to go.  Come by the shop or call us for one of our great Pinot Noirs priced from $12 and up - your summer ritual is ready!  Tomorrow June 2nd is National Rotisserie Chicken Day so what a perfect way to celebrate.

Memorial Day Weekend - Beer and Metal Wear!

The first big holiday weekend is upon us, and with a little cooperation we might have some good outdoor dining weather.  Sign us up for some Idaho Select Lager from Wallace Brewing adorned with the American flag on the bottle cap, this is really good beer especially for those who prefer a bit lighter hand in the brewing.  ($1.85 per 12 ounce bottle $1.66 if you are in our wine/beer clubs).  Then dress up that table with some vintage metal wear adorned with the American flag to show your patriotic colors without going over the top.  And what to serve, no one can resist grilled burgers.  Here is our favorite recipe: 2 pounds of ground beef not more than 80% lean (remember no fat no flavor), one egg, 2 tablespoons of barbeque sauce, 2 tablespoons ketchup style chilli sauce, 2 tablespoons ketchup, 1 tablespoon each A-1 steak sauce and Worsteshire sauce, kosher salt and ground pepper to taste, unseasoned bread crumbs to bind.  Mix all the igredients and form patties, grill them up, add your favorite cheese and other accoutrments and that is it.  We like to have ours on iceberg lettuce leaves foregoing the gluten and carbs of the bun!

Combine those with some grilled chicken apple sausage on a bed of sauteed bell peppers and onions and your Memorial Day party is started.

How many friends of yours are getting married this summer?

Whether it be your own, your friends or your relatives, weddings are joyous occasions and between the wedding itself, bridal shower or bachelor/bachelorette parties finding the perfect gift can be a challenge.  We want it to make an impact, be something the bride and groom will keep and remember.  Custom etching is the perfect solution!  We can etch any item from wine glasses and bottles to a custom wood box.  Etch the couple's initials, wedding date or a special nick name or saying that is a touchstone between you and them.  We can etch on these "bride and groom" glasses!  Glassware with a pewter monogram afixxed to the glass is another great idea.  And for your groomsmen who can resist a humorous flask to lift and store their "spirits".  We can help you plan it all and even gift wrap and deliver locally for free!


As American as Apple Pie!  Well almost....

This coming Friday, May 13th, is National Apple Pie day - the most American of desserts perhaps.  The bigger question though is what is the best wine to serve with dessert of any kind and especially apple pie?  Dessert is tricky, in order for both the wine and the dessert to truly shine the guideline is the wine must be sweeter than the dessert.  So 2 choices here.... Make a savory dessert or serve a sweet wine.  Since we are focused on apple pie here are 2 winners that will go with most any sweet dessert.  Moscato d'Asti is a lovely slightly sweet and slightly effervescent wine from Italy.   The sugar in Moscato is well balanced by crisp acid so it is rarely cloying.  Combine that with a tocuh of bubbles and low alcohol - perfect after dinner with dessert, and oh by the way it is great during the warm summer months as an aperitif with a few icecubes and a bit of orange or lemon rind.  We like the Strev from Casa Vinacola $17, $15.30 wine club.  Your second choice is a late harvest Semillon or Sauvignon Blanc like Sauterne from France.  Lovely apricot and peach flavors with ample sugar, it is a joy with dessert!  Try the Chateau Haut Mayne $30, $27 wine club.

Celebrate Mother's Day with this great recipe!

The big day for Mom is Sunday so whip up this recipe for Alsatian Onion and Bacon Tart either for brunch or as an appetizer before dinner!

2 medium onions chopped
6 slices bacon
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups whole milk
3 egg yolks
1 recipe pie crust either homemade or store bought
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper


  • Preheat your oven to 400.  Roast the bacon on a tray lines with parchment paper for about 15 minutes total flipping once.  Remove the bacon from the oven let cool and chop.
  • Saute the onions in a bit of olive oil until tender about 10 minutes
  • Melt the butter in a saucepan.  Add the flour and whisk until blended and starting to bubble just a couple of minutes.  Gradually whick in the milk and boil for one minute whisking until thick.  
  • Beat the egg yolks in a large bowl, then gradually add the hot milk whisking constantly so as not to curdle the eggs.  Ad dthe sauteed onions, bacon and salt and pepper to taste.
  • Bake the pie shell for about 10 minutes until brown.  Remove from the oven and add the filling.  Reduce the heat to 350 and bake the tart until the top is golden brown about 20 minutes. 

Serve with a glass of Champagne or an Alsatian Pinot Blanc!

Its time to celebrate our Moms April 28, 2016

Mother's Day is just around the corner, May 8th to be specific, so not at all too early to find the perfect gift for your mom.  A nice bottle of bubbly is always appreciated and what could be better than pink bubbly from Veuve de Vernay (also available in brut) from France and delicious for $13.  Pair those up with a couple of flutes for the perfect gift.  Or bring her some permanent flowering branches to brighten up your Mother's Day brunch - she will put them on the table every year and remember that you gave them to her ($14/stem).  Set the table with the branches in a vase or down the center horizontally with candles, pop the cork and pour it into her new flutes.  Sure to make a Mother's day she'll cherish.

We are a bit tardy this week but it is National Picnic Day! April 22, 2016 Yes the blog is still new, or renewed as the case may be, so not quite on time this second week of blogging.  But we are just in time for National Picnic Day.  What is a picnic without wine, beer and of course shatter proof glassware to drink them out of? While the weather here in North Idaho this weekend will be less than ideal for picnics, in your part of the country it may be and we know too it will soon be back to warm and sunny here soon.  Go Vino polycarbonate glasses were invented by a winery guy from Napa, they are thinner than most any plastic ware so pleasant to drink out of, shatter proof and easy to hold onto with a well designed thumb indent. They come in wine, champagne and beer. Set/4 dishwasher safe wine $19.95. Click here for link GoVino glasses

"Cheese you really should meet Rosé!" April 14, 2016 We are right in the midst of the release of all the new vintages of our favorite rosés.  Before you navigate away though hold on!  Gone are the days of White Zinfandel.  Today's rosés are bone dry, crisp and zippy perfect for warm spring and summer days, and with national cheese fondue day this week they are the perfect pairing for cheese.  The two must "get together".  Our 3 favorites you ask?  2015 Skylark Pink Belly ($22, Wine/Beer Club $19.80), 2015 Seven Hills Rose of Cabernet Franc ($16, Wine/Beer Club $14.40), and Domaine Lauribert Cuvee d' Lisa ($12, $10.80).  All have lovely flavors of strawberry and citrus are dry and finish crisp and clean.