Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014: A Year in Wine (...and Craft Beer)

Another good year spent drinking tasty wines and craft beers, getting a little travel in and adding varietals to my Wine Century Club list and another state to our 50 States Of Wine project. Besides traveling to drink, many great opportunities presented themselves to us right here in Chicago, truly a great opportunity to taste great libations and meet people from all over the world. Here are a few of the highlights.

Wine video of Noboleis and Montelle

In conjunction with a trip to St Louis, we also got the chance to visit a few Missouri wineries, making this our 6th state since we started keeping track again.

Provence in the City 2014 - Chicago

What better, in winter with the cold and snow, than to attend the Provence in the City 2014 - Chicago, and imagine myself beachside, sipping dry Rosé? Though slightly crowded, the Pump Room restaurant was a classic and classy place to hold this wine tasting. While we were uncertain where to get started, it turned out that it didn't matter - the Provencal winemakers are a friendly bunch, and held to strict standards in the production of Rosé, so every wine was pretty much amazing.

Michigan Wine Showcase

We were so excited that the wineries of Michigan were coming to the City Winery in Chicago. While we've tasted quite a bit of wine from the Southwest corner of the state, we've not had many chances to try those further from home. Having them come to us was quite a treat. With more than 20 wineries represented, each pouring at least 4 wines, there was the possibility of over-doing it, so we decided to divide and conquer, limiting our tasting to Pinot Noir, rosés and sparklers. It's both a blessing and a curse to have so much to choose from, because we missed some wines we really wanted to try.

#NZSipsChicago

You might find a nicer group of winemakers, but I doubt it. Walking into the bar of Brixen Ivy, a rooftop restaurant built specifically to watch the Chicago Cubs, we were approached immediately by the vintners, introductions soon followed by glasses of sparkling wine in our hands (yes, NZ has sparkling wine!). This was the beginning of two days spent in the company of the Kiwis, courtesy of Complexity, a group dedicated to getting the word out on how great New Zealand wines are. The next day we met up again in more formal circumstances, sitting down for a masterclass at Rebar, a beautiful bar overlooking the river in the Trump Chicago Hotel. The focus of the class was to demonstrate the ageability of New Zealand wines. Aging? New Zealand wines? I had honestly never considered it.

Beer Camp Across America - Midwest Edition

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. invited every craft brewery in the country – more than 2,700 – to take part in a multi-weekend traveling beer festival this summer. Beer Camp Across America is a celebration for the entire craft beer community, bringing together brewers and the fans who have buoyed their success. The Midwest Edition took place on July 27th, on Navy Pier, under a full sun and blue skies. Partly indoors, partly outside, this was a well-designed event that, while crowded, never felt uncomfortable. It was awesome to be able to walk in and out as desired. Food trucks parked at the end of the Pier offered lunch with a view and plenty of opportunities to try a variety of beer and food pairings. As always, too many beers to drink, so much good stuff had to be bypassed in the name of health.

Berghoff Taste of Oktoberfest

An invitation to the The Berghoff's media preview of their Taste of Oktoberfest menu was a no-brainer. I work nearby and stop in occasionally for lunch at this true Chicago classic. Why wouldn't I want the opportunity to preview Chicago's largest, longest-running Oktoberfest celebration - Berghoff Beer and good food, can't be beat. Good food and good beers, great combination.

United Wines of Veneto Master Class

I was doubly excited to attend the United Wines of Veneto Master Class last week. One, I love the wines from that area (a Soave Master Class some time ago was another recent highlight). Two, I'd never visited the venue, Eataly Chicago, where the seminar was being held. 8 consortiums, 8 wines, with 3 small bites to accompany - sounded pretty good.

Pretty great year, and this does not include all the virtual wine tastings I participated in this year, from Lodi Old Vine Zins to saké to wines from Uruguay, it was an unbelievable year for tasting some amazing things, often paired with fun and/or unusual foods. Here's hoping your 2015 is full of good food, good drinks, and good people to share it with!

Like 50 States Of Wine on Facebook
Follow 50 States Of Wine on Twitter
Subscribe to the 50 States Of Wine YouTube channel

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

New Year's Sparklers from Oregon, Spain, and Italy

New Year's Sparkling Wines

Don't limit yourself to sparkling wines from France (Champagne or otherwise) as you ring in the New Year! Wonderful sparklers are available from Oregon (yes, Oregon), Spain, and Italy - there is sure to be one that both fits your palate and your checkbook.

I was really excited to get samples from Oregon's Kramer Vineyards, because any place that makes great Pinot Noir and Chardonnay like Oregon should also be able to make great sparkling wine (not that sparkling wine needs to be made from those 2 grapes, but you get the idea). In fact, the wines I tasted have neither of those grapes, and are still fantastic.
2013 Celebrate Pinot Gris: grapes hand harvested from 27 year old vines; whole cluster pressed; fermented in stainless steel and aged sur lie for 5 months; bubbles added though a diffusion stone; pear, kiwi, and citrus aromas; pear, white floral, and melon flavors into a mineral finish; plentiful bubbles; 12.5% ABV; cork closure; 99 cases produced; SRP $22.
2013 Celebrate Müller-Thurgau: grapes hand harvested; whole cluster pressed; fermented in stainless steel and aged sur lie for 5 months; bubbles added though a diffusion stone; tropical, citrus blossom, lychee and stone fruit aromas; pear, stone fruit, and starfruit flavors; smooth mouthfeel with bubbles coming on late; tart, almost sour finish; 11% ABV; cork closure; 325 cases produced; SRP $22.
Sparkling Moscato
Mia Moscato is available in regular and mini single-serve bottles and this slightly sweet wine is fun to drink on its own or pairs well with pretty much every food. Fermented in stainless steel; 7% ABV. Pack a few bottles of this, along with a lunch, and enjoy an al fresco winter picnic.
Prosecco
New Year's Resolutions? VOVETI Prosecco, whose name has origins in the Latin word “voveo” (to vow), is the perfect choice to toast to new resolutions, and the year to come. Hand picked, whole berry pressed grapes; fermented in stainless then aged sur lie; honey and floral aromas lead into green apple, melon and stone fruit flavors, with small, long-lasting bubbles; 11% ABV; cork closure.
Cava
The “Black Bottle Bubbly,” Cordon Negro Brut, is the classic Freixenet Cava, sure to please every one's palate. For something a little different, mix their Sweet Cuvée (lower acidity) with orange juice for a mighty tasty Mimosa. 35% Macabeo, 25% Xarel-lo, 40% Parellada grapes; stone fruit and subtle citrus aromas; tropical and stone fruit flavors; 12% ABV; cork closure.

Segura Viudas Reserva Heredad is a Spanish Cava made in the traditional méthode champenoise. The pewter-embellished bottle bears the crest of the Segura Viudas family, and houses the estate’s top cuvée. Hand harvested grapes (67% Macabeo, 33% Parellada); 9 wines vinified in stainless feel; aged sur lie for 30+ months; yeasty, with a touch of honey and stone fruit; 12% ABV; cork closure. The only thing more festive than this bottle of cava is a magnum of it - something about large-format bottles really feels luxurious!
So go ahead and open that bottle of Champagne if you want, but know there is a whole other world of sparklers out there just clamoring for your attention. All these bottles are food-friendly, pocketbook-friendly, and will cheer you and your guests not only New Year's Eve, but the next morning's brunch as well.

