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I’m with my wonderful “cousins” and fellow judges, mother-daughter winemakers Diane and Victoria Wilson of Wilson Artisan Wineries. Their boutique winery properties in Sonoma and Mendocino include Wilson Winery, Matrix Winery and Greenwood Ridge. (No, we’re not actually related, but…)

Hi again, my friends – and welcome back to the International Women’s Wine Competition 2017!

It’s almost time for our Sweepstakes Round, when all of our judges (unlike the Day 1 tasting, when we were divided into panels of 3) convene to taste the same wines – all of which have already earned top medals from the various panels – and then, by group vote, we’ll seek out and award the Best of the Best.

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First, though, how about that promised sneak peek at last night’s al fresco Judges’ Dinner at DeLoach Vineyards in Santa Rosa?

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Always elegant herself, Certified Sommelier Ellen Landis enjoys a flute of the elegant JCB sparkling wine.

Winemaker Sherrie Holzer (Castoro Cellars) and wine writer Laura Ness arrive at DeLoach Vineyards. First order of “business”: Bubbly reception on the patio.

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Winemaker Meredith Sarboraria (Crooked Vine, Stony Ridge), holding her glass of JCB bubbles, plays “dueling camera phones” with me.

The JCB sparkling wine that we sipped during our welcome on the patio is named for French-born Jean-Charles Boisset, who acquired DeLoach in 2003, and whose family is prominent in Burgundy and Champagne.

(During our Harvest Challenge wine competition last November, Jean-Charles also generously hosted our wild and wonderful Judges’ Dinner at Buena Vista Winery, another of the Boisset properties.)

When we moved on to dinner under the grape arbor, the DeLoach Chardonnay and Pinot Noir started to flow – just right for the grilled beef tri-tip and chicken.

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Here’s that caprese salad, along with peppery arugula and roasted veggies.

My table overlooked the vegetable beds and the vineyard beyond. How wonderful, and how typical of Wine Country fare, that the tomatoes and herbs in our caprese salad had just been plucked, minutes earlier, from the garden!

Well, my friends – it looks like we won’t get to the Sweepstakes judging in this post after all.

But no worries. The party has been great – and we judges will be ready for action when the Sweepstakes flights are unveiled.

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Ellen and Ken Landis, Shauna Rosenblum, Cory Lester toast to a great party and a job well done!

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Hope you’ve had fun partying at our Judges’ Dinner at DeLoach Vineyards, with “Cousins” Diane and Victoria Wilson, and me, and all our other judges. See you at Sweepstakes!

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Up next: Sweepstakes, when I’ll reveal the big winners (including some *big* surprises!) of the 2017 Women’s International Wine Competition.

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Until then, my friends,
Cheers and happy tastings,
Rosina

PS ~ Want to nab a *free* membership in the fun, interactive Drink Wine With Dinner Club, and get tasty content delivered straight to your Inbox? Just *Click Here* to join instantly!

And as always, please be sure to grab your *free download* of “Rosina’s 5 Non-Rules for Wine and Food Pairing.” It’s the best way I know to help you make the foods *you* love taste even better!

You can also email me at Rosina@DrinkWineWithDinner.com with comments or questions. I look forward to hearing from you!

Cheers once again,
Rosina

My panelmates (Laura Ness and Kerry Cook) and I, halfway through Day 1 of judging. Good thing this isn’t a close-up – my teeth are already purple!

Welcome back, my friends! I hope my last post got your taste buds primed for this year’s International Women’s Wine Competition.

As a quick recap, all of our judges are female wine professionals – educators, sommeliers, writers, winemakers and more – and although the wines we taste can be made by women or men, there is a special, highly coveted award given for the Best Woman Winemaker.

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This flight of Native American red varietals that I’m about to judge includes Noble, Norton and Concord. Earlier, we’d tasted Bordeaux-style red blends.

This year, we were divided into 8 panels of 3, with a coordinator (Hi Joe!) at each table to tabulate our scores.

