OkieWineGirl

A Wine Drinker Rambling about Wine

Month: December 2015

It’s a Christmas Sickness

The best part of Christmas break is being able to stay in your PJs two or three days in a row, eat enormous amounts of sweets, drink Cab/champagne/grenache with breakfast and watch all your favorite movies, if you’re into that sort of thing, which I am most heartily.  Our family loves Christmas movies which we start watching Thanksgiving night and continue until Christmas.  It’s such an obsession that we started a collection and try to add a new one each year. It’s a Christmas sickness. Some people collect ornaments. We collect holiday films.

Now, the way we determine the order in which these beloved Christmas films are viewed is by quoting lines to each other . . . sounds weird, I know.  So, I might say to my husband, “In the heat of battle my father wove a tapestry of obscenities that as far as we know is still hanging in space over Lake Michigan.”

And He’ll reply, “We came here to rob them and that’s what we’re gonna do – beat their heads in, gouge their eyes out, slash their throats. Soon as we wash the dishes.”

And I’ll agree by  quipping “Your opinion of me has no cash value.”

The deal is sealed with “I’ll say one thing about prison. You meet a better class of people.”  And we open a bottle and watch We’re No Angels.

We're No Angels - but they are lovely actors!

We’re No Angels – but they are lovely actors!

 

In order to get into the “feel” of the film which is based in Cayenne or “Devil’s Island”, we opened a lovely Malbec from the  mountains of  Argentina.

 

Terrazas Reserva Malbec 2012

Terrazas Reserva Malbec 2012

Eventually we went back to my first pick after quoting, “Flick? Flick who?”  There are Jeopardy like questions to be pondered while watching The Christmas Story such as is Victor the real name of Lone Ranger’s nephew’s horse?

Whaddya know, my old man was right.

Whaddya know, my old man was right.

It’s a challenge to avoid watching this classic while channel surfing because a few stations loop it continually the week before Christmas. We are always on the hunt for a delicious wine to pair perfectly with Chinese turkey. This year we paired something new with the old.

Petit 2013 Pinotage

Petit 2013 Pinotage Stellenbosch South Africa: Sustainably farmed and produced by Ken Forrester Wines. 14%ALC. SRP $14. Nice dark fruit aroma and light-bodied. It’s my first foray into Pinotage which I’ve heard rumored can be tricky to produce a likable vintage. Poor dear gets a bad rap apparently.  Petit was slightly sweet with dark fruit, crab apples and mild acidity.

 

Finally, Christmas isn’t complete in my house without sabering a few bottles of bubbly. My very favorite film to pair with it is Christmas In Connecticut. If sparkling wine was a film, this one is it. Effervescent, light-hearted, and a slightly sweet finish to the dry humor, it leaves you feeling positively giggly.

Christmas In Connecticut

Christmas In Connecticut

Quotables abound and Barbara Stanwyck charms with, “John, darling, when you’re kissing me, don’t talk about plumbing.”  and “You don’t know what a mink coat does for a girl’s morale.”

Chloe Prosecco

Chloe Prosecco D.O.C.

Oh the bubbles! Chloe Prosecco D.O.C. was a new venture for us despite Proseccos being staples in our cellar. The Wine Shop had a Christmas special at $12 a bottle and our trusty clerk said it was light and delicious. Besides we always had the Mumm “in the trunk” if it didn’t work out.  Chloe was floral and peachy with a crisp apple finish which rounded out the delightful cinematic evening. The Mumm Prestige would wait until New Year’s Eve!

And so, I leave you with this final film quote. Try and guess which one it’s from and Happy New Year!

“Oh well, don’t you worry. Magoo got you in, Magoo will get you out.”

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Harvest Ridge Winery: A Family Affair #Winestudio

In December, #Winestudio participants experienced a family owned winery in Marydel, Delware,  Harvest Ridge Winery. It’s owners, Chris and Chuck Nunan, work hard to nurture a family legacy through their love of wine.  In fact, family is the central theme of Harvest Ridge with the grown Nunan children actively involved. The theme of family also carries over to the Harvest Ridge wine label. Originally, the winery was the Harvest Ridge Farm with a large tree that sits directly in front of the old farmhouse. The Nunan’s put the tree on the label “to symbolize the interconnectedness and lineage of the Nunan family”. (harvestridgewinery.com)

 

HarvestRidgeWinery.com

Picture by HarvestRidgeWinery.com

This is why I love participating in #winestudio each month. It gives an opportunity to chat with people whose lifestyle encompass what they love to do and to learn more about their wine.  First, here’s a refresher about #winestudio and the educational wine hour I love so much:

 

What is #WineStudio? PROTOCOLwine studio presents an online twitter-based educational program where we engage our brains and palates! It’s part instruction and tasting, with discussions on producers, varieties, tourism, terroir, regional culture, food matching and what all this means to us as imbibers. @ProtocolWine

 

Harvest Ridge Winery is nestled between the shallow, warm waters of the Chesapeake Bay and the cooler waters of the Atlantic Ocean. You can find it on the Mason-Dixon line at stone marker number 47 which is still on the property today. The number ‘47’ is central on the label as well. It gives a sense of history and fits in with Harvest Ridge winemaker, Milan Mladjan’s philosophy – “A good bottle tells a story. . . wine is part of a historical narrative.”

 

HarvestRidgeWinery.com

Pic by HarvestRidgeWinery.com

A Historical Snapshot:

Between 1763 and 1767, Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon surveyed state boundaries in order to resolve a dispute involving Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Delaware in Colonial America. The Mason-Dixon line is still a demarcation line among four U.S. states, forming part of the borders of Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, and West Virginia (originally part of Virginia). It was marked by stones every mile and “crownstones” every five miles. It also represented a culture boundary between the North and the South. (Wikipedia.org)

 

Underneath Marker 47 lies soil similar to the Bordeaux regions of France. The cool Atlantic nights help keep the humidity low which shields their grapes from mold and at the same time preserves their aromatic esters to produce fragrant wines. The warmth of the  Chesapeake makes for a longer growing season ideal for their Malbec. However, for this tasting, Harvest Ridge took us on a “walk” through the fragrant orchards of Delaware.  

Only my bottled orchard didn’t arrive until a few days after #Winestudio so I had to wait to taste it! The winery website gave a few descriptors to heighten my curiosity: apple blossoms and floral aromas with hints of Anjou pears and quince fruit. What I discovered was something a kin to a warm summer day, during the height of picking season when the fields are heavily draped in fragrance and the trees are laden with succulently ripe fruit. 

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Harvest Ridge Winery Pinot Gris 2014 Delaware

12.6% ALC. SRP $19

Since Harvest Ridge puts an emphasis on family, we decided to make opening the Pinot Gris our own little family affair. It was the last evening before our children got out of school for Christmas break so I tossed a salad with chicken, baked some russets and popped in a Christmas movie to watch during dinner. I thought watching House Guest would take their minds off of studying for finals. Besides what’s better than a movie about a quirky family or hearing Christmas carols about cheeseburgers (here) to the tune of ‘JingleBells’? 

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The Pinot Gris made its presence known immediately with a strong apricot, pear and floral aroma. It was delightfully medium bodied with chardonnay-like similarities and balanced acidity. Orchard fruit shone through with apricots, blossoms and hints of apples. Overall, it was a very enjoyable white wine.

  

Pic by HarvestRidgeWinery.com

Pic by HarvestRidgeWinery.com

Another Historical Snapshot: An excerpt from Harvest Ridge Winery website: Chuck Nunan began making wine in his basement in 1995 with rave reviews. In 2010, during a trip to Charleston, South Carolina for his son’s wedding, Chuck visited a winery there and was inspired to take his love of wine and winemaking and turn it into something bigger. He and his wife, Chris, had purchased land in 2005 for a family farm in Marydel, Delaware, which he decided to turn into Harvest Ridge Winery.

The name “Harvest Ridge” was the original name of the farm and was retained for the winery. The first vines were planted in 2011 – Chardonnay, Viognier, Malbec, and Merlot. The winery opened to the public (as Delaware’s fourth winery) on November 1, 2013.

Every year our family makes the annual trek to visit the grandparents on the east coast and next summer I’m pretty sure we’ll be adding a detour through Delaware. Now that I’ve been inspired by the theme of family, I’m going to go hug mine and hand out the Christmas break chores, cause this household is a family affair, too. Salud!

 

(The Harvest Ridge Pinot Gris was received through #Winestudio. I received no other compensation. Opinions are most certainly my own. Harvest Ridge, thank you for sharing your family!)

Santa’s Spanish Sparkler Surprise: Mas Vida Cava Brut

Mas Vida Cava Brut

Mas Vida Cava Brut

A week before Thanksgiving, a box arrived from the North Pole via the East Coast and my Secret Wine Santa (Anatoli of Talk-A-Vino). Inside were two intriguing bottles of grape juice, a red from a California winery I’ve always wanted to try and another from Spain that sparkled with possibilities. I tucked the red safely into the cellar with a sign that read “DO NOT OPEN UNTIL CHRISTMAS” and the other I packed with the Thanksgiving provisions to take to the hills of Arkansas. According to his note, Santa had discovered my affinity for bubbles and wanted to introduce me to Spanish sparklers. Believe me, it was hard to wait I was so excited to try his gift! I felt like a little kid the night before Christmas whose unable to sleep because of all the anticipation of Christmas morning.

Thank you, Santa

Thank you, Santa

Thanksgiving arrived. Relatives were hugged, turkey was carved, long hours of travel were logged, pie was sliced, wine was poured, tall tales were swapped, arguments were fought, and games were played until all the Thanksgiving traditions were covered.

Catching my mama sighing at the coffee station, I whispered the code word “Hotel?” and hand signaled my husband like a ball catcher to help round up the kids. The annual familial Thanksgiving gathering was gratefully coming to a close.  However, our immediate family party sans external relations was going to pick up at a more relaxing location: the Hilton.

The plan was to hang out with the Grandparents, eat pizza, watch football and sip Spanish sparkling wine while gossiping about our relatives. To my surprise, there was only one pizza joint open and thankfully, they made a few pies for our tired posse. I had erroneously assumed more restaurants besides the Cracker Barrel would be open since the frenzy of Black Friday shopping started Thanksgiving night. It was both frustrating and refreshing to see so many places closed.

As many of you know, sparkling wine is customarily served chilled but ours had been sitting out all day. Fortunately, all hotels are furnished with ice machines and bathroom sinks so Santa’s bottle was iced in no time and before anyone could say “Blitzen”, we’d popped the cork on a handsome bottle of Mas Vida Cava Brut. 

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Hotel sinks: good for more than a wash

Hotel sinks: good for more than a wash 

Estate Bottled, this Cava encouraged us with the motto to “Live More”. I’m hip to that! The Mas Vida was a bubbly bright, pale yellow and  tasted clean and crisp with a slightly bitter grapefruit and light honey. Simple bubbles that had us toasting to Santa, Thanksgiving, God’s grace on our family throughout this year and teenagers willing to make pizzas on holidays. On a side note it was classically “effervescent”. I say this tongue-in-cheek because a few hours earlier a comment about the Moscato d’Asti with dinner was expertly quipped on how effervescent it poured. Aren’t all sparkling wines effervescent? I filed this descriptor away for the times when I have nothing better to say.

ef·fer·ves·centˌ    efərˈves(ə)nt/  adjective

1. (of a liquid) giving off bubbles; fizzy.
synonyms:  fizzy,  sparkling, carbonated, aerated,  gassy, bubbly
“an effervescent drink” 
2. vivacious and enthusiastic.
“effervescent young people”

Santa Anatoli peaked my curiosity  about Cava. Why is it called Cava? How is it unique from other sparkling wines? Well, Cava is the Spanish equivalent to French Champagne.  The name comes from the Catalan word for “cellar” or “cave” and Catalan winemakers officially adopted the term in 1970 to distinguish their wine from France’s champagne.