Cheers - Happy New Year!

Wines were provided as media samples - all opinions are my own.

Like 50 States Of Wine on Facebook
Follow 50 States Of Wine on Twitter
Subscribe to the 50 States Of Wine YouTube channel

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Turkish Wines

Every time I think I have even the smallest handle on some infinitesimal part of the wine world, something comes along that shows me just how more is out there. In this case, Turkish wines. I'm not sure why Turkish wines haven't come across my radar beyond being mere blips, but it turns out that Turkey is (according to some sources) the fourth largest wine grape producer in the world. Huh? Why are they not better known then? Shane Rai of VinoRai is out to change that. Founded in 2012, VinoRai is a fine wine importer that is focused on emerging wine regions, with exclusive rights to represent Turkey’s finest wineries.

The Turkish wine renaissance continues its momentum in the U.S. with the introduction of four new and distinctive wines by VinoRai, national importer of quality Turkish wines. Shane provided me with samples from two wineries who are working with both indigenous and international varieties. Located in Cappadocia, Turasan has been owned and operated by three generations of the family spanning 70 years. The Turasan family is the region’s first modern wine-making family, where wine-making history and tradition goes back 7,000 years to the Hittites and Byzantines. Diren is located in Tokat, Mid-Eastern Anatolia, a region famous for its unique white Narince grape, and was established in 1958. It is well respected for its focus and excellence in producing wines from regional indigenous varietals.

Turkish Wines

Tasting Notes
2013 Turasan Emir: vinified in stainless then aged sur lie in stainless for 6 months; light straw color; citrus, orchard fruit, floral, and fennel aromas; citrus, floral, orchard fruit, and mineral flavors; 13.5% ABV; agglomerate cork; 20,000 bottles produced; SRP $14.

2012 Diren Öküzgözü: 85% Öküzgözü, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon; vinified in stainless steel; aged  1.5 years in stainless; dark garnet with ruby edges; dark cherry, pomegranate, plum, and spice aromas; stewed plum, red berry, forest and herb flavors; typically a high acid grape, this is very smooth and balanced; luscious mouthfeel; 13.3% ABV; cork closure; 1,000 cases produced; SRP $15.

2011 Diren Karmena Red: Öküzgözü, Boğazkere, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Merlot; vinified in stainless steel; aged 12 months in French oak, then 1.5 years in stainless; sparkling ruby red color; cassis, dark cherry, and green pepper aromas; rhubarb, smoke, red berry and herbal flavors; light bodied, balanced, with a tannic finish; 13.5% ABV; cork closure; 2,500 cases produced; SRP $13.
These are truly one of a kind wines, both in flavor and in texture. Pleasant on their own, these wines exhibit more characteristics when paired with a variety of food - these wines would be great at any special occasion, when their quality and uniqueness will have your guests amazed they are drinking wines from Turkey. Also, if you're interested in new varietals, these three bottles afford three new entries into your Wine Century Club list.

Wines provided for review purposes - all opinions are my own.

Like 50 States Of Wine on Facebook
Follow 50 States Of Wine on Twitter
Subscribe to the 50 States Of Wine YouTube channel

Thursday, December 18, 2014

2014 Holiday Gift Guide

Holidays are a great time, not just because often people are more cheerful, but also because we get and receive presents! From this year, here are some things that have made me happy and that I can suggest with the knowledge that the recipient of one of these gifts will be overjoyed.

Mionetto Prosecco

This has been my year for Prosecco (and I'm not alone). One brand you can't go wrong with is Mionetto Prosecco. Founded in 1887 by Francesco Mionetto in the small village of Valdobbiadene, Mionetto has an established reputation for quality, tradition and innovation. One thing I really appreciate is that quality extends across all their price points - these are great QPR! Add in that they have an organic Prosecco (hooray!) and I'm one happy sipper.

World Vision Prosperity Cinnamon

What's a better gift than helping someone in need? Donate to World Vision, they'll help someone in need, and you'll receive a gift to commemorate your action. You could help out a family and receive Prosperity Cinnamon: Each beautifully-carved cinnamon bark box contains 3 oz. of cinnamon and bears a common Asian character for prosperity. Vietnam's renowned sweet cinnamon is a renewable resource collected from the Cassia tree, sold to benefit generations of hard-working families. Not interested in cinnamon? Plenty of other options to choose from.


The Joseph Carr Winery in California works with small growers, coopers, and winemakers making tasty wines from across California, including Napa Valley, Sonoma, and Mendocino Counties and the Central Coast. Josh Cellars is Joseph Carr’s ‘Vin de Garage’ project, named in honor of his father. Josh Cellars doesn't just honor Carr's father, but actively supports our heroes through organizations like Operation Homefront and the Gary Sinise Foundation - drink wine and help others, a great combination!



Wine Bloggers Conference 2014

"The Wine Bloggers Conference Scholarship was founded in 2009 to provide well established “citizen bloggers” with a stipend so they can attend the wine bloggers conference, further their knowledge, their network, the wine blogging community and the wine industry as a whole." I was a recipient of a Wine Bloggers Conference Scholarship in 2013 and it was an amazing experience! I met so many people I'd only read before, was inspired to continue the blog, and traveled to a far off wine destination I didn't know existed and probably wouldn't have visited otherwise. That's where you come in - DONATE to the fund and send a blogger to the Conference. Even if we don't end up being chosen, from my experience last year I know it's an amazing opportunity, but it only happens from generous donors. Donate what you can - in previous years Tom Wark (Fermentation) and Amy Gross (VineSleuth) each matched donations, which was a huge boon. Every little bit helps.

Lodi Native Project

One of the coolest wine experiences of the year was tasting 6 Zinfandels from the The Lodi Native Project. This is a collaborative vision, with 6 winegrowers from the Lodi Wine Mokelumne River sub-AVA. The spotlight is on the region’s heritage plantings – minimalist winemaking, native yeasts, and no new oak. The initial focus has been on Zinfandel, though discussions are underway on other possibilities. Buying this 6 pack of wine will make any Old Vine Zin lover swoon and everybody else gain an appreciation for these wines.


Underground Cellar is a wine club, but not a wine club. Join for free, no monthly dues, yup, not a wine club. Underground Cellar offers limited-time deals on wines in an unusual way: pay one price, get wines of varying values. A twist is that every bottle of wine you order is eligible for a free random upgrade to a higher quality bottle of wine. If you're an active member and get lots of friends to join Underground Cellar, you have a better chance of getting an upgraded bottle of wine in your shipment.

2014 Chicago Food Bloggers Gift Guide

Need even more ideas? Check out the 2014 Chicago Food Bloggers Gift Guide!

Like 50 States Of Wine on Facebook
Follow 50 States Of Wine on Twitter
Subscribe to the 50 States Of Wine YouTube channel

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Bareburger, Columbus

I try to eat healthy every day, to the fullest extent possible. When I travel, I really make an effort, though, to be honest, it's pretty tough to find restaurants that really care within a reasonable distance. I was excited to discover Columbus' Bareburger, which was walking distance to my hotel. All of Bareburger's organic and all-natural, free-range meats are grass-fed and pasture raised. They also source organically grown fruits and vegetables. Right up my alley!

