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

Birthdays, Blessings and a Glass of Biltmore

Lately, I’ve been writing about white wines on Wednesday but I wanted to push it back for a very special occasion. It’s my girl’s birthday. What makes it doubly special is that her day is also my late father’s birthday. I still celebrate with a toast to him. My sister used to make the joke that while she and our other siblings got him traditional birthday gifts, I gave him a grandchild. On that one particular April 16th, I got marks for creativity, and timing (I wasn’t expecting her debut until the 18th). And her birth had no other inducement than a warm bath and watching the movie Jerry Maguire. I wonder how many other births have been brought on by hearing Tom Cruise yell, “show me the money!”?

To toast the occasion, I wanted to find something that would pair a simple but spicy dish. Riesling came to mind. Instead of finding the traditional Alsace version, I wanted to find an offering that was closer to home. The 2013 Biltmore Riesling fit the bill. Cultivated on the Biltmore Estate in Asheville North Carolina, the combination of mineral rich, yet tough soil and cooler climates create the perfect environment for producing some fine, complex Riesling.

Qualities of Riesling ~

  • thrives in cool climates and poor soil ~ cooler climates increase its acidity which gives it the bright complex quality.
  • aromatic and floral. stone fruit vibe : apple, apricot, peach, pear. clean in taste, clear in the glass, complex aromas in more mature vintages including a gasoline (yes).
  • the compact bunches on the vine make it prone to noble rot (botrytis cinerea) which is actually a good thing.

Noble Rot serves two distinct purposes to wine:

  • It intensifies a wine’s sweetness while adding intensity and complexity. It does this by causing grapes to dehydrate while at the same time keeping sugar levels constant. Grapes affected by Noble Rot are more syrupy, sweeter and some may have a higher alcohol content.
  • It adds flavor ~ noble rot grapes have have higher levels of phenylacetaldehyde, an aromatic compound that can be described like honey, rose, or beeswax.

If you can say ‘phenylacetaldehyde quickly three times, you get to take a sip!

On the scale of dry to sweet, this Riesling tended to be more on the sweet-ish but with a distinctive spice finish. It was full-bodied with a honey-like, viscous mouthfeel. Subtle floral notes of stone fruit (apricot) were prominent on the nose. Paired with grilled chicken tacos, it brought out a nice spiced pear vibe that was most satisfying.

One of the things about enjoying a glass of wine is that it allows you the chance to sit back and reflect on times shared with those you love. It helps to slow the world down to savor the moment because, as I’ve found over the past few years, those moments can be fleeting. It’s hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that my daughter is growing up so quickly; and that my dad has been gone for almost five years. And while I miss him every day, I feel very blessed that he and his granddaughter will always share this day. There’s a beautiful continuity in that, and it fuels the belief that some blessings were meant to be.

Cheers!

©TheWineStudent. 2015

Pun for Play

If you know my rule for puns, start sipping. If you don’t take a sip anyway. Yes, they are cat toysAnd, yes, I thought they were cute in a punny wine-y sort of way.

I had my above picture all set to shoot, and then the kittehs caught the scent. I snapped my pic just as they toppled everything and started batting and rolling around with the plush ‘wine bottles’.

I can tell you that when I find a vintage I really love, I can be enthusiastic but not to that extreme. At least not that I can recall…

Cheers!

©TheWineStudent, 2015

Of ‘Cards’ and Men

“Power is the old stone building that stands for centuries.” – Frank Underwood –House of Cards

House of Cards Season 3 has been streaming all over the world today, and like a good kid who is waiting to open gifts on Christmas morning, I am being patient. And waiting… to bingewatch. To pass the time creatively,  I thought about what type of red wine might personify the two main characters, Francis and Claire Underwood.

Zinfandel (Frank Underwood) ~ Despite having some deep, dark secrets, this American beauty has a deceptively light-bodied feel. It also sounds like ‘sin’ so there’s that. Famous for its intense fruit flavors like deep raspberry, rich mocha and spicy strawberry, Zin is typically higher in alcohol than most light-bodied reds. Which is a good thing when you’re dealing with drama of Shakespearean proportions.  You just know that choosing this red, you’ll be getting into the kind of trouble that reaches the highest levels. I wonder how it pairs with ribs?

Lambrusco (Claire) ~ On the surface this is a cool, lightly effervescent wine. Yet the more you get to know it, the more the delicate texture and flinty flavors of strawberry and blueberry begin to give way to just a hint of underlying bitterness. Which is a delicious and dangerous combination. Sometimes it’s good to enjoy the bitter and the sweet.

If you’re like me, you’ll be parked on a couch, bearing witness to an epic tale of deception, woe and political machinations. Make sure you pair it with the appropriate beverage. And watch your back!

Cheers!

Cover image via Netflix, and my laptop

©TheWineStudent, 2015

White Wine Wednesday: Chablis!

When I used to think of Chablis, I always had the vision of it being like Chardonnay’s little sister; always just too young to sit at the grown-ups’ table. And when I shopped for a white wine, I’d pretty much bypass it for some other (any other) alternative.  That was very short-sighted.

Produced in the Northern district of Burgundy, Chablis is comprised of Chardonnay. Cool regional climate produces a, dry,  higher acid, less fruity wine than its big sister. Chablis is generally less oakey, due to less time maturing in the barrel.

Chablis has three quality levels:

  • Petit Chablis ~ Produced on the outskirts of Chablis, varies in quality, is matured in stainless steel tanks and should be enjoyed young. It is the least expensive Chablis. Pair with cheese, cooked shrimp.
  • Chablis Premier Cru ~ Cultivated on the best site vineyards, Premier Cru comprises 1/4 of the total Chablis production. Pairing suggestion: unbaked: grilled or poached fish with buttery | creamy sauces. Naked: buttery seafood, crab, roast chicken. The acidity of the wine will help cut into the butter.
  • Chablis Grand Cru ~ Grown on west-facing hill directly above the village of Chablis, which allow maximum heat accumulation to grow and ripen the grapes. Both Premier Cru and Grand Cru Chablis spend some time maturing in oak barrels, but less time, generally, than traditional Chardonnay. Premier and Grand Cru chablis can be safely cellared for 10 years or longer. Pairing suggestion: roast veal, steamed or grilled lobster, heavy rind cheeses.

The flavors tend to be reminiscent of wet stones, stone fruit with a bit of citrus. It is pale yellow (almost green) in color, with earthy, savory rather than sweet aromas. Since the flavors are more subtle, it’s really important to serve it lightly chilled: 10-13C (50-55F).

So go ahead, invite the little one to dine with the grown-ups. You’ll find it to be a subtle and very interesting dinner companion.

Cheers!

©TheWineStudent, 2015