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Wine and Cupcakes… a Match Made in Heaven?

Cupcakes & Wine

I don’t know about you but when I think of pairing wine pretty much the last thing in the world I think about pairing it with is cupcakes. It just doesn’t seem to be a match to me. That being said, I was intrigued when I saw a sign for a wine and cupcake pairing at D.O.C Wine Bar. It was not anything I ever would have thought of but hey, I like wine, I like cupcakes, why not?

On a Thursday evening my friend Allison and I stepped into a very crowded D.O.C for our foray into the world of wine and cupcakes. The cupcakes were being provided by Molly’s a Cupcake Shop, just down the street from D.O.C. and though I’d only had cupcakes from there a few times I’d never been disappointed. Read the rest of this entry

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Trader Joe’s: Wine Picks

Trader Joe’s is a place that many of us go grocery shopping. We find that they have a great selection of almost everything. You like fruit they have it and usually for a good price. You like cheese, they have that too, and its pretty good cheese. What about crackers you like those? Yep they have a wide assortment. These are items you may snack on while drinking wine. BUT does Trader Joe’s have a good selection of wine???

Well like any store that sells wine you’ll find that sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. However Dana and I have made our picks on wines that you should look into and buy on your next trip to Trader Joe’s

 

Lissette’s Picks:

Purple Moon Shiraz

Now let me just start off by saying this little gem is $5.99. And if you’re on a budget this is the wine you want to take to your friend’s house. Its fruity but not sweet and like many Shiraz it has a nice peppery finish but it certainly doesn’t overtake the fruit you taste at the beginning. Its smooth. This wine maybe something you may have with Pizza or a nice pasta with meat sauce. Or you can be just like me and drink it while watching a good TV show. Either way you can’t go wrong for the price. Read the rest of this entry

A Star is Born….or Discovered?

On a small side street in Chicago you’ll find a wine bar that really deserves a standing ovation. Let me introduce you all to Blue Star Wine Bar located at 1209 N. Noble Street. I will admit I always passed by their giant sign that promoted their existence. Finally my partner in wine crime, Dana, suggested that we tried this wine bar. Well thank you Dana! We went on a Friday night (we made reservations) and enjoyed all the wine and food they had to offer.

You walk in and this place looks very old world, small, and dare I say it sweet. This is the kind of place you go to enjoy the best of life: friends, wine, and food. The staff was outstanding…they really helped us feel at home. They wine suggestions were on point and I didn’t second guess what they had to offer.

First I tired the Torresella Nero D’Avola. Its an Old World Red that has a great soft taste at the beginning and ends with big flavor. Just a hint of spicy. The price was $8 dollars. Not bad for such great taste. Then I move on to one of my favorites, Meomi Pinot Noir. Anyone who has read this blogs knows that Pinots are my favorite and I haven’t really found one I didn’t like (its happened but not often).

On to the food…to start Dana and I with the Goat Cheese Croquettes with Blueberry Honey Emulsion. If you eat ANYTHING this is the dish you want. We loved it so much we had to order another. For dinner we enjoyed Espresso Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Madeira Caramelized Shallots, Blackberry Frutta Cotta, Roasted Yukon Gold Potatoes, Sautéed Spinach and a special that you won’t find in the menu: NY Strip Steak. I can not say how much Dana, our friend Bridget (who joined us) and I loved our main dishes. We shared it and trust me the portions are big so you may want to split it with the people in your group.

Finally, dessert. The reason we eat is to have something sweet. A piece of heaven on a plate, Graham Cracker Crusted Fried Nutella with Blackberry Coulis and Grand Marnier Marshmallow Sauce. Sounds good right? That’s because it is amazing!

Thank you Blue Star Wine Bar for really taking time to cook great food and selecting amazing outstanding wines.

For more information on Blue Star Wine Bar.