Bare Burger Columbus

They have other things on the menu, but if you're going to a place with burger in the name, why would you order anything else? Decently sized, they can be ordered on a variety of breads or as a "salad" topping (one suggestion to them would be to chop both the lettuce underneath and on top if someone doesn't order bread - would have made it a LOT easier to eat everything together). They also carry local craft beers, which is my go-to if there aren't local wines or if beer would go better with the meal.  In this case it was definitely the right choice. I don't often eat onion rings anymore, but these are worth ordering for sure, as are the sweet potato fries. Order the Supreme and you'll get both as toppings. For dessert, the flour less chocolate cake was really tasty, but the cherry compote on the side elevated it well beyond others I've tried.

Bare Burger Columbus

The restaurant sits in what appears to be an old space, with tall ceilings of pressed tin (or a facsimile). It's comfortable, with tables, booths, and bar stools for sitting.
"Almost everything in our Bareburger restaurants are built from a sustainable and reclaimed material. The tabletops are crafted from trees felled by storms. Our booths are made from recycled, post consumer vinyl. Our ceilings are paneled with reclaimed tin siding from deconstructed barns. Most of our takeout products are made with plant resin or recycled paper products, and all of them (even the bags) are biodegradable. We are proud the animals that supply our meat have been treated humanely and with respect.
Bareburger is a chain with locations in New York, Philadelphia, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Ohio. If I find myself in any of those locations, Bareburger will be an option I'll definitely search out.

Bareburger on Urbanspoon

Like 50 States Of Wine on Facebook
Follow 50 States Of Wine on Twitter
Subscribe to the 50 States Of Wine YouTube channel

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Windows on the World Complete Wine Course

Windows on the World Complete Wine Course

Almost 30 years ago, when I first became interested in wine, there were not a lot of wine books around, especially for a complete neophyte like myself. Like many others, I turned to Kevin Zraly's Windows on the World Complete Wine Course (2014, Sterling Epicure), not only reading the book for education, but also dreaming of eating in the restaurant stop the World Trade Center. Alas, the horrific events of 9/11 made that dream unreachable.

With the World Trade Centers Memorial opening this year, Zraly created a special 30th Anniversary Edition of his resourceful tome, updating it with newer information and adding a special section in remembrance of that famous restaurant, Windows on the World.

Chock full of useful information, maps, labels, and so much more, this book deserves a place in your wine library. If you own it, consider giving this as a gift to one who doesn't, especially a beginning wine enthusiast, who would certainly spend many pleasant hours tipping a glass and turning these pages.

This book was provided for review purposes - all opinions are my own.

Like 50 States Of Wine on Facebook
Follow 50 States Of Wine on Twitter
Subscribe to the 50 States Of Wine YouTube channel

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Wines of Uruguay Tasting Tour

This summer, I was invited to, but missed, the Wines of Uruguay tasting tour. Happily, the good folks at Charles Communications sent me some wines to taste after the fact. It’s taken us some time to taste through the selections, red and white, but haste makes waste, and we definitely wanted to give these wines their due.

Wines of Uruguay Tasting Tour

Uruguay is located in the same latitudes as winegrowing regions in Argentina, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. Producing 10 million cases of wine annually (from i22,000 acres of vines). Uruguayan wine is not well-known for its wines internationally, due to the fact that 95% of the wine is consumed domestically.

Many Uruguayan vineyards are small in size, allowing careful attention both during the growing season, when many are dry farmed, through to the harvest, when many of the grapes are picked by hand. When I think of Uruguayan wines, I think of Tannat. since the country is the world’s largest producer of Tannat with approximately 7,200 acres planted. Red varietals make up the bulk of plantings, with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon the most popular after Tannat. Other reds include Cabernet Franc,Tempranillo, Syrah, Zinfandel, Petit Verdot, Sangiovese, Pinot Noir, Nebbiolo, and Marselan. Though not as commonly planted, white varietals include Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Semillón, with Viognier, Albariño, Petit Manseng, and Roussanne also represented.

After having tasted a few wines at the 2013 Wine Bloggers Conference, I had hoped to get a chance to taste more, so this was an amazing opportunity. Having tasted through the dozen bottles sent to us, I can see that a lot more tasting is in order. From those two sampling opportunities, I can say a few generalities about Uruguayan wines. The reds show plenty of dark fruit, forest and earth components, with flashes of both dark and red berries. There are plenty of tannins, though usually soft and integrated, so these reds drink respectably now and should reward cellaring for a few years or more. In either case, I highly recommend decanting these wines to allow them to open more quickly. If you haven't had the opportunity to taste wines of Uruguay, they are well worth searching out for their unique qualities and good taste.

For more information on the wineries represented on the tour, check out the Wines of Uruguay tour website.

Wines provided for tasting purposes - all opinions are my own.

Founded in 2003, Charles Communications Associates, LLC is an independent creative marketing communications and public relations firm based in San Francisco, California, that helps local and global companies create, build and launch brands.

Like 50 States Of Wine on Facebook
Follow 50 States Of Wine on Twitter
Subscribe to the 50 States Of Wine YouTube channel

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

United Wines of Veneto Master Class

I was doubly excited to attend the United Wines of Veneto Master Class last week. One, I love the wines from that area (a Soave Master Class some time ago was another recent highlight). Two, I'd never visited the venue, Eataly Chicago, where the seminar was being held. 8 consortiums, 8 wines, with 3 small bites to accompany - sounded pretty good.

United Wines of Veneto Master Class

First off, Eataly. This is a huge place, but totally unlike I had imagined. Kind of antiseptic, really, and holy cow, expensive. That being said, it's a good location for this sort of thing, the service was quite good, and the food made in-house was really tasty.

The wines were served in 3 flights: sparklers, still white wines, and then reds. The 3 sparkling wines were served with a "Fruco con Crudo di Salmone" (salmon tartare), so I missed out on that pairing as I can't abide seafood. The wines were quite good though, lots of citrus, tropical notes, and endless small bubbles. The 3 white wines were served with "Risotto al Raddichio," one of the best risottos I've ever had, no small feat when making enough for a crowd that large. More tropical, stone fruit, floral, and citrus goodness. The 2 reds were paired with a "Polpettine Veneziane," an unusual meatball that had a strange texture due to the inclusion of mashed potatoes. A lemon zest component kept things interesting, though. The reds had so many fruit components it was hard to take notes, one note after another rolling over the palate - outstanding.

United Wines of Veneto Master Class

Beyond the tasty wine and food pairings, this tasting also added 9 new varietals to my Wine Century Club Doppel list - new grapes are always a good thing.

This tasting was provided for review purposes - all opinions are my own.

Like 50 States Of Wine on Facebook
Follow 50 States Of Wine on Twitter
Subscribe to the 50 States Of Wine YouTube channel

Thursday, December 4, 2014

VAWineChat: Fabbioli Cellars

Several weeks ago, we gathered both virtually and in situ (for the lucky ones), to taste the wines of Doug Fabbioli and to hear his thoughts on the state of winemaking in Loudoun County, Virginia.

