All posts by judy

Essential Oils used in wine appreciation

We teach recognition of aromas to further appreciate and describe wine.

We use many tools to do this.

The kit we use from France has 51 aromas in it, including fresh cut hay, clove, cinnamon, and more.

In the last year, we have begun to heavily use essential oils for wine tastings. Essential oils are defined as “a group of volatile aromatic liquids or semi-solid liquids containing true plant essences”. Besides helping with learning to recognize scents, many have healing benefits, including relieving headaches and fever. The essential oils lemon, represents a scent found in many wines, and the oil itself can help be a cure for hangovers!

For more info on essential oils and their uses,  please visit our sister site, Karma Oils



Taste of the Allegheny 2013

Grape Thoughts is participating in the Taste of the Allegheny on Tuesday, September 17th, from 5pm to 8pm.

Stop by anytime and try some wine samples paired with gourmet pizza from our mobile pizza oven!

To register ($15) visit this page on the Allegheny Valley Chamber of Commerce page.

To see an article on the event in which Grape Thoughts was mentioned visit this link from the Valley News Dispatch

Ah…Grüner Veltliner how I have missed you

Summer is here….or at least it feels like it. Whites anyone? What is your favorite?
My favorites list change form time to time, and I was reminded of how much I like a particular white.

I was teaching a class today via Karmoxie Consulting – and used Grüner Veltliner as an example of media gone wrong.

Luckily it is really starting to surge and there are a lot of options in our state stores in Pennsylvania now.

Two years ago my husband and I met with winemakers in California who are now producing this Austrian/Czech area wine.

We have used it in our wine classes, and even those who dont take to whites have GUSHed over how much they liked it.
And not because they were tipsy – but because it has a lot going for it.

It is a very versatile white, can be dry or a touch sweet depending on who makes it, kind of similar to chardonnay, but a bit different fruit flavors, with a touch of spice, minimal soil gives it a minerality like Riesling….and did you know?

Many refer to it as the most versatile food wine in the world!

Anyway – let’s get Grüüvy, let’s drink some white, and let’s start talking a lot more about wine.
Like the warm weather that has returned to Pittsburgh….and my absence of blogging….it’s been too long.

Beaujolais Nouveau – 2012 Tasting and Dinner

Friday November 16, 2012 – Friday November 16, 2012

401 Biddle Ave, 2nd floor

View MapMap and Directions | Register


Beaujolais Nouveau – 2012 Tasting and Dinner

[Please note this event will fill up. Please sign up early as space is limited and we will not be able to accommodate once the spots are taken]

Please see the full details for this event here:
Beaujolais Nouveau Wine Dinner in Pittsburgh Details


BYOB Restaurants in Pittsburgh

BYOB Restaurants in Pittsburgh are numerous! Bring Your Own Bottle to the following restaurants….why pay outrageous mark-ups?  Help us to keep this list up to date – have a favorite BYOB in your city? Let us know and we will add it to the list…

BYOB Restaurants in Pittsburgh

Avenue B
Legends North Shore
Bona Terra
Bite Bistro
Union Grill   
Elements Contemporary

Lin’s Asian Fusion
Chaya Japanese
Cambod-Ican Kitchen
Spice Island Tea House
Asian Garden

River Moon Cafe
The Cozy Cafe
Cafe io
Kayla’s Cafe
Crusted Duck Charcuterie

Ka Mei
My Lyng
China Star
Wai Wai
Tasty Chinese Restaurant


Abay Ethiopan Cuisine

Cafe du Juor

Greek/ Mediterranean
The Mediterranean Grill
Daphne Cafe
Kabob G Grill
Royal Carribbean

Joza Corner Hungarian
Cafe Roma
Claudio’s Pizzeria & Ristorante
Mineo’s Pizza House

Tamarind Flavor of India
Taste of India
Peoples Restaurant
Tandoor Indian Grill

La Tavola
Piccolo Forno
Sarafino’s Pasta and Pizza
II Burloni La PizzaE Cucina
City Oven
Mateo’s Pasta & Panino
Pizzutti’s Restaurant
Mia Madre Trattoria
Cafe Davio
II Pizzaiolo
Girasole Restaurant
Pino’s Contemporary Italian Restaurant and Wine Bar

Green Pepper

Latin American
Aji Picante
Chicken Latino
La Feria

Fajita Grill
Los Cabos Socal Mex Food

Middle Eastern
Ali Baba Restaurant

Kous Kous Cafe


Penn Ave Fish Co

Nikki’s Thai Kitchen
The Green Mango
Pusadee’s Garden    
Thai Me Up
Smiling Banana Leaf
Thai Cuisine
Thai Suan Thip
Thai Gourmet
Little Bangkok in the Strip
Thai Spoon

Vegan/Raw Food
Quiet Storm Vegetarian & Vegan Cafe

Tram’s Kitchen
Pho Minh
Pho Van

Sphinx Cafe
Games N’ At

Reasons to host your wine tasting event

We have been hosting events since Nov 2005. We do private tastings and also tastings that are open to the public. See if any of these top ten reasons get you in the mood to party!

