wine

Tools of my trade…

This week I was named a Delectable Wine Pro!

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So what the heck does that mean? Well, I use a nice little wine app called Delectable. I recommend it to all my fellow winos, if you don’t already have it. I use it to track and rate wines I’ve tasted, and also while I’m in the store picking out wines to purchase. It has excellent label recognition (the best I’ve come across in a wine app) and will give you user & pro ratings as well as descriptions by users & pros. So I guess I’m officially a professional wino according to Delectable. Check me out on Delectable here & see what I’m drinking!

Another fun little tool in my arsenal is Pepperplate. I’m just starting to scratch the surface of what Pepperplate can do, but the main thing I use it for is when I’m composing recipes. It formats them for me so I don’t have to worry about numbering, or bullet points, or lining things up. It does all that for me. You can share recipes with your friends and there’s an option to make menus and grocery lists using the recipes. Best thing is, I have this app in my phone, so I can write a recipe wherever & whenever inspiration strikes. Currently, there’s an option to share your recipes on Facebook & Twitter, and boy would I like to see an option for formatting a recipe on Pepperplate, and posting it to WordPress (hint hint).

Play-date Wednesday

For a few weeks now I’ve had a play-date planned with my friend & co-worker. We work together for a small company, so if we want to go somewhere together a little planning is in order. Back in August, I went & checked out Windy Wine Co. It’s a cool little spot about an hour away where they’re making some very cool, outside-the-box wines and meads. Recently, I was able to hit it up again; the line-up has changed & evolved seasonally (which is often apt to happen with smaller wineries) & I was able to taste some of the same wines I tasted last time, and I few new (to me) ones. On my last visit, I met Kraig, the vintner, very briefly. This time he did our tasting & we were able to talk about wine-drinking, wine-making, wine fests, mutual friends and acquaintances, and Dr Who.

We sampled the full line-up, which amounted to more than a dozen wines. Here are my picks from this visit:

Apple Wine

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Windy’s Apple Wine had a lovely clean, slightly tart flavor with just enough sweetness. It’s made with locally grown Gala & Jonathan apples (my 2 faves), and has some very subtle woodiness. Reminded me of sitting in a tree on an Autumn day eating apples straight off the branch.

Blushing Mallard

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Blushing Mallard was another outside-the-box offering from Kraig. It’s made from local Norton grapes, which are not typically my favorite. I shouldn’t say this too loudly while in Missouri, since Norton is their state grape and has something of a cult following. However, instead of the typical spiciness and heavy tannins you usually find in a Norton, it’s much fruitier with an “untamed” wild cherry note (see what I did there?) starting in the middle and going all the way until the end. They recommend it with wild duck, but it would stand up beside any wild game.  Very tasty.

Chipotle Mead

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This guy was my winner of the day, surprisingly. I am not a huge mead drinker, I don’t go out in search of mead, although I know that plenty of folks do. This one is pretty unique, there are 3 layers of flavor here. At the back you have an earthy note, from the honey, then the expected sweetness and thickness coating your mouth & tongue, then on the end the deep, spicy chipotle. I definitely bought this with the intention of cooking with it, but I’m still trying to decide whether I want to slow-cook some chicken or pork, or maybe make some jelly. Or both. That will be coming up soon, so stay tuned.

After we got done at Windy, we ended up stumbling onto a nice little Greek joint I found on UrbanSpoon, Gyro Paradise in St Joseph, MO (the birthplace of Eminem incidentally). We had some yummy lamb gyros, stuffed grape leaves, and falafel. The nice young guy at the counter even let us taste the baba ganoush and a few other items. Prices were great, staff was great, food was tasty. Will definitely be back the next time I’m in the neighborhood. It’s a little hard to schedule my wino/foodie field trips in my line of work, but I already have a few ideas for my next one, so this will definitely not be my last.

What’s in my glass: WBC Row Hard Root Beer and Blumenhof Chambourcin AKA: The night I forgot to drink the wine…

Had dinner with some friends Friday night. Bleu Cheese stuffed burgers, spinach salad, pasta salad, fries for the kidlets. I, naturally brought the booze and my daughter prepared her “precious little apple babies” for dessert.