VAWinechat: Fabbioli Cellars

Fabbioli Cellars is a small, family owned and operated vineyard and winery that focuses on growing and making high quality wines using traditional methods and 21st century knowledge. The vineyard was originally planted in 2001, on a 25 acre parcel in the southern Lucketts area, just north of Leesburg in Loudoun County. Fabbioli makes wines from both hybrid and vinifera grapes.

"Real people. Earth friendly. Fabulous wines."

Tasting Notes:
2012 Cabernet Franc: hand harvested grapes with 80% Cabernet Franc, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Petit Verdot, 5% Tannat; aged 11 months in Hungarian and American oak; dark ruby red color; cherry, cassis, and vanilla aromas; pomegranate, tea, cranberry, cherry and baking spice flavors; 13.2% ABV; synthetic cork closure; 447 cases produced; SRP $24.
2012 Tannat: 75% Tannat, 19% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Petit Verdot; aged 20 months in American, Virginian, and Pennsylvanian oak; cherry,  cedar, vanilla, and spice aromas; dark and bright red fruit, vanilla, earth, and spice flavors; plenty of tannins for this wine to improve in the cellar; 13.7% ABV; cork closure; 174 cases produced; SRP $45.
NV Pear Wine: Asian, Bosc, Bartlett pears; fermented, portion is distilled into pear brandy, then new vintage is added to a solera system of French oak barrels, established 2009; butterscotch, tone fruit, vanilla, and pears (!) on the nose; pears, ginger, and vanilla flavors; sweet but balanced, not cloying; 17.2% ABV; 93 cases produced; SRP $35.
These wines were provided for tasting purposes - all opinions are my own.

December's #VAWineChat will feature 4 wines from Trump Winery - join in on December 11th at 7:30 PM ET via Twitter and UStream.

Like 50 States Of Wine on Facebook
Follow 50 States Of Wine on Twitter
Subscribe to the 50 States Of Wine YouTube channel

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Wine That's Fun

It's easy to get caught up in the serious side of wine, drinking only top flight wines and bemoaning the fools with their Two Buck Chuck. I'm actually not one of those wine enthusiasts, enjoying my Charles Shaw on occasion (it ranges from sublime to ridiculous, depending on the bottling). While I'm not comparing these as equal experiences, sometimes it's okay to find the fun and humor in wine, for it to be about enjoying what's in the glass and not thinking too much about it. Lately, I've been receiving wine samples that fall along this end of the spectrum. Here are a few of them.

Fun Wines

2012 Downton Abbey Bordeaux Claret - I'll admit off the bat that I've never seen this show, nor wanted to, though I was a huge fan of Masterpiece Theater growing up and it should be right up my alley. This Bordeaux blend, made up of 70% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Malbec grapes sourced from the Entre-Deux-Mers region in France is a nice, simple blend. Earth and bright berry aromas lead into a dark fruit and forest floor palate, well-balanced and easy to drink. Okay on its own, better with food. At a SRP of $17, this is a decent buy. Cork closure and 13% ABV.

Stack Wines is a bottle of wine separated into four unbreakable, stemless wine "glasses." Each is 187ml of wine and available in Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Red Blend. I received the Chardonnay and the Red Blend and was amazed at how light each 4 pack was. The plastic cover keeps the glasses together, along with each glass being stuck to the one(s) next to it. The wines were decent, on the sweeter side for my palate, and, at a SRP of $13, not bad for a bottle of wine that is so portable. Stack Wines are ideal for picnics, hiking, or camping.

Fifty Shades of Grey Red Satin: Primarily Petite Sirah and Syrah; aged in a combination of new and neutral French oak barrels; dark fruit, vanilla, and spice aromas; cherry, cocoa, vanilla, and spice flavors; 13.5% ABV; cork closure; SRP $18.

VOGA Italia's Red Fusion: 65% Zinfandel and 35% Cabernet Sauvignon; earth, dark fruit, and subtle floral aromas;  dark berry, cherry, bright red fruit, and floral flavors; plenty of tannins mean a dry finish; twist-off closure; SRP $12. I'll admit the packaging was off-putting to me, as the bottle resembles a can of hair spray, in my opinion (maybe I'm just showing my age).

So I promise you some people will look down on these wines as gimmicks or unworthy of your attention, but sometimes wine should just be fun, and these wines fit the bill.

These wines were received for review purposes - all opinions are my own.

Like 50 States Of Wine on Facebook
Follow 50 States Of Wine on Twitter
Subscribe to the 50 States Of Wine YouTube channel

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

WineStudio: Willamette Valley Chardonnays (Week IV)

The Importance of Being a Willamette Valley Chardonnay
#WineStudio Tuesdays 6:00pm – 7:00pm PDT

When you think of the Willamette Valley (it's Willamette, dammit!), you probably think of world-class Pinot Noir, and you wouldn't be wrong. With 11,053 acres planted, fabulous Pinots come out every vintage, year after year. But the Valley has a lighter side as well, with over 3,400 acres of white grape varietals planted, 684 of which are Chardonnay. Yes, Chardonnay. The November WineStudio gets into the Chardonnay renaissance in Oregon, specifically the Willamette Valley, citing terroir, sustainability, biodynamics, philosophy, adventure and the future of Oregon Chardonnay.

Westrey 2012 Willamette Valley Chardonnay

Amy and David of the Westrey Wine Company strive to grow their grapes and make their wines sustainably; the vineyard is LIVE certified, a credential that is earned by taking into account not only organic approaches to farming but also by considering the inputs and outputs of the farm as a whole. They make Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay with fruit sources from long-time friends in the Willamette Valley and their own Oracle Vineyard in the Dundee Hills. Vineyard-designated bottlings are designed to showcase the connection between the individual farms where the grapes are grown and the final personality of the wine. Westrey wines are styled to showcase fruit in a context of balanced texture, acidity and alcohol, and grapes are harvested at the peak of balance between acidity and ripe flavors.

Tasting Notes

2012 Willamette Valley Reserve Chardonnay
Grapes from non-irrigated 35-year-old Draper vines in their Oracle Vineyard; six month extended fermentation, including complete malolactic fermentation; aged in one new barrel and two one-year-old French oak barrels; bottled without filtration after 12 months; beautiful golden straw color; orchard fruit, subtle floral and spice aromas; stone fruit, pear, subtle citrus, vanilla, yeast, and stone flavors; rich mounthfeel wrapped around an acid spine; surprisingly short finish; 12.9% ABV; cork closure; 142 cases and 4 cases of magnums produced; SRP $32. This wine really opened up as it warmed up, constantly evolving and displaying new attributes. Stood up to spicy chicken drumsticks, which wasn't an obvious pairing but still worked out okay.
PROTOCOL #WineStudio presents an online twitter-based educational program where we engage our brains and palates! It’s part instruction and tasting, with discussions on producers, varieties, tourism, terroir, regional culture, food matching and what all this means to us as imbibers.

December's #WineStudio, Session XIX – Bubbles, starts tonight December 2, and runs Tuesdays at 9:00 PM ET until December 16. Join in the fun!

Wine was provided for tasting purposes - all opinions are my own.

