Something Bubbly

I was in Wegman’s in Alexandria  (which is my new favorite grocery store by the way…you’ll see why in a bit) the day before Valentine’s Day grocery shopping. It was the madhouse you’d think it would be but it was also great. How is grocery shopping great? It becomes so when there are wine samples! In Maryland there is no alcohol sold in grocery stores but they do sell wine and beer in DC and VA.

As I neared the meat department, I saw a gentleman with two types of wine near the butcher case. Not being one to pass up samples, I partook. The first was a red wine blend. It was good but it lacked the “robustness” I like red wines to have. It was mellow but it was good. I explained to the sales associate that I had a Petit Verdot at home that we planned on having for Valentine’s Day so I wouldn’t need to purchase a red wine. The Petit Verdot we had was from our North Gate pick up a year ago.  At the suggestion of the winemakers, we aged it for a year and planned to open it with our totally divine Valentine’s Day dinner.

While at the meat department, I also sampled the sparkling wine Bon Vivant. It was really good. Not too sweet, not too dry. It was interesting becuse it tasted slightly sweet on the palate but finished dry. I really liked it! I talked to the wine associate a little more, picked up my meat, and told him if I’m still thinking about it in the next two aisles, I’ll be back. We’ll in less than two aisles I called Kelley, told him about it and came back. It was selling for $19.99 which was reasonable.

As I finished my shopping, I went over to the wine section and was totally surprised. They had a really nice variety of local wines and wines from other states. I saw several bottles from Breaux Vineyards, Trump Winery and a few others. Once I saw the Trump Blanc de Blanc, I became torn. We really like that one and the $22.99 price tag made it competitively priced. However, I was only buying one. After calling Kelley back he left it up to me. Grrr. In the end, I chose the Bon Vivant. And I chose it because we had Blanc de Blanc before and now knew where to get it so I thought we should try something different to see if we should add this to our repertoire.

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When I got home someone thought that we should chill it and open it right after dinner that night although I thought it would be great after our Valentine’s Day dinner. I think Kelley was just excited to try it. And, he liked it. As I mentioned, it’s slightly sweet but dry so he was surprised at first sip. After two or three, he really began to enjoy it.

I would recommend this bubbly if your wine partner likes dry and you like sweet or vice versa. I think it’s a hapoy medium.

See you in the wine department!

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A Day Trip to St. Michael’s

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In late January we spent the afternoon in St. Michael’s, MD. If you are unfamiliar, St. Michael’s is located about 1.5 hrs from the DC area. It’s a great afternoon trip and if you want, staying overnight is definitely an option.

We landed upon St. Michael’s just after the 2016 Blizzard so there wasn’t much of a crowd. Our first stop was Mike and Eric’s Front Street Restaurant & Bar. Mike helped us and I’m telling you, he was the nicest guy ever. So engaging and really made the start of our trip great. The food was delicious. We had the lamb bolognese and the lamb burger. Yum! Can you tell we like lamb?

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Mike and Eric’s (photo courtesy of Tripadvisor.com)

Next stop after a little walking around was Lyon Distilling. You must go here when you are in St. Michael’s. This was one the best rums we’ve had. The dark rum was actually a batch the owner made for friends. His wife encouraged him to bottle for the distillery and it turns out that it’s their best seller. The dark rum runs $39. We also got the corn whisky (aka moonshine). That was $60. We like both because they are smooth and you can tell they are good quality. The rum is 90 proof, the whiskey is 100 proof.

Last stop was St. Michael’s Winery. This winery is unique in that you pay $1 per tasting. So you try as many as you want for $1 a pop. We liked 2 of their wines the most. We ended up getting the Pinot Gris which is white and has a crispness to it, not too sweet, not too dry ($17). The other we liked was the Island Beauty Reserve but we weren’t in the mood to drop $45 when we just left the distillery.

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All in all, we had a great afternoon. Next time, we’re going to start out when it’s early and warmer. We’re definitely going back to Mike & Eric’s and will swing past Lyon Distilling to replenish our soon to be depleted stash. Two bottles of rum next time for sure!

Our Visit to Breaux Vineyards

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We have heard good things about Breaux Vineyards and decided to check them out. When you arrive, the property is large and there are two buildings–one for tasting and one for events. There is also a greeter when you arrive because, yes, the tasting room is that large.

There is a standard tasting menu and another for wine club members which is a nice perk. The standard menu had 6 wines on it. I thought that was pretty slim considering it was $10 to taste BUT I was surprised that everything was good. You won’t believe it…we both like everything. I know–shock. Kelley liked some more than I did but overall all the wines were really good.