On Day 1 of our 2-day competition (Day 2 is devoted to the final Sweepstakes Round – more tomorrow!), each panel tastes through a series of pre-assigned “flights” of wines in various categories.

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IWWC President and Founder Debra Del Fiorentino, who also directs several other competitions

We never know exactly what we’re going to get – but thanks to Debra Del Fiorentino, the IWWC’s founder and president, and her savvy team, it’s always an interesting mix of varietals and styles.

For example, not only did my panel get to judge several native American red varietals of the Vitis labrusca species (see photo); we also tasted a number of hybrids of V. labrusca and V. vinifera (traditional European grapes). The labrusca varietals and hybrids, by the way, thrive in the East and Midwest, where cold winters can damage or kill vinifera vines. My fave among them was an unlikely sounding, but deliciously Bordeaux-like blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Marechal Foch and Chancellor.

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Our 8 panels of 3. What a great group (see pic at bottom.) When I first started judging wine, I was one of only a handful (or less) of women in any given competition. Now we have one of our own!

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Winemakers Sherrie Holzer (Castoro Cellars) and Shauna Rosenblum (Rock Wall Wine Company) judge a flight of reds. Notice their spit cups at the ready…

Meanwhile, each of the panels is tasting through its own list of wines – about 150 per panel for our 6-hour day.

Yes, this sounds like a lot to handle (and it it is!), but we have plenty of ways – some obvious, others not so much – of keeping brain fog and palate fatigue at bay.

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Certified Sommelier Cory Lester sniffs a Chardonnay, getting to know its aromas (and getting a smart head start on judging it) before actually tasting the wine.

With that much alcohol slipping past our lips and sloshing around in our mouths, our most essential tool, I would argue, is the all-important SPIT CUP! (Check out the innocuous white paper cups in front of Sherrie and Shauna, and in Cory’s left hand.)

If we didn’t use our trusty spit cups faithfully after swishing all those sips around, we’d be horizontal before lunch! Another obvious line of defense is good ol’ H2O. Every competition provides buckets of bottled water for us – sometimes both plain and sparkling.

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Drinking lots of water while judging helps dilute the alcohol that gets into the bloodstream naturally through the membranes of our mouths. And the plates of “snacks” on our judging tables aren’t just for random noshing. The bread cubes help sop up any small amounts of alcohol that we swallow, and the slices of cheese and rare roast beef, with their high doses of protein and fat, help counter the gritty tannins in big reds such as Cabernet and Syrah.

2017 Women’s International Wine Competition – The Judges!

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Come on back tomorrow for the Sweepstakes Round, when I’ll reveal the big winners of this year’s Women’s International Wine Competition. We’ll also swing by tonight’s big party at DeLoach Vineyards for some sips and nibbles, at the alfresco Judge’s Dinner in the vineyards.

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Until then, my friends,
Cheers and happy tastings,
Rosina

PS ~ Want to nab a *free* membership in the fun, interactive Drink Wine With Dinner Club, and get tasty content delivered straight to your Inbox? Just *Click Here* to join instantly!

And as always, please be sure to grab your *free download* of “Rosina’s 5 Non-Rules for Wine and Food Pairing.” It’s the best way I know to help you make the foods *you* love taste even better!

You can also email me at Rosina@DrinkWineWithDinner.com with comments or questions. I look forward to hearing from you!

Cheers once again,
Rosina

This three-member panel – Monique Soltani, Ellen Landis, Thrace Bromberger – tastes and judges a “flight” of rosés, awarding medals to the worthiest.

Welcome back, my friends – I hope life is treating you well on this summer’s eve!

I’ve just finished packing my overnight bag, and early tomorrow I’ll head up to Sonoma for one of my favorite events of the year: the International Women’s Wine Competition.

 

During the Sweepstakes Round, on Day 2, all of us taste the top-scoring wines from every panel. We raise our hands for each wine that we like to determine “Best Of Class” and “Best of Show.”

For the next day and a half, I’ll be joining two dozen or so colleagues – all female wine professionals – to judge 1,000+ wines from around the world.

