Wine Tasting at Home

I love Friday nights at home. Our newest tradition is to cook something at home, open a bottle of wine, and sit outside on our deck listening to music and catching up until we are ready for bed. It is so refreshing and restful and one of my absolute favorite times of the week.

Last night we decided to relive our wine country travels by doing a little wine tasting outside. Thanks to the sampler kits we bought at Amista Vineyards, all we had to do was grab a few glasses, the tasting notes, and to head for the setting sun.

Amista Vineyards

Amista sells these great little at home wine tasting kits, and as we learned, the hard way, you re able to take TWO of them on board the plane with you. Three tasting kits gets you extra special attention from airport security. :) Apparently the contents of three will not fit in the plastic quart bag.

Amista Vineyards Wine

(Our deck desperately needs to be redone. If anyone in Boston has a good deck sander/painter recommendation, let me know!)


This particular tasting kit included:

2007 Chardonnay 2008 Rose of Syrah 2006 Zinfandel 2004 Syrah 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon Ilusion
Morningsong Vineyards Morningsong Vineyards Saini Farms-Gene’s Block Morningsong Vineyards Francesa’s Terrace Dry Creek Valley Red Dessert Blend


The kit also includes tasting notes and food pairings, multiple menus and courses for each wine. It is an excellent, informative guide and something I plan on using if I ever have time to plan a wine dinner at home.

Amista tasting notes

We tasted through the lineup, each bottle being just enough for a taste for both of us. With the exception of the Chardonnay, which I think wasn’t sealed properly, the wines were all the exceptional quality I remember from the Amista tasting room. When I removed the seal of the Chardonnay bottle, it was sticky, smelled like old wine, and had a caramel-colored residue in the cap. It happens.

My favorite was of course the 2004 Syrah. I have tasted Syrah from many places, and those from the Dry Creek Valley and in particular, Amista and Michel-Schlumberger tend to be the best for my palate.

Dinner was supposed to be some fish and roasted veggies, but after another tiring week, we opted for a bacon and jalapeno pizza from the shop around the corner. It was a perfect red wine pizza. :)

And since I haven’t mentioned any new product favorites lately, I just had to include a photo of my Trader Joe’s lemon curd. Disclaimer, I do not work for Trader Joe’s though I would love to, I just find so many delicious deals there! This lemon curd is like a lemony pudding, and while I just had a couple spoons out of the jar last night, I can’t wait to eat it with shortbread.

Trader Joe's Lemon Curd

And I am still obsessed with Trader Joe’s Super Red Drink Powder. Just wanted to throw that in there.

Do you have any special traditions or rituals that you look forward to each week or month?

Have a great Saturday!

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Tags: California wine, wine, wine tasting, wine tasting at home, wine tasting kit

  1. Debbie’s avatar

    agree totally! Trader Joe’s Lemon Curd! Wow! My favorite too!


  2. Daisy’s avatar

    how fun is this! such a great friday night. enjoy your saturday.


  3. ashleigh’s avatar

    That wine tasting kit is so cool. Sounds like a perfect night :)


  4. Michelle’s avatar

    This would be the perfect thing for a girls night in! I look forward to Friday nights catching up on the DVR with some wine!


  5. Simply Life’s avatar

    That sounds like our Friday nights as well and we LOOOVE them!


  6. Vicky Farrow’s avatar

    Sounds like a wonderful evening and a great way to enjoy the tasting packs. Sorry about that Chard. We will definitely let our partner know. They work very hard to decant the wine in a zero oxygen environment so it replicates the wine in the 750ml bottles. Getting the caps on tight is equally important. Next time you come, we’ll take you for a tour so you can see where they produce these little guys and get you a new baby bottle of Chard.

    Vicky, Proprietor, Amista Vineyards


  7. Hadley’s avatar

    Try that lemon curd with Tyler Florence’s berry trifle. It’s awesome and one of our summer go to desserts!


    1. traveleatlove’s avatar

      I love Tyler Florence! Made his buttermilk biscuits yesterday :)


    2. Anne@ Food Loving Polar Bear’s avatar

      I usually look forward to Friday’s when I know we’re going to eat something good, cuddle up on the sofa and watch a movie :)


    3. MelissaNibbles’s avatar

      That looks like fun! I like that it came with a food pairings card.


    4. Megan’s avatar

      Oh, I wish they sold that tasting kit online! I really want to learn more about wine and be able to taste a lot (esp. red, which I haven’t found a liking for much yet), but I don’t want to be buying bottles and bottles I’ll end up not liking. I’ve even been to some tastings but I never remember what they are. Argh!


      1. traveleatlove’s avatar

        Since I usually have my camera with me, I have started taking photos of labels of the wines I liked. It’s easier than having a scrap of paper floating around with the information on it!
        Some wineries sell the tasting kits online. Here is a link to DeLoach. We were given the Pinot Noir tasting kit as a gift, and it was really good!


      2. Megan’s avatar

        I need to start a tradition like this! Sounds like the perfect way to spend a Friday night.


      3. amie’s avatar

        That sounds like a good evening to me! I love low-key Fridays (or any nights) like that. Even better if enjoyed outdoors with good wine and good company.


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