Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Winey Tasting Notes: I Made Friends With the Discontinued Shelf for "Open That Bottle Night"

As if I needed someone to tell me to open a bottle. But the idea is a good one. Because at one time or another, we've all gotten a bottle of wine and decided to save it for a special occasion. It could be that you got it on vacation and wanted to revisit the memory at just the right time. Maybe it was a gift from a good friend. Maybe it was more than you spend on a bottle but just couldn't resist. But a bunch of wine folks have recently realized that there are a LOT of such bottles out there. And while some wine is made to be aged years and years, the majority of wines are not. So they gave people "permission" to open those bottles and designated the last Saturday in February as "Open That Bottle Night".

It wasn't hard for me to choose the bottle I'd open. It was a bottle of 2008 Moon Mountain Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (14.5%, organic, Sonoma Valley, CA, ~$32). It is a pricier wine than I usually buy, but I didn't pay $32 for the bottle. It was on "special" for only $10.99. Why? Well, it seems that Moon Mountain Vineyards doesn't exist anymore. They were sold a while back and the new owners are going to revamp the entire vineyard (which has been around for quite some time, but with lots of different owners). So no more Moon Mountain wines, hence the sale price.

So, I can't really tell you to go out and buy this wine, but I can tell you that it is totally worth your winey little while to get to know your wine store folks. I wouldn't have tried this had not my wine guy told me about a great Cabernet Sauvignon that had just been put on the discontinued shelf. It's little moments like finding a great wine at a great price that make being winey so much fun!

I knew no matter what I thought of the wine, I'd mostly likely be hard pressed to find it again. But I do love my wine guy! So home with me it came. Moon Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon is 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Cabernet Franc, 2% Malbec, 2% Merlot, and 2% Petit Verdot. (Anyone else thinking the word "mutt" here?) According to the label, it has an "elegant tannin structure, complex layers of wild blackberry, cassis...a hint of espresso, spice and sage".  Well, I sure got a lot of blackberry upon sniffing this wine. And I like blackberries, so that's a good thing! Also a little coffee and a bit of oak. the taste was a sort of a blackberry coffee - heavier on the blackberry, and maybe that cassis was giving it the "tang". The finish was long and oaky - but in a warm oak way. The tannins were very well behaved - not sharp and biting (OK, it does sound like I'm talking about a dog now, doesn't it?). But remember, I love doggies. And anyway, mutt and biting references aside, this was a nice Cabernet Sauvignon. It just won't be available again.

So, as I said above, our takeaway lesson today is to explore your wine store! Talk to the folks who work there...they could lead you to a nice find on their obscure shelves...and you too just might have something fun to write about next year on "Open That Bottle Night"!


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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Winey Tasting Notes: My Dinner With Gregory Graham Wines

Don't you just love the idea of a "wine dinner"? Pairing a different wine with each course, witty conversation, tasting insights? Ahhh...yes.

But I have to admit that sometimes I come away from pairing dinners with what can only be described as a food induced coma. Seriously, 5 courses? I am usually happy to get one (or 2 if you count the salad as a separate course - I usually just call it the "vegetable") course on the table and eaten by all of us at the same time. So 5 different courses, each accompanied by a wine, can be a little daunting.

Blue Canyon Restaurant
Well, last night I went to a wine dinner and lo and behold, did not come away with a coma. (It was a good thing too, cause I had invited my mother in law and was in charge of getting her home safely.) The event was held at The Blue Canyon Restaurant in Twinsburg, Ohio, which also happens to be one of my favorite restaurants. Hubby and I celebrated our 20th anniversary there and to sit on the patio on a summer night is truly delightful. They really have got the idea of a wine dinner/tasting down pat - just enough food to enhance the wine, but not enough to have you nodding off onto your neighbor's shoulder. Or worse, into the food, which would just be messy. Extra kudos go out to chef Danny Jenks, who dared to plan a menu on Ash Wednesday! How do you pair big and bold reds without meat? He promised us we wouldn't miss it - Mom and I didn't.

