Winzer Krems – Zweifelt, 2016

  • Basic info: Winzer Krems Rose Zweigelt, Austria, 2016
  • Type: Rose
  • Price estimate: $12 (Total Wine)
  • Look: Pink with a tinge of orange at the edges. Minimal legs.
  • Smell: Apricot and peach
  • Taste: very light, tangy, crisp. Peach and cranberry notes on the palate. The second day this was open there was a slightly weird aftertaste that I didn’t get the first day. Not bad, just not there the first day.
  • Conclusions: This is a perfectly acceptable rose for summer. It has a touch of sweetness to it, but that cuts the tart cranberry taste nicely. It is by no means the best rose I’ve ever had, but it will definitely so for a glass of something with dinner.
  • Other notes: I love the red version of this grade and try to find zweigelt whenever I can. It is a great dry, drinkable red wine. Will it win awards for depth and character? Not the ones I’ve tasted, but sometimes you just want to enjoy a glass of wine and not think about it too much. This rose, or the red cousin, is perfect for that.
  • From the bottle: No bottle notes, but from Total wine, “A touch of cranberry plays on the nose of this wine. The palate shows that same tart freshness, assisted by lemony notes and a slight spritz. An easy, uncomplicated and refreshing summer wine.” 11.5% alcohol by volume.

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Domaine Sainte Barbe – Chardonnay, 2014

  • Basic info: Domaine Sainte Barbarie, “La Perriere” Chardonnay, France – 2014
  • Type: White
  • Price estimate: $24 (Chamber Street Wines)
  • Look: Pale straw/medium yellow with interesting legs.
  • Smell: honeysuckle and apricot
  • Taste: dried peach and pineapple with a hint of vanilla. Smooth wine with a nice tang.
  • Conclusions: This wine falls into the “it’s okay” category. It was very drinkable, very easy to pair with food and was fine for a regular day. I do think one issue with it was that I tasted it along side a truly fantastic chardonnay that a friend brought over and it really paled in comparison. That first day we just tasted, and I had it with dinner the next night (or two) and it was good, but it isn’t a special wine at all.
  • Other notes: My biggest problem with this wine wasn’t the taste, but the headache I got after one glass. I thought it was a coincidence the first time, but after the second day, I realized that it had to be the wine itself. This is weird since wine almost never gives me a headache, and for a white wine to do that was highly unusual.
  • From the bottle: No bottle notes, but from Chamber Street, “The 2014 shows elegant, subtle aromas of dried pear, lime-flower, stone, melon, pineapple and honeysuckle. The palate is very mineral, with stone and citrusy acids, dense pear and herbal flavors and terrific length.” 12.5% alcohol by volume.

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Progress Report

We are half way through the year and I thought it would be a good time to measure progress. Like all good teachers, I want to see where I am, and what I need to do to get to where I need to be. Have I learned what I wanted? Do I need to go back and revisit something?

School: I just finished my 9th class and have three more to go before I graduate. I am pretty sure this is the *last* time I am going back to school – two master’s degrees is enough and I don’t have it in my to go for the PhD. I registered for the Florida exam for next month and I have the next few weeks to study for it, so hopefully that will be enough time. Three more classes. (deep breath) I can do this.

Pets: If I am being completely honest, I did not expect to be here pet-wise. Somehow, even knowing that Leia was sick, I though she would pull through, get all better and still be making Arthas love her. I miss that cat. I miss Gracie and Jessie too, but I’ve had longer to adjust to losing them and having Tigger, Leia and Arthas around definitely helped. Arthas is awesome even if he isn’t the easiest dog, but he is pretty great and I am so glad we adopted him last year. I am trying to not add another cat to the house, but I do miss having more than one. I need to go back to work *soon* so I don’t have time to look at adorable kitties that need a home.

Wine: I am having a ton of fun with my little wine experiment. I went back through all my notes from the last two months (yes, I take notes) and did discover a few things:

  • I *think* I can identify cherry, mineral, apple, and peach in wines fairly consistently. They are about the only flavors I can identify with any regularity.
  • I don’t like earthy dark wines. This is not a shock, but there is it.
  • Barbera, Zinfandel, Pino Noir, Sangiovese, and Cabernet Franc – when done well – are delicious wines.
  • Tannat is not to my taste
  • Chien Blanc and Muscadet are amazing. I need more of these wines in my life
  • Un-oaked or very minimal oak Chardonnay is actually really good. Who knew!
  • I still have no idea what “legs” are supposed to look like in low, medium and high alcohol wines. I guess, but I think I’m guessing wrong.
  • Yes, there is a difference between the ten-dollar bottle of wine and the thirty-dollar bottle of wine. There is. That isn’t to say the ten dollar bottle doesn’t have a place, it does, but there is a difference.

Travel: Bob and I have not done much traveling this year for a variety of reasons. We did manage a quick weekend trip to St. Augustine Beach where we did pretty much nothing, and that was awesome. Nothing is planned for the rest of this year, but I’m starting to think about next year and where we might like to go. A lot is going to depend on airfares, my job situation and the pets, but I’m starting to think.

Food: I love food and I love eating. I really don’t like eating the same things over and over, and work plus school makes it hard to be really creative. I’ve given myself a bit of a break and just accepted that I can do some creative cooking, but not a lot right now and I know I will barely have time to cook this fall. I do think I’ve had a few culinary successes this year and I’m sure I will get back to more experiments, but for now … it is what it is.

