Monday, October 31, 2016


For the daring diner, South Africa offers culinary challenges ranging from crocodile sirloins to fried caterpillars to sheep heads. All three are reputed to be delicious. For the not-quite so brave, there are indigenous delicacies such as biltong (dried, salted meat) and boerewors (hand-made farm sausages, grilled on an open flame).

South African cuisine is a true melting pot of different cooking styles and combines the best of the food traditions worldwide. South African cooking mainly consists of chicken, game, tomatoes, lemons and limes, corn (mealie) in the form of breads and flour, beans as well as ginger, chili and spices.

South Africans love the outdoors and enjoy having lunch or dinner cooked on a fireplace. They love to cook over wood fire or coals and either cook a steaming 'potjiekos', so named for the food 'kos' cooked in a back iron pot, which is called 'potjie' in Afrikaans, or they gather for a 'braai', the South African equivalent of a barbecue. Many South African houses have a built-in 'braaiplace' or grill/oven on the verandah.

Join us for our annual Nationality Dinner and Wine Tasting featuring the food and wines of South Africa.  We will be among the not-quite so brave (no sheep heads), but we will certainly be among the well fed!  Biltong, boerwors, and other delicacies are on the menu for the evening!  We will taste several South African wines which are representative of the styles popular there.

WEDNESDAY, November 9, 2016

Evergreen Community Center, 3430 Evergreen Rd, Pittsburgh, PA 15237 


The cost for members is $30 and the cost for guests is $35.

Please reply before November 7, 2016 to:

Or you may reply to 412-657-0777.

Mail your check, payable to AWS to:

Dr. Dennis Trumble
1302 Arch St
Pittsburgh PA  15212

Don’t forget to visit the website for directions, useful tips, and recipes.

Monday, October 24, 2016

South Africa

Old “New World” Wine – South Africa
The Dark Continent is a bit of a mystery. State Stores have shelves of cheap bottles with various animals on the label, but while people all over the world assumed there wasn't much out there beyond Fairview's Goats Do Roam, South Africa has been busy making really great wine.  Since our next tasting will be the Nationality Dinner featuring wine and food from South Africa, we thought that we’d post a little primer.
We've all explored French wine, tasted Chianti from Tuscany and Sherry from Spain, sniffed around Portugal, and drank German wines. All of those are what we call 'Old World' wine regions. Being mostly American wine drinkers, we’re generally familiar with New World wine regions. New World regions generally have a shorter growing history than Europe, and some have a warmer climate. In general, wines from the New World are labeled with the grape variety, rather than featuring the place first.
While South Africa, which is about three times the size of the state of California, is considered a “New World” wine region, it's not new to growing wine grapes. Grapes were first planted in 1655 and soon after, the sweet wines of Constantia (near Cape Town) were praised all over Europe.
Today, South African wines straddle Old World and New. Because of the generally warm climate, South Africa's red grapes in particular get very ripe and produce full, high alcohol wines. But especially in the Western Cape, the ocean breezes help the wines retain the acidity that keeps them fresh and food friendly.
Most South African wine production is located in the southwestern part of the country, called the Western Cape. The wines are categorized into large geographical areas that are then broken down into regions, districts, and wards. For example, Stellenbosch is a district within the Coastal Region.
South Africa has a system called the Wines of Origin that's similar to the American Viticultural Area (AVA) system in the US. If you see a Chenin Blanc that says Wine of Origin Stellenbosch, you know a few things right away: the wine has passed a taste test, it's made from at least 85% Chenin Blanc, and every single grape came from Stellenbosch. Producers don't have to label their bottles noting that they're a Wine of Origin, but if they don't, they're not allowed to put a vintage, grape variety or region on the label.

