Heaven is in Oregon

Image Courtesy of Angel Vine. Note, this is a more expensive bottle and probably also delicious.

2009 Angel Vine Columbia Valley Zinfandel. Holy Moses, literally this time. Apparently angels on the vine translate to pure heaven in a glass. For those of you who drink red wine in the summertime (you know who you are) I commend you for your commitment to health and antioxidants and recommend that you try this bottle immediately. Or a glass, or a bottle, which ever you want. It’s summertime, get on a roof and get drinking! If it’s as sweltering where you are as it is where I am, you may want to keep the bottle under the air conditioning though…yikes.

  While I was mosey-ing around the internet for information on the winery, I found this picture of Zinfandel grapes (on the left) and Pinot Noir grapes (on the right). Car keys on top. I’m not really sure what any of this means, but I thought it was an interesting picture.

Zinfandels are infamous for their less-expensive, White-Zinfandel manifestations. These grapes are fruity and sweet, and therefore can be bottled in some pretty awful tasting ways. A good Zinfandel, like this one here, is fruity and dry, a little sweet but not in a tastes-like-the-wine-from-church kind of way.

These wines are very much American, this was the most commonly planted grape in California before it was overtaken by the Cabernet Sauvignon. And I am telling you, this is a must-try bottle, I mean it. Be Patriotic. Drink Wine.

Inspiration for a Wednesday Night

It hasn’t stopped raining for days it feels like. Therefore, I have been stuck inside for days being subjected to both Bar Studying videos and all of these new tumblr blogs explaining how terrible bar studying is through the use of “memes” as I am told they are called. Clever as it is, I don’t feel as though a Darth Vader Shoulder-Shake accurately depicts my feelings about third year of law school. But I’m just one person. Who happens to think, enough of this already. 

Luckily, though, I have plans to venture out of the house later this evening, and wouldn’t you know that means a glass or two of wine and a chance to get dressed up. I’ve been pretty obsessed with the outfits that a few-fellow bloggers have been putting together, and being that its June, and therefore summer colors are adequate, its miserable out which pretty much opens up my entire closet.

Leandra Medine, pure brilliance.

Columbine Smille I want to be you.

chicmuse.com pure beauty

So, I’m not sure any of this works for this evening, because we are staying sort of on the outside of town, but on the other hand we are having wine before hand so I find it unlikely I make it out of the house before throwing on glitter, animal print, or just “it all to the wind” (get it) and putting on a solo-piece just so I can thoughtfully pose everywhere and think “What happens if I have to go to the bathroom?” 

I’ve been drinking a lot of wine (no Mom, not a lot of wine. Ok a lot of wine) that I haven’t been telling you about and by golly its time to catch up. Also, that gives me an excuse to pour a glass right now, even though it’s not quite 5 pm. It’s for the photo and I wouldn’t want to waste it!

The first, a light Rioja rosé from Spain. The color is what sold me on it (I like my rosés rose-y) as well as the grape combination. It’s largely a Garnacha and Viura, which is a blend of both red and white grapes. It’s easy to tell upon drinking, because it has a lot of body, but it is crisp and refreshing at the same time. I say that it’s easy,  but it wasn’t until I looked it up that I realized it included white grapes! I feel like that last sentence could use a Meme. Plus, look at the color. SO Rose-y!

The other two are French, and I don’t want to overwhelm your senses with alcohol. I’ll update you soon! It’ll be like a surprise!

Patio Drinking Must Have

I know I have been preaching rosé in the summertime, and now that it’s summertime, I am switching it up on you. Sort of, trust me, there are plenty of pink wines in my wine celler on the shelf in my house. But this white is just way too good to keep off your drinking patio.

Clean Slate Riesling. Get it in your glass. It’s not expensive and its beyond delicious. I can’t remember the last time I had a white wine (for this price especially) that was this good. That’s not true, there was one, but I can’t remember what it was. Which is really a non-issue unless I can remember it of course.

