Summer Wine Warm-Up

You can never have too many wine bars with a sense of humor.

That’s what popped to mind as I was reading about Casa Vino, a newer wine-centric outpost in South Berkeley. There’ s a serious wine list (80 wines by the glass) at this bistro and wine bar.

I’ll drop by someday soon, probably at happy hour for the $2/glass discount, and check out the selections. I think I’m going to like a place that refers to itself as being in the real gourmet ghetto of Berkeley, a tongue-in-cheek reference to the foodie-focused Shattuck Avenue neighborhood near the cult restaurant Chez Panisse.

North to Napa

Here’s a spur of the moment suggestion that involves a quick trip to Napa before the onslaught of summertime visitors.

Check out the Rutherford Passport Weekend on Saturday and Sunday (May 7-8).

There are 11 wineries — including Alpha Omega, Beaulieu Vineyards, and Conn Creek  — offering special food and wine selections. Tickets are $75.

Odd Whites in Back Room

I really wanted to attend a tasting of rose wines at Back Room Wines in downtown Napa Friday (May 6), but just couldn’t make the schedule work.

I am planning ahead to check out another event there next Friday (May 13) when the focus is on unusual white wines

One of my personal goals this year is to taste as many different white wine varietals as possible. The Back Room tasting (5-8 p.m.) features six picks from global sources for $10.

Serious Pink

While not a white wine, I did enjoy a full-bodied rose the other night.

I was looking for something to drink with a dish of lemongrass chicken and tried an Italian-style rosato from Benessere Vineyards, a winery I wrote about in an earlier blog. It wasn’t a good fit with the food, but I liked the style and it tasted great.

This was not a delicate flower of a wine. It’s color reminded me of a simple beaujolais, but it tasted fuller, more substantial. While a beaujolais is made from gamay grapes, this rosato is made from sangiovese and merlot.

To get the lighter style, the winemaker needs juice with a lighter color. He gets it by draining off some of the juice fairly early in the fermentation process — before it can pick up much color from the red grape skins — and then completing the production of the finished wine in steel or wooden barrels.

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