International Sauvignon Blanc Day Game Changer: Whitehaven Sauvignon Blanc

He told me it would change my life. And that sounded good. To celebrate International Sauvignon Blanc Day I was looking for something crisp, expressive and a little different from the Sauvs I’d enjoyed in the past.

When I first walked into Royal Park Fine Wines in Strongsville, Sommelier George Zaboura listened carefully to the basic flavor profile I was looking for, then immediately took me over to the 2018 Whitehaven from Marlborough, NZ. “It will change your life.”, he said. And hey, if my life can be changed for under $20, I’m in!

The general profile of Sauvignon Blanc is dominated by a fruity, fresh quality with aromas of green fruit, and vegetables like green bell pepper and asparagus. The classic New Zealand Sauv style is dry, high acid, no oak, and zesty flavors of passion fruit, gooseberry, green pepper, and black currant leaf. The herbaceous qualities can be a deal breaker for some who prefer their white wines to be a festival of fruit. Yet the green features can make these wines that much more interesting to drink, and to pair with food.

This wine was incredible! Zesty essences of grapefruit and passion fruit wafted up from the first pour into the glass. Its high acidity was crisp and refreshing and made it bouncy on the tongue. Flavors of tangy white peach, black currant, and the gentle kick of green pepper made this delightful. It was a great expression of the style.

Most Sauvs are best enjoyed young, although this can be cellared for three to five years to bring out more of the asparagus quality of gently aged Sauvs.

Suggested pairings:

  • Summer salads
  • Chicken
  • Lobster
  • White fish

At a price point of $17.99, this Sauvignon Blanc did change my life in a big way. This is now my go-to white wine for the Summer of ’19.

George was right!


©️Copyright TheWineStudent, 2019


Get Lit This Holiday: Wine Nog, and Boozy Glogg

Bells will be ringing, snowflakes will swirl; the holidays are fun, until you hurl.

Such sweet poetry… yep, I’m full of it. Poetry, that is…

Remember my old rule, when I write a bad pun or rhyme – take a sip. So take a sip. Maybe two.

Each holiday, I’ve written about various wines with which to toast the season. This year, I wanted to mix it up a little by making my own wine concoctions. I did not invent these recipes, but I wanted to try them because I’m feeling creative. And using a cork screw in artful ways just didn’t satisfy my creative thirst.

But first, a little winter’s tale of nog for you – gather round.

It was a cold Christmas eve, the snow crisp and deep, and even. With everyone at home with their treasures, and few creatures stirring, HubbyDoug realized that he’d forgotten to buy his traditional carton of nog! What now?? Donning his best Maple Leafs toque (beanie), and jacket he dashed out to find the frost was indeed cruel; no open stores. Bah! When what to his wondering eyes should appear, a lone open gas station, oh dear, oh dear! And, yes kids, it had one remaining carton of the nog he craved; as if it was there just for him.

Now, what could possibly go wrong by drinking gas station egg nog, you ask? Well, my friends, it wasn’t just the frost that was cruel that night…

Lesson learned: Always. Check. Expiry. Dates. Even at Christmas.

My nog will be different. It will be delightful! It will be tasty! It will be fresh! It will have wine! And it will be served within a day of making it!

Two of the most consumed traditional favorites are Egg Nog, and Glögg. Egg nog is, well, egg nog; delicate eggy goodness with nutmeg and cinnamon. And Glögg? You’ll see in a bit.

Use Your Noggin’

While my nog has white wine, the only stipulation is that it be a dry white. So many possibilities, but also the chance of a swing and a miss; too dry or savoury and it upsets the delicate balance. Too sweet and you may need to go to the ER. What to do??

I looked at the general flavor profiles of a couple of white varietals and narrowed the field down from there. While I love Sauv Blanc, the herbaceous profile suggests it might be too pungent: flavors of green fruit and vegetables such as gooseberry, green bell pepper, grass, and sometimes nettle. Using wines with great complexity of flavors is, honestly, a waste since the star attraction is really the nog, not the wine. So go for an inexpensive wine that has a higher acidity (to cut some of the nog’s creamy heaviness). An affordable Pinot Gris might be a good bet since its style can range from dry, off- dry, medium to sweet, and flavors include spicy tropical fruits, hints of honey and nuttiness, depending on the region.

I chose a 2016 Chateau St. Michelle, from Columbia Valley, Washington, with flavors of pear, melon and a whisper of spice.

Christmas Egg Nog:

Serves 10

2 egg whites

1/2 bottle white wine

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice 1/2 tablespoon lemon zest 1/2 cup honey

3 cups milk

1/2 quart half and half nutmeg

Place egg whites in a clean bowl and beat with hand mixer until stiff. Set aside.

