Wednesday, 31. December 2008
The other night when we had guests over for a wine tasting, one of the wines did not taste “right.” Several people noticed that both the aroma and taste for a Sangiovese wine was off. Earlier this year we purchased a wine fault kit by Jean Lenoir, so we took it out and we were quickly able to identify the fault. Although the wine was still drinkable, many of us decided to go with the other wines.
The wine fault kit offers 12 tiny bottles with 12 different scents and a booklet that describes the fault and what can be the cause of the fault. We determined that the fault was number four, glue. Several conditions can result in this fault and these are described in the booklet. This particular fault can be caused by a chemical reaction (acetic acid reacting with ethyl alcohol), when wine is in contact with air for too long or lack of hygiene during winemaking. This may all be more information than the typical wine drinker wants to know but the kit is valuable in helping people know the difference between a wine with a fault and a wine that they just don’t like.
During the tasting our guests were encouraged to dump any wine they did not like. They were reluctant to do so. With the wine that was faulty, it didn’t take long for our children to demonstrate dumping of wine in a rather attractive large Aalto vase that serves at times as an ice bucket or wine dump bucket. We followed with our wines and then our guests followed suit. Everyone enjoyed the tasting and even a faulty wine added to the experience.
If you want to explore more about wine faults consider purchasing a wine fault kit.
Tuesday, 30. December 2008
Last night we hosted a small wine tasting party for neighbors and friends. It was fun and everyone had a good time. We chose wines from Colorado, Ontario, New York and Virginia to taste. An array of foods included grapes, crackers, salami, cheese, nuts and dried apricots.
With a red tablecloth, brightened with an evergreen bouquet and several candles, the atmosphere was friendly and inspired conversations about many topics including wines.
Consider hosting a wine tasting party at any time of the year. It’s a great excuse to get together with friends and family.
Monday, 29. December 2008
Yesterday our daughter mentioned a bottle of champagne she purchased to share with friends. Her comment was, “It was terrible. It was a brut and only $12 but it was bad.” Interesting comment as many people drink champagne during the holidays.
How much should you spend for a bottle of champagne or sparkling wine? I doubt there is any one price that says the champagne is good or bad. It reminds me of attending my sister’s wedding and sipping champagne as a teenager. It was terrible and at the time I wondered why anyone would celebrate with something as terrible tasting as champagne. Years later I discovered that champagne can be delicious.
Unfortunately many wineries do not offer tastings of champagne or sparkling wines. Once a bottle of champagne or sparkling wine is opened, the bubbles quickly dissipate and most wineries feel they cannot afford to open a bottle just for a tasting. It is expensive due to the labor and extensive time it takes to create any type of champagne and that adds to the cost.
When visiting wineries, if you have the opportunity to taste champagne or sparkling wines take the opportunity to taste it. You will discover that there are many good champagnes and sparkling wines. Be sure to note the ones you like in your wine journal so that you will be able to purchase them and know they will be good.
If you are purchasing champagne or sparkling wine at a wine store, notice the name of the winery and read any available comments. Both will give you a clue as to the quality of the wine and of course ask the competent staff what they would suggest within your budget.
Saturday, 27. December 2008
Cabernet Franc, a red wine, usually offers a spicy, peppery taste. Last night we had a Thai dinner, basically rice pasta with chicken and peanut sauce. Since we were a little low on white wines, we opted to trying a Cabernet Franc 2005 from Creekside Cellars in Evergreen, Colorado. The wine seemed to bring out spices in the main dish. The Cabernet Franc 2005 was a gold medal winner. At the dinner table, one person immediately noticed the alcohol level asking what it was. With an alcohol level of 14.5 percent, the wine offered black fruit aromas and taste with tannins. Another dinner guest said that it was the best Cabernet Franc he has tasted. Creekside Cellar wines are hands-on crafted and the emphasis is on quality wines.
Early in the fall, we had the opportunity to visit Creekside Cellars in Colorado and discovered a small hands-on winery that emphasizes food and wine. Creekside Cellars is also an Italian Café. The Italian menu is wonderful. One can spend hours enjoying the food, wine and location. While we visited, we enjoyed tasting numerous wines along with the Italian Antipasto Platter. This platter offered numerous items to pair with a variety of wines.
