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Sonoma: Part Three of My California Wine Adventure

Wine room at Joseph Swan

After our morning of wine tasting at Iron Horse we went to Mary Edwards, Joseph Swan and Cline.

Mary Edwards was the first stop after Iron Horse. While it’s always fun to go tasting I was not a huge fan of Mary Edwards. It was by far the least attractive of all the wineries we went to. It felt very corporate. My other issue was that it just felt pretentious. I’m all for hearing why the wine maker did things the way they did and what you might get from this wine but I hate being told how I should feel about a wine. Give me the tasting notes and then let me determine if I agree or not. Read the rest of this entry

Let’s Talk Turkey (and Wine Pairings)

Thanksgiving Image

Its almost here! Thanksgiving, a day to celebrate family, friends, and food. Of course wine is always something I’m thankful for, in fact I usually thank the wine gods at almost every meal. However, the Thanksgiving meal is different. Hard work has been put in by moms, dads (maybe), or your local caterer. What wines should you pair with turkey and all the trimmings?

Well don’t assume a dry white wine will bring an extra something to the holiday table. If you like red wines you should bring that along. Here are some wines that will go beautifully with your turkey this Thanksgiving.

Iron Horse 2007 Classic Vintage Brut
This will be a crowd pleaser because its a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Its a beautiful taste of apple and pear with just a hint yeast. Amazing with a turkey dinner

North Valley 2009 Pinot Noir
Pinot Noirs are my favorite but this particular bottle has a beautiful flavor of cherry and raspberry and ends with some amazing spice.

Navarro Vineyards 2011 Dry Gewürztraminer
Normally a Riesling is the wine people confuse with Gewürztraminer. But Gewürztraminer actually has more floral aromas and citrus. When you have a cranberry and turkey combination this wine will make everyone at the table smile.

Northstar 2008 Columbia Valley Merlot
The movie Sideway gave Merlot a bad name. Who would have known one line could give such a bad connotation to Merlot. But no worries this Merlot has a small percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot which gives a great fruit forward taste and ends soft tannins.

Mostly importantly remember to enjoy time with your family and friends this holiday.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Napa Valley: Part One of My California Wine Adventure

Chateau Montelena

Chateau Montelena

I finally made it out to the Bay Area to visit my sister. Now obviously the most important part of the trip was spending time with my sister but wine tasting was definitely an added bonus! It was a pretty great trip not only did I get to see my sister but my parents came out at the same time. We went to a couple wineries in Napa and a few more in Sonoma. We also spent a day at Alcatraz and a day drinking wine and eating fresh oysters on the beach. All and all a pretty fabulous trip!

So let get down to the important stuff, wine! I’m going to split this into multiple post since there is some much to cover. Let’s start with Napa. Read the rest of this entry

Sutter Home: A Surprise in Napa

Sutter Home…well when you think about Sutter Home you think $7.99 bottle at the local supermarket. And to be honest with you I’m right there with you. During a recent trip to Napa I stopped by Sutter Home. Now let me clarify this stop was not one that I had planned on and took some time to talk me into but I went to really please the person I was with on the trip. I was unsure of what I would find. But I thought…Korbel is known for lower end sparkling wines perhaps so the same will happen with Sutter.

Well…I wasn’t as please with Sutter Home as I was with Korbel but I wasn’t disappointed. In fact they did have a few items that I purchased. Let me start off by saying that these items are NOT at your local supermarket. In fact these wines are exclusive to Sutter Home’s tasting room in Napa. And the price while still not expensive wasn’t as cheap as you’d think but $20 for a ___ wasn’t bad and the taste was delightful. This is the kind of wine you’d drink with friends who know a lot about wine or very little about wine. Both novice and experts alike will enjoy this bottle.

I will admit that I was unsure of the tasting room and its certainly not fancy but I gave it a shot. Glad I did however, I still won’t buy the wine you find at the local supermarket. In fact the only wine I’ll have is the one I found in Napa. Try not to judge a book by its cover…at least when it comes to actually going to Sutter Home’s Tasting Room

Cheers!

