Get Lit This Holiday: Wine Nog, and Boozy Glogg

Bells will be ringing, snowflakes will swirl; the holidays are fun, until you hurl.

Such sweet poetry… yep, I’m full of it. Poetry, that is…

Remember my old rule, when I write a bad pun or rhyme – take a sip. So take a sip. Maybe two.

Each holiday, I’ve written about various wines with which to toast the season. This year, I wanted to mix it up a little by making my own wine concoctions. I did not invent these recipes, but I wanted to try them because I’m feeling creative. And using a cork screw in artful ways just didn’t satisfy my creative thirst.

But first, a little winter’s tale of nog for you – gather round.

It was a cold Christmas eve, the snow crisp and deep, and even. With everyone at home with their treasures, and few creatures stirring, HubbyDoug realized that he’d forgotten to buy his traditional carton of nog! What now?? Donning his best Maple Leafs toque (beanie), and jacket he dashed out to find the frost was indeed cruel; no open stores. Bah! When what to his wondering eyes should appear, a lone open gas station, oh dear, oh dear! And, yes kids, it had one remaining carton of the nog he craved; as if it was there just for him.

Now, what could possibly go wrong by drinking gas station egg nog, you ask? Well, my friends, it wasn’t just the frost that was cruel that night…

Lesson learned: Always. Check. Expiry. Dates. Even at Christmas.

My nog will be different. It will be delightful! It will be tasty! It will be fresh! It will have wine! And it will be served within a day of making it!

Two of the most consumed traditional favorites are Egg Nog, and Glögg. Egg nog is, well, egg nog; delicate eggy goodness with nutmeg and cinnamon. And Glögg? You’ll see in a bit.

Use Your Noggin’

While my nog has white wine, the only stipulation is that it be a dry white. So many possibilities, but also the chance of a swing and a miss; too dry or savoury and it upsets the delicate balance. Too sweet and you may need to go to the ER. What to do??

I looked at the general flavor profiles of a couple of white varietals and narrowed the field down from there. While I love Sauv Blanc, the herbaceous profile suggests it might be too pungent: flavors of green fruit and vegetables such as gooseberry, green bell pepper, grass, and sometimes nettle. Using wines with great complexity of flavors is, honestly, a waste since the star attraction is really the nog, not the wine. So go for an inexpensive wine that has a higher acidity (to cut some of the nog’s creamy heaviness). An affordable Pinot Gris might be a good bet since its style can range from dry, off- dry, medium to sweet, and flavors include spicy tropical fruits, hints of honey and nuttiness, depending on the region.

I chose a 2016 Chateau St. Michelle, from Columbia Valley, Washington, with flavors of pear, melon and a whisper of spice.

Christmas Egg Nog:

Serves 10

2 egg whites

1/2 bottle white wine

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice 1/2 tablespoon lemon zest 1/2 cup honey

3 cups milk

1/2 quart half and half nutmeg

Place egg whites in a clean bowl and beat with hand mixer until stiff. Set aside.

In a large saucepan, combine white wine, lemon juice, lemon zest, and honey over medium heat. Stir until mixture is warm, then slowly add the milk and half and half while continuing to stir.

Stir over medium heat until mixture is frothy. Remove from heat. Fold in beaten egg whites, then pour mixture into individual glasses or mugs.

Sprinkle with nutmeg.

Serve immediately.

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Glögg

Glögg, on the other hand, has been described as the Long Island Ice Tea of mulled wine. There is a lot of booze in this, and really packs a punch, so better make sure you have Uber lined up if you’re drinking this during the annual open house crawl. Just reading the ingredient list will show you just how much booze is in this. It’s crazy.

Keep in mind, this serves 4.

1 750 bottle dry red wine

1 cup white rum

1 cup bourbon (getting tipsy)

1/2 cup brandy (hello I’m now drunk)

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup dark raisins

1/4 cup raw almonds (no skins)

1 entire orange peel

1 cinnamon stick 1/4 teaspoon whole cloves 5 cardamom pods

1 breathalyzer

In large saucepan over medium-low heat, combine all of the ingredients. ( Do not use an aluminum or copper pot because the metal can give the Glogg a metallic taste.)

Allow it to warm until small bubbles form along the edges of the pot. Make sure the mixture doesn’t boil as this decreases the alcohol content. And we don’t want that!

