Thursday, December 27, 2012

Naked Winery Fling Gewürztraminer

Naked Winery Fling Gewurtztraminer

Naked Winery's Fling Gewürztraminer 2011 - melon, stone fruit, citrus, crisp acidity, semi-sweet, pairs well with a variety of food.

Disclaimer: This wine was sent to me for review purposes, courtesy of Naked Winery. I was not compensated in any other way for the review, was not obligated to give the wine a positive review, and all opinions are my own.

Would you like your wine reviewed?
Contact me at Kovas@50StatesOfWine.com!

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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Naked Winery Cougar Semi-Sparkling White

Naked Winery Cougar Semi-Sparkling White

Naked Winery's Cougar Semi-Sparkling White - tropical and stone fruit aroma and flavors, slight effervescence, simple sipping wine or pair with all kinds of food!

Disclaimer: This wine was sent to me for review purposes, courtesy of Naked Winery. I was not compensated in any other way for the review, was not obligated to give the wine a positive review, and all opinions are my own.

Would you like your wine reviewed?
Contact me at Kovas@50StatesOfWine.com!

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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Outdoor Vino Wanderlust White

Outdoor Vino Wanderlust White

Naked Winery's Outdoor Vino Wanderlust White - Flowery aromas and honeydew melon flavors, good balance and a smooth finish make for easy sipping. Plastic bottle means you can take it anywhere!

Disclaimer: This wine was sent to me for review purposes, courtesy of Naked Winery. I was not compensated in any other way for the review, was not obligated to give the wine a positive review, and all opinions are my own.

Would you like your wine reviewed?
Contact me at Kovas@50StatesOfWine.com!

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Monday, December 17, 2012

Meatless Monday: Vegan Truffles

Dark Chocolate Vegan Truffles

With the holidays upon us, treats galore lie in wait, some good, some not, all less than healthy. Minimize those mistakes by eating healthier versions of some of your favorites, including these simple, vegan dark chocolate truffles!

Ingredients:
  • Raw pecans, cashews, macadamia nuts, cocoa, sea salt, pitted dates, nutmeg, dark chocolate
Directions:
  • In a food processor, pulse all ingredients (except dark chocolate) until clumping and able to be formed. Ingredients should be added according to taste -- the dates help it all stick together, so those can be added liberally.
  • While preparing the truffle filling, melt the dark chocolate in a double boiler, or, more simply, in a glass bowl over boiling water.
  • Once the truffles are formed and the chocolate is melted, dip each truffle into the melted chocolate, then place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  • Let cool and then enjoy!
Adapted from a Pure2Raw recipe.

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Friday, December 14, 2012

Outdoor Vino Rambling Red

Outdoor Vino Rambing Red

From Naked Winery, an easy-sipping basic red: Outdoor Vino, made up of a blend of cabernet, merlot and syrah, has dark cherry aromas and flavors, decent mouthfeel, and a midlength finish. Very smooth and a pleasure to drink. I can imagine this being a great addition to any picnic, hike, or camping trip, since it is packaged in a BPA-free plastic bottle!

Disclaimer: This wine was sent to me for review purposes, courtesy of Naked Winery. I was not compensated in any other way for the review, was not obligated to give the wine a positive review, and all opinions are my own.

Would you like your wine reviewed?
Contact me at Kovas@50StatesOfWine.com!

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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Stone Hill Winery 2008 Norton

Stone Hill Winery 2008 Norton

Stone Hill Winery 2008 Norton - earthy plum aromas and flavors, nicely balanced, smooth finish.

Disclaimer: This wine was sent to me for review purposes, courtesy of Stone Hill Winery. I was not compensated in any other way for the review, was not obligated to give the wine a positive review, and all opinions are my own.

Would you like your wine reviewed?
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Monday, December 10, 2012

Meatless Monday: Vegetarian's Complete Quinoa Cookbook

Vegetarian's Complete Quinoa Cookbook

Quinoa is rapidly becoming one of the more popular superfoods. It is not a member of the grass family and thus not a true cereal, or grain. Quinoa is related to species such as beets, spinach, and tumbleweeds, contains essential amino acids like lysine and good quantities of calcium, phosphorus, and iron. Quinoa is a good addition to any diet, and an important one to plant-based lifestyle.