If you're looking for good value as the weather gets warmer, start with some South African Sauvignon Blanc. While we often think of Sauvignon Blanc as a thirst quencher for before the meal begins, the right bottle can also work well paired with richer entrées, like halibut with creamy sauce.
For centuries, South African winemakers called this floral grape Steen, but in the 1960s, they discovered that it was actually Chenin Blanc, the same grape that made the French region Vouvray famous. If you like Pinot Gris or Sauvignon Blanc, then try this grape. South African examples are usually very dry or made with just a little touch of sweetness that enhances its scent.
Once thought of as smelling like Band-Aids and barnyard, recent vintages of Pinotage are delicious. Good examples of Pinotage combine blackberry and black cherry flavors with herbs and a hint of smoke. They might remind you of Southern French blends.
These wines, sometimes called Shiraz, sometimes Syrah, have blackberry and blueberry flavors but also an Old World earthiness. Lovers of Australian Shiraz will especially appreciate this wine.
These two grapes find their home in Burgundy, France, but are grown all over the world with mixed results. It's tricky to find the right balance of sunshine and cool air (not to mention the correct soil) that these grapes need to make excellent wine. A few regions in South Africa have mastered that pretty well.
There's not much Pinot Noir grown in South Africa, but many of the options you'll find are of very high quality.  If you like Oregon Pinot Noir, you'll like this too. It has lots of acidity, medium body, and soft tannins.
Are you looking for good Cabernet Sauvignon at an affordable price? It's getting harder and harder to find, but South Africa offers an impressive quality-to-dollar ratio. 

Cap Classique is the name for traditional method sparkling wines made in South Africa. These wines, which can be produced anywhere in the country, get their sparkle by a second fermentation in the bottle, like Champagne. While the category is on the rise, there isn't a huge amount of shelf space dedicated to these wines...yet. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Il Conto, Per Favore!

How To Order Wine in a Tuscan Restaurant

(And how to choose a good Chianti at home)

When you go to Tuscany and look at a wine menu, it can get a bit confusing. It’s the same situation if you’re buying wine. Do you choose a Chianti Classico, a Riserva, a Gran Selezione, or an IGT, and what's the difference?

Our advice is to ask your cameriere (waiter) first. Real wines vary greatly from year to year, depending on the weather and a thousand other factors, so recognizing the name of a good winery doesn't always guarantee a good wine. Even the best producers have off years. The wine from big brands you recognize from home will probably be made mostly for export. You really don't want one of those. Your waiter will know what local wines are good now, and he’ll be happy to show off his skills and choose a good bottle for you.

How much should you spend? 

Wines in restaurants in Italy are not marked up excessively compared to most countries. Wines are marked up by 200 to 500% here, so a budget of €20-€40 will get you a very nice bottle of wine. And unless you are buying big name wine (designed for tourists) then you pretty much get what you pay for.

As for what kind of Chianti, it's a matter of taste, and pairing with what you’re eating. Chianti Classico wines are younger and fruitier, and go well with most foods. A Riserva or Gran Selezione will be aged longer, have a smoother finish, can be a little more full bodied, and so go well with roasted meats or the famous Fiorentina steak.

What about the so called Super-Tuscan IGTs? These are effectively classified as regional wines, a step up from table wines, but most vineyards use the freedom declassification brings to craft very special wines, still based largely on the Sangiovese grape, but also adding other non-local grapes to produce fuller bodied wines that are able to withstand extended ageing in the bottle. They’re usually the most expensive wines, and you have to wait until they are ready to drink. It’s best to make sure the IGT you want to open is ready before you pop the cork.

If you’re in an Italian restaurant (in Italy!) ask your waiter. Follow this rule and you’ll be introduced to amazing wines that you would never have found on your own. We've never been disappointed.


Sunday, October 16, 2016

Our Donation

Yes, $350 is the amount that we were able to contribute to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. Thanks to everyone who came to the Drink Pink tasting.

If you would like to make a donation and weren't able to attend the tasting, the address is:

National Breast Cancer Foundation, 2600 Network Boulevard - Suite 300, Frisco, TX  75034.

To donate online:

Saturday, October 15, 2016


It was a celebration of all things pink!  Our Board Secretary, Marie Pietraszewski, presented our tasting of "Pink" wine, and what a wonderful presentation it was.  We tasted rose wine from France, Italy, Spain and the U.S.  In the process, we learned a bit about breast cancer, and the success that we've made in fighting this disease.  Thank you, Marie, for your selection of the wines and the information.