Evergreen, Colorado is located west of Denver and is a delightful small town with a small town atmosphere. Enjoy strolling along the main street and browsing. Plan your stop at the Italian Café with their hours in mind. They are usually open between 11am and 5pm and stop serving food at 4pm.
Creekside Cellars has won numerous awards for their wines so be sure to stop by when you are visiting Evergreen, Colorado.
Friday, 26. December 2008
We hope you all had a delightful and peaceful Christmas. Many of our family members were able to be home for Christmas. Christmas morning began with opening stockings and then breakfast before getting to other gifts. Soon we were in the kitchen preparing a mid afternoon dinner. We had a traditional Christmas dinner and everyone helped with the cooking or cleanup. For dinner we chose to have a wine produced by Hinnant Family Vineyards in North Carolina. Holiday Classic is a muscadine wine that offers a spicy and fruity taste. It was quite sweet. We noticed with our family, one either likes muscadine wine or not.
Muscadine wines are quite unusual but some people say that it reminds them of Concord grapes with its foxy taste. When we visited eastern North Carolina wineries last year we discovered muscadine wines and found that consumers either really like it or not. According to the wineries that produce muscadine wine, muscadine wines have ten percent more antioxidants than red wine. Of course, a red wine drinker has been heard to say, “I’d rather drink ten glasses of red wine than one glass of muscadine wine.” lol
If you haven’t tried a muscadine wine, try it when you have the opportunity. Don’t expect a taste like a traditional red wine but try it for the experience and you may just like it. We came across many people in North Carolina who really enjoy a muscadine wine. One of our family friends who enjoys beer rather than wine, enjoyed the Holiday Classic wine last night.
Thursday, 25. December 2008
Christmas morning always seems quieter and calmer than other mornings throughout the year. It offers a time for reflection. Since January, 2007, Wine Trail Traveler visited 300 winery/vineyard tasting rooms. During our travels we’ve heard many heart-warming stories. The holiday season is a good time to read some of these stories.
December 2008 issue
Extending a Helping Hand, a story of a winery owner reaching out to help other businesses in the community.
Last Three Rows: a tribute to a grower by a winemaker.
Austin’s Red and Austin’s White: a new career in the wine industry offers an opportunity to help children with autism.
Families Creating Together is about the many family run wineries.
December 2007 issue
Teddy, a story of survival.
Romance for the Heart: a look at the romantic side of wineries and vineyards
A Parent’s Eye: parents pride of their children.
If you have a chance for a quiet time today, enjoy these stories. The Wine Trail traveler staff wish you and your family a blessed holiday season.
Wednesday, 24. December 2008
Christmas Eve is here and though many people have finished their Christmas shopping, I’m quite sure the malls will be crowded with last minute shoppers. Perhaps people have finished their Christmas shopping but are looking for last minute good buys or just enjoy the hustle and bustle among the Christmas lights, music and shoppers.
However, if you are in a bind or tired of shopping and just want to enjoy the holidays consider a homemade coupon or perhaps an online gift certificate. These coupons and gift certificates can be for any wine related item and allows the recipient to purchase what they personally would like.
Another wine idea is to give a gift of a wine club membership often available at wineries. Depending on the terms of the membership, wine is shipped several times a year to the member. Membership often entitles members to attend special events. Check out the numerous club memberships available. Note that some are free while others have a fee to belong.
Perhaps a coupon for a grapevine or two would be appreciated. Grapes grow in many places and I even heard of someone in New York City who was able to grow grapes up the side of his building. Since grapevines are planted in the spring, this is a great coupon gift.
For those who don’t believe in gift certificates, we just went through that discussion with my family. Now that toys are not relevant to their ages, everyone except for me said they would prefer gift certificates. The child in me still likes to see the wrapped gifts under the tree and see the excitement of others as they open their gifts. If that is the way you feel, consider wrapping the coupon or gift certificate in a shirt box or shoebox, stuffing the box with tissue paper.
Enjoy your day!
