Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Wonderful Red Wines For The Season

I am a lover of red wines that have great fruit flavors; not so sweet that they taste like dessert wine, but fruit forward. So many wine critics have become critical of wines they consider to be "fruit bombs." I think that there is something to be said about having a glass of wine that is made from fruit and you can taste fruit! Yes, I love the balance, spice and other nuances of wines, but please don't leave out the great fruit.

Here are a few of my favorites, yes some have been noted on this blog before, but they are good wines. These wines can be paired with most meals that home cooks and foodies prepare at home. Also, most if not all of these wines are easy to obtain, whether in a wine shop or online.

This wine is a lovely dark garnet color. The nose is filled with aromas of bright red fruit flavors, (cherries), a bit of dust, a hint of caramel and spice. The palate mimics the nose with a silky mouth feel. This wine paired well with a turkey rubbed with an herb infused compound butter. It would also pair well with roasted chicken, pork roast and salmon. Note: This was a sample from Rodney Strong Vineyards.

This wine has a beautiful deep dark red color. The nose is filled with dark fruit flavors and is just delightful. The palate has the same dark fruit flavors like plum and black cherry mixed with spice from the oak. This wine is smooth and it reminded me again why Merlot was my first red wine love. I really think this will be my QPR Merlot for this year. This wine is great to sip on its own or to pair with a burger, and steaks. This would also be a great wine with appetizers like cocktail meatballs, sausages and cheeses. This is a value wine and should be one to keep on hand in your cellar. Note: This wine was a sample provided by Bogle Winery.

This wine has a deep garnet color. The nose and palate are filled with aromas and flavors of dark fruit, especially dark cherries, plums and of course currants. The wine is fruit forward, which is a plus in my book; it makes you just want to have another glass. I could see this paired with a cheeseburger. Another pairing would be a serving of mac and cheese. I could also see using this wine to braise beef short ribs, then pairing the wine with the ribs. This wine would also pair well with a Cantalet or cheddar grilled cheese sandwich. This is a wine to stock in your cellar. It truly is a QPR wine. Note: This wine was a sample provided by Oak Grove Wines.

This wine has a wonderful ruby color. The nose mimics the palate with dark fruit, blackberries, a hint of sage, and notes of pepper. This is a well integrated and balanced wine. I let it breathe to open up for about an hour in a decanter. The tannins were supple and it was smooth as silk. I love it! Paired it with Classic Tomato, Basil and garlic bruschetta and open faced pan grilled french bread slices with melted Da Vinci Dutch Gouda cheese melted on top. These pairings were great. I could see this paired with steak, burgers, pork ribs or with a piece of the Da Vinci Dutch Gouda cheese. Enjoy! Note:  This wine was a sample from Frank Family Vineyards.

These are just a few of the wines that I have sampled lately that I think are some nice wines for you to try.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Are Wine and Food Bloggers "Digital Influencers" ?

Well according to the FTC or Federal Trade Commission, we are. I always wonder, how do we measure our influences on our readers? Sometimes, the readers will comment on how much they value your reviews and comments. I also can see in the wine review sections that some readers will get a recommended bottle of wine and provide their review on the wine that the wine writer has reviewed.

I know I love reading reviews from my wine experts who seem to share the same palate as I do. It just makes sense to me, especially in this economic climate; who wants to buy a bottle only to throw it away.

I think that wineries are great to reach out to bloggers, because we have nothing to gain by posting our honest reviews. If I get a wine sample and it is not that good, I won't review it. Why should I recommend something that I don't like. That is the thing about most wine lovers or oenophiles, we are so serious and honest about wine.

I love sharing wine and food pairings and the wine and food has to be good in order for me to recommend the wine, recipe or pairing. It is almost like "thugs" have "street cred", well I have my "culinary and wine cred." I think my "cred" is lawful and helpful (smile). So, feel comfortable in the fact that my intent is always to give you the "truth" as I see it.

