Moving is never any fun, and trust me when I say it’s more arduous the older you get. We recently moved, albeit a short distance, just 11 miles. On the plus side, the new place has a fabulous backyard with a pool! I couldn’t think of a better way to break in our new digs than by inviting friends over for wine tasting. Late summer is quite warm in Southern California, so on a balmy evening about 20 of us gathered at tables on the patio to eat, drink and celebrate the new place.

WINEormous wine tastingWhat better way to celebrate than with bubbles? We kicked things off with Ferrari Trento Prosecco, the official sparkling wine of the 69th Emmy Awards. We popped a bottle of the Brut. I loved its delicate nose and soft bubbles with nice acidity. Virginia gave it a perfect five-star score, calling it light and sparkly. Mike enjoyed the nose and tangy finish. Brian said “doesn’t disappoint. Great stuff.” A few remarked they had enjoyed better for less money. At $23, it averaged just under four out of five stars.

Next we tasted the 2016 Alamos Torrontes from Argentina. Not everyone was familiar with the Torrontes grape, but I’ve been a fan for years. From the high elevation Salta region, Jim found it too sweet. Ken enjoyed pear, lemon and green apple on the nose as well as its nice smooth taste. I found the nose floral with a fruit forward taste, but not sweet. Mark said it was “grapefruity.” Mike liked the lingering finish and said “sign me up for a case.” Kim called it a great everyday wine at a great price, $13. It also garnered nearly four stars.

Moving on to reds we opened the 2016 Chateau de Capitans Juliénas from France. Dena called it bright in color, mild on the nose, yet bold on the palate. Kim picked up lots of cherries and dark fruit, noting that it wasn’t sweet. Mike found it easy to drink. Brian called it “lovely” with ripe fruits on the nose and then in the mouth. Kathy said it was smooth. I thought it was fruit forward with a pretty tart nose. Made from the Gamay grape, our tasters were all over the map with this $18 wine and gave it about three and a half stars.

We progressed to three California wines, the first one a 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon called Ravage. Blended with bits of Merlot, Zinfandel and a few other grapes and aged in 100% new French oak, Ken thought it was overbearing. It was a bit on the sweet side for me, but for $10 I was willing to give it a little credit. Virginia picked up pomegranate and said it was smooth. Mike called it inky with a fruit nose and a cherry finish. Dena said it was yummy. At $10, it scored around three stars.

We tasted a Sonoma County wine, the 2014 Besieged from Ravenswood. A blend of Petite Sirah, Carignane, Zinfandel, Syrah, Alicante Bouschet and Barbera, Virginia gave it five stars and said she loved it. Jim called it “by far the best of the night,” adding it played well with food. Mike liked the nose and fruity finish. Lisa remarked on its smokey nose. Dena also gave it five stars and said she loved it. It scored just over four stars and you should be able to find it for around $13.

On a recent visit to the Santa Maria Valley I brought back the 2013 Grevino Dolcetto from Ca’ Del Grevino. Ken called it his favorite of the evening and enjoyed the dark cherry, nice blueberry and finish. Jean said it needed time to open up, but enjoyed the fruit on the palate. Kathy gave it four and a half stars and called it her favorite, too. I really enjoyed its balance. Jim said “I like it and this is not a grape I’m very excited about.” It racked up more than a few perfect scores and averaged close to four and a half stars. Expect to pay around $55 for it.

We adjourned to a crackling fire in the chiminea, looking forward to our next gathering.

Tom Plant launched WINEormous in 2009 and is a member of the International Food Wine and Travel Writers Association. Based in Temecula, California, he offers intimate winery tours for no more than seven people. Tour details and pricing are available at Call now to book your Temecula Winery Tour at (951) 907-9701! Ask about special discounts.