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Wine Wipes

This was a media sample from Wine Wipes through Michael Rogers Public Relations

Everyone who drinks red wine gets that shadowy tint to their teeth after a couple of glasses, some more than others.  Some people actually have teeth that turn a purplish color by the end of a night imbibing on red wine.  Fortunately, I guess, I only get the shadow and it is probably more noticeable to me than anyone else around me.  The reality is though, it doesn’t matter if anyone else can  tell that it is there or not, I can tell!

So here come “Wine Wipes,” a disposable cloth composed of a unique combination of baking soda (known to whiten your teeth), salt (a natural tooth cleanser), hydrogen peroxide (to kill bacteria), calcium (which has been known as being good for your teeth for years now), glycerin (to keep the red stains from returning while you continue to drink) and orange blossom (supposedly a flavor naturally found in red wine used to enhance the flavor of the wine wipe).

image from product website

image from product website

Here’s the deal, they work.  They wipe the wine stains off your teeth and off your tongue.  The ingredients are neutral and do not affect the taste of your wine so you can continue to drink.  The wipes come in a little plastic, circular box with a screw-on lid and fit easily into a pocket or purse.  The compact holds 20 wipes and has a little mirror inside the lid so you can use them privately instead of in front of the big mirror by the sinks in the restroom.  Initially you can taste the salt and the hydrogen peroxide, but they actually make your mouth feel refreshed.  You don’t have to worry about the wipes going bad either.  The worst thing that can happen is that they dry out and then all you have to do is sprinkle them lightly with a few drops of water to make them moist again and they will naturally get more moist as you use them.

My recommendation would be to keep them with you but use them immediately after dinner before going to the wine bar or to the planned party; after all, if the glycerin keeps the stains from coming back, why let them even start.  Enjoy your meal, take the wine wipes with you to the bathroom afterwards, wipe your teeth (and your tongue), leave the restroom with a mouth that feels refreshed and enjoy the rest of your evening stain free.

Wine Wipes retail for about $6.95 for a compact of 20 wipes and can be purchased online at http://www.winewipes.com.

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The Bourne Experience – Grand Barossa Riesling

This wine was a media sample from Banfi Vintners.

Stuart Bourne, Chief Winemaker at Château Tanunda, has mastered the Barossa style of wine making.  Wine Spectator recently recognized Bourne in their “Top 25 Benchmark Wines from Australia.”  Bourne also achieved #33 ranking of the “Top 100 Wines of 2011” with the Château Tanunda Grand Barossa Shiraz 2008.  Bourne, like so many other winemakers, believes that great wine begins in the vineyard.

My  Bourne Experience started with a live tweet-up a few months ago.  Thankfully, each participant received two bottles of each of the wines we were sampling for the social media blast allowing us to focus on the task at hand then choose a later date to revisit each wine and write about it.  So earlier this week, I decided to try the Grand Barossa Riesling.  This Riesling is unique in that it has a buttery smoothness and texture similar to an oaked Chardonnay.  This is a result of the way it is bottled, not from being aged in oak.  The wine boasts of passion fruit and a touch of minerality and has lime peel on the lingering finish.  It pairs well with cheeses and pasta in a light sauce.

Every wine cabinet should have a good dry Riesling.  Just popping the cork on this wine is cause enough for celebration.

Grand Barossa Riesling

Grand Barossa Riesling

Variety: Riesling          Alcohol:  11.5%          Price:  $12

 Side Note:  An icon of the Barossa Valley dating back to the 1870’s and the decimation of Europe’s vineyards by the Phylloxera Plague, Château Tanunda was the largest winery in the Southern Hemisphere.  It was the heart of Barossa winemaking, not only making wine but integral in educating winemakers and enologists.  Having been placed on the Register of State Heritage Places in 1994, one would assume that the early days of making rich, delectable wines had continued on for years; but that is not the case.  Château Tanunda had been abandoned by its owners in the 1990’s leaving the property a mere shell of what it once had been.  The property was purchased by John Geber in 1998 and he promptly decided to restore the property to its iconic status along with bringing Bourne on board as the Chief Winemaker.