1. Let’s celebrate, for the sake of celebrating.
It’s a great time to de-stress from our 9-5 jobs, and why not do so by trying new wines?

2. It’s fun and educational!
Learn some wino wisdom and get buzzed at the same time.

3. We need more friends.
It’s a good excuse to get together with old friends and meet new ones. We have over 800 attendees, and have spawned several local wine meetup groups.  Apparently, our events are also recommended to singles as a good way to meet others! <3

4. Wine makes you skinner.
Daily wine drinkers have a lower body mass than those who only drink wine occasionally, bottoms up!

5.  Try before you buy.
Who doesn’t like to try before they buy, try a variety of wines, you may discover a new favorite – or learn what to avoid for your palate!

6. The FOOD.
Whether at  a local restaurant, or a Grape Thoughts dinner with Chef Adam, we always find some interesting pairings. Why not have a hand-tossed wood-fired pizza night with your friends? Have oven, will travel!

7. Give thanks to others with the gift of wine
Employee or client appreciation, bridal showers, bachelorette parties, birthday parties – let us help you create a unique experience with a customized wine tasting.

8. Everyone loves wine, let’s uncork and let loose!
Wine brings out the best in us, not to mention we become better singers, dancers, comedians, etc.

9.  Promote your business!
We have helped companies with client appreciation dinners, and also with public events which bring new potential customers to your place of business.

10. Nobody Likes to drink alone.

There is no need to when you attend a Grape Thoughts event.

CONTEST: Romantic, Fun and Funky Love…

Inspired by our friends at Seita Diamond Jewelers, and their contest to win a gift certificate by talking about love stories, we are having a contest as well.

Post a love story on our Facebook Wall – – and you can win two tickets to our Valentine’s Day event ($50 each) or two passes to another upcoming event.

Our Non-Traditional Valentine’s Day Dinner is on Feb. 14th – my husband is the chef, and I will talk about wines.  If you haven’t met us yet – we are pretty non-traditional.   Our Unique Wedding Story

In keeping with non-traditions, it can be about love for your spouse, your job (Whippee!), traveling, drinking wine, your favorite pet, whatever you want.

The story with the most LIKES by Feb 12th at 12:01am wins.

(The VDAY dinner always sells out – so sign up if you want to make it – if you win you will have the choice of being refunded or getting passes to the future event)

Friday night in BWI (Baltimore Airport) – Vino Volo

Just rolling off of a three day teach of Web Design with CSS here in Rockville, Maryland.

I find myself at Vino Volo. A chain of airport wine bars.
I decide to order the Gerwurztraminer to start because when I asked if it was dry, the waiter said “Yes”. I was surprised, I cant really find dry Gerwurz, but it’s a nice surprise when I do. Something about my brain thinking, “I smell sweet”  – when in reality it just smells Gerwurztraminer – and the result is a nice bone dry crisp sensation to mess with my head.

I order, then ask if my things would be safe while I go to the restroom. I believe them when they say it will, in this artificial outdoor patio – it’s not bad, it is an airport afterall. I like the plants, at least they are real.

After washing my hands in the bathroom, I am heading back and my pinky feels like it is feeling the air for the first time in a while. Crap – my ring.  I head back to the bathroom, and actually root around in the garbage.  You must understand, I want this ring.  I got it while touring Western Australia wine regions, in St Margaret River valley with my friend Trina. It is silver and has butterflies and grape leaves on it.

My rooting doesn’t help. I only find discarded dental floss and paper towels.

I wash my hands again, and just hope it is at the hotel, or with my luggage. I return to find my Gewurztraminer and small greens salad.

I like their offerings of small plates here. The salad has a nice variety of greens, goat cheese, cranberries. Better than airport fast food, but…not exactly stunning. I take a sip of the Gerwurtz to ease my pain.

Crap. I am not consoled. This is not a dry G. It is not bad, it is just like nectar of the gods. Its mango and pears, and rich honey – with spice. Double damn. My ring and not the wine I expected. Two disappointments in a short amount of time.

