Archive for June, 2012

Weekly Wine Quiz #18: Wine and Independence Day

June 30, 2012 4 comments

While last week’s quiz was definitely influenced by the hot weather, I want to still have one more quiz related to the history of wines, just to finish my imagined series. It also will be very appropriate, as in a few days we will be celebrating Independence Day here in US.

Imagine it is July 4th, 1776. Declaration of Independence is presented and voted for at the meeting of Continental Congress representing 13 colonies, signifying independence from the Great Britain. The room is cheering, and the glasses are poured for celebratory drink. Do you know what exactly was poured in those glasses?

Have fun! Cheers!

Wine Video: My Personal Sabering Experiment

June 28, 2012 7 comments

If you remember my Father’s day post, I mentioned successful experiment in Sabering of the Champagne bottle. Okay, not really a Champagne – it was Cava Rose ( a very tasty one, Marques de Gelida Cava Brut Reserva). As I promised, here is the video for you:

To tell you the truth, once you open a sparkler this way, it is hard to go back to the traditional bottle twisting…

So…yes, you can try it at home! Have fun! Cheers!

Wednesday’s Meritage

June 27, 2012 4 comments

I can’t believe how fast these Wednesdays are coming – it was only one Wednesday, and now next one is already here…

Anyway, let’s start with the answer for the Wine Quiz #17, which was all about Penguins. I’m glad to see the diversity of opinions regarding that strange critter, known as Tactical Nuclear Penguin. Well, those of you who thought that this name implies a lot of strength were correct! And while the correct answer is … Beer (!), this  beer packs a lot of punch, clocking in at 32% ABV. This beer is made by the company called BrewDog, and here is the description directly from the web site:

This is the worlds strongest ever beer, ever (yes ever).

No Penguins  were harmed in the making of this beer; some humans did get very, very cold though. It was worth it.

The Antarctic name, inducing schizophrenia, of this Ÿber-imperial stout originates from the amount of time it spent exposed to extreme cold. This beer was initially double barrel aged for 14 months; maturing in the deep, rich oak of Scottish whisky casks. After this epic maturation the beer was then frozen, then frozen again, then frozen again.”

Now, for the cool news portion: The Capital Grille once again announced The Generous Pour summer wine event. From June 9th until September 2nd, you can try a specially selected group of wines (9 wines total) for $25. The wines are specially selected by Master Sommelier George Miliotes and include Rose, White, Red and Dessert. The Capital Grille is my favorite steakhouse overall, and we had being enjoying this Generous Pour program for two years in a row (here is the link to the post from 2010). Whether you like steak or not, The Generous Pour program is a great value – take a look at the list of wines and judge for yourself. Don’t know about you, but I’m definitely going.

And for the interesting crazy news, I recently came across of a new product, underwear for wine bottles (I’m not kidding, and today is not April 1st) – this product is called Vinderpants – you can read more at this web site, where it is also sold for $9 a piece! That site also contains a video advertizement for Vinderpants (warning: watching that video might be hazardous to your mental health and it might convert you from the wine lover to the wine hater – there, consider yourself warned). I’m really wondering if any of my readers would be willing to spend $9 on this wonder of wine marketing (this is equal to three or four bottles of two buck chuck, depending on which coast you are going to buy it, people), so I’m looking forward to your comments.

That’s all I have for you for today, folks. Cheers!


Weekly Wine Quiz #17: Let’s Talk About Penguins (And Some Weapons)

June 23, 2012 1 comment

I was definitely planning to have two more wine quizzes dedicated to the history of wines, but – considering scorching heat wave visiting East Coast, I gave up on that thought and this wine quiz will be about something cold… As cold as Penguin, may be? No, I didn’t watch Madagascar 3 ten times in the row (even though I loved the movie) – but combination of heat and something I recently learned prompted this quiz.

Ahh, yes – and you are asking what penguins have to do with wine? Well, you figure it out – but just for the fun of it, please try answering this quiz without using Google – you will be amused once you will learn the answer, I guarantee it.

