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

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January 2018
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Go San Diego Discount Attraction TicketsSCORE:


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 CodeSCORE:

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 TicketsSCORE:

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

2009 Franciscan Estate Sauvignon BlancSCORE: Gold

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 EscondidoSCORE:

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

Best Wine with Thanksgiving DinnerSCORE: Gold

2007 Bonterra Viognier Mendocino County

2007 Bonterra Viognier Mendocino County

When I think of Thanksgiving dishes, I think quantity, variety, and aromatics.  Choosing a wine that matches these traits while offering up a little contrast to make things interesting is often the best choice for such a complex meal.  But how does one find a wine that works with turkey, creamed corn, and green bean casserole all at the same time?

Quantity:  Lots of food, lots of guests, and a long time at the table.  The wine should be lower than average in alcohol…I mean yeah…we’ll be watching football and having fun all day, right?  But, lower alcohol shouldn’t mean it doesn’t have the body style necessary to stand up to all the cream and gravy.  For contrast, the wine should have a little zing of acidity to cut through our close friend’s delectable sausage stuffing.

Variety:   This wine should be complex.  With a dozen different dishes, and some strong ones at that, the wine should bring lots of different aromas and flavorsto the table.

Aromatics:  Thanksgiving is the most aromatic of traditional American meals so it stands to reason we’ll need something with a high degree of aromatics so the food does not diminish its partner.

The winner? 2007 Bonterra Viognier, Mendocino County.

This cool climate wine has under 14% alcohol, offers both floral and fruit aromatics, and has a medium-full and creamy mouth feel.  Without question it is consistently year in and year out one of the great values in viognier, and it is widely available around the country for around $15.  Did I mention it is also Certified Organic?

Remember, its not what is in your glass, but who you share it with.

And, if you use this coupon, you’ll get a discount of $5 of any $75 purchase too!

Most Exciting Wine Find of the SummerSCORE: Gold

Solis Wine Bottle

2009 Solis Winery Fiano Estate

So I can’t say I was angry, but I will say I was disappointed. The wine was nothing short of superb, but my fellow panelists simply didn’t get it.

To set the stage, the “other” whites category at large wine competitions are, shall we say, is The Land of the Misfit Toys. If you’ve never tasted these sorts of wines, well, generally you aren’t missing much. Often times they are comprised of the end-lots of what didn’t make the cut of better quality wines, all mixed up, given a fancy name and sold over the counter at tasting rooms. A winery marketing director will pay a small fee to enter the obscure blend into the competition hoping it will get some recognition to help sell the inventory which would otherwise be flushed. Read More

Cooking with Chef Dave at San Pasqual WinerySCORE:

Chef Dave PitmasterSan Diego’s own San Pasqual Winery is hosting it’s inaugural food and wine class called “A Perfect Pairing: Cooking with Chef Dave at San Pasqual Winery“. The class focuses on the basics of BBQ and the sharing of championship BBQ pitmaster secrets.

Taught by San Diego’s own award winning BBQ Pitmaster Dave Vindiola from Smokealicious BBQ and, the class offers a great introduction to the entire BBQ process.  The August 7th event will cover everything from types of wood and fire, how smoke and spice work together, selecting the proper cuts of meat, as well as prepping, and of course cooking. Read More

Two for One Wine ClassesSCORE:

Buy one wine class, get the 2nd one free!

I’ve proclaimed 2010 as “The Year of Happiness”.

Heck, local real estate prices have been on the rise for 8 consecutive months and the stock market has risen nearly 37% over the last year. We certainly have not seen that in a while!

Now is the time to treat yourself (or your Mom!) to something special, and I’m here to offer my own little incentive to do so.  Keep this email as a “Buy one super fun entertaining and informative wine class, get one super fun entertaining and informative wine class free” coupon.* Read More

The Magic of Sparkling WineSCORE:

Accidents can sometimes result in glorious revelations. The evolution of sparkling wine is certainly a delicious example.

Centuries ago, temperature controlled environments in which to produce wines were not available. The now famous wine destination of Champagne, located about an hour-an-a-half drive north and east of Paris, experiences very cool fall and winter temperatures. Cold enough to slow down and eventually halt the fermentation process of the wines being produced. Early winemakers would see that fermentation had stopped and therefore bottled what they had Read More