Like 50 States Of Wine on Facebook
Follow 50 States Of Wine on Twitter
Subscribe to the 50 States Of Wine YouTube channel

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving Leftovers and Wine

Last year, I wrote three posts about using leftover turkey to make recipes that would go well with wines. The posts were very popular, so I present the links again, for your continued enjoyment.

2012 Meiomi Pinot Noir

Follow the link to find the recipe for Sweet and Savory Holiday Pizza, along with suggested wine pairings. The potatoes and cranberries are unusual pizza toppings that add depth of flavor along with some interesting contrasts to wines you might pair.

Turkey Leftover Wine Pairings: Po' Boys and Conundrum Wines White

This recipe is for Holiday Turkey Po' Boys, paired with a variety of wines. The buns are somewhat key, but it's the slaw that makes these sandwiches - our family still makes the slaw as a side for many meals.

Turkey Leftover Wine Pairings: Turkey Panini with Conundrum Wines Red

This recipe for Holiday Turkey Panini, is a great update on you favorite grilled cheese. The celery adds a welcome crunch, while the bacon makes this much more savory than a typical cheese sandwich. Yum!

While these sandwiches make sense in the days following the holiday, we've made them at other times as well, 3 really great recipes that make most people very, very happy. These recipes were originally provided by the Wagner Family of Wine.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Like 50 States Of Wine on Facebook
Follow 50 States Of Wine on Twitter
Subscribe to the 50 States Of Wine YouTube channel

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Non-Traditional Holiday Sparklers

It used to be automatic that for the holidays (and pretty much all celebrations), we all turned to the sparkling wines of Champagne. Then Cava came on the scene, California started making more (and stopped calling it "Champagne"), and Prosecco slaked the celebratory thirst of those with a more Italian bent. Pretty soon it wasn't that much about Champagne, and more about the bubbly. There are still those that say a true celebration involves Champagne, but I'm not one of them (though some vintage Champagnes have no comparison that I'm aware of, maybe some California sparklers I've not been privy to). If you are one of those who believe a celebration means Champagne, here are a few non-traditional sparklers to explore.

Non-Traditional Holiday Sparklers

Cava

Segura Viudas Reserva Heredad is a Spanish Cava made in the traditional méthode champenoise. The pewter-embellished bottle bears the crest of the Segura Viudas family, and houses the estate’s top cuvée. Yeasty, with a touch of honey and stone fruit.

The “Black Bottle Bubbly,” Cordon Negro Brut, is the classic Freixenet Cava, sure to please everyone's palate. For something a little different, mix their Sweet Cuvée (lower acidity) with orange juice for a mighty tasty Mimosa.

Prosecco

New Year's Resolutions? VOVETI Prosecco, whose name has origins in the Latin word “voveo” (to vow), is the perfect choice to toast to new resolutions, and the year to come. Honey and floral aromas lead into green apple, melon and stone fruit flavors, with small, long-lasting bubbles.

Astoria “Lounge”Prosecco – Prosecco D.O.C. Extra Dry: floral and orchard fruit aromas with more of the same flavors, with refreshing and never-ending bubbles to lift the palate.

La Gioiosa Prosecco DOC Treviso Spumante – Prosecco D.O.C.: made with 100% Glera grapes, this sparkler has pear, melon, and floral aromas and flavors. Serve as an aperitif and with light foods.

Much like Cava, Prosecco plays well with others - here are a few recipes for mixed Prosecco cocktails:
Aperol Spritz:
  • 3 oz. Prosecco DOC
  • 2 oz. Aperol
  • 1 splash of club soda
  • Orange slice, for garnish
Fill a large glass with ice. Fill the glass halfway with Prosecco. Then, add the two shots of Aperol. Top off with a splash of club soda and garnish with an orange slice.
Sgroppino:
  • 1/3 cup lemon sorbet
  • 3 oz. Prosecco DOC
  • 1 oz. vodka
Fill each glass with 3 oz. Prosecco and 1 oz. vodka. Scoop the lemon sorbet into the glass and serve immediately.
Sparkling Moscato

Mia Moscato is available in mini single-serve bottles and this slightly sweet wine is fun to drink on its own or pairs well with pretty much every food. Pack a six pack of these, along with a lunch, and enjoy an al fresco winter picnic.

There you have it, sparklers to meet every occasion and every palate - go out and explore!

(Wines provided for review purposes, all opinions are my own.)

Like 50 States Of Wine on Facebook
Follow 50 States Of Wine on Twitter
Subscribe to the 50 States Of Wine YouTube channel

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

WineStudio: Willamette Valley Chardonnays (Week III)

The Importance of Being a Willamette Valley Chardonnay
#WineStudio Tuesdays 6:00pm – 7:00pm PDT

When you think of the Willamette Valley (it's Willamette, dammit!), you probably think of world-class Pinot Noir, and you wouldn't be wrong. With 11,053 acres planted, fabulous Pinots come out every vintage, year after year. But the Valley has a lighter side as well, with over 3,400 acres of white grape varietals planted, 684 of which are Chardonnay. Yes, Chardonnay. The November WineStudio gets into the Chardonnay renaissance in Oregon, specifically the Willamette Valley, citing terroir, sustainability, biodynamics, philosophy, adventure and the future of Oregon Chardonnay.

Omero Cellars Chardonnay

The week's wines were from Omero Cellars. Established in 2009, a small family owned vineyard and winery, Omero Cellars' estate vineyard is comprised of 26 acres located in the heart of the Ribbon Ridge AVA - the smallest American Viticultural Area in Oregon at only 3.5 miles long and 1.75 miles wide.
"The goal with every vintage has been and will be to understand the textures, flavors, scents and behaviors of the fruit that we farm and through minimal intervention, allow the wines to express their sense of place while maintaining elegance and balance."
Tasting Notes:
2012 Willamette Valley - Aged 10 months in French oak; white flower, apricot, and spice aromas; flavor profile follows along with aromas with an added minerality; 13.1% ABV; cork closure; 275 cases produced; SRP $38.
2012 Extended Elevage - Aged 16 months; green apple, stone fruit, and cedar (?) aromas; apple, citrus, spice, and subtle yeast flavors; rich mouthfeel; 12.5% ABV; cork closure; 75 cases produced; SRP $58. Wineries suggested pairing is dark chocolate goat cheese truffles and rosemary sea salt.
PROTOCOL #WineStudio presents an online twitter-based educational program where we engage our brains and palates! It’s part instruction and tasting, with discussions on producers, varieties, tourism, terroir, regional culture, food matching and what all this means to us as imbibers.

Wines were provided for tasting purposes - all opinions are my own.

Like 50 States Of Wine on Facebook
Follow 50 States Of Wine on Twitter
Subscribe to the 50 States Of Wine YouTube channel

Thursday, November 20, 2014

WineStudio: Willamette Valley Chardonnays (Week II)

The Importance of Being a Willamette Valley Chardonnay
#WineStudio Tuesdays 6:00pm – 7:00pm PDT

When you think of the Willamette Valley (it's Willamette, dammit!), you probably think of world-class Pinot Noir, and you wouldn't be wrong. With 11,053 acres planted, fabulous Pinots come out every vintage, year after year. But the Valley has a lighter side as well, with over 3,400 acres of white grape varietals planted, 684 of which are Chardonnay. Yes, Chardonnay. The November WineStudio gets into the Chardonnay renaissance in Oregon, specifically the Willamette Valley, citing terroir, sustainability, biodynamics, philosophy, adventure and the future of Oregon Chardonnay.

