So you want to know more about wine?  A good way to get a real in-depth education is to study with the Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET), which is represented in Philadelphia by Neal Ewing and his Phillywine.com organization.  I’m nearing the end of the 8-week Level 2 Course and I’m loving it.

I’m already leading tastings and discussing wines using the local wines here at Pinot Boutique. We have examples of most of the world’s great wines made right here in the Delaware and Lehigh Valleys.

But I wanted to firm up my knowledge and speak with more confidence about grapes and regions from all over the world. So I made the investment and signed up. Pinot Boutique owner Dan “The Wineman” Soskin is already a Level 2 & 3 graduate with merit. 

The class is held one night a week (mostly) in a meeting room on the 3rd floor of the Sofitel Hotel.  (I say “mostly” because occasionally we are displaced by other hotel guests to an alternate location.) Each week we cover a different major wine category, such as Cabernets & Merlots, or Dessert Wines.  Neal starts each session with a Powerpoint covering the characteristics of the wine and the different regions in which it is made.

Then comes the good part: we each get out our personal set of six tasting glasses (included in your course fee), and taste typical examples that Neal has purchased at the State Store. He gives you a great chart to help you keep track; it shows vintage, vineyard, region, grape, alcohol percentage, and what he paid for it. The actual tastings in my class are lead by Neal’s assistant, Delores. She has an uncanny, almost-canine ability to discern any number of scents and tastes in a given glass.

One of the main things you learn is a systematic approach to tasting, and an objective way to judge and compare each wine’s appearance, nose, quality, and taste characteristics like acidity, body and tannins. That’s one of the things I like about the course: it is a no-B.S. Zone.

Neal also records and webcasts each class for distance learners. (Hope they’re savoring a nice glass at home while they watch!). But it’s so much fun and quenches my thirst for knowledge so well that it’s got to be better in person. The course ends with a 50-question multiple choice test (Do you know your Volnay from your Vouvray?  Your Moscato from your Muscadet?). I’ll miss it, but I’ll be much better prepared to go forth and order that delicious bottle that’s just perfectly paired with tonight’s dish.



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#whyilovephilly Twitter Campaign for Valentine’s Day back to Homepage

whyilovephillyFebruary 3, 2015 (OldCityDistrict.com) — On Valentine’s Day, February 14th, Philly Love Notes, media outlets, bloggers and non-profits, will once again run a day-long #whyilovephilly Twitter campaign to promote love for Philadelphia. Last year’s campaign flooded social media with positivity with approximately 4000 posts, 2000+ users, and almost 9 million impressions. It helped change the negative dialogue about our city on a day created to celebrate and be thankful for what we love.

Pinot Boutique is proud to be part of Philadelphia and we are proud to participate in this #whyilovephilly campaign! Read why we are doing this and how you can be a part of the Philly Love at www.OldCityDistrict.com.

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Harvest Ridge Wines Now Available at Pinot Boutique back to Homepage

We are so excited to welcome Harvest Ridge Winery to Pinot Boutique! This addition to our robust selection means more wines to choose from (view the wines of Harvest Ridge Winery) as well as the added expertise of the Harvest Ridge family!

Screen Shot 2015-02-06 at 12.46.47 PMAs a family farm winery, family comes first at Harvest Ridge and it all began with Chuck and Chris Nunan. After a visit to a winery in Charleston, South Carolina in 2010, Chuck decided to take his love for wine and turn it into a winemaking business using land originally purchased for a family farm Marydel, Delaware. The name “Harvest Ridge” was the original name of the farm and was retained for the winery. The first vines were planted in 2011 – Chardonnay, Viognier, Malbec, and Merlot. The winery opened to the public (as Delaware’s fourth winery) on November 1, 2013.

You will have the opportunity to meet a representative of Harvest Ridge on Friday, February 6th while you sip, chat, and shop at our monthly First Friday event. Make sure you’re signed up for the event so you don’t miss out on this exciting tradition of Old City Philadelphia!

And — mark your calendar, the official launch of Harvest Ridge Winery at Pinot Boutique will take place at March’s First Friday event on March 6th! We will not only have their delicious wines to taste, but the winemaker and others from their team will be joining us. We can’t wait to introduce all our wonderful customers to the wines of Harvest Ridge!

