The online home of Mark “The Cork Head” Stuart, Certified Wine Professional, speaker/educator, judge, and columnist.

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December 2017
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Go San Diego Discount Attraction Tickets


As a longtime San Diego resident and someone who previously managed beach vacation rentals for out of town visitors, I’ve been asked countless times about getting the best discount San Diego attraction tickets. The below represent what I think are the three best options to save money and enjoy Sea World, the San Diego Zoo, Zoo Safari Park, Midway Museum, and more. Read More

Blue Apron Discount, but not Free, Coupon Code

Blue Apron Discount, but not Free, Coupon Code

I’ve been cooking with Blue Apron at home meal delivery service for months, and while it certainly is not perfect, it has simplified and improved our at home dining experiences.  No longer do we have the mid-week menu rut that has been plaguinblue-apron-logog us for years.  Instead, we simply open our fridge and break out one of three meals Blue Apron ships to our door each week. If you too would like to cook efficient high quality meals at home, click this Blue Apron Discount Link for three free meals upon your first order.

What we Love about Blue Apron

Where do I begin!  But, let me break this down in to some easy to digest bullet points:

  1. No more shopping mid week!  Ever have an empty fridge on a Wednesday, and the argument begins about who is going to the grocery store at 5:30 to get something quick to make for dinner, or do you settle for spending more money to go out when you really don’t want to?
  2. Meal variety!  We find ourselves cooking dinner at home with ingredients and recipes we would probably have never tried before, expanding our culinary horizons.
  3. No waste!  Every box seems to come with the absolute perfect amount of food for each person.  Ever need just a little cilantro to finish off a dish you are cooking on a Saturday, only to find that massive bunch of unused greens wilting in your crisper drawer a week later?  Say “no more”  Blue apron ships just the perfect amount of seasonings, herbs, garlic, ginger, or whatever ingredient for each dish.
  4. No Contracts!  Yep, week to week, cancel any time.  Start and stop each shipment, and choose your three meals from 6 options each week.  Easy as that!

These are three things we absolutely love about the Blue Apron at home meal delivery service.  All we need to provide is salt, pepper, and cooking oil.  A knife, cutting board, typically only one pan and some bowls to hold the prepped ingredients and you are on your way.  And, because of the blue-apron-1no waste and perfect food measurements provided in each shipped box, we save money every week.

What Could Blue Apron Improve Upon

Well, as you have read, we really like the service and continue to use it.  But, it certainly is not perfect.  I typically prepare the meal, and as a trade off, my wife typically does the dishes.  Fair trade for each of us, and we both are happy.  However, it does make for a little more clean up than we typically would have mid week, and we don’t get “grillable” dinners very often.  That leads me to my second point.  The proteins are pretty good, but not amazing.  I’ve found the chicken to be great, white fish varieties to be good, with the salmon probably only average.  I can get better at my local market here in San Diego.  That being said, we still love the recipes so much we can overlook some of those minor deficiencies in Blue Apron to keep us coming back for more dinners shipped direct to our door.

So, there you have it.  I know you probably only came here for the Blue Apron Coupon, so there it is again for your use.  Enjoy the 3 free meals after your first order and come back to tell me what you think?


Mark the Cork Head

Discount, not cheap, Telluride Lift Tickets

Discount Telluride Ski Lift Tickets


As a Telluride regular, I am always asked about cheap or discount Telluride ski lift ticket sales.  Well, this is the best one available.  I’ve spent hours scouring the internet and local hangouts alike, and I can honestly say this is the only real Telluride lift ticket special on the market.  Coupon codes just don’t exist.  Child and senior lift tickets are available too!

Orbitz has taken over the lead as the best discount ski lift ticket provider in the business.  Last Minute Travel pulled their deal during the ski season last year and no one else offers a better discount than Orbitz when clicking through my link.  Each year the discount gets smaller, but it is better than paying full price.

Discount Lift Ticket Purchase Instructions:

1)  Click any link on this blog post

2)  Enter your arrival and departure dates in the boxes located on the upper right hand of the search page that opens through my link.

3)  Get the best discount on the internet!

Rules for Getting the Lift Ticket Discount

1)  You must by at least a week in advance wherever you buy, otherwise you’ll be stuck with window rates no matter what!

