Your viewing "Wine" (7 posts).

I love wine.  It all started in the year I worked at a high end catering and events company, back in the day.

These days, I have the urge to stock up--blame it on an obsessive personality.

Left to Right, trying my best to give only my inartful thoughts:

2011 Yalumba Viognier
One of wine club's monthly picks.  Whoa, almost effervescent at the start, but underneath, a cold stream full of ripe fruit, a little tart, super fragrant.  On day two, quite mellow, still fruity, but the tart edge worn off.  Easy sipping.

2010 Domaine Bernard Baudry Chinon Les Grezeaux

Asked the folks at the wine shop what they were loving currently, and the guy grabbed this off the shelf.  Recommended decanting it for a while, maybe even a day.  Tried it right after opening the bottle--really funky, in a good way.  How to describe it?  Like dark, juicy berries, gently decomposing in wet forest soil.  A little sweet, a lot earthy and funky.  After giving it some time in the decanter, I tasted it again.  Mellower, but still really interesting.  Reminds me of eating herbs, and vegetables, and fruit.  I want another bottle.
More info on the Les Grezeaux here.  Info on Bernard Baudry here, in French, or here, in English.

2012 Domaine de la Fouquette Cuvee Rosee d'Aurore
I was hoping to find a bottle of Domaine Tempier Bandol at Whole Foods, but they were out.  Instead, a persuasive French man told me to try this Fouquette.  Drink it chilled on a warm day or room temperature on a chilly day, he said, like a 50-degree day in Paris.  Sold.  Plans to take this along on a picnic.

2011 Rocky Gully Shiraz
Drinking this tonight (post to follow).  It's mostly shiraz (syrah), with a bit of viognier.  Not sure yet.  I taste the plum, and the finish lingers.  It's a bit light for me, although that nice finish makes me want to take another sip.

2010 Les Crozes Hermitage Syrah
Another wine shop recommendation.  (Have I mentioned that I love my local wine shop?)  Looking forward to opening this one.

Matilda
Ok, this is a red herring.  This is no wine but one of my favorite beers, from Goose Island.  I've posted about this Belgian style pale ale before.  Going to wait for a warm day and drink this outdoors.

And that's about it.  Trying hard not to buy ten more bottles this weekend.



I promise I am not spending my days drinking. But I have been fixated on consumption of the liquid sort lately.

I have a favorite wine shop, and it's called Elvino*. I like it because the people there are knowledgeable AND friendly (not always easy to find), and the shop stocks a range of interesting wines at all price points. Oh, and there is zero pretention. You can say, "I want a wine with a good story," and they won't kick you out of the shop.

In my head, a good wine shop is a place where you can pick up something new and fun without emptying your wallet. It's also a place from which you emerge feeling excited and better informed. For me, this is that shop.

I'm looking forward to try these two wines: the 2010 Pelješac from Croatia and a vinho verde tinto from Portugal. My internet sleuthing tells me Pelješac is a wine-producing peninsula (as well as the name of the wine) and Dinga? Vinarija the name of the winery. I've never tried Croatian wine, though I have been curious about it thanks to Anthony Bourdain on No Reservations. As for vinho verde, I was a little disappointed not to try it while in Portugal, so here's my chance. "Verde" refers to the young age of the wine, not its color. I am assuming "tinto" means the same in Portuguese as it does in Spanish and that this is a red wine.

A wine snob I am not. Only a curious learner who's grateful for other down-to-earth people willing to teach me.

* I have no idea. I assumed the name was El Vino, but I have seen the shop referred to as Elvino so frequently that I don't know if that is correct or just a widely repeated typo.

** Update **

I just tried some of the  Pelješac. I expected it to resemble a fruity pinot noir, but it was something in its own category. "Wow...whoa, that's different," was my initial reaction. It's fairly light, but the texture is still somehow velvety. The first thing I noticed was a round, warm, berry flavor that reminded me of Ring Pops. Yes, Ring Pops. I'm pretty awful when it comes to wine vocabulary. I also thought of dimly lit and dusty vintage stores, jelly candies, and cherries.The lady at the wine shop said one of the two wines above reminded her of church incense, and I can't remember which one. But it might as well be this one--it's a little smoky, a little sweet. Just like incense. After the first taste, you notice the subtle tannins. It has a pleasant finish.

Wow. I like this wine.

More information:

K&L Wines

Enotourist

 


Friends, we have struck sherry. I was so pleased to find this bottle at my local Trader Joes for a mere $5.00. Trader Joes always has affordable European wines, and I thought they might happen to have some sherry in stock.

In fact, I have been thinking about sherry since returning from Spain. You might say I have been obsessed with sherry. I missed the small ritual of a glass of fino before dinner.

My favorite small wine shop didn't have any on hand, and the only other time I was able to taste some sherry in the States was in the form of a cocktail at The Roosevelt in Hollywood.