Jordan 2008 Chardonnay

This wine has a light straw color with a slight hint of green. The nose is fresh and clean, then opens up to aromas of apple, pear and peach. The palate mirrors the nose with an addition of a bit of spice and a hint of lemon zest on the finish. This chardonnay is quite elegant and smooth; it begs to be paired with food due to its great acidity. I would pair this wine with roasted turkey, roasted chicken, grilled shrimp, crab cakes, grilled fish and shrimp and chicken dishes served with a pasta in alfredo sauce. Note: This wine was a sample provided by Jordan Winery.

Predator 2009 Old Vine Zinfandel
Wow! This wine is so interesting. The color is deep garnet. The nose has aromas of sweet dark fruit, a hint of smoke and bacon; yes a hint of bacon! I just could not put this wine down. The palate mirrors the nose along with a smooth and silky mouth feel. I would pair this wine with a cheese burger topped with apple wood smoked bacon, sausage, pork ribs with a sweet smokey sauce and a slow roasted pork roast with a glaze made with this wine. Note: This wine was a sample provided by Rutherford Wine.

Victoria Gourmet's Herbes De Provence
Note: This seasoning was a sample provided by Victoria Gourmet.

This is my herb to add that touch of Provence to my chicken, salmon and white fish. When making a compound butter, I use softened unsalted butter, a good amount of herbes de provence, about a tablespoon, sea salt and black pepper to taste and blend mixture completely.

Gently lift the skin of your chicken that has been rinsed and patted dry and rub the compound butter under the chicken breast on on top of the entire chicken. Add your salt and pepper lightly on the outside of the chicken and generously on the inside of the chicken along with two sweet onion quarters, a half a stalk of celery, a bay leaf and fresh rosemary sprigs.

 I use three whole celery stalks as a baking rack, place the seasoned chicken, legs tied with cooking string on the celery rack and add a bit of left over chardonnay wine while roasting to keep my chicken moist. Roast at 350 degrees, uncovered for about an hour and a half or 20 minutes per pound. I tent the poultry with foil if it is browning too quickly.

I will be reviewing more wine and food items soon, so tune in!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

What to Make of Scoring Wine

Jute Wine Bags

I can take it or leave it when it comes to scoring wine; basically it is just means of measurement. Some of the elite wine experts can really influence how well a winery does financially by the scores they appoint to their wines. When I review wines, I upload them on the ebacchus site which has a scoring method of grapes. The score of five grapes is the highest and one grape the lowest. When I place reviews on http://www.examiner.com/ and on this blog, I don't appoint any method of scoring, just the review.

 Those readers who share my palate will usually appreciate my recommendations. I try to be very fair when reviewing a wine; because wine lovers want honesty.  In this economic climate who wants to purchase a bottle of wine, only to throw it down the drain; I know I don't!  If a wine is not pleasing to me I will not post a review.  Also, I always note if a wine is a sample from a winery; which now is a law by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Nickel Silver Plated Wine Coaster

Price is not a factor in regards to my scoring of wines. I love to find a good wine under $15.00 or less. Sometimes to get a really good wine you have to pay a little more or sometimes a lot more. That is the funny thing about a bottle of wine; you never really know what is inside the bottle.

Many wine lovers like to put the wines in brown paper bags and sometimes fool their friends who they perceive to be wine snobs. The will have a mixed price range of wines and love to see their friends favor the less expensive bottle of wine over the expensive one. This can happen a lot because there are some great wines on the market from all over the world.

I have begun to wonder if I should begin  to score wines numerically on this blog and on examiner? Is a review of a wine really enough to satisfy the readers interest on how good a wine really tastes, or should numbers complete the evaluation of the wine? I would love to know what you think; leave me a comment!

I always like to place pictures of beautiful wine accessories in my posts. The wine bags and wine coaster is from Wisteria.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

It Is All About Style and Faith

Interior design has a lot to say about a person's sense of style, who they are and how they like to entertain. I love traditional Italian design. My Dining room has that styling with my own touch; so the china speaks to that relaxed elegance. Sad to say that I have not been using the dining room or the china; but they are there when I decide to engage in a little luxury. I have many pieces from the Mosaico D'Italia - Fruittifero collection by Lenox stored in my server.