Six Pack – Trione Vineyards & Winery

I love a good six-pack! (No, wait, we are supposed to be talking about wine!) 🙂

I actually received a special treat in the mail the other day through Tasting Room (who has recently partnered with Lot 18) with a six-pack of sampler bottles from Trione Vineyards & Winery enclosed.  I was not familiar with Trione Vineyards & Winery but thought it would be fun to do a blog post about all six wines which is their current wine offering through the tasting room.

Trione Sampler

Trione Sampler

For more than 30 years Trione has been growing award-winning grapes for other wineries, then in 2005, decided to take it to the next level and start making their own wines.  What a great business decision!!!

The sampler included their 2010 Sauvignon Blanc, 2009 Chardonnay, their 2008 Syrah, their 2008 Pinot Noir, 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon and  a 2007 Red Blend.

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you have probably noticed that I have never reviewed a Sauvignon Blanc or a Pinot Gris (Grigio).  I have never found one that I like.  The tannic bitter finish and the strong grapefruit taste just turn me off.  So I opened this one with trepidation, hoping to pair it with the right food to make it palatable.

Trione pairings

Trione pairings

The pairing line up consisted of (in order by the picture) a white cheddar, Smithfield spiral cut ham, white cheddar Cheez-It’s, smoked cheddar and bruschetta.  (We will ignore the fact that I was eating alone!)  I was trying to get creative so that I had a pairing for each wine.

Apparently I hit a home run!  The white cheddar and the Sauvignon Blanc were the absolute perfect pairing.  These sample bottles are only a couple of ounces so this first sip paired with this cheese  begged for more.  I begged for more – I could have truly enjoyed a whole bottle!  Yes me, the Red Wine Diva – I could have drunk a whole bottle.  There was no bitter aftertaste, no over-powering tannins, no bitter grapefruit – yeah!!!  The winemaker describes this wine as crisp, but I found it mild and sumptuous, almost a delicacy – one that should be enjoyed by all.  (Trione Sauvignon Blanc – 14.0% alcohol, price – $23).

Next up was the 2009 Chardonnay.  I typically like a Chardonnay, but once again, this one was exceptional.  The smooth buttery, Creme Brulée leads to a long, silky finish.  The winemaker suggest that this wine could actually age another three to five years which speaks highly of his winemaking style.  One of my pairings was a simple brushcetta on an olive oil toasted bread.  Once again, the pairing worked, the wine worked and I highly recommend it!  (14.3% alcohol, price – $30).

Moving on to the 2008 Russian Valley River Pinot Noir, we find classic examples of black cherry and earthiness lending itself to a long, silky finish.  I paired this wine with the Smithfield ham and the Cheez-It crackers.  As a Pinot Noir fan from way back, I can attest that this wine will hold its own in any competition.  You will notice the characteristic watered-down red color of the wine as you pour it which is indicative of any great Pinot. (no winemaker’s notes on the 2008, but the 2009 is 14.3% alochol – price, $35).

Now for the 2008 Syrah.  Syrah has long been a favorite of mine.  The first sip of this wine and I knew I had just tasted a bit of heaven.  Reaching for the smoked cheddar to pair this with, I once again found myself wanting a whole bottle instead of just this 2-ounce sampler.  The smoky cheddar and the ham both melted in my mouth as I paired them with the earthy notes of this smooth, silky wine.  (15.3% alcohol – price, $32).

The 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon presented itself as a classic bordeaux blend with 10% Merlot and 2.5% of both Petit Verdot and Malbec.  Having been aged for a total of 24 months, this inky colored wine oozes allspice, black currant and clove.  It is bold and commands its place at the table but has a velvety texture and smooth tannins that linger just long enough on the palate to allow you to reach for the glass again.  This wine paired exceptionally well with both the white cheddar and the smoked cheddar as well as the ham.  This is definitely my recommendation for the next “Cabernet Day.”  (14.5% alcohol – price, $64).

Last, but not least, is the Trione 2007 Red Blend – a luxurious wine made in the bordeaux style similar to the Cabernet Sauvignon.  This wine is full-bodied but still balanced with a smooth tannin structure.  The winemaker suggests you could age this wine for 5-10 years.  (14.9% alcohol – price $48).