You may notice that the bottle in the picture is empty. But all I can say is…practice what you preach. It’s summer, I’m thirsty, I’m drinking it.

I’d love to hear what you think of this bottle! Let me know what your favorite summer beverage/bottle is!

Visual Stimulation to Get You Through the Wednesday

Just think, its almost the end of the week which means its almost the weekend. Hopefully your weather has been as enjoyable–if windy–as it has been here in Boston these last few days. I for one, cannot get enough of the sunshine.

Outtake from Yesterday's Post.

Oh yeah, that all happened. Except dinner with Miranda Kerr, but it seemed so topical.

Just a Smalltown Grape…

Yes I went back to Urban Grape and Yes I bought the sampler and Yes a bunch of Roses, and No they aren’t all gone. Or are they? I don’t have to tell you. But they aren’t, that would be crazy. It’s Easter weekend, which means, don’t drink 6 bottles of wine at the same time. Actually, I’m not sure that advice is really seasonal. Anywhooo…

Image courtesy of Qweddings.com

While there we learned about the Languedoc region of Southern France (see, I’m sayin’ these people mean business) which is the largest wine producing region in France. In fact, it produces more wine than all of California combined. Can you combine California? There is only one state, lots of regions…. Grammar-conundrum.

Typically, the reds are a blend of Syrah, Mourvedre, Carignan. We tried a Rose from Corbieres which was light and spicy. Perfect perfect for summer.

The benefit of these wines is that they don’t come with the increased price of wines from Burgundy, Cotes de Rhone, or Champagne. Languedoc simply doesn’t have the same brand power. At the same time, its such a big producer that there is a lot to choose from!

Go to the wine store, resist the urge to be intimidated by the lack of English on the bottle. Drink Deliciousness.

When The Boys Are Away, Drink Some Rose

So I’ve mentioned them before, but if Urban Grape wasn’t already my favorite wine shop (which they are) then now they are my more favoriter wine shop. Most favoritist. Which is impossible because they are already my favorite. Anyone still reading???

In the last week or so, Urban Grape opened its selection of Roses, and Lord help me if I don’t make it over there today. Every time I go into Urban Grape I come out with a bottle of wine that tastes nothing like anything I have tried before (in a good way). T.J. and his staff have compiled such a wonderful and unique compilation of bottles and producers that it seems impossible to go wrong. In fact, I find it hard to believe there is a bad bottle of wine in there…

But lets just say there is, for argument’s sake. (Assuming arguendo as they say in the intellectual world, when trying to, oh I don’t know, say its ok for the federal government to pick your doctor or, sheesh hmmm tell you how to spend all your money…) T.J. won’t let you have it. When you walk through the door, the staff pours you a glass of wine, starts chatting and helps you discover what you like and what you might not like as much. It’s brilliant. Then, by the way they have organized their selection, through weight, rather than by region, you can kind of guess that you like a whole wall full of wines rather than just a bottle. That way, you are free to discover new wines that you can feel more confident you will like, and if you don’t feel confident, you have an expertly trained staff to backstop you. It’s brilliant.

Image

More to the point, rose. I cannot wait to see what is going on over there and give a few a try. Sunny weather is always my impetus for my first rose, and even though its dreary out, I’ve already had my first bottle, so that statement is irrelevant. I broke the seal as they say in frat houses. 

Which I shouldn’t be saying because the whole point of this post is that the “frat house” of sorts that I associate myself with (if you consider Ivy-league educated, future lawyers “fratty,” which let me tell you, you should) is away on a softball-and-drinking trip which gives me time to finally finish bedazzling, settle the fight with my landlord, and paint my nails with glitter.

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About a Grape

Some grapes get a bad rap. For no good reason. Or because of an Oscar nominated film (now everyone feels self-conscious ordering Merlot).

