Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Looking for the Perfect Gift? Wine Away!

We all love gifts (c'mon, you're kidding yourself if you say you don't), and if you're reading this blog, you love wine. So this year for Christmas time, let's explore a lovely combination of the two: wine gifts! While this is meant to be a list of ideas of what to get that wine lover on your gift list, it may or may not also resemble my Christmas list (hint, hint. Nudge, nudge.). So, let's see what kind of fun stuff we can come up with, shall we?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Upcoming Event: 20something - The New Vintage - 11/17/12 - Fremont Studios, Seattle

Are you ready for the party of the fall? Now in its 6th year, 20something – The New Vintage (@20somethingwine) roars back into the Seattle scene on Saturday November 17th, from 6-10pm at the Fremont Studios.  This annual event attracts more than 1,000 attendees and is co-produced this year by Seattle’s Convention and Visitors Bureau (@VisitSeattle) & the Washington State Wine Commission (@winecommission).

So what exactly is 20something? The event was modeled after Taste Washington but created to appeal to a different and younger audience. While you definitely don’t have to be a 20-something to be in attendance at the event, the event has a much more club type atmosphere and definitely caters to the 20 to 30 something crowd. You’ll find a DJ, winemakers and winery representatives mingling amongst the crowd, and a much more informal approach to wine tasting. But don’t think you won’t have some of Washington’s most well-known winemakers themselves in attendance also. Last year I had the amazing opportunity to try WSU Alum Drew Bledsoe’s wine Doubleback, and was also able to chat a bit and get a photo with the famed quarterback turned winemaker! Because you’re not dealing with lines at tasting tables, once you’re able to snag a winemaker for a taste, you have a better opportunity to ask a few questions and not be in someone else’s way. The only downside to this (which I’ve mentioned in past posts on the event) is that it’s often very difficult to find specific wineries that you know are there. A tip from a past pro who has struggled through this in years prior: go early. If you beat the crowd, you’ll have a better chance of tracking down specific wineries by word of mouth (just ask someone if they’ve seen that winery nearby) or simply because you’ll be able to better see through the crowd. Last year’s event had the winery representatives sporting glowstick necklaces (that some turned into bracelets) in order to stand out better in the darkened room. This made it much easier to zone in on a winery when you were ready for your next taste.

Some people might ask WHY exactly hold an event catered to the 20-something set? Well I don’t know if you’ve noticed or not, but the 20 to 30-something set is big into wine lately. They’ve let go of the notion of an image of wine as their mother’s cheap Chablis or White Zinfandel. The “New Vintage” of wine drinkers is more educated and eager to try new varietals. And the biggest factor is that they have disposable income since most aren’t yet tied down with mortgages and families. This is the perfect audience for wineries. Get them to try and buy now, and they’ll likely be customers for life. In an age of social media, garnering the attention of this age group also bodes well for exposure and a bigger presence in the marketplace. Plain and simple: if they like it, they’ll tell everyone they know about it via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or some blogging platform. As an event geared toward this hot demographic, 20something – The New Vintage aims to educate and attract loyal wine drinking consumers.

This year the event has teamed up with some local hotels for some great packages to turn the one-night event into a Seattle weekend getaway. Check out packages at some notable Seattle locations:

Hotel Ändra - 2000 Fourth Avenue/ (206) 448-8600

Hotel 1000 - 1000 First Avenue/ (206) 957-1000

SpringHill Suites - 1800 Yale Avenue/ (206) 254-0500

With over 75 wineries pouring (have you seen the winery list? Another great line-up!), and over 15 restaurants pairing delectable bites to go with your wine, there is no way you are leaving hungry or thirsty from this event.

Don’t miss out on this fall’s trendiest wine tasting soiree and get your tickets for 20something before they sell out. And believe me, they WILL sell out. Tickets for this popular event generally start reaching sell-out stage at least a week or two prior to the event. Get on it and I’ll see you at 20something 2012!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

BevMo! - a Beer Drinker's Paradise?!

