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Beringer Vineyards seems to be undergoing a major rebranding, moving itself toward becoming a younger hipper wine entity. Not only have they enlisted the help of the Deen Brothers (the boys of Southern cooking goddess Paula Deen) but they have started touring the country with a Top Chef-esque Great Steak Challenge Gill-Off.

Jamie and Bobby Dean have declared themselves “winos” and have joined Beringer in promoting the vintner’s Great Steak Challenge and even supplied the winery with recipes that pair with Beringer wines. Recipes include Fast and Fresh Caprese Steak paired with Beringer Founder’s Estate Merlot, Big Apple Steak with their Founder’s Estate Cabernet Sauignon, and Blackberry Head of State Steak with Beringer’s Founder’s Estate Shiraz. For the recipes go to:

Yours Truly went to the Great Steak Challenge when it was in Las Vegas over the Fourth of July weekend. Ten contestants selected from the southwest region competed against one another for the chance to attend the national championships in Napa in October and a $15,000 prize. Backyard griller Catherine from Prescott, Arizona won with her black pepper crusted T-Bone garnished with fig butter, blue cheese and sea salt. She chose Beringer’s Founder’s Estate Cabernet as a fitting accompaniment.

While at the grill-off Yours Truly was roped into taking a quiz by Wine Education Manager Jerry Comfort to see if she had what it takes to be a Beringer Food & Wine Ambassador. Of course, as a Grape Camp graduate she passed with flying colors, but let’s see how you do.

1. What are the 5 basic tastes? Choose from: Sweet, Sour, Spicy, Salty, Creamy, Bitter, Liquorice, Umami, Peppery

2. True or False: Foods with sweetness suppress the sweetness in wines and accentuate the acid in wines, making them more sour.

3. Where do tannins in the wine come from?
a. The cork
b. The bottle
c. The oak barrels that wines are aged in

4. Match the flavor description with the best wine.

Low in salt food (like sushi): a. Oak-Aged Cabernet Sauvignon b. Un-Oaked Sauvignon Blanc

Salted foods (like a steak): a. Oak-Aged Cabernet Sauvignon b. Un-Oaked Sauvignon Blanc

5. What is most important when pairing wine?
a. The protein (fish, meat) that accompanies the wine.
b. The color of the sauce (red pasta sauce or a white steak bearnaise sauce).
c. The tastes (sweet, salty, etc.) of the food.

If you need some help, go to for some hints.

1. sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and the protein taste, umami 2. True 3. C 4. B, A 5. C

Louis Latour Wine made the Vegas scene on July 1st with a wine dinner at Paris’ Mon Ami Gabi. A bit early for Bastille Day, but nevertheless we celebrated with some brilliant wines from the portfolio. A perfectly executed first course of Seared Scallops with summer mushrooms and bean ragout was accompanied by a refreshing Louis Latour Grand Archeche Chardonnay, 2007. Next up was a rather stringy and tough Duck Breast Carpaccio with cress, spring garlic and mango salad. This course was presented with Henry Fessy Morgan, 2008; please note this makes an excellent summer red because of its Pinot Noir characteristics. The entrée was a mouth-watering Grilled Lamb with lemon and garlic confit, warm roasted potato salad with mustard and chives. It was paired with Louis Latour Bourgogne, 2008. For the finale, we were smitten with a Goat Cheese Cheesecake garnished with Santa Monica Farmers Market berries. Accompanied with a Muscat de St. Jean de Minervois, the cheesecake was more savory than luscious so was paired masterfully with the Muscat.

Did somebody say Riesling! Yes, it’s time for sweet summer wines. The Wines of Germany present the 6th annual Riesling Week, July 26-August 1. During the week, Las Vegas restaurants will celebrate Riesling from Germany, as well as from Austria and Alsace. Via by the glass specials, flights or meal pairings, local restaurants will show you how European Riesling is the perfect complement to any warm-weather meal. The following Las Vegas restaurants are participating: Pinot Brasserie, Michael Mina Bellagio, Alizé Restaurant at the Top of the Palms,Vintner Grill, Rosemary’s Restaurant, Aureole Restaurant, and Nora’s Wine Bar & Osteria. To quell your Riesling fever, visit

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