In a large saucepan, combine white wine, lemon juice, lemon zest, and honey over medium heat. Stir until mixture is warm, then slowly add the milk and half and half while continuing to stir.

Stir over medium heat until mixture is frothy. Remove from heat. Fold in beaten egg whites, then pour mixture into individual glasses or mugs.

Sprinkle with nutmeg.

Serve immediately.



Glögg, on the other hand, has been described as the Long Island Ice Tea of mulled wine. There is a lot of booze in this, and really packs a punch, so better make sure you have Uber lined up if you’re drinking this during the annual open house crawl. Just reading the ingredient list will show you just how much booze is in this. It’s crazy.

Keep in mind, this serves 4.

1 750 bottle dry red wine

1 cup white rum

1 cup bourbon (getting tipsy)

1/2 cup brandy (hello I’m now drunk)

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup dark raisins

1/4 cup raw almonds (no skins)

1 entire orange peel

1 cinnamon stick 1/4 teaspoon whole cloves 5 cardamom pods

1 breathalyzer

In large saucepan over medium-low heat, combine all of the ingredients. ( Do not use an aluminum or copper pot because the metal can give the Glogg a metallic taste.)

Allow it to warm until small bubbles form along the edges of the pot. Make sure the mixture doesn’t boil as this decreases the alcohol content. And we don’t want that!

Carefully strain the raisins and almonds out of the liquid.

Now, nestle yourself in a chair or sofa because you may be there a while and … enjoy!

Whether you have a fully stocked wine cellar ready to go, or are trying a different take with wine based holiday drink, have yourself a merry little Christmas, let your heart be light.

Be safe, be kind, and be good for goodness sake. Apparently, he sees you when you’re sleeping.


Copyright ©️TheWineStudent, 2018

Dine & Dashe 🍷😊🍷


The perfect ending to a spectacular Monday here in the Cleve (a sunny day right now is always cause for celebrating), my friends, Shelly, Lisa and I attended the February wine dinner at Sarita in Lakewood, OH.

Featuring wines from Dashe Cellars, and presented by Whitney from Vanguard Wines, our evening began with Shrimp Madagascar paired with a 2015 Grenache Blanc. Cool climates and higher elevation help to cultivate this rare varietal. On the nose it made me think of a honey bun; bearing a subtle sweet bread-y scent. The main flavor we tasted was honey but because it was a dry wine, it wasn’t a cloying sweetness. The balanced acidity cut gently into the cream sauce of the shrimp dish.

My favorite wine of the night was the 2016 Chenin Blanc “Black Bart Cuvee”. This wine gets its name, Black Bart, not from the vineyard where it’s grown but the 500 gallon concrete ‘egg’ vessel in which it’s fermented. Concrete helps to highlight the mineral quality of the grapes, and helps to keep the lively freshness. After harvest, the grapes are pressed and fermented four weeks until the desired dryness is realized. This was paired with Scallop Crudo w/ pink grapefruit, avocado and malagueta honey that provided a sweet heat that was incredibly delicious with this wine.

Since 1996, Dashe Cellars, a family-owned winery, has operated in the urban location near Jack London Square in Oakland, CA. Going against convention, and with the conviction that outstanding wines could be found outside the traditional wine route parameter, they use natural winemaking techniques including: small lot fermentation, using indigenous yeasts, and little to no fining/ filtration.

Michael Dashe oversees the harvest and winemaking, and partners with small (including some organic-certified) growers in Mendocino and Sonoma counties to name a few. Working together, they try to achieve a balance of steep hillside vineyards, old vines, and vigor-reduced growing conditions. Steep hillsides force the grapes to struggle a bit and exposes them to better balance of sun, heat and cooling temperatures. Lower yields increase the quality and complexity of the wine. Struggle makes even grapes stronger!

As our evening progressed, we sampled Carignana (similar to Pinot Noir) with braised duck and goat cheese grits; fettuccine, bbq braised ribs (paired with two beloved Zinfandels), and finished it off sampling a selection of dark chocolate truffles and cheeses with a 2014 Late Harvest Zinfandel.

The next wine dinner takes place in April, and I’m really looking forward to experiencing a great selection of different wines, and what Chef Tony Romano will come up with next!



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©The Wine Student, 2018

The Thankful Heart

Emerson once wrote, “Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously.” It’s something I try to do in my daily life but it’s not always easy, especially with running here and there getting things ready for the official start to holiday season.

