Tag Archives: Wine

It’s White Truffle Season!

Vineyard in Piedmont region in Italy
Photo: Davide Dutto/Ente Turismo Langhe Monferrato Roero

Each year, culinary connoisseurs convene in Northern Italy’s Piedmont region to honor the white truffle. This rare and very expensive type of mushroom is only available in this region a few months out of the year. From townies to top chefs, autumn is the season to celebrate the gastronomic treasure whose shavings transform any dish into a luxury item. 

Ongoing through November 24, the International Alba White Truffle Fair is one of Italy’s longest-running festivals, celebrating its 89th birthday this year. Held in the old town of Alba, a UNESCO Creative City for Gastronomy, the Fair initially focused on the food and wine of the region but has now expanded to include immersive experiences and cultural events.

White Truffle from Alba, Italy
Photo: Stefania Spadoni/Ente Turismo Langhe Monferrato Roero

Every Saturday and Sunday, the White Truffle World Market buzzes with exhibitors, purveyors, chefs and local wineries. Within the 2,000-square-yard market, you’ll have the opportunity to purchase truffles certified by the National Truffle Study Centre and hobnob with likeminded foodies, all gathered in praise of the seasonal favorite with the distinct scent and delicious flavor. 

A version of this article was first published in Travel Squire.

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True Colours Cava: LGBTQ+ Activism with a Colorful Sparkle

True Colours Cava bottles

Don’t be afraid to let them show
Your true colors
True colors are beautiful
Like a rainbow

Owning our true colors has been a theme of self-acceptance in the LGBTQ+ community for nearly half a century. 

In 1978, artist Gilbert Baker unveiled the original rainbow flag in San Francisco, as a new symbol to celebrate the love, beauty and diversity of our community. 

In 1986, Cyndi Lauper’s song became an anthem for people struggling to be true to themselves. 

Today, the celebration of our true colors continues with a toast. 

Highland Imports introduced European favorite True Colours Cava to the U.S. last year, inviting the Spanish sparkling wine to celebrate love on our shores. 

In keeping with Altia’s (its original distributor) commitment to support LGBTQ+ rights with every True Colours Cava bottle, Highland Imports pledged to donate at least $100,000 to GLAAD in its first year of U.S. distribution. As True Colours Cava expands its availability in more states this year, it is also expanding its promise by planning to support additional LGBTQ+ organizations from the sale of every bottle.   

True Colours Cava rainbow bottles
(Courtesy of True Colours Cava Instagram)

Challenging other beer and wine brands that only unveil LGBTQ-themed products during Pride season, True Colours Cava’s commitment is year-round and unwavering. “Highland Imports is boldly displaying their support for LGBTQ people at a time when the community needs brands to stand up proudly and loudly,” says Zeke Stokes, GLAAD Vice President of Programs. 

It is also just damn delicious. And beautifully presented.

With a bright, crisp flavor and a rainbow colored bottle, True Colours Cava sparkles with activism at any event. It’s Estate bottled, 100% sustainably farmed and sold in select wine stores throughout the country in both the standard 750 ML bottle and the mini quarter-sized bottle. 

Visit the “Find Us” tab at TrueColoursCava.com to learn where it is available near you. And propose a more accepting, truthful and colorful LGBTQ+ world with your next toast. 

Ivan Quintanilla (Traveling IQ) and Matthew Montelongo enjoy True Colours Cava in the park


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Filed under Gay/ LGBTQ, Gifts, U.S.A.

Sipping for a Cause

IMG_8685Want to fight LGBTQ discrimination? There’s a wine for that. Want to empower girls to grow into strong women? There’s a wine for that. Want to celebrate the women’s suffrage movement ahead of the mid-term elections? There’s a wine for that too.

Jim Obergefell, who in 2015 fought for the recognition of his marriage all the way to the Supreme Court–resulting in the landmark ruling Obergefell v. Hodges, which made same-sex marriage the law of the land–has continued his fight for equality.

And this time he’s getting a little help from the grapes.

In 2016, Mr. Obergefell partnered with Matt Grove to create Equality Vines, the world’s first cause wine portfolio dedicated to equality for all people. To date, Equality Vines has launched lines supporting LGBTQ causes, women’s empowerment and voting rights, donating a portion of sales to organizations associated with each cause.


