Feel Good Friday: House of Wine Cards

I see your Petit Syrah… and I raise you a Sémillon! I got these cards as a gift and they’re really cool.

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Created by Inkstone Design, you can learn about 52 red (or white) grape varietals, the wines they become, and even about foods that pair with each one.

 

Like flash cards you can play poker with, they’re a fun way to understand a little more about the grapes that end up in your glass.

 

Got any Cinsault 4’s?? Go fish!!

 

Cheers! 🍷

©TheWineStudent, 2017

I Want Candy! 

It’s too damn hot for Malbec Monday. After breaking a sweat from the minute I started out today, I wasn’t keen on drinking something that would make me ferment any more. So I opted to try a blend that’s not only new to me but it’s chilled! Even better. 

I won this 2015 Pillitteri Gerwürztraminer | Riesling at a charity golf tournament his past weekend and today, nestled there, chilling in my fridge, it looked so sweet it made my mouth water. 

Normally, I’m not a fan of really sweet wine, and I thought the addition of Riesling might tip the scales from medium dry to cloying. But this wine surprised me with a delicate hint of candied rose on the nose, and subtle flavours of orange blossom and white stone fruit (peach) on the palate. This is a light to medium body wine with very refreshing acidity. All of the flavours were nicely balanced, and it would pair nicely with slightly spicy pork and grilled strawberries. Yum!

Gerwürztraminer is a variety that typically produces beautifully perfumed whites and can range from dry, off dry and fuller bodied, high alcohol and lower acidity. In combination with Riesling’s higher acidity, this wine might be able to be aged a little longer, developing lush honey and nut aromas. 

On a scorcher like today,  it had everything I desire; setting the summer sun on fire. 😉

Cheers! 

A Noble Steed, and the Fireside Pizza 🔥

Is it the Riesling, or is it still National Pizza  Day? I guess it doesn’t matter since  I’m enjoying both either way.

My research today led me to a chart about pizza and wine pairings. One of the more intriguing was Riesling and Hawaiian pizza; the key element being img_9508pineapple. I’ve never been a fan of pineapple on pizza. Ever. But for the sake of furthering my wine pairing education…

As it so happened, we had a nice 2012  Firesteed Riesling in our collection, and chilling in our fridge (so handy!) and looking on the menu at our local PizzaFire   I found a Za that looked pretty interesting: Free range chicken, red onion, barbeque sauce, and yes, pineapple.

The wine was a lovely, light offering; tasting of tart lemon zest, green, fresh fiddlehead, with just a whisper of white pepper. It paired so nicely with the sweet of the pineapple, and cut a swath through the tang of the barbeque. It really was an unexpected treat. The lack of floral and sweetness in this case worked to enhance the savoury tang of the pizza. Nice!

Whether you observe Pizza Day or not, it’s always good to find new ways to enjoy wine with everyday dining.

Cheers!

©TheWineStudent, 2017

What I Did This Summer Part 2: Redemption, a Star Turn and a Little French Kiss 💋

Jordan Winery and Vineyard

After a busy few weeks of getting my daughter moved and relatively settled in at college, I’m back to my studies. Here’s the second half of my ‘what I did this summer’ report.

The second day of our excellent wine adventure took Hubby Doug and I to three vastly different wineries. One had a home-spun vibe, one had a very cinematic feel and the last took us back in time to a beautiful french chateau.

Alexander Valley Vineyard (AVV) ~ In 1961, Harry and Maggie Wetzel purchased the homestead of Cyrus Alexander (the valley’s namesake). In 1963, they planted their first grapes, and In 1968, with perseverance and resolve, their first Cabernet was bottled and a lifetime love of winemaking was born. Winemaker Kevin Hall along with three generations of the Wetzel family are continuing the family legacy of winemaking and farming.

The winery has a cosy tasting room, and an underground cave where we learned about how wines are barrel aged. Very cool (literally). 🙂
When we arrived at AVV, it was just after they’d opened for the day. And while it seemed a bit early to sample, in the name of research we summoned the ‘five-o’clock-somewhere’ rule and tried a couple of small samples. Our two favorite were the 2013 Redemption Zinfandel and the 2012 Cyrus. Both were beautifully nuanced, yet full-bodied.

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Francis Ford Coppola ~ Driving through the archway gave us the feel of what it must have been like to drive on to a movie lot (without the guard asking if you’re ‘on the list’). Coppola winery was one of the most unique I’ve experienced. It had a img_5614picturesque pool area with cabine where you can spend the day with your family. Most water areas at wineries are reservoirs, overflow basins or decorative ponds that they always kick me out of. Bocce courts and lazy hammocks overlooking the valley give a chill vibe that invite you to grab a glass and relax.

Inside the winery is the main tasting room and movie museum with select memorabilia from several Coppola classics including Apocalypse Now, Tucker: The Man and His Dream, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and the giant neon martini glass from One From The Heart. Our tasting experience was the Sonoma Inclusive at the main tasting bar. Our pick of the flight was the 2012 Director’s Cut Cinema blend of Cab Sauv, Zin, Petit Syrah and Syrah, and the 2012 1Mille Cab Franc.

