Wine Tasting |Tips for Hosting & Celebrating #NationalWineDay w/ @MercerEstates @Orrmanscheese

This past Sunday, May 21, we celebrated National Chardonnay Day with friends. And since tomorrow is National Wine Day, I am dedicating today’s #WineWednesday post to sharing with you tips on How to Host a Wine Tasting at Home.

There was 5 of us ladies, with my husband serving as our private Sommelier. We had an amazing experience and learned so much about Mercer Estates Winery, who were kind to send four of their wines for editorial sampling.  I am happy to share some tips for hosting your own wine tasting at home along with my review of Mercer Estates wines. CHEERS! 🍷

How to Host a Wine Tasting

  • Keep Guest List small <6 people 

      For me, keeping the guest list small allows for a more intimate gathering where we could all have fun sharing each others wine notes. Plus, there was more wine to go around. Each guests got a pen/notepad for tasting notes, a goodie bag with a Chardonnay scented candle (both from Dollar Tree!) and a Guide to Wine which is available for free at our local Total Wine.

      • Decorations 

        I kept it simple and used wine corks (that we collect for fun) as a centerpiece, along with fun finds from the Dollar Tree and Ross. Everyone loved the chalkboard table runner I used which I purchased from World Market. It allowed me to easily label the wine /cheese.

        • Food ..well cheese mostly!

        We recently picked some strawberries at a local farm (check out this video I made of that family fun day), so I had those available along with other berries and grapes. I picked up an assortment of jams from Ross, crackers from World Market, and kept the menu light with hummus, bread, assorted nuts, and shrimp cocktail. 

        Because this was a wine and cheese party, I did not have to do much food prep. I opted to look to Orrman’s Cheese Shop, located in Lafayette Village here in Raleigh,NC and also in Charlotte,NC, where Rachel assisted in selecting some great cheeses to pair with the wines. I picked it up the day before the party and offered the following to guests:

        “Tome Chebris” ~It’s a firm cheese made from goat and sheep’s milk. It has a grassy, tangy, nutty flavor with a sweet finish and hints of olive, hazelnut and fig. This one was everyone’s fave!

        “Sofia”~This goat cheese won 1st Place, American Cheese Society 2014. I enjoyed it with the berries and crackers with preserves.

        “Florys Truckle”~ it’s a hard cheddar cheese with a dry texture and these flavor notes: buttery, caramel, fruity, grassy, nutty
        I loved the rich aroma.

        “Roquefort Gabriel Coulet”~This Roquefort is a creamy, delicious blue cheese made from raw sheep’s milk and aged in special caves in the Roquefort region of France. We put this on some bread and it was great!

        • Wine

        Mercer Estates Winery from the Horse Heaven Hills of Washington state provided SobeSavvy.com with an assortment of wines for tasting. This family owned and operated winery are eco friendly and operate sustainable farming for their vineyards.

        The four types of wine being featured at our tasting were Mercer Estates white wines: Chardonnay & Sauvignon Blanc and Mercer Canyons red wines: Red Blend and Cabernet Sauvignon. We pointed out that the red wines are in newly designed bottles and have new, expressive labels but same great wine inside! We also shared that the 2 whites we were sampling are the first white wines to hail from the Horse Heaven Hills appellation and are great spring/summer wines.  

        We had our guests take their own tasting notes after sampling each wine so they could actually take home a sort of scorecard of their own for them to use when they buy their own Mercer Wine for their homes. Eager participants always make a wine tasting even more fun. Before long folks were yelling out their notes as if we were on a game show!

        After tasting each wine, my husband read them the official tasting notes of each to see how close they were with the REAL notes. We served from white to red in the following order:

        Mercer Estates Sauvignon Blanc 2015 – Horse Heaven Hills, $12.99 SRP, 12.5% alcohol, 100% Sauvignon Blanc. This wine is bursting with aromas of grapefruit, lychee, passion fruit and boxwood.  The voluminous aromatics carry through in the mouth with flavors of gooseberry and citrus.  Capturing the fruit at its peak ripeness has resulted in a wine with both bold fruit and racy, mouth-watering acidity.  Clean, crisp, light-bodied and refreshing.   

        Mercer Estates Chardonnay 2015 – Horse Heaven Hills, $12.99 SRP, 13.9% alcohol, 100% Chardonnay.  This elegant Chardonnay opens with notes of fresh pineapples and lemon meringue pie with hints of lemon-lime zest.  Ripe orchard fruits surrounded by notes of sweet vanilla and honey flavors create a lush, juicy mouth feel.  The restrained ML fermentation has produced a wine that has bright acidity with clean fruit on the finish.  