Accent Plate

Dinner Plate


Dessert Plate

 I love the fact that the china is earthy, beautiful and has artwork of the bounty. We all should realize how lucky we are to have a great meal, especially one served in style. I always am aware of that when I eat something that taste wonderful to me; knowing that there is someone out there who would love to be in my shoes ( having something to eat).  The economy is rough; I feel it everyday. But we have to dream of a better time and plan for the future.

I love simple stemware for wine. The color of the wine is the ornamentation for the glass in my opinion. I love the Tuscany Classics Collection by Lenox. The weight is good and the bowls are large enough to "swirl" my big reds like Merlot, Syrah, Zinfandel, Meritages and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Tuscany Classics® Crystal Grand Bordeaux Wine Glasses by Lenox, Set of 4

Personal Note of Humility: I remember when I wanted to build a house in the 1990's in my hometown of New Orleans.There was not a lot of money, but there was a dream. The dream was to have a beautiful home that my family would be comfortable in and be proud to call home. I got a plain old school notebook and cut out pictures of furniture, lighting and all kinds of home ideas and pasted them in the notebook. I added notes and called it my Dream House Ideas. Well those ideas came int fruition in the December of 1999. I had almost five years of living in my home and sharing it with family and friends. I began my wine and food writing at my kitchen desk in that house in New Orleans in the early spring of 2005.

I started a newsletter entitled Life's Little Luxuries Newsletter. My friends and I had wine tastings and I prepared appetizers and meals to introduce them into the world of wine. Those were great times; the ladies always really enjoyed those wine gatherings. I even had a built in wine cellar in my kitchen, this let people know that I was serious about my wine! The wine cooler was in black in the old house, because I was iffy about this new thing called "stainless steel" in the late 90's. So this is kinda what the old one looked like.

KitchenAid Wine Cooler

Then the summer of 2005 erased it all with Hurricane Katrina. So, I started over three years ago in another home, not a custom built home, but my new home. I planned and made some progress in making this house our home, and all things came to a halt after my job ended in my new home in Little Rock, AR. So, planning is a way of maintaining faith, while having all ideas ready to go into action when things get better.

Italian design is a "relaxed elegance" with earthy colors that are just so real to me. I watched the movie Under The Tuscan Sun and loved the landscape, homes and furniture; it all had a "sense of place". I also love this plaque; it really speaks that a wine lover lives in the space.

I love this eye catching vignette of a dining room. It just looks like Tuscany.Tuscan Villa

Well, I just wanted you to get a peep into my decorating style. Send me a comment and let me know what's your style...

Friday, November 19, 2010

Thanksgiving Day Starters

For those of you who like to have starters with your meal, but want to make them ahead or just make a quick platter; here are a few of my suggestions. I love this recipe for Spinach and Artichoke Pinwheels because you can make it ahead and it is tasty http://www.mykitchenvault.com/blog.php?id=87.  I like to pair it with Rodney Strong's 2009 Charlotte's Home Sauvignon Blanc.
This wine won't break the bank and is sure to please your guests. http://www.rodneystrong.com/

Garrotxa Cheese

Another wine to try is a sparkling wine with a nice piece of Garrotxa cheese broken into chard's. Try it with this sparkling wine by Roederer Estate Sparkling Wine.

There are so many wonderful small bites that you can pick up at a specialty food store like your local Fresh Market or Whole Foods store like olives small sausages, pate`s, and cornichons. I love the cornichons by the 3 pigs. http://www.3pigs.com/

Try a few of these ideas and let me know!


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Wine and Food Related Videos

I wish that there were more movies that the focus was  food and wine. Most Oenophiles and Foodies love to see their passions on the silver screen. We all know bout the movie Sideways that made Merlot have a bad name and Pinot Noir a star. There have been other wine movies, but I have one to be enjoyable as Sideways.

Food movies are limited as well. So far the movie Julie & Julia is my favorite. I think I love the passion the two women have for food and life and the fact that both of their husbands were so supportive of their passion. Julie is a character that I can relate to; she has a passion for cooking, entertaining and she realizes that she has knowledge that is valuable to others. I am so glad that I have readers who read my work on different sites. I'm reminded from time to time by my readers that they value me, and that means more than words can ever say...

