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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

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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!!!

Harvest Fest at Bin36- Blend Your Own Wine

Harvest Fest

It’s fall and that means it’s harvest season. Here in Chicago there isn’t exactly a lot of winemaking going on, but Bin36 doesn’t let its patrons miss out on harvest activities. Every fall they host a Harvest Festival. This year was the 2nd time I have gone. It’s a chance to blend your own wine. You heard me blend your own wine. It’s a fun experience and your newly blended wine is a cool gift idea and arrives in time for the holidays.

Here’s how it works. There are 3 stations a smelling station, a blending station and a buying station. Read the rest of this entry

Liatiko: Varietal #27

On a recent trip to Bin 36 I had the Domaine Douloufakis, 2010 Liatiko from Crete. It was quite the start to my wine century challenge, a varietal that was not marked on my initial list and one that my dad has yet to try (a feat with the 147 varietals currently on his list).

I have to admit that I choose the Liatiko because it was a grape that I was sure I had not had. I wasn’t too worried that I would like the wine because the description said that it had similarities to a Pinot Noir and I usually like Pinots, even if I sometimes find them to be a little thin. The notes on the wine said it exhibits qualities of black tea, subtle spice a red fruit. A quick Google search indicates that this seems to be a pretty standard description of what you can expect from the Liatiko varietal. Read the rest of this entry

Don’t Be Scared, It’s Just Wine.

A lot of people I talk to seem to be intimidated by wine.  As soon as I say I’m really into wine they say “oh I don’t know anything about wine. Don’t judge me but I usually pick wine based on the label” They almost seem ashamed by this, like I’m going to look down on them for not being super knowledgeable about wine.  First of all I choose wine based on labels all time. Yeah I head towards the types of wine I prefer and yeah I read what it says about the wine on the back, but when it comes down to it, until you taste a wine you’re not going to know if you like it or not, it doesn’t matter how much you know about wine, so why not choose a wine that is visually appealing? Second of all who am I to judge you because you don’t know a ton about wine? I choose beers based on whether their description says something about fruit or it comes with an orange slice. So yeah I don’t think I can judge.  To me it’s not what you know but how you feel.

The thing I love most about wine is that everyone gets something different when they taste it.  Wine isn’t about knowing what the best vintage is or being able to pick out all of the flavors you’re “supposed” to find in the wine. Wine is about enjoyment. It’s about exploring your own palate and discovering what flavors appeal to you.  I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer when it comes to wine. You can have a bottle of wine that cost five bucks that you love and you can have a bottle that cost hundreds of dollars and you think it is meh.  That doesn’t mean you have bad taste in wine it just means one wine was your style and the other wasn’t.

Now don’t get me wrong I love discussing wine and I’m more than happy to tell people what I think about a wine or explain the properties of the wine, but I also love hearing what other people think of a wine. I love when someone who thinks they know nothing about wine starts to explain what they like or dislike about a wine. When you say to them yeah that’s the tannin or that means it’s fruit forward it’s like all the sudden these terms they never understood become so clear and all sudden they don’t feel like they are an idiot when it comes to wine anymore.  Just because you don’t know all the terminology doesn’t mean you don’t know what you’re talking about.   So I say don’t be afraid to say how you feel and don’t worry about looking stupid just enjoy the wine!

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

Wine to go with your Thanksgiving Feast

ThanskgivingThe holiday season is upon us and the food and wine will be flowing freely. This got me thinking about what types of wine go well with a traditional Thanksgiving feast. In my opinion the options are limitless when it comes to choosing a wine for Thanksgiving.

If you are looking to go with a white you want something well balanced with some acidity. I prefer a dry white. A Sauvignon Blanc might be a good choice or perhaps a Gewurztraminer. The crisp citrus flavors that are characteristic of Sauvignon Blac should pair nicely with your Turkey dinner. Gewurztraminer is a bolder choice to go with your meal, having a bit more spice to it. Read the rest of this entry

Did Somebody Say Wine? -Costume Ideas

Recently I was in Baltimore visiting friends from college and with Halloween just around the corner we started talking about costumes.  My friend brought of when he dressed as Franzia boxed wine in college and it got me thinking about fun wine related costumes you could do this Halloween.

Boxed Wine:

This costume is going to take a little creativity and artistic talent but is a totally fun inexpensive costume idea. When my friend was boxed wine he had artistic friend paint the franzia label onto his box and a spot cut out for the franzia wine spout so he could really serve people some boxed wine!  Read the rest of this entry

Halloween Wine Suggestions-Don’t Be Scared!

Halloween Wine Suggestions-Don’t Be Scared!

Nothing can be scarier then paying over a $100 for a bottle of wine. No worries you won’t have to buy wine that expense during this Halloween season at least we won’t be suggesting any wine that expensive. Wine With Me wanted to give you just a couple of wine suggestions for you party planners and party goers. Wines that aren’t always in season but you can certainly go to your local Sam’s Wine and Spirits, Binny’s, or neighborhood wine shop. Ask questions like “do you have any seasonal wine?” If you need more specifics here are some suggestions.

Pumpkin Wine: I can hear you asking “WHAT! THEY MAKE THAT!” Yes they do actually. Prairie State Winery makes a Pumpkin Wine that may surprise you but remember this is a sweeter wine so if you aren’t into sweet you may want to stay away from this one.  If you’re having a party  and you really want this wine you can order online from any number of wineries. Just Google it!

Apple Wine: This wine can usually be found year round but nothing says Fall like Apples. Of course I don’t have to tell you this is a sweet wine. But would taste great with Brie Cheese and Crackers. It’ll be smooth and sweet certainly a great addition to any Halloween party.

TIP: IF YOU HAVE AN OVERLY SWEET WINE MIX WITH A DRY CHAMPAGNE TO CUT THE SWEETNESS

Both wines are not expensive and are pretty tasty. I wouldn’t just have one kind of wine at your party. Your guests need variety but if you’re looking to add a good wine with a scary label look no further then 2009 Poizin.  This gem comes from Armida Winery. Now don’t let the fact that this bottle has a skull scary you its actually good. It has notes of plum, blackberries, vanilla make it a really nice compliment to the filet mignon. Add a little red to your night by serving this to your guests.

If you don’t feel like trying to find bottles with skulls or even pumpkin wine you can just DIY it. Purchase your favorite bottles and slap on a fun scary label that you can make on your own or buy at these Esty stores: Halloween Wine Labels, The Printing Shop and Pbleu. I personally bought the Pbleu label for this year’s Halloween party and they look amazing.

Happy Haunting! Cheers!

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

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