Category Archives: WineGuyMike Blog Posts

Summer Is Coming Wine Event With Wine Guy Mike

Join me for Summer Is Coming Wine Event With Wine Guy Mike. Scratch Catering will be serving delicious Charcuterie and Cheese selections to enjoy with an adventurous flight of 5 wines. This event is sure to deliver an evening of fun and learning all about new wines!

Wine Guy Mike Wine Events

Wine Guy Mike Wine Events

Celebrate Summer with a flight of 5 distinct wines of character and world class cured meats and organic cheese selections.

Scratch Catering Chacuterie and Cheese Platters

Event Date: May 18th, 2017 From 6:30pm-9:30pm

Where: Katie O’Keefe’s 2100 Stephens Ave, Missoula, Montana 59801

Ticket Price: $25.00 per person and you must be 21 years of age to purchase tickets and attend the event.

Purchase Your Ticket Now by Clicking This Link:  

Price: $35.00  

Detail: Tickets must be purchased no later that May 17th at 12:00 Noon. If you would like to attend and are unable to purchase tickets online you are welcome to join in the fun by contacting Wine Guy Mike at or call or text (this is best) at           406-370-7162

I will hope to see you there for this great evening of fun and learn all about wine!

From my table to yours,

The Tasting Room Presents Justin Vajgert Of Reininger Winery

Wine Guy Mike

Wine Guy Mike

Live Stream The Tasting Room Click Here on KFGM 105.5 FM from 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm MDT

This week The Tasting Room presents Justin Vajgert of Reininger Winery in the Walla Walla Valley AVA.  Today’s guest is  Justin Vajgert, National Brand Sales Manager for the Reininger Winery and Helix wines. Today’s Podcast Click Here 

Justin Vajgert of Reininger Winery and Helix Wines

Justin Vajgert of Reininger Winery and Helix Wines

Justin and I are talking about the Walla Walla Valley area in Washington State and its wine. Walla Walla officially became an American Viticulture Area in 1984 but it was settled by Italian immigrants in the 1850’s who realized its potential to grow grapes. Chuck Reininger is the owner and head winemaker at Reininger Winery but first I want to give you a little background on today’s guest.

Chuck Reininger Head Winemaker of Reininger Winery

Chuck Reininger Head Winemaker of Reininger Winery

Justin’s background is a similar journey of many guests I have the pleasure of talking with on The Tasting Room. Justin grew up just outside of Chicago and relocated to the Walla Walla area in 2005 to attend the Institute for Viticulture and Enology. He worked the grape harvest in 2005 with Waterbrook Winery in Walla Walla. It was shortly thereafter that he joined forces with the Reininger Winery in November of 2005.

The Reininger Winery is located in the heart of the Walla Walla Valley. Head winemaker, Chuck Reininger, specializes in crafting elegant and finely structured red wines from hand-harvested, ultra premium grapes.

Reininger Winery tasting room in Walla Walla

Reininger Winery tasting room in Walla Walla

Glacial Lake Missoula was a prehistoric glacial lake in Western Montana that existed periodically at the end of the last ice age.  As warming periodically occurred Lake Missoula would flood carrying its alluvial soil matter to Washington State, and to the Walla Walla American Viticulture Area.

The Walla Walla area soils are composed of alluvial soil material and layers of volcanic ash from eruptions throughout history. These layers of soil and rock have created ideal soil conditions to grow grapes in.  The days are warm to hot and the night air is cool, perfect for growing world-class grapes that make fabulous wines.

Justin worked at Reininger Winery all through school doing everything from cellar work, to pouring wine in the tasting room, to painting bathrooms, when you work at a winery everyone does what needs to be done.

It was during Justin’s tenure that his roles evolved and he moved into a sales role beginning with local sales and then after the school moved into his current national sales position.  He’s been doing that ever since.  Distribution for the Reininger and Helix brands has grown to 17 states.  Justin eventually would like to make wine though, it’s his passion.

Let’s sit back and listen to my conversation with Justin Vajgert from the Reininger and Helix wine labels and learn a little more about these gems from Walla Walla.

Tasting Notes

The 2011 Reininger Merlot grapes are from the Pepper Bridge and Seven Hills Vineyards and are 100% Merlot. This wine has been barrel aged in 53% French, 47% American, and 5% new oak for 2 years.

