Fifth Annual in Vino Veritas

Celebrate Great American Winemaking at Fifth Annual In Vino Veritas

In Vino Veritas, a much anticipated annual, two-day wine event at St. John’s College, Annapolis, Md., opens with a dinner and wine tasting that celebrates the legacy of great American winemaking.

On Friday, February 27 special guest Warren Winiarski (St. John’s College, Class of 1952), founder of Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, joins a panel of notable winemakers and connoisseurs in an exclusive evening of wine tasting.  Stag’s Leap produced the winner of the 1976 Judgment of Paris. This historical wine event had a revolutionary impact on the wine industry, putting California wines firmly on the world wine map. A bottle of the award-winning 1973 S.L.V. Cabernet Sauvignon wine is on display at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. In its November 2013 issue, “Smithsonian” magazine included this bottle as one of the “101 Objects that Made America.”

Napa winemakers John Turley, founder of Turley Vineyards; John Williams, founder of Frog’s Leap Winery; and Zach Rasmuson, CEO of Duckhorn Vineyards, will join Winiarski for a discussion moderated by Abe Schoener, founder of The Scholium Project.  Turley, Rasmuson, and Schoener are also St. John’s College alumni.  St. John’s College is known for its visionary winemakers –The New York Times magazine describes Schoener as a “fearless, risk loving winemaker.”

On Saturday, February 28, guests at the Grand Tasting can explore more than 100 wines from around the world, premier wine growing regions and producers, meet the vintners, and sample wines and hors d’oeuvres. Workshops will be offered throughout the afternoon.

For prices, tickets and more information about this two-day fundraiser sponsored by the Friends of St. John’s College, visit:

St. John’s College is located in the heart of historic Annapolis, Md.  The college, an independent, four-year institution, also has a campus in Santa Fe, N.M.  St. John’s is known for its distinctive curriculum that focuses on the foundational works of western civilization.  The college also offers graduate-level programs based on these same principles

My 15 Minutes of Fame (almost!)

The wine bar has been open for 3 months now.  I keep thinking I am at a point where I can slow down long enough to post on my blog again, but something always comes up that keeps me hopping.  But I am not so stressed anymore so I do see the light at the end of the tunnel and unless it is a train, I will be back soon!  🙂

For now, please enjoy this video from my appearance on a local TV station for their Restaurant Show.

Latitude Wine Bar on the Restaurant Show



Taster’s Tablet

Okay, let’s be honest.  If you are reading this article it is because you love wine (almost) as much as I do.  We love wine festivals and events, especially if it offers us the opportunity to taste new and different wines!  But what happens when we encounter too many great wines.  How do we remember all of them – what was good, what was mediocre, what do I want (need) to remember for my next shopping trip – or for that matter, so I can go back later that same day and buy a whole case of that perfect wine???

I always think I will remember the wines I like, but truth be told, I am more likely to remember the ones I don’t.  And if I am at a major tasting event, by the time I get through the tasting,, going back to buy a specific wine (or case) is the furthest thing from my mind.  So we should all take good tasting notes that include special markings by the wines we really like, but where do you put your wine while you write and score these wines.  You need your hands free!

The Taster’s Tablet was invented to free up our hands so we can take notes and retain a little bit of our dignity as we do so.  Don’t be caught with a wine glass dangling around your neck sloshing wine all over your shirt.

Wine Glass Necklace

Wine Glass Necklace

Instead, use Taster’s Tablet.  You will have both hands free to take tasting notes, greet people or sample delicious tidbits of perfect pairings.


Here you have the wine perfectly balanced in the glass holder at the top of the tablet.  You have a free hand and the glass is stable.  You can take notes and score the wines as you go.  The glass slides easily in and out of the glass holder for tasting.  The tablets come with taster’s note sheets and flavor descriptors to help identify the flavors and aromas you are picking up in the wines – perfect for the wine connoisseur or the novice.

Put your logo or design here!

Put your logo or design here!

You can also have the tablets customized with your own logo or design.  Use them at your next event or as giveaways so that your brand is front and center at the next BIG wine tasting in your area.

You can find Tater’s Tablet on Facebook and Twitter (@TastersTablet) as well.

Taster’s Tablet was a media sample received for review purposes.

