National Wine Day!

It’s National Wine Day!  First of all, I didn’t know such a holiday existed.  Second, I’m not generally a fan of novelty holidays (though I have been known to carry a towel on May 25th, because it’s also Towel Day, and Douglas Adams is one of my favorite writers).  This one, though, I feel pretty good about celebrating.  Because I like wine.

It’s also only the second day in several that the sun is actually visible, it’s warm outside, and there’s not been a drop of rain.  So, out with the red wine, and in with something chilled!  I do love red wine, but now that it’s warm again, I’m ready for a change.

I’ve already featured The Vineyards and Winery at Lost Creek (here’s the post: Lost Creek Wine Selection).  We’re members at Lost Creek, so we’re there at least every other month to pick up our member wines.  Because it’s sunny and pretty and National Wine Day, I wanted to open a bottle I knew we’d enjoy tonight, so we selected Lost Creek’s 2014 Reserve Chardonnay.

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I’ll write more about white wine in the future, I’m sure, since summer is on its way, but for now, I’ll just proclaim, loud and proud, that I love Chardonnay.  I love Chardonnay like I love Red Velvet Cake.  I could eat a whole cake…I could drink a whole bottle (but I won’t…).  I’m pretty sure both are a lifelong love affair.

There are those who don’t enjoy a big, heavily-oaked Chardonnay.  To be fair, it is a robust, flavorful, heavier white wine.  Well, this particular Chardonnay is a big, heavily-oaked Chardonnay.  It’s got a nose of oak, butter, and honey, and a hint of burned toast (I promise this is a good thing).  It tastes of oak and butter, as well, but it’s not gimmicky.  It’s just real and unpretentious – a traditional Chardonnay that will absolutely appeal to those who, like me, believe that Chardonnay should be aged in oak, just like rain is wet and sugar is sweet and cake is good.

Now that I’ve spent a long time going on about wine on National Wine Day, I feel, as a writer and a reader, I ought to give a moment to Douglas Adams for Towel Day.  What kind of writer/reader would I be otherwise?  So here you go, a little something courtesy of the great Mr. Adams to get you thinking while you’re drinking this evening:

“Let’s think the unthinkable, let’s do the undoable. Let us prepare to grapple with the ineffable itself, and see if we may not eff it after all.”

A Cozy Wine for a (er, Another) Rainy Day

Guess what?  It’s still gloomy!  After a brief glimpse of the sun on Monday, we’ve returned to what people are beginning to call “Seattle weather.”  I’m going to Seattle in June, so I’ll be interested to make a real comparison.

Graham and I are getting pretty tired of constant clouds and rain, but we’re dealing as best we can.  By drinking alcohol.  We’re doing other things too, of course (cards, chess games which I hesitate to call games because Graham beats me in five minutes, cartoons, etc.), but sometimes all you can do is raise a glass and laugh at your new “indoor” complexion.  Yesterday, we made Dark and Stormies.  Tonight, we’re drinking wine.

Last night, I made what I call a lazy man’s gumbo – onions, garlic, green bell peppers, tomatoes, andouille sausage, and red beans.  And lots of cayenne pepper.  It’s a little (read: melt your face off) spicy, so we opened a bottle of Chambourcin tonight to accompany the leftovers.  For those unfamiliar with Chambourcin, it’s a French-American hybrid grape.  It produces a deep-colored wine that can be made either dry or sweet, and it grows really well in Northern Virginia.

We opened a 2013 bottle from Zephaniah Farm Vineyard, a small, family-owned operation not too far from our house.  It’s a beautiful place, the owners are friendly and talkative, and the tasting room is in an old house that is absolutely packed to the gills with antiques.  Ask about any item, and they can tell you its story.  And chances are good that it’ll be a pretty interesting story.

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The last time we did a tasting at Zephaniah, we learned that their real goal is just to make tasty wine.  They want to produce wines that are drinkable and enjoyable, and if they also win medals, that’s cool too.  They’ve really succeeded with this Chambourcin.

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The nose is heavy on the berries, with a hint of cherry, as well.  It’s a very fruit-forward wine, but the initial sweetness gives way to smoke and a really balanced minerality.  It’s not the most complex red wine – Chambourcin, in my experience, usually isn’t – but it’s good.  Because it’s a little bit sweet, it pairs well with spicy food, and I think it would also pair nicely with smoked meat or with barbecue.  It’s a great table wine…good for sharing with others at a fun party.

We’re not having a fun party tonight.  But maybe we will once the sun finally makes its long-awaited reappearance.

Drinking Wine on Cinco de Mayo

It’s Cinco de Mayo!  And here’s a secret – I don’t actually like going out to celebrate Cinco de Mayo.  I prefer my chips and salsa and margaritas without a side of holy crow why are there so many people here?!  So, unless my friends are heading out somewhere, I usually stay in and enjoy an adult beverage in the (relative) peace and quiet of my living room.

So, I delayed my weekly wine post by one day, because I knew I’d be having a glass tonight.  I know, I know.  It’s Cinco de Mayo and I should be drinking tequila, but I just don’t want to. And I believe there’s not really an occasion for which wine is not appropriate.  It is a holiday, though, and I wanted to open something special.  It’s also a little chilly outside, and has been for most of the week, so we went for a red tonight.

