Articles Written By: Sandra Muller
Here in the North East, every one is excited that spring has arrived. Well almost every one. In the Muller household we are happy to have winter (ski season) last as long as possible. Then have it magically be 78 and sunny! ( Which of course never happens because we have to troll through mud season first.) This winter has bestowed beautiful ski conditions upon us. And in this season of fun, fresh air, and good ski food we have enjoyed many bottles of rich Cabernet ( to keep Il Divo happy) and an array of lush Brunello’s to compliment our pasta refuel dinners. But in the spirit of a new season, it is time to shift into spring veggies and, different ski’s….
Here are two delicious and organic wines to kick off your spring with:
SEPP MOSER GRUNER VETLINER 2011 KREMSTAL AUSTRIA: This fresh bright white wine is the pride of Austria. It’s yellow green color and zippy apple and citrus flavor is a great match for spring veggies and soft cheese. A nice wine to consider for your Easter dinner of ham and scollop potatoes. The Sepp Moser vineyard is a biodynamic farm that takes great care in pride in having the most earth friendly organic methods of farming. An amazingly great priced wine at about 14.00
3 DEGREES PINOT NOIR 2010 MCMINNVILLE OREGON: Always a food friendly choice of wine, the pinot noir has a bright cherry flavor and complex mustiness that is another great companion to spring dinners. The 3 Degree’s has been a big hit amongst my corporate clients. Everyone enjoying the lighter feel than a heavy cabernet and how it compliments a wide array of appetizers from cheeses, salmon and roasted veggies. Another earth friendly biodynamic wine. You can easily find this fantastic pinot for around 18.00.
With the big day tomorrow, I wanted to share with you a fabulous wine that is perfect for Valentines Day. I served this wine at our women’s wine club last week and it was a huge hit. It is a traditional grape varietal from Spain called the Bobal. If you are a Pinot Noir fan, or like something even fuller, this is a great one to try. Upon opening the bottle, it is very “tight”. Meaning it needs a little air before it is ready to enjoy. But when it opens up after about 25 minutes, it has a rich spicy quality, with smooth berry and a touch of chocolate. Wonderful to serve with a spicy tomato sauce, grilled meats, or even go casual and order a pepperoni pizza with this one! Even my “California Cabernet only” drinking husband, Il Divo, really liked this one. We enjoyed it with spicy steamed mussels and pasta.
The bottle itself, Pasion de Bobal, evokes a touch of romance with hearts adorning a tree on the label. Not only is it a beautiful bottle and a wonderful tasting wine, it is also from an organic farm. Nice to enjoy a terrific wine and know that the extra care and dedication of organic farming is in the bottle. The Pasion de Bobal has a fantastic price tag too, about 14.99.
Love this wine! I’m going to make this “Passion” something we enjoy often at my house…
Valentine’s Day can be a sweet day of loving reminders, cute presents, thoughtful notes, romantic dinners and warm hearts. It can also be a day when a wine choice is making you nervous for that perfect moment of romance and candles. What are some great wine choices that exude romance? One always thinks of Champagne. It’s effervescence and crispness on the tongue compliment oysters to start and rich creamy dessert to end. It is also a very food friendly choice for many meals you may choose. I enjoy bubbly with sushi, fried chicken, pasta with cream sauce, cheeses and fruit. The price of french Champagne, especially if it is vintage, can be very unromantic though. So what are some sexy bubbly recommendations from your favorite Wine Chick? I will break it down into several price categories to fit your romance budget.
MIONETTO PROSECCO: I love this Italian wine for it’s refreshing dry finish and melon and pear fragrance. It’s light straw color and tiny bubbles make for a wonderful and fresh sparkler that can enlighten a brunch or lunch. And be a refreshing beginning to your evening. At about 12.00 a bottle. Enjoy a couple of bottles!
MUMM NAPA BRUT ROSE: With it’s lovely romantic pink color and soft wisp of strawberry, this California sparkler can be served with Thai all the way to Italian food. Made from 85% Pinot Noir and 15% Chardonnay, it has a nice medium mouth feel and the berry flavor adds a soft delicious finish. Price about 19.99
TATTINGER LA FRANCAISE AND VEUVE CLICQUOT YELLOW LABEL: Having compared both these bottles side by side, I find the Veuve to be my favorite with it’s smooth and elegant approach. The La Francaise has bubbles that excite and a dry finish with hints of toast. Both are easy to find and are winning choices. Tattinger La Francaise price about 40.00 and the Veuve Clicquot price is about 45.00
LOUIS ROEDERER CRYSTAL: This legendary Champagne is the big daddy for a memorable night! If you are planning on a special night of proposing marriage, rekindling flames, or celebrating LOVE. This is the perfect bottle of sexy bubbles to celebrate with. Created for a Russian Tsar in the 1800′s, it is made under the strictest criteria of perfect Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes. With a price tag of around 180.00 it is definitely for that big night!
