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Aug 01,

2017

5 Tips To Host A Wine Tasting Party

Everyone loves wine, and everyone loves a party, so why not combine the two? Here are our top five tips to guarantee a successful wine tasting party.

 

1. Pick a Theme

Focus in on what you are trying to do. Of course, everyone wants to have fun, but are you trying to learn about a specific region? Determine the best food pairing? Find the perfect bottle at your local wine shop? This will help determine what wines your partygoers need to bring.

Variety

Have everyone bring a bottle of the same varietal, but from different regions. For example, compare Dry Creek Valley Cabernet Sauvignon with its counterpart from Napa, Central Coast, Washington or Bordeaux.

Price

Choose a specific price range and see what new treasures you can find within your budget.

Region

Choose a specific region (Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County, California, France, etc.) and taste through several wines unique to that area.

Random

It’s all for fun anyway!

 

2. Choose Your Method

Blind Tasting 

Have a neutral third party put them into paper bags or wrap in foil and label them with a number. If you are going for a more festive and fun atmosphere, taste one at a time, discuss (or argue passionately), then reveal. If you want to take a more serious approach, taste all of the wines while writing notes about aromas, flavors and textures, then discuss and reveal. If you are providing all of the wines, have a trusted wine shop select and wrap the wines for you, so even you are in on the blind!

Round Robin

Have everyone bring their own wine concealed in a sock, so they know which wine is theirs. Take turns asking one question (make it harder by only asking yes/no questions) until someone can name what the wine/varietal/region is.

 

3. Find the Wines

Head to your local wine shop first and see what expertise they can lend you. Many times they will give you a pearl of wisdom to make you look extra knowledgeable in front of your friends. If you can’t find what you are looking for locally, turn to online retailers to find the perfect bottle or order directly from a winery and check their website for notes about the vintage.

 

4. Grab the Extras

Glasses

Good, clean glasses are important in the tasting process. Avoid detergents with strong odors and have some additional glasses waiting in the wings!

Spit Cups

It’s very important to taste responsibly, so encourage your guests to spit after tasting and discard any extra wine in the glass. When trying to evaluate wines, less is more!

Water

Depending on what your theme is, your palate can tire quickly with big, bold reds. Have water on hand to keep hydrated and refreshed between sips.

Paper

Now that you have discovered new regions/varietals/wines, you need to remember them! Jot down descriptors such as the color, smells and tastes. There is no wrong answer!

 

5. Don’t Forget the Food!

Set out plenty of bread or crackers while tasting in order to cleanse the palate. Depending on your theme, you could try pairing various foods with the wines to see how they change and react to various components. Common pairings include dark chocolate, salted nuts, dried fruits, and hard or creamy cheeses. Make sure to let your guests know what will be served so that they don’t arrive with empty stomachs if you are only serving light snacks.

All in all, you are combining two of the best things in life: wine and friends! Cheers!

 

 

Jul 31,

2017

Pan-Seared Chicken with Sauvignon Blanc Cream Sauce

Paired with Dry Creek Vineyard 2016 Sauvignon Blanc

Ingredients

One 4-lb chicken, cut into 8 pieces

5 Tbsp. unsalted butter, divided

1 red onion, ½ finely chopped, ½ quartered through the stem

¾ cup chicken stock

½ cup heavy cream

½ cup Sauvignon Blanc

10 oz mushrooms of choice, brushed clean and halved

1 firmly packed cup of Swiss chard leaves

1 tsp cayenne

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp Italian seasoning

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Method

Preheat oven to 380˚F.  Season the chicken generously with salt on both sides.  In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, add 3 tablespoons butter.  Once bubbling, add the chicken skin side down (work in batches as needed to avoid overcrowding); cook until golden brown, about 10 minutes.  Turn and repeat on the remaining side.

Remove chicken to a baking sheet. Pour out all but 1 tablespoon of the fat from the Dutch oven and add the onion; season with salt and cook. Turn the larger pieces occasionally and stir the small pieces until softened and lightly colored, about 5 minutes. Remove the large pieces to a large rimmed serving plate.  Add Sauvignon Blanc, stirring to deglaze, then cook over medium heat until the wine is mostly evaporated, about 2 minutes.  Add the stock and heavy cream.  Cover and cook at a low simmer for 25 minutes.

