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Last Saturday we attended the Boston Wine Expo with press tickets generously provided by the Expo. It had been several years since I had attended; I typically go out of town for the long weekend and was glad to be able to browse and do some wine tasting this year!

Boston Wine Expo

The Expo is loved by many because of the enormous number of vendors. It’s a great place to discover new foods, wines, and other products to fall in love with, but it is also overwhelming at times! As soon as we walked in, I was looking every which way, trying to decide where to taste first. It really is best to go into a wine expo with a plan on what tables you want to visit most.

We snaked our way through the aisles of tables, and below are just a few of the highlights of my experience.

Truchard ChardonnayTruchard Chardonnay – I loved this wine for its hint of oak and citrus, and I loved even more that the winery owners were pouring it themselves. They were so sweet, and I have their card in hand for my next trip to Napa.

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Barolo is hard to pass up!

 

Chamisal Vineyards Chardonnay

Unoaked Chardonnay is often a go-to summer wine for us; Chardonnay haters still often love it! I enjoyed this one from Chamisal Vineyards and it was a good reminder I want to explore the Central Coast of California and its wine. So many wine regions, not enough time!

Anna Codorniu

While expanding my wine knowledge and palate is important to me, so are bubbles. I always seek out the bubbly at events, and I loved these Anna Codorniu minis. How cute are they?

Gloria Ferrer is a must-visit when we are in Sonoma County, and of course we stopped by the table for a tasting. The winemaker often attends these events, and it makes all the difference. I love Gloria Ferrer wines, I love their property in Sonoma County, and they win me over every time.

Gloria Ferrer

There were many tables representing various regions of Italy, and I tried some Prosecco that I liked; I am not always a fan of Prosecco as I often find it to be too sweet or to have a fake pear flavor that I don’t love.

prosecco minis This table had a mix of Cava and Prosecco from Premier Estates, and I preferred the Cava, though could definitely see how a fan of sweeter wines would like the Prosecco.

prosecco

I stopped by to meet the people behind VinoVersal wine club, which I will be reviewing soon. It was great to meet them and to try some of the wines from my wine club review box, all delicious and from Salento, a region of Italy I know nothing about!

VinoVersal Wine Club

wines from Marche

I also loved this table, featuring wines from Marche. We have family in Marche (read about their amazing home here), and the region has great wine and sentimental value to me!

One of the downfalls of the wine expo experience, which I often find with big wine events, is that many of the people pouring either weren’t very knowledgeable or not very interested in the wines they were pouring. I get very excited and have lots of questions/love hearing wine stories, so my favorite tables are those with people really connected to the winery they represent.

Sugar Bob's Smoked Maple Syrup One thing I found impressive about the Boston Wine Expo was the huge amount of food offered. We ended up not needing lunch after all of the samples, and it helps to keep you in check when surrounded by wine!

My client, the Olive Connection sells this Sugar Bob’s Smoked Maple Syrup, and I stopped by to say hi and for a taste. It is smoky, sweet, and delicious, really great in cocktails!

smoked maple syrup

I also visited The Olive Table, another friend of the Olive Connection. They are doing an event together on March 23 in Brookline!

The Olive Table

We never miss a chance to eat Kerrygold cheese. We have all of these cheeses at home, but it’s always fun to chat with the Kerrygold rep and taste cheeses with wine samples. I love Kerrygold!

Kerrygold cheese

Montilio’s Bakery had an amazing array of sweets for when we had enough cheese and wine.

Montilio's  

I have been in love with Waterford Crystal probably since I first visited Waterford Ireland when I was a kid, and I just stared at these beautiful pieces, picturing them at my home, and realizing I would break them within a week. Still, they are pieces of art, and what makes a great wine even better than gorgeous Irish crystal?

Waterford Crystal

Overall I really enjoyed the Boston Wine Expo. There was so much to see and taste. I recommend getting there early and having a plan to get the most out of your experience. I look forward to next year’s Expo.

 

I received complimentary passes to the wine expo. All opinions are my own.

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Tags: Boston, Boston blogger, Boston Wine Expo, Food, foodie, wine, wine and food pairing, wine expo, wine tasting

With just over a week left in 2014, I have my winner for the best meal of the year. We ate a lot this year and had the opportunity to do some great travel (Best of travel coming tomorrow!), so it was tough to decide. Our experience at Aniar in Galway was just so exquisite though, I couldn’t NOT choose it as the best of 2014. My photos don’t do this meal any justice; the lighting was perfect for a date night but not great for photos. And I definitely know I am leaving details out, since it seems like this dinner was ages ago. Below is my best effort at sharing with all of you an evening that delighted so many senses and left us singing Aniar’s praises all over Galway and beyond.

Aniar Galway

Aniar means “west” in Irish, and much like wine makers, they are driven by terroir. You won’t find lemon in your water at Aniar because lemons don’t grow in Ireland. Our tasting menu feast highlighted meat and produce from Ireland; it was a great testament to the fact that Irish food can be REALLY good, something I have been trying to get across for years. Ireland has some of the best raw materials for amazing cuisine, and it’s great to see places like Aniar showcasing that.

Aniar Galway

We decided to go all out and do the tasting menu with wine pairings since this was my belated birthday dinner, which we didn’t make due to a flight cancellation from Scotland.