Here’s the bottle we opened:

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Greenhill Winery and Vineyards is right on Highway 50, a straight twenty minute shot from our house on the way to Middleburg.  It’s a beautiful, convenient location, and this is one of the only wineries I’ve been to in Virginia that’s brave enough to make a sparkling white wine, and a Riesling, for that matter.  We decided on the 2010 Philosophy, a robust red blend, because Graham remembered really liking it when we tried it a while ago.  I wish I could remember the exact blend, but I think they changed it after 2010.  That’s why this bottle is special.

This wine is gorgeous.  It’s almost purple.  Blackberry, cloves, and cinnamon on the nose, with just a little bit of pepper.  It’s got a smooth, peppery finish, and hints of blackberries and holiday spices.  I tasted a little bit of fennel.  Graham tasted a little bit of vanilla.  Either way, it’s just a touch herb-y.  I would say that this is solidly a red-drinker’s wine.  It’s full-bodied, though not as much as some, and might be too much for someone just starting out with red wine.  But, try it anyway.  Because it’s good, and pretty to look at.

I know it might be a little odd to choose wine over tequila on Cinco de Mayo.  Feel free to judge.  I’ll just be here with my wine.  And the cheeseburger I plan to order for dinner.  In my pajamas and not out with the madding crowd.  So there.

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Wine on a Leftovers Night

I like to cook.  I’m always coming up with new recipes when I’m bored.  I can make mac and cheese in about fifty different ways.  I love to experiment with flavors and wine pairings, and I find creativity in the kitchen both relaxing and rewarding. I also like to eat.  I find it really distressing that food has calories, particularly cake.  But that’s another post for another day.

During the week, I tend to cook meals that make leftovers.  I’m home all day, but Graham isn’t, so I don’t want to spend every night working in the kitchen when I could be spending time with him.  Tonight, we had leftover pasta with sweet pea and basil pesto, roasted red peppers, and melty chunks of fresh mozzarella cheese.  Delicious, right?  But still leftovers.  So to jazz up our second-night pasta dinner, we opened a bottle of wine.  I’ve already mentioned that wine has magical powers, and one of those powers is to make any meal just a little more special.  Even leftovers.

We decided on a rosé tonight, because it’s Spring and because the subtle sweetness and hint of pepper in the pesto sauce could handle a little bit of acidity in a wine.  Here’s the bottle we opened:

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Sunset Hills is a Virginia vineyard and winery located not far from Purcellville in a beautifully restored classic red barn.  The owners are lovely, interesting people, and the staff are always friendly.  The tasting room can handle a crowd.  Graham and I have been members there for a few years (it was the first wine club we joined!), so we’ve accumulated a lot of Sunset Hills wines.  This one might be my favorite.

I’d never seen rosé made from Cabernet Franc before we picked up this bottle. I love Cabernet Franc, and I think it does particularly well when grown in smoky, tobacco-y Virginia soil.  This is a fun wine.  It’s a delicate pink color, with just a little hint of copper – it looks gorgeous in a glass on a sunny day (not that today was sunny).  It has a delicate, floral nose with some subtle notes of strawberry and melon.  The best part, though, is that it’s delicious.  It’s not as bright or acidic as a classic rosé, and it’s not very sweet.  The Cabernet Franc doesn’t manifest as tobacco, or smoke, or green bell pepper.  It just gives the wine a roundness and a fullness, and even a meatiness, that you don’t find in an average rosé.  This wine is a study in balance – brightness with fullness, body with subtlety.  It’s a red drinker’s rosé…if you like a medium-bodied red.

Wednesdays are tough.  It’s the middle of the week, you’re starting to get tired of waking up early, and Friday still feels really far away.  But leftovers and wine can make any humdrum Wednesday just a little better.  Because like I said, wine has magical powers.

 

Spring is Rosé Season

If you know me, then you know that I like wine.  A lot.  I wasn’t a wine drinker until I met Graham, my Hampton Roads husband, and our marriage has become a low-key wine adventure.  Living in Loudoun County, we can’t really help it.  When I told some of my friends that I was thinking of starting a blog, they suggested (nay, requested)  (nay, insisted) that I include some posts about wine.  Friends, I’m happy to oblige, because I think that wine has magical powers.  No, really, hear me out on this one.

Wine inspires.  I think it’s because wine, like food and music and stories, transcends culture and language.  It brings people together.  I’ve made more than a few good friends over a glass of wine.  During our honeymoon in France, it was okay that I couldn’t actually talk to anyone about the wines that I was tasting, because everyone just understood.  A good glass of wine, or a bad one, needs no words.  But it sure is fun to talk about it.  So, moving on –

To me, Spring is rosé season.  When the weather starts getting warm, and I see blossoms everywhere, I crave the bright crispness and the pretty-in-pink pastel of a nice glass of rosé.  So tonight, I suggested we open a bottle of Lost Creek 2014 Tranquility.  Lost Creek is a local Loudoun County vineyard and winery, and full disclosure, Graham and I are members of their wine club.  It’s a fantastic place to spend quiet time on a sunny weekend afternoon – the tasting room and grounds are lovely, and the staff and owners are too.

Here’s the bottle we opened tonight:

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Tranquility is what I would consider a classic rosé.  A little bit coppery in color, with a delicate nose of strawberry and a hint of citrus fruits.  It tastes a bit like strawberries, too, with mild acidity, and not too sweet.  For die-hard white wine drinkers, I think it would be a nice foray into a more colorful world.  Lovers of rosé (I include myself in this group) won’t be disappointed.

I’m enjoying a glass as I type, and I’m a little sad I have to share the bottle with the handsome husband, though I’m sure I’ll be grateful tomorrow morning.