Thursday, August 25, 2016


Rich Higgins Consultant a la Biere

Meet Planet Grape Guest Panelist/Contributor Rich Higgins, Master Cicerone and Brewmaster.

Rich was the third person in the world to earn the Master Cicerone distinction, the highest of four levels of certification. He is also a Certified Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers.
His consulting practice includes Restaurant Beer Program Implementation, Beer Dinners and Guest Sommelier Events, Brewery Consultation, Retail Beer Store Consultation, Distributor And Sales Staff Trainings, Teaching, Judging, and Corporate Events including Team-building seminars.

Read Rich’s latest beer reviews for Planet Grape here:
2016 The Bruery Poterie Placentia California

Rodenbach Grand Cru Flanders Red Ale Roeselare

Firestone Walker Opal Farmhouse Ale Paso Robles

Duvel Moortgat Duvel Breendonk Antwerp Province

AleSmith San Diego Pale Ale .394 San Diego

Pelican Kiwanda Cream Ale Pacific City

Anchor Porter San Francisco

Anchor Go West! IPA San Francisco

nv Pilsner Urquell Plzen Czech Republic

2013 North Coast Brewing Company Old Stock Ale Fort Bragg California

nv Devils Backbone Vienna Lager Lexington Virginia

@planetgrape  @maltyrich

Wednesday, August 17, 2016



Zinfandel Advocates and Producers, Ron Lewis Photographer
Zinfandel Advocates and Producers, Ron Lewis Photographer

By Liz Thach, MW, Planet Grape

An energized group of Zinfandel fans gathered at Trentadue Winery in Sonoma County this past Sunday for ZAP’s Simply Summer Celebration. ZAP, which stands for “Zinfandel Advocates & Producers” is one of the most active grape varietal organizations in the US, hosting many exciting events for members and guests to enjoy delicious red and white Zinfandel wines.

Sunday’s event featured more than 60 wineries that produce Zinfandel, ranging from such world famous brands as Ridge and Turley to newcomer’s like Angry Bunch and Zialena. Music, beach balls, food trucks and winemaker roundtables kept things hopping as attendees enjoyed the warm Sonoma sun and the spicy taste of Zin.
Joel Peterson, ZinMaster

Check out our reviews of tasty Zins here:

Want to learn more about the Zinfandel grape? Check this out:

Wednesday, August 10, 2016



By Catherine Fallis Master Sommelier, Planet Grape

Please indulge me and let me start out with a little story from my days as Wine Director/Sommelier at a famous Bay area restaurant. One day a new owner appeared, a French Chef who had his own Somm coming in a few months. I felt obligated to stay on, though it became more challenging by the day. 
One evening a group of his chef buddies came in and he was showing off by mixing up the ten course tasting menu. Instead of finishing with the biggest richest meat dish, which was paired with a big bold red, he ended with Bouillabaisse, the traditional Proven├žal fish stew. The classic pairing for this is the crisp white Cassis Blanc, but to end with a light white was something I just couldn’t stomach, so I compromised and brought out Rose de Provence. When Chef saw me pouring it he came right up to my side and said very loudly, “What are you doing? We don’t serve bitch wine here! Take it away.”

At that moment the entire dining room came to a standstill, and I walked quickly away to find something else to offer them. That’s when it hit me. He wasn’t saying “bitch wine.” He was saying “beach wine” but his accent was so thick it came out like “bitch.” Speaking of the beach, and Provence, here are a couple of exotic burger recipes to pair with some sophisticated Rose wines from Provence. The wines are light, crisp, minerally, and fresh and are made of red grapes so they show of the quality of the meat and can handle the tricky toppings. Enjoy!