2011 Reininger Merlot Walla Walla Valley

2011 Reininger Merlot Walla Walla Valley

This is a big, powerful, and robust Merlot, with very ripe fruit balanced by sweet oak spice from the French and American oak.  The fruit aromatics and flavors are of dark cherry, ripe plum, spicy tobacco, caramel and toasty oak. A touch of acidity lifts the fruit forward toward the end for a long, bright finish.

The Helix 2013 Pomotia is a blend of grapes from the Pepper Bridge, Phinny Hill, Seven Hills, Stillwater Creek, Stone Tree, Weinbau and XL vineyards. The blend is 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Syrah, 18% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Franc and has been barrel aged for 2 years. The nose is lovely and rich, sweet yet spicy, black currant, plum, cardamom, and violets an aroma that is downright captivating.

2013 Helix Pomatia Columbia Valley

2013 Helix Pomatia Columbia Valley

Its velvety texture bathes the palate with luscious black cherry and succulent dried dark fruit that’s stimulated by a soft yet vibrant acidity. On the finish, a gentle wave of focused fruit is a bobbing streak of perfumed wood spice impregnated with specs of loam. This wine is delicious!

The 2011 Helix Syrah is 100% Syrah; grapes are from the Phinny Hill, Stone Tree & Clifton Hill Vineyards, and is 100% Merlot. On the nose black currant, red berries, cherry, and a delicate sweetness.

2011 Helix Syrah Columbia Valley

2011 Helix Syrah Columbia Valley

The palate does not disappoint, rich and round with flavors of blue fruits and wonderful savory quality with a finish of tea and wet slate, this is a good thing. This wine has been barrel aged in 100% French Oak for 2 years.

I hope you enjoyed today’s wine program The Tasting Room. Please join me again next Sunday for a live interview with Boo Walker, Head of Global Sales and Marketing, and Author from Hedges Family Estate. Until then I will see you on the radio.

From my table to yours,

Wine For Christmas

Merry Christmas to all and to all may your glasses be full of delicious wine for Christmas. The WineGuyMike Wine Club has great wines available at great prices. All you need to do is fill out the form below and click submit and Wine Guy Mike will receive your order that will then be fulfilled. The WineGuyMike Wine Club is available for those living in Missoula and its surrounding areas. 

*All wine selections are available on a limited basis at special wine club prices. Order soon as these selections will sell out.



Gran Gesta Cava Brut Reserva

Gran Gesta Cava Brut Reserva

Qupé Marsanne

Qupé Marsanne

Arcadian Gold Coast Pinot Noir

Arcadian Gold Coast Pinot Noir

Puramun 2013 Reserva Malbec

Puramun 2013 Reserva Malbec

Cougar Crest Estate Grown Cabernet Sauvignon

Cougar Crest Estate Grown Cabernet Sauvignon

These are just a few great wines of much more that are available through the WineGuyMike Wine Club.

Order Form

From my table to yours,

A Father’s Day Celebration With Wine

Today is Father’s Day and I thought it would be a great opportunity to pay homage to some of the men who are or were father’s, whom I have really respected and loved, and have made such an impression that they have impacted my life.

President Lyndon B. Johnson issued the first presidential proclamation honoring fathers, designating the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day in 1966.  It was six years later, in 1972, when President Nixon made the day a permanent national holiday by signing it into law.

I thought it would be fun to share a little of my life with you, of course let us not forget this show is all about wine.  I put a great deal of thought into these men who have been important to me and thought about what wines that I have enjoyed recently that reminded me of these special men on Father’s Day.

First I’ll talk about my dad, his name is Frederick.  My dad grew up in a very poor family in Upstate New York, which is also where I grew up.  My Dad’s life growing up was not easy, he is a survivor who has had to scrap for everything in life, but my dad was a dreamer.  My dad went after his dreams and fought as hard as he could to live and achieve all that he could dream.  For my Dad I raise my glass and toast him with a great Syrah from Walla Walla in Washington State from Reynvann Vineyards.  For this toast I chose their Syrah “The Contender”, they make three great Syrah’s but this one that I think is one of the finest varietal examples seemed appropriate for my Dad.

