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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

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Hosting a Wine Party-Happy Hour

It doesn’t matter if you are throwing a party in the summer or winter as long as you have the right drinks and food to nibble on your guest will be happy. Recently a couple of our friends (Dana and I) have been throwing some fun happy hours on Friday evenings and inviting friends over. Its a great time to unwind and relax with friends after a long work week. This inspired me to write a post for our readers who want to have a happy hour of their own or perhaps just a causal get together.

Here is the beauty of throwing a happy hour or just a quick get together you don’t actually have to cook anything. All items can be purchased at the store, wine shop, or cheese shop.

Tip #1-This isn’t a dinner party. Set a time for your friends on the invite if you must. If you are hosting a happy hour its important to note that the party will happen between 5pm-7pm, you know before dinner time.

Tip #2-Get a nice combo of high end and not so high end wine. Lets face it not all of your friends know good wine. However if they don’t tell them to read this blog we can help! But don’t feel obligated to supply the party with all of the beverage options tell your friends to bring some wine over too.

Tip #3-Have some food to nibble on for your guest. This doesn’t mean go out and get them food but snacks only. Dana has already given you the skinny on cheese and wine pairings. If you haven’t read it now is a good time..click here. But I’ll make it easier for you by providing a list

  • Cheese
  • Olives
  • Hummus
  • Veggies
  • Crackers-Water Cracker, Whole Grain
  • Fruit

Totally optional but I love a nice plate of Prosciutto. If you’re feeling a little fancier cut up a nice melon and wrap the Prosciutto around it. Its tasty.

Tip #4-Have fun! The beauty of wine is that you sip it and enjoy the company of your friends. Remember to relax and enjoy yourself.

If you want to make your party/happy hour a little fancier light some candles around. It’ll look beautiful.

Enjoy your happy hour or casual get together!

Cheers!

How to Taste Wines

I’ve been noticing that more and more wine shops and even big box stores are having wine tastings. Most of these places have an agenda to push. Wine Shops carry wines that you can’t find in stores like like  Binny’s, BevMo, Safeway, or Whole Foods. These smaller shops want you to buy what you can’t find anywhere else.  And bigger stores like Binny’s bring in a distributor who only wants you to buy from the selection they carry and are putting out for you to taste. I’m not against agenda pushing but remember you have to buy wine that you like and just because the wine rep says its the best thing you’ll taste doesn’t mean it is. But how will you know if something is good if you don’t know how to properly taste a wine. Here are a few steps to help you.

First things first. Hold you glass by the stem. Your hand can warm the liquid. It happens all the time with beer but with wine you have a choice.

Sight: Look at the wine. Slightly tilt your glass (by the stem) toward the light if possible and if possible against something white or pale. Is the wine clear or cloudy?

White wine: The older the wine the more golden in color it’ll be. The  younger the wine the pale yellow almost green.

Red Wine: These vary in color but a younger wine is usually a bright red color. You may even notice a reddish-brown around the edges. If its an older wine you’ll notice more brown color. Think of the color of a brick (has red in it).

Swirl: Its not just to make you look snotty. There is a purpose to this. I promise. Take your glass by its stem and gently swirl for a few seconds.

Doing this will allow oxygen into the wine. Swirling will release the aroma.

Notice how quickly the movement of the wine. If the wine is easy to swirl it means you have less alcohol and if it moves slowly it means it has more alcohol.

Notice the streaks also called legs of the wine has left on the glass. This will help you determine the body of the wine and alcohol as well. More legs left behind more alcohol.

This happens with red wine. If you notice that you have a red coating that means more alcohol is present as well.

Smell: The isn’t an exact science to this so my best advice is to tip your glass by the stem and inhale. What do you smell? Fruit, floral, woody, spicy?

Taste: My favorite part is the taste of course! Now some people make the mistake of sipping right away. What you should do let the wine sit in your mouth. I usually roll my tongue to ensure it coats my tongue to get range of flavor.

The tip of your tongue will pick up the sweetness, the inner side will pick up the acidity, the outer sides will pick up saltiness, and the back will pick up the bitterness and alcohol.

Some people will spit the wine out especially if you have several wines or wineries to go to. Some drink it but do yourself a favor after don’t drink all of it or you’ll get drunk too quickly and then wines will just blend together.

If you like the wine sip it again and then dump the rest in the bucket. You can buy a bottle if you love it. If you don’t’ like it just dump it. In both cases move on the other wines and repeat the process. Side note you don’t need a new glass for every wine. As long as you move from light to dark the one glass that is given to you is what should be used.

Remember: Don’t buy the wine unless you love it. It’ll be a waste of your time and money if you buy it to appease the rep or the wine shop.

Check our your local wine shop sites or big box stores for wine tastings.

Cheers!

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