Summer, summer, summertime! Memorial Day is upon us! Some consider it the official beginning of summer. Pools open, the beach traffic in this part of the country starts to pick up, and vacation plans are executed. We've anxiously anticipated its arrival and now it's here! This weekend, I hung out with The Tipsy Sommelier. Saturday was a bright a sunny day and warm enough to sit outside comfortably. So we sat down with a few open bottles of wine and enjoyed a buffet of crabs and sweet corn on the cob. Our interest wasn't about pairing initially. It was merely supposed to be a social occasion. But we started a discussion about what wine do you take when you are asked to bring wine to the cookout. What goes with what? I ended up with two glasses. Not because of greed but because I was drinking a delicious Cabernet Franc before we sat down to eat and wanted to finish it after cracking a few crabs. Can't waste good wine, you know. I used the second glass to try a few different wines with my meal. (Disclaimer: I am not big on pairings. I believe that you should drink what you like. But since people often times ask, I don't object to sharing the little bit that I've learned over the years.) I tasted through 2 oz pours of Pinot Gris, Muscat, and a semi-dry Riesling. The Pinot Gris didn't seem to stand up. Compared to the spiciness of the seasoned crabs and the sweetness of the meat, the Pinot Gris faded way to the back. It played like a blank canvas waiting to be brought to life with vibrant color. Secondly, I tried the Muscat. This Alsacean style had fruit on the entrance but a clean and dry finish. For my personal preference, a little too fruity for the succulent crab meat but I did love the fact that the sweetness didn't coat your tongue like some muscats do. I made a mental note to have that Barth Rene' Muscat again with Thai or Indian food. Finally, the semi-dry Riesling made perfect sense. It was just sweet enough to balance out the spice rendered by the Old Bay on the crabs and just acidic enough to balance the butter of the corn on the cob. Lamoreaux Landing Semi-Dry Riesling could easily be a crowd favorite at cookouts as it will handle most salads, chicken, and seafood and be an excellent stand alone offering as you sit around the pool. So what's in your glass?
Picky, picky, picky are those folks in a little town in France that make some of the finest sparkling wines in the world. But hey, they have a right to be. They have a process that has been proven to delight our taste buds and heighten our senses for centuries. Champagne! Even the name sounds rich. In the season of celebrations, lots of bottles will be popped and the bubbles will fly. But not all can afford to let the Champagne flow. Thankfully, there are some great alternatives. Each year for Mother's Day, we enjoy brunch with mimosas. Now when I have Champagne, I won't add orange juice. So I typically opt for a Cava, Spain's offering to sparkling wines. Made mostly of xarel-lo, it is traditionally made in the champenoise method. Because of its citrus notes, I think it is perfect with mimosas. Another option is Prosecco, grown from grapes primarily from the Veneto region of Italy. Like Champagne, it is a great aperitif. Can I be frank? Most of us who do not study wine or make this a part of our daily lives cannot blind taste the difference between Champagne, Cava, or Prosecco, and that's being real. But where we all can see the difference is the price tag. Cava and Prosecco are far more budget friendly. So when you are celebrating with friends, family, at a wedding, or just because it's Monday, you don't have to bust the bank account. Try a Cava or Prosecco. Ain't nothing wrong with ballin' on a budget!
Congratulations to our newest Virginia State University Alumnus...Navi Lewis Johnson!
Mark your calendars! June 6 kicks off "Off The Vine with Benita and Terricinia" on May We Help You Radio. Our show will air weekly at 3:00 pm. More details to come.
We are still at it....selecting the best wines for our online club and store. Yesterday, we were introduced to everything from a fruity, sparkling wine from Hungary to a bold red blend dominated by Zinfandel from California. One of the wines that we tasted with a Rose' made of Grenache. When I asked the cost of the wine, I quickly realized at normal retail markup, this would have to retail for $30. What! A $30 Rose??? I had never paid $30 for a Rose' and wondered... would I? And more importantly, could I sell it. With yesterday's wine tasting, we had grilled foods that ran the gamut. We had vegan black bean burgers with guacamole, lemon pepper salmon, and delectable New York Strip steaks as our showstoppers. The Rose' held its own with the evening meal, not that we were actually trying to pair anything in particular. But the question was raised...just how much would you pay for a Rose'? This particular one had a great balance of acidity and the essence of strawberry. Slightly chilled, it was a star under a beautiful sunset. But at the end of the day, a decision had to be made. This is business and as far as Rose' are concerned, I've tasted better for less! This one didn't make the cut. But still looking! So we want to know...what's your favorite Rose'?
Shout out to The Tipsy Sommelier for helping to make my job fun! If you are looking for fun wine classes, visit her site at ttswine.com.
I cook with wine often. My thought is that if what I'm preparing requires a liquid, make it something that has flavor. Water works as it meets the liquid requirement but falls far short in the taste category. Of course, I'm not saying that water can be replaced...you know what I mean. Anyway, this weekend my sons wanted Bratwursts. No problem. I had poured myself a glass of wine already because, as I've said, I cook with wine often. Typically when I cook bratwursts, I simmer them in beer first before I finish them on the grill. Those lucky "brats" got to simmer and soak up one of my favorite beers, Hoegaarden. Nothing but the best for my "brats". As the beer simmered out of the pan, I added Vidalia onions. Once the brats had graduated to the grill, I wanted to make something extra special out of those pan drippings and caramelized onions. So I decided to share what I was drinking with what was left in the pan. With a little butter and a drop of Worcestershire Sauce, I poured in some Pietra Santa Sacred Stone's Master Blend. Masterful! Those onions were the perfect accompaniment to the brats but I bet they would have been fantastic on the bun by themselves (if you've ever craved an onion sandwich). In the glass, the wine is bold, a little earthy, but filled with hints of cherries and plum. It would go great with your grilled meats this summer!
Membership to The Vine Wine Club will open in June. Be sure to join because Sacred Stone's Master Blend will be one of our monthly featured wines. Stay tuned for membership information and upcoming events by following us on Twitter and on Facebook.