I recently learned about pretty strong beverage, called Tactical Nuclear Penguin. Do you care to guess what kind of drink is it? The answer is forthcoming in next Wednesday’s Meritage.

Stay cool and have fun! Cheers!

One Viognier, Two Viognier

June 21, 2012 11 comments

Viognier. A white grape, with more than 2000 years of history, and nearly extinct by 1965 with only 8 acres of plantings left in Northern Rhone  – for the full history of the grape you can refer to this article in Wikipedia.

By the way, can you pronounce that “Viognier”? I’m not trying to insult the intelligence of my readers, but this french word is anything but easy. If you need a little help, here is a very short video for you:

If you wonder why are we all of a sudden talking specifically about Viognier (after all, there are other 9,999 grapes supposedly growing in the world), the reason is simple. Yesterday was Wine Blogging Wednesday event number 78, hosted by Frank Morgan from Drink What You Like blog, and the event was dedicated to Viognier, which sprung back to life and now successfully grows pretty much all over the world.

Viognier is no stranger on this blog. Two years ago, I was able to taste Virginia Viognier at Chrysalis Vineyards – it was very good. Then I had probably my best Viognier experience ever at the Lavinia wine store in Geneva – there I tried 2009 Domaine Georges Vernay Condrieu, a classic Viognier from Norther Rhone (it was outstanding with Drinkability rating of 9).

For this WBW78 tasting I had a few prerequisites. For one, I would love to taste Virginia Viognier – but it is not available in Stamford, CT. For the second one, I knew that I don’t want to taste California Viognier. Why? First, about two month ago, I had bad experience at a number of wineries in Temecula Valley in California. Second, there some some advantages in writing this blog post somewhat late – you can refer to the work of others. Please read the description of Rosenblum 2008 Kathy’s Cuvee in the blog post by the fellow blogger Gwendolyn Alley, especially the last part: “…finishes tart and savory yet cloying”. No further comments.

I definitely wanted to have classic Condrieu Viognier – but that is typically not a cheap option. Thanks to the advice of Zak from Cost Less Wines, I ended up with two bottles of Viognier – one from France, and another one from Australia.

My Viognier #1 was 2011 Les Vines de Vienne Viognier ($19.99, 13% ABV). Interestingly enough, this wine was made in the region surrounding the town of Vienne in Northern Rhone region of France – one of the legends has it that this town (Vienne) gave the name to the grape itself (Viognier). Another interesting fact is that Les Vines de Vienne wines are product of obsession of the three wine makers – read more about it here.

I didn’t plan any dinner or an event around this Viognier tasting, so I decided to pair it with a few random things I could grab from the fridge. But before we will talk about pairing, let’s talk about the wine itself. Here are the tasting notes “in progress”. Nice golden color, beautiful nose of green apple and orange zest. There is clean residual sweetness on the nose. One the palate – touch of sweetness, lemon tartness, golden delicious apple, perfect acidity. As wine opens up, sweetness disappears and acidity kicks in. Perfectly refreshing and balanced, very clean. Drinkability: 8+. Taking into account the results of tasting on the second day, I want to note that it is important not to over-chill this wine. Taken directly from the fridge on the second day, the wine had slightly unpleasant sharpness, a bite, which disappeared as soon as the wine warmed up a bit.

As I said, the food pairings were rather a game than anything thought through and planned. I tried this wine with slow roasted Jalapeno ( our local Fairway had selection of large size Jalapenos, which were a killer after being slow roasted on a grill) – the wine was not enough to remove the heat of Jalapeno (fire hose was more appropriate for that). Wine worked very well with French goat cheese called Crottin de Champcol. It perfectly complemented grilled yellow squash and worked nicely with grilled asparagus.

Viognier #2 was 2011 Yalumba Viognier South Australia ($11.99, 13.5% ABV). A touch darker in color than the #1, less bright. Nose of pear, herbs, white peaches and mango, more exuberant than the wine #1, but not to the point of being overwhelming. On the palate, there was more fruit than in the wine #1, but it was predominantly white grapefruit. While the wine was showing round enough, there was not enough acidity.  Drinkability: 7.