During the last 15 minutes of simmering the sauce, place the chicken in the oven and roast until a thermometer inserted into the center of the thickest piece reads 155˚F, about 10 minutes.

Just before serving, in a large skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of butter over medium-high heat.  Once bubbling, add the mushrooms and cook, stirring or shaking the pan occasionally until browned on the edges and tender throughout, about 8 minutes. Remove to the platter with the reserved red onions.  In the hot skillet, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter, then add the Swiss chard; season with salt and cook just until wilted, about a minute.  Remove and distribute around the serving platter.

Taste the sauce and adjust seasoning as needed.  Pour the sauce onto the serving platter and nestle the chicken into the sauce.

Serves 4

Click here for a printable version

 

Jun 27,

2017

5th Consecutive Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence

Dry Creek Vineyard is honored to have received the prestigious 2017 TripAdvisor® Certificate of Excellence for the fifth consecutive year! This recognition is awarded to establishments that regularly exceed customer expectations and recognizes true excellence within the hospitality industry.

Our family winery is proud to be consistently ranked as the #1 “Thing To Do” in Healdsburg. With over 500 reviews by travelers, we make it a priority to read every comment and implement new procedures based on customer feedback.
We would like to take this opportunity to extend our sincerest gratitude to our many valued guests who have visited, tasted and shared their positive experience on TripAdvisor®. Thank you!

 

May 09,

2017

4 Things to Know About Old Vine Zinfandel

1. Dry Creek Vineyard was the first winery to coin the term ‘Old Vine Zinfandel’.

Our family winery has had a long tradition of using old vine vineyards for the base of our Zinfandels. Back in the 80s, we had to combine the 1985 and 1986 vintages of Zinfandel but didn’t want to label the wine as a ‘non-vintage’, so we wanted to come up with a name that could speak to how special these ancient vines were. Gary Emmerich (who still works for Dry Creek Vineyard!) asked, “The vines are pretty old, so why don’t we call it old vine?” The term caught on within the wine industry and the rest is history!

 

2. There is no legal definition of how old the vines need to be.

Although there is no legal definition, we define an old vine vineyard as having vines that average more than 50 years in age. For the 2014 vintage of our Old Vine Zinfandel, the vines are more than 95 years in age and in some cases, more than 120 years old!

 

3. Most of the old vines in the Dry Creek Valley were brought by Italian immigrants in the mid to late 1800s.

When European immigrants migrated to California in search of gold in the early 1850s, they brought indigenous vine cuttings with them in an effort to carry on their heritage. An era of experimentation began as they settled into their new surroundings and searched for which varietals would be successful.

 

4. There is probably more than just Zinfandel in your wine glass.

For centuries, farmers have produced wine by harvesting and fermenting the miscellaneous assortment of grapes that were planted in their fields. This tradition of “field blends” lives on today, though it is becoming increasingly rare to find a vineyard planted in this old-world style.
Field blend vineyards are planted with multiple varietals, in a seemingly random way. This means that a Zinfandel vine might be planted right in between a Petite Sirah vine and a Carignane vine. The whole field is picked at one time, and all of the grapes are fermented together for a wine that is truly created in the vineyard. Many of our old vine vineyards are field blends of primarily Zinfandel, with additional vines of Petite Sirah, Carignane, Grenache and other unique varietals.

 

May 05,

2017

DCV in Wine Spectator

We are proud to be featured in the May issue of Wine Spectator! James Laube dedicated his entire one-page, monthly column to Dry Creek Vineyard and how second generation owners Kim Stare Wallace and her husband Don are ‘Keeping The Dream Alive’.

When Don and Kim officially took the helm of our family winery in 2006, they put into place their vision of producing terroir-driven, appellation-focused, varietal-defining wines. For more than a decade, they have been firmly committed to a “no compromises” philosophy, and shifted the winemaking practices and vineyard management to maximize flavors and reflect the Dry Creek Valley. Basically, in a world where things are getting faster and bigger, Dry Creek Vineyard is taking a smaller and slower approach.

Dry Creek Vineyard is one of the last truly private, family-owned iconic wineries consistently producing 90-point wines. We are thrilled that James Laube and Wine Spectator wanted to share our story, and we hope you will pick up the May 31st issue and read it for yourselves.