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Terra Andina – A Refreshing Sauvignon Blanc

This wine was a media sample from Palm Bay International.

WOW – now this is a first!  I am actually drinking and reviewing (enjoying) a Sauvignon Blanc.  I accept this as proof that I have truly come full circle and that my palate has evolved to the point that I can appreciate and enjoy wines whether red or white.  For those of you that have followed me on Twitter and have kept up with my blog, you know that I used to only drink red wine – hence the name. “Red Wine Diva.”  But today I am happy to say that I truly enjoy a variety of white wines as well.

Terra Andina

Even though I still back away from any wine that has too much citrus in it for my palate, I am finding that after a few sips, the citrus mellows out and the wine is very approachable.  On the first sip of this 2012 Terra Andina Sauvignon Blanc from Chili, I thought the citrus might be too much, but the lingering finish was very pleasant and led me to take another sip.  I have heard that it takes three sips of a wine to truly be able to define the flavor profile or the specific nuances of a wine and to know if you will like it.  Well, this Sauvignon Blanc just got better with every sip.  I was thrilled to actually enjoy a Sauvignon Blanc!!!

I found floral notes that danced on the palate switching from sweet to citrusy in a rhythm that made the wine both refreshing and desirable.  It is the kind of wine that you can just sip on or you can pair it with your favorite spicy food.  After dinner, I was craving chocolate and typically, white wines do not pair well with chocolate.  However, as luck would have it, the chocolate I just happened to have at home was perfect with this Sauvignon Blanc – Chili Chocolate from Lindt!!!

Chili Chocolate

This is a pairing that was meant to be – spicy chili chocolate and a smooth refreshing Sauvignon Blanc.  The wine took the spicy bite out of the chocolate.  The chocolate made the wine even more refreshing.  The combination of the two together, made both smoother.  I will definitely try this chocolate with other white wines in the future.

Varietal:  Sauvignon Blanc          Alcohol:  13.5%          Price:  $10.00 +/-

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Trader Joe’s Wine Haul – Part 1

We have a (fairly) new Trader Joe’s here in Winston Salem.  Although it has been her for a few months now, I just had my first shopping experience there Saturday.  I was anxious to see their wines.  I have never bought wine at Trader Joe’s before, but I have read some reviews and seen comments on Twitter – some good, some not so good. I will review each of the wines I bought hoping to give some valuable insight on what you can expect when you shop at Trader Joe’s.

Trader Joe's

My first Trader Joe’s wine – 2011 Tribunal Red (Tribunal Cellars made and bottled by Kunde Estates).

The person that helped me with my wine selections at Trader Joe’s explained that the store actually oversees the making of most their wines through various wineries working closely with each winemaker, tasting and blending until they get it right.  So in researching Tribunal, I did see on the Snooth website that this was bottled by Kunde Estates; which is one of my favorite wineries and one of only two wine clubs that I belong to.  This might explain why I really liked this wine.

I fell in love with this Tribunal.  It seems recently that I haven’t been able to find a wine that hit the palate just right, so it was leaving me with a craving.  Well this did it!  From the reading I was doing about this wine, it appears that it is a TJ favorite with a lot of their customers and they tend to run out of it for months at a time.  (Enough research on that, I headed back to TJ’s the next day and bought a case.)  I’m anxious to try the other wines I have purchased at TJ’s.  I am sure they won’t all measure up to this, but it is really nice to find a few good wines under $10 to stock up on.

I found my favorite flavor profile in this wine: leather, cherry, chocolate.  It was smooth and bursting with flavor that lingered just long enough on the palate.

One wine down, six to go and so far, a “thumb’s up!”

Varietal:  A mystery Sonoma “red blend”          Alcohol:  15.1%          Price:  $9.99

To read more about the wines offered at Trader Joes read, “TJWineCommunity – Recommendations of Trader Joe’s Wines.”

Wine for Breakfast

This wine was a media sample from Happy Bitch.