However, many people are stumped on how to incorporate it beyond using it as a grain substitute. The Vegetarian’s Complete Quinoa Cookbook (North Vancouver, BC: Whitecap Books,  2012),  is the only book you need to incorporate quinoa into a vegetarian diet. Featuring over 125 recipes, contributed by professional home economists, the quinoa-based meals that can take you right through the day, from breakfast to dessert, and everything in between.

As an added benefit, many of the recipes are gluten free. Some surprises included quinoa flour, something I had never heard of. There is truly something here for every palate, and recipes include:
  • Pumpkin Cornmeal Pancakes
  • African Peanut Soup with Red Quinoa
  • Mexi Meatless Shepherd’s Pie
  • Goat Cheese, Red Pepper and Spinach Quiche
  • Dark Chocolate Pudding Cake

Better With Veggies
Head over to Better With Veggies for more quinoa recipes!

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me courtesy of Whitecap. I was not compensated in any other way for the review, was not obligated to give the book a positive review, and all opinions are my own.
Would you like your wine or food book reviewed?
Contact me at Kovas@50StatesOfWine.com!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Repeal Day

Reepal Day

The Repeal of Prohibition in the United States was accomplished with the passage of the Twenty-first Amendment to the United States Constitution on December 5, 1933. According to the Repeal Day website:
"We celebrate Repeal Day because December 5th marks a return to the rich traditions of craft fermentation and distillation, the legitimacy of the American bartender as a contributor to the culinary arts, and the responsible enjoyment of alcohol as a sacred social custom."
I'll drink to that!

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Thursday, December 6, 2012

Stone Hill Winery Chambourcin

2010 Stone Hill Winery Chambourcin

2010 Stone Hill Winery Chambourcin - black currants, black cherry, hint of chocolate, smooth lingering finish. Really a pleasant wine to drink.

Disclaimer: This wine was sent to me for review purposes, courtesy of Stone Hill Winery. I was not compensated in any other way for the review, was not obligated to give the wine a positive review, and all opinions are my own.

Would you like your wine reviewed?
Contact me at Kovas@50StatesOfWine.com!

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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

2012 Holiday Gift Guide

2012 Holiday Gift Guide

Wine and Food:

For a quick bite, why not stay with a healthy snack? Nairns Oatcakes  biscuits are high in fiber. They are made with wholegrain oats to a wheat free recipe. They contain no hydrogenated fat, GM ingredients, artificial colourings, flavourings or preservatives. Suitable for Vegetarians and Vegans.

From Brookstone,  the Aero™ Wine Aerator Releases wine’s full flavor and bouquet in seconds – the smarter, faster alternative to traditional decanting. Simply insert in bottle or glass and press button to aerate for 30 seconds. Oxygen softens tannins for smoother, better tasting wine. Includes 2 stems (long stem for full bottles, short stem for glasses) and storage stand. If you don't believe this product makes a difference, you are wrong - definitely something everyone should try!

Finding your favorite bottle of wine doesn’t have to be an exercise in pretension. In Uncorked (North Vancouver, BC: Whitecap Books,  2012), Shelley Boettcher has collected 150 wines, all under $25! Filled with helpful hints and tips on which wine goes with which occasion, this book will demystify the world of cork-dorks. Each wine includes tasting descriptions, food pairings, label art, and average price.

For the fruit and veggie lover in your life (or for yourself!):

V Cuisine: The Art of New Vegan Cooking (North Vancouver, BC: Whitecap Books,  2007) “isn’t just for vegans and vegetarians, it’s for people seeking fresh flavors, vibrant colors, and tones of fun.”

The Vegetarian’s Complete Quinoa Cookbook (North Vancouver, BC: Whitecap Books,  2012) is the only book you need to incorporate quinoa into a vegetarian diet. It features over 125 recipes, contributed by professional home economists, for quinoa-based meals that can take you right through the day.

Veggie Revolution: Smart Choices for a Healthy Body and a Healthy Planet (Golden, CO: Fulcrum Books,  2005), authored by the mother-daughter team of Sally and Sara Kate Kneidel, explores all aspects of the decision-making process while providing explicit detail and facts on the ills of typical American eating habits. This book provides a balanced perspective offering choices for all, plus a selection of delicious recipes for you to try vegetarian cooking for yourself.