Tuesday, 23. December 2008
With only two shopping days before Christmas, most of my shopping is completed. In a couple of cases, “coupons” may just do the trick. It’s time to begin celebrating the season, and whatever you do put your heart and soul into it. If you are having family and friends at your home this season, consider warming a mulled spice wine in your crock pot. The aroma upon entering a room where the warmed wine is served is absolutely wonderful. Occasionally, you will discover bottled spice wine. Ferrante Winery & Ristorante offers Celebration Spice wine. If you choose this wine for dinner in their Ristorante, it is served warm with a cinnamon stick. It is delightful for an after dinner drink on a cold day. Already bottled spice wines make it easy and a success. On the other hand, perhaps you would like to try to make your own mulled wine. Visit the Wine Trail Traveler recipe section to discover mulled wine recipes. Many winery tasting rooms offer spice bags with the mixed spices ready to use and add to the wine. If you purchase a spice bag, ask the staff to recommend wines to add to the spices.
Enjoy time at home with family and friends.
Monday, 22. December 2008
With only three shopping days until Christmas, I am guessing that most of you have finished your Christmas shopping or are looking for some last minute stocking stuffer ideas.
Wine charms are delightful as they can be whimsical or elegant. The charms are handy to have at wine parties or get-togethers as they are cute ways to label “this wine glass is mine.”
If you’re budget is short, consider creating your own wine charms. Anything can be used as long as it fits around the stem of the wineglass and is lightweight. So be creative and create your own type of wine charms. Frequently found in shops are assorted beads strung on a wire that quickly fastens together. Wine charms usually come in sets of six and each one is unique. This allows the wine drinker to keep track of his glass when he or she sets it down for a moment.
Other stocking stuffer ideas include a foil cutter, pocket size cork pull, wine pourer, drip-stop ring and a bottle stopper. Anyone stranded inside by the snow, can create a variety of coupons.
For those who have finished their Christmas shopping, consider spending some time in the kitchen. Visit Wine Trail Traveler website’s recipe section for recipes that include wine as an ingredient. Nine new recipes have been added this month.
Wine Trail Traveler
Sunday, 21. December 2008
I love Italian food and am always willing to try Italian restaurants. As I walked into Bucci Ristorante in Grosse Pointe Woods, Michigan, I immediately notice that this restaurant was different from others. I discovered it had a kitchen open to viewing by the patrons. The kitchen area was separated from the seating area by a counter, where patrons could sit and as they ate, watch their meals prepared. This open kitchen experience was interesting to observe. My brother selected this restaurant because it is one of his favorites and we came early so that we could sit at the counter. It felt like we were in the kitchen and could observe everything the chefs were doing. The restaurant also has traditional seating. Total seating capacity is 65.
Bucci Ristorante is the creation of head chef Bujar Mamuslari whose childhood nickname was Bucci. Since our group came near opening time, there were few other patrons at that time. Both Bujar and his wife, Shpresa took time to talk with us. My brother brought two wines from his cellar, a Palmaz Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon and a Roy Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. During our appetizers and entrée Bujar and Shpresa tasted the wines and offered their comments. Seldom will all wine enthusiasts agree about wines. However this evening, all agreed that the Roy Estate was the better wine. It offered a more complex aroma and more layers of taste. The lighter tannins made it a perfect match for the different entrées that our group ate. We were impressed with Bujar and Shpresa tasting the wine. They made us feel like family.
Although my wife and I have been to dinner theaters, Bucci Ristorante offers cooking theater right in front of you. You can observe the preparation of the food from start to finish. Shpresa said that not everyone could handle the constant scrutiny. It takes a special chef that can cook in the kitchen while every action is being watched. The chefs also do observing. They can see the reactions of the customers to their creations. Bucci also constantly observes what is happening in the kitchen to make sure the foods served are created with perfection.
The appetizers enticed our palates and discussion centered on the Palmaz Cab. Our entrées were served hot and my lobster paired perfectly with the Roy Estate Cab. The food was excellent, the atmosphere offered a breadth of fresh air and we were treated as family. When visiting the Detroit area, I plan to stop at Bucci Ristorante. If you have the opportunity, be sure to visit Bucci Ristorante.