Cooking with Wine

Pasta with Cherry Tomatos, Fresh Herbs and White Wine Sause

When I was little, I would watch my mom cook lasagna or meatballs.   There was never a recipe, and there was never any measuring. It was always a little of this and a little of that until it looked and tasted just right. Often when my mom cooks, whatever is in the house and needs to be used up is added to what she’s making.  This is my theory on cooking too. I’m never really sure what I’m making until it’s done, but usually whatever I come up with is pretty good. I won’t lie though — there have been some misses!

My two secret weapons of flavor are garlic and wine. In my opinion, you cannot go wrong throwing some wine into the mix. Whether you add a little red wine into a marinade or sauté some veggies with white wine and pour them over pasta, it usually is yummy!  As a bonus, whenever you cook with the wine you drink, you know the wine is going to go well with the food you’ve made because the same flavors are already in the cuisine.

Tuesday I had no idea what to make for dinner. I really didn’t have much in the fridge. No veggies or fresh herbs, but I did have a cheap bottle of chardonnay and some frozen shrimp in the freezer.  I decided I would make a shrimp scampi type meal. The entire meal, including boiling water and cooking pasta, took about 20 minutes. It was simple, fast and delicious!  The finished dish consisted of 6 ingredients — shrimp, wine, garlic, a little butter, olive oil and pasta — plus some salt and pepper.   I couldn’t ask for a simpler meal, but without my trusty wine, it wouldn’t have been possible!  Read the rest of this entry

Wine With Your BBQ

BBQ with Wine

For many people the 4th of July and barbequing go hand in hand. With the 4th just around the corner, I got to thinking about pairing wine with BBQ. Your wine pairing really depends on what you are throwing on the Grill. A good rule of thumb is bold goes with bold; strong flavored food needs a bolder, richer wine. Delicate goes with delicate; a more delicate, lighter flavored food usually pairs well with a softer, more delicate wine.

For a lot of BBQ items you want a pretty bold wine. The smokiness and spice of BBQ can overpower lighter wines. You also don’t need an extremely complex wine. The nuances of a complex wine can get lost among the spices of grilled meats, especially if you are using a lot of spice (think BBQ sauce or dry rubs). This means that a lot of wines in the $10 range will work well with your meal.

If you want to play it safe, Zinfandel, Merlot or Rose go well with almost all BBQ items. Reds are easier to pair with BBQ than whites and almost any red will work with hamburgers and hot dogs. It is usually a good idea to steer clear of Chardonnay because it is harder to pair with grilled items. Read the rest of this entry

Cheese Please: A Guide to Pairing Wine and Cheese

 

Wine and Cheese

Last Friday, Lissette and I went to In Fine Spirits to use a Groupon I had. We got a bottle of 2010 Chateau Mourgues Du Gres Les Galets Rose, Blue Cheese Stuffed Dates and a cheese flight that consisted of Fresh Ricotta with Truffle & Honey,Chatham Camembert (a sheep and cow blend) and aged Manchego Gran Valle. The dates and the cheese were amazing with the wine and it got me thinking about wine and cheese pairings.

A good wine paired with the perfect cheese is amazing, but with so many options, how do you choose the right kind of cheese to go with your wine? When it comes down to it, it is all about your own personal preference, but here are a few suggestions: Read the rest of this entry

Wines & Chocolate-A Pair Made in Heaven

Wine and Chocolate is like marriage you have to find the right pairing to make it work. And when you make it work it can be one of the best things you’ve ever discovered. Pairing Wine and Chocolate can be difficult and if you pair the wrong chocolate with your wine it can be disaster. In some cases it can even make your chocolate taste sour. So here are some tips that can help you create a great wine and chocolate pairing. Just remember don’t go buying your chocolate at your local 7-11 store it’ll defeat the purpose of your wine pairing .

  • Pair lighter chocolate with lighter wines
  • Pair dark chocolates with dark, full bodied wines
  • Like any wine tasting work your way from light to dark Read the rest of this entry
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