Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Wine for all Occasions- Newbie or Leap Year Party and everything in between

  Looking for a wine to give to a wine newbie? Someone just looking for something sweet and fun?  Searching for a wine to celebrate the Leap Year?
  May I suggest you try Stella Rosa. When I first decided I wanted to try new wines I joined a wine club. I figured it would be the best way to try various wines. I hadn't worked up the nerve to talk to anyone at my local wine shop (I found out it's not all that scary after all) and I wanted a variety. After doing some searching I found Vinesse's wine clubs. One of their clubs seemed perfect for me, Light and Sweet Wine Club. The first shipment contained what would soon be one of my favorites, Stella Rosa. According to their website, "Stella Rosa comes from a little town in Northern Italy where delicious sparkling wines are very common. Everyone drinks them. They knew this little secret for years and told no one. Originally, Stella was a red blend. Stella came to America a few years ago and everyone fell in love with this racy semi sweet Italian red wine"
  It's sweet, crisp and tastes of fresh strawberries! It's a sparkling wine and every party I've taken it to it has been a hit. I think it's perfect for a mixed crowd. Sparkling, sweet, light and red...what more could you ask for?

Monday, February 27, 2012

Erath Pinot Noir 2009

A couple weeks ago I took part in #winechat on Twitter. You can learn more about it, via this link. After hearing about so many great wines from Oregon I decided to pick up a bottle. I checked my shopping list and low behold I had an Oregon wine on my list, Erath Pinot Noir.

First, I was surprised to see it was another screw top. With my recent success with screw tops I didn't let that phase me. Many pinot noir's that I've had the p leasure of tasting up until this point have been very dark in color. So the first thing I noticed was the lighter color of this wine. I'll be honest, first glass went fast. I was watching television and talking to friends. Before I knew it, my glass was empty! Since I wanted to review it, I was obligated to pour another glass. With the second glass I took my time and thought about what I was drinking. I found it soft, light, not overpowering with just a hint of spice. I would not classify this as sweet or dry. If you like sweet wines, I would not recommend this. But if you are up for something new, a slightly richer wine than your sweet, I give this two thumbs up. It really is an easy wine to get lost in thought and conversation with. It goes down easily and went over well with a mixed group of wine drinkers, from newbies like myself to self proclaimed sommeliers. You
can pick up a bottle for under $20, grab one and share your thoughts.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Francis Coppola Cabernet Sauvignon

Before I began my wine ventures when I heard the name Francis Coppola my first thought would go to The Godfather. I can't recall where I first learned about the wine, but somewhere in my readings I learned that nifty fact. This trip to the wine store I decided to pick up a bottle of Francis Coppola's 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon.

It was yummy. I'm not sure if it falls on my love list (coming soon), but I definitely like it. It begins fruity and smooth and ends with a slight kick of spice. I read a few reviews that called it dry, I didn't think it was. Not being one for food pairings, according to Coppola's site this wine pairs best with beef, Chinese take out or Jarlsberg cheese. I had my glass with leftover spaghetti (made with ground turkey), still enjoyed it quite a bit. Looking for a wine to take to a friend's house for dinner, yes, this would work. I paid $16.99 for it, perfect to bring to a party, not too expensive and versatile.
Have a glass, let me know your thoughts.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc+ Viognier 2010

I mentioned in a previous post that I wanted to try a Viognier. I went to my local wine shop and the clerk recommended the Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc Viognier blend. I wasn't sure about this. He advised the two types would work well together and felt that I would enjoy it.

First, what is Chenin Blanc or Viognier? A Chenin Blanc is a white grape that is capable of producing many types of wines from the light, crisp, and dry to sweet. It typically has fruit flavors of melon, pear, and peach. A Viognier is also a white grape. It's capable of producing extraordinary wines. The flavor tends to be sweet, peach, apricot, apple or nutty with undertones of spice. It is dry with lots of fruit flavor.

