Events. Personalized Experiences. Education.

Events. Personalized Experiences. Education.

Kombucha - Let's Ferment!

Known as the "Tea of Immortality", Kombucha has been recorded in history since approximately 220 BCE, believed to have originated in China. The name's origin has several theories, our favorite is coming from Japan during 415 CE, where a physician name Kombu treated the Emperor with the tea and it took his name "Kombu" and "Cha", which means tea in Japanese.

[caption id="attachment_91" align="alignnone" width="1920"] Dipping the tea in the boiling water[/caption]

SCOBY - A Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast, the acronym for what creates the fermented tea, can look like a large shiny pancake. A pancake you probably would not want to eat.

The basic ingredients are sugar, tea, SCOBY, water and a tea towel (cheesecloth or filter paper will also work).

[caption id="attachment_86" align="alignnone" width="1280"] These are the basic ingredients you will need to make Kombucha[/caption]

The term Kombucha Mushroom probably came from the interpretation of the original Chinese name which was “Tibetan mushroom”, but it's not a fungus at all.

The sugar is fermented by the SCOBY culture, leaving a deliciously tart drink. The result can be between sparkling apple cider and champagne, depending on which type of tea you use.

[caption id="attachment_87" align="alignnone" width="1080"] The Mother SCOBY[/caption]

You can use black, green, jasmine, white and rooibos teas. Herbal and fruit flavored teas are not recommended when you make it at home. However, you can add fruit to your kombucha once it's finished fermenting for flavor.

Fermentation creates complex flavors that no other style of food has or can produce on its own, in the case of kombucha - fizzy, tart, fruity and satisfying. Yum!

[caption id="attachment_99" align="alignnone" width="1280"] We always enjoy taking a look at the tea & smelling it prior to adding it to the water - it changes so much during the fermentation[/caption]

It is helpful to think of fermentation as an ecosystem, with a variety of organisms all doing their best to survive. Fermentation depends on thriving colonies of friendly microbes to do its work.
The types of species in the system have a direct effect on the chemical composition of the environment. As microbes grow and reproduce, they convert sugars into alcohol and acid. The natural environment of the fermentation system determines what the food will taste, look, sound and feel like.

[caption id="attachment_90" align="alignnone" width="1280"] This container is great if you plan to make small batches and then eventually larger, for special occasions or more to share with friends! This holds 60 gallons.[/caption]

Kombucha is full of glucuronic acid, playing a part in one of the most important detoxification processes in the body. Glucuronic acid binds to toxins and transforms them so they can be easily eliminated by the kidneys.

Your liver produces this substance, but sometimes the body can’t keep up with the number of pollutants it comes in contact with. Kombucha also contains B vitamins and amino acids.

[caption id="attachment_92" align="alignnone" width="1280"] Make sure you use organic or high-quality teas, otherwise this could affect the flavor and quality of your end result.[/caption]

Some theories about health benefits of kombucha

  • Detoxifies the liver

  • Helps heal coughs during cold and flu season

  • Improves eyesight and cataracts

  • Improves digestion

  • Relieves allergies

  • Speeds healing of ulcers

  • Boosts energy

  • Fortifies the immune system

  • Helps ease joint pain

  • Relieves headaches and migraines

  • Studies show kombucha lowers blood sugar and blood cholesterol levels.

  • People tend to lose weight more easily when they include fermented foods in their diets.

[caption id="attachment_105" align="alignnone" width="1280"] Rather than having the tea sit in the boil, lifting it up and down ensures the most flavor is added.[/caption]

Controlled fermentation is believed to predate written history.

Fermentation was developed through trial and error, as many things in history were. The temperature that's most favorable, what amount of sugar or salt was needed, results of buried or submerged food and how long it takes for fermentation to stop.

Organisms responsible for fermentation are in the atmosphere, whether we add them or not- such as large systems like the ocean or small systems like our guts.

[caption id="attachment_103" align="alignnone" width="1920"] Look at that brew![/caption]

Once microbes find themselves in the friendly environment of food with plenty of water and nutrients, they start to grow and reproduce. As they consume sugars in the food, they produce alcohol and carbon dioxide, changing the flavor and texture. Once eaten, microbes go directly to the gut, where they encourage the growth of even more healthy bacteria. Yay!

At some point in the fermentation process, equilibrium will be reached. The feverish activity of the first stages of fermentation will stop or slow significantly. Changing from cloudy to clear, as the inactive and dead cells settle at the bottom.