“Love Wins” Series

The inaugural “Love Wins” series is anchored by The Decision Pinot Noir (celebrating the Obergefell v. Hodges ruling) and Stonewall Zinfandel, with sales contributing to SAGE, an organization that tirelessly advocates for LGBTQ elders. As stated on their website, “SAGE stands proudly with the LGBT pioneers across the country who’ve been fighting for decades for their right to live with dignity and respect.” Earlier this year, the series launched two new sparkling wines: the Love Wins Blanc de Noirs and Love Wins Sparkling Rosé, benefitting the Mattachine Society, one of the first gay rights organizations in the U.S. and one that (near to my heart) in 1965 protested Fidel Castro’s internment camps for homosexuals in Cuba. Today the Mattachine Society of Washington D.C. conducts archive activism, “identifying, conserving and interpreting the LGBT historical record.”


19th Amendment Sauvignon Blanc

The first releases of the “Empowerment” series celebrate the women’s suffrage movement and are named after the constitutional amendment which gave women the right to vote, in 1920.  Sales of the 19thAmendment Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay benefit the League of Women Voters, the nonpartisan organization that believes in the “power of women to create a more perfect democracy.” Especially now, as the U.S. nears the November 6 elections, I will happily drink to that! Also of note, the 19thAmendment Sauvignon Blanc is handcrafted by Alison Doran-Green, one of the first female winemakers in the United States.

Respect Wine

“Respect” Series

To find out what R-E-S-P-E-C-T means to Equality Vines, look no further than their latest partnership with the YWCA Metropolitan Chicago. Five dollars from every bottle sold of the “Respect” series ensures the YWCA can continue serving its community. “YWCA Metropolitan Chicago does great work to positively impact the lives of women and families, and Equality Vines is honored to partner with them on this wine to help fund their many services and advocacy work,” said Mr. Obergefell. “Women deserve equal rights, equal pay and equal opportunity and this new wine allows customers to participate in making that a reality.”

Now you can use your drinking for good and uncork your activism with your next wine purchase. Order the limited releases through the Equality Vines website (they can ship to 44 states as allowed by current shipping laws), sign up for the wine club or visit their California tasting room. Just this year, they’ve donated over $17,000 to some exceptionally worthy causes. And you can help, one sip at a time.

All photos courtesy of Equality Vines

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Can Wine is So Gay


There’s a gay-party-in-a-can giving us a rainbow of reasons to celebrate beyond Pride.  This summer, House Wine is honoring LGBTQ equality with the Limited-Edition Rainbow Rosé Bubbles cans, available until August 31. The colorful cans are fantastic for summer day drinking. They are fruity and effervescent, just like you. And like you, they’re  more than just pretty. Standing behind their “Everyone’s Welcome in Our House” motto, House Wine is donating $2 per case to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC).  So you have multiple reasons to drink up this summer.

The 375mL Limited-Edition Rainbow Rosé Bubbles cans are priced at $5.99/can and are equivalent to half a bottle of wine. They are available at wine stores throughout the country or you can order 6-packs from the online store.

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So. Many. Gay. Bubbles. All summer long, House Wine is celebrating #LGBTQ equality with the Limited-Edition Rainbow Rosé Bubbles cans. With a taste that’s “Bright, fruity and flavorful” (adjectives I’m totally borrowing to describe myself from now on) these cans are fantastic for outdoor summer #daydrinking… picnics, pools, BBQs. And with $2 per case donated to #hrc I’m finally drinking for a good cause. #housewinepride … (📷 @thefireislander) … … … #TravelingIQ #travel #gaytravel @ourhousewine #canwine #gaypride #fireislandpines #fipines #fireisland #gayinstagram #gayisland #gaywine #gaytravelblog #travelblog #travelblogger #travelwriter #thegaypassport #gaysofinstagram #gaycation #wineallday #travelgram #instatravel #gaydrinks #gaybubbles

A post shared by Ivan Quintanilla (@travelingiq) on

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New York: A Weekend in Wine Country (Part 2)

New York’s Finger Lakes Wine Country is the second largest producer of wine in the United States. Read yesterday’s edition of Traveling IQ’s visit to the region and then join us on our tasting tour below.

