Falling Up

It was one of those mellow October days that seem concocted from a mixture of sage, polished brass and peach brandy.

Tom Robbins, Another Roadside Attraction

And soon it will be upon us…Fall. Having lived up north for a spell, I know what a true changing of the seasons feels like. Fall is a riot of color, oranges, yellows and rust hues. As if the trees are releasing all of that gorgeous sunlight they absorbed all summer. Hell, even in Northern California, where I spent my formative years, it was cold enough for winter jackets by Halloween. But down here on the “Dirty 3rd” as they call it, we are not so fortunate to have the passing of seasons like others. Our subtropical climate does however provide us with an extended window of opportunity to enjoy the lighter side of wine…Rosés, Whites and Chilled Reds (aka Glou Glou!) We are open to drink whatever we want whenever we want, of course…but this “seasonal” Texas weather gives us reason to extend our summer beverage consumption! And sure, stop wearing linen after Labor Day (if you care about stuff like that) but for us refreshment has no season. And, while I long for a full red wine, cozied up on the couch with my wife and dog, fireplace roaring and a chill in the air, I know that it’s going to be a couple of months before that happens. And that’s ok!

Check out what Chris Shepherd has to say about it, you’ll find some of these bottles here at the Bodega! >>>>>


Speaking of Glou Glou…November 17th is Beaujolais Nouveau Day. I just got off the horn with one of our vendors and we have secured 2 cases of the good stuff! Last year we weren’t open just yet so we are stoked to be able to bring y’all the NOUVEAU this year!


Over the summer we pivoted away from the market aspect of Bodega Bellaire. While I felt we had something good, comparable to other markets in town, it never took off. So we decided to go all in on the beverage side of the business. We have stocked up on more wine, brought on craft beer you won’t find anywhere else in town and upped our charcuterie game. Basically, all the things you need for a good time! Bodega Bellaire is your neighborhood hub for all things beverage!

Bodega Bellaire’s “End of Summer Wine Tasting”

Saturday, September 17th 1-4pm

Join us on Saturday, September 17th from 1-4 pm when Bodega Bellaire will host the “End of Summer Wine Tasting” featuring our favorite natural wine guru, Steve Buechner of Light Years Wines. Be prepared to taste some modern examples of natural wine that are perfect for the incoming fall season! We will also have our CBD bar setup as well as our Dairymaids cheese tasting station in effect. Plus, we are delighted to be joined by Magnol Bakery, literally the best bakery in Houston! As always, our tastings are free to all and a great time! If you’ve been curious about more natural styles of wine, this event is for you!

Strange Grapes!

When I got into wine, I think I had just turned 21…I am one of those people who can spend hours in a record store, book store or even the grocery store…I just enjoy looking around and absorbing. Digging deep to find stuff that I find intriguing and cool. It was the same with wine, I could go to the Spec’s in my neighborhood at the time (Clear Lake) and just walk up and down the aisles, reading descriptions and labels, trying to make sense of it all. As a new wine drinker, I would default to what my parents and grandparents would drink. Ever hear of Egri Bikaver? Also known as “Bulls Blood” in Hungary, this atrocity was on the table at my grandparents house quite often.

Looking back, those first forays into wine definitely came with mixed results…and guess what, that hasn’t necessarily changed. There are times when we try wines that weren’t for us for one reason or another. It’s just like buying a record or a book and finding out, it’s just OK…

And while the conventional varietals will always be there for me, I get the greatest pleasure in finding and trying strange grapes.

Here are a few of my favorites:


When you think of Chilean wine you tend to think of Merlot, which dominates the low-cost side of the country’s wine industry. Carmenere grapes were originally grown in France. Today, this varietal is rarely found there and instead found mostly in Chile. As this grape varietal is highly susceptible to phylloxera, which is one reason this grape has not reached a high level of popularity worldwide. This grape, when grown in optimal conditions, produces a wine that is comparable to Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon. A bottle of Carmenere gives spicy berry flavors and fantastic softness and smoothness. It slips down the throat a little too easily.

Pais (my all time favorite)

Pais is a red wine grape that has played a prominent role in the Chilean wine industry. Up until the turn of the 21st century, it was Chile's most planted variety until it was overtaken by Cabernet Sauvignon. Today it is most commonly used in the production of jug wine in the Bío-Bío, Maule and Itata River regions in the south. The grape is sometimes known as Negra Peruana. In Argentina the grape is known as Criolla Chica.