Grapes and Small Plates Returns


Grapes and Small Plates returns to Winston Salem during the month of April for its second annual food and wine event.  This culinary event is an opportunity to try a great local restaurant at a really reasonable price.  Last year we discovered Cimarron and The District, both of which became immediate favorites during Grapes and Small Plates.  So as soon as I saw the event advertised again this year, I started scoping out all the new restaurants I could try.  This year’s event goes to a new level by partnering with local wineries and creating pairings for their menu.

The event started Tuesday, April 2.  There are 11 participating restaurants and five participating wineries.

We started this year’s event by going back to Cimarron.  To my surprise, they actually had someone from Childress Vineyards there pouring samples of the wines they had on the menu.  They were pouring the Childress Merlot, Chardonnay and Syrah as well as “3”.

Hubby ordered Prime Rib for his “small plate” and paired it with Childress Syrah.  His dinner was served with Au Jus, Horseradish Cream Sauce and Sautéed Vegetables, served with warm bread and a fresh basil olive oil dip.

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I selected Flank Steak marinated in a Sriracha, Lime, Cilantro and Cumin Sauce, then grilled.  This was served with Brown Sugar and Cinnamon Mashed Sweet Potatoes.  I also paired mine with the Childress Syrah.

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Each of our menu items was only $12.  The wine was $6 per glass.  We had a gourmet dinner for only $36.  The great thing about Grapes and Small Plates is that each restaurant prepares a special menu for each week, not just a special item.  You have several choices at each restaurant and the menu changes weekly.  It has been my experience with “Restaurant Week/Month” that each restaurant only offers one item for each night so this is a real treat.

Another added feature this year is a kiosk set up at each participating restaurant for donations to the Second Harvest Food Bank.

I already have a restaurant picked out for next week, but you will have to wait.  It is a surprise, and I have never eaten there so it should be fun!

For more information on Grapes and Small Plates, please visit:

Carolina Epicure:  2nd Annual Grapes and Small Plates

My post from the inagural Grapes and Small Plates

Society of Wine Educators Annual Conference

In-Depth Tastings Flow Like Wine at Society of Wine Educators Annual Conference

Three-day event features internationally known speakers on a wide-range of topics

The Society of Wine Educators (SWE) will present an impressive lineup of in-depth classes for wine devotees at its 37th annual conference, to be held July 31 through August 2, 2013 at the Renaissance Hotel at SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida. Guided tastings will present wines and/or spirits from at least 15 different countries and 42 wine regions from around the world. Among the instructors teaching the sessions will be 21 Certified Wine Educators, 6 Master Sommeliers and five Masters of Wine.

The SWE annual conference is the country’s most comprehensive wine education event, offering a full spectrum of opportunities for wine educators, culinary students, sommeliers and general enthusiasts who seek to deepen and expand their knowledge about wines and spirits, and meet others who share their passion. Registration for the conference opened April 1st. A full list of sessions and speakers is available on the SWE website,

The concentrated three-day conference schedule will feature more than 60 sessions, as well as an International Wine and Beer Tasting, wine pairing events and networking opportunities with top educators in the field. Many of the presentations at the conference are one-of-a-kind opportunities. “You might never have the opportunity to taste these wines anywhere, unless you go there [to the source],” says Bill Whiting, CSW, Education Director for Banfi Vintners. “You might have to even spend hundreds or thousands of dollars to do so. And you get all that here, at the Conference.”

Now in its 37th year, the SWE annual conference has long been known among educators as an unusually rich resource in the world of wine and spirits. “It is an enormous amount of information and education, in a very small period of time,” said Linda Lawry of International Wine Center (NYC). “It’s very concentrated. There is nothing else like it.”

The Society of Wine Educators is the leading international organization of professionals dedicated specifically to wine and spirits education. It offers several highly-regarded certification programs for professionals in the wine and spirits industry, and its annual conference is the most comprehensive wine education event in America. Exams and seminars are offered throughout the USA and internationally. For more information, please contact: or call 202-408-8777.

Chef’s Table, A Carnival Cruise Special

We have just returned from our first cruise.  I have been excited for months about doing this.  We have heard from so many people how much fun cruises are and how much there is to do while on a cruise.  I just couldn’t wait!!!  Hubby, however, had some reservations about the whole thing.  He’s not much of a gambler so he knew he wouldn’t enjoy the casino and he was just leery about how he would occupy his time on the days that we were at sea.  So I made it my mission to ensure that he had fun and that he had things to occupy his time.