Bring year-round beauty to your yard and luscious, organic fruit to your table with Landscaping with Fruit (North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing,  2009). A plant-by-plant encyclopedia recommends 39 eye- and palate-pleasing species that are especially well-suited to home landscapes.

Check out other Gift Guides at Midwest Multisport Life and Women's Endurance Gear!

(Disclaimer: I was sent these items for possible inclusion in this Gift Guide. I did not pay for the items, receive payment for this post, or agree to use item in the Gift Guide. Aside from information gleaned from the company website, the opinions are my own.)

Have a product you'd like reviewed?
Contact me at Kovas@50StatesOfWine.com.

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Monday, December 3, 2012

Meatless Monday: Sweet Pea Soup

Veggies For Carnivores: Sweet Pea Soup

The recipes in Veggies For Carnivores, by Lora Krulak, are so simple that we tried two in one day recently: Roasted Root Veggies and Sweet Pea Soup.
Ingredients:
  • Chopped Red Onions (we substituted yellow, as we had those on hand)
  • Smashed Garlic Cloves
  • Bouillon or stock
  • Organic, frozen sweet peas
  • Prewashed organic spinach
  • Olive Oil
Heat olive oil in large saucepan, add garlic and onions and heat to soften, but don't brown. Add stock, salt, pepper and bring to a boil. (Stock should be salty as peas and spinach will mellow that effect when added.) When boiling, add peas to soften, about 5 minutes. Turn off heat, add spinach, and then puree as desired: immersion blender or blender. Serve and enjoy!

Krulak suggests topping with Chili Oil - we didn't try that, but it would be a nice contrast to the fresh sweetness of this soup. The onions and garlic add quite a bit of heartiness, making this a good option even in the dead of winter. The beautiful green color brightens up the meal as well.

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Friday, November 30, 2012

Veggies For Carnivores

Holiday times can be tough for plant based eaters - nothing feeling like a pesky, unwanted visitor to the holiday feast. On the flip side, many omnivore hosts feel pressure to make everyone feel welcome, but don't know where to turn. Enter Lora Krulak, and her book, Veggies For Carnivores: Moving Vegetables to the Center of the Plate (Cleveland, OH: Changing Lives Press, 2012).

Veggies For Carnivores

From engaging stories to simple recipes, this is definitely not a threatening book with unusual kitchen gadgets or hard to find ingredients. Her goal in writing this book "is to celebrate the flavors, health benefits, and, yes, the beauty of vegetables." She certainly does that!

Base ingredients and tips on choosing a blender lead into the rest of the book, recipes that can build on each other or be eaten on their own. While each recipe contains ingredient measures and step by step directions, Krulak urges experimentation, improvisation, and substitution of alternative ingredients.

As a dedicated vegetarian and vegan-wannabe, this book truly surprised me. Rather than the typical side dishes and endless salads of other cookbooks aimed at omnivores, Krulak's world travels and flair for ingredients (and their more common substitutes) make veggies look exciting. Leafing through the recipes and reading her stories make me want to rush out to buy a mandoline, roast some garlic for later, try a blended raw salad and then just keep going to the next recipe.

This book is not just for the holidays, however. Simple and tasty recipes will be a hit with all eaters -- highly recommended addition to your kitchen library!

Lora Krulak

About the Author: Lora Krulak is a nutritional muse who blends culinary adventure with dietary soundness. Inspired by global flavors and exotic spices, she focuses on giving people the tools and understanding to create a healthy, vegetable-centric lifestyle . . . without the need to become a vegetarian. Her background includes training at ICE Culinary Cooking School, being an international private nutritional chef and lifestyle coach, working at top New York restaurants, and teaching yoga. In addition, she has traveled the world—from India, Bali, and Thailand to Turkey, The Middle East, Australia, and Southern Europe—and brings the stories, recipes, and cooking techniques she learned and perfected overseas to all homes.

Visit Lora Krulak's website and follow on Twitter!

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me for review purposes, courtesy of Lora Krulak. I was not compensated in any other way for the review, was not obligated to give the book a positive review, and all opinions are my own.

