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Wine Tips from Featured Sommelier Jesse Rodriguez of Addison—San Diego, CA on

Ask the Sommelier with Sarah Valor of Commis — Oakland, CA

Like many in the restaurant business, Sarah Valor began working as a server to pay her way through school. While studying rhetoric at UC Berkeley, she became intrigued by the communication systems of restaurants. But it was the craft of wine and the history of the people making it that grabbed her interest for the long term.

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Q:We are having a dinner for 20 friends and main entrees are Teriyaki Salmon and a warm chicken pasta with cream sauce. Can you suggest a white and red wine on the inexpensive end of the spectrum?

A:Hello Carolyn,

I hope this message is not arriving too late for you.

Both dishes you mention have a bit of texture, richness and weight to them. That said, I would suggest a medium bodied, mineral rich, new world wine for a white. Perhaps the Leo Steen Chenin Blanc, Saini Farms, Dry Creek Valley 2009. For a red I would select a pinot noir with a bit of structure. Perhaps the Esmonin Haute Cote du Nuit 2007. The supple fruit, soft tannin structure and earth/mineral underpinnings will be lovely match (for different reasons) with both dishes. The wines should be under $20 each.

--by Sarah Valor


A:Well Nancy,
I don't know much, but I do know this...dress according to local weather and customs, but usually a workplace dress or pants outfit is appropriate. An outside tea, if indicated, calls for a bit less formality; consider wearing a sundress or nice shorts, for example. Whe in doubt about anything etiquette wise look up Emily Post online or refer to Tiffany's etiquette book. That should provide you with a good starting point. I hope this helps.

--by Jesse Rodriguez
--Addison at the Grand Del Mar

Q:1.which wine will go best with chicken enchilidas?
2.which wine pairs best with mexican skirt steak?
3.with fajitas?
4.mexican beef stew?
5.gazpacho mexican cold veg soup?
6.shrimp salad?
7.steak tacos?

mary anne,
A:Mary Anne, now we are talking! Nothing makes me smile like killer Mexican food!
This is what I'm thinking...
Chicken Enchiladas- Italian Pinot Grigio
Skirt Steak- Trocken Riesling from Germany
Fajitas- A big Margarita!
Beef Stew- Rose from Bandol France
Gazpacho- German Kabinett Riesling
Shrimp Salad- Sauvignon Blanc from Sancerre
Steak tacos- Gruner from Austria
Burritos- a cold cerveza!

--by Jesse Rodriguez
--Addison at the Grand Del Mar

Q:What would be a good side dish to serve at a potluck wine tasting? We will be tasting Merlots.

I love to comfort food. How does this sound? eggplant casserole with lamb sausage and panko on the top toasted in the oven, yum, yum! another option would be cured meats with some hard cheese like Hooks 10 year cheddar!

--by Jesse Rodriguez
--Addison at the Grand Del Mar

Q:Does the Sommelier use a certain kind of spoon to taste the wine before serving?

Pat Rose,
A:Hi Pat!
Not necessarily. If you are speaking to the "bling" they sport around their neck then that is what is called a tastevin. It's origins are in burgundy it was used as a way to view color pigmentation of a wine since the cellars are so dark. The tastevin is bright silver and when you hold a candle next to it you can see all the shimmering tones of yummy Burgundy! These days we like a nice young aromatice white wine glass. For me, it seems to do the trick every time!

--by Jesse Rodriguez
--Addison at the Grand Del Mar

Q:I need some italin wines to pair with the following courses.
1) Carpaccio
2) Minestrone Soup
3) Combo (one plate) Lamb chop & Padana steak rubbed with heavy pepper and spices (italian style)

Would like to stay with Italian wines if possible. However, am open if you have a really good idea. Price not an issue...need good wines.

Here you are!
Carpaccio- Try Friuliano Bianco from Scarpetta. Bobby Stuckey and his business partner Lachlan-MacKinnon Patterson do this right!
Minestrone Soup- Garganega from Soave. Gini does a great rendition of this.
Combo Plate Lamb Chop and Padana Steak- I love the wines from Uccelliera (The Birdcage is what it translates to) The Rosso di Montalcino (baby Brunello) is amazing and the Brunello is magical!

--by Jesse Rodriguez
--Addison at the Grand Del Mar


I am not a wine drinker, but I am going to be making a pasta dish that has fennel, and italian sausage in it. The recipe calls for a dry white wine. I have no idea what to buy. Any help?

Friuliano Bianco is where to go. This is the common wine consumed In Friuli-Venezia-Guilia. With it's medium-body profile and tones of peach and lemon verbena this wine has medium plus acid and would fit the bill here. ANother option would be garganega from Soave. This wine has a medium plus body with a slight nutty profile. The course you are talking about really speaks to Italy so I would stay with that country when looking for wines.

--by Jesse Rodriguez
--Addison at the Grand Del Mar

Q:I seek a list of entrees that could be served with various wines, ie. What would wok well with California Merlo other than red meaat?

Well Merlot goes with alot of different foods. Rich sauces that have a tomato base (Acid) and perhaps earth elements such as mushrooms. Now if you add a nice amount of pasta (Gnocchi/ Tortellini/ etc, etc)and some shaved hard cheese on top and you have a nice vegetarian course. If you like Pizza (who doesn't like Pie?) that would be another nice fit.

--by Jesse Rodriguez
--Addison at the Grand Del Mar

Q:What would be a good inexpensive wine to serve at a party? I want to bring a versitile red and white wine.

Jennifer Selkirk,
A:Hi there Jennifer!
Okay so what I think would work is Italian white and red. Think Roero Arneis from Piedmonte and Sangiovese from The Marche, both wines are great! The Arneis would be a nice start up front and the Sangiovese from The Marche will please anyone that likes a light-medium bodied red to quaff back!

--by Jesse Rodriguez
--Addison at the Grand Del Mar

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