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Wanda Mann
New York City
I am a native New Yorker with a passion for travel, food & wine, and little black dresses!
Recent Activity
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Destructive, dangerous, volatile; throughout history volcanos have wrought havoc. But things of great beauty often rise from the ashes and some of Italy's most exciting wines are being produced from the rich soils on the slopes of Sicily's Mt. Etna. The Cusumano family has been one of the trailblazers in the region and their Alta Mora wines beautifully showcase why these wines are so captivating. image courtesy of Alta Mora Mt. Etna is Europe's largest active volcano and Alta Mora means "tall and black" - an apt description of Etna's elevation of nearly 11,000 feet and its black volcanic soil.... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at The Black Dress Traveler
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Like many wine aficionados, I spend a great deal of time analyzing what's in my glass. Acidity, tannins, balance, authenticity - these are all important factors when evaluating a wine. But just as important, perhaps the most important quality, is how a wine makes me feel. For some, Malbec's ubiquity and consistency have rendered it boring. I respectfully disagree. Malbec may be Argentina's signature red grape but there is no one-size-fits-all Malbec wine. Argentine winemakers continue to push the boundaries and explore the many facets of Malbec. Malbec expresses terroir beautifully and I'm particularly excited by high-altitude plantings, single vineyard... Continue reading
Posted May 10, 2018 at The Black Dress Traveler
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The Wonder Women of Bordeaux - Valérie Vialard (Château Latour Martillac), Valérie Lavigne (University of Bordeaux, Institute of Vine and Sciences), Corinne Comme (Château du Champ des Treilles), and Cécile Ha (Wines of Bordeaux). Winemaking isn't for the weak. From the vine to the cellar; authentic winemaking demands patience, intuition, innovation, and a multitude of strengths. A group of women winemakers from Bordeaux have proven themselves in possession of all these traits, and more, as they challenge the notion that wines from Bordeaux are overpriced, old-fashioned, and always red. While hoity-toity wines remain an important part of Bordeaux's identity, the... Continue reading
Posted May 9, 2018 at The Black Dress Traveler
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After many false starts, it seems that springtime has finally arrived. A beautiful bottle of rosè wine is the perfect way to toast the sunshine and balmy breezes. I drink rosè year-round but there's no denying that these pretty pink wines are particularly suited to the flirty and vibrant mood of the warmer seasons. While wonderful rosé wines are made around the globe, the current pink obsession was fueled by wines from France, especially the pale beauties of Provence. To kick off rosé season in style, start with my selection of eight elegant French wines from Provence, Champagne, Languedoc, and... Continue reading
Posted May 7, 2018 at The Black Dress Traveler
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One of the many joys of wine is getting to spend time with the people that turn grapes into drinkable art; their talent and passion inspire me everyday. New York City is always a top destination for winemakers and my hometown hosts a never-ending parade of tasting events. Each month or so, my new Wine About Town column will showcase some of the marvelous winemakers & tastemakers that I've had the pleasure of sharing a bottle with at events in NYC. There is never a drought of great Italian wine tastings in the Big Apple, so this inaugural edition of... Continue reading
Posted Apr 1, 2018 at The Black Dress Traveler
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Getting through the long & dark days of winter is reason enough to celebrate! A fine red wine is a year-round pleasure so why not toast the start of spring with a bold sip? My five elegant picks from Italy, California, France, and Chile are absolutely worth splurging on. Go ahead and treat yourself! Michele Chiarlo "Tortoniano" Barolo 2012 ($54.99) Piedmont, Italy Silky and sultry, Tortoniano is more flirty and fruit-forward than many young-ish Barolos. Michele Chiarlo cleverly thins the Nebbiolo grape clusters and harvests them on the later side so that the fruit attains a higher concentration of flavors.... Continue reading
Posted Mar 29, 2018 at The Black Dress Traveler
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Wine with an Alpine view! The Dolomite Mountains are the heart & soul of Alto Adige and the traditional customs of Alpine culture still resonate in modern times. Are we still in Italy? Why are so many people speaking German? No, I didn't land in the wrong country, I was in Alto Adige! Also known as Südtirol (South Tyrol), Alto Adige is located in northeast Italy and is bordered by Austria and Switzerland. Part of Austria for more than five centuries, Alto Adige was annexed by Italy after World War I but it has retained a rich Austrian culture and... Continue reading
Posted Mar 21, 2018 at The Black Dress Traveler
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"Nature is a temple but it lives by contrasts. You must respect, observe, understand, study it. But you have to fight to get something out of it. Nature is a dialectical discourse." - Pete Weimer. When you close your eyes and imagine a winemaker from Piedmont, you'd be forgiven for not immediately picturing Peter Weimer. Affectionately known as Pete, this former software executive with German roots gave up corporate life in Switzerland and purchased Cascina Ebreo in 1991 with Romy Gygax, his partner in wine and life. Pete may not have had formal training as a winemaker but he is... Continue reading
Posted Mar 17, 2018 at The Black Dress Traveler