Why women only? Because, in the U.S. at least, women buy at least 80% of wine. (Makes sense, considering who brings home most of the groceries!)

 

In the Sweepstakes Round, we’ll taste 30+ “Best of the Best” wines from every panel. Check out all the glasses in front of me (I’ve already worked through the whites!

My fellow judges represent many segments of the wine profession – including winemakers, educators, retailers, writers and more.

During the main event tomorrow, our panels award gold, silver and bronze medals to the most deserving entries. The next day, in the Sweepstakes round, we all taste every panel’s top-scoring wines to choose “Best In Class” and “Best In Show.”

We also honor the top wine made by a female winemaker with a special award. Here’s star winemaker Shauna Rosenblum, in a series of Sweepstakes pix from the archives, when she learns she’s won for one of her marvelous Zinfandels –

 

 

 

 
I’ll be back after the Competition to fill you in on the fun details – to bring you into the “inner sanctum” of the judges’ chambers – and to reveal our winning whites, reds, rosés and sparklers!

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Until then, my friends,
Cheers and happy tastings,
Rosina

PS ~ Want to nab a *free* membership in the fun, interactive Drink Wine With Dinner Club, and get tasty content delivered straight to your Inbox? Just *Click Here* to join instantly!

And as always, please be sure to grab your *free download* of “Rosina’s 5 Non-Rules for Wine and Food Pairing.” It’s the best way I know to help you make the foods *you* love taste even better!

You can also email me at Rosina@DrinkWineWithDinner.com with comments or questions. I look forward to hearing from you!

Cheers once again,
Rosina

Dale Chihuly’s “Red Reeds on Logs,” at the New York Botanical Gardens through October 29th.

Welcome back, my friends – I hope you enjoyed Saturday’s “Eating Italian in New York, Part I” post!

I’ll keep bringing you lots more, with plenty of pix, of course, from my tasty adventures in New York.

Even though I grew up quite close by, and have visited New York dozens of times since then, I hadn’t been to the New York Botanical Gardens since my high school Field Biology field trips.

 

This piece, “Sapphire Star,” when illuminated during nighttime light shows, appears to float in mid-air.

But in my recent week in New York, I managed to get there twice!

The first time was with my wonderful daughter Siri and childhood friend Maria. Other than the gorgeous gardens themselves, the big draw was a major exhibit of Dale Chihuly’s sculpture, with his otherworldly glass pieces prominently displayed throughout the Gardens.

The big ones – some as tall as a two-story building – are installed outdoors, where they somehow both blend into and radiate out from their environment.

 

In the Haupt Conservatory – What’s sculptural glass, what’s a real plant? Gorgeous arrangement!

Chihuly’s smaller pieces interweave with exotic plants, harmonizing elegantly with the colors and shapes of the foliage, especially in the Haupt Conservatory.

The next day, I returned to the Gardens as part of Reunion Weekend, where I reconnected, quite happily, with a few dozen of my Sarah Lawrence College classmates.

 

My classmate Mary and I gravitated to this grouping of giant glass “flowers.”

More on the reunion in my next post – including a special wine tasting, hosted by a fellow SLC alum who owns a winery in Connecticut (!)

And of course, we’ll be back with “Eating Italian in New York, Part II,” plus the promised look at Siri and her thriving boutique, Treehouse Brooklyn.

For now, here are a few more photos of the amazing Chihuly sculptures. The exhibit continues at the NYBG through October 29th –

 

This immense piece, assembled on site, bit by bit, changed colors as the clouds came and went.

 

If it were Christmastime, I might think peppermint candies…

 

A view from below of these incredible Chihuly “flowers” in the Haupt Conservatory.

 

The Conservatory building itself is majestic enough, but…

 

Another Chihuly sphere? Nope – a giant blossom, complete with butterfly. Thanks, Mom Nature!

I hope these pix speak for themselves – and if at all possible, I hope you’re able to enjoy the Chihuly exhibit in person!

