Suzi's Blog

Total Wine App for Your iPad and Ease of Mind

wine and bottles

Like everyone, I am good at some things and not at others. My “not” list bothers me. I have spent decades trying to learn French. Beyond “oui” I am just a “non.”

And there’s wine and wine paring. I’ve gone to classes, read, red and white, sipped, spit and gotten ever more confused. It’s worse because I cannot tolerate a wine snob. So if I am around one while they are rattling off which hillside in Tuscany has the best grapes, I’m at a loss. All I can say is “Chianti” and hope I don’t embarrass myself, and my wife, too much.

My rescue has arrive. There is a chain of wine stores, Total Wine, based in New Jersey that has created an iPad app that I love. And, no, I am not above sitting down at my table, opening the iPad and searching for a great recommendation.

The app is easy. Pick a food category, say salmon. Pick how it is being prepared, say roasted. And finally specify if there is a sauce or spice that is accompanying the dish, say a heavy sauce.

What does the app do? It provides a list of several wines recommended for the dish. An array of wines that may range the spectrum form sparkling to dessert/rose. And price points ranging from $5-10 to $40+. You can limit the type of wine, to say red and keep the price point to say in the $20s. Some combinations, like this one return a short list of just a couple of wines. You can even set up a combination where this app has no recommendations, which is a gentle hint that you need to probably consider a different type of wine.

Is it gauche to break out the iPad? No, I don’t think so. People unfold those little pocket guides all the time. As for that wine snob who has it all in his head, if they are pleasant about it I will admire their encyclopedic mind. But if they are obnoxious, not only do I not like them, I don’t trust them.

I’m going with my iPad.

Now, about that hillside in Tuscany that is the best. When you hear that from someone, then shy away. It’s just like someone trying to tell you a hurricane out in the mid-Atlantic is going to hit Miami. The glory of wine is all the uncertainty. One year, the April sun will be shielded by clouds a bit, the vines will get a late start and the grapes will not be quite ready to take full advantage of perfect August heat. It’ll be the hillside in the next valley whose grapes are more able to thrive in this one summer’s environment. You can’t predict this. You can’t prove it. All you can do is open the bottle, sip and enjoy the wine for what it is.

You don’t have to worry about “best.” You can just savor the “good.”


Wines of Verona This Friday at CBTB



Some things in life take time and go slow. Like making wine. Months, years, decades may be needed.

Some things in life require speed. Like the wine class this Friday at Cooking by the Book:  The Wines of Verona this Friday, March 1st at 6:30PM. 

Yes, it is just 50 hours until this class devoted to premium wines from the north of Italy, a region where wine has been produced, savored and improved for over two thousand years. Our wine expert for the evening comes from a personal family wine-making tradition of over 400 years. That picture above is just one potential view of the dramatic scenes that Verona provides. But, of course, the real drama is in the vineyards as year after years the journey to ever better wine continues.

That expert and vintner, Giovanni Bertani of the Tenuta Santa Maria alla Pieve estate and winery, lives near Verona in the Veneto region. His family name has long been synonymous with the region’s most admired and innovative wines.

Tenuta Santa Maria is an historic property dating back to Roman times; yet for Giovanni, his father Gaetano and brother Guglielmo, it represents their latest, most personal and most ambitious project to date. Behind Tenuta Santa Maria is the Bertani family’s deep-seated commitment to creating a collection of superb quality, estate-bottled wines representing the finest expression of the local terroir. Here vine roots tunnel down to an extraordinary depth of 5 storeys, ultimately giving rise to a precious yield of little more than 2 lbs of fruit per vine.

At this Small Bites Big Sips class the bites will include:

  • Roasted Cherry Tomatoes Bruschetta
  • Marinated Salmon
  • A Presentation of Special Italian Cheeses
  • Spiced Lamb chops with Roasted Cherry Vinaigrette
  • Italian Cookies, of course, for dessert

The big sips will come from reds and whites personally  recommended by Giovanni and paired with our foods as the evening progresses.

We invite you to join us on March 1. You can register for the class by clicking on: