Monday, September 30, 2013

That's a Steal! Foris Fly Over Red

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I've been a slacker of late - not writing much of anything except for nerdy things like literature reviews and strategic plans. I suppose we all have times when life things move into a lull...I suppose the past months have been that for me with the blog. If you were someone who has been pining for my beverage musings...I'm sorry. I don't however imagine that my absence has taken too much of a toll...

When I thought about the concept of "that's a steal," I was inspired to look at the notion broadly...not just the wine, but the food as well. I'd picked up a bottle of Fly Over Red, a Rogue Valley blend for Foris Winery, and I wanted to create around it a meal that was also delicious and inexpensive. Red blends are rather like my wine comfort food, and so I decided that I'd test out this one along with my ultimate food of comfort - grilled cheese and soup.

Of course I never do anything the "normal" way, so what I ended up with was open-faced grilled cheese with squash soup and a bean and corn salad. Since most of the food came from my garden, the total cost of the meal was about $2. What a steal! The wine, at $13 for the bottle, was by far the spendiest item in the bunch, but it was most definitely worth every penny. This wine is incredibly smooth, dark in flavor, and with a silky and heavy mouth feel. The nose is fruity with a bit of vanilla, which is what comes at the start of a sip as well...followed by just a bit of spice in the finish. I may have helped myself to more than one glass...

I figured I'd leave the recipes here as well in the event something looked good to you:

Summer squash soup (slow cooker version)
- 5lb yellow summer squash
- 4T bouillon (I used veggie, but you can use any kind you like)
- 1 gallon water
- 1 onion
- 4 cloves of garlic
- salt and white pepper to taste
- 1c 2% milk

Place all ingredients in a crock pot and put on low overnight. In the morning blend well with a hand blender until smooth. Add milk and let rewarm. Makes about 1 gallon of soup. I know the proportions are HUGE - I made enough to freeze.

Black bean and corn salad
- 1 can black beans
- 4 ears of sweet corn, uncooked
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 medium red onion
- 3T chopped, fresh cilantro
- 1/4c lime juice
- 1t cumin
- 1t olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste

Cut kernels off of corn. Wash and drain beans. Chop pepper and onion finely. Toss all vegetables with the cilantro and cumin. Whisk oil and lime juice together to form an emulsion and pour over salad. Salt and pepper to taste. Makes 2-4 servings depending on how much you like salad!

Grilled cheese - go here: to see Hannah Harto's awesome episode of "My Drunk Kitchen." Seems apropos.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

That's a Steal: Every Day Drinkers

When I say "every day drinker", I'm not talking about your alcoholic cousin Eddie.

No offense intended any of our readers actually have an alcoholic cousin Eddie.  Alcoholism is a serious disease and we support treatment for those in need.

What I am talking about is the bottle of wine you have absolutely no concerns about opening on a night like tonight, pouring yourself a glass, and writing a blog post.  I've been horrible about following my own advice and have none of those bottles on my rack right now so alas, I abstain.

I often get asked for suggestions for every day drinking wines that are in our "That's a Steal" price category; typically $15 or less.  So I'm going to let you in on a little secret.  Just for you, our fair readers, I share my top Pacific Northwest every day drinking selections:

  • H3 Cabernet Sauvignon, usually on sale for about $12. All Horse Heaven Hills fruit. You’d think it cost double what it does.
  • Columbia Crest Grand Estates Cabernet Sauvignon, usually on sale for $8.99 at your local grocer. Best “cheap” wine out there.
  • Desert Wind Ruah, often around $15 at the large grocers. A pretty nice red blend from the Wahluke Slope area.
  • Tamarack Firehouse Red, around $16. An even nicer red blend from Walla Walla.
  • Barnard Griffin Syrah, $15 in the stores. The Barnard Griffin “tulip label” wines are all very solid, reasonably priced, and broadly available.
  • StoneCap: All three of their reds are nice, less than $10. This is all estate fruit from Goose Ridge that didn’t fit the profile for whatever they are putting out under the Goose Ridge label.
  • Terra Blanca Arch Terrace: While listed at $25, you can often find most of these reds in the $17 range. It’s all Red Mountain estate fruit and is one of the best Red Mountain deals out there.

Personally I’d go with the H3, Desert Wind, and Barnard Griffin as every day drinkers…the Tamarack is a great "with dinner wine"…and the Terra Blanca for guests or to take to a party, etc.

StoneCap and the Grand Estates are nice, but I can tell the difference between those and the rest of the list.  I'm also a bit of a snob.


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

#WineWednesday: Future Home of Our Wine Cellar

Many of you playing along at home know that my wife and I just purchased our first home. We were actively searching for about 7 months and it was a lesson in compromise for sure. However, the one thing we never wavered on was having a place for our wine. Over the years we have had wine stored in spare bedrooms, closets, and even just on the floor in the living/dining room. Since we were looking to buy a place, we needed to make sure we could have appropriate storage for our 150-200+ bottles of wine. I give a range because while I normally keep my CellarTracker updated, once we started packing and moving it became all out of whack. One of my first orders of business is to re-inventory everything.

While it ain't pretty yet, I bring you the future home of our wine cellar. Our house is oriented north-south so our garage stays nice and cool. The open houses were on some relatively hot days here in Santa Rosa, CA and this area was still a cool 60 degrees, making it a great option to take care of the valuables.

Wine storage is important and I have definitely lost plenty of bottles due to poor storage so I am quite excited to have an area dedicated to the wine.




Tuesday, September 10, 2013

That's a Steal: Willamette Valley Vineyards 2012 Riesling

My absolute favorite part about wine-related journalism isn't when we get to taste super expensive wines (although that can certainly be fun), but suggesting incredible wines to my friends who ask what to get on a budget. No, one does not need to splurge to impress guests when it comes to wine. In fact, I'm going to use Josh's strategy and show a slightly different route you can take with less than $10.

Let's say you have guests coming over and you know you want to serve wine, but do your guests even drink wine? If they do, are they kind of snobby about it? If they don't, are they going to be scared off by something especially complex? You certainly don't want to bust out a box wine and everybody knows that 2 Buck Chuck is awful. Don't worry, I've got your back. BOOM:

Willamette Valley Vineyards' 2012 Riesling is where it's at. Yeah, I went there. A white wine. Call me a cheater, but our only criteria were "wines under $15" and I picked this up at Winco of all places for $9.95.

When it comes to getting the most bang for your buck, you want something approachable enough for non-wine drinkers, but also something interesting enough for people who know their way around a tasting room. WVV's Riesling does just that and here's what they have to say about it:
A semi-sweet wine. The nose opens with aromas of pear and pineapple, followed by lighter notes of citrus skin and sweet honeysuckle. The sip is led by dominant flavors of granny smith apple and stone fruit that lead into a creamy mouthfeel. Sweet and sour notes are supported by crisp acidity leading into the finish. Peak drinkability 2012 - 2014.
WVV's assessment is pretty spot on. I'm half way through the glass in the picture and the nose is sweet with hints of honey and pear. Taste follows through with the same. Plenty of residual sugar to please those typically turned off by wine, but subtle hints of green apple and honey to keep it complex enough for wine fans.

To further add to its resume, this stuff is extremely versatile. It goes well by itself, you can pair it with almost any dinner, and it even goes great with dessert.

So go on. Next time you need a wine on the cheaper end of the spectrum, don't be afraid to pick up Willamette Valley Vineyards' Riesling. You're in for a treat.