A Toast to Alan Rickman

We at Wine Star Services, along with the vast majority of America, are Alan Rickman fans and are saddened to know that we won’t get to experience any new cinematic delights like those he has given us over the years. But we do get to relive and re-experience the moments he has left us with… including this one when he played Steven Spurrier, a sommelier, in the movie, Bottle Shock. I love how his character reflects on wine in this moment of the movie:

“Wine is sunlight held together by water.” The poetic wisdom of the Italian physicist, philosopher and stargazer, Galileo Galilei. It all begins with the soil, the vine, the grape. The smell of the vineyard. Like inhaling birth. It awakens some ancestral – some primordial – anyway, some deeply imprinted, and probably subconscious place in my soul.


Cheers to you, Alan Rickman, and for making this contribution to the wine-loving world.


Wine-olutions : Resolutions.  TomAYto : TomAHto.

Perhaps it is not surprising that Winos and Wine-Knows alike make New Year’s wine-olutions. There’s remarkable similarity in these annual self-improvement goals to common New Year’s resolutions… So I thought I’d share a few of my wine-olutions with all my wine friends.

2016 Wine-olutions


  1. Exercise the Palate More. Just like the rest of the body, it’s important to keep that palate working out consistently. Daily is optimal, but at minimum, I am holding myself to at least 3 palate workouts a week.
  2. Keep the Wine Fridge Organized. We all know it is important to keep the wine fridge well stocked with “every day” wines as well as some “special” wines. My household doesn’t struggle with this, but I think it is still important to maintain this as a priority… so it is on the list.
  3. Enjoy Healthy Food & Wine Pairings. Some people make a resolution to eat healthier in the new year. I’m all for that, but my goal will be to ensure my food pairs well with my wine…  that it is a healthy pairing. (If the meal is actually healthy, that’s a bonus.) The wine is always the star of the meal at Wine Star, so I’ll be spending more time seeking out recipes that accompany the wine of choice for the evening.
  4. Travel More (via Wine). Exploring the world through wine is obviously one of the best ways to (virtually) travel. I’ll gladly go to wine country in any part of the world, but to ensure this wine-olution is achievable and realistic (in true S.M.A.R.T. goal fashion), I’ll commit to visiting different parts of the world one glass of wine at a time.
  5. Maximize Wine Star Experiences. A #WineStarExperience is one of those moments when we connect with friends, family, or strangers… and when those moments are enhanced by wine. THIS is what Wine Star is all about.  And this is what we seek to accomplish with every event – personal or professional.

Of course, I’d love to accomplish all of these goals with my wine-loving friends via Wine Star events and tasting experiences… in the meantime, please feel free to share your 2016 wine-olutions in the comments!! I know they’re out there.

It’s Summer! Drink Sauvignon Blanc.


Happy Summer, Winos! Those of us who live in the Phoenix, Arizona area have been experiencing summer for a solid 3 months. From now until September, we accept “Excessive Heat Warnings” of over 110 degrees as just another summer day.

Whether you are experiencing excessive heat or just regular ol’ “hot and humid”, nothing goes better with heat than refreshing alcoholic beverages. And I presume that wine is your alcoholic beverage of choice. One of the most refreshing wines to sip on by the pool or beach is Sauvignon Blanc.

Q: Is “Sauvignon Blanc” a grape varietal or a region?


A: Grape varietal.

Wines made from primarily one grape varietal are often referred to by their varietal. E.g. [the bracketed words are not usually stated.] “That bottle of [wine made from] Sauvignon Blanc [grapes] has a lovely balance of fruit flavors and minerality.”

Like many grapes, Sauvignon Blanc can result in a large range of flavor and style in the bottle depending on where it is grown and how it is made. A Sauvignon Blanc from France, for example, has a different flavor profile than that of California. Sure, there are common characteristics across the board, but understanding the differences helps us refine our palates. Here’s a quick look at the different flavor profiles between each of the key regions that produce Sauvignon Blanc.

Note: There are, of course, more regions that make Sauvignon Blanc. For the sake of blog posting length, I’m just covering these primary SB growing areas!

General Characteristics of Sauvignon Blanc:

Dry, white wine that is typically light to medium bodied and has an herbal undertone. From there, the wine can have fruity, floral, and/or smoky characteristics.