I was so glad that we did the wine pairings, as they were spot on perfect. The service was even better. The wines weren’t listed on our menus, and when I asked about them at the end of the meal, our server hand wrote each one on the back of the menu. Throughout the night there were so many little added touches where the staff went above and beyond.

A light, fun, Prosecco kicked off our night, and went nicely with our first course, a fresh piece of mackerel. I love pairing a fatty fish with bubbly, and our first bites set the tone for the whole meal.

Aniar Galway We had a table right by the window, so we were able to watch the hustle and bustle of a rainy Galway evening while we dined. It was cozy and romantic, and despite Aniar being a Michelin star restaurant, there was nothing stiff or pretentious about the place. It felt so homey and relaxed.

Aniar Galway Each bite of the meal was perfect; this fresh hen egg was swoon-worthy.

Aniar Galway

Halibut dusted in fennel, deliciously flaky and meaty at the same time, paired with Chardonnay from Beaujolais (Terres Dorées 2012 Classic) that was acidic and crisp, full of mineral and lemon.

Aniar Galway

Somewhere along the way (I am missing a course, pork neck.) we were served a wine that I was able to instantly recognize as Gamay, the grape in the oft overly fruity and awful Beaujolais Nouveau. This Gamay, by Jean Paul Brun, was a perfect example of how good Gamay can be when aged and finessed the right way. Big, dark cherry notes and a little earthy funk made this wine a new favorite, and I am definitely hoping to get my hands on it in the US.

A beautiful local herbal tea sorbet was the perfect mid-meal palate cleanser.

Aniar Galway

The tasting menu included some things I don’t normally go for, like venison, but I was adventurous and tried it all. And I hate to say it, but I thought the venison was incredible. It was so tender and flavorful and paired perfectly with the earthy, seasonal vegetables served with it. A gorgeous Rhone Valley Syrah rounded out each bite. This was my favorite course of the night.

Aniar Galway

 

wine pairings at Aniar Galway

Dessert was a fun and foamy blackberry, apple, and buttermilk concoction paired with a Chateau Jolys Cuvee Jean, a dessert wine that had so much balance with its honeysuckle sweetness that even I, one who does not like sweet wine, loved it.

dessert at Aniar

I wish I had taken the time to take more photos and notes along the way, but the way this meal flowed, the chat with our servers, watching the people go by and peeking into the insanely clean and busy kitchen all caught my attention before the thought of blogging creeped in. This night was a delicious, long breath of fresh air, filled with flavor and obvious love of food and of Irish ingredients. Bravo to Chef Ultan Cooke and the Aniar team, and thank you for being my best meal of 2014.

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Tags: Dining out, Food, Galway, Ireland, restaurants in Ireland, Travel, travel blog, travel blogger, wine, wine blog, wine blogger

It’s easy to spend a day in Healdsburg without getting into the car once, especially if you are staying on the plaza.  If you’re not, it’s also pretty much always easy to find parking and to spend your day just wandering in and out of tasting rooms and shops and restaurants.

We’re always excited to add a new tasting room to our Healdsburg mix, so when we saw that the space previously occupied by Boisset Taste of Terroir was now a C. Donatiello tasting room, it was our first stop. We have tasted and loved C. Donatiello wines in the past, including during the Wine and Food Affair.

C. Donatiello Sparkling Wine

Vacation is for celebration, so we started off with glasses of sparkling wine which we loved. It reminded me a little of Prosecco, with pear notes and the tiniest bit of sweetness. It ended up being perfect for a little Sunday brunch bubbly before our Savor Healdsburg Food Tour too! Perfect alone, this bubbly would also be nice in a mimosa on the beach. As it’s already unbearably cold in Boston, that is a thought I will hold onto.

C. Donatiello

We didn’t want to leave the C. Donatiello tasting room once we pulled up the couple of chairs in the window overlooking the Healdsburg Plaza. It’s a warm and cozy space with great people watching. Staff was friendly and helpful, happy to walk us through the various Pinot Noir and Chardonnay options available but also happy to give us space to sip and relax without feeling rushed or sold to.

So we decided to stay and share two more glasses, a  Russian River Valley Chardonnay and a Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir. The Chardonnay offered everything I love in this varietal, acidity and green apple notes with a delightful roundness, hints of vanilla and butterscotch on the lingering finish. The Chardonnay for me would be a perfect food wine.

Pinot Noir and Chardonnay

As far as the Pinot goes, we love Sonoma Coast wines, and C. Donatiello is definitely doing these grapes, grown in a stunningly beautiful but sometimes difficult region, major justice.

How beautiful is the color of that Pinot Noir? It was light and tart with strawberry notes, a little spicy, and oh-so-easy to drink. Fall always puts me in the mood for Pinot Noir, and I am wishing we had filled a case with this one.

It’s no secret we loved this spot; it was one of two tasting rooms we visited twice on our trip and one that will always be part of our itinerary moving forward.  Unpretentious, nicely appointed, with delicious wines, and welcoming people. . . what more could you ask for?

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Tags: California, Healdsburg, Sonoma County, sparkling wine. tasting room, wine, wine tasting, Wine Wednesday

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