Somm: Enchanted Evening

In most endeavors, practice makes perfect. To pass the prestigious yet painstakingly difficult Master Sommelier Exam, practice is as essential as eating and sleeping, both of which most candidates eschew in favor of studying.  Somm follows four men who risk their personal lives, their livelihoods, and most of their sanity trying to achieve the coveted position in the Court of Master Sommeliers. It sounds almost like a Dungeons and Dragons quest and in some ways it seems just as daunting.

The exam occurs only once a year and covers three main components:

  • Theory ~ wine laws and regions
  •  Service~ professional behavior
  • Blind Tasting ~ determining the varietal, vintage and exact appellation, etc. Etc…etc…etc…

Just watching them do the blind tasting alone got my head spinning; the rapid fire way they could describe the scent, flavors, nuances, color, mouth-feel and body was astounding. If it was up to me, I’d give them all a pass. It’s intimidating to consider that out of roughly fifty or so who take the exam, only about six pass. For those who don’t make the cut, it’s back to the massive boxes of recipe cards, and sipping, swirling, spitting and memorizing. Which in this doc, isn’t nearly as light-hearted and fun as it sounds.

The next time you’re in a restaurant and the sommelier wants to recommend a great wine, trust them. They’ve put in the hours, sweat and, yes, tears to help you make the best bets in choosing wines that will enchant your evening.

Cheers!

©TheWineStudent, 2015

Happy Friday! 


Lately, I’ve been thinking of things for which I’m grateful. I’m thankful for a healthy family. I’m thankful for great friends ~ near and far ~ who will happily explore the Cleve (and a nice vintage or two) with me.

I hope that you all have a great Friday, and that you find at least one wine that helps make your weekend something special.

Cheers!

©TheWineStudent, 2015

A Cool, and Hot Way to Open Wine! 


A while ago, I tried to open a bottle of wine with my shoe. I recall it was a stubborn little vintage that would not cooperate.
This video from Business Insider shows a unique way to get the job done, especially for older bottles.  But I suggest leaving it to the professional sommelier, unless you safely know your way around a blowtorch or Bunsen burner!

Cheers!

©TheWineStudent, 2015

Hot Fun in the Summertime

  Summer has finally (really this time) arrived in the Cleve! Being in a mood to celebrate a few continuous days of sun, my friend Shelly, HubbyDoug and I went to Tastings on the Terrace at the Cleveland Museum of Art. As luck would have it, the featured wines were West Coast Pinots (score for Dougie).

Even in the face melting heat ~ we felt a little like the guy who looks at the sacred chest at the end of ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’, we knew we were there for a good time.  The evening’s flights featured Meiomi, Bridlewood, and Willamette Valley

Starting with the lightest:

  • Meiomi: blackberry, cherry vibe that was light tannin and mild. A nice sipping wine for a patio.
  • Bridlewood: smoky and toasty and less fruit forward at the start. More of smooth fruit essence came alive when paired with the cheese samples. We noticed more tannin than the Meiomi.
  • Willamette Valley: beautiful, bold plum vibe that, while having more body than the rest, was the most complex and felt more like a Cab (which Shelly liked best) without the added heat that a Cab can sometimes bring.

Last night’s event ran from 5-8pm and continues again next Friday with summer cocktails.

As hot as it was last night, I never like to complain too much about the heat. Because like a wonderful wine sample, it doesn’t always last as long as you think it should.

Cheers!

©TheWineStudent, 2015

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Chills and Thrills!

I think the coast is clear. It’s now safe to put your patio furniture in its full lounging position. Summer has arrived in the Cleve!

I can’t think of a better way to celebrate days when the mercury climbs, than running through a sprinkler or enjoying winesicles. I did some research and found many variations on the theme. The easiest two were from Bon Appetit magazine.

Here they are, complete with my substitutions. Instead of the suggested Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir, I used Simply Naked Unoaked Sauvignon Blanc and Once Upon a Vine’s 2013 Pinot Noir.

Sauvignon Blanc-Infused Yellow Peach and Vanilla Ice Pops

  • 4 oz organic dark cane sugar ( i used regular organic cane sugar)
  • 11-inch piece of vanilla bean, split lengthwise ( I used organic vanilla extract)
  • 3-4 overripe yellow peaches (I could only find white peaches)
  • 7oz Sauvignon Blanc

Combine sugar and 4 fluid oz water in a saucepan. Gently heat, while stirring, until sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat, add cut vanilla bean and steep for 15 minutes. Remove bean and allow syrup to cool completely.pureed white peaches and blackberries

Rinse peaches and pat dry. With paring knife, remove pits and stems. Lightly puree peaches, being sure to leave some texture, resulting in about 16 fluid oz. Combine puree with cooled vanilla syrup and Sauvignon Blanc, stirring well to incorporate.

Pour into molds, add sticks and freeze until solid (about 4-6 hours). Unmold and serve!

