Dec 26, 2014

#WW Odonata 2013 River Skimmer

We can he here the quizzical question now. A white Rhone style wine from Santa Clara County, produced and bottled in Santa Cruz and purchased at the tasting room in Monterey County. Who made this wine you ask? It is made by Denis Hoey of Odonata Wines. Denis blends old world methods with new world technique to make engaging wines and this little cracker is no exception.
After a glass or two one hot Friday afternoon at the Santa Cruz location and a subsequent taste that same weekend at the Odonata south location on River Rd  a bottle was purchased. With a light honeysuckle, citrus and floral nose and with honeydew melon and a hint of stone fruit on the palate it has a round mouth-feel with a subtle mineral backbone with a lite acid finnish.

The 2013 River Skimmer 55%  Viognier, 35% Marsanne and 10%  Grenache Blanc and at $20 is simply a killer wine value.

This great little WW would make a nice companion to grilled or seasoned chicken steamed veggies and rice pilaf and a range of asian style food. Went great with our Chinese food dinner. A **** wine we give a 6+.

Go by either Odonata North or Odonata South and get a taste of Denis's wine and find your next WW.

Happy Wine Adventures,

Kiwi & Koala

Dec 21, 2014

Why you should order wine online!

Who among you has ordered wine online?

We have, but we typically are ordering something specific that we have had before, know well and like the deal we found online.

While we love the hunt and visiting the tasting rooms and cellar doors, there is no doubt that getting access to wines that are outside your normal tasting range is priceless. Being able to taste the world with the click of a button is too good to pass up. Get your group to once a month have a tasting from somewhere else in the world by having it delivered to your door!

One online resource that is full of great deals is

They recently hooked us up with some bottles to taste and review to give you an example of just whats available and what a great balance of price and quality they have.

The message we received was 'We have sent you a few bottles to try'. Given this challenge we pulled out all the stops and and gathered around the tasting table with actual real glassware and pens and tasting note sheets and even waited for Somm Dave to join us with his educated palate to keep us in line. 

We tasted the wine by itself, with nibbles and with our meal to get a broad impression. 

White Blend from Italy
Sieano Bianco - A pretty bright straw colored medium - light body wine with honeysuckle, cut grass, pear and apricot on the nose and some nice melon, pineapple and grapefruit and citrus fruit flavors and a soft acidic finish this nicely balanced wine is a winner at **** and a solid 6 that we all enjoyed. Think arugula / Grapefruit salad and shrimp / pineapple skewers as well as many summer style foods.
wine bottle label

Nero d'Avola from Sicily, Italy
Siciliana Nero - A bright garnet color with a light medium nose of red and blue fruits with a noticeable floral quality. As you taste the flavors of bing cherry and blue berry as well as some raspberry and plum. This light to medium body well integrated wine is a nice easy drinker with soft tannins and nice finish that embraces its typical Italian heritage. At **** and a 6 this is a fun go to for some Italian flavor at a bargain price. Great for midweek dinner of flank steak or grilled chicken.

Merlot from Tuscany, Italy
Baracchi Merlot - This is a MERLOT... Quite big and bold red garnet colored with black currant, blackberry and raspberry as well as some tobacco and cigar box on the nose. The black currant and plum fruit scuffle for position with the earthy medium plus body that has a strong tannin presence that asked to go head to head with food. At *** and a 7 this is a take to dinner wine that could benefit from a littl decant. Big meals like lamb shank, Pork belly or ribeye with Mushrooms will love being in the company of this solid drinking Merlot. Now this is a Merlot worth pulling the cork on.

Two of these wines are nice drinking great value wines that bring Italy to your home. The third is a bigger more complex wine looking to hook up with some big food and to go to dinner at friends or at your favorite restaurant. This was a lovely sample of what is available a . Just based on this small sample we are very encouraged to go look at some other regions and see whats available to expand our wine world. So get online and order a couple for a friend or for yourself to share with friends and have some fun exploring the world one online wine order at a time. We recommend you do.

Happy Online Wine Adventures,


Kiwi & Koala

Dec 17, 2014

Corkage, WTF!

It’s easy to get your knickers all in a knot over paying all that money (Wasting The Finances), for some waiter or waitress, to open your bottle of wine. Look, it only takes a second to open and you carried it in! Stone the crows, are they bloody kidding! $20-30 dollars to open a bottle! They even have the stones to charge by the standard bottle for magnums etc. That is two corkage fees for a single magnum! It’s the same principal for larger format bottles as well. Someone has a couple of roo’s loose in the upper paddock. 

Or do they?  First off BYOB is not legal all over the globe. Do your homework first and know the laws in your area. For those places where it is legal the welcoming  smile or the scowl of bringing your own bottle will vary depending on where you are. That being said, in California it is legal and generally well accepted, with the aforementioned corkage fees. So how much is too much? Is any amount too much? Well, here are some thoughts on the subject.
Most restaurants are a small margin business and as such are always looking for a way to keep that margin. That way they will be around the next time you want to eat out. Let’s face it, you are using the establishment’s stemware and the staff time to clean it, deliver it fill it after uncorking or unscrewing your bottle. The disposal of your bottle, the replacement of the broken stemware and the investment in the special wine glass washer, are all a factor, and when added up is not insignificant. Now before you think we went to the other side read on!

Look, our personal beef is not with the basic corkage fee, but the multiplying of that fee for large format bottles. So restaurants take note! We at WineWalkabout propose that a magnum, instead of 2 times corkage should be perhaps 1.5 times. A Jeroboam instead of 4 times corkage fee perhaps 2 times the standard corkage. You get the picture. It’s not like they are changing out the stemware (like they should be) as if you have multiple bottles of different wine. We think this strikes a balance that meets the needs of the Restaurant and their valued customers.