  • Region: Loire Valley
  • On the Label: “Sancerre” or “Pouilly-Fumé”
  • Typical Flavors: Herbal, Smokey (gunflint)
  • Typical Characteristics: Crisp, Focused, Elegant

WINE-KNOW PAUSE: Ok – are you thinking… “Gunflint’?! What the heck kind of flavor is that?!” Well, think smoky, but that sort of metallic smokiness that you can smell after shooting a cap. This is caused by the kind of soil/gravel that the vines grow in!

  • Region: Bordeux
  • On the Label: Graves
  • Note: White wines from Graves are a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and another grape called Semillon. This changes the flavor profile quite a bit.
  • Typical Flavors: Honey, Minerals
  • Typical Characteristics: Rich, Round, Bright

Note about “On the Label”: European/French wines don’t always include the grape varietal (“Sauvignon Blanc”) on the label, so look for a white wine with these words on the label. They are regions that make white wine with Sauvignon Blanc.

New Zealand

  • Region: Hawkes Bay, Marlborough
  • On the Label: Sauvignon Blanc
  • Typical Flavors: Grapefruit, Limes, Herbs, Melons
  • Typical Characteristics: Crisp, Focused, Sharp

(I know – this is quite a range! But think green fruit and herbs)


  • Region: Napa Valley, Sonoma
  • What to look for on the label: “Sauvignon Blanc” or “Fumé Blanc” (<<it’s the same)
  • Typical Flavors: Citrus/Grapefruit, Melon, Herbal
  • Typical Characteristics: Refreshing, Vibrant, Clean


  • Region: Casablanca Valley, Maipo Valley
  • Typical Flavors: Melon, Floral
  • Typical Characteristics: Light, Fresh, Some Minerality
  • Note: Can be made from a different and similar grape called “Sauvignon Vert” or “Sauvignonasse”, but labeled Sauvignon Blanc.

South Africa, Italy, and Austria are also known for producing lovely Sauvignon Blanc.

Go get out there in the hot summer sun and taste the differences between regional Sauvignon Blancs! I think you’ll be quite surprised at how easily you’ll be able to pick up both the commonalities AND the differences. (Of course, Wine Star Services is always happy to help with such comparative wine tastings!)


Sauvignon Blanc At A Glance

Sauvignon Blanc At A Glance


Winos Like Us…. Show Up (#8)

Today is day 8 of the #RuckusMakersChallenge and an 8-day series on how Winos like us connect with the world over a glass of wine…

I MADE IT TO DAY #8 OF THE 8 DAY CHALLENGE!! Thank goodness we got here.  There have been a number of other people posting over the last 8 days – just search #RuckusMakersChallenge and you’ll find some inspiring, motivating, soul-searching, and sincere words being shared out there.

Some of you may have noticed that I go in writing spurts with the W2WK.  I find I’m either consistently posting or not at all. After 8 days of dreaming up content that related to wine and connection with the world around us (for that’s what Winos Like Us are all about), today I find myself wanting to write more about showing up (with or without a glass of wine in hand). I’ve showed up to my WordPress dashboard for the past 8 days. And I’m really happy I have – because it is one way that I connect with people and get to explore random info about wine.

BUT…. I admit that I’ve also used the blogging challenge as an excuse to not show up to other stuff in the past 8 days. And guess what those things are… [the answer is easy.] It’s the stuff that I often (or consistently) avoid because I’m a bit afraid of executing… of leaping. So when my husband or my close friends ask me, “what did you do to make a ruckus today?” (which has happened quite a bit since the Seth workshop), all I’ve been able to say in the past 8 days is “I wrote a blog post.”

Now at the end of the 8-day challenge, I gotta keep some momentum going and show up to that other stuff. Blogging is fun for me.  That hard stuff is far less fun but I imagine a bit more rewarding. As Lindsay said…

“One of the amazing things/ideas that Seth talked about that epic weekend was the idea that the people that have made a ruckus in the world weren’t necessarily the most talented, or the smartest, but they succeeded because of the fact that they SHOWED UP. Everyday they showed up and did the things that they said they were going to do.”

And you gotta keep showing up even when the fear is paralyzing you. As Gayatri said…

“All you can do is dive in again and again until you learn to swim.”

And sometimes when we’re numb to the paralysis, we get in the “Totally Illogical Shame Cycle” (TISC), as coined by Tamara.

