Friday, August 30, 2013

Winey Tasting Notes: Winey Cocktail Hour!

There are a lot of debates raging over the concept of a cocktail hour/happy hour. Most of them center on two topics. The first is: why limit it to an hour? The second is: where does that leave wine drinkers?

As for the first topic, forget it, I choose to be happy for more than one hour at a time. Unless it's a freezing cold Sunday night in January and Downtown Abbey is only on for one hour. It's just gonna be an hour then, no debate about it.

Bottle of Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi Pinot GrigioAs for the second, it seems that winemakers all over are solving that problem recently by coming up with a bevy of wine cocktail recipes. Not that wine doesn't look pretty by itself in a glass, but dress it up with some juice and fruit slices and BAM - it's simply stunning.

The winemakers at Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi have realized this, and to prove their point, they sent me some of their Pinot Grigio (2012, 12%, CA) and some yummy looking wine cocktail recipes to try. Since it WAS the "thing" to do this summer, I was all over it like, well, like a Winey Mom on a wine cocktail.

The Pinot Grigio itself has a nose of pineapple and peach (just like all the peaches in the bowl on my counter these days. May I add that the bowl is a bit of sore point between the Winey Hubs and me. He likes his peaches chilled once they are ripe. I like mine at room temp. But let's stick to the topic here..) It tastes citrusy and is bright and dry, all at the same time. It's definitely not overpowering in dryness because the fruit is very much present, this time in the form of white peaches. It finishes nicely peachy - not big and juicy like a Sauvignon Blanc, but a well behaved lingering crispness.

Now for the cocktail. I chose to make the Blood Orange Pinot Grigio Fizz.

Blood Orange Pinot Grigio Fizz
By: Krista Simmons
blood orange pinot grigio fizz wine cocktailIngredients:
 ¾ cup (6 oz) Woodbridge Pinot Grigio
1 oz freshly squeezed blood orange juice
1 oz Campari
1 oz simple syrup (basic 2 parts sugar:1 part water ratio)
1 ½ oz soda water
blood orange wheels to garnish
*makes one large cocktail
Fill a large glass or Mason jar with ice, then add in all of the measured ingredients, except for the soda water. Stir the ingredients with a bar spoon. Once incorporated, finish with a splash of soda water. Garnish with wheels of freshly sliced blood oranges.
Wow! Yum! I don't know how, but the blood orange (if it's not winter, you will have to search high and low for these. I actually was lucky enough to find some blood orange juice)  made the peach flavors in the wine just shine. The Campari added a nice little tartness to it (this is pricey, so if you can't find a smaller bottle or don't want to spend a lot, you could leave it out) and the soda water gave it some pretty little bubbles. It was simply delicious. Actually, it was a bit dangerously delicious. Perfectly suited to a late afternoon  patio session. I would most definitely double the recipe if there are more than two of you.
Or you could go with the other recipe they came up with and make both for a crowd:
Pinot Grigio Sweet Tea
By: Krista Simmons
pinot grigio sweet tea wine cocktail
Ingredients for cocktail:
 3 dashes Angostura Bitters
1 oz extra-strong black tea, brought to room temperature
1 oz peach simple syrup (see below)
¾ cup (6 oz) Woodbridge Pinot Grigio
½ oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
slices of fresh peaches for garish
Ingredients for peach simple syrup:
 2 peaches, sliced
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
Method for simple syrup:
 Place all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium/low heat until all sugar is dissolved. Allow mixture to cool, with peaches still inside the pan. Once the syrup has cooled, about 30 minutes, remove the peaches with a slotted spoon. Transfer the syrup to a mason jar or a plastic squeeze bottle. You can use this mixture for naturally flavored sodas or other cocktails.
Method for cocktail:
Fill a rocks glass with ice, then top with three dashes Angostura Bitters. Then add strongly steeped tea (use two teabags for a cup instead of one when brewing), peach simple syrup, Woodbridge Pinot Grigio, and lemon juice. Stir with a cocktail spoon, and add slices of peaches to garnish.

(I did not try the Sweet Tea recipe, given the fact that I am not a big sweet tea fan and it just would not have been fair to the wine. I have a friend who lives on sweet tea, but she chose to go on a beach vacation instead of staying home during the time I was writing this. Sheesh, go figure.)

So there you have it, the only way The Winey Mom would condone messing with wine! Dress it up and turn it into a cocktail. Remember, the fun can last a lot longer than an hour!!


I was given this wine for review purposes. The opinions are my own.

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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Winey Tasting Notes: Save It For The Grill - BBQ Zinfandel

I love to cook. Please note I did not say bake. The Winey Daughter is the baker. She loves to measure and stir and decorate. I do not. However, give me a stove top, some olive oil, balsamic vinegar, herbs and some sort of meat/poultry thing-y (I cannot, sadly, do fish or the Winey Hubby and Daughter would, well, kill me) and I am happy.

2011 BBQ Zinfandel labelThis happiness extends outdoors in the nicer weather, when I pull the cover off my bright red grill, fire up the burners (yes, it's gas - please don't judge me or get into that debate, I will NOT engage) and start dinner. I have to smile now at my grilling prowess, because way back in the early days of our Winey marriage (just past the 28 year mark), the Winey Hubby was the griller. I had never really used a grill, so I let him take the tongs. But then one day he was late getting home and I was seriously hungry so I took the plunge, so to speak, and started grilling. It's been a love affair ever since. I have progressed to the point where I can grill whole chickens and roasts. I can grill direct or indirect, meat or veggies, bread or potatoes and yes, my grill has a side burner, so bring on the sauce pot, baby!!

BBQ holds a special place in any griller's heart. I have a BBQ rib recipe that wows 'em all. So imagine my delight when I saw a bottle of BBQ Zinfandel from Renwood Winery (2011, 14.8%, CA). The label promised that this was the "perfect wine to enjoy with grilled meats and veggies." I took this as a promise and a challenge. I had a gorgeous London broil marinating in the fridge (I like my marinades a bit smokier - so this was soaking in a mix of paprika, chili powder, Worcestershire sauce, and a bit of balsamic vinegar).

Upon opening, the nose on BBQ was full of black pepper and those Zinfandel spices (dark green ones like sage and thyme and oregano). There was a hint of oak in it and some cherry syrup as well. Right away you could taste the cherries - they were smooth and a very deep black cherry flavor right through the middle of your mouth. There was some pepper on the top of my tongue and the spices did finally show up. It finished VERY fruity.

This was very well balanced. You'd think that with such a high alcohol content you would feel some warmth in your mouth, but nope. I have to say I was a bit surprised by the "sweetness" I tasted in this wine. That coupled with the lush feel almost made me think I was sipping on some BBQ sauce. It was bordering on being a bit much for me. And paired with the London broil... just okay.

Would I buy it again? Probably not. I have had better Zinfandels from California, with or without something from the grill. But if you like your big reds on the sweeter, lusher side, and at price tag of $9.99,  you may want to check it out. (I had a hard time finding this on line, so check with your favorite wine store and let them know it's from Renwood, which is a very well known winery. I have a feeling this is one of their less costly, just for fun offerings.)


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