President’s Column October 2019

by Dave Williams
Some food for thought about wine. I have just finished reading Alice Feiring’s recent book, “The Dirty Guide to Wine”. Her earlier book, “The Battle for Wine and Love -or- How I Saved the World from Parkerization”, indicates her perspective. In that, Alice railed against how many wineries attempted to make wines that pleased the big, bold flavor preference of Robert Parker rather than make wines that truly reflect their identity and traditions. She felt that in doing so, they violated their authenticity. Usually these changes required manipulations that masked or ignored the terroir and traditions that created and established the wine.

Today we see a trend towards sustainable, natural, organic and biodynamic techniques, which is somewhat of a response to the many manipulations of earlier decades. She also frets over the many chemicals and processes used in the vineyard and winery to execute the manipulations. In her recent book she looks at wine through the soil, thus the title, “The Dirty Guide to Wine”. She identifies soil types and themes that run through good-great wine and explains why she, and many others, think soil along with climate and wine making process are keys to understanding what composes great wine. She makes a strong case for following the soil to great wine but also credits the wine makers that respect the soil to produce a natural and authentic expression of terroir without chemical manipulations. Variation from year to year and location to location are essential to great wine. A good read worthy of contemplation.

note. bistro and wine bar

by Kimberly Hawkins
1530 North Second Street, Harrisburg, PA 17102

note. bistro and wine bar is located in the heart of Midtown, Harrisburg. A trip into this 1910 renovated Victorian house is one you will not soon forget. Whether you are here for brunch at their outside seating area or a delicious dinner inside, the menu will delight you with fresh ingredients that are crafted into dishes with a European flare.
We have enjoyed many brunches and dinners here over the past several years. However, during a recent visit, it was the bottle of 2015 Seculo, a Spanish red that caught our attention. With hints of raisin and spice, it was a spectacular selection. A personal recommendation by the owner, we were more than happy to partake.
Owner Ruth Prall prides herself on offering a wonderful selection of wines that you are not likely to find elsewhere in Central Pennsylvania. Her diverse and exquisite selection of wines does not disappoint. From a merlot from Tuscany to a German Riesling, there are choices for even the most discerning sommelier. Wine is served by the glass or bottle, and every Sunday from 4pm to 9pm you can enjoy half price bottles of wine.

Reservations are accepted and highly recommended for larger parties: (717)412-7415

President’s Column September 2019

by Dave Williams

I have seen a number of new faces at some of our recent tastings, some even joining PWS. In particular at the Galen Glen event many of those new to PWS thanked the team for such a wonderful and educational event. How often do you get to go behind the scenes of a winery with key personnel who actually make the wine? The stories and their passions come through to connect you to the wines we later enjoyed. This relationship of soil, people and place is what constitutes “authenticity” in wine. It is definitely not a soulless, mass-produced production line product.

From my perspective most new attendees at PWS events are pleased, if not delighted, with their experience and plan to attend future events. If that is so, then why are people curious about wine not beating a path to our door, so to speak? I suspect it is because we do not have a large public profile. Most first time guests attend our events at the invitation of a current member. This one-on-one approach has been our most effective recruiting process. Given that, I am going to ask each one of you to invite a friend or friends who have some degree of curiosity about wine to join you at an upcoming PWS event. We host a range of events from more introductory to graduate level tastings. We even host several social events like our August and September’s at The Inn at Herr Ridge. Our aim is to control prices as much as possible. However, facilities, quality foods and wines dictate costs. Pick one that appeals to your friend(s) and introduce them to fun way to learn about wine.

How Wine Saved the Meal!

By Zach Ortenzio

We arrived at the restaurant and were told that Saturday night was buffet night, so we should look at the buffet and then decide if we wanted to select that option or request a menu. After looking at the buffet the four of us decided to order from the menu. We looked at the appetizers and did not find any that looked appealing. For our main courses two ordered the Crab Cakes that came with two side dishes, one ordered the Flounder stuffed with crab meat and topped with a cream sauce over garlic mushroom risotto with no side dish and the other ordered the Chicken Carbonara with one side dish.

I will speak to the main courses and then the side dishes. The crab cakes did not have a lot of filler, but they also had very little if any taste. The Chicken Carbonara had a cloying aftertaste. Surprisingly, the Stuffed Flounder was very good. But it was given extra care because the first plate had slipped off the edge of an overloaded tray and crashed to the floor! For side dishes we had french fries, which were very good, two Caesar salads and a Citrus Spinach salad. The lettuce on the Caesar salads was fresh, unfortunately, the croutons and the Caesar salad dressing appeared to have been purchased at your local grocery store. The spinach salad was a large bowl of stemmy spinach heavily coated with oil and with slices of one large strawberry, a few pieces of canned mandarin oranges and, if you searched closely, a few shreds of candied pecans. We did not even consider dessert.