You can join the Trione Estate Guild wineclub and have these wines delivered directly to your door; and if you are ever in Geyersville, CA, I recommend a visit to their tasting room located at 19550 Geyersville Avenue, Geyersville, CA  95441.

You Had Me at Merlot

We have two phenomenons going on here.  First of all, I am not a fan of Merlot.  Second, I am VERY particular about what wine clubs I join.  I joined the wine club at Kunde Estate a couple   of years ago when visiting the Sonoma area.  Actually, they are the standard by which I judge other wine clubs.  I have been extremely pleased with the wines Kunde offers their wine club members.  I usually accept the wines they preselect for each wine club shipment, but occasionally call them and request specific wines.  One of my criteria for a wine club is that the wines not be readily available to the general public.  So living on the East coast, the Kunde wine club offering is not usually a problem because their wines are not offered at general retail here in North Carolina other than a couple of basics.

With my most recent wine club shipment, I didn’t make any special requests.  I simply accepted the wines that Kunde had preselected for the wine club shipment.  As usual, when the wines arrived I couldn’t wait to see what was in the shipment.  I tore the box open and found their 2009 Merlot.  I was a little disappointed because Merlot has never been a favorite of mine.  I stored in the “wine closet” thinking it would be a good wine to share with friends.  On a whim, I decided to open this 2009 Merlot the other night to pair with spaghetti accompanied with a homemade sauce.  Oh my, my!!!

2013-01-23 18.44.32

On the first sip it was obvious this pairing was meant to be.  According to the winemaker’s notes: “The cool mornings draped with coastal fog create the ideal blanket to keep Merlot at its favorite temperature. The reward is in this wine’s deep garnet color and aromatic nose. Our 2009 Merlot is a versatile wine, complete with bright red fruit and an earthiness that signals this wine is from Sonoma Valley.”

I personally found this wine to have hints of blackberry and subtle cherry, very pleasing to the palate.  Knowing that our palates change especially with the wines we drink, I may have to give Merlot another swirl!

varietal:  Merlot          Alcohol:  13.8%          Price:  $18.00

Inaugural Wines

Senator Chuck Schumer chairs the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, and as such, he was able to get more media attention for the New York wine industry than money could ever buy.  The inaugural luncheon menu had each course paired with some of New York’s finest.  The first course featured lobster and New England clam chowder paired with a Tierce 2010 Dry Riesling from the Finger Lakes.  This Riesling is a joint effort from Anthony Road Winery, Fox Run Vineyards and Red Newt Cellars.

Tierce_riesling_re2

The second course, hickory grilled bison with wild huckleberry reduction and red potato horseradish cake was paired with a 2009 Merlot from Bedell Cellars.  Bedell Cellars prides itself  in allocating their wines to their wine club members first, then to restauranteurs, but something tells me they made an exception in this case.  This Merlot is touted as coming from some of the oldest Merlot vines in the country and the 2009 vintage was a stellar year for the North Fork area.  Even though I have never had this wine, the descriptors of  “local red fruit flavors of strawberries, dried cranberries and cherries coupled with the subtle aromas of red raspberries, herbs and beach stones” make my mouth water.  (I may have to add this one to the bucket list!)

Bedell Cellars

The third course was the ever famous Hudson Valley apple pie served with sour cream ice cream, aged cheese and honey.  All of this was paired with Korbel Natural, a Special Inaugural Cuvée Champagne.

Korbel Natural

The Corkscrew

2013-01-20 18.23.48

AWWW – the infamous corkscrew!  I don’t recall ever buying a corkscrew except for the “rabbit.”  But somehow I have ended up with all these corkscrews in my drawer – and this is not all of them.  I was trying not to duplicate the style so this is the various styles I have in my drawer over the wine fridge.  My least favorite would be the little green one – you know, the cheap one where the cap inserts back into the pig tail.  The problem with this one is that removing the cork requires muscle and brawn.  All it does is twist into the cork.  There is no leverage at all; you just pull (and pull and pull and pull) to get the cork out.  These are frequent give-aways at wine festivals but you are better off just leaving them behind.  They don’t deserve space in your wine cabinet.