I tell the waiter when he returns and explain this is not dry. He explains that it is “fruit forward” not realizing I have been around the block. Come on servers, can you please learn a little bit more and try not to make shit up? So a bit of a ding to Vino Volo for not training your staff. (by the way – I will be training the staff for a restaurant in Pittsburgh soon – very stoked and will update you on this)

Although I am moody, I am not a bitch, so I just explain to the guy that its pretty rare to find a dry G while out and about and I should have realized. He offers to refund my money but I think to myself, I should have taken a bigger gulp. I tell him nevermind,
it is an okay wine just not what I has asked for.   (Plus its my favorite number – $11)

Called hotel. Hopefully they will call me tomorrow with my ring. (hoping it is in my bag)

Distracted by woman behind me speaking a mixture of Spanish and English. Loudly. I find myself trying to practice my Spanish by listening in. Crap. Headphones. Girl Talk. Ozzy and Jay-Z…..nice.

Okay – a few minutes later and I’m much better. Wine and tunes.

I ordered the flight of reds.

The Chilean wine has a great nose. Here is my take: berries, chocolate, green pepper.
I take it in before looking…it IS a Cab Franc!, along with Carmenere.
Very tasty.  Oveja Negra…Maule Valley 2010 $21  Hmmm…prices have risen.
Really like, but price to excitement ratio is a bit off for me

The Spanish wine is not quite as aromatic, but still nice. Cherries and berries. Nice and DRY. I guess tempranillo and look – yippee! But a touch of Cabernet makes this one a bit more approachable for me. Soft oak, just a touch. Really well rounded.
Bodegas Victorianas, Tempranillo, Santana 2009 – $19
Would totally buy this, if I were allowed to bring wine into PA.

Liking the tacos side dish they have with this. I miss my husband. He is a chef. His favorite dish is tacos.

Okay – Im guessing the Argentinian wine is Malbec based on what they have done so far.  I peek, it is. I’m a cheater sometimes. But not at Words With Friends. I swear Joe and Amanda!!! But man, the aroma is throwing me off. It reminds me of the pool when I was younger. Not super strong chlorine, but a slight whiff of it. WTF is that? I swirl and jam my nose in there. Concrete. Okay – the pool in my town, I recall the concrete – have a scar on my knee from jumping out and away from the local pervert. Let’s call this “chalky” and sound a bit more like a wine professional.

Luckily a swig of this does NOT remind me of being in a pool. Very very plummy as I’d expect from a Malbec, with nice oak, not harsh. With the tacos the fruit is SUPER nice.
Argentina,  Bodega San Polo, Malbec, Piuquenes, 2010 $23 I pass back again the Spanish Tempranillo has turned carmel-ly as I finish off my taco. YUMMY.  The Argentina wine doesn’t quite go with the creamy coleslaw, but hey it okay.

What is this? I think, I think i have a smile on my face!
Thank you wine! You and Girl Talk have improved my mood.

Thank you loud yapping Spanish speaking girl behind me, for inspiring the World Value Reds from Spain, Argentina, and Chile. Not a bad deal for $7.

Chile wins on aroma,  Spain wins on finish!

They have a flourless chocolate cake. Hmm? I ask if they have a Port. No, but a French “port-style”. I guess I have to since I’m finally writing a review…




Aroma? Not much. Swirl. Um…like a fresh first aid kit. Yikes!

But like many dessert wines, the aroma has nothing to do with the the sugary sweetness which coats my tongue, much better than licking swabs. A bit drying though.
France, M. Chapoutier, Grenache, Banyuls, 2009

Ooooh. some Hoover? Im either getting drunk or just everything is coming together.

Lovely lovely flourless chocolate cake – and that sauce, a nice soury sweet raspberry sauce. Man, this sweety Grenache just totally sets it all off.

Im thinking of our V-Day dinner and dessert choices. YUM.



Suggest a New Venue and Get Two tickets to a wine event!

Suggest a venue and get free tickets to a Grape Thoughts wine event!

We are planning out the rest of 2012 and are looking for new venues.
Where is a place YOU would like to explore new wines and firends? 

In the past we have used:

  • Art Galleries
  • Restuarants (BYO)
  • Businesses
  • Film Studios
  • More fun, hip, friendly places wanting to promote themselves!

If your suggestion leads to a new spot for Grape Thoughts events, you will be given two free passes to the event! (usually near $30 per person)

Let’s promote the love of wine and Pittsburgh fun spots!

Please use this Google Form to suggest venues

If you have any questions, please contact us!