Chardonnay is one of those grapes…sometimes. Ordering it sends a variety of messages. One can be “I usually drink Box wine and this is what it says on the outside of the ‘white’ one.” Or it can say, “I wanted to order white zinfandel but people are watching, so this is the next thing on my list.”

On the other hand, it can mean “I love delicious wine, and so I ordered some of that.

Ok, so this is clearly not a picture of Chardonnay, but this is my best friend and the girl with whom I’ve drinken/dranken/drunk more wine than anyone, so contextually, its appropriate.

Chardonnay originated in France, and is now most commonly found in blends from Chablis and Burgundy. The old world version of this grape is buttery, rich and smooth. In California, there is often more emphasis on aging the wine in oak barrels, or even adding oak chips to the barrels. This creates a very different flavor than what you might find in the French blends.

Both are very good, sometimes you want a little wood flavor in your glass. Seriously. In fact, that reminds me–Homework.

Buy a Burgundy (remember, Bourgogne) Chardonnay, and then a California Chardonnay. Try them. Taste them. Report back on the differences. If you are really feeling crazy (maybe its Wednesday) try a third from Chablis (a “subregion” of Burgundy), or even a champagne, which is often made with Chardonnay grapes.

Ok I’m teasing, you don’t have to do all three at once. But I’m also not the boss of you, so feel free to do as you please.

What I am Drinking This Wednesday Night

I have to be honest. I am not drinking anything this Wednesday night.

I spent yesterday evening at Korean Barbeque with Kirin and Sake, wandered into a bar and found friends who weren’t drinking and then horribly embarassed myself with my terrible foosball, and drunken antics. My roommate informed us that we fell asleep with the Oxygen channel on full-volume, and I have been trying to eat my way through my hangover all day.

But if I was drinking, I would be drinking this: 2009 Uppercut Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa)

This is a bottle I received from the Urban Sampler, put together by Urban Grape. The best, coolest wine store in all of Boston I swear. T.J. at Urban Grape puts together a monthly four-pack ($50). It is always such a good deal, I think this bottle of Cabernet usually sells for $25 on its own, and it is such a fun way to discover new wines.

Last month, I had a white burgandy that smelled like Cotton-Candy and tasted like butter. It was absolutely incredible.

This bottle was actually recommended to me last month, and I can’t wait to try it. See what Urban Grape has to say about it here. If something changes and I open it tonight, I will update accordingly. Otherwise, go to Urban Grape in Chestnut Hill, you will be so happy that you did!

Wine Tasting for Normal Humans

My friend Brandon told me how he used to sell expensive bottles of wine when he was a waiter. He would say, “It’s dry and full-bodied, but with a light, fruity flavor that goes down very smoothly.” “Oh how complex and wonderful,” his patrons would say. He giggled because he was only 19 and had no idea what he was talking about.

Wine tasting can be intimidating. There is smelling, sipping, swishing, spitting, smelling, all before you get to have a real drink. It’s actually interesting to do at home, and it certainly is a valuable exercise in developing a taste for wine. But, most often, you get a glass of wine and you drink it. And then you get another…

The truth is, wine tasting is not as complicated nor as confusing as it seems to be at first. Plus, the more you drink the more you learn. In fact, I read that the ideal time to taste wine is in the late morning when your taste buds are the most sensitive. All the more reason that I should be in the food & wine industry. I could drink professionally in the late morning no problem, and I love learning-by-doing.

Obviously not during late morning...

Here is the thing: You want to be serious about this, but you also don’t want to be the guy/girl in khaki pants smelling the cork and spitting wine into your water-glass, and then saying “Oh marvelous, it’s a medium, light, full-bodied wine.” Quick advice: If you don’t know what to say about a wine, just say “Wow.” Then wait to see what other people say. You can go with the “Wow, unexpectedly delicious,” or “Wow, who would drink this.”