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Dan ‘The Wineman’ Teaches Wine 101 at Heritage Vineyards back to Homepage

Screen Shot 2015-01-26 at 10.30.13 AMDan ‘The Wineman’ is taking his show on the road! Three Wine 101 classes have been scheduled at Heritage Vineyards in Mullica Hill, NJ, taught by Dan ‘The Wineman’.

Each class will guide you through a tasting of six different wines and help you discover what you like and why. Learn about the  “structure of a wine”  as well as the influence of oak, tannins & acids on the taste of the wine. Five of the tasting wines will be from the Heritage Vineyard collection along with a special old world bottle.


The first class held on January 22nd sold out and these seats are filling up fast so don’t wait to register!

Thursday, March 26th; 7:00-8:30pm –> Register here


Heritage Vineyards is a family owned and operated estate vineyard and winery located in Mullica Hill, New Jersey. Mullica Hill is located in the heart of the Outer Coastal Plain American Viticultural Area (AVA), which covers over 2.25 million acres in Southeastern New Jersey. Named New Jersey’s “Winery of the Year” in 2011 and 2014 by the Garden State Wine Growers Association, Heritage has begun cementing it’s self as a benchmark producer in New Jersey’s largest wine growing region.

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Browse Red, White and Sparkling Wines back to Homepage

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Center City Fall Restaurant Week back to Homepage

It’s back! Center City Fall Restaurant Week, running September 7th-12th and 14th-19th is the perfect time to try one of Philadelphia’s hot, new spots at a discounted rate. The deal, $35 for dinner and $20 for restaurants participating during lunch, includes some Old City favorites; Bistro 7, Plough & The Stars, Continental Restaurant & Martini Bar and Amada.

Also included on the list are BYOB’s. And where are you going to get wine to bring with you to your meal? Pinot Boutique of course! Stop in for delicious, local wines at a great price. We are open Monday-Thursday until 9pm; Friday-Saturday until 10pm and Sunday until 6pm.

DEAL! Show us the receipt from your Philly Restaurant Week meal and enjoy an in-store wine tasting Buy One, Get One FREE! In-store wine tastings include 5 tastes of our award winning local wines. Stop in for your BOGO tasting now through Sunday, September 21st.

Check out the full list of participating restaurants for Center City Restaurant Week on PhillyMag.com.

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Host a Private Bachelorette Party at Pinot! back to Homepage

Make this night memorable with your own private bachelorette party at Pinot Boutique.

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How to spend a beautiful fall day in the heart of Burgundy with Kathy, my love of 30 years?  Why, it’s off to the bike rental shop, of course!  With a bottle of Aligote in my backpack and a baguette sticking out the top, we rounded the Beaune circular road, found the right exit, watched for signs, and voila!  We suddenly found ourselves on a narrow paved path surrounded by Vitis vinifera in full berry-mode!  We were on the Bougogne Veloroute, and set for the trip of a lifetime.

In the distance was our first town, Pommard, which presented from afar as all the Burgundy towns did: a steeple surrounded by slate roofs.  To the West, paralleling the trail, the hills rose to a steady ridgeline: the Haut (or “High”) Cote d’Beaune.

Most grapes were right there for the touching.  Some were enclosed in walled vineyards with ancient gates: the Clos des Perrieres, the Clos des Santenots of the Domain Jacques Prieur.  “Clos” means walled vineyard.

More towns appeared: Volnay, Chassagne Montrachet–each clearly marked both as you enter and as you leave, the latter with a red diagonal through the town name.  If you’re shopping for a fine burgundy, these are the very town names you will read on the labels.

Though we were a week early for the main harvest–called the “Vendange”–there were pickers in the vineyards with their large white plastic conical backpacks.  We could see the workers stepping up on the scales with their cones empty (the “before”) and full (the “after”) to measure their production.

The workers seemed like normal townsfolk making some extra money.  One group called to us as we rode by.  I hopped off my bike, jumped down off the wall surrounding the vineyard, and ran over to the rows where they were working, ready to go to work.  Alas, not one spoke any English.  In hindsight, I should have used their scissors to make at least one snip!