We’ve all heard the expression, “It’s five o’clock somewhere,” meaning it is appropriate to drink any time of day.  Well what about breakfast?  Sure an occasional Mimosa, but wine???  (Although I do have to admit that at one of the Wine Blogger’s Conferences we did pair wine with brunch – a Cab Sauv goes surprisingly well with country ham and biscuit.)

In the South one of our favorite things to do is have breakfast for dinner.  Now this creates an opportunity for some interesting pairings!

breakfast

I don’t always plan ahead for dinner so when I get home from work, we don’t have anything thawed to start cooking and sure don’t have the time to thaw something.  So a few nights ago when I got home hubby was trying to decide what to cook.  I suggested biscuits and gravy – apparently this clicked with him as he went to work immediately.  We cooked bacon and eggs as well.  While all this was going on, I had a bottle of Happy Bitch chilling.

This past summer I the pleasure of meeting Debbie Gioquindo (aka – Hudson Valley Wine Goddess) at the Wine Blogger’s Conference in Portland, Oregon.  Debbie is one of the owners of Happy Bitch Wines.  Being the thoughtful person that she is, Debbie brought an extra bottle with her to the conference that I got to bring home.

Happy Bitch is a Rosé blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir with a hint of effervescence.  It is slightly sweet with hints of melon, strawberry and rhubarb.  It is fun to drink and very refreshing, similar to an Italian Frizzante Rosé, with a bit less effervescence than champagne.  A perfect wine to carry on a picnic or any gathering as you won’t need a corkscrew.  This bottle is topped off with an old-fashioned crown cap.  Any beer opener will do.

It was actually a great compliment to “breakfast.”

Varietal:  Rosé (blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir)          Alcohol:  12%          Price: $13.99

To read more about this wonderful rosé:

Vino Las Vegas:  The Finger Lakes Can’t Help But Be Happy with Happy Bitch Rose Wine

C J Cocktails:  Happy Bitch Wines Toast Fun Females

Burgers and Bubbles

This Champagne was a media sample from the Finger Lakes Wine Alliance.

Until recently I thought champagne and sparkling wines were only drank when celebrating.  It didn’t matter what you were celebrating, you just had to be celebrating.  But thanks to social media, I have come to realize that champagne, like wine, is meant to be enjoyed any day.  You don’t need a special reason, you just need to open the bottle!  The champagne makes the day/event special.

I am really glad I came to this realization, as I have a few bottles of Champagne and sparkling wine I need to review.

hamburgerA couple of nights ago, I decided to pop (literally) open a bottle of sparkling wine from McGregor Vineyards.  I had actually been thinking about having sparkling wine all day.  So when I started home from work, I had to come up with a pairing.  I decided what better way to celebrate Finger Lakes Sparkling wines than with a traditional American hamburger.  And it worked – everything tasted better with this pairing.  the burger tasted better because of the sparkling wine and the sparkling wine tasted better because of the burger.  I think we have a winner!!!

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The McGregor 2008 Blanc d’ Noir is a 100% estate grown Pinot Noir sparkling wine made in the méthode Champenoise tradition. It is a complex and rich sparkler bursting with Pinot Noir fruit character, lingering tiny bubbles and a long finish. The experience is full, intense and even more gratifying with fine foods.  (quote from McGregor website).

There are several champagne mixers you can create that add even more variety to when and where you could drink champagne or sparkling wine.  The most famous is the Mimosa – simply combining Champagne with orange juice, but you can mix it up and try substituting Sprite for the orange juice and adding some sweetened strawberries for a refreshing afternoon take on the mimosa.  What a great way to cool off on a hot, humid summer day.You could also pour a glass of champagne and add an ounce of simple syrup and crushed, sweetened blackberries.

No matter how you blend it or mix it, make champagne and sparkling wine a staple in your house.  Have it readily available to serve friends when they drop by unexpectedly or to serve with that burger hot off the grill on any given night.  Champagne makes any day and any occasion a special event.

