Monday, October 31, 2011

Winey Tasting Notes: Working Girl White

Having been a working girl myself since I came of babysitting age, I was thrilled to spy a bottle of Working Girl White (Columbia Valley, Washington State, 60% 2008 Chardonnay, 40% 2008 Riesling, 12.5% alcohol) on the shelf of my favorite wine shop. The working gal on the label was so very chic...down to her cute little hat, which I must admit is an accessory I have never been able to figure out.
So it was with great excitement that I unscrewed the bottle (yup - she rocks a handy dandy screw top - the blessing of busy women everywhere) and took a sniff. Mmmm...some apple, a little something summery sharp...smelled promising.

I poured some into my glass and took another sniff. And checked to make sure I hadn't dropped my nose in the rice pot on the stove. (I was once again engaging in my favorite pastime of cooking and sipping.) My hand confirmed that my nose was still on my face, so I took another sniff, this time with said schnoz a bit deeper into the glass. Maybe a little something...but I had to sniff pretty hard and to be painfully honest, loudly, which got me a withering look from the teenager doing her homework at the table.
So in order to stop making noise, I took a taste. Um. I took another one. Honestly, there was so little flavor to the wine that I took an even bigger sip and rolled it around my mouth and ... nothing. Huh? And the finish? Hah! You can't have a finish if you don't have a start, that's all I've got to say.

I then resorted to one of my white wine tricks of the trade...and set the bottle in the deep chill thinking that a nice blast of cold would bring out the flavors. Nope - all that nice blast of cold did was make the bottle drip all over my counter.

I don't know, maybe the working girl worked a little too late the night before..maybe she was thinking of leaving her job...maybe she was just phoning it in. But it was painfully obvious that this girl was not going to be invited into my company (get it -- my "company", "working"?) again any time soon. She really needs to beef up her resume. My only consolation was that I bought this wine on special. It set me back about $7, which for THIS working girl, was the only bright spot of this winey little experience.
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Friday, October 28, 2011

Lesson Learned..from my doggie

Well, I will NEVER leave a glass of merlot hanging around .... look what happened to the coffee

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Winey Tasting Notes: Mirassou Pinot Noir (comfort wine)

Please do not misunderstand the title of this little blob (someone accidentally referred to my "blob" in a typo recently and I kind of liked it). I do not normally turn to wine for comfort. Well, not comfort, exactly...but I'm getting away from my train of thought here. What I mean here is that every time I see a bottle of Mirassou Pinot Noir, I get a feeling of homey, family comfort.

The back story on this one (no, it does not involve downing an entire bottle of wine right before typing - there really is a very good reason I feel this way, so stop judging and read on): My darling son is a sophomore in college. Not just any college, mind you. Nope. The boy bleeds red, white and blue and it was always his dream to attend The United States Military Academy at West Point. And, after a million application and nomination forms, a billion letters of rec and various medical and fitness tests, that is just what he did. So when I say he is a sophomore in college, that's not the whole story: my son is a Yearling (or Yuk) at West Point. His dorm is a barracks. His campus is a post. He wears uniforms to class and has to get a pass to come home. Every summer he is away at different military training assignments. Proud mommy? You bet your Bald Eagle I am.

So back to the wine. As a family, we are allowed one Parents' Weekend at West Point. (Just one for the 4 years.) This weekend occurred last March. We were treated to the full West Point experience: Cadet Parades (in full Nutcracker uniform - that is not the official name for the uniform by the way and no, my son does not really appreciate it when I refer to it as that...), tours of  buildings that we normally aren't allowed in, tours of the barracks that we are not allowed in (our one and only view of his room - and my one and only proof  that he does, indeed, make his bed), a formal military banquet and dance afterwards and the chance to meet his sponsor family.

Sponsors are West Point professors (who are military themselves) who live on post. Each year, these wonderful families agree to "sponsor" a number of incoming Cadets. The New Cadets (that's what they're called during their first summer at West Point) head to their sponsors' homes on the one Sunday they have off during their 7 weeks of basic training. Cadets are invited for weekend dinners and Sunday NFL viewing..basically, sponsors are a kind of surrogate family (and a house away from the barracks) to the Cadets. My son's family invited us over for some drinks and appetizers the first night of Parents' Weekend.

We arrived at their home on a pretty side street in the residential area of West Point.  Out came the Colonel, his wife, their kids, their kids' friends, and the dog. The perfect family welcome! And, you guessed it: his wife offered me a glass of Mirassou Pinot Noir. (2009, California.) I loved it! An almost brown, rusty red color. A bouquet of cherry and vanilla (very welcome on a chilly March evening) Taste of cherry with a smooth, oakey finish. It just rolled around my mouth feeling very bright and lingering oh so nicely! I told my hostess how much I liked it and she laughed because it was such an "inexpensive" wine. (More fodder for my "inexpensive wine does not equal cheap wine" lecture.) Really, they were the nicest people and my son has talked about them often since we met them.

