Thursday, December 17, 2015

Winey Tasting Notes: A Curated Box of Wines? Yes, Please

There are times when you just want someone else to make decisions for you, aren't there? For instance, when I hear "Where do you want to eat?" or "What kind of pizza are we ordering?" or "What's for dinner?" I would absolutely love it if some decision genie would pop up and give me the answers. Because I have come to the point in my life where if I say "It doesn't really matter to me," I mean it. If it mattered, I'd say so. If I have no real strong thoughts, and I say so, I MEAN IT.

Spagnol Prosecco Extra DryUnfortunately, The Winey Hubby is also at this point in his life, so when you are trying to answer a question and both parties really don't have any strong opinions, you get a little stuck. Or you just order Chinese take-out, which has become the option for argument free dining around these parts recently.

So let's just say you're trying to decide what wines to buy for a party. Wouldn't it just be heaven on earth to have someone else decide what wines to serve? And then to send them to you? Wouldn't it also be heaven on earth to have someone clean the house for you before hand? OK, I'm getting off track here a bit. But choosing a bunch of wines for a party can be a bit intimidating. Not to mention a pain in the butt. Because you've got so much else to decide on. Like food, and what you're going to wear and how to convince the family not to use the powder room until after the party because you cleaned it cleaner that it's been in months. So there.

The folks at Global Wine Cellars feel this pain. And they decided to take some of the pressure off by offering an Entertainer's Collection of wines. Six bottles that range from a bubbly Prosecco to a big old Cab that should be able to please the palates of guests gathered at your home.

Global Wine Cellars thought it might be a good idea to let me try one of their wines, and they sent me a bottle of Spagnol Prosecco (2013, 11%, Treviso, Italy). I love sparklers for a party - they pair with such a wide variety of food and they just add that little extra bit of fun because of the bubbles. Most people like bubbles. They really do. Me included.

And this Prosecco did not disappoint. It's a very pretty golden yellow color and like most bubblers, the nose was a bit faint, but had a golden apple bouquet to it. The first taste was so yummy: there was the apple, a bit of ripe, sweet pear and some honey. It wasn't sweet though, because the bubbles gave it a zesty little kick that kept it from being cloying. It was lively and fresh and made me want to find some prosciutto STAT. A wonderful party bubbler that would stay as wonderful no matter when you decided to sip it. Party or not.

The other 5 wines in the Entertainer's Collection look amazing too. I am especially intrigued by the 2014 Ranga Ranga Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand and the 2013 Saint Gregory Pinotrois, a blend of three Pinot wines from California. The 6 bottles cost $100 which is pretty reasonable, especially when you add the sanity saving bonus in there.

Global Wine Cellars also has an online wine shop so you can explore wines from all over the world, including Austria, which is an area I'd like to explore more when it comes to my Winey sipping.

Happy entertaining! Cheers!

I received this wine for review purposes. The opinions are all my own.

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Thursday, December 10, 2015

Winey Tasting Notes: Ménage à Trois Silk and the Advent Calendar

I am going to pause in the reminiscing about my wonderful trip to Israel (and the great wines from that country) to talk about something that has been on my mind lately. Every single morning, actually.

The Advent Calendar.

wine rack advent calendar
NOT this Advent Calendar
(but I do like it)
And to clarify, I'm not talking about the Advent Calendar that may show up on The Winey Mom's Facebook page every year. The one with bottles in a wine rack, numbered from 1-24. Also known as Mommy's Advent Calendar.

No, this calendar is the cloth hanging that holds court in the kitchen, on the french doors, and has
done so starting every December 1 for as long as I can remember. I don't even recall where we got this Winey Family Advent Calendar. (I'm guessing Grammy...but that's just guessing.) But ever since the Winey Kids have been old enough, it's been there. It has, at times, been accompanied by other calendars given to us by well-meaning friends or family (a Playmobil calendar that fell apart every time you breathed on it comes to mind) but this is the one that we have always used to mark the time until Santa comes. Ever year.

And every year it's the same argument  discussion. Which Winey Kid gets to do which day. Do we split it up odds and evens? Oldest first? Youngest first: A reward for whichever one gets downstairs first? And what about December14th? Because that's the Winey Daughter's birthday so of course she MUST take the little cloth marker out of it's pocket and add it to the tree that day, right?

advent calendar
The Winey Family
Advent Calendar
No matter how we did got done. Little hands reaching for a marker to get us all one day closer to the big day.

After the Winey Son left for college, the Winey Daughter became the sole keeper of the calendar. Bittersweet you ask? Because she was the only child left? Nope. She was diligent about it in a way I have seen her be diligent in little else throughout her life. Every morning, before school and again on weekends, another day was marked.

But, as time moved on...well, you guessed it. I have become the sole keeper of the calendar for the past two years. I dutifully put it up in the same place. And every morning, I add another marker to the tree. (The dogs can't reach the calendar and The Winey Hubby would forget, so I win the honor.)