Varietal:  Pinot Noir          Alcohol:  13%          Price:  $29.99

Kickin’ It Into Gear

For those of you that read my blog regularly, you know that I have a section called, “America Dreaming.”  I started this segment of my blog to shine a light on people who have stretched beyond their comfort zone to live out their dreams.  My criterion was simple, the business had to be wine-related and had to have been started during the economic down turn.  All of the people I interviewed were happy.  They were doing what they wanted to do.  They had their piece of the pie.

compass

So I have decided that it is time to chase my own dream, to have my piece of the pie.  Through my writing I have been living vicariously through others.  Now it’s my turn.  I created a Kickstarter campagne to help raise money for the build out.  We found this great space in Bluffton, SC (just outside of Hilton Head) that we fell in love with and feel certain that it is the perfect location for the bar.  The bar will be in Old Town Bluffton, a historic district that has been revitalized and is alive with people and activities.  The bar is on Calhoun Street in the Promenade area.  People park at one end of the Promenade and walk to all the quaint little art shops, restaurants and bars.  If you walk to the end of Calhoun Street, you actually end up at the May River which dumps into the ocean.  The setting and the atmosphere of the whole area lends itself to fun and community – to meeting new friends, to living the American Dream.

sign

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I just sold my Mercedes last night to free up some cash for the build-out of the wine bar.  I am a little sad this morning thinking about letting the car go but I am trying to keep my eye on the prize – Latitude Wine Bar.

We have two weeks left on our Kickstarter campagne.  Please check it out – give us “kick” to keep us moving in the right direction.   Help me achieve the American Dream and have your name posted on the “wall of fame” at Latitude Wine Bar.  I have decided to have dedicated space for everyone who pledges to the campagne.

Thank you all for being part of the dream!!!

Grapes and Small Plates Returns

Grapes

Grapes and Small Plates returns to Winston Salem during the month of April for its second annual food and wine event.  This culinary event is an opportunity to try a great local restaurant at a really reasonable price.  Last year we discovered Cimarron and The District, both of which became immediate favorites during Grapes and Small Plates.  So as soon as I saw the event advertised again this year, I started scoping out all the new restaurants I could try.  This year’s event goes to a new level by partnering with local wineries and creating pairings for their menu.

The event started Tuesday, April 2.  There are 11 participating restaurants and five participating wineries.

We started this year’s event by going back to Cimarron.  To my surprise, they actually had someone from Childress Vineyards there pouring samples of the wines they had on the menu.  They were pouring the Childress Merlot, Chardonnay and Syrah as well as “3”.

Hubby ordered Prime Rib for his “small plate” and paired it with Childress Syrah.  His dinner was served with Au Jus, Horseradish Cream Sauce and Sautéed Vegetables, served with warm bread and a fresh basil olive oil dip.

2013-04-04 18.34.11

I selected Flank Steak marinated in a Sriracha, Lime, Cilantro and Cumin Sauce, then grilled.  This was served with Brown Sugar and Cinnamon Mashed Sweet Potatoes.  I also paired mine with the Childress Syrah.

2013-04-04 18.33.57

Each of our menu items was only $12.  The wine was $6 per glass.  We had a gourmet dinner for only $36.  The great thing about Grapes and Small Plates is that each restaurant prepares a special menu for each week, not just a special item.  You have several choices at each restaurant and the menu changes weekly.  It has been my experience with “Restaurant Week/Month” that each restaurant only offers one item for each night so this is a real treat.

Another added feature this year is a kiosk set up at each participating restaurant for donations to the Second Harvest Food Bank.

I already have a restaurant picked out for next week, but you will have to wait.  It is a surprise, and I have never eaten there so it should be fun!

For more information on Grapes and Small Plates, please visit:

Carolina Epicure:  2nd Annual Grapes and Small Plates

My post from the inagural Grapes and Small Plates

Media Samples

Explore exciting Spanish wines with great deals.

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I received an email several days ago from a college student wanting me to participate in a survey he was doing for a class.  The survey was sent to several wine bloggers.  I recognized most of the names on the email list and it seemed like good company so I decided to participate.  The questions were about blogging with some of them specifically directed toward the receiving of media samples.  He wanted to know if we (wine bloggers) thought of our media samples as simply “free wine” or if we blogged about wine simply to receive these samples.  His questions really got me thinking!