Gregory Graham Winery
The featured winery was Gregory Graham Wines, a small winery in Lake County, California (about 45 minutes north of Napa). One of the pluses of being a small, hand crafted type of winery is that you get that personal touch - we did last night, as Greg's daughter, Lisa, joined us for the tasting, complete with her Ipad and pics of the winery. (Full disclosure, during the course of the evening, she and I discovered that we are members of the same sorority, which brought on a big hug and elicited some teasing from other tasters. And no, I did NOT ask for the family discount.)

First up, a 2009 Viognier (14.5%) paired with butternut squash/ginger soup. The wine was just beautiful. A light gold color, a full body and flavors that just soared with the ginger in the soup. (Winey Mom is on a ginger kick lately - gotta have my ginger tea in the morning.) The aroma was peachy and flowery - the flowery smell you get in  your garden when it's in full bloom. The taste was peach and warm oak. It was lively and bouncy in my mouth and had a wonderful clean finish to it. A winner.

Then came a 2010 Chardonnay paired with lobster ravioli and spaetzle. (Chef Danny had me at "lobster".) And the reason that all those tasty carbs didn't start me on my coma journey was that it was one ravioli over a small serving of the spaetzle. Whew! The wine itself was full bodied and gave off aromas of oak, herbs and I swear this one is true: bacon. I kept trying and trying, but that was definitely what I was sniffing. The taste was of oak and bacon and some smooth caramel overtones. I liked it with the ravioli, but I can't get past that bacony tang.

Next was a 2006 Syrah (14.5%) paired with a couscous, mac and cheese mixture in half a baked potato. It was held together by a wonderful cream sauce that Chef Danny admitted had a secret ingredient in it (hint: it starts with "V" and ends with "elveeta"!). Yes, we were surprised, but it was a good surprise. A very good one. The Syrah was wonderful! You could smell the blueberry in it right away. There were also some dried herbs in the aroma that kept it from being too sweet. The taste was one of my favorites: smooth with a bite! The oak was mellowed with the overtones of the ripe blueberries, cherries and other pie fruit. I don't know anyone who didn't like it. (Mom and I each went home with a bottle.)

On to the 2008 Cinder Cone Reserve (14.6%) - a blend of Syrah, Cabernet, Grenache and a bit of Malbec. It was served with a yellow beet, watercress and portobello mushroom salad. The aroma was pepper and dark fruits. It tasted of pepper and oak and had a long, tannic finish. If you don't like your pucker at the end of a big old red, pass on this one. With food, though, it holds its own and probably should be sipped with food and not by itself.

Last was the 2008 Zinfandel (14.8%, also 5% Petite Sirah) which was served with a white pepper raspberry mousse tart. (I came THIS CLOSE to stealing my mother in law's tart, coma be damned, but resisted temptation. It was Ash Wednesday, after all.) When I heard "Zinfandel" my first thought was, uh oh. I don't normally get along well with big Zins. But Lisa described it as a "fireplace wine", and that kind of got my hopes up - any wine that screams to be sipped by a fireplace can't be all tannins, can it? And it wasn't! The aroma was of mild pepper and some orange marmalade. It tasted of very ripe berries and some warm wood and felt very full and rich in my mouth. The tasting sheet used the words "Port-like quality", which is the perfect way to describe it. Again, mom and I each went home with a bottle. I plan on using the fireplace all weekend long.

Great company (we sat with very fun, wine loving family), amazing food in small portions and 5 pours of some very expressive wines. A good time was had by all, comas were not had by anybody!


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Monday, February 20, 2012

Winey Tasting Notes: Chocolate Shop Chocolate Red Wine and the Chat Party

After months of hearing about it and avoiding it because my winey mind couldn't figure out what it thought about the whole idea.....I have finally sipped my first chocolate wine. This one comes from The Chocolate Shop (Red Wine, 12.5%, ~$15). Simply by their name, you know that they know their chocolate. Seems that they also know their wine, and know how to put the two together. To me, that would make a very admirable life goal for anyone on this earth. And they did it.