2013-01-20 18.31.08

The Rabbit

Now the “Rabbit” is relatively easy to use; and I have used it numerous times and even given it as gifts; however, there is something about the Rabbit that just doesn’t appeal to me.  I like the feeling of that twisting motion as I insert a corkscrew into the cork and then use the lever to force the cork lose from the bottle so that it can be pried out.  Mechanically, the Rabbit is very well crafted and does a great job.  Even though I don’t use mine daily, I would never get rid of it – it is one of those things that you should always keep on hand.  When I have guests over, it is a nice option to keep out for them to open wine with if they choose.

2013-01-20 18.24.34

Red Wine Diva favorites

My two favorite corkscrews both have a double lever system.  If you look at the picture above, you will note that you have two levels of action behind these corkscrews.  You can pry the cork with the closer lever and then start again with the longer portion of the lever and pull the cork 90% out of the bottle allowing you to pull it the rest of the way by hand.  I actually carry one of these in my purse at all times.  Afterall, the “Red Wine Diva” should never be caught without her corkscrew!!!  (Unless I am flying – really don’t want to give up a corkscrew to security at the airport!)

Airline approved corkscrew

Airline approved corkscrew

Of my favorites, the one pictured above, is “supposedly” approved by the airlines to be packed in your carry-on luggage.  There is no knife or blade to this one so no danger to others.  The foil cutter is the square section at the back of the handle.  There are little rotator blades that cut through the foil making this a safer option for travelers while still giving you the double lever system of removing corks.  Of course, you are not allowed to bring your own wine onto the plane, but you should always be prepared for when you have a lay-over or get stranded somewhere.

The corkscrew dates back to the 1700’s but nobody knows for sure who invented it or exactly how long it has been around.  Very early bottles of wine had corks that protruded from the bottle providing something for you to grab onto while prying the cork from the bottle by hand.  These corks also fit much looser than today’s corks.  The corkscrew worm design is believed to be derived from early gun tools and was very simplistic.  Ancient corkscrews are being collected by wine connoisseurs all over the world and can actually be worth quite a chunk of change in today’s market to the real collector.

Corkscrews Online

Corkscrews Online

For more information on collecting corkscrews:  Corkscrew Collecting

And for more information on the history of the corkscrew:  Bottlenotes

Antique corkscrews:  Corkscrews Online

Chef’s Table, A Carnival Cruise Special

We have just returned from our first cruise.  I have been excited for months about doing this.  We have heard from so many people how much fun cruises are and how much there is to do while on a cruise.  I just couldn’t wait!!!  Hubby, however, had some reservations about the whole thing.  He’s not much of a gambler so he knew he wouldn’t enjoy the casino and he was just leery about how he would occupy his time on the days that we were at sea.  So I made it my mission to ensure that he had fun and that he had things to occupy his time.

One of the things that hubby and I really enjoy as a couple are wine dinners at local restaurants.  Well, turns out Carnival offers a similar experience on their cruise ships.  It is called the “Chef’s Table” and consists of seven courses along with a couple of wines.

Chef's Table 3

The evening started with our confirmation for the dinner reservation being slipped under the door of our stateroom.  This confirmation included a recommendation that you avoid wearing high heels.  This wasn’t an issue for hubby, but I had to change my whole wardrobe for the evening.  😉

There was a group of eight people attending the dinner.  We all gathered in the lobby and after a brief introduction to “Chef De Cuisine Santosh Kumar,” we headed to the galley.  (No pictures allowed in the galley.) Hors d’oeuvres  were served with champagne while we listened to the Chef tell us about the ship, the numerous kitchens and the various chefs required to pull off feeding 2,600 people for dinner.  (They actually have a person whose main job is to crack 1,000 eggs each night!)  From the galley tour, we met with one of the pastry chefs so we could learn the secret to making Carnival’s most popular dessert, Chocolate Melting Cake.  Just so happened he needed a couple of volunteers to help mix everything together for the cake and I was lucky enough, along with Suzanne – another lady attending the dinner – to be one of those volunteers.  Fitted with our very own chef’s hat, we stepped behind the prep table and promptly went to work.  Once the cake was in the oven, our tour was over.