When I initially started blogging about wine, I had no idea that wineries or their media/public relations firms provided media samples so that we would tweet and blog about their wines.  I simply started blogging because I love wine.  I love the whole wine lifestyle – enjoying a glass of wine with dinner, sipping wine with friends, sharing a bottle with hubby over some great conversation as we unwind from the day  and visiting wineries and making new friends along the way.  I love it all!

A couple of years ago I received a DM (direct message) on Twitter from a winery wanting to send me a bottle of wine for a live tweet-up that was happening in the near future.  I was blown away.  Someone wanted to give me wine???  I didn’t even have a blog at that time, but I hit Twitter hard every day and had started gathering a few followers.  The thoughts of tasting a “sample bottle of wine” and sharing my thoughts with the whole Twitter-verse made me absolutely giddy!

Shortly after that, I started blogging about wine.  I’m no wine expert.  I don’t have a laundry list of flowery words to describe all the different tastes and aromas of a wine.  My descriptors are fairly limited, but my enthusiasm is not.  When I receive media samples in the mail today, I feel an obligation to taste the wines and write about them.  I am very particular about them.  I mark on the back of each bottle with a silver sharpie to identify that the bottle has to be reserved for a review to keep anyone else from opening it.

2013-04-03 19.53.04Now, don’t get me wrong.  I love getting media samples!  I have the wines shipped to my office (you know, that adult signature thing) and it is like having Christmas several times a year especially when I get in a shipment that I didn’t realize was coming – like the one I received last week.  Sometimes I wait until I get home to open the box, but other times I just can’t wait.  The suspense is too much – I have to know what is in that box.

So “Thank You” to the media firms, public relations firms and wineries that send wine my way for a review or a tweet-up.  I really appreciate the opportunity to promote your wines.

Please understand that I may not get to your wine and have an opportunity to post my thoughts for several weeks, maybe even months, but I will fulfill my obligation to you.

CHEERS!!!

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1287342311/latitude-wine-bar-build-out

Society of Wine Educators Annual Conference

In-Depth Tastings Flow Like Wine at Society of Wine Educators Annual Conference

Three-day event features internationally known speakers on a wide-range of topics

The Society of Wine Educators (SWE) will present an impressive lineup of in-depth classes for wine devotees at its 37th annual conference, to be held July 31 through August 2, 2013 at the Renaissance Hotel at SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida. Guided tastings will present wines and/or spirits from at least 15 different countries and 42 wine regions from around the world. Among the instructors teaching the sessions will be 21 Certified Wine Educators, 6 Master Sommeliers and five Masters of Wine.

The SWE annual conference is the country’s most comprehensive wine education event, offering a full spectrum of opportunities for wine educators, culinary students, sommeliers and general enthusiasts who seek to deepen and expand their knowledge about wines and spirits, and meet others who share their passion. Registration for the conference opened April 1st. A full list of sessions and speakers is available on the SWE website, www.societyofwineeducators.org/conference.

The concentrated three-day conference schedule will feature more than 60 sessions, as well as an International Wine and Beer Tasting, wine pairing events and networking opportunities with top educators in the field. Many of the presentations at the conference are one-of-a-kind opportunities. “You might never have the opportunity to taste these wines anywhere, unless you go there [to the source],” says Bill Whiting, CSW, Education Director for Banfi Vintners. “You might have to even spend hundreds or thousands of dollars to do so. And you get all that here, at the Conference.”

Now in its 37th year, the SWE annual conference has long been known among educators as an unusually rich resource in the world of wine and spirits. “It is an enormous amount of information and education, in a very small period of time,” said Linda Lawry of International Wine Center (NYC). “It’s very concentrated. There is nothing else like it.”

The Society of Wine Educators is the leading international organization of professionals dedicated specifically to wine and spirits education. It offers several highly-regarded certification programs for professionals in the wine and spirits industry, and its annual conference is the most comprehensive wine education event in America. Exams and seminars are offered throughout the USA and internationally. For more information, please contact: www.societyofwineeducators.org or call 202-408-8777.

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