After five years in San Diego, I was more than well versed with the offerings of BevMo, their extensive choices of all things wine, beer and spirits.  While I didn’t always take advantage of the locations nearest me there, the grand opening and newness of the idea here in WA seems to have wrapped me up in its fold of excitement.
In principle the idea remains the same between the states, offer a great selection of wine, beer and spirits and do so at an affordable cost while maintaining a locally owned small town feel, this is not a box store.  The South Center store offers all of this and more.  With an approximately 500 square foot tasting area, the store is well suited for events, casual tastings as well as educational seminars.  It is a focal point really with direct line of site from the front entrance.
The real reason I was there though was to educate myself on the beer department and I was surprised to learn some neat features about the set-up as well as the unique opportunity WA state laws have given beer drinkers in this mecca for beer. 

Friday, September 7, 2012

Back in the PNW

*The first of many posts to come from our new BEER contributor! Welcome to Ally!*

Six months have passed in my new adventure back in the northwest and the beers have not disappointed.  After being inundated with San Diego’s ever changing take on the IPA, don’t get me wrong I will always love Stone Levitation, but it’s nice to be back in the PNW where craft beers of all varieties reign supreme.  I am particularly pleased with the variety of amazing ambers/browns, porters and stouts.  Preferring dark beers to their lighter cousins, I find that so far no other region of the country does these quite like the Northwest.  The flavor quality in Rogue’s hazelnut brown is unbeatable and several other breweries have tried, but the toasted flavor of the hazelnut shines in perfect harmony with the malty flavor of this beer.
As for stouts my favorite so far was found on a business trip to Portland, at the Laurelwood Brewing Co.  Their award winning Space Stout lives up to the hype.  It is a dark heady stout with a great pallet of chocolate malt and balanced hop combination.  Not a heavy stout, it would pair well with an afternoon BBQ or a rich dessert. 
Not to be too biased in my love of dark beers, I throw a shout out to my favorite NW pale ale, Mannys, by Georgetown Brewing Co.  This is the beer that reminded me pale ales can carry a great flavor when done right.  As there are so many other great beers to try and what feels like too little time I don’t get this one as often as I would like, but at the end of a long night it’s my go to.
While I’ve certainly had more than just these three beers in the last six months, there are too many to list.  Moving forward I hope to give you the reader a glimpse in to the ambiance of some of the NW’s best breweries and bars and the beers that take center stage in each! 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

BevMo! Makes the Move to Washington!

With the changes in Washington state liquor laws brought on by the passing of I-1183, the doors were opened for new retailers to make their move into our fine state. One of these retailers is BevMo!, a chain with over 100 locations in both California and Arizona. I had heard of the chain when I lived down in California several years ago, but had never ventured into one of their locations (what was I thinking?!). I finally had the opportunity to see what the buzz was about when BevMo! hosted several local writers and media on the “BevMo! Fun Bus” tour of their two brand new Washington stores in Tacoma and Silverdale. While I was only able to join up for the Tacoma store visit and didn’t get a chance at any of the fun bus fun, I had a great time learning about the chain, touring the store and sampling some fantastic wines.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Sparkling Wines of Washington: A Blind Birthday Bubbly Tasting


One of the things that I’ve been wanting to do for quite some time now is a focus on Washington Sparkling Wine (raise your hand if you know why we can’t call it “Champagne” here?). I’ve had several different ones from different wineries and I thought it would be fun to do a little side by side of some of Washington’s finest (and most well-known) Sparkling Wine… blind! What better way to compare than to test our palates to guess the high-end from the low-end? AND, what better occasion to celebrate a birthday than to bust open five bottles of bubby with some girlfriends? As part of my “Birthday Week 2012”, we did just that. And so, “Birthday Bubbles” commenced…

Monday, July 2, 2012

Upcoming Event: 4th Annual WSU Wine Symposium - Palace Ballroom - Seattle

What do you get when you mix 11 WSU connected wineries, Beecher’s Cheese, a posh event space and food from Tom Douglas Catering? Why, the 4th annual Washington State University Wine Symposium of course! As you may remember from last year, I assisted in organizing the 3rd annual event in summer 2011. This year, I was given the lead role and, along with some amazing help, have managed to put together the biggest and best WSU Wine Symposium yet! The 4th annual event will be held on Thursday, July 19th, 2012 at the Palace Ballroom in downtown Seattle from 7-10pm.