On the main square in one town, perhaps Volnay, we passed a small market.  Starting to feel dehydrated, we agreed to stop in the next town for energy drinks or whatever was available.   That was a mistake: the towns got smaller, and there were no shops, only signs for various wine-related businesses.  Stopping at them would no doubt have produced serendipitous discoveries, but we pressed on.

Finally near the end of the Veloroute in Santanay, we stopped at a picnic table in a grove of trees and enjoyed our Aligote, baguette and cheese in the shade along with genuine nougat, which is widely sold in French shops.  I never really knew what it was before, though every Three Musketeers bar, I now realize, has it in its center!

We headed back along the same trail toward Chateau Meursault for a wine tasting and cellar tour. Finding it, even from within the town of Meursault, proved to be difficult. There were few other cyclists along the path, and no signage toward what we thought would be a common destination. In short, the Burgundy Veloroute is still an undiscovered travel gem!

But once we had asked enough directions in our patchwork French, we finally walked where Thomas Jefferson is known to have toured and to have bought wine to be sent back to Monticello.  We were the only visitors when we arrived.  But the caves began to fill up as we circled through the vast cellars filled with hundreds of thousands of dusty, unlabeled bottles.  Upon exiting, we found that the empty parking lot had filled with Rolls Royces!  A British motoring club had chosen Meursault as their destination on the same day as this lowly pair of bike-touring Americans.

Total mileage for the day: about 25. Value of the experience: priceless.

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Super Picks for the Big Game back to Homepage

Does it suck that our beloved Philadelphia Eagles lost the Wild Card game to the Saints a few weeks ago?  Yes, it does, but the Eagles gave us a season to be proud of…and a whole lot to look forward to next year.  Even though it stinks not having our team in the Super Bowl, life goes on.  Football. Goes. On.

Personally, I’m rooting for the Broncos in the Super Bowl.  Why?  Because I’ve always liked Peyton Manning.  He’s an outstanding athlete and a class-act guy, but that’s neither here nor there.  Regardless of who you’ll be cheering on, you’ll most likely be doing so at a Super Bowl Party.  This leads to the age-old question, ‘what do I serve?’  I can help with that.

Most people think that football and beer go hand-in-hand.  Now, I like beer just as much as the next guy, but there’s more to life than beer.  In addition, if you’re hosting a party, you need variety for your guests.  Here are some pairing recommendations that will be sure to please the toughest wine snobs or even those who swear they don’t like wine.

  • Chips & Guacamole – This pairs really well with a Chardonnay, like Auburn Road’s The White Bottle or Paradocx Chardonnay.  The wonderful flavors and aroma of Chardonnay will complement the avocado nicely, while the acidity is a great accompaniment to the lime.
  • Sliders – When paired with Auburn Road’s Good Karma, sliders will be a huge hit!  Good Karma is a blend of Sangiovese and Merlot.  It’s very similar to a Pinot Noir and is ridiculously good with the classic American burger.
  • Buffalo Wings – I’m sure you’re more accustomed to wings and beer – and that works, too! – but, do you know what else goes well with wings?  Pinnacle Ridge’s Riesling.  The sugar in the Riesling helps to tame the spice of the wings.  They balance each other out and will have your guests coming back for seconds…and thirds!
  • Nachos – This Super Bowl staple goes really well with sparkling wine, like the Cuvee Chardonnay from Pinnacle Ridge or the slightly effervescent Sole from Auburn Road.  Since nachos tend to have a little bit of everything in them, you want a versatile wine that can really hold up.  The light, crisp, refreshing flavors of both these wines make them the perfect choice.
  • Pizza – What else would you pair pizza with than the ultimate pizza wine?  Pinnacle Ridge refers to their Quaff as a “pizza wine”.  This unique blend of Chambourcin and barrel-aged Pinot Noir has the perfect amount of oakiness with a hint of sweetness.  Try it.  You’ll be glad you did.