My Father-in-law, Paul Wright who was one of the toughest men I have known, and not due to his physical strength.  He was tough enough to be a great man. Paul a recipient of the Purple Heart from the Korean War was hospitalized for nearly one year having been shot in the war, but he survived.  Paul was a Nuclear Engineer, the father of five children, foster father to over 2,000 children who needed emergency short term(Ha Ha) care.  These kids were raised alongside his own children wearing the same clothing, taking the same music lessons, and playing the same sports.  My Father-in-law just lost a long and hard fought battle to Pancreatic Cancer, he seemed to even beat that though, he lived nearly two years after diagnosis.  I raise a glass of Pinot Noir from Balletto Vineyards and Winery in the Russian River Valley.  This is a great Pinot Noir that expresses true and real terroir at the hands of winemaker Anthony Beckman, that is what my father-in-law was true, real, and an example of something to model oneself after.

My Grandfather on my mother’s side, Alfred Gates, was a survivor of World War II.  He spent his time in the war on destroyer escorts, the support team for the big battleships.  His boat survived the war and all the unbelievable storms at sea.  This man taught me self respect, how to treat others, how to be a leader of a family.  Al was loved by everyone who ever met him, and he enjoyed everyone he met.  He is a person I miss a lot and think about from time to time even though he has been gone for over thirty years.  I’m grateful for this man who always had a twinkle in his eye, for him I toast him with no other than a great sparkling wine, Gruet Brut Rose.

Last but not least by any means, my Grandfather Tornatore from Sicily.  My Grandfather came to this country with nothing through Ellis Island in New York.  He eventually settled in a tiny place in Upstate New York named Mexico, New York.  This man was a bull of a man, as wide as he was short, he was a pheasant who worked in a steel foundry and raised everything on his land to feed his family.  I am forever grateful to this man for instilling my love and passion of wine, my grandfather also loved wine.  As powerful a man as he was, his hand for the vine was gentle.  He was a master of grafting fruit trees and grapevines, I followed him and learned a love of the land, a love of the vine, and he instilled his amazing passion for the wine to me.  For this I’m eternally grateful, to him I raise a glass of Boroli Quattro Fratelli

The wines reviewed today all receive the WineGuyMike™ Seal of Approval™

From my table to yours,

"from my table to yours"

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It’s Thanksgiving – Celebrate with Affordable Wines

Well it’s that time of year again! There is no better time than Thanksgiving to enjoy wine and an indulgent meal with family and friends. But which wine is best? Especially when you’re searching for affordable wines? Here is some information to help you decide on an excellent wine to complement your holiday meal.

Think of wine as a three part act – fruit, alcohol, and acid.  Some grape varietals are naturally higher in acid than others and when made in a balanced style can complement food in an amazing way.

Acidity is the component of wine that brings out flavor in food.  Steak sauce is a good example – it’s the vinegar in the sauce that highlights and exposes the flavor of a particular cut of beef.

Pinot Gris and Chenin Blanc are examples of great wines to pair with food. They have a great fruit style and naturally elevated acidity.  When it comes to red wines, hold your glass up to the light. If you can see through the wine, it generally will have the right amount of body and texture to accompany your meal.

Now let’s talk on gravy. Is yours heavy, light, brown, or white?

If a gravy is creamy, white, and heavy, you will want a wine that has a little more acid as it will work well with a heavier style sauce – a great example is a Chenin Blanc.

If your gravy is light to medium texture, a wine with a richer fruit profile and balanced acidity will be just right –a un-oaked Chardonnay will likely be very nice.

If your gravy is light or thin, a nice creamy wine such as a blend, Grenache, Chardonnay, and Marsanne, from the Languedoc Roussillon region of France would be perfect.

When it comes to red wines, Pinot Noir, Sicilian Frapato, and lighter bodied Italian red wines are perfect to go with your Thanksgiving meal.

And what about Vegetarian Thanksgiving meals? Vegetarian meals for Thanksgiving are no longer an alternative afterthought, so we need some good wine options here, too. Perfect white wine companions are wines that display nuances of fruit, mineral, and a bit of savory elements. Riesling, dry or a little off dry, Pinot Blanc, or perhaps a Muscadet from the Loire region of France are terrific options.  Once again, light to medium body red wines will also do well with your vegetarian dishes.

Now here’s a common dilemma. What do you do if your guest brings a bottle of red wine that is full-bodied and you realize it may not be a good option to complement your Thanksgiving dinner?  As mentioned earlier, wine is a three part act and here is a fun way to work in different wines during the day.

For example, on Thanksgiving I really like to enjoy three wines: one that I sip on when I’m cooking; one to drink and share with my guests while visiting and waiting for dinner; and another specifically chosen to serve with my dinner.  The “while I’m waiting for dinner” wine may be a very special red wine that is bigger on fruit and alcohol than I would prefer to serve with roast turkey. This wine might be something like a beautiful Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG.  This wine can be heavier than the wine I will actually serve with dinner, so this can be a good option for when to serve a wine brought by a guest that is not necessarily a good fit to accompany the meal itself.