Chef's hatWe moved as a group back through the dining room to the private room they had set up for our dinner.  There were only eight of us but we had two servers and three chefs, including Chef Santosh and were treated like royalty the rest of the evening.  Our first course was simply tomatoes – but there was nothing simple about these tomatoes!  We had aerated tomato juice (and you thought the only thing people aerated was wine!) which was thick and served on the plate to be eaten with a fork, cocoa butter coated tomatoes and Chardonnay poached tomatoes.  None of these tasted anything like the tomatoes that come from my garden and were all so delicious.  (If anyone reading this has a recipe you want to share with us, I would be glad to post it.  Would love to learn how to prepare the cocoa butter coated tomatoes!)

2013-01-14 01.51.05

The menu consisted of tuna, Cornish hen, bavarois (spinach, green peas, warm turnip and apple juice), salmon, short ribs, and a dessert called “Chocolate 88F” as well as the Warm Chocolate Melting Cake that Suzanne and a I helped make.  Each of these was served as a separate course and paired with a Merlot and a Pinot Grigio.

Bavarois

Bavarois

The tuna was coated with lemon bread crumbs and served with sesame crisp and miso cream avocado gel – great pairing of foods and really good.

The Cornish hen was caramelized and served with butternut squash and was delicious.

The salmon was quite good especially since I (typically) don’t eat fish.  It was served with an herb pesto to dip it in that was heavenly, cured tomatoes and condensed beets.  I will taste any food served at a special event just to say I did, but let’s be clear on this one, after a really bad experience as a child and being forced by a teacher to eat beets, I don’t eat them now.  However, I decided to taste these.  they actually looked like fruit roll-ups so I popped one into my mouth.  But only one – and it is probably the last time I will ever try beets!  Everyone else seemed to like them which indicates it was just me.

The short ribs were from Wagyu, an aged Kobe beef and were served with potato pebbles and pumpkin fudge (probably one of my least favorite items on the menu after the beets – definitely doesn’t taste like it sounds!).

Overall the dinner was great and the evening was fun.  The cost for the Chef’s Table is $75 per person – about what you would pay at any restaurant for a good wine dinner.  Unfortunately we were not offered the option of purchasing any of the wines to bring home, but it was a fun experience with some great people (who shared these pictures with me) and new friends.

New Friends

New Friends

Chateau Lamothe de Haux Blanc

Fine wine deals and low prices on spirits too.

Even before I developed this passion for wine, I had heard of Bordeaux. I didn’t fully understand the philosophy behind the wine or the region, but knew that Bordeaux wines were famous around the world.  Today’s Bordeaux is a program created in 2005 showcasing spectacular wines from Bordeaux that range in price from $8 – $35.  The wines were chosen (then and now) because they offer the best representation of the quality of wines that come out of Bordeaux while highlighting the terroir.

The Chateau Lamothe de Haux Blanc 2011 is made in the traditional Bordeaux style with a blend of 40% Sauvignon Blanc, 40% Semmilon, and 20% Muscadelle.  Even though the origins for this wine date back centuries, white Bordeaux went out of vogue for several years as red blends became more affordable to the every day wine drinker.  However, in more recent years, white wines have come back stronger than ever and have reclaimed their place in the wine world.

2013-01-18 17.18.19

I tend to drink my white wines a little more chilled than the recommended 55˚ so that might be why I am not getting the “fruit forward” taste on the palate that all the other websites suggest you will get.  On the nose I am getting a bit of tropical fruit, maybe a hint of kiwi but am definitely getting more citrus on the palate with a sweeter, lighter taste on the front of the palate but find this wine much more tannic on the back of the palate with a lingering finish.  This wine would definitely pair well with lighter fare such as seafood, cheeses and a variety of fruits and maybe even a good chicken alfredo.  Here is a great recipe I pulled from “MyRecipes.com” that would be perfect for this crisp delicate white wine: Honey Wheat Pizza with Pear-Prusciuttio Salad. 