So the comfort is this: every time I sip Mirassou Pinot Noir (and I have many times since that night - this could easily become a go-to favorite wine for me), I am reminded of a brightly lit  home full of a some great people and one big dog who are giving my son a non-military bit of life in the midst of his four very military years in college. It gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling...and that is NOT just the wine talking! Cheers! And BEAT NAVY!

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Winey Tasting Notes: Lulu B. Malbec

I learned about Lulu B. before I ever found her wines. Let’s just put it right out there: adorable label! Lulu looks like the kind of pal I’d love to sit and sip with at a Paris bistro. But she’s more than just a pretty label. If you check her FB or Twitter, you’ll find out that she has a heart as well. Hence the references to causes such as Susan B. Komen and Dress for Success.  The only thing lacking in my friendship with Lulu was Lulu herself – I couldn’t find her on the shelves of NE Ohio, even after much searching.

So imagine my delight when I was visiting my favorite wine department..and there on the tasting counter was Lulu B. Malbec! The unflappable wine guru behind the counter did not laugh, run away or call the police as I jumped up and down with glee and babbled on about how I follow Lulu on Twitter and had been dying to meet up with her. Nope, he just very calmly stated that the rep had recommended her and handed me a bottle. Oh joy! ($7.99 price tag only added to that joy!)

Lulu’s Malbec is from Chile and is 13% alcohol. It also has a screw top, which, to any time-starved, harried mom who cannot face cooking dinner without a glass of wine is simply a godsend. (Yes, yes, I know how "veddy" civilized as it is to go through the process of uncorking and all, but when momma needs wine, the screw top is tops.) 
My first meeting with her actually took place on a Friday night. Kitchen. Stove. You get the idea. the wine is a very pretty jewel colored red. It took a big sniff to find the bouquet, but I was able to get a whiff of spice. The spice showed up again when I sipped, bursting through my mouth, spreading around and then pretty much disappearing. Hmm….this immediately called for another sip. Got a round hint of cherry this time.
As much of a superwoman as I am, two glasses of Lulu was my limit that evening. (I was operating kitchen equipment after all.) But….and here comes the "aha moment": the next day (an extremely dreary Saturday, which we seem to be specializing in around here recently), I met up with Lulu again. Wow – what a difference!  Age (okay, an overnight) and oxygen had been very, very good to her. A much richer flavor in the finish….nice and smooth and the spices and cherry were so much more alive!
Lulu B. Malbec is a repeat buy. Just give her lots of air (use the aerator if you have one)!

I found that Lulu B. Malbec pairs extremely well with a long hot bath full of Philosophy’s Vanilla Birthday Cake Bubble Bath (much better than she does with a kitchen full of pots and pans). Cheers!

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Winey Truth

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Dear Lord: Couldn't resist this one!!

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Winey Tasting Notes: Simply Naked and Homecoming 2011

     I decided that today was the day to write my review of these wines....and here's why (stay with me, okay?):

     Homecoming was 10 days ago and I am STILL, after 3 different tries, vacuuming up the sparkles from my darling 15 year old daughter's homecoming dress. This in itself would not normally inspire me to vent blog, but prior to the actual wearing of this dress, I went through what can only be described as retail hell in getting her to find it. Two malls, one aborted trip to a specialty store, and countless web sightings of "my dream dress, mom" later...this one arrived via UPS from a very cool site that caters to the screaming teens of homecoming season. I will spare you the shoe details. (You're welcome.) But the exhaustive search and subsequent sparkle droppings has led me to this conclusion: If she had simply gone naked to homecoming, my life and my credit card return history, would have been so much simpler.

     Hence the following notes on Simply Naked wines. A label which I recently came across, and now I know why.

      Simply Naked follows the premise that aging wine in oak barrels hides the true nature of the grapes. Without using oak to enhance the flavor, you  must start out with the best grapes and make the best wine. Made sense to me (i.e.: no SPARKLES were involved in the making of this wine.)

      First up was the Cabernet Sauvignon, 2009, Acampo, California.  A bright red color, perfectly matched to said homecoming season. At first sniff, I got cherries and autumn leaves.  I used my
aerator (Vinturi) and began my tasting. Yup, there were those dark cherries, along with a little spice. The wine had a nice little bite to it, but not one that dries you out, like some oaked reds can do (friendly tannins here). A nice medium body. I did not miss the oak one little bit.
     This first bottle sent me back for my second Simply Naked try: this time a 2010 Chardonnay.
The color was a lovely pale gold (the aforementioned sparkles were silver, so I was fine with this).  My nose detected citrus...with a little pear in there as well. Tasted of lemons and tangy citrus...a nice mellow finish that didn't run away too fast. This was a lighter wine, but not a thin one - it had a nice body to it. Again, no missing the oak.
     (Simply Naked offers a Merlot and a Pinot Grigio as well, but I have yet to spot these on a nearby shelf.)
     Would I suggest getting naked again? Given that my daughter has 2 more homecomings before she graduates, I sure would. I would also recommend buying the wines.
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Saturday, October 15, 2011

Winey Tasting Notes: 'Tis the Season: Dracula Zinfandel

As the temperatures turn cooler, the wind picks up, the leaves begin to fall...what else would your mind turn to but: vampires? Did I mention the influence of my 15 year old daughter who has moved from Twilight (a member of both Team Edward and Team Jacob) to Vampire Diaries to heaven knows what next? It's a vampire poster explosion on the walls of her room. I suppose it was inevitable that a bottle of Drac's vino would fall into my possession this autumn.