One of the coolest wine tasting experiences that I’d love to return for is Tasting in the Dark. Small groups are led to the Coppola tasting labs, then blindfolded and led through a variety of sensory appreciation activities designed to fine tune the senses. Hoby Wedler, a UC Davis graduate, who is himself without sight, leads each group to the discovery of flavor and essence; allowing other senses to become stronger in the absence of sight. As we know when one sense is gone, others take over, and this experience would be amazing to help one begin sharpening their palate.

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Jordan Vineyard and Winery ~ our final stop of the day took us up a winding road to another world. This by appointment only winery made me think a little of Marie Antoinette’s Petit Trianon – beautiful, elegant and very regal.

When Jordan was established in 1972, the choice was deliberate to focus on creating only singular varietals, but doing them very well. Their Cab Sauv is produced from the Alexander Valley, and Chardonnay exclusively from the Russian River Valley. The philosophy being that by focussing on singular wines, a better continuity of style will be achieved, and a consistent realization of balance between fruit, acidity, tannin, and alcohol. Each vintage you open will generally have the same qualities time after time.

We chose the Library Tasting, a one hour tasting. The Chardonnay tasting was paired with an Ahi Poke with Quinoa and Heirloom Tomatoes. Usually I’m not into raw tuna but this was a lovely combination that beautifully enhanced the subtle notes of the wine.

On to the private tasting room where we sampled three older vintage Cabernet Sauvignon paired with a variety of artisan cheeses and a Jordan Estate Olive Oil.

Our pick? If you guessed Cab Sauv, grab yourself a glass of wine because you are very smart! Our vintage was the 2007~ something very special indeed.

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It was an amazing day of touring and tasting and I hope one day I’ll be lucky enough to go back.

Cheers!

©TheWineStudent, 2016

A Midsummer Knight’s Dream ~ Field Trip to Napa | Sonoma 🚗💨🍷


The winery with the dungeon was one I had to see.
On this weekend winery getaway to Napa and Sonoma, HubbyDoug and I had only two days to visit and sample. So rather than a meandering trip, we became precise and and streamlined about what we wanted to see.

We’ve enjoyed Gundlach Bundschu wines since Doug’s last trip to see them a few years ago so they were a top choice.  But friends told us about Castello Di Amorosa, a winery fashioned after a thirteenth century Italian castle, complete with dungeon … and torture chamber. Um… more about that in a bit.

Peace and quiet

There are times when visiting a winery is like visiting an old friend. The feeling of ease and relaxation wraps around you like a warm hug. At Gundlah Bundschu, we made our way to the bottle bar to grab a glass and then walk the vineyard. I typically enjoy so many of their reds but because of the heat, I chose a flavorful, chilled and beautifully floral Gerwürtztraminer, while Doug had his favorite, Pinot Noir.

The relaxed vibe of the staff invites you to take your glass and explore pretty much anywhere on the property. There were no limits, and no restrictions except perhaps your footwear, and how long you needed until you wanted to refill your glass.

We got our shoes dusty as we made our way through the vineyards, stopping to taste a couple of Pinot Noir grapes off the vine. There was nothing like it. The flavor was so bright and sweet; almost like a sunburst on the tongue.

Small enclosures at various points along the walk were available with coolers of water and comfortable seating. It was unbelievable how quiet it could be out in the vineyards with nothing but the sun, a light breeze blowing, breathtaking scenery and your wine to savor. We felt any tension melting away as we sipped and walked.
It was how I imagine heaven might be.

While we could’ve stayed all day, we wanted to get to the next destination before nightfall, those winding roads can get pretty tricky.

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Dungeons and dragons
Driving on approximately forty minutes, we arrived at the castle. A labor of love for Dario Sattui and 20+ years from concept to completion (15 years of construction), Castello Di Amorosa is an authentic replica of a 13th century Medieval Tuscan-style castle. Fashioned with hand squared stone, tile and ancient brickwork brought over from Europe, it features spectacular upper and lower courtyards, 5 defensive towers with battlements, a chapel, great hall, royal apartment, dungeon and torture chamber (no castle was complete without them), as well as a fully functioning winery. This architectural marvel is 136,000 sq. ft. including castle and winery. There are 8 levels — 4 levels above and 4 underground. It is truly a feast for the eyes.

We made our way through the drawbridge to travel back in time to a world where romance swirled, women swooned and if you stepped out of line, it was the rack (or the iron maiden). I made sure HubbyDoug was on his best behavior. The chill from the deepest cellar crept up my spine with a slither and it made it difficult to remember the heat from the sun just beyond our reach. It kind of freaked me out when we walked through the labyrinth before getting to our final destination: the tasting room. I bet Halloween here is a scream!

Taking in the opulence and authenticity of detail was awesome and then to see the modern winemaking equipment was a real juxtaposition. And it wasn’t lost on us that we were taken to our wine tasting right after visiting the dungeon and torture chamber. Hmmmmm…. Needless to say, many of us bought several bottles. My pick: the 2015 Dolcino Gerwürztraminer a nice, slightly sweet chiller.

In the next post: Day 2 of our excellent wine adventure at Alexander Valley Vineyards, Francis Ford Coppola Winery, and Jordan.
Cheers!

©TheWineStudent, 2016

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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