Carefully strain the raisins and almonds out of the liquid.

Now, nestle yourself in a chair or sofa because you may be there a while and … enjoy!

Whether you have a fully stocked wine cellar ready to go, or are trying a different take with wine based holiday drink, have yourself a merry little Christmas, let your heart be light.

Be safe, be kind, and be good for goodness sake. Apparently, he sees you when you’re sleeping.

Cheers!

Copyright ©️TheWineStudent, 2018

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Something Wicked…

Drink up, witches! It’s haunting time again. This year, I found three wines that will scare up some yummy vibes in your goblet.

Each year when I look for wines to celebrate the season, I’m drawn to those with interesting labels. On my hunt, I found there was one with a distinct tv show tie-in (eg The Walking Dead Red Blend ~ I can only imagine what’s in it…).

Many wineries put together red blends just for the holiday, which is an excellent way to conjure new fans. This year, I was possessed by wines that have singular qualities that consistently haunt my mind like a spirit.

Ok, one was a blend. 👻

Here they are, in no particularly earthly order:

Darkness Falls Red Blend

Spellbound 2016 Petite Syrah

Seven Deadly Zins 2014 Old Vine Zinfandel

Click the video below to see more about the tasting profiles, pairing options, and price points of my Halloween wine picks for 2018!

 

These are all enjoyable offerings that will look bewitching in your Halloween display, won’t behead your budget, and will pair well with any spooky party fare.

I hope you all have a ghoulishly safe and happy Halloween! 🎃

Cheers!

Copyright©️TheWineStudent, 2018

Treats Before Tricks!

Chocolate. Red wine. Chocolate. A perfect pairing especially at Halloween. 🎃

I been gifted a bottle of Chocolate Shop wine a while ago but I was a little skeptical. I’ve tasted chocolate flavored wine that was basically a bottle of Bailey’s Irish. Not that there’s anything wrong with that but when you want a glass of red…

This wine was very different, especially when you first open it; an immediate chocolate vibe was instantly on the nose. Ok, it passed the first test- it smelled amazing- but I was still not convinced.

Right off the bat it was very sweet, a lot more than I normally like. But as I sipped further rounder, full-bodied notes of dark cherry, stewed blackberry emerged, melding with the chocolate vibe. I experimented with it by leaving the wine to aerate for about an hour, and found the flavor evolved into a rich, pleasing dark chocolate covered cherry.

This was a very different wine for me: My preferences are for earthier, beefy red wines that have a slight whisper of chocolate, as part of their fermentation but aren’t necessarily chocolate fortified. A fortified wine has an extra element added (in this case chocolate essence) that adds sweetness or additional alcohol. This wine was a cool, decadent combination treat.

It helps to keep an open mind – and to let it breathe for a while! My only caveat is to not pair this wine with anything too sweet. Most experts agree that sweet wines paired with sweet treats can be overwhelming ~ I ate a handmade sea salt caramel with this wine, and the sugar level was way over top! Stick to some mild, slightly savory cheeses.

Finally, the best way to enjoy any wine during Halloween is with a good scary movie. I paired this wine with ‘The Lost Boys‘, a neo-classic 80’s vampire movie. 🧛‍♂️🦇

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Next post: My Halloween picks for 2018! 👻🎃

Cheers!

©TheWineStudent, 2018

Wine Wednesday: Maysara Jamsheed Pinot Noir 🍷😊

One of the best things about summer is getting together with friends for an amazing dinner and trying a new Pinot Noir! Featured for the evening: 2014 Maysara Jamsheed.

Cultivated in the Momtazi Vineyard located in the foothills of Oregon’s Coastal Range, these grapes have been given much TLC that is necessary produce top quality pinot. The temperatures in this particular region separates them from impact from the valley. Here, there are warmer days, cooler nights and lower precipitation during their harvest. Because pinot is a delicate grape to cultivate, this gentler microclimate is best especially in the days leading up to harvest.

Tea Time

Maysara’s philosophy is that “90% of winemaking takes place in the vineyard.” They believe in truly biodynamic cultivation – a ‘nature to nature’ credo. They shun the chemical approach  by the use of compost tea, made through the propagation of an assortment of medicinal flowers and herbs that are brewed into a steeped tea. Steeping extracts the most beneficial elements which are then worked back into the vineyard soil. This boosts optimum health for the soil, vines, and then the grapes.