So find below some basic wine tasting terms and what they mean in real life: 

  1. Smell/Nose/Aroma/Bouquet: In terms of wine tasting, these terms all generally mean the same thing–the sensation of smelling the wine. Practically, aroma relates more to the smell of the grapes and bouquet speaks more to the “wine” itself, or the result of fermentation and bottling. Any of you who know the difference between trash on day 1 and trash on day 5 might understand the difference. Gosh, what is it with me and the foot and trash and food combination, gross!
  2. Body: This is the weight of the wine in your mouth. Think of the difference between water and milk, or syrup. Full-bodied wines will coat your mouth and throat like syrup or cream, while light-bodied wines will disappear after you swallow, like water or skim-milk.
  3. Flavor: Technically, this falls into one of four categories: Sweet, sour, bitter, and salty. But there is potentially a fifth one, Umami, which is Japanese for “savory” and can be found in things like soy sauce, mushrooms, anchovies, and parmesan cheese. Some standard ways of describing the flavors of White Wines are: buttery, fruity, flowery, earthy (think stone, straw, minerals and other things you would only taste if you fell down), and nutty (almond, hazelnut). Some common Red Wine flavors are: fruity (more berries on this side), chocolate, spice (pepper, cinnamon, clove), earthy (think falling down somewhere wet, moss, soil), vegetables (mushrooms, olives, truffle).
  4. Finish: This is the lasting sensation that the wine leaves with you after you swallow. This can be in your nose and in your mouth. One way to test the finish is to swallow, and then breathe out through your nose. A long finish means you will still feel the smell and taste of the wine, a short finish means you will be left with very little flavor or aroma. Typically, a long finish that is “balanced” or not overwhelmingly one of the sensations indicates a higher quality wine. Be careful here: On the one hand, you want to pick a higher quality wine, on the other hand, you don’t want to be the guy breathing wine out of his nose and then saying “Oh the finish, what a long finish.”

After that, it’s all up to you. Drink what you like, drink what you don’t (just drink it faster). Don’t let anyone intimidate you. There is nothing to say that an expensive, or full-bodied wine is necessarily high-quality. Try to learn, and describe the flavors and you will be amazed what you can taste.

Lastly, I am aware that based on some of the phrasing I used in this post, it is only appropriate to end with Brass Slammer  Lincoln Log  Princess Sophia  Blue-Veined Junket Pumper  Richard Johnson  Ralph the Fur Faced Chicken  Harry and the Hendersons  Russell the Love Muscle you guys are gross, and yes I googled those. Look at what you made me into…

What I am Drinking on a Wednesday Night

So it’s Wednesday night, your morning class was substituted for a noon lecture from a man who was recently convicted of insider trading (never ever ever do it), and your friends are over drinking beer. What do you do? Go for a bottle of red that says, “Hey, I can drink beer with the guys, but instead I’m going to drink this because I’m smarter than you.” That bottle is a 2008 Bodegas Luzon “Luzon” Jumilla. It is a Spanish red–a blend of Monastrell and Syrah. Also, a 2007 vintage from this producer won “Wine of the Year” by Wine Enthusiast last year. Whoa, fancy for a Wednesday…

http://www.bodegasluzon.com/

I’ll admit, I was drawn to this bottle because of the label, but it is amazingly drinkable. Fruity without being sweet, plenty of volume without being   overpowering. It can stand up to pizza (or any other Wednesday night meal), but is mild enough to survive a dinner of whatever leftovers you have from Tuesday. Stay tuned for a real-person breakdown of wine tasting terms.

To be honest, I had chips and chocolate covered peanuts (part of a four pound snack basket from my Grandma Evie) and a glass or three while I yelled at the Top Chef judges on the almost-finale. I don’t want to spoil anything, but let’s just say the final meal is going to have more fried food than I care to see…

Also, being that I have expensive taste in all things clothing (Give it to me), I thought I would balance it out with a well-priced bottle. Much to my surprise, the $11 I paid for it is well over market, get it for $7 here. See what I do for you?!? I bring the fancy all the time.