Andrea Immer Robinson is the go to sommelier to learn about wine in a relaxed, but educational forum. So check out her DVD; it is available online at http://www.amazon.com/.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

All Those Pretty Things We Love

I love beautiful things that you can actually use in the kitchen and to entertain with. The holidays always make me take into account the things I have and the things I would love to have.
Mind you most of the things for some reason cost a bundle; can't a girl dream... Here is an example of the splurge item in my dream world.

This Ruffoni stockpot can be purchased at Williams and Sonoma http://www.williams-sonoma.com/shop/cookware/cookware-ruffoni/

 But, there are a few online websites that have nice serving pieces, like bowls and platter that are affordable, one case in point Crate and Barrel. I got my daughter some white soup bowls and some great multi-purpose glasses for an affordable price.

These are the footed soup bowls and below is the soup tureen.
I love this ladle and serving set from Pottery Barn; it is so nice and inexpensive. I think I'm going to pick one up to use with my gumbo and side dishes for the holidays.  
And let us not forget a beverage bucket. This one is from Wisteria.

Imagine how well your white, rose` and sparkling wines will look in this beverage bucket. There are so many pretty things that a food and wine lover would love to have in their home. Those pretty things say a lot about you and how you care for your guests. Entertaining should be an experience. I have to add this wine stopper again; I love it!
Since I'm from New Orleans, the Fleur de Lis means a lot to me; it is a part of who I am. Also music sets the mood to showcase those pretty things and just plain old good hospitality. I love this CD "Pure" by Boney James. It is so relaxing and classy!
So, relax, cook, sing, sip and have a happy holiday!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Thanksgiving and Wine How Divine

Tip: Try this brining blend to make your turkey flavorful and moist! http://www.vgourmet.com/
I used half of my jar on a large chicken and it was so good!

Well, the holidays are approaching, first Thanksgiving, then Christmas and my favorite New Years Eve. I want to give you a few of my wine picks to pair with all the great food that will grace the dining room buffet and table on Thanksgiving.

I know we seem to think Pinot Noir with turkey and all the trimmings, but I've discovered two new wines to consider.
J 2009 California Pinot Gris

This wine would pair well with your turkey or pork roast. I also just discovered a red that would equally pair well with turkey, pork roast and beef roast.

Predator 2009 Old Vine Zinfandel

This wine is one to add to your Thanksgiving spread. This would truly pair well with stuffing made with pork sausage as well as the roast and turkey.

I have not quite put my menu together; I really need to write it down. I know there will be turkey, and dressing, hopefully oyster dressing, cranberry sauce, rice and gravy, sweet potatoes, green peas and dinner rolls. I need to figure out what dessert to make; I don't think I want pie this year; we will see....

I do want to have wine to serve with my meal and some to serve before the meal. I'm thinking sparkling wine to start. Speaking of starters, I saw a recipe with puff pastry wrapped around brie with nuts and fruit. I thought how great would it be to slather Tabasco brand Pepper Jelly over the brie and top with chopped pistachios then wrapped in the puff pastry, brushed with an egg wash and baked until golden.

Well, I hope that you give these wine and food suggestions a try; let me know what you think!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Wine Video

I like to find great wine videos. Here is one to watch; I just love Andrea Immer Robinson! Video Link: http://www.andreawine.com/video#vid:Week 4 - Russian River Valley Wine Course[431]

A Foodie and her Cookbooks

This is an appetizer cookbook that has impressed me! Hors d'oeuvres by Eric Treuille &  Victoria Blashford-Snell is a beautiful, well informed, instructional cookbook with great recipes. The book is inexpensive and can make any home cook look like a chef, with the simple but tasty recipes.

The recipes give you the baseline knowledge to add your own touch and create your own recipe. You can substitute cheeses, herbs, mushrooms and meats to change up the great recipes. It is like "appetizer cooking school" in an at home text course; learn at your own pace.

So many people are smart, but feel intimidated about cooking; but if they can follow instructions and have access to wine recommendations they can be the perfect host or hostess. This book is a book to have in your cookbook collection. http://www.amazon.com/Hors-dOeuvres-Victoria-Blashford-Snell/dp/0756618886

I love "good" cookbooks; and I think all home cooks should have a few on hand to create new dishes for family or friends.