        Mercer Canyons Red Blend 2014 – Horse Heaven Hills, $13.99 SRP, 13.9% alcohol.  Blend:  59% Merlot, 16% Syrah, 10% Grenache, 7% Sangiovese, 6% Petit Verdot, 2% Viognier. Individual vineyard lots of Merlot and Syrah were fermented separately and barrel aged in a combination of French and American oak.  The resulting wine is bursting with ripe black cherry and plum with notes of caramel, coffee and smoke.  A balance of plush fruit and powdery tannins in the mid-palate lead into a long lingering finish with notes of bing cherry and spice.
        Mercer Canyons Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 – Horse Heaven Hills, $13.99 SRP, 13.9% alcohol.  Blend:  77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot, 2% Viognier.   This warm vintage gave us ripe Cabernet Sauvignon with aromas of ripe black fruit with a hint of cassis.  The voluminous fruit carries through in the mouth.  Barrel aging the wine brings hints of warm baking spices and adds depth and complexity.  Powdery tannins give structure to the wine while maintaining an elegant, balanced mouth feel.  This wine shows great expression of the Horse Heaven Hills terroir.

        We all agreed that Mercer Wines were delightful and delicious as a cocktail and quite enjoyable with food. It is no wonder that Mercer Wines was awarded 2026 Washington Winery of the Year! 

        SobeSavvy Tip: Sign up for their “Carma Club” member program >> They offer case discounts and special access to twice a year releases!
        All 4 wines are available nationwide and if you would like more information, check out their website: http://www.MercerWine.com

        I hope you found some helpful hosting tips for your next wine tasting party at home as well as some new wines and cheeses to try!

        Until next time,  🍷Cheers🍷

        Photo Recap @IGotSprung #IGotSprung @SWARM_EventAgency @GrillinNChillinBBQ #GrillinNChillin

        In South Florida, seasons are just dates on a calendar so it’s hard to know when one season ends and another begins. Sobesavvy’s South Florida Correspondent Erika LJ spent the weekend in the dynamic Wynwood neighborhood of Miami attending two premiere festivals.

        One of the best ways to know when spring arrives is because you know the Sprung Spring Beer tasting festival returns http://www.igotsprung.com/. Held in Wynwood this festival featured over 300 craft beers from local, national and international breweries. We Enjoyed live music, food and challenge games all day. We also learned from Miami’s top chefs in their Kitchen Lab with food and beer pairing demonstrations. The weather was warm and humid and the beer was ice cold. People came for fun and they all let loose and partied.

        ElJ rested up and attended the the 3rd annual Chillin and Grillin BBQ Festival. http://www.wynwoodbbqfest.com/ This festival showcased a myriad of BBQ styles. Memphis, Texas, or Kansas City barbecue to Brazilian Churrasco and the well-known Argentine Parrillada style to name a few. Everyone has their favorite BBQ and this was the only place to be this past Sunday. The pit masters had a friendly competition and this event is also so family friendly they had a family fun zone with a bounce house , stilt walkers and rock climbing wall ! Those more adventurous tried their hand at mechanical bull riding ! A fun time was had by all.

        2 #Miami Events in April You Don’t Want to Miss + Giveaway ! Hint: Beer, BBQ, Fun #SobeSavvyGiveaway

        Miami, Save the Date and Get Tix Now to 2 Fun Events happening April 1 & April 2 

        Sprung Craft Beer Festival and Grillin N Chillin are both being held at the RC Cola Plant in Wynwood. SobeSavvy.com readers have a chance to enter HERE to win tix to these must go to festivals. There will be TWO winners ( 1 winner for each festival) selected at random on 3/24/17 to receive the following:

        Sprung: 1 winner ~(2) Beer Socialite tix (which includes early entry, a backpack and 1 souvenir pint glass)

        TICKETS & INFO:

        $45 at the door (general admission). Pre-purchased ticket options include Beer Socialite ($70) and VIP ($90); both come with additional perks. To purchase tickets online, go to www.SprungBeerFest.com.


        Grillin’: 1 winner ~ (4) general admission tix

        TICKETS & INFO:

        FREE for kids under 12, $15  (general admission). $25 Family Pack (2 Adults) To purchase tickets online, go to www.WynwoodBBQFest.com.

        Be sure to follow SWARM , Sprung! and GrillinNChillin via @IGotSprung, #IGotSprung, @SWARM_EventAgency, @GrillinNChillinBBQ, #GrillinNChill… And @SobeSavvy for an event recap of all the beer and bbq fun! Don’t be a April’s Fool and miss out on these two festivals. Hope to see you there and Good Luck!

        Photo Recap 5th Annual Bull City Food & Beer Experience @BullCityEXP @DPAC #Durham #soNCsavvy

        Unlimited Craft beer samples, unlimited gourmet food in a luxurious setting ? Where can this be found you say ? It was at the 5th annual Bull City Food & Beer Experience http://www.bullcityexperience.com/ Held at the fabulous DPAC in Durham. This one of a kind event took place in the lobbies of all 3 floors of the venue. Every imaginable beer was represented here from 35 breweries and a plethora of gourmet bites from 35 restaurants in and around Durham were sampled alongside the suds.
        FOOD

        BEER

        Guests had 3.5 hours to stroll, eat , drink and repeat . It was a festive atmosphere and people came to have fun and talk beer. Some were beer novices and some were experts. The breweries pouring were very informative and educational. Who knew so much goes into a can or a bottle ? Grapefruit beer, apple cider and tangerine beer were just a few of the interesting types on tap

        Everyone in attendance got to keep their tasting glass as a reminder of this wonderful event. Be sure to get your tickets early when they go on sale for next year. They sell out fast. Cheers !