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Charles Braastad, Managing Director, is the 9th generation to produce Delamain Cognac. One of my favorite teachers would jokingly promise us precocious teenagers a snifter of his finest Cognac as a reward for a particularly insightful comment. His classroom manner may raise eyebrows today but it seared the impression that Cognac was the tipple of choice for the elegant and erudite as they sat by fireplaces reading great works of literature. That Masterpiece Theatre-ish image of Cognac has always stayed with me but a recent tasting with Charles Braastad of Delamain Cognac reminded me that just like my adored teacher,... Continue reading
Posted Mar 11, 2018 at The Black Dress Traveler
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“We are particularly proud to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the Oscars. This anniversary bottle represents the history of excellence that unites the Academy and Piper-Heidsieck. These magnums, bottled in Reims and enjoyed in Los Angeles, are the very expression of the universal magic of cinema, to which we are paying tribute.” Benoît Collard, Executive Director for Piper-Heidsieck Film buffs and fashionistas are in a frenzy as the 90th Oscars approach. Who will win? What will they wear? But there's another important question that must be answered on Hollywood's glitziest night - What will they drink? I can't predict the... Continue reading
Posted Feb 28, 2018 at The Black Dress Traveler
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Are we really going to talk about cork? I confess that this was my initial reaction when I was invited to meet with representatives of APCOR (Portuguese Cork Association). As a wine lover, I absolutely respect cork as an essential part of the wine preservation process. But can talking about a bottle closure be as sexy as talking about wine? Maybe cork fever is contagious but I spent almost 2 hours corking out with Portuguese cork gurus João Rui Gomes Ferreira (President of APCOR) and Carlos de Jesus, (Operational Director, APCOR). So I begin with an apology to cork -... Continue reading
Posted Feb 28, 2018 at The Black Dress Traveler
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Organic and gorgeous Garnacha grapes at Las Moradas de San Martín in Spain. Spain and France may speak different languages but these two wine-loving cultures are bound by Garnacha. Known as Grenache in French, Garnacha is one of the most widely planted grapes in the world but it truly thrives in its place of origin: the hot and dry Mediterranean terrain of eastern Spain and southern France. (It also has a strong presence in the Italian region of Sardinia where it is called Cannonau.) For many years, Garnacha was best known as a blending grape but it is finally in... Continue reading
Posted Feb 22, 2018 at The Black Dress Traveler
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image courtesy of Domaine Bousquet Who says a vacation can't change your life? When third-generation winemaker Jean Bousquet visited Argentina in 1990, he became so captivated by the rugged and soaring beauty of the Gualtallary Valley in Mendoza that he began uprooting his life in Carcassonne, in the south of France. It took a few years, but in 1997 Bousquet purchased a substantial parcel of land and this French family began a new chapter as Argentine winemakers in dramatic fashion at an altitude of 4,000 ft. in Tupungato - at one of the highest altitude wine vineyards in Mendoza and... Continue reading
Posted Feb 19, 2018 at The Black Dress Traveler
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"Champagne is all about sharing - it's a rich, passion-filled world. I love to share. I love dinners with friends, good conversation, exchanging ideas and different points of view. I love to celebrate, to make every moment in life as good as it can be." - Benoît Gouez, Moët & Chandon, Chef de Cave The only things more luminous than the crystal-cool ambiance of the swanky Baccarat Hotel were the elegant Moët & Chandon champagnes in our glasses and winemaker Benoît Gouez's ebullient personality. Tasting champagne with Benoît was a beautiful reminder that our best wine experiences are often shaped... Continue reading
Posted Feb 14, 2018 at The Black Dress Traveler
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Many of my friends tease me about being a hopeless romantic and I'm fine with that. One of the many reasons that I adore chatting with winemakers is their tendency to share my full wine glass perspective on life - why do anything halfway? Love and Mother Nature are the most powerful forces on the planet and devoting one's life to winemaking requires an optimistic but strong spirit that can withstand Mother Nature's mercurial moods. Whether the harvest is magnificently perfect or heartbreakingly challenging, a winemaker maintains a loving, patient, and respectful bond with nature. Erica Crawford of Loveblock brings... Continue reading
Posted Feb 9, 2018 at The Black Dress Traveler
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Michele and Stefano Chiarlo In a world that seems to increasingly regard superficiality as a virtue, it is refreshing to attend a celebration of genuine talent and impressive longevity. The words icon and legend are often tossed around too casually but they authentically apply to winemaker Michele Chiarlo. His namesake winery in Piedmont, in the north of Italy, is world-renowned for its elegant and exceptional wines. Mr. Chiarlo was recently in New York City to celebrate a tremendous milestone - his 60th harvest and the 40th anniversary of the partnership with his importer in the United States, Kobrand. If you... Continue reading
Posted Feb 6, 2018 at The Black Dress Traveler
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Real romance isn't just a one-day phenomenon but at least Valentine's Day puts love and affection in the spotlight. We need more love in the world and the vibrant reds and good vibes of Valentine's Day brighten up the grey mood of winter. Chilly nights are the perfect time to share a bottle of wine with someone special. Heat things up on February 14th, and all winter long, with one of these sexy wines! Vilarnau Brut Reserva ($14.99) Your romantic soundtrack should include the sound of a popping cork! Share a bottle or two of beautiful Vilarnau Cava with your... Continue reading
