It’s that time of year where everyone wants to know which wine goes with the Thanksgiving Turkey..
Here are some fun wine classes around Thanksgiving that offer more than just the usual suspects like Beaujolais Nouveau and German Rieslings – both great, but there are so many fantastic and fun pairings to consider! The key to Thanksgiving is to consider the whole family..or at least those over 21 years of age – I mean does Aunt Harriet really want some complex pairing partner to her pumpkin pie with marshmallows? Maybe something not too heavy, and even a touch sweet works better! I always say bring 2 bottles to the Thanksgiving meal – one cheap for everybody who just wants something fun to drink and one for yourself..who’s going to notice anyway – just put your favorite bottle under the table, grab and pour when needed..
In this walk-around style event, you will be “Thankful” to taste 15 of our most sought-after. Those wines are hand-selected by our Chef and Sommelier Staff and beyond Beaujolais with 3 stations of wine styles that are perfect compliments to a traditional Thanksgiving feast. Whether you are planning dinner at your own home or want advice on what to bring to a party, our 3 sommeliers will assist you while you taste delicious, great value wines.
This is with Wine Workshop which not only does excellent tastings but some pretty awesome (pricey too!) wine dinners with some of the world’s greatest wine producers..Since Turley’s debut vintage of 1993, it was quickly established that Turley Cellars was deadly serious about making blockbuster Zinfandels from some of California’s oldest, pre-prohibition, head-pruned vineyards. The wines are made from super ripe grapes that express the essence of Zinfandel. Larry Turley’s wines are extraordinarily rich and clearly the most concentrated and powerful Zinfandels ever made. As Robert Parker has stated many times in the past, “Turley Cellars’ offerings have become the reference point for Zinfandel, as they are the most complex, concentrated, hedonistic wines ever produced from this varietal.”
As Fall turns to Winter and Thanksgiving and the December Holidays come close, it’s a fine time to explore the warming wonders of the world’s best fortified wines. They can be dry and savory (like Rainwater or Sercial Madeira) or sweet and unctuous (like Bual Madeira or Port). Some are complements to a fine meal, while others are the crowning touch after dessert. But all are fascinating, fun to explore, and very, very, delicious.
Join us on Sunday, November 23, as we explore the world of sweet and savory fortified wines from Port and Medeira. We’ll taste four Ports, ranging from a wood-aged white Port to a rare single-vintage Tawny and two wines from the great 2011 Vintage Port release:
Rozes Porto White Reserve NV
Quinta Dona Matilde Vintage Port 2011
Quinta do Noval Vintage Port 2011
Quinta Dona Matilde Colhieta Port 2004
For the Madeiras, we’ll travel back in time to the 18th Century, when Madeira was the most popular drink of our Founding Fathers. The Rare Wine Company and Madeira producer Barbeito have created a line-up of wines that showcase styles most popular in various cities of Colonial America – we’ll try four of them:
Barbeito New York Malmsey Reserve
Barbeito Boston Bual Reserve
Barbeito Baltimore Rainwater Reserve
Barbeito Charleston Sercial Reserve
We’ll serve you some wonderful pairing bites like walnuts, dried fruit, salty bleu cheeses, and even a little dark chocolate so you can enjoy how well the wines play with food. You’ll learn how they were created, are made, and the best way and time to enjoy each wine. Most of all, though, you’ll enjoy eight delicious fortified wines and a rousing good time!
I’ve loved attending wine dinners in the Washington, D.C. area (Northern Virginia and Maryland too!) for the past 15 years over at TasteDC . I’m sort of a wine dinner specialist – so what exactly does that mean? It basically means that I understand and consume plenty of wine, and the whole concept of creating a dinner around wine and food pairing just seems natural to me – and quite enjoyable!
My baby TasteDC just got hired to promote a series of wine dinners for a very reputable local Spanish restaurant chain – La Tasca Restaurants. I like both their concept and their willingness to use wine dinners and cooking classes as a smart way to extend their brand. Today’s restaurant goer has so many choices, but what will get her attention in the crowded restaurant scene. How about treating going out to eat as an experience for all the senses and not just an excuse to fill the belly? Just from experience, people who attend wine dinners are generally not only Foodies, but they’re also more intelligent, better paid, travel more and appreciate the nuances of pairing food and wine in a multi-course dinner. Sound snooty? Actually, wine dinners can be really fun, and often the banter and conversations are very interesting and entertaining!