“Sometimes we sit idle for so long that we actually forget what it’s like to be actively working towards something.”

I’d say I’ve been sitting on the edge of my seat for a while – actively THINKING about working towards something. And it’s been a [slow] journey just getting to that point.

The tagline of my blog is “the educational journey of a wine lover”. I’m pretty good about committing to the educational side. That’s just a matter of reading and understanding material on a topic I like to study. The journey part – that’s the hard stuff. Forcing myself to take the next step on my journey is the challenge I’ve got to stay focused on. I’ve shared some of that journey here on W2WK, but there is more to come.

Join me Winos and Wine Knows. We may not be on the same path, but we will likely face similar challenges. And the challenges seem far less enormous or scary when we face them together. For Winos like us SHOW UP by putting one foot in front of the other on the path we make to form the story of our lives. 

Here’s to having many more (frequent) Wine Know Journey Updates on W2WK.

Where will the journey take us!?

Where will the journey take us!?

Winos Like Us… Love The More We Wine Know (#7)

Today is day 7 of the #RuckusMakersChallenge and an 8-day series on how Winos like us connect with the world over a glass of wine…

I don’t know the general demographic of people who follow W2WK.  But I know that I fall into the category of suburban kid who is now in her mid-30s who grew up playing in the desert, was raised on PBS, and came to love Saved By The Bell (the original), Full House, Golden Girls, Friends, and on occasion, the Bob Newhart Show. I don’t recall which shows were on which stations, but NBC’s public service initiative “The More You Know” permeated my childhood. It seemed like every other commercial (before you could fast forward through them) featured a famous person giving the viewer a message followed by that shooting star that I always confused with the Reading Rainbow logo.

The More You Know

The More You Know

What I didn’t know until looking for the above picture is that this public service initiative has been going on since 1989 – this year it’s celebrating 25 years of sharing important/impactful messages with communities about a wide range of topics. Pretty cool.

So like I said, I don’t know my blog’s prime demographics. I don’t even know how to find that out. But I’m guessing if you even glance at what I write here, it is for 1 of two reasons:

  1. You’re my friend or family member and you want to avoid having an awkward moment when I see you and ask if you’ve read my latest post.
  2. You actually like random information about wine and sometimes walk away thinking, “Huh!… [shaking your head affirmatively] The More You Wine Know….”.

Therefore, I assert that Winos Like Us… love the more we Wine Know. (You may have to read that twice – it’s a bit of a mouthful.) It’s such a fun topic with endless opportunities for learning.  Every grape, every vineyard, every hillside, every region, every vintage has a story. It’s like a history book of the environment – of the terroir – of that year. And the story comes out in the characteristics of what we pour in a glass and sip on while unwinding from the day. I know there’s a crowd of us who loves to learn random tidbits of wine knowledge. Whether they are facts or stories, there’s something about knowing a little something extra that helps you connect with that bottled art. It doesn’t always mean you retain that knowledge, but it does mean you retain the memory and the experience.

Wine Know just enhances those moments. When you Wine Know a little more about the history, the culture, the terroir, the grapes – the artistry – that went into that wine, you gain an appreciation for each and every sip.

So here’s to sharing more Wine Know through blog posts, tastings, dinners, and gatherings long after this 8-day challenge is completed!!


PS: Don’t forget to join the #NoWineFear challenge this week! Post what you try on Twitter, Facebook, or comment here.  If you do, I’ll post about that wine to share extra Wine Know...

Winos Like Us… Still Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with Beer (#6)

Today is day 6 of the #RuckusMakersChallenge and an 8-day series on how Winos like us connect with the world over a glass of wine…

Is there really a wine for St. Patrick’s Day? (I ask this after working at a St. Patrick’s Day wine tasting event this evening.) Quite frankly, it doesn’t feel right to celebrate the fine Irish holiday with stemware in hand.  Instead, it’s an opportunity to try another form of liquid art – BEER!  I know very little about beer, but I do know there’s as much passion in making beverages from grains as there is from grapes. And anything with passionate work behind it is worth exploring.

So I hope you are celebrating this evening with a mug in hand… For Winos like us occasionally enjoy other forms of art as vehicles for connection. 