I got to sip this wine courtesy of Thirsty Girl, an on-line community of thoroughly entertaining women. They love their wine, their food, and their fun. And from time to time they have a Twitter chat party that is guaranteed to make you laugh out loud. This past week, they hosted a party that was sponsored by The Chocolate Shop and asked me if I'd like some samples to tweet about. ARE YOU KIDDING? I said yes. About a thousand times...ahem.

Now, loving wine and chocolate as I do, I was surprisingly sceptical about putting them together in the same bottle. (I love Diet Coke and fried rice...but you don't see me trying to pair them in a bottle, now do you?) I even mentioned to a friend the morning of the tasting that I fully expected to have to put it in coffee in order to drink it. I really thought it was going to be thick and creamy. (I was not the only one. Here's a quote from another Tweeter that night: Pleasantly surprised it isn't creamy.) 

So on to the wine itself. It's a beautiful dark red color - very regal, which matches perfectly with the beautiful bottle and label design. (I usually will comment on a label only if it's funny or naughty, but this was one sharp looking bottle!) The aroma was chocolate covered cherries. I love chocolate covered cherries. You know that moment when you open a box of them and that first whiff hits you - there it was in my glass!  Wow.

 On to my first taste. It was just like drinking those chocolate covered cherries. The wine was smooth and the flavors perfectly balanced - not too much wine, not to much chocolate. They got them together in such a way that they really played off one another. And - yippee - no thick, creamy wine here. It was supple and luxurious and silky in my mouth - definitely not cloyingly sweet or sticky. I kept on sipping. It was amazing. I was thrilled - and I wasn't the only one. Another quote from a chatter: the wine is MUCH better than I could have imagined. Yup, it was.

Chocolate Shop won't fess up to exactly what wine goes into their beautiful bottles (can you say "proprietary"?), but they will tell you it's a blend of premium reds. The chocolate? It's their own secret recipe AND you can buy the chocolate in its own separate box. Talk about overachieving. (By the way, the chocolate is added to the wine before they bottle it and then aged in stainless steel.)

Chloe :)
I had a little companion with me the night of the party...She made a few friends during the chat, so I thought you'd like to see her as well. Please note that as she is underage (in people years, anyway), the bottle next to her is NOT opened. And when it is opened, I'M NOT SHARING.


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Must-do legal note, in case you missed it above: I was sent this wine for sampling and review purposes. Pin It

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Winey Tasting Notes: There Were Leftovers?! Estancia Cabernet Sauvignon, Nugan Estate Chardonnay, Willamette Valley Vineyards Pinot Gris

It's kind of a big joke among wine lovers that the term "leftover wine" is an oxymoron. But it happens. If you are like me and are the only wine drinker in the house. (Hubby sips every once in a while, but then again, he doesn't write a wine blog, does he?) Or you could have a situation like we had the other night: a huge party.

It was actually a dinner party - or part of one, anyway. Every year, our neighborhood association hosts a progressive dinner party. You start at one house for appetizers and drinks. Head to another for dinner. And everyone winds up together at yet another house for dessert. We were the dessert house this year, which is really a great house to be. People show up at your door with some sinful desserts...and all the wine and beer also winds up at your house. Since dinner is over, this becomes more of a traditional party, so there is much eating and drinking. Seriously, you should see our recycle bin. I am almost embarrassed to put it out, but then I figure that anyone walking by will remember that we were the dessert house and the garbage collectors will just be very impressed. So it will go to the curb on its designated day. Overflowing.

The other good thing about the dinner is that the coordinator picks out a variety of wines. After all, you have to cater to 30+ tastes. It's kind of fun to start with one type at appetizers, choose a different one for dinner and yet another with the sweet stuff. And as the very last house of the night, the open bottles stay with you (or, at least the bottles you can't pawn off on others to take home.)

This year, we wound up with three different wines after the dinner. So being the good wine blogger that I am, I gave each of them a sip and am going to tell you about them right now!

