How to Handle a Big Wine List (Without Having to Stick to Beer)


How do you handle a big wine list (without having to stick to beer)? It can be intimidating for both the waiter and the waited on. Here are some great tips and tricks to help both sides of the transaction. At Windows on the World where I worked, we had over 2000 selections. Here’s how we made that accessible for everyone.

Blind Tasting – It takes skill and will (including the willingness to be wrong sometimes:)

Why even bother to blind taste? The greatest value to the exercise is to assess a wine’s quality without having your impressions–positive or negative–influenced by the label. So I often blind taste multiple wines of a category, say New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, or French NV Champagne, so that only what emerges from the glass (not reputation, a critic’s high score, or price point) drives my conclusion. It’s always fun, often surprising, and occasionally, when upstart or value wines make the top of the heap, a really great day.

Gridiron Grilled Cheese Bowl 2015: The winner is…


America’s “cheese coach” Laura Werlin has spoken, and the winners of the Gridiron Grilled Cheese Bowl pairing contest have been chosen

Gridiron Grilled Cheese Bowl: Be a winner with the Ultimate Super Bowl XLIX Sandwich Pairing

Blind Wine Tasting Tips from Top Sommeliers of the Rudd Roundtable

The classic wine grapes and regions all have a “tell”–a set of sensory traits that help wine pros ID them blind. Here are some of the blind tasting clues this bad-ass group of somms shared during a recent blind tasting practice at my house–following an intensive day of testing wine theory, blind tasting and service at the prestigious, invite-only Rudd Roundtable.

My Search for the Holy Grail of Wine (Seriously Spoofing the Monty Python Classic)

It was my husband John’s idea to spoof Monty Python and the Holy Grail because he, like many guys, is a “can-quote-every-line-by-heart” fan of this classic, and could never get enough of it. And, as they say in the movie: “We’ve already got one”–actually, two–holy grails of gastronomy in my home region of the Napa Valley: The French Laundry, and our world class Cabernet Sauvignon, both of which make cameos. The fact that we’ve also “already got one” full-on medieval castle, the Castello di Amorosa winery, clinched the deal.

You’re all Winners: Tickets to Flavor! Napa Valley, a Video Wine Course Subscription

Auction Napa Valley 2014 – Live!

Today’s Auction Napa Valley 2014 live auction begins in one hour. Check out the video series I’ve bee hosting on to meet the chefs, see where the money goes, and enjoy a taste of a beautiful Napa Valley day in June.

I’ve checked in with chefs Thomas Keller, Richard Reddington, Brandon Sharpe and Stephen Barber, and got the chance to take photos with my dear friend Margrit Mondavi. Enjoy this little teaser video and make a plan to come next year!

Auction Napa Valley 2014 – A Video Sneak Preview!

Auction Napa Valley 2014 is fully underway, and the buzz, bidding, wine and food are amazing. I’m hosting a video series all weekend that you can follow on, but wanted to give you a sneak preview of the excitement, and of the exceptional bond between the Napa Valley Vintners and the local community – my community – that the Auction supports.

This is the 34th year for Auction Napa Valley hosted by the Napa Valley Vintners, with $150 million raised to date for local community grant recipients supporting our most vulnerable friends and neighbors. The vintners’ focus is health care and youth education. Free health care clinics, family counseling, pregnancy and early child health services, preschool programs, and more, receive the auction proceeds within a few months of the auction’s conclusion.

The entire community of vintners, great chefs and restaurateurs, local food purveyors and businesses, contribute time, money, goods and services to make it all happen. As a mom and a somm, it makes me proud to be a part of this community, and more than eager to do my part hosting this video series that brings the energy and message of the auction to the world.

Speaking of the world, our global neighbors get heavily involved, too. This year’s auction features lots with amazing wines and experiences supported by Burgundy, Bordeaux, Tuscany, New Zealand, Australia’s McLaren Vale, Bulgari jewelry, Mandarin Oriental, Fairmont and Four Seasons hotels throughout the world, the Miami Heat, the New York Mets, the NFL, and so many more generous, iconic names.

Even folks who can’t be here, can e-here;) The e-Auction features hundreds of lots with amazing experiences, wines and collaborations that bring the like-no-other hospitality of the Napa Valley to life, and give you a great excuse to support the auction and treat yourself with a taste of our very best.

Thanks to everyone supporting this event, and I hope you’ll stay tuned in to the action. And let me know what you think? I’ll be posting updates to social media as well, and would love to hear a comment from you.