All posts by judy

Valentine's Day Wine Dinner – Pittsburgh 2011

It’s back!

The Grape Thoughts Valentine’s Day dinner – for singles, couples, and groups of friends to celebrate wine and the holiday, yet break away from some of the cheesy traditions and create ones that are more memorable!

This year’s event:
I He(ART) Valentine’s Day
$50, 7pm – 10pm*
Schmutzco Lodge

5405 Broad Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15206

This Valentine’s Day dinner will include 4 courses paired with fabulous wines,  and some very interesting new traditions wrapped around this He(ART) Theme…

  • A non-stuffy venue with a great atmosphere – filled with art to gaze upon – always something to look at if you run out of things to say
  • Chef Adam & Wine Maven Judy carefully plotting dinner and wine pairings. **
  • Some good beats and fresh tunes
  • In bucking tradition – START WEARING PURPLE. Unless you want to make a traditionalist statement WEAR RED
  • A CMU MFA grad walking us through an intriguing talk on emotional love and an opportunity to participate in a LOVE project
  • A heart shaped fire ring for burning some wishes for the future and letting go of the past

*For those of you concerned with it being a school night, dinner and the wines are served early.
Our hosts just want to give us time to hang out if we want.

**Those with food allergies, vegans/vegetarians – please contact us or make a note when you purchase your ticket so we can accommodate.

Click here or follow the link in the upper Right to get your tickets.

This event is limited and WILL sell out.

Hosts Dave English and Gian Carlos Silva-De Jesús have prepared a unique space for us to wine, dine, mingle, and also to get creative!

Dave English is a founding member and the creative director of The Schmutz Company. He also works as the Studio Program Coordinator at The Andy Warhol Museum. His work includes puppetry, sculpture, performance, arts education and arts organization. Dave is from Pittsburgh, PA, and studied at West Virginia University.”

Gian Carlos Silva-De Jesús is from Santurce, Puerto Rico. He has received a BFA in Puerto Rico and a MFA degree from Carnegie Mellon.  He has participated art performances and has art displayed in Puerto Rico, New York, the Dominican Republic, London and Pittsburgh.  His works confront the everyday situations that involve communication and deep feeling confrontation. Walkmic is part of his last project in which he built a sculpture of a microphone in which people went inside and recorded themselves, talking or singing about different emotions like love, sadness, or thoughts within the Pittsburgh community while listening to a Reggaeton beat.

What are you doing New Year's…New Year's Eve…?

Well, this will be my most exciting New Year’s Eve yet.
I’m getting married on New Year’s Day, and am having a big party!
Time is running out, and now I wonder, what wines will I have on hand? Which sparkling wines will I choose?

Life has definitely been hectic lately, and even though
our ceremony is going to be completely non-traditional, I also am wondering what traditions will we start as a couple?

My question to you is, what traditions do you have for the holidays that involve wine?

And what wines do YOU plan on having for this New Year’s Eve?

I look forward to finding out YOUR Grape Thoughts as they relate to the holidays.

You can comment here, or submit via this form.

Please spread the word, I am trying to get different types of traditions here, the more the merrier!

I plan on writing an article next week with the submissions.

Form to share your traditions / plans for New Year’s Eve

Buying Wine Guide – Trust Your Instincts

A friend forwarded me a link to an NPR Marketplace article on buying wine, and how points ratings do not really matter. Some scientific evidence on things I have been trying to promote for years. That it doesnt matter what the experts say – its what YOU like.

NPR’s Marketplace talking about Wine Ratings, and studies to show they dont mean anything

A couple of points from the story:

– In blind tastings, expensive wines scored lower than expensive

– Only 1 in 10 expert wine tasters rated the same wine with the same points score

One reporters guide to buying wine…Choose the one with the most expensive label, but under $15.
Eh, maybe not the best advice, I have had some fancy labels where the wine sucked.

BUT…again…what really matters is what you think!


Please leave an account of what wines you like, inexpensive or not!

Wine makes the holidays better!

Hi everyone, we have entered the time of year when the hours accelerate and there is hardly time to get everything done!

To take some stress away, I have two things to share with you.

1.  Getting cranky gave me the idea to offer a coupon in our store.

What made me cranky?

The holiday season started in SEPTEMBER this year.
I enjoy the time with friends and family, but Christmas music before Halloween – I thought the only store allowed to display Christmas decorations early was Joanne Fabrics?

If you haven’t already found a gift for that wine lover of yours. Use coupon code BAHHUMBUG at checkout now through December 15th.

This will give you 10% off your order of $50 or more.
Since I am not a big corporation and believe I already offer the lowest prices, all that I ask in return is that you let me know how the gift goes over.
That is not even a requirement, just a request.