So that’s it. I’m going to work on identifying aromas and tastes in wine, finish school, try to keep from getting another cat and find some more easy, yet delicious and interesting foods to make. Hopefully in six months, I will have accomplished all of that, but if not, there is always next year. 🙂

 

Maldivinas – Albillo, 2015

  • Basic info: Maldivinas “Combate” Albillo, Spain, 2015
  • Type: White
  • Price estimate: $25 (Chamber Street Wines)
  • Look: Golden in color with long legs
  • Smell: honey/honeysuckle, mineral and a little citrus. Bob called oak on the nose.
  • Taste: Soft wine, but has a definite sour note. Some apple notes and just a hint of vanilla.
  • Conclusions: Bob liked this wine and thought it had a lot of character and was very different from anything we have tasted before. I agreed with the “different” classification, but I wasn’t sure if I liked it or not. I wasn’t tempted to have a second glass, but I also didn’t shy away from having a glass the next night with dinner. Even after drinking it for a few days, I’m not sure if I like it or not.
  • Other notes: This was one wine that I was really excited to try for a few reasons. I’ve never had the albillo grape before and wasn’t familiar with it. The bigger reason to be excited is that this was an experimental wine from the vintner and they made only one barrel of it. Yep, one barrel. So whether I liked it or not, I got to taste something that is very unique and I will probably never taste again.
  • From the bottle: No notes on the bottle, but from Chamber Street, “… the fruit and floral are less cloying than Viognier’s, with intense earth and mineral expression across terrors.” 13% alcohol by volume.

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Vischio-Vaglio Serra – Barbera, 2014

  • Basic info: Vischio-Veglio Serra, I Tre Vescovo, Barbera d’Asti Superiore, Piedmont Italy – 2014
  • Type: Red
  • Price estimate: $22
  • Look: Garnet with slight brown tinge at the edges. Good legs.
  • Smell: Wine. (Really, that was all I got)
  • Taste: Cherry, a little earthy with an undertone of plum. Bob said unripe plum with a dusky finish.
  • Conclusions: This is a good drinking wine. It has enough character that you go back for another sip, but not so much that it overpowers what you are eating. Like a lot of Italian wines, it pairs nicely with food. This one has a good mouth feel and the taste was better the second day.
  • Other notes: This was one of our local wine club wines and it was the first one we opened this month. It was very good the day Bob brought it home, but it opened really nicely after sitting for a few days.
  • From the bottle: No bottle notes, but from the club note, “Ruby color with orange overtones and an excellent body. A strong bouquet of dried fruit and a slightly woody flavor. The taste is dry and long lasting.” 13.5% alcohol by volume.

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Caesar-ish Salad

I love Caesar salad. Love it, but can’t eat it about 99% of the time. Most Caesar salads have anchovy in the dressing, and some have it in the salad itself. Even when I’ve asked if there is anchovy or anchovy paste in the dressing at a restaurant, and they say no, it generally does and I figure that out about five to twenty minutes after the first bite. Given this, I haven’t ordered a Caesar salad, or even had a Caesar salad in years.

But … oh thank you internet … I found a vegan caesar salad dressing  on food.com (my computer is giving me problems, so I can’t link to the actual page – just search vegan caesar salad in the website and it will come up) that was pretty perfect. I’m not vegan, so I used regular parmesan cheese (or pecorino if I have that on hand), cashews instead of almonds and mixed pepper, but otherwise, kept it pretty true to the original. I think mine might also have been a little thicker than the recipe as I didn’t measure the cashews and just tossed in a handful of nuts, but Bob said it was the best Caesar salad he has had, with the possible exception of one restaurant. He also asked me to make a batch of it, and he happily ate mashed chickpea sandwiches with the dressing on them, so I’m calling this one a definite win. (Next time I make mashed chickpea sandwiches, I will definitely post it.) Mom even tried the recipe and both she and dad liked it, so again, a win.

Even my salad isn’t traditional Caesar. Maybe I should call this an Augustus Salad. But anyway, this is my new addiction and will feature heavily in my school lunches next year.

  • Caesar-ish Salad:
  • 1 head red lead lettuce
  • <1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated (for salad)
  • olive oil for croutons
  • old bread for croutons
  • salt
  • 1 handful cashew nuts
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 gloves garlic
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese (for dressing) 
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • pinch of pepper

Into a food processor or blender put nuts, water, lemon juice, garlic, cheese, soy sauce, olive oil, mustard, and pepper. Blend until smooth.

Take day or multi-day old bread and toss with about a tablespoon olive oil and salt. Bake in 350 degree oven for about 4-7 minutes and the bread starts to turn golden. Set aside to cool or use immediately.

Tear lettuce into bite sized pieces and split between two plates. Add grated parmesan cheese and croutons. Pour dressing over salad – about 3 tablespoons per person (although both Bob and I may have added a bit more).

 

VistAlba – Red Blend, 2014

  • Basic info: VistAlba Corte B, Red Blend, Argentina – 2014
  • Type: Red
  • Price estimate: $30 (local wine store)
  • Look: dark ruby in color. No legs when chilled slightly, but more legs as it warms.
  • Smell: Cherry and nutmeg
  • Taste: Tart cherry, blackberry, jam. Bob thought this one had an herbal finish and we both agreed that it was a high alcohol wine.
  • Conclusions: This was better than expected, but I might say that because after a glass, everything felt really good. It had a nice tart start, but a cleaner finish. This wine had a lot of body to it, but no bitter notes, which is unusual.
  • Other notes: This was good, but not one that I’m going to seek out. It came in our local wine club, which is why we had it and I’m glad I did. I tend to like lower alcohol wines – I’m not a big fan of wines that I can’t contemplate a second glass of and this was one of those.
  • From the bottle: No bottle notes, but from the wine store, ” Intense ruby red in color with violet hues. Subtle note of rose, pepper, ripe prunes. Tobacco and cinnamon notes appear due to its rest in oil barrels for 12 months. Sweet entrance, full body, velvety tannins and a finish that highlights dark and dense chocolate.” 15% alcohol by volume.