This fino is, like other finos or manzanillos, the color of straw. In the simplest of words, it smells slightly boozy and tastes strong, for those accustomed to unfortified wine. The finish is nutty, maybe even a little sweet. But it's nothing like the cream or other types of sherries that may remind you of dessert wines. The fino is dry.

The name of the bodega that produces this fino is Barbadillo, and it's located in Sanlúcar de Barrameda, a coastal city that forms one point of the sherry triangle in Spain.

 

I tried the 2010 Pinot Blanc from Gustave Lorentz while in San Francisco last weekend. I told the sommelier I liked the acidity of a dry sauvignon blanc and, sometimes, the roundness of a chardonnay. He poured me a taste of this pinot blanc, and it was a good marriage of acidity and delicious fruit and flowers. How did he know? Lesson: Trust the expert. If only I could find experts for all aspects of life.

 

I'm toying around with something different. Rather than post recipes and give off the impression that I'm some food expert, I'm going to start posting more of my everyday meals. Last night, I was craving vegetables, after a weekend of gluttonous eating in San Francisco.

Once in a while, I enjoy a chopped salad. It's easy to eat, easy to make, and each piece gets lightly dressed.

I chopped up some red onion, a hothouse cucumber, some roma tomatoes (I know, out of season). I added a can of garbanzo beans and a large handful of sliced kalamata olives (not pictured).

I also added some marinated feta. This cheese hails from Yarra Valley Dairy in Australia. The dairy has, according to the website, 200 cattle. I found this cheese at Ralphs, of all places.

The cheese is marinated in olive oil. It tastes nothing like feta, really, and it's made with cow milk instead of sheep or goat milk. Instead of the dense, crumbling texture of feta, this is soft like goat cheese. Its flavor is mild and creamy, not strong or salty. I enjoyed it for what it was.

I used about two small heads of romaine, roughly chopped.

For a dressing, I combined a few tablespoons of olive oil, some red wine vinegar, salt, pepper, and about a tablespoon of Dijon mustard. I recently purchased a better quality, whole grain Dijon mustard. The flavor is good.

And though I was eating salad, I reached for a red wine. I've had this garnacha before. I like it because it is affordable (about $12) and very drinkable, with jammy notes. I have also been in a Spain mood lately. It's several steps above cheap table wine but not so complex that you have to sip and think.

 

Full Disclosure: I write while seated in the backyard space of one of my favorite neighborhood coffee shops. People are speaking English and working on their laptops. That's right, I'm back in LA and have been back for nearly 2 weeks.

I've thought about how to sum up the remaining, oh, 2+ weeks of my trip to Spain and Portugal in words, but, to be frank, I am a little uninspired this week. Instead, I have been busy marveling at the pleasures of clothes dryers, medium sized drinks that would pass for XXXL in Europe, and American radio.

Fortunately, I have photos, lots of photos. So get ready for posts and posts of them! With a few lengthy captions thrown in. Despite my lack of inspiration, I can't help but throw a lot of facts at you.

First, let's rewind to Jerez, the third city of my trip to Spain, because I forgot to tell you about sherry.

I traveled to Jerez to learn all I could about sherry, a fortified wine, a wine that I had never tried. As you could tell in earlier posts, I ended up finding several more reasons (the fish and produce market, the churros stand, the small town feel) to love this city. But I did sign up for a bodega tour of Lustau, which offered pure sherry, zero miniature trains and overcrowded groups. In fact, I was the only person who had signed up for my 12:00 pm English tour-until a British couple arrived just minutes before the hour. The three of us followed our Italian guide Matteo around the various Lustau bodegas.

Now, I'm no wine expert. The most accurate description is probably that I enjoy drinking wine and learning just enough about it to enhance the drinking experience. So I apologize in advance for factual errors, misleading descriptions, and overall amateur status.

By the blurry shot, you can tell Matteo is emphatically waving his arm toward the stacks of barrels. Depending on the size of the room, sherry is stacked three or four barrels high. The room size and ceiling height are important for air circulation, and the floor, composed of the same stuff you find in bullrings, helps absorb excess moisture.

Sherry (called Jerez in Spain, "sherry" being the Anglicized pronunciation for the wine and city) is made via a method called solera (from "suelo," meaning floor or ground in Spanish). Technical details aside, sherry is drawn from the barrel closest to the ground, then bottled. Then, equal amounts of sherry are drawn from the next barrel up and transferred to the lower barrel, continuing until you reach the upper barrel. In other words, a sort of cascade of sherry.

We learned about three basic types of sherry - fino, amontillado, oloroso - and a few others - the manzanilla* (the same as fino but made in Puerto de Santa Maria, not Jerez) and the palo cortado, to name two. Technically, sherry must be made within the the so-called Sherry Triangle, formed by Jerez de la Frontera, Sanlúcar de Barrameda, and El Puerto de Santa María.