Open the attached PDF file for a list of exceptional, affordable wines for Thanksgiving. Do note that while I normally recommend wines in the $12 – $15 per bottle range, due to the special occasion of Thanksgiving, some of the wines on this list will sell for up to $25. I know you’ll find a wine on this list that is perfect for your holiday gathering!

Please remember how blessed we all are this Thanksgiving to be with our friends and family as our loved ones are by far the most important part of this day. The food and wine – while wonderful – are simply delectable “side dishes” on this very special day.

From my table to yours,


WineGuyMike’s Triple Treat Italian Wines

Caution!  These three recommended wines offer extreme value. So if you don’t like great wines at great prices, please don’t read this blog post!

All kidding aside, I hope you’re enjoying a beautiful fall like my wine friends and I are here in the Rocky Mountains of Montana.  All three of my triple treat Italian wine recommendations are wines that will warm your heart and are excellent wines to pair with food.  I have included my suggestions for best food pairings, but you might have better ideas. if you do please share with me on Twitter or Facebook.

Remember wine is always better when you share it with friends or family.  Always drink in good health and moderation.

From my table to yours,

Chianti DOCG Querceto 2010

  • Querceto_ChiantiStyle – Old World
  • Region or Area – Tuscany, Colline del Valdarno
  • Grapes – Sangiovese, Canaiolo, Trebbiano
  • Designation – Chianti DOCG
  • Vintage – 2010
  • Color – Bright ruby red
  • Nose – Red raspberry, cherry, fruit
  • Palate – Red raspberry, cherry, refined tannin, balanced fruit
  • Finish – very smooth refined Chianti, lingering dry cherry and berry
  • Process – Macerated with skins for 7 days
  • Pair with pasta dishes and white meats

Luisa Cabernet Franc 2011

  • Luisa_Cabernet_FrancStyle – Old World
  • Region or Area – Friuli-Venezia Giulia
  • Grapes – 100% Cabernet Franc
  • Designation – Isonzo DOC
  • Vintage – 2011
  • Color – Ruby red
  • Nose – Ripe fruit, grassiness
  • Palate – Lush, full mouthfeel, with a grassy flavor and nice iron minerality
  • Finish – Smooth long lasting fruit, dry
  • Process – Fermented in stainless steel tanks & barrel aged 8 months on the lee’s, 3 months in the bottle
  • Pair with spicy courses, grilled beef, beef stews, boiled beef dishes; excellent with venison

Pecchenino Dogliani San Luigi DOCG 2011

  • Pecchenino_Dogliani_San_Luigi_DOCG_2011Style – Old World
  • Region or Area – Piedmont
  • Grapes – 100% Dolcetto
  • Designation – DOCG SAN LUIGI
  • Vintage – 2011
  • Color – Deep Ruby
  • Nose – Rich red fruit
  • Palate – Lush raspberry, boysenberry, plum, dried herbs, charcoal, and tobacco
  • Finish – long, lush, very balanced finish
  • Pair with grilled beef, burgers, pasta with red sauce, pizza

International Lambrusco Day – WineGuyMike™ on ABC Montana

This week on Wine Time™ with WineGuyMike™ on ABC Montana I’m talking about Lambrusco. Why you might ask?  Because today, June 21st, is Lambrusco Day in Italy, and Lambrusco is one of the best wines to enjoy with food. Simple, fun, fizzy, refreshing, inexpensive, need I say more?

Lambrusco is one of Italy’s most popular wines. Do you remember one of television’s most famous of tag lines “Riunite on Ice, That’s Nice”? Yes that’s right your Grandma’s Lambrusco, Riunite, is still claiming to be the biggest selling Italian wine in history here in the United States.

Riunite Lambrusco was launched in the late 1960’s and what now seem like cheesy commercials ran on TV in the 70’s.  Cheesy or not that famous tag line is one of the most memorable ever, at least for those of us old enough to remember.  But the truth is this brand enjoyed one of the most well executed marketing campaigns ever.  That was yesterday, today Lambrusco has come of age and I’m here to share it with you.