2.  Turning to a more positive side, I do enjoy the chill in the air, relaxing with friends, and enjoying some mulled wine…

What are your favorite holiday traditions involving wine? Please share in the comments below, and I will choose a winner at random on
December 31st to win a $50 gift certificate to use at a Grape Thoughts event or in the store.

Seriously? NYC knows no Beaujolais?

So, I was walking back to my hotel – the Best Western Seaport Inn downtown.
How lucky am I to have THREE wine bars on this little street?

Not lucky enough. NONE of them even knew what a Beaujolais Nouveau is, or that last night
was Beaujolais Day.

I will just have to get my fix when I get back to Pittsburgh.

Or…at lunchtime. 🙂

Happy Beaujolais Nouveau Day – 2010 !

A couple of years ago,  our local wine club in Pittsburgh started celebrating Beaujolais Nouveau Day.

Beaujolais is a region in France which has found marketing gold in offering Beaujolais Nouveau – a wine in which Gamay grapes are picked, pressed, fermented, bottled, in a matter of weeks.

These bottles are rushed around the world to go on sale the third Thursday in November.

This light bodied red finds it’s way to us in the States just in time for Thanksgiving.

This Gamay is made to drink young, with the distinct aromas of….Bananas?!?!!

That sure is a fun aroma to search for when you try this one.

So, set Pandora to a French station, and open a bottle of the 2010.

Even though some say Beaujolais is only good for a year, others have attested to finding Beaujolais that has aged well up to three years or so. What’s nice, if this is true, most shops put their Beaujolais Nouveau on sale to make way for the new releases.

I have been so busy lately, no time for a full French menu in a happening location.

So, this year I am having members of the wine club over. Not enough room for everyone as we are remodeling.

SO, please pop open a bottle and leave a comment here about your experience.

One lucky commenter will win a gift certificate to use for wine gifts for the holidays.

Enjoy! Or should I say…

Grape Thoughts in London!

Ah, the economy of wine in Europe!

Read on and you might find yourself a new wine to try – that is AFFORDABLE – and ready to drink now!

I just bought a bottle of Negroamaro Zinfadel from Puglia at the grocery store. Cost was 3 bottles for £12 or currently, $18.74 – So, about $6.25 for this bottle.

Dont let the price fool you. It was VERY YUMMY. How’s that for snobby description?

I was curious about this varietal. I had never had it, and it reminds me of an industry wine tasting that I attended last week in San Francisco, Uexpected Grapes from Unexpected Places. More to come on that fantastic affair of interesting grapes from all over California. Spoiler alert – I found a US grown Grüner Veltliner!

So, the first thing I did with this Negroamaro Zinfadel was – open the bottle! A screwcap, and if that bothers you – GROW UP. Plenty of good wines come with screw capped bottles these days. And this was no exception.

This is my first blend that includes Negroamaro and I am impressed!
As the name implies, it is definitely black and inky. So much so that it reminds me of a Petit Syrah I had in Napa. (Can’t wait to tell you about that trip, can you tell?)

I would love to show you this color, but my camera is broken!  But isn’t it pretty?

Broken camera – psychedelic wine
Side note – the psychedellic colors made this 15Meg! Its compressed here.

Luckily – or not – my cameraphone does have a second mode, facing towards me and the bottle. It is reversed, funny to see myself reversed horizontally.

Me, and a yummy bottle of Negromaro Zinfadel

I found it had the nice jamminess of Zin, yet the Negromaro gave it a nice spicy balance. I tasted a 2009, and the tannins were soft and it was VERY drinkable. Dark plummy fruits, and lots of berries. I sensed some chocolate, and was so sad I ate my only London chocolate! (its so different here!). The wine  did not change too much after opening. Recommended cellaring is maxed at 2-3 years, but I would not push it.

So, then I researched the wine.  When I learned that Negroamaro is more commonly used in blends with Malvasia Nera, Sangiovese or Montepulciano I was doubly excited. How often would I find this in Pennsylvania? Never! Although there ARE Negroamaros there, that are INEXPENSIVE! Check it! Hmmm…might have to add this to a September tasting in the works…

If you are able to come across this wine, DEFINITELY give it a try. It is an extremely good value.

Negroamaro is pretty much exclusive to the Puglia region of Italy, specifically Salento, which you KNOW where it is. Its the “heel” of Itlay!

Some say the “Maro” portion means “bitter” but others think the translation is from ancient Greek ‘maru’ also meaning black. This wine may have been brought to Italy 7th century BC!

Another thing this wine taught me, is about the “EU vine pull scheme”.
Apparently, the vineyard area for Negroamaro fell from 31000 hectares in 1990 to just under 17000 in 2000.
This was done to reduce the glut of wine and increase the demand.

How rude!

Or maybe it was a good thing. As inexpensive as this very drinkable wine is, it might lead to binge drinking!

If anyone has any favorite places to get wine in London, or Sweden (next week’s trip), please LET ME KNOW! 🙂