Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A Halloween Wine Tasting: Pairing Wine with Candy

Everyone knows that wine pairs well with chocolate, so this Halloween as you’re enjoying a glass of your favorite vintage, why not sip it while nibbling on a few of those miniature candy bars? In fact, why not grab a few bottles of wine from your Paso Robles Wine Club shipment—or your cellar—call a few friends over, raid the Halloween candy and have a Trick or Treat style wine tasting?

It may sound unconventional, but many of those same flavor profiles that you taste in candy are the same ones that can be found in wine. Ready to give your taste buds a treat? Here’s few pairings to try:

Pinot: With underlying characteristics of wild herbs and fennel, Pinot can pair well with red licorice and Allsorts.

Merlot: Grab a few handfuls of the ever popular M&Ms®, Snickers® and KitKats® and open a bottle of your favorite Merlot. The earthiness of the nuts and chocolate are the perfect match for Merlot’s big berry, fruit forward profile and the soft tanins will play expertly with the chocolate.

Port: If your middle name is Butterfinger®, then enjoy this classic while sipping on a port for a real treat.

Chardonnay: The workhorse of a Halloween tasting, Chardonnay’s caramel and vanilla notes go well with everything from Bit of Honey® to candy corn, caramels and butterscotch. For a little extra fun, open a bag of Jolly Ranchers® and enjoy a few tropical flavors with your wine.

Bubbles: What’s a Halloween party without a little fun? Your tasting crew will think you’re trying to pull a fast one when you pull out a bottle of bubbles—Champagne, Cava, Proseco—and set out a bowl of Sweet Tarts®, Sour Patch Kids® and Smarties®, but they’ll be quick to get onboard once they experience what a few bubbles can do for sweet and sour candies.

Have a little fun this Halloween by pulling out all the stops and hosting a Halloween wine tasting party. By mixing your favorite wines from your Paso Robles Wine Club shipment, along with classic Halloween treats you’ll astound your friends and family. Oh, and costumes are optional.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Eberle: The Spark that Ignited a Region

It’s impossible to talk about the Paso Robles Wine Region without bringing Gary Eberle into the conversation. Often referred to as “The Godfather” of the Paso Robles AVA, Eberle was a graduate student at LSU studying cellular genetics when a deepening interest in wine made him switch career paths and head west to California. He promptly enrolled at UC Davis and in 1971, graduated with a degree in Enology.

After graduation, he headed down to the California Central Coast. What he saw here was the perfect place to grow fruit and along with his two brother-in-laws, he established Estrella River Winery and Vineyards. But like any pioneer, he had his own vision and soon after, Eberle bought 64 acres just down the road and set off to make great wine.

That Gary Eberle is a great wine maker goes without saying, but his legacy is even more profound in that he influenced a generation of winemakers and set the standards for Central Coast Wines, arguably, even putting the Paso Robles AVA on the map.

 Much has changed over the last 30 plus years since Gary Eberle arrived in Paso Robles. At first, he was one of only a handful of wineries and vineyards in the area, but now he keeps company with almost 200 others with a similar vision.

What hasn’t changed is Gary Eberle’s commitment to making the best wines—which consistently score high—or the hospitality at Eberle Winery. Guests can enjoy a complimentary tour of the production facilities and the wine caves (over 16,000 square feet to explore) before or after wine tasting, or take part in a wide variety of seasonal events, including Harvest celebrations, winemaker dinners and even a Halloween ‘spookiest caves’ tour.

To enjoy the fun and meet Gary Eberle for yourself, book a wine tasting tour with The Wine Wrangler. In the meantime, by joining The Paso Robles Wine Club, you can sample a variety of wines made in the Paso Robles AVA.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Words to Sip By

Wine tasting is an intellectual activity. When drinking wine, the palate and the nose—along with the other senses—are working in conjunction with the brain. At The Paso Robles Wine Club, we understand that our Wine Club Members enjoy more than just drinking wine from the Paso Robles AVA—they like learning about it as well. We’ve gone through our bookshelves and hand-picked a few of our favorite books about the area to share with you.

So, pour yourself a glass, get comfortable in your favorite chair, and settle in to read one of these books:

Paso Robles, California, 1930-1950: When Highway 101 Ran Through My Hometown: Author Clifford Tucker writes a first-person account of the people and places that made Paso Robles a perfect stopping spot for people traveling between San Francisco and Los Angles.

Paso Robles (Images of America): An abundance of hot mineral springs brought those from far and near to Paso Robles and that first wave of tourism ushered in an industry of hotels and bathhouses. Authors Andrea H. Hobbs and Milene F. Radford recount the historic details of the early days of life in Paso Robles.