None of the previous food pairings worked well. With Jalapeno, the wine was showing very acidic. It was too fruity against goat cheese, and didn’t do anything to asparagus, and grilled squash was the only okay pairing for this wine. Still, I think this is quite reasonable wine for the money.

This concludes my report about Viognier experience. I would highly recommend the Les Vins de Vienne Viognier – the wine is definitely worth seeking, especially considering that anything comparable and coming directly from Condrieu will cost you three times more.

So, how about you? Did you have Viognier yesterday? I hope you did, and if you did not… what are you waiting for? You should be on the way to the store now. Cheers!



Wednesday’s Meritage (and the Answer for the Wine Quiz #16)

June 20, 2012 2 comments

Not sure if it will become a permanent feature on this blog, but I want to continue my short “wine news flash” posts on Wednesdays, and even came up with a fancy name for these posts, as you can judge from the title.

First, an answer for the Wine Quiz #16, Father of California Wine: those of you who chose Junípero Serra were … absolutely correct! Under direction of Father Junipero Serra, Franciscan missionaries planted first sustained vineyard at Mission San Juan Capistrano in 1779, and subsequently, vineyards had been planted at another 8 missions. Those plantings had being known as Mission grapes, which dominated California wine industry for about 100 years.

Today is a special Wednesday, which happens once a month in wine bloggosphere – it is so called Wine Blogging Wednesday. To be more precise, today is Wine Blogging Wednesday 78, or as it is abbreviated on Twitter, #WBW78. For 78 month in a row (if I’m not mistaken), special wine theme is selected for a third Wednesday of the month, and everybody are invited to participate and share the experiences. The theme for #WBW78 is called “Get yo Viggy On” (not that I personally like the way it is phrased), and it is dedicated to Viognier, a very interesting white grape originated in  Northern Rhone in France. Viognier wines should be widely available – hope it is not too late for you to get a bottle and join the festivities. I plan to report on my experience later on tonight or tomorrow.

For the rest of the interesting wine news, I decided to share only one note, which I came across yesterday, reading Tom Wark’s Fermentation wine blog (if you are not reading his blog – you are missing a lot). I know that some of my readers come from Canada, and I learned from this post that Canada is about to allow direct shipments of wine across provinces. As I believe US wine laws are arcane, I had no idea that Canada wine laws were even worse! I’m glad that this problem is about to be solved for Canadian wine lovers.

That’s all I have for you for now, folks. Cheers!


Father’s Day Escapades

June 19, 2012 6 comments

This Father’s Day was one of the best ever, so I decided to share with you some of the experiences – as you can imagine, mostly in the form of the pictures.

The day started with the cards from the kids – this is always a great beginning. Then the weather gradually changed from overcast to a beautiful clear sunny day with just the right temperature (don’t know what is your idea of a great summer temperature, but for me 75F and a light breeze is almost ideal). From there on,  there was great food, great wine and … some interesting new experiences.

Here are few pictures to give you an idea about cooking (well, yes, not so much cooking, mostly grilling).

Grilled chicken tights:

Kebab, on the grill:

And the same kebab, off the grill:

I don’t know why, but potatoes fry the best on the side burner of the grill (we have electric stove in the kitchen):

And then mushrooms… I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to eat mushrooms any time and any day:

Enough about the food. Let’s talk about the drinks now.

First, we had some [very lazy] cocktails. Just take it out from the freezer, squish in the glass and voila! 8 different flavors are available in the store – and Mango Daiquiri was the best out of the four we tried:

Then we switched to Champagne – errr, Sparkling wine. We had Marques de Gelida Cava Brut Reserva, which is Rose (Pinot Noir based) – very nice, round, medium bodied and refreshing (Drinkability: 7+) :

The best part about this sparkling wine was… opening of the bottle. Despite the fact that I told you not to saber a bottle of Champagne at home, I decided to ignore my own recommendation and try to saber the bottle (you should know that deep inside I’m a 10-years old, masquerading as an adult). Sabering was an absolute success, as I managed to do it from the first attempt. I have even a short video of that process, but it will require time to process, so for now, I can only show you some pictures which will illustrate  what happened. Here is the top of the bottle:

And here is the very top of the neck – the glass top was completely separated during  the opening, cork and glass together:

The only problem is – Sabering was so much fun, now I want to do it again!