Holiday Wine Gift Ideas 2011

Its that time of the year when we start to shop for our loved ones. But with all of this shopping we forget about other people we have to get gifts for…like your doorman or a co-worker who went above and beyond to help you out this year. What can you get them that won’t break the bank and still make you look like you appreciate what they do?

Well wine is a great gift, its easy and you stick a bow on it and you have an instant gift! The only issue is you don’t want to look cheap and giving someone the 3 Buck Chuck is out of the question. You still want to look like you care and that you’re not a cheapskate.

Here are some suggestions that may work for you. We are giving you choices with different prices points. The best part is you can pick some of this up while you’re out shopping for your family gifts or maybe grocery shopping.

$50 and under

Champagne: Veuve Clicquot
There is a reason this tasty champagne is worth the $40-50 dollars. Its amazingly tasting, smooth, and just a hint of sweetness. Even people who don’t like sweet will love this. Best of all its a classic and sold everywhere!

$40 and under
2005 – Allegrini Amarone
Dana had a great post about Amarone. This particular is a medium-bodied Amarone but full of dark fruits and spices. Any wine lover or wine novice will enjoy this present.

2008 – Walter Hansel Chardonnay Cuvee Alyce
This white wine will be a hit. Its a full bodied white with hints of lychee nuts and honeysuckle. Tasty with any holiday turkey.

$30 and under
2008 – Anne Amie Pinot Noir
Its not secret I love Pinot Noir BIG FAN! What I love about this wine is that it taste good with Steak or a nice shrimp dish. This wine has a good berry, fruit flavor with a hit of smokiness.

2010 – Mas de la Rouviere Bandol Rose
Rose is a beautiful color but if you get a good one like this you’ll love the taste. Dried Fruit with a hint of citrus you’ll enjoy an amazing seafood meal.

$20 and under
2008 – Airfield Cabernet Sauvignon
Spices with blackberries make this medium bodied wine heaven. The balance of fruit helps make this a very special gift.

2008 – Becker Riesling Laisser Faire
Say hello to peach and grapefruit flavors. This wine will open your palette and help you enjoy the beauty of the holidays

$10 and under
2010 – A to Z Wineworks Pinot Gris
This is a sweeter wine…perhaps a gift for someone who enjoys spicy foods. This will help balance the pear, peach and tobacco flavors with the heat of the food. It maybe $10 dollars but it’ll taste like a million bucks!

2010 – Beso de Vino Garnacha
Black cherries and violets bring in a warm taste to the holiday. And this bottle while not pricey at all can be aged for a year or two.

Try not to give someone Barefoot Wine or anything out of a box. Make the effort to at least try and get something that someone will enjoy. The taste of the wine can speak volumes. Just like you put thought and care into gift wrapping a present do the same when it comes to wine. These are just a few suggestions. Buying wine shouldn’t take you longer then finding a gift at the mall but certainly ask a few questions and remember always give your price point. If you like a certain bottle buy a few of them and give them to everyone who you feels deserve the gift of wine.

Happy Holidays from your favorite wine girls!
Lissette, Dana, and Rio

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

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

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!

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

Sangria: The Adult Version of Fruit Punch

Sangria

Now that summer has hit and my apartment temperature resides right around 75 degrees on a normal day and between 80 and 90 on a hot day, I’m finding my normal wine habits just aren’t cutting it. I love red wine, but in the summer heat, it just isn’t that refreshing. Roses and whites are perfect for this type of weather, but often I find myself craving Sangria. For those of you that are not familiar with Sangria it is kind of like the adult version of Fruit Punch. Sounds amazing right?

On a hot day Sangria can be incredibly refreshing. So what exactly is Sangria? Simply put, it is wine punch. It is usually made with a light, dry wine high in acidity, chopped fruit, and some sort of spirit like Brandy or Triple Sec. Sometimes a sweetener like honey, simple syrup or orange juice is added and some recipes call for seltzer water or lemon lime soda. Like all kinds of punch, there are a billion different recipes.

Sangria is derived from the Spanish word sangre, meaning blood.  Traditionally, Sangria is made from red wine, but there are many white Sangrias as well. I recommend making your own or ordering it in a restaurant rather than buying a bottle of pre-made Sangria.  I’ve tried a few bottled Sangrias and have never been impressed. Read the rest of this entry

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