Raise a glass of wine and toast to any occasion

Wine has many benefits and serves us in so many ways. The custom of wine at special occasions goes back thousands of years. It rightly takes on a spiritual dimension as people celebrate their lives.
No finer example of this is the raising of a glass to the assembled and a toasting a  birthday, anniversary or a simple gathering of friends.
Take a look at the happy faces in the accompanying photo. The joy of wine and camaraderie is working its magic as this ancient custom is in full bloom. 
Here’s a bit of trivia for you. The term “toast” comes from an ancient practice of dropping a piece of burnt bread into wine in order to ensure a more palatable product. 
For a flourish and to stay true to the ritual, try these tips next time you toast with lovely glass of wine:
To gain the attention of the group, rise to the occasion before toasting. Maintain eye contact and speak from the heart about how great it is to be together; please, no long-winded speeches from cue cards. Raise the glass to about eye-level and shift your eye contact to all involved in the toasting. After the message and all glasses clink, the toaster or the host can take the first sip.
You need not wait for a special occasion to enjoy a sincere toast. Whether it’s two or 22 and you are gathered with wine, raise your glass and celebrate life.
Salut!
A night at the Bistro
Beringer Winery of Napa and Bistro West in Carlsbad combined for a well-attended, well-orchestrated and enjoyed wine event recently. Lots of upbeat wine lovers cheered on the wine selections and menu, put together by General Manager Paul Fitzgerald, Executive Chef Jason Connolly and Cindy Bock of Foster’s, the Beringer rep.
Beringer is a pioneer winery founded in Napa in 1876 by a distinguished German winemaker, Jacob Beringer. He found the volcanic soil of Napa to be excellent for growing wine grapes. Even today, Beringer is the oldest operating winery and none is more respected. My two picks for the evening were blends: the ’07 Alluvium Blanc (Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Chardonnay and Viognier) and the ’06 Alluvium Red Meritage (Cabernet, Merlot, Malbec and Cab Franc). Alluvium refers to the soil structure, which is distinctly mineralized and shows itself in these two fine wine choices.
Bistro West has a “New Deal” currently offered where the entire check is discounted 15 percent for dinners ordered seven days a week from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.
Reservations are suggested by calling (760) 930-8008.
Wine Bytes
— Bacchus Wine Market in the Gaslamp District San Diego presents Red Blends from 4 to 8:30 p.m. Sept. 11 and from 2 to 8:30 p.m. Sept 12 for $15 per person. Call (619) 236-0005 for details.
— Meritage Wine Market in Encinitas hosts Lobsterfest 2009 from 6 to 9 p.m. Sept. 19. It’s an East Coast-style menu with fresh Maine lobster. Six different wines will be paired with the food for $85 each. RSVP at (760) 479-2500.
— Party Latin style at San Antonio Winery downtown Los Angeles with ethnic foods and wine from 2 to 5 p.m. Sept. 20. Many South American countries’ native dishes will be tasted. There will be live music. The cost is $50. Find out more at (323) 223-1401.
— Wine Styles in Encinitas invites you to dine in style from 7 to 9 p.m. Sept. 26. Four-course special menu limited to 16 guests. French style wines tasted. The cost is $80 per person. Details at (760) 633-0057.
— FLIGHT  Restaurant and Wine Bar in Del Mar now has half-price wine nights every Wednesday and wine flight nights every Thursday night at 7 p.m. Five wines and culinary creations for $25 each. Get more info at (858) 847-0490.

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