Winos Like Us… We Know It’s Personal (#5)

Today is day 5 of the #RuckusMakersChallenge and an 8-day series on how Winos like us connect with the world over a glass of wine…

One of my least favorite phrases ever said is, “it’s business, not personal.”  In my old life, someone told me that once. They told me that to attempt to soften the blow of a position change they knew I would perceive as a demotion. Instead, it made me blow up. Because to me, it was all personal. I had spent hours well beyond the “clock” working to make connections with my professional community, working to make a story worth listening to. At that point, I hadn’t even considered the fact there was a “clock” – just that I was committed to the story and building a tribe. Those hours were spent away from my family and my friends and the life I could have otherwise been having. Instead, they were spent at the office or on a flight – usually in front of PowerPoint. It was absolutely personal. And the thing is – I was absolutely ok with that because I cared about that story a lot.  I wanted to make that work personal. Until someone told me that it was “business” and not “personal”.

That was just one person in a large community. But at that point, I realized that I could either keep working to convince people that it was personal, or I could choose to surround myself with a community of people who recognize and acknowledge that fact from the start.

I can’t imagine working in a field that is more personal than wine. It is a sensory overload at every point of the process. From wine making to wine tasting. The wine is there to enhance a celebration, to keep us company when we mourn, or more simply – to improve a Monday night. Each bottle of wine has a built-in personal story of a passionate wine-maker, and that story transfers to Winos like us, who create our own stories while connecting with the world around us – often over a glass of wine.


Winos Like Us… Experience Fear of the Unknown Wine (#4)

Today is day 4 of the #RuckusMakersChallenge and an 8-day series on how Winos like us connect with the world over a glass of wine… 

I know the feeling well.  Standing there in a long aisle of wine… perhaps in a warehouse with lots of long aisles of wine.  And you feel completely overwhelmed by the options available in front of you. While you want to explore and taste something new, you don’t want any wine store peeps to stop and ask you what they can help you find. Because, quite frankly, you have no idea. That and you don’t want to spend your $10 or $15 or $30 on a wine that you end up disliking. So, you resort to that bottle that you’ve had a dozen times before.  It’s a safe choice – in your price range and you know you like it. So you pick it up and walk to the checkout to get out of there so you can stop feeling like such a ninny.

Yes… I know this feeling well.  So well that I started a blog to help me (and all my favorite Winos) make more informed choices! (One might say, choices based on a little extra Wine Know.) When people learn that I’m “into wine”, they typically comment on their own lack of Wine Know – “I love wine, but I just don’t know what to get!” or, “I love wine, but I don’t really know much about it.” Hell, I do that when I meet people who I perceive as having more knowledge on the topic than I do.  I’m realizing that’s what we do to ourselves with most things in our lives. We minimize what we bring to the table – we minimize what we know and what we do.

During the workshop I attended with Seth Godin and 80 Ruckusmakers, we talked a lot about fear and how fear holds us back from leaping and doing the things we really want to do. That might be fear based on not knowing enough; not having enough money; not knowing if you’ll succeed or any number of reasons we create in our own minds about how we are not enough. The crazy thing though is that most (all?) people don’t know enough, have enough money, or know that they’re going to succeed with something. But some people leap anyway. They’re the ones who go in knowing “this might not work.” They face the fear and create experiences. They live the life they want to live. They drink new wines they may not like. And in that process, they are making connections with others in moments of vulnerability that they’d otherwise not experience. I’m guessing they learn a lot more along the way than those of us who always play it safe.

I realize this is a bit of a stretch. Talking about selecting wines and making leaps in life.  But I’d like to think it is a small example of how we can practice doing something that makes us feel the discomfort. The discomfort of doing something that might not work or choosing something you might not like. Selecting a wine we’re unfamiliar with may not seem like a big deal, but it’s practice. Practice for trying new things. For setting ourselves up for new experiences and for new opportunities to connect with the world around us…

So let’s take this little wine leap together. I hereby challenge you this week to try a wine you’ve never had before! Especially if you’ve been drinking the same type of wine over and over again for the past few months. Pick up a bottle of the one with the label you don’t understand, or the one that makes you wonder whether its noting the grape or the region, or the one that you can’t tell from the bottle if it is a white or red wine. Accept this challenge knowing “I might not like this wine, but I’m going to try it anyway”.  Why? Because it will help you refine your palate – to learn more about what you do or don’t like. And you might just find a wine that you fall in love with! And maybe it will become a practice that helps you make other leaps in life…