It’s made in the french Champagne Method or“Method Champenoise” but called “Método Tradicional” or Traditional Method since France has Protected Geographical Status (PGS) under the EU with exclusive rights to the term. However, only sparkling Spanish wines produced in the champenoise traditional method are allowed to be labeled Cava.

Unlike Champagne, Cava can be produced from a few limited, official areas in  Spain with the most renown being the Catalan region and particularly in the city of Penedès. A large portion of Cava imported to the U.S. is from Catalan with the most famous brands being Freixenet, Segura Viudas, and Cristalino. Three native grapes are traditionally used in making Cava: Viura (aka Macabeo), Xarel.lo, and Parellada. Depending on the producer, usually 2-3 of the grape varieties are blended, however, in a few cases only a single grape variety may be used. (spanishwine.com)

The wonderful thing about Spanish sparkling wine: a top quality Cava is priced well below many non-vintage level Champagnes ($10-$15/bottle) making it extremely affordable to bountifully share for all occasions. Therefore, Santa gave me a far more lasting gift than an now empty bottle of wine. Thank you, Santa!

Feliz Navidad y próspero año nuevo! 

Tasting Le Marche,Italy via #Winestudio

One of the many reasons wine is so appealing is it’s ability to represent the historical and cultural landscape of a people and place.  Each glass tells a story.

This month on #Winestudio  the Le Marche story was kindled with the help of storyteller Jonathan Zeiger of ZGR Imports. It is a simple and uncomplicated wine tale accented with tradition, organics and unusual corks.

Centanni Monte Floris 2013

Centanni Monte Floris 2013

Lying between the shimmering Adriatic Sea and the Apennine mountains, this tiny coastal Italian region weaves the tale of an entire century of winemaking by using many of the same traditional growing and harvesting vineyard techniques of yesteryear.  Each bottle represents pristine beach towns, hilltop villages, medieval cities, family farms, and ancient monuments.  Centanni Winery continues the tradition through their use of 100% organic practices to produce the uncomplicated, medium light wine, Centanni Monte Floris 2013, made from 100% Montepulciano grapes.

“Drink Centanni. You drink Marche.” 

So, over the course of an evening accompanied by a really great flank steak (a personal feat I’m still marveling about) and some baby portabellas, we tasted Le Marche.

Flank steak a la simple.

Flank steak a la simple.

Baby those Portabellas

Baby those Portabellas

A subtle vanilla creme and raspberry blew in from the Marche beaches. The taste of  mountain bramble berries, crabapples and farm-fresh creme mellowed with the steak. It was a relaxed and easygoing Italian and paired well with the simple dinner.

The Italian narrative brought a small surprise from the bottle. Centanni is the first in the region to incorporate glass stoppers over cork or other closures. It was interesting opening the bottle as the “cork” popped out with a twist.

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A glass “cork” was a new experience for me. I’ve never seen one before so it was fun playing with it. Plus it looks elegant and cool. It has an inert-O ring to achieve a sterile seal and eliminates cork-taint or ‘corkage’. It also lines up with Centanni’s organic philosophy by being recyclable and reusable. Plus it looks elegant and cool. I said that already, didn’t I? Either way, there are no more worries over forgotten corkscrews or bottle toppers. Just a nice bottle of wine.

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Overall, Centanni Monte Floris is an enjoyable Italian tale! Cheers to beach vacations, bucolic family farms and the taste of hilltop villages.

Govino Wine Glasses Winner!

Well the comments are in and the winner of the “Go AnyWhere” Govino wine glasses is (drum roll, please) . . . 

shez@epicurioustexan

The festive location –

Toasting at the Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center in NYC. 

pic by nydailynews.com

pic by nydailynews.com

An amazingly beautiful sight! The first time my husband took me to see it, we had to stand on tippy toe, straining over the crowd to catch a glimpse. But then the knit hats and fur coats parted and we stood transfixed. No matter the weather or fridged temperatures, just a glimpse of the bright twinkling giant immediately captivates your attention. What a magical place for sharing Christmas cheer!

 

by nydailynews.com

by nydailynews.com

Fun Facts about Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

  • A Norway spruce 69 to 100 feet (21 to 30 m) tall, has been put up every year since 1933
  • The unofficial tradition began during the Depression-era construction of Rockefeller Center, when workers decorated a smaller 20 feet (6.1 m) balsam fir tree with “strings of cranberries, garlands of paper, and even a few tin cans” on Christmas Eve,December 24, 1931
  • In 1944, during World War II, the Rockefeller Center trees were not lighted because of blackout rules (nydailynews.com)
  • The 550-pound Swarovski star is made of 25,000 crystals, 720 LED bulbs, 44 circuit boards, and 3,000 feet of wire. The crowning jewel is estimated to be worth $1.5 million (mental floss.com)
  • The tree is tall, and it’s in Manhattan, so naturally, people have tried to climb it over the years. One guy succeeded in 1979.  (mentalfloss.com)

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Well, have yourself a Merry little Christmas! And Cheers to All!

Tis the Season to Give: Govino Glasses GiveAway!

 

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Recently, I won a variety pack of Govino glasses and decanter.  It’s an outstanding collection of shatterproof reusable “Go Anywhere!” drink ware that can go literally everywhere: Christmas Sleigh rides, Yule log bonfire, Christmas light sightseeing, hottubs in the snow, romantic ski picnics, Christmas cookie exchange parties, Time’s Square on New Year’s Eve, Christmas Caroling . . .

 

courtesy of govinowine.com

courtesy of govinowine.com

Well, in the spirit of the season I want to share from this lovely set so you too can enjoy some Christmas cheer at a festive location. All you need to do is tell me where you would use Govino glasses  for the holidays in the comments of this post. Then, two lovely individuals will be randomly selected for either Govino beer glasses or Govino Wine/cocktail glasses. Feel free to mention your preference for beer or wine or even ginger ale. That way you won’t have to serve the Cabernet Sauvignon from beer glasses.

Beer, wine or ginger ale?

Beer, wine or ginger ale?

Anyway, Govino specializes in shatter-proof ultra-thin drink ware. You can throw them in the dishwasher to use again or toss them in the recycle bin. I’ve already tossed mine in the washer a couple times and the glasses are like new. To learn more about their flexibility and durability, you can read my previous post or go here for Govino.

See! perfect for afternoon picnic

Oh yeah, I almost forgot!  Leave your comment by Friday, December 4th. I’ll notify the winner by email.

In the meantime, cheers!

Secret Wine Santa’s Crime, Er, Wine Shipping Drama

St. Nick Lucy via Pinterest

Secret Santas via Pinterest

Recently, I choose to do something moderately risky; but with it came a potentially great wine experience.  To get us into the spirit of the holiday season, the wine blogger,  the drunken cyclist,  posted an opportunity for readers to play Secret Wine Santa. I’m sure you’re all familiar with playing  Secret Santa so you get the idea except this was going to be a much more gratifying exchange! Basically, each Secret Wine Santa would send a bottle or two of wine to a fellow wine enthusiast and in return, receive a bottle from their Wine Santa. Typically, Santa doesn’t hold much charm for me.  I’m more of a ‘Happy Birthday, Jesus’ Christmas person but in no way was I about pass up the opportunity to  participate in this palatable gift exchange.  Just say “wine” and I’m listening.  Besides, it made up for all those hideous white elephant parties where I got stuck with something like a Milli Vanilli CD.

As Christmas carols blared from the stereo, I drove gleefully to the wine shop while visions of Christmas wrappings danced in my head. For an added treat, I stopped next door at the gourmet shop and bought a sausage and chocolates made in my home state to add to the package.

After carefully selecting a Bordeaux, I took the cheerfully wrapped Christmas package to the United States Post Office. Here’s where my naivety kicked in. (and stupidity) I was under the impression the wine would soon be merrily on its way to New York. Those of you familiar with the legalities of shipping wine, please bare with me. I’ve never had the occasion to ship a bottle to someone. It’s not an excuse for ignorance, but it never crossed my mind it could be possibly frowned upon. Also, I’ve received media samples in the past but didn’t take into account they were from a licensed distributor.

Christmas Bordeaux

Christmas Bordeaux

Unfortunately, after standing in line for 30 minutes, I was asked THE question, “Is this alcohol?”  Why yes, I innocently replied. The clerk handed the box back so fast you’d have thought I’d packed it with explosives. He told me to take it to FedEx. Slightly embarrassed, I shuffled past the long line of customers who were either glaring at me for taking up space in line or giving looks of pity. I took my controversial package over to FedEx where the clerk shook his head and shooed me out the door as if my illegal activity would taint the shop. For an added bonus, he lectured me on the liquor laws of Oklahoma after putting me on the porch.  At this point, you are no doubt shouting at me, “Woman, why did you say yes!?!” Well, to be honest I don’t usually choose to lie.  Besides, by telling the truth I wound up with a very gratifying Merry Christmas ending.

Now back to the Drama:

Dejected and beginning to suffer the onset of a panic attack, I sat in the car trying to think through some options. It looked grim. I could email D.C. and withdraw from being a Secret Wine Santa. This thought brought tears to my eyes.  Or I could try mailing it over Thanksgiving while in Arkansas. There was a slight chance of taking a day trip south to Texas or north to Kansas to mail it. However, after a series of quick calls to those surrounding state’s FedEx offices, I discovered a barbwire fence of confusing legal rhetoric. Texas had given a brief glimmer of hope. Their law stated shipping was allowed from one city to another within the state but fuzzy on shipping to another state. FedEx said No. NO. NO.

accordingtod.com

accordingtod.com

My logical minded husband made a suggestion. Why not try buying wine online?  A clear thought in the emotional haze! Technically, I wasn’t shipping to Oklahoma but New York. Therefore,  a friend who lived in a wine welcoming state should be able to receive it since I was only paying for it and a company was shipping it for me. Brilliant! The idea hadn’t occurred to me. This might actually work.

After searching through a few websites, I finally settled on one, mainly because they had the Bordeaux I’d originally purchased. After a few miscues and another buyer getting the last bottle because of human error ( I was nervous and hit the wrong key!), an idea sprang to mind. My first choice had been eliminated  but an entire canon of wine rested at my fingertips. I could order any bottle because I was no longer hinder by a geographical location i.e. local wine shop offerings. Any wine could be sent to a friend.

My mind started racing through all the possibilities: there were wines we frequently enjoyed, wines we’d enjoyed for special occasions, wines from different countries and  different grape varietals. Now the only difficulty was in  choosing from so many wonderful options! There were a few exceptions.  A couple of wines only shipped to California or Idaho and others were budget busters. But other than that whatever was available was fair game.

Finally, I decided on a delicious wine that’s grown and produced by a lovely California winery and holds special sentimental value. The wine is occasionally available in our area  but mainly requires a plane ticket for us to actually obtain a bottle. Thanks to online wine shopping it was now going to be my Secret Santa wine gift!

courtesy Frog's Leap Website

courtesy Frog’s Leap Website

 

All the shipping troubles were over with the insertion of my credit card number and a little tadpole of an idea grew into a bottle of Frog’s Leap  Estate Grown Cabernet Sauvignon 2013. Guaranteed delivery in two days. No lawbreaking, weather worries or pontificating mail clerks. Just a bottle of holiday cheer from one wine lover to another.

 

Well, the Bordeaux still sits in my cellar and not New York but Christmas cheer is beginning to fill the air. I’ve discovered the joy of tackling the gift buying with online wine shopping. Take that Grinch wine laws! My Christmas shopping is practically done. Now, if I could only convince them to wrap it in silver snowflake paper before boxing it up . . .

As the Christmas season gets started, here’s some holiday cheer in the hopes that you  receive a  wonderful bottle in your stocking this year. Merry Christmas!

P.S. I finally cracked open a law book and learned the obvious. I need to move to a state that allows wine clubs! 

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