Here’s a series of Washington, DC wine dinners, Virginia wine dinners and Maryland wine dinners that TasteDC is promoting/marketing for La Tasca:
4-Course Torres Spanish Wine Dinners,$75 inclusive of food, wine, tax & tip
Various Dates and La Tasca Locations – See Below
Fall Torres Wine Festival Dinners
8 Wines * 4 Course Dinner * Prize Trip to Spain * Flamenco Show
Fall Torres Wine Festival Dinners
8 Wines | 4 Course Dinner | Prize Trip to Spain | Flamenco Show
An Exciting Evening!
We are thrilled to invite you to join us for an incredible evening, complete with tastings of eight notable wines led by the passionate and amazing folks at Torres Wines. In addition, enjoy a four-course dinner prepared by executive chef Josu Zubikarai, an open bar, an exclusive flamenco performance, and a small gift to take with you. And let’s not forget that, as part of the Torres Wine Festival, all guests will be entered for a chance to win a trip for two to Barcelona, Spain!
Have you ever thought of wine as art? Now is your chance. This is definitely one you don’t want to miss!
When and Where?
We are hosting Torres Wine Dinners at all of our La Tasca locations. Every event will be held from 6-9pm. If events reach capacity, we will add additional dates.
It’s Cocktail (Half) Hour
For the first half hour, from 6–6:30, a choice of sangrias and signature appetizers will be served. During this time we will also introduce our Torres host, who will lead the wine tasting for the evening.
Wine, Anyone? Oh, and Dinner Too
Paella Square Prepared by Chef Josu, dinner will be served over three courses. At moments during dinner, guests will be led through a tasting (and a fascinating history) of some of Spain’s most interesting wines, stretching across various regions and including popular varietals like verdejo and tempranillo. Not a wine connoisseur? No worries, this is a perfect way to learn and get excited about wine.
Dessert will be served following dinner, along with coffee and teas and a featured dessert wine.
During dessert, watch the passion and the heritage of Spain come to life with a spirited flamenco performance from the most well-known dancers and musicians in the area.
What Else Do I Need To Know?
The cost of the event is $75 per guest and is all-inclusive — the wine tasting, dinner, all beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), dessert, flamenco performance and all taxes and gratuities are covered in the ticket price. Dress is casual and accommodations will be made for guests with any dietary restrictions.
To register for the event, please select one of the event dates shown on the calendar to the right. After selecting a date, scroll down the event details and click on “Book Now”. All guests will be entered for the chance to win a trip for two to Barcelona in 2014. Details on this contest and prize are being finalized, but information will be updated at the link on the right.
I really enjoyed this event with a family member of the Braida Winery in attendance – wine expert Norbert Reinisch, Braida’s Export Manager and Founder’s Son-In-Law. The tasting included Braida’s current releases of Montebruna, Il Baciale, Moscato d’Asti and Brachetto d’Acqui..But we also got to taste multiple vintages of Bricco dell’Uccellone and Ai Suma in a pre-dinner wine tasting that was fabulous! Norbert has in interesting personal story: he’s actually Austrian and began his career as a Doctor..somewhere along the line he fell in love with a member of the Braida Family and changed his career from internist to wine ambassador! As they say – tough job – now he gets to travel the world and promote his wine family’s wines and thell their story – I could think of worse jobs!
Monferrato Rosso Il Baciale 2011, $29.99
A blend of Barbera, Pinot Noir and I think Merlot – beautiful cherry fruit with a touch of pepper from the Pinot and some backbone from the Merlot
Barbera Bricco dell’Uccelone 2009, $84.99
Barbera Bricco dell’Uccelone 2010, $86.99
These two wines were both 100% Barbera but very different. The 2009 had amazing fruit-forward cherry and even a bit of baked apple fruit intensity, and oak was in the background but beautiful licorice/anise on the finish. The 2010 was tight and needs at least a few more years for the cherry fruit to break through the strong structure of French Oak tannins and red skin tannins as well which made this quite licorice on the finish and also a bit closed on the nose – this one will be much better 5 and even 10 years from now!