The whole purpose of the event is to showcase WSU affiliated wineries. So whether it’s the winemaker, the owners, founding members, or a Coug that runs the show in the tasting room or back office, each and every winery that is featured at the Wine Symposium is somehow connected to WSU. This is the beauty of the event, showing Cougs how many amazing wines come from wineries connected to the University. Another addition to this year’s event is Beecher’s Cheese, the owner of which is also a WSU Alum! They will be there with their cheese and mac & cheese samples (maybe we should invite Oprah?) to pair with the wines. So whether you are a wine expert, or a newbie who wants to learn more about Washington wine and the fine people that make it, this event is for you.

The 4th Annual WSU Wine Symposium will feature wines from:

Some of the wineries are familiar faces at the event, back this year with new vintages, and others are first time participants. We are beyond excited to have such a stellar line-up of WSU connected wineries pouring at the event!

Your ticket for the event features entrance, tastings, heavy appetizers from Tom Douglas Catering, and a raffle ticket. This year’s raffle items include a wine gift basket from The Wine Alley, a wine basket and spirits basket from Sip Northwest Magazine, a private tasting from Smasne Cellars, a gift certificate from Beecher's Cheese, t-shirts/entrance to the Fall 2012 Cougar Crawl, and more!

Please join us in supporting all things WSU and get your tickets to what is sure to be a fantastic evening!

All tickets must be pre-purchased, so there will be no ticket sales at the door the night of the event. Visit the registration page here to get your tickets, and GO COUGS!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Rock Me All Night Long - Win 2 tickets to Wine Rocks Seattle 2012!

Have you procrastinated in obtaining your Wine Rocks 2012 tickets? Do you like free stuff? Well, then I have the contest for you. Sips & the City is giving away a pair of tickets to this year's Wine Rocks event, which (as I previously wrote about) is happening Wednesday July 11th, 2012.

Want a shot at the tickets? Here's what you have to do:

1. Head on over to the Twittersphere and follow @WineRocksSEA. There are great updates posted about the event.
2. Stop by the Wine Rocks Seattle facebook page and give them a "like". You'll also find more information about the event here.
3. Leave a comment on this post. I had fun with this last year by having people pair their favorite type of wine and music. Do it again! Think of it like a food & wine pairing but with music & wine. Get creative! Please make sure to leave your full name so I can find you if you win.

I'll randomly pick from all comments on Friday June 29th, 2012 at noon. Don't miss out on a chance to win tickets to what will surely be a fantastic event!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Upcoming Event: Wine Rocks Seattle 2012 - Elliott Hall at Pier 66

 Back for the 5th year in a row, Wine Rocks is set to once again showcase the "rockin'" side of wine, this year at Elliott Hall at Pier 66 on the Seattle waterfront. This year's event will take place on Wednesday July 11th, from 6 to 10pm. With the food trucks returning (those were a great feature at least year's event) and over 35 wineries, breweries and distilleries on hand, it's sure to be a great time (as always). One of the best parts of the event isn't just that there's music, but that the performances are by some of Washington's winemakers themselves! The line-up for this year includes:

  • The Wicker Rhinos – Paul Gregutt (wine writer) and Larry Davidson (sommelier)
  • The Fox & The Raven – Chip McLaughlin (Vinyl Wines) and Mari Gisele
  • Turbo Grape Mashers – Gordy Rawson (Chatter Creek Cellars)
  • Shelly & the Curves
  • Soul Jelly
So how did Wine Rocks come to be? Founder Jen Doak states, “I created Wine Rocks in 2008 as an open house event for Gibson Guitars to bring publicity to their showroom. I suggested that they bring in a few local winery owners who also love strumming their guitars. The concept was a huge hit and Wine Rocks has grown every year since.” And boy has it ever. I've had the privilege of attending the past two year's events and each year it grew and changed venues to larger spaces. I can't wait to be down on the waterfront on a (hopefully) beautiful Seattle summer evening.