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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Fogo de Chão, Chicago

Fogo de Chão

Fogo de Chão (fo-go dèe shoun) is an authentic Brazilian steakhouse established in 1979, created as a way to share the gaucho way of preparing meat. The Chicago location is one of many in the United States, with more in Brazil. For their ten year anniversary, the Chicago restaurant underwent a $750,000 renovation and expansion, adding private dining rooms, a restyled bar/lounge and an even more elaborate gourmet salad bar. It is a beautifully-designed space, luxurious, open, yet human-scaled at the same time.

Fogo de Chão Food

Cuts of delectable fire roasted meats are brought to your table, sliced, and served by their gaucho chefs. Laima enjoyed selections such as Picanha, Filet Mignon, Beef Ancho, Alcatra, Fraldinha, Costela, De Porco, and Lombo. For the non-carnivores, there is the new Fresh Grilled Mozzarella Cheese, which was flat out delicious! Included with the meal is a limitless service of traditional Brazilian side dishes, including: pão de queijo (warm cheese bread), crispy hot polenta, garlic mashed potatoes and caramelized bananas. Fogo also offers optional side dishes of rice and black beans, and farofa (a condiment made with manioc meal) upon request. The salad sides bar boasts an extensive selection of over 30 items: gourmet salads, fresh vegetables, imported cheeses, artisan breads, cured meats and more. Wine is a mainstay of the restaurants, with the list garnering the coveted Wine Spectator Magazine Award of Excellence repeatedly. Cocktails, including the signature Brazilian caipirinha, are also available. We enjoyed a bottle of Fogo’s own 2009 Gran Reserva Malbec - supple mouthfeel, balanced and nuanced, this wine went perfectly with all of dishes.

Fogo de Chão Dessert

Desserts include Fogo de Chão Signature Papaya Cream, South American Flan, Crème Brule, Turtle Cheesecake, Molten Chocolate Cake, and Key Lime Pie. We tried the Papaya Cream (topped with creme de cassis) and the Molten Chocolate cake, simply amazing, especially paired with espresso for me and capuccino for Laima.

Service is above and beyond, with a seemingly endless parade of servers bringing meat, refreshing side dishes, pouring wine and water, and generally making sure the experience is as perfect as can be.

Fogo de Chão is obviously aimed at carnivores, but don't overlook it when dining with the plant-based set; plenty of non-meat options means that everyone can dine happy.

More info on the Fogo de Chão website and by liking on Facebook.

Disclaimer: This meal was comped for me for review purposes, courtesy of Fogo de Chão. I was not compensated in any other way for the review, was not obligated to give the restaurant a positive review, and all opinions are my own. Some information in this review was taken from the company website.

Would you like your restaurant reviewed?
Contact me at Kovas@50statesofwine.com!

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Fogo de Chao Malbec

Fogo De Chao Malbec

The 2009 Fogo de Chao Gran Reserva Malbec from Argentina has cherry and plum on nose, blackberries wrapped in supple mouthfeel and lingering finish. Great with the meal we had there last night!

Disclaimer: This wine was comped for review purposes, courtesy of Fogo de Chão. I was not compensated in any other way for the review, was not obligated to give the wine a positive review, and all opinions are my own.
Would you like your wine reviewed?
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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Rock and Roll Wine: AC/DC

AC/DC Wines

Last year, AC/DC launched their brand of wine in Australia, then begian exporting it to the United Kingdom. Now, their wines have come to the United States.

The current lineup includes four varietals: ‘Back in Black’ Shiraz, ‘Highway to Hell’ Cabernet Sauvignon, ‘Thunderstruck’ Chardonnay and ‘Hells Bells’ Sauvignon Blanc. A fifth, 'You Shook Me All Night Long' Moscato, is set to be launched soon.

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Monday, November 26, 2012

Adam Puchta NV Vintner's Reserve Norton

Adam Puchta NV Vintner's Reserve Norton

Adam Puchta NV Vintner's Reserve Norton - dark cherry and vanilla on nose, grapy licorice on the palate, smooth finish. Unfortunately not my style.

Disclaimer: This wine was sent to me for review purposes, courtesy of Adam Puchta Winery. I was not compensated in any other way for the review, was not obligated to give the wine a positive review, and all opinions are my own.