There is not anything to complicated or technical that we need to know in our approach to buying, chilling, and drinking Lambrusco.  In fact Lambrusco is rather simple and ultimately the secret to a great Lambrusco is one that produces a great head of foam when you pour it, just like a great beer.  Selections will unfortunately be limited on your local shelves unless you live in an area that has a great wine shop.  If you live on the east coast you will have more choices better selections. Wherever you have a concentration of die-hard Italians like me that enjoy Lambrusco retailers will show this sparkling gem from Italy some love.

More and more you will find Lambrusco lovers who are so incredibly passionate about this frizzante wine from the Emilia-Romagna region in the heart of Italy that you just have to give it a try.

The Emilia-Romagna region is located between two of my favorite areas in Italy. Parma which is home to some of my favorite raw cow’s milk cheese Parmigiano-Reggiano, yet another wonder of the world I cannot live without.  On the other side of Emilia is probably one of the most iconic areas of Italy, Modena, and the birth place of Ferrari exotic sports cars.

Italian winemakers produce a large range of Lambrusco wines.  If you shop at a nice specialty shop and they take their wine program seriously it is somewhat safe to assume they have chosen a good selection of wines for you to purchase.  The best Lambrusco’s are going to be dry and made in a frizzante style.  There are three colors of fizzy Lambruscos: white (bianco), rose (rosato) and the classic red (rosso) ranging from sweet to bone dry.

Prosecco is another Italian favorite that is mainly produced as a sparkling wine in either the fully sparkling (spumante) or lightly sparkling (frizzante, gentile) styles.  Proseccos are labeled “brut”, “extra dry”, or “dry”, with the brut being the driest.  Ask you wine steward of the store you shop in for the driest Lambrusco in a frizzante style that they offer for sale.

Lambrusco is made using the Charmat method rather than the Champagne method, the French method of making sparkling wine.  The Charmat method is a second fermentation in pressurized tanks rather than in individual bottles.  The shorter, tank fermentation is preferable for Lambrusco because it preserves the freshness and the flavor of the grapes.

Unlike Champagne, Lambrusco does not ferment in the bottle consequently the wine goes off or gets old quickly and should be drunk as young as possible, preferably within one year.

What I love about Old World European wine is that they are a function of necessity.  The wines in each area are made to work with, match, or pair with the foods that are grown and raised in the region or area.  Lambrusco is no different and in the Emilia-Romagna region their food tends to be rich, salty and that is why Lambrusco works so well with the indigenous foods of the area.

Lambrusco wine is lively and bright with fruit, balanced out with naturally high acidity which pair perfectly with the rich salty food dishes from this area.  Lambrusco like all Old World style wines are not overdone, featuring lower percentage of alcohol which is also conducive to being a great wine to pair with food.

The really terrific thing to note about Lambrusco is that you will be hard pressed to ever find one more expensive than $20.00 and many are $8.00-$10.00.  Wow that works in this economy for my pocket-book.

Many bottles will list the Lambrusco grape variety from which it has been produced.  I’m not going to bore you with the 13-17 different Lambrusco grape varietals because there are only a handful you need to know.  Here is the short list; The most commonly found clones are the Grasparossa, Maestri, Marani, Monstericco, Salamino and Sorbara.  The rabid Lambrusco lovers, they love the Sobara version but any of these are ones that you want.  If you want to dig in a little deeper here is a link from my friends in Italy and their site which is solely devoted to Lambrusco;

Here’s what you should expect from a good Lambrusco; fresh, fruity, dry, tannic, nice acid, beautiful fruity nose, frothy, nutty, grapy, jammy, fun, and refreshing.  All this and it’s inexpensive too, really what more could you want?  This is a great wine to try that I whole heartedly recommend with all of my love and passion.  “Mikey likes it”, remember Mikey on TV?  I do if I had a penny for every time I’ve heard this in my life I’d be a wealthy man driving the Ferrari and drinking my dry frizzante Lambrusco on my way to get my fresh sliced hunk of Parmigiano-Reggiano to have with my Lambrusco.

LambruscoThis particular Lambrusco is a fantastic example of just how special Lambrusco can be. The Cleto Chiarli E Figli is made from Grasparossa and Sorbara grapes resulting in an intense red Lambrusco with a delightful fruity bouquet.  This Lambrusco is produced in the heart of the best Sorbara Lambrusco region.

My recommendation for the perfect pairing; if you haven’t had the pleasure of Lambrusco and pizza get on the phone now and order the pizza.  This Italian Lambrusco and pizza, well you will think you have died and gone to heaven.  Enough said…

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From my table to yours,