One of the things that hubby and I really enjoy as a couple are wine dinners at local restaurants.  Well, turns out Carnival offers a similar experience on their cruise ships.  It is called the “Chef’s Table” and consists of seven courses along with a couple of wines.

Chef's Table 3

The evening started with our confirmation for the dinner reservation being slipped under the door of our stateroom.  This confirmation included a recommendation that you avoid wearing high heels.  This wasn’t an issue for hubby, but I had to change my whole wardrobe for the evening.  😉

There was a group of eight people attending the dinner.  We all gathered in the lobby and after a brief introduction to “Chef De Cuisine Santosh Kumar,” we headed to the galley.  (No pictures allowed in the galley.) Hors d’oeuvres  were served with champagne while we listened to the Chef tell us about the ship, the numerous kitchens and the various chefs required to pull off feeding 2,600 people for dinner.  (They actually have a person whose main job is to crack 1,000 eggs each night!)  From the galley tour, we met with one of the pastry chefs so we could learn the secret to making Carnival’s most popular dessert, Chocolate Melting Cake.  Just so happened he needed a couple of volunteers to help mix everything together for the cake and I was lucky enough, along with Suzanne – another lady attending the dinner – to be one of those volunteers.  Fitted with our very own chef’s hat, we stepped behind the prep table and promptly went to work.  Once the cake was in the oven, our tour was over.

Chef's hatWe moved as a group back through the dining room to the private room they had set up for our dinner.  There were only eight of us but we had two servers and three chefs, including Chef Santosh and were treated like royalty the rest of the evening.  Our first course was simply tomatoes – but there was nothing simple about these tomatoes!  We had aerated tomato juice (and you thought the only thing people aerated was wine!) which was thick and served on the plate to be eaten with a fork, cocoa butter coated tomatoes and Chardonnay poached tomatoes.  None of these tasted anything like the tomatoes that come from my garden and were all so delicious.  (If anyone reading this has a recipe you want to share with us, I would be glad to post it.  Would love to learn how to prepare the cocoa butter coated tomatoes!)

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The menu consisted of tuna, Cornish hen, bavarois (spinach, green peas, warm turnip and apple juice), salmon, short ribs, and a dessert called “Chocolate 88F” as well as the Warm Chocolate Melting Cake that Suzanne and a I helped make.  Each of these was served as a separate course and paired with a Merlot and a Pinot Grigio.



The tuna was coated with lemon bread crumbs and served with sesame crisp and miso cream avocado gel – great pairing of foods and really good.

The Cornish hen was caramelized and served with butternut squash and was delicious.

The salmon was quite good especially since I (typically) don’t eat fish.  It was served with an herb pesto to dip it in that was heavenly, cured tomatoes and condensed beets.  I will taste any food served at a special event just to say I did, but let’s be clear on this one, after a really bad experience as a child and being forced by a teacher to eat beets, I don’t eat them now.  However, I decided to taste these.  they actually looked like fruit roll-ups so I popped one into my mouth.  But only one – and it is probably the last time I will ever try beets!  Everyone else seemed to like them which indicates it was just me.

The short ribs were from Wagyu, an aged Kobe beef and were served with potato pebbles and pumpkin fudge (probably one of my least favorite items on the menu after the beets – definitely doesn’t taste like it sounds!).

Overall the dinner was great and the evening was fun.  The cost for the Chef’s Table is $75 per person – about what you would pay at any restaurant for a good wine dinner.  Unfortunately we were not offered the option of purchasing any of the wines to bring home, but it was a fun experience with some great people (who shared these pictures with me) and new friends.

New Friends

New Friends

Dinner with Wine & (New) Friends

One of my favorite past times is going to wine dinners hosted by local restaurants!  You get fabulous food, the atmosphere is always fun and festive and you get to try glorious new wines that you might otherwise never get to taste, not to mention all the great people you get to meet.  A glass of wine always breaks the ice and is such a great conversation starter!   The price for the 4 – 5 course meal with a different wine paired with each course is one of the best deals you will ever find, typically a better price than the restaurant’s regular menu.  Then you have the option of purchasing these wines at incredible discounts!!!  We always buy a case.  Chances are we will never have another opportunity to purchase them.

As I was pulling wines out tonight to pair with dinner, I stumbled across a 2007 Reserve Chianti from Coli.  We picked this wine up a couple of years ago at a wine dinner at Meridian in Winston Salem.  I had thought these wines were all gone so I was pleasantly surprised.  It was the perfect accompaniment for the pasta dish hubby had prepared for dinner.