#WineStudio Oregon Chardonnays

Week 2 brought J.K. Carriere, as well as Matello Wines and Goodfellow Family Cellars, both helmed by proprietor and winemaker Marcus Goodfellow (clearly a man with a sense of humor: Matello (rhymes with cello) is an Italian word meaning "little fool").

Tasting Notes:
J.K. Carriere 2012 Lucidité Willamette Valley Chardonnay:  100% whole cluster pressed; barrel aged on its lees for 18 months in older French oak barrels; pale gold color; apple, citrus, and mineral aromas; green apple, pear, spice, citrus and stone flavors; 13.5% ABV; cork closure; 220 cases produced; SRP $32. I agree with Jim Prosser's quote on this wine: “A surfboard of ripe getting rolled by a wave of acid!”
Goodfellow Family 2012 Whistling Ridge Vineyards Chardonnay: Aged for 20 months in 100% French oak, 50% new; apple, pear, and spice aromas; apple, pear, stone fruit, citrus and spice flavors;    14.1% ABV; 80 cases produced; SRP $36.
Matello Wines 2012 Durant Vineyards Chardonnay: Sourced from non-irrigated vineyards; aged 15 months in French oak, 30% new; pale gold color; stone fruit, citrus, mineral, and sweet honey aromas; stone fruit, green apple, spice and stone flavors; 13.5% ABV; 150 cases produced; SRP $29.
Another week of highly tasty Chardonnays from Oregon. Pinot Noir, watch out.

PROTOCOL #WineStudio presents an online twitter-based educational program where we engage our brains and palates! It’s part instruction and tasting, with discussions on producers, varieties, tourism, terroir, regional culture, food matching and what all this means to us as imbibers.

Wines were provided for tasting purposes - all opinions are my own.

Like 50 States Of Wine on Facebook
Follow 50 States Of Wine on Twitter
Subscribe to the 50 States Of Wine YouTube channel

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

What Do You Know About English Wine?

If you're like me, absolutely nothing. I think of England as cold, damp, and more fit for sheep than grapevines. With climate change, education, and improvements in winegrowing, however, things have changed in a big way. There are now over 400 vineyards in England and Wales covering some 3,500 acres and producing sparkling and still wines. The English Wine Producers website lists 21 white varietals and 7 reds, mostly hybrids, but also including the ubiquitous Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

Beginners Guide to UK Wine

This infographic, created by Warner Leisure Hotels, contains a map of the UK’s most notable vineyards, as well as some fun and exciting facts about the English Wine Industry. It's a nice basic intro and should certainly whet every one's appetite to taste English wine.

Now I just need someone to send me some samples to taste... :)

Like 50 States Of Wine on Facebook
Follow 50 States Of Wine on Twitter
Subscribe to the 50 States Of Wine YouTube channel

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Tempranillo Day with Lodi Wine

Tempranillo Day: A celebration of the Tempranillo grape
with all its regional synonyms. Open a bottle of Tempranillo, 
enjoy the fun, and share your experience online with the hashtags
#TempranilloDay or #Tempranillo.

Tempranillo Day with Lodi Wine

We got a headstart last week on today's Tempranillo Day by conducting a tasting of Tempranillo wines from Lodi. In 2013, there were 900 tons of Tempranillo harvested in Lodi. Lodi continues to amaze me with their never-ending supply of unique and fabulous wines - literally, is there a grape they can't vinify well? Another great virtual tasting sipping and chatting with other aficionados through the Charles Communications Brandlive channel and Twitter.

Tasting Notes:

2012 Riaza Wines Hunter's Oak Vineyard Tempranillo:
12 year old vines; aged 19 months in American and French oak; light ruby color; pomegranate, smoke, and spice aromas; boysenberry, raspberry, dried cherry and tobacco flavors; medium bodied; slight tannins; 14.6% ABV; cork closure; 97 cases produced; SRP $26.
2012 Bokisch Vineyards Tempranillo:
90% Tempranillo and 10% Graciano grapes from 12 year old vines from 2 vineyards, Liberty Oaks and Las Cerezas, certified Green for Sustainable Winegrowing Practices; boysenberry, raspberry, cassis and floral aromas; plum, dark berry, earth/forest, baking spice, and pomegranate flavors, truly a savory wine; light bodied but luscious and balanced; 13.5% ABV; cork closure; 685 cases produced; SRP $23.
2010 Harney Lane Winery Tempranillo:
Hand picked; aged over 18 months in mixed origin oak barrels; nice ruby color; dried herb, earth, wood, and dark fruit aromas; plum, leather, tobacco, and mineral flavors, another very savory wine; 15% ABV; cork closure; 719 cases produced; SRP $25.
2012 McCay Cellars "Lot 13 Vineyard" Tempranillo:
Grapes from the 25 year old Kirschenman Vineyard; violet, tart cherry, nut, and spice aromas; native yeast fermentation; plum, strawberry, herb and spice flavors; 14.3% ABV; cork closure; 179 cases produced; SRP $28.
2012 m2 Wines Tormenta Tempranillo:
Grapes sourced from Kirschenman Vineyard; tank fermented; aged 14 months in 15% new french oak with medium toast; dark cherry, earth, spice and subtle floral aromas; dark plum, raspberry, and vanilla flavors into a cocoa finish; a savory and luscious wine that tastes more expensive than it is, great QPR; 15% ABV; cork closure; 295 cases produced; SRP $22.
While Tempranillo might be better known as a grape in other areas of the world, you cannot go wrong with any of these offerings from Lodi winemakers. Any of these would make you happy today or any other day you choose Tempranillo.

Charles Communications Associates is an independent creative marketing firm that employs traditional public relations and new media strategies to assist companies, organizations and non-profits in the creation, development and marketing of interesting and compelling brands. Recognized as one of the most effective PR firms in the wine industry, we have an exceptional track record of promoting products in the gourmet, natural and organic food and beverage categories, from wine and tea to top shelf spirits and luxury goods. We consider ourselves fortunate to work with clients who share our philosophy of social responsibility in work and everyday life.

Wines provided for tasting purposes - all opinions are my own.

Like 50 States Of Wine on Facebook
Follow 50 States Of Wine on Twitter
Subscribe to the 50 States Of Wine YouTube channel

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

WineStudio: Willamette Valley Chardonnays (Week I)

The Importance of Being a Willamette Valley Chardonnay
#WineStudio Tuesdays 6:00pm – 7:00pm PDT

When you think of the Willamette Valley (it's Willamette, dammit!), you probably think of world-class Pinot Noir, and you wouldn't be wrong. With 11,053 acres planted, fabulous Pinots come out every vintage, year after year. But the Valley has a lighter side as well, with over 3,400 acres of white grape varietals planted, 684 of which are Chardonnay. Yes, Chardonnay. The November WineStudio gets into the Chardonnay renaissance in Oregon, specifically the Willamette Valley, citing terroir, sustainability, biodynamics, philosophy, adventure and the future of Oregon Chardonnay. Week 1 presented us with two very different wines, one from Eyrie Vineyards, the other from Cooper Mountain.

