Saturday, January 28, 2012

A Single’s Guide to Pairing Wine With Your Date

Thanks to my gorgeous friend Suzanne for coming up with the question for this week’s column. Suzanne, being a sexy single girl, suggested some dating situations in which a good wine is definitely needed. Being a loving and caring friend, who hasn’t even thought of dating in 25 years, I figured I would be the perfect person to give awesome advice!

The Endless Talker: Suzanne explained this person as “the guy who has already talked about his two exes and is now on to the rebound girlfriend and the night is still young”. My suggestion to this is a good Prosecco. Prosecco is light and bubbly, gently sweet with a lightly acidic finish. The reason why you want this wine is because you can consume a lot of it over a pretty long period of time without too many bad effects. You’re going to need it to calm your nerves and give you something to smile about.

The Inquisitor: My friend explained this as the guy “who is good at firing off questions, but not good at listening to the answers. He spends a lot of time looking under the table at his phone because he’s holding a full-on text conversation with someone else”. My thought is hopefully he’s paying for dinner. If so, order something really expensive. A really high end Cabernet Sauvignon or red blend that hits all the notes. Ask your server if they have any “library wines”. If he doesn’t remember another thing about your date, he’ll at least remember the bar bill!

The Silent Type:  Suzanne explained this as the person who “gives monosyllabic answers and grunts as you try to hold a conversation”. What you really need here is a truth serum, but in the wine world the only thing that really cuts a guy, or gal loose is a little extra ethanol. You can either go high class, such as a nice Tawny Port such as Graham’s, or you can take him down to the tracks with a bottle of Night Train. The magic word here is “fortified”. Either way, his lips will be looser.

The Groper:  What to have, or not have if your body parts seem to keep getting in the way of his hands. What do you want? I suggest keeping your options open here. You might want to go with something like a good Mead. After all, Mead is considered by many to be an aphrodisiac. If you want to go the other way I suggest just hitting him with the bottle on the side of the head.

The Inhaler:  Suzanne explained this as when you “just get your main course and you look up to find his plate totally empty”. Ok, I resemble that remark. Suzanne and I haven’t even seen each other since the 7th grade and she still talks about my eating habits. Ugh!!

This is my friend Suzanne, who helped me with this column!
The Dream Date: Suzanne says this is the date where you don’t want to forget a single minute, and you don’t want to wake up. I say, awwww! That is so cute! The trick to ordering a wine in this situation is to pick a wine that you really really love. The thing is, wine affects our olfactory senses as well as our taste senses. These are the two senses that are most critically tied to our memory. When you smell or taste something it often reminds you of a past event or place. I would personally go with a great Pinot Noir. There are several, but many of my favorites are from the Salem, Oregon area. Erath, Eola Hills, Firesteed, and Sineann are among my favorites.

My best to all of you lonely hearts out there. Enjoy!

Monday, January 23, 2012

A Different Type of Fruit Winery

This week I was down in New Orleans at a conference. Yes, I did take in all of what is N’walins! If you haven’t been there, then you are missing out on one of the true cultural stewpots that this country has to offer.

Among all the places that I adventured, I took in the Riverwalk Mall next to the convention center downtown to see if I could find some nice souveniers for my wife and kids. Little did I know that I would find a winery right there in the mall.

Sho Nuff! In the Riverwalk Mall there is a wine tasting room for the NOLA Tropical Winery. I just knew in my heart this wine was going to be nasty. But, like a train wreck, I just had to see what this was all about.

As the story goes, the owners, from Mandeville, Louisiana, were on a trip to St. Petersburg when they happened onto the Florida Orange Groves and Winery. They were very taken by the wines made there, and entered into an agreement to have their own wines made by the Florida staff.

The friendly manager, Carrie, met me in the brightly lit and colorful winery. I’m not a fan of sticky sweet and cloying fruit wines. There seems to be so many “panty droppers” (as we call them in the alcohol industry). So I was extra surprise when several of the wines that I tried were either bone dry or semi dry.

The first wine that I really enjoyed was the Orange Sunshine. It is a little off dry with approximately 1% sugar. Lots of fantastic orange flavor that I likened to the soft creamy flavor from inside the orange peel. The wine’s floral and citrus nose was fun to just smell.
When Carrie broke out the Key Limen I was in love. I am a huge key lime fan. I could live on key lime pie if my arteries could hold up. The flavors and nose were soft and citrusy, very dry, and with just enough acid that it finished beautifully.

Another wine that stood out was the Dry Blueberry. It has a lot of the same characteristics of Pinot Noir that has been fermented and stored in steel. Lots of flavors of dried blueberries. Smoky, and rich with flavor.
NOLA’s Black Gold comes in a dry and semi sweet version. I went for the dry. Dark and rich, with blackberry flavors, this wine has all the flavors of a Cabernet Sauvignon.
Other wines that I enjoyed were the Cherry, make with Montmorency style cherries, the King Kiwi, which was just like eating kiwi with your breakfast, and last but certainly not least, the Black and Blue Port. Fantastic!
For those who are hardcore grape drinkers, the winery has developed some traditional red and white wines. The Roux St. Louis is a very nice white blend, and the Dah Red is a very nice blend of Napa Syrah and Cabernet grapes that were shipped in to make a real wine drinker’s wine.
If you are ever in N’walins, for whatever reason, I suggest you go check out the NOLA Tropical Winery. I also suggest going down to WINO, the Wine Institute of New Orleans, just a few blocks away, where you can enjoy these, as well as wines from around the world. Oh, and you can carry your solo cup of wine down the road with you in that town!