Finger Lakes Wine Country

The Finger Lakes Wine Country has over 100 wineries on four distinct wine trails.  For our weekend tour we focused our tastings around the largest lake and thus meandered throughout the wineries of the Seneca Lake Wine Trail.

First stop, Lakewood Vineyards.  A true family affair, the Stamp Family has called Lakewood Farm home since 1951.  In 1988, they expanded beyond commercial grape production and began pressing the fruits of their labor (quite literally) to create their first vintage.   By 1997 they had been named “Wine Family of the Year” by Vineyard & Winery Management Magazine.  Presently under the leadership of Chris Stamp, a graduate of Cornell in the studies of Food Science and Chemistry, Lakewood Vineyards is infusing cutting edge technology into traditional wine making practices.  Liz Stamp (the Mrs.) guided our morning tasting and led us to some of our favorites: Dry Riesling 2009 (mine), the semi-dry Riesling 2010 (Matt’s) and the Candeo 2009 (ours), a sparkling Prosecco of sorts.

Up the road, Fulkerson Winery not only produces over 23 varieties of wine, but also fresh grape juice and a full line of home winemaking supplies.  So you need not ever serve Franzia boxed-wine again!   Now the domain of Sayre Fulkerson, the 6th generation to head the family farm, the winery produces 7 different Rieslings.   If in the mood for red, the 2007 Cabernet Franc won Gold at last year’s Riverside International wine competition.

A bit loopy from our morning’s “research,” we realized solid food might be necessary to successfully complete our day’s work.  Continuing north, on the western side of Seneca Lake we stumbled stepped into the OPUS Café at Fox Run Vineyards.  If you are planning a visit to the Seneca Lake Wine Trail, remember this one thing:  you will want to have lunch at Fox Run Vineyards. Set up in a casual, deli-counter style, OPUS Café serves gourmet sandwiches, wraps, salads and such, next to the shop and tasting rooms of the winery.  Without exaggeration, their Thai Chicken Wrap is one of the best wraps I’ve ever had.  Fret not if the daily changing menu offers a different selection on the day of your visit, Matt equally enjoyed his Cuban sandwich… and the boy knows a thing or two about a tasty Cuban.

Fox Run Vineyards

Fortified from the delicious lunch, it was once again wine time.  If you are structuring your day on a schedule, allow ample time for the tastings at Fox Run Vineyards (a 2008 “Winery of the Year” by Wine & Spirits Magazine), and try as many different varieties as you can without falling over:  these wines are fantastic!  For tastings with a view, step up to the counter at the smaller, side tasting room overlooking the vineyards and lake.  The passion of owner Scott Osborn for promoting local wines is as intoxicating as his Riesling (the 2005 vintage of which won Gold at the Riesling Du Monde wine competition in Strasbourg, France).  A few sips and a chat later, we had been convinced to urge more restaurants all over the state to carry New York wines.  Once again solidifying our different Riesling preferences, I loved the 2010 Dry Riesling and Matt the 2009 Semi-Dry Riesling. We both, however, chose the 2008 Cabernet Franc/Lemberger as our favorite red wine.  Port lovers will be particularly fond of their Fine Old Tawny Port.

And then there’s the “party” winery.  Three Brothers Wineries & Estates combines three wineries and a brewery all in one setting.  It’s a bit like a wine theme park, which–at least while we visited–attracted a younger, rowdier crowd.  The Stony Lonesome Estates is their most traditional brand and tasting room; Passion Feet is, as I was told, more geared toward ladies, with pink and sweet flavors as the primary characteristics; and Bagg Dare is a kitschy pirate-inspired, purposely trashy, hole-in-the-wall tasting room.  In fact, the Bagg Dare website states: “For those who have a lot more fun in a dive bar…find our back-woods bayou tasting room…and ignore the ritzy brother next door.”  The focus of Three Brothers is definitely on creating an atmosphere.  And it succeeds.  Their potent, sweet wines have fun and risqué names such as: 69 Ways to Have Fun, Poor Limp Richard’s, 90 Seconds of Heaven, and Backseat Bounce.