Would you like your wine reviewed?
Contact me at Kovas@50StatesOfWine.com!

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Friday, November 23, 2012

Naked Winery Penetration Cabernet Sauvignon

Naked Winery Penetration Cabernet Sauvignon

This 2008 Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon from Naked Winery has earth and black cherry on the nose, plum and cherry on the palate, good tannins, and some minerality on the finish.

Disclaimer: This wine was sent to me for review purposes, courtesy of Naked Winery. I was not compensated in any other way for the review, was not obligated to give the wine a positive review, and all opinions are my own.

Would you like your wine reviewed?
Contact me at Kovas@50StatesOfWine.com!


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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

People Lounge, Chicago

People Lounge Chicago

People Tapas Lounge, a Spanish restaurant and world music lounge, is located in the heart of the Wicker Park neighborhood of Chicago. People Lounge uses oak, wrought iron and copper elements to create a rustic and cozy atmosphere. Large wrought iron chandeliers hang from the ceiling. The faux painted walls with several shades of brown tones create a warm vibe. It's a long, narrow space, but feels roomy due to the high ceilings. A thirty foot long oak bar offers twenty plus different beers, with an emphasis on Belgian breweries (just as the Spaniards know their tapas, the Belgians know their beer). Along with cocktails, there is a varied wine list with an emphasis on Spanish wineries and those from other Latin countries, such as Argentina and Chile.

People Lounge

As we perused the menu, I sipped on the Segura Viudas NV Cava(Spain), while Laima started on the Latin Trio Wine Flight of red wines: Tapena Garnacha (Spain), Trivento Malbec (Argentina), and Ventisquero Carmenere. Once the plates started arriving, I ordered the World Whites wine flight: Casa LaPostolle Chardonnay (Chile), Nimbu Sauvignon Blanc ((Chile), and Basa Blanco Rueda Verdejo/Viura (Spain). Both flights were a great way to explore the variety of wine flavors, along with a multitude of food and wine pairing options.

People Lounge Veggie Plates

Veggie Plates:
We ordered 4 of the vegetarian plates.
  • Up first was the Coca – house-made flatbread, roasted eggplant and red pepper tapenade, charred vidalia onions, and grilled zucchini. Everything tasted fresh, was well-made, and stood on its own or combined with the other options.
  • The Caramelized Brussels Sprouts made with smoked paprika and topped with crispy shallots were perfectly done, slightly softened for easy eating, yet remaining firm enough to avoid mushiness. Spicy!
  • The Mushroom and Goat Cheese Empanadas may have been my favorite dish of the night - a delicious blend of oyster, porcini, portobello, and button mushrooms tasted heavenly on its own, but also was complemented by the chive aioli served alongside.
  • Patatas Bravas – crispy russet potatoes, spicy red pepper aioli.
Meat and Seafood:

People Lounge Meat and Seafood Plates

Laima was on omnivore duty again, enjoying both the veggie plates but also delving into meat and seafood options.
  • The Sweet Chili Pork Empanadas were equal to the veggie option, ably supported by a belgian beer aioli and apple salsa.
  • The Tostada de Salmon was a surprise, a sort of Spanish bruschetta. Citrus vodka house-cured salmon, chive cream cheese, pickled onions were stacked on toast, and Laima really appreciated the citrus aspect.
  • Nothing remained of the People’s Skirt Steak – braised Wagyu, tomatoes, cornichons, capers, and molten aged manchego were a great way to end the dinner portion on the meal for her.
People Lounge Desserts

Dessert:

Dessert is always exciting, as there is an opportunity to discuss the food, wines, and general impressions, while enjoying coffee, sweets, and a post-prandial drink. Espresso for me, cappucino for Laima, and a port-like Hijos de Anto Barcelo Spanish dessert wine were a great way to end the meal. But there was also chocolate!
  • The spiced chocolate brownie with marcona almonds, house-made mint chocolate chip ice cream and espresso powder was tasty, but unusual, in that it was molten and not firm. I prefer my brownies chewy, but can't deny the flavors were really good.
  • The Pastel de Chocolate (molten chocolate cake) was more in line with what I expected and paired beautifully with another house made sweet cream ice cream. A nice touch is that the ice creams are made with organic milk, something Laima and I both appreciated.
People Lounge offers a $5 tapas menu at the bar from 5-7 p.m. Sunday-Thursday evenings, and people were definitely taking advantage of it while we dined tableside. A late night tapas menu is available on Friday and Saturday nights from 12-1 a.m. People also offers daily dining and drink specials, such as half-priced bottles of wine, artisan tequilas, sangria night and more. Weekend brunch is served Saturday and Sunday.