I think that’s what is nice about opening a bottle of wine; time slows for a second when you open the bottle, pour a glass for yourself and those you’re with. You take a moment, think of a little toast (no matter how profound or cheesy) and then take that first sip together. It’s a nice ritual.

After tasting some wines at the annual Heinen’s Holiday Wine Tasting, here a few of my picks to enhance your holiday ritual! 🥂

And, yes, I will happily share my bottle of Papillon with dessert!

Cultivating the habit of gratitude and thankfulness is easy this time of year. And it’s a good thing to remember beyond the holidays.

I am truly thankful for my family, my friends and to all of you who stop by and check out my blog. ☺️

I hope you all have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving! 🍷🦃❤️

Cheers! 🍾🥂

Field Trip: Wine Dining with Orin Swift Wines


This wine event at Bar Cento in Ohio City couldn’t have fallen on a better night. It was the perfect antidote to the cold November rain that was making me feel dark and drab.

This wine pairing, presented by Chris Victor, National Account Manager for E&J Gallo, and Superior Beverage of Cleveland paired three wonderful wines from the cellars of Orin Swift with an amazing three course menu created by Chef Sean Conroy.

Our first pairing was a 2015 Mannequin Chardonnay with the Amuse Bouche of fall veggies featuring acorn squash, red beet, sweet potato, sultana and Brussels sprouts. The Chardonnay tasted of ripe white peach, jasmine with a nice acidity that was softened bu the creaminess of the food and the sweet of the sultana. We continued with the Chardonnay into the 1st course of halibut, pumpkin, saffron, pine nut, and golden sage. The delicate flavor of the halibut with saffron sauce was nicely balanced with the bright citrusy vibe of the wine.

Next up was the 2015 Papillon Bordeaux Blend that paired well with our 2nd course that included lamb rack, mustard greens, merguez, and eggplant. Yummy! The flavours of ripe blackberry, dark cherry and subtle tannin played beautifully with the mustard greens and horseradish eggplant, coaxing out a flavourful bite spice in the wine.

Our final course was Clafoutis: a baked flan-like dessert of brandied cherries, fresh fig, and DiSaronno Amaretto. Paired with the 2014 Palermo Cabernet Sauvignon, it provided and unexpected, amazing surprise of the evening; I’ve never enjoyed a Cab with dessert before. I’d always thought they were too heavy. But the silky combination of blackberry and cassis didn’t overpower the delicate, flavourful dessert, it enhanced the richness of the cherries and Amaretto. I had always thought that in pairing wine and dessert the rule was sweet for sweet. This pairing proved that rules were made to be broken.

As the evening came to a close, our group’s discussion turned to the 2014 Mercury Head Cabernet Sauvignon and as luck would have it, we were treated to a small sample. Outstanding!

Sometimes, even in the darkest, rainiest night, a little light can shine in: great friends, great food and some amazing wines. And if you’re really lucky, you can find all three in one place.

Cheers! 🍷

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©TheWine Student, 2017


Feel Good Friday: House of Wine Cards

I see your Petit Syrah… and I raise you a Sémillon! I got these cards as a gift and they’re really cool.


Created by Inkstone Design, you can learn about 52 red (or white) grape varietals, the wines they become, and even about foods that pair with each one.


Like flash cards you can play poker with, they’re a fun way to understand a little more about the grapes that end up in your glass.


Got any Cinsault 4’s?? Go fish!!


Cheers! 🍷

©TheWineStudent, 2017

I Want Candy! 

It’s too damn hot for Malbec Monday. After breaking a sweat from the minute I started out today, I wasn’t keen on drinking something that would make me ferment any more. So I opted to try a blend that’s not only new to me but it’s chilled! Even better. 

I won this 2015 Pillitteri Gerwürztraminer | Riesling at a charity golf tournament his past weekend and today, nestled there, chilling in my fridge, it looked so sweet it made my mouth water. 

Normally, I’m not a fan of really sweet wine, and I thought the addition of Riesling might tip the scales from medium dry to cloying. But this wine surprised me with a delicate hint of candied rose on the nose, and subtle flavours of orange blossom and white stone fruit (peach) on the palate. This is a light to medium body wine with very refreshing acidity. All of the flavours were nicely balanced, and it would pair nicely with slightly spicy pork and grilled strawberries. Yum!

Gerwürztraminer is a variety that typically produces beautifully perfumed whites and can range from dry, off dry and fuller bodied, high alcohol and lower acidity. In combination with Riesling’s higher acidity, this wine might be able to be aged a little longer, developing lush honey and nut aromas. 

On a scorcher like today,  it had everything I desire; setting the summer sun on fire. 😉