I don’t know about the rest of the country, but in my neck of the woods everyone is sick! Strep, stomach flu, fevers, colds, the works. My boys both had versions of these illnesses, and good Lord save us all, Il Divo came down with the fever. And let me tell you, Scarlett O’Hara has nothing on him. Me, I’m gratefully healthy. Can I attribute this great health to wine? Well it is the one thing that I add to my body every day. It does have scientifically proven anti-oxidents to prevent illness. So lets just say that’s my story and I’m sticking with it.
Now my mother on the other hand. A woman who raised me to have an appreciation of wine. Who has prided herself of never being sick. And consumes daily as I do. We have prided ourselves of being fully marinated that no bad bacteria could possibly thrive in our bodies. Has finally fallen down with bronchitis. This stoic Irish Lady of New England, otherwise referred to as The Grand Dame, does the proper Irish tradition of making beef stew for all that ails you. So she called me and asked if the bottle of red wine she has had in the fridge all week is okay to use in her stew. She cannot smell very well from congestion and was curious. So my answer to her was that if you CAN smell a bit of a paint thinner or a deep musty smell, that you should not use it in cooking. It will permeate through your stew. Only cook with what you will drink. So she took a sip, and with her compromised tastebuds decided that it would do well in her Beef Stew.
I hope you are all staying healthy while we run around preparing for the Holidays. Drink your red wine! Although I have my suspicion that something is lurking, plotting, and planning my demise. I’m sticking with my health plan.
I get asked often, ” What is a good bottle of wine to give for a Holiday gift?”. This question encompasses so many different factors depending on the person you are buying for. If you know they are a Cabernet drinker, or favor light whites. Then your purchase is an easy one to make. But if you are not sure about your recipients preferences, or your concerned because you know they are “really into wine”, then the wine I am suggesting to everyone who asks me is a bottle of tawny port. What I like about giving port as a gift is it is a bottle of wine that can be enjoyed for more than just one experience. Port is a “fortified” wine. Meaning they pump it up with a type of clear alcohol, like a clear brandy, that stops the fermentation process and leaves behind the residual sugar in this delicious wine. It also make the alcohol content quite high so sip cautiously! Once the bottle is opened it can be enjoyed for a few months without turning or “going bad”. Then you are giving a gift that they can keep enjoying. So for anyone you know who enjoys wine, perhaps chocolate too. Confidently give a bottle of port and a box of chocolates for a truly memorable holiday gift.
Here are a couple of suggestions. I have served these recently at some wine tastings and they were real crowd pleasers.:
Barros Colheita port price about 36.00. Wonderful flavor of dried fruit and vanilla
Offley Porto 2000 price about 32.00. Lush with current, raisin and toffee.
Sandeman Tawny 20 year old Port price about 46.00. A personal favorite with flavors of rich honey, caramel and spice.
Something has changed here in the great North East. Today the air changed. The humidity is finally leaving us. Hopefully the mosquitoes too. The wind has kicked up, the skies are grey and the gardens are slowing down. I for one am thrilled about this time of year! When the weather changes so dramatically, so does our cuisine. The crock pots are getting pulled down from the shelves, those chili recipes and stews are on their way. Roasted fall veggies and warm loaves of bread. Yes, carb season has arrived. I’ve come to realize that I always gain a few pounds in the summer. Sitting on the beach, it’s hot and sticky and cool cocktails always seem to start early in the afternoons. Plus all those chips and guacamole. Uhg. So now that the kids are back in school. And the air is cool and dry. I can hit the pavement for a run, hike,or kayak in the Sound. But carb season beckons. These seasonal and epicurean changes make for a great time to try a few new wines. Recently I tried to sneak red wine other than California Cabs to Il Divo. He tries them, shrugs, and opens a Cab. I can only try! But I’m hoping you are all a bit more open minded and with generous palates.