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The standouts for both of us were the 2014 Viognier, the 2013 Marquis de Lafayette, 2014 Jennifer’s Jambalaya and the 2010 Cellar Club. Only the Viognier was white and we have never had a Viognier that good. The tasting associate told us that it won an award and its been said that it taste how Viognier is supposed to taste.

The Marquis de Lafayette had that boldness that VA reds are known for and we had it with dinner one night, it was really off the hook. I’m discovering that I really enjoy Cab Franc and this one did not disappoint. Kelley is saving the Cellar Club to open later but that was his absolute favorite. It was bold and complex in flavor. The sweet tobacco and pepper are standouts in the flavor department.

Jennifer’s Jambalaya was a blend and I really feel like that if you are have a diverse and broad palate, you can’t go wrong with a blend.

The one thing we liked about all the wines is that they were sip wines so no worrying about having to pair them. Because sometimes you just want to come home and have a glass of wine while you cool down from the day.

We liked Breaux so much that are considering joining their wine club.

 

 

Trump Sparkling: Something Festive for the Holidays

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When we first tried Trump wines about 15 years ago we didn’t like them. They were super dry and we were newbie wine drinkers so we liked everything sweet. Needless to say, we were not impressed. Fast forward to today and we heard all these great things about Trump wines so we decided to give them a shot. They had a booth at the Vintage Virginia Wine Festival and we made sure to swing by. That was good stuff! We ultimately walked away with the 2009 Blanc de Blanc. Vintage is important as they have 2008 but we had the 2009. It’ll run you just shy of $25 and it’s worth it. Crisp, light, not overpowering and not sweet but not so dry where it can turn you off. We also learned that that switched up the process for making their wines so that could have contributed in part to our initial dislike.

This wine would be great for Thanksgiving or Christmas mostly because of the bubbles but also it’s hard to go wrong with bubbly–it just pairs well with so many things and goes over with mostly everyone.

October is Virginia Wine Month

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Virginia loves their wine and they are showing it by honoring their wineries with a whole month! As a nod to Virginia Wine Month, restaurants will offer local wines (which they should do anyway), there are several wine festivals and retailers are having some fun tastings lined up. For more information, check out Virginia Wine Month Online for more information.

The Vine @ 868 Vineyards

868 Vineyards has a ladies wine dinner every month that is a real treat. It’s 7-9:30pm and includes 3 courses. The Doc and I went in July and the dinner was really good. And, we got to sit outside which was peaceful and made for a lovely summer evening.

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For July, The Vine theme was Island Wines. We started with an hors d’oeuvre of Grouper Ceviche on a Spoon along with a great cheese and cracker spread. That was served with 868’s Canvas White. It’s a semi-sweet white that paired really well. It’s light and perfect for summer.

The first course was awesome. We had Jerk Chicken over Garlic Cumin Rice with Scallion – Watermelon Salsa. This course was paired with Maui Blanc from Hawaii. Let’s start by saying I do not like watermelon but this salsa was good. Good like as in I wanted to make it good. That’s saying a lot coming from me. The chicken wasn’t very spicy like other Jerk dishes I’ve had but that wasn’t a bad thing because it was paired perfectly with the wine. Maui has one winery and their wine is made from pineapples. I thought this wine was going to be sweet but it was like a dry pineapple so it had sweetness but not a whole lot. It paired so well with the Caribbean flavors, actually perfectly. This wine ran $26 and since Kelley loves Jerk I picked up a bottle.

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Onto the second course…Curry Shrimp and Bacon Lardon over Orzo and Tomato Salad with Green Tomato Vinaigrette. I admit, I had to Google what a lardon was and for anyone reading who doesn’t know, it’s a fatty piece of bacon that’s used to add a ton of flavor. This dish was good and was paired with Argioles Vermentino Costamolio ($25) which is a white wine that has hints of citrus which is a perfect pairing for the lightness of shrimp. The notes 868 gave us said it would pair well with salads, seafood and Asian cuisine which I definitely agree.

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The last course was dessert. Ummm…the bomb! It was a Chocolate Banana Bar with Vanilla Gelato. This thing was good. I loved it! It was paired with Bedell Taste White which ran $29. I always thought chocolate would go with red wine but because the banana was mixed in a red would have been a little overwhelming. It’s a blend of Alabarino, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc  and Voignier so it’s not sweet and not too dry.

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All in all, this dinner was great and I’m still thinking about the chicken dish along with that salsa. Yum!! I thought the pairings were good and never would have thought about them for the dishes.  The Maui Blanc and the Canvas White were my stand outs for the night but then again, I like semi-sweet wine.