The Pais has one of the longest viticultural history in Chile, believed to have been brought to the region by Spanish conquistadors from Peru during their colonization of the continent in the 16th century. Ampelographers believe that along with the Criolla Grande grape of Argentina and Mission grape of California, that the Pais grape is descended by the Spanish "common black grape" brought to Mexico in 1520 by the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés. That early grape was then cultivated by Spanish missionaries and spread throughout the Americas. The Pais grape remained Chile's primary wine grape until the emergence of the Bordeaux wine varietals in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

Pais produces a thin bodied, rustic red wine that typically has a light brown coloring. The grape's thin skin does not provide much extract and vineyard owners typically harvest at much higher yields than what would be needed to produce higher quality wines. The grape is valued for vigor and ease of cultivation, producing 8–13 tons per acre even with limited amounts of irrigation. It is mostly consumed domestically but some sweet dessert wines have been exported in the past.

Nerello Mascalese

A dark-skinned grape that grows commonly on the volcanic slopes of Mount Etna. This variety is pale in color but moderately high in alcohol, with velvety tannins, flinty minerality. It reflects the surroundings giving fresh red wines with fruity, herbaceous flavor and aroma of wild berries. It is a quality vine that is compared to grape varieties like Pinot Noir because of its characteristic taste, tannins, and color.


Generally found in southern France and northern Spain, where it is called Carinena, is commonly used for blending with many of the other key varieties most famously with Grenache, Syrah etc. If you love lighter-styled wines of Merlot or Zinfandel, then Carignan should be on your list. They are usually grown as blush vines, it ripens late so can be successfully grown only in relatively warm climates. Its thick stems require hand-picking. With its bold red fruit and meaty notes, Carignan is ideal with spicy lamb meatballs, roasted pork, or meaty beef brisket. Wines will burst with fruit and taste rich and spicy with tannins lighter than Cabernet.


Here is a perfect example of a grape not getting a chance to show its stuff. For centuries it’s been one of the leading grapes of southeastern Spain, though it went ordinarily into nondescript bulk wines. But recently, producers have worked to demonstrate the potential of Bobal when farmed conscientiously in the right soils. I’ve found two in particular, Rayuelo and Kiki and Juan, who have shown that Bobal can be complex, nuanced, transparent and energetic in the right hands. I have also had an excellent natural Bobal from Partida Creus in Catalonia.


This variety of grape is normally grown in the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France, but is also sometimes grown in Spain. It is notable for its strikingly high acidity. One reason this grape isn’t as well known as others is because it is much more likely to develop a certain kind of fungus, making it more difficult to grow. There are three varieties of Picpoul: Picpoul Noir, Picpoul Gris, and the most well-known variety, Picpoul Blanc. Unfortunately, Picpoul Blanc is headed towards extinction.

Malvasia Bianca

Intriguingly, Malvasia Bianca belongs to a group of varieties hailing from the Mediterranean region, all titled Malvasia. Wines from this variety show aromatics of stone fruit, peaches, apricots and white currants. Typically, wines produced from it have some residual sugar.


From Spain’s Basque Country, Txakolí (pronounced “Choc-oh-lee”) is the epitome of a summer sipper. Zippy, zesty, bone-dry with a slight natural spritz, it’s produced from the local grapes hondarribi zuria and hondarribi beltza, which get a mineral and saline kick from their proximity to the sea. You might see it poured from a height through an escanciador–the T-shaped spout that allows for a long, fine stream that helps to capture more bubbles in the glass. (But it’s delightful poured straight from the bottle.)

We have examples of all of the above varietals here at the Bodega, just let us know and we will point you in the right direction!


We are seeing the wine winds shift here in Bellaire…Obviously, yours truly, Bodega Bellaire carries a curated selection of modern wines. And restaurants are getting on board as well, a good example being the New York Eatery here in Bellaire. They have a great wine list that has a smart mix of classics and more modern offerings. Their price point is super friendly as well…I had the smoked whitefish with a Dry Riesling and the combo blew me away!

Counter Common just opened as well and while they are a great brewery with a dynamite food program, they didn’t forget about the wine. They have a short but concise selection of bottles for those that aren’t in the mood for beer.

We are super excited about AYA, the upscale sushi bar that opened recently. They have a huge beverage program that reflects the top notch ingredients that the chefs use. I can’t wait to see what they have to offer…

All this being said, it breaks my heart to see restaurants sling the same ol’ same ol’. There is no point in going to a restaurant and ordering a $65 bottle of wine you could get at HEB for $20. This is not the way…and it just shows that the ownership is not interested in curating an overall experience for their guests. Keep that in mind the next time you dine out, the devil is in the details!

Nifty Gifty

As we ease into the holiday seasons, we just wanted to remind y’all that we are stocked up and ready to put together gift baskets for your loved ones. From a single bottle to the works, we can put something together that is special and memorable!

Beverage Catering

Also, we have started providing our Beverage Catering services! In a well thought out party, the beverages should be just as important as all the other elements that make a party great. We can help you put together a stunning array of beverage options that your guests will be talking about all the way into the New Year!

That's all for now folks...I'll leave with some funnies!

One of our favorite shows, Black Books...this is the wine episode "Grapes of Wrath"

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