I was truly surprised by this wine. First, it was a screw top and I admit, I have a bias against screw tops. I put my snobbery to the side and took a sip. At first, it does come off sweet, crisp, and fruity. It ends slightly spicy and dry, but not so dry you fine your lips puckered together. If you prefer slightly sweet, dry wines this is the one for you.

Upon completion of the first glass, I found myself wanting more and then more. What??? I love a screw top wine!! I know, I still can't believe it. Will I buy it again, Hells Yes!! Awesome, fresh, delish and full of flavor. I will be trying more Pine Ridge wines and I suggest you do the same.Link

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine Cupcake

I'd been eyeing Cupcake Vineyards Pinot Noir for awhile now. I noticed the brand back when I was drinking nothing but Moscatos. But (in my best "I'm better than all" voice) I thought since it was so inexpensive, it couldn't be good. What!?! I know! How stupid and silly can a person be?

I picked this up for under $10.00. I found this to be amazing! I wasn't sure what to expect and I was pleasantly surprised. It was smooth, rich, juicy with a hint of sweetness. The end added a kick of spice. Overall it was fantastic. I will definitely be purchasing this again and I really want to try the rest of the wines Cupcake Vineyards offer. MMM, MMMM Delish!! Looking for a yummy Pinot for your valentine dinner? You cannot go wrong with this!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

To Club or Not to Club

I currently belong to two wine clubs and just spent a very large part of my morning debating if I should join another. I joined the wine clubs before I began my blogs. I wanted to try new wines and figured the clubs would be the best way to get great selections. I still believe it is a fantastic way for a newbie to try wines. But I don't think it's the best way to learn about wine.

Just the other day I went into my local wine store looking for some local wine. After browsing for awhile and picking up a bottle off my shopping list, I asked the sales clerk if he had a Viognier. I had read some reviews of local wineries and their Viognier and I wanted to try it. He did point me toward a Viognier blend and then we began talking wine. From this very knowledgeable sales clerk, I was quickly given a lesson in wine. He explained tannins and some other wine lingo (a very definite future post) and asked me a lot of questions about what I like and why I liked it. From that, he said what I was holding was great and he'd keep an eye out for some new things for me.

When you are first learning about wine and what you like versus what you don't like, reading reviews, blogs and tasting are all important. But what is vital to the learning process is to have a conversation. I know I posted a teasing post the other day about "experts", but those experts do serve a purpose. I also understand it can be intimidating to ask someone. I know I was. Yet, I am so happy I did. I can't wait to go back, pick up something from my list and whatever my new wine "expert" suggests.  While you may get great deals and superb wines from a club, nothing beats face to face interactions with quality people.

If you ever find yourself in Maryland, stop by JP's Fine Wine & Spirits. They are helpful, friendly and extremely knowledgeable. Not only will you be able to pick up a powerball ticket, you will also receive some great wine advice.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Van Ruiten Vineyards 2008 Chardonnay

This week I decided I'd try a white wine. I've noticed that I have been drinking a lot of red and I needed to switch it up. It also didn't hurt that I had just received a shipment from one of my wine clubs (Gold Medal Wine Club), that contained a white wine.

Van Ruiten Vineyard 2008 Chardonnay

What is a Chardonnay? In general, Chardonnay produces wines which are dry to medium dry with pear, apple, tropical or citrus fruit flavors. When little to no oak aging occurs, Chardonnay tends to be more crisp and fresh. With extensive oak aging, they become creamy and buttery with vanilla, spice and oak flowers. It is the world's most popular white wine grape and it is grown in virtually every wine-producing region.

I read another review of this wine:
Lush and round on the palate, the Van Ruiten 2008 "Double Barrel" Reserve Chardonnay displays intense fruit and spicy oak aromas with notes of creamy lemon bar, apple, papaya, and hazelnut. While the finish is long and clean, the flavors become increasingly full and complex with time. Bright acidity and nice tannins give a wonderful balance to the Chardonnay and allows for a multitude of food pairings. Try pairing the Van Ruiten 2008 Reserve Chardonnay with fettuccine or chicken with cream butter sauces.