We thank, also, our last-minute hosts for preparing the pink food to go with the pink wines.  Thanks to Mary Ann Hirt, Kevin and Bob Dering, Terry Germanoski, and again Marie. 

The National Breast Cancer Foundation is the beneficiary of this year's charitable tasting.  If you would like to make a donation and weren't able to attend the tasting, the address is:

National Breast Cancer Foundation, 2600 Network Boulevard - Suite 300, Frisco, TX  75034.

To donate online:

Clair Diamond Rose Cotes de Provence  ($12.99 Chairman Selection, regularly $20, save $7 – Top 25 Provence rose wines in the US):  Blends Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah

Remy Pannier Rose d'Anjou ; Anjou, France – Loire Valley ($9.99 -  Wine Director:  90 points):  Blends 50% Cabernet Franc, 40% Grolleau, 10% Gamay

Domain de la Mirdoree la Remise; Vin de-France – TEVAL ($12.99):  Blends Merlot and Marselan (a French varietal that is a cross between Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache) (contains lesser amounts of Shiraz)

Cantina Zaccagnini Cerasuola Rose; Abruzzi, Italy ($14.99):  100% Montepulciano d’Abruzzo

Raimat Rose;  Costers del Segre, Spain ($12.99, Chairman Selection, regularly $15, save $5):  Blends  Cabernet Sauvignon and Tempranillo, vinified separately & blended following fermentation

Mazza Vineyards Bare Bones Rose;  Westfield, NY ($10.99 – BTI rating:  88 points, highly recommended):   100% Chambourcin

Monday, October 10, 2016


Election of Board Members will be soon upon us.  The current list is below.  If you have not made your nomination, please do so soon.  The list below are nominees, not elected Board Members. The election will take place at the November tasting event.  As you can see, we need a nomination for Program Director in particular.

You may nominate any active member of the Pittsburgh Chapter of the American Wine Society, including yourself.

Nomination for Chairperson
                Thom Harding                                    Accepted

Nomination for Vice-Chairperson
                Ellen & Wendell Barner                     Accepted
                Beverly Wise                                      Declined
                Bob & Kevin Dering                          Accepted

Nomination for Secretary
                Marie Pietraszewski                           Accepted
                Carole Kaetlan                                   Has Not Responded
                Metha Hilard                                      Declined

Nomination for Treasurer
                Dennis Trumble                                 Accepted

Nomination for Program Director
                Tim & Brittany Altimus                    Declined
                Terry Germanoski                             Declined
                Barbara Johns                                    Declined             
                Kevin & Bob Dering                         Declined

Nomination for Membership Director
                Kathleen Simpson                           Accepted
                Juliana Underwood                         Has Not Responded

Nomination for Procurement Director
                Terry Germanoski                              Accepted
                Ellen Barner                                       Accepted
                Geri Goclan                                        Accepted

Click the link below to make a nomination!

Monday, October 3, 2016


October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which is an annual campaign to increase awareness of the disease. While most people are aware of breast cancer, many forget to take the steps to have a plan to detect the disease in its early stages and encourage others to do the same. We have made a lot of progress but still have a long way to go and need your help!

Join us as we Drink Pink, Eat Pink, and Think Pink!  You can even wear pink, if you like.  We will taste exciting rose wines from a variety of sources and the presentation will be by our Board Secretary, Marie Pietraszewski.  The wines will be accompanied by a selection of pink treats.

We will donate the proceeds from our monthly wine raffle, and the profit from the tasting, to The National Breast Cancer Foundation.  If you would care to make an additional donation, we will have information at the event.  Please join us in this worthwhile effort.  Please click on the link below for more information about the organization and their efforts on the behalf of women.


Evergreen Community Center, 3430 Evergreen Rd, Pittsburgh, PA 15237 


The cost for members is $20 and the cost for guests is $25.

Please reply before October 8, 2016 to:

Or you may reply to 412-657-0777.

Mail your check, payable to AWS to:

Dr. Dennis Trumble
1302 Arch St
Pittsburgh PA  15212

Don’t forget to visit the website for directions, useful tips, and recipes.