[caption id="attachment_100" align="alignnone" width="1920"] Making sure all the sugar is dissolving in the boil[/caption]

Fermented foods stored in the refrigerator can continue to ferment, although at a much slower pace. A method to stop fermentation is to get the temperature up to 180F, pasteurizing the food, killing microbes responsible for fermentation.

Two types of organisms that play a role in fermentation -
1. Fungi
2. Bacteria

In general, fungi produce alcohol while bacteria produce acids. Some foods are fermented with a combination of both. By repeatedly allowing the same sequence of bacteria to grow in foods, bakers, brewers, cheese makers, vintners and food preservationists are able to produce food and beverages with consistent flavors and textures.

[caption id="attachment_101" align="alignnone" width="1920"] Making sure the boil is full of flavor - we use organic black tea, you can also use green teas, rooibos, jasmine, and white among other varieties. It is not recommended to use herbal teas as they will add oil to the mixture.[/caption]

  • Fermenting strikes the balance between creating an environment that allows the microbes to thrive and slows down or stops the bad microbes from turning into a food science project. Controlling the process successfully allows you to end up with something edible.

  • Fermented foods are an aid to digestion. They restore colonies of healthy bacteria (flora) in the gut, where food is digested and absorbed into the human body.

  • Why does balancing flora in your gut matter? When things get out of balance, the natural defense against harmful bacteria is not as strong, potentially causing problems such as

    • headaches

    • diarrhea

    • allergies, etc.

  • Poor food choices, emotional stress, poor sleeping habits, even environmental conditions can easily upset the flora in the gut.

  • The gut is the largest organ in the immune system and is responsible for nearly half the body’s immune response.

  • Your gut has the same amount of neurotransmitters as your brain!!!
    This led scientists to call it the secondary nervous system.

  • Introducing fermented foods with beneficial living organisms can bring things back into balance.

[caption id="attachment_102" align="alignnone" width="1920"] Stirring the sugar until it dissolves while simultaneously adding the tea bag[/caption]

Our immune system has evolved to protect us from a wide range of dangers in our environment, with the first line of defense being your digestive system - not only taking in nutrients but filtering toxins out.

If you separated the bacteria cells from the body cells, bacteria cells would outweigh body cells - the digestive system contains nearly 80% or 100 trillion bacteria. Microbes in the gut communicate with immune cells, causing them to perform in a specific fashion.

In addition to promoting good digestion, microbes also support and activate the immune system.

[caption id="attachment_106" align="alignnone" width="1280"] White vinegar is essential to add acidity in the initial process[/caption]

Uncontrolled fermentation, wild yeasts, and strains of bacteria can result in something delicious but often results in something spoiled & inedible. In other instances, a controlled starter is called for, which is what we are experiencing today.

[caption id="attachment_107" align="alignnone" width="1920"] Using a cheesecloth as a lid allows the kombucha to breathe while keeping out any foreign substances -giving no opportunity to critters or bacteria to enter and ruin all your hard work. Make sure to use MANY layers of cheesecloth.[/caption]

Hardest part of fermentation? The waiting game.

[caption id="attachment_110" align="alignnone" width="1280"] Due to the larger batches we've been making - we add two SCOBY to our container, otherwise, the fermentation process takes much longer and the flavors tend to be less subdued.[/caption]

Our kombucha tends to have hints of apples & peaches, so we usually choose to not add fruits or other flavors.

We have a kegerator in our home that we hook the kombucha up to, serving it chilled on tap.

[caption id="attachment_112" align="alignnone" width="1280"] Isn't he cute? We clothe our kombucha to avoid any direct sunlight hitting our precious cargo. Secretly, we always name each batch of kombucha as another SCOBY grows each time![/caption]


Do you drink kombucha often? Have you made your own kombucha?

Share your thoughts, questions, and experiences below!



Cultured Food for Life by Donna Schwenk

Fermentation for Beginners by Drakes Press

The Cultured Cook by Michelle Schoffro Cook



Wine Bees Authors:


Kara - Founder & CEO Wine Bees
Level one Sommelier

Brian - Co-Founder & Director of Brewing Operations at Bravery Brewing
Certified Cicerone


This is why you need to go Wine Tasting in SLO

Tasting the Central Coast

Recently we stayed in our friends' home in Los Osos and partially explored the San Luis Obispo Region.  We cannot wait to go back and check out the rest of the wineries and breweries in this area.