Nugan Estate, Vision Chardonnay, (2009, 13.5%, Australia, around $10) is such a pretty color! Bright yellow-gold with a bouquet of peaches and pears. It tasted of peaches and cinnamon and a bit of vanilla (or something sweetly mellow...I came up with vanilla). It was very silky in my mouth - but not "thick" like some oak aged Chardonnays can be (only part of this wine stayed in oak for a long time, and then was mixed with wine that had fermented in both stainless steel and oak - that's probably why). The finish was crisp and tangy with almost a Thanksgiving spice to it. By that I mean the spices that you associate with the smells of Thanksgiving kitchens: nutmeg? more cinnamon? Either way, it was very nice. 

Next up on our leftover list was some Willamette Valley Vineyards Pinot Gris (2009, Oregon, 12.5%, around $16). In addition to the stainless steel aged Pinot Gris, a little Pinot Blanc and a bit of oak aged Pinot Gris were added to it. These little additions really added to the wine - great depth in this one! It was a very light gold color, with a bouquet of pear and green apple and some newly mown grass. It tasted of tart apples with a little spice in them - which I think came from the oak aged wine they added (OK, at first I was confused by the oakey spice, and then I did my homework and found out about the addition of the oak aged wine and it all made sense). It had a nice light texture in  my mouth and a lively finish that kind of bounced all over. This is the perfect wine for summer sipping! And it went well with the desserts too!

Last of my leftovers was Estancia Cabernet Sauvignon (2007, 13.5%, California, about $14). I had this with the amazing beef tenderloin dinner that our hostess served - heaven!!! It has a garnet red color and a bouquet of very ripe cherries (almost like a cherry wood would smell, if that makes any sense) with a little bit of pepper. It tasted of toasted, jammy fruits and had a long silk with a little bite finish. The tannins were there, but they were warmer and toastier. I loved this wine!

What a fun night it was! Hubby and I got to catch up with neighbors we don't get to see that often (kids of different ages and nasty winters to blame), eat some wonderful food and taste some great wines.  All in all, a very successful progressive dinner, don't you think?


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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Winey Tasting Notes – Sniffing Out A 2008 Genesis Merlot

I will admit to being lured in once again to a special price on a bottle of wine. This time it was a sleek looking bottle of Merlot, on sale for a wallet friendly $7.99.  Hmm….under $10, usually about $18? I did need a new wine to sip on and it was the type of day just made for a Merlot – cold and blustery and I did have a roast in mind for dinner. So home it came with me.

Genesis Merlot (2008, 14.2%, Columbia Valley) is actually a division of Hogue winery, a leading wine name out in Washington State. I figured with a name like “Genesis” it would be a big, epic wine. After all, there were a LOT of epic things going on in the Book of Genesis (creation of the world, Adam and Eve, Sarah giving birth at 90 – how in the heck did she do that anyway? It was hard enough at 28.) So it was with eager anticipation that I opened the bottle, took a quick sniff, and got a noseful of jam followed by rubbing alcohol. Huh? Nah – the glass must have some kind of residue in it or something. So I switched glasses. Oh dear oh dear – there it was again. I kept trying to convince myself that it was actually a minty eucalyptus. But no, to be perfectly and rather painfully honest, it was totally astringent – just like rubbing alcohol. (And any mom who has gone through ear piercing with their 7 year old daughter  knows that smell – trust me.)
OK, even if a big part of enjoying wine depends on your first whiff of the vino, I decided that I would dismiss this rather surprising bouquet and head on to the sipping part. So I decanted it for a while longer and then proceeded on. I don’t ever actually remember not breathing as I sipped before, but this time I gave it a try. First taste was of oak. Then a little bit of earth maybe even a hint of fruit on the tail end of it all. The finish was oakey with tannins – not to the point of being puckery, but it came close. There was some nice warmth to the finish and it did last quite a while.

OK, I was trying here.  But this Merlot was just not doing it for me. True, it was a bit oakier than I usually like my wine to be…but I’ve gone oakey before and enjoyed it.  I just couldn’t warm up to it. Even pairing it with said roast didn’t seem to help too much. All I could get out of this one was tannins and wood. Not exactly what I had in mind from an epic.