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Here’s a pic of the booze I brought…

On the left is a growler of Row Hard Root Beer from Weston Brewing Company.  On the right, Blumenhof Winery’s 2012 Chambourcin. The Chambourcin was given to me by a grateful co-worker for whom I covered a shift. She did some detective work and figured out that Chambourcin is one of my favorite varietals. I thought it would be the perfect compliment to the yummy bleu cheese burgers. The root beer is getting a ton of great word of mouth, and my friend’s hubby is something of a “drink geek” so I thought it would be fun to try…

We cracked open the growler. In preparation for it’s sampling my hosts had graciously provided chilled glasses. We poured three glasses and resumed pre-dinner chatting. I was happy to find that the root beer did not disappoint. I’m not sure quite what I was expecting– beer with a slight root beer flavor? But this tasted JUST LIKE ROOT BEER. Which I love. There was a very slight beer-ish aftertaste. But it was quite delicious. In fact, I believe one of the first statements I made after tasting it was that if O’Malley’s Pub was not serving root beer floats made with Row Hard that they were really missing the bus. Guys, if you are not, MAKE THIS HAPPEN.

The mishap of the night was that I enjoyed the root beer so much that I poured myself a second glass and completely neglected to taste the Chambourcin. I did give it a sniff when I was first uncorked. The nose was unremarkable. Some fruit, a good bit of oak, the earthiness that I enjoy so much in a Chambourcin was all but nonexistent in the bouquet. It was also much lighter-bodied than other Chambourcins I have enjoyed. I am disappointed to say that’s all I can offer in review of this wine. But I have learned my lesson. Never will I forget to taste the wine again. You have my word.

Update: I spoke to Corey Weinfurt from Weston Brewing Company this morning and he offered me a bit of insight on the Row Hard Root Beer as well as the Pedal Hard Ginger Beer, which were both collaborations with The Root Sellers. These have been in development for about a year, the Pedal Hard released in June, the Row Hard available this month on tap (and in growlers). In the coming months they should be available for purchase in 6-packs. I am very excited to try the Pedal Hard as well and will be bringing my growler over for it soon! 

Credit to The Root Sellers for the pic of the taps at the UNICO Microbrew Festival at Zona Rosa.

Watch That/ Drink This

What could be more relaxing at the end of a long week than relaxing on the sofa with a good movie and a bottle glass of wine? But what are we watching? And more importantly, what are we drinking? It’s time for…

Wine and a Movie!

When I was envisioning these pairings I attempted to match the wine with the characters, setting, and feel of the film. This proved more difficult than I had originally anticipated.

1. Chick Flicks like Bridget Jones’ Diary: Our slightly-neurotic-but-lovable heroine is handling her dramatic life by filling her diary and puffing on cigarettes. What’s she sipping? An oaked Chardonnay, natch. Hopefully it will also pair well with that horrid blue twine soup!

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2. Gritty Dramas like Fight ClubThis is an easy one. There’s nothing I can envision more here than a dirty, old-world, Cabernet Franc. Wine so earthy, so smoky, so dirty you’ll definitely need a bar of soap from The Paper Street Soap Company when you’re done.

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3. Family-Friendly Movies like FrozenThankfully, now that my kids are getting older (In a little over a month I will have TWO teenagers! Eek!) I’m no longer obligated to view the latest cartoon sensation, but I understand totally that maybe when you’re hearing “Let it Go” for the umteen-millionth time you’re wishing you had a drink. Of course, what is better with Frozen than Ice Wine? “Do you want to build a wine-man?”

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4. Dude Flicks like Scarface: First of all, what do you call a chick-flick for dudes? And what constitutes a dude flick? Car chases? Stuff blowing up? I decided to go classic gangster on this one. What dude doesn’t like Scarface? The pairing on this one is a little labored, but I think good. The pairing here totally had to be a red wine. Tony is Cuban. What wine would pair well with the salty pork and spicy mustard in a Cuban sandwich? I’d go with the bright, berry notes in a Tempranillo. La Granja, from Spain is one of my favorites. I got it at Trader Joe’s.

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5. Classic Movies like Dirty DancingThis movie, suggested by my Bestie, was a stumper. My first inclination was to pair it with a wine that might be served at Kellerman’s; certainly there are plenty to choose from in the Hudson Valley. Next, I thought perhaps something 1960’s inspired? That brought to mind more cocktails than wine. Finally, I settled upon a wine that pairs with watermelon. Watermelon tastes like summer; and after all, it was Baby carrying the watermelon that started it all. So, sip on a nice cool, summery, Rosé while you watch those unforgettable dance moves. Heck, have some watermelon too!

