Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Wine Review: Rodney Strong 2009 Knotty Vines Zinfandel

This wine is a deep garnet color. The nose is filled with aromas of bright berried fruit, a hint of dust, and a lot of peppery spice. The palate mirrors the nose with those brambly berried fruit flavors, with an addition of a hint of tobacco, which gives this wine structure, and the wine finishes with lots of peppery spice. The combination of the bright brambly fruit, tobacco (mid palate), and pepper make for a wonderful and slightly rustic Zinfandel. I use the term rustic in a good way. I think it's unique flavor profile begs for fun foods like sausages, burgers, ribs off the grill, and even grilled pizza loaded with sausage. Another pairing would be a fillet wrapped in a good grade of peppered bacon, to really mix things up a bit. This wine would be wonderful paired with cream cheese topped with Tabasco Pepper Jelly served on crackers as a no cook appetizer. This wine would also be wonderful with a Panini made with beef pastrami, cheese and roasted red peppers! Try this wine with some of my suggested food pairings and tell me what you think!  Note:  This wine was a sample provided by Rodney Strong Vineyards  SRP $18.50

PS I am from New Orleans, and have fallen in love with the Andouille Sausage from our local Fresh Market in West Little Rock, AR. I think this wine would be great with this sausage; this is my alternative to Hot Sausage from New Orleans. It makes a great Po-Boy, and is great in other creole dishes! You can take it out of the casing, and roll it into balls and cook it in the oven to serve as an appetizer; just add toothpicks. Also, you can add it into gumbo, soups or jambalaya for a flavorful kick! As you can see, I love to offer food pairings with wine. Wine and food belong together!

I just had to let you see those foodie bears again! Boy are they smart!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Wine Review: Hess Allomi Sauvignon Blanc 2010 Napa Valley

This wine is quite interesting. I love a good Sauvignon Blanc anytime of the year; but this wine had a twist in the flavor profile that made it interesting and delightful! This wine is a light straw hue. The nose has aromas of lemon, a hint of tangerine and grapefruit. The palate mirrors the nose with those same flavors of lemon, a hint of tangerine flesh on the mid palate and a grapefruit finish. I think the tangerine flavor note added a softness to the wine, without sacrificing the acidity. There were also those grassy and mineral notes in this wine, which are often found in Sauvignon Blancs; but that hint of tangerine on the mid palate really made this wine stand out!  Hats off to the wine maker for "doing the twist!" I mean the tangerine twist, or maybe he can do the twist; I think it depends on their age! This wine would pair well with goat cheese, especially fresh goat cheese. I would also pair crab cakes, shrimp salad, and grilled fish with this wine. I know I recommend this recipe often, but this dish by Chef Anne Burrell would also pair well with this wine!
I usually don't put them on a salad; I like these as an appetizer. Try this wine and food pairing, and tell me what you think! If you can't find the figs, I make a bruschetta version of this recipe by using thin slices of french bread, that are brushed with EVOO and put in a 350 degree oven for about five minutes. Then I put a light spread of fig preserves, then the rest of the ingredients on top. I tear the prosciutto into thirds or halves depending on its size and lightly fry it in a bit of EVOO. I then top each appetizer with prosciutto, and put it in the oven for about 5 minutes to warm the goat cheese, works like a charm every time!  Note: This wine was a sample provided by The Hess Collection. SRP $16.00

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Wine Review: Lucien Albrecht 2010 Gewurztraminer Reserve, France

This wine was a straw color. The nose was filled with aromas of honey, floral notes, peaches, citrus zest and spice. The palate's flavors mirrored the nose with an addition of notes of ginger and along with a full mouth feel. This wine has some residual sugar which makes it an ideal wine to be paired with Asian cuisine or pork roast cooked with apples or candied yams with a bit of ground ginger and cinnamon added in the syrup mixture. Another pairing would be orange glazed chicken. This wine would also be good as an aperitif. Note: This wine was a sample provided by Pasternak Wine Imports

PS Excuse the image quality. When I get a better label image, I'll replace it.

Wine Review: arteZin 2010 Zinfandel, Mendocino County

Okay, I have to say I got this wine on yesterday, and felt compelled to open it on yesterday. My son and I had pizza for dinner, so I said this should go well together due to the sausage and the other toppings. I was right on point! This wine was a deep red color and has a slight violet hue around the edge. The nose is what blew me away! I love a red wine that has a beautiful dark fruit driven nose. The nose were filled with dark fruit aromas of raspberries, along with a hint of cedar, baking spices and black pepper. The palate mirrored the nose, along with a slight hint of lead, giving the wine some structure.  There was also that wonderful dark fruit, spice and black pepper to complete the flavor profile of this tasty Zinfandel. The wine was lush and a joy to drink. I think this wine would pair well with red meat off the grill, rack of lamb coated with a balsamic glaze made with raspberry preserves and cracked back pepper. Another great pairing would be barbecue ribs glazed with a sweet and spicy sauce.  Purple Haze goat cheese on a slice of baguette, or on a cracker would be a wonderful cheese pairing. I found this wine to be great on it's own, when you need a nice easy going red to sip. Note: This wine was a sample provided by Artezin Wines  SRP $18.00

Try Bonne Maman brand preserves when making a glaze for your rack of lamb.  Note: This product was a sample provided by Bonne Maman.

PS I want to create a glaze recipe soon with these preserves. I can't wait to see what magical dish I can create to pair with this Zinfandel!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Book Review: The Food Lover's Guide To Wine by Karen Page with Andrew Dornenburg

This book would make a great addition to a wine and food lovers library. I'm a true Oenophile, so books that teach, as well as inspire me really have a place in my kitchen library. This book is filled with wonderful quotes from philosophers, winery owners, and many other people who were, and are influential in the world of wine and food. The inside information provided by Sommeliers of famous restaurants and chefs are invaluable. The authors wanted to set out to simplify the concept of wine and food; how they are so connected to one another by the concept that foodies love food, they know flavor, and how to connect wine and food in the best possible way. I will take it a step further and say, this book makes you want to "think" of the flavor profiles of food and pair them with wine to create wonderful pairings. Certain meats, seafood, vegetables, fruit, herbs and spices pair better with certain wines. My two favorite examples of this is Sage with California Syrah, and Rosemary with California Cabernet Sauvignon.

The authors want you to enjoy learning about wine, and look at it as a learning adventure. There are tips on mastering wine, meaning learning about the different wine varietals and other important information to enhance the wine and food experience.  The authors also provide history lessons and time lines about important events regarding wine in our culture.  This book also helps a wine lover explore wine, and encourage and empower the reader to drink wines of similar profiles that are different varietals. The wines may have similar flavor profiles, but are produced from different regions of the world. There is so much valuable information in this book that I simply could not ever cover in one review; I think you need to check it out yourself to see exactly what I am talking about! This book can be found on