Barbera Ai Suma 2007, $121.99
Barbera Ai Suma 2009, $112.99
Again, these two wines were picked from the same vineyards, but from different vintages. From the intense aromatics to the first sip, the 2007 was just amazing on the palate with tons of cherry fruit, but also an added dimension – not just great acidity which Barbera is distinctly known for even in these hotter/riper vintages – but this wine had character and almost a brooding development of complexity. The tannins were there, but beautifully incorporated with fruit, oak and lush chewiness on my palate – I felt this wine luxuriously on my palate. The 2009 was also very good, but distintly had more chocolate, baked cherry pie and sweetness that surprised me a bit because it was younger. Make a note: these wines are both around 16% alcohol, so they are trophy wines that can stand-up competitively to top Bordeaux and Napa, but with so much more acidity to keep them refreshing!
Three Course Wine Dinner Menu
First Fluke Crudo with preserved lemon, moscatto gelee, frisee and local asian pear paired with 2012 Moscato d’Asti
Second Grilled Duck Breast “Autunno” Duck, chicharonnes, Barbera cherry gastrique with savory pumpkin and sage bread pudding paired with 2011 Barbera Monte Bruna
Third Plum crisp with Local plums, brown sugar farro crumble and local goat cheese gelato paired with 2012 Brachetto d’Acqui
Little known fact: the grape varietal “Barbera” was once a throw-away jug wine kind of grape that was never taken very seriously in the Piedmont Region of Italy where Barolo and Barbaresco are the King and Queen of wines respectively. Guiseppe Bologna, the founder of Braida winery, was the first back in the 1980’s to produce prodigious wines by planting Barbera vines on his family’s land and using new French oak as his aging barriques.
A Wine & Food Festival Two Hundred Years in the Making..
Epicurience .. So what makes a wine and food festival a great experience? Well to start, it should have the participation of lot’s of great wineries and Epicurience – dubbed as A food and wine experience so epic, in fact, that we’re calling it something completely new – had a great turnout of Virginia wineries and wines.
Picture a food and wine festival so unique that no existing name quite fit.
Held in the East Coast’s premier wine region, Loudoun, Virginia: DC’s Wine Country.
It’s where insiders come to savor award-winning wines and seek out noteworthy farm-to-table cuisine.
Taste the finest in Virginia wines, meet top tastemakers and master winemakers, sample cuisine prepared by celebrated chefs from around the country.
Below is the menu with details – overall, I really enjoyed the wines, but especially enjoyed the aged Valsotillo Vendimia Seleccionada Reserva 2004 D.O. Ribera del Duero – and the importer Estebe explained it best – it had quite a bit of acidity to balance the tannins and American oak after aging and made the wine sing on my palate! This says alot about high alcohol levles of today’s wines: they may be enjoyable for a few sips or a glass, but acidity helps to refresh your palate and make them pair better with food. I also really enjoyed the aromatically “barnyardy” 1999 Valsotillo Gran Reserva – this was an unusual wine in that it had alot of funk on the nose, but it had a pretty delicate structure – something kind of pensive, maybe a wine to discuss philosophy or to cellar for many years and share with only close friends..there’s something to be said for that!
Food-wise, Taberna really excels, but the steak stood out for it’s simplicity, tenderness and good salty flavor – it’s rare that a steak wakes up my palate, but the flavors of this with the Tempranillo revived my tastebuds and actually I was hankering for more!
Enjoy perusing the menu..and remember..
I’m Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler !
Delicious Quail with Lupini Beans!