To date, participating wineries include: Animale Winery, Baer Winery, Barons V, Barrage Cellars, Celaeno Winery, Chatter Creek Winery, Corvus Cellars, DiStefano Winery, Dusted Valley Vintners, Eye of the Needle, Fidelitas Wines, Fjellene Cellars & Vineyard, Gifford Hirlinger, Glencorrie Winery, Gorman Winery, Guardian Cellars, Hightower Cellars, Jones of Washington, Kiona Vineyard & Winery, Long Shadows, Magnificant Wine Co., Mark Ryan Winery, Michael Florentino Cellars, Pontin del Roza Winery, Purple Star, Renegade Wine Co., Robert Ramsay Cellars, Smasne Cellars, Terra Blanca, Treveri Cellars, Walter Dacon Wines and Waters Winery.

Tack on some great breweries: Pike Brewing Company and Pyramid Breweries

And some distilleries: BroVo Spirits and Project V Distillery and Sausage Company

And you’ve got the recipe for another great Peha Promotions event!

This year’s Wine Rocks event benefits The Giving Grapes Foundation, a 501c3 organization that assists local charities who provide financial assistance to service industry professionals who have to take time off work due to injury or illness.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE! Sips & the City will be giving away a pair of tickets to this awesome event! Be on the lookout for the post detailing the giveaway (coming soon)!

What are you waiting for? Get your tickets here and I’ll see you on the Pier for Wine Rocks 2012!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Sips on the Road: Oregon Unwine'd - Portland, OR

 As I walked into the first ever Oregon Unwine’d event at the Left Bank Annex (@leftbankannex) in Portland, I must have looked like a combination of a kid in a candy store and a deer in the headlights. I had no idea where to even start. My journey in wine has so far kept me very much in Washington (save for a few trips here and there) and Oregon is a region I have not had a chance to really explore. I can honestly say I think I can count on just two hands how many of the 100 wineries in attendance I had tasted before. This created a unique opportunity for me as I set about my tasting: no bias. Since I hadn’t really explored the regions of Oregon wine country at all, I really had no preference when it came to one area over another. I started making the rounds starting first in tasting whites and rosés and quickly realized that Oregon knows a little somethin’ somethin’ about rosé. Rosé of Pinot noir to be more precise. This already light grape transforms beautifully into a crisp, dry, and very appealing rosé. I knew just a few wineries into my tasting what my focus for this event and my post was going to be about. And so, without further ado, the best of rosé at this year’s Unwine’d event (in alphabetical order)!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Taste Washington 2012 - CenturyLink Events Center - Seattle, WA

Once again, Taste Washington proved that it reigns supreme as THE wine event in the state. While some were skeptical of this year’s new two-day format, the worries were unwarranted. Both the crowds and winemakers alike seemed to very much enjoy the new version of Taste Washington. Over two days this past weekend, over 4,000 glasses were used and an estimated 200,000 wine pours were given out to tasters. The seminars also had a big draw this year, with standing room only crowds in several of them. I took in the sips and bites on Sunday afternoon, and as always, came away with a few new favorites. I try to make it a goal to try as many new wines as possible, and I was excited to try a few brands I had previously never heard of. So what were my favorites? Read on!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Upcoming Event: Taste Washington 2012 - CenturyLink Field Events Center, Seattle

It's that time of year again folks, Taste Washington (@TasteWashington) is upon us once again! This event continues to set the standard for Washington wine events and this year, the Washington State Wine Commission has teamed up with Seattle’s Convention and Visitors Bureau (SCVB) to put on the food and wine event of the year. Big changes this year: the event is TWO days instead of its traditional single day tasting format. Both the tasting and the seminars have been spaced between the two days. Previously, the seminars were all held on Saturday and the Grand Taste held Sunday, but this new format offers more time for tasting, and a better chance to sit on on one of the educational wine seminars.