Posted Feb 4, 2018 at The Black Dress Traveler
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GAUDIr Seafood Paella prepared with Bomba Rice, Monkfish, Sepia, Shrimp, Clams & Saffron. Comfort food isn't just resigned to the flavors of our childhood but often includes dishes that captivated us during our travels. My passion for Spanish cuisine was ignited by the two years I studied in Spain. That seems a lifetime ago, but a single bite of saffrony seafood paella, thinly sliced Jamón Ibérico, and even the simple perfection of pan con tomate, evokes beautiful memories. image courtesy of GAUDIr For my most recent foray into the fabulous flavors of Spain, I only had to walk a few... Continue reading
Posted Jan 28, 2018 at The Black Dress Traveler
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image courtesy of Piper-Heidsieck Few are nominated, and even fewer walk the stage in victory, but everyone at the 90th Oscars® will drink like a winner thanks to Piper-Heidsieck! The most-awarded Champagne house of the century returns to the world's most glamorous red carpet as the sole Champagne to be served during the 90th Oscars awards season. To mark the milestone occasion, Piper-Heidsieck has created a stunning limited-edition magnum that captures the elegance of Hollywood's Golden Age. This best-dressed bottle is engraved with "90th Oscars®" and adorned with a 360-degree golden appliqué that evokes the Art Deco architecture of legendary... Continue reading
Posted Jan 27, 2018 at The Black Dress Traveler
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Yes, I tasted them all! A selection of corks from a recent Vouvray extravaganza. Chilly winter days may increase our cravings for hearty red wines, but there are many moments when I find myself wanting the lightness of a refreshing white. A delicious reminder of warmer and sunnier days, crisp white wines are also a way to keep your cool in overzealously heated rooms and even cut through the heaviness of winter cuisine. One of my favorite year-round white wines is Vouvray. Produced from Chenin Blanc (also known as Pineau de la Loire), Vouvray hails from the Loire Valley region... Continue reading
Posted Jan 7, 2018 at The Black Dress Traveler
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Carmenere - the deepest, darkest, and most dramatic of the red wine grapes. image courtesy of Wines of Chile Falling into a wine rut happens to the best of us. You fall in love with a wine and suddenly you've entered into a monogamous relationship, forsaking all other wines. But perhaps your palate doesn't feel the same rush of excitement on the umpteenth pour and familiarity has bred boredom instead of comfort. You don't need to permanently break up with your favorite wine but maybe it's time to flirt with something new to reignite your passion. The discovery of new... Continue reading
Posted Jan 3, 2018 at The Black Dress Traveler
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Baby, it's cold outside! Warm up these chilly winter nights with a hearty but elegant bottle of red wine. My five picks from Argentina, Spain, Italy, France, and the USA are certain to tastefully thaw you out! Bodega Norton "Privada" Family Blend 2014 ($26) Mendoza, Argentina The first taste of this beautiful wine transported me back to my 2015 visit to Bodega Norton in Mendoza and each sip carried me further along on that journey. But even if you've never been to Mendoza, this superb vino is an excellent example of the region's commitment to quality winemaking. Privada blends Argentina's... Continue reading
Posted Dec 27, 2017 at The Black Dress Traveler
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Nothing gets the party started like sparkling wine - the sound of a popping cork is music to everyone's ears and a cue to celebrate! While Champagne may be the most familiar and iconic bubbly, wonderful sparkling wines are made around the globe. Many sparkling wines are made in the Champagne method, via a second fermentation in the bottle, but only those from the Champagne region of France can legally be classified as Champagne. The holiday season is the perfect time to explore sparkling wines from different regions. Your tastebuds and your wallet will thank you - these wines are... Continue reading
Posted Dec 20, 2017 at The Black Dress Traveler
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When your name is known around the world for producing some of Italy's most extraordinary wines, staying in the relative comfort zone of your vineyards in Piedmont would be the safe thing to do. Lucky for us, the Gaja family does not believe in playing it safe. Gaja's winemaking roots in Piedmont run deep and can be traced back to 1859. But Gaja's journey towards icon status really kicked off in 1961 when Angelo Gaja began working at the family winery after completing studies in enology at Alba and Montpellier. Angelo introduced innovations that revolutionized winemaking at his family's winery... Continue reading
Posted Dec 19, 2017 at The Black Dress Traveler
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'Tis the season to celebrate and indulge in fantastic food and wine with friends and family. Why not wow your inner circle with some award-winning and acclaimed wines from Chile? Chilean wines are hotter than ever and gaining serious recognition for their quality, diversity, and affordability. Watch the video to learn more about Chilean wines in my free flowing conversation with Marybeth Bentwood, Executive Director of Wines of Chile. Marybeth shares tasting notes on four superb Chilean wines and great advice on visiting Chile - it was recently selected by Lonely Planet as the 2018 Best Country to Visit! The... Continue reading
Posted Dec 14, 2017 at The Black Dress Traveler