The New Wine Country Cookbook: Recipes from California’s Central Coast: Brigit Binns captures the spirit of the Central Coast with recipes that incorporate local ingredients, including real winners like Feta stuffed chicken thighs with white wine and olives and Radicchio and Monterey Jack Quesadillas with fig salsa. There’s also a section on pairing food with local wines.  We would be happy to send this book to you, just email us for more information at

My Nepenthe: If you’ve been on The Wine Wrangler’s Big Sur Trip, then you know all about Nepenthe—the historic restaurant and bar perched along the Big Sur coastline—but this book provides a behind the scenes look into the days when Big Sur was an outpost for the likes of Jack Kerouac and other beats. Not to mention, the recipes and photographs are spectacular.

Before you settle into your favorite comfortable chair with a good read, don’t forget that a membership in The Paso Robles Wine Club will give you the opportunity to add to your Paso Robles wine library without ever leaving home—of course, if you do decide to venture out, give us a call and we’ll take you wine tasting—and point out our local history on the drive.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Fall in the Vineyards

If you’re lucky enough to be out wine tasting in Paso Robles during Harvest Weekend, it’s hard not to notice the vineyards are awash in color as the leaves turn those magnificent colors of fall—deep burgundy, burnished gold and rust. Eventually, as the season wanes, the stark vines will announce the arrival of winter.

It may be pretty evident that the seasons are changing, but if you’re like many of our Paso Robles Wine Club members you’ve probably wondered what really goes on in the vineyard during fall. If so, then read on:

The Ripening: Depending on the climate, the direction the vineyard and the vines face and the varietal, grapes can ripen anywhere from August through September, but when they’re picked depends on many things, including the type of wine that’s being made.

As the grapes ripen, their skins change in color, (a process known as verasion) with hues varying from greenish yellow to red, purple and even black. The grapes also soften and their sugar content increases while their acidity levels decrease. The increased sweetness imparts the grapes with more fruit flavors while lessening any vegetable characteristics.

The Picking: There’s no one way to pick grapes. Some vineyards use machines to pick, starting at one end of the vineyard and moving lot by lot unit all the fruit is picked, while others utilize the skill of human grape pickers—these pickers are usually people who are so adept at picking that they can assess the ripeness of the grapes with the tips of their fingers without ever losing speed.

The picking method affects the final product since the machines pull everything—leaves and stems—along with the fruit. The leaves and the stems can impart a harshness to the finished product.

The Crush: Once the grapes have been picked, the speed and intensity of Harvest kicks into full gear. Behind the scenes is a cadre of individuals who do everything from sorting and processing the grapes to crushing them and getting them into tanks.

Finally, it’s important to remember that behind every label, wine is an agricultural product and the wine making process is all about controlled fermentation. Without the necessary speed and intensity, the grapes would spoil—and that would be a waste of money and time.

So, why not see it for yourself and spend Harvest Weekend wine tasting throughout the Paso Robles AVA?

Touring with The Wine Wrangler will put you in the middle of the festivities, where you can take part in over 140 activities and events put on by local wineries, including: wine maker dinners, tours, food and wine pairings—even a chance to stomp the grapes. And, while you’re enjoying the fun, don’t forget to keep your eyes open so you can see for yourself the vineyard crews hard at work so they can bring their wines to you.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

A Perfect Toast: Choosing the Right Glassware

It seems the simplest of acts: open a bottle of wine and pour it into a glass. But as for anyone who has ever been on the receiving end of being served a fine wine in a plastic cup or chunky tumbler, choosing the right glassware does make a difference. 

As a member of the Paso Robles Wine Club, your regular wine shipments will include a mix of both white and red wines—unless you specify otherwise. To really savor and enjoy the wines, you should invest in the appropriate glassware.

Here are a few general principles to keep in mind when selecting glassware:

Size Matters:  You don’t need to buy a specific glass for every varietal, but you should have 2 sizes available: a larger, balloon shaped glass for red wines and a smaller glass for white wines.  As for volume, a wine glass should hold between 10 and 18 ounces—this size works well for both tastings and for serving wine along with a meal.

Go for Transparency: Painted and etched glassware is beautiful and can be so well rendered that it could pass for artwork, but when it comes to wine, you want glasses that are clear. We ‘taste’ wine with all of our senses and the sense of sight is one of the most important—a clear vessel gives you the opportunity to analyze a wine by its color and viscosity.

Going Stemless: Wine was traditionally served in stemmed glassware so that the warmth of one’s hands wouldn’t interfere with the appropriate serving temperature, but stemless wine glasses have grown in popularity, so it’s really a personal decision.

Choosing the appropriate glassware in which to serve wine is just as important as choosing the right wine to pour. To increase the pleasurable sensory aspects of enjoying a good wine, take the time to choose the right glasses so that you can delight in both the aromatic and visual aspects of wine.