Then we had a very nice red – 2009 Cave de Tain l’Hermitage Crozes-Hermitage Les Hauts de Fief (13% ABV, $17.99)- earthy nose with some roasted notes, same on the palate – deep concentrated ( but not jammy) fruit, great acidity, touch of spices, round tannins, very balanced (Drinkability: 8).

Then we had scotch – 41 years old Lonach Glendarroch (from Highlands, distilled in 1967) – absolutely amazing. I can’t even try to describe complexity of that scotch here – it will take a few tasting sessions to figure that out (my wife said that it was by far her favorite scotch ever):

Now last, but not least – my Father’s day present – 2005 Giribaldi Cento Uve, Langhe, Italy:

In case you are wondering what’s so special about this wine: it is made out of 152 grape varieties (you can read more here), so it will mean a serious progress of my grape count.

That’s all folks. I’m very happy with my Father’s day. How was yours? Cheers!

Kreativ Blogger Award!

June 17, 2012 8 comments

About 10 days ago I was pleasantly surprised with an e-mail from the fellow blogger, NJVinoman, telling me that he is nominating me for the Kreativ Blogger Award! If you are wondering why it took me so long to write this post – I agree with you, I wonder about that too. Nevertheless, I finally pushed myself, so here we go.

Let’s talk about the award first. As many things on Internet, the origin of this Kreativ Blogger award is not traceable – admittedly, I didn’t spend days and days trying to track it down, but quick Google search didn’t help to solve that. If I understand this award correctly, it is something which is passed from a blogger to a blogger, serving as acknowledgement of one’s work. Here are the rules which I was able to find:

The Kreativ Blogger award comes with the following rules:
1. You must thank the person who has given you the award.
2. Copy the logo and place it on your blog.
3. Link the person who has nominated you for the award.
4. Name 7 things about yourself that people might find interesting.
5. Nominate 7 other Kreativ Bloggers.
6. Post links to the 7 blogs you nominate.
7. Leave a comment on which of the blogs to let them know they have been nominated.

As I’m good at following the rules, let me do just that.

NJVinoman is writing the blog called Veni! Vidi! Vino!. I can’t, unfortunately, thank him by name (and you should read the “About” section of his blog to find out why), but I would like to thank NJVinoman very much for the nomination – I like reading his blog with precise and colorful reviews of the wines and his “Yay” or “Nay” recommendations.

You can see the Kreativ Blogger logo and the link to NJ Vinoman blog – so the rules 1, 2 and 3 are covered.

Now, 7 things about myself – this is where it gets tricky – can’t promise you that it will be super entertaining, but:

1. Procrastination is my worst enemy. To give you an example, I really wanted to start this blog in 2008, and it was not until the second half of 2010 when this blog started for real.

2. I always wanted to learn to play a guitar, but never did (at least not thus far).

3. I developed serious interest in wine about 10 years ago, after my doctor (Dr. Inga Tuluca) told me that I have two choices: start taking cholesterol-lowering pills or drink a glass of red wine every night. As you are reading this blog today, you can probably guess what choice I made…

4. I can cry in the movies (it doesn’t take that much to get me in that state) – of course I will never admit it.

5. Wine is a passion, or probably more accurately, an obsession – but I don’t work in the wine industry. I actually work for a hi-tech company.

6. I want to write a wine book (or books).

7. I can never name “one favorite thing” – not color, not wine, not book, not travel destination – there are way too many things which I can call “my favorite”.

Whew, that’s done – not an easy stuff to talk about oneself, and trying to keep it interesting ( have no idea how well did I do – you tell me).