According to there are 31 wineries in the region. This website is a great tool for planning a wine tasting trip; they have addresses & phone numbers of local wineries, a local map, list of tours and transportation options and more.

Our first stop was:


Chamisal Website

The Chardonnay and Syrah here were both amazing (in fact, we bought 6 bottles of each).  We did a full tasting of their line-up and look forward to taking our bottles home to share with our friends.

The property was lovely with a space for their members featuring games and a unique assortment of bisected wine barrels that could hold succulents or other decor during special events.

Chamisal has a rescue cat on the property, named Tannin, he fends off all the "undesirables" on the property (rodents). We're sure his hard-work is a sign of gratitude for having been rescued from the streets.


Malene's Website

Attached to the Chamisal brand, Malene features a range of Rosé. This cute property hosts a vintage trailer with couches, tables with bright orange umbrellas and expansive views of the growing grapes which eventually will ferment into more delicious wine.

The property also hosts a badminton/ volleyball court, for whichever is your game of choice. Laying on blankets and beach towels and taking advantage of the picnic space, our group felt as though we were in a Renoir painting.

When thinking of Malene's line-up, pool wine comes to mind. This wine is light, easy on the palate, pairs well with mild cheeses and salty meats, has less depth than other wines but is great for lounging outside on a warm day. Their trailer featured wine-on-tap, and Kara was able to pour some wine herself. 

The staff was incredibly friendly and the ambiance was lovely making Malene a great winery to visit for an hour-or-so.

Unfortunately, the wine on property is quite pricey for the style so we did not purchase any bottles. However, they do sell their wine at Costco if you want to try some of their Rosé!


SCV Website

It's always a fun experience when someone in your party, "just can't wait" for you to check out their favorite place in town.

The picnic-style yard is adorned with succulent plants, low tables, high-tops, picnic tables and a large fire pit that was occupied by a retirement party during our visit.

Our experience was great.  With the choice of drinking at an indoor or outdoor bar, we chose to sit outside.  A high point of the experience was enjoying the snacks we brought while having the tastings come to us (It's always nice to not have to get up for wine every 2 ounces).  Full-service wine sampling is the best! 

It was clear the Saucelito team was educated on how to go out, pour tastings for their guests while clearly explaining each wine.  This is great because it allows the guests to remain relaxed and simply enjoy the ambiance of the grounds. 

Our friends are currently Saucelito members and graciously shared their wines with us. For the time being we have not joined their club, however their delicious, high-quality wines and excellent service may be a driving factor to join in the future.


Kynsi Website

A winery surrounded by gently rolling hills, the tasting area shoulders up to a barn that is home to 7 owls (two parents and five fluffy baby owls) ready to guard their precious land. Owls can hunt up to 42 moles a night - Impressive!

We asked if they knew the owls names or had any photos, unfortunately they did not. One of the tasting room staff is a biologist and showed us other photos of burrowing owls so we left satisfied, haha.

The tasting area has a beautiful array of strawberry trees - a dark, pink wood with spiky branches, which we had never heard of - have you ever seen strawberry trees before? We joked that there were apple bushes nearby.

As small business owners, we enjoy supporting the arts, local wineries, breweries and distilleries. Generally when we go wine tasting, if we do not join the club, we purchase a few bottles - at least one per person.
Kynsi is the Finnish word for talon and their gift shop held an array of cute owl photos, wine glasses and other knick-knacks for wine lovers.


Wolff Website

Beautiful family owned property, you can see the tractors in the distance- reminding each guest of how much work goes into each bottle of wine they're enjoying on the sunny, flower friendly patio.

The home they used to live in is now the tasting room, while a giant castle next door is their current residence. We had a lovely experience in their garden area, enjoying the view as the staff came to our table with the next pours of wine in our tastings.  

After a sampling of their wines, we decided to join the wine club.  We felt Wolff offered the best price point for high-quality wine over any of the other wineries we were able to visit on our trip.  

We look forward to Wolff's harvest barbecues and a series of other fun, wine filled events.

Luis Wine Bar

Luis Wine Bar Website

Located in downtown San Luis Obispo, we wanted to make a stop at the local wine bar to check out any great wines we may have missed out on.  Also, after a day of only 2oz pours, it's nice to enjoy a full glass of wine. Luis Wine Bar has a cozy back patio, with a wooden bench lining the perimeter, you're surrounded by trees and can hear the nearby creek flowing beneath the deck.