I opened this wine on a Friday.  I thought it was a bit too tannic (bitter) for me on the finish so I sealed it and stored it in the refrigerator.  Saturday I opened something different because I just didn’t want the bitter taste of this wine again the following night.  But then Sunday rolled around and I decided to give it another swirl (get it?!?!?).  It is so much better after having time to breathe and mellow out.  So glad I tried another glass!!!  If you buy this one, I highly recommend decanting it – even if it is a white wine!  Or you could open it a day ahead of time and store it in the fridge like I did.  Either way, I am sure you will enjoy it!!!

Varietal: White Bordeaux Blend     Alcohol: 12%     Price: $13

This wine was a media sample from Balzac Communications (for Syndicat des Bordeaux et Bordeaux Superieur)

Napa Valley Wine Academy

NAPA VALLEY WINE ACADEMY LAUNCHES

A FRESH NEW TAKE ON WINE AND SPIRIT EDUCATION

NAPA Wine Academy

One potential student to win a $200 certificate to purchase wine

Napa, CA (January 14, 2013)  The Napa Valley Wine Academy launches its inaugural wine program this month with classes that bring students out of the standard classroom and into winery and food centers that place them closer to the subject matter at hand.

Instructors at the Academy are industry professionals who bring an energetic new take to wine and spirit education, using hands-on activities to inspire wine enthusiasts, and interactive learning techniques to help students studying for wine certification classes.

“The Napa Valley Wine Academy stems from our belief that there is no better place to learn about wine than in the heart of Napa Valley, America’s pre-eminent wine region”, says Chris Oggenfuss, Founder and Chief Educational Officer. “Combine this belief with our instructors, who not only teach, but live and breathe the subject matter of wine, and you have a recipe for student success.”

Win a $200 Certificate to Back Room Wines

One of the benefits of taking classes through the Napa Valley Wine Academy is the quality of wines which will be tasted. In its excitement for the large variety of wines available in its local market, the Napa Valley Wine Academy is holding a sweepstakes with the grand prize being a $200 certificate towards the purchase of wine at Back Room Wines, downtown Napa’s fine wine retailer. The winner will have the opportunity to stock up on his or her wine cellar or get a leg up on tasting different wines of the world in preparation for a WSET certification class.

Sign up for the Napa Valley Wine Academy Newsletter at www.napavalleywineacademy.com to gain entry into the sweepstakes.

Exciting Classes

A range of classes and wine certification courses are being offered by the Napa Valley Wine Academy:

Basics and Beyond the Basics

The 2-3 hour Basics classes are ideal for wine country visitors, those just entering the wine business, and general enthusiasts, with offerings such as: Prelude to a Sip : So What Am I Smelling and Tasting?  and  It’s a Bubbly World – Sparkling Wines from Around the World.  There are also a series of Beyond the Basics classes such as Wine Finds :  Lesser Known Wine Treasures from around  the World.

WSET Wine Certification Courses

Take your career to the next level:  The Napa Valley Wine Academy is an approved provider of the internationally recognized Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) certification courses, Levels 1 through 3.

Certain classes will be offered in Spanish and German.

Napa Valley Wine Academy instructors hold various wine and spirit degrees, but most importantly, what the Napa Valley Wine Academy offers is energy and excitement for sharing wines and spirits with both enthusiasts and those looking to advance their industry careers.

Napa Valley Wine Academy founder and partners are:

Christian Oggenfuss, AIWS, WSET-Certified, Founder and Chief Educational Officer of Napa Valley Wine Academy, is a second year Master of Wine student with the Institute of Masters of Wine in London and holds the Level 4 Diploma from the London-based Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET). Christian brings 20 years of wine experience to wine education as a marketer and brand builder for premium wine brands. He has also successfully launched wine related businesses in Switzerland and travelled extensively to all major wine regions in Europe and North America.