        Check out scenes from this year’s fun event here>>> https://youtu.be/yuJOjcUBuZM

        #Baltimore ,Feast Your Eyes on FEASTIVAL~Photos of #Feastival4CF @FSBaltimore @CFF_Maryland

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        On Saturday, June 11, 2016, SobeSavvy.com joined fellow foodies for an afternoon filled with food and fun at an event called FEASTIVAL – A Food Adventure for a Cure benefitting the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation – Maryland Chapter.

        The Waterfront Promenade at the Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore was the perfect setting for this unique culinary experience. Guests had the chance to feast on delectable bites by Baltimore’s hottest culinary talent, including Harbor East’s newest restaurant, Loch Bar, as well as Wit & Wisdom, Azumi, Colette, Encantada, and many more. Sunshine, blue skies and beautiful waterfront views were also on the menu while sipping stylish cocktails and craft brews! This epicurean adventure was held for a great cause allowing foodies, chefs, mixologists and philanthropists to join in the fight to finding a cure for CF.
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        AMBASSADOR KATHARINE SCRIVENER says “Advances continue to be made in finding a cure, but your help is needed now – more than ever – to help keep up the momentum.” The public’s continuing support are needed to help accelerate efforts to pursue a lifelong cure for this fatal disease, develop lifesaving new therapies and help all people with CF live full, productive lives.

        See here to make a donation and be sure to follow on Facebook
        and Instagram @Feastivalbaltimore @cff_Maryland to stay up to date.

        Feast your eyes on these photos taken at Feastival ..as seen on the scene by SobeSavvy.com !

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        Photos of @Britweek #britweekLA Event ~Cocktails by @absolutelyx with @JuliaClancey at #AuFudge

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        On May 7, 2016, invited guests attended BritWeek LA ‘s Afternoon Cocktails with Julia Clancey and her Muses”.

        The last time I was able to celebrate BritWeek was in 2014 in Miami for a couple of events , see here , in cluding their closing party. I remembered Britweek events are not only fun but a good time to celebrate creativity and innovation between Britain and the states. This time I was able to join the celebration in Los Angeles, California over cocktails with fashion designer, Julia Clancey !
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        Julia showcased her luxury resort collection throughout the afternoon. Models and guests wore her designs which allowed for an up close and personal view of the beautiful garments. Clancey describes her aesthetic as glamorous and fun, and says her clothes are “floaty and very feminine based on silk georgettes, chiffons and satins.”
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        We enjoyed signature cocktails courtesy of Absolut Elyx served in the most unique copper drinkware shaped like a pineapple. I briefly spoke with Lindsay Nadar, Brand Agent fot Absolut Elyx who advised the pineapple , the symbolic fruit of hospitality, is available for purchase.
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        High Tea delights from Au Fudge, Jessica Biel’s new shabby chic, kid friendly restaurant in Beverly Hills , were served during the event and I got to meet a few of the @TheBloggerBabes who were there to show some social media love. Follow hashtags #Britweek10th #Britweek2016 #thebloggerbabes to see more highlights from this fabulous event!

        Enjoy my photo slideshow recap here, shared by Julia Clancey via Instagram.

        Cheers!

        Photographs of @MiamiRumFest 2016 #RumIsFun #MiamiRumFest ~Recap by #SobeSavvy .com

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        From April 15th thru 17th,  Rum producers from all over the world came to the 2016 Miami Rum Festival & Trade Expo to introduce new products, meet with importers and distributers, buyers and retailers, as well as consultants on the distillation, packaging and marketing of rum worldwide. Presented by Rob’s Rum Guide, this event truly shows how rum is experiencing a Renaissance of appreciation. Savvy consumers come to the grand tasting events to discover a truly remarkable range of fine rums from the Caribbean region, as well as North, Central and South America, Europe, Asia — and from the furthest reaches of the world.
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        For consumers who know #RumIsFun, the Miami Rum Renaissance Festival is one of the world’s premier international rum events, presenting a unique and exciting range of great rums to be sampled. For professionals, this is the world’s largest and most important trade exposition for rum. Attendees enjoyed a grand three-day exhibition of the best rum brands, the excitement of the Island Lifestyle Showcase, celebrity seminars, workshops and cocktail competitions, the annual RumXP competition and awards, an opportunity to rub shoulders with dignitaries and notable experts, and more! New this year was the VIP Tasting Bar where you can purchase tickets for rare, vintage, limited edition luxury rums from private collections.
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        Be sure to mark your calendar for April 22-23, 2017 and makes plans to celebrate the Renaissance of Rum! Enjoy my rum-loving photos from the 8th Miami Rum Festival & International Trade Expo!
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        Ran into 2 of my faves..James Echols and Annette Piekert from http://www.SoulofMiami.org and http://www.lifeisartfest.org
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        Also got to meet the trade expo host, Robert A. Burr inside the VIP tasting bar
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