One final note, have a glass of wine when cooking, it makes the time go by....

And always find humor in your day.. I just love this cartoon; it reminds me that snobbery has no place in the world of wine. If the bears can be civilized oenophiles, than so can we!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Wine and Food Pairing Guides

There is something to be said about wine and food pairing guides. The one that I have as a guide when cooking a meal that wine will be served is Kendall-Jackson's http://www.kj.com/wine-food/pairing/quick-guide.aspx. I like the fact that they include most food groups including herbs and spices. I cook with a lot of fresh herbs and I like spices and specialty salts.  One of my favorite spice shops is Victoria Gourmet; which is an online site http://www.vgourmet.com/. I just love the New Orleans Seasoning.

One of my favorite things to make is compound butter. Butters that are flavored with fresh herbs and spices like my burgers with sage butter in the middle paired with Syrah. Rosemary butter pairs well with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot whether using above burger application or by putting a pat on a grilled steak to add that gourmet flavor.

Fall and winter are my favorite seasons to cook and drink wine. You can have the oven on and the whole house smells good. You don't get over heated when drinking wine, and the foods are filled with big flavors, many in my kitchen from sage and rosemary. I add both herbs in the cavity of a chicken, along with onion, celery, bay leaves and thyme. The taste and smell is amazing.

I also add left over white wine while roasting my chicken to add moisture and a bit of flavor. This also makes for a great stock. I add water to my chicken carcass and let it boil for about an half an hour or so; then strain into a container to use soon or freeze for another time. May seem backwards, but all those great flavors are in the stock and the color is beautiful.  I used this stock to make a chicken and sausage gumbo and it came out great. I would also use it for soup and to add to a stuffing for the holidays.

Rutherford Ranch 2008 Merlot

Cahill Porter

I want to revisit the pairing of red wine like Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot with Cahill Porter cheese. This cheese is so interesting in its look and flavor. You can pair it with a merlot or cabernet sauvignon.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Holiday Appetizers with Wine

Iron Horse 2006 Wedding Cuvee

I just love having appetizers that I can make in advance, thaw, bake and serve to my guests, especially around the holidays. Everyone is so busy, but they still appreciate a gourmet treat! What better way to greet a guest who stops by for a cocktail or for dinner that with a great appetizer and a glass of sparkling wine. I love oysters, and some people don't. But, with my oyster appetizer recipe they won't even realize that it's oysters because they are chopped; all they will realize is how great the appetizer goes with sparkling wine or champagne.

Lorrie's Oyster Appetizers
  • (1) 16 oz. container of oysters, drained and chopped (I pulsed them about 7-
  • 8 times in the food processor)
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup of mixed seasoning (I used fresh Italian parsley, yellow onion, celery)
  • 1/4 teaspoon or more to taste of Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
  • 2/3 cup of Italian bread crumbs (add up to 1/3 more if desired)
  • 1/2 can of cream of mushroom soup
  • (3) 2.1 oz. boxes of mini fillo shells, 15 to a box ( I used Athen’s brand)
Melt butter on low heat in a skillet. Then add the chopped seasoning and the Creole seasoning,
cayenne pepper, and garlic powder. Let mixture cook for about 5-10 minutes on low flame. Stir
mixture. Then add chopped oysters. Stir. Cook 4-5 minutes. Then add 1/2 can of cream
of mushroom soup. Stir. Cook 2-3 minutes. Then add 2/3 to 1 cup if needed of the Italian
bread crumbs. Cook another 2-4 minutes. Stir. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed. Fill
mixture in mini fillo shells. I used a teaspoon and dinner knife, to fill the cups neatly. Place
on a cookie sheet and bake at fillo shells heating instructions, which are on the back of the box. About 30 minutes.

They can be frozen. Let them sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes, then heat 10-15 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Bake at 350 degrees. This recipe makes 45 appetizers
Wine Pairing Suggestion
 The Splurge: Iron Horse Vineyards Wedding Cuvee http://www.ironhorsevineyards.com/The Bargain:  Marquis De La Tour Brut http://www.palmbay.com