We loved the bar's beer glassware and also that they served drinking water in re-purposed wine bottles.  Using the bottom halves of wine bottles, we were impressed by the business's sense of 'up-cycling'. It also seemed that they used the top halves of those bottles as table decor.+ The indoor area is a very open-air setting, with a lounge sensibility. While we didn't have the desire to drink hard liquor at that moment, they seemed to have some interesting cocktail offerings as well.


Sea Otter Awareness

Kara may be obsessed with small, furry animals and our friends knew of a spot in Morro Bay where the otters reside year round. If you go wine tasting in the San Luis Obispo area, this is a must see. Otters roll around in seaweed, sometimes wrapping themselves together so they don't drift apart. They are always holding their paws out of the water, it's the only part of their body that has the ability to get cold

De-veining shrimp

Similar BBQ Garlic Shrimp Recipe

Brian offered to make some Garlic Shrimp on the BBQ and accidentally purchased shrimp that had not been de-veined.

It took over an hour and Kara chose to drink wine, laugh and later enjoy the fruits of Brians labor.

Local oysters

Similar Grilled Oyster Recipe

Huge, misshapen, BBQ the oysters in the shell. Purchased at the local Farmer's Market, these oysters are unlike anything you will find outside of the local area. A little sweet and saline, perfect with a splash of lemon and pinch of garlic hot sauce

The Bakery - Pagnol Baywood

Pagnol Bakery Facebook

This adorable bakery has the best bread, hands down. We have tried to buy bread since enjoying theirs and nothing is comparable. Jalapeño & Cheese bread, Olive & Rosemary bread and apricot and raspberry tarts were potentially the best purchases we made all weekend. Located in a house, they run out of their products nearly every day & have minimal hours open. Don't miss out!


Wine and snacks is the best combo, amirite?
Often in wine country, there aren't a lot of food options and unless the winery is teamed up with a farmer, they have pretty basic cheese options. We like to find a local grocery shop, pick out 3-5 cheese, meats, hummus and other snacks, put them in a cooler and head out for the day.

A future blog is going to discuss the best cheeses to get for your wine country or brewery hopping adventure!

Blue Heron, Bill's house

Blue Heron Restaurant

We were invited to explore the property of restaurant Blue Heron Ranch. We sampled white strawberries (they taste like nature skittles!), raspberries, met the local chickens and our guide was a glorious German Shepherd. The owner is growing 100 different types of tomatoes to see which varietal grows the best, so impressive. Something fun he does is use hay bales as planters to avoid wasting water. Cute decor & great for the environment!

Staying in vs. Going out

We like to go out for lunch and then purchase locally sourced items (if possible) to make for dinner at home so we dont have to figure out our driving situation.

We grill chicken, salmon and/or steaks, zucchini (or whatever neat veggies we found at the farmers market) bake some red potatoes and always leave plenty of snacks out while everyone contributes in their own way in the kitchen.


Paddle Boarding
Tiki boat tour


What are some of the wineries and breweries we are missing out on?

Perfect Picnic Wines & Pairings


Pack the essentials

- Goat cheese
- Cured meats
- Dependable wine key

Let’s plan an afternoon outdoors!

The following pairings are some of my suggestions to fill your personalized picnic basket with.
If you have any personal picnicking favorites - please share your thoughts below!


If you’re wondering - where can I drink outside?
I’ll reference Chapter Ten in Marissa Ross’ book Wine. All The Time.

“I believe wine is for everywhere, because it captures everything. Well, not ‘everywhere’, it’s not for the driver’s seats of vehicles or heavy machinery, not for job interviews or court appearances... and definitely not for school.”

I know there are many laws prohibiting drinking in public in America, which is inconvenient and annoying.
I guess what I’m getting at: It’s up to you to decide what rules you choose to follow in life!

Another (more legal) suggestion:
~ Your backyard
~ A friend's pool
~ Call your favorite local winery (or one you haven't tried yet!) :
       -ask if they allow guests to bring offsite food & you can purchase their            wine on property
      - who doesn’t want to have a picnic surrounded by grapevines?!

Chilled Wine, Oh Yeah

**If you attended any of our Wine Bees pairing events in Summer 2018**
You would have made an observation: We chilled some of our RED wines.