Taberna del Alabardero Presents: Bodegas Ismael Arroyo Wine Tasting Dinner
Executive Chef Javier Romero, In collaboration with Sommelier Gustavo Iniesta, invite you to a unique Wine Tasting experience, where you are going to discover the Wines from One of the most Important Wineries in Ribera Del Duero Region: Bodegas Ismael Arroyo Featuring: Estebe Salgado Bodegas Ismael Arroyo Ambassador and Tradewindsspecialty, Inc Owner Price Per person: $95.00 (Tax and Service Included)
Friday, May 29th 2013 Reception 6:30pm Dinner 7:00pm Cocktail Reception Endivia, Mollejas y Mousse de Pato Endive, Sweetbreads and Duck Mousse Mejillones Tigre Stuffed Mussels Shells Ajoblanco de Gambas al Ajillo Cold Garlic and Almond Soup with Garlic Shrimp Flavor Bohigas Brut Nature Reserva D.O. Cava
First Appetizer Ensalada de Pochas, Codorniz a la frambuesa y lascas de Foie White Bean Salad, raspberry-quail Stew and Foie chips Valsotillo Crianza 2009 D.O. Ribera del Duero
Second Appetizer Bacalao Confitado con txangurro y tomate sobre un Caldo Ahumado Confit Codfish with Crabmeat and Tomato over a Smoky Broth Valsotillo Reserva 2004 D.O. Ribera del Duero
First Course Rabo de Toro en Estofado de Noras, Calabaza Liquida y Cogollos en Tempura Nora (Sweet Pepper) Stewed Oxtail, Liquid Pumpkin and Heart Lettuce in Tempura Valsotillo Vendimia Seleccionada Reserva 2004 D.O. Ribera del Duero
Second Course Rib-Eye de Ternera, Tortilla Espanola e Higados Encebollados Veal Rib-Eye, Spanish Potato Omelet with Liver and Onions Valsotillo Gran Reserva 1999 D.O. Ribera del Duero
Dessert Queso de Cabrales en Texturas con Helado de Membrillo Cabrales (Blue Cheese) in Textures with Quince Ice Cream Alexandro Pedro Ximenez D.O. Jerez-Xerez-Sherry
Portugal is Unique in that they produce 250 grape varietals unique to their region..
OK, I didn’t actually try to taste 250 new grape varietals (can you say “Alvarinho”, “Baga” “Trincadeira” or “Touriga Nacional” ?) but I did try to better understand the wonderful variety of wines coming from a country with a unique language and known more for fortified wines – their Ports – than for their still wines.
Trade Tastings can be a SERIOUS Affair!
The best part of my tasting was the seated seminar with Evan Goldstein
– I had seen him in videos, but it was great to actually meet the wine powerhouse in person. Passionate is not a wasted word on this wine lover – he really presented with energy and humor and a keen sense of fun and adventure – he popped a few key Portguese words into the presentation but for the obvious effect – few people understand the language!
Evan Goldstein of Full Circle Wine Solutions was quite engaging..
So what did I learn from the seated tasting of 7 wines (it was supposed to be 8, but one never made it through shipping!) ?
-Vinho Verde which translates as “Green Wine” does NOT mean green-hued wine, but rather a wine meant to be consumed “young”.
-Portuguese “Verdelho” is NOT the same as Spanish “Verdejo”
-There is a Rose Vinho Verde
-There are many micro-climates and the wines from the southern planes tend to ripen very evenly from year to year.
-Moscatel de Setubal is a Muscat Fortified wine other than Port from the southern Peninsula and has more of a golden raisin/apricot flavor than Ports more prunish, dark fruit flavors.
Overall I was impressed by the consistency of the wines – most had abundent acidity and enough fruit and flavor for backbone. Some of the reds such as the pure Touriga Nacional’s were quite tannic and “cedar box” spice, but still the average quality of wines was quite good.
I do want to mention that TasteDC was affiliated with the Consumer Grand Tasting that evening and helped to sell it out – although the wines were the same in the consumer tasting, the food was much better than the Trade got which is actually a good thing. Also the food was quite good – really tender carved Roast Beef, Ham Table, Specialty Taco Table and something I hadn’t seen before – a Ramen Noodle table with the chance to choose your own noodles and fixings- this kept the Vegetarians happy – Cheers!
“In Order to Make Great Wine, the Vines Must Suffer..”
I attended a recent trade tasting given by the Bureau of Burgundy Wines on Tuesday, April 23rd at the Capital Wine School in Washington, D.C. – it was taught by a very affable and precise Jean-Pierre Renard who took us through history, philosophy and ultimately a tasting of 9 wines from the lowest classification up to a Grand Cru – Corton Grand Cru, les Renardes, 2008 Domaine Maillard.
We covered the basics of Burgundy which can actually be quite confusing. In a nutshell, Burgundy is a region and the wines are named from their location in that region. The basic breakdown is Regional wines, Village wines, Premiere Cru wines and Grands Cru wines, each respective layer being more rare and specific to a smaller number of wines and thus normally costing more as well. If you purchase a regular Bourgogne with little more information on the bottle, it most likely can come from grapes grown anywhere in that region. Village wines have regionality, but are not specific to any site while Premiere Cru and Grands Cru grapes come from specified parcels. Add to this the complexity rule-wise of “climats” which loosely translates according to the speaker as the “DNA of the individual Bourgogne Vineyards” – I actually found a site in English that delves deeper into the climats concept – the “climats”. Climats equates closely with “terroir”..
