Select Wine Lists & Cellars

Wines, Lists, & Wine Cellars

The newest addition to our blog site is one of the most important aspects of the total dining experience. We are speaking of wine. (In upcoming weeks spirits will be an addition to our site along with craft beers).

To quote Charles Baudelaire, “One should always be drunk. That’s all that matters. But, with what? With Wine, with poetry, or with virtue, as you choose.”  Now that was my selection. Patti prefers, “I cook with wine, sometimes I even add it to the food,” from that noted consumer of wine W.C. Image result for wc fieldsFields. Thanks to #Goodreads for great quotes.

We are of course not advocates of “always being drunk.”

(picture of W.C. Fields is a copyright)


If there was ever a time and place for somewhat indulgent behavior it would certainly be at a noted wine cellar such as the one that exist at Bern’s Steakhouse. (Learn more about this amazing wine cellar and Bern’s Steakhouse offerings at their website:

What are we talking about? In our opinion it might be the closest thing to heaven on earth.   Bern’s Steakhouse and their wine cellar is first on our list. Here’s a taste. Image result for picture of berns steakhouse wine cellarThis photo appears on the Bern’s website.

According to Bern’s sources & the website their wine cellar “contains more than 6800 different selections.” That amounts to an inventory of roughly half a million bottles.

Yes, you have to see this cool (literally) and totally haunting room filled with history.  Speaking of history Bern’s Wine Cellar is also a “perennial recipient” of the Wine Spectator Grand Award, the magazines highest honor. This wine selection pairs well with the  superb menu offered by Bern’s. In addition to  over 1,000 bottles of white wines, over 5,000 bottles of red wines and over 200 bottles of sparkling wines.  Amazingly some of their vintages by the glass  date back to 1973. This is a truly #remarkable experience.

Our last venture to Bern’s found Patti enjoying a glass of crisp William Hill Chardonnay that paired nicely with our appetizer of Oysters Rockefeller.  As she is more of a white wine fan and I am more of a red wine drinker it is rare that we will share a bottle of wine. (We have to be responsible drivers you know).  I admit that William Hill offers a very nice Chardonnay at a great value & we will share more with you about this vineyard later. But, for me I detected a slight tartness followed by the aroma of pear, apple, & to me, some thyme. (You will have to review the chart below taken from The Essential Scratch and Sniff Guide to Becoming A Wine Expert by Richard Betts  & recall the tastes on the tongue & aroma’s that combine through the nose to create the pleasures of wine).  

I will offer more about the 2014 Honig Cabernet Sauvignon that I personally enjoyed at Bern’s Steakhouse in a highlighted section, but I felt compelled to order the wine not only because of it’s deliciousness but also because the owner visited our restaurant in the Allegheny Mountains of Virginia to share her wines many years ago and we have been loyal to their label since that time.

We would like you to know that Bern’s has tremendous talent on their staff including Eric Renaud as the Wine Director & Brad Dixon as the manager  of several  Wine Sommeliers  Both men are extremely well traveled and well versed in the art of fine wine.  They are also accessible to assist with wine selections in the dining room and share their vast knowledge with others during special seminars.

Throughout the year Bern’s offers many opportunities to taste their spectacular wine offerings including the up and coming Winefest which you can read about on their website.


This incredible crystal decanter is one of the remarkable sites to behold in the Bern’s Wine Cellar.






Image supplied by Getty Images

“Wine is one of the most civilized things in the world and one of the  most natural things of the world that has been brought to the greatest perfection and it offers a greater range for enjoyment and appreciation than, possibly, any other purely sensory thing.”  Ernest Hemingway

We hope you will enjoy this section about wine. It will include information about grapes, vineyards and various restaurants wine selections. You will most often get two perspectives as Patti loves her whites but also enjoys a red that compliments her food.  I myself enjoy red’s anytime, any place and with almost any food.

If you are new to wine we would like to recommend an easy to follow book that will direct a novice along the path of wine knowledge.  This book was a gift from our son and the title is “The Essential Scratch and Sniff Guide to Becoming a Wine Expert,” by Richard Betts. I think you’ll find this a great read and one of the most important things to take away from the author is that it all begins with the nose.

Let us share a few more thoughts regarding tasting vs. smelling from the same author.

To quote Betts, “Know that tasting is actually smelling. We taste only sweet, sour, salt, bitter, and a savory thing the Japanese call umami. All the rest of the fruits are actually just aroma’s or smells.”

To continue with thoughts from Richard Betts New York Times Best Selling Book, “So, when we think we are tasting blueberries we are not so much tasting them in our mouths as picking up the sensation with our olfactory senses & smelling.”

So, bury your nose in that glass of wine & sniff.