Dracula Zinfandel is produced by, who else, Vampire Vineyards in Paso Robles, circa 2006 (oh good heavens I hope that means they bottled it then instead of, um, procuring it by other means). 13% alcohol and I'm not asking what else.

Dracula wasn't messing around with this one. This is a full bodied, rich wine that is not for the faint of fang. The bouquet delivers pepper right away, and your first taste is of the pepper too. The oakey tannins linger afterwards and leave quite the pucker in your mouth. It begs to be paired with some huge, dramatic meal involving lots of red meat. It also begs the question: is that coffin he sleeps in made entirely of oak?

Buy it again? Well....I don't really want to anger the vampires, but I'll have to give this one a pass. I like my oaky-ness a little less up front, my tannins a little less, I'm scared of vampires.

Side note:
I happened to try this wine with 4 other people. One of them was a wine lover who kept repeating the word "pepper" and had an odd look on her face the whole time. The other was a non-red wine drinker (hah!) who gave up after a few sips. One was a near non drinker who we are still making fun of. The fourth was a very nice lady who likes beer and still can't figure it out. So as you can see, I pretty much had to go it alone on this one.
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47 Winey Words on Ohio Wines

In honor of DrinkLocalWine's 4th annual Regional Wine Week :

From Lake Erie waters, through a crooked Cuyahoga, into the vineyards, Ohio’s North Coast wines have that heartland moxie that makes whites sweeter, reds fuller. There’re even icy grapes that aren’t scared of lake effect snow (helps many Ohioans through those winters)! Ohio wines for all America!

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Friday, October 7, 2011

Winey Travels Through France

First of all, I LOVE THAT COUNTRY. It's cheaper to get a carafe of wine that it is to get a coke!!! So civilized.

Since I really love red wine, I concentrated on that for the first part of the trip...they just seemed to go more with what we were eating in Paris....(in Normandy, the drink of choice is Calvados, an apple brandy famous in that region - they love their apples in Normandy - so for dinner one night we had a pitcher of their "cider" - it's like a fizzy hard cider. Very good, not high alcohol content, like the Calvados.)

Here are my findings (I'd do anything for my research). I did not write down vineyards and brands and years and such cause quite honestly, there are a TON of them...and sometimes I didn't get the info...their "house" wines are sometimes the ones we pay $25 a bottle for here.

But if you go here is the guide according to this wine-y mom:

Chinon- the lightest of the reds that I tried....not like a Shiraz - lighter - I liked it.

Brouilly - next up on the "lightest" (not sweetest, by lightest I mean full bodied flavor). This was probably my favorite of them all - great taste, not heavy on the oak or woody flavors - very good fruit with some peppery bite afterwards.

Cotes du Rhone - we have this varietal over here...I found that CDR can vary big time... there are thousands of them...some I liked, some I did not.....once I had tried a few though, I stopped trying them cause you just never knew....

Sancerre - full bodied, a bit stronger than Cotes du Rhone - I only tried this once and found it to be--- fizzy, no aftertaste, odd??? Plus, they served it chilled and I'm just not used to a chilled red wine...

Sancerre is also a white wine, which was very good and very expensive...think a Kendall Jackson chardonnay - thus I didn't try it often. Ok, once. As a splurge.

Bordeaux - the grandaddy of them all - can only come from the Bordeaux region... some can have a very woodsy flavor, but you can always taste something else in there and that is what makes it SO good. I tried a lot of these.....and again, some of them were served chilled....we don't do that with reds I was intrigued. I asked about the chilling and was told that in the old days, cellars and homes were colder, so room temp was actually in the 50' you can go ahead and chill your red for 45 minutes or so....especially if it's a light one, like the Chinon. I had heard that before...but it seemed so much more official coming from a waiter in Paris, you know?

Did I bring any home? Well, just two little bottles...since you can't carry wine on board planes anymore, you have to pack it (or ship it, but then we'd have had to sell one of the children on the streets of Paris to afford that and well...we decided not to). Packing wine is very hard, so I just drank and sipped as I went and took notes. I talked to a friend who had been in London at the same time and he did the same thing - just bought it to drink there cause getting it back home was WAY too tricky.

The Normandy Calvados is sold in teeny I did get some of them safely back - haven't tried them yet...but will report when I do!!! I bought the Calvados, Liquer de Pomme (apple liqueur) and Pommeau de Normandie (light brandy is the best way to describe this one - like apple cider with a shot of apple brandy....).Like I said, I'll let you know.

Hope you learned something - and if anyone has anything to add about my very basic French wine primer, please do so!!! Knowledge is power - and it also makes for a good glass of wine!! Pin It