NC Holiday Wine Project – #9

The Muscadine grape is indigenous to the Southeastern portion of the United States.  A little known fact about Muscadines is that they bud four to five times per year.  You can actually harvest from the same vine from August all the way through November.  Being a hearty grape that is resistant to mold and mildew (not to mention a number of insects), our hot humid summers are the perfect pairing for growing Muscadine.  Muscadine actually comes in several different varieties just as Vinifera Grapes do.  Some of the more popular Muscadine grapes in North Carolina are the Carlos, Doreen, Magnolia and Noble.    And North Carolina’s 100th winery, Cauble Creek Vineyard, produces some of the best Muscadine in the state.

Cauble Creek Vineyard’s Wines
You can pull out your wine aroma wheel and search for Muscadine but you won’t find it there.  You also won’t find any wine books that recommend pairings or show great recipes for this plump, sweet grape.  The wineries that specialize in Muscadine wines have had to create their own pairings and recipes.
Cauble Creek’s La-Vinia, a semi-sweet white made from the Carlos grape, is the perfect example of creating a mouth-watering recipe for the holidays and a natural pairing that will make you smile.  The La-Vinia is fruit forward with a bit of a dry finish.  You may get a slight hint of cinnamon on the palate with a touch of pear.  An unlikely recipe for La-Vinia is to blend it with balsamic vinegar and use it as a marinade for shrimp, scallops or chicken and then use the marinade in your skillet when you stir-fry.  This is a perfect appetizer to serve with the La-Vinia during the holidays or any gathering of friends!
Varietal: Carlos Muscadine;   Alcohol: 13%;   Residual Sugar: 4%   Price: $15.00

NC Holiday Wine Project – #8

This wine was a media sample provided by Biltmore Estate & Winery

Here’s to the corkscrew – a useful key to unlock the storehouse of wit, the treasury of laughter, the front door of fellowship, and the gate of pleasant folly.

W.E.P. French  (From the wine list of Commander’s Palace in New Orleans, LA courtesy of John McDonald, Dallas, TX)

The holidays are all about a “treasury of laughter”, fellowship and folly and what better way to share these than with friends and a favorite wine.  And what better wine to share (or pair) than a dry rose’.

This gorgeous pale (but still deep) red wine is the perfect wine for the holidays.   We are all concerned about our wines overpowering our holiday turkey.  This Biltmore Estate Century Rose’ is rich and full of flavor but still light enough to let the turkey take center stage.  Other pairing suggestions would be using the left overs to make turkey pot pie, pizza and Ginger Sugar Cookies.  This wine is so versatile!  At first I couldn’t figure out why I was so infatuated with this wine, then I realized it was the blackberry flavors and aromas that had taken me by surprise.  One would typically expect strawberry, but this was such a pleasant burst of flavor.  My only regret is that the bottle now lays empty and I have not seen this in local stores!

Varietal:  Blend of Syrah, Grenache, and Cabernet Sauvignon

Alcohol:  12.5%

Price:  $14.99

NC Holiday Wine Project – #7

Oh the weather outside is frightful, 
But the fire is so delightful,
And since we’ve no place to go,
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!

Don’t you just love snow!?!?!  I do – whether I am out playing in it or inside by the fireplace (which may become a theme of my posts over the next few weeks) just watching through the window, I think snow is beautiful.  In one sense it awakens the inner child in me and in another sense it awakens the romantic in me. 

So the next question is, “What kind of wine do we pair with snow?”  And the answer is, “Anything you like!”

So how about a mulled wine?  Mulled wine is the wine lover’s version of hot spiced tea.  I have found a great recipe on Food Network’s website.  (There are actually several).  I won’t try to tell you which one to use, but regardless of which recipe you try, this is the wine you should use.  Shadow Springs Vineyard has created a special Holiday wine, Merry Mist.  This delightful wine is a lightly oaked Cabernet Sauvignon that has been infused with cranberry and orange.  It has 3.5% residual sugar as well.  In other words, half the recipe is already in the bottle!  You can do something elaborate with this wine or you can simply heat it and stir/serve it with a cinnamon stick.

Varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon (infused with cranberry and orange)

Alcohol: 12.5%

Residual Sugar: 3.5%

Price: $14.00

NC Holiday Wine Project – #6

Here’s the REAL secret to pairing wine: If you like it, then your pairing works.  You don’t need a sommelier or the winemaker to tell you that it is good.  It just is!  A sommelier or a winemaker might make a suggestion that you hadn’t thought of, but nothing is carved in stone when it comes to pairing a wine you like with a food you like.

You definitely don’t have to have company to prepare something delicious to munch on this time of year. There is just something about sitting cozily by the fireplace that makes me want to eat rich, decadent foods and/or comfort foods.  One of my favorite comfort foods is Sausage Balls, one of my favorite wines is Cabernet Sauvignon – so why not pair the two. 

I dropped by Raylen Vineyards today to do a wine tasting for the NC Holiday Wine Project and couldn’t wait to get home with this 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon to pair with the few sausage balls we had left in the fridge – and what a pairing!  The spice in the sausage brought out the spice in the wine making this a natural pairing.  This wine is rich with complex flavors of clove and chocolate which also makes it a perfect pairing for a holiday ham.  And if you are planning a holiday brunch, pull out this wine to pair with country ham and biscuit or with Quiche.  You might want to even try a dollop of raspberry jam on that ham and biscuit.


Side Bar: This wine just won the prestigious award, “Best in Show” at the North Carolina State Fair.  This award isn’t give out lightly.  And the trophy isn’t the Winery’s to keep.  Like the Stanley Cup trophy in hockey, this trophy moves from winery to winery each year.  Congratulations to Raylen Vineyards for winning Best in Show, 2011.  This Cabernet Sauvignon went up against 443 other wines and came out on top! 

Varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon

Alcohol: 13.5%

Price: $15.99

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