Easy Pairing: Romesco Sauce and Red Wine

My secret sauce for pairing red wine with food is Romesco sauce. The trick is that the sauce is what gets matched with the wine. Ingredients may be tweaked to best match Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, or even a red blend. In other words, this is one way to go meatless and drink red wine, too!

True confession:  I am a lazy cook. The original recipe from chef and acclaimed cookbook author Joanne Weir calls for additional steps to fry the bread, roast red peppers, and toast the nuts. However, I usually don’t. Instead, everything goes in the food processor and gets blitzed up. This dish is ready in a flash!

Romesco Sauce Recipe

Continue reading “Easy Pairing: Romesco Sauce and Red Wine”

20 Fun Red Washington Wine Varieties You Need to Try

Have you ever tasted Tempranillo from Washington State? How about Nebbiolo? Or Lemberger? Or perhaps you didn’t even know such a diverse range of wine grapes grow in Washington State. After all, these grapes are typically associated with Spain, Italy, and Austria respectively. However, if you’d like to go beyond the typical Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, or Syrah here are 20 fun red Washington wine varieties to explore.

Give yourself one point for each Washington grown variety you’ve tasted in a blend or two points for each variety you’ve experienced in its untainted glory.

Fun Red Washington Wine Varieties



More closely associated with southern Italy, Walla Walla’s first family Leonetti Cellars crafts a bottling of this variety. I hope to experience it myself someday!

Alicante Bouschet

Last fall, Chelan based Cairdeas Winery released their first Alicante Boushet, and it quickly sold out. I’ve joined their Wine Club with the hope that I’ll soon get my hands on a bottle. Continue reading “20 Fun Red Washington Wine Varieties You Need to Try”

Best Quips and Tips from Online Wine Events

Yes, there have been silver linings to our time at home! One is the ability to connect with wine enthusiasts, winemakers, authors, and other folks in the wine industry via myriad online wine events. Here are some of the best quips I heard and tips I learned in recent months.

Alta Colina Syrah Virtual Tasting

My introduction to virtual tasting featured Paso Robles winery Alta Colina. The organically farmed estate based in the Adelaida District AVA specializes in Rhone varieties. An amiable panel included the winery’s founder, grower, and winemaker emeritus Bob Tillman, his daughter Maggie Tillman, and winemaker Molly Lonborg. Following this terrific introduction to the winery, I am eager to explore the rolling hills of their vineyard in person!

Fun fact:  Paso Robles is about three times the size of Napa in terms of acreage planted.

Pro tip:  At the Alta Colina Vineyard you can book a stay among the vines at one of 5 cool looking boutique vintage trailers.

WineSmith Wine

I wrote a full post about an intriguing virtual tasting with Clark Smith, who boldly discussed his manipulation in winemaking. Continue reading “Best Quips and Tips from Online Wine Events”

Celebrate Taste Washington with Wines Under $20

Do you need to restock your supply of Washington wine? You’re in luck, I’ve uncovered some incredible deals just in time to celebrate Taste Washington with wines under $20! Bottles were purchased from Esquin Wine and Spirits (a VinoSocial client), or direct from the winery. Now, let’s uncork some values!

Cairdeas Winery

2019 Diffraction Red Blend
$18 at the winery
I have to confess, I purchased a case of this wine when it was on sale for just $12 a bottle (get on the winery’s email list so you don’t miss out next time!). However, even at $18 it delivers remarkable quality for the price. This delectable red blend is composed of a number of Rhone varieties and although lighter in style, it’s loaded with flavorful spicy nuances. It has been our house wine this last year. In fact, the hubby and I enjoyed the wines we tasted from Cairdeas so much that we have joined the wine club!

Try this if:  you want a red wine with dinner that won’t overpower your food.
Pair with: everything from barbecue to roasted chicken with a spice rub.