Now, to the last part – nominate 7 bloggers. This part was also not easy at all. There are many well established blogs which I’m enjoying ( here is my list) – but those are “big guys”, well known and well acknowledged. With this Kreativ Blogger award, I would like to acknowledge a number of blogs which somewhat recently became a part of my daily reading routine and which I’m looking forward to every time the new post comes out. In no particular order, here are 7 blogs I would like to nominate for Kreativ Blogger award (there are many more well worthy blogs, but I have to play by the rules):

1. Cooking with Jeff and Cristina – I believe this is not the first blogging award nomination for Jeff and Cristina, who both write for this blog. I love getting great recipes and step by step photo guides almost every day. I really appreciate the fact that the recipes are simple and can be actually executed almost any day (10 hours prep – not my cup of tea).

2. OmNomCT – Another award-winning blog, this one  written by Dan and Kristien. Great restaurant reviews (with mouth-watering pictures!), great events guide – Dan and Kristien happen to live in the same area of Connecticut where I live, so their events information comes very handy.

3. The Drunken Cyclist – If you haven’t read this blog yet, this is your loss ( good thing is – you can recover, just do yourself a favor, go read it today). Great writing, great style, great wines – even if you are not into wines, I guarantee you will like this blog.

4. In The Bodega – Writing from British Columbia, she gives you wealth of information about wines and life experiences – I guess this blog strikes a chord as this is what I’m trying to write about myself.

5. P’s Project 365ish – One picture per day – I love the simplicity of this concept. If you ever thought of having a new blog post every day, no matter short or long, it requires a lot of discipline. Patty is doing that, learning about her camera and she is enjoying glass of wine more often than not. Great combo!

6. SAHMMelier– Quoting the “About” section: “Wine lover.  Oenophile.  Wanna-be-sommelier. Mom.  Mommy.  MA-MAAAAA!!!!!!” . I perfectly understand the noble challenge of raising the kids and taking care of the family, and being able to find time for creative activities – I think SAHMMelier is doing great with that. I have only one wish for this blog – I want to see more posts!

7. Photo Botos – This blog is run by brothers Charlie and Tom, and it has a simple promise – one amazing photo per day. And this is an absolute truth – this blog never disappoints. Every morning I find one amazing picture in my inbox. If you are into photography at all – this blog is must see (I think “must subscribe” is a lot more precise).

I’m finally done! Now I desperately need a glass of wine ( hope you don’t believe me – I definitely need more than one glass of wine) – and if the wine will be good, you might even read about it here. I would like to thank again NJ Vinoman for giving me an opportunity to self-reflect. Cheers!

Categories: Life Tags: ,

Weekly Wine Quiz #16: Father of California Wine

June 16, 2012 2 comments

Arguably or not, but today California is the most important and best known wine making region in the United States. Starting from the 17th century, many people were obsessed with making wines in California and greatly helped to make it what it is today.

From those many people, however, there was one who is considered to be the Father of California wine industry. As we will celebrate Father’s Day tomorrow, I think it will be very appropriate to acknowledge that person who we have to thank for starting something which became a source of some of the best wines in the world. I would even say that we all have to raise a glass in his honor – but do you know who you have to honor as The Father of California Wine Industry?

As a bonus question, try to name the grape which he was planting. Enjoy your weekend! Cheers!

Wine Videos: Don’t Do This At Home, Kids

June 14, 2012 4 comments

Last week we compared wine video commercials from some of the major Champagne brands (in case you missed that post, you can find it here). Today I’m not asking you to rate the videos. Just watch and learn… or not (one of the videos is definitely giving me an urge to actually try it at home). In these videos you will see how professionals deal (meaning: open) with champagne bottles. This method  of opening the champagne bottle is  called sabering, and if you never heard of it before, just watch the videos (you can also read about some history of champagne sabering here).

First one is showing champagne bottles being opened in a rapid succession to achieve a world record:

The second video shows how sabering can be done with just a regular glass instead of a sword. While it looks easy and effortless in this video, make no mistake – it does require good amount of skill.

If you will be brave and try it at home, let me know how you will make out! Cheers!