Of course, if you can't make it to New Orleans any time soon you can find the winery at  They ship wine all over the country, as long as you live in a state where you can have wine shipped to you. 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

This Year I become the Real “One Rich Wine Guy”

Believe it or not I’ve been writing this column since 2008. I know. A little scary to me too. Hard to believe you’ve been reading my dribble now for that long.
It is kind of surreal to me, being a kind, mild mannered professional photographer most of the week, and then...Kazoweee!!...on Thursday nights... I become One Rich Wine Guy. I strip into my latex speedo and little black rubber cape, grab a glass of wine, and sit in front of my computer for an hour composing something so great that you will hopefully read it come Saturday morning.
What started out in March of 2008 in a meeting with the powers to be at the East Oregonian has now become my complete alter ego. Sometimes I don’t know where one personality starts and the other ends. All I know is that the part of me that is One Rich Wine Guy is ready for world domination Bwah... Ha... Ha... Ha!!
Ahem. Now, on to what I think has become my goal for 2012. I hear from many of you, my faithful followers, that you want to be able to get inside my brain and find out more about what I like, where I’ll be, and where all the really good insider deals on wine are here in our area. Some of you have even asked me to host a really big wine garage sale somewhere. (The problem with the garage sale idea is that it is a licensing nightmare. But with my speedo and cape on I’m sure I can do anything.)
I’m open to these ideas, and many more. However, I need your input like never before. I need to know what you really want of me, your faithful servant. Do you want me to continue things as they are? Do you want the East Oregonian to double or triple my wages? This could all be done with your direction.
My ask is that you tell me what you want of me in 2012. What would you like to see more of? What would you like to see less of? Would you like hints on where the good wine buys are at? These are things I need to know in order to serve you with this column better.
The following are ideas that people have given to me so far in 2012:

1. A phone app for finding good wine deals in the region.

2. More wine note kiosks in grocery stores and wine shops to ensure that you find the wines I’ve enjoyed.

3. Gigantic wine sales (all done within the comfortable arms of the law).

4. Wine cruises or trips with the One Rich Wine Guy and his beautiful wife. (The opportunity to have your name included in my upcoming book would surely go along with this one.)

5. Or, simply, more columns on how to be a wine slob like me.
There are many ways to let me know what you want from my column this year. You can email me at You can reply to my blog at Or, you can call the East Oregonian, which will likely get me fired or get my salary reduced.
I look forward to hearing from you soon!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Annual Northwest Best of 2011 Wine Review

Ok. So, this is the one article that tends to bring me more hate mail than any other diddy of the year. I know it’s crazy, but I look forward to this annual event. One of my friends on Facebook has nicknamed me “firestarter” because something in me craves abuse. If anything starts that fire, it would be what I’m about to write.

This is my one article of the year, where I review my wine notes for the previous 12 months and give you my opinion on what my favorites were. These opinions are not the opinions of the Eastern Oregonian or any of it’s staff. It isn’t the opinion of my family. It isn’t the opinion of that hosts my blog. The following opinions are mine alone.

Best Chardonnay: I’ve had some doozies this year. Some made me think I was in heaven. Some made me want to puke. The best one I had was one I found on a trip to Portland with my wife. We stopped in a few different little wineries in Hood River on the way home and found Phelps Creek Winery. Their Reserve Chardonnay (I believe it was the 2009 but I can’t find that in my notes). The crispness on the front of the palate, nice acidity, and wonderful butterscotch overtones was fantastic!
Best Red Blend: Once again, this was all over the board. I would have to say that my favorite red blend this year goes to Davenlore for their Recovery Red. You would think that a bottle with a Grolsch style refillable bottle, and low priced to boot, would be bad. But, I had this wine many times this year and was never disapointed.

Most Unique Red Varietal: I’ve gotten some pretty wild stuff sent to me this year, but I had some local Primitivo that was outstanding this summer. My favorite was Coyote Canyon’s Primitivo. Deep, ruby color and rich with plum, cherry, and spices.

Best Malbec: So, I can’t help it. Malbec is my favorite grape of all. The best Malbec that I had this year came from Hamilton Cellars. Charlie Hoppes, who is the winemaker for Hamilton was forced by Stacy the owner of the winery to make this stuff. Thanks Stacy for beating it out of him. I love it!!

Best Riesling: Rich Funk from Saviah created his Jack Riesling this year for the first time an it hit the market by storm. I finally got my hands on a bottle this fall and fell in love. OMG!

Best Cabernet Sauvignon: This is usually where I tick off the purists. Once again, I’ve had a lot of Cab this year, and this is was a very tough choice. I have to say that my bottle of ‘07 Cooper Walla Walla Cab was the best of the year. If you didn’t get any, I’m sorry, but you won’t be able to prove me wrong.

Best Pinot Noir: At the end of the year I received as a gift a bottle of Swiftwater Cellars 2009 Willamette Pinot Noir. The Watts family has spared no expense in making this hard-to-get wine. Beautiful fruit backed up by layer after layer of spices makes this bottle truly one of the best. My hat is off to winemaker Tony Rynders.

Once again, these are the best that I tasted. I’m sure you have your own opinion. Please let me know at