Which brings me to the whole idea of the first whiff of a wine.  If your nose is truly leading the way in your wine tasting, it makes sense that this wine would not wind up on my Top 10 (or 50) list. That astringent smell just couldn’t overcome the taste, which is one of the first lessons you learn when your start tasting wine. Our sense of taste is guided by our sense of smell. The nose knows, and this time, my nose said, “No thank you.”  And my taste buds agreed.

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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Winey Tasting Notes: Invited A Little Mad Housewife (Chardonnay) To Our Super Bowl Party!

I am somewhat embellishing the idea of a Super Bowl "party" in the title of this blog. The party at our house consisted of one rather cranky high school sophomore who had 4 tests the next day, one very tired Hubby (tired because he actually went out on his yearly "I need new clothes and underwear" jaunt earlier in the day), one little doggie who only woke up when she smelled food, and me, The Winey Mom, who by default and necessity, was in charge of the food for the game. And if I do say so myself, I make a Bowl-worthy chicken wing. We like them baked, not fried. So for a little wing time prep, I decided to invite a Mad Housewife to help me get ready.

This Mad Housewife came dressed as a Chardonnay. OK, she was actually a bottle of Mad Housewife Chardonnay (13.5%, NV, 100% California). I have followed The Mad Housewife on facebook and on Twitter (@TheMadHousewife) for a while now, and they are a very entertaining bunch of mad women to listen and talk to. There is one little thing about the picture on their bottles. Take a look at the dark haired lady in the cat eye glasses and I swear to you you are looking at my mother as she was in the 1960's (just add the glasses - which she did own - some color and attitude). It's scary. But since my mom likes wine, I figured the picture wouldn't be haunting me or anything...and since she rarely goes on a computer, she can't see this and hunt me down. I hope.

My mom in 1960

The Mad Housewife Chardonnay is a light yellow color with a refreshing, citrusy aroma. At my first sip, the flavors just jumped all over my mouth (quite a trick, huh?). There was ripe pear and smooth vanilla. The finish was tangy and a teeny bit oakey and lingering. This wine was very soft in my mouth - kind of a luscious feel to it. Add a nice medium body to the wine and you've got a Mad Housewife who should be very happy with herself. I was very happy that I invited her to watch the Super Bowl with us.

And now for those wings. They are very easy to make and you can spice them up or down (Hubby dips them in teriyaki - daughter dips in spicy buffalo sauce). I like to bake them first and get them all crispy and then dip them in the sauce of preference - no one likes a soggy wing.

For 24 wings (I use fryer wings with the wing and the leg attached - they're juicier to cook), take 6 Tbsp of olive oil, 3 tsp of garlic salt (you can use garlic powder, but we like our salt around here), black pepper to taste, 3 Tbsp (or to taste) of chili powder and 4-6 pressed garlic cloves. Dump this all into a gallon sized plastic baggie, mush it around and then add the wings. Mush to coat. I bake my wings on a rimmed cookie sheet, but I always put them on a roasting rack so they bake on all sides and don't stew in their own juices (see soggy note above). 375 degree oven for an hour (check after 50 minutes). You can eat them as is or provide dipping sauces. (And no, 24 is NOT a lot for 3 people - that's because they serve as quick dinners and lunches the rest of the week - hey, I do what I can.)

The Winey Mom makes her Super Bowl wings, with
a little help from a Mad Housewife.

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Monday, February 6, 2012

Winey..No Wait, Beery Tasting Notes: The Winey Mom's Beery Night

I believe very strongly that you should always do your research for both sides of an issue. Dark or milk chocolate? Of course I'll research. Relaxing beach or busy sightseeing vacation? Bring them on. High heels or wedges? In the interest of research, buy them both. Beer or wine? Well, the time had come for me to research how the "other half" (IE: beer drinkers) sip. So off I went to Ladies Night with The Brewer's Daughter.

The Brewer's Daughter (aka Renee DeLuca) is an old friend and former TV co-worker of mine. I find it rather funny that 20 some years after we met, we are referring to ourselves as our favorite drinks. But at least we keep it all in the family (daughter, mom - get it?). 