My thoughts- I wasn't sure what to expect. I decided I'd open the bottle and have a glass with some leftover Chinese food, Sweet and Sour shrimp. Since it was a pretty sweet meal to begin with I thought I'd have a few sips while my plate warmed in the microwave. I was worried that the sweetness of the sweet and sour sauce would wash out the wine. My first sip, really shocked me. I found it crisp, smooth, juicy and not too sweet at all. The flavor held up, even with the sugary sauce. I probably would not drink it again with this type of meal, but the wine still held it's own. To be certain about the wine I tried it again the next evening (that's a valid excuse). ;-) It was just as fantastic as I thought. I would definitely buy this to keep around when friends stop by. A perfect, light, easy wine for drinking with friends!

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Imperfect Palate

Since I've started this blogging adventure I've been reading many wine reviews. I have to be honest here, a lot of them leave me confused. That is one of the reasons I began this blog, my total confusion when I read reviews. Knowing that a wine smells like cola, dirt and menthol...does not make me want to drink it. Yet wine reviewers are able to make these things sound appeasing. Don't get me wrong, I'm not knocking wine reviewers or claiming they don't know what they are saying, just the opposite. I'm in awe of them and this skill or ability that I lack.
Many reviewers are considered to have a "perfect palate". This unique ability to taste things that most of us can't. That makes me I tasting the same thing they are? When I drink a glass of Pinot Noir, does it taste the same to them? Am I just lacking the ability to discern the exact fruit a particular wine reminds me of, do I lack the knowledge to notice the currant or the hint of allspice? Is this skill developed over time or are you born with the ability to distinguish these things?
I wonder, if I invited the top wine reviewers and their awesome palates over and had a line up of various glasses of another liquid, say milk...what would happen? Would they take a sip, swirl it around and spit it out then tell me this came from a cow raised on fescue with hints of Kentucky bluegrass? Would they be able to determine that I mixed the whole with skim and a little 2%, with a dusting of pepper?
The perfectness of a palate makes me wonder what happened to mine. Was it ruined when I burned it as a child on hot chocolate that was too hot? The summers spent drinking sodas and fruit juices, did that harm my palate. Did it happen later in life, while drinking cheap beer and arbor mist? Or did I ever have a chance? Did my genetics ruin me and my ability to decipher all the many nuances in a glass of wine??

Who knows... What I do like when I read reviews of wines is how most end saying to use their review as a guide. The only way to determine if you like a particular wine is to try it. With my imperfect palate and all, I have no problem doing that! Cheers!!

Interesting Reads:

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Two Vines

Today I decided to try something different. After reading a review, I decided to pick up 2009 Two Vines Cabernet Sauvignon. The bottle says:

"Our Cabernet Sauvignon features aromas of strawberry, cherry and cola while identical flavors give way to a silky, soft palate that culminates into a long velvety finish."

I'll be honest, when I purchased this I didn't know what a Cabernet Sauvignon was. I decided to do a little research before I opened the bottle (please see CAB SAV). So with a little knowlegde I popped open the cork, pour a glass and took a sip. Three glasses later, I have to say I'm a fan. Two thumbs way up. I've never had expensive Cabernet, but if it gets better with price, I can't wait to try it. This was absolutely delish. Even my drinking partner, who so far has not liked much of anything, liked this.

So why do I like it...what makes it yummy? I found it sweet, but not overpowering or sugary. It has a soft, smooth flavor, that lasts. That velvety finish from the bottle, yup I got it and loved every sip of it. One of the first times I was disappointed when my glass was empty. Definitely will buy again and will keep on hand. Actually, next time I head to the wine store, I'm going to grab at least two bottles. One to drink that night and another to keep on hand for that crazy, stressful day. Please try and let me know your thoughts.