Finger Lakes Distilling

After non-stop wine tastings, we desperately needed a drink.  Lucky for us the first stand-alone distillery of the region sits on Seneca Lake.  Finger Lakes Distilling opened in July 2009, bringing a different kind of “sauce” to the Finger Lakes Wine Country.  They distill everything from scratch and use New York State fruits and grains—most from within a 50-mile radius—for all their spirits.  Because of the higher alcohol content, each person can only sample three spirits at the tasting, so choose wisely.  Their Seneca Drums Gin was voted “New York’s Best Spirit” at the Food & Wine Classic and is distilled from their own local grapes.  We agreed and brought home a bottle of the deliciously flowery and flavorful gin.  Whiskey drinkers have a choice between the spicy McKenzie Rye Whisky or the sweet McKenzie Bourbon Whiskey.  Unable to choose, we bought bottles of both.

Aside from its natural beauty–which is substantial–the Finger Lakes Wine Country is attractive to both wine connoisseurs and novices. Visitors can engage in lengthy discussions with winemakers or simply enjoy good-tasting wine in a non-pretentious setting.  Less than half a day’s drive from New York City, Toronto, Boston, and other major Northeast cities, the region is an easy escape from the hectic daily grind.  Trust me (excluding maybe your liver) a little R & R in the Finger Lakes Wine Country will do the body good.

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New York: A Weekend in Wine Country (Part 1)

Just a four-hour-drive from New York City (four hours from Toronto, five hours from Pittsburgh and six hours from Boston) sits the “World’s Most Beautiful Wine Region” according to Budget Travel readers, a “Top Ten Value Destination for 2011” according to Sherman’s Travel, and a “perfect weekend getaway for NYC peeps who want to escape the craziness of the city, eat great food and drink, drink, drink delicious wine in a beautiful setting” according to Traveling IQ.

I’ve always liked wine.  In college, my roommate Josh and I kept a box of Franzia “pink wine” (as we called it) in the fridge because we thought it made us fancy.  And at the time it did.  Our college friends were very impressed; we were the kind of household that could offer wine with any meal.  That’s just how we rolled.  Out of orange juice?  Try a glass of Sunset Blush with your omelet.  As stated on their website, the “delicate pink hue with strawberry flavors” was always “easy to drink and very refreshing.”  Good morning.

I’d like to think I’ve evolved a bit since then; though in case of emergency a box of pink wine would probably do just fine.   Eager for a better understanding of wine and winemaking, and in need of a brief pause from the pace of city life, my boyfriend, Matt, and I packed our thirst into a rental car, and headed to the Finger Lakes Wine Country.

New York State is the country’s second largest producer of wine, after California.  And the area south of Lake Ontario—surrounding Lakes Cayuga, Seneca, Keuka and Canandaigua—creates a welcoming 9,000-acre home for the vineyards, wineries and tasting rooms that comprise the Finger Lakes Wine Country.  Though a producer of a wide variety of wines, Riesling is by far the region’s most popular, with almost every winery producing at least one Riesling brand.

Thirsty yet?  Revisit Traveling IQ tomorrow and join us on our tasting tour.


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Rioja Restaurant Week

Drink like a bullfighter.
Sip like a flamenco dancer.

May 13-27, 2010 is Rioja Restaurant Week in New York and Chicago.  Diners can enjoy a $25 lunch or $35 dinner with a glass of Rioja wine at some of these cities’ greatest restaurants.

The Rioja region of northern Spain spans over 14, 000 acres, roughly the size of Delaware.  With vineyards dating back to Roman times, one of Spain’s primary exports is gaining popularity and praise in the States.  Explore white or red options, a delicious meal, and sip, drink (or guzzle) a little taste of Spain.


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Dissatisfied Valentine?

Are you dissatisfied with Valentine’s Day?

The Bible teaches us to “turn the other cheek.”
Polite behavior suggests we “take the high road.”
Mom advises us to “kill them with kindness.”

Traveling IQ recommends you find the joy in “giving.”
Let him/her know how you feel with a bottle of delicious, red wine.

This South Australian Grenache is imported by The Grateful Palate and can be purchased online or at your neighborhood wine store.

Because sometimes actions speak louder than words.


Filed under Gifts