OK, now that you’re probably totally confused, let me say that much of what the speaker said rang true with what I had learned over the past 15 years at various wine classes and courses.
Burgundy has been producing serious wine since the Roman times, and afterwards the plots of land came from Church donations by nobles – they always gave their worst sites (poorest and rockiest soils) to the local Monasteries. Ironically, the rocky soils and hills they donated actually produce the world’s greatest wines!
The concept of “terroir” has really been developed from the wines of Burgundy more so than any other region – why?
1)They pretty much only use Pinot Noir for red wines and Chardonnay for white wines (a few exceptions like Aligote, but these are not blended)
2)hillside vineyards grow very different quality grapes from vineyards grown in the valley – hillier/higher sites produce more intense wine flavors, valley grapes are more generic.
3)Each vineyard site has it’s own weather patterns, geology, geography and even human/historical conditions. This last point is very confusing to most Americans: wine is made by humans, NOT by nature! Choosing the right site and propagating the best grapes is a human endeavor, but Nature is always adding chance to the equation. There is science as well as mysticism in the vineyard, maybe even some witchcraft..
“People can’t wait for aging wine any more, they want to drink everything young..”
A sad refrain by Jean-Pierre, but the reality of the modern wine drinker – people today don’t want to age their wines, so they want to drink young vintages before they’re ready to shine. There is so much history in Burgundy and even though winemaking today is better than ever, to truly understand and appreciate a fine age-worthy Burgundy, you simply must wait – Patience!
Because one can never have enough wine, I had a glass of Chandon in the Lounge before the event. There was an interesting assortment of characters in the lounge including a gentleman who used to frequent the restaurant when it was The Jockey Club and two conservative women arguing about Obama. My bartender had lived in DC since the 1980s and used to live on 17th street.
After I finished my glass, I checked in to the wine dinner. I found out I was seated at table 40 – with the winemaker. That’s how important I am (or that I like to think that). The restaurant has been renovated, but still maintains the old school/old DC decor. There was a lovely display set near a bar area of the wines featured for the evening.
2011 Miner Simpson Vineyard Viognier
For the reception the viognier was poured. It really is the perfect aperitif. It was incredibly aromatic with the honey suckle notes strongest on the finish.
Gary spoke briefly about the 2011 Miner Simpson Vineyard Viognier and presented the 2010 Miner, Napa Valley Chardonnay and 2008 Miner Wild Yeast, Napa Valley Chardonnay.
He provided background and history as to the winery, the use of solar panels at Miner and the incredible amount of varietals planted.
I was surprised at how Gary was down to Earth and incredibly pleasant. Besides speaking to the group at large, he frequently walked around to speak individually to the attendees.
Mango and Avocado Salad, Coriander Cilantro Oil
The first course was paired with 2010 Chardonnay and 2008 Wild Yeast Chardonnay. The plating on this and all dishes was spectacular. The buttery notes in both wines went incredibly well with the lobster and avocado notes. There was a creaminess that as a person who normally hates avocado (yes I hate it and no, don’t try to change my mind) was incredibly harmonious.
I was excited to speak with Gary about these wines especially the wild yeast. Apparently, he likes using wild yeast and giving up that control.
He was quite entertaining explaining how wild yeast can start the fermentation and give up or burn out quickly. I imagined little yeasts partying too hard and then dying off as they made this amazing chardonnay.
The 2010 chardonnay did not spend any time in oak, but did go through some malolactic fermentation. The wild yeast had spicer notes on the finish and was more viscous.
2010 Garys’ Vineyard Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands
Garys’ Vineyard is a 50 acre vineyard that was planted in 1995 by friends and growers Gary Franscioni and Gary Pisoni.
I love anything that incorporates an egg especially quail egg. The quail was perfectly cooked and seasoned. The pinot noir and quail worked well together bringing out additional flavors.
Gary and I discussed the concept of masculine and feminine pinot noirs. I used to have a boss who hated that description. Gary felt that this pinot was more masculine due to the body.