Catherine Seda, AIWS, is lead educator and partner, and holds the Level 4 Diploma in Wine & Spirits from the WSET. Catherine is an international wine accounts manager at Balzac Communications in Napa, CA, sits on the St. Helena Star and Napa Vintners Tasting Panel, and writes monthly wine columns for local and international publications.

Jürg Oggenfuss, WMD, C.S.W., is lead educator and partner and attended the Wädenswil School of Oenology, graduating with the “gold” Wine Merchant Diploma. After a successful wine retail career, Jürg works at Joseph Phelps Vineyards as a distinguished Wine Educator and Education Coordinator as well as host for VIPs. Jürg holds the Level 3 certificate with Distinction from the WSET, and is fluent in Schwiizerdütsch (Swiss-German), German, French, Italian, Spanish and English.

Guest instructors will also be invited to come speak.

Discovery 2012, A Good Year for Sipping Wine

Tis the season for fine wine at WineChateau.com.

 

I know I am a little late in getting this post out, but I took a couple of weeks off for the holidays. We have kids scattered from North Carolina to Georgia to South Carolina and decided to visit all then left out of Charleston December 30 to celebrate New Year’s Eve on a cruise ship – more about that in an upcoming post. But for now, I want to recap a few wine discoveries I had in 2012. It was a good year for sipping wine!

Chardonnay has long been a favorite of most wine drinkers and possibly a typical house wine for a lot of you.  For me, I was well into this “wine lifestyle” before I became a fan.  But today I truly enjoy a chilled white wine – it has to be on the cool side for me to drink it, a little cooler than even the recommended temperature but not so cold that you lose the flavors and aromas.  With that said, my new favorite Chardonnay discovery this year is Morning Fog from Wente Vineyards.  A crisp chardonnay with just a hint of cinnamon, Morning Fog has become one of my house wines.  I keep it on hand mostly for myself but love sharing it with friends.  If you haven’t tried this wine, I highly recommend it!

Moving through my 2012 lineup of favorites, I have to recommend “Rosé of Cabernet Franc” from Raylen Vineyards located in Mocksville, North Carolina.  Raylen Vineyards is part of the Yadkin Valley AVA, the largest AVA in North Carolina with more than 30 wineries, each serving up their own unique spin on your favorite wines.  I know some people refer to ice wines as “romantic” wines, but I think that is what Rosé is, a wine that can be enjoyed by everyone for every occasion.  It adds a touch of romance to life and we all need (and deserve) a touch of romance.  A lot of people think that Rosé is going to have a flavor profile similar to a white zinfandel, but that is not the case.  Today’s Rosé is dry but soft and full of flavor.  This particular Rosé has a tart strawberry and citrus finish that lingers slightly on the palate.  It is an excellent wine to drink by itself but also pairs well with spicy foods and chicken or turkey.  I recommend buying it by the case and even then, it won’t last long.

Last, but not least, on my list of new discoveries is Castillo Catadau Gran Reserva 2005 Tempranillo from Naked Wines (another new discovery/favorite).  Tempranillo was new to me.  I had received this wine in a shipment from Naked Wines and had saved it for Tempranillo Day – a day dedicated to the wine where wine enthusiasts all over the world are encouraged to drink Tempranillo and post your thoughts and comments through your preferred means of social media.  I was completely blown away by this wine!  It is mellow and smooth with hints of both caramel and vanilla.  You will notice that it is a 2005 which means that it was aged in the barrel for a good long while before it was released so there is no need for you to age it at home – just pop the cork and enjoy!  You can read reviews and comments about the Tempranillo on Naked Wines website.  It gets rave reviews and you won’t be disappointed.  Again, I recommend ordering it by the case.

And if you are not familiar with Naked Wines, check them out.  Become an “Angel,” find your new favorite wine and help support the winemaker’s in living the dream of making great wine.  Naked Wines has a bargain price on all their wines, but the Angel price is a real bargain.  So my final recommendation for the New Year, is Naked Wines.

Each of these wines is very affordable making them perfect for your house wine and for your everyday wine but they are also elegant enough to be the wine you share with friends and serve at special occasions.

I predict that 2013 is going to be another Great year for sipping wine so explore something new and enjoy!

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