Asian Inspired Ramen Burger
Farm Egg, Sriracha Hot Sauce, Pickled Radish, Shitake Mushrooms, Serve on a Bun made of Ramen Noodles
Pair with the 2015 Maison Belle Clair Rose Cotes de Provence, $18, which is light, dry, tart and savory with notes of citrus, raspberry, strawberry, peach, pink & yellow rose, violet, cumin and chalk.
2015 Maison Belle Claire Rose Cotes de Provence

Provencal Inspired Burger
Caramelized Onion, Arugula, Fig Spread, Goat Cheese or Brie, Serve on a Brioche Bun
étiquette Mas de Cadenet Rosé 2015
Pair with the 2015 Mas de Cadenet Rose Cotes de Provence Sainte-Victoire, $22, brisk, bone dry and age worthy with notes of Aperol, orange peel, pink rose, black pepper, and sea spray.
2015 Mas de Cadenet Rose Cotes de Provence Sainte-Victoire

Southwestern Inspired Burger
Grilled Jalapeno Peppers, BBQ Sauce, Fried Shallots, Pepper Jack Cheese, Avocado, Serve on a Pretzel Bun
Pair with the 2015 Chateau Pigoudet Coteaux d’Aix en Provence, $15, light, tart, fresh and dry with notes of lemon, lime, just ripe guava, sage, brush and crushed rock.
2015 Chateau Pigoudet Classic Rose Coteaux d’Aix en Provence

Images, recipes and wines provided by Vins de Provence France and Calhoun & Company Communications. Bon Appetit!

Thursday, August 4, 2016


By Master Sommelier Catherine FallisMontepulciano

With so many clonal names like Brunello, Sangioveto and Prugnolo Gentile, in Italy, and around the world, Sangiovese is still Sangiovese. The grape is the grape. So wouldn’t it make sense that across to the Adriatic coast in Abruzzo, Montepulciano the grape would be the grape in Vino Nobile di Montepulciano back in Tuscany? But alas, the grape in Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is none other than Sangiovese.

How is this possible? Chalk it up to competing wines, one the “noble wine” of a town far less famous than Chianti or Montalcino in Tuscany, and then the adaptation of the use of the noble wine’s place name as the grape name in the even lesser known and more remote Abruzzo region.

Both grapes are similar, producing mid-weight, fresh lemony wines with notes of cherry, licorice, leather, and dried herbs, though the best Montepulciano grape wines also show a distinct note of dark chocolate or carob.

Here is a tasting exercise to showcase Montepulciano the region vs. Montepulciano the grape.
Serve each wine on its own, then with truffle-accented filet mignon or rib eye or mushroom risotto.

2011 Masciarelli Marina Cvetic Montepulciano d’Abruzzo

2013 Avignonesi Vino Nobile di Montepulciano

Thursday, July 28, 2016


Credit Weimax
Credit Weimax
Rose is chic and easy when it comes to sunny summer entertaining, but to take it up a notch, add Champagne. After all, the ultra chic Madame Lily Bollinger famously said,

“I drink it when I’m happy and when I’m sad. Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I’m not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise, I never touch it – unless I’m thirsty.”

– Lily Bollinger (October 17, 1961)

Enjoy these selections from the nearly 200-year old French estate:
Bollinger Special Cuvee Brut Champagne Half Bottle

Bollinger Special Cuvee Brut Champagne

Bollinger Brut Rose Champagne Half Bottle

Bollinger Brut Rose Champagne

2004 Bollinger La Grande Annee Brut Champagne

Read our reviews of Champagne and Sparkling wine here:

Wednesday, July 20, 2016


Summertime, and the living is easy. What better time than now to try a few wines in that portable package, the box?
Today's box wine is everything from organic French Chardonnay to premium Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Pick up a few different boxes just for fun. Write down the name of the wine and price, then your comments on the wine's color, aromas and taste.
Then take the box and fill a couple of attractive glass carafes and set the wine on the table. This is where the true test comes in. If your guests enjoy this wine and you do too, you have a winner!

Thursday, July 14, 2016


Business of the Sommelier ADV EXAM PHX
After a grueling three days of exams, including a timed blind tasting of six wines, a practical tableside service exam with multiple tables to attend to, a Business of the Sommelier written exam and spirits tasting and finally a theory exam, 24 of 72 candidates made it through to become Advanced Sommeliers last night at the Palomar Cityscape Hotel in Phoenix.

Congratulations to those who passed, to all my fellow Master Sommeliers for a smooth program, to the venue and staff, and finally huge kudos to Court of Master Sommeliers Education Directors Shayn Bjornholm and Melissa Monosoff on the ground and CMS Executive Director Kathleen Lewis for her behind-the-scenes logistics management and support.
Blind Tasting
And to those who did not pass this time, take a little break and then work on your game plan for the next time. We will be waiting to celebrate with you!


Catherine Fallis Master Sommelier

@mastersommus #AdvSommExam