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You Can Never Learn Enough.

You Can Never Learn Enough.

That’s True With Wine Too.

Spending time with your kid is great, and when you both love wine it’s even better.  Not too long ago, my son Chris came to visit and the highlight of the week included talking wine credentials.  Much of the visit with Chris included him showing off his new CMS level
1 pin. He was very proud to join in that fine organization.  Here’s why this new swag badge means so much.

CMS is the Court of Master Sommeliers, the worldwide organization that is recognized as the standard
in wine education. Founded in 1969 in Britain, the US chapter opened in April 1986. The goal is to
provide education to all, but more specifically to the restaurant and hospitality sectors. There are 4
levels to CSM certifications:

  • Level 1 – Introductory Open to anyone with several years of experience in the restaurant/hotel
    industry. This course is about the basics of winemaking, the regions of winemaking around the world,
    different grape varieties, pairing wine with food and basic beer, spirits and sake knowledge. The course
    is 2 days and includes multiple choice questions, serving technique, and introduction to deductive
  • Level 2 – Certified Sommelier This is a more in-depth course that covers wine theory, wine service and
    has 2 blind tastings. The pass rate is about 60%.
  • Level 3 – Advanced Sommelier After passing the level 2 course, you will need around 2 years of study
    and practice to take the level 3 course. This test is a blind tasting of 6 wines, much more in-depth short
    answer questions and serious service proficiency. The pass rate is 30%.
  • Level 4 – Master Sommelier As you can imagine, this isn’t easy. Since the inception over 40 years
    ago, only 230 people in the world have achieved this great honor. This three-part exam covers all regions
    of the world. You need at least 10 to 15 years in the industry to be prepared. The other part is that you
    can’t pass the blind tasting of specific wines without having tasted them in the first place. Count on
    spending at least a quarter of a million dollars on wine to get your palette the knowledge it needs. There
    is a less than 10% pass rate.

Now here is the best part. Wine like art is only up to you. Drink what you enjoy, what fills your soul,
what makes you feel alive. Enjoy wine with people that you love sharing life with… it won’t matter what
you drink!

Until next time… Cheers!

Tim Ruys is the operating partner at Ruth’s Chris Steak House. Have questions about wine? Email Tim at:

Which Came First, Beer or Wine?

Which Came First, Beer or Wine?

The answer is… Beer!

Yes, it’s sad to say that my beloved wine has been upstaged in history by another tasty beverage. In fact, beer is the third most popular beverage on the planet, after water and tea. In the US, we each drink about 23 gallons of beer per year. That is much less than the world leaders in beer consumption, the Czech Republic. They drink a whopping 40 gallons per person per year!

Archaeological digs find the first evidence of beer making around 9500 BC during the Neolithic age. Those cavemen knew how to party…  Beer is made from the fermented starches of what are basically cereal grains, barley, wheat and rice, even some corn. Hops are added both as a flavoring (bitter) and as a preservative. Of course, nowadays, you can find almost every flavor in your beer. There are always pumpkin ales around the holidays, and lemon or lime flavored beers in the summer. The Phoenicians were so picky about their beer, that if a bad batch was made, the person who made it was drowned in it!

Like all things, tastes have changed over the years. 30 years ago, draft beer was considered downscale, and everybody wanted a bottle in their hand to show off the brand they were drinking. With the craft beer revolution, the only thing a bottle is good for is to show someone how old you are! If you want to stay healthy, drink beer. Studies show that a beer or two a day can reduce your risk of kidney stones by 40 percent.

I will say this… when you have finished the yard work, and it is 90 degrees outside, an ice cold beer tastes really good. What is my beer of choice? Well, a delicious Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon of course!

“If You Can’t Be With the One You Love, Then…”

“If You Can’t Be With the One You Love, Then…”

Love the one you’re with.”

Thanks Stephen Stills! That goes for wine as well.

You may be a die-hard Cabernet fan, but you find yourself devoid of Cabernet. What to do? The same goes for many fine
varietals. Let’s work on getting you out of our comfort zones just a smidge.  Ok, so you love Cabernet Sauvignon; who doesn’t? If you love Cab, try a nice Italian Amarone. You will find that the viscosity is similar. The fruit “punch” of the Amarone mimics that of a Sonoma Cab, and
there is that old world flavor that comes across like the leather in a Napa Cab. Try a Luigi Righetti Amarone, it makes the Corvina grape sing!

Zinfandel is king in California and is my favorite with a gooey cheeseburger. But why not try the cousin of Zin, Nero d’Avola from Sicily. The warm climate makes these grapes burst with flavor. You will find it a little more on the acid and less on the fruit than a Zin, but equally as full bodied. This is probably the most famous export of Sicily. You will find it very easy on the pocketbook!  For those of you that can’t live without your Chardonnay, I am suggesting a trip to Viognier land! I love Viognier. It has the full-bodied characteristics of a great unoaked Chard but is oh so much more aromatic, think peaches, pears, and violets. Viognier is the classic Rhone white go-to. But you will also find it in the states, Australia and New Zealand. One of my favorites comes from Wild Horse Vineyards in Santa Barbara County.

So you love Sauvignon Blanc. Why not try one of my favorite “porch pounders” Albarino from Spain. Originally brought by monks to northwest Spain, Albarino is similar to Viognier in its aromatics but is drier and the alcohol level is usually between 11 and 12 percent, hence the name “porch pounder”! Want a delicious Albarino? Try the 2016 Peter Franus… delicious. Finally, you are a Merlot drinker that is ready to venture out. I would suggest Merlot’s distant Grandpappy, Cabernet Franc. Cab Franc is a father to Merlot and it’s most famous offspring, Cabernet
Sauvignon. While it has the same intensity as Cab Sauv, it is much paler in color and has a higher acid content. It really is a fabulous wine that you all should enjoy. One of my favorites is also the favorite of the Napa Valley, Peju Winery. Probably best to decant an hour or so before enjoying, as with most red wines.

Until next time… Cheers!