I started Sparkling or Still to share what I’m learning about food, but it is a natural pairing to talk about what I’m drinking, too.  I do like wine (and beer and cocktails), but I am not the most educated consumer.  In fact, my method of picking at the liquor store falls into a three-step method. 

1) What are we eating? I know people are saying you don’t have to stick with the poultry/fish/pasta = white and beef/tomato sauce = red, but for me that’s a simple rule of thumb. 

2) What have I had before? I like spicy, full reds and crisp, acidic whites. Malbec, Syrah, Pinot Gris, and Chardonnay. My favorite wine du jour is a Lambrusco Bianco: a sparkling white from Italy. 

3) The label design and name. Obviously the most scientific (!) way to choose what to drink, I am swayed by originality and creativity.  It’s a great tactic at wine shops like Best Sellers where they don’t always have enough staff to walk you through the options or  Union Square Wines where the sheer numbers of options are daunting without a little humor. I know refer to some of my favorite wines by their labels (rather than their names), for example: the one with the hippo “sitting” on the left hand label corner and pushing it down with his heft. 

Upbeat, sweet label with a petite babycake on the top.


I do love a good laugh at the labels, so I was thrilled when, in exchange for dinner, a friend brought a new brand for us to try because of my longtime nickname (“Babycakes”). The wine is from Cupcake Vineyards from the Central Coast of California. We tried both the Chardonnay and the Cabernet Sauvignon, and they were nice compliments to the meal.  I would definitely get the Chardonnay again, and I’m not alone: Wine Spectator gave it an 88 point rating in Spring 2009. We did end up with a third of a bottle of the red left, so I used it to amp up my pasta sauce for dinner the next night! 

I’d like to note, that it was the first time I ever used my new Robert Mondavi by Waterford stemware. They are striking glasses! So lightweight, delicate and fragile, they enhance the drink by being such a beautiful vessel! 

Thanks for reading and happy drinking! EE