What a Pair

Our wine was paired with an incredible dinner of fragrant lamb tangine, grilled root vegetables, and roasted cauliflower with yogurt mint sauce. The delicate balance of sweet and spice played beautifully with the spritely cherry, luscious blackberry, and light cracked pepper vibe of the wine. Since this was a ’14 vintage, it had just the right amount of aging to truly release its tender nuances. This pairing was outstanding.

I would like to eat this picture.

My thanks again to our friends, Judy and Greg, for a wonderful evening of fun, incredible food, and an amazing wine that is one of my new favorites of the summer.

Cheers! 🍷

Message in a Bottle

When you think Malbec, what country immediately comes to mind? Argentina. And it’s true, they make some amazing Malbec.

But today, on this particular Malbec Monday, I’m sipping a kicky Malbec from Arizona: Caduceus Cellars’ 2013 VSC Malbec.

This offering is 100% Malbec from Deep Sky Vineyards in Cochise County, AZ. In order for Malbec to thrive it needs hot, dry days with cooler nights and little to no risk of frost or mildew. Considering that todays temps were topping 102F, there’s probably no frost on the horizon.

Aged 18 months in cask and puncheon (a short, portly 500l cask made from thick staves of American Oak) this Malbec rivals its Mendoza counterpart.

The bold, rich, deep flavors of black cherry, raisin, dark plum, cocoa, with a hint of black pepper, and medium tannin can stand up really well to red meats. But it can dial it back for lighter fair like pork and veal. It paired beautifully with our grilled fish with garlic brown rice.

The price point on this treasure is about $65 and is sold online as part of Caduceus’ exclusive Velvet Slippers Club.

It’s a good expression of the varietal, so don’t shy away from domestic Malbec from Arizona.

Message received. ☺️

Cheers! 🍷💋🍷

Rescue Me

With so much happening in the news, I felt as though I was drowning. I needed to get off the grid for a while.

But I have a few little gems with me to keep my head above water. To keep safe and sound I propose keeping some news surfing to a minimum, and spend more time with those we love. And always make sure your wine is safe on the dock.

Next post: What I’m drinking on my summer vacation! 😎

Cheers! 🍷

Everything’s Coming Up Rosé!

 

With spring finally here, our thoughts turn to all things fun and rosy. Especially when it comes to wine. Some of us want a bit lighter fare but not necessarily white (not that there’s anything wrong with it). And like wearing white after Memorial Day, it’s now safe to say ok to rosé.

Rosé is a little enigmatic. It had an infamously bad rep for only being cloyingly sweet or watered down red in your glass. Not anymore. Many are made from red grapes but with much shorter amount of skin contact (the amount of time the wine is allowed to rest before the skins are removed). Skin contact gives a red wine its tannin, depth of flavor and color. Typically, most rosé is on the skins for between two and twenty hours, picking up color and a little tannin. Red wine typically rests on skins for a few days to two weeks or longer.

Four Main Methods of Making Rosé:

Saignee ~ the byproduct of making red wine, some of the wine is drained off after a quick time in contact with the skins.

Short Maceration ~ the most straightforward way to make rosé. Grapes are crushed and skins soak in cool temperature juice 2-20 hours. juice is then drained off and skins gently pressed prior to fermentation.

Direct Press ~ S-L-O-W press of whole red grapes which give the broken skins time to give some of their color to juice before fermentation.

Blending ~ While not generally done, even though it seems like a no-brainer, there are a few rules if this is how you want to make rosé:

*usually done with champagne; adding a bit of red wine to white, for a blush

*raw red and white grapes are mixed together in the same tank prior to fermentation

*adding lees (yeast sediment) from a white wine to fermenting pink juice. The lees sometimes take away some pigment and flavor so it’s not a method that’s widely used.

Also known as the ‘cold soak’, the maceration time for rosé isn’t always necessary but does give the best chance to extract the most color and character from the skins. fermentation vats are chilled to 50˚F (10˚C) ~ this works best for a pale wine. For a rosé with a richer blush, 55 to 65˚F (13 to 18˚C) is preferred.

According to Katherine Cole, most rosé is fermented and aged in stainless steel tanks, especially those that have a brighter, crisper vibe. Others are given time in larger, neutral barrels. Barrels that are smaller and new/toasted impart too much smokey, or woody flavors to the wine. Rosé is favored for its delicate, lightly silky nature– no one wants a campfire in their glass. Barrel-aged rosé is full-bodied and best with hardier foods.