2016 Monastrell
$19.99 at Esquin
Spaniard Javier Alfonso works with Spanish varieties grown in Washington. Fruit is sourced from Yakima Valley where cooler nights help retain acidity. This wine is an easy drinker!

Try this if:  you want to experience Spanish influence on Washington wine.
Pair with:  meat loaf topped with barbecue sauce.

Locus Wines (a VinoSocial client)

2019 Rosé
$15 at the winery

I discovered Locus Wines through Seattle Urban Wineries, a great resource if you want to explore wineries in the city.

This mouthwatering blend of Grenache, Cinsault, and Mourvedre from Rattle Snake Hills starts with strawberry flavors and ends with a minerally finish. This is a terrific wine for fans of Provencal rosé. Although the owners at Locus have a heavy focus on wine and food pairing (yay!), I would gladly spend the day on the patio while sipping this wine on its own.

Bonus:  the winery delivers in Seattle for wine orders of $75 or more.
Try this if:  you want to pretend you’re in the Mediterranean.
Pair with:  Greek salad, panzanella, or grilled salmon.


2018 Merlot
$19.99 at Esquin (regularly $24.99)
Lydian is Avennia’s introductory label, primarily meant for glass pours at restaurants. Same great winemaker, terrific sources for fruit, but at a more approachable price. Lydian wines have been a hit in my virtual wine tastings.

Try this if:  you want a wine from a top notch producer, but don’t want to spend top dollar.

Nathan Gray

2017 Syrah
$16.99 at Esquin
Single vineyard Syrah from Den Hoed Wine Estates crafted by Ryan Crane of Kerloo Cellars – for less than $20? Huzzah! It needed a good decant to open up then revealed astounding refinement.

Try this if:  you’re looking for a wine that drinks well above its price point.


2018 Syrah
$11.99 at Esquin (regularly $21.99)
A second label for Isenhower Cellars, this fruit forward wine was fitting for a weeknight dinner of takeout barbecue.

Try this if:  you’re looking for a value wine for the Washington Syrah Challenge.

The Walls

2017 The Ramparts
$17.99 at Esquin (regularly $39.99)
This is serious toe-curling stuff! So, why that unbelievable price? Whenever there’s a transition from one winemaker to another, it typically means great deals are to be had. This was one of the last wines crafted by extremely talented winemaker Ali Mayfield before she moved on from The Walls. Red Mountain fruit makes up the enticing blend of Grenache (40%), Mourvedre (40%), Counoise, and Viognier (5%). It’s kind of like amped up Pinot Noir.

Try this if:  you want an amazing medium bodied wine that’s full of fruity, spicy, smoky character.


If you plan to celebrate Taste Washington with wines under $20, keep in mind that prices here, and availability, may change after March.

Note: I do not receive compensation from VinoSocial clients for any purchases made. These are businesses that I personally patronize.

Esquin Wine & Spirits

Locus Wines

Cairdeas Winery

Seattle Urban Wineries

Let’s Talk About the Alliance of Women in Washington Wine

Last Monday, on the first day of National Women’s History Month, the inaugural board of directors for the newly formed Alliance of Women in Washington Wine was disclosed. As I write this, membership is nearing 300, a rise in 100 members since the announcement.

The idea for the organization sprouted from discussions that revealed women from all areas of the wine industry shared common concerns such as isolation, lack of opportunity awareness, and lack of diversity. Admittedly, I can relate. For this reason, VinoSocial is proud to support the Alliance and to have contributed to the initial scholarships.

True Story

Photo of Nancy Croisier tasting at Foundry Vineyards Seattle courtesy of Richard Duval Images

My career in wine began late in life, following 20-years of corporate existence in Human Resource Management. After losing my father to a terminal illness, I enrolled in classes at the Northwest Wine Academy to help get through the grief. While on that wine-soaked path, I finally started to see light at the end of a dark tunnel. Along the way, I realized that wine was meant to be more than a distraction for me. Continue reading “Let’s Talk About the Alliance of Women in Washington Wine”