Pinot Noir-Infused Blackberry Ice Pops

  • 4oz organic dark cane sugar (again, I used regular organic cane sugar).
  • 11/2 pounds blackberries (about 5 cups)
  • 6-8 ounces Pinot Noir

Combine sugar and 4 fluid ounces water in a saucepan. Gently heat while stirring until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.

Rinse blackberries and dry with paper towel. Lightly puree in blender.

Add 6 ounces of cooled liquid sugar, 6 ounces Pinot Noir and taste. If you like a stronger Pinot Noir flavor, add the remaining 2 ounces. I added a little extra Pinot to the mix and found it then had a more wine-based vibe, as opposed to a fruit-in-your-face essence. As with anything related to wine, it’s all a matter of preference.

Pour into molds, add sticks and freeze until solid (about 4-6 hours). Unmold, serve and enjoy!

A little of the Pinot Noir mixture was left over and I tasted it on its own. Wow! The consistency was like a warm, boozy compote and would be fantastic over vanilla ice cream or gelato. So much yum!

A bit about the wine you choose: many wine connoisseurs would shudder at the thought of putting their Pinots in the freezer. That’s why I purchased lesser priced wines; it’s ok to be cheap for these recipes. Any wines that are particularly nuanced or delicate will be lost in a winesicle so a skimpy budget can be your guide. With choosing the Sauvignon Blanc, I decided to specifically look for one that was unoaked. My thought being that the oak might be too strong in a sweet mix. Again, that’s just a preference.

Below, I’ve included two other recipes that seem amazing and I’ll try another time; my kitchen was messy enough!

If you happen to try them, leave a message in the comments; I’d love to know how they worked for you!

Red Wine Fudgsicles recipe via: abeautifulmess.com

  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cup milk

In a small pot, simmer wine over lo | medium heat for 12-18 minutes, allowing it to reduce. Remove from heat and whisk in chocolate until completely melted. Stir in milk and pour into popsicle tray and freeze overnight.

Champagne and Strawberry Popsicles  recipe via:bsugarmama.com

  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 Tbsps lemon juice
  • 1 pound fresh strawberries
  • 1 cup sparkling wine, Champagne, or Cava

In a small pot, add water, sugar, and lemon juice; bring to a slight boil. Boil for 5 minutes and until sugar dissolves. Set aside and let cool. This makes your simple syrup. Cut tops off the strawberries and slice them in half. With food processor, slightly puree strawbs. Put strawberries into a bowl and combine with the simple syrup and sparkling wine. Slightly stir until well incorporated. Pour the mixture in the popsicle molds and freeze at least six hours, overnight is best.

Combine any or all of these delish recipes with great friends, some cool tunes, and a slip’n’slide, and you’ve got yourself a good time.

Cheers!

©TheWineStudent, 2015

White Wine Wednesday ~ In the Nuda

For this white wine Wednesday, I chose a ’13 Luna Nuda Pinot Grigio. It’s a crisp and bright little Italian chiller that blends a mineral undertone with citrus, and a touch of floral on the palate.

Tonight, I’m pairing it with grilled shrimp, lemongrass and ginger-garlic risotto. My thinking is that the acidity of the Pinot will nicely balance the creamy richness of the risotto.

I’m looking forward to spending an evening in the Nuda.  Who knows where it might lead?

Cheers!

©TheWineStudent, 2015

Mother’s Day Mimosa Madness (Redux)!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Now that you’ve finished the past 365 days making sure your family have everything they need, it’s time to take a few moments and celebrate…you! And in my book, there’s no better way then to pop the cork of something bubbly and fresh. This year, I wanted to make my brunch-y cocktail with something a little different. Behold ~ the Strawberry Rhubarb Mimosa

What intrigued me about this year’s model was the little bit of ginger that’s simmered in the mix. It gives the sweetness of the strawberry and rhubarb a nice piquant undertone that smolders a little before the bubbles of the Prosecco take over.

Strawberry Rhubarb Mimosa

  • 1/3 c sugar
  • 1/3c water
  • 1/2 c diced rhubarb
  • 1/2c diced strawberries
  • 2 tsp finely chopped ginger
  • 1 tsp fresh lime juice
  • Chilled Prosecco
  • Strawberries (garnish)

Combine sugar, water, rhubarb, strawberries and ginger in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer 10-15 minutes until it’s reduced down. It should be viscous but not thick like jelly (if it’s too thick, add a bit of hot water). Remove from heat and cool. Transfer mixture to a blender or food processor and add lime juice. Puree until smooth. Strain to remove any seeds.          Recipe via nutritioulicious.com.

Before serving, rinse and chill champagne flutes in the freezer to frost. Pour one tablespoon of the mixture in glass, top with Prosecco, garnish with your strawberry.

So now, Moms, sit down. Relax and savor slowly. And for the next two minutes, you are the Queen of everything.

Cheers!

©TheWineStudent, 2015