Don’t get me wrong, you still need beer for your Super Bowl bash as well.  Again, variety is the spice of life.  Any light beer will go well with the foods mentioned above.  On average, light beers are the most popular beers on the market and, since many people are still sticking to their New Year’s Resolutions, light beer will be a popular choice for your party.  So, what other beers should make the cut?  Pale Ales and Stouts are always a good choice and, in my opinion, nothing beats a good Hefeweizen (wheat beer).  Comment below or send me an e-mail directly (address is shown in the bio below), and I’ll be happy to suggest some of my favorite beers.  You can even make a beer cocktail, like an orange shandy, for you and your guests to enjoy.  You can find that recipe (and a bunch of other great Super Bowl recipes) here: Martha Stewart’s Super Bowl snacks: Sliders, cocktails, more.

The key to any great party is to have a good time, but having excellent food and drinks sure doesn’t hurt!  I hope you like the picks above.  All of the wines mentioned are available for purchase online or at Pinot Boutique, so come by to pick them up before your party.  If you have any questions, our staff will be happy to help.

Enjoy the big game, everyone!  Here’s hoping that, this time next year, the City of Brotherly Love will be buzzing with excitement for an Eagles playoff run.  A girl can dream, right?

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Goodbye 2013, Hello 2014! back to Homepage

“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re doing something.

So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make new mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, do it.”  ~ Neil Gaiman

As we turn the calendar over to a new year, we find ourselves reflecting on 2013 and looking ahead for what is to come in 2014.  Like most others, we’re working on our resolutions here, too, and making plans for an awesome 2014!  When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, I believe the simpler, the better.  Let’s take a look at all we accomplished in 2013.

In January 2013, we began selling wines from Auburn Road Vineyard & Winery.  Auburn Road is located in Woodstown, NJ.  Their award-winning wines have been a huge hit with Pinot Boutique shoppers.  The folks at Auburn Road are a great bunch of people.  Sometimes they can even be found hanging out with us at the occasional First Friday.  And, every so often, you’ll find a Pinot staff member or two at Auburn Road.  I highly recommend taking a tour of their winery and checking out one of their “What’s For Dinner? Fridays”.  Be sure to tell them we sent you.

At the end of May, we launched a blog.  The Pinot Panel has covered everything you can possibly think of…and more!  From food and wine pairings, fashion tips, health advice, and many other tips, tricks and outstanding ideas, our blog has covered just about everything.

We had a really big summer, too. In June, we participated in Philly Beer Week for the first time. What a great time that was! We’re looking forward to doing it again in 2014.

Over the summer, we also began selling wines from Pinnacle Ridge Winery. Located in Kutztown, PA, Pinnacle Ridge is part of the Lehigh Valley Wine Trail. Their outstanding wines have won numerous awards over the years.  They have the perfect wine for every occasion.

In July, we introduced a new class that has really taken off!  The “Philly Food & Wine Pairing” class takes all of your local food favorites and pairs them with local wines.  What more could you ask for?  This class has received excellent reviews from the local media, too.

2013 was a fabulous year full of so many exciting things.  We’re looking forward to continuing the momentum in 2014.  Here’s a sneak peek of what we’ve got planned for 2014:

  • Our “Develop Your Wine IQ” class will be moving to Thursday nights.  Be sure to check our events calendar for details on that and our other classes and events.
  •  Valentine’s Day is for lovers, right?  Well, we’ve got the perfect thing for you and the one you love.  Join us on Friday, February 14th or Saturday, February 15th for Love, Wine, & Chocolate.  Tickets are selling FAST, so be sure to get yours today!
  •  We’ll be participating in Philly Beer Week again this year.  Who says that beer week is just for drinking beer?
  •  Introduction of a Pinot Wine Club.  Stay tuned for more details!
  •  Plus many more exciting ideas, classes, blog entries, and more…so check back often!

There’s one more thing we’d like to mention.  We would be remiss if we didn’t include a very heartfelt ‘thank you’ in our year-end wrap-up.  None of the things mentioned above would be possible without our extremely talented staff, the support of our family and friends, and amazing customers like you.  We love what we do, and it’s because of you that we’re able to do it, so, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you.

We also have some advice to share with you to start the New Year off right!  Say what you mean.  Do what you say you will.  Believe in yourself.  Imagine.  Dream.  Hope.  Be kind to yourself and to others.  Make memories to cherish.  And, of course, drink great wine with those you love.  We wish you all a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2014!

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