There was not a single misstep during our dinner. Food was outstanding and varied, wines far-ranging and tasty, service and decor spot-on. For a casual dinner, especially in a larger group, you can't go wrong with tapas, and People Lounge is a great option in Chicago -- I could definitely see us dropping in with friends if we lived in the neighborhood!

More information can be found on the People Lounge website,  by liking on Facebook, and following on Twitter.

Disclaimer: This meal was comped for me for review purposes, courtesy of People Lounge. I was not compensated in any other way for the review, was not obligated to give the restaurant a positive review, and all opinions are my own. Some information in this review was taken from the company website.

Would you like your restaurant reviewed?
Contact me at Kovas@50statesofwine.com!
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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Stone Hill Winery Vidal Blanc

Stone Hill Winery Vidal Blanc

Stone Hill Winery 2011 Vidal Blanc - citrus, green apple, honey notes on nose and palate, some acidity for balance, round mouthfeel and smooth finish.

Disclaimer: This wine was sent to me for review purposes, courtesy of Stone Hill Winery. I was not compensated in any other way for the review, was not obligated to give the wine a positive review, and all opinions are my own.

Would you like your wine reviewed?
Contact me at Kovas@50StatesOfWine.com!

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Monday, November 19, 2012

Meatless Monday: French Onion Soup

French Onion Soup

Recipe adapted from Joy of Cooking:

Heat in soup pot over medium-low heat until butter is melted:
  • 2 Tbs unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • Add and stir to coat:
  • 5 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • Pinch of dried thyme
Cook onions over medium heat, stirring occasionally, watching they don't scorch. As soon as they start to brown (about 15 minutes), reduce heat to medium low and continue to cook, covered, stirring more often, until the onions are a rich brown color (about 40 minutes). Add 2 Tbs dry sherry or cognac. Increase heat to high and cook, stirring constantly until sherry has cooked off. Add 3 1/2 Cups vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, for 20 minutes.

Season with:
  • 1 to 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
 Place 8 ovenproof soup on a baking sheet. Ladle the hot soup into the bowls and top each serving with:
  • 1 to 3 slices French bread, toasted if fresh
 Sprinkle each bowl with:
  • 3 Tbs grated Gruyere
Broil or bake in a 450 degree oven until the cheese is melted and starting to brown. Serve immediately.
This could easily be made vegan by omitting the butter and substituting vegan cheese. The whole family enjoyed it, even the Little Worker and Munchkin. The two older were surprised how well the ingredients (bread, cheese and onions) went together in a soup, and Gaigai is excited to help make it next time.

MMAZ Better With Veggies 

Head over to Better With Veggies to see what else was shared!

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Friday, November 16, 2012

Foodista Drink Blog of the Day

Foodista Drink Blog of the Day

Totally tooting my own horn here! Yesterday, Foodista named 50 States Of Wine as the Drink Blog of the Day, sharing it on Facebook and Twitter! The featured post was this past Meatless Monday's Soy Nog recipe, which is so simple, endlessly customizable, and yummy as an adult drink or for the kids.

Thanks Foodista!

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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Kahlúa and the Holidays

As you dream of sugar plum fairies and gingerbread houses this holiday season, make sure to check out the newly released limited-edition Kahlúa Gingerbread. This new edition to the Kahlúa holiday line – which also includes Kahlúa Peppermint Mocha - is made from 100% Arabica coffee beans and sugarcane spirit with hints of everyone’s favorite festive flavors like gingerbread, nutmeg, cinnamon and clove.