This evening was devoted to craft beers. And guess what? Craft does NOT mean something your beloved little one brings home from school for Mother's Day! Nope! Craft beer is made by small, independent brewers (small means not a huge giant "corporate" beer like Michelob or Budweiser). So I had to put all thoughts of macaroni necklaces and cardboard frames out of my mind. Not a problem. In addition to the definition of craft beer, I also learned that beer has an alcohol by volume percentage, just like wine. But with beer, when you get to 8%, it's on the high end. With wine, that would be water.

First up on our tasting journey was Bell's Two Hearted Ale (7%). This was a dark gold color and had a big old creamy head of foam on it (something I never have to say in a wine review!). It's an IPA - India Pale Ale (a division of the Ale family, originally from Britain)  - and has a very strong, yeasty taste as well as a lot of citrus. OK, my first beer of the evening, and I like it. It helped that we were pairing some wonderful cheeses with it. I love cheese.

Next, from Colorado, came the Left Hand Milk Stout. Dark brown - almost black in color and smelling a lot like coffee and cocoa. Uh oh. I do not like coffee. In fact, my coffee addicted  mother once commented that I must be adopted because I didn't like coffee as much as she did (Really Mom? To jettison a child simply because she thinks coffee is icky?). But I tasted away and sure enough: coffee beer. Oh well. To be fair to this brew, most of the other ladies in the class liked it - especially with the blue cheese. I however, opted to simply eat the cheese and forgo the rest of the beer.

And in keeping with the "let's torture The Winey Mom with coffee drinks tonight" theme, up came an Ithaca Nut Brown. Only this time, the mahogany colored brew had a bit of a whisky tinge to it. Not enough to drown out the strong coffee/mocha flavor though. Too bad. My Irish roots would have probably responded well to it if it had. Again, had to pass on this one and just keep nibbling on the cheese (Jarlsberg this time).

Next up was a local offering from Chardon Brew Works: their Queen Isabella HazelNut Brown Ale (6.7%). Such a long, regal name! And such a funny bottle that The Brewer's Daughter was pouring it from. I was about to add to my beer education and learn about a growler. Think of a glass jug. Holds about 64 ounces of beer. And it's called a growler because that's the sound the escaping air makes when you first open the bottle. You need to drink fast with a growler: 3 days and it's not any good. (Not to worry - I found that most beer lovers are like wine lovers and cannot understand the concept of leftover beverage in the bottle.) This was more like it - a little sweeter, but not too sweet. And you can really taste the hazelnut.

And then they poured it: Southern Tier Brewing's 422 Pale Wheat Ale. Ding ding ding! We have a winner!! This is a really pretty beer, with its bright gold  color and contrasting foam head. It smelled like summer. Some orange, some malty taste ... zesty and smooth and oh so yummy! At this point we were munching on figs and goat cheese wrapped in prosciutto and I was really in foodie heaven.  I am told that this company also makes a ... wait for it...Creme Brulee beer! I'm in.

Out came some chili and out poured our next offering, Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale (8%). Yes, I said bourbon and yes, you can really taste it. The beer is actually decanted for 6 weeks in Kentucky bourbon barrels. Whoa! In looking over my notes, I wrote down "boozy beer". It held its own with the chili too.

Dessert time brought out some of the biggest, most beautiful chocolate brownies ever. Fudge with a sprinkle of sea salt on top. Amazing. Oh, and we had some beer too. The Rogue Mocha Porter from Oregon proved to be way too bitter for me. Others in the class said bittersweet, but I didn't get the sweet part. Or the chocolate part. So I went back to my brownie.

Last up was the Mendocino Brewing Co. Red Tail Ale. A pretty golden brown/amber color. It was light and malty and had some crisp flavor to it. The brownie was happy too. Another "like" for The Winey Mom.

So, what did a Winey Mom learn at a Beer Tasting? Craft Beers are as diverse and specialized as wine. They are made with all different kinds of ingredients (barley, hops and yeast are their version of all those different grapes). You will love some of them, like some of them and dislike some of them. Sound like a wine tasting to anyone? Different beers pair well with different flavor foods (again, sound familiar?). It's whole new beery world out there, folks. And I'm glad I visited it. I'll definitely go back. But I'm not changing my name. No way. First loves rule, right?