So here's the scoop on the happenings:

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Movin' on up.. to include BEER! Plus Upcoming Seattle Area Events...

With the recent relocation of a friend of mine from San Diego to Seattle, the idea was brought forth to add a guest contributor to Sips & the City. Until now I've focused solely on wine, and I'll continue to do that. The change will come as the talented Ally Long (@AllyDrinksBeer) begins to contribute some beer related posts from time to time! She wants an outlet to put her Journalism degree to good use, I like diversified content, and a lot of wine drinkers are beer drinkers too, so what the heck; let's go for it! Look for posts from Ally coming soon...

Also: there are several fun events coming up in March and April that are worth mentioning. Since SATC will now include some beer related content, I included those as well:

3/30 to 3/31/12 - Hop Scotch, Fremont Studios, Seattle

3/31/12 - Washington Cask Brewers Festival, Seattle Center, Seattle

3/31 to 4/1/12 - Taste Washington!, Century Link Field Event Center, Seattle

4/11/12 - Sexy Syrah, Salty's on Alki, Seattle

4/21 to 4/22/12 - Passport to Woodinville, Woodinville area wineries, Woodinville

There are also a LOT of great tastings happening at local wine shops on a daily basis, so keep your eyes open for those. The above events are some of the larger ones coming up that are likely to sell out in advance, so get your tickets early!

Monday, February 27, 2012

It Just Keeps Getting Better: The 2012 Seattle Wine & Food Experience

If you weren’t in attendance at yesterday’s tasting bonanza, you missed out tremendously. The 2012 Seattle Wine & Food Experience was a huge success and this year’s event brought together some of the Northwest’s finest wines, beers, ciders and spirits as well as delectable bites from a variety of area restaurants. I took a much different approach this year than I have at previous wine events: I didn’t drink wine. Well, I had a few tastes of wine at the event, but I wanted to switch it up a bit and focus more on our local beers, ciders and spirits (also, I had the privilege of attending an Oregon wine event the night prior, so I definitely didn’t miss out on the fine juice that state has to offer!). So, without further ado, my favorites this year of the 2012 Seattle Wine & Food Experience.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

From the Vine to your Glass: The AVAs of Washington

"AVA". It’s a term you’ve no doubt heard, but might not know much more about other than it means “wine region”. Well, in this edition of “From the Vine to Your Glass” we’re going to take a look at what AVAs are, and briefly explore the AVAs that make up Washington state.

AVA is short for “American Viticultural Area” and is a grape growing region distinguished from others by geographic features. The boundaries for these areas are requested by wineries, and actually set by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (or TTB for short). To name an AVA on a wine label, at least 85% of the grapes used to make the wine must be from that specific area. Here in Washington, we have some very well known AVAs, and others that you may have not have ever heard of. Washington has 12 AVAs at this time, but that is expected to change in the near future. So what and where are they? Let’s take a look see shall we?

Monday, January 30, 2012

Are You In It to Win It? A Seattle Wine & Food Experience Giveaway!

If you haven't yet heard all of the amazing things about the upcoming Seattle Wine & Food Experience, you've obviously been living under a rock (or, you just don't read my blog enough, I posted a great description of the event earlier this month..). This annual event is coming up in just a few short weeks and I've got a chance for you to win a pair of tickets to attend! So think VERY hard about who is worthy enough of attending the event by your side if you win and pay close attention to the details. It's very simple really:

#1. On Facebook? Head on over to the Seattle Wine & Food Experience page and click "like". This will give you updates on various restaurants, wineries, and contests related to the event! Stay in the know...

#2: On Twitter? Follow @SeattleWineFood for more updates and information tidbits.