I titled this article “How Wine Saved The Meal” because we brought three whites: a California Sauvignon Blanc, a Sancerre from
France’s Loire Valley, and a Sauvignon Bianco from Alto Adige, Italy. We also brought two reds: a Pinot Noir from California and a Pinot Nero from Alto Adige, Italy. The white wines added a freshness and citrus flavors that woke up the three, to put it kindly, boring meals and they enhanced the Stuffed Flounder. The Pinots with their berry aromas were a welcome contrast to the citrus notes of the whites. Having any wine would have enhanced these meals, but ours were fortunately fine examples!

National Wine Day January 1 – December 31 (just to make you smile!)

President’s Column

By Dave Williams

Last month I asked for input for future events. To that point, I want to thank those that approached me at the last tasting, offering suggestions and further input. Please continue to provide your suggestions and ideas to Some even offered to meet for a brainstorming session, which I plan to make happen. There is never an end to this process. Again, I want to state our goal is to bring interesting, educational and enjoyable events to you to enhance your appreciation and pleasure for wine.

The Board recently had our annual planning meeting for 2020 and beyond, and I am pleased to say a number of interesting and new topics were presented. This does not preclude your idea from becoming a reality. While we composed a draft schedule for 2020, unforeseen changes and obstacles are bound to occur necessitating alternative events. One event that we are committed to is in January—PA Wine Excellence, where we present the great Pennsylvania wines that can play on the world stage. This is a must attend event for those both familiar and disillusioned with PA wines.

When planning we try to achieve a balance of introductory level events, with mid and senior level events. PWS recognizes that wine education for all of us started out of curiosity. We aim to provide a non-intimidating environment to encourage those with curiosity to attend. Having reviewed the events PWS has hosted over the last 30+ years, we have presented some remarkable wines and truly noteworthy speakers. It is the Board’s desire to see that continue. Again, your suggestions and input help us to do so.

Da Vinci Italian Eatery-BYOB

by Joyce Soroka
6617 Carlisle Pike, Mechanicsburg, PA 17050 Tel: 717-691-0111

This restaurant offers a casual family dining experience at moderate prices. An Italian mother and her three sons have forged the nuance of the Palumbo family traditions into their menu selections.

The menu selections are traditional Italian cuisine. The dinner menu includes appetizers and entrées. Dishes “From the Land” and “From the Sea” include a choice of either pasta or potatoes & vegetables. Every meal includes homemade garlic bread served piping hot along with your choice of butter or olive oil with herbs for dipping. Soup or a side salad are an extra charge and pair well with the entrées. My favorite entrée is the Classical Parmigiana with veal, which I consider to be the best of its kind in this area. The generous portions typically require a take-home box. In addition to the dinner menu, there is also an expansive list of pizza, sandwiches, cold and hot subs, Stromboli’s and salads, all of which are available for eat-in or carryout, and DaVinci’s Grandma Pizza is a long time favorite of area pizza aficionados!

Our BYOB wine selection was a 2013 Hook and Ladder, The Tillerman, a red blend from Los Amigos which happens to be one of my favorites! It paired well with our Classical Parmigiana chicken and veal entrées.

We passed on dessert, but it was a difficult decision! Mrs. Palumbo makes all of the desserts, among which is a moist, delicious carrot cake that, although not typical Italian fare, is always a satisfying end to any wonderful DaVinci meal!

There is something for everyone at DaVinci Italian Eatery, where every menu item could be the perfect pairing for your carefully selected BYOB wine of choice!

DaVinci Italian Eatery is open 10:30 am-10:00 pm Tuesday through Saturday and 11:00 am-9:00 pm Sunday.

President’s Column

by Dave Williams

I don’t know how many of you have given thought to what goes on within the Pa Wine Society or what needs to happen to present a tasting event. Not that you have to, it’s just that we try to bring interesting topics and wines to your attention for your education, entertainment and enjoyment. To that point, I would like to ask what you would like to learn about, or taste or experience relative that pertains to the subject of wine?

Have we overlooked a topic of particular interest/curiosity to you?
Do you have an idea for an entirely different type of event or a different venue?
Are there things we have done in the past you want us to revisit?
Do you have suggestions to improve what we do?
Would you like to participate in planning and hosting an event?
What would it take for you to invite a friend to an event?

Our planning typically reaches out 6-18 months for events. We are always open to new and different ideas. Events range from light social to highly focused topics with a more academic tone. Our volunteers conduct PWS business and host events for you and your education and pleasure. For without your participation there would be no PWS.

I encourage you to contact me at with your comments, criticisms, suggestions and ideas. Alternatively, approach me at any tasting. I truly welcome your input.

Marty on Wine – How Rose Wines Are Made


Well before the arrival of the Summer Solstice, wine palates begin to shift their seasonal preferences from heavier full-bodied red wines to lighter wines, i.e. those “summer sippers” that we all love! Prominent among these delightful, refreshing offerings are many wonderful Rosé wines. But, beyond the enjoyment of a cool, thirst-quenching glass of delicious Rosé, have you ever given thought to how that Rosé wine was made?