Whether served on its own or mixed into cocktails and coffee drinks, Kahlúa Gingerbread is sure to brighten anyone’s spirit this holiday season. Here’s a bit of inspiration:

Kahlúa Cookie Martini
Kahlúa Cookie Martini
  • ½ part Kahlúa Gingerbread
  • 1 ½ parts Absolut® Vodka
  • Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a cinnamon stick and enjoy.
In the mood for giving? Kahlúa has also teamed up with One Warm Coat this season to support coat drives across the U.S. Those who click the “Share the Warmth” button on Kahlúa’s Facebook app will prompt Kahlúa to donate $1 to One Warm Coat, with a maximum goal of raising $100,000.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Missouri Wines

Missouri Wines Collage

When you think of wine, Missouri probably isn’t first on your mind. That wasn’t always the case. Back in 1870, Missouri, with about 120 wineries, led the nation in wine production. And in 1873, a Missouri wine presented a Norton wine at the Universal Exhibition in Vienna, winning a Medal of Merit, and being one of only three wineries in the U.S. to win such a medal. A dangerous vineyard pest, the phylloxera louse, destroyed enormous tracts of vineyards in France. Missouri helped rebuild the European vineyards by sending phylloxera resistant American rootstock to be grafted with French vine cuttings. The resultant vines proved extremely hardy and soon the French wine industry was back on its feet. Missouri’s wine production was soon eclipsed by the growth of the California wine industry. In the 1960s and 1970s, the rebirth of the commercial wine industry in Missouri began with the restoration of several original wineries. The early pioneers worked hard to regain the former stature of the wine industry amid a slowly changing cultural and regulatory environment. The Missouri wine industry in the new millennium is thriving. The number of wineries has increased and Missouri wineries are producing diverse, complex and sophisticated wines, wines that easily earn top awards in national and international competitions.

Missouri is home to the country's first designated American Viticultural Area (AVA) is a designated wine grape-growing region in the United States distinguishable by geographic features, with boundaries defined by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). The first AVA in the United States was accorded to Augusta, Missouri on June 20, 1980. Napa Valley was the second AVA named after Augusta on February 27, 1981. Other Missouri AVAs include Ozark Mountain, Hermann, and Ozark Highlands.

Missouri Wines Collage

Even though we live relatively close to Missouri, it’s just far enough away that it’s not a casual trip for us, so we were pretty excited that Missouri Wines  was going to round up some samples for us to try. We’ve just started tasting the wines (see my post on the Augusta Winery 2010 Vignoble)  – keep a lookout for all the tasting notes over the next several weeks!

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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Augusta Winery 2010 Vignoles

Augusta Winery 2010 Vignoles

2010 Augusta Winery Vignoles - tropical and stone fruit on nose and palate, with a hint of sweetness and citrus as well. Touch of acidity and a smooth finish.

Disclaimer: This wine was sent to me for review purposes, courtesy of Augusta Winery. I was not compensated in any other way for the review, was not obligated to give the wine a positive review, and all opinions are my own.

Would you like your wine reviewed?
Contact me at Kovas@50StatesOfWine.com!

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Monday, November 12, 2012

Meatless Monday: Soy Nog

Nutmeg was the ingredient today for the Meatless Monday A to Z (over at Better With Veggies), and when I think of nutmeg, I think of egg nog. Here's a quick and easy way to make a vegan version of this classic holiday drink.

Soy Nog

INGREDIENTS:
Soymilk
Extra-firm tofu
Maple Syrup
Vanilla

Spices:
  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg
  • Ground cloves
DIRECTIONS:
Add ingredients to desired sweetness, texture, and amount, adjust spices accordingly. Combine all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Refrigerate before serving.


MMAZ Better With Veggies


We made a few slight adjustments to the recipe, in that we used extra-soft tofu, which is what we had on hand and we did not refrigerate before trying. The nog may have been thinner in consistency versus one made with extra-firm tofu, but tasted great pre-refrigeration, as well as post. Super simple recipe just in time for the holidays!

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Friday, November 9, 2012

2011 La Finca Tempranillo

La Finca Tempranillo

For Tempranillo Day, our second wine was the La Finca 2011. Definitely more fruit forward: blueberry and cherry on the nose, adding cocoa on the palate, smooth finish - nice wine for the price! ($3.99 at our Trader Joe's)

Would you like your wine reviewed?
Contact me at Kovas@50StatesOfWine.com!