The Vine is a great opportunity to step out there and try some different wines along with unique dishes. The chef at 868, which has the Grandale restaurant on their property, is so creative. The ingredients he pairs fascinate me, I’m not nearly that creative. And, you are paired with other ladies at your table so we met some wine dinner friends.

By the way, Kelley and I went to an outdoor concert and he made Jerk Chicken which we had with the wine. It was very complementary.

Blackwater Distilling

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Thanks to Groupon we took an afternoon and ventured over to Blackwater Distilling, home of Sloop Betty Vodka and Picaroon Rum. This distillery was started by two brothers and is located just across the Bay Bridge in Maryland. The Groupon included a tour and a bottle of Sloop Betty Vodka. We really went for the vodka although the tour was interesting. On the plus side, these tours really allow you to see the passion of the distiller.

First, we tasted the Sloop Betty Vodka. It was good according to Kelley as I’m not keen on vodka. It was somewhat smooth. Then we tried the seasonal Honey Vodka which was very good. Yep, it’s honey in vodka and it was smooth. The honey is organic along with most of their ingredients. I asked if we could get the Honey Vodka instead of the regular one since they were the same price but that was a no go.

Then on to the rum! We really like rum and the Picaroon did not disappoint. We tried the white and dark, ultimately purchasing the dark. It had tropical undertones and was really good. They make it with sugar cane instead of molasses and other ingredients that many rum companies use.

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Since our purchase, we have polished off the bottle of rum and most of the vodka. We are planning to get more and so should you! I say planning because you either get it from the distillery or a liquor store near the shore. 😦

Oh No, I Froze My Wine!

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Have you ever put your wine in the freezer just for a few minutes but winded up completely forgetting about it? Yep, this happened to us. What do you do? Well, we went to Google but in an effort to save you the endless reading we’ll summarize.

In short, all is not lost. We put ours in the fridge and let it defrost there. Did it taste different? YES. But it wasn’t too far off from the actual taste of the wine. It lost a little of its punch (we had a red wine by the way) but was still pretty good. And, there weren’t any particles at the bottom which Google warned us about.

So, if you freeze your wine in the future you can still drink it however we will add that you should be prepared for the flavor to be slightly off. Also, be sure to pair it well. I planned our wine to be a sip but after opening post freeze, it was better served paired.

Diner en Blanc in DC

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Bonjour! What better way to come back from a blogging break than with a great event for you. Kelley and I were invited to attend Diner en Blanc in DC on August 29th. If you are unfamiliar with the concept, it started 25 years ago in Paris and has since spread all over the world (this is a great short documentary). Essentially, you don all white attire along with a table, chairs, plates, napkins, glasses and silverware then meet your leader at your assigned spot who then leads you to the event which is unknown to you until you arrive. Yes, you schlep your stuff on Metro and walk and then have no idea where we were going until you see the sea of white. This year’s event took place on the lawn of the Carnegie Library across the street from the Convention Center.  We have lived in DC all our lives and never would have guessed this location. Ever! Diner en Blanc did not disappoint. We had a great time.

In case you are wondering how to get in, you have to either be invited or get on the waitlist. Just a heads up, the waitlist had 12,000 people on it this year and only a few hundred get in. The final count this year was expected to be 2,500 attendees. Yes you are correct, this was the hottest ticket in town.

The event starts with setting up tables, then twirling the napkin to signal the beginning of dinner followed by eating, sparklers signaling the close of dinner and then the party starts. And since this is wine blog we’ll talk about the wine for second. The wine had to be ordered in advance otherwise we would have loved on our local wineries. We opted for Apothic Red. Its robust and goes with almost everything. You can find it in Costco for $9. If you see it for more than $12 you overpaid. With that, I won’t even tell you how much we paid but let’s just say it wasn’t the Costco price.

Here are a few of our pics. We look forward to next year! Au revoir!

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Saude Creek Winery

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We first went to Saude Creek last summer and this summer came back again. It’s on the way to Hampton Roads, not too far off I-64. We have a list of wines we like and they are on it for sure.

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We didn’t do a tasting this time and instead decided to go off our wine list. Since we wanted to keep our spending to $40, we opted for the Squire’s Blend and The Tavern White. Both are semi-sweet wines. The Squire’s Blend is literally a blend. It’s part Chambourcin and part Muscadine so it has a nice blush color. It’s tasted like Chambourcin with a big kick of sweet. To more specific, it has berry flavor and doesnt posess the boldness Chambourcin usually has so it is perfect for summer.

The Tavern White is a summer sip as well. It has the sweetness of summer fruit but a nice mellowness about it. This one is my favorite and the Squire’s Blend is Kelley’s–if you read out blog, this is not surprising.

The porch at Saude Creek is awesome. It’s the perfect spot to sip and snack. If you go, let us know what you think.

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