Pretty in Pink

 

The color of rosé can tell you a lot about where it comes from. Just looking at the hue can tell you something about the varietal, region, and winemaker decisions. For instance, a Tempranillo rosé from Spain can be a light salmon pink, a Sangiovese has a bright, sparkly copper red, the deepest ruby color belongs to Cab Sauv, and Tavel rosé from the Côtes du Rhône. Rosé from Provence is a delicate pink.

Varietals in rosé are many, and it is also produced in exotic locations such as: Sardinia, Greece, Canary Islands, and Israel.

As for flavor, winemakers are spending more time and expertise in coaxing out aromas and tastes that are excellent expressions of the varietals, and regions from which they originate. For instance, a Pinot Noir rosé can have subtle aromas of crabapple, watermelon, strawberry, raspberry and wet stone. Zinfandel (the most popular varietal for rosé) is off-dry, and moderately sweet with flavors of green melon, lemon, cotton candy, and strawberry. Its sweet nature makes it a great entrée to those new to rosé.

I enjoyed Gassier Rosé recently that was a dry style with moderate acid and good fruitiness, with hints of green melon, ripe strawberry, essence of rose petals, and a little spice on the finish that gradually increased as it warmed up.

In general, most range from fruity and floral to savory and rich, which makes them so interesting to pair with a variety of foods.

Hands down, my favorite rosé pairing is with grilled strawberries over angel food cake (with a little sweetened creme fraîche!). Magnifique!

Here’s my handy serve & save chart for you!

Rosé Type

Serve

Save

Sparkling

40-45˚F (5-7˚C)

ice bath (the wine, not you)

Silicone stopper x 2 days

Barrel-aged

55-60˚F (13-18˚C)

leave bottle out 30 mins prior to serving

Recork, refrigerate -drink

w/5 days

Deep Pink

45-55˚F (7-13˚C)

leave chilling, but taste as it warms

Recork, refrigerate – drink

w/ 3 days

Light & Lively

35-40˚F (3-5˚C)

ice bath

You must drink it all that night

Battle of the Celebrity Rosé!

 

Since so many celebs are getting into the wine game, I wanted to try some star-studded offerings to see what they were like.

Let’s get ready to rumble…!!

The challengers:

Francis Ford Coppola’s ‘Sophia~ a blend of Syrah, Grenache, and Pinot Noir. Swellegant bottle, too!

Miraval ~ the couple formerly known as Brangelina... (Mmmkay, so they don’t own the winery that produces it anymore but whatever, they’re in) ~

• He gives Rosé a good name? Jon Bon Jovi’s Diving into Hampton Water~ produced in France in the Languedoc region, it combines 60% Grenache with 15% Cinsault, Mourvédre and 10% Syrah.

 

• Just to shake things up we threw in a couple of non-celeb rosé: Chalk Hill, and Ménage á Trois.

Let’s see what the a blind tasting revealed ...click the video below to see how the wines measured up!

 

 

 

 

Full disclosure, while I purchased the wine, I didn’t see the wines when they were placed in the burlap bags, and I didn’t pour them, so I was in the dark as to which was which. And I was really amazed at the big reveal. I admit, I had some preconceptions as to what I figured I would pick. I thought that, for sure, my number one choice would be Coppola’s Sophia; I loved the gorgeous bottle and the beautiful color. And I thought its color would be an indicator of what I would taste. To my surprise, it offered little in terms of flavour and aroma. It tasted as though the grapes were picked in a very rainy harvest; it was very watery despite the beautiful color.

Our big pick had a pretty, amber-pink color with a nice white peach vibe and pleasing mouthfeel. It paired well with a creamy brie and fresh strawberry. With just a little sweetness (surprising because I’m not usually a sweet wine fan). It was a nice sipper and played well with others. If you checked out the video, you’ll know what it is! 😉

Sparkling or still, deep pink or rosy amber, celeb/non-celeb, rosé is one of the big wine trends that’s cool for the summer. It’s refreshing and right for a season of relaxing, reconnecting, and enjoying the summer sun.

Have a safe and happy Memorial Day!

Cheers! 🍷

©️TheWineStudent, 2018