Ladies Night with The Brewer's Daughter
Brewer's Daughter has back to pic, Winey Mom
is far right in pic.
Photo by Scott Groth of The Chubby Cook.
Oh and a note to all of my Northeast Ohio winey readers: This class was held at The Chubby Cook. Scott Groth and his team provided us with all the yummy food - and they can provide you with catering or classes or an awesome take out dinner. Check them out - they are a true local "find"!!


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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Winey Thoughts: A Little Wine With Your Super Bowl?

I live in Cleveland. And since we're talking Super Bowl here, let me tell you that Clevelanders automatically go into whine (and a need for wine) mode as the day for the big game approaches. The Cleveland Browns have never - no never - won a Super Bowl. Kind of hard to do when you haven't even been to one - ever. Never ever. We had our chances. There were the Cardiac Kids, winning every game (except the important one) at the last minute and earning their nickname by the vast number of near heart attacks they gave their fans. They were before my time as a Clevelander, but still fresh in the mind of Hubby, who grew up here. Then let's talk about the '80's. And why a certain team now lead by a praying QB still makes those of us who witnessed (sorry, here they come) "the fumble", "the drive" and the "we gave up" want to spout a few choice decidedly non-prayer words. (For the record, The Browns DID win an NFL Championship in 1964. That was before there was a Super Bowl.)

But every year the Super Bowl rolls around and we Browns' fans settle down for a day of commercial rating and Super Bowl food eating.  If Pittsburgh is in it, we will root for the other team. If not, it's all about the commercials and the food. And while most people will say they go for a good old Chateau de Budwiser or Vines de Michelob on Super Bowl Sunday, the winey ones of the species will sip on wine with their snacks. Here are some ideas on pairing wine with said snacks.

Chips and salsa: Let's just assume you're going for a milder salsa here. Not one that you have to sign a waiver in order to buy and/or eat. You've got some spicy going, so you want to get a kind of an acidic wine - I love Sauvignon Blancs for this. One of my favorites is Vintjs, which you can find at Trader Joe's (because it's actually one of their own labels) for under $5!! Touchdown!

Buffalo chicken wings: again, we are assuming you do not have a death wish (even if you are a Browns' fan) and will not be going atomic with these. But buffalo sauce has its own spicy kicky kind of heat. If you drank a red with it you would most likely never drink red again. So I'm going with a Gewrutzraminer with these. I am partial to Chateau St. Michelle's Gewrutzraminer (I got to tour the Washington State winery a few years back). If you do go for this pairing, a great party game is to make guests say the word "Gewrutzraminer" ten time fast. I'll pause while you all try this - you know you're going to.

Sub sandwiches: The possibilities are endless depending on what you put on your subs. But let's say you are munching on an Italian style sub (salami, capicola, provolone, tomatoes, lettuce). That's a lot of flavor, so you might go with a light red wine. Pinot Noir was my first thought. I love Hob Nob and Mirassou. You could also go for a red blend - Menage a Trois would be yummy (plus the name is bound to get at least one guy to make a naughty reference).

Pizza: Cheese only? Pick your favorite Cabernet Sauvignon (Root One is terrific!) or mix it up with a Australian Cabernet-Shiraz blend. Or one of the new crop of red blends like Apothic Red or promisQuous.

Chili: Gotta go with the big old Zinfandel here. (Gnarly Head is a good one.) It pairs nicely with tomatoes and the hot spices that are the heart of everyone's favorite chili. Plus, the fat in the chili (admit it - it's in there) will kind of negate the puckery tannins of the Zin. If it's veggie chili, you can go with a full bodied Chardonnay or do a 180 and go for a Rose.  Another good party game sure to distract from the football is to ask everyone the best way to make chili. They'll still be at when Spring Training starts. EVERYONE has a chili opinion, don't they?

Cheers and go ________ (oh no, you're not going to get me to say who I'm rooting for. Way too dangerous for a girl who grew up in Jersey and now lives in Cleveland. Read into that whatever you want and have fun at your Super Bowl!)

Who will win this year?
Giants or Patriots?
Share your prediction in the comments!

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