#3: After you've gotten yourself fully connected to the event and learned about all it has to offer (because c'mon, you really have to want to go if you want to win these tickets!), post a comment on this post with the one thing you are most looking forward to at the event on 2/26.

See, isn't that easy?! This Friday 2/4/12, I'll gather all the names of those who commented and draw one lucky winner. Looking forward to seeing the responses.

Cheers and Good Luck!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

2011: Let's Rewind that Wine...

So most people did their 2011 recap posts in the last week of 2011, or even last week (the first week of 2012). Well, I'm not most people and I decided to do mine in the SECOND week of 2012. Because I can. I remember how much fun I had last year re-capping my 2010 Sips & the City posts, and getting to look back on all the fun I had in 2010. Well, 2011 was no different! I had such an amazing year getting to know new people, attending events, learning about various aspects of wine making, and trying some spectacular new wines. And now, my blog is almost a toddler (yes, it will be 2 in March!). Time sure does fly, doesn't it? And now, without further ado.. sit back, relax and enjoy the ride: 2011 in review!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Upcoming Event: 2012 Seattle Wine & Food Experience - Seattle Center Exhibition Hall

Have you missed out on the experience? Well fret no more, as once again the Seattle Wine & Food Experience is back for its 2012 showing. I’m not even remotely kidding when I say that it’s “back and bigger and better than ever”. There are so many new elements to this year’s event that I’m giddy with excitement as I start counting down the days to February 26th, 2012.

The 4th annual event, once again held at the spacious Seattle Center Exhibition Hall, will offer wines from nine regions, with a special focus on Oregon. This is a new twist for a Washington wine event, as we have so many amazing wineries in our backyard that we rarely shift our focus to that sales tax free state to the south. Oregon consistently puts out some amazing wines and I’m definitely looking forward to exploring this region (albeit in Seattle and not IN Oregon wine country.. I need to work on that.) at this year’s Wine & Food Experience. The new elements added this year include:

• Distillery Row – featuring a dozen craft distilleries
• Chef demo stage emceed by Chef in the Hat Thierry Rautureau
• Artisan Food "Shop" – a dozen great products locally made for the most part both for sample and sale
• The 6-7-8 Audi Lounge featuring Taylor Shellfish Oyster bar paired with sparkling wine
Fonte Coffee Lounge
• Live music by the group FOUR
• The Beef Bistro - featuring Trellis, Andaluca, The Capital Grill, LUC
• Special Wine Region: OREGON (more than 30 Oregon wineries in one area)
Stella Artois – serving up beer in their signature glasses
• Beer and cider exhibit

The greatest part of this event is the vast variety of wine regions present to taste. While, of course, there will be plenty of Washington wineries pouring at the event, there are the 30+ Oregon wineries as well as other regions around the world. At last year’s event, I made an effort to eat as much as possible (sometimes I neglect the food at these events. What can I say, I like the vino.) and limit my tastings only to wineries that I had never tried before. It was a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to taking the same approach this year!

Admission to the Seattle Wine & Food Experience is just $49 per person and includes access to all areas of the event and all of the yummy food and wine/beer/cider/deliciousness tastes. Get your tickets here and help support The Giving Grapes Foundation, a 501c3 organization that assists local charities who provide financial assistance to service industry professionals who have to take time off work due to injury or illness. C’mon, it’s hip to have fun in the name of charity, so get your tickets before they sell out and I’ll see you there!

(look for me near the food…. Well OK, the wine too.)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Sips on the Road: Sonoma Valley Wine Country

Many don’t know that I spent a few years living down in the Bay Area in California. This was truly my first “wine country” experience, as prior to this I had not done any tasting in Washington State even. While I lived in California, I made one trip to Napa and one to Sonoma and I was delighted to have the opportunity to visit Sonoma County once again to experience California Wine Country (I know, I cheated on Washington, don’t tell!). I headed down back in early November for a weekend of Football (Go Cougs!) and wine along with my friend Alison. We made the most of our wine day and I actually managed to catch my flight on time!

(See ya SF! Headed to Sonoma!)