Eyrie Vineyards 2012 Reserve Chardonnay

Eyrie Vineyards 2012 Reserve Chardonnay Dundee Hills: founded by David and Diana Lett in 1966, now helmed by Jason Lett, located in the Red Hills of Dundee; grapes dry-farmed on their own roots (planted 1965) without the use of insecticides, herbicides or systemic fungicides; aged in OR oak; beautiful golden yellow color; aromas of white flowers and tangerine pith; tart guava, apple, pear, nutty notes into a bright citrus finish; slightly acidic, but balanced overall; opened up as it warmed up, smoothing out the mouthfeel; 12% ABV; cork closure; 400 cases produced; SRP $50.

Cooper Mountain Vineyards 2012 Old Vines Chardonnay

Cooper Mountain Vineyards 2012 Old Vines Chardonnay: proximate to the Columbia Gorge and the Chehalem Mountains, originally planted in 1978; committed to sustainability: organic and biodynamic farming and winemaking and dry farming; native yeasts, aged sur lie for 7 months in 38% new French oak; no fining; apple and spice aromas; green apple, spice, and vanilla flavors; 13% ABV; cork closure; 200 cases produced; SRP $30.

PROTOCOL #WineStudio presents an online twitter-based educational program where we engage our brains and palates! It’s part instruction and tasting, with discussions on producers, varieties, tourism, terroir, regional culture, food matching and what all this means to us as imbibers.

Wines were provided for tasting purposes - all opinions are my own.

Like 50 States Of Wine on Facebook
Follow 50 States Of Wine on Twitter
Subscribe to the 50 States Of Wine YouTube channel

Thursday, November 6, 2014

VAwinechat: Colonial Virginia Wine Trail

Colonial Virginia Wine Trail

The Colonial Virginia Wine Trail features four of Virginia's best wineries (Williamsburg Winery, Saudé Creek Vineyards, New Kent Winery and James River Cellars) all within a one hour drive. Stretching from North to Southeast of Richmond, it appears that the wineries are easily accessed from the freeway, making this wine trail doable in a day, though you might stretch it out once you see some of the accommodations they offer. Since the wineries are in such close proximity to each other, I was interested to see the interaction between the players. My initial impression is that, while they all know what the others are doing and support each other, they are also marching to their own drummers, nothing lock-step here.

Wine Tasting Notes:

James River Cellars 2013 Gewürtztraminer:
Estate-grown grapes; golden honey color; honeysuckle, stone fruit, and subtle almond aromas; subtle honey and citrus, almond, and spice flavors; medium body, subtle sweetness (.5% RS) balanced by acidity; twist-off closure; 83 cases made; SRP $20. Nice on its own, great food wine.
Williamsburg Winery 2012 Trianon Cabernet Franc Reserve
75% Cabernet Franc, 13% Merlot, 12% Petit Verdot grapes; 67% neutral oak, 33% new oak; bright red berries, cherries and some pepper aromas; cherry, pomegranate, and herb flavors; tart and slight peppery finish; 12% ABV; cork closure; 7500 bottles produced; SRP $32.
New Kent Winery 2012 Reserve Chardonnay
Grapes estate grown in New Kent County; barrel fermented and aged sur lies; apple, pear and subtle tropical fruit aromas; pear, vanilla, caramel, and a touch of baking spice flavors; creamy texture;  13%ABV; cork closure; SRP $25.
Saudé Creek Vineyards 2013 Reserve Traminette
Apple, apricot, pear, honey, and floral aromas; pear,   stone fruit flavors; dessert-wine-like bottle indicates sweetness by association, but wine is actually drier than expected, well-balanced with a light acidity on the finish; 12.5% ABV; cork closure.
Part of out discussion was about whether or not Virginia wines have improved, or whether they are just getting their due. Based on the few wines I tasted while living their six years ago and a few more over the years, I would say the quality has improved, dramatically. The truth is, whether it's an improvement in quality or just better press, Virginia wines are impressive -- you should feel comfortable searching Virginia wines out and buying them for your personal drinking or to share with guests.

These wines were provided for tasting purposes - all opinions are my own.

Like 50 States Of Wine on Facebook
Follow 50 States Of Wine on Twitter
Subscribe to the 50 States Of Wine YouTube channel

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

LodiLive: Tempranillo

LodiLive: Tempranillo

To prepare for International Tempranillo Day on November 13th, we'll be tasting five unique Tempranillo wines from the Lodi Appellation: the 2012 Riaza Wines Hunter's Oak Vineyard, 2012 Bokisch Vineyards, 2010 Harney Lane Winery, 2012 McCay Cellars "Lot 13 Vineyard," and the 2012 m2 Wines Tormenta. The tasting will be hosted by Stuart Spencer (Program Manager at the Lodi Winegrape Commission, Owner and Winemaker of St.​ ​Amant Winery, and President of the Board of Directors for TAPAS (Tempranillo Advocates Producers and Amigos Society)) with Rick Taylor (owner and Winemaker of Riaza Wines and Director on the Board of Directors for TAPAS).

This tasting will be tonight, Wednesday, ​November 5th, at 5pm PST (8 pm EST)! ​​Join in by pulling up the livestream a little before 5pm PST (http://cca.yourbrandlive.com/c/tempranilloday/) or following along on Twitter using the hash tag #LodiLive and Twitter handle @Lodi_Wine during the tasting.

See you tonight!

Like 50 States Of Wine on Facebook
Follow 50 States Of Wine on Twitter
Subscribe to the 50 States Of Wine YouTube channel

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Chicago’s Top Restaurant Food Critics and Bloggers

Chicago's Favorite Food Critics and Bloggers

Chicago's Top Food Critics and Bloggers

It's nice to be recognized for what sometimes feels like writing for myself. While I'm definitely an amateur when it comes to writing about food, this is a group I'm proud to be part of - follow the link and find some good reading on this extensive list.

Like 50 States Of Wine on Facebook
Follow 50 States Of Wine on Twitter
Subscribe to the 50 States Of Wine YouTube channel

Thursday, October 30, 2014

October Virginia Wine Chat

Colonial Virginia Wine Trail

Discover the Colonial Wine Trail! Tonight's Virginia Wine Chat will be the second that focuses on a specific area of Virginia Wine Country. We'll be drinking:
  • Williamsburg Winery 2012 Trianon Cabernet Franc Reserve with winemaker Matthew Mayer (@WilliamsburgTWW);
  • James River Cellars 2013 Gewürztraminer with Mitzy Batterson (@JamesRiverWine);
  • New Kent Winery 2012 Reserve Chardonnay with winemaker Tom Payette (@NewKentWinery); and
  • Saude Creek Vineyards 2013 Traminette (@SaudeCreek)
Join us to learn about them, their vineyards and wineries, and the Colonial Virginia Wine Trail. Follow the #VAWineChat hashtag to join the discussion via Twitter and follow along at the Virginia Wine Chat UStream Channel (http://www.ustream.tv/channel/virginia-wine-chat).

7:30 PM Eastern - JOIN US!