The purchase price of wine at a well stocked Restaurant is also up for discussion, but for now we will stick to discussing corkage. Your other choice is to just purchase from the wine list. Now typically at 2 -2.5 times the normal retail sale price that takes your average $40 bottle of wine to $80 -$100. Corkage added on to your $40 bottle now makes it $60. Do your own math on the savings. Now it’s not always convenient to bring your own so on the occasions you do, just remember that for the next bottle purchased at the restaurant, you can apply that savings and it all averages out.
It’s always a smooth move to ask if the wine person / sommelier person would like to try your (fine) wine.  That can sometimes result in a diminished or non-existent corkage fee, worth a shot right, and all it cost you was a couple of ounces and a smile.

Another reason to BYO sometimes is the plain and simple truth that good restaurant chefs cook better meals than we do. At least in our case the best meals deserve the best wine and a trained chef preparing a fine meal at a lovely restaurant screams bring a good bottle or two. There are times when we want to be able to enjoy our special (and not let them die) bottles of wine with good food / friends and therefore, occasionally to pair our great wine with their great food.

Happy wine adventures



Dec 14, 2014

6 Tried and True Wine Pairings for Traditional Foods

When you think about pairing wine with your food, you might think about fancy cheeses or gourmet meals. Although wine is obviously very complementary to these things, you can still pair wine with your favorite every day, traditional foods.

1. Salty Snacks with Champagne

If you love munching on salty snacks, such as salted peanuts, chips or pretzels, then you should consider pairing them with a nice, bubbly champagne. For some reason, the slight sweetness and fizzy flavor and consistency of champagne seems to go great with the salt in these popular snacks.

2. If the Meat or Sauce is White, Serve it With White Wine

Who says that you have to serve white wine with fancy meals? Instead, pair it with any white meat, such as fish or chicken, or any white sauce-based meal, such as an Alfredo dish. Even if you're making a casual skillet dinner during the week, your favorite white wine can wake it up a notch.

3. Serve Red Wine with Red Meat

If you are serving red meat, such as steak or a cheeseburger, then you should enjoy a glass of red wine with it. Even if you're having something basic, such as a burger that you made on the grill during an outside summer party, a glass of tart red wine can be the perfect complement.

4. Pair a Dry Red Wine with Cheese

Whether you're serving a cheese platter or a cheese-based dish, a dry red wine will go great with it. Even if you aren't going fancy with a nice cheese platter, you can serve your dry red wine with a grilled cheese sandwich or another basic cheese-based dish. Regardless, you're sure to enjoy the way that the wine pairs with the cheese.

5. Serve a Sweet Wine with Anything Sweet

If you are serving a sweet dessert, make sure that the wine that you serve is even sweeter. Even if you're just enjoying a nice dessert at home, such as a bowl of ice cream before you go to bed, a glass of sweet wine can pair very nicely with it.

6. Serve Dry Wine with Dark Chocolate

If you're munching on a nice, dark chocolate, then try pairing it with a dry red wine. The pairing is rich and decadent, and it tastes great.

As you can see, you can pair wine with all of your favorite foods, even if they are rather traditional. Try these tips, and your wine and meal pairing is sure to be perfect.

Guest post provided by special guest Crystalizeonline.

Happy Wine Adventures,

Kiwi & Koala

Dec 7, 2014

Big Sur Food and Wine Grand Public Tasting 2014

On Saturday November 7th we were promised 50+ wineries and over 20 chefs at the Pfeiffer State Park in the majestic Big Sur for the 6th annual Big Sur Food and Wine Festival. With our personal invites most likely lost in the mail we had to purchase our own tickets. With a lot of the events sold out a decision was made to go to the Grand Public Tasting and Silent Auction and as a shift from our normal mode of transportation get a couple tickets on the shuttle bus from Carmel Rancho.

Come to find out the shuttle was to leave at 11am. We had no idea and re looked at all our correspondence, tickets and emails and found no reference to this. We had planned to be there at 11 but extremely heavy traffic on Hwy 1 made us 15 min late. Luckily we were not too late and there were others that were later. We left at 11:30 and arrived 10min after 12 but the entry line was almost gone and we were whisked right in. It wa a comfortable ride with some spectacular views of the spectacular Big Sur Coast.

Upon entry we were given a glass and a program that listed what we were at and all the things we missed. Maybe next year. It was a lovely warm day that was just perfect for tasting wine and food in a spectacular setting amongst the redwoods and sycamores.

So first off were there 50+ wineries? Maybe... Started to count but decided to taste instead. There were a lot and probably close enough that no one should care. Not sure there were 20 chefs and there was a line for food most of the afternoon.

At least at the good stuff as long as it lasted. The crowd was what you would expect but never too crowded and with few exceptions no more than a few seconds wait for a taste, although for the ribs it was a good five minutes.

There were top notch wines from Napa, Santa Barbara and Paso Robles as well as Monterey. A solid collection of wines for the novice to the experienced. A little odd tasting to the sounds of Brazilian carnival beats from Samba Le'Gal but all in all a crackin day that we quite enjoyed and gives us reason to probably attend again next year.

The bus ride back to Carmel was a bit on the fraternity side, with two stops for young ladies (using that term to avoid using the one we want) to pee on the side of the road and two for one of those and a couple others to vie for chunder champ of the trip. We will probably look for a more private mode of transportation next year. Just saying...

From what we gathered from some folks we talked to the other events all seemed to be very much enjoyed, and so next year we will be looking to expand our presence and tell you more about more of this event. For the event we attended this year we would 'recommend' you go next time and check it out.

Happy Wine Adventures,


Kiwi & Koala