  Chianti Riserva 2007

  Coli Wine Cellars – Tuscany, Italy

  12.5% Alcohol

  Very dry, earthy, licorice with a hint of tobacco

Grapes & Small Plates – A Winston Salem Food & Wine Event

Grapes & Small Plates bursts onto the scene in April to showcase the tastes of Winston Salem at almost 20 area restaurants.  On Tuesday’s and Thursday’s during April, participating, independently owned and operated restaurants will tempt patrons with signature small plates and optional wine selections from the grapes of Carmel Road winery.

Grapes & Small Plates, co-founded by Kyle Agha of New Town Bistro, John Milner of Milner’s American Southern Cuisine, and John Fulp of Noble’s Grille in partnership with Wildfire, LLC, will kickoff its inaugural event on Tuesday, April 3rd at these restaurants:  1703, Bernardin’s Fine Dining, Bleu Restaurant & Bar, The Carriage House Restaurant, Cimarron, Diamondback Grill, Chef Dion Sprenkle, The District Rooftop Bar & Grille, Downtown Thai & Sushi, Full Moon Oyster Bar & Seafood Kitchen, J. Pepper’s Southern Grille, King’s Crab Shack & Oyster Bar, Lucky Blue, Milner’s American Cuisine, Mozelle’s Fresh Southern Bistro, New Town Bistro, Noble’s Grille, Outwest Steakhouse, River Birch Lodge, Village Tavern at Hanes Mall, Village Tavern at Reynolda Village and Willow’s Bistro.

Each week participating restaurants will offer affordable, signature small plates plus an optional Carmel Road wine suggestion to enhance the small plate.  Imagine Large NC fried oysters over a bed of fresh Tega Hills lola rosa and mouthwatering bacon balsamic aioli, or Boguete Mountain coffee-encrusted Heritage Farms braised pork belly with Sea Island red peas and crispy pork chips, paired with a glass of rich, oak-aged Carmel Road Pinot Noir, whispering flavors of red berries, warm spice, earth, chocolate with a long, silky finish.

Noble’s Grille certainly imagines such pairings, in a warm and inviting atmosphere. “It’s really something fun to promote all restaurants in our area and give customers an affordable option to dine,” says John Fulp.

On April 26th, the last Grapes & Small Plates date, all the restaurants will feature North Carolina ingredient inspired small plates and the wines of the Yadkin Valley (YAPA).

Participating customers will have the opportunity to enter into drawings each time they dine for Grapes & Small Plates.  A drawing of all entered guests will be held at the end of the month, with winners receiving prizes including gift cards to participating restaurants and donated items like a brand new chef’s knife set.

“The idea is to give people a chance to taste the flavors of our area restaurants.  We hope that a small plate offering will entice diners who may not otherwise come in because of a pricey perception to come enjoy the various tastes around town.  It’s one way they can support the local restaurant community, have a meal full of variety and as a bonus, maybe they will win something” says Kyle Agha.

 Additional restaurants will be permitted to join in as the event continues to develop.

“If our first attempt is successful, we may plan to do again later in the year. We really want this to grow into something the community looks forward to, that builds better relations with wineries and increases awareness on the many tastes and flavors the Winston area has to offer…affordably” says John Milner.

PepsiCo and Carmel Road Winery are the presenting sponsors of the event.  Eastern Foods is a prize sponsor for the event.


About Grapes & Small Plates

Grapes & Small Plates is a new event that was the brain child of three local restaurant owners and brought to life by Wildfire, a local marketing communications company.  For more information on Grapes & Small Plates, please visit

About Wildfire, LLC

Wildfire is an advertising and marketing agency located in downtown Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Since its founding in 2002, the company has expanded to nearly 50 full-time employees and is the Triad’s third largest marketing-communications firm. In 2007, the company relocated to its current location, a renovated scrap metal warehouse at 709 N. Main Street. Ranked no. 51 in 2009 out of the Top 100 North Carolina Small Businesses in Triad Business Leader, Wildfire represents Hanesbrands, Inc, BB&T, Lowe’s, Wake Forest Athletics, Carolina West Wireless, The Army National Guard, Dixie Classic Fair, among others. In addition, the agency is active with various community organizations including AARF and the North Carolina Triad Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure®. To learn more about Wildfire and see more creative work, visit

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