We also learned about two methods of making sherry - the first involves a layer of yeast that grows on top of the wine, preventing it from oxidization. The yeast, called "flor," is visible above in the barrel cross-section. Fino - the lightest and driest sherry, is made in this manner. The second method is to allow the wine to oxidize, resulting in a darker color and different flavor. The oloroso is an example of a sherry made with this method. The amontillado, Matteo told us, is sometimes called "twice wine" because it is allowed first to ferment with the flor, then to oxidize.

Fascinating, right?

* Be careful: Manzanilla can also refer to chamomile tea, so be sure to specify you mean wine if you're ordering this wine in Spain.

The best part, of course, was sampling twelve sherries from the entire sherry triangle. We began with the finos and manzanillas then progressed through the amontillados to the olorosos. There were some other unique sherries thrown in-a palo cortado, a cream sherry, a sherry that tasted, just as Matteo described, like Coca Cola sin gas (not my favorite).

A bad shot, but you can see the light color of a manzanilla. This dry style of sherry is my favorite since it works well as an aperitif or paired with nuts and cheeses. I'm not sure how to describe the aroma and flavor. Any wine geeks out there who can chime in? It's not at all like chardonnay or sauvignon blanc, i.e. fruity, mineraly, oaky (some advanced vocabulary there).

I think this was an amontillado. Caramel in color, but nearly as dry as a fino, with only a slightly more complex flavor.

The British couple on my tour told me that in England, sherry is usually associated with old grandmothers, and judging by the fact that none of my peers talk about drinking sherry, I guess this is not very popular in the States. But it should be! I don't understand why we don't drink it more. It's not offensive or strange in any way, and like I said above, it's versatile and easy to drink. I call for an official sherry revival.

Who's in?

 

Lunch, fresh off the stove (well, still on the stove). 
Sorry for dark lighting!

Chicken Soba with Mushroom Garlic Reduction
Serves 2-3

Ingredients:

1/2 tub of crimini mushrooms, washed and quartered
1/2 red onion, diced
4-5 cloves of garlic (I like my garlic), smashed
1-2 handfuls shredded roasted chicken meat
Buckwheat soba noodles
1-2 tbsp. butter
Low sodium chicken broth
Dry red wine
Lemon (optional)

Yesterday I opened my fridge and pulled out everything that was open and consumable (goodbye, icky cucumber).  I didn’t think, I just grabbed.  “Everything must go.  Everything!!”  There was half an onion, some mushrooms, a dwindling rotisserie chicken, half a lemon, and a nearly empty box of chicken broth.  There was also half a bottle of wine on the counter that was no longer drinkable. 

I wanted a lunch that tasted fresh and had a lot of flavor without putting me to sleep.  Out came the soba noodles, which I love eating in a variety of ways. I brought a pot of water to boil.

I decided to do a quasi-pan sauce with the mushrooms.  I say quasi because instead of searing meat, I would use onions.  I started by sweating the onions in the butter over medium high heat until they started to leave a dark brown crust on the bottom of the pan.  In went some chicken broth, which acted as a deglazer.  After scraping up the brown bits, I added the mushrooms and garlic, cooking over medium to medium high heat.  I alternated between adding chicken broth and red wine.  I kept the pan hot enough to let the sauce reduce but not so hot that the sauce would entirely evaporate.  Everything turned a purple chestnut color. 

While the sauce simmered, I had cooked and drained the noodles.  When the mushroom sauce was dark and a bit thickened, I added the noodles to the pan, tossing them with the sauce.  Then I plated the pasta and squeezed the half lemon over the entire thing.

Yum.

Notes:

I like using up my leftovers, and I’m happy when I can find a perfect use for that last bit of onion, or last squeeze of lemon.  Lemons are great to squeeze onto anything-pasta, oatmeal, eggs, salad, meat, tea…anything that can use brightness.  Wine and broth of any kind are also my new friends.  They build a better base of flavor for anything you make.  I now buy wine, stock, and lemons on a regular basis, regardless of what I have planned that week.  I don’t buy expensive wine for cooking.  I am happy with the $2-3 selection from Trader Joe’s.  As for broth, it can get pretty pricey to buy those cardboard cartons, but thankfully, making your own stock is both easy and economical.  Just save your vegetable bits and meat bones (ok, well there is more to it than that, but this is the gist of it)!  And as for lemons, ah, well, there’s nothing I can do about that.  Is there a dwarf lemon tree that produces at least a bag of lemons per week?  I didn’t think so.

And don’t underestimate soba noodles.  They cook very quickly (three minutes or so, as opposed to seven or eight for Italian pasta), have a nice flavor, and are satisfying without leaving you feeling sluggish.  And they are versatile!  They can be eaten with tsuyu with some seaweed on top, or as a side along with an entrée.

Finally, I swear that my stainless steel All-Clad pan-the most recent addition to the kitchen, thanks to another very, very generous gift from Suzanne- has made a big difference in my food.  Food heats evenly, meat sears, vegetables caramelize.  It’s good when food sticks a bit because those bits release in liquid and make a flavorful sauce.  The recipe above would probably turn out very differently if attempted in a nonstick pan.

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