Please see our wine video by going on to our online Hospitality Training Site at

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“Age appears best in four things: old wood to burn, old wine to drink, old friends to trust and old authors to read.” 
― Francis Bacon

For a Remarkable food and wine experience consider the award winning Sea Salt Restaurant in downtown St. Pete located at the Sundial Shopping Entertainment & Dining Center.

Where else can you take in a twenty two foot tall glass enclosed wine cellar with over 4,000 bottles from every viticultural region of the world. Recently they hosted a sold out wine dinner with Sonoma Counties Buena Vista Vineyards, but check their website soon for future events.  

(Above picture courtesy of website)

Their sommeliers are constantly changing the wine offerings to complement Chef-Owner Fabrizio Aielli’s inspirational dishes.  One of the rare things that the Chef has in his repertoire is 130 different types and flavors of sea salt.

Originally from Venice, Italy Chef Aielli is dedicated to showcasing Florida’s freshest fish, seafood and locally grown produce. At his original Sea Salt restaurant in Naples and at his St. Pete location his expansive wine collection includes both older wines and those from small producers that tend to produce limited quantities. It’s no wonder that Sea Salt was awarded the coveted Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence in 2016.

We will be stopping in soon during Sea Salt’s fabulous Happy Hour which is held from 4:00 p.m to 7:00 p.m Monday through Thursday and includes $1 Gulf Oysters as well as special appetizer offerings such as assorted warm olives with Pecan dusted goat cheese and grape truffles. They also offer wines by the glass at reduced prices at that time.

See you at Sea Salt soon!

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“Wine is like the incarnation–it is both divine and human” 
― Paul Tillich 

Quote from and thank you.

Grgich Hills is a Napa Valley Estates Vineyard that offers a variety of memorable wines. Any opportunity to consume this wine reminds me of a time in my life when Patti and I were younger & we to enjoyed so many different wines. We were working in an industry that we were convinced was for the young and we were willing to learn as much as we could about the great foods, wines, cognacs and how to provide incredible service.  We were allowed to consume incredible wines at the expense of our employers & vineyards who visited the restaurants & hotels we worked to share their wares in hopes of motivating us to sell, sell, sell.

(We offer a wine section on our Hospitality Training Program at

The Grgich Hills Chardonnay was one such wine. It held its own against many French Burgundy’s and what was considered the best vineyards of that time. (This as shared from the Grgich Hills website ).

As the story tells us regarding this upstart vineyard where they were blind tasted at the “Paris Tasting” of 1976 by a panel of French judges against “fabled” white Burgundies and Napa Chardonnays their 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay was chosen

“as the finest white wine in the world”

What a feeling that must have been. Needless to say their reputation & any wine lovers desire to taste the Grgich Hills Estates wine selection made these wines sought after & quite popular.

It was one of these buttery yet crisp golden Chardonnay’s we had the opportunity to taste at one of the fabulous restaurants where we honed our skills. I can’t say enough of this wine except that my memory of it gives me such good thoughts whenever I see a bottle on a wine list or on a select wine stores shelf. I just stop for a moment and sigh.

According to the website Grgich Hills Estates teamed up with Hills Brothers Coffee in a partnership to assist the winery financially.

The winery has been host to many celebrities including President Reagan’s & Clinton. They hosted several world leaders as well including Queen Elizabeth the Second.

In addition to the delicious Chardonnay we tasted on that day I must say that the Fume Blanc was also amazing. This wine was light, but smoky and would be delicious with any steak and especially a smoked salmon.

As a parting quote from the Grgich Hills website we would like to share that of Milijenko “Mike” Grgich which we relate to as just a small part of our passion for this industry:

“Every day do your best, learn something new & make a friend.”

Click the link above to see the process of pressing Cabernet into juice for the next step.  Thank you to Grgich Hills Facebook page. See more at your leisure.


Artist Judy Donavan is the artist in residence at Mondavi Estates

“Making good wine is a skill, fine wine is an art.” – Robert Mondavi

Founded in 1966 in Napa Valley California Robert Mondavi’s namesake winery has produced some of the finest Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot’s and Sauvignon Blanc’s in the world for over fifty years.

Pic from Robert Mondavi Website. Click picture to take you there

Their fine tradition continues with special events such as a fire side tasting with artisan cheese and a variety of reserve wines that last for a full sixty minutes. At only $55 per person if I were traveling to California in the near future that experience would be high on my list.

But, just in case I don’t make there anytime soon I plan to surprise my red wine loving husband with a bottle of the 2013 Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon from the Stag’s Leap District.

The Mondavi website describes this 5 star rated wine as having black cherry fruit that is interwovan with dark espresso, unsweetened cocoa and toasty spice.

At only $90 a bottle we can save the price of a plane ticket and just imagine what it might be like to tour Mondavi’s world renowned winery.

Then again, to see the famous To Kalon Vineyard which means, “the highest beauty in ancient Greek” would be a wine enthusiasts dream come true.

A plan for the future that feels more than just the imagination with great memories is a must.

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