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6. Romances like When Harry Met SallyI guess this is sort of a Rom-Com, but it’s my favorite. Don’t judge. It takes a long, long time for Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal to get together, but when they do you want to celebrate! And it’s New Year’s Eve! Naturally, you’ll want to sip on some Champagne. Want a snack? How about some popcorn with truffle butter? But put the truffle butter on the side.

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What’s in my glass…

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I acquired this lovely, golden, unoaked Chardonnay at a wine dinner at one of my favorite spots Cafe Des Amis in Parkville, MO. I was floored when I was informed that this peachy wonder with gentle citrus undertones was a Chardonnay, not a Sauvignon Blanc as I would have guessed. I drank it on game night with the kinders. Definitely an unconventional pairing with the White Castle burgers, wontons, and fried pickles we enjoyed. But a nice compliment to UNO and Blackjack- my kids are cardsharks! :/

What’s in my glass…

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Gatsby Red– an off-dry (although they call it semi-sweet) red blend I picked up while on Long (STRONG) Island this week.
A semi-sweet red blend, this wine is barrel-aged in seasoned oak, which brings out dark berry-dominated fruitiness upfront, and a firm yet lingering finish. Enjoy as an aperitif, but also pleasing slightly chilled and served with traditional barbecue or spicy Asian-inspired fare.

Cookout Wine Pairings

Cookouts Aren’t Just For Beer…

This weekend I deep cleaned all three of my grills. The weather is getting warmer, school is nearly over here in the Midwest and the time has come for cookouts. Grilling. BBQ. Whatever you call it in your neck of the woods, it usually involves meat cooked outdoors over a fire of some kind; and a cooler filled with beer. What’s a wino to do? I’m glad you asked!

Four Cookout Wine Pairings to Try:

  1. Bratwurst and Potato Salad with two options: As my hometown hero Billy Joel would say, “a bottle of red, a bottle of white”. I actually have TWO suggested pairings with this plate. The first is a Blaufränkisch also known by the “stinky” name Lemberger. This is a dry, spicy fruit-forward red wine originally from Bavaria and Austria. In the states, you can also find it in Washington. The spice notes match up with the lovely spice in the brats and contrast with the creamy potato salad. The other perhaps more crowd-friendly pairing is the German classic, a Riesling. With the heat of the brats, I would lean towards a sweeter spätlese Riesling to juxtapose the spiciness. The apple notes present in many Rieslings would definitely compliment the potato salad as well. Prost!
  2. Hamburger and Baked Beans: This is very nearly a “no brainer” pairing until you throw in the wild card: baked beans. With traditional tomato-based baked beans you can’t miss with a nice Zinfandel from Cali. The berry notes and strong tannins stand up nicely to juicy beef and tomatoes. If your baked beans are little sweet, and I usually like to put some honey or maple syrup in mine, a really good bet would be an earthier Pinot Noir or a Missouri Chambourcin. If you’re having the Chambourcin with that burger, make sure to top it with some swiss cheese and sautéed mushrooms!
  3. BBQ Chicken and Cole Slaw:This is a match made in wine pairing heaven. With this plate I compliment the smokiness of the chicken with the oaky goodness of a Chardonnay. The peachy notes in a Chardonnay, or it’s midwestern cousin the hybrid Chardonnel are delicious alongside the creamy, tangy coleslaw.
  4. Grilled Steak and Cucumber Salad:Here, I’m thinking of a wonderful marinated skirt steak that’s rocking some Latin-inspired flavors like this one. Sharing the plate with the steak is a refreshing cucumber salad with cherry tomatoes and perhaps some fresh basil. A wonderful match for this plate is a dry, lighter-bodied, chill-able red such as a Tempranillo. Many lighter bodied reds can be slightly chilled which is a good option during the summer months. ¡Salud!

Bonus! Ambrosia Salad:
No cookout is complete without dessert and what dessert is better for outdoor summer fun than ambrosia salad. A delicious fruit salad with citrus fruit and marshmallows would be outstanding paired with a sweet sparkler like Spanish Cava or the insanely-popular-but-still-enjoyable Moscato d’Asti.