Like 50 States Of Wine on Facebook
Follow 50 States Of Wine on Twitter
Subscribe to the 50 States Of Wine YouTube channel

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Cauliflower Crust Pizza [Recipe]

Mike suggested that I share some recipes that I've tried on my Primal/Paleo experiment (though at this point it's no longer an experiment, definitely something I will continue). In our house, we LOVE pizza, I would wager it's probably the one meal most requested overall, especially it's so easy to make, order in, or enjoy out. Casual and satisfying.

One of the recipes I've seen for quite a while that intrigued me was cauliflower crust pizza - in the past, I had never really considered it, since I loved bread so much, but cutting out the bread meant no pizza (or cheating). So several weeks ago, I bit the bullet and made the pizza. There are many, many recipes out there, so I distilled several into one I thought would work.

Cauliflower Crust Pizza

Ingredients:
1 cauliflower
kosher salt
dried basil
dried oregano
garlic powder
Parmesan cheese
mozzarella cheese
egg
To make:
  1. Preheat pizza stone or baking sheet in a 450 degree oven.
  2. Place in food processor and process to an equal consistency. 
  3. Transfer to oven-safe or microwave-safe container. Cook or microwave until just tender. 
  4. Let cool and then pour into cheesecloth or clean kitchen towel. Wring it until no more liquid comes out. This will help create a chewier crust.
  5. Mix together all ingredients in a bowl, adjusting for taste and texture. I ended up using extra cheese (1/2 cup of each) and 2 eggs to get it to the desired consistency - it really depends on how much cauliflower you have.
  6. Place mixed ingredients onto oiled parchment paper and shape into even thickness crust, then transfer to preheated pizza stone or baking sheet. Bake until golden brown - times will vary depending on ovens as well as actual ingredients used.
  7. Remove from oven, add toppings, then return to oven to melt cheese and heat toppings.
  8. Enjoy!
Cauliflower Crust Pizza Step by Step

I will say that this turned out better than expected, really an enjoyable alternative to regular bread crust, a necessity if you are Primal or a dairy-eating Paleo person. While this crust is softer and more pliable than typical crusts, it definitely works. It's no more time-consuming than making regular homemade pizza crust.

(This post was originally shared on my fitness blog, Midwest Multisport Life, and was so popular I decided to share it here as well - enjoy!)

Like 50 States Of Wine on Facebook
Follow 50 States Of Wine on Twitter
Subscribe to the 50 States Of Wine YouTube channel

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Wine and Halloween Candy Pairings?

Wine and Halloween Candy Pairings?

Definitely not my style, but possibly something interesting, though more likely disgusting - this week's WineChat explores pairing wine and Halloween candy. No way I could do that beyond basic dark chocolates, but perhaps someone has come up with an unlikely but tasty combo. Tune in Wednesday night at 9:00 PM ET and follow hashtag #winechat on Twitter.

Like 50 States Of Wine on Facebook
Follow 50 States Of Wine on Twitter
Subscribe to the 50 States Of Wine YouTube channel

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Scarily Good Wines: Casillero del Diablo

Scarily Good Wines: Casillero del Diablo

Casillero del Diablo is perfect for the "Official Wine of Halloween" - stored in hell, made in heaven. We're big fans of their wines, always tasty and not too expensive ($11 SRP for the Reserve Collection, though we usually get it for even less than that). As a daily wine, their varietals are sure to go with the food we pair it with, without fail.

Casillero del Diablo: Wine Legend video

This fall, they are running a Legendary Costume Contest: easy to enter, with a DSLR camera and more as the prizes. Watch the video above, take a costumed photo that best represents the Casillero del Diablo theme, like their Facebook page, and enter. Entries accepted through November 9th, winner announced on December 1st.

Enter now!

Like 50 States Of Wine on Facebook
Follow 50 States Of Wine on Twitter
Subscribe to the 50 States Of Wine YouTube channel

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

In the Cellar: 1985 Volnay

1985 Moillard Clos des Chênes, Volnay Premier Cru

I am flat out horrible about cellaring wine - one, because I can't really afford too much that is worth cellaring and two, I'm too impatient to wait. I do have a few bottles, however, that I've managed not to drink and they sit in the bottom bin of my wine cooler, hopefully happily aging to their full potential. One of the wines is a bottle of 1985 Moillard Clos des Chênes, Volnay Premier Cru I liberated from my father-in-law's basement a few years ago. I actually grabbed two, one of which we tasted about 2 years ago:
"Very dark, deep red color. A violet nose, common for these wines, along with some faint strawberry. Good tannin structure, with more floral and berry flavors in the mouth, with a lingering finish."
Pretty basic tasting notes, but it was definitely holding up well, surprising in that they never did anything special for their wine storage, just stuck it in the basement in the original wooden crates and then pulled them out on occasion.

Not sure when this will be pulled out for consumption, it's always a difficult decision to drink one of my "special" wines, usually reserved for an anniversary or New Year's or the like.

How do you decide when to drink a special wine?

Like 50 States Of Wine on Facebook
Follow 50 States Of Wine on Twitter
Subscribe to the 50 States Of Wine YouTube channel

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Uncorked Ventures Wine Club

Uncorked Ventures Wine Club

Nothing better than the gift of wine, unless the wine comes with additional items you pick based on the themes of savory and sweet gourmet, chocolate, or the refined and elegant, all packed in a beautiful wooden crate. Brothers-in-law Mark Aselstine and Matt Krause of Uncorked Ventures go treasure-hunting in California, Oregon and Washington wine country to bring you the very best wines that few people have ever heard of. Mark (@WineClubGuy) and I connected on Twitter, and after bantering back and forth for a long time, he sent me a few bottles to try out.

Tasting Notes:
Cinque Insieme ("Five Together") 2011 Dry Creek Valley Grenache: transparent garnet with ruby highlights; shy on the nose: a bit of cassis, earth, herbal notes; cassis, blackberry, red berry and dusty dark plum flavors; luscious mouthfeel, beautiful balance, with a slight tannic finish promising at least a few years of drinking pleasure; 15.24% ABV; cork closure; 300 bottles produced; SRP $24 (no longer available through winery).
VinRoc Wine Caves 2009 Napa Valley Atlas Peak Cabernet Sauvignon: Deep purple-black in color, totally opaque; tar, smoke, licorice and black fruit aromas; black cherry cola, dark fruit, currant, mocha, spice and licorice flavors; luscious mouthfeel with a mineral and spice finish;14.5% ABV; cork closure; SRP $98. This wine is all about muscular character, sense of place, ageability, and in your face power, tons of depth and richness, tannins that are mellow enough for drinking now, but integrated enough to make this a wine that will reward patience in the cellar. With apologies to Queen and a fully intended pun, this wine will Roc you.VinRoc takes its name from the rock strewn mountain vineyard and rock hewn wine cave.
These two wines are great examples of what treasure-hunting will do, when executed with passion. While totally different in feel and price, both are well-made examples of their respective genres. Uncorked Ventures should be a wine club that you are inspired to try out.

These wines were provided for tasting purposes - all opinions are my own.

Like 50 States Of Wine on Facebook
Follow 50 States Of Wine on Twitter
Subscribe to the 50 States Of Wine YouTube channel