Many Customers in the Fine Wine & Good Spirits store where I work have asked me how one makes a Rosé wine. Some Customers intuitively think that Rosé wines are simply a blend of red and white wines combined in the proportions necessary to reach a Rosé-like color. While it is true that this type of blending is one way in which Rosé wines can be made (although the use of this method to make a Rosé wine is prohibited in some countries, most notably France), it may come as a surprise that there are two other approaches to making Rosé wines! I have also heard Customers speculate that Rosé wines (and, particularly, wines made by blending) are lesser wines. Nothing could be further from the truth!

As for the sometimes-maligned general practice of blending wines, it is axiomatic among winemakers that blending a good wine with a lesser wine will only produce an inferior wine. That is why the true art of blending good wines is an effort (indeed, a skill) to combine two or more good wines and blend them in such a fashion as to produce a very good wine that reflects the finest qualities of every constituent wine that went into its final blend!

Aside from blending, the two other approaches to making Rosé wine are: skin contact and saignée (from French for “bleeding”). Skin contact refers to the length of time before fermentation during which the crushed grape clusters (or, the must, which includes grape pulp, skins, seeds, and possibly stems) stay in contact with the juice. The length of time can be as brief as a scant few or as long as 24 hours. The juice, once separated from the skins, retains a pink color and that varies in intensity according to the length of time during which the must was in contact with the juice. Saignée, on the other hand, refers to a method in which grapes are lightly pressed and the initial resultant juice that “bleeds” off from the light pressing retains a pink color from its brief exposure to the grapes during this light pressing.

Rosé wines may be made in various shades of pink, owing to the technique employed during their production. They may also be “still” or “sparkling”. The amount of residual sugar can also vary across the spectrum of sweetness to dryness, although my favorite Rosé wines are in the medium-dry to dry range and come from Provence, France. In addition, all Rosé wines are generally served chilled and are meant to be consumed while they are young and at their freshest. And, best of all, Rosé wine pairs well with virtually any food! So, enjoy a wonderful Rosé “summer sipper” soon!

Bistro Barberet and Bakery – Not A BYOB!  

by Averill Shepps

26 East King Street, Lancaster  Phone: 717-690-2354

When you open the door to Barberet, you enter the pastry shop which showcases the desserts you can have after dinner or take home, that is if you can ever decide from the gorgeous array of color, shape, and decorative effects! Owner Cedric Barbaret says it is “like a jewelry store for his creations.” After tearing yourself away from the bakery area, you pass into the restaurant, which describes itself as having “French casual comfort food with a modern twist.”

The appetizers are different from what you would encounter in most Central Pennsylvania restaurants. They include Sumon Fumé, and Beef Tartare with a Quail Egg. The three of us decided to share the Quenelle De Brochet, which included Gruyère and Saucisson cuit de Lyon with Black Truffle, Pearl Onions and Potatoes.

The Plats Principal, like the appetizers, are upscale. They include Poulet Basquaise and Duo of Lamb. Two of our party selected the Veal Schnitzel with a lemon-caper-parsley beurre blanc, arugula salad and shaved parmesan. The veal was pounded very thin so that it resembled a small pizza on the plate. It was lightly seasoned with the cheese and herbs so that the flavor of the veal was not lost, as it often is in other restaurants. I had the Braised Beef short ribs which were paired with Ancho Chili, Gnudi, and Roasted Corn  Relish. The Braised Beef was so tender you only had to use a fork to cut the beef and, with the other accompaniments, made this an outstanding dish that I would order again.

Barberet’s wine list is small but it appears to be able to accommodate the menu items. Barberet also has a prix fixe menu for $35.00 that includes a choice of an appetizer, an entree and a dessert. If you have to park in the parking garage the price is five dollars for three hours.

Barberet lives up to its press clippings, and we know we will be going back.


President’s Column April 2019

by Dave Williams

For the past two years or so my wine experience has been in transition.  My focus has been on a selection of grapes that are relatively new to me and not the most common.   I find exploring a grape variety from many locations easiest for me to grasp its message,    followed by the influence of climate, terroir and wine-making style.  My preferences find their way quite simply as do food pairings, without attending to the point scores assigned by the wine press.

More recently, reading Terry Theise’s two books, “Reading Between the Wines” and “What Makes Wine Worth Drinking”, has challenged my overall approach toward wine.   It has prompted a transition from more of an analytical to an experiential approach  reflecting on the wine’s message and “authenticity” or connection to place and people.  Madeline Puckette in her newsletter, “Wine Folly”, recently compared and tasted three grocery store California Cabernet Sauvignons under $20, which indirectly reinforced the concept of “authenticity” as these were primarily what I call manufactured wines – consistent from year to year without much variation.  These volume wines are composed in the winemaking process utilizing all the tools chemistry provides to produce a desired         outcome.  It is quite the contrast from approaching a wine to experience its message of a place and people with all the variation a vintage imbues.  I equate this to the difference between quiet listening versus loudly being told.

So, if you have ever questioned what wine really means to you, I urge to pick up one or both of Theise’s books and ponder how you experience wine or how wine speaks you.