2)  With this link, there are no tricks, add ons, or additional purchases necessary.  It simply offers the best deal on discount Telluride lift tickets, period.

Read More

2012 Dry Creek Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc Review

2012 Dry Creek Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc Review

Ok, I’ll say it.  I’m not shy…well generally.  Here it goes.

Without any doubt, the 2012 Dry Creek Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc from Dry Creek Valley is the best USA-born sauvignon blanc I’ve tasted in the fruit forward style. And, at $14.99 with this discount link, it just may be the best wine value of the year, period.

Powerful aromas of lime, tangerine, and lemon attack the nose from every direction. Similar flavors persist on the palate with a strongly delineated pineapple finish that lasts seemingly forever, all complimented by a terroir driven minerality found in the best wines from Dry Creek Valley. Typical of the varietal, the acidity has a laser focus on the tongue adding to the shockingly potent overall affect. Make no mistake, there is nothing thin or light about this stunner either.
In reality, my description above isn’t doing this wine justice. One could spend an our picking out its delineated complexities in a glass and not document them all.

I’d love to have it alongside anything from a cilantro-laced carnitas burrito to smoky sauce-slathered baby back ribs.

Quite simply, this will be the wine I give as gifts this holiday season.

I continue to be blown away by the value and quality of most all Dry Creek Vineyards offerings, but this one truly tops them all.

There.  That’s it!  There simply is nothing more to add.

2010 Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling

Wow, has it been a warm start to the fall season or what!?!

When dinner time comes around with weather like this, the last thing on my mind is a giant plate of lasagna or some other heavy duty dish. I’m more likely to think Chinese food, Thai, or maybe a spicy grilled chicken salad.

My go to wine for dishes and weather like this is the Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling. Riesling??? Yep. Sorry chardonnay fans, riesling is easily the most important white grape in the world of wine, and it is much more food friendly as well.

Year in and year out, the Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling is one of the best wines for the dollar produced in the United States. It hails from the Columbia Valley region of Washington State, where the sun shines long in to the evening and ripens grapes fully, while the cool breezes off the nearby river help the grapes maintain a strong balance of acidity.

I just love this wine’s lime, peach, and overall purity of fruit. Also, the wine is not fermented to full dryness, leaving a small amount of sweetness in there to counterbalance spicy foods in just the right way. As an added bonus, the alcohol content is only 8.5%, so go ahead and enjoy a little extra to cool down after the sun sets on the dog days of summer.

Best of all, it is widely available between 6-9 bucks at Costco, Bevmo, and just about every grocery store in the cooler case.

Honestly, a little CSM Riesling and Chinese food is one of my all time go-to pairings. Give it a shot. You’ll write to thank me.


2007 Conn Creek Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

So I was wasting a little time at the Vons grocery store in Pacific Beach last week and came across the 2007 Conn Creek Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley.

Like most winos I know, we are all suckers for a fairly priced Napa wine, and get especially excited when it is from the famed 2007 vintage.  So, I plunked a couple of them in my 10% discount 6 pack carrier and headed for self checkout.

It isn’t often I use the word “lovely” when describing cabernet sauvignon, but in this case it absolutely fits.  It offered a sound structure for mid-term cellaring, but was soft enough around the edges to please right now.

Over the 2 hours I tasted it, the wine  provided twists and turns as to what it predominantly offered…all I can ask from a bottle priced under $20!

I guess my palate still has it, as I see Wine Enthusiast gave it 93 points.  Certainly one of the best deals around.

Quality, complexity, and varietally correct.  Pick some up and confidently enjoy!

2009 Robert Mondavi Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

2009 Robert Mondavi Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

It has been a while since I have had time to post about some of my favorite wines of the year, and I’m glad to have a little now before Monday Night Football to post about what may qualify as my go-to cabernet for 2011.

The folks at Folsom and Associates, the marketing arm for Robert Mondavi Winery, sent me this one a few months ago to give it a test run.  Coming off the staggeringly good 2007 vintage, it has been a while since I tasted something that gave me pause.  This one did.

Retail $28, buy widely available for far less, the 2009 RMW Cab is all it should be:  voluptuous,  with a hearty combination of full ripe tannins, balancing acidity, and complex barrel flavors of cinnamon toast, dark berry fruit, and a whisper of cabernet “sauvage”.