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Thursday, November 8, 2012

International Tempranillo Day

International Tempranillo Day


In 2011, Tempranillo Advocates Producers and Amigos Society (TAPAS) organized the first annual International Tempranillo Day: A celebration of the Tempranillo grape with all its regional synonyms. 

Today, November 8th, is the 2012 date.  Open a bottle of Tempranillo, enjoy the fun, and share your experiences online with the hashtag #TempranilloDay!

¡salud!

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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Seccola Frizzante

Seccola Frizzante

Made in Germany with Italian grapes, this Seccola Frizzante is a nice Prosecco alternative from Trader Joe's - light straw color, mango and citrus on both nose and palate, lovely light sparkler, nice acidity and a surprising lingering finish.

Would you like your wine reviewed?
Contact me at Kovas@50StatesOfWine.com! 

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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Day!



It's too late to vote early and often, but it's a great time to exercise our civic duty today and help decide the direction our country will be taking the next 4 years - get out and vote!

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Monday, November 5, 2012

Meatless Monday: Miso Soba Noodle Stew

Miso Soba Noodle Stew

This was supposed to be a soup, but I didn't use enough broth, so it became a stew instead. :)

Ingredients:

Broth
Soba noodles,
Chopped vegetables
Miso paste

Bring broth to a boil, drop in soba noodles for about 3 minutes. While the noodles are boiling (or beforehand if you're organized), get additional ingredients ready. This is a great dish in that you can use anything you have around the kitchen. I added broccoli slaw (from Trader Joe's), homemade seitan, and organic red miso paste. Top with sliced green onions and you're good to go! Nice hearty stew - we ate it after a family run in one of our local forest preserves!

MMAZ Better With Veggies
See more recipes at betterwithveggies.com


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Friday, November 2, 2012

Naked Winery Pinot Noir

Naked Winery 2010 Pinot Noir

Naked Winery 2010 Pinot Noir - slight cherry nose, raspberries and plum on the palate, well-balanced, smooth finish. 100% Rogue Valley pinot noir grapes.

Disclaimer: This wine was sent to me for review purposes, courtesy of Naked Winery. I was not compensated in any other way for the review, was not obligated to give the wine a positive review, and all opinions are my own.

Would you like your wine reviewed?
Contact me at Kovas@50StatesOfWine.com!

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Thursday, November 1, 2012

Under the Tuscan Sun

Tuscany wine

I recently re-watched “Under the Tuscan Sun,” a movie loosely based on Frances Mayes’ memoir of her Impulse purchase, renovation and life in a villa in Tuscany. The book and movie both paint a glorious picture of life in Tuscany, with food and wine as features of the culture well-worth exploring. Of course now I want to move there, again. I can’t afford to buy a second home there, nor would my wife consider a move at this time, but it is possible to rent villas in Tuscany,  so that would be a possibility. Anyone want to comp me some wine travel there? :)
Tuscan wine (Italian Toscana) is Italian wine from the Tuscany region. Located in central Italy along the Tyrrhenian coast, Tuscany is home to some of the world's most notable wine regions. Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano are primarily made with Sangiovese grape whereas the Vernaccia grape is the basis of the white Vernaccia di San Gimignano. Tuscany is also known for the dessert wine Vin Santo, made from a variety of the region's grapes. Tuscany has twenty-nine Denominazioni di origine controllata (DOC) and seven Denominazioni di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG). In the 1970s a new class of wines known in the trade as "Super Tuscans" emerged. These wines were made outside DOC/DOCG regulations but were considered of high quality and commanded high prices. Many of these wines became cult wines. In the reformation of the Italian classification system many of the original Super Tuscans now qualify as DOC or DOCG wines but some producers still prefer the declassified rankings or to use the Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT) classification of Toscana.

(From Wikipedia) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tuscan_wine
If you're like me, you might not be visiting Tuscany any time soon. The next best thing is to open a bottle of Tuscan wine. A top tip for choosing a wine from Tuscany is to know and understand the classification system. The system has three tiers: Vina da Tavola, or table wine, followed by Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT), which denotes a medium-quality wine, and finally, the Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG), generally the highest quality wines. Beyond this classification however, lie the "Super Tuscans," wines that don't fit the mold and allow for further exploration.

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