Before I get to the reds. I want to tell you about a beautiful white wine that is so soft and fruity with just the right acidity. It will compliment my great grandmothers recipe for fish chowder perfect. It is a Chenin blanc (name of grape). The name is: Botanica Chenin Blanc from South Astralia. Medium bodied with mineral taste and flavors of apricot and pear that lingers. It is made by a female wine maker and has the most beautiful label from a female artist in the 1700′s. The price is about 20.00
And now on to some reds. Il Divo has his feet cemented in the ground with his love for Cabernet. So I’ll humor him and suggest one. It is a bottle that I served at his Birthday party last year and everyone loved it. The name is Uppercut Cabernet from Napa. Just what Il Divo loves, big and fruity. With a bit of sweetness from the black cherry and warm cocoa. It’s a favorite of his and if your a Cabernet lover, you’ll enjoy it. The price is about 28.00
I love to inspire people to try Spanish wines. This red has a rustic spicy flavor with blackberry. A great wine for those chili recipes. Also a great price for those big Sunday football game watching parties. Oh, well you know what I mean. When all the guys plop themselves on your couch and you serve chili. This is the wine to try. Bodegas Castano Heculas Monestrell. The price is great at about 10.00 a bottle.
See the pics of the labels below so you have a point of reference. Happy Fall!
I’m embedded in the rolling hills of New Hampshire at my parents lovely home. Perfect summer days of swimming and croquet. When us wine sucking flatlanders, as they call us up here, are invited to the great North East I try to remember not to wear my Yankee’s baseball hat. I made the mistake the other morning going into Dunkin Doughnuts. Many glaring eyes met my entrance. (note to self, leave Yankee hat home next time). But being a guest at my parents house is a treat. My mother “La Grande Dame”, is a hostess of tireless service with attention to detail and flare like no other, spoiles me with treats. As dad and I lay by the pool she arrives with a silver tray and two glasses of the endless rounds of cool lightly oaked Chardonnay that flow through their home. I swear I think they have tanker truck filled with it, hidden on the property somewhere.
I enjoy Chardonnay on occasion. But I do prefer a more citrusy lighter wine in the summer. So I went to the local shop and picked up a mixed case of wines. Some sparkling wine (Mumm Napa) for our family luncheon tomorrow. To toast my two grandmothers and their surprising good health and beauty. Grammie is more of a scotch drinker. And at 91, has beautiful skin and less grey hair than me! (note to self, start drinking scotch upon turning 60) And GG at 85, is a ball of fire with whit and sharp recall of every event, trip, celebration and current state of politics. This all accredited to her daily consumption of a little red wine. (Note to self, keep up with the red wine.)
I thought I would bring a few new wines into “La Villa Chardonnay” so I purchased a few spanish whites and Italian whites. The Spanish I chose is a medium bodied floral and slightly lemon flavored Las Brisas from Rueda. It’s half Verdejo and the other half is Vuira and a touch of Sauvignon blanc. It’s crisp and fruity. And reasonably priced too. About 10.00. Upon tasting this wine, my father declared he did not like it. So back to Chardonnay he went.
The next white I purchased is a favorite of mine. The Lugana Zenato. A wine made from Trebbiano grapes and it has a wonderful acidity and straw and citrus flavor. We wil be tasting this at our luncheon tomorrow accompanied by chicken salad with cranberries and walnuts. I’ll let you know what the reviews are from the Aunties and Grandmothers.
And for my brother, who falls into the same cabernet loving catagory as Il Divo. I got some Wildhorse Cabernet. A classic Paso Robles cab. I love the vineyard and have been there many times. Rich, cherry, spices, chocolate and yummy. Big Al enjoyed it with his burgers the other night. (note to self, buy a case to put in his beautiful but empty wine cellar.)
So I’m off to take the kids and their cousins to Canobie Lake Amusement park today. La Grande Dame just arrived from the store announcing she bought a couple of cheap bottles of Chardonnay. I guess they don’t have a tanker truck filled after all.
I know we all have lots of BBQ and party plans, so here is a list of wines that you’ll need to pick up for all the festivities.
Fresh Starters: It is a celebratory weekend so why not start off with something bubbly? There is no need to break the bank on this either. And sparkling wines are extrememly food friendly. They compliment cheese, salads, and especially fried chicken. (I’m bringing Sparkling wine and Fried Chicken to the beach tonight!)Here are a few suggestions:
Domain Carneros from Sonoma. I love this sparkler for it’s classic French approach. Toasty, with the right size bubbles. And it’s American! Priced about 21.00
Mionetto Prosecco from Italy. Fresh and bright with a nice apple crispness. Price about 10.00
BBQ Wines: Just remember, the bigger the food the bigger the wine. Some BBQ’s will have a range of foods from shell fish to ribs.