It was somewhat bright with big cherry notes on the nose with some plum on the finish.
Pepper Crusted Virginia Bison
Wine Sauce, Horseradish Cauliflower Puree, French Beans
2009 Stagecoach Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
As you can see, I really wanted to try this amazing dish and forgot to take a photo before diving in (d’oh).
The 2009 Stagecoach Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon is almost entirely made of cabernet sauvignon with about 5% cabernet franc and 5% merlot blended in. It was aged for 21 months in 60% new French oak. Definitely exhibits some of that almost toasty, vanilla notes on the nose.
The wine was silky with a lushness that went well with the pepper crusted Virginia bison. This was my favorite wine of the evening.
Buttermilk Panna Cotta
Fresh Berries, Blood Orange Sabayon
2008 “the Oracle” Meritage Blend
The Oracle is a Meritage Blend utilizing Bordeaux style grapes (cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, malbec,merlot and petit verdot). It spends 21 months in 55% French oak. It was incredibly balanced and full bodied. There were hints of cassis and blackberries.
I was surprised (like others) that this wine was paired with the dessert. But, it totally worked! I think worked best with the top layer of the dessert – blood orange sabayon.
The Chef, Chef Ferrier, and some of his staff thanked us at the end of the night. They also answered questions regarding Virginia bison. I think some people were becoming more difficult and drunk as the night wore on.
In the end, this was an amazing experience with spectacular food, wine and service. I would highly recommend attending a future wine dinner at the Capital Wine Festival.
Editor’s Note: here are some upcoming Wine Dinners in the DC Area on TasteDC:
Last week I was lucky enough to attend two different events that were part of the 14th Annual International Food and Wine Festival. I had two more events that I could have attended, but my liver asked me to take a break.
On Tuesday, I volunteered with Washington Wine Academy to pour at the Regional Food and Wine Celebration. After our check-in and briefing, I immediately ran to the Etude table. I poured the 2009 Estate Chardonnay Carneros and 2009 Pinot Noir. I love the Pinot Noir. The nose was quite Earthy as if it were a baby Burgundy. It was so smooth with a lingering finish. Many people refused to try the Chardonnay, but I think that’s more people’s own hangs ups on Chardonnay. It was very balanced with vanilla, toast and some citrus mid-palate.
Around 9:00pm, most of the volunteers, distributors who poured, staff and some attendees wandered down to the VIP after party. That’s where I decided to open a Stag’s Leap Chardonnay…or two among other bottles. I was so excited to finally try it. Another great Chardonnay with a creamy mouth feel and green apple flavors throughout.
I ended up taking the last train home and arriving about 1:00am.
The next day at work was somewhat rough. I almost didn’t make it to my second event – Sommelier Showdown. I won tickets by answering a trivia question on Facebook. Yes, it can be that easy.
I was lucky enough to bring a friend and ran into another friend at the event who writes her own blog. This event like the night before took place in the lovely atrium area of the Ronald Reagan Trade Building. After checking out some of the wines being poured and food, we decided to start with scotch. SCOTCH! There was a representative pouring Glenmorangie 12 year, 12 year Sauternes, 12 year Sherry Cask and 12 year Port Cask. I only tried the Sauternes and Sherry as I thought I would finish with the Port cask. I was surprised at how I preferred the Sherry Cask. The spice and sweetness was much more balanced and smooth throughout.
There were a few tables I was in love with at the Sommelier Showdown. The Achaval Ferrer table was pouring the Quimera 2010 and Finca Bella Vista 2010. Their wines are consistently highly rated. The 2010 Finca Bella Vista is a top ten wine of 2012 according to Wine Spectator and received a 95 point rating. It’s everything that I want out of a red wine – powerful, intense with silky tannins.
Leah Cheston, Wine Director, Ris, won the Sommelier Showdown! It was definitely a challenge. We were able to taste the wines after the competition was over.
Again, second day in a row, I go to the after party event. It was an amazing time, however, I forced myself to get home by 11:30pm.
Friday and Saturday simply fell apart. I had tickets to attend the Last Sipper and International Tasting, but could not muster the energy. I even ended up canceling my Restaurant Week Reservations.
Even though I needed a good part of the weekend to sleep, last week was a great time with wine, food and friends.