Monday, May 30, 2011

Days of Wine and Fragrances

I've conducted plenty of wine and food pairings in my life, but a recent event I participated in at Saks Fifth Avenue was quite unusual, even according to my quirky standards of taste. Just how does one match up wines with perfumes?
The concept actually makes perfect sense. If we're tasting vino properly, we're sniffing, swirling, and inhaling the aromas, or bouquet, of that particular wine. Same goes for perfume: when we sniff and inhale the notes it offers, we quickly decide whether we like it or not.
I took five wines and one port, pairing them with quality scents from the Saks collection that I felt matched well. First up was Bond #9's Madison Square Park, a perfume that has notes of huckleberries, grape hyacinth, grass, teakwood, and vetiver root, among others. The wine I chose was a non-vintage Champagne from Michel Olivier, slightly dry and full of fruit.
Next was Jo Malone's Sakura Cherry Blossom, which has a delicate aroma of rose and bergamont. naturally, I thought an exotic, flowery Rose would pair well, so I selected the off dry 2009 Las Mulas from Chile.
A creamy Napa Chardonnay like the 2008 offering from Leese-Fitch seemed to go well with Aventus from Creed, arguably my favorite scent of the group. With top notes of black current and royal pine apple; heart notes of birch and patchouli, and base notes of oak moss, ambergris, and vanilla, it was a terrific pairing that went over well with Saks customers.

In what was my favorite matchup of the afternoon, I paired Maison Martin Margiela, a perfume based on green floral notes that also has some incense, musk, and an earthy quality. It seems that the 2010 Cupcake Sauvignon Blanc was made for this particular scent, as this varietal is extremely grassy and green-like when it comes from New Zealand.

Lastly, I needed something with warmth and a bit of heft for the Jimmy Choo Eau de Parfum. This scent is nothing short of intoxicating in its own right, with rich, woody depths that evoke glamour, confidence and refined sensuality. This perfume has toffee and Indonesian patchouli too, so I picked an R.L. Buller non-vintage Fine Tawny Port from Australia. The melt-in-your-mouth vanilla, amber, and molassas flavors were truly to die for.
This isn't rocket science, folks...its about smell and taste and the marriage of the two...can't wait for my next nuptuals.
Follow me on Twitter @vinochick75.

Special thanks to PS Wine & Specialty Foods in Palm Springs who supplied the wines for this event:
188 South Indian Canyon Drive
Palm Springs, CA 92262-6604
(760) 322-4411

Saks Fifth Avenue Palm Desert:
73555 El Paseo
Palm Desert, CA 92260
(760) 837-2900

Monday, May 23, 2011

Preview Party Offers Sneak Peek at Restaurant Week Sips

Restaurant Week in Palm Springs always serves as a great way to try the food and wine of notable area establishments without breaking the bank. For those of us who write about the event, its a chance to preview the coming attractions and get excited about the menus to come. 
 This year's bash was held at the beautiful Escena Grill, where I quickly found some fun glasses to pair with some of the culinary offerings. The first taste to tantalize was a creamy Napa Chardonnay, enjoyed with some flavorful ahi tacos from Copley's on Palm Canyon.  
My food writer friend Kimberly immediately discovered what ended up as my favorite pairing of the night. Delectably tender short ribs from Escena Chef Oscar Ayala, matched up with the dark berry jam flavored 2008 Spellbound Petite Syrah. The braised beef and intense fruit were almost too much to handle.
One of the most interesting finds that evening was the Berenjager honey liqueur I sipped on that inspired me to conjure up a killer reduction for grilled chicken...or maybe even a honey pancake breakfast.

After an assortment of tasty Malbec, Bordeaux, and other assorted reds, it was time to call it a night..that is, until the first Restaurant Week tasting menu beckons me.
Follow me on Twitter @vinochick75.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

JAQK Cellars Not the New Kid on the Wine Block Anymore

Each year, the Palm Desert Food & Wine Festival gives me the chance to taste new brands and concepts I
may otherwise miss out on.
I was thrilled to catch up with one of my favorite wine guys from the previous year, David Dees of JAQK Cellars. JAQK's national sales manager was as affable as ever as he poured some delicious selections, including my new favorite, an inky Cab with rich sweet fruit called 22 Black.
Founded in 2008, JAQK is quickly making a name as a producer of highly personalized wines, handcrafted by oenological genius Craig MacLean. As the JAQK website points out "Each varietal has been lovingly coddled, cajoled, and doted upon every step of the way." These wines, especially the reds, can be quite bold with a quick punch of flavor at first sip, but they manage to maintain an understated elegance in the glass.
Vino Chick caught up with JAQK Founder Joel Templin, who shared his thoughts on the marketing strategy behind JAQK's dark-fruited, meat lover's fantasy Soldiers of Fortune of my 'bath tub' wines...

With a savvy marketing strategy firmly in place, JAQK has positioned itself to be around for a while..or at least until the Syrah runs out...

For more information, go to

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