Lighter BBQ for grilled fish and chicken: You can go with either white or red here. But the red has to be more of a medium bodied wine so as to not overpower the meal.
William Fevre Chablis from Bordeaux France: I love this wine for it’s elegantmineral and apple flavor. It is made from the chardoanny grape but without the heavy oakiness. It’s always been a hit at many of my seminars.Price about 18.00
Le Crema Chardonnay: For all you big California Chardonnay fans, a BBQ is the perfect time to open them up. The smoke from the grill and the richness of the oaky Chard is a great match. There are too many good California Chards to even start recommending. But I like the La Crema for it’s consistancy and price for serving a big crowd. Priced about 13.00
Montinore Estate Pinot Noir: Again, there are too many wonderful Pinot’s to even pick just one. But I enjoy this Pinot from Oregon when it is chilled nicely and served with grilled salmon. Wonderful! Price about 15.00
Big Boy BBQ Wines: Robust marinades and sweet and spicey sauces require some big wine to accompany. Classic California Cabs work nicely. As do Italian Barbera’s. But my fav is a nice old vine Zinfandel.
J. Lohr Cabernet: Il Divo keeps our house fully stocked with this consistantly rich and fruity cab. Great wine for Burgers and grilled onoins. Price about 14.00
Pio Cesar Barbera: From the Piedmont region of Italy. This smooth wine has balckberry and vanilla and would compliment Steaks and marinades. Price about 18.00
Lodi Zin: We had this at our wine club meeting this week. I loved it so much I grabbed the last 5 bottles that were there! Big sexy and intense in flavor. Perfect with ribs, strong BBQ sauces. Find this one, it’s great! Price about 14.00
Happy Fourth of July friends! Be safe. Be grateful we live in such a wonderful country. Give a toast to our Troops oversea’s.
Finally the last day of school has arrived. I think I’m just has happy about it as my kids! But on the other hand, what the heck am I going to do with these wild boys all summer?! I know it’s a feeling a lot of Mom’s get the last day of school. My friend Stephanie hosts a “Cheers and Tears” cocktail party every year on the night of the last day of school. A chance for us moms to toast summer vacation, and book up our calendars for play dates. I’ve made a beautiful appetizer of grilled shrimp and pineapple on skewers. And the perfect wine to go with this fun dish is a fresh light white wine. Now, I have been talking about the Gruner Vetliner often recently. But the reason is, I think it’s a zippy, light and fresh wine for summer. The bottle I’m bringing tonight is the Berger Gruner Vetliner from Austria. The price is about 13.00. It is slightly effervescent with a hint of citrus and stone. It also comes in a very cool Litre bottle! And to reconfirm my enthusiasm for new bottle top methods such as the screw top, this bottle has a “beer cap” top that you pop off with a beer opener! Simple and casual. Love it! ( Honestly, I’m bringing two bottles…)
Happy Summer vacation to you and your families. Have lots of fun and adventure. Sip some summer wine, and wear lot’s of sunscreen!
I recieved an excited text from my friend Ashlee. “My pink prosecco is now screw top!” She was reffereing to the Riondo Pink Prosecco that had an exceptionally difficult cork top to open. And is now a screw top, or in the industry a “Stelvin” cap. So why all the excitement? Don’t we all enjoy the romanitc sound of the pop of a cork? The procedure of using a cool new tech gadget to open a botttle? Well, I can say that I’m with Ashlee. I love the screw tops! You crack them open easily, they screw back on and actually fit in your refridgerator. I never did like the plastic version of a cork that some vineyards were using. And some even have a glass stopper that I have accidently broken a few corkscrews on. Many vineyards are embracing the screw caps. New Zealand and Australia have led the way with as much as 70% of their wine enclosed in screwcaps. The cost of a winery changing it’s corking process to a screw top can be quite expensive so it may be a while before you see some of your other favorites changing over. But I hope everyone can be as happy with the change as Ashlee and I.
Here are two bubbly screwtop wines that are fantastic hot weather sippers:
Riondo Pink Prosecco price 11.00. This Italian fizzy fun pink wine is fresh and has a lovely fruity berry wisp. It’s become a big hit amongst my wine girlfriends and is great for a hot evening sipper. A bit romantic and very festive!
Gazela Vinho Verde from Spain. Price 9.00 A fresh clear wine with a light green color. It has a delicate nose and a hint of green apple and melon. A lightly effervescent wine that is lower in alcohol and a refreshing beach/pool wine. Think of it as a white wine sprtizer in a bottle. Try it!