Perhaps one of the reasons I liked it so much is that it barely qualifies to be labeled as a cabernet sauvignon at all, with only 75% of the blend being CS.  Merlot, cabernet franc, and a few percentage points of common blending varietals all come together adding to a wine I just might like a hint better than it’s 2007 counterpart.

High praise indeed.

2007 Schramsberg Blanc de Noirs

Founded in 1862 by Jacob Schram, Schramsberg Vineyards is not only one of the great sparkling wine houses in the United States, it is also among the most storied. The California Historical Society designated it as an Official Historical Monument in 1957.

The winery is one of the great tours in The Napa Valley where hand stacked bottles line natural caves dug by Chinese laborers over a century ago. Schramsberg Winery stands proud as a romantic marriage of then and now.

The 2007 Schramsberg Blanc de Noirs, meaning “White from Reds”, is a limited production wine made from pinot noir and pinot meunier, two of the three traditional varietals which make up Champagne. Flavors of strawberry, cashews, and bread dough ooze from this very special wine made from perhaps the greatest vintage in Northern California history.

I absolutely love this wine for a few reasons.  First, every time I open a bottle I remember the first time I visited their historic property.  The indelible visions of their Victorian home and more than a century old history come flowing back with every sip.  2nd, the processes Schramsberg uses harken back to a different era of Napa…one before limousines and publicly traded companies…err..wineries.  As someone who has spent plenty of time in the Napa Valley, I’ve grown to love the wineries with true character, and ignore those who simply spend money in an attempt to create it.

So, the next time you are in the mood to sit back and relax with a sparkler, grab a 2007 Schramsberg Blanc de Noirs.  You’ll thank me for it.

Most important to remember, it is not what is in your glass, it is who you share it with. Great wine always pairs best with friends and family.

2009 Franciscan Estate Sauvignon Blanc

So I know it has been a while since I posted a wine review.

Honestly, I’ve just been incredibly busy with my job that pays the bills, being a La Jolla real estate agent. Actually, most of my business recently has been in UTC, North Park, and Pacific Beach. Anyway…

I’ve been dying to write about the 2009 Franciscan Estate Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc since I received the sample early this year.

Clearly it is not the grass bomb of New Zealand, nor does it have the piercing minerality of a Sancerre. What it does offer are aspects of both of these sauvignon blanc stalwarts while offering the distinctly Californian touch of ripe fruit and the most pure streak of lime since you licked the saltless rim of a margarita.

This will be one of the top 5 California whites I taste all year.

Though I won’t be offering a point score for this wine, ( it clearly doesn’t need it) I know I will buy it, drink it, and give it as a gift with confidence!

Rhythm and Vine Returns to Escondido

RHYTHM & VINE: A Music, Wine & Food Festival

Benefiting the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater San Diego

Music and wine lovers indulge all their senses this spring as Rhythm & Vine returns to San Diego North for a one-of-a-kind tasting extravaganza. Held Saturday, April 9, 2011 at Westfield North County in Escondido, the 3rd Annual Rhythm Vine will feature over 35 world-class wineries, spirits and breweries; 25 restaurants and gourmet foods; and three live musical performances by San Diego’s favorite musicians.

APRIL 9, 2011

6:00 pm to 9:00 pm

VIP Admission from 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm

$75 General Admission ($100 at the door); $125 VIP Admission ($150 at the door).

Must be 21 and older to attend.

LOCATION: Westfield North County

272 East Via Rancho Parkway

Escondido, CA, 92025

35 award winning wineries, breweries, and spirits companies.

25 of North County’s chefs and gourmet food companies.

Spectacular, live performances by singer/songwriter Simeon Flick, classic rock cover band Clay Colton Band and local spirited Flamenco band Espiritu Flamenco.

1,000 wine, food, and music enthusiasts, along with members of the trade and media, coming together to support the Boys Girls Clubs of Greater San Diego.

Silent Auction filled with charitable donations from exhibiting companies.

Exclusive VIP after-party extending past regular event hours from 9:00 – 10:00 pm.

All proceeds benefit the Boys Girls Clubs of Greater San Diego.

For more information or to purchase tickets online, visit