Here’s a few steps to help:

  1. Go to your local wine store (not the grocery store). Here in the Valley of the Sun, I recommend AZ Wine, Tarbell’s Wine Store, Brix, Wedge & Bottle, Wine Warehouse. (Disclaimer: I sell wine as a distributor to most of these wine shops, but not all. They all have knowledgable Wine Knows on staff!)
  2. Talk to the associate and don’t worry about sounding stupid. You don’t.
  3. Tell them how much you’re willing to spend. Don’t feel the need to bump up your budget just because you’re talking to the wine store associate. Be honest! They’re happy you’re buying wine!
  4. Tell them about a wine you recently had and enjoyed (grape or region), but that you’re looking to try something new.
  5. OR tell them what you’re going to eat with this bottle of wine and that you want a pairing suggestion.
  6. Tell us what you tried!! Comment here, or post on Twitter or Facebook #NoWineFear

Final comment: I put all this out there knowing that I struggle immensely with taking leaps. Every day. Even when selecting wines. So to me, this isn’t silly at all.

Winos Like Us… Break Bread Together (#3)

Today is day 3 of the #RuckusMakersChallenge and an 8-day series on how Winos like us connect with the world over a glass of wine… 

Sharing a meal together is one of those activities that crosses all cultures and time… every culture has done it in its own way for as long as we know. (Disclaimer: That’s a generality that I presume is true. If any anthropologists/historians out there want to correct me, please do!) It sort of boggles my mind, actually, to think about how embedded the idea of sharing a meal is in our nature. That it is somehow the method by which we most commonly experience a sense of community or family or fellowship.

Sharing a meal is awesome.  But let’s be honest…it’s most awesome when there’s also wine to share.  This is one of the many reasons I’m drawn to wine… not only is it bottled art, but it gives us an opportunity to share and experience a moment with someone. Opening a bottle and pouring wine into a glass is like slowing down time… to pause and reflect and talk. It gives us a reason to sit a little longer, be more open with one another, share a few more thoughts, ask a few more questions, and ultimately, to make a deeper connection. And Winos like us love that.

Winos Like Us… Love Bottled Art (#2)

Today is day 2 of the #RuckusMakersChallenge and an 8-day series on how Winos like us connect with the world over a glass of wine… 

I’m a wannabe museum lover. Seriously – I really want to love them. Sometimes I do… and sometimes I pretend I do. When I walk into a museum, I generally have two simultaneous feelings: being “in awe” and being “not enough”.  I’m in awe of the people who have dumped their souls onto a canvas or into a sculpture. And I feel that “I’m not enough” for not having the creative/artist gene. And even worse – for not understanding what an artist’s work even means. But I have to say that I love museums when I have a good guided tour, or a friend who knows something about what we’re looking at  – something that give me more context to the art.

All of that said, I’m starting to realize that art isn’t always about me understanding the artist’s meaning or intent behind the work, but whether or not their work affected me. Correct me if I’m wrong Artists, but if I felt moved or warmed or angered after looking at your work, you’d be happy that you made me change, right?!

While at the Ruckusmakers workshop last week (see this post if you missed it), we talked about our work as our art. That any craft requires work and you have to work every day to get better at it. Most of us show up to work every day, just like an artist shows up to her studio every day. But the mindset of the worker and the artist is slightly different. The worker shows up with the general intention to get paid. The artist’s intent is to make someone change.

This made me think about winemakers.  They’re out in the fields every day nurturing vines, picking and pressing grapes, fermenting and aging the juice, and eventually bottling their work art. And we Winos get to show up at our favorite kind of museum – the winery – to experience that art with all of our senses.  We look, we smell, we taste, we savor this kind of art. And even better, that winery usually comes with a winemaker, who can elaborate on the intention behind his art. Sometimes we don’t understand it. Sometimes we don’t like it. But it always changes us. And I’m pretty sure most winemaking artists would be happy that we took the time to experience their bottled art.

Winos like us we think of wineries as museums. And we love bottled art.

Bottled Art

A little juxtaposition (am I using the word correctly? It seems artsy so i’m going with it to maintain this post’s content) around the topic of bottled art and art as we traditionally think of it (on canvas). This painting was a meaningful gift that hangs in our living room. I swear that candle looks like it is actually glowing. And of course the wine makes my mouth water.