But I'm not marking the days until Santa gets here, am I? (OK well maybe a teeny bit.) I am mentally marking the days until I am no longer allowed to add to the Advent Calendar tree. So I'm counting down until Winey Daughter's finals are over and she can take over. And then I am counting the days until the Winey Son gets home on leave so that the two of them can debate who gets to put the markers out (that whole first downstairs thing? Doesn't really work any more since now they compete to see who can sleep the latest on their breaks.) For the record, the 14th still belongs to the Winey Daughter (woe to the person who puts THAT marker up).

I long for the days that I don't have to be in charge of the calendar. Because it means that our Winey family is together again, for however brief a time.

Menage a Trois SilkAnd I will celebrate that day, when it comes, with a glass (or two..) of wine. This year I'm really enjoying a new offering from one of my old favorites: Ménage à Trois. My first meeting with this winery was a few years ago at a party (Winey Tasting Notes: The Naughty Wine Names Series: Menage a Trois Red) Then, a bit later, they introduced a different take on their blend with Ménage à Trois Midnight (Winey Tasting Notes: The Naughty Wine Name Series: Ménage à Trois Midnight). And just recently I spied and tried Ménage à Trois Silk (2014, 13.5%, Calif).

The winery calls this a "soft red blend". It's 70% Pinot Noir, 20% Malbec and10% Petite Sirah. The nose is smoke and cherry. The taste? Wow! Mocha surrounded by cranberry with a tinge of dark herbs wrapped up in some chocolate covered cherry syrup. Silk is right! As I sipped, I imagined a big, wide bolt of wine-colored silk.

This is another great example of why I love red blends. All the best of each varietal coming together to make this a dangerously drinkable wine. If you like your reds fruity-forward but not totally without some herb and mocha influence, you will love this wine. I have found readily available at a number of places - big box and local grocery store, all in the $10-12 range.

Cheers to me not touching that Advent calendar again this year.....starting very soon.

And cheers to you all!

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Thursday, December 3, 2015

Winey Tasting Notes: Revisiting an amazing trip with Israel's Mediterranean Soul wine

Mediterranean Soul Dream White BlendThe Winey Hubby and I celebrated a major wedding anniversary this year - one that ended with 0. OK, it was 30 years (yes, as a matter of fact, I was 9 when we got married, thank you for asking). What to do to celebrate such a happy milestone?

We went to Israel.

Yup, this fall we joined a group of wonderful folks who made the journey to the Holy Land. And to answer everyone's first question to us: No, we didn't feel unsafe at all. Awed, overwhelmed and emotional, but never unsafe. Israel is a beautiful country - from the rolling hills and mountains and fields of Galilee to the narrow streets of old Jerusalem to the beaches of Tel Aviv to the desert of Masada and the lowest place on earth, The Dead Sea, Israel astounded us. And the scenery was almost the least of it all! The sheer history of the land is mind boggling. Really. I had to laugh once when our guide told us that one particular wall wasn't that had only been there for 500 years. Ha! Here in the US, 200 is pretty darn good. But in Israel, 500 is nothing. We walked on stone streets that had been in use for thousands of years. We walked on stones that Jesus had walked on. All in all, it was a very moving experience.

Galilee, Israel, Israeli wine
Sea of Galilee in background
And yes, Winey Friends, there was wine. Actually, Israel has a number of different wine regions. I loved the Galilee region, which is in the north and is pretty much a Mediterranean climate. Think cold and wet winter and warm and dry in the summer. In fact, if you drew a line of latitude across to Europe, you'd hit some of that continent's best vineyards.) The wine I'm going to review today comes from a sub-region of the Galilee, Golan Heights.
Galilee, Israel, Israeli wine
Olive trees

Actually, I didn't sip on this particular wine in Israel. We had some yummy wines over there - especially some great Cabernet Sauvignon blends. But buying wine and toting it around for 10 days and then packing it for the 20-ish hour journey home sounded a bit too daunting. So we drank as we went, enjoying wine with some very tasty Mediterranean foods. And when I got home, I found Mediterranean Soul Wines.

Galilee, Israel, Israeli wine
View of north shore of the
Sea of Galilee
Mediterranean Soul is a boutique winery in the Golan Heights. The first of their wines that I sipped was a white blend called Dream (2013, 13.5%, Israel). It's a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Viognier and Semillon. It's a translucent, pineapple yellow color with a nose of peach and kiwi. The flavors are tart green apple, lemon-lime and a hint of melon. It finishes tart and juicy, like a Sauvignon Blanc, but with the blend of the other wines, Dream doesn't feel as thin in the mouth. It's got a bit more heft to it. Overall, it's a refreshing, tart, sharp juicy wine.

I wouldn't call it a light wine - but it's not big and oakey either. I'd say that this wine was very reminiscent of our amazing time in the Galilee. It brings to mind fresh air, water, olive trees everywhere and herbs that grow like weeds in the Mediterranean climate.
Galilee, Israel, Israeli wine
OK, so yeah, I milked a goat
while dressed like...OK, a tourist,
I was a tourist!

Galilee, Israel, Israeli wine
Winey Couple, Galilee
Buy this wine (I found it locally here in Ohio for $10) if you want a citrusy-tart, flavorful white wine that stops just short of being buttery and big. Perfect for seafood, chicken and looking at a bazillion pictures from the trip of a lifetime.


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