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Until next time, my friends,
Cheers and happy tastings,
Rosina

PS ~ Want to nab a *free* membership in the fun, interactive Drink Wine With Dinner Club, and get tasty content delivered straight to your Inbox? Just *Click Here* to join instantly!

And as always, please be sure to grab your *free download* of “Rosina’s 5 Non-Rules for Wine and Food Pairing.” It’s the best way I know to help you make the foods *you* love taste even better!

You can also email me at Rosina@DrinkWineWithDinner.com with comments or questions. I look forward to hearing from you!

Cheers once again,
Rosina

Eating Italian in New York – Part 1!

I landed at Siri’s Brooklyn apartment in late afternoon, just in time for us to tuck into a tasty spread that Siri had ready. Smoked salmon. Spicy salame. My favorite, authentic smoked mozzarella – and lovely bubbles to wash everything down.

Welcome back, my friends – I hope life is treating you well!

I’ve just returned from a whirlwind week in New York, making up for lost time since my last visit.

Naturally, I spent most of my stay with my wonderful daughter Siri. I also managed to get together with my childhood friend Maria and several cousins, and visit my alma mater, Sarah Lawrence College (just north of New York City) for a class reunion.

 

Cin cin! Toasting our mother-daughter reunion with vintage Gruet sparkling rosé. Perfect!

I’ll be patching in some quick, fun posts about various and sundry doings in and near the Big Apple – including a phenomenal indoor/outdoor glass-sculpture exhibit by Dale Chihuly at the New York Botanical Garden – in the next days and weeks.

I’ll also bring you a post about Siri’s cool boutique, Treehouse Brooklyn.

 

Even Siri’s Maine Coon kitty Lucky gets into the act at our luxurious snack table. (See the big boy on the right?) Enjoy your kitty treats, Lucky!)

(Click to see her gorgeous hand-crafted “Sirius Lux” jewelry and her “Big Fun Thing” line of comfy, eco-friendly clothing).

For now, though, I’d like to share with you some of my food cravings, which I like to feed during every visit.

 

 

Emily’s Pork Store (aka Jerry’s) makes immense sandwiches stuffed with cold cuts, cheeses, marinated mushrooms, artichokes, hot and/or sweet roast peppers… My mouth is watering!

I told Siri that I’d been longing for some of her local pizza, and for a sandwich from the “pork store” next to Treehouse.

Williamsburg, the Brooklyn district where she lives, features many different ethnic neighborhoods,from Dominican to Polish to Hassidic, happily cheek by jowl alongside each other.

 

Just look at those fat sausages and chubby orbs of cheese. Reminds me of my childhood!!

But the 8-block stretch of Graham Avenue between her apartment and Treehouse is strictly Italian – so much so that it goes by the alternate name of “Via Vespucci.”

So, what’s a pork store? (Every Italian neighborhood seems to have at least one.) Better to show than tell, actually.

 

What a sandwich – prosciutto, capicolla (aka gabagool’ if you’re Napoletano), roast peppers, mozzarella, olive oil and balsamic. Plus tangy-sweet Castelvetrano olives and nice, crisp Sauvignon Blanc from Clos du Bois. Perfect!

Check out these dried sausages and cheeses, hanging from hooks throughout, ready to be carved into thick, sumptuous sammies.

I’ll leave you with this irresistible pic – my idea of the perfect Jerry’s sandwich.

Maybe this week I’ll roast up some peppers myself, lay in some mozzarella, thin-sliced prosciutto and great bread, and try to come close….

Wish me luck!

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Until next time, my friends,
Cheers and happy tastings,
Rosina

PS ~ Want to nab a *free* membership in the fun, interactive Drink Wine With Dinner Club, and get tasty content delivered straight to your Inbox? Just *Click Here* to join instantly!

And as always, please be sure to grab your *free download* of “Rosina’s 5 Non-Rules for Wine and Food Pairing.” It’s the best way I know to help you make the foods *you* love taste even better!

You can also email me at Rosina@DrinkWineWithDinner.com with comments or questions. I look forward to hearing from you!

Cheers once again,
Rosina