What? Chilled red wine?

You do not want to chill anything that is medium or full bodied
- Make sure that Cabernet, Syrah, Malbec, etc. is 56-64F

However, if you’re drinking

  • Pinot Noir

  • Gamay

Other light bodied reds

If it is warm outside, feel free to chill it!
**Especially if you plan on drinking it in the great outdoors.

Keeping Wine Cold

-The best bet to having cold wine, is starting with cold wine.
~Be sure to throw your bottle(s) in the refrigerator the night before or a few hours before you plan to embark on your picnic adventure
~If you forget (are you human or something?) put it in the freezer for up to 30 minutes.

- Purchase a wine koozie (I've included some examples in photos below)
~ If you decide to purchase a picnic kit, many of the wine focused styles come with insulated bottle holders (2 different backpacks are in photos below - one has two insulated pockets!)
~ I have several wine bottle koozies and they all work well, price point isn't a huge issue - this is your opportunity to buy something weird/cute that's also useful.

-Invest in ice packs.
~ No one likes soggy anything. Don't put ice in a ziplock and put it on top of your delicious food because you can't muster the energy to order something on Amazon or go the extra aisle at Target. It's going to be gross and you're going to be mad at yourself and the environment is going to be mad at you for using another ziplock.

Sparkling Wine


  • lightly sweet

  • pear, peach & apple flavors

(great options at Costco, Trader Joe’s)

-- As long as it has the DOC/DOCG, give it a try!
    ~DOC /DOCG means it’s made in the same style & approved for the legal          labeling of that region - so it’s going to be good

Serve very chilled

Pair with:
~ Peaches (try them grilled!)
~ Chips & Salsa
~ Prosciutto- wrapped Melon
~ To-Go Thai Food

Blanc de Blanc

Dry sparkling wine made with only Chardonnay grapes, perfect substitute for Champagne

Served very chilled

Pair with:
~ Fried Chicken
~ Nutella & Strawberry finger sandwiches
~ Cinnamon Rolls
~ Baklava

Sparkling Rosé

Try one from New Mexico, many are made Methode Champenoise
high quality & delicious

Serve very chilled

Pair with:
~ Fresh Strawberries
~ Gruyere
~ Dried Mangos
~ Cured Meats (Salami, Prosciutto,etc.) 


A red sparkling wine, lightly sweet and one of the oldest varietals worldwide

- Have you tried this wine before? It tends to have a poor reputation however, if you buy the right bottle it’s absolutely delicious and extremely unique.
~Look for “Secco” for dry or “Semisecco” for off-dry if you don’t like sweet wine

Serve chilled

Pair with:
~ Fresh Raspberries
~ Blue Cheese (bring a baguette & honey for an extra flavor burst!)
~ Cherry Pie
~ Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich

White Wine

Albariño or Alvarinho

Refreshing, fruit forward, dry & they’re next door neighbors!
- Albariño is from Spain, Alvarinho is from Portugal

Serve Chilled

Pair with:
~ To-Go Indian cuisine
~ Apple Tarts
~ Key Lime Pie
~ Fresh Honeydew Melon

Dry Riesling

This wine pairs perfectly with picnic blankets, sunshine and great conversation.
Zippy, bursting with floral and fruity notes

- Dry Riesling is one of the highest quality white wines on the market and Americans are behind on this “trend”

Serve Chilled

Pair with:
~ Cucumber Feta Bites
~ Mango Chutney & Chips
~ Lemon Tart
~ Peaches



Rosé shopping can be really fun, it’s an easy style to experiment with.
You can find simple, light flavors or more complex bottles - it’s all in the winemakers hands!

Some of our suggestions:

  • Argentinian Rosé made with Malbec grapes

  • Anderson Valley made with Pinot Noir

  • A classic French Rosé

Serve Chilled

Pair with:
~ Watermelon
~ Dried Mangos
~ Tomatoes tossed in Olive Oil & Balsamic Vinegar (top with fresh basil or add green onions or leeks for extra flavor)
~ Comté

Red Wine


A slightly sweet red wine that is popular in Germany and virtually unknown in American markets.

This is a great pairing wine, consider it a cousin to Pinot Noir
- Low in tannins
- Fruit driven
- Cherry notes

Serve Chilled

Pair with:
~ Gorgonzola Brie
~ Herb Roasted Rotisserie Chicken
~ Pulled Pork Sandwiches
~ Fresh Cherries


One of my all- time favorite wine styles!
Affordable with a great story and ever growing in popularity.

The French call this their harvest wine - they serve it to all the people working in the vines, picking grapes, pressing, crushing etc. and share it as they feast at the end of their hard, long days.

This wine is:
- juicy
- refreshing
- strawberry flavors

Drink it by itself or paired with light fare.

Serve lightly chilled

Pair with:
~ Swiss & Salami Bites (just bring a package of each or skewer beforehand for Instagram worthy effort)
~ Smoked Salmon & Baguette
~ Fried Chicken
~ Fresh red fruits (strawberries, cherries, raspberries)


Austria’s most planted red grape

This wine is: 
- Bright
- Tart
- Fruity
- Perfect for picnics!

Serve slightly chilled

Pair with:
~ Marscapone & Baguette
~ Grilled Portobello Mushrooms
~ Herb Goat Cheese
~ Bruschetta 


These are just some of our favorite wines and suggested pairings. Any wine can be a great outdoor wine when paired with good weather and great company. 

Our main goal is for you to get out there & enjoy yourself.

*Don't forget sunblock! 



My Favorite Wine Experience Books

While there are many wine books out there, these are my personal favorites. The covers and pages of the titles I’m sharing with you are worn with my constant page turning and referencing. Each book has its own personality, learning style, and information that has helped me in numerous ways as I traverse on my wine knowledge journey.

I hope this list helps you and I’ll continue to share other books I have enjoyed along the way, as this list barely covers my personal wine library, let alone what else is available & on the market. The wine world is ever-changing, so I’m sure in a year or five, this list will evolve.


Wine Folly – The Essential Guide to Wine  

by Madeline Puckette & Justin Hammack

This book is one of the best beginner’s guides to wine.

  • Filled with incredible graphics & maps.

  • Organized logically

  • I love this book for:
    -Food pairing guides
    -Fun facts for different wine styles
    - Simple, yet detailed information on how wine is made.

  • This book clearly explains: (without any air of pretentiousness)
    - How wine should be stored
    - What temperature to serve specific varietals
    - How to read wine labels from around the world
    - What wine glass should be used
    - What a decent bottle should approximately cost.

  • There is a great glossary in the back, it’s laid out white to red, light to heavy, but the index in the back is detailed and easy to find specific topics as well.


I do enjoy having books readily available on my phone through the Kindle app, but this is not a book I would suggest for that. Purchase the paperback or spiral bound book, as this is a great reference guide, trust me!

Their website also sells maps, tasting journals and more.

I follow them on Instagram & they’re always sharing great content.


Wine Folly – The Master Guide

by Madeline Puckette & Justin Hammack

I was SO excited when this book came out because I loved the first edition of Wine Folly.

  • This book also covers:
    - How wine is made
    - How to taste wine
    - Handling, serving & storing wine.

  • They go more in-depth on food pairings in this book (my favorite part!).

  • The Master Guide is organized well, instead of ordering wines from white to red, they alphabetized the grapes - there are many more grapes and wine styles discussed in this book.

  • The wine regions of the world are also alphabetized:
    - How to read local labels
    - What wines you should explore from certain climates
    - Fun facts

I really appreciated that this book did not feel repetitive, there is so much information provided throughout the 300 pages.

There are beautiful graphics and it’s incredibly
~ Well written
~ Easy to understand
~ Easy to process & digest the information

If you’re open to purchasing more than one book, I do not think these are too similar. I would not skip the first Wine Folly, as they both contain unique information and I use both books regularly.


Wine. All the Time. 

by Marissa A. Ross

I discovered Marissa Ross on Instagram and was immediately obsessed with her. She is hilarious, loud, intelligent and captivating. She shares an immense amount of her personal life on her Instagram live stories and I want to be her friend.

  I purchased her book on kindle and I am SO glad I went that route because:
~she shares great information
~I can easily locate quotes with the search bar
(if I can’t remember exactly what she said about Beaujolais being her favorite wine or how to drink in public.)

Marissa is brilliant, raw, honest and has great advice on trying wine and buying wine.

One of her tidbits I live by now is remembering what importer or distributor was on a bottle of wine I loved & to look for their name on future wines, especially if it’s a new style or producer, because:

“Importers and distributors have a portfolio of wines they represent and usually have a certain style they specialize in”. - Page 197

Great information, right?!

I could go on and on about how amazing this book was & how I’ve read it 3 times already, but you should just go buy it yourself.

I was crying laughing over some of her stories and how she phrases things, she's an excellent writer and I hope to see more work from her in the future.

(**Also, do you think she wants to be friends?)


The World Atlas of Wine

by Hugh Johnson & Jancis Robinson

This is a formal book, one of this first books I started off with and I was immediately overwhelmed. “Where do I start?” was my initial thought, I guess I went to page one?

  • I definitely have not read every page; however, it was very helpful while I was self-studying for the Sommelier course.

  • It’s also great for:
    ~regional pairings
    ~details on specific regions
    ~intricate maps
    ~all the current AVA ’s, etc.

  • The first 40 pages or so have great information on:
    - What a grape looks like
    - How grapes are grown
    - Where wine first began
    - I enjoy the photos of the different grapes – it’s wild how different Tempranillo grows & looks than Nebbiolo!

  • This book covers some aspects of terroir, a French word with no direct translation that basically covers climate, dirt and is the reason why wine from one vineyard twenty feet away from another vineyard can taste tremendously different.


Every wine region in the world is discussed in this book, complete with important vineyards & wineries, maps, and photos of suggested wine labels.

This is a great reference book, it’s not necessarily a fun or easy read, but it is an essential addition to anyone building their wine book library.


The Sommelier Prep Course
by Michael Gibson

This book is the reason I passed my Level One Sommelier exam through the Court of Master Sommeliers (

~~I went to a Champagne Tasting at this adorable sparkling wine bar in Pasadena, CA and the Sommelier guiding the course was great, fun & informative, once the tasting ended I asked him for advice on passing the exam, he suggested this book and saved me having to take the exam more than once. ~~

  • This book allowed me to grasp how wine is made, in the vineyard and then in the winery.


  • I finally understood::
    - The anatomy of a vine
    - The history of wine
    - How sparkling wine is made
    - Wine laws around the world (& I could go on and on - but I’m not going to just list the titles of chapters, you’ll have to buy the book yourself.)

This book takes away a lot of the intimidation with teaching yourself about the wine world.

  • What I loved about this book:
    - At the end of each chapter, there are review questions
    - They also have key terms – great for making notes!
    - If you’re looking to advance your education in wine, this book is a great start.


    One flaw: This book was written in 2010, a lot has changed in the wine world since then, so while it is great for learning basics, some of the facts may now be incorrect or outdated.

    Side note: Whenever I’m studying I also like to find quizzes people previously made on Quizlet (it’s an app, there’s also a website



Wine for Dummies
by Ed McCarthy & Mary Ewing-Mulligan

I love the Dummies brand.

Anytime I am looking to learn something new, they’re a great resource to find: ~information
~other books/ authors
~they truly make processes simple

Dummies books are usually easy to find for an affordable second-hand price as well.

What I enjoyed about this book are the icons they use, such as “remember”, “snob alert”, “worth the search”, etc. This allows the reader to focus on certain subjects if you’re not one to read a book cover to cover.

  • The chapters:
    - Clearly broken down
    - Completely independent of each other
    - This encourages the reader to start wherever they desire, rather than feeling lost if they only want to read about Spanish wines or buying wine in restaurants.

  • They also have a pronunciation guide, which (in my opinion) is one of the scariest things about wine.

(Tip: If I cannot figure out how to pronounce a grape, region or really anything - I google “pronounce Beaujolais” “pronounce _______”, usually 3-8 different voices pop up, helping me not sound like a complete idiot when I’m guiding a wine tasting)

  • Wrapping up my review on this book, it’s great for:
    - If you’re looking for the opposite of a “story” book


    Make sure you purchase the newest edition, you don’t want to memorize outdated facts.

Downside: There aren’t really any photos & the maps aren’t great.


The Oxford Companion to Cheese
by Catherine Donnelly

OK, I know this isn’t about wine... but what is wine without cheese?
I live to try new cheese

  • This is a great reference for:
    ~Flavor profiles
    ~Wine & beer pairings
    ~Who doesn’t want to read fun historical stories about Gorgonzola’s origin?

  • If you’re going to be:
    - Hosting wine & cheese parties
    - Chowing down on a cheese you’ve never tried before while binge watching Netflix